Jonathan: Renovation of our house here at An Garradh Mor stumbles fitfully towards the finishing line. As time allows, various treasures that have been stored away for years, or moved countless times from one nook or corner to another, are being installed in their old locations (albeit fixed to a completely re-built wall!) or have been found new ones. This morning Denise came across this framed cross-stitch sampler, that’s been returned to the just-right-for-it space in the kitchen it was first put up almost ten years ago shortly after my Mum passed away. I don’t know whether this sampler was to a bought pattern, or whether Mum designed it herself making reference to patterns for individual motifs, but certainly there’s a fair amount that’s entirely her own design, that portrays elements of her family life at the time. At the bottom are the three cats we had then: On the left and right are siblings Porgy (with his distinctive dark whiskers) and Bess (with her paler ginger fur and white bib). In the middle is Polly (sometimes Polly Perkins) the little tortoishell, who had come into our lives only recently. Above the line of flowers is a somewhat simplified representation of our canal boat High Sparrows – a design characteristic of boats built of wood in the 1950s for the inland waterways. Mum clearly wanted to show her distinctive neatly painted white water-line, though that seems to have resulted in the boat apparently soaring over the waves below! The three groups of flowers above the boat represent the sprigs of roses as seen in traditional painted canalware. The rest of the work is probably generic in generic cross-stitch motifs. 1974 was the year we took High Sparrows on our longest ever family canal holiday: from our home mooring at Burghfield Island on the River Kennet, we headed directly north via Braunston Continue reading →
Denise: Jonathan’s been picking gooseberries most evenings of late, topping-and-tailing them and putting them in the freezer before bed time. The desert varieties (mostly Leveller) are pretty much all picked, but now it’s mostly the desert gooseberries, which here are seen varying from first-ripe (green with blushes of bronze) to medium ripe (entirely burnished with gold) to fully ripe (purple). These are so sweet and more-ish! In another week or two they will almost all be the dark purple colour: by then they are good for eating fresh or perhaps minimal stewing in the microwave (and served cold or warm with cream), but are no longer any good for jams or wines. It’s been an absolutely dreadful year for weather – and everything that depends on it, especially home-grown food, but some things have done surprisingly well, and certainly that’s gooseberries, which are late but plentiful and very good quality. (But alas not plentiful enough to sell any!) Jonathan comes into the house with his hands and arms bloodied from the picking, but he says the gain is worth the pain!
Jonathan: Over the years I’ve learnt to recognize and accept the inevitable, where there’s little choice but to grit one’s teeth and adopt some ‘innovation’ which though ill-suited to our circumstances, would cost more to circumvent than to tolerate. As far as computers and operating systems are concerned, the compromise I’ve adopted is to adopt new operating systems when replacement of the computer itself is necessary. Unfortunately I seem to have allowed Microsoft to entice, cajole or bribe me into setting aside my better judgement and install Windows 10 on a Windows 7 computer that is already 3yrs old. I wish I hadn’t. The first thing I noticed – when it was already too late to cancel the whole thing – was how they were trying to sneak past me as ‘express basic settings’ or something similar the most outrageously intrusive configuration, ‘sharing’ with Microsoft (in fact actually allowing them to use) a huge raft of very personal information – on profiles, contacts, computer usage, location, and Continue reading →