Sunday, 25 September 2016

Winter is coming

“Summer is the time for squabbles. In winter, we must protect one another, keep each other warm, share our strengths.”
George R R Martin, A Song of Fire And Ice

We were a bit late to the Game of Thones party, Mr Coffee and I. It was only a few weeks ago we finally got around to watching Season 2. (DO NOT TELL ME WHO IS DEAD ALREADY.) And by the time we did, it was so long ago since we'd watched Season 1 that I'd forgotten who everyone was, so I got hold of the first book, and came across the quote above.

Anyone who has watched more than a couple of episodes of Game of Thrones will know that all that 'winter is coming' stuff is not just about it getting a bit colder. It's about a family's life changing, and the realisation that complaints about kids throwing up in tents and not having enough time to do the garden are just summer squabbles. Winter is coming, and we must keep each other warm.

I made a quilt. It only took me two years.

It's a rainbow quilt, hand pieced and machine quilted, made up of bits of Liberty that I collected during my summer squabbles. I wasn't choosy. If it was even slightly related to the colour next to it, it went in. And even if it didn't.

It has an extra warm batting from the local fabric shop, which is suitable for the coming colder months. Because in Winter we must protect one another, keep each other warm, share our strengths.

My children's strengths lie mainly in recrimination and anger. This enforced familial protection is not one they buy into very easily. I just had a screaming row with Eldest whilst I was actually writing my blog post, which culminated in me holding her close, really hard, whilst she struggled with her anger, her frustration, and both our desires to punch each other in the face.

There's a lot in store for us, this Winter. It's GCSE year. And my mother - The Grandmother, my children's beloved refuge, who lives just down the street - has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

And it strikes me as bizarre, right now, the things I used to complain about. The state of the living room floor. How difficult it was to get to swimming lessons on time.

I honestly don't know how many people still read blogs now, and it's so long since I wrote on mine, I don't know who is still around. If you do, and you are, please no comments that will make me cry. If you like, you can tell me the most bizarre and unimportant thing that you complained about this week. Because Winter is coming, and it will be good to have something to look back on and laugh at our whinging summer selves.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Five things that are not on a Friday

It really doesn't matter whether you understand the title. I do. And it's my blog, and I can do what I damn well please.

Oh, OKAY.  It's from Tess's post, which made me laugh out loud this morning and remind me all about the tiny things and made me want to do my own. It's not Friday anymore. But it's my blog, and I can do etc etc etc.

  1. I bought Alys Fowler's The Thrifty Garden from the charity shop for 50p, which was super-thrifty.
  2. I harvested, parcooked and froze Red Russian Kale that I planted from seed in the garden last year, and if that doesn't make me super-flipping-human I don't know what does. The results are a golf-ball sized blob of frozen kale. I am like Barbara Good over here. (Including the drinking).

    1. I started listening to The Archers. Eldest watches Emmerdale. Nothing is right about any of this.
    2. I made four dresses. I can't photograph them. I've tried, really hard, but the pictures never seem right and I refuse to accept that this is because they represent what I actually look like. Nope. Not at all.
    3. All kind of crap is happening right now. All kinds of potentially life-changing horrible crap. So I came back to the perky space, to the space where I can use kale and dresses and Barbara Good and not have to apologise for that.
    Five things. It was a stretch.

    Sunday, 3 January 2016


    So on January 1 I started a diary, in which I recorded ground-breaking information about whether or not I had managed to do any yoga, and then on January 2 I thought What! on earth am I doing? Surely if anyone should know whether or not I have done any yoga, it should be The Entire Internet!

    Just to clarify: I haven't done any yoga. Not that that was one of my New Year's Resolutions. Not that I had any. I mean. Well, apart from Dry January and trying to do More Useful Things and eat healthier and exercise and generally set myself up for failure.

    Let's see what's actually possible instead.

    In 2016 I resolve not to begin any huge paper-pieced quilt projects that will take a couple of years to complete. This is a part of the border of my Rainbow Nightmare Quilt, pieced whilst waiting for the Epiphany Carol Serice, and I look forward to the day that the nightmare ends. Hopefully in a quilt.

    In 2016 I'll continue to relish my job as Mum's Taxi to a chorister. Littlest joined a church choir some time ago, and allowed me to discover an unexpected love of choral music. Once I week I sit in a pew near the front and marvel at this gorgeous sound. Cub Scouts was never this good.

    And in 2016 I'll continue to learn. Last Autumn I took an eight-week evening taster course on counselling; and I've signed up for the next step, which starts in a couple of days. I have a new notebook all ready. I'm going back to school.

    Monday, 7 December 2015

    AND I missed my Ebay auction

    It's been raining here. It's been raining so much that we made the national Guardian. (This happens very rarely when you're in the North of England). It's been raining so much that the river overflowed, the power station flooded, the electricity went off and actual rescue boats started actually operating in the actual city centre.

     Mr Coffee set off the night before last in his waterproof trousers to look at the river, which had gone slightly insane, and came back with blurry photos of an underwater skate park and some lights reflected in a road. In a road, that is, which was no longer a road, but a small waterway running past the fabric shop.

    The power went off on Saturday night. Those frock dramas on the TV when they wander about by candlelight fail to convey quite how little light one candle gives off in a completely blackened house.

    On Sunday morning we dug out the camping stove, assessed the 'what will go off first' situation, and came up with something based on prawns. Then began the race against time to get the floors clean of life-threatening Lego and small items with wheels which might be our undoing when darkness fell.

    At 3.30pm, Littlest and I started ramming things into a paper bag rather than putting things in drawers - darkness was coming. We could see the sunset over the chimney pots.

    Here is an extract from Littlest's Power Cut diary. (Actually this is all she wrote. It got too dark to see the paper.) And yes, that does say 'arguing' by candlelight. It's always best to start a physical scrap with your sister next to a row of naked flames.

    Oblivion was upon us. We had to actually talk to one another, because due to the huge power outage there wasn't even a mobile signal. The newspapers reported students queuing up outside phoneboxes in town 'for the first time in their lives'. 

    This morning at 6am the house sprang to life. Littlest was rather sad, until she found her school was closed for the day. Eldest was rather sad because her school wasn't closed for the day. I was rather relieved because the chest freezer had somehow held its contents in an icy stasis despite a complete lack of cooling electricity.

    There are families and businesses who will take months to get back to normal; we've been very lucky. I had booked the day off to get on top of Christmas shopping, but with Littlest at home there is little chance of that. I might be forced to sew myself a new top instead.

    Yes. We've been lucky indeed.

    Monday, 30 November 2015

    Ceci n'est pas une blanket

    So I was up here googling for Advent meditations and it struck me that I really should tell you all about my blanket.

    I had this blanket. It belonged to my great-grandmother, and it was warm, and heavy, and warm. Good grief it was warm. If we were really cold in bed or whilst camping, we could put it over the other covers and WOOMP. It was warm.

    But also it was old, and a bit marked, and a bit scratchy. And down on the sofa we were a family of four fighting over one big quilt, whilst I laboriously paper-pieced another which we've been waiting for since a year last August. So I followed a tutorial for lap duvets on the Purl Bee, and wrapped the whole heavy warm thing up in some Liberty fabric I'd bought when I found it for a bargainous price even though I had no idea what I'd do with it.

    Anyway I'm now snuggled up in bed under it and I have to tell you, I am sweltering. But I am sweltering under a lovely Liberty blanket, rather than a scratchy historical artefact, so in these terms it's a complete success.

    In other sewing news, I also made a wintry scene out of see-through fabric and bits of white. This was entirely because a lady at church asked me to, and I was far too English to tell her that I didn't embroider and didn't have time, instead saying, "Ooh lovely, I'll have a play" as if I had all the time and embroideriness in the world.

    And I enjoyed my play; I did. It didn't take as long as a quilt or even as long as a blanket. And it's Advent now, and I need to go find those meditations I came up here to look for, so I'll go, boiling hot under a blanket, contemplating my wintry scene.

    Thursday, 27 August 2015

    Holiday, interrupted

    We're not supposed to be here, but Eldest, Littlest and I are currently sitting on the sofa, binge-watching The Big Bang Theory, and occasionally yawning. It's a quarter to two in the afternoon, and we're still grazing on breakfast. We're meant to still be on holiday in Wales, but due to an unfortunate vomiting-in-the-tent incident the Lattes suddenly had nowhere to sleep, and we had to drive home at 2 in the morning.

    Mr Coffee is back in Wales, gathering up the remains of our holiday. It was lovely - very low-key, with a little bit of campfire marshmallow-toasting, some surprise rock-scrambling, a bit of charity shopping action and a pasty-based picnic in the woods. Also quite a bit of cloud-watching, as the skies darkened and brightened in a completely random fashion; and driving through the most stunning views possible.

    And castles. We like castles.

    It's been an unplanned summer - I think The Big Bang Theory has been the strongest element. Juggling work and children over the holidays has left little time for adventure; or maybe I've just not made the time. It's easy to get caught up in busyness, in routine, in trying to stem the flow of stuff on the floor and cat poo on the lawn. There's a song we've been listening to, after seeing the singer Yvonne Lyon on holiday - Enjoy, not Endure. Click on the link and listen - it's been going round in my head for days and it has a lyric that I really need to carry with me a little more. (She also wrote The Coffee Song - how could she not be one of my favourite musicians?!)

    I've done a bit of sewing recently - it's all very well to read sewing blogs, and discover how people with endless skill and seemingly endless time (and slightly less endless waistlines than mine!) run up perky dress after perky dress with smiling ease. After a bit of a sewing break, I've been trying to be more realistic. I realised that some of my fabric stash could be happily turned into a series of Heather Ross Summer Blouses, which are the things I reach for every summer day to throw on with jeans. I ran up three before the summer, and the simplicity of a summer 'uniform' made me incredibly happy.

    A year or so ago, I developed a serious envy of Nancy's floral Japanese dress, and even went so far as to buy some vaguely similar Liberty print to make my own. But in my heart I knew I would never find the time for something so detailed. Then just before the holidays, when amazingly I had a rare (and I mean blue-moon, hen's teeth, sky-blue-pink-with-yellow-dots rare) child- and work-free day, I came across the Seamwork Mojave dress, which promised to be done and dusted within 2 hours. And so it was (with the addition of some back darts, to stop it looking like a nightie) that the pattern was made, and even some ric-rac was added, just to rip off Nancy even more.

    I'd put it on again if I could, and take a better picture - but it's currently in Wales in our abandoned tent, ready to be rescued by my husband. I don't envy him the task of facing the horror of our tent in the full light of day, but I do wish I'd had a proper chance to say goodbye to our holiday view.

    Saturday, 2 May 2015


    It's raining. Which is inconvenient, because I was going to potter in the garden, and instead I'm under a quilt watching My Little Pony with Littlest. Did I say 'inconvenient'? I meant 'a good excuse'.

    I'm no good at pottering. What seems to consist to other people of cushion-plumping and deadheading beautiful flowers, turns out in my case to be picking up detritus from around the house, attempting to put it in its rightful place, or fighting with dandelions.

    It's a chore, pottering. Chottering? Is that a word? I think it should be. Bringing together the two constants of my life - endlessly doing chores whilst simultaneously achieving nothing - I have decided it is a word.

    I chotter in the garden. I chotter in front of the sewing machine. I chotter around the kitchen. I chotter. You chotter. He chotters. They chotter. (No - scratch that. They do not chotter. If they refers to my children, they spend their lives on YouTube watching gospel singing or adults opening Kinder Eggs.)

    Here is my garden. I planted a flower and grew a chair.

    Here I am growing salad. On the left there, in the biggest 'V', I'm growing mizuna from seed. I don't even know what mizuna is, but it seems that I'm growing quite a lot of it.

    I've been following planting plans from a book called One Magic Square, because I only have four little squares for veg, and I'm not very good at tidy rows. Below is my pea, broccoli and spinach square, planted before I realised that the mesh wotnots I'd bought to keep the cats off wouldn't go over the peas.

    Behold my plastic pods. Getting back to nature is so rewarding.