a bit quiet

I’ve been a bit quiet this past week . . . we had family to stay, so I didn’t spend much time in front of my computer, but I did spend lots of time drinking coffee & nattering. 

While visitors were here, I managed to persuade them they wanted a quick trip to Noz to see what latest bargains were in and . . . this is my haul.

BD and big balls

scheepjes big balls

Three big 350g balls of Scheepjes yarn  for only 2.99€ apiece.  One ball should be enough to knit a size S lady’s sweater, but I grabbed three, because at that price, I didn’t like to leave any in the shop.  And four comic strip books (surprisingly in English) for only 99 centimes each. 

Weather was up and down during the week but visitors did get a few fine days, and managed to spend a day sight-seeing in Lyon.  During that time, I enjoyed some sun in the garden, and noticed our bottle brush plant has a new lease of life (we thought it had died last year).

bottle brush

I also managed a few hours crafting . . .

sugar skull finished

and have a finished sugar skull (Sugar Skull ref 3203 kit by Design Works Crafts Inc).  It was lots of fun to stitch and I’m seriously thinking about stitching a second one in slightly different colours. 

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some monkey business and horsing around

Sorry, couldn’t resist the title to accompany a couple of update crochet photos of amigurumi.  More specifically, of zoomigurumi, since both projects are from the first Zoomigurumi book.

monkey progress

Johnny the monkey, who is now a pile of body parts, waiting to be assembled.  I think I over-stuffed the body and head somewhat as stuffing is visible through the dark brown yarn, despite having used a 3mm hook (which is a couple of sizes smaller than recommended for this yarn).  However, I’m hoping to wangle things so that this lower body part is less noticeable when assembled.  Anyway in photo there is 1 head, 1 body, 2 arms, 2 legs, 1 tail, 1 face piece and 2 ears.

I’ve also been working on Leila the pony

pony progress

So far she looks a little freaky.  I have made and stuffed the body, head and white eye pieces.  And head is already attached to the body.  I still need to crochet up four legs which will have grey hooves.  She also needs ears and a facial expression.   Those 2 bright yarns in the box are two 50g balls of scheepjes “piccolo”  that I snapped up in our local Noz the other week.  One or the other will be used for Leila’s mane and tail.  Haven’t decided which one yet but I’m leaning slightly towards the purple.  Problem is . . . I’m planning on giving Leila to a certain 7 year old neighbour, and we all know what her favourite colour is lol.  Maybe I’ll give Leila pink & purple streaks?

Other bright colours in my life at the moment

new clogs

On my feet . . . I treated myself to a couple of new pairs of plastic “clogs” (which I realise are commonly called crocs these days, but these are not genuine “crocs”.  They’re genuine “hipps” – designed in France). I literally wear these all the time, and find them so comfortable.  I reassure you, I don’t go around with odd clogs, I do have matching feet!  This first one to show you two of the pretty pairs I bought

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And I also bought a pair of plain turquoise too.

Not only are my feet colourful . . . tonight’s dinner started off full of colour too.

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A harvest of chards from the veggie patch where we seem to have several varieties growing.  Sadly the leaves were all full of holes or really dry, so I wasn’t able to use them like I usually do.  And a second sadly, once cooked, for some reason, all the pretty pinks and oranges seem to disappear, so all veggies look the same colour.  Still, they look pretty growing in the veggie patch!

best layer of the month # August

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Another month has whooshed by and our three hens have all been quite industrious in the shade of the old apple trees.

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Miss Moneypenny is the Queen of the coop for the second month in a row.  Completely making up for her broody months in May and June.  In August she laid 26 eggs . . . Miranda in second place with 18 and Miss Marple a runner up with 15.   A total of 59 eggs therefore for August . . . more than enough for us, and neighbours have been enjoying our hens’ freshly laid eggs too.

mad dogs and Frenchmen . . .

Temperatures are boiling hot in our corner of France again this week.  It’s approx 36°C here at the moment (in the shade) during the day, and not going much below 25°C at night.  We’re sweating.  Staying indoors during the hottest part of the day, and then enjoying a dip in the spa late afternoons to cool off.  But, also having to brave the heat because Gibbs needs his exercise.

Last week I showed you the floatable toy I made for Gibbs, and I’m pleased to say, it’s holding up very well.  We’ve been taking him to the park every day and the first thing he does is dive into the lake.

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You can just make out his toy, in the centre of the ring of water circles . . . he’s become a very competent swimmer in a very short space of time.

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And this game could go on and on and on, if Gibbs had his say.

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However, we also go to the park for a few “educational” activites.  Including obstacles.  Of which this is one.

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It took him a few days to become brave enough to do this, but now he walks up the ramp, across and down the other side on his own. 

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There’s a lower platform where he hops up, sits and then jumps off.

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And then there are tunnels to run through, hurdles to jump over, tyres to leap through, and much much more.  For the moment, and in the space of only 10 days, Gibbs has learned to do 6 of the (approximately) 12 obstacles on the course.  But what he really enjoys is swimming in the lake and charging around playing with the other dogs we meet.

best layer of the month # July

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Apart from Miss Moneypenny (on right in photo), the other hens seem to be taking something of a holiday at the moment.  Total numbers of egg was Miss Marple 9; Miranda 11 and Miss Moneypenny 17.  So 37 this month, which isn’t actually too bad.  We were able to enjoy a couple of omelettes, some hard-boiled eggs with salads, gave some to the neighbours and I also made some chocolate mousse. 

it floats!

My followers will know that we are the proud parents to Gibbs, a gorgeous Flat-coated Retriever.

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Gibbs is only 10 months old at the moment, and still putting on muscle.  Like all pups, he’s full of beans, and needs lots of exercise and intellectual stimulus to keep him healthy and happy.  And, like most Retrievers, one of his favourite pass times, is to splash around in water.

Now . . . there’s a huge dog park, at the kennels where we bought him.  You have to pay to go there, so we’ve taken out a subscription which gives us entry to the park all day and every day.  Living in the countryside, it might seem wierd to have paid out, to exercise the dog, but the park is HUGE . . . has a couple of lakes, and an agility course.  It’s also a great place for Gibbs to meet other dogs and socialise in.  While we enjoy a good natter with other dog-owners.

Anyway . . . Gibbs loves for us to throw a stick into the lake, and jumps in to swim after it and fetch.   However,  one stick looks very much like another, and he sometimes gets confused, when surrounded by several floating bits of wood, as to what it is he’s supposed to be retrieving.  I went on-line, to see if there were any specific floating toys for water-dogs.  There are, but I was loathe to pay out and started wondering how I could make my own.  My friend, Avis, came up with a brilliant idea.  An empty plastic bottle!  Genius, why didn’t I think of that?

A quick rummage in the recycle bin where I fished out an empty bottle of dairy cream.  An hour with my crochet hook and some cheap acylic yarn, and voilà!

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I just crocheted a circle the same size as the base of my bottle then crocheted in the round until I had something that fitted half way up.  With the crocheted base part on the bottle, I started decreasing so it would fit the shape of the neck.  And rather than sew the top closed, I crocheted a couple of chains which I knotted together.  The idea being . . . if Gibbs manages to make a small hole in the plastic with his teeth, I can still open the casing, unscrew the bottle lid and empty any water that seeps in before the bottle become too filled with water to float.  The chained bits, are also very handy to hold the toy by, as you fling it.

So . . . of we headed to the park, to try out the new toy.

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Not only does it float, but it’s very easy to spot in the water, and Gibbs appears to love it.   We don’t even have to say “Fetch!”.  He knows exactly what we expect of him.  Those Retriever genes!    So, a floaty toy (total cost, approx 20 centimes and 1 hour of my time), which is now hanging up to drip dry before we go back to the park tomorrow.  You can bet, I’ll be saving more small plastic bottles and crocheting up a few more floatable toys, so that we have a replacement to hand should Gibbs ever lose (or destroy) this first one.

a walk and some walls

When you’re a dog owner you need to go out for daily walks with said dog.  Yep, even when you’re lucky enough to have a large garden, orchard and stream . . . a young dog, like Gibbs needs his exercise.

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Here he is, now 10 months and 36 kilos of muscle, totally recovered from his recent little op.

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This taken in the shade of the orchard, after a dip in the stream, and before heading off out for a proper walk.

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And, because we live in the country, with lots of quiet lanes . . . and because he’s obedient, and doesn’t rush off willy nilly, he gets to trot along without being on the leash.  He’s just walking a few steps ahead of my husband, who has leash to hand, just in case we meet a passing car or other walkers.

donkey

On that day, we didn’t meet much of either, but we did go past a field and a curious donkey who watched as we sauntered by.

I, for once, had taken my camera, because I wanted to snap a few shots along the way.  Not of nature and greenery, but of a couple of walls.  A strange thing to take photos of, perhaps, but in our little village, where houses are very old . . . I never go past without admiring some of the old stone walls.

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There’s the wall around the graveyard . . . and then several similar walls on a few of the houses.

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And then there’s the inner walls of the really ancient communal bread oven, just in front of our house.

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Bread oven which is used by neighbours, about once a year, for some communal cooking. Although we haven’t cooked anything in it yet.

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And, so you can enjoy some of our blue skies . . . this is the 12th century church, which is just in front of our house too. 

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