and another year begins! (catch up)

Hello everyone!  I’ve been a bit quiet, simply because we were enjoying some family time with Mr & Mrs Tattoo, who we hadn’t seen in over 12 months.   They’ve left now though, so the house is quiet once more . . . and I’ll be getting back into my normal routine.

I’m not making any resolutions this year. I’ll just be doing what I fancy, when I fancy.  As the new year begins, I have two cross stitch projects on the go, plus one knitting project on my needles.  And some ideas bouncing around in my head for up-coming projects, which will be revealed as they happen.

I forgot to do a December egg-count . . .

so, using photo from last month, I can say that hens were in fine fettle for December and laid a total of 101 eggs !!!!

Restoration work was completed on the church Saint Georges, just before the festive season.  Following photos taken on 23rd December – just look at that blue sky!!

 

I finished a diamond painting.

and I can also reveal some secret crafting that happened in December.

a set of six placemats designed and made especially for my brother-in-law.  I don’t think I need to add that he is of Greek descent lol.  Suffice it to say, he was thrilled to bits with these.

Three pairs of mittens flew off my crochet hook (using the pattern by Loopy Mabel, but adding a thumb).

in Stylecraft Special DK (petrol blue, grey & black) for sister-in-law, niece and friend.

and a scrappy placemat for the same friend.

Scraphappy # december

It’s the last scrappy link up for the year, linking with

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJule,
Gwen, Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear,
Carol, Preeti, EdithDebbierose and Esther

and it’s the husband who’s the star of the show today.  Like Jon, of this group, the husband enjoys messing about with “men tools” and had his very own pallet gate adventure.   We didn’t have a proper gate around the net fencing on our hen coop. Just used to move part of the netting every day to nip in, but the husband decided we needed something more permanent (after 5 years of hen-keeping).

and this is what he made.  Had to buy two hinges, and fixed it to a sturdy wooden post (with net fencing being secured with blue twine to the post).

It does the job perfectly!

I, in the meantime, was busy with needle & thread, not to mention recycling some @m@zon cardboard packaging . . . and finished off a small batch of xmas decorations.

Saint Georges (update)

New photos today to show you how the restoration work on Saint Georges is progressing.

Workers are still at the “revealing” stage of work, removing the rendering to reveal the gorgeous layers of stonework of the original walls.  And, lovely surprise . . . they’ve put up scaffolding on the front of the church too, and told us the budget does extend to work on that wall too.

 

Saint Georges

Our house is situated right behind a 13th century church “Saint Georges”.  While the church dates back to the 13th century, it underwent  renovation over the centuries, both inside and out, but I believe the bell tower maintains most of the original 13th century features including gothic windows.  When we first visited our house, the location, just behind the church really tipped the scales in favour of us wanting to buy.  Of course, we fell in love with the house, but also fell in love with the scenery.

We arrived for a first viewing on a beautiful July day in 2014. Skies were blue, and as we parked, the bell tower chimed 11.  It’s not much to look at, from the outside really, but we have a view of the back of the church from our house.  We also have no need to wear a wrist watch or glance at a clock during the day because the bell tower faithfully chimes the hour and half hour throughout the day (from 8am – 8pm, with a bit more of a flourish ar 7pm for vespers).

Anyway . . . a couple of years ago, the local council had managed to allocate a budget for some renovation work.  Scaffolding went up, old rendering was removed, and work was done on the bell tower and one outer wall of the church.  The result looks like this.

During that time, the bell was removed, in order to do the work properly on the tower, and it felt very strange for several months without the familiar chimes.  However, the bell was replaced, and we were once more able to hear the reassuring chimes.  Because renovation work is expensive business, and we live in a small village, work stopped there. However, fast forward time to last week . . . the local council obviously has more money in the church fund – yay!  Scaffolding has gone up!

around the back and along another side.  And work has begun.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like the budget is going to stretch to renovating the front of Saint Georges just yet, since there’s no scaffolding on the front.

Apparently there are plans to re-do the paving in front of the church (and hopefully the front itself) so that’ll be something to look forward when there’s more money in the kitty!

 

murder in a French orchard

A very unwelcome bit of excitement in our part of the French countryside yesterday . . .

I’ll spare the gore but, heading to the orchard yesterday at noon, to collect eggs and have a chat with the hens, I was very surprised not to see all three out pecking & scratching in their enclosure in the shade of the apple trees.    Everything was eerily quiet . . . and the only hen visible was Ruby, looking scrawny & hen-pecked as usual, but also acting worried and wary.  At first, I thought the other two were in the nesting box, but no.  Coop & nesting box were empty.  It was only then that I noticed , in one corner of the enclosure . . .  a pile of feathers and a corpse:  Mauricette.  No visible signs of injury, just dead, on her side. On further inspections, in another corner of the enclosure, I found a different pile of feathers

but no corpse.  That would have been Florence (missing, presumed dead).

We took Gibbs out in the orchard, where he sniffed and followed a scent trail which stopped at the boundaries of the orchard and a neighbour’s garden.  We even had Moka, a neighbour’s labrador) out in the orchard, who sniffed and followed the exact same scent trail as Gibbs.  There were more Florence feathers the other side of the fence . . . so with our Sherlock Holmes cap on (plus the husband googling fox hunting habits) we deduce that deaths were caused by a fox even though it occured in broad daylight.

We’d been lucky up until now.  We’ve lived here for 7 years, and kept hens for 6 years.  This is the first time hens have fallen prey to a predator.  Anyway . . . Ruby, as I say, was completely shell-shocked yesterday, poor thing.  Yesterday evening, we moved her back to the hen coop in the veggie garden.  And I got on the phone to our usual hen breeder.

This morning we went and collected 3 new laying hens:  a black & tan, a red hen, and a French blue.  I’ll show you photos as soon as they’re settled in and brave enough to leave the coop.  In the meantime, Ruby is even more worried, because of the 3 strange birds in the coop.

Saying that, it didn’t stop her laying an egg in the nesting box earlier today!  I hope she gets on well with the new hens and that her plumage eventually grows back to its former glory.

washed away

We had a terrific storm with torrential rain the other day . . . resulting in severe damage to the banks of the little stream only a stone’s throw from the house.  Before: photo taken looking downstream.

On the right you can see a white barrier, which is wrought iron sheets, and ran all along the bankside for several metres, keeping the embackment in place. Just to the left of that you can also see the first of 5 stone steps, that led down to the stream.  On the morning after,  looking upstream, things looked like this

Only three stone steps remaining (number 3 looks decidedly wobbly) and the banks completely caved in.

We, and other residents in our little close, have contacted the local council who are going to send someone round very soon to check out damage and decide how (and when) to go about repairing damage.  In the meantime, we’re hoping we don’t get any more heavy rain which will only make things worse.

Apart from that . . . I’ve been keeping busy indoors, crafting for dolls which entails some sewing, crocheting and even some shoe-making.  Am currently playing around with a very small 23cm doll I received for Christmas 2019, and discovering how fiddly it is making things for such a small doll.

Here’s a photo of one of my recent makes:  a little pair of shoes, only 4cm long, for tiny feet.  If you want to see more, just hop over to my other blog: Claire’s Collections.

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not once, but twice!

We had a bit of unexpected excitement out in the orchard last week.

The husband’s bees swarmed . . . TWICE!

The first time, the husband and bee-keeping friend, were too busy dealing with the swarm to take photos (and I was still fast asleep in bed!), so the above is of the second swarm.   Luckily, the husband had equipped himself, earlier in the year, with a second, smaller, hive (that he painted bright red) so on the morning of the first swarm our two amateur bee-keepers were able to knock the clump of buzzing business, and it dropped (more or less) into the open hive. A fair number of bees did land outside

but since the queen was safely in the box, it was only a matter of hours before the ones outside went inside.

Anyway . . . the husband was really pleased, because it meant the colony in his main hive was thriving, and the captured swarm meant he’d be able to have two hives up and running this year.  However, the following morning, the bees in the main hive swarmed a second time!

Same photo as above, just zooming in slightly.  We didn’t have a spare box or anything to capture this lot, so the husband phoned bee-keeping friend again.  Another gentle knock and this lot was plopped down into the friend’s portable hive.  They spotted a queen bee in there too.

Back at the main hive . . .

 

there was an awful lot of buzzing about and general agitation.  Our bee-keepers spotted yet another queen bee already in residence there, so, in theory, the husband will have two colonies in our orchard, and his friend will be able to adopt the second swarm.

best layer of the month # May

Weather is warming up.  Kiwi vine is in flower.  Days are getting long, and it’ll soon be time to move the hens to their summer quarters in the orchard. In the meantime, they’re still in their enclosure in the vegetable garden, and laying well.  For this month, of 31 days, I collected a total of 76 eggs.  24 – Ruby, 25 – Florence, and it was Mauricette who wins best layer of the month, with 27 eggs.

best layer of the month # April

Three eggs snuggling in the nest hasn’t been a very regular sight this month as Ruby is having a massive moult, and that’s put her off her laying.  Just as well the other two gals are being productive! Total egg count for April is 67.  Ruby laid only 16, Florence laid 25 and Mauricette laid 26.   Mauricette is in the husband’s bad books at the moment, so is obviously trying to redeem herself!  She kept escaping the coop earlier in the month, flying over the fencing, then pecking & scratching at freshly sown seeds, which earned her a “I’m going to wring her neck!” threat from the husband.  I clipped feathers on one wing.  Seemed to have solved the problem until Mauricette learned to helicopter up onto the roof of the nesting box, then glide over the fencing and out.  Where she then set to pecking & scratching at more freshly sown seeds.  That earned her a “where’s my shotgun?” threat from the husband . . . and ended up in my spending an hour or so rigging up some netting higher up, to prevent further escape.

Anyway, for the time being Mauricette is staying inside the enclosure, and not getting into any trouble.  Which is just as well since another thing hens like is sand . . . and our asparagus are doing so well, we don’t want any fowl interference.

 

outdoors & indoors – what we’re up to

Something of a photo-heavy post today, to tell you what the husband and I are up to lately.

With Spring in the air, the husband has been spending long hours outdoors!  It all started last month really, when he managed to hire a bricklayer who agreed to come and do some work in the veggie garden.  The husband had this idea of having some raised beds (to make life easier when you’re not as agile as you once were).  The bricklayer, name of Atila, worked like a Trojan, I can tell you!  Digging trenches, mixing cement to lay foundations, then building five raised beds with breeze blocks and laying some paving stones to level up with the path.

The husband was then kept very busy because the new beds needed filling . . . so wheelbarrow loads of sand, sifting & weeding of “old” soil to mix back in.  One bed is already planted with strawberry plants & lettuce.  The others will be sowed/planted up in a couple of weeks time once the husband is sure there will be no more night frosts.

He’s also found himself a new indoors project!  When we moved into this house, the previous owners left a very grotty clock up in the attic. Nothing antiquey, or of any value and probably riddled with wood worm.  But there it remained, gathering even more dust & cobwebs.  The husband asked me to bring it downstairs because he fancies a bit of renovation work.  So I obliged.

It’s not even pretty!  but if it keeps the husband amused, at no cost, then I’ll be interested to see how it turns out and if it actually works!

I, in the meantime, keep myself amused with less dirty occupations.  Have just begun a new crochet project.  This was a “M’aidez, m’aidez” call from Mrs Tattoo.  One of her friends is expecting a baby for later in the year. Mrs Tattoo (who can’t crochet) bought a crochet kit, thinking she could teach herself to crochet and rustle up a soft toy lol.  She tried (bless her) before admitting defeat and asking for help.  I wasn’t too enthralled with the design she’d chosen, and didn’t think it was really suitable for a baby. So . . . after sending her a few links to free crochet patterns for her to choose from, she decided on this.

This cute pattern, available on Amigurumi Today.  (I’ll be embroidering eyes and facial details – don’t trust safety eyes on a baby toy!)

I then sent Mrs Tattoo photos of yarns from my stash to choose from, and we’ve settled on something as close to the original design as I could make it.  Stylecraft Special DK in: Spearmint, Lavender, Grass Green, Clematis & Citron.

And work has begun.

I’m using a 2mm hook to keep things nice and tight – don’t want any stuffing coming out!  So far, I have a head, body, tail and one front paw.  Just need to make second front paw, 2 legs and 2 ears!

Stay tuned!  Baby isn’t due for several months, but I should have it finished very soon.