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Sunday Sevens #134

Late again with this week’s Sunday Sevens……

1. Not the most exciting project to get back to the sewing machine for the first time in a month for – sewing nearly ONE HUNDRED name labels into No.2 Son’s clothes and belongings for school. Luckily, I had some help and managed to delegate all the socks to Mother:)

2. Unfortunately, both little boys came down with a sickness bug for the best part of that week and spent a large portion of that time flat out on the sofa.

3. In between bouts of throwing up, there were a few times when they perked up enough to indulge in a board game. This one was picked up for a pound in a church fair and was a favourite of mine when I was their age. The Boys soon decided it was their new favourite game, too. Does anyone else remember ‘Ulcers’? 

4. We took The Boys shopping for school shoes and had our last lunch out of the Summer holidays.

5. The next day we took No.2 Son to his new school – here he is in his part of the dorm with the obligatory football team duvet set.

6. He soon made himself at home, putting up posters above his bed. We haven’t seen home in two weeks now and, as we decided not to give him a mobile ‘phone, have only spoken to him twice.

He’s LOVING it.

7. I took a good friend out for coffee to Kilver Court as she can’t drive due to an ankle injury.

8. In the shop there was this ex-display Kingsize bed for sale for the rock bottom price of £400 including the mattress. My friend snapped it up!

9. Hubby and I popped out to a pub for a Persian meal. I drank two bottles of wine on my own. 

No, I’m not an alcoholic – they were tiny bottles.

10. I made ten jars of my favourite Damson Jam.

11. Hannah Dale’s gorgeous mugs by Wrendale Designs were on offer locally, so I treated myself to four more.

12. Together with the jars of homemade jam, they look lovely on my kitchen dresser.

13. Mr H-L bought a new toy  brush cutter and went straight out to play with it.

14. Sewing classes re-started this week and one of my students made this fabulous apron, destined to be a Christmas present for her Auntie.

15. Another of our good friends turned Eighty this week, so we took her out for lunch to celebrate. Little Barwick House – just lovely.

16. We went with some friends to Frome Cheese and Agriculture Show where we bought some interesting Christmas presents. 

17. As well as all the animal shows…..

18. …..there were fun things to get involved in, like the tug-of-war…..(No.3 Son is in the pink T-shirt)

19. ….hubby was plucked out of the crowd to humiliate himself in the Strong Man tear-an-Argos-catalogue-in-half competition!

20. By far the highlight of the day though, was singing along to The Wurzels. Such a lovely bunch of blokes, one of them is now in his Eighties!

21. Just as we were leaving the showground, the skies blackened and a full, double rainbow appeared. We made it back to the car before the heavens opened.

That’s it for this week folks!


Vogue 1496 Linen ‘Cocoon’ Dress

This is a make from way back in May that has been so useful and worn so much that I just had to get around to doing a blog post about it.

There’s nothing particularly special about the pattern, other than the fact that it is a Vogue original which has been my favourite pattern brand since the Eighties.

I think we can agree that the shape does nothing for the model’s slim physique on the front of the pattern envelope but, on the contrary, I could envisage it working well for my 5’2″ size 14 figure.

The ‘cocoon’ shape has rather a daring low neckline, short sleeves and the length falls to the knee – perfect to show off my best bits (boobs, arms and legs) and skim over my non-existent waistline.

It also features pockets in the side seams, which are a must for me.

I went to a bricks-and-mortar shop to buy my fabric, and chose this linen with a large floral design from Hanson’s in Sturminster Newton.

A quick make, I sewed it up in no time in anticipation of a long, hot Summer (ha, ha!)

I do love hand-worthy pockets.

No bra needed because the pattern is busy enough to distract the eye from any potential embarrassment – perfect for our up-coming foreign holidays where it would be far too hot to wear a bra.

The armholes were an interesting design.

No waist-hugging meant it promised to be the perfect outfit for a meal with plenty of space to accommodate a full belly!

Yep, overall, I’m pretty pleased with how it looks on me.

It certainly has proved to be a worthwhile make as I’ve worn it lots over the Summer – and I mean LOTS.

Here it is at Desert Springs in Spain in May.

Back home in England it has regularly been a comfortable outfit for meals out.

Another holiday in Spain saw it worn even more as the temperatures soared in July.

Paris in August – I’m definitely getting my money’s worth out of this one!

There was even enough left over fabric to make half a dozen little fabric storage pots to donate to the school Summer fair.

Having been away for most of the school holidays, not much (ie. none) sewing got done and I’m looking forward to getting back to the sewing machine again.

 Sewing 100+ name tags into school uniform doesn’t count, does it?!


Sunday Sevens #133

Breaking the “rules” once again by posting on a Wednesday, here is this week’s Sunday Sevens. If you’re new to the concept, take a look at Nat’s blog, Threads & Bobbins, where you can find out all about it and how to join in.

1. Although I am no longer officially a Photographer, I was asked to photograph a friend’s granddaughter’s first birthday “Cake Smash”. Such a little sweetie, she doesn’t like getting her fingers dirty, which defeats the object somewhat – although she did put her whole face in it at one point!

2. At the birthday party afterwards in the local Village Hall, afternoon tea was laid on for about forty guests. Whilst plain white china was the order of the day, my friend presented hubby and I with our own ‘proper’ cups and saucers. I’m not sure what that says about us!!!

3. This was the official birthday cake – how amazing?

4. A rainy day when The Boys had friends around resulted in a good game of the perennial favourite, Monopoly.

5. Another rainy day keeping us inside gave me chance to make some Rhubarb and Ginger jam for the store cupboard.

6. We offered to snake-sit for a month whilst a friend is on holiday.

Look away now if you have Ophidiophobia…

7. A week in, and Flash shed his skin. One for ‘show and tell’ when they go back to school next week.

8. I had to crochet an extension to Fifi’s recently knitted coat. A flap at the rear to stop her licking her wound.

9. I incorporated a hole for her tail and it does the job to a point. We just have to remember to undo the flap when she goes out for a wee!

10. Off on holiday!

Of course, the downside to having less-than-sensible cars is that we need to take both of them when going camping in order to fit everything in.

It’s a compromise I’m happy to make:)

11. Home for the next four days.

12. A typical morning – Mum cooks breakfast whilst The Boys and Dad play cricket in their pyjamas.

13. Cafetière of coffee and tin replica bone china plates – who says you can’t camp in style?

14. The Dogs LOVE camping too.

15. Exmoor means lots of good walking to work up an appetite for those inevitable cream teas.

16. We forgot to take the dog carrier I made a while back but, luckily, there was a bric-a-brac stall in a nearby church that had one for sale for just £3.50.

17. Whenever Fifi started lagging behind, we could just pop her in the carrier for a while – perfect!

Trouble is, it took twice as long to walk anywhere as everyone just wanted to stop and cuddle her…

18. She also curled up on my handbag and stole a quick nap each time we stopped for a tea break.

19. Happily, our recent decision to go gluten-free didn’t impact us much when we ate out. So many more places are allergy aware in recent years that we had no problem finding something on every menu. This lemon drizzle cake was as good as a normal one.

20. And with local clotted cream on, it tasted even better!

21. We had lunch at a National Trust cottage in the middle of nowhere….

22. ….and even they offered GF bread and cakes, so no one missed out.

23. Another National Trust property which, although I’ve passed many a time, I didn’t realise was a shop as well.

24. Full to the brim with Exmoor-crafted goodies – I was in there ages chatting to the chap who leases it from the Trust.

25. Do you want to see what I bought?

This is a high-pitched dog whistle crafted from the antlers of an Exmoor Red Deer.

Fifi is almost totally deaf, but I was hoping that the pitch would be high enough for her to hear, the idea being that I could attract her attention if I needed to. She responds to basic sign language and will follow a finger to wherever it is pointed – if I can get her attention in the first place.

She can’t hear it AT ALL.

Still, it’s a nicely crafted souvenir – maybe I could train The Boys….?

26. Saw this beautiful but deadly Fungus on a woodland walk.

27. We spent our time swimming in the freezing rivers by day…

28. ….and walking on the pebbled beaches in the warm nights.

29. All in all we had a totally wonderful Bank Holiday weekend………..and not a drop of moisture fell from the virtually cloud-free sky the entire time!

Hope your Bank Holiday was as unusually dry, sunny AND warm as ours was:)


Sunday Sevens #132

Linking up with Natalie at Threads and Bobbins for this week’s Sunday Sevens – a weekly blog series in photos.

1. Progress on the ‘Scrappy’ blanket has been good.

Although I had to buy five more balls of yarn so it’s no longer strictly a scrappy blanket.

2. Managed a glass of red and a homemade pork pie at the pub whilst The Boys played in the playing field behind. We even sat in the garden as the rain held off. Still chilly enough for a jumper though. Well, this is 3pm in August!

3. Another day, another pub. Our local has been closed for a couple of months and is now under new management. The Boys took their light sabres to use as guns. As you do. Our walk takes us past this thatched cottage in the village.

4. A pint and a bag of crisps. It should be written into the Human Rights bill.

5. The blackberries are coming thick and fast – I’m picking over three pounds a day from our bush in the garden alone! Good job it’s thornless. The apples are from mum’s tree.

6. A rare Chinese takeaway – The Boy’s favourite treat.

7. I gave No.2 Son a ‘holiday haircut’.

8. I didn’t realise he had this much to lose!

9. Breakfast at Heathrow airport before heading off to France for the week. It took us an hour and a half to drive to the airport and just forty-five minutes to fly to Paris!

10. I love France’s café culture.

11. And food!

12. Pretty street corners of the district we stayed in – Croissy sur Seine.

13. We did the sights, after all, the last time I visited Paris was as a schoolgirl back in 1979!

L’Arc Du Triomphe

14. Tour Eiffel

15. Sacre Coeur

16. If you turn around 180 degrees, the view over Paris from the Sacre Coeur is breathtaking. Here are two of the Littlies taking a break – we walked eight miles that day!

17. The iconic Metro.

18. We walked the quick way up to the Montmartre district (for which read ‘steep’). Mr. H-L can be seen about half way up the steps struggling to keep up!

19. Montmartre is all about the artists – and they are everywhere.

20. It was fascinating to watch portraits come together before your very eyes.

21. Of course, we HAD to have chocolate and banana crepes while we were there!

22. Relaxing with the locals.

23. Lots of good food and drink (again) and good times spent with family (again).

24. Landing in London to – you guessed it – more rain!

25. Still, we’re grateful to have Fifi to come home to. I’ve vowed not to leave her again as she has needed an emergency trip to the Vet’s whilst we’ve been abroad the last two times. She has recurring mammary tumours and a heart murmur which flare up frequently. Whether she’ll survive this latest bout remains to be seen, but at least she is comfortable and happy – for now.

She’s lying on the bed beside me whilst I type this, snoring quite contentedly wrapped in bandages and her little rainbow coat.

Bless her.


Sunday Sevens #131

Linking up with Nat at Threads & Bobbins, Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series showing seven or so photos of your life outside the blog.

1. As Mr H-L was officially working whilst we were in Spain this time, my sister came with us and we spent lots of time together doing ‘girly’ things, like shopping in Mojacar Pueblo…..

2. ….browsing the Tuesday market in Albox….

3…….drinking Pina Coladas at midday…..

4…..late afternoon……

5…..and evening!

6. We spent a lot of time in the pool trying to keep cool both by day….

7…..and night.

8. Good food……

9….good drink…..

10…..and great company.

11. Far too hot for clothes!

12. After trying sheep brains, it was back to more familiar tapas – everybody loves calamari, don’t they?

13. One minute it was there, the next minute there was a hole on my watch bezel where a diamond used to be:(

Luckily I noticed before I went back in the pool, but the condensation had already formed under the face.

14. As usual, our holiday was over too soon and we had to go home – to this!

15. I took mum out for lunch for having the dogs for me.

16. We had family to stay for a few days and they bought me this gorgeous bouquet of lilies and roses.

17. The garden at the side of the house has gone from this…….

18… this…….

19. ……to this, so far.

20. Obviously, to ten and eleven year old boys, it’s actually a WWI trench, made all the more authentic by torrential rain and mudslides.

21. One of the first things we did when we got back was to take my watch back to Rolex for a replacement bezel. A day out in Wales was a welcome result and we took a picnic with us.

It poured down.

22. Did that stop us having fun? Of course not – we’re English and rain never stops play!

23. The Boys spent their pocket money on some old cars in a vintage shop.

24. We had a pint and a bag of crisps in a canalside pub in Bradford-on-Avon on the way home.

There are loads more photos, but I’ll stop there as twenty-four is plenty!

Enjoy what’s left of your weekend!


“Woolly Woofers” Knitted Dog Coat

Regular readers of the blog will recognise Fifi and Tess, a 14 year old Yorkie and 3 year old Chorkie, respectively.

Here they are in their Winter coats, all long, shaggy and warm.

Whilst we were in Spain, my mother looked after both dogs and took them for their annual haircut, and they now look just a tad different!

Trouble is, Fifi feels the cold and can always be found sat as close to the fire as possible whenever it is lit.

She has a variety of coats; here is her Winter one.

This one was a non-stretch fleecy number, made specifically to stop her licking her wound after an operation.

And who can forget this disastrous effort made in rather too much of a rush and was miles too big?

Point is that, no sooner had they had their Summer trim, the weather turned – 14 degrees and rain. For two weeks.

Poor little Fifi spent most of her time curled up in a ball in an effort to keep warm, shivering pitifully.

Of course, technically, her Rudolph coat would do the job perfectly well but, quite frankly the excuse to knit up another cute little number from Debbie Bliss’ “Woolly Woofers” in summery colours was too good an opportunity to miss.

After scrutinising the descriptions and measurements of various patterns, I settled on a ‘tube’ style coat, which would be close fitting and comfortable.

It’s called “Mod Dog” for obvious reasons, but it was the tube style that I wanted, not the Mod design.

Don’t you just love the illustrations?

I had the best part of a ball of “Rainbow” double knitting yarn left over from some project or other which would be plenty for this little coat.

Wool Warehouse stock it in a dozen different colours.

I started straight away. Well, it was howling a gale and pouring down outside, so why not?

By the next day, I had finished both the front and back pieces.

A quick trip to the garden centre later, and I had a set of 3.75mm circular needles to finish the cuffs.

How’s that for a season-appropriate colourway? 

I put the coat on Fifi as soon as it was off the needles and she wore it all night without the need to be wrapped up in a blanket. (For “blanket” read “one of Mr H-L’s jumpers”, because he’s so soft).

This morning I took some more pictures in daylight to show you.

Now she won’t look daft if we go out for a walk, whereas the Christmassy coat might draw a few questioning glances down the pub.

Isn’t it sweet? Although I’m hoping Summer will show it’s face at some point in August, at least Fifi won’t be shivering if it doesn’t.

Perhaps I could make a matching coat for Tess….?


Sunday Sevens #130

This week’s sum-up is actually two – and comes from sunny Spain again. Linking up with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins who invented the original Sunday Sevens.

1. A whole week of glorious weather meant several consecutive days of dog-walking involving both a hat AND sunglasses – a rare combination in good old Blighty!

2. If you look carefully in the shadows, you can just about make out Fifi and Tess wondering why I suddenly stopped. I thought I’d take a few photos of our usual five-mile route, beginning with open fields and country lanes which are always traffic-free apart from the odd farm vehicle or post van.

3. We passed some cattle grazing under the welcome shade of trees. They soon came trotting over when they spotted the dogs.

4. This farmhouse features regularly in my Sevens, most recently whilst wearing the most glorious covering of Wisteria which is now over.

5. The point at which we turn around and head back towards home – the church at Blackford, our destination village.

6. The Dogs were relieved to find a stream to cool down in and immediately jumped down for a drink.

Both dogs were exhausted and Fifi spent the rest of the day snoring!

7. I managed to find some see-through wellies at last and ordered a couple of pairs to be gifted together with the hand knitted socks for Christmas.

8. Work on the decking has started! It will eventually wrap around the back and side of the house.

9. “Teachers’ gifts” are a new concept to me since my last batch of children were at school, so imagine my surprise when a student presented me with this tote that she’d printed by hand for me!

10. End of term barbecue at school, accompanied by a steady stream of drizzle. Well, it wouldn’t be a barbecue without rain, would it?!

11. Places you can crochet: in the car whilst No.3 Son is at football training.

12. Progress on said blanket.

13. We popped in to a café which we had passed numerous times but had never actually been in. They were shooting some promotional photos and asked us to pose. Looks like we’re going to feature in their advertising!

14. Mr H-L erected a new chicken coop and run for the hens. We just couldn’t get rid of the mites that infested the old one and decided that the best thing to do was to burn it.

15. Here it is in its final resting place at the top of the garden. The Girls are already happily laying in the nest box again, after eschewing the coop in favour of laying in the hedge in an effort to avoid the pesky mites.

16. We were able to squeeze in lunch at our favourite place, Holbrook House.

17. Fifteen of us met in a pub for a family meal.

18. Happy 69th Birthday Mum!

19. No.2 Son’s last day at Primary School.

20. I was gifted FIVE boxes of embroidery threads, all carefully catalogued and beautifully organised! 

21. Schools broke up for the Summer holidays later than most countries, on 21st July. Three days later we flew back to my Auntie’s in Spain for ten days, joined by my sister this time.

22. Mr H-L was working the whole time – here he is taking a ‘phone call on the roof terrace above the ‘casita’, his office for the duration. Nice work if you can get it!

23. Everyone needs a lunch break, though, so popping out for tapas was a must.

24. And, of course, long, hot evenings were all enjoyed together.

25. I’ll leave you pondering over one of our more adventurous tapas.

Yes, it is EXACTLY what it appears to be!!!