Monday, 5 December 2011

Been in such a whirl!

Well, the business is under way! Yesterday we took Em to Minehead and took some pics of her modelling some of my knitwear for the shop. We are now officially trading under the name, 'Country Quality' and trying to promote British products. Pics are on another computer, so they are to follow. But I have been knitting like a mad thing, which is why m blog has been a bit (!) neglected!

You can see us on Facebook at our page, Country Quality from this link...................

On anther tack..............
I was listening to a podcast the other day that provoked me into thinking about things I do to inspire others. It's difficult sometimes to think of how others perceive us isn't it? A few people who have seen me knitting at the bike shop have mentioned how nostalgic it makes them feel, how it is a dieing art. One lady who came in the other day is having problems making a pair of socks and wants help working on the heel. Maybe I have spurred her on to getting to the place she feels she needs help with?
Then I got to thinking about the way I spend my weekends. I remember moving here and thinking that I don't get many opportunities to met people where I live; my children don't need meeting from the school gate any more and I work half an hour's drive away, so both those shared experiences are lost with regard to getting to know people. What else do I have to offer? I looked online for a group of knitters who I could share life with. I went to and discovered a wealth of like minded crafters from all over the world. There were so many groups, both of crafty interests, but some who were quite diverse, apart from their interest in fibre related likes.I discovered that some had listed groups in my location! Knit In Public Day was coming up and I found that there was a group meeting just 10 or so minutes away from my front door! There were a lovely group, from all walks of life, but all with an interest in craft. The weather was perfect and we all met in a park, shared food and ideas. I want more of this I thought.

So I went home and wrote out an invitation for people to come and join a new group of crafters with a special interest in crochet and knitting. Be began by meeting ounce a month in a local church, but then when the cafe there closed, I decided that my home was big enough for us to meet in. So as of about three years ago we have met here once a month. We have a great time, we compare notes on our projects, spend time putting the world to rights and generally chatting about things that some of us wouldn't even feel totally comfortable sharing with our partners. These ladies (we have had one gentleman visit us once, so far, oh apart from a very handsome 8 month little boy!) have become some of my best friends! We number a singer, two teaching assistants, two stay at home mums, a librarian and a warehouse worker. We are from several different countries. But we all inspire one another!
My tip to any lonely people out there is................Look at your talents! What do you enjoy doing? What is your passion? Sometimes you don't have to look further than your own doorstep to make a difference to other people in your community! Don't just sit around saying, 'But I don't know anyone!' or, 'I could never lead anything like that!' I always used to think that, but actually, it's easy! The rewards are so great! Next Saturday one of the ladies and I are going to share a table at a local craft fair, it's great to have friends to share with!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Bradford on Avon

During the last week of my summer holidays, I visited Bradford Upon Avon with the idea of giving my knitting friend a surprise. I went to Jumble Jelly's Knit n Natter Day only to discover that Misselle of the Misselle Knits Podcast, had, that morning fallen down the stairs! So she was unable to move from home that day! I hope you are feeling better now Misselle!

However, I made a new friend, Maplegirl, on Ravelry. We had a lovely chat. I have said it before and will say it again, there is something special about crafters. It doesn't take long before they get chatting together as if they have known each other all their lives.

Please check out Jumble Jelly's website and their activities. Misselle will also be running some workshops there in the near future.

I also took Misselle's podcast with me on my visit to the town. It was great to be guided round some of the old buildings 'in my ear' while actually seeing what was being spoken about. I also went to the parish church where the Millenium Embroideries were on display. This was a work of several panels made by the community for the year 2000 and Elle talked me through the history portrayed in them. Thank you, Misselle! You may not have been there in person, but I really enjoyed my visit and it felt as though you were there! Please take a listen to Misselle's episode entitled 'My Town', it really is so interesting, especially if you are interested in textiles.
Here is the link to her Blog.............

Also to Bradford Upon Avon...........

Here is a selection of the photos I took while I was there.
                              This is the parish church where the embroidered panels were on display.
 This is the very ancient chapel, believed to be around 2000 years old. I think there was probably a place of worship there even before that!
 Below is the plaque from the side of this wonderful old taxtile mill. What must the town have been like in the textile trade hayday? I should imagine the air would not have been so clean back then. But there would not have been so many folk without work as there are today. This was a time when we in Britain had a fine industrial labour force.
Please feel free to go and have a look and maybe even join the Misselle Podcast Group at, a site for  crocheters, knitters and spinners.

Please feel free to comment on anything you see here, I love hearing from readers!

Monday, 15 August 2011

A Little Bit of........................a Holiday

Saturday August 6th

Our ride took us along the canal for some of the route and we came across a family of swans, who, it appeared, were being given an exercise class, by their mother. It takes a lot of effort for a swan to take off from the water and these youngsters were being told to flap their wings as hard as they could and skate their way along the surface of the canal. Scaring as many of the ducks as they could along the way, they gathered quite a crowd of people who were all giggling at their antics. Sorry, I did have pictures, but I lost them.                                                                                                                                                    We rode on a short way and had lunch at Olio and Farina’s.
The meal was wonderful, the first folded pizza I have tasted. Steve and I both had the same, Mozzarella, green pesto and olives.

 We left home at about 9am and rode to Lower Maunsel, where there is a good tea stop, where we often stop for a snack on a Sunday afternoon. From there, we journeyed on to Taunton

After our break for lunch, we carried on to Wellington, trying not to hit any more main roads than we had to. At one point, we touched a roundabout on an A road, we pushed the bikes round the busiest part and were very surprised to see sweet-peas growing on the verge! But even more surprising were the blue butterflies! You can see more of these here:
After a little shopping, we made our way to The Blue Mantle Guest House in Wellington. Wellington was once famous for making cloth and shoes. There is still a cloth business here, thanks firstly to The Fox Brothers, but more recently, to Deborah Meaden of the TV series Dragons Den and also to the expertise of cloth expert, Douglas Cordeaux. We saw many things of note on the way here, but unfortunately, I managed to delete them off my camera. 

We arrived at our destination, The Blue Mantle Guest House at 3pm. There was plenty of space to leave our bikes inside.
This meant that we were able to use the bus, or even go for a walk and know that they were safe.

We spent the evening in the park. The park was given by Mr Fox. It became rather derelict a few years ago, but is now a thriving community project. The locals have made it look really beautiful! Just take a look.................

Sunday August 7th
Today was the reason Steve had booked the guest house, rather than the original idea of the camp site! I was a bit concerned as we were right on the main road, very close to town. I thought there might be some noise issues. Here at home we have double glazing and although we are on a very busy road, now we are used to it, it hardly bothers us, unless something really heavy passes by. But apart from a few young people who were rather the worse for drink, little disturbed us. The traffic was much lighter than at home.

Anyway, back to the reason for the guest house. Steve had heard the weather forecast. They had given rain for Sunday. We caught the bus to Taunton, just to be on the safe side. We were later to be VERY glad that we had! We had done some shopping, called at Olivio's again for lunch, this time Steve had lasagne and I had Mozzerella and sundried tomato salad, yum! But then were about to go for a walk when.....................DOWN CAME THE RAIN!!! It wasn't just gentle rain, no, it was heavy, bouncing rain, with a bit of thunder mixed in for good measure! I knew then, that although we hadn't chatted about it at the time he booked, that he had made the right choice! We walked round to the bus station and discovered that we had an hour to wait for a bus. We had noticed a Miles Tea Room when walking to the bus stop, so we went back there and had a cuppa.

Monday August 8th
The weather was better today. We set off just after breakfast for a place well known to any readers who are knitters and familiar with the South West of England, Coldharbour Mill, in Uffcombe. I have mentioned the mill before on this blog. We have been known just to call in for Sunday lunch. Today we rode the bikes there, which was a first, the other first was a visit to their knitting group. Steve was quite insistent that we should go, when we discovered a sign outside the shop saying that the meetings were on a Monday. We both really enjoyed the company of the ladies, although we were sorry to have missed our friend Shani (Dyeverse).

Whoever does the gardening at the mill, does a great job!

Tues 9th
Once again, the weather looked unpredictable. I had wanted to visit the yarn shop in Honiton. I had been told by the gentleman at The Natural Dye Studio, that the shop was worth a visit. So we caught the bus there. The yarn shop was indeed very well stocked and the lady was very helpful.

We then found a lovely place to eat, by this time it was raining quite hard.

 The Cafe, also a deli, was called Champers.
 We tried their salad with homemade fishcakes, they were delicious!  We were told by some locals that this is the best place to eat in Honiton! They also have a fine selection of local cheeses, Tom's Pies and other goodies. We shall be back!

  We spent over an hour in Honiton's Museum. I was interested to know more about the special lace that used to be made there. We were privileged to meet Pat Perryman. You will have seen her if you watched the BBC series, Edwardian Farm, she was showing Ruth Goodwin how to make Honiton Lace.

 Honiton lace is special, worked by hand from the back the motifs are appliquéd to the background, usually net, and, historically, also worked by hand. Pat has been making lace for over 40 years! She said it is a skill that has taken her all over the world. She showed us the cuffs and jabot (collar and frill), that she made for The Speaker of The House of Commons. She said that she was very disappointed when the present speaker refused to wear them! Click below to see the Speaker's lace:

Also amongst the present lace collection, is a neglegee, once belonging to Mrs Wallace Simpson. The lace on it was made in Honiton and is much older than the nightdress. Here is a link where you should be able to see a picture:

Wednesday August 10th
We set off on the bikes to find a nature reserve that Steve had found on the map at a place called Holywell Lake. When we got there, it looked as though someone had bought the land and it was no longer available to the public. Feeling a little frustrated, we went back to Wellington, where we had lunch at Café Licious.

We were aiming to have tea in The Strand Stores, as we noticed when we were on the bus, a sign saying ‘Heavenly Cream Teas’. The opening hours told us that they closed at 7pm, so being rather early for a meal, we went for a walk along the river. We found the site of the old railway line that ran through the villages we had ridden through, from Wellington.

We suddenly realised that there was a bull in amongst this herd of Devon Reds, However, he was fine with people walking through his field, as the footpath ran through his patch, I guess he was used to human company.

Then back to the local pub, The Culm Valley, once the Railway Hotel (who were happy to serve us a drink, but said they were about to close), so we took our drink out into the hot sun and relaxed and I knitted, while we drank our ice-cold beverages.
After relaxing in the very warm sun for a while, we went back to The Strand and had some cake and tea. I had carrot cake which was lush! Steve had bakewell tart with fruit in the base rather than jam, he said it was excellant!

Here is a link to the shop: ( as soon as they have a site, I will add the link here!)

They not only do meals, but sell mostly local fruit and vegetables, items you would not necessarily find in your local deli as well as canned and packaged goods. They were very accommodating to us, as they had a table booked for a party of 6, and space is at a premium, but they managed to find an extra chair or two and squeeze us in.

Thurs 11th
The weather once again, was a bit not looking settled, so we chose the bus again. We went to Seaton this time, not really for the destination, just for the ride. We saw some beautiful countryside to get there and went through some lovely little villages before arriving in Seaton. The weather was pretty bad by the time we arrived and so we spent the time in the Terrace Arts Cafe. Here is a link:

There is a basement which is under construction, where they hold poetry reading and art classes. I think there is also to be a beauty therapist as well. The walls are covered in art. The old tram rides there, were being used even though it was raining. People were so keen to ride, they were even sitting in the open topped trams! Here is a link to the trams:

All in all, this was a great holiday. Some have laughed when we told them how close to home we were staying, probably not more than 14 miles from our front door. However, we didn’t spend hours waiting for a flight, stuck in an airport, our accommodation was first class, we didn’t get stuck in traffic, or stressed over the length of time we took getting from a to b. Our holiday began as soon as we left home and didn’t finish until we put the bikes in the garage. Great memories of a great time! Thanks Steve!

Once the bus was in, we travelled back to Honiton for lunch, once again in Champers. Once again we had the fishcakes. After lunch we chose some cheese to take with us, to eat in the evening, with some oatcakes. The staff was very helpful, offering us a taste before we bought. I think all the cheeses were local. There were also some locally made pies, Tom’s Pies, which we had earlier heard a couple of locals discussing, so we assume they are pretty good too!

Fri 12th
Today we took a bike ride over to Hemyock Castle. We had seen it from the bus and thought it looked as if it warranted a visit. We had seen signs for the Castle, the Car Park, but unfortunately had missed the bit at the bottom of the notice that said ‘telephone for a viewing’. I tried the phone number, but only got an answering machine. So we took a couple of pictures from the outside.

The church stands right opposite the castle, we sat between the two while I tried to get an answer on the phone so that we could do a tour. Never mind, we don’t live far away, we will have to see if e can book a visit another time.
Then, just before we were into home territory, we came across these small animals.........


Friday, 5 August 2011

For Vintage British Bike Enthusiasts!

During a car journey last Sunday, look who was filling up at the same garage.....................

Beautiful eh?
Of course, as Steve says," That's the trouble with British stuff, it just doesn't last!", (lol!) erm, yeah right!