I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










Sioe Frenhinol Cymru




Shortly after 7.15am this morning, as some of the competitors were enjoying their early morning beauty treatments, I made my way through an already busy showground to report for duty.




It was a beautiful morning and I’d really enjoyed the drive over from Glasbury, parking my car on a hill overlooking the showground and thinking that a hat and some sunblock might have been a good idea today instead of the cardigan I’d thrown in my bag at the last minute.  I love the early morning before the crowds arrive and was glad to have time to stand and watch some of the preparation for the day ahead.




Not much activity in the sheep pens though and a definite air of peace and quiet remained there for now.  Not for long, I suspect.




My work was waiting in the exhibition hall, where the winners of the federation rounds were competing for the Rose Bowl with their interpretations of a “Secret Garden”.




But first things first – a cup of tea and a biscuit in the Cwtch.  Isn’t that a great sign?




It’s such fun working amongst friends and having the chance to catch up with my Welsh WI chums was a delight.   Once I’d finished my part of the judging, I went out into the sunshine to see what was what.




My eye was caught by the Dyfed-Powys Police stand – or rather, their tractor with blue flashing lights!  I chatted a while with one of their “specials”, about my father in law and the family connection with the constabulary, wondering what Richard would have made of it all now?  Police tractor indeed…!




There were loom bands galore today and the craze definitely continues here.




But the real “hot” product?  Orthotics .  Looks like wearing those ballet flats and flip flops is beginning to catch up with people and there were several stands around the showground selling a variety of products to treat the condition.  Interesting!




I don’t speak Welsh though I love to hear it spoken and from time to time a translation brings a smile to my face.  Had it not been alongside the English word, I’d have had no idea what “tatws” meant, but seen like this, all was clear!  Does anyone call them “taties” any more?




By now it was getting really warm and after a spot of lunch – well, roast Welsh lamb and all the trimmings of course – it was time to return to the hall to check the winners and to meet the competitors.




Now, that can be scary.  There’s always the fear that one of them is going to harangue one of the judges for not awarding as many marks as they’d hoped for.  Or maybe to point out something we’d missed.  But when the winning team from Ceredigion arrived, they were so thrilled with their first place we needn’t have worried!  It’s lovely to witness their elation and it’s a good reminder of how much is resting on those few bits of craftwork, cookery and flowers and how important it is for us to get it right.  Of course, it’s only a bit of fun – or is it?  Winking smile




By this time, it was well into the afternoon and mindful of the journey home, I decided it was time to leave.  Not before this cute little bunch had crossed my path, however!  Isn’t it a great setting for a show, here?




I took the same route back to the car park, watching the next generation learn the tricks of the trade.

Time to go home.


The rinse cycle


I wrote recently about driving through what seemed like a washing machine.  Today, in Stroud, we were on the rinse cycle.




Marion and I were judging at the Stroud Show.  The storm had flashed, banged and clattered throughout most of last night and sure enough, we woke this morning to rain.  It looked fairly set in even as I picked her up but as we drove into Stroud, it became torrential.  There was a fountain in the middle of the roundabout on Stratford Road because the drains simply could not cope with so much water.  We waited until it eased off a little and made a run for the horticultural marquee.




There were some beautiful entries and I spent a lovely couple of hours working with my steward, Gill, marking first the staging and interpretation and then the crafts themselves to find an eventual winner.  The whole time, we could hear the rain hammering on the roof of the marquee and we wondered if it was ever going to stop.




By lunchtime, the rainstorm had still not passed over and we gazed over the showground anxiously.  Would anyone bother to come out on a day like this?  We hoped they would, because such events take so much organising and it’s heartbreaking to see all that effort go to waste.




But by now, people were getting a little fed up, even if they were still smiling.  This little torrent of water was inside the marquee and occasionally ran down the back of whoever happened to be sitting underneath it!




Of course, some clever ones had brought their umbrella and were standing underneath it, wondering what all the fuss was about.




Whilst others stayed under their tarpaulin, waiting for their chance to shine.




Because some things happen come rain or shine and there’s plenty of us who don’t really mind if we get wet.




Do we?


Lucky girl


I count my blessings frequently.




I think I’m lucky that my work takes me to some fascinating places.




Places where the equipment storage is rather larger than usual.




But then the equipment they’re using is pretty huge too!  I know of one boy who would have been so excited to have seen this enormous tractor.  I don’t think the youngsters learning to drive a tractor for the first time get to use this vehicle, though, do you?




Mind you, I have a new and rather huge “vehicle” of sorts to drive myself today.  But first, I need to unpack it.




There.  Know what it is yet?  I have several friends who will be as excited as I am at this point, so I won’t hang around any more, but will dive right in.




Hmm.  Well, it’s a big box for a few reels of cotton, that’s for sure.  I’ll go down another layer and see what’s underneath.




A knee lift lever and the first of two CDroms are on a shallow layer which is removed to reveal some rather larger things.




There are a couple of boxes of feet and things which I’ll explore later.




I recognise this as the box to keep them all in.




But this?




I have no idea.




There’s another box to open on the next layer.




Bedtime reading!




Oh.  Is that it?  Surely not.




No.  Underneath is what we’ve been waiting for.




Tucked in, with a carrying bag alongside, there it is!




My new “sewing computer” as it’s referred to in the manual.




It’s a little bigger than the one I’ve just packed away!




and I’ve not finished unpacking yet.  I must be careful not to miss anything, like that little package stuck into the packing material.




It’s the buttonhole foot.  A good job that one didn’t escape my notice.




And there, tucked away in one of the side pieces is another essential part.




I really couldn’t have done without the foot pedal.




Last but not least, there’s a polystyrene box wedged in under the arm of the machine.




It’s the thread holder.




Is that it?  Right now, there seems to be more packaging than machine.

Perhaps you’ll excuse me then, if I go away and have a closer look at some of these bits and pieces?  Incidentally, this is merely the “sewing” part and there is more to come.

Watch this space!


A year of poetry




I’m really enjoying A Year of Poetry at Waitrose!  What a great idea to put the little folders of poems there with the onions.




I’m surprised that so far, I’ve seen no-one else opening them up to read – perhaps everyone else is more focused on their shopping?




I especially liked “Party Food” as I picked up a bag of Basmati rice this morning.


 I am a quaking jellyfish,

Captured quite in error

And now I sit in a trifle dish

Gazing up in terror.

Please don’t eat me with your cake

Or swallow with a cuppa

It would be my sad mistake

To sting for your supper

Another nice idea, Waitrose!


Belt and braces





I finished my travel journal from our recent trip yesterday.  I’d worked on it throughout the journey, usually sitting at the table in the evening and cutting and sticking whilst we watched HGTV and whatever home renovation show was on that night.  I’d taken my usual bag of tricks with me – a basic kit supplemented by a couple of rolls of washi tape and a few stickers bought along the way.




The advantage of keeping it going whilst we are travelling is that I can record all those small details which prompt the conversations later – like the man in the McDonalds by the filling station in Mount Vernon, OH, who came in wearing a T shirt with no sides.

How could I have forgotten that?!  (However hard I tried)  It’s a bit too personal to write about on my blog though, even though it’s those small details which make for the fun and provide the trigger for other stories.




So why keep the blog and the journal then?

Well, I had two days left to record in the journal to finish it off.  Our last evening in Chicago was spent sorting and packing, so I didn’t write and draw about the Field Museum.  Then of course, when we travelled home, all the journalling stuff was packed away, so plenty of time but no materials to record that.   Yesterday, I wanted to tie up all the loose ends so gathered the bits and pieces and wrote the last few pages.  Just as I was about to put it all together, I thought I’d check to see if I’d missed anything and opened up my blog of those two days.

I’d forgotten those awful five or ten minutes when I panicked, but thankfully, I’d told the story here.

I quickly added an extra page and the journal was complete.

See, I need both belt and braces!