Chickens and Sewing Boxes


A few months ago I heard, by chance, about a job in a workshop that’s not two and a half hours (by train) from The Boy, so I decided to get in touch. A number of emails, a couple of visits and a week’s trial later and they offered me the job, which was rather exciting. And then the stress of finishing my long-term projects in my current job, finding a flat and dealing the Kafka-esque bureaucracy (seriously, Switzerland, Das Schloss is a sort of satire; not something to model your system on) hit me. So I was pretty glad to get back to Blighty for 10 days’ break in the real world.

Unfortunately a couple of weeks before I got back we lost all but two of our chickens to the fox. The two that survived were fairly traumatised but seemed to have bonded over the experience. 10 ex-battery hens were parachuted in to comfort them (and to continue the egg supply.) They were unbeLIEVEably scrawny, poor things (my sister described them as oven-ready, which just about nailed it) and looked rather forlorn compared to our remaining, glossy birds.


The new feathers are coming through, but for now they look a bit like hedgehog spines.



A feather-duster chicken.


Ex-battery bottoms, and well-feathered ones.


This one reminds me of Roadrunner.



A brave hen investigating an equally brave cat.

I’m normally collared to do a bit of mending whenever I go home, because a) I’m often at a loose end without my own sewing projects and b) I’m still at the stage where I actually rather enjoy it. This time however my dad needed something stretchy mended, and since my mum’s ancient, hand-cranked sewing machine doesn’t do zig-zagging, so I retrieved my Granny’s machine from the loft, got out my other Grandma’s sewing box and used them both. (Actually after a promising start, when I actually came to use the zig-zag stitch I couldn’t get it to work properly. I think there’s a problem with a cam – the needle moves both up and down and side to side, but the two directions aren’t properly in sync with each other.)



Cat approved.



Between photographing chickens, trees and sheep, I also managed to get in a bouldering session with my sister, bake two not-entirely-successful batches of hot cross buns and see a number of friends including the little girl who has now thoroughly out-grown this, which I made for her last September:


And indeed, this (which I hope she hasn’t yet outgrown:)



Two nights before I left we caught the end of Storm Katie (or rather, the end Storm Katie caught us) and we came down in the morning to find a branch from one of the pine trees in the drive, a dent in the bonnet and the car’s badge on the floor. It’s been around since Lady Di hasn’t, so on its last hubcaps anyway.



Inhabiting A Stereotype

I thought I’d start off the year with something ramble-based rather than sewing-based to indicate my intention of not being a completely sewing-based blog – I seem to have done the opposite of diversify my blog  (whatever that’s called) since I started sewing.

So welcome to the inside of my head.

P1090002-001 Continue reading “Inhabiting A Stereotype”

A Short Interlude


A short interlude in England. Just four days. For a family occasion, as someone said to me, these days we all seem to meet up only for weddings and funerals. Unfortunately this was the latter, but keeping up with family is always a pleasure.

In amongst the preparations and faffing, we all managed to get out for a walk in the Sunday afternoon sun. At this time of year, afternoon sunlight (if you can get it) is lovely and hazy, wonderful for taking photos. Continue reading “A Short Interlude”

Chick chick chick chick chicken (lay a little egg for me)


Our family has always had a bit of a thing about chickens. At least I think it has. Anyway, we’ve always had chickens, and at some point, when we were looking for a present (particularly for my mother,) we’d go with anything chicken-themed. Continue reading “Chick chick chick chick chicken (lay a little egg for me)”

How to make English Tea


I remembered an article by Douglas Adams that I read in The Salmon of Doubt. I was going to quote it for this post, but when I re-read it, I found that it advocated the use both of Earl Grey tea, and of teabags. Now I don’t object to either of these things, I use a teabag when I’m making my morning cup of tea: when, in other words, it’s a thing of necessity rather than a proper sit down and a cup of tea. I don’t have a problem with Earl Grey either, unless it is forced (with or without warning,) upon me. When you offer me a cup of tea, I expect black tea. Anything else needs to be specified.

So I thought I would detail here the proper way to make a good cup of tea. So that you will understand why we British like it so much. This is a ritual, so it is a good idea to put other pursuits to one side for the duration of the tea-making process until you have mastered the timings involved. When properly mastered you should experience not only a wonderful cup of tea, but also a special sense of a job well done that is only produced by brewing tea. Continue reading “How to make English Tea”

A Swiss Christmas Market

There is nothing to get the Christmas feeling going like the smell of mulled wine (or, the German Glühwein which sounds rather less appetising to my English ears!) Christmas music, yes, that works too, and a wander round a Christmas market in the freezing cold (with regular mulled wine breaks to warm up.)


I was first introduced to Christmas markets only a few years ago, when I visited a friend on the Franco-German border during “(tis) the season”. Continue reading “A Swiss Christmas Market”

Remember remember

November is a time for remembering. Both officially, and un-.


The first one that crops up is good old Guy Fawkes.

Remember remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder and treason
Should ever be forgot.

Whether or not we should be celebrating the brutal torture and execution of a man Continue reading “Remember remember”

Plums, the second.


So, 4lb 12 oz mirabelle plums down, 7lb 12oz  *insert species here* plums to go. (I’m not good on my plum species classification. We didn’t cover that at school…) They were that beautiful, well, plum, purple, flesh somewhere between yellow and green. But I’d had enough of jam-making for one week, so I had to find another option.

One of the things that I associate with autumn (albeit later autumn than this, normally straight after the first frost,) is Sloe Gin. Continue reading “Plums, the second.”