Chickens and Sewing Boxes

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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.

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

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A feather-duster chicken.

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Ex-battery bottoms, and well-feathered ones.

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This one reminds me of Roadrunner.

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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.)

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Cat approved.

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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:

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

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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.

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A Short Interlude

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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”

Villa Garzoni once more

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Autumn has set in again. As if we ever had a proper summer. Ha!
My kitchen smells of hot food cooking, my fingers smell of the cumin that I have been pounding in the mortar with the pestle (or was it in the pestle with the mortar?) There’s a bag of apples on the floor to be dealt with, jars of stewed plums in the cupboard, a bowl of stolen foraged hazelnuts on the table, and I’ve already dealt with the first excess of squash. My to-knit list is underway and growing, and all thoughts of light sleeveless tops to sew have been replaced with more sensible three-quarter to full length sleeved thoughts.

It seems to be a good time to remember that, although the summer never quite reached Switzerland, we did seek further south, and found her, living it up in Italy. Continue reading “Villa Garzoni once more”

An Italian Break

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We arrived back on Sunday after a 10 day break in a van in Italy, driving from the top down as far as Lago di Bolsena and back again, taking in, amongst other, Brescia, Collodi, Manciano and Assisi.

We faced ten days of battling with Italian road signs (which are more charitably passed off as a strange Italian sense of humour, and less charitably as a ploy to drive non-locals onto the more expensive toll roads,) our hair-raising fellow Italian road-users, Fantastic coffee, and the new knowledge that it is possible to get terrible pizza in Italy (as proved by a certain Pizzeria-Restaurant in Assisi.) Despite the ridiculousness of travelling to Italy in August in an un-air-conditioned van without a sat-nav or a clear plan of where to go, we survived our trip and haven’t completely ruled out doing it again. Continue reading “An Italian Break”

A Weekend Walk and Wildflowers

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Since the sky is distributing rain like it’s going out of fashion, here’s a reminder for myself that good weather does occur sometimes. At the weekend we took a tram up to a village a couple of miles away and walked back. In something that looked like a war memorial garden (but obviously wasn’t) we took some pictures of my china-blue top. I’ll put them up in a few days. Continue reading “A Weekend Walk and Wildflowers”

Switzerland Unsterilised 1

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Switzerland is a country of outstanding natural beauty. That much is agreed on by pretty much everyone who has ever been (t)here. Holiday brochures, picture postcards, tourist websites are drowned in swathes of fantastically-fairy-tale castles and cute little villages against a backdrop of semi-surreal snow-capped mountains. And it’s not airbrushing. It really does look like that. It’s very clean, very maintained, very twee beautiful. Continue reading “Switzerland Unsterilised 1”

The Best of Autumn

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So, autumn is sliding inevitably into winter. There are still leaves on the trees that I can see from my window as I type, the now-bare trees at the edges of the garden have protected the trees in the middle, but a few more strong winds and they’ll all be left standing with just their bark on a carpet of un-mown grass and fallen leaves. The leaves on the road don’t get much of a chance, they’re scarcely left a day before the Swiss de-clutter brigade is out to tidy them away. Heaven knows where they take them. Continue reading “The Best of Autumn”