Which kind of friend are you?


A friend had this graphic on her blog this morning, as a lead into a post about depression.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

I never knew RW, I may have seen him in one movie.

The picture holds a powerful message and food for thought.

Which kind of friend are you? Are you available to listen?


Unplug your ears and switch off all modern devices to actually hear what your friend is saying, meaning and NEEDING?

Think on, my friend.

You are not out of this world yet, and long runs the fox (depression), but one day it might catch up with you.

I hope, if it does, you will still have friends around to…




A family Heirloom

A family heirloom

A textural feast

This beautiful rug was over the back of a sofa, when I arrived to collect Janet on Monday. I was totally captivated by it and asked if I could take a photograph.

“Certainly”, said Janet as she casually threw it on the floor.

“The floor is no place for it. You should have it up on a wall. It is a family heirloom”.

Rug detail

Rug detail

A closer look at the detail.

The base was rug canvas and work was built up in random shapes of rug and embroidery stitches, worked with rug and knitting yarns as well as fabric strips in linens and poly cottons.

To the right of the pink flower above is a small section worked on even weave suitable for counted thread work, and then attached to the base canvas.

With such an emphasis on re-purposing our clothes and household fabrics, a hanging like this, would be a wonderful way to reuse a favourite dress, shirt or t-shirt. Babies grow out of their clothes so fast, a hanging would be an ideal use for all the various textures and colours. It is not a task to be completed in a week. It is one for winter evenings over a year or maybe more. Tell the story of a child’s early life through their clothes.

When complete, don’t forget to sign and date it.

Mind the good chair!

Yesterday, one of those days when unsure what season we were in, so it took longer on choosing my clothes for the day. It was a day for layers. I had planned to collect my old young friend Janet, for a bit of adventure. I can see where she lives from my kitchen window.

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She lives on top of that bump to the right of the wind turbines.

Nearly there

Nearly there

The idea was to exercise our legs…. and our tongues with the odd bit of chatter.

Did I say the odd bit of chatter? I am not sure I gave Janet a chance to say more than a half dozen words. Next time, I will bring a band-aid to help keep my trap shut. ;) I promise!

I was the driver for the duration, so as chief navigator, I allowed Janet to choose direction and the destination for our coffee spot. Our rain jackets travelled comfortably on the back seat.

She chose the Creative Gardens Galgorm Castle, Ballymena, County Antrim. It opened in February this year, so a first time visit for me. They have a Garden centre, Seasonal Shop and the now obligatory Coffee shop.

Mind the good chair_1

Mind the good chair_1

This display caught my eye as we were wandering about.

Side view of the chair

Side view of the chair

The plants are not just sitting on the chair. Oh no. The side view  gives you an idea of how it works. The original seat is long gone and a sacking type fabric is stapled to the inside of the seat space, slightly sagging, growing medium added and then the plants inserted. If you look very carefully you can actually see the petunia plugs, lifted out of the compost by the weight of the blooms.

If you try this please watch dear old aunt Mabel, in case she tries to sit on it! ;)

It did rain:- when we were in the car or sipping coffee.

Neither of us were in a hurry home.

Janet suggested a walk in Portglenone Forest Park. I was game for anything.

Map of Portglenone Forest

Map of Portglenone Forest

It was very overcast as we arrived in the car park.

“Do you think it will rain?” asked Janet.

“Not to worry, says I, we can shelter under a leaf!”

We took the Red route.

Portglenone, in Irish: Port Chluain Eoghain, means “The Fort of Eoghan’s meadow”. We local yokels might tease and call it Port-glen-one, but the correct pronunciation is more like Port-glen-own.

Portglenone Forest Park, lies 8.5 miles (14 km) west of Ballymena. It is classified as an ‘Ancient Woodland’, and has well marked nature trails, with the River Bann flowing through the forest. Records show that the forest was once part of a much larger woodland comprising Mountreivelen, Killetra, and Glenconkeyne Woods.

These woods formed one of the biggest oak forests in the country. In 1607 Sir John Davys, the Irish Attorney-General, described this area as “well nigh as large as the New Forest in Hampshire and stored with the best timber in Ireland.”

The ground flora contains extensive colonies of species such as bluebell, wood anemone, and wild garlic. We would need to go back in late April or early May to enjoy those beauties. These plants take centuries of woodland cover to establish, and provide the wood with its important conservation and educational aspects.

Augustine Henry (1857–1930) was an Irish plantsman and sinologist. He began work as a medical officer and customs assistant to the Chinese customs service in 1881. He was an ardent reader of botanical literature and collected 15,000 dry specimens and 500 live plant samples of flora for Kew botanical gardens.  From his specimens 25 new genera and 500 new species were identified.

In 1913 he was appointed the first Professor of Forestry at the Royal College of Science (now University College Dublin), serving until he retired in 1926. He was involved in developing the national Forestry Service and in evaluating foreign conifer species. These included Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole pine.

In 1935, J. W. Besant was to write: ‘The wealth of beautiful trees and flowering shrubs which adorn gardens in all temperate parts of the world today is due in a great measure to the pioneer work of the late Professor Henry’.


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I have another Janet surprise, but that is for tomorrow!

An ‘S’ or a ’5′

Who tried to bite me on Saturday night as I was in a deep sleep. Deep sleep being a new phenomenon for me.

Is that an S or a 5

Is that the letter S or a number 5

Did the culprit sneak off into the night.

Is it part of the reason I was awoken at 05:10 hours to the sound of my house alarm screeching through the neighbourhood?

Did the driving rain, remnants of ‘Bertha’ pushing northwards from our friends in Hawaii cause my alarm to roar?

In my dopey state, I switched it off, and went back to bed, but sleep eluded me until about 07:00. Thankfully on Sunday. a day of heavy rain, I had no reason to leave my comfortable home.

Thursday Special ~ No sleep

Three balloons: daddy balloon, mummy balloon and baby balloon.

Daddy balloon says to baby balloon, “look son, you are getting too big to sleep with mummy and daddy, you’ll have to sleep in your own bed now”.

Baby balloon protests, “but I like sleeping with you and mummy”.

“No, you aren’t sleeping with us anymore!” says daddy balloon.

“Okay” says baby balloon sadly.

Early the following morning baby balloon wakes up and decides to climb into bed with mummy and daddy.

He finds there is no room, so he unties his dads knot and lets out some air, and ties him up again.

Still no room, so he unties his mummy’s knot, also lets some air out and ties her up again.

He still can’t get in, so he unties his own knot, lets out some air, and ties himself up again, he finally has enough room and snuggles down with mummy and daddy.

The next day they all wake up and daddy balloon is really angry. He said

“Son, I am really disappointed with you, I said you couldn’t sleep with us anymore. Now, you’ve let me down, you’ve let your mummy down and you’ve let yourself down too!”


I have Paddy to thank for this little tickle.


What next?

I finished a couple of knitting tasks at the weekend.

My sister passed on two packets of yarn, each with a full ten skeins. She had purchased it at the Knitting and Stitching show in Dublin, last year. She did not like the feel of the yarn in her hands. It was not a yarn I would normally pick, but the challenge was how best to use it.

Eyelash yarn in random shading

Eyelash yarn in random shading of mint green & white

I began with a crochet needle, but found it very difficult to actually see the stitches for the first row. I began again with a larger needle, it did not work.

Then I tried knitting with the suggested size needle, but that did not work either. ;) I could not find the stitches. It was like I was back in junior school all over again. Grrrr!

I tried bamboo, plastic and metal needles, but they did not help because there was little contrast between the yarn and the needles.. At this rate, it would take me a year to knit a dozen rows and only in bright daylight. Bright daylight is for exploring the outside world and not sitting indoors knitting..

Then I had an (idea)

Knit Pro interchangeable needles and cables.

Knit Pro interchangeable needles and cables.

I would try my largest Knit Pro™ interchangeable needles. The needles are coloured and Bingo - I was away in a hack!

I had no pattern, just an idea inside in my head, but when did that ever stop me? I knew what I wanted so decided to use the circular needles but knitting back and forward, I added extra cables as the number of stitches grew and was happy as a lark with the bundle growing to warm my knees on a couple of cool evenings.

So what did I make?

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I wanted it knitted in one piece. It worked. The only seams were from the cuffs to the mid lower arms. It took five and a half skeins to complete.

Not sure what to do with the remaining skeins from that bag, I found a pattern for another wrap. This time it was a rectangle, so if it did not work, I would have a cosy knee rug for the winter. ;)

It worked.

Not very different from the first one, but this time I used four skeins and a little of the already opened fifth one.

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The bulk in the base of the cape is a folded towel, there to hold out the garment so you can see the opening for hands. This one is cosy, but I think I prefer the first one!

So what next? With rain promised for the remainder of the week, I need to do something colourful…

Rainbow colours

Rainbow colours

Bright random coloured yarns.

Monday. It feels like Sunday.

Today is a normal working day in Northern Ireland, yet in my head it feels like Sunday. If I lived one hundred miles down the road, it would be a holiday. August bank holiday weekend.

I had visitors for lunch. We had a wonderful, happy and cheerful lunch.

Buffy brought Elly, George and the wonderful Peter Donegan to share lunch with me. George did the driving and Buffy made sure he was on the right road.

It was all over too quickly and they are heading back south as I type. The house is very quiet now. I am sitting with my feet up and reliving the few very pleasant hours.

Happy hugs do my heart good! Thank you, Elly, George, Peter & Buffy.

The End is never the End ~ Part 11

“I like this new form of dessert!” said Morgan, as he set the latest find on the table when the dinner dishes were cleared away. The old and inlayed box was larger, deeper and very heavy compared to the first one that they had found under a floor board.

Alice allowed Morgan to lift the lid this time round. The centrepiece on a navy velvet cushion in this second Andrei Shuyski box, was a most unusual gem stone. Neither Alice or Morgan had ever seen anything like it before. Lifting it gently by the cushion, with slightly trembling hands they discovered the reason for the weight of the box: A large bullion bar, the type used by jewellers to sculpt rings, surrounds and mounts for each item of jewellery they designed and made, filled the remaining space.

“Well, Morgan, this new form of dessert might provide many meals in the future, but there is one thing certain, we need to visit Mr Grimes first thing in the morning”. Said Alice. “This time partner, you can do the carrying! I have no desire to carry this treasure through the bustling streets.”

Mr Grimes told them that this stone they had discovered, must be from the same mine as the chrysoberyl Alexandrite, a rare and exquisite gemstone. This one a little smaller, but similar, with its dramatic colour change from brilliant green in daylight to cherry-red under tungsten candle light.

Legend had it, that in 1834, the original gemstone was discovered on the day the future tsar Alexander II came of age; whether myth or not, the enchanting gemstone was named in honour of him. Due to its patriotic change in colour from red to green, the principal colours of old Imperial Russia, it became the national stone of tsarist Russia. Coming from the Andrei Shuyski collection made it all the more authentic.

“I will have this stone cleaned and valued and also have the bullion weighed and valued for you. We still have the first box of gemstones in the vault, and with these new finds, they might increase the value of the whole collection. Now might be the time to think of what you want to do with them. The market is holding at the moment and the prices are steady, it would be a good time for an auction, if that is your wish.” Said Mr Grimes.

Relieved, to leave the goods in safe hands, Alice promised they would give the subject time and thought over the next few days and get back to him. With that they almost skipped out of the shop.

“Champagne! This deserves Champagne.” Said Morgan.

“It is not even lunchtime”, returned Alice, “Are you trying to lead me astray?”

“When we reach the restaurant it will be time for an early lunch and the champagne, won’t go to your head. Anyway, we have no pressing engagements or meetings this afternoon. We might as well live the ‘diamond lifestyle’ for one afternoon!”

Over lunch, they decided on the name for the house.

Hour House.

“Perfect!” said Alice. “Hour House is perfect. It will be our house and after all, we discover something new about the place every hour, or so it seems. How wrong was my first impression, on the dull day I visited with Sidney. The whole place appeared as a dark, dusty unaired mausoleum. Together we will bring it to life again, to be enjoyed by all who cross the threshold.” Vowed Alice.

“To Hour House!” said Morgan as he raised his glass of champagne.

Alice clinked her glass with his. “Yesterday I read a quotation by Joseph Priestley:

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning…”

“I have always looked forward to the new day, but the ‘magic’ in that quote seems to surround me at every turn these days.”

“Tomorrow will be a busy one and need plenty of hours.” Said Morgan. “Let us hope the magic continues when our new best friend, Mr Yates, visits the planning office to formally lodge our precious plans. He seems to think it will be straight forward. We are well back from the road, with only wildlife for neighbours and I cannot see the rabbits and squirrels complaining.”

“I have my fingers, knees and toes crossed already. Said Alice. “We have the movers coming to clear the house at nine and the team of chimney sweeps are due at noon. They can work their way along after each room is cleared. It was a good job we had the chimneys in the stable block cleaned before the renovations.”

“I would like a day to clear out the garages, then when we move to the stable block next week, I can bring the cars to store there. I doubt if I’ll have time to work on them for a month or so. Said Morgan. When life settles, I can get back to tinkering with them again.

They sauntered back to the car and Alice felt as if she was floating on champagne bubbles. Morgan opened the door for her, then swiftly turned and picked her up to place her carefully on the passenger seat.

More than surprised, Alice began to giggle like a school girl. “ Lovell was right. She told me one day ‘That Morgan is so brawny, he picks me up like I’m a cherry tomato!”

“I had to help you into the car, you told me you had your fingers, knees and toes crossed for tomorrow, I did not want to break the spell!”

“Were you at school with Carolyn Ashby?” asked Morgan when they were settled into the car and he turned the key in the ignition.

“What gave you a silly idea like that?” asked Alice. She must be at least fifteen years younger than I am. Yesterday was the first time I met her, but I do find her easy to talk to and I like her ideas. They are tasteful yet not outrageous.”

Carolyn’s ideas were the topic of conversation all the way back to the home house.

They were both pleased she had seen the house before anything was moved out into storage. Every item now had a coloured label, thanks to Mr Yates. The colour matched the room it would return to when the work was complete. Even he seemed to fall under Carolyn’s spell, when he joined them for his morning tea. He had taken note of the way she caressed rather than touched the items she talked about in each of the rooms.

He felt the four of them made a good team. Mind you it had taken time for him to warm to Morgan, now he realised how he really cared for Alice and loved the house. Together they will bring the place to life once more and on into the future.