One potato, two potato

This week we picked the first courgette in the new vegetable patch.

It is quiche weather here, so the usual eggs were beaten up with a sprinkling of my first harvest of thyme and some chopped chives.

I had some left over pastry in the freezer, which is always a blessing; I greased the quiche tray with olive oil, giving it a nice summery flavour; that is why it appears a little translucent. In went the sliced courgette, with the herby, cheesy egg mixture.

We held our breath as we dug up the first early potato plant. Had anything grown? It had!

There were just enough potatoes on that first plant for both of us. The first ones I've grown since 2011, before moving here.

 And the quiche turned out well too. Another small step in the right direction.


A lot of motorbikes

 Last Sunday we drove out with Brian-next-door to our regular auction.

There was the usual mix of good things, bad and frankly bizarre things. 


I could only find a few things that I wanted, so after marking my sheet, we went outside where more interesting things were going on.

The UK attempt to beat the world record for an all female bike rally. Of course, there were plenty of blokes there, but only actual women bikers were registered for the count. It was a very happy occasion and I could have stayed outside taking pictures for much longer, had the auction not been about to start.

We were outside long enough to hear the tally of 1,132 recorded riders, beating a previous Australian meet up (of 1,002 riders). Bikes had come from all over the UK, of every shape, type and size. 

By the time we emerged, everyone was setting off home. I did manage to snag a couple of the things I wanted in the auction - but I enjoyed the bikes more. 


Taming the garden

This is a kind of patio area that used to have a large dog run built on top of it. Thankfully that was gone when Andy and I moved in. It's been a bit of a mess since then as since Andy died, my own future here has been tenuous. I've spent the last few years trying to hold my head together and  there has seemed little point in putting a huge effort into something I may have to leave behind.


Last year, before Joe moved in, Brian-next-door helped me to cut down the worst of the nasty knot weed stuff, which was a beast. Since then, Joe has taken an axe to it several times and dug up the main roots. It seems to have been vanquished at last.

So even with the future being uncertain, we made a start on tidying it up properly earlier this year. Joe lifted the slabs. 

 At last a nice sized plot was revealed. I began digging it over.


And even though there hasn't really been any money for plants or seeds, I have managed to grow a few things and it looks a lot better.

The potatoes at the back should break the earth up (not for nothing are they known as 'pioneer plants'). The courgettes and beans seem happy enough.

As you can seem a lot of rubble has been removed. It will take some work and a lot of manure this winter to turn the earth around. And there is still a patch at the back which I am getting to grips with. It is thick, dry clay mingled with stones and rubbish, so I am doing it bit by bit, inch by inch. 


There are tomato plants growing at the side. It all looks a little bare, but at last it looks as if we'll be able to stay here for a while and maybe next year I will be able to plant out the large herb patch that I have secretly dreamed of. 

With everything that has happened, and being in a rather fragile state of mind most of the time, I still find it hard to contemplate a more reassured future. This little corner of the garden is the one part that is slowly taking form, with some herbs and creeping succulents. I look out on it often and try to take hope.


Little flower head


Last month I received my first 'head' commission.

 It was to be in the style of Frida Khalo with a  flower crown.

 I didn't make it a portrait, but did my research and emulated the general style.

She was, naturally, named 'Fleur.


Staffordshire cats at the Potteries Museum

On the first day of July, I was up at 5am to arrive early in Stoke-on-Trent for a workshop at the Potteries Museum. Thankfully this time the train journey was relatively short, and I was at the museum at around 8.30am. As you can see, our British weather can be rather temperamental; the mini heatwave was over and we were back to being moist and overcast.

I set up as usual in my designated space, then went for a little prowl around the museum before it opened; there was something quite delightful about being the only visitor, before the doors were open to the public.

The ceramics collection covers all periods of the Potteries history. 

Some fabulous 20th century work, much of it from the Midwinter studio - 

 - on to the more ostentatious Minton pieces - 

But my favourite collection was of course, the Staffordshire work. 

and these - 

Who wouldn't want a  frog mug? 

A final quick peek of the antique slipware collection, before hastening back to start the workshop. 

So we commenced the day's project, which was to make a needle felted Staffordshire style cat, rather like this one I made earlier in the year. 

They were a lovely group and great fun to work with. For most of them this was their first time needle felting and I think I may have thrown them in at the deep end, as this was not the simplest of things to make. But at the end of the day, when they had all worked their fingers off, everyone had a cat, each with its own personality. 

Another enjoyable workshop - not everyone takes to needle felting, but I think a few people were inspired to carry on with it.

My next workshop is scheduled to be on August12th at the Village Haberdashery in West Hampstead, London - more cats, but of a different kind; my circus kitties from the recent 'Mollie Makes' cover. All details and links on my workshop page here.