Friday, 25 April 2014

Ursula cardigan

Its taken a while but this week I finished my Ursula cardigan from Colours of Shetland by Kate Davis. I am reasonably pleased with it but there are a few details I am less happy with.

I like the colours that I chose and the fair isle pattern. I am less keen on the bulk created by knitting in the round with steeks at the front opening, the neckline and the armholes.

After much knitting and re-knitting I replaced the ribbed button band with a "steek sandwich" which is quite bulky but gives a neat finish.

It is the bulk of steeked fabric around the armholes that bothers me but perhaps with wearing this will felt down and become less of a problem. My ravelry notes are here.

Friday, 18 April 2014

first apple blossom and first cuckoo

The apple blossom is just starting to open on our crab apple tree and yesterday (17th April) I heard the cuckoo for the first time this year. This is about a week early, we usually hear it for the first time 24th - 30th April. At least after flying all that way from Africa, there is nice weather to celebrate the arrival.

I hope these blue skies continue over the holiday weekend. Happy Easter.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

the first bluebells


A walk down the lane, passed the horse chestnut with fresh green leaves blowing in the breeze,

a patch of greater stitchwort each flower turning towards the sun

and in a tiny strip of woodland beside the road,

the first bluebells. A wonderful tapestry of "springness"!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

noticing spring

Near home and in my garden the start of spring is very obvious from the first snowdrops through hyacinths, primroses, daffodils and now blossom on the plum tree.

In more exposed areas though the start of spring is happening much more slowly with fewer outward signs. As I have mentioned before, after visiting elderly family on the south coast we either go down to the beach or stop at the New Forest on the way home. Its good to get some fresh air and exercise in an otherwise sedentary day.

The top photograph was taken in mid February when all was pale, brown and beige and although there were splashes of yellow gorse the whole effect was very muted.

Stopping in the same area this weekend I expected it to look different and it did - but only a little. Small changes as spring comes later to this exposed area. The gorse has more flower and the grass is a brighter green as growth increases.

The silver birches are the first trees to come into leaf, the landscape feels as if it is gently waking after a winter sleep.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


Snakeshead Fritillaries catching the morning sun in my garden. These flowers traditionally grow in flood plains, perhaps they are looking good this year after the wet winter.

I have never seen them massed in the wild and we are busy this weekend when they should be looking good - maybe another year. If you want to see them in their natural habitats,  there are links to places to see wild fritillaries here.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

a little adventure

A few photographs from our short holiday, we went to Lundy. This little island, now in the care of the National Trust and the Landmark Trust is just 3½ miles long and ½ mile wide.

It felt like an adventure because we were leaving the mainland and travelling by helicopter, just a six minute flight. We had booked a three night break but due to dense fog we couldn't leave the first day so we had to make do with only two days. When we did arrive though it was like stepping into another world.

The scenery is stunning. The west coast which takes the full force of the Atlantic is more rugged

while the more sheltered east side is gentler in appearance with little patches of woodland in secluded valleys.

This is the village on the island and the blue building on the right is where we stayed.

The whole island is "open access" so you can wander wherever you like. There are working lighthouses on both the north and south of the island.

On the highest part of the island is the Old Light. This was operational for a few years but because of the prevalence of low cloud over the island there were many days when it wasn't visible so the two newer light houses were built closer to sea level. When I climbed up the old light I found these two deck chairs on the platform where the light used to be. I sat down and looked out westwards at the Atlantic - no land until America.

We didn't see many people on our walks but we weren't alone, wild deer,

the island's wild herd of Soay sheep and all the time in the north of the island the sound of skylarks.

The island is managed by the Landmark Trust and all the houses are used for staff accommodation or visitors. The houses have no televisions, there is no public wifi on the island and mobile phone signal is very patchy. It really did feel as if we had escaped the rat race for a while. Plenty of time to wander, take photographs, read and knit.

In the evenings we ate in the Marisco Tavern, excellent food with plenty of vegetarian options - a perfect way to end days spent outdoors.

All too soon our two days were over and after just six minutes in the helicopter we had left this little bit of paradise behind. It is so close to the mainland yet so different once you get there, I definitely want to go back.