Introducing the Grainfather

Cue haunting music...no, scratch that, this isn't about the Godfather but the Grainfather, a nano brewery and the ideal birthday present for the man who has everything (read that as the man who has very specific tastes).  Duly ordered and delivered, and with no expectation of being wrapped as DH had researched and selected the system himself, the Grainfather took up residence behind the settee in the lounge, ready for action.  But I wanted to come up with a surprise for the day itself. My DH now knows that yarn is likely to…Read more …

Hopping into Spring

It's that froggy time of year again; time to find or make something along amphibian lines for my friend's birthday, something that can be sent through the post to arrive on the day.  Now, I've nothing against presents arriving after the event - how can I, after a three-present haul when we met up last month - catching up after a birthday or two...                        Read more …

Hats off to Head Bands

I’m not a hat person.  Never have been.  Whether it’s a wide-brimmed sun hat, a fascinator, a beanie or a bobble hat, I always look like somebody’s maiden aunt.  Worse, particularly when I remove the hat, I get a glimpse of my future eighty-year-old self.  A baseball cap is slightly better but jars with a smart coat and has few insulating properties.  However, the head band has solved most of those problems. Apart from on the ski slopes, I spotted one, sported by a sharp dresser on the high street.  I looked online,…Read more …

A Woolly Christmas to you all

Ah, Christmas.  What to make and give to friends this year?  In September I started searching for ideas among those free patterns generously shared by other knitters, and struck lucky.  Five different Christmas tree decorations which suited each individual on the receiving end of a knitted gift, and I don't mind telling you I enjoyed every knitting minute of making them (even when those twiddly bits of mistletoe went missing under the sofa).                                        …Read more …

Lavender – the Colour of Summer

What looked like a bruise on the landscape, vivid and dazzling against the hedges and traffic of Croydon Lane, proved to be one of Surrey’s best-kept secrets.  At £1 entry per person (under 16s go free) and plenty of free parking, that was a small price to pay for the opportunity to enjoy the warmth and aroma of Provence...in Banstead. Mayfield Lavender Farm, Shop and Café is a place for all ages – the children I saw were very happily running up and down the rows and watching the organically-grown lavender being hand-cut…Read more …

An Ode to Real Ale

Happiness is bottle-shaped for my DH.  And if it is accompanied by trains, travelling and food, so much the better.  So an Ode to Real Ale for his birthday featuring places visited and those to come should cover all angles... An Ode to Real AleRead more …

Easter en France

It’s Easter.  I'm in France.  What do I give my visiting French friends as a gift?  Eggs?  Chocolate?  Chocolate eggs?  Egg cosies?  Chocolate egg cosies? Of course.  Themed knitted egg cosies for chocolate eggs.  But I’m not just going to hand them to them on a plate; they’ve got to find them first, so following clues in French, English, Franglais or Frenglish, depending on their skills and enthusiasm, voilà...                                                …Read more …

Spring Cleaning, Anyone?

If anything is going to put the drudgery of spring cleaning into perspective, it’s a behind-the-scenes look at Ham House’s conservation programme during the winter months.  Filthy filters from museum brush vacuums and bags of dust and dirt, meticulously recorded for study and scrutiny, shared table room with badger and hog hair brushes and pots of furniture beetles.  Two experts in stockinged feet padded around on a 400+ year old carpet, methodically and silently replacing furniture for the imminent re-opening of the house to the public.  Their description of the painstaking and lengthy…Read more …

In the Pink at the Medicine Garden

Guilty of eating too many calories and given up on your New Year get-fit-quick regime?  Glad to have seen the back of ‘dry January’.  Whether you’ve over-indulged over Easter or are longing for longer days and shorter hours of darkness, don’t beat yourself up.  De-stress with a shot of peace and well-being at The Medicine Garden, just a stone’s throw from Cobham High Street. Whether a cold, crisp morning or a dry, rain-drenched afternoon, your visit can still deliver the effect you’d hope for from a place with a name so suggestive of…Read more …

Mugs à la Mode

Winter.  Wind, rain, hail beating against the window.  Maybe even some snow?  Bring it on, as long as I'm on the inside looking out, preferably with a cup or mug in my hand. But not a scalding china cup or a knuckle-burning mug.   Oh no, a cosy, woolly handful keeping my hands and my tea warm.                                 All these patterns are found in Mug Hugs by Alison Howard A great little book, full of fun designs and…Read more …