Friday, 30 May 2014

Bunking off to the beach

Porthtowan beach

The beauty of living in Cornwall is that you are never far from the sea.  I never fail to feel refreshed, happy, positive and so alive after a walk along the beach whatever the weather.  In fact now we more often go to the beach in the winter, when the waves are huge and it's blowing a gale it can be thrilling. There's nothing like a walk on the beach on Xmas Day to work up an appetite.  In the summer we usually go in the evening when the beaches are quiet and watch the sun go down.  When the boys were younger I would pick them up from school and head down to the beach for a bbq, they would play on the beach until it was getting dark. If it rained they carried on playing in the water as they were wet anyway and we would have the beach to ourselves.

Today was one of those days when I couldn't resist getting down to the sea even if it was only for an hour and the weather was unpredictable.  There is a saying in Cornwall, if you don't like the weather, drive a few miles and it will be completely different.  It worked against me today, the sun came out here so I set off to the coast to find huge black clouds and rain.  I expected it to be quiet, but the hardy holiday makers were determined to go to the beach even tho it was raining.

These beautiful pink flowers cover the cliffs

I walked up the cliff and realised just how unfit I am now, but the view is worth it, you can see for miles along the coast. There is a coastal path that follows the whole coastline around Cornwall, it is one of the most beautiful walks in the country. We have done bits of the path but I would like to walk the whole coastal path and have added it to my 60 by 60 list.

The lifeguards do an amazing job and save many lives throughout the summer.  They are on duty whatever the weather, they were looking pretty fed up today tho.

Surf schools have become a popular activity for holiday makers who want to have a go at surfing.  The waves were small today so ideal for the beginners.  Some of them managed to stand up on the boards for a few minutes before they started wobbling and disappeared under the waves.

As I left, the clouds were getting even darker creating an eerie light.  It felt like there was a storm approaching so I hightailed it back to the car.  Of course I didn't take a coat with me!

In the far distance is Godrevy lighthouse, and beyond that St Ives

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Rainy days and quilts

The weather has turned miserable again in Cornwall, one minute we have blue skies, the next torrential rain.  Although I really need to get on with cutting down and pulling out things in my garden, frankly it's too flipping cold.  Yes, I am a fair weather gardener.  I was also hoping to get out for a walk on the beach, but again rain stops play, so indoor pursuits it is.

Like many quilters, crafters, dressmakers, ragruggers etc. I have a room full of UFO's - unfinished objects.  So many in fact I can't decide which one to get on with, the picnic quilt I'm making out of my sons old jeans, the Australian fabric quilt/bag/or something else that I can't make up my mind about.  None of them are floating my boat at the moment, but I really can't start something new.......can I?

I have come very late in life to anything that involves sewing.  My mother was a tailor and dressmaker and made beautiful clothes, she tried to get me interested but I was having none of it.  I was a tomboy and didn't want to wear the beautiful dresses she made for me.  I never even learnt  to sew on a button as I would just get my mum to do it for me.

A few years ago however I decided to join a quilting group, I don't know why as I didn't know a quilt from a tablecloth, but I went along a loved it.  I'm not one for straight lines and perfect cutting, I admire people who are, but I don't have the patience, if I had to rip something out to do it again, I would lose interest.  I also want to make things that are going to be used everyday and not just looked at.  My quilts include new fabric, but I try to use as much recycled fabric as possible, especially clothing from my family.  I look at the quilts and remember my boys wearing those shirts or shorts that have been cut up and included. They are a mixture of hand/machine pieced and quilted.

I thought I would share some of my favourite quilts I have made over the last few years.  Perhaps it will inspire more people to join the world of patchwork and quilting.  If I can do it anyone can.

                                    This cot quilt was made for our granddaughter

I started making this for my son when he lived at home. It took me so long he moved out before I finished it.  So it became a house warming present, he uses it as a throw over a chair he doesn't like the colour of.

                           I wanted a little hand stitching project I could take out and about, I really enjoyed                    
                                                                 making this.

This quilt is very special to me.  When my dad died I had the difficult task of clearing his house.  I kept one of his shirts to include in a quilt.  I also included my partners, sons and one of my shirts, it is my memory quilt.  When I'm poorly I wrap this around me and its like having their arms around me.

The first big quilt I made for our bed, we then changed the colour of the room and bought a bigger          bed!

The King size quilt for our new bed, I wanted it to have a 'retro' feel to it.  When I cleared my parents house I found fabric left over from my mums dressmaking so have included it in this quilt.

A dear friend was moving away, far away!! so I wanted to make something to remind her of Cornwall, and guess what her favourite colour is.  I having quilted things that are personal to her and Cornwall, so have included a samba drum and a Cornish pasty

The cot quilt I made for our grandson

Any quilters, patchworkers out there?  

                               Chickpea xx

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The secret insomniacs club

I am typing this at 4.30 in the morning as I am listening to the birds singing their little hearts out. A beautiful thing to hear, I read somewhere that it is their way of saying 'I'm still here, I made it through the night'...........However I would prefer to be in bed still asleep!!  I have had sleep problems on and off for most of my life. When I was younger I used to sleep walk, my poor mother didn't get a decent night sleep until I left home, as she would be listening out for me wandering around the house.

My youngest son didn't sleep through the night until he was about four - that's four years, not four months, so sleep was not an option. I used to daydream about having a little accident in my car, nobody would be hurt but they would take me into hospital for the night for observations. Yes it got that bad.

So fast forward a few years and here we are again in the small hours, wide awake. I go to bed, I get to sleep alright most nights, then I wake up after 1 hour, 2 hours, all through the night. Sometimes, like this morning I just give up and get up.

I have discovered that I am not alone tho. Sometimes I go on Facebook at silly o'clock in the morning when I can't sleep and find several of my friends doing the same thing. There is a whole nocturnal world out there that most people don't know about. They are blissfully asleep when we hold our insomniacs club meetings.

Are you in our club?

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Making some noise

One of the things that gives me great joy is playing in a Samba band.  I was introduced to Samba by a friend last year, so I'm still fairly new to it and still learning the tunes, but I absolutely love it.  We play at various events all over Cornwall getting peoples toes tapping and bringing smiles to their faces.  You really can't help but start moving to the beat of the drums.  The band is made up of people of all ages, from teens to those of us who are a little older,  ok a lot older.  It's not only the music that is such fun, but they really are a lovely bunch of people.  Our weekly practice is a chance to get together and have a laugh, we all leave feeling happy.  Of course there is a serious side to it, you have to be committed to attending practice and learning the tunes, but it is addictive, once you start you don't want to stop.  I have no previous musical experience (well I did play the recorder at school many moons ago) but with practice I learned to play and when ready was allowed out in public.

We have had some unforgettable gigs, including playing on a double decker bus, and at the side of a harbour with waves splashing over us.  Here's a little clip of the band playing at the Porthleven festival a few years ago.

If you like the sound of it, see if there is a band near you and have a go.

Chickpea xx

Friday, 23 May 2014

Birthday celebrations and homemade (gluten free) cake

30 years ago today I became a mum.  I won't say it feels like yesterday, but it certainly doesn't feel like 30 years.  I clearly remember when they put this little baby into my arms for the first time, my overwhelming feelings of love, and I knew there and then that I would give my life for this little guy. He has grown to be a wonderful son that anyone would be proud of.  A gentle, caring, thoughtful young man.  I won't embarrass him anymore and I'm getting a bit tearful....

We will all be getting together to celebrate with presents, food, drink and a homemade birthday cake.  I have never been one for baking, I haven't got a sweet tooth.  However last year after a few warnings, my body said that's enough, NO MORE GLUTEN!!  Of course, if you can't have something, you suddenly decide you really want it.  So I have been experimenting with making gluten free cakes, some more successful than others.  There are recipes that have a dozen ingredients, none of which I have and would only find in a health food shop at great cost, I tend to avoid these.  I was given a recipe by a colleague, typed out on a piece of paper, minimum ingredients and instructions I don't know where she got it from so I can't give them credit. I have used it to make a sunken raisin cake (they all huddled at the bottom) but it tasted ok. I added some cocoa powder this time and will see how it turns out.  If I cover it with enough chocolate butter icing, maltesers, chocolate buttons, flakes, and mars bars  I'm sure it will taste fine :) and it looks good, well chocolatey.

As you can see my cake decorating skills are pretty amazing!

Here is the basic recipe if you want to give it a try, adapt it to your taste.  I added raisins, mixed spice, cinnamon and grated nutmeg for my sunken raisin cake.  This time I added 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder for a 'chocolate' cake.

7 oz gluten free self raising flour
5 oz sugar (I use brown caster)
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 eggs
1/4 pt milk
1/4 pt sunflower oil
1 tsp gluten free baking powder

Whisk all the ingredients together thoroughly with an electric mixer on high speed for 1 minute and place in a lined baking tin or muffin cases

Bake at 180 degrees c for 45 - 60 minutes if in a loaf tin or as I have used a round tin, 25 - 30 mins if in muffin cases (makes 12)

You can add cocoa powder or lemon juice or brown sugar instead of white and mixed fruit, go mad and experiment.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Making memories

I feel so lucky to live where I do.  I could not imagine living anywhere else now,  tho this was not always the case.  When I was a teenager I did moan  'nothing happens here'.  It is a wonderful place to bring up children.  We had many happy hours on the beach eating sandy sandwiches, the children assuring me through chattering teeth that they were not cold, and did not need to get out of the sea.

I have my own happy childhood memories of aunties, uncles and umpteen cousins all packing up and heading down to Gwithian for the weekend where we had Chalets.  Walking everywhere barefoot, ignoring the warnings about adders.  Clambering up and down the cliffs like goats, dune surfing, looking for glow worms and clinging to my dads back as he swam through the sheeps pool.

Now we are making happy memories with our grandchildren when they visit Cornwall.  The recently re-opened Halbullock Moor, owned by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, with its raised walkway is the perfect place for Trolls to hide.  We went trip trap over the bridges like the Billy Goats Gruff, sticks in hand, ready to scare them off.  A big adventure for little ones, and not so little ones.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

60 by 60 Number 14, Walk the St Clement path - Done

Number 14 on my 60 by 60 list is to walk along the Tresillian river path from the pretty village of St Clement to Tresillian on the outskirts of Truro.  The village is in an area of 'outstanding natural beauty'.  I can't believe that neither of us have done this walk and have only recently been to St. Clement village after living just a few miles away for years.  I was taken there by a friend when I was waiting for an operation last year.  I could only manage to walk to the beginning of the path, and promised myself I would walk the whole path when I recovered.  It's been nearly 12 months, but I finally felt up to the walk.

Beside the church are some thatched cottages where some friends of mine were lucky enough to live when they were growing up

The church is medieval, but most of the architecture has been lost with subsequent restorations

The river is tidal and I didn't check the tide tables , so I have lots of lovely photo's of mud flats!

 We finished the walk by having a pot of Tregothnan tea in the beautiful gardens of The Old Vicarage next to St Clement church

The pretty village and walk are well worth a visit, and look out for the mugs