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Friday, 21 July 2017

End of an era

Small daughter finishes at her primary school today.  We've had a week of parties, performances, assemblies and tonight there's a prom - they're certainly going out with a bang!  After today, my connection with this primary school that both my girls attended is over and if it wasn’t in an area that’s great for dog walking then I might not even go back there.  Part of me is delighted, as I know that small daughter is more than ready to move on to high school, but another part is a little sad as small daughter is becoming less small every day.  We can’t make our children stay little forever, and nor should we want to, but it is a strange moment when it hits you that they are growing up.

Small daughter is also excited and a little sad.  She’s spent time at her new high school and is looking forward to the challenges that it’s going to bring.  She’s ready to be stretched in her subjects, to learn more about the world and what’s going on around her; the school puts an emphasis on being aware of current affairs as well as curriculum subjects as they (wisely) say that there’s no point in students leaving with a fistful of exam certificates and no awareness of what’s going on in the world.  She’s ready to make new friends although she intends to stay in touch with her old class.  They’re already swapping phone numbers and getting ready to write messages to other all over their school t-shirts (a tradition in this school that stretches back to when big daughter was there and even before).  When small daughter has done the same time again in this new school, she’ll be heading for university (if that’s what she wants to do) and big daughter – well, big daughter will be a grown woman with a life of her own by then.  It’s not something that I like to think about too closely.  My chicks are spreading their wings and already I can see them moving ever closer to the edge of the nest.

Not all of us are great at change.  I know that I’m not; I need time to think about what’s happening and how it’s going to make life different.  I always know that life will be better because I believe that every situation in our life is designed in some way to improve it even if we can’t see it at the time, but that doesn’t make it any easier when we’re faced with events that are both expected and unexpected.  It’s going to take time to adjust to this new life where small daughter has a phone and a key and knows which bus to get on.  I’m not quite sure that I’m ready for that so I am grateful that we have the school holidays to spend time together whilst I get to know this new, confident person.  And perhaps have to find a new blog name for her.  Small daughter is growing up. 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Sockalong knit n natter meet up

I really must take a new photo - the sale has finished!

What are you up to next Wednesday morning between 10am and 12pm?  That's the 19th of July, and if you're anywhere near Culcheth in Warrington and fancied coming along to Black Sheep Wools Craft Barn for a bit of a knit n natter, it'd be great to see you!

Members of the Winwick Mum Sockalong Facebook groups are getting together to knit, crochet, chat and also to sample Black Sheep's excellent cake and smoosh lots of yarn.  Black Sheep Wools are now a flagship store for Rowan Yarns complete with a brand new Rowan section, and they've recently started stocking lots of exciting new yarns such as Baa Ram Ewe and Sheepjes - not to mention a good selection of sock yarns too! 

We have these occasional meet ups and it's always lovely to see people rather than photos and admire their projects in real life.  You don't have to be knitting socks, you can bring any project you like and it's free to come along.  We don't provide any refreshments so that you can choose to visit the cafe or not - we just take over the workshop room for a couple of hours to meet friends old and new and have a lovely time!  

If you're getting a lift, your driver can either while away a couple of happy hours in the cafe or on the big squishy sofa with a newspaper, or take the short drive into the village of Culcheth where there are shops and more cafes, and a play park too if you have small people with you.

See you there! :)

Saturday, 8 July 2017


Hi, how's your weekend going?  It's been another warm and sunny one here, and the Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine) has been a wonder to behold and smell (besmell? Could there even be such a word?).  It grows up a sunny wall at the front of the house and is absolutely smothered in white star-like blooms that pack a really powerful punch in the scent department.  Even our postman has noticed and he's normally too busy to stop and smell the flowers.

Ahh, jasmine.  Definitely one of my very favourite smells.

And my absolutely favourite vegetable, peas in a pod.  Nothing can beat popping that green case open and seeing those peas all snug together, admiring the way that nature has designed them to grow in perfect form - and then eating them.  Even tomatoes warm from the greenhouse only come a close second.  I should have been picking the peas and bringing them into the house for dinner, but instead I have found myself standing in the garden eating pod after pod of them and smiling at the memory of getting into trouble for the very same thing when I was little and lived with my parents.  We grew most of our own vegetables so for me to snaffle all the peas that were supposed to go into the freezer for the winter was something that was frowned upon, but now there's no one to tell me off except myself and that's not going to happen :)

I have spent this weekend working on the lace sock tutorial.  It's been slow going as the girls have been around and I've been easily distracted, but I've done the bulk of it now so with a fair wind and a bit of luck it should be ready to post this next week.  I finished the socks themselves ages ago but I've procrastinated over the video editing and have learnt my lesson now as it's not fun to leave it all till the last minute.  Still, it'll be worth it - I hope!  

I've also finished my West Yorkshire Spinners Marie Curie socks.  These are the ones made from the limited edition yarn that is supporting the Marie Curie charity - you can read more about it here (and you can see a bit about the tutorial socks too!).  They've been a quick knit - WYS yarns always do seem to knit up very quickly and are always even nicer once they've been washed and worn.  There's a donation from each ball of yarn being made to the charity which makes it an even better excuse to buy the yarn whether you need it right now or not! :)  (Incidentally, someone suggested to me recently that this yarn might look good in the Couthie shawl pattern and I think those bold stripes would lend themselves very well to that if you don't fancy socks.)

At the risk of running out of WIPs (works in progress) - ha! - I've cast on another pair of socks. This pattern is Curved, Bumpy Trail socks by Rich Ensor and I thought it would be perfect for this Wool is the Answer 4ply in colourway Blueberry Mash.  I've admired Rich Ensor's patterns for quite some time although it's only now that I've finally got to cast one on.  It's working out just as nicely as I hoped it would, although I have to agree with other people who've posted their projects on Ravelry that this pattern is not written for beginners.  The actually knitting part isn't difficult but it took me some time to work out what the charts and written pattern were telling me to do. I'll be sure to make notes on my Ravelry project for this sock so if you're tempted to have a go at it at some time, do check them if you get stuck.

Finally, before I go and see a bit of the weekend sunshine before the sun goes down, Let's Knit magazine have reminded me to remind you that if you are so inclined to vote in the British Knitting and Crochet Awards this year and haven't done so, there's still time before the closing date in August.  I would be thrilled if you would like to vote for my blog in the Favourite Knitting Blog category - thank you!

Have a brilliant rest of the weekend, whatever you're up to! xx

Monday, 3 July 2017

Re-opening Winwick Church

It was so lovely at 2pm yesterday afternoon to be part of a village community and to be able to join in with celebrating the re-opening of our church.  Whether you're a churchgoer or not, a church is a part of what makes a town or village what it is.  Winwick Church is a local landmark, easily recognised from the M62 motorway and even before we lived in Winwick, seeing it always made me feel that I was home.

We live close enough to walk to the church and decided it would be a good idea to do that in case the small car park was busy.  We set off in plenty of time for the re-opening service so that we would be able to find a seat and although that turned out to be harder than we thought, we were delighted to see that the church was full.  I don't think I've ever seen the church this full before, and I was really pleased that so many people had turned out.

We eventually found ourselves a space right over in the corner next to the Legh Chapel where we'd been cleaning the week before.  Small daughter was pleased to note that her beautifully mopped floor still looked good, and my husband and big daughter cast a critical eye over their work on the wrought iron and were pleased that they didn't spot any places they had missed.  You can see here just how many people there were - and there were still people coming in!  Some ended up sitting in the Chancel which is away to the right, others had to stand at the back and the sides.  I felt that it was a wonderful acknowledgement of the work that Reverend June and the rest of the church community have put in, and whilst nobody expects the church to be as busy every week, it was right that it was yesterday.

From our side vantage point, I could see parts of the church that I've never looked at before. Another angel tucked up high in the ceiling ...

A stained glass window that I pass every day in the car but have never really looked at.  (That's not a wooden TARDIS on the left, it's the porch door :) )

Stone arches and the refurbished ceiling; whenever we've been to services in the church we've tended to sit in the main aisle so we've always looked forwards, never across the church.  It's a good view, although we might look a bit strange if we chose to sit here again when there was space in the middle!

When the service began, it was apparent just how much a part of the community the church is. The school choir sang, the village Brownie pack were there, the Mayor of Warrington, our local MP and other visiting dignitaries, even the architects and roofing contractors.  The whole service felt joyous and inclusive, and also a momentous event for our little village.  Afterwards there was tea and cake in the church hall (such an English thing to do!) and I am sure the celebrations continued for quite some time amongst the church committee who will have been mightily relieved that the work was finished and everything went so well.

Now that the church has been restored, the intention is for it to be used for a wider range of community activities than it had been previously.  There is a new stage area (that's the red carpeted area in this picture) which can be set up for concerts and talks, lighting and good sound system so that now the church can be a unique venue for all kinds of events.  A large proportion of the work was paid for the Heritage Lottery Fund who have secured an agreement with the church that it will be open for at least 40 days of the year when services aren't in progress so that people can visit to look around.  The dates of the open days and more info about hiring the church for an event can be found on the church's website here.

After being closed for seven years, it's really wonderful to see our church open again.  Definitely one of the joys of village life.