Monthly Archives: April 2016

Seeing red

Not too far away from us is a small village called Askham. Phil was over there having a look at some unusual windows in the church of St Peter, built 1832 next to the river Lowther. Luckily he had the camera to hand.





“Rear Window”

At the top of a tall tree in the church yard was this little fellow….. Once again the Sony has come into its own; the photograph below was taken hand-held at full 100x digital zoom.



Red squirrels are on the decline in this country. There’s quite a large colony of them on Brownsea Island in Dorset where we used to live but in the five years we’ve lived in Armathwaite we have only caught a brief glimpse of one and didn’t have the camera to catch the moment.




We found this antique clockwork doorbell at The Brunswick Yard in Penrith. It will make an interesting feature when we eventually get a new front door on the buzzshelter.


Antique clockwork doorbell

Spring is about to spring forth!


Now that’s what I call rhubarb!


Amelanchier canadensis (Snowy Mespilus)

Bee all and end all

We had some troubling experiences with our bees last year. We had a grumpy Queen producing grumpy daughters intent on stinging anyone they could. Then she left home taking half of her offspring. Those left behind were Queenless and very very grumpy. The next Queen was no better and she only produced drones …. See previous bee posts. Rigsby and Shackleton got stung and Shackleton had particularly bad reactions to the venom. Phil got stung, the worst was when one went down his welly and he got the full whack on the foot, rendering him unable to wear a shoe for almost two weeks. We got a new Queen and they settled nicely. The colony was very small though and we were unsure if they’d be able to make it through winter.

We fed them with a block of fondant and Spring arrived. We saw them flying which was a good sign. Then Phil noticed 8 dead bees on the flight board. He checked inside and the fondant was still there. The food was inches away from them yet they’d failed to find it. The bees had used a lot of energy flying out on the odd unusually warm spring day but with few flowers, there was little food to be had. They have starved to death despite having food right above their heads.


Dead bees

We have mixed feelings about bee keeping going forward. On the one hand we can all enjoy the garden without fear of air strikes but we can’t help thinking we let them down. Our plan is to continue learning how to be better bee keepers by attending the Oak Bank apiary and maybe just maybe, the bees will be back next year.


I work away quite a lot and this means overnight stays in hotels. Phil sends me photos of home and the boys to lift my spirits. I know that the dogs miss me as much as I miss them and sometimes this manifests as refusal to eat, while for me it’s a case of eating things I shouldn’t. Speaking of which, Shackleton found my embroidery silks which I’d left on a chair and while Phil was out, he chewed the colour-key card to which they were attached. The result resembled spaghetti with a side of confetti. A perfect marriage.


The sampler is one I’m working on for the next village show so untangling the spaghetti will be interesting. My lesson for the day was to always put things away.


River of sound

Music has always been an important part of our lives. Both of us are self taught guitarists and I remember clearly the first guitar I was given by my parents for my 11th birthday. It was a full size Spanish acoustic and came with a tutor book called ‘a tune a day’. By the end of the first week I’d mastered ‘she’ll be comin’ round the mountains’ and then had to give it a break as I’d quite literally lost the skin from my finger tips.

I then got a copy of ‘Beatles Complete’ and a 12 string Yamaha acoustic for my 16th and then I was off for hours in my bedroom. That book taught me a lot of chords very quickly with the added bonus that I knew how the songs were supposed to sound. It makes such a difference hearing it in your head as you play, so now I can listen to a new song and pretty much work it out within minutes without the chords written down.

Phil and I have quite a collection of guitars now. At the last count it was 10 including my original Spanish acoustic, my 12 string Yamaha, another Spanish guitar inherited from my musician friend Alan who died (we formed a Bossanova group called Jazzamba back in the 90’s),  my Takamine which has Dolphins round the sound hole and up the neck and my Baby Martin which was a Christmas gift from Phil.

Phil’s guitars include the love of his life, a Hadyn Williams Li’l 58, originally made for Martin Waugh; guitarist for Kylie Minogue, Sophie Ellis- Bextor, Mika, Lilly Allen amongst others.

Phil kisses it every night (he thought this extreme behaviour might stop me kissing the dogs)…… Ha ! He regularly falls asleep on the sofa with it strapped to him. His brother Chris (a real musician) says it’s the best guitar he’s ever played but let’s see if that changes.

We’ve been keeping an eye on Hadyn’s Facebook  page and watching the step by step creation of his latest masterpiece. It’s a beauty! It’s a prototype acoustic called the Esk, named after a local Cumbrian river. It’s crafted from Cocobolo, Carpathian Spruce, Ebony and Mahogany. We went over to his workshop yesterday just for a look……


Then there were 11……  All photo’s and beautiful Esk courtesy of Hadyn Williams.