Patchwork: Stitchery and other Activities

French time is a patchwork of activities.  I’ve brought over a meli-melo of fabrics, useful lengths and various remnants of stuff to experiment with.  I’ve seen some fetching cushions on the net, the designs are achieved by a combination of patchwork and applique.  I make a moth cushion, and a pheasant one.   I will need a top up of material pieces to complete the third design (I think the nicest by far) and sister Liz will be able to help out there.

Shopping expeditions with Anne and Brigitte allow me to familiarise myself with Cherbourg town centre.  I buy some trousers, a matching jumper and shoes.  Several pairs of shoes for the spring and summer.  Brigitte persuades me to allow her to give me a manicure, a treat in the comfort of my own home.  Anne and I enjoy trips to the Cinema, we see Les Gamins, La Religieuse, Le Temps de l’Aventure, Mud.

Ten of us eat chez Roux on a Saturday evening.  A week later I roast the two legs of lamb I brought over at Easter for the same assembled.  At the end of our stay Francois and Anne depart for their two weeks in the Norwegian fjords, aboard La Fleur de Lampaul.  A few days later we board our ferry bound for England.

Visitors from Dorset

In the week after the family left France  whilst Nick beavered in the garden, I spent some time with Brigitte and Anne.  We went to the gym and we shopped in Cherbourg together, and Anne and I saw two films at the Cinema Richelieu, our gem of a cinema a few minutes’ drive away, with the most comfortable seats imaginable.  They really are like armchairs.  The week culminated in a supper party chez Poulet for Francois’ 61st birthday. 

A few days later we received Paul and Viv for a short stay.  This fixture was long overdue but such is the nature of our busy lives that we had not managed to find a convergingly convenient time slot.  Whilst they stayed with us we walked some of our local terrain, drove across to the west coast to lunch with a former skipper friend of Nick’s after which drove up the west Cotentin.   Nick and Paul took a fishing trip during which they made a good catch of pollack.  That afternoon Viv and I undertook a Treasure Hunt during an open day at the Hougue fort.  We completed the course with full marks.  And that evening, Francois and Anne joined us for supper; we ate fish pie and enjoyed some good French conversation. 

The four of us travelled back to the UK.  The Conchological Society AGM required Nick’s input as Treasurer whilst I chose to stay in Winterborne K, having supper with Maddy and Andrew on Friday night, using Saturday to shop for some fabric remnants for a cushion project, and some plants from Homebase.

On Sunday I worked the low-walled garden which runs along both sides of the garage at the front.  At the end of the afternoon I had cut back bramble and ivy which was clogging the hedge, had cleared weeds and surplus plants and had translocated foxglove plants from pots and the back garden, to the shadiest corner of the garage bed.  Earlier I phoned my neighbour Brian,  to whom I have promised some plants including surplus Aquilegia and perennial Linaria plants.  He came round and we agreed that I would contact him again when we get back from France after our impending spell over there.  Having packed a lot into our long weekend in WK we sailed back to Cherbourg for the remainder of our April – May stint.

Catching up with Folks.

After the mid-March mini-freeze in northern France it was good to arrive home to more clement weather and to find a tidy and warm house. We have a mixed fortnight ahead having concentrated a number of fixtures and fit-ins into that interval.

First up was a conchological weekend with Simon and Shirley Taylor as house guests. If all goes well Simon is soon to be elected to the office of Marine Recorder in the Conchological Society, a job I held for 20 years. He comes to Winterborne K to collect the paper archive and backlog of biological records which need digitisation. As it happens the sitting President Mike Allen is hosting an open day at his new laboratories in Wiltshire, where he processes archaeological finds, principally non-marine mollusc shells, as part of his consultancy business. We go to this and meet up with Bas and Rosemary Payne. I am able to hand over their small consignment of bee orchid plants: a translocation from our French lawn to their Devonian valley garden. Fingers crossed they settle into their new surroundings – I have tried to ensure this by digging the plants with a generous portion of soil to maximise the likelihood that their symbiotic soil fungus will be present.

On Monday night we have supper with Maddy and Andrew – it’s always a pleasure to visit them. Two evenings later I am sitting in Carol’s house for a meeting of our Godalming book group. This is the last time we will meet in her house there as she is shortly to move to an apartment at Kew. I hope she will be able to join us periodically for our gatherings.

On Saturday I join a group of Pam’s yoga students for a day of chanting with Narayani. She is a devotional singer, voicework facilitator and yoga teacher and offers workshops nationwide. This is my second session and I still cannot believe how rusty my voice has become over the years.  After a day of singing my jaw and throat ache and feel stiff.

Nick and I had intended to go to the cinema that evening but decided to defer until Sunday. We went to see Cloud Atlas ; I have been looking forward to this as I much enjoyed the book which I read on Dan’s recommendation.   I am glad that I had read the book first as its format is eccentric and foreknowledge of the novel greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the film. I’m not sure how accessible this film would have been for newcomers to this work of fiction.

On Tuesday Gill and John Watton came for a day visit. Two Westies named Esme and Blossom come as part of the package and after coffee we drove over to Portland and walked along the cliff top at ‘Dragonvale‘ enjoying views of Church Ope cove and the derelict 12th century Norman fortress, Rufus Castle, on the way back.

We lunched at the Lobster Pot cafe on Portland Bill, all opting for a one of their superlative crab salads. We love them because there is always a generous helping of the brown meat, which suits some but not everyone. We drove home by a circuitous route to WK for a cuppa and a hot cross bun.  A bit later we went to The Brace of Pheasants at Plush for dinner. From here John and Gill drove back to Greylake.

Later in the week we meet up with the Palmers and the Derricks for lunch at Ringwood.  Such reunions are intermittent occasions when three erstwhile lads, whose shared schooldays go back six decades, can catch up with each other.  Angela, Carolyn and I have known each other since we met our respective husbands when we were in our twenties, so we too have plenty of natter to exchange as well.

The weekend arrives and so do contingents of children and grandchildren.  We have an early Monday morning ferry to catch and The Old Workshop makes a convenient boarding stage for an early crossing.  Somehow we manage to get everyone to bed and then up early, and we leave the house in reasonable order.  We have a week together in St Vaast La Hougue ahead of us.