Thursday, May 29, 2008

The bluetits have flown ...

Following the departure of the bluetit babies I opened the nestbox.
It was packed with wonderful nesting material ... moss, grass, fleece and feathers.

I removed the contents to prevent parasites settling in.
Now I will leave it to dry out for a while ... with all the recent rain it was quite damp inside!

You get a better look at the nesting material here. Looks nice and snug, doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I just finished another three blankets for Cuddles.
"We are a volunteer, non-profit organisation based in the UK. We attempt to support the families dealing with the loss of their baby through miscarriage or stillbirth. We supply gowns, blankets and wraps to maternity units all over the UK."
I always enjoy knitting those delicate little items in 3-ply or 4-ply, and only ever knit them when I have peace of mind and nothing else going on.
I particularly like to knit blankets, because I know that parents often take them home as keep-sakes ... and that there are one of the few things to remind them of the little time they had with their son or daughter.

Here are some comments which were made by parents who lost their baby. I am sure they speak for themselves:

"We would like to thank you for your donation of a
beautiful blanket which we were able to use to wrap
our baby who was stillborn. Our little Hero passed
away last 26th April 2007. He looked peaceful and warm
wrapped in your knitted blanket."
"The midwives were fantastic and supportive. This is an extremelyhard and sad time. Knowing that there are people like you that care, makes it that little bit bearable."
"We kept the clothes that S... was dressed in. We will keep themsafe and cherish them."
"Thank you so much."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blue tits and the dreaded gooseberry sawfly ...

The dreaded gooseberry sawfly, which took a liking to our gooseberry and white current bushes last year, has come back for more ...
Raising two ot three generations during the summer, they can defoliate the entire plant, leaving only the leaf veins and stalks. Although they look like small caterpillars, they develop into a non-stinging wasp-like fly.
So I have started checking daily and picking the green larvae off by hand.

Luckily our resident blue tits are now raising their chicks, and they have discovered this perfect food source so close to their home. So I have a couple of eager helpers!

Here are some pictures of the blue tit parents flying in and out of the nest box. They are taken from my son's bedroom widow. Not the best quality, but you get the idea ...
(I especially like the blurry shape of the bird flying off!)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Christian Aid week 11th - 17th May 2008

This week is Christian Aid week.
If you get an envelope through the door, why not give generously?
Or donate through the official website?

Here is some information about the aims and activities of the organisation, taken from their website:
"We work in more than 50 countries, for example Afghanistan, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Colombia, Nigeria, Kenya and Brazil. We are frequently not alone: Christian Aid often works with sister agencies, such as Action by Churches Together International, in disaster relief activities.

With our partners and allies, we uphold a commitment to honesty, professionalism, mutual respect, accountability and diversity. We are committed to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Code of Conduct, meaning we never link aid with evangelism.

Our staff share the diversity of nationality, faith and ethnicity yet are all committed to the essential purpose of Christian Aid and its role as a Christian relief, development and advocacy agency.

Christian Aid is a voice for the poor, not afraid of getting political. We believe that God does not want poverty, injustice, discrimination and unsustainable development in the world. So we campaign for change, challenging structures and systems that make and keep people poor. The values of justice, peace and love must challenge the world’s values and our own, prompting us to re-examine how our lifestyles and decisions affect others. That is our charitable purpose and part of our Christian vocation. It does not mean getting involved in party politics but it does mean confronting with the truth people who have the power to change things. Christian Aid does not try to hide its anger when poor people are exploited."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Running update

Here is my latest running update:
This morning I went for another run. Luckily I made it back home before the sun decided to break through the hazy cloud cover.

I am now up to 60 minutes of solid running - covering approx. 9 km in the process.
Some improvement on the 6 km I managed when I started back in February ...

This morning my route took me past the Grand Union Canal and along an old disused canal arm, which once went to Buckingham.

Here are the locks at Cosgrove:

Friday, May 2, 2008

Garden update

Now May is here and the weather forecast for the week is pretty good, the beans have moved out into the garden.
They are looking fine after their first night out.

The alpine strawberries caught my eye, so I took a picture of them too.
Spot the little ant!

Sock mania

Here are my latest socks, UK size 5-7 (approximately 2-3 years).
I love the bright sunny colours, so I call them the 'Walking on Sunshine socks'.

They are knitted with a peasant heel (also called 'afterthought heel') - a pattern which I have been using for a few years now.
I wrote my own pattern which gives 8 different sizes, ranging from newborn to adult size. It is very versatile and can, with a little practice, be adapted to fit any foot size.

The pattern can be purchased in pdf format from my etsy shop. Full instructions and two pages of pictures included.