Lockdown Gardening

Apart from sewing during lockdown we have been keeping the garden looking good for when we can have visitors! Here’s a small selection of  the best bits.

 

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Gorgeous tulips

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Hosts

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Peony

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Peony

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Arum Lily

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Helping!

Lockdown Sewing

I haven’t much felt like writing during lockdown. However, I have been sewing a lot!

Here’s a selection of what I have been making – not many words just pictures 😃

 

 

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Cielo dress – Closet Case Patterns
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Suki Robe -Helens Closet
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Suki Robe – Helens Closet
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Simplicity

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Free Range Pants – Sew House Seven
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Face masks for friends and family
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Zadie Jumpsuit – Paper Theory Patterns

 

Spring Gardening 2020 – Tues 24th March -Thurs 26th March

I planted more seeds. As I don’t have a heated greenhouse, I have to bring indoors the ones that need warmth. I only have a few places where there is heat underneath – i.e – a radiator – so I usually stagger the sowing. Once the first ones have germinated I can move them to other window sills and then finally to the greenhouse. Then I can sow some more!

I have now sown :

Stocks – a lovely fragrant bedding plant. Zinnia – a brightly coloured mix. These have to be planted in individual cells as they don’t like to be moved. They are also devoured by slugs, so I sometimes I have lost the lot!

Lobelia – these are white ones and the seeds are very very small and they take a long while to germinate so you need to be patient. However, once they get going, they are great and produce lots of lovely white flowers.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli – I have grown these in cells.

Tuesday March 24th

Oh dear 1st day of Coronavirus lockdown – I took solace I the garden and the sunshine to take my mind off it.

Today the seeds arrived from my brother – so kind – basil, butternut squash chilli and yellow courgette?

I sowed chillis and basil and put them on the windowsill in one of the spare bedrooms. It’s very sunny and above a radiator so it should be ok.

I also moved the blue and white agapanthus back out into the garden from the greenhouse, where they have been overwintering. I watered all the pots as it’s been unusually dry.

Some herbs survived the mild winter, so I have got oregano,parsley and chives already.

Flat leaf and curly parsely, chives and oregano
Blue Agapanthus

Weds 25th March – I sowed some veg crops straight into the ground. Beetroots, spring onions, radishes. I have left spaces to sow another line of each in a fortnight.

Thurs 26th March – I weeded the path of the woodland garden. I was really pleased to see that the Erythronium Pagoda bulbs have started to bloom. There’s not much else to do here at the moment.

The woodland path was dotted with Spanish bluebells which I don’t want!
Erythronium Pagoda


I tried to get as much done in the garden whilst the weather is good, as it is forecast to get cooler and cloudier, so time to move indoors and get back to the sewing!

Spring Garden 2020

Well, it’s the beginning of a new year in the garden. Who knows quite what this one will be like? Today I am starting to keep a log of what I do.

Day 1 – Cleared out all the dead foliage in the bedsand cut down some Rosa Ragusa which was taking over.

Gave the pond a quick clean of weed. I had given it a thorough clear out in the Autumn, so it wasn’t too bad.

Mark cut the grass, it’s looks very green and healthy and no sign of the leather jackets like last year.

I looked at what seeds I had – vegetables, herbs and flowers. I need to think what else I need and then order them. My lovely brother has some of the seeds I need and is going to put them in the post to me. I tried in vain to order from two plant websites last night and resorted to Amazon.

Day 2 – Planted some seeds – tomato, spinach, lettuce,coriander, lemongrass, pea shoots. I left the spinach, lettuce and coriander in the greenhouse and bought the tomato and lemongrass in as they need warmth. I decided not to grow too many tomato plants this year as if they go I can’t bear to throw them away.

Mark went to B&Q to buy some compost and horticultural grit so we have it when we need it, in case these types of shops are closed in the near future.

Escaping the Coronavirus Lockdown in Spain and France

Well how things change in such a short space of time…

We arrived in Estepona in Spain to spend the cold winter months in the sun. We were due to leave on 15th March. We had booked all our accommodation and Eurostar train for the four days it would take us to come home. Then suddenly things went mad. Coronavirus crept up on us and the situation took us by surprise.

There we were on Thursday 12th doing a bit of shopping in Carrefour and wondering why the queues were massive. On Friday, the Estepona Tapas competition was cancelled but we still walked into town and had a few drinks and some tapas as our friends were leaving on Saturday to return to France.

Saturday we went back to Carrefour to get some food for the journey and some to take home, but what a difference a day had made. It was crazy busy, queues even longer and some panic buying.

Then we started hearing about the lockdown. We didn’t really know what to do. The villa we were staying in was free for the next few weeks, so we asked if we could stay. We rang our travel insurers and asked if they would cover any costs but they told us that we would have to wait until Monday as the underwriters weren’t in! We were not happy but after a lot of thought, we decided to not leave on our departure date. We cancelled all our accommodation. We were afraid that we would get stuck at the Spanish/French border and be in no mans land. We decided to go back to the supermarket and stock up as we wouldn’t be allowed out after the lockdown.

On Monday, on lockdown, we waited on the phone for an hour and half to speak to the insurers. Eventually, late in the afternoon, we received an email saying they would not pay our accommodation as it was possible for us to travel home by car. We started to panic a bit as the news was that the borders were closing. I joined several groups on Facebook and desperately tried to find out whether it was possible to drive out. No one really seemed to know. There seemed to be lots of information for people who had flown to Spain but nothing for people like us who had driven.

We made a decision about 5pm to do a runner early on Tuesday morning. Half our stuff was still packed and we had to leave a lot of frozen food in the freezer as we didn’t know how long it would take us to get back and if we would be able to get any accommodation with cooking facilities.

We packed everything into the car and trailer and prepared ourselves food to eat on the way and finally went to bed about 12 midnight.

We set the alarm for 4.30 am with a view of going as sooon as we were ready. We hardly slept at all. We didn’t really know what was going to happen, but just felt we need to get back home.

When that alarm went off, little did we know what a long day we were going to have. We locked up and left at 6.00 am. It was dark and raining! It rarely rains in Estepona so this took us by surprise.

However, we got everything in, locked up and got on the A-7 to get us away from Estepona. It was eerie and I was convinced we were going to get stopped by the Police many times along the way. We agreed to drive in 2 hours slots.

The A-7 turned into the AP7, which is a toll road. We planned to get out by the quickest means and that meant using all the Toll roads there were, despite the cost. We didn’t plan to get out of the car except for fuel and to give Mollie a quick walk.We had a flask of coffee, water, food and snacks. We set the Sat Nav for Madrid.

Setting off
Warnings
Granada
Before Madrid

So we drove to Madrid. We really were expecting to see a big Police presence and roadblocks. But there were none!

After Madrid
Basque Country – also an area which had been in lockdown for a while with high numbers of infections

Our original plan was to try and get to the border. However, once we realised that the roads were quiet, we agreed that we would carry on driving into Poitier in France if possible. It would mean driving in the dark again. I contacted the Air B&B I had cancelled and asked if he would reinstate it. He agreed so we had something to drive too.

Coming up to the Spanish/French border

When we got to the border, there was a massive queue of lorries but fortunately, we drove up the outside lane and as we drew closer we were waved through and didn’t have to stop. We were so relived!

The next few hours we plodded on. We stopped at a service station to have a picnic on the trailer 😂 and use the loo and re- fuel again. We went through endless tolls but gloved up each time and wiped the credit card each timeworn anti -bac. I was paranoid about getting germs!

It was a long slog to Poitier and all in all it took us 16 and a half hours to get there. We were very tired, but happy that we didn’t have to sleep in the car, as we thought we might have to. We were able to shower, eat and sleep before the last leg of our journey.

Back on the road in France
Service Station in France
Calais and on to the Eurotunnel
Bloody M25

Once we arrived at Calais, we had a while to wait. The restaurants were all closed but the loos were open. We were instructed to use the toilet facilities as the ones on the train were closed. We were also told to stay in the car for the duration of the train journey.

We had to get Mollie’s passport signed off and then we went and waited for the train. We went through French customs first who didn’t even look at our passports. The British Passport control looked at our passports but shockingly didn’t even ask us where we had been or whether we were well!

Eventually we got on the train and arrived in Folkestone for the 3 hour drive back home. It was a scary journey as it was dark and rainy and the motorways were packed with lorries.

We finally arrived back home at about 10.30 so pleased to be safe and well. I am going on a self imposed isolation for 2 weeks and Mark will go out for supplies. After 2 weeks, assuming we are both well, I will take my turn walking the dog and going shopping.

It was a long journey but we are so glad we made the decision to leave. Who knows what the next few months have in store, but whatever happens, we are at home and at least we can garden, cook and I can sew.

Sew House 7 – Burnside Bibs

So I finally made these – what I would call dungarees. Actually, they feel like a trouser apron, if that makes sense.

I made them out of some beautiful pale green linen, which I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show, from the Higgs and Higgs company. I bought the fabric with this pattern in mind and saved it for one of my sewing projects in Spain.

Needless to say, the linen sewed up really easily and I decided to use white thread so as I would have a contrast. I made up size 16 but I ended up taking them in at either side about 1 inch. They still pull up over my hips, but the back doesn’t bunch up as much.

I know they will serve me well, working in my kitchen or my sewing studio. They are comfortable and strangely warm and cool at the same time. I know they are not the most flattering item but i made them to be practical and they fit the bill.

I am wearing them with a simple a short sleeved t-shirt underneath but I know they will look good with a shirt or a long sleeved t-shirt too.

I wasn’t sure about them right up until I finished them. I really wanted to like them but thought they might make me look too chunky. Anyway, I don’t care if they do cos I love them.


Cielo Dress – Grey Chambray

This is my second Cielo dress. The first one I made as a toile, see my previous post. Unfortunately it shrunk, and is now a lovely tunic, which I wear with navy leggings.

I couldn’t decide whether to go down a size as the neckline was a bit big on the top version. Eventually I decided to stick with the 14 as it was the closest to my measurements.

I wanted a short sleeved version with pockets for the Spring. I fancied the grey chambray with swallows on. I bought 3 metres of this from Higgs and Higgs at £7 per metre.

I couldn’t figure out how the dress pockets worked from the shape of the pattern pieces and was convinced it wouldn’t work. However, of course I was wrong. After a couple of steps to the construction, it was obvious! I also chose to do the neck facings rather than the bias strip and I am glad I did as the neck fits perfectly. The top stitching and cuffs are nice details along with the massive pockets.

The construction was easy and I cut it out one day and sewed it up in a day.

There were no issues with the pattern or the fabric. I am very pleased with it and can see me wearing it a lot.

My New Favourite Gluten Free Loaf

Oh this is very good. Recommended to me by my son, it is now my gluten free loaf to go to. It’s a recipe from Dan Lepard.

It’s made with rice flour, potato starch and a new addition for me in bread recipes – cornflour.

It actually has the softness of ordinary bread and I can actually make a sandwich with it, rather than just having it as toast, like most gluten free breads.

Apart from the texture, the flavour is malty. Another thing about this loaf is the brilliant way the crust is created. After 30 minutes you carefully pour olive oil over the top of the loaf which then forms a great crust. So simple yet sooo effective. This is so good for people who are gluten free. The crunch is one of those things I miss the most.

Anyway, just try it. It gets the thumbs up from non gluten free eaters too!

Prep 40 min
Rest 1 hr 30 min
Cook 45 min
Makes 1 x 900g loaf

150g potato starch
150g cornflour
50g rice flour
15g psyllium husk powder
50g linseeds
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
7g sachet fast-action yeast
60g egg white (from two 60g eggs)
5g salt
10g dark muscovado sugar
30g molasses or black treacle
20g cider vinegar
Extra seeds, to finish
Olive or other oil, for baking

Line the inside of a large loaf tin with nonstick paper – this is important because gluten-free loaves can stick to the metal. In a large bowl, measure and mix together the potato starch, cornflour, rice flour, psyllium husk and seeds.

In another large bowl, stir 350g warm water with the yeast until dissolved. Whisk in the egg white and salt until frothy, then mix in the sugar, molasses and vinegar evenly.

Beat the dry ingredients with the liquid mixture very well for 15-20 seconds, then leave the soupy liquid for 10 minutes while the psyllium and linseed absorb water and start to thicken it slightly.

Pour the mixture into the tin, sprinkle with extra seeds, cover loosely and leave to rise somewhere warm for about 90 minutes, or until almost doubled in size: gluten-free loaves don’t really get oven-spring much beyond the height of the rise before baking.

Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/gas 9. Spray the top of the loaf lightly with water, then bake for 30 minutes, until just starting to colour on top: the crust will look chalky and dry, but that’s OK. Open the oven door, carefully drizzle oil evenly and lightly over the top of the loaf, then close the door, reduce the heat to 220C (200C fan)/gas 7 and bake for another 15 minutes. This will “baste” the crust and give it a rich, golden colour.

Remove from the oven, lift the loaf carefully from the tin as hot oil may have collected in the base, then leave on a wire rack until cold before slicing.

Pleiades 2 – French Poetry

This pattern has been a challenge! I will detail more about it when I do my Minerva blog.

There does seem to be a glaring mistake in the instructions. The back bodice comes in 2 pieces but the instructions never tell you to sew them together and in the pictures it looks like 1 piece??

Ah the collar, I’ve left that piece at home! So we will opt for the pussy bow instead. I haven’t got that bit either but I can sort of make that up, I think.

So all that done. The pussy bow isn’t long enough to tie in a bow but can be tied in a tie fashion as my photo. We can change this if it’s not right.

Now the bit I was dreading, the button holes and buttons. The bit I fear the most is lining them up and making the button holes fit the space. Even though I use the automatic button hole function on my machine, the button holes alway look massive. Anyway, I took things slowly and didn’t have any major disasters. It’s not perfect but looks ok. The hems on the sleeves and the body of the dress, went without a hitch.

It’s now winging its way back to the UK for my sister Angie to try on. She is going to do the photo shoot and send the shots back to me to edit and add to the blog post.

The finished article

Now that you have seen and admired it, I will point out the major flaw if you haven’t seen it already. You must stare at the dress and the pattern and then you will see that some of the arrows go up and some go down. It doesn’t really notice as the pattern is so busy.

I realised the reason for this was because I cut the pieces out with the fabric folded over, so one piece of the dress front goes in one direction and the other in the other direction. In order to avoid this happening, I should have cut it out in one single piece. I don’t think it’s a complete disaster personally. The OH agrees. Let us see if sister Angie notices 🙃

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