The not so moon gazing hare

Hello All

I am a very lucky woman. Yesterday my friend AJ gave me a fantastic needle felting book


it’s filled with small and delightful creatures and step by step guides on how to make them. AJ and me particularly liked Gretel Parker‘s moon-gazing hare


so out from the stash came a bag of silvery North Ronaldsay fleece


and away I went. Carefully following the photographs things were going well. The body was shaping up nicely

But then I went off piste…. and the result was less moon-gazing more Harriet ‘the having a good look around’ hare. See what you think


I’ve had words with her



and she said not to worry as there is more than one way to observe the heavens…


Hares are obviously very laid back… it must be the ears….



Till next we meet. Moke x

PS Thank you AJ it’s a fabulous book. Moke xxx


High Days and Roman Holidays

Hello All

Being born on 24 July in the 57th year of the last century means that I have just turned 57 myself. A pleasing symmetry.

After an early morning birthday call from No1 Son, No1 Daughter arrived to take her old mum out for the day. Off we set in glorious sunshine for the pretty Lancashire village of Ribchester.

No1 Daughter knew the perfect place for lunch DSCI0326

Steamingly hot no one was sitting inside said glass house but outside under cheerful parasols or broad brimmed hats thoughtfully provided by the proprietors. I snaffled a jaunty blue number. I thought I looked tres chic. I can’t imagine what that girl of mine was sniggering at.

What a friendly and convivial setting for a happy birthday lunch.

The cafe is part of an eclectic mix of little businesses which are set up in small summer houses dotted around what is also a delightful rambling garden centre.

A special treat. But the day was not over.

Lying on the banks of an expansive stretch of the River Ribble – on this hot day filled with squealing children trying to cool down – Ribchester is a picture postcard village. It has a 13th century church, St Wilfred’s DSCI0337


cottages quaint enough to feature on top of a biscuit tin lid DSCI0332


and comes complete with an 18th century hostelry, The White Bull. DSCI0328

But what makes it very special to me are the remains of the Roman fort of Bremetennacum the story of which is told in the village’s small but beautifully formed museum.DSCI0330


Famously Bremetennacum was garrisoned by Sarmatian auxiliaries. These highly accomplished horsemen from the lower Danube came to Britain after their defeat by the legions of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in 175AD. In this fabulous mongrel nation of ours I like to fancy that modern day Ribchesterians will be descended from these exotic nomadic people.

The ‘Roman’ visitors also left behind more tangible traces of their lives at Bremetennacum: their granaries

and a little walk away, their bath house

complete with an add-on medieval well DSCI0342

I couldn’t resist patting the sun-warmed stones and thinking of the people who had dressed and placed them there. It made me smile.

I’ll let you into a little secret: over the years I have researched the Sarmatians in Roman Britain for a novel and if you are really interested you can have a sneaky peek of the first few chapters on Wattpad. Beware it is very different from my blog!

No1 Daughter and I had a lovely time chatting and tootling about the site of this ancient world but thank goodness for modern conveniences and a last cup of tea. DSCI0347


Until we meet next. Moke

Under foot

Hello All

Of late I have found myself captivated with the rocks beneath our feet. Prompted by my latest book on the train


I’ve started taking more notice of what’s under foot.

By exploring his past through the quarries and mines of his childhood Ted Nield piqued my interest in our local geology and how it made Kendal the little Auld Grey Town that it is. While Kendal looks north toward the hills of the Lake District – ancient eroded volcanoes which erupted around 450 million (!) years ago – Kendal Fell sits on an area of limestone and you see it everywhere. As you walk out the door



down the lane


wrapped in moss




sparkly new


supporting buildings


creating pretty lanes


funneling chimney stacks




and spanning arches DSCI0304


To think that Kendal’s signature stone was formed millions of years ago in shallow seas when what is now England was south of the Equator … amazing!

Quick before I go. As I was typing today’s blog I had a little visitor. He popped in the back door to escape a heavy downpour.


Stayed for a while and when the clouds had gone hopped out into the foliage.



Until we meet again, ribitttttttttt. Moke


… does your garden grow?

Hello All

Just a quick epistle this week. I have spent ALL weekend* painting No1 Son’s room. As it is his domain I will not invade his privacy by showing snaps of it just take it from me it has undergone something of a transformation from boy-man cave to neutral calm.

While me old limbs are stiffening from the rigorous application of magnolia – the colour of choice for those of us colouristically challenged – something marvelous has been happening in the garden. Last week I was wondering where are my chivesDSCI0282

Drum roll…building to fanfare…HERE THEY ARE: DSCI0292

Last week I also wondered where are my pumpkinsDSCI0277

Contain yourselves… they are: DSCI0288

and there’s more…. DSCI0289

As for the promise of greater things,DSCI0280

that came through too: DSCI0291

I am very content with these wee buds. And with weather glorious hope they go from strength to strength. How does your garden..tub…park…grow?

Until next we meet. Moke


* You know I said ALL weekend? There was one teeny-weeny break…thanks to JG for meeting up with me for coffee and cake. All those calories gave me strength to carry on. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Moke



The Inconstant Gardener

Hello All

This time last year I was a library lady and with Children’s Librarian FT gearing up ready for the Summer Reading Challenge, Creepy House. Do you remember all the batty bats?


Although now in a different job I am still very excited that libraries all over the country will be preparing themselves for the 2014 Summer Reading Challenge, Mythical Maze.



It starts next Saturday….good luck all.

Remembering my time with the Young People’s Library Service there is one aspect that I really miss, story times. Reading to children is a special thing. Always rewarding especially when your young audience becomes completely absorbed in the tales you are sharing with them. There are many wonderful books written and illustrated by a wealth of fabulous children’s authors so there is no shortage of brilliant material.

One story is particularly relevant to my present endeavours in the garden. I am not the most consistent nor patient gardener and always chuckled when I read the account of Jasper the cat and his horticultural mis-adventures.


In Jasper’s Beanstalk by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen our friend Jasper soon loses patience when the bean he sows does not immediately respond to his intensive nurturing. I know how he feels….where are my pumpkins?


Where are my chives?


I planted them DAYS ago and we’ve had sunshine and rain since then….. Guess I will have to show a bit more forbearance. You never know like Jasper something incredible may grow. I have some hope…


In any event thank goodness for re-potting plants that gardeners with more tolerance have started off.



In the midst of all these earthworks (ermmm) you’ll be pleased to know that I have finished the Minimalism Game. Yippee!!! To the untrained eye it would be hard to tell. However one of the things I dispensed with has made a difference. The telly is no more (wow) and after a furniture move around I find I have a big patch of bare floorboards. Not for long. My t-arn rug is finished and covers the spot perfectly.


The shades may be at odds with the room’s colour scheme – like that has ever troubled me! – but I think my little rug has nonetheless lent the space some homespun cosiness. I’m hoping the slightly wobbly edges will settle down after being trampled over… Thanks again B for all that t-shirt cutting.

The weather here is glorious and I hope it is the same wherever you are.

Until next we meet. Moke.

Mother and Daughter Day

Hello All

As you know my two little birds have both grown and flown. Independently of one another No 1 Daughter and No 1 Son have fluttered their way to Leeds in West Yorkshire – thank goodness we are Cumbrians and not Lancastrians! – and made their homes in this stunning city.

Yesterday instead of traveling North to Carlisle I waited on the opposite platform to travel south then east to meet up with my girl S and spend a day in her new home town. First port of call Giraffe  for some veggie breakfast, a superb pot of tea and a mother-daughter natter and discussion about what to do with the rest of the day. Leeds’ Giraffe is situated in the new Trinity Centre on Albion Street. While I am not the world’s biggest fan of large shopping centres I have to confess Trinity is beautifully laid out with some airy and light architectural touches, DSCI0269

striking sculpture DSCI0269

and opportunities for small independent traders….more of that later.

I love the broad pedestrianized streets of this northern city especially those that run between the stylish and sophisticated arcades of the Victoria Quarter which I am amazed to discover were designed by theatre architect Frank Matcham.

A few years ago I went on a tour of the Gaiety Theatre in Douglas on the Isle of Man which is a Frank Matcham designed theatre. It was a fascinating insight into the work of this prodigious architect. I couldn’t believe his work stretched to shopping malls..

On this occasion however we were too distracted by the colourful Andean musicians even to notice Mr. Matcham’s ornate constructions. 10494659_10152163450342073_7075608135986980595_n

They sounded as good as they looked.


No 1 daughter and her boyfriend R live in one of the new developments along the canal which meant a very picturesque walk to their city centre home

and a pretty little bridge adorned by the latest trend in affirmations of endearment.


This is what I love about urban living. Being able to walk to everything you need! Leeds is a city surrounded by easily reachable beautiful countryside yet living in the centre you can also access so much by foot. Theatres, cinemas, community venues and of course cafes and shops are all on your doorstep. S has joined many great groups – the Women’s Institute is one of them….that’s my girl…. – and can see opportunities for starting up her own hobby and community initiatives using local independent cafes as venues. All without hopping in the car. It makes my heart sing. Oops eulogy over.

Having had time-out to play with S and R’s characterful – for characterful read he pee’d on my foot – little dog, George. S and I went off to our main venue for the day the Thackray Medical Museum which is next to St James’ Hospital (gulp).photo11

In the recent past I made a visit to The Surgeons’ Hall Museums in Edinburgh with my latin-learning friend AH. I am not particularly squeamish but even I suffered a loss of appetite after peering at the HUGE and gruesomely fascinating collection of pathological anatomy held there.

I was therefore a little hesitant about repeating the experience too soon. But I needn’t have worried for although the Thackray unavoidably conveys our grisly medical past it does so through narratives based on the lives of a number of Victorian characters and their medical conditions. Where the Surgeons’ Hall appeals to adult academic interest the Thackray  is very hands on, smelly (Victorian streets definitely whiffed) and family friendly. S and I had a great time, and while there were no children present enjoyed ourselves having a go at checking our reflexes (mine non-existent) and finding out about why people trump! Notably we both scuttled quickly past archive footage of a poor soul having their foot amputated….

Thankfully we were not put off our food. Despite carefully following the dietary tract journey of a pea (it takes 24 hours in case you were wondering) we sought out tea and returned to Trinity Kitchen. Here miraculously parked amongst the restaurants are a clutch of independently owned caravans and campers there on 4-week pitches selling scrumptious edibles. Remember I mentioned eons ago when I started this blog that the Trinity Shopping Centre gave scope to independent outlets?

We opted for Vietnamese street food photo13

made by the lovely enthusiastic Emily Boothroyd. Emily told us about her travels around Vietnam where she picked up her passion for the country and its cuisine. Our spicy blackbean tofu and aubergine banh mi(s) were succulent and tasty. A perfect end to a lovely day.

And on that happy note I will leave you until next we meet. Moke.