The man who met Yuri Gagarin

Don’t strange and amazing things happen when you travel on trains? Or in my case bus train bus train. They certainly did on my latest trip to Yorkshire to see my family. And here I am curled up in my eldest granddaughter’s bed – rather like Mama Bear sleeping in Baby Bear’s cot – tapping out these few words to tell you all about it.

The journey started in it’s usual peaceful way with me hopping on the 555 Stagecoach bus to Carnforth. I love this bus route, it has to be one of the best in the country. It was comfortingly familiar to be swirling through the glorious green countryside even if the impacts of Covid 19 are still with us. I particularly liked the sign on the open window, got to love a low tech solution to a world pandemic.

Getting off the bus I had a little wait at Carnforth railway station before my train. Time to take a few of my wobbly pics and feel a little sad that Carnforth couldn’t enjoy it’s celebration in 2020 of 75 years since the making of the film “Brief Encounter” in which the station features.

I did notice that Carnforth Station Heritage Centre has re-opened and seemed almost as busy as pre-pandemic. “Brief Encounter” is a film classic adored by many. I have a confession, I don’t like it! I love the station and the Heritage Centre which displays a wealth of social and industrial history. The film however leaves me cold. Perhaps I am being harsh “Brief Encounter” is a creation of it’s time. But controlling men and simpering women do nothing for me.

Moving on before the fans – some of whom are dear friends – turn nasty! I also had a chance to look at some of the posters that adorned the walls of my platform. They have been there a while and I had begun to overlook them. They are really good. Here are a couple. These celebrate the RSPB nature reserve at Leighton Moss. I will try and share the rest next time I am at the station.

So far so normal journey to Yorkshire. Things began to change when I got to Skipton and I hopped aboard my second bus of the day the 64 to Ilkley (the X84 no longer seems to run from Skipton straight through to my daughter’s village. Grrr). It was full of people and happy chattering filled the air. My phone rang. It was a call I really really had to take.

“Pardon? … What?” I mumbled to the caller, muffled by the face mask I was still sort of trying to wear. “Sorry I can’t…quite…hear you” I continued with my finger pressed in my free ear trying hard to concentrate on what the caller was saying. “ I HAVE THE JOB?!!!” I almost shouted with glee (frankly I am surprised that the bus didn’t give me a cheer as I was so loud everyone must have heard). Well I had got the job and I said YES straight away. It was a marvellous moment in the strangest setting.

What I am up to and who I will be working for will have to wait. But hopefully the coming months will be filled with wonderful information about my new employer. Don’t worry it’s not MI5 … although I would say that wouldn’t I?

This journey was definitely out of the ordinary. First the job offer then I met a man who had met Yuri Gagarin. Honestly I am not with MI5. Or am I?

As I got off the bus at Ilkley to catch the train to Burley In Wharfedale I got chatting – as you do – to a lovely man. He told me about how he had met his wife. For my money this was a much better romance than that in the aforementioned film. It all started when he met Yuri Gagarin.

In 1961 at the height of the Cold War Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin – the first person to travel in outer space – was visiting Britain. He crossed paths with my gentleman when they were both visiting an art exhibition.

Gagarin was a huge celebrity at the time and attracted very large crowds everywhere he went. During this visit he was threatened with being crushed under the weight of people wanting to touch the man who had been in space. My fine fellow had linked arms with the cosmonaut’s KGB guard to protect the spaceman. Gagarin had been pushed against him and thankful for his services had shared some time with him and even pressed into his hand his medal for space travel so my gent could have a good look at it.

Where’s the girl? We are not quite there yet. My friendly chap told me that meeting the Soviets made him realise that, despite the propaganda, the Russians were just ordinary people not the monsters they were portrayed as being. He became curious. But it was hard to find out anything positive about the Soviet Union in those chilly days so he decided he would have to visit Russia. Ah so he met a Russian girl and they lived happily ever after. Not so fast my friends.

Why did he share his tale with me? It was because of my connection with the Lake District. Didn’t see that coming did you? Before going to Russia this charming friendly man had gone hill walking in the Lakes and been talking to fellow hikers about the lack of information on the Soviet Union. He was pointed in the direction of a young woman. Unusual for the times she had spent some months in Russia learning about the people and culture.

Yes you are right this was ‘the one’. They met and after what I gathered was a whirlwind romance he proposed to her on Cat Bells (a popular fell to the west of Derwentwater in Cumbria) and they did live happily ever after. Poignantly his lovely wife died only a short time ago. I think this is why he told me their beautiful story too. It was a way of remembering happy days and passing on his wife’s memory.

We did not exchange names and I hope that anyone who may recognise this tale will forgive me any errors I have made in the re-telling. It was a heart warming story of love and also of gaining understanding through learning about those we have been led to fear. This kindly man’s story further lifted my already high spirits. I hope it lifts yours too.

As I relate this I realise I had my own brief encounter! And on that bookend I will bid you adieu.

Until next we meet,

Moke x

PS I may have been ‘tipped the wink’ about the job offer as one of my fantastic references KC had text me while I was on the Skipton train to say she had been contacted by my new employer. Big thanks KC for what must have been an amazing reference. Mx

Village Life

Hello All

Feeling a wee bit blurry as I adapt to early starts once more. Strange how getting up at 4.30am makes finding the sleep you desperately need so elusive! But nothing like toddler sitting to keep a Grandma moving despite her natural inclination to sit in a cosy chair and snooze … oops … read. Don’t fret no toddlers were actually sat on during the construction of this post.

It is always a delight to see wee Peanut. She has a never ending supply of energy and curiosity. Yesterday she was brim full with excitement. Her village is in the midst of it’s annual festival and best of all

It was Dog Show day! No1 Daughter set off early to help with an Animals Asia stand. Meanwhile Peanut and I took our time toddling around the village investigating the scarecrows dotted along our route.

Scarecrow Festivals have become very popular over the last twenty years or so. Peanut’s village has joined in this fine tradition, a tradition that is only a blink of an eye in the history of scarecrows.

Scarecrows have been around as long as people have grown crops and birds have been hungry. Did you know that the earliest recorded reference to scarecrows is ancient Egyptian? a scarecrow is even to be found in Japan’s oldest surviving book “Kojiki” which dates to the 8th century. In medieval Britain young boys were used as ‘Bird Scarers’ but after the Great Plague of 1348 and the consequent devastation of the population young lads were in short supply so farmers started creating human-like forms from stuffed sacks and turnip heads to put in their fields.

Today they are not only agricultural aids they are also small works of art created by families and villagers to bring fun and laughter to their communities. Peanut’s village did not disappoint. We spotted scarecrows at the pub:

(Peter Rabbit! Yorkshire you are treading on Cumbrian territory here….)

At the church:

(Mr Men, pourquoi?)

And of course at the nursery where this poor family ain’t half having a struggle to pull out this recalcitrant turnip:

Even with the help of their dog, cat and … mouse!

I have discovered that the story of the giant (or enormous) turnip is a Russian folktale written by Tolstoy. The joke in the tale is that it is only with the help of the smallest creature, the mouse, that the huge root is pulled from the ground. The moral of course is that anything can be accomplished if we work together.

While we were looking at the nursery another happy little tale unfolded. I was admiring the nursery’s kitchen garden with Peanut when one of the staff arrived carrying a cabbage. I found out that she has been carefully plucking caterpillars from their vegetables, gently putting them in a small netted area and keeping them fed. She had brought along the cabbage as their weekend rations. Her kindness for the caterpillars (and the vegetable plot) will provide a wonderful experience for the children who will watch these wriggly creepy crawlies transform into butterflies … or … cabbage moths….

Do you know that it is only as I am typing this that I have realised there was a theme to the scarecrow tableaux, children’s stories! Now Peter Rabbit and the Mr Men make sense.

Skimming over this evidence of my dimwittedness back to yesterday. With many a wall to walk along (Peanut not me…although those low walls are very tempting) and scarecrows to spot our peramble to the field took some time. But Peanut soon picked up the pace when she saw her mummy happily wo-manning the Animals Asia stall:

Super supporter F had made a magnificent job of decorating the stall with goodies and information. She even sourced the small toys for the raffle. Doesn’t it look great? Her hard work was rewarded by raising funds and awareness amongst the locals who are now getting together to start a village supporters group. Result!

Peanut had her own rewards too. Not only did she ‘win’ a bear in the ‘everyone wins a prize raffle’ she also gained a second bear when a villager passed her prize on to Peanut too! Lucky little girl.

This is village life. What a wonderful happy day we had. Icing on the cake, Peanut’s daddy was home from work in time to help pack up the stand while I looked for that cosy chair… zzzzzzz.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Sew Sew – Dog Bandanas

Hello All

Here at Casa Moke I have found a cool shady spot and have started making doggy bandanas for an Animals Asia stall at Burley Dog Show on Saturday 18 August.

Animals Asia supporter Sandra B (big thanks Sandra) kindly sent me samples and thoughtfully included one part made up so that I could see how they were finished:

Aren’t hers fab?! Love them.

I opted to make the style that attach to collars and set about making patterns in the various sizes:

And with a bit of help from my old friend the internet I soon had a variety of sizes drawn up:

Now the fun of stash busting and unleashing Jolly Janome began. I cut out a few of each size (predominantly the smaller sizes as those little fellows are so dapper) using fabrics that remained from other projects.

Leaving the flat top edge open, with right sides (RS) together I sewed the four remaining edges together after which I snipped off the excess near each corner and (just cos I have pinking shears, you don’t need to) pinked the fabric along each seam. I then turned over the open top edge about half an inch (sorry I am stuck in imperial):

Does the previous paragraph make sense now? I was beginning to lose myself in a quagmire of explanation!

Before turning to the right side, press down the half inch turn over at the open edge:

Turn out to the right side of the fabric leaving the pressed turn over on the inside:

I prodded out the corners with a large knitting needle. To get them crisp looking (those doggies are smart dudes) I gave another press:

Decide which side is going to be the back of your bandana. Fold the top (roughly) in half to the back of your bandana and … you guessed it …. press:

Your bandana should now look like this:

All that is left to do is to top stitch along the bottom edge of your fold – this will leave a channel for a collar to pass through – and voila! A crop of doggy bandanas:

I am just sorry that I no longer have a dog to model them…not even a toy dog!

These little beauties will be on sale from the Animals Asia stand at Burley In Wharfedale Dog Show in sunny West Yorkshire on Saturday 18 August 2018. Bandanas aside if you are able to visit the show please go it is a marvellous and fun celebration of dogs. Can’t wait for the ‘Most like my human’ category.

I have drawn out the patterns I made showing the rough measurements. Just ask if you think they would be useful to you and I will add a blog post with them on.

Out of interest do you have any suggestions for simple things to make for animal charity stands? Cheers me dears.

Until next we meet,

Moke x

Yorkshire Days

Hello All

Grandchild-sitting called with its joyous, exuberant and sometimes exhausting song. Bags packed I set off to help out for a few days in Yorkshire. Sitting at my usual bus stop I took in the view of the field opposite. Over many years I have watched this field change through the seasons. Sadly it is soon to be built on. I am savouring it while I can.

A bit of excitement followed while I awaited my Skipton bound train at Carnforth… famous acting couple Timothy West and Prunella Scales were filming! I really hope it was for another of their wonderful canal journey documentaries. These have been a huge hit here in the UK. We shall have to wait and see. Fingers crossed.

With baby-care handed over to me I found that I had a free day before picking Peanut up. Ilkley (of On Ilkley Moor bar t’at fame) was the day’s Elderado.

I had a short shopping list of sewing goodies to get and started with a visit to the lovely little Eme, in Brook Street.

This tiny shop has a wonderful selection of fabrics and is filled with inspirational patterns and projects. I couldn’t resist a couple of fat quarters for my patchwork stash. Keeping to a blue colour range I especially loved these.

And good old Boyes satisfied my interfacing needs. Fusible don’t you know! Useful for ‘holding’ patchwork before adding wadding and backing fabric ready for quilting.

Do any of you have Boyes shops? I think they are an ‘up North’ British thing. Boyes stores are an absolute hotch potch of goods – fishing tackle is next to card making and crafts; bird food near to toiletries – yet they have a fabulous haberdashery section and if I can’t find something anywhere else Boyes usually have it. To my mind Boyes may be slightly bonkers but it is always worth a look see.

Sewing needs met there was enough time to try out a local eatery

Daniel’s Cafe and Bistro had a great website (honestly read the bit about why is is called ‘Daniel’s’ it’s heartwarming) and more to the point there were plenty of vegan suitable goodies. The waiter was super-helpful and offered to adapt where possible anything on the menu. As it was there was no need as I went with the scrumptious home made veggie burger.

It was lovely to nibble my way through a leisurely tasty lunch with my latest read (thanks MB for the loan) and be ready for Peanut on my return.

Post-nursery swings and slides were demanded by my diminutive charge…oh how it took me back and oh how wonderful it was to have charged up my ‘batteries’ for a whole heap of pushing, lifting and spinning. Those playgrounds are brutal when a two-year old is in charge!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Wonderful news and a snippet

Hello All

Super family news… No1 Son proposed to his girlfriend and …… (drum roll please) …. she said “YES”! How fab is that? Amidst the snow and blizzards sent by the Beast from the East a happy story. They make a magic couple and I am thrilled for them. Soon to be No1 Daughter In Law – I know you read this blog – thank you for making my son a very happy young man. Congratulations to you both.

Smiling away as I now am time for just a little snippet of craftiness. After a snow-stopped-travel prolonged stay in Yorkshire I am home and have had chance to finish off a little project begun before I set off.

Despite the Arctic temperatures and Siberian snows (am I over exaggerating this winteriness? Surely not) I couldn’t help but think of summer sun (perhaps it was Lanzarote… now a distant memory….sigh….) and with a pattern and some jolly fabric I was ready to get sewing…

As always I found the bodice a wee bit fiddly. I have the hands of a sizeable Yeti when working diminutive toddler projects. But I got there eventually although the air was a shade of blue and that wasn’t the cold!

But with a few more pennies in the swear box the bodice and straps were all done before I donned snow boots (It was very snowy..and cold…don’t know if I mentioned that?) for the trek to the bus stop. Apparently buses can reach those places that trains can’t (ie Yorkshire). Gold star to the bus companies for running and the local authorities for getting the roads cleared. Bloomin’ good work.

However all that tricky stitching before I left made for a very productive day on my return. All I had to do was sew up the skirt seams attach aforementioned skirt to the bodice then yahoo! One summer dress for Peanut.

Now all we need is some sunshine for her to wear it……

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Hunkered

Hello All

Brrr. The cold and snow and frrreeeeezing wind has kept my walking to a minimum i.e. off bus in shop in cafe back on bus. I have instead hunkered down at home and been busy crafting.

Project one: cable hat. Using the second ball of the lovely wool gifted me by No 1 ‘daughter-in-law’ – the softest and cosiest yarn to work – I again used the Anna Hat free pattern at Margo Knits which is a small enough to sustain my enthusiasm and challenging enough to keep me on my toes …. or DPNs ….

Project two: patchwork cushion. At Christmas I promised that I would make No 1 Daughter some ‘Boho’ style cushions having failed to find any I liked and could afford. The fulfilment of my promise had to await the purchase of a new sewing machine. Now the proud owner of Jolly Janome and having practised on a patchwork pillow of my own it was time to get cracking.

The colours were ready and I had great fun deciding the layout. It was even more fun for Jolly and me to sew the strips. I even enjoyed all the pressing…am I weird?

The final result was pleasingly luxurious. Front and back.

Most importantly No1 Daughter loved it but here’s the rub …. she wants more! Looks like Jolly and I will be kept busy.

Project three: dress for me. For some time I have wanted to make myself something new to wear. I had spotted a couple of those lovely Merchant and Mills patterns that looked right up my street. Meeting up with No 1 to deliver the cushion I took the opportunity to nip into Cool Crafting in Skipton (they also have a shop in Kirby Lonsdale) and pick up a pattern … or two.

All I needed was fabric. While lying awake, head busy with crafting projects, I pictured the dress in stripes. So with No1 and granddaughter Peanut we went next day to Ilkley and the lovely ‘Eme Cloth & Yarn‘ emporium run by the friendly and really helpful Emma Garry. I loved this fabric and couldn’t resist getting enough for my frock and an outfit for Peanut. I shall just have to check with Peanut (she’s advanced for two) so that we don’t wear them at the same time!

Emma drew my attention to a rather special feature of this cloth. The selvedge.

Isn’t it beautiful? On Emma’s advice I carefully snipped it from the post-pattern-cutting cloth and plan to use it as edging in future makings. Waste not want not.

Cutting done – the Merchant and Mills pattern paper is super quality – Jolly and I were ready to roll. The instructions were pretty good although I found the diagram showing the insertion of the front bib a little confusing. None of the reviews mentions this so probably just me. Common sense, a bit of experimenting and some tacking (got to love a bit of tacking I say) soon overcame my muddle. And voila I have a new cotton dress-tunic.

Apologies for this photo but I couldn’t find a good spot to ‘pose’ the finished dress. I am loathed to model it myself but despite it’s slight nurse-like appearance – I didn’t notice this echo of Call The Midwife while working on it – please take it from me that it looks great and not at all like I have arrived to administer an enema.

And see what has been delivered while I have been tapping out this post. A new adventure beckons…

Hope you are having happy adventures and crafting time of your own.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Yarndale here we come ….. a promise kept.

Hello All

And yes… I made it … correction …Lorry and me made it to (drumroll please) YARNDALE whoo-hoo.

All good things start with a journey and Lorry knows the most civilized way to travel, Earl Grey and ginger biscuits, what else?

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Then settle down on the train from Lancaster to Skipton with a good read.

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In order to arrive refreshed in the lovely market town of Skipton.

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Of course I couldn’t take the short yarnbombed route. Oh no it was the Sedbergh walk back from Farfield all over again i.e. round the houses. But these detours are always worth it. With little reminders of happy days past,

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pretty lanes,

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and small space living.

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Mmmm now there’s an idea. Delightful though my perambulations were I was pleased when I saw…

and I joined the queue (mental note: next year remember to buy ticket online in advance). With happy ladies around to chat to the queue moved quickly and in no time I was stamped

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Good grief I must moisturize!  and clutching in my hot sweaty crinkly hand a Yarndale programme.

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With Lorry safely tucked in the back pack we were IN.

I had said to myself that I wouldn’t take photos of things that you could see better on the Yarndale blog or on Attic 24  but I couldn’t resist an iconic bunting shot

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all that hard work to create a cheery welcome could not be ignored. Fabulous. Again this year’s mandala project meant I couldn’t resist a snap

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or two

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Aren’t they gorgeous? There was inspiration all around.

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Another small living idea perhaps? But Lorry was getting restless.

This time last year good friend Linda Frickel was in hospital and on my last visit I promised her that we would be coming to Yarndale in 2014. Sadly Linda could not be with me nonetheless I felt I must visit Yarndale to hold to that promise. Having won the marvelous Lorry in the Frickel Pig raffle he was destined to come too. Lorry reminded me of the fun, colour and enthusiasm Linda embodied. All I needed was a photo that encapsulated all that Linda loved about woolly stuff…..I can’t believe what I did next (Linda I hope you are having a celestial chuckle!). There was only one place that I could take Lorry’s picture,

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in the arms of the lovely Lucy of Attic 24 fame!

Lucy was as super in person as she is on her blog and I want to thank her very much for taking time to listen to Linda’s story and have her picture taken with Lorry. Linda absolutely loved Lucy’s blog at Attic 24 it appealed to her love of craft and more especially colour. She worked on the blog’s projects and introduced all at Wool’n’Stuff to it. I am now an addict. I hope this happy little moment for me and Lorry reaches Linda in the heavens …. and she also notices I got in the famously yarn bombed lamp stand in the background!

Yarndale was a wonderful event. Well done to all the organisers but special thanks to Lucy for making my day and helping me feel in some small way I had kept my promise to Linda.

Until next we meet, Moke x

The Joy of Wallowing

Did I ever mention that I like the occasional wallow in self-pity? I know hard to imagine. But…

As a precursor to the chillier weather I developed a cold front of my own. Hacking chesty cough, sore throat, runny nose…you get the picture ….the works.

My friends knew I was feeling a teensy (what is that loud guffawing?) bit sorry for myself (stop that nodding in agreement!). Anyhoo, like a trooper (…stop it…) I carried on (picture hand raised to brow) but luckily as the week closed a ray of sunshine lifted my spirits. Yarndale Bunting I love you and all your cheery colourfulness. Thank you to the ladies (and gentlemen?) of Yarndale – that little bit of Yorkshire that seems to cover the entire globe – for providing a welcome divertissement from the onset of Autumn.

Nonetheless the cold wind whistling through the trees is a timely reminder to find ways to embrace the season. Out comes the trusty stock pot for hearty soups and Clara Chuff (my trolley) is taken into town to carry home delicious vegetables from the market for a warming supper served with jacket potatoes and grated cheese….yummmmm!

As to the town coat of arms and the motto beneath – Pannus Mihi Panis – more of that later….

Having made it (just) through the week I was relieved that I was able to get together with a group of friends two of whom are celebrating special birthdays. To spare blushes I asked them to take the photos to mark the occasion. You could call it an eclectic mix!

Can I say every group should have a JG cos without her mathematical wizardry we would never be able to work out the bill!

Having recovered from her calculations (offers are great until you have to factor them in to make everyone’s share fare!) JG and I were given lifts by AJ. Stopping at JGs for a final cuppa JG treated AJ and me to a slice of the wonderful AW’s cake. By now you will be becoming familiar with AWs sugarcraft and baking skills. She had surprised JG with one of her special cakes. ‘Ere ’tis,

AW had covered the cake with JG’s interests and loves, see what you can spot. And if you were wondering what AW’s cake looks like on the inside feast your eyes on the fruity goodness, DSCN0791

delicious…and now all gone….

But today my thoughts turned to wooly stuff. Kendal is famously a wool town – hence the coat of arms and motto from earlier – and during this Wool Week Kendal had its own Kendal Wool Gathering. I was lucky enough to play a tiny part. Gathering up my real string bag – capacious is certainly the word – and my bits and pieces of crochet and needle felting I toddled down to Kirkland and joined in a jolly morning of sharing crochet and felting with families and visitors to the town’s newest festival in Abbot Hall Community Centre.

It was lovely to meet people and share a cuppa and a mutual interest in wool based crafts. A fitting close to the weekend….almost….

The slip-thru scarf is complete! Here are the final stages:

So tomorrow I will be sporting a new scarf and enjoying the warmth it’ll bring. No more wallowing for me.