Saturday, 19 March 2011

Mr Fox comes calling

Last thing I do every morning before heading off for work is to go out back and feed the chickens and to my horror this morning I found carnage in the chicken run.  We had been visited by Mr Fox in the night, no doubt looking for takeout for his new family of cubs and came across the Grebes Rest Hen Hangout.  He ordered 4 plump hens to go, tried two and eventually left with two.  So I have the grand total of zilch hens now.  Just when the poor old girls had grown back their moulted feathers and had started laying again.  I keep my hens in a secure run but never actually locked them up in their house.  The picture below shows them in happier times with temporary fencing in the summer when I let them on the grass but this time of year they are permanently enclosed in their run.  I think this fox must like swimming and be an expert climber as we are enclosed on three sides by river and the sides of the run are at least 6 foot high.


Just recently I have been on a chicken knitting frenzy as well.  I made a batch of Spring Chickens designed by Bluesocks Designs over on Ravelry.  They are a really quick knit and easy to put together.


Also I have whipped up a flock of these adorable Easter Egg Cozies found on Delights Gems Blog.  Not only is the pattern available to knit, there is also a crochet version too.  Although I prefer to crochet these days (due to RSI in my hands) I like the knitted version better and can easily sit and do 2 or 3 in a sitting.  Claudia of Delights Gems has very kindly let me sell the finished chickens for my greyhound charity fund raising – Thank you very much Claudia, you are a very generous person, by not only sharing your superb patterns but allowing them to be sold in aid of charity.


So to finish a few photos of some more chickens here at home.  Now off to see if I can get some ex battery hens from Little Hen Rescue




Sunday, 13 March 2011

Our first long walk of the year

We decided last week that this Sunday if the weather was forecast fine, we would do a long walk with accompanying picnic. The last couple of days have been fine with some actual periods of sunshine.   This morning we packed our lunch – a disparate collection of Sweet potato burritos, babybel cheese, coconut macaroons and bananas, and of course some nibbles for the hounds.  This walk was going to be one of our long walks taken over a few hours.  We decided on one of our favourites, a circular walk from Felbrigg Hall (a National Trust property) towards the coast to East Runton, calling into Cromer for a cup of coffee and then back towards Felbrigg.  Nigel, in the past has estimated the total distance to be about 8 miles.


I am breaking in a new pair of hiking boots ready for our summer holiday in Switzerland in June, but decided to go with my old pair of trusted Brashers as I didn’t want any blisters.  We set off about 10.45 and relished being in the fresh air out in the countryside.  Once we had passed the lovely Felbrigg Hall (currently undergoing some roof renovations) we were able to let the dogs off the lead.


The dogs act quite differently on walks.  Tillie being confident and headstrong will always be surging ahead, sniffing at every available tuft of grass or bush and looking about, scanning the horizon for any signs of bunnies, ears pricked.  Whereas Raven, being less confident will run off ahead with Tillie, sniff what she is interested in but immediately race back to us and walk with us until I tell him to go on ahead.  Overall he covers much more ground, probably adding on about another third of the distance of the walk with his constant going backwards and forth.



The sun made a brief appearance but on the whole it was quite overcast most of the day but warm enough to walk without coats on.  We take regular breaks to drink and of course eat our picnic and to give the dogs a drink and their treats although Tillie loves drinking out of muddy puddles.



By the time we were approaching the town of Cromer situated on the North Norfolk Coast, famous for its pier and Cromer Crabs, we were probably ¾ of the way round, so were quite tired but looking forward to another well earned rest, this time at Huckleberries, a coffee & cake shop on the high street that luckily has a few outside seats, handy when you have two great hulking hounds in tow. 


We were enjoying our Americanos and sharing a millionaires slice (shortbread, caramel and chocolate) when we felt a few spots of rain, so we decided to press on with the last leg of our walk, out of Cromer and back towards the car at Felbrigg.  About ½ a mile from the car it started to come down quite hard and by the time we arrived back to where the car was parked all four of us looked somewhat bedraggled and damp.  As a side note – legend has it that Arthur Conan Doyle, whilst staying in Cromer, visited Cromer Hall and heard about the Black Shuck legend (a ghostly black dog that is supposed to roam the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex coast) and incorporated it into his story The Hound of the Baskervilles, but not however setting it in Norfolk.



Once home, Nigel downloaded the info from his GPS gadget to find out how far we had actually walked and proudly announced it wasn’t 8 mile but 13 which took us, with stops about 4 hours!!!  No wonder we all feel tired now and I haven’t heard a peep out of the dogs since we got back, they only stirred themselves to eat their dinner.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Rainbow Circle Scarf

I decided to make myself a multi coloured scarf to go with my red winter coat and came up with this:


I used up some odds and sods up from my basket where I keep those really tiny balls of yarn you are not sure what to do with but can’t quite bear to throw away.




Thursday, 3 March 2011

New Crochet Design Book

Crochet book

I have just purchased Crochet Design for kids by Lucinda Guy from Amazon mainly for the two adorable toy patterns.  I know the elephant pattern was published in a UK Women’s magazine recently but I couldn’t resist buying the book it came from.  Most of the patterns are for very twee crocheted items of children’s clothing.


I am not sure that today’s modern children would want to wear some of the designs but the book is delightfully illustrated throughout by Francois Hall.  As I mentioned, I really only wanted the toy patterns, namely the elephant and the whale but I don’t think you can ever have enough crafty books anyway.


I have so far completed one of the elephants and was pleased with the result, although the assembly of the lower gusset to the body was a little tricky, in the main, it was an easy pattern to follow.  I hope to soon cast on for the whale.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Coconut Macaroons


I did a little baking at the weekend and as well as making a chocolate & banana cake I made these Coconut Macaroons which we haven’t had for ages.  Mmmmm! They were lovely and very coconutty.  Obviously not very good for the slimming but as they say “a little bit of what you fancy now and then!”  If anyone wants a go at making them, they are dead easy and here is the recipe:

Coconut Macaroons
Makes about 18 - 20

12oz dessicated coconut
12ozs castor sugar
6tbsp cornflour
6 egg whites – depending on size of egg (if eggs are large you could cut this down to 5)
glace cherries

Whisk egg whites with mixer in bowl until creamy, then gradually mix  in with wooden spoon the sugar, cornflour and coconut.  Mix together well.  The consistency should be fairly sticky but not runny, if it is, just add more coconut.

On a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Spoon 6 piles evenly spaced out in a fairly round shape.  Place a cherry on top of each Macaroon.  Bake in oven at about 180c for about 20- 25 minutes or until lightly brown and fairly firm to the touch.  Let them cool down on the baking sheet, then once cool place on cooling rack.