Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Town at the Ford of Elderflowers.


This is the thirteenth century St. Laurence's Gate at the bottom of my road, it is one of the finest examples of a medieval barbican gate in Europe. It stands as an imposing protective gateway to the medieval city of Drogheda and is potentially a defence against invasion from the sea. It is one of the main reasons we were so attracted to our street when house hunting.
'But', my children say, 'Can you go up it?' Er, well no actually since our local council does see fit to open one of our medieval treasures to allow the people and the tourists of Drogheda to interact with our history, but that is a rant for another post.

'We want a castle!', they said. So, while on holiday during the summer, we took them to St John's castle in the beautiful village of Carlingford, also in Co. Louth.

(image from www.geograph.org.uk. copyright jai, licensed for further use.)
(image from The Dublin Penny Journal 21st July 1832, link here)
'But, can you go up it?' they demanded. Well no, sorry but you can walk around it. Look at the lough, can you see the boats? 'That is not a proper castle,' they insisted. 'We want one that we can go inside!'
Right we said, you want a castle! We will give you a castle. So we went on a trip to Trim, Co Meath.
Trim castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland and was once part of the lands of Hugh De Lacy, the Anglo-Norman lord who founded our own Drogheda.
Trim is a charming little town also on the banks of the River Boyne and I love its poetical Irish name which is Bailie Atha Troim which means 'town at the ford of elderflowers, isn't that pretty? While the kids and Mr S went exploring the castle I was left to explore and look after Rosie as dogs are not allowed in the grounds of the castle. We found so much to see:

Pretty pastel houses:

Incredible vertiginous ruins:

Beautiful stonework:
A gorgeous river walk out to Newtowntrim Cathedral:
Leave the castle behind and say ahh to the donkeys,

Take a seat on a fallen acorn and look out over the porchfield into the big sky,
Stroll back into town and wait impatiently for the rest of the family to come back down from the castle so you can nip into the yarny treasure trove that is:
Marvel at the knitted goodies in the window:
Treat yourself to one fat squidgy ball of raspberry pink merino and one downy soft skein of grey alpaca, finish off in the sweetie shop and drive home tired but happy.
Later, we ask the children if they thought Trim Castle was a 'real' castle, - 'Hmph', said E with derision, 'It is still just a ruin!'


Monday, 1 September 2014

TGISD (Part 2)

As I sat drinking my tea, I had a light blub moment. Oh fantastic, maybe I will get to rev the Red Devil up for an afternoon of happy crafting! I have another pattern, a skirt pattern, this pattern:

I am liking 'Love Sewing', it seems to have replaced 'Mollie Makes' in my magazine heart. I'm not totally sure why, it seems more inspirational somehow instead of aspirational. Look at that lovely dress in issue 4, and aimed at the adventurous beginner. Why, I am sure that is me.

Out comes the sewing machine again, this time I brew up an espresso to assist concentration.
I read over the instructions - thankfully this pattern is in my size and this time a gratifying size 12 - and carefully cut around the correct lines. I repair to the living room and begin to experiment with the lay-out of the fabric. Hmmm, what does this mean?

What width is my fabric? 21 inches. Fold, what fold? Ok, now I see that the pattern pieces are designed to be placed on the folded material and when the section is cut out, a piece that is doubled in size is produced. Oh-Oh, I don't think I have enough material for this skirt. How on earth did that happen!

Not too worry, I spotted a retro duvet cover also in the charity shop, that will have enough material for the pencil skirt.

Annoying though, I really want to make the A-line which presents a dilemma. You know when you get something so entrenched in your mind that it stews away until it must be completed. However, I have resolved to boycott Amazon after reading of the bitter dispute waging between this mammoth organisation and Hachette the large French publishing house. You can read more about this here, if you like. Also we are lucky enough to have a Waterstones in our town and I really want to support our local bookseller much more actively this year. So, if I order the McCall's pattern, it makes the postage costs so much more reasonable if I include my set history book for this years OU course...and I really need that spare part for my Bialetti...

I buy the duvet cover because it has trees on it. Unfortunately, it has taken three washes to remove the fusty musty smell. Groan. Also, in the cold light of my garden I'm not sure about that greeny pattern. Would I really wear that? Oops, don't they always say on the Sewing Bee that pattern is very hard to sew with, to match for beginners?  Once again, the poor wee sewing machine is back in the box. Am I totally over-thinking this task? Is it time for a glass of wine?