Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Camping in Somerset Part II

Using Wookey Farm as a base, we headed off to visit local tourist attractions, starting with The City of Wells.  Its the smallest city in England but a City it is, Medieval too, and the filming location for the movie Hot Fuzz staring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost amongst others.

We started off at The Bishops Palace, with its ornate ceilings in the entrance ways.
 We walked around the moat and ended up at the Cathedral.
There was lots to see and it was quite busy but we enjoyed the walk and the peacefulness away from the main tourist areas.  Will you join me in Part III?

Monday, 30 May 2016

Camping in Somerset part I

We enjoyed camping last year in Wales but this year we have chosen an up-and-coming Eco-friendly campsite just outside of Wells in Somerset called Wookey Farm.  It is a small family run Goat farm,  producing its own products but they also have a few other animals too such as sheep and pigs.

Its a new camp site but it does have electrical hook-up if you want it and the pitches are big.  The only downside is that there aren't any showers but there are toilets, they're compost toilets, which was an experience and they're not for everyone but they're not all the different from using your own chemical toilet really.

This time I made sure to get some photos of the tent.  Technically its bigger than last year because we have bought an extension to fit on the front of the main tent so that all the cooking equipment can be kept out there and the cooking can be done out the way of the kids.  It has lots of air vents, roll-up privacy curtains, fly net doors, two large bedrooms and storm porch but we use the storm porch to house the chemical toilet as we leave the privacy curtains in place and it has its own zip door from the main tent so its like its own little room.

The farm has Toggenberg goats, a dairy breed, and the farm produces goat's milk, goat's cheese and other products to sell in their little farm shop, at farmer's markets and I think they sell them online too but I'm not 100% sure on that.  You are encouraged to go see the goats and they are milked at certain times of the day so you can go and watch that too.  Our little dog, Ruby was fascinated with them.
I took a video of the goats being milked.

We did so much on this holiday that I am having to split it into parts.  See you in Part II, hopefully.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Hillcresent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.1

This is the last fleece from the seven that I bought as a job lot from a local farm.

Sheared on 26th May 2013 this one weighed 1.5Kg after I skirted it and below you will see a photo of the sheep that this fleece came from with her new born lamb in 2015.

This particular fleece had very few white locks which meant that it was not worth the effort trying to produce a very small amount of white yarn.  I separated the blackest locks from the rest of the fleece so that I can spin from these two colours of the fleece and I washed the two colours separately.

The black part of the fleece gave me 432g after washing and the mixed colours of fleece gave me 567g.

The Black Fleece

The locks of this fleece are anything up to 8 inches long, incredibly long for a Jacobs sheep and black fleece has a tendency to grow longer than white fleece, or white parts of the same fleece.  A lot of the length broke off during the combing process due to the length of the sun-bleached tips.  From my original washed weight of 432g I was left with 220g of hand-combed nests for spinning, which is about 46% yield.

I wanted to make something different to my usual thickness of yarn this time and so aimed to spin this fleece as thick as I could, which is not easy to do when your hands naturally tell you to do something else.  I did manage to make two skeins of yarn, each just over 100g, in a super bulky weight and totalling 297g/248m.

The Mixed Colours

I decided to leave this in its natural colour and I just spun it as it came out of the bag, not paying any attention to what colours in what amounts was on the comb.  At the end of combing the big bag of fleece I was left with 272g of combed nests from my 567g of washed fleece.

The bag of combed nests was quite colourful with all the different blended shades of browns and greys in there and I decided to sort all of the nests from darkest to lightest as best as I could.  I then got a very long cardboard tube left over from wrapping paper and threaded every-other-one of the nests in shade order onto the tube.  As you wind the length up around your hand and secure it there is a "hole" in the middle a bit like a doughnut.  I then took a second tube and loaded the remaining nests onto that, again in shade order.

This gave me the opportunity to either make one huge skein of yarn in a natural gradient colour by spinning a single from each tube worth of fibre and then plying together, but this would have to have a break in the middle as you would never fit that amount of yarn onto one bobbin as you ply it.  Or I could make 2 different natural gradient yarns, perhaps in two different weights/thicknesses of yarn.  The latter is what I decided to do.

I spun two different weights of yarn, both were spun as a single and then Navajo plied, which is a method of creating a 3-ply yarn from a single length using a loop method, and this keeps the colours in the order that you want them in the finished yarn.  One yarn was worsted weight, 133g/270m and the other one was super bulky weight, 127g/66m.  The pictures below shows the worsted weight yarn.

The super bulky yarn was used to make a hat for my husband to keep his head warm after he participated in MacMillan's Brave the Shave event.  He didn't go completely bald, but not far off, and the hat was darkest at the rim and fading to pale grey at the crown and kind of matched his hair, dark but going grey.  He had no idea that I had made this for him and I presented him with it after he had had his hair buzzed off.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Small garden, big change.

We live in a small mid-terraced house on a "walk" on the outer edge of a housing estate with a small front garden and slightly larger back garden with no direct vehicle access to the property.

Because the house is on a slight hill, the back garden is split into two levels and in the past, when the kids were little, we gated the lower section off for safety.  Now the kids are older and we have a small dog that gate has been removed and a small fence put up to stop the dog messing on the grass and killing it off.

We've had a change of neighbours on one side since we moved in years ago and to be honest they are not very pleasant to live next to in the slightest with regard to noise levels (in that it would be quieter to live above a nightclub), things being thrown over the fence, climbing up the fence to look over and just general intolerable behaviour that is not acceptable in normal society which makes it impossible to enjoy any time relaxing in the garden.  Our kids like to go out there in the summer, put up the little sun-protecting tent on the grass and make themselves a cosy reading/colouring nook with blankets and pillows etc, but not anymore due to the unpleasantness, so we gave them the option of leaving it as it is in the hopes things may improve or for us to turn the garden into a working garden where we can grow vegetables and maybe get a few chickens.  They both enthusiastically voted for growing vegetables and getting some chickens.

Here goes...
 The first photo was taken a few years ago, its the only one I have that shows how the garden was before.  We had to hire the grass cutter thing and it was hard work getting the grass up.
Then we removed the small pond, which had been neglected since the neighbours threw an egg over last year which hit the fence, smashed and the contents went into the pond on a hot sunny day and wrecked the water pump.  In its place we put the Railway sleepers for the base of the chicken house and I had to move my Jasmine.  The ground underneath the grass contains a lot of clay and is difficult to dig so we also built a large raised bed and started filling it with the contents of the two huge compost bins.
We put weed control sheet down and will get some shredded bark to put down as path.  We had to get a number of big bags of compost to fill the top of the raised border.  Yeah, that's me sifting through the homemade compost.  We also chose some vegetables to grow and this year we will try runner beans, purple cauliflower, savoy cabbage, small round carrots and we bought a small pot of rainbow beetroot.  We also have a small tomato greenhouse and we have cherry tomato, yellow cherry tomato and a lemon hot chilli pepper.  We also have herbs in containers of lemon balm, mint, curry plant and lemon thyme.

The chicken house is on order and we've found where we will get the chickens from but will wait until after our holiday to go and get the chickens.