Sunday, 14 July 2019


I have mentioned that I have been doing a bit of crocheting recently.
     I haven't done any for years. The last thing I made was a throw, which was basically a spiral square, where you just add another colour in and go round and round and round until you either run out of wool, or the square is big enough.
    And crocheting squares was really the extent of my crocheting knowledge and expertise.
    Then a few months back I had the opportunity to buy some very cheap wool - a local shop was closing down and selling off all their stock. Now the colours were limited, the choice was purple, black and white, so I bought all the purple and black I could and carried it home in triumph.
     I had fancied a poncho, but couldn't find one I liked for sale, so thought this was an ideal opportunity to have a go at making one. The only problem was: I could make squares, making two triangles to fit together was way out there! This was quantum crocheting, as far as I was concerned.
    So I had a look on the internet and found a lovely tutorial on how to make a simple triangle. I watched carefully, took notes and had a go, and found that this was as easy as making squares.
     I had more black yarn than purple, so I used the purple to make pattern elements, and I am very pleased with the result.  (Graham decided to help me display my finished stuff)

I felt so chuffed with the result that I wondered if I could make other shapes based on the same simple principles, and decided to try hexagons for a start. These are a bit more complicated and were more fiddly than I expected. But I was having a bit of a play and an experiment - and basically using up the remaining wool.  (Man, the Mighty Hunter modelling hexagon wrap)

I really enjoyed the crocheting, and was pleased with the results too, so I thought I would like to carry on and make more stuff.
     So when we went to the Humber Bridge Farmer's Market, there was a stall selling all sorts of big balls of brightly coloured wool (yarn) and I fell upon it like a starving chocoholic on a box of Mars Bars. I bought one of lots of different colours, then Graham picked out a few more. So we ended up with a bag full of brightly coloured yarn.
     'What are you going to make?' asked the lady on the stall.
     'I don't know.' I replied truthfully

     The crocheting world is my oyster!

     And as for coloured wool (yarn).... More! I want MORE!

I also made a shawl, which I wasn't going to mention, but my lovely assistant insisted on displaying it for me

The bottom pic shows off the tassle ....

Next time - The Project!

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Life Death and the Universe

I heard somebody on TV disparaging the 'Cosmic Ordering' system, because it made people think they were 'some kind of magical being'.
     Well, of course we are magical beings!
       For people who do not believe in magic I will just say three things:
1) Life
2) Death
3) The Big Bang

    Let me explain a little.
     When you hear scientists talking about the evolution of our planet, Earth, they will often say something like 'And around 3 billion years ago, life appeared.'
     Hang on a tick. Where from? What made inanimate minerals and chemicals suddenly decide to 'come alive'?
     One explanation I have heard bandied about is that the Earth was 'seeded' with life from outer space. Fair enough, but we return to my original question - where did that original 'life' come from? What is the difference between inanimate rocks and minerals and animate bacteria, algae and ultimately us?
    How can minerals be inert, dead, matter at one instance and 'alive' the next?
   The answer is easy - Magic!

     And if we are talking about the transition from inert matter to living organism, then there is its opposite occurrence:
     Death: there is no actual scientific explanation for what makes a body alive one second and dead the next. Neither is there even a consensus of opinion amongst doctors over when a body is actually dead or alive. There are clues about when a body is dead, eg. not breathing, no heartbeat, we can even check that there is no brain activity. But even with all these checks there are occasions when beyond all logic and expectation the body will decide to live again, even after it has been declared dead.
      But the most magical part of all is: what makes this packet of flesh and bones alive? What is the fundamental difference between a live body and a dead one? A body can appear to be fully functional, in the prime of its physical manifestation and yet there is no life in it.
      In religions and magical philosophies the answer is simple: The body is a material vehicle which is used by a non material entity in order to interact with the physical universe. Or in simpler terms our true nature is as non-physical beings, we are all spirits using bodies to live for a while in this physical universe. At death our true self, our spirit or personality, will leave the physical sheath it has been inhabiting and will return to its immortal life on the spirit planes. This is much the same as how we use a car to get from one place to the next, and then get out an leave it when we get to our destination.

      And thirdly: The Big Bang. Most scientists believe these days that our universe appeared spontaneously in an event known as The Big Bang. Now what this means is: once upon a time there was nothing. Then this 'nothing' exploded, and not only did it explode, but from nothing there was suddenly an almost infinite amount of Mass (a vast quantity of which (ie most of it), the scientists tell us, should be there but apparently is not!)
     Now what any physicist will tell you is that energy and matter cannot be created from nothing. This is why (in theory) infinity machines cannot work. An infinity machine is a machine which generates more energy than it consumes. According to the 'Law of Entropy' if you use energy, you will always end up getting less back than you put in. So according to this Law, eventually the Universe will end because it will run out of material to make new stars, all the stars will go out, and that will be the end.
     However, the other day on TV I heard a scientist say. 'Of course, we don't know what is outside the Universe, but we know there is something.'
     Hang on another cotton-picking moment! Where did that come from? Why is that never mentioned? It is like there are secrets within science that are known about and not mentioned to 'outsiders' possibly because our tiny brains would explode if we knew about these amazing possibilities.

      We always come back to Magic.
     There are certain questions to which the only possible answer is 'Magic'.
      And as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (himself a believer in spirits, fairies and the supernatural) said through his detective Sherlock Holmes: if you have discounted all other possibilities, then what is left must be the true explanation.

Oh and as someone once said:
'You are a ghost, driving a meat coated skeleton, made from stardust,
what do you have to be scared of?'


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Solstice Eve

This post contains extracts from the June Raven Newsletter:
     Although the Solstices (Winter and Summer) do fall on precise days of the year, our ancestors were not as obsessed with time as we are, and in general were happy to celebrate around the right time. They recognised that a day or two either way was ok. So it is that although the (Summer) Solstice actually falls on the 20th, 21st or even 22nd of June and does vary a little from year to year, for many centuries in the UK, Midsummer's Day was celebrated on the 24th of June.
     There are many traditional spells associated with Midsummer's Eve or Midsummer's Day, and these can also be worked on the Solstice Eve or Solstice Day, and as there are only a few days between the Solstice and Midsummer's Day, I reckon you could use any of the intervening days too.
     St John's Wort flowers around midsummer and it is picked either on the Solstice or Midsummer's Day. It's Latin name is Hypericum, which means 'Having Power Over Spirits' and this herb is a demonofuge, that is a herb which banishes demons, ghosts and other spirits. It can even be made into a tea to banish demons from the body ie for exorcism.
     There is a legend on the Isle of Man that if you step on a St John's Wort plant after sunset on Midsummer's Eve, a fairy horse will appear from the Underworld and will carry you off for a wonderful, wild night's ride. However as soon as the first rays of the sun light up the eastern sky on Midsummer morning, the fairy steed will vanish and you will be dropped wherever you happen to be at that moment.
     Another plant particularly associated with Midsummer is the Fern which is said to glow on Midsummer's Eve and if you approach it with a pewter plate at midnight, you may be able to catch some of its magical seeds. These seeds confer the power of invisibility on anyone who carries them.
     Fern leaves can also be used in love magic, so make sure to gather some in the afternoon of Midsummer's Day. If you want to keep someone in love with you, put a little of this leaf in your left shoe and speak their name three times.
     Any Ash wood cut on Midsummer's Day, particularly at midday, has strong magical powers and can be used to carve a healing charm. These charms are said to be good for stopping bleeding, especially nose bleeds. This would be a good time to cut an ash branch to make a magic wand too.
     You could also try this special divination: At midday on Midsummer's Day, dig a small hole in the earth, at a place where at least three paths meet (ie a T junction or crossroads). Lie down and put your ear to the hole and listen carefully as you will hear the whisper of a secret which will help you in the future.

Monday, 10 June 2019

What Tallulah Did Next

Tallulah is just about a year old now. And has grown into a sweet, loving, entertaining, enthusiastic, funny and friendly dog.
       When Graham takes her for a walk in the morning, she is liable to be hugged and petted by any number of people. Including the man who doesn't let his own dog jump up but seems to be reduced to a mumbling 'Ooose a widdle, cuddly wuddly girl den?' as he is Tallulah'd.
      Friends often ask 'What has Tallulah been up to?' because she finds many ways to entertain herself (and us). She loves digging holes - particularly when the ground is damp and muddy.
She has various favourite places in the garden, she likes to sit on the ivy, or hide behind the coal bunker. This is usually when she has taken something out into the garden, which maybe, perhaps she didn't ought to have done.
     She is friendly with the neighbours on all sides. Which is just as well as she has tried digging under the fence into the garden at the back, and spends much time peeping over the fence at the side wagging happily at the people next door.
     The only trouble is she can't tell the difference between what is a toy, and what is not a toy.
     And likes to transport items outside, and back in - often after having been dragged around the garden a few times. She is fond of shoes, and socks, and anything she can find in the clean washing basket.
     Now it is difficult to be cross with her, because when you say 'Oh no! What have you done?' ginger dog looks at you with her ears down and her big brown eyes, and you know full well that whatever it is, she won't be able to resist doing it again, because it was such good fun!
     The latest toy-which-is-not-a-toy is my crochet yarn.
   I have a big project on (which I shall be blogging about shortly so watch this space) which involves lots of big brightly coloured balls of wool. Up to now these have been kept in two large carrier bags in the living room, so I can just grab one when I want one.
     But, unfortunately Tallulah thinks these are large squashy balls of fun.
     Our 'office' is upstairs in the house, so I very often am upstairs working, leaving the downstairs a human-free zone - and therefore a doggy playground. Last Tuesday, while Graham was out helping our son dismantle a chicken shed, I went downstairs at lunch time to see a trail of blue wool leading across the bottom of the stairs. I found the start of it in the living room and followed the trail, winding it up like Theseus in the Minotaur's den, through the kitchen, under the open bathroom door, through the dog flap and outside. And there was an unattended ball of wool on the back doorstep.
     Not a culprit in sight.
     I wound the wool back up again and put it back in the carrier bag.
     Now you would think that that was a good enough hint for me that perhaps the carrier bags were now considered a 'play' toy. But no, I am a bit thick at times.
    So, last night I went downstairs after a game of WoW* to find SEVERAL strands of wool leading across the bottom of the stairs. And a tangle of multi-coloured wool in the kitchen, and half a ball of wool. And yet more strands leading out through the dog flap and into the back garden where it had been wound round the clothes prop, dragged through various greenery, moss and leaves and finally deposited in a large, happy tangle. It looked very like Tallulah had plunged her head into the bag of wool and tried to grab as many balls at once as she could get in her mouth, then galloped outside with them, giving them a good shake every so often, and chased around the garden with them before flopping in her favourite place to pull the balls apart.
     I sighed and gathered the damp and slightly muddy armfull up and took it inside where I could remove the garden and twigs from it, untangle it and wind it back into balls.

     Today we have been out and bought two very large plastic storage boxes - with lids!

*World of Warcraft

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Things that go Pop in the Night!

Actually that is a little misleading
     The TV actually went 'Pop!' in the middle of 'Eight Out of Ten Cats Does Countdown' last night.
     Now yesterday had been a day of buying (or trying to buy) electrical goodies.
     On Sunday the Microwave decided it didn't like having a turntable and became a stationary table instead. Which meant having to open the door every few seconds to manually twizzle round the dish you are trying to heat up. So we decided, first thing Monday morning we would pop out and get a new one.
     We decided to go to ASDA at the end of Hessle Road in Hull as they seemed to have a good selection.
     And seeing as we were going to be on Hessle Road, we had an excursion to Boyes to buy some household bits and bobs: washing up bowl, scrubbing brushes, pyrex tureen, several meters of fabric and a new skirt.
     Then we went to ASDA - this one is a Beast of a store, it is HUGE! Anyway we found the microwave section and tried to decide which would be the best one for us. There it was, sleek, black and shiny - and under £25! Bargain! Buy It!.

     We also needed a new cooker.
     Now we don't have room in our kitchen for a conventional cooker, so for years we have had a table top version. It has an oven and two hot plates on top, but as it plugs into a normal socket, you can't have the oven and both rings on without blowing up the house.
     For a number of years this hasn't been a problem since only one of the rings works anyway. Then the oven door handle fell off last year. And the cooker really needed cleaning and why clean a cooker when you can buy a new one?
     So we thought while we were spending money, let's get a new (table top) cooker too!
     We bought the last one in Curry's, which is also near the end of Hessle Road, so after a lively discussion went there.
     The discussion was 'lively' as the last thing we bought from Curry's was a washer which we paid extra for delivery, then extra to be fitted, and even more extra for the old washer to be taken away.
     The washer was delivered ok, but the delivery chap said he couldn't fit it because there was a drip from the water pipe intake. So it wasn't fitted, and as it wasn't fitted, the old washer wasn't taken away either!
     Happily the nice plumber who came to fix the drip, fitted the new washer for us while he was there, free of charge, but said 'Why didn't he just turn off the water at the stop cock?' which is under the sink, right next to the washer.
     Anyway, after a tour of the store it appears that Curry's no longer stocks table top cookers.
     So that would have to wait.
    But No!
     When I was looking at the website of the people we buy our office paper and envelopes from, Viking, they had a table top cooker with two hot plates in stock!
     From a stationery supplier?
     Well obviously!
     Why didn't I think of that straight away!
     So paper, envelopes and a cooker were ordered.

     Last night we were feeling pretty smug. We have a new larger yet cheaper microwave, plugged in in the kitchen, a new cooker is on the way,   And still have money left over from our budget!
     Then 'Pop!' said the TV and died.
      After checking the wires, and unplugging it and plugging it back in again it is clear that we now have a TV that is of ornamental value only. Actually I should have known as things usually seem to pack up in threes, and we had replaced two electrical bits, so we should have been ready for the third one to go.
     Which is why we were in Sainsbury's at ten to eight this morning buying a new TV.
      And Graham demanded comfort food (noodles) for breakfast.



Thursday, 2 May 2019


I've just been watching an article on the morning TV which was talking about the use of plastic carrier bags. They were saying how the number of plastic bags we use has been reduced by a vast number, but that in the UK we still buy over a billion plastic bags every year. So there was a big discussion about how could we possibly use less of them.
     I sat and listened to this discussion a bit gobsmacked.
     I am 62 years old, not vastly ancient, but when I was a child growing up, there were NO plastic bags. All of our groceries were supplied in paper bags. Every grocer used to have a wad of paper bags hung on a string so they could pull one off and use it at will. You bought apples or potatoes or whatever goods you fancied and the grocer popped them in a paper bag to weigh them and for you to carry home.
     If you had a lot of shopping, it would be put into a paper carrier bag, or your own fabric shopping bag, or a basket. It wasn't difficult to handle, the only time you had trouble was if it was raining and you stood your paper bag in a puddle while you waited for a bus!
     If you use a paper bag you are helping the environment in more than one way:
First you are saving the use of a plastic bag.
Second you are using paper which can be composted or re-cycled.
Third most brown paper bags and boxes are already made of re-cycled paper so you are saving the environment twice over!
     There is nothing difficult about making bags out of paper.
     At Raven the paper we use to wrap the contents of our parcels is often paper bags. The outside paper is recycled brown paper. The paper we use to print our catalogues is from renewable sources - usually wood from farmed trees. We have been doing this all the time we have been in business, that is thirty years, but all of a sudden this has become something the big companies can boast about doing. Incidentally we don't buy bubble wrap either, all the bubble wrap or other packaging we use is stuff we are re-cycling which has been sent to us with goods we have bought.
     Doing stuff to help our planet doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Sometimes it just needs a little thought.
    We can all make a difference by doing our own little bits.
     You don't need to superglue your chest to the road - in fact that glue is probably really not helping the environment!

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

The Green Man

This is an extract from an article on Beltane from the latest issue of the Raven Newsletter:

     This is the time of year when flowers and trees burst into life. It is no wonder that the Saxons named the month of May Thrimilch, which means Three Milk, in other words the pastures are so lush, rich and verdant that cows could be milked three times a day, instead of the usual twice a day.
     The Green Man is the symbol of this green fertility. He is the spirit in the trees, the rising of the sap, the filling of the forest.
     Beltane is one of the times of traditional folk festivals, which includes dancing around a flower be-decked Maypole, and the appearance of the magical Morris Men. The Morris Men dance out evil and dance in good. They are often accompanied by strange creatures from both christian and Pagan myths. There is St George and the Dragon - St George's Day 23rd April has acquired many traditions originally associated with Beltane - there is the Green Man or the Fuzzy Man, who can be hidden in a costume of greenery, or covered in prickly burdock burrs. And in some places there are the strange mares, the horses which may be a horses skull on a pole, which lunges and snaps as it passes by. Or it may be a strange, drum shaped creature which swoops and swirls through the crowd. These are creatures of our native Dreamtime, the mare of nightmares, the steed of the Lord of the Dead, Arawn who may be the King of the Fairies, or Lord of the Underworld.

     At Beltane the doors between the worlds grows thin because this is one of those occasions when worlds and times collide.
     What is dream, what is nightmare, what is Fairy what is spirit, what is ghost? What is night, what is day, what is now, what is then, what is yet to come?
      These are the magical cracks between the worlds, these are the places where Witches live and work, this is a time when magic is nigh

     Happy Beltane !