Thursday, 27 November 2008

Skywatch - Friday 28 November 2008

We tend to think the sun never shines in the UK but it does, occasionally! When it does, the skies are beautiful and when the wind is from the west, it's a fantastic place to be.

Although last summer was one of the worst I can ever remember (I can remember quite a few), the sun did shine a few times, the skies were blue and on 9 June I captured the evidence below.

This is part of the beach at Seaham Harbour in the North East of England. As beaches go it wouldn't win any prizes, but I like it. I love walking in the water along a beach, any beach, anywhere really, I don't mind. Although I like living in Washington and it's only a twenty minute drive to a few beaches, I miss not living next to the sea.

I lived in Seaham until I got married in 1969 and now it seems to me that when I was little, we spent most of the summer on that beach. The summers were longer and hotter, the days were sunnier and the beach was definitely cleaner. Well I said that's how it seems to me.

The beach certainly got dirtier because the coal dust from the pits in the area was dumped it into the sea. Eventually as coal production increased the sand got blacker and the water got dirtier. Not a pretty sight!

Dawdon was one of several pits in Seaham, it was sunk in 1905 and employment grew to 3,300 with an output of 1 million tons in its heyday. It was closed in 1991 a few years after the 1984/85 miners' strike.

All the pits are long gone now, courtesy of Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Government. The loss of the industry hit places like Seaham really hard. My great grandad, both my granddads, my Dad, all my uncles and my brother worked at Dawdon Pit. The area has never recovered despite the development of new industrial estates.

(Dawdon) "...suffers from severe deprivation, with many
households surviving on welfare benefits, poor health, poor educational attainment and significant child poverty."
Dawdon Community Appraisal

On the plus side there has been a lot of work done redeveloping the area. In addition the sand is clean again and the water is much cleaner. However the sea seems a whole lot colder than when I was young!

Beach top car park

They have been doing a lot of work to improve the area at the top of the beach. I think the designer of this wall must have been having a bit of a Gaudi moment. I really like it.

Is this a sea monster?

The church on the left of the picture is St Mary the Virgin. It's an Anglo Saxon church dating back to 7th Century. It's supposed to be one of the 20 oldest churches in the country. To my shame I've never visited it. Something I must do this summer and I'll take my camera, if it's allowed!

Why not join us at Skywatch Friday and post your photos? We'd love to see them.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

It's National Curry Week 23 - 29 November 2008

Curry is certainly one of Britain's favourite dishes, whether it's a Chicken Tikka Masala, Prawn Korma or Rogan Ghosh. Indian cuisine has become so popular that now, every year we have a National Curry Week.

All over Britain Indian restaurants, caterers, pubs, canteen, schools, clubs etc are invited to celebrate the cuisine and culture with special dinners, record-breaking attempts, raffles, auctions and more. This is all in aid of contributing to the alleviation of poverty by supporting Oxfam, the appointed charity for 2008. You can eat out during the week and donate to the cause or send £1 per person to Oxfam.

Find out more about Oxfam here and how you can get involved.

Use the links to the recipes below and have a special curry.

Take a look at the National Curry Week recipes, there's curries and kebabs and lots of other international dishes.

There are also lots of delicious recipes here

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Sewing Stuff

I like to shop local wherever I can to support businesses in the community. It’s getting harder though. Virtually all our local craft and wool shops have gone. We do have a large warehouse type of thing a few minutes drive from where I live and it sells all kinds of craft stuff. However I’m finding as it diversifies into the trendy scrapbooking and card making supplies it’s reducing the range of some of its more traditional crafts such as the fabrics and supplies for cross stitching.

I wanted to buy another Beatrix Potter cross stitch design book in the range I bought a few years ago and some Aida 18 count fabric. When I went last week they had neither. They’ve stopped stocking the chart design books and you can only buy complete kits. That’s a pain because the Hunca Munca design I wanted isn’t available as a kit, only as a chart. They now only stock DMC embroidery silks, no Anchor stock at all.

So I ventured online to browse the sewing supply sites. I’ve avoided this in the past for as I’m one who likes to see and feel what I’m buying in the sewing department and often I’ve found delivery costs high. I found one with a good range of Beatrix Potter design booklets and amazingly the price was slightly less than what I’d paid years ago.

I also saw some plastic bobbins for my trusty old sewing machine whilst I was looking around the site. Yet another thing the local warehouse supplier has stopped stocking. The down side was whilst browsing I saw some things I couldn’t resist in their 50% off sale.

I've only used a cross stitch kit once. A horse and foal picture for my daughter and it was really expensive so I've avoided them since then. However they had some lovely kits which were all half price. I got a sweet Christmas Peter Rabbit cross stitch kit for £5.25, the photo at the top. Another I chose was a gorgeous Me to You kit for £8.00. He's the grey bear with the blue nose below, isn't he beautiful? You also get the alphabet chart so you can customise it. Imagine everything you need including the needle and no running about. I'm converted!

Unbelievably the postage was only £1.00 and the order was sent out first class post about an hour after I ordered it. I got it the next morning, that's incredible! Marks & Sparks take over a week to deliver!

Seasoned cross stitchers may already know about them, the company is Sew and So If anyone wants to buy from them I can highly recommend them. They do deliver abroad too. I’m not on commission or anything, I’d never heard of them before. I doubt I’ll be wasting my time and petrol wandering about from now on, I’ll be buying from them!

Apologies to anyone if I've broken copyright with the images from their website. It was just to let people see how nice they are. If it's a problem I'll take them off if you let me know.

My Singer 338!

Well here it is my very first sewing machine, the one I got for my 21st birthday in 1966! I know it cost my Mam  a lot to buy it for me...