On Saturday we decided to venture west for a walk in the Midlands, Cliff did a quick search on the web and found a good location . . . Pitsford Water in Northamptonshire.
We started our walk at the popular Brixworth Country Park visitors centre and circumnavigated the southern half of the reservoir, a total distance of 7.5 miles – just the right sort of distance to blow the cobwebs out of the mind and put roses in our cheeks!
and lots of birdlife, including a large flock of Lapwings (including one of two Golden Plovers) and these beautifully plumaged Greylag Geese . . .
After our walk we went into Brixworth village to see the church, it's set on the edge of the village on the crest of a ridge which overlooks the surrounding farmland, and it is huge . . . and very very old!
Brixworth church was build at least 1200 years ago, only a couple of hundred years after the the Romans upped and left Britain; the Saxon builders reused Roman terracotta tiles to make the massive semicircular archways. The large ground level arches (which have been infilled with stone and windows) where originally interior entrances into small side rooms, chapels or shrines off the main nave of this great basilica, maybe built when Offa was king of Mercia.
Just think how long it's stood here . . . it was over 300 years old when the Normans invaded Britain! Look at how carefully the tiles and stones have been placed to make those simple archways.
Maybe I was still thinking about those Saxon arches when I made this pear up-side down cake for our Sunday lunch?
It was easy to make . . .
- spread creamed butter and soft brown sugar over the base of a lined cake tin;
- over it, lay slices of pear and glacé cherries in pattern;
- make a sponge mixture (100g softened unsalted butter/100g caster sugar/2 eggs/100g self-raising flour) and spoon carefully over the fruit;
- bake at 180˚C for about 40 minutes until the sponge is firm;
- cool slightly and turn out onto a plate;
- eat with a generous helping of freshly made custard.
. . . and even easier to eat!
On Sunday evening I finished the shawl I've been knitting from Kauni yarn; I've been knitting this for months; it has been knitted and unraveled a couple of times because it wasn't quite right and I'm a perfectionist; it has traveled with me on trains down to London and up to Liverpool many times, until it became far to big to carry easily.
The shape and size were inspired by the shawls in a Kaffe Fassett knitting book from the 1980s. I chose two colourways of the Kauni yarn and then used a Fair Isle technique to create the patterns, which I made up as I went along and then repeated a few times.
Let's see it outside in natural light where the wintery colours really glow . . .
I was fun to knit, and became cosy and organic as it grew and grew. I worked on 1 metre long double pins, but by the end it was quite a struggle to manipulate all the stitches; so although I still have some yarn over, I decided it was big enough. I probably have enough to make a hat with the leftovers.
And lastly . . .
Thank you to everyone who signed up to get my studio newsletters, there are over twenty who missed the mailing, so I'll be sending out another batch later this evening. Then the next one will be sent at the end of February.