Saturday, 28 August 2010

Working horses and poines at Lakeland Country Fair...

I went to a local show for fun rather than work recently (although going to shows always is fun, even when I'm working!). It was the first time I'd been to the Lakeland Country Fair, just down the road from me at Torver, near Coniston.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and although the show was small, there was a lot to see (particularly terriers, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling and fell racing). But the main thing I wanted to see was a demonstration by the Cumbrian Working Horse and Pony Society because my friend was taking part with her gorgeous Clydesdale mare, Ruby. Me and my mum got to the edge of the show ring early to make sure we had a good view and the whole demo was really interesting.

First up was handsome Dales pony Gilly, demonstrating 'snigging', which is the art of timber extraction using horse power. Here's Gilly pulling two large logs around the arena...
Working in chains 1

He looked to be enjoying himself...
Working in chains 2

Then there were two very cute Shetland ponies demonstrating their pack carrying abilities...
Working Shetlands

This is Morag (the pony, not the lady)...
Lady with Shetland

And this is Mickey (again, pony, not man!)...
Man with Shetland
Shetland ponies must have been incredibly useful for Scottish crofters in the days before quad bikes (and probably still are useful to modern day crofters and smallholders who prefer using pony-power).

Prince the Shire horse looked very glamorous...
Prince the Shire

But the star of the show was lovely Ruby the Clydesdale...
Ruby the Clydesdale demo 1

Ruby the Clydesdale demo 3

Here she is enjoying a well earned break after the demo...
Ruby the Clydesdale by the horsebox 1

I didn't get many other photographs and I wished I'd snapped some of the spinners because there were loads of them! Four in the craft tent and then a couple more outside on one of the other craft stalls. I did get pictures of a man shearing a sheep though (as if I didn't already have enough photos of men shearing sheep...).

An untrained eye might have wondered what he was up to at first glance...
Shearing a sheep
Is he just hanging out with a fleece on a bench?

Ah, he's got some hand shears...
Sheep shearing 1
Oh, and there's a sheep's head poking over his leg, he is actually shearing after all!
Sheep shearing 3

I snapped some winning sticks in the stick show...
Stick show winners

And to finish on a random note, a stuffed boar's head on the Sillfield Farm stall...
Stuffed boar's head

Something for everyone! :)

Friday, 20 August 2010

Felted curly Gotland rug...

Fibre-related posts have been a bit thin on the ground lately so it's time for some felted rug action! I recently made a wet-felted rug from some gorgeous Gotland fleece that I added to my stash at Woolfest this year.

It's curly...
View across the rug

Very curly!
Corner detail 1

I made it with a thick layer of Shetland wool on the back for strength and squishyness (although it could be squishier... maybe I should have added a layer of Finn wool in there too).

Here it's folded over so you can see the back...
Detail of folded back edge

It was a complete mission to make it and I was totally knackered after a whole day of large-scale felting!

It was easy enough at the start, laying out the curls nice and evenly...
Gotland curls laid out

And then piling on layer after layer of lovely white Shetland...
First layer of Shetland fibre

But then it descended into a hard slog and ended up resulting in blood (those bamboo blinds are hard on the hands...), sweat (feltmaking is a full body workout!) and almost tears as I jumped up and down on it in the bath to try and rinse all the soap out!

I'm quite pleased with the results, although it didn't shrink as much as I was expecting (should have made a sample first!) and it's come out almost square at 90 x 100cm, rather than the rectangle I was aiming for. Oh well, I've got a nice curly rug for my troubles and nearly half the Gotland fleece still left to play with! :)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

A blur of Cumbrian shows...

It's an agricultural show time of year and I've been to lots in the past few weeks, either as part of my day job or just for fun! I thought I'd share some highlights from the last few shows that I attended for work.

First up was Skelton Show at the beginning of July. It was the first time we'd had a stall there to promote waste prevention in Cumbria and the sun shone on our brightly coloured stand...
Our waste prevention stand stand

We took our Cumbria Real Nappy Campaign display with us...
Cumbria Real Nappy Campaign display

And a Womble as our stand mascot (at the request of the show organisers - we don't usually feel the need to take a mascot to shows with us!)...
Womble mascot
In true waste prevention style, this is a reused Womble that we made for last year's Dalston Scarecrow Festival. He's not a very lucky Womble though because he didn't win the scarecrow competition or the stand mascot one. We still love him though!

Cockermouth Show at the end of July was much less sunny so we were glad to have our flags to brighten things up a bit...
Recycle flag

The RSPB also made up for the lack of sunshine with their dazzling gazebo...
RSPB gazebo envy
I was very envious of it!

North Lonsdale Show was also towards the end of July and the weather was still gloomy but the show made up for it. It's the first time I've been to this show and although it's a small one, it's got a bit of everything.

Sheep for instance (it was only a matter of time before there was a sheep photo!). These are the first Norfolk Horns I've ever seen...
Norfolk Horn sheep 2
They're quite a rare breed (listed as 'at risk' by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust on their watchlist).

This is a handsome North Ronaldsay ram...
North Ronaldsay ram

And a North Ronaldsay ewe...
North Ronaldsay ewe
North Ronaldsays are even more at risk than Norfolk Horns, classified as 'endangered' on the RBST's watchlist.

Even lovely Wensleydales like this one (who is checking out the show) are classed as an 'at risk' breed...
Wensleydale ears
All these sheep belong to a local man called David who I bumped into at the Ulverston Carnival last year when he was outside my Mum's house with one of his Wensleydale ewes and a North Ronaldsay ram on leads. I blogged about the fleeces I got from him and I've been having fun cleaning and sorting them all!

It was nice to say hello to the sheep that grew the lovely Wensleydale fleece I have at home :)

Speaking of fleeces, there were several impressive sheep shearing demos...
Shearing a spotty sheep

Shearing sheep

And some beautiful heavy horses being shown, like this Clydesdale (this breed is classified as 'vulnerable' by the RBST so it was good to see plenty of them at the show)...
Clydesdale in hand

Things took a turn for the bizarre in the floral marquee, with this clog-based flower arrangement...
Floral clog

When I got back outside I saw that the North West Evening Mail newspaper had managed to top last year's 'name that cow' competition with 'name that rabbit'!
Name that rabbit competition
The rabbit in question didn't look at all impressed to be the centre of so much attention.

I took this photo in the handicrafts marquee to tease Ade because currant slices are his favourite kind of tray bake (and these ones must be really good!)...
Currant slice competition

I was dashing around trying to see everything in a short space of time to make sure I wasn't away from my stand for too long so a whole marquee full of rabbits (and rabbit photo opportunities) resulted in just one photo of a rather lovely orange one...
Orange rabbit

We also had a stand at Cartmel Show, which is a lovely mid-week event at the beginning of August. It's quite a horsey show and I could have spent all day just watching all the different types of horses being shown and judged and going around the jumping ring (shame I had to work!).

I caught this lovely Shire mare and foal resting by their horsebox...
Shire mare and foal relaxing
I'd started to think that all heavy horse foals naturally had that swirly textured hair all over their bodies but I realised it was all for effect when I saw about four people busily texturing one poor foal's coat at a show. I still don't know quite what the reason is though...

There were sheep at Cartmel Show too!

A friendly looking Bluefaced Leicester ewe...
Bluefaced Leicester ewe

And some more lovely Wensleydales...
Wensleydales in the sun

Wensleydale face

That's it for now, more to come soon! :)

Saturday, 14 August 2010

(Mostly) home grown garden salad...

Even though the weather here has been bad for several weeks, our little garden struggles on and we've had a few lovely veggie crops from it, including some very tasty (if not very numerous) new potatoes.

Our most recent harvest was a delicious salad featuring home grown sugar snap peas, yellow cherry tomatoes and nasturtium flowers (plus some salad leaves from the organic veg box)...
(Mostly) home grown garden salad

Mmm... delicious! :D

We've got a lot of nasturtiums and have quite a few of the little brain-like seed pods on the plants, which we're going to use in a Piccalilli. The recipe we'll use is from the amazing River Cottage Preserves book, which I highly recommend if you're interested in jams, chutneys and pickles! :)

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Fun at the folk museum...

While we were on holiday in Yorkshire recently, we visited the Ryedale Folk Museum and it was great fun! The museum is set in three acres of land and there are all sorts of buildings from around the country and through the ages that have been dismantled and rebuilt on the site.
Ryedale Folk Museum

One of the first things you come to is a selection of old craft workshops and a fantastic old village shop (the kind that used to sell everything). Check out the shelves full of vintage packaging...
Yorkshire shop 1

Shop shelves 1

There were also some very cool old adverts and promotional items in the shop, like this giant packet of chewing gum hung from the ceiling...
Wrigley's gum

And a very random McVitie's biscuit advert on the wall...
Parrot biscuit ad
Did everyone have a parrot chained to the mantelpiece in days gone by?!

It also turned out that Vimto used to be a very pushy company...
Vimto closed

There were some great examples of cruck framed houses, including one called 'Stang End'...
End of thatched cruck house

And an example of a crofter's cottage...
Crofter's cottage

The interiors were very impressive, with fantastic exposed beams showing the structure of the buildings and the inside of the thatch...
Rafters

The windows let in a lovely soft light...
Window light

And there were some 'artefacts' dotted about that made us feel at home, such as these baskets of dyed wool (there's a lot of that in my house!)...
Baskets of dyed wool

And a wooden bowl very similar to the ones we've got that were made by Robin Wood...
Wooden bowl and spoon

I don't know why, but I got really excited about the wash house... Maybe all the threads that I've been reading on Ravelry about washing sheep fleeces have got me lusting after a wash house of my own to save bending over the bath? Very strange... I even bought a book called Laundry Bygones and I've already read it from cover to cover!

The dolly tubs were particularly appealing (I'd never seen one before but I know what some of the designs are called now thanks to an old advert in my Laundry Bygones book) and the museum had a good collection of them, all slightly different in design...
Stronga dolly tub

Two dolly tubs
This one's got a wooden dolly peg in it!
Dolly tub and dolly peg

This one has a special anti-splash rim!
Non-splash dolly tub 1
I'm so sad... :D

I love old wooden boxes like these...
Monkey soap and Colmans starch

I spotted a lovely bull with curly hair on an old Colman's mustard box...
Colman's mustard bull

We had a great time in the Victorian photographer's studio that has been rebuilt on the site. I didn't get a photo of the studio itself because I was instantly distracted by the area that had been set up for people to take their own photos of each other dressed up in the selection of clothes that had been thoughtfully left on a rail next to a painted backdrop and wooden chair!

Ade got stuck in straight away and found an RAF jacket and hat...
RAF man 1

RAF face 1

And then changed into a slightly more disturbing ensemble of green hat, red dress and some kind of furry creature...
Cat in a hat 1

I liked the look of the hat myself...
Me in a hat

Once we'd recovered from that, we went outside to meet Max the Clydesdale horse, who turned out to be at the museum on retirement after a lifetime of galloping about on beaches as one of the Cumbrian Heavy Horses team...
Ade meets Max

After chatting to Max, we wandered up to the Iron Age roundhouse that's been built from scratch using authentic materials and techniques. It was a very impressive structure with a very distinctive shape from the outside...
Iron age round house

There was a rustic upright loom inside with some clay weights hanging on the warp...
Loom warp weights

On the way back from the roundhouse we passed some of the other farm animals that live at the museum, including some friendly hens...
Buff hen

And some rare Lincolnshire Curly Coated pigs that were either too far away to photograph or too near and too fast to get a non-blurry photo!

The vegetable gardens were inspiring but we were a bit confused by the rows of potato plants that seemed to have tomatoes growing off them...
Spud tomatoes
What's that all about?!

There was so much to see, we'd definitely go back if we get the chance in the future. My full set of photos is on Flickr here if you're interested. I'd recommend a visit if you're in the area, especially if you like dolly tubs as much as I do! :)