Sunday, 14 December 2008

Free bunny and cat pattern for christmas

And why not. And even better, you only need scrap wool and it takes no time at all. Enjoy....

You will need a couple of balls of inexpensive yarn in contrasting colours. Any spare yarn you have lying around in your workbasket will probably be fine - this little critter doesn’t take up an awful lot. I used Patons Zhivago. You can opt for more expensive yarn if you fancy a pedigree mew, but cheap acrylic is fine for a moggy mew.

6mm safety eyes (or you can embroider the eyes if you choose)

A scrap of felt for the muzzle. You will need to cut the circle approx 2cm in diameter.

Black embroidery thread for the nose and mouth, and pink thread for the bunny nose

A 3.0mm hook



Ch – chain
sts - stitches
Sc – single crochet
Sc-inc – Single Crochet increase (sc twice into same stitch)
Sc-dec – Single Crochet decrease (sc two stitches together)
FO – finish off

The body, head legs and arms are the same for both the Mew and the Bunny. Instructions for the Bunny nose and ears are included at the end. For the single striped bunny, I joined in the contrast yarn at row 7 and used it for two rows. On row 9, I went back to the main colour. For the mew, I joined the contrast for rows 4/5, and again at rows 8/9. You can join your colours however you want, or keep your body all one colour. Have some fun with different colour schemes!


Using your main colour.
Row 1 - ch 2. sc 6 sts in second ch from hook, or use the magic loop method
Row 2 - sc-inc in each stitch around = 12 sts
Row 3 - *sc1, sc-inc. Repeat from * around = 18 sts
Row 4 - *sc2, sc-inc. Repeat from * around = 24 sts
Row 5 - sc around. = 24 sts
Row 6 - *sc2, sc-dec. Repeat from * around = 18 sts
Rows 7 to 9 - sc around = 18 sts.
Row 10 - *sc1, sc-dec. Repeat from * around = 12 sts
Row 11 - sc around = 12 sts

Mouth and Nose (mew only)

To give your mew the kind of face he has in the picture, you will need to cut a piece of felt about 2cm in diameter. Embroider the nose and mouth how you prefer and then sew your whiskers in place at the back before attaching the felt to the head of the mew. The back of the felt will look a bit of a mess – like this....

You can see where the mouth and nose are, with the whiskers taking shape at the sides.

When you turn the felt over, you will see something much nicer, like this...

Make the whiskers longer than you need them to be so that you can cut them to size once you've secured them to the back of the felt.


Row 1 - ch 2. sc 6 sts in second ch from hook, or use the magic loop method
Row 2 - sc-inc in each stitch around = 12 sts
Row 3 - *sc1, sc-inc. Repeat from * around = 18 sts
Row 4 - *sc2, sc-inc. Repeat from * around = 24 sts
Row 5 - *sc3, sc-inc. Repeat from * around = 30 sts
Rows 6 to 8 - sc around = 30 sts

If you want to attach the eyes in the same place as on the pictured cat, you can do so now. I put them between rows 6 and 7.

Row 9 - *sc3, sc-dec. Repeat from * around = 24 sts
Row 10 - *sc2, sc-dec. Repeat from * around = 18 sts

If you have made the mouth out of felt, I would attach it now before the hole becomes too small to sew it on comfortably.

Row 11 - *sc1, sc-dec. Repeat from * around = 12 sts
Row 12 - sc around = 12 sts

Arms x2

Row 1 - ch 2. Sc 7 sts in second ch from hook, or use the magic loop method
Rows 2-7 - sc around = 7 sts
FO and leave a long enough thread to attach to the body

Legs x2

Row 1 - ch 2. Sc 8 sts in second ch from hook, or use the magic loop method
Rows 2 to 3 - sc around = 8sts
Row 4 - sc-dec, sc around = 7 sts
Rows 5 to 7 - sc around = 7 sts
FO and leave a long enough thread to attach to the body

Ears x2 (see below for bunny ears)

Row 1 - ch 2. Sc 6 sts in second ch from hook, or use the magic loop method
Row 2 - *sc1, sc-inc. Repeat from * around = 9 sts
Rows 3 to 4 - sc around = 9 sts
FO – leave enough yarn to sew ears to head.

Assembling the mewcat

Stuff the head and body and stitch together. There’s no need to stuff the limbs – simply sew the top of the legs and arms flat before attaching to the body. If you want the mew to sit down, sew his legs about three rows up from his bottom. If you want him to stand, place the legs closer to the base.

Sew the ears on to the head.


Bunny body, head, legs and arms are the same as for the mew pattern.

Bunny Ears x2

Row 1 - ch 2. Sc 5 sts in second ch from hook, or use the magic loop method
Row 2 - sc-inc in each stitch around = 10 sts
Row 3 – *sc-inc, sc 4. Repeat from * around = 12 sts
Rows 4 and 5 – sc around = 12 sts
Row 6 - sc-dec around = 6 sts
Rows 7 and 8 - sc around = 6 sts.
FO. Using the tail of the yarn, pinch the bottom of the ears together and put in two or three stitches in to keep them looking “curled”.

Bunny Nose

Row 1 - ch 2. Sc 5 sts in second ch from hook, or use the magic loop method
Row 2 - sc-inc in each stitch around = 10 sts
Row 3 - sc around = 10 sts.
FO leaving a tail long enough to attach the nose to the face.

Embroider on the mouth with pink thread.

Assemble the bunny as described for the mew above.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

How to cheat at games and be a bad mother

Limekitten likes playing a computer game called "Monster Mash".

The object of the game is to stop a series of slightly ridiculous monsters from reaching the village and eating the inhabitants. You do this by constructing cannon at strategic points on the path to the village. Put them in the wrong place, and your chances of success are reduced. Upgrade them incorrectly and you're simply asking for trouble. I control the gameplay, but Limekitten gives the orders.

Limekitten's favourite adversary

We don't play every day or even every week. But when we do it is a source of much giggling. However, there came a point one evening where the monsters got the better of us, and we had to give up.

There's something to be said for being a bit technically aware. Not too technical, but just technical enough to know how to hunt down the .ini file and reduce some of the values. Like, well, the amount of points you need before you can upgrade those weapons to maximum firing capacity.

A few days later and Limekitten was amazed. "You've got really good at this, mummy. Have you been practising?".

I'll admit to feeling slightly shamefaced.

He must never know.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Extreme Crochet Pt II

The Extremeties of Making.

Specifically for the Parent Teachers Association, who like people to make things. So a lot of us made a lot of stuff.

Here is some of that stuff in a basket, waiting to be taken to school.

I was expecting my own room...

It's been crochet hell getting this lot done in time.

Some things were more popular than others, but the badger, I am pleased to say, went down very well and it's a shame I only had one.

whatever you do, don't look round..

There was also a request for some pigs. I didn't have any pigs, and have not really concentrated on porcine creations so far, so who knows what manner of pork scratchings are going to be created before perfection is achieved.

Pardon? Do I know you?

I am glad it's over, though. It now allows the time to stock the shop and get the badger pattern online. There's also a free pattern coming for the blog. Soon, hopefully. The hands need a rest, too.

I also need to reintroduce myself to the limekitten. He's been as patient as it's possible to be for a 6 year old, but I think he's had enough.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A Nightingale Sang in East Wellow

Last weekend, the large cat suggested a walk around East Wellow because "it's where Florence Nightingale is buried". This is a man who shows scant interest in history, so I was shocked by this sudden conversion to the finest of academic pursuits. Sadly, my delight was short lived. This "Florence Fact" had come to his attention because Miss Nightingale, as well as being a nurse, was also a statistician. This was a complete revelation. I had no idea that she was numerically famous although I did know a reasonable amount about the Crimean war (and obviously, everyone has heard of Cardigan, Raglan and Balaclava, the latter being a particularly nasty form of torture inflicted on children during cold spells in the 70's). But he, being a mathematical sort of person, did. Who says maths and history don't go?!

King Alfred woz ere

Anyway, we set off, having not really had a decent walk for a few weeks, only to be met by a steadily increasing drizzle. It was just about tolerable in the churchyard of St Margaret of Antioch, where Florence is buried. I only found out this evening that the founding of this church goes back to the time of King Alfred and that the building itself contains a rather splendid medieval wall painting. So perhaps we shall be going back to have a closer peek.

Having taken a photo of the grave, which does rather stand out from the rest of the burial plots, the drizzle began to turn nasty, and on following the waymark for the beginning of our walk, we were confronted by this...

"You shall not pass!"

Well, I wasn't prepared to walk through that little lot. Having survived the infamous "Pea Field Fiasco" just outside Petersfield last year, I wasn't willing to risk a reprise with an even more menacing crop. Navigating Fangorn would have been preferable. So we returned to the car. And to be fair, it was absolutely chucking it down by then.

East Wellow is pretty and the church, even in the drizzle, looked interesting. With more time I think it would be worth exploring further. The roads are very narrow, though, so if you fancy visiting the Lady of the Lamp in her final resting place and having a walk afterwards, you may as well leave your car at the church as there's nowhere else you can safely park unless you have a motorbike or a very thin vehicle.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Etsy Observations

There are a few nice things about opening an Etsy shop.

Firstly, someone might actually like your stuff. For a generally non creative person like myself, that's an extraordinary turn up for the books, believe me.

Shop til you don't drop

Secondly, the experience so far is that the other sellers and buyers are very encouraging and constructive individuals. They genuinely seem to want to help you out.

Thirdly, even if no sales are made, people can show their appreciation through "hearting", which means they can let you know if they either like your shop, or your items. I had a new shop heart this very evening, which is always a nice and uplifting thing.

The bad news is - there are a lot of very successful sellers on Etsy, who seem to sell about 400,000,000 items per second. If you think this is hyperbole, you'd be right. But it gives some indication of the mountains which need to be climbed for a small, snail-like crocheter.

What this means is that every time those big sellers sell, they relist. And relist. And relist again. So your individual, hand crafted labour of love is on the front page of the search engine for about 3 seconds flat (during which period you are rather disproportionately excited) before being knocked onto page 2 (during which period your excitement is extinguished and you gnash your teeth and weep).

The Craft Bag of Possibilities - there is a compass and protractor at the bottom. No, really, there is.

So I'm just going to have to make more things, which is going to be a tall order, what with being a creative dullard. But there is a craft bag full of stuff in the kitchen. And some grey, black and cream wool in the yarn box. It is quite possible that a badger may well seek refuge under the dining table, point out that mountains are there to be climbed, not shirked (badgers are notoriously obstinate like that), and suggest that I give him a new set of legs and put him in the shop front.

I may well take him up on his offer.

"Careful with those pins, woman!"

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Extreme Crochet Pt I

It has been rather a tough few days on the fingers, but the results are finally bearing fruit. These little critters have just gone on sale and though I say so myself this isn't too bad a picture for a notoriously rubbish photographer. You can see enough detail, and they look quite jolly, sitting out there in the garden on a crisp October day.

10p for a cup of soup, anyone?

Although it would appear that the rabbit is a tad camera shy, or maybe he senses the shortcomings of the portrait artist.

"I can't be expected to work in these conditions"

Anyway, there will be more posting on the extremities of crochet and the perils of opening an Etsy shop. I have things to say on these matters. Oh yes.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Washing Machine Maintenance

Domestic Tip #1 - always attend to the maintenance of your washing machine. Failure to do so may result in an infestation of bears in the drum….

This is Waldorf. At one point, he was driving a lego tractor around the coffee table, so his ultimate containment in the washing machine was something of a relief.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

The Wanton Burden

Keats is everywhere at the moment and it's becoming rather tedious. Autumn, which really is a splendid season, is invariably accompanied by mass Keats quoting to the point where you just want to stuff your ears with dead leaves and squirrels so you don't have to LISTEN to the wretched stuff anymore. It's a nice sonnet and all that, but it raises the foppery quota to unacceptable levels.

So just for a change, we'll go with Shakespeare's Autumn - "Bearing the wanton burden of the prime." It has a fruitier ring to it. And it's not Keats.

To celebrate the wanton burden, here are a couple of autumnal pictures taken on some of our recent walks. First, we have Ham House, a super Jacobean building near the Thames which I rather like even though Mr Horse was underwhelmed.

Ham n' Pineapple, please

It's where Charles II was famously presented with a pineapple. I quite like Charles II but pineapples give me the fear, so fair play to the Merry Monarch for giving it a whirl.

And here is lovely, lovely Winchester cathedral which has featured on this blog before but you can never have too much of it, I say. It was a lovely, crisp day, the water meadows were on top form and the pub wasn't too full. Bingo!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Squids In

It was supposed to be a shrew, an "Animals of Farthing Wood" type shrew. There was no pattern, but how difficult could it be, after all this practice?

Well, in much the same way that no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, no one expects a shrew to turn out to be a squid. But that's what happened. What fell off the hook was not a small, fluffy woodland creature, but an underwater menace by the name of Squirtle.

I am not a shrew.

So onto shrew mark II. So confident that nothing aquatic would occur this time, I even risked using some posh wool (a merino/alpaca blend). The result was almost a shrew, but really, when you examine it closely, it's an anteater. And he's wearing a stripey jumper. But that's fine. It's close enough.

I am not a squid.

With his talent for innovative naming conventions, the small horse christened it "Anty". It took him all of 2 seconds to come up with that one. You can't buy genius like that, folks.

People who know about these things always recommend that you use the cheapest available acrylic wool to make ami. It cannot be denied that this is a wise strategy for both budgetary and aesthetic reasons. However, that Rowan Felted Tweed WAS awfully nice on the fingers, and the end product is much softer and far more "au naturelle" than anything you'd get from acrylic. It was £1.50 for three different coloured oddments in the bargain bucket of my local craft shop. And it will not last long.

(all Donations to the "Rowan Felted Tweed Fund for Blogging Horses" gratefully accepted).

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

And a walk...

around Wensleydale, since you ask. Rather beautiful too, the high point being the diversion to the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey.

part of the ruins of Jervaulx

The "of history" part of this particular horse is the 16th Century bombshell known as the Henrician Reformation. This, of course, covers the dissolution of monasteries such as Jervaulx and Fountains, which we also visited.

view over the grounds - the sheep on the left is a spy from Lancashire

Fountains was beautiful, if a bit busy for my tastes, but Jervaulx was nothing if not tranquil. You pay if you want to, the leaflets and guides are left in a wooden porch with an honesty box, and then it's just you, some sheep and a fabulous ruin....

Jervaulx Wall

... and a tumbling riot of wildflowers, including white achillea (Yarrow), which I rarely see growing wild in Hampshire.

No doubt the monks would have used achillea for medicinal purposes as it was a common ingredient in dayes of yore, and judging by the amount of the stuff growing on the roadsides near the abbey it would have been a fortuitous place to incur a paper cut. Or scroll cut or whatever the medieval equivalent might be.

The walk continued on from the Abbey, with another diversion in the direction of the tea shop (nice Tunisian Orange cake slices, by the way), and away up into the Wensleydale countryside.

Pretty much this very walk, in fact. Or one which resembled it very closely. And one which I would recommend most heartily.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Lions and Fish

What a useless blogger, wandering off for over a month. But it's been a busy month and since it included both "random crochet threads and a walk or two" it at least lived up to the byline of this blog. And frankly, that's the main thing, eh?

Anyway, on to the random crochet threads. This is "Growly".

He doesn't look very growly at all. More like a slightly depressed pincushion. With bouffant hair. 2 out of 3 of those surveyed said he was a lion, although it took one of those two some moments before she made a positive identification. The third respondent thought he was a hedgehog. I felt ashamed.

Meanwhile, washed up on the shingle, we have "Mr Fishburger".

We did have "Captain Fishbones" as well, a splendid purple creature, but I think one of the cats has dragged him behind the sofa. If these are the sort of jolly japes they get up to when I'm out, I think I might have to ration their biscuits.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

It's a Prawn!

Apparantly. Or so I've been told by some undiscerning savages. It looks like a completed nautiloid to me.

I've got permission from Beth to post up the adapted pattern for her nautiloid. She was pleased that the pattern would be available to crocheters as well as knitters, so many thanks.

The directions below are based on Beth's original knitted pattern (which is here) . To a large extent, I winged it, so the crochet instructions are much more of an inexact science. However, the nautiloid is very forgiving - the odd mistake here or there, like forgetting to increase, increasing on the wrong row, or increasing two stitches instead of one, as I did several times - will be difficult to detect, so don't worry too much about trying to achieve 100% accuracy.

I opted for a variegated yarn rather than going for stripes and am glad I did - the first few rows are quite fiddly owing to the fact that you have to work SC with so few stitches on the hook. Trying to introduce alternate colours would have made my head explode. It's not impossible, though. You could try adding your contrast colour after you'd increased up to about 5/6 stitches - it gets much easier then. Then again, a lot depends on your hook size and the deftness of your fingers.


Magic ring 3 sts, (or ch 2 and work 3 sc into the second chain).
Row 1 - SC around
Row 2: sc-inc, sc to end - 4 sts.
Row 3: sc around
Row 4: sc around
These four rows are tough on the fingers, but it will get easier.
Rows 5-8: Work as for Rows 1-4 - 5sts.


Add a little stuffing at this point and roll the shell towards the hook. Once you get the shape you like, you basically need to SC into one of the shell stitches to keep the coil in place. It really is up to you where you choose to pick up the stitch, but try to keep to the centre of the shell as far as you can, and don't pick up too low down or you don't get much of a coil.

Now, you started this process with 5 sts in your round. Now you have 6. What you should do is SC the coil stitch with the stitch on your hook (sc-dec) to return to 5 sts again, but if you forget and end up with 6 sts, it's not the end of the world. As I said, the nautiloid is very forgiving and so long as you keep more or less to the number of stitches, it will look ok.

So, that was row 9.

Round 10: sc around
Round 11: sc around
Round 12: sc inc - sc around. 6 sts.
Round 13: coil shell, sc around.
And again;
Round 14: sc around
Round 15: sc around
Round 16: sc inc, sc around. 7 sts
Round 17: coil shell, sc around.

Just continue working in these blocks of 4 rows until you get the shell size you want. I went to about 28 sts, but you could make a mini nautiloid or a monster nautiloid if you felt like it.

I kept increasing by 6 sts each row until I had a half ball shape which more or less fitted into the neck of the shell. So,

Magic ring 6 sts
Row 1 - 1 sc inc into each stitch - 12 sts
Row 2 - 1 sc inc, sc - repeat to end of row - 18 sts
Row 3 - 1 sc inc, 2 sc - repeat to end of row - 24 sts
And so on until the circumference is about right. Then sc around for as many rows as it takes to get the head the right length. I think I did about 2/3 extra sc rows, but it's up to you. Don't close the head, just leave the end open and once you start to attach it to the shell, get the stuffing in.
A word of warning - if you make the head too big, it will look ever so slightly phallic when you sew it on!

To attach the head to the shell, make sure the head fits inside the shell so that the shell gives a sort of collar effect. Either add safety eyes before attaching and stuffing, or sew the eyes on afterwards as in my example.

The tentacles are dead easy - just make a set of chains as long as you like. I made 8 chains of about 19 sts each and sewed them on.

And voila!

As I was taking the photographs, I stepped backwards and stood on a snail, coiled shell an' all. I didn't feel too bad about this as he had just been chomping through my campanula.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Poetic Perspective

A nice walk was had last week around a village called Hawkley. The church roof is very distinctive and looks slightly skewed, like an optical illusion. I forgot my camera, but found this picture on flickr. The owner, Luptonn, very kindly gave permission for me to borrow his photograph and post it here.

Each diamond shaped segment looks as if it's a completely different size to the next segment along, as if the panels don't actually belong on the same roof. You can't see the four individual quarters on this picture, but you can sense something slightly off balance about the architecture, and a lack of symmetry which compels you to keep looking up.

The time on the clock is somewhat ironic, as we discovered on our walk that there's a memorial to a WW1 poet (Edward Thomas) up above the valley. The path was too muddy to risk the detour so I had a look at some of his poems when we got home. This one was short, but poignant.

In Memoriam

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Patternless Plankton

This is Sheldon Plankton, the evil and diminutive enemy of Mr Crabs. If you don't watch Spongebob Squarepants then shame on you.

There isn't a pattern for this as I made it up on the fly, and it kind of worked apart from the uneven antennae. The arms are missing because it was "claimed" before I had a chance to sew them on. Once the small one takes things as his own, it's very difficult to persuade him to let me finish them. Sheldon currently resides in the kitchen, inside a tagine. He's no doubt hatching some kind of devilish plot as I speak. Involving preserved lemons, I suspect.

If anyone is interested I'll try and remember what I did and write a pattern. The chances of this happening are low, however, as I can barely remember what I did yesterday, let alone a few months ago. It was worked in a chunky, seagreen aran mix that I found in the remnant basket of my local craft shop, and I probably used a 4.0mm hook.

Told you I was useless at remembering things.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Pooh Sticks

You take them all the way up the A34, show them the sights, drag them around the Ashmoleon to look at Egyptian Mummies (what small boy doesn't like Egyptian mummies?) but when it comes down to it, all your average 5 year old wants to do on a day out in Oxford is play Pooh Sticks with his friend.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

More Circular Things

This time a nautilus. It's supposed to be a knitting pattern, but the thought of grappling with four double pointed needles was too horrific to consider for even a moment. Converting the original pattern to crochet was not difficult. Just do everything it says, but with a hook instead of the pointy things. It is working ok so far, but I worry about the face and tentacles which will have to appear at some point. However - it's quite definitely a shell, and it's coiled, and it looks like it's supposed to. I should stop at this point and leave it as an "unfinished project" to avoid future disappointment.

The original knitting pattern was featured in and is by Beth Skwarecki. If you have a penchant for the pointy needled craft, then you can find the pattern here. One of my Ravelry friends found it. So thank you, Clare.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Fair Circular

We don't do the Court Circular down here. It's the Fair Season in rural Hants. There was a near decapitation during the welly throwing event, but it wasn't fatal and thus didn't merit the appearance of Inspector Barnaby. There were tractors, though, and boys do love their tractors.

One of the fearsome machines was named after the cat, which was a bonus.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Photographic Toys

Nice! Some layout toys to play with. Here's a dragon collage - the dragon isn't finished yet. It's been unfinished for weeks, in fact. Hopefully the scales and ears will go on before the dragon gets totally cheesed off and torches the kitchen. But anyway, the collage option on Picasa is quite nifty, and with luck the dragon isn't so vain that it minds being displayed in this state. The one annoying thing with this new google blog configuration is that you may have to go back to the original blog page and click on the picture again before you can see it magnified. Uploading pictures seems to work slightly differently since Google took over, and so far, it's proving irritating.

Credit for the pattern goes to Angry Angel, and it can be found here on the Craftster site.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Sleeping Cats


This cat is supposed to look like one of my own cats. In terms of colour, it's fairly accurate. In terms of intelligence, the crochet version wins paws down. It was the last thing I managed to finish this week before falling prey to a stomach bug, passed on by the small one. And now the cat is leaving for a new home. He looks suitably concerned, as well he might, considering where he's going.

The pattern for the cat can be found here. It's the Amineko pattern, and is in both Japanese and English. The copyright of the translated pattern is reserved by Nekoyama.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Evil Farmer

You know who you are. You ploughed up two fields on the Test Way, and obscured the exit out of one particular field which caused a needless detour.

I hope you suffer from a surfeit of ear wax which causes bees to nest in your ears, causing much irritation and discomfiture. That'll teach you.

Despotic bears

The appearance of the creature on the right is slightly alarming. He looks like a well known Teutonic psycho and despot. This is what happens when you try to crochet without a pattern and rely on fortune and wool supplies to dictate the end result.

Which in this case is hideous.

Google ate my blog

The previous blog appears to have been eaten by administrative stinkies. So the reason the subject matter of the earlier posts bears no relation to the date, is because I got lazy and cut and pasted. Halloween and Christmas don't normally take place in May, not even in Hampshire.

Normal service resumes now.

Up the Hill Backwards

Well, this was a fun thing to do after a month of self indulgence. A vigorous climb up Beacon Hill, just outside Newbury. It's a hillfort, it's got nice views, and you can climb up it. Bingo!

Here are the boys on the way up

The smaller of the two isn't being dragged up, even though it looks that way. It's more the reassuring hand of guidance, there to prevent slippage (it was a bit muddy).

And here is the summit. Note that soft toys are also permitted to walk up Beacon Hill - indeed they are mandatory items. If you don't place soft toys on the summit marker, you are actually thrown off the hill by the (invisible, obviously) hilltop monitor. Consider them a kind of votive offering. It's a good job we had some handy.

And on an unrelated note, I would give my right arm for eyelashes like these..

Winchester Bollards

The weekend before Christmas is a good time to get toothache. Or not, as the case may be. It also happened to coincide with what felt like the coldest weekend of the year so far. The coldest weekend since the 1660's probably, so it increased the level of dental discomfiture. A pity, since the ice rink had returned to the Cathedral square, surrounded by a festive (albeit expensive and overly esoteric) fair. The small one enjoyed his French Raclette. Mr Horse shivered a lot. But the teeth weren't up to the fun although the dentist did an efficient job of annihilating the troublesome abscess 2 days later. Still, the Cathedral looked fabulous as always, and someone has painted the bollards in the market place. Which was nice.

A view I could never tire of - pound for pound, one of the best cathedrals in the business

After the Norman Conquest, most French bollards were destroyed by disgruntled Saxons. This one, in the Market Square in Winchester, is the last surviving example of it's kind.

Pumpkin Envy

This was our attempt to menace the neighbourhood with pumpkins on Halloween. It's not bad, but on our perambulations this afternoon, on a rather pleasant autumn day of textbook quality, we found this outside the manor house.

It is superior in every way and I am absolutely devastated.