For the past couple of months going in and out of the potting shed has been something of a competitive sport. The swallows arrived back from Africa a couple of months ago. Most of them nest in the un-used barn behind the house, but this year a pair decided to build a nest in the rafters of the potting shed.
It had a certain rustic appearance from underneath, and for a long time we presumed they were a pair of first time breeding birds who were getting the hang of nest building, and probably wouldn't raise a clutch of eggs this year. Apparently this isn't unusual with swallows, building your home using beakfuls of mud isn't an instantly acquired skill!
A couple of days ago though space must have got a bit cramped because 5 babies appeared out of the nest and sat on the rafters building up their nerve to make their maiden flight.
They're still coming back and roosting in the potting shed, and are making sure we know about it, for small birds the quantity of poo is enormous!
Every now and again they need a little help with their exit strategy... after all a window and a door look much alike in swallow world. They also still have their lovely cute baby mouths, the white rim helps the parents to find their beaks and stuff in insects.
They're also much paler than the grown adults. This is one I had to rescue from my house a couple of years ago.
The garden is in full English Country garden summer spectacular mode. The roses grow particularly well here, and are putting on a real show.
Even in the non-cultivated sections there's plenty of things putting on a show.
This Clematis is tucked away in the hedge, who knows who it got there...
I'm particularly captivated by this combination of red, orange, and green. When you look closely it shows up in lots of places. These are the seed heads on the Gunera plant, but it's uncannily similar to the colours on these sycamore leaves.
They're also present on this sycamore key that had fallen off before properly ripening.
While the garden was beautiful to look around it certainly wasn't a haven of peace and quiet. The military jets were busy doing training flights.
The chickens were also making their presence felt.
Looks like the new website is working out rather well. So far no major issues, and the new design seems to be a hit.
So, to celebrate I'm going to host a giveaway.
The summer edition of Ply magazine came out a few weeks ago, and I have an article in it. It's based around my technique of spinning silk lace weight with lower levels of twist.
Of course one of the issues with print is that the image size is limited, so I thought I'd share some shots of the samples in a bit more detail.
Of course to get the full details you'll have to read the article!
If you don't have a subscription here's your chance to get a copy of this edition. To enter all your have to do is leave me a comment with the details of the finest yarn you've ever spun.
I want to know metres it was per gram (take the total meterage and divide it by the total weight of the skein), and what it was made from. If you don't include both those pieces of information your entry won't count!
All yarns count, no one is judging, we all spin different yarns for different purposes, and have different levels of experience.
Entries close at midnight (BST) on Thursday 16th July 2015.
I've spent the past week with my design head very firmly screwed on. When I came back from Woolfest I took a week off work to get a few things sorted around the house.
Back in April we knocked through the connecting door between the cottage and the barn, and of course building work means that you need to do some re-decorating. After 3 months I still hadn't managed to find time to get it done as my work diary has been pretty much jam packed.
However, I now have a clean and tidy house and feel much better for it. The painting has been done, and downstairs is now a fresh shade of green.
Leading up the stairs and on the end wall of the upstairs room has also had a fresh look.
The colour, in the manner of all good colours is being spectacularly awkward to capture. It's a vibrant electric blue, and despite blue's reputation for being cold actually feels very warm because of how the colour glows. It's a massive change from the pale blue grey that was there before, but it was a week well spent!
The website has also had a whole new look as well. I've had to re-write most of the content, and hopefully it will be a bit more pleasing on the eye, and easier to navigate.
I love summer, the long days seem to stretch on forever, and being able to do stuff outside without adding layers, and battling the rain is glorious. Somehow though the days still aren't long enough, and the list of things I want to do takes over. I got back from Woolfest a week ago and gave myself the week off, I've been doing things around the house (more of that later), and generally giving myself a break from so much screen time. In my average working 6 day week I spend at least 2 of them on my laptop and it's nice to be free from editing photos, wading through emails, posting on social media, and other stuff that's required to make everything about Hilltop Cloud "work".
However, that means there is some catching up to do. I've not posted on the blog in a while and lots has happened.
First update is about the chickens. They've got new digs! This was my 30th birthday present to myself, the old small chicken house was starting to fall to bits and despite my best efforts I couldn't get on top of the red mite that had taken up permanent residence.
It's an Eglu Go Up! from Omlet, made from plastic so it will be easy to clean, and should last a long time.
After a bit of a strop about how they'd arranged the old house just how they liked it, and the new one didn't smell right, the gang have decided it will do nicely. It's currently home to Froome, Millar, and the grey ladies, together with Penny. The Dark Side currently sleep in the large shed, Dusty, Big Bird and the Supremes are all black so when they rampage around the garden they're collectively known as the Dark Side, given Big Bird's bullying streak it seems a bit apt.
Miss Penny has decided the new house is just what she wanted, and she's been trying to brood some imaginary eggs for the past couple of weeks.
Wiggo and Penny are now sporting some very smart maroon coats. Wiggo in particular was in a bit of a state, when chickens mate the cockerel stands on the back of the hen, and Wiggo's frizzly feathers are very brittle and over time she's been left with no feathers on her back. It means she gets chilly in the colder weather, and is also exposed to full power of the sun. The fleece is nice and light and after a bit of a strop she now doesn't even notice it's there.
You might have noticed that there was no mention of Boyo in the housing arrangements. Boyo is now living in the great chicken house in the sky, with unlimited supplied of tasty worms and as many snacks and ladies as he would want.
The grey chickens are 4 years old now, and for little chickens that's quite a good age. Recently he'd become a gentle old man, who quite liked a cuddle, and a snooze in the sunshine. He fell asleep in the vegetable garden one sunny afternoon and didn't wake up.
I do have something to remember him by though, my fiend Katharine bought me this tea towel and mug , which is uncannily like Boyo in his prime surrounded by his flock of ladies.
It's not just the chickens getting a new look house, behind the scenes I'm busy working on a new website for Hilltop Cloud, it's looking great so I'm hoping to get it up and running by the end of the week.