Sunday, 22 May 2011


We decided on Friday to go down to Devon to see Sarah, Casie and Rowan. Mad rush all day as I wanted to restore her new treadle which is a New Williams -

 The woodwork needed some serious work as there were a lot of stains and water marks. I had to strip off all the shellac polish with methylated spirit, bleach using a mixture of washing soda and hydrogen peroxide, sand down and then stain with dark oak. I got this far on Friday and decided not to polish the top as it would probably get damaged during transit. I stripped the treadle right down as it needed a good clean and was easier to transport that way, taking up much less room.

The now mostly stain free treadle top was lovingly wrapped in blankets and placed in the car, with machine and treadle parts all round, plus a drum kit and guitar for Rowan, Phil's sea fishing tackle, various plants and lots of eggs for them to eat as Sarah's chickens are only just coming into lay.

Once we got down to Devon, Phil had tea and went off to fish on Clovelly harbour and I set to to clean and rebuild the treadle irons. Had some trouble with this as some of the nuts and bolts didn't want to go back together, but with perseverance and a lot of muttering, it was done, top on and looking very nice. Another hiccup was that I had left the bottom treadle rod in the car and had to put that in when Phil came back.

Next was polishing the top and front drawer with button polish and linseed oil. While this was drying I serviced and cleaned the machine head, this included cleaning and polishing all the somewhat rusty chromeware and installing a new leather treadle belt. When this was finally done, the machine looked quite stunning. It is the first Canadian machine to be in our collections. Made in Montreal, Canada.

Another hiccup. Phil being heavy footed managed to break the wooden pitman playing with the treadle and I was not amused. The machine was now unusable until I repaired or replaced the pitman. We soldiered on and I decided to test the machine by hand cranking it.

I had previously sent Sarah the user manual so she read out the threading diagram so I could thread up and then while I guided the fabric, she spun the wheel round. This is one of those machines which run in the opposite direction to Singers which move towards you. My Jones Spool is another. With just a little adjustment on the weird top tension, she sewed like a dream. Such a straight stitch, absolutely beautiful. Sarah had earlier said this machine would probably only be used as a show piece, but now I think she will be well used for quilting.

I was very pleased with the way the restoration turned out. There was still a stain on the left hand side of the treadle top, but this was much less obtrusive. I finally gave all the woodwork a coat of antique wax polish and now it glows. I will get Sarah to take some pics of the restored top and post them another day.

All in all, a good day in Devon, although Phil didn't get a lot of fishing in because the Anglers' Car Park was shut and he was sent away from the car park near the Red Lion and told to park in the Main car park which is about 3/4 of a mile away, impossible with a heavy fishing trolley and rod bag as it is all steeply downhill. So, he came home. He did catch a small European Bass which Casie cooked with Rosemary, Thyme and lemon. Sarah and Phil said it was very nice and Phil would like to catch a bigger version next time.

We got home from Devon about 1a.m., fed all the animals, had a cup of tea and went to bed about 2 a.m. We had been up for 22 1/2 hours, What a long day! Phil, poor love had done all the driving because he enjoys it.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


Well, some of the exotic seeds have started coming up, several different colours of Butterfly Vine - Double blue, lavender and white, some more Loofahs, Woad and Indigo (dye plants for my collection, I already have Weld and Alkanet.
The allotment is all rotavated and we have peas in as well now. Friday we should be able to get some cabbages in, for us and the chooks who adore Greyhound cabbage. The ex-batts can strip a cabbage in 20 minutes. The two bantams are both broody, one is sitting on 2Araucana eggs and the other was sitting on ---nothing, so I tucked two Nankin eggs under her, she was quite happy about that and pushed them further underneath her feathers. Today when they went out to eat, they came back in and swapped nests, strange creatures. Maybe we will get chicks, maybe not.

The first pic is Lavender Araucana chicks, the second Nankins.

Saturday, 14 May 2011


This is a really busy time both in the greenhouse and up the allotment. We have nearly finished rotavating the whole allotment. We have sown lettuces, spring onions, rocket, carrots, globe onions and shallots. We have plants queuing up in the greenhouse - cabbages, purple sprouting broccoli, peas, beetroot, sweetcorn, more lettuces, runner and Borlotti beans and courgettes.

In the greenhouse we are growing tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, peppers and a melon plant. I have also sown lots of herb seeds to plant out at the end of the garden, some dye plants and some exotic flowering plant seeds which I bought from eBay last year and lost.

The chickens are all doing well, Phil has grown loads of cabbage plants for them and they can also have all the plant tops like carrots, gone to seed lettuce and plant thinnings. They will have to share them with the rabbits of course.

I had another rabbit die two weeks ago. I went in the shed to feed them and Emerald was just lying there dead, not a mark on her, she was only 3 years old and one of the best wool producers with a really thick cinnamon coloured coat. short of having a post mortem done it is impossible to say what caused her death. Rabbits can die suddenly of heart attacks and there were literally no symptoms. She was fine the night before, scrabbling at me as usual when I fed her and trying to bite me which she always did. She had eaten all her food that day, but not that night, So I am down to 11 rabbits now.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Quick update

Not had time to post lately, too busy with the allotment, chickens, and eBay. One of the ex-batts seems to have hurt her foot, she's been limping or hopping for a few days, but she is starting to put a bit of weight on it now. Strains and sprains take a long while to heal, longer than broken bones.

Kesira one of the cats is also a bit off colour and not eating much at all. Hopefully she will be better tomorrow, she ate a bit of tuna tonight. Several of the cats seem to have had a cold of sorts, sneezing and croaky voices so maybe she is the same.