Woolly Country Life

There was a small market in the square behind the church in the photo at the top. This market – called Wollig Landleven (Woolly Country Life) – visits a different village in our part of the country every month from spring through autumn. It is a lovely small-scale event.

The Country Life part refers to ‘essentials’ like soaps, sausages, cheese, herb teas, clothes and all kinds of knick-knacks for the home. My favourite of these is the baker with his wood-fired oven.

The smell is heavenly, and their lovingly displayed loaves are delicious as well as a feast for the eyes.

But I mainly came for the Woolly part, of course. There was wool in different forms. There were raw fleeces in plastic bags…

… complete sheep skins…

… and hand-dyed fibres for felting and spinning.

The last time I went to a ‘real’ crafts fair was in February 2020, and no indoors yarn events will be held here in the near future, as far as I know. The organizers of our regional (indoor) crafts fair are now aiming for February 2022. This market only gets permission because it is outdoors and complies with all the regulations, lilke one-way traffic and a limited number of visitors. And we still need to be careful to keep a 1.5 metres distance, disinfect our hands etcetera.

But in spite of all that, the atmosphere is relaxed, and it is wonderful to stroll around looking at the wares and just be among people. It takes some getting used to that again. There was one person who stood out because of her daring and original outfit.

Looking at the shawl now, it occurs to me that it might be a Stephen West design. And yes, a quick Ravelry search tells me that it is Slipstravaganza. He is so creative, and his designs really stand out.

I enjoyed looking at several baskets filled with handspun yarns. To me it is always inspiring to see what choices other people make. What colours did they choose to combine? How many plies? How thick or thin is their yarn? Is it slubby or even?

It was a lovely surprise to meet two new indie dyers. The first was Wat Wollie (which is a pun in the local dialect and could be translated as What WOOLd you like). Petra dyes her yarns in beautiful saturated colours.

Apart from at these markets, she also sells her yarns through Etsy, and her website can be found here. Petra has only been knitting for a few years, but has quickly become an accomplished knitter, as her sweater shows. I forgot to ask which pattern she used, but I think it is Goldwing by Jennifer Steingass.

The stall next to hers was that of Badcattoo Yarn. It’s fun to see how every dyer has her own style. Badcattoo’s yarns are generally lighter and often have parts left undyed. She also has a website.

For a long time now, my policy has been only to buy yarns with a specific project in mind. But for once I’ve deviated from that rule and bought a skein from both dyers with no idea what I’m going to do with them yet. I had some pocket money to spend on frivolous things, after all.

Both are fingering-weight yarns with a percentage of nylon in them. Top right is Badcattoo’s yarn in lovely pale sky blues with black, white and brown tweedy neps. And bottom left Wat Wollie’s skein in deeper hues of blue and purple, with a few brown speckles here and there.

It felt so good to be hanging out with my ‘tribe’ again for a while.

For anyone living in or near Drenthe, an overview of upcoming Wollig Landleven markets can be found here.

No Plan but a List

Hello, I’m back (although I haven’t really been away). I hope you’ve had a good summer and feel ready to get back to normal life, in as far as it can be called normal at the moment.

Beforehand, I imagined myself during my Summer Break like the sculpture above, only slightly more curvy and with a pair of knitting needles in my hands. No plan, just lazing about.

Except… I’m not the lazing-about-type (I must have been an ant in a previous life or something). I soon realized that staying at home with a husband working through the summer, there was the danger of my two precious weeks becoming two very ordinary weeks. I still didn’t feel like making a plan, but I needed something to give me some sort of direction. So, I got out a notebook and made a list.

A list of things that make a summer holiday into a summer holiday for me. It included:

  • Travel
  • No alarm clock
  • Simple, orderly environment (tent or cottage)
  • Read a foreign magazine
  • No newspaper, no tv
  • Grocery shopping in an unfamiliar shop (I love those huge French Hypermarchés, and the aisles with dozens of different types of muesli and honey in German supermarkets)
  • Spend as much time outdoors as possible
  • Lots of exercise (cycling, walking)
  • Lots and lots and lots of time for crafting and reading
  • Simple food, try a few new things
  • Sightseeing, visit a town, city, museum
  • Some pocket money to spend on frivolous things
  • Send postcards
  • Eat or drink something somewhere
  • Several new books to read
  • Take photographs
  • Keep a diary

Most of the items seemed doable, although some would require a little imagination. I didn’t want it to be a to-do-list with items to check off, just something I could use as a kind of compass. I didn’t do everything on it. One of the things I did do, was take photographs. Loads of them.

Photographs of landscapes…

… lovely houses…

… flowering heather…

… and many, many more.

I didn’t go grocery shopping in one of those big French or German supermarkets, but I did visit a health food shop close by that I’d never been to. They had a display of deliciously fresh looking vegetable plants outside…

… and some lovely honey and other nice things inside.

I did send a few postcards, but I didn’t keep to the ‘no newspaper, no tv’ item on my list. I felt the need to stay informed, and especially the publication of the IPCC climate report felt too important to not read about.

So scary! But the hopeful thing about it is that it seems to have conveyed a sense of urgency. I often struggle with the bad news from around the world. How can I enjoy a Summer Break and blog about small pleasures when so much is going wrong?

This is one of the books I have been reading during my Summer Break:

It is set in an imaginary place in Ireland (travel!), far removed from the real world. In it I found a nugget of wisdom that applies to our everyday world as well: ‘… even in times of death, destruction and ignorance, there are still good people who can make a difference.’ (p. 90)

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Trying to be a good person making a difference. And to be able to do that, we need a break from time to time. Knitting isn’t going to save the world, but at least it isn’t making things worse either. So, I’ve sat knitting and reading on our veranda, behind the flowering dill, quite a bit.

And although the weather was unreliable, I’ve also been walking for hours and cycling for miles and miles.

I didn’t keep a diary, but I’d like to write about a few of the things I’ve seen along the way and thought I’d do that here over the next couple of weeks. It’s far too much for one or two blog posts, so there’ll be a few more than my usual Friday ones. Hope you don’t mind.

What I would have liked to do as well, was visit a few yarn shops in the area, but most of them were having a Summer Break just like me. The only one I visited did have some nice yarns…

… but otherwise was such a mess…

… that I beat a quick retreat and won’t even tell you where it was. But not to worry – there will be a few other crafts-related things to share.

Bye for now, and see you again soon!

(This isn’t my bicycle, but a purely ornamental one in a neighbour’s garden.)

Places to Sit and Knit 1

Hello! Today, I’m taking you along for a short walk, to a lovely place to sit and knit.

The bench in the photo above is about a mile from our home, a 20-minute walk. It is around the bend of a sandy path.

At first glance the view from the bench is underwhelming.

But the better you get to know the spot, the more you start to appreciate it. We cannot enter it, not just because it is a protected nature reserve…

… but also because it is a bog and we’d have a hard time keeping our feet (and the rest of ourselves) dry.

But we can walk around it.

We can say hello to some of the inhabitants. Hello big green frog!

Dragonflies are whirring through the air or sunning themselves.

At first glance, the vegetation is unspectacular, too. But again, the better you look, the more you see.

Our native blueberries, billberries, are much smaller than the ones in the shop. They are easily overlooked, but kneeling down and looking between the leaves you can see that they are ripe.

Another thing that is easily overlooked is the sundew. It is a teeny tiny carnivorous plant, with round leaves of only a few millimetres across.

Looked at from very close up, it is beautiful, with its glistening, sticky and treacherous (to insects) drops.

Strolling around here, taking photographs and enjoying the quiet, I suddenly had the idea of doing a series about ‘Places to Sit and Knit’. I thought we could virtually sit here, and in some other lovely places, together, look around and chat about our knitting a bit.

Of course, a blog is always mainly one-way traffic, but I am really interested in what is on your needles or hooks. Do leave a comment telling me about it, if you feel like it. Mention the name of a pattern or yarn and I may know what it looks like, or I’ll look it up on Ravelry or elsewhere. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving comments on blogs, that’s fine, too.

Today, I don’t have a lot of knitting to show you, though. There are the beginnings of a small object from sock yarn remnants that doesn’t look like much yet:

Some swatches for a new shawl design I’m working on:

And a December gift for someone who’ll probably be reading this that I want to keep a surprise:

And I’m not entirely sure this will really become a series either. Maybe the idea will fall by the wayside, or maybe not. Anyway, I think it’s a nice idea and I’ll try to keep it in mind.

Well, let’s head back home, past the house with the prettiest front door for miles around…

… and through a ferny, sun-dappled (at least today) part of the wood.

As of tomorrow, I have planned two weeks off. My husband prefers to keep working through the summer, albeit at a more leasurely pace, but I really need some time to just sit and knit. Apart from not setting the alarm clock and not doing work of any kind, I haven’t planned anything. The plan is to have no plan. That also goes for my blog. I may pop in if there is something to write about and I feel like sharing it, but I’m not sure.

I hope that you’ll also have some unplanned time this summer. To just sit and knit. Or to read, go for walks, maybe even travel a bit, or do nothing. Whatever you are planning (or not planning) to do, I wish you a lovely time!

A Very Special Day

Hello!

I’m faced with a dilemma. Last week I ended with the mention of a very special occasion coming up, and I promised to write about it. An occasion that has kept me occupied day and night for a while. You see, our daughter got married! But… how interesting is that for other people? And wasn’t this a blog about knitting? And how about the young couple’s privacy?

It would have been okay to blog about the wedding if I’d knit her fabulous lace wedding dress, perhaps, but I didn’t. In that case they would have had to plan their wedding years in advance, and they didn’t. The dress she wore was chiffon covered in pale pink roses.

There were roses in the bridal bouquet and the bridegroom’s buttonhole, too. And pink was a bit of a theme as well, with a pink ribbon around one of the gifts…

… the bridegroom wearing a pink tie, and pink shoes on the bride’s feet. Aww, look at those.

Sometimes it seems like only yesterday that she wore these.

Can you hear a mother’s melancholy sigh? Don’t get me wrong – I’m very happy that my daughter’s so happy. And I also feel enriched by the presence of the man of her choice in our lives. But still…

Recently I was re-reading Towers in the Mist by one of my favourite authors…

… and read this: ‘Every fresh beginning was a new birth and must have its pain as well as its joy, and without these fresh beginnings there could be no life, without them we should turn sour like stagnant water in a pond.’

Exactly. Fortunately, my overriding feeling about this very special day is joy. It was special in a romantic sense.

And special as well because of the current circumstances. A really big, old-fashioned wedding was out of the question. Apart from the bride and groom, there were only six people present. Everyone wore face masks and even the floor of the city hall where the ceremony was held, reminded us of the necessary 1.5 metres distance.

Yes, a very special day. But, hey, I wasn’t going to bore you with endless family pictures and talk of the wedding. Let’s go for a walk around Zutphen, the city where the wedding was held. No towers in the mist here, but towers under a lowering sky.

Church towers…

… and gate towers.

Zutphen is such a romantic and picturesque city, with beautiful old city walls…

… surrounded by orchards and gardens.

Photogenic spots everywhere…

…you…

…look.

The only negative thing I can think of about it at the moment, is that it lacks a yarn shop. There is a lovely quilt shop though.

It specializes in flowery fabrics. Some very special ones are their collection of Dutch Heritage Fabrics. I’m much more of a knitter than a quilter, although I’ve made a few quilts in the past, but I do enjoy making small things with beautiful fabrics.

I must come back when the shop is open and I have more time someday.

Well, it seems like my dilemma has somehow solved itself. Hope you have enjoyed my pictures, and I will really make an effort to get back to knitting over the coming weeks.

Time Slot

Fun, aren’t they, these colourful knitted chickens? They live in the shop window of ‘t Ryahuis, one of the oldest (or the oldest?) yarn shops in the country. It was founded in 1963 by current owner Liane’s Mum and named for a Swedish craft form called rya that was popular back then. I think it is some sort of rug hooking, but correct me if I’m wrong.

Today, hardly anybody knows what rya is anymore, but every knitter around here knows ‘t Ryahuis. This (below) isn’t the best of pictures, and it doesn’t do the lovely window display justice, but it gives an impression of the outside of the shop.

All non-essential shops have been closed here from mid-December. If I’d been on the committee deciding what an essential shop is things would have been different, but as it was ‘t Ryahuis had to close its doors too. Fortunately, we can now book a time slot at ‘non-essential’ shops. It has to be booked at least 4 hours in advance, there can be no more than 2 customers in a shop at any one time, and the time slot has to be for a minimum of 10 minutes.

When Liane e-mailed me that the yarn I’d ordered had arrived, I immediately booked a time slot. Fortunately it was a lot more generous than those 10 minutes and I had enough time to browse around and take loads of pictures to share with you.

Let’s start with some yarn.

Ahhh, doesn’t it feel good just to look at… well, yarn? (I may be slightly deranged, but for me it feels so good to just look at all the colours and textures.) There’s some tweed there, some mohair, some alpaca and even a few sequins.

Every yarn shop has its own signature. One of the special things about ‘t Ryahuis is that they have many, many knitted shop samples to look at for inspiration or to try on.

There is this rack, and another one like it…

… shawls and scarves hanging or lying around everywhere…

… and there are several torsos and mannequins showing off knitwear.

I don’t know what cardigan this lady is wearing, but the shawl is a Stephen West design. I’m not entirely sure, but I think it is Vertices Unite.

While I was browsing around, a parcel was delivered and I heard Liane exclaim, ‘Yay, it’s from our knitter! That was quick!’ The summer top in it was immediately put on one of the mannequins.

It is knit in a linen yarn and the pattern is from the latest issue of Lang Fatto a Mano.

One other customer had booked a time slot at the same time. She needed some yarn and had a question about casting off a huge shawl (I think it was over 2 metres long) she was knitting for her daughter. While she (right) and Liane (left) were looking at it, I quickly snapped a picture (asking permission, of course).

It is a Rowan design, knit in their Alpaca Classic. And I can tell you, it doesn’t only look gorgeous, it is also unbelievably soft.

Apart from us, customers, and Liane, there was somebody else there as well – shop dog Ollie.

Sadly, Ollie met with an accident several years ago and will have to wear braces on two of his legs for the rest of his life. He is such a gentle and calming presence in the shop.

I don’t want to make this too long, because I want to show you a bit of the village, too, but there are a few more things I just have to show you.

During normal times, the shop hosts lots of knitting workshops and knit-‘n-natter groups. People will be sat around this table now covered in knitting books and yarns.

Even the lamp has a knitted shade, and two mannequins wearing knitted items (what else?) are looking on.

One of them has a Kaffe Fasset scarf around her neck…

… and the other one is wearing a light and fluffy cream sweater with subtle colour details and a lace scarf.

I didn’t ask, but looking at it, I think that the sweater is a Marianne Isager design.

Finally, let’s take a look at what is tucked away on top of this wall of yarn.

Hidden just out of sight in the top left corner is a row of hats.

And next to them a collection of knitted monkeys, bears and mice designed by Anita from Zij Maakt Het. Another one of her monkeys, called Saar, is in the shop window looking out. Do check out Anita’s website. Her stuffed toys are adorable and very cleverly constructed.

Well, time’s up. For more information about ‘t Ryahuis, please visit their website. They don’t sell all of their yarns online, but they do have a webshop for Isager yarns, and another one for knitting kits.

Because it was such mild and sunny weather and I had the entire afternoon to myself, I took a stroll through the village afterwards. The village of Zuidlaren is famous for its annual horse fair.

As you may know, I love looking at beautiful houses, and there are enough of those here. In the traditional farmhouse style…

… as well as many other styles.

I walked to the small harbour at the end of the village…

… because I wanted to take a look at the mill museum.

Like just about everything else, it was closed, but still nice to take a look at from the outside. The mill dates from 1851 and used to grind grain and spices, and press oil from flax seed.

Walking back to the car, I passed a flower shop. Flower shops are the only shops considered ‘semi-essential’. Like most other shops, they are closed to customers inside (apart from time slots now), but they can sell their wares outside.

Those lemons can’t be real, surely?

Well, I think that was a fabulous outing. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too. Oh, and here is my ‘loot’.

Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Fine Lace for a cardigan, Isager Bomulin for a summer top, and some Regia sock yarn. That should keep me busy for a while.

Wishing you a relaxed weekend. Don’t forget to take a snooze now and then! Xxx

Note: My blog isn’t sponsored. I just like writing about yarn and believe in supporting small and local businesses, especially during these difficult times.

Feels like Spring

Hello!

Today I’m writing to you from and entirely different world compared to two weeks ago. The snow melted away in no time, and suddenly it feels like spring. The spring bulbs in our garden are bursting into flower.

It’s not just crocuses and snowdrops, but also winter aconites,

and dwarf irises, yellow and blue.

It’s so lovely to feel the warmth of the sun, hear the birds sing their hearts out, and enjoy the flowers and the buzzing of the first bees.

And yet… there is this gnawing feeling.

It shouldn’t be like this in February – it’s unseasonally warm. The highest temperatures ever measured in this month for 5 days in a row. I don’t want to be a spreader of doom and gloom, but I can’t just ignore such signs of a changing climate. I’ve heard that it affects different parts of the world differently. Here in the Netherlands the climate has changed noticeably even in my lifetime (less than sixty years!).

Seems to me that if we want to leave our children, grandchildren and their children with a liveable planet so that they, too, can enjoy the beautiful signs of spring…

… we urgently need to learn how to be good ancestors.

Speaking of ancestors, on Sunday we visited a lovely place our ancestors left us. It’s a country estate that for centuries belonged to a wealthy family and is now owned by a nature conservation organization.

The 17th century house with stepped gable, surrounded by a moat with a bridge leading to the front door, is no longer there. The only buildings left are five tenant farms. These are the stables of one of them, now converted to living space.

The estate is part woodland,

part pasture (the cows are still inside at this time of year.)

Like many other farms in our region, the farms on the estate all have their own little baking house. Can you see the small white rectangle on the wall of this baking house?

Let’s zoom in – it’s a face! A person with a high forehead, no nose to speak of, and an elegant hairdo. Is it just a decoration, a household deity, or the likeness of somebody who used to do their baking here?

Going for a walk here, is like traveling a century or so back in time.

Apart from going for short walks, enjoying the garden, worrying about the climate and the pandemic, and generally doing what I need to do, I’ve also done some knitting. My blue Panel Debate cardigan is nearly finished and I’m knitting swatches and prototypes for a pair of fingerless mitts.

The yarn I originally had in mind for them didn’t behave as I thought it would. Looking for an alternative, I found several skeins in my stash that were meant for something else, but will be just perfect for my mitts.

I want to make a single colour and a 2-colour version. It is hard to capture the colours exactly. There is an off-white undyed cream, a dusty blue and a warm cherry red. What shall I do? Cream and blue for the 2-colour version, and red for the single-colour one?

Or cream and red for the 2-colour version, and blue for the single-colour one?

What do you think?

I hope you’ve enjoyed the flowers and the walk, and would be grateful for some help with the colours. I’m in doubt. Is the blue-and-cream combo nice and subtle or too bland? Is the red-and-cream combo nice and cheerful or too Christmassy?

Thanks and take care! xxx

Beautiful Houses (and a Spectacular One)

Hello!

Today I’d like to take you along for a bicycle ride. The traffic signs can be slightly confusing, but don’t worry, I know the way.

My foot injury is healing really well now, and I’m able to go for short walks, but my daily exercise still mainly takes the form of cycling. I’m so glad I’ve been able to continue doing that – it keeps me fit and healthy.

The countryside around here is not as flat as most parts of the Netherlands.

It is slightly undulating and riding an ordinary (not electrically assisted) bicycle like mine, is a good workout.

While I’m cycling, I love looking at beautiful houses, like this one basking like a cat in the late afternoon sun.

Or this one with its cheerful shutters.

Or this one in a lovely sheltered spot.

Or this one with the day’s washing drying in the wind.

My family is always laughing at me, when I show pictures of beautiful houses like these on my blog, saying, ‘People around the world reading this will think that we lead charmed lives and all live in picturesque thatched cottages or farmhouses!’

They are right, we don’t. Our house and most others are more modern and modest, and we get our fair share of woes and worries. Only last year a crystal meth lab was discovered in a picturesque house along today’s route (not in any of the photos) and a cocaine laundry in a farm building along one of my other routes.

But I’m not fooling you. It IS true that there are a lot of these lovely houses around here. Just like it is true that we really have windmills, although most of them are no longer working.

It was late afternoon. Taking pictures along the way slowed me down, and in the end I had to hurry to reach the best house of all before the light had gone. It’s not just a beautiful house, but a downright spectacular one!

This is its front door.

And here it is in its entirety.

From a distance it looks like an age-old castle, but it was built in recent years. From reclaimed materials.

The castle has lots of whimsical details – let’s zoom in on a few of them.

Here is one richly decorated turret, with coloured bricks, tiled squares, a spider’s web stained-glass window, and a couple of golden ‘girls’.

A fierce looking bird on another one.

While I was looking at the castle, I was wondering what the things sticking up in the air on the battlements of the north tower were. Zooming in on the photographs at home made me laugh out loud – they were the legs of upside-down mannequins.

I wasn’t exaggerating when I said it was spectacular, was I? The owner/builder must be a person with shedloads of focus. And a great sense of humour!

On the way back, I saw the first newborn lamb of the year. I don’t know what breed it is.

The light was fading quickly.

It was good to come back to our own unspectacular but beautiful-to-me house.

In addition to working on, ahem, ‘several’ other knitting projects, I’m knitting rows of beautiful blue-green houses for another Thús 2. More about that when it’s finished.

Thank you for coming along!

Farmers’ Market 2020

Hello!

First of all, thank you so much for all of your kind comments about my Thús 2 scarf, here and on Ravelry. If you’re going to knit it, I hope knitting it will bring you as much pleasure as it did me.

Today, I’m taking you along for some outdoor shopping. A visit to our nearest Farmers’ Market is one of the highlights of the month for me. Normally, it is held once a month from spring through autumn, with an extra Christmas edition in December. This year, it didn’t start until the summer, and there isn’t going to be a Christmas Market, but I’m glad that we’ve been able to go a few times.

Apart from the late start, several other things were different, too. The singer with her guitar was absent, the stalls were spaced out a little more, and there were red-and-white tape and arrows for managing the ‘crowds’.

It was raining when I took this picture, and there are usually a few more people strolling around, but this market never attracts anything remotely like a crowd. Still, it’s good to be on the safe side.

Other than that, it was the same enjoyable place, with the same friendly people and the same attractive wares.

One of the things we always buy here is cheese. The ones below are made from cow’s milk with chives (left) and fenugreek (right).

Our favourites are Doetie’s goat’s cheeses. She makes different varieties – harder ones that have been left to mature for a while…

… and soft, fresh ones that cannot be kept long (they never are in our house anyway). The heart-shaped ones below on the left are like a mild brie and the grey ones on the right have a layer of ashes on the outside and are sharper.

There was also a new stall this year, selling sheep’s cheese, skins and other sheep products.

From them, I bought 30 grams of unspun Frisian dairy sheep’s wool. I’ll let you know more about that when I’ve spun it.

Another fairly new face here, is soap maker Melanie’s. She didn’t actually want to show her face here (I understand – I’d feel just the same), but I’m happy with a few pictures of her soaps.

Melanie uses only natural ingredients, including flowers, plant extracts and essential oils. In addition to hand and body soaps, she also makes hair soap bars (to be used instead of shampoo).

She also sells a mixture of different ‘tastes’ and shapes in jars.

I first bought one of her handmade natural soap bars last year – cinnamon soap with poppy seeds as a scrub element. I loved it! This year I went back for more, not just to wash with, but also as accessories for photographs of my next knitting design. I’ll tell you more about that next week or the week after.

Our next stop is the tea stall. Liesbet blends all her teas and tisanes herself, using organic ingredients. Her blends have fun names like ‘feet-up-on-the-sofa-tea’, ‘shivery-weather-tea’ and ‘everything’s-gonna-be-fine-tea’.

What makes this market so special to me is its small scale, the relaxed atmosphere, and especially the people, like goat farmer Doetie, tea blender Liesbet, and soap maker Melanie. Their products are totally different, but all made with much love, expertise and their own two hands. (None of them have webshops, or I would link to them here.)

And here is another pair of hands – that of the flower lady (I don’t know her name).

A wreath similar to the one she is working on still graces our dining table.

Well, the clock on the church tower tells us it’s time to head home for some lunch. Have a lovely weekend and I hope to see you here again next week!

A Recipe and a Ramble

Hello!

Several of you have asked me for the recipe of the apple-and-blueberry pie I baked at the start of our autumn break. Your wish is my command (sometimes), so here it is. (For those of you not interested in recipes, just scroll on for a ramble and a tiny bit of knitting.)

Apple-and-Blueberry Pie

For a 24 cm/9½” ø spring form cake tin
Makes 8-12 slices

Ingredients

  • 200 g unsalted butter
  • 200 g sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 200 g wholewheat pastry flour
  • 12 g baking powder*
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2-3 apples (depending on size)
  • 150 g blueberries**
  • 1 level tsp cinnamon

* I like making my own half-and-half mixture. Instead of the two types of flour and baking powder you can use 400 g of ordinary or wholewheat self-raising flour. (Voor mijn Nederlandse lezers: ik gebruik een mengsel van gewone bloem, gebuild tarwemeel en wijnsteenbakpoeder i.p.v. zelfrijzend bakmeel)
** When using frozen blueberries, the pie may take a little longer to bake

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200 ˚C/400 ˚F (180 ˚C/350 ˚F fan oven) and grease the cake tin
  • Cream the butter with 175 g of sugar
  • Mix in the egg and the vanilla extract
  • In a separate bowl mix the flours, salt and baking powder. Sieve these dry ingredients and gradually mix them into the butter, sugar and egg mixture to a slightly crumbly dough
  • Peel, core and slice the apples. Mix the apple slices with the blueberries, cinnamon and remaining sugar
  • Cover the base of the tin with two-thirds of the dough, pressing it in evenly
  • Pour in the apples and blueberries
  • Cover with the rest of the dough, crumbled coarsely
  • Bake the pie for about 40 minutes
  • Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin

Enjoy!

Now, let’s go for a ramble. It’s early Sunday morning in one of our favourite places. There has been a slight ground frost and the light is hazy.

This is a small-scale landscape with a meandering brook, some open marsh and farmland, and some woodland.

When it is getting a little lighter, the sun slants across a hillock, showing a strange sort of white veil on the top. What is it?

Zooming in it becomes clear that the grass and fallen oak leaves are covered in spiders’ webs.

A slightly eerie but beautiful blanket of spiders’ webs.

There is some heather as well, although it is partly overgrown with purple moor grass. A small group of sheep is grazing quietly. Not a sound to be heard. The highland cattle that also help keep the heathland open are nowhere to be seen today.

It is getting lighter, but the sun is still low, casting elongated shadows.

Towards the end of our ramble, the sun is fully out, giving the hay and wood in a barn a golden glow.

Time seems to stand still here.

Not so at home. On the knitting front, I’m in the finishing stage of all kinds of things. I’ve just finished another pair of socks. Now there’s only the ends to weave in and then I can try out my new sock blockers.

And what’s that hanging over the back of my knitting chair…………?

Take care and see you again soon!

Autumn Break

Hello!

This week, we’re having an autumn break and I’m greeting you from our holiday cottage. Well, it’s our own home, actually. But we’re acting as if, saying things to each other like, ‘It’s a lovely holiday cottage, isn’t it?’ ‘Yes, it is. Not as tidy as I would have liked it, but it’s reasonably clean and the bed is very comfortable.’

Other holidays usually involve a Konditorei or a Patisserie, but as we’re staying home and don’t have any of those around, I also play acted at being a pâtissier and baked an apple and blueberry crumble pie on our first day off.

I’m sending you a virtual slice. Can you smell that sweet, warm, comforting apple and cinnamon aroma?

We’ve been working all through the summer, and the main aim of this week is to rest, relax and recharge. For us, some of the best ways of doing that (apart from eating apple pie) are going for walks, reading,

knitting (that’s just me),

and generally loafing around. My knitting is all purple this week – my umpteenth pair of socks and a scarf. More about those soon. Now I really want to share some of our walks with you. They are in some of my favourite places. But I don’t want to spend too much time at the computer, so I’ll mainly let the pictures speak for themselves.

Our first walk takes us to Vollenhove, the lovely little town where I sometimes come to buy a pair of good, old-fashioned, sensible shoes. Vollenhove is a former seaside town now surrounded by land. There is still a small harbour for pleasure boats.

It has a rich history, with some old houses beautifully maintained…

… and others a little less well kept.

Vollenhove also has a really, really beautiful walled garden. Maybe we can come back and visit that in spring or summer next year.

Our second walk is a walk down memory lane, outside the dyke on the Frisian coast.

It’s cold, wet and windy and I’m so glad I’m wearing my warm winter coat.

There is nobody around but us…

… and birds, many, many birds.

Ahhh, all that space, fresh air, invigorating wind. We’re outside the dyke here, a part of the country that gets flooded from time to time.

Looking back, you can see a church spire behind the dyke. That’s the village were we lived for 15 years when we were just married and where our daughter was born.

Somebody has painted words on the dyke.

In Frisian:

It lân fan moarn
Freget
De moed van hjoed

Translated:

Tomorrow’s country
Needs
Today’s courage

Hmmm, something to ponder.

Now, on to our last walk. This is just outside the village with the Tiny yarn shop I wrote about a while ago. There is some news about that and I’ll come back to that soon. For now, here is an impression of the area.

Don’t you just love that golden autumn light?

Well, that’s all for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual autumn break. I’m going back to my knitting now and hope to see you here again next week for a yarn-filled post. Bye!