Saturday, 23 August 2014

No Place Like Dome

orig We had a brilliant trip out to Langham Dome this week. In my childhood, it was this odd concrete building on the edge of a field north of Fakenham.

My Dad said it was “something to do with the War” but he wasn’t really sure. Now, thanks to determined efforts by local people, it has been refurbished and opened to the public.IMG_2891

Here is the dome now – painted and surrounded by picnic benches and information panels – and a car park

IMG_2881There is a memorial to all those who served at the airfield, and also a fascinating set of information panels about the messenger pigeons, and those awarded the PDSA Dickin medal. It is easy to forget that animals helped in the war effort! But the main point of the dome was that it was there to train RAF personnel to shoot down enemy aircraft

IMG_2883IMG_2882 IMG_2884   diagram of projector  The dome trainer was originally conceived when Henry Christian Stevens, watched a Pathe newsreel in the late 1930s and saw Stuka planes dive bombing civilians during the Spanish civil war. He developed a projection system - the dome trainer – which provided a safe and realistic space for Anti-Aircraft gunners to hone their craft.It projected a film onto the curved surface of the domes walls with a mocked up gunnery emplacement in the centre of the room. Stevens created the first example of what we now know as Virtual Reality technology! Now you can visit the Dome and as you sit at the picnic benches outside, there are opportunities to learn more, play games, and design your own equipment all printed on the tables! This was clearly set up with an eye to school visits. I was extremely impressed by the information outside- and would happily take a school party to see the place.

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Once inside, we could see the strange quilted paper that insulated the cold concrete structure, and all round the walls were more informative displays.





Videos explaining how the ‘dome trainer’ had been used in WW2 were projected on the wall [narrated by local Norfolk celeb, Stephen Fry, of course] Then there was an opportunity to try out the system and shoot down an enemy plane yourself


Bob certainly enjoyed that – there were sound effects too! Langham Dome is well worth a visit, but if you plan to go, do check out the website first – they are not open every day [and closed Saturdays] Around 43 of these domes were built in the British Isles during WW2 – but most have been demolished now – only 5 left. There’s  one near Mags, in Limavady at Aghanloo [You couldn’t make these names up!!]

Friday, 22 August 2014

A Stitch In Time

I treated myself to two new books this holiday – from Charity Shops, naturally – and pleased with the £3 I spent. Both are books about the history of needlework. The first is a 1970’s retro classic

needleworker's dictionary

Pamela Clabburn was “Keeper of Social History” at Norwich Museum until the mid 70s – and this book is a real treasury of information for anybody interested in needlework, with 2000 alphabetically arranged entries, covering the most important stitches, history of needlework and textiles worldwide, materials, techniques and tools, people who have influenced the genre, and lists some of the places and museums where collections can be seen. I have already spent quite a bit of time flicking through the pages muttering random words to myself [fustian, barme-clothe, tabby-weave, thummel, bewpers…]

sew retro The second is much newer – published in 2010 – and this one is by an American author, Judith Ketteler. This book was in pristine condition – the pocket at the back holding the pattern sheets has never been unsealed! The book documents the history of the sewing revolution from 1800 until today.

Do check the book out here and here. Admittedly the book is written from a USA perspective – so the pictures and characters mentioned are mostly [but not all] from across the pond. But it is enormous fun


The projects are good fun too – I like this 1920’s Flapper Apron.

flapper apronI feel much more knowledgeable about sewing now, even after a fairly quick read of these two purchases. I mentioned on Wednesday that September is “The Month of the Guitar” – but it seems that in 1982, Ronald Reagan declared September to be “National Sewing Month” in the USA, in recognition of the importance of Home Sewing to the American people. Who knew?

I have borrowed some craftbooks from Dereham Library too – which have pattern sheets at the back. What is the etiquette about these? Having borrowed the book, I cannot actually use the pattern, because if I cut it out to my size, that means the next person [larger or smaller] may be unable to use it.

I suppose that if I really  wanted to make up a garment from the library book, I should have to either trace the pattern onto fresh paper, or go out and buy my own copy of the book!

Oh, one final thing – that teaser photo from Wednesday



It’s our new sink plunger!

It is very different from the black rubber, wooden handled one we have in Leicester – but remarkably sturdy and efficient.

I think it looks like a school bell, and I keep swinging it and saying “Playtime’s over, back to work, children!”

We bought it in Machine Mart.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

√-1 2³ Σ π


… and it was delicious!**

I saw somebody wearing a teeshirt like this at Norwich Station on Monday – I quite fancy one myself, being a maths nerd






Bob’s amazing filing cabinet smoker produced a wonderful piece of meat, which he turned into pulled pork for our Neighbourhood Barbecue at the weekend. Then he took the leftover meat


He put in some mussels [on offer in Aldi] to give added flavour, and then made some beautiful shortcrust pastry.

This is truly a pie to be proud of. It tasted fabulous!



*The square root of minus one is imaginary , represented by the letter i. Two cubed is 8. In maths, the Greek letter Sigma represents a sum. Finally, Pi. Don't make me explain pi!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Kezzie, Take Note!

On one of our trips out on the motorbike, Bob and I stopped off in the town of Aylsham for a cup of tea. We had a good wander round the town first and went into the Red Lion Music Shop – it has been open exactly one year this week.

shop front

The owner, Alison, was busy crocheting a ‘keyboard scarf’ for next week’s window display– explaining that September has been designated the month of the piano [did you know that, Kezzie? as a music teacher I expect you to be clued up on such events!] IMG_2907

The shop is full of all things musical – instruments, music, gifts and more…and lessons are offered by Alison and her husband [her lovely daughter works in the Waffle Shop across the road]


I was particularly taken with these boxes covered in music themed fabrics – beautifully made, locally – and reasonably priced too

music boxes

They have an informative website- and soon will have an online shop, so keep a lookout for this, as I suspect it will be an excellent source of Christmas gifts for music lovers [Chopin Liszts, Chopin Boards, Thankyou Notes…]

Aylsham_Town_Sign Aylsham itself is a lovely little town, where John of Gaunt was once Lord of the Manor – he features on the town sign. It was the centre of a thriving linen trade 900 years ago – and the fabric was known all over England as Aylsham Webb, or Cloth of Aylsham. But the linen business died out when the wool trade became more important in the 16th century.

All sorts of notable characters fetched up here – Daniel Defore came for a visit, and Horatio Nelson once attended a dance at the inn.

One more thing – Kezzie’s blog frequently features ‘teaser’ photographs. She posted this one a few days ago

kezzie pic

I have no idea what it is! but it has made me think of something we purchased on Monday. So here is my teaser. What is this item? [shown from four different angles]


I will reveal my answer later in the week!!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Error Of Judgement

One of the things we did early last Monday was return the books to Dereham library which we borrowed when we made a flying visit in July. And we took out a dozen or so more. It is a real mistake to grab books when you are in a hurry and rather overtired! I’ve worked through 3 of my lot and feel I did not take enough time choosing them. But here are my brief reviews anyway.

organize home

This one was indeed full of ‘step-by-step projects’ – but sadly there weren’t any which were particularly original. Many involved organising your stuff by storing it in tins or jars [which you had first decorated with bits and pieces from your stash] I priced some of them up.

If you made the storage unit on the cover, the blue Kilner jars are currently £3 in the Range, and the jubilee clips cost around £3 each. You could use other jam jars – but I reckon it would still cost a minimum of £7 – and it doesn’t seem very efficient storage to me. Bob said the items “look like the sort of thing someone might make for Christmas presents for friends, which would appear in Charity Shops in January” **

life's too shortLife’s too short – top tips and insider cheats for the modern woman. My mistake- I am just not a modern woman! Grace gave lots of tips, but for women who are years younger and much wealthier than I am. I should have checked out the chapter headings and not just the blurb on the back. Being a Beautician, Fashionista, Glam Globetrotter, Body Beautiful or Boardroom Star don’t rate high on my aspirations.

Other chapters included how to be a Michelin Starred Chef, Domestic Diva and Love Goddess – tips for these included ‘get Yolam Ottolenghi ready-meals delivered to your door’, ‘invest in a Bugatti Volvo stylish toaster and kettle’ and ‘bin the ready meals, and develop your cooking skills’ [Yes two of those do directly contradict each other!!] **


“Fans of Allison Pearson’s ‘I don’t know how she does it!’ will love this.” Said the blurb. Well I didn’t!! [and I really enjoyed IDKHSDI]

It was funny in places, as the wife struggled with a domestically incapable husband. But [and I know she had two children under the age of 5] there was altogether too much description of poo [and some rather graphic sex] for me. Another bad choice on my part.  *

I am hoping that the remainder of my selection proves to be slightly more satisfying! I freely admit that these were just the wrong choices for me. Other people might enjoy them more. Hoping to post more positive reviews later in the week. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Cheap Frills


Just in case you had thought I’d forgotten about this challenge, I have polished off three projects in one go this holiday. I wanted to see just how much mileage I could get from my Lisette Market Pattern

lisette pattern Thus far I have turned a CS pinafore dress into a cute mini skirt, my neighbour’s retro prints into a blouse and a tunic, and Kezzie’s sarong into a dress. All of these receive bags of compliments when I wear them. I even had women at the WDP conference in Salzburg taking photos and pattern details because they wanted to go home and make their own. How crazy is that?

My 52 Projects list included the following items

  • make up a tunic - this time with the frills on the sleeves
  • try out the pattern in a stretch fabric
  • re-purpose those two unused tee-shirts which have been in the wardrobe since November 2008

I combined all three projects last week when I had finished my ‘scheduled sewing tasks’. Here are the tee shirts

 IMG_2826 IMG_2827

They came from a PA event I attended in Nottingham with Bob – and were promotional gifts – both large size. I ironed them, and cut off the sleeves and cut up both sides on one, and just one side on the other. I cut the front and back all in one piece, so that I could keep the existing neckline and shoulder seams, then cut sleeves and ruffles from the second tee-shirt [positioning pattern pieces carefully to include the graphics] I was able to use the existing neckline and the existing hems on the bottom of the tee and the sleeve ruffles.

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I’m not sure. I do like the little ruffles on the sleeves, much more than I thought I would. Making up the pattern in a stretch fabric was fine. Putting the bust darts in definitely made for a better fit. I should have noticed my hair had got ruffled, and brushed it before the photoshoot, and I still need to lose a bit more weight.

Bob says he thinks the top is “very quirky”- but that I should send the pictures to Prismsound! [I suspect he is hoping they will send us some PA gear – but I imagine if I get anything tangible in response it will just be another tee-shirt!]

Anybody else got any good tee-shirt refashion ideas?

Sunday, 17 August 2014

When I Consider The Heavens…

…said the Psalmist – and he didn’t even have the benefit of these glorious wide East Anglian Skies to look up at. I have been looking heavenward a lot this week, and each time, my thoughts have turned to prayers.

Sunday night was a ‘perigee’ or super moon – so amazingly bright! [the picture below, from The Mirror, was taken in Norfolk]


But the moon has no light of its own- it merely reflects the sun.

Father, help me to reflect your glory - may my light shine in such a way that people do not see me, but see Jesus.

Then we had the Perseid Meteor shower. [This shot, from the BBC shows Cley Marshes on the North Norfolk Coast]


A meteor shower is made up of space dust shooting across the sky, burning out, and leaving its shining trail.

Father, make me always willing to go wherever you send me – and let me burn out rather than rust out!

After that, a rainbow over the village – almost a double rainbow


God gave the rainbow to Noah after the Great Flood, as a sign of His promise, and his faithfulness.

Father, help me to remember your promises, and know that you are faithful and you will provide all that I need

Then we had Tornadoes [the planes, not the weather phenomena] overhead. They were flying from RAF Marham which is close by


The planes were taking humanitarian aid to the refugees in Iraq.

Father, may I always be grateful for the many blessings you shower upon me – and ever mindful of those in need. Help me to share what I have with those who have not.

And just in case you think I am on holiday in a beautiful village where nothing is ever out of place, we have all been having trouble because of an infestation of these over the past few weeks


One of the old Jewish names for Satan is Beelzebub- the Lord of the Flies! These irritating insects remind me that we need to be constantly on our guard against him.

Father, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever - Amen