Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for February, 2014

New Designs on the Site; Workshop Up-Date

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

I have added two new patterns to buy.

There is Cave Pearls Throw and Mitts in Cocoon (and no, there is no end to the Cave Pearls collection, we now have seven options and I’m not planning on stopping).  If you are attending my Cave Pearls workshop, do not buy this as it is included as a free pattern to all those who come along.

The throw is simply lovely to fold around yourself.  And the mitts – long in the arm and knitted in the round – take very little time or yarn.

Seven balls (or more) for the throw and one for the mitts.  You can view them here.

And then there is ‘Shatter’, a half-moon shawl, which you can see here.

The download includes three options for your knitting joy, including Kidsilk Haze, colourwashing, luxury DK  – and border/cast-off choices too.

Now, workshop up-date:  I have four courses on the site at the moment, all of which you can see here.  There are spaces on only one of these – the Half-Moon course on 14 June still has three places.  The others are all fully booked, but I do get cancellations, so if you wanted any of the others, do let me know and I contact you if a place comes up.

I am planning to add several more dates and new subjects very soon.  These will include a Moebius Introduction Day which will run on a Saturday, followed the next day, by a Moving On With Moebius Day which will run on the following day, Sunday.  So you could come to one, or both.  You do not have to do the whole weekend, but you could if you wanted.

Then there will be a Halloween inspired workshop, which with my usual insightful and clever flair, I am planning for October.

And in November, there will be a Christmas Workshop.

Dates and all details will be added very soon.  If you want a ‘heads up’ as I pop them on, contact me and I will email alert you.

I am absolutely loving the workshops here.  Thank you so much for coming to them.

They often sell out, and sometimes I wish I had more space and could take more people, but actually, I was thinking yesterday as we taught a perfect group of  incredibly talented half-moon knitters, that these numbers work really well as tutors – and I hope they work well for the class members.  I have taught classes of almost 30, albeit with an assistant, and we did have two days.  These were very rewarding, if for me, very stressful, but I really do love the small classes I usually teach here and out and about.

 

The Cave Formerly Known As Contour

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Sludge ACS exiting tight mud crawlSludge acs on ladder at entrance pitch…but now this cave is called Sludge Pit Hole.  Seriously?  Sludge Pit Hole?  This is a cave that is not getting a knitting design named after it.  I can’t imagine presenting you with the Sludge Pit Mitts.

OK, it’s muddy.  (All caves are either in spate at the moment or muddy – or both).  But Sludge is such an ugly name.  And whilst this cave is not actually pretty, it’s nice.  It’s good fun.  It’s not sludgy.  Not compared to caving in Devon.

It’s a short walk to the cave from our club, so we set off in the teeth of yet another Mendip howler.  It was so cold and wet that it was a real relief to get inside the cave which is, as usual, in a hollow in the ground, with a nice little path leading to some steps, and the locked, gated entrance.  A slither down for a few meters, leads to a deep ledge and at the end of this, a 25 foot drop to the cave proper.  This we rigged with a wire ladder and climbed down.  I don’t like wire ladders, but this trip was good practice for me, as it’s free-hanging and I need to control both my nerves and the swinging ladder if I am ever to conquer my nemesis, Swildon’s Hole and the hated 20 foot waterfall climb.

Here we are, climbing back up, later:

Alison Crowther-Smith's photo.

This is me, and here are Florence and Will:

Alison Crowther-Smith's photo.

Sludge acs on ladder at entrance pitchAlison Crowther-Smith's photo.

The trip was easy enough after that.  I’d never been to Sludge but the others had, and even though it’s not a huge cave, there are a few maze-like bits, so we took a survey (map, kind of) and this helped me a lot to make sense of what we were doing in terms of route-finding.  Here’s a bad picture of the ‘map’ as I call it:

Sludge survey

I also call the helmets you have to wear ‘hats’.  And I call the wriggly, curly formations you sometimes see in lovely caves such as Shatter, Nic-Nacs.  Do you remember Nic-Nacs?  I used to love them.

You potter along the main way, very obvious and also ahead of you in the ladder chamber.  There is an entrance here also to a passage called Aragonite Rift, described as not obvious and to the right.  We found a not obvious hole, but it was if anything to the left, so we ignored it.  As it turns out this was Aragonite Rift, but we ended up coming back out that way, by way of a couple of fairly tight upwards squeezes – more pinch-point than squeeze to be fair – and this is the more awkward way, so we felt quite chuffed.

None of the cave is that big, and parts of it, such as the Skeleton Series, are tight.  There are some fairly roomy chambers though, plus a streamway that I suspect is usually quite quiet, because even after all this rain, it was really quite gentle and small.  We went down the streamway almost to the sump.  There’s an active dig here.

There is a rift called Four Pots Rift that we looked at and almost did – but the first bit looks awkward, so we decided to come back with someone who has done it.  Then there was a fun, narrow flat-out wriggle and back – here we are – poor picture quality is due to fogging of condensation:

Alison Crowther-Smith's photo.

And here is Florence, same exit:

Alison Crowther-Smith's photo.

On the way back up the streamway, we were looking out for the way up into Aragonite Rift, which has deposits of, um, Aragonite.  Aragonite is a crystal formation, and it differs from calcite in that because (I assume) of its composite makeup, its crystals are sort of long, square and pointy.  In  Sludge, they are not that pronounced, but they are there, and they have a sort of art-deco, 1920s New York sky-scraper style about them.  I’m pretty sure that’s how they are described in Mendip Underground.

So although, despite having a survey, we were not 100% sure we were in Aragonite Rift at the start (which involved a neat, tightish thrutch upwards from the main passage and a sharp right turn), once we saw the deposits of Aragonite and also, many deposits of particles and sections of sea shells, we knew it was the right place.  Very cool:  route-finding by means of minerals.

Aragonite Rift was excellent, easy and yet still interesting.  There’s another quite snug-not-tight thrutch up near the end, then a choice:  left, to Back Passage (I know, sorry), or right, where, with a wriggle and a twist, you see the ladder you left rigged at the entrance chamber and you slither out.

My only problem was that for the last hour of the trip, which was 2.5 hrs, due to taking pictures which just takes forever to sort the light, I was dying for a wee.  You really cannot wee in caves.  I mean, it must happen and I guess it’s not such a big deal if there’s a raging torrent of streamway, but Sludge is quiet and fairly dry.  So that’s a no-no.

It started – the idea that I needed to ‘go’ – as a whispered suggestion, a memo from bladder to brain, about 30 minutes in, and then slowly developed into an urgent need to keep moving and not listen to the tinkling of the streamway.  I was faster up the ladder than usual (bonus), and once I was safe by the entrance scramble, I started de-kitting (the kit is EPIC.  It makes knitters’ kit bags look empty) because I knew I had to go behind a hedge the moment I bounded out of the ground.  And I can tell you that, despite the howling gale and being very cold, it was the best wee I have ever had.

 

More Half-Moons Seen Over Somerset (AKA: I am repeating the sold-out Half-Moon Shawl event)

Monday, February 17th, 2014

I’m still mooning about with shawls – crescents and full moons will be next, but for now, I am repeating the Half-Moon Day on 14 June.

Half Moon symetric draped

This is also running (and is sold out) in February and September, so if you’d like to come and knit a half-moon, please book here.

Of the two design choices, one is easy, one is easy to intermediate.  The designs are straightforward and offer the knitter scope to add features, change yarns, use more beads, use no beads *shrugs shoulders, spreads hands, casts eyes heavenwards*.  Anyway, it’s a satisfying knit and a lovely thing to make, to keep or give as a special gift.

There are, as I write this post, three spaces available.

Knit With Me @ Hulu Crafts in Devon on 1 March

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

On the 1st of March I am teaching how to knit my Double Pots Mittens in the round, at the lovely yarn-and-fabric emporium that is Hulu Crafts in Modbury, Devon.

Here they are, looking very fetching in a grey ensemble:

Double Pots Mitts 2

I happen to know that there are still 2 or 3 places available, so why not come along?

These mittens are a really easy way to learn to knit in the round on 4 double pointed needles, with all the tuition you need from me.  And if you can already knit in the round, come anyway, because these mitts are simple – but very pretty and pleasing.  Also, they only take one ball of 4 ply wool-based yarn and oddments of Kidsilk Haze for a pair.  Bonus!

Double Pots Mitts 1

 

You can book your place with Hulu here.  I rate these as easy for a fairly competent but basic knitter, so if knitting in the round has perhaps somehow eluded you up to now, I am here to tell you that you need this skill and these mitts are a great way to get it.

The course includes all tuition, a copy of my original design, materials for the practice mitt we will make in the morning, lunch and refreshments.

I do hope you can come along.

The Great Banana Riot; Ballet; Flooding

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

First up, bananas.

If you are ‘friends’ with me on Facebook, you will know that a storm of controversy broke out last weekend when I posted about bananas.

Basically, this is what happened.  Mark kindly offered to make me a cup of tea.  I said please could I also have a banana.  He brought me the tea and along with it, the banana, which he had started to peel.  From the wrong end.   Mark is one of the many people who peel bananas from the handle or stalk end.  This is the wrong end.  Whereas they ought to be peeled from the blunt, seed-concealing end.  Obvs.

Anyway, I was aghast.  We’ve been married for over 25 years and together for 28 years.  Suddenly out of the blue, something like this happens and it’s like, oh, I don’t know, it’s like you don’t even know the person anymore.  And you wonder, frankly, if you ever did…

wrong end banana

 

As you can plainly see, Mark started peeling it from the stalk end.  Wrong.

So, I slowly ate the banana. It tasted OK, but somehow – different.

The reasons you should peel your banana from the stalk end are:

  • the stalk acts as a banana-handle
  • the seed (the black lumpy thing at the blunt end) is gross and by starting there, with a sharp thumb-nail incision at the top, you can decapitate the seed-bearing section from the get-go.  This is also the way monkeys tackle it, though they bite it off and spit it out (because, like I said, it’s gross) and that, my friends, is how you get new banana trees.

So, anyway, a riot of protest versus agreement (largely the former) broke out.  I say riot.  It was a riot if a riot is about 20 comments.  But I am proud to be able to report that five ‘friends’ who saw that post and who are, or were, in the ‘wrong end of the banana’ camp, have had the courage to try it my way.  This control group has sub-divided thus:  two are converted, two are all meh, whatever and one is not converted but hats off to her, at least she gave it a go.

Here are the comments I have had via text, email & Facebook (I am seriously not making any of this up):

1)  I’ve just had a banana

For the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I’ve just peeled it from the bottom up (ie the wrong way round)
I didn’t even think it would be possible

But it is

And you’re so right – it tastes different

But hey … I tried it

When someone says you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone, I now know what they’re talking about

I’m off for a lie down now

2)  omg this is soooo science!

you should be nominated for the fyffes award to humanity or something

 your study has got it all …

you’ve got a benchmark

you’ve done the research

you’ve collated the results

you’ve compared it to other species (i particularly liked the references to “only monkeys eat a banana your way”) so basically this is now crossing over into anthropology

 you my friend are breaking down the barriers …

I might even tweet fyffes and let them know of all your good work

they’re sure to find your study very appeeling ….

3)   Ok. I’m a convert to peeling from the ‘wrong’ end. It is actually a good idea!

4)  OMG, you are a genius! eating my banana the C-S way!

5)  Only monkeys peel the banana from the black knobbly end.  And you, obvs.

6) Never have I started a banana at the bottom, the top is made that way for leverage to peel. I have a feeling you are alone on this one.

7) Well, I tied it and I am not convinced.

8) It’s fresh!  It’s different!  I LOVE it, thank you Ali XXX

(I only made one of these up.  it’s number 8.  The rest are all genuine.  I am so proud).

The questions now are:  will you give it a go?  And, do you think there is any chance Fyffe’s might sponsor a wider study?  I have deliberately not consulted the great god, Google because if someone is really conducting a study already, I don’t want to know.

Next, the ballet.  I went to see Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in Birmingham this week.  I love MB as you might know, and I have now seen four of his ballets live and others on DVD.  I thought nothing could be better than his Cinderella – but Swan Lake was even better.  You probably know the premise of his version of Swan Lake is that the swans are all male, so the love story is between a Prince and a male swan.  It was so beautiful.  There *may* have been tears.

It’s touring now.  If you get a chance, please go.

Finally, flooding.  We are not flooded in Puriton, but a lot of Somerset and Devon is, and now this misery is spreading, sadly, to areas such as the Thames Valley, Gloucestershire and so on.  Over 65 square kilometers of Somerset is flooded.  It is not new.  It’s worse now, but this started in December.  Now it’s in the news – but it’s February now!

Some of this water is over 2 meters deep.  Having lived here for 23 years and spending a lot of time walking and cycling in the levels and the hills of Somerset, I have noticed, as have so many others, that our environment is changing. Yes, the weather is wetter, windier and milder.  The differences between the seasons are less sharply focused.  But that aside, the behaviour of the people controlling the managed environment has changed too.  Somerset may once have been marsh land, often flooded, but for centuries now, man has managed this environment for the benefit of us all.  The drains and rhynes (pronounced reens) are man-made.  One of the biggest, is called the Kings Sedgemoor Drain.  It looks like a river but it’s not.

Basically, over the last few years, the powers that be have stopped dredging adequately – or at all. I do think that climate change is deeply in this mix too, it’s not fair to lay the ‘blame’ in any one place or with any one person or organisation – but this is worth a read, if you’re interested in what many of us, here in the midst of the mayhem think has made a bad situation much worse.

Half-Moon in February

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

The February Half-Moon Shawl course is now full, hurrah!

I am running it again in September and that is also full.  But if you think you might like to make one of these:

Half Moon symetric draped

 

Or these:

Baby half moon wrapped

 

then please email me as I would be happy to run it again in the summer or the autumn.

~~

On the subject of courses, I am going to start a loyalty scheme for my Court Cottage events.  I will post the full details next month along with dates for the rest of my workshops here for 2014 and into early 2015.  I know!  I am basically a planning machine! (I’m not, but if I get my A into G now, it all feels much nicer when the time to teach comes around).

I plan to offer a reward of c£20 worth of yarn* (from my fairly substantial teaching stock of yarns) for anyone who books 3 or more places for themselves in 2014 and up to February 2015.  Once you’ve booked your places, you don’t need to do anything else.  I will keep a record and you can take your yarns whenever you like.

This will be back-dated to include any courses already booked/attended here in 2014 – so some of you have already qualified!

*if the yarn comes to under £20, beads can be taken to make up the difference.

Places Available on 22 February for Half-Moon Shawl Course

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Maybe it’s the bad weather, but I have had two cancellations for my course on 22 February and another person has warned me that they may also be unable to come.  Fear not, the course is still running, but it’d be lovely to fill one or two of the places.  View or book here.

If you fancy an antidote to the wet and miserable weather and you are free on 22 February, this is what we will be making: Half-Moon colour wash rumpled

 

Well, it’s one of the options.  There are two basic designs for choose from, one of which, like the one above, can be knitted as a colourwash piece; or you can knit it in one shade of Kidsilk Haze only.  This design, like all half moons, has ‘segments’, but in this shawl the segments form a curving, slightly swirling shape:

Half-Moon colour wash spread out 1

 

The other option available to knit on the day is another half moon shape, but with the segments spaced in perfect triangle shapes – i.e., no swirl:

Half Moon symetric draped

 

It has sub-divisions, adding extra beading at about the half-way stage:

Half Moon symetric spread

And a little frothy finish:

Half Moon symetric close up

 

The swirling shawl, despite perhaps looking more complex, is the easier knit though both are simple enough.  The swirly one does not use stitch markers – I designed it specifically for people who just don’t get along with using stitch markers.  The symmetrical one, however, does use 8 or 16 depending on how ‘beady’ you want to make it.  I used 16.

Both designs can also be knitted in a DK yarn, for a baby shawl or just because they look great in Pure Wool DK or Baby Merino Silk DK:

Baby half moon wrapped

If you come to the course, your yarn and beads are included.  As it some of this:

Vic sponge (2)

 

It would be lovely to see you here.  Here is the link to the course.

Bump

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Here’s a finished Bump Bag:

sue's bump

I love the strong, zingy colours.  This Bump was knitted by Sue.  I also have a pic of another colourway that a customer made which I will dig out and add next.

If you fancy making Bump, you can buy the design here;  and the handles (not the ones originally used) here.

Teaching Dates 2014

Friday, February 7th, 2014

I’m going to be out and about quite a bit this year.  Here are some of my non-Court Cottage teaching dates for independent yarn shops and other centres, so far for 2014, up to and including August:

  • 20 February, ‘Half Moon Shawl’, Spin-a-Yarn, Devon
  • 1 March, ‘Double Pots Mittens’, Hulu Crafts, Devon
  • 6 March, fashion show with Martin Storey, Bovey Tracey, Devon, details from Spin-a-Yarn
  • 3 April, ‘Circular Shawl’, Spin-a-Yarn, Devon
  • 12 April, ‘Magical Moebius’, Coastal Yarns, Cornwall
  • 17 May, ‘Shibori Knitted Felt, feat. The Bump Bag’, Fyberknitics, Swansea
  • 22 May, ‘Moebius:  Moving On’, Spin-a-Yarn, Devon
  • 7 June, ‘Magical Moebius’, The Cotswold Craft Room, Gloucestershire
  • 8 June, ‘Cave Pearls’, The Cotswold Craft Room, Gloucestershire
  • 9 August, ‘Shibori Knitted Felt, feat. The Bump Bag’, Abbotskerwell, Devon (contact details to follow)
  • 10 August, ‘Mittens in the Round’, Abbotskerwell, Devon (contact details to follow)

Plus, of course, my workshops here at Court Cottage.  I will be adding more Court Cottage dates for later in 2014 soon.  I will also be able to take some bookings for teaching elsewhere in September – November 2014, if you are a retailer or a craft provider and you fancy booking me.  You can do that, here.

 

 

Win a Workshop Place With Me: The Knitter Magazine

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

If you get The Knitter magazine, you can enter their competition to win a place at one of my workshops.  The competition details can be viewed here.  And on page 26 of The Knitter, issue 68.

The Knitter 68

The workshop place  is for my Cave Pearls day, on Saturday 3 May.

I especially love that I am described as ‘the queen of luxury knitwear’.  I think TK might have reviewed that accolade had they seen me last night, covered in mud, caving in Devon…even I was startled when I looked in the mirror.

Anyway, whoever you turn out to be, I am holding a place for you and I can’t wait to meet you!

Ralph

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Ralph was the first Dachshund I ever encountered.  I fostered him on and off for some years.  Last week, aged fifteen and a half, Ralph died.

Ralph on the beach

If it hadn’t been for Ralph, I would not have ever thought of getting my own boys, Rupert and Arthur.  I have always loved dogs, especially small and medium sized dogs, but maybe I would never have got a dog at all.

I met Ralph through a mutual friend of Ralph’s own mum (I know it’s actually ‘owner’ but you don’t own a Dachshund!).  I went to this friend’s house one day and there was Ralph.  Feisty, smart, border-line belligerent – and so short.  He looked me up and down.  I looked him, um, down.  He went back in the house and fetched a ball.  This was for me to play with him.  I was fascinated by this funny little dog, but you know, I threw the ball a few times, it was time to go, we left.

About a month later, the mutual friend rang me.  She and her family were moving to America.  In the meantime, she was wondering if I might be a suitable alternative foster-carer for Ralph, one or two days most weeks, sometimes weekends.  How did I feel about it?  I wasn’t sure, if I’m honest.  On paper, it seemed OK as I worked largely from home.  We did a trial run and Ralph came for a play-visit.

Once Lena had left us alone, Ralph gave me the appraising look that I was to come to know so well, before fetching his new toy:  a GIANT tennis ball.  For an hour, we played giant tennis ball games.  It was so much fun!  Then, we sat on the sofa and Ralph permitted me to cuddle him while he had a well-earned snooze.

Soon afterwards, Lena moved away and I met Ralph’s mum.  The informal fostering began.

Ralph spent many days and nights here.  In the autumn, he chased apples on the lawn, in winter he ran on the beach, chasing old tennis balls, before having a swim in the deep pools that form round the pier and posts all along Burnham and Berrow beaches.  In summer, he lay in the sun while I gardened and he dug up all the plants round my pond, hunted frogs and once or twice ‘fell’ in.  He loved  water.

He slept by the bed, in his own pillow and sleeping bag bed combo.  He was my shadow.  I loved him more than I could have imagined.

Once, his mum went to New Zealand and I think we had him for about 3 weeks.  I knew he wasn’t mine.  He loved his mum more than anyone.  But, like most Dachshunds – maybe like most dogs – he fixed his love on one person at a time.  When he was in my house, I was his.  If I was out, Lily or Florence were his.  If there was only Mark – well, he made do.

Recently, his mum moved away to Dorset.  Ralph, getting old now, didn’t really need the kind of foster care he once did and anyway, it was too far for me to be the carer.  Before they moved, Ralph was ill.  He started having fits and shakes, after which he’d seem confused or even frightened.  I did a death-bed dash.  He made a fantastic recovery.  That time.

Last week, and Ralph was now a very mature sausage indeed, his mum told me he was poorly – a gastro infection, he needed to be at the vet’s for re-hydration and a some R&R.  Next day, he came home, but she knew he wasn’t ‘right’.  I went to see him.  Right on the spur of the moment, I drove to Dorset.  Why did I do that?  Did I think he was going to die?  Well, at 15.5, and with some long-standing health issues, yes, I suppose I knew that he was probably going to die quite soon – maybe in a year or so.  So, why not wait until Saturday?  I just don’t know.  Also, his mum needed to go to do just a few hours work that afternoon, the day I went.  I couldn’t bear that he’d be alone, even for a short while, when he was so poorly.

Ralph was white the last few times I saw him, so that wasn’t a surprise.  Rupert now looks a lot like Ralph did when I first met him – pepper and salt style black and tan.  So I know that Rupert will go snow-white, like Ralph, where Ralph once was tan.  But Ralph had gone very deaf in the last couple of years.  And his sight was clouded with cateracts.  And he was really ill.  But – he still knew me.  He greeted me and accepted me back, without a word of reproach.

His mum went out after about half an hour, leaving me and Ralph alone.  I didn’t know that he would die that evening, so it wasn’t that which made the few hours I was there so special.  He was in some discomfort in spite of the heavy meds he was on, but we settled down on the sofa, and with his nose buried deep in the crook of my arm (Dachshunds like their noses to be covered and warm), and both wrapped in a daffodil yellow airy blanket, he slept.  If he stirred, I held him a little bit closer and he looked at me, smelled my hand, accepted a tiny bite of sausage as a snack, and with a sigh that all Dachshunds do to perfection, he snoozed on.

I had my knitting with me, of course. I am not good as sitting still, doing nothing.  But the time just stopped.  I didn’t move, he slumbered, a bit fitfully but slowly, he seemed to settle more, to fidget less.

I didn’t stay long after mum got back.  We talked about how he seemed.  He was due back at the vets that evening because his discomfort needed addressing.  We were both genuinely confident that once this was addressed, he’d be fine.

He wasn’t fine.  He had to go back yet again late that night and at about midnight, he was put to sleep.  It was a brave, kind, and amazing thing for his mum to do.

I, in the meantime, came home, smiling about yet another death-bed dash to see the Duracell Dachshund.  Next day, I was teaching how to make a Moebius Cowl in Devon.  The ‘phone ringing at 7.00am made me anxious though, as did Mark’s voice when he spoke to Ralph’s mum.  After I had spoken to his mum, I had to go and  teach.  Well, that was OK, it was busy, it was a lovely class in fact.  It was just the drive there and back that was not so good.

Ralph has left a huge gulf in the life of his mum.  She was an amazing companion for Ralph and he was to her.  He had a job, you know.  He worked with her, helping vulnerable clients, often children, to talk, to communicate, to trust – even to love.

I loved Ralph so much – and he wasn’t even mine!  But when he was here, he was mine.  Because he needed to know that he had a home-from-home, where he was as unconditionally loved as in his own, real home.  When I got Rupert, and then Arthur, Ralph was amazing with them.  As puppies, they had the capacity to annoy a mature dog, but Ralph, kind and wise, just accepted them and got on with the business of training them to bark at everything that moved in the village and beyond.  After Ralph stopped coming here so much, we had to stop saying his name, because whenever we did, Rupert would run to the door and scan the drive.  It was too cruel to let him hope.  He loved Ralph as much as I did.

On Saturday, I am going back to Dorset, to be with his mum and her family.  We are going to scatter his ashes on the beach.  Recently, we cleared out our garage and Florence found a manky old green rubber ball, pitted with sand and tooth-marks.  I must have saved it from years ago.  It was a ball Ralph found on the beach at Berrow many years before, and we always took it to the seaside when he came to stay.  Over the years we must have found, and lost, dozens of balls but this one was special.  He loved it more than all the others so I always made sure it was never left behind.

I am going to take it, and throw it for him, one last time.Ralph in the sea