Thursday, December 28, 2006


Christmas got off to a fantastic start on Christmas Eve with a drain blocked with dead leaves and rancid porridge. Nice.

But once that was over with things dramatically improved. We went to Midnight Mass in the village church, which was wonderful. It's the first year I've spent Christmas at my own place, instead of returning to Lincoln, and so the first time I've been able to enjoy celebrating Christmas at the church I go to most of the time! The church was stuffed full, it's normally fairly full on a Sunday, but Midnight was people crammed into every possible corner. Bizarrely the congregation was full of people in their 20s and 30s, wonder where they get to the rest of the year?!

As it was just me and Mum for Christmas we went totally veggie (hah!) and had the normal Christmassy vegetables for lunch, along with cheese and parsnip roulade from Delia's Christmas. Nice recipe, if a little fiddly to make. I wasn't so keen on it by the time I'd had my fourth meal of it on Thursday!

On Boxing Day we went for a walk round the lake.

And found a duck feeding place with lots of quackers around.

Presents (yarny related):
Well, Dylan (6 month old nephew sprog) gave me a ball of yarn. Gedifra Filorosa, which is totally insane yarn. It has sections of completely different yarns all wound into one ball.

Mary Anne sent me a pattern book (Sirdar Furry Friends), Not Just for Vegetarians and a new little friend for Monkey. The recipe book is fab, and I bought some measuring cups when I went into Newark yesterday so I can start making things!

And these were from a Secret Santa exchange I took part in. The yarn is 4ply botany wool from 21st Century Yarns in colourway Amethyst. It's gorgeously soft and squishy. The photo seems to have come out more blue than purple, but I assure you it really is purple!

and a ball of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, which I think I'll use to make Fetching, and a box of my favourite chocolates! The yarn is also purple, not that you can tell in the light in this photo!

So, a good Christmas! Thank you for the prezzies people!

Meanwhile, I've been thinking about things I want to do next year. One is to walk the length of Hadrian's Wall (Carrie Anne gave me this link to a really helpful website). I also discovered that Northern Cross have a pilgrimage to Lindisfarne at Easter, which starts out in Carlisle and walks along the wall. But somehow I doubt I'm fit enough to walk 118 miles at the moment. 60 would be more doable... Ah, back in my younger days I used to be able to trot off and walk 50-60 miles in a weekend without really thinking about it (certainly without anything resembling "training"!) but now I'm getting old (= sit on my bum driving a car all the time) it might be slightly more difficult.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Thank you Secret Pal!

This is really late, so massive apologies for Maylin, who stepped in as my "Angel" in the One Skein Secret Pal exchange after my original spoiler mysteriously vanished! Maylin has been great. Anyway, this parcel was despatched to me yonks ago, but took absolutely ages to get here (thanks, Royal Mail!), and once it had arrived I'd lent my camera to my Mum so couldn't post about it! Finally, I have the camera back, so here we go!

It was all in a box, absolutely PACKED with things - this photo shows:
- soaps - olive oil and hemp (which is just the sort of thing I'd have chosen for myself!)
- two scented candles - a big one in the tin on the top right, and a smaller lavender one.
- a notebook and address book
- fridge magnet
- glow in the dark pebbles (so cool!)
- a place card holder for dinner parties etc (can also be used for holding a knitting pattern!)
- chocolate (well, there has been a considerable delay between the parcel arriving and my camera coming back, which explains why the chocolate doesn't feature in the picture...)
I'm not sure how well they come out in the photo but several of the items are from the M.I.L.K. project, which are really sweet photos. M.I.L.K. stands for Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship and the photos are quite moving and very cool!

The parcel also contains two skeins of Maylin's own handspun, in a wonderful shade of purple (much more purple than it appears on my screen anyway!)

And, finally, a One Skein Wonder! I'd seen this pattern but never got round to making it - now I have one to wear! I'm not sure what the yarn is she used, but it's great to wear and fits perfectly. Not that you can tell in the picture below where I ran into the usual problems of living on my own and the atrocious daylight at this time of year!

Anyway, this shot came out better! Aren't those colours fab!
Thank you Maylin! You've been a wonderful Angel!

I'm now getting on with Christmas preparations. It's all a bit crazy, the supermarket last night was complete hell, it looked like a famine was about to break out and people were panic-buying like mad (why? We're not about to run out of food!). There were fights breaking out in the car park as people tried to park (I gave up and went and parked at the railway station and walked back!) and the queues at the checkouts were all at least 20 trolleys deep. People are always so arsey at this time of year. At least it's not just here, sounds like it's just the same (only rather warmer!) with Happyspider in Australia. Or I could have small children to take care of, I swear Anne and Nic must be saints. I have enough trouble just organising myself.

And another thing I hate about this time of year:

the weather. Grey. Dingy. Drippy wet. Bloody freezing. Freezing fog when you want to drive anywhere at all, never mind long distances. Although Farli has provided a very useful link to Chris's British Roads database, which I wish I'd known about ages ago as it has little pictures of all (?) the British motorway junctions, so you have some inkling what it's going to look like before you get there. Look, you can even look at pictures of the M1! Maybe now I can stop having nightmares about junction 24/24A of the M1, which I regularly drive round two or three times in the wrong lane.

Right anyway. I returned home to find rather a lot of emails waiting, which I haven't really got time to do anything about now as I have a friend coming round for mince pies. Which don't exist yet. But that's OK as he's currently in the air somewhere between New York and Heathrow, so plenty of time for mince pie making, especially with the current fog/traffic/airport chaos. And I need to make the spare room habitable as Mum is coming tomorrow. So the laptop is being relegated to the study and is being ignored over Christmas!

So, wherever you are (and I bet the weather's much nicer there!) have a FANTABULOUS CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

and I'll be back sometime.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Knitting (finally!)

And, yes, finally I'll blog about knitting! I ended up staying in Lincoln with Mum for longer than anticipated (almost 3 weeks after the op.) after both of us caught a tummy bug from my nephews. Which was really pleasant 10 days after a tonsillectomy! Anyway, I'm on the mend now thank goodness and actually felt human yesterday for the first time in weeks. Thank you for all the comments, emails, prayers, fluffy vibes etc etc!

Anyway, someone at least had fun whilst we were at Mum's:
I got most of Noa made whilst waiting in the hospital and finished her off at home, but forgot to take a photo before I lent my camera out!

This is Devan blocking:
This is the 1-2 year size but has come out bigger than the measurements in the pattern! I did do a gauge square too! Weird. The blocking mat is a table-top ironing mat with elephants on that I got from Lakeland Limited to take with me to uni. And before anyone wonders why I took an ironing mat to uni, I was really quite weird (especially during my first degree!) and did do quite a lot of ironing until I realised that there were more fun and interesting things to do.

I chose some buttons from Mum's button collection. These are all recycled and have come from clothing that was too worn to be mended or to go to the charity shop.

This is Devan finished.

And the back view! The yarn is all Opal 4ply - the patterned one is a Rodeo colourway.
It was on 2.5 and 3mm needles. I did the gauge swatch on the 3mm needles (the pattern wasn't very clear) but think it might have been better on the 2.5mm! Still, Dylan will grow into it at some point! It felt like a quick knit as I didn't seem to have it on the needles for very long, but bear in mind that I wasn't really doing anything other than sitting and knitting in front of DVDs at the time!

I'd enjoyed making the Mermaid sock for myself (see earlier post) so decided to make some for my SIL for Christmas. (My pair is now on hold!). One Christmas one is now complete and the other is halfway there. I thought the yarn was quite in-yer-face so did the heel with the plain blue used for Devan!
The yarn is Regia Stretch Colour 4ply in "Fantasie" colourway. Mostly knitted on 2.5mm needles with 2mm ones used for the heel. The pattern is from Lucy Neatby's "Cool Socks Warm Feet"

And, I've been thinking about taking a blog break for a while now. I've actually quite enjoyed having time off when I was in Lincoln and couldn't post regularly. Blogging is starting to feel like a chore, and it's meant to be fun, and I seem to have read quite a few blogs recently from people who are thinking about taking a break or stopping blogging altogether because the same thing has happened. Looking back, it's quite encouraging how much my life has changed since I started blogging about 18 months ago. Then, I was only working 1-2 days a week (from home) and finishing my MA. Now the MA is done and dusted and I'm working full-time and away from home most of the time. I'm finding that my time is more limited (not in a bad way, as I'm doing loads of things now that I enjoy doing, and I love my job, whereas before I was sat around at home all the time), I've got a full-size house to look after (rather than a tiny flat!) and friends I want to spend time with, as well as knitting to do, books to read and things I want to cook. And I use my laptop at work, I don't want to be sitting in front of it in my spare time too!

Soooooooo, I don't want to stop altogether, and I don't want to set a date and say that I'm not going to blog until then. I'm just going to blog when I feel like it, and sometimes it'll be short and sometimes long and woffly. So, I'd suggest, that if you're really that keen to read my wofflings and don't want to keep checking back here, it might be an idea to add this blog to your Bloglines or Blogrolling sub!

Saturday, December 02, 2006


This year I was in the garden centre on 5th November (Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night!) and they were playing Christmas music and there was an extremely tacky jiving Father Christmas display. ON THE 5TH OF NOVEMBER?!?! Then I drove home to Newark on Thursday evening and discovered that the Christmas lights were on in the main shopping area (NOVEMBER 30TH!). That lunchtime there was an interview on the BBC news with the parents of a young baby, in their home was a large Christmas tree and the baby was playing with baubles and a cracker. It wasn't even December then! This is mad, it starts earlier and earlier every year.

When I was little my great-uncle (who always came to us for Christmas) used to ask if we'd got any parties lined up for the days between Christmas and New Year. We never had as we'd already been to loads. When he was little you spent Advent preparing for Christmas and then celebrated Christmas at Christmas and for the days afterwards. Which seems much more sensible to me. Now everything goes flat immediately after Christmas. I can't help thinking that, even if you're not Christian and don't celebrate Christmas as a religious festival, but a form of winter festival, the whole starting early thing is just more crazy commercialism.

I hate getting to Christmas and not wanting to sing carols because we've already been singing them for four weeks already (what happened to those beautiful Advent hymns?!). We never used to put our tree up at home until the Saturday before Christmas. This Christmas will be my first Christmas in my new house and I've invited my family round to spend it with me, but the decorations ain't going up until 23rd! I was considering boycotting all shops that had Christmas music and Christmas displays up before December, then realised that I'd have to starve for all of December.

One old lady at church told me that she saw Advent as a time of penitence and preparation (much like Lent). And I'm going to work through an Advent book in the hope of being able to think along those lines instead of getting depressed about the too early Christmas stuff (Hope That Transforms - daily readings for Advent and Christmas). Some practical preparations have had to be made. I have bought my Christmas cards, although I haven't written any yet. And I enjoy the early preparations - making the cake, puddings and mincemeat. I tend to buy presents for family over a few months anyway to spread the cost out, and, obviously, knitted presents need starting earlier! ;-) I like Advent as the beginning of a new year and a time of hope (which contrasts nicely with the increasingly dark days and lack of light) and the feeling that things are going to get better.

So, have a good Advent!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Take that, tonsils!

After all the trials and tribulations of Tuesday 14th, I was then de-tonsilled the very next day! All very last minute, we arrived in the waiting area at 8am, calculated that if I hadn't been called through by 11.30 they wouldn't have time to do it that day, and got on with knitting/reading. At 11.05 a nurse appeared and said "They want you in theatre NOW!" so I hurtled through to the ward, was given a bed, changed into a gown, oops we haven't given you a pre-med, oh well, never mind and walked through to theatres. I walked into the Anaesthetic room at 11.20! (this is a much better way to do it, as all the lying round on a bed wearing a theatre gown the day before had made me nervous!)

It was a little frustrating on the walk through, as you get to go past the anaesthetic rooms of all (10) theatres, all of which were in action and all of which looked interesting. I'd had to leave my glasses behind at the ward as I can see well enough without them to read my consent form so I couldn't really see what was going on and I'd have loved to be nosy and have a gawp in through the doors on the way past. Everybody was really nice and friendly in anaesthetics and talked me through what was going on (possibly I wasn't supposed to ask so many questions?). I came round in the Recovery Room at 12.15 (although when I read my notes the next day it was actually 11.58, but it took until 12.15 for me to remember how to tell the time), so the whole operation only took about 30 minutes!

Then I was wheeled back to the ward, but onto a different bay, which was a little confusing. I'd had my bed re-allocated whilst I was in theatre! It was in my favour though, as I'd started out in a bay with 3 men, and ended up in one with 3 other women! I felt pretty grim by then as I'd had plenty of morphine in Recovery and then discovered back on the ward that morphine makes me spew! LOVELY. I ended up being kept in hospital that night (it should have been day surgery) because I hadn't managed to eat anything but the night was enormous fun! We were all relatively young in my bay and it was a bit like having a pyjama party as we swopped our cancellation horror stories and kept getting the giggles. Two of the others were waiting for surgery the next day and the other one had just come out of theatre like me. The next morning Georgina, who had come in at 8am on Wednesday just like me and had waited for surgery on her kidney for the whole day before being found a bed for the night in my bay, had her operation cancelled 10 minutes before she was due into theatre. An emergency had come in and taken the High Dependency bed she might have needed when she came out of theatre.

On Thursday I got some Rice Krispies down and was discharged just before lunch. Mum borrowed a wheelchair to push me the 20 metres (!) home from the ward, which was a little scary when she insisted on going down the middle of the road rather than on the pavement. And that was it, really, for the next 10 days or so. I'd been warned I'd feel increasingly worse for the following 4-7 days (that's SO encouraging when you've just come out of theatre), and this was very true, as by the weekend I'd never felt so crap in my life. It's settled down a lot since, and now just feels like having tonsillitis. You're also warned to eat rough foods such as toast and bran flakes as this keeps the throat clean and helps prevent infection. That advice actually worked really well, and, although people kept talking about ice cream I really wasn't tempted by it, I think it would have felt really clogging and definitely wouldn't have helped clean my throat! Mum provided some great meals and I managed to eat quite a variety, which I think helped the recovery and meant I didn't lose too much weight, thank goodness. It was really slow progress though, as it was taking an hour every morning just to eat a bowl of porridge! Anyway, it's going OK. I saw my GP for the 7 day follow-up last week and everything is healing well and he told me to stay off work for another fortnight (damn!) to make sure it's healed properly.

And, what did I get up to whilst lolling round at home? Well, I read a pile of books, watched some films and did plenty of knitting. (I also knitted in hospital, although knitting with a cannula in is bloody difficult!). It was quite entertaining at first as I had trouble concentrating and remembering things and it took a few days to regain the ability to multi-task (eeek, is that what it's like being a man?!). The knitting update will have to wait as I'm still at Mum's house on pay-as-you-go dial-up so can't upload pics but this is what I read:

"The Conjuror's Bird" by Martin Davies. This is a fun and interesting read, and reminds me a lot of "Possession" by A.S. Byatt (but a third the length and without vast chunks of "Victorian" poetry). It's all about the hunt for a taxidermy specimen supposedly brought back by Sir Joseph Banks intertwined with two love stories set at different times (see, I did say it was like "Possession") and the characters spend quite a lot of time rattling around Lincolnshire villages. There are chunks of truth in the story, especially about Banks' expeditions. The author has NO idea of the differences between a librarian and an archivist though (honestly, humph!).

Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean. The sequel to Peter Pan, commissioned by Great Ormond St Hospital in order to keep the royalties flowing. I didn't really enjoy this one much (although I read it when my brain was most anaesthetic/morphine addled which probably didn't help) and I never really "got" Peter Pan when I was younger anyway. However, the story rattles along (if slightly confusingly, but that might be the morphine) and lots of old characters come back and some new ones who don't turn out to be very new after all. And it's printed in a big typeface which is excellent when your brain doesn't work well.

"Theodora's Baby" by Penny Culliford. Sequel to Theodora's Diary and Theodora's Wedding and continues much in the same vein. It is very funny, and isn't intended to be taken seriously (ie perfect post-op reading). I did get slightly annoyed by the lack of research (there's one point where the vicar is talking about something that happened at theological college which just couldn't have as the C of E would never have allowed the person concerned through a selection conference and into theological college in the first place! For a start she'd have been too young.) But then, it is a book that's meant to be silly and make you laugh more than anything else. which it does. And thanks to Anne for sending me it, and Theodora's Wedding, to read!

"Mr Phillips" by John Lanchester. A man is made redundant, can't bring himself to tell his family and spends the day wandering around London, pretending he's been at work all day. It reminds me a lot of "If nobody speaks of remarkable things" by Jon Mcgregor(another book, like "Possession", that I loved) because it's all about noticing the things that go on all the time that nobody normally notices. Mr Phillips wanders around, mainly thinking about sex, and a few things happen, but that's not really the point. Anyway, I thought it was quite cool, and one of those books that makes you think more about lots of things.

And I'm still in the middle of reading "After the Victorians" by A.N. Wilson and "Knitting" by Anne Bartlett.

Films? Well, I watched a few of the good old Colin Firth standbys, and also had a selection from my rental list at Lovefilm, which included some of season two of "Spooks" (a current addiction, but I only started watching Spooks last year on TV so I've got some catching up to do), "Birth", which is about reincarnation when a 10-year-old turns up claiming to be Nicole Kidman's dead husband, just as she's about to marry again. I rather enjoyed this one, it was another one that made my brain do some work. Unfortunately my laptop didn't like it which made watching it hard work as the computer kept crashing! Think I'll have to get it out again once I'm back home to see whether I missed anything. And "Amen", about the Church's ineffectualness (is that a word?) about doing anything about the Holocaust despite knowing what was going on. I originally saw this at the cinema when it came out (the wonderful Picturehouse cinema in Exeter, when I was working in the city in 2001) and it's excellent. Quite quite scary, as you watch the trains repeatedly running across the screen, knowing they're taking more and more people to be killed, and the desperation of the men who know more are being sent to their deaths and are trying to get the word out, but are repeatedly ignored. When I originally saw it the Catholic church stood out as the main culprit, knowing full well what was going on, but refusing to stand up to Hitler, but on viewing again, the Protestant church didn't come out much better either. But then again, I doubt very much that I'd have had the guts to do much about it had I been in a position to warn people then.

Golly, this is a long post! Congratulations if you've made it to the end! And thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last post. I have replied to some, but I'm very behind with emails and comments at the moment, and I think it'll take until next summer to catch up on reading blogs...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Humph, as I feared yesterday, today's tonsillectomy was cancelled. And, even worse, cancelled at the last minute.
I'd gone in at 8am, completed the pre-op assessment, met the consultant and anaesthetist, been given a bed, changed into a theatre gown, had my pre-meds at 9.30, due in theatre at 10am. And nothing happened. I lay there, Mum sat next to me. We twiddled our thumbs. I knitted. I read. I slept. Mum read. We talked about every topic under the sun. My tummy rumbled (having not had anything to eat or drink from 11pm the night before!). What was worse, they kept pushing the ward tea trolley past with a giant tea pot full of tea on it.

At 12.55 the consultant reappeared and said he had to cancel as they'd run out of operating time in theatre. They've told me to come in again tomorrow, as there's a chance I'll get it done, but I'm not holding out much hope. Today I was no. 3 on a theatre list of 6 and got cancelled. Tomorrow I'll be the extra one on the end of a theatre list of 6 so the chances of getting through that are fairly remote. And this consultant only operates on Mon-Wed mornings, so that'll be it for this week.

The frustrating thing is that there isn't anyone in particular to be angry with. It's not the staff's fault that they ran out of theatre time (either an earlier op. was more complicated than they expected or an emergency came in) and there isn't any slack in the system to allow for them to go over the allocated time. It just seems such a waste - the system won't pay overtime to allow all the day's operations to still go ahead, yet has to bear the cost of my half day's occupancy of a hospital bed, clean laundry, pre-med drugs, staff time and probably a repeat of it all tomorrow. It's also the attitude of the "system" that annoys me. That I haven't got anything better to do than lie around all day waiting for a non-existent operation, and do the same tomorrow, and probably next week too. The same thing happened to an elderly family friend last week. She was going in for a hip replacement, and got as far as being wheeled through the theatre doors, then the intensive care bed she needed for afterwards was taken by an emergency case and she had to be wheeled out again and sent home. That operation has been rescheduled for December...

But look, I did get LOADS of Noa done today! ;-)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bye for now

This was going to be a long post, featuring, among other things, my thoughts on different socks heels and their wearability (after a week at work wearing handknitted socks, with different heels on). But then stuff kept happening over the weekend, and I kept meaning to post and didn't find time. And today I've been trying to catch up with some work, as I'm having the tonsillectomy tomorrow and needed to get some money earnt before that! And the joy and rapture at the thought of another Incapacity Benefit form to fill in tomorrow. Oh Grrrrrrr. Of course, the operation might be cancelled, in which I'll be back tomorrow going GRRRRR in a very big way. But otherwise, I'll only be in hospital for the day, but am then going to stay with Mum so my internet access will be a little limited. Which probably means no blog posts for about a fortnight. I'm already behind (as usual!) with reading other people's blogs, and I'm going to be even more behind soon, so apologies there...

The weekend disappeared (apart from a lovely fluffy Knit Lincs meeting) under a pile of boring mundane things, like altering curtains, washing socks and attaching heat reflector panels behind the radiators (I do have an exciting life, don't I?!)

Supposedly these bits of bobbly plastic will cut my heating bills by 20% and mean I don't have to have the heating on as much. They're very Blue Peter to fix, involving copious quantities of double-sided sticky tape, and lots of trying to wiggle them in behind radiators.

I have been knitting, and there should be more pictures, but again, time and the total lack of decent light (apart from about 2 hours around lunch time!) mean that there's not a lot to show:

This is my first Mermaid sock completed. The pattern is from Lucy Neatby's "Cool Socks, Warm Feet" book and is supposedly at "Sock Goddess" level. Am I really a sock goddess? I don't think so, it was actually quite an easy pattern once you get into it. Lucy is also very good at talking you through what you're doing in the pattern. It can make it look intimidating, as each pattern goes on for pages, but a lot of it is different options for cuffs, heels and toes. The yarn is the Opal Seide 4ply, which my One Skein SP Angel, Maylin, sent me. The garter stitch cuff and short row heel are on 2mm needles, the rest on 2.5mm. I also really like the way Lucy explains short row heels, I think they're the clearest instructions I've used, although it does look slightly intimidating - at one point I had 7 DPNs on the go!

I also have Noa and Devan on the needles at the moment, but you'll have to be patient to see pics of them!
So bye for now, and I really hope I'm not back posting tomorrow...

Friday, November 10, 2006

A meme

I've seen this on various blogs and thought I'd give it a whirl...

1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 in the book closest to you right now, what does it say?
"A third feature of Grey's personality ws his collegiality. In an interview late in life he was asked by F. Edmund Garrett: 'Looking back now over your long career, Sir George... what is the thing that most strikes you about it - you yourself?' After some hesitation, Grey replied: 'I think what strikes me most is- how I have been helped.' 'Helped?' replied Garrett, 'How helped?'. Grey responded: 'Oh, by everybody [...] Everybody has been so kind to me, and helped me on so. Things have come to me.' And 'things' did, in the form of books and manuscripts from 'persons in every rank of life'... D.J. Kerr Amassing treasures for all times Oak Knoll Press 2006.

2. If you stretch out your left arm - as far as possible, what are you touching?
Another dining chair.

3. What’s the last program you watched on tv?
BBC news.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.
Around 4ish - It's actually 16.07.

5. Except the computer, what can you hear right now?
The Last Word on Radio 4 and the washing machine.

6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do?
Walked to the post office (or does going down the garden to the compost bin count?)

7. What are you wearing?
Jeans and a pink stripy jumper from Next. And my yummy scrummy thick warm walking socks from Crookabeck Angoras.

8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about?
No, I slept like a log. Hardly surprising as it's been a long week and I was finally back in my own bed!

9. When was the last time you laughed?
Erm, probably when I knitting away on Noa, and thinking what a total prat I'm going to look at work wearing a balaclava, along with a dust mask and a woolly hat.

10. What’s on the walls, in the room you’re in right now?
In front of me there's a framed exhibition poster from this summer's Van Gogh and Britain exhibition at the National Galleries of Scotland. To the right a framed Ordnance Survey map centred on my postcode. Above the piano is a clock and on the left some family photos in a couple of clip frames.

11. Have you seen anything strange lately?.
Well it depends what you mean by strange...

12. What do you think about this meme?
I liked the questions. A lot of memes are very "samey" and I often don't bother reading them and wouldn't bother doing them myself. Oh, and I am putting off doing the washing up! ;-)

13. What’s the last film you saw?
Fahrenheit 9/11

14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money?
I'd make sure me and my family were all happily housed and could afford to do whatever courses/job etc they wanted to do. .
I'd want to give a chunk to charity but I'd want to do a lot of research first.
I'd also invest some so that, in the future, I'd be able to have some life choices - like whether to stay at home with children or go back to work etc.
I'd really like to live in an environmentally friendly self-sufficient house too.
I'd get a cleaning person (!)

15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
Erm, I'm not sure. I already talk about a lot of things on here, and the rest I'm not going to share! ;-)

16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt - what would it be?
I'd like it if the West could stop thinking it was always right, and take into account other cultures/countries.

17. Do you like dancing?
Not really, and I'm not very good. I do enjoy barn dancing though, as doesn't matter if you're bad or good or how old you are etc. Weddings with barn dances are usually good fun.

18. George Bush?
Why? How? I still can't believe that he managed to get to be President. And look at the hash he's making of it.

19. What do you want your children’s names to be, girl/boy?
I'm not sure as it's still a long way off. I prefer traditional names though, and not the strange alternative spellings you get of some of them nowadays (yes, I know I'm an old fart!).

20. Would you ever consider living abroad?
Yes, I'd like to, although I'd prefer to be somewhere not obvious (ie not somewhere like the US or most of Western Europe). I worked briefly in Switzerland and enjoyed the surroundings (although not the place I was working in!). I'd love to go to Scandinavia and Africa, although I think my language skills would limit where I'd be able to work.

21. What do you want God to tell you, when you come to heaven?
That cats definitely do go to heaven, not just humans.

22. Who should do this meme?
Anyone who wants to or anyone who's bored!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Being British, I am now going to talk about the weather. Last Sunday I tootled off to London wearing a short-sleeved top and Tubey. By Tuesday the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees and it's now FREEZING! What happened?!?! I know October was very very mild (can't ever remember going for a walk on my birthday without a coat on before!) but the sudden change is taking a bit of getting used to.

Mum bought me some bird feeders a while ago, and now seemed like a good time to start using them, so I had to go to the garden centre to find some kind of bird table to hang them from. I decided a traditional one just wasn't going to work (there are far too many cats around here for it to be feasible), but this one, that's "hangy" rather than "tabley" should do the trick, I think.

I've been meaning to do stuff to the garden for ages, but just haven't been at home to do it (and when I have, I've had tonsillitis!). So, I went a little mad at the garden centre (where they were very nice, and didn't mind answering idiotic/clueless questions) and bought the Buddleia I've been planning for the back corner to disguise the Very Ugly Concrete wall. I also bought a large bag of "Farmyard Manure" (why do I think it's funny to buy a large bag of what is, basically, poo?) and then had a most entertaining time trying to get the ****** thing out of the boot of my car and into the back garden. Presumably this is why men are useful to have around. Unfortunately Monkey wasn't feeling helpful so I had to shift it myself.

My garden is covered with black plastic, and then gravel, which supposedly means the weeds don't grow through. It doesn't work. And I hate the fact the garden is covered with plastic. I've been planning a bed at the bottom, so started clearing gravel, and discovered that there's ******* concrete underneath the gravel for the final metre of garden. GRRRRRRRRR. Looks like the flower bed will have to be further from the wall than I intended. Unless anyone has a miraculous means of getting rid of concrete?

By then it was getting dark and cold outside, so I pootled off inside to plant some bulbs:

these are Narcissi and Hyacinths. And yes, that is Lincoln Longwool fleece in the background.

I did do some knitting last week:

I was in London last Sunday/Monday for a conference and took these two down for Gypsy the cat, whose owner had invited me for dinner. Gypsy was very pleased, but I forgot my camera so couldn't get a piccy of her playing.

Friday, November 03, 2006



I've been trying to decide all week what I think about Halloween, and Anne's post has pretty much summed it up for me! I spent Monday and Tuesday this week trying to decide what I was going to do about the Trick or Treaters. I hate them coming round (it's a relatively new phenomenon in this country, they've only appeared in the last few years). Last year, when I lived in Lincoln, we had some fairly aggressive teenage boy Trick or Treaters round demanding money, and who did damage some decorator's equipment in our porch when we only offered chocolate. Even when it is small children coming round, I don't think it's right that children are encouraged to knock on strangers' doors and ask for sweets. We spend the whole year telling them not to talk to strangers or take sweets from strangers, and then encourage them to do just that on Halloween! Hmm, mixed messages or what?!

It also seems so commercial (presumably that's why it's now so popular over here as it's been heavily promoted by various companies) and an excuse to market more plastic tat at children (and which then mostly ends up in landfill).

The French seem to have the right idea, and, according to this report, Halloween festivities there are on the wane. Ah, if only that would catch on the UK...

Anyway, I considered going to the police station for one of their "No trick or treaters here" posters to put in my window, but thought that might just lead to more problems. Fortunately we had a Guide meeting on Tuesday night, and we'd already decided to go ahead with the meeting to keep the kids off the streets and away from knocking on people's doors. We had a good evening, with a party, fancy dress competition, apple bobbing and soup and hot dogs. The girls had a whale of a time, no one got scared, no one intimidated anyone else, so I think that was a success.

Being at Guides meant I missed the worst of the Trick or Treaters (although I saw some going round in a pack of about 30 as I walked home). I did have two lots at my door before the meeting, two little girls dressed up (accompanied by their Mum), who were rather sweet and very polite, and three teenagers (unaccompanied) who were also polite. They all had some chocolate (although I did feel intimidated enough beforehand to go out and buy a box of little chocolates in, which I resented doing). But I feel very sorry for those people (especially those living on their own) who did get the marauding packs of teenagers at the door later that evening. And what about the elderly on a very limited income who can't afford to go and buy sweets to hand out (and then feel intimidated because they haven't got anything?)

Dilemma: should I have bought the chocolate? By handing out chocolate I've encouraged the kids to think that Trick or Treating is good and they'll be back again next year. But by buying chocolate I've avoided potential eggs thrown at my house/windows/car (parked outside house), flour in my letterbox, doorbell being ripped off, marauding people getting into my back garden and overturning all the tubs...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Finishing things off...

I finished knitting the Beaded Star bag (from the intarsia and beading course last weekend at Yarn). Basically, you knit the squares panel with the intarsia and beading (most of which I got done at the course) and cast off. You then pick up stitches along the cast on edge and knit the stripey back of the bag. Then you knit a moss stitch strap for it. I got all that finished and blocked:

The yarn is Rowan Cotton Glace and I used a whole ball of the burgundy colour and some oddments of cream and blue. The strap used up the rest of the ball and is just the right length to hang comfortably off my shoulder. The needles were 2.75 and 3mm and the beads were Rowan ones, but I'm not sure what size.

Getting this far also reminded me that I hadn't completed the little jumper I made on the last course I did at Yarn - Finishing Techniques. I took the course at the end of June, about 4 days before moving house so never got the jumper finished. So here it is:

And it's about the right size for Monkey's friend, Lavender Bear (although the colour looks a bit horrifying next to his fur!):

And as well as finishing things off, I'm getting started on the next Christmas present. For Dylan-the-nephew-sprog who is growing VERY fast. The pattern is Devan, from Knitty and the yarn is Opal sock yarn- one ball of plain blue which I bought from Yarn, and one ball of Rodeo which I bought from Indigo Knits in Penrith whilst on holiday. I'm going to make the 1-2 year size. Dylan is only five months at the moment, but already in 9 month size clothes... He's exclusively breast-fed, so goodness knows how big he'll end up once he starts on food next month...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Have you ever...

just not been able to get into a book? I used to make myself finish anything I started, but now I've decided life's too short!
I was trying to read Michelle Lovric's "The Remedy". I'd enjoyed her "The Floating Book" and bought a copy of The Remedy when I missed a connection and ended up with an hour and a half to kill at Birmingham New Street...

I'm still not sure what it was I just couldn't get into about the book, mainly, I think, that I wasn't really bothered what happened about the characters and it never got to "unputdownable" status. So I gave up.

Next on the list is "The Conjuror's Bird"...

Oh, and I've been asked to write a book review for an academic journal. Bit scary. The book itself (a biography) doesn't look too bad, 350 pages, and looks fairly interesting. I've agreed to do it, as it's good experience (and I'll get my name in a journal, isn't that exciting?!!) but I'm not totally convinced I can write 1000 words of review...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Not very evil at all...

You Are 18% Evil

You are good. So good, that you make evil people squirm.
Just remember, you may need to turn to the dark side to get what you want!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Beaded Star

Today I went over to Yarn in Beeston to the "Beaded Star" workshop with Debbie Abrahams.
The shop was, as usual, totally fab and stuffed full of yummy yarn.

"Beaded Star" involved making a little bag, with an intarsia design on one side (the other side is striped) involving squares and with some beading too, to make a star shape on the inner square. So it was a great introduction to both intarsia and beading. I hadn't tried beading before, and had had only one slightly disastrous attempt at intarsia.

Lunch was, again, very tasty. Spinach flan with pine nuts on top, cous cous salad and tomatoes, followed by fruit kebabs.

And plenty of time to wander around the shop admiring the yarn and flipping through pattern books. I bought 4 balls of Rowan 4ply soft from the sale basket.

And there was a pear cake with toffee sauce and cream during the afternoon!

I got about halfway through the intarsia and beaded panel during the workshop, but now feel much more confident about both techniques.

And the cake was very tasty too!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Birthday in Norfolk

I ended up spending my birthday in Norfolk last week, as that was where I was working! I was rather amused by whoever left a comment on my last blog entry about there being computers and internet access in Norfolk! Yes, I know there are, but not where I was working (in the middle of nowhere, on the North Norfolk coast). I don't have internet access when I'm working onsite (most of my week), only when I work from home. I also work in the middle of the countryside when I'm onsite so there is no wi-fi for my laptop and nowhere near a library or similar with internet access. And working 8.30-6ish most days means I can't get to anywhere with access! Sometimes I strike lucky, like when I work in Derbyshire, the B & B I stay in there has wi-fi so I can get online. But most of the time I have to content myself with coming home after four or five days away for work to an exploding inbox and 157 blog updates to read!

But I like doing weeks away for work. Although it means a long drive to get there and back, I get plenty of free time in the evening to read and/or knit. When I work nearer home it's a 100 mile round trip every day, which really cuts into knitting time in the evening! And that is how I spent my birthday - no one at the site I was working at knew it was my birthday, so I could do exactly what I wanted. Which was to eat chocolate muffins, slob in front of the TV all evening and get on with the latest sock!

I'm having a few camera problems at the moment. It takes AA batteries, and the latest have run out. I'm getting fed up with using all those batteries and having to dispose of them, so have ordered a battery recharger and rechargeable batteries from Natural Collection. Which are currently stuck in the DHL depot in Lincoln waiting to be redelivered! So until they arrive photos are limited!

I am also spreading birthday celebrations out. This is a ball of Opal sock yarn from Mary Anne (thank you!!) and a new cake tin from my Mum. There is a chocolate cake inside it...
Next week (when I am working in Derbyshire!) I'm having tea with the nephew sprogs (possibly more cake then?) so it's important to keep celebrations going as long as possible!

Also, I've just found out that I'll be working down near Cambridge between December and February, which hopefully means I'll be able to meet up with some other knitters in the evening. It sounds like I'll be staying in an ex-stable block (just hope it has heating!) so probably no wi-fi there either...

Another nice surprise when I returned from Norfolk (to an exploding postbox) was the first issue of Yarn Forward - which looks like it's made a very good start. I liked the patterns and the articles, the fact that there was little advertising, and things like having different price ranges for yarn suggested. Haven't had time yet for a really thorough read but I'm looking forward to it! I also like the fact that it's quarterly, so you have time to get your head round it before the next issue comes out (and also means it works out at a very reasonable price.

Rachel from Knit Lincs has given me a copy of "Knitting for Peace", which, again, I haven't had time to more than flip through, but which has some great stories and ideas in it. I like the history of knitting recounted in it, although there is obviously a heavy US bias cos that's where it was published. And it doesn't mention charities such as Dulaan (which seems odd), or UK ones such as Feed the Children or the Knit a River thing. I don't agree with all the things that are said in the review of the book above (the link from the book's title), but I wanted to link to something thoughtful, rather than to Amazon (!). And I liked the countdown 'til the world is free of Bush counter at the bottom of her blog!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Off to Norfolk

I'm off to Norfolk for work this week so no internet access (sob, sob, sniff, gulp, sob) but before I go...

I got Mum to take a picture of Eloise, which has come out distinctly better than my attempts in front of the mirror!

Having tonsillitis again last week meant a head start on my Christmas knitting (I only got done in time last year cos I had tonsillitis most of November and all of December!).
This is Noah's jumper:

Pattern from the 1st issue of Knit Today. Smallest size (2 year old). The yarn is Lana Grossa Cool Wool Big, a DK weight pure merino yarn, which feels oh so yummy to knit with. I used 6 balls and it was on 3.75 and 4mm needles. I used an extremely stretchy cast off and bigger needles round the neck, which is why it looks like it's gaping, but small children seem to have enormous heads...

And I finished the socks that should have been my Greenbelt knitting, if I'd gone. These are DK weight on 3.25 (2 circs method) needles. The yarn is pure wool, hand spun and dyed by the Spinning Gallery in Cumbria. I bought it as a kit from the Wool Clip. I've adapted the pattern slightly so it's ribbed and the heels have a strand of Kidsilk Haze knitted with them as reinforcement (I heard someone suggest this on the Socknitters list and thought I'd give it a go).

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Claire tagged me last week to think of five things that feminism has done for me. So I'm going to have a go at answering, I'm not sure if some of these are strictly speaking "feminism" though... (oh, and to put it in context, I was born in 1979). Carrie Anne's answers to the same thing are also quite thought-provoking...

1. Financial independence. I can do what I want (within reason!) with whatever I earn, and I can own property in my own name, and retain that right even if I get married - before 1882 (the Married Women's Property Act) this wasn't allowed. Before that I'd have had to pass over control of everything I own on marriage. I would also have been under the guardianship of my father (or, in my case, my brother) until marriage, when that would have passed to my husband, which, would, of course, have had a massive impact on every decision I made.

2. Education. The fact that I would go to university was never questioned. In previous generations it would have been, half of my grandparents left school at 14 and never had the opportunity to stay on longer. At school we had the same opportunities as the boys to study the same subjects (although, amusingly, my school didn't have any woodwork/metal work type facililities, and the boys' school down the road didn't have any cookery facilities, so a certain amount of running up and down the road to use each others had to happen!). There was no expectation of anyone having to study a particular subject because of their sex. And things like sports in PE weren't limited along traditional male/female lines.

Similarly, at university, I took my first degree at a college (Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, part of London University) that was one of the first to admit women. Of the two colleges that now make up Royal Holloway, Bedford College was the first in the country to admit women to higher education in 1849, although women were not allowed to graduate from the university until 1878. By the time I got there in 1998 I could study whatever I wanted (and graduate from it!). Imagine going to university, attending all the lectures, doing the reading, but not being allowed to graduate because you're a woman...

3. Life choices/family responsibility. I think I was lucky to be born when I was, as I shouldn't be criticised, when the time comes, if I choose to stay at home with my children, or if I carry on going to work. Previous generations of women had to give up work on marriage, were expected to stay at home to bring up children and be dependent on their husband. But I have the choice. I could go out to work and leave my husband at home to look after the sprogs, or it could be divided between us, or maybe I'll stay at home. Or maybe we'll both work and find a nursery...
Similarly, the spinster daughter would have been expected to stay at home and care for elderly parents. I have already done that, but it was my choice to be at home and care for my terminally ill father. It's something I'm very glad I was able to do (because I was there too as a carer with Mum, Dad was able to die at home, rather than in a nursing home), but it would have been a difficult decision to make if I'd been living in a different part of the country and employed. As it was I was already temporarily living with my parents and self-employed when my father became ill. Women today do face enormous dilemmas because of the freedom we have...

4. Timing. My generation has the gift of time. If I'd been in a Jane Austen novel I'd have been well "on the shelf" by now, fancy, unmarried at the age of 26! I suppose, related to that, is also having the ability to control when to have children (although, obviously that can't be controlled to the nth degree...). But at least it's up to me and I don't have to grab the nearest man to show an interest, out of desperation (thinking of Mr Collins in Pride & Prejudice *shudder*.)

5. Bigger influences. We had a scary history teacher at school, who used to peer over the top of her glasses at us, and say "Women died to get you the vote, girls, don't throw that away"!! Yes, we all laughed at her, but women now do have the same ability as men to take part in the political process. Since turning 18 I've voted in every local and national election (so the History teacher's saying obviously worked!). It never seems a major thing turning out to vote, one small piece of paper in a ballot box. But imagine not having that power, or living in a country where women don't have a voice like that...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Stopping pop ups

Thank you to everyone who commented and looked to see whether I'd got pop ups or not! I went on the Blogger Help Forum and got a very helpful reply (see comments from last post) from someone pointing out that some website counters come with pop up ads (usually buried away in the terms & conditions). I've deleted both webstats4u and easy-hit-counters and that seems to have done the trick - but please let me know if you still get pop ups.
There's a helpful article here about the dangers of some free hit counters, as other people might be in the same position as me. I've also checked my computer with Spybot Search & Destroy and Ad-aware, as well as doing the usual anti-virus scanning.

This has been one of those weeks. Not only all this blog stuff going on, but I had tonsillitis again (well, it's not really news now is it), problems with my radiators, water from the shower tray going through the ceiling into the light fitting below and we ran out of bananas (not a problem for me, but a certain Somebody was a little annoyed).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pop up ads and comments

A couple of people have warned me that they're having trouble accessing my blog, especially to leave comments. I'm not sure what's going on, but I think it may be to do with pop-up ads.
There's a link here about someone else with a similar problem. Has anyone else had problems - there are a couple of other Blogger knitting blogs I've read where I've had pop up ads appear when trying to comment, I'd assumed it was something the owner had switched on, but possibly not.

In the meantime, I think the Google toolbar and most anti-virus type software can block pop-up ads?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I have mirrors!

Last week Hire a Hubby (who actually turned out to be "Hire a Son" and "Hire Son's Friend") came round to sort out things in my house. So I now have mirrors up (and coat hooks, pictures, shelves, clear guttering, a water butt attached to the downpipe and curtain tie backs at all windows). So, finally I can show some very bad photos of Eloise. This is in on my upstairs landing, with the curtains open the light was just all wrong, at least this way you can sort of see Eloise and the camera flash hides my zits.

And the bathroom mirror (this is a recycled mirror, no less! I scavenged it when my parents were having a new bathroom put in a couple of years ago). The mirror also covers up the holes I made (see here and scroll down a bit) when I was attempting to put it up myself...

Eloise seems to have been on the go for ages. I started her on holiday back in June but then house moving, hot weather and a sprained wrist all got in the way. I also didn't have enough yarn (despite buying the no. of balls specified) but luckily Joy from Knit Lincs had some left over from her Eloise in the same colour.
Pattern: Eloise from Noro Knits
Size: XS (but it took 7.5 balls rather than the 7 balls specified in the pattern!)
Yarn: Noro Blossom. Colour no. 13. Bought at Yarn on the Knit Lincs trip back in May.
Needles: 4.5mm Surina wooden straights. The pattern states 5mm, but I needed to go down to get gauge (which perhaps explains why I needed extra yarn?).

Did anyone else watch the new BBC version of Robin Hood last night? I thought it was quite good, although Robin Hood appeared to be aged 10 (see, I really am turning into an old fart) and I had no idea that mascara and lipstick were so big in twelfth century England...
What was even more bizarre were the constant references to where I live. The series was actually shot in Hungary, but of course Robin Hood was in Sherwood Forest. Where I live. (well OK, the district of Newark and Sherwood, but it's the same thing).

Yesterday I found a lake only 10 minutes walk from my house. I'm not really totally unobservant as it is tucked away behind a housing estate. I'd ordered an Ordnance Survey map centred on my postcode (Newark is annoying on the edge of 4 map sheets) and had it framed. It got hung on my wall during the Hire a Hubby spree last week and close inspection revealed a very large puddle not far away. So I went off on a little explore yesterday, and found this:

Isn't it fab? And I could have lived here for years and never found it! It seems to be owned by the Parish Council and is for everyone to use. There were lots of dog walkers out and about, but I'm pleased to say that most seemed to be very well-behaved as I only sighted one pile of dog poo on my walk. I get SOOOOOO annoyed with people who don't clear up after their dogs. Grrrrr. Anyway, the lake is beautiful, and bounded on one side by one of the national cycle routes. I shall be visiting here again, hopefully often!

Latest book review: Imperium by Robert Harris follows the early years of Cicero's political career in Rome. The Guardian digest of it is quite harsh (although it still made me reserve it at the library!) and I did find the book a little ponderous to start with. It didn't help that I didn't expect the library to get it for me quite so fast and with somebody else wanting it after me I had a deadline to meet reading it! I thought Harris made a good job of getting across the intrigues and politics of Ancient Rome, the personalities involved and the life and death nature of what was going on. It was certainly an improvement on reading Cicero himself in Latin, and made me wish the novel had been around when I was doing A Level Latin... That probably makes it sound a little studious, but it isn't as Harris manages to get across what is a lot of detail in an entertaining way.

Friday, October 06, 2006

One Skein SP!

Months ago I signed up for the One Skein Secret Pal exchange. I spoiled Louise, whose blog you can read here and I received a skein from my spoiler back in May, but then she vanished. BUT the organisers of the exchange provided me with a wonderful angel instead. Maylin, who lives in France and whose blog is here.

And this week I got a parcel! First of all there were all these goodies:

That's notelets (with authors on), chocolate (there was more, but I, er, ate it!), a cool card and a little notebook with sheep on.
And some yarn!
The sock yarn is 100g of Opal Seide (silk) 4ply which came in the little bag on the right. I've been meaning to try knitting with silk sock yarn for a while! And on the left is 190g of sari silk in a gorgeous mixture of jewel colours (much brighter than in my pic!).
Anyway, thank you Maylin, you're a total star! I love all of it!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Newark Area Open Studios

At all the weekends at the moment there's something called "Newark Area Open Studios 2006" on. I had some free time this weekend (where do the weekends go normally? I'm sure once I've got the house sorted I'll actually have time to do something at weekends again) so went along to one of the exhibitors. The idea is that various artists/crafters/designers all open their studios/homes up on four consecutive weekends, and people go round and look at the ones that interest them. There were three knitting people listed in the leaflet but I only had time to get to one, so I chose Kate Koppana, whose house isn't far from mine and who was described as a "knitter, spinner, dyer and weaver".

Kate seemed quite pleased to see me as no one else had visited that day, and only a few yesterday! I think last weekend she'd had a few more visitors. She showed me some beautiful work she'd done on mittens and legwarmers (above) when she lived in Helsinki and some of her antique equipment. The big thing in the foreground is an antique swift/skein winder. It can be collapsed right down and miraculously still has all its pieces!

Kate also had some beautiful hand-dyed and hand-spun skeins. I bought a couple but I think they're going to be a present so I won't display them here! ;-) She does natural dyeing using woad and other things grown on her allotment. Obviously a very talented lady as she has also written several books of poetry! I hope she gets more visitors next time she's open!

Also this week I got my fleece delivered from Woodlands Farm, along with my veg box. It smells very sheepy and has fantastic dreadlocks (it's Lincoln Longwool). Now all I have to do is learn what to do with it...

And I've got a letter from the hospital saying that my tonsillectomy is scheduled for 14th November. Annoyingly though this isn't an "official" notification. I wrote to the consultant last week to point out that it's very difficult to schedule work in when I don't know when I'm going to need 2 weeks off, so he wrote back and gave me this provisional date. Which will probably change. Unfortunately it also means I'm going to have to miss the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate, which is about 10 days after. If I do have my tonsils out on 14th, then I won't be able to go into a crowded area like Harrogate that soon because of the risk of infection... GRRRRR. Of course, that means I'll have more money to spend on Skip North early next year though!