Nearly There

Have been meaning to blog for a while, but kept deciding that nothing I wanted to say was interesting enough to share. (self esteem ? !)

Anyway, I have a couple of photos which might appeal.

I’ve actually finished the knitting on a jumper for 6 year old grandson, but haven’t quite mustered the oomph to sew it together. I need to do that in daylight, which is in short supply here in the northern hemisphere, but it’s in the plan. It won’t arrive before Christmas anyway. It’s a much nicer green than the photo shows. It’s Bergere de France, Magic+, and the colour is Lichen. Discontinued, I think. The pattern is called Jake. I sewed up the shoulders and knitted the collar in the round before blocking.

Started a jumper for hubby. It’s called Play on Ribs by Pat Menchini, and was in one of the knitting magazines I subscribe to. Also available on Ravelry, but you have to pay for it. It’s more interesting than plain stocking stitch, which is good, because that can result in my losing the will to live, but I’m sometimes able to knit this while watching TV. The yarn is Rowan Superwash Worsted 100% wool, and the colour is called Mallard. Please excuse the flash reflection.

Got so fed up with rummaging around in my knitting bag for tiny little bits and pieces like stitch markers that I had a big old sort out. My “main” knitting bag, for supplies and accessories, is very posh and well made but black inside. Which doesn’t help. So I bought a cantilevered transparent small tool box for “artists”, put everything in there, and just the actual knitting in my “subsidiary” knitting bag, and it works really well. The main bag has gone upstairs to think about how naughty it’s been. Next to “my” chair in the living room, the detritus from knitting/crochet/magazines has significantly reduced and looks much better. And, as a bonus (!), it works, and knitting is easier too.

Went to collect my new specs from Specsavers last week. What a fiasco. I had been waiting for months and months for the hospital to discharge me and let the opticians do the eye test, which they finally did. I chose some lovely frames, and I have three pairs of reading glasses (handbag, bedside, lounge), one pair of computer glasses, a pair of sunglasses (tinted varifocals) and a pair of everyday glasses (usually varifocals with Reactolites or whatever they’re called). However. The reading and computer glasses were easy to sort out. But the other two pairs were not. My double vision is so bad I need special lenses to fit in normal frames. Those special lenses can’t be both varifocals and Reactolites. But they can be varifocals and tinted, or varifocals and untinted. Right.

So when I went to collect them, the sunglasses and everyday glasses were dreadful. Impossible to see through. I was there an hour before they worked out the problem. The lenses weren’t properly centred. Long story short, I’ve ordered different frames (slightly smaller) which should make life easier for all concerned, including the staff in the laboratory who actually put them together. They are going to let me know when those are ready. Probably after Christmas. Sigh.

But I’m so delighted that my new computer specs have two arms. One arm fell off my old ones about two weeks into Lockdown 1 and I’ve just been managing since then, in a slightly wonky way.

Have been reading lots too. Watched a film based on the true story of two East German families who built their own hot air balloon and eventually escaped to the West. Excellent. Now I’m reading Stasiland, written relatively recently, and since the Wall came down. Very good. I’m trying to understand the paranoia of the Stasi. Also some more Lee Child, and a Ruth Rendell I’ve just started.

Our Christmas tree is finally up, but just looks like a Christmas tree. Here’s a couple of festive photos though. I used a wreath former for the end photo, and knitted or crocheted all the bits and bobs. A few years ago now but I still love it. The beaded Father Christmas is from Hong Kong, I think, a long time ago. And the fox decoration is just interesting! Have the best few days you can, in whatever circumstances you find yourself in.

To The Wire

Wow but it’s been tense this last week. I live in the UK, but it feels like the whole world has been awaiting the results of the US election.

I am so relieved, just so relieved, that Biden and Kamala won. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, despite Trump’s blustery tweets (which seem to have gone very, very quiet this weekend).

There is of course a lot to deal with now, including how on earth it was such a close race.

Ho hum. I do have a lot more thoughts on this particular subject, but not sure it’s appropriate to share them right now, as there are a lot of people who will not be at all happy with the election result.

So what’s been going on here? at our house? well, I have a niece who is 40 years old today. Lockdown celebration of course, and her sister collated video messages from family and friends which she’s made into a delightful mixture. It’s just so lovely.

And last Sunday hubby had a birthday, so I made him a chocolate cake. Dairy free of course. It was, even though I say it myself, absolutely delicious. I baked it on the Saturday, but we couldn’t wait until the actual birthday to start on it, so we had some on Saturday . . . . And on Sunday evening, just before national lockdown, we went to Lambs of Sheep Street in Stratford upon Avon, which is a fabulous restaurant we go to regularly. Excellent. Hubby had steak, I had duck. Delicious. Then we went home and ate some more chocolate cake . . .

Then hubby’s very old MiniMac computer started playing up. It had Ubuntu installed on it, because one of the iOS updates broke it. At least Windows will tell you if an update is inappropriate (usually). But even with Ubuntu, it was failing. So now he has a Lenovo with an SSD. Runs like the wind. But it arrived with no DVD drive in it. I am in correspondence with Lenovo (We bought it direct from them) to find out why. I’d like them to send me the drive and I can fit it. I also want to know why the guarantee has only 8 months left on it, as we bought it this week. Hmph.

I’ve been sleeping a lot. I mean A Lot. Yesterday I woke at 2.30 pm, today I got up, had breakfast, and went back to bed again. Woke at 12.30, so I was able to at least shower and dress before hubby’s afternoon ziz.

All the Xmas presents are ready to be wrapped, labelled and parcelled up, but I just don’t have the oomph to actually do it. I’m intending to do it in stages, it’s just too much altogether otherwise. Even so. Maybe tomorrow morning. Our main postal service has started collecting parcels from your house, so that will help a lot.

Finally found some jeans I like. John Lewis. Yeah. The thing is, because they’re brand spanking new, it feels odd to wear them round the house! so I haven’t yet. But I will I’m sure when I’m feeling a bit more Rah! Rah!

Decided I would crochet some face / wash cloths, so am awaiting some lovely variegated yarn (Rainbow Cotton from Hobbii). It’ll make a change from knitting and won’t take long. Am awaiting a grandson’s measurements from his mum before I can continue knitting the jumper I started. Apparently he’s had a growth spurt, and is all arms and legs. Not sure I want to knit something that (a) he may not choose to wear and (b) won’t fit him even if he does adopt it. Hence the crochet project idea.

Trying to Stay Positive!

The knitting is going ok. I can’t knit for as long – I was doing two hours each night, with the odd half hour or so each day if I had the time. Now I can manage about three quarters of an hour. That’s fine though. It means that a bobble hat is taking me several evenings, instead of one or two, but it’s ok. I’m loving the colour (coral) and the chunkiness of the yarn. Discovered I hadn’t bought enough yarn to start with, so had to order some more, and asked if they could match the dye lot. They did! so shout out to LoveCrafts.

Having a few issues finding jeans I like. I don’t find rigid, 100% cotton jeans comfortable. I have had a rule for about 25 years that I don’t wear anything uncomfortable, ever, including shoes, even for a party. So rigid jeans are out. I have a couple of pairs of Not Your Daughters Jeans, which are comfy, but ridiculously expensive. I also have a couple of pairs of comfy Boden jeans, which were discontinued when I bought them cheap. I’ve tried two different sizes and two different styles of Lands End jeans, and just don’t like them. Am awaiting delivery of some John Lewis jeans, two different sizes. If those don’t suit, I’ll just give up, I think, and keep my eyes open. Sigh.

The shopping has just been delivered. We use disinfectant wipes to clean the bag handles and every single item delivered.

I have been awaiting an invitation for my annual flu jab. Nothing. And we’re almost in November. I can’t find a way of contacting the surgery except for phoning, which takes 45 minutes each time just to get through to a person. Luckily I needed to order some repeat prescriptions, and there’s a little comment box, so I put a note in there. It worked! Flu jab tomorrow and a blood test a week on Monday. Probably for the thyroid, they do a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test to ensure I’m on the right dose.

Last Christmas present due to be delivered today. Then I can start working out which boxes to use to send them all. Apparently Royal Mail are starting a pick-up service. Excellent news. No more queueing in the Post Office. You pre-pay the postage, which is already possible, then pay another 72p per parcel for the pick up, and book it. Five parcels maximum. Am going to investigate further to see when it actually starts.

The garden is a joy. Still waiting for the work to be done on trimming the leylandii, willow, lilac, winged spindle and the front lawn to be dug up and relaid.

Binge Reading

I’m on a roll at the moment. Maeve Binchy books for the most part, with something else in between for variety. I love her stuff. Love it. Currently reading Sandi Toksvig (Between the Stops, I think) and have also just read Val McDermid’s Northanger Abbey. It’s just so lovely to pick up my Kindle and feel as if I’m in a different world. The current real world is a bit depressing, to be honest.

We are also mid way through Season Two of The Bridge, which is an excellent Swedish/Danish collaborative series. It’s just so interesting that the various characters talk to each other in their own language and everybody seems to understand everybody else. I have been wondering whether it would be comparable to an English person conversing with somebody with a strong Scottish/Irish/Welsh accent and everybody just understanding. But Scotland, Ireland and Wales each have their own language too, so not quite the same.

Just had to water the pots in the garden. In the UK. In September. I know!

Sorted out the muddle in the craft room, where I currently have various birthday and Christmas gifts awaiting wrapping and posting.

Went through Mother’s commemorative coin collection – the Queen, Prince Philip (!), WWI, WWII, Peter Rabbit – and none of it complete. A whole box full of empty presentation folders. If I was remotely interested in any of it I’d have a proper look. Luckily I have a good friend whose husband sorted it out, and then I went through it to see what’s what. I expect somebody, somewhere will want it.

Slept all day yesterday. Not a great day. But the pain in my hands is slightly less, which is good. Strange feeling of ants under the skin where the injections went, though, but that seems to have passed.

Tomorrow my jobs are to post several parcels at the Post Office, get my prescription from the chemist and see if they have cheese sauce packets at the Co-op. Yeah, that’s it. But for me that’s quite a big task, so I have no other expectations for Monday.

Off to read my Sandi Toksvig book.

Little Things

Well, I was going to show you pictures of the shoes I dyed. But you can’t really tell the difference in photos. They were brown, and I dyed them black. You can see the difference in real life though. They’re Birkenstocks and very comfy, and I couldn’t find any other shoes I wanted to buy, so I dyed them instead. Very pleased with the result.

Yesterday I spent over an hour on hold on the phone. Forty five minutes to the doctors, and twenty minutes to the Department of Work and Pensions, who pay my benefit. Hubby gets really impatient and frustrated when he’s on hold, but I try not to. I play computer games instead. Crosswords, jigsaws, Solitaire.

It could be argued, and is regularly harrumphed about in our house, that it’s a deliberate government strategy to make everybody so cross about the NHS that private medicine becomes the preferred option. I’m sure that is the case. But we both strongly believe in a health service that is available free to those in clinical need.

I’ve started Christmas shopping. Yes, in September. I usually start about now. Amazon and Marks and Spencer do particularly well out of this household. The lists have been in progress from very early on in the year. All the teenage grandchildren get multi-shop vouchers now. Wish lists are only consulted for adults, and even then we sometimes use them as a basis for buying something else connected. There will be lots of parcels arriving shortly. (We also keep the Post Office and various other parcel delivery services in business.)

And Covid. What a mess. Government playing Whack a Mole again. I don’t understand why pubs are allowed to be open. It’s madness. I understand that it’s awful for businesses too but, surely to goodness, health comes first. Or so you would think. Mm.

Happy New Year!

Small update.

Horrible two-week long virus involving very sore throat, cough, sinusitis and feeling awful finally gone. Now in M.E. type exhaustion and sleeping practically all the time. Improving.

Christmas Day was lovely. Went to YD, having fetched Mother, and YD’s brother-in-law and young family were there. Food was excellent, had a delightful time and all four children were just sweet.

Brighton and Southampton, where we went on 27th to visit family, were also a delight. Weather was surprisingly mild and sunny.

 

No knitting mojo at all. None. Nope.

Had various plans for this week – bit of baking, into Solihull for a bit of voucher-spending, library books back, charity shop – not happening. Not this week anyway.

Have decided not to beat myself up for being tired. Just roll with it and sleep a lot.

Ooh. Also. Started a new thing. Am only allowing myself the recommended daily allowance of sugar. 30 gms. Sounds a lot, but I discovered I was getting through at least twice that amount. I’m still able to have chocolate, but a fraction of what I was eating! Feels ok so far. Day four today.

Yule.

Pretty pleased with this, to be honest. It’s all gone. We had family round on Saturday night, and it fed six people, then a slice each for hubby and me on Sunday. The little robins had to go in the bin, though. Tried washing them. Didn’t go well. Need to do something different next year . . .

IMG_20181222_133216633

Progress

Well. We had a leylandii hedge in the front garden dug up and the stumps ground out. I want to replant the area with Photinia Red Robin next spring, but need to get rid of the ivy first. So I’ve had a go at it but had to stop in the end. Looking better though. I can’t believe how deep the ivy roots go! next step,  when the ground is drier, is special strong ivy weedkiller. Mm.

Meanwhile, today I’ve cooked a Yule Log. My first ever. It’s cooling as I type, and I’ll make the filling soon and freeze it filled. I’ll ice it just before it’s served. We shall see.

I never, or at least hardly ever, knit more than one project at a time. However, I’m currently knitting Rowan’s “Whelk“, which is complicated, but I’m managing. So I need something mindless that I can do while watching TV (though I can’t knit at all when it’s subtitled and in a language I don’t speak – Swedish, say, or Danish!). I’m doing Sunny Baby Blanket by Lucy Sinkler. It’s the fourth one I’ve done, and they are lovely. Lots of stitch markers in both projects (colour coded in Whelk . . .) or I’d never cope!

Sunny Baby Blanket. Yarn – Style Batik Purple Mist. More grey than blue.

 

Whelk. Yarn: Rowan 100% Superwash Wool – Moonstone so very pale grey rather than blue.

Also need to finish wrapping and labelling the Christmas presents which need to be posted – one to the Republic of Ireland and one to France. Hoping to post them tomorrow, although the Post Office will be absolutely heaving. After my hairdo and lunch date with my friend Fiona, I think, so I don’t keep anybody waiting.

My computer is a bit flaky. I think it’s on its last legs. Sometimes it falls off the internet, though hubby’s doesn’t, sometimes the mouse won’t work, sometimes the keyboard won’t work. It is six and a half years old, and Windows 10 lost all the USB ports about three years ago, so I installed Linux Ubuntu. That always extends the life of a computer, because it is so much less resource-hungry than Windows, but even so. I’ve ordered a new one which is arriving today, so everything is backed up, printer driver downloaded and recommendations for antivirus sorted. It is quite exciting, but setting it all up takes a while.  I get cross with Windows because it’s so damn nosey and interfering and intrusive. Once I’ve dealt with all that nonsense it’s ok. Mm.

And I’m not even going to talk about the total omnishambles that is Brexit. Nope. No.

November!

Did my ironing this morning. All of it. Although I had to do it sitting down, as my stupid back is playing up. Painkillers, ice packs, phone call to osteopath tomorrow to see if I can bring forward the next appointment.

Had the leylandii at the back trimmed, and one of the leylandii hedges at the front cut down by half, so it’s just below the level of the roof of my car, which is an old Ford Ka. The other hedge at the front has been dug up and the stumps ground out. That was quite exciting to watch. Two men, fully kitted up in safety gear/helmets/goggles, with a large noisy machine, took approximately 10 minutes max! Now I just need to get as much of the thuggish ivy out of the soil as I can, weedkiller the rest, and see how it is next spring before I plant some more Photinia Red Robin, to match the little hedge at the front, parallel to the house.

Meanwhile, hubby decided to pollard the willow tree himself. Yes, himself. Worked, hard, all morning, up and down ladders with a saw, despite my bleating about stopping now, and did it all. Cut up the twiggy bits and fitted them all into the green wheelie bin. But he then had (heart) “symptoms”  for three days. I was very worried and a bit cross. It is frustrating not to be able to do the stuff you used to do easily. It is. But still. I’ve had years to come to terms with it (slipped a disc 43 years ago) so I do know how difficult and limiting it is. But harrumph. And of course he’s fine now.

Wasn’t able to knit for a couple of weeks – arthritis in my hands. But I’m ok now and nearly finished the Festival shawl (dark grey Gossypium and white/cream Paradou). It’s lovely and easy enough to knit (though not while I’m watching subtitled Swedish programmes!) and I will be pleased with it when it’s done. Next up, Whelk vest top for hubby, in pale grey Rowan yarn. Need to do a sample tension square, because the pattern is for DK, and the yarn I have is worsted. Not much difference, but enough to check first. Also need to check I’m ok with the pattern . . . . .

Have treated myself, after watching Black Earth Rising, to a cuff earring with two chains attached to a small stud. The heroine of said programme wore one, and looked stunning. I won’t look anything like her, of course, she’s about 6 ft tall, black, muscular and slim. Ah well. I do like it though. Hubby thinks it’s weird. Don’t care.

Christmas – presents all done. Not wrapped yet though. And I need to get my act together with regard to cooking. Planning a Yule Log, so need to practise with an ordinary Swiss Roll (tomorrow). Also need to do a carrot cake and a bakewell raspberry slice. And some mince pies (bought pastry, bought mincemeat, just need to put them together . . .)


This and that.

I did my ironing today. Nothing remarkable about that, you might think. However, there didn’t seem to be very much. I have promised myself I won’t leave it longer than one week, or else it just piles up so much I can’t face it. But there were four tops and one pair of trousers. Hmm. Odd, I thought. When I packed everything away, I’d dropped a serviette, so thought I’d do that next time. As I popped it into the basket in the utility room, I saw the rest of my ironing. Yeah. What a doofus. Ah well. I did half of my ironing today.

Also re-made the home-made sleep masks, as they were too tight and crunched my ears. That was quite satisfying.

Waiting for quotes for leylandii trimming, willow tree polling and a further leylandii hedge (full of ivy, tree saplings and generally a pain to maintain) digging up at the front (to be replaced with a photinia Red Robin hedge).

Very windy and rainy today. Apparently it’s storm Callum. What a ridiculous name for a storm. It’s like calling it Colin, or Henry, or something nice and kind. Ho hum.

Knitting is going ok. All the Christmas stuff is done (not doing very much Christmas knitting this year, it can be too stressful). Here’s a couple of gnomes, aka wizards. Am now doing myself a “mistake rib” scarf in coral coloured cotton. Mm. Easy to do and looks quite complicated. That’s my kind of knitting. Also here’s a photo of the puffin I knitted.

 

Had my flu jab on Monday. Sore arm is all, much better than the flu. Also need blood test for potential polymyalgia, but will do that next week so that the results are not skewed by the flu jab.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Have any of you heard of Lillian Bilocca? I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t until I watched the tv programme with Maxine Peake. She was a brave, difficult woman, who managed to get enough support to make trawlermen’s lives at sea much safer 50 years ago. Here‘s a link to her Wikipedia page. I feel so sad that she had such a dreadful time after she’d achieved her aims (working radio on board, qualified radio operator, full crew on every trawler, proper training for crew, and mother-ship with medical supplies and staff on board). Good for her, say I. The zeitgeist at the time was testosterone-fuelled machismo, domestic violence was the norm, and women didn’t “interfere” with men’s work. Until 58 men in 3 trawlers were lost at sea in a matter of weeks, one January and February. Then Lillian (Big Lil) did interfere. Mm. And made a huge difference. Trawlermen were safer, presumably insurers didn’t have to pay out so much, so often, and the owners , despite the extra expense involved in the “charter”, were better off too (I assume).