Christmas Eve

We don’t do religion at all, so for us it’s a sort of mid-winter beanfeast. We do gifts for our loved ones, phone those we don’t get to see, and make contact one way or another via technology. We have roast turkey on Christmas Day, and open our presents, and generally have a very jolly time. Just us this year which is wonderful. All those fraught difficult years with my difficult mother are gone. Nothing to worry about. Except cooking the turkey, which hubby does. I do everything else. Gifts, wrapping, posting, tree, decorating, baking. I made some mince pies which I finished off today – will make some more next week. Frozen dairy free pastry, shop-bought filling, but somehow the process makes them look and taste home-made. Result.

Today I made an apple cake (Nadiya Hussein recipe) and got into such a mess with it. The whole kitchen seemed to be covered in sticky stuff. But it’s all cleaned up now, the dishwasher (thank goodness for dishwashers) is running, and it’ll all be fine.

Yesterday I did my ironing. Wednesday ES came to stay with his youngest son, and that was lovely. Wednesday I sorted our landline and made a trifle (premade, dairy-free frozen sponge base, frozen mixed fruit, shop-bought soya milk custard).

Sorting out the landline was slightly fraught. We are in the process of leaving Virgin Media and have signed up with Vodafone, for half the price. We wanted to keep the same phone number, and on Monday we had no phone line. This does happen from time to time with Virgin, so I left it a couple of days, then phoned up and managed to speak to an actual person, who was very helpful. Turns out that Vodafone now have the number. So I plugged the phone into the Vodafone router and hey presto! it worked. Maybe, just maybe, Virgin or Vodafone could have let us know they were doing that two weeks before the contract with Virgin finished . . . just saying.

Next Monday (26th) we’re off to Malvern for a walk with YS, his wife and their Spanador puppy. Can’t wait to meet him!

Then later in the week ED plus hubby and son are coming to visit for a couple of days. They stay in an apartment in the middle of Birmingham which works well for them. Very excited.

So I wish you all a very happy holiday and a much, much better new year. Mazel Tov, and l’chaim (good luck and to life!).


Oldest son and his wife came up to stay with us last week. On the Friday they took us out for a meal, and we did know youngest son and his two offspring would be there. We were first to arrive, and they said Oh yes, table for 11. I thought Hmm, wonder if the Irish contingent are going to appear. And they did! middle son, wife and little boy! what a lovely evening!

I discovered last night when I got ready for bed I had been wearing non-matching earrings all day. Nobody said anything. I guess nobody noticed . . . once when I was still working I had two pairs of shoes exactly the same, one pair in navy blue, the other pair in black, and of course one day I ended up wearing one of each – again, nobody noticed! thank goodness, I would have really taken some stick (been teased) had anybody realised . . . .

And today everybody has gone back to their various homes.

At the end of this coming week Older Daughter is coming up with hubby and son. Excellent. It’s so lovely to see the family.


Of a sort, anyway. The pain in my hand is almost negligible now, and I hardly need any painkillers. Still stiff and a bit swollen, but I have my exercises which I do several times a day and physio tells me I’m doing really well.

However, I’m still not regaining the weight. 8st 6lbs now. Saw the doctor who arranged blood tests and a stool sample test, so am waiting for the result of those.

I feel generally better but am still very tired and it seems to be taking a long time to go away. Surgery was on 21 July, so nearly 3 1/2 months ago. But then I’m older now and really don’t react well to general anaesthesia. Ho hum.

The garden is a delight. Just beautiful. And very busy with birds! Nuthatches, sparrows, blue tits, great tits, wrens, and the occasional greater spotted woodpecker. I do love Autumn.

We have family all over the place – Dublin, Southampton, New Zealand, and friends in France, so I’ve been busy wrapping Christmas parcels (a few birthdays in there too!). Got a good routine now and lots of boxes piled up in the study awaiting further attention.

On Monday it was hubby’s birthday. So last week his son (who lives in Dublin) came over as a surprise with his wife and little boy. I knew about it but was sworn to secrecy. Managed to keep the surprise until we actually got to the restaurant, and he was just so pleased to see them. Also, his son who lives in Malvern came along with his daughter. Just lovely.

I’m late to the party I expect, but have recently discovered new authors. John Sandford, Tony Kent and Zoe Sharp. Absolutely unputdownable. All of them. I’m delighted to discover that there are lots and lots of the John Sandford and Zoe Sharp books. Can’t wait for Tony Kent to write another one. And Lynda La Plante has introduced a new protagonist, Jack Warr. Also very very good. Meanwhile I’m reading John Le Carre’s final book, Silverview. I am enjoying it but it’s a bit confusing. Nearly at the end/denouement now. Mm.

Holiday and Knitting

Just back from a fabulous week at Center Parcs (Woburn). Hubby and I went on Friday, both daughters plus partners plus babies came for the weekend and went home on Monday, and then we stayed till last Friday. Absolutely excellent. The two children don’t see a lot of each other, as one (nearly 2) lives in Southampton, and the other (9 months old) near us in Solihull, but they were clearly very taken with each other. Lots of enthusiasm, lots of eye contact (and pointing from the baby), and it was just lovely.

Center Parcs involves a lot of walking, for me, because I am absolutely useless on a bike. Last time I rode a bike I broke a rib falling off. Not great. They do apparently hire out tricycles for adults (clumsy klutzes) like me, which might be a possibility if we go to Center Parcs again.

It’s lovely (though absolutely exhausting) walking in the forest – lots of grey squirrels, and even a hare, who clearly couldn’t care less that he was being watched closely, a lot. I have never been that close to a hare in my life. It was so exciting!

I ate far too much. YD made a fabulous Victoria sponge with jam filling – OMG to die for! and I’d taken a carrot cake, which was also pretty good. Chocolate, biscuits, just went for it. So now I’m being much more careful. Eating the same at mealtimes, just cutting right down on cake, biscuits and chocolate, before I turn into a big fat biffer.

We fetched Bertie The Cat from the cattery on the way home and she is just so happy to be back in her little domain. Friday she was very vocal and demanding, but settled down by the evening and is now happily purring away in one of her preferred warm spots. And is much happier to be cuddled than usual! not quite so busy and important . . .

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I have learned two new knitting techniques. Well, in reality, one is a crochet technique. It’s called Tunisian Crochet, or Afghan Crochet, and is a mixture of knitting and crochet done on one long hook. The fabric is quite firm and thick and is good for things like bags, outerwear, cushion covers, and I’m likely to start with something small like coffee coasters. Very pleased.

The second technique is for knitting in the round (tubes with no seams) and is called Magic Loop. I have been trying for years to master this one. I can’t handle double pointed needles, I’m all fingers and thumbs, so I knit in the round with two circular needles. It has occurred to me several times that this technique is very similar to Magic Loop. My younger daughter showed me how to do it (Magic Loop) on holiday, and I had a go and it actually clicked in my brain. So now I’m knitting the sleeves of a small baby jacket (Puerperium) in the round with Magic Loop. The advantage of this over two circular needles is that there are only two needle tips to worry about, instead of four. The current project is in stocking stitch, so no worries about how many stitches are on each half of the cable, but the next challenge will be Magic Loop with a pattern . . .

Also have some Erika Knight Gossypium cotton dk which is absolutely fabulous to knit with. I’m doing a Seafoam scarf for me in cream, on 5.5 mm needles to make it even bigger and looser. Loving it.

Almost all the Christmas shopping is done. I’ve always been a bit early doing such things, and start thinking seriously about any knitting I’m going to do for gifts in May. I start actually buying presents in September, so come December it’s just not so fraught. Hubby used to wait until 23rd/24th December, go into Birmingham, and do it all in one day. I just couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t. I even have a spreadsheet where birthday/Xmas presents are listed by recipient, going back to 2010, the idea being that I don’t duplicate year on year. A bit nerdy, I know, but I’m ok with that. I need order in my life, it feels calmer and easier.

I think that’s probably it for now!


Been to meet new baby Logan. Delightful. Mother and father absolutely wonderful with him. Mother (ED) is a natural. Breastfeeding really well, loads of milk, very contented baby. Sleep deprived parents though 😦 but that’s normal with a new baby. It’s just so lovely to see such a happy new little family. Lucky, lucky baby. He has just the best start in life anybody could ask for.

ED is so brave, and so strong, and such a natural mother. She had a horrible time in hospital, but is playing that down. She’s never been in hospital before, ever. She’s healing well and looking fabulous. Logan’s Dad is wonderful with him. So natural and calm. Despite Logan yanking out a handful of chest hair immediately after birth! bless them both!

And I do love very small babies. They just smell so nice. They’re soft and warm and cute and like a little parcel, ready for cuddling. Logan has downy dark hair all over his legs! so smooshy. He has his mother’s family’s top lip! and his dad’s nose!

And here’s a couple of photos. Three, to be precise. I’m trying not to saturate the internet with baby photos! but he’s just so lovely.

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The journey down to the south coast was excellent. Fine, sunny day, no traffic problems. We found our hotel no problems, checked in, then off to visit grandchild. Premier Inn – can recommend without hesitation. Excellent value. Lovely room, comfortable bed, really good. Dinner at Prezzo in Eastleigh, watched some AlJazeera news – very interesting, different perspective. Their weather forecast was a little odd though. Australasia and the Far East. Erm?

Fabulous breakfast, then back to visit grandchild again. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Lots of cuddles, like Saturday, with both me and Grandad. Never thought I’d see the day.

And today his other Grandad is going to visit. A baby can’t have too many people to love it, in my view. A happy, happy time for us all.


The weather is changing. Suits me fine, but hubby’s finding it a bit chilly. Not quite cold enough for the central heating, but he’s pottering around in his me-knitted slipover. I’m still in t-shirts.

What a busy summer we’ve had. Absolutely wonderful, though.

ES plus his three delightful children came to stay for a few days at the end of July. Umberslade Farm Park was perfect for all six of us, really enjoyed it. Rocky rode on a pony! we all stroked various animals, and wondered at the humming noise the alpacas make.

Lincoln for a few days beginning of August. To the Cathedral, which despite our anti-religion stance, is a beautiful building. And a choir started singing as we went in! magical. A peregrine falcon was shrieking round the bell tower which was exciting. I nearly got locked in the toilet. So that was exciting too in a different way. We stayed at Stoke Rochford Hall, which if you are a member of the NUT (as is hubby) is discounted. Excellent, just excellent. A stately home in fabulous grounds. Very peaceful and relaxing.


I’ve treated myself to two new pairs of shoes. Birkenstocks. Just discovered they do proper shoes as well as sandals and clogs. They are the only shoes I can wear without pain. The medics wanted to operate on my poor old feet but I cancelled the op when the date came through, in the hope and belief that these shoes will do me for wintertime. Very excited.


Whilst in Lincoln, I developed a black eye. No injury, no impact, nothing. It just came up during the day. Went to the doctor, who arranged blood tests (4 vials – jeez!) and there is something up, but I don’t know what yet. Back to GP on Wednesday to find out. The black/purple has almost gone now, thank goodness. Ugly and embarrassing.


Then YS’s two lovely children came to stay for a few days – and Umberslade Farm Park was wonderful for us all too! a falconry display, no less. A barn owl, an eagle owl (fabulous!) and a Harris Hawk. Amazing. So interesting.


Today I’ve cut back dead poppies and dicentras, deadheaded buddleias and tidied up the wistaria and the golden hop. Much tidier and nicer to look at. Our garden isn’t very big, but it feels green, lush and peaceful.

Yesterday went to Martin & Jacky’s (two Labour party activist friends of ours) to watch Spirit of ’45 and have lunch. The film is an absolute must. Really, really interesting, and I found it quite emotional in places too. Took a choc-chip coffee cake and a carrot cake, which went down a storm!

And apropos of nothing, if you have time, please take a look at this. It’s my friend Ben’s blog. He’s talented, interesting, knowledgeable, very artistic, has had knitting designs published, and I do worry about him.

And here we are again.

Summer appears to be here, however fleeting it may be. Hooray! not too hot, just sunny, breezy and generally pleasant.

Spent the weekend in Brighton with ES, MS (Eldest Son, Middle Son) and their families. Excellent. A wonderful time was had by all.

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I’m absolutely knackered now, of course, even though hubby did the driving. Have spent hours and hours asleep in the day. But am starting to feel slightly more human, now. (It’s Wednesday today). Even managed a little gardening this morning. Love my garden.




Also love strawberry season (his – ice cream & hers – sugar). Yum.

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  • woke at 9.15 am. Sat under my light box for 15 minutes whilst perusing facebook, twitter, the news, the weather and my emails on my phone.
  • Downstairs at 9.30 ish. Bowl of own-brand Shreddies (we avoid Nestle like the plague when we can) with soya milk.
  • Played on the computer for a while, sorting out bank accounts, yarn ordering, and bending my brain round a crossword or two. Only quick ones, really can’t handle the cryptic ones.
  • Spent a happy half hour in the garden, cutting the hardy geraniums back to the soil. The ones in the back garden are ok for another week or so.
  • Came in, had a cup of tea, sat and rested for a while.
  • Had lunch. New routine for lunch – was horrified at my back view in the sea in Brighton, and I already knew I’m 7 lbs overweight. So no more bread rolls. Ryvita instead. Loving the Mediterranean herbs flavour. Also no more weekday chocolate. At all. Not even one cube.
  • Back to bed at 2 pm for a two hour sleep.
  • Made another cup of tea and am now doing my blog!

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59 years old

Today is my birthday. It’s cold, wet, and windy. But it’s March, in the UK, so it would be really. But the daffodils are out, the crocuses are still pretty, and the tulips are trying their best.

And I have had a wonderful day. Lots of chocolate, a pile of new books to read, a new Kindle (old one is dying!), and visits/phone calls from the family. Lovely.

Finished a jacket I have been knitting. It’s a Bergère de France pattern, Veste Courte from magazine 159. It’s knitted in Magic +, which is Aran weight. It took 9 weeks. I had finished the back when I noticed a mistake and had to unravel it as far as the beginning of the  armhole shaping. Also had to redo some of one of the fronts, and redo the shoulder decreases so that the number of stitches was right for the patterning on the collar. So it’s been an adventure, but at no point did I get upset, or tearful about it. Here’s a photo of me wearing it.


My next project is Octopush, which is a set of 8 blocks, made from 2″ cubes of foam, covered with knitting, in a particular configuration. Here‘s a link so that you can see what it’s supposed to do. Scroll down to see an animated gif. I’ve done one cube so far.

I have lots of projects in my head, and lots of yarn in my stash. But not enough projects for all of it . . . . which makes it exciting, because there are unplanned possibilities still to be explored!

Back to normality.

The kitchen has stayed exactly the same. There is more tiddling about to do, but I have been so busy!

On Hallowe’en hubby’s ES and his three children came to stay. ES took so much trouble – a bowl of custard and a bowl of porridge, both with “things” in – tinned peach slices, plastic spiders, worms, etc – for them to feel through holes in a cardboard box, in low lighting, one at a time. All four had faces painted to look scary – 2 x zombies, lizard, and scary doll. I don’t need bags painted under my eyes, I have my own.

It was absolutely lovely. The children are always a joy, and ES is fun, good company, and easy to be around.

Then on Friday it was hubby’s birthday, and what a delight to have family to celebrate with. On Saturday, YS and the other two grandchildren came, and the two children stayed overnight. We all went out for a meal which was great fun. Not much sleeping was done by children, but that’s what happens on sleepovers when you have two 12 year-olds and two 9 1/2 year-olds. The four year old slept though!

Healthwise – am having physiotherapy on my wonky hands, and it seems to be helping. ECG tomorrow to make sure my heart is ok. Cholesterol, after four months of drastically reduced cheese intake, had gone up from 6.1 to 6.8. Gaaaagh! so I’m continuing with the reduced cheese thing, have given up goat yoghurt with jam and have bought soya flavoured pretend yoghurts instead, and am having porridge for breakfast, made with oats and soya milk. It’s delicious. Will see how that affects the cholesterol. Bah.

My back, however, for the last week, has been horrible. Very painful. Painkillers, hot packs, cold packs, today osteopath (and she wants to see me next week as well, because there is swelling from waist to hips), and have taken two Tramadol today, which always help. A lot. And I can take two Paracetamol at 6 pm then two more Tramadol at bedtime, which should mean tomorrow is much better.

Knitting – ups and downs. Was knitting a lovely shawlette for a Christmas present, but the yarn wasn’t very good. It was expensive, but looked like it was pilling as I knitted it. Sent a photo to the suppliers, who refunded me straight away. I was very impressed with their service, but now don’t have time to knit the shawlette for said Christmas present. But I have another idea, so that’s ok. And will start that particular present earlier next year, with different yarn.

Crochet workshop yesterday – granny squares. I was able to do them, but now I’m able to do better ones. And triangles! Triangles, no less! very pleased.

Went to Stitch & Sip today.  I’ve knitted almost all of a little hooded top for a baby, but am having problems with the second sleeve. Twice I’ve got to the top, then had to rip it all the way down to the cast off for the decreasing. But I know what I’ve been doing wrong, and should get that done tonight. So when I came home from Stitch, I had less knitting than when I started! but it was fun anyway.

That’s about it for now, more when there is more to tell.

just a quick one

Nearly finished painting the kitchen. So far it’s taken me 10 days. But I can only do about an hour a day, so it’s taking much longer than I expected, and is much harder work and more complicated than I expected. I needed to use three coats of primer just to cover the horrible peach.

Tomorrow I’m going to retouch the three walls I’ve done, then Tuesday I’m hoping to do the final wall, which is a different colour. I don’t do any at the weekend, because the room is constantly in use, and hubby does all the cooking. (I do all the baking). It’s looking ok so far. Photos when I’ve finished.

We’re expecting a humungous wind and rain storm tonight/tomorrow morning. Trains are cancelled, all sorts of panicking going on.  Headline news. Thank goodness we don’t have to go out in it. We have a willow tree in the garden, but I’m hoping it’ll be ok because I think the roots go very deep to get all the water it needs. I guess it will be much worse at the coast, and my cousin in Cornwall can hear the sea roaring, even though they don’t actually live that near the shore.

Expecting family this week – three grandchildren + ES Thursday – Sunday, other two grandchildren + YS (youngest son) Saturday, and we’ll have all five children to stay over till Sunday, when we’ll return them to Malvern. Exciting. All the beds are made, all the baking is done and in the freezer, and the cupboards/freezers are bulging with food.  😀

That’s it. Photos and news as it happens . . . .