May. Yeah.

The kitchen is finished, and hubby loves the induction hob. It’s great to have it done – it was only a few days of disruption but we have had another “sort-out/cull” and so everything is tidy now. Trouble is, neither of us can remember where we’ve put anything . . .

The induction hob was fitted after I took this photo . . .

YD, her hubby and their little girl have just gone back to New Zealand after a month here. They split their time between his family and hers. It was just so lovely to be able to cuddle them. ESW is an absolute joy. She even likes my little songs (The Welly Song, the Nancy Lee, etc etc). Their journey was better on the way back – Birmingham to Frankfurt, then to Changhi in Singapore, then to Auckland in NZ. On the way here it was fraught. They’re homesick though – they couldn’t get over how “normal” and familiar everything is, including friends and family. Decisions to be made.

The garden is a joy. Love it.

The M.E. has taken a new turn. Now, when I have an episode, my tummy joins in the party, in an IBS sort of a way. But now I’ve worked that out I can remain a bit more positive, knowing that it will pass. I am eating a diet suitable for IBS, and have discovered something called FODMAP (don’t ask what it stands for). Low FODMAP foods are better for me, so no brassicas, only 3 portions of fruit/veg per day, lots of porridge oats, much less processed meat (oh, sausages, I miss you!) and it seems to be helping.

No knitting mojo. None at all. Several weeks now since I picked up my needles. I expect it’ll return. It usually does.

Finally had the front lawn sown with clover. It’s growing well. We also have a little rockery now intended to stop lorries and vans from reversing over our lawn. It looks ok too!

February!

I’ve been able to knit a little, which feels so lovely. Here’s a picture of the tension gauge square I did for the cardigan I’m knitting.

The garden is coming to life. Love it.

Here is a story about a log.

The cat goes to kennels when we go away, and in each cat pen they have a real log for the cats to scratch. What a good idea, I thought. Maybe that might stop her ruining our carpet. I kept my eyes open. One day, on my small walk, I saw some tree surgeons cutting down and chipping trees. I asked if they could spare one of their logs, and they said yes that’s fine. So I lugged it home, scrubbed it down, and put it in the corner on a towel so that the cat could scratch it.

Next thing, hubby informs me he cannot stand it. We are not living with a log in the room. Apparently. It looks awful. Imagine my glee (it was quite heavy). After a short while (!) we discussed it again, and we agreed it’s a bit big, and needs sawing down by a foot or so (30 cm ish). When hubby moved it into the garden to do this, he discovered it’s oozing sap. Yes it is, it’s fresh. So now it’s in the garden, weathering, and hopefully oozing all its sap before we get it cut down. I’m going to ask the gardener chappies if they could bring a power saw one day.

Hmph.

The old M.E./C.F.S has reared its ugly head and involved several days asleep in bed. I’m being much stricter with myself about how much I do and when. We shall see.

Also, picked up my new glasses. Very pleased.

Progress, sort of

I have just finished the second tension sample for the cardigan. Yes. Just. Normally it takes me an evening to knit up a sample square. Hey ho. Well, that one is too big too. I’m going to have to do another one on slightly smaller needles. Ho hum.

Went to Brighton the weekend before Christmas to see family. We stay in a lovely hotel in Bramber, which is right next to an old castle and church. It’s really nice and there is parking! which is an issue in Brighton. It’s about 15 minutes away in the car from ES. The only fraught thing about the whole weekend was charging the electric car. The infrastructure is simply appalling. Even when you find a charging point, you’re lucky if a) it’s working and b) there’s no queue. And it was cold!Christmas Day was wonderful. Just hubby and me. No worrying about the Appalling Mother any more. Just lovely food, gifts (of which more in a moment), siesta and relaxation generally.

One of the things hubby gave me was a paraffin wax bath for my wonky hands. Sometimes used by beauty salons, they are good for arthritic and painful hands. I had a go with it yesterday – takes some setting up the first time, as you have to wait for 3 x 1 lb blocks of paraffin wax to melt, but it was worth it. It’s very hot – 50-55o C – so you just dip the painful part in and take it straight out again, wait for the paraffin to set, and dip again. About 6 – 10 times is recommended. It is so soothing. The paraffin wax just peels off, and you can discard it, but as I’m the only person using it, I’m reusing the wax.

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Both the physio and the surgeon have discharged me from the hospital – 5 months after the operation.

It should continue to improve hopefully. Still a little swollen and quite stiff but I can manage most things.

Watching some excellent tv – Succession series 3, The Great series 2, the films Spencer, and The Power of the Dog. Wonderful drama. Spencer is about Diana (of course) and takes place one Christmas. The stuffiness and insistence on adherence to tradition, however dreadful, is claustrophobic. Some characters are invented, but make a strong point. Charles is portrayed as completely hidebound by the rules, but not a bad chap overall. Diana is portrayed as being very unhappy, resentful of Camilla Parker-Bowles (the mistress), unsurprisingly having mental health problems, and a wonderful mother. The Power of the Dog is a Western of a very different type from usual. Shot in New Zealand, directed by Jane Campion, it’s very very good. Dark and powerful.

Also last night watched Billy Connolly’s “My Absolute Pleasure”. He’s nearly 80 now, has Parkinson’s, and is such a lovely, lovely man. His sense of humour is delightful. I just love him to bits.

Hubby has gone into Solihull to spend some Christmas vouchers. Also he doesn’t feel comfortable being in the house when the cleaners are here. So I’m doing this, he’s in Solihull, and the cleaners are cleaning.

I’ve ordered myself a “monocular”. I can’t see through binoculars because of the stupid double vision, but I can see through a monocular. The plan is that when I see an interesting looking bird through the window I can grab it and actually see what’s going on. Mm. We shall see.

Not terribly pretty, but yum!

Made an apple and almond cake for Christmas. Hubby doesn’t actually like fruit cake. This is a recipe from Nadiya Hussain, who is just wonderful. I didn’t use olive oil for the icing though, just dairy free butter cream. And for Christmas I did white glace icing so it looks a bit more Christmassy. It’s absolutely delicious. Quite rich though. Even I can only manage one slice per day. But Oh. My. Days. it’s yummy.

I had to get a new computer in the end. The motherboard was clearly in distress. Strange random beeping noises and kept falling off the internet, when everything else in the house was fine. Hm. And managed to work out it is 3 years old. Not old for a personal/domestic computer, but the industry standard when I was working in tech (20 years ago now I know!) was to replace workstations every three years. So I’m on Windows 11 now. Had to tweak it a bit because it was quite slow, and took me a whole day to install it – which is usual, I will say, for Windows. But I’d backed everything up, so haven’t lost any data, so am fairly smug about it. I just need to nuke the old hard drive and Freecycle it – with clear warnings about the dodgy motherboard.

Hubby uses his Virgin email address and it wouldn’t work the other day. Eventually after much faffing about I discovered that it was locked for some unfathomable reason. So I ran a virus check (clear) and managed finally to change his password. After an hour it magically unlocked itself. FFS. What is that about? Damned blasted technology. But I think I won, even if I don’t know what happened. Mm.

And here is a photo of our cat. Just because.

And a very Happy New Year to you all.

Winter is almost here

Today I did some baking. They’re called Empire biscuits (I don’t like even the word “empire) but they look lovely. Yet to be tasted . . . .

Hubby put up three wicker nest “boxes” at various points around the garden. The other day we were absolutely delighted to spot a little wren going in and out of one of them! excellent! however, as the photos show, I have a wildlife camera situated immediately above it. Now I dare not touch that particular camera because I don’t want to frighten the wrens. And that camera has the best view of both the bird feeding stations. Humph. I’ll just have to wait until any baby birds have fledged and then see where I could move it to.

Slowly starting to knit again. I’m doing a sample tension square, and normally I do one of those in an hour or so. It’s taking me ages and ages. Must be two weeks since I started it, but I can only knit two or three rows at a time – and there are only 28 stitches! ho hum. It still feels nice to be knitting again though.

(It’s actually a dark, garnet red)

I have a yellow rose, much beloved, that my sister gave me for my 60th birthday. It struggled with black spot this year but after some treatment came back fighting, and now there are buds trying to bloom despite the frost. Love it.

Not much happening, but . . .

Japanese Acer turned brilliant red in the autumn.

When I bought this years ago it was a twig. A tiny little twig. It’s in a pot so I can keep the soil ericaceous as that’s what it likes. It’s just outside the patio door so it’s protected by the house on one side and the fence behind it. I just love it. It needs very little maintenance. Every other year I scrape off the grit and top compost and put new ericaceous compost on top.

Still not started knitting yet – I have settled on a pattern and some yarn (Bergere de France Ecoton in this colour). I’ve gone off the original pattern I bought the yarn for, and found another pattern. (I prefer the shawl collar in this one). Then realised I needed more yarn. Luckily you can order from Bergere de France by dye lot number! which is excellent. However, what has happened now is that the extra yarn has arrived, but the original yarn has not. Apparently their system removes my house number from the label, so it’s probably gone back to the factory. In France. Yeah. Still, I’m enjoying the anticipation. And the colour of the yarn is even better in real life than I’d hoped. Mm.

Youngest granddaughter has lost her first tooth! Her mum has made a special pouch for the tooth so that the tooth fairy can find it easily. Her cousin (who lives in Southampton) is a year older than she is, and he decided to keep all his baby teeth in a box, so he can throw them at people should he want to. Love it.

Yesterday I made a cake. Different from my usual – a recipe from Nadiya Hussain. It’s apple and almond, dairy free. It was really good. My last efforts (muffins) eventually went mouldy, they were so dreadful. But this is nice. May well make it again. In fact, just thinking about it I want to eat some! but will wait till I’ve had my lunch.

Mixed Results

Had a blood test last week. Our doctor’s surgery has a website you can log in to and have a look at your results. So I did. The good news is that my thyroid levels are fine, and the cholesterol level is better than it’s been for 20 years. Still a little high, but much better. I’m guessing that’s down to giving up dairy altogether.

However, there are several results which are “abnormal” so I have to have a repeat test next week. My red blood cells are too big, and my iron levels are low. I don’t understand any of the other results which are dodgy, so will wait and see what happens. If the doctors want to do anything, they’ll phone me. If they don’t, I’ll arrange a telephone appointment to discuss the endless sleeping.

Today has been a medium day. I have managed to get up, washed and dressed, make a chocolate fudge brownie thing, and eat lunch, but it was touch and go. I’m ready for bed now.

Not doing any handicrafts at all, but just reading a knitting magazine and thinking about crafting helps a bit.

Here are some photos to cheer things up a bit. The flowers in the vase are what’s left still in bloom after our 21st wedding anniversary last weekend. Yeah.

Sunshine

Always makes me feel better. I even managed to stay out of bed until now, and have also been for a very short walk. Excellent.

The difference between the days when I feel like this, compared to the bad days, is stark. It’s hard to know whether it’s the M.E./CFS, or the remains of the virus from last week, or what. But I am just sleeping when I need to, and that seems to work.

The sycophantic, over-the-top, repetitive coverage the BBC has provided on Philip is just too much. He was 99 years old! brave, strong, difficult, racist and totally lacking in empathy, but that’s about it really. I expect Liz is sad though, she really liked him. I spent some time amusing myself by allotting a nickname to each Royal, in the vein of Ethelred the Unready, or Edward the Confessor, or Charles the Bold (or was it Bald?). I don’t think I’ll share them with you though. Don’t want to get into trouble for insulting the Royals. 🙄 But we are republicans in this house (in the British sense!) and would like to elect our leaders, instead of this heredity nonsense.

Have undone all my knitting. I’d gone off the scarf I was doing in mistake rib, it hurts to knit, and I went off the colours too. Instead I’ve crocheted a tea-infuser cosy for hubby, which he seems to like, and then had to not do any handicrafts for a few days. Today I’ve had a first go at latch-hooking. I can’t believe how long it took me to get the hang of it. The tremor doesn’t help, nor does the stupid brain. Finally, after watching a YouTube video, I twigged. Not something I can do without concentrating though. Yeah.

Line of Duty (BBC TV series about an anti-corruption police department) is absolutely gripping. Love it. No spoilers though.

We also finished watching Season 5 of Better Call Saul. Oh. My. Days. Can’t wait for Season 6. Then of course we’ll need to watch Breaking Bad again.

And now it’s bed time. Siesta every day. Reading a Stella Rimmington book – she’s very good.

Modest Goal Achieved

Yes. I actually got up, showered, washed my hair And Got Dressed today. First time since Sunday. Hubby and I both seem to have some sort of virus. Not Covid, but we’re both tired and very floppy. We had been to the recycling centre on Friday. You have to book a slot, and we were both masked and gloved, but it’s the only place I can imagine we caught anything.

Dairy: I have a “Milk Ladder” pictogram, but am seriously thinking of not doing it. For one thing, I feel loads less bloated and have no tummy ache now I’m off all dairy, and have lost 6lbs in weight.

Handicrafts: tried, and failed spectacularly, to convert some skinny jeans to straight jeans. I’d got the inserts ready and everything, but after spending hours and hours and hours struggling, getting fraught, sweaty, and my hands protesting loudly, I gave up. The net result was one pair of jeans with the leg seams undone. Bought a new pair instead. Yeah. Just tried them on and they are FAB so I have ordered two more pairs. My current jeans are old and starting to fall apart, even though (or maybe because) I love them, so need new ones. The pair which has arrived is going in the wash tomorrow.

Not been able to knit or crochet for weeks now. I have a telephone appointment with the doctor tomorrow, so hopefully will end up being referred to the specialist. I also have pins and needles in the fourth and pinky fingers of my right hand, as well as the arthritis, and pain from the bottom knuckle of my thumb down to my wrist. At least three different things going on there. Hmm. Left hand is starting to hurt too. Oh joy.

The weather is cold and it is snowing intermittently, in a desultory way. It’s not sticking, though.

We have seen some seriously good films. The Irishman – an Irish guy who gets involved with The Mafia. Long (three and a half hours) but very involving. The Two Popes – Benedict XVI and Francis – loved it. Particularly loved all the different languages you get to hear (French, Italian, Spanish, Latin) – although my Latin is rusty to say the least! The Popes are played by two British actors (Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce) so it was a joy to hear them say how exhausting it is to speak English – so many rules and so many exceptions! Also Mary Queen of Scots. Very good. Very well done. Not exactly historically accurate, but hey, it’s a film. It’s not meant to be.

Had to go back to bed this morning for another little sleep. Got up, dressed etc, and had some lunch. Now I’m sitting doing this with a cup of tea. May need yet another sleep this pm but decided I would just do what my body suggests and not beat myself up about it.

Time to go and read a bit. I have a magazine which appeared this morning and two different books, one a library book (Henning Mankell – not a Wallander story) and one a book I’ve bought (Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Frasier). Also just finished Disloyal by Michael Cohen. Blimey. That was hard to read. It’s a mea culpa but also brutally honest. He’s a hard man to like but I do appreciate his bravery in writing it. Could only manage to read one chapter at a time, though, because it’s so intense. I’ve also read Rage by Bob Woodward, and two books on Trump by Michael Wolff. Fire and Fury and Siege, I think. Again, intense and difficult.

Technology! pah!

Spent yesterday afternoon after my siesta and most of today failing to erase an old Dell Dimension and install Linux on it. In the end I just erased it. Formatting doesn’t do it properly, it just hides the data, and that’s not what you want when you’re Freecycling an old computer. I did have another go at installing Linux after I’d nuked the hard drive, but no luck.

Still, the people on Freecycle who come and collect old computers are very likely to have a stash of old computer parts including old hard drives, so it’ll all be fine. I certainly have boxes of bits. We have a desktop computer each, a tablet each, one Apple, one Android, two laptops (one running Windows 7 and the other Windows XP), and a variety of wires, plugs, mice (mouses?) and so on.

We’ve booked an appointment to go to the tip (recycling centre is the posh name for it) in a couple of weeks. You are allowed 15 minutes once a week, and must be a resident of the Borough. So if nobody wants this old Dell it’ll end up there.

The desperate houseplant I potted on is much happier now. Managed to get some potting compost delivered, and have bought a storage box thingamajig to store it in. It can live in the shed, but then needs schlepping up and down the garden each time it’s needed. The storage box sits just behind the house and is much more convenient. Hubby had to assemble it though. When I finally manage to get some horticultural grit (of which there seems to be a national dearth) that can live in there too.

The seeds I planted a week ago (M&S “little garden”, kindly given to me), have actually started to grow! Three radishes! They are the reason I needed the potting compost, because the time will come when they need to be potted on. It’s all very clever. The seeds are in a sort of tiny little “mat” thing – about six per mat. Then there’s a pellet of dried compost which expands magically upon addition of 50ml water, and the little pots seem to be made of coir, which I think means the roots will grow through them. So that should mean I don’t need to handle the seedlings at all. I’m not usually very good with seeds/seedlings. They usually just die on me. So I am going to be extra vigilant and see what happens.

I have added better labels – these are cardboard and a bit soggy. When a few more seeds start to show their little heads I’ll post better photos.

Mother’s Day here in the UK was Sunday 14th March. One daughter sent me beautiful flowers, the other fabulous chocolates. I’m so lucky! both are excellent. Flowers still in bloom, some chocolates still to be eaten.

Knitting and crochet are occasional things now, what with the pain in my hands. I need to think about talking to the doctor and getting a referral to a consultant. Hubby has requested a special teacosy to fit his special tea infuser. Just need to discuss with him the detailed requirements. Shouldn’t take too long. It’ll need to be knitted, rather than crocheted, and that takes longer, but it’s only a small item. Just had the discussion. He wants a tube with a closed top, no hole for the handle. Excellent. Probably do it in the round, so no seams. Found some Aran West Yorkshire Spinners yarn which should do the job. Yeah.

I think that’s about it for today. Cheers for stopping by!

Trying

Yes, it has been. I had another go at making yogurt, with oat milk (barista style) and it was a total failure. Down the loo it went.

However, I have done some research. Back in the day I used to make yogurt with evaporated milk. So I checked it out and you can still get it, and it’s much easier to use (no boiling required), and so I’m going to have a go. I won’t be able to have any of course because it’s dairy, but hubby will. We shall see.

The knitting and crochet are going ok as long as I don’t beat myself up for doing it slowly and for a short time. I’m pleased with how it looks (no pics because the crochet is for a present).

The garden is looking absolutely lovely. Daffodils have suddenly appeared without my noticing, snowdrops all over the place, and a few crocus too.

My younger daughter is 37 today. She’s going to tell everybody she’s 36! so not quite sure what will happen when she gets to 40 . . Spoke last night via WhatsApp as she lives in New Zealand. Glowing with health and having a lovely time.