Miscellany

Things have calmed down a little.

The garden is beautiful at the moment, and the sun is currently shining.

Went to the knitting group on Thursday with my friend, who isn’t often able to come, so that was really nice. Finished off a small project, but as it’s a gift no photo yet.

The cat came limping up the garden yesterday on three legs, with one leg held high, up by her face. Both hubby and I thought she was seriously injured, until I got up close to her and discovered one paw was stuck through her collar. Easily sorted and no harm done. Really not sure how she managed that though.

Watching the Women’s Football World Cup – it’s just so exciting. Last night’s match, France v USA, was really good. Can’t knit while watching football, though, too fraught.

In fact, not knitting for a few days now because of a swollen and sore knuckle. It’s settling now I’m resting it.

And I’m resting everything today, because the temperature is set to soar. Not as high as in France or Spain, because, well, Britain, but high for us. Anything over about 24C and I’m lounging around drinking cold water in my pjs.

Re-reading Song of Achilles – at the time I was really struck by it and loved it. But re-reading it I have absolutely no recollection of it. Also reading Siege by Michael Wolff. Dynamite. Really enjoyed Fire and Fury too.

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).

 

 

 

 

Despite the lack of rain

Our garden has apparently survived. Two months without any meaningful rain. The water butts were empty. I only watered the plants in pots two or three times a week, and any plants that were seriously wilting once a week. I think one of the hydrangeas has died. We shall see next year. But it is/was a new sort of hydrangea which flowers on new growth, rather than only on old growth. I think that might mean it needs more water. So there are no flowers on that now. The buddleias look a bit rough but are very hardy, almost thuggish.

But how pleased I am with the herbs, the rudbeckias and the ornamental grass. That grass was in a terrible state, but with repotting, new compost, and plant feed capsules, it’s recovered well. The hydrangeas are just lovely. Even the pinky-blue one under the willow, which is a thirsty tree, is doing well.

Yeah.

But the lawn looks like yellow matted straw. You can see it a bit in one of the photos. Mm. Lawn man has been today to do things to it, so hopefully next spring it should grow again.

Recent Projects

From top left: small triceratops to replace lost one, little owl, second little owl, dk cabled hoodie in Bergère De France Ecoton and a clown cushion.

The clown cushion is to help little ones learn fastenings – velcro, press stud, button, buckles, bow and zip. I’ve made four altogether over the past 30 odd years. They are a bit of a faff, but well-loved. The pattern is from a very old women’s magazine, and I have a pdf of it now.

Currently about half way through a shawl called “Worth The Fuss” in Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball Cotton. I’ve knitted through red, orange, yellow and green. I am enjoying doing it. There’s something interesting to do on each row, but it does mean I can’t watch the World Cup football and knit! (much too exciting). A knitty friend said she missed a goal – I messed up the knitting big time! so am taking the opportunity to do a few rows here and there during the day. That’s very unusual for me, but by the time the 7 pm kick off match has finished, at about 9 pm, I’m just too tired to risk making any more mistakes.

Next up is a toy puffin for a grandson who lives in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.

And then something a bit challenging – the pattern is called “Ari” and is intended for Aran yarn, but I’m knitting it up in dark smokey grey cotton (Erika Knight Gossypium) DK. I got the calculator and worked it all out, and have decided that knitting the size which involves casting 90 stitches should work. 90 stitches in Aran yarn would be quite big for me, but 90 stitches in DK yarn should be just over 16″ wide, which is just about right. The other thing I will need to be careful about when marking it up with my highlighter pen is the garment and sleeve lengths.

The weather here is hot and humid (well, hot for the UK!) and I hate it. Desk fans all over the place, ceiling fan in the bedroom, and I’m languishing with cold drinks. My favourite seasons are spring and autumn. Autumn for the colours. Spring for the growth.

Nearly June

The garden is still a delight. Managed to wash all the pots. There are so many that the empty ones won’t fit in the shed, so they’re dotted around the garden, intended to just look nice. And I think they do.

Also spent a happy morning sorting out my part of the shed. It’s not divided up, you understand, into partitions or anything, but I just tend to use the potting bench, which hubby made for me, and it gets into a real old muddle. Anything else is a bit too big for me to manhandle. Hubby’s bike, the lawnmower, hubby’s workbenches, so that needs to be a joint effort. Before I started work on it there was barely room to get inside.

Lots of tea breaks and rests. Lots of spiders, and the odd wasp, which had died, presumably of boredom, but nothing nastier (for instance, dead mice). I threw loads of stuff away, sorted into recycle, the tip (public waste disposal area) and just the bin. Lots of sweeping up. All re-organised and looking absolutely spiffing now. Gleaming, in fact. And it’s stayed that way because I have barely needed to go in for the last week!

You might think that isn’t really gleaming, but compared to how it was before, believe me, it’s amazing. You couldn’t see through the windows for cobwebs and bits of dead insects. Everything’s relative . . . .

Last night, as forecast, there were the most spectacular thunderstorms I think I’ve seen in the UK. It was like pink strobe lightning. Started at 1.30 am, went on till 3.30 am, started again at 6.30 am. Sigh. I quite like thunderstorms, they’re exciting, but really, lying awake all night wasn’t great. So I got up, had breakfast, and went back to bed, where I slept from 9.30 am till 1.30 pm. Much better. More thunder and lightning forecast for tonight. Hey ho. Hopefully it will get the worst over before bedtime. Hopefully.

And so far, despite the heavy rain, the garden hasn’t turned into the usual flattened mush. Possibly because everything is a bit later this year, so instead of lots of poppies, there’s only a couple open. I did have to stake up some aquilegias, but there are loads of those, so one or two smashed ones don’t matter so much.

IMG_20180522_135117864

The knitting is going well too. I’m making a cabled hooded jacket for the 3 year old, and it’s been a bit of a challenge, shall we say, but an enjoyable one. Done the back and one front, and the sleeves and hood don’t seem to have the difficult part of the pattern on, so that should help. Am going to contact Sirdar, though, whose pattern it is, and suggest they provide charts and/or pattern panels even if only downloadable, so they don’t need to print them out. The instructions for each row are a paragraph long, and look like computer code. If I hadn’t been knitting for about 100 years, I would have given up. What I did was put stitch markers either side of the difficult bit, and mark the corresponding part of the instructions on the pattern itself with highlighter. That itself took some doing. But the feeling of achievement will be all the greater when it’s done. I think. It’s double knitting yarn, although it’s a fairly heavily cabled pattern. I’m using Bergère de France Ecoton in a denim blue. Lovely. I’ll sew it up with West Yorkshire Spinners DK in the same colour though, as the Ecoton is a bit lumpy, which is nice for the texture of the fabric, not so great for sewing up. It’ll look better when it’s sewn up and blocked.

IMG_20180524_190204118

Footwear Malfunction

Yes, I had a shoe problem this week. I have wonky feet. Have had three operations on them and lots of steroid injections. They don’t look particularly wonky, no lumpy bits or bunions or anything, just practically invisible scars. But there is quite a lot of pain.As a result, I don’t do pretty shoes. Almost all my shoes are Birkenstocks, which are comfy, but not terribly elegant. Normally I don’t care about elegant, but this year I thought I’d try something different.

So I bought a pair of flat leather ballet-type pumps from Marks & Spencer. Inside I have put orthotic support things and heel grips. The plan was to wear them if it’s raining or cold outside in the summer, as my summer Birkies are open-toed sandals and look a bit odd in the wet weather. Otherwise I just wear winter-type shoes, which also look a bit odd in the summer.

But the ballet pumps are not comfortable. Really not. So popping out to somebody’s house for a meeting, in the car, would have been ok. However, the day turned out to be somewhat more fraught than just a UNISON meeting. I ended up having to walk what felt like miles in my uncomfortable shoes. To add another little dimension to the whole shebang, I only had a t-shirt on and it was cold and wet outside.

So. New plan. Keep a pair of comfy shoes in the car, for just such occasions. Comfy shoes duly delegated, and will go in the car when my new Birkenstocks arrive. Two pairs – one is a pair of felt type slippers, one is a slightly prettier version (Florida) of the ones I already have (Arizona). We shall see. And the flat ballet pumps will be worn, but only for short periods, and not for any serious walking.

Will also delegate warm jacket to live in the car. Haven’t quite made that decision yet, but hubby is talking about sorting out his wardrobe, so may be able to liberate one of his throw-outs.

Fascinating, isn’t it. Not. Only if you have wonky feet too, I guess.

Summer

Well, to my surprise, summer appears to be here still. It’s a bit hot for me, but for most I guess it’s pleasant. Sunny and dry. Having to water the pot plants regularly.

The diet – well, thereby hangs a tale. I have given up chocolate in the week on a permanent basis, only eating it at weekends. I also changed from wholemeal bread rolls to Ryvita. Big mistake. Huge. After 2 1/2 weeks I ended up very constipated (if this is too much information, stop reading now!) and went to the doctor after another week. Eventually, after going back to the bread rolls on the doctor’s advice, and with the help of gentle medication, I’m back to normal, but it was 15 days before that happened. Much chastened. But the weight has stayed off, so that’s good. I’m 5’2″ tall (1.57m) and weighed 10 stone (63.5 kilos). Too heavy. Now I weigh 9 stone 7lbs (60 kilos) – much better.

Meanwhile, I’ve been knitting up a storm. No photos, because I want to see my daughter’s face when I give them to her, but I’ve done three baby blankets and am now doing something different before I start on a baby jacket for her. Spoke to her via Skype this morning. She’s looking absolutely radiant. Really beautiful. Golden. And feeling better too, despite the aches and pains in her back pregnancy has brought on.

The garden is looking absolutely lovely. Love it.

buddleia acer sweet peas golden hop hydrangea crocosmia

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.

2014-06-21 16.33.40

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.

2014-06-24 19.27.342014-06-24 19.27.30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today:

  • 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!

2014-06-25 10.40.04 2014-06-25 10.40.11 2014-06-25 10.40.22 2014-06-25 10.40.26

 

 

 

What? over a month!

My last blog was 11th January. Can’t believe it! time flies, does it not.

The weather here, as you will know wherever you live, assuming it’s been on your news, is appalling. We live in the Midlands, and although it’s very wet, we have no significant flooding. It has been raining for weeks and weeks without stopping. It’s cold, miserable, and depressing. Spare a thought for the folks whose houses have been flooded with smelly river water, raw sewage, and who have had to go and stay elsewhere. The emergency services have been doing a sterling job, even the army has been called in to help. There is some frustration and resentment because there’s a feeling that London gets all the attention, so as soon as the Thames starts to flood, and all the posh people in their posh houses are being flooded, that’s when things start to happen. Meanwhile, in the south-west and the north, things have been dreadful for weeks.

I’ve been busy too. Knitting intermittently (wonky hands), made a couple of greetings cards, back episode (involving a trip to the osteopath), M.E. crash, but life seems to be looking up a little now. I am being more strict about how much I do each week, and make sure I have at least two days with nowhere to go. I set myself little tasks each day – for example, on Wednesday I ordered the week’s shopping on line, and made two greetings cards. That was enough. Thursday – I did two small sewing repair jobs and typed up the minutes of a meeting. Plenty.

My hands are very dry, as well as wonky. I guess the weather isn’t helping. But it’ll pass. And I have lots of hand cream.

The cat is currently going bonkers. Each day, about this time, she goes into a sort of manic mode, jumping about, scampering everywhere, chasing her tail and making a lot of noise. We just let her get on with it. All the cats I have ever known do this.

I am picking up my new glasses on Monday. Ridiculously excited about it. Then I’m going to potter around Solihull and see if I can find some thick black tights to wear with my longer tunics and my little Ugg-style boots. YD has been on and on at me for years to try and get me to do this, but I didn’t have any tunics long enough.  Now I do. Not really a leg person. Have worn nothing but trousers for over 20 years now, apart from very hot days, which involve long skirts. So an adventure, taking me slightly out of my comfort zone.

Report on degree of success with this to follow . . .

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 . . . .