Nearly September

Well. A busy summer. But fun.

A few days in London in July – went to see Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the Barbican Centre, by the RSC. Absolutely amazing. The special effects (holograms) were something to see. Really, really good. London is just so busy and fraught, but so wonderful at the same time. All sorts of different people, ways of dressing, living, everything. And the food was excellent.

Then mid August stayed a couple of nights in Brighton, saw almost the whole family in one go! actually got to swim in the sea, which is just one of my very favourite things to do, then off to Southampton, stayed in a different hotel there, and spent some time with ED and LCS. Lovely. Just lovely. I’d made a Bakewell Layer Cake and a carrot cake, both tray bakes, and they went down rather well, I will say. Mm.

All the grandchildren are just a joy. Oldest one will be 16 tomorrow – gasp! where did the time go? He’s No 7 in the UK for his age group for racing breast-stroke. Wonderful, just wonderful. Youngest one is now 5 months old. Bless.

Garden is looking great, although I’m doing battle with the pesky slugs, which are trying to kill my new asters. Bring it on.

Knitting going well, no pics because they’re all for Xmas gifts. New yarns in stock in local yarn shop, I have a bagful of beautiful stuff and am starting to get through it now.

Thing is, when there’s lots of things going on (see above) I get all fraught and panicky. It’s like there’s too much input, and I can’t cope with it all. I can sort of deal with the planning and booking and stuff, but then I’m done in. Luckily I was able to sleep when I needed to all summer, so it’s all ok, but it would be just great if I could handle it all better than I do.

They’re taking my Disability Living Allowance away. I knew they would, but what a bummer. Also I had paid enough National Insurance Contributions to be entitled (eventually, in another 4 years) to my full state pension, but now they’ve changed the rules and it includes people like me (how does that work then? they’re allowed to change the rules retrospectively?) , so I have to pay in more, but I need to check whether it’s going to be worth it.

Been watching some excellent tv. A four-part series called The State, which told the story of four Brits travelling to Syria to join the so-called ISIS. Harrowing, of course. But interesting too. Thoroughly researched, the story told of how the main characters became disillusioned, to say the least, with the regime, the strict rules, the savage punishment for even minor infractions, and the injustice and stupidity of it all. But what it didn’t explain is why these people went all that way, and why they didn’t know it would be like that. There must have been an excellent marketing policy, full of half-truths, in place, is all I can think.

Then something called “No More Boys and Girls?” which was fascinating. A class of 7 year olds in a school on the Isle of Wight were followed through a half term of changes instigated by their teacher with the help of a doctor. To start with, all the girls seriously underestimated themselves, and the boys seriously overestimated themselves. Girls were identified by both genders as “pretty, mothers, nurses” and boys as “strong, brave”. By the end of the term, girls were “strong, clever, kind” and so were the boys. Clothing with slogans on came in for particular criticism, as well as the distinction between “girl” and “boy” toys. One of the most intransigent boys turned out to be kind, empathetic, and understanding. One of the least confident girls actually wept when she did really well at something! Very interesting. They brought in people who bucked the stereotype of their job, for example a female car mechanic, a male make-up artist, a male dancer, and the children were amazed, and loved it! It changed all their perceptions of what girls can do, and how boys can behave. I wonder if the pressure for boys to be strong and win at stuff has the same effect as the pressure for girls to be pretty? whether or not it does, it’s important to strive for equality. The school is expanding the programme to all the classes, and the teacher of the class, who is lovely, has done a presentation to the Institute of Education. Excellent.

The cat had a small adventure a few weeks ago – a gash on her leg which needed 3 stitches, which when you know she only weighs 3 kilos, is quite a lot for a small cat. We don’t know how she did it, but it was quite deep, and involved the (expensive) emergency vet, anaesthesia, wearing The Cone of Shame or baby pyjamas cut off at the waist to stop her gnawing at the sutures. Luckily we’re insured so got most of the money back. And she’s fine now.

That’s about it for now.  If I think of anything else I’ll blog again.

 

 

 

 

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What a mess!

Election.
Brexit.
London Bridge attack.
Grenfell House fire.
Mosque attack.

It couldn’t really be much more depressing.

The government is in complete disarray, having failed to win a working majority. So now they’re trying to do a deal with the most right-wing party they can find who actually have some seats at Westminster. Trouble is, this party (the DUP) don’t believe in evolution, they are anti-abortion even in the case of rape, they’re almost fundamentalist Protestants. So that’s not going terribly well, really.

Brexit – after all the bluster and braggadocio, we have caved on Day One of negotiations.

London Bridge – more terrorism, more people hurt and killed.

Grenfell House – a disaster just waiting to happen. Dreadful tower block fire, we still don’t know how many people died, and there are still survivors who have nowhere to live/sleep.

And a lone man drove his van into worshippers outside a mosque, hurt several people and killed a man who was already receiving first aid on the pavement. More terrorism. What is it about religion that makes people so damned angry?

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On the positive side, there’s what? the weather? I hate it. Hate it with a passion. The heat and humidity reduce me to a sweaty puddle. Thank goodness it’s normal temperatures now (17 deg C). Roll on autumn, say I. Much more my bag.

But LCS did like the Superman outfit I knitted for his baby doll. And I’ve made one shawlette (Pimpelliese) and am happily knitting another one (Close to You).

And the garden is looking fabulous, though I did manage to kill a potted lavender through sheer neglect. Oh, lavenders like it dry, I thought to myself. Until I had a look this morning and it’s sort of grey and crispy. Oh dear. The poppies have been spectacular, my single peony looked lovely, and I have plans to plant and pot up more stuff. But need a new lavender now. Oops.

 

Sunday 4 June 2017

Well, not sure what to say about last night’s terrorist attack in London. It’s just so depressing. What do you do when a van full of angry men speeds into pedestrians, then they jump out and start stabbing people? you couldn’t make it up. But, like Manchester, London rallied round with offers of help, free taxi rides, and in true British fashion just got on with helping.

Trouble is that the attackers and their ilk would like us all to hate each other. Clearly democracy is not what they want, or they wouldn’t be upping their atrocities during an election. It’s hard to imagine what goes on in somebody’s head when they plan and execute such a thing.

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Meanwhile, on a purely selfish, personal note, I’m feeling really horrible today. Not physically, just in my head. Two projects went wrong – nothing terrible, but I’d planned to do some gardening today and it rained, and a knitting project I had been quite pleased with went spectacularly wrong. Also, I had a difficult conversation with Mother the other day and was left feeling really sad and angry. I must remember she’s old and fragile, and she’s cross because she can’t do what she used to do.

So I thought I’d have a little blog-rant and let the poison out a bit, if you see what I mean.

The grandchildren are, as ever, a delight. The cat is becoming very slightly more affectionate. Well, less aloof. Still no lap-sitting or anything as daring as that, but she does let me pick her up with slightly less fuss. Although she always purrs like billy-o when I do cuddle her.

And here are a few photos of stuff which actually worked!

So my next knitting project is for grandson in Southampton. I foolishly suggested that I could knit something for his baby doll Laura, and asked what he’d like. Superman, he said. Oh, what! So I’m knitting some Superman stuff for a 20″ baby doll. Don’t ask. Photos when he’s received it. Even if he doesn’t like it!

Enough for now.

 

April.

I can’t believe I have yet another throat infection and no voice. Third in three months. And last week – or was it the week before? – I had what I think was probably a nasty migraine. 24 hours of blinding headache and bad nausea. Took another week to recover. So this year so far has been a bummer, healthwise.

Meanwhile, the Aged Mother has been in hospital, and is now home recovering. Youngest grandchild has been born, in Dublin, little boy, all doing well. Eight grandchildren! how lucky are we! ESW (youngest grandaughter) is just a joy, but currently has a virus. LCS (ED’s little boy) is fine and also a joy.

ES is with us this weekend, having a sleep at the moment and leaving when he wakes up.

The garden is looking lovely. Must deadhead the daffodils when I feel up to it, but it’s cheering to look out at it on a sunny day like today.

Knitted a little jacket and crocheted a blanket which will be in the post tomorrow for youngest grandchild (initials HR). Photos when the parcel has been received. Currently knitting Dobby socks, as requested, for a grandson’s upcoming 13th birthday. They are Dobby socks because one is green, with Golden Snitches knitted in, and the other will be red, with broomsticks knitted in. So that means knitting in the round (a tube), no seams, stranded (different colour yarns), turning a heel and grafting the toe. All good fun and makes it interesting to do. Again, photos when received.

Missed the Stitch Up at Stitch Solihull yesterday because I was just too damn poorly. I think that’s two I’ve missed. Grump.

 

Time to Blog

January this year was a write-off for me, what with the sinus and throat infections and no voice for three and a half weeks, not to mention feeling dreadful.

February was better, apart from Andy’s funeral, which was fraught and lovely in equal measure. A long day, in London, with so many people who loved him so much. And both my daughters, which was also delightful. And a short cuddle with fabulous grandson LCS.

March – not sure really. No voice. Again. But after three days am starting to feel a little better. Lots of fluids, regular paracetamol, and plenty of rest.

Today I felt so much better that I’ve actually set up the wildlife camera in the garden. I’ve no idea what will transpire, but am very interested to see what happens overnight. First time ever, so fingers crossed. I’ve been thinking and thinking about a wildlife camera. We watch a lot of wildlife programmes, and even though we won’t get to see elk, or wolves, or panthers, I’m wondering about muntjac deer, other cats, maybe hedgehogs? exciting.

Have been crocheting a little bit. Knitting turned into a nightmare, so I’ve rejigged all my projects and finished a shawl which was a long, long time in the making (but I love it now!) and am having a short knitting break. I’m actually waiting for some new baby yarn to arrive in The Shop so I can knit something for a baby due at the end of March. Here’s a couple of photos of the knitting and crochet, with a bonus one of grand-daughter ESW.

Osteopath tomorrow. Was going to cancel but need to go really. Had to cancel hairdo on Wednesday, as soon as I have a voice I will rearrange that. Also had to cancel friend’s visit on Tuesday, which was actually the worst day. Will rearrange that too when I can talk!

 

 

Mixed Feelings

I do enjoy Christmas these days, but this particular one was sadder than usual. A good friend of my daughters (they went to school together), was killed on 15th December in a hit and run accident, near where he lived, in London. The police are searching for the culprit. The randomness, and the casual cruelty, of just driving off when it must be blindingly obvious you’ve just hit somebody in your car, is hard to stomach.

He spent a lot of time during his teenage years at our house. He was fun, extremely bright, multi-talented, excellent with my girls’ sibling rivalry, very good at defusing potentially awkward situations (just one example -when ED told him, in front of YD, that YD fancied him, he smiled, said Ooh how lovely. Thank you. And so YD stopped writhing with embarrassment and felt good about it).

In recent years his life and my daughters’ lives had taken different paths and we didn’t see so much of him. But we are all so sad. We loved him. He was good, and funny, and kind. But mixed in with the sadness is the awareness of how much worse this is for his immediate family. As a mother I can only begin to imagine how his mother must feel. The world is a lesser place without him. RIP Andy.

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Hubby cooked up a storm yesterday for our Christmas lunch. Absolutely fabulous meal. Mother came, and so did YD, her hubby, and baby ESW, who will be one year old in just over two weeks. Lovely.

Now that some of the knitting has been given to the recipients, here are a few photos of the projects.

Trivia, or How I Manage My Life

When I was young, I didn’t have very much confidence about whether my feelings, choices, the things I liked and disliked, were ok. Partly because my childhood was spent not knowing when I would next cross an invisible “transgression” or “naughty” line.

As I’ve got older, though, bit by bit, I’m slightly more sure about things. As long as they don’t adversely affect anyone else, I think it’s ok that I gave up wearing nail varnish 30 years ago. It was such a huge relief. I’m crap at applying it, then within the hour I’ve smeared or chipped it, and it was just a pain in the neck. So I don’t do it any more. And along with such small but effective changes, here’s a short list of the things I do/don’t do to make my life a little easier. Just in case anybody else out there has the same sort of uncertainty.

  • I don’t “do” afternoons. I sleep in the afternoons. No outings, no meetings. Very occasional and special exceptions, for example my niece’s wedding party soon.
  • Not going to buy cakes, even dairy-free ones, when I have a cup of tea in a café. They are usually a disappointment, apart from particular ones (Costa’s dairy & gluten free Christmas cake, Starbuck’s dairy & gluten free brownies – as long as they’re still wrapped), so I just end up feeling guilty for eating a cake and worse for having spent the money and not enjoyed it.
  • Currently “off” coffee. I can only drink decaffeinated anyway, or I end up shaking and bouncing off the walls. So I’ve decided it’s fine to just drink tea. Black, weak, no sugar, thank you.
  • Not going to feel guilty any more if I can’t do any knitting, either because my hands are swollen and tired, or because my brain just isn’t working.

And so on. Small things, but each decision taken lifts a weight off my shoulders.