January 2018

Another year. Almost through the first month, too. It’s cold but dry outside, although the wind last night was fearsome! kept me awake for hours!

Christmas – bit of a write off for me, was ill (again) with a similar thing to the November virus, but only for two weeks, this time, instead of four weeks, starting Christmas Eve. Missed two family parties. Bummer. Big old bummer. However, Hubby did a fabulous lunch on Christmas Day, and we’d been for breakfast at YD’s house, so managed that day, then spent the rest of the two weeks in bed most of the time. Voiceless and feeling dreadful.

Am better now, though, and almost up to knitting again. I did crochet an Olaf (from Frozen) for ESW, but my crochet skills are really not that good. However, it’s a toy. It’s meant to be lumpy. ESW won’t give a stuff how olaflumpy it is, or where the lumps are.

And it looks ok.

New knitting projects planned. Love it when there’s lots to do. Also almost through the pile of books I was given as gifts. The last one, which I’m reading now, is Simon Schama’s History of the Jews (second book) “Belonging”. Very interesting. Detailed, engaging, and, for me, with my Jewish heritage, fascinating. There was a time, hundreds of years ago, when Jewishness was regarded as having come through the father, not the mother. Mm.

Yesterday we went to a lovely independent bookshop in Coventry to donate some books (https://www.thebigcomfybookshop.co.uk/), then IKEA, got most of what we went for, only spent £25 (which is much less than we normally end up spending there!), then the council tip on the way home. Excellent morning, very productive. Result: very tidy house, a knackered me. But it’ll pass.

Just written to my lovely French friend, sent it off with some photos, then I had a lovely shower and washed my hair. Soon it’s going to be lunch time. My life is such a mad social whirl. Not. Thank goodness.

Not going to knitting group this morning, may go on Saturday. Hopefully. It’s great. Hot drinks, cake, biscuits, friendly people and all in an excellent yarn shop. Plenty of support for when things go wrong too.



And no, it’s not Christmas yet! I know there are those among you who would love Christmas all year long, but when my offspring were much younger, nobody was even allowed to mention the word until December. Harsh? possibly, but saved my sanity.

What’s been occurring? well, the new fascia for my car stereo is excellent. I’ve kept the old one as a spare because it’s only the display that’s gone. The new one looks brand new (even though it’s not), works a treat, and the display is perfect. So that’s a plus.

Health not so good, however. Throat virus for the last two and a half weeks now, which has involved an extremely sore throat, several days in bed not eating (but drinking lots of fluids), a trip to the doctor to be reassured it’s not bacterial, so no antibiotics, and a nasty cough. Oh, and no voice at all. I’ve been having to cancel everything as it comes along (social outings, even the osteopath today). Well, in reality, hubby has been having to cancel everything because – I have no voice!

I’ve been reading a lot, which is always a bonus, when I’ve been up to it. And serendipitously, one of my favourite authors, Tom Cox, has had a new book published. It’s called A 21st Century Yokel, and is quite lovely. It’s as if he’s speaking to you, telling you about his life. The countryside where he lives now, and where he has lived. His family, including his delightful eccentric Dad and his lovely Mum – who does all sorts of craft things. His friends and his hobbies (bat watching, beaver watching – the dam-building kind – swimming in rivers, very outdoorsy).

It’s been a pleasure to read. I’ve savoured every word. I get a similar feeling of one-ness with the world when I read Bill Bryson’s books. Both authors demonstrate an understanding of life and nature that chimes very much with my own. Or rather, informs how I feel about these things.

Knitting has had to take a back seat. I have completely lost my knitting mojo. But, you’ll be relieved to hear, I re-knitted the cardigan I’d wrecked, in different yarn, and I much prefer it anyway (no photo, it’s a gift). So all the Christmas knitting is done, and four child/baby hats (they only take an evening or two). All in West Yorkshire Spinners Aran in various “cocktail” colours. I have started on a lovely jumper for hubby, but only managed one evening’s worth. It’ll still be there when my knitting mojo returns, however. I do occasionally pick it up and feel it and look at it, just to make sure I still like it. (I do).

It looks grey, but it’s actually denim blue. West Yorkshire Spinners Aran, 75% wool, 25% acrylic. Not terribly difficult to do, but stitch markers have changed my life, so I use them if I think there might be the slightest possibility I could go wrong. Circular needles, too. At this stage, after only a few inches, it makes very little difference what sort of needles I use (except that I’m much less likely to drop a needle than when I’m using straights!), but when the work is bigger, the weight falls on my lap, not my shoulders.

A bit of a muddle

Well, the garden’s looking absolutely lovely. Autumn has always been my favourite time of year, and this October it’s just beautiful.

However, there are a couple of minor irritations going on in the background. First let’s deal with the car.

My car is very old. 18 years old to be precise, and although it’s fine, and still runs ok, it sounds a bit clanky now, despite its recent annual service. And a little while ago, a few weeks I think, the display on the stereo stopped working. It’s apparently a common thing with the one I have (a Kenwood, with a detachable fascia). Now, that’s not too much of a problem, because I know what radio stations are attached to which numbers, and I can listen to my MP3 player once I’ve sorted out the “source”. However. And this is a pain in the proverbial neck. Somehow or other, buttons have been pressed (by me, nobody else drives my old jalopy), which mean that Traffic News has been set up. That means that I’m singing along loudly to my MP3 player, and all of a sudden, traffic news interrupts. Not only that, but when the traffic news has finished, I get a lot of DJ inanity and at least half a track of some music I’m not particularly into.

So I have enacted a cunning plan. Don’t want to spend too much money but am fed up with the TN interruptions. I have ordered a fascia from ebay, total cost £7.99. We shall see what transpires.

Next thing is my knitting. Gaaaagh! I have been knitting away happily for grandchildren for Christmas, and one of the garments is a lovely pale yellow with dark grey heart shaped buttons. Another garment is a dark green variegated yarn. Soaked them both, prior to blocking, in separate bowls. Rinsed and wrung them out, separately. Carried them both upstairs At The Same Time. Epic fail. Dark green yarn has bled randomly onto pale yellow yarn. Dark green garment has been rinsed in the washing machine and looks great. Pale yellow garment is comprehensively f*cked. Tried a number of ways of getting the dye out, and now the fabric is all to buggery, because it’s been rubbed so much. So I cut off the buttons, stayed relatively calm (no stamping about, shouting or swearing out loud), and put it in the bin. I’m off to the knitting shop shortly, when I’m actually showered and dressed, to get some new yarn to knit exactly the same garment again. Not pale yellow, though, variegated I think, and with garter stitch instead of ribbed welts. So I am going to try really hard to see this as a Learning Opportunity. Grr.

I really thought I’d broken the back of all the Christmas knitting. But no.

Ah well. Definitely First World problems, so I shouldn’t complain, when there are people so much worse off than me.

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.





What a mess!

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.