Friday, 31 October 2014

Neeps and apples

It's ten to seven on Hallowe'en, we've just run out of sweets and have taken the neepie lanterns back in off the doorstep. And switched all the lights off. Sorry, kids, it's all over for another year. I got a bit creative with the first neep this year. It turns out that cats' eyes are bit fiddly to carve though - for those who've never carved a neep they're much harder than pumpkins and it's tricky to get details, partly of course because they're that much smaller. Very satisfying though!

I went into Glasgow today and met up with a friend who I don't see nearly often enough.  We met up the Yarn Cake which is a very lovely yarn shop/cafe in the West End of Glasgow. Coffee was consumed as was apple crumble cake (my favourite) and we chatted and knitted*, and also caught up with Antje who runs the Yarn Cake and who I also hadn't seen for ages.  The West End was looking very autumnal. Very much a lovely day.

River Kelvin

* I finished that garter stitch square - wooh, achievement!

Thursday, 30 October 2014


My knitting mojo went AWOL this autumn. Actually for most of the summer too. I don't know why. It happens occasionally though. In that time I've finished a mitten (apart from the thumb) but failed to cast on its mate, and I've knitted one and a half garter stitch squares. This is not like me. On the other hand I've been reading in the evenings rather than knitting-while-watching-telly, so that might explain it.

The other day I dug out some really nice wool and cast on something I was really keen to cast on - a very quick project to get me in the mood for knitting again. And it was going swimmingly for the first two repeats of the cable pattern - and then I put it down to go and do something dull and domestic like making the dinner. And when I came back there was a needle missing. I suspect a large cuddly cat may be involved as he's been known to chew wooden knitting needles before and the missing needle is a rather lovely 4.5mm Brittany. But I can find no sign of it anywhere, not even splinters, and, yes, I have lain on my tummy shining a torch under the settee. Curiously I have no other 4.5 mm needles, though plenty of 4.0 and 5.0mm which is odd because they're not sizes I use often.

I think I may be jinxed.

I've come to the conclusion that the missing needle is not likely to suddenly reappear so yesterday evening I went and ordered another pair from an ebay seller. And then I realised (five minutes before I had to run out of the house to help at the school Hallowe'en disco) that I'd ordered the 4.0 mm not the 4.5. I'm such a numpty.  Rather than attempting to cancel or amend the order in a hurry, which was staggeringly unlikely to go well, I ordered the right size later on (from a different seller because I was embarrassed). Well, you can't have too many needles can you?

 Clearly innocent

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

In which I re-enter the world of blogging.

It's been a while hasn't it? Stuff has been going on - Miss M has had a birthday, I have started studying again (I'm going to finish the Open University degree I started before the kids came along), and, er, I dunno what else. It's just all seemed rather busy recently. Mostly the studying really - I've just been figuring out the best times to fit it in. My plan is to stay a week ahead with it at all times so that when things like the school October holidays and Important Eighth Birthdays happen and I get no studying done whatsoever I'm not losing way.

This year I left booking the cattery too late and it was completely booked up so it wasn't possible for us all to go up to see my parents in the October break.  In the end the kids and I took the train up and left My Beloved with the cats, giving them a bit of peace and quiet to watch zombie films or whatever it is they do when we're not around.

We had a lovely time in the not so frozen north. Miss M and I even went paddling in the burn up in the hills (very 'refreshing' - euphemism for 'a bit chilly'), and the Boy accidentally went paddling when he fell in the Spey. Fortunately it was a) slow-moving at that point, b) shallow, so all he got were wet feet, and his socks and trainers dried in no time next to my parents' wood-burning stove. Bliss... (the stove, not the wet trainers).

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Mists and mellow (also more creepy-crawlies)

One day last week we woke to mist and an awful lot of very visible spiders' webs. The kids were delighted! As was I actually - it all looked absolutely magical. There's something very calming about walking in fog. We've done a lot of walking recently because there's some fairly epic digging-up-of-the-roads-to-lay-cables going on in our area with four-way temporary traffic lights and other such joys, so going on foot is working out as less stressful. Fortunately my occasionally charming offspring are proving quite accepting of this.

Other mornings have been damp but mild. This year the local council* planted long thin patches of wildflower seeds (possibly an oxymoron there, but I'm sure you know what I mean) here and there and the result was long strips of flowers by the roads, looking absolutely gorgeous.

There weren't many patches that I saw, but maybe there'll be more next year (and with self-seeding perhaps this year's patches will be bigger next year) and it's a good start.

Sorry about the wonkiness of the picture but I was distracted by unexpectedly wet feet - it had rained in the night, and I was wearing trainers. I always forget that the ventilation mesh bit on top of my trainers lets water in. You'd think I'd learn, but there you go.

Meanwhile (actually on a completely different day, so not 'meanwhile' at all) my sunflowers continue to attract the bees - buff tail bumblebee also approves, so I think we can label the sunflowers a success.

They also attracted this... thing: 

I don't know what it is, and it's not exactly a vision of loveliness, but it's oddly fascinating to look at. Anyone got any idea?  Update: I put the pic on Facebook and my very knowledgeable friend Wendy found out that it's a yellow dung fly (scathophaga stercoraria).  I've probably seen them loads of times before but never up close like that.

* Presumably - I remember reading of a plan to grow some pollinator-friendly plants at the roadsides, so this would seem to be it.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

creepy-crawlies (nice ones)

I'll start with a poppy which has suddenly flowered and is providing the only splash of red in our garden. They're not lasting long as the slightest puff of a breeze seems to de-petal them, but they are gorgeous.

I'll follow the poppy with something which should be red but isn't:

This appeared on my arm while I was driving back from the school this afternoon - it wandered up and down my arm and then onto my hand, but as I was driving I couldn't take more than a very quick glance and think 'ooh that's tickly' and 'funny, it looks like a ladybird'. When we got home the Boy retrieved my camera from my bag and I got this one decent picture before it flew away. Actually I got a picture of it opening its wing cases just prior to flying away but unfortunately it's blurred. Then we googled images of ladybirds, and apparently it's a larch ladybird, something I'd never heard of before. I knew there were other ladybirds than the usual seven-spot ones, but I'd no idea there were plain brown ones. Nice to learn something new!

Meanwhile the sunflowers are finally flowering and proving popular with carder bumble bees and hoverflies. When I started getting interested in bee-friendly gardening I looked at some websites that suggested that sunflowers are popular with bees and some that said the conplete opposite, so I'm glad to find out that they're popular with at least some bees.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


This was the scene last Tuesday, the day before the kids went back to school, when I was looking for every usable pencil I could find. Fortunately there turned out to be a decent stash of my old favourite Staedtler Noris, once I got them rounded up. Those yellow and black stripes with the red end just scream 'school' at me! In a good way, of course. I love 'em, with their bumblebee cheeriness, pleasing smoothness and hexagonal cross-section. There have probably been minor changes in the look of them since I was at school, but to me they look identical. And although I didn't always like school, I always liked the stationery.

The kids were fairly happy to go back to school, though we all agreed that the summer holidays had seemed really short this year - they weren't short, they were seven weeks long, but it did just seem to fly by one way and another, yet we didn't even do an awful lot. I had plenty of ideas and backup plans for stuff to do if it was a rainy summer, but actually there was a lot of good weather and we spent a lot of time mooching around at home. Miss M has a bunch of friends from our street and the one behind so she spent a lot of time playing with them and also falling out with them, seemingly inevitable with little girls, and equally inevitably making loom bands. The Boy was mostly happy bouncing on the trampoline, playing on the computer or reading, and more occasionally playing with friends.

We had a great week in St.Andrews which I will undoubtedly blog about when I've sorted the pictures and got my brain going again. This is just a short post to get me back in the way of blogging after an unexpectedly long break. I don't really know why, except that I just didn't get much computer time or peace and quiet while the kids were at home. Not that they're noisy but I find it difficult to write blog posts when there are interruptions or someone leaning over my shoulder asking what I'm doing. I should be a hermit really. A hermit with wifi.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Raindrops keep falling on my pond

At last, after what's felt like days and days of threatening, it has finally rained today. My pond was getting a little low and I was running out of saved rainwater to top it up with. When I say 'saved' that sounds a bit planned - what I mean is that we have a home-brewing bucket standing in the garden that had filled up with rainwater and which has come in very handy.  I can't remember how the home-brewing bucket came to be in the garden but there you go. 

I was getting concerned for the one or more frogs and the taddies, assuming there any left. I know the toad is okay because I heard a bizarre squealing noise from under a plant whenever the Small Cat extended a tentative paw under it. Small Cat looked appalled and disconcerted, and seemed quite relieved to come back into the house.

Wet buddleia

My Beloved is away at a (motor)bike forum barbecue this weekend, so it's just me and the kids at home. Today, naturally then, was the day that the Boy, who is never ill in term time and has three Perfect Attendance medals to show for it, got a sickness bug. As he's so rarely unwell he's completely clueless about illness and looked as appalled as the Small Cat and twice as helpless.  In fact he didn't actually get round to being sick. He clutched an empty washing up bowl for an hour and a half, whimpering occasionally, and eventually took himself off to bed and fell asleep for three-quarters of an hour. Then woke up almost back to normal. Kids are weird.  I'm quite relieved. What has surprised me about being a parent is that I can deal with vomit with remarkably little queasiness or distress of my own. However the Large Cat threw up while sitting on the windowsill the other night - and there is a radiator underneath the windowsill, and I'm sure you can fill in the blanks. Large Cat certainly did. So the less vomit the better this week really.

This evening I am entertaining myself. I have been knitting and watching a West Wing DVD. It's all very retro.