Wednesday, 28 January 2015


Yesterday was the last Tuesday in January and I was to be found at my brother's flat where it has become traditional that we order a Chinese takeaway, watch Promote Shetland/60 North TV's live webcast of the Up Helly Aa procession and get horribly nostalgic for howling gales and the smell of paraffin. The coverage was particularly good this year, with no real glitches, and we were following it all on Twitter too (#UpHellyAa of course) which was entertaining - the webcast commentary team read out the more amusing and interesting tweets during the procession so it's all very interactive these days.

I took my knitting of course  - I'm using Álafoss Lopi at the moment so that's thematically appropriate. My brother took this picture and laughed because in it I'm knitting, the galley is burning on the telly and there's a copy of the Shetland Times on the coffee table. All we need are bannocks and we'll have all the clichés - so that's the plan for next year! A Chinese takeaway and bannocks...

There are some nice Up Helly Aa photos on the Shetland Times website if you're interested.

60 North

January is always a Shetlandy kind of month for me because folk there have Up Helly Aa to look forward to and, by contrast, there's not a lot to look forward to where I live now, unless you count Burns' Night, which I don't. I do like haggis but I buy it cheap after Burns' Night, when the supermarkets realise they've overstocked it. I got 60 North magazine in the post the other day to fuel my homesickness entertain me, and I enjoyed it very much. There are various articles about knitting-related stuff, including one by Donna Smith. There's also a good article about the whaling which obviously is a very emotive subject now, but it was once very important in Shetland.

January here is about my children learning Scots poetry at school, oh joy.   My son hates it (he's not a performer) and my daughter relishes it but has never got into the final of the school's Scots poetry competition much to her disgust. However I had a mysterious text from the school yesterday saying, to my amusement, that she's getting a Road Safety/Scots Poetry prize at assembly tomorrow (parents are invited along if their kids are getting Best Work Award or anything). The amalgamation of Road Safety and Scots Poetry tickled me. I shall go along tomorrow with anticipation.  Ssh, don't tell her, it's a surprise.

This is the poem her class had to learn:

Lament for a Lost Dinner Ticket by Margaret Hamilton

See ma mammy
See ma dinner ticket
A pititnma
Pokit an she pititny

See thon burnty
Up wherra firewiz
Ma mammy says
Am no tellynagain
No’y playnit.
A jist wen’y eatma
Pokacrisps furma dinner

The wummin sed Aver near
Jistur heednur
Wee wellies sticknoot.

They sed Wot heppind?
Nme’nma belly
Na bedna hospital.
A sed A pititnma
Pokit an she pititny

They sed Ees thees chaild eb slootly
Non verbal?
Nwen’y sleep.

The Blogger spellchecky thing is completely freaking out at that!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Things Fall Apart

Our microwave packed in the other day. My Beloved poked at it a bit and declared it beyond his help (as he was waving a rolling-pin at it, this perhaps wasn't surprising - however he is usually quite good at this sort of thing so I'll believe him). So today I went out a-hunting microwave ovens.


Apparently I've bought a conventional one. The opposite of conventional is not, alas, unconventional or even bohemian, but y'know, those-ones-with-the-grill-built-in, which I was mildly tempted by but you can't grill much on them and we have a George Foreman thing, and even, technically, a grill in the real oven (though it's rubbish and smokes a lot so is not often used) so it wasn't necessary.  I quite like the idea of bohemian microwave ovens, but cheap, small and not overly complicated was what I was looking for.  Mission accomplished.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the snow is mostly white, so it was quite nice being out and about today, even in retail parks.

far from being gruntled
Far from being gruntled

The cats are not entirely keen on the snow (neither are the kids for that matter - weird), but as long as the roads are clear, which they mostly are, I quite like it. It brightens things up no end, and there's that satisfying muted crunch when you walk in it and the cold smell, and  fascinating footprints and sparkly bits. I think it will thaw tonight so I'm enjoying it while I can!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Warm feet

Elgin socks

Woohoo! I'm out the other side! The fuzzy ear turned out to be an ear infection and though I'm not completely better I'm feeling an awful lot better than I have the last few weeks. I had to get an extension for my OU assignment in the end because I was feeling so fuzzy, but the downside of that was I was still trying to get it done, feeling guilty because I was running over (even though my tutor was fine about it), getting frustrated because I was losing my train of thought mid-sentence, and ultimately just getting fed up with it. But I submitted it last week, whether it's gibberish or not, and it's time to move on - yay! Apart from all that I have also achieved the final weaving in of ends on my Elgin socks, with the help of the boy-cat.

cat sitting on knitting

Obviously when I sat down with the socks to finish them off, he came to see what I was doing and equally obviously sat on one of the socks. There was a thread on Ravelry a while back where somebody, apparently genuinely, wondered why so many people 'put' their cats on their knitting for their project pictures, to general amusement from cat people and some gentle explaining.

Also finished is the purple cabled headband of doom, as I finally anchored that random dropped stitch  and got to wear it. To be honest it looks ridiculous on me because it makes my hair stick up in funny ways, but it keeps my ears warm so I don't care. It does of course look gorgeous on Miss M who borrowed it the other night (well, afternoon, it was five-ish but dark) when she and her friend were attempting to build a snowman with much giggling and throwing of snow, but very little actual building.

There has been a bit of the white stuff and it's a bit on the chilly side so I'm particularly glad I got my Elgin socks finished now rather than, you know, in June or something, which is when I usually finish winter things. They're a bit big really but I wear them as slippers over another pair of socks

 This was also on the walk to school, near the top of the hill, hence the leaning trees - I'm not that bad a photographer! Though don't look to closely at the horizons on beach photos..

Totally gratuitous cute cat picture - she was sticking to the bit by the back door where it was sheltered and there was only a scattering of snow. Cold paws are not her thing. I don't blame her.


But clearer skies yesterday meant sunshine and the daffodils on my kitchen windowsill looked so happy. I'm so glad that something as cheap as a bunch of daffodils can cheer me up so much!

Daffodil-coloured snow? Just snow by the light of the streetlights.

Argh, no, time to get the kids from school - bye!

Thursday, 1 January 2015


I have been fairly flattened by a lurgy, a proper head cold, which meant I slept until nearly midday today. I can only hear out of one ear, I seem to have conjunctivitis and everything is fuzzy. At least I've got my voice back though! I can sing, tralala (don't worry, I'm not really singing). Luckily there was no need to do anything much today other than veg out in a satisfyingly lazy manner. I finished my library book (What Would Mary Berry Do? by Clare Sandy) which I enjoyed very much, just what I needed when feeling grotty. I'm trying very hard not to think about my next OU assignment which is due in next Friday. I did start work on it before Christmas and was feeling okay about it but looking at the OU forums and Facebook pages has left me feeling as if I'm not taking it seriously enough. Which is silly. 

I would like to be witty and sparkling at this point but alas it seems that wit and sparkle only appear with a head not full of swamp ooze. Also typing on a tablet is a pain in the bum  - the visible area of text while typing is minute and I keep losing my train of thought, always assuming I had one in the first place. I should probably write my posts as haikus. Not sure why autocorrect wanted to apostrophise that.

So, the first of January - as pointless as ever! I have no particular resolutions apart from the perennial 'be more organised' which I should probably get tattooed on my body somewhere. The back of my left hand probably. Followed by 'buy milk' and 'don't forget that thing' (which actually reminds that the kids have got dental checkups next week and I Must Not Forget).  On that random note, good night all!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014


We went for a walk today along the icy shores of Loch Morlich. (Incidentally, I'm typing this on my tablet and the autocorrect does not approve of either 'Loch' or 'Morlich' AT ALL). It was a lovely walk but there was a cold wind. Although the picture makes it look like a dead calm, that's because the ice further out had a thin layer of water on top making it look unfrozen. I hadn't realised until someone chucked a rock out at the 'water' and it slid along the top. It looked very odd.

So it's Hogmanay in the icy north and the kids are planning to stay up until 'the bells' (or, in the case of this particular Highland village, a firework display), but I'll believe it when I see it. Actually the Boy isn't fussed but Miss M is keen. We'll see.  I have been wished a happy New Year on Facebook by a Kiwi friend for whom it is already next year. In fact if he hadn't been still up at 3 a.m. posting on Facebook he'd likely be having breakfast just now. Just going to show how bonkers the whole thing is really. Happy arbitrary date change everyone!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

it's not Terry's, it's mine

I've got an annoyingly sore throat which I'm treating with segments of chocolate orange. And a hot toddy. Well, paracetamol aren't remotely festive are they?

I should be finishing my purple socks but instead I'm knitting a blanket for the cats (using New Lanark chunky), because it's easy and soothing. I'm sure the cats will be grateful.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Fresh air

We made it - after all the chaos and the rushing around, yesterday we just chilled out. The kids don't get up obscenely early on Christmas morning and never have, thank goodness. The Boy woke at his usual time (seven-ish) and was stoatin' about wondering what to do, and the rest of us drifted downstairs eventually, Miss M last.

As usual Miss M was comically slow at opening her presents, hugging things that particularly delighted her in a slightly bonkers but endearing way. The kids chucked the wrapping-paper everywhere and there seemed to be vast amounts, but when we came to tidy up and sort the recyclable from the un- there wasn't that much really. I'm not going to think about how long it took me to wrap it all (especially the little fiddly things in their stockings) or how short a time it took to tear the whole lot off...

And I've learned not to bother trying to wrap things too neatly for children, it's not as if they even notice!

Meanwhile Stealth Cat was in his tunnel grabbing at pieces of wrapping paper and ribbon and having a brilliant time.

The weather was cool but bright, and in the afternoon Miss M and I went out for a walk. The kids had watched both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on DVD and Miss M needed to recover from the trauma of the death of Dobby, always her favourite character, and I just needed fresh air. 

Today was cool again and foggy, quite calming really, so Miss M and My Beloved walked to the supermarket for one or two things, and then later on the Boy and I went for a walk out of the edge of town.

The Boy was amused at the way the power lines just vanish in the fog:

This reminded me of a book I read as a kid - something about two children going up a tower (possibly Blackpool Tower) in the fog and then the fog magically freezes and they can't get back down so they set off across the frozen fog, using their Lancashire clogs as skates. I haven't the foggiest (hoho) what it was called but it's an image that's stuck in my mind for years. If anyone knows what it was called please tell me, Googling hasn't helped, and I'm really curious now.

There was a crow (or corvid of some kind) in a tree carking at us:

Later still I took Miss M out to the playpark again (that's three days in a row - she's hooked on the new climbing frame) and while we were there the streetlights came on, looking ridiculously golden and sunny:

I know this is all quite dull, but quite often we're hardly outside at all at Christmas and I hardly ever have outside photos from Christmas Day, so it's really a reminder to myself of a surprisingly outdoorsy (in small amounts) festive season!