Monday, 31 December 2012



I really should be wearing my slippers. We're at my parents' house and the floor downstairs is concrete under the carpet. The picture above is from yesterday when we were on our way here. It looks worse than it was actually - it rained most of the way and was only sleety snow at Drumochter, the most chilly and exposed bit of the journey. But on the way I saw deer, coming further downhill due to the snow, and lots of pheasants.

 Today. Chilly.

Christmas turned out quite frenetic in the end.  No matter how organised you are (not that I was) this can happen. No point worrying about it, though obviously I did, because I wouldn't be me if I didn't. We had an untraditional Christmas really. Although my Beloved and I like roasts, though not turkey, the kids don't really, and my mother-in-law (vegetarian) was coming over for Christmas Day, so we had homemade pizza instead. Everybody chose their favourite toppings, it was all quite quick and easy and there's minimal washing-up, so all in all it was ideal.  And delicious. Mmm pizza...

I made a mincemeat traybake from the Be-Ro cookbook, rather than than mince pies and it came out really well except that I baked it in a silicone 'tin' and I always forget that silicone doesn't conduct heat in the same way so the pastry didn't crisp up properly - oh noes, soggy bottom! Still tasted nice, but I must remember to use a tin next time.

And now it's Hogmanay. I spent some time this afternoon winding some Yarn Yard Clan into a ball. On a spurtle as I'd left my nostepinne at home. I couldn't have been more of a Scottish cliché if I'd been eating shortbread and drinking whisky, which I'm planning to do shortly of course.  The yellow Clan is for the next stage of Project Rainbow, though actually I've only finished half of 'orange' - a single lonely sock. I'll cast its mate on shortly but thought it'd be nice to have the gloriously sunny buttercup Clan ready to go in dreich January. I'm not really a fan of New Year as a celebration, never have been. It's all so arbitrary. And has the distinct disadvantage of ringing in January, my least favourite month, but when I'm feeling Januaryish I'll look at that yellow and forget it all!  I don't have very much (65g) so it's going to be the main colour in a thin stripy scarf, and I'll use up various leftovers from socks and other small projects, including 'red' and orange', as the contrasting stripes. In my head it looks fantastic!

Well, happy new January everybody - my Kiwi friends are already waking up with a hangover, my USian friends are probably eating lunch and I'm off for a glass of whisky with my parents and my Beloved!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Oh frabjous day, callooh callay!

My sock turned up! I finally got back to the last place I'd definitely had it and there it was, camouflaging itself. The problem, as I think you can see, is that I managed to leave it in the one place where it was hardest to spot. I have a talent for doing things like that.

 Front of project bag, visible.

Ooops, bag gets flipped over, instant chameleon! 

And it was tucked almost behind a cushion so it's no wonder my friend didn't spot it when she looked for it. So yay, back to the sock. I'm supposed to be done by the end of the month but I'm still only on the first sock - better get a wiggle on then..

The trouble with December of course is that's full of social occasions, like the school Christmas disco:

at which I helped out, doing the chocolate fountain and managed to splash chocolate all down the front of my hoody.

This has been a loooooong day - I'm off to bed!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Well, it's traditional isn't it? What's December without a scratchy throat and a cough? Even the Boy, usually superhealthy, has a cough.  To add to that this week I have an infected eyelid, something called blepharitis - though apparently that's just an inflamed eyelid, but the pharmacist reckoned mine was infected. Lovely. There's nothing like having a red, grotesquely swollen eyelid is there? I've looked like Rudolph would look if he were painted by Georges Braque or possibly Picasso. But the magic ointment is working and I'm looking more normal again, although I can't wear my contact lenses 'til I've finished the medication so I'm wearing my glasses full-time for the first time in ages. Which is frustrating. I just don't see as well with glasses.

The weather however has been cold but aesthetically pleasing:

 Clear skies

 Favourite Tree

 Favourite line of trees (bottom of the field that Favourite Tree stands in)


 Still some colour in the garden.

 More frosty

Frosty lupin leaves - this is one of my favourites!

In other news, I've lost my knitting - that is, the orange sock. Fortunately it was in a small project bag so I've only lost a half-knitted sock, a set of dpns and I think a notebook, so it could be worse, but I'm still quite gutted. I'm hoping it might turn up at the hall Miss M does her dancing classes in because I definitely had it with me when she was there for their Christmas party.

Our Christmas tree is up and Cat1 hasn't tried to climb it yet though he's lurked underneath it in a suspicious manner a couple of times.  He's doing that right now in fact.

I have written my Christmas card list, which is good, though I can't remember where I put the actual cards so writing them might be tricky, which is bad. Being inherently fairly optimistic though, I'm hopeful they might actually get posted on time.  This would be a first.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Things, Stuff, Things and Stuff

Oooh, I managed twenty-five days out of thirty for the November Blogging  - I'm quite proud of that! Towards the end of the month I just ran out of steam, especially as we had more on. Miss Mouse had her gymnastics display last week (went well),  and she's been doing an extra dance class for the last few weeks in the run up to her dance exams. Not because she's rubbish, naturally she's brilliant *rolls eyes*, but she needed to practise the cheer stuff with the bigger girls who go on a Thursday. Or something.

Anyway, I'm a glorified taxi driver at the moment. Except this morning when it was very icy and I made the kids walk to school. Actually they seemed fairly happy to, until the Boy slipped and fell on his bum. 

I was sure the car would get down our road, I just wasn't certain it'd get back up again. We've only had a very light sprinkling of snow and actually it mostly thawed again during the daylight hours yesterday but it's been very frosty at night so the snow and the slushy bits that were left were frozen solid. The road was fine a couple of hours later, just not at school run time which at the moment is pretty much just after sunrise.

The kids had their revenge - when they got out of school this afternoon they reminded me that I'd said we could go to the swimming-pool. I'd completely forgotten of course. I can't say I was enthusiastic at the thought but we went and had a very quick swim and it was lovely! We had the pool to ourselves initially and the pool was slightly warmer than usual - usually it's bit on the chilly side, especially if you're 'swimming' with children, i.e. mostly standing around in the water.  

But enough chilly stuff! Here's some bunting!  I've been meaning to make some for Miss M's room but never got round to it, and my mother-in-law saw this bunting when she was out somewhere and bought it, so there we are, the perfect cheerful thing for a little girl's bedroom:

Miss M loves it. Her room is very small and not all that warm and Miss M is not keen on going to bed at the best of times so anything that makes her happy to be in her bedroom is a good thing!

Project Rainbow: don't ask. Still on the first sock...

Plan for tomorrow: Bake Christmas cake. Should have done it weeks ago.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

It's Baltic

Blue skies - that was yesterday when there was still some cloud. It was very clear and consequently quite chilly today.

There's snow on the hills to the north, as you can possibly just about see on this picture, but there's been no precipitation here.

Sun setting on the way home from school. As the weather's been so good I've been making the kids walk. I've no objection to driving them on wet days as we're not that close to the school but on a good day it's a nice walk.

It's worth it for some fresh air and to appreciate a bit of nature, or such as we see.

The huge advantage of cold clear weather is actual sunlight shining through the freesias on my windowsill!

Apologies to anyone flooded in England but we did have the horrible weather last week - got to enjoy the nice weather when we can!

It's knitting group night so I'll be wrapping up and heading out in a bit - plenty of knitted warm things to choose from, shame none of them match! One of these days I'll be co-ordinated (don't hold your breath).

Monday, 26 November 2012


 This was the sky just as I picked the kids from school at 3 o'clock.

And this is the sunset just before we set off for Miss M's dance class, so at about 4pm.

We don't often get beautiful sunsets here as cloud tends to be the dominant feature, but tonight's was a cracker - it got even better, and at one stage the horizon was a really delicate apricot colour, but obviously I was driving and couldn't take any more pictures. But really, driving into a beautiful sunset made up for not being able to take pictures. I should have had some kind of stirring soundtrack, but actually it was the usual low-grade bickering from the back.

Success! Tonight, while I watched I'm A Celebrity and had my feet numbed by a sleeping cat*,  I have Turned A Heel, having done some arithmetic to get it right as I'm doing a 72-stitch sock and the pattern is for 64. I'm perfectly capable of arithmetic, it's just I'm still at the stage of thinking that turning a heel is Magic, so working out what the decreases and turns are actually doing is a bit... intimidating.

 (Dubiously) But it looks as if it's worked.

I have no idea what the next line of the pattern means though. I keep re-reading it, hoping that the meaning will jump out at me.  I'll have to dig out the pattern I usually use and compare it.  I really do need a pattern that's written for the completely clueless. But, the rest of the foot should be pretty quick and easy anyway!

* You should have heard the cracking noises as I walked upstairs after having had Small Cat sitting on my ankles for two hours. Quite alarming really.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Eye of partridge

Oh blimey, I'm so slow on these socks! And this is only the first one.. But I'm onto the very lovely eye-of-partridge heel now.


I'm liking the effect it makes with the hand-painted wool. Only trouble is not sure which slip-stitch row is next. Best leave it to the morning and daylight I think.

Here's Larger Cat burying his nose in the blanket last night. My feet are just below his nose so that's okay then, vote of nasal confidence from the cat.  Both cats love this blanket. It's Small Cat's turn tonight. Larger Cat just tried to pick a fight with her but the lady wasn't for budging.  My spot of an evening, like that of Sheldon, is one end of the settee.  But mine is better because on the small table next to me is my 'puter.  My feet are on a foot-stool, there is a  blanket on my legs (I get cold) and a cat on the blanket  - because I am the cats' spot. Decadent eh?   I can write my blog, watch television and be a piece of furniture for my pets all at the same time. On that comfortable note, good night!

Friday, 23 November 2012

So I failed

I missed a day's blogging.  I just couldn't manage a post without a picture, not two days running!

But I've sorted out the thing with the pictures, and in no particular order as Dec would say, here are some for you.

The ghostly galleon, the picture I was going to use on my last post. Bit wobbly and blurry but surprisingly good given the low levels of light.

After the kids went to bed last night, instead of blog-posting, I spent a lovely evening with my cat and My Beloved (that's in no particular order of course). We watched I'm A Celebrity (naturally), we debated who we thought would leave the jungle, who we think will win, and of course who we'd send into camp. I'd send Ray Mears and Brian Blessed and Hugh Fearnley-Whatnot and similar people, and watch Ray blithely ignore the Snake Rock and Croc Creek camps and lead his Merry Men and Women (though I haven't thought of any suitable women yet) off into the (actual) jungle with the panic-stricken production crew and Ant and Dec trotting behind.

After that we watched an episode of Castle (love this), then an episode of Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated. The latter is an overlooked gem. The kids love it so we've seen quite a lot of it but it was good to watch it without them for once. Really a programme that produces a horror-writer character called HP Hatecraft who has taken to writing teen supernatural romances, well that's got to be good.

In other thrilling news I've bought some beads for the ends of my scarf. Aren't they pretty? So far they've been used to help Miss M with her maths homework (division! They're onto division already!), but one day I'll get round to sewing them onto the scarf and all will be pretty.

Right, must finish. Celebs and bugs and rats, oh my, in five minutes...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


I've run out of picture space apparently so I need to upgrade before I can add another picture. So a pictureless blogpost, blimey that's a bit tricky.  I find it really difficult to write without a picture to focus my thoughts.

Tonight's post was going to be about a photo I took this evening while waiting for the train home from my knitting meet-up. The half-moon was visible through the bare branches of a tree and looked, well, quite spooky (don't worry, the picture's not great, you're not missing much). And as often happens the words 'the moon was a ghostly galleon' popped into my head. They're from the poem 'The Highwayman' by Alfred Noyes which we studied at school once when looking at imagery and creative use of language and stuff like that.

There are a set of gloriously creepy illustrations for it by Charles Keeping, who coincidentally taught my dad at art college. It's funny how you get an impression of someone from their work, and I always imagined him as an austere sort of person for that reason, but no, Dad says he was far from it.

An entertaining pastiche of The Highwayman is The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson - yet another book I enjoy reading to my daughter, and worth a look.

And that's all folks! Good night :-).

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Being Katie Morag

Do we all know who Katie Morag is? Ah, good :-). I enjoy reading Katie Morag books to my daughter - they're a bit of nostalgia for me as I was once a child who stomped around beaches in my wellie boots. Now that my brother is scanning the old slides I'm entertained to notice that actually I'm more Katie Moragish than I'd remembered.

I had Big Boy Cousins:

That's me, my dad and my little brother with them.  Looks a bit steep doesn't it?

Granny Island is a brilliant tractor-driving character and should I ever be a Granny I'll model myself on her (yes, I can drive a tractor), but I didn't have a Granny Island or a Granma Mainland myself.  I had just the one Granny who lived in Ireland (Granny Ireland then?)  - here she is visiting us:

That's me and my brother with her on one of the beaches (for there were several) in the immediate vicinity of wir hoose. When I think of myself as a kid I mostly remember wearing trousers, which, so I thought, makes Childhood Me different from Katie Morag with her stylish skirt-and-wellies look. But as you can see I obviously did wear skirts some of the time. Just not with wellies in this case.

The picture below is possibly not that clear but if you click on it you'll see me striding purposefully around in my wellies. Clearly a child on a mission.

Brr, looks chilly.

And finally, just for the fun of it, here's a picture taken on Victoria Pier in Lerwick, looking inland obviously. I don't know what year - late 1960s? Early 70s? Mid 70s?  Anyone know about cars? I'd ask My Beloved but he's gone to bed.  I am of early 1970s vintage but I wasn't paying that much attention to cars as a kid, and I'm not enough of a car buff to guess. Great cars though - they look the way cars look when they've been drawn by me. I never could draw cars.

What's interesting about this picture is that from that angle, aside from the cars not much has changed about this view since then, or hadn't last time I was home. If you have a look at the Lerwick Harbour webcam, one of its angles is not dissimilar to this one. Don't look too closely at the zoomed-in webcam shots of the boats in the harbour swaying up and down and side to side.. you'll get queasy. Or is that just me?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Strange missives

A curious little message that came home in Miss M's schoolbag. To explain, school lunches run in a 3-week cycle and the kids are given a menu showing the options for each day of the three weeks. It all works very well and my kids are happy to have school lunches when they like something on the menu and packed lunches the rest of the time. It certainly makes things easier for me.  But when the new winter menu started a few weeks ago we were slightly mystified by one of the choices - 'savoury cheese sandwich'.

'Savoury cheese?' we thought, 'when is cheese not savoury..?'.

All became clear when this note came home - I can imagine there have been some complaints from outraged six-year-olds who were expecting a normal cheese sandwich! Sounds mingin'...

Talking of food, I should be writing a shopping list. Instead I'm typing this with the small cat stretched out on my legs. We're watching the highlights of yesterday's Grand Prix and she appears fascinated.  While we've been watching tv this evening I've also been knitting my Circles socks but I'm fairly sure I've just gone wrong somewhere so I'm going to leave it for tonight, in case I mess it up even worse.

This is a very tedious post isn't?

Sunday, 18 November 2012


It's getting gloomy now, there's no getting away from it. So I bought myself some flowers for the kitchen windowsill - freesias this time, and as luck would have it, we had some sunshine today, bouncing on to the kitchen windowsill at just the right angle. There's nothing quite like sunshine on yellow freesias for cheering me up. Except perhaps daffodils of course..

I had a bit of time to myself late this afternoon while the rest of the family communed with computers and the like, so I lurked upstairs reading and knitting for a bit. The restarted sock is coming along nicely now though it's hard to see at this stage as it keeps rolling up. Quite fiddly to photograph, I could do with an extra hand.

If you're curious about my reading matter, I'm re-reading Ben Aaronovitch's Moon Over Soho for something like the third time.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

What passed for normality

My brother has been getting back into scanning The Slides - mysterious chronicles of our childhood and other parts of the olden days. The picture above more or less summarises what passed for normality when we were kids.

Peafowl are forest birds - they like to roost. Obviously roosting places were few and far between round us - we lacked jungliness somewhat. Percy liked perching at the top of my swing, occasionally on the car and sometimes on the garage roof. The wall would do at a pinch.

*sigh* Talking of jungles, sort of, oh dear. I love I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here but I'm despairing at the uselessness of Helen. Somebody put a lot of time and effort into designing and constructing those trials and their genius is going unnoticed! Actually I despair at the idiots who are 'phoning in and voting for her to do the trials - where's the entertainment in it? Really? Even Ant and Dec look despairing..

Friday, 16 November 2012

A little music

I bought some piano music today (in Lidl of all places) and spent ages tickling the ivories, rediscovering things I'd played years before, like the C.P.E. Bach piece in the picture above) or bits of music I know but had never played, like Easy Winners  (Scott Joplin). I always forget how much I enjoy playing the piano.

Do you like the unicorn on the piano? Miss M painted that at a ceramic-painting place. It adds a touch of psychedelia to our house..

Hmph, I posted this at 11.59 on Friday  but it came out as 00.00 on Saturday. It's my Friday blog, really it is!  You know what, it's bugging me - I'm going to change the setting.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Back to the knitting! I finished my Spoots scarf (razor-shell lace - pattern here) a couple of weeks ago but I didn't ta-da it because I was going to add beads to the 'points' and hadn't actually bought any suitable beads yet.

 the points during blocking

But actually I've been wearing it on and off and I'm wondering whether to bother after all. This could partly be laziness, but also the knowledge that, pretty though they are, the beads will almost certainly catch on things. Like my hair. And the cats might think the scarf is an exciting new cat-toy.  So here's a picture of the scarf while I have a think:

Whatever I decide I'm glad I stuck it out with the soft-as-butter Shilasdair Luxury 4-ply. By the end I was making far fewer mistakes and wasn't un-knitting nearly so often so the wool was up to the challenge, and the end result is soft and warm and just really nice. Oh, and long - I may have been bored to tears for the last 20, ok 30cm, but it was worth it!

Blimey, I'm getting the hang of this lace thing! Quite slowly, admittedly...

Random Thought of the Day: I'm curious as to why the spell-check red wriggly underlining thing in Blogger doesn't recognise 'blogging' as a word. It takes me back to the olden days when Word suggested 'interned' whenever you typed 'internet'!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A snake saw the mouse

"Come for a feast in my logpile house."

I'll freely admit I have nothing to say today. Writing doesn't come naturally to me anyway and I am tired, slightly grumpy and feeling unimaginative. In short it's the kind of day on which blogging every day for a month seems a bit daft! So I've had a rummage through my photos and found this picture of my parents' woodpile which makes me smile because it makes me think of Snake's logpile house in The Gruffalo.

You know, I actually physically write things so rarely these days (just shopping lists and notes in my diary) that my handwriting is appalling. It was Parents' Night at the school last night and the Boy's teacher commented on what nice writing he has. Doesn't get that from me.. Last week I was reading my shopping list, in my own writing, and misread 'cocktail sausages' as 'celestial sausages'.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

"The ball of wool miaowed, most piteously"

While I was visiting my parents I bought a couple of kids' books in a second-hand bookshop. I bought Ronnie and the Great Knitted Robbery by John Antrobus (illustrated by Rowan Barnes-Murphy) mostly because of the title. I've been reading it to the kids and it's wonderfully surreal. Ronnie is a boy who is thrown into an oven by a witch who lives on the 12th floor of a high-rise.  Things get weirder from there, with the characters knitting themselves from scene to scene with magic knitting needles. There is a knitted cup of coffee and a knitted kitten. The kitten gets unravelled at one point and Queen Victoria finds herself saddled with a mewing ball of wool who wants milk:

I can't help but feel that I missed out on this book as a kid. I'm of the right vintage, but I never read any of John Antrobus' books though I remember the title Help, I'm A Prisoner In a Toothaste Factory - well, who could forget that?

Monday, 12 November 2012

It's that time of year again!

Well, I am sticking to the shallows!  Ah, Ant and Dec, celebs and bugs, what more could I want? It started last night but My Beloved recorded it for me so I didn't have to inflict it on my parents and brother. I got home this afternoon after a four hour drive - probably not long to the likes of Mrs Micawber and others of you from BIG countries, but a Very Long Drive indeed to me. On the subject of big countries, I've been amusing myself looking up countries in the CIA World Factbook to see how they relate in size to US states. I've long been entertained by the way they do that - it adds an amusingly parochial note to their statistics! It won't let me search the other way though - I want to know the names of countries which are 'about as big as Wisconsin'. The UK is 'slightly smaller than Oregon' apparently. Australia is 'slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states but has more spiders than you can shake a stick at'. Okay, I made the latter half of that one up - all I know is I once flew across part of it and it took ages.

How on earth am I going to 'label' this post? I think 'it's a bit random' about covers it.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Silentish Sunday

I may not be at home on Remembrance Sunday but I've found some poppies on my memory card.

Snow on the hills today.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


This sheep just stood there with a jackdaw (I think) on one of its horns and another on its back. When we got a bit closer to them the birds flew off and the sheep came out of its reverie and wandered off. I'd love to know what it was thinking.

In other thrilling news, my brother has been channelling his inner lumberjack and has been chopping wood, and I knitted backwards and found the Sixteenth Stitch (it was a rogue and nearly invisible k2tog).  Then I tried the sock on my foot and decided to frog it and start again with more stitches. It was perfectly fine on my ankle but just too tight to get over my heel easily. I think it's the slip stitches that are affecting the tension - make sense really.  It feels stretchy, just not stretchy enough.
So I've cast on again this evening and have just started the first set of circles. At least it grows quickly!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Norther than North (actually not *that* north)

A sample of my dad's sense of humour!

I'm in the Frozen North having driven up today - my longest drive to date, quite proud of meself really - to be with my parents for a few days as Dad is just out of hospital. We're all quite tired so it's a short post today, but then I did know there would be short posts on occasion. I've brought my knitting but am rather kicking myself for having brought the circle sock as I still haven't figured out where the sixteenth stitch went. Possibly into an alternate dimension. The Sixteenth Stitch sounds like the title of  a short story doesn't it? Or possibly something Catherine Cookson-esque..

It's not a Frozen North at all, it's  a Bucketing Down North.

I'm off to read this:

There is always intriguingly obscure reading matter in this house!

Thursday, 8 November 2012


Do you ever make mistakes that you just can't figure out? I have fifteen stitches on this needle when I should have sixteen. I can't see any dropped stitches. Or an inadvertent k2tog. I'm going to have knit backwards again and find the mystery error. I like this pattern very much but honestly I'm spending as much time knitting backwards as forwards! Good job I love those teeny tiny circles so much :-D.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


I think if I made these mitts again I'd move the cable/lace panel over a bit, or perhaps move the thumb further round - they have to be adjusted into the right place rather than sitting there naturally. Perhaps I just have oddly shaped hands.  The interesting thing about the wool is that it looks quite different colours in different light. In daylight it looks red - not scarlet, but more to the orange side of the range (tomato red perhaps). By the light of my bedside lamp it looks rusty which is why I didn't like knitting them in bed.  When I was out for a walk today they looked quite autumnal, as if they could almost, almost, have done for the orange project too.

I don't knit with a lot of red or orange, or warm colours much at all come to think of it - until I started Project Rainbow this year had been all about the blues and before that there were more greens (and I'm just remembering a Far Side cartoon of a frog in sunglasses singing 'I got the Greeeeeens, I got the Greens real bad..'). I'm not sure warm colours suit my peely-wally colouring - would my fingers look less blue with blue mitts?