Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Happy birthday Hiccup

Who's Hiccup? Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and his hunting dragon Toothless are the heroes of the How To Train Your Dragon books by Cressida Cowell. These books, along with Joan Aiken's Arabel and Mortimer books, are the ones which really got the Boy into reading for pleasure, so even if they weren't thoroughly entertaining (which they are) I'd have a soft spot for these books. But to get back to the point, Hiccup's birthday is Leap Day, hence today's title.

I've been reading the Hiccup books too - it's given the Boy and I something to share. And I really enjoy them too. The phrase 'T-T-Toothless in ROME' (Toothless's vain attempt to deny that he's hopped up on Dragon-nip by claiming he's not even there, let alone flying upside-down) reduces us both to helpless laughter.

Tomorrow is World Book Day and the kids' school has said anyone can dress up as their favourite character from a book, if they want. So for the Boy it was really no contest - Hiccup it is. The Hiccup of the books is rather different (rather younger for a start) from the Hiccup of the film*. Here he is:

My Beloved dug an old flokati rug out of the loft and made a sheepy waistcoat to resemble Hiccup's fur waistcoat. I've cut the sleeves off an old knitted cardigan (no, not hand-knitted!) that the Boy had when was four or so and I've been attaching bits of fleece pulled from the flokati - these will be fuzzy legwarmers to look like the fur round Hiccup's ankles.

He'll wear a white t-shirt underneath the waistcoat, and his normal school trousers. Add to that a wooden sword and it's looking pretty good. Hiccup really needs a helmet to go with it but the only option we have is, oddly enough, a Viking helmet - that is, a proper re-enactor's replica Viking helmet (therefore sans horns!) which we're trying to convince the Boy he could take. He looks so cool in it!

Meanwhile Miss Mouse has decided she'll be dressed as Ruby the Red Fairy from the Rainbow Magic books. Thankfully this is easy - she has plenty of red clothes so she'll be wearing a red sundress with red cropped leggings and a red cardigan. And pink fairy wings from her dressing-up box - erk, I've just remembered she needs a wand, aargh! Now do I have any shiny red paper.....

* Unlike many film adaptations of books, the film of How To Train Your Dragon is a really lovely film - probably because apart from some of the characters it's almost entirely different from the books so can be enjoyed on its own merits, rather than niggling the viewer with smaller differences.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Making Monday - the lace headache

I'm still getting to grips with this lace business. Every now and then and it all goes completely pear-shaped. My project is a very simple razorshell scarf, no shaping, nothing complicated, so you'd think it'd be easy to spot where it's gone awry, but no..

On knitting night last week Cristina and I spent ages trying to figure out where I'd gone wrong - luckily she relishes the challenge and has a much better grasp of the construction of knitting than I have so she can 'read' it better than me. Eventually I had to go back several rows stitch by stitch until I'd got it right again - no way was I just pulling a needle back and ripping out a few rows. It was a needle coming adrift (accidentally) and me picking the stitches back up wrongly that got me into this mess!

I'm discovering that the wool I'm using (Shilasdair Luxury 4-ply) just doesn't like the strains I'm putting it under with my constant undoing and redoing, and being as soft as anything it just parts under the pressure. I'm sure it's absolutely fine for people who don't make as many mistakes as me, but perhaps I really need a tougher wool (sock yarn with a bit of synthetic for toughness?) until I know what I'm doing. Nevertheless the scarf is coming along nicely now - I have the right number of stitches doing the right things, I have a lifeline in place (planning ahead for the next mistake) and the pattern is just so beautifully symmetrical. My daughter said to me last night 'We're learning about symmetry!'. There's something very endearing about a five-year-old using a sort of technical grown-up sounding word like 'symmetry'! I tried not to laugh - she was so earnest about it.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Blimey, that was a longish blog break wasn't it? I'd got quite good about blogging reasonably regularly too! But we had a long weekend up north visiting my parents, and since the kids went back to school after that I feel as if we've barely had a chance to draw breath. Phew..

So, Reasons To Be Cheerful - well 1) naturally is having a wonderful few days with Mum and Dad. Even better, my brother visited them for a few days just before us, so we overlapped by a few hours - it was the first time we'd all been there at the same time for several years.

The weather was pretty mild for the Cairngorms in February so we got some outdoors time.

Miss Mouse with Granny and Grandpa

Even some blue skies:

At Ruthven Barracks

It was surprisingly lush in places, such as on the roof of the playhouse in the playground at Revack Estate:

And the top of this fence-post just makes me think of tepuis - those amazing lush South American plateaus (plateaux?). It's a proper miniature Lost World:

2) Reason 2 is not unconnected to photography. Actually Reason Two is My Beloved, my tech guru, who has got new stuff for my 'puter (hard disk and I dunno what else), installed Linux for me, and and and has bought me a new compact camera to replace the one that I lost/was nicked. *happy sigh* The new camera is the newer version of my old one and is very nice indeed.

3) Reason Three is Pleasant Surprises in the garden:

I was mooching around in the garden on Friday, trying to get to get the cats back inside probably, and spotted a patch of blue in a pot. I thought it was a gale-shredded bit of the cover from the trampoline poles, but no, it was a flower. It's an iris, isn't it? My garden's a bit boring at this time of year - just some tiny snowdrops (pretty but easy to miss) and a few white crocuses - so this was such a Pleasant Surprise. Can't wait for the daffodils, but this'll tide me over for now.

So that's the last official Planet Penny Reasons To Be Cheerful. However as it's a while 'til the end of winter in these parts and there are likely many dreich days to come, I think I'll continue doing the odd Reasons To Be Cheerful post, just to keep myself going. Many thanks to Penny for thinking this meme up, it's been fun!

Friday, 10 February 2012

A mostly picture post

Or 'Reasons To Be Cheerful in photographic form'!

Picture 1 - Why a Mostly Picture Post? Because going on a school trip* with a bunch of lively eight-year-olds takes it out of a girl! Can't stop yawning now! Hats off to their teacher, I don't know she does it day in, day out. It was a lovely day though - interesting and entertaining. Look what I found:

My favourite things - spindle whorls, needles and the like. I love seeing ancient things like these when you know what they were for and how they were used and it puts the rather distant concept of 'the ancient Egyptians' into some kind of context - it's not all pyramids and shabtis and hieroglyphics, it's also people making cloth. That's something I can relate to.

Picture 2 - here's Miss Mouse after the school Valentine's disco. She also came home with a chocolate heart (for being best dancer in Primary One) and three red fake roses. So a good night out! I sat in the room set aside for parents and got to know some of the other mums better which is always good.

Picture 3 - my current knitting (when I don't feel like doing my razorshell scarf). They're another pair of socks for the boy, 'negatives' of the last pair which he likes so much. The bright colours are Very Good For Me.

With my knitting is Miss Mouse's bookmark that she made at the local library's special storytime/craft session on National Libraries Day - the kids coloured in two bits of bookmark (front and back), stuck them together, then the librarian laminated it for them. I love that library!

*To Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Thursday, 9 February 2012


It's been an unfocussed and somewhat random week. I haven't really felt able to blog about anything in particular. So I'm following the example of a friend from a forum who occasionally does a Random Thoughts post about the weird things that have been crossing her mind.

- Here's a slightly odd (and not very good, though if you click on it you should get a closer look) photograph from the other day.

We were in bright sunshine while not very far further down was thick fog. It looked for all the world like an inland sea with islands sticking up here and there. In fact the islands are hills and mountains to the north-west, and between us and them is Glasgow. It was a bit like that bit in Ponyo when the sea rises.

- Yellow tulips bringing sunshine to the kitchen:

I like photographing flowers on the windowsill but it does make me notice how many splashes there on the window. Oh dear. I do clean it now and then but it's quite awkward reaching across the sink and it never remains splash-free for long.

- Tomorrow I'm going on a school trip with the Boy's class again - should be interesting! It's to do with their Ancient Egypt topic. I've never been particularly interested in the ancient Egyptians for some reason so don't know a huge amount about them, so I expect I'll learn something too.

- You know, I'm too tired even to remember what my random thoughts have been. What a non-post! But never mind - I find with blogging that the longer it is between posts, the harder it is to write anything, so better to babble inanely (from my point of view) than write nothing at all. For the reader of course it might be an entirely different matter!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Burning yer boats

Hurray, January's finished! And it finished on a Tuesday meaning that last night was Up Helly Aa, always the last Tuesday in January, so I was over at my brother's house watching the webcast of the procession. There were technical issues (possibly at our end, or possibly due to the volume of viewers) so it was a bit laggy and the broadcast failed just as the torches were about to go into the galley, but despite that it was the next best thing to Being There. I took some more pictures of the tv screen (that one above is about the best) but they didn't come out well so I'll give you a link to some pictures on the BBC news website, and the Shetland News article on the event (if you scroll down to the bottom there's a link to Billy Fox's pictures of the day too). Considering that the procession and galley-burning is just the start of a very long night of celebration (one of my friends updated Facebook to say she was just off to bed at 6 o' clock this morning) it's very impressive that there are pictures online already.

So, that's January gone. Thank goodness. I lost my camera on Sunday. I think it fell out of my bag on the train into Glasgow. Nobody has handed it in to Lost Property at the station. I would if I found a camera, but perhaps I'm in the minority. I hope the git that's acquired it enjoys my pictures - my daughter posing proudly with her dance exam certificates, for example. I hope they're bored to tears by my photographs of apple crumble and of streetlight reflections on icy puddles. I'm a bit peeved. I'm using My Beloved's camera now and it's just not as good. *sigh*

February has started with my daughter's class assembly - their topic was Chinese New Year and they did an excellent presentation. It was lovely. They all looked so tiny, but there they were reciting quite complicated lines, and they all spoke so clearly and looked as if they were having fun. It cheered me up no end. Also it's a cold, clear sunny day, and that helps no end!