Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A Hogmanay post

So, another Hogmanay, and this year we're at home. I'm knitting my garter stitch square and watching Tudor Monastery Farm, while drinking ginger-wine and lemonade. And cursing people who are letting fireworks off early!

I've ended the year with a little Hogmanay dye batch - red onion skins, brown onion skins and a few daffodil heads. Bunches of daffodils have appeared in the supermarkets very early this year so I've had daffodils on my windowsill since Christmas Eve, which has seemed a bit odd but added a welcome splash of zingy yellow.  I didn't do a huge amount of dyeing this year, so it was quite nice to end the year with a bit. It's still drying on the radiator and the colour looks quite nice as far as I can tell by unnatural light - I'd like to think it's 'old gold' but it might be 'mustard'!

It's been a very wet, windy, mild December, so outdoors is windswept but not bleak. The Boy and I went for a damp walk yesterday to blow away the cobwebs and took pictures of this hedge:

Lovely colours but it was surprisingly tricky to get a photo that got that richness of colour.

The other day I took apart the kids advent calendars (I'm not one of these parents who insist on non-chocolate advent calendars - I remember getting picture-only ones when I was young and they were fun, but I also remember my first chocolate advent calendar and it was brilliant!) for the recycling. I hadn't noticed the detail the good people at Cadbury's had included in their knitting-themed Christmas chocolate range.

Look - the inside of the doors match the squares behind! Nice colours too!*

I'm not going to do a review of the year - there have been good bits and less good bits but I find New Year pretty arbitrary. And I know in Scotland we're all supposed to go mad for New Year but lots of us don't, and I've not been that keen on it for a long time - I mean, who wants to welcome in January anyway?  Ridiculous, pointless month (yes, I know I said it's pretty arbitrary - I never said I was consistent). The nights may be getting imperceptibly shorter, but it's still a long time 'til spring. Blimey, that's gloomy!  I'm really not :-D.  I'm quite happy to be sitting peacefully at home knitting and watching television.

So Happy Arbitrary Calendar Change to you all!

* No, I'm not sponsored by Cadbury's. *sigh*

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Cracker joke

A classic of the genre!

Soooooo, 20 minutes until the final part of Death Comes to Pemberley, and I'm surprising myself by doing my fourth blog post in four days. Impressive for me! Of course, it's all trivia but that's just fine by me. My feet are being warmed by the small cat and I have my knitting ready to go - just a diagonal garter stitch square but it's what I'm in the mood for. Just before Christmas I got some rather nice wool from Lidl (sort of creamy-beige to grey, gradual colour change), and it's just crying out to be something comforting like a cushion cover.  So I'm knitting a square to see if it wants to be a cushion cover, and if not I can rip it back and see if it wants to be smaller squares sewn together into a cushion cover, or maybe something else entirely. I'm just like Michelangelo letting statues out of blocks of stone. No, really, I am.

Edited to add: Penelope Keith as Lady Catherine! Genius!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Dressing to match the walls

Me? Stealing water from the penguins? Must be somebody else you're thinking of.

I recorded part one of Death Comes to Pemberley last night and this evening I've watched that and part 2. I've enjoyed it so much I almost wish I'd waited 'til I had all three episodes so I could watch it back to back, but on the other hand I'm quite glad to have something to look forward to for tomorrow night. I don't know what the critics and the Austen fan-girls will make of it, but I'm loving it. I like Pride and Prejudice (book and 1995 tv series - not so keen on the Keira Knightley film) and I like mysteries, and it's working very well indeed for me. Besides which, it's just lovely to look at, especially on our new super-crisp bit-less-shiny television* - gorgeous, luscious colours and details. And Mrs Elizabeth Darcy, née Bennet, doing a cracking job of dressing to match the wallpaper. I'm not normally a big fan of turquoises and teals, but I was drooling over those walls already, and then she changes into a frock that matches! This is where I've been going wrong stylewise all my life..

Incidentally I can see why the critics and Austen fan-girls might be nervous - I've read a couple of 'sequels' to Pride and Prej, and they were, not to put too fine a point on it, complete shite. But this is most enjoyable. Also it gives me the chance to use my 'men in breeches' blog-post tag again.

In other news, I have iced the Christmas cake, much Lego has been built, we had a splendid afternoon when my brother came over today (to admire the Lego of course)  and pizza has been consumed by all. For the kids this is the second pizza this week. Tomorrow we're meeting with various in-laws for a meal at an Italian restaurant so I can foresee further pizza consumption in the near future. I may have to insist on a pizza-free zone for a couple of weeks to recover.

* Did I mention the television? A couple of weeks ago the boy Cat, he of knocking-over-the-Christmas-tree fame, knocked over a bookcase which knocked over the television which landed on the turret of Miss M's castle money-box. End of television. My Beloved was secretly pleased because he has the chromosome which has the need for new televisions at every opportunity and he thought the old one was too shiny - in that the screen reflected everything so that any dark scene would be dominated by the reflection of my beautiful beaded lamp floating in the corner like a luminous jellyfish.  I think he had a secret new-television-fund for just such an eventuality.  On reflection (ha!), we should thank the cat.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Of Penguins and Gulls

 Meet the swaabie.

One of Miss M's passions is Playmobil, and one of her presents this Christmas was the their Penguin Habitat, which includes penguins, penguin chicks, people, a bucket of fish, eggs, a bale of straw (we're not sure why - Miss M has decided it's to keep the eggs warm when the adult penguins can't be bothered) and a curious gull.  I love the gull - it has brilliant moulded wings. They could have just made it smooth-bodied but they gave it wings and, somehow, personality. We had a lot of fun setting the figures up and taking pictures, then Miss M sat playing with it for ages.

I find penguins hugely entertaining and fascinating and used to love watching Edinburgh Zoo's Penguin Cam until they got the pandas and it changed to dull-sleepy-panda-cam. I've just had a look though and they seem to have re-introduced Penguin Cam - apologies to Edinburgh Zoo if they did that ages ago, I just haven't checked for a while. So I'm not sure why when it comes to a toy penguin set that it's the very ordinary gull that I find so amusing.

The Playmobil penguins can slide down a chute into their pool, which you can fill with water and therefore get a satisfying splash. And the cats can drink from it of course. Because water from a dripping tap, a newly-drained bath or a toy penguin pool obviously tastes better than water from something as mundane as a cat-bowl.  That's basic cat psychology for you.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas knitting

This was my one bit of Christmas knitting this year - a Jayne hot-water-bottle cover for my brother. I aim to amuse.  I've learned from previous years where I bit off more than I could chew, knitting-wise.

I used DROPS Nepal, and made up the pattern - it was a really quick, easy, watching-tv kind of knit.

It's been a lovely day, everybody doing nothing much, nibbling on chocolate, and pottering around. But now I feel something like a zombie so I'm going to lurch towards bed, and as Miss M lost a tooth while eating her lunch I'll do a bit of Tooth-Fairying on the way. Hope everyone else had a good time too!

The Pickled Walnut Dilemma

Ah. All calm. All quiet. Frenzy over. Christmas Eve, the kids are asleep and I've got my feet up. My Beloved is playing Command and Conquer. One cat is looking a bit twitchetty and the other is sitting in an empty Amazon box, partly-chewed. The box that is, not the cat. The cat was at the vet today getting a jab and is feeling a bit sorry for himself. The same cat knocked the Christmas tree down the other day (he doesn't understand that he's Too Big now), so now the tree is weighed down with a suit of chainmail.  Which is the kind of thing we have lying around.

I made the Christmas cake last week, marzipanned it yesterday and should have iced it today but it didn't happen. It was never going to happen. I don't know why I ever thought it would. I ended up taking the kids for a longish walk in the dark and the cold and the wind and the wet at half past seven tonight to wear them out a bit as they'd been stuck mostly indoors for the last couple of days. The wind had dropped a bit this evening to what those of us from the icy north call 'a bit breezy' and the media call the End of the World. By the time we got home the kids were still hop-skip-and-jumping and racing each other to lamp posts, while I was flagging somewhat. Still, they went off to bed quite readily and are snoring happily. Or that may be one of the cats.

I was moderately organised this year. I didn't bite off more than I could chew with Christmas knitting. I bought Christmas cards in October (then put them in a cupboard and forgot about them until mid-December). I panic-bought more wrapping-paper than you can shake a stick at, should you so desire and I've really no idea why you should, and this evening found all the unused wrapping paper from last year. I had sellotape, gift tags and sticky labels all prepared. I had a brief panic when I couldn't find a present I distinctly recalled wrapping, then found it in the Amazon box that the cat is sitting in. And now it's all done! Well apart from icing the cake.

We don't really go over the top with food at Christmas - fairly generous portions but we don't feel the need to go for the full-on multiple-course feasting that others seem to do. We're probably having curry for Christmas dinner, except the Boy who is having pizza. We had roast chicken this evening so we've done the roast thing without being burdened by tradition or sprouts.

At this time of year I love to indulge my addiction to magazines and entertain myself with their outlandish ideas of what is desirable and necessary in the perfect Christmas. I notice that the perfect Christmas rarely involves the cat knocking over the Christmas tree, by the way.  Cats are allowed to look peaceful and sleepy and nothing else in magazine photo-shoots.  Occasionally you'll see a picture with a cat glaring at the photographer from behind a chair and you know the photographer hadn't spotted it and the editor is too distracted by the Farrow & Ball paintwork to notice.

This year's 'They're joking surely?' award for Christmas writing in magazines goes to this gem:

Apparently pickled walnuts are a storecupboard (not usually one word?) essential! What will I do? I don't have any! The shops are shut!  In fact, I've never had any! Ever! I must be failing at something, everything! And look - I need artisan honey! Are the bees the artisans? Do they wear smocks?

I should possibly point out that in one of those 'how .... are you?' Buzzfeed quizzes that was doing the rounds on Facebook, I came out as 0% middle-class. Zero. Maybe I'm too chavvy for pickled walnuts. I prefer to think that I'm just too posh for that quiz. Think I might be the Queen.

Ooh, it's 00:00, it's Christmas in this time-zone. Think I'll go to bed.  Season's Greetings of whatever flavour to you all!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

I could while away the hours, Conferrin' with the flowers..

Or browsing on Pinterest for that matter.  I don't while away the hours doing that, because I don't have enough hours (my diary is currently scaring me and I'm only a housewife), but I can imagine you could while away the hours there quite easily, given half a chance.  One thing I've found a lot of on Pinterest recently is book art - that is, making things out of books or out of pages of books. While part of me thinks 'oooh, clever, interesting, amazing', the rest of me is rocking backwards and forwards sobbing 'not the books, not the books'.  I just couldn't cut up a book. Not even one I hate, because I couldn't have a clever, interesting, amazing arty thing around knowing the words on it are from a book I hate.  Besides there are very few books I hate so I don't have books-I-hate piles lying round and I'm not going to pay for a book I hate am I? I can't convince myself that it's recycling to cut up a book I don't hate but am not likely to re-read either. Those go to charity shops for someone else to enjoy if they're in decent enough nick. So I suppose what I need is a book I like which is actually disintegrating in front of my eyes. Then it might be okay.

I can't cut up 'old pieces of sheet music' either. I do think sheet music is incredibly decorative and I have made things that could loosely be described as paper art (paper hearts stuck to the dining-room window) using it, but I found the music on a free sheet music website and printed it out myself.  Yes, not very green but not the horror of cutting into actual music. Actual sheet music presumably being sheet music not printed by me. I know, it doesn't make a huge amount of sense.

Newspapers don't count of course. I'll use newspaper for anything. I mostly use newspaper to dispose of the grosser findings in the cat litter tray. Though in fact, I rarely buy newspapers - the local paper occasionally for a quick glance through, knowing full well I'm going to be scooping cat poo onto it in five minutes. Sometimes it improves it.

Another thing I see a lot on Pinterest and elsewhere at this time of year is people using newspaper to wrap Christmas presents. I'm not sure if anybody actually does this or if it's just a things people do for magazine articles. They look to be suspiciously freshly ironed newspapers. And presumably ones without any bad news or shrieking headlines in them. Not sure I've ever seen a newspaper like that, meself. They do look lovely though.

I'm not a complete paper Grinch. Today I sat on the floor making paper snowflakes with Miss M.  We added glitter and everything (glitter everywhere, though mostly on me). My thing with paper snowflakes though is that they must be six-pointed*, anything else gives me that sense of not-quite-right that I also get from misplaced apostrophes (not the occasional typo, I mean catastrophically misplaced apostrophes, you know the ones). One of those stars was made at school by one of the kids last year and is based on a circle folded into four. It's only maternal love holding it up there. And a bit of blutak.

Since then the Christmas tree has gone up and I've thrown every bauble I can find at it. I know there are more baubles somewhere, my favourite ones in fact, but I've already sent My Beloved back up into the loft once for the lights and Christmas stockings. I don't do ladders very well since a falling-off-the-loft-ladder incident in my teens so our loft is terra incognita for me. There could be anything up there for all I know.

*For me. I'm not enforcing it or anything.

Thursday, 5 December 2013


I'm spending a cosy day indoors with Miss M, who is recovering from a sickness bug she had yesterday and is still a little peely-wally. It's been fairly horrible outside - high winds, rain, hail, sleet, snow (briefly) and clouds that look as if they're made from concrete but we're snuggled up on the settee and two-thirds of the way through watching The Wizard of Oz. Oh, actually it's snowing again now.

Miss M's bug came on really quickly - she was absolutely fine at school yesterday, and then we went to her swimming lesson straight after school. It was the classic Parenting Fail. As I parked at the swimming pool she told me her tummy was sore. Well, Miss M's sore tummy has been mentioned with consideration, as Mr Bennet would say, for a long time so I didn't think much of it. Halfway across the carpark she said ' Mama, I feel a bit sick'.
'Well, we'll see you how you feel once you get ins-'

That's right, ex-macaroni cheese all over the carpark. Good job it didn't happen ten minutes later when she was actually in the swimming-pool! The Boy, being squeamish, ran away - that's probably the reason he never gets ill then.

I hate it when my kids are ill - which to be fair, they hardly ever are. Miss M looked awful last night. Thankfully she stopped throwing up before eight o'clock, had a good sleep and woke up with colour in her face again and today she's been quietly doing jigsaws, playing on the computer and watching The Wizard of Oz.

Aside: Oh I do like the Wicked Witch of the West. Margaret Hamilton was brilliant!

I made a cake the other day. It was my half-birthday, good a reason as any. I share a birthday with the Boy so although we had cake then, it was according to his tastes and he prefers water icing which I find a bit sickly. I prefer butter icing, and as I'll only be 42 once, I thought a birthday cake for me, with butter icing and chocolate buttons on top would be just the thing. I'd intended to put a half next to the 42 but there wasn't room.  Actually I should have been making the Christmas cake, but I don't know if I can be bothered really.  I notice that although both of the kids supposedly don't like butter icing they've been happily scoffing my cake. Hmmm.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Scarfy goodness

 Yesterday I finally remembered at the appropriate time of day to take some pictures of my Hitchhiker and as luck would have it it was a cold sunny day so the light was excellent. I did take some pictures of myself wearing it (knitting selfies are less frivolous than normal ones, eh?) but they were abysmal. I looked pale, cold and rather forbidding, and not in a cool Ice Queen kind of way, more of the sarcastic maths teacher with a headache genre.

I'm so chuffed with how well the Hitchhiker turned out. I was a little haphazard with my row counting so some of the points ended up a bit longer than others but I think it looks pretty good. I debated with myself for a while as to whether I should cast off at the 42nd point or whether the last point doesn't actually count as a point - and I couldn't find the pattern so I don't know if that's mentioned. In the end I decided the last point doesn't count as a proper point so depending on your point of view it may have 43 points. It's very long and very warm too which is good as this morning we woke up to a hard frost and the first light sprinkling of snow this winter.

Very sunny and beautiful clear blue skies though which makes up for an awful lot.  That photo was taken about midday actually. I like the contrast with the golden leaves just hanging on by the skin of their sap and the snow/frost. The amazing yellow maybe-maple leaves that have fallen off a tree near the school looked amazing with frost on them but I didn't have time to take pictures this morning.  Also I'd have felt a bit of an idiot, to be honest. Sometimes I'm uninhibited about taking photos of random things, but sometimes I'm not.

I've taken to comparing the various weather forecast websites, just for fun. It's Parents' Night at the school tonight so that may coincide with torrential rain, a light rain shower or hail, depending on which site you look at.  I'll just wait and see.  I imagine a plague of locusts is probably not likely. Freeze-dried locusts maybe. Or soaking-wet or merely-slightly-damp locusts possibly. Weather's such an adventure!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Boing boing boing

Boing boing boing!

That's me jumping up and down in excitement because I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here will be on in 32 minutes!

I make no apologies. Yes, it's full non-entity celebrities - and this year there are even fewer that I've even heard of* - but somehow that doesn't matter. It's the silliness of the bushtucker trials that count. I hope none of the celebs are (is?) as pathetic as whatserfacefrom last year.

I am sitting with a mug of coffee and some small and pretty chocolate treats. It has been a lovely day. 

The Boy and I went into Glasgow and braved the Subway (the Boy is not keen on it) up to the West End. We were heading for the Yarn Cake of course, but naturally I forgot to take any pictures there, either of the wall of wool or of my slice of apple crumble cake. I bought some Jamieson and Smith jumper weight for the making of fingerless mitts though (can never have too many, right?)

On the way there we wandered through the Botanic Gardens and stopped in the gorgeous greenhouse, the Kibble Palace, to eat our sandwiches. It's truly lovely and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before how it looks like how I'd imagine a Victorian spaceship would look.

Then we looked at the map at the edge of the park..

.. evidence I think of a proto-Enterprise, the Kibble class starship. *nods sagely*

On the way back out later on we saw this gentleman painting gold details onto the gate. It was, not to put to fine a point on it, pissing down with rain by this time but he seemed perfectly happy in his t-shirt and hi-vis waistcoat, focused on the details.

We also stopped in at the second-hand book fair this was being held in one of the buildings in the Botanic gardens and I bought an old map. I love old maps. This one is from 1947 I think and is of the area where my parents live.

A lot of it is mountain and is fairly sparsely populated, so not a huge amount has changed really. One of the most obvious changes is that in those days there was no A9, or not as we know it.

By which I mean there was no modern A9, which is the main road connecting the Highlands with the uncivilised south (longest road in Scotland says Wikipedia - it's not a big country though).  More details on the history of the A9, should you be that way inclined, on this site.  Amazing what you find when you google.

I'm going to go now because it took me ages to resize my pictures so the minor Celebs are on and jumping out of 'planes! Oh and still no knitting pics. Daylight how I miss thee.

Steve Davis - snooker bloke, always on telly in the '80s; David Emanual - made horrible wedding dress as I recall; and I was very peripherally aware of Rebecca Adlington. She won an Olympic medal apparently.  I loathe the Olympics so purposely avoided as much of the jingoistic claptrap media coverage last year.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Swift in action

I bought myself a swift recently.  Up until now I've been wrapping skeins round my ankles to prevent tangling when winding into them a ball.  This doesn't always work well and is quite slow. I'd held off on buying a swift because a) it seemed a bit self-indulgent, they're not cheap after all, and b) I don't like the look of umbrella swifts.  I don't even like umbrellas, or umbrella-fold buggies, so an umbrella swift had no chance.  But then My Beloved had a bonus and it didn't seem that indulgent after all, and actually given the amount people will spend on mobile 'phones it seemed positively frugal - so I bought a Sunflower swift.

It's beautiful. It's like something my dad would make, which may sound like the kind of catty negative thing people say sometimes, but as my dad is particularly good at making beautiful wooden things it's actually high praise.  Anyway.  The swift is brilliant.  I think I wound that ball in about an eighth of the time it would usually take me. I don't have a ballwinder. I use a nostepinne when I can find it, a spurtle when I can't, but I might get a ballwinder too now just to speed it up a bit more for those impatient-to-knit days.  The day I took the pictures was an impatient-to-knit day.  My wool ran out on the last point of my Hitchhiker. I was amazed I'd got so far on one skein actually and had bought two skeins knowing I'd need them, but in fact I used only a tiny amount of that second skein.  I wound that wool with the end of the Hitchhiker gloriously in sight, mentally belting down the home straight towards the cast-off. And now it is finished and is lovely but I've got the lack-of-natural-daylight-in-winter problem and keep forgetting to take pictures of it in the middle of the day. And actually today was so dreich the pictures would have been rubbish even if I had remembered at midday.  And also actually, I was dyeing my hair at midday. I've been looking ever more like Lily Munster the last few weeks...  which is cool in its own way but I got fed up with it and hit the chestnut brown 'colour masque'.  Aye, right. Just call it gloop, all our senses tell us it's foul-smelling but functional, don't turn it into a lifestyle thing.

So anyway, back to the point - the Hitchhiker is finished but no pics. I have been wearing it though and it's warm and has a lovely shape and is a pretty colour. The wool (Sparkleduck Pulsar) is lovely but I've rather wasted it on the Hitchhiker, not because it's not a nice pattern (it is - the shape is soooo drapey) but because it's garter stitch. The Pulsar has a substantial proportion of silk in it and thus has a lovely sheen to it but you don't really get to see that in garter stitch. A stocking stitch project would have shown it off better.  I have the best part of a skein left though so I want to make a hat in stocking stitch, maybe with a bit of lace. And then I'll be like co-ordinated. Well, there's a first time for everything.

I shall finish with my cat having no dignity. He does this of an evening while we're watching tv. I don't know why. He also likes playing with my shoes. I suspect he may in fact but be a hitherto unknown species of dog-cat. But we love him anyway.

My cat has no dignity, doodah, doodah; My cat has no dignity, Doo-de-doodah-day!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Warm feet and fireworks

A row of coziness.  I do like a hot water bottle.  I know some people prefer electric blankets but I'm not keen - and there's something so seventies about electric blankets. Besides which, one of the joys of hot-water bottles is you get to make covers for them!

The red one on the left is one my mum made for me, I think when I was a student or possibly even when I was still at school. The stripey one is one I made for the Boy out of an old fleece dressing-gown he'd long outgrown.  I'm not great at sewing so I'm quite proud of how well it turned out. The pinky-orangey one is Miss M's and could really do with a button to fasten it now. It was fine when I first knitted it but of course being garter stitch it has stretched and sagged somewhat. Still gorgeously squishy though!  The two small ones are half-size hot-water bottles that the kids used to use. They're not often used now but I still like the covers.  I feel like knitting another cover.  It's not as if I need another one, but it's no odder than all the people who've knitted loads of lace shawls is it?

It's definitely a hot-water bottle night tonight. There have been frosts the last couple of nights and although it was cloudy and very wet this afternoon (and at its worst just as the kids came out of school of course), the skies cleared again this evening. Which meant dry and clear for the fireworks! We didn't go to a display but the kids and I went for a walk round the block to see what we could see.

 Boom! Oooh! Aaah! etc. 

Actually there were so many going in off in one place just at this point that I wondered if somebody had just lobbed a lit match into a box of fireworks. Miss M was completely horrified at the very thought - clearly they've covered firework safety at some length at school. Which is good!

Miss M claims she didn't like the loud noises and didn't enjoy herself at all. Here's a picture of her not enjoying herself at all:

'Aye, right' as we say round here.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Bigfoot sighting

Do you like my new slippers? Look comfy and cosy don't they? They are. Lovely. You wouldn't believe how many shops I had to go to to get them though, and how many times I went through the Ugly Sister routine trying them on.  Apparently I have freakishly big feet! Or not :-).   I take somewhere between a 7-and-a-half and an 8, depending on shoe style and the shop. (For Americans that would be 10 to 10.5 I think). I'm very slightly above average height for a woman. I don't think my feet look out of proportion. My husband is 2.5cm taller than me and has bigger feet. He doesn't look out of proportion either. So why am I now wearing size 9 slippers, i.e. 'extra large', and they just barely fit? I mean, thank you Next for producing bigger slippers than all the other shops I tried but I'm not actually a size 9 for anything else, so why slippers? And are actually tall people with correspondingly bigger but proportionate feet just going without? Shivering? Knitting extra thick socks?

It's quite difficult to take a picture of your own foot side-on.

Rant over. This evening we watched Much Ado About Nothing, a la Whedon. I enjoyed it very much though as we're both very familiar with the Ken and Em Much Ado we were mentally comparing it scene by scene, line by line, shot by shot. Very difficult not to!

Some thoughts:

I loved that Master Gentleman Conrade was recast as a woman but I'd have loved it even better if they'd left the 'Master Gentleman Conrade' line in.
Alexis Denisof was very distracting in what is presumably his own accent - I've only really seen him as Wesley in Buffy and Angel. Now if he'd played Benedick as Wesley in his more heroic Rogue-Demon-Hunter Angel-period guise that would have been fun. I swear he slipped into it a couple of times.
Nathan Fillion saying 'Are you good men and true?' was just right for me.
Bloke from Agents of Shield (sorry, Agents of SHIELD) as Leonato was good but when you compare him with Richard Briers who sounded as if he was born to be Leonato, well, it's an unfair comparison.
I really like Joss Whedon's house.
I loved the various pratfalls and physical humour 'cos I'm shallow that way. A groundling at heart.

I'll undoubtedly watch it again.  

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Strange architecture

Today was Miss Mouse's gymnastics club's annual display.  This year it was held at the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility. That's a bit of a mouthful isn't it? It reminds me of when the local dump was called the Civic Amenity Site. It's now called the Recycling Centre. The dump that is, not Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility.

Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility is a bit odd. I mean, look at it:

Are your eyes doing funny things? Mine are. It's a recent building, opened in 2011, built on land that used to be Ravenscraig Steelworks which seemed to always be on the Scottish news in the 1980s (I can't remember why now, and Wikipedia doesn't tell me) and finally closed in 1992.

I'm pretty sure that picture is squint but with optical-illusion-building on the horizon it's quite hard to tell.

We never really have any reason to go to that neck of the woods, so it occurred to me on the way there that the last time we went along that particular road heading in that direction we were on the way to the hospital and I was about to give birth to Miss M, quite imminently. Like 40 minutes later.

The display was excellent - the gymnastics club is quite big, with a wide range of abilities, from beginners up to the Really Quite Good and they were all very enthusiastic.  I'm glad someone had mentioned that the seats are really uncomfortable though. We took cushions. Four hours without cushions would have been, well, uncomfortable. Sports Facilities seem to believe in torturing the audience.  Well, we're the weak ones I suppose, we should be out there doing, not merely spectating. Shame on us. 

Miss M had a blast, though it overran by half an hour (inevitable really). Blue skies when we went in, pitch black and pouring with rain when we got out again at about half past six.

I keep looking back at those pictures and it is a really odd building isn't?

Friday, 1 November 2013

See it, blog it

I fairly recently started reading the my life in knitwear blog. It's an interesting read but I was particularly taken with the See It, Blog It challenge, which Rachel, the blogger, created in the "hope that it will inspire seasoned, new and occasional bloggers (myself included) to get out and See It, Blog It".  It's exactly the kind of kick up the blogging bum (and photography bum for that matter) that I like.

So October was my first attempt at a See It, Blog It challenge - and I completely failed to do the actual 'blog it' bit. *sigh* Such a numpty.  Anyway, here's what the October challenge was -  to go somewhere you frequently go or pass but don't pay usually attention to, and look at it from a different angle.  Mine was unintentional. There was a break-in at the usual venue for my daughter's dance classes (a Masonic lodge of all things, as I think I've mentioned before), and it was still a crime scene so her dance teacher had to find a new venue for that day's classes sharpish. She managed to hire the church hall down the road. I drive past that church at least six times a week and although I'd admired a tree in its garden (grounds?), that was it.

What I didn't get a decent picture of was the view back out onto the road I drive up and down so often. I frequently think that a new view of a familiar scene can be fascinating in a Through the Looking Glass sort of way. It gets my imagination going anyway.  The tree I've admired, in spring especially, is behind a fairly high stone wall so I had no idea what else was in the garden. In fact it's a tranquil sort of place, more grass than I expected with mature trees. It's quiet.  The road outside is hardly a busy road so you'd expect that but there's a nice sense of quiet you get in places with high walls and trees. Some places. Perhaps not prisons.
I looked up. It's not an old church but it's got solidity, and nice windows I thought. I was taken with the different sized panes and wondered if there was more recent Mackintosh-ish influence there. They do like their rectangles in Glasgow :-D.

Then I looked over my shoulder and there was this plaque on the wall. I just found it very endearing - 'to the Glory of God.. a rhododendron'.  Nothing too over the top, just a rhododendron. And the Moderator leaning on a spade. And the fact that there's a plaque commemorating it.

It reminded me of this little sign that I found last year.

It's by the side of a busy road. Although there is pavement there, hardly anybody ever walks along it because it's not a residential area, it's near an edge-of-town retail park, so probably hardly anybody ever notices it. You certainly wouldn't spot it from a car. It's not old and despite its resemblance to a tombstone it's (again) a commemorative thing, this time commemorating when that road was opened.  It says:

Glasgow 8 miles 
Brussels 641 miles
Opened by
Ken Collins, MEP
Member of 
the European Parliament
for Strathclyde East
Friday 23rd August 1991

I think it says Friday. Can't see for the grass. 
What fascinates me about this is that somebody commissioned this monument, somebody took some trouble over the wording, somebody carved it.  Presumably on the day there was an appreciative crowd for the grand opening (I didn't live here then). I wonder how many people know it's there?

Back to the church and I'll end with a gatepost, just because it looks so cheery. I'm not sure this was the church gatepost actually. It might have been further up the road. I'll have to check next time I go past.

Thursday, 31 October 2013


Yay, go me - cramming another blogpost into October! It's not an exciting one, just a bit of Hallowe'en fun (I think I may be the last person left using that apostrophe) and some autumn colour. I made neepie lanterns again this year. No injuries at all, not even bruised knuckles. No injuries to me that is. I did get a bit enthusiastic with the bigger neep's eyes though and sliced right through to the top. I left the smaller lantern on our doorstep and took the larger lantern out with me when I took the kids out guising.

 In progress 

The weather was a bit wild today - at ten to four there was heavy rain followed by thunder, lightning and hail (briefly). I can't say I was actually looking forward to taking the kids out, but fortunately by the time we went out the rain had stopped and the sky had cleared - we even saw some stars. It was chilly and quite breezy so my lantern's candle kept blowing out, but at least we weren't wet.  We met up with my friend from over the road and her kids. The kids had some terrible jokes to tell, as tradition dictates of course. For example:
-Knock Knock
-Who's there?
-Europe who?
-No, you're a poo!


-What does a witch want in a hotel?
-I don't know, what does a witch want in a hotel?
-Broom service!

The first one had my friend doubled up laughing every time (it was her son telling it - with great relish!).

But enough of Hallowe'en and silly jokes.  I went out for a walk the other day  - on an intermittently wet day.

It was sunny for these pictures but chucked it down again five minutes later. Refreshing though.

I like this footpath:

It looks leafy and mysterious though it actually just leads to a children's play area and more houses. The white dot in the middle is a cat who was trotting purposefully away, on some cattish mission no doubt. Secret one. Ssh. Don't tell a soul.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Fluffy stuff and nonsense

It's the night of my biannual pondering - how many of our clocks will change themselves automatically? As is traditional, I'll be wandering around tomorrow morning comparing various clocks, watches and electronic devices and getting thoroughly confused as to what the time actually is.

So farewell British Summer Time, hello GMT - it was a good summer but it's long gone now. It's been very dark in the mornings this past week and it's been tricky convincing Miss Mouse, who's not a morning person, that yes, really it IS time to get up for school. Yes, I know it's dark. No, it isn't still night-time...  The week before was the October break and we were quite lazy, given the opportunity, so the gloominess of this past week has been a shock to the system. I'm not a morning person either and I like my bed.

Here, have a splash of colourful fluffy stuff:

It's a very fuzzy picture, unfortunately, from the Glasgow School of Yarn event - this was one of the stalls in the marketplace and was gorgeously colourful. I should have taken loads of pictures but I was having too much fun catching up with people - including my friend schoolfriend H. We hadn't seen each other for, we think, about 17 years, but it was as if no time had passed. She has also ended up living near Glasgow, though the other side of the river, and we've meant to try to get together but never quite managed it. I'm glad we did this time! I also caught up with a few other people I've not seen for a while, so even before all the knitting fun, retail therapy opportunities, cake and stew I had a wonderful day out.

That's my loot. I'd like to say I was restrained, but I wasn't. I was making up for last year! I really went for warm golden colours this year. I do try to break out of my usual colour tastes now and then and these golds were just calling to me.  I went to Liz Lovick's Shetland Lace workshop and although I wouldn't necessarily say I learned anything I didn't know, I came out with more confidence with lace knitting, a clearer idea of how the stitches work together and I'm happier with lace charts too, which I've always found faintly headache-inducing until now, so it was worth it! When I came out of the workshop I headed back into the marketplace which was winding down a bit by then and bought some laceweight, the orange in the middle of the picture, from Natalie Fergie (The Yarn Yard).  I haven't dared try laceweight before because I feel so clumsy and giant-fingered using fine yarn and comparatively big needles, but I think I'm okay with the idea now.  I've got things to finish first though.

Also in the October break was Miss M's 7th birthday. I'm quite taken aback at being the mother of a 7-year-old - it shouldn't be that surprising given that I'm also the mother of a ten-year-old but it's the baby who's seven now. I always think seven is the age at which they stop seeming little. Six is still little, barely more than a toddler in many ways, but seven sounds, well, quite grown-up all of a sudden.

The cake was a bit of a mess, as you can see. She'd already had supermarket cakes for her birthday party and on her actual birthday which was while we were up north visiting my parents, but I always do a homemade cake too. The icing kind of slid off this one, as you can see, but it tasted nice. I prefer butter icing on a chocolate cake but the kids like water icing so that's what they get. I messed up the consistency for the batch that went on the sides of the cake and it was too thin.  It would never do on the Great British Bake Off but thankfully my kids are less picky than Paul and Mary when it comes to decoration. I'd love to see a Bake Off contestant decorating with chocolate buttons one day! I wonder if they've ever done a child's birthday cake on it? I didn't see the first two series. Could be a good challenge! I can just imagine Paul saying 'I wasn't sure about the decoration but the smarties and chocolate buttons really work here. But the cake is just too sweet.'  Little does he know that a kid's birthday cake can never be too sweet...

I bought some flowers the other day to brighten things up in the kitchen. More gold. I think the season has been affecting me!

This tree has been looking glorious - heart-liftingly bright and cheerful even on the dreich days.  The other day was quite breezy and the autumn leaves were just raining down, well, like rain. It's amazing how many leaves there are on a tree. At the rate they were falling off it felt as if the tree should be completely bare in 5 minutes. I'm glad that autumn still surprises me.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Thinking sheep

I'm off into Glasgow tomorrow for the third Glasgow School of Yarn, a woolly event organised by my favourite wool shop The Yarn Cake. I'm excited. If I can stop sneezing I will be very excited.  I don't wish to sneeze all over the goodies in the marketplace, or through the Shetland Lace workshop I'll be attending. I know, Shetland Lace, coals to Newcastle, eh? But I've only recently started doing lace, I'm really more of a Fair Isle person, so it'll be interesting.

Illustrating this post is a photograph of a photograph, which can more or less be subtitled 'What happens when somebody gets bored of painting the house'. This was many years ago, and Dad was the culprit. On three sides of our house were fields of sheep so this fitted in quite well really. (No, it wasn't permanent. Alas. I could have lived with it like that!)

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

and there was rejoicing

I found my missing skein of Yarn Yard Marchmont!

I found it while I was looking for something else (pesky needle gauge - so useful but vanishes all the time) and in a bag that I swear I had already looked in six or seven times. But who cares how it managed to hide itself from me for all this time, I've found it now and can go on with my Kirkja shawl!  Once I've finished the various things I've been working on in the meantime that is..

My Hitchhiker scarf for one - 36 points out of 42 completed now, yay! I noticed some people on Ravelry called this a quick easy knit, but, easy though it is, I haven't found it at all quick. I think the problem is that I so rarely use garter stitch that I'm not very skilled at resolving any minor mistakes - picking up a dropped stitch that had run for example. I had to figure that out with the help of Youtube and it took forever. It seems it was just a problem I'd never encountered before - or not since learning to knit at school, when all disasters were quickly resolved by our knitting teacher - and I struggled to get my head round it.  Still, I know now.

Today I was trying to do a provisional cast-on for the first time, again with the aid of videos. I've always managed to avoid provisional cast-ons so far but the pattern I was trying out called for it and I told myself I ought to learn for the sake of it. Urgh. Well, that was a frustrating hour or two. It's not so much the cast-on itself as getting the first actual row (or round, in this case) going properly when the stitches are on 'waste yarn' that suddenly resembles a snakeskin made of shredded rubber. Again, at least I've learned from it. Though mostly what I've learned is that I haven't much patience and will no doubt continue to avoid provisional cast-ons as much as possible (hey, half the time they aren't really necessary). Self-knowledge, I haz it.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Wonky donkey

Oooh, look September! (Yes, I know it was eight days ago). I love changing the page on the calendar - simple pleasures, y'see.  Especially when the pictures go all autumnal in theme and show baking stuff. I've been doing a bit of baking recently - one batch of brownies, one batch of bannocks, apple and blackberry crumble, and another batch of brownies because the kids liked the first lot so much. I broke the whisk making the first lot, which was a bit bizarre, and had to go and buy a new one. It was surprisingly difficult to find anywhere selling a whisk, and I ended up getting a Marks and Spencer one for more than I'd intended to pay, but at least it seems quite robust, so if my whisking superpower ever recurs we should be okay.

It's been intermittently sunny, and I'm insanely proud of the picture of my cosmos. If you look carefully you'll see the silhouette of a fly on the petals of the left-hand flower.

I had this brilliant idea, while watching the Boy playing Plants vs Zombies, that I should grow a line of sunflowers along one side of the garden next year. Not sure about the peashooter plant things though. Maybe a row of peas? I've never grown peas before.

Remember when I used to talk about knitting rather than 'what I did on my holidays'? (In my defence, it was a cracking summer). Well, I have been knitting and I've even finished some things:

I've been getting arty with the knitting shots today. I've finished the Boy's scarf and thought I'd have fun with photographing it seeing as the stripes make it interesting.

And then there are the two little bunnies. Okay the first one looks like a Wonky Donkey (ah, happy memories of Ant & Dec in days of yore) and the second one looks a bit strange generally, but the kids are pleased with them. They think they're funny.

 Hmm. So now I'm knitting an otter.  It probably turn out looking like a grizzly bear.