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!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


It has become a kind of tradition that on Christmas Eve I take the kids out for a walk in the (vain) hope that they'll burn off some energy. Traditionally too the walk starts with some fairly epic moaning about not wanting to go for a walk, it's too cold and why do we have to?  And culminates with races to the next lamp-post and back, and aww, do we have to go back in? (Yes, it's starting to rain). New for this year was a not entirely successful attempt on Miss M's part to jump a puddle, and a stop at the nearby play-park which has a new climbing-frame. Hence the muddy ankles being at eye-level.

After that I locked myself in the bedroom with wrapping paper, scissors, sellotape, and the radio tuned to Classic FM. This is way better than my previous tradition of panic-wrapping after midnight. I have even, in a fit of enthusiasm (and the certainty that I won't wish to wrap anything on Boxing Day) wrapped presents for our niece and nephew even though we won't see them until Saturday. Dedication!

Oh, the weird glowing white thing is an owl. It doesn't photograph very well.

So here we are then. I hope everybody enjoys the festivities!

Sunday, 21 December 2014


Ooooh, here I am, on my computer! I don't seem to have much 'real' computer time at all recently - my tablet is excellent for any number of things, but blog-writing is not really one of them. Or any kind of writing really - brief note-taking and the odd tweet or Facebook status is about my level. It is completely brilliant for storing knitting patterns and OU resources though. Hmm. So anyway here I am with some actual uninterrupted time on the 'puter - well, possibly uninterrupted. The cats are getting that look in their eyes that suggests they think they should have been fed some time ago ('just five minutes, cats, honest...').

I think I'll summarise December - but just the nice bits, not the crazed, wild-eyed, 'how many things have I got to remember?' bits. It's been a bit frenetic, but there have been moments.

1. I have been knitting on and off, so the picture above is of the provisional cast-on for my second sock - thank you Annie, and also Sue whose great mind thunk alike, for suggesting the COWYAK cast-on! It worked a treat except that next time I'll use a smoother waste yarn to make the unravelling a bit easier. The one I had to hand was a bit grippy and reluctant to let go, but it was still way easier than the provisional cast-on for the first sock! I haven't actually looked at the sock in a few days come to think of it. The heel is turned and I'm on the home straight but there is a discrepancy in the numbers - one needle is a stitch short - and I don't want to continue until I've thoroughly checked there's not a dropped stitch anywhere. I may just have accidently done a k2tog somewhere, but I need decent daylight to check (rolls on floor laughing - in December?!).

2. Chocolate coins looking gorgeous! Mostly consumed now, but very pretty while they lasted - I loved those foil colours!

3. Miss M made melting snowman biscuits at school (digestive biscuit with icing on it and then a marshmallow stuck on top). In a moment of rare sibling amity she made the second one for her brother. He was pretty stunned, it has to be said, but delighted.

4. Chocolate advent calendar! I'm such a child. This is a posh chocolate calendar I bought as a reward to myself for getting my first OU assignment done with minimal fuss and panic. The chocolate is very dark and very nice, but as we've been watching a lot of Doctor Who recently every time I get one of these angels I see it as a weeping angel. I'll probably start thinking Rudolf is a Cyberman next..

5. A winter walk with Miss M. This was yesterday afternoon as it was getting dark. The wind had dropped a bit and I was desperate for a bit of fresh air after going to the supermarket (not as nightmarish as it might have been but the supermarket on a Saturday is never a bundle of laughs). We weren't out all that long but even a short walk can clear out the cobwebs pretty well.

6. And finally, a snowflake decoration hanging from a light fitting. I only hung it up there as a temporary measure but actually I think it'll stay there now. It swings around at every little breeze (e.g. Miss M running beneath it) and is quite soothing to watch. Oh, it's not home-made by the way, I got it from Sainsburys, but it's a concertina thing so I could probably make something approximating it. I might do that. Ah, it'll be a laugh.  (I'm hearing that in the voice of Father Dougal. Worrying).

School has finished now so we can have a bit of a lie-in, and although I know that won't actually happen, just knowing that there's the possibility of a lie-in is wonderful, and at least I won't be running around making packed lunches or finding lunch money or having someone tell me five minutes before we leave the house that they need to take a bit of tinsel into school.  Bliss!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Cockbridge to Tomintoul

btwn Tomintoul and Cock Bridge - Snow Gates are *closed* due to severe blizzards and drifting snow :(

There's something really vicious and personal about sleet - it wriggles into your shoes and down the back of your neck; it finds all your weaknesses. Snow falls, gently, heavily or in flurries, but sleet sidles in, looking a bit dodgy.

I got soaked taking the kids to school this morning. I imagine they got a bit wet too actually, though they only walked half as far. I felt guilty about doing my usual thing of parking at the local shops and walking along to the school  - it's only 100 metres or so, but the weather was vile this morning, and I'd have been better braving the school car-park and dropping them off just for once. Mummy Guilt - it's ever-present. Also I'd have got much less wet. Hmm, must remember that in the morning if it's still horrible.

I follow Traffic Scotland on Twitter and they've been hard at work today with updates (Skye Bridge closed, Skye Bridge open, Skye Bridge closed again - it's been a bit fresh apparently). And now the surest sign of winter is here - the A939 Cockbridge to Tomintoul road is closed, among others. There's also the A93 Spittal of Glenshee to Braemar, B974 Fettercairn to Banchory and the B9007 Carrbridge to Ferness, which I'm including to add an air of exoticism to the blog. I live in the comparatively tropical Central Belt, well to the south, where we're getting sleet, hail and highish winds rather than blizzards, and I haven't been over that road in years, and never in winter thankfully, but from my childhood I remember traffic reports on the radio in the winter talking about the Cockbridge to Tomintoul road - mostly Terry Wogan joking about it as I recall.

Should you be interested, my second sock is about to have its heel turned, I'm getting stressed about Christmas shopping and tomorrow night I'm helping at the school disco. The very thought of the disco is making me want to lie down in a darkened room but I'm sure it'll be fine. Fine. Fine! (to be said in the voice of the mother in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang).

Every night I think I should write a blog-post, and I honestly do have things to ramble on about, but every evening it all trickles out of my head and that's that.  Evenings over the last three weeks were rather taken up with my annual trashy telly fix, that being I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, which was fun but not startlingly so this year (possibly nothing will ever top the comedy gold that was Paul Burrell doing Hell Holes), and at the end quite mystifying - who exactly was voting for Foggy?  My Beloved said that his motorbike forum were equally perplexed.

Oh well.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

the colo(u)r purple

Quite by accident, I seem to be into purple knitting at the moment - it is one of favourite colours but not one I knit with very often. Hmm. Don't know why.  So, squishy bed socks (pattern is Elgin, yarn is Drops Nepal, toes are warm) it is. These are my first go at toe-up socks and now that the toe is done they're knitting up quickly, but jings, crivvens and help ma boab, how anyone can say that toe-up socks are 'easier' (because there's no grafting) I have no idea - provisional cast-ons are a monumental pain in the bum! Still, I don't need to think about that until I get to Sock 2.

I'm really looking forward to wearing these socks.  As long as I have warm feet I'm pretty much happy, and every time I look at this sock I'm smiling in anticipation.

I wasn't going to mention the Cabled Thing again because I've done nothing but catalogue my mistakes with it, but I like the picture below so much I'll just mention that even when sewn up and finished, it turned out that there was a problem. Somewhere along the way I'd dropped a stitch - don't know how, I had the right number of stitches.  Hence the crochet hook holding the stitch in place.

I just love the colours in that picture though - the deep blackberry purpliness of the knitting and the coppery orange of the crochet hook. I took the photo yesterday afternoon and although the knitting was on the window sill there was barely enough natural light to get a picture without flash. The camera has overcompensated slightly for the low light, but I like what it's done for the colour, and actually this is the closest that any of my photos have got to the richness and darkness of the wool. I can imagine you can see my problem now!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


This evening I have been Doing Science.

Miss M got last month's Best Work award at school for her bendy bones experiment write-up, but the bone she used at school had been a bit thick and didn't get spectacularly bendy.  So as we had roast chicken for dinner a couple of weekends ago she wanted to have another go. This time we used the wishbone, and left it soaking in a jar of vinegar out in the mini-greenhouse*, then pretty much forgot about it until today. We brought it in, drained the vinegar off and then stared in horrible fascination. It was really bendy. So bendy she could tie a knot in it. Bleurgh!

Then we chucked it out. But having just read that page from the Science Centre link above I'm wondering now if we should have saved it and dried it out, still tied in a not. Oh well.

As she was all fired up by this we got out the chemistry set she got for her birthday and played around with did some experiments from that - just very basic stuff from the start of the booklet, mixing flour and water, oil and water, observing what happens, playing with the pipettes. Lovely word, pipettes!

Breaking news: I have cast off the Cable Headband of Doom. I'm very tempted to sew up the seam but this would no doubt lead to Disaster, so I'll wait for daylight. That makes it sounds as if I'll be waiting, knitting in hand, for the dawn.. Nah, I like my sleep.

* It's an experiment that gets a bit whiffy.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

knitting in the dark

I have come to the conclusion that I am not naturally suited to knitting dark purple things. In the evenings. In winter. While watching telly.

The headband/earwarmer thing proceeds. I won't say 'proceeds apace' because it's been a case of two steps forward, one step back (and occasionally vice versa). It really is a very straightforward pattern but because it's so dark I'm just not spotting mistakes until, ooh, ages later. Thank goodness for those lifelines eh? It's getting there now though, and I'm not seeing any obvious mistakes in that picture.

Despite my talk of dark wintry evenings it's actually clear and sunny today. Cat2 has been sprawling on a chair near the window to make the most of it. Yes, same chair, she hopped up as soon as I moved the knitting and immediately managed to look as if she'd been lying their for several hours. It's a cat talent. The one that allows them to do the 'who me?' face when you came back to a seat you vacated approximately 30 seconds ago to find that it is Taken.

Making the most of the sunshine I went out into the garden to see what's going on on. Not much, though the borage is still flowering:

As is the nigella:

The dyer's chamomile still has a few bedraggled flowers showing:

but it hasn't done as well this year. I seem to recall reading that it's sort of perennial but after two or three years it's not nearly as enthusiastic and runs out of steam, so I'll plant seeds again in the spring. Also I'll pull up the mint I inadvertently planted in that flower bed and is making a bid for flower bed domination. Actually the sunshine in the garden was at about head height and ground level was mostly in shadow due to the houses behind us, so  these pictures make it look gloomier than it is.

The poppies did okay:

The nice thing about them is that they look interesting at pretty much any stage.

This picture however pretty much summarises the garden in November:

Isolated patches of colour, but mostly greeny-brown. I did find some brilliant mushrooms/toadstools, but they didn't photograph well. Actually they looked like pancakes (drop scones, not crepes).

I can't quite believe it's November already.  Ant and Dec, minor celebs and creepy-crawlies are once more on the television so that's my trashy telly sorted for the next few weeks.

Children In Need came and went, and the school did their talent show in aid of it as usual. Miss M was up on stage on her own this time, in front of the whole school plus a lot of parents, doing a dance/gymnastics routine she made up herself*. I was so proud of her - she's much braver (and, needless to say more talented) than me. In fact all the kids were brave and enthusiastic and great. But I'll be glad not to hear Let It Go again. Ever.

I have decided not to make a Christmas cake this year, which is just as well because I should have done it by now really.  Even using a smaller tin and scaling down last year we still had loads left over so it's not worth it. I'll make mince pies instead.  Maybe. And I have done no Christmas shopping yet. I'm in denial at the moment. I'll just finish that cable headband thing first..

* To Crazy by Ms Britney Spears. Miss M is rather a fan of early Britney. Well, who isn't?

Saturday, 8 November 2014

knit on

I am knitting again! Woohoo!

My replacement needles arrived (curiously this didn't make the missing needle turn up again, which is what usually happens in such situations) and I've been cracking on with this cabled headband thing.  It's a plaited cable ear warmer* and I found the pattern in a book from the library.  Er,  just checking, the book is Simple Knitting by Ros Badger. Mostly I knit with 4-ply and tiny needles so to knit with aran and 4.5mm feels really decadent. It's such an easy pattern, so the whole thing is knitting up at warp-speed. Except when I spot a stupid mistake a few rows back and then spend some time un-knitting and re-knitting the same three rows over and over because the beautiful luscious purple is so dark that, except in daylight (of which we are in short supply at the moment), I can't really see what I'm doing. It's more purple than it is in my picture actually.

I could have ripped back to the last turquoise lifeline, but I was feeling stubborn and I wanted to know what I'd done. Still, it's sorted now! The lifelines are mostly there to make it easier to count the pattern repeats, and actually, because I just really like the way that turquoise looks with the purple.  The luscious purple is a Noro yarn I got at a P/hop yarn-swap event raising money for MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières). It's wonderfully soft and squishy, so it's a pleasure to work with even if it's tricky to see in low light. I'll forgive it!

Médecins Sans Frontières
Médecins Sans Frontières)
The reason I was able to throw myself back into knitting is that I finished my OU assignment with plenty of time to spare - submitted electronically on Thursday, a day early in fact. In all my academic adventures I don't believe I've ever submitted an assignment early before!  So I spent all of yesterday bouncing around with that kind of enthusiastic well-being you only get after handing in an assignment, the kind that makes it almost worth the shuffling of multiple pages of notes, the muttered swearing and eventually the sense of resignation ('it's probably rubbish but it'll have to do') that characterised the preceding few days. Of course on Thursday night I had a dream that it had been marked and I'd only got 48% - let's hope not!

UPDATE:  aargh, no, I've just clicked on that picture and spotted another mistake - some of my cables are not plaiting. I'd jotted the pattern down in a small notebook rather than carrying the library book around, but I've written it down wrong and I've had the cable needle in front instead of behind for row 7 in the last three pattern repeats. D'oh.. such a numpty.. Three-fifths wrong, that's fairly impressive even for me! I'm pleased now that I left all those lifelines in.

*for plaited cable ears?

Wednesday, 5 November 2014


We had the first frost of the winter last night, and a clear night was followed by a beautifully clear day. I don't know what temperature it got to in the day but it felt chilly all day - the sun was warm, but the moment you went into the shade you felt it.  It was great to see some blue sky again though! Up near the library you could see for miles and miles. I should have taken more pictures really but I was just too cold at that point. It was my first gloves day of the winter too, reminding me that I really should knit that second mitten, y'know, sometime before spring.

Tonight being Bonfire Night, the kids and I ventured out for a walk to see if we could spot fireworks. I took loads of photos but obviously they're mostly useles - that one above is of the moon with fireworks and the tops of some trees. Or alternatively it could be a colony of glow-in-the-dark bats. The cats have been more twitchy at the sound of explosions this year (perhaps there were more fireworks this year because it was a dry night?) but not excessively so. While we were out firework-watching we saw a fox slinking around completely unconcerned about the whole thing. Animals must think humans are very peculiar sometimes.

It was still cold and clear with very little breeze and the moon was particularly beautiful:

We were trying to decide whether it was full or not, but apparently it's waxing gibbous.

My brain is still addled by Cézanne - nearly finished though. I just have to add a bit to the Cleopatra answer and trim a bit more off the Cézanne one. Actually I could easily have written something twice as long for the Cézanne, which I suppose is reassuring in that I have plenty to say, but it's also quite frustrating that I'm having to prune quite so drastically. I'm only good at pruning drastically in the garden!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

the little grey cells

Now that I'm doing the OU again I'm finding bits of my brain reactivating, which is really a rather fantastic feeling! It's not that I never use my brain the rest of the time, of course, but there's something about really immersing yourself in a topic that makes the ol' brain start bouncing around as if I've been on the caffeine but without the attendant jitteriness (I do not tolerate caffeine well any more).

The course I'm doing this year is a 60-point level 1 introduction to the Arts course. It will in fact be my second last course, as I have 240 points hanging around from when I studied with the OU pre-kids, but these days they insist that you have to do a level 1 course (when I started, ahem, last millennium, I skipped straight to level 2). Actually this is probably just as well because after a twelve-year break I'm no doubt fairly rusty and it'll ease me back into it. Also this one is assessed solely by assignments - there's no exam, callooh, callay, oh frabjous day etc! So far it's going fairly well. I have an assignment to do on Cézanne and Cleopatra - not together, it's an assignment with two short questions. Imagine a single question linking Cleopatra and Cézanne! The mind boggles..

I'd written notes on both sections at the end of last week and just needed to get it into some kind of coherent answer, and today I had an intensive scribbling-on-bits-of-paper session at the local library, with both marker pens and post-it notes (get me, such a student), and it seems, touch wood, reasonably okay.  It turns out I'm a note-taker not a drafter when it comes to essay-writing, which is something our area tutor mentioned at the tutorial we had in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago.  I'd never really thought about it before, but as we have to do some reflective writing as part of the course it's probably helpful to think about the way I work and think. The whole reflective writing things is new to me and to be honest scares me silly!

As an aside I must say that I'm really really lucky with the local library. It's small and to be honest doesn't actually have a huge selection of books, though they'll try to order things in for you if there's something you really want, but it is a real community place. The staff are all friendly and lovely and helpful, and there are always things going on. Rhyme time and story time for the teeny-tiny kids, a book club, Minecraft club and regular craft sessions for the older children, and things going on for adults too. It's one of my favourite places and it's lovely to see a library so appreciated by the community.

The other day we were going out with my mother-in-law for a bit so we decided to go to Pollok Park in Glasgow. Aside from some lovely walks, Pollok Park is the home of the Burrell Collection which we used to mooch around a lot pre-children but tend to hurtle around in rather a hurry these day. Among other things the Burrell Collection includes some ancient Egyptian stuff and a collection of paintings, including a Cézanne, so I thought I'd have a look while we were there to get myself in the mood for comparing and contrasting and muttering about brushwork and so forth. Alas, the Cézanne wasn't there, just an empty space on the wall with no obvious sign explaining its absence.  I'd hazard a guess that they'd have noticed if it had been nicked though. My Beloved said there was a suit of armour missing too - the swords and armour section is his favourite bit.

So I bought the postcard:

 Le chateau de Médan

My mother-in-law and her gentlemen friend took the kids off to the café after a bit so My Beloved and I had a little while to have a proper mooch around looking at things, which is something we haven't done at leisure for ages. I had a really good look at the Egyptian stuff for probably the first time ever. I'd never had any interest in Ancient Egypt, but since the Boy did a Topic* on Ancient Egypt in Primary 4 and I had to help him, I've become more interested.  Between that, and chain-reading Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries**, and having just done the chapter on Cleopatra for the OU course I found myself looking at the various Egyptian bits and pieces with a much more knowledgeable eye. For one thing I was looking at the dates of the objects and being struck by the sheer age (and age-range) of them - there were things there which were truly old, as well as some from the Ptolemaic (Hellenistic) dynasty, the dynasty that included and ended with Cleopatra VII, the Cleopatra, which are comparatively recent as the Ptolemaic dynasty ended pretty much with ol' Cleo in 30 BC.

You know what, though? Studying can be really tiring. I'd forgotten. On that note, I'll head off to bed. Good night!

* There are many more Topics in primary school than when I was that age.

** I'm addicted to mysteries especially ones that are not in the least gritty.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

On the necessity of doilies

Sometimes I look around our house and I'm faintly surprised by it, because it's a bit anonymous. I don't mean that it's anonymous in that creepily tidy* way of hotel rooms. It isn't in any way designed, it has just evolved in the way that family homes do, but I don't know that it necessarily shows much of our characters. We have a lot of Ikea furniture  - nothing wrong with that, I like Ikea furniture, but there's a kind of inevitability to the Billy bookcase. I think what I mean is that I was looking round and it occurred to me that considering I'm a knitter and dyer there's not much individuality to our actual furnishing. 

So I thought I'd change that a bit. I went to Liz Lovick's lace-knitting workshop at the Glasgow School of Yarn last year and as part of it started knitting a piece of cat's paw lace intended to be a scarf eventually. Of course I didn't have enough of the wool in that colour for a scarf, and to be honest no real desire for another lace scarf, so the sample piece sat on the needles for ages. Eventually I knitted a bit more so that it was roughly square, did a few rows of garter stitch, cast off, blocked it, and wondered what to do with it. And then I decided my bedside table needed a doily-kind-of-thing. Actually it didn't need it (let's face it, doilies are pretty much pointless) but it did look quite nice. And then I thought a coaster would be handy for when I throw caution to the winds and drink coffee in bed while reading**.  So I knitted a garter-stitch coaster to match the doily-thing. And it looks a bit more comfortable and a bit more personal.

* Perish the thought! It is a house of clutter - there's no way that anybody could walk into our house and not realise that it contains children. And two moderately untidy adults. And two cats, though they're actually the tidiest of all of us.

** I know how to party.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Neeps and apples

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

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

River Kelvin

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

Thursday, 30 October 2014


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

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

I think I may be jinxed.

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

 Clearly innocent

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

In which I re-enter the world of blogging.

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

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

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

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Mists and mellow (also more creepy-crawlies)

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

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

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

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

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

They also attracted this... thing: 

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

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

Thursday, 4 September 2014

creepy-crawlies (nice ones)

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

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

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

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