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.