Sunday, 29 March 2015

British Summer Time

The clocks changed last night. I am completely thrown by it, as usual. In retrospect a trip into the wild West End of Glasgow possibly wasn't the best idea because now I'm completely knackered! However we had a brilliant time. My Beloved was out on the local motorbike club's first spring rideout, so the kids and I met up with my brother and went to The Yarn Cake for coffee, cake (I recommend the Aprikosenwähe) and yarn-squishing. I've been teaching Miss M to knit so for the first time she took her knitting with her and was happy to sit and knit a row, before choosing some DROPS Nepal (from the Wall of DROPS in the picture) for the socks I'm going to make for her. She couldn't decide between bright blue and purple, so naturally they're going to be both. In narrow stripes.

After that we wandered along to the Botanic Gardens and mooched around my favourite greenhouse, the Kibble Palace, for a bit. That's the fabulous roof reflected in a puddle (they'd been watering the tree ferns).

I love the tree ferns.

And a mystery pretty flower!

And then in the Killer Plants section (carnivorous plants) there were these mini-spirals in the moss. I don't what they were, though they looked a bit like the pitcher plants behind them so perhaps they're pitcher plant seedlings.  Or perhaps not!

It was a great day, though by the time we got home it was sleeting and the sky was black and heavy, and we were quite glad to back in the warm. I think I might sleep well tonight!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

I've finished a thing!

My bit of mindless knitting - a moss-stitch cowl - is finished! Just in time for spring! That there is a very rare Ginny-selfie, and it took something like 20 tries to get something that wasn't completely awful. I didn't know my hair was that red. I did know my nose is that big. In any case it's quite tricky to take a photo of your own neckwear - at this rate I'll have to invest in a selfie stick!

'Needs more cat hair'

This was a fabulously lazy piece of knitting - I knitted it in the round using a circular needle and although it's wider than I'd originally intended, it meant I didn't have to faff around with Annoying Magic Looping, which I hate with a passion. I did lose track at one point and the moss-stitch became rib for a round and a half which took an annoyingly long time time to rip back - the wool is Álafoss Lopi which is quite grippy. Under some circumstances this is good of course but not so much when have 180 stitches to rip back.

On the whole it's been a very enjoyable knit and the end result is very warm and, given its general sheepiness, surprisingly unscratchy now that it's been washed and has softened a little. I'm not sure I'd cope this wool in a garment, or not without a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath, but I'll wear the cowl for a bit and see if I can bear it. Looking through my Ravelry favourites I have favourited Aftur three times over the last couple of years, so perhaps I should actually knit it!

Saturday, 21 March 2015


I actually thought I was too sleepy to blog tonight but Cat1 has fallen asleep on my legs as I sit at the computer so I may be here a while. And as I'm here, I'll show you pictures from a walk the Boy and I took this afternoon. It was a really lovely day (and why couldn't we have got weather like this yesterday morning during the eclipse, eh?), one of several lovely days this week and it's definitely feeling spring-like. We'd only been walking for five minutes when we heard bleating and as we came round a corner saw a field of ewes and lambs. The lambs were running around shouting 'Ma! Ma!' ('Look at me Ma!' 'Yeah, whatever' says Ma) and generally having fun.

We stood and watched for a bit then moved on.

The light was beautiful as it was quite late afternoon.

And we stopped and admired the view, noticed interesting things and took photographs. The Boy is excellent company on a walk.

Actually he's excellent company any time! I'm aware I tend to talk more about Miss M because she does more activities and is generally more outgoing, but in his quiet way the Boy is lots of fun too. He has a very quirky sense of humour! One of the best things about this week has been watching Stargazing Live, which they timed this year to coincide with the eclipse, and what's been even better has been watching it snuggled up with the Boy who has been keen on space for years. He'd watched bits of Stargazing Live in previous years but this was the year he started to really enjoy it and understand it - not all of it obviously, some of it's pretty technical and way over my head, but it's the enthusiasm of the presenters that carries it.

Ah, pretty good week! Apart from the bits at the dentist. We won't dwell on that.

Friday, 20 March 2015

eclipse day

So, a partial solar eclipse and despite the the almost inevitable cloud (this town is notoriously cloudy), I got a photo! The cloud thinned just enough for the sun to be visible. It's not a great picture compared with many I've seen, taken with a small compact camera and through a window, but I'm very proud of it.

I took quite a few pictures outside but it's difficult to capture the murkiness of a partial eclipse because the camera compensates for it - the one above is probably the best and that was earlier.  The west of Scotland is frequently overcast so in some ways it was like a particularly gloomy and murky morning, but I think the quality of the light is a bit different because the murk is not to do with dark rain-heavy clouds. I don't know if that's scientific but that's the way it seemed to me! One of my online buddies down south where they had clearer skies said that the birds did a second dawn chorus after the eclipse, but I don't think the birds here noticed the difference!

I took several pictures of these daffs in a pot in my garden during the eclipse, just to see if there's much difference (there isn't).  Later on though, in the afternoon, I got this picture of the frog in our tiny pond.

I spotted it yesterday but couldn't get a picture so I'm incredibly chuffed with how nicely it posed for me today. So there you go, solar eclipse and small amphibian in one day, what could be nicer?

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Ah'm makkin bannocks

A grim day outside

One of my earliest memories is of being at the playgroup at the community hall and sitting at a table just below the stage playing with playdough (not Play-Doh, just salt dough) with some of my friends. I was about three or four, and my friend Allan was rolling out the playdough when he announced in a deep and serious voice 'Ah'm makkin bannocks'. I don't know why it stuck in my head, but it did. Maybe it was just because he sounded so earnest.  Allan is now an accountant but in my head he's still the little boy who was makkin bannocks.

Anyway, since Up Helly Aa I've been meaning to have another go at bannocks, as my last couple of tries were a bit hit and miss. As it was a grim, wet, windy, wild day today I thought a bit of baking might cheer things up a bit or at least stop me staring out the windows. I googled and found a Youtube video, Makkin Shetland Bannocks, in which Mina Flaws demonstrates how to make bannocks, obviously.  It helps a great deal seeing someone making them and technique seems to make a difference as today's batch turned out a lot better than the last lot!

The ingredients are given in imperial measures in the video and I'm a metric cook. I thought my kitchen scales had a way of switching to imperial but I couldn't find it - I'm sure it's blindingly obvious and I'll figure it out sometime next week but for today I was googling again.

A lot of it is done by experience really. The first four were slightly singed as I had the heat a little high, but you don't want it too low either or it'll be raw in the middle (I'm hearing Paul Hollywood saying that in my head).

But overall they looked pretty good. Actually I was really chuffed with how they turned out and they tasted not bad at all! Going, as ever, for the multicultural experience I had bannocks instead of naan bread with my sweet potato and chana dal curry and it worked brilliantly. Mmmmm..

Food photography's a bit weird isn't it? I very rarely try it because everything turns out yellowy orange. Fortunately this is a yellowy-orange curry so that's okay. Or so I tell myself.

In non-baking news I'm going on with knitting my cowl, having fixed the bit which had inadvertently stopped being moss-stitch for half a (lengthy) round and turned into rib instead. That was a lot of un-knitting. I might even be finished by the time spring kicks in!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

*sings* what a difference a day makes

Yesterday :


The sun came out and the snow melted, so in a brief break from writing yet another assignment (honestly, it's been a month since the last one but it feels like about a week) I went outside and got a few pictures. I hadn't realised there was so much actually flowering in the garden - I'd seen the snowdrops because you can see them from the back door but the irises were in a pot that I'd moved up against the fence when it was last windy and it isn't particularly visible from the house.  There are also crocuses in another pot but they didn't photograph so well.

I have a whole post about Pinterest in my head, but ooh, bit sleepy *yawn*. It'll have to wait, probably until after the essay is done. Night-night!

Sunday, 1 March 2015


We had a day out today. Miss M was going to her first gymnastics competition, so we headed east to West Lothian and the sun (a little bit). Not being enthused about sitting watching gymnastics, the gentlemen of the family wandered off to visit Linlithgow Palace - the Boy is keen on castles and stuff and was looking at it in Minecraft terms as 11-year-olds are inclined to do - and it's probably just as well, as the competition over-ran, as such things often do from what I can gather.  Must remember to take a cushion next time. I took my knitting but didn't have enough elbow room for knitting as it was quite busy and I was wedged in between two dads. It did drag on a bit*, but Miss M and her partners (she does acro gymnastics as part of a trio) got a bronze medal in their category so that was a nice end to it. She's knackered though - they didn't do their routine until fairly near the end so she had a long time to get nervous.

When we got home it had obviously been hailing and the forecast says snow over the next few days. I can't say I'm enthusiastic about it turning colder again, but just now I have a large and radiantly warm cat asleep on my legs so that's okay.

* not the gymnastics bits so much as the judging. It hadn't occurred to me how much arithmetic they need to do! Makes sense of course - they wouldn't want to get it wrong.