i knit because i can ...

Sunday, 29 November 2009

the good news ...

... or, as Maggie (Thatcher) might say, we are (going to be) a grandmother (again). I am so pleased, I could jump for joy. My baby, i.e., my youngest daughter, is expecting her second in July. That'll be five altogether, four little ones, as her eldest will be 4 by then, and the boy cousins will be respectively 3 and 2. Like organ pipes. And plenty of time to knit!!

Meanwhile, here it just rains and rains and rains. This morning we even had an inch of hail in five minutes. We now have a new stream running by the side of the house, and a new river further away. Thank goodness the car is parked on higher ground, just in case we need to make a quick get-away.

Yesterday we had the greatest fun. In a brief rain-free interlude, the farmer next door decided to bring a single-storey house in on a trailer drawn by a jeep. Now for the last month, said farmer has been carefully constructing a lovely, solid new three-bar fence out of thick posts and four-inch planks along one side of the drive. Along the other side towards us is mixed hedge and ditch. In full view of our house then, the farmer decides to bring in said house, which is some 9 feet wide and say 25 feet long. But somehow he seems to have overlooked the fact that thanks to his nice new fence, the drive is only maybe 7, maybe 7 and a half feet wide.

I fetch hubby to watch, pointing out, as the only woman around, and therefore, obviously, the only person who clearly sees the problem, that they will have to take the fence down. But no, the driver inches the house forward, doors, windows, curtains - yes, curtains, and for all I know, fully furnished - through the gateway, helpers lopping branches from the trees as he goes, until the inevitable happens, and he gets stuck. By this time several more men have come to help, while others including some passing children as well as ourselves, kibbitz, calling out friendly advice, or, in my husband's case, singing 'right, said Fred,' none too sotto voce , but then, tact never was his strong point!

By this time the farmer's wife is also there, arms folded across her chest, laudably silent, but her face as she watches speaks volumes. The driver inches backwards, until he gets stuck in that direction too. Long pause for consultation, examination and much head-shaking. Then, guess what, down comes part of the fence with the aid of a digger, the chainsaw and much brute force. Inch forward some more. Inch backward some more. Take down some more fence. And - repeat. Until finally, the house is down the drive and round the corner.

But my sides are still aching. Ah, the joys of life in the New Forest!!! And of being an expectant grandmama!! :)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

... a slapped wrist ...

... has again been administered, quite justifiably, it's true, for my failure to blog. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Well, I do have a bit of an excuse. I was brought low by something that if it was not swine 'flu, was certainly akin to. And very unpleasant it was too. Lasted for the best part of a fortnight, 3 days of which I spent entirely in bed, being ministered unto! I will spare the gory details of how it seemed to visit every part of my poor, ailing frame, and instead give you a lovely picture of New Forest pigs (swine - geddit???!!!) in pannage!

The pigs are loosed onto the forest floor to gobble up all the acorns, which are apparently very bad for the ponies. Their pork is said to have a superb flavour, which I shall put to the test very soon, and let you know the results of my research!

Work on our house renovation is proving very slow, as we struggle to find solutions we both like and can afford. Still, I have progress to report: we have wonderful new, automatic, garage doors! Now that may not seem much to you, but to us it signifies a beginning at last, and the opportunity to empty one of our hired storerooms thereby liberating a little more gelt for the project. So here - imagine big fanfare, tada!!! - proudly present, before:

and after:

Watch this space for the next thrilling installment, I promise it will not be so long a wait this time. I have some wonderful family pix, and some great news which I can't wait to spill. Oh, and I'm still knitting in and amongst, of course.

Monday, 19 October 2009

by popular request ....

or rather, one kind person - you know who you are! thanks very much :) - I take up my keyboard and edge back into print.

and readers, we made it! after many slips, hiccups and fears that our sale/purchase would fall through, it all fell into place in September, and we have moved from this:

to this:

and from this (the view from my London flat window):

to this (the view from my new home):

Now our days are one long saga of ploughing through the internet and brochures, visiting or being visited by tradesmen, and trying to make up our mind what we want/can afford (sadly, the two are not always synonymous) in renovating our new home.

but when we walk out of our front door we meet ponies, cows, donkeys and right now, pigs which have been turned out for pannage, that is, to eat up the acorns, thereby sparing the ponies who would be poisoned by them.*

the air is clear, the trees are gradually turning through all their colours before their leaves fall, and there is a definite tinge of winter in the air, in spite of the lovely weather we have been blessed with these last weeks.

watch this space ...

*New Forest Notes, q.v.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Pensioners in the New Forest ...

I have a confession to make: I have not been entirely honest with you all. But I have good reason, I promise.

For some considerable time now we have been endeavouring to turn ourselves from City slickers into country bumpkins. However, I have not been blogging about it, because under the peculiar way that property is bought and sold in England, the whole process is riddled with such uncertainty that one dassent think it's going to happen until it does happen! In fact it is enough to turn even me, who am the least superstitious person I know, into a fully paid up member of the ladder-avoiding, salt-over-shoulder-chucking, no-way-are-we-having-13-at-the-table died-in-the-wool crazy brigade!
Which is why I haven't been blogging about it. And I'm still not gonna! Except to say, that when it eventually comes good, we will be in the beautiful New Forest. And that is where we are now, in a cottage we are renting for reasons that will be explained all in good time. We are sitting in the living area, with the french door to the garden which is backed by the woods with nothing but green and birdsong and fresh, fresh air - marvellous. Oh, and the occasional braying of the donkey. And the New Forest ponies. And the deer. I could get used to this. In fact I intend to!

We are here until Tuesday, so I have brought lots of knitting: my Kimono jacket, which needs just a bit of stitching to finish it in time to wear for the English summer, i.e., slightly warmer rain than winter. In April we were promised a 'barbecue summer', but no sign yet. Unless of course one thinks of the usual English barbecue summer, whereby you set it all up and just as it is ready, the heavens open and everyone makes a dash for indoors!! ;)

Also, my Niebling tablecloth, Dahlie (on the left below)and a jumper for my granddaughter, when she gets back from France, in two shades of denim (the stuff that comes off all over your fingers as you knit, so you look like an Ancient Briton covered in woad - yuk - but it looks so good when it's finished and improves as it fades in the wash that it's worth the suffering). And finally some socks that I am knitting for Molly of the Celtic Swan Forge, for her Great Handknit Sock Trade 2009, in exchange for some of her lovely needles.

What with all that, and the Saturday papers, and no landline, and no mobile 'phone reception, life doesn't get much better than this - except if it becomes permanent, which I cross my fingers it soon will - watch this space!!! ;)

Sorry there are no pix, both our cameras are sick and at the menders. But you can look at the links for lovely pix, instead.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

following a new blog

found a new blog to follow - really floats my boat, so I'm sharing it in my links - 'wearing purple not dead yet ...'

Monday, 20 July 2009

3 beautiful things

Some time ago I referred to the principle of '3 beautiful things', as exemplified in Clare's wonderful blog of the same name.

Our recent trip to Ireland was mainly for the purpose of celebrating the birthdays of two of my wonderful grandchildren: Finn, who lives there and had his very first birthday on 24th June; and Ellie, who reached the grand old age of 3 on 26th. (This, she deemed, gave her the right to declare 'I'm in charge' at several junctures!!) Their cousin Luke, 2 1/2 was also present, which gave the opportunity for this photograph of my most favourite '3 beautiful things':

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

tempus fugit ...

... or, as one might say, doesn't time fly when you're having fun!

And fun we were having - good craic! We started our Irish sojourn in Dublin - where else? Another lifelong ambition realised. It was great fun. Sadly our camera decided to burst its one button, so we could take very few photos, for fear of destroying it completely.

But we managed to get round a good few things in our two days in Dublin, starting with Trinity College, and the Book of Kells. Oh glory, how wonderful it was. And Trinity College too. We had a wonderful tour guided by a student, who made it both interesting and amusing, not least by relating and then conforming to various superstitions in order not to jeopardize his exam results.

And then came, of course, Molly Malone (with Trinity College behind her):

My father used to sing Molly Malone and many other Irish songs whilst shaving, and there was a myth that there was Irish in our background - with not much foundation, I have since found. Although he, three of his brothers and his sister certainly had a celtic look about them, being small and wiry, with black wavy hair and piercing blue eyes. I grew up thinking/wishing/hoping that I might somehow be connected with that romantic land, and now I am - but only through my grandson Finn's Irish mother. Strange how our dreams can come true in ways we never dreamt of!

Then a swift visit to a hero of mine, James Joyce (and yes, I have read Ulysses, which puts me in good company, Marilyn Monroe, frinstance! And I saw Joseph Stick's film, when it first came out in 1967 - and scandalous it was thought too! Ah, sweet innocence, all gone now.):

Sadly, the Floozie in the Jaccuzzi (check out this website for some other equally scurrilous examples of Dublin humour in renaming their famous landmarks), i.e., the statue of the spirit of the Liffey River, Anna Livia, has had to make way for the Millenium Spire, but we were reliably informed a new space will be found for her soon.

Our next port of call was maybe more prosaic, but every bit as interesting: the Guinness Brewery or, as they now call it Guinness Storehouse. Oh my, oh my! The place is huge, the exhibition fantastic and, best bit of all, it ends high up in the new Gravity Bar with a free pint of the black nectar itself! And the view over Dublin is unsurpassed, especially through the bottom of a glass! ;)

Now, don't be misled by this next picture into thinking that my dearly beloved was converted from his wine-bibbing. It's all a ruse:

In fact, I had to make the ultimate sacrifice, and drink both pints. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it ...

And before I left Dublin, I just had to have a picture of these wonderful - what, exactly? Sea horses? Mersteeds? Any information/suggestions will be gratefully entertained.

More soon, I promise. Including knitting update - there has been quite a bit still.
And I think I can nominate three beautiful things: Guinness, the Book of Kells, and the Mersteeds!!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Oh dear, just saying hello to say goodbye ... !

I really do feel rather bad, because it's been such a long time since I've blogged, and now I'm only doing it to say I'm not going to do it for a while. Now how interesting is that? -not!! :(

We are off to the Emerald Isle for two weeks, part holiday, part family. I am so-o-o-o excited. We are going to tour around a bit first, starting in Dublin. Then finally we shall drop down to Killarney for a week, where there will be a grand gathering for the first birthday of my 'broth of a boy', grandson Finn. And to make it even better, two days later we shall celebrate the third birthday of my granddaughter Ellie. What could be more wonderful? And what better excuse for non-blogging?

Moreover, we hope that by the time we come back contracts will have been exchanged on our flat sale, and I can finally come clean about it all - I dassent before, in case I upset the malevolent house sale fairy and everything goes Pete Tong!!

On the knitting front, things still happening. Have done lots of Erich Engeln doilies, still to be blocked and photo'd. Also finishing my kimono, ditto. The Princess goes forward, slowly. And I am going to start a Niebling, Dahlia, in a lovely red-orange silk.

I promise much blogging about everything next month, when I'm back in circulation. Best knitwishes to everyone - I'm off on me hols!! ;)))))))

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Life in the fast lane ...

I have cast iron reasons for not having blogged, I do, I do ...

For some time now we have been plotting to leave London and move to the country. But selling up and buying something new is not all that easy right now. Funny that, who'da thought it?

Basically the story goes, we are not tired of London, but we may tire of life a little quicker than we'd like if we don't find somewhere to live that is conducive to us taking more exercise than a gentle stroll to the supermarket and back three times a week. So we decided we should make the leap, especially as I now have three grandchildren of an age to be better suited to outdoor activities, than creating havoc in a twelfth floor tower block apartment. Or rather, they are perfectly suited to creating havoc, but I'd rather they didn't have the occasion.

Of course, as soon as we make up our minds, the property market goes into freefall, the economy takes a nosedive, and the future is neither bright nor orange. But, heigho, we are going for it anyway. There are all sorts of things going on which I am not allowed to hex by mentioning before, in that time-honoured phrase, 'we have exchanged contracts'. However, I'm sure it's not tempting fate to say that as a consequence we have spent more time on the M3 Motorway between here and the New Forest, which is where we hope to end up, than in our own comfy goosedown.

In between I am tackling that room in the house which is laughingly known as my study, sorting stuff out, chucking and packing. Now I have moved often in my 'interesting life' (like the Chinese curse) and have always tried to work by the three-pile rule: everything is to be sorted into three piles, one to keep, one to give away, and one to throw away. The theory is that the 'keep pile' should be the smallest. Well, I have to be the first to admit that's not going to happen with my study. I am a bookaholic, and although I am trying to find things to sell on Amazon, most of my extensive collection will be going with me. So to make up for this weakness, I am attempting to catalogue my books as I pack. There is a good reason for this, other than simple masochism. I have been known to buy books twice, having forgotten that I have already bought them once. And although my shelves are (mostly) reasonably in order, there are enough of them for that to happen even so. Don't ask me how many, that I hope to know when I have finished cataloguing. Hopefully then, when I am tempted by a book purchase, I can quickly check my catalogue, thus saving me from wasting money that could better be spent on a book I don't have yet!! It's a good theory. ;)

So I do have an excuse, I do, I do ...

Friday, 8 May 2009

Oh my ears and whiskers ...!!!

Once again it has been an unconscionably long time since I blogged. The usual causes, I guess. Rushing round visiting grandchildren, places, etc. And now more, we have finally sold the flat, so although there is a long way to go before we actually leave (end July), there is also a lot to be done in the meantime.

As it has taken us so long to get this far, now we find that there are very few properties on the market where we want to buy. Properties that were on the market finally sold when they reached a realistic price. Few are coming onto the market, because people who don't have to sell right now are waiting in the hope that things will pick up. So we can look forward to a long search for something suitable. At the same time, we must start packing. My study lowers at me, with so many books, files and stacks of papers. As we shall probably end up renting for a time, I have to be careful to separate packing for store and packing to keep with us. What fun! not!!

Add to that two imminent grandchild birthdays, both of which will be celebrated in Ireland, and I have a schedule that makes me feel like going for a lie-down in advance. But I shall not complain, we are only too pleased to be sold, and at a reasonable price.

In anticipation of our removal, we have been assiduously visiting things that will be harder to reach once we have moved away from London. Our recent delightful visits to Kew and Wisley have been followed by other joys. We started by visiting Bateman's, the house of Rudyard Kipling. This involved a lengthy journey through Kent, into the delightful countryside around Tunbridge Wells. The house is utterly charming, and I for one could not help feeling awed when looking round the writer's study. Not least when I realised he had a couch, and more important, he frequently lay upon it, thinking!!!!!

The gardens and grounds were already showing promise of their beauty to come. An especial delight was a visit to the working mill. It was wonderful to recognise the millstone grit of my native North Derbyshire in the grinding stones. We took away some wholemeal flour to bake bread at home.

The latest of these was a visit to Pashley Manor Gardens, on the East Sussex/Kent border, to their Tulip Festival. Absolutely wonderful. The house itself, although not open to the public, was beautiful from the outside, with the most magnificent wisteria I have ever seen - and I've seen some good'uns in my time - and a wonderful Rosa banksia lutea climbing right to the roof. We lunched on the terrace, beleaguered by ducks and drakes who were so tame they thought nothing of poking their beaks into our laps to beg for scraps!

The tulips themselves were indescribably lovely, and I was so tempted as to place an order in the hope that we will have a garden by the autumn! Husband Peter was mightily taken by this clematis, which we may also have to add. Just hope we get an appropriate garden.

Pashley Manor is also host to an outdoor sculpture exhibition later in the year. There were already some sculptures in the gardens. OK, they are hares, not bunnies, but that's near enough for me!

Not to mention the beautiful bluebell wood:

And here for good measures, two more wonderful trees:

I recently purchased a large set of Erich Engeln knitting instructions/charts and am knitting my way pleasurably through a number of doilies, but so far no pix. Watch this space!!

Monday, 20 April 2009

more on trees ....

The weather having taken a turn for the better, we went to the Royal Horticultural gardens at Wisley Gardens. We spent several hours visiting such things as the Rock Garden, the Wild Garden, the Herb Garden, the small model gardens, finishing with a ramble round the rhodedendrons. I had not realised there were so many different kinds. The big ones, sure, I knew about, but there were some truly tiny ones that would not look out of place in a rockery.

But what I most enjoyed was a Japanese garden, in which I took several photos for my eldest daughter, whose birthday it coincidentally was. She now works as a gardener at a National Trust property, and one of her particular tasks is looking after their Japanese garden, so I took these photos for her.

The entrance to the garden, with the only large tree in it:

Here a forty-year old bonsai, only about three feet high!

A section with stone sculpture and a piece of naturally sculpted wood:

This, I suppose, is what most of us think of as a Japanese garden, but oh so beautifully done:

In fact, we enjoyed the day so much, we have taken a year's subscription as 'Garden Explorers', which means we get special books for my grandchildren, and can take them along any time to spot things, learn so much about gardens, and enjoy a day outdoors!! And I even managed to knit a few rows when we had a rest!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

time flies when you're having fun ...

Once again I have been peripatetic, helping post-op daughter, minding grandchildren, etc. Which has left me with little time for blogging and often little access to the internet. But all of which is great fun, so no complaints.

It has not prevented me knitting, however, which is just as well, since a dear friend has just given birth to a darling daughter (a first baby), for whom I produced this surprise jacket and heart-shaped hat, also courtesy of the great Elizabeth Zimmermann. This was the first time I tried the hat, so rather experimental, but it seems to have worked out well – although I’ll have to wait for the recipient, or rather her mama and papa, to give the final verdict. Best of all, it was knitted with STASH!!! Maybe that's why I felt I could buy some new knitting books, as a reward. Unfortunately, the cost of the books was way out of proportion with the value of the yarn, particularly since I had bought loads of it for 25p. per skein in a sale (Rowan's Lightweight DK, for those who need to know)!

And now to trees! I love old and gnarled trees, and captured a really fine specimen recently whilst visiting the wonderful gardens at Kew.

This one, with its wonderfully twisted branches is not bad either. Although now, a week later, I wouldn’t mind betting that they’re both covered in foliage. Suddenly spring has sprung, blossom and leaves everywhere, a wonderful time of year.

Monday, 6 April 2009

oh dear, has it really been that long ... ??? !!!

Somehow the time has scampered past without my blogging for nearly a month! Not without my noticing, because I have certainly done that, but I have been much too busy to grab it, whether by the forelock, or the tail! Visiting grandchildren, helping my youngest daughter, who had to have a foot op. and can't drive her daughter to and from nursery. And so on and so forth.

It has often been my observation that one either has time to write and nothing to write about, because one is doing nothing much! Or, one is doing lots of interesting things which one hasn't got time to describe, because one is too busy doing them!

Knitting-wise, things are still coming on. I have finished my son's jumper, but omitted to photograph the finished product before I gave it to him, so it'll have to wait until I see him again. The Princess grows slowly, as I am still knitting the second lot of edging points. And my kimono-style jacket had to be completely ripped back because I was using too much yarn, even though I thought I had got the tension right. I have now finished the back on 3.5 mm instead of 4, and am halfway up a front.

In the meantime, spring has sprung, as I write I am looking at a beautiful forsythia in full fantastic yellow bloom in the garden next door to my daughter's. Although I like all the seasons, even winter, which I look on as a season of rest and recuperation, an indoor time to spend building up resources for the New Year, spring is undoubtedly my favourite, full of new life and hope. I should not like to live somewhere which did not have all four seasons, even if it were warmer than the British Isles. The constant variety and contrast is so delightful. Anything less would, I think, be boring.

So my 3 Beautiful Things for today are:-

the back of my Kimono-style Jacket:

the forsythia:

and these lovely celandines:

Monday, 9 March 2009

The emerald isle ....

Having a wonderful time in Killarney, in somewhat changeable weather: rain, sun and snow, sometimes all at once. Snow still covers the mountain tops, while the gorse is beginning to bloom!
The main purpose of my visit, to see the wonderful Finn, has been more than satisfactory. Once again he has cut a tooth. He has three now, and each has been cut in my presence - must be special granny magic! ;)

He loves his bath:

And his food (waiting for dough balls in a local pizza restaurant):

His nan (wearing her emerald green cap shawl) loves him:
Father and son on Torc mountain:

We walked for three hours on Torc, the weather was fair, if blustery. There were goats with kids, frogspawn in the puddles, green shoots everywhere. Water flowed, gurgled, rushed, fell all around us, the sky was mostly blue and the air like the finest champagne. So more than three beautiful things. Life itself is beautiful sometimes - we do well to remember it.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside ...

As I am about to rush off to Killarney to visit my youngest grandson, the adorable Finn, I thought I'd get a quick blog in about my middle two.

I spent the past weekend with my youngest daughter, Imogen, and as I had agreed to look after my grandson Luke on Sunday, he came along too.
We took him and Imogen's daughter ellie to the seaside, Worthing to be precise. We had a wonderfully typical old-fashioned English seaside Sunday. Strong tea and icecreams on the beach, whilst beachcombing:

Walking up and down the promenade, Luke pushing his own pushchair, and Ellie pushing her toy buggy with Pooh bear ensconced:

Finally fish and chips with more strong tea before driving two exhausted but happy children snoring loudly all the way back home!

I was able to get pictures of Pooh in the jacket I knitted for him, although carelessly, he had left his scarf somewhere, but did have his hat!

Less enjoyable was the realisation that my niggling tooth had morphed into raging toothache requiring almost constant ingestion of painkillers. Mindful of the potential difficulties of having dental problems abroad, I succumbed to common sense and sought an emergency appointment with my lovely dentist. Right call. He diagnosed an abcess, did all sorts of things I prefer not to dwell on to make the tooth temporarily secure and roped me for more appointments to deal with the problem thoroughly on my return. What a nice prospect, eh? Still, it could have been worse, if I hadn't seen him!

Still, I have no intention of letting it put a dampener on my lovely stay in the Emerald Isle. And I am taking knitting with me, the jumper I am knitting for my son, Finn's dad (back and front complete, halfway up the sleeves) which I intend to finish while I'm out there. Now I know that wooden and bamboo needles don't upset the security cameras, I can get loads done in-flight. Fantastic.
Mind you, I think long-suffering Peter will soon forget what I look like, I seem to be away so much. Especially since in my absence he welcomed and installed the replacement for our ailing ousted fridge, with no help at all from me!!
Off with the old:
And on with the new!!

How lucky I am to have a tolerant spouse. I love you, Peter. XXX :)