Friday, December 29, 2006

29 December: Catch up

As you may have realised, I had a Birthday. (I now have the Bus Pass, too, but haven't yet used it.) My daughter made a chocolate cake to a recipe from Australian Women's Weekly Quick Mix Cakes, I added chocolate icing (novel texture because of running out of icing sugar), and my grand-daughter, with assistance, did the writing. The candle sang Happy Birthday.

The intake of books this year has been excellent. There is a huge book about gardens and gardening that I have only glanced at, a book about Longitude, and 3 that I have really got into. There was "Blood of the Isles" by Bryan Sykes - an analysis of DNA to determine the tribal origins of Britons; "No Nettles Required" by Ken Thompson - an analysis of real wildlife in gardens, not just the large creatures (though I notice he barely mentions rats!); and "England in Particular" by Sue Clifford and Angela King, Common Ground. All excellent - if you like that sort of thing, which of course you may not.

The holiday has produced some curious information from StatCounter - who would need to google "appendectomy female beach volleyball" for instance, or "helicopter and light aircraft birdbath"? What were they hoping to find? Anyway, they found the String Bag. And apparently, here is top google result for "bathmat" - astonishing.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

27 December: Nightmare

Our Internet connection went AWOL on Christmas Eve (on our return from a short trip Down South), and DH has only just been able to restore it. Something that Mac Technical Support were unable to do, I feel obliged to add.

It's been hell, folks, hell.

No blogs, no iTunes, no easy browsing for odds and ends. Awful.

Still, on the positive side, I've got lots of knitting done.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

19 December: Winter draws on

Last night we had our first proper frost of the winter. The back garden was coated in rime. This is one of the calendulas still flowering.

And here is a leaf from the liquidambar among the nasturtiums.

And this is the lobelia I've been trying to get a decent photo of for months. Last chance.

Monday, December 18, 2006

18 December: A Project

After doing a lot of tidying up, I started on a new project. In a box were some fabrics bought a couple of years ago, in colours I don't normally choose. They have been cut up to make enough squares for a simple quilt. Here they are, stacked up on my work table. The sewing box is open, the radio/CD player is standing by, and there's a cup of coffee in the middle.

Here's a view of the whole room, with everything neatly to hand (even if a whole heap of stuff has to be moved to get at what's at the back).

Now I shall spend all afternoon sewing.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

17 December: Normal service

Well, after all that excitement, it's back to normal.

But what is "normal" now? Now I've achieved the lifetime ambition of staying at home and having the money posted, what next?

There are ongoing projects, and a whole stack of things I want to try out, but do I need a schedule? So many possibilities, it's likely that I won't be able to make a decision, and will not make the most of it.

It's a bit frightening.

To start with, a bit of tinkering with the new toy that is Blogger (Beta'd but unbowed).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

14 December: Bathmat - unwatched

A knock at the door.
Van-man with a parcel.
Funny - I wasn't expecting anything. But it's got my name on; perhaps DH ordered something.
Realisation dawns - it's the Bathmat from Smaller than Life!!

Here it is, all ready for action.
But - heavens to Betsy, the mat has already had mittens!

Update - as well as continuing to get visitors looking for Fred Knit***, there has now been someone here looking for a Stuffed Dalek Knitting Pattern.
Sorry, those words may have all appeared here, but never actually all together - till now.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

12 December: The End, or The Beginning?

And just as I'd decided what I want to be when I grow up.*

Today was my last day at work. I am now on leave until the end of next week, when I become an Old Age Pensioner.

If I repeat that often enough, will I stop giggling?

Anyway, with luck I'll never see the inside of a court again. I shall miss the people I worked with, and all the chat - but I probably won't miss the customers, though I'll be seeing plenty of them every time I go out. And if I fall asleep after lunch, there won't be the worry that I might snore, or fall over.

And now, to fill the time, perhaps there should be new hobbies.
Unicycling round Europe?
A new language - Polish, or Swahili?
Learning to play that guitar I've had for 39 years?
Beach volleyball?


Saturday, December 09, 2006

9 December: Durham Coast

Today we walked north of Sunderland, a circular walk down the coast, inland over Cleadon Hill, and back to the sea. We parked by Souter Lighthouse:

The wind was strong enough to affect my horizontal hold. Then south, along the cliff-top path. The strong low sun made photography difficult, but I liked this picture of the cliffs, beach, and sea:

We turned inland at Whitburn. It was the first time I'd been there since I fell on the beach and broke my knee 2 and a half years ago. The village is charming, with a nice little church, a Gothick confection of a vicarage with fancy chimneys and lacy brickwork frills, and lots of expensive Georgian village houses.

After a snack in a park, we followed a path along field edges to the top of the hill. From here we could see south past Teesside to the Cleveland Hills. There's the ruin of a windmill at the top. The wind was blowing straight and hard and chill off the Pennines today - it would have turned the absent sails wonderfully well.

Another food stop near a Victorian water tower, where we watched a prat in a 4 wheel drive vehicle tear up and down the bumpy common.
The path crossed a golf course ("Look out for Golf Balls from the Right") then gave us amazing views up the Northumberland coast before dropping down to Marsden. The cliff top path took us back to Souter.

Then we drove up to South Shields to see the "Conversation Piece" by Juan Munoz - a number of figures grouped and spaced in a big paved area behind the dunes.

Then back to a roaring fire, pots of tea, and an early birthday cake.

Brilliant day.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

7 December: Success!

Got the photos uploaded, but because it took so long to get the posting prepared, it has appeared earlier than the last one (if you see what I mean).

So to read it, scroll down a bit, to 6 December: Family.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

6 December: Blogger problem

I've been trying to upload some photos, but Blogger has failed, and come up with an error message.

Anyone else having this sort of trouble? Is it them, or me?

Later - been reading e-mails on the Blogger Help Group page - it seems this is a widespread problem. Beta Blogger was supposed to be improved, but there have been problems using this when there weren't with the earlier (alpha?) version, and they don't let you change back.

Later, 7.30 pm - Hurrah! Photos back again. The stuff I was trying to post will shortly appear, probably after this .

6 December: Family

Yesterday Dad would have been 98, if he hadn't died 10 years ago.

Recently I've written up my family history research into a sort of book, realising in the process how little I know about my grandparents and their siblings, parents and grandparents. Now the basic facts of birth, marriage and death dates are discovered (or at least most of them - some are still elusive), I'd like to go on and find out more about them and the lives they may have led.

Going back up the female line, this is my great-grandmother, the earliest of my fore-mothers to feature in any photo we now have. She was Annie Edwards, born in 1853 in central Birmingham, and died in 1919 in Brixton.

She married a jockey (lots of racing in central Birmingham in those days!), and had 8 children, 3 of whom died in infancy. Her husband was involved with horses all his life, and kept a hunter in the stables at his place in Brixton (a trendy area in the early 1900s).

Then Annie's daughter Maude (born 1886) went on the Music Halls, where she met my grandfather, married in 1910, and my mother was born later that year. So this photo of the family must date from about 1912. Fashionable outfits - but as stage folk they had to keep up appearances.

And here's a family classic - me at Swanage in about 1952. The scowl was the result of a recent appendectomy, coupled with a stony beach and a very scratchy bathing suit made by Mum.

I still tend to scowl when concentrating, which has frightened a lot of people, though not intentionally - well not always!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

3 December: Fred Knittle again

I have been trying to divert searches for Fred (and there have been a lot of them) to the Young @ Heart chorus website - and have now got a download of Fred singing Fix You.

The mp3 track is available from the website for a very small cost.

It's a great song, and Fred sings it wonderfully - buy it for Christmas.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

2 December: Christmas time is here by golly

....Deck the halls with hunks of holly....

Or, in the case of our neighbours, as many lights as B&Q and Argos sell.

....Fill the cup and don't say when....

Those drunk drivers keep the courts busy all through January.

....Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens....

The Muppet Christmas Carol again.

....Even though the prospect sickens, brother here we go again....

Hate to say it, but when the Amazon parcel arrives next week, all my festive non-food shopping will be done.

We whizzed into Durham early this morning, at 9 o'clock were on the doorstep of the shop we wanted , and by the time we left, at 9.45, the queue for the car park was back round the roundabout and clogging up the bridge. And 3 more Saturdays to go!

The thing I dislike most about the festive season is that normal life is practically impossible for weeks beforehand, and by 9 a.m. on 26 December people are asking "Did you have a good Christmas?", as they dash off to book their holiday and buy bargains in the sales, which started 10 minutes ago.

But let's not forget the real message of Christmas -

....God rest you merry merchants, may you make the Yuletide pay....

This has been a Bah Humbug production.

P.S. Blogger has now removed all editing buttons, including the photo publishing one. So no coloured text,links, or pictures till they decide to restore this facility.

P.P.S. Sorry, Blogger - it only needed the cache cleared. Still a lot to learn about this Internet lark.