Monday, January 29, 2007

29 January: Funny weather, continued.

Strolled out to the local Post office to renew the TV licence (don't want to be one of the hundreds in court for not paying). Now I know the powers that be have taken TV licence renewal away from the Post Office, but our local PO is in the general/convenience/newspaper/offie run by a pleasant couple who are probably not yet Turkeys (see 8 January), and they have the all-important PayPoint.

So I queued up with all those good people paying their fines, and almost got my debit card refused - well, cheques are definitely not acceptable these days, and I didn't have that much cash on me.

Anyway, the point is that I scarcely needed a coat on, and the air felt mild and hopeful. A robin was singing his heart out in the top of a scruffy little tree; perhaps it was the same one I saw visiting our feeder this morning, at the same time as the blackbird coming for his bath, the sparrow picking up spilt seed, and the blue tit already searching for greenfly on the roses.

The sort of day you might get in late February. Catkins dancing in the developer-planted shelter belt - and I noticed that one resident has chopped off the tops of the trees that are growing just behind his garden (I wonder if he realises the effect of pollarding trees? Bet he doesn't).

(Picture added 9 p.m.)

I've spent much of the morning on an emergency wool-dyeing exercise (mitten crisis in Cambridgeshire), but once I've had a bite of lunch, I'm off out. Non-working, that's me.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

27 January: Balaclava

The cold spell - thoughts of a balaclava - made one. Well, more of a ski mask.

That made the weather improve, didn't it?

It makes a good veil, but it's far too hot to wear now or here.

Actually, I'm not sure if the specs should be inside or outside - not up on the detail of ski mask wearing. And as skiing is not on my agenda (or indeed bank robbing), it's rather unlikely that it will ever get out of the house. Still, it was fun to make. Now for some child-sized mittens.

Monday, January 22, 2007

22 January: Gateways

Nothing happening here currently of any photographic worth, so I riffled through the old albums, and found some snaps with a common theme.

This one below is at Wallington House in Northumberland -

And this one is at Bateman's in Sussex -

And Ludlow Castle -

Suppose they are a bit of a cliche, but I still like the framing and the idea of something beyond, perhaps a bit mysterious.

Yesterday the wind was so bitter that my thoughts turned to balaclavas. Wait for it!

Friday, January 19, 2007

19 January: Home and Away

The new furniture that came last week was all carefully packaged in cardboard cartons, and inside those were layers of plastic sheeting, big chunks of polystyrene, and poly-something sheeting, all held together with enough sticky tape to remind me of Auntie Joyce (whose parcels were the stuff of family legend).

As we unpacked, we dumped the packaging in the garage. The old furniture is also in the garage, waiting to be disposed of - another problem.

The new bed needed assembling, and it was only when we had dis-assembled the old bed, stowed it in the garage, unpacked the pieces of the new bed and carried them upstairs, that we discovered that the packet of screws to fasten it together was missing. DH had to climb over the packaging and the old furniture to get to the shelves at the back of the garage, where he rummaged around and eventually (thank heavens!) found a packet of screws of a suitable size. Hooray!

This is a cliche that has never happened with any of the IKEA stuff we've bought - I was rather disappointed that it happened with something from John Lewis, which has always been one of my favourite shops.

DH took most of this packaging to the tip, but some polystyrene was left; I took this to the tip one morning, and as it was windy asked the men there where it should go, so that it wouldn't blow away. They said just to put it in the skips, and if it blew out they would get it back. Very unlikely, I thought, but what else could I do?

Most of it was last seen heading for the East Coast, released into the wild.


Sensation!! Celeb Big Bro reveals racism!!

To quote -
Father, Mother, and Me,
Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
And every one else is They.
And They live over the sea,
While we live over the way,
But - would you believe it? - They look upon We
As only a sort of They!

(3 more verses)

All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They!

Rudyard Kipling understood how people view anyone Different from themselves as Wrong or Inferior. That goes for any sort of difference, too. Sad, isn't it, in this modern and sophisticated age, that we still only see the differences, instead of the similarities.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

16 January: Gaviscon

It's a bright, cold, calm day here. The birdbath was frozen over, so I poured a some hot water into it so that the blackbird could have a warm bath.

Elsewhere in the garden, plants are being fooled into starting their spring growth. There are 2 snowdrops in flower (I have never planted snowdrops, so perhaps the birds brought them), and the clematis has new shoots.

The bird feeders needed cleaning out after all the recent rain - the seed gets soggy and not at all nice to eat.

And while I'm uploading photos, here's another pair of recently knitted mittens - just in case you have mitten withdrawal symptoms.

And the Gaviscon - well, I've had this Glen Campbell song on the brain all morning....

Saturday, January 13, 2007

13 January: Tagged

And here is the crap you've been waiting for.

5 things about me, which may or may not be true, or indeed of any interest -

1 - My low boredom threshold means I have lots of interests, and flit lightly from one to another, never sticking with anything long enough to get really good at it.

2 - I seldom wear blue or red.

3 - I loathe frogs, toads, newts, and lizards. But I quite like beetles.

4 - I enjoy reading maps (and I'm quite good at it). One of my earliest memories is of being fascinated by a map of the Festival of Britain*. Had I ever been able to run fast, I could have been a good orienteer. Except of course for the low boredom threshold.

5 - I was once beaten in the Brampton to Carlisle road race by Steve Cram. Actually, so was everyone else in the race.

The running club I belonged to at that time had a competition throughout the year, with points being gained from your placing in various races in comparison with other club members. So, if there were 6 club members in a race, and you ran fast but were the last of those club members, you got fewer points than if you were the only runner from the club in a race - then you only had to complete it to get maximum points. As a slow runner, but cunning, I tended to pick the races with fewer club entrants. Mind, I knew I was in the wrong race when we got to the start and saw Steve Cram warming up.

For much of the race I was actually the back marker, with my own personal police motorcycle outrider. Then approaching Carlisle, I overtook a young man with a physical disability of some sort, and a little further on I overtook a schoolgirl who obviously had never run 10 miles before. So I wasn't the last finisher. Sadly, I can't remember if I got lots of club points.

This posting was brought to you by Murph-tag. I thank you.

*Sunday morning update: diamond geezer has coincidentally a mention of the Festival of Britain in his post this morning.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

10 January: A little sunshine

Yesterday the rain eased up, though there was still a strong wind blowing from the west. As I'd had to stay in all morning, waiting for a furniture delivery, I made the most of the afternoon, getting out for a walk.

The lane led down to a farm. Part of the hedge had been trimmed.

Beyond the farm, the view opened out to the valley. That brisk westerly wind was bringing the next rainclouds, but the sun was still out.

DH and I spent all the evening unpacking the new furniture, moving it into place, and then removing the old furniture.

And today the entire morning has been taken up with 9-page and 6-page forms about pensions, plus a tax form. If it's not raining after lunch, I might take another walk.

Monday, January 08, 2007

8 January: Something different

While tuning the radio this morning (an unusual event in itself), I happened to catch a programme (on Radio 4!) about people from the Indian subcontinent running corner shops, and being open all hours.

It was very interesting, and it seems that the children of the shopkeepers are not going to continue the family businesses, preferring well-paid employment with evenings and weekends off and 2 or 3 holidays a year. One interviewee said that the shops were being bought up by newer immigrants from Turkey - "those Turkeys are going to be running the corner shops".

Wonderful mental picture - is that a packet of Paxo behind the counter?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

7 January: Work in Progress

At the Woolfest last year, I bought a quantity of merino fibre, which has spun up quite fine (well, I'm also getting more practised at spinning), coming out about 20 w.p.i.

So I thought I'd have a go at knitting lace, something new to me. Here's a picture of it -

And this is closer up, in better focus, and with flash -

It's on a 2.5 mm. circular needle, and it might be a scarf, though to get it long enough the other end might have to be another colour.

I now have the wadding for the quilt top I started a couple of weeks ago, so that needs progressing too. So much to do, so little time....

Thursday, January 04, 2007

4 January: New Year Resolutions

A popular theme this week. In fact, rather than resolutions, some people seem to be adopting themes, which is interesting.

Why shouldn't I break the habit of a lifetime, and make some new Year resolutions? (Answers in the frayed knot box.)

If I did, I think they would be -

1 - waste less time writing rubbish in diary and blog,
2 - get out less,
3 - put on a bit of weight.

Those should be more than averagely successful.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2 January: New shoots

Yesterday's inspection of the garden revealed that various plants are way ahead of their usual programme. It wasn't a surprise to find the hellebores with big buds -

But the daffodils are already pushing up among the leaf litter by the Japanese anemones. Usually the lungwort (the spotted leaf in the bottom left corner) grows and flowers before the daffs start. The bluebells in a pot are similarly well advanced.

Monday, January 01, 2007

1 January: Slightly distressed

Today there are aches and pains in places forgotten about for some time.

Back of the neck, shoulders, back, thighs, knees, and the underparts.

We went out for a bike ride yesterday!

There was a gap in the horizontal rainfall, and the gale died down. DH had spruced up the bikes in the hope that we might get out on them, so off we went along some of the local lanes and tracks. We tried a County Council designated "cycle route" which we hoped might lead us to the road to Durham, but by the time we were 3 inches deep in mud and leaves, heading towards a very steep drop, and there was a tree lying across the path (and it had clearly been there for quite a time), we decided that this "cycle route" was only suitable for the hardiest of mountain bikers, and turned back.

It was particularly pleasing that I was actually able to do it, because the last time I tried cycling, in 2005, the knee I broke the year before wasn't strong enough to cope. Also I was on a bike with nice low gears, and by using the appropriately named granny ring (on the gears) I was able to ride all the way up the hilly bits. The downside was that this bike had a very hard saddle - ouch!

We have spent the holiday period making plans for projects in the house and the garden, so there is plenty of other activity to look forward to in the coming months. Perhaps not so much time for knitting.