Lincoln

Becoming a tourist in your own town sometimes helps when you’ve ended up living in a place you wouldn’t necessarily have chosen. M is very understanding when I harp on about trying new things, exploring new places and not settling for repetition or monotony. He would be so happy with a daily routine involving the same coffee in the same cafe with the same newspaper but alas, he met me, and I like to shake it up a bit.

So this morning, with M unexpectedly back from a London court case early I dragged him down to Lincoln’s Brayford Pool, the riverside area with lots of places to eat and drink, boat trips, university buildings and quite a big population of swans. It was very dull and overcast so it wasn’t exactly photo opportunity weather. There’s a tired old narrow boat to the left of the photo that I’d love to buy and do up, and live on, perhaps sail away and moor elsewhere first!

We had a riverside coffee for a change of scene and the coffee wasn’t so good, which didn’t help my cause for trying new places. It did necessitate a walk into town along the river and up the steep narrow steps to the side of the building also pictured above. Once you appear at the top of those steps you are in a high street much like any other. From the high street side of this building you can enter a wonderfully old cafe which we call High Bridge Cafe. The bridge is called High Bridge and dates back to 1160 apparently. It’s claim to fame is that it’s the only medieval Bridge in England which still has houses on it. The cafe building dates from 1540 and is exactly as you’d expect inside with lots of beams, low doors, wonky wooden floors and those lovely Tudor window panes.

I left M enjoying a better coffee whilst quickly picking up a couple of balls of a certain yellow yarn to start another of these slouchy catherine wheel stitch bags. I’m really pleased with the way this denim and grey version turned out. I initially thought that the undyed jacob’s yarn was brown but in good light it does seem to be grey and the ball band describes it as light grey. The two yarns have worked nicely together in terms of making a comfortable yet sturdy bag fabric. I used the cotton denim yarn for the gusset and strap for softness rather than the grey yarn which would have been as itchy as hell. I think I might get away with leaving it unlined for now, though I have bought a magnetic fastening about the size of a 5 pence piece (or one u.s. cent) and ideally this would be clipped into place through the lining so that it doesn’t show from the outside. I could add a round of webbing just inside, like a band of something denim maybe, or I could just live without the fastening. I need to road test the bag!

I’ve already made a start on a yellow/grey version using the same jacob’s yarn but with a pure wool yellow I managed to find today. It’s a much more subtle colour combination but I think it’ll work. E left a hint on Instagram about me making the bag in these colours so I’m more than happy to oblige. She hasn’t gone away to university yet and we are already communicating by phone whilst under the same roof! I don’t usually like making more than one of anything but the catherine wheel stitch is a very satisfying one and works well with Netflix for company. I’m currently working my way through The Killing series two. Yes I know it’s old news but luckily I haven’t heard any spoilers. I’ve also clearly forgiven the Danes for killing off an innocent Springer Spaniel in The Hunt!

Talking of which, the boys have had a bit of a lover’s tiff. It’s funny that they do this from time to time and we’ve no idea what sets it off. Harvey is so passive but I suspect even he has his limits and he seems to be trying to put Riley back in his place. He stands in a bit of a threatening way and does a low grumble which makes Riley walk sideways on tiptoes. It’s a bit like two peacocks trying to outdo each other. It’ll probably take a few days before they are best buddies again and nipping at each other’s ankles and play wrestling on the carpet.

Clearly one riverside coffee and a stroll up to High Bridge was enough pretend tourism for M for one day but we both agree that a proper break is long overdue. We’ve usually done a shepherd’s hut stay by now at the very least. We did have a short trip to Wales tagged on to a business trip but that was very brief. Several things have got in the way not least a whole series of coughs and colds and bugs and viruses. J has had the worst of it with a nasty persistent chest infection. He’s now in better shape and taking gcse exams over the next few weeks so I’m on standby with brain food and proper lunches. When I say brain food I just mean fruit/yoghurt smoothies which we both agreed would be useful vitamins during this exam period! J being J this means that I cut up all the fruit, he eats a lot of it before it reaches the blender, then he wrecks my carefully thought out and balanced flavour combinations and then finally declares it a big success because ‘he made it’. He’ll go far.

Upcycling

We’ve had several gloriously sunny evenings lately. The days were nothing special but the evenings made up for that. I took the dogs out for late walks just to soak up the sunsets. Once upon a time I’d never have ventured out at such a time. I’ve described previously how a few frightening incidents made it difficult for me to leave the house on my own for a number of years. Even now the possibility of an axe murderer does cross my mind especially as this walk is so remote but I know the chances are slim and the older I get the more I am willing to take that risk! I’ve got a few years to figure out some kind of list along the lines of ‘fifty things to do before I’m fifty’. I want to well and truly leave my comfort zone. Not that I fancy jumping out of an aeroplane.

Today though our sunset walk is not going to happen. It’s absolutely chucking it down. Riley is not happy. He really doesn’t like thunder storms or heavy rain. H and R have been running up and down the garden and in the fields for most of the day. The sun was out, the doors and windows flung open. M and I wrote a fairly long list of long overdue jobs to be tackled today and we’ve pretty much ticked them all off. We’ve been to the tip, we’ve dropped bags off at a charity depot, we’ve collected under bed storage boxes (I was too impatient to wait for M to build wooden ones and quite frankly he’s too busy anyway). He’s finishing the wiring up of our new bedroom lights as I write. He would have been finished a while ago but I saw the first one and said it was far too low so with a little muttering and swearing he’s shortening it.

The biggest job however, was finally fitting the legs to our new cable drum table. I’ve wanted one of these for a very long time. Yes I’m aware this is not a normal thing to wish for since your twenties but I’ve loved upcycling long before it was even a word. I love the fact the existing holes are all the perfect size for tealights and a pillar candle I had amongst my supplies. The cable drum top was salvaged and the legs were sourced online for Β£50 including postage, they match the coffee table that M made last December. The existing dining room table is back in the dining room and this new one is in our conservatory/living room. I doubt we will ever eat in the dining room again. I’ll be on the look out for four metal chairs now, a good excuse to drag M into junk shops. He complains but he loves a good haggle.

There hasn’t been much crocheting lately but I took the gusset/strap part of my bag project on an hour long drive and managed to get it finished. It’s only 7cm wide but very long and it used up a lot of yarn. Currently it looks short but the cotton has some considerable give so I think it’ll be just right. I’ve found a converse cotton drawstring shoe bag which is dark grey and the perfect size for a lining, whether or not it’ll get sewn in is another matter. I will see if the bag works without first of all. I’ve got another catherine wheel stitch panel to do now which I purposely left to last rather than the monotonous strap.

I usually look forward to doing a spot of crochet of an evening but today I just want to try out our new table. J just shook his head when we told him what we were going to make with that big lump of wood with staples sticking out of it, but now he’s seen it he’s showing his mildly impressed face. No words, just a thumbs up. That’ll do for me.

Tote

Turns out that Sunday morning ‘lie in’ with my crochet books, magazines, tea and little helper by my side was very productive. There was a vague idea of making something with my coarse jacob’s wool. When I bought it I thought it might end up being a bag but I didn’t want too much brown going on. Paired up with the denim and in bag form it just reminds me of jute so I’m happy with the combination. It’s also less scratchy on the hands with every two rows being worked in the incredibly soft denim cotton. I did have to switch from the wooden hook I was using to one with a smoother head, the yarns are both very splitty.

The first panel flew off the hook so to speak. I think it was the novelty of doing catherine wheel stitch for the first time. Why didn’t anyone tell me how satisfying it is to pull yarn through seven, yes seven, loops on the hook!? Not to mention how nice that looks once it’s all gathered up like a fan. I must admit I have shied away from this stitch for all this time simply because there’s a vague hint of flowery girly stuff. I think in these colours I’m safe! This is a crochet tote I’d be happy to be seen in public with.

Instead of working up the second panel I’m making the gusset and bag strap in denim next. It’s about 190cm long so it’s rather tedious but it’s given me a glimpse of the finished item so that’s helping. It may well need a lining but I’m shoving that thought to the back of my mind. I’ve got a dark grey cotton tote somewhere that might be close in size and if I’m feeling particularly determined I could sew that in by hand.

The pattern is in the book ‘Geek Chic Crochet’ by Nicki Trench. There’s a flower on the book version but of course that’s optional and not really me. I like the idea of making one or two more of these for gifts, especially now that it’s the norm to take along your own bags when shopping.

We’ve noticed a definite improvement in Harvey since he started taking his tablets. I tried him out with our usual long walks two days in a row and his limp was so much less than previously. He seems to completely forget about his dodgy shoulder when we arrive at the walk but once home he has developed a sideways jump out of the boot that doesn’t put so much pressure on that side. He’s adapting!

Meanwhile Riley is also making his presence known. He has discovered that if he jumps on our bedroom door handle, the handle goes down and the door miraculously opens. This means I’ve been waking up to his curled up little body on the rug along with a collection of shoes and socks. Thankfully no chewed up offerings but M’s sock was rather soggy. He also appears to be very grateful that I put the spare cushions down beside the bed overnight!

Meanderings


Life has returned to a rather dull monotony since our family get together last weekend. I’m happy to take monotony over and above silly arguments over the bathroom or the volume of music or who ate all the strawberries! We had a small drama with E. In fact she is a series of small dramas, the latest of which involved a lost rail ticket, a lost credit card and a student rail card left behind at home. The card turned up but too late to tell the bank not to cancel it after all. The ticket didn’t turn up and guess what, despite having an email proof of purchase and payment you cannot be issued with a replacement or travel without buying a new one. Nor can your Dad buy you a ticket to be collected at the station you are stranded at unless you have a valid card of some description even if it was his that paid for it. They certainly don’t make it easy to rescue your child from a station late on a bank holiday Monday. Needless to say she has learned a valuable lesson, i.e. when you lose your rail ticket your Dad has to do a three hour round trip to pick you up.

I’ve been on a quest to find a coffee that I really enjoy. I’ll drink most teas and most coffee but the latter usually tastes better from a cafe. As a result of all my trials and experiements I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s Italian coffee I like, strength four, which even tastes good in espresso form. So, a packet of that will be coming with us on our first teardrop trailer outing. Progress on the trailer hasn’t been very visually exciting. It’s all cables and varnishing at the moment. The inside shell has been varnished with a matt sealant which is giving off a subtle sheen. We took a trip out towards Nottingham to pick up a storm or hurricane hinge. It’s a special leak proof whopper of a hinge for the hatch that comes down over the kitchen or galley. Since I threw in the towel (threatened to move to Sussex) with M’s recent moodiness he seems to have improved hugely. Rather than his usual ‘must get back to the trailer’ inflexibility he actually suggested stopping off at nearby Bingham on the way home from the trailer place for a coffee. It seems to be a lovely little town full of old cottages and buildings. Just off the market square we found a cafe called The Picture Cafe which served great coffee. It has the kind of decor we like, lots of wood, zinc, chalk boards, upcycled bits and bobs. It was too busy to sneak a photo, though I wish I had. I didn’t have to look at the back of his phone too much either, he really is a funny person to chat to when he’s not being a twit.

Harvey does seem to be a little improved now that he’s been on his anti inflammatory painkillers for a short while. If I feel he is suffering too much I will let him have his usual run around the fields at the end of the garden but don’t take him on our long rambles. I have to be similarly careful with my damaged knee so it makes sense that I shouldn’t expect him to run miles every day and not suffer. Riley hasn’t batted an eyelid over Harvey’s absence on one or two walks nor has he stayed closer to me than usual so it’s clearly every man for himself wth these two. He does visibly enjoy the competitiveness of walks with Harvey though, they tear off like greyhounds side by side.

My knee didn’t take too kindly to lugging a petrol mower up and down our long garden yesterday. The lawn is very uneven, full of twigs and cow parsley and has sides that slope down towards a stream. I did the edges by mowing at a right angle to them, otherwise it’s easy to lose the mower down the bank. It is not a knee friendly activity. J might be earning some extra pocket money this year, though after asking him not to jetwash anything other than the deck and then finding that he’d jetwashed everything in sight I’m not too sure I want to let him loose with a petrol mower. At least it looks like someone lives here now instead of the wildflower and cow parsley experiment that was there before I mowed!

I felt I’d earned a Sunday morning lie in today (the bathroom also got a spring clean yesterday!) but my body clock seems set far too early and once you’re awake, you’re awake. I’m not normally an early riser but with a hot tea, books, magazines and a notepad I did the next best thing; had an hour in bed planning future crochet projects. Riley wasn’t far away of course, curled up on the floor by my side of the bed. Harvey prefers to stay in his own comfy bed by the radiator and a view of the back door in case someone should want to go for a w a l k or go out into the garden and throw a s t i c k! Ssh, don’t mention those words out loud.

So, as a result of my Sunday morning in bed I think a crochet bag might be on the cards. I’m hoping that the combination of a denim yarn and a slightly coarse pure undyed wool will mean I don’t have to consider a lining. I’ve been itching to use both of these yarns since I bought them and although I have a few wips this might just be another of those slight detours that doesn’t take too long and leaves me focussed for the longer projects. That’s the theory anyway. I’ll start working up the front panel and see how it looks and feels. If it’s pants to both then it’s back to the drawing board!

Reflecting

Whenever I visit my parents I am also returning to a village that was once home, as far as anywhere up here can be home that is. I was in my early twenties when I rented an old stone cottage there, with no central heating but several open fires. It was long before Mum and Dad moved to the village themselves. I had two Springer Spaniels for company, Algernon and Bertie. In fact that was Algie in a recent Instagram post with my brother and I, over twenty years ago! He was really large for a Springer and tri-coloured, he was stunning looking but a bit clumsy!

Walking past ‘my cottage’ brings back pretty good memories. Our latest walk with my brother, sister in law, niece and Mum made me even more thoughtful. I looked across at the cottage from the fields behind and thought how amazed my twenty year old self would have been with a crystal ball. I moved away after a few years at the cottage to teach Graphic Design in Oxfordshire  never imagining for one moment that I’d be back again after six years. These days I wouldn’t dare use a crystal ball even if I could. I’m happy not knowing what the future holds but I do strongly feel that you have to dream it to achieve it. So one day I’d like something basic and simple to live in once more. Like my cottage, something you can pack up in one very small van.

This somewhat secret lake is in that village. Technically speaking you need an estate permit to walk through this part of the woodland but I don’t think they reinforce it much and it would be criminal not to share this lake with those who know it is there. I could just visualise a rustic cabin on the far shore, a wisp of smoke rising from the chimney, imagine waking up in such a tranquil spot with only nature around you?

That walk obviously made me think long and hard about simplifying because today I’ve been attacking our living room space. It was extreme spring cleaning! Every nook and crannie was hoovered, even the back, inside and underneath of the sofas! Furniture was relocated. Anything I didn’t love or wasn’t useful was removed! Small jobs finally seen to, like painting the wall where we had a radiator removed, fixing a wobbly lamp base, sorting out old magazines, finding somewhere for the dvds we can’t seem to part with just yet despite having plenty to choose from on Netflix. I am sitting in the pristine space now with the evening sun pouring in and feeling very pleased with myself but knowing that I will ache from top to toe tomorrow and probably won’t touch the back of the sofas for another year at least!

I was chuffed to bits that the Ermeline cardigan I made for my niece fitted perfectly. It’s lovely and soft yarn too so I could see it was nice and comfortable and warm. I’ve chosen two pictures that don’t show her face because it’s not my place to pop her on the internet but trust me, she’s gorgeous! She brings back so many memories of E at the same age. Actually I think little E is far too young to understand how cool that pixie hood is! Like E was, she’s not fond of hats and hoods. By the time I took the picture of her standing by Mum’s sofa the whole thing had slipped off her shoulders a bit, as clothing tends to do with little ones. I couldn’t quite get a side view pic either. I had worried about those little granny triangle inserts sticking out but they didn’t at all when it was square on her shoulders.

Meanwhile I seem to have inadvertently encouraged my sixteen year old to play loud rock music. I woke up on Saturday morning with an urge to play loud music. Lou Reed’s Dirty Boulevard was playing when he poked his head round my bedroom door and said, what on earth is this? Far from being impressed he just said, ‘he should try singing instead of just talking’. Kids these days, no taste.

April

Taking part in K’s last photo scavenger hunt was fun. I thought I’d join in again. When I first started blogging I seem to remember doing a monthly mosaic for all of, er, two or three months. I’m easily distracted! It’s a nice way to look back on what has been achieved or taken place. So here we go…

(The large photo at the top is for number 9, ‘R’. The rest are in order from left to right.)

1. New: never give your dogs an old slipper each to play with, they will think that any footwear is up for grabs. When I like something I stick to it and it was tricky trying to find these Birkenstock Bostons again so they are kept on the top shelf of the shoe rack at night now.

2. Rust: close up rust on one of M’s work trestles, as I was casually wandering around with my phone macro lens, as you do.

3. Box: why on earth are Amazon still over packaging? Grrrr.

4. Ingredients: my mission in life is to stop M buying twenty ingredients every time he gets the urge to cook something ‘tasty’. So I offer up any recipe I can find with less than six. This is pea and macaroni, peas, macaroni, Parmesan, basil and olive oil. It’s yum!

5. D: dogs, always dogs. Hard work, demanding, loyal, playful, muddy, naughty, wet, stinky, hairy, expensive, noisy, funny, loving, companionable, protective, amusing, photogenic.

6. Mechanical: my new yarn swift is about as mechanical as I like it these days. Simple, wooden, easy to fix when it goes wrong.

7. Seasonal: cricket season is here once more. Now that J is 6’3 and 16 I am not allowed to do the embarrassing Mum with a camera routine so this snap is from about six years ago when he still had lovely wavy blonde hair (ha, who says I can’t still be embarrassing?!).

8. Recently finished: never thought I’d get there but very pleased that I did, one finished Last Dance on the Beach blanket!

9. R: Riley. Sometimes the best things in life are purely by chance. E saw a Facebook post from someone at her school wanting to rehome a four year old Springer. A few of her friends said, you’ve got a Springer, what difference would one more make? I did the sensible responsible adult for, oo, five minutes maybe and then said, quick, let’s go and see him. Whereas Harvey is loving, playful and loves fetching, Riley is completely nuts in every way.

10. Own: coffee, we have been lucky enough recently to start most days with a freshly brewed coffee in one of several favourite local coffee places. We chat, I often look at the back of his phone and want to throw it in the nearest canal, we chat some more, we watch people going by, we often do crosswords, we have been known to play backgammon, but mostly we just savour the coffee.

http://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/aprils-link-up-photo-scavenger-hunt.html

Thanks K!

Bobbles

The dogs had a wonderful walk yesterday in the cool but lovely spring sunshine. I try and vary the places I take them for my sake as much as theirs. I’m not great at repetition. This walk is a short drive away, down a few country lanes and far away from all civilisation, only a few barns can be spotted if you look for them. I park up, we walk as far as I can see the official footpath route, if we come across roads or the footpath becomes obscured we tend to head back the way we came. I’d love to take a map one day and cross roads, walk down country lanes and do big circular routes but Harvey is really not the kind of dog that likes being on a lead.

We are having to watch Harvey closely at the moment. I’ve mentioned his shoulder injury before, he slipped some years ago now on wet decking when M heard a loud yelp. He seemed to get over it but lately he’s been limping a lot after walks and refusing to jump down from the boot of my jeep. Eventually I decided to get him checked over and as I suspected we can either spend a huge sum of money finding out what is going on internally (x rays are into the hundreds alone) or we can try anti inflammatories and see if he improves. She did say that it looks like it might be a cartilage problem. Having torn the meniscus in my right knee last year I know how he feels and it’s still a big nuisance a year on. The difference between human ibuprofen for thirty days and dog ibuprofen for thirty days is about Β£60! He’s worth it of course. I don’t like to think of him in pain. He is actually in that top picture, if you look past the dopey thing running the wrong way you’ll see a tiny black and white splodge. Miles ahead of Riley and I as usual.

I would have returned to that lovely green and lush footpath (with it’s random lone red tulip) if the weather had been favourable today. Unfortunately dark grey skies and hail storm upon hail storm did not appeal. M and I popped out for coffee and a chat this morning. Without any cue from me he volunteered an apology for general grumpiness lately. Just to make sure we were singing from the same hymn sheet I mentioned driving grumpiness (every other driver in the road is a moron), household grumpiness (it would take too long to go into detail here) and public grumpiness (B&Q, M&S). He agreed and apologised some more and said I should remind him of this conversation when he lapses. He then sprung B&Q on me. Once parked up it decided to hail very heavily so I said that if he didn’t mind I would wait in the car because it didn’t need two of us to buy a few lengths of baton. Thence followed a whole stream of ‘I have to do everything, grump grump’. His resolve had lasted all of half an hour.

I figure that putting up with some of this is par for the course, no-one is perfect, I don’t always make sense myself. In fact it turns out that M had taken my earlier glazed over, far away look as one of unhappiness and that prompted his apology. He was right in one sense, I sometimes feel overwhelmingly like I don’t belong in this part of the country and it’s almost impossible to discuss or explain this to M who was born and bred here, so I keep my mouth shut and inevitably the feeling passes.

E has been busy at her school and returns each day with very funny stories. She’s got amazing comic timing and could easily be a stand up comedienne if she ever chose to. Unlike me she would have no qualms about standing up in front of any number of people. Teaching makes a lot of sense for her range of skills and attributes. Today they made snozzcumbers from the book Revolting Recipes. She’s a big Roald Dahl fan so this was her idea of a good time. Never mind the stench of cooked courgette, tuna and vinegar all mingled in together! Popcorn and poppy seeds were also liberally applied. Gross!

In other news we had a landmark occasion here today. I know it’s not much but it just seems to symbolise another letting go kind of thing. J had his first ever cup of tea! Woohoo! He’s so minimalist with his conversation that it’s often hard to tell what he thinks. OK was as much as he volunteered. I told him I thought he might make a tea drinker yet. I think I was probably about sixteen when I tried milky sugary tea for the first time too. Ugh. I can’t stand sugar in it now and drink it much stronger. In fact rooibos or redbush is my preferred tea these days. M can’t stand the smell and even I didn’t enjoy my first cup but somehow I persevered because I wanted to cut down on caffeine and now it’s my every day tea. Only time will tell if J sticks with tea. He says he wants extra caffeine for staying awake at school. Naturally I told him that going to bed earlier would be more reliable!

There has been a small amount of crocheting going on too. After faffing about with granny squares and bobble squares combined E and I decided that the blankets (visualised in an app) were looking too disjointed. I said I’d make a series of just bobble squares and intersperse them with plainer squares and see what that turned out like. We ended up liking bobbles for every square. So we now have the heart square because she really liked that one in my Last Dance blanket, a cactus because she has a huge collection of the plants, a zigzag that is the closest thing to an Aztec feel I could find and a pink flower because that’s the most commonly used flower colour for the cactus themed bits and bobs E has acquired. I had to figure out the flower design on graph paper myself because I couldn’t find one I liked. It’s a little more tricky than it looks because you need to leave a line of plain stitches/graph paper squares in between bobble rows. It took a few attempts.

Even though these squares are roughly eight inches square I’ve calculated that for a single bed size I’d need to make about 64 squares! That sounds like a huge task so I might just revise that a bit! I’ll have to get out my yarn weighing scales and do some maths. I’ve got a 400g ball in five colours which sounds like it should be enough for a decent sized blanket. I’ll have to use the same number of squares for each design to make it work and possibly buy extra yarn for a border. I will definitely appreciate all the effort that goes into producing a commercial pattern in future!

Forbearance

I feel very lucky to have these beautiful riverside walks pretty much to myself any time I choose to take the dogs for a walk. There’s evidence of plenty of horse riding, other dog walkers and ramblers but I rarely cross paths with them. This makes for a stress free walk since I don’t need to think about the dogs being on leads or saying ‘yes it is isn’t it!’ when someone says ‘morning’, and ‘good morning’ when someone says ‘lovely day isn’t it?’.

Riley will only make a nuisance of himself if other dogs are on leads, if they aren’t he will happily chase or be chased with his tail wagging. We once approached a woman with two dogs who immediately put them on leads. Riley was too far ahead to take any notice of me calling him back so he did get a bit verbal. I apologised and explained that he only barks if a dog is on a lead and she promptly unleashed her King Charles Cavaliers and they all had a great time chasing round in circles. I was relieved Riley had acted as predicted, dogs and children are pretty good at doing the exact opposite to what you’ve just confidently described. Naturally Harvey says a quick hello and carries on with his quest to find a good throwing/fetching stick.

E’s Easter cactus has bloomed all over. These have become a yearly tradition since she first started collecting cacti. They seem like such a lot of flowers for so little money. We buy them from the supermarket for about Β£1.40. This year there were half a dozen colours to choose from. I’m waiting for a deep pinky red one to flower too.

M is making good progress with the teardrop trailer. Since the first sheet of thin ply went up for the inner lining he’s completed the whole roof lining, sealed it and wired the electrics through the cavity it created. Various trim has been added to make nice looking seams. Lights have been ordered and collected and weather permitting they might be wired up tomorrow. I’m glad to report that we are not talking electrics quite so often now. I had to grin and bear it just once today when M drew a helpful circuit diagram on the back of a receipt for coffee. I had other things on my mind so I just nodded in the right places.

There’s been the usual family ups and downs this last week. The cricket season started with a bang as it usually does. ‘Someone’ gets over excited, takes it all far too seriously and forgets to take into account the opinions and feelings of the one actually playing cricket. I had to step in and keep the peace which I managed to do without even raising my voice. There was a two day sulk and that wasn’t the teenager. In fact it only came to an end today, in the middle of a Marks and Spencer’s Food Hall (definitely more stylish than a marital bust up in B&Q, we’ve witnessed these but haven’t quite joined the club yet). ‘Someone’ was dragging his feet around like Harry Enfield’s ‘Kevin’ and shrugging at every suggestion for dinner. I finally stopped and in a very quiet voice calmly explained that I’d had enough, that he’d used up all of my patience and that if he didn’t stop acting like a complete …. I would feel the need to discuss it, in a louder voice, right there, in Marks and Spencer’s. I don’t like ultimatums like this but boy did it work nicely on this occasion. He’s been his usual funny, life and soul of the party self since and we had a great family meal sitting at the newly positioned dining room table where the evening sun streams in.

I did some furniture shuffling over the weekend. Our dining room lacks proper sunlight since it’s positioned between the hall and the conservatory and doesn’t actually have an outside window (we might put one in one day). J and I dragged the big table through to the sunlounge and put it at the end with the double doors. When it’s sunny and warm we can eat just inside with these doors flung open whilst staying out of the wind that seems to constantly blow across from the fields. It proved good feng shui this evening when everyone was open to trying this new location and didn’t rush to leave the table after the meal. I’m thinking the vacated dining room might make a good craft area! I’ll just get M to knock up a work bench!
https://instagram.com/simplenaturalhandmade72 #aflowerforjenny

Beech

Do you ever have a day planned out in your mind and then it doesn’t quite turn out that way? The kind of day where you go to bed nice and early the night before because you need to be up at six thirty and then you toss and turn all night, either because you’re excited about the change of scene or you’re worried about not waking up on time.  The kind of day where you can’t doze on the journey down the A1 because someone beside you is also tired and doesn’t want to be the only one awake at that hour. Then the strong coffee you eventually get only barely wakes you up enough.

You arrive at the destination city and despite being given the magic plastic rectangle as currency you really don’t feel like, ugh, shopping. So you wander round looking at the cathedral and comparing it to the one in your own city, and think to yourself, ours is better. Then you watch other people taking photographs of the cathedral and think to yourself, this is a tourist place, really? You walk miles looking up at skylines and architecture, look down at pigeons cleaning the under side of their wings in the street level fountains, watch old people still in love and young people puffing on e-cigarettes, and then glance at the time and think holy crap I’ve got half an hour to buy two birthday presents and some underwear.

You meet up with your other half for a romantic lunch for two but he’s in work mode and the phone doesn’t stop buzzing with work offers and when it does stop he’s engrossed in Facebook, so you watch more old people in love and more young people slowly killing themselves with liquid nicotine. On the way home you prop your eyelids open with imaginary matchsticks because it’s still not ok to nap and anyway you wouldn’t want to fall asleep with your mouth open and be seen by traffic passing by or worse still, snapped and put on Facebook.

The day gets better when you get home and insist that you are having a nap now and it is NOT ok to wake you for any reason whatsoever. So you flop, fully clothed on to your bed and don’t even remember your head hitting the pillow, then wake three hours later with your hair sticking up on one side and the pillow imprint on your left cheek and wonder why no-one woke you for dinner. That kind of day.

On the plus side, not only did I manage to get two birthday presents and underwear in that half an hour, I also picked up a solid hunk of wood turned, by an enthusiastic amateur, into a bowl, for 50p. It looks like beech to me. I love this kind of thing (even though we have a growing number of wooden bowls) especially if it’s not varnished and the bark is left on. This one is wool sized! Not such a bad day out.

Doodling

My Scheepjes CAL blanket is finally finished! I certainly wasn’t one of the first over the finish line but I’m probably not the last! The linen stitch border is probably the part I like best, though I do like some of the textured squares like the honeycomb pattern and the waffle. The project also brought me round to the idea of using bobbles a bit more too. It was a great project to do to widen my crochet knowledge. I did a bit of ripping back on quite a few of the squares when I hadn’t concentrated enough on stitch counts. The joining up method was also a lesson in itself. In hindsight I wish I’d used dc and not slip stitch as suggested but it’s very firmly held together and it was a plus not having to sew it up with a tapestry needle. When the teardrop trailer is finished the blanket will be joining us on our travels.

We’ve been having problems sourcing a certain type of bendy wood for the teardrop. We knew that some of the materials would be in plentiful supply where these trailers are commonly used but not so easily obtained in the UK. However, there’s more than one way to line a roof so I volunteered a few suggestions and M actually called me a genius! Wow, we have made some serious progress since the early days when only the supply of builder’s tea was agreeable. M has been cutting curvy roof spars for the galley hatch and it is round about now that I’m wondering whether we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. If M is thinking the same he’s certainly not admitting it. I guess we both like a challenge.

Harvey is suffering with his old shoulder injury so we didn’t walk so far today. The clouds were magnificent. I took a few quick snaps and then just enjoyed the scenery, apart from having to shout at Riley now and then for rolling in unpleasant substances. He also stuck the front half of his body into a large fox hole which is not something I’ve seen him do before and I’m not keen for him to do again. Imagine if he got stuck down a fox hole, I’d have to rely on Harvey to hear where he was and that would not be reliable because Harvey wouldn’t really care where Riley was, only the location of his tennis ball. Brotherly love only extends so far!

I’ve been doodling in wool and on my iPad trying to figure out how to incorporate E’s desire for a cactus flower somewhere on her uni blanket. I didn’t have pink in the weight I’m hoping to make the blanket in so I doubled up a small quantity of dk and tried various combinations of petals. The pic above is the closest I’ve got to the image in my head but I’m still not quite there with it. E likes the combination of green, pink and pale grey that I’ve been experimenting with so I’ve also got to figure out which range does an Aran weight in these colours with a wool content.

The most exciting doodling has been with a new app that I treated myself too. I don’t buy much music these days and very rarely buy an app (usually the free ones do everything I need from an app) so I actually had to purchase my own iTunes card! The remaining credit after I spent all of Β£2.99 will probably remain on my account for some considerable time! The app is a very simple one, nothing flashy or complicated, it uses a photo’s of your crochet or knitted squares and allows you to plan a blanket layout. I guess it would work with square based patchwork too. You can specify the size of each square and the blanket so that it calculates how many squares you need to make. I used a couple of squares from internet photos which is why I can’t show you my first attempt at a blanket layout but once I’ve replaced those photos with my own I can show you how much fun this app is.

I showed my new discovery to M late last night and I can’t say whether it was the late hour or the lack of enthusiasm for crochet apps that elicited a less than excited response from him. I have an opportunity to visit a proper city tomorrow so I’m hoping to squish some yarn and find the colours I’m looking for. Online buying is so convenient but I find the colours aren’t always what I was expecting.

I’ve been doing a few rows of the ripple blanket shown in my header today. It’s an absolute sun trap where M is working on the teardrop and since I need to get up every five minutes to hold a piece of wood or be shown a new development it makes sense to be nearby. The only downside is that there is now a fair bit of sawdust crocheted into this blanket which I hope will wash out eventually!