Solitude

The dogs are in a state of confusion at the moment. Well I’m sure that Riley is. We’ve managed to squeeze another week away at our caravan pitch in the woods but it’s been a bit tense with H and R. They’ve never really fought with one another and although Harvey probably wondered what had hit him when the little bundle of hyperactive fur that is Riley came to live with us he has always been passive and accepting. It was a nice part of his character. Unfortunately he seems to be suffering in some way and the painkillers that were doing wonders are now making him sick. I think I know enough about dogs to know that when they are ill or injured they don’t really want you or any other dog too close. The only time I’ve ever been bitten by a dog was when I was trying to free it’s paw from between two pieces of metal. I understood why she must have thought I was hurting her and why she clamped her teeth into my hand. In fact I was so concerned about the paw the hand only hurt much later.

So Harvey is in some discomfort and every time he gets in or out of my boot or has to clamber up the caravan steps he growls like a grumpy old man. Riley thinks that Harvey is looking for a fight and starts growling back. It all gets quite snarly and alarming and sometimes we’ve had to pull over and remove Riley from the boot and put him on the back seat. Most dogs would think this was a special treat but they’ve never travelled on the back seat and he just hangs his head and looks sheepish and thinks he’s being punished.

Fortunately it’s only the boot and the steps that causes the upset. I think we can solve the boot situation by buying or making some kind of divider. Ironically when we travelled home today in two different cars, each with a dog in the boot, and stopped half way at the services Riley just wanted to get into Harvey’s boot. We will be taking Harvey back to the vet as soon as possible to see if we can try anything else. He’s been doing pretty well running around as normal, swimming most mornings in the nearby lake and they absolutely love the patch of woodland that we are next to. You can just about see our caravan, awning and my car in the photo I took coming back from our woodland walk one morning. Riley can’t wait for the blinds to go up every morning since he saw a cheeky squirrel peer into the caravan at eye level from a tree. He sits and studies the trees waiting patiently for another sighting. He may have a long wait, you can just imagine the squirrels chatting amongst themselves, ‘No Cyril, give this one a miss I saw two large hairy four legged beasts in there.’

One of the best features of the caravan is the bug mesh. In my opinion the window treatments are a total overkill. There are curtains, horrible beige things but they kind of go, then there are the blinds and finally the bug screens. I have the windows open and the bug screens down all the time. At this site it’s not so much the bugs I worry about as the squirrels!

I had quite a bit of this week to myself since M had a week long court case in London. He is used to high speed trains from home but the nearest station used older and slower trains so it did take him a bit longer than usual but instead of being grumpy about that he managed to be reasonable for a change. I do believe the simple living had a calming effect! There are two of us in this family who like solitude and two who like to be with people all the time. J and I are in the former category and E and M are in the latter, consequently M must have asked me a dozen times whether I was lonely or bored. Quite the opposite, on one morning I posted a video of the dogs swimming in the lake on Instagram. The next time I looked it said that it had been posted seven hours ago and I thought to myself, seven whole hours to myself! Fantastic!

More than anything I like the space to think without feeling pressured. It’s hard to please everyone all of the time. Meal times is one example. M likes to cook and therefore likes to do the food shopping. This should be ideal for me because I don’t like either but it isn’t because I don’t always like what he chooses to cook. With M safely out of the way in London I’ve been given free rein in the M&S food hall down the road and I’ve chosen much simpler meals. M hasn’t made any fuss about this at all. He even remarked that rump steak with potato wedges was a superb choice and yet we so rarely have that at home. He’s also stopped complaining that M&S is expensive since I bought the two steaks, wedges, dessert and a bottle of wine for £10. The bottle of wine was usually £7.50 but came free with the dine for two for £10 deal. He likes a bargain and I like M&S food so it’s a win win!

I think I mentioned the struggle I was having with the Petunia top. I did some sums and changed yarn and redesigned the shoulders and ripped back a few rows here and there, changed the shells and eventually produced a simple lacy summer top to fit a three year old. Then causally one evening whilst showing M the finished item he asked me how old our niece will be this month and I said, oops, she’ll be two! I now need to google the approximate sizes for a two year old and quite possibly start another top! Third time lucky! I’m not too worried, I enjoyed making this pink version from yarn supplies I had in the caravan but now that I’m home I can have a dig around for something a bit more adventurous. There are a couple of little tweaks I might do too. I added little splits at the side but these could be deeper next time. I also worried a lot about the neck circumference. I measured it after completion and found it was spot on for the age thank goodness but next time I think I’d make it a little more like a boat neck which would mean rethinking the whole shoulder design again.

I do wish I had a series of little cardboard torsos sometimes. That sounds kind of weird doesn’t it? It would be so much easier to tweak a design with a 3 dimensional torso to try it on. Little E’s Ermeline cardigan was a complete guessing game for size and it was sheer luck that it was a good fit. I guess I will have to settle for good old fashioned chest measurements!

So, for now it’s back to organised chaos. Cleaning the bath out after E has used a glittery bath bomb (she always says, oh yes, I was going to do that!) Thanking J for finishing the deck jetwashing but spending some time clearing up the muddy mess he left behind. Wondering why teenagers think it’s ok to leave black unidentifiable gunk in the kitchen sink despite warning them that we’d be home in two hours. On the plus side there were no piles of washed but forgotten about washing for me to re-wash and the rest of the kitchen didn’t look like something had exploded in there. I did hastily re arrange the fridge before M saw it though. Instead of the four pints of milk that usually reside in the door there was a bottle of Pinot Grigio and several bottles of Peroni. M would have taken that as a sure sign that wild parties had been held or that our children were raving alcoholics!

Photographs

A day late but I’m hoping my wifi connection lasts long enough to link up with Hawthorn Spellweaver’s Photo Scavenger Hunt!

1. The setting sun. Harvey and Riley are somewhere in the foreground of this photo I took on an evening walk in the field behind the caravan site; totally oblivious to the beauty but not to the wildlife smells.

2. Local wild place. This private lake in a hidden location in a village I used to live in really does feel like a local wild place. Home to all kinds of wildlife, I’d love to set up a night camera here.

3. Mug of your favourite drink in the garden. Well not quite the garden but as close as I can get at the moment. It’s a tin mug of Rooibos which I’m very glad I discovered when I wasn’t well and felt I should cut down on the caffeine. The first cup tasted awful but I stuck with it and now I prefer it to normal tea.

4. My kind of beautiful. Always coastlines.

5. Look to the skies. One of the small pleasures of caravanning in a woodland setting is being able to open the skylight windows and see this view. Weather permitting of course!

6. Mini beasts. Beautiful close up but I really don’t like them in the house. Or anything that flutters really.

7. Rain. Something you get used to when you live in the UK. I never mind rain as long as I’m cosy indoors (with crochet).

8. Something summery. Sussex strawberries on Bexhill beach during that recent heatwave.

9. Urban wilderness. I always think of this phrase when we are driving somewhere at the crack of dawn and there’s little traffic on the roads and somehow you notice the infrastructure so much more and particularly how ugly it all is. That’s more than likely what I was thinking when I took this photo on the way to some random city earlier in the year.

10. My own choice. The same beach as no. 8 but definitely somewhere I’d choose to be a lot more often if I still lived along this piece of coast. I’m really hoping for a family holiday there before University begins for E and A Levels begin for J.
http://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/junes-scavenger-hunt-link-up-party.html

Awol

I had so much to say in a blog post when access to wifi wasn’t possible. M has a one day break from his London court case and it’s raining cats and dogs so we are catching up with news and film downloads in good old Costa. Of course now it’s so noisy and busy I can’t recall what I wanted to write.

I haven’t tired of waking up amongst the pine trees. M leaves at first light and the dogs and I snooze for a bit longer. I take them into the woodland or the meadow depending on the weather, towel them down and then set about making breakfast. Riley has taken to sitting in the corner closest to the large window at the side of the caravan which happens to be next to a cluster of three pine trees. Yesterday I discovered why he liked that spot. He stood and wagged his tail at the trees and when I looked there was a cheeky squirrel at eye level looking straight at us with a beech nut in his mouth. We’ve seen several squirrels having a little argument outside, no doubt over food or females. A regular tatty pheasant goes by most mornings and there are lots of robins which always seems a bit incongruous since I think of them as garden birds rather than woodland ones.

I’ve taken the odd drive out for M&S coffee and a walk round the lake. On these colder days Riley has resisted the temptation but Harvey has not and comes home shivering. I’ve donated an old jacket to the dog shivering cause. M worries that I will be bored but that’s far from the case. I’m savouring every moment of peace and quiet I can get.

It’s been a good week for focusing on some more challenging crochet. I am making a summer top for E using squares designed for a bag in a big old vintage book. It’s slow but enjoyable. I’m not following a set pattern so there’s that element of ‘will all this be a complete waste of time?’ If all else fails I can turn it into a bag I guess!

I’ve also been trying to make the Petunia Top from the latest issue of Inside Crochet. It’s been rather frustrating as the pattern starts off with the incorrect number of chains for the small size and goes downhill from there. I suspect this size was never tested but don’t feel cocky enough to submit corrections. I persevered until the stage you see above and then threw in the towel. It’s not been a complete waste of time because it led to the decision to start again but this time make it according to what makes better sense to me. The shaping of the sleeves isn’t difficult but I’m dispensing with that and may add some subtle shaping with the edging (or not). I’ve also made completely different shoulder panels with a definite back and front edge. Finally I chose to reduce the fullness of each ‘shell’ to make a finer shell pattern because I’m making it for a toddler and also because it seemed to sit better with fewer trebles in each space.

I made a personal rule to only take two crochet projects to each stay in the caravan but somehow that craftily grew in number this time. I packed my tranquil shawl and E’s summer top this time. A free amigurumi kit doesn’t really count as another project does it? Then there was the flower garland kit that I found in the cupboard from last summer and finished off. Finally the Petunia Top happened simply because I had some spare cotton hanging around and even when I switched to basic dk wool that was also from supplies already in the caravan. These projects spread like crazy with a mind of their own, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

Sussex

My trusty vintage suitcase has barely been left unpacked lately. I tagged along on a business trip to one of the courts in the South this week. I’m pretty sure M wouldn’t normally travel a few hundred miles for work if it wasn’t the place I come from. The journey down was hot and stressful due to delays and a need to be there at a certain time. We’d left two and a half hours contingency and still only made it with twelve minutes to spare. Needless to say M did not worry in silence.

I spent a few hours in Lewes browsing junk/antique and charity shops with several breaks for cold drinks or coffee. It was over thirty degrees and not even a whiff of a breeze. A fair trade shop owner was offering cold water which was a very thoughtful touch. There were dog bowls outside a lot of places too. H and R were no doubt laying sprawled out on our hall tiles at the time.

On our way to stay with my Uncle and Aunt we stopped over at Eastbourne because M said he wanted to experience a traditional promenade stroll. I totally took these for granted when I was younger. The well kept flower beds and the architecture didn’t really occupy my thoughts at all back then. Now of course I look at the four storey Victorian buildings and realise they are the essence of this stretch of coast.

We did a slow walk to the end of the pier and back too. The water looked impressively blue and inviting. Seafood seemed like the thing to have here so we found a local restaurant and had a bite to eat, sitting outside at 8pm at night in a T shirt! Go Britain! On our drive along to Bexhill I had the strong sense of going back in time (we lived a bit further along the coast). Sometimes I feel sad I don’t live here anymore and sometimes I’m just happy to be visiting. It’s when I come back to Lincolnshire that I feel absolutely no joy or connection whatsoever.

It was nice to spend some time with family but also great to carve out a bit of time to be child, dog and husband free for half a day. This is becoming very rare now! I picked up a secondhand paperback, sandwich, strawberries and a much needed straw hat from one of the cheap beach shops and headed to the beach. Had I known it was going to be so ridiculously hot I think I would have packed a towel and costume too. I was rather envious of those who were cooling off in the sea. A seagull took a little bit too much interest in my strawberries. He kept sidling closer and closer and I’m not a fan of anything with a beak since an incident with a black swan when I was small. I told him, in a soft voice, no I don’t think I really want to share these (lest anyone should hear me talking to a bird and think I was slightly odd). He just shuffled over a bit closer and looked out to sea as if just casually keeping me company. Against my better judgement I did eventually give him my last strawberry, he tossed it a few times and then gulp, it was gone and so was he. Thank goodness. Off to find some tasty chips no doubt.

From the beach it is walking distance to see my Grandad. He was doing a good job of keeping his place as cool as possible by letting the breeze in through the door, keeping the sunny side curtains closed and using a small fan. It was a welcome respite from the heat. His patio thermometer read 50 degrees! A sun trap he couldn’t possibly sit out in this week at least.

Strangely we hardly ever walk down to our village pub for a drink because M would be forever chatting to people I don’t really know. It was enjoyable to walk to and from a pub one evening, sit in the beer garden and have an ice cold gin and tonic. We also had an Italian meal at Sovereign Harbour one evening too which felt very civilised. Later M conceded that maybe the South wasn’t so bad after all. I think it’s gradually winning him over.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘dreams’, as in those which seem impossible to achieve. I’ve come to realise that I need to define what my dream actually is rather than having a random selection. Location will no doubt have a part to play and it is possible that compromise will too.

For now though, home is this flat county and I must make the most of things. I’m not sure how we will make progress with the teardrop trailer that would allow me to tow it to the Lincolnshire coast since we have sited our caravan somewhere for twelve weeks. Still, all good things come to those who wait and I am prepared to wait. The caravan might not be a rustic wooden cabin in the forest but it’s not a bad substitute. We really didn’t use it enough to justify having it last year so this year we will be making up for that. The dogs are already getting used to the idea. They seem to settle down quickly for the journey and know exactly where the meadow is when we get there, not to mention Riley has a favourite half of the seating area and Harvey likes to be where he can see anyone walking by, just like home!

Cowl

It was a glorious day today. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. I wasn’t going to spend a second day sleeping and waking and wondering what day it was. I convinced M that I was feeling much better (I lied) and we took advantage of a cancellation of work to take a drive out to one of the market towns near here.

On a Tuesday this little town has a fruit and veg auction under a glass topped Victorian canopy within an old fashioned cobble stoned market square. They sell all kinds of weird and wonderful fruit and vegetables as well as plants. A one off visit is usually more than enough to fill all the random pots and troughs we have scattered about at the front of our property. There really isn’t much point in planting tubs out the back because the dogs are often out there without being supervised. Harvey has always thought that tubs and pots are specifically for digging up. He brings the mangled plants to you which he thinks is being helpful. When you put it in the context of us praising him for bringing all the branches that are littering the garden for the bonfire you can see where he’s coming from.

M loves the banter of this auction, he’s been going since long before we me and he’s actually quite good at it. It also went some way to balancing out the trip to Ikea. He suffered that and I suffered this three hour long auction! We’ve ended up with enough plants to give half to Mum for her garden and that was after filling an old rusty wheelbarrow chock full of lupins, primula, hyacinths and tulips, six or seven large pots and a window box. We spent less than £15 including flowers and vegetables. I’ve got a kitchen full of flowers which were going for 30p a bunch and enough vegetables to do stews for a month!

The above photos of my new stash busting cowl were taken in haste this morning before we set off. It’s lovely and thick and warm. I didn’t manage to stand through the whole auction so M bought me a large coffee and I sat in the churchyard nearby with the sun on my face. I was still glad of the warm cowl though. Every now and then M dropped off a tray of plants with me. Then a nice old man asked if I would mind looking after his plants too. I didn’t mind at all. Then a nice old woman came to ask me if I was thinking of someone buried in the churchyard, which would normally have been an unwelcome question but I told her I was. I told her I was thinking of my Nan, who isn’t buried in the churchyard (but at rest somewhere much nicer) and that she would probably have enjoyed this auction. In return she told me a lot about her Mum. A little bit later still and another old chap decided I would be a good bet for a chat but unfortunately his accent was a bit of a struggle and he gave up on me before too long.

So, for the crochet details… it seems there are quite a few variations on a theme when it comes to these forked half trebles. Most of them seemed to use a variety that ended with a loop being pulled through five loops on the hook. The one I used did not. It doesn’t show in the flat photo but in the other shot you can see how this stitch kind of puffs up the row. I eventually found the link again and it’s http://makeanddocrew.com/cowl-caron-cakes-yarn-free-crochet-pattern/ I don’t think mine looks much like theirs to be honest but I followed the stitch instructions to the letter so the differences are probably due to the yarn type. If I’d been in the mood for faffing about with selfies I might have taken some sideways shots or just better shots like the ones in the link, but hey, it’s the best I can do today!

If I made another then I would construct it the way I’m making M’s scarf, in a continuous tube. It would be fit for the coldest of days, it would take longer than two evenings to make and it would stash bust more of my aran weight supplies. It would also eliminate that raw edge which, for some strange OCD kind of reason, I prefer to tuck under and out of sight (but you can see it in the oatmeal stripe above). It would be a good sized project for me because I get bored with blankets too easily and garments are not so easy to cart around.

I really ought to be setting myself a target to finish a few wips first. Perhaps one a week. I bravely opened the first box of wips today and found the two halves of a crochet whale 🐳 . I know, it’s very random. It doesn’t seem to be in need of much work, just some surface cross stitch and sewing up. It was probably the thought of attempting the cross stitch that made me shove it to one side. I was never very good at cross stitch at school. Hopefully he’ll be the first wip I cross off the list this week. I’ve no idea why I started making this whale but he’d make a good shelf ornament or perhaps a door stop if I filled his bottom half with something heavy, but first the dreaded cross stitch!

Lemons

Alas the trip was not meant to be. J is on the mend but looking after the dogs and cooking would have been something he’d have needed a hand with. Turns out that wasn’t available. Even with M staying behind to hold the fort I can’t manage the 4-5 hours of driving with my neck and shoulder problem. The equivalent train journey is long with several changes and expensive, not to mention inconvenient whilst I’m down there. My last trip’home’ was a year ago and not with M, I think it’s been at least five years since we visited together so it’s not surprising that I was looking forward to it.

Although I was extremely disappointed last night I’m always practical in the cold light of day. M wanted to spend his three days off doing bedroom diy. There are smaller jobs to finish off now including sanding and painting the skirting boards, fitting a couple of new pieces of skirting board, rehanging the door, shelves to put up etc. He is tired and has a hectic schedule from next week onwards so not having a break at all didn’t really make a lot of sense to me. I finally got him to see the logic in having a few excursions from home instead. We only ever have an odd morning or an afternoon here and there which means we tend to stay local. So, with much moaning and fuss M agreed to drive out to Horncastle which is yet another small market town in Lincolnshire. It’s nothing special but has quite a few junk and antique places, a river running through the town, a few half decent places to have coffee, the best hardware shop ever and a great, meandering old book shop called Jabberwock Books. There are two or three sewing/haberdashery/yarn shops too but I wasn’t going to push my luck and have a look at those!

The church in the photo’s above is an easy antique place to miss if you don’t know it’s there. It’s packed to the rafters inside and M finally started enjoying himself when he came across an old, hand carved wooden bucket, I’m not sure whether it’s an old milk pail or for butter making but it has come home with us, along with a big old wooden scoop. I think we might end up using it for dog mixer, I’m all for using old stuff!

I’m a sucker for pottery so my purchases were both in this line. The bowls are hand thrown and marked Sandwich and the green stem vase is a by a potter with a mark (Hy) I keep coming across but have no idea who or where they are based. Total cost five pounds for the bowls and the vase. I think the latter might be classed as a second on account of its wonky top but that’s precisely what I like about hand thrown pottery, nothing needs to be too perfect.

So, it certainly wasn’t an antique/junk hunt in the ancient cinque port town of Rye, with a take out coffee overlooking a windswept Rye Harbour and maybe a bit of yarn gathering in ‘Penny Royal’ and it’s probably done nothing towards me liking this part of the country anymore than I did before but it was marginally better than moping at home.

Goodness only knows what I will dream up for tomorrow but it will probably be met with more man moaning and end up with the comment, ‘that was a really good idea of yours, what a lovely day we had’. My tactic is always to start with the threat of IKEA and quite honestly anything I suggest after that is usually met with approval because he has escaped the very place he hates most in the world. It goes something like this… ‘so, IKEA tomorrow then?’. He says, ‘Oh you’re so funny!’. I say, with a serious look on my face, ‘well actually we haven’t been for a while and I could do with some shelf brackets, a few plants, maybe a throw and some cushions for the bed.’ He then turns a deathly shade of white and says nothing. I then seal the deal to get him to go somewhere else without so much fuss by saying, ‘oh and we could do with a few new kitchen utensils and another one of those glass storage jars’. It’s so specific it’s convincing. Then I suggest freezing our backsides off with a cold and blustery walk at a coastal nature reserve with no shops for miles, which is much more my kind of thing, but probably not his, and he’ll say, yeah, great idea.

Sleep


I don’t know about you but my body clock is still out of sync following the Christmas break. It doesn’t help that I’m googling floors, walls and window treatments last thing whilst sitting up in a bed surrounded by timber, boxes, tools, sawdust and general chaos!

I was looking forward to a crafty lie in this morning; perhaps making a tea and taking it back to bed, but fate had other plans. A work cancellation meant M was free and he’s an early riser compared to my night owl. He woke me up to suggest a slow breakfast and a large coffee. I wavered but it was too good an offer to resist. Seems my new t shirt sums things up nicely right now.

This afternoon I am ‘streamlining’ my yarn cupboard. Despite more coffee and music, the task is still less exciting than finding a large ball of something nice and squishy and wondering why it hasn’t already been knitted or crocheted into a warm cowl! There was a handy pattern on the ball band; cue the size 10mm needles only to find that my knitting know-how is fast becoming ‘used to know how’. I got in an absolute mess with knit one, purl one and yarn overs before every stitch! So I’ve started a basic treble mesh pattern with the whopping hook I found in an antique shop last year and we’ll see how that goes. News of the next big chill seems vague but if it arrives I’m gonna be ready! ❄️

Leeds


E had another university interview today. Poor kid is exhausted. These are all four hour affairs, two of which have required five minute teaching tasks. Thankfully today’s did not but there was a focus on education in the press for which E did some background reading and research. She’s lucky she is an apprentice this year because she has references and up to date knowledge of all kinds of political issues to do with early years education.

M and I had four hours to kill in Leeds. I’m not keen on shopping and M just moans about how much walking might be involved. We started off by visiting the new John Lewis to exchange a belt. There were mutterings about how warm it was, how many floors there were and about finding the toilets. I didn’t bother suggesting taking a ride up to the fifth floor just to have a look at the haberdashery department. I know when to bide my time!

However, after a little stumble on the new shiny fooor of the shopping centre which resulted in M taking off his shoes and walking in his socks (picture a rather smart, upmarket shopping arcade) for a short while, I figured that he at least owed me a visit to Fred Aldous! Cue more moaning about walking. I really am going to have to limit shopping to when I’m on my own in future. Any further university interviews will involve me leaving M in the nearest Costa and wandering off with his credit card. Sensible.

At least the day ended on a good note with E happy with the interview and impressed with everything she saw and heard. She likes the fact that the campus is out of the city and I can understand that, I heaved a sigh of relief when we saw green fields once more.

Our bedroom feature wall is coming along. M took J to cricket training last night and no sooner had he closed the door I was in there with the hammer, saw and nails. I knew he wouldn’t like me to contribute to this wall but I’m quite nifty with this kind of thing and once I sorted M’s planks out into groups according to width I had four rows up in no time. I knew it would look pretty rough on it’s own so I’m just hoping it will all come together at the end. There’s an article with various wood walls on this site:

http://www.architectureartdesigns.com/17-wooden-bedroom-walls-design-ideas/

It’s going to be a nice big bonfire if it looks c***!

Sunday


It’s been wonderful to have some company on my daily dog walks, if only on Sundays. We’ve picked different locations each week despite the fact that M is strongly in favour of routine and repetition and I am the complete opposite. Take this morning for example, we had a small disagreement over my request to untangle the television cables in preparation for a radiator to be removed. I was aware there were surplus cables cluttering up the plugs and gathering dust down beside this radiator. M got pretty agitated and we managed to establish that it was because it was too spontaneous. I shall try booking a slot for essential maintenance next time!

These dog walk pictures were taken on Lincoln Common. I don’t usually take the dogs there due to the free range horses. I’m not that keen on the horses myself, they are a little over friendly for my liking. If you look very closely at the photo with Harvey hurrying back with the tennis ball you can see the windmill up on the hill. It’s a lovely place to be when the sun is shining. We spotted lots of Santa’s making their way up to the Cathedral area for the fun run.

The road had flooded a little where we left the car which of course was ideal for a last minute drink, paddle and foot wash! Harvey has been known to drink from a puddle with the tennis ball still in his mouth, but on this occasion figured it was safe enough to put down or leave floating!

I was so lucky with the yarn for the hats. There was just enough. From the two balls I have about 30cm left! Two pairs of deungarees and to hats out of two balls isn’t bad going eh? Now we just wait for news of their arrival which is any day now.

I’ve had a pre Christmas living room spring clean this afternoon while M was watching J play football and E was at work. Henry Hoover got rid of the cobwebs, pictures were finally put up on the wall, furniture rearranged, magazines sorted. I turned round to put the cushions straight and found Riley had created one of his special ‘nests’, and M calls him the stupid one! I think he’s pretty smart.

Preparing



I went for a city walk today, as well as my usual dog walk. The dodgy knee is getting stronger, or so I tell myself. Steep Hill in Lincoln is challenging enough for anyone, dodgy knees or not. I could have avoided the hill altogether and had a good old ramble around the older part of town, the castle and the cathedral and all the back streets, but the lure of a particularly good coffee was too much. Besides, I always like to have a goal or purpose to a walk, or at the very least a good half way reward! The coffee was half way on my planned circuit.

I tend not to buy very many new clothes each year and maybe subconsciously that’s how I justify buying a few magazines here and there. I do enjoy the light reading and the range of interesting topics. Nature, travel, books, craft, simplifying life, insights into other lives etc. I buy the Simple Things when an issue looks like it might have enough in it that I’d enjoy. Breathe is a new publication that I thought I’d try. Apart from the yoga (let’s face it I’m never going to be able to distort my body into different poses whilst lip reading the tutor at the same time am I?) there is quite a bit that I find interesting in it. I’ve bookmarked the page for origami bows for this year’s gift wrapping effort. I just need a quiet half an hour and that old road atlas I’ve stashed away somewhere!

Ernest is a magazine I found in Oxford. I haven’t had chance to read it yet but the paper smells divine. It takes me back to my graphic design days when I very often dealt with paper samples and printing proofs. I was very particular about sourcing the right paper for a job. It’s probably why I have never managed to make the leap from paperback to kindle. Just the word ‘survival’ on the back cover tells me it’s the kind of stuff I’d have lapped up when I was a child and pretended I was in the wilderness in our generously sized back garden. The only survival I do now is surviving family life but the real thing is still an interesting topic.

Slowly, but surely we are managing to get the Christmas preparations ticked off one by one. M has had two days of travelling silly distances for work this week and has taken tomorrow off to be here for the boiler inspection/quote. I may have mentioned a couple of DIY jobs and he may have mentioned something about having a day off but I’m using Christmas as an excuse to get outstanding jobs done because it’s an excuse that actually works!

E has already heard back from the university she recently had an interview with (the three and a half hour interview!). She’s been offered a place! A small group of girls who were part of that interview session that she kept in touch with via Facebook weren’t so lucky. I think she’s feeling more confident now. She has another interview this week with our local specialist teaching university, another the following week with Oxford Brookes, and two more after Christmas. For now though she is heavily immersed in the school nativity play, doing lots of behind the scenes jobs including prompting them when they forget their lines, which is often. So far the only problem during a performance has been the boy who reports the news of the birth of Jesus, he ran onto the stage rather enthusiastically and skidded into the scenery, luckily no casualties and he recovered quickly enough to deliver his lines!