Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Holiday - Day Two

A new hat.
And lots of lovely things in Blackhouse Bags, a shop in Gullane that sells gorgeous products made out of a beautiful range of Harris Tweed.

I thought about buying this purse. It isn't quite what I had in mind. I might still go back for it.
The walk to the beach, on the first warm day in a while.

And the view from our spot.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Holiday - Day One

I'm on holiday from work this week, and so the days don't just merge into one long, indistinguishable blur, I want to make sure I do something every day that is enjoyable, and for fun only. I also want to clean the house and do tedious stuff like that, but I'm making sure I do lots of stuff I enjoy.

So, this morning I baked bread and dug potatoes from the garden, while listening to Desert Island Discs, with Mary Berry.
I like Mary Berry from The Great British Bake Off, one of my favourite autumn programmes on TV. She comes across as such a gentle, bright, lovely woman, and she reminds me very much of one of my writing tutors from Middlesex University.

So it was a fairly gentle, lovely programme, and she talked about one of her children dying in a car crash when he was 19 and the effect that had on her and her family. And as this is a holiday post I won't dwell on grief and its impact and how time really seems to be the only thing that eases it after a while.
We ate toffee apples.
And I knitted the capped sleeve of my winter vest, while watching a programme on Julia Bradbury walking in Iceland. Then we talked about going to Iceland on holiday, to visit friends.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Wonder of Wood

Since moving to Scotland last year, when we replaced our coal fire with a wood burner, I have become fixated by WOOD and STICKS. I'm always pleased when the wood shed is full to the brim with logs. (Above is a fresh delivery received on Friday.)
Even if we're out for a walk I am constantly scouring the countryside for bits of wood. And if I see stacks of wood on television I immediately lose interest in the action and am mesmerised by the wood. I love walking past this neatly-constructed pile. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and satisfying.  
I think I love it because it promises warmth on cold winter days.
But I love the jumble of different shapes and colours and texture - some with moss on, some quartered vertically, while others are fully-round limbs. I love the non-uniformity of it. It is all good, all natural, all useful. 
One of my favourite pastimes is collecting small sticks for kindling. The logs we have delivered are so dry that actually we don't really need to use kindling, but I like going for a walk and collecting sticks anyway. I love being outside, away from people, surrounded by nature and trees and wildlife, and I love the colour of the Pentland Hills, the amazing blues and greens and purples. I am always happy outside.
Though occasionally it is good to be inside too! We popped into Whitmuir yesterday and had cappuccino and gingerbread! The gingerbread was delicious. Hagos had butter on his, but mine was just great without it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trying to recreate the shot, with Maris Pipers and a few hens

I picked our first lot of potatoes for tea tonight - Maris Pipers, 2nd Earlies. We did have a wee shot at some First Earlies a couple of weeks ago, but they were underdeveloped.
So I went out with my camera to try to create a mirror image of my header photo that I took last year with Meg and my new potatoes.
The hens were a bit faster-moving than Meg, and I was getting bitten by midges trying to stand still, so it was only a semi-successful attempt.
And it would have been more appropriate to have had grapes in the bowl, for the grape-fiends. But, Maris Pipers for tea! Mmmmm.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Winter vest

This is my cap-sleeved jumper, which I plan to wear as a winter vest. I love the off-white colour. It's so undemanding!

I have spent most of today in bed. I've been feeling exhausted all week. And today, after I got up to feed the cat, and feed and let out the hens, I went back to bed and couldn't wake up. I was semi-conscious and aware that I had only planned to lie down for half an hour and I finally woke up a couple of hours later. I'm looking forward to Friday when I'll be off work for a week and a day. I hope I feel better soon. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

New wool, vegetable update and the gorgeous animals

I went to K1 at lunchtime again today (that knitting shop is far too close to where I work). And I bought more 4-ply alpaca. I'm only halfway up knitting the front of my off-white alpaca jumper/winter vest. The photos show what the finished article will look like, though I'm not knitting the beads in.
The colour in the top photo is closer than this one above. I took this near the window.
This! is our onion patch. The point of weeding has long since passed! 
And our cut-and-come-again lettuce on the right never really got going.
And an update isn't an update without a gratuitous shot of Meg, with her sisters! They were all fairly happy to be near each other (with a gate between them) until I went over to talk to the hens. Meg came stalking towards me and herded me away from them. She's very jealous and wants to be the only animal in my affections.
But who could resist a bottom like that?

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Rhubarb and Orange Jam

There is a recipe in Mrs Beetons for Rhubarb and Orange Jam, and as our friends and neighbours had unused rhubarb in their gardens I thought it would be a perfect use for it. I got the oranges and lemon from the supermarket.
There was quite a lot of it in the pot! In the recipe Mrs Beeton has added a note to say that it resembles Scotch Marmalade.
And she is right. The rhubarb has melted away, and the orange is really strong, but there is something underpinning the flavour, giving it some welly. 

I really like it, though it wasn't what I was expecting.

I have some rhubarb left and will poach that with sugar and put it in the freezer. I can take it out later to make crumble or pie. It's a really good way of preserving the rhubarb for use later.

Knock Knock

Is Paula coming out to play?

Friday, July 06, 2012

View from the couch

This wool is so totally lovely to knit with. I'm addicted to it. Alpaca is so soft and I'm so impressed by how it's knitting up. I will definitely be buying more of it to knit another vest, maybe more socks. It's from Peru. 
Another lovely soft thing to touch is Meg, who is sleeping next to me on the couch. She started off on my lap but I had to get up briefly to make bread. Our hens come right up to our front door occasionally and Meg looks a bit put out. They 'bok' and even peck at the door, as if they want to come in. I think they like the slugs that hang around our door.
I'm on episode 4 of Borgen - the Danish political drama. I like the Danish and Scandinavian style. I like that their programmes have actors who aren't classically beautiful, and who are older, and are still sexually active! 

**Have just discovered that my new favourite yarn is from a Danish company. No wonder it's cool.**

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

New Wool

 I decided at lunchtime today - well 2pm - that I would go for a walk to K1 and treat myself to a ball of wool to knit socks with.
 It can be an expensive shop - some of the balls of wool are £12 or more for 50g, out of my price range. But I instantly fell in love with the above 4 ply alpaca, which was very reasonably priced at £4.99 a twist. It's so soft and though I usually love colour (and there was a navy blue I thought I might return for)  I was drawn to the cream twists and decided to buy them to knit a second winter vest.
 I have knitted this vest in purple Jaeger 4 ply (without the beads) and last winter it became a staple of my winter wardrobe in the cold Scottish weather! So I decided I would knit another (and maybe another) for this coming winter. It's always a good idea to knit winter items in the summer so you're ready to go once winter kicks in.
The pattern is from Vintage Knits again, by Sarah Dallas. It's still my favourite knitting book. 

While I was in K1 today I came across an American imported knitting magazine that was featuring vintage knitted items. I love stuff like that, when knitting was core to practical survival.

The yellow ball of wool I thought I'd put towards another pair of socks. I'll stroll down to John Lewis one lunchtime and buy some gorgeous yellow tweed to make another pair of stripy socks with. I think this warm yellow is my favourite colour at the moment.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

A new hairstyle, and the two hour tolerance rule

I've been working on how to do a neat bun on myself, on and off, for a few years. I have a rubber bun-device, which works on a good day but can pull my hair quite tightly, and for a couple of years I've also had this squidgy donut ring, which I could never get to work properly - my hair ended up in a big mess! There are tutorials on You Tube showing how to use this squidgy donut device or a cut-off sock using the same principle. But my hair never cooperated.
Then yesterday I had a Eureka moment! Hair tied in a ponytail, hair through the donut ring and arranged around it, ANOTHER hair tie over the whole thing, then wrap the hair round and secure with pins. It worked a treat.
A gratuitous shot of Meg looking beautiful as always.
And her cute little feet. They're so neat and dinky. And I love that ruff!

I have long been aware that I have a two hour tolerance rule when it comes to spending time with people. I am a fairly sociable person, and look forward to seeing people and doing stuff together, but I have an internal clock that kicks in bang on two hours, which always says, that was very nice, but I want to go now. And if, for social politeness reasons, I am unable to leave or extract myself I spend the third hour feeling antsy and wondering how soon I can get away. However, rather like Cinderella, if I'm still in the social situation when the third hour strikes I have often found myself actually running away. Making my excuses and just leaving immediately. As if I will turn into a pumpkin if I stay any longer (well, it was Cinderella's carriage that turned back into a pumpkin but you know what I mean). The only person I can happily spend more than three hours with is Hagos. I think it's due to a combination of liking my own company, of always having various projects on the go and I like to get on with things and two hours really feels like enough time to catch up with friends. But it's also something to do with artifice - my own and other people's - that I find tiring after a while. It's probably why, overall, I prefer animals to humans. There is no pretence with animals. They eat, they sleep, they hunt, they cuddle (some of them) and that's it. No regrets, no hopes, no strategies for expansion, no malice or jealousy, no saying one thing and meaning another. They have presence and honesty.