Saturday, March 31, 2012


This is Meg as she sits on my lap first thing every morning - usually while I'm eating breakfast. She has her breakfast, then she approaches me and eyes my lap, so that I'll move round to enable her to jump up and snuggle in. She is such a faithful little friend.
Sometimes I pick up my knitting as I pass by, intending to only do one row. And lo and behold, Meg followed me, thought I was going to settle at my desk in the living room, and jumped up and settled down on top of my piano. It's so she can be as close to me as possible. What an honour :) I absolutely adore her.

So we went to Whitmuir Organic Farm this morning for coffee and cake, as usual. Whitmuir is a lovely place. I had shortbread today, Hagos had coconut macaroon. With cappuccino and decaf flat white.
Though I have a thumb left to knit on my mittens, and a sleeve still to knit on my jumper, I haven't been knitting lately because I haven't felt like knitting either of those things. So I picked up this incomplete project from a couple of years ago. They're a pair of cotton slippers, I think from an old Erika Knight book. I knitted the soles ages ago as I got the cotton in a John Lewis sale. Then I didn't bother finishing them. It's quite a quick knit and I should probably finish knitting the uppers this weekend. Just in time for summer.

I have been enjoying reading such a lot recently. I just finished Marianne Dreams, by Catherine Storr, which I last read when I was a child, and I'm now reading Lord of the Flies, after watching a documentary on William Golding. Again, I haven't read the book since I was a kid, and my copy is stamped with the name of my school, so I obviously didn't return it when I left. I also made a list of books I want to read and have been meaning to read for years and hope to make my way through the list to read as many as possible. But after reading Lord of the Flies I intend to read The Thoughts and Happenings of Wildred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals by Wendy Jones. I went to university with Wendy and am really looking forward to reading her book.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Each Sunday we meet our friends to go for a walk, play board games and have a roast dinner. We take turns to cook. Today it was such an amazingly warm, balmy, sunny day, and we headed up to Flotterstone, this time heading off the beaten track for a really wonderful, secluded walk. The above photo was taken by balancing the camera on a tuft of grass and setting the 10 second timer. 
At home we sat in the garden and ate Doritos and dips and JJ and I planted some cut-and-come-again lettuce. Then we played Pictionary. Pudding was Lemon Tart with strawberries and ice cream as options. A great day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


A bike ride up and down the driveway.
The daffodils are bursting out.
Coffee and cake at Whitmuir Organic Farm. (Er, the cake wasn't around long enough to be photographed. I had chocolate mocha cake, Hagos had lemon drizzle cake.)

A good start to our Saturday. The rest of the day will be spent: knitting, writing, reading, cleaning, making meringues and chocolate chip cookies. Oh, and a film and pizza in the evening. I LOVE SATURDAYS.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chilli plants

So the planting season is upon us and I thought I'd better get at it. These will be chilli plants (hopefully). I put three seeds in each pot. Most are Hot Aji Crystal, but we also sowed a few seeds from some shop-bought chillies as an experiment.
It felt good to get them sown, actually. Next will be tomato seeds. I've only grown tomatoes from plants before so it will be interesting to see if they work. And I need to get the rest of the garlic in and also the onions. I remember from previous years that nothing happens for ages and then it seems to be a non-stop sowing, planting, feeding etc. Harvest time is the best, of course. Though I do like just watching stuff growing and developing. My favourite time of the day used to be morning when I'd go outside in my pyjamas and look at everything.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pear Tart

Pretty much the only time I bake these days is every second Sunday, when we go to The Burnses for Sunday dinner. It's become a tradition: we cook roast chicken one week, they bring dessert. They cook roast chicken the next week, we bring dessert. 

The last couple of weeks have been heavy on the chocolate! One of which (my chocolate meringue stack) was quickly followed by me being very ill with gastric flu. So, since then I've been off chocolate, which is extremely unusual for me.
So this week I wanted to make something really pared down. Plain. Simple. With fruit! I found this Pear Tart recipe on the internet. The base is almost shortbread-like, the pears are delicious and it has a butter and sugar topping that caramelises the top. 

Often, when I go into M&S or when I come across a French market I head straight for the pear tarts in the fresh bakery section. This pear tart was really delicious, and definitely on a par with any of the best pear tarts I've bought. 

Of course, the kids didn't want any of it and they had Ben and Jerry's chocolate fudge ice cream. But everyone else seemed to like it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My Life in Books

I almost didn't watch My Life in Books as I can't bear the way Anne Robinson treats her contestants on The Weakest Link. Any kind of rudeness or belittling makes me angry. It's just NOT FUN. 

But I'm glad I came across it in iPlayer and decided to give it a go because it's such a great programme: two guests each show talking about their life through four chosen books. 

It made me think which four books I'd choose from throughout my life and these are what I came up with:
Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr. Marianne is confined to bed with an illness and starts drawing pictures in pencil during the day to entertain herself. Then she realises that the house she's drawn is appearing in her dreams. Everything she draws during the day she then dreams about at night. I loved this book when I was a kid because it was so imaginative and a bit spooky. My parents took me to the library every Saturday, a habit I continued through my whole life until I moved to Edinburgh actually (and am hoping to resurrect).

War Poems by people like Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rudyard Kipling etc. I was first introduced to the war poets by my amazing English teacher Mr Girvin. He took us through the poems line by line and explained the poetic devices, the history and background. Dulce et Decorum Est is so incredibly moving. As is My Boy Jack.  And just the title of Anthem for a Doomed Youth is breathtaking.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I first read Pride and Prejudice properly when I did my first degree as we were looking at adaptation. For me, it's such a perfect novel as it is so economically written, the plot or characterisation is continually being driven forward. Anyway, I've written about how I feel about it before. I re-read this book at least once a year.
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Again, I've written about this here fairly recently. When I was studying for my first degree I was introduced to Tzvetan Todorov and his theory on the Uncanny, the Marvellous and the Fantastic. And Sarah Waters pulls this off perfectly. I loved it with relish.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Sewing Class Saturday

This is my neighbour Chloe. She wanted to try out my sewing machine as she's thinking of buying one for herself. She brought over some true 70s fabric to make a cushion cover.
It's been ages since I set aside an afternoon to sew in. I really enjoyed it. It's so therapeutic and the satisfaction of having something new at the end of it is lovely. I love the element of design that goes into making things too. We decided to keep the cushion cover simple and had an overlap at the back, so we didn't have to mess around with zips or buttonholes.
Et voila! The finished article. I really must get round to re-covering that chair! It clashes with everything. To think I had a whole couch in that material at one point. The chair has been with me a long time though. I bought it in my early 20s when I lived in London.

Chloe was pleased with her cushion. And the afternoon was perfectly finished off with her husband Will (hello Will!) bringing in some home-made seed bars for me and Hagos. We pounced on them straightaway. They were delicious.

I'm still recovering from gastric flu from last week. It's left me feeling a bit faint and ghost-like. It took me ages to get back to eating normally and a positive side effect has been that I've stopped eating chocolate and all other crap like Monster Munch. Things that had crept into my diet. I lost 4 lbs. Long may it last!