Thursday, 31 July 2008

I'm just about finished

Today is the last official day of gardening leave, after that I'm just out of work. I've actually got my P45 and my final pay is in the bank - hurray no more wage slave and I can think and say what I like about the vile organisation I worked for.
I'm meeting the girls tonight for dinner and bitching, I can't wait.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

A quick one

I don't mean to bang on about the tree felling and I didn't intend to blog today, but I just want to show you what I found when I took a look in the log store this afternoon.

Good husband, tidy husband, he's even put some of the older seasoned wood on top to be used first.

Yet another fabulous flip flop wearing free and easy day.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Oh no not the chainsaw

I really don't like the chain saw and I really don't like being the chainsaw operator's assistant but that's what I was today, loading branches onto the saw horse and holding them steady, from as great a distance as I could manage. At one stage I thought my nostrils had got blocked with sawdust, but actually my safety goggles had slipped down and were pinching preventing me breathing in properly. All the big bits of the tree are now useable sized logs that are as I write being barrowed into the wood store, what a cozy feeling that is. Since the tree was self seeded, filled a gap in the garden until it got too big, will now keep us warm in winter with logs and help condition the soil with mulch, its really served us well.
Another brilliant day that has just flown by. I've just made meatballs to have tonight with spaghetti and tomato sauce and Carlos Sastre riding for team CSC will win Le Tour tomorrow, unless there is some great disaster. I did mention to Mr FF this afternoon that I couldn't imagine Mrs Sastre (if there is such a person) would have to lift heavy wood, but he tells me that she does it all the time. That'll be right.

Friday, 25 July 2008

I'm loving this

Today was the most perfect day, it started when I woke to bright sunshine at 6.30 am. I got up, made tea, fed Cleo and went back to bed to read, followed by a little doze. I spent the morning on a few domestic chores and then went out to pick fruit to make a summer pudding. We have a bit of a tradition with this, I only ever make summer pudding with our own fruit and generally just harvest whatever is available. I had enough fruit to make two puddings, which are now in the fridge weighted down to squash all the lovely juices into the bread, we will no doubt demolish both over the weekend with some creme fraiche.
Then in the afternoon I tackled this. Its all the small branches from the tree Mr FF chopped down last weekend, I put them through the shredder to make garden mulch. A noisy dirty job but I really enjoy this kind of productive manual work, got absolutely filthy and sweaty and produced a wonderful pile of useable material. I've had a shower now and put on clean clothes, I feel exhausted in such a good way and ready for a glass of wine while I cook dinner. I just can't get enough of this gardening leave, which Mr FF tells me ends next week.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

How many posts?

Thats right, this is post 100 and I'm delighted to illustrate my achievement with this lovely yarn that Amy brought me back from her trip to Devon. The large balls are Adriafil Knitcol, a pure merino dk made in Italy, the colour is Picasso Phantasy and I can't wait to get cast on. The little 10g ball of Opal is so sweet, I feel I should attach it to a brooch bar and wear it with pride. Its almost a year since I started this blog, if I was obsessive compulsive about it I might wait and produce my 100th posting on the exact date I began, but I'm more relaxed than that. I am delighted that I've managed to average a couple of posts a week, found things to say and enjoyed myself.
I've currently knitted these spiral eyelet socks in a 4ply wool I found in a charity shop. I've been busy with them this afternoon whilst watching a nail bitting stage of Le Tour, spills and thrills that eventually had me put down the needles to concentrate. Its a big day for the boys tomorrow, three huge climbs culminating at the top of L'Alpe-d'Huez, the classic stage where everyone crowds across the road to cheer the riders up the steepest gradient. I've never seen Le Tour in the flesh but Mr FF and I have watched a couple of stages of the Giro d'Italia, once many years ago while on holiday in Austria and again last year when we travelled from our Lazio house to the Maiella national park. Its a long wait leaning over the barriers but worth it to be at the front when the riders arrive at the finish line and to build up the excitement the sponsors come along and give out lots of goodies, flags, key rings, hats, drinks bottles and the like. The coverage on Euro Sport is fantastic with excellent camera work that conveys not just the excitement of the race but the beautiful scenery and the enthusiasm of the supporters. The whole event is a huge circus travelling through France, and this year briefly into Italy, I love it and I so admire those guys though at present I have no real idea who will win, tomorrow could decide that.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The day a tomato turn red

and huge hailstones fell from the sky.
At last a tomato is ready, but I need to leave it in the greenhouse to encourage the others to ripen.
Enough gardening, I've had made an irritating knitting cock up. I thought I had enough mohair to make as a present a little scarf using the Rowan Froth pattern that came with the free gift kit when I renewed my membership some time ago. You knit the scarf then pick up stitches round the sides and ends to make a ruffle, its very pretty and I've worn the one I made myself a lot. Anyway I kept weighing the yarn to make sure I was doing OK, assumed that since I'd used half for the scarf the same amount would knit the edges and worked really quickly in the way you do when you think the wool might run out, why do you do that? Alas I only had enough to knit one long and one short edge, if I could have knit both end edges I might have lived with one side plain pretending that was the bit you wear against your body or some such rubbish, but no, one end is ruffled one end is plain. Have you ever tried to pull our mohair, all the hairy bits just weld together, its impossible, so I can't start again and make a shorter version. Failure and as we know my self esteem is low at the moment. I need to let go and move on so I may start a pair of socks tonight instead of beating myself up. Lets face it, wasting time is a luxury I can afford, I could probably spend time in the greenhouse watching the tomatoes turning if I wanted to.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Same old same old

Up in the morning, throw open the doors into the garden

Water the tomatoes and check if any have turned red Cut a few flowers for the house

Pick the strawberries for dinner

Yes life is very samey at the moment but fortunately its full of exactly the same things as I want to do. I was a bit narky today as I had to go off and buy provisions, I hadn't done a food shop for a week. Time out of the garden seems like time wasted.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Still gardening

I've made such progress in the garden this weekend, its in danger of becoming manicured, not an image I really want as I much prefer a more relaxed style. Its wonderful to have time to wander round admiring the flowers, like this wonderful allium christophii. The bulbs don't do that well in my northern garden and often disappear during a particularly wet winter, but I love them so much its worth taking a chance. I've already ordered some more for next year just in case. Yes, that is a bee on the left that was enjoying the flower too.

This poppy self seeded in a large terracotta pot of spring bulbs so I left it to flower and look how its repaid me. I'll collect the seeds and sprinkle them around later. The eryngium is another great self seeder, unfortunately in lots of unlikely places like the cracks between paving slabs It has a deep tap root that makes it difficult to get out and the flowers are a spiny garden hazard, but it is beautiful and provides a feast for the bees.
Mr FF has been out in the garden too chopping down a tree that appeared in the front border a few years ago, we let it stay and now its huge and over-shadowing a lime tree that we planted at the end of the drive. The wood can be added to our log store and the tree was useful until it got too big. It hasn't been all hard work though, we sat outside and read the papers and Pam came round with her adorable two year old grandson, who enjoyed a few strawberries and raspberries, and a walk round the policies. Its never too early to get them appreciating the pleasure of a garden.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Yes I am gardening

The herbaceous border is doing wonderfully, its a joy to look out onto from the rooms at back of our house, the third photograph is the view from our bedroom. Not too much colour in there mainly yellow and blue at the moment, but plenty of muted shades, its very calming. The ground is saturated from all the rain we've had and each time I sweep up there's another storm bringing down leaves and debris. Lots of tomatoes in the greenhouse but no sign of any of them turning red yet despite constant inspections and encouragement from me. The sweet peas have started flowering and I'm picking small bunches most days to place on the kitchen window cill. The house is still full of flowers from my friends. I'm surrounded by blooms.
The strawberries are ready but its so wet that many of them are rotting before they ripen, at least half the crop is being spoilt. What we do pick are delicious eaten just as they are.I'm hoping the weather will improve for the weekend, there is an embarrassing number of weeds in the front border but if I can't get onto the ground there are enough other things I can do outside. Meantime I'm off to Glasgow again tomorrow with the new Cath Kidston bag I got in Tesco, I went for the flowery one and I love it.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Desperate Housewife

I'm so relaxed I can hardly sit up straight. Yesterday I did actually go out and do some gardening, the weather improved and it was quite warm in the afternoon so I tidied and swept the patio, moved a few pots around and just enjoyed being at home. I stopped work around 5 pm (old habits die hard) and got my book out to sit and read on the garden seat, by 5.30 I was nodding off.
I found out today that I've finally been accepted on to the UK knitters blog ring, the link is at the side, its been there for a while but how nice to be official at last. So I feel the need to post my latest completed project, yes its socks again. I sent these Opal ones off to my sister in law, Val, at the weekend a slightly late and extra birthday present. She was on the phone yesterday to thank me and tell me how much she loved them, I am delighted and promised her there would be more. Positive feedback is so motivating (she said hoping not to sound like a psychologist), makes me happy. It would be pompous of me to relate all the wonderful comments I've had these last few days from people I've worked with, but I'm so gratified that they remember me for the things I'd want to be remembered for, my sense of irony, my courage speaking out, my responsive and entertaining style. Thanks guys, if you'd talked about my dedication and hard work I'd know you were lying.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Ten Monday Things

Ten things I can do this Monday that I couldn't do last Monday

Get up early because I want to not because I have to

Make the early morning tea and get back into bed with Mr FF instead of rushing out the door

Have a long indulgent bath instead of a quick shower

Lounge on the red settee and read

Lay out my patchwork squares on the morning room carpet

Sew whilst listening to radio 4

Knit whilst watching the Tour de France live

Bake flapjacks for our afternoon tea break

Put the sunflowers on my blog as a permanent reminder of the girls

Feel strong and positive and happy (and ready to move on if not to forgive)

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Not sad, not mad, shopping

Mr FF attended a seminar in Glasgow yesterday so I travelled into town with him and had a relaxing day round the shops. I had coffee and a lemon muffin in Waterstones, got made up at the Lancome counter in Frasers where the lady was so sympathetic with my situation that she didn't once mention the products she was promoting, simply wished me well. The John Lewis sale had started and I picked up these books half price, I need them for my future, they count as essentials. I also got some Noro Cash Iroha, a wool silk cashmere mix that is for someone special who reads this, not that all you readers aren't special, so I can't show you it just now. Its quite a textured yarn and I'm not 100% convinced that the pattern I'm using is ideal, but then I have all the time in the world to try and retry.
I bought these patchwork pieces at a charity shop last week, Joanne who I used to work with (how strange that sounds) does some lovely patchwork and I thought a few squares might get me started. I called into Mandors fabric store to get a some plain cream cotton to eek out the material and found the place so inspiring. The voiles particularly were wonderful and made me think of open Italian windows with sheer curtains moving in a hot breeze. I also got these pretty hexagons at the charity shop, which Joanne tells me will be more difficult to piece together so I may trim them into rectangles.I met Mr FF at a bar in the afternoon and we sat outside in the sunshine, how relaxing was that. I need to tell you soon how totally wonderful he has been this last week, we've always been at our best together when the going gets tough and still are. We called in at Pam and Andrew's on the way home to drop off some books, tea for the girls and G&T for the boys whilst we chatted and I told Pam about this new diversion. I knew she had done some patchwork with a friend and that there is a quilting bee in the village. She then went upstairs and came back with two boxes of fabric that she insisted I take away to use. I looked in the boxes last night, there is so much material and though many of the patterns I wouldn't have selected myself, they look amazing together and I think could make something both large and beautiful. So exciting it kept we awake last night, its not the deal with I finish work and start stressing about my hobbies is it. I need to get Joanne round to look at the fabrics, far too many for me to take into town and sort on the bench beside the library where we said we might meet.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Another day another bouquet

I've been out today, I had such a good time which I'll tell you about tomorrow. When I got home there was a box on the doorstep containing this gorgeous large bunch of freesia that is perfuming the whole house. It was from Catriona and Patrick in America with a note saying 'Its Independence Day, how appropriate'. I used to work with/for Catriona (it was a pleasure), she is an occupational psychologist but the exception that proves the rule, kind, warm, generous, a champion for the admin team and above all special friend.
I can't thank her and Patrick enough for this wonderful gesture or tell them how much it means to me, though obviously I have tried. The message continues that I should be happy and I am happy but right now I'd be even happier if they were both here so I could give them a great big hug.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Day one of the rest of my life

I've had such positive support over the last 24 hours, emails, phone calls, including one from the founder of the company I worked for who retired several years ago, old colleagues, though I suppose everyone is an old colleague now. So many good things said about me and my work, my courage for speaking out. My chum Pam was on my doorstep before 10 this morning with a bottle of something pink and fizzy for my first elevenses as a free woman. These sunflowers came from the admin team, my girlies, sunflowers for warmth and adoration, they said it seemed very fitting. So many, too many to fit in the lovely cream enamel jug that came with them and will always remind me of their love.
So my 42 year long working life is over. I'm still in weekend mode at the moment, doing the washing, dorissing the house. I can't say I've turned from admin goddess to domestic goddess overnight but I can't wait to see how I feel on Sunday knowing there will be no Monday morning blues. The tension needs to subside, I need to give myself permission to knit or sew or read a book in the day time, but I will. I worked 9 years for a woman who must have trained at the Robert Mugabe school of management, has yet to master the use of the apostrophe and thinks its OK to abruptly break up one of the greatest teams since the 1966 World Cup, this major life change will be a doddle.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Gardening Leave

These white foxgloves are self seeded underneath a red crab apple tree, sometimes the garden manages fine on its own, but its certainly going to be getting some attention from now on.
I gave a months notice at work yesterday because I had decided there was nothing to keep me there until I reach retirement age on 01 November. When my boss asked for feedback I told her how it was and I could see that this wasn't well received. I admit I speak quite bluntly, for me there is no other way, I don't do subtle. This morning I was called upstairs again and told that I was to go on 'gardening leave' (such a stupid expression especially if you don't have a garden) until the end of the month and that I could finish either today or tomorrow. No contest, I left at lunch time today, slipped out whilst everyone else was in meetings etc, there had been enough tears these last two days and I don't do big goodbyes. I had already said I didn't want a fuss when I finished work but neither did I expect to be kicked out of the door. I should add that the company I work for is a practice of occupational and clinical psychologists and whilst I have had a lot of support and care from the clinical people, I had nothing from the occupational side for which I worked. I had been in my job for 9 years part time and prior to that about 5 full time, in the words of Ann Robinson, I left with nothing. I shall miss the girls in my team so much and have been deeply touched by their reaction to my departure, but I relish the adjustment to being at home every day, concentrating on the things I love, my garden, home and crafts.
I just had a phone call from an ex-colleague, my the news spreads quickly, offering love and support. She said she phoned the office to speak to me and was told that I had retired. I retire on 01 November when my pension begins, the truth is that I have left my employment, simple as that, but then psychologists never like straightforward.