Friday 28 September 2007

When life gives you lemons

And it has been non-stop lemons since my last blog. There has been shock, sadness, anger, frustration, its been a difficult week in both my personal and work life. Mr FF cancelled his cycling trip to Ireland to be here for the funeral of a friend who died suddenly, which put many things into their correct perspective. I was glad to have him at home even if it set back my knitting schedule.

We had Pam and Andrew round for dinner and I made Limoncello syllabub with crushed Amaretti biscuits. Lovely Limoncello from Sorrento, which I'm told is the very best. Lemon puddings are my favourite, I know that makes me not a proper woman because I don't crave chocolate, but I much prefer a sharp lemon tart, lemon anything really. I have a beautiful reamer that was a gift from my friend Sarah in Australia many years ago. I laughed when I opened the parcel and first saw it and I still laugh every time I take it out to use it, which speaks volumes about my sense of humour, but at least I'm managing to maintain one.

Sunday 23 September 2007

Knitting Update

I've caught up with my various works in progress this week and finished a few items.
The cotton baby blanket looks very nice and only took 2 x 100g balls of 4 ply. 143 stitches and 12 rows to the pattern, it was a pleasure to knit something that didn't involve shaping or too much concentration.
The first pair of Opal Crazy socks, started in Italy, finished in Scotland, was presented to my friend Pam as a love gift (ie a no strings attached just because you're you) on Friday. Please note that I managed to get the start point of the wool correct for each one and produce a matching pair.
One Tidal Wave sock, knitted in the ebay Opal, is complete, the other is at the toe shaping stage so should be finished tonight. Then I need to start another pair of Crazy socks but I'm planning a lot of knitting and quiet nights in with Cleo later this week as Mr Flip Flops is off for an adventure with his bicycle.

Finally and sadly the little wool shop near my office, which was owned and run by a lady in her 80s, is closing down because of her ill health. It has been open intermittently this last week and selling off stock with a 25% reduction, causing big queues and an increase in my own stash. The shop was always piled high with packs of yarn, sometimes it spilt out into the doorway, but amazingly the lady could quickly locate what you needed and was very knowledgeable and helpful. Everyone in the friendly queue spoke kindly of her and how much she will be missed, I'm sure we all wish her well.

Thursday 20 September 2007

Weather Report

I can't believe how cold it has been this week. Every evening after dinner we have lit the stove in our little tv room and Cleo has languished in front of it until she gets overheated. On Tuesday morning there was a layer of ice on the bird bath and plants in the herbaceous border were dusted with white frost. Its still September, I haven't finished with summer yet, I'm not ready to hang up my flip flops.

Monday 17 September 2007

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I don't usually do spontaneity but last week at work was rubbish, our team reduced from 5 to 3 by holidays and sickness, so much work to do and all in the middle of an office move. I know my mood wasn't pretty and when I left the office Thursday we were all feeling quite down.
A few things have happened recently that reminded me life is short and friends and family are important, so Friday, after big hints from Amy, I decided that we 3 needed to get together out of the office and have some fun. Amy and Joanne were up for a meal and overnight at my house on Saturday, nothing fancy, not too much effort from me, just time together, some comfort food, wine, music and chat. Mr FF was the perfect host (he may have been showing off but we all appreciated his thoughtfulness and attention) slipping off to tidy the kitchen whilst we were chatting after dinner, cooking bacon and eggs for everyone when we finally got out of bed on Sunday morning. We went off to a local gallery Sunday afternoon and came home for tea and cake followed by afternoon television and knitting. Amy resurrected a project that had been on her conscience for a while, and started enjoying it again, I finished another sock and Joanne who doesn't knit (but has many other crafting skills) gave it a go and has started an attractive stripped teddy's scarf/tie for her bank manager boyfriend. Apparently she was still knitting on the bus back into town until she started to feel queasy.
I can't say our weekend has made work any better but hopefully we all feel a bit more positive about ourselves and each other - group hug anyone?

Wednesday 12 September 2007

Introducing Miss C

Apart from about 3 years when I was first married and living in a ghastly furnished flat in the centre of Stockton on Tees, we won’t be going into that, I have always had cats. I was brought up on a farm and there was always a family of mousers around, and yes I did dress them in my dolls clothes and yes they did let me and were quite happy to sleep in front of the kitchen range in little frocks. At the moment we have just one cat, Cleo, aka Clee Clee or Miss Cleethorpes, who is about 16 and very healthy and active, a bit too active in the middle of the night when she comes into our bedroom with gifts of mice.

She came to us 10 years ago from the house next door, the family were moving overseas and we offered to take her in rather than have her re-homed to a new area. She settled in really well, we had begun encouraging her into our garden before she joined us, to the disgust of the other two cats we had the time. Once she moved in here she did go home a few times and try to get in through her cat door, but the new family were aware that this might happen and since they had a dog it didn’t happen very often. After a few years her original family came back to Scotland and the children did suggest they might have Cleo back, their exact words were ‘we love Cleo can we have her back’ and my exact word was ‘no’. Just as well because they eventually moved overseas again, Cleo would have been so confused.

And she can be confused easily, sometimes she doesn’t know which way is up.

Saturday 8 September 2007

And in the morning when the sun comes up ..

he brings me coffee in my favourite cup, which at the moment is this one. Actually a pair of them came home with Mr Flip Flops after he'd been on a trip up north. They are hand painted in the Highlands, from Tain Pottery, and I'd been hankering after some for ages so they were a lovely surprise. They are used regularly at the weekends when we have time to get out the Bialetti stove top coffee maker, brew some good strong Italian coffee, froth some milk and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with the papers.

Weekdays the breakfast beverage is tea in a bone china mug and anytime we need an espresso we have these little sweeties.

Tuesday 4 September 2007

Keep off the grass

Our garden here in Scotland is on a sloping site of approximately ¾ acre and situated 900 feet above sea level, so the growing season is very short. When we built this house we also made the garden, I wanted a big herbaceous border as close as possible to the house, not too much lawn, a secret part, a wild part, a vegetable part, a greenhouse and a sitting out area. As it was a new garden we decided not to introduce any chemicals and we have gardened organically for 16 years. We are now at the late summer blowsy stage with most plants a bit brown and crispy round the edges. The sweet peas are doing well, I’m picking bunches most days, the tomatoes (grown from Italian seed) are a bit small but tasty, the courgettes have lost their battle with the slugs (I forgot to put the beer traps out), broad beans are good, the sugar peas tough. Things got neglected when we were in Italy in June and again for 2 weeks in August, it’s the price you pay and I’m not struggling to take regain control.

I’ve recently been introduced to the joys of ornamental grasses, mostly by my friend Rose who is lucky enough to be retired and an avid seaside gardener. This is her lovely breezy front garden a stones throw from the beach.

I did for a long time think that her bronze grasses looked like dead grass, but I’ve been educated and after creating a smallish patch of grass garden for myself am considering making a bigger area. I’ve even grown some grasses from seed, don’t ask me yet to differentiate between my miscanthus and my stipa I’m not that advanced but I am pleased with what I’ve done so far and glad I’ve been converted.
I’m also finding a great place to keep all the best pebbles from my beach combing trips.