Sunday 29 June 2008

Knitting Friends

There are two Jennys at work, one is a Swedish blond thirty-something and I am the other. Jenny SB has been knitting a jumper for her son Joseph, I think he's about 7, from one of my Rowan books. Jenny SB knits the continental way, well that's what she calls it, I can't quite figure out how it works but she seems to wrap the wool round the needle with the opposite hand to me. I've been helping out when things get tricky in a mentoring sort of way, and Jenny SB brought this card in for me at the end of last week. It is so appropriate because from the day she bought the wool her son has insisted that he will never ever wear the jumper and he keeps reiterating this whenever the knitting comes out. My mum always knitted for me, in my junior school photos I am wearing a hand-knit cardigan, as are most of the girls in the class and I don't recall ever objecting. I know some of the things I've knitted my two nieces over the years have not been so well received and I can only admire Jenny SB's determination to complete the jumper.
Speaking of determination I've been in discussion with Rowan on and off for the last year and I discovered when my membership came up for renewal that no action had been taken on my complaint, despite assurances otherwise. I contacted them again and spoke to Teresa Millward the Consumer Manager who seems to have taken over and is sorting out various problems and the website. She was very helpful, has extended my membership for 6 months and sent me this little gift, 6 balls of Denim and a pattern for a bag. How nice, we are friends again, if only Joseph was so easily bought.

Thursday 26 June 2008

Save the Children

I posted off 18 little hats to the Save the Children appeal yesterday, as modelled here by Office Ted, who wasn't dispatched. He is still doing the rounds of admin girlies who need a cuddle (at the moment he's quite over-worked). My cousin knitted most of these, she always rises to this kind of challenge, so far I've made 4. I checked on the website yesterday, to date 120,000 hats have been received but the collection goes on until October so still time for lots more to be produced. I had confirmation this week that they really are worthwhile, Avril who comes into the office a couple of days a week showed us photographs of her latest and 13th grandchild, born 3 weeks early and wearing a little woolly hat. Avril, who was there at the birth, said the nurses popped it on him straightaway to help retain his body heat and that they are often short of really small hats for the premature babies. It made us all feel really good, even the ones who don't knit, the power of wool.

Monday 23 June 2008

Home, its where the heart is

We had a busy busy weekend down in Yorkshire, that's the trouble when you go home, so many people to see that you spread yourself very thinly, but well worth the effort and it was lovely to be back however briefly. We stayed Friday evening, our 38th wedding anniversary with Roger and Christine and of course their lovely cat Panther. He is just gorgeous, a big bruiser of a boy, with glossy fur and a very nice personality, affectionate but not too sloppy and never afraid to give you the occasional semi-mauling when you are stroking him, ie claws and teeth firmly gripping but not breaking the skin. The only thing to do at a time like that is relax your hand and wait. Panther lived in the house on the edge of the North York Moors before Roger and Christine bought it for their retirement. His family moved to another part of the village but Panther just kept returning home and lurking in the garden. Roger regularly carried him to his new house, not an easy task, as I said he's a big cat, but Panther just kept coming back again and despite the fact he was never encouraged or fed refused to leave his property. In the end his original family suggested that Roger and Christine might take him on, they didn't have to think long and Panther has been happy ever since. He doesn't stray far now, spends a lot of time in the garden or the field behind and though he's allowed in the house whenever he wishes, he actually has his own premises with cat door access.He sleeps here in a comfy chair with cushions, his own heater and a view of both the lovely garden and the conservatory so that he can check if his new family are about. We drove home yesterday through the Yorkshire Dales, stopping off briefly in Harrogate and Settle, for most of the journey I could be heard saying 'its so lovely, why don't we live here'. Whenever we go back to Yorkshire Mr FF tries to tell me I shall be disappointed, that I've remembered it better than it is, so far he has been very wrong, but maybe 20 years after we moved away is too late for me to play the Panther trick.

Wednesday 18 June 2008


My garden looks so well at the moment, the combination of sunshine and showers has produced plenty of lush growth, joining the plants together and covering the weeds. Not too much in flower but plenty still to happen which is the way I like it. I suppose I must acknowledge that we have almost reached the longest day, its wonderful to have some daylight till around 10.30 and the decline towards winter will be long and gradual. Its not always possible to be outside though, the midges are rampant this year and I was plagued by them while I worked in the garden at the weekend. And hows this for recycling. I bring from work bags of shredded confidential waste, its great for adding to the compost and even better for putting round the strawberries to keep the ripening fruit off the ground. In the past I've used straw from my brother's farm but paper is just as good, protects the fruit, helps keep the weeds down and rots away eventually. When people tell me that I shall miss work when I retire I assume they mean I shall miss getting the waste paper, but maybe someone will sneak me out a bag around strawberry time next year, I'll make it worth their while.
We are going down to Yorkshire this weekend, a combination of friends and family visiting and a business event. I'm relieved that the petrol drivers' strike has been called off, though is some ways I was relishing the idea of being stranded back in God's own country, I haven't been home for almost year. Don't worry about Cleo, she is doing really well and we have friends coming to stay in the house to keep her company.

Sunday 15 June 2008

UFOs for dinner

You know those blogs that show you some beautifully prepared meal that the author has produced from freshly sourced organic wholesome produce. This isn't one of those. These unidentified frozen objects were pulled out of the freezer today in an attempt to make some space so that I can go to the local organic farmshop and get a big economical bag of tasty meat rather than calling in every time I need a joint for roasting. Anyway I wasn't sure what any of these were so I took them all out hoping to find something suitable and sufficient for dinner tonight. They defrosted some hours later into a lot of chicken breasts and a piece of salmon. So garlic chicken tonight, plenty of chicken for Cleo and some cold salmon salad tomorrow - result.
I have a very bad attitude when in comes to stocking the freezer, I do occasionally use labels but quite often they fall off. I tell myself I shall remember whats in each bag or box and of course I never do. And my stock is never balanced, at present I seem to have an excess of potato scones, something we rarely eat, they must have been on offer, no bread, a lot of last year's black currants that I keep telling myself I'll use for jam or crumbles and the odd pizza that keeps getting stuck in the drawer so that it won't open. No batch baking or ready prepared (by me or Sainsbury's) convenience meals, in fact now that I've taken the ufos out nothing to produce a proper meal at all. I could say that things will be different when I'm retired and that they need to be because I shan't be at the shops 4 days a week as I am whilst working, but somehow I doubt the ufo situation is going to go away and as for stock rotation or date labelling, fat chance.

Thursday 12 June 2008

Worry, fret, knit

That cat Cleo is taking us on a real roller coaster of emotions. She was quite down at the weekend, not eating so much and certainly not interested in our company. Monday morning we were both awake from around 4 am until the alarm went off fretting about her, me particularly as Mr FF was going away on business for a couple of days and I was worried that I might have to make the decision on my own if she didn't improve. By 7 am she was back to normal, bright as a button, climbing onto our bed and demanding food, so that was a few hours of wasted emotion.
Last night she was sitting in the front room sleeping when Mr FF came home but when he finally went to see her she was gone. We searched the house and the garden several times, missing most of the final of The Apprentice but we couldn't rest. After a couple of hours, during which some really heavy rain came down, we finally found her under a table that has a cloth down to the floor, perfectly cosy and purring away. I was so wound up I couldn't sleep, she is putting years on us.
I've hardly touched my knitting, currently making these Opal socks. I'm really pleased with them if not with my progress and may keep them for myself. I have also made a couple of baby hats for Save the Children and am encouraging people at work to do the same. Hopefully we can produce quite a few and make a difference, its a really worthwhile cause I read about in the Sunday Times, feel free to join in, life saving results for a little time and not much wool.

Sunday 8 June 2008

Phoebe Day

Saturday was such fun, the family arrived mid morning having left Yorkshire at 5 am, they are all early risers, and we had lunch together in the garden. Phoebe was a delight, everything I'd imagined she would be and more, pretty, polite, talkative, undemanding, just adorable. She took a great interest in the garden and liked going up to the leafy part at the back, which she referred to as the woods. We played hide and seek, she told me about her animals, she asked me the names of plants, she spotted insects, she told me what is growing in their allotment, and that she always says please, thank you and sorry, which she does. Her mum and dad should be very proud of her, she is an absolute credit to them, totally unspoilt and very interested in nature and the outdoors.
She did ask me to teach her to juggle completely out of the blue. I've been trying to teach myself for years and never got very far but we played around with a couple balls. Then she found my sock wool, or cotton wool as she preferred to call it and asked me to juggle with that. We threw the balls around a bit and she showed great potential by picking out one particularly colour that she said would make a good skirt.
They all left us to travel up north, its Phoebe's third birthday on Tuesday but there is a surprise party for her today including a bouncy castle and other treats from Granny Scotland. I hope they will call and see us again, I intend to bribe the parents with offers of cuttings from the garden, which they too were very interested to see. That should do the trick.

Wednesday 4 June 2008

My social whirl

Blogs have been a bit thin on the ground recently so here's an epiphyllum from the greenhouse to bring a big splash of colour and mark my return. Cleo has been a big priority of course but we've also had a busy social time with every weekend occupied for the past month or so. We just had more friends to stay, this time from Italy for a long weekend so the garden and the knitting have also been somewhat neglected. Its typical that we don't have social engagements for weeks then they all come at once. This Saturday we have a real VIP (very important Phoebe) visitor with her Mum and Dad. They are all calling in for lunch on their way up north and I can't wait to meet the little sweetheart at last.
Cleo continues to do well, recently dining on smoked salmon and double cream (benefits of all the entertaining we've been doing), with the odd tin of Whiskas for balance. She would like me to mention that she caught a mouse last week, came limping down the garden with it in her mouth and proceeded to eat it. The tension thats been a knot in my stomach since we first had the bad news has eased and I'm so glad we've been able to come to terms with things and have such quality time with her, though I am still dreading the final goodbye.
Amanda is back at work tomorrow so we can have some intensive post wedding discussion and hear about her honeymoon in Cuba, my friend Pam is back from 3 weeks holiday in France and yoga class starts again on Friday. Be nice to get back to a routine and to my domestic and crafting duties.