Wednesday 20 May 2009

And not before time

I've been busy on light duties planting out in the kitchen garden, or pottager as I like to call it, an area beside the back door that's handy for popping out to harvest herbs, leaves or a few flowers. I've planted sweet peas, dahlias, sunflowers, lettuce, courgettes, rocket and dill. The latter were the only seedlings I didn't protect with fine gravel thinking the slugs wouldn't eat such a strongly scented herb, they didn't eat it but have sheared most of the plants off at ground level, lucky I kept one or two in pots that I'll take better care of. The veg garden, further away from the house has the major crops of beans, peas etc, all doing well. The weather has been perfect for planting out, some rain, some sun, I hope that trend continues.
And the reason for all this activity and greenhouse clearing, we are off to Italy on Thursday We fly from Edinburgh to Bologna with 10 kilos of hand luggage each, another challenge for me as I need to take a wheeled case to save humping a holdall around and my empty case weighs 3.5 kilos. We are staying in our friends' house in Tuscany again and hoping to pick up two stages of the Giro d'Italia, complete with Lance, when it passes through Pistoia one day and Lucca another.
I've been to the physiotherapist this morning, she was happy with the progress I've made, suggested I get a repeat prescription of the tablets I've been taking and gradually use less of them to control the pain. So I shall be off line for about 14 days and hopefully living the flip flop life. I'll leave you with some pretty pictures of plants that are brightening up my herbaceous border they stand out like beacons amongst a sea of green.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Further outside the house

Have you had enough of the west coast yet, maybe I could just show you where we went on our jaunts?
The Ardnamurchan Peninsular is a rugged stretch of land served by a single track road that runs for about 25 miles to the lighthouse, designed by Alan Stevenson, relative of Robert Louis and built in 1849. I'm told the sail round the point is quite tricky so its reassuring to know that the lighthouse and fog horn though now operating automatically still ensure the safety of passing ships
On Sunday afternoon we drove in the opposite direction towards Mallaig where the ferry leaves for Skye and other islands. The road mainly follows the coast and there are some gorgeous white sandy beaches plus of course more stunning views.We stopped the car at this one, had a wander and I collected a few shells.And thank you all for asking, my shoulder is much better and once again I can dress myself. Helen kindly contacted her physiotherapist relative who suggested I should try to start moving and straightening my arm with a couple of gentle exercises. These have made a big difference, I am sleeping better and the debilitating pain has turned to an ache. I am so pleased with the progress I've made so far particularly since information on the internet suggests that healing can take at least a year, must have been the sea air. I have physio treatment at my own doctors on Wednesday and on Thursday we are leaving for another trip so its just as well I'm feeling much better. Can you guess where we are going, think pasta, think lycra, think Lance Armstrong.

Thursday 14 May 2009

Outside the house

I didn't realise I had take quite so many photographs outside as well inside, so today I'll show you the immediate environs of our weekend home and you can see where else we went another day.The house is surrounded on three sides by decking, this side and of course the front look out to sea, the other side onto the rocks beside which the house was built. This is the little bay below the house, easily accessible by scrambling over the rocks. The islands on the horizon are Rhum the peaky one with the cloud above it, Eigg the flatter island in front of Rhum and Muck to the left. They are more obvious on this picture, if you look carefully you can see Mr FF on the highest rock doing his mermaid impersonation. Neither of us realised till we'd been there a couple of days that the loch is tidal and completely cuts off this rock, I'm sure he would have swum back for his dinner. On a clear day such as this you can see the Cuillins on the Isle of Skye, the jagged ridge to the left. All these photographs were taken from the terrace so you get an idea of the wonderful panorama.
Finally beside the front door and looking away from the water there is a handy bench that catches the morning sun and guess what I used it for.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

In the house

Well the planned trip along the road to the isles was preceded by a trip down the road to the doctors on Friday. My shoulder and left arm had been quite sore for a while but Thursday evening I hardly slept and knew I wasn't in a fit state to make the four hour car journey to the west coast. Luckily the doctor fitted me in late morning and after a very thorough examination diagnosed the problem as acute frozen shoulder. I had to have a steroid injection into the joint, whilst clinging onto the lovely nurse who kindly undressed me and offered a hand to squeeze. This was most unpleasant and I came home to rest on the sofa thinking the trip was off but fortunately after a couple of hours and a talking to from Mr FF I felt some improvement so armed with pain killers and anti inflammatories we set off late afternoon.
The prospect of being ill away from home was daunting and I certainly wasn't feeling 100% over the weekend, we didn't get to do any walking, use the bikes or the canoe that come with the property, but we did spend a lot of time looking out of the windows, had a couple of gentle runs out in the car and tried to relax.
You all seem to have got as excited as me at the thought of staying in such a grand design, so I took lots of photographs for you which I hope give you a feel for the place. It is a beautiful family home with a very natural and nautical feel created by lime washed boarding to the walls and wooden floors. Built on stilts between rocky outcrops it fits into the landscape beautifully and being extremely well insulated felt cozy even when the rain poured down. The house came into its own when the sun shone, huge sliding doors open out onto the decking bringing the outside in.
Lets start with the view from the kitchen window.A perfect place to sit and knit.
The living area is open plan, kitchen, dining featured here , sitting, all looking onto this
Mr FF, structural engineer that he is, spent a lot of time contemplating the exposed construction , I just admired it.
The deer isn't real, its inflatable.
Helen and I found this boat in an antique shop in Edinburgh many years ago and she bought it for her husband's birthday, long before she ever dreamt of this house but she did design a shelf above a door especially for it.
View from our bedroom window at the back of the house with the tumbling burn that runs into the loch and will be used to generate power.
I have explained to Helen already that since I wasn't up to par this trip really doesn't count and I should have another visit when I'm well, she agrees totally. Next time I'll show you more of the outside and the places we visited. For now try to imagine the sounds of the water, the call of sea birds and the wonderful timber smell of the house.

Monday 11 May 2009

Haiku Festival Day

Needles from the jar

Entangled in soft spun fleece

I cast on again

Friday 8 May 2009

The road to the isles

We are away this weekend to stay in Helen's lovely eco house on the west coast and somewhere to the right on this photograph, part of my 60th birthday present last year. You can see the house here but I will be telling you all about it when I get back. The area is quite remote from the point of view that the shop only gets milk delivered on a Tuesday and mobile phone reception is hit and miss so don't expect to hear from me for a while. I notice Mr FF has put out his munro book and map of Ben Nevis, I have visions of sitting on the terrace knitting and watching dolphins rather than scaling mountain peaks but no doubt we shall compromise.
I also need to tell you that Tracy at Pink Purl is hosting a Haiku Festival on Monday 11 May. There's still time to join in and post your effort on your blog, let Tracy know if you are interested. I've written mine and set it to come up automatically on Monday morning as I shall still be away, I hope that works.
Have a lovely weekend when it arrives, we plan to.

Wednesday 6 May 2009

A wet day in Inverness

Mr FF had a business meeting in Inverness yesterday and after some swithering about gardening I eventually accompanied him as the weather forecast wasn't that good. The journey up was fine and it didn't start to rain until into the afternoon though it seems there had been a lot more rain at home so nothing was lost. The route is beautiful, through Perthshire and into the dramatic Highlands with snow still on the tops and deer grazing on the hillsides.
I only had a couple of hours to kill whilst the meeting was going on so I took a walk round the town. The centre of Inverness doesn't have a lot to recommend it, the usual selection of chain stores, but the environs are very pleasant, some lovely old houses and pretty gardens. There is a nice stretch by the river where I could have sat knitting if the weather had been better, as it was I found a few bargains in the charity shops
5 balls of Rowan cotton glace and a pretty pressed glass dish
Some fair trade biscuits in the Oxfam shop and a sadly neglected campanula 50p in a supermarket bargain bucket. The plant is currently in intensive care on the kitchen window cill, its touch and go whether I can revive it but look how pretty the pot is. Total spend just under £6.
On the way home we stopped off at a National Trust property for a pot of tea. Dream on, the self service restaurant offered mugs, hot water from an urn and tagged tea bags, no teapots, hot water or individual milk jugs. I really can't stand tea made in a mug, even when I'm on my own I make a proper pot of tea. Sarah Raven would be furious as were we and we left quickly. I've already sent off my Mrs Angry letter to the Trust. We drove on to a charming teashop that we often use further down the road, proper service including pretty tartan Tain Pottery cups, delicious homemade cakes and plenty of beautiful crafty things to admire in the shop.
Mr FF mentioned to his colleague that I was with him, to which the person said that having company can make the journey seem a lot shorter. Mr FF apparently replied that it can also make it seem a lot longer, I have no idea what he meant.

Friday 1 May 2009

Put together sock finale

I have now exhausted the possibilities of producing wearable socks from the scrap bag which is just as well because the exercise was becoming a bit stressful.
This pair worked out quite well, I used three different yarns knitting the cuff and heel in one colour, the main part in another and the toe in the third (you can hardly see the change). I had enough of the main colour to make a larger size.
But this last pair has been a real headache, the cuff, heel and toe are all knitted in different yarns. I barely had enough of the main colour to finish and not enough of anything else to knit the leg in one colour and the foot in another. I resorted to knitting the first sock to just beyond the heel turn whilst constantly weighing the wool on my kitchen scales, I'd checked before I started so knew how much yarn I could afford for each sock. I then started the second pair imagining once I'd completed the cuff and heel I might have some of those colours left to use in the foot, of course I didn't. I eventually knitted a fairly small size, rather tight for my size 5 feet, but I think they've turned out quite well and looking at the colours I had left and might have had to resort to, could have been a lot worse.
I'll put all the little bits into the charity shop hoping someone can make use of them and pat myself on the back for finally emptying the scrap bag that had been on my conscience for a while. Now lets see what else is in that stash.