Monday 29 June 2009

Cat Feeders

Our friends K and S have been on holiday for 10 days so once again we have been feeding the delightful Peaches. She does have an automatic feeder that dispenses five portions of dried food over 2.5 days but we still visit her each evening. We've made a little ritual of preparing dinner then strolling together up the back lane towards the hills and Peaches lovely little cottage. She is always pleased to see us and comes running to the window or round from the garden as soon as we arrive, generally crying that the feeder hasn't opened and she needs food immediately, but that's never true.
We spend at least half an hour with her, the weather has been so good that after we've topped up the feeder and watered the greenhouse we've generally sat out in the garden, enjoying someone else's planting ideas and a different view of the hills.
Sometimes we've put the cat food outside and and wished we'd a glass of white wine to enjoy in the early evening sunshine as we watch Peaches enjoy her picnic. There's always some serious fussing to be done, a chasing game, tummy tickles and best of all chin rubs. K and S are home today so our duties are finished, we shall miss our walks, seeing their garden progress and nuzzling Peaches' soft sun warmed fur, lets hope they have more holidays planned soon.

Friday 26 June 2009

Look what the sun brought out

My cousin, the intrepid car booter, bought something for £25, got the seller to dismantle and pack it, asked if we'd like it as she didn't have room herself and brought it up from Yorkshire a couple of years ago. It had resigned in the garage all that time, the summers hadn't been that good so we never bothered to put it up but this year is different. I am retired now so I started pestering Mr FF as soon as the warm weather came and this week I got all the pieces out and laid them on the lawn.
I had to look at examples on the internet to try and work out how to fit it together, I don't think I'm spatially aware or maybe I'm just a bit dim. I was surprised that they are still sold and also at the price of them, anything up to £500. Can you guess what it is yet, these aren't all the components, but the metal pieces made this
Yes its a swing seat. I remember these from when I was a child, we never had one but I can recall visiting gardens that did and I always wanted one. Its very retro, the cushions are not as garish as some I remember, quite restful and very comfy
Nothing was missing, it even came with stays to stop it swinging and its own wet weather cover, such a bargain. We have it on the lawn where it catches the late evening sun, though its good at all times, a nice shady place to relax during the heat of the day and long enough for one person to stretch out. Weather permitting Mr FF and I will be swinging this weekend.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

I ask no more

My latest shower product that smells delicious and though it has an oily consistency lathers luxuriously. I just wish Mr FF would stick to his manly toiletries and stop using this .
The Italian alpaca, an ordinary looking ball unwinds to reveal such an interesting structure, I don't know how they do that but I think its so stylish
Mr FF wearing the newest pair of socks I've knitted him straight away. He said his sock drawer was so full he had to, that doesn't make sense he could have worn any pair to make space. Arisarum, the mouse tail plant, still gives me a little surprise when I lift the leaves.

Friday 19 June 2009

Its mine to squander

A while ago my cousin gave me an unidentified ball of wool, it would have made pretty socks but seemed very fragile and unlikely to wear so I started to knit a shawl that I intended to give to her. As ever I had the not enough wool turmoil and though I produced a nice enough shoulder cover it certainly wouldn't have fitted my cousin. In that thinking aloud way I mentioned to Mr FF that I might pull it out and make something else, he gave me one of his lectures on wasting time. As far as I'm concerned, time spent knitting is never wasted whatever the out come and as a retired woman I do feel I have time to waste. At the age of 5 I stepped on to the hamster wheel of life and now at 60 I'm off it at last, my time is my own.
We had a similar conversation one day when he'd been out at meetings and I asked him to collect a few provisions on his way home, stressing that nothing was urgent and only if he had time and was passing shops. He came home with my order and cross that it had taken him 1.5 hours to find a shop and make the purchases. I reminded him that I'd said only if he had time and that I could easily go to the nearest village, about 8 miles away if necessary. His reply was that I couldn't be wasting my time travelling to shops.
I don't think he has any comprehension of the time I waste and what a luxury it is to be able to do so. At present I'm busy watching my first tomato turn red in the greenhouse and what could be nicer than laying in bed with the curtains wide open, drinking tea, contemplating the day ahead whilst gazing onto the garden. Note I don't do this during the week the window cleaners are due, I did get caught out once, had to sort of roll out of bed and crawl towards my dressing gown.And the little shawl, inspired by Tracy's post I'm going to pass it on to some charity that provides comfort for those who need it, so not wasted time at all.
I hope you have plenty of time to waste this weekend.

Monday 15 June 2009

The family silver

When I was a little girl one of my favourite jobs at home was polishing the brass and silver either with my Mum or more often my Gran. There was quite a lot of cleaning to do as the family seemed to have accumulated a collection of brass candlesticks, horse brasses and various pieces of silver. We'd spread newspaper over the large kitchen table and go round the house picking up the items to be cleaned. I thought it was amazing that you applied a polish that made the metal even dirtier but when you rubbed it away with a clean cloth everything was sparkling. I even liked the black dirt that accumulated on my fingers as I worked away. I'd sit and chatter happily to my Gran who one day asked me which was my favourite piece. I chose this little jug probably because of its shape and eventually after I'd left home she gave it to me. I didn't realise how much this ritual meant to me until many years later my Mum died. One of the first things I did in the house was clean the brass and silver, strangely it was a comforting thing to do and today when I've been polishing all these memories came back.I don't have much silver myself, but I do like these napkins rings, a collection I started when my Mum gave me a pair from the house, as she did this pretty sugar spoon. I don't imagine I shall be taking any of my pieces to the Antiques Roadshow, but as far as I'm concerned they are priceless, and today at least spotless.

Friday 12 June 2009

A day in Darlington

Every couple of months Mr FF travels down to Darlington for business meetings and I go with him. I'm not too keen on the early start but I do get some travel knitting done. He usually drops me off in the town just before 10 and I head straight for a coffee. His colleagues are amazed that I can occupy myself for a whole day but I love walking round the streets in and out of shops and if I get bored with that there are museums and a library to discover.
Wednesday is usually meetings day which is unfortunate as that's the day A Fine Yarn is closed but this last time we went down on Thursday. So I headed into the covered market, had a nice long chat with Christine, the owner, and came away with another ball of Trekking that I might use to knit a baby jumper
and this gorgeous cashmere from The Knitting Goddess who is based on the Isle of Wight, the colour is Dog Rose and its beautiful. Christine did offer to wind it for me and post it on, its going to take me hours because the yarn is incredibly fine but I didn't want to let it out of my hands. I came away with a pattern for a shawl and am assured that one skein will be enough.
I had a look in the Oxfam shop and they were selling baby clothes 3 for £1. I bought three rather horrible and worn out knitted cardigans because each had gorgeous buttons, look I got all these aren't they lovely.
So with the wool from Italy that's the stash replenished and I really need to do some knitting.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

and on the other days

We seemed to spend our first three days in Italy in the hire car, getting to Tuscany from Bologna, then driving round after the Giro. Aware that we'd have another big drive to get to Lazio for the last two days of our holiday, we were happy to spend time at the house and in our little town. Mr FF had offered to install satellite tv for the house owners which kept him busy and left me free to laze around. I did do some dorissing, always a pleasure in Italy, and a bit of weeding in the garden but a lot of time was spent sitting outside. The local riding school which the first floor terrace looks onto held some kind of gymkhana, this involved riding round various obstacles, a very long lunch and a bit more riding. I didn't do much knitting, started a pair of cotton socks for Mr FF but really it was a bit hot.
Late one afternoon we went down to Lucca, it was a pleasure to walk round the beautiful town as the temperature cooled, the day trippers left and the shops started opening again for the evening. We had a coffee beside the city walls, explored the narrow streets and joy of joys found the wool shop was open this time. I was served by a very knowledgeable man who told me he had once travelled to Edinburgh on his vespa, he said he fell off at Viareggio, not far away but after that he had a comfortable ride and liked Edinburgh very much. I bought this beautiful alpaca that I have in mind to knit a blanket for my niece's baby and some sock wool, all made in Italy and great value.
We were up early every day, ate all our meals outside, spent evenings sitting out watching the fire flies and exhausted from doing not much slept soundly in this beautiful antique bed. I know I said no more Giro but I just wanted to tell you that when we were leaving we met in the airport queue a charming couple from Edinburgh who had been to Rome for the weekend blissfully unaware that the boys were coming to town. The man showed me his photo of Lance, Lance on the time trial in his skin suit, and kindly offered to email it to me. It arrived yesterday, woweee, thanks Aditya, you've made this retired lady very happy.

Friday 5 June 2009

My Giro days two and three

OK. I won't go on too much more about the Giro, I know there could be a limit to the number of photographs of tanned limbs and lycra that you want to see. So I'll just tell you that we caught two other stages of the tour and on both occasions I got really really close to Lance.
The second day of our holiday we were up bright and early, I woke around 5. 30 to bright sunlight, opened the curtains and was surprised to see the man next door up, fully dressed and watering his garden. Its inspirational to live in a climate where there's no need to huddle under the duvet postponing getting out of bed.
We didn't have to drive too far to catch the cyclists that morning, we had thought they were riding to the top of a mountain pass but actually the road surface was so bad it would have been dangerous and they went through the tunnel underneath it. We saw them just before they started the climb and here is my photograph of Lanceblurred but precious he's on the far left wearing no 21.
The other stage we saw was the penultimate one that passed within about 20 minutes of our house in Lazio. We left Tuscany that morning and after a long long drive arrived in Anagni in time to catch the end of the day that included two circuits of the town. I took a few more snaps but for the final lap I decided just to watch, cheer and enjoy, I was rewarded when Lance came along at my side of the road so close, so handsome. Next day, Sunday, we watched part of the final stage, a time trial in Rome, at our friends house. I saw Denis Menchov fall off, skid down the road, get on a new bike and go on to win the Giro d'Italia. Ivan Basso might have been my winner of choice but Denis really deserved his victory especially after such a disaster and Lance finished a creditable 12th. Brilliant.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

My Giro day one

Great to be home to such sunny weather that prolongs my flipflops days and makes me happy. We had a lovely time in Italy with some wonderful Giro trips that I shall tell you about in stages, or tappa as we call them.
We arrived at the house in Tuscany quite late after a long drive from Bologna, it was getting dark and we had to open up as the property had been empty for about three months, turn on the electricity, water and gas, settle in and eat. We didn't get the boiler going until the next morning, then we had to call on a neighbour to ask her to contact the telephone company as the line was down, so it was a bit late or us to get down to Lucca to watch the boys fly by. We did drive down there but were obviously too late so moved on further down the route. We arrived at a nice little town that was displaying the 15 k to go banner but Mr FF felt sure we were too late there as well and that we should press on towards Florence, the end of the days stage. I was a bit reluctant to drive around such a large city looking for the Giro but Mr FF said he was pretty sure he knew where we needed to go.
Once into the suburbs I asked a smart business man at a bus stop if he knew where we could see the Giro and he directed us straight ahead. Sure enough we came to a road block manned by a policeman, I explained what we wanted to do and he kindly lifted the barrier and told us where to park. Mr FF said he would attend to parking arrangements and I should run up towards the hoardings where the boys were obviously going to pass by. I found us a great place where we would see the cyclists approach, turn a sharp corner and head downhill under the 3 k to go banner.
Mr FF eventually found me having parked outside a nice Pasticceria, cake shop cum bar, a perfect combination, where the lady had been really helpful and sold him a parking ticket for 70 minutes, which we both thought was a strange amount of time.
We stood waiting with a jolly crowd and a rather handsome policeman who kept us informed of progress, the riders were 20 k away so still had to pass through the previous town we'd visited. After about an hour Mr FF started to think he would have to go back to the car and buy another parking ticket though by this time things were hotting up, various motorcycle riders came by, sponsor and support vehicles, all sounding their horns and building up the atmosphere. Fearing the wardens he did run back for another ticket and mentioned when he came back that it was strange that he didn't have to validate it, usually you scratch off numbers to show the date and time you park. He asked me if he should perhaps have written something on the ticket but I said the nice lady would have given him a pen or shown him where to write and she didn't do that.
Then suddenly the riders arrived, we barely had time to cheer them and take photographs before they passed, all grouped together at this stage and obviously waiting for someone to start the sprint to the finish. In fact Britain's Mark Cavendish went on to win, his third and final stage victory in this year's Giro on the day after his 24th birthday.
We both agreed the drive and wait had been really worthwhile and happily wandered back down to the nice lady's shop for drinks, a panino for Mr FF and a pastry for me whilst we admired the smart Florentini ladies who called in for espresso and cake.
Then we went back to the car and I asked to see the parking tickets to solve the validation problem. There carefully displayed on the dashboard and easily visible for the traffic warden were two bus tickets and luckily no parking fine, Mr FF's many years of Italian lessons have really paid off.