Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Hand Washing Central

I think I was 18 when I first developed eczema. It coincided with leaving home to go to uni and was probably a combination of stress and having to do all the washing up for the first time - this was in the days before I discovered rubber gloves! Over the years it has come and gone . Hard water exacerbates it and I can always tell when our water softener needs more salt because my hands flare up. Much as I love the thought of scented soaps, any that are given as gifts end up in my sock drawer; my hands being averse to anything with the slightest hint of colour or scent. The current advice to hand wash for the duration of a verse of the National Anthem is doing them no favours. They're red and sore and the Hydrocortisone cream has made a reappearance. 
Coronavirus is all over the news. When I went into London last week, the woman sat opposite me on the train made herself very unpopular with her persistent cough. People kept shooting her dark looks and I was trying to hide behind my book.
I had an appointment at my bank this morning.The virus was mentioned and, as we were parting, the chap went to shake my hand. I jokingly asked if we were doing that and he told me that businessmen in Japan are now shaking feet instead - so we tried it just to be able to say that we had shaken feet with someone that day! :o)
Aside from worrying about viruses, the past few weeks have been very pleasant. There have been a couple of Knitting shows, 2 trips to the cinema - if you haven't seen the film 'Parasite' I would heartily recommend it - trips to see both daughters and a fair bit of crafting and cooking. I have battled with my sourdough starter (it's winning!), nurtured my kombucha and failed to sow my veggie seeds as I can't face sploshing down the garden to the greenhouse.  

Here then are this month's happy photos:
Enjoying my bird feeders:
 A trip to the cinema to see this. Andrew Scott (of Moriarty / priest in Fleabag fame) was brilliant:
 Valentine's Day roses:
My Valentine's Day 'frogilo' from R. I've positioned it in the hosta bed as that's where I most often see frogs and toads - probably lured there by all the hosta-munching slugs.
My granny square blanket made using the bag of scraps of Stylecraft DK that I discovered during a cupboard clear out. It now lives in the car. It's a 'well done' present for Lily for passing her MOT! 
 Enjoying my Camellia:

 A trip to Unravel at the Farnham Maltings with my friend, W.
 My purchases from Unravel - a book, 2 skeins of DK to make the Linus Shawl and a sweater quantity of worsted yarn to make the Weekender sweater.  
Starting the Linus Shawl. The yarn is called 'Space Jam'!:
 Rereading L's copy of 'Emma'. One of my New Year's resolutions was to read more classic books. I'm sticking to it apart from my monthly book from Audible. This month's was 'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine' which I bought after failing to find it at the library. I loved it.
 Finishing my Christmas Eve cast on socks. These have been my travel knitting which is why they have taken a while. The yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in the 'Robin' colourway. I didn't have a red mini skein for the heels and cuffs, so it's more robin against a blue sky!
 A visit to the Stitch Festival at the Business Design Centre in London. It was much easier to access than the Ally Pally and didn't seem quite so crowded:

I met up with L afterwards and we popped to the British Museum to see the Troy exhibition and share a pot of tea and a cake in the members' cafe:
 We then met R and had dinner here. It was YUMMY!
 A trip to Bristol to see E. She had an orchestra rehearsal in the afternoon, so R and I had lunch at Wahaca and then trawled the charity shops and explored the Cathedral whilst we waited. Apparently, the first performance of Handel's 'Messiah' in a church was done here:
 Lastly, Hamish playing dens. He does love a nice cardboard box:
Well, that's all the happies for this month. Hopefully spring will be on the way soon; I think we could all do with a bit of sunshine. In the meantime, take care and remember to wash those hands! :o)

Toodle pip for now. x

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Riding It Out.

We spent yesterday morning battening down the hatches in preparation for storm Ciara. Bird tables, dovecotes, wheelie bins and garden chairs were laid flat. Pots were moved to more sheltered spots and all my 'danglies' (wind chimes, twirly things and the like) were removed from the cherry tree to prevent damage. I'm glad we did, as the wind is currently howling down the chimney and I'm keeping an anxious eye on all the trees. Despite the anxiety, there is something rather cosy about it all and I'm planning an afternoon knitting and reading in front of the stove. Listening to the Shipping Forecast, we were surprised to learn that the Beaufort Scale goes up to 12 - having always assumed that 10 was the maximum - and were very grateful to be safe at home, with nowhere that we need to go.
I thought I'd spend half an hour before lunch unloading my camera, so here are a few photos from the last month:

A visit to Old Sarum. Sadly, my camera battery died almost as soon as we arrived, so this was the only photo of our visit. We loved the castle and the sense of history. What we didn't enjoy was the sight that met us as we walked around the moat. Apparently, rabbits have been causing damage to the structure and so English Heritage had called in a company to 'deal' with the problem. We had noticed a couple of men with dogs, acting, it must be said, rather furtively. As we drew near we saw dozens of rabbit corpses strung up along the fence. Now, this was a Saturday afternoon and there were plenty of families with young children around. One man that we passed was so upset that he called the police. 2 officers came to investigate, only to discover that the men were there legitimately.
It really put a dampener on the day. I can understand the need to preserve the monument, but I'm sure a quieter time of day could have been chosen and the bodies not have been displayed so openly. R sent a letter of complaint to EH, who agreed that it could have been carried out in a better manner and promised to have a word with the people involved. We came home and gave Hamish an extra long hug!
 Finishing my Trapeze Dress with fabric bought from the Knitting and Stitching Show. 
 Tending my air plants - a birthday present from E. If anyone has any tips regarding their care, they would be gratefully received!
 Growing avocados. These are both now potted up, so I'm hoping that they flourish:
Taking a leaf out of  Barbara's book, I decided to join in with the RSPB's bird watch. I feel I should apologise in advance for the poor quality of the photos! My camera isn't the best and I got so excited when a bird landed that my hand tended to jerk when I clicked the button so they're all a bit blurry. If you want better photos, I would head over to Barbara's blog as hers are superb! I did my count whilst drinking my breakfast smoothie and the hour flew by. Later in the day there were flocks of long tailed tits and goldfinches, but, sadly, they were nowhere to be seen at 8 in the morning! Here then are a few, dodgy pictures from my hour :

For R's birthday, I bought him a one day wood turning course. He went along clutching his lunch last weekend and returned at the end of the day with these:
The candlestick was more to learn the techniques involved. He loved it and now wants to clear out the garden shed and buy a lathe!
I tried my hand at dyeing with avocados. The mini-skein on the left is the original bare colour and the pinky-brown is the dyed yarn. I think if I want a brighter pink I would need to make the water more alkaline.
 A trip to Welford Park (famous for being home to The Great British Bake Off) to see the snowdrops:



Those blue skies are from yesterday afternoon - difficult to believe as Ciara has now added thunder and lightning to the high winds!
Anyway, that's all for this week. Wishing you all a cosy afternoon, safe and warm indoors.

Toodle pip for now. x

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Hello 2020!

Hello there! Happy New Year to one and all - I would say 'Happy New Decade'  but the pedants amongst us (R!) would say that that isn't until next year! :0)
I hope you all had a joyous Christmas. L and E were home here and we had our first 'secondhand / homemade' festive season. I say first because it was such fun that we're planning to do it again next year. I made everyone knitted socks, hats and mittens, bought several things from charity shops/car boot sales and made Christmas hampers for the girls - there wasn't a secondhand kilner jar / bottle left in town! 
We also celebrated R's, E's and my birthday, as well as New Year, so we're all a little celebrated out now. Here are a few photos of our Christmas 2019:
Making Christmas Chutney using Mitzi's recipe from here:
 Our advent candle bought at Winchester Cathedral:
Making the girls new stockings. They have had the same felt ones since birth and they were no longer fit for purpose! The idea was to cut out the snowman and Father Christmas from the front of the originals and applique them onto the new stockings but, when it came down to it, I couldn't bring myself to do it. The old ones were hung up for sentimental reasons alongside the new ones which did all the donkey work! The fabric was a scrap that I bought in Glastonbury when E and I visited in the summer and the tops correspond to the colour of their old stockings.
 Enjoying rereading Nigel Slater's Christmas Chronicles (brilliant to see him in the New Year's Honours' List) and using my yarny Advent Calendar:
 Our tree, which was surprisingly drop free this year!
 R's birthday treat was a concert in Oxford - Vox were amazing and 'A Ceremony of Carols'  made a welcome change from Messiah!
 A trip to Bristol to see E play in a concert:
 She was the soloist, so it was a very proud parental moment. There were yummy vegan mince pies in the interval too!
Making limoncello for the hampers:
Our festive jigsaw, bought at a charity shop. We only ever do a jigsaw at Christmas:
 Catching a rainbow:
L and J's presents to us. L had found some old floorboards and a pallet, so they made us a bug hostel each. Ours is the Newbury one and E's is marked Bristol. They picked up the pieces for the slate signs during their holiday to the Lake District. L also did a cross stitch of a country cottage. I had bought the kit for her when she was about 10 and she had finally finished it and bought a frame in Oxfam. She also gave me a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to make kombucha as hers had grown a new one.
E gave us an oil painting she had done and also some secondhand books which I'm looking forward to reading:

R made me a hedgehog box and is also building a fruit / brassica cage for the garden. The birds stripped all my berries before we got a look in last year and , after finding a dead blue tit caught in it, I don't want to net my kale again. He also mended the clock in the hall which has been set at 10 to 3 (in honour of Rupert Brooke's poem!) for the last 5 years.
Our Christmas Day walk:

My birthday trip to see the Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery:
This is the last time that the artefacts will go on tour as there is a new museum being built in Egypt to house them all. The exhibition, although crowded and hot, was stunning and well worth a visit.
We finished the day with dinner at a Korean restaurant before returning home:
Tofu bibimbap - yum!
J came to join us for New Year's Eve and we spent the evening playing D&D. It was great fun and the game finished at 11:50, so was perfectly timed to ring in the New Year. I confess that I don't usually like New Year and, left to my own devices, would happily go to bed at the normal time, but I really enjoyed this one.
New Year's Day walk at Snelsmore Common:
Playing on a rope swing!
On E's birthday a swan came up to the back door to be fed. We are quite used to the ducks but, though we occasionally see them on the river, this is the first time that a swan has come walking up the garden:
We celebrated E's birthday by doing an  escape room. L and E had done one before but it was a first for R and me. The theme was the Wild West and we just managed to get out with 50 seconds to spare!
Well, that's me all caught up. L is now back in London and E goes back to uni this week, so life will return to normal for a while. May I take the opportunity to wish everyone love, light and peace for 2020.

Toodle pip for now. x