Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Pill Box Hat and other things

I write to you today from a strange computer in a strange place (well, in truth the strange place is simply The Technical Advisor's desk but with all its wires, gadgets and clutter, that can be a very strange place indeed!)

Sadly I am not only without my laptop for the moment but also my camera and that is very hard, over the last couple of years my camera has become such an important tool to me and even more so this year with my effort to take a photo every day as part of project 365. Being without my tool makes me realise how important it has become to me, causing me to look at the world from different angles, appreciate the differences in light that come with the changing seasons.

As I am likely to be without computer and camera for some time I did consider putting the blog to sleep and that still might happen. I wondered what it would be like to live in such a technology free zone for a time, unable to quickly google alternative muffin recipes or look up "pillbox hats" on a whim. It is still possible that I might disconnect for a period but for the moment I am still considering, trying out the thought of it, getting used to the changes. A kind friend has in fact loaned me a camera which should quite suffice if I can my head around it and The Technical Advisor has encouraged me to use his desk and not go cold turkey, he is worried that I will miss my blogging and I am sure that is true.

It seems as I grow older I grow more set in my habits and resistant to change. This has surprised me, I thought I was more flexible than that, I didn't realise the roots that had grown from my feet, anchoring me, I didn't realise how much reliance on routine and predictability had crept into my being, once upon a time I thrived on change and surprise but now it makes my heart sink a little. So here I am, writing from the other side of the room and trying to adjust to some changes and rather aptly, as I upload the images for this post I noticed just how quickly the light was changing this afternoon from light and piercing to dark and brooding.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The colour of calm

The children frequently demand to know my favourite colour in the same way that they continually ask me my favourite dinner, favourite song, favourite film, favourite cake, favourite sweet. They are c
ontinually exasperated by my lack of clear concise answers, the favourite dinner question can lead to a lengthy dialogue, I need to know the season, the time of day, the variety of beef/potato/pea. The music question is very dependent on time of day, company, situation and as for cake, who can possibly choose? Actually, come to think of it, The Technical Advisor would choose Victoria Sponge every time. As the children grow older they are beginning to understand some of my indecision and unwillingness to commit to a favourite, for years Dylan's favourite food was sausage and chips, without question, but that is changing, exceptions are creeping in, he would not dream of choosing sausage and chips on a Sunday, the favourite food on a Sunday is undoubtedly roast beef and all the trimmings and there are other favourites creeping in too. Tilly could never commit to a favourite film, her choice of DVD is very much dependent on her mood and choices are generally connected to whatever her favourite game of the moment might be.

Still, when it comes to colour there is no uncertainty and they are entirely frustrated by my inability to choose. There is just no way I can choose a favourite colour, I notice that I am drawn to different colours at different times of year, I am sure this must be to do with light and mood. The children continually question me, they use the "but if you absolutely had to choose, if it was going to be the last colour in the world ever, which would it be?" but I just cannot say, I cannot bear the idea of cutting off a colour for ever. Right now, as I write, I am thinking about this question, for a moment I thought, hmmm, maybe mustard, maybe I could live without browny-yellowish mustard but then I thought no! It is so great with orange and brown, an essential colour of autumn, I couldn't live without mustard. Acidic yellow? No way! Think of the daffodils giving us hope and cheer just as we can take no more winter. So I guess there is just no colour I can live without and equally no colour that I can choose above all others, although I am pretty sure I will never paint a room in lime green and electric blue again.

The Habu jacket is seamed and waiting for buttons, the buttons need a special trip out and at the moment that is difficult as my car has given all appearances of dying this week. And so the spiralling continues but this pale blue yarn anchors me a little amidst the spinning. It soothes my eye and thus my mind. It's not my favourite colour ever, ever, ever but it is my favourite colour right now and luckily, it is Tilly's absolute favourite colour (pink was usurped last year) of all time so she is very happy that I am knitting Mia in lovely soft, squashy Cashmerino Aran, a very kind gift from Cassie who lives in a warmer, sunnier part of the world.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Life often seems to spiral and mine has been spinning for some time and seems to be getting faster and faster! I know that there will be calm again and I am trying to keep focused on that, trying to keep a steady horizon in my imaginery eye line.

Amidst all this spiralling I continue to knit and sew of course but as always seems to happen at these time I keep flitting from project to project and nothing is finished. It seems such a long time since I posted a finished object here that I might have to consider dragging out "one I made earlier" if things do not pick up!

The Habu Stainless Steel is still being seamed. Seaming is never my favourite part of a project and in this case it does even less to redeem itself. The end is almost in site though and I think a really good session today, perhaps fuelled by a glass of wine and slice of cake, might just put it to rest. Perhaps knuckling down to something which requires all my powers of concentration is just what I need, I will be forced to hold still and steady at the centre of the spiral, perhaps some of that steadiness might radiate out and slow the spinning.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A bunch of blue ribbons
Writing this post reminded me of "Oh dear what can the matter be", a song I used to sing when I was little. I think it was one of the few things I managed to teach myself to play on the piano and I am pretty sure I played it over and over and over....I really felt for that poor girl, waiting for her bunch of blue ribbons to tie up her bonny brown hair.

As I flicked through a cook book this morning deciding what to bake, because I am still baking my way out of the November gloom, I thought about how much I am drawn to pretty book covers, In addition to being attracted by a pretty cover, I am particularly fond of any books that have incorporated those ribbon place marks. Yes, perhaps I am easily pleased but they really do give me pleasure.

Of course they are useful, so handy for a book to come with a ready made place mark and how wonderful that they should come in such pleasing satiny colours.

Perhaps this pleasure is similar to the feeling I get when I see pretty balls of wool all lined up in different colours.

A simple pleasure but yet another thing to cheer up November.

In case you were wondering what I baked? Lemon bars, a sweet pastry base and a tingling, slightly chewy lemony topping. The recipe came from the excellent Linda Collister, Irresistible Cookies & Biscotti A much used book but saddly no ribbon.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

November's grey skies

It has always seemed to me that November can be the very greyest of months, right up there with January in fact. December redeems itself with its air of cheer and homeliness but November always seems to be ushered in with plenty of cloud cover and so far the weather has proved true to form.

Grey, damp days, we wake to a sort of foggy drizzle that hovers oppressively all day long, neither wet nor dry, a disaster for my frizz prone hair.

This year I have determined not to let November get me down, I will look for good in this dull old month. Tilly has a birthday right at the end of the month so that is should certainly bring some pink happiness into the gloom and in the mean time I can bake myself some comfort.

Apple Muffins with a Crumble Topping. I found the recipe in Delia's How To Cook - Part Two but swapped the milk for buttermilk and left the nuts out of the topping. I cut down on the ground cloves as the quantity seemed qu
ite large, I'm glad I did and next time I would cut down even more as they detract a little from the gorgeous cinnamon flavour but I guess it's down to personal preference.

Look, I turned the lights on for the final shot, November is looking a little friendlier already.

I just found a recipe link over here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Has anyone seen a dinosaur go by?

My goodness, it seems scarcely believable but November is upon us already. Half-term week took the children and I across a rather bumpy Irish Sea and up the motorways to Belfast. I optimistically took my laptop intending to download photographs and perhaps even manage a postcard style blog post but in fact the laptop stayed firmly in my suitcase and the days passed quickly in a blur of puppet shows (there is an old chest in the bedroom that once was mine and it is full to the brim with old Pelham puppets) and outings.

Whilst in Belfast we managed a trip to W5, a science museum. The children love this place and although we have been many times there is always something new to see. This time it was the Dinosaur Exhibition and the pile of dinosaur poo was of particular delight to my children.

Unfortunately while we were visiting the alarms suddenly began to sound and we had to quickly leave the building by the fire exits. I was born in 1970 and growing up amidst The Troubles means I am no stranger to having to suddenly leave buildings, the memory of my being stuck one leg in, one leg out of a pair of skin-tight corduroy jeans in a busy department store changing room when a bomb scare was suddenly announced has a particularly tender place in my memories; although I suppose on the positive side, I can no
w proudly claim to be super fast in changing rooms. Thankfully Belfast is no longer troubled, indeed it is a vibrant, flourishing city and on this occasion it was nothing more than a false fire alert. The building was quickly checked and we were allowed to return. Whilst we stood shivering on the dockside, this Belfast girl cursed herself for being so foolish as to have checked in all our coats and her handbag containing, phone, purse, number etc., thank goodness it was a false alarm and we soon warmed up once back in the building.

Tilly found the whole thing a little frightening and I was worried in case she had somehow overheard someone mentioning the word bomb or explosion but while sitting in the cafe later, cholate muffin in hand, she confessed that she had been very worried that the alert was in fact due to the escape of one of the dinosaurs! I can see how that would a terrifying thought, especially having seen that pile of prehistoric poo.