Wednesday, 30 September 2009

unidentified sponge-like objects




My Nana Westwell would be proud. If she didn't have a potato peeler in her hand, she would be up to her elbows in self-raising. These circular babies belong to J who happens to be 12 on Saturday. He has a talent for making eggs, flour and butter spring into fluffy action. He is blessed with the Westwell talent for whisking.

I hope you can forgive this maternal bragging. Sometimes I just can't help myself. I do realise it's quite unseemly but as I'm not prone to doing this every day, I feel I can get away with the odd swell of the bosom.

I am listening to the Archers whilst typing this. I have finally managed to download Realplayer. It does sound a bit tinny though. Better than nothing I suppose.

It's dark already. I have a poorly looking broody chicken. She has been sitting on eggs for weeks with the occasional foray into the fresh air. She's aged about 10 years and looks sad. I'm going to give her the weekend but if she doesn't perk up (and I don't believe I'm saying this), I'm going to have to take her to the vet! I have never been to a vets having avoided pet ownership (unless you count elderly guinea pigs). In any case, it's time to lock them up for the evening, otherwise they tend to go to the pub and go binge-drinking.

Monday, 28 September 2009

friends and family

We went to see our dear friends R&R&I&A&K at the weekend. We had less than 24 hours together and we hadn't seen each other for over a year. It felt as if we'd seen them last week.

Why is that? Why is it that old friends can just pick up where they left off? We have five small to medium-sized children between us and they managed quite nicely, playing and getting along as if they spent every afternoon in non-OFSTED-inspected childcare together.

Almost a day in the company of good friends was just what I needed. I found some very nice Saint-Emillion wine at half price in Tesco on the way there and we took some of our not quite so nice but, shall we say, unusual garden cider too. Tesco have also introduced flower racquets - Gerberas threaded through what looks like a cardboard plate to stop them a-flapping and a-snapping. What a good idea.

We sat in the garden, watched R barbecue and drank too much while the kids played some rockband game and watched a DVD. Lots of chat and food and popcorn at 1.45am. Always a good choice.

It was too short a visit but we had a great time enjoying the musical variety of spotify. I thought I'd joined ages ago but it appears I haven't. I logged my email to wait for an official invitation. I think it may take longer than joining ravelry.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

high dudgeon....

is a phrase I most recently heard whilst watching a long-ago episode of 'The Good Life', the one where Margo has a windbreak incident and tortures a workman with her wonderfully acerbic phrases. It's an episode of carefully executed misunderstandings and over-reactions. One of my favourite.

I have been in 'high dudgeon' for a while about all sorts of things. I was beginning to wonder whether I had some kind of random anxiety disorder. It has become a bit of a habit. Even when there isn't a problem or an issue or a niggle, given the right conditions, I have been able to create a mountain where not even a molehill has been and I have tested the patience and understanding of some of the people closest to me. Yes, you know who you are and thank you!

I have my theories why this is happening. I think, most probably, that a difficult anniversary is approaching and instead of grieving and acknowledging actual facts and reality, I'm doing a very good job of creating all sorts of semi-traumatic worries and anxieties thereby distracting myself from what I really need to do which is grieve and move on somehow. I hope over the next few weeks to be able to do this. I don't think it's going to be particularly easy but it's going to have to happen.

Today, unexpectedly, has been a day of resolution. Someone astrological could probably explain this and, in fact, my stars on Sunday said that I'm going to have a fantastic month but to be wary of 'odd dreams'. Perhaps my random anxieties can be called 'odd dreams'. If I could sleep through the night I am sure I would have some.

To end on a more positive note....I am just off to play 'mastermind' with E who has now recovered from her sickliness and waiting patiently for me to come up with some suitable questions about fish.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

making connections....


One of my favourite bloggers, Jane Brocket at yarnstorm is writing about allotments, particularly a 385-plot site in West London. She has made a beautiful photo essay of a visit she paid to them recently.

One of my other favourite bloggers, Little Brown Dog at The World According to LBD has written a book about our village allotments, possibly the oldest allotments in England. There has been much celebration this year, as they turned 200 years old. Gardener's Question Time came to visit for two whole programmes, there was a picnic party in September and, most recently, a talk at the Swindon and Wiltshire History Centre about, well, their history. It has been fantastic to come together and celebrate the history of digging and growing and harvesting that has gone on for two centuries right on our doorstep.

Looking to the future, I hear that there are plans to include the site in the National Garden Scheme's Yellow Book next year. I share a plot with a neighbour and we are, shall I say, slightly haphazard although improving in our attempts to provide our nearest and dearest with fresh produce. We've finally got the hang of weeds but are still not great with the feast and famine aspect of growing too many courgettes and not enough carrots. Our plot is by one of the gates and likely to be one of the first any visitors see. That thought, quite frankly, gives me the horticultural hebegebees.

When I say the plot is on our doorstep, it's actually outside our kitchen window. I can see a pop-up tea shop, an awning with earl grey and carrot cake, Sunday afternoons.

Before we moved here I dreamt of an allotment, now I realise what I dreamt of was an allotment that was cultivated by someone who knew what they were doing and with the determination and energy to carry it through to make it look like my grandad's plot and produce some prize winning beans....maybe next year.

I've been writing about learning an instrument and crafting. I think growing produce, particularly allotmenting is part of the same thing....doing something yourself, enjoying the process as much as the product, feeling creative whilst engaging something practical and useful.

All good stuff.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

must label posts

I am inclined to be a little slapdash, un petit laissez-faire, a tad chaotic.

There are several things that I never remember to do:
- label my blogposts (I'm not sure whether this constitutes a blogging sin?)
- shut cupboards once I have been rummaging in them
- iron sheets
- sign and return forms from school by the date they are requested (despite working in schools and knowing that this can cause all sorts of kerfufflication)
- clean out my car
- leave my keys in the same place when I return home
- name my photographs
- other peoples' birthdays, I used to be good at this
- count my rows when I'm knitting
- wash out the milk carton for recycling
- load the dishwasher properly

Thank you for listening....are there any things that you know you should do but you don't?

Monday, 21 September 2009

if music be the food of love....


We have a new addition to the family - E's alphasax....this contraption is an adapted saxaphone which, in theory, should last until she does Grade 3? I don't know what that means because although I love listening to music, my only experience of playing the music is practising 'mull of kintyre' over and over again in primary school.

As you can see it's very sparkly and gold and, I have to admit, rather lovely. E is proud of her new enterprise as she has committed her own funds to the project and likes her teacher very much.

I always think music is a lot like crafting:
- it's something that a person chooses to do, no-one makes you play the saxaphone, or crochet for that matter.
- it takes a bit of practice to get the basics right but once you do, you can choose what you do with them
- we all know that there are virtuosos/fine craftspeople out there but it's still OK to give it a go, to learn and to make that instrument or practice your own

I love the idea of children taking up activity because they want to rather than it being part of some great educational plan. I have to admit, also, that I don't really mind if they try and then decide that it's not really for them. I'm a great believer in trying everything once, just to see. Perhaps I'm being indulgent. I'm a great dabbler myself. I have lost count of the subjects and ideas that have grabbed me for a while and then have either become part of what I do or just gradually faded away.

I spent quite a long time in my twenties learning massage and reflexology, having the idea that I would practice. What I learnt was that I wanted to be on the receiving end of the massage and reflexology and that, in truth, I'm not quite as selfless as I thought I was. See...an unexpected outcome altogether!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

And the winner is...

Me! A bun can dance is going to send me some freebies as part of her letter writing giveaway. I never, nay never win anything when such things. I admit I've had a little success in the GS show but I don't have any luck, just perserverance and dogged determination.

I've also signed up for a letter writing challenge/project with ABCD (aaahhhh!) and am looking forward to getting to know my partnered blogger File under Misc.

I love the idea of reclaiming letter writing as it's something I simply don't do anymore. Postal strike notwithstanding, I am looking forward to exchanging paper and ink with someone far far away in Texas. I am sure we will find lots in common as, I suppose, Wiltshire could be considered the wild west of England. We're more hills and henges than big skies and plains but in these modern times, parts of Wiltshire are pretty remote. We drove through Texas on our travels all those moons ago. I think we visited Houston and I remember we saw a Georgia O'Keefe exhibition and a fuschia show in one of the parks there. I'll have to dig out my diary and see what else we did.

S organised a school/family ramble yesterday which was very enjoyable and beautifully warm and sunny. I caught up on the sleep I keep losing in my early morning rises (very boring, won't go into details) and then we had a night of 'strictly'. I'm not sure I can sustain interest in this year's strictly. I can't be alone in thinking that the celebrities taking part aren't that, well, celebrated. I've also come to the conclusion that there is something slightly melancholy about knowing that if I watch it all until Christmas, that's 12 Saturday nights, watching people wearing sparklier clothes than I am, dancing their socks off. Part of me would rather be doing the dancing.....

Thursday, 17 September 2009

we're connected

Simpsons, Nigel Slater, Masterchef.....happy days! G & I are also catching up with 'The Wire'. Sofa-heaven, made more so by some Green & Blacks and a nice cup of tea. Feather and fan is coming along nicely although I noticed an early error.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

take one hoop


My instructions for making a little piece of embroidered art appear here at Daisy Green magazine. Next month I'll be writing about making gifts for Christmas, helping new knitters and stitchers to plan their projects in good time before the festive season. I remember some Ravelryites discussing this year's Christmas gift list within days of 25th.

Last night's DVD was the windbreak episode of 'The Good Life' (again) and 'Ladies in Lavender'. Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in fabulous vintage, lots of knitting and a fabulous sewing box by the armchair.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

one small step...

I am as busy as the next woman. I know that. We all have things to do, places to go and people to see. This week I have a sense that I'm actually getting somewhere. Now, I do not want to tempt fate. I would hate to make a wholly positive statement about my current situation in the fear that I may have slipped up karmically and I will be smited (smote, smate?) by some minor wrathful entity. It's just that some things are moving along quite nicely:

- we're going to have a new neighbour, Granny has found somewhere great to live, nearby but as she says 'not on the doorstep'. There is much planning and thinking and ruminating about cupboards and storage and shower heads
- school work is just about gathering momentum and there are things to do that are starting to make a difference
- the writing is coming along in leaps and bounds in my head although not actually on paper (does this count as writing?)
- I have had garden help this week which always inspires me to do a little bit more for a little while
- J has added apple and blackberry crumble to his repertoire (note to self, get him to cook more often)
- the rayburn's been serviced which always gives me a sense of calm although it did switch itself on this morning which was a little surprising
- the aerial guy is coming to connect us to the TV again, it will be interesting to see if we veg in front of it. Our signal-less-ness has meant a run of random DVDs: The Shawshank Redemption which I've never actually seen all the way through but which conveniently arrived with this week's sunday papers; Madame Bovary (in French) which could have been much, much better. I've always thought of MB as one of my favourite books but she's such a brat. Is that harsh? I also got 'Marley and Me' from Blockbuster which, I'm afraid, divided the household into the 'aaahhhhs' and the 'why are they putting up with that ridiculous creature's habits'. I should have opted for 'Hotel for Dogs' which was the only other remotely appropriate film for our Saturday night viewing

So....will today be part of my week of general, quite goodness?

PS: On the knitting front. I rediscovered my Cherry Tree Hill laceweight which I bought at last year's iknit and have learnt how to do feather and fan. There will be photos. I also got some blue wool to make cornish-style felted bowls with some cream aranweight (also bought at iknit last year). Again, there will be photos. I have a little time at the weekend so am hoping for some sunshine to make everything look beautiful.

Friday, 11 September 2009

weekend trip

I am off to the iknit weekender today with my friend S. We are taking a woolly road trip, driving to Londinium and, hopefully, enjoying the sunshine as well as the infinite selection of yarn and notions and books and yarn and everything. I am going to look for a namaste knitting bag, as displayed here by The Little Knitting Company. I don't need any more wool or materials. One of my purchases from last year's iknit is sat beside me as I type. It is not a sock yet, it is a beautiful hand-dyed ball of sock wool...still.

Apart from the wool, there's a lot going on, family-wise, school work-wise and writing work-wise. I find myself waking earlier and earlier and try to do something towards one of those things before everyone gets up. I never ever thought I'd be the sort of person who gets up early to get ahead but it's happened and if I am around when the sun is coming up and I'm doing something productive, it really does make a difference to the rest of the day.

Anyway...I haven't packed for our woolly road trip yet so must finish this off and get going.

Have a fun weekend.

Q: When did you last buy some wool/yarn and what did you do with it?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

An anniversary of sorts

This is my 300th post. I haven't posted since last Wednesday, six days ago. I've been wondering what to write and how to sound momentous and celebratory. As projectforty is more about the day to day and the not quite so momentous, I've decided to post about what I've learnt since my first post:

About blogging:
- there are a lot of blogs with a lot of talented writing posted upon them
- there are many talented photographers out there in the interweb
- a lot of blogging photographers have two talents: online photography and offline (I presume)
- blogging gives a sense of infinite smallness: this blog is just one of gazillions
- at the same time blogging gives me a sense of completion: it makes me write and think about writing (dear readers, I'm so pleased you visit and delighted when you comment but I think I would continue if I were abandoned to solitary scribbling)
- other bloggers are invariably pleasant and charming
- if I want to write, I should really just sit at the laptop or with any one of my selection of notebooks and, well, just write
- technical nuances are not my strong point although I would love someone to tell me how to add lists of books to my blog
- my punctuation needs attention
- I really, really, really want to be the 'blog of note' one day

When I'm not blogging, I've learned:
- age + responsibility = anxiety, resolvable by sun, a horizontal position and nearby waves
- a good haircut is hard (but possible) to find
- I am now prepared to budget for pedicures
- I am not the world's most natural gardener
- I like to see pavements every few weeks
- I do not want to make chutney that no-one eats
- there are currently 25 courgettes to every member of the Wiltshire population (in Malmesbury)
- watching my kids grow up is very entertaining (if anxiety-provoking - see above)
- watching my kids grow up is a bit sad (we will never play on the floor with thomas the tank engine again until they have their own children, at which point I will sit with the paper and tut at the way they are indulging their little treasures!)
- a little bit of projecting and concentrating can go along way
- once I lose a bit of concentration, the reverse is true
- 2lbs on, 2lbs off: does anyone really care?
- medium-level sudoku is not that tricky

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

over and out....

Our TV has broken. We have no signal. The freeview box is telling us to check the aerial. As a committed tubaholic, this should be sending me into fits of doom and panic but, you know, it's really quite lovely. I never watch TV on holiday, even if I'm in a Travelodge in the UK. I just have a domestic TV habit that reaches back to the endless TV-binges of my childhood summer holidays.

I love telly. I love films. I love dramas. I have loved soaps. I don't like TV cops or detectives or talk shows.

I am, however, enjoying the evening silence and the possibility that I might just read, or relax, or have a bath, or sleep without feeling that I really need to know about some celebrity's ancestors or Levi Roots' obsession with scotch bonnet peppers. And, while I'm on the subject, why, if he knows he is about to cook jerk chicken are his fingers festooned with an assortment of bling? You never have to watch Delia or Nigella or Ainsley take their rings off before they do a bit of culinary wotnot.

So...no TV. The kids aren't keen. They like to watch reruns of The Simpsons and Doctor Who just before they get into their rapidly shrinking pyjamas. I am seeking the advice of friends and neighbours who will be able to recommend an aerial guy, or rather a guy who knows about aerials.

It was the first day back at school today. One lost book bag and an out of date bus pass were our immediate concerns. I thought I'd been very efficient sorting out uniform and shoes at the beginning of the holidays but, yet again, there is a gap in my organisational skills on the domestic front. They both went to school and came home again having emptied the contents of their lunchboxes and neither looked traumatised. So far, so good. Everyone is happy.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

a little something from the weekend


Of course, everyone knows that all you need is.....love, love, love is all you need.

I spent the time when not queuing to see Banksy's creations listening to Radio 2's Beatles weekend. I quite like the Beatles but G doesn't. I also like Simon & Garfunkel. G doesn't. I really like harmonies and tunes and I love the fact that those lyrics and songs are so ingrained in our culture that almost every body from the tiniest tot to the most aged of grannies will have heard at least one of them.

I listened to an interview with the guy who helped the Beatles make their sound and the craft that went into splicing tapes and moving chairs and recording snippets of sound to building layer upon layer of music was incredible. Of course, there was the modern keeper of Abbey Road there demonstrating how the magic of digital could do that in a blink of the eye but I think to sit with the machines and the instruments and build those sounds must have been a labour of true love and devotion and I think you can hear it.

I wish I could make music. I love music. I particularly love new music and aspire to being aware of current music until I slip off this mortal coil. I can't make music though. I learned to play the guitar as a child and it always sounded ridiculous when I played. I like to sing along these days, much to my family's collective horror. I'm very fond of 'Kings of Leon' and 'Kasabian' at the moment. I like to play 'sex on fire' very loudly whilst driving down the middle of country lanes.

I am proud to say I was told to turn my music down in a car park not so long ago. I was also wearing a parka. I know...I am prone to tragic episodes of clinging on to what I think is youthful. It was fun though. I seem to remember it was a particularly nasty hip hop track. Dreadful behaviour and I should know better but being told off made me feel like doing a handbrake turn in my punto (am not sure the seven bags of shopping would have made that possible, even if I knew how to execute such a thing).

I digress (again). The little piece of stitched love is something I've put together for an article. It took little more than half an hour to complete and was a most enjoyable way to pass the time whilst listening to music from yesteryear. I can feel a collection coming on.