Keeping toastie..

It’s a bit like this today..

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Toastie is in her second favourite spot (the first one being in front of the fire) – the back of the sofa, behind which is the largest radiator and the front window – you’ve got to keep warm whilst watching out for intruders and of course, her arch enemies – the evil neighbourhood cats.

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To keep out the gloom I have made an enormous one of these –

Sprinkled with cinnamon
Sprinkled with cinnamon
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Latte Coffee in my favourite mug.

Then I plan the rest of my day, which unfortunately requires me to walk out in the Weather with my terriersaurus who will need airing.

I will be doing some more work on this..

A la Alabama Chanin long sleeved bolero.
A la Alabama Chanin long-sleeved bolero.

Finishing the Cretin Stitch edging, which I have finally got the hang of and am now really enjoying.  I had been going through that part of the learning curve where I did know how to do the stitch but it really didn’t make a lot of sense, now it’s clicked and plain sailing, whew.

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I am also finishing the second part of Stephen Fry’s autobiography which I have just loved to bits – his utter honesty about his inner demons is so touching and so brave, while his reminiscences of his career set in the media cultural landscape that I grew up in are fascinating, rude and hilarious.  Everyone from my hero Douglas Adams to Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie of course, Ben Elton, Paul McCartney and the Queen Mother – just a few in a cast of hundreds of famous people to write your life around.

Later tonight we shall be going to our friend Leslie’s birthday party – supposedly dressed as Pirates but unfortunately we will be very crap Pirates as nether of us has a costume.  Hopefully Leslie will forgive us and just be happy that we are venturing out to her place in the snowy night.

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reading, knitting, blogging and snowing..

Ok, so..

Sorry to anyone who tried to access my blog in the last couple of days and found it password protected.  I did have a little wobble and thought I might like to do away with this blog, but I have centered myself now and the normal programme of not posting much has been resumed.

All is well here at present, we are snowless once again, although there is always the possibility – winter is clenching and hanging on.

I am learning to knit an actual garment (as opposed to scarves), with shaping and everything and it is a &%&@%£$@£$$££^%$&^*&^*&*&$$££@£@£@£ bitch..  I screwed it up so badly last week that I have been unable to do anything with it, until last night’s Stitch and Bitch when my lovely friend Thursday sorted it out for me – I love Thursday.

I am overloaded with reading material having found several wonderful  authors recently  Hilary Mantel, Katherine Swift (many thanks to BoxofMisc you are a treasure) and Billy Letts, as well as a  new interest in Mass Observation diaries and the diary of our local hero/weirdo Victorian curate Francis Kilvert, whose writings I find alternately, beautiful, lyrical, horrifying, tragic and amusing and sometimes several of those at once.  Reading Kilvert also reminds me just how very, very lucky I am to be living here in this time.

In addition to books, I am reading other people’s blogs and have resolved to make a effort to leave a comment every time I do – even if it’s just  a smiley or a frowney or whatever – just to let them know that I have been there, heard them and tip my hat.  A sort of a small payment, if you will, for their efforts.

I would really appreciate it if you would do the same for me, I’d love to know that you have been by.

Some photos of our lovely snow days..

The lane in front of our house
The lane in front of our house

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Snowing
Snowing
Not too cold to chew a stick
Not too cold to chew a stick
See my snow dags?
See my snow dags?

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My new crocheted jumper
My new crocheted jumper
St Mary's, Cusop
St Mary’s, Cusop, hidden under all this freezing load are the first Snow Drops
The snow makes the graves more cheerful
The snow makes the graves more cheerful

of time and crochet and chelsea buns..

So – what I really want to do is to carry on crocheting, I have a new lacy triangle scarf pattern and have already made and sold one and now I need to make another to wear myself.  Blogging needs to be done however, as I am getting back into the old habit of putting it off far too long again.  I have a way to go to beat the late Douglas Adams when it come to procrastination, as apparently his book ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Fish’ was 12 years late.

As usual much is happening and nothing is happening.  What I mean is, my life is packed full of things to do but for the most part they are all pretty usual.  It is all heightened however because of the HRT I started taking about six weeks ago and which has given me my life back – this is not an exaggeration.  I no longer live in quiet desperation (sometimes not so quiet admittedly) and am still amazed that I can wake up every day and feel ‘normal’.    My 50th birthday is rushing at me like an over enthusiastic labrador and my daily dose of hormone is the bestest birthday present EVER.  HOORAH!! WITH NOBS ON!!

I am off to Rome with friends on the 21st September for 4 days and then the following weekend will be my birthday party and then a week at Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower Peninsular with Mr T and Toastie the Dog.  On my actual birthday we will be going out to dinner in Swansea with lovely friends Julian and Kath.  All absolutely fabulous  and wonderful.

I am looking forward to being fifty.  I am just so impressed and extremely thankful that I have made it this far – half a century!  There is no way I would go back to being young now without being able to take my old self with me.. Fancy having all the youth, stamina, beautiful skin, body – all that newness and all that time ahead of you.. and not being able to appreciate it.

A few photos..

One of the collars I have made to sell.
Lace Scarf I have just unexpectedly sold and now need to make another.
Happy crochet coasters – made from much maligned acrylic but launder like a dream.
Come to Hay-on-Wye on a Thursday market day for Alex Gooch’s utterly delectable bread (enormous Chelsea Bun pictured, alas it is no longer). Alex was rung on a weekend a while back and asked to make bread for the Queen who was visiting a nearby town on the Monday.. how cool is that!?

Gratuitous Toastie photo.

How I’m feeling and how I hope you are feeling too…

ahem..

So my friend Yvonne said to me on the phone a couple of months ago “Please update your blog” – I agreed and then proceeded to procrastinate with a vengeance…

It is far to scary to attempt to recount all that  I’ve been up to in the many months since I last posted so I am just going to start with the here and now..

Out my window as I am writing..

The view out my window is lovely and green – that is because we have had eleventy million litres of rain bucketing out of the sky all summer.  Believe me this is only a slight exaggeration.  Now normally I like rain – specially heavy rain, but I like it to be appropriately cool – rain and cold, they go together don’t they?  Instead we have had rain and hot – so sweaty hot that the obligatory walk with the dogs ends up with me as wet as they because it is far to warm to wear a coat.  I hate that.

The other small thing of note in the photo is the surprisingly lovely and incredibly long lived pom pom flowers which grew from our neglected leek plants.  Well worth growing just for the flowers.

The last thing I note from this photo is the card celebrating the 1st of August – Lammas, the first harvest festival. We have had so little sun it seems a bit of a swizz that we are already on our way back into the dark half of the year.  Ah well, at least I will get the cold as well as the rain that I am moaning about.

This morning I spoke to my Mum in New Zealand for about an hour.  She told me about her week – playing bowls, outings with friends, her renewed interest in Coronation St  (oh yuck) and I told her about the amazingly wonderful effects of HRT that I have finally twisted my GPs arm into prescribing.  I feel like a ‘normal’ person again, truly incredible and I wish so much that I could have started taking them years ago.

I did do some research before swallowing the first pill – and amongst it all I found this article from the New York Times really interesting if you are trying to make your mind up about it yourself.

The rest of my day has been filled with house work, walking the dogs (one Toastie and one visiting aged and quite lovably stupid Springer Spaniel named Alfred, whose elderly owners are both in hospital.

Alfie the Great

My other job of the day has been to revive my Etsy shop and start to list some of my new creations.  Not that I think that anyone will actually buy them but more that I have to justify continually making new ones and purchasing the yarn to make them.

Also – a couple of months ago I committed to go to Rome for four days the last week in September with some friends and the trip has worked out to be a lot more expensive than I expected. As Mr T did not want to come and I am spending vast amounts I need to show willing and at least try so sell some of my wares.

Here are the ones I listed today..  They are great fun to make – partly because I am not using any pattern so there are no rules and I get to use whatever yarn I want, including strips of tee shirt.

Also they look good on me so they will look good on anyone!

New ragged scarf

That is my day so far – I am off now to feed my furry friends and settle down for my currant fave True Blood and a little hooking.. Have a good one all..

The Grubby Wurzel..

On Friday we went to Hereford so I could rustle through the charity shops and Mr T could walk the Toast along the river bank. So far, so usual.. until that is Toastie discovered something buried in the mud at the side of the river..


She just knew that the Saxon Hoard was buried in there somewhere..

 

What a little darlin..

Oh well - better luck next time..

Happy Solstice Everybody!

Spirit of Yule by Ann Stokes

I don’t know about you all but I am very excited..   I positively love this time of year..the middle of winter, the longest night, lovely cold weather with lights and candles and booze and food and presents and holidays and, and, and, and… Breath…

That’s better..

It has been a lovely week of socialising and getting everything sorted food wise and present wise.  I finished work yesterday and do not go back for two weeks.  When I do I will be starting an extra day a week which is a real bonus. I will just about be paying our rent and that make things a bit less tight.

Last night we spent at our friends having a little Solstice eve get together, with the weather so mild we were able to sit outside around a fire.

It does not look like we have a chance of snow for Christmas but as we had a small taste of it last weekend I am not dissapointed.  Neither are the shop keepers as everyone is able to get out and about to buy provisions and treats without nasty icy paths to manoeuvre.

It was market day today in Hay and I tried to get there a bit earlier as I thought it might be busy, and I was right.  I couldn’t get the bread I wanted and Lucretia Wood-Cole who makes and sells wonderful cakes in aid of the Women’s Institute had nearly sold out.  But I did manage to get everything else, including the most luscious runny cheese that you can only get at this time of year.  It was lovely that they had fine weather for it and everyone was in very good spirits.  Toastie had a great time taking every chance she had to snuffle at people’s market bags which must have been emitting wonderful smells.  Particularly if they had visited the  stall that sells many types of fish, fowl or beast.

As an aside – we were accosted by a visiting lady in Hay the other day who wanted to know if Toastie was a Norfolk Terrier as she had one and Toastie looked exactly like her.  We said that as The Toastilator is a rescue dog we had no idea and then rushed home to Google Image it.  Sure enough- apart from having slightly longer legs Toastie has found her tribe!

On with the story..

We trundled ourselves home with our parcels and then I set out again to have lunch with my boss/friend Sandra, and two of our trustees – Betty (our Chairwoman) and Karl (vice Chairman).  I love these people and feel very lucky to be working with them. I have to say that I never thought I would feel that way about employers!  Karl (the first Quaker I have ever met) looked completely appropriate for the occasion as he is in his eighties and has a long white beard which he topped off today with a Santa hat.

Sandra did her usual of trying to confiscate the sugar lumps so that Karl cannot put fifty million of them in his hot orange drink while Karl (who does not have diabetes) did his usual of remonstrating with Sandra for taking the Lords name in vain.  I did my usual of surreptitiously nicking the sugar lumps so that Karl can have his fill, and Sandra did her bit again by telling me off 😉

We drunk stupendously good mulled wine and I chomped my way through a frittata which included bits of turkey, bacon, little sausages and brussels sprout – I know that sounds mad but it was nom.

We ate at Booth’s Books cafe, which if you are ever passing our way you must stop and visit.  Booth’s used to belong to the King of Hay, Richard Booth, and by the time I started coming to Hay  the bookshop was a bit of a mess- damp, cold and smelling of mould.  Now it has new owners who have transformed it into the most magnificent, light, airy, warm utterly inviting space.  Spread over three floors with loads of pozzies to sit and read, it is a place you can spend hours in.  They added the cafe and are also building a small cinema which should be finished in the new year.  The food in the cafe is tasty, interesting and the menu varied every week  – it also has the  bonus of  being relatively cheap.  And the chips with aioli, and the real hot chocolate are to die for..

If you think I sound like I am happy you would be right.. Certainly compared with December last year when I had lost my job and was still incredibly home sick.  I still struggle with depression and the terrible tiredness that comes with it but I am keeping my head well up and am helping myself with the simple things – seeing friends as much as possible, walking this beautiful countryside, sharing our home with a bonkers Terrier, reading good books, immersing myself in crochet and craft, and making myself go to work – of course I’m lucky to have a job that I like.

I am deeply grateful for all that I have.. Thankful for the hard bits of life that make me appreciate all the good. Thankful for all of you..

So – the winter solstice, celebrating the return of the light, new beginnings – new challenges.  Hope you are all ok out there.

Have a Toastie time!
Have a good one - from Mr T and Miss T

slightly bleeding squashiness..

Hey there..

I love red grapes don’t you?  Nom, nom..

Lovely to munch on after dinner if you feel like pud and have none in the house and are too damned lazy to do anything more energetic than swipe the grape bowl of the counter and squash back up on the sofa again with the dog.  Soooo..

How are you all out there then?  Hope you are all well and goodly.

Probably due to hypothyroidism I have been wrestling with the black slug again but think I am coming out victorious.  This time I had the help of a small dog in fighting the good fight.  She keeps me company, makes me walk the countryside with her and generally cheers me with her sheer cuteness and mild bonkersness i.e. the Assault of the Cherry where after throwing a cherry around and batting it back and forward with paws she then proceeded to snarl and growl at it when it had the temerity to menace her as it sat on the floor in its slightly smeared, slightly bleeding squashiness.

The Hay Book Festival and the How the Light Gets In Festival of Philosophy and Music have both been and gone in the same crowded ten days.  Both seem to have done extremely well and I have heard that tickets for the book fest well exceeded last year.  We have a population of around 1500 here in Hay and they sold about 220,000 tickets for the book festival alone – needless to say our town was just a tad rammed.  The poor buggers who were camping (and there were a lot of them) had to put up with rain and cold the first weekend and by the Tuesday when I went to do my shift at the charity shop we had sold out of all blankets and coats and people were still coming in and asking for them.  It amazes me that some do not understand that summer weather in this country may be a little uncertain.

T and I had the great good fortune to see film director John Waters speak on the first Saturday night – he was very, very, very good.  Interesting, funny and wise.  One of the bonuses of the evening was that he was interviewed by his friend Helena Kennedy who is also a pretty damn wonderful woman, you can read about her here.  I admire both of them immensely for their outspoken stance against prejudice and injustice.

My other visit to the festival grounds was to see the marvellous and incredibly prolific Alexander McCall Smith, he of the No1 Ladies Detective fame.  Once again a visit and battle with the crowds worth making. Interviewed by Ann Robinson ‘Sandy” as she called him proved fully capable of taking a simple question and turning it into a circuitous and engrossing tale – great fun with an infectious laugh.

There was a wonderful energy to the town while the festivals were on but I have to say that it is lovely now everything is back to normal.

I’m off now – don’t want to rabbit on too much now i’m back in the blogging mood again, I’ll just leave you with this..

Like her new i.d. tag?