When the novelty wears off..

Following on from my previous post I can happily say that I am no longer smitten with snow.  I know, I know – that didn’t take long, but really, seriously, what a pain in the arse these weather conditions are.

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The frozen Warren by the frozen River Wye

Walking the dogs has turned into a mission.  Just getting out the door through three-foot of snow and down the driveway has become perilous.  Mr T has slipped and fallen twice already.  He is ok but I am mortified that on both occasions when he told me about it, I laughed so hard and so long I thought I was going to have a heart attack – I just couldn’t help myself.  Fortunately my hilarity was infectious and he started laughing as well.  I am not helped by a hormonal trough which has me exhausted and tearful for no obvious reason.  Tiredness makes me laugh inappropriately – go figure..

I found several tiny, feathered corpses on our walk down the river this morning, the birds are having a hard time of it, despite everyone putting out extra food for them.  I felt very sorry for the pair of resident swans as the river has frozen over in some places.

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Mr T only just made it home on Thursday evening the weather conditions were so bad, and thankfully his work was cancelled yesterday and today.  We have checked on our elderly neighbours and everyone is ok.  The only casualty has been a neighbour who we rarely see and who we had been told did not take well to visitors.  Yesterday morning, Pearl, our oldest neighbour, had sent her son over to check he was alright and when he didn’t respond to knocking, Pearl rang the police.  Shortly after a police officer,  a community support officer and a national parks officer arrived and eventually managed to talk the man into receiving some help.  It took them over an hour to get him to leave his house and go with them, and we were all very pleased that he was going to be looked after.  It’s difficult trying to care for people who don’t want help but those men took the time and we were so impressed with them – and particularly impressed with Pearl..

In the meantime I am distracting myself from how bad it is going to be when the snow starts melting and all the paths ice, by obsessing over Gee’s Bend quilts and binge watching Brooklyn 99.

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Denim, corduroy, synthetic blend (britches legs with pockets)
108 x 77 inches, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

This is the Contour Shawl by Joanne Scrace (available on Ravelry) that I am working on using Koigu Painter’s Palette yarn.  It is a simple pattern but my hormonally buggered brain is making the crocheting of it a slow process, I seem to be constantly frogging and restitching.  So I am giving it a rest.

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I will stop now, I am impressed that I have got this far..  We are warm and dry and not lacking in anything except sunshine – and that will come.  We are grateful..

Go well all..

 

 

Novelty snow..

Where I grew up in the North Island of New Zealand, snow was a real novelty.  I remember as a small child being taken up the mountains to see the sparse snow that had fallen but it was many years before I saw snow actually falling and then I was smitten.  It’s easy to be smitten with snow when you have warm clothes and a warm house to snuggle in of course.

This week we have had snow for the last several days on and off.  In fact for the last two days my late afternoon compulsory walk with the dogs has been enlivened by the weather.  Both days we have left the house in bright sunshine with the odd flick of the white stuff and both days we have been hit by mad, blizzard conditions before we were half way down the road, turning myself and the dogs into ambulatory snow creatures. Today the weather is properly cold, it’s been snowing constantly all morning and on our walk this morning I noticed that there was coagulating ice floating down the river.

You would think then that there would be few people about for the usual Thursday market day but surprisingly there has been a steady stream of customers at the few market stalls that did brave the conditions and I bought the last three remaining, locally baked, gorgeous hot cross buns at the Londis.  I also stopped at both bakery stalls buying Portuguese custard tarts from Kate the Bread  (which, by the way, you take one bite of and have a moment of utter bliss as your brain realises just how truly delicious they are) and a massive Chelsea bun from Sue bravely womanning the stall at Gooch’s.  I am eating to stay warm of course, not because of my massive greed 😉

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Something odd happens to people when it snows – they suddenly become a lot more friendly, not that Hay people are not normally a friendly lot but snow means that everyone talks to everyone, whether you know them or not.  I have found myself on several occasions standing in a snowstorm having conversations for long enough to cause drifts to gather around our legs.  Also nationally it brings out the utter unselfish goodness in people who look out for their neighbours, help people trapped in cars and aid those in need.

So, how am I spending this snow day?  Well I have chosen today to defrost the freezer because why wouldn’t you when you can just pop the frozen food outside the door to keep cold?

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I have taken the opportunity to slow cook a shoulder of pork using the Pulled Pork recipe from the Guardian so I will have that in the oven on low for the rest of the day.  There will be some crochet done this afternoon and maybe some stitching and listening to the radio before I have to drag myself and our furry friends out for a walk.

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Where I will be crocheting.. and dreaming of spring.

Mr T is driving a bus in the frozen wastes and I am hoping he is ok and furiously hoping that the weather will mean he can come home early and have a snow day tomorrow.

I am also furiously hoping that everyone stays warm and safe and that all the wild creatures find food and shelter over the next couple of days until sane spring weather returns.

Until then – let’s be careful out there..

full speed for home..

We have been having weather.  I really mean WEATHER..

It came in last night and we watched the rain radar on the Met Service website with fascination as two huge, multicoloured splodges of rain joined together and dumped on us.  In addition they bought along their friend the wind and we had gales that kept waking me up during the night, bashing against the bedroom windows.

Today I was meant to be getting together with two friends for a potluck lunch and lots of lovely chat but that was cancelled due to travel concerns, the wind was honestly so bad that I wouldn’t have liked driving in it either.  Toastie and Charlie talked me into going for a walk but we got quarter of the way around the park and both decided they had had enough and turned for home and I was happy to oblige, walking into the wind was difficult to say the least and my overactive imagination kept conjuring flying sheets of corrugated iron and crashing tree branches.  In addition I could see threatening rain cloud being blown across the mountains and we had only minutes before it reached us.  Don’t ask me why I wasn’t wearing a coat..really,

It was good to get back in the warm, dry and quiet.

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So the rest of the day was lovely.  I had gone mad yesterday and cleaned all the house, so apart from going outside and picking up the sodden washing of the ground, I did not feel the need to tidy anything, yay!  Instead I made date scones with the never fail Lemonade Scone recipe except I used ginger beer instead and had them for lunch.  I kept the fire going and read my book, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead (on my top ten best books of all time list) for the second time, and I dozed and worked on designing a new stitching project and just generally had a cozy day.

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So that’s me for now – where ever you are I hope you are happy and safe and out of the weather..

Celebrating the dark side..

It’s been a busy couple of days.

We had made the decision to celebrate an early Samhain as this year the 30th April (and Mr T’s birthday) falls on a Wednesday.  Mid-week is a difficult time to get people to come out and so we choose yesterday, Friday the 25th to do our thing.  Appropriately enough it was also ANZAC day here, the day of remembrance for all New Zealanders and Australians who have died serving in wars (and peace keeping forces) and a public holiday.

This meant that Mr T was home to help with the preparations thank heavens because I was feeling particularly tired and as he was suffering with a cold, the two of us made up about one person work wise.

It did turn out to be quite an effort in fact not the least because we had a few extra jobs thrown in like carving pumpkins and collecting firewood from various kind friends so that we could use the brazier.

Our last gathering at Mabon had been kind of small, with only about 6-8 people and although it was really lovely I thought I would try a bit harder this time and invite lots of people on the basis that most of them wouldn’t come.  But then of course most of them did come with the consequence that we almost didn’t have enough seats – but it was so lovely to see everyone.

The weather which we had watched anxiously over the previous days had promised rain and cold and indeed it did rain on and off yesterday to the extent that we decided if it hadn’t got better by 5pm we were going to give in and hold the party inside.

Then a small miracle, it stopped raining.. completely.  Not only that but we were treated to a absolutely stonking sunset with such lurid light it turned my t-shirt day-glow.  It became so warm that our brazier almost felt too hot.  The clouds cleared and the stars did their thing.

Many thanks to Sue for the photos

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Me doing my Samhain reading
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Pat – an unexpected but very welcome visitor all the way from Perth, W.A. Mr T – who by this stage had imbibed just enough to cheer him up, and Richard – who made our wonderful brazier out of an old gas cylinder.
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My lovely friend Yvonne.

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The boat being passed around to place a candle of remembrance in.
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The final part of our ritual, a toast – To the dying of the light, to the kindling of the light.

Thanks to everyone for coming and making it such a wonderful night.

Also, at some stage I am going to add another blog page so that you can read what is said at our rituals.  Coming soon..

 

It is raining and cold.  After two summers in a row it is still quite a novelty.  I am not complaining, I like it.  I have discovered I am not a fan of hot weather, high temperatures become a bit of an ordeal after a while.

Enough of the weather..

Tonight I am hosting Stitch and Bitch and shortly I will have to fettle my tiny house which should not take long, unless I get sidetracked, which is entirely possible.  In fact I think that is why I am writing this blog for the first time in six months or so.  Amazing what the threat of housework can do.

I have added to my housewifely tasks by scattering winter accessories around our living space.  This is because when I opened the wardrobe out in the shed (the house is too small to house all my crap) there was a distinct smell of mould from the shelved clothing within.  I extracted the most likely culprit, a plastic bag full of crocheted mitts, scarves etc and liberally strewed them around the living area to air.

Now I have to find a place inside to put them..

We have lived in this house before about eight years ago, but I don’t remember having this much trouble finding space for my stuff – obviously I have a lot more stuff.  Lucky we are moving then.  To somewhere bigger and a lot less ramshackle as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love this place, built about a hundred and thirty years ago which is old for a New Zealand house,  it’s cute, it has character, it’s very ramshackledness makes it weirdly comfortable.  It has that atmosphere of calm that old houses often have.

But I am over the smallness of it plus it badly needs maintenance (like repiling)  to keep it from sliding into dereliction, which we can’t afford.  Our landlady wants to sell it – always a good reason to move. So hopefully it will find a more financial owner to love it.

Go well lovely sheltering cottage..

The ramshackle house
The tumbledown cottage, painted years ago by ourselves and I still love it.

Same View -Different Day..

I’m not complaining mind..

Same as yesterday only a bit whiter!
Same as yesterday only a bit whiter!

Especially since this fresh fall of snow has meant the roads are blocked and Mr T will only have to do half of his shift and will be home early, Yay!

We had run out of our stash of fire wood but Mr T has sourced some cheap sacks of hard wood which should see us through the next couple of weeks – he is a good man.  He will have a curry later when he gets home to reward him.

All well here, snuggling down, sewing and telly watching and music listening and a little light crochet – bliss..

Hope all is light in your world.

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.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Rabbit..

Ostara – the Spring Equinox, didn’t so much as roar in on Hay this morning, as float in on fat winglets of snow.  Britain is having a very cold March with not much good news in the near future and all around me I can feel people grinning and bearing, grinning and bearing – I swear if we suddenly had one hot, sunny day the whole place would burst into song, mardi gras, fiesta!

But in the mean time we practise stiffening our frigid upper lips and wait..

And in the mean time I have no problem with eating my own body weight in chocolate to help usher the Spring in – isn’t that why we do it?  Nom, nom..

Please lady, don’t make us wait much longer ..

Oh and for you Southern Hemispherians, particularly those of you in my home country of New Zealand – I wish you a happy Autumn Equinox and a long, drought busting soak 🙂

[Artwork: "Spring Equinox" by Amanda Clark of Earth Angels Art, 2011]
[Artwork: “Spring Equinox” by Amanda Clark of Earth Angels Art, 2011]

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..

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