Monday, July 31, 2006

Lake District, here we come...

D, myself, and the bean, are off on holiday for the week. A, as I think, well-deserved 5 day break in a nice hotel in the Lake District. Almost an entire week of pampering! Can't wait. ;-)

Keep well, and until next weekend!


Friday, July 28, 2006

An eventful evening, and One Yard Fabric Swap update

Last night was ... interesting.

After a rather uneventful day, which I spent mainly sweating and wilting in the humid heat and fretting over the non-event that was academic work or any kind of coherent thinking, our evening was one of a kind.

7pm: It all started with the rain. One minute it was hot and humid and the sky was blue, and the next minute it was so dark we had to switch on the light in the house. Then the skies opened. It rained like I have hardly seen it rain before. Our poor old house, it seems, couldn't cope too well, because all that water prooved a bit too much for the rain pipes and within minutes the conservatory/glass outhouse (very old) was flooded.

Then it became apparent that not only the house couldn't cope with the masses of water - neither could the gullies in the road. This meant that what had been a road only minutes before rapidly turned into a river which, joy oh joy, flowed right under our gates and into the back garden. There it spread, the water level steadily rising, until it started to flood the little cottage in which we have been using the kitchen and the bathroom.

By that point, D was trying to shift sand bags to the door of the cottage to stem the flow of the water somewhat, but the damage was done. The street, and half our back garden were flooded, and water was pouring into the kitchen of the cottage. The amazing thing was that the whole thing was over within 20 minutes. The rain eased up, and the water disappeared down the gullies in the road.

I have taken pictures, but since we are in the old house right now I can't upload them. Will post some on Monday, though!

Well, all that happened around 7.00pm. By 8pm we were finally on the road to drive down to the Midlands. Around 30 minutes into the journey, we had a call on D's mobile. It was MIL, sounding rather strange and spooked on the phone as she informed me: "I've had a little accident. I've just swallowed some diluted bleach..."


Needless to say, we turned back. She'd drunk the bleach by accident because it had been in a cup by the sink (don't ask me why it was in that cup in the first place - MIL uses bleach for everything, so she was probably soaking something in there) - had noticed that it tasted a bit 'funny' and had already rung the emergency line, so an ambulance was on the way to her. Arrived at MIL's around 10pm. The ambulance had just left and they thought the bleach must have been quite diluted and that she would be OK. We had a cup of tea with her and she professed that her mouth felt rather strange - kind of like it had been scrubbed clean... No kidding.

That's when we decided to drive down to the Midlands in the morning. It was getting rather late, we were tired and a bit drained after the whole Noah's arc episode and the bleach incident, and all I wanted was to go to bed. Which we did.

Now, roll on 3am, when I woke up with the worst cramp in my leg I have ever had in my life. Ouch!! Honestly, for a minute there I didn't know what to do with myself, it hurt that much. And I'm not usually that fussy. Because I wasn't all that coherent, D got really scared and by the time I had stopped groaning and twitching and had managed to pull my wits together enough to tell him that it was a cramp we were both wide awake.

Needless to say that I am less than wide awake now!


Anyway, that was yesterday and is hopefully not to be repeated anytime soon. Now for something entirely different - the One Yard Fabric Swap!

I have decided to go ahead. A few of you have voiced interest, and I have thought a little about how to publicise the swap further. Joni at Union Center Knits has already offered to post about the swap on her blog (thanks Joni!), and I think maybe that is the next thing to do. Would it be OK if all of you who were interested post about it in their blog at some point over the coming weeks? Again, no hurry - I am not thinking about setting this up tomorrow, but maybe we could aim for something like September or October...

Also, a few of you have asked me to clarify the rules of the swap, as I have it in mind, a little:

1) The idea is to send no less than 1 yard of continuous fabric, enough for a little sewing project, and, to make sure that nobody ends up with, as Alex put it, 'some nasty nylon' - cotton only!

2) Only send what you would also love to receive. So no palming off of unloved bits of fabric that you would otherwise stick in the bin! ;-)

3) Include other little presents - sweets, yarn, other crafty things, something you think the other person would like.

4) Suggested spending: around $25 (or around £15) max.

I am still contemplating using Swap-Bot for this, but in a way I would rather not, simply because it would be nice to keep it relatively confined and small... We'll see.

Preview of what's to come on this blog:
1) pictures of the flooding
2) spinning update with pictures
3) Sockapaloooza socks!! They are finally here!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Two Thoughts...

1) People from blogland keep on disappearing - or is it just that they have moved away to other blog sites? Do any of you know what happened to:

The Woolywarbler
Naive Knitting Blog

I always find it worrying when people disappear like that without leaving a trace. It's different from anyone taking a break from blogging (and I have certainly done the same once in a while) - in that case it's temporary and it's often announced on the actual blog, and most important of all, it doesn't make the whole blog disappear! It's disconcerting when that happens. It makes me realise that, no matter how close we feel to other people in this little community, we know very little of each other.

2) On an entirely more happy note - I have been sewing a bit again (nothing to show for yet, as they were all practice projects and little experiments) and it made me wonder if anyone would be interested in a One-Yard-Fabric-Swap? It could be a kind of secret pal swap, only with fabrics, which is not to say that other things can't be included. What do you think?

No hurry if you need to think about it, but if you are generally interested, leave a comment or send me an email at I may check out Swap-Bot to post it or I may keep it on this blog if any of you are interested...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Another weekend...

Our friends left this morning at 5.23 am (we had to get up at 4.30 am to bring them to the station - yikes!!) and it's quiet here again. The cats are napping close by, and the bean is restless, kicking and moving around so it looks like my belly has developed corners.

Maybe he picks up on my own restlessness. I want to do things, I want to decorate and clean and garden, but D, spooked by the early arrival of a neighour's first child, due to excessive decorating, which I mentioned in the last post, has begged me to sit down and do nothing. It's hard, in particular as this means that now would be the perfect time to do such unpleasant things like work on my next article, due in at the end of the month, or write some thank you cards for our wedding (which by now is almost a year ago and thus provides a rather clear picture of how organised D and I have been!). Sadly, both options sound very unappealing, especially when the bathroom is so close to being finished now. We have painted the walls and right now D is working on the skirting boards. When they are done he can install the bathroom suite and we will FINALLY HAVE A BATHTUB again! Nothing against showers, but I am missing my long lazy baths...

Being chained to a chair by my suddenly overanxious husband (not that I don't share his concerns - considering the state our home is in we can not afford this bean to arrive early!), I have been surfing craft blogs. Such a lot of lovely blogs out there, it's hard to decide which one's I liked best. I seem to be drawn to a number of things: interesting crafts projects (knitting, sewing, or otherwise), inspiring posts, nicely organised blogs which display correctly on the screen and beautiful photography, count among the most prominent features which seem to attract me. Here are a few little discoveries:

Bella Dia
Little Birds
Knitting Wench
A Bird in the Hand
Liquid Paper
Crafting Japanese
Cherry Tomato
While She Naps

Have a look if you have time - there isn't much that is as relaxing as a cup of tea and some inspiring blog reading! ;-)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Yesterday it was amazingly, suffocatingly, unbearably hot. I am, in general, not a person who minds hot weather. In fact, I relish summer and I'd rather be hot than cold, but yesterday was even too much for me. Apparently temperatures reached 36 degrees Centigrade, but it might as well have been 56. All day I was lusting after a nice cool Caipirinha. I even looked up the recipe, but for obvious reasons I decided not to give in to that particular craving. It would be delicious, though... Hmmm.

It didn't help that we spent a large part of at least the morning in the car, travelling from Yorkshire back to the Midlands. My friend B and her husband, who have been the most amazing guests, but more of that later, wanted to see our old house, and since yesterday they had also planned to travel to London for a few days of sightseeing, we thought we'd shorten their journey by bringing them to the station in the Midlands rather than in York or Doncaster.

Good thought, only such a misfortune we'd picked the probably hottest day of the year for that car journey!

Still, it was nice to be back in the Midlands, if only for one afternoon. I packed a few boxes, attempted to hoover the house, and realised that if I didn't sit down immediately I would most likely pass out. Maybe pregnancy makes me more susceptible to the heat?

In any case, B and C's departure for London went smoothly, just as the rest of their stay so far has been. They were amazing. Sure, they had announced that they would try to help a bit with our house renovation, but I sure did not expect them to clear half the garden AND paint the bathroom! We even had some more help at the weekend, in the shape of one of D's old university mates, who rang up on the Friday and announced that since his girlfriend was working at the weekend (they are both medics), he was planning on coming up to see us for a spot of gardening. Together the three men were an amazing team - a huge area of the garden is now cleared of brambles and they even managed to bring 4 trailer loads of the stuff to the local recycling centre!

This inspired me to do a bit of gardening myself - I try not to do too much, especially since one of our neighbours just had her baby 4 weeks early because she'd been decorating. With the house looking the way it does we can NOT afford an early appearance of the bean!!

Anyway, I added to the few plants which I had already planted in the neglected border next to the kitchen door:

It still looks chaotic, but I'm ridiculously pleased with myself, simply because it looks like someone is living in the house now. It's strange what a difference just a little bit of care makes to the look and feel of a place...

As a thank you to our friends, we took B and C to Bridlington on the Sunday night. I'd never been, and I'm not entirely sure it's my kind of place. It's too much like the stereotypical English seaside resort, with amusement arcades, fun fairs, and lots of beer-swilling, beer-gutted guys in shorts... Still, for a visit it was fun, and we had a lovely dinner of fish and chips and ice cream. Hmmmm!

On Monday poor D had to work again, so I took our friends to York for a day out. It was already rather suffocatingly hot, so we opted for a leisurely day of shopping rather than a big sightseeing tour. I only showed them the Minster, because even if you don't do any sightseeing I think it's a necessity to at least have a peak into this amazing old building, and then I took them along The Shambles, were we spent an enjoyable hour in the Earl Grey Tea Rooms.

I also managed to sneak into the yarn shop there - Sheepish - which I had looked up a while ago when we started thinking about moving here. It's the cutest little shop and the owner was lovely. Of course I couldn't resist buying something, so I treated myself to this:

I've been meaning to buy this for some time now, mainly because I want to make Butterfly, but there are quite a few patterns in there that I quite like.

And last, but certainly not less importantly because of it, look what arrived on Tuesday in the post:

It's a pair of the cutest little baby socks for the bean, plus a lovely postcard, all from the amazing Sherrill over at Baa Bonny Belle. Thank you Sherrill, the socks are beautiful!!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Actual knitting content!

It's been a glorious day today, and I've been quite busy, first cleaning (B, my best friend since school and her husband C are coming from Germany tonight, so I was hoping to make the house a bit more presentable) and then enjoying myself by sitting in the sunshine in the garden.

Mike the plasterer finished with the first floor and took himself off, so I was left with a house that looked a great deal like I had been involved in some mud wrestling the day before - dried and caked plaster everywhere. To make things worse, for some reason the electricity cut out in the morning (perhaps all the water that Mike had been sloshing around the sockets?!), and the trip switch refuses to listen to reason and always flips back to 'OFF', so I wasn't able to vaccuum-clean anything. I used a broom, wearing an enormous dust mask that made me look scarily like the 'Empty Child' from Dr Who, only without the goggles.

Managed to get rid of some of the dust, but as it got increasingly difficult to see with all the really fine dust being stirred up by the broom, I finally gave up and turned my attention to our disgusting inside/outside downstairs toilet (it's in a kind of conservatory/outhouse thingy so I can't make up my mind if it is in the house or not), which right now is the only one in the house. Spent a good hour cleaning, including the removal of the most colourful selection of assorted fungie and mildew that I had ever seen in my life (I actually took pictures, it looked that grotesque - not that I would dare show them to anyone), which I discovered hiding underneath the wallpaper in an alcove with a little window. The room doesn't really look any different now (although the absence of obvious mildew IS an improvement), but at least I KNOW it's clean...

After that, I was exhausted, so I sat down in the garden with a cool drink, some water melon, and my knitting. YES, I have indeed been knitting! And I even have a picture, so this blog can return somewhat to it's original purpose:

These are the beginnings of a log-cabin blanket - for the bean, obviously. It's surprisingly fun to knit this, despite the fact that it's all in garter stitch. The constant changes in colour keep it interesting.

Also, as if to make sure that this day was going to start off in the right way, this morning two (!) packages were delivered. The first one was some beautiful Alexander Henry fabric that I ordered a while back from the US:

I love the retro look and the vibrant colours. I have several yards of each, so I see a skirt and a Nappy Bag in the future, but I may still change my mind.

The second parcel was from Hello Yarn and contained some fibre which I treated myself to for the submission of my thesis (any old excuse to buy fibre...):

It's a delicious blend of 80% Merino and 20% Tussah Silk in a mix of colours including orange, purple, brown and grey, and I can't wait to get my wheel up here to start spinning it!

So there you go - actual crafts content in this blog! Who would have thought it?! ;-) And now my poor computer batteries are almost empty (still no electricity in the house), so I'd better post this quickly and return to the garden for some more knitting and sitting in the sun...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Summertime, and the living's easy...

Unbelievable, how time flies. I thought it was barely a week since my last blog entry, and instead it's much closer to 2 weeks! Well, we have been busy...

The last week and a bit have been occupied with varnishing bathroom floors, getting rid of the stubborn dust which seems to be in limitless supply in this house (is it breeding somewhere? It seems to only explanation), small attempts at gardening, and generally settling in.

There isn't much furniture in the house yet. We have our camp beds and I have a small desk in the makeshift bedroom, which doubles up as my office. D's office is finished. We have a TV and a few mismatched chairs on the dusty (!) concrete floor in the unpainted room which will one day be our lounge. D has managed to free two shash windows, which means that at least we have some fresh air. We have a little bathroom and a makeshift kitchen in the unfinished old cottage next door, we have a washing machine (we brought it this Saturday from our old home - it really shouldn't be as exciting as it is!), and we have 9 fruit trees laden with apples, pears, plums, and cherries. I have bought a tomato plant and MIL has given me two pots with French beans, which desperately need to be planted. I have a sweet-smelling jasmin which I want to plant in the corner of the garden closest to the kitchen window. There are some knitting supplies and now there is the internet and a phoneline - a connection to the outside world.

Life is good. Simple and stripped down to the essentials. It's an adventure. So far I love it.