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Archive Entries for January 2007

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Tuesday January 30, 2007

And I counted them back in.

This last weekend was the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. I dutifully reported my garden birds (1-2pm Sunday - not the best time of day). I managed two types of "less-common" birds - 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, and 3 Moorhens. The latter scratch around the garden every day - and every day I fear for their safety, and yet they seem to carry on OK. However, there was such a racket in the garden last night (about 1am) that I was forced to go out to try and intercede.
It was not exactly clear what kind of animals were involved, although it was pretty clear that a large part of it was a fox (or foxes) and that said fox was certainly the cause of all the other noise. After I went out there was some pathetic flapping and cheeping, but no more barking. I saw nothing. I assumed the worst.
But - this morning - there they were again - all three, messing about scratching in my lawn. I would dearly love to ask them what on earth all that noise was about. Try and keep it down after midnight, guys.

Posted on January 30, 2007 at 8:49 AM. Category: The Garden.

Monday January 29, 2007

Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.

I have had a simply splendid weekend.

On Saturday we went to see George's sister, Karen, who had made a wonderful cold buffet lunch in honour of her Father's birthday (actually today) and my own birthday (yesterday).

George's Father returned to me an antique "swift" which he has lovingly repaired - it had a few missing struts and rivets. I was thus able to use it for the first time to wind the wool that Alison sent me for my birthday. Also in view is a spinning book and a personalised bag (from Alison) celebrating our websites; I plan to knit the toe-up socks from the book with the new wool, and keep the knitting in my new bag. Perfect.

The quilted place mat was made by George's Mother for me (also a gift). At Christmas, we gave her a sale bargain of "add on to Pandora's box" which is a series from Quilting from the Heartland. We then went to some lengths to get the original Pandora's Box booklet (seemingly out of print) from the web - I eventually tracked it down on the Amazon US "marketplace". This placemat is her first experiment with the patterns, and I think it's great. It is heat proof, for which she uses an ironing board lining material that she buys from Wilkinson's in the UK.

Yesterday, we had a great evening with Lyn (my sister) where we had a turkey dinner and Christmas pudding, as a sort of replacement Christmas, given that my sister was in Australia in December. We also exchanged presents. She gave me a wonderfully elegant white ceramic container for olive oil, as well as a summer top in a wonderful shade of green, along with a matching necklace.

Posted on January 29, 2007 at 11:15 PM. Category: Red Letter Days.

Wednesday January 24, 2007

Feet and fingers glowing.

It snowed.
It always seems such a surprise - like you don't really listen to the weather reports. Anyway, it cheered up the ticket office clerk at the station no end. It also had the effect of delaying trains into London, made worse on the way, with minor scuffles breaking out as commuters tried to squeeze onto the already crammed 2 coaches. This made for a disquieting journey before finally meeting up with an American colleague outside Holborn tube station. [We had never met before and he had no mobile (cell) phone - how much we (I) have grown to rely on these...].
Now the business meetings are over, and I have returned home to the snowy wastes (it has all melted, making my 2 pairs of socks seem like overkill) and I am utterly worn out, so time for hot cocoa and an early night.


Posted on January 24, 2007 at 9:04 PM. Category: The Garden.

Saturday January 20, 2007

Go home and weave a net.

Third Saturday in the month, and I was off to Headley Village Hall for the Creative Fibre group meeting. I did wonder if I would be able to get through as the road to Headley is over Box Hill. We had terrible frightening gales on Thursday and there were a lot of trees on the roads. We lost a small tree (which fell onto the road) and our neighbour's gate was blown down.


Yesterday was much calmer, but when Robert tried to take the train to meet me for a curry, he found that due to a tree on the line at Tattenham Corner there was only a bus service from Purley; rather than have him do that, I drove over to Coulsdon to meet him (different railway line).

Bettys_socks.jpg As it was I had no trouble, but there were many gale stories from the members; Jean,who lives on Box Hill, was unable to drive to her house on Thursday on the roads - the police got a local farmer to open up one of the tracks across his land - and currently she has no electricity. Other than the gossip ["great wool shops I have known" etc] I worked peacefully on my crocheted skirt (stop laughing - everyone else thought it was nice - they are going to call me "that woman with the crocheted skirt").

Betty (on the right) was knitting a pair of socks - no heel - just a patterned tube - thickish wool - but - here's the best bit -
she had spun the wool herself using a drop spindle.

I spent some time picking the brains of a weaver (and I have forgotten her name - damn...). She had woven a fabulous scarf and it was so inspirational I feel I must have a go... All these women talking about what they do in the way of cooking, growing their own vegetables, growing dye plants and dying their own wools - even if you allow for the fact that many of them are retired, it's still pretty impressive, (Eve had some fantastic examples - I really must have a go at that too.... I wish I had taken pictures of her wools).



Posted on January 20, 2007 at 5:27 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Saturday January 6, 2007

Freedom and Plastic People

Robert and I went to see Rock 'n' Roll at the Duke of York - it's the latest Tom Stoppard play which is partly set in Prague, between the Soviet invasion of 1968 and the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Some people said "at last he's written about Czechoslovakia" as though no-one realises he was born there - but I was so aware of his roots over the years that I was a bit surprised to learn he left when he was a baby. I also remember a play many years ago called "Professional Foul" which I really enjoyed a lot - but it may have been about an unnamed Iron Curtain country, rather than citing Czechoslovakia.

rocknroll.jpg It's a very elegant and wordy play, and described, by one reviewer, as "a brilliant exploration of liberty, rebellion and identity that captures the spirit of the Sixties, from the Prague underground to the fragile genius of Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett". I felt a bit lukewarm about it - it started life last June and I think may have been better with the original cast. Several reviewers said it was bold and innovative, raw and full of passion, seemingly written by a much younger man; this explains to me that I felt it was a little unformed - like a young man's play... However, even though I am not very imaginative, I can see that it's a very personal play, and it explores what life might have been like for Stoppard if he had returned to Prague in 1948, as his hero does in the play.

Everybody asks me "Did you enjoy it?" (you can see their brains ticking as they register that they do not know of the play), and I had no instantly prepared answer. However "Yes" I did enjoy it, and found it quite moving - probably the nostalgia over the music. The most musically moving scene for me was when our hero is living in Prague, and he finds the police have destroyed his entire record collection which he had managed to hang on to, despite everything else falling apart around him; all, that is, bar one that his friend had borrowed. It's a Beachboys album, ("I knew you wouldn't mind"), which of course they then play. Even before it hits the turntable I just knew what it was going to be. Up to then we had heard lots of Pink Floyd, Dylan etc. Now, after all the deprivation and persecutions, petty and otherwise, we hear "...and wouldn't it be nice to live together In the kind of world where we belong...."

The play also introduces us to the band "Plastic People of the Universe" who unwillingly became a symbol of the political struggle, while they were rather anarchists; they complained "no-one ever talks about our music!".

After all this intellectual stimulation we were quite hungry, so we went on to eat at Sofra in Tavistock Street. It's Turkish food, and really excellent. Even more amazingly, they charged us only for the lunch time special menu; I can only presume we must have been seated rather too early for qualify for the higher priced dinner.

Posted on January 6, 2007 at 11:55 PM. Category: Days Out.

Monday January 1, 2007

Parcours Santé

How better to start the new year than fresh air and exercise? We found an Arboretum in the Forest of St Sever, at La Vierge à la Vilaine ["the Virgin with the naughty one"? - it might make sense except Vilaine is feminine - so - she's a bad girl or what?].


But then we found the perfect entertainment to maintain our healthy bodies. [Click on the thumbnails to open the album].

Do not try this at home (so much for the healthy exercise): George severely strained a muscle on the parallel bars (luckily too high for me try it), and although I could hang from the monkey bars, I could not actually move my hands from one bar to another....!

Posted on January 1, 2007 at 8:42 PM. Category: France.