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Archive Entries for November 2007

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Friday November 30, 2007

Books in November

  • The Ten Word Game Jonathan Gash
    This is a Lovejoy novel, the main character probably known better to us from his portrayal by Ian McShane in the eponymous TV series. In this story, Lovejoy comes across as a little more in control than in the previous (and only other) Lovejoy novel I read. The joy of this book, however, is not so much in the story, but in the fascinating information and trivia that Lovejoy shares with us along the way - this is presumably an outlet for Gash's own knowledge of interesting historical and antique-trade gossip.
    The title refers to an amusing game where you attempt to condense any description (event, person) into 10 words - try it with Hamlet - or Pride and Prejudice....
  • Living on a Prayer Sheila Quigley
    Third in the Grannylit series of thrillers set on the (fictitious) Seahillls Estate. This time a group of kids become involved with a sinister religious cult, and our DI heroine moves slightly closer to a life of bliss with her second in command.
  • Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wickhadden and the Fairies of Fryham M C Beaton
    Picked up these Agatha Raisin titles in the library, despite their being slightly out of my chronological reading sequence. I had hoped Alison and I might read them during my holiday - but we were too busy with joint knitting to do any joint reading. So they ended up as the perfect light reading on the flight home. I have reserved the missing title [Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham] for next month's literary delights.

Posted on November 30, 2007 at 12:01 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Wednesday November 28, 2007

Cunning foxes and broken pots

At the weekend, I made the Christmas puddings - one for me, one for my sister; maybe a bit early but next weekend is the cake... As part of this annual exercise, as usual, I went through all my dry goods and evicted all the out of date items especially those "Best before 2001" (OK so maybe I don't do it annually). I found two packets of desiccated coconut and rather than throw them out I thought "little birds like coconut" so I put little piles outside the house - for little birds or little squirrels. In the early evening, there was a terrible clatter from outside - and I went out to find one of my flower pots in pieces, and earth everywhere. It seemed very strange that it would spontaneously explode, and I had my suspicions....
10 minutes or so later, I cautiously peeped out of the window from behind the curtain and as I suspected there was a jolly fine looking fox chomping away at the coconut. In his initial enthusiasm he had knocked everything over in order to get at the tasty snack. Not what I had planned but glad some wildlife got to eat it (wildlife that was not, for example, rats, which is always a consideration when you leave food around your house!).

I've been putting off releasing this entry as I had hoped to get some pictures, but the garden mayhem was cleared up before I managed to get my camera out....!

Last night I attended the farewell "do" for my customer Sheelagh in Oxford, as she is leaving it all behind and becoming a lady of leisure. So she has now transitioned to be "my friend Sheelagh", which I guess will be the least of the transitions she has to worry about. The evening was very pleasant, and I drove home in the early hours (in my new mini) but was stunned to find the M25 London orbital road utterly stuffed with a traffic jam which delayed me by 35 minutes - I would have thought it very bad luck to have hit something like that during the day never mind at 1 in the morning. (Turns out they do roadworks at night when the road is full of lorries).

Other than that, I seem to be having continuing issues with technical "stuff" breaking. My phone broke, and I had the BT engineer out to my house fixing it (pretty quickly I might say, though it was their fault, as they disconnected me while doing some other work in our road). My brand new car of 2 weeks reported an engine failure, which the local dealer was able to look into, and hopefully has resolved. Two weeks ago, my computer notebook broke, so I have been working on a temporary machine, and I find the new one they had delivered for me is also broken (!).
I am hoping this is the end of the trend of broken things.

Posted on November 28, 2007 at 10:24 AM. Category: Oddments and stray thoughts.

Friday November 16, 2007


A lovely eBay-purchased book popped through my letterbox this morning. It is "Cornish Guernseys and Knit-frocks" by Mary Wright, and pleasingly it matches the format and style of the other two books I have about regional guernseys or ganseys. Not that this is part of any master plan to knit several hundred more guernseys - they involve a lot of stamina and dedicated knitting and I have yet to finish my first choice. However all three of these books contain so much more information than just the patterns - in fact although there are patterns, it is more a documentation (before it's too late I would say, since our fishing industry has more or less gone) of regional stitch variations previously communicated only by word of mouth.

Knit-frocks.jpg This picture on the cover has a great deal of interest all by itself - you could write a novel just based on it. Unfortunately it's not clear in this small scale but: the woman is knitting outdoors - she has the knitting pinned to her to support the weight - Alison and I can both attest to the impossible weight of a guernsey as you progress knitting all-in-one. You can see that, (take it from me if you can't make it out), charmingly she has her ball of wool stuck on one of the spikes of the iron fencing, as she works. She seems to me to be pretty well-dressed - maybe it's to catch the eye of what seems to be an admirer that you can see lounging ultra-casually in the background of the shot - hands behind his head...


My Web of Wool Austermann Step wool arrived also - "mit aloe und jojoba"- can't wait to start the socks - although the wool I am currently knitting is lovely and soft too! These are colours 6, Lark, and 14, Pebble.

Posted on November 16, 2007 at 12:01 PM. Category: Knitting.

Monday November 12, 2007

A real shower

Today we finally took delivery of a consignment from the US containing some mystery auction items that George purchased from an estate sale. George knew they original owner of the items and he was a true collector of lovely stuff, so the lots included quite a few interesting things (some of which we can't identify) as well as the eye baths which are George's real interest.


The sad thing is that quite a few items arrived broken - not so many of the eye baths but some of the larger items. This was no doubt due to the bizarre packing by the auction house - glass items wrapped in tissue, while metal items deserved bubble-wrap - as well as the fact that the delivery company had at least 4 delivery attempts, (four times on and off a lorry), where their modus operandi seems to be to driving up and down our road a couple of times, failing to see our entrance, going back to the depot, and not informing us of any problem.

The auction house do not seem to have covered themselves in glory over this sale. As I said, this was a large estate sale including lots of real rare and valuable items, which is why they were called in. They seem to have been overwhelmed by the quantity of objects, unable to properly assess them, and sold them off in bundles of lots without proper description, photos, or estimated sale values. George did get a number of pre-sale photos and the single eye bath for which he bought one entire lot (of 100 or so) was not actually found among the items. They clearly do not realise that the recipient is not going to overlook the odd eye bath just because they chose to sell the items in vast lots. Funny how the rarest one has gone missing eh?

The other sad thing is that the picture above is not all of the items... and our hall is still full of boxes.

Posted on November 12, 2007 at 6:38 PM. Category: Oddments and stray thoughts.

Friday November 9, 2007

Cleanliness is next to....

Maybe not.
bathroom.jpg Anyway, we now have a new bathroom. There are still a lot of details left for us to finish, but I hope I will be motivated long enough to stop knitting and do some DIY. I was somewhat unimpressed along the way as the tiler arrived and promptly told me he did not know about any border (my only decorative requirement) and that he was not prepared to sacrifice his artistic integrity and work with the mosaic tiles I had bought as they were not already laid on a backing in the pattern I wanted and would "look awful". The project manager came and helpfully repeated what the tiler had said (in case I had some learning difficulty obviously) - helpfully adding that he had "no idea" that I had bough these mosaics but thought I had bought border tiles. If that were indeed true, all I would say is that it's a pity he did not check the materials and brief the tiler somewhat before the day the guy turned up to work....

I then spent a challenging evening carefully peeling every alternate tile off the sheets of mosaics I had bought and then resticking alternate coloured tiles back into place with a two-part epoxy. As I had a cold and could not smell anything, I realised about half way through (ceaselessly coughing) that I was probably as high as a kite, so had to open all the windows, and try and concentrate very hard on keeping everything exactly square.

I am pleased to say, the following day, the tiler completely accepted the mysterious appearance of chequered tiles on sheets as required, and set about sticking them on the wall without further protest.
Note the delightful recessed tile soap dish that the project manager also assured me was unobtainable.

Posted on November 9, 2007 at 12:54 PM. Category: Oddments and stray thoughts.

Tuesday November 6, 2007


Thneed.jpg I'm being quite useful. This thing is a Thneed.
A Thneed's a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!
It's a shirt. It's a sock. It's a glove. It's a hat.
But it has OTHER uses. Yes, far beyond that.
You can use it for carpets. For pillows! For sheets!
Or curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats!"
    [from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss].

I just read an article from the Observer's September magazine, and I'm feeling a bit insecure now.
Apparently this is the latest fashion article. They explained it was from a Dr Seuss story - which I would have thought in itself would make everyone think twice. I am struggling to find a picture on-line - even the accompanying one in the Observer - are they just making fun of me ? Anyway, it looks like a knitted burkha - or maybe a woollen Darlek interpretation ... [I like the original illustration better].

Even sadder than my being so out of it now that I can't even see the appeal of a quirky fashion, is the fact that the very story of the Lorax is a parable about greed, consumerism, and pollution. The point of the Thneed is that it is not needed at all.

[George simply thinks I should knit one - it sounds just perfect, what with being a sock and a glove and all....]

Posted on November 6, 2007 at 12:49 AM. Category: Knitting.

Sunday November 4, 2007

Cons or scakes?

Feeling like I need coddling (yes - still feeling like that!) so on a whim I made some rock buns. This is my award winning [1st prize, Lancing Arts and Crafts exhibition circa 1968] rock bun recipe taken from the Radiation Cookery Book designed for use with the "New World" Regulo-Controlled Gas Cooker. And you thought it was only retro knitwear that interested me......


They are a little overly brown - but I blame the fan oven being slightly hotter than the recipe expected. These Radiation cook books (presumably free with the cooker) turn up fairly frequently in Jumble and Boot Sales, mine being the original from my Mother - we had the matching cooker. My advice is - lower the oven temperature slightly. We ate them with butter - as they were a bit dry, and as I said to George: rock buns are a bit like a mixture between a cake and a scone - hence, Cons.

Finally set my mind to finishing the sewing up on George's birthday jumper. Here he models it, protesting at the use of flash photography, as well as demanding anonymity on the blog....


After this I had clearly run out of knitting..... so I cast on some socks for a Christmas present requested by my sister for her husband. I decided to use some sock wool bought at Full Thread Ahead.

Read on for the Award-winning rock bun recipe:

Rock Buns


  • ½ lb flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ oz butter
  • 1½ oz lard
  • 3 oz brown sugar
  • 3 oz currants
  • 1 egg
  • A little milk
  • A little grated nutmeg
  • Candied peel


  • Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder, and rub in the butter and lard.
  • Add the sugar, currants, and nutmeg.
  • Beat the egg with a little milk, and mix the whole into a stiff paste.
  • Arrange on greased baking sheet in rough heaps, (makes 10), and on top of each place a small piece of candied peel.
  • Bake for 20 minutes with the "Regulo" at mark 6.

Posted on November 4, 2007 at 4:24 PM. Category: Kitchen and food.