Friday, March 31, 2006


There is a surprising amount to notice even in a forty eight hour trip, even if an awful lot of it is spent travelling. Not all of the latter is good, of course......

I hadn't flown on an Airbus before. They are noticeably quieter. We had plenty of leg room, but were really squashed widthways. But because the plane was unfamiliar, I was sitting there quite calmly at touch down thinking - gosh, this plane handles differently from any other I have ever been on, the pilot has to lift the nose a bit when landing....when the DSM informs me that the pilot has aborted landing at 100 metres.

Oh bugger. Still, we made it safely the second time.

Antalya airport to Side is not what you might call picturesque, but it is interesting. Acres of citrus groves, not a common sight around Yorkshire, so that was nice. Very pretty goats. Mountains in the distance, looking intriguing. Houses and small communities....apparently, if you build a house in Turkey, you don't pay taxes until the roof is completed. Guerss what? Lots of unfinished houses, and who can blame people. But also, lots of solar panels on top of the buildings, how sensible.

I did see some nice carpets, hung over balconies to air and get the dust out during the day. I also think that I saw a whole load of yarn hanging up under a balcony, but we flashed by too quickly for me to be sure.

The hotel was modern and totally westernised. Shame. But there were a lot of palm trees around.

palm bark

The stands that supported the awnings on the beach were an interesting shape that reminded me of eyes.



The eye was an is still important in Mediterranean and other cultures. The airport gift shops were full of objects decorated with blue eyes, and we were all given a similar large glass pendant with an eye, which is actually quite cool and I will make a beaded necklace for it somewhere down the line.

During the eclipse period, we had neighbours on the beach. To one side, we had a nice young German family, two smashing kids. But the little girl fell asleep, and her mother, who had been abandoned by her husband who went to join his techie friends, did not wake her up for totality. I just felt that was so sad. She was old enough to have kept a lot of the experience as a precious memory.

To our other side, we had an English pair, a youngish man and his elderly mum. He was so sweet to her. He wouldn't go and join his techie friends because they were in the full sun and he said that would be to strong for her ( I am sure he was right). He did go and talk to them from time to time, but was back with his mum for all the important bits. He just treated her beautifully, they had a great time.
I couldn't resist taking a sneaky photograph.

Eclipse watching

There was a very pretty hotel cat, who seemed fascinated with water. I therefore decided that it must have some ancestry from the famous Turkish Van swimming cats.


The trip home had a few incidents, too. At airport check in, the passenger manifests supplied by the tour company were arranged in alphabetical order - of forename. Idiots. Check in took ages.

An unfortunate passenger across the aisle from where we were sitting was taken ill on take off, but recovered, I am so glad to say. Turned out to be a diabetic hypoglycemic attack. But scary.

We landed a bit late, and the captain promptly announced that a fire alarm had just gone off in the airport so we could not disembark. Another half hour sitting on the dam' plane.

And guess what? Worth every single glitch and hiccup - mere bagatelles!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

How do you find the words to describe magic and wonder?

Beach before

We took the short walk to this beach near Side in Turkey, and encamped ourselves under the solitary awning that had been put up on the waiting frames. It was late morning, and a glorious day - virtually clear blue skies, comfortably warm temperatures, moderated by a gentle breeze. I needed sunglasses against the unaccustomed brightness of the day.


We waited. Looking anxiously at the sky.

We all had the strange solar glasses - as you put them on, your own eyes looked back at you.


By first contact, a few more people had gathered here. We were, in the main, the "experiencers", not the informed, fanatical chasers. They collected together on small hills and inclines, surrounded by tripods, telescopes, ferocious looking cameras, computers. With first contact came the first collective small cries, the occasional gasp, then quiet talk again.

The day continued bright and warm.

But the first thing I noticed was the breeze strengthening. Then it started to feel noticeably chillier, and people began to wrap themselves in extra garments, towels, whatever came to hand. Soon it was quite cool in comparison with the earlier warmth.

I apologise for the quality of the next photograph - I haven't even stopped to crop it. But it does just about show what I wanted to show. Because gradually, I became aware that there was something wrong with my eyes. It is, actually, the most odd sensation - the brain is totally unfamiliar with what is happening, so can't translate it accurately. The sun, so it seems, is still blazing away in the midday sky, but the light is dimming - so, it must be your eyes. By this point, the eclipse was probably about 75-80% obscured, but this could only be discerned with the glasses on. To normal vision, all was as usual.


Things moved fast after that. The light levels fell dramatically, and suddenly, we were there. It is impossible for me to really describe what I felt - I suppose that describing what I saw is a little more possible. Heard, too. There is something about the phenomenon of a total eclipse that elicits an emotional, vocal response - people gasp, call out, even sob.

The experience is beautiful - I shall make no apology for my own emotional responses. The colours - it is not dark, and was in fact lighter than my next two images suggest. And there, high in the sky on this occasion, someone has cut a perfect, black, round disc out of the sky, around which flares a white and glorious ring of light - the corona. For the duration of totality, you can look with your naked, unprotected eye into the point where the sun should be.

At totality

At totality

I am amazed that my little digital camera managed to capture any images of this at all, so I am certainly not complaining. But these do not of course show what it was like with any accuracy. I am not sure that any camera could - the quality of light is so different from at any other time, with an unusual intensity as well as colour. The sky is a vibrant mid blue - because of an exceptionally bright corona, and a few wisps of cloud, only two planets were visible, Venus and Mercury, which the DSM with his SHR eyes was able to see but I was not. We looked mainly over the sea, and it is that horizon which blazed with the colours that show rather dimly here. The bright spots are where streetlights have come on automatically.

For that three and a half minutes, we gazed in awe, and I think that somewhere in the depths of our hearts wondered if indeed the sun would return. When it did - when the first brilliant flash of sunlight flared at the edge of the black disc - there was another gasp, a cheer, an almost palpable sense of relief, and an almost palpable sense of regret. It was, in essence over. The sun had returned, which was of course, good. But the magic had gone, and something had passed that we may never be fortunate enough to see again.

This website has an archived recording of the entire thing. Skip the extremely irritating animation, indeed most of the broadcast which is a bit verbose and - irritating. But at around the 55 minute point comes the actual eclipse, and there are good shots of the corona. There is a lot of noise from the assembled crowd, but you can hear what I have been talking about. The webcast was made from only a little way away from where we were - I think I was happier on our beach.

I am so glad we went. If I can see it again some time in the future, I will do so in a heartbeat. As the ancients will have done, I feel I experienced magic.

Monday, March 27, 2006

It's raining, it's pouring.......

I had to do a quick dash in to town this morning, and got pretty damn wet in the process. I did have the foresight no to take a brolly - the wind was so strong, they were popping inside out all over town. Instead, I chose to look eccentric in my Mendocino "stetson", which not only has a good wide brim, but a leather card to tighten under the chin to keep the hat on in blustery weather.

But...despite the gloom and the downpour, I was very aware that the accompanying milder temperature has given a spur to the plants. I had already caught sight of the first primroses from the bathroom window, but going outside, I also saw lots of daffodils, and the forsythia at the end of the lane is just about bursting buds. The tulips and daffs in the pots have a way to go yet, but - progress.

The clocks changed this weekend, and a combination of that and the mater nearly did me in yesterday. She did enjoy her trip out to the Thai restaurant - the young waiters are so sweet with her, infinitely patient and incredibly respectful. I'm afraid I can't manage it quite. I can't wave a magic wand and make her young again, the help I do offer is not what she wants to hear and she won't, and probably doesn't want to, try any of the things I suggest that might make the days a little less boring. It's a syndrome that affects people at all stages of life and is impossible to do anything about unless the other person wants to make changes, but it is sad - and very frustrating. We worry that her nutritional needs are not being properly met by her care home (which they have a statutory duty to do) because she doesn't eat red meat, only chicken and fish, and is a bit picky about some other things including a lot of veggies. But she won't let us talk to the manager, nor do so herself. Actually, she has always been like that - preferred to complain to all and sundry except the people who might be able to do something about whatever it is, so why am I surprised!

What a long moan - very boring. I'll shut up about it.

I sat and finished off the polwarth bag when we got home - after calling in at Cotton Traders on the way back, and buying myself a rather cool pair of pink boots! They are more on the walking boot scale rather than the Jaywalkers ones, so I will have to be quite careful what I work out to wear with them - I think I need a long, flared denim skirt. I might get the sewing machine out, although I am not at all happy with either of the ones I have at the moment (DMIL gave me her old Singer, which I had serviced, and it didn't improve matters.) I am going to buy myself a good new one when I get my pension money later this year. (Aaargh! I mentioned the "P" word!)

Concentrate, Carol. Polwarth bag - not as good as I would have liked, not as bad as I feared it was going to be. I do think silk outers work better. And I have decided I am going to try a crochet one, and probably a different shape, too. I don't quite know where this obsession with useless little bags comes from, but I see no signs of it stopping so I might as well go with the flow. Here it is in all its glory, anyway.

polwarth bag

I have just been brave and had a look at the weather forecast for Antalya - and it is giving sunny (and pretty warm) for Tuesday and Wednesday. Let's keep everything crossed, eh? And for photos, too. The DSM is taking the SLR, but not the tripod, he is going to use me instead. So think of me, spindle spinning, trying to stand as level and still as possible, with a camera balanced on my head. Or, better, don't, you'll spill your coffee.

Anyway, pics in a few days time, I hope.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Just for once.....

I rarely do quizzes, and certainly haven't posted a result before; but this one rather appealed. I like the idea of being a wolf!

What Is Your Animal Personality?

Gifts and guilt

The coven met last night, the first time some of us had got together in a while. The fabulous Freyalyn, finally recovered from her attack of shingles, came bearing gifts.

That's the gifts - why the guilt? Because I teased her like mad about not bringing us all one of the fabulous coats she had treated herself to from the local market. And she then produced what she had brought.

Turkmen bag

This is a lovely little embroidered bag that is just the right size for a midi or small spindle plus fibre. Very cool. These are hand-embroidered in the traditional colours, principally red - all her photos were full of red. (Which would originally have been madder.)

Turkmen bag - detail

A closer view.

But I got an extra, with which I was thrilled.

Turkmen dye plant

Now, how many people do you know who would be thrilled with a bunch of dead flowers? I could hang this in my window to ward off evil spirits, never a bad idea. But, of course, it is a dye plant, and I do intend to use it. I think it may be anthemis tinctoria, which google tells me is grown in the mediterranean and asian regions as a common source of yellow; or it may be tansy. Something akin to those, anyway. It is still a little aromatic - good job there were no sniffer dogs around.

I have been known to smuggle dye plants home myself, particularly wolf lichen (oh, joy, I should be able to replenish my supply this autumn when we go to SOAR!); also rabbit brush from New Mexico which gave me a truly fabulous yellow-gold. With the latter, it is the climate, of course. But I would love to get more one day.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I ate the soup and now I think I should eat some words


Plus I ate the bloody blog entry, too.

Hit the wrong key and the entire post disappeared, "undo" was greyed and "recover post" didn't.


I need to be doing other stuff, so here's a precis.

Cabbage soup was ok if, like us, you like that sort of thing, instructions on request.

Short discourse on the joys of fartichoke soup, when and where to eat it.

Brief update of the travels of the DSM, who did spend the night at home, only to bugger of again this morning on a work jolly, musings on the fact that his company don't include partners in anything, and me not really complaining about that.

Fairly major eating of words over what I said about the SOAR prog which is now up on the website. Workshops ok, targetted well at core market, just not so much at me, although at least three I could tolerate doing. Much digging of holes around who is doing what and what I might recommend, probably just as well that bit got erased, written word being so easily misinterpreted.

Rapid review of What I Am Working On - or not. In brief - very little of excitement, although I am Doing Stuff.

OK, ok Could Do Better. Maybe demain.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

An ordinary day

I was woken up at 6.45 by virtue of the room being lighter than usual. Amazing! A beautiful sunny morning. Mind you, any ideas about going outside with a cup of coffee were rapidly jettisoned when I opened the door and a blast of extremely frigid air knifed in to the room. Ah, well, it is still a glorious morning.

I had my usual mental list of the things that had to be accomplished today Or Else. And top of that list was to phone my mother. Now, I do acknowledge that I am not a good daughter. I neither visit or phone as often as I "should". There are reasons for this, I don't need to bore on about them, or bare my soul in an unseemly fashion. That's just how things are. But with it being Mothers' Day on Sunday, and us having booked a table at a nice restaurant, I did think I should let her know that! I had meant to do it yesterday, and didn't, so this morning was imperative.

My subconscious was speaking to me. Three years ago today, my father died. So it was serendipitous that I finally got around to making the call this morning.

Unexpectedly, Spin Off arrived in this morning's post. I fell on it, barely managing not to rip any pages, in my fight to find the SOAR ad, always such an exciting moment. I had been given a sneak preview of the workshops, but not the retreat session.

OK, so don't get me wrong here. There are some super people doing some excellent classes. Unfortunately, I have either done them, don't really need them, or they simply are not my style. Depending on what the full details give when they finally go up on the website, I can just about scrape three choices, although there is only one class that I really want to do. Retreat sessions? Forget it. Not one thing. I had hoped at least that Charlene Abrams might have been doing her beaded button class again, but no. So, that's him and me touring the Tahoe area for a couple of days then. Not that that seems such a dim idea. And this is always supposing they let us in again after our absence last year........

Do I sense the end of an era coming on?

So, now I go to make cabbage soup. Yes, really. Our veggie box scheme has given us rather a lot of white cabbage the last couple of weeks, and we have in the archive a recipe. We used to love it - I'm not quite sure why I am feeling somewhat underwhelmed at the prospect of it now. Plenty of black pepper and caraway seeds, that's the ticket.

Well, the alternative would be swede soup, and I do draw the line at that!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Musings on supposedly the first day of Spring

According to my friend Heather's diary, today is the first day of Spring. Not the 21st, or 23rd as I often think, but apparently, this is the Equinox. Whatever. Bloody funny spring. We do actually have a couple of the mini daffs up in the bed in front of the house, gets the most sun there. But otherwise, it is bitingly cold, blustery, and threatening snow flurries. Read this, and shiver!

Still, looking on the bright side, at least there was a little sunshine today.

And looking a little further afield on an even brighter side, next week I get a little taste of this. Pay particular attention to the forecast for Wednesday 29th, and keep your fingers crossed for me!

The last few days have vanished in a blur. My class on Friday went really well, all that angsting and more likely, preparation led to a good session. One participant was waltzing around at the end of the day with abracelett of yarn samples around her wrist, well pleased with her days work. I also had a complete beginner who I had producing yarn on the clunky old classwheell by the end of the afternoon. One of
those lovely, attentive, intelligent students, fabulous to teach.

The next day it was the turn of the DSM, who had a knitting with energised singles day at one of our favourite local guilds, so I went along for the ride - well, I would have done, anyway. That allwentt very well, too. sueb has come up with a great idea for a workshop that he could do, and I am reinforcing the notion ateveryy possible opportunity. I like the idea of us teaching our way around the country in a few years time after he retires, or semi-so.

Sunday we decreed a day of rest, but I spent most of it knitting a birthday card. Well, you know what I mean.

bead knitting card

This looks even nicer in the flesh, so to speak, as the light catches the wire and the beads rather better. But I can see potential in this technique.

Today I have been a grass widow (do people still use that expression from my youth, I wonder?) as the DSM is in Newcastle on work pursuits. In fact, he has just phoned to say that his meeting tomorrow was cancelled after he had set off - how totally stupid! But there is other stuff he can do, and another meeting on Wednesday, so I remain femme seule.

Apart from two cats. Oh, gawd. They usually behave like little monsters and I end up in the spare room when the lord and master is away. Yes, I know, I know, any normal person would shut the mogs out of the bedroom. But in our odd little house, the door doesn't latch properly, and in any case, they would simple sit outside and yowl as only siamese can, not to mention bamming on the door all night long. Ah, well. It's going to be a cold night.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Boo-p boo-p de loop


OK, I take it back. I can do a boucle, and I even quite enjoyed doing it. This may be because I actually sat down with instructions written out beside me and went through each stage checking as I did so. Instead of relying on memory, as usual. This does actually look more like barbed wire in the photo, but isn't too bad in the flesh. I would like it with smaller loops, to be a more delicate yarn overall in fact. And I have a yearning for some beads in there somewhere. Whether or not I will ever do this, I do not know. But at least I now feel justified in setting off tomorrow with the intention of teaching others how to spin fancy yarns.

I did some inlays, too, with some left over yarn snippets, but am still not convinced about that one. Mohair tufts are nicer. If I do a half-way decent attempt, I'll photograph it, but don't hold your breath.

We have snow again today, in fact it has been snowing all morning and part of the afternoon and not one flake that I can see has settled. This may be because it is horizontal or upwardly mobile snow. Didn't know it was supposed to do that. Grey and cold out there. I feel deep sorrow for my poor tulips, bravely trying to get their noses above ground. We are being threatened with significant falls overnight. The trusty 4x4 may have to do its stuff.

My fridge is presenting me with a motley collection of possible ingredients for tonight's supper, and as there are two large aubergines in the mix, I feel a moussaka coming on. Might be mediterranean in influence, but just the job in temps like this - cinnamon, mmmmmm.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Fancy shmancy

I should by rights have nice little samples of so-called "fancy" or "designer" yarns coming out the wazoo. (Is that how you spell that? I've only ever heard it, but it did sort of seem appropriate.)

I've taught classes how to attempt simple fancy yarns before now, I'm not really sure why I am experiencing so much angst this time, except that I somehow had it at the back of my mind that this time I would get it right. By which I meant that I would have a lot of nice little sample skeins of cute, properly designed, constructed and balanced yarns.

No. Isn't happening. For one thing, I am too downright mean to use really nice fibre for these experiments. So the textures and colours are always decidedly off, and that of course, is about half the philosophy of the thing thrown right out the window. Another, oh so major factor is that I don't exactly believe in fancy yarns. Oh, I have seen and held them, I don't mean that I don't think they actually exist. I just don't, and I am being very riskily* honest here, See The Point. I mean to say, what do you actually DO with them? If you look in the Diane Varney book, she says for every single freakin' yarn that they can be used for weaving, knitting or crochet. I mean, excuse me?? I can use baler twine for weaving, knitting or crochet. What I want to know is How and Why. (*And how to spell this.)

To redeem myself as something of a teacher of spinning. I can do and like slub yarn (after all, Colinette founded an empire on it). This may have something to do with the fact that the first fancy yarn workshop that I did was a total washout and I spent the entire three days at the back of the class with a nice group of women having a giggle and teaching myself how to spin slugs. Thick and thin works for me as well, even though I am not sure that counts. Variations on navajo ply; inlay as long as I am not expected to get silly with feathers, and don't get carried away with the mohair tufts. But the truth of the matter is that I am much more interested in controlling twist and grist, and playing with multi colour yarns.

Of course, spinning is all about controlling twist, and learning to make fancy yarns with their special requirements and the different ways of plying does lead to improved spinning technique all round. So I guess you can justify it that way. But basically, I am just a plain vanilla sort of spinner.

Having had my little outburst, which I had not expected, it never ceases to amaze me how fingers can run off at the mouth the way they do, and oh boy, they are going to get me in to trouble one day. Pause, ungramatically, for breath, metaphorically. I need to get back to boucle. I will not be beaten by this. But first, recall....I said ages ago that I had a spot of news.

The DSM and me get to teach a spindle spinning class at the next WS&D Summer School in 2007. We're quite pleased. (I think there is a grammatical term for that, but can't remember it.) Also surprised, but we won't go there. A big challenge - first time we have taught for a whole week. But lots of time to prepare, thank goodness. Nowt wrong with a challenge.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The promised beady stuff

I may just have cracked the photographing beadwork bit - grovelling on the floor and making my own tripod with my elbows. (Could there be an easier way??)

Liz's necklace

And a closer up detail.

Liz's necklace

Simple though they are in construction, I always find the tension tricky on spirals. But I love them. I think this one has come out all right. Hope so, it's intended as a present, and I suppose I am taking a chance that the recipient isn't reading this - or her daughter? If so, admit it now!

I also did these - a use for left over daggers!


I read somewhere about using lobster claws for stitch markers, and as they are very cheap and I have a bazillion of them, it seemed like a good idea. I have now gone through the bead stash as well as the fibre - only the books left to do. I have only chucked a very few, very nasty beads. The ones that have turned themselves in to bead soup, or that I cannot see myself using ever for very much have gone into a large box to have some play days, principally for knitting with wire. (D'ya want some, Helen? I could post a care parcel.....)

It may be having a bead FO, it may be the gleams of sunshine after the snow, but I feel a very faint stirring of possible inspiration regarding wire and knitting and beads. Well, two, really, one more to do with the sample of energised singles that I did recently, the all white one (cue for song, maybe - no, I'll spare us.) Hey, no point in getting excited, it won't last.....

The background to the photos, which is showing up nicely in the sunlight, is a linen guest towel that I inherited from my grandmother. Well, I guess strictly from Gwen, I can't imagine that Maud really had too much truck with such things, she probably used a bit of old sacking...if you think that is a harsh judgement, it is definitely not meant to be, just realistic about a woman who used the tissue from around citrus fruit as bog paper. And that was luxury, and in my book highly preferable to the usual newspaper. She did eventually stop doing it as she grew to old age...interesting. Anyway, I rarely use the towels for their true purpose, but can't bear to throw them out. One can only de-stash so far.....

And so I finally stop displacing, and head off to the wheel and fancy yarns......

Sunday, March 12, 2006


They maybe did forecast snow, but I didn't believe them. Silly me.


This is a view of our eccentric garden.


And down the meadow.


I took all these through the windows, there was no way I was going out in it. It continued snowing for hours after these were taken, right through a rather boozy lunch with a friend, who the DSM had to go down the road to pick up in my Suzuki because we didn't want to risk regular drive. Even so, it was a bit exciting, I gather. My excuse for not going was that I had lunch to prepare, which was a cheat as we were having loads of crudites to represent the healthy bit along with dips and salsa and chips...(looking a bit shamefaced after all the diatribes about real food. Still, maybe wine counts?

It has been really cold, too - got the heating turned up, an extra layer on and the wood stove lit. In fact, I'm about to go off down there and sit and spin by it, with a nice cup of tea.

Maybe a bead FO tomorrow!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Musical interlude

A chance remark on an email list, and I am doomed.

First, a disclaimer. My musical education ended more years ago that a millipede has corns. I'm talking barely-informed personal opinion, here. Be warned.

Should you ask me who my favourite (classical) composers are, the answers would be many and various and would no doubt differ somewhat depending on the day, the hour, the weather even.

I think that I might always give Bach (J.S.) pre-eminence, though. After that, I range through the ages, mostly baroque and classical, some romantic, little of yer actual contemporary although sometimes I surprise myself. (I once heard an entire modern song-cycle on Radio 3, about an Vietnamese? child, called something like "My name is Ti Ann", composer and all other details unknown, that had me moved to tears, but that is rare.)

But I have a great fondness for the some of the late Romantics, assuming that I am classifying them correctly, particularly Puccini - and Mahler. Being as it were challenged about this, I did a bit of googling, rounded up my entire collection, was going to find some of the passages that I might point to in support of my case. But I got daunted by the scope of the task, Mahler comes, you might say, on wheels. I wanted to find a section from one of the symphonies that I remembered as referring to the death of his daughter, but googling for Mahler and death brings up a googolplex of hits. Poor chap, he had something of a time of it in his life that was shorter than mine.

And in fact, one of the websites I came upon was this I make no comment on the whole of the site, haven't looked at it. This bit on Mahler I found interesting, though, and I decided that it probably explained a lot about my liking for him.

There are a lot of sites out there, and some sound files.
Indeed, I need to go hunt up my mysterious modern song cycle maybe. I continue to be amazed at how useful the internet is.

Anyhow - I like Mahler, I like Puccini, and I am beginning to get an inkling of why (not that it matters). It is something to do with their albeit rather florid but none the less effective expression of emotion, in Mahler's case I am sure absolutely genuine, but in Puccini's - well, he was a consummate showman, and may have been one of the forefathers of Lloyd Webber...but some passages from Turandot really hit the spot. And I love his through-the-night entr'actes. Does it matter? Probably not, it is surely the response in the listener that is important? Although, a thought occurs to me, if it is florid, intense emotion you are after, then go no further than the Du Pre version of the Elgar cello concerto

Mind you - I haven't yet mentioned Beethoven. And the String Quartets. There, you have intelligent, restrained and intense emotion that cuts like a scalpel blade. Brrr.

I have absolutely no clue why I have been blathering on about music like this. I shan't apologise - what else are blogs for, eh?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Morning musings and other stuff

I woke up this morning and immediately began to think about food.

No. No, I didn't. I woke up this morning and immediately fell into a panic thinking that I had become paralysed from the hips down during the night. Then I woke up enough to realise that the cats had crawled under the top quilt and had draped themselves over my ankles.

I do rather wish they wouldn't do that.

I did get to thinking about food a bit later. I started thinking about what we might have for supper. I am always happier if I can make this decision early in the day so it doesn't hang over me - it isn't so much the cooking as the what to cook. It dawned on me that over the years, I had run through a lot of recipes and styles of cooking - the biggest change being going veggie around twenty years ago, and I suppose, making the decision to go back to eating fish more recently. Nowadays, it is all pretty simple, except when we have that rare occurrence, people over for a meal. And all fresh ingredients - although tinned tomatoes counts as fresh, I find, in most peoples books.

When I started out, it was with Marguerite Patten and Cordon Bleu - the DSM and I just happened to be getting married a month or three after the famous partwork came out for the first time. I collected it all, and used it, too. It eventually went to a car boot sale, I think, when we stopped eating meat. Now, fresh ingredients are all, but there are way too many things to be factored in around that - five (or is it nine?) fruit and veg, low fat high fibre - or not if you are that way inclined. Then there is the friend on the weird Chinese regime based on damp and dry or somesuch (given her by a practitioner who hasn't, I believe the least nodding acquaintance with China).

Personally, I think that it is all made up, plucked out of the air, invented so that some expert or other can con us into thinking they know what they are doing, or even care. Phooey. All I know is that I don't want overly processed stuff, anything GM because it is all happening too fast, nothing factory farmed or travelled over too long a distance. Slow food with flavour sounds about right, although the slow can perhaps mean the eating rather than the preparing? I don't want any more to be chained to the stove. Well, not often, anyway. Sometimes, it is the best fun......and I do mean to cook.

None of this helped me to decide what to make for a meal tonight (our organic veg box was a little unhelpful this week - good stuff, but didn't speak to me) So, guess what - soup again.

Oof, small rant over. Perhaps I'll go and find a nice glass of something - except we ain't supposed to do that, either. Ha.

On an entirely different note. Some beautiful beads fell through the letterbox this morning. I bought them off US eBay, from someone I have "known" for years, and they are....fabulous.

JG's beads

This is a pretty terrible picture, which in no way does justice to the lovely things. (If you visit the site, click on Gallery, and I think the pink ones top left are the same ones, near as dammit, anyway) When I eventually get to doing something with the other than drooling over them, it is going to be fun.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Back where they belong

Time for a gratuitous cat photo.

Back where they belong

Released from prison yesterday, half-starved and totally mistreated, they are now safely ensconced on our bed. Where else?

Oh, and hey - a new podcast. OK, so I am not a weaver, but it's all fibre, and Judith Mackenzie too in the latest one. I love podcasts.

And - another treat - a nice little package of beautiful dyed cotton roving from an Onliner arrived in this morning's mail. It appears to be the year of cotton as well as silk. This latest is crying out to be spun on a lightweight top whorl spindle for some reason. I'll let you know.

What I need to be doing now is cracking on with the beading, and probably even more important, ding doing (sometimes Blogger spellcheck is so daft, but it gives me the opportunity to practice my new skill) some samples for my next AH class which is fancy yarns.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Bits & bobs

Firstly, a little food porn. After several pub meals last week, it was really good to get back to home cooking, even of the basic "homely" variety. This tasted pretty damn good. It is based on a recipe by Jeanne Lemlin, a US vegetarian cookery writer whose books I do most heartily recommend. I can't give exact sizes, quantities, times, because I don't follow them any more for this. Go with your instincts.

I used one medium cauliflower, two red onions, three medium potatoes and four small tomatoes. These get chopped in to slightly larger than bite-sized chunks and plonked into a large ovenproof casserole dish with a lid. Now throw in a long, long glug of wine or sherry (this is optional, but really helps the flavour), a big squirt of tomato puree (the original recipe was something like 1/3 cup, as was the olive oil next on the list). More of both would be quite acceptable, less would not - it is the olive oil that makes for the deep, deep flavour of this dish. Now you need somewhere around half a pint of vegetable stock (Marigold bouillon is just fine, can't be arsed to make real stock these days.) Don't add it all at once - this recipe doesn't need "gravy" just to be nice and moist. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper, lots of basil, almost always dried in my case, see previous post! and again in my case because I like it, nearly a teaspoonful of one of the Schwarz spice mixtures, Cajun being prime fave. Stir around merrily and put in a hot oven for at least two hours. I mean that - forget everything you have ever been told about al dente veggies, this needs to be cooked down and soft, so the flavours meld. About fifteen minutes before you want to eat, put on a topping. Until last night, this has always been breadcrumbs and cheese whizzed together in the Magimix, but no more. The recent incarnation was lots of wholemeal breadcrumbs (because we had a large heel of loaf to use up) with more basil in fairly industrial quantities, a couple of teaspoonfuls at least of tamari/soy sauce and a large handful of mixed seeds. Sprinkle this thickly over the top of the veg mixture, and put back in the oven until beginning to crisp.

We enjoyed it.

What I did on my holidays Part the second.

Not as much as I would have liked, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. First, one completed toe up sock, courtesy of an Online Guild workshop.

Toe up sock

Nice, easy instructions, no problems in that direction. In this photo you can see the main reason for doing socks this way...yes, indeedy, the itsy bitsy length of yarn left. Otherwise.....not that impressed. Don't like the overall shape, loathe the toe, don;t think too much of the heel - what's wrong with turning heels anyway? Strange - one of the reasons that most of the other participants in the workshop liked this method was they said they could try on the sock under construction. Huh? I can try on a cuff-down, but can't get my silly foot through past the needles (could have done with two circs, but didn't rate that either.) Still, a lesson learned. Most of my objections pertain to my particular circumstances, and it is a useful way to know.

Then, started the outer bag with the Polwarth. Not that you can see all that much yet. Nice to work, but slow for some reason. Never mind, no rush.

Bag beginning

And I did spin cotton, both on the charka and the spindle. Again, slow - there's a very long way to go.


I did some beading as well - and to that I hie me now. On a deadline - again. Just want to try something yes!

Sunday, March 05, 2006


We had a nice week. Picnic weather it was not, although we did once, just because.....

It didn't rain like the weather forecast said it would. It snowed. Midweek, we had this:


That is the view from the back of the cottage we go to, looking towards the fenced, ornamental duck pond. (There is another for wild birds further down the meadow.)

This isn't terribly clear, but nice enough - the view from the front door of the cottage, looking on to the "quadrangle" in the middle.


This al used to be part of a fully-operational farm. Now it is mainly a holiday enterprise - and a jolly good one, too - but they still manage the farm on almost organic principles, and keep some sheep and cattle. It is a lovely place to stay, well off the road and therefore very quiet and peaceful.

We did have a fair bit of very chilly sunshine, and after doing our ritual trip to Carley's to stock up[ on organic foodie essentials, like a very acceptable Duchy Ale (I am so glad Charlie-boy can get something right....), I couldn't resist photographing this. So healthy!


Apart from visiting DMIL, who seemed reasonably ok considering she is 90 and lives entirely on her own, we have other ritual things we like to do. Most favourite is always, but always visiting Hemmick. One of the best things about going down to Cornwall in February is that there are not too many folk around, so we can get the car in to the teeny weeny bit of land one is not supposed to park on, according to the National Trust (meant to use the proper carpark up the top of the long, extremely narrow hill to one side of the cove (another one similar goes up the other side. Access We were the only people there, both times, oh joy.




DSM at Hemmick

The astute will realise that these were taken on two occasions. We had lovely sun for most of one visit, the second was much darker and colder. Oh, and don't have any fears about me abandoning the DSM to the rising tide. There is another gap in the rocks just a few feet further up the beach. Mind you, children do really enjoy leaping across the encroaching waves at the very last moment.....

I did some knitting and spinning. I'll log that tomorrow.