Monthly Archives

November 2008

Uncategorized

Observations from a station waiting room

27/11/2008

My nearest station is particularly well equipped with waiting rooms, we have one for each side of the station, they form part of a charming but underappreciated piece of 1920s art deco architecture, and because of that they have deep pew benches, a solid radiator in the fireplace and good doors to keep out the chill.

It is a significant step up to most of the stations on the rest of the line where you get half a bus shelter to hide behind as the fast trains push the wind through before them.

If my train is a little bit late, or I’m a bit early (usually the former), I repair to the waiting room to grab my favourite seat near the window and knit away the waiting time.

I was first in this morning; headphones on, needles out, world zoned out and so it came as a bit of a shock to hear a banging noise on the door. I should add that the station has recently added a door handle to the doors, to stop them becoming pushed open by the breeze and getting stuck, letting all of the warmth out of the waiting room. The banging was a lady in her early forties pushing and pulling the doors to get them open. How she failed to notice the door handle I’ve no idea, it well within view (it is higher than normal on the door and she was short, well shorter than me) but she pushed and pulled and pushed and pulled and just when I was about to get up to open the door for her she disappeared off down the platform.

A few minutes later the lady returned with a member of station staff, no doubt complaining to them that they had locked the waiting room on a cold morning. This kind soul gently opened the door using said handle and pointed her inside.

Now this by itself was brilliant situation comedy, but what happened next made it hard to hide the smirks. No fewer than three more ladies (within 5 minutes) came up to the doors, pushed them, rattled them and looked annoyed. Our first lady strolled to the door, opened it wide and said in tones of gracious patronage:

It helps if you use the door handle

You couldn’t make it up.

Christmas Cooking

Bon appetite

25/11/2008

Remember the quinces? Whilst I did use my best endeavours to leave them languishing in a bag in the bottom of a dark cupboard, a couple of weekends ago I had time to pull them out and set about turning fruit into jelly.

The great thing about quinces is that you don’t have to do any peeling or coring or anything complicated, just wash off any remaining fur and pop them in the pan. I had about 1 3/4 lb of chopped quince to which I added 1 1/2 pints of water and a tablespoon (ish) of lemon juice (shamefully the sort from the squeesy lemon not a real one because that’s what I could find in the kitchen).

When I’d simmered that and strained it off through the sift I popped the pulp back into the pan with another 3/4 pint of water and gave it another 30 mins.

I had just over a pint of juice so I added enough sugar to rot your teeth and set about the stir-bubble-test-rinse and repeat dance until I thought that it was almost setting, which for me is a good sign that we’ve reached the illusive setting point.

Et voila:
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Quince jelly. Made by my own fair hand. It is delicious and I heartily recommend it. We had roast duck the night I made this jelly (special offer in Sainsbury’s) and while I was stirring I was mopping up the test dribbles with shreds of duck which is a really excellent combination that I would not have thought of unserendipitously.

In my continual stream of parcel post (more on that another day), yesterday’s post brought another foodie gem:
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This is my Christmas pudding, lovingly hand made by my mother (as she does every year), as H isn’t into anything involving dried fruit. It’s too cute for words, but perhaps you need some scale:
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Christmas in miniature – perfect.

In the Christmas knitting news I have three socks. None of them match. Not all of them are for Christmas. The conundrum can only be solved by more knitting – gosh what a shame!

Cross Stitch

The frozen wastelands

24/11/2008

I have returned from a place quite north of here, a place of hills and howling breezes that pierce you to the core with their icy touch. I have worn a hat almost constantly (including being both inside and being in bed) since Friday night.

We’ve been in Scotland. Edinburgh to be precise, a place of

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Unexpected Christmas trees
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Lots of cake (to keep out the cold)(NB Florentines good, Black Forest Cupcake not memorable)
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Great pub signs, and even better,

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Great street names – I would love to know how this flight got its name – it isn’t colour and there didn’t seem to be any grass around!

We went salsa dancing
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In matching outfits and H and I rapidly alternated between quasi salsa and quasi irish jig while Lulla showed everyone how it was done.
Lulla had a fabulous party with lots of friends and improbable cocktails (and as the designated driver I coaxed the bar staff into inventing some booze-free versions of the exciting ones).
And finally, there was a little birthday present time:
I think it was a hit! Certainly it only took about 10 mins to have decided where to put it (top of the stairs so it’s the first thing you see when you come in) and another 5 for H to have put it up for her:
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The parents-in-law did a great job on the framing, the two mount cards are pearlescent so the whole thing shimmers and it fits with the latest evidence of my MIL’s activities:

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Ladies who eat ice-cream, or possibly candyfloss. The family suggestion is that Lulla is in the middle in green, I’m the one in orange because I love orange and Belle is in her favourite pink. Whoever they are they’re a good sight warmer than we’ve all been this weekend, Lulla kept forgetting to turn the heating on as she’s usually out during the day so we were double wrapped at all times. The dressing gown she’s wearing isn’t because it’s morning but for warmth and if you could see me I’m wearing a t-shirt, a wool sweater, my Kauni cardigan, my Icarus shawl and an alpaca hat. And I’m shivvvvvvering!
Garden

Progress

20/11/2008

Are you ready for this? If you have every been traumatised by DIY this might not be the post for you. Go and find someone who’s doing some nice calming knitting and have a look at their pictures whilst taking deep cleansing breaths.

So, remember how I told you about the dismantling tendancies of the works from home husband; and you know a picture tells a thousand words….

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Well this picture shows most of our empty conservatory. The bit to the right that you can’t see mirrors the bit to the left so you get the idea – it’s a decent sized room.

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All hail the power of lino – that stuff is indestructible – what you can see on the underneath of the lino is the transfer of the mould from the floor boards but the lino itself is intact. The floorboards on the other hand were actually dripping.

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That isn’t meant to look like that!

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One crowbar and one husband later – apparently the floor came up quite easily, what with it being sodden and all. Can you see the white beam in the middle of the picture? That isn’t paint that’s delightful mould.

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More mould – this time on the floor – yippee
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The resulting detritus.

It is now clear and cleaned; H has blocked up holes where there should not have been holes, blocked up air bricks that should have been a couple of courses of bricks higher, and caulked everything and anything he could find to caulk. We’re now in the process of putting new joists in which will be more suspended and less sat on the floor, and then some floorboards on top. The current plan (which appears to be subject to ongoing discussion between H and our great friend A who is a civil engineer) is then to leave just the floorboards for a bit and see what it looks like in a couple of weeks. If all is well then we’re planning on damp proof underlay – which will sit the damp proof course at the same level as the course in the rest of the house, and then a click and fit laminate floor – or so I’m told. My role in all of this is to “hold this” and say “gosh you have done a lot” encouragingly at relevant intervals.

When not “holding this” I have been Christmas knitting. Socks for someone and socks for H, both beautiful, both on Ravelry (here and here) if you fancy a peek – it’s somewhere were family cannot go and as I think at least some of H’s family have tracked me down, everything is staying a secret this year.

Not so my spinning:
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The top one is the second ‘straw’ of BFL which I finished last night. I’ve got one more bump of roving to start and finish and then I can try some three ply off three different bobbins – time to re-engineer the lazy ice-cream tub. It looks like there is a lot more on the second straw but weighing them in my hands they feel about the same – only time will tell whether they work out the same or similar lengthwise.

And finally, amidst all of the confusion and piles of furniture, we have now got two little oasii

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I think this is the Double Dragon

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And this should be Apple Blossom but the labels have fallen off so many times that I’ve given up being sure which one is which.

Uncategorized

Surprised

17/11/2008

Ever wondered what the self-employed get up to at home during the day? I know they work hard at the business and I’ve even had to chivvy H away from his office when I get home but today, today was unexpected.

I arrived home and noticed that somehow our lounge was different. Different in that way that only the presence of an extra 3 piece suite, a welsh dresser and several boxes of art materials can really produce. H had emptied the contents of our conservatory into our lounge.

Hmm – I opened the door to the conservatory expecting to see the lino and not much else. We’ve had a few problems with the floor feeling like we’d broken a board and some damp around the door so it made sense that he’s had a look at it.

Had a look!! The lino and the floorboards (which turned out to be only sheets of MDF) and the joists were all outside on the patio and were all rotten through with damp. That broken floorboard, not so broken, just squishy with damp. Our conservatory now comprises a sand and earth floor with a few bricks which were being used for goodness knows what. There was not one salveagable timber in the whole thing. The floor in the conservatory has always been lower than the main house and it seems that the cheapo skinflint previous owner with a degree in botch-jobs hasn’t laid the floor properly, and the ventilation bricks seem far too low to the ground to us. The structure of the conservatory is still pretty good so we just need to work out what best to do to reline the floor and re-set it and hope for the best.

This poor little house has been abused by the atrocious DIY done by our predecessors so it really should be no surprise that when we try to do one thing, we have to go back three layers and correct whatever they did in the first place. Still I suppose that it makes sense to catch it now and sort it out, rather than wait for the inevitable day when the whole thing falls down!