Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Sometimes a glimpse of sunshine breaks through.

I took myself to the plot yesterday afternoon, grumbling along as I do. I picked veg for supper and met up with a lovely lady, drank lemonade in the blustery becoming colder by the second wind and we generally put the world to rights.

Homeward bound, I was called over by plot no.1 with a cheery, "I've been waiting for you".. "oooh have you" (Haven't had an offer like that for years!!) and presented me with these....

Actually this photo is a mixture of two gifts, the red apples were given to me on Sunday, by a very generous lady.

The gentleman on plot no.1 and I had chatted as I'd just finished a blackberry run on Sunday and I'd commented that I'd love some apples. So, he asked plot no.3 who has a big Bramley tree and plot no.3 then poked his tree with a big stick, to get the last of the bramleys at the top of the tree, just for Me! And gave them to plot no.1.... Who had then waited for me to finish at my plot to catch me. It was well past half six when I decided to go home. Isn't that a lovely story and restores my faith in basic human kindness.

And just because I am Very Proud of my hard work. Here is a picture of my raspberry canes all tidy for winter. Seriously, I am really proud of them..

Friday, 26 September 2008


Sunsets on the sea are wonderful, but countryside sunsets can be equally beautiful. Aren't I lucky to be able to see a sunset such as this without roof tops in the way. Although I have to say, which you don't seem to get on a sandy beach,, the mosquito's were out in force and one bite on my forearm made my skin react to a 1.5 inch by 1 inch oblong,,

So, hubby suggested a fire....

Our first, as allotment holders.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Oooh my aching back.

I've been up the plot every day this week, mainly digging. Today I dug for about 10 minutes and thought.. Nooo.. there has got to be something less harsh on my muscles to do today. So I cut out the dead canes of the raspberries and tied them in. This little job seemed to go on for about an hour and I'm not sure if it was any less harsh on me.

Earlier today I had nipped into town as my darling son no.2 had guzzled the last of the milk, not even enough for a cup of tea! Whilst there I bought Japanese onions, shallots and garlic to plant. I'm hoping to have dug enough to get them into the ground this weekend. One of those chickens that must have their own private gym was reduced from nearly £15.00 to.... drum roll... £2.35. This was quickly removed from the shelf and landed in my trolley.

So tonights dinner comprises of this...

The first of the parsnips and brussel sprouts, the last but one dustbins worth of potatoes, along with our own carrots and runner beans.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


I love picking blackberries, even though it means that I am stung by nettles and have very sharp thorns embedded in my skin. Strangely I always make a mental note of when my next tetanus jab is due, (just over a year away) as a very sharp and strong thorn attaches itself to the skin of my arm/hand. I've been picking blackberries in this area since I could walk, which is quite a long time. I know of areas where cultivated blackberries are, these are the first to fruit, these have gone over now and where there are miles of wild blackberries which are just ready for picking. The wild blackberries take more picking, because of thorns and their fruit is much smaller, but to me they have an intense blackberryness which is well worth the effort. I picked three pounds in an hour yesterday.

I've lost two of my areas this year, one farmer has decided to cultivate his field that had been left to stand for many years, so has blocked access. There were a couple of nice sloe trees on that run, which my gin will sadly miss this year. Another area has been rather cruelly blocked in by builders using this exact area to store their equipment. I'm still debating whether to take myself up to it, with basket in hand and smile gently at them to see whether they will let me climb over there diggers and other equipment to let me in..

I, to my great pleasure have also been promised a crop of cooking apples from a chap that I've known for years. So, as long as the Black Rocks continue to lay during the short dark days and the freezers that have seen better days continue to work, we shall be enjoying some very fine winter puds.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Lucy's First Sock

Very late last night Lucy and I were sprinting towards the finishing line, would we manage to fling ourselves through the tape or would we get stitch and drop to the wayside. The mysteries of kitchener stitch were revealed and then after a quick lesson on sewing up ends....

Taaa Daaaaa !!!

I very quickly cast on her next sock and said a very sad farewell to Lucy as this morning she went back to her studies at Uni.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Aladdins' Cave.

It was a false start start this morning, hubby was called into work, we made it to Tempsford Stained Glass shortly before closing at three. We were then made to feel very welcome by their two dogs (and their owner), one of which was a young, very gorgeous, long haired Jack Russell, who couldn't quite decide who's feet he would rather lay his toy at, for either of us to throw. I was desperately trying not to be distracted by this handsome puppy dog, well after a couple of games!

But try I must.

I (with permission) this is only part of their shop, there really was too much to capture. Its wonderful...

There was also a lampwork beads kit... I have no idea.. (yeah right!) who put that into my mind!


Friday, 19 September 2008

Mid September at the plot.

Having had rather a long absence from the plot, (apart from half hour spurts of picking and watering) mainly due to the wet weather and other inconveniences, the sunshine called to me today and off I trotted.

The tomatoes are still doing well. I'm hoping for a long Indian summer to ripen them all.

A moments break allowed me to capture the mood of the allotment, can you tell that Autumn is fast approaching. Leaves are changing in both texture and colour, the once vibrant, 'come and get me' luscious greens are slowly fading, some are dying whilst others will give us their magnificent show of rich russets and golds before returning from where they came.

Haricot beans left on the plant to dry, when the pods have turned yellow, I will dry them further to store them and then use them in a deeply warming cassoulet. A perfect dish left to bubble gently in the oven for hours whilst your enjoying outdoor winter pursuits.

Surprisingly our runner beans are still flowering and forming beans. I am very surprised at this as our beans were one of the first to fruit on the plots and I took this to mean that ours would be the first to finish. It must be all that muck I dug into their trenches.

Parsnips are doing well, as are the leeks which you can just see. These will be the mainstay of winter dishes for the next few months... Along with these.....

Brussel Sprouts. Although the plants themselves look a little sad and on some of the plants the buttons haven't formed as well as I would have liked, there are plenty of plants that look as good as this. This is a much better performance by mandycharlie than last year.

We cropped carrots, I weeded the parsnips and beetroots, we dug out the weeds where the carrots were. I want to move the strawberry bed completely which will take quite alot of effort but needs to be done as the mares tail, no matter how quickly we hoe, always takes over and it needs digging out, and then digging out again and again and again as the roots are thin and brown and travel a very, very long way into the earth, too far to be able to satisfactorily remove them in one go.

There is much to be done to make sure the plot is tidy and dug over before winter.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Wigs, stage 2.

My hospital have approved the use of longer length hair. (I will be paying for it) Which is for me, very good news.

So, its all systems go, I've just spoken to my wig maker and my hair has been ordered, my base has entered the work shop and density of the wig was discussed.

Next stage will be the second fitting of the cap in about three weeks.

Stained Glass 1st Lesson.

Hubby and I trotted over to Warwickshire College yesterday evening for our beginners lesson on making stained glass windows. After registration, the usual safety, fire drills and signing your life away to say you have read the safety procedure booklet and the part where you introduce yourself.. (I'm Mandy and I knit socks) There are some seriously arty people in this group, from registered silver smiths, people with art degrees, and others working in several mediums, oil painting/wood/ceramics/jewellery. Eeek! Then there were others much like ourselves who wanted to explore the world of stained glass.

We were introduced to the equipment and shown how to cut glass, how to snap glass along where you had scored with tools and for small pieces with our thumbs and were then sent away for a little practice session.

Curvy Glass, Impressed eh??!!

Then there was more information about where to buy and who was the best supplier of glass for stained glass windows. Who Knew... that there are outfits selling just pretty, pretty glass, simple kits etc, one chap turned to me and said.. and at this my heart sang.. "Its much like a wool shop, but with glass" and then when I must have grinned like a cheshire cat, he said, "You'll soon find your stash getting bigger" I giggled. Am I that transparent? Can others see that I am already on the dark side?

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Wigs, Stage 1.

Such a glamorous girl!

This is stage 1, which is a fitting for the base. This is the only base that the NHS will pay for, there are others, much nicer others, which would be softer on my head so therefore more comfortable, but they don't last as long. This will hopefully last two to three years.

As you can see the base needs more work, but this is the starting point before the girls that sew the bases get to work with my measurements.

I have to ring the appliance department at my hospital to see whether they will allow me to have a longer length of hair, even though I will pay for the extra length which will amount to £250.00 plus VAT (times this by two as I'm ordering two wigs) they may still say No.. and then I will only be allowed 13 inches, which you have to allow 1.5 inches for turnover at the wig, which will then mean the hair is only 11.5 inches long, which compared to how I used to wear my hair is very short.

So, as I have to pay £250.00 for each wig on a NHS prescription, my total bill will be £1087.50 (if my maths is correct) Which to be honest, we could have a good holiday with. You'd think there would be a way of claiming back the tax on your hard earned pennies, wouldn't you.

I find it all very tedious. It really wasn't what I wished to be doing with my lovely hubby on a dry day in September.

Back to the knitting for a little zen like, deep breathing moment.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Two pairs down...

Seven to go... (for xmas presents)

Hubby's pair, the smallest of the bigfoots.

Scachenmayr nomotta Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett 4257

Son no.2's pair, the largest of the bigfoots.

Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Canadian Color 4747 Kilt.

An amusing contrast of the big foots, although as a concerned mother I have added just a little length to son no.2 socks, Just in Case... he keeps growing!!

A worrying moment this afternoon, will there or won't there be enough yarn left...

A close up of what was left. I find it amusing how, when, there is very little yarn left and my tension in both my mind and knitting increases I knit so much faster.. That and I didn't move from my perch and was thankfully supplied with tea by hubby, which I was very grateful for.

A quick count up reveals that I have three pairs for bigfoots left to knit, all of which are wide and long and four pairs of littlefoots only one of which is small in conventional female terms. I'm aiming for a minimum of a pair a week. Which for me is a fair amount of knitting.

Knitting and Stitching NEC (picture heavy)

I had a lovely day yesterday at the Knitting and Stitching Show (NEC), spent with Lucy who is son no.1's lovely girlfriend. It was a real pleasure to spend the day in such delightful company, one I am desperately trying to convince her to repeat for Ally Pally, sadly she will be back at Uni and will be entrenched in her studies.

We arrived rather early and sat and drank coffee whilst waiting.

and just to add a sense of proportion as I was the one behind the camera, here is a (slightly gruesome!) picture of me.

The first item that greets you is the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef an exhibition designed to bring your attention to the plight of coral reefs. Its quite stunning and my photography really does not do this justice. If I could crochet I would be very tempted to contribute. It always astounds me just how knitters when united (and it doesn't take much to unite knitters) can highlight issues in such a way that it is not easy to ignore.

Lucy was highly amused by Has anyone seen my knitting? I wondered how heavy the needles were and how many people it had taken to lift them and be able to knit. I wasn't quite brave enough to try and lift one.

Web of Wool were enjoying the show, Lucy found some black and silver/white scholler & stahl La Ola Stripes which went beyond fulfilling her expectations. Her mission was to find a black and white sock wool and when we spied this, for a pattern called Crazy Fur that she had greatly admired in Anna's book Fab Feet & Cosy Toes, Lucy was Giddy with excitement and I knew the mysterious yet potent yarn fumes had worked their magic and she had wandered over to the dark side. Welcome Lucy, you'll never be the same again!

Later Lucy found some polka dot black and white yarn, (Lucy is the polka dot queen!) and she Had to have it, (I know this feeling well) and needed 20mm needles to knit up a lovely scarf with it. We headed back to Web of Wool, even though she is a newbie she exhibits the intense shopping stance of seasoned knitter.

During the afternoon we attended a workshop on how to make a couture fascinator by Janie Lashford. To Lucy's great pleasure Janie Lashford was working on a fascinator with polka dots! A picture taken with permission.

There were many art exhibitions, too many to photograph, a tree.

A very interesting marine creature.

A bag that was gorgeous.

And then there were bras and basques..

A mirrored bra.

More tea Vicar?

There was shopping... some exquisite sock yarn from fybrespates and some roving/top generously given to me by them, as I was chatting to them about my wish to start spinning.

And a new project, its been many years since I've sewn for pleasure, this looked so beautiful and relatively simple, I had to have it.

Then homeward bound, happy and contented although I have to say ever so slightly knackered!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Yesterday was a lovely day.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting, my cyst is Very much smaller and I can see the packets of antibiotics have nearly emptied, so the queasy tummy syndrome will let up soon. I'm feeling much better, so yesterday I took son no.2 to Coventry to kit him out for the start of his A levels. Did I say the start, well Friday to be precise, do you hear a huge sigh of relief from Mandycharlie that she didn't actually commit infanticide during the last 3 months, you do. Although I have no idea how one would actually succeed in that act against an extremely sturdy, well over 6ft (I must measure that boy) who is so sturdy that his feet are now UK size 11 and are very, very wide. (where am I going to shop for shoes if he keeps growing!) I was thinking aloud (which is not unusual) at Tuesday night knitters and wondered whether adolescence was like child birth, you forget, Anna said she'd ask her mum :) I must apologise to my younger without teenage children in the household readers, for the last few lines, but its been tough.

So, back to yesterday, son no.2 and I headed off to Coventry, we had a lovely time, he didn't growl at me once, which is, a remarkable improvement. We had noodles at the noodle bar, emptied WH Smiths of writing paper, graph paper, squared paper, files, pens, pencils, a maths equipment set, etc etc. Then we trundled towards Waterstones, son no.2 found three books he wished to read and I found a new cook book. I also happened to wander (rather quickly should son no.2 realise where we were heading) into Debenhams and splurged on a proper grown up handbag, eeek! In my defence M'lud, I was not drawn in by the rather attractive Scotty dog attached to it, the truth, as I see it anyway, it was brown and it was long and I could loop it over me And, I'd been looking for a brown leather shoulder bag for the last 6 months since my last bag of a similar description had died on me.

We headed home, content.

Then and this really is the best bit... son no.1 took son no.2 to the flicks to see The Dark Knight, hubby was working late and I had Two Whole Hours in the Evening of just me, the dogs and the cat. It was Bliss. It was rather like at the end of a gym class and the instructor says... "and just Relax"

I knit and I flicked channels and I read my new cook book, What to Eat Now by Valentine Warner which is about Autumn/Winter dishes and inspired by this new cookbook I made a fish soup/stew with my own home grown potatoes, onions and tomatoes and some cod that was going to be pan fried and served with mash, hubby came home and was greatly pleased by this new dish presented before him and we ate, gently, in peace.