Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Feels like summer...

I feel like I have earned the right to sit down today! Yesterday I donned my lumberjack shirt and lugged bits of felled tree into my car and drove several loads to the local tip. Note that husband has no regard for the felt roof in my old jeep but goes berserk if we so much as touch the roof in his. My car is looking worse for wear and will probably never be rid of conifer bits and pieces.

I think I mentioned before that my car should really have a sign on it saying, Juanita's Property Maintenance Services. Letting a property is seriously stressful and nothing surprises me anymore. You think you are a good judge of people and it turns out you are not. We have just spent the best part of a month putting right what the last occupants did to the property.

Actually it is all hands on deck when it comes to it. Mum and Dad do lots too. Dad is particularly meticulous when it comes to lawn mowing. Mum and I clean and do the cosmetic touches. M fixes broken things. This time round we have painted the whole house which is something I don't want to have to do again in a hurry.

Other news this week; driving around the countryside using up lots of expensive fuel in an attempt to play several cricket matches which the opposing teams didn't turn up to because they thought it was on another day. Not very impressed with the organisation. Probably a good idea to hand the reins over to a woman next year.

Very quiet this week because E is away on a school trip. J has been lapping up the one to one attention and taking liberties with indoor cricket every time my back is turned. Honestly, I've lost a child this week and gained one. Three times in one week I have told my husband to grow up. Futile.

So, it is gloriously sunny if a little breezy today. The dog is by my feet, the cat is nearby in a patch of sun. My latest charity shop basket (I can never leave one behind) is packed with J's blanket in progress and my latest book. Tea is in the pot and apart from aching from head to toe (lumberjack) I am feeling very content. The hoovering can wait. Crochet here we go!

P.S. Best book I have read this year; The Glass Palace. Worst book I have read this year; The Wilding.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Outlaws beat Bears...

I blinked and the weekend was gone!

A pretty good one though. I had Saturday to myself (mostly). I did succeed in dragging 'nearly-teenage-boy' away from his gaming for a few hours. It cost me some school supplies, two balls for indoor cricket and a double scoop mint choc chip ice cream! See? When in doubt resort to bribery.

We did have a lovely moment or two whilst sitting in a nice picnic spot overlooking an old racecourse, albeit in the car during a torrential shower. I had my takeaway salad lunch and J had his all time favourite cheeseburger (he's a man of habit). I suggested a game of I-spy knowing fully well he isn't four years old anymore (i spy with my littul eye, somefin ginning with curly cuh', um car? Yes!!!). He went along with it. It's surprising how funny it can be. He got my windmill, castle, cathedral and horses and I failed to get his clouds and later, sky. Doh, and I always thought I was more in tune with how J's mind works!

The highlight of the weekend was popping over to Nottingham and watching Notts play Warwickshire at Trent Bridge. It was an exciting second half with Samit Patel knocking his first century for three years including a number of massive sixes, and finishing on a six to win. Everyone stood up to clap.

We weren't sure whether the rain would hold off but it did and we even got sunburnt in the final hour. It was extra especially nice to go with Mum and Dad too. Much picnic food got passed up and down between us all, and to think I was worried about going hungry!

E has decided she wants to be Nuts the Squirrel when she grows up! Though I reminded her of the problems of having to like small children, blistering heat and looking like an idiot. She changed her mind.

Bit disappointed we can't go and see Notts versus my home county of Sussex on Friday due to one of E's cricket matches but I suppose I'd be very unpopular cheering Sussex on.

So, today it is back to real life! Washing, housework, la, la, la.

The game is reviewed in more detail here

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Saturday morning...

Be careful what you wish for eh? It's a bright new Saturday morning and it looks like I'm gonna get that quiet time I've been craving. Only thing is, it doesn't feel right to have it on a weekend day! M is working on a job too good to turn down. E is deciding what to wear and 'fixing' hair and make up in order to go shopping with friends. I'm still getting used to having a nearly sixteen year old. J will be in the horizontal position for most of the day until I bully him into something else, eg. a lovely walk with Mummy (might have to work harder on the ideas for the 'something else'.)

So I find myself up at seven in the morning, showered, dressed and feeling partly lonely and partly pleased about having a quiet day. I've got my new boyfriend...crops on. Honestly! I wish Marks and Sparks would come up with more grown up names for their cropped jeans, I'm forty something for heavens sake! My iPod is in one back pocket and my new phone is in the other. I have yet to pass my driving test with the latter. My previous phone was over ten years old and the children advised I shouldn't get it out in public! I would have been happy with it for a while longer if it hadn't developed problems. Problems of the 'turning itself off in the middle of texts' type.

So my iPod tells me it is raining in my village right now (wrong!). My phone tells me that M has just arrived at his destination and is having a bacon roll (predictable). Who needs actual company?

I decided to do a bit of stock taking this morning. I've reviewed my current wips. Two jumpers and a blanket. Ahem, yes the second jumper was started after the frustration of doing rib stitch on 5.5mm needles and getting a bit of wrist strain. So naturally the solution was to cast on for a jumper using 10mm needles. Wrist strain problems sorted. It means the oatmeal jumper is going to take a bit longer but hey no rush.

Actually I will confess to doing a classic mistake with the first jumper. I rattled off the back section no problem at all and then cast on for the front panel forgetting to use the smaller needles for the rib section! Rather annoying because I really loathe the whole knit one, purl one routine!

The second jumper uses Rowan Big Wool Fusion that I have had lying around for quite a long time. It'll be the second jumper I've knitted using this basic pattern (the first was for E when she was about 9). This time I've given it a denim blue lower half because I am one ball short of the beige mix. This knits up very quickly so I am hoping to have a finished jumper in a few days time. It's the jumper on the left hand page below, in dark purple; I'm not intending to wear it with a belt round the middle like the model! Just another layer for cold cricket matches.

And finally, this second strip of blanket is taking so much longer than the first half! I think I am bored with the stitch now but I will keep plodding on because J will really appreciate it when it's done. Our conservatory is used all year round as a living room and it can get a bit chilly by late evening so we tend to always have a few blankets lying around. This one does look a bit more interesting in real life, the wools have a lovely texture with flecks in.

So, a lazy day, flitting from one project to another. A spot of gardening in between rain showers and electric storms. Homemade carrot soup for lunch (we have had a lot of carrots in our veg box deliveries lately.) Redbush tea, plenty of. Dog walk, maybe, I'm still not sure if I've forgiven him for 'unplanting' a plant pot I had just planted yesterday afternoon.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend, wherever you are. J x

Friday, 14 June 2013

Preparing for the weekend...

Mollie is in training for a lazy weekend... I think I'd quite like to join her.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Woolly therapy...

This poor woman looks just how I feel this week! Zoned out.

I count my blessings and feel grateful for everything I have but sometimes I just want to 'escape'. My mind wanders back to the time I rented a small, unheated cottage for just myself and my two Springers. Life was much simpler back then. Lighting the coal fire was a priority for heat and hot water, walking the dogs was next on the list and running my small design business from home paid the bills.

At the moment, here in this household, everyone seems 'below par'; either grumpy or ill or both. The most stressful issue is the anxiety, panic attacks and vomit phobia of a certain child of mine. I've done the practical help, I've done the listening, I've done the amateur counselling, we've done the professional counselling but still we have big problems when some child at school throws up. I tell you, it's enough to test anyone's patience.

Time to myself seems like a rare thing at the moment. If I could read a book, watch a film and knit or crochet all at the same time I'd be very happy! I'm settling for a bit of woolly therapy with re-runs of The Royal. Extremely cheesy series but with great potential for spotting all kind of vintage and retro bits and bobs. Crochet blankets everywhere! This one was definitely a 'left overs' arrangement!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Quack quack...

It's probably a bit difficult to make out the actual ducks in this photo; the young are the dark brown furry blobs paddling in the tiniest amount of water. The water levels are extremely low this year and although we have a duck family nesting somewhere very near to us every year this morning was the first time we have seen them.

Previous years have been quite sad. The Mother duck starts out with about 12 ducklings and usually ends up with 2 or 3. We're not sure what happens to them but there is the road, foxes, drains (we once saw half a dozen ducklings fall down a drain, but luckily were rescued).

This year the Mother has ten ducklings who have all reached a very good size so that's a big improvement on the last six or seven years. She certainly knows where to get a few slices of bread!


It's not every day you drive by a house and pick up a free table! M and I knocked on the door just to make sure it was a free table and not free plants or other things that had been on the table. The lovely woman was just glad we wanted to take it away.

It's a very large teak table that would easily seat eight. All we plan to do is sand off the flaky paint but not remove it all meticulously, I rather like the distressed look. We currently have a smallish four seater teak table so this new one will be ideal for barbecues with guests, banquets even! Just as well my workshop is full of random chairs I'm in the middle of renovating!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Monday Monday...

Mollie has been with us for 9 of her 12 years and in all that time I have never run out of cat food and been tempted to give her dog food. Experienced cat people will know there is clearly a difference. I never thought for a minute it would upset her because she steals dog food as it comes out of the tin as I'm serving it up for Harvey. A proper serving all to herself created quite a problem... look away now if you are of a delicate disposition... cat sick everywhere, well ok, it wasn't that bad, just neat little piles in a few places. Honestly, dogs are a lot less bother I find. So we have had to say goodbye to Mollie's favourite sleeping place; her Amazon box. This has rather disturbed her routine. Here she is trying out my laundry basket for size.

It was perfect picnic weather here in the uk today. On the spur of the moment I packed a flask of tea, salad and strawberries and set off to a small market town that has a lovely woodland and picnic area close by. I had a quick browse in a few charity shops to see if I could stock up in some light summer reading and found a book that could have been written for Jake. It's about a boy that wants to be the fastest bowler in the world.

He looked a bit puzzled about it and gave me a 'you've bought me a book to read knowing that I don't really enjoy reading books' kind of look. It was one of my crafty one step ahead moves for when we pitch the caravan and the wifi doesn't work (like the one we've just been to!). I can live in hope. Meanwhile Daddy likes the look of it even though its written for school age boys!

I picked up the cheesiest looking 'knitting novel' too. Set in Massachusetts; I like to read books set in other countries during the summer months, it's cheaper than travel!

Also in my haul was a couple of pieces of rustic studio pottery and a denim jacket for E which she loves and it was only £4. I then had my picnic and a friendly chat with the litter picking man, who was doing a sterling job of trying to obtain litter before I'd even created any. Not that I would ever leave any behind. Then perhaps the best bit was a lovely cooling walk through the pine trees with lots of rhododendrons out in bloom, they always remind me of home, Sussex.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

a short break...

We had a rare weekend without a cricket match and so decided to take our caravan for its first outing this year. It's quite an effort to go away just for one night but it was definitely worth it. We didn't go far but we did choose wisely. A lovely site near to plenty of woodland with springer spaniel wearing out in mind (as if).

The initial plan involved dropping 'teenager-who-can't-survive-without-wifi' off at her grandparents for the weekend, along with 'boy-who-doesn't-like-to-leave-his-Xbox-behind' and have a lovely quiet night away. Dog walks, book reading, early night. That all went pear shaped but there were moments of joy for all. One highlight was a family game of cricket. Pretty much make it up as you go along rules. You have to run on everything you hit. If it hits the caravan it's a six! Needless to say there was a lot of running and fielding (unfortunately it was too small an area to let Harvey do the fielding, he would have fetched the ball before it reached the batsman!). M and I were weary after an hour or so of this and suggested a tea break to cries of 'Urrr, boring!' Us boring? Just in need of extra fuel, that's all!

There was even a sibling bonding moment when they discovered 'Guess Who?' At the back of the games cupboard. Last played when they were perhaps 6 and 9.

I was just grateful to be sitting down when we started a marathon run of UNO and later still Rummikub.

Harvey had a whale of a time. On our first walk he found lots of sludgy ditches. On our second one we suddenly came out next to a run of about a hundred chickens. Thank goodness they were well fenced in. I don't think he would have gone after them but previous experience tells me he would have been interested.

It has become a yearly thing not to go too far for too long on our first caravan trip of the year, even though we have it serviced every year. Previously the heating went wrong (and the gas back up was empty) and it wasn't during summer so we had to make a hasty retreat home. One year the fridge didn't co-operate which was no good at all for keeping the milk fresh for tea! This year we seem to have got away with it lightly. Just one light bulb and a bit of trim that needs sticking back on.

There may have been the usual disagreements about a certain offspring not being the most willing helper when it comes to putting up awnings, fetching water, etc but we were unanimous in that the highlight of the trip was having our very own personal concert provided by our neighbouring camper on his guitar. He had quite a repertoire of Jesus songs.