Sunday, 23 June 2013


We're nearly half way through the year, unbelievably enough.

The children are growing up. "I not a baby any more, Maffus a baby, not me" says Hattie one minute, and then "Me a baby Mummy, tuddle me, tarry me" the next.  It's a difficult age.

She's had some sort of horrible allergic response to something this week; swollen puffy and oozing left eye, high temperature, general lethargy and off Nursery on Thursday.  Which meant me being off school, which given that I've got some kind of tonsil stress response happening, was no bad thing.  The guilt though, oh the guilt.  I guess you can't win, can you.

This one has been ill as well this week.  She's had temperatures, tears, snot and general grumpiness all week, and been on and off school too.  "Fortunately" she also wasn't well enough for school on Thursday, so I was able to care for both of them together, which was snotty.

On Friday, I didn't want Hattie going to Nursery, so she went to Lyn's for the afternoon; poor lovely, sleep deprived Lyn whose good nature I shamelessly exploit.  On hearing that Hattie was going to her friend's house, Lucy had a drama queen tantrum, and insisted that she did as well, so spent the afternoon with Louise and her children.  I think a good time was had by all, even the mums.  I will be spending a great of time with both Louise and Lyn's daughters this summer I think.

Lyn's sleep deprivation is caused by the rather gorgeous young man being cuddled by Lucy.  Both my daughters adore him and occasionally campaign for a little brother of their own.  Unlikely.

Saturday, 22 June 2013


Cooking: Chocolate Orange Mousse from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking; something veggie to stuff peppers with - lentils, tomatoes, peppers and mozzarella; a Cherry and Almond loaf cake, that collapsed, and had to have bits removed and then baked again.

Sewing: a baby gro, this time with a NES controller on it, for someone who saw one on Facebook and wanted one for a friend's child.

Knitting: The Killing jumper; I ran out of grey wool for the stars, so bought more, and now am nearly out of the cream, and am kicking myself as the shop had tonnes.

Volunteering: Christ the Saviour's Summer Fete, which was lovely.  The girls enjoyed themselves, despite the disorganised bouncy castle queuing non-system and the weather; rain, cold, sun, warm, rain, incessant wind.

A month until the summer holidays.  One month.  

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

WIP Wednesday

It is almost finished!  A year after starting to think about making this jumper, and about six months after actually getting on with it, I have finally attached the sleeves to the body, and just have to do the last set of stars and the collar, and then I will be able to wear it and walk about solving crimes and being grumpy and emotionally unavailable.

For interested parties: Rowan Cocoon, cream and grey, 3 of cream, 1 of grey; 6mm circular needles, 6mm DPNs for the sleeves. Yarn bought from the really very wonderful Mrs Moon's of St Margarets.

Year of Projects List - these are some from this year, and some for next year

Rusted Root - swapped out for an Alphabet Blanket
Hedgehog Mittens - swapped out for Peacock Mittens
Starburst Flower Blanket - swapped out for Granny's a Square Afghan for Lucy's fifth birthday
Idlewood - still yarn
Owl blanket - on hold
The Killing Jumper  - nearly done
Hexipuff Quilt - on hold until I can find my needles
Paper Dolls jumper - another inch knitted, but it's still going slowly
Vine Yoke cardigan - still done
Skyfall socks - done

Fascinating stuff.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Handmade Monday

I am trying to menu plan for the week, a new idea to fit in with the whole save money, shopping locally agenda I'm trying out.  So of course, I'm pretty desperate to do almost anything else.

This is a close up of the dress I made for Lucy on Saturday night.  Some people go out, some people stay in and sew.  When did I fall into the latter category?

We left early on Saturday morning to go to ballet and so were able to do some other things beforehand, which makes a nice change from getting there two or three minutes after the lesson has started, tearing around in a screaming panic and generally being grumpy.  We went to Ealing Fabrics, and I let Lucy choose a fabric for a dress, with the only caveat being it was one that I liked too.  The ones I really liked she disliked, and the ones she loved were frankly horrible, so we compromised on the one above.  I choose the pattern as it looked unfussy, simple and quick.  I can't be doing with dresses with bodices and all that, children's clothes need to be very unfitted so that you can get a tee shirt underneath and a cardigan over the top, and still allow for free movement.  Lucy is an active child, she needs clothes that allow her to run around.

From a trotting horse, you cannot see the terrible hem or the dreadful mess that is the neckline and armholes; this is my second dress ever, and I am a novice to all such things as bias binding and other exciting developments in the fashion world.  I am off to Hobbycraft tomorrow to get more fabric, bias binding and more thread so I can have another go on Thursday.  So watch this space, if you are, and I know this is a long shot, interested in sewing.

Sunday, 16 June 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, during 2013.

It's been a funny old week.  The girls have been hard work, and I've been on my own a lot, plus I've had work pressures, so by yesterday I was snarling and ready to snap.  An hour or so off in a coffee shop while Simon navigated the Hanwell Carnival in the pouring rain and a very important couple of hours at home, doing nothing, this morning while they were at church have sorted everything out.

We went to Whipsnade for Fathers' Day.  Lucy hasn't been very well this weekend, and has been running high temperatures for a few days, which makes things trying.  I didn't want to take a picture of her looking all sad and forlorn, not even willing to move to see the elephants, so this is a modelled shot of the dress I made for her.  Fabric chosen on Saturday morning, dress made in 2 hours last night.

I don't think she'll make a catalogue model.  The dress, incidentally, looks great, fits, has some growing room and has held together for a whole day.  Whether it will withstand a wash remains to be seen, and less said about the seams and hems the better.

Hattie has been telling me that she is feeling ill, mainly, I suspect, to get Calpol.  She is in the rudest of rude health, however, and had a brilliant time at the zoo; the best animal she saw today was a magpie.

The bag on her head can't have helped.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Ons praat die taal

Or how to tell if you have Afrikaner heritage.

You know someone who can speak in two languages simultaneously.

You know people who can make a noise that sounds like "oouu-er" which is impossible to write down, but when you hear it, you recognise it immediately.

You are able to knit, sew, farm, shoot and hunt, order around the staff and cook meat and fruit together without blushing.

You see nothing wrong in sometimes saying "ja" and sometimes saying "yis".

You think it's perfectly normal to pronounce "g" as "hrou".

You make cakes by putting them in the fridge.

You've met a man of the cloth who thinks that Verwoed made "a few mistakes."

You find it hard to balance the loving kindness you meet with your European liberalism.

I've been thinking a lot about South Africa recently, not surprisingly, I suppose.  I have lost part of my connection to the country, and to a community that seems to be superficially European, but is actually very, very different.  Separated by more than just a language, I've never felt more foreign than with my mother's people.  Ons praat die taal, maar ons nie loop die nie loop.

Monday, 10 June 2013


Week 23 already.  I really don't know where this year is going.

Anyway.  A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

Hattie, adorable child, is learning to feed herself, by my own Mummy, me not a baby, me a big girl.  So on Saturday, at Syon Park Garden Centre, she showed me how she eats all her jelly by herself.  The concentration was intense.

It's becoming more and more difficult to photograph Lucy as she grows up and isn't as keen to let Mummy play with her silly iPhone all the time.  Give her an ice cream, however, and she will sit calmly for as long as you need.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

On marriage

Well, now the Lords have passed the Equal Marriage Act, I suppose I'd better divorce my husband and marry a horse, as clearly that is the sanest thing I can do.  I don't want to go into my feelings of deep disgust over the C of E and its cowardly, unchristian behaviour, with the honorable exception of the Bishop of Salisbury; I don't even want to express my disappointment that my own MP decided to toe the RC line rather than that of his own conscience; what I want to do is talk about how my marriage will be undermined by today's ruling.

Gay men being able to marry will mean that my husband and I are no longer married, as I am not a man, and as far as I remember, he is not gay. Lesbians being able to marry will mean that my husband and I are no longer married, as we are not lesbians.  We will be destroyed, but destroyed, by the ruling.  I can feel almost 6 years of putting up with each others little foibles crumbling away beneath me.

Honestly.  In a blatant copy of my current favourite journalist, here are 7 things that my husband does that annoy me.

He never, ever turns the washing machine off.
He will use things up, without remembering the Golden Rule - always have a spare in the cupboard just in case.
He works from home.  I cannot explain why this is annoying, it just is.
He is obsessive about tidying up.
But yet not cleaning up spills.
He falls asleep in front of nature programmes, especially Lord David of Attenborough.
Worst of all, he rearranges the dishwasher when I have filled it up.

Here are 7 annoying things I do.

I don't like to tidy up or clean.
I leave the lid of the washing liquid capsules tin open every time.
I rarely double lock the door.
I like to have all my craft stuff on display in handy places about the house.
I dress like a tramp, claiming that it is because I get so much paint on my clothes at work, it's not worth having nice ones; my clothes come from Pick n' Pay, a South African shop that makes Tesco's own brand clothing look classy.
I spend too much money in Waitrose.
I embarrass him by writing about him on the internet.

I don't see why gay men and lesbians shouldn't be able to write similar lists about their spouses.  Marriage, as far as I can tell, is a public declaration of a private intention, and if you want to make it, you should.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Orzotto; or what I do when I've got nothing else to eat

I've just bought a really quite wonderful new book.  By Esther Walker, one of my favourite journalists, it is a terrific and quick read - part autobiography, part recipe book and very, very funny.  I've been lying in the rapidly cooling bath all evening, doing nothing but reading and laughing.  If you have a kindle or an iphone or something similar, I really recommend it, it's only £1.99, so even if you hate it, it's not a bad buy.  You can buy it from Amazon.

Anyway, it's inspired me to be a bit more nice jacket and jeans about cooking rather than ratty old Tesco own brand and a fleece from Pick n' Pay; tonight we had a store cupboard staple that is originally from Hugh Fearnley Whatsit in the Guardian on Saturday, but was reproduced in Nigellissima, all be it with slightly different ingredients, but doesn't actually require any thought, weighing, timing or anything more complicated than an IKEA cup and a pair of scissors.  Look it up; I think it's called orzotto by the sainted N, and risoni by the hairy H.  I love it to bits, especially on first day back after the school holidays when my angelic class have all been at Daddy's coffee.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

21/52 - a week late & 22/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

I just ran out of time.  We've had a few upsets in the last few weeks - Hattie dislocated her elbow, resulting in an evening trip to A&E; she is fine now, but I don't think I will be, what a shock.

We have tidied up the garden and bought some new boxes to keep useful things like pots and compost in, and also the children.

From this last week; a trip to Cambridge to see my mum while my dad is in Hong Kong.  It was quite sunny on Saturday morning, so we went for a walk around the village and fed the ducks.  After all the rain, the ducks are not interested in bread, which disappointed the children briefly.