Wednesday, 30 July 2008

That car owes me nothing

The garage has phoned. The car did fail its MOT but only on a bulb, so they've sorted that and it's now passed. How good is that? I'm just about to pick it up. Looks like me and the car will be spending the coming year together.

The Good Life

The school holidays are great because I have lots of free time and don't have to work and can do pretty much whatever I please for six weeks. The first week flew by and already the second is going much the same way.

Shona was here with us last week so we did lots of craft type things, visited the park a number of times and had fun at the allotment. We have a resident frog there who has his own pond. I use the word pond but really it's a large plant pot which has rain water in it and Mr Frog seems to have claimed it as his own. This inspired Shona to make another pond so she dug a hole, put a large bowl in it with rocks for the frog to get out of, and now we are waiting for Mrs Frog to show up. So far, there hasn't been a taker, but I'm optimistic.

The past couple of days I've been busy making jam. Each year the allotment provides more fruit. This year we planted some new strawberry plants and had the best strawberries ever. The strawberries didn't make it into jam jars because they were all eaten before the kettle could be boiled. That's not to say there weren't many, because there were plenty but they were far too irresistible. At the weekend we picked the red, white and black currants and have made jam from these. An allotment neighbour invited me to pick some of her gooseberries so I made gooseberry jam for the first time. I got seriously attacked by the gooseberry bush, but the jam has made it worthwhile. When I was at my Grandma's on Monday she invited me to pick some of her gooseberries and I forgot and I'm gutted about this now because I would love to make some more of this. Today I'm making rhubarb and ginger jam, which I've made before and is quite lovely.

This time last year I was already thinking about Christmas presents and started the big sock mission for family presents. This year I'm not doing that. Instead people are getting jam. Firstly it's cheaper, secondly it's quicker and thirdly I've almost finished already. There will not be the Christmas Eve knitting there was last year. I suppose all knitters have to go through that naive phase of thinking knitting for everyone is a great idea. It starts out as a great idea but ends up being a massive burden and a lot of the recipients did not seem impressed or grateful for the huge effort I had put in. I guess we live and learn.

Anyway, the only distraction from this domestic bliss is the car's MOT which is happening today. I really hope it doesn't cost me a lot of money this time. There is a forum meet tonight at the Wool Baa and I want to go by wheel and not by foot. Even I'm not that retro.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Back safe and sound

I'm feeling really tired today, but I have for the past week during the German Exchange. We got back yesterday evening and the kids had clearly had a great time. There were lots of tears when they left their German partners early yesterday morning and the kids were pretty subdued on the journey back. Two came back with injuries, a broken finger and a broken arm, but apart from that they were fine. One parent had a bouquet of roses waiting for me when we arrived back, which was lovely, and the kids all thanked us when they got off the bus this year. The behaviour was really good and they were great fun to be with.

It has also been a great time for the teachers. We have had some lovely meals in restaurants and at people's homes. One evening we were invited to a vineyard and did some lovely wine tasting of organic wine. We had a tour of the vineyards and learned a lot. Ezzie and I have a couple of vines on the allotment so Ezzie was keen to find out as much as possible. I had to do some technical translation that evening, which is something I am not good at, but I think I managed to get the main points across. The final wine we tasted was the best wine I have tasted in my life. We bought a couple of bottles, one for our host and one for us for a special occasion. It was really expensive and normally I wouldn't spend so much on a bottle of wine, but it was something extra special so we thought we'd bite the bullet. In the end, however, the wine grower said we could have them as a gift because he had never had English people at his vineyard before and we had been great guests. I felt really bad about that and wished we'd chosen something a lot less expensive because we hadn't expected that to happen.

During the trip I managed to complete a couple of pairs of socks. I deliberately wore Rowan Tulip at the town hall so I would have a picture of me wearing it in the local newspaper. In fact, an elderly lady approached me later that same day to ask me if it was handknitted; apparently she had seen it from a far and suspected it might be. Wow!

Anyway, it's not quite back to the grindstone for me. It's the school holidays now. Poor Ezzie is back at work, but at least he will be coming home to a nice tidy house and some great dinners whilst I have these (few) weeks off. I am going to go to work sometime this week to make sure I have a classroom left, but I am definitely going to enjoy the rest.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Auf Wiedersehen!

I've not been blogging much recently. I've also not been knitting much either. It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I don't have time to. Two days of teaching left for me this school year and on Saturday it's the school exchange to Germany.

It's definitely the best week of school for me and the timing is perfect. Kids can be daft at the end of the year and there is a real lull at school as everyone waits for the last bell next Friday. As great as the trip is, however, there's little denying that it is quite a major operation to organise. Tickets, transport, passports, medical cards, insurance, medication, risk assessment, emergency contacts, telephone trees, meetings with kids and parents, money, setting a week's cover work. I love it all once I'm there but it is a faff to sort out and I'm never sure the kids are grateful. Getting off the coach last year as we arrived back at school fewer than half the kids actually said thank you. It was soul destroying but I suppose they were excited to be home and they had so much to tell their parents.

So you won't be hearing from me for a while. I'm going to knit socks (what else?) while I'm away. We spend a lot of time on coaches in Germany and as the kids get restless it's a chance for me to try to convert the kids to knitting, though I've yet to be successful.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


The last time I posted on here I was in a real pickle with Tulip and seriously questioning whether I would ever wear the thing. Well, since then I have worn it in public twice. Its premier was at the Wool Baa last Wednesday and everyone made a big fuss which made me feel confident and proud as I wore it to school on Thursday. Lots of pupils (some prompted, some unprompted) made nice comments and I was really pleased with myself. The day following my previous post I was lucky enough to be at Mara's with nice knitting people who helped sort me out and gave me lots of advice. It is really great to have finished a project and in the end it looks good.

At the Wool Baa last week I bought a spinning wheel. Jill hasn't branched out into wheels, but Kate was there and is going away so she sold hers to me. I must confess that I haven't used it yet. I have had it out and put it up and admired it, but I'm not used to it yet and need to spend some time bonding with it. I have been spinning, but on Caroline's borrowed wheel. In the midst of the mouse fiasco Caroline managed to teach me to ply three ply to make stripes. I love stripes and had already spun quite a bit of the merino, bamboo and soya and Grandad was keen to see so last Friday I showed him what to do and this is the outcome.

I know I am not supposed to be buying any yarn at the moment, but I have bought a little bit. I was going to knit the Colinette Camomile throw and I had some yarn to do this. I've since consulted the pattern again and I really didn't want to knit with 15mm needles, so I'm knitting another Brioche again. I did have to buy some more yarn for this throw to complement the existing yarn I had. If you are combining new yarn with stash yarn I think it is okay to purchase yarn. The new yarn is helping me use up the stash yarn. I'm loving the colours I've combined so far.

Since I last posted I've had a haircut and gone for a big change. I've got a kind of bob now and I have had some blonde highlights put in. I went to school on Monday and the kids made nice comments so that was great. Yesterday I had a St Tropez spray tan in preparation for the school prom tomorrow. I have a posh frock to wear and was feeling a bit self-conscious about my ├╝berpale skin. I'm loving the tanned look. One kid asked me if I had been to Africa. (What? Since Tuesday?) and one kid said I looked "shiny", which I took to me "glowing". I could get addicted to this. In the summer I always get a bit tanorexic and slap loads of fake tan on, but this is much more even and a lot less work.

Before I finish I have to mention the tv drama 'Criminal Justice' on the BBC. I didn't plan to watch it but Wimbeldon overran on Monday and I switched on for the news but this programme was twenty minutes in with another forty minutes to go. It is one of the best programmes I have seen in years. I cannot get it out of my head. My friend Julie and I can't stop talking about it and what's particularly brilliant is that it's on every night this week; you don't have to wait long for the next installment. It has made me think so much about prison. When I used to think about prison it was about the lack of freedom and being in one place, but the real problems are other people and the horrid things that are going on in there. It really should win lots of awards this year. It is superb.