A Tale Of Two Handsome Princes.

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Once upon a time there were two handsome princes who wanted to bring their girlfriends out for a slap up meal. Sadly, they were student princes without the necessary cash to actually pay for food. (Aside; these princes belonged to a debating society so they owned their own tuxedos which was of great benefit when wooing women but no help at all when it came to paying restaurant bills)

They put their handsome heads together and came up with an elaborate plan.

They would recreate the ambiance of a charming French bistro in a tiny, grotty bedsit (ie, Chez Moi).

They raided their respective palace kitchens and stole the makings of Tarragon Chicken for four. There might have been a chocolate cake from Marks and Spencer (considered the pinnacle of luxury in 1992) and there was, clearly, a bottle of Blue Nun.

They rented a video and borrowed a VCR and a TV.

After dinner they sat, all four of them in a row, on the floor with their backs against the single bed and a duvet over their legs, and watched a movie. This was a very big treat for the girl who lived without TV.

The night was a success.

The video was Truly Madly Deeply.

One of those handsome princes got his girl, married her and has treated her as his princess ever after.

The girl, of course, has remained truly, madly, deeply in love with the handsome prince

and with Alan Rickman.

After all this time ?

Always.

 

 

 

Could I Get Felted In?

I imagine that you have all been waiting with bated breath for the big reveal of my Navy Merino Wrap.

No?

Me neither.

It was all Husband’s fault. We were having a rare ‘day out’ in town back in August, I think, and I tried on the navy hat. I like hats and I like trying on hats but I wouldn’t, even for a second, have considered buying the hat had not Husband been there to tell me that the navy hat was so me.

‘But I don’t have anything to wear it with’, I protested with a rising surge of new hat excitement.
‘Oh, you’ll make something’, he replied with such absolute confidence that I was swept away on a veritable tsunami of new hat plus new project euphoria.

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It ebbed.

I think my mistake was choosing expensive yarn. Those navy balls were so deliciously squidgy and not even the teeniest bit scratchy and, on the day, I decided that I deserved it. I spend so much time devising projects that are made from recycled scraps or bargain bucket supplies, I was aching to work with something sumptuous.

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I began to crochet a shawl and very quickly realised that I was going to need three times as much yarn as I had bought and might have bought an item of designer clobber for what this glorified scarf was going to cost. Back to the drawing board.

It was Teenage Daughter who suggested the compromise…knit it. I have it on good authority that your yard of yarn wraps considerably further around your shoulders if you knit rather than crochet.

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A rummage in Granny’s knitting bag revealed a set of circular needles and I was off.

I didn’t want a triangular shawl. I knew what I wanted and I thought it was a very simple plan, basically a long rectangle with a square tacked on the side. The pink stripe around the edge complicated things in ways I still don’t fully understand. The moss stitch edging was intended to prevent curling and it seems to have worked. I would, if I had endless time and patience at my disposal, have knit the entire thing in moss stitch.

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All the while I knit those looooonnnnnng rows of stocking stitch I wasn’t properly relaxing. I kept calculating how much the darn thing was costing.

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It got huge and huger but, somehow, not in the right directions. The wider it stretched, the longer I needed to make it for balance. I did measured and re-measured and did more sums. I travelled back and forth to the yarn shop.

I wavered between,
‘just one more ball please, stop now, it’s grand and I can’t spend any more money on navy merino’ and
‘I’ve spent so much on navy merino, I better make it perfect, one more ball please’.IMG_7841

And on it went.

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And then the rain came. And came. And came.

And even though the wrap has been finished for months I couldn’t leave the house in it for fear that the costliest thing that I have ever knit would be ruined. I have a notion that it would felt. I might even get felted into it. A beautiful, squidgy, not even the teeniest bit scratchy, navy merino chrysalis.

I could wait out the winter, warm and cosy, and emerge with the sun in mid-April.

It’s not a bad plan.

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I have resolved to give the wrap it’s outdoor debut this weekend. If I’m not back next week you’ll know what happened.

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Heroes.

I always run out of blogging time before I think up a good blog title. Sigh.

This is a brief round-up of what I’ve been reading.

Career Of Evil. Robert Galbraith.

I bought the latest  Galbraith ( J.K. Rowling) offering, full-price and hot off the press, as an early Christmas present to myself. This is the third in the Cormoran Strike detective series and, in my opinion, delightfully entertaining. It’s scary enough to keep you turning the pages, romantic enough to be fun and smart enough to be satisfying.IMG_8764

Cormoran may not be quite up with with Ross Poldark in the attractive literary hero stakes but I admit to finding him easy on the imagination. If you were a fan of Bruce Willis in Moonlighting you should enjoy this book.

Teenage Son read all three Strike books over the Christmas holidays. His verdict is that the the first is great and the other two are ‘grand’. I might add that we Irish use grand as a marginally derogatory term, a way of damning with faint praise. Teenage Son is a harsh critic.

The Girl On TheTrain. Paula Hawkins.

I bought this book because of the hype. Nothing about the cover or the blurb would have tempted me and I’m a bit disappointed in myself that I fell for it.

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The premise, a girl sits on a train looking in to her old back garden and wonders how her ex-husband is getting on with his new wife and child, is intriguing if a bit creepy. The writing is downbeat, echoes the rhythm of the train and pushes forward at a driving pace.

I read this book quickly but I can’t say that I enjoyed it. I found each and every character unlikeable in the extreme and I guessed the big twist. It’s a book without a hero.

If you’re deliberating between this and Gone Girl, read Gone Girl first. It’s better. If you adore Gone Girl you will probably like this (faint praise may be the house speciality).

Me Before You. Jojo Moyes.

What do you say about a book that sets out to make you cry from page one? That is was beautiful. And brilliant.

(Love Story? Anyone that old out there?)

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Look, it’s a sobfest. Do you need to know more?

Lou and Will are beautiful  and heroic in every way.

Read it (not in public) and weep liberally. Let it all out. Cleanse your soul of every sad thought. Enjoy every moment of fictional tragedy. It’s fabulous; I loved it.

The Old Man and the Sea. Ernest Hemingway.

Now THIS is a sad book. I think this is the saddest book that I have read. It may also be the best book that I have read.

I spent four hours curled in a chair reading this. Storm Frank was lashing the window beside me and the dog was curled at my feet.

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I was transported, not just to another world, but to another life. For four hours I was that old man. I felt the sun, the thirst, the muscle aches and the rope strain around my shoulders.

The story is so short and so specific and yet, it’s the story of everything. It’s the story of how we fight the big fights, with our eyes set mostly on some big prize and then lose everything to the smallest battles.

To be honest, I was blown away and I don’t feel well equipped to analyse this book.

I want to believe that the old man was less heartbroken than I was at the end of the book. I think that he was older and wiser and quietly resigned to the way of things. I think that he would tell me that it was better to have won and lost than to have never tried. I think that he was proud and rightly so.

He was a hero, just for one day.

 

 

 

I’ve got the dogsh*t blues…

I noticed the pee first, a tacky-looking, glossy patch on the hall floor, just where the Christmas tree was.

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My under-caffeinated brain was wondering whether the dog could have been pee-ing on the Christmas tree all through the fairy-lit season when the smell accosted me. It was, literally, a wall of foul air hitting me in the face. I recoiled in despair.

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I recall meeting a friend for coffee one Tuesday morning about two years ago. At the time, my friend had a young dog and I had never needed to clean worse than a goldfish bowl.

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Friend wept hot tears of frustration into her cafe latte. Her plight? Well, the sad fact was that her mental well-being and her immaculate white tiles were being repeatedly sullied by dog diarrhoea.

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I certainly sympathised but I did wonder if it could really be bad enough to cause a nervous breakdown. Afterall, we were two fairly gutsy women with nine children between us.  We had wiped up a fair share of sh*t in our time.

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Tragically (for me), I didn’t understand. I didn’t have the picture in my head of forty or fifty (yes! seriously!) discreet little splodges of dogsh*t trailing across the hall, neatly squidged into the gap at the door saddle, rolled by the brass feet of the coffee table and paw-printed all the way under the kitchen table to the brand new doormat at the back door.

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I didn’t know that dogsh*t crusts like a diabolical loaf so that the worst of the smell is contained within the soft interior, waiting patiently, to explode in the face of the poor unfortunate who tries to move it.

I didn’t know how gag-inducing that smell is, how it makes your head ache and somehow sticks in your nose for half a day.

I didn’t know that dogsh*t forms an almost irreversible chemical bond with hardwood floors, the strength of this bond being directly proportional to the size of the bank loan you took out in order to purchase said floor.

I didn’t know that I would need a further bank loan to keep up the supply of Vileda supermops.

Is dog diarrhoea enough to send you wailing to the closest madhouse, begging for a (clean) padded cell and a whiff of Jeyes fluid? Yes, I tell you, YES!!!!

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I didn’t know that you shouldn’t give a Cockapoo the bone from your roast lamb dinner.

Well friends,

I know now.

PS. White rose, camelias and viburnum all flowering now in my garden, where the dog is.

 

First order of business.

I’m not really back yet. I haven’t screwed my blogging head on but I need to take care of one piece of business.

I really want to send a huge thank-you, no, bigger… THANK YOU!!!! to Lynn of lynz real cooking.

Lynn sent a slew of new followers my way over the holidays for no other reason than that she is a sweet, kind and generous person.

A visit to Lynn’s blog is like making a trip to your favourite friend’s house where the smell of something good greets you at the door, a sympathetic ear is guaranteed and you know you won’t leave without the gift of kind words and a recipe for something scrumptious.

That is only the beginning. Every so often Lynn will sit you down and tell you a story. It is the story of a woman, a wife and mother, in an extraordinary situation. Ever so slowly, we have watched the burka slip away from an American wife in Saudi Arabia. It has been fascinating, at times horrifying and always a great honour to read Lynn’s stories.

Her writing is raw. She will break your heart.

And then she will mend it with a slice of peanut butter chocolate cheescake.

Knock on her door, here it is: lynz real cooking.  She will welcome you in. If you are very lucky, she might ask that handsome son of hers to make you a cup of his secret-recipe coffee!IMG_7011

We ate, we drank, we made merry.

Christmas Eve.IMG_8838

Clove orange tealights made by Middle Girl.IMG_8855

Tipsy candles.IMG_8842

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The fakeymaloe relish was great with cheese tarts.IMG_8860

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Quote Husband: ‘Those were the best mince pies you ever made, they didn’t even give me indigestion’.

That’s what passes for a compliment around here!! 🙂IMG_8865

Supper for Santy and the reindeer. I believe Teenage Daughter was attempting to get rid of the sprouts.IMG_8886

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Smallest hands place Baby Jesus in the crib.IMG_8892

Christmas morning complete with bells.IMG_8911

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The traditional jelly, fruit cocktail, Bird’s custard, cream and sprinkles Trifle and The Pudding, alight.IMG_8932

Even Charlie collapsed in a food coma.IMG_8916

First sock, nearly finished.IMG_8948

Cracked open the sloe gin. I had no idea just how good this was going to be; definitely worth the tree-climbing expedition in September!IMG_8944

 

Winding down now, to the year’s ending. It’s always a quiet and vaguely restless week. Never am I more aware of time ticking by…

I’m being called to play another game of Othello, and after that a game of Operation and after that I might figure out the Kitchener stitch and finally close the toes on that first sock.

It’s very quiet but very good.IMG_8942