Friday 28 December 2018

Farewell to 2018!

I've not been around much in Blogland recently.  I've been busy with other real-world business, with some travelling and with much seasonal merry-making.

Yesterday on the way out of Dublin Port I was struck by the dramatic low clouds, and the number of people walking along the breakwater. From the distance and the elevation of the car ferry's deck they looked like an army of ants marching off an excess of roast turkey and plum pudding.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

It's coming ...

I know! I know! Shoot me now for mentioning it, but we're getting rather too close for comfort given how little Christmas shopping I've done. Eeeek! Every year I swear it'll be different next year. Next year will be the year when I finally get my act together and don't end up doing my usual demented dash for the festive finish-line.

I find it hard to get geared up for Christmas until it's officially December. It's a state of mind. I remind myself of my mum who has this tendency to not really feel like she needs to leave the house until just about the time she's supposed to arrive at wherever it is she's going to.  It is a tendency of hers that used to leave me hanging around a lot after Brownies.

Anyway I'm in my customary seasonal denial, frittering away the time with my needle. And this is what I've got to show for my head-buried-in-the-sand approach to the coming festivities:

Friday 16 November 2018

Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace, London

On Tuesday I spent a fun day at Hampton Court Palace. Now I have to confess that it takes very little enticement to get me to spend a day in such a wonderful place. However, on Tuesday, I had a very special reason for being there: I was taking part in one of the Royal School of Needlework's sampler days, which involved a tour of the Royal School's workrooms and then a workshop in their studio.

Thursday 8 November 2018

Festiwool 2018

I'm looking forward to Festiwool -this Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Priory School, Bedford Road, Hitchin, Herts. SG5 2UR. If you're in the area do please drop in for a feast of yarn and woolly delights.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Friday 2 November 2018

London in the Autumn

I've been really busy with work recently, which has buried me under a blizzard of paperwork and left me at the mercy of a series of unforgiving deadlines, but I'm determined to carve myself some me-time this weekend. And starting today I ignored all the other calls on my attention and headed off with the WonderDog for an early morning jaunt around the common. It was bracing; we've just had our first frost of the season here in London, but it got the air pumping in my lungs and blew away the cobwebs more effectively than a bucket of coffee could have done.

Ealing Common

Saturday 13 October 2018

Ally Pally Knitting and Stitching Fair 2018

For all of us in the stitching community there's nothing quite like the big Ally Pally Autumn Fair. There are lots of other craft fairs, but this is the big'un, and I, for one, always feel like I'm missing something if I'm not able to go.

This year I got an early ticket for Thursday morning. I rocked up 5 minutes before the official opening time, and the place was already pretty much full to capacity already. I'm a bad girl who likes to come by car so that she can transport her swag bag (day's shopping ... wicked 😈) home with minimum muscle strain. I was able to find a space in the free car park, but only just ... .

A chum, who trolleyed in on a late ticket that afternoon (after 3 p.m. entry), told me that it was fairly civilised when she was doing the rounds, but I'd have to say it was a bit too much of a push when I was there.

Still - gripes about how many of us there were apart - it was a great morning out.

Saturday 29 September 2018

Dog Mattress

Gosh I've been away a long time. I've been crazy busy on a non-crafting project, which has slowed down progress on absolutely everything else in my life. But it's finished. Hurrah! It's over, and I feel like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders. It's a long story, but it's finally done and dusted, and I'm really excited about moving on to other things.

One super-quick sew that I have managed to knock out was this little mattress for the dog's bed. I measured the exact size that would fit inside his basket, added a 3 cm seam allowance all round, as I was planning on sewing in a very thick wadding, and quickly cut up some fleece that I'd bought in ages ago.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Autumn Cowl Pattern

This cowl is knit in my own home-dyed yarn. I chose 4 ply wool, which I had dyed with cochineal to produce the deep burgundy red, coral and salmon pink (as the dye bath got weaker), onion skins, avocado stones, pomegranate and turmeric for the golden yellow, walnuts shells for the muted brown, log bark chips for the purple and indigo over-dyed yellow for the green. I've been experimenting with natural dyes of late, and, in truth, these colours were chosen from the kaleidoscope of what I had to hand. I passed a happy half hour playing around with the little hanks of wool in my stash to produce what I thought would be a pleasing combo of autumn colours. I'll be honest there wasn't  lot of science that went into the selection, and things got edited further as the cowl progressed. I hadn't, for instance, reckoned on including purple, but it quickly became apparent to me that if I used only my favourite fire colours the composition would look a bit flat without something from the opposite side of the colour wheel to spice it up a bit.

The finished cowl weighs 50.51g - so you'll need just over 50 g of wool in total to knit it. It's a project that you could knit up from oddments left over from sock-knitting. If you want to buy the wool for the purpose, you will do just fine with little 20g mini-hanks of each colour, and you will have loads left over for another creation when you're done.

I've used 3.25 mm needles, which have produced a tension in stocking stitch on the colourwork of 33stitches x 40 rows for 10 cm². The finished cowl measures 20cm long and 50 cm around. It is knit in the round.

Friday 31 August 2018

As summer draws to a close ...

I always come on-line round about now to complain about how I want summer to go on for ever. And I don't want it to end. But even I know that everything has its season, and this year we've had a pretty good run of summer. It's been fabulous: long and hot and sunny.

In these final days I've been busy with my needles, enjoying the cool of the evening breeze on my terrace as the children played in the garden below. I've finished the Fair Isle cowl that I'd been working on with my home-dyed yarn. Without any prompting from me, Emi (age 12) admired the colours, which made me feel good. He's not given to much comment where my knitting is concerned, so it's significant that he volunteered something positive.

Friday 24 August 2018

High Summer Makes

It's a strange experience knitting with wool on the Costa Brava in hot, steamy August, and then trying on your knitted whatsit, in the bright sunshine, all kitted out in your bathers. I'd say it's a bit surreal, but autumn is coming, and I know I'll be very grateful for my woolly whatsits in the fullness of time and in the depths of the autumn chills. That said my fingerless gloves with bikini combo was downright weird.

My neighbours think I'm a bit strange. Everyone else is lounging by the pool, or soaking up the rays on the beach or fingering their way through a dog-eared paperback whilst wallowing in the shallows. I'm reclining in the cool of the shade having a party all of my own, knitting and sewing with headphones on listening to "The Prisoners of Geography", an interesting take on geopolitics, and how everything is the shape it is because of geography. This is the life!

I've been working on a design for my guests in October. Our project is going to be all about colour-work. This autumn I've got big ambitions to design a Fair Isle jumper that will channel my inner land girl from the 1940s. I'm thinking of lots of autumn golds and russets and browns; fiery earth colours.

Here's my project palate, which is all 4 ply merino that I've dyed myself from natural dyes.

I've found a great pattern book by Mary Jane Mucklestone, which is full of colourful inspiration. I've also found a great programme on the internet called StitchFiddle, which is fabulous for designing your own cross stitch and Fair Isle patterns. I had been using another quite expensive design software (which I won't name in case they sue me), but I think StitchFiddle is much better. The other (nameless) software kept needing upgrades, for which you needed to remember a lot of abstract details from when you subscribed, which made the whole process feel like it was just too much trouble to be bothered with.

I've stitched together a little cushion from the last cactus design that I stitched, and its been trimmed  with a really joyful turquoise trim. If the WonderDog were a better behaved animal I would use it as a scatter cushion on the sofa, but, despite being five years of age, the WonderDog still likes to chew things with the result that much of what I possess has frayed edges and comes emblazoned with teeth marks.

I found a lovely suedette/ faux suede upholstery-weight fabric on-line in the Yorkshire Fabric Shop, which I've used as a backing. They send out samples before you commit to purchase a serious length of anything. In fact I used the sample that they sent to back a couple of the little key-rings (also photographed above). It's a really opulent, chic fabric and I've got big plans for a whole set of cactus-inspired cross stitch cushions all backed in this marvelous faux suede.

I'm tempted to swap cacti for boats as my go-to design fetish. Down in the town they've decorated the streets for summer. One street is shaded by the most colourful parasols ever, all suspended in the air. Another has an armada of little boat kites, which bob up and down with the wind.

Anyway, Happy Friday, and all the best for the weekend,

Bonny x

Friday 10 August 2018

What the Dickens ?

The other day we trooped along to the Espai Carmen Thyssen in the Monastery here in (very) sunny Sant Feliu. We love our monastery, and support all the events that they host there. Every year the lovely Baroness Thyssen brings a selection of paintings out of the Thyssen vaults for a specially curated exhibition - just for us. These exhibitions take a theme and use the art from their extensive collection to narrate and explore it. One year they chose the exploration of the West (think USA), and told that story from a Spanish perspective, which was really interesting for someone brought up with an English-speaker's bias, who had always thought in terms of her cousins across the pond. This year the theme is the evolution of landscape painting, which is also interesting in its own right, and includes a healthy amount of local art.

Having looked around the landscape exhibition one of the attendants told us to pop upstairs to the Pepa Poch exhibition. I'll be honest: I'd never heard of Pepa Poch before.

Thursday 9 August 2018

Knitting on the Bias - a short guide to everything you need to know ...

What could be nicer for late summer or early autumn than a swishy scarf, knit on the bias for extra swing? - Something just perfect for wrapping up a little in the evenings when the sun sinks, and things start to cool down just a little.

Read on for our all-you-need-to-know guide and pattern for creating a great patchwork scarf knit in triangles to devour left-over yarn from your stash.

Friday 3 August 2018

Woolly All Sorts

Gosh it feels like it's been a very l-o-n-g hot summer, and we're only just into August. My garden has taken on a sub-Saharan vibe. Parched would just about sum things up right now, and with the mercury pushing up into the 30s here in London it's been hard to muster huge enthusiasm for all things woolly.

But I have been playing with some neutral dye baths to make contrasts so that my brighter colours will pop. I'd saved up a huge consignment of dried onion skins, avocado skins and stones and pomegranate skins that went into the pot last week. I added a little turmeric for golden sunshine, and came up with a very pleasing Hermes mustard yellow. And just as the bath was beginning to weaken I brewed up some walnut shells and threw them into the mix,  turning my mustard yellow into a warm, unctuous chocolate meets golden treacle colour. Would you believe me if I said I was on a strict no-sugar/ no starch diet? 😶

Anyway, banishing all thoughts of forbidden delights like sticky toffee pudding, chocolate ganache and the like ... here's what I came up with:

Sunday 8 July 2018

Super Easy Curly Wurly Scarf

Are you looking for an easy, lazy knit for working on in the shade of a parasol during this glorious heat-wave? Well, I may just have the thing for you.

I recently put this pattern together for my lovely guests on the Spring Colours tour to the sunny Costa Brava. Knit with our own, double knitting weight variegated bamboo yarn, there's enough interest in the colour work of they yarn to sustain a fairly simple pattern. It made for a relaxed project for guests to work on without having to think too much about what came next, which was all the better for shooting the breeze and chilling out.

It's a really, really easy knit, worked in double knitting on 3.75 mm needles (UK size 9, US size 5). In garter stitch it knits to a tension of 20 stitches x 30 rows for a 10 cm square. To make a scarf that measures a very generous 158 cm you will need 3 balls of 50 g bamboo.

Sunday 1 July 2018

Ivy leaf wool wash

OK ... you're thinking. She's finally lost the plot. The sun has addled her brain.

But bear with me. There's been a lot written across the internet recently about how you can use ivy leaves as a wool detergent. With all this warm weather I don't have much need of my woollies, so it seemed the perfect time to get things laundered and try out this crazy idea.

I went off into the wilder reaches of the garden and gathered myself a big bowl of ivy leaves, which I washed under the tap to rid them of their cobwebs and dust. Next I tied the leaves in an old T-towel so that they wouldn't escape and mess around with the inner workings of my washing machine. I placed my trial woolly jumper in a mesh wash bag, and placed it in the machine along with the bundle of leaves and popped them on the wool-wash cycle.

Friday 29 June 2018

Happy Hens ...

A big "thank you" to the lovely hens I hosted earlier in the week for a crafting hen party. It was hot, it was sunny and there were cacti everywhere!

We made bags, we made key fobs, we knit a scarf - for some of us, it was a first scarf ever. Hope the big day is everything you dreamed of, Amelia, and all the best for a crafty ever-after,

Bonny x

Sunday 24 June 2018

Provisional cast-on - crochet methods

I was recently asked to demonstrate how I went about doing a provisional cast-on. I have 2 methods, both using a simple crochet chain, and, truth be told, they amount to pretty much the same thing. The cast-on in crochet is essentially a disposable beginning, which in both cases can be ripped back to expose a second line of live stitches so that you can do a knit-down finishing or some other join in your knitting.

Monday 18 June 2018

Lazy summer evenings ...

Sometimes in the middle of London on a balmy summer evening it's hard to believe that you're in the metropolis. Those precious pockets of green that are so liberally dispersed across the city have a way of lulling you into believing that you're somewhere else - somewhere peaceful and calm and serene. This was Ealing Common the other evening as the WonderDog and I were going for a postprandial stroll. If you closed your ears to the roar of traffic on the A406, you could almost believe you were in the countryside.

All the best,

Bonny x

Friday 15 June 2018

Hagseed and Cacti

My homage to the cactus is born of the fact that it's the only houseplant that I can reliably grow. I'm so not a houseplant person: I totally lack the constancy. I'm here today, gone tomorrow and when I get back a few days after that every plant in the house has given up the ghost and gone off to live in the great green plant heaven of the ever-after. Every plant that is with the exception of my valiant cacti. Cacti and I can be relied upon to get along splendidly together. They generally survive and flourish in the barren desert of my care regime.

Wednesday 13 June 2018

Sew Sunday ...

I'm enjoying a lot of peace and quiet at the moment, perhaps rather more peace and quiet than I'm totally comfortable with. By some strange alignment of the stars Mr B and the child are both away: Mr B is the Far East with work, and Emi is in Wales on a geography trip. So it's just me and the WonderDog holding the fort.

I enjoyed it enormously for the first day or two. Whaow! I got so much done ... but now I'm finding excuses to go and visit people. I've had enough of my own company.

On Sunday we had a glorious day here in London: all blue skies and sunshine. I devoted my afternoon to sewing peacefully on the terrace.

Sunday 10 June 2018

Iced T

I've come over all summery: my drink of choice in these balmy days of early summer is iced tea. I'm normally a builder's brew type of girl, who occasionally pushes the boat out with an exotic cardamon tea from the Turkish grocery shop. But these days I'm brewing tisanes to chill in the fridge and serve over ice in tall glasses.

Tuesday 5 June 2018

A big "thank you" ...

... to the lovely guests who came for our May Spring Colours holiday. Come rain or come shine, you were terrific!

Friday 18 May 2018

Hey Duckie ...

I've been meaning to write up the pattern for this little guy for a-g-e-s, and with one thing and another I have procrastinated so that he's remained an undocumented doodle in my notebook.

Anyway, here he sharing his spring-time glory with the buttercups.

If you'd like to make him, just read on for the pattern.

Thursday 10 May 2018

Horse Chestnuts in May

Ealing Common

Right now I am in thrall to the horse chestnut trees. All across West London they are in bloom, and the air is heavy with their scent. They are life-affirmingly gorgeous - unless of course you suffer from hay fever, in which case you'd probably vote to have them all chopped down overnight.

Wednesday 2 May 2018

The big yellows ...

 Okay. I am now officially fed up with the weather. It feels more like February than May here in London. And in my book that's bad - really, really bad. 😣

So morose did the weather make me feel today that I went burrowing into my photo archive for solace. And that's where the big yellows came in ...

Tuesday 1 May 2018

London in the rain ...

I had to go into town for a meeting on Friday, and it was soooo cold and grey and miserable that I almost couldn't get excited about the view from the 32nd floor.

Am I the only person feeling slightly bereaved by the disappearance of spring?

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Saturday 21 April 2018

Spring has (finally) arrived ...

Gosh it's good when spring finally shows up. The skies are blue, the sun is shining and everywhere there's a riot of colour. This has got to be the very best time of the year: fresh young green leaves unfurling with the promise of wonderful balmy summer days to come. Bring it on!


Bonny x

Monday 16 April 2018

Sea gulls ...

The WonderDog and I have just been out for a wander along the cliff tops. I've been rather busy over the weekend with lots of people coming and going, so it was my first opportunity in quite a while to just be alone with my thoughts.

Friday 13 April 2018

From indoor rain to Macbeth ...

It's been a funny old time out here on the (not-so) sunny Costa Brava. We've had the very worst weather imaginable.

On Tuesday night it rained cats and dogs. Curled up in bed I was vaguely aware that there was a storm kicking up a hullabaloo outside. But you know that nice, cosy feeling you get when it's miserable outdoors and you have the luxury of not having to go anywhere ... well, I had that in spadefuls. I very happily went back to sleep and thought no more about it.

Fast forward to the following morning when I stepped into ankle deep water in my dining room, and it was another story. A river ran down the staircase from upstairs and the rain was still falling outside ... .

Monday 2 April 2018

Easter Monday ...

Easter has been crazy busy here in sunny Sant Feliu de Guíxols. The town has filled up with a host of people. Car parks have filled. Restaurants have been fully booked and everywhere we've gone there have been loads and loads and loads of people. The weather has behaved. It's been coolish at night, but glorious during the day: full-on, big sun, blue sky weather.

Thursday 29 March 2018

Happy Easter 🐣

I'm celebrating Easter with great big bucketfuls of compost. It's an unusual way to go I know. But here's the thing: it's the first time I've ever successfully cooked up compost in my back yard, so for me it's a really big deal.

Friday 23 March 2018

Follow someone you disagree with ...

Last night Mr B and I went to an Intelligence Squared debate about Brexit. Stop Brexit! shouted the motion, supported by Gina Miller and Labour's Chuka Umunna. Arguing against, and in support of speeding ahead with Brexit, were Gerard Lyons, the economist and one-time advisor to Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London, and Isabel Oakeshott, author of the David Cameron biography, Call me Dave, and the inside account of the Leave Campaign, The Bad Boys of Brexit.

Needless to say, playing in front of a London crowd, the pro-Brexit speakers had a pretty rough ride, and there were points in the proceedings where I felt that the issues were being unnecessarily and unpleasantly personalised. I don't want to argue the case for or against Brexit. I have views, but this is not a political blog. That said there's nothing quite like Brexit to raise the heckles, and Isabel Oakeshott's attempt to inject a little levity into her speech was probably misjudged given the strength of feeling in the room. Whilst she argued her articulately, and I'm sure she meant no disrespect to anyone in the room, anecdotes about how, back in June 2016, she almost named her new puppy Brexit didn't go down well.

In the course of proceedings (the totally wonderful) Nick Robinson who was chairing the debate asked us, the audience, whether we followed anyone on social media who disagreed with our own views on Brexit. It was amazing. Almost no one did.

At the risk of being accused of a stealth boast: I do very much buck that trend in that I have friends who are pro and others who are against. Perhaps it's because of my non-sectarian interest in knitting, which brings me into contact with loads of wonderful people up and down the country who are economically and culturally diverse. But I was very much the exception. Sitting there in the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster the evidence of multiple Facebook bubbles was irrefutable, and just a little bit frightening.

If there's one thing I've learnt it's that life is complicated, and rarely are issues like Brexit capable of being reduced to a black and white binary analysis of what's right and what's wrong. There are valid arguments for and against, and it's healthy for those points to be debated in a polite and open-minded way. But here's the rub: we can't be open-minded if we're only listening to one side of the argument. Somewhere, lost amongst the ranks of the twitter bots and the internet trolls, we appear to have lost a little of that good-mannered inclination to listen to the other guy's point of view.  And that's dangerous in the current climate where social media plays out on emotion rather than on a dispassionate analysis of the facts.

So, in the interests of independent thinking and bucking the trend, perhaps we should accept Nick Robinson's advice and make a point of following someone that we do NOT agree with. Perhaps we'll still hold the same position on the issues that matter to us, but at the very least we'll do so in the knowledge that we haven't been manipulated into that view by social media.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Not entirely on point, but in his incisive book WTF (also on the subject of Brexit) Robert Peston devotes a whole chapter (3) to the subject of how emotion plays out on social media. And this is what he has to say about playing to the emotions for click bait:

But social media as the empire of emotions and feelings is dangerous for journalism, and for democracy. I have spent my entire working life striving never to be a propagandist, to try to shine a bright light on power and let people make up their own minds about it. But if nobody cares unless I inject my own pain into my reporting of what is going on - well, that is a big problem, because if I faithfully followed the diktats of the new social media market, my journalism would necessarily become much more skewed and tendentious. 
I would look only for stories that make me cry or laugh, which would mean ignoring huge acres of the important news landscape.  ... I would abandon all my training to see both sides of a story and present the fairest picture. I would become more pamphleteer than journalist, but with the ability to insinuate myself into every home. This is not a notional risk. The ecosystem of digital media is driving journalism in this pernicious direction - because that is where the clicks and views are to be found, and the money can be made. 

Friday 16 March 2018

Ginger Nuts ...

The other day in the freezing weather I developed in itch for Ginger Nuts. My grandma used to love Ginger Nuts. They were her all-time, best-of-the-best, favourite biscuits. She'd dunk them in her tea to soften them up a bit, and to flavour the brew with their wonderful gingeriness, and all the while she'd offer careful advice about not leaving them in too long; that was the way to a horrible messy sludge in the bottom of the cup. Hot, steaming tea, the colour of creosote, and carefully dunked Ginger Nuts became a little afternoon ritual of ours. And in the cold, with hostile grey skies and nowhere to go, I had to scratch the itch. And so, I made these Ginger Nuts in honour of Granny J, because the truth is I think of her every time I eat one.

Just read on for my recipe:

Friday 9 March 2018

St. Patrick's Key Fob

Like just about every other Irish person I celebrate St. Patrick's Day with genuine gusto. It helps that it's such a big everyone's-invited kind of gig. For one day the whole world gets to be Irish, and I'm all for inclusivity. Let's build bridges instead of walls, and hold parties instead of wars. And if you can dance a jig or two, down a drop of the hard stuff and tell a few tall tales in our time-honoured national tradition, more power to you, I say.

The shamrock, symbol of my homeland, is one of my favourite motifs. So, inspired by St Patrick's Day, which is looming large on the near horizon I give you my latest creation, craftily made from left-over 4 ply from my Spidery Scarf, and, as such, another idea for using up your left-over sock wool.

Saturday 3 March 2018

Spidery Scarf

Here's a little something I've been working on for a-g-e-s - literally since forever. It's knit from the top centre out, adding stitches as you go, and, in the natural order of things, the rows accumulate more and more stitches. In the end I think I got a bit intimidated by just how many stitches that totalled up to. I'm a tidy knitter, who likes to finish the row she's working on before putting the needles down to go and attend to whatever emergency needs to be dealt with, but when you're wrangling 300+ stitches on a row that can mean a lot of missed telephone calls, postal deliveries and other deadlines. So I'd only start a row if I was totally sure that I'd have time to finish it. And, for someone who knits on the hoof, in between doing all the other things that have to get done every day, that became a major disincentive to doing anything. Anyway, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

I've knit this using own, hand-dyed 4 ply Merino on 3.25 mm needles. If you've got lots of left-over sock wool, you could think of knitting a stripy version to use up your left-overs. The purple trim on my scarf came courtesy of some left-over wool from my New Model Socks. I was worried about how far the green wool would go, and didn't want to play yarn chicken at the end, so I introduced the second colour-way to give me a little more security. Given how (very) many stitches I ended up with on each row I opted to use circular needles, knitting back and forth on the flat.

Just read on for the pattern:

Wednesday 28 February 2018

Knitted Narcissus ...

It's sooooo cold this week in London. And spring sunshine seems a lifetime away. But the daffodils are looking good for a whole lot of lovely sunny yellow cheerfulness in the very near future. I've been knitting my own narcissi here in the cosy snugness of my study to steal a march on old Mother Nature. And here they are:

If you'd like to knit some for yourself, just read on for the pattern.

Friday 23 February 2018

Kew Gardens Orchid Festival

The other day I toddled along to Kew Gardens with Jenny, one of my besties, to see the Kew Gardens Thai Orchid Festival. It was all her idea. Having grown up in Columbia she really knows her orchids, which is more than can be said for me. I'm more of an Ikea, bargain basement orchid grower - someone who should never be trusted with anything too precious or too delicate.

Monday 19 February 2018

Leek 'n' tattie soup ... the ultimate comfort food

Poor Emi has just gone Full Metal Jacket with the orthodontist, who has started to encase his teeth in metal braces. The poor lamb is still getting used to the sensation of having his pearly whites pulled into place to straighten his smile. I'm sure he'll thank us in the future, but right now he's got mixed feelings about the whole business.

So, to cheer him up, and give him some easy-to-chew chow whilst he's getting used to how his mouth has been re-configured, we're eating a lot of ... soup. One of my favourite go-to dishes in times of crisis and stress is Leek 'n' Tattie soup. It's comfort food on a spoon, and it's helped me to cope with many a black dog day. And, let's face it, with all this cold, grim weather, we could use a bit of comfort.

Just read on for the recipe.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Drifts of 'drops

Last weekend we went to visit our besties, P, A, S & A, down in lovely Dorset. Whilst the welcome was warm, the weather was cold. Really, really cold. But we didn't let that knock us off our stride. Bravely coated and firmly booted against the elements we went out on Snowdrop Patrol

Now I know that there are lots of superstition about snowdrops, and how it's unlucky to pick them and bring them indoors, but for me they're irresistible at this time of the year. Frankly I'm grateful for anything that's prepared to bloom outside, and turn muddy borders into drifts of elegant white. And that's exactly what they do down Dorset-way. As you drive along there are banks of wild snowdrops blossoming all over the shop. 

I have a sense that we're culturally prejudiced against them by dent of still being a bit too close to those soppy Victorians. They had a penchant for planting snowdrops on the graves of their loved ones, creating an association between the shroud-like blossoms and the grim reaper. I know we're in the 21st century, and all that, but we're not that many generations removed from those tender souls who now lie in the churchyards that they once tended. Think about it: lots of grandmas and grandpas alive today can boast of having had a grandma and/ or a grandpa who was a Victorian. And, as a result of that generational proximity, there's probably still a residue of Snowdrop prejudice in our contemporary folklore. I mean, how many people do you know, who will not, under any circumstances, bring snowdrops indoors as cut flowers?

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Pink hearts and lavender sachets ...

Are you in the mood for lurve, or do you just like to self-indulge in pink hearts and lavender. I don't need much encouragement to doodle in yarn. And with St Valentine's Day just around the corner I'm having a little play to keep myself entertained. How do you like my lavender sachet?

Just read on for the instructions. 

Sunday 4 February 2018

Candlemas Day ... so how did it work out for you?

Friday was Candlemas Day, the day on which the faithful traditionally celebrated the churching of the Virgin after the Holy Birth. It seems a strange thing to celebrate these days, but it was the occasion for a special mass preceded by a candlelit procession, which would have been a pretty spectacle back in the day. And, of course, snow drops were taken as Candlemas Bells, their whiteness resonating with the theme of the festival. And anything that focuses on a beautiful bloom in the grey of winter is an attractive proposition in my book.

There was also an old tradition that if the weather on Candlemas Day be bright and fair, it meant (perhaps counter-intuitively) that winter's grip had not yet weakened. If on, the other hand it was grey and cloudy, it signified that half o' winter's gone at Yule. That was to say, that the better part of the winter was spent, and spring was just around the corner.

Thursday 1 February 2018

Blue Moon ... Super Moon

Last time we had a super moon - a few weeks' ago - I bemoaned the cloud cover. It was supposed to be a totally spectacular thing, but, here in London, we had one hundred per cent cloud cover, so it was an epic fail. We saw nothing - a big fat nada.

Monday 29 January 2018

Crocus love ...

On Sunday morning the weather was mild and grey. Not a totally inspiring combo I admit, but we felt a collective urge to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, so we headed over to Ham House in Richmond. And there, in the gardens, I came upon a lovely chorus of crocus (if that's not the proper collective noun, it really ought to be). They stood cheerfully beneath the bare limbs of the trees spreading colour and the promise of spring through the flower beds.