Friday 30 September 2016

Is it going to be worth it?

It's the dratted yarn for the dratted pattern that I really, really, really want to try.

The pattern calls for 5 x 100g balls of colour A, 4 x 100g balls of colour B and 3 x 100g balls of colour C all in Rowan Big Wool.  That's 12 balls of yarn which are being sold by Deramores (who are known for their competitive prices) at £9.29 a ball.  That's a total of £111.48.  Rowan Big Wool is 100% merino wool, 80 yards, 100g, recommended needle 10mm, and in a range of delicious colours.  The link is here

When looking at the yarn that I'm using for a current project, I found this.  It is Marriners Super Chunky, 100% acrylic, 80 yards, 100g, recommended needle 10mm and in a range of very pleasant colours.  It is only £1.00 for a 100g ball.  That would make the cost of the yarn for the jacket £12.

A jacket that costs £111.48 is a luxury and an indulgence.  A jacket that costs £12 is a reasonable purchase and could be cost effective.  Besides, Rowan Big Wool is probably warmer and softer, but it is hand wash only according to Rowan.

I'll see how I feel when I've finished the current stuff.

The covers have come through for the Forgotten Village and Digging up the Past.  I've finished editing them, added the covers and now I am waiting on Smashwords and Amazon to finish going through them.  I'm keeping everything crossed for Smashwords accepting an amended manuscript.

Here's the new cover for the Forgotten Village

And here is the cover for Digging up the Past, which is much improved.

The covers are by Melissa Alvarez who is awesome!

As soon as the books have passed through Smashwords I'll put up a code for Digging up the Past so people who have previously bought it can get a decent copy.

And all that done mainly without glasses as they currently hurt my nose.  I think it's going to be an interesting few days.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

One Thing Leads to Another

Bear is watching the Victorian Pharmacy and interrupting me with snippets like, 'did you know that they put arsenic in cough medicine?'

Regarding one thing leading to another, it goes like this.  Someone has very kindly agreed to do a review of my writing.  I feel totally giddy.  Then I realise that I could do with putting on the actual professional type covers on the Forgotten Village and Digging up the Past.  I'll also have to republish them even if it's only to update the copyright to include the copyright of the covers.

I dip into Digging up the Past.  I needed to re-read as I needed a name from the book  that I'd forgotten to put into my character list.  I read it all the way through.  I was disappointed.  I still like the plot but it needs some serious editing.  I am considering practically re-writing it so that it's in English this time.

This is not fishing for compliments.  This is a cold eyed look at how I need to do better.

I am off to edit.  I may be some time.  However to play fair, once it is back up I will give out a code so that anyone who has already bought can get a free copy of the corrected one with the fancy cover.

So if there is a gap in my posts of a few days, don't worry.  I won't let bear practise nineteenth century medicine on me.  I'll just be up to my eyebrows in editing.

Bear and Birds

Bear is fascinated by the Victorian Farm series.  He has watched it all the way through and I'm sure I will hear plenty about it.  I've suggested he watches the Wartime Farm next, which is the same people running a farm as they would during WWII as bear is doing WWII as a topic in school.  Bear is more keen to watch the Victorian Pharmacy, again by the same people, where they demonstrate the workings of a nineteenth century pharmacy and some of the remedies that they created.  I'm trying to remember what some of the old remedies contained.  I think I'll encourage bear to keep it to theory only.  It's not that long ago they stopped putting gin in gripe water for babies and they sold arsenic by the pound.

Bear may be fascinated by the Victorian Farm series, but in real life he is not keen on farm animals.  Deep down, he's a city boy.  When he was very little and in a push chair, so perhaps eighteen months, we took him to Temple Newsam Farm.  We pushed him past some hens.  They had all sorts of different varieties, and it included one very assertive cockerel that was about the size of bear at the time who got up close and personal to the fence and crowed as loud as it could at bear through the wire.  Bear didn't cry, but he wasn't keen at all and his look was a very clear, 'get me out of here, mother!'  I think he would agree with you, Jake's Girl, that hens are best left alone.  He also has a healthy respect for geese which also wander at Temple Newsam.  Mind you, anyone with sense stays away from geese.

Monday 26 September 2016

Normal for Here

Bear is currently watching a DVD of the Victorian Farm with me.  For those who haven't seen it, it's a reconstruction of a year working a farm in the way of the 1880s by two archeologists and a domestic historian.  It's very interesting,   Bear assured me that with a bit of help and support of the professionals he could easily manage all that.  Having seen him at Temple Newsam Farm and the wide berth he gives the chickens, I doubt it, but I nodded, smiled and murmured encouragingly.

I'm still sore, so I've done a lot of internet browsing and finished the back of the sweater.  I don't think it will take the 250g it would take if it used the correct yarn, but I think it will be around 400g, which is still pretty awesome, bringing it in @£6.  That is still cheaper than buying a store made sweater, though it will be quite lightweight.

We are currently inundated with the little fruit flies that came in with the potting compost when I potted up Dilly and Dally.  DH told me proudly that he had researched it on the internet and that he was setting traps with cider vinegar and washing up liquid or dish soap.  I asked if it was the same method that I had referred to in 'Dinner at Dark' and he admitted he had forgotten about that.  It didn't work so well earlier in the summer, but fingers crossed it will be okay this time.

I'm putting the cover photo up again because I am still very giddy at having a professional cover!  I don't think I'll ever get tired of looking at it.

Sunday 25 September 2016

Knitting Happens

I was doing really well.  I have done the back, left front, right front and both sleeves of the jacket.  Now it came to sewing up the shoulders and picking up 302 stitches.  I can't bend over.  I need to be careful.  Laying out the dratted thing and finding the wool needles and picking up the bit I've dropped are all a challenge.  Any attempt to bend over has not felt good.  I gave up and started something else until at least the stitches are out.

I had 600g of yarn that I had changed my mind about, so I had been looking around for a different pattern for a sweater that would fit me and would also use minimal yarn.  I found this.

According to the pattern it only needs around 250g.  Mind you, that's Rico Creative (currently @ £2.99 for 50g at Amazon, so @ £15 to knit).  Apparently Rico Creative knits as DK.  I have 600g of DK waiting to be used, in 100g balls, at £1.50 per pall, so @ £4.50 to knit.  It's Marriners Metro, like this

So far it's okay.  I'm around 8 inches up the back and haven't finished half a ball yet.  It's knitted on 6.5mm needles (US 10.5, I think, and DK is worsted weight) which makes the yarn go further, it's plain stocking stitch, no ribbing at the bottom or anything, and there is minimal shaping.  I'm waiting to see how it goes, as Rico Creative looks awesome but fine and fluffy.  I've had some 'fine and fluffy' moments when the dratted yarn slipped off the dratted needles but it's easy enough to rattle off while watching TV.  What is more, the cowl neck is sewn on without picking up stitches which sounds like heaven.  

If this works out then it could be the first sweater in ages that I've found that is actually less expensive to knit than buy.  However time will tell.  

I get the stitches out on Thursday.  I am hopeful that I will then go back to the jacket and finish it off. 

Saturday 24 September 2016

Must Ration Bear's TV

I am a very slack parent.  Some things I am very rigid on.  Bear is used to me being uber tough about homework and teeth brushing.  However as long as it is age appropriate then I'm incredibly lax about screen time.

It has its benefits.  Bear has a remarkable grasp of all sorts of science and maths stuff thanks to YouTube.  It has got him passionate about football, and he plays in the street most days.  I keep a close eye on content.  It is tv that has always been the problem.

I'm still stuck with the problems that were caused by allowing DH and bear to watch The Great British Sewing Bee.  I am also stuck with bear's projects after watching Art Attack.  He hasn't been too bad when it comes to the Great British Bake Off but watching Eat Well for Less has caused an increase in badly chopped vegetables.  Bear even went with DH to Aldi and insisted on getting two different types of chopped tomatoes among the shopping to see which one was better.

I'm feeling low.  My nose hurts.  I'm not allowed to bend down.  Have you ever tried not bending down?  I'm groping and patting around all sorts of places to find things I've dropped.  As a therapy I've been watching the Victorian Kitchen Garden on DVD.  Bear was just passing.  'Why don't we start growing all the fruit and veg we need?' he asked.  The simple answer is that I am a bad and lazy gardener with a garden smaller than some American cars.  I suggested that we grew some salad next year.  This was not enough for bear.  He wants to grow rhubarb.  It's not impossible to grow rhubarb, and I'm not against it in principle, but DH isn't a huge fan, bear says he likes it, but he's said that before and I can take it or leave it.  Apparently it needs a year before you can start picking it as well.  I'm holding out on that one.

Fortunately bear has shown no interest in Strictly Come Dancing.

Thursday 22 September 2016

I Confess...

Today is not my birthday.  It's one of the weird 'little ways' that I stick to.  It isn't hard to work out where I live or a lot of my background - but I hold on to the secrecy of my birthday as if it was a state secret.  So I am sorry if I have got birthday wishes under false pretences.

They are gratefully received, though, as I am feeling rough and achey today.  A very kind neighbour took bear to school and brought him home.  My nose is covered with a bloodstained dressing and some stitches are showing - not really leisure wear for the school playground.

On the bright side, I'm whizzing up the second sleeve.  I hope to reach the frill by Monday.  That's when it will get interesting!

Wednesday 21 September 2016


It could have gone worse but it could have gone a lot better.

Bear can't look at me, he says he feels sick.

Other than that - things could be worse.  But I will be glad when it's all settled down.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Just Passing Through

That's what I'm trying to stick to.

You see, there has been huge amounts of drama since Friday - swathes of it.  The police have visited the street on a regular basis and there have been lots of ladies (including me) standing with their arms folded during a low toned gossip.  I've been very much on the edge of it.  The police have not needed to even knock on my door.  However there has been a lot of tension.

I could write all the juicy details.  I've picked up plenty from the other neighbours and I've seen more.  Part of me can't help but make a massive story out of things, shifting the focus to this and picking out the details of that for the best effect.  If it was a story it would have been very satisfying.  But it isn't a story.  Some people have just gone through an incredibly tough time in their lives.  Anyone who wants to find me can - I'm not very good at hiding.  I can't air someone else's dirty linen.

On the other hand, it's been all drama.  Bear hasn't been able to play football and I've stalled on the garden.  We have had to have plans to get back into the house safely after school pick up and while bear was very keen to act very much the protector, it was hard on a nine year old.

So there's nothing really to say except I've finished the first sleeve on the jacket, started the second, I'm optimistic I'll finish in the next ten days and I go in for my very minor operation tomorrow.

Friday 16 September 2016

Random Thoughts

I've had one of those days when my thoughts were less focused than usual.  I'd read something about someone making hot chili jam.  I thought it sounded nice.

I've never made hot chili jam.  I tried to do apple and mint jelly once, but I let the stewed apple drip through overnight next to a dehumidifier.  I didn't get much  juice.  I could probably find a nice hot chili jam recipe, but I wouldn't eat it, bear wouldn't eat it and the odds are that DH would forget.  I've just thrown out a few jars of neglected condiments, including the mint sauce that he has repeatedly said he adores.  He does love it.  I've seen what he puts it on.  He just forgets.  

I once made some rather pleasant gooseberry jam when I was unexpectedly given gooseberries.  The set was a little weak, but it was perfectly fine on toast.  I don't like jam much.  It was before bear was born and DH didn't really bother.  It ended up in the bin.  It is only bear that likes jam, really, and as he goes for weeks between deciding that he needs jam on toast I now get the expensive individual portions so I don't end up using a jar twice before it grows fur and has to be thrown out.

Then I remembered the time I tried to make home made ginger beer.  It sounds great.  It sounds like the sort of thing everyone raves about and how it's so much nicer than bought.  Mine wasn't, it was too hot.  Ginger is incredibly spicy in concentration, and I don't like very hot spices.  Not only that, but I made too much.  The recipe was for gallons of the stuff, and I followed the instructions, put the dratted stuff into old plastic pop bottles and we didn't drink it very fast.  Not only that, but as it used yeast, it carried on fermenting.  It was starting to get unreliably alcoholic.  I understand that natural fermentation stops at around 14% alcohol, but I wasn't sure that I wanted any alcohol at all.  Then I thought about pressure building up from the fermentation and even though I had reused fizzy drink bottles because I thought they were designed to withstand pressure, I thought I had better check.  So I opened the first bottle and the froth just fountained up.  It just kept coming and coming.  It wasn't like a carbonated drink where the gas just goes, it just went on and on and on and the kitchen smelt, well, like lots of fresh ginger and lemon and I was wiping sticky stuff for hours.  It wasn't just all over the floor and counters, it managed to work it's way into all sorts of cracks so I had to pull out the washing machine and I also had to wipe it off the ceiling. 

DH and bear both prefer processed white bread.

My last attempt at biscuits was an epic fail, though I could have kept them for next time I need gravel.  

Bear and DH both utterly reject sweaters.  I could knit as many as I liked for them, they would stay in the cupboard.  I am still scared of the sewing machine.

I'm coming to the bitter realisation that I'm not cut out to make a handmade home.  

Thursday 15 September 2016


I feel so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open.  I haven't even had much of a day to show for it.  I'd not thought things through with my last order so DH and I had chilli con charlie while bear had what I hoped would be a nice treat for him - fish pie ready meal.  Bear really loves his fish.

The pie stunk.  I had to empty the kitchen bin to get the smell out.  Bear utterly rejected it.  He didn't want anything else, either.  To be honest, bear is shattered.  He is tired with school and I suspect he is coming down with something green nosed and disgusting.  The weather is taking it out of us as well.  It is too hot.

At least it is a new day tomorrow.

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Just passing through

All is normal here.  In fact it's actually quite dull.  I am savouring it.

Bear was tired after football so just hung out watching strange YouTube videos.  I have done the back, right front and left front of the jacket and have started on the first sleeve.  I am relatively confident that I will finish it by the end of the month.

Things could be a lot worse,

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Bears will be Bears

I haven't yet asked bear exactly why, when he got the plug jammed in the bathroom sink and broke the chain, he didn't let me know.  I don't expect a straight answer.

This morning, around 7.30am, bear handed me a sheaf of paper saying that these were Important Letters from School and had to be dealt with straight away.  One was a waiver so that the school could use photos of the children attending, one was a letter with the rules of computer use that the parents had to agree to enforce and one was a flyer for a football course.  I suspect I should have checked on Friday.

Bear really, really, really wanted to be on the football course.  If I hadn't signed him up it would have been the end of the world.  I remembered v clearly how awful he had been last time but this time DH would be taking him in the car.  I signed it.  Then I realised that the first session was tonight and I had to scramble for kit for him.  He had an awesome time and can't wait to go next week.

He was in the sports hall for the most spectacular storm I have seen in years.  Perhaps it was just as well as he isn't a fan, but I feel a lot better now.

Monday 12 September 2016


Bear has homework once a week.  Every Friday he gets English and Maths homework and it is due in every Wednesday, although this year there are team points if he gets it in on Monday.  It isn't much, a few bits of sums and a paragraph or so.  Bear makes the most of it, though, and such a small amount can generate great swathes of drama.

Every Friday the homework wars start.  The utter exhaustion bear can display when asked to Write About What he Did in the Holidays is beyond belief, especially as he is usually up for football instead.  If I mention 'homework' then bear loses all bones in his body and collapses in a pitiful heap in front of YouTube.  If I mention 'Park and Football' then bear bounces out with enough energy to power the city.  We argue, negotiate and I get close to losing my temper (bear often does) for quite often hours over the weekend.  Then bear does his homework in five minutes and gets good marks.

He has two years before he gets to High School, this year and next year.  All the possible High Schools are really, really keen on lots of homework, hours of it every night.  I'm never going to survive.

Bear finished his English homework this morning as bear wakes up really quickly and usually really early so he'll get points for that.  He couldn't do the maths homework as it is online and his log in didn't work.  Apparently he can deal with school about it, and I'm letting him.  I'm sure I'll find out if there are any problems.

Sunday 11 September 2016


I went to Wetherby yesterday.  I was supposed to be going to a museum thingy 2.8 miles away according to Google maps.  Instead I sort of went to Otley which is14.7 miles according to Google maps but I went on a bus which went the long way round.  I had a pootle around some of the shops, but it is a market town on a Saturday afternoon and everything was shutting.  I picked up a few second hand railway magazines for uncle and a second hand book for bear.  I also picked up a magic eraser type thing that I had been looking for as I have heard they can work wonders.  I was going to get the bus back to Leeds but a bus came in for Tadcaster.  I only went as far as Wetherby, and as far as I can tell it was around 18 miles the way the bus went - it was one of the rural services and stopped at lampposts.

I liked Wetherby.  It's an old coaching town on the road from London to York.  There is an eighteenth century coaching inn, The Angel there that, according to the plaque, had stabling for 100 horses.  However the Crown was a lot easier to photograph

The weather wasn't brilliant and it really shows on the picture I took of the weir

But it looks like there is worse weather sometimes.  It must have been quite a storm that sent this lot down

Though the rest of the river looks pretty good.

Then I came home on the bus - as far as I can tell, using Google maps and best guess, another 15 miles.  I had a great time!

Today I went to a very interesting talk at Leeds Minster about Rev Hook and stayed for Evensong.

Next weekend I should probably stay in a bit.

Friday 9 September 2016

End of the Week

Bear is exhausted so we had a right moan about the whole concept of homework.  He has his first piano lesson after the summer break and I think his tutor is going to be unimpressed.

Bear is not the only one.  I have a vile sore throat and I ache.  I asked for the operation to be postponed.  The rodent ulcer is a very mild, very non threatening form of cancer but it is getting bigger and I want it sorted!  Hopefully it will be dealt with before Halloween.

I have two trays of winter pansies booked for Tuesday and not much fit in the garden so I've had to get a wiggle on.  I've cut back some stuff and pulled up other stuff, but there's a lot more to do.  To say it's only a tiny patch, I'm not very good at keeping up to it.

btw can I mention Sporcle.  It is a site where they have quizzes.  I have found the embarrassing gaps and holes in what I know, especially films or tv.  However I am learning all sorts as a by product and can now spell Kyrgyzstan even if I can't find it on a map (somewhere in the middle of Asia, south of Russia and north of India - I looked it up).  I've taken screen shots of the quizzes about the most popular girls and boys names of particular times as I usually get around twenty out of 400 and I need the inspiration for the writing.  It's good to get the brain going!

Thursday 8 September 2016


I managed to get to church today.  I went to Leeds Minster.  They were happy to let me take pictures.  Leeds Minster was built in the 1840s in the Victorian Gothic style.  I had a look around before the service.

Apparently I missed a flower festival last weekend and these were one of the highlights.  They looked amazing.

The stained glass is glorious, so I did my best with my camera phone.

It is so stately.

What makes it even better is that the vicar who had this church built, Dr Hook, took over at a time when the Church of England had been failing the new urban centres that grew up during the Industrial Revolution and he had the motto of 'A pastor for every poor man and a school for every poor child.'  Leeds goes back to Roman times but really only grew in the 18th and 19th century.  Dr Hook really did his best in tough circumstances.  He built a working church.

The bit I liked best was the service.

Then I wandered through the market and picked up some fresh fruit and veggies and wandered home in time to pick up bear.

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Bear is in Big Trouble

Yesterday bear wore a new, white shirt for the first time.  This morning I realised it had been discarded in the depths under his desk and looked like this.

I'm not sure I'll ever get it fit again.  Bear also managed to cause havoc with his laces in his new school shoes just before we left the house and lose his coat.  I also had to ask him to wash his face properly this time.  It's as if we hadn't had a break!

Bless - I am very impressed that you could even put any sort of name to the fungus.  I think it just looks like autumn to me.

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Bear is Back at School

He looks so grown up now and so different from the baby that went to school five years ago.  Now he and his pals look so grown up.

It feels like autumn is starting.  Here is a pic of the apple tree with two types of fruit.

I enjoy looking out for it now that I've seen it.  It definitely looks like an eating apple right in the middle of the crab apples.

I also saw this next to the bus stop on the busy main road.

I know it's some type of fungus, but no idea what type.  I does look very autumnal.

I had a potter around Leeds, dropped a donation off at the Food Bank and now I am wondering where to start before bear gets home.  I miss him.

Monday 5 September 2016

The Day Before School

Bear has clean and ironed clothes and his school kit is carefully packed.  I've put his dinner money for the half term in his newly washed book bag.  I was surprised that it went through the washer okay, but it will be getting washed on a far more regular basis now I know that it's safe.  Bear has been watching tv for most of the day before going out with one of his pals to hurtle round the park.  He will need to be scraped off in the shower.

I have a sore throat, my ears hurt, my nose itches and I keep sneezing.  I feel very achey.  I have an operation on Thursday.   The operation is on my nose.  The one that has been sniffling all day.

I'll take some paracetamol tonight and hope for the best.

Sunday 4 September 2016


Today has been a lovely, quiet day where I've pottered and knitted and bear has cut his own cucumber chunks.

I'm making the most of it.

Saturday 3 September 2016

The Margarine Exploded

I was trying to make a cake in the microwave.  To be exact, bear was making a cake and I was supervising and when we melted the margarine in the microwave it went bang.  You would not believe the sort of mess exploding margarine will make.  It could have been worse.  I think there was just a little water in it that got trapped in a bubble and it obeyed the laws of physics.  And it was 'only' the inside of the microwave that got splatted.  Of course, it's a combination microwave so I've got to try and sort out the elements of the conventional bit.  Sigh.  The cake wasn't worth it either.  It was far too dry and even custard couldn't rescue it.

We have bear's school shoes now.  We got there first thing, but it was still crazily busy.  However we have now got bear kitted out.  Roll on Tuesday.

Bear has not been reading The Lord of the Rings for the last few days (somewhat to my relief) but we watched the Fellowship of the Ring today after shopping. I really enjoyed it.  It's been a few years since I watched it, and I'd forgotten how much I loved it.

While we were watching, we tucked into these.

They actually taste of candy floss.  They're also around as cotton candy grapes.  I seriously recommend them as a treat but I'm not sure if they would fit in as one of your five a day as they are so sweet.

Friday 2 September 2016

I Wish I Was in Iceland

Sarah - please let me know about the book.  I admire your courage in being in a writer's group.  I had some very bad experiences having to defend my writing, as in, left in tears after sustained verbal attack, so I stick to staying the other side of a keyboard.  I'm really interested in the book, the title sounds just up bear's street!

Bless - it didn't specify flour, but did add bicarbonate of soda (baking soda there?) so I used plain.  One place I may have gone wrong was when the instructions said, 'beat by hand' and I used a beater.  It never really held together, but I didn't fancy beating 4oz fat into 16oz of sugar.  I need to have a rummage through my old recipes.  The ones I used to make were awesome.  

I found this, via the BBC.  

Iceland's powerful Elf Lobby wins fight to unearth Elfin Lady Stone buried by construction workers

I find it fascinating that the elves have such a hold on the Icelandic imagination.  Iceland sounds amazing anyway, straddling two continental plates and surrounded by sea.  My view of elves (or elfen, in my writing) is the view of the old stories including Thomas the Rhymer, knee deep in blood, luring people to their death, changelings etc.

I found this when I was looking for elf pictures and it called to me.  It's Swedish, not Icelandic, but I think it is awesome.

Thursday 1 September 2016

Five Days Left

Just five days left before bear goes back to school.

Today bear spent in his pyjamas, chilling in the dining room and watching two seasons of the Pac Man cartoon.  I didn't let him help with dinner (turkey rather haphazardly marinaded in yogurt, next time I'll use a proper recipe) but we did bake some chocolate grantham biscuits that were a fail on a galactic scale.  However there are some potholes in the road that need filling and the biscuits will be better than stone chippings.

I should have known.  The recipe called for 4oz butter to 16oz sugar to 14oz flour to 2oz cocoa to one egg.  I've lost the recipe I had for them which wasn't like that at all. In the recipe I used to use, you ended up with a crumbly, fragile and toothsome ginger biscuit.  These were supposed to be the same crumbling, delicate and spicy morsel but chocolate.  They really weren't.  Bear couldn't manage one.  I begrudge the waste of ingredients.

I'm sure I'll find a good recipe tomorrow.