Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Christmas stresses

I never knew grown men could make such a song and dance about booking a team Christmas lunch. I mean, honestly. I have now managed to sort this out in under two days and we are all booked in to a very nice place. Perhaps it's because we have so few women in the dept that they feel they have to make up for it! *;)

Clare and I are going on a treasure hunt around London on Sunday. Should be interesting. I am not sure where abouts we should be going, but all I am hoping is that she won't mind if I keep diving off to do Xmas shopping along the way.

On the lunch front, Marks and Sparks are bringing out some great new pasta and noodley things. Plus their new winter clothes collection is quite respectable. What a good combination! I am now totally sold on the no-bread option, it does make you bloaty, my gym man is quite right. Try it for a week or two and see how you feel.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Argh eBay

I have discovered eBay. This is a mild disaster as I have spent over £100 in a week. However, this is on 9 lots so I suppose at just over a tenner on average (and some of them were job lots) that's no so bad. It started because you cannot get the Jungle Book on DVD in the UK. Well, you can, but it would be a second hand copy from the year 2000 for £50 from Amazon. I think not. So, I have bought a 'quality Asian import' from eBay. There are only two spelling mistakes on the back cover, and the grammar is pretty good, so I suppose it could be OK. This is towards Dad's Xmas present so we will have to wait a couple of months before we see how it plays!

The other lots are mainly stamping and card making supplies. I am going to make my Xmas cards this year. (Yeah right - when exactly??) I made a Thank You and a Get Well Soon card last week, and was quite pleased with them, so we will see how it goes. But it's ridiculous the amount you can spend on this stuff. You can get a sheet of paper (yes, one sheet) with a pattern on it for 50p +P&P. And this is just for background!!! Good grief. I think I am in the wrong job.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Weddings and diaries

I've just taken delivery of various 2006 diaries, which I will recover in interesting fabrics for members of the family for next year. There's something optimistic about a new diary that I quite like, but I often think that by the end of the year that it's somehow failed to deliver. Perhaps this year I will put some rubber stamp images on certain days inside, like my birthday for example, to try to jolly them up a bit. *:)

Jonathan and I recently got a wedding invitation to one of my friend's weddings in Scotland in December. In a very fancy castle near Edinburgh. It looks fantastic - and very expensive! How guilty will I feel if I don't go because I can't afford it? Hmm. December is expensive enough as it is! Will have to see about this one.

I saw my brother Pete for lunch yesterday, he was in London on a rare day off. We went to Simpsons on Cornhill in the City for good old fashioned chop house grub. Mmm mmm. If you are ever in the City in London, check it out.

Friday, October 14, 2005


I wrote this a few weeks ago but Clare said I should put it in. What do you guys think?

Strange things are happening – young professional women are going back to knitting. There has been a steady stream of articles about it lately. It seems that women have been knitting quietly at home for some time, but been too ashamed to come out about it. My best friend is knitting claret coloured walking socks (and very beautiful they are too). I’ve started knitting and embroidering recently, and making things on the sewing machine. What I find intriguing is how we are suddenly discovering that loads of women are doing these things. Clare and I had not started sewing and knitting because we’d read about it and thought it was trendy. We just (independently from each other even) wanted to give it a go. And then we discovered that we’d each bought an embroidery kit. And then I read that people like Sarah Jessica Parker and Uma Thurman and even Russell Crowe were knitting, and now I find that millions of young women are knitting, with groups that meet weekly, and internet chat rooms about it swapping patterns, the works. Even is giving out free knitting patterns for iPod ‘socks’. And it’s like when you discover a new word, and suddenly you see it three times in two days in the newspaper and on the telly. Young women knitting are everywhere.

So what is it that is attracting women back to these old fashioned activities? And why all of a sudden? I am open to suggestions on this. It could be something in the water (too much oestrogen built up from all the contraceptive pills), or subliminal messages in the middle of Desperate Housewives. Or, perhaps women have started knitting because they just can’t find what they want in the shops. I admit to walking into quite a few high street chain stores and feeling deeply depressed with all the over-priced tat that they try to flog these days. The seams are wonky and the embroidery pulls the fabric, which itself feels like it probably cost $2 a roll.

Or maybe, having spent so long becoming emancipated, women are now are hankering back after the more feminine pastimes, where you can quietly create something useful and personal.

What about the therapeutic aspects of knitting? A comment on by a psychotherapist Betsan Corkhill says that research done in 2004 shows that the brain can be distracted away from pain, and she is of the opinion that the same can be done with depression and stress. Thus knitting can be used as a distraction tactic. Also having an attainable goal and end product gives a great ‘feel-good factor’. Betsan is starting up for all those who use stitching as therapy.

It seems that there is also a good social factor to it these days, with knitting groups springing up all over the place. There are ‘Stitch ‘n’ Bitch’ or ‘Knitwits’ groups in most major towns - lists many of them. And a book called The Stitch & Bitch Handbook by Debbie Stoller has become a bestseller in the US and is doing well in the UK too.

I wonder how much wool sales are going up?

Other sites I like:

· Stitch 'n Bitch Handbook: Instructions, Patterns, and Advice for a New Generation of Knitters and Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Nation - Debbie Stoller
· It's My Party and I'll Knit If I Want To!; Paperback ~ Sharon Aris
· The Urban Knitter; Paperback ~ Lily M. Chin
· Hip to Knit: 18 Contemporary Projects for Today's Knitter; Paperback ~ Judith L. Swartz
· Weekend Knitting: 50 Unique Projects and Ideas; Hardcover ~ Melanie Falick, Ericka McConnell
· Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits; Hardcover ~ Julie Carles, Jordana Jacobs

Saturday, October 08, 2005


I have been reading a bit about ley lines and earth energies, and discover that one of the authorities on the subject, Paul Devereux (editor of The Ley Hunter Journal from 1976-1996), has concluded that they are a load of old tosh! Also, another chap (with years of dowsing experience) writing about dowsing for earth energies says that 'it should be given up as a bad job', as nothing conclusive has ever been found. This is rather disappointing. I was hoping that I would be able to find something exciting on the farm, but it appears that its nice vibe cannot yet be put down to something mystical. Perhaps it's just mum's cooking after all.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

NYC and New England in the Fall...

Clare and I had a wonderful trip across the pond. We spent two days in NYC, where Rich's friend Bob had taken time off work to completely look after us and show us around all the sights and remind us to leave tips. *;) Thank you Bob, we had a terrific time! It was slightly surreal being in a city that I've seen so often on TV, but good fun to spot the places you knew. I loved the Statue of Liberty and the Chrysler Building at night.

We saw Rich's parents and brother on our way to New England, as well as some of Rich's work colleagues, and they were all the most lovely people. I don't think either of us realised how well known we are over there! I hope we didn't disappoint. It was a rather emotional day but I feel much better that we made the visit. I need to send thank you letters to everyone but I just don't know where to start, they were all so, well, lovely!

New England is a beautiful place. We scooted through Mystic and Newport in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and they are very cute fishing ports, then headed north via Boston into the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. The scenery was gorgeous up there, even though we were a bit too early for all the leaves. It was just starting to turn and you could see from only the few trees that had gone what amazing fiery colours you get there. Considering how many thousands and thousands of acres of forests there are, it must live up to its reputation!

I did too much shopping and got told off at the airport for having an overweight bag, but hey ho, watchyagonnado, right?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Off travelling

Clare and I are off to New York on Friday. We are going to see some friends of our e-penfriend Rich who died suddenly in February. They are going out of their way to meet us and show us about - Clare and I are quite bowled over by it!

There is a piece about Rich in Clare's blog

We are also doing a very speedy tour of some of New England, taking in Mystic, Boston, and the White and Green mountains. Any recommendations on these areas always welcome.

PS. Remind me not to go to Benjy's for salads any more, they really are quite grim.

PPS. Scott - Marmite is like Vegemite but made with yeast extract, and gives you worse smelly breath afterwards. *:) should tell you more.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Have you got addicted to this like I have? Terrible time waster. (But not as much as chatting to Barry for half an hour about redoing bathrooms or the new knitting craze.) Great link to a free archive at:

Monday, July 18, 2005

More ideas

I am finding sandwiches too bloating, so here are a couple of salad ideas:

Salad, chicken and chutney, cold new potatoes
Salad, red Carmargue rice and roasted veg (perhaps with some salmon)