Thursday, December 28, 2006
Clare and I are now in the new flat and the boxes are slowly depleting. Andy and Fenella came over last night and cooed over the high ceilings and period features, which was nice, because I've sort of forgotten about them already and am just looking at all the things we need to do to the place, and thinking how much it will all cost! Plus the phone Does Not Work (it won't get fixed by doing line tests BT, I know your computer says it looks fine), and we need broadband! Urgently!!
I'm back at work and so far it's very quiet (I don't like to tempt fate) and the place seems to have become overrun with Little People. Our postie has just come out of the lift with a small flock behind him. Aw. Looks like all the mummies have had quite enough and despatched the kids to work so they can have a well-earned rest! That or they've gone to the sales....
So what did you get for Xmas? Amongst other things I got:
A book on how to shoot straight
A nightie from mum (in the same style that I got for her - we match!)
A pink alarm clock that says 'so many men, so little time' on it
A black and white spotty cake tin
Oh oh oh - did you see the Vicar of Dibley on Xmas day? With the gorgeous Richard Armitage in it? Mum and I were so jealous of all those snogs Dawn French scripted in we were spitting feathers. Brilliantly funny though, so perhaps we will let her off. Just a little. *:)
Thursday, December 21, 2006
However, this sort of thing happens quite regularly, don't you find? Like you discover a new word or shop or kitchen implement and then see it referred three or four times in quick succession by different sources. Is there a term for this phenomenon? Like in German they have a term for that annoying tune you get stuck on the brain all day - they call it an earworm. Or if there isn't a term, can anyone suggest something we can use?
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
'Bar zia is full of sixth formers and squaddie types in pastel coloured ben sherman shirts looking like a packet of opal fruits.'
Opal fruits. Hee hee.
Monday, December 18, 2006
First thing to moan about - Christmas shopping hoardes in Marks and Spencers. Argh. It's cold, so I dive into the jumper section to see if there is anything cheap and suitable for work. There is. However, because they have rammed as many racks as possible into the available space, it means that each aisle is one man wide, and you cannot stop to look at anything - you have to move to let people past. I was totally unable to stop in one place, instead got chased around and around by a steady stream of impatient shoppers until I thought 'sod this' and walked out.
Second thing - do people really have to vomit in trains over Xmas? I got on the train this morning, and it's the carriage with the first class section, and there was a definite odeur... Why can't drunk people just keep with tradition and sleep it off in the gutter?
However, all is not lost today, because I found this knitting pattern for a 'French tickler cozy'. Too funny! Other similar free patterns at Knitting Pattern Central.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Aragon Yarns is live! Finally, the website is up and we are open for business.
There are still a few bits and bobs to complete, and we are frantically knitting up and testing patterns that will become the knitting kits, but all the wool is here, and all the lovely needles. Check out the site and let me know what you think!
Friday, December 01, 2006
I am not used to listening to commuters' conversations on the train, and try hard to tune them out, but this one caught my curiousity. What did the other person say to this man to prompt him to reply like that?
'Darling, little Johnny had been climbing the apple tree, fell out but was caught by his ankles. He was swinging there for ten minutes but I've got him down now.'
'Mike, this is your mother. I've just run over a squirrel with my mobility scooter.'
'Sweetheart, I'm lying here in a black lacy basque and suspenders and thinking of you while doing unspeakable things to myself...'
You see how one's mind runs riot when bored on the train in the morning.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Subject: Yarn Shipment
Expeditious like from fax to half your messenger already Thursday 23/ 11
she you doesn't have importance if then the payment was not still fact: we have sent equally and with big like.
I *think* (only think, mind) that this means that they are shipping the yarn even though they have not received confirmation of payment. Which, if so, is great news! If it doesn't mean that, then I am stumped. Any offers / alternative translations from you guys?
Sunday, November 26, 2006
There was also the brilliant character with a sort of singing Tourette's problem. 'Oh what a beautiful morning!' he sings, sounding drunk, in the rain. Someone at another stall says, 'I thought I saw..mumble mumble..' 'I thought I saw a puddy cat a-creeping up on me!' he replies. Then, surveying his lack of customers, 'Things... can only get better....!'
I concur. As usual, weekend work has started off with problems. As it means to go on, I expect. Hey ho. At least we get paid overtime...
Happy Sunday, readers.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Flying Buddha Air over Mt Everest. Yes, another 5am start! Magical though.
Stupa at Bodnath, Kathmandu. I loved this. Hundreds of people and monks walking around it clockwise, humming the mantra Om mane padme hum, clicking their prayer beads. Buddha's eyes are on all four sides of the stupa so he can look out over the whole world. And I love the prayer flags. I walked one circuit at dusk, and the mantra certainly gets into your head.
After Nepal, on to visit Ted and Emily in Hong Kong. I got some time to chill out (finally some mornings I didn't have to get up at ungodly hours to see mountains!) and explore.
Big Buddha on Lantau Island. The new Ngong Ping 360 cable car is now open, with a great view of the buddha on the way in. If you could see people in this pic, they would not even come up to half way up his knee. This is a seriously big buddha.
Man Mo temple, Hong Kong. These incense spirals can burn for a week.
Won Tai Sin temple, Kowloon. People shake cans of sticks with symbols on them until one falls out. The chosen stick can tell their fortune.
And finally, the view from Ted's balcony. Yes, that is Hong Kong City. Not bad eh? It's a little unnerving though. You are chilling out in the evening, walk into the living room and catch a glimpse out of the window. 'Fcuk!', you think, 'who put those skyscrapers in the garden?'
So there we go. Sorry there are not many words, but the pics speak for themselves. There are many, many more, but these will do for now.
Wool update - it has been done and is being shipped back the Blighty this week! The website is nearly done, we have a house full of needles and accessories, so we are nearly ready to go! I'll tell you the URL in my next entry. Hope you liked the travel pics!
This is the group I travelled with in India and Nepal, posing at Fatepur Sikri near Jaipur.
£12,500 necklace I tried on in Jaipur. I also tried on another at at least £50,000 - a Maharani style collar of pebble sized uncut diamonds and rubies. Why didn't I get a picture of that? Why???
Tiger in Chitwan National Park, Nepal.
Spotting Indian rhino from the back of elephants. All we needed were rifles, pith helmets and a gin and tonic and we'd have been right back in the Raj.
Bathing elephants - or so we were told. Don't fall for that one people!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Anyway, I am going away for three weeks tomorrow, travelling to India, Nepal and Hong Kong. A bit of a whistle-stop tour, but it should be good! I shall be seeing the Taj Mahal and the Annapurnas, and doing far too much shopping I imagine.
I will leave you with a pic of some of the wool samples colours we received back the other day. Aren't they lovely and glossy? That's the natural lustre of Romney wool. Avail for purchase in December, all you knitters out there!
Have a good few weeks all, I'll type and post some pics in around three weeks.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Can't get better than that! Apart from a slug has started to have a go at him already. Interesting that it went for the leg first and not his diddly dander. Must have been a postman-biting canine in a former life.
I must credit mum though - also from the garden I got: courgettes, butternut squash, beefsteak tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, chilis, beetroot, ruby chard and red onion. And some eggs from the hens. Anyone want to have a Ready Steady Cook go at a recipe suggestion from that lot?!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
So, it was lovely to do a project where you are actually *supposed* to knit the thing huge to start with. And then, in this case, bung it in the washing machine on a hot cycle (another woolly disaster area we know all too well) and shrink the thing down to something manageable.
Here is a pic of the complete bag:
Here is a pic post-wash. Count the bricks!
And here is a gratuitous picture of Mir, requested following previous mention. I told you she poses shamelessly for the camera.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Second, the bird is the reception airhead who gets my hackles up - yes me, and it takes a lot to get a rise out of me. She sneaks up here to get a cup of tea and pick a fight with him. 'I'm upset', she pouts. 'Oh, d'ya wan' me ta buy you s'more cloves then?' he asks without taking his eyes from his screen. Good grief.
I particularly admired 'Ye Olde Rippe Offe Shoppe' in the foyers, selling Spam sandwiches, special tins of Spamalot spam, 'Fetchez la vache' Tshirts, coconut shells for horse hooves and fiersome Rabbit of Caerbannog hand puppets complete with Big Pointy Teeth.
We also tried out Gaby's on Charing Cross Road (just south of Leicester Sq tube station), which I have walked passed a hundred times but it looks like a dubious salmonella emporium from the road. In fact it's a very popular Turkish/Greek diner and the food was pretty good. Starters great (vine leaves and falafels), lamb kebabs perhaps a little dry though. But very busy, which always bodes well. And they gave us free dessert and another half bottle of wine on the house. *:)
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The trouble is, I am dancing along with the music! I'm working a bit late as I'm going to see Spamalot later, sitting here with one headphone in, and can't sit still! Will I be boogying all the way home on the train? Steve says that sometimes he finds himself singing along on the train. I think dancing may be slightly less embarrassing!
Hey ho. Only two weeks to go until holiday.....
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
So, this morning I managed to brave the Indian High Commission and get a visa. The form says: state date of arrival, date of departure, number of days you want the visa for, and number of entries to India. The visa comes back: start date today, for six months, multiple entry. Huh??
However, it was a good morning. Despite not getting there until after 8am (Steve warned me that dire things would happen if I got there late) I only had to queue down the street in the rain for about 40mins. And I made it through the scrum successfully with visa in hand by 10.40am, which is not bad at all. I have to say I have never seen a more tin pot system in a government building. I have a premonition that is the flavour of things to come on our travels....
Saturday, October 07, 2006
It's a Lincoln Premier 20 bore over and under. And because it's brandy new it's an absolute pig to open and close. I literally have to break it over my knee at the moment.
It's a bit flash harry - the trigger is gold! A little bling for me I feel. Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to bag some pheasants this winter with it.
Nothing like spending money just before I go on holiday / buy a house / buy a car... Let's just hope the wool starts pulling in come ca$h soon.
Speaking of which, they have done a test spin but they are going to wind a ball for us before sending it over to inspect. So we should have something next week sometime. The website is growing - the web man has put a few more pages on.
Right, I have to walk the dog and fill up the pheasant feeders. Here is the dog:
She's a little camera shy, but still smiling. And has been following me around like a shadow all day, demanding entertainment. She's sleeping with her head on my feet as I type. Such a soppy dog.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
While type A can be quite amusing, they can also verge on the offensive (viz, The Finger and The Thumb). Type B on the other hand can become saccharine to the point of requiring a bucket, and/or desperate and/or dull. It's hard to strike a type B balance. Type B bloggers also seem to own an inordinate amount of cats.
I suppose there are also type C blogs which are sort of observatory diaries. While a teenager in Tokyo, potentially a window on a different culture, completely fails to deliver ('I went to the cinema with my friends heehee'), sometimes these sorts of blogs are the most interesting. A mom living in the country in the southern states of the USA, telling you about her neighbourhood, can be fascinating in the detail.
So in this fledgling blog, what direction should I take? I think I have dabbled in a few type A entries, but that started edging into the rest of my thinking, and I am not a ranting type person. At the moment, in fact, I am more of a happy positive 3BT person. So I consciously and subconsciously edge away from rants. I don't believe I am teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown and require therapy and moral support from other bloggers, so type B is out. So should this be a type C diary and observation blog? To make that work I need, I think, to add some more *details*. Argh. Do people really care to read about my life?
What do you think makes or breaks a blog?
Friday, September 29, 2006
Isn't this exciting? Mum has been talking to people at meetings and ram sales and things and it seems that word is spreading unbidden. People are asking her how it's going. It wasn't all supposed to get this big!
I am going away for my three week holiday just at the wrong time... It was never going to be a good time really. Never mind. When else would I get to see India and Nepal?
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I am struggling finding information about importing goods from the US - anyone know anything about that? What import tarriffs do we end up paying? UK HM Revenue and Customs say we need to pay them VAT at the going rate but there is no import duty, but I think we may need to pay something to the US Govt for exporting. Blimmin Bush.
What I *really* want to do at the moment is just to stay and work at the farm. It's so lovely to be there, even though it's all flat out busy it's restful at the same time. It's pleasant to be working hard, rather than here it's just painful and/or dull.
I've been so stressed that I knitted through two balls of wool yesterday to try to chill out. I'm doing a felted bag from a free pattern I found at Drops designs at www.garnstudio.com, in Scandanavia. Thousands of free patterns! Fantastic. I will try to take a pic of the work in progress so you can see how huge it knits up before you felt it back to something sensible in the washing machine. Magic.
Monday, September 25, 2006
I have to put in a heartfelt Victor Meldrew 'I just don't believe it!' at this point. And a Peanuts 'Good Grief.'
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Conversely, I've never seen such a lack of talent in a dog show. Training? It seems that is old hat. I don't think I saw a dog that wasn't towing its owner along. About half a dozen scuffles broke out amongst bolshy mutts. Fitness? Nope. These dogs were more rolling in fat than their owners. (Will someone bring out an Atkins diet for dogs? The Woodhouse diet?? Can dogs get diabetes? Will we be seeing 'if your dog's waist is bigger than this you should get it tested' posters at train stations?)
To show willing (honest, that was all it was!) Mum and I took a couple of our dogs along. Bee was entered into the Luscious Labrador class and the Obedient Gundog class. Millie and I went in for the agility class for a laugh, imagining a half dozen or so hard core mothers who take their uber-trained dogs along every week to do the seesaw and running through the sacking tunnel. Not a bit of it! Bee carried off third place in both her classes, and Millie and I came joint first in a dead heat at 23 seconds to complete the course! I think it helped that we weren't encumbered by a 5yr old child tipping over the jumps with the lead and going with the dog through the tunnel. Plus Dad showed his inner child this morning by doing a bit of pre-training. He came into the kitchen and said, 'I made a tunnel in the barn and Millie goes straight through it!' Aw. And I may have put some electric fence poles out on the lawn and done a bit of weaving practise too... Competitive? Us?
Friday, September 22, 2006
I love the internet. *:)
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Aaaanyway... Salesmen. Fall into two groups. The amusing ones who remember that it is actually still just a job, and are quite happy to take you out to lunch and put it on company plastic in the full knowledge that you probably won't be making it worth their while, but hey, it's a free lunch. And the ones that take themselves faaarr too seriously.
Luckily I mostly have to deal with the first sort. But a couple of Serious Salesmen have crept in lately. Earnest Salesman, and Angry-Incredulous Salesman. Earnest will raise his eyebrows to his hairline in an effort to look honest and approachable, which just makes me want to giggle and rub a Photoshop blending finger over the creases on his poor overworked forehead, and then will stun you with a torrent of try-hard salespeak until you walk away, reeling. Angry-Incredulous just wants to make you feel small and ignorant for not coming to him before. What? Were you really going to pay that much, you stupid peasant? Have you now idea??
Does anyone ever point out to these people that the best thing to do is just give a simple explantion and good price, leave it at that, and take me for a beer?
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I expect next they'll want some money in case the Chalybeate spring dries up and they have to dig under the house for a new source.
Chancel Repair. I ask you.
Monday, September 18, 2006
OK, calm, calm, it's only a job, I can go home shortly and forget all about it...
I think it sounded ghastly personally. Definitely louder though.
The wool has arrived in Italy and will be washed this week, and so the process starts. Quite exciting and quite scary! I also have to tell the web man to get on with it too. Everyone keeps asking about the web site. It's on its way! Patience!
PS Lunch today was pasta chicken bake thingy from Sainsburys in the microwave. Not bad.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Another Wicked thing is that a friend of mine offered his cousin to look after me for the first day I am in Delhi on my upcoming trip, and I asked in passing whether she (the cousin) might know anyone who could perhaps help with getting the waste silk from sari weaving and spinning it into knitting yarn for the wool business, and guess what? She and her husband work in the textiles business! You couldn't script this stuff.
We finally got the power restored at the farm last night - at five to midnight. Apparently the join from the old break in the cable was so blown apart and melted that they couldn't make out the colours of the wires and had to guess. Great!! So there remains a large hole in the orchard which they won't fill in until they are sure it's all OK.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Apart from that, Clare and I have had an offer accepted on a flat, so we will be flatmates soon - will she cope with having to be sociable?? *;) And Mum and I have recently returned from a business trip to Italy about the wool business. Which was extremely hard work but essential to do. We visited four factories, then spent two hours (not long enough) discussing colours, sitting around a table with four Italians while they poked and prodded and blended wools together to get the right shade with a hint of something else in, talking loudly over each other in Italian all the while. Excellent fun. I felt a bit like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman in the dress shop - they would pull some other example from the cupboard and say, 'This?' and I would shake my head, or waggle it 'maybe', or give a definite 'Si', yes. Then the finished example would be clipped to the sample board to be sent to the dyer.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Clare and I are househunting, and some of the places out there are quite remarkable. There are some beautiful pads in Tunbridge Wells, summarily ruined because someone has wedged a shower in a broom cupboard, or created massive living rooms at the expense of the bedrooms, which a small child would struggle to move around in. I even saw a place with a 'mezzanine' floor for the bed, which was actually a large shelf with a bunk bed ladder. OK for a US Marine, possible not for young professionals.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
It finally came down to opening jamjars, but even then the application of the back of a stout knife does the trick (as long as the contents of said jar are to be consumed in a day or two, as by then the seal of the lid is well and truly bu99ered; therefore not recommended for things such as eye-watering pickled onions).
I'm kidding. We need someone to leave the seat up so we can put it down again.
My friend Clare, at school, used to muse about replacing men with spermbanks, but then that unfortunately would, she noted, leave us with Lawnmower Spermbank and The Spermbank from U.N.C.L.E..
Last night I had a flash of inspiration. We need men to write Top Gear. Which self-respecting practical common-sensical woman could ever think up so many ways to destroy a car? Viz - watch three monkeys attempt a challenge to doctor three clapped-out motors into amphibious vehicles, drive 20 miles (the sailing car broke its mast on a tree, the VW camper van / narrow boat overheated because all the air intakes were welded shut), attempt to traverse 3 miles of lake without just sinking at the end of the slipway, or capsizing from over-revving the outboard in a typical macho manner, and drive out again. One car managed to get its front wheels there. All the monkeys got wet. Brilliant.
Therefore, what we need men for: ENTERTAINMENT VALUE
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Anyway, I was anticipating these entries to be quite excruciating reading, as I tended to write at times when I was cross or upset. In fact they were quite upbeat. How strange! I thought they would be all moany and angst-ridden. Instead there lots of ideas about things to do to change situations. What was interesting is how long ago I was getting annoyed with J, which means I sat it out for a long time. I will learn... I hope! Don't just sit on it people, do something about it. But, I think the things that made the entries readable was the fact that they weren't just a string of 'today I did x y z', but I did write down my thoughts and what I felt about things. It brought them to life.
So, I am going to try keeping a diary again. Or a journal. Clare lent me a book about journalling, and one of the first things it tells you is to disregard your inner Censor, that voice that tells you what you are writing is rubbish, boring, trite, immature, dull. It's not. Thoughts and opinions are interesting. What you do in your life is interesting. (Or if it's not, the author advises you get out more and do stuff - I agree!) In years to come perhaps your children or grandchildren will read your journal, and discover not only all sorts of facts about the life you lead and the times you lived in, but perhaps also a person completely different from the one they know. How intriguing is that?
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Worse, stress at management's sanctimonious blindness to any sense of reason or understanding drove us to go out last night and drink too much, so I am not feeling on tippy-top form today, and still had to go to my gym session and lift heavy weights, deal with more management-created sh1t on another subject, as well as office moves (much noise and upheaval). One small saving grace was that some of the moving men were actually quite easy on the eye. (There is a severe shortage of totty in this office. Viz, none.)
Roll on the long weekend, I say.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Not too Queer Eye a response there for you? This is a genuine poll which you can respond to now on http://www.ukhandknitting.com/ (Statistics section, Knitting Review link). And what on earth is a love sweater??
The yarn plans are moving forward. In fact, they are currently in a big rush as mum told me that we are shearing in a week. Argh! I called the spinner yesterday and he said he would check with the guys in the mill, but he thinks he can do what I want. I have chased up the Uni *again* to ask their knitwear design students if they will do some designs and patterns for us. Honestly.
So, you guys reading, do you knit? If so, what kind of things do you like to knit? Hats? Bags? Scarves? Jumpers? I would be interested to find out, because we are planning on doing a small book of patterns. Or if you don't knit, do you want to learn?
My brother and I went to a Business Startup expo at the Excel centre last weekend, and came back with lots of enthusiasm and ideas for our business plans. Do any of you guys have wacky ideas? (Can't be much worse than my wool idea!) Want to share and get some feedback? One of the recurring messages was to do just that - get some feedback, find out if your great idea is actually great in the eyes of other people, adapt it, develop it. Learn about people who can help you.
Perhaps we could all eventually get out of our boring 9-5s and do Something Less Boring Instead.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
1. Start a wedding planning business.
This would require some research and also a lot of legwork researching and visiting businesses in T Wells to get them on the team. Also, it would be a gradual start to get going.
2. Start a business doing something with the wool produced by the farm.
The sheep farm produces aroung 2 tonnes of wool a year, of which just over 1T would be suitable for spinning into yarn for hand knitting. Which is a craze taking off in a big way. Currently we get paid about 70p per kilo for this wool (which is good compared to some, but still a pittance, considering it costs £1 to shear the sheep!). Knitting wool retails at £4-£12 per 100g. There are a lot more Romney sheep farmers with a lot more wool in the area. This is definitely worth looking into!
3. Become a teacher.
Apparently Psychology teachers are in big demand at the moment, and with a Psych degree that is an option. Or, I could look at teaching IT. How many weeks holiday to teachers get a year?? Got to be worth considering!
4. Help do something with the farm freezer lamb business / shoot / cherry business.
Value could be added to these by someone with the time...
Note that none of these require the dreaded COMMUTING...!!