Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I was walking to knit group last night, and at the lights at the end of the Pantiles did the usual City-worker thing of seeing if I can nip across the road without pressing the button. It seemed not, there was a car roaring down the hill, so I thought sod you speedy, I'll press the button and make you stop. Don't you love how lights turn red immediately at night-time when it's quiet? Speedy duly stopped, and then I got toot-tooted at. The cheek!! The nerve!! Worse, the window was wound down and I was shouted at: 'Don't say hello then!' It was The Man on the way home from football.

(Amusingly he'd carefully measured the pancake batter before he went out and warned me not to use up more than half of it Or Else.)

Knit group was really good fun last night, I'd missed seeing the girls and talking yarn. We nattered about holidays, it seems that quite a few of us have been to the Canyon, and also welcomed in two new recruits, which was ace. They even work in the local crafting shop! (We need to educate them about indie yarns though.) The venue had a salsa class tramping away above us, which I have to start attending again to work off some of this lard (added to nicely in the States). We all cooed over new yarn, marvelled at my Soctopus sock, and I knitted my first ever stitch *Continental Style*. Well gosh. The cuff of the sock calls for knitting with two strands of yarn, alternate stitches, in rib. So, K1 in yarn A, P1 in yarn B. You can imagine the tangle and the frustration of that. So, the best solution was to knit it like the advanced knitters do intarsia or fairisle, with different colours in different hands. Yeah, right, look at me the advanced knitter! (Guffaw.) I think it was quicker to drop the yarns and undo the tangles, but hey, I have one more row to do (and the other sock), and I suppose I should try to figure it out properly one day on a (duh-duh-duuhhh...) swatch.

The Man and I are starting to househunt again. I've seen a few places online, but there's not much about at the moment, people are sitting tight until the prices come back up. I wish I could cut and paste bits of various houses to get the perfect one! There's one that's right place, right garden, outside garage, but the house is just a bit meh. There's another which is right price with 4 beds (pole room *and* craft room!!!), nice enough but wrong place and rather soul-less. I am not looking forward to trying to find somewhere good in this climate. I fear we might be reduced to posting notes through the doors of places that look remotely suitable, but at least that dispenses with the evil agents. Buying the old flat was pretty painless, selling it was a royal pain in the arse. Useless agents, even more useless solicitor. Well, she was part of a package deal with the agents, we should have known really.

I am feeling a bit fidgety to get settled, I must say. The flat we're in is lovely (I felt a pang leaving it to go on hols) but I can't feel totally content until we have a place of our own together. I'm looking forward to having friends to stay and BBQs, which requires a spare room and a garden. It will come, I just need to be patient and keep my faith in the housing fates...

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Well, adventures are over for the time being. I feel like I've had a good travel. Do you agree with me that there is a difference between travel and holiday? This was definitely travel.

After a loooong flight and a loong drive, ending with a loooong gravel track (at which point Doris the sat-nav gave up knowing where we were), I finally found the ranch. It's right at the bottom right hand corner of Arizona, at around 5,000 ft up. The moonlit scenery looked stunning as I was driving through.

Trouble is, the next morning it looked like this.

Luckily in Arizona, snow doesn't last too long.

You can see Mexico from the south pasture, but as neither of the cowboys have passports they're not allowed to go there. This is me helping to move some (pig-headed stubborn) cattle.

Here is the ranch manager looking picturesque in Jackwood canyon. He was younger than me and would sometimes answer questions with a 'Yes, ma'am'. I couldn't work out if I liked it or if it made me feel 102. The Man has not been able to adopt this without a heavily sarky tone so unforts this sign of respect will have to be limited to interactions with cowboys. Shame. ;)

Then on to Tombstone, tourist-central. I have never seen so many tacky gift shops!

Big-Nosed Kate's Saloon - she was Wyatt Earp's girlfriend. I love the sign on the left. Perhaps we should get one for the flat.

The Man gave me a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon for Christmas. It was stunning. This is him looking slightly scared (he doesn't like heights).

And guess what? There was snow at the Canyon too!

It's a mile deep, and the river has now eroded down to the earth's crust through all those layers of sedimentary rock. The canyon is just so big your mind can't compute it, and all formed by the Colorado river.

Then on to Monument Valley, where they filmed nearly all the Hollywood Westerns. Here are the Mittens (left and right hands - see?) ...

...and the Three Sisters, which also looks like a W for John Wayne, apparently.

And back in Scottsdale in Phoenix we got busy in the cowboy boot store.

There was a Chihuly exhibition at the Desert Botanical Gardens, which was amazing. The pieces are internally lit at night, it must be magical. They were impressive enough with the Arizona sun streaming through them. (Click on these for bigger versions.)

And now back to work. Yay.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Off on hols (hopefully)

The forecast says more snow for monday. My work friends are all saying, 'Have you seen the forecast? Will you be able to fly?' Well, I bloody hope so!! I'm not missing my holiday for a bit of frozen water.

It's so going to snow again and stop all flights out of Heathrow, isn't it....

The Man has flown out today with his team for his golf tournament pro-am thing, and they started as they meant to go on by having lunch at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant at the airport. I have the rest of the weekend to sort myself out which is good, and it's also Fenella's 30th birthday party on Saturday night. It's a TV/movie theme, and I'm going as Indiana Jones. So I'm doing movie *and* tv! What more can she ask?

I'm going to Arizona to be a cowgirl for a week, and then meeting The Man after his tournament and we're going to see the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley together. I can't wait! As long as I get there OK....

Meanwhile, on knitting news, the experiment socks are finished and I'm onto the Socktopus socks. Excuse the very yellow artificial light here.

As it goes, I have to eat my words. I've started the bed socks and ohmigod that yarn is delicious! Chameleon Colourworks Evolution, which is mechanically stretched merino apparently that's supposed to feel like cashmere but feels almost like silk. The feel of the yarn is so nice that it's made the colour grow on me. I wouldn't choose pink out of choice but the yarn so soft and fluffy it works. So, currently I'm enjoying them. Even if (and excuse my warped mind) the view of the sole does look kinda phallic at the moment. Don't they? (Please say it's not just me.)

Major Achievement Day

(Apols, this should have been posted on Wednesday.)

It is amazing how a country like Britain, bearing in mind the latitude, can still be brought to a standstill by a little bit of snow. 6 million workers didn't go in on Monday, and quite a few didn't go in on Tuesday either. Ah well, who's complaining about a three day week?

We were down in Brighton on Sunday seeing this little one.

(How cute do they both look there??)

It was snowing, but not settling, but it's deceptive down on the coast, and by the time we got on the road inland it was getting pretty deep. We had to drop off The Man's cousin at his mum's before heading off home ourselves. We just about made it to his mum's, driving very carefully on ungritted roads, but once we left to get home to T Wells, half a mile from her house we couldn't even get up a hill (the wheels were just spinning and gripping nothing and we were drifting sideways towards a ditch, and you know how The Man feels about his motor...) so we had to backtrack and beg a bed for the night. Which turned out fine because the next morning we could do this!

There were absolutely no trains running, the entire south-eastern network was suspended, so Monday was a guilt free day. I could have limped in on Tuesday but the office closed at 12 so I would have been there for two hours, so I'm glad I cried off that one too. There is still snow and ice at home, and lots of snowmen in the park and children being dragged around on sledges by their poor longsuffering parents. The enforced stay at home meant that I got lots of knitting done (finished that blimmin babycables jumper on Sunday night!!) and also got to the hairdresser's but also meant unforts that our knitting group was cancelled last night (boo) and the Man's football has been cancelled a couple of times so he is grumpy and fidgety in the house and I have to warn him not to act like a two year old. Men, honestly.

Which reminds me, have you seen this? Too funny!

Man Chocolate

So anyway, back to work today. Nothing much happening here but the Major Life Goal that I have achieved today is signing up for a Life Coaching course. I've been fannying around about doing one for ages, trying to justify the expense, and one has come up with a good course but double discount offer as it's a newish starting up company, and I've negotiated even more of a discount (if you don't ask and all that) so I'm doing it. The rationale is that if I start now, I have some experience as and when I may be off work or working part time for whatever reason (babies) so I can earn myself some pocket money. I'm not envisioning this as a full time career (although if it takes off that would be ace), but I want to use my degree (psych) in some capacity as it's something I really enjoy. I will be needing some practise clients btw, if anyone wants to volunteer! (Not family or close friends though - god can you imagine?!)

So, due to the train taking fooooreeeeeeveeerrrr this morning, I am onto the cuff of Sock le Seconde, so hopefully will get that completed tonight on the way home. I am working out a pattern for felted egg cosies for easter, and might finish the one I started yesterday tonight, so then What Shall I Knit?? Here are the options:

1. Socktopus Club sock (which are pink bedsocks and not stoking my boiler to be totally honest)
2. Tank top in the green yarn I got in Sweden (home brew pattern which will take some work and swatching (gah, swatching))
3. Lace scarf in the Touchyarns laceweight (yum!) which I am scared to spoil (plus I haven't decided on a pattern yet)
4. New beret hat for mum. She has a brown one she knitted in the 60s or 70s which is very on trend but also getting a little tired, bless it. I think there are some really lovely ones out at the moment and she deserves something nice.
5. Pole shorts. I have an idea for these, which may require some planning but if it works might be quite amusing.

I need to decide because I need something to take to the States with me next week! Although as I can't knit on the plane I wonder how much will get done, so perhaps the socks would be the best option.

Speaking of not being able to knit on flights, How Will I Cope?? Are there any really good books out at the moment that will keep my wandering pressurised dehydrated mind amused for ten (count 'em, ten) hours? Or should I just take a sleeping pill and be done with it? Answers would be gratefully received!

Also, how many brackets can I use in one post? Just shows that eating only salad for lunch is not so good for constructing fluid and lucid sentences.