Sunday, November 26, 2006


Just read this and tell me what you think.

We`ve got a lot of spare sets of keys, both Hubby work related and domestic. We have a big keyboard, of which the top three rows, the work ones, are labelled etc. The bottom two rows are domestic keys, spare keys for house, my mum, friends etc. I know what they are because I know the rings, the pairings and where they live on the board. I don`t like putting names and addresses onto other folks keys. What if we get burgled? Open invitation to pick up keys for other people`s houses, no?

Hubby had some new work keys cut. He needed some new rings. Guess what he did? He pulled nineteen keys from the bottom two rows off their hooks, took the keys off their rings to reuse and threw the "unwanted" keys into a bag. He gave me this bag because "Mairi wanted some old keys to play with, didn`t she?"


I don`t know how you feel about keys, but I feel keys are important. I feel if I`ve gone to the trouble of placing them onto the keyboard, they`re very important. I feel that Hubby should have asked me about them before he muddled them up into a bag. But apparently, despite the fact we have had this keyboard for over seven years and I have ALWAYS kept the domestic keys on this board, they shouldn`t have been there. It`s HIS board. Therefore the keys were junk keys, because they were not work keys that he recognised.

He has apologised, but more, I feel, to try to shut me up than for any feeling he might have been wrong to do this. I think he feels I am being unreasonable.

My Hubby has three degrees, one of them a PhD and he teaches postgraduate students at a prestigious university. He is clever, no doubt. So what happened to his "*^%$£ common sense?

I`m mad about this. I`ve got six different things to organise for the house repairs over the next couple of days, the kids and house stuff to look after and (wait for this) I have to make an annoying and time consuming trip into Edinburgh to deliver two sets of his work keys. He knows I`ll do it, though I`m probably going to have to miss my spinning morning just to fit this in. He trusts me, because he knows I think keys are important. I`m also going to have to find time to go round several other houses with these "junk" keys and work out whose are whose. What if someone has an emergency, and needs their spare keys in a hurry? I`ve already fished out the three spare sets of our house keys, the ones he was going to give to our daughter as playthings.

Yeah, I am mad. Very. Can you tell? Can anyone come up with a satisfactory explaination as to why he didn`t just buy new rings at the locksmiths when he was getting the new keys cut?

Friday, November 24, 2006

24th November 2001.

I wasn`t entirely sure if I was going to post about this, but I think I must.

The picture above is of my two sons, Duncan and Robbie, and was taken in the summer of 2001 at Edinburgh Zoo. Duncan is on the left and he`s not quite five in the picture, and the pest with the innocent expression on the right is Robbie, then aged seven. The picture was taken in July and on the 24th November of the same year Robbie died after a two year fight with a rare form of soft tissue cancer.

He was a great boy...the picture really sums him up, cheeky and fun and feisty, loved playing with (and tormenting) his little brother and intent on enjoying himself despite all the unpleasant and often very painful treatments he underwent at the hospital. He always looked forwards to getting out and about on these family treats, which couldn`t happen as often as any of us wished.He was in a temporary remission over his last summer though, so we did as much as possible.

His sister Mairi was born on the 18th October. Sadly, when she was ten days old he had the first of three strokes and that was when we discovered the cancer had moved into his brain. He made an amazing partial recovery from this, though....enough to give us just a little more time together. He was always a boy who wanted to know what was happening with his cancer, despite being so young, and he had seen all too many of his hospital friends die so when he asked me the question I was expecting I told him yes, this was it. He thought about if for a little while and then told me "Okay mum, I may be going to die, but I`m going to have some more fun first." We all did. I remember going to see the first Harry Potter film...twice, going to MacDonalds, going Christmas shopping and being persuaded to buy him yet another Lego set. He enjoyed being with baby sister Mairi too. I`m convinced he held off succumbing to his cancer long enough to see her. Sadly, not for long. He died when she was five weeks old.

That was five years ago today, and we all still miss him terribly. Even Mairi talks about him and asks for the funny stories about the brother that would have been a strapping twelve year old if he`d lived. There are pictures, things that belonged to him still around and we have special days here and there when we all do things he would have enjoyed. It does get easier...I`ve got used to him not being here but I still think of him every day and I`ve never quite got past the feeling that one day he might just walk in the door, back from school, and life will go back to the way it should have been.

Today was just another day in many respects though, hassle with the builders, cleaning etc. Life goes on, especially with two lively children and Christmas coming up! Tomorrow we will go to the event that for the past few years now has come to mean the start of the Christmas season for us. Nothing grand, it`s the local Scout Christmas Fair day. We had planned to take Robbie to it five years ago, to have some more fun. He didn`t make it that far. Hubby and Duncan and Mairi and I went anyway. Robbie would have approved.

Fun is important. Remember that, folks.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Progress on all fronts.

Well, there has been progess, on all fronts. I`ve now been given a time line to work with, which is a relief with Christmas looming close. We`re still chasing the Planning Consent and Building Control paperwork for the replacement windows and Veluxes for the attic, you see (bloomin` Council chambers won`t let you get away without every t dotted and every i crossed.....;-) ) So basically everyone has given up on Plan A, which was to finish totally by Christmas, and have decided to finish everything but the windows before Christmas, leave the scaffolding up over the two week holiday period then swoop in straight after the New Year to do the replacement windows etc. We should have the consents by then.

(For the non-UK readers who have asked... our local councils don`t just let us do any old alterations we want to our houses. Even things they totally approve of, like reinstating original style windows in place of the vile 70`s plastic monstrosities we currently have. It requires a period of time where we officially request permission to do this, notify our neighbours to see if they object, allow 28 days or whatever to allow them to object and even then the County Council might decide not to allow it if we had wanted to do something inappropriate to the building. Same with the Veluxes, which are a sort of sloping window we want to put into the pitch of the attic for ventilation. Just to complicate things further, we also need a Building Control warrent for the Veluxes, which means we need to prove to the Council we`re not going to do anything to damage the safety of the structural integrity of the house. For the two Veluxes we need to cut and brace one roof joist per Velux. Nothing difficult, it`s very common and perfectly safe if done properly but we still need to complete the paper trail. If we don`t do all of this, when we come to sell the house twenty years from now we won`t be able to, as no lender will give a buyer a mortgage on a house with unauthorised alterations. Plus we can get hit with massive fines from the Council for not following the legal process. If they feel scunnerish about it, they can fine you AND tell you to reinstate the original structure. Really, it`s not worth not doing the paperwork! Plus, we`re getting some grant aid towards the main outside works which is really nice in these days of cash strapped Council budgets and they`ll require all the paperwork done properly.)

Anyway, to get back to the timeline, this means we`ll have our lounge and kitchen still functional over Christmas, with (hopefully) working utilities and heating. In return we get to keep our scaffolding for another three weeks or so. It means I can put the Christmas tree and all the decorations up...originally I was thinking if they took the lounge windows out the week before Christmas I would be frantically cleaning the mess up on Christmas Eve and putting the tree up at 5am on Christmas morning, yo ho ho. So I`m happy. It also gives me another five weeks to box up ornaments, books, toys etc. The window replacement is going to be very, very messy.

Gawd, you must be all sick of reading about my house! Well, it`s my blog and I`ll moan if I want to. ;-) But belive it or not, I have been doing a reasonable amount of crafting amidst all this, even if it is only (a) more socks and (b) a plain sweater for Duncan. I`m still going to the Haddington Spinners every`s a haven of tranquility and sanity, belive me! I also go to the Edinburgh Guild on the third Saturday of every month, though having said that I didn`t last Saturday because it was Mairi`s big ballet show and she was performing.

I am currently spinning a lovely blend of shocking pink merino carded with white angora from Marshmallow the rabbit, who is owned by my spinning friend Debbie. (I swapped her a tent for a box of angora fibre, lol. ) This is for a hat/scarf/mitts for the Pink Princess, of course, though she might not get them this winter! I also bought four 50g balls of dyed mulberry silk roving from Doreen at
Scottish Fibres, who was at the felting workshop last Thursday and who always brings along a sack or two of her new stuff "just to show us". Temptress! I bought some siver grey to blend with the grey angora I bought at Woolfest (name of rabbit unknown) and some very intense peach, pistachio and lilac colours. Sounds revolting? No....gorgeous.

Unfortunately I can`t show you any of this at the moment, because we`re down to less than seven hours of daylight here now and the green safety netting round the scaffolding means the house feels permenantly subterranean when it comes to lighting. The garden is a no-go area because of the building works. I must see what I can rig up indoors, but I don`t really like taking pictures of fibre and yarn under artificial lighting. The colours don`t show well.

Oh well, on with another cleaning and packing day. And Christmas shopping, argh!!!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

And for today`s encore....

...the workmen managed to inflict an almost mortal blow to the satellite telly dish.
Fortunately or otherwise they seemed to regard this as far more serious than the computers being down and produced a repair person in under an hour. I was almost disappointed. Nothing but pap on the TV most of the time anyway.

So to date they`ve flattened the garden, up in the attic they have recreated Pompei after Vesuvius blew, cut my telephone wires and broken my satellite dish. We still have electricity, gas, central heating, drains, windows and the cats. Any bets on what the workies will do next???

Answers on a postcard in ten words or less, please. The best suggestion submitted will win a chunk of genuine Scottish battleship grey render chipped directly from my walls. Judge`s decision is final, and you get to pay the postage.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

And just when you think....

And just when I thought it couldn`t get worse yesterday....the builders managed to cut the telephone wires somewhere. So we,`ve been without our two landlines or internet for the last 36 hours.

(No internet for 36 hours, folk. Think about it.......*eek*)

Several phone calls (thank goodness for mobile phones!) and a lot of yelling as to whose responsibility it became to fix it, given that our phone provider is not BT but the wires belong to BT, the connections have been restored. It did however give Mr Builder and I something else to discuss in a "full and frank manner", as my BIL puts it.

On the plus side however I can`t fault the speed and efficiency of Mr Builder and his band of merry men when it comes to actual work. Slates are off, timbers cleaned up and the main roof felt is on. So we are watertight again, which is just as well as it was pouring last night.

And I went to a felting workshop this morning and I have made a hat. It`s not finished so no pix yet plus it looks like a cross between a green flower pot and something a hobbit might wear, but it`s definately a hat. I am thrilled with it. Does not mean I will ever wear it, but that`s not important. It`s a hat, you know?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fig Rolls?

I feel it may be the time to start sending the emergency Fig Rolls, peeps.

They started stripping the slates from the pitched roof today. Now this is good, but.....

...they didn`t tell me they were going to, despite Mr Builder and myself agreeing I would get a couple of days notice of any work that was going to intrude into the interior fabric of the house. So that I could take down curtains or move furniture or put down dust sheets. I hadn`t yet dust sheeted the attic which contains computer and photographic equipment, fleeces (mercifully in plastic bags, yarn, camping equipment, a world class collection of vintage Playmobil, two spinning wheels, fabric, documents, the kids Christmas pressies. And the men were up there, ripping out the hundreds of eighty year old slate nails, each one leaving a tiny hole that dropped a trail of eighty year old building dust into the attic space. Not to mention eighty years worth of dust that was clinging to the underside of the rafters. Dust? Grit, grot, grime, general stour....


Well, down the length of one side of the attic anyway, but that was bad enough. Think of a dirt layer, forty-five foot long, ten foot wide, one half inch (yup, one half inch) deep. Over everything....

What could I do about it? Absolutely zilch, apart from ringing the builder, the surveyor, Hubby. The men were winding down for the day so no point to me scalling the scaffolding and throwing them off the roof. Not their fault anyway. Mr Builder`s fault, for not giving me the agreed advance warning.

He wasn`t in when I called him, but by God, I`ll get my hands on him tomorrow, I swear. You will hear me in California when I do. I am pissed off.

The other thing I`ll be doing tomorrow is a little dusting. I think, though, it`s time for the Fig Rolls, don`t you?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Christmas is sneaking up on us...

I just realised a couple of days ago that it`s only six weeks come this Monday to Christmas. Eeek!!!!

One thing for sure...the building work will not be completed. In fact my best guess is that the work will be at its most horrible, messy and disruptive, not to mention the roof will probably be stripped fully just before the workmen leave for their two weeks of holidays over Christmas and New Year. Double eeek!! But can I do anything about it? No. So I`m trying to cultivate a Zen-like acceptance of what`s going on. There really is nothing to be done about it from my end. So I might as well go with the flow and concentrate on Christmas.

I don`t do knitting for Christmas presents because I`m far too slow. I`d need to start two years ahead, trust me! The adults in our family only give token presents to each other anyway. So mostly I get to concentrate on the kids, which is fun, because I really like hunting down all sorts of weird and wonderful (and cheap!) things for them. I don`t like, for instance, just going out and buying Mairi the whole pile of curent Disney or Barbie themed pink plastic. She`d like it, of course, but she`d also be bored with it all by the New Year. Nope, she likes notelets and sticker books and little making things kits and a constant supply of good quality felt tip pens and paper. Anyone else reading this intending to give their daughter a 500 sheet pack of A4 paper as one of her Christmas presents? She`ll be really pleased with it too! Of course, I`m sure there`s going to be a Barbie in there somewhere.....

Duncan is getting more and more difficult to buy for. He`s ten now but not a sophisticated ten so he still wants toys, but not babyish ones! He`s got a computer and telly and lots of the latest beepy things and more wargames stuff than he could eat in a year, so this year has been a problem. (We did finally come up with something nice and quite grown up as his main present that he`ll love, but he sometimes reads this blog so I`m not saying.) But toys? He`s not particularly a Lego type and we have plenty anyway. More than plenty. Same with train sets, Scalectrix and robotic stuff. What toys do you buy for ten year old boys?

Apart from that, we`ve got Christmas dinner arranged at my BILs, a trip to see Cinderella in pantomime at the the Kings Theatre, a trip to see the Singing Kettles at the Festival Theatre (The not so sophisticated ten year old wants to go too "Just to help look after Mairi"), two school Christmas parties, rugby club Christmas party, Mairi`s ballet show, Scout Christmas Fair, Watchnight Service, school church service, school Nativity Play, two meals out this side of Christmas, Boxing Day with my sister and her family and a lunch out just after Christmas.

I think I need to go out and buy some alcohol too, just to get me through all this. Not that I drink much, but I feel I might need to!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

MatchPot Land.

In an effort to distract myself from the noisy mayhem outside, I`ve been creating a little mayhem of my own inside. In our very long hall, to be precise.

When we moved in to this house eight years ago the hall, to our complete mystification as to why, was "panelled" in rush matting up to shoulder height. Yup, you heard me right, rush matting. Of the type used to floor conservatories and such. Wierd or what? But it turned out to be very, very useful with two boys of four and two riccocheting around as it acted as a sort of padded cell for them. And over the years we sort of got used to it, even though it shed all over the carpet and bits fell off occasionally. After all, it could be changed "after the major work gets done outside".

Eight long years pass........

......and the kittens arrive. They really liked the rush matting. They could climb it. Trouble was, both the matting and the glue holding it to the walls (always a bit dodgy, that glue) was getting old. The matting began to fall off the walls in ernest, leaving yet another legacy of the previous owners taste behind. Glue. They loved glue. They must have used gallons of yellow tinged lumpy contact adhesive all over the wallpaper beneath just to hold the matting on. ("Why"??? I repeat? Why matting????)

So I`ve been faced with stripping, repapering and repainting our thirty foot long hall. With ten doorways to work round, five interior corners and an exterior corner. (Hall is L-shaped.) I can paper, but my dodgy ankle was going to be a bit of a handicap on top of a ladder reaching to our fifteen foot high ceilings. Big job. Too big. Can`t afford a decorator to do it. Quick fix is needed.

The solution has arrived in the form of our big wall sander, unused and forgotten since our last major bout of DIY twelve years and two houses ago. The adhesive is literally getting sanded off the walls. The paper beneath is don`t ask me why, but I can reduce the glue to the level of the random texture and when you paint over voila! Not perfect, but not at all bad. And painting the hall with a couple of coats of emulsion is do-able.

Which leads me to the MatchPots. Little pots of sample paint colours, for the American readers. You can paint a couple of square feet of your possible colour onto the wall and see how it looks. Because of course, the colours look nothing like the charts or names might suggest.

"Honeygold"......bright synthetic orange.

"Natural Calico".....dirty grey-white.

"Barley White".....dirty brown-white.

"Havana Intense".....sixty ciggies a day smoked underneath for the last ten years. "Nicotine Intense" would have been better.

"Natural Teraccotta".....dirty bricks.

"Natural Straw" poo.

And so it goes on. I may go with the Magnolia yet, lol. 99% of British homes have, or have had, a room painted in Magnolia sometime in their history. You know where you are with Magnolia. (Just about anywhere, really.....)

"Magnolia".....scientifically proven to be the most inoffensive colour on the planet. A sort of pale cream.

Magnolia it is, then.

Monday, November 06, 2006

And the walls came tumbling down....

Well, the workies are here, the windows at the study, loo and Mairi`s room are boarded up and they`ve started to strip the render. I don`t know why I had this vision of dwarvish hammers tinkling away delicately chipping it off, because in reality they`re using a sort of flat pneumatic drill. Or rather, three drills. The noise is incredible. Render is flying everywhere outside, lumps are falling off and I`m quite convinced that they`re going to drill through the walls. No wonder they took internal pictures of all the cracks!

Great fun. I may have to go and live in the allotment shed during the day if this keeps up though. One small mercy is that the kitbits don`t seem in the least bit fazed. They are sitting on the living room window ledge craning their necks to watch. Laid back kitties or just plain daft?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Glasgow Hobbycrafts show.

I went across to the Hobbycrafts show in Glasgow last weekend. To be honest, there`s pretty slim pickings at it for dedicated spinners and knitters as most of the stalls sell scrapbooking and cardmaking supplies, but there`s always a few knitting related things to look at, plus lovely quilting fabrics, beads and embroidery stuff. Also you get free entry to the next door show at the exhibition centre, the Crafts for Scotland show and that`s always worth a look round for early Christmas presents. My local church embroiderers group runs a coach across to it every October and are always keen to fill the bus up to keep costs per head down, so you even get an hour of knitting time each way. Well worth going for a day out.

As usual I headed for Black Sheep Wools and their often very interesting yarn mountain, where they often have packs of Rowan etc at 2/3rds off.

This is for a spring/summer jersey for Mairi...she suits these shades of sea blue, but it`s difficult to convince her that they`re appropriate for a girl. Pink, purple or nothing, according to her!

The only spinning purchase was from Mo Bair.

Two hundred grams of lovely soft hand dyed merino. Yum. Funnily enough I got stopped by four different women asking me where I got this as I wandered around carrying it in a clear plastic bag. All of them were spinners and desperate to find fibre in the show. I hope they got to Mo Bair before she sold out, because she only had one crate of fibre there. This was the only stall I found spinning supplies at last year as well...I got some lovely hand dyed silk noils there.

Craft fabric for lavender sachets to repel moths.

The Christmas cats will be for gift sachets, the funny cats at the back are for me.

I also found these highly useful embroidery thread boxes on sale for a measley £1.99.

I bought each for the kids to hold their escapologist Hama beads and one for me for my more mundane bead collection. Well worth every penny.

Apart from that I bought some Christmas themed stamps and pads for the kids to make their Christmas cards with, some peel-offs ditto and these....

They`re called Scraps, for these of you that don`t recognise them. I remember playing with them a a child, and I know some designs date back to the turn of the century. Not entirely sure what you were ever intended to do with them except for cut them out, look at them and swap them with your pals, which was what I did, but the kids liked them. (The cats were for Duncan, the fairies for Mairi and I bought more for Christmas.)

I also stopped by the Knit and Natter stand and met
Yvonne who runs it. Always fun to meet a fellow blogger when you`ve been reading their blog for ages.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A week of minor irritations.

I did actually think I was going to be able to post some knitting content this week! I had a pair of Opal socks on the needles I was determined to finish by the end of the month, just to say I`d been a vague and unfocussed member of Soctoberfest. I finished them sure enough....I`ve even worn them, but can I find them to take a photograph? No, I cannot. There can only be one of two explainations...either Mairi has swiped them to put in her secret treasure stash (they were pinkish, so she would have thought them rightfully hers) or the kittens have them. In which case, I may never get them back.

Bah to Soctoberfest then. Sorry, Lolly! I did cast on another pair directly after I`d cast off the Opal ones though.

This is a ball of the Regia Silk that I bought at Woolfest, and it`s irritating me. I`ve knitted a bit more of the leg than you see here and it feels lovely and soft, but it`s not as easy to work with as an all-forgiving 75% wool 25% nylon blend or similar. It knots in an instant, it pills and my usual perfectly adequately stretchy cast on is oh-too-tight. Also it`s "speaking" to me of a lacy stitch, not ribby. So it`s getting frogged.

Incidentally, I finally came to the frogging decision yesterday when I was grabbing half an hour of uninterrupted knitting time in the car outside my daughter`s ballet class. however...I didn`t have any other knitting with me, or even a book, so guess what I did? Yup, kept right on knitting, lol. Even I knew I was going to rip it out. Sad, addictive behavior, no?

I`ve also come to the conclusion that I`m a sock addict. Yes I know I`m a slow knitter and a pair of socks takes me a couple of months when done inbetween other projects, but since I learned to knit socks last year there`s never been a time when I didn`t have a pair on my old, well loved charity shop sock needles. Which is why though I`m going to leave the Regia Silk for a while till I find a nice pattern that will do it justice, I`m now going to go and investigate the sock wool basket and see what socks I`m going to cast on tonight.

Other minor irritations this week?

On Saturday night Mairi came through at 2am to tell me she`d thrown up. Being a tidy child (in some ways) she`d done this in her waste paper bin, which earned a lot of praise from Mummy! But she was sick a couple of more times that night and she did need a cuddle each time, so I had a bad night. And she needed a quiet day on the sofa with lots of Barbie DVDs the next day, so no allotment time for mum.

On Monday evening Duncan started throwing up....

...and it was my turn last night. Fortunately it`s one of these bugs that make you violently sick for 2-3 hours, then rubbish for another 12-24, then you`re fine. However Hubby is on a work trip in London so I haven`t been able to have my day on the sofa watching DVDs, sadly.

Because.....last and most important "minor" irritation of the week is that the washing machine died. Or almost...Washing Machine Repair Man Dave seems to think that as it`s a mighty German built Bosch that has performed magnificently over the eight years we`ve had it (10-12 loads a week, every week, or around 5,500+ washes) then it`s worth giving it a full organ transplant, ie a new motor. He seems to think (no reason to doubt this man, who`s been fixing washing machines for our family and friends for thirty years) that an eight year old German built Bosch with a new motor is still vastly superior to the current non-German built ones. Makes you think, eh? For a "mere" £150 our washing machine should be good for another five years, says WMRM Dave. Better than a £500 replacement that will only last five years as well, apparently.

Though I suppose it`s not in the commercial interests of a washing machine company to have their washing machines last for too long, is it? I hate this disposable society.

Rant over. I`m off to take Missy to the vet to get her stitches taken out. (She was neutered ten days ago). Don`t cats look peculiar with their fur part shaved off?

She didn`t want me to take a pix of her looking less than beautiful, clearly!

And as a finale.....Have you heard the expresion "It was like herding cats"? Too true....