June 18, 2013
There is ford-and-tadpole news but it needs me to have a decent camera so it will have to wait so I shall bore you instead with a knitting post, as it’s my blog and I can if I want to.
Some while back I discovered that some of my knitwear had fallen prey to clothes moths – I’ve already had to recycle one into socks – including two nice merino numbers, one navy cardigan and one sort of fawn-coloured jumper. Having tasted the delights of a snug merino base layer during the winter* I thought I’d better not let those go to waste so I unravelled what was left and have been looking for a project to make use of the wool ever since. I came across this pattern which seemed just the ticket although even with three strands of it held together (which makes for an interesting colour – something like plasticine after all the different colours have been munged together) my wool is much finer than the gauge for the pattern so in order to make it fit I’m having to knit it for basically a 42-inch chest, which I can assure you I’m not. Ahem. Anyway, that meant casting on approximately a million stitches so it’s slow going…
I’m hoping it will be finished for winter, although which winter is anyone’s guess.
The pattern starts off nice and simple (once you’ve figured out circular knitting) and then gets oh-help-that’s-quite-complicated around the sleeves and things but I am sure I will manage to work it out. They used to select women who could knit to operate computers during the war because if you could read a knitting pattern you could work out a computer, so I’m hoping that – as a former computer programmer – this also applies the other way around. Surely after mastering C++ instructions like “Next Row [WS]: Work all sts in patt, picking up wraps and working them together with wrapped sts. Join to held sts of back left shoulder using Three-Needle Bind Off” should be child’s play… And once finished, how environmentally sound will it be? Not only is it entirely recycled and hand made, it should keep me nice and warm rather than cranking up the heating. Although, on the debit side, I suppose it did entail the destruction of an important invertebrate habitat…
And when I’ve finished that, look what my cousin found me in the car boot sale, for 50p.
It’s shetland wool, two-ply. Any suggestions or requests? Because otherwise that’s an awful lot of socks…
*that’s August to June, in case you’re wondering
June 17, 2013
At this time of year, the hedgerows and verges are a mass of flowers as the cow parsley, hawthorn and, er, pink flowers run riot along the side of the road.
And so too are my own borders – about three weeks later than normal – as the columbines, snow-in-summer, poppies, solomon’s seal and mystery purple things also get into their stride.
The difference is that in a couple of weeks, most of the flowers in my beds will be more or less over – everything pretty much peaks in June and then spends the rest of the summer sitting around looking green and lumpy – whereas the verges just go on and on and on, with the cow parsley giving way to meadowsweet and then to foxgloves and willowherb (and a few outbreaks of Himalayan Balsam, but let’s draw a veil over that one). It makes me wonder why I bother – my beds involve much weeding, mulching and trips to village plant sales, while Mother Nature somehow manages to arrange a whole succession of flowers right through until September aided by nothing but rain and a going over with what looks like a lawnmower on a stick courtesy of a man from the council on a tractor once or twice a year.
It’s enough to make you take up growing carrots…
June 14, 2013
When you’ve boasted within earshot of the weather gods of the magnificence of your broad beans while noting their vulnerability to the faintest of breezes due to your having neglected to stake them, would it be a good idea to go up immediately and stake them before it’s too late?
And if you’ve failed to do so immediately would it behove you to then take more than an academic interest in the weather man announcing that today would be unusually windy for June and sprint up and stake them then before the wind got up and your broad beans ended up looking like this?
And would it, on the whole, be easier to tie up broad beans on a nice still calm-before-the-storm sort of morning rather than at the point when the storm is roaring in on a north wind?
And is this what a stable bolted after the horse has gone looks like, interpreted in the medium of string, stakes and battered-looking broad bean plants?
When will I learn?
June 11, 2013
… while it lasted. It last rained on Bank Holiday Monday, which meant we’ve had an unprecedented fortnight of fine, dry – even warm – weather, and in summer no less. Until today when to the relief of tadpoles everywhere the rain resumed normal service and is apparently set to continue all week. It’s a bit of a shock to the system as I’ve got used to spending most of the day outside – coffee on the bench in the sunshine, editing on the laptop in the shade, a cool drink and a bowl of cherries in the last of the evening sun. We were actually contemplating lighting the fire this evening…
I still live in hope that this was no more than a harbinger of things to come, but even if the summer resumes along more normal lines, we can still say we’ve had about a week more summer than we got last year. After the spring we’ve had – and the winter we’ve had – and the autumn we had – and the last summer we had – we were due a bit of sunshine, and we got it and we even got out and enjoyed it. Can we ask for anything more?
June 10, 2013
Though the weather today wasn’t quite as gloriously warm as it’s been these past few days – some modest clout retrieval has taken place after some possibly ambitious clout casting went on at the weekend (although not to this extent) – it still hasn’t rained for ages; I’ve even had to water some of the garden.* Not only is the ford still dry, but it’s not looking good for the remaining tadpoles:
One last pocket of ditch water remains, now closely resembling tadpole soup, although it’s hard to see as the tadpoles left are the ones that are bright enough to dive for cover when something comes looming over them and my phone camera doesn’t really do zooming. Or indeed, focusing, really.
The other half had reported that the pond behind the house where I had put the rescued frogspawn was full of tadpoles so I wandered up to have a look. I didn’t see any actual tadpoles (although there was a lot of movement under the water) but I did see three newts lurking in the shallows. Perhaps not all my wildlife rescue attempts are entirely in vain
* I am not, repeat NOT, complaining about this, if any Weather Gods are listening. The exercise does me good and the outdoor tap has developed a leak so it’s good to have somewhere for the resulting watering cans-full to go
June 8, 2013
Excitement knows no bounds in the Town Mouse household as a sign appears on Noticeboard Tree announcing ukulele workshops. It’s a sad truth that, after a promising start my ukulele has sat sad and abandoned (despite frequent prompting from the neighbour who, bless him, still believes me to have some musical talent even though I’m sure he must have heard me singing in the shower) since the mallet finger incident. The finger is long healed, but the uke never quite got taken up again – at least until now. Could this be the prompt I’ve needed for so long – a ukulele workshop, within cycling distance? Or,at least I think it’s within cycling distance. The problem is that the ink has run on the sign giving the crucial information of *where* the ukulele workshop is being held because the rain has got into the lamination and ruined it.
There has been wild talk in community council meetings about setting up a village website where news of such things could be disseminated, although so far nothing has actually come of it. The other half is dismissive of such novelties – who needs a website when you have a tree – and on the whole I’m inclined to agree, if only because if anyone was going to set up a village website it would be muggins here. On the whole, I’ve found, people don’t really do websites round here, preferring the tried and tested TTP (tree* transfer protocol) approach. This may mean that the rain gets in and runs the ink on your notices – but then again, at least there’s less chance of the US government discovering what you’re up to, especially if they don’t get around to checking the trees before it’s rained. I’m 99.9% certain that they have no interest – yet – in any mass outbreaks of ukulele playing, but you can never be too careful.
*telegraph poles may also be pressed into service, if need be
June 7, 2013
The plot in June
Astoundingly (and I will undoubtedly live to regret this), despite mega busyness these last few months, I seem to be vaguely on schedule with the vegetable growing this year. This is partly down to a late spring, and partly down to the recent glorious weather which has meant that, despite the fact that I’m really too busy to be gardening, I’ve just had to grant myself at least an hour a day on the days when I’m not gadding about too much.
Things are all a bit weedy (and by ‘a bit’ I mean ‘really quite a lot’, obviously) but the potatoes are looking good, onions are in, my leeks are – for once – bigger than my spring onions which is only partly down to the fact that the pheasant has nipped all the spring onions’ heads off, the peas and broadbeans are flourishing although I’ll definitely regret saying that because I haven’t staked my broadbeans yet and it will only take a mild breeze to knock them over, the french beans, parsnips, kale, perpetual spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and garlic are all in, and the only thing so far that’s looking a bit miserable are the mangetouts which the slugs have discovered you can definitely mange tout of them, and have. I’ve even managed to get some sweetcorn germinating directly in the ground, it’s been so warm. If this is our summer, and I suspect it is, then everything’s going to bolt like mad in July but for now I’m just going to enjoy it, while touching wood and crossing my fingers and sending up a prayer to the weather gods not to ruin absolutely everything…
You know this was intended to show my magnificent broad beans but it turned out to be also of my magnificent weeds…
Just concentrate on the magnificence of those beans, eh?