Crosstown Traffic

February 27, 2009

‘Yes, this road can get really busy at this time of day,’ I heard myself saying the other day, before I could stop myself. A friend was giving me a lift home and had just had to pull in to let the fourth car pass in as many miles. I mean, really.

‘You don’t believe when you move here that you’ll ever complain about the Bigtown traffic, but you will,’ someone warned me last year. I pooh-poohed it at the time. Not any more. I’ll be moaning about the lack of parking next.


February 26, 2009


We noticed the first lambs in the fields. And where there are lambs, can swallows, cuckoos, warmth and, best of all, ‘New Season Lamb’ signs in butchers’ shops be far behind?

(picture shows last year’s lambs; your mileage may vary. Serving suggestion only)

So it Turns Out…

February 25, 2009

… that if you put purple paint on aluminium, it comes out pink

What can I say? I quite like them. Although the effect is … startling.

Not as startling as a disembowelled bunny bag, but getting there

Roadkill Chic

February 24, 2009

Standing in Notso Bigtown’s only wholefood shop this afternoon, we overheard another customer showing off her latest creation to the assembled staff. This was – how can I put this delicately – a handbag made out of a squashed dead hare. (The head, deliciously, formed an integral coin purse). ‘I keep the head tucked in,’ she said, ‘because it seems to bother people when they see it. And I had to sew it up here,’ she added, showing off the finer details, ‘because it was several days dead when I scraped it off the road. It’s perfect though: combined bag, purse, and children’s toy – look, you can turn it into a puppet*.’

The overall effect was disconcerting, to say the least, mainly because the head had no glass eyes so it looked even deader than your average stuffed animal. But it would be fairly pick-pocket proof, I would have thought – any aspiring Jimmy-the-dip who reached in to that bag was going to come out with more than he bargained for.

She at least seemed to think there was a potential market for them.

‘You don’t see that many hares on the roads, though,’ someone pointed out.

‘No but there’s plenty of rabbits. I’m going to make lots of them. I’m going to call them bunny bags,’ she said.

Hopefully she won’t come to the attention of this lot (scroll down for the real nutters)

* this last is not as far-fetched as it might seem. We were delicately brought-up urban children and one of our favourite toys was an old fox stole, still with the head and paws on.


February 23, 2009

I encountered this (sadly non-mythical) beast for the first time in ages the other day. I was returning triumphant with the paper, sailing down a nice long straightish hill, when I noticed a small truck in one of the tracks meeting the road. I started to slow down, thinking the driver would pull out in front of me but he didn’t move, and I assumed he had stopped there for lunch and resumed pedalling. Slow cycling’s all very well, but sometimes you like to have a bit of momentum to get you up the next hill. So when he did pull out, just as I reached the track, I was going considerably faster than him and had to jam on the brakes to avoid ending up as part of his load. Clearly my bicycle-generated magical cloak of invisibility is still going strong, despite being practically the only moving thing for miles around.

It was all the more annoying because the other two drivers I encountered had treated me with almost exaggerated courtesy, hanging behind my shoulder until the road widened, and then passing me slowly and steadily, leaving me as much room as they could without scraping their wing mirrors off on the opposite dyke. I’ve realised now where this behaviour comes from: this is the correct way to pass someone who is riding a horse, a far more common sight around here than a cyclist.

Maybe that’s what we’ve been doing wrong all these years: if all cyclists stood six feet high at the shoulder, weighed 500kg, wore iron shoes and could kick out your windscreen when startled, we’d all get treated with the a bit more respect…

*Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You

Sheepdog Fail

February 20, 2009

For the past few weeks, the field opposite our house has played host to what we’re calling ‘sheepdog school’. Four or five dogs, all but one tied up waiting their turn, some rather pissed-off looking sheep, and a man with a piercing whistle, shouting endless instructions. It used to be held in the field further up the road, near the waterfall, but it has moved – perhaps those were the beginner sheep and these are the intermediate ones. If they’re the sheep I think they are, they certainly seem to like escaping.

The other day the other half was enjoying a cigarette and watching the show as usual. All the tied-up dogs were yipping and bouncing and doing the sheepdog equivalent of sticking their hand in the air and shouting ‘please sir, me sir, I know the answer sir, ask me sir’ while their hapless classmate went through its routines. The field is hilly, so depending on where they are, you don’t always get such a good view, and on this occasion all the other half could make out of its progress was this:

‘Come by, Robbie, come by, steady, steady, come by phweeeep come on, steady, steady, steeeeeeady Robbie, come by phwip phwip phwip, Robbie!*’

Followed by

‘Now then. Where have the bloody sheep gone?’

*actual words may have varied. I don’t speak sheepdog, but that’s sort of what it sounds like

Get Knitted

February 19, 2009

So, as I mentioned earlier, knitting’s a bit addictive…

I started off simply enough with a hat, using a free pattern I found on the interwebs:

Officially 'Not Bad' according to the other half

Officially 'Not Bad' according to the other half

This would have gone better had I realised that UK and US knitting needle sizes aren’t just different but completely backwards, but I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. ‘Wow,’ said the other half, showing great faith in my talents, ‘that’s not actually that bad, will you knit me one?’

So I did (although he seems to have hidden it – or maybe he’s actually wearing it – so you’ll just have to believe me).

Then I knitted a scarf to go with my hat:

it was supposed to be longer but I ran out of wool

it was supposed to be longer but I ran out of wool

And then I went a bit mad and actually ordered some wool (cocaine might well have been cheaper) and knitted this:

Still waiting for me to work out how to knit handles

Still waiting for me to work out how to knit handles

Which was supposed to shrink down to lap-top bag size when I felted it but didn’t. It seems that all those airy felting instructions you read on the internet about just putting stuff in the washing machine presupposes a rufty-tufty top-loading American washing machine that washes things so that they stay washed, not one of our wimpy European front-loading eco-friendly washers that just sort of dabs them clean.

So anyway, nothing daunted, I then started to branch out and knitted a hot-water bottle cover which was based on this but with several off-piste additions of my own:

Like a tiny jumper, for someone with no arms. Or legs.

Like a tiny jumper, for someone with no arms.

Then I went even madder and knitted this:

Knitted felted mug cosy, patent pending

Knitted felted mug cosy, patent pending

Which is a mug cosy of completely my own design, albeit following the rather more detailed instructions for felting on the excellent ‘Knit like a Pirate’ site. The other half reports he can now eke out his coffee for fifty percent longer than before without it getting stone cold. This has made him correspondingly fifty percent harder to get out of bed in the mornings, especially with the nice snuggly hot-water bottle in there.

So … now what? A brief glance through the world of knitting websites suggests there’s nothingon earth you can’t knit, if you try hard enough. I’ve got three or four smallish balls of wool sitting tempting me on the kitchen counter… what would you knit?