Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Playing ketchup.

Like the allotment, the knitting has taken a bit of a knock recently, at least where progress is concerned. However, I am still managing to get the odd few rows done of an evening, and I did finally get to the end of the Mitred Square blanket.

In fact, this has been finished for a while now but has been waiting to be blocked. It still isn't blocked, but I finally decided just to blog it anyway as who knows when I'll get round to it! I'm fairly pleased with it though I slightly regret my decision knit it as separate squares and sew it together rather than picking up stitches. Try as I might, I couldn't get the seaming neat enough on the back for me to be entirely happy with it so now I'm toying with the idea of backing it with some cotton. But that can't be done until after it's blocked so at the moment it's still in limbo.

The Tangled Yoke cardigan is still on its needles (though fast approaching its first birthday). It has made it as far as the tangle, but then stalled again as this requires rather more concentration than I can usually muster of an evening.

Instead I've been playing about making things for P now that the weather's getting cooler and he might actually get some use from his woolies. I managed to rustle up this little red raglan cardigan for him whilst on holiday in Norfolk. Top-down seamless raglans are just so satisfying I find, and when they're this size they progress with gratifying speed. Having been left with the best part of a ball of the cotton I was then overcome by a fit of silliness and couldn't resist making the hat to match. I was originally thinking red pepper, but I think it's definitely tomatoesque now it's done.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The fruit (and vegetable) of our labours.

All in all the allotment hasn't perhaps had quite the amount of care and attention it could have had this year. Early planting was somewhat hampered by the fact that I couldn't bend down, and P's arrival coincided pretty closely with the time we should have been thinning and planting out those crops we did manage to sow. Once here, he also swiftly put paid to my fond ideas of pottering over to the allotment with the pram on balmy summer afternoons to do a bit of weeding/watering, etc. For one thing, it is virtually impossible to get the pram onto our plot on your own without tipping the poor little blighter out of it and into nextdoor's raspberry canes. For another, P has a very limited amount of patience when it comes to lying in his pram and being ignored, and soon starts shouting if you try to go off and do things which don't involve him. For a while the sling seemed to be the answer, but he soon reached a weight which made my knees buckle even if I wasn't trying to haul watering-cans about at the same time, and the bigger he gets the more difficult it is to see/reach past him to do anything. These days too, small hands shoot out to grab anything that comes within reach and convey it inexorably towards his mouth, whether the thing in question is edible or not.

So, gone are the days of spending all Sunday morning working away together while listening to the Archers omnibus, and these days allotmenting tends to be the odd half hour here and there, as a result of which a few things have gone a bit awry. The carrots, for instance, tasted ok, but since I never got chance to thin them out, quite a few took on interesting corkscrew forms where they had been pressing against one another. For the same reason we ended up with one raised bed which was wall-to-wall lettuce, all of which bolted much faster than we could eat it. The greatest disappointment, however, has been the cabbages. Unfortunately our homemade protective nets rather had the opposite effect to that intended, since they seem to have trapped a butterfly on the inside. As a result we ended up with skeletal cabbages and a bumper crop of caterpillars.

But nevertheless, all things considered our first proper season hasn't been too bad. As well as the lettuce and carrots we've had spring onions, radishes, and strawberries. Admittedly some of the radishes got forgotten and ended up the size of small turnips, but what the heck. Our unintentionally patriotic potatoes (three sorts: red, white, and blue) produced a reasonable crop, though they would no doubt have done better if we'd been more conscientious about earthing them up, and we have three little bags* of shallots hanging in the garage - plenty for our purposes. A summer of "sunshine and showers" also meant we spent most of July and August knee-deep in courgettes and runner beans and this week we harvested most of the borlotti beans which are now drying and waiting for me to find out precisely what one does with them.

Not too bad all things considered. Time to start thinking about next year now.

*For "bags" read "fishnet pop-socks". Well, where are you supposed to get little string bags from?

Friday, 18 September 2009

A delightful week in the country.

Last week we had our first holiday "en famille" - a week in a rented cottage in Norfolk - and it was great.

Owing to the fact that we went to a wedding on the morning we left and drove to Norfolk after the wedding breakfast, stopping halfway for a brief visit to P's uncle, we arrived at "The Barn" rather late on the Sunday night. But in spite of the inconvenient timing of our arrival, we were greeted by a roaring fire left for us by the owners along with croissants, butter and milk for breakfast, not to mention fresh eggs and a note encouraging to help ourselves to any more that appeared in the hen house during the week and to apples from the trees in the garden.

Having contrived through sheer good fortune to hit upon one of the best periods of weather in the whole summer we spent a happy week pottering, exploring the countryside, and enjoying the peace and quiet. P saw his first Norman castle,

went on his first steam train

got sand between his toes and saw the sea for the first time, though it wasn't really warm enough to get any closer.

And the weather was perfect. Warm and sunny though not hot, but cool enough in the evenings for us to make good use of the wood burning stove. I even managed to do a bit of knitting. Bliss!