The Annual Pilgrimage

(Hehe – I wrote this a year ago but wasn’t able to get the photos off the old camera for one reason or another – lucky for you went went again tonight but the battery on my camera went flat….)

(…July 2006…)
pao likes to get in touch with his roots so at least once a year we get in the car and go down to Deal to get fish and chips from Scarsden’s Fish and Chip Shop. We then sit on the beach (or if it is cold and windy huddled on the pier) and eat our fish and chips being dive-bombed by seagulls. (July 2007…Tonight we ate in the restaurant for the first time ever!)

Saturday evening due to the excessive heat in the house after we’d arrived back from Whitstable and Tyler Hill, pao decided he wanted fish and chips from Scarsden’s (Middle Street Fish and Chip Shop in Deal). So off we went. It was bliss being by the sea as temperatures were several degrees cooler and there was a breeze. Blessed relief.

(and at this point here we arrive back in 2007!)

It has been quite a pleasant day – the sun hasn’t been too hot and pao is much happier because the doctor said the infection is gone and prescribed him some large pink ibuprofen for the pain and a big lot of nasal snortiness to deal with the mucus.

Here are a few pictures I took before the battery died.

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It was a beautiful evening.

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Deal Pier.

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Man and fish statue.

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This is the closest I’ve been to a seagull since we left Canterbury!

Alicia sent the most amazing package which arrived on Saturday – when I’ve charged my camera I will show you photos πŸ™‚

I might even find the memory card for the old camera now I’ve got a memory card reader -(thank you, pao!) and show you the photos I took last year in Deal – I remember it really well because I was knitting Rebecca’s felted bag and it was so so hot that it was hard work to knit with the Lamb’s Pride in that weather and I got lots done in Deal.

La ligne d’arrivee

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Well, it has been a fraught couple of days of knitting like mad at every single opportunity. But I am glad to say that the temptation of those two cans of Red Bull in the cupboard has not at all been attractive but it was good to start the weekend sprint with some croissants.

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Say Bon Jour to my Kiri (unblocked but it will be soon) πŸ™‚ My arms hurt a bit now as the casting off took ages and was a bit fiddly. Now I’m just going to relax in front of the last hour or so of the Tour de France coverage and try and persuade pao he wants to have a rematch of Cat Attack (if you know anything about cats, you’ll understand how to play this game). Poor pao is still horribly ill with sinusitus – the doctor seems to have given him a different type of antibiotics which have put him back to where he was a week ago.

Oui, j’ai fait ceci moi-meme!! Toujours a la Parisienne!

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M: Mummy seems to be very busy with her knitting.
P: Yes, I think she has now done 12 repeats but she’s got a ball and a half of yarn left so I don’t think she’ll be finished yet.
M: From what we’ve seen, it looks like there is a doping scandal amongst the cyclists.
P: Oh dear, we’d better hide the Red Bull. We don’t want mummy getting caught up in that sort of thing.
M: Thank goodness it will all be finished on Sunday. I’m glad she didn’t go to Paris.
P: I expect she’ll knit all weekend if she has to. She got a bit tetchy when I tried to sit on her shawl earlier.
M: But she did go out for a meal last night.
P: She obviously is quite foolhardy.
M: Shall we have a play fight to get her attention?
P: Oh, go on then (swipe)

One month today…

… and we’ll be on a plane winging our way to the good old U S of A!!!!

Are we excited? You bet!!

So our provisional schedule is:
Friday 24th August – arrive in New York, New York!
Saturday 25th August – recover from jet lag – exploring
Sunday 26th August – more exploring
Monday 27th August – even more exploring
Tuesday 28th August – day trip to Niagara Falls and meet up with Mama Tulip!
Wednesday 29th August – more exploring in New York!
Thursday 30th August – travel to Minneapolis – we’re staying on a riverboat this night – I am very very excited about this!
Friday 1st September – move to more down to earth B&B in St Paul πŸ™‚ and exploring – we’re open to suggestions (pao mentioned something about a sci fi bookshop…) Hopefully we’re going to be able to meet up with Eileen and the Pirate and the Vampire either on Thursday or Friday! I may even get to meet up with Andy who I shared a house with when I was an uni – it is really weird but he now lives in Winona, MN and is married to an American lady – who said it wasn’t a small world.
Saturday 2nd September – MN state fair and meeting Chris and Jeanne and anyone else who wants to come along! (and hopefully Chaos and Mayhem, too if we are really really lucky!)
Sunday 3rd September – fly to Boston at lunchtime
Monday 4th September – day trip to Maine to see Kennebunkport and (hopefully) eat lobster
Tuesday 5th September – Friday 8th September – exploring Boston and going to the aquarium (we’re so excited about the aquarium that we’ve already bought tickets!!). Hopefully meeting up with Sarah πŸ™‚ All suggestions are welcome, please and thank you!!

Can you tell I’m EXCITED!!!! Sorry, I didn’t say how EXCITED I am!!! One calendar month (and so much work to get done before we leave – gulp!)

Oh my, Sunday’s Tour de France finish line is scarily close and I have five days to complete my Kiri. Would you be amused if I told you that I got up at just before six to fire off a couple of rows before work? I’m working on pattern repeat 9. Three more after this probably then I’ll do the edging. As you have probably guessed by now, I am not the fastest knitter. Even children could probably overtake me.

I missed out an all important hour of knitting at lunch time today because I took the opportunity to go and find out more about Chinese culture. Ni hao! (that means hello) Is it wrong to think that if I go out for dinner tomorrow night I might miss out on some vital hours knitting? (I probably will go but I’ll have to knit under the table with a torch whilst everyone else is eating or something!) I have to confess I am a bit worried that I won’t finish! I know I probably won’t be able to block it by Sunday but it would be nice to have it done.

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This is what my Parisienne looked like just over two weeks ago. I still have a long long way to go as I have a large part of one ball to go! My back edge now measures 44inches so not too far off 4 feet wide. Polly reckons that the finished product should be about 6 feet wide with 12 repeats so I’d better hurry now πŸ™‚

En arrière sur mon vélo encore !

I’m afraid I was a bit like Burghardt last week but I took a bit longer to recover. I am pleased to report that I am now back on my bicycle and am pedalling away quite happily. I have locked the dog up and I’m raring to go on my Kiri! I am now on my 8th pattern repeat and judging by the fact that Polly did 12 repeats, I might be about a third of the way through. I sense that there will be some furious knitting at all times that I am not needed for other things as I still have almost two balls of Parisienne to knit up (I have only just started the second one)… Sleep? Who needs sleep when I need to seriously sprint for it.

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Here I am on row 100. If I am going to do 4 more repeats I think I will have about 40 rows to do but they do get bigger as I continue!

Anyway, in the spirit of research for the blog, I sneaked into our local museum and snapped these illicit shots of bicycles in the special Tour de France display.

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(click on tiny photos for bigger versions)
How things have changed! I have to say I prefer the upright position of cycling rather than the hunched position that most bikes seem to have these days.

I watched a fantastic programme on the history of cycling on BBC4 the other night and it has made me covet one of these or one of these! (Complete with wicker basket and ding dong bell). As I haven’t ridden a bike since I was a teenager, I think I’ll have to content myself with something like this instead.

Chilling out in the garden

Foo and Rah took me to Jazz in the Garden at church yesterday (pao couldn’t come – he is still horribly sick) and it was lovely to chill out in the garden with knitting, a picnic and Pimms πŸ™‚ I managed to complete three rows of Kiri before I gave up – it was getting dark!

I’m still a bit sad – those old thought patterns of not feeling good enough have been rearing their ugly heads so I had a bit of an internal struggle about whether or not to go with them because it was in my head that I might be a bit miserable and not very good company. As it turned out, realising that this was a silly thought helped quite a bit and I didn’t slink away and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Now I’ve just got to concentrate on all the positive things I’ve achieved rather than letting one failure dwell on my mind. I have to say I’m very proud of a couple more websites that I’ve created for work as I’ve not experimented with CSS before. I think doing those has given me a bit of confidence I needed so fingers crossed that I will be allowed to continue to develop them.

Thank you ever so much to Foo and Rah for taking me out to the Jazz Evening and cheering me up immensely and just being incredibly supportive over the last week particularly when the pao was sick. They are great! They brought me home (which is miles out of their way) when I was feeling particularly tired from not sleeping properly the night before when it was just too hot and I had gotten up at 5am. You two are simply wonderful!

SRP Book 10

Coot Club by Arthur Ransome

I hadn’t completely finished reading Coot Club which I was in the middle before I read the new Harry Potter so I finished it last night so it was a little odd to plunge straight back into the mild-mannered world of messing about with boats on the Norfolk Broads. Coot Club sees Dick and Dorothea on holiday with Mrs Barrable in the Norfolk Broads. They are all very excited because they are hoping to learn how to sail however they are disappointed on arrival. It is only when Mrs Barrable strikes up with the doctor’s son, Tom, that they are able to go off on an sailing adventure. This is particularly exciting because they are dodging the “Hullabaloos” who are after Tom for loosing their moorings and setting them adrift because they had selfishly moored right next to a coot’s nest separating the parents from the eggs.

I found a couple of treasures in a charity shop the other week:
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A set of lace bobbins – not completely sure what I’m going to do with them but they look pretty!

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A ball of pretty lilac cotton. I’m sure a use will present itself! I have a copy of the Mason-Dixon knitting book and there are some great ideas in there πŸ™‚

It’s Harry Potter O’Clock

pao woke me at midnight so that I could get my copy of HP7. It was only Β£5 at a certain 24 hour supermarket! So naturally I came out with HP7, a couple of sun loungers (which I sat on and wrigggled about muchly on to make sure they would cope with being sat on since they turned out to be Β£9.50 each), some baby-related gifts and a knitting magazine! I just finished reading it about 11am this morning with a four-five hour snooze in between since I got home at 1am.

I have been a bit remiss about my Summer Reading Program reporting this summer. Don’t get me wrong, I have been reading away quite diligently – I just haven’t written my reviews yet!

Ok, so it only seems fair to catch up on those today….

SRP Book 8

Live Bait by PJ Tracy

I have to thank Chris again for sending me the first of this excellent series. I read this in one sitting – it is gripping stuff.

The novel opens with the murders of two elderly citizens of Minneapolis: one is a much-loved garden centre owner and the other a disabled man. Though shocked by these killings, the police cannot link them because the method of dispatch in both cases was so different. When another two other killings of a senior citizen occur, similarities with the first case come up – all three were Holocaust survivors. But what did the killer want with these elderly people? This is such a clever story which keeps you guessing right up til the end!

SRP Book 9

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Well, I can tell you that this book was certainly worth the wait! The final instalment of the Harry Potter series has not let me down. I was glued to it (with my snooze break) solidly since I got my hands on it and it is now in pao’s hot little feverish hands to read at his more leisurely pace. With Dumbledore dead and Harry on the verge of turning 17, it is a critical time because the Dark Lord is more powerful than ever. At the end of the last book, Harry has been charged with the important task of finding the Horcruxes and destroying them. With this task in mind, Harry, Ron and Hermoine, set out on this dangerous quest.

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Ophelia can’t understand why someone would want to get up in the middle of the night to read a book!

Catch up!

My brain is not functioning very well at the moment because I forgot to mention that Chris sent an amazing Cat Mix CD with my package the other day. I think it wasn’t completely my fault because after we’d listened to a little of it in the car on the way to work, pao spirited it away to his office and I haven’t seen/heard it since. pao’s been sick and has sinusitus which has spread down to his chest so I am on cooking and nursey duty. Poor pao has had to eat a lot of gnocchi and fresh pasta. Tomorrow he’s going to have pizza with no cheese because my cooking skills have taken a nosedive since we moved!

You know that feeling when you really really really want something but it feels like stuff is conspiring against you and you just can’t have it? Well, I felt a bit like that this week so I’ve been a bit quiet and weeping into my pillow. Just telling other people who were hoping along with you is impossibly hard and you can’t look at your phone in case someone has asked about it again. It has been so bad, I haven’t knit a single stitch since Tuesday but I did start knitting again today on the Child’s French Sock as I was on the train to another site today. I’m almost ok again now as I’ve told myself that it will happen next time because it’ll be different.

Besides, who can stay sad when this wonderful package from Carrie K arrived last Saturday after being hostage in our post office for a couple of days until I could there when it was open.

We organised a little coffee swap again because I’d missed out on signing up to the Knitter’s Coffee Swap but to be honest, I love swapping with Carrie K so I wasn’t at all sad!

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I can testify that Chewy Peps are highly addictive and the tin will be great for storing my DPNs in after I’ve eaten the contents – oops, that might not be very long. Look at that gorgeous local hand-dyed yarn and those Lantern Moon DPNs! I can’t even begin to express how excited the Lantern Moon Sox Stix made me – they are so smooth and strokable!!! I love the Vogue Sock book and the cat buttons! Peet’s Coffee is awesome and isn’t that the best card for a knitter?

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This might explain why there aren’t many photos of Merlin on the blog. I will get out the camera and he will look the opposite way!

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That’s better, now stop scratching on the window!

Love is in the air

Chris and Jeanne sent me the most amazing package!

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Look at that bag with all the flowers on it πŸ™‚ It is so bright and cheery! There was also a lovely notebook, a tape measure (can’t have enough of those), a sheepy Pez, little boot point protectors and a tiny sock blocker (so cute)!

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There was also yarn πŸ™‚ Panda Cotton which I’ve been wanting to try and a very coveted hand-dyed sock yarn – dyed by none other than Chris herself! Don’t you love that card πŸ™‚

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Jeanne sent the most amazing bag (oops, I’ve already stashed something in it), Socks that Rock (Jeanne, you are a mind-reader because I really wanted some more of that) and the most amazing magnets of all the cats, pao and a really special one of me and my mum. I have to say I shed a tear when I saw that one! They are now on my bedside lamp πŸ™‚

Thank you so much to both of you for such thoughtful and wonderful gifts!! I love them all! Carrie K and I indulged in a little coffee swap as I’d missed the Knitter’s Coffee Swap this time and her package arrived on Saturday so photos of that soon.

Tour de France knitalong news: I’m up to 5 repeats of the pattern and I’m running out of space on my needles. The post office in Canterbury are holding my new longer needles hostage so I will have to get them at the weekend. I hope that I can hold out til then! I think I’m about a quarter of the way through now so I’ll have to push hard this weekend!

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Jeanne said that there weren’t many photos of Merlin on my blog so here is a new one. I think Merlin has really taken a liking to Sunshine!

I’m spinning around

I have to apologise because some of you have waited over a week for me to post about my spinning lesson day. I blame the Tour de France πŸ™‚

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I started off with a lovely cup of tea and was given a lovely present of a brooch (which I’m wearing in the photo). My first lesson was in carding the fleece and making little rollags of yarn for later on. My favourite carding device was a pair of dog grooming brushes! I also liked the long handled brush for banging the wool – I’m sorry but the technical names for these things has escaped me!

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It wasn’t long before I was sitting at the wheel. It is definitely a lot harder than it looks which is what I suspected. Next to me is Helle, Carol’s labrador who proved to be such a good influence that every time she walked off my spinning would go awry. I am having a hard time convincing pao that a golden labrador is an integral part of the spinning package.

Carol treated me to the most amazing lunch of homemade quiche and salad before I got onto spinning some brown fleece from Jacob’s sheep.

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I plyed these together which was strange for my feet were used to spinning and produced a skein of yarn!

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I am trying to convince Max that the skein is mine not his!

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Here I am with my new doggie friends! (Sshhhhh, don’t tell the cats)

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In the evening, pao and I went to Skippers in Bridge . There was a partial power cut in the village so we ate mostly by candlelight in the semi-darkness but it was absolutely wonderful.

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Skippers is famous for their chocolate cabbage!

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Not only did I get a spinning day and a lovely alpaca called Annie, pao also organised this pile of presents too (plus another surprise which arrived a few days later having been held at customs for almost a month – photos of that soon). Inside were the rest of the Swallows and Amazons books which I have been collecting, No Pattern Knits and Katje the Windmill Cat which is worth it for the beautiful artwork inside πŸ™‚ He surpassed himself by subscribing me to the Hip Knits club and I was sent my welcome and birthday gift together – I’ll post photos of these soon!

I just want to say a big thank you to pao for spoiling me rotten on my birthday! I loved my day learning to spin and I’m seriously looking at spinning wheels so any tips would be appreciated. I used an Ashford Traveller with a single treadle during the day which I quite liked but Ashford only do double treadle now. I think I’ll have to try one out before I decide which one it will be. Any advice is appreciated!