So the saga continues

Today’s saga is gas. I received a gas bill which stated I was almost £500 in credit. Yippee – thought I.

However, after yesterday’s experience, I sent pao out to check the meter. Just in case. Another long wait on hold: I was prepared with sock knitting, cordless phone and Ophelia this time. Just under the 20 minutes they claimed I might have to wait, I got a person and asked how I got a bill today saying I was £500 credit today and yesterday I got one that said I was £200 in credit but the numbers for the readings were completely and utterly different. Today’s reading was 3900, yesterday’s said something like 5700. Our actual reading is about 6200 so I was very puzzled.

After hearing our reading, I was told: “Oh, madam, you have to pay us £500 not the other way round.”

“Grrrrrrreat,” said I, “so how much will I have to pay a month now?”.

After a very long wait whilst she went off and did some calculations, she came back on the line stating an amount that was double our current payment. I asked how today’s bill could be so wildly different from the one I got yesterday in that there was a 2000 unit difference between the two. (Oh, and to confuse matters all the more, I got another bill saying that they were writing off my £1.15 bad debt, ????? and it was a Final Bill). The new, not quite right bill for today said “First Bill” at the top, confusing really since I’d been getting bills quite regularly since we moved in.

There was a long silence after which we came to the conclusion that I would endeavour to find my meter reading from when I moved in plus the 7 or 8 bills that I got from them right after we moved in with different meter numbers on and they would ring me back tomorrow. We have asked our next door neighbours to have a look at their meter as I have a suspicion that the mythical meter reader actually read their meter and not ours.

But who knows? I need to lie down now. They are hurting my head.

What the … Monday?

  • I got home today to find I had an electricity bill for £2009 and some pence on my doorstep. Somehow we had managed to use £1800 worth of electricity in 5 months. I knew those cats have been up to something. Obviously they been baking all day and had all the lights on again.
  • After being on hold for 15 minutes feeling a tiny bit anxious, I eventually spoke to someone who was puzzled by my name in that I was listed on their computer under my married name despite the huge bill being in my unmarried name.
  • They think the meter reader had read the meter for the house next door.
  • That is because former owner listed address under former stupid house name and took the plaque with the stupid name on it away with them when they moved. When we moved in, we asked for the energy company to change the address to what the Post Office had it listed as and ordered a plaque with the house number on it instead
  • No, I am not telling you what the stupid name is.
  • I shouldn’t really be surprised that they’ve messed up considering the last time I had to phone them.
  • A meter reading supplied by pao soon brought my next four monthly payments down to a manageable amount rather than the £500 per month they were suggesting. Thank goodness.
  • I know energy prices have gone up but really!
  • I’ve just been sent the rough edit of a video I’m involved with .. and I’m all ‘what were they thinking?’
  • At this point, I realise that I badly need a holiday. A proper holiday with no degree work looming or sick people to look after. Somewhere far far away with yarn shops. 😉
  • But this isn’t likely to happen this year.
  • But that is down to doing a degree course and looking after poorly people.
  • Or ever again if the gas bill is like the electricity one.
  • Besides I managed to write another 250 words of the book chapter this afternoon. That takes me up to 1000 words – woohoo. Only another 5-7000 words to go before my self-imposed deadline next Friday.
  • Will I make it? Well I used to write 3000 word essays overnight when I was an undergraduate student. So two and a half nights might suffice.
  • People keep saying I look tired and I respond that I’m overly busy. This is just before they ask me to do something else for them.
  • I bought 90 Berocca tablets yesterday to get me through this period of bleurgh. Well, more accurately, there were a 145 but I gave away my free pack to a friend who needed some defeating the object of 3 for 2.

Ok, rant over but seriously – what is going on! I need some sort of good vibes for the next week, please please please. Thankfully I got over my painful writer’s block today but I need to get a move on with the chapter and kick my co-authors up the posteriors as they are supposed to be sending me material for it. Particularly since one of them is going to Minneapolis next week. Jealous, me? Of course I am.

On a happier note, I did have a lovely time at the Eurofair this weekend. I forgot to take my camera so you can’t see a photo of the musicians who reminded me of this Monty Python song from the Meaning of Life. Mrs B and I didn’t get to sample as much lovely food as normal but we did come away with some bargains and pao and I now have some artwork in our bedroom.

I finished my Teatime cardigan late last night – just in time for the cold weather!

I love it. It fits nicely but sheds like mad so will have to investigate what on earth I can wear it with so I don’t look like I have half a cat permanently attached me.

Talking of cats,

Perdita seems to have been impersonating a bag lady. Hey, Perdita – things really aren’t that bad. Yet.

Greeny goodness

The only good thing about feeling a bit urgh on Sunday was that I was able to finish off the arms of the Teatime cardigan. It had a lovely soak and now is blocking happily in the dining room to Ophelia’s intense curiosity. I employed the technique of knitting the two front panels and then the two sleeves at the same time on the same needle I saw Sarah doing with her sister’s Central Park Hoodie and it was really quick. In particular, it saves me from misremembering what I’m doing. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish it off quickish now – just a case of sewing up, putting on the neckband and button-band and I’m away.

I’m am astonishingly tired at the moment but there are a lot of icky bugs going round so I’m taking the euthanasia** tablets and crossing my fingers for the best.

** my special name for echinacea tablets. I once slipped up and called them euthanasia tablets and the name has stuck ever since.

Why I wasn’t writing last weekend

I had a plan. I had even brought the whole box of information I needed for writing the chapter back home with me on Friday night but I remembered with horror that I didn’t have the files I needed – they were on the work server and I hadn’t got VPN fixed up because I didn’t want to be that accessible at home. pao reassured me that he had VPN so off we merrily went to grandma’s for tea and a flake out on her sofa.

On Saturday, I noticed that the forecast said we were going to have two whole days of sunshine so knowing this week was going to be full of adrenaline-sucking scary training sessions, I thought I’d kick back and do some fleece washing before it becomes too cold and wet to hang around in the garden fr long. So I gathered my equipment together and got started:

Two kettles.

Washing up liquid and vinegar. I haven’t used vinegar before but believe me when I tell you it does wonders for the smell. Once you have a snifter of vinegar, the sheepy odour is a lot less pungent.

I’ve got two of these big trugs for washing fleece in. I got this blue one from Mothercare of all places when pao and I had concluded that one baby bath was not sufficient for washing fleeces in and had gone to buy a second when my eye fell on the trugs for keeping toys in. The trug was also much cheaper and much more practical for pouring away stinky water. I also have a pink one because I’m equal opportunities with my trugs.

The baby bath we got given in exchange for our old washing machine by pao’s Aunty Lindsey works well as a place to do the cold rinse. The sledge-like aspect is perfect for tipping the water away into the flower bed.

This is what the fleece looked like before it was washed. Phoebe was purring and kneading like mad when she encountered it again.

See what a difference the washing makes! I had pao rig up a make-shift drying line with some string and it is perfect for drying fleece.

I still have two fleeces left to wash – one black, one white. I have come to the conclusion that the white fleeces were much better cared for as they weren’t left to get wet in the rain like the black ones as they don’t smell as pungent. I could have carried on but I’d been at work for five hours and the kettles had worked in over drive. In case you are thinking – why on earth didn’t she just boil some big saucepans of water. We did this last time round but pao was also taking advantage of the good weather and varnishing the outside window frames so it was easier to work with the kettles than disturb him whilst he was working on the only door between the kitchen and the garden.

Best laid plans

Well, you see, I had planned to blog the day after I said I was going to last week but in my defence I’ve been ultra busy with those training sessions. I’m about halfway through now and the two big groups I talked loudly and enthusiastically to about their tasks this week seem to have understood and are getting on with them. It was a little weird to be complimented by real teachers and one of the students said she is coming back again for the same training tomorrow because she enjoyed the class today (???). I even got to go out for lunch today with MrsSJT which was really rather nice as I’d skipped it altogether or cut it short quite a bit lately but it did mean I could get a gift for pao’s birthday which is rapidly approaching. As far as writing goes, I’ve written 700 words so far so really not too good going but I’m going to try and get on with it during the weekends and evenings after work. Enough rambling – I bet you’re really here to see the swag.

I promised last time I’d show you the gorgeous birthday gifts that Lynne sent. She has an excellent memory and remembered that I’d been surprised at the idea of milk yarn so she sent me some Vicki Howells milk yarn which has quite a lovely texture. I’m interested to see how that knits up. Look at that gorgeous hand-dyed she sent with it – it is such a beautiful colour. I love it!! Lynne is a very talented dyer indeed and she is starting up shop again – hooray! Thank you, Lynne!!

But the gifts didn’t stop there. Last night, pao handed me a rather large box with a smile on his face. It was from Sarah (if you click on her blog – make sure you check out her most awesome Hemlock Blanket)! She and pao had been doing some plotting and she sent me this amazing gift. Not only did she send the cutest kitty box bag and some really soft and gorgeous fibre from Sweet Sheep (colourway Harmony if you are interested) but one of the drop spindles her dad makes. I really really like her dad’s drop spindles because they are so beautifully made but they also have a very neat little groove which will definitely make a difference when spinning. Mine is made of cherry wood which is so warm and beautiful. I found some photos of other spindles he has made on Flickr – what an amazing talented family. Thank you so much, Sarah (and pao the plotter)!

Ophelia’s been desperate to get my attention lately because I’ve been so busy that I had trouble trying to get a photo of my lovely gifts without her.

But she is pretty cute for a distraction.

“Your socks don’t match”

Observed pao this evening as I showed him my latest FO.

I did observe this myself as I was knitting them but kept thinking I might find the green bit again, maybe. Anyway, I like them because they are more than a little unmatchy.

The yarn was ever so attractive on the skein too but now I revisit the photo I see the splodge of green. 🙂

It is Posh Yarn‘s Laura sock yarn and the first time I’ve knit with it. Despite the splodge (which I do like), it is lovely to knit with. Thank you to pao for purchasing it for me.

Tomorrow I’ll show you the lovely surprise sent by Lynne 🙂

Now I really ought to stop procrastinating and think about doing some writing or go to bed!

Taking a Christmas moment

I knew I was going to be astoundingly busy for the next 6/7 weeks so I declared that we should have ‘Christmas’ yesterday. For us, last Christmas was the best Christmas we’d ever had: got up when we wanted to, lounged around in PJs after church, watched films and ate when we felt like it. No phones, no cooking and entertaining for hoards of people: just some magic quiet time together.

So that is what we did. We made it to our village church for the simple communion service where I certainly got confused about the singing of the responses; I made apple pie, jam tarts and carrot soup; we watched two films; lay on the sofa with the cats. It was bliss.

Now I’m back in a whirlwind of to-do lists, planning training sessions and hoping I’ve not forgot anything! It was magic while it last it.

Sock meme

Dashing in to say hello and do a quick meme before bedtime I was tagged bySarah:

When did you learn to knit socks? 2006

What’s the first sock you ever knit? Cuff down in Regia

Favorite sock pattern? I love plain ones if the yarn is patterned. I really like Nancy Bush’s Child’s French Sock pattern.

Favorite sock yarn? Too hard to choose one but I’d have to say that I adore Socks That Rock.

Fave needle method? DPNs

Favorite sock needles? Clover Takumi 2.5mm bamboo needles.

Who do you knit socks for? Me and pao but mostly me because pao has big feet.

How many pairs have you knitted to date? Hmm — maybe 30?

What’s on your sock knitting to-do list? Try out the magic loop method.

What kind of socks do you like to knit –
Striped? Yes
Colorwork? Not tried them.
Plain stockinette? Good for switching off too.
Cabled? Yes!
Lace? Yes
Anklets? Not tried them.
Knee socks? Love them – planning to knit more.
Solid colors? Definitely
Bright & crazy? Good considering I wear all black.
Faux-Fair Isle? Opal is my friend.

I met up with my co-authors for our book chapter today and whilst I was making them both drinks they spent ten minutes arguing over the title of the chapter. When I arrived back with drinks, I pointed out that we had more pressing things to worry about at the moment: namely how we were going to structure the chapter, write and polish it before the November 1st deadline. The penny dropped that we’d not got long. Luckily, I’ve been feeling a bit antsy since I have been having a break from my degree so I was more than happy to take on the task of doing the writing with the other two doing the chipping in with bits and pieces.

I’ve been so antsy lately I’ve started baking in the evenings when I get home for work. This is bad news for my trousers so I am rather glad of something to do instead (yes, I know I could be knitting but I’m in a weird “it’s getting cold, I’ve got to restock the freezer” kind of mode at the moment). This strange baking obsession was not helped by the lovely windfall apples I was given today with the promise of more of those to come. I see apple sauce, apple pie, apple apple all in my future. Apple cake, too since we have a village orchard nearby with eating apples very much in evidence.

Help, I’m even contemplating making soup! So I’m hoping that writing will occupy my mind enough until it is time to go back to my degree work. It’s weird though, I’ve had a thoroughly busy day today non-stop from the moment I arrived at work til the moment I got home but my brain is still busy and wants more to do.

Perdita says: All this baking means ice cream and custard – good for me… mrowwww…

Yarn harlotery in London

Ever since I got the email saying that the Yarn Harlot was going to be in London this past Saturday, I have been so very excited The most amazing yarn evangelist was coming to speak and I had two tickets to see her. So I took pao since I figured that he really ought to hear what the deal was with the yarn love. It has been a couple of years since I started knitting again in earnest and her name popped up all the time. People turned out in their hundreds to see her speak and I was in awe of those amazing photos of all those knitters but this time she was in my country speaking to British knitters. What an amazing experience it was too!

I was so pleased to sit down with my second Posh sock.

I admit that I was slightly star struck when we met Stephanie at her signing. She said ‘Oh, so you’re mrspao.’ Eep, thought I but luckily pao was there to take a photo of us both with her sock. I got to hold the sock! I got to hold THE sock! I am so very lucky. It is interesting to hear that she was really nervous because I was really nervous meeting her but she has such a lovely personality she really makes you feel at ease. Come back soon, Stephanie! London needs you!

Blogging and knitting may be few and far between in the next few weeks. Last week saw us both manning the 24-7 prayer room at church for very small chunks of time and an all night session on Saturday evening (yes, after a trip to London, too!) but I did grab a couple of hours sleep whilst pao took over and vice versa. This week, I’m in the swing of start of termitis and it makes life even more busy than usual. I have to give the first training session out of about 10 (I thought it was 9 but an extra one has been added) before the end of September tomorrow. Five of those sessions are over two days – I find myself thinking “I didn’t become a teacher because ???” I’m a bit out of practice and the software has changed slightly and as usual I’ve had no time to prepare myself. Hopefully it will all come flooding back to me and the crowd of external users will forgive me if I’m terrible. It usually isn’t too bad if the students are there but I am easily put off. Must go now – I’m exhausted and it is only 7.20pm!

A tasty meme

It’s Friday, it’s the weekend, so it must be meme time!

The rules of the meme: bold those you have tried, strikethrough those you wouldn’t eat on a bet.

1. Venison I quite like venison sausages but they are a bit strong.
2. Nettle tea Possibly something I’d not drink again.
3. Huevos rancheros – I like the sound of these but haven’t tried them.
4. Steak tartare Sounds a bit
5.Crocodile. If it was on a stick at MN State Fair I might consider it…
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue. Why o why did I marry someone who doesn’t like cheese?
8. Carp. I’ve had wall eye but not carp.
9. Borscht. Beet soup sounds intriguing.
10. Baba ghanoush. I’m not a big fan of aubergine but I’d give it a try.
11. Calamari
12. Pho. I’ve not heard of this before but a rice noodle soup sounds pretty nice.
13. PB&J sandwich I had one this morning.
14. Aloo gobi. Curry, mmm.
15. Hot dog from a street cart In New York 🙂
16. Epoisses – depends on how strong flavoured it is
17. Black truffle. I keep seeing people making omelettes with this – it looks yummy.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes I love strawberry wine.
19. Steamed pork buns Char sui buns are a childhood favourite.
20. Pistachio ice cream Movenpick make a nice pistachio ice cream.
21. Heirloom tomatoes I bought some at Audley End and would like to grow some.
22. Fresh wild berries. Summer time means berries for me.
23. Foie gras Yummy on hot toast.
24. Rice and beans. But not kidney beans – urgh.
25. Brawn, or head cheese Sounds quite disgusting!!
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper – maybe in something but definitely not raw
27. Dulce de leche Haagen Das icecream – mmm.
28. Oysters I pretty them fried rather than raw.
29. Baklava pao’s favourite sweet.
30. Bagna cauda – sounds nice and pao could eat it.
31. Wasabi peas. I think I might like them…
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl – I’ve had clam chowder but not in a sourdough bowl.
33. Salted lassi. I was talking about lassi yesterday with someone and it sounds nice.
34. Sauerkraut Not sure I’d like it.
35. Root beer float Thanks to Eileen for introducing me to those in Stockholm!
36. Cognac with a fat cigar Cognac, yes. Fat cigar, urgh!
37. Clotted cream tea Heh, I live in England – hard to avoid these!
38. Vodka jelly . Delish – hic.
39. Gumbo. Can’t think of when I tried this.
40. Oxtail. I’d try it to see what it is like.
41. Curried goat. I’d really like to try goat.
42. Whole insects I saw these in Fortnum and Mason and they look grim.
43. Phaal A bit too hot for me.
44. Goat’s milk Vile stuff -tastes strange.
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more. I do find whisky burns but it seems nice
46. Fugu – pufferfish?
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel – my great auntie had a pie and mash shop but I never tried it.
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut Had two a couple of Saturdays ago thanks to Moof. May have another tomorrow.
50. Sea urchin Can’t say it appeals.
51. Prickly pear – hopefully it has more flavour than dragon fruit.
52. Umeboshi – sounds like a nice fruit.
53. Abalone – I quite like whelks.
54. Paneer Cheesy peas at the Indian – mmm.
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal I don’t eat McD’s any more. I can’t even go through the door because the smell makes me feel ill.
56. Spaetzle. Looks like it could be fun to make.
57. Dirty gin martini. Is it shaken not stirred?
58. Beer above 8% ABV. I like fruit beer so could possibly want to drink this.
59. Poutine – I like the sound of this as it involves cheese curds.
60. Carob chips – they sound ok.
61. S’mores MN State Fair!
62. Sweetbreads – Probably not my first choice.
63. Kaolin Eat china clay? Why?
64. Currywurst The best currywurst is in Bruges.
65. Durian. Not tried it but sounds ok.
66. Frogs’ legs At a Vietnamese restaurant and they were yummy!
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake Chocolate con churros – heaven!
68. Haggis I love haggis.
69. Fried plantain Not a banana then!
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette – maybe something I’d eat.
71. Gazpacho. I like the sound of this.
72. Caviar and blini Dribble.
73. Louche absinthe. Aniseed is one of my favourite flavours.
74. Gjetost, or brunost. I love this Norwegian brown cheese! I haven’t seen it here in the UK so it must be an acquired taste.
75. Roadkill – maybe…
76. Baijiu – I like ouzo so I might like this.
77. Hostess Fruit Pie – not sure what hostess has to do with it but I like Fruit Pie.
78. Snail Mmmm…
79. Lapsang souchong The best kind is from Fortnum and Masons.
80. Bellini. I like the sound of peach and champagne.
81. Tom yum I think I like this.
82. Eggs Benedict Cafe Rouge make a wonderful Eggs Benedict.
83. Pocky (or something similar). I love Pocky!
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. Not been to such a restaurant but would go in a flash.
85. Kobe beef. Sounds expensive but I bet it s nice.
86. Hare. I wonder if it is like rabbit.
87. Goulash Proper Hungarian goulash is nicest but pao makes a nice one.
88. Flowers I used to be forced to drink Chrysanthemum tea when I was little – it was vile.
89. Horse The thought of it turns my stomach a bit.
90. Criollo chocolate. Any chocolate is good.
91. Spam I love it, pao hates it.
92. Soft shell crab Mmmmm…
93. Rose harissa. I like harissa so it could be nice.
94. Catfish.. mmm fish…
95. Mole poblano .. chocolate sauce – can’t be bad.
96. Bagel and lox Lovely stuff.
97. Lobster Thermidor. Sounds rather rich.
98. Polenta I ate a lot of polenta in Italy.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Sounds good.
100. Snake. Again might be nice on a stick.