Where Ariel lives up to her name

When we acquired Ariel almost 11 years ago, she had the ungainly name of Asda (think British Wal-Mart) Bins because the rescue centre used to unimaginatively name them after the places that they were found. We not long been to see an amazing performance of The Tempest at Canterbury Castle so we decided to name her after Ariel in that play. So essentially, we named her after a naughty fairy with magical abilities.

So how does Ariel live up to her name?
1. She seems to have magical abilities. Namely defying death despite what we feed her and the times we’ve taken her to the vets to have her put to sleep because she looked so ill.
2. She has red hair like Ariel the Little Mermaid
3. She goes in the washing machine like Ariel the detergent.

I love that cat!

Sock and book

I finished this at the weekend but hadn’t had a chance to take a photo of the finished pair so here it is. It is super soft and perfect for when it gets cold which is actually today. I have another set of clothes at work in case I ever get soaked. I set out this morning in summer clothes and it was clear by lunchtime that I was freezing so I changed into my spare set. pao was talking about putting the heating on so it must be chilly!

Anyway, I was so pleased that I finished the book Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke that I thought I’d do a book review of the 1006 page novel as I haven’t done a book review for a long time. It was an extremely heavy book so a little unwieldly in paperback but luckily I got used to the weightiness of it.

The novel starts with Mr Norrell who is determined to bring revival of magic in England. Before that it seemed like people were playing at magic so he wanted to bring back a proper appreciation and respect for magic. Norrell is keen to deny the history of fairy involvement in practicing magic it is unavoidable as one of his first acts of magic was to raise a woman from the dead and he calls on a fairy for help. The fairy demands the price of half of the rest of the woman’s life which Norrell agrees to. Norrell mistakes the fairy’s meaning and the fairy takes the woman to a far off place each night to dance in the place of Lost Hope with other lost souls.

Norrell soon acquired an apprentice, Jonathan Strange, and they started to do works of magic for the British government. Strange was asked to help Wellington in Spain and this is the start of the magicians split from each other. Soon fairy involvement cannot be denied and the story untangles and demonstrates Norrell’s folly.

I really enjoyed this book and it didn’t take me long to read despite it’s size. There were extensive footnotes which made it seem like an academic piece which made it all the more clever.

Sock-etty socketty sock

I finished kitchenering the supersoft alpaca socks at the weekend and picked up the remaining yarn and imagined those three colours together in a sock.

I started these whilst pao was cooking lunch on Sunday and I like the stripes 🙂

I’m really on a sock roll and I’m thinking ahead to what I can do with this Cherry Tree Hill Possum Sock yarn I picked up when I met Vicki at iKnit. I looked at what other people had knit on Ravelry with it and looked at this yarn review which describes it as fuzzy and not really good for stitch definition; I’m now wondering if I should stick with plain vanilla stockinette and let the colours and beauty of the yarn stand out for themselves. Alternatively, I’m thinking about knitting Charades (Ravelry link) with it.

Any suggestions? The possum yarn is super soft and squishy so I’d like to knit something nice 🙂 It doesn’t necessarily have to be a sock pattern – I’ve got two 50g skeins with 225 yards each so a shawlette or scarf could also work.

Lightning stripes

It’s been an interesting weekend so we were lucky we had a Bank Holiday today to recover. One of the servers at work decided to flash two of the disk about to fail lights on Friday afternoon so pao had to go into work for a few hours on Saturday and then briefly again on Sunday. What didn’t help matters was our broadband connection went down for the rest of Saturday until Sunday morning so he couldn’t do any remote monitoring so he had to get someone else to look. On Sunday, the power kept going on and off all afternoon and we wondered if our house had more electrical problems than we’d originally thought but it went off altogether at about 9pm and darkness descended upon the village. Luckily we do have a large supply of candles and like our battery powered radios so were able to carry on without power. (But why is it as soon as someone tells you can’t have something, you crave that thing? Our next door neighbours said that they couldn’t have that cup of tea they were about to have which set me off thinking about tea…)

We didn’t get any power back on until 7am when the power company connected us to a generator but as we were supposed to be cooking pao’s grandmother a roast dinner today, we rang her and asked if we could use her oven rather than risk the power going off and finding we had a half cooked piece of lamb.

I did manage to finish the Helical Stripe socks – they are a very speedy knit indeed.

Phoebe really approves of these socks.

Reasons why I feel lucky today

I had intended to blog yesterday but it was a crazy crazy day. I was woken up by pao who declared it was 6.55am and the alarm wasn’t working because the electricity had tripped some time in the night. Bearing in mind I had to get to a village 10 minutes away for 7.45 for a lift to work at another campus an hour away where I had to train a group of students at 9.30, I was a bit dazed and slightly panicked. Luckily, the bits of the day that would have taken the most time i.e. bathing etc had been done the night before so I had to get into clothes (mercifully no ironing required) and get some wake up beverage and get to Wingham. I switched on the kettle and it tripped the switch again. And rinse. And repeat so no wake up juice for me. We left our house at 7.35 to find ourselves in a 30 car line along the road as the rubbish truck wend its way slowly along the road to Wingham. Luckily I made it to Bob’s house in the nick of time (they were already sitting in the car) and thence to work on time and my colleague Louise kindly donated a tea bag and some milk so I could start the day without being tetchy with the students.

So that was yesterday and this is today when I felt lucky.
1. Still uncertain about the kettle (and not too sure about the coffee machine either). I looked at the microwave as a source of heating water for wake up beverage but half-awake brain wasn’t feeling too confident about ability to heat water by that method without scalding lips on hot mug. pao came down stairs and boiled some water in a saucepan and presented me with a cup of tea.

2. I got to work to find that B had returned from a triumphant study leave in Boston and had left me these on my desk.
Thanks, B! You’re awesome.

3. I got an odd email about the person who normally helps me with particular problems and ended up clearing a fortnight’s worth of problems with the new person assigned to do that person’s work.. I know the new helpful person a bit and he is very lovely and efficient so he’s getting brownies on Wednesday as he is shouldering a load of training that I wasn’t confident about the first person doing.

4. My colleague who I think is brilliant and such a lovely and nice person got a promotion.

5. We got to go round and visit Bob (another Bob! Aren’t Bob’s great?) who loaned us a whole bunch of equipment to test our electrical system with plus all the guidelines we need to know what to do. He very patiently explained to pao what to look out for.

6. Bob’s stunningly pretty tortie cat was very very friendly and came up for a cuddle straight away.

7. We got to see Bob’s amazing house. I might be coveting his rack (updated to add: a computer rack!!). I’ve not seen so many network points in a domestic dwelling before. He also had a workshop full of amazing stuff like very old computing equipment – really trailblazing stuff.

8. The helical socks are going so fast – this is what I finished as of early evening yesterday. Sports weight yarn is really instant gratification.

9. I got to eat skate and chips in Tankerton washed down by a proper cup of tea. pao took pity on me and suggested we eat inside as it was a tad chilly for outside.

10. On the way to Bob’s house, we stopped for hand-made proper Italian ice creams at Macari’s on Herne Bay sea front.

11. I remembered to bring the socks that need to be kitchenered home – Phoebe likes them!!

I’ve been good all day – now I’m going to crack open that bag of Take 5!

So close but not quite a FO

These Alpaca socks were so close to the finish – all that was needed was the kitchenering and a few weavings in but I left them at my office which I won’t be at again until Friday 🙁

So I’ll just have to work out now what I’m going to start tonight for travelling up and down tomorrow and Thursday but it is hard to wind yarn when the girls are so cute and strokable.

Monkey love

I started these Monkeys a while ago out of some lovely Cascade Heritage Yarn which I received from Julie as part of the Knitters’ Coffee Swap 4.

The pattern is particularly lovely and easy to remember.

Taking of love, the girls have been hanging out a lot together lately and they were all happily sitting on the sofa with me. I often find a couple of them curled up together. Merlin is happier by himself but isn’t averse to lying on the bed next to me.


I’ve had a very lucky week. I also won a contest at Zoe’s Knitting Bag and this wonderful package was waiting for me when I arrived home on Friday.

Inside was an East of India Brit Heart, a tube of cheery red beads and a pretty cat button. I’ve already started looking at my stash to see what I can use those beads and button with.

It was perfectly timed for cheering on the UK during the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday evening. We had a few friends round to enjoy a Russian feast of meatballs and ketchup, kebab (Krygstan influence), Crimean cream and Apple Charlotte. Sadly, no photos as I was between sleeps all day as I was feeling a bit bleurgh. The UK have done very poorly at Eurovision of late so we were much heartened to find we had made the top five. Norway won by a landslide so it will be a Norwegian meal next year – any suggestions? For some reason, the thought has reminded me of the Prairie Home Companion as Garrison Keillor is often talking about the Sons of Norway 🙂

Merlin has been my nurse over the last two days and he must be a lucky black cat because I also won three prizes in a school tombola (a pink box – good for the next Tat for Tat, a box of chocolates and a Naan bread (!?!) and I heard when I got back that I’d won a competition at Apple and Spice.

Lots to see – part 3

I’ve been working hard on our container garden. I’ve planted loads of seeds. These courgettes are going to be tiny round ones.

There are ordinary and tiny alpine strawberries germinating in the propagator and salads behind those. I’ve been growing little peas – I’ve not been brave enough to plant them out as the slugs have devoured them every time I’ve tried to grow them. The egg shells around the courgettes are supposed to prevent slugs as slugs aren’t supposed to like the feel of egg shells.

The conservatory is chock full of plants. This is after I’d given away a load.

pao planted up this big pot of carrots and beetroot. I saw an article about growing root vegetables in big pots in the Gardener’s World Magazine and we thought we’d give it a try.

pao and I stumbled on a plant swap at the weekend and we had plants keenly pressed upon us. I got these three herbs: sage, pineapple sage and I think lemon balm but I can’t remember and the label fell off so if you know shout 🙂 I also got a strawberry plant.

I adore purple French beans and the best sort are the Purple King from Franchi so I sowed a whole load in pots on Sunday with radishes round them.

pao’s grandmother grew me some lovely tomato plants.

I was given some purple sprouting broccoli by some friends.

The salad has really shot up.

There are lots of peppers.

I’d better go and buy some more pots and compost 🙂 I’m hoping to grow some squash and compost. I am trying to grow some sweetcorn but the cats liked to bite the stalks off so I have one sad plant left. I did start a new set so watch this space…