Tag Archives: Oxfordshire

So That Was Mine. How Was Yours?

So that’s over for another year.

And look! I’m just a few stitches off completing both sleeves of Glitter Glam. Then there’s just the collar and the assembly to do.

Anyway, Christmas happened. A rotund and elderly chap dressed in red broke into our house via the chimney. But instead of stealing stuff, he left little chocolatey gifts around the place, hidden inside old socks. All normal rules of not-accepting-sweets-from-strangers were off as the twinnage tore the foil wrapping from approximately one billion chocolate coins. Then they left the foil pieces all over the floor so there was a festive jangling noise as anyone walked around.

By order of the twinnage, I wasn’t allowed to light the fire on Christmas Eve, in case it burned Santa’s bottom.

The boys recited carols in their sweet six-year-old voices, but only when they thought that nobody was listening. I’m treasuring the memory, because soon enough they’ll be disaffected teenagers rapping about how ghastly everything is. Except I don’t think the word ghastly features very much in rap songs. Anyway, it’s important to sing traditional family carols such as – just off the top of my head – Once In Royal David’s City:-

Once in royal David’s city

When the Wi-Fi went all wrong,

Folk were forced to gather round and

Join together for this song.

Phones and iPads set aside;

Kids, their parents did abide.

I could continue. Believe me, I really could continue. But anyway.

It was frosty, too.

As is traditional, the Stoic Spouse cooked so much Christmas fare that I’m beginning to suspect him of trying to murder us slowly by hardening our arteries. It would be the perfect crime. Nice nosh, though.

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We walked a small stretch of the Ridgeway, the ancient routeway that cuts through the Oxfordshire landscape.

And then it was Boxing Day, and some sociopath posted an ‘Only 364 days until Christmas’ meme on Facebook.

T’was rather pretty, out and about.

We went to watch the mummers in the centre of a nearby market town. I use the word ‘see’ loosely because there were about a squillion tall people in front of us. Here’s a photo I took by climbing up a bus shelter:-

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Mummers

In case you’re not familiar with this very British, been-around-since-the-eighteenth-century tradition (mumming, I mean, not climbing bus shelters), take a look here. The best part is a long and topical poem about the year’s events. Needless to say, there was plentiful satirical reference to Brexit, Trump, and the above-average number of talented famous folk who’ve been summoned to the great Green Room in the sky this year.

I managed a run, though, just as the sun was going down.

Of course, at this time of year it’s important to enjoy traditional family games such as ‘Who can figure out why the dishwasher has suddenly stopped working on Christmas Day?’ and ‘Well somebody is going to have to do all this washing up from a three-course meal for eight.’ Also, ‘Look, I’ve been up since dawn cooking so I don’t see why I should wash up,’ and ‘Well I was up at 4am looking after a poorly child’. As well as ‘Well maybe if you hadn’t given him so much chocolate yesterday, he wouldn’t have been sick’. And that old chestnut, ‘Oh, so it’s my fault, is it? Well if you feel like that, we may as well get divorced,’ and finally, a fun round of ‘Fine. See you in court. But you’re still doing the washing up.’

I’m exaggerating, but the dishwasher really did stop working, so in a quaint show of festive togetherness, we all gathered round the iPad to watch videos about how to fix it. And I did the washing up, because between you and me, washing up for an hour is the very best way of getting warm in this freezing house.

Meanwhile, we tried to stay one step ahead of the twinnage’s sceptical questions about the existence (or not) of Father Christmas. Some of these questions were easy to field. ‘Whaddya mean, Why does he come in through the chimney and not the door? You know how hard it is to open our front door, given that the wood swells at the slightest hint of heat/cold/wet/dry. Frankly, even I’m tempted to come in via the chimney.’ Sometimes, the twinnage are more sneaky. ‘Does anyone live at the North Pole?’ Twin One asked with apparent innocence, yesterday. ‘Of course not!’ I replied, and launched into a lengthy explanation about climate and the lack of land mass at the North Pole, silently congratulating myself on how well my sons will do in their future geography lessons. ‘BUT YOU SAID THAT FATHER CHRISTMAS LIVED THERE!’ yelled Twin Two, and I realized too late that I’d been ambushed. Again. Should’ve spotted that one coming a mile off.

On a final knitting note, I received this rather splendid-looking book. I can’t wait to try it out.

So that was my Christmas. How was yours?

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It’s Winter: Bring Yarn

There’s still time to enter the awesome yarn/pattern giveaway, right here and here! (For your bonus Facebook entry, don’t forget to ‘like’ the ‘Yarn’s overall Facebook page, not just the post about this contest.)

Wa-hey, it’s December!

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I remember my teacher at primary school telling our class that we Brits are all obsessed with talking about the weather. So it’s my patriotic duty to say right now, Man, it’s COLD! In fact, the mercury has shrunk so shiveringly low in the glass that it’s practically impossible for folk to pass each other in our lane without one of them saying, “A bit chilly, isn’t it?” and the other responding with an exaggerated shiver to imply the profound wisdom and truth of this insight. Also, it’s impossible to go out without encountering the delicious smell of woodsmoke, even at 9am.

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Proper cold does at least mean pretty, though frustratingly, it usually means pretty viewed at 70mph as I hurry along the motorway to work, thus forbidden by both the law and the urge to remain alive from stopping to take pictures. Sorry.

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Still, I walked back from the school run yesterday with a friend, and even our short stroll yielded some prettiness as we crunched across the frosty grass.

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I just wish we could have some SNOW! (The long-range forecast is for cold but dry, so snow is unlikely. Again.)

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Meanwhile on a knittier note, I’m proceeding with that project… or rather Mother Twisted (my mum) is. Do you remember the lavender I made for the garden portion from some Stylecraft Batik?

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Well she’s made some, too! Thank you Mum.

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…So I’m off to plant it in the crochet garden. More pictures to follow!

Stay warm, people. 🙂

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Village Knitting

I love our village.

It’s the type of place where you can sit in the pub with knitting and crocheting friends talking about anything, whilst people play cards at the next table and a dog snoozes near the door. There’s a fair-to-middling chance of bumping into someone you know when you haul your rear out of the sofa and get up to fetch more drinks. Occasionally there’s even a rival knitting group around.

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Look! On the table, between the wine glasses! Gorgeous self-striping yarn in my friend’s jumper-in-progress for her son. There she is on the left, beginning the next section.

People here talk to you because they’ve seen you around. They usually want to know exactly which house you live in, which tends to freak out folk who’ve only just moved here from London and who aren’t yet accustomed to revealing such incredibly personal information to anyone who isn’t their legal spouse. Anyway you get talking, and quite soon you can’t remember a time when you didn’t know these people. That said, you probably should have paid more attention five years ago when they introduced themselves, because this many conversations down the line, it’d be kind of awkward to admit that you can’t actually remember their name.

Most people say hello or at least smile when you pass them in the street, although it’s important to remember to switch off that habit when you venture anywhere more urban, to avoid looking like an oddball country bumpkin. (I call it ‘flight mode’, because all non-essential communications are turned OFF.)

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Look at my friend’s cabling! Is that fabulous or what?

I love going running on the various tracks out into the countryside, and witnessing the seasons played out across the Oxfordshire landscape.

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One day recently, I’d just landed back in the village after a run, and as I turned onto the High Street, out of breath, hurty of lung, sore of foot, and malodorous of lycra, I noticed somebody meddling with a signpost in the distance. What outrage was this?! Some n’er-do-well spoiling our neighbourhood? Surely not!

Getting closer, there was a certain familiarity about the miscreant, and also about their bicycle, which was leaning against a nearby fence, its basket adorned with crochet. Hmm, could that be a clue to their motive?

I limped closer. (Have I mentioned the sore foot?)

And then I realized that the brazen daylight misbehaviour I was witnessing was yarn-bombing in progress, and that the perpetrator was my friend and allotment-mate, whom I am forbidden to name here by the terms of the Yarn Bombers’ Charter. Totes soz, but that’s one of her hands on the left in the picture below.

Our village lanes have long been the background to some pretty lovely yarn-bombing, but witnessing the act in progress felt a little like catching Banksy at work. What could I do, but go over and offer to help? (Out of consideration for my friend’s welfare, I did try to stand downwind of her – it had been a tough run.)

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She was sewing beautiful knitted panels around lamp-posts. Each year, her pieces have a theme (buttons, for example), and this year, it’s tassels.

How gorgeous and cheering is her work?! Look at those textures! Look at the colours! She also knits twiddlemuffs for dementia patients at the nearest hospital.

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So we got chatting, whilst she sewed up the knitting, but there was also a tiny problem. It was the day of the Open Gardens in the village, when owners of infinitely grander plots than ours throw open their wrought iron gates for anyone who wishes to come and see. Maybe we should have opened ours, as a sort of deranged, toy-strewn parody. We could call it ‘Future Garden’. Or possibly ‘Past Garden’. It’s still very much a work in progress, but in a year’s time, it’s going to be AMAZING.

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Anyway, as part of this event, there was to be an exhibition of wedding dresses from times past at the church, so the call had gone out for anyone who owned a tailor’s dummy to come and lend it for the day so that the dresses could be displayed. (I’m getting to the point of all this, really I am. Or at least, I’m limping slowly in its general direction – I’ve got this painful foot, you see…)

We happen to own a very basic tailor’s dummy, so I’d already offered it for the exhibition. There was plenty of time to get home from my run, shower, dress in more appropriate clothing, and saunter along to the church, humming a tune, with the dummy under my arm, doing a convincing impression of someone who is calm, dignified, and whose hair isn’t feral.

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Or at least there would have been, had I not spent ages chatting to the village yarnbomber, holding her work in place so that she could sew, and taking photographs. Suddenly it was five minutes before the dummy deadline, and I hadn’t even made it home. Oops. (I knew the Stoic Spouse wouldn’t be worried: when I roll in late, he just says ‘I assumed you got talking to someone’. He’s generally correct.)

There definitely wasn’t going to be time for everything.

All of this is a very lengthy explanation of why, just before 1pm, I sprinted the entire length of the High Street, listing slightly to starboard because of my busted foot, sweating revoltingly, and with a large tailor’s dummy gripped under my arm like I was kidnapping it. Dignity? Meh, dignity’s for wimps.

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And no, there are no photographs. Or at least I don’t think there are. And if there are, could we please meet at the pub to discuss what you would consider to be a reasonable fee for their destruction? Thank you.

The open gardens were splendid by the way, even in the rain.

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And I got to climb the church tower…

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…to see the old church bells…

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…and the view from the top, albeit in the drizzly gloom…

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As I said, I do love this village, yarn-bombing and all. 🙂

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Outdoors Knows It’s Pretty

You’ve still got time (just!) to enter the Wool And The Gang yarn giveaway! Just head over here…

Meanwhile, I’ve been all over the place – knitting a bit of this, crocheting a bit of that, drifting from room to room, bumping into members of the household whom I’d forgotten existed… “Great uncle Mortimer! Heavens, I haven’t seen you since the Great Tidying Up of ’96! How the very devil are you, ol’ bean? What’s that you say? Huh? Oh. What, that cupboard there? The one with the hefty lock on the door? Oh gosh, I’m sorry. Very sorry. I might have got a tad over-enthusiastic towards the end of the Great Tidying Up… I must say though, you’re looking remarkably chipper for a chap who’s been locked in a cupboard for twenty years, existing on a diet of gnawed wood and roof-leakage. Kudos to you. And what’s that you say? Oh, this thing? It’s called a mobile phone: they’re quite common now. Come, allow me to introduce you to the modern world. First, we’d better set you up with a Facebook account…”

I blame the weather.

Seriously, it’s been nuts. One minute it’s simultaneously snowing and hailing – snailing, if you will – and the next minute, I’m applying suncream to the twinnage using a trowel. Nuts, I tell you.

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Even the moss looks beautiful in spring.

Still, the blossom’s been good this year.

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And we’ve just reached that point when the baby lambs venture away from their mothers’ sides and all try to hang out in the cool gang. If you’re a lamb, being cool involves gently head-butting your mates and occasionally scampering up a small hillock. Oh that social hierarchies could have been that simple and scalable when I was a teenager.

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There really is lots and lots of blossom. There’s summat wonderful about the loveliness and hope of all this fresh unsullied new life, don’t you think? (Let’s just forget about the existence of hay fever for a wee minute.) I know you’re supposed to feel such optimistic sentiments when you see a newborn baby, but I reckon that blossom has the edge when it comes to not screaming or puking in your hair at 3am.

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In Japan, according to my friend who lived there for a while, they have a whole festival day devoted to the first appearance of the cherry blossom. It’s a big deal, apparently. Frankly, I’m with the Japanese on this one, but I’m lacking the courage to phone up my boss and say, “I’m not coming in to work today, because blossom.

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Anyway. I’ve written before about the cherry-growing heritage of this village in which we live. There aren’t many cherry orchards left here now, but in the one that’s near my house, there are sheep/lambs wandering amongst the trees. Not only does this promise the magical combination of yarn and luscious cherries as future products, but also it’s a traditional approach: the sheep keep the grass/weeds down, and their poo helps fertilize the cherry trees. Organic production at its best.

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And its cutest:-

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You can’t move for wildlife around here at the moment. And even the light feels optimistic and fresh:-

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Photo taken whilst I was out on a run. So the quality was never going to be great.

Indoors, too, there are flowers. My good friend gave me these beauties when she came to discuss the knitting/crochet book that we’re writing together. Which reminds me, I really should get on with some work on that…

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(And I had so many knitting/crochet progress photos to show you! Ah well, next time.)

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Trying Hard Not To Get Shot

I hate getting caught in the middle of a shoot-out when I’m half-way through my run. (Or, indeed, at pretty much any stage of my run.)

Hang on, just let me do a bit more work on the giant crochet house/garden project (that REALLY is nearly finished). Gotta steady my nerves. Is it me, or do these attempts at daisies on the lawn resemble fried eggs? Sigh. Back to the drawing board.
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We live in the countryside, so like it or not, people shoot things and then eat them. (Sometimes they even cook them first.) It’s not at all uncommon to hear shots or to see spent cartridges lying in the mud. So as I ran the other morning, I didn’t pay much attention to the noise of a gun going off to my left, even though the sound was quite close. But meh, I was fine, right up until I started hearing shots close by to my right as well. Hmm, that wasn’t good.
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And at the same moment that I heard another shot, what I think was a partridge scuttled across the path not far ahead, then disappeared into the hedge. No I didn’t catch a photo, but here are some partridge loitering outside my parents’ house in the snow at Christmas a few years ago:-

OK, I didn't catch a pic of the partridge, so here are some partridge I photographed a few years ago in the snow on Christmas day at my parents' door. I failed in my efforts to persuade them to pose in a pear tree.

I tried and failed to persuade them to pose in a pear tree.

Back to the bird in hand (whose worth presumably halved as it dived into the bush). I’m not sure whether the partridge knew that it was theoretically safe because open season for most game birds is over by late spring. But you can’t blame it for not taking chances. And maybe whoever was firing those guns (neither of whom I could see) didn’t care about the law anyway, and just fancied a really tasty dinner. Whilst I did feel sorry for the partridge (which is hypocritical because I do eat meat), I was also increasingly not enjoying being near the thing that people were possibly trying to kill.

Being cursed with both an anxious disposition and a very active imagination (two traits that I suspect cruelly co-occur for quite a lot of folks), I began to worry about whether I’d get peppered with lead-shot by mistake. Not that I look much like a partridge, especially when I’m wearing fluorescent snot-coloured lycra running gear, but not being an especially competent athlete, my scurrying scamper could, at speed, perhaps be mistaken for the gait of a partridge. I slowed down as I got close to where I’d seen the bird.

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Maybe I should have turned round and gone back the way I’d come, rather than risking crossing the poor partridge’s path, but that would have meant running a very long way, and I’m cursed with an anxious disposition, a wild imagination, AND LAZINESS. So I carried on.

I passed the exact point where I’d last seen the bird, and managed not to get shot. Well that was a plus.

But what if the two shooters were actually sworn enemies, taking a pop at each other from either side of my path? I slowed down, not wanting to confuse these still-invisible adversaries.

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And then, the most worrying thought of all… What if – and you’ll have to bear with me whilst I explain a little – they were such experienced marksmen that they’d started going deaf from all those years of noisy guns (although such experience would also have made them terrifyingly skilled shots)? So when the organizer-person-thingy had said to them that morning, “Go shoot some pheasant,” what they’d mistakenly heard was, “Go shoot some peasants,” in which case I was doomed, not having a single aristocratic bone in my body.

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I speeded up again. All that high-viz clothing made me rather an obvious target. Camouflage would only have been an option if I’d been running through either (i) a tulip field, or (ii) a children’s soft-play area. So all I could do was try to run in a very fast and very non-peasanty way. I’m not sure I really succeeded at either of those, but I managed to get home unscathed… where I found a bunch of red kites circling in the sky above our driveway, sensing my exhaustion and clearly anticipating imminent carrion after all this carry-on.

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“Pick on someone your own size,” I growled at them, which to be fair was pretty much what they were doing, because I’m not very tall and those birds’ wingspan is BIG.

But at least I was home. And I realized that I’m cursed with anxiety, an overactive imagination, laziness, AND STUPIDITY.

And hey, at least I didn’t get shot.

As far as I know, the partridge lived to waddle another day.

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Mad March Hares

I love how nature goes stark staring bonkers right around this time of year. To be fair, I’d go bonkers too at the first sign of spring if I’d spent the winter shivering in the garden, surviving on a dwindling supply of berries, bugs, and birdseed. But right now, you can’t move for nature frisking, flirting, squabbling, and, ahem, doing what comes naturally.

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All of the ladybirds in this bush were in pairs. I had to tell the twinnage they were having ‘special cuddles’.

I’ll save the best for last.

If you think the trade in homes for people is brutal, then you should see the avian property market. A respectable-looking pair of house sparrows has been showing interest in the nest box just outside our sitting room.

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Daddy house sparrow had to physically fight off a great tit before he could view his potential new pad, and then it took him a sustained period of cheeping to persuade the mummy sparrow to come take a look. She did, reluctantly, and then spent ages and ages peering into the box whilst her spouse sat on a branch below and preened himself.

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I hope they stay.

Even the moss is pretty in the sunshine.

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And we’re getting a bloom or two:-

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There are lambs, ambling and gambolling along with their mothers:-

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And the landscape is starting to look a little less barren:-

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But the best, the very best, is my favourite creature of all, doing its special spring thing.

The hare.

I love hares. I’ve loved them particularly since our house-before-last, on the edge of the rolling Cotswolds, where we stood in the kitchen and watched hares in the field behind our little garden. I love their proud, aloof, sleek, dignity. Except in March, when they lose all that and go completely potty. Have you ever seen mad March hares boxing? I’ve only seen it once, and I’ll never forget it. Disclaimer: this will be the only time I describe physical violence as funny. But honestly, you should have seen them. The female hare was minding her own business, hangin’ with her mates. And there was this one male hare – and I’m sorry, but you could see that he was a little sleazy – who kept trying it on. It went like this: he’d sidle up to her, she’d punch him squarely on the nose, he’d retreat. And then he’d try again. And AGAIN. He. Did. Not. Learn. It was magical, and hilarious, and bonkers, all at once. And I felt like the luckiest person in the world to be able to witness it.

Anyway, when I was out on my run the other day, I saw something move in the field to my right. So I stopped. (ANY excuse to stop, quite frankly.) And it was three hares zig-zagging across the field, completely off their heads with March-time craziness. They didn’t box, well not that I saw, but it was fairly obvious that they’d abandoned their sanity. HUGE respect to people who have captured brilliant photos of March hares, because with the little point-and-shoot that I take when I’m running, it was all I could do to keep up with them at all.

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You see? Not much of a photo. But to be honest, I was mostly just mesmerized by the sight of them.

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As I said. Bonkers.

Enjoy the last hour or so of March, people.

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Ridge And Furrow, Gone Tomorrow

Whilst we knit/hook, shall we indulge in a little ancient history?

So on a scale from ‘bewildered’ to ‘undisputed world authority’, how au fait are you with the concept of ridge and furrow? I have to ask, because I tend to assume that if even I know something, then it really must be painfully obvious to everyone else.

Long car journeys of my childhood often involved spotting examples of ridge and furrow in fields beside the motorway: it’s pretty distinctive once you know what you’re looking for. Never let it be said that we didn’t know how to rock a damned fine time chez Family Twisted.

A quick explanation: here in the UK and other parts of Northern Europe, medieval peasants ploughed and sowed the land in long strips with troughs in between, whilst their feudal overlords sat smug in moated castles, counting their gold. This system of farming was proper legit, innit, from very roughly 1500 years ago until about 400 years ago. That’s a lot of years; enough for the peasants’ backbreaking toil to leave clear scars on the landscape that are still visible today. Here’s some subtle remnants of ridge and furrow that I spotted recently near Swindon:-

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I’ve written before about how much I love the marks that ancient history has left on our local landscape (eg here and here). And I can’t help but feel sad when a little more of that heritage is destroyed, even though keeping everything the same would mean that we’d still use scrawny oxen to haul ploughs across the earth, and popping out to Tescos would involve trudging through dense forest and possibly being devoured by wolves along the way. So imagine my horror when I came across an (admittedly uncertain in the gloaming) example of ridge and furrow that was to be destroyed right in our very village.

It was whilst I was out for a run, and therefore possibly of unsound judgement. As it began to get dark, I ran up to the allotment to check on the progress of our onions and broad beans and raspberry canes. (Not much progress: it’s too cold to bother growing.) I spotted these lovely hellebores flowering on our plot, though:-

hellebore www.thetwistedyarn.com

Close to the allotment (far too close), is a field that was hitherto left in peace behind a dense hedge. But no more. Because clearly what we need round here is a million new-build homes to turn our (mostly) tranquil old village into a sprawling megalopolis. And I am prone to neither gross exaggeration nor hypocritical nimbyism…

So ahead of the construction of eleventy squillion homes, they’ve ripped out the hedge around the field. This was the first time I’d had a proper view of what lay behind. It was difficult to tell in the rapidly dimming light (and this photo in no way even begins to do it justice), but I thought I could maybe see a hint of ridge and furrow, about to be ripped away. Those distinctive horizontal lines: can you see them?

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Sigh. And when I came back a few days later, it was already a muddy mess, as though a bunch of excavators had scribbled all over the field.

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Farewell, medieval peasants. I’ll miss you, even though I only just noticed that you were there.

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Oops.

Oops.

No really, oops.

I could tell you about my latest idiocy, or I could show you my shiny new hat. Err….. let’s go with the hat.

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OK it’s not shiny but it is a new hat and I’ve finished knitting it. Here’s a side view:-

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A very easy knit, by the way, although I won’t miss the endless rounds of k1p2. Pattern: Yvette. Yarn: James C. Brett Marble Chunky, a gift from a friend.

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Oh all right, I’ll tell you about what a dork I’ve been. Once again, it involved running. This emerging pattern of stupidity would indicate that I should possibly stop running. Or start thinking. Or maybe both.

Anyway, it being a nice day an’ all yesterday, I decided to go for a longer, hillier run than usual, right out into the countryside. I had a vague route in my head, but was too lazy to climb the half flight of stairs to fetch a map from our mappy bookshelf and check. (Mistake number one.)

So I set off, with nothing apart from a tiny camera in my pocket. No, I didn’t feel the need to take a phone with me: why do you ask? (Oh, all right: mistake number two.)

Spring Has (Almost) Sprung

Spring Has (Almost) Sprung

The route wasn’t all that bad, actually. It was almost pleasant. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I enjoyed it, in the same way that I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I enjoy going to the dentist, but it was definitely fairly tolerable. There were spring flowers to photograph, and who cared if I got mud all over my trousers as I scrabbled on the ground to get the right photo angle, because I’d be back home soon and nobody’d see.

spring daffodils www.thetwistedyarn.com

Pausing to take photos is a great excuse to stop running for a minute. You want lots of photos, don’t you? Those daffodils won’t photograph themselves, you know.

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The blossom is coming along nicely:-

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So I was concentrating far more on taking pictures than on where I was going. Also, a quick glance at a map would have told me that the route wasn’t quite as simple as I’d assumed. But I continued cheerily on. At least the view was pleasant.

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It took me some time to work out that I was lost, as the realization slowly dawned that the route back to the village was proving to be twice as long as the route out from the village had been. But hey, the rules of physics can be funny round here, so you never know.

Eventually, though, I had to admit that I was lost. I considered cutting my losses and turning back, but that would definitely have involved running a really long way, and I didn’t fancy that. (Mistake number three, because these things are relative.)

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I got to the top of a hill that I shouldn’t have been anywhere near, and paused to try and get my bearings. You’ll notice that it was no longer sunny and that birds of prey were circling, anticipating a large lunch of stupid runner:-

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I looked and I looked down from the hill, but I couldn’t see our village anywhere. Hmm. I could see other villages, but it was as though ours had simply vanished. Like I said, the laws of physics can be funny round these parts.

The path bridged a major road:-

A34 www.thetwistedyarn.com

But I decided to carry on, optimistic that very soon a porthole in the space-time continuum was bound to open up and lead me straight back to our village. Unfortunately the universe failed to deliver this small gesture of kindness and instead I ran on and on, getting close enough to Blewburton Hill to tell me that I was now really very far indeed from home. Wittenham Clumps followed me across the landscape too: that’s the two tufty hilly bits in the photo below:

Wittenham Clumps www.thetwistedyarn.com

This was getting ridiculous (although it was also quite fun). Eventually, I got to the highest bit of hill I could find and stood, hands on hips, staring down at the Oxfordshire countryside, determined to find my village. It had to be there somewhere, surely? You can’t just lose a village. Well OK, I can…

I thought I recognized some landmarks, and even the next village along from ours, although they looked implausibly far away. But yes, that was definitely it. And then, far in the distance, I finally spotted a church tower that looked familiar. And around it, yes I knew those patches of trees, and houses, and roads. And following the distant jumble of buildings, I saw at last the tower of our house. Or at least I think I did: maybe it was a mirage borne of my delirious mind.

That was all very well, but getting back there was another matter. These legs weren’t built for running across half a flippin’ county, you know. They were built for sprawling across the sofa with my knitting draped over them. But other than going back the way I’d come (which would have been a really stupid idea by this point), my only option was to plot a wiggly route home across the landscape and hope that I was in fact physically capable of running that far before the circling buzzards and kites (yes there really were both – I’ve never seen them together before) got me. Ho hum.

So off I ran. You’ll notice that the nature photographs have dried up by this point. So had my interest in running.

The route I’d plotted from up high wasn’t bad, and was at least mostly downhill, but I hadn’t factored on THIS:-

IMG_7003

Ah well, what’s a bit of fence-scrambling to add to the mix? Pah, it’d take more than that to deter me. (Not very much more, admittedly.)

I eventually made it to the junction of a very familiar main road. Phew! Usually I’d be whizzing along there in my car, but at this pace I had time to leisure to admire landmarks that I’d never before noticed:-

IMG_7004

Each time a car zoomed past, I had to jump off the road and onto the muddy verge. You might think that this was a problem, but actually it gave me the excuse to stop running for a few seconds and try and get my breath back.

When I finally, finally got to the SLOW DOWN sign (ha!) at the edge of our village, I could have squealed with joy if I’d had anywhere near enough energy to do so. I was nearly home. I probably could have run the rest with my eyes closed, although let’s leave that idea for idiocy for another day.

And then, I was HOME. I’d been gone forever. One of the things that had kept me running was the concern that the Stoic Spouse and the twinnage would be worried out of their minds about where I’d got to. Nope, when I got in I found them messing about in the sitting room, having successfully forgotten about my existence and moved on with their lives. Oh well.

Now, you know I mentioned my lazy inability to climb half a flight of stairs to fetch a map before the run? Well that cost me. You see, I’m wearing one of those fitness gadgets on my wrist and amongst other things it counts how many flights of stairs (or equivalent) I’ve ascended each day. Know how many flights of stairs I climbed on that stupid run? Do you?

THIRTY-NINE!!!!

I shall say no more.

 

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This Really Is Terribly Important

So I’m busy writing an extremely important letter to the Met Office on the subject of SNOW. (For non-UK readers, the Met(eorological) Office is our publically-funded national weather forecasting/monitoring service.) Feel free to knit and crochet whilst I talk. Oh, and help yourself to some of that wine.

So what do you think of what I’ve drafted so far?

This post is mostly about snow. Or the lack thereof. Here's the view from my bedroom window in our last house.

This post is mostly about snow. Or the lack thereof. Here’s the view from my bedroom window in our last house.

Dear Sirs/Madams (Madams? That sounds dodgy.)

I am writing to respectfully request that you cease your current practice of knowingly and deliberately tormenting me with forecasts of snowfall that you later retract shortly before they are due to occur. Every single day for the past week, since winter finally arrived in Oxfordshire, I’ve checked the weather forecast online, and each and every time it’s promised snowfall in precisely 48 hours’ time. But always, as the hour of anticipated blizzards draws close, you move the predicted snow forward so that it’s once again an elusive 48 hours away.

Proper weather by my parents' old house in Herefordshire.

Proper weather by my parents’ old house in Herefordshire.

As a fellow human being, I can only ask you to examine your consciences. Do you consider your behaviour to be fair? If I, as a clinical psychologist, continually told my patients that I’d see them in two days’ time but never delivered, do you honestly think that I’d still be drawing a salary from the National Health Service? It’s just like the sign outside a pub that I used to drive past on the way to my parents’ old house that said, ‘FREE BEER TOMORROW’. Obviously the landlord set out this sign to amuse passers-by, safe in the knowledge that he wouldn’t actually be pouring anyone a free pint. And mildly amusing it was too for at least the first twenty-six times that I saw it, but this isn’t about something as trivial as beer, this is about snow. There are two small children and a child-at-heart here who ask nothing more than for a fair chance to rampage around in the slush, lobbing snowballs at the Stoic Spouse. Would you consider this an unreasonable demand?

Obviously this snowball didn't get lobbed at the photographer moments after this snap was shot.

Obviously this snowball didn’t get lobbed at the photographer moments after this snap was shot.

And yes, I do realize that snow can be inconvenient in a lot of ways. I say this as someone who once had to take a spade and dig her car out of the car park at work, in order to even attempt to get home. Am I bad for having found this enormously good fun? In those days, I lived closer to work than I do now, and as the snow rapidly deepened and the dark got darker, I just made it home before the roads became impassable and drivers were forced to spend the night immobile and shivering on the dual carriageway. That said, when I came through on the road’s re-opening, I noticed that people had built some pretty funky snow sculptures on the central reservation, so maybe there was a sense of camaraderie and fun that snowy night.

It's been too long since I looked out of the window to see this view.

It’s been too long since I looked out of the window to see this view. Far too long. A lass can only be so patient.

I can’t help noticing that many parts of the United Kingdom have received at least a flurry of snowfall these past few days, yet south Oxfordshire has once again been neglected. Do we not pay our taxes the same as everywhere else? And so I ask how you, as a publically-funded body, can justify such inequality? Why is it right that folks in Birmingham get to go sledging but we don’t?

Perhaps I’m overreacting? You see, I’m writing this as a 43-year-old woman who has amassed a lifetime of bitterness over hardly ever being where the snow is. I swear that the only thing that’s stopped me going on a once-in-a-life trip to Antarctica is the knowledge that there’d be no snow when I got there, which would be kinda bad for planetary welfare.

tree herefordshire

Some more snow. Just in case I completely forget what it looks like. Which is becoming quite likely.

I still remember (and I’m being deadly serious, here) the heartbreak of how at an impressionable and formative age – 35, say – I watched a gathering crescendo of weather forecasts promising the absolute certainty of heavy snowfall overnight, right where I lived. We were to be at the very epicentre of the apocalyptic mega-blizzard. These projections left no room for doubt. At last, I thought, a lifetime’s yearnings will be fulfilled. So I went to bed excited, but somehow managed a few hours’ sleep. And then, it was morning. The morning. For the very first time in my life, I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, morning person. With a deep breath, I flung wide the curtains to see… a grey, drizzly day, with nary a hint of a snowflake. Never in my life have I been more disappointed. (Well, almost never, but let’s not go there.) Weather forecasters, please know that I have never since forgiven you, and that this let-down has cast a long, stubborn shadow over my emotional wellbeing ever since.

So I finish by asking you whether you sleep easy at night, knowing that your callous actions have caused such distress to a semi-innocent knitter and her small twins? Also, I politely request that you reconsider your behaviour. Please may we have some snow, not in 48 hours’ time, but now? Thank you.

Respectfully yours,

TheTwistedYarn

 

Is it OK, do you think? Letters of complaint are so tricky to get right, don’t you think? Shall I send it off by first class mail?

Meanwhile in other news, there is to be a rather marvellous giveaway on this ‘ere blog, very soon. Hurrah! Details just being finalised.

more icicles

 

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Filed under Outdoors

So That Was 2015

Oh all right then, I submit. Every other blogger in the world has produced lovely collages of their stuff for an end-of-2015 post, so I suppose I should follow suit. Here are six images of 2015-y goodness from TheTwistedYarn. I hope you enjoy them. (And for those of you kind enough to have followed this blog a’while, I hope you don’t expire through boredom from the repetition of these pictures.)

So let’s begin with some of the things that I designed from scratch in 2015. As you’ll see, there’s a mix of knitting and crochet, sometimes within the same project…

stuff i designed www.thetwistedyarn.com

And would you like to see a little of my home? Long-term readers will know that I live in a more-than-averagely-eccentric leaky cold converted old brewery, deep in the Oxfordshire countryside:-

home www.thetwistedyarn.com

Oxfordshire itself is full of history and beauty, and in case you’re not familiar with its landscape, I’ve thrown a fair few local shots onto the blog this year. Here are a few of them:-

oxfordshire www.thetwistedyarn.com

There were adventures in 2015, too, including my column in Simply Knitting and also co-judging the Stylecraft competition:-

adventures www.thetwistedyarn.com

Of course, not all of my knitting was my own designs. I worked from other people’s patterns, too. You see those socks top left in the picture below? I left them in the laundry room a little too close to the take-to-charity-shop pile, and I think that the Stoic Spouse unwittingly scooped them up and donated them to Oxfam. Oh well, I hope that they’re keeping someone else’s feet toasty. I do miss them, though. And that qiviut cowl middle left? It’s still super-warm and super-soft. 🙂

knitting crochet www.thetwistedyarn.com

Finally, I can’t help but mention the food that I’ve grown (or foraged) with the help of the twinnage and my allotment-mate. J, you are a wonderful person as well as a brilliant allotment-mate:-

growing your own food www.thetwistedyarn.com

Anyway, that was 2015. Not bad. I’ve had worse years and I have had better. It was the year in which it became clear that there will be no more children in this household. 🙁 It was the year of the fatal fire at work. 🙁 But it was also a year of friendship and hope and my parents moving to Oxfordshire and the twinnage starting school. 🙂

So… 2016? Well I suspect that there’ll be some knitting and crochet. That insanely over-ambitious crochet project will be completed. I’ll begin vlogging. (Got the lights. Got the microphone. Got the advice from a kindly Hollywood director (Mike Figgis). Just need a more functional internet connection.)

And you? May 2016 bring you love, companionship, and a whole hairy heap of yarn. Happy new year, my friends.

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Filed under Blogging