The storm crashed through this part of the Solent around 6:30-8pm last night. By bedtime all was calm outside and the sky clear. I could see Sirius and the bottom-left-corner star in Orion, even without my spectacles, which I wear for distance vision (distance being further than about 16-20 inches. I guess stars qualify as 'distant'!)
I also found a knitting pattern which I'd downloaded and printed a few years back. I decided to knit it this week, only to find I'd mislaid it. Tried finding the original website, did find it, couldn't download the pattern, it just didn't seem to be there. Bother! Then I had a look in my scrap paper stash, and lo, there it was. I duly sorted out far more colours of yarn (leftover sock yarns) than required by the pattern and started knitting.
The piece, which is small, is knitted flat, intarsia. So I have lots and lots of ends and strands which, naturally enough, need untangling at intervals. The fact that I'm also trying to knit this on a pair of 2.5mm dpns (double-pointed needles) means that I can't stretch things out too much or stitches fall off either end, even though they're longer dpns! Ah well, it appears to be working so far. And no, Dear Reader, I can't tell you what it is, the intended recipient is a Reader.
Meanwhile a Judge in Seattle has blocked President Trump's ban, last week, on people travelling into the USA from seven Islamic states. Good. For. Him.
Good. For. The. Rule. Of. Law.
I can see the President having another Twitterstorm and, possibly, trying to do something about Judge Robart, not to mention his ruling. Either way, the whole ban thing appears to be unconstitutional as the Legislature is not supposed to favour one religion over another. Heck, that was one reason people emigrated to what was to become America in the first place! Apparently the infamous (and Unconstitutional) ban runs out tomorrow. What happens next may well be interesting, for a given value of 'interesting'!
* * *Apparently there is a chronic shortage of lettuces in our supermarkets at present. Due to the Seriously Cold weather in Spain (among other places.) Hmmm, who wants to eat lettuce at this time of year anyhow? Particularly Iceberg lettuce. I mean, Dear Reader, that has virtually no nutritional value at all, apart from water and a small amount of fibre. Spinnach will do you much more good, and is nice used raw. Cooked it can feel a bit 'slimy' in the mouth.
There is also, apparently, a chronic shortage of courgettes (that's zucchini to some Readers), broccoli, sweet peppers and aubergines. Now of course it is possible to fly such vegetables into the UK. But that's 'airmiles', and hence added carbon dioxide emissions, not to mention putting up the price.
As I wrote, Dear Reader, who wants to eat lettuce in January or February anyhow. The thing is to 'eat Seasonally'. If you can grow it in your yard/garden now then you can eat it now. Hence the things to be eating now are cabbages, kale and root vegetables (though the price of them tends to rise when the ground is frozen and they're harder to harvest!)
There's a reason why your Mum, or your Gran, used to serve you stew in the winter. They were cooking with what was available at the time. Seasonal, see.
Right, time to make some soup for lunch. Carrot, apple and cashew I think. See, Seasonal.
Y'all have a good, and Seasonally fed, day now!
It's actually dry, at the moment. Not just 'not raining', but dry. So I put the washing on. Having then checked the weather forecast I realise this might have been a tad premature. Ah well. There's a storm crashing its way up Channel today. There's a yellow warning for wind out until midnight tonight, gusts up to 80mph. Once it has passed the forecast for the weekend is actually to be dry and occasionally sunny, so I shall get the washing dried. Eventually.
Come to think of it, it may well be eventually. The washing machine, which had been so good last week, seems to be taking a lot longer with this load. Oh boy!
Later - the washing machine landed, finally. Only now it's raining outdoors. Ah well. At least I shan't risk washing blowing off the line as this storm rushes up Channel. w00t for dehumidifiers, I say!
I suppose I should take the vacuum cleaner around downstairs at the very least today. While I do, you might like to have a look at this selection of photos, from the Seventies, of a few British Customs. Some of them are still very much alive and still being kept, and not just the Helston Furry/Flora Dance!
Y'all have a good day now!
Gosh it's chuck'n'it this morning. Yesterday afternoon the rain stopped, the sun came out and things dried out a little. Here's hoping it does so again today, the forecast looks promising. Cos after that we're promised proto-storm Doris on Friday. Aaaarrrggh! The washing is building up, as yet undone.
Meanwhile in the European Parliament yesterday Nigel Farage praised Donald Trump and his policies. Someone behind him held up a large sheet of paper on which was written, "He's lying to you" complete with pointing arrow. Which, based on Farage's Brexit performance (plus the fact that he's a politician) was probably correct. Go look, Dear Reader. What do you think?
Of course, had this happened at Westminster the holder of the paper would have been roundly condemned by Mr Speaker as 'acting in an unParliamentary fashion'. At Westminster MPs have to call a spade 'person-activated earth-turning equipment'!
Gosh, the sun's come out. I'd better go stock up the vegetable rack.
Y'all have a good day now!
Told you I wouldn't need to twist H's arm too hard about unravel. "Book the tickets" he told me last night.
So I tried, online. Only to find that to be able to do so, particularly from this browser, I'd need to 'enable all cookies', but there appeared to be no button or whatever to do so. w00t for free minutes on my mobile phone, I say! I booked a ticket for H and ticket plus unravel tote bag for me. To save things getting lost in the post/us forgetting to take them with us (it has been known) we're collecting them when we get there. Here's hoping the system works!
Even better, as H has a rail season ticket for getting to work, we may be able to travel to Farnham for free, or at least reduced price. I can see this being a good day out. Provided the rain holds off. *Does 'Happy Dance'.*
*Looks out the window. It's not raining but the ground isn't drying either. Poo! I have washing which needs doing and it'll never dry if the pavements/sidewalks won't.* Ah well, here's hoping next week will be drier. Thank goodness I'm only washing for two now, rather than four including small children and babies!
Meanwhile you know how various 'critters' like to set up home in our homes, Dear Reader? You know, bats in the attic, or mice in the larder. The former are Protected, the latter are not. Thank goodness. Then there are the reports of foxes which venture into people's homes, temporarily.
Well, in Idaho (it would be America, where everything has to be 'bigger and better') a family woke to find that a moose had fallen into their basement! Of course, not envisaging ever having to get large livestock out of their basement, access was via a flight of stairs, so the moose had to be tranquilised and hefted out. Just as well it was a female moose, without the 'hat rack', I reckon. I mean, imagine trying to manoeuvre a 600lb moose (tranquilised) with antlers up a flight of stairs!
On which thought I shall leave you, Dear Reader. Y'all have a good day now!
I did consider having a go at POTUS and his racist, facist, divisive and utterly stupid policies, but other people are doing that. Go have a look, Dear Reader. Quite what is to become of America remains to be seen. Just mentioning that it doesn't appear to look like anything the Founding Fathers (& Mothers) would a) recognise, and b) want to be a part of.
In happier news, there is a wool festival to be held in 'our' area - most of them seem to be held in Yorkshire, or Wales, or Edinburgh, or even Shetland; you know, Dear Reader, Sheep Country - though Hampshire has it's own breed of sheep. This festival's in Farnham, but we can get there quite easily by train - cos it's not by Southern Rail!
unravel is being held at the Maltings, Farnham, 17th-19th February (this month!) H and I went to one such a festival at the Maltings nine years back, though that was in the summer. Hmmmm, is unravel a moveable feast?
Anyhew, it was good. Various yarn producers, including the lady with her angora rabbits, some independent dyers and various independent shops. All plus talks and workshops.
unravel 2017 logo
This year there are more stalls, more exhibitors, more talks, more workshops, MORE YARN! Order a ticket before 12 February and you'll get a discount. If you're feeling creative you can knit, crochet or felt a bird for the entry display. There now, Dear Reader, what's not to like?
I am currently twisting H's arm in the hope that we can go. But I'm not twisting it very hard as he's quite interested and likes the socks and jumpers I knit him.
On which subject, I darned a couple of pairs of his work socks yesterday and am near finishing a new pair. So that should sort him out for a while. He'd been wearing his woolly socks, even to work, the past couple of weeks it was so chilly. I daresay now that outdoor temperatures are up in the 8-10°C range he'll be back to the cotton mix ones. Good thing I've done some mending and knitting of them!
To another supplier of goodies, this time edible. The Pump Street Bakery in Orford, Sussex, is a 'slow food' supplier of bread - sourdough, viennese-style and pastries. It also supplies chocolate made on site from beans from carefully selected small farms and co-operatives, so it's fairly fair traded too.
What's more to like is that, if you're not in the immediate vicinity, they also do mail order. I'd wonder about that for bread, but for chocolate . . .
Then there was a knock on the door just now. It was Ben, the gas service man, come to service our two gas fires, the water heater and the cooker. Generally they (his firm) send us a letter telling us more or less when he'll be coming. Maybe it got lost in the post. Either way, he's here and servicing things. Good thing he didn't come last week when we really needed to have the fires on!
And, having rushed round with the shopping last night, we have decent marmalade to go on the toast. For all this may be potentially cancer-inducing-grilled-bread-product I like mine a bit darker than the 'golden' they were advocating in the news last week. You can't see that kind of 'golden' on wholemeal bread anyhow!
Seems like anything can give you cancer these days. The thing, I suppose, is to take it carefully and not get hung up about it all. We're all going to die sometime.
Apparently one in three of us in the UK will get cancer of some form (and there are so many forms) in our lives. Quite a lot will recover, and still be cancer-free more than five years later. So I suppose you just have to be careful and be grateful for the NHS, however stressed and strained it is now.
There now, Dear Reader, has that helped? Now to go protest!
Y'all have a good day now!
Gang hey fat choi! Or whatever the words are, and I realise that that was exceedingly bad Cantonese. Both S and D covered Chinese New Year at primary school. What they weren't able to tell me was what the actual words are. H and I didn't 'do' Chinese New Year, when we were at school 'multi-culturalism' involved learning about the Saints' Days of the countries which make up the UK!
I think Chinese New Year is a great reason for a celebration. It occurs any time between 21st January and 20th February (being dependent upon when the New Moon rises. This year it was Saturday, 28th Janary.)
As anyone knows, particularly if they live in Europe, January and February can be a Real Drag. Christmas is long gone, New Year has been celebrated. There's too much month at the end of the money. The days are short and can be very murky. And there's no prospect of anything to celebrate until, maybe, St Valentine's Day (14th February, but then only if you have a 'special someone'.)
I'm all in favour of having a celebration at this point in the year. I'd come across a boxed set of 'Chinese celebration dishes' (that's dishes as in food rather than crockery) meal for two the other day. So for Sunday dinner, on a very damp and grey day, we had Spring Rolls, Chinese Chicken Curry, Beef in Black Bean Sauce, Sweet and Sour Crispy Chicken Balls and Egg Fried Rice. And very pleasant it all was too, even though all the 'traffic light' food content warnings, for salt, sugar, fats, saturated fats etc, were bright red (in this case the red wouldn't be a lucky colour!) Today we're back on the low fat and vegetables.
( Mostly Bad NewsCollapse )
Y'all have a good day now!
There was a lot of confusion in the UK leading up to the Referendum in June last year. The 'Leave' supporters were using mostly scare tactics, which they later admitted were lies, and calling on people's innate but hitherto suppressed racism.
In fact many MPs apparently supporting the 'Leave' campaign were doing so not because they believed in it, but because they thought it would never win. Their support was merely an extention of parliamentary infighting. Heck, do you think David Cameron (the then PM) would have proposed a referendum if he thought the 'Leave' vote would win and he'd have to step down?
The 'Remain' campaigners weren't doing much better. They could have pointed out all the benefits we get from being part of the EU:- fair employment legislation, agricultural subsidies by the £millions, wildlife protection legislation, human rights legislation, etc, etc, etc. They didn't.
Some bright spark of an MP, who was old enough to know better, even went as far as to say that we (the British public who would be voting) didn't want to hear from Experts about the issues involved. Hmmm, was that one of the MPs who would want to keep us (the general public) in submission, in ignorance of all MPs are up to, among other things?
So what are the results of the campaign and the referendum so far?
An increase in overt racism and a lot less 'political correctness' - if you have more than the average number of 'w's or 'z's in your name, or if your skin tone is darker than very pale pink - you're likely to be on the receiving end of nasty comments, letters, graffitti and even physical attacks. "Coming over here, taking our jobs" being the commonest slur.
The fact that if they weren't here the jobs wouldn't be done seems to have slipped most people's minds. Particularly the minds of those making the comments and attacks. In fruit and vegetable growing areas of the country fruit and veg harvesting is regarded as 'Immigrant work', thus not suitable for British people. If 'immigrants' aren't allowed into the country, who will harvest our vegetables? We don't have machines for everything.
Then there's the NHS - if all the apparently 'foreign' workers left we'd have an even greater shortage of nurses and doctors than at present. Not to mention the Care Homes for our elderly. Again, apparently too many British (read 'white') people don't want to work the inconvenient hours, particularly for that basic level of wages.
Of course, the fact that is that many, if not most, of the apparent 'foreigners' were born in the UK and are UK citizens. Heck, many of their parents are too. But no, they have darker skins, or they have 'funny' names, thus they 'should be sent back where they came from'. Even if that was London, or Liverpool or Glasgow or some other British city.
So the 'debate' continues. 'Why haven't we left already?' ask many, particularly prompted by certain tabloid newspapers. Even high court judges have been libelled as 'enemies of the people' in such papers.
Perhaps one should try looking at the agenda of the owners of these papers. Is it that what they really want is to be able to say to the government of the day 'Jump!' and have the government answer, 'How high?'
Should you be in the mood for further analysis of the current situation, have a read here. Cos tyrell explains the whole thing so much more clearly than I could.
Meanwhile the current Prime Minister, Theresa May, is in the USA visiting the new President to remind him of the 'special relationship' between our two countries. Wonder how she'll get on. Hope she's taken a good heavy handbag so she can whop him one if he should be so crass as to 'try it on' with her!
And what is this 'special relationship' anyway? Trump appears to be increasingly protectionist of US trade and businesses. Is he going to allow British goods into the US at favourable (or should that be 'favorable'?) rates?
For that matter, I know that there are a lot of people in the UK who were hoping Ms May would raise the issue of women and Trump's apparent attitude to us with him. Somehow I don't think she will. Probably because she thinks that there's no point in potentially alienating someone if you want something from them.
I dunno. It all appears to be one big mess, what with people over here not thinking, or even (apparently) wanting to think - and there being MPs who want to keep us that way. Then there's the 'alternative reality' President Trump appears to be living in. Perhaps someone should try to get through to him and tell him that, eg: two and two do not equal five - no matter how many times you say that they do. Cos his view of the world seems to be so distorted and he seems to think that repeating his distorted view will somehow make it 'real', 'true', or at least 'alternatively true'.
Think I'll give up here. Y'all have a good, and thoughtful, day now!
Oh look, it's overcast again, and there's a nasty wind blowing in from the Continent. As it's a southerly one would expect things to be warmer. However the Continent has been freezing, literally, for a while now, so it's a nasty cold southerly! Never mind, according to the forecast the weather will be getting warmer towards the weekend and next week. We know what that means at this time of year, don't we Dear Reader? Rain.
Consequently I shall be wearing my aran weight cardigan and my woolly hat (101) when I go to raid the market later on this morning. I really must get on and finish knitting my Selbu mittens (two colour, patterned, therefore thicker and warmer.) I got the pattern from Anniken Allis but have adapted it to be mittens with a removable flap. That way I shan't have to take the entire mitten off when I need to use my fingers. I've already knitted one and have started the other, it's just that Christmas and various other projects kept getting in the way. Then it was summer, so I forgot them. Hey ho!
When I have finished knitting the current couple of pairs of socks on the needles I shall have a go at the second mitten. It's 'afternoon knitting' as I need to concentrate on the pattern. I also think I'll need to lengthen the base of the first mitten. Aaaarrrggh! Ah well.
Also yesterday was Burn's Night - the time to celebrate the life and work of Scottish poet Robbie Burns. Did you have your haggis with chappit tatties and neeps, Dear Reader? No, we didn't either. Not because we couldn't get haggis, you can get that wee beastie* many places these days, specially if you've many ex-pat Scots in the area. Or online.
I've never had haggis, not because I don't like the idea. It's basically all the bits of a sheep you couldn't reasonably call 'meat', chopped up with seasonings and oatmeal, stuffed into the sheep's stomach and boiled. I've usually used faggots - no, Dear Reader, not bundles of kindling, nor 'that' sort. The faggots** I mean are the tennis-ball sized balls of various bits of animal you can't reasonably call 'meat' minced up with seasonings, etc and wrapped in 'caul' - which is basically the membrane connecting turns of the small intestines. Having put you off with that description, Dear Reader, they taste nice, specially with mash, peas (or 'neeps' - turnips or swede) and a rich brown gravy.
Anyhew, we didn't celebrate Burn's Night last night, we didn't even have faggots, we had fritatta 'cos that was what was on the menu!
And Finally - a new study reckons that one in five children in the UK is living in poverty. Now that won't be the grinding 'the whole family is trying to exist on £1 a day' kind of poverty all too prevalent in too many parts of the world, but . . . This is in the UK, one of the richest countries in the world.
Yesterday another report reckoned there are more homeless people than ever in the UK, around 4,000. This figure is just for people actually on the streets, it doesn't include those 'sofa surfing' around friends' homes. It is also reckoned to be a conservative estimate. Apparently around 40% of those who are homeless have mental (ill)health problems - so much for closing mental institutions in favour of 'care in the community'! (Not that I was ever in favour of such institutions, they were often terrible places.)
Comes to something, doesn't it Dear Reader, when one of the richest countries in the world has a growing population of homeless people and a fifth of its are children living in poverty. George Osbourne, you were wrong! We are not a cash-strapped economy.
Back in 1947 the UK was cash-strapped, battered by war and having to repay the Lease-Lend debt to America. Yet look what the government then did - set up the NHS, build new council houses by the hundred, and generally tried to look after everyone in the country.
I think it's time things changed. Not necessarily the political party 'in charge', but the attitude to money, poverty, those who are poor, wealth, responsibility and various other things.
Right, rant over, time to go raid the market. Y'all have a good day now!
*It has been said that haggis are farmed in the Scottish Highlands, on the hills. They are treated much as sheep, rounded up by haggis-herders playing the famous 'pipes'.
It is also rumoured that some go to the Highlands during the Open Season to hunt the wild haggis, which they shoot.
It is further said that some people will believe anything - witness those who voted for Brexit, among other things last year!
**Mr Brains (brand) used to make very tasty faggots. Usually four of them, in a rich brown gravy, frozen. It was easier than getting the ingredients (particularly 'caul') and making your own. Specially now we have no local butcher. It was also a lot less messy. I don't know whether Mr Brains is still in business, but I expect other suppliers of faggots also exist.
The fog is back this morning. H said he could see it building up over the Portsmouth area as he travelled back home from work yesterday evening. Still, it doesn't appear to be as thick as on Monday, it certainly isn't swirling along the streets!
Somewhat later, also unlike Monday, the sun has broken through. Yay!
Just a little something, courtesy of Eric Idle, The Infinite Monkey Cage (a BBC Radio 4 programme) and a few others
The Infinite Monkey Cage Song.
Ya-aw-awn. Hmmm, how does this coffee machine work?
*Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. LL&P
**Go check the link, Dear Reader.
I gather that more people attended anti-Trump rallies on Saturday, even in just Washington, than ever did the actual inauguration rally the previous day. Boy, is that man unpopular. Mind you, however he wangled it, he was elected democratically. Those who protested, besides being very upset, should be glad that they live in places with Freedom of Speech, so that they can rally and march and generally protest.
What really bugs me is that during his inaugural address Trump kept talking about various Christian values, then returning to the mantra, 'America First!' No, Donald, if you're really espousing Christian values it's God first. Then love, service, inclusion and integrity. Hmmm.
I also gather that Offcial Trump Support has 'Alternative Truths'*. In their view the inauguration rally was better attended than any other rally for the inauguration of any previous president. What planet are they on? Are they living in Cloud Cuckoo Land? Is Trump living there with them? It'll be interesting to hear their 'Alternative Truths' on other things as the presidency continues.
You know something, Dear Reader? Up untill now the alternative to truth has been lies. Maybe we should bear this in mind when we hear future statements made by the Trump camp!
The other thing which may repay watching is what the man says now he's President (it's only for the next four years!) Having fought one of the most polarising and divisive campaigns he now says he wants to unite America. Right. A great way of doing that might not have to have divided it in the first place! Of course, the way things are at present, he could just end up uniting the States against him. Just a thought.
Then he promised he'd build a wall along the American/Mexican border - "1000 miles long and 35-40 feet high", which would be paid for by Mexico. Now he is talking about building said wall, but paying for it with American money (he estimated it would cost $8 million, others reckon it'll cost much more) then recouping the costs from Mexico. Yeah. Right.
Meanwhile that'll be at least $8 million which could have been better spent on other, more useful, things. If it ever gets started.
Then there are the various promises to dismantle various things; like Obamacare - which attempts to provide medical insurance and care for those who couldn't otherwise afford same. What does it say about a country that won't care for the poor and the sick? (Cos the way things are going in the UK it can be said about us too . . .) Caring for the poor and the sick comes pretty high in a list of Christian values and virtues too.
Now I realise that all the reports about marches against and all the other stuff that's been on the Interwebs could be regarded, particularly by those of an 'Alternative Truth' mentality, as publicity. Remember 'there is no such thing as bad publicity'?
In terms of ratings/publicity/general attention, Trump has had a lot. Maybe it's time we did what the Parenting manuals recommend - ignore him, deny him/them 'the oxygen of publicity' (while keeping a quiet eye on him to make sure he doesn't do anything really stupid.) If what he and his supporters are doing really is attention seeking, let's concentrate on other things, other places, give our attention to other people. Dear Reader, henceforth I shall be doing that. Unless he does something which I think really needs commenting on.
And one more thing to think about. America has just seen the end of a presidency of a man of great integrity, and the start of a presidency with a man who has a department for 'Alternative Truths'!
Y'all have a good day now!
*Once upon a time there were 'Lies, damned lies and statistics.' Now it looks like there are 'Lies, damned lies and Alternative Truths.' I object to the way Trump and his cadre are devaluing the English language (or even the English (USA) langage). Lying is bad enough. Lying and calling it 'Alternative Truth' is plain wrong. What else are they getting wrong?