Women that knit

The women in my family are knitters. It’s what we do. My earliest memory of my grandmother is her sitting in her chair in her flat knitting premature baby clothes. She always knit for the local hospital as well as for me. I was a premature baby and I’m pretty sure that the hand knitted tiny garments I wore to keep me warm and safe are one of the reasons it all worked out okay. Knitting has a power like that, or at least my grandmothers knitting certainly did.

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Her needles always clicked as they were straight and metal and they made balls of super wash wool disappear and reappear into jackets and hats and jumpers like a special form of magic.

She tried to teach me to knit when I was around five years old. But I was impatient and a tomboy and much more interested in running around in the garden wearing my fathers shirts and pretending to be Columbo than being stuck indoors with sticks and string.

I regret that my grandmother didn’t get to see me take up her skill and make it into something of my own. I think she would be very proud of my ability to take 400 yards of a brightly coloured wool and turn it into socks, with my circular carbon fibre needles that are so different to hers.

But I am fortunate that my mother sees me knit all the time. She taught me when I finally came to the realisation that this was something I felt I should have in my life. One winters evening on a flying visit north she patiently sat through my very first knit and purl stitches. She then followed up the tuition with patient phone conversations and helpful hints. Do you have any idea how hard it is to teach someone a craft when you can only hear their voice. This was before Skype or FaceTime and my mum had the patience of a saint!

Imagine her surprise when she next sees me knitting, almost a year later and exclaims at how my hands look nothing like hers or her mothers. I hold my needles very differently and she finds it strange to watch them create the same things from such a different style.

Why am I ruminating on all this? Because here I sit with my wedding knitting. I am about to cast on and it feels more significant that other projects as it will be more tied to a place and an event than ever before. Not least because I am following in my grandmothers footsteps like never before. My favourite photograph of her is the one of her knitting on her honeymoon. Soon I will have a similar picture taken. I don’t usually knit on holiday, but I know I have to this time because it would have made her giggle to see it. I’m breaking from tradition and not knitting for my new husband. Instead I’m knitting for myself, because according to him it keeps me sane and in that way it’s all knitting for him!

So knitting will have played a big part in my wedding and honeymoon. But no mother, if you’re reading this, you’re not allowed to knit during the ceremony!

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Packing

I’m really bad at packing. Which probably sounds strange to people who know me as I’m pretty hot on all the things that lead up to it. I can do organisation, I can make lists – love to make lists – I can plan and plot and ponder, but packing, it’s not my bag. (ahem, sorry!). 

I’m a packing procrastinator. As I sit and write this Mr L has done all his packing for the holiday. Separate bags for wedding and honeymoon, bags for wedding “stuff”, all the documents are printed and ready, his hand luggage pile is neat and ordered. What have I done? I chose the books I want to take with me and bough a spare set of trainer socks. 

Nothing is packed, it’s not even in piles to be packed. In fact I have a long list of toiletries that are still sitting in the shop because I haven’t even bought them yet. IMG_1862

And yet I was up at 06.49 this morning because I’m so excited about our trip. I could have packed in that time, instead I made coffee, sent numerous all-capitals text messages to my mum about how excited I am, drank the coffee and procrastinated some more by writing a blog post. 

We set off for our flight in six hours. What’s the betting I’m still throwing things in a bag as the taxi pulls up?

Thank goodness someone else packed the dress and all I have to do is carry it. 

 

Questa settimana / This week

It’s been quite the week. Work and play and plenty of both. Here’s a round up of what’s been going on:

We celebrated our anniversary. Twice. First with champagne afternoon tea and a wander around one of our favourite rose gardens..

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…then with a trip along the river in the tall ship Loth Lorien.

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We accidentally ended up going for dinner

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and discovered a serendipitous wine on the menu, so it had to be done.

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I practiced my Italian and am beginning to wonder if Duolingo is trying to tell me something.

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I made more jam.

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I played with the new macro lens for my phone

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I went to an event for work and honed my networking skills.

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And on Friday evening I picked up my wedding dress. No sneak peeks of that one I’m afraid. It’s hanging up safely out of the view of prying eyes, awaiting it’s journey over to Italy on Wednesday. 

I hope everyone is having a restful weekend, and are looking forward to the week ahead, I think it’s going to be a good one!

 

 

 

Out of synch.

I am feeling rather out of synch at the moment. Things are moving so fast both at home and at work that whilst the big things are being achieved and ticked off the lists, little things are getting missed.

As a result I came downstairs this morning to a desperate scene. Mr L was sitting in his chair in the living room without a cup of coffee in his hand. My eyes automatically scanned the wooden chest in front of him. Nope, no mug in evidence there. At which point he turned slowly to me and said in the flat tone of someone in considerable shock “no coffee”.

“What do you mean no coffee?”

“We have no coffee. Not in the caddy, not in the cupboard, I couldn’t find any in the house. We must have used the last lot yesterday and not noticed”

As he returned to whatever he was reading to distract himself from the inevitability of a commute without the morning caffeine hit, the true extend of the situation became apparent.

“And there’s nothing for breakfast” I mumbled whilst slowly walking towards our barren kitchen.

I’m a toast in the morning kind of a person. Or muesli, or homemade granola. I like a good pastry on a special occasion, but not during the week. I’d love to be able to eat something protein-based such as eggs, but I can’t abide their texture and thus they sit dejected on the side until a weekend cake baking ensues.

This leaves only one possibility for an emergency breakfast. Porridge.

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Don’t get me wrong, I like a good bowl or porridge. I like the endless mix-in and topping possibilities. I like the warmth of it on a chilly morning. I like the creaminess if made with all milk and the frugality of it made with water. What I don’t like is that an hour after eating the largest portion I can manage my stomach is growling and I’m scrabbling around for something to refill it.

This mornings porridge was made in a small copper pot and eaten out of it too as all the bowls were in the dishwasher which I turned on before thinking to rescue one. I used all milk, added a dash of cinnamon, a handful of dried sour cherries and as an extra piece of Friday indulgence, a slug of maple syrup.

It was tasty and warming and rather quaint to spoon out of the little pan at our dining room table.

And fortunately there is bread and peanut butter stashed at work alongside a freshly ground bag of coffee.

Marmellata di nozze

Today I’ve had a day off. In fact I have two days which means combined with the upcoming bank holiday I’ve managed to sneak five days at home in a row. It’s been a while since I’ve managed that, and I’m feeling rather smug about it.

I’m mostly using the time to “get stuff done” which actually tends to mean spending the entire time in the kitchen. Not content with having spent the last two weeks at work frantically in the kitchens making batch after batch of jam, the first thing I planned for this morning was to make jam. Not just any jam; wedding jam.

Like the over ambitious sort that I am, when the suggestion of having a wedding cake was floated I knew that I’d have to get involved in some way. My immediate thought was to roll up my sleeves and offer to make it. Fortunately Mr L talked me down off that ledge reminding me that it would be a whole different kitchen, and oven, and country, not to mention it would be the day before the wedding and it was possible that maybe, little bit, there’ll be other things to be getting on with.

So I stepped graciously (okay, reluctantly) away from that idea and went back to pondering. I’d already suggested the recipe and flavour that I hoped they could produce right down the jam flavour for the filling. Then it struck me, the jam! Obviously it couldn’t possibly be a cake at our wedding filled with jam that wasn’t mine. That’s just wrong.

Which is why I find myself in the kitchen today, up to my elbows in red plums and rosemary. My signature flavour, which the chef in Italy has said he needs over five litres of in order to fill the cake sufficiently. That wouldn’t be particularly daunting if I didn’t have to then transport it to the wedding venue in my suitcase!

It’ll be worth it though to slice into our cake and have it filled with the most delicious marmellata di nozze (wedding jam) that a bride could hope for.

If those jars don’t break during my flight and cover my honeymoon wardrobe in red sticky fragrant goop that is.

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In defence of the grapefruit.

There are certain things I indulge in when Mr L isn’t home. I reflected on this recently whilst he enjoyed an evening of post-work drinks and I pottered off to keep the cats company and spend some alone time in the house.

Now for some people an evening without their parter might involve watching that guilty pleasure film, taking the longest bath possible with the largest glass of wine they can manage, eating dinner in bed with a good book. It’s not that I don’t enjoy any of these things, I do, but when Mr L is out the first thing I do is bust out my secret stash of grapefruit.

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I like to eat my grapefruit cut in half so that it can be slowly, deliberately and delicately be enjoyed using my grapefruit spoon. A special utensil handed down from my grandmother with a perfect serrated tip that allows maximum grapefruit scoopage.

I also like to enjoy my grapefruit in peace. Which I cannot do when Mr L is home. His dislike and derision of such wonderful a fruit goes so far that he once sent me this graph to help illustrate it.

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(graph thanks to XKCD)

That man has a serious grapefruit aversion. Which is perfectly fine and understandable. Not everybody gets the greatness that is the tart and juicy pompelmo. But sometimes, when I get an evening to myself there is nothing better than curling up with an episode of Columbo* with my grapefruit spoon at the ready.

*we’ll discuss that another time shall we?

 

I’m pretending I haven’t seen it.

I think autumn is trying to sneak up on us. The last couple of days I’ve worn a jacket for the first time in months and today I gave in and added a jumper. Not that this has stopped me wearing shorts because it hasn’t, but I did have to give in and wear tights with them. I’m just not ready for autumn, I’m in an official state of denial about it all. I mean,  it’s August, and August is not an autumnal month. Also there are too many things happening in autumn for it to be upon us just yet .

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But the pumpkin doesn’t lie, and it’s getting more orange by the day. I can see it from the dining room window, taunting me, flashing its orange skin amongst the leaves. I haven’t been out to check on it in the last couple of days because it’s rained and thundered, and I have been mostly curled up on the sofa trying to pretend that it’s still warm enough in the house to wear just a vest top (whilst hiding under a quilt). However, I know it’s there.

The strange thing is that I love autumn. It’s my favourite time of year. It means knitwear and the start of the football season (yes, yes, I know it starts tomorrow, but that’s just silly, it never used to start as early as mid-August), and pumpkins! Ones I grew myself and are supposed to taste like roasted chestnuts. And yet, I’m just not ready. I want a little more sunshine, a few more figs from the tree and I’m still holding out hope that our courgette plants will produce a courgette (I’m not sure how last year I drowned in marrows to the extent that I’ve hidden them in the work freezer – ssshhh – and this year not a single courgette has graced my plot). I want to drink just one more glass (ahem, bottle) of rosé, and spend just a few more breakfasts before work sitting outside watching the cats roll around in the dust.

Perhaps if I ignore the pumpkins for long enough they will realise I’m not ready, stop ripening and allow me just a few more weeks of blissful ignorance?