Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The once-in-royal-David's-city moment, on Games Day, when the Chieftan, the local baronet, leads the procession across the bridge and down to the Bannerfield:

We’ll cut to the chase: my Aran sweater was unplaced, in a field of five:

I can’t really comment because, as you see, they were all folded up nicely. Assuming – and it’s a big assumption – that my knitting and seaming were up to scratch, I wonder if the judges didn’t like the fact that both the central panel (Starmore) and the flanking patterns were not traditional Aran. (Shandy, it’s simply wonderful to see that you’ve used the Starmore pattern too. A bond between us.) Alexander didn’t like the fact that it lacked a “proper neck”, and was unimpressed when I showed him the way some of the cables from the Starmore pattern carried on up into the neck ribbing.

I gave it to James-the-Younger. He’ll be able to wear it longer than Greek Fergus, and he lives in a climate which will let him wear it more often.

However, this is by the way. The big news of the day is that grandson Joe won the Dan Webster Cup, previously held by his father (’93) and his brother Thomas-the-Elder (’98, at the precocious age of 14). It is awarded to the best “light athlete” – as distinguished from the great big kilted men who toss cabers and put shots in a corner of the field all afternoon.

One wins it by being the best in the three races – the 100 yards, the 880 and the 440. There are no written rules that I know of as to how firsts and seconds and thirds are to be weighted, which means that the judges often have room for a certain amount of creativity. (= Joe really should have had it last year.) This year there was no doubt at all: Joe won all three races outright.

Here he is receiving it, from a nephew of the first winner. That's his father Ed, on the right.

Here he is drinking beer out of it – supplied from the can in Matt’s hand:

One of the several things we have never won is Musical Cars (the Sample Cup) which ends the afternoon. Cars drive round and round the field and when the music stops, the passenger runs to grab a stake with a little flag on it from the centre of the field. Occasionally the organisers try to substitute some other entertainment at that point, but the glen rises up and demands the restoration of Musical Cars. We’ve come second, a couple of glorious times.

This year we were only 5th or 6th, with Joe running of course and me driving. I’ve never done it before, and was really rather proud of my performance. The great thing is that the music musn’t stop when you’re behind the dancing platform, or the nets and apparatus meant to protect the viewers from the operations of the heavyweight athletes (see above).


Little of cheer to report. I was rather pleased to learn from the news last night that ’11 has been the coldest summer since I started vegetable-gardening. Peas, both mange-tout and ordinary, were a success, as were broad beans. And of course sorrel and Good King Henry. (I’m glad you like sorrel soup, Shandy. Now try sorrel sauce on fish.) My ambitions for a long-term perennial source of salad onions (bunching and walking) looks good although it has produced little so far by way of anything to eat. We may get some sprouts, now that I’ve got my vegetable cage. All else, even potatoes, pretty feeble.


  1. Jean, As usual I enjoyed your account of the Games. Your sweater is lovely on your grandson and I agree with the logic of giving it to James instead of Fergus.
    Congratulations to Joe and nice to see him wearing the Grandson Sweater!
    Re gardening, I am glad this wasn't my first year or I would have been despondent. Still, the plums, beans and potatoes were good and I should get a good crop of pears and apples. It seems the weather suited fruit more than vegetables this year.

    All the best,
    Dawn in NL

  2. Congrats to Joe's success at the Games! It was nice for him to continue the tradition of winning the cup. I am so sorry your sweater didn't win. Who knows what goes through the minds of the judges, or whether they even know anything about knitting. Sam the Ram is a tough act to follow. :-)

  3. Gerri2:13 PM

    Too bad about the sweater in the Games but having a grandson wearing it is certainly blue-ribbon level!

    A post from Strathardle? Does that mean the iPad is happy there?

  4. Anonymous2:15 PM

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time! So glad to hear it. Your sweater looks great - can't believe it didn't at least get an honorable mention.

    Gardening is always such a challenge. I remember a few years ago we had a summer like yours. Like Dawn in NL, I was very glad that year that it wasn't my first. Many first-timers in my community garden just gave up.

    Beverly in NJ

  5. How wonderful to see your champion athletic grandson wearing the grandson sweater, if I am not mistaken.
    We did love the sorrel soup, but we were a little alarmed to read what the effects of the oxalic acid content might be. That has not stopped us enjoying it again, however.

  6. Anonymous5:26 PM

    Thanks, Jean, for the photo of the procession across the bridge. I love the pageantry of it all, and can just imagine the sound of the bagpipes.

    If I had been a judge, you would have won a blue ribbon for your sweater; it is beautiful! Congratulations to Joe on his win.

    Musical Cars sounds like so much fun! I'm sure there is a lot of laughter and frivolity during that event.

    Mary G. in hot, hot, hot Texas

  7. Anonymous6:44 PM

    It's an outrage that your sweater did not win a prize! It is beautiful - and I appreciate the way the cables flow into the neck ribbing.

  8. I believe that I recognize Joe's sweater. Didn't you knit that for him? Congrats to all! And I thought your entry was brilliant.

  9. I too have had a "win some, lose some" year with crops. There are precious few mulberries on our tree and the tomato crop is very poor. On the other hand, the asparagus earlier in the year cropped really well for the first time and I've got a bumper crop of autumn raspberries for very little effort.

    Sorry you missed out on an award with the sweater. I think it looks great on your grandson.