Thursday, May 29, 2014

Safely home, happily reunited with the Unst Bridal Shawl. I'm halfway around round 108 of the border pattern, 136 being the target.

We had a good time. I had something like a panic attack on Sunday morning, the day we left, and was afraid to take valerian for fear it would affect driving. But all went well. We -- my husband, Archie and I -- got to Strathardle, and Greek Helen joined us that evening.

She harvested a rich crop of local news during our two-day stay, and also made a delicious nettle soup. I tried the Guardian writer's idea of soaking Good King Henry in salt water before cooking, and it works. Not as tasty as real spinach picked at the man-from-Del-Monte moment,  but all four of us ate it cheerfully enough. It's a hardy easy-care perennial vegetable of no interest to rabbits or deer -- that's something worth having. I will move on next time to trying my sister's idea of frying the leaves unsoaked and bitter with anchovies and garlic.

Deer are getting increasingly out of hand. Helen flew to Edinburgh and then took the train to Pitlochry and then a taxi the rest of the way. She says they disturbed two herds of deer at separate points on the road over the hills. And we have one living in our paddock. It watches coolly as we walk or drive past (our driveway goes up through the paddock to join the road to the village) with an air that suggests that we are the intruders. Helen got a couple of pictures of it which I hope to post soon.

Little remains of my Welsh onions, but the garlic patch is in good heart and -- oh, Hat! -- your Babington leeks! My perennial vegetable book suggests leaving garlic in. The unharvested cloves from last year have come up in clusters -- again, clearly of no interest to deer. So I dug up some clumps to use as garlic-y spring onions, and others to separate and re-plant. It is hardneck garlic, and I'm hoping for some of the magical spiral flower stems we had last year. A Chinese delicacy, lightly fried in butter with a squirt of soy sauce.

So all is not lost.

Knitting went less well. I took along the Carol Sunday scarf kit and a short circular of the right gauge. Short, but not short enough. I don't keep many supplies there,  but I did find a short-enough circular of a too-small gauge. I knit a couple of four-row stripes, but I don't really like short circulars, let alone too-tight knitting. I deliberately left the whole apparatus behind , and will pack a set of dp's of the right gauge next time.

We hope that Rachel and her son Joe might be able to join us there soon. Failing them, we'll have to wait until Helen reappears in July. I don't think even my husband would propose going without support these days. He fell, at one point -- slipped on wet grass and sat down heavily, partially supported by a black current bush. No harm was done, and Archie got him to his feet without difficulty. But all three of us were a bit shaken. Helen was off gathering local gossip and missed the brief excitement.

We talked about what to do about the wedding -- November 1 in North Yorkshire. I think we have more or less concluded that my husband will have to make the effort, the alternatives being too grim. I've got to be there, because my mother refused to come to Rachel's wedding (Rachel being, now, the bridegroom's mother). It's a long story which I won't attempt to tell.

I think the answer might be to acquire a collapsible wheelchair. "Frail and irritating" is one thing, "disabled" quite another.

I promised pictures, and will eventually have some, when Helen sends me hers. Meanwhile, here is Lizzie on her West Coast tour. (Lizzie is the bridegroom's younger sister, travelling in the UsofA at the end of her very successful and happy year at the University of Kansas. I don't know who the other girls are.)


  1. KarenE9:31 AM

    If investing in a wheelchair, it's worth getting a good, sturdy one. I remember vividly the glee with which my sister threw a cheap collapsible one in a skip at the end of a cruise where she and the tour guide ended up carrrying mum+chair over cobbles that the chair flatly refused to negotiate. It might be worth seeing if you can borrow one for a trial from the NHS.

  2. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Oh, Jean.....I loved the picture of Lizzie exulting over a star in Hollywood's walk of fame! How wonderful that she chose Ogden Nash, not an insipid Hollywood star of the standard constellation.

    Barbara M. In NH

  3. Hello again! Lovely to see you!

  4. Welcome back, and sorry to hear the sad veg. news. I was pulling out walking onions and tossing them last evening, they have become such a pest. I don't want them in the strawberries, it seems an unpleasant combination. I second the borrowed wheelchair idea, a good sturdy one that folds. Here you can rent them from Goodwill Easterseals and those types of places.

  5. And you've returned - busy and ambitious! Nice to have you back. I'm sure Lizzie doesn't come across that name very often in her travels! It looks like she's having a great adventure. Interesting news on the vegetable front. I hope you get back in June to check on them. Also very glad to hear you're able to make the wedding this fall. Good luck with the planning!

  6. Ellen1:16 AM

    In the US, it is possible to purchase (even at a drugstore) a collapsible walker, which has a sort of narrow seat across the front, so that you can use it for support as you walk or stand, and the sit if tired. Some people find them more acceptable than a wheelchair, and they are lighter and more manuverable. If its an acceptable option, I'll look up the particulars for you.