Monday, May 17, 2021


Helen didn’t have surgery after all. She was seen at the Royal Infirmary on the day of the disaster, but referred out to Livingstone for surgery this morning. When she got there, a different set of doctors decided against. It would be hard to locate the severed nerve or nerves; a general anaesthetic is not completely risk-free; there is also the danger of introducing infection into the wound. They were worried about the ugly scar, but that doesn’t bother her. So she is home, sounding cheerful, with instructions to remain immobile for two or three days, and not to drive for a fortnight.


The Royal Infirmary feared she would lose sensation in part of her foot, which would affect balance. Now the only problem seems to be a loss of feeling in the shin, and one can live with that.


I can profitably work that all up into Italian for Saturday’s conversation.


I walked alone this morning – 2485 steps; a bit better. Archie is coming tomorrow after all (he had planned to stay home looking after his mother) so I’ll have company.


I went on consulting my own frayed nerves rather than culture or Italian – finished watching the wonderful BBC “Pride and Prejudice” down to the final kiss. I then re-read the end of the book, from Lydia’s marriage onwards: it’s really a very faithful adaptation. Watching it, I thought maybe the magnificent Alison Steadman was playing Mrs Bennett a bit OTT. On re-reading, I don’t think so. The awfulness is fully there in the text.


And I went on knitting my Pairfect sock. The idea, a simple but ingenious one, is that you start ribbing; and when the original colour gives out you switch to st st for a passage of Arne-and-Carlos self-patterning; and when the original colour reappears, you knit a heel; and then knit the desired length of foot. Then you continue to pull yarn out of the centre of the ball. At first, it will be the yarn you didn’t use for the foot; then a length of bright yellow yarn. That will give way in time to the original colour, and at that point you start knitting the second sock.


I’m well-advanced with the first self-patterning section. This threatens to be slightly addictive, and I’m in danger of having knit too much before the cruise even starts. There’s still time to buy a Kate Davies yoke sweater kit. I’ve chosen the one I want – Coofle. I haven’t clicked far enough ahead to find out how much it costs: that might cool my enthusiasm.



Sunday, May 16, 2021


I spoke to Helen this morning. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all is well, but all is at least in hand.


She tripped and fell heavily, as we knew. When she had cautiously established that nothing was broken, she went upstairs to clean herself up – and when she saw the wound, decided that she needed medical attention. She was alone in the house. She went next door to her neighbours, but they weren’t there. She decided that either a taxi or an ambulance would take too long to arrive, so she drove to the Royal Infirmary herself. The desk where she presented herself assumed that since she had driven herself there, and walked in, she belonged in Minor Injuries. And in Minor Injuries there was a substantial queue (of people with nothing much wrong with them, she says).


Helen is a fairly forceful character. I wonder if she was more shocked than she realised. Did she try telling someone that she could see the bone?


When a medically qualified person finally saw her, things moved forward promptly. An x-ray confirmed her own diagnosis: nothing is broken. That's a mercy. But a nerve or nerves are severed. She will have surgery tomorrow (full-scale, general anaesthetic) for that. Yesterday they put in temporary stitches and gave her some crutches and sent her home.


One good thing, though. She was about to embark on a serious couple of hours of housekeeping when the accident happened: she had changed out of her nice new trousers. The old pair she was wearing when she fell have been written off, as feared.




I finished those socks. Here they are. I am horrified to see through the eyes of the camera, how different they are. Maybe I’ll keep them for myself.

There is nothing in my sock stash that I particularly like, but there is a ball of Regia Pairfect (in rather alarming colours). I did a Pairfect pair once, I think; it was rather fun. I went to Arne and Carlos on Youtube, to remind me how to do it, and cast on. We’ll see.


I got around the garden by myself this morning – C. usually comes on Sunday, but she has a cold. 2080 steps – it has been one of those days when nothing seems to please the telefonino.


Instead of reading, I have been re-watching the old BBC “Pride and Prejudice” to serve my nerves. It’s still good.

Saturday, May 15, 2021


Archie just phoned to say that Helen has tripped over something, running for the telephone, and cut her leg badly. She drove herself to hospital, where he thinks she’ll probably stay tonight. Oh, dear, indeed. She had on a particularly nice pair of brand new trousers when I saw her this morning, too. 2203 steps.


No knitting, but I am sufficiently agitated by this news that I’ll probably be able to get back into the sitting room this evening and finish off that toe. Then what? The problem of cruise-knitting remains unsolved. I have a sort of hankering for a Kate Davies yoke sweater kit, which would be ridiculous given the amount of stash to hand. Yoke sweaters are awfully peaceful. Anna, I do agree about missing KD’s one-time homely blogs.


C. and I have had our boarding instructions and luggage labels from the Majestic Line. Masks will have to be worn on board, which is bad news. I find them claustrophobic and – despite your help with the problem – my spectacles steam up. I’ll have to solve that one by not wearing them all the time, and will have to try very hard not to lose them.


This is alarming news about the red warning on my blog. Thank you for telling me, Jenny, although I can’t imagine what I could do about it. Blogger has never mentioned a problem to me. I wonder if I provided an unsafe link at some point?

Friday, May 14, 2021


I’ve been sitting out on the step for the last couple of hours, watching the filming of a few seconds of  “Crime”. (See Wednesday’s blog.) Goodness, I’m glad I’m not a movie star. Someone once said – possibly even Evelyn Waugh – that war consists of long intervals of exquisite tedium interspersed with moments of terror. Filming is rather like that. They’re still at it out there.


But there was some warmth in the sun, and all the neighbours were assembled, and that was kind of fun. Here some of us are:


I have an appointment to have my hair done next week, you may be glad to hear.


2296 steps. I walked alone.


I’ve signed up for Kate Davies’ Bluestocking club – women’s history plus sock patterns. Maybe it’ll get me knitting again. I have done a bit today. I watched the whole first episode of “Pursuit of Love” and have brought the current sock to the toe shaping. I should finish tomorrow. I’m afraid I didn’t like “Pursuit of Love” at all. You’ll have to tell me, later on, whether they get Fabrice de Sauveterre anywhere near right.


Thank you for your cat comments. Sharon, I particularly like your notion that cats can hide in another dimension. Perdita has been doing it all her life.

Now I must work on Italian for tomorrow. I've read my canto of the Inferno but need to go through it again with a translation. For literature I decided to stick with Jhumpa Lahiri -- explaining her to my tutor will be a good exercise in itself. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021


An unexciting day, after the thrills of yesterday. Archie and I got once around the garden; step count 2480.


Here’s a picture of Joe and Becca and Ella:


No knitting.


And very little in the way of deploying yesterday’s garden centre purchases. Maybe I’ll start the micro greens off this evening. Barbara-Kay, (comment yesterday) my father grew snow peas in his wartime vegetable garden in Detroit. I had never heard of them, and remember them as sublimely delicious. When I started growing vegetables in Kirkmichael, it was the first thing I wanted to achieve. I had successful crops, but nothing ever tasted as wonderful as those wartime snow peas. My father even sent me some American seeds, to no avail.


In those days, I think, the stores didn’t sell them: or maybe that was because my mother didn’t buy them. Nowadays they’re abundantly available, but boring.


I’ve been re-reading Mitford, “Love in a Cold Climate” now that I’ve finished “Pursuit of Love”. And it is indeed cold.


I had a bad evening yesterday (after writing to you) when I couldn’t find Perdita. She couldn’t have escaped (she likes going for walks) – there’s only one way out, and Helen and the van man, loading her mosaic, couldn’t have failed to notice a stout middle-aged cat going down the steps and setting forth along Drummond Place. Even knowing that, I was anxious and unhappy for a couple of hours. But she’s here, with no explanation of her absence.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021


We had a grand time at the garden centre – but, despite much longer on my feet than usual, the step total for today is only 1767. I bought some lettuce and some kale and some mangetout peas, and also some microleaves (how often have I tried them? how often failed?).  Helen and I both think that she put all three plant trays on the doorstep when we got home, but we soon found that the lettuce was missing. Left behind in the car? or pinched from the doorstep? We don’t know yet. She bought a lot of much more garden-ly things like pebbles and grit.


Then the afternoon was devoted to dispatching her mosaic northwards.


C. and I were meant to be going to Peebles on Friday in pursuit of shoes. I’m having some foot trouble. But she has phoned to say that she has a cold – wee Hamish’s fault, I suspect; I live so far out of the world these days that such a thing has almost been forgotten. We’ve postponed Peebles and shoes until Tuesday. And perhaps just as well: Drummond Place is to be taken over on Friday by filming for something called “Crime” with Dougray Scott, a name I think I vaguely know. Would she have been able to drive to the door? Edinburgh is all too willing to close roads and inconvenience rate-payers, but under the new arrangements I can enjoy the excitement without anxiety. Goog’ling either “Dougray Scott” or “Crime” produces substantial results. This is clearly big stuff.




Thank you for your comment, Shandy. I got as far into the television "Pursuit of Love" as the arrival of Lord Merlin’s house party, and utterly agree with your judgment. I hope I will press on tonight (I hope that, every evening, and never achieve it) to the Kroesig lunch party. I’d like to see how they deal with Davey Warbeck, a pivotal character despite his hypochondria. Or because of it. His first appearance wasn’t promising.


Two days to go until the weekend: it’s time to get back to serious Italian literature.




We’re all hoping that the going to step up to the plate in Israel.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021


Ella Ogden is now safely with us, after a long labour and an emergency Caesarean. Joe and Becca’s daughter. I’ll send pics soon.

My friend Sylvia is overjoyed to have her cat back. She says he looks fine but seems somewhat subdued. She has ordered a cat-tracker for him.


Again, a better day here than forecast. 1865 steps – one of the days when the step-counter isn’t really trying. Archie and I got around the garden once.


Helen is going to take me to a GARDEN CENTRE tomorrow. I think we think we might as well do it properly, and go to Hopetoun House. It will be exciting. I don’t know what I want, except for some small flowerpots.


I’m a bit further forward with sock-knitting. Thank you for the reminder about negative ease, Tamar. I have recently bought myself some bamboo-and-cotton socks for my cruise: very smart-looking and comfortable. Does anyone really want hand-knit woolly socks any more?


I knit this morning while watching “Pursuit of Love”. I wasn’t tremendously impressed. I spent much of the rest of the day reading it. It’s not an easy book to translate to the screen. My main objection to the early scenes – which is all, in fact, I saw – was that they didn’t get the 14-year-old balance of innocence and curiosity and sophistication right: the girls were 21st century girls. But the book requires them to age a full 15 years or more, so it would be hard to get actresses who could do that, and also be 14. But we started off on the wrong foot: the scene was Christmas-time, and the light and the green countryside were wrong. Also we saw one of our heroines coming home from a day of hunting, riding astride. Mitford makes a point of how uncomfortable it was to trot home while riding side saddle. Walking was all right – but the horse would get too cold. Cantering was fine –but the horse would get too hot. It’s a small point; why bother; no one will notice. But it irritated me.


I am not always so carping. I loved the BBC “Pride and Prejudice” and have re-watched it a couple of times.


Now I really must re-engage with Italian.