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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All set for Strathardle. It’s odd being on my own in Games week, without daughters and daughters-in-law filling the kitchen with their energetic and cheerful presences. It doesn’t affect the actual toil – I do the picnic to be eaten from the back of the car on the day; they do Friday and Saturday evenings. On Sunday we’ll lunch at a local hotel to mark Rachel and Ed’s 30th wedding anniversary.

The plan is to spend this evening and tomorrow with my dear vegetables, and get cracking with the Big Shopping Trip on Thursday.

Are there any runner beans yet? Broad beans should certainly be ready, and there should be courgettes. Maybe even Swiss chard, which was showing some signs of forward movement when last seen. And what about the seedbed roll? The top layer is clear plastic so I was able to watch the little seeds hatching, but there was no sign of the little roots trying to get down through the blue layer into the soil below, still less of green leaves.

Wild garlic disappears completely after flowering, so I don’t expect to see anything of the things I planted until next spring. But how are the onions getting on? The sea kale? The artichokes? Plenty to look for.

We have planted four specimen trees down the commonty – you’ve heard this before – one for each family. Every year on Games day I take a picture of each tree with the relevant grandchildren (more or less, depending on circumstances), and keep them in my Tree Book. They gave us a Golden Scots Pine – pinus sylvestria aurea – for our Golden Wedding in Ought Seven, so I now also have someone take a picture of me with it.

One of the things I must do today or tomorrow is tidy up the deodar, the Loch Fyne Mileses’ tree, for its picture. It’s growing like mad, but still small enough to need its grass cut.

I completely forgot to take a picture of the Beijing Mileses with their tree (metasequoia glyptostroboides) when they were here in July. Here it is, a fortnight ago, with two of the Greek boys, Archie and Mungo. It has had a hard life, and suffered again last winter (or perhaps in the spring drought – it likes water) but is making progress at last.


Here is the Mourning Shawl, with “MCRM” dimly discernable. It’ll be clearer after blocking. You see what I mean about the size of the hole – at least laying it out for photography didn’t reveal the dread Moebius twist. I’ve done 26 rows of the 190-row centre.


It behaved impeccably yesterday. It’ll be interesting to see what it makes of Strathardle.

I love reading books this way. I thought maybe I’d tackle Ivy Compton Burnett; I’ve never made any headway with her. But she seems to have stood aloof from Kindle format, so I got several shorter Henry Jameses (free) instead. We’ve got many or all of them on our shelves, but again I prefer the iPad to carrying old books about. Odd, perhaps, when the machine has to be treated with at least the same respect.

My husband has some electronic work he wants to do, looking things up in the Dictionary of National Biography. Normally that is done by giving me instructions and reading the results, irritably, on my desktop computer. He has never mastered mice, and works on a DOS-based computer himself. But the iPad may be the answer. And in that little house, he can sit comfortably in his usual chair and cruise the world. (Here, wi-fi doesn’t extend far enough.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fourteen rows in (of 190) to the Mourning shawl centre, and about half-way through “MCRM”. So I may have some finished letters to show you tomorrow. The pattern, so far, is not as difficult as I anticipated: lots of double YO’s for which, on the return row, one has to knit into the back of the second stitch. Perfectly do-able.

We’ve decided to go to Strathardle tomorrow rather than today – I still have my hair to wash, and spare room beds to make up (Hellie and nice Matt will be here, as in previous years, for a bit of Festival before and after the Games) and, with luck, more paper work to tidy up. It has been much neglected lately.

An anxious day yesterday on the iPad front. It wouldn’t talk to the world. All attempts to go anywhere – Amazon, specifically – took me to an unwanted site called, I think, BTFON where the idea was to sell me something. Mail wouldn’t download. It wouldn’t sync with the desktop computer even when plugged in to a USB port.

James told me how to reboot, and I did that. For a few minutes all was well, and then it lost hold of the internet again. And I couldn’t find the Kindle app.

But all is well this morning, without a further rebooting. Kindle, I now know, is there to the right – just brush the other icons aside. I’ve got Gibbon, who looks rather daunting. I don’t know about footnotes yet. I have been thinking of Anita Desai and find that Amazon will let me download the first few pages of “The Zigzag Way” for free. That sort of makes up for not having a real bookshop within striking distance.

I think I’d better get “iPad for Dummies”, though. I need something on paper. And I think I’m now brave enough to set out to find “Goodreader” which several of you were enthusiastic about in those helpful comments last week.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Patience, thank you for the link to Alasdair Post-Quinn’s blog. I like that feather-and-fan double-knit hat. Is there anyone left on my Christmas list who hasn’t had a hat recently? And Gretchen, thank you for the delicious idea of reading Twist Collective in the bath. If only!

I started on the centre of the Mourning Shawl last night. Not much actual progress was made: it took a while to get the stitches re-distributed onto their separate holders. It should (seem to) go fast, now, as I zip back and forth on 124 stitches instead of plodding all the way around. I hope there will be enough centre to show you soon. The lettering begins in the next row.

The hole looks enormous.

So, here we are: Day One of Games Week. I am feeling kinda aware of mortality. My husband’s sister was with us last year, apparently in good health. She had been suffering from recurrent lung infections for the previous two years, but it all seemed under control then. It wasn’t until a month later, at the end of September, that she told us about her new symptom, persistent nausea, the outrider of the cancer that killed her in March.

My husband’s grandfather (hers, too, of course) had a beloved house in K*rkmichael called Cnoc Sualtach. In recent years it has been run as a bed-and-breakfast. I had often suggested to C. that she come up and stay there for Games weekend, instead of just coming for the day. Last year, I took the bull by the horns and booked the rooms and firmly invited her and her eldest daughter and her eponymous granddaughter. I think they all enjoyed it, although C. was saddened by the changes in the house she remembered from childhood.

Gripped by these gloomy thoughts, I remembered how my father, going blind with macular degeneration, sat himself down to read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Maybe it’s time I did that – my high-water mark, decades ago, was about half-way through.

I find I can get the whole thing for my iPad for 71p, cheaper than Ira Levin. Is Amazon somehow plugged in to Project Gutenberg? Our own copy is rather well bound and not very suitable for carrying about. How does the Kindle format handle footnotes? Much of the pleasure of Gibbon lies in those notes, which should appear at the bottom of the page. Perhaps I’ll be able to tell you tomorrow.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I am knitting the last round of the border of the Mourning Shawl– k2tog, YO, all the way around. Tonight I should start the centre. “MCRM” is charted, and the maths, I hope, done – on every 5th and 6th row, I need to take two stitches instead of one from the edges right and left. Very exciting. I hope I will have enough done before we go back to Strathardle to show you how it’s working. The whole scheme of things should be much more visible once the four borders are on four separate lengths of waste yarn.

The new IK has turned up and been rather neglected in all the recent excitement. It’s a good ‘un – no danger of my dropping that subscription, or of going digital. A knitting magazine needs to be in a format which can be read in the bath.

I’m going to get – again, not in digital form – Mr. Post-Quinn’s book on double knitting when it comes out, although, as with the recent brioche book, I probably won’t knit from it. I’m tempted by “Knitting Around the World” (on the books page) and by “My Grandmother’s Knitting”, although less so, for the latter.

There are some nice patterns. The Dahlia cardigan attracts – I’m keen on asymmetrical droop these days and in fact bought myself some yesterday at Marks and Spencer’s. Games Day is the third point in the year when one tries to spruce oneself up a bit, the others being Christmas and Easter.

And those Hex Mex stockings! Would they really stay up?

This is the card Helen and her boys gave me for my birthday:

(The answer is, when it’s lace, you count.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

I finished the border pattern of the Mourning Shawl, and have done the first of the four transitional rounds. I have also made a good start, in Stitch and Motif Maker, on charting “MCRM”. In fact, if I can figure out how to duplicate the “M”, I’ve nearly finished.

The picture shows a non-Fleegle corner, marked by a curtain ring, and is as usual far too pink.

Very exciting.


And I had another good day with my iPad. James has found me an app for banking on-line with the RBS, which I normally do from my desktop. I’ve secured the app, and when I feel strong enough will try to figure out how to introduce myself to the bank.

Mostly I just peacefully read Ruth Rendell, which is a very good way to come to love and trust the machine. I have discovered the Kindle “Home” button, thanks in part to your tip yesterday, Tricia. It appears briefly when I first start reading, but it can be persuaded back, as you say, by tapping the screen with two fingers. And there is Julian Barnes, waiting to be read next!

Thank you for another day of helpful tips. I’m not going to bother connecting iPad to camera, for the time being at least, since an extra gadget is involved. But I’m glad to know how.

Yesterday I happened to hear a Radio 4 programme with Ruth Rendell herself, talking about the very book I’m reading. Her voice sounds old. The programme went on to talk about Ira Levin. (My mother was slightly acquainted with him in the 50’s or some such decade, in her thriller-writer capacity. I’ve forgotten what the connection was.) I have read, and I think re-read, and hugely admire “A Kiss Before Dying” and “Rosemary’s Baby”. I have seen – alas, only on a small screen – “Stepford Wives”. What I didn’t know was that that, too, was an Ira Levin novel.

Off I went to the Amazon Kindle store – where I found it for 99 pence. Less than you’d pay from a table outside a second-hand bookseller. So I bought it.

This could get addictive. My excuse is that Waterstone’s has shut their local branch, where I used often to drop in and buy unnecessary books. There are still two branches in Edinburgh, but they’re not in dropping-in-range for me. Expenditure on unnecessary books has fallen dramatically – until this week.

Back to knitting

Thomas-the-Elder is not going to be at the Games next weekend, alas! Not only will we be deprived of his company, but I can’t measure him for his electric red sweater – Jared’s Brownstone. If he is not careful, he will lose his place at the head of the HALFPINT queue.

Fizz, thank you for the link to the Glasgow knit-thing. I didn’t know about it, and there are some interesting classes on offer. It might just be possible for me, if Alexander and Ketki could be lured away from Loch Fyne to their Glasgow base to look after my husband. There is usually art of some sort for him to see in Glasgow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Granddaughter Lizzie (second from right in the sidebar Grandchildren picture) is among the many tens of thousands expecting A Level results today – a place at Birmingham University is at stake, in her case. She is Rachel and Ed’s youngest child.

And I have reached round 101 in the Mourning Shawl border. This is really rather exciting. So I should finish the border patterning today, and start on the transitional rounds, and, ideally, give some thought to the centre: (a) calculating with some care the relationship between the number of centre rows to be knitted and the number of border stitches, right and left, to be incorporated; and (b) at the very least, charting the first set of initials – MCRM – and thinking ahead to where the numerals for the year will go. In the middle, for them, but I still need to see exactly how deep they are and therefore exactly how far before the actual middle I need to start them.

Looking for something else yesterday I found the chart for the insertion I did in the Princess shawl when I signed and dated it. That gives me a “2”; “0” is just the letter “o” from the Rorem alphabet. All I need to think about is “1”.

We’d better have a picture soon.

And the only other thing to talk about is the iPad, which is pretty boring for non-iPad-owners.

iPad section

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for all of yesterday’s comments, to which I will often return. I didn’t do much myself yesterday. I felt sort of mentally tired from the previous day’s excitement. I went on reading Ruth Rendell – it’s getting better – and straightened out the Piecework subscription.

I think it’s the ideal magazine, for me, for digital subscription. There’s not all that much knitting in it; I would really begrudge it space amongst the magazine piles in the bedroom. But there’s much of interest, and I will continue dipping in to it at least until the next issue drops down from heaven.

Two matters in which you can continue to help me:

This morning I (think I) bought Julian Barnes’ new novel (cheaper than Rendell – but, of course, shorter). Where is it? When I tap the Kindle icon, I am taken back to the page I was most recently reading in Rendell. How can I see what other titles are available?

Ted: you said yesterday, "I offloaded photos from the digital camera to the iPad”. How did you do that, when the iPad seems to have no ports? But maybe I see – there is one cord, with iPad at one end and USB at the other which could be attached to a camera?

James says in an email this morning, interestingly,“you can't do much to tweak machines to do exactly what you want as opposed to what Apple thinks you want.”

Non iPad, non-knit

Lizzie just rang up. She got in.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The iPad Story

But first…

Helen phoned last night from her friend’s house in France after an easier-than-expected journey, preceded by some good sleep on the ferry. They’ll stay there a few days before setting out for Venice and the ferry to Greece.

I’ve embarked on round 98 of the Mourning Shawl border. It should be finished and the centre started – including the first set of lace initials – before we go back to Strathardle. Progress, indeed.

Now, the iPad.

I’m going to love it, I can see that, but yesterday was tough. It comes with the most exiguous documentation you ever saw in your life – I’ve had toasters with fuller instructions. They obviously think you have an iPod or an iPhone and can jump right in. I don’t, and can’t.

I began by choosing “Mail” from the opening screen. I know about mail. The password set up by James to go with my BT Hub is one of those complicated ones with digits and letters and I must have done it wrong. I wasn’t offered a second chance. There I was with various mail options, all leading nowhere, and no way that I could see to get back to the beginning and start again.

I left it, nearly in tears, and went to cook lunch. That, at least, I can do. After a calming 20 minutes of making a Madhur Jaffrey sauce for curried eggs (she and I share not only a birthday but a birth-year) I calmed down and realised that somewhere there must be a button, real or virtual, which would take me back to base.

I tried again, and found it – it’s a real one, black on black, slightly recessed. The second time through I got the password right, and the iPad was henceforth on-line. A big step forward.

The next thing, since I wanted to try reading a book on it, was to download the free iBooks app and I thought the Kindle one, as well, would be a good idea. That means dealing with iTunes. Although the apps are free, I had to establish an Apple ID. OK.

To do that, I had to give them a credit card number (although all I wanted were free apps). OK.

Then Apple said that my credit card was not valid in the UK. That’s not true, but how to explain to a computer?

I tried approaching the problem from various directions, to no avail. Eventually I persuaded my husband – who remains rather dubious – to let me use his. That went through. Apple was totally unconcerned by my sudden change of name and sex. I got the apps.

The next problem was Amazon, who didn’t want to sell me the book because I didn’t have a Kindle. I’ve forgotten how I persuaded them that it was OK, but I did, and the transfer of the book to the iPad was absolutely astonishing in speed, especially at the end of such a day. I’m afraid it’s not tremendously good, but Ruth Rendell is Ruth Rendell and I will certainly carry on reading.

This morning I successfully subscribed to Piecework, using the iPad alone. But I need to download another free app in order to read it, and to do that I find myself taken back to wretched Apple who want me to re-enter my husband’s credit card’s security number. That’ll have to wait a couple of hours until he wakes up. I’ll remember it henceforth – and try to stay away from the Apple apps store if I can.

I think I may have to buy "iPad for Dummies" (on paper). How to clean the screen, to begin with. It's already looking smeary from all this touching.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Here we are again. Helen and her boys left yesterday morning, to drive to Newcastle to catch the ferry to Amsterdam. Today they plan to drive a long way south, to an old friend in France where they will stay a day or two. Everything is very quiet here.


I got back to grips with life after they left, and am now nearly finished with row 94 of the Mourning Shawl border – there are 102 rows in all, plus another four in which break holes are introduced and the stitch count further reduced. So I’m making real progress.

The Rorem lace-alphabet sampler scarf pattern has arrived from the Schoolhouse. No numerals, but it does include an upside-down alphabet which will speed things along a good deal. “2011” shouldn't be difficult to confect. I must have several 2’s here and there in my notes.

Meanwhile in Strathardle I started the Japanese shirt – three times.

The first time, I decided after an inch or so that I really wasn't enjoying myself because of the long purl rows. And that was just the back. Pretty soon, once the vents were finished, the rows would be vastly longer, with the fronts attached. So I started again, in garter stitch.

I worried a lot about what the designer would think – not the Japanese one, but kind Stella who wrote the pattern for me in English. I finally found the courage to write to her, and she blessed the idea at once with what sounded like enthusiasm. So that was a great relief.

I think I probably have enough yarn – I always buy generously, because I hate worrying. I’ll reconsider that aspect of things when I finish the first skein. The spacing of the buttonholes will have to be adjusted – the pattern does it with a specified number of rows between. And the sleeveholes rejigged. I ought to be able to manage that.

The second attempt, however, seemed too wide. As it happened, I had the recently-completed Round-the-Bend along, whose size I like. The Japanese shirt was coming out substantially wider (Japanese designer’s choice). So I started again, and narrowed it somewhat. Here’s where I am – that’s the back, a few rows short of the point at which I stop and cast on one of the fronts.

The madeleinetosh yarn is simply wonderful. She suddenly seems to be everywhere.


I was going to write about Oedipus but there isn’t time this morning.

Today’s excitement is – should be – the arrival of an iPad 2, James’ and Cathy’s wonderful birthday present to me. Parcelforce have got it, for now. I am beside myself. If I can make it go, I will start by buying a book (the new Ruth Rendell, I think) and seriously consider subscribing to Piecework. No more clutter! Thomas-the-Elder has one, on which he reads the New Yorker and the Economist.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A quickie.

I’m not going to make it across town this morning to Tea Tree Tea and Myrna Stahman, alas. Too much happening. I want to be able to set out towards Oedipus with Mungo at midday in reasonable fettle. I was once on a tour bus from Athens to Delphi (or back) sitting next to a distinguished professor of classics who pointed out to me the crossroads where Oedipus met his father. I think I can see where it must have been, on a Google map.

Knitting progresses. I will report both on the shawl and the beginnings of the Japanese shirt when life calms down again. Tuesday?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back again, for ten days or so -- until we go up for the Games. Mungo came down with me and my husband yesterday, anxious to take in some Festival art. Helen and the other two boys stayed behind to clean up (bless them) –- they’ll join us this evening. Mungo and I are going to a production of Oedipus tomorrow, “based on Sophocles”. Pretty high-brow. Tomorrow is also the day when I hope to meet Myrna Stahman. Here is a picture of my husband giving Mungo instructions to perform some thankless task.

We had a good time. The great thing about boys is that my husband can tell them, as he did, in terms as savage as he pleased, to get their elbows off the table and sit up straight (their table manners in fact are excellent, barring occasional small lapses), and the boys would not only do as they were told but also regard the incident as closed and carry on with the conversation. Girls are much more inclined to sulk or weep.

We had some good weather, and some spectacularly bad – remorseless all-day rain. It’s unusual to have more than one of those in a week, in August, but we did.

As for my dear vegetables, well, you win some, you lose some. We had some nice peas. The broad beans are nearly ready. The first tiny courgettes are here. The potato crop, although delicious, was exiguous. I’m busy thinking about next year. That's what gardening is all about.

You will remember my hopes of establishing a perennial source of salad onions. Last year’s sowing of “bunching onions” – also known as Welsh – grew well. I even harvested two or three for a salad. At the solstice, as if they had heard the foreman’s whistle, they stopped and turned yellow and flopped over and flowered. Flowering is allowed – they seed themselves hither and yon for the Fishwife, and I hope will do the same for me. New growth is now appearing from below.

This year’s sowing of red-bulbed bunching onions, said to be even hardier and stronger-tasting, has produced fewer specimens, but still I’ve got some, and there’s still time for them to get big enough to stand up to winter cold and being eaten by deer.

Some may remember that I bought some “walking onions” last year. Not a success. Only one survives, about seven inches high and showing no signs of walking anywhere. I ordered some more recently, from an eBay supplier in Finland. They sat about for a fortnight or so, astonished, no doubt, to find themselves in Scotland, and then started growing with vigour. High hopes.

Here are the artichokes, showing some signs of progress, and behind them the three new sea kale plants, which have settled in happily enough.

Here is a more general picture of this most successful corner of the garden. The mange-tout peas, right, are going over despite assiduous picking and abundant rain. I expected more from them. I am full of hopes for the Brussels sprouts, centre. I bought them as tiny plants from the Blairgowrie Farmer’s market in – probably – late May, and they have flourished, undisturbed, for whatever reason, by cabbage white caterpillars. And soon they will have a vegetable cage to protect them from the deer, and we may actually have sprouts to eat!

More of this, and some actual knitting, tomorrow.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Not much knitting yesterday. I took time deliciously off and re-read Molly Keane’s “Time After Time” all the way through. I did finish round 84, a slightly difficult round, and am half-way through 85. Ted, it’s “Granny Cheyne’s Shetland Shawl” from Margaret Stove’s new(ish) book, “Wrapped in Lace”. "2011" and some initials will be added in the middle, otherwise the pattern exactly as written.

Sea Kale

The passage I was looking for in T after T is brief and simple:

The gardener agrees that they can eat sea kale, although the young shoots are really not quite big enough. “'I only hope Jasper won’t spare the melted butter.’”

Jasper’s face lit. He had thought immediately of the proper sauce.”

Such references as I can find in my books agree on simplicity and melted butter. Mrs Beeton does say that it can be “stewed in good brown gravy” – but things were different in those days. Dorothy Hartley in “Food in England” has a useful paragraph on growing it. Whatever the problems ahead – total disappearance of the three plants being the most likely – I don’t think sea kale is going to taste terrible if we get any to eat.

You force it in the spring rather like rhubarb. Hartley says to cover with dry beech leaves. We’ve got beech trees; I’ll do that, although “dry” is likely to be difficult.

I’ve got both Jamie’s and Nigel’s grow-and-cook books here. Zilch. Delia’s one is in Strathardle; I’ll be very surprised if I find sea kale there. Alexander has a book called, I think, “Unusual Vegetables” by Mark Diacono who works for/with Hugh F-W. No sea kale. I wonder if all these people are not perhaps too rich and busy actually to engage all that closely with vegetable-growing.

The BBC did a brilliant adaptation of “Time after Time”, years ago. Gielgud himself was Jasper.

Fishwife, thank you for your comment (Saturday). I’m not really doing all that badly – it’s just that failure seems more interesting to write about. We’ve had the first potatoes, and they were wonderful. There’s a sowing of real peas (as opposed to mange-tout) which will be ready within 10 days, maybe sooner. The pods are big and luscious-looking; they just need to fill out a bit. Broad beans aren’t all that far behind.

I’m keeping a little list this year of everything of my growing which we actually eat. Not trying to cost it, and not including parsley, thyme, chives and coriander, although it’s very nice to have them to hand. Starting in February with a delicious artichoke soup from the tubers you gave me – which are doing splendidly this year.

The wild garlic thingy’s are here. I’ll have plenty of planting to do. We’re going to Strathardle today and may stay all the way through to the 12th. Myrna Stahman is going to be here on the 13th, stopping off from a cruise to drop in at Tea Tree Tea which I have never heard of. I’m going to try to go. Anyone else?