Friday, May 02, 2014

I had a grand time, lunching with J. yesterday.

She comes to Edinburgh from time to time to do research in the Public Records Office and elsewhere. We have lunched before in pubs but they are noisy, so this time went to a Japanese restaurant called Bonsai at the top of Broughton Street. The food and its presentation were very Japanese, the staff young and cheerful Edinburgh. J. managed her octopus dumlings very neatly, with chopsticks. I was a good deal messier, resorting to fingers for my sushi. The bill was very reasonable. Recommended.

She was wearing an interesting little scarf – three inches or so of ribbing at the ends, in a solid colour, and in between a tube knit on 60 stitches (like a sock) in an Opal self-patterning yarn (not just self-striping). The effect was remarkably convincing, stripes of little two-colour “Fair Isle” designs. The scarf consumed two balls of yarn, she said, and then got finished off with the second ribbed cuff. There were no purl ribs down the sides to encourage it to lie flat, but flat it lay.


I finished my clumsy repairs to my sister's Amedro shawl, including mending two holes, and sent it off to London with a ball of the yarn in case she wants to take it to someone more adroit. And returned to the Unst Bridal Shawl very happily and with a relatively clear conscience. The current row of motifs have passed their apogee. I have now embarked on round 71. The next major landmark is round 80, the last one on the current “long chart”, a Miller speciality. And the next long chart is the last.

Mangoes, etc.

I was interested in your remarks (comments yesterday) about the sources of fresh food on the West Coast. I am sure that, even if the importation of Indian and Pakistani mangoes is limited to a few boxes for the benefit of fancy NYC restaurants, the Food and Drug Administration keeps a close eye on fruit flies.

We get asparagus all year round from Peru, supplemented during these few happy weeks by the local crop. French beans from Kenya. Lots of veggies from Spain and the Netherlands and Israel. Grapefruit from Florida is one of the consolations of winter – that season is just coming to an end. For the rest of the year we will depend on South Africa and Israel. I wonder where food came from (and how it arrived) during the 30's. I know that Britain wasn't anywhere near self-sufficient and that feeding the population was a major preoccupation throughout the war.


  1. They had refridgerated ships from the 1880s so a lot came that way, like mutton and butter from NZ. Britain's links with her colonies were quite important in importing food I think. But it led to a domestic agricultural slump which was why food production was such an issue when the war came. (I have a history degree, don't mind me!)

  2. Anonymous4:45 PM

    Perhaps earlier generations of Britons ate much more canned and preserved fruits and vegies than fresh, or simply ate much less produce than their descendants do now?

    I know that every time I shop for groceries or choose a meal I'm grateful to be living so close to the source of so much of my menu. Often I can get asparagus or strawberries (to name just two favorites) on the day they were picked.
    -- stashdragon

  3. When my husband was growing up in Sweden in the 60s, they got oranges only at X-mas and no bananas, or so he says.

  4. We are now seeing strawberries and lemons from the USA in our supermarkets. Ridiculous when we are quite capable of producing our own here in Australia.

    I only buy Aussie lemons and would rather do without if only US are available.

  5. You could have wandered down to the bottom of Broughton Street and visited 'Kathy's Knits', it's a lovely wee shop. It's Yarn Shop Day today (to encourage more local shopping) so most places are giving a nice discount and providing tea and coffee and cake when you visit. I'm off to McAree Bros for a bit of the same.