Monday, April 30, 2018

This is going to be mostly about the microbiome again. Perhaps I feel slightly better; perhaps not.

The main components of my kimchi-making kit arrived today: the fermentation jars, and the Korean chilli powder. Presumably the one that wasn’t delivered on Saturday was, therefore, the daikon. Tomorrow I hope to go to Waitrose and stock up with the other stuff – Chinese cabbage and spring onions and a few carrots, lots of garlic, some ginger. Fish sauce and disposable gloves.

James and Cathy will be here Friday evening for the Big Bank Holiday Get-Together in anticipation of Rachel’s 60th birthday. My kimchi won't be ready that soon, but I gather it’s all right – indeed encouraged --to interrupt fermentation for a taste, so I can at least submit my efforts to their expert palates.

Thanks for the comment, Peggy. Now that I have precipitated myself down this path, I’ll press on.

A dear friend brought me some kefir from Sainsbury’s, a fraction the cost of my goat’s milk stuff. It tastes good, but perhaps not quite as good. I’ll look in Waitrose tomorrow.


I’ve embarked on corrugated rib. That’s progress.

You’ll remember that Gudrun, for the Kirigami, uses a cast on which alternates 2 long-tails with 2 Crossed Germans. So when, for that sweater, I decided to knit a couple of rows back-and-forth before joining, I had to start with p2 to fit in with her plan (since the cast-on ended with 2 crossed Germans). The result has been a very neat start.

This time, however, I didn’t mean to do any back-and-forth, and compounded the mistake by starting with k2. To what extent, if at all, neatness is affected, I can’t say. I joined the ends after the first long row – I think, successfully, although the one time I did commit the fatal twist, I didn’t discover it for a while.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

There is little to report. I am still feeling weak and slightly nauseous, although no longer being treated by a doctor for anything. My goat’s milk kefir is here, and I love it. The first bottle I opened was not explosive, but I will continue to approach them all with caution. The idea is to drink a glass of it first thing in the morning so that it will descend forthwith to the gut and get to work on the microbiome. It’s all right to go on drinking it through the day, but it’s expensive, so I won’t.

Catmum, I’m not a tea-drinker so I don’t think kombucha is going to be my thing. I will get some at the supermarket this week, if they have it, but won’t embark on making it.

Janet and Mary Lou, one of the great things about cookery on YouTube is that you soon discover that different people have different ways of doing things. Once I’ve got my things together, I think I’ll start with Jamie Oliver’s kimchi recipe, because I’m fond of him. I’ve scarcely moved from my easy chair these last few days, but I did nip down to Tesco’s yesterday and the Post Office seized the opportunity to leave one of those “We tried to deliver…” cards. Kimchi equipment already?

I have done some knitting. I have done the simple arithmetic, and cast on the 2nd attempt at a Calcutta Cup vest. I did it Gudrun’s way, alternating 2 long-tails with 2 twisted Germans. I intended to join it at once – I have festooned it with safety pins, in the hopes of preventing the fatal twist. That’s a tip I read somewhere recently. But I discovered when I was 20 stitches into the round that I had done it the familiar way through force of habit – turning back on myself, leaving the ends unconnected. I didn’t frog it.

Non-knit, and completely irrelevant

I found myself thinking, the other evening, as one does, of a girl who was in my year at Asbury Park High School. Her name was Thalia Heliotis. She was beautiful, and much admired, and we didn’t move in the same circles. I remember very few other names from those years, but that one stuck. I remember hearing somehow that she had had a spectacular Greek Orthodox wedding not long after graduating from high school.

I googled her, expecting nothing, but there she is. Her husband died a few years ago, and her maiden name is mentioned in his obituary. They had 63 years, which is pretty good going.

The odd thing, though, is that Google also found a picture of her in the Asbury Park Press in the spring of 1949, our junior year. A picture with me, along with three other people whose names mean nothing to me now. Some sort of cake sale? Thalia and I seem to be buying or selling something. I cannot now imagine any extracurricular activity which would have brought us together. You have to subscribe to read the caption of the picture in full, and I doubt if it would help.

“Thalia” is one of the nine muses. I didn’t know that at the time. It’s a beautiful name.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Not much about knitting today, because very little knitting has been done. Most of what I have to say concerns gut health.

Helen and I went to Homebase yesterday to get bedding plants for my doorstep. It was a bit too early in the season, but we got a few. Then we went to Waitrose for this and that, and by the time I got home I was prostrate. I was more cautious today – intervals of mild activity sandwiched among intervals in bed. All right as far as it went, but I didn’t get out – and this is not a time of year for staying in.

In the interests of gut health, I ordered some kefir yesterday (=fermented goat’s milk). It arrived today, with commendable promptness, but with a warning that it is likely to explode like champagne when opened. One is advised to leave it in the refrigerator overnight to calm down.

I also decided to take the bull by the horns and make some kimchi, after weeks of hesitation. So I ordered the necessary equipment and the not-readily-available ingredients, and watched some more Youtube. All the videos made by Koreans include a sort of porridge made with rice flour and water, which you stir into the spice mixture before adding it to the vegetables. None of the westerners include this step. I don’t have any rice flour but could easily get some. Peggy?

As soon as I had ordered all that stuff, I heard from Cathy who said that they ate a lot of Korean food when they lived in Beijing, and that James is a great kimchi fan. (She is less enthusiastic but likes kimchi pancakes.) Now in London, they order it from Mr Kimchi via Amazon. It is freshly made, and like my kefir, explosive.

Everybody will be here next weekend (Bank Holiday weekend) for an early celebration of Rachel’s 60th birthday. My tools and ingredients are not likely to be here in time for me to make a batch and let it age and let James try it.


I finished the Norigami ribbing, very mindful of your remark, Mary, that it would go from “just under” to “too long” in the twinkling of an eye. Now I have a row-count which I can employ when I’m doing the ribbing for the sleeves. I’ve started the body.

The temptation is to go on, but I think this is the moment when I must re-start the Calcutta Cup vest.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Today is Perdita’s third birthday.

Thank you for all your kind messages. Don’t worry about protein: meals of asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes are an annual aberration. The Mindful Chef is very keen on protein – chickpeas in abundance if it’s not meat or fish.

I think I’m better – back, at least, to the somewhat feeble state I was in at the beginning of Lent. Tomorrow, I hope I will make a serious start on walking around Drummond Place Gardens. I was encouraged by your comment, Lisa, about how long it took you to recover from a course of antibiotics.

Alexander came over this morning, as often on Wednesday. I asked him about fermenting vegetables (see yesterday) – he is a keen cook, who has explored many avenues. He has never been down that one (although he has made sourdough bread), but he makes pickles and says that the difficulty is, everybody claims they like them but nobody actually eats them.

I showed him the West Highland Way book and offered to lend it, but he said he will buy one for himself.

As for knitting, I am at that maddening stage towards the end of the waist ribbing of the Kirigami when it comes in at just under the desired length (2”) whenever I measure it, and no matter how many circuits I then add, it still measures just under 2”.

Once I have finally embarked on the body, I will have to pause and re-start the Calcutta Cup vest. I’ve got the needle, I have decided on how far to reduce the stitch count. There’s nothing left but to start knitting.


And, speaking of the Calcutta Cup…

Rachel’s son Joe, who ran the London Marathon in 3.55 on Sunday, works for English Rugby at Twickenham. Eddie Jones (Knitlass will know) told him on Monday, “That was not a bad time, mate.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

I didn’t feel very bright this morning. However I think I’m somewhat better now, after a whole day without an antibiotic pill, and..

A dear friend came to see me and I asked her about fermenting vegetables, a subject I have been rather interested in lately since you tipped me off about gut health. The friend is uninstructed, but she said that her sister, not far away, makes kimchi all the time. If I’m up to it, we’ll go see the sister soon, no farther than Duddingston.

And that same friend then went to Sainsburys and got me some more British asparagus – I rather over-steamed what I had yesterday – and Jersey Royals. So I’m all set for this evening, and Mindful Chef will have to wait.

Nor has it been an uninteresting day on the knitting front. The new Fruity Knitting is up, and is a humdinger. (I suspect I say that every second Tuesday.) Today the big interview is with Emma Boyles of The Little Grey Sheep. It is interesting on the score of sheep-breeding, and wool-spinning, and wool-dyeing, and depends, as always, on Andrea’s well-researched questions.  I rushed off, as soon as the podcast was over, to the Little Grey Sheep website --  but they’re away at a continental yarn festival.

But that’s not all. “Fair Isle Designs from Shetland Knitters” arrived from Lerwick, and it’s enchanting. That wonderful bonnet on the cover is done by knitting one way and then cutting the yarn, and knitting that way again. Not my favourite technique, but it could be endured for something so small.

One of the very best things about an excellent book is the little biographical snippets about the designers: “Linda has been knitting Frilly Pixies – [that’s the bonnet]  -- from memory for many years. She often gets asked for the pattern, so finally she managed to write down a couple of versions…”

Hazel Tindall contributes a very interesting yoke sweater. She says: “I wouldn’t dream of consciously looking at a landscape or a photo to find colours to put together. When I am asked to write something about inspiration, I make it up after the piece has been knitted.”

I must remember that when I finish the Calcutta Cup vest. The colour scheme is based on Hopper’s picture of a gas station, and seems very successful. I took a very interesting class with Hazel at EYF ’17, and I remember saying to Greek Helen afterwards – a detail I would otherwise have forgotten – “Hazel Tindall knew who I was”. Perhaps I’ll send her pics when I finish – first knit your vest, Jean.

Monday, April 23, 2018

If any of us are ever tempted to doubt the management of the universe by a beneficent providence, we have but to contemplate the fact that English asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes come into season at precisely the same moment.

I didn’t feel terribly well today, sort of nauseous, although no actual vomiting. Well enough to totter to the supermarket this morning, and to lunch as indicated in the paragraph above. And I have now finished with those dreadful antibiotic capsules, and confidently expect to feel better tomorrow.

KD’s “Highland Way” book has arrived, and is as wonderful as expected. I am still keen to knit the Stronachlachar vest – Buachaille; simple; three twisted-stitch panels up front and back. I am going to have to light some sort of fire under myself.

I think the answer is going to be to get back into the habit of an hour or so of television in the evening. Lately, I have been crawling into bed at 8, post-blog. I have a royal-wedding programme to look forward to tonight, recorded previously; and one about Camilla (the duchess, not the great-granddaughter) for tomorrow. My husband wasn’t all that keen on royal-family programmes, just as he was not about cookery.

As for today’s knitting, I have made a bit of progress with the ribbing for the Kirigami. The bottom edge is very neat. I am glad that its excessive size has forced me to start again with the Calcutta Cup vest. When I get back to that, shall I use German Crossed for the entire cast-on, or alternate with long-tail two-by-two again?

And I must, of course, work out a system for advancing simultaneously with CC vest and Kirigami. Not to mention the socks which Rachel says she wants for her now-immanent 60th birthday. A fire is needed, indeed.


Joe must have survived the marathon yesterday. He covered the course in 3 hours and 55 minutes, which sounds good to me, but is not quite as good as his father’s time 20 years ago, or whenever. Here he is with his parents, presumably not long after the finish:

And here, before the off:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

I think I must be getting better – if only because I got some knitting done. There were days and days in there when I did none, but today, as hoped, I finished the cast-on and started the ribbing of the Kirigami sweater.

I always prefer, with circular knitting, to do a couple of rows back and forth first, to make it easier to join up without the fatal twist. This time, it occurred to me that that wouldn’t quite do – Gudrun must intend the knits to go into the stitches cast-on by the long-tail method, and the purls into the Crossed Germans. And the cast-on ended with two Crossed Germans.

I considered joining the circle straight away, but was uneasy. So I knit back and forth as usual, starting with two purls. But was that right? I have essentially turned the work inside out, from Gudrun’s point of view. It has now been joined up, and looks neat, at any rate.

Ella Gordon has a new podcast. She is enchanting, but her breathless, amateur approach makes one appreciate the hard work Andrew and Andrea put in.

I learned from Ella that the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers (whose lace book I have) have published a book of Fair Isle designs. With a bonnet on the cover which might be just the thing for a great-granddaughter. I ordered it at once. I am tempted, too, by Chihiro Sato’s “Enjoy Fair Isle Knitting”, if only because she is Japanese. It was published last year but came in under my radar.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

I started off well this morning, but subsided mid-afternoon. I’ll be glad when the current antibiotic is finished (two more days) and I can sink down into a quiet malaise. I take your point, Cat, -- and it’s a good one -- about not trying to do too much on the days when I feel stronger. On the other hand, and especially at my age, there’s the opposite danger of doing too little and having one’s muscles atrophy.

When I went to the Western General last week for my chest xray I saw a poster that I had never seen before -- and I am very familiar with the Western General -- urging people to get up and get dressed and totter about even when in hospital, for the sake of their muscles.

Apart from such considerations, I think I have got the hang of the German Crossed Cast-On. The passage in Meg’s Fair Isle vest video is helpful, adding a little twist of the left thumb at the end of the process. And it is always a pleasure to listen to her wonderful voice.

Part of the trouble has been that I don’t use the grown-up, cat’s-cradle system for the long-tail cast on. I’ve mentioned this before. I just do it the kindergarten way, knitting into a loop around my left thumb. So I’m not used to tensioning the cat’s cradle, which is an essential part of the process for German Crossed.

I have started casting on the Kirigami – alternating two long-tails with two German Crosseds. I achieved 50 stitches and could see that I didn’t have nearly enough long-tail to finish, so I started again. German Crossed uses more yarn. Tomorrow’s goal is to finish the cast-on and knit the first round.


Grandson Joe (the one who recently got engaged) is running in the London Marathon tomorrow. It’s a family thing. His father Ed did it once, and finished with a thoroughly respectable time. His sister Hellie (Orla’s mother, whom you’ve seen here recently) ran one in Paris.

London has been hot for the last three days. The forecast for tomorrow is considerably cooler. Good news for Joe.

Friday, April 20, 2018

My health took a dip for the worse today.

I did get as far, however, as an initial practice session on the Twisted German Cast-On. It’s going to need more work before I could think of using it in real life. Lucy Neatby’s video is indeed helpful, and so is one by a girl endearingly called iknitwithcathair.

Meadow Yarns says that my needles are on the way – so it will soon behove me to cast on something, somehow.

I’ll re-watch Meg’s demonstration on her Fair Isle Vest video before I head for bed.

KD says that the West Highland Way book is ready. I greatly look forward to that. Alexander would like to walk the whole thing with his sons, but they are currently sunk in adolescent apathy. Any one of them might be interested in the book.


My kitchen shelves went up yesterday. Helen was horrified when she saw them this morning by the utilitarian look of those supports, so they are to be exchanged for plain brackets. Perdita didn’t express an opinion.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The dr phoned today to say. essentially, that I’m fine. Bloods good; chest x-ray clear. So I must pull myself together. I guess I feel somewhat better than at the worst. I think the new antibiotic is of some use.

And today I addressed myself to some of that to-do list. I printed the Kirigami pattern. I established that I have an appropriate needle to start off with. I wound a skein of the new yarn – Paradox helped with that, so it took a long time, but it’s done.

Gudrun, interestingly, wants me to start off with a cast-on consisting of 2 long-tails alternating with 2 German Twisted. That could be interesting. Meg recommends German Twisted (of which I have no experience whatsoever) in her Fair Isle Vest video. Since I am now planning to start Alexander’s Calcutta Vest with two or three rounds of k2, p2 (omitting the rounds of st st which I used the first time), perhaps the alternation could be employed there as well.

First I must master the German Twisted cast-on.

I also decided that I want to start Alexander’s vest on a 3.5 mm needle of which I do not have an appropriate exemplar,  so I ordered one from Meadow Yarns. Their website seems different from the last time I was there – smarter, in some senses; a diminished choice of needles.


All is more or less well here. Shelves were put up in my kitchen today, so it’s finished, and I must get seriously to work tomorrow about establishing a place for everything and….

Archie came over this afternoon to put my recycling out, a fortnightly job; it was good to see him.

Here is a picture of a cat (and a bottle top) in front of the new Aga.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I feel a bit better this evening – the new antibiotic, kicking in after all? Or the sheer exhilaration of having the house to myself, all tradesmen gone?

The kitchen painters finished today, and it’s looking very well. What remains, a vital step, is the replacing of shelves. Most missed is the shelf above the Aga on which are ranged the six or seven pans I use most often, each in its particular place. I think that is supposed to happen later this week.

Again, I have done nothing. I dozed in my chair all  morning.

Yesterday, during that long wait to see a dr, I got back to work on Archie’s sock. I have nearly reached the heel the second time. (That’s not the heel of the second sock, you will remember – I decided that the first sock was too small, and I have started again.)

As I doze in my chair, I tell myself of the next few steps. Maybe tomorrow I will execute at least some of them.

Beverly, yes, my sister brought me seven skeins of MadTosh DK in a discontinued colourway called Penny Loafer. It’s as good in real life as on a computer screen.  So what I need to do is:
a)  Wind a skein
b)   Print the pattern – Gudrun Johnston’s “Kirigami”. I’ve bought it; that’s a start.
c)   Discover, from the pattern, the recommended needle size and examine my needle stash. I’ve got a lot of needles – but do I have quite the right one for the job, comfort-wise and knitting-bliss-wise?

And the Calcutta Cup vest needs to be re-cast-on. For that I must:
a)     Decide what gauge of needle I am going to use for the corrugated ribbing and, again, examine the needle stash. The body is knit at 4mm (which seems rather large – but it’s too late to worry about that). How far down am I going to go? Last time it was only down to 3.75 and I think it might be a good idea to go a bit further.
b)    Decide how many stitches I want for the ribbing. Last time I went down 5% and, again, I think it might be a good idea to go a bit further.


          Here is a picture of Hellie and Matt’s daughter Orla. They were married in Argyll, some may remember. The church has recently appeared on television in “Ordeal by Innocence” – octagonal, white.

Monday, April 16, 2018

I got to a dr, you’ll be glad to hear. It was a long sit – I wonder if Monday is not perhaps the best day for the Open Access clinic. Not “our” doctor, but at least a young woman with whom I was acquainted from her house calls to my husband. She has prescribed another antibiotic, rather doubtfully; sent me to the Western General for a chest x-ray (that’s been done); and taken “bloods”. She promised to phone later in the week with results.

That’s about it, for now. The kitchen is still not finished, but nearly. It’s looking good. I didn’t get a nap today, nor much lunch, and feel fairly rotten – bed time, I think.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


She was born in the early hours of Friday the 13th. “On her due date,” I have been told. She is to be named Camilla.

I’m not feeling much, if any, better. I am being urged by family to go back to see a dr sooner rather than later. I am scheduled to go in later next week for “bloods” and then to see a dr in the week following. I could go in and see someone on Monday, but what’s the use? Antibiotics clearly aren’t working. I don’t want to go to hospital. What else does modern medicine have to offer?

I have scarcely knit a stitch in the last fortnight.

Andrew and Andrea have posted another excellent effort – an interview with the remarkable women, Mica and Jo, who organise the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and another with Kate Atherley who can tell you how to knit socks that fit.

And there’s a new VK.

My sister has been and gone. Indeed, must be suspended somewhere above the North Atlantic at the moment. It was an odd visit, consisting mostly of her cooking Mindful Chef offerings for our suppers, but she says she had a nice time.

Monday, April 09, 2018

I am sorry to have left you in suspense for so long.

I went to the dr on Thursday. He says I have a chest infection and has prescribed a course of antibiotics. The chest immediately, as if in response, got worse. I spent the rest of Thursday wrapped in a blanket in my wing chair, and the subsequent days in bed. I am up and dressed today because Men are here to lay the kitchen floor. I am halfway through the course of antibiotics, and clearly the Miracle Drug is not acting as such in this case.

Meanwhile, of course, life moves on:

     a) Grandson Joe phoned on Saturday to tell me that he is engaged. His long-term candidate Becca is a thoroughly good choice, and he sounded rather pleased with himself.

     b) The next great-granddaughter is due any moment now.   (Daughter of Joe's brother Thomas and his wife Lucy). The shawl is ready, as you know.

     c) My sister is here in GB, and on her way northwards at this very moment.

     I'll try to keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Little or nothing to report. No knitting. I don’t feel very sprightly (so much for total alcoholic abstinence during Lent) – I plan to go see our dr tomorrow. That’s likely to involve a long wait which should advance Archie’s socks a bit.

The weather has been ghastly. Snowing, or at least sleeting, for much of the day.

I have everything straightened out about my cruise – that’s a comfort. I booked it just after my husband died. He was a bad sailor, and had a particular abhorrence for a situation in which he would be forced into a group of strangers to whom he was expected to be pleasant.

I got a receipt from WorldPay for the down payment, but no welcoming message from the Majestic Line. I wrote to them; they said, maybe it’s in your junk pile. All too likely. But I never did anything more about it, and have been quietly worrying ever since. So it’s nice to have everything clear. I am tempted to gamble on a long life and book another for next summer, while I can still get a single.

Kate Davies has written an interesting blog post about finishing work on the West Highland Way project. She says she has “crashed really very badly this time”. I am sort of surprised that there seems to be no concern in her Ravelry group. Alexander and his family live, more or less, on the other side of Loch Lomond: he has been trying to persuade his sons to do the whole Walk with him. I'll show them the book when  get it.

The final pattern, for a shawl, is interestingly constructed. I might come back to that one.

Andrea herself has started a thread in the Fruity Knitting Ravelry group about the therapeutic benefits of knitting. I will watch it with interest. And perhaps contribute my pennyworth, slightly off-topic: what a blessing it must have been, during the 20th century wars, for old women like me to be able to do something genuinely useful.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

All well here, I guess. I greatly enjoyed, and am grateful for, your welcoming-back messages yesterday.

The new kitchen is now functional – I’ve got cooking-heat, I’ve got running water. I got this week’s Mindful Chef packages today, and will get started on them tomorrow, a great luxury. While I was away, Helen – and, I hope, her boys – did an unbelievable amount of product-shifting here: kitchen stores back into the kitchen, art books into the study to clear shelf-space for knitting books.

I’m somewhat in awe of the new kitchen. I don’t think you want photographs until we’ve got a floor, and shelves, and painting in the upper regions. But meanwhile I can cook.

I heard today from the Majestic Line, who are going to take me on my cruise of the Western Isles this summer. I’ve had the dates wrong all this time – I will sail from Oban on the 30th of June (not May) and return 10 days later. A tight fit for Wimbledon, but not impossible, especially if my dr is able to revivify me. I’ll see him this week. Lenten abstinence has certainly not produced the hoped-for stimulus.

As for knitting: not much. Beverly, you’re absolutely right that re-doing a good pattern is better than otherwise. I’ll omit the st st rounds at the beginning which are meant to form a neat curl (mine flare). I’ll alter the colours in the corrugated ribbing – in dim light, my first attempt looks like spots rather than the desired ribbing-type stripes.

And it’s important to get back to all this soon.

But meanwhile, I  knit a few more rounds of Archie’s sock. And discovered that I was missing a stitch somewhere. Eventually I found it, two inches or more down, too far to ladder up successfully. I have secured it, and will confect another to replace it on the needle.

I remember the time when I was sitting in James’ and Cathy’s kitchen in south London, knitting a sock as always, and said, I’ve dropped a stitch. Their son Alistair (soon to graduate from Glasgow University in computer science and go straight into an enviably well-paid job) started looking for it on the kitchen floor.

Monday, April 02, 2018

A grand weekend –

I’m sorry I have no pictures to show you. On Easter Sunday we had a particularly splendid day – sunshine, and windless. The impressive hills which surround Loch Fyne were marvellously mirrored in its still waters. Easter was early, spring is late – we were cold. But it was wonderful.

A jolly priest comes over from Dunoon to say Mass in Inverary. In earlier life, he was a postman, before he gave that up for the priesthood. He it was who officiated at the wedding of Matt and Hellie, in Alexander and Ketki’s garden, a couple of years ago. He began his Easter sermon by telling us that, in view of the calendar date, he was tempted to begin by saying that the resurrection never happened, we were all barking up the wrong tree; and then sitting down. But he wasn’t brave enough, he said.

Given the size of the world, and the popularity of the poisson d’avril, I wonder if any clergyman anywhere actually did it.

Knitting went well. The Calcutta Cup vest, tried on Alexander, is manifestly too large. The tape measure wasn’t necessary. I could gather up a pattern-repeat into my hand and see that what was left would (probably) do nicely. And, actually knitting,  I got well down the leg with Archie’s second-attempt socks. They are rather alarming, colour-wise. He hasn’t seen them yet.

All is well here. If the cats were actually glad to see me, they didn't say so, but they have clearly been well looked after. Both are here beside me as I type.

Rachel will be 60 this summer. (If you want to feel old, try having a daughter of 60.) We are planning various celebrations, and she says she wants a pair of socks. She enters the Wimbledon lottery every year, and this time, God has come through for her: two Centre Court tickets for the second Friday (which is surely Men’s Semi-Final Day). She has invited me to join her, and, goodness! what a thought! Federer himself!