Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The last day. We had hired a car and driver to take us to Piazza Armerina to see the Villa Romana with its amazing mosaic floors. I fear I didn’t really have the oomph to do it justice, but it was worth doing nonetheless.

Friday October 19

We had a delightful outing. One of the hotel front-desk-men came along, for his day off, his English just marginally better than my Italian. He had never been to Piazza Armerina. He used to work in London but couldn’t stand the weather. His presence made the whole thing more of a party, since Archie could join in the conversation. The mosaics are pretty wonderful. I found it pretty demanding — all a bit up hill and down dale, and the crowds were appalling. We were delivered back to the threshold of a taverna about as du pays as you can get, for a late lunch, and are now back at base for a nap. The front-desk-man gave us a box of fichi d’India fruit which don’t taste very nice and are heavy. We will have to carry them at least as far as Catania airport.

There is a museum very near here dedicated to Sicily’s most recent invasion — in 1943. I think we might go see that tomorrow morning, before the airport. Also I’ll need to find cash. I forgot to budget for the taxi-to-airport. ATM’s don’t abound here.

Now safely back from evening supper-expedition. I hope my next bulletin will simply report safe arrival in Edinburgh and reunion with dear cats.

Saturday October 20

Here we are at Catania airport, a circle of hell beyond Dante’s imagining. We have still a long time to wait before our journey even begins. Several flights seem to be delayed — a bad omen.

Now here we are in Charles de G., the grandest airport I have ever seen. Archie was worried about making our connection, since CdeG is full of long, long walks and I am so slow; then I got worried because on top of those considerations, we were half an hour late getting in from Catania. But all is well. We are sitting at the Edinburgh departure gate, with time to spare.

And here I am in Drummond Place with a glass of Weston’s Vintage Cider — they don’t have THAT in Catania — and my dear cats, who seem glad to see me. Perdita met us at the inner glass door, the way she does when I get home from the supermarket, although her feeders have scarcely seen her all week. Maybe Archie texted her from the airport. 

I was right to be frightened, before we left. I’m really not strong enough for such an adventure. Archie was terrific and it couldn’t have been done without him. And we were lucky to get off so lightly from that fall. Probably, never again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

You won’t believe what I’ve been up to! I’ve resumed work on the Calcutta Cup vest!. Not much so far, beyond counting and calculating. My notes aren’t very good, as so often. But I’m back in the saddle, however uneasily.

Still, for now, back to Italy. We’re nearly finished. Here we are crossing the Strait of Messina, with our train in the bowels of the ferry:

Scylla and Charybdis were having a quiet day/

Our first day in Catania began at the fish market, as recommended by Jamie Oliver:

Wednesday October 17:

We have had a grand morning in Catania. I am sorry to take the afternoon away from Archie in this interesting place, but I must rest. He feels that seeing the Riace bronzes hardly was worth the journey all the way to Reggio. I don’t entirely agree, am glad to have seen them, but Sicily is better. We found a cannabis shop this morning (didn’t go in) but haven’t seen a cannolo yet. They’re very keen on Saint Agatha here.

{Archie outside the cannabis shop. That’s actually a cannabis vending machine:}

Now back from our evening expedition. We took a taxi to a famous cannolo shop and did the rest on foot. Excellent supper again. Yesterday’s tedium was good for me, I think — I felt much less shaken by evening, and slept really well. The bruises are fading and I will have little to show for my adventure when we get back. Tomorrow we will pursue St Agatha; Piazza Armerina on Friday.

Thursday October 18

Another good expedition. We went to the Benedictine monastery, which figures in “I Vicere” by de Roberto which I am laboriously reading. (It’s very long.) it is the second-largest Benedictine monastery anywhere. (Where is the first?) (Answer: Portugal) Archie was impressed — he hadn’t known monks lived like that. We missed bits which could only be seen on the guided tour, but saw plenty. Then we strode off to a series of 3 churches devoted to S. Agatha including the ruins of the late Roman prison in which she was incarcerated, and her actual footprints. Chiuso. We had a poor lunch in a humble taverna, and asked the waitress about getting into the church. “Domenica”. So much for Saint Agatha. She is the Agatha mentioned in the Mass.

{View from grotty café:}

We passed another cannabis shop and this time went in. Archie bought himself a tin of iced tea laced with medicinal cannabis. (Apparently there are two types.) I was tempted to buy you a souvenir cannabis-shop-Catania tee-shirt, G., but Archie said no. 

So tonight Archie has been commissioned to find a super-duper restaurant, a taxi-ride away if need be.

He’s done so. They serve cocktails — rather alarming.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Here we are, a fortnight ago, about to leave Reggio Calabria for Catania, on Sicily:
16th October:

Now we have a long wait for our taxi to Villa S. Giovanni. Better than wandering about that place, however. At least we’re sitting down peacefully.

Excitement since I last wrote. I tripped on some anfractuosity of the pavement on our way to supper last night, and fell headlong. {A bystander sprang forward out of the shadows and helped Archie haul me to my feet. I would have preferred a moment or two to lie there and take stock.} Some bruises and scrapes, but no structural damage to self. I felt shaken, and still do. However the left lens flew out of my spectacles on impact — that WAS serious.

{How I missed Radio Four/World Service that night!  In Edinburgh, I sleep with the radio on. I sleep well. I don’t hear much. But that night I would so have welcomed calm British voices talking about Brazilian politics or Brexit or Mohammad bin Salman.}

But this morning, after checking out, we proceeded along the Corso Garibaldi towards an oculist recommended by the hotel and passed another one long before we got there. Two mafiosi were standing about inside, quite unoccupied, so we went in and they reinstated the lens (it’s plastic, and scratched — I’ll have to see my man in Edinburgh) and tightened things up and took no payment. Then we went on and got your nduja, C. I was glad to have purchased some at Valvona and Crolla recently and thereby to have learned how to pronounce it. The “j” comes out “y”.

And here we are in Catania. It has been a long, hard day.  After the long morning’s wait, we got on the train at Villa S. Giovanni and sat on it for an hour, right there. Finally it started off for the ferry boat. “Eppure! Si muove!”  cried the nice man sitting opposite. This may be a joke that Italians make all the time, but it delighted me. 

No food at all, on that one. Archie has chosen a near-by restaurant and we will set off soon. The train kept announcing that it was going to Palermo and caused much anxiety thereby.

{Neither Greek Helen nor her husband David, both expensively educated, understood the reference above, so I will risk explaining it. When Galileo spread the news among his friends that the earth went around the sun, he got into trouble with the church authorities. He was called in, and recanted, and was heard to mutter as he left the room – “But it does move” – “Eppure si muove”}

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Did anyone notice yesterday that one of the days I was talking about was October 13, the day EYF 2019 went live? Alexander and Ketki stepped up to the plate for me, and secured Felicity Ford “Colours of Edinburgh” for Friday morning. It would have been fully as embarrassing for me as for the EYF organisers if the demand for class places had been less this year, after Alexander and Ketki had given up their Saturday afternoon to sit there with fingers on the buzzer at 4 p.m.

But all was as usual. Both Felicity and my second choice, Tom of Holland, were sold out in the first five minutes.

On with Italy.

October 14:

Here we are in Reggio Calabria. What a day!

The train wasn’t too bad, quiet and smooth, but not the luxury I expected from 1st class. No wi-fi and we couldn’t fit our electricals into the sockets provided. No trolley service, free or otherwise, and the buffet was indifferent at best. The landscape got more and more southern-european-impoverished-and-depressing. Indeed we passed the port where 80% of Europe’s cocaine is landed. And it started raining, quite hard.

Our hotel is near the station, and seems distinctly good. But they gave us a lot of info when we arrived including a sheet that said that the Archaeological Museum is shut on Mondays. Consternation! We did what I think was the only thing possible, ordered a taxi and went there at once. So we’ve seen the bronzes, and they’re good, all right. It turns out the museum IS open on Mondays through the end of October.[I checked this very point when I was booking trains and hotels – but you never know.}

It was still too early for good eating, which was rather necessary by then. We wound up at Macdonalds. Fillet-o-fish is fairly restorative, and fortunately the mini-bar here in the room has wine.

So now the only problem is, what to do in Reggio Calabria when you’ve seen the Riace bronzes?  We leave for Catania on Tuesday.

When we got here, we walked to the hotel in the rain, for the sake of some fresh air, since it was very nearby. Reggio is a fairly depressing town. Archie has been filing bank statements for me recently. “You’ve got plenty of money, Grandmother,” he said. “Why don’t you treat yourself?”

“Look around you,” I could only reply. “This IS a treat.”

October 15:

A quiet day. There’s not much to do in Reggio Calabria once you’ve seen the bronzes, and it’s been raining a lot. We walked in the Historic Centre but it is not very storico in fact because of earthquakes and wars. The earthquake of 1908 was the worst ever experienced in Europe. It is filed as the Messina Earthquake but Reggio suffered almost as much. Messina is just over there in Sicily. You can see it easily. [The epicentre was in the strait, where Scylla and Charybdis are.}

We went to an interesting delicatessen — that isn’t the right word— and I bought some nduja. Would anybody like some? We’ll have more strolling time tomorrow morning. (It’s a soft, spicy salami. You can spread it on crackers, or melt it into a pasta sauce. You can get it at Valvona & Crolla and also in Waitrose, in a jar. But it’s a speciality of Calabria. It’s distinctly spicy.)

Then we had a very good lunch, to make up for yesterday’s suffering.

Tomorrow we take the train to Catania. In the original plan, we were going to get a train from here at 10:10 and then wait four hours in a place called Villa S. Giovanni. Contemplating the idea as I sat in my kitchen in Drummond Place I thought we could stroll about a bit and have a modest lunch in some cafe. Seeing Villa S. Giovanni from our train yesterday, and similar local towns, I thought not. So we have thrown away the first part of our ticket and booked a car and driver to take us.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

I continue to improve, but have not recovered last week’s strength, such as it was. I’m glad I’m not in London, trying not to be a drag on the party. Greek Helen says she has found me a Personal Trainer. I shudder, but I’ll try anything for a while.

While Archie and I were in Italy, I pecked out a message to nearest-and-dearest on my iPad every evening. I might as well reproduce those messages here while I recover strength and knitting. I have added a couple of explanatory notes.

October 11:

Eccoci a Napoli!

All went smoothly including the anticipated problem with Archie’s name. (“Archie” on all reservations, “Archibald” in his passport; nobody noticed, or if they did, they didn’t care.) {Everybody got tremendously anxious about this at the last moment, for some reason.} Edinburgh Airport has somehow become horrible while my back was turned. EasyJet is not luxurious but got us here. Our hotel is perfectly decent, perhaps even a cut above the dear old Hotel del Centro in Palermo, and has a strong email signal in the bedrooms. Herculaneum tomorrow, and the Villa Oplontis if we’re feeling really peppy.

October 12:

We got to Herculaneum. I was right to be afraid of this venture. I’m really not strong enough. But we did it, and had a good time. The good old Circumvesuviana is a bit difficult to manage if you start from Naples — the station is full of football fans shouting and people who know where they’re going, and there are three lines whereas once you get to Herculaneum or Pompeii or Sorrento on the right one, there is only one way back. 

me & Herculaneum

The Archeological Museum I think tomorrow. Archie feels he has had enough adventure. It looks as if we can get there easily on the subway. I like mingling with The People but Archie prefers taxis.

I have had Salata Caprese twice now and have concluded that tough, tasteless, thick-skinned tomatoes must be a delicacy here. They probably have them flown in specially from England. I shall venture further afield, gastronomically, this evening. We have chosen what sounds like a good restaurant,  very near. Pizza is everywhere. We had a good lunch in Ercolano. There was a proper wood-burning pizza oven but boxes of pizza were piled up beside it so presumably not made at home. {A friend who was included on the mailing list, pointed out that the boxes were probably for take-aways.}

October 13

A successful day, again. Archie strongly preferred not to go by Metro so we took a taxi, and just as well. The Archaeological Museum was pullulating. We went to the mosaic section. Archie wouldn’t let me take a picture of him with the Alexander mosaic. We admired them all for a while. What teeny tiny tesserae! Then went downstairs and had a quick look at the Farnese Hercules and the Farnese bull. Then we fled.

The Alexander Mosaic, with crowd:

Thirty years ago Naples wasn’t crowded like this. People were afraid of it. Sort of like Glasgow. Both have changed tremendously.

We took another taxi to Capodimonte, where we fared better. A decent crowd, but no pullulation and no tour groups. We sat for quite a while in front of Titian’s Danae — look it up — completely uninterrupted. We also saw a number of other very good things and a few other world-type masterpieces and then another taxi home to a decent lunch.

Reggio Calabria tomorrow, both looking forward to the train. Our hotel is virtually in the shadow of Central Station, so that’s not a problem.

Archie thinks I am weaker than I was in Palermo in January.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Safely home. I’m sorry for the delay — no sooner had we set foot on British soil than both Archie and I were flattened by a severe diarrhoea. I think I’m beginning to pull out of it, but I have very regretfully decided not to go down to London tomorrow for the latest great-granddaughter's christening.  Archie blames a grotty cafe where we had lunch last Thursday. I blame Air France and the “beef stew” we both ate Catania-Paris on Saturday. At the cafe, he had pasta and I picked at a salad. Occam’s Razor, a favourite principle of mine, would suggest Air France. It was the only time we ate the same thing. 

All went pretty well in Italy. I’ll try to put together an account for you, with some pictures. I was right to be  scared in advance, though. I am not strong enough for such an adventure. Archie’s patience and strength saw us through. I fell badly in Reggio Calabria — whither we had gone to see the Riace bronzes — and got away with scrapes and bruises and broken glasses, no broken bones. A miracle.

I hope to be back here very soon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Here we go. I’m frightened. Tomorrow should be easy – Helen will drive us to the airport after an early lunch; fly to Naples; taxi to hotel; supper somewhere. Only nine more days to go.

However, at least today was a great success on the knitting front. I finished Rachel’s socks – I can take them to her when I go down for the great-granddaughter’s Christening at the end of the month.

And I woke up knowing where the pattern was for the sweater constructed of mitred triangles – Jamieson’s Shetland Knitting Book One. (There are three books in that excellent series, I think – at least, that’s all I’ve got.) My synapses are at their very best – not saying much – first thing in the morning.

What you do is cast on two stitches and knit for a while in garter stitch increasing one at each end of every other row. Stripes are nice here. One edge of your triangle is going to be the lower edge of the garment, the other, part of a side seam. When it’s big enough to go half-way across the wearer, leave it aside and make another the same. Join the two on one needle, with a stitch marker between, and from here on out continue to increase at the outer edges but decrease on either side of the stitch marker. Somehow or other it adjusts itself into a rectangle/square.

And I found my other copy of Laine, more or less where it should be, and you’re right, Mary Lou, and thank you for that: it was “Ancasta” I was thinking of. I think it’s been superseded in my queue by now. KD’s Stronachlachar is ahead of it, certainly. I think I went to see Baa Ram Ewe yarns at that EYF – see yesterday’s comment by Mary Lou – and wasn’t overwhelmed.

So – thanks to Kirsten and the Bond Knitting Machine – that’s all three of yesterday’s half-memories nailed. Very satisfactory.


I’m so glad you like that recipe of Jamie’s, Shandy. You can always steam some new potatoes or warm a baguette, if they want some carbohydrate. It also has the great advantage of being easy to eat, if you’re giving lunch to someone you’re not entirely comfortable with, for whatever reason, and it looks as if you’ve taken trouble.

I’ll be back here on the 21st or 22nd, if all goes well. A big “if”.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

I remain paralysed by terror, and in addition have been pinned to the spot today by waiting in for Amazon to deliver some new bags for my new vacuum cleaner. I was afraid the package might be too big for our (big) letter box, if it looked much like the photograph. They’ve still got another two and a half hours in which to deliver it, but waiting is tedious.

I hope I’ll get started on packing tonight. Tomorrow I’ve got to go back to Waitrose because they were short on cat food on Monday.

However, today, of course, saw the reappearance of Andrew and Andrea after three weeks away, with their report on Shetland Wool Week. Wonderful!

Knitting-wise, today has been the day of the half-remembered. You might be able to help me with one of them.

The first (you can’t help) arose from Andrea’s interesting interview with Hazel Tindall. I worked out a pattern once, based on something in one of my books, which was rather like that interesting diagonal pattern she showed us. The beauty of it was that it was swatch-free. You started in a corner – or in the centre? – knitting a triangle, and kept on going until it reached half-way across the prospective wearer, and then…

I think I could reconstitute it, if I could remember which book provided the inspiration. I posted the pattern on a website I used to maintain before I started blogging. That’s a long time ago, and several hard disks in the past.

The second (you certainly can’t help here) is that Laine #6 arrived, and looks good. I haven’t really started yet, but briefly turning over the pages stirred a memory that in the only other issue I’ve bought, there was a pattern which was a serious candidate for my queue. So the question is, where is that issue?

But here’s one you might be able to do. There used (?20 years ago) to be a simple knitting machine, quite widely sold. I remember it in John Lewis. It was a bit more than a knitting frame, I think – that is, I believe it had a carrier which went back and forth. But it was pretty basic. The question here is, what was it called? I think it was a short name, perhaps only four letters, but I wouldn’t swear to that. Googling has advanced me not at all.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Another day of not-much-forward, but a bit. (Allegro ma non troppo, solo un poco ) I found a nice pink plastic folder and arranged all our print-outs into it, in order, starting with “speedy boarding” for our EasyJet flight on Thursday. Archie looked up our hotels and says I haven’t done very well in Naples, but the other two are much better.

But the Naples one is very near the station, and that’s good, as we will want to leave from there on the Circumvesuviana to see Herculaneum, and we will want it again, two days later, for the train to Reggio Calabria. Archie says he was taken to Herculaneum as a sulky teen-ager and stayed in the car reading his book. Now he’d like to see it.

And I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

Andy Goldsworthy is one of my favourite artists, and I have seen something like this one framed in a doorway. God has achieved much the same effect, as I remember it, in a doorway in the public baths in Herculaneum, through which the lava is about to roll. I’d like to see that again. (Herculaneum was buried in lava, Pompeii only in ash and therefore much easier to excavate.) There is also an upper room in Herculaneum with the only Christian symbol – a Greek cross sunk in the wall – found in either city. (Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.) I talked my way up there once, and am very glad to have seen it. I wonder if it’s on show, these days.

It will be interesting, too, to compare Naples, next door to Vesuvius, with Catania, where we end up, over which Etna looms.

As for knitting, I made good progress with Rachel’s sock today, thanks to Pointless, and should finish by Wednesday. My difficulty these days is that I tend to huddle in the nice cosy kitchen with my cats, after writing to you and having supper, instead of going back into the sitting room to watch television and knit. But tonight there’s a must-see programme about TS Eliot so I may do better.

Mary Lou: Gaughan does those cross-overs like this: Left to right: K2tog, leaving stitches on left-hand needle; knit the first one again; move everything to right-hand needle. Right to left: slip first two stitches on left-hand needle to right-hand needle one at a time, slipping as if to knit; replace on left-hand needle in new orientation; knit the second stitch on left-hand needle tbl; knit both stitches on left-hand needle together tbl; move all to right-hand needle.

Margaret Stove’s admirable principle – the stitch the needle enters first will wind up on top – applies as well here as it does to decreases.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Not much was accomplished today, either. I’ve renewed my Old Person’s Rail Card, which I will need for my trip to London almost immediately after Italy, for the Christening of the newest great-granddaughter. That's something.

And I’ve finished the Foldlines swatch. It’s slightly too big in both directions. I think I’ll try again with a smaller needle. It’s going to be a fun sweater to knit, but obviously requires a much lighter-coloured yarn. The emphatic diagonals are a one-over-one cross, done in a most ingenious way, new to me. No slipping of stitches off the needle and grabbing them from behind. They both stay on the needle throughout. The less emphatic diagonals are just purl stitches.

I’m watching, or re-watching, an Amy Herzog Craftsy class about “perfect fit”. She’s good, that woman. She is emphatic that what you want from a swatch is a fabric you like. Once you’ve got that, do the maths to make it fit instead of fretting about "getting gauge". I think my swatch is a bit looser than it might be. She had an interesting passage, too, in the lesson I watched last night, about how much ease you need for different shapes of sweater. “Foldlines” counts as a dropped-shoulder, I think; therefore plenty of ease.

The only other knitting news is that I ordered La Laine No. 6. I have one previous issue – it’s absurdly expensive. This one sounds particularly good.


I remain in a state of near-panic about Italy, but there was some good advice this morning in the “A Life in the Day of…” page in the Sunday Times. The actor, director, producer and DJ Idris Elba says, “I imagine myself out of my body and I look down and I see six other people exactly like me, doing exactly the same thing, and that makes me feel a lot calmer.” Sort of silly, but I think I see what he means.

Here’s a picture I took accidentally, immediately after photographing the swatch. That’s some of my madtosh DK stash, and my dear cat Perdita.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

I’ve done a little bit. I’ve got a new central heating system – Greek Helen’s efficiency, again – and I needed to figure out how to turn it off when I’m away. My brother-in-law found the manual on-line (that’s what you do, these days) and printed it out for me on my lovely new printer. Today I sat down and did the figuring-out. It’s easy.

And I have a card that looks like a bank or credit card, but which in fact you load with money in advance. The modern equivalent of travellers’ cheques, I guess. I originally got it to take to Palermo. Today I topped it up on-line.

And – the big one – I spent a very happy half-hour with the Edinburgh Yarn Festival class list for next year. Except for the fact that they still haven’t persuaded Franklin to come… I’m going to try for Felicity Ford and Tom of Holland, if I can find a family member willing to give up next Saturday afternoon for me. The actual booking won’t take long, but the preliminary nervous tension, the being poised over the keyboard ready to refresh the screen at 4 p.m. precisely, is fairly wearing. I’ll be in Naples.

And that’s about it. A couple more rows on my swatch. I can always get some more sock needles at Cathy’s Knits next week if I haven’t finished that sock.


Shandy, we didn’t talk much about Kavanaugh when my sister was here, because there really wasn’t much to say. I think we were all agreed that it was his tearful testimony to the committee which really disqualified him for the Supreme Court.

There is an interesting and to me horrifying article in this morning’s Times about Greek letter fraternities. We have never had them at Oberlin. They are as strange to me as to any of you. But Kavanaugh is quintessentially a frat boy, I can see that. The article says that all but two presidents since 1825 (Carter & Obama?)  have been members, and 85 percent of Supreme Court justices. That’s far worse than the strangle-hold Eton has here, or even public schools in general. And public schools are, to some extent at least, a civilizing influence. Fraternities are not.

Friday, October 05, 2018

My sister and her husband left this morning for London and are presumably, by now, safely established in Sydenham with the James Mileses. It wasn’t as sad as some partings are, at our age – we’re all planning to see each other again next summer at Joe Ogden’s wedding to Becca (he’s Rachel’s second son).

And meanwhile Archie got the new printer to work from this computer, and we’ve printed out all our paperwork for Italy including our EasyJet boarding passes. Today we went up to John Lewis and bought a lot of Euro’s at their Bureau de Change since the Bank of Scotland had proved unhelpful on the subject.

That leaves a couple of little things to do, inevitably, the welfare of the cats to secure, but we’re essentially ready and neither of our passports has expired.

Maureen and I met up here before going out to our lunch on Tuesday, so I was able to introduce her to my cats and to Archie himself, whom she particularly enjoyed meeting. She should be back in Fargo by now, or nearly.

I celebrated, if that’s the word, by casting on a swatch for Gaughan’s “Foldlines” – the swatch is, sensibly, one of the pattern squares. I’m about halfway through it. It’s not entirely easy, and I think I can see a mistake, but it’s not entirely difficult, either, and would surely get easier as the sweater progressed. It requires a light-coloured wool, and I haven’t got one in madtosh DK. I’m using Burnt Hatch Chillis, or whatever it’s called. And the result will give me the size of the square. And that's what's required of a swatch. I might even wash and block it.

Meanwhile I’ve got to finish Rachel’s sock before next Thursday, to free the sock needles for Italy knitting. Plenty of time, including this evening.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

We’re moving forward. I bought a new printer. Archie has installed it, up to a point. I can print from the iPad, and celebrated by printing the Foldlines pattern, most beautifully, and our Italian railway tickets. But I can’t yet print from this laptop around which life is based; and there are other confusions related to my wireless network. And there’s lots more Italian-holiday stuff to be printed.

Perhaps Archie and I can return to the problem tomorrow. Today was largely devoted to a most delightful lunch with Maureen – almost as good as going to Shetland Wool Week myself. It is wonderful how the knitting community seems like a village. We talked about the big names – Beth Brown-Reinsel, Amy Detjen, Meg, Carol Christiansen – as though they were all old friends instead of (in my case, at least) rather distant acquaintances at best.

And I hope I have been indeed inspired to resume the Calcutta Cup vest. Even Shetland must be impressed with Maureen’s knitting. She was wearing a Fair Isle vest of her own, and it was wonderful.

My sister and brother-in-law are successfully here and tonight, presumably, successfully in Glasgow.

And tonight I am looking forward to the BBC programme about the near-collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland, and with it the British financial system, ten years ago. We had – still have – shares in the bank. It was a share for widows-and-orphans within recent memory, and its fall took with it a nice share of our income. It is nice to reflect, at least, that I can walk around Edinburgh and look people in the eye (not that I know anyone), and Fred Goodwin can't. He's a lot richer, though, and probably doesn't even spend it on knitting wool.