Thursday, October 29, 2020


We had a grand day at Abbotsford. Pleasant, sunny weather, despite the blowy rain confidently forecast. The house – at least, the area open to the public – isn’t terribly big, but stuffed with interesting things that Scott collected. He went to the battlefield of Waterloo, for instance, while the Belgian government were still selling souvenirs, and profited. It’s been greatly tourist-ified since I was last there, but not unsuccessfully. The staff were cheerful, knowledgeable, helpful. We had lunch in the café – delicious, fresh food. We spent so much time in the house that we never got to the garden: a loss. Helen and David might go back at the weekend, with one or more of their sons.


I was horrified, however, (1) at how the world looks, with everybody masked; and (2) with how weak I am, compared to my last outings, which would be my Shetland Wool Adventure and Joe and Becca’s wedding, in the spring and early summer of 2019. I was scarcely superman then, and wheelchairs were involved both on Shetland and on the rail journey home from the wedding. But I am much weaker now.

David is going back to Thessaloniki (where he works) at the weekend. He is afraid he won't be allowed home for Christmas.


Knitting has progressed. I am about to start the fifth broad stipe, in the middle of which one instruction ends and the next begins. I’ll have to face up to a stitch count soon. The difficulty with attempting a picture is that we started off without ribbing – that will be added later – with the result that the cast-on edge curls over the work, obscuring all of the first stripe and encroaching on the second.


“Scandinavian Sweaters” turned up today. It’s a book of patterns by a Norwegian designer, and very good indeed. That’s the one Meg says she added to her book-list sight unseen.




I finished “The Rector’s Daughter” – very interesting. The author was born in 1872. The novel is set somewhere in the first half of the 20th century – presumably between the wars, although at the moment I can’t think of a specific indicator. And it’s as if she and Trollope met and collided the way two seas do in a few places in the world – off the Cape of Good Hope, I think, for one. That is, his world is still there, gentlefolk supported by loyal servants; but the 20th century is very much there, too.


I’ve moved on to Mrs Gaskell’s “Cranford” which I feel sure I haven’t read – but I keep saying that, when it couldn’t be true. It’s gentle and pleasant, so far. I think I was expecting Victorian excitement.


  1. =Tamar10:56 PM

    I recall hearing about a TV series that was made of Cranford. I wonder whether they added some plot.

    I think the wearing of masks divides the people who recognize others by jaw lines from those who recognize others by eyes, hairstyles, etc. Could that be one of the reasons some people object so strongly, that they feel cast adrift visually?

  2. Anonymous11:18 PM

    The tv version of Cranford changed the story quite a bit. Usually when film plays fast and loose with a loved book it puts you off, but I liked both.

    Does anyone know how to wear a mask and stop your glasses from steaming up?


    1. A mask with a wire across the top of the nose, you then fit it to fit your nose (closer to the end of the nose than your eyes).

    2. Fold a tissue into a rectangle about 1.5" x 3" and put it over your nose inside the mask. It works better than not having anything, which is not saying a lot, I know, but it does help.

  3. The tv "Cranford" is mostly memorable for the many famous English actresses appearing in it. Mrs Gaskell is a writer with a surprising range - her life was rather remarkable too. How the same person could have written "Cranford" and "North and South" is beyond me.

  4. I just purchase “The Rector’s Daughter” on Kindle for $1.99. i need all the comfort reading I can get right now! I am sorry to hear you didn't get to taste a Bloody Ploughman.

  5. There are two books called 'The Rector's Daughter'; I was fairly sure from looking at the covers which one you had just finished reading - you note that the author was born in of 1872 clinched it! I'm 'between books' at the moment so am tempted, but have a huge pile already waiting and murmuring at me...