Friday, May 21, 2021

 I’m sorry about yesterday’s gap. I got my hair washed and cut, and the effort left me sharply impressed with how much ground I have lost recently. One doesn’t notice quite so much, going round and round one’s own gerbil cage. And the hairdresser – new to me – had one sitting in front of a full-length mirror so there I was with my old hands on my shabby knees. (Dear Charles, my hairdresser until he retired recently, had the wit to provide smaller mirrors. All one needs to see is the hair. He also had a daughter married to an Italian and living somewhere near Naples; perhaps inspired by her, he served delicious coffee. And he was very good at cutting hair.)


Still, I got there; I got back; and I look much tidier.


I went out for my walk early today – 1585 steps so far. But the day is young – I’m writing to you much earlier than usual. It’s wet and windy. They used to say something like “A wet and windy May/ fills the hay ricks with hay”: meaning that a wet and windy May was the preface to a good summer. We shall see. 2479 steps altogether yesterday – I felt there should have been more, given what a struggle it was to walk to the hairdresser’s.




There was a headline in the Times yesterday saying that the Scottish hotel industry had been decimated by Covid. And in the first sentence of the story beneath, we were told that 10% of  Scottish hotels have closed. I am sorry for their misfortune, but was delighted to discover that somewhere out there, among the Times’s subeditors, is someone who shares my knowledge of what “decimate” really means.


I was reminded of the time – and I wish I could remember the context – when I heard a BBC radio announcer say that someone had “literally dropped a clanger”. You could hear the pleasure in her voice. She was talking about someone who had let fall a hand-bell.




I am pressing forward with that Pairfect sock. As suspected, there is no change of pattern. The foot has just got longer. I find from that useful page in my Lotus Organiser that Rachel’s feet – I have chosen Rachel for these socks, because she has the smallest feet I am acquainted with – that Rachel’s feet are 58 rounds, after the final gusset decrease. I am currently somewhere in the 40’s, so, not far to go. Maybe even today.


Thank you for all your (conflicting) advice. Tamar:”The socks are very pretty, but the stash is full.” That’s impossible. “Stash” is an infinitely expanding concept. Mary Lou: it’s been so long since I knit socks (=since I went anywhere) that I come to them fresh and delighted, and don’t think I could tire during a 10-day cruise. I found myself wondering, a day or so ago, whether I remembered how to turn a heel (standard vanilla, heel flap, heel, gusset). I’m glad to be able to report that the answer is, yes.


KayT, a Majestic Line cruise is interesting indeed, but still leaves plenty of time for knitting. The summit of my ambition is to get aboard next Saturday. The entertainment consists of delicious food, three times a day, and an outing of some sort every day. I will leave that to C. – she’s an energetic walker. If we ever dock anywhere, I will stroll ashore: but on my previous cruise, that only happened once. All the other stops meant going ashore by tender, and the trouble with that is that you have to stay ashore until the tender comes back for you.


I plan to take up birdwatching. I have the RSPB volume on the birds of Scotland (there are an awful lot of them) and a pair of binoculars James gave me. That will still leave plenty of time for knitting. And C. can tell me about the local points of interest when she gets back. I think one of our stops will be Inverewe Gardens: I’ll go ashore that day if strength allows.


  1. A new hairdresser is always a challenge if you’ve been fortunate enough to have the same one for a period of time. My most recent haircut was with a new to me haircutter (after 30+ years with the same one). All went well (how could it not after 15 months!) - the biggest difficulty being having to remove glasses and hearing aides while wearing a mask. No worries about having to see myself until the very end. Luckily the hairdresser was very chatty and could maintain the conversation on her own and her voice range was mostly within my level of hearing!
    I still fall back on sock knitting as my comfort knitting. Being able to turn a heel still gives me a satisfying thrill. Lynda

  2. Jean, the saying we knew was:

    "A wet and windy May
    Fills the haggards with corn and hay."

    Gets the agriculture off to a good start, suppose. It may rain as much as it pleases for the next week, as long as there is a letup as we head into June!

    Turning a heel always seems to me like magic, and I never tire of it.

    I'm with you on "decimate"; it's a little annoying to hear it used in place of "destroyed utterly", but then language does evolve so maybe this is another instance.I find myself coming to terms with usage such as "they/themy" in place of the awkward "he or she, him or her".

  3. I remember my delight when I learned the etymology (and actual meaning) of decimate. Such an odd reaction to a word like that. My hair stylist is in high demand now that vaccinations have taken hold. A new hairdresser dreadful, as Lynda mentions, if you have to remove your glasses and just trust all will be well.

  4. Anonymous4:08 PM

    Finding a successor to one's tried-and-true hairdresser is always a challenge. I hope you feel you have chosen well.
    Congratulations on the new great-grandbabies, and bon voyage to you and C.
    -- Gretchen (aka stashdragon)

  5. Anonymous4:18 PM

    Jean, you might want to investigate birding apps for your phone, in addition to the book. Cornell Univ has one called eBird that I use, though I don't know if it covers the world.

    Anne C. in Bethesda, MD

  6. Anonymous6:58 PM

    On another topic, Andrea and Madeleine have posted their eulogy to Andrew at - for some reason I didn't get a Patreon notice about this. Have only watched a few minutes so far. Memorial in a church there I think May 29 - can't find the link where I noticed that. It's 5 am Eastern Daylight Time (mine in Ontario), I think.

  7. A haircut! I'm looking forward to mine sometime soon (not booked yet). My last one was November 2019 and I feel like a witch. Or one of those scary women who live in a dark cottage in the woods.
    I'm working up to considering socks... Another new knitting skill. Your cruise sounds wonderful even if staying on board most of the time.

  8. If you are looking for birds, I hope very much that you will see Gannets diving. They were always around and I was told about them as a child but somehow only managed to spot them when in my last years of going to Cornwall. My, they are special!

  9. Re birding. Invest in a small notebook. We like to make lists - species seen in 2021 so far 104. It adds to the interest of the day to build your list of birds seen.

  10. I have ripped out the yoke of a 3-6 month old sweater for the third time. Socks sound perfect about now!

  11. =Tamar3:56 AM

    It's delightful to see words used correctly.

  12. I hope you have strength enough for Inverewe - there are mostly flat paths through the gardens, but Inverewe House is also well worth seeing. The Lodge was destroyed by fire and the new House built in the 1930s. It has recently been restored and is now a lovely example of 1930s decoration - it’s very easy to imagine oneself on a between the wars country house weekend. There’s a nice coffee shop in the Bothy, if a rest is needed.

  13. Anonymous10:59 AM

    Misusing "wend" and "wind" for some reason annoys me, I almost never see "wend" anymore. The differences are reasonably slight to understand the confusion, but "wend" just seems more poetic somehow. Coffee shops are great for knitting, if you can manage the tender. Chloe

  14. Anonymous12:43 AM

    The cruise sounds really excellent.
    Looking forward to reading your reports when you are back.

    A haircut - that would be a great experience after so long. Here in Toronto I had a haircut in August 2020, and I don't think I am likely to have another one until August 2021. (I am looking quite like Struwwelpeter these days - the German new word for Corona hairstyle is Coronafrisur ...) May be the longest wait for a haircut in my memory ...

    Keep well!
    Lisa RR