Friday, December 31, 2021


So much for 2021. I don’t think any of us will be sorry to see it go.


I looked up your AeroGarden, Mary Lou. Thank you. It’s very similar to my salad factory. And ads for similar machines have started popping up amongst my Promotions. It must be an idea whose time has arrived. I like your idea of re-using seed pads, choosing seeds ad lib. You’d have to add fertiliser of some sort in the water, presumably? Here’s mine, today:



The seeds are stuck in little holes in the so-called lingots by some magic glue. In the third from the right (or second from the left, if you prefer) the seeds have somehow come loose from two of the little holes. Maybe they will turn out to be around somewhere, and come up anyway. Maybe three plants will be enough to fill the space – I think that’s probably one of the lettuces. Otherwise 100% germination. And I think you can see, if you peer, that true leaves are beginning to show. It remains great fun.


Helen and David and their son Mungo (the Arabist) came to lunch today. Mungo cooked. It was pleasant to sit talking.


I’m planning a Dry January, like last year. I’m hoping for rejuvenation, but not expecting any. It was sometime in the middle of Dry January this year, which I kept very faithfully, that I started using a stick to walk about indoors. Now I can scarcely get across the room without it. I like the way the calendar counts the days with me. You don’t get that in Lent.


No knitting. I’ve located all the yarns for the Calcutta Cup vest, though, and it’s absolutely top of my resolutions for next year. Or perhaps that's walking, the Calcutta Cup vest second. I didn't go out yesterday or today, although the weather was perfectly possible.





Wednesday, December 29, 2021


All well, more or less. C. and I got to the garden this morning, but it was raining briskly and therefore muddy and slippy underfoot so we came back again. At least we tried. Helen and her family are still in Strathardle, where they are not only wet but very cold. The deer have been at our trees.


It’s time to resume wee Hamish’s Calcutta Cup vest. I’ve retrieved the knitting, most but not yet all of the colours, the book, the stitch pattern. The body of the Machu Picchu is now 12” long, which may or my not be enough, but it’s time to lay it aside.


Mary Lou, please tell me about your herb-growing machine, or anyway tell me its name and I’ll look it up. You must be freer than I am – I can only use “lingots” already supplied with seeds and organic fertilizer. There are 50 or so different varieties available, which should keep me going for a while. I didn’t fancy the ones supplied with the machine – parsley, chives, thyme, rocket – too tame; I’ve got thyme and chives on the doorstep. So I also ordered another set – two lettuces, basil, and something else. But they can be purchased separately from the Veritable website, and I’ll do that next time. Chillies, coriander, salad leaves, as I've already mentioned.


We’re getting on fine. Picture soon.


I had to look “Let’s Go Brandon” up on Google to see how it could be an insult to Biden. I was disappointed. I had expected wit.

Monday, December 27, 2021


I’ve always liked Boxing Day, my fave, perhaps, of the 365. It doesn’t have a name in the US – or didn’t, at least, in the household in which I grew up. After the stress of the last few weeks, it brings with it a delicious sense of ease, of job-done. There’s always plenty of food left over from yesterday. The year is on the turn – there’s a sense of looking-forward. Little of that applies to me nowadays, but I’m still fond of it. We had a family quiz on zoom this morning.


The big news, however, is that there are little green leaves in my salad machine. The first set appeared yesterday, a wonderful Christmas present. Two more have joined it. That leaves one of the four bars still inert – but it hasn’t even been a week yet. My guess is that that’s the basil. I didn’t keep track of what went where, probably a mistake.


Monday the 27th


I wrote that much last night, but didn’t get as far as posting it.


No advance on the salad machine. The little green leaves which were already with us are moving boldly forward, but haven’t been joined by that fourth bar – although I think I can see that the seeds are sttrring. I’m planning the next lot, in six months’ time: chillis, cilantro (coriander), salad leaves. The problem then will be to give them eight hours of darkness. It’ll be May if not June by then, and that’s more darkness than we get in those delicious months. I’ve got a couple of walk-in cupboards: but they lack electric points. I think they’ll have to stay in the sitting room – where I much enjoy having them to hand – with the curtains drawn in a most un-May-like fashion.


C. came this morning, and we got as far as walking across to the garden and sitting for a while on a damp bench. She’s coming again on Wednesday, and we’ll hope for better. On Christmas Day, cheerful and sunny, I didn’t get out of the door with Helen and her family. They’re now in Strathardle, too cold to move.


I watched the Fruity Knitting episode with the second half of their Kaffe Fassett interview. He has been awfully successful in finding his niche and exploiting it. 





Friday, December 24, 2021


Here I still am, I’m afraid.


I was overtaken by something that felt like panic, and didn’t want to leave the familiar and the cats. I’ll be fine tomorrow by myself. I think Helen and David are coming to walk around the garden with me. They’ll ring the doorbell and stand well back. They’re also well-tested and clear. This damn disease is clearly getting out of hand. Rachel has got it, -- at any rate, has tested positive. She was planning to come up after Christmas with some family, to stay a couple of days at Loch Fyne and then come here overnight. But that’s off. She says her son Joe is much better. That’s something.


Loch Fyne: I signed up for Kate Davies’ new club yesterday. It’s called “The Secret Shore of Argyll” or something very like that. I was surprised to see that signing-up had started early in December. How had I missed it? The answer is, I hadn’t missed it. Yesterday’s membership was my second. I heard from Melanie this morning. I apologised, and have already got the refund. This is a worrying memory lapse. There were several reasons that that should have been memorable, including the fact that Loch Fyne is in Argyll, not far from the coast. (It is a sea loch.)


I’m having a wonderful time with my salad-maker. Here is a picture of it. 

The lights go off for eight hours out of the 24. It is watered by means of wicks drawing from a reservoir at the bottom. The lights will flash gently when I need to refill it, every fortnight or so. The photographs and instructional drawings show the lights at different heights. I am told that that will happen automatically. My first contribution (other than watering) will be to harvest/subdue the plants when they threaten to get too big.

That's not a real radiator (which would be ill-advised). It's an oil-filled plug-in thing, enormously heavy, which we inherited with the house. We managed to get rid of one or two. We have even, occasionally, in hard winters, plugged it in.


So now all I can do is to wait for Heaven’s contribution – the appearance of the little green plants.



Wednesday, December 22, 2021


Now the overhead light has gone in the room where I sit. I’ll have to move the computer – it’s a laptop – elsewhere until I can get Archie in with a new bulb. It’s possible to write by the light of the screen, but not pleasant.


My Christmas toy came. It’s a salad-growing machine. I set it up this morning and took some pictures of it for you but can’t figure out how to get them over here. I think the iPad (where the pictures are) has updated its software recently. So that, too, will have to wait for the visit of a grown-up. I have planted it with two kinds of lettuce, basil, and rocket (arugula). It is absurdly more expensive than buying those things in a supermarket, but I hope more fun. Its name is Veritable, if you want to look it up. It’s French. But avert your eyes from the price. Better than buying more yarn and not knitting it, I suppose.


And Tesco delivered still more food. The slot was 8-9 p.m.and they came at five past 8, so I got to bed in good time. Even Daniella is beginning to laugh at me for the quantities of food. I’ll take some smoked salmon to Loch Fyne and maybe can find a couple of other suitable things for them.


Tomorrow will have to be spent packing and resisting the temptation to skip the whole thing and crawl under the duvet with a cat. I’ve got to administer a Covid test to myself as well, and am nervous about that. About the discomfort, and about doing it right.


Thank you for all your Christmas greetings, The same to you, with knobs on. I suppose I’d better pack in blogging until some time next week. See you then, insh’Allah.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


Well, here we are indeed. We got round the course again. The solstice was nearly two hours ago.


I have concurred with all your sage advice, and committed to going to Loch Fyne. Helen can come and see the cats on Christmas day. She and her self-isolating family are then going to Strathardle which is pretty brave and hardy of them. I trust I’ll be back on Boxing Day. So now all I have to do is pack some knitting. Although many days pass here when I don’t touch the needles, as you know, the thought of 48 hours away with no knitting to hand, fills me with horror. I’ve got a Christmas sweater. It’s just a matter of digging it out and hoping the moths have spared it.


 More deliveries tonight – my Christmas present to myself: I’ve been tracking it all afternoon, when not dozing, and it’s nearly here. And the final grocery order. I got rid of some food this morning – Helen popped in, masked and at a safe distance, to pick up some mosaic material from the study where she had been working recently, and I was able to offload some frozen meals I had bought for James and not used when he was here. She’s got a houseful of boys who consume everything.

Monday, December 20, 2021


Here we are – solstice tomorrow. I don’t understand the solstice, although I’ve often read explanations. It doesn’t seem to mean that the sun will rise a moment earlier or set a moment later on Wednesday. I continue to worry that whoever is in charge – especially since the rules seem to be so complicated – will forget to throw the switch. If all goes well, we’ll see a real difference by Groundhog Day.


No excitement here. Alexander rang up and suggested that I go to them for Christmas. I’m thinking about it. I feel that I’ve ordered an awful lot of food and have a responsibility to stay here and try to eat it. The cats would miss me. It would mean an awful lot of driving for the Mileses: three hours or so each way: four trips, by the time I was transported there and back.

Some more food has just arrived...


Sunday, December 19, 2021




Not long after I finished writing to you last night, I found that Perdita was walking on three legs, holding her right forepaw against her side as if someone had been twisting it behind her back. All thought of Christmas dinner was banished. How could I have been thinking of myself, when…


Eventually I realised that she had caught a claw in the matted fur on her back, just in front of the tail. A vet shaved it off once (at enormous expense) but she let it happen again. I tried to set her free, while she growled and hissed at me. I gave up. C. was coming this morning. With two of us, one could hold the cat while the other cut the fur. So I went to bed, uneasily.


The first thing I do every morning is feed the cats, Paradox prancing in front of me, Perdita hanging back. This morning, no Perdita. I didn’t search, but she wasn’t visible in any of her usual places. I spent an uneasy couple of hours, with Paradox, as you can imagine, saying “Why are you worried? You’ve got a perfectly good cat. We don’t need that other one.” I watched the Andrew Marr show – the last one ever – while working out how to explain all this to C. First, we would have to find the cat…


But, ten minutes before she arrived, there was Perdita. She had solved the problem by herself. She wasn’t even limping. C. and I walked around the garden. We went clockwise this morning, instead of widdershins as usual. So all is well for the moment. 

I have managed to get a Tesco delivery spot for 8-9 p.m. on Tuesday evening, better than nothing. The order will include a spatchcocked poussin which will do well enough for Christmas dinner (and a good deal cheaper than last year’s French Black Chicken which I don’t think I ate much of). I’ll also have sprouts & cranberries & kale in a recipe I found recently which I tried to make for my sister when she was here. I messed it up that time, but I think it’s worth trying again.


I did a bit of knitting, during the Andrew Marr show. Next is measurement.




I was gratified to learn, Mary Lou, (Comment yesterday), that Google has heard of “mitigate against”. I feel pretty sure that I’ve never seen it in print. Nor have I ever been aware of a confusion between “home” and “hone”. I’ll watch for that one.

Saturday, December 18, 2021


No walk today. It was colder, although still open and dry – but I didn’t feel well. I’m coming around now.


Three more days until the solstice.


However, the main excitement of the day is not any of that, but the arrival of Helen’s youngest son Fergus from Bristol University yesterday evening. She stopped off here with some eggs for me, on the way to the station to meet him. He tested positive for Covid last night – presumably at her instigation – and again this morning, so they are all self-isolating. Her husband David is going to come back from Thessaloniki anyway, as planned, and isolate with them. I think he’s due on Thursday. I don’t know what their middle son Mungo is going to do – he was due home from London one day soon. Meanwhile Fergus feels fine. We think he had Covid last year, when he first went to university.


But all this means that I’ll be on my own again, like last year, on Christmas Day. Dear friends from Birmingham had planned to come – they stay with me while visiting their son who lives nearby in a small house. But they have just begged off, too – not a surprise.


I do hope I live long enough to look back on all this.


No knitting. I spent the potentially active part of the day feeling ill.




I am increasingly irritated these days by the phrase “mitigate against”, meaning “mitigate”. It is presumably derived by false analogy from “militate against”. I heard it first (on television) from Arlene Foster, then the Northern Ireland supremo, and put it down to ignorance. But it is getting more and more common, and I have heard it recently from a BBC announcer.

Friday, December 17, 2021


I’m feeling a bit braver this evening, although it is equally dark. A smidgen darker, in fact. Daniella and I got around the garden. That’s three days in a row. The weather has been very pleasant and open. And the little green noses of the 2022 daffodils and crocuses are appearing – and even of the 2022 wild garlic, I think.


Today’s crisis was that I couldn’t charge my iPad last night. That iPad is the umbilical cord connecting me to the world. It was at that point about 20% charged, which is not nearly enough to get me through a day. Frist thing this morning I ordered a new charger from Amazon, and they promised to deliver it by 10 p.m. When Daniela got here she found my spare in a trice (I thot I had another) so the crisis was over – but now I am faced with sitting up until ten. We have a good-sized letter box, but a charger could well be packed in plastic and then in a cardboard box. Amazon would leave it amongst my pots, but the doorbell would blast me from sleep. It’s all my own fault, too.


Perhaps I will have to sit up and knit.


A dear neighbour died last week – a well-loved local eccentric who will be much missed. This time of year, already grim, is often freighted with such news.

Thursday, December 16, 2021


The Covid numbers are scary.


My grandson Joe in London has it, or so his mother Rachel says. He is in bed with total feebleness (sounds like me). He’s done a home test, and it’s positive. Otherwise he has had no contact with drs, I gather: which presumably means he doesn’t show up on the statistics. I wonder how many other sufferers are in that category?


It was grand having James here. He went off on the train this morning. Apart from anything else, it was a comfort in the ever-encroaching darkness not to have to worry quite so much about falling. For three nights, I could shout for James. He and I got all the way around the garden yesterday; Daniela and I did so again this morning. Maybe I’m a teeny bit stronger?


Almost no knitting, but I did a bit this morning, listening to the new Americast.


YouTube sends me lots of messages about my “friends” these days, half a dozen a day. But nothing from Franklin. Until recently, his were the only messages that came through to my in-box.

Sunday, December 12, 2021


The weather has turned milder. Helen came this morning, and we walked all the way around the garden. The secret is just to keep on going. I think I feel less prostrate than I did a week ago when we last did it,


And I’ve knit on. A measurement this morning suggests about 11”. I’m aiming for 12, or 12 ½. Progress. This morning I watched the Andrew Marr show, which was a bit of a disappointment, Newspapers suggest that Johnson’s days as Prime Minister are numbered. Marr made it sound less serious. I wonder what Prime Minister says to Monarch, and she to him, in situations like this. They confer every week.


I am reading, although I blush to admit it, Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot”. Inspired by last week’s conversation with Archie. He’s keen on horror, and very knowledgeable on the subject. He has long since left King behind in favour of Lovecraft and Ligotti. I don’t think I had ever heard of either.


I was slightly surprised to find Salem’s Lot on my Kindle, therefore free to read. But have I read it before? It doesn’t feel familiar. It’s really rather good. He blends traditional Gothic horror with small-town Maine to telling effect. I find it so scary that I don’t read it after sunset, and am interleaving it with “Pride and Prejudice”. Even there, I find myself a bit uneasy: Lydia has eloped with Wickham. But could he be one of the un-dead?...Or could she?... And they’re coming to Longbourne next week…


James is coming here tomorrow. I don’t know the details. I’ve got to go to the GP at midday to have some “bloods” taken. The NHS has a lot to catch up on. Why can’t they leave me alone? And (see preceding paragraph) what’s all this about blood?


But anyway, if I’m silent in the next few days, it will be because James is here. I’ll let you know about the ramen in due course.



Saturday, December 11, 2021


Nothing to report. Daniela couldn’t come – she’ll be here tomorrow. Helen popped in this morning with the weekend Financial Times. Otherwise I’ve seen no one. There must be lots of oldies who live alone for whom every day is like this. I’m very lucky. I couldn’t sustain it.


C., who usually comes at the weekend, is having sinus problems. She and I haven’t been to Mass for months, but we still get the parish newsletter. It includes the Sunday gospel for the week. The one received today begins, “The multitudes asked him, ‘What then shall we do?’ And he answered them, ‘He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none.’”


Which pretty well answers the question about Daniela’s root canal work.

Friday, December 10, 2021


Colder today. I didn’t feel up to exercise when Daniela came, but later on we walked to the corner and back. Better than nothing.


I’ve listened to “Americast”. I think they were getting a bit silly and Christmas-y but it was nevertheless interesting. The most interesting part was about guns in America, and that remarkable Christmas card. And I got some knitting done. I think it’s time for another measurement, wherein I will discover that I’ve achieved another quarter of an inch. Tomorrow.




Thank you for them, as always. Mary Lou, I’m not at all sure that I know what a helical stripe is, but I trust you will go public with the pattern, and I look forward to seeing it.


Kirsten, I made that mistake once, on a border-inwards Gladys Amedro shawl. You start with the entire edging, then join it into a circle, pick up stitches for the four borders, and knit inwards. When the fatal mistake happened, it wasn’t by any means on the first shawl I had knit that way, and I was always (I thought) fanatically careful not to twist the edging. When I discovered the mistake past any doubt, I took scissors to the offending corner. You could scarcely do that with a jumper. Sympathy.


Crochet66, Yes, I think I might bring home a doggy bag and add it to my Boxing Day ramen. I like the idea of your Christmas Dinner Soup. I’m sure it’s delicious.


Thank you for your remarks about Daniela’s root canal. Helen has got one of her own in the next few days, and will press the dentist about cost. Even if it is theoretically possible on the NHS, we are reluctant to toss Daniela back to the dentist who has achieved so little and made her so unhappy in the last few months.

Thursday, December 09, 2021


A good day. The sun shone, the wind held off. Archie came, and we got a bit further around the garden than Daniela and I managed yesterday. I knit a bit. A new “Americast” is up – maybe I’ll even knit a bit more and listen to it this evening.


Although just for the moment, British politics are more interesting than American. And Boris Johnson has crowned a busy week (it’s not even over) by having a baby.


I think maybe ramen will be the answer to my question, what-to-eat-on-Boxing-Day-without-leftovers. The making of it is just complicated enough to keep one busy, and the eating of it is blissfully soothing.


Dentistry: I don’t know what a “dam” is, and I suspect I’m glad I don’t. I am worried about Daniela’s root canal. Is it even possible on the NHS, or will they just yank the tooth? The cost, however appalling, is less than a week of residential care, which is what she is saving me from.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

 Not a bad day. Daniela had a good night’s sleep, and feels much better. I remain concerned about what happens next – what our expensive dentist did yesterday was only meant to be temporary. The next step -- a permanent crown -- is too expensive for philanthropy.


Alexander came over, in good form. I talked to him about ramen. He is enthusiastic, as in Helen, from completely different starting-points, confirming my suspicion that I could go on tweaking it forever. James is meant to be coming next week, Covid and weather permitting. I’ll make some for him.


Yesterday we had the edge of the second winter storm, but the weather today was positively benevolent. Daniela and I went walking, and got to the garden. I think it may be a week since I’ve been out. Tomorrow I will be pinned to the spot by an expected delivery (some frozen meals to feed James with, when he’s not having ramen). We shall see. It may work out, or the weather may have turned.


And I got some knitting done, I’m sure without affecting the measurement in the slightest. I watched Prime Minister’s Questions on my newly-restored television, without learning much (we're having a crisis), but it provided a good background for knitting.


Joni, thank you (comment yesterday). I’ve been to Facebook and caught up with Franklin a bit. It used to be – up until last week – that I would be notified of each of his posts in my email account, almost always between 8 and 9 in the morning. When that stopped, I assumed he had stopped, but I was wrong. I continue to be notified of boring contributions from other people I follow. Logging on to Facebook and tracking him down is too much like work, except for occasionally. I will have to let him drift away.



Tuesday, December 07, 2021

 Pearl Harbor Day

It’s been a fairly exciting day – no knitting. I did get back into the sitting room yesterday evening and did a (very little) bit while watching a Panorama program about the private equity firms which own and profit from care homes. Maybe I can profit from that experience to get back in there this evening.

Today’s excitement stemmed from (a) a toothache which Daniela has been suffering from, badly, for a couple of months; and (b) an accountant who has been engaged to straighten out my income tax.

We (=Helen and I)  packed Daniela off to our expensive local dentist, who thinks the problem is due to a root canal job begun but not completed when she was in Rumania in the summer. But even he was a bit uncertain. Helen went along to translate. Both are fluent in Greek, although that is not (obviously) the first language of either.

The accountant came in the afternoon and seemed very competent and efficient. It’s going to cost a lot – in her fees, and perhaps in unpaid income tax. But I will feel at peace with the world. Which I do anyway, by dint of not thinking about income tax.


We haven’t heard from Franklin in the last few days.



Monday, December 06, 2021


It turns out that the blasted rowan tree is the one down the commonty – the one by the house which protects us from witches, is fine.




I have become greatly enamoured of ramen. I made some for my lunch the other day, using the recipe from “Nigella Express”. She has also done a YouTube video of the same recipe. It’s not quite as express as she would have it, but not bad, and very soothing. It contains everything the human frame requires – protein, carbohydrate, abundant veggies, all almost infinitely variable. Read the Wikipedia entry and then Google a bit, if you’re at all interested. I shall go on at least for a bit, tweaking the original recipe in one way or another.

I used a dried wild mushroom mix, instead of the dried shitake specified. I was surprised to find "honey fungus" among the ingredients. James has got some of that, killing a favourite tree. Should he have it for lunch?




Not much, but at least I’m knitting. The body of the Machu Picchu sweater is now 10 ¼” long. I don’t dare look back to see what it measured last time. Slowly as it’s progressing, the ball of yarn seems to be diminishing nicely.


I signed up for Kate Davies’ new club, not without difficulty.


Thank you (comments yesterday), Eileen and Gemma. What I don’t need is another project (or more yarn), with a new great-grandchild looming and the Calcutta Cup to be remembered. But it’s a very tempting thought. It might be just the thing to get me going again. And I do love twisted stitch.

Sunday, December 05, 2021


It’s dark, again. I’ll be glad when I know that Helen is safely back from Kirkmichael.


She wrote last night: “The only damage is to the rowan tree – it’s split at the base”. Many Scottish and Irish houses have a Rowan tree, as Google will tell you – they’re to ward off witches. Will ours grow from the roots? Will witches be impressed by a secondary growth? I trust Helen will have a photograph. I deplore superstition, but it seems nevertheless an ill omen with which to face 2022. Maybe it would be better to plant another one. Mr Cochrane the gardener would have to build a little house for it, to ward off deer.


It has been a quiet day – in fact I haven’t seen anyone, which is unusual. I did a fair amount of knitting, interleaved with reading Le Carre – goodness, he’s good – and trying with little success to do some more on-line Christmas shopping.


Kate Davies’ new club, “Argyll’s Secret Coast”, opens tomorrow. I will be there in the early-morning queue. Her clubs are a wonderful way to navigate the dark months, and the Argyll coast is close to home, in a sense: Loch Fyne, where Alexander and Ketki live, is a sea loch opening off it.


(I’ve just had a message from Helen – she’s safely back.)




Beverly, you’ve said it. The “Carp-Beth” pattern is in grey only. KD’s one fault is that she doesn’t offer yarn options, as (for instance) Brooklyn Tweed and Carol Sunday do. She even offers some kits which don’t specify what yarn is supplied. I’m sure one could look up the patterns in Ravelry and find out – it might even be possible by that means to see whether the Carp-Beth could be knit in Schiehallion, my fave of her coloured yarns. But that’s too much work for my dulled solstice brain.



Saturday, December 04, 2021


Goodness, its’s dark. Less than three weeks to go, now, until the solstice. Helen has gone up to Kirkmichael to see how everything is, since the storm. We know from the wonderful man who tends the garden that there are no trees down on or near the house. That’s a start. And since he has electricity, we probably do too. A neighbour has reported that there is a dead deer in the garden. The gardener will deal with it. Helen checked in advance that there is no serious snow – but today has been so very dark that I fear some may be about to fall tonight. Our house is six feet or so below the level of the road – getting up the driveway can be difficult (=impossible) in wet or snowy weather.


I’m rather glad to be excused by age from doing battle with the dark midwinter in Strathardle.


Otherwise, there is little to report. I did some knitting this morning while watching Part Two of the much-discussed BBC “The Princes and the Press”. I thought it was boring. I long to be knitting bright colour, such as Machu Picchu will provide – but not until the summer solstice, at the rate I’m going. I stlll mean to persevere until the armhole before switching to more urgent projects.


I like Kate Davies’ new “Carp-beth” pattern, a twisted stitch variation on her previous “Carbeth”. It’s cropped, which I don’t like, but could be easily lengthened. It’s not bright, fortunately, or I might be tempted to order it – the very last thing I need.




You’re right, Tamar – there are few things so sweet as the self-solving problem.


Mary Lou (and anyone else interested) – I presume “Americast” is available in the US. I find it very entertaining. Alas, one of the pivotal characters, the BBC American editor Jon Sopel, is about to come back to London. I am sure his replacement will be excellent as far as reporting America is concerned, but will she fit into the little group with anything like the same chemistry?




My grandson Thomas, son of Alexander and Ketki, went to a St Andrew’s Night dinner at his school last week. The significance of the picture is that Thomas’ bow tie was the only one (I am told) which was self-tied. Even the headmaster and deputy head were wearing snap-ons. My husband would have been very proud. What agony that was, the few times we went anywhere that it was required.

Friday, December 03, 2021


Crochet66 and Between Me and You (comments yesterday): You were right, although that website didn’t sound at all like the problems I was suffering from. The television was fine this morning: pictures, sound. I switched it off and listened to my favourite podcast, the BBC’s “Americast”. There was a new one up.


And did a bit of knitting. 10” have been accomplished, of the 12” I want for the body. I really must get on faster than this.


Thursday, December 02, 2021


Shandy, I was speaking partly in irony, when I suggested that Alexander could solve my television problem because he was a man. Sure enough, things are now much worse than they were yesterday. He switched the Virgin cable box off and on again – always worth trying – and now the screen says “Starting up…” but never gets past that point. I fear I may have to ring up Virgin. Archie is coming tomorrow. He won’t be able to help, I don’t think – despite being a young man -- but might be willing to do the phoning. Which will, of course, take hours.


I don’t watch much television, as I’ve said, and I’ve got my beloved iPad on which a certain amount can be viewed. And I don’t have my husband here being cross – he did like to watch television in the evenings, and would expect me to be able to switch it on for him.


I got up feeling very shaky this morning, and have accomplished nothing but have at least not fallen down and perhaps feel slightly better.


I’ve done a bit of on-line theoretical Christmas shopping (no expenditure yet), but so far – this has happened in other years – have found nothing except presents I would like for myself.


The newspapers and magazines are stuffed to the gills with Christmas Dinner in one form or another. Someone should write an article about how to manage if you live alone and can count on being asked out on The Day (=me). What do you eat for the next four days, while everyone else is feasting on leftovers?

Still no cheetahs.


Wednesday, December 01, 2021


Here we are in December, and I always feel that’s not quite so bad. Or so bad it’s funny. Much as when, at the other end of the calendar, May segues into June and you know that the glorious spring is over, or nearly.


I haven’t done any walking. Not good. We had a whole day of mild weather, but it’s now bitter cold again.


I’ve been knitting, and listening to podcasts. I’ll measure again tomorrow, and be glad if I’ve added half an inch. It’s a long way around. My television – which I don’t watch very often – has lost its sound, although it otherwise seems to be in good health and spirits. Alexander is coming tomorrow. He’s a man, and therefore ought to be able to fix it.  I’m sure it’s just a matter of figuring out which button to press on one of the two zappers, but they have all defeated me. I’ve probably made the problem worse by trying.


No cheetahs.