Sunday, June 30, 2024

 I would go so far as to say, a summer’s day. Helen came to see me, and later on Laura — one of you. She is in Edinburgh with a tour group, not a knitting one. On to Dublin today or tomorrow. My carer was enchanted with the idea when I told her, and said quite rightly that we should have had a picture taken together.

   I’ve heard from my sister, who is worried (needless to say) about the American political situation. I continue to read a lot about it, but there is nothing for anyone to say. Was it a New Yorker columnist who bade him consider Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who predictably skewed the Supreme Court by delaying her own retirement? That’s not a consideration which is likely to weigh with Mr Biden.

     Nor is Mrs Biden going to be of any use, clearly. What about the sister? Or does it all come down to Obama? (Jill Biden belongs to a very small subset of the world population who irritate me intensely by insisting on being addressed as “Dr.” on the strength of a non-medical degree. I refuse.) 

   Wordle: I played with wild abandon this morning — two failures in a row would hardly have mattered, but I got it in six. Three was a Jean-word (and rather helpful). Four was a wild guess — I still don’t know what it means— which left me in the old Wordle four~green situation. No luck with five. But line six was right.

    Three for Mark. Five for Theo and Alexander — they both got briefly stuck in my four-green pattern. Four for the others. No news from Roger.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

 A pleasant day, distinctly warm. No rain. I resumed knitting, at last. The new light certainly helps. I’m not so sure about the new glasses. So far I’ve done only one side of the current pattern round. I hope to finish the round this evening.

   Poor Mr Biden. There is an eloquent leader in the Economist, begging him to go, right now, for the sake of the western world. Never mind “western”. For the sake of the world. There’s lots of similar comment elsewhere but that’s the best I’ve read. I don’t think Jill is likely to be any help. Clinton and Obama combined might do it. It’s nice to have something to worry about.

   Helen came briefly this morning, before a day of teaching mosaic-making. News of Fergus continues good. He’s had his stitches out. He’ll be back here soon.

   Wordle: I failed! Such a relief after asking C. for help the other day. My starters gave me three browns. A fully legitimate line 3 advanced things not at all. Still three browns.

    Line 4 was a Jean-word (re-using a letter I had eliminated. No progress. Five was another Jean-word which at least gave me my first green of the day. Six was a fully qualified word and I typed it in, in full confidence.

   So, a busy and fruitless morning, achieving nothing but to relieve me of the burden of guilt.

   Three for Alexander. Four for Rachel and Mark. Five for Thomas and Ketki. In DC, six for Roger, five for Theo. I still don’t know what Roger and my sister think about current affairs. It’s a good deal less fun for them.

Friday, June 28, 2024

  Not too bad a day out there, weather-wise.  My difficulty these days is that I sleep badly at night and then spend the days making up for it. Doesn’t leave much time for consciousness.

   Such as there has been today has been devoted to the American presidential election. Much more fun to think about than our own. I listen to the World Service at night. They didn’t carry the debate, and comment was circumspect. It took me a while this morning to realise what the pundits were saying, and how unanimously. 

   I eventually listened to 15 or 20 minutes of the actual debate on Youtube. I don’t like Biden. And when you start from that point of view, his performance in the debate seemed typical and tolerable. But that’s not how the world is taking it. I haven’t heard from my sister. We didn’t have much of a chance to discuss politics while she was here, due to her Covid. And now even that chance is gone.

   Someone asked in a British “Any Questions” a couple of days ago, Are you two the only choice this country can offer? How much more resonant the question seems over there! Either Starmer or Sunak could steer GB for the next five years without total disaster (I hope) but in the White House….

Wordle: five for me. All I care about these days is not failing. Starters gave me two greens and a brown. Line three didn’t take long, but it was wrong. First letter missing! A Wordle special! Line four likewise! Panic! Fortunately, however, I had run out of possibilities

   Thomas and Theo,  more fives, had the same problem. Rachel and Ketki, two more fives, had a similar struggle with a gap in letter four. Alexander and Mark scored fours. Silence from Roger. He can’t even claim he was up all night watching the debate.


Thursday, June 27, 2024

 Helen is home. And Fergus is doing well. So that’s that crisis dealt with. The carer-handover is complete, and we seem to be doing well.

   Otherwise there is singularly little to report. I have been cheerfully dozing. I’ve got some new glasses, a slight but distinct improvement on the old ones. And I’ve got the new lamp. So there’s no excuse for not knitting. We’ll see.

   I continue to be anxious about Princess Anne. Did she have a stroke?  Nobody seems to know anything about the actual event. She was alone, and goodness knows how long she lay before anyone came along.

   Wordle: at least I did it by myself today. A familiar pattern: two browns and a green from my starters. Line three was fully qualified but wrong. I got it in four. 

   The threes were Mark, Ketki and Rachel. Alexander joined me on four. Thomas had five, as did Roger in DC. This time it’s Theo we haven’t heard from.


Wednesday, June 26, 2024

 A good day. People have complained of its being hot, even. From inside, overcast, but brighter now. Agitation continues here with the carer handover, which will be complete tomorrow. And Helen will be home tomorrow.

    Thank you for y our comments yesterday about ramen. It’s a richLy complete dish, Tamar.  Kirsten’s recipe gives some idea. I’m more likely to get beri beri just bumbling along as I am, living on cider, sinking into the grave.

    C. came this morning. No news. She is going off to a wedding somewhere this weekend so I will not see her for a week. She will be the “and friend” on the invitation and will not know many people. 

   I chickened out with the new lamp — therefore no knitting. Helen will take things in hand tomorrow.

   Wordle: oh, dear. It’s a toughie, or so I found it. Three browns from my starters. Two Jean-words for lines three and four turned one of the browns green; otherwise no progress.  So I consulted C by email — I knew she had polished it off in three - and she gave me a clue.

   Maybe I would have got it? We’ll never know. But I feel terrible.

   The others posted later than usual but otherwise showed no signs of distress. Three for Thomas, Alexander and Mark. Four for Rachel, Ketki and Theo.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

 A summer’s day, ending suddenly in rain. My new carer is here, learning the ropes. The previous one is going to visit family in Goa and India for a month. 

   No knitting, but a new bright light has arrived as recommended by Helen. We have assembled it, and located it beside my chair. I’ll report tomorrow. Helen is coming back from Thessaloniki on Thursday, not today as I had hoped.

   I’m uneasy about Princess Anne. Poor royal family! Ci mancava anche questo.

   I’ve been reading David Chang’s autobiography and am inspired to attempt a diet of ramen noodles. I think the only recipe I know is Nigella’s.

   Wordle: Another three for me! The starters yielded four browns. The struggle was relatively brief. The result didn’t seem at all likely but world at least eliminate another consonant and give me another place for each letter where it couldn’t go. But it was right!

   Rachel thoroughly redeemed yesterday’s failure with a two. Roger shared my three. Four elsewhere, except Mark, who scored five.

    My winning streak has now reached 50. My max was 67, long ago, in the days when I usually scored five. So its getting scary. 

Monday, June 24, 2024

 A summer's day! Even more so, I think, in England. I must get out, when Helen gets back. And I must sort out my computer problems so that I can show you some pictures. Rachel sent me a beautiful batch from her birthday party. I think I need Archie.

   Kirsten, I’m glad you’re enjoying tennis. I’ve loved it ever since we got a television set, rather later than everybody else. But my father took me to a Davis Cup match at Forest Hills in what must have been the late forties, and I enjoyed it enormously. The USofA had won both singles matches the day before. Australia had to win the doubles that day (they did) to keep hope flickering. I’ve been humming Waltzing Matilda to myself ever since. 

   I’m halfway around the next pattern round of the KD MKAL shawl. Goodness, it’s hard. My new lamp should be here soon. Maybe I should wait.

   Wordle: my two starter words yielded one (1) vowel, green. It was remarkably hard to think of any answer to fit. (My starters eliminate five very common consonants.) I finally found one — wrong, but helpful enough that I got it on the next line.

   It seems to have been on the difficult side all round, except for Mark who was home in three. Ketki and Theo were fellow-fours,  Alexander five, Thomas six, and poor Rachel failed. She got stuck for a first letter, as did Thomas. No news of Roger.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

 Sunshine again! If this goes on until Helen gets back, i’ll have to venture out. The current carer hasn’t been instructed in the up-and-down-stairs machine, so we’re stuck. I wasn’t entirely sorry not to have to make the effort today.

   Rachel rang up — on her 66th birthday. The first day of the rest of my life, if ever there was one: June 23, 1958.

   And Clare came and we had a nice time talking about tennis. I’m waiting for Wimbledon. She’s been watching the subsidiary British grass-court tournaments, to get acquainted with everyone.

   Rachel says that Roger and Aunt-Helen are consumed with anxiety about the American election, as well they might be. I wish we had talked about it more, before she got ill. The British election is bad enough, but at least Starmer and Sunak are both sane, and even Farage close enough to that state, and none of them senile.

   I’ ve been thinking about “Don’t Look Now”, a propos what I wrote yesterday about Donald Sutherland. I remember visual images — a headmaster’s somewhat battered but still authoritative door; Sutherland dizzyingly high in a Venetian church; as well, of course, as that red raincoat. And what is it that is so scary about blindness? It was directed by Nicolas Roeg. I looked that up.

   Wordle: Unbelievable! Not only did I score a two last week, bit my three was unmatched in our little group today. My starters provided the two vowels, one green, one brown. I struggled but briefly, thought of a word, typed it in — and it was right! Sheer luck. I used to subscribe to the NYT to the extent that they would tell me how many other possible  answers there had been at each stage. There would have been lots today, I suspect.

   Four for Alexander and for both Theo and Roger in DC. Five for the rest of the home team. 

Saturday, June 22, 2024

 Sunshine! I didn’t go out, however, due to feeling rather limp. James rang up. He is going to China for a fortnight. He got a visa to attend something boring, but it allows him days on either side for wandering about.

   Fergus is home from hospital. He has to inject himself daily with an anticoagulant— could I do that? — but otherwise is fine, Helen will be back on Tuesday, I think. Some such day.

   I was sorry to hear of Donald Sutherland’s death. I remember several films of his with a depth and precision unmatched by my memory of any other movie star: Mash (the original), Klute, Don’t Look Now. Especially the latter.

   Knitting went well. I got around the next pattern round in good order, counting, counting, counting. Now a plain-vanilla purl round. I can see the stripes beginning to look wavy, as expected, but that doesn’t help with knowing whether I am placing the next stitch in the right place. 

   Wordle: thank you for your messages of congratulation on yesterday’s two. Today I was back in the familiar groove: five. Three browns from my starters — two vowels and a consonant. Lines three and four were perfectly legitimate guesses — but wrong.

   Everybody else did better. Four for Rachel, Alexander, Thomas and Ketki. Three for Mark and Theo. No news from Roger, although I have learned that they are safely back in DC, united with their cat.


Friday, June 21, 2024


A dull day, both inside and out. Not exactly the haar, but a feeling that just under those grey clouds was/is the blue sky the rest of the country is enjoying. And I have been feeling a bit battered myself, after a restless night.

    The news from Thessaloniki, however, is thoroughly good. Fergus was substantially brighter this morning, and discharge was expected. What about the gangrene, I asked? Perhaps it’s not like cancer and you don’t have to worry about sweeping up every molecule.

   I resumed knitting. Helen doesn’t think I need a round-the-neck light but a floor-standing one. So I ordered one. And I finished the purl round and embarked on the next pattern round, counting away. I think what must be happening is wavy feather-and-fan, but no lacy holes. And maybe, even so, I’ll be able to see it after a few more rounds. The stitch-reduction, alas, is insignificant. This is the borders of KD’s MKAL shawl I’m talking about.

   Wordle: guess what? I scored two! My first starter gave me four browns. I struggled. I eschewed at least one near-possibility that left one of the browns in its original position. I found it!

   Alexander was a fellow-two. Ketki and Mark three. Rachel and Thomas and Theo four. Nothing from Roger. Is he still struggling with Icelandic Airways?

Thursday, June 20, 2024

 Fergus has been sleepy today. The hospital is going To keep him for another 24 hours. The surgeon assures Helen that it’s common on the second day. 

   Otherwise there’s little to report. I’ve been sleepy today myself, holding back on the knitting so as not to finish the current long, easy round. I very much like your idea, Tamar and Lisa. I had thought of better lighting, but round-the-neck hadn’t occurred to me.  I’ll get on to Amazon in a moment. 

   Alexander came over this morning. No news. Archie came to lunch.  He seemed well. So did Alexander.

   The weather has been grey, although I think most of the UK has basked in solstice sunshine.

   Wordle: three for me. My starters gave me four browns. I hate anagrams, despite my passion for Wordle. I struggled. I finally thought of a word. It was right.

   Thomas and Mark were with me on three. Alexander and Rachel needed four. Ketki, blast her, had another two. Alexander was modestly proud of her — that’s three in a row.

   Five for Roger — he’s to be congratulated for doing it at all, as they struggle home to DC. Four for Theo. I was wrong about whereabouts yesterday. Roger and Sister-Helen broke the journey in Iceland but weren’t allowed to go see the volcanoes. They should be nearly home by now. 


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

 All well. We’ ve had a picture of Fergus, looking surprisingly well, clutching an empty bowl of what must have been chicken soup. He’s due for release from hospital tomorrow if all continues well.

   I have knit resolutely on, hugely disappointed. I thought that after the first patterned row (of KD’s MKAL shawl) I would be able to see where I was by what had gone before. That’s how you knit lace, just as it’s how you knit Fair Isle.

   But I can’t see it. My poor old eyes? The fact that I’m knitting in garter stitch? In dark yarn? I’ve struggled through the next pattern row, Audiobook off, trying to concentrate on every stitch. It went well, but I doubt if I can keep it up. The pattern is very simple. The stitch count is gradually decreasing. 

   Alternate rounds are purl-all-the-way, normally a great burden, currently a delight to be treasured and not hurried too fast around.

   C. came to see me briefly this morning. Tomorrow I’m expecting both Archie and Alexander.

   Wordle: my starters did it all for me this morning: three. Everybody else did pretty well, too. Two for Ketki, blast her. A fellow-three for Alexander. Fours for Rachel, Mark and Thomas.Three for Theo, four for Roger. I think he and my sister should be safely back in DC by now. I’ll check up tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

 What a day! Helen was here this morning. As she was walking down Broughton Street to Drummond Place she phoned her son Fergus in Thessaloniki. He hadn’t been feeling very well yesterday. Today he felt terrible. She correctly diagnosed appendicitis and phoned her husband David at work.

   He went home and took Fergus to hospital. He has had surgery. The appendix had burst and there is some gangrene, but the surgeon doesn’t seem unduly worried. Helen is on her way to Thessaloniki but won’t be there until tomorrow morning. 

   And that’s about it. I got some knitting done — the first round of the lacy pattern for the borders of the Kate Davies MKAL shawl. It’s very easy — but you don’t need me to tell you that easy can be difficult if it lures you into relaxing. The pattern is essentially feather-and-fan but the technique is unfamiliar. I think I’ve got stitch count and twist straightened out. Tomorrow I can get down to actual knitting.

   Wordle: the issue today was, did your starters give  you the first letter? Mine didn’t. I scored five. That’s fine. All I care about is my winning streak as it creeps up through the 40’s 

   Mark was another five. Thomas four, despite having the first letter. Rachel and Alexander three — he had it, she didn’t. My generalisation is not holding up well at all. Ketki had a totally brilliant two (with the help of the first letter).

   Theo got the first letter early, and scored four. Roger didn’t and joined me among the fives.

Monday, June 17, 2024

 Has the weather turned? The weekly forecast this morning sounded a bit better, and so the day has proved. Not what you’d call warm, but distinctly pleasant. Long may it last.

   Knitting has progressed. I have embarked on the first pattern row of KD’s MKAL shawl, hoping that any initial twist or stitch shortage can be straightened out as we proceed. I’ll know more tomorrow.

   We had an essay this morning about Dancers in Mourning, interesting as always. I still don’t care for it, but context helps.

   Helen came this morning. Her menfolk have left Mt Athos a day early. I think the amount of liturgy on Sunday was too much for them — and the heatwave doesn’t help. 

   Wordle: a green and two browns from my starters. I carelessly put in a Jean-word for line three — one of the browns was still in the same spot. For line four, I at least found a legitimate word although I expected nothing of it. But it was right.

   Four for Ketki and Thomas, as well. Three for Alexander, Mark, and Rachel. In DC, Theo failed - stuck with two and then three greens at the beginning of the word — and Roger had a totally brilliant two. I think Roger is still in London, in fact.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

 More grey, more rain. The newspapers are beginning to notice, but can  promise no relief. Very dispiriting.

   C. came this morning and I heard all about her week in Sicily. It sounds fairly successful and very strenuous. She brought me a delicious-looking jar of anchovies in olive oil. For my breakfast doze this very morning I had been listening to Nigella reading her own “Cook, Eat, Repeat”. The first chapter is all about anchovies. I own the book so I can refer to the actual recipes. Except that they look so plump and delicious in their little jar that I will be loath to open it.

   Mary Lou, I have started to listen to “Wilding” for the intervals when I am fairly wide awake and actually knitting. I’m very grateful to you for suggesting it. We’ve known Strathardle for 60 years now. It has changed a lot although not in the direction of big farms. Our own land, let to the same family for most of that time, doesn’t grow crops any more — oats, turnips, potatoes, raspberry plants for growers in Blairgowrie. It’s all sheep now. And wildlife is undoubtedly diminishing. I can’t remember when I last saw a hare or a hedgehog or a duck. 

   Today, however, I didn’t get any knitting done. I was awake and listening to “Wilding” and untangling the knitting when a neighbour called.

   Anonymous, thank you for your message yesterday about Mt.Athos. It’s still men-only. It’s a special administrative section of Greece, the whole peninsula, which is how they get away with it. I think kittens and eggs and honeybees are not unknown, however.

   Wordle: I forgot to tell you yesterday that my winning streak has passed 40. Today was routine. Two browns and a green from my starters.A brief struggle to think of anything. It was wrong, but helpful. I got it in four.

   Ketki had five. Rachel shared my four. The other four members of the home team all managed it in three. C. also had a three today. Theo had four — he approached it as I did, with the three central squares green on line three. Roger scored three.


Saturday, June 15, 2024

 An off-and-on day. At least London was no better than here, although perhaps warmer. I’ve been watching the Trooping of the Colour, upon which a good deal of rain fell. Britain is a pretty minor league country these days, but we can still do that sort of ceremonial with a wonderful panache.

   The event that really impressed me, panache-wise, was the Princess of Wales’ funeral. How much notice did they have? About a week? And the route, from Kensington Palace to the Abbey, was not a familiar ceremonial one. But as they carried the coffin into the church, you could hear Big Ben striking the hour.

   It was good to see the current Princess of Wales out and about. She looked well.

   I got some more knitting done, although I’m still finding it painfully slow. Thank you for your help with the possible twist, Tamar. Your second suggestion is the one I used long ago when I found a twist in a shawl I was knitting borders-inward, but your first suggestion — ride roughshod — is the one I think I’ll go for.

   Wordle: a lucky three for me today. A green and two browns from my starters. A brief struggle. A plausible word. It was right! Sheer luck. Mark and Alexander and Thomas also had three. Five for Ketki, six for Rachel. They both got stuck with the first letter missing.

      Four for both Theo and Roger.

Friday, June 14, 2024

 A fairly nasty day, cold and windy and wet. Nor can forecasts promise any improvement. This verges on the ridiculous. 

  Knitting went well. I have got the stitch-count of the newly-cast-on border of the KD MKAL shawl pretty well straightened out. The questionof whether it is twisted is still unsolved. This part of the shawl begins with seven rounds in the darkest colour. My poor old eyes have trouble with that shade in straightforward knitting. Counting stitch-numbers over and over again is obviously worse.

   On the other hand, mistakes — and I fear there are many — will not be so obvious in that shade.

   Otherwise a quiet day, spent largely near sleep listening to Nogel Slater reading his own “A Cook’s Book”. He’s one of my faves. I don’t own that one. He’s not — and the book certainly isn’t — vegetarian, but it’s got an impressive range of vegetarian recipes. 

  Helen came to see me, and brought some impressive photographs from Mt.Athos, which David, Mungo and Fergus are currently visiting. Accomodation looks basic but distinctly comfortable. 

  Wordle: six for me. I had a bath this morning, and by the time I settled down to Wordle, was distinctly weak. My starters gave me a green and two browns. I proceeded to enter three successive Jean-words, not randomly but eliminating valuable consonants and establishing possible positions for the letters I had. Six will do — i’m interested only in my winning streak. It’ll be 40 if I get it tomorrow.

    All the other cisAtlantic players scored 5. Theo was another five, and Roger joined me on six.


Thursday, June 13, 2024

 Grey, wet. This is getting very tedious. 

   Helen is back. Her sad mission to Kirkmichael went well. It turns out that our rxcellent gardener had recently lost a dog himself. He had prepared a big-enough hole — Farouk was on the large size, as dogs go. And he stayed for the burial, although it was Helen and Archie who filled in the grave and constructed a temporary monument from the many stones available. 

   Knitting went fairly well, although the ordeal of starting the Second Clue of the MKAL shawl is not yet over. The knitting has been easier since I reached the second garter-stitch-in-the-round round. But I’m still struggling with the stitch count, and the question of whether the knitting is twisted around the needle remains to be solved. It will be a miracle if it isn’t.

    Once we’re past all that, I am hopeful that it will be straightforward. I am knitting four (mildly) lacy borders, edge inwards. So the stitch count will reduce as we go along.

   No visitors apart from Helen. C. will come on Sunday and report on Sicily.

   Wordle: my usual routine today. A green and three browns from my starters. A struggle — I kept thinking of Jean words and virtuously rejecting them. I finally thought of something, indeed was rather proud of it, but it was wrong. But information gained made it easy to score a four on the next line.

   Mark and Alexander had threes. Ketki and Rachel joined me with four. Thomas had an uncharacteristic five. The Americans, Roger and Theo, contributed two more fours. 



Wednesday, June 12, 2024

 Cold, largely but not entirely grey. Roger and sister-Helen are safely in London and she says it’s warmer there. My carer says that she has invited our Helen to lunch tomorrow. I thought she was goong to stay on in Kirkmichael for a couple of days after burying her poor dog.

   I have spent much of the day struggling with the new MKAL clue. I think I have achieved enough that I can face tomorrow, at least. The first instruction was to knit across half of the stitches already present and then to cast on hundreds more with a cable cast on, enough to go around three sides of the centre of a hap shall.

   A struggle. Could I remember the cable cast on? Having done so, I could see no way to do it except to turn the work around and cast on from behind. But if that was right, why did not KD say so? 

   In my shawl-knitting days, I preferred to knit the first few rows of border back-and-forth to be sure there was no twist. In this case, I couldn’t figure out how to do that, so I plunged in. I’m halfway around the first round of garter-stitch-in-the-round. I’m having trouble sliding stitches from the cord to the needle. (Does the word “hasp” come in there?) i’ve given up counting stitches or untwisting them, leaving that all until the next round.

    All of this took up much of the day, as you can imagine. I started listening to The Beckoning Lady, the last Allingham on the club list that I haven’t yet re-read. I’ve never cared for it much, but I suspect it of being the most autobiographical of them all.

   Wordle: a fairly quick and routine one for me today. The starters gave me three browns. Line three turned them into four greens, and I got it on line four.

   Three for Rachel and Mark. Four for Thomas and Ketki and Roger and of course me. Five for Alexander and Theo. 


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

 A sad day. Helen and her family have lost their dear Athenian dog, Farouk. He was old. The end was near. They are deeply distressed. And it must be worse when you have to issue the order of release yourself. I’ve never had to do that. My husband and I sat with our Old Dear Cat in Kirkmichael while she died. And then we didn’t get another one until Perdita. How short that makes life seem.

Helen and Archie are on their way to Kirkmichael for the interment. They stopped here to tell me.

   A sad day, too, because sister-Helen and Roger are (effectively) gone. They came to see me this morning  She is recovering from  a cold and Covid. Roger is fine — he has been all along. They sat on the other side of the room and talked through masks so it wasn’t much of a meeting.

   It wasn’t much of a day otherwise, either. Grey and chilly. I thought I could knit endlessly on the EPS mentioned in the sidebar, but it turns out that the bottom-hem-to-armpit section is pretty nearly — or perhaps entirely — finished and I didn’t feel up to calculation. Meg wrote articles in four successive issues of Knitter’s long ago now, which I have saved and treasured, amplifying and expanding her mother’s pattern.

   (Were those articles ever reproduced by the Schoolhouse Press?)

  So I will be glad tomorrow to have the next clue for the Allingham MKAL. And I’m glad to have my dear, disagreeable cat and I hope she survives me.

   Wordle: yet another stinker; yet another six for me. Again I stuck faithfully to legitimate, possible words and again the practice served me well.

    Today’s stars were Roger and Mark with four. Rachel and Ketki were with me on six. Alexander and Thomas and Theo scored five. (Obviously, not as easy one.) (I’m happy to be able to report that Roger was basking in  his four when he was here this morning.)

Monday, June 10, 2024

 Another mixed day — showers and windy and occasional glimpses of sun. This is getting tedious. I have been feeling restored.

  I got the last of the MKAL knitting done, and am smugly awaiting the second clue on Wednesday.

   The Taylor-Swift-ification of Edinburgh brought all three of James’ and Cathy’s children here yesterday. Rachel is working at the Wallace Collection and enjoying it. Kirsty is finishing a post-graduate year of playwriting and doesn’t know what’s coming next. Alistair lives here in Edinburgh. He didn’t go to Taylow Swift but sent his girlfriend. It was very, very expensive.

   Helen came this morning. She says sister-Helen and Roger will come tomorrow, and that they’re well. They’re going to London on Wednesday, thence DC. C. will be back from Sicily soon. It will be interesting to learn how hot it was, given the circumstances of Michael Mosley’s death. It’s certainly not hot here.

   Wordle: another stinker today. I typed in nothing but possible answers and just as well. I got it in six, and only because I hadn’t wasted any guesses on Jean-words. I typed in the only pronounceable word given the remaining letters, and it was right. 

   Nobody failed, thank goodness, but Roger and Theo and Thomas also heeded six. Rachel and Mark and Ketki all scored five, Mark adding an emoji the purpose of which, I think, was to express irritation. Alexander got four, highly commendable in the circumstances.  



Sunday, June 09, 2024

 A languid day, rather welcome. I slipped getting into bed last night and slid gracefully to the floor, supported by my carer. No harm done, except that I was on the floor. After a certain amount of faffing about, I  sent her down to the flat below. Our neighbour came up and hoisted me fairly easily into bed.

   No harm done, as I say, but I have felt a bit shaken and stirred today. Sunny and cold again. 

   Kate Davies’ club produced an interesting essay about Allingham today, by Julia Jones who recently published a good biography. I knew Allingham eventually became stout, but the pictures with today’s essay make her look fairly hefty from the start. Her characters — Campion and Amanda, at least — are quite remarkably slender into late middle age.

   I haven’t done any more knitting on the MKAL. It’s time I finished that long row— or is it two? — before the next clue arrives.

   I am sorry about Michael Mosley’s death. Mostly, these days, I haven’t heard of well known people. I have only just heard of Taylor Swift by whom Edinburgh is gripped at the moment. But I had heard of Dr Mosley and enjoyed his radio programme Just One Thing where he told us every week Just One Thing we could do right now to improve our lives or, failing that, the world. 

   Mary Lou, thank you for the tip about “Wilding” (comment yesterday).  That sounds just right. I’ll report back.

   Wordle: another three for me.. Same pattern — a green consonant and brown vowel from my starters. A struggle to think of any word for them. My starters contain all the vowels except Y and five consonants from the top of the letter frequency alphabet. And when I finally got one, it was right.

    Ketki was a fellow-three. Rachel and Mark and Theo scored four. Alexander had a five and Thomas six. They both got stuck with the first three letters green. Roger had a triumphant three, after his dismal two-day streak of failure.

   He and my sister are here in Edinburgh, staying with Helen. They had planned to go to London today, I think. That’s been postponed until Wednesday. And our lunch at the Blue Snail yesterday, cancelled altogether. Sadness. But I gather they’re getting better.

Saturday, June 08, 2024

 A good day, although still cool.

  The new carer and I are settling down well.

   I’m still somewhat short of reading material. For dozing I have gone on with Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and for the rare moments of attention, Persuasion, but I need a new book. (Tamar, I love your suggestion — comment yesterday — of Sugar, Salt, Grease, and Black Crunchy Bits.)

   Lisa, I read and listened to Fuschia Dunlop’s book about a year a go, when I was in that care home. It’s very good. Maybe I should listen again. And Eileen, I’ve started Tom Lake — Helen and C. are keen — and got bogged down. I couldn’t keep the daughters straight.  I’ll go back to the beginning and start again when I finish or abandon Petsuasion. Thanks to both.

   No knitting, but that was deliberate.

   Wordle: my sister won’t play because she thinks its too competitive. It isn’t. But I can’t resist telling you nevertheless that mine was the only three yesterday. I very much doubt if that has ever happened before.

   A variation on a familiar pattern today. The starters provided two greens and a brown. Titanic struggle. I finally came up with something. Was it a word? Wordle accepted it. Four greens now. I got it on the next line.

   Theo matched my feat of yesterday — he had the only three. Mark and Thomas and Ketki were my fellow-four today. Rachel and Alexander had five, and Roger failed again. I think he must be coming down with Covid. My sister has already been diagnosed with it. They are safely back here in Edinburgh with Helen and have postponed their visit to London for a few days.



Friday, June 07, 2024

Bright, cheerful-looking sunshine, but cold again.

It has been a busy day, but successful. My sister and Roger are on their way back from their cruise. I haven’t heard from them yet. I think it would be safer if we didn’t meet.

Helen was here for the prolonged carer-handover. We are switching not only carers but also agency. All seems well. Considerable saving.

I didn’t do much knitting, deliberately. But I think I have something mindless on the needles which will tide me over until the next MKAL clue. I’ll look tomorrow.

I’m equally lost on what to read. I have been dozing to Nigella reading her How To Cook. I’ve got the book, and like it. But listening to it straight through, I was horrified at the amount of sugar and fat. Nigella posted a chicken salad on Youtube the other day, and I was interested to note that she has grown rather stout.

For dozing I have switched to Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, which I also own as a book and which is also read by its author. Better, I think. But I need a novel, now that I’ve re-read all the Allinghamx I want to re-read. 

Wordle:  I misled you the other day. My current winning streak is 32, not 42. That’s less than half of my all-time high of 67. My most recent failure was with SHAVE on May 6. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I scored three again today — that’s twice in a row. The same sort of thing — starters yielded one green consonant and two brown vowels. It was a considerable effort to think of any qualifying word. When I got one, it was right. I no longer subscribe to the Times’ analysis so I have no idea how many possible alternatives I stumbled innocently past. 

 And at the moment — nearly 7pm — mine is the only three.

  Four for Mark, Thomas and Rachel. Five for Alexander and Ketki. Roger failed. And Theo hasn’t been heard from. He’s one of the bright stars and is still entirely capable therefore of equalling or eclipsing my  three.

Thursday, June 06, 2024

    Another bright, coldish day. Frost figured in the Scottish weather forecast this morning. Yesterday we had some snow. 

   Helen and Mungo came to see me today. He is her middle son, resident in Cairo where he means to stay for a while. I didn’t really get to see much of him, as I had a house call from Specsavers. I’ve got some macular degeneration — not good news. My father was pretty well blinded by it at the end of his life. When they told him he was losing his sight, he read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. Maybe I should do that. I’ve read a fair amount of it, but never got all the way through.

   Knitting went well. I have only a row or two to go on the first MKAL clue, and I’ve straightened out the stitch count which wasn’t as far off as I feared. Now I need something absolutely straightforward to occupy my hands until the next clue arrives next week. I’m supposed to revert to Fergus’ Calcutta Cup sweater but that’s too complicated. 

   My sister seems somewhat recovered. Their cruise ends tomorrow. That will also be the day when my current carer — Precious by name and Precious by nature — hands over to someone else, from a different agency, to save money. It’ll be scary. I’m completely helpless.

   Wordle: three for me today. My starters produced four browns and when my subsequent struggles finally produced a word, it was right.

  Mark was with me on three. The rest pf the British team had fours. Theo and Roger — the latter still at sea, or course — both had fives 

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

 Lovely sunshine. Everybody says it’s cold, however. No more news of my sister, tossing about amidst the western isles with a bad cold. I am worried about her, and about my fragile lungs when she gets back. I’ve got through the whole winter without episode. The dr has given me a prescription for an antibiotic so that I can start it right away when trouble threatens. So far unused.

    Knitting progresses well. I’m now down to the last four long, long rows — and the new clue won’t arrive until next week. What a wonderful club! Except that now I’ve got to count stitches and adjust numbers if necessary. And also find some easy knitting to fill in a few days. I ought to go back to Fergus’ Calcutta Cup sweater, but that’s too much like hard work. 

   The references were to Kate Davies’ summer Margery Allingham club, the related MKAL in particular.

   Fergus had a grand time at the Dior show at Drummond Castle. The young men in kilts, including Fergus, were clearly on hand to hold umbrellas over models if it rained, but it didn’t. Most of them came from a model agency in Glasgow and got paid a lot. But Fergus was the one chosen to open car doors and welcome the famous guests. I haven’t heard of any of them except Emma Raducanu.

   Wordle: today my starters gave me a green consonant and two brown vowels. I struggled mightily — line three is always the tough one — and finally thought of a dim possibility, which Wordle accepted. I now had three greens and two browns so all I had to do was transpose the browns. Four for me.

   I was interested to see that Ketki and I had the same configuration in line three. Our line-three word — it must have been the same one — is a good deal more unusual than the right answer in line four.

   Never mind. My winning streak is now 40 and that’s all I care about.

   Mark had three. He’s awfully good at this. Rachel and Thomas four. Alexander and Theo five. Four for Roger, who of course is also tossing about in the western isles. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

 Another sunny day, although I’m told ii’s chilly in the wind. Helen and David were here this morning. Sister-Helen, on her cruise, has developed a nasty-sounding cold. I’ve been pretty dopey.

  With no knitting. That’s bad. I’m now down to the last 10 enormously long rows of the first clue of the Allingham MKAL and I must press forward with them. 

   I have discovered how enormously soothing it is to listen to the Audible version of an Allingham I know fairly well, while dozing. It doesn’t matter if I fall asleep because I know it well enough to pick up the thread when consciousness returns.

   I’m currently doing that with More Work for the Undertaker. I think that’s the last suitable Allingham. Maybe  I could try the same thing with Il Gattopardo next. 

   Wordle: I had a titanic struggle this morning, and was very glad indeed to scrape home with a six. My starters gave me a green and one brown. A good guess (but wrong) for line three turned the brown green. A Jean-word in line four — I was desperate — was no use at all, except to eliminate a couple of consonants. A wild guess in line five added another green.

   Four for Ketki, Rachel, Mark and Roger. Five for Theo, Alexander, and Thomas. Is that everybody? Yes.

Monday, June 03, 2024

 Another summer’s day. Maybe we’re getting somewhere.

   Helen and David came to see me. Their news was that their youngest  son Fergus, who is doing odd jobs for an agency, has been recruited for duty at Dior’s summer show at Drummond Castle near Perth this evening. Perhaps they asked for recruits who could provide their own kilts. We all look forward eagerly to his account of the evening, at least; and at the other extreme, we imagine him swept forward into the mainstream of international fashion modelling. Fergus is tall and handsome. He ran a marathon last weekend.

   KD has released another pattern in her Allingham club, another stunner, a cardigan. And another essay, this one about popular fiction, related to Flowers for the Judge, and very interesting indeed. What a wonderful club this is proving to be!

  Meanwhile I am having a good time reading/listening to Coroner’s Pigeon, a wartime book, not in the club, written next after Traitor’s Purse. 

  Wordle: the usual four for me. Starters provided a green and three browns. Line three was perfectly plausible, but wrong. Four greens. Horror! Was this a Wordle Special? Mercifully, no. There was only one possibility (I think) and I got it.

   Thomas, Alexander and Mark all had the same configuration of four greens. Alexander and Mark scored threes. Thomas had a comforting (to me) five. Ketki had another three, with a different approach, and Rachel an utterly brilliant two.

   Of the Americans, Theo scored five and Roger — it must be that sea air — another brilliant two 



Sunday, June 02, 2024

 I’m pecking this out on the iPad in the kitchen again, but I have noted with interest and gratitude what you say (comments yesterday) about increasing brightness and font size on the laptop.

   Another sunny day. My sister and her husband, cruising the Western isles, are having duller weather, and something of a noisy young crowd aboard which is not a problem C. and I ever had on a Majestic Line cruise.

   C. came to see me this morning, looking very summery. She is off to Sicily tomorrow, happy woman. 

   Helen and David and Fergus just popped in, home from their weekend down souff. It’s good to know they’re back.

   No knitting. Shameful. There may be time for a long row or two before bed. I’ve had a nice time re-reading Traitor’s Pitse.

   Wordle: three for me. A distinguished score, except that Rachel scored two. My starters gave me two adjacent greens and a brown vowel. I struggled for quite a while, unable to think of any qualifying word or even a Jean-word. Nothing. Then I thought of one and it was right,

.   We were spread out. Mark was a fellow-three. Four for Ketki. Five for Alexander and Thomas.  Four for Theo in DC. Five for Roger in the Western Isles.


Saturday, June 01, 2024


June 1, and a truly summer’s day here.. Helen and Roger have sailed off into the western isles, and daughter-Helen has gone to London to meet her husband David and go off to a memorial service, in Waes I believe. Everything is suddenly very quiet here. C. is coming tomorrow. I am typing on the laptop’ in the kitchen. It is very hard to see the screen. I think maybe my eyesight has taken a lurch downwards – it’s very hard to read the screen.

   Knitting progresses. The rows are now unbelievably long. I have eight or nine more of them to finish before I am done with the first clue of the Allingham MKAL. I should just about do it before the next one comes in. I’ve re-read/listened to pretty well all of the books. Anonymous: I think Allingham’s beast are Traitor’s Purse (which you’ve already read), Tiger in the Smoke, and Hide my Eyes. All late, all London. I’ve got a couple more late ones to revisit – More Work for the Undertaker, and the one where Campion comes back from the war and gets held up in London by a murder before he can get down to the country to re-join his wife and the son he has never met before. (What’s that one called?)

   Wordle: My first starter gave me two greens and a brown today. I thought I’d try for a two. The attempt yielded nothing except, of course, one more place where the brown couldn’t go. I meekly  typed in my second starter. Another brown. I got it in four.

Rachel and Alexander did it in three. The rest of the cisatlantic team were fours, like me. In DC Theo was a most distinguished two, the best score of the day. And Roger another four – he, of curse, is not in DC but sailing out past Ardnamurchan Point.