Friday 30 November 2018

A True Toy Story

Whimsical Tarot

This music must be played, as it's relevant to the topic for a certain generation of BBCRadio 1 listeners:

Most children have one, I think - a lovey, I've heard it called: some stuffed toy, usually an animal of some sort, that has been a loyal and loved companion since birth or very soon after.

Destructo Boy has three: 2 stuffed dogs, the first one given him before birth by Belo; the 2nd is exactly the same - I found it in a tub in Woolworths by joyful accident and bought it immediately as a possible replacement in case the worst happened to dog #1. Nothing special, not expensive.

The third is a teddy bear from Laura Ashley - and it was not cheap; I bought it for him when he was about 5 or 6 years old on his express promise that he would love it and care for it forever.

Here are the boys:

As you can see, some have worn better than others. Here is Toby, the youngest:

And here is Barney:

And here is poor Arnie, firstest and bestest and mostest loved of all:

Barney was never an acceptable substitute for Arnie - there was some undefinable difference that no-one else could see except Destructo Boy. Perhaps his ears didn't rub as smoothly and as satisfyingly between the fingers. Perhaps his stuffing didn't roll as it should through the hands. Perhaps one eye was a micron more to the left. Whatever it was doesn't really matter - what matters is that he was Not The Same.

When he got up in the morning, Destructo Boy would often tuck the boys back in before he left for school. When I went in to check on him before bed, he would always have all three in bed with him, Arnie and Barney usually draped across his neck.

Suddenly I would find the boys at the end of the bed, not tucked in and at risk of falling to the floor.

Then they were down the side of the bed amongst the random detritus and dust of an active boy.

Then one day I couldn't find them. They were buried under a pile of rugby clothes. Dirty, muddy rugby clothes.

When questioned, Destructo Boy announced baldly he was too old for them now and had no need of them.

Friend, I removed them to the safe haven of a shelf in my bedroom, and I wept.

Friday 26 October 2018

In for a Penny ....

Halloween Tarot

.... in for a pound. Having already crashed one car within 3 months of passing my test, I am obviously not a quitter, since on the spur of the moment I decided it would be a great idea to drive about 300 miles, to Wales (the other side of the country from me) to visit with Uber Cool Brother for a week this summer.

I took Belo and Destructo Boy with me, numerous instructions from Titch, and of course, Google maps with the voice turned on. This meant a lovely road trip on a gorgeous sunny day (we have had The Best Weather Ever this summer) down some road near Milton Keynes with a million roundabouts, and a speedy zip down the M4, over the bridge to somewhere near Swansea.

I had the foresight to stay with UCB's hospitable and livewire girlfriend, who has all mod cons like a kitchen, bathroom, running water, and not living on a building site; the boys preferred to tough it out camping-style. We did some Culture (or rubble, as Destructo Boy refers to these kinds of places):

The people in the office were very friendly, and allowed us into the Chapel, built by Lady Aline - married politically at age 7, with the inevitable tragic aftermath. There was supposed to be some kind of event that day, but they didn't even finish setting up because the weather was awful - cold, damp, gloomy:

view of The Mumbles from Oystermouth Castle

You'll be glad to know that summer also reached Wales on occasion, and while we were there, too !

Oxwich Bay

The beaches in the west are full of sand, not pebbles and stones like our local beaches, something Destructo Boy appreciated - if not the huge distance between shore and waves.

But enough with the tourist/travel guide, and more of the LYS guide. Literally a 5 minute walk from Livewire Girlfriend's house was a small industrial estate, with a LYS nestled amongst manufacturing businesses and a gym:

Gower Yarns

Perhaps not the prettiest frontage you've seen, but the inside was a knitter's Aladdin's cave:

1 section of the downstairs

1 section of the upstairs - more yarn, and fabric !
I was made to feel very welcome, with excellent customer service - my coat taken, I was offered a cup of tea or coffee, and allowed to browse to my heart's content, eventually leaving with a pin cushion (I'd been looking for the 'right' one to replace the old, soggy one for ages):

Well, yes, of course I bought yarn too ! It would have been rude not to, let alone of course I needed a souvenir of the trip, right ?

Two lots of Sirdar Ophelia, which I didn't need at all, but for which I have Plans.

I had a restful, peaceful time while Destructo Boy mountain-biked and climbed waterfalls and other Outdoor Things with my brother; I was especially grateful and appreciative of Livewire Girlfriend's generosity and hospitality, which extended into cooking most of the delicious dinners - as you know, my least favorite domestic chore.

I definitely want to return, but dragging Titch and Mini Diva with me next time. And next time I will make a day trip out to Pembroke and Tenby,

Sunday 21 October 2018

Better Late ...

Halloween Tarot

.... than never. 

I've been offline as my PC finally bit the dust, replaced with a lovely new Lenovo desktop and Windows 10 instead of Vista. Yes, I know, I can't believe that either: the same PC and OS for over 10 years ! That's why I missed posting for our wedding anniversary - 16 years with never a cross word. 

Yes, a TOTAL lie. There's times where if we hadn't have had that piece of paper I would have been long gone, and my incomplete sets of crockery and glassware along with scarred walls are testament to our arguments: no real harm done, though, as it turns out, my aim is tragically affected by emotion. Marriage and kids are hard, y'all.

But mostly it's like today, when I come downstairs and see Titch as if I'd just met him - stunningly good-looking, smiling, magnetic, welcoming. And I'm glad we're still here.

Saturday 15 September 2018


Darkana Tarot

 A major achievement for me within the last year was to take driving lessons and pass both my theory and practical driving tests on the first attempt: I had several motivators - Mini Diva's rugby training, games and events happening more frequently and regularly in far more rural and further away locations (Titch can't perform taxi duties as he works away all week); the levels of anxiety and panic brought on by being a passenger in a car ... what do you mean, control issues ?? .... And a need to get to work not relying on public transport, which means I can do the early shifts I prefer.

I couldn't have done this without the support of my lovely MIL who doesn't understand the concept of non-drivers - living in what I would call remote rural locations for much of her life probably fuels that view (see what I did there ?) and of course, Titch, who not only helped me with major cheerleading, but enabled the purchase of the kind of car I wanted/needed although it really doesn't suit him.

 Actually, it's not quite that bad, but it is still not built to his scale.

Within about 3 months I had managed to do this:

 I was fine, just shocked and really upset. I'd only been moving at 10mph - it's amazing what damage can be done at low speeds: Shidare-zakura (Weeping Cherryblossom) was a write-off.

Titch was very keen for me to get back in the saddle asap; I think he had concerns that I'd never get into any car ever again. So we found this, same make, slightly different model:

And having learned from poor naming habits, this one has been christened Hinagiku (Daisy) - no hint of weeping this time. I love these old-style Honda CR-Vs: they sit quite high, LOTS of glass and therefore visibility, 4x4, they are chunky and sturdy, reliable, plenty of trunk/boot space (this model even includes a built-in picnic table!) and of course, an automatic, with the gear stick on the steering column. Needless to say, perhaps the most crucial design element of all, is the cup-holder .... My driving instructor considered her to be large, but Wilhelmina, of sainted memory, was what I consider large:

approx. 15 1/2 ft long, I know because we measured

 Since then, I have driven to Twickenham via the North Circular, to Wales and back to visit with my Uber Cool Brother, and up to Lincolnshire to visit with my new twin grand-nieces. And not only did I survive to tell the tale, but so did my passengers - in spite of the musical selections !

While fitting new tyres, the garage broke her hard wheel-cover; it proved too challenging to source another one in the right color, so I took it as an opportunity to customize:

 I found the pattern on Ravelry, and sourced it from an Etsy seller in Canada - I love the interwebz. How else could you find a crochet magazine from 1989 ?

It is a doily pattern, and to upsize it simply (read: lazily) I used SuperChunky acrylic yarn. I need to revisit this pattern and make it to include the daisies in the border - perhaps Aran-weight this time ....

EDITED TO ADD: I am claiming that this detailed post about my motoring triumphs (and failure) was a planned, purposeful expansion of my previous post; having spent too much time putting it together, and posting it, I realized with horror that my menopausal memory - or rather, serious lack of same - means I spoke about this last time. Apologies xx


Tuesday 4 September 2018

So Now I'm Back ...

Housewives Tarot

.... from outer space ...

Well, no, not really. But it might as well have been, this last year. 

Hello again, my friends - I've had a quick tidy-up round the edges, removed dead links on the blog roll etc. now let's see if I can maintain a weekly post.

Forest Folklore


Much has happened since last we spoke - the most upsetting being the death of our quirky landlady last summer, which forced us to move house (on Hallowe'en). Our new house is a Victorian end-terrace, much smaller, much further away from school - so most unpopular with the kids, as it's a long walk to school and nowhere near any of their friends; in fact, we are only 5 minutes walk from a different high school, but Mini Diva wanted to stick with the courses she'd chosen, and Destructo Boy wants to stay in the same school as his friends. We miss our old neighbors and neighborhood, we miss the large airy rooms, the conservatory, the 2nd toilet, and Inky the cat, who roamed and hardly returns since spring. Most of our books and much of our furniture is in the garage - it simply won't fit in this house.

On the plus side, it has an actual back garden with grass, not just a patio; it could be seen as cosy and snug; the kitchen is massive; it is 5 mins from the dog park - Sebastian is pretty creaky and gray suddenly, and doesn't want or need the long walks to, round and from the big main park anymore (we have turned into those people who drive to walk their dog). It is next door to the local corner shop; it is close to 2 good bus routes into town. 

squeeze them as hard as you can

And in an attempt to master my car-related anxiety and panic attacks, I took driving lessons and passed both my theory and practical tests on the first go. We then bought a little old car that ticked all my boxes (high, lots of glass for visibility, solid, not huge) and within 3 months I did this:


 Not bad when I was going a mere 10 mph. There were many, many tears. And my insurance is even more extortionate now. (I was fine, just shaken up and upset). We bought another new-to-me Honda CR-V, this one christened Hinagiku; the garage broke her wheel cover, which gave me the opportunity to really customize some decor:

I get lots of great comments about this, from all kinds of people

 I work full-time outside the home now, so my crochet and knitting time has really suffered - this year so far I have completed only 10 items, and 9 of those were baby items ... for my sister's middle daughter's twins, born in June. My sister would have absolutely loved them, and being a grandmother.

Speaking of knitting for twins - how to make things the same, but different ?

I decided to invert the colors:


Vintage pattern Emu Treasure 8561, using WI Soft & Silky in pink, yellow and lilac mix.

To use plain and self-striping colorways of the same yarn:

UKHKA6 in WYS Signature 4ply in 'Pennyroyal' and the self-striping version ' Woodpigeon'

To use a pattern that offers two versions (here, differing stitch patterns) :


Vintage pattern Peter Pan P551 in Hayfield Baby Blossom DK in 353 'Buttercup'.

And lastly, the same colors but different patterns:

Textured Baby Blanket and Lilac Lily Baby Blanket, both in Scheepjes Colorcrafter Weert, Urk (yes, I know, I laugh every time), Amstelveen, Amersfoort, Heerlen and Alphen - or, white, aqua, purple, pink, lilac, and teal.

 My goodness, I'm exhausted. I forgot how much time and effort creating a blog post can take ! Especially when your computer crashes halfway through ...

As ever, I welcome any comments.