Wednesday, September 28, 2005

363 stitches!

Finally, some progress on my daughter's pink cardigan! Just do it, as they say. I have been poking along with the tiny cotton on the 3 mm needles, but finally reached the length for the body and have had the thrill of adding the sleeves on, so I am working on 363 stitches on short circulars! I couldn't find a longer one, so I am using 2 16" circs. Lucky for me the stitch count goes down, down, down, as I decrease the raglan sleeves every other row, and at the neck, as well! Finished in no time, right?? Stay tuned!

Now all I have to do is a dang buttonband for Stephen's cardigan, and I'm able to start MY sweater!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New toys, ribbons of all sorts

Did a wee bit of shopping this morning. I figured I wanted the book Scarf Style, since I've been seeing great things knit from it on various blogs. And I went to three bookstores and found not a single copy of it, but of course I found lots of other things. I saw The Celtic Collection, which I had thought out of print, but I knew I'd never actually knit anything out of it, and I just can't stand looking at the model in that book! Holy eyeshadow, Batman! So I put that back. And I saw other scarf books, but they seemed second-best, so I put them back, too. But then, holy smokes, I found 200 Knitted Blocks! Wowee wow wow. (I can't find a link with my cover -- maybe different covers in North America and England?) I'm a sucker for those nice bright colours and oh-so-neat squares! I wonder if I have the patience to knit enough similar squares to make one of the blankets pictured. I think I would make 'em all different! Anyways, it will be fun to look at for a while... until I've finished some of what I've started! And really, I'm working on it...

And as you can see I also got me some pansies, some maps (the scale is 4 cm to 1 km, or 2.5 inches to the mile!) so we can find every little hedgerow around here, and a wondrous thing they call a Romanesco broccoli, but which I've always called broccoflower. Tastes like broccoli, looks like it comes from outer space.

This weekend was the fair near my parents' place in British Columbia. I got them to enter a scarf I had made, in the "knitted article -- any other" category, and I got a third. They didn't actually go to the fair, so I don't know what my competition was! But since this was all kind of spur of the moment, I'm happy to get a ribbon. My dad got two firsts and a second, and my sister a second and two thirds. I think it helps if you study your categories. Who knew you could win a ribbon for using scrap wood to make something useful? I'll enjoy the ribbon when it gets here, and I'm thinking of next year!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A couple more post boxes!

Well, I forgot to take pictures last night when we met some old friends of friends, we have done no new exciting travelling, and the knitting today is just the same as it was a few days ago (though I had a brainwave about the denim: I won't have to worry about the pieces fitting together after the shrinking if I knit the blanket all in one piece! Duh!) so I am falling back on pillar boxes for blog fodder.

I am hot on the trail of another cool wall box, but I think these are the last two pictures in my collection that you haven't seen.

This first is Elaine with the two pillar boxes in the market. One is George VI and one is Elizabeth II. You can see that the later designers allowed a bigger slot for the envelopes!

And our last Scottish box. This is in Oban, where we were switching from ferry to bus on our return from Mull. For some reason this George VI is very short!

A while ago I asked why a pillar box on Mull would have the crown but no royal cipher. No one gets the fame and glory of having got the right answer. And that is, that you can't talk about Elizabeth II in a country that had no Elizabeth I. You might remember Elizabeth I had some difficulty with Mary Queen of Scots!

I got this info from here.

"When pillarboxes containing the cipher EIIR were erected in Scotland, some found this unacceptable, arguing that as there had never been a Queen Elizabeth of Scotland, this cipher was inaccurate.
After some boxes were blown up in protest and others painted with tar, the Post Office relented and Scottish boxes bore the Scottish Crown but no royal cipher."

So I am off to knit my big, one-piece denim blanket, a button band for Stephen's sweater, the pink cotton, and whatever else is in the pile...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The sky's the limit

Sandy wants pictures of the sky, so here are a couple for ya. You might think this is a bad picture of a building, but it's really a picture of the blue peeking through the stonework at the top, and the soft white clouds and the hard white spires reaching up into them. This is at King's College in Cambridge.
And another picture of the clouds being raked by my son! Just to prove that the English sky is variable, these were taking within hours of each other.

Happy Birthday, Sydney!

Today is my sister Sydney's birthday! So here's a big bunch of flowers! I'm sure her garden is almost harvested, with the tomatoes and beans and all the good stuff getting canned and frozen and put away for the winter. Happy birthday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

News from the knitting front

I once bought some Twilley's cotton denim yarn. It's in two colours (let's call them dark blue and lighter blue) and I have enough to make a little blanket, I think. I'm still a bit nervous about this, since the yarn will shrink when first washed, and so just how am I supposed to make bits that will all fit together? Specially when I don't really know what exactly I'm making... I started out wanting a cabled blanket, but first I knit this lacy square, which I love.
Then I got the genius idea of making a baby blanket with the DNA cable and hearts, coz that's what babies are made of, right?

The long bit you see here is supposed to be the hearts (and yes, I just changed colours mid-strip). I don't have my whole knitting library here, or I might have tried something like Alice Starmore's cabled hearts, but I saw this lace pattern and thought I could pull it off as hearts. So, got it? They're hearts, not just lacy Vs! "But", I said to myself, "those are not at all cables!" Right-ho. So I started the DNA cable. I think this looks great in light coloured thickish wool, but in this it was making a tiny strip, even when I put the two DNAs together. The cabling is not regular and I had to keep looking at the pattern to see what I was doing, and this is no fun! So yesterday, after taking this picture, I ripped out the DNA and started another piece of lace and rope cable. So you can look forward to a bunch of various lacy, cably squares in the future. I have to make all the bits and then wash them, and then figure out how to put them all together. I read Polly's tips on working with denim, and I love the one which reminds us to throw a piece of the yarn in the wash to sew it all up with, because if you sew it with unwashed yarn, it will shrink later, making a mess of your work.
And what the heck is this, you say? This is a picture of a carpet which I cut out of some house-beauty magazine when we were renovating our house a few years ago. We still don't have a carpet in the living room, but I think this will be the template for my Summer Tweed sweater! Of course, I have more colours, and a sweater will not be that long and thin, so I could spend some time with some graph paper, but I think one could fudge this on the needles.

And the knitters among you may know about the project going on at Mason-Dixon Knitting. Ann is leading the world's knitters in a great consensus building exercise, out of which will come, somehow, the perfect handknit! So far we seem to have picked a yarn, and now we are baring our souls about our knitting highs and lows, or "proud" and "sorry" moments. When I was packing to come to England, I was in Toronto in August, and the idea of wearing a sweater seemed crazy. But I knew I had to have some. So I packed a few essentials, and soon had a suitcase filled with wool, cotton, outdoor, indoor, cardigan, pullover... so I had to edit a bit. But I did end up bringing this one, which is one of my "prouds." Although once again this did not turn out the way I had thought it would. I started collecting loose balls of Lopi from sale bins. I thought that way I could get some accent colours and then buy enough of one main colour and make myself a nice knit-in-the-round Icelandic, round-neck pullover. But I just kept finding more and more colours in the odd balls, and never stopped to pick a main body colour, so I had to change my plans a bit. It is a great warm sweater and I get lots of comments on it when I wear it. (This picture is taken from above and it makes it look like I have a gigantic body and tiny head, but I assure you I'm a more or less normally proportioned person!)
And what of the pink cotton, and the sweater I just have to sew some seams on...? Well, um, I'll save that for another post!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Getting together!

We just had a great weekend visit with some Canadian friends! And so we had to spruce the place up a bit, mow the lawn and all, right? As you can see the front lawn is not really very large (a bit bigger than a beach towel) and so the kids got out the clippers and set to work! They carefully cut, raked, swept and then packed all the cuttings into a bucket, jumping up and down to pack it all in. It was quite a hoot, actually, and got us out in the front of the house, where we rarely go, and we met a neighbour we hadn't met before and the children did not squabble for an hour! Give 'em a crazy job to do, and all is well.

Once upon a time I worked with Katherine at a newspaper. I answered the phones and photocopied things and she was my supervisor, though I remember afternoons where she went into the back room to finish a painting for her art classes. Not sure what she was supposed to be doing! It was very boring job with crappy pay, but the staff were all a laugh a minute, and the boss was crazy. Once my coworker was sent out for 24 beer which we all drank while listening to the budget speech on the CBC. I guess the paper was out for that week already! Anyways, I met some great people there and have kept in touch with quite a few. Katherine married Barry and they live in London now. Margrit is Katherine's friend from when they were 9 or something, and she came to England for a holiday and they all came up here for the weekend. In this picture we are on a bridge from which we can look down on punters, and it was generally decided that none of us really wanted to do the punting, and none of us really wanted to fork over the £10 each to pay for a punter, and there were other fun things to do anyways. Mature and reasonable thinking, to my mind. I like the idea of punting, but actually it's fraught with stress. So we showed them the Round Church and some colleges, took them to the Eagle pub for gigantic portions of fish and chips, found a new Edward VII post box, they ate all my cheese....
We did take the city sightseeing bus, which was especially thrilling for the kids because on Sundays the bus goes down special pedestrian streets it doesn't usually go on! We all froze, because it was supposed to be sunny and 20 degrees Celsius, but it wasn't. But one must sit at the front of the open-topped double-decker anyways!
This is Elaine trying to push over Kings College Chapel! We started the silly picture theme earlier when they held up the garden rakes to look like they were raking the clouds and stuff. Got to get better at this! We are still pretty good at other silly photographs, like the perennial favourite, the couch picture.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The personal touch

Here are some things specially for a few friends, coz I know they will be thrilled...

Here's a chicken for my sister Diane, just to add a chicken and some nice colour to her day. Isn't he lovely?! He was at the children's farm in Tobermory on Mull. Very shiny... And she should share that chicken with her husband, whose 65th birthday it is tomorrow! He is a sailor of the seven seas, he can fix anything mechanical, and he's a dang good cook, too. Happy birthday!

Arthur's friend James sent him some cool sticky plastic stuff that we used for window decorations, and here's the pic. Actual postcard might get written and sent any day now. It's hard to take a picture of a kid and a window, especially with the sun in the kid's eyes. You can probably see HELLO, and the line of yellow below has "everyone" cleverly cut into it, and the thing above is a Thunderbirds ship with ... I'm not sure what the purple signifies. Zooming, I'm betting.

I'm getting Stephen's sweater seamed up, but as it's pretty boring doing it, I'm sure it'd be boring to look at a picture of it. Look, a sleeve attached to a body! Look, ends to sew in! But one day, you'll see the whole thing!
And we are getting ready for a wee visit from some friends from the old country (ie Canada) tomorrow. We get to be the tour guides here! That'll be fun!

Now for a little post office quiz. Here you see a modern pillar box from Fionnphort on Mull. It has a crown, and the words Royal Mail, but no royal cypher. So, who knows why? The prize will be fame and glory.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

More post boxes!

Not more post boxes!
Yes, indeed!
Now, I just take pictures of post boxes and like to see them, but I'm not a nut about them, really! The people who know all about them are here. And here. And here. And probably all over the place! And in Bath there's a whole postal museum, which I'll tell you all about if I ever get there!

This one is a wall-mounted Victorian one, at the entrance to Queens' College. You can see a small VR and a crown at the top of it.

This one is on Mull, and as you can see they had to build the wall to install the wall box in! This was taken on the pouring-rain day, so no children would pose with it for scale.

This has got to be one of the most far-flung Victorian post boxes! It is on Iona, the tiny island off the small island of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland! I included the two pictures, to show the lovely decoration on the top, and the knitted garment Elaine is wearing. That would be a mini-not-a-clapper, a bias-knit, dropped-stitch scarf I made after seeing the millions of pictures of the Clapotis. I didn't use the pattern, because I think there were problems of internet access while moving or something. Anyways, there ya go. The Clapotis and the hexagonal Victorian pillar box. What could be better?

And here is Arthur and a VR on Jesus Lane in Cambridge.

And a George V wall box (he just put GR, since there had been no postboxes when previous Georges were king -- at least that's my theory). This was taken when we were on our way to a museum in Cambridge... Classical Archeology? Anyways, it was closed!

We're almost done with my collection of postal paraphanalia, honest. I can slip the last few in later and you'll hardly notice.

On another note, we are planning for the school holiday at the end of October. I guess everyone in the whole country can go on holiday at the same time... We're thinking Salisbury. There's Stonehenge nearby, another big fancy church, countryside, a town with things to do if it rains... post boxes, almost certainly... Not sure how many train changes we'd have to put up with... Anyways, I was in the library looking at their amazing collection of guide books, and there was a book on the shelf that was not a paperback Let's Go, Lonely Planet, or Level Guide, or whatever, but a hardcover picture book, and look at the sweater on the cover! Who wouldn't want to go sit at the seaside in one's Kaffe Fassett masterpiece?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The first post box issue

Cool thing #58 about England: post boxes. They are nicely shaped, solid, bright red, ubiquitous, and one can get a bit obsessive about "collecting" them. Here are some of the Victorian ones we have come across.
This is the first one we found, at the opposite corner of Midsummer Common to us. (If you go around the roundabout to King St, you are steps away from Sew Creative, a store that sells yarn and stuff.)

This is a hexagonal one, outside King's College in town. One can wonder which great scholars of the past have mailed things in this! Now I'm sure it's mostly postcards, as it's on the main tourist strip.

Here's a curious thing. These pictures were rotated and turned up just fine, but I can't get the picture of the next one -- it just wants to stay sideways, so I'll just give you the stunning detail of the mystery, spiky postbox!

Ah, my fave! This one is on the way to the grocery store, and it has no cypher, so who knows when it was put here, but I'll put it in with Victoria for now. It's on Priory Road and the Riverside, and aren't those spikes marvellous! Just decorative, or anti-pigeon devices, or what?? You know your mail is safe in this one!

Well, it's taking a while to get these photos loaded, so I shall give blogger a rest for now!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A knitted wedding!?

Look at this! The people at Cast Off are having a wedding, and everything there, except, apparently, the drinks, will be knitted! Oooh, I'd love to go, and what can I knit for it??

Monday, September 12, 2005

Explaining church history, and knitting decision and indecision

We did a lot this weekend. On Saturday we went to Ely, the nearby cathedral town with river, ducks, antiques, Morris dancers (pictured here) and all that. On Sunday we went up to Jesus Green where a gazillion cyclists were celebrating the creation of 10 000 miles of cycle paths in Great Britain. And along the way, there was knitting, and thinking about knitting.

We noticed on our rambles that Ely is only 17 miles away from here, so we are gearing up to ride our bikes there, maybe next spring when Elaine is 6. The country round here is flat as a board, so I think we could do it, but now she is quite slow, and one can't really go cross-country on training wheels (or stabilizers, as we call them here). Her big brother is keen for sure, and consented to the train ride with some reluctance.

The big thing in Ely is the cathedral. We had a great tour and got lots of pictures, but the two-camera/two-computer problem continues to haunt us, so we just have a few here today.

This, of course, is part of the floor. You can see where quilters would go bong bong for this sort of stuff. Lots of nice black and white too, with zig zags and chequers and loop-de-loos and even a maze by the front door. If you walk the whole maze to the centre, you will have walked the height of the tower (200-odd feet), and if you don't step on the lines, I hear you get to go to heaven, but no one's reported back on that one. The maze is presently covered with scaffolding, so we couldn't try it out, and kids under 10 are not allowed on the tower tour, so we didn't do that either!

The church has a history back to the 7th century, so there are Norman bits, later bits, and then a few Victorian bits put in too. There is a marvellous painted ceiling (Victorian) and the biggest Lady Chapel in England. It houses a controversial statue of the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary, ya know) which Elaine liked enough to draw a picture of when we got home. (I'd love to show you her picture, but she gave it to a friend!) It's, um, modern, I'll say that for it. It should perhaps be outside in a garden with a fountain.

There are lots of bits of the church which have changed over time. It used to be painted inside, red and blue, candy-cane pillars and all. If you go here you can paint Wells Cathedral, and get an idea of what it looked like. Now, there has been a bit of argument over the years about the propriety of things like gaudily painted churches, and so some centuries ago, Henry VIII's guys (not Cromwell, our tour guide pointed out) came and scrubbed all the paint off. Then they also smashed a few statue niches and so on. Our kids know nothing about all this church stuff, so trying to explain why people got their churches wrecked and their heads chopped off about it was a challenge.

Sunday was a grey day, but some of us braved the damp and went to the bike fair. We rode on a tandem where the smaller person sits in front, and the bigger, in the back, steers. Kinda good! Once one got used to the steering being so far in front, I think it'd be great. Also tried out some recumbents, bikes with the wheels off centre, big scooters, all sorts of cool things on wheels. The wildest was the conference bike, which holds 7 people. You're pedalling, and maybe sitting sideways to the direction the bike is going! Too bad you have to hold on tight, or 6 people could knit while one pedals! (I know the guys in the picture at that link are not holding on tight, but that's because they're not going anywhere, either!) Arthur was very impressed by it all.

On the knitting front: I stopped knitting my lopi wonderful colourful thing, and my nose and throat are instantly cleared. What am I going to do about that!?
Well, I tried to console myself with some Debbie Bliss cashmerino astrakhan, which is nubbly and soft and not scratchy. But I got it home and discovered that the colour was all wrong, and the pattern I had was not really perfect either. So, took it back and bought 8 different colours of Rowan Summer Tweed. Then I got Kaffe Fassett's Pattern Library and looked at all the multicolour things I could do. I made this diamond-ish swatch, and I kinda like it, but I think I have to use the brown differently. I think I'm going to get one of the pictures of the
hexagons from Stephen's experiments, or a good picture of the Staffa joints and make blotchy, sort of regular shapes, maybe outlining the shapes with the brown. I like lots of colours, but can't do 2-handed fair isle and am really slow and loose-gauged with the intarsia, and horizontal stripes, I've done enough of that! Meanwhile I have actually seamed some of Stephen's sweater and worked a couple of inches on Elaine's. (Elaine used her beads to make a Persian Poppy, and I think it looks great!)

And, my knitting has been entered in a fair! Last summer I gave my mom a scarf, simple lace pattern, linen/cotton yarn (I'm thinkin', not completely sure on that). Anywhoo, it will get entered in a fair in British Columbia. I didn't get anything special made and I don't know what the competition is like, but my dad and sister have loads of ribbons from there, and I want one too!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tourist stuff

Now that school is in, I'm sort of footloose and fancy-free during the day. I've had to search for the right gym shorts and wash the dishes and I could be cleaning the bathroom, but if I want to go look at a college, I can....
So yesterday I met Stephen for lunch and we did a quick tour. We saw St John's college and chapel, walked across Cambridge's Bridge of Sighs, saw the garden at Clare, which is so wonderfully rich and tidy and English-gardeny... There's a rectangular pond with lilypads with actual flowers on them, and one apple tree carefully placed on either side, and a bench; and big piles of red flowers over here and yellow and pale pink over there... It's lovely, and it sure shows that someone spends a lot of time making it just right. How do they get the flowers to look so riotous and the grass so neat? (No pics today, but I'll get ya some.)

The thing we had set out to see was the Wren Library in Trinity. The front gates of the college were closed, but Stephen has a card, as a member of the university, so we went round back and showed the card and got in. They only let 15 people in the library at a time, but there were only about 3 or 4 of us when we were there. In the covered cases we saw Newton's walking stick and
his own first edition of the Principia; the manuscript for Winnie the Pooh (and the librarian rushed over and told us that we were not allowed to photograph that); an 8th century manuscript on vellum, I think; a typed account of someone watching the first atomic bomb test (stamped SECRET but then that was scratched out); a First Folio of Shakespeare and all the other wonderful stuff.

I love uncovering those cases -- you never know what you will find! And for the colour theorists, all the books are brown -- a few white-bound ones stand out; the reds and greens add a spot of colour, but blend in nicely. One wonders about the cataloguing system. And here's a nice little lamp on a desk, but many of the niches hold laptops, and one big blue iMac. I still have to get to the Pepys library in Magdalene, but this will do for now.

After the library we went back out through Kings, and saw the chapel briefly before heading back home to get the kiddies from school. Now that I know we can wave the magic card and get into the colleges when we like, we'll try to do it more often. And we must go to a sung service sometime, just to hear the music.

I started to make a list of nice pictures, just things I liked the look of. And they were all green!

Here's one now!

Then I tried hard to find non-green ones, and they were all grey and brown. Must branch out, must find blue and red things. (Oh, I do love a good red pillar box, but they are often surrounded by grey and brown... I almost bought some pillar box salt and pepper shakers, but they were, alas, just too tacky.)

I've been knitting the shedding wool, and it's lovely to watch the colours blending, but I'm going to take a break from it soon and work on the pink cotton... soon, honest....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

School is in!

Phew, just dropped the kids off at school for day 2. Day 1 seems to have gone well. The school has a great variety of climbers and ropes and things painted on the pavement, so there is lots to do at recess, which is all that counts to some people! I have to call the school caterers to ask about nuts in the lunches. Elaine is adamant that she wants to take a lunch, but offers no ideas about what she will actually eat, and Arthur really wants the hot meals. So we shall see. I went all over town looking for a cheap little thermos to put mac and cheese in to take, but all I found were big things for taking your day's tea, or very expensive (£17 for a thermos!?). Today I shopped for gym clothes -- how many 5-year-olds have a plain white shirt in their wardrobe?

On the weekend we went to a farm nearby (note to self: always check a bus schedule before heading out on a Sunday!) where they had what they call a maize maze. It was blazing hot, but we made our way through the maze (with the help of a map, for the most part) and put our names in for some prize or other. Then when we got home, after our hard day's work in the field, we went to a pub for dinner. This one only served food after 6:30 and there was a sign in the beer garden that said that children were welcome till 7 pm. Not on our list for a second visit! The food was fine, but it was a tad chi-chi for us.

I'm writing this on the new computer, and the picture business is still not up and running. I'll tell you that I neglected to take a picture of the kids starting school, bad mommy, and I would love to show you a picture of the corn maze: Imagine you and your children are surrounded by corn as high as an elephant's eye. A sign up ahead says "Fire Exit" and points... dead ahead, into the corn! I'm glad we didn't have to test that out...

I put a few links in the sidebar. The top one is my husband's work page. That was our experiment in HTML. The others are all knitting blogs, an incomplete list of my favourites. More to come...

And since I've started to get spam comments, I've put in a thing where you have to type in some letters you see in order to post a comment. Not a hardship, and youse guys aren't commenting much anyways! This way I'll know that an actual person sent me something!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Just a quick note

This just in: First, we got a new computer! It's a used PC laptop with an English keyboard, so I get £ and the @ sign is not where I'm used to, and I don't have the whole i-photo library at my fingertips. So it'll take some getting used to. Also, the washer is fixed -- the guy just popped in a new motor and it was done. So I am doing a bazillion loads of laundry, slowly getting caught up. Any day now I'll be able to see the floor. Oh, and the socks were 1/2 inch too small for Arthur, too big for Elaine. What was I doing when I should have been measuring? Sheesh.

And here's a nifty idea about helping out after hurricane Katrina: donate money to the Red Cross, then tell some knitters, Margene and Susan, who will put your name in a hat (virtually speaking) for weekly prizes. And they are great prizes, if you're a knitter (or happen to know one!).

Back with pictures any day now...

Hey, do you like my new blog look??

Friday, September 02, 2005

Bigger needles and tire swings

Once upon a time the other day I listed my knitting projects and said I would get them out of the way before starting anything new. Well, I stood by that for a day or so, and then realized that what I really needed was a big-needle project. Denim bits: 4 mm needles. Pink thing: 3 mm needles. Socks: 2 3/4 mm needles! So, no wonder I am poking along!
I have this big bag of wool (you saw it all spread on the floor on August 3 ) and I have a great vision of what to do with it, and it'll be knit on 6 mm needles, so I just had to get in there and start. I made a couple of swatches (or you could call them pocket linings) and made a shocking realization: all that scratchy Lett Lopi will make me and my family ill! I have had a tickly
throat and horky cough, and I think it's caused by sending scratchy wool fibers into the air! Grr..... I'll try knitting little bits of it outside or something. If I were in Toronto, and if I'd saved my receipts (har har) I could take back some of the Lopi and trade it in on something smoother, but I'm not, so I must soldier on. Will keep you posted.
I did manage to get the sock done, so we now have a pair! Cross that off the list. (Um, yes, the single ball of yarn was not quite enough for 2 full 8-year-old socks. I've promised Arthur at least one sock made of all scraps one day!)

In family news, we have found a few new parks! Yippee. The boys took a bike ride the other day and even went past the grocery store and found all sorts of stuff. A big common, which even has a cow or two on it, and a great playground. There was for centuries a fair on Stourbridge Common, and you can see sea shells in the dirt at the playground, because people would come up the river to sell oysters at the fair. The big thing these days is a sort of tire swing/zooming thing/cable ride. It's a bigger walk than to the other park on Jesus Green, but not by much. We also found another park on a big field, and a nice pub with grass by the river to sit on.

School is starting on Monday and we are all a bit nervous. They do school lunches, which I think is great, although I was not a big fan of school lunches when I had them. What I will do if I have to prepare lunches for them, I don't know. I have no microwave here, for example, and finding enough leftovers for 2 lunches would be a challenge anyways. So, I sure hope they will learn to love school lunch. And I've never had to get all of us out the door in the morning on a regular basis before! Last year Elaine only went to school in the afternoons so she and I lounged around after getting the guys off to school.

I am indeed looking forward to doing something (anything!) by myself! I hope to be doing a ton of laundry, actually. We got back from our holiday with a week's worth of laundry, and were just getting caught up on that when the #*&#$ washer broke. Or something. A guy is coming today to look at it, and since sparks and smoke came out the bottom last time we tried it, it doesn't look good. But we are now mere tenants and will have to see what the landlord says. We've been piling up the dirty clothes for a week now, so I sure hope it is resolved fast!

I also just got the new Vogue Knitting mag and will search the 2 yarn shops here for supplies for a sweater for me. I like the green cabled one, but would have to lengthen it somewhat. Also I like the big red Big Wool one, but without the floofy little KSH cuffs which do not mesh with my laundry-and-dishes lifestyle. We shall see.