Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wedding-ness

Our wedding has been featured on Rock-n-Roll Bride. The incurably curious can click through. We can take credit for the styling (and the knitting - to be blogged at some point), but it was all beautifully captured by our amazing photographer, Laura Babb. I admit we got her for free, but she comes highly recommended from us at any rate!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

the long goodbye *

Friday night was date night. We crammed in enough London-centric activities to stem the pre-emptive home sickness. Dinner at the Oriental Canteen; beer in a random pub; ice skating at the Natural History Museum; last orders champers at St Pancras whilst ogling the Lego Christmas tree. Then home, where we sank an entire bottle of left over wedding prosecco and a box champagne truffles whilst watching Merlin on iPlayer. I hope we can figure out iPlayer in Philly, otherwise sanity may start to drift.

* This was an experiment in mobile blogging with Dan's iPhone. I'm sat in bed with my laptop. #fail

Friday, November 25, 2011

for our next trick...

When I commented back in February that "January 2011 was epic, but the rest of 2011 isn't likely to be any different", it wasn't an understatement. That seems like much longer than 260 days ago. Since then we've been battling through a year with even more phenomenal sized waves of peaks and troughs than we'd expected. As John Cage once said to Ally McSqueal "If you think back, and replay your year - if it doesn't bring you tears of joy or sadness, consider the year wasted". This was not a year wasted - there have been plenty of tears of both sorts, not least the good kind on our wedding day. In fact so much happened this year (and is still to happen) that if nothing AT ALL happens next year, we'll be very happy indeed. To summarise crassly and in list format, key life events so far:


  • four weddings (including our own),

  • three funerals (including our cats - yes, they got funerals too),

  • mega flat maintenance (plaster off, walls injected, plaster back on, painted),

  • grant writing and interviews,

  • financial tightrope walking,

  • finding tenants and becoming landlords,

  • sorting out visas and contracts for the big move to Philly,

  • a (weekend) trip to the US to find somewhere to live

  • Somehow in all of this we've managed to stay sane. For my part that might be down the crazy amount of knitting I managed to squeeze in for the wedding. Right now though, we're standing on the edge of the next big adventure*:


  • Last day of current job, 2nd of December

  • Flight to US, 9th of December

  • First day of new job, 12th of December

  • I have a shed load of faffing about at work to do so I'm ready to leave, but it's all too dull. Hence sitting here, writing guff instead. This space needs to come back into action though. To relive the peaks and troughs of this year and to savour the adventure as it unfolds in the next.

    * The lists have been all encompassing and very long this year. The habit is potentially now irreversibly ingrained. If it's not on a list it doesn't happen.

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    the dan hat

    The Dan Hat

    T
    here has been quite a bit of knitting action through these winter months, but there's been so little light to take photographs that most of my works in progress remain undocumented. This hat is special though. For Christmas Dan bought me two skeins of Alice Starmore's Pebble Beach, which is every bit as spectacular as one would hope. He asked to have something made with the yarn and fortunately the Pebble Beach acted as a missing piece in the puzzle. Dan has needed a new hat for a while and I've been ruminating on a tweed stitch for a long time too. I combined it with Rowan Scottish Tweed 4 ply in Blue Mist, Apple and Sea Green from my stash and a mystery brown tweed from a cone I bought in a Kentish Town charity shop. I'm quite proud of the result, so proud in fact that I've spent my free time in the last week writing up the pattern. It's not my first design, but it's the most complete and elegant construction I've managed to date. It's up on Ravelry as a free download.


    The Dan Hat

    T
    he pictures of Dan and the hat were taken at Alexandra Palace, just after we bought my very sparkly engagement ring from the antiques fair. Ally Pally was an apt place to get the ring, as it's where it all started for us almost seven years ago at our univeristy Summer Ball.


    The Dan Hat

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    From disaster to hope: February begins

    January Garden disaster

    T
    he most amazing thing about a garden at this time of year is how quickly it returns back to life. Even as I was looking at it and feeling completely despondent, that I had let all my previous years of hard work down, things were happening underground. As I've cleared up I've uncovered many things and already the garden looks like the stage is being set for springs arrival. It's hard to express how I feel about the winter honeysuckle, it's the centre of life in our garden and the very first thing to say hello to the new year. It flowers for weeks upon weeks and, thanks to the number of bird feeders hung in it, it's the centre of bird and bee life in our garden too.

    January Garden disaster

    A
    s I cleared the leaves from the surface of the pond I found this amazing creature. A very beautiful and very fat frog (with a distinct scottish twang in it's croak of course). Dan and I are hoping that this frog is a girl frog that this will be the spring we finally get frogspawn. She/he was too fat to get through the pond net, so I gently removed some of the leaves and peeled away the net so it could escape into the pond proper.

    January Garden disaster

    I
    'm now aware that the world has moved on a little and it's February. This is a relief to be honest, as January was rather crazed. We achieved great things in January - we completed on our flat so it's finally ours, Dan secured a job in Philadelphia and I wrote my first grant application. We also took one or other of the cats to the vet on a weekly basis, but that's another story. January 2011 was epic, but the rest of 2011 isn't likely to be any different. In the months to come this year we are going to get married and then emigrate to the US.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    K-cat

    I couldn't resist these images of our Killer Cat, even if they are out of focus. He's very over protective for a cat. Last weekend when I was trying to catch up on the back log (pruning the roses and the fruit) it was not a particularly auspicious day whether wise. Grey, damp and gusty. Killer doesn't like us being outside in the garden in this sort of weather (stupid humans), so he follows us around shouting at us to get back in the house. Literally. He won't shut up, but he won't go in. When it finally looks like we're giving up he runs inside. (The final picture is me flat out on the sofa: Dan took it while I was asleep because the K-cats position amused him so much. It's the one eye open that gets me...

    K-cat K-cat K-cat

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    The Catalogue of Disasters: Part Two, Back Garden

    January Garden disaster

    S
    hould probably crack on with the catalogue of disaster so I can move on and start sorting it out. Above is the back garden in its half rotten glory. The lawn is more moss than grass and the borders are barren. I know it's not the best time of year, but it could have been so much better. When I pulled out the teasles last year I planted up some brassica in their wake. I'd given up on the 'vegetable patch' as it gets very little sun and nothing ever thrived in it, so I put the empty borders to use instead. Take a look at my veg now:


    January Garden disaster

    T
    hat's what you get for not protecting your lovely leafy greens from the slug and snail population. Money (not much admittedly, but still), time and effort wasted. Moving on from Exhibit B, we have Exhibit C - a closer inspection of the aforementioned vegetable plot. The strawberries are alive but that's about it. There were a lot more cabbages here too - but they've entirely disappeared. Note the fallen over bird table in the corner, sooooo this season daaaaarlinks, every garden should have one.


    January Garden disaster
    January Garden disaster

    F
    inally, Exhibits D (above) and E (below). We didn't pick the leaves from the surface of the net and then with the weight of snow and ice in December, the net collapsed. Stinky leaves, yum. More on that later. The last image is a Pieris. A grew this as a cutting taken from my Mother's garden. It had never thrived - barely grown in four years - until this summer, when I finally figured out it needed acid soil and started treating it accordingly. It put out a great rush of leaves at the end of the summer and was looking very happy. Now it's new arms have been broken under the weight of snow. I hope it recovers, there are still some intact branches, but I have not made its life easy.


    January Garden disaster

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    The Catalogue of Disasters: Part One, Front Garden

    A
    s sworn by myself, the current situation of the `garden'. It is at this point necessary to say I'm not sure I can call myself a gardener anymore - more someone who happens to own a garden. First up, the rarely photographed and much maligned front garden. It's always been an issue, since before we even moved in. The builders/cowboys dumped all the rubble on it and compacted the earth, destroying any vestiges of plant life in the process. As with the back garden we inherited scrubland, but with two fatal flaws: firstly, there's a lot of clay in this patch that's almost impossible to dig; secondly and probably more importantly, as it's on the street it's not a nice place to work - one feels very exposed.

    January Garden disaster

    T
    he hedge at the back is the hawthorn hedge we planted 4 years ago, and it grows well. Two summers ago we fought with the clay and grew potatoes to keep the weeds down and break up the soil. It was about 50% successful. This summer we sowed green manure to try and break up the soil more. I'm not convinced it worked at all, but the remains of this sowing is what you can see now because we never had time (or inclination) to dig it in. Dan's idea is to build raised beds and add compost/topsoil/grit over the top. A good suggestion, but I'm worried this will effectively created a clay-pot under whatever we plant and stop them becoming established. Beds would be separated by small paths so we can walk around the square easily, established using membrane dressed with slate, gravel, wood-chip or similar. Also a good idea, but I'm inherently mistrustful of membrane (as is Dan). It's an easy solution to keep the weeds down to be sure, but I dislike the artificial separation between earth and sky it creates. On the other hand, this is basically central London so my feelings on the matter are probably irrelevant; this patch of earth exists surrounded by brick and concrete, if it looked less abandoned it would know doubt be a win for all passersby and it's certainly not supporting much wildlife right now. Opinions?

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Last of the melting snow

    Christmas 2010

    These images were taken in the deep snow before Christmas, just before midnight I think. London (or any big town or city I imagine) glows orange in the snow, every surface becomes luminescent. The exposure on the camera wasn't even that long to capture these images. This was the prettiest the garden had looked for a very long time, under it's forgiving iridescent blanket. I'd like to say it was the weight of snow which has led to our borders currently looking like abandoned strips of municipal earth, but sadly the neglect goes much further back to at least September. I am setting myself the challenge this weekend of cataloguing the dire straits of the garden, both front and back, and putting together a new year plan of action. This is the year of being organised - there's too much going on to be anything less than hyper-efficient.

    Christmas 2010

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Boxing day walk: extreme knitwear edition, with added tweed

    Boxing Day
    Last spring's hat, ancient noro scarf, buchanan tartan wool scarf, new wool coat, harris tweed boots, norwegian gloves.
    Boxing Day
    Boxing Day
    the ice road up the hill (literally)
    Boxing Day
    Boxing Day
    Boxing Day
    Boxing Day
    Boxing Day
    Boxing Day
    Boxing Day
    Dan sporting his new red merino wool long-johns. He's mighty pleased with them.
    Boxing Day
    The view. Pretty spectacular as it turned out. England covered in snow when the haar rolls in.
    Boxing Day

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Other Christmas Craftiness

    The Christmas cards were done while I was in the recovery phase from a bout of flu that knocked me clean off my feet in the middle of December. Not fun. Poor Dan had to take care of me knowing it was only a matter of time before he succumbed himself. Still, there was other Christmas mischief to be had once I was well. I treated myself to a wreath ring this year. My effort is fairly simplistic, but it does the job well enough.

    Christmas 2010
    Christmas 2010
    Christmas 2010
    Christmas 2010