Golden Friday

Miles walked: 237.5 Miles to go: 262.5

I am very proud to be married to an international athlete, albeit an injury-hampered, mud-spattered one! The British and Irish International Masters Cross-Country Championship held in Glasgow on 12th November was a great event, exactly how sport should be. It was lovely to see the runners in their national colours, competing for their country in such a determined yet friendly way, cheered on by crowds of supporters including our Falkirk friends Gordon and Norma- thank you for braving the mud!

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Running in red . . . come on, Wales!

Roger was running in a very good time and position when unfortunately in the second lap (of four) a calf problem kicked in and forced him to pull up a bit. He finished the race, but nowhere near as fast as he would have liked. Still, that’s the nature of sport and there’s always the next race . . . A similar thing happened in the Cardiff Half Marathon and we are beginning to suspect that driving a thousand miles is perhaps not the best preparation for a race. šŸ˜¦

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In all, we clocked up 3 300 miles this time ā€“ crazy. So now we are back after the best part of three weeks away and this time we are hoping to have a few settled months here so we can really crack on with what needs to be done. The list is pretty long and we certainly won’t be bored. Now we have all the tools and materials sorted, the first job is to finish the kitchen. Roger has made a good start on the beech block worktops and is getting to grips with his new jig (a carpentry one, that is – he hasn’t suddenly taken up folk dancing in his spare time).

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Measure twice . . .

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. . . and cut once!

Our first day back (yesterday) can only be described as unusually grim weatherwise, with relentless curtains of rain lashing the valley on the back of a biting wind; it was the tail end of a huge storm ā€“ actually it was massive, we drove through it for 300 miles on our way home.

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There was nothing for it but to light the stove and hunker down in the warm and dry. Sarah had given us a bag of cooking apples to bring home so I decided to make use of some of them and make a few jars of mincemeat for Christmas. This is the easiest job in the world ā€“ hardly cooking, really ā€“ but the result is a million miles from the shop-bought stuff and completely delicious. I’ve used Delia Smith’s recipe for years and it’s great; just a small change this year ā€“ I’ve used home-grown walnuts rather than blanched almonds. Why not?

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Today could not have been more different. After a finger-nipping start and bright frost in the valley, it has been non-stop sunshine . . . time to get outside and inspect the garden.

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Brrrrr!

As predicted, the broad beans are up and the onions and garlic are romping away.

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The late planting of beans was desperate to be picked: not a bad haul from a handful of plants and it was a pleasure to sit in the warm sunshine and pod them (call it Vitamin D therapy).

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The chillies also needed harvesting along with a handful of green peppers. The summer vegetable plants have at last gone over so time for a bit of a tidy up and weeding session tomorrow.

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On the knitting front, I managed to finish Ben’s jumper before we left. I don’t think I have ever come so close to running out of wool, I found myself literally holding my breath when knitting the neckband! Anyway, I just squeaked in and it fits him well, if a little short; I did question the measurements on the pattern as I was knitting, although if I had made it any longer, I would certainly have run out of wool.

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Narrow squeak: barely enough wool left for cat’s cradle!

With the jumper finished, it was back to socks. One of the great things about sock knitting is that it is small enough to be stuffed in my handbag (or the ‘Bag of Doom’ as Roger calls it) and pulled out to keep me entertained during events like Channel crossings. I finished the Jacobs socks which turned out much better than expected, so the way was clear to start knitting up my ‘Northern Lights’ hiking socks.

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One sock down, one to go.

The difference between the two yarns soon became very clear and there is now no doubt in my mind that a 3-ply sock yarn is far superior to a 2-ply and that the Romney/mohair mix is spot on. The yarn is more rounded and the knitting has a dense quality, close-textured and thick, yet elastic: in short, it really feels like wool ought to, and I think these socks will be great inside a pair of walking boots.

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I don’t want to start spinning the yarn for the second pair until I’ve knitted the second sock and know how the yardage is looking, so in the meantime I have another sock yarn in mind to spin. I want to knit a pair of socks to celebrate a January birthday, something in hot colours with a cosy, luxurious feel to them; no boot or welly socks these, rather for slipping into slippers or toasting toes in front of the fire, sliding into after a hot bath or curling up with a good book. Merino, then? No, I want to stick with my British wool theme so this calls for Blue Faced Leicester, the finest British wool and a soft, silky beauty to spin. As these are lazy couch potato socks destined to never do a day’s work there is no need to strengthen with kid mohair; instead, I’ll blend in some unbleached tussah silk for pure, unadulterated luxury. The colour scheme in my imagination is ‘Midwinter Fire’, bright and warming, banishing dark days. Mmm, let’s get started.

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BFL and silk: luxury on a hand carder.

On a final note, the news tells me that today is ‘Black Friday’ and I should be indulging in a shopping frenzy buying a whole load of electricals and other goods I don’t need (and certainly don’t want). Oh dear, failed again. The more I see of modern life, the more removed from it I feel. I picked up my camera and walked through the woods to the river instead, just to see what had changed in our absence.

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Black Friday ā€“ who needs it? Try Golden Friday instead. I couldn’t put a price on that view. šŸ™‚

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2 thoughts on “Golden Friday

  1. Modern life, what a mess. We just had a Thanksgiving dinner, which is a lovely tradition, but then the Americans had to spoil it all by inflicting Black Friday on the world (without the good bit the day before). Is that a jacket coming out at last? Still so many outdoor chillies!

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  2. I completely agree and feel much the same about Christmas, too (another post on that subject currently being drafted!). Yes, thick jackets were required for a day or two – bit of a shock to the system, but we were logging in t-shirts yesterday so normal service is resumed. Sun, sun, sun in the forecast so I’m hoping the last few chillies will ripen over the next week. I have come back with a large packet of new pepper and chilli varieties to try next year as they’ve gone so well (not to mention aubergines, tomatoes, courgettes, squashes . . .you know how it is. Now it’s just a question of finding some space for them all. šŸ™‚

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