So, it seems I'm knitting a warthog! What a surprise, I thought it was a cowl.
That's a bit better.
Knitting has taken over from almost everything else at ToadRockStreet this week...apart from greenhouses. Those pesky little metal things in the picture above are the bane of our lives at the moment. They're everywhere: on kitchen worktops, tables, in drawers and mostly scattered all over the garden. Where they aren't is holding the plastic panes of the greenhouse in place during the high winds we've been having since December.
The current scenario is that the wind blows down ToadRockStreet, rattling our old windows, causing weird wind devils as it passes each of the little houses in our little road. I look at the Musician Husband in that 'we're going to lose the greenhouse again' way and he looks back with a 'please don't send me out there again' way. I knit furiously, pretending not to hear the roar outside and the Musician Husband has that 'I'm watching football look,' which means he's not concentrating on anything I might be asking him to do.
Now, please don't think I sit back in the warmth of ToadRockStreet and send my poor husband out in the howling wind...well, actually I do 'ask' him to go out, but it's purely because he's taller than me. I can't reach the roof panes of the greenhouse so it's become his job. Honest! And I always make him hot coffee when he comes in...
Sometimes we go out into the garden at night with a torch to check on damage, but we've given up on this approach as it means we have to DO something if the greenhouse panes have blown out and are circling the garden as though possessed. Trying to pin the panes back with those pesky little metal things in the dark (or light to be honest) is almost impossible. Fingers bleed, words are spoken, divorce is mentioned. As soon as one is in place, another pops out. The worst case scenario is that we completely lose one or more panes. Our long suffering neighbour often brings one back in the morning with a resigned 'when are you going to sort this out' look. He's always lovely about it but I wonder how many more times we can get away with it. On one occasion I went round the entire group of houses in Denny Bottom to find a missing pane - if you don't know that greenhouses can be made of plastic you get some strange looks.
This is the only photograph of our greenhouse I'm happy to share with you at the moment. Our garden is in a shocking state and shame is definitely a word I would mention at this point, but I wanted you to see the clips in place and feel our pain.
Whilst all this greenhouse-worry is going on, I'm in front of the fire with the Cow'n'Wolf and I'm knitting pink things.
Strangely I don't really like pink much. Some shades are OK but I'm definitely not a girly princess type, so I often ignore it when I'm buying wool. Yet, recently, that's all I've bought. I think it's because I'm working on a big project (big in my little world) and this project happens to be pink.
I'll be posting about it soon - not because I want to keep you in suspense - purely because it ties in with a Ravelry group project and I want the whole things to come out in one go rather than split across a few sites.
This is the first sample, not quite right yet and not pressed so looks a little lumpy. Hopefully it will work out OK.
I also finished the pink aran socks for my Scottish-Welsh colleague. She'll get them at the end of the week and I hope she loves them. I put them on for a few seconds (I washed my feet first) and they're like putting clouds on your toes...OK, a bit over the top...they're really soft!
Whilst I've been furiously knitting I've also been furiously undoing! The warthog cowl pictured at the beginning has been undone. 100 grammes worth of knitting and nothing to show for it. It served its purpose though, in a therapy-sort-of-way, as I sat and listened to the wind howling, but it was wrong in every way. It was a four row pattern (honeycomb), two of the rows were 'knit' and the other two rows were so simple you couldn't get them wrong. Well...I did. The pattern itself was over 2 stitches, that's all, 2 stitches and I still messed it up. I blame the storms.
I've cast on again, knowing full well that I'm using the wrong sized needles. I only have four Magic Loop needles in my possession and just couldn't part with the money for another set when I knew this wool needed just 0.5 larger than the ones I have. The tension is quite dense but I like the effect, even though it looks nothing like the pattern. Maybe I've got it wrong again??? If I have it's not just the tension that's dense...
I quite like it, so don't mind too much. If we get snow it will be so lovely and warm to wear.
On the weather front it was like being let out of hibernation today. The sky was an intense blue and the sun was shining. There were fluffy little white clouds.
We thought about sitting out to eat breakfast and then realised how foolish that was when we went for a walk and had to light the fire afterwards to get warm.
Here's Toad Rock today. Can't quite believe it, but it's true. We had an amazing walk around our usual haunts but it was lovely to feel that warmth from the sun and hear the birds singing.
As we walked with the dogs up to Toad Rock, I noticed this worrying addition to the Musician Husband's coat. He'd been using it to bend those pesky metal clips into place on the greenhouse yesterday and forgotten it was still there (proper tools still escape him...he's a flint and stone man if truth be told).
We also picked wood up for the fire when we were out. Sawing it up is my favourite job of all. There's something very reassuring about cutting up wood, it feels like a basic way of providing for your family.
Luckily we have somewhere we can pick up wood with the landowner's permission. We take only what we need for a couple of fires and always check that what we pick up isn't home to some small creature.
Then, we're in front of the fire again...
And another week is over. Work tomorrow. Hopefully we can all find something comforting in the routine of every day.
If the storm has caused you more worry than a few panes of a greenhouse popping out, I can only hope that you get everything back to normal soon.
We live just a few steps away from Toad Rock in Denny Bottom. The Cow'n'Wolf love going up there mostly because it's frequented by deer and foxes, both of which we come across occasionally. I can't tell you how excited this makes the Cow'n'Wolf. Not even pigs' ears could come close. Trying to calm them down afterwards and get them home is quite a drama.
I once saw a deer up there early in the morning when I was walking to work. It was quite a large animal and beautifully ginger brown. Snow was on the ground and the sky was a soft lilac hue, no-one else was around. A definite Christmas card moment. For some reason I saw him before he saw me and those moments of trying to burn an image into my brain were quite intense. I tried to suck in as much detail as possible; eye colour, nose, mouth, feet, tail, how he moved, what he must be thinking - he was only yards away but I still fail to recall most of the detail. Then he spotted me. I expected him to be startled and turn tail, bounding over the rocks, but he almost looked bored, gently turned around and ambled his way up into the trees. Although I had a good view of him he just disappeared, melting into the foliage at the top of the hill, and I was left wondering if I had ever seen him at all.
That's why I love this place. It's full of unexpected things. We originally came here for six months and it's now our thirteenth year.
We often come across bands of children up at Toad Rock and I'm a little envious that they get to climb rocks called the Elephant, the Lion, Loaf Rock and The Parson’s Nose. Some of the climbs are quite easy but a few of the gaps only allow small people through, I know, I've tried. The smooth rocks show how many feet have slid over these stones in past years. That's another one of the things I love about living here, it's rural but full of life. Ancient stone is eroded by the happy feet of children as they clamber about having fun.
For the slightly older ones (when climbing rocks has been outgrown) there are quite a few little cave-like places and some secret little spaces between the rocks and trees that allow romance to blossom - Jackie and Butch may have found them. I wonder where they are now.
I also found this beautiful little heart etched into the stone with no name attached. It's almost obscured by lichen, but it's still there. I only hope the love attached to it is still going strong.
Trees and rocks here are quirky. If you walk a few yards from Toad Rock to Bulls' Hollow you can find petrified tree roots snaking up cliff faces to meet the living roots of trees above. Very strange and quite beautiful.
And to rest my case on the quirkiness around here, I discovered this tree overlooking the rock that Jackie & Butch made their own. What were Jackie & Butch doing that caused so much surprise and disapproval? We will never know.
I haven't quite rested my case on the quirkiness because there's one more thing! How many landlocked places have their own beach? It's true. The foot of Toad Rock has a beach. In summer children play here with buckets and spades, visitors bring deckchairs and our ex-racing greyhound thinks he's back at the track. It's just too odd and I love it!
Only a quarter of a mile away in Happy Valley the picture is slightly different (and I know we've had it easy).
This is where the Musician Husband suffered an injury. From a nurse's point of view it was a splinter, but to him, something had burrowed into his skin during the walk, set up camp and was producing it's young in his liver. He's now banned from watching 'Monsters Inside Me' on the Discovery channel. More worryingly, The Cow lost his deformed little claw on this particular walk. He didn't complain or whinge, just licked his foot a lot when we got back home. The deformity was a result of losing the whole claw last summer. Greyhounds have almost bamboo-like longish claws and their feet are quite soft, so they're prone to this sort of thing. As a result of that initial claw loss, the new one grew back at a right angle and was really asking to be ripped off at the earliest opportunity. In case you're worried he's fine now and so is the Musician Husband who now accepts the splinter theory.
I love walking with the dogs but getting home is almost better, especially if we're all wet and cold. After towelling the dogs down, cleaning paws and dropping mud encrusted clothing on the floor next to the washing machine, we settle down in the warmth of ToadRockStreet.
The Cow often gets the best spot as The Wolf has to be nearest the door to protect us and ward off any intruders. The Musician Husband will have a guitar in his hand almost as soon as we get back home (if not he'll be watching football). I'll settle down with my knitting on the big red sofa.
When we decided to adopt another dog (The Wolf was on her own at this point), we asked the guy at the greyhound rescue if it was fair to have two big dogs in a small cottage. His answer still makes me smile...it depends on how much you want to step over..! As you can see from the above, we don't mind stepping over a lot. Their beds take up a good chunk of floor space in our sitting room, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Even though I long for an eight bedroomed house with a pool, we'd probably want to cosy up in a room like this anyway.
What more can you need?
The forecast says snow today and tomorrow. So, will it?
If it does...life will be like this for a short, cosy time...
I checked the temperature this morning (I found the outdoor thermometer on top of the kitchen shelf when I cleaned recently) and it was 5 degrees. No sign of snow yet, but we have enough food, coal, logs, candles, unwatched episodes of Dexter, Spiral and House. We bought the Saturday papers - one I buy purely for the cryptic crossword - so we have plenty to catch up on. Hopefully we'll be snowed in and work will just be impossible tomorrow...
Everything is crossed!
The house smells of woodsmoke, port and cranberries. Wonderful things are being cooked on the stove by the Musician Husband. It's Christmas day tomorrow and I don't want to be anywhere else but ToadRockStreet. My Christmas wishes amount to two things - world peace and something shiny. I'm more hopeful about one than the other.
Some lovely friends recently gave us the postcard above - sent from Bessie to 'dear Vera' on December 23rd 1908 - its message wishes everyone Hearty Greetings for Christmas. And that's what I wish you all; peace, happiness, health and a love of life that makes waking up each day worthwhile. And lots of wine...
It snowed at Toad Rock last Wednesday. In half an hour our world went white and an hour later it was all gone.
When the snow first came down the flakes were so big they would have made a grown man gasp. I've never seen the like! Even living in North Wales we never had big snow, just lots of it.
My neighbour told me last weekend that it may snow mid week and she was so convincing that I went to the supermarket and bought lots of veggies, pasta, rice and cheese - just in case!. I also stopped off at the local garage and bought a couple of bags of coal as well so that we would be comfy-cosy now that we've got our sitting room fire going again (never used it in the 10 years we've been here as we didn't realise the bricks were fire-proof). I felt quite smug when it looked as thought we may be snowed in. Living at the bottom of three steep roads that form a sort of basin (Denny Bottom it's called - honestly!) we have no chance of getting out in a car, so, it's always wise to be well stocked up.
The only disappointing thing was that I had to walk to work (from a physical point of view), but it was visually worth every step; how beautiful Toad Rock looks in the snow! The photo above is looking down our street towards the pub - which is splendidly close to our cottage. I also got to wear my reindeer hat, bought recently by the Musician Husband. It's a beautifully crocheted hat in lovely soft cotton, no sticky-up reindeer antlers, very subtle, button eyes, all in gorgeous soft browns. When I got to work my team howled with laughter which was surprising as I thought I looked rather fetching...
One extra note - I know this isn't the most beautiful snow scene but I wanted to share it with you. Just look at the size of those flakes!!! The camera was set to flash without my realising and it's created this incredible effect, almost as though I've scattered a printed copy of the photo with salt. I really don't understand the process but will try to find out how it happened so that I can avoid/use it again.
Happy snow days - hope Christmas is white this year.