Sunday, December 31, 2006

Thinking BOOKS...

Just before the New Year closes - I'm back from Thailand (where I had a fab time what seems like years ago already, and took over 400 photos!) and promise to blog a bit more diligently in 2007. (Sounds suspiciously like a new year's resolution to me - I'd better stop that right away! Get a grip!).

One of my all time favourite authors:
Octavia E. Butler has published 10 science fiction novels over the last 20 years and has been nominated for numerous awards in the field, winning three of its highest honors: the Hugo, Nebula and James Tiptree awards. In 1995 she was awarded a MacArthur Grant -- part of the genius program to reward those who push the boundaries of their fields.
Novels & Series:
Patternmaster (1976)
Mind of My Mind (1977)
Kindred (1979)
Survivor (1978)
Wild Seed (1980) (Tiptree Award winner)
Clay's Ark (1984)
Xenogenesis Series:Dawn (1987)Adulthood Rites (1988)Imago (1989)
Parable of the Sower (1994)
Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995)
Short Fiction:
"Speech Sounds" (1983) (Hugo Award winner)
"Bloodchild" (1984) (Hugo and Nebula award winner)

I've just finished 'Clay's Ark' - a short but thought provoking tale of alien invasion and a bleak look at the future of humanity. I find it's selling for over £18 on Amazon! And I'm offering it up for nothing on the next Bookswap here (That'll be the 'B' one)
Hmm - I've also read 'Kindred' and the xenogenesis series. Still leaves a few more.

Amazon has a place to make LISTS soooo,

Here's my 21 all time favourite unputdownable reads... (my age? - I wish!)

The World According to Garp (Black Swan) by John Irving

£6.39 Used & New from: £2.00
Average Customer Rating: 4.5*
The first Irving novel I read - an epic of women, wrestling, humour, tragedy.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

£4.49 Used & New from: £1.14
Average Customer Rating: 4.5*
Absolutely compelling - I learnt so much about the Belgian Congo, and Africa.

The Stand (The Complete and Uncut Edition) by Stephen King

£6.29 Used & New from: £2.39
Average Customer Rating: 4.5*
I've been a Stephen King fan since I found Carrie in a second hand bookshop. This is probably his best: Apocalyptic, huge! King tells a thumping good yarn.

His Dark Materials Gift Set: "Northern Lights", "The Subtle Knife", "The Amber Spyglass" : His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

£13.86 Used & New from: £13.71
Average Customer Rating: 4.5*
Was recommended this by the teenager next door: fab, escapist and better than Harry Potter.

Kindred (Bluestreak) by Octavia E. Butler

£6.41 Used & New from: £3.91
Average Customer Rating: 5*
First Butler book I read: sadly she died this year, so there'll be no more from this brilliant author. Butler explores race and gender in this magic story.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

£6.39 Used & New from: £2.98
Average Customer Rating: 5*
I was trapped in hospital with nothing else to read or I probably wouldn't have finished this classic anti war tale: I was so glad I did - wow.

The Lord of the Rings (3 Book Box set) by J.R.R. Tolkien

Used & New from: £20.00
Average Customer Rating: 4.5*
As a hardened fantasy reader, I've got to include this! Just skip the tedious historical battle stories and stick to the nitty gritty.

The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake

£10.40 Used & New from: £4.99
Average Customer Rating: 4.5*
Another blockbuster and cult classic that I adore. These books had me laughing out loud at times. Totally surreal - the last book in the trilogy upsets all your assumptions. Masterpiece.

The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey

£5.99 Used & New from: £0.01
Average Customer Rating: 5*
Read this years ago, but it has stood the test of time. Romantic but good escapist stuff of the kind I eat up.

The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper

Used & New from: £30.00
Average Customer Rating: 5*
Another of my favourite authors: interesting questions posed in a great story.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

£6.39 Used & New from: £3.52
Average Customer Rating: 5*
Steinbeck is another excellent storyteller - this tale is the story of a family forced to evacuate the 'Dust Bowl' during the Great Depression in USA.

Fear Nothing by Dean R. Koontz

£6.39 Used & New from: £0.01
Average Customer Rating: 4*
Couldn't include King without putting in Koontz. This story features one of my favourite characters, Christopher Snow, and I love Koontz' humour.

Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore

£5.59 Used & New from: £0.60
Average Customer Rating: 4*
No 13 - how appropriate. I was introduced to Mr Moore by bookcrossing. He makes me laugh out LOUD. This was the first I read - but go read em all.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

£7.99 Used & New from: £4.00
Average Customer Rating: 4.5*
I sense themes emerging in my list. This book is a bit of horror, scifi, fantasy, and humour but, above all, a bloomin' good yarn.

Dune by Frank Herbert

£6.39 Used & New from: £0.01
Average Customer Rating: 5*
I wasn't that bothered by the sequels, but this first book is masterful. Herbert creates an entirely believable, fascinating new world called Arrakis.

Watership Down (Puffin Books) by Richard Adams

£5.59 Used & New from: £0.01
Average Customer Rating: 4.5*
An epic tale of bunnies with all my favourite components.

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

£6.39 Used & New from: £0.67
Average Customer Rating: 4*
This is the only book by Mieville I've read, but I'll be back, to be sure. Fantastic, wierd imaginings - brilliant writing, and British too!

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

£5.59 Used & New from: £0.01
Average Customer Rating: 4*
Hard to know which of McDermid's novels to choose - they're all great, but in the end I went for the Tony Hill (psychological profiler) + Carol Jordan (DI) no. 1. McDermid was my intro to this genre.

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

£6.79 Used & New from: £5.00
Average Customer Rating: 4.5*
Read this whilst traipsing around China. It is the story of three generations of women with the huge backdrop of China's tumultous history in the twentieth century.

Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

£14.27 Used & New from: £12.19
Average Customer Rating: 5*
I read this a long time ago - and remember being entranced. I lived not far from Caerfyrddin (Merlin's hill) hence my interest. Stewart puts a new twist on the Arthurian legend..

Toxic Shock (A V. I. Warshawski Novel) by Sara Paretsky

Used & New from: £0.01
Which VI Warshawski novel to pick? could have been any of them! VI is my kind of hero - tough, sassy, James Bond kind of luck but my kind of politics.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thailand 2006
Travel diary take one.
I'm BACK from a lovely warm Thailand to ol' grey, cold and rainy Blighty. I've had a FAB time and only took 400+ photos...

I was diligent with my diary (at least until the last couple of days) - So I'll transcribe it slowly.

Thursday 19th to Friday 20th October - and I'm sitting here in 'Big John's BackPacker's Hostel' in Thanon Sukamvhit - having followed the instructions to get here so precisely that I was only 7 Thai Baht down on the record set on taxi rates. I've just had the 'Big John's Speshul Fried Rice' which was cheap and filled the belly. I'm sat on the 'Mezzanine Terrace' - a mezzanine being a 'partial story between two main stories of a building' and accurate enough but sounding much grander than it actually was. I'm sat at a formica table and the surroundings are basic but absolutely fine for my needs, ta very much.

The journey here was relatively uneventful - starting with the first leg to Dubai where I threw my aeroplane dinner over my neighbour - not deliberately you understand, after all my neighbour was perfectly pleasant, indeed helpful, and the food was the usual unobjectionable plane fodder. I guess my hand just slipped.

I'm disappointed to report that the carefully purchased bamboo circ. needles were NOT allowed on the plane - although I WAS allowed to take my sharpened pencils. What's the difference I'd like to know? I could stab out the cabin crew's eyes with both equally well if I was so inclined. In flight entertainment has improved no end since last I flew. You now have an interactive screen on the back of the person's seat in front of you (that's on your lap, in economy!) . At the touch of a button I had a choice of 50 movies, games and I could even text home at a cost. I only manage to sleep 4 hours, and that with waking every 10 minutes or so to move a stiffened limb or neck. And even though it's really only 5 pm there it's 11 pm here in Bangkok and I'm overdosing on a couple of halves of cold lager because it's a hot and humid 33 degrees C.

I'd spent several hours wondering around the HUGE new international Suvarnabhumi Airport only recently opened.

The name Suvarnabhumi was chosen by HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej which means “The Golden Land”, specifically referring to the continental Indochina. (“Golden Peninsula”or “Golden Land” is a traditional name for the Thailand-Cambodia-Laos-Burma region). There are over 40 flights to Phuket a day, and I thought I'd have no problem getting a seat. WRONG - tomorrow is a National Holiday and all flights are full. Since I have to be in Phuket very early Sunday morning (and it's now Friday evening) - to get the connection for the seakayaking trip - I am forced to catch a bus - which is the equivalent to taking the slow boat to China when I've only got 16 days to play with.

I'm sharing a dorm with Seena from Finland - she's also travelling alone, but is staying in Thailand for three whole months. I'm jealous.

I sleep the sleep of the dead and fail to hear my alarm clock at 6 am Saturday morning. Fortunately Seena does and wakes me up. I want to catch the [strike]damned[/strike] bus early from Bangkok Southern Terminal as the trip can take 14 hours plus.

Saturday 21st October after very english breakfast of scambled egg on toast, apple juice, coffee, I manage to forget the large bottle of water I'd just purchased and get a second taxi. The roads are amazingly clear - today is that National Holiday and there is only a quarter of the normal traffic volume ( see that picture? The cars were moving - normally it's gridlock!). Really lovely taxi driver who insists on taking me to the right ticket office and making sure I get the right ticket for Phuket and then sitting me in the right place to catch the bus afterwards. I have to wait an hour and a half for the bus, soaking up the atmosphere of a typical engine fumed, dirty bus terminal. There are mangy, fleabitten dogs wondering around (I was to see many over the next two weeks) - including two fairly young puppies.Although the bus journey will be long and slow, I'm looking forward to checking out the scenery, knitting, sleeping maybe. Almost as soon as I'm on the bus, my neighbour goes to shut the curtains. The bus is full of Thai people (with two saffroned monks taking the best seats in the back), and all the travellers pull the blinds so they can keep out the hot sun and sleep. She's obliging when I ask her to open them about half way so I can watch this strange new world go by: it's all still so excitingly foreign! After several miles though, the view starts to pall. There are miles and miles of seemingly industrial type buildings on the side of the road. Thailand doesn't seem to have strict planning control. After a few hundred miles we shut the curtains and I try to sleep too. There are several stops for loos and food - chili, chopped hot green chili and rice rules OK.

WE started out at 0945hrs and we get to Phuket at - aaargh - 0230hrs. By the time I've agreed to be ferried (on a little scooter!) with rucksack to Talang Guesthouse and found it locked up - then find an ATM to get Paddleasia's cash - then agree to be ferried by another moped taxi person to an OPEN guesthouse - it's 03.30hrs going on 4 and I've got to get up at 0700hrs! As soon as I get into the perfectly comfortable hotel room at Imperial 2 Guesthouse, I pass out.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Picture Source : United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
THAILAND here I come - I fly out from Gatwick tomorrow evening and arrive in Bangkok Friday at 6pm. I've been primed to tell all the taxi touts crowding into the arrivals lounge that "No, this is NOT my first time in Thailand, it's my tenth - and I'm not taking any crap so f*** off", which seems a tad impolite, not to mention a downright lie, but hey. I'm booked into Big John's Backpacker Hostel - it's cheap and sounds cheerful - and I've been told how much the taxi fare should be (avoiding the toll road). We'll see.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Woo hooooo! I've finished all the examination of the newborn checks I needed to complete the practice portfolio - all FIFTY of them. Including the last five which had to be supervised by a consultant Paediatrician no less (very offputting, having someone looking over your shoulder even if they are very nice) - and I've passed - that bit anyway. The Paed said I was 'competent, confident and thorough' and I hadn't even offered the bribe...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Walks - SWCP the last two days, Sat & Sun.

Next morning we packed up very leisurely and were disappointed to see the tail lights of the bus disappearing up the hill just as we emerged from the farm gates. We trudged on up the hill fantasising about bacon butties at the top - next best thing - a garage with an array of fruit, snacks and saffron buns. Bus came along the main road after a 5 minute wait and plopped us off in Marazion again, where we had a cup of caffeine to gee us up.

The way is well signposted - at least at the start, and we could see ST Michael's Mount in the distance as we walked throught fields. In Ludgvan village we found a pub set in aspic.

It seemed set in some previous time and all dimpsy inside. Publican not so sure about providing us with a packed lunch but was eventually persuaded to give us probably the most expensive foil wrapped rolls for our onward journey.

The next few way markers were knocked over - local disapproval of St Michael's way?

Walking through fields was certainly a contrast to the coast path - here we startled some calves...

And there were some strange sights to be seen over hedges -

Once we got past Trencrom Hill, we set off in search of the last campsite we would need, and left the footsteps of St Michael (it went along roads from there anyway - and we had a preference for footpaths through fields and woods. We followed the cows in for milking (along with a bull trying to rut) around Trink Farm. Eventually we found Balnoon on the foothills of Lelant Downs - small, pretty, clean and with a very pleasant and welcoming owner, Mrs Lang, who evidently has long term campers returning year after year.

Many of the stiles marked on the map were overgrown and disused around here. Got stung by nettles and bashed by flying rucksacks. Jane got mild sunstroke and I wasn't a very sympathetic nurse. We slept like logs.

Sunday, last day, we were only a short stroll of two miles from St Ives.

This is Jane looking a bit more refreshed! We had an amazingly zen like experience - in the flow. We had breakfast of croissants and coffee in a cafe in St Ives, sitting outside overlooking the sea. The waitress was so impressed with Syd she gave him a special biscuit treat. Then we strolled around The Tate while Syd waited outside. After that, it was time for a lunch of Pasties (what else, in Cornwall?). By which time we thought we'd better get along to the station for the train home (not looking at watches at all). The train was WAITING for us! All connections strightforward and we were home for a cup of tea by 5pm. Wonderful.

Sadly a lot of my photos seem to have disappeared in the resetting of my computer, even though I thought I'd saved them on a CD. Tant pis. Hope I'll get some good ones in Thailand.

As a wonderful, leisurely, magical trip (lots of leylines!) I'd recommend walking from St Ives to St Ives. And there's a huge number of guest houses if you don't fancy carrying all the gear like we did.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I've just changed to the new beta blogger - seem to have lost a few links in the process. It should be easier to use than messing about with HTML, which I was never that happy with.

Forwarded from the New Zealand midwives' mailing list...

How many midwives does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Two: one to sit there and wait for the old bulb to fall out of the socket naturally with no intervention, and one to give emotional support.
Well - things aren't quite back to normal, but at least I've managed to upload some pics from camera! Unfortunately the camera card went awry with the ones I'd taken of my final secret package and of the before and after raised beds in the garden. :-(
I've put the remaining goodies together - including the beautiful crocheted bead bracelet (in presentation box) that Yvonne gave me at the Knit and Knatter stall in the show at Westpoint, Exeter. The choccies are missing (obviously) - as is the special snowdrop soap, but you can see there was a knitting needle theme and colour coordination (my favourite greens). Look at the lovely stitch markers! I've used them as an inspiration to make some of my own - and given them as a prezzies to two of the most faithful attenders of the Bovey Stitch and Bitch. Yvonne also sent me Debbie Bliss cashmerino with a pattern to make up into a soft and sumptious loopy scarf - I finished that in a week, as you can see!

Here's the beginning of the Kaffe Fassett tumbling blocks bedcover/blanket. I'm knitting it on two circs as it's soooooo loooooong.

I should be finishing off the practice portfolio for the Examination of the Newborn course I started all those months ago. This is deversion therapy. The portfolio is already late in. sigh.


Thankyou all so much for your lovely messages! mwah! mwah!
Still can't upload pics from my camera or from my printer - as can't find the original cds to load software so the PC recognises the hardware. Am going to take the lot to PC world tomorrow morning and have a tantrum, and see if they can't get it sorted -

In the meantime - DS looks great in the fisherman's jumper.
I've started the Kaffe Fassett tumbling blocks bedcover from his 'classics' book - should be the ultimate stash buster and longterm project and great fun (if only for the time spent untangling all the little balls of wool used in the intarsia!).

It's in the background on the cover page - I got sent the hardback version of this book by Glitterlover via Yowllyy as a RABCK - thanks, Glitterlover and Yowllyy!

And I've picked up another UFO - a fairly mindless, knitanywhere, moss stitch baby's jumper from Debbie Bliss' 'Baby Knits'. I started this so long ago, I'd forgotten what it was - and had to search through several books before I found the pattern! And, of course, I still have toe up, Blue Regia socks on the go - nearly finished one, which means I'll probably get 'one sock syndrome' and never get around to starting, let alone finishing, the next...

I'm off to Thailand in a couple of weeks (on my own - dh doesn't like to travel outside of UK!) - hope I can take some knitting on the airplane. And hope I can get camera working properly. I'm flying to Bangkok, and hopefully getting myself a Thai massage before heading down to Phuket for three days sea kakaking around Phang Nga Bay (spelling??!) then back up North to Chiang Mai for Interhash and I'll stay there for the rest of the hols - maybe hire a motorcycle to visit the Bridge over the River Kwai.

Before I messed up camera/printer/PC, I took some before and after pics of my brand new raised beds! Now, you wouldn't think anything would grow this time of year, would you? I have Mizuna, Rocket, Butterhead lettuce and Mispoona growing - there's some spinach and a few spring onions coming up too. I've also had Trotsky the cat from next door digging it all up to use the bed as his own personal loo, and several large brown and black slugs tucking in.

I'm hoping to plant garlic (we LOVE GARLIC!) when the weather gets a little cooler.

Pic of Sydney and his mum, Tilly, taken when I could still upload pics from my camera. Aren't they huggable?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I have not been able to update my blog because of PC problems - after a 'health check' from PCworld, my computer had to be returned to factory settings - so none of my favourite bookmarks have survived, I can't use my printer and can't upload any pics :-(

K, from our knitting group (BoveyTracey S&B) commented that I haven't had much KNITTING on here of late - (haven't had much of anything on here of late!?) - well, I have several FOs to report! I've finished DS's Alice Starmore fisherman's jumper - pics will be made available just as soon as I figure out how to get pics from the camera to my PC again. Despite blocking, the lower edge still curls up. Any tips, anyone?
I've also finished the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino scarf that my secret pal YVONNE sent me! Ta muchly Yvonne, it's just the right colour for me and soooo soft, its scrumdiddlyumptious.
I have a picture of my final secret package ready to upload when I can figure it out. I was so inspired by the scarf pattern I had to start RIGHT AWAY and finished it in the week. Yvonne also thought of DH and sent him two bounty bars and some silk sock yarn which he might get knitted up, or he might not. The Bounty bars went right quick.

I also met Yvonne and WyeSue (lovely, huggy, slightly mad, knitty knutty folk) at the Creative stitchery show at Westpoint this weekend just gone - it was a huge amount of fun learning how to fingerknit and nattering on the knit and knatter stall. The knitted garden was inspirational -and a gingerbread house is in the making, due to be completed next June... Knit and Knattering is so much fun - do it! I also learnt how to knit with wire and beads and was given a BEAUTIFUL bracelet by the multitalented, hugely generous Yvonne. Ta once again.

Must go and do some work. Real life gets in the way again.

Friday, August 18, 2006

HELLO! Blimey, it's nearly the end of August and REVEAL time for Secret Pal 8 (my first ever) and I've been sooooo lucky with my secret pal, even though I've not 'spoken' to her as often as I might, I hope she'll forgive me - I've not got a clue who she is.
Here's a bunch of flowers for her!

It's not my photo, I might add.

What have I been up to? Working. Also fantasising about the vegetable plot that WILL be at the bottom of the garden in place of the chickens that are no more. Am going to have raised beds and plant lots of salads and courgettes and strawberries and tommytoes. Did I tell you about the chicken's demise? The fox (or badger) got them. Nature red in tooth and claw. They were getting very old for chickens - I appear to be a heartless woman but I like badgers and foxes too. Will take some pics next week of the garden to be as I'm on holiday then and should have more time to update this blog. Might have some time to do some knitting too!

I called in our new local yarn store this afternoon - got some goodies for MY secret pal (shh!) - The yarns from New Zealand are really very special, soft and luscious. Am going to join in the 'knitting club' next Tuesday morning, meet some more local knit-wits.

A giggle from a fellow 'deafie':

"I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me two thousand pounds, but it's state of the art."

"Really? What kind is it?"

"Twelve thirty."


Friday, August 04, 2006

I haven't posted for a while - I'm at work and shouldn't be posting NOW but while the anecdote is fresh in my mind:

A couple I am looking after are getting soooo excited as the due date looms nearer - Every braxton hix contraction, they think is labour... Well, t'other night, she wakes up and the bed is SOAKED! Both instantly wide awake, this must be it! Waters must have broken! NO! Our pregnant mother-to-be only fell asleep clutching a glass of water - and that's what soaked the bed. Partner not best pleased at having to change bedlinen in wee hours :-)

Same mother-to-be few days later is drying her hairin the bedroom, enjoying being in the nude as it's so HOT. (Admits was even contemplating a spot of perineal massage - ask me if you don't know!) -Glances up and sees the WINDOWCLEANER at the window - Hides behind wardrobe door, blushing furiously - window cleaner (neighbour's nephew) - quite blase and carries on until he's finished. HA - by the time this baby arrives, I think it'll be kittens!

All these pregnant ladies sitting around in the waiting room, waiting for their appointment with me and NOT ONE OF THEM KNITS! I'm doing my best to convert them.

Back to work, ho hum.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

WALKS cont.

SWCP - Friday

Realised never finished the posts about our holiday walking from St Ives to St Ives!

We had been given a lift (backwards) to the Tower Campsite - so we could get some food. Food not worth talking about.

Next morning we left the campsite on the earliest start yet - 07.25hrs, to get the 7.38hrs bus back to Lamorna Turn. Started walking in the blazing sunshine - heat - granite rock - a runner passes us by. We made it to Mousehole for a full english Breakfast at Pam's Pantry - yum yum. Strolling through Mousehole window shopping - we saw calabrese pillow sculptures and fishy danglings with tins in their middles. The whole place is visual overload.

Walked on in blazing heat and stopped along the way to dry off tents and have a paddle in the sea on a very rocky shore. Eventually we reach Penzance, and stop for a fruit smoothie. Jane went to fetch money from the ATM in town and the machine wouldn't accept her PIN so she sulked.

Walked along the beach - miles of sand and St Michael's Mount approaching. We searched Marazion for a Tourist Information Place but it doesn't exist - so resorted to another cream tea in the Seacove Gallery Tearooms and resisted the Kurt Jackson books on sale.

Walked along more rocky shore past extremely eroded cliffs with houses falling into the sea, all the way to the Victoria Inn in Perranthunoe. NO FOOD as it's father's day and fully booked. Met a very interesting 85 yr old bloke called Joseph who we decided must be a rich, eccentric artist, who was in the same predicament. He gave us a lift (Syd and all) in his brand new yellow mini to Praa Sands. After a relaxing supper we decide to walk back to St Ives from Marazion instead of going on. So the entire expedition has a point - or not - being circular.

I sulk on the way back to the campsite as it's at the TOP of the hill.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Alison's 'Little Bit of Fun to Help Things Along'...
this being my second attempt to post this - I managed to upload three versions this morning then deleted all of them - DUH!

1) What is your favorite season of the year?
Got to be the season of mists and mellow fruitfullness: AUTUMN! I love the colours - yellows, reds, rusts, burnt umber etc. I love the smells: of bonfires and rotting leaves. I like the weather: walking the dogs in breezy autumnal sunshine kicking up piles of leaves, or tucked up in front of a fire with a book (and my knitting) while it rains outside. Mushrooms! Apples!
Harvest feasts!

2) Where is your favorite vacation spot?
OOoo, difficult. I guess I'll go for the generic: I like to be off the beaten track and don't mind roughing it. I like to meet different folk, and love meandering around markets. I love camping in the wilds, by a river or seaside, or in the mountains, forests. I love sitting around campfires playing games or telling ghost stories or singing silly songs.
I'm not a great lover of hot - unless I'm doing something like kayaking on a river or the sea and getting very wet. Favourite places I have been: Morocco, kayaking in the mid Atlas; China, walking Tiger Leaping Gorge; Turkey, rafting slowly down the Euphrates.

3) If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?
I'm going to Thailand in October - that will be fab. But no better than strolling the South West Coast Path in Cornwall - just different. One day I'd like to visit Canada, Peru (or somewhere in South America) and Iceland.
I've done a lot of planning to go kayaking in Slovenia some time soon. As you can see, I wanna go lots of places, roll on retirement!
4) If you could pick any job, and be paid well, what would it be?
I'd probably stay a baby catcher as I'm too long in the tooth to change now, but I'd HALVE my caseload and then I'd have more time to get proficient as an artist and craftsperson.

5) If you were going on vacation for 1 week, and had to take ONLY one project with you, what would it be? Socks are portable and very practical - can pick em up and put em down.

6) If you won a shopping spree to your favorite Yarn shop, what would you get?? What? unlimited funds? The entire stock no doubt! We have a brand new LYS in Bovey Tracey - Have I mentioned it? I'm so excited! It's so new I haven't yet had time to really explore it. See 'Spin a Yarn' for a little info. - site yet to be developed. Disappointingly, Joyce hasn't really stocked any needles but the usual boring grey ones, but YARNS! oh boy!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Second SECRET PAL 8 parcel arrives: Best yet, says tutmut! NUM!

What can it be? I savoured the opening this time... And ate the chocolate smartish, so my son couldn't filch it. (Greedy, ay?) . What's in the gold tissue paper? And here we have it: Yarn Harlot's 'At Knit's End' which has lurked on my wish list for aaaages and has given me a few giggles already. Eg p.50 "A rolling ball of yarn will also roll as far away from you as possible, likely out of the car, down the aisle of the church (where you hoped noone would notice you were knitting), or into any available liquid." I have noticed this phenomenon myself. I give, as an example, a time when I used to knit at bus stops. Specifically one occasion when I was waiting to go to college many moons ago. I hopped on the bus and was moving down the aisle as the bus moved off, when a fellow passenger pointed out the trail of yarn behind me. Yep, I'd left the ball at the bus stop. So I'm standing in the doorway of the bus frantically rolling in my ball of yarn, which is bouncing in every puddle it can find behind the bus...

There is also a set of Addi needles - my first ever. I've heard so many people rave about them, I'll now get a chance to find out what they're going on about. They LOOK posh. Very flash - gold. Also three balls of Louisa Harding softly variagated yarn. SOFT! And probably hugely extravagant. Maybe I should knit a beard with them. Whaddya think? The transparent rectangle is clear glycerine soap. It smells of mandarin - isn't it a wonderful colour? and everything looks mandarin coloured when you look through it. I get so excited about things like this. OK, I'm a big kid. Thanks muchly, hugely, my secret Pal - reckon I'm the luckiest spoilee in the game. There was only one sour puss amidst all this spoildom: DH! He reckons he's going to be washed away in a tidal wave of yarn. Rubbish. Methinks he does exaggerate.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The SWCP - Thursday
We had every intention of capitalising on our extra couple of miles and getting an early start - but the sea had to be paddled in, the stream sloshed about in, and by the time we had breakfasted, photographed, and packed up, it was gone 10am.

Syd is looking fed up! wishes he could unzip his fur coat, let alone the indignity of having to carry a rucksack in this hot sun...

The next ten miles to Lamorna were designated 'strenuous' in our guide book - much up and down compounded by hot sun. We did come across a lovely cafe at St Loy: Cove Cottage for 'walkers only' and had cream tea (recommended), before clambering down to a boulder filled beach... By the time we got to Lamorna we just wanted food, shower, bed. Sadly the pub there didn't serve food - but the barman's wife kindly offered to give us a lift to a campsite at St Buryan's where there was a pub serving food too. So we went 2 1/2 miles backwards towards Porthcurno. Showers were worth it, and we noted we could catch a bus at 7.38am back to Lamorna turn. The bar food was the most average yet, but, when you're hungry!
Argh - blogger is NOT letting me upload AGAIN. More tomorrow (only three more days of trekking left!). Cornwall is beautiful, Rain, unless of course it rains! But I reckon the Lake District must be just as beautiful...
South West Coast Path, Wednesday

We woke up early and got back on the coastal path with the aim of getting to Pendeen in time for breakfast - When we got there, couldn't see any cafes so I went and knocked on the back door of the Radjel Inn because it promised 'bed and breakfast' on the sign outside (the name is from an old nickname for the pub which means a fox's lair, so called as an early landlord was known as Fox), and begged some breakfast from the landlady. She did us proud! We were given cereal, a fry up of eggs, crispy bacon, mushrooms, and bread, the offer of more toast, two mugs of coffee and water for Sydney - all for the princely sum of £5 each. Sitting in the sun, surrounded by petunias - life doesn't get much better.
We stopped off at the shop and bought flapjacks and other emergency foods for later and set off for Cornwall Park Watch, where there was a snack bar for lunch - food not anything like as good as we'd already had.

Picture below is of Cornwall Park...

Just over the hill from Cornwall Park, it had got so hot I had to stop and change into shorts and apply more suntan lotion - we met Mr Richards who chatted with us for over 3/4 hour before we managed to escape. On we trudged to Sennen Cove, where, sadly, dogs aren't allowed on the beach. We met a lady in the pub there who asked if we were camping 'wild' - (grrr). She told us about a magical camping spot above Nanjizal beach not far past Land's End.

The sun was setting as we passed Land's End (which was tacky) and we had just enough light to set up camp on a flat area by an old water mill on a stream which tumbles over a ledge onto the most beautiful little beach . We sat and dunked choccie biscuits and watched the sun disappear. Syd was WET and SMELLY and not coming in MY tent. Oh, alright then.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

South West Coast Path Stroll part the second.

Just to remind you: we're on the second day, and that's me, sitting in the rain, supping a cuppa for breakfast...

The sun had come out by early afternoon by which time we were well on our way to Zennor.

Saw rock sedum and fox gloves amongst other things.

A Dragonfly duo...

My sister saw this snail and snapped him up. By the time we got to Zennor it was 15.30hrs and we'd had enough sun (sacrilege I know!), had sore feet/paws (delete as nec.), twinging ankle, not enough water. We hadn't brought any iodine tabs but decided to blame Jane for any lurgies when we opted to drink from the numerous streamlets running down to the sea. Dried out the soggy tents just past Zennor and then decided to walk on to the Gurnard's Head Hotel for supper. What a wise decision that was: Most wonderful pint that went down smooth, and the food was the best (and not to be surpassed for the rest of the week!). The owner had trained with Davina Allen (Ireland's Delia according to sis) and, for a reasonable cost, our meal was absolutely divine - I had a salad of beetroot, goats cheese and rosemaried lentils - the goats cheese was fresh and sharp. Jane had turbot. The meal was served with soda bread and butter, and we had a side dish of mixed leaves and chips which came crisp on the outside and melting in the middle. MMMmm. Fully refreshed, we decided to walk on to the 'Public convenience' marked on the map, near Morvah. It was closed - but a phone number was given for emergencies! What sort of emergency did they have in mind, we wondered? We camped by the wall in the field next door, all alone and quiet except for the sound of the surf crashing on the rocks in the distance. Another amazing sunset and fair weather forecast. Bliss.

Blogger STILL won't let me upload pics. rassa*!@?mplgrrrrrrrr.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I am a very bad blogger - I have lots of excuses, none of which you want to hear - but I've just found my notebook so I can now tell you about our wonderful holiday. Holiday snaps - yay!
The South West Coast Path: St. Ives to St. Ives
Day One, June 12th
Monday - disorganised as usual. Jane (sis) had had little sleep, travelling overnight on the ferry from Eire, and I had left packing till the last moment. Jane also wanted to buy a bivi tent like mine from Argos - cheap, good value and perfectly adequate for summer backpacking. (Nayy)

So, by the time I've chucked a few things in the rucksack, and Jane has done her shopping, it's 5pm before we get to the railway station - that's my sis, and Sydney the dog under the seat in the shadows. Tilly had to stay at home as she is too elderly to cope with the distance - she was very sad when I left her with friends :-(
Alas, there is serious delays and we have to change at Plymouth and so miss the connection at St Erth. As compensation we get to sit in First Class (that's why I have the cheesy grin) (Note the sock yarn on the table in front of me - my holiday knitting!) - this means that we get into St Ives MUCH later than expected - to witness a glorious sunset...
We wondered around in the dark, up and down cobbled lanes, looking for somewhere to pitch camp: and eventually stumbled on the Ayr Holiday Park - which was fully booked up but had space for two backpackers and one dog. Deluxe showers! Hot running water in gorgeous spumes by the gallon in a luxurious brand new shower block. I discover that my container of instant coffee wasn't closed properly and has distributed granules all over sleeping bag, towel, rucksack - it's amazing how far a few granules can travel. Have to wash out rucksack as best as can. Eau de cafe - verrry nice. By which time it's gone 11pm and everywhere in town is shut up and we haven't had anything to eat :-( We envisage a late start in the morning and a HUGE FRY UP!
Jane uses her brand new lightweight MSR stove and storm matches - which are a tad over the top in civilised St Ives but make us a reasonable cup of coffee with remaining granules and fluff.
The only drawback was very loud neighbours who insisted in staying up all night drinking beer and discussing football - only to disappear off site at around 5am without paying.

Day two: Tuesday June 13th
It's raining! We remain optimistic because the weather forecast promises brighter weather later. Jane wears red poncho - she thinks she looks like some S. American jungle fighter. NO comment. We have a lovely breakfast roll stuffed with bacon and egg for breakfast with some real coffee to wash it down from a kiosk run by a surfer type on the site. Spend morning wondering around St Ives buying maps from tourist info and map case, two pasties and clotted cream fudge for later. Syd starts to attract much attention with his 'Outward Hound' panniers - has his photograph taken by complete stranger. WE finally set off on the coast path at 11.30hrs.

Along the route we see: dogrose, rock sedum, mallow, daisies, fox gloves, sea campions, ragged robin, sea thistles, thrift, yellow flag, pennywort and fushcias.
And here I'm going to have to stop as blogger won't allow me to upload any more pics :-(

Monday, June 12, 2006

HOT off press:- Secret Pal 8 package arrives:

Never mind opening with infinite care and patience, tutmut rips open the envelope and scatters contents amongst daisies, whilst dogs look on in wonderment at the foibles of humans.

The cloth matches my kitchen and will hang around in there to grab pots with, methinks.The rest is colour coordinated - look! The book has a beautiful hand stitched cover over a hand made paper inside - Secret Pal has similar book tucked inside knitting hold-all to make notations on experiments. I'm not sure I could be so organised, but I'll give it a go. (She has not seen the chaos that is my knitting containers). The needles are from Peace Fleece - I've been hankering after some for ages, they're so cute.They are of a size to knit the Alpaca yarn from Devon Alpacas. Yes - local pushmepullyous giving up yarn to a local mill that I never knew existed - in Tiverton. It is incredibly soft and very cuddly. Altogether a fab presi.
Thank you muchly, Secret Pal!