One two three hop,

Back two three hop… goes the progressive barn dance. And so it is with all Ruthven home improvements. The lovely Barry painted and papered the big spare room in double quick time, the carpet fitters were secured for a few days hence. The carpet does indeed look lovely and tones nicely with the wallpaper. Pity the wardrobe door fell off smashing the very oddly shaped (and thus hard to replace) mirror…. Solace might have been had with the TV in the newly redecorated library, but attempts to remove and replace the ariel cable broke the input. The new TV is in its cardboard box in the kitchen and the TV stand is in the middle of the library floor so as to make space for Keith to wriggle in and connect the inputs. As he decided not to label the wires and can’t remember which is which, there is to be a test run tomorrow. On this last point I cannot quibble, it was with the same confidence that I told the lady in the health food shop not to bother labelling bags of replacement spices and I have a fun game of blind taste identification coming up. Amazing how many are brown isn’t it…..

Christmas preparations proceed in a similar vein. On realising I had made the pockets in Keith’s innovative knitted frock coat at slightly different heights I resolved to unravel the top of the lower and knit a bit more to even it up. I had, unfortunately, sewed it up and when trying to unpick the seam I blithely snipped a hole in the body (which I have been labouring over for months). Mum was there, covering her eyes in horror and whimpering a bit so I remained impressively calm pour encourager les autres. This came hot on the heels of my having unravelled a foot of Lachlan’s Christmas jumper because the contrast in the fair isle horse/background was not all I would wish. Truly, if an asteroid hits I will have nerves of steel. It is not some rangy bloke with big ears the world need to send against the alien menace, it is the woman who can calmly unravel her knitting and recommence. FACT. As it happens, the pocket reconstruction and new fair isle design have both worked out so whilst not entirely back on track, there is hope of a timely completion.

On the catering front, mince pie production has ramped up, and I have taken to labelling the pies so you can see what mincemeat is included. Admittedly, today’s multitasking went a bit awry. Having put the second batch in the oven, I moved on to the fairisle jumper. A bit later when Keith came through to the lounge to make a salacious joke (doubtless egged on by Lachlan who is now home for the duration) he was somewhat taken aback when I screamed, leaped from the sofa and ran for the kitchen. Batch 2 (lettered P for plum) has a distinctly darker tan than “G” for ginger, but after quality control tasting I can confirm they are both fine. Facebook maliciously sent me a picture this afternoon confirming that this time last year I had iced the Christmas cake, but that is tomorrow’s job, along with curing the two sides of salmon I picked up yesterday after getting my booster shot. Or possibly not, as some spare tulips needing planting have come to light.

Amidst all this domestic bustle, I have squeezed in some wonderful walks. We had a very wet and muddy walk to Simprim when, unusually, I came back even muddier than Lyra thanks to a speeding lorry and puddle combo on the single track road. Even my pockets were filled with water – the dog biscuits went soggy so Lyra just had to eat them all. I also, finally, braved the woodland walk at the Hirsel. What devastation! The usual pathways were totally blocked. However, we skirted the field and found a way through to the lower section, which was fine. It will regenerate, but it is so sad to see so many trees down. A trip to Mum’s gave me a lovely evening wander round the Haining (much less affected, though still quite a few trees down) and the last few days we have had gloriously blowy walks along the riverside. Today I spotted two herons, a young one and then further along a huge fat fellow. I am wondering if this is a youngster moving out and establishing his or her own beat not too far from the old folks. They are remarkably still, herons. I find I am almost convinced I have misled myself, and am staring at an old plastic bag, when there’s a tiny twitch. The patience of the angler…

Lachlan and Keith have just returned from the pub. Apparently they met a prophet led by God there and bought him a pint. He advised that a volcano in the Canary Islands was soon to erupt causing a tsunami that would rupture various East Coast nuclear facilities in the States. You heard it here first, but fear not – Coldstream and district has a lot of keen knitters.

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