OK, rant over. Normal service is resumed. It was great though to find how many of you share my wish that we could all relax, accept that we grow older, and be comfortable in our own skin.
Saturday here was a beautiful golden day, autumn at its absolute best. Younger son and daughter in law were staying for the weekend and we all went walking. I love the way here that you can walk, really walk with grass and heather, hills and views to the horizon, right from the door.
The dog loved it too. You can just see her at the top of the path, whizzing back to check where we were, before heading off again at a joyous lope.
As we walked up to the end of the road we met a local farmer. "Better just hop over the stile there" he said. "I'm bringing the cattle down." Safely on the far side of the gate, we watched as the herd came down from the hill, driven from behind by two guys on one very small moped.
I don't know how many there were, sixty or seventy perhaps, all determined to eat whatever they could snatch as they powered down the hill.
Our daughter in law was determinedly collecting fungi. She has an amazing eye for even the smallest. This is only a fraction of what she brought home and these we identified, with reasonable certainty, from my fungi book. She was all for eating them, or at least the chanterelles on the left, but Chris was determined that she should not. One of the troubles with medical training is that you are far too close to the horror stories about people who died following misidentification of mushrooms, so rather sadly we threw them away. Oh for the French system of taking them to the pharmacist! What a civilised country.
We ate a lot, drank some wine, chatted and caught up with each other. When they went the house seemed very quiet and empty - in the last fortnight we have had two visiting dogs and visits from our younger daughter as well and all that lovely warmth and life was a delight. It's a bit quiet now.
You can tell when autumn has really arrived up here because the garden shrinks away and stops occupying most of my brain. This is a real relief. I love my garden. I obsess about it for most of the year but by the time October is blowing out I am close to fed up with it. I have had enough. I want some time and head space back for other things. Does this happen to other gardeners? Just to turn my back on it, to sod the dandelions and the overgrown artemisia, not to think about it and let the garden go is a relief. I will get out there sometime in November. I will plant tulips and tidy up a bit, although I will leave a lot for the birds, but just now I have had enough. I am wholly ready to turn my back, go inside and shut the door.
It is time to dig out the knitting which was put away in the spring. Firstly the socks on double pointed needles.
This is only my second pair of knitted socks. I think I am improving and I love this Regia wool but I am still seriously slow on four needles. Anyone who knows the secret of avoiding the "ladder" effect when you move from one needle to the other, please let me know! I was so fed up with my first attempt at this sock that I pulled back what I had done, perhaps twice as much as this, and started again. I spent some time trawling the internet for sock knitting tips and am trying the "give a little tug at the second stitch of the new row" suggestion. If you know better, tell me please!
Because this is clearly a long term project, I thought I would have a quick diversion to do something satisfyingly speedy. I bought Melanie Falick's "Weekend Knitting" at Waterstones in Chester, a really gorgeous book that is full of things that make you feel like having a go.
These fingerless gloves are from her book and are the simplest, fastest thing you can imagine, all made in knit stitch, you don't even need to know how to purl, and each glove is easy for even a slow knitter like me to do in a single evening. Mmmm, they say you can tell someone's age from their hands you know. Let's move on...
I like to have a couple of projects on the go simultaneously: the mindlessly easy one which you can do when you are chatting or watching television and the need to concentrate one which requires your full attention and which is, I am sure, some form of meditation. The socks are the concentrating one, for me anyway. This crocheted blanket is the mindless one. This makes it look a good deal more done than it is because I have as usual bitten off more than I can chew. This is meant to be a blanket for a kingsized bed so these two stripes will be about a third of the finished blanket, so while it might be easy it is another long term project! I started this last year when my father in law was in hospital. We seemed to spend a lot of time sitting by his bed and the early stages of the blanket were both portable and soothing to do. The balance between the mindless and the complex has to be watched. Sometimes I might do some of both in one evening. Do too much of the mindless and it becomes simply boring. Do only the complicated and slow, and the inching snail like progress begins to get me down. Butterfly mind.
So close the door, light the fire, pull the chair close. The garden has had its turn for this year.