Monday, April 30, 2007

The Sea, The Sea

Well, despite appearances I have been doing something other than working & playing around in our garden (although they seem to be the two dominant features of my life currently!)

I have been knitting, although fairly tedious pieces that don't warrant much discussion. I have also enjoyed getting to know my Secret Pal a bit better, which has been heaps of fun. I have been trying to give myself a bit of extra care, given recent stressful experiences (read, more baths!). I have been enjoying the sunshine and in particular, drinking Kopparberg Swedish pear cider (only from a giant red wine goblet!) and Aperol wine spritzers with orange slices, my two new favourite spring drinks! I have not been exercising due to sore knees. And I have been reading..
I have just started To The Lighthouse (Virginia Wolf) which I can't believe I have never read, and I have, in line with new years resolutions, bought a lovely old tattered copy of Sholokhov's And Quiet Flows the Don, which I am hoping to take with me on holiday soon. And I have just finished reading Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea (1978).

I bought a Murdoch book (The Bell) last year, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I purchased it in an effort to read some UK fiction whilst here, and it really does have a sense of place. So when I saw The Sea (lets leave it at that from now on) in a charity shop, I snapped it up. Interestingly, it is both strongly resonant of The Bell (1973), and completely different. The Bell has a much more straightforward structure, which highlights the beauty of the prose. The characters are interesting, without being overly 'likeable' - the sense that everyone has faults is clear. In contrast, The Sea has an unusual structure - purportedly a diary but never quite fitting this genre. The prose, again, is beautiful and clear, and there is a more defined sense of human foibles and frailty. The entire story is told from the protagonist's view. It is in this sense that the diary structure rings true - the narrator's self-delusions are excruciatingly clear to the reader. He is a revisionist self-historian in many ways. And yet, I was never truly comfortable with the character. For a first person narrative, the distance between the reader & the protaganist felt too great - I like the idea of a dislikeable narrator, however I still need to have a sense of why I should continue reading. I did continue, and I did like this book. Alot. It is beautifully clever, and a masterpiece of technical writing I am sure. But it just didn't quite capture me. The introduction to this edition, by John Burnside, ends in identifying her body of work as a study on ideals and imperfection. This seems true - in many ways this book is beautiful, and wonderful, and yet it feels....almost like it has reached a level of perfection in one way that has come at the cost of that intangible 'something'. I am now committed to reading more Murdoch - I'll let you know how it goes!

Sadly, the only picture of the sea that I could find without resorting to my archive photos! It is the Med, from a city beach at Barcelona. Not at all the type of sea that Murdoch refers to, but at least a picture to liven up this dreary word-heavy post!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Eye Candy Friday Again!

Wow - Friday already, and thank goodness! What a week! Happy Friday to you all.
This doesn't look like much but of all the miles I have clocked up this week on the road (and there are far far too many), a huge percentage are driving past fields of rapeseed (canola) that look like this. Seas of stunning (but stinky) yellow. Spectacular, but somewhat disturbing. Even more freaky when you get out for a closer look. I had to hold the camera up to get this shot - all I could see what a few flower heads in front of me.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I told you I've been knitting...

Truly, I have. Only, in my haste to post some knitted gifts, I forgot to take pics! But I have promises that the recipients will send me some pictures, which I can share. In the meantime I have this:
It is the start of something....I will share more if it actually works! The first time of knitting without a pattern. But it is beautiful yarn - Patons Jet in a lovely pink that hasn't been captured here - much more of a dusky rose colour. It knits up beautifully! Except there are several poor joins in the yarn, which sneak up on you. Not so good.

This is a baby blanket for my new nephew, knitted in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. It is apple green & cream 2 stranded. The apple green is not the colour I thought it would be when I purchased it online, but I have grown to like it and it looks very fresh and springlike in its finished form. The blanket has become larger, as at the halfway point I decided it was too small! So I am awaiting some more yarn, before I can complete it. But it is looking good. Now I just have to get it to Australia!

This weekend we went to look at bluebell woods in south Oxfordshire. Very very beautiful, although hard to capture on camera. You'll just have to take my word for it.

And finally, this lovely thing poked its head up in my garden over the weekend. I have no idea what it is - does anyone know? It looks like a bulb, with very plain, almost grasslike leaves. It is much more 'shimmery' and rich in colour than you can see here. I think it is beautiful!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Spring is in full swing in my garden - take a look at these beauties, ready to burst into bloom!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Sad News

Well, about an hour after my last buoyant blog entry I heard that my Nan had died. She was buried today. It is unbearably hard being away from family at this time. I love her and I miss her. I can't say any more.
However, after a horribly sad week, there was better news....just an hour or so before my Nan's funeral, my sister in law went into labour, and gave birth a very short time later to a beautiful boy. I feel so very sad and so very happy all at once. I look forward to meeting this new family member soon! Right now, I'm going to have a well earned glass or two of wine.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sunshine, Lollypops & Rainbows......

Sunshine aplenty for the last four days and I am feeling grand! Amazing what a little light therapy can do for the stress levels. After a horrible week of workplace stress and disorganisation, a few days in sunny Bristol have sure done the trick. We made sure we have had Easter Monday at home though, to thoroughly catch up on things and get un-house-stressed as well. I am determined that this week will be better!

Anyway, the garden is looking wonderfully rambling, and there are all sorts of delights popping up hither and thither....

These are seeds we are growing in a beautifully home-made glass case on top of our shed. Turns out the seeds love it! They are getting ready to live up the road in our new allotment...there is rocket, cos lettuce, cherry tomato, basil, two types of parsley and runner beans all trying to germinate in there! Hopefully this will be for planting out round one (for an early harvest), followed by planting out round two and maybe even seeds in the ground later on?! Growing stuff in England turns out to be a whole lot harder than growing stuff in the antipodes! But still fun.

There is knitting to show I is all still gift knitting though. But very soon some of the gifts will be shipped off, which means I can almost post! Betchya can't wait!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Secret Pal 10 Competition

Oh! A competition! Who could resist?!
Well, to answer the SP10 competition questions set by Bobbi, our wonderful SP10 group organiser person:
1. How old were you when you learned to knit? & 2. Who taught you?
I think I was about 6 or 7 (does this sound right, Mum?). I learned to embroider around this age, from my Nan. I loved embroidery - I would embroider these little printed doileys, and she would crochet lace edgings for them. My memory is that mum taught me to knit. She could knit, and knitted various things for us. At one stage I even remember a spinning wheel being in the house, although I am not sure about that! Anyway, I think she taught me to knit. I remember it being difficult, much more difficult than embroidery, so I preferred that for many years. I needed mum's help to cast on, to help me get started again every time I picked it up after a break, and help to cast off. Really, I could just knit and purl (interestingly, I have always liked knitting more than purling). I made squares. Not squares for a rug or anything, but squares. I think they were dolls blankets, or doll house blankets if I got bored very quickly. Some turned into cat blankets, as I didn't have that many dolls and wasn't really interested in them. I don't remember what the cats did with them! I do remember they were often stripey, due to the scrap knitting nature of things.
For all of this time I have old memories of wool, some of which was from unfinished objects, some of which is still in my mum's cupboards. Horrible, scratchy, seventies coloured wool. I also remember knitted bikinis, thanks to my other grandmother. I seem to remember those being in the same colour as the dreaded balaclava (also scratchy). Seems surprising I returned to knitting at all really!
Anyway, thats my answer, and I stand by it. I think.