Go slow, go sloe…

a handful of sloesFor many weeks I’ve been on a go-slow, drinking coffee each morning while reading about living and dying. Then on work days I’d take a bus, swinging past the Downs, shops, signs, sometimes juddering to a stop in road works. Resting. Today I rejoined the cycling to work contingent (and drank my coffee in the office instead, while starting Outlook for the day). I felt the goodness of cycling, being under my own power. Swooshing down hills, and smiling.

I passed ripe sloes the other day as I walked from the bus to the office. Today I went back to pick a few at lunchtime, expecting to end up with nothing more than a largish handful, but there were many, many, many. I picked and picked. I caught snatches of conversation from across the road where a woman and her kids discussed the scene: “Blackberries? No…elderberries.” “No, no,” I thought. “Sloes. The fruit of the blackthorn tree.” Then I heard an “excuse me” and there was the family, in the car in their drive, ready to pull out. Curiosity was expressed. “They’re sloes, like little plums,” I said. “You can make sloe gin with them.”

I think I spent over half an hour picking sloes. Later on I cycled them home, tucked up safe in a pannier. Tonight I have pored over them, removing stems and leaves, piling them high in a colander. Lovely, lovely sloes. I will make sloe gin with you.

I made elderflower vinegar earlier this summer, with elderflowers I somehow managed to catch. I was sure I was to miss them this year. But I didn’t, so made a bit of bottled sunshine, good on salads. The other end of the summer will bring the elderberries. I want to catch them too if I can, before they’re gone, and make a tonic to spice up colder days (and keep winter ailments at bay).

Sloes in colander

Hyperbolic crochet and other things

Finished this developmental toy for a friend’s baby today. It’s created by increasing in every stitch as you go around and is in fact also a model of hyperbolic space. Shouldn’t every young child have a model of hyperbolic space? They should.

Hyperbolic crochet toyHave also been crocheting hearts for a friend’s wedding. My flat is becoming littered with these cheerful little things.

Crocheted heartI woke up this morning really craving some ‘morning muffins’ of some sort, so I baked these. They’re carrot, apple and pumpkin seed muffins made with spelt flour, and I think they’re great. Especially fresh from the oven and with a bit of butter. Mmm.

Spelt breakfast muffins

Words I thought were amusing when I first came to England

On 1 October 1996, I landed in England for the first time.

It’s a long story as to why I’m still here. But in my first months, as a study abroad student at Exeter University, I wrote pages and pages of journal text. Mostly prose, snatches of poetry and song lyrics, quotes from novels. (I was twenty years old and an earnest English major.)

There were also lists. Lists of the contents of rolls of film, lists of pubs I’d visited (I was twenty years old and American.) And lists of the amazing new vocabulary to be found in the United Kingdom. I present you with an actual listing here.*

  • fruit machine
  • football
  • ring
  • telly
  • biscuit
  • coach
  • minibus
  • for let
  • MP
  • lie in
  • knickers
  • pants
  • shag
  • bonk
  • snog
  • hire
  • sacked
  • pensioners
  • full up
  • bedsit
  • track suit bottoms
  • sod off
  • bugger
  • take the piss

An eclectic lexicon to say the least. Try reciting the list like a bit of a performance poem and it’s even better.

I was twenty years old and then, as now, I liked words. All sorts of words…

*The original text, which is labelled “glossary – more words and expressions and stuff”, also defined each of the terms. It was a true work of scholarship.

Boobie beanie blog

No, it’s not a sequel to The Blog of B, just an alliterative reference to my latest crochet creation. Not long ago a friend on facebook posted a link to a blog that providing a witty take on discreet breastfeeding. I found the visuals hilarious, and being in possession of a friend who had just given birth, I immediately sent the link to her. The response was something along the lines of ‘I would pay good money for the laughs – can you make me one?!’ I could, and I have!

I used the pattern here. It was a simple enough project, and amusing too – from the nipple shaping at the beginning (how clever!) through to the near error when the hat suddenly grew too large and a quick and dramatic breast reduction had to be performed.

Crocheted boobie beanie
The completed boobie beanie waits to be taken to its new owner

This evening the finished masterpiece was presented to its new owner – brand new herself – who gently fussed as the suspense in the room began to rise. Would it fit ok? And more importantly, would it give the new (and very weary) mother a good laugh? Well, I’m pleased to report the boobie fit perfectly and did not fail in its mission to inspire mirth. The only concern was that the little one will soon outgrow her new headwear. But never fear, my hook and yarn shall be at the ready to create the next boobie size up, should it be required…

“Not all those who wander are lost.”