Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Smoke on the water

Well, you'll not find it in the pub anymore, anyway.

In response to Jean's comment. We appear to have survived the first few days of the Scotland-wide ban on smoking in substantially-enclosed public places. There is a great deal of bad feeling locally about the ban, but fortunately for us, it appears that blame is being placed squarely where it belongs: on the politicians. As we're expected to police the ban (after all, publicans are used to dealing with violent situations, aren't they?) and deal with any unpleasantness, we had been a bit worried. The enforcers have been told not to confront anyone in case they provoke a "situation" (apparently they are supposed to follow a smoker home and then send a letter fining them for enfringement) but we're just expected to get on with it!

The ire of the locals is actually less focussed on the pub than on what they see as a completely unjustified invasion of their homes. If you have a home help, or cleaner, or any tradesman, working in your house, you are not permitted to smoke for the duration of their visit, and for two hours before they arrive. As one wag put it yesterday: If all they can tell you is "8am to 8pm" for a visit from a council workman, what do they expect?

The true test of compliance will be on Saturday, when people are less sober, and may simply forget, or may push the limits with smoking as they do with just about every other house rule. We'll also get a better feel for the effects on custom, as those who come in through the week would probably be there even if we didn't have a roof: the habit is so strong.

The details of the ban are a tad on the rediculous side. Smoking is banned in substantially-enclosed public places. According to the executive, this is as plain as the nose on your face, and means that if something has a roof, it has to have at least 50% of its wall space missing, not including doors and windows. Sadly, it's about as clear as mud, leaving the local enforcers (environmental health) to interpret as they see fit.

The result, here in the Borders at least, is the following:
1. See above for definition of a substantially enclosed space.
2. Add: any wall within 1.5 metres of your structure counts as part of the wall area for purposes of calculation
3. A "structure" can include plants, hedges etc

Yes, that's right. If I put a few plants (which actually absorb pollutants) in my beer garden, they will be used in the calculation. if your garden hedge has grown a few inches, you could inadvertantly infringe the ban, as the open area has been reduced....


As the beer garden is actually a courtyard, we're a bit stuck on how to fit an awning which has two sides open, and isn't closer than 1.5m to any other wall. Environmental health suggested a triangular awning in one corner. I declined to point out the impossibility of getting the longest side of a triangle to be greater than 50% of the total.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sock yarn

I am not a happy camper. I bought one ball of Sirdar's Town and Country sock yarn from the local shop, just to try.

I am very very glad I only bought one ball of the colour "Volcano". I can't show you a photo, as the camera is still on strike, but trust me, it's awful.

I use baby bootees as a test knit for sock yarns, as I get to see what the colours look like and a finished item far quicker than I would if I started a pair of socks. For the first time ever I have given up after a single bootee. The general consensus in the pub is "horrible". I agree. Frankly, the colours which have been used just don't go together.

They look all right in the ball (see above), but knitted up it honestly looks like I've just grabbed random black, dirty pink, yellow-ish and maroon bits from the bottom of my knitting bag, and worked them all together.


I've reverted to Opal and Regia for bootees. They both result in lovely socks, and I've yet to find a colourway that didn't work, although there are plenty that I don't particularly like.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


We (Scotland) beat Italy in Rome yesterday. It was great. A close game, with lots of clever tactics - some of which even paid off. Then Ireland beat England in London. That was just brilliant. My barmaid, who generally doesn't see the point of rugby, was engrossed, and the rest of us were enthralled.

The six nations thus ended:
I don't think that's a particularly fair reflection on how Wales played, but the combination of winning the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield, and then finishing above England on the table is very pleasing indeed.

The BBC will ignore this, as they ignored the Calcutta Cup victory, but for once we have beaten England both in the actual game and on points overall, and Scotland is happy.

I am knackered. This was our first really busy weekend of this year, with the Border Counties Rally on Saturday. Both teams which stayed with us retired, which is the same result as last year, although different teams.

The rally is held mainly on Forestry Commission and MOD land around Otterburn and Keilder. You can see pictures of the 2005 event here. This year it was snowy, and the marshalls were a bit twitchy about letting spectators get close to the course, so I've not been able to find any pictures yet.

On both Friday and Saturday night we were up until around 02.00 with guests in the pub, and on both Saturday and Sunday morning we had early breakfasts from 07.00: do the sums yourself.

Thank you Franklin and Alison for your compliments on the Nudibranch pattern. I have to admit: I rather like it myself.

Still not much progress on any other knitting, but I do have my next design in mind....

Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm impressed

Very impressed indeed, by B.L Joshi, which is a fabric shop in Wembley which does mail order (important when you live in mamba country). I phoned yesterday to ask them how I'd go about getting a price list, and what to do about samples. Today, I received a fat parcel with a personal letter, a price list, and (despite what they said about needing to give them more information before they sent specific samples) lots and lots of tiny squares of fabric.

Details, for those who are interested:
Charlie & Bina
B.L. Joshi, 212-214 Ealing Rd, Wembley, HA0 4QG
0208 903 0653

I'm waiting for info from another shop in Linlithgow, and will post details when that arrives.

Still no cleaner, so no knitting, and precious little free time.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


A blog I've started reading recently, is Musings from the Merse - a writer in Hutton, Berwickshire (not Cumbria, sorry!)

The fire safety risk assessment proceeds at glacial pace (not perhaps the best of analogies - more like a damp fuse....) not helped by the absence of our cleaner this week. Compassionate leave, for very good reasons, but still a pain in the tail.

Off to get new glasses today, I hope, as the lenses on the existing ones appear to be delaminating. Trying to see through large white streaks is not improving my mood one little bit.

A 2-year-old size cardigan for a newly arrived little girl. Colour "Pilau Rice" according to the pub customers. Pattern from a very old P&B leaflet I bought in a charity shop, but modified to be top-down and in one piece. No piccies: but John's mum has offered a camera for the significant birthday pressie, so that should change in fairly short order.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I hate it

when I'm proved right. At least with regard to the weather.

It's not bad here in Jed: a little light sleet and not even cold enough to need gloves. Bonchester, Penicuik, Peebles, the Carter Bar & Soutra are all bad, and our workmen guests have very sensibly come back to the hotel and gone back to bed.

No pictures, I'm afraid, due to the unwell digital camera.

Thanks to Jean, I now have two designs available at The Knitting Vault. Much to my delight and amazement, when I checked yesterday I had sold a whole two copies of Chantelle. Nudibranch should be up within the next few days.

Excuse me while I do an Andy Murray.

Other crafty stuff
I need to dig out the sewing machine. I cannot find blouses which a)fit and b)suit me. One or the other seems to be achievable.

Does anyone have any well-loved sources for fabric etc. that they'd care to share? Mail order is preferable - internet, post or phone will do - or alternatively something in the circle defined by Edinburgh, Berwick, Newcastle & Carlisle. All are under 90 minutes drive away, and so could conceivably be reached on one of my rare days off.

We attempted to fit a new light yesterday. Bought from B&Q, it doesn't come with a bulb. Said bulb is a very odd type of energy-saving fluorescent - which B&Q don't stock. A joint sense-of-humour-failure ensued when we discovered that the only way to source said fluorescents was mail-order, and involved spending more on postage than the bulb was going to cost.

Strangely (or perhaps not) B&Q don't seem to see any problem with stocking fittings but not the required light bulbs....

I need to update the Fire Risk Assessment for the hotel. Yuck. An extended silence will mean I am either very busy working on it, or that the frustration has all become too much.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Well, sort-of. The air has lost its chill, and there is a lovely damp-earth-and-growing sort of smell as I walk around the town today. One of the benefits of living where we do is the lack of pollution - there is lichen growing on trees and paving right in the town centre. It will, of course, be frosty and cold again: you really can't be sure of good growing weather until May is out (that's the plant, not the month) properly.

The old farming advice was: if you can drop your breeks and sit on the field, then you can sow. I think I'll pass on that one! I do, however, need to start thinking about tubs for the beer garden, and possibly window boxes for the front of the hotel. The council provides hanging baskets quite late on in the season, but they are pretty dire and don't last despite our best efforts at watering.

Monday, March 06, 2006


The most recent Interweave Knits magazine has just arrived, and while there is much to peruse, first impressions are less than stellar Mar has written a wonderful ode to bobbles, and my reaction to the cover is rather similar, if a bit shorter.

Having said that, the offerings within the UK are much much less inspiring. For something in excess of £3, you can delight in 16 patterns: at least two will be crochet; of the remainder, at least three will be "variations" on one pattern i.e. they used a different yarn, and at least one will be along the lines of You Knit What, and often more than that.

I know that most magazines are a)tied to using yarns provided by their main advertisers and b)desperately trying to come up with a way to make any garment in under 4 hours. For some obscure reason, despite the fact that many of the yarns cost more per ball than an entire garment from Asda or Primark, they still then go on and on about the fact that "knitting will save you money", and that "knitting isn't just for grannies any more".

Sigh. I feel quite curmudgeonly myself, and I'm not (quite) 30 yet. I knit because I love to knit, and I know very well that I could buy something which will keep me just as warm for a significantly smaller investment in both time and money. That's not why I do it, and until the magazines etc. realise that I will continue to trawl ebay for old copies of Jaeger Magazine, where fine gauge, well-tailored knitwear is the norm, and the occasional blip of "trendy" is just that.

The digital camera has gone on strike. It will sometimes switch on, but it declines to take a picture under any circumstances, and I am quite bereft. I was going to ask for money towards a new phone for my birthday, but I think it might need to be a camera instead. My film SLR Minolta (manual!) is lovely for recording things, but not for blogging.

I sent my cleaner home early today - to bed. That's meant 6 hours in the pub on my own, and I'm tired. I'll be more positive about what I achieved tomorrow.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I try to take one day at a time....

but lately several have attacked me at once!

Thank you Jean and Dawn for your comments on the website. As an ex mac-user and now linux user (under protest) I'm very aware of the trouble that bells-and-whistles can cause, so it's good to know that the site works on more than just my PC.

Tonight, for some unknown reason, just about everyone under the age of 35, and a few over, has decided that the Spread is the place to be. Last night we closed early, as it was so quiet, but tonight is more than making up for it. Normally we'd have one member of staff behind the bar, with one of us on call: tonight it has been two behind the bar for most of the evening, with one roving glass-collecter-cleaner-upper-trouble-spotter in the pub.


I am sitting down with a well-deserved cup of tea, but will be back in the fray any minute now.

Unsurprisingly, hasn't progressed at all. I do, however, need to post a picture of Chantelle knitted by a member of the Ample Knitters mailing list. I don't have permission to post her name, but here's the lovely lady:
Pink Chantelle

If you're one of the many members of the list who asked for a copy of the pattern while I was having it test-knitted, and you'd be happy for me to add your picture to the album, please send the file (just about any format will do) to me here

Jean has very kindly knitted my latest effort a designing, the Nudibranch scarf, and I really must get back to her with answers to the very valid points she raised. Then I can see about finding someone to host the pattern for me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Website design

As you may have noticed, the knitting has been a bit thin on the ground recently. I have, however, finally completed the rewrite of the hotel website and would very much appreciate any feedback, advice, whatever, that you see fit to provide.

Aside from that, my cleaner has been off sick, as has one of my bar staff, so I've not been making much progress on anything other than the essential day-to-day stuff which keeps the place open.

Country living
The joys of.... Last night one of my regulars wanted a taxi home at 11.45pm. Not really a problem if you live in the city. I tried four local taxi firms, none of whom were answering, and eventually drove him the 6 miles out of town myself. The roads are unlit outside of the town itself, and it was seriously cold, and there's no way he could have walked it.

We do provide the same service for guests, if needed. There are a few long-distance walks which run near or through the town, and as John has done the walking thing for years, we understand that the last mile into your hotel can sometimes just be a mile too far....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ok, so I'm going on a bit....

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