Monday, July 31, 2006

I know we need the rain

but could it not have arrived in a controlled manner over several days,
rather than dumping a week's worth in two hours....?

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

I miss

lots of things. But yesterday, I was reminded of how much fun it was to help run a cub scout pack.

We had a family of three, plus granny, plus friend, staying over the past two nights. The two boys were getting distinctly twitchy sitting in the breakfast room waiting for the adults to finish with tea, toast and papers, and I suggested that they pop out into the beer garden. They asked to be given something to do, and spent a happy half hour sweeping the flagstones. Dad was happy too, as he got to sit out in the sun with his paper and cigarette keeping an eye on them while the ladies went off and did shopping-y things.

The boys were keen to do more today. Fortunately, when they asked me if they could go outside, I deferred to Mum.... They were told in no uncertain terms that packing was a more appropriate use of their time.

Cue Prince Herbert in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".

One of these years, when I actually have spare time (what a wonderful concept) I'll see about getting involved with cubs again.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


(that was the penny dropping....)

I've been in private correspondence with a few cyber-friends about a blouse which I'm attempting to make.

I've modified just about everything about the pattern (a first for me) including bust darts, back size, sleeve cap, waist shaping, hip size, etc. etc. etc. As a result of all that, I've been snarling at the partially-completed garment for several months now.

It fits through the shoulders better than anything I've either made or bought (Yippee!).
It fits over my bust (amazing!) without being baggy under the arms.

However, below the waist it was a complete horlicks. It would not hang straight. So, last night I undid the side seams to the waist, repinned the front darts, and the back darts, and sewed them up again. I wasn't happy with the solution I'd come up with, but I was so fed up of that bundle of fabric sitting there smirking at me, that I decided to just finish it and try and fix the pattern next time.

This morning, as I was doing a spot of painting, the penny dropped.

The bust darts are too small (too shallow?). Anyway, the grain is off by rather a lot at the lower edge, with the result that the unpinned side seams droop and curve severely towards the centre of the blouse. That might just explain why I had to pin the front darts so that they didn't come to a point at the bottom in order not to have huge folds of fabric from waist to lower edge.

Sigh. That means unpicking six darts, and the side seams, and faffing about with pins in an attempt to get a smooth line. This is one time when recruiting hubby to help with the fitting may not be a good idea: he's liable to get distracted, I suspect.

Still, this feels like a much better solution (as in, more likely to work) than my messing about with the darts below the waist. No pictures till it's done, though - that would be far to embarrassing!

Monday, July 24, 2006

If you're visiting a small hotel....

and you want your host(ess) to be able to honestly say "it was lovely to have you here, please do come back" rather than through gritted teeth, here are a few pointers.

  • Wash all the makeup off your face before drying it with the fluffy white towels (it's very hard to get foundation and lipstick, not to mention mascara, stains out of towelling)
  • order what you really would like to eat at breakfast (it gets depressing when untouched food is returned to the kitchen)
  • Ask, if there's something that would make your stay more pleasant (generally we're delighted to be able to help, even if it means moving you to another room if one's available)

  • sit and seethe about something and only mention it in passing as you leave when it's far to late for me to fix it
  • make a hot chocolate and feed it to the pillow, or the carpet
  • smoke in the bedrooms (it's illegal, could result in a hefty fine to both you and the landlord, and extremely inconsiderate of anyone staying after you)
  • stomp about at 3am, waking up everyone else in the building
  • demand a drink in the wee small hours because it's your "right" to have one as you're resident, and you're drunk enough not to realise that you've already had enough (no-one has a right to be served alcohol, and it's illegal for me to serve someone who's drunk!)
  • take your dog to bed with you (those are stains I've never managed to remove, along with what I suspect may have been hair styling oil)

And finally
Please remember that most small businesses are struggling to make ends meet. Walking off with just two bath towels will mean that I have made no money at all on your one-night stay. Clearing the tray of breakfast cereal portions will mean I have lost quite a bit. Toiletries, bottled water, and tea/coffee etc are there to be used, though!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

More about the brainstorm

As I mentioned yesterday, I've started wondering about the feasability of hosting a knitting retreat/get-together here in the Scottish Borders some time around the end of April/beginning of May 2007.

Please note: This is still just at the idea-generation stage. I have not finalised dates, or a schedule, or anything!

Anyway, I've posted on a few of the mailing lists I belong to, and there seems to be a little interest, but not yet enough to get me excited. Sadly, KnitU appears to have a ban on what they refer to as advertising, and my posting about this fell foul of that. Funny how they don't have a problem with their staff posting about their new books on any other lists they happen to belong to....

So, here's a brief (I hope) summary of the facts so far.

Some time in late spring 2007, probably end April/early May as the tourist season hasn't quite kicked off here and we'll be able to arrange for B&B without too much difficulty.

Jedburgh is a small town (population circa 4000) on the A68 which runs between Edinburgh and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. It is very much a tourist town, but still quiet enough that you are unlikely to have trouble parking your car, and rural enough that we have lichen growing on the stones in the middle of town.

Our hotel dates from around 1515 to around 1940 - lots of different building periods - and currently has 5 bedrooms. There are two other hotels in town, and loads of B&Bs. Because the town is so small, everything is within walking distance.

The furthest you're likely to have to walk is the mile to the campsite by the river, but taxis are cheap and friendly!

For more on Jedburgh, you can look at the hotel website: Spread Eagle Hotel or the town's website: Jedburgh Online.

One important point to make is that with the town being so old, truly disabled-accessible venues are few and far between. Our bedrooms are all on the top floor, and we're several years away from being able to convert the old stables to ground floor accommodation. Tourist Info does have a list of places to stay which are suitable for people with mobility problems, but the room we are likely to be using for workshops, lunch etc is one floor up.

We are about an hour from Edinburgh, Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Newcastle, and about 90 minutes from Carlisle by road.

Public transport is fairly good for such a rural area. We have regular bus services to Newcastle, Edinburgh and Carlisle as well as local buses. There haven't been trains since the Beeching days, but your cheapest option may well be to get the train to one of the main stations and then get a coach the rest of the way. At the moment, London-Newcastle single with GNER can go for as little as £10 online!

The nearest airports are Edinburgh and Newcastle, and the nearest ferry terminals are there as well.

Fibre Attractions?
Although the Borders has a rich textile history, there is very little left - a few Cashmere producers, some machine embroiderers, and a few fibre-artists are all I'm aware of.

I have been in touch with Margie Robinson of Moondance Wools which is based on a farm in Berwickshire. She was about to leave on holiday, and we've agreed to discuss things in more detail when she returns.

Lindsay Roberts, of the Workhouse Gallery has run fibre workshops in Jedburgh before. I have spoken to her in the past about the possibility of running something at the hotel, and we will be talking in more detail as the time gets closer.

There's also been the suggestion of contacting Sheila McGregor (author of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting) who may live in Ediburgh, although rumour has it that she may have moved to France....

There is a fairly active branch of the Knitting and Crochet Guild based in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and the Guild may be able to provide details of people willing/able to run workshops if that's what we choose to do.

Alex Byrne, who organised SkipNorth has also offered to help with organisation. She's the one collating a list of interested parties right now, and I can provide her contact details to anyone who asks.

What if you get bored with knitting?
The Borders is beautiful, uncrowded, and relatively unknown. The scenery is every bit as good as the "real" part of Scotland where all the tourists go (the Highlands) and, most importantly, we don't get nearly as many midges.

We have a very attractive golfing package locally known as the Freedom of the Fairways, with 6 rounds over 3 days on any one of 23 courses for GBP70 and 10 rounds over 5 days for GBP100. There are discounts for juniors and seniors based on playing fewer rounds.

There is a lot of very good mountain-biking nearby - Glentress is probably the best-known area within the Seven Stanes project - as well as gentler shared off-road walking and cycling routes.

There are a number of waymarked walks - both short and long - including the Borders Abbeys Way and St Cuthberts Way.

If you're into motorbiking, Keilder Forest is about 45 minutes away across the Carter Bar and into England.

If you're thinking about bringing children, there is a Deer Park, an Archery Centre, a working silversmiths, and several other "active" venues within easy driving distance.

Any and all suggestions will be gratefully received. I don't know if I can do this, but I'd like to try!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Checking in

No, I haven't quite fallen off the edge of the world. Apologies to those of you who were wondering what had happened.

In order:
1. The Jedburgh Festival (like a common riding, with lots of horses, alcohol, and a ball)
2. The Jim Clarke Rally (a huge event, which just happened to be on the same weekend as 1)
3. Two completely new bathrooms installed at the hotel (still being snagged, and barely ready for 1 & 2)
4. Two days in Edinburgh to think (a very rare occurrence!)
5. The start of the tourist season (English schools break up today)
6. The realisation that my CV is several years out of date, and on a computer which I don't have access to.
7. A heat wave (Jedburgh has been above 28C for more than a week now!) such that I can dry towels on the line indoors in less than 4 hours.
8. A brainstorm (I'm thinking about arranging a knitting retreat here sometime in late spring next year)

So, I've been a bit busy, and I've not been knitting, but I hope to post more regularly soon.