Monday, August 31, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook: 31st August

Outside My Window ... grey skies. Quite a contrast after two weeks of brilliant blue and hot sun - no doubt that we are back in Britain. Looks like we are heading into autumn fast.

I am thinking ... how much I like my house. It isn't perfect, but it is home.

From the learning rooms ... school starts again on Thursday, so some last minute shopping to do. Angel needs shirts and Star needs football boots and socks.

I am thankful ... for a wonderfully relaxing, restful holiday, and that we have all come back with our batteries recharged.

From the kitchen ... empty fridge and cupboards, desperately needing to be restocked.

I am wearing ... dark blue pyjamas.

I am creating ... socks, sweaters, scarves. Apart from a little sock knitting I didn't do much while I was away, but I'm ready to throw myself back into my knitting frenzy.

I am going ... to have a catch up day today. Laundry, grocery shopping, more laundry, dropping round to see my Mum, more laundry ...

I am reading ... The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon. Unfinished holiday reading.

I am hoping ... the menus and routines I planned while we were away will work out as we get back into term time routine.

I am hearing ... girls chattering downstairs.

Around the house ... bags and cases full of laundry and other post-holiday detritus.

One of my favorite things ... swimming in sea with just enough waves to make it fun, but not enough to make it dangerous.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... mostly a quiet week, easing back into normal life.

A Picture Thought I Am Sharing ...

Find links to other summer daybooks at The Simple Woman.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Holiday Reading

This is going to be a lazy holiday, with lots of time on the beach - playing with Cherub, swimming, and curled up with a good book (I hope!). Thassos is a small island without much to see or do, which suits us just fine. If you are American and wondering why we would go all the way to Greece just for a beach holiday, there is a simple two word answer ... British weather.

I have been collecting books to take, and after a splurge with the Book People this is my current reading list (still time to add a couple more!) ...

This is very fiction heavy for me - holidays and reading fiction go together, I think. Funny about the unintentional trend in those first three titles. I'm not sure how many I will get through, but I'm aiming for the lot ... reviews to follow when I get home.

Now please help me choose ... what should I start with?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Travel Plans

I have a feeling I have only talked vaguely about our holiday plans and never mentioned where we are actually going. It is quite a journey ...

On Sunday morning we have to leave home at 1.30am (yes, you read that right ... AM!!! Eek!) and drive for a couple of hours to get to Gatwick airport in time to check in for a 6.00am flight. After three and a half hours on the plane we have a 45 minute coach ride, 75 minutes on a boat and a bit more coach before we finally arrive at our destination about 12 hours after we leave home.

Take a quick guess and then click here to find out where we will be.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook: 10th August

Outside My Window ... early morning sun and a pleasant breeze.

I am thinking ... I'm trying not to think about all the things that need doing but somehow never get done.

From the learning rooms ... closed for summer.

I am thankful ... for time with Angel and Star over the summer. Cherub loves having them around too!

From the kitchen ... pasta with tomato pesto and creme fraiche. Something from the freezer for Tevye who doesn't eat the pasta.

I am wearing ... blue and white pyjamas

I am creating ... a chunky sweater for my brother and socks for K-next-door. I switched the fiddly ones for a nicer pattern.

I am going ... to take Star shopping for her birthday present today. She wants something to wear.

I am reading ... started Longitude by Davina Sobel, but haven't got past the introduction yet.

I am hoping ... the other catechists and our parish priest will agree to switch the book we are using for First Communion classes. The one we used last year wasn't fit for purpose (designed for school RE classes, not parishes) and we floundered trying to fill the gaps; this one looks much better.

I am hearing ... yes, it is Cherub's TV time again. Cherub watches TV; I blog.

Around the house ... fluff. I didn't realise until we bought one for the sitting room that high wool content carpets shed fluff. The carpet cleaner man tells me it wears off, but can take a while. Even the (almost) indestructible Henry Hoover needed his tubes clearing when he started to choke on the stuff.

One of my favorite things ... having daughters that get on well together. Obviously they have their moments, but generally they enjoy each other's company.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... a trip to Thorpe Park to celebrate Star's 11th birthday, taking Angel and four friends with her (we have a collection of vouchers and discounts I'm using up). Washing and packing for two weeks away - we leave on Sunday.

A Picture Thought I Am Sharing ... Cherub contemplating a fireman's pole at the playground. I thought she was only thinking about it, until she launched herself, bounced off the pole and landed on her bottom. Fortunately the only real damage done was to her dignity. Seeing the look of determination on her face in the picture, I should have realised she was serious!

Find links to other summer daybooks at The Simple Woman.

Friday, August 07, 2009

7 Quick Takes


1. Back in the spring the Meteorological Office (the official British weather forecasters) predicted a "BBQ summer". Great! We all sat back and anticipated nice warm, sunny weather for a change. After a month of heavy showers the Met Office told us what we thought they said wasn't what they actually meant. All they were predicting was better weather than last year - which given last year was the worst summer I can remember doesn't mean much. And in any case, we aren't meant to take their forecast too seriously as they haven't mastered long range forecasting yet.

2. I can live with out-of-sync long range forecasts. It is the cockeyed day to day forecasts that bug me more. I want to start the day knowing with reasonable certainty whether it is worth hanging washing outside or not. Surely, with modern technology and computer modelling that shouldn't be too much to ask. Wrong. Take yesterday. Warm and sunny, said the forecasts, before heavy rain today (Friday). Angel was thinking sunbathing; Tevye was thinking mowing the grass; out went the laundry. By early afternoon the heavens opened and it poured with rain for the rest of the day. Personally, I blame St. Swithin.

3. Yesterday the last Tommy was buried. The last surviving British soldier to have fought in the trenches during World War I died last month aged 111. He was born in the same year as my grandfather, who joined up under age and served in the trenches until he was gassed and invalided out. A generation whose courage and loss is almost beyond our comprehension, gone but not forgotten. Thousands queued for tickets to Harry Patch's funeral at Wells Cathedral and lined the streets to pay their respects. The end of an era.

4. A large nearby shopping centre (mall) has set up an impressive indoor beach for the summer, complete with deckchairs and ice cream kiosk. There is also a pirate ship theatre, palm trees to climb, a lighthouse helter skelter and a carousel. There is a charge for the other attractions, but the beach itself is free. I took Cherub and her bucket and spade to play there while Star and a friend were ice skating last week. Very fun!

5. I am truly the world's worst gardener. My brother planted a few sunflowers he had grown from seed in front of our house. Unfortunately he planted them during the brief hot spell we had in June and - entirely predictably - I forgot to water them. Three have survived. Just. The tallest has reached the great height of eighteen inches. Bizarrely, one six inch tall sunflower is flowering. How is that possible?

6. Blogging has been light this week because I have been knitting and obsessing on knitting websites. Who knew there was stuff like this DROPS Design website out there. Gorgeous Scandinavian design, nearly 3000 free patterns, and very reasonably priced yarn. Must get to the end of this post quickly. Too much to knit, too little time ...

7. Cherub's attempts to tell the time continue. My new favourite is "one past clock!"

You can find more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


We had a lot of fun bowling yesterday, especially Cherub, who won, much to her delight ... "I am the winner, and you are all losters!" She may be small, but she has a strong competitive streak.

We don't go bowling often, but it has become our entertainment standby when we want something suitable for a wide mix of ages. It used to be our little girls and their much older cousins. Now it is a leveller for our big girls and their little sister - one of the few things where she can compete on an equal basis, with a bit of help from a ramp and the bumpers. (In fairness I should point out that our collective bowling ability is marginally above useless, if that, and we all need the bumpers.) Yesterday there was a group of autistic young adults and their helpers on the two lanes to our right, and an elderly couple with their grandsons to our left. I love that something can be fun for such a wide range of ages and abilities.

For the benefit of anyone in the UK who has one locally, I have to recommend Go Bowling , at least based on their Dunstable centre.* Clean, bright, well furbished premises, and reasonable prices. If you join their family club (free) you can bowl for £2 a game during summer weekdays, after school and on Saturday mornings during term time. They also offer free learn-to-bowl lessons for kids.

* Oops, now I look it seems there are only two - Dunstable and Fareham. I thought there were more. Anyone near Dunstable or Fareham?

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Answer

... to my little puzzle.


The difference between shoe sizes in both the UK and the US is one barleycorn - a third of an inch, which is the length of the average grain of barley. (Debbie, your husband was on the right track, though the barleycorn was used to subdivide the inch rather than to calculate it.)

In the UK the scale starts at child size zero, and each successive size is found by adding one barleycorn to the length of the insole. Child size zero is one hand (four inches); child size twelve is two hands (eight inches). The scale starts again at adult size zero (better known as child size 13) which is 8 and 1/3 inches. A man's size 10 is 8 and 1/3 inches plus ten thirds, making it 11 and 2/3 inches. Add a little extra length for the sole and you get 12 inches ... or one foot. I checked Tevye's size 10 slippers and they were exactly one foot in length. Neat, huh? The US measures used the same increment, but start at one instead of zero so US sizes are UK sizes plus one (for men and children at least - US women's sizes add 2 and 1/2. Why???)

(Source: About the Size of It by Warwick Cairns, which is a very readable summary of why we measure as we do.)

Simple Woman's Daybook: 3rd August

Outside My Window ... blue skies and a sunny summer morning. Not likely to last, though.

I am thinking ... August? How can it be August?

From the learning rooms ... closed for summer.

I am thankful ... that we have two weeks of sea and sun to look forward to, particularly for Tevye's sake - he has been very busy at work and badly needs a break.

From the kitchen ... baked potatoes and chilli for dinner.

I am wearing ... black pyjamas with white trim.

I am creating ... a chunky sweater for my brother and socks with an irritatingly fiddly pattern for K-next-door.

I am going ... to get back on my cross-trainer this week. It is sitting in my bedroom making me feel guilty!

I am reading ... nothing. I'm between books. I have a big pile set aside for holiday reading, but nothing in mind to fill the gap. I'll have to browse my bookshelves.

I am hoping ... for a relaxed, fun week.

I am hearing ... Cherub snuffling as she watches TV.

Around the house ... clothes, bags, lip gloss. Girls-at-home stuff!

One of my favorite things ... trees. Cherub likes to hug them, and I can understand it. I love woods and forests.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... taking all three girls bowling today, Star wants to go ice skating tomorrow, Tevye has an appointment for (routine) laser treatment of his persistent cataracts on Wednesday, Cherub is going to a couple of playgroup summer club sessions.

A Picture Thought I Am Sharing ... Cherub's ruffled summer top, another three day knit last week. (Apologies for picture quality - I was lazy and used my phone, which doesn't really cope with indoor lighting conditions.)

Find links to other summer daybooks at The Simple Woman.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Little Puzzle For You

Can you guess what common item is measured in units based on the length of a grain of barley?

This is true in both the UK and the US.

Do not Google!

Answer to be posted on Monday.