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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Bella's Bad Day

Today was a bad day for Bella the alpaca.  She's had a runny eye for a few days and Rob had bought some drops from the pharmacy to try and treat it.  Then yesterday evening he noticed something sticking out of her eyeball - it looked like a large thorn.  She must have been in agony.  Anyway, the vet was called and came this morning at about 11:30.

Rob and Tammy phoned about 9 a.m. to ask if I'd go down and help them herd the girls into a catchment pen and then into the barn.  They went into the pen quite readily once they were bribed with some carrots, but really didn't want to go into the barn.  The vet arrived whilst we were trying to get them to go inside, so we cornered Bella and Rob grabbed her so he could have a look at her eye.  It turns out it wasn't a thorn at all.  She has a problem with her eye called (in the UK) New Forest disease, which causes a runny eye, a lot of pain, and sometimes ulcers.  The thing protruding from her eyeball seems to have been some sort of growth caused by the bacteria.  Apparently it can be carried by flies which then infect the animal.

The treatment was really not very nice and consisted of the vet making a loop in a piece of strong thread, placing it around the growth and tightening it.  He'd put anaesthetic drops in her eye, but I do wonder how effective they were.  The growth is now gone, and she's having to have drops in her eye regularly for the next 10 days to clear the infection.  On the plus side, she seems to be a lot happier now and her eye doesn't seem to be bothering her.  On the minus, we don't know how much sight she will have in that eye once it's healed.

Bella the day she arrived
Get well soon Bella!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

What's on the Bobbins?

First of all, a finished batch of sock yarn :-

spun in January from these fibres :-

There's 125g here, giving 336 yards (310m) which I'm hoping will be enough to make a pair of socks for me.

And this is what's on the bobbins at the moment, some mixed fibres again from World of Wool (more floor sweepings!).  I blended the colours first on my wool combs

which made little balls of fluffy heaven all ready to spin

These really are as soft as they look
and this is how it looks spun

I can't decide whether to ply it with a strand of white (which maximises the amount of coloured wool), or ply it with itself.  I think it might look a bit "busy" plied with another bobbin the same, so maybe the white would be the best option.  I've no idea what this is going to be when it's finished - it depends on the amount I end up with.  Of course, every experienced spinner weighs the fibres before she starts, doesn't she, so she can make an intelligent guestimate of the final amount?  Yeah, right!  That's one thing I forgot to do. Every other spinner would probably have a plan of which colours to include, which order to spin them, etc.  I just grabbed the colours I liked and set off.  I like surprises!

Saturday, 16 February 2013


Finally finished my cardigan while we were away on holiday.  I particularly wanted to have it finished for when we were in Switzerland as I knew it would be pretty cold up there in the snow.

A view from the back :-

I think this is going to become my favourite cardigan as I've hardly had it off since I finished it.  The blue is merino and the coloured wool is 50% merino/50% mohair which I dyed with acid dyes, all hand-spun.  I was a bit concerned about the main colour as it's turned out to have quite a lot of orange in there, which is not really the best colour for me. Putting in the stripes of blue has toned it down quite a lot and I'm much happier with it.

Once I'd finished the knitting, I realised I needed some buttons, so off we went into Basel city to look for some.  Anna had looked on the internet and found a shop which specialised in buttons - definitely the place to visit.  Anyway, I chose some blue oval shaped ones which I quite liked, and picked out eight of them.  Then I asked how much they were and nearly fainted.  They were going to cost 32 Swiss francs (about 28 euros or 25 GB pounds) - I was absolutely flabbergasted!  That was far more than the cardigan had cost to make.  I apologised, and put them back into the display drawer and beat a hasty retreat.  I don't think the shop assistant was too pleased though; she couldn't understand the problem!  We then went to a department store and I bought the buttons for 5 Swiss francs (that was for 8) - much better!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Watery Grave!

This is how our greenhouse looked when we got back from holiday on Monday (remember, this used to be a swimming pool) :-

This is looking towards the door of the actual greenhouse.  The water is about 60cm deep.  We had a lot of rain before we left, but apparently it rained every day until we returned.

The water is just skimming the second step :-

The photo below is the view in the actual greenhouse part.  The plants just right of centre are a lemon tree and a lemon tree with an orange grafted onto it, which we've only had for a few months.

What a mess!  A lot of things are floating, the water is filthy, and algae is growing on top of the water.

The problem at the moment is that we can't get in there to rescue the plants which are still alive as the water is just too deep.  Luckily, we have a friend who is a fisherman and he's promised to lend us some waders so we can get in there and clear the mess (thanks Brian) . Fortunately, the waders will fit one of us . . . me, to be exact!  So I'm the one who's going to be wading through that filth!  Hopefully I'll manage to drag the plants out (the lemon trees are pretty heavy, so I'll just have to try and pull them out of their pots and we'll repot them once they're out).

One little ray of hope, the coriander (my favourite) in the miniature herb greenhouse is thriving :-

although the salad leaves either side don't look too promising.

The main problem here is that the old swimming pool had a crack from one side to the other, and the water table is so high at the moment that it's just seeping through the crack.  The weather forecast is now improving, and we should get a bit of dry weather during the next week, so we're just keeping our fingers crossed that the water subsides.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Last Day!

Today is the last day of our holiday.  Since Dubai, we've travelled to Germany, where we stayed with Ted, our friend who lives in a little town on the shores of Lake Constance. First visit on landing in Munich

was to the Hoffbrauhaus

where the two of them had to have an over-sized glass of beer or two!

We stayed in Germany for 4 days and then got the train to Basel in Switzerland where we stayed overnight with Anna (Eric's niece) and her partner Philipp.

Anna with her Uncle Eric
The next day Anna drove us to her brother, Laurie, who lives near Bern where we had a lovely visit with him and his partner, Malika.  They took us to a restaurant part way up a mountain in the Gruyeres region

where they filled us with cheese and cream.  Eric and Laurie had a cheese fondue with both potatoes and bread, Malika had a huge bowl of macaroni cheese, and I had a cream and cheese soup which was absolutely delicious.

the coffee came with a little chocolate cup filled with cream

Then, when we were certain we couldn't eat another thing, they took us here :-

and stuffed us with chocolate.  This is the Cailler chocolate factory (now owned by Nestle) where we had a tour and then got to sample all the different chocolates they produce (whew! there were a lot!)

Thankfully, we then stopped eating and had a walk around Gruyere (Malika's home town) itself, to try and walk off some of the food.

We even visited the table where Laurie and Malika first met.

We then carried on to Eric's brother and his wife, Alan and Jane, who live half way up a mountain in the Swiss Alps.  There's lots of snow here at the moment, but Alan and Eric still found a nice sunny spot on the terrace to enjoy a tipple and cigar

until Jane arrived to sweep away the rubbish!

We've had a lovely holiday, visiting lots of fabulous places and staying with some of our favourite people, who've looked after us to the point of spoiling us.  But now it's time to go home, rescue my cat from the cattery and start getting to know my alpaca.  So I'll just leave you with some views from Jane and Alan's chalet.  Enjoy!