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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Boys!

It's a while since we had a look at how the boys are doing, so the other day I took my camera down for a photo shoot.  I didn't expect great pics as they have a habit of turning away just at the moment I press the button.

This time though, Impala came running over to see what the heck she was doing this time.

Hmmm, that doesn't look like a carrot - wrong colour
Is this my best side?
Then Jorrocks got in on the act, but he hasn't quite got the hang of this posing lark.

Yes Jorrocks, you're a very pretty boy, but next time take your nose out of the lens and stand back a bit.

Oooh, me next!!

Impala looking all grown up practicing his best smile.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Mini Hols

Here we are, back from our little holiday on the Mediterranean, err, except we didn't exactly go there!  We stayed instead just north of Beziers and Montpellier - lovely countryside and lovely weather too.  The whole area seemed to be laid out to vineyards or olive farms, which was just what we were looking for.

Here's Eric enjoying our first lunch in the sunshine (he is wearing shorts, you just can't see them!).  The view was magnificent (unlike my photography!) :-

The nice thing about having a camper van in France is that you can park up practically anywhere and stay for the night, and lots of farms, wine producers etc. welcome you to stay on their land for free.  The etiquette is that you buy some of their produce in return for your free night, but it's not obligatory.  Our accommodation for the whole trip cost us absolutely nothing.  The first night we stayed on an "aire de service" which can just be a glorified car park with maybe a toilet and emptying point for your chemical toilet, and somewhere to empty your waste water and fill up with fresh, but a lot of them are very picturesque.

The second night, we stayed on a small estate, Chateau Coujan, which produces wine and olive oil.  It was a fabulous place with a large, elegant main house plus numerous other houses for family/estate workers.  It also had its own church, which apparently dates back to Roman times.  So, where are all the photos?  Well, I was too busy photographing the other occupants :-

Peacocks!  (if you'll pardon my French!!)  The owners hadn't a clue just how many there were, their best guess was between 30 and 50.

The tail feathers look like an elaborate bridal veil from the back.  They look awfully heavy - fancy having to drag that lot around everywhere you go!

The females, by comparison, look rather dull, but they were definitely not as noisy as the males.

Ah yes, the noise!!  That was something we hadn't really worried about until we realised just how many birds there were.  But don't worry, I told Eric, I'm sure they'll go to sleep when it gets dark.  HA HA!!!  By the time night fell, we'd had a meal and a bottle of wine and settled ourselves down for a good sleep.  We watched as the peacocks took themselves off into the wood alongside the house, roosted in trees, 3 or 4 perched on the house roof and a couple more on the balcony.  Silence! - for about five minutes, and then all hell let loose again.  One would shout out and the rest would answer.  They did this every 15 minutes or so throughout the whole flipping night.  How on earth the owners manage to sleep night after night with that racket on their roof and outside their bedroom windows is beyond me.  Maybe they have good earplugs.

The last night was positively uneventful after that.  We stayed on a small farm, right on the edge of their vineyards.  When we arrived, the owners showed us where we could park and invited us for "aperos" at 6 p.m.  We bought some of their wine which, of course is the purpose of having drinks with them, but it was nice all the same.

A lovely quiet evening snack amongst the vines.

 Ooops - mind your fingers Eric!!

The next day we headed back home with a camper full of olive oil, wine and honey and Eric had changed colour, having fallen asleep in the sun!  The solar panels had been viewed and we'll probably put in an order next week, so all-in-all our mission was accomplished and we had a relaxing (if short) break as well.  The weather behaved impeccably until about half an hour after we left to go home, then we hit rain.  Who cares, we had glorious sunshine while we were there.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Who Ate All the Flowers?

These are (or were) a clump of really nice narcissi called cheerfulness.  They flower just after the daffodils have finished, and smell superb.  Only, this year someone else took a liking to them before we got to enjoy them.  Every single flower has been eaten, every last one of them.

Birds?  Slugs?  They look like they've just been snipped off with scissors.  Maybe my cat's decided he prefers greens to mice.

My knitting project is going well and I'm up to armhole level.

We're off to the Med. tomorrow in the camper van, so I'll take this with me and see if I can get the sleeves done while we're away.  We decided to have a little holiday, only until Thursday, to go and buy some nice olive oil, maybe get some wine, and also we want to visit a company over there who sell solar panels for heating water.  We get a lot of sun here, and it seems a shame to waste all that energy when we could at least be heating our water for free.  Then, when we get back, Eric should be starting on MY NEW KITCHEN!!  Can't wait.

Monday, 8 April 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Why do people call this a weed when it's one of the most beautiful flowers in the garden at this time of year?

Perfect Periwinkle

There are so many wild flowers around at the moment, and lots more just about to burst into bloom.

These are just gorgeous - not sure what they are, I'll have to look them up on the internet. We have a vase full of them on the table just now.

And then there are the cultivated flowers :-

The last of the narcissi

Irises still to come

. . . and the edible flowers are just beginning.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Knitting Like Crazy

I'm knitting like mad at the moment, trying to get this sweater finished and wearable before the weather gets too warm.  The past few days have been a bit on the cool side, but by next weekend we're expecting much higher temperatures.  Will it be finished in time?

Here's where I am at the moment, so not holding out much hope :-

This is a really nice pattern, Autumn's End, from an e-book called Botanical Knits by Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting.  As I'm not sure how to put a link on here to the pattern page on Ravelry, you'll just have to look it up yourself!  The book is lovely, all the patterns are based on woodland, trees and leaves.  It's unusual to find a knitting pattern book where I like more than 2 or 3 patterns, if that, but I love all of these.  It's worth having a look.  The book hasn't been released in print yet, it's due in May I think, but if you pre-order the book you will receive the e-book free immediately so you can get on with it straight away.

This photo shows (not very well actually!) the side panel which is where all the shaping is carried out.  It carries on all the way up the raglan shaping from the sleeve tops to the neck.  I'll show you more as I progress.

The yarn is hand-spun (of course!), but I really don't know what it is.  It's more of the fibre I received in a World of Wool mixed bag of Botany Lap Waste (floor sweepings!).  There's definitely some merino in there, plus either bamboo or milk protein fibre or banana fibre, but really it's guesswork.  Who cares, it turned out really soft and wearable and that's all that matters.

I wouldn't normally have used a multicoloured yarn for this pattern because it does tend to blur the detail, but I couldn't wait to start one of the patterns from this book, and this yarn which I'd just finished spinning, was just the right thickness and quantity.

OK, back to the needles!