Skyscrapers and String

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the books category.

Seven Years Of Waiting

Why is it that all my favourite kinds of art portray yearning?

My go to cd is Jeff Buckley’s Grace. I can’t even describe to you the effect this music has on me, it is quite profound. If you haven’t heard it, buy it, take the music player into your bedroom and lie down and listen. Ethereal, sublime, transcendent. There are no words adequate to describe the wistful passion of lost love.

My favourite books are all filled with sorrowful longing for another person in various guises, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and of course, Persuasion. In Persuasion, the hero and heroine are kept apart for eight years!

Yesterday I watched “Notting Hill”; I have had a summer cold and was in the house by myself. It kept me company so I could knit. Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts star as divided lovers, she is thoroughly rotten to Hugh’s character, and he cannot help himself but long for her return. It is super, great cast, and both funny and poignant.

Back to the point of this post.

I am a greengage lover. So I know all about yearning!

You can buy them in the shops at this time of year for a few weeks, and when they’re gone, that’s your lot. They don’t grow them overseas and ship them in all year round like blueberries or mange tout peas.

Greengages are a rare type of plum, but they are more fragrant than plums, and in my opinion, quite divine. I read somewhere that they originated in France.

Seven years ago, after we bought this house, Jon and I walked over to our local garden centre and purchased a greengage sapling, thinking I would shortly be overcome by a glut of greengages and I would have to resort to pies, jams, chutneys and the like. My mouth watered at the prospect!

We had to walk the tree home, which is no mean feat as you’d be amazed at how much street furniture overhead needs to be negotiated whilst carrying an eight foot tall tree in a pot. We planted it, and I thought, right, that’s that! Now I’ll have greengages coming out of my ears for ever!

Hmmm. Yes, this post is about wanting, but not getting.

To the point, greengages only grow fruit under certain conditions:

1. If a neighbouring plum tree is in blossom at the same time (they don’t compare diaries so the same two trees might not blossom together and you watch your blossom drop off as next door’s tree just puts forth flowers – gah!).

2. If it is wet all spring to make the fruit flesh out. Dry weather=no plums.

3. If the tree is in a good mood.

In previous years, I have usually had one or two fruit, the most in one go once was about 9 greengages in total. Some years, nada, nothing, zippo, zilch.

This year I had loads of fruit. The fruit, if I get any, is usually ready the weekend after Amber’s birthday. The tree was literally dripping with fruit. All the conditions were favourable, and my hopes of a glut were very high!

The weekend after Amber’s birthday came, and I went into the garden and picked a beautiful golden green soft plum. Ooops! It was bitter! I tried a couple more, no, not ready.

The weather continued nice, I tried a few days after, but no still bitter.

Yesterday I tried again, the fruit were quite sweet, but a majority of the fruit had turned overripe and dropped from the branches. There would be none left if I waited any longer.

This evening, I harvested the twenty or so yellow plums and made a crumble. I waited for it to cook!

Here, my first crumble, it needed sugar in the fruit as they were not perfectly sweet. It will last me a couple of days, then will be gone for another year!



Never Go Back – Without A Hairbrush!

At the moment, I am thoroughly enjoying Jon’s Christmas book from Amber, a Lee Child ‘Jack Reacher’ novel called “Never Go Back”.

I am over halfway through, it is a super read, and today, I combined a bit of research based on the book, with the idea if I could achieve my goal I might save some precious minutes, and perhaps cram in a small and secret loaf about reading more of the book, upstairs in private, plus perhaps fitting in another coffee before heading out into the drizzle.

The book describes how the hero Jack is fierce, smart and self-reliant. He despises the normal suburban aspirations of property and family and he travels about off grid, generally pleasing himself.

In this story, Jack breaks a female military colleague out of jail and they go on the run together for several days.

This is the bit where my disbelief comes into play. I thought I’d write about it here and you could share your opinions with me.

Readers, can you truly believe that a female in her thirties can survive for days without any kind of beauty product, I am talking no deodorant, lipbalm, no hairbrush, no face cream, nothing.

Reacher adores his partner in crime and makes many observations as to her smarts, her gorgeousness and fearlessness. Here is a woman who is truly Jack’s equal. Apparently.

I think being parted from a hairbrush and conditioner she would rapidly resemble Wurzel Gummidge. They both shower daily but in the absence of deodorant, and no laundry, only the clothes they stand up in? Pe-yew! Ugh!

The element I decided to test for myself today was the bit where Reacher approves of his lady friend showering in 11 minutes, which is the same time his shower takes. Well, I tried this today and it was no big deal. I even used body scrub. It made me wonder if there are some additional steps to showering I am missing completely.

I can shower and dry in 10 minutes, but no, I am not ever going on the run from the authorities with Tom Cruise or Jack Reacher without my yellow dove deodorant, cherry lipbalm or a decent hairbrush.

Tomorrow I am cutting out the scrub to see if I can shave my shower time to 5 minutes. This is time well spent on research, although not as genius a scheme as the tv crew who convinced the BBC to send them to Baha to film whales for 5 years. Or testing chocolate for a living. Now that’s rock n roll!

The Week Of The Giant Jaffa Cake Invasion!

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend so far!

It has been an odd week, fast paced and fun at some points, and extremes of peace and love followed by witnessing bizarre and unkind behaviour at turns.

On the peace and love front, everyone at home is well and happy, our week has been full of kindness and affection. Amber and I have had lots of hugs and girl time, and we have been walking through our park each day, which has made a tremendous boost to my quality of life. Not only is the walk good for our health, with the fresh air and exercise, the sight of nature waking up each day fills the soul.

After work, Jon and I have been going to the pool together, the pool is softly lit and the day at work speeds past, happily knowing soon I’ll be swimming and zoning out with Jon, then us chatting and travelling back home together.

Knitting Club is in it’s second week of two day meet ups, it is wonderful to have double knitting company! We are ramping up our collective knitting efforts, we have a charity sale in a couple of weeks time. I have made two Minion hats and some striped mitts so far:



Today I have to knit some eyes for the new Minion hat. I am knitting a small baby sized one next. So cute!

One of the great joys of this week has been the discovery of the giant Jaffa Cakes in Costa. Sadly for my waistline, on Wednesday, right next to the till they had a plate of these delights free for patrons to sample. I succumbed!

Saturday was delightfully spent in the company of dear Lexie, who is the cleverest, warmest and most wonderful friend. A true kindred spirit. We met for lunch at Liverpool Street and the weather was gorgeous and sunny.

We ate at The Real Greek in Spitalfields Market, and we put the worl to rights over a bottle of Macedonian Rose and a plate of Gyros with salad, it was gorgeous, however the wine went to both our heads and by the time we toddled off for our Cultural Expedition to the Museum of London we doubted whether we’d get there!

Here you can see Liverpool St station glowing in the sun.


The exhibition we saw was the Elizabethan Hoard which was buried before the Fire Of London and was discovered by workmen in 1912. I have no idea why it took so long to put the jewellery on display, and there was little idea given of who owned the items.

Having said that, it was an amazing exhibition! Emerald cube watches, signed gold watches, hair jewels fit for a queen, earrings, all accompanied by portraits of contemporary people bedecked in pearls and necklaces of the exact type being shown. I was amazed at the quality and variety of the objects, it was breathtaking.

We had a nice pit stop in the tea room and set off for home, but not before enjoying the photo opportunities:


Outside, London was turning to dusk, and we grabbed a quick selfie before heading to St Paul’s station to come home:


Today has been a lot quieter, Jon and I have been lounging about like lazy dinosaurs dozing in the soaring temperatures. I think the most constructive thing I’ve managed is to marinate the meat for tomorrow’s dinner, do some laundry and sort some wool. I’ve also managed half of one of the James Bond novels I bought in Scotland two years ago. No wonder I only scored 50 in that BBC quiz on how many books you’ve read, I only like obscure pulp fiction and have read more spy books than I can count! I was ruthlessly honest and didn’t tick the serious books on the list I’ve bought and given to the charity shop unread! I would have had over 70 if I’d fibbed, but that’s not the point!

I hope you’ve had a jolly weekend, enjoying the sun and some light knitting or whatever! I am moseying into the kitchen to do something breathtaking with a chicken for dinner!

Drawing Tools

Hello all,

I hope you’re having a splendid Monday! I got up early today and sat reading “Game of Thrones” and knitting. At The Same Time! Bliss!

Jon and I are off from work together all week, and our plan for today was to catch a bus and go get the new kitchen taps.

The store farthest away from us had the tap in stock, so I got off the bus at the mall with the intention of grabbing some bread and eggs, then I was going to sit and drink coffee, whilst Jon got the taps from the DIY place.

You can tell I didn’t do that, right? Hahaha!

I went to the big newsagents and stood for ages browsing the craft magazines. To be honest, everything is getting either a bit samey and complacent, or else I am at a point where I have so many ideas I’m trying to realise, what I see is a bit of a disappointment in comparison.

Next stop was a new store called “Tiger”. Apparently this is a Danish company, and I must admit I browsed for an hour. Amongst the stationery and homewares and crafts they had every kind of cute thing to buy. I picked up a stand for my earrings, some spice mixes, so ears, some dark chocolate hazelnuts and an iPad stylus. £11. Bargain!

When we got home we had a late lunch and a nap.

Sitting here this afternoon I downloaded an art app for free from the App Store and thought I’d give the stylus a go. Oh my! What fun!

Here you can see some of my scribbles. Go get one of these stylus things! I’ve never had so much fun!





Happy Day!

Hello everyone! How are you today?

I have worked all day today but it has been a really joyful day. Amber was home, and although recently broken hearted she is the best company.

And I heard about how I’d managed to link two people at work through my heading the employee network for disabled folks, and as a result, finally, for the first time, hard of hearing people who can’t use the phone can now open bank accounts or gain access to their funds across the globe. I am pretty impressed actually. Go me!

Here I can show you what I am happy about in a craft type way:

Here is my Scotsman for my collection, I have a few of these now, but this one is so detailed:


Here you can see my knitting corner and the baby sleep sack I am knitting whilst reading Game of Thrones “A feast for crows”:




Here you can see my mantelpiece, I decided to keep my Nisse out on display with my spring lambs as they are very jolly.


Also, I made some bread today:


I took my sad Nipper out for a walk and she bought the latest “Glamour” magazine. Inside was an article on J Lo. I adore Jennifer Lopez! Although in the pictures she appeared to be disturbingly commando under everything, even her Dolce and Gabbana dress, she also posed in a pair of MiuMiu knickers. I have no comprehension of fashion.

Also there was a tiny Missoni crochet bag in yellow, which is my favourite colour. It is crochet, in a bobble stitch. It would take about two hours to knit. The handle looks like one of those things you get in Ikea to string children’s toys up with to make their rooms tidy.

Tomorrow I’m at Loop with my beloved Alex. I will buy wool. I will eat Cuban tapas and get shockingly plastered on Mojitos. I am in my new yellow and turquoise pajamas and me and Jon have next week off together, I’m really very happy! Hope you are too!


Knitting And Reading – At The Same Time!

What a splendid idea!


Game Of Thrones Book 5

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re having a jolly week so far.

I’ve been working really hard on my new project for my new bosses and have made faster progress than I expected.

Tomorrow and Thursday I’ll be working from home all day, which will be nice as some of my colleagues have been on the phone speaking very loudly whilst I’ve been trying to think. Normally it doesn’t matter but I’ve been constructing a four stage approval workflow in Nintex, and it has been wearing to try to think above the racket of my tiny but noisy desk neighbour.

You’ll have seen from my last post that I have finally learned to love books again. So much so that everything else has taken second place and I’m behind with my knitting.

Why is it that our passions dominate us so powerfully? George RR Martin is such a brilliant writer, I am consumed to read just one more page, until the whole day is lost. The story of the individual characters are so well fleshed out you feel you know them, and he creates histories and huge amounts of detail from the Houses in his parallel world so they are enthralling.

The only book that to my mind has been so powerful and richly embroidered is Dune. I have read all the books and all the prequels.

I am addicted to books and knitting.

Today I was reading an article in the New York Times about someone who had for 10 years overcome a deep addiction to drink and drugs. As part of his long rehab he has someone he can call at 4 am if he feels his will is slipping. If We all had someone we knew would answer that we could call in the middle of the night when we are dark and lost wouldn’t the world be a better place?

I remember when I was going through a really bad time, as I had just separated from my ex husband. I turned toward my parents for support as they both had been through divorce and they said I wasn’t welcome to mention anything about it as it upset them.

I am trying to balance all the things in my life that I like. It is hard to make room for everything. All I want to do is make small steps of progress, and be happy.

Someone upset my daughter today and I had the opportunity to pass them in the street and tell them politely what I thought, it’s not often you get to confront your tormentors. At least my daughter knows I am solidly behind her, and I always will be.

Lost In Game Of Thrones 4

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend and have had a jolly day today.

Yesterday and the day before are a bit of a blur. Since Christmas I’ve been reading my Game Of Thrones books, Jon bought them after my summer holiday in August and I hadn’t really gotten into the habit of reading again once I got home. I started on book 2, and once I realised they weren’t going to cover a ghastly bit from the TV series, My enjoyment increased, then before you know it I’d caught up to the end of the tv series, then I started annoying Amber with spoilers where I’d sped past.

Yesterday I think I read over 700 pages. Today I started book 5 and I am having to do other things than read, it’s got silly now.

Tonight I’ve done a couple of repeats of the pattern for my new shrug, tick! Today I left the house without a book and went out with Amber for a jaunt! Tick! I am a miserable addict to George RR Martin.

Woozle had a bath today and is all clean and shiny. I have been wearing both my new weekend outfits from Next and feel very smart.

Today at the Mall, I returned an expensive steam mop which had stopped working and I spent the money on lunch with Amber, and some new makeup. Although I own nothing in green to wear clothes wise, apparently I needed a shiny beetle green eyeliner pencil. I’ll wear it tomorrow. I got loads of things in the makeup shop, it’s called Kiko, my favourite.

Believe it or not, next to my chair is a cardigan that needs 20 minutes effort to finish. I will try to resist the book again tomorrow…it’s not easy!

Here you can see Jon and Woozle. My cat likes to make sure everyone gets covered with fluff.


The Life Of Pi

Hello all,

One of Jon’s friends wrote a hilarious Facebook post (which turned into a brilliant comedy conversation regarding how one should address as Tiger in a boat as “Sir”etc,) about the film of The Life of Pi.

During the course of my confinement to quarters due to pleurisy (which is not funny) I thought in a very bored moment that I should watch said film, although I had zero interest in the subject and would certainly not bother with the book. But when you’re ill, and enjoying repeats of “Lovejoy” you realise you are very bored indeed and such films do arouse curious interest, viz, what happens other than the obvious when a Tiger and a boy are in a boat with nothing to eat. And it is a free download.

So I sat in my chair, and pressed the buttons to download the film and started watching it. I had my knitting in hand and was only watching with half an eye, when I realised after about an hour there were no Tigers or boats and the boy in the film I was watching played Kurt in Glee, and I was patently not watching a film set in India.

Ok, so when I stopped the film I could see I’d made a mistake – it was “Struck by Lightning!”. Durr! Thank god I hadn’t pressed the wrong button on something at work! So I paid attention and downloaded the correct film, and sure enough there were scenes of India and a zoo, a boy and a Tiger.

Then I got to the bit with the boy and the boat, after everyone had died horribly, but there was no Tiger, just the boy, a zebra, an orang utan and a hyena then the animals started dying and eating each other and the boy was so fricken useless I just got annoyed and switched it off.

You can’t beat Lovejoy.

Anyhow, I thought I’d show you the huge ladder from the bit of knitting I did yesterday which I’ve just had to fix:

Although I was keen to knit this cardi I am a bit bored already. Oh dear! Lol!

Friday Lie In!

Hello everyone!

It’s nearly 8 am and I am still lounging in bed. What luxury is a lie in!

Having Fridays off for a year now, and only working 4 days, has been the greatest improvement in my life to date. Running a house and managing a family is busy work, and the more equal balancing of work and private time is a godsend.

This morning I have just finished reading Pride and Prejudice. What a super book! Now I have the choice between finishing Game of Thrones volume 2, “A Clash of Kings” or the other JK Rowling book, ” A Casual Vacancy”. Decisions, decisions!

This is the third book I have read since August, and I don’t think I have read with any enjoyment or consistency for some years until now, and it struck me this week how odd it was that I had been unable to find any comfort or refuge in a novel for the longest time.

A thought occurred to me that perhaps my enjoyment of reading has been increased with the degree of general happiness I have felt. So often books are lighthearted, and describe happy endings, following difficulties and reversals of fortune. Whilst I felt like my fortunes were reversed, I couldn’t bear to read of fictional situations along similar lines. Or happy endings.

So much of my writing here has been gloomy, I look back and think how I really have had a horrid few years. Thank God I have been able to come out the other side. What lovely friends I have had to have kept me going, and to keep believing in me. All the kindness I have enjoyed, the support and encouragement, it is a wonderful thing to know that as I was lost, bewildered and faltering, there was always someone to hand to bless me with a smile, or a kind word. The generosity of strangers, the new friends I have made, the old friends who have stood firm.

Now I can enjoy my passion for books, as I can now enjoy everything properly again!

My book is finished, so I am going to get breakfast and a scented bath, with a face mask. Then a few chores and some knitting. With any luck I’ll get to the pool for a long swim.

I hope you all have a lovely day!