Monday, 11 September 2017

Highlanders Weekend

Highlanders 2

My weekend experience

I’m a rare blogger, it’s something I don’t often feel the need to do, but I occasionally like to have a look back at something, so as I’m a bad sleeper when away from my own bed I thought that I’d get something down while these things are fresh in my mind.

First let’s put a picture in here. Yes I hate myself in this photo!

I don’t like photos of myself and avoid them whenever I can. I certainly don’t post pictures of myself all over the place so if you do happen to have come here it is probably from a place where I hope you will respect my wishes for a certain amount of privacy and I will ask you to respect that and not put this out on general view. But if you had the chance to have a photograph with this lovely lady wouldn't you be grinning like a Chesire cat that just got a big plate of milk? She just about got time to say 'Hello how are you' before they took the photo which is another reason why I didn't get the chance to smile properly......just a little bit starstruck at that moment in time. I do think she started off with an 'Aww', as if she had just seen her old auntie come to pose with her for a photo! I also felt a bit sorry for her as I'm sure she wanted to actually talk to people rather than have them ushered in then almost pulled out the other side, but with the number of people wanting their moment with her I can of course quite understand why.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to see her or speak to her, this lady is just as beautiful and gracious both in looks and attitude as she appears in the media. 

So, if you've come here then you're after tidbits of gossip and to hear what this one or that one said or did. Some things I will put out there, as I think they are things the actors wouldn't mind, others I won't as they were said off the cuff and I will just generalise rather than stating who the particular actor was that said it.

I tweeted that Caitriona called Graham a Princess, so I can't take that back, too many people have seen it even if I deleted it. They were talking about riding the horses in Series 1 and some of the incidents which, TBH sounded quite scary, so I will leave it to your imagination exactly why she said this, but as you can imagine it brought the house down. There was also Steven Cree arm wrestling this really big American guy, who was called.......wait for it........Jamie. It was set up on Friday at the meet and greet, but I think Jamie thought it was a joke and he looked a bit surprised that he was actually asked up onto the stage to perform. Let's just say the outcome was pretty similar to last year - Steven Cree needs still more hours in the gym before he picks an arm wrestle with these big muscle men. Also if you follow Steven on Twitter, he is just the same on a stage, a real blast of a guy who was born to entertain. I'm sure he could perfectly easily do a stand up comedy show, I don't know if he has but he's a lot of fun if you don't mind the odd f**k word thrown in with an occasional s**t as well.

What really struck me during the talks/QandA sessions is that these actors, some of whom we've seen on screen and stage over many years, some of whom are just setting out on their careers, are all just the same as us. They have insecurities and get nervous, they have crises of confidence, they worry how they are going to pay the gas bill. One actor was so nervous they were pacing up and down before going on stage, saying they couldn't do this by themselves, one was fiddling with their hair all the time they were on stage, one said they feel like a blob when they are standing next to Sam Heughan because of the way he looks so good and is so easy to light with his good  bone structure (I originally typed god bone structure there - Freudian slip????.....;-))and this person is certainly not a blob.

I was moved by some remarks especially made by the men about how they wished for a better world, one even said he would like to go back in time to a matriarchal society as he was quite sure that if more women were powerful leaders we would have a far more peaceful world. I have to say that made me tear up, so even this cynical old body can still be moved by such words. Also when asked what would make them turn down a role they said under no circumstances if rape of any sort or hurting children was involved. In fact they said how much they hate the amount of graphic violence that is portrayed on our screens today. They said that sometimes the implied violence of earlier times was just as powerful and suggested we watch a famous scene in a film, in which people think they have seen a very violent act, but in fact it is never actually shown but people are sure it is, but it's because of the powerful acting.

There were a some actors that I made sure I was there to watch the QandA and was quite happy to go without lunch to see them and am so grateful that I did. There were also a couple that I thought I wasn't that bothered to catch, but once they started talking I thoroughly enjoyed them and have found a new respect for them.

I'm deeply disappointed that I didn't manage to see a couple of the actors at all, but I couldn't be in 2 places at once and was queing for photos or autographs so had to miss both of them.

I was at times surprised, at others humbled, but mostly I just sucked it all in and will spend time going over it and playing bits back to myself. If there’s one thing that I brought away with me from the weekend it’s how no matter who people are or where they come from, when you get a crowd together who are passionate about something, then that is a joyful thing and it’s one of the things that makes me very happy. I don’t care if others don’t understand that, but it’s mine and I love it.

I will mention a couple of things that frustrated me. Firstly having a gold ticket was IMHO not worthwhile for very much. I'm looking at the up side, it got me Caitriona's auto included & I met & had a lot of fun with the ladies I sat with at the Meet & Greet on Friday night, but each of the actors we were there to see only got 5 minutes to sit at each table, then because there were so many tables we had to sit & wait ages for the next person to appear & it was very late by the time we left; some tables were still waiting to see one guest so goodness only knows how late it was when they left. I did get a Gary hug, but he hugged me so tight he nearly broke my specs, and bless him he offered me his reading specs to replace them! Luckily mine are made to be abused so no damage done. He did give me another hug when I went for his auto, this time without squashing my face :-) The Gold ticket didn't give any priviledges in the queues, we ended up queuing with regular ticket holders anyway & they were quite surprised, but I put that down to bad organisation when the hotel suddenly told the organisers that the ballroom had been double booked by another organisation on Saturday & Starfury had to put up with using other rooms all over the hotel so we ended up wandering back & forth to find out where we should be. I also wonder if the hotel's bad Wifi prevented Starfury from being able to Tweet regularly what was happening. There have been various posts around about people videoing and taking audio during the Q&A's which they don't allow & to me it's bad enough to flout the rules but to post them publicly is really pushing it & needs to be controlled much better. The audio in the hall was really bad so how people did manage it is beyond me, but then I haven't listened or watched any of them so don't know how good or bad they were and apparently Starfury are aware so perhaps these people will be black listed and not allowed back.

Will I go back next year? Well now my husband has realised that he and the dog can survive a whole weekend without me, yes I might, but it very much depends on the date as we have a big anniversary next year and that must come first - I really don't think the family would be happy if I wasn't there for my own party even if I bought them tickets and took them with me!!!

Of course someone had to ask the question about series 5 and beyond and apparently there are those that are up for doing more, but it of course depends on the powers that be.......sorry if you were expecting a really juicy bit of gossip!!!!

Friday, 4 March 2016


I think I have recovered enough from the terrible sadness of one of our dogs suddenly dying to make this post. 
Our beloved Springer Spaniel, Oscar died early morning on Wednesday 2nd March.

He was very sick on Sunday evening, so I took him to the vet first thing Monday. She gave him a good examination & we decided to try him with an anti-sickness injection. However by Tuesday I was very worried about him not recovering so got him to the vet again. She gave him another examination and a pain killing injection and  thought that he possibly had either something that he'd eaten which had got stuck somewhere in his digestive tract or it was pancreatitis, so I booked him in for X-rays & blood test for the Wednesday morning. But unfortunately he didn't make it and died in his bed. The Vet said that he most likely died from peritonitis due to something being stuck in digestion, for him to have gone that quickly. 

He was a lovely boy, very friendly & a typical working type of Springer. We rescued him when he was around 9 months old, he'd been quite literately dumped at the side of a canal so we took him on. He was a scruffy little thing but extremely lovable & enjoyed running around the footpaths & a good splash in water, but he was never much of a swimmer the way you'd expect a spaniel to swim. The picture of him was taken last October at Lynton in Devon, he looks nice & clean there because he'd just had his hair cut before we went on holiday and he had been splashing around in the stream.

Our other dog Indie seems to be OK, although when the chap from the crematorium came back this morning with his ashes she hid upstairs, so whether she remembered him taking Oscar away & thought he was going to take her I don't know, but otherwise she seems to be OK. In fact we had a lovely longer than usual walk this afternoon, a few months ago she was having a lot of problems with her back legs, but other than being a bit stiff if she lies down for a length of time she seems to be much better now, so hopefully she will carry on for a while yet. Again she's a rescue so we don't really know how old she is, but we think she's probably about 12. In fact we always thought that she would be the one to go first & I think if she had then Oscar might have pined for her.

I'm starting to feel a little more philosophical about it now, we've had enough dogs in our lives for me to know that each one is unique and brings something special to our lives, which non-pet owners can never understand. I try to explain to them that it's like having a child that never grows up, they rely on you every day to look after them, feed them, walk them, keep them clean  and give them a safe place to sleep at night, but unlike a child they never become any more independent that having a run off lead. But having not had children I can't imagine how parents would cope with a child dying, it's hard enough to lose a pet. I suppose if you lose a child it will be a hole in your heart for ever more, at least we could get another pet to replace him, but that's not going to happen for a long time or maybe never. The trouble with having pets is that they are such a tie. We have to plan time around their outings & feeding etc. & although they can be left you can't go off on holiday & leave them unless you either have someone to look after them or they are OK with being in kennels & you can find a good one, which we haven't been able to find for many years. The last time we put them in kennels for a couple of nights they both had bad tummies & were very stressed, so we decided that we just won't do it any more. 

So goodbye Oscar sweet boy, you never know if there is a heaven or an after-life we may meet again one day

Outlander the TV production

So now onto the TV production of Outlander. We decided to get the free trial of Amazon Prime to try out over Christmas, and guess what I found on there? Yes the TV show of Outlander, series one so I didn't bother to cancel the free trial and I can now watch it to my hearts content. I was truly hooked from the start to say the least, the acting is excellent, in fact there are many well known British actors in the series including Annette Badland who's acting I love, so it was a real treat to watch. There are harrowing scenes of violence as well as a lot of nudity and sex, but I feel it is all handled very well by the actors involved. Nothing is overtly gratuitous and there is some fine acting in what must have been very difficult to shoot scenes. The fact that the leading actors are very easy on the eye is also a huge bonus! These are the female and male leads, Irish model turned actress Caitriona Balfe and Scottish actor Sam Heughan in their costumes for the wedding scene
I am truly hooked on the costumes, they are beautifully designed and made, although I don't know much about the fashions of that period, the designer, Terry Dresbach and her team appear to have made tremendous efforts to get the costumes to look right, so no obvious zips or velcro, which is a good thing as far as I'm concerned if you're trying to get authentication on costumes.

A confession from me, I often watch 'period' dramas to see how the costumes are made and lose a lot of interest if they are made in too modern a way with zips etc. While I appreciate that a production might have a lot of costumes to be made for extras I really think that effort should be made at least with the principal actors to make the costumes as far as possible, authentic looking. 

I suppose this is one of the reasons why I have been so pleased to watch this programme, to see the men wearing genuine Great Kilts in muted colours, not the gaudy Victorian kilts that are thought of by most people as being Clan tartan, and the women wearing the lovely muted colours that look like the Scottish scenery where the filming was done. I would love to see an exhibition of the costumes, and who knows, maybe they will one day go on display somewhere in the UK, then I can indulge myself in trying to find out what the fabrics are. I would especially love to have a closer look at that wedding dress, to me it looked like linen on the overskirt, certainly looked like plain weave in the close ups that I've tried to get, and the embroidery is utterly stunning, although I did see a little video & it is unfortunately machined not hand stitched.

They have apparently just wrapped filming on series 2, much of the storyline is based on late 18th century Paris, so the look of the costumes will be very different, just look at these beauties. 
 Again I don't know about how true to the correct type of fashion and textiles of the day they are, but I do love the way they look. I've been up to now more interested in primitive and Medieval to Elizabethan era textiles, dismissing much of the later eras as 'fashion', but I'm sure there is as much of interest in them as there is in early fabrics. I am not one to follow fashion in any way shape or form, but I will now add the 18th Century to my list of ever growing research along with the others that I have a passion for. Of course that was the era of what I suppose I would call the dandy fashions, even the men wore very beautiful clothes if they were mixing in the highest of Parisian society. I wonder if Scottish Highlanders will feel completely comfortable in all that satin!

Probably very strange of me but I prefer the Scottish look!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

New passions

I'm not the sort of person who normally gets caught up in the world of fandom, but I have a confession to make; I've become a bit obsessed by the Outlander TV series and books. I started to read the books by Diana Gabaldon when I noticed the first book in the series at my local library because it was originally titled 'Crosstitch' in the UK and being mildly obsessed with all things textile, I decided to read it. It looked just my sort of book, with a historical theme so I just ignored the fact that it said that it was being made into a TV series by the US channel Starz. I thought that as it was being made for the US by an American production team that it would never be aired in the UK. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and have now read the first 5 books in the 8 so far of the series and I am very seriously hooked on them. These books are all very long, or the ones I've read so far have been, but all of them have been real page turners.
Now I know that not everyone is into reading books where violence is rife, with more than a smattering of sex thrown in for good measure, but there's just something in the books that seems to hit some sort of feeling, haven't quite managed to put my finger on it yet, but I certainly enjoy them. Sometimes I wonder how the main characters manage to survive so many unfortunate events and still live, and there are times that I want to just smack Claire the main female character, but then I remind myself that this is fiction - escapism in a story and I just sit back and enjoy it. However I know there are many detractors who just think the book is utter nonsense and just cannot see past the fact that these books are written with more than a nod to the mores and standards of the day. Yes we of right mind in the modern world look at rape whether heterosexual or homosexual, torture, beating etc. as totally wrong, but it is supposed to be the 18th Century where these things did occur. I suggest that many of the detractors have never bothered to actually do any kind of research into the way people lived then, if they did perhaps they would be somewhat less censorious about what the author writes. I think you have to get past the beginning of this book, take a lot of it with a very large pinch of salt and remember that it is a story, the product of the author's mind. Obviously if you don't like it put it away, but when people right long reviews then tell you how bad it is, I wonder how sincere they are. But then again I have read books that have many rave reviews but I've put down because I thought them absolute drivel, so it really is a matter of choice.
So if you enjoy a real mixture of genres but a really enjoyable tale then try it

So then on to my next new passion, weaving. I have had a rigid heddle loom for a number of years and while that was good to weave on, I missed making the more intricate weaves that can be done with a multi-shaft loom, so last year I acquired a 4 shaft Ashford table loom. I've enjoyed the weaving very much, but haven't had much time to do much & him indoors isn't up for retiring yet so it looks like my weaving will have to be done in fits and starts along with all my other textile passions. I just wish I had more hours in the day to pursue everything I want to.
 These are just a couple of tea towels that I've woven so far. I don't really need that many as we have a dishwasher, but I'm sure they'll come out some time to be used. In fact i have 4 tea towels on the loom at the moment, orders from my niece & of course I can't make for one niece without the other one, hence why I'm weaving 4 of them. I'm looking forward to getting them off the loom so that I can weave some lovely silk that I've got, probably into a scarf or shawl, although my loom is only 60cms so unless I do a double width it will be fairly narrow for a shawl, but I might just put some wool that I have here on first to see how I like weaving with wool on there as so far I've only woven with cotton

Monday, 22 July 2013

Is it really that long?

Well it's been a very long time since I posted anything at all, but just can't believe it's actually THAT long, doesn't time fly when you're busy?

We're gearing up now for this year's Fibre-East, we'll start the physical set-up from this Thursday.  I don't think people realise just how long these things actually take to organise even a 2 day event; if it all comes together then 2014 looks likely to be an even bigger event if all the bits & pieces of the Border Agency can be sorted out. I'm pleased that I don't have to cope with all the bumf that's got to be sorted through, just do my bit with the budgeting was quite hard enough. I really do hope that we can get the working visas all sorted out though as it looks as though they will be really popular.

Not been doing much in the way of knitting in the last few weeks - it's been far too hot even in the evenings for me to knit especially as I've got a winter jumper that's otn at the moment. It only needs the second sleeve finishing plus the neck, but as it's top down I don't want all that warmth sitting in my lap when it's 20degrees in the evening. They reckon 34 deg today & having just put some washing out I can quite believe it, must be easily 40 deg in the sun.

The last piece of knitting I finished was my Revontuli/ Northern Lights shawl with which I'm very pleased, especially as it was handspun as well. I get a real sense of satisfaction from knitting with handspun especially. Now I'm spinning a merino/alpaca/yak mixture for a sweater for me - no good for HD as I'd have to be washing it every 5 minutes; I don't want to be doing that too much as it will probably have to be hand washed. Next spinning will be for the Guild challenge which is 'Beside the Sea' which I have the fluff to spin up for, so hope that I can make what I have in mind, if not I have a plan B.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

So not everyone agrees with this strike do they, me for one that's sure!

OK let me play devil’s advocate here & put another angle on the public sector strikes. This is a scenario for a not un-typical man who's a small time builder, the sort of chap who most people will only see vaguely on a site building houses. This will happen to lots of people who are not public sector workers:

I am a builder aged 58, I am self-employed,  I do not run my own company but trade as a sole trader, so I have no income at all if a) I don’t work b) I am sick for a time (self-employed people cannot get statutory sick pay like employed people, they can only get employment support allowance which takes time to get & has to be applied for in the same way that unemployment benefit has to be applied for, so unless they are long term sick or unemployed,  no work no income).  If I’ve got the flu, unlike a teacher or refuse collector, I can’t just lie in bed for a week & still get paid. 

I have no work now because of the down turn in the economy. Yes there were a few good years back a while ago & I, like the whole of the western world took advantage of getting more & more credit to enjoy my life & taking out a bigger mortgage so that my family could live as comfortably as everyone else. 

My accountant advised me that unless I saved for a private pension I wouldn’t have any money after the age of 65 except for the State pension but I didn’t bother to take one out of course I was cocky & thought that I could save up enough not to bother with those money grabbing thieves at the pension companies who weren’t going to give me back anything like I paid in unless I lived until I was too old to care. Now like everyone else I will have to work until I’m 66 before I get state pension, OK that’s fair enough, but I have no work, nor do I have any savings left as I’ve been living on them for the last few years. I take the small jobs where I can, like repairing someone’s front wall, which I can hardly make any money out of because the work that I can get is so competitive that other people are undercutting me all the time. The money I get for the job barely covers my materials & the diesel I have to put in my van. 

So where do I go from here?  I’m finding it hard now to do the work that I did even 10 years ago. I’ve had a few accidents in my life & my joints are stiffening, it’s getting harder to get out of bed no matter what the season. My missus has a little job at the supermarket which keeps us in food & helps pay the bills but she’s 57 & won’t get her state pension until she’s just about 66. 

I don’t know how I’m going manage to work even if I can get a decent job, what with getting older & slower, when you have all these fit young lads who can shimmy up a ladder & not think about it. I can’t rely on anything at the moment so even if I had been able to afford to buy a private pension I’d have to have stopped paying into it a few years ago, so my pension would be worth b* all by now anyway.

This is why those of us who aren’t employed by the state have a problem with the strike, many of us don’t get anything except basic state pension unless we pay a very large amount for it, & while I, a woman, sitting at my desk & working can manage another 6 years or so if I have to, there are very many people out there who will physically be unable to carry on & never having had the benefit of being in state employment, won’t get any fat pension at the end of their working lives. 

Another thing that really amuses me is that many of these people who are striking would claim to be good citizens, caring about those less fortunate than themselves, many would also probably claim to be socialists as well, yet they don't give a rat's arse about the fact that it's all of the UK tax paying world who actually have to pay the rest of the contributions for these pensions. I see no problem with the public sector employees paying a higher percentage of their earnings if they want a decent amount for their retirement. I see many of my friends who have been teachers retire early, because they have had such inflated salaries compared to many in the private sector, that they have huge savings stashed away & can afford to travel off to all sorts of exotic countries, play golf & generally enjoy themselves & still expect us the public to pay them a grand pension. And if another teacher tells me how stressed their job is I think I'll wring their necks. Do they not think that people working in the private sector have to cope with stress? Once when we had to ask our solicitor for advice on an ex client who was being thoroughly nasty & offensive & threatening to sue us for nothing we'd done wrong, his comment was 'wouldn't life be wonderful without clients to deal with'! Even though I'm my own boss, boy do I get some awful times, after all I have to cope with public sector workers regularly & let me tell you I'd like to take them out & give some of them a good shaking down. Yes I know that very often their hands are tied with work practices that are sent down from above, but the people who sit on high are also public sector & IT'S ME WHO PAYS THEIR WAGES!!!! They are supposed to be PUBLIC SERVANTS, but do they ever consider that? Do they hell!

So that's why I'm afraid I have no sympathy with this strike. Get on with it, knuckle down & do the work like the rest of us have to to earn our money & just be grateful that you have a very well paid job & can live in comfort unlike those people who do not. Or retire early & live on your humungus savings & let some of the young people or those who have been made redundant & would kill for your jobs have them

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

I've been ignoring my blog

I've been so busy lately that I've not had spare time to put anything on my blog. Life was hectic in the run-up to Fibre-East, but it went brilliantly in the end after all the worry. Much praise to the main organiser Janet who put in hours of work on getting everything to run smoothly & keep traders informed and up to date. There were things that could have gone a bit more smoothly and some misinformation and we needed better signs, but it was the first festival, so hopefully they will be ironed out for next year. Also much praise to Camilla who worked very hard with the publicity, without her I don't think nearly so many people would have come through the gates. Most people seem to have had a great time at the show, and it looks like there are traders who couldn't make it in 2011 who want to book for 2012, so obviously there's a market in the East/Midlands for another fibre festival.

Ruby's Ripple blanket
I've still be spinning & knitting as well as recently finished a crocheted ripple blanket for baby Ruby. Despite trying to do the starting chain loosely it was a bit tight at the edge. I really should have used a bigger hook. It was made in Sirdar Juicy, a bamboo & cotton blend, ideal for a summer baby. Now of course I wish I'd used something else to make it in, summer has really gone with all these storms coming in. Anyway it should still be warm enough to use for a while yet. I've now got to knit or crochet another blanket for her cousin who's expected in a couple of months time so I'd better get myself sorted out with some yarn. Trouble is I don't want to make exactly the same blanket, but I'm a bit stumped what to make. It does work out very expensive buying so much yarn, I got this lot from a seller on Ebay so wasn't too bad & I still have some left which I'll probably use for weaving a scarf or something, but it's proving hard to get anything reasonable for the new baby, I'll probably go for wool, so will have to get round to looking for yarn soon.

Just finished spinning up some wool for socks for the shearer who was at Fibre-East. He gave me a CharrolaisX fleece & I said I'd spin & knit him some socks. I started knitting them last week but then realised they were going to be far too wide, so frogged them & started again with fewer stitches, just not used to knitting men's socks so it looks like these may take some time to get finished especially as I've just had a delivery of some Marble Chunky to knit for Xmas and a ball of 4ply to knit a scarf for my niece who lost the last one I made for her.