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Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh’

Everywhere I look our green spaces are sprouting a banquet of wonderful herbal spring tonics.  Just around the corner from us, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh has a thankfully haphazardly maintained area of grass and bushes and just passing by on the way into the city I see in one glorious clump nettles, dandylion, chickweed, ground ivy and plantain.  This is a wonderful time of year for dandylion tincture, made from the roots, leaves and flowers of dandylion.  this mixture helps with liver and kidney function, strengthening and increasing their function, thereby acting as a cleansing force.  The leaves are a potent diuretic but contain enormous amounts of potassium, something that over-the-counter diuretics strip the body of.  No need to supplement here.  The roots are a very gentle laxative.  Fortunately we have dandylions growing by the dozen in our garden 🙂

Our beautiful communal gardens are very tidily maintained, but every now and again there is a rebel outbreak of chickweed, and I head for the gates with bags and scissors to snip up a harvest before the gardeners arrive.  Chop this up very fine, pack it into a jar and cover with cider vinegar.  Then tip the whole thing out into a bowl and whizz it up with a hand held food processor to make finest quality chickweed vinegar.  Left for a few days it will turn from dark green to light, light moss green and is fabulous in baths for hot, itchy, drying skins, arthritis or general aches and pains.

Last year’s Plantain tincture is still going strong, but I am thinking of harvesting some more for this year’s supply.  Back up to Arthur’s Seat for the best windswept plants.

Lemon Balm calls from the garden pots – seems to be doing incredibly well at the moment – but last night I made Calendula and Lavender lotion from Calendula infused oil, Calendula infused water and a few drops of Lavender essential oil at the end.  This was supposed to be cream, but I underdid the beeswax component.  In fact I completely forgot the beeswax until it became clear that the mixture was not going to thicken any more… then I reheated the mixture and added beeswax at the same temperature and all was well 🙂  it is now the ideal consistency for a massage oil.  Happy conincidence as it’s Joolz’ Birthday tomorrow 🙂

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Blogging again

Blogging?  Haven’t done that for months.  However, I want to marvel again at what wondrous things shawls are.  To think that a mere 5 or 6 years ago I was anxious about starting a shawl lest I should appear (to myself rather than anyone else) of the grandmotherly nature and no good for anything except rocking in a chair.

Moving to Edinburgh has changed all that although I did start the shawl journey before I emigrated from Sussex.  Up here shawls are a wonderful way of ensuring that whatever the weather does, there is protection.  So many shawls have been born:  Victorian Lace, Forest Canopy, Shetland Triangle, Simple (with rather complex adjustments), Ishbel / Fishbel, Ulmus, Lace Shawl, Hamamelis, Day Break, Meandering Vines… and a variation on Day Break which is not on Ravelry yet.

I’m itching to start another one, not sure yet which, but I have in mind Shaelyn or Morlynn Shawl – or maybe Photosynthesis.  So many decisions, and so much yarn in the stash to knit up!

Talking about stash, I did clear out the stash cupboard and re-order my yarns into colour boxes, clear blues, duck egg blues, teals, pinks, oranges, reds, deep purples, dusty lilacs, whites blacks and greys, rich greens, sea greens, yellows and golds, browns, and finally sock yarns.  Yarns I have acquired in the last couple of years, from K1 in Edinburgh and earlier on this year in Stirling Knitcamp are in baskets rather than hidden away in the yarn cupboard.  Rather a lot of lace weight and 4ply appeared.  I’ll be knitting until I’m 303 to get through it all, but that’s fine by me.

Cats update:  they are both doing fine and enjoying being inside when it’s cold and outside when it’s sunny.  Lots of space to play and chase each other, and lots and lots of devoted admirers at our knitting group evenings 🙂

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Settling in with the cats

So pleased to say… the cats seem to be enjoying themselves.  There is deep purring all round and enough sofas to satisfy most demands.  Also some very high cupboards in the kitchen onto which there is access via the mantelpiece from the back of a dining chair.  Very satisfying 🙂

The journey up from the South with Mike and Emma was fairly uneventful, but their (the cats’) parting shot was to catch a pheasant the night before – well done girls!!! – and Phoebe kung foo kicked her way out of her cat box in the car on the way to the station.  I would have had someone sit with them to calm them, but this obviously wasn’t an option.  Anyway, they caught her and she arrived at King’s Cross very cross but otherwise well.  They then had to wait an hour and a half with us for the train to Edinburgh, and then spent nigh on five hours on the train itself.  Cleo had her nose stroked until she was comatose and slept all the way, and I held Phoebe’s paw.  She managed almost all the way and had a little panic / strop in the last twenty minutes.  Enormous joy when they got to the flat and could explore.

We kept them in the playroom for the first couple of nights (until I was sure they knew exactly where the litter tray was!) and now they are free ranging everywhere night and day.  They haven’t tried to get out yet – well, the weather is wet and cold – and seem very happy.  None of the yowling that was driving Mike and Emma mad, just a lot of purring.  Phoebe has recovered her ability to do somersaults and was entertaining Joolz with them last night 🙂

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Bringing the cats home

Joolz and I are off to London to pick up Phoebe and Cleo.  My ex-husband no longer wants them, so although they will miss the countryside, they are much better off where they will be loved and cherished, in the way those with an oriental feline persuasion like best.  We are working on Monday until mid-afternoon in London, then we’ll meet the cats (in their travel boxes, and accompanied by ex-husband) at King’s Cross for the 6pm train up to Edinburgh.  I’ve been informed that they are in very good voice, so the journey should be interesting 🙂  We have invested heavily in cat nip.

We are SOOOOO looking forward to having them with us, and despite my not having lived with them for over 18 months now, I’m hoping they’ll settle in fairly swiftly – the first week or so just in the flat, then we will have had cat flaps installed so they can make their first tentative steps out into the great beyond of masses and masses of back gardens back to back – two crescents effectively, all with small walled gardens.  They will encounter more cats than they have ever met before and absolutely no deer or badgers, but probably the odd fox here and there.  We shall endeavour to keep them away from the road at the front for as long as possible.  They haven’t seen 5 storey buildings yet, but I’ll wager Phoebe will give it a go.

Goodness knows how they will respond to a highly restricted outdoors playground in terms of space… but more interest per square inch than they have ever dreamed of.  At least they will be allowed in the house at night, which should probably go down very well.  We are thinking warm, soft, radiators, sofas, beds, airing cupboards, that sort of thing.  In fact I shall be encouraging them to lounge around in the flat as much as possible.  In terms of inside interest, I think the rope bannisters up the stairs will provide good climbing facilities, and the flat lends itself nicely to being developed as a race course 🙂

In the meantime we are sitting on the train on our way down to London, and I am revelling in the ability to mess around with my laptop, check out ravelry, and get some knitting in at the same time, all of which is impossible when flying.  It does bump around, though!

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Cats

My cats, Phoebe in the picture above, and Cleo, her sister, will be joining us in Edinburgh on February 1st.  My lovely ex-husband is not prepared to keep them and so they will have to get used to city living!!!  We have a small back garden which backs on to masses of other small back gardens… so they will have to work out their new territory.  Hopefully without too much ado.  There are also very large gated communal gardens for the crescent, but they will have to cross a road for those and I am reluctant to let them do that.

The flat, however, is rather more fun for cats than the house they are coming from.  It sports a very inviting, enormously thick rope as a banister along the wall down the stone stairway from ground to garden floor, so I expect they will have fun chasing each other at speed along it upside down.  They will also be able to hurl themselves off the iron banisters from the top hall down to the bottom hall.  Then there are the very high ceilings and equally high shutters inviting a climb and a rest atop to enjoy the view – bliss for orientals!  Raw mince and the promise of plentiful Edinburgh mice may well help too.

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We’ve moved!

Well, nearly… we’ve moved everything from Joolz’ flat and everything from my flat in Edinburgh, and tomorrow, Tuesday, the rest of my furniture and books arrive from Sussex.  Hmmm.  I’m not sure what my lovely ex-husband has put in the removal van for me … hopefully all the correct furniture and my books… he is saying that he has packed ‘some other stuff’ as well.  I don’t know quite what he means, but we’ll see what arrives.  I’m looking forward to the piano, the grandfather clock and the old Chesterfield sofa which will go straight off to be reupholstered.

The flat is beautiful and it is wonderful to have space again.  I haven’t even been out into the garden yet, and we moved on Friday!  I have taken this week off apart from today in London so I shall have time to explore.  There are interesting things to get to grips with, like the burglar alarm and, in reverse, the ‘exit system’… the vendors have a lovely little downs syndrome girl who used to go walkabout in the centre of Edinburgh, so they had an exit lock fitted so she couldn’t get out unaccompanied.  We have to key in the code to get out of our front door!  Then there’s a rather bizarre heating and hot water system and underfloor heating in the upstairs bathroom.  A quiet couple of hours with the instruction manuals will do wonders.

Drawing room and kitchen are as good as finished, so we now have somewhere to eat and collapse 🙂  It’s amazing how many jars of lentils, beans, rice and dark muscovado sugar one can accumulate when living out of two flats… somehow rather more than twice as many as in one flat.  (What on earth did we need all the sugar for?)  Joolz has worked out how the open fire in the drawing room is best lit and kept a) alive and b) from burning out in two minutes.  There are woodburners in the kitchen and the playroom (where Joolz will do her sculpture and furniture restoration and I shall do messy fabric stuff, and we shall try some mosaic soon).  I can’t wait to get the woodburners going – apparently they are dual fuel… not sure what that means exactly, I’m just used to logs, but we’ll find out.  Our bedroom is awash with clothes as the wardrobes we bought won’t be delivered until February!  Until then there are motley chests of drawers and my little old wardrobe donated by one of my sons.  Joolz has several boxes of shoes which are still looking for a home.

Joolz has started painting the spare bedroom which was in glorious shades of bubblegum pink stripes – her mother is arriving on Wednesday for a quick visit, so that gave us a deadline!  The office, which we shall be using as a clinic room for the while, is as yet untouched and full of boxes, but doesn’t need redecorating.  The two other bedrooms we shall be using for work, and the decorators turn up on the 15th, so we haven’t even been in there yet.

The books are spilling out everywhere.  Joolz packed 50 boxes of books for me from my flat and a few more from hers, and there are more arriving from Sussex, so we are having shelves made for the library.  All the other shelves have been distributed around the flat and the vendors left two very large bookcases behind which are now in the drawing room. 

The yarn boxes are in the downstairs hall hoping for a space in one of the storage cupboards, which we conveniently can’t get at because of the yarn boxes stacked neatly in front of the door 🙂  My yarn baskets are in the drawing room and in the playroom.  Bliss!  I really want to sit down with a cup of tea and get on with some knitting 🙂

Oh yes, and my divorce came through in the same week as we concluded missives (completed) on the flat, and all went very amicably and well.  Such a relief!  I need the Christmas break now.

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Yarn Goddess in Edinburgh

Sunday was the day, and I went to K1 Yarns with the intention of bagging greens. Forest, grass, lime, sage, sea, sap, stem, there they were… lace weight and 4ply, alpaca / merino / cashmere blends… bliss!!! I came away with some 4ply weight in Scottish Thistle, a blend of greens and blue/greys, some light grass green lace weight, and darker, softer, more bluey grass green lace weight, and just 400m of more sock 4ply in, er, green. To round it off I couldn’t resist burnt orange lace weight. YUM!!!

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