_20180425_140041.jpgI heard a cuckoo this morning.

I was out enjoying the grounds of the castle which lovely generous lovely people have left open to all and free of charge.

Here is the hornbeam tunnel:

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And a short slideshow with: a photo of cows grazing under pear trees, so you know I wasn’t making that stuff up. Another current obsession are these little slices of spring blue sky behind old brickwork. They always cast me straight back to my childhood of rainy Sundays indoors doing jigsaws of Flemish Old Masters’ landscapes. A woodland walk frothing with wild garlic.


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Wall of wisteria


I enjoyed this today. The heat of last week building up in the narrow lane between the old city walls and the house-bricks has brought this wisteria into bloom really early. The scent hit me when I was still a good 30 yards away.

One for smelly-vision.

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Im-reuse-provised Shetland yoke sweater.

DSC_2351.jpgThree or four years ago I knit my son a yoke sweater following Elisabeth Zimmerman’s simple pattern (bottom-up and all knit in-the-round). Naturally, when I ran out of wool just above the armpits I started playing around with all the moorits and muskets odds and ends in my stash, Shetland and Icelandic got flung together, and it must’ve been very cold at the time, because , instead of stopping at the neck I kept going into a kind of roll-top, not-quite-turtle-neck. The wool of the main body was a Rowan bouclé which knitted up like matted papier-maché made out of the insides of old toilet rolls. Last year I almost threw it away when he grew out of it, but I had always loved the neck, so I ripped out all the bouclé, picked up the free stitches, and started knitting down-the-way from the yoke in this sumptuous Shetland Aran 3-ply from Uist Wool.

I love the way all the natural browns come together and the fact that it’s going to be a forever sweater. I just blocked the heck out of it, adding 20cm of girth to the chest, and the stocking stitch doesn’t mind at all. When it gets too short I can just knit a bit more on the bottom edge.

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I chanced upon the most beautiful, bucolic spot today while out walking. A shallow valley with more of those marvelous pear trees and gorgeous, bounteous pollard willows beside a quiet stream.



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Making your own clothes

Three things I made this winter. I am thinking that photographing clothes well takes a bit more skill than I have today. Just take my word for it that wearing these things that I made myself makes me feel proud and powerful.

Also, they fit me and are made of beautiful, high-quality, long-lasting materials.

L: fabric, from the Friday market, wool on nylon weave from MaxMara. pattern: Japanese Coat #1 raglan. Ok, so I had to learn Japanese to make this, but, it was worth it.

C: fabric: Essex linen from Robert Kaufmann. pattern: unfortunately bust-free and too-small-pockets smock from Merchant and Mills (c’mon pockets you can put stuff in, please). knitted Coppersmith scarf with Blacker yarns’ Samite yarn.

R: fabric: vintage Liberty tana lawn. pattern: Walden shirt.



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Pear trees blossom

DSC_2314.jpgTraditional landscape. Grazing with huge standard apple and pear trees.


Dignity and generosity. The trees carry themselves so well in all seasons, give the cattle shade, and play host to loads of wildlife – unlike the stunted, sprayed, clipped and tortured lines of commercial fruit farming.

The orchards’ most obvious guests are the noisy woodpeckers and the bunches of mistletoe who, in turn, lend the trees their midwinter green.


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Head hunted already

Course Clinical Bioinformatics

Title page of my new distance-learning course. Something to keep me going until full-time study begins in September.

I am quite excited about getting my teeth into a new course. This March, when I went for interview for my Master’s programme, I had to psyche myself out of a terrible case of impostor syndrome. It’s a little voice inside your head that goes “You’re not a mathematician, you’re not a scientist, you don’t know anything about programming…The people who do that kind of thing don’t look like you, or dress like you…You’re going to get found out. You won’t fit in…”

I’m sitting here looking at even just the word Bioinformatics and thinking “uh oh”. That means its obviously time to stop worrying and just get stuck in. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In other news: my better half, who has been his usual enthusiastic, encouraging self on the subject of me taking up full-time study (not!), has perked up considerably about the idea since he accidentally did some networking and already got me headhunted for a job even before I’ve started the course.

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