Wednesday, 31 October 2018

WOYWW 491–Knitting and Pet Service

On Saturday my hubby took me to the Range, and I bought a few bits and pieces. That’s all that’s on my desk this week, I’m afraid. A pack of craft card, a brush tool thingy for removing bits from detailed dies, and a couple of packs of refills for my hot glue gun.

WOYWW 491 31-10-18

It always amuses me when my hubby takes me shopping. He leaves me to my own devices for a while, so I can browse around, and then he finds me and the first question is, “Are you OK?” and when I reassure him, he goes off again, and the next time he comes back, he says, “How are you getting on?” and I say, “Fine, thank you,” and off he goes again, and then comes back with the final question, “Have you nearly finished?” when I know that he is thoroughly bored and wants to go home!!


I finally finished unravelling the purple and yellow spotted knitting – and what a pain it proved to be! The fluffy yarn in particular was very hard to undo. I ended up with an enormous ball of yellow – really too big to handle! and a slightly smaller purple one. I created a tension swatch using the same circles pattern as before. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the original pattern from the garment I unravelled, and I had no note of the needle size I’d used, so I’ve had to start again from scratch.

03 Yarn and Pattern

I’ve done a small graph of the circles pattern repeat and now the tension swatch is done and measurements done, I have been able to design the pattern for the jumper I want to make – just a basic shape with nothing fancy – the colours and textures of the yarn will be enough. Using different yarns and needles, and each time making a tension swatch, this should be an easy pattern to follow in future.

This will be a lovely project to keep me going through the winter – nice to have something not too complicated to work on while watching TV.

Finishing the knitting of the peacock scarf.

03 Knitting Completed


Again, not a desperately successful loaf this week – not sure what I am doing wrong, but the colder weather may be something to do with it. As usual, it tastes fine. It’s just that it isn’t rising properly.

51 Sourdough Not Well Risen 28-10-18

I also made more brown baps this week – again, very successful – and more sourdough crackers, which have become a staple in this house – I don’t buy crackers any longer. These are tasty and nutritious and filling too – you don’t need so many, which means we are also eating a bit less cheese which is probably a good thing for our weight! I’ve discovered they are also delicious with marmalade. I usually have oatcakes with marmalade (fabulous) and it made me wonder whether I might be able to adapt the sourdough crackers recipe with the addition of some oatmeal, for a change. I must do some research.


Lily and Ruby had an adventure on Sunday, when we took them to the annual Pet Service at our church when we gave thanks for our furry family members! As usual, there was a large preponderance of dogs, who were mostly very well behaved apart from some competitive barking before the service began. (The lady on the right in the picture brought along her gorgeous little tiger stuffy!)

03 Dogs at the Pet Service

Apart from Lily and Ruby, only one other kitty, called Amelia.

04 Amelia at the Pet Service

She’s an old hand at this and just sat quietly throughout.

There was also Karen, the guide dog, who of course is always well-behaved.

02 Guide Dog at the Pet Service

Finally, here are our two.

01 Lily and Ruby at the Pet Service

My hubby had put newspaper in the cat carrier and of course Ruby had to tear this up. They were a bit nervous at the beginning but soon settled down. They had each other for moral support. We had a bit of crying from Lily in the car on the way there, but on the way home, not a peep – they know when they are homeward bound!

The trouble was, they were both very naughty when we got them home! Blowing off steam, I suspect.

The service was lovely with lots of singing, a thoughtful little sermon from the minister about our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation (I thought a lot about a horrifying programme I saw recently about the levels of plastic pollution in the oceans and its impact on marine life), and then a short talk by one of the representatives of our local Animals in Distress charity. This year she spoke about a rescue cat called Bomber with spinal problems, who has recently been rehomed. He had a CT scan on his back which showed that despite his wonky spine, he’s in pretty good shape. You can see his Instagram pictures here which show how happy he is in his new home. Animals in Distress is currently engaged in a massive fund-raising operation to build a new, purpose-built centre.

Lily and Ruby were very much admired and lots of people who hadn’t seen them since last year’s service were amazed how big they were! They were only a few months old last time.

Here are us two, enjoying a cup of tea afterwards. (No, I’m not really trying to hide the cake…)

05 Us at Pet Service 28-10-18 by Joe Lazenby

Talking of animals, my hubby found this brilliant Youtube video last week, about a whale who showed its gratitude to the people who rescued it from some fishing net.

Health Update

I had a letter from my surgeon on Saturday, confirming what I already knew, that the hernia has returned. He wants to see me to discuss options, so no doubt I’ll receive an appointment in due course – but it will probably not be till next year if I know the NHS!

Also, on Monday, not having heard anything further about my pants, I phoned up for a progress report and someone else returned my call, saying that the machinist had been out of the office and they hadn’t even made a start on my pants! I said this was simply not good enough because I’d been promised by the rep that my order would be given top priority because of the mistake that had been made. I expressed my extreme annoyance at their inefficiency and that I was not at all happy. I also told them that I had now had confirmation of the hernia having returned, and that this order was urgent as it needed the support. Goodness, I’m fed up with all this nonsense. They promised the pants would be in the post tomorrow, but I’m not expecting miracles. If they don’t fit yet again, I am sure I don’t know what I shall do!!!!!

Finally, after my recent “relaxed carrot” photo, another wonky veg to make you smile. It arrived with my grocery delivery last week. I think it looks a bit like a seahorse!

Wonky Sweet Potato 24-10-18

Wednesday, 24 October 2018


No change on my main work desk this week, but over the other side, all my felt stuff has been pulled out again…

WOYWW 490 24-10-18

On Monday afternoon, I finally got round to wet-felting the embellishments I made for the striped scarf. You may remember a while back I needle-felted quite a few felt balls and flowers and these needed a bit of rough treatment to firm them up a bit. At the top of the photo on the left you can see my olive oil soap that you use with hot water for wet felting. That stuff smells lovely and I always associate it with felt.

06 Felt Balls and Flowers - Wet Felted 22-10-18

All the pieces are laid out on the table with the vinyl cloth which is beside the sink in my studio. I shall leave them out until they are fully dry, and then I can start sewing the embellishments onto that scarf.

I’ve done quite a few more inches on the peacock scarf and I should finish the knitting in a few days’ time. I need to make a few more peacock feathers and then I can finish that one too.

I’ve also resumed unravelling a rather unsatisfactory knitted tunic top I made years ago – I like the colours and the design (purple circles on a yellow background – there’s a snippet of it in the photo montage that makes up my blog header) but it never fitted very well and I didn’t like the neck. I am going to knit it up again to a different design. It is made up of different 4-ply thickness yarns so there’s variety in the texture as well as the colour. I started working on this particular UFO (UnFinished Object) unravel months ago and it was another one that bit the dust along the way and definitely needs finishing. It will be good to have a new knitting project to keep me going through the winter.

01 Unravelling Old Knitting

02 Detail of Old Knitting

The only other thing I did in the studio this week was also on Monday afternoon. I mended one of my necklaces that had got broken, and soldered a stretchy metal arm band that had also snapped, which I’ve been putting off doing for months! I like these old-fashioned men’s arm bands as I’ve got rather short arms and my sleeves are always too long, and they keep them up out of the way when I’m busy in the kitchen etc. Really pleased to have got that little job done. I had to do the other arm band too, last year. The joins obviously weren’t that secure, but I’ve had them for years so I suppose they haven’t done too badly.

I am getting absolutely inundated with dried teabags and I really need to start working on those, carefully cutting them open and tipping out the tea, ready to go on the garden. Then I’ve got to decide what to do with them all! This job is definitely on my UFOs to-do list.


I’ve decided to start making bread rolls. They are useful for sandwiches etc. and looking at the list of ingredients on the supermarket ones, I was horrified! So many added chemicals to such a simple food. They are very little trouble to make really, and much more delicious, and with no artificial additives. I found a simple half-and-half wholemeal and white recipe online and added lots of nice seeds to the mix (my usual sunflower and pumpkin, and also some chia and brown flax seeds for good measure), and topped with sesame seeds. A huge success!

Brown Seed Baps 20-10-18

My sourdough this week was NOT a success. As usual the flavour is good but I tried altering the technique a bit because I thought the reason why my sourdough never rises very much may be due to over-proving, but leaving it for a shorter time clearly wasn’t the right decision.

50 Sourdough Not Risen 21-10-18

Oh well, it tastes OK, even if it’s rather dense this week! It would make good ballast.

Our Michelin-Starred Meal Out

Last night we went for our special meal out. A friend from church gave us the ticket that he’d won, saying we would enjoy it more than them. What a lovely treat! Scroll down to previous post. View it if you dare. Prepared to be green with envy, and don’t view if you are hungry or you’ll hate me!!

12 Venison Main


On Sunday afternoon my hubby was busy in the garden, cutting back, and clearing all the weeds from the waterfall outside the kitchen window. Ruby was fascinated by all the activity and I snapped this sweet piccy of her balancing on the trellis – taken with the zoom through the kitchen window.

10 Ruby Balancing on Trellis 21-10-18

Lily has decided to be antisocial in the evenings and her latest sleeping place is on the armchair in the flat, much to my hubby’s disgust. Ruby just loves to settle down on my legs once I’ve got my feet up on the recliner and we both enjoy the mutual warmth!

My little buttercup was in real trouble yesterday – not just once, but twice, I caught Ruby in the act of licking my butter when my back was turned – while I was actually still in the room! The second time I caught her, she ran away and hid. She knew she’d been a naughty girl. Lots of cuddles and forgiveness later.

Health Update

The first pair of support pants duly arrived last Thursday and to my extreme annoyance, they don’t fit. I thought, “Oh no, not again…” I went through all this last year. I immediately phoned the lovely rep and she was absolutely horrified that this has happened to me again, and immediately swung into action, consulting her manager and attempting to sort out the problem. The next morning she phoned me for some additional accurate measurements and I emailed her photographs too. They are going to remake them and hopefully they will arrive in the next day or two as she was marking it urgent. I also sent her a photo of my now very obvious hernia and she agreed this really needs proper support.

They have cut the pants much too short. The band at the top cuts right across the middle of my stoma bag – completely useless! Also, I asked for lace, and they haven’t put this on. Someone isn’t reading the directions the rep gave them.

My hubby wondered if I could go with another firm but I really don’t want to – when they get it right, the pants are excellent. This company uses a unique fabric which is specifically designed by a doctor to give adequate hernia support while not interfering with the operation of the stoma, and is the only company that does a bespoke service and home visits. Our hospital also deals with them and they run a regular clinic in the colorectal outpatients, and they know the rep that covers our area. The rep didn’t think that what had happened to me was a common problem and was mortified that it had happened to me at all, let alone twice! I had such a time with it last year when they got it wrong twice, and it took months to get it sorted.

In the meantime I am continuing to wear the old ones which the rep said were no longer giving me adequate support because they need replacing every year (they are now about 18 months old) as they gradually lose their stretch with wearing and washing, and also since they were made, I have lost some weight. I didn’t order any more early this year because I knew I was due to have surgery and you can’t wear them for several weeks after that as they exert too much pressure, and then I was waiting to see my surgeon and the stoma nurse for several months after I eventually got out of hospital. When I saw them in August they agreed I should continue with the support garments and the nurse arranged an appointment for the rep to call on me. Everything takes so long to get organised these days and with them making a mistake with the fitting just adds insult to injury and all the time my hernia is getting bigger, it seems.

I had my CT scan last Thursday and of course I haven’t had any result back yet. I shall probably phone the stoma nurse early next week to see if there’s any news.


My hubby’s brother has used a rollator for some years now and swears by it, and several months ago, our sister-in-law suggested that I might find one useful. I did some online research and found the one I wanted on Ebay, but it was collect only, and too far away. I looked up the model but unfortunately it is no longer made, which was disappointing because this particular one ticked all the boxes for me. I set up an email alert on Ebay and decided to wait a while to see if any more came up, rather than getting a different one, and this week I got notification of one, and immediately bought it. It’s second hand but looks virtually unused, and I got it for a very good price, and they were prepared to send it, too. It arrived on Monday and it’s really good! We went for a 90th birthday drinks party later on that morning and I was able to try it out. It uses a lot less energy than walking with crutches.

Rollator 22-10-18

Ruby is terrified of it.

The next thing is for my hubby to try and rig up some sort of bracket so I can hook it on the back of my buggy.

So again, another pretty eventful week chez Shosh! At least I haven’t been so exhausted this week.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Best Meal Ever

Tonight we went out for the best meal I have ever eaten. We were given a voucher for a three-course meal for two at a local Michelin starred restaurant and I have to say I have never eaten food like this! The food was cooked to perfection and the presentation and service second to none. Some people eat out like this all the time and probably don’t think twice about it but for us it was such a treat. It would be a shame to become blasé about such delights, I feel!

The restaurant is The Elephant, and its many accolades are well deserved.

We added a few extras to what was covered by the voucher and were happy to spend the extra for the superb side dishes, wine and petits fours to accompany our coffee after dinner.

The restaurant is an interesting mix of traditional and quirky modern. It is one of a terrace of beautiful houses just off the sea front in Torquay, with iron balconies and arched entrances, and inside, high ceilings with plaster cornices. The décor is understated and the plain tables are finished with a very interesting paint effect to co-ordinate with the room décor in colour.

Immediately inside the front entrance, one is confronted with a dramatic wooden carving of an elephant on the stairs.

01 Entrance Hall with Elephant Carving

Elephants feature elsewhere as well.

04 Elephants Above Bar

The lamp on the bar, with the attractive domed shade, is an elephant, too.

03 Bar

05 Steps to Upper Restaurant

The table surface.

02 Painted Table Surface

The edges are nicely distressed and the finish is semi-gloss with a silky feel. They were obviously hand-painted and included some interesting marks and occasional geometric stencil shapes in brighter colours.

Here is the à la carte menu.

06 Menu 1

We began with Campari and soda as an aperitif, and while we were waiting for our meal, we were served some delicious crusty sourdough accompanied by an attractive quenelle of whipped butter (on the left in the next photo). We both had the duck liver parfait to start. This was served with wafer-thin sourdough croutons – my sourdough is never like this!!

10 Starter

We were given beautiful steak knives to eat our mains, which were a pleasure to use, although the serrated edge seemed scarcely necessary as the meat was so tender.

08 Knife

On the top of the handle, where you rest your finger, was a little bee.

09 Knife Handle

For his main, my hubby had more duck:

11 Duck Main

and I had the venison.

12 Venison Main

In both cases the meat was beautifully pink and juicy.

For the side dishes we chose fine green beans, piccolo parsnips and dauphinoise potatoes, all melt-in-the-mouth and deliciously seasoned. These were all served in small cast iron dishes.

13 Vegetables

The dessert menu.

07 Menu 2

My hubby had the cheese. On the left of the picture you can see one of the bright geometric shapes stencilled on the table top.

14 Cheese

I couldn’t resist the chocolate fondant tart. It was served with the most delicious ice cream and a piece of thin crispy stuff that I couldn’t identify but I think it was caramelised sugar.

15 Chocolate Dessert 1

16 Chocolate Dessert 2

When I cut into the tart, a sumptuous larva flow of chocolate deliciousness poured out. Was I in heaven? Almost!

17 Chocolate Dessert 3

Here is my hubby enjoying his wine. He’s looking very pink!!

18 N Enjoying Meal

And yours truly:

19 S Enjoying Meal

I decided on a small glass of rioja to accompany my meal, but my hubby chose a white wine that he was particularly fond of. I had not heard of this before, and after I had sampled it, decided this was the best wine I had ever tasted: Gewürztraminer, a delightfully fragrant wine from the Alsace region of France. He had chosen a large glass and I think I probably drank about a quarter of it – I kept telling him he shouldn’t have too much as he was driving – that was my excuse, anyway!!

This was the most sensational evening out. Next time we have something special to celebrate, we agreed that this is where we would go, and blow the cost! For tonight, we are more grateful than we can say, to our friends at church who passed the voucher on to us. What a lovely gift. What a stunning meal.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018


No change on my desk this week. I’ve been really tired all week and in between commitments, I’ve been resting, and during that time, have done quite a lot of knitting, working on my peacock scarf.

02 WIP with Crochet Peacock Feathers

This is how much I’ve done so far. The ball is now considerably smaller and the scarf will now go round my neck, so hopefully not too much more knitting now! The yarn is fabulous – I love the way the colours merge into each other. It’s a single ply roving and in places, not very twisted, so it’s easy to split it with the knitting needles, especially working in moss stitch as I am doing, but apart from that, it’s lovely to work with. The edges are getting quite fluffy with handling, which makes me think the whole thing may be a bit vulnerable to that, but we shall see.

In the above photo, I’ve laid a few of the incomplete crochet peacock feathers on top to show and how the colours go with the scarf.


Sourdough this week – not terribly well risen but a great texture and flavour.

48 Sourdough Not Well Risen, Cut 14-10-18

I also made some more crackers from sourdough starter. These really are delicious and very easy to make. I’m not buying crackers any more. These are so tasty and are made from such wholesome ingredients with no chemical additives. They are also quite filling so you don’t need to eat so many! They are very crisp, and the bumps on them are actually air bubbles. They’d probably come out flatter if I forked them.

49 Sourdough Crackers 16-10-18

Fortunately I’ve got plenty of ready prepared meals in the freezer from previous cooking sessions so I haven’t had to think too much about doing a lot of meals when I am feeling so tired.

Health Update

CT scan tomorrow to check whether my hernia has returned – but I already know it has! I can feel it, and also I can see it, and it’s quite large. It’s really frustrating.

My support pants are due to arrive later this morning. Unfortunately the road is up outside our house at the moment and closed to traffic so I’ve had to arrange for delivery of the parcel (and my weekly Tesco order) to come down the garden from the road at the back of us. I spent a frustrating time of the phone yesterday a.m. trying to get through to the delivery company. They had no contact number on their website and their “contact us” section was useless – just a lot of different boxes that didn’t relate to what I wanted and I needed to speak to a real person! I googled them and found a number eventually, and then had to wait 20 minutes on the phone before anyone answered! I told them their customer service left a lot to be desired… Anyway, hopefully both deliveries will get to us OK later this morning.

My sleep patterns are all disrupted again… I get more and more wide awake the later it gets, and have to make myself go up in the small hours or I’d be up all night. Then, in the mornings, I am finding it very difficult to get going and when I haven’t had any commitments, have rested in bed till about 10 a.m. and haven’t been able to accomplish anything much until the afternoon, often suffering quite severe headaches. With ME, one’s diurnal rhythm is often disrupted, and I go through phases of this and there’s not a lot to be done about it, unfortunately! At least I am sleeping quite well once I do get to bed.


Neither of them are doing anything terribly interesting at the moment except sleeping! They go out briefly and don’t like the weather much. Ruby is being a perfect pest at meal times – she has decided she adores butter, which she can smell at 500 paces, and I can’t turn my back on her for a second if there’s butter around! At meal times she’s constantly pestering us, woofling her nose and craning her neck, and climbing up after our food. I keep threatening to put her out!! Once temptation is out of the way, she is happy to settle down on my lap and be a good girl. Lily never bothers us while we are eating. Their characters are so different!

Here are a couple of sleepy photos for you.

Butter wouldn’t melt……. or would it?!

08 Sleepy Ruby on my Legs 9-10-18

09 Sleeping Kitties 9-10-18

Lazy lot.

Meal Out

We had a lovely meal out with our friend last week and I gave her the box, which she was delighted with. Here is the pub where we had a truly excellent meal.

01 Cott Inn, Dartington, Outside

The food was so beautifully presented that I had to photograph it! Our three main courses:

03 My Stuffed Chicken Breast

04 N's Beef and Stilton Pie

I love how this fish is served, with the crispy skin matching the almost metallic glaze of the plate, with matching lines!

05 Margaret's Fish

Our desserts. I had the lemon tarte and I loved the way they had served the lemon sorbet in the shape of a lemon.

06 Desserts

We have been given a ticket for a meal for two at a local Michelin-starred restaurant, which we shall be enjoying soon. I’ve no doubt I shall photograph the dishes there, too!

As well as the box, I also gave our friend a jar of my home-made apple chutney, and I dressed it up a bit with a couple of labels that I die-cut, and a fabric lid tied on with some nice rough jute string I’ve got. Nice rustic look!

02 Apple Chutney with Labels

Harp Recital

On Saturday one of our church members gave a harp recital and talk. He’s only recently taken up the harp and he has already taken Grades 1 and 2 and passed both exams with distinction! It was a most interesting afternoon, and as well as playing several pieces on his two harps, he spoke about the history of the harp, and how the different types of harp work. He also showed some slides and videos. I had not heard him play before, because I was ill last time he played in church.

05 Tim with Both Harps

I particularly liked his Celtic (lever) harp (in the foreground in the above photo), with its very pretty shape and contrasting woods. It’s apparently even more difficult to play than the pedal harp.

I also took this close-up photo because I thought the pattern that the strings and their shadows made was most decorative!

13 Strings of Lever Harp

This week I actually managed to get the accounts done! Whew. That’s a weight off my mind until next month.

So you can see it’s been another pretty busy week. I am trying to cut down on things at the moment because I’ve been far too busy lately, which is probably why I’m back to suffering from more fatigue than usual.

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