I miss sharing my current book and knitting progress on a Wednesday. It gave me that extra encouragement to do more. I’d like to carry on, but this time, I think, I’ll include progress in other long term craft projects, or even just life in general. Life doesn’t always serve up enough time in the week to add many knitted rows, or enough awake moments to read another chapter. Some weeks I want to sew or even grow something instead.
Here I go.
I’m going to kick off with my latest book. I have finished it. A few weeks ago, Briony shared a book she had been reading. From her description, I knew I’d like it, so I ordered a copy. The day The Blackout arrived, we had a power cut for a few hours in the evening (again), so I approached this book with even more interest.
The book starts as the electricity begins to go off all over Europe, but no-one knows why. The grid is interlinked across countries. As one area loses power, there is a ripple effect across all countries. Chaos. Traffic lights stop working and cars crash. Hospitals try to cope with more casualties, without the help of power. No water. No sanitation. No power to pump petrol from the underground tanks. Soon everything grinds to a halt. No food or medicine. People start to die.
I thought it was interesting how people went from helping each other, even strangers, to looking out for themselves. As resources diminished there were still pockets of support, such as a soup kitchen and the government departments in some countries struggling on, but there were plenty more that chose to wield a gun instead and seize power.
The failed attempts to bring the electricity back on line were interesting. There were parts in the plot that had holes (what really? You really didn’t think of that? Where are your procedures?), but some of those were necessary to make the story.
It made me think. How would I survive? Water would be our main problem. Over time, I think we’d have the skills and knowledge to survive as a family. I remember reading years ago, that if such a major permanent change happened, such as no electricity, it would be those that stuck together as a community, and shared skills, that would survive. I think that’s true. They advocated building communities in readiness, which seemed to be taking it a little far. I’d hate to eat my words on that one.
The book made me realise how much people rely on electricity. An eye opener. If you read this book, be prepared to add candles and extra canned food to your next shopping list. Maybe water too and a generator.
Thought I’d include the children’s books too. They’ve all read lots this holiday and the pile of read books is even bigger.
Nine year old has resumed ploughing through the Harry Potter series, he’s on number 5.
Twelve year old was desperate to read something less depressing, so I suggested the Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. One of my favourite books when I was her age. She loves it. I can’t remember the last time I saw her so engrossed in a book. There was a film based on the story, but the book is a million miles better than the film. In the sense that the book may once have been in the same room as the script writers.
Fourteen year old is flying through books. She’s finished this one now. Her sixth book this holiday. She is enjoying the uninterrupted time to read.
Last but by no means least, our bed time story book. We popped into the Oxfam bookshop today and picked up a copy of More About Paddington. I’ll be reading a chapter a night to the Youngest, before bed. Often the others will quietly turn up to listen too. There is something rather lovely about having a book read to you, last thing in the day. Especially such delightful stories.
No knitting progress. I’ve been working on my Dear Daughter quilt. Two more squares finished. They are waiting for letters to go with them, which in turn, is waiting for me to be inspired. Sometimes thinking of the right subject, that meets the Teens approval, can be challenging. I’m sure I’ll think of something. In the meantime, I’m on my third square, with three more to go and I’m finished.
In the kitchen
With the children on holiday, my role as chief chef has been called into play more. My usual lunch of grabbing a cheese and pickle toastie is not always enough for my growing brood. I’ve been making fruit muffins each afternoon and chopping up fruit to keep in the fridge, ready for the “I’m hungry” cry.
Another big hit is so simple. It’s an old favourite that tends to be forgotten during the colder months when the ingredients are out of season. I chop up tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and red onions, then top with parsley and fennel from the garden. The children love it. Even enough to discuss whether it would make a suitable breakfast.
The difference is the use of herbs. If I add chopped chives to the top of a dish of boiled potatoes, they disappear in a flash. Without chives, I can guarantee I’ll have left overs.
This summer, my herb collection is going to get a lot more care and attention.
In the garden
I’ve been busy potting up sweetcorn and cabbages. If all goes well, we should have enough sweetcorn for plenty of meals in the garden, and some left over to freeze. Cabbage is a more distant ambition. They will be helping to add fresh food over the hungry months, after Christmas, when not much else is in season. This is planning ahead. It feels way ahead.
A generous slice of life.
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We had a weekend around the house. I cleared the remains of the sweetcorn and cucumbers. Harvested tomatoes and seeds. Counted pumpkins, as you do. There was homework and decorating. Meals to make and eat. Piles of washing to move from one place to another, until it reached the right bedroom clean.
It was a getting things done weekend.
One person needed to bake. So she did. She wanted to make a pumpkin cake. An orange coloured cake with a face. I suggested an apple cake, as I eyed the growing mountains of windfalls around the kitchen. So she did.
First apple cake of the season. It feels like autumn now.
How about you? Good weekend?
Here I am, at the end week of May. It’s been a good month on the whole. I’ve woken up each day with a smile.
Not that its been all plain sailing. My husband is off at one of those family events today, where they either say “Haven’t you grown” or “It’s a shame we don’t meet up on happy occasions too.”
I’ve made good progress in the garden. Most seedlings are in the right place. I’m waging war on the weeds. The jury’s still out on which of us is winning, but I’m hopeful. The garden is showing lots of promise, which just makes me smile.
We try to attract the wildlife. Gradually more and more native trees are being planted and wild areas are becoming more diverse. It is working.
We have a colony of about 80 pipistrelle bats that each May/June use our roof space as a maternity roost. It really is quite a sight. Each morning, I wake to their return. At the moment it is about 4:30am. Lots of social chit-chat. Sometimes I drag myself outside to watch them. Fortunately, I’m the only one who they wake up.
This morning, I watched a group of birds dive bombing a weasel who was raiding a nest of mice under our garden path. It never ceases to amaze me how all the creatures band together to see a predator off. To no avail this time. He/She made several visits. Each time successful. There are no supermarkets in the wild.
Out of my son’s bedroom window, he can watch the sparrows making their nests in our neighbour’s roof. There is one above my son’s bedroom too. They’re very noisy especially at dusk, when he goes to bed. At first, it annoyed him. Then I suggested that he thought of the noise as their version of a lullaby. It worked. He learnt to fall asleep listening to their chirps.
In return he’s been helping the sparrows by putting the dogs’ fur in the fig tree, after we brush them. I’ve given him my left over fleece from felting. The birds reward him, by collecting it every morning and taking it up to the roofs. I can’t think of a more wonderful way to connect with nature. (Although I can’t help thinking it’s a very inefficient way to insulate our roof!) Still, it does bring a smile.
There have also been more encounters with nature, which have been truly magical. I’ll share more photos of this one soon.
My new recycled potting shed, makes me smile every time I look out into the garden. I love how the hawthorn behind it, seems to have accepted it and started to frame the shed. The May blossom is a perfect contrast to the blue and green.
May has been a good month to kickstart my summer sewing. I love all the summery prints. I found the perfect buttons for my daughter’s new top with its retro print.
Next fabric is drying on the line, as I write. I like to preshrink it before I start cutting out. It’s been a good month for drying washing on the line, in general, which always gives me that happy feeling.
So much to be grateful for. I’ll be sorry to see May go, with all its promise and vibrant green growth. I hope June brings just as much to smile at. A good word for the month, let alone week.