2013 has been a very interesting year. For us, its main event was undoubtedly leaving Edinburgh, and moving out West!
It would perhaps seem to be a massive change, moving from a busy city to a sleepy steading just off the West Highland Way. But I immediately felt at home, and the fact that this change did not seem radical at all, suggests to me how well our new surroundings suit us. I am certainly wading through much more mud and cow shit on my daily walks, and I fear my appearance has grown a wee bit more raggedy and bumpkin-like, but otherwise things go on as usual. With more space. Which is nice.
2013 was a year of new contacts and collaborations.
. . .with the BBC
. . .with Rowan
. . .with Juniper Moon Farm
. . . and, perhaps most excitingly for me, with Gawthorpe Textiles.
I have been exploring texture much more in my design work this year, and have really enjoyed using simple garment shapes to explore the potential of cables and lace.
But, as Autumn turned, I was bitten by the colourwork bug again, and now find myself once more on something of a colour kick.
And perhaps most importantly on a personal post-stroke level, during the latter part of this year, I can say that I have finally begun to feel reasonably “well” on a pretty-much consistent basis. There have been far fewer bouts of debilitating fatigue, and no weird neurological incidents. I spent 6 weeks engaged in the demanding physical task of redecorating our new home with no ill effects, and I can now plan on working a full day, walking Bruce, and performing any necessary household chores: a level of “normal” activity which was completely unimaginable in the years immediately following my stroke. Part of this sensation of wellness is perhaps that I have finally adapted to my post-stroke self, and have a much better awareness of my limits (for example, I still need 10 hours sleep to function normally), but it is also important to point out that, almost four years after the event, I am still seeing significant improvements in my gait and strength on my weak side, as demonstrated in this recent swants leap.
Thankyou all so much for stopping by, for reading and commenting, and for supporting my work in 2013.
Here’s to a grand new year for us all! Slainte and Happy Knitting!
There has been some snow.
Bruce was rumbled, sleeping in Tom’s chair . . .again
And only 5 penguins remain on my advent calendar.
Which reminds me: today is the last day for orders if you’d like a book or kit from my online shop. My postie will hoik the last sack of parcels away tomorrow and I’ll be taking a wee break from packing for a couple of weeks. We are all looking forward to a holiday here – hope you are too!
One of the very great pleasures of living here is that the West Highland Way is on our doorstep. I walk out of our steading, and about a hundred yards up the way is a glorious landscape, at the far edges of which (on a really clear day) Ben Lomond and the Trossachs and the Arrochar Alps are all visible. I walk here every day, and enjoy these walks tremendously. Today I took my camera so you can see it too.
Hiya! It is I, Bruce. A while ago, we lived in a tall stone building in a city where there were lots of cars. Now we live here:
Where there are lots of these:
And a few of these:
One of the many good things about it round here is that there are many Paths and I get to walk on these Paths with Kate and Tom. Sometimes I get to go swimming, and sometimes I leap about in the long grass, smelling interesting animal smells. But wherever we go, there is generally some water and mud for me to get myself nicely lathered up in. Hurrah!
This particular Path is known as West Highland Way and is frequented not only by dogs and cows and deer but by many human walkers. Human walkers can be forgetful, and occasionally they discard their belongings along Path. That is OK though, because I sniff out and find these belongings, and then I make them MINE. Without a doubt, the best of these found belongings is GLOVE.
Now, I first found GLOVE about three weeks ago by Path. Since then I have played with it many times and it is now sodden and chewed and has a delicious bovine odour. GLOVE seems quite robust though: Kate tells me that it is fashioned from acrylic, and is therefore a sort of plastic which refuses to decay. But though GLOVE is indestructible, and now has a very strong smell about it, sometimes I play with it so hard that I actually manage to lose it in the grass. Tom or Kate will insist that GLOVE is finally lost forever, but then, O joy of joys, a few days later I will always find it again, usually in a completely different location. I suspect the cows to have a hand (or hoof) in its unaccountable movements.
Now, there are many fun things to do with GLOVE but probably the most fun to be had is when the humans throw it for you. Kate describes GLOVE as “a vile object” and is sometimes unwilling to join in the game. But, dear friends, let me tell you a good trick I have discovered: If you present Kate with GLOVE often enough, and stare at her for long enough with your most persuasive expression, she will eventually join in.
Once Kate has capitulated, and throws GLOVE for you, you can retrieve and prance with GLOVE until you are exhausted.
F U N!
But, eventually, it is time to leave and – sadly – to leave GLOVE beind, as for some unknown reason, Kate will not allow me to bring GLOVE home.
This is Gate which leads home off West Highland Way.
Right by Gate there is Old Wall.
Kate instructs me to LEAVEIT behind Old Wall. This makes me sad.
But if I don’t LEAVEIT behind Old Wall we don’t go home.
Well, goodbye, fun GLOVE buddy.
Probably the only good thing about leaving GLOVE behind Old Wall is that, unlike losing it in the grass, it is always there next time, and I am always surprised and happy to discover it once again!
See you soon, love Bruce xx
Sometimes things just have to be done. Last year, the Scottish Owl Centre relocated to Polkemmet in West Lothian, a short drive away from Edinburgh. Boasting “one of the largest collections of owls in the world”, how could we not pay a visit?
We met Hudson, the great horned owl.
and this lovely wee feller, a Southern Boobook owl . . .
. . . whose name was . . .
Though I have some issues with creatures in cages, I also appreciate the work of conservation breeding and education that is conducted by organisations like the Scottish Owl Centre. Rod Angus, who lead the o w l demonstration, was really knowledgeable and I felt that amidst the ooohing and aahing we came away having learnt quite a bit about o w l s, their unique behaviours, and the ingenious ways in which they they adapt to their environment.
We saw lots of other beautiful o w l s but I think that this chap – a milky eagle owl – was our confirmed favourite.
Jesus is back. He was discovered at a neighbour’s, lured away by the promise of full Scottish breakfasts, oodles of milk, and a general lack of workmen and disruption. He is looking a bit scraggy, but certainly no thinner . . . We are keeping the wee man inside for a few days and the neighbours have been politely asked to stop feeding him fried eggs and sausages.
But my hopes of a nice, quiet few days were dashed when an idiot joyrider drove a car straight into the side of our campervan, which was parked outside our flat. Happily, no-one was injured, so I can show you what happens when a speeding car hits a stationary campervan.
As well as crushing the chassis on the driver’s side of the van, the force of the impact pushed it backwards into a parked car behind. The damage is significant. After some back-and-forth with our insurers, they are coming to take it away to look at it this morning and I fear that will be the last we ever see of it.
I am terribly upset. For me, that van – which we refer to as the wazzwagon – is so much more than just a vehicle. It has played a crucial part in my recovery and gave me hope at a very bad time. It has enabled me to enjoy the landscapes that I love, and has taken us all over Scotland. It may be that it can be repaired, but I very much fear the insurance company are going to want to write it off. Poor wazzwagon.
Please keep your fingers crossed for it.
We have just returned from a photoshoot. It is a very hot day and Tom couldn’t stop taking photographs of Bruce’s monumental panting tongue. (Don’t worry, he was supplied with plenty of water). In between the hot dog shots, he was photographing my new pattern – a cardigan, which is due for release toward the end of the month. I am very pleased with this design, and couldn’t resist showing you a couple of outtakes from the shoot.
This will be the first of three designs, all inspired by my favourite Edinburgh places. More soon!