Anne Pettigrew, married to John, mother of Adam and Ruth, living in Cambridge UK

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Daisy, it's OK, it's over!

Poor Daisy – a portfolio to put together for important professional stuff, and her Bloglines have been full of NaBloPoMo stuff – although I suspect few posts have been as lacking in content as some of mine.

But this is the last day of November. Thank you to everyone for your patience.

And I leave you with a question: how would you make wings for an angel? (A four-year-old angel in a nativity play that is.)

Being a proper Mummy...

... I made buckwheat pancakes for breakfast this morning. And the children were in a good temper (with the odd niggle, but nothing major) for the rest of the day. Now I’ve found the recipe for domestic harmony it’s a shame that we’re out of buckwheat flour.


What I should be doing, and what I want to be doing…

(It’s the back of the Drops Hooded Baby Jacket and I’m finding it utterly charming – what’s not to love about the basket-weave?)

Today's small drama

I went shopping this morning. Then I went to my parents’ for coffee. As I was leaving I realised that I was missing a mitten. So I cycled back to Waitrose, where I found they had it at the customer services desk.

My life rocks!

Totally Trivial.

John keeps ‘helping’ me to find things to say on my blog (this would work even better if I didn’t keep closing the window BEFORE I’ve posted. ahem.)

Today Lovefilm told me that they aren’t sending me Mamma Mia yet, they’re sending Silsila before. This is a Bollywood blockbuster, lasting about 3 hours, in Hindi. I have seen it before, without subtitles (I watched it with friends – we invented our own dialogue) this version has subtitles – it’ll be interesting to find out whether or not we were even a little bit right.

So, to defer further real-life trivia, I give you…

Your result for The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test…

The Prioress

You scored 18% Cardinal, 74% Monk, 56% Lady, and 24% Knight!

You are a moral person and are also highly intellectual. You like your solitude but are also kind and helpful to those around you. Guided by a belief in the goodness of mankind you will likely be christened a saint after your life is over.

You scored high as both the Lady and the Monk. You can try again to get a more precise description of either the Monk or the lady, or you can be happy that you’re an individual.

Take The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test at HelloQuizzy

A busy day

1) Get up and dressed before the children descend on me.
2) Discover Adam is already dressed, and is even wearing socks. Yay Adam.
3) Discover Ruth is still asleep. Gently wake her up and find that she can be coaxed into getting dressed, but only if I pretend that it’s still midnight.
4) The plumber arrives to fix our leaking toilet cistern.
5) I explain our embarrassing stink. I’ve never been a particularly good housekeeper, but this stink is something else – and it keeps moving round the house. Sometimes it’s definitely in the airing cupboard upstairs, other times it’s just as definitely emanating from the dishwasher. He says he’ll investigate it for us.
6) Take the children to school – it’s c..c..c..cold!
7) Get home to find that the plumber is still here, and the water is still off, so I can’t do the washing up. (Bother ;-) )
8) I start weighing out the fruit to make this year’s Christmas cake and leave it to macerate in whisky.
9) The plumber leaves, saying he’ll be back some time after 3pm to replumb the kitchen sink (I don’t want to even start on how badly that had been plumbed in originally) and put a trap in the outlet for the dishwasher, to the lack of which he attributes our stench.
10) I start on my big pile of marking.
11) I cook liver and bacon for my lunch at about 11:30am – the liver needed using today, and I needed to be ready to go out for…
12) going into town to meet John at 12:45 to look at bikes.
13) Spend AGES feeling rather bemused by different bikes and panniers and lights and locks and, and, and, but finally settle on a Raleigh Pioneer Metro LX with various accessories.
14) Head towards home, but then have stroke of genius and drop into work to hand in the paperwork for getting them to buy my bike for me. (It should be processed in a week or so and the bike is already on order, so I should get it by Christmas – yay!)
15) Ride home feeling less and less love for the old bike.
16) Mark two more pieces of work.
17) Post DVD back to LoveFilm – I’ve only got Mamma Mia (yes, I know you know the film, but the site is fun) on top priority, so I’m hoping they send that next.
18) Pick up the children and scurry them back home so I can make a start on dinner before the plumber gets back – oh, and clean the sink.
19) Get Ruth to let the plumber in as I finish cleaning the sink. (ahem).
20) Do some piano with Adam.
21) Finish the big pile of marking (there’s still another couple of big piles to do, but I’m in denial about them.)
22) Make Pan Haggerty for dinner, while trying not to get in the plumber’s way – I’d cunningly washed the potatoes before he arrived – and I’d slowly and carefully washed the necessary pan too. (I’m sure I’ve made it in the oven before, and I’m sure that’s how my mother makes it too, but I could only find stovetop recipes.)
23) Remember the chickens and go and give them kitchen scraps.
24) Eat dinner, drink wine (thus scuppering half-made plans to go out knitting tonight).
You may notice that I started something this morning, and yet there is no reference to finishing it – yup – the Christmas cake was still macerating…
25) Line the cake tin, and break the eggs, leaving the rest of the cake-making in John’s capable hands.
26) Take Ruth up to bed (during which process I’m not exactly sure which of us is supposed to be the Mummy and which is the baby – either way, it seems to entail her wearing my specs).
27) Read another 2 chapters of The Picts and the Martyrs to Adam.
28) Choose pattern for baby due on 10th Dec. (How cute are the Drops babies?)
29) Start knitting. (Yes, I know this is a cue for a photo, but it’s too late. I’ll do one when there’s more than 5 cm o to show.)
30) The airing cupboard is still stinky… :-(

A new bike

It’s time.

My brakes do work, but they require a good deal of ‘anticipation’. (They’re best attribute is their extreme squeakiness – my bell doesn’t work, but I don’t need it – squealing brakes alert people’s attention far better.) And my gears – well – 5, 10 and 15 don’t work at all, and 4, 9 and 14 need extreme nursing to persuade them.

So I’m getting a new one. Or, more accurately, work are going to give me a new one :-) It’s through this scheme.

Happy, happy, happy.

I got plenty of nuttin'

Umm… not doing too well on the NaBloPoMo thing, am I? I’m simply not feeling any inspiration, and end up writing something very lame when I should be going to bed.

So, in the tradition of all who blog with nothing to say – a quiz:

Take the What Fruit Are You? test by Ellen!


Just remembered that I haven’t posted yet today!

Surely there must be something going on in my life? I made a fish pie for dinner tonight – it was delicious, but it took AGES, and I didn’t really need Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall to tell me to use oven gloves to put the hot dish into the oven!

So, what have I got? Oooh – have I ever told you Ruth’s favourite simile? “As fast as a pancake.” (Or on occasion “As quiet as a pancake”.) She’s beginning to run “as fast as the wind”, but she assures me that the wind is just as fast as a pancake.

Maybe you had to be there…

And another thing...

I’ve been interviewed on the Creative Construction blog!

Two more things



It’s late, I should be in bed. BUT I haven’t posted yet.

So, a list:
1) I’m such a sad case that I watched last night’s Newsnight, especially to hear what Jeremy Paxman had to say about John Sargeant leaving Strictly Come Dancing. (I’m guessing that this hasn’t been quite the news-dominating topic elsewhere in the world as it has in the UK – it’s a many-faceted tale of democracy in action… )
2) I spent the afternoon cooking – green chicken biryani, Bengali squash and chickpeas, and Goan fried aubergine.
3) I spun up another skein of the merino/silk (no, I’m not doing a picture – it looks very like the last picture – maybe a bit bigger). Thats four done…
4) I can’t think of a 4.


What I did at school (well, college) today...

I’m about to get mathsy. (It’s my most creative thing so far today… )

On Monday I attempted to prove a result for my double mathematicians. In haste I miscopied an equation from the textbook. In the general scheme of things this wasn’t that important – it didn’t interfere with what I was trying to show. However one student spotted it, and was determined to sort out exactly what had happened. Eventually I conceded defeat (and chocolate – this kind of challenge – followed up with hard work – is exactly what I want).

However, when I got home, it suddenly struck me that maybe I’d been right after all. And I was :-). A quick scribble (yes, on the back of an envelope – this is the ‘written up neatly’ version) and I was happy. I may just have been a little too persistent in reminding them all that I was right…

(click to embiggen and enjoy its full glory).

And now, because you’ve been such good girls and boys – here’s a little treat:

Isn’t that delicious? It’s a merino/silk blend from The Yarn Gallery. (Blogless, but on Ravelry) Cybil kindly invited a pile of us over to her beautiful house for a ‘mutual spinning support’ session on Sunday. And there she treated us with the opportunity to pet all sorts of goodies. Mostly I was happy to coo and sniff and give back, but when I saw her Yarn Gallery tops I was smitten. So I had to buy some for myself – they arrived today.

But I’m not going to touch it until I’ve finished with the stuff I’ve already started. (I did another skein yesterday – 2 down, 8 to go – I hope – I’m very scared that I’m going to run out… )

Two things

First – the dried and twisted yarn from yesterday:

That first skein is about 80 yards of red/brown merino/silky goodness. I’m hoping that if I have enough to spin up 10 or 11 such skeins, then I should be able to make the Climbing Vines Pullover (because I did look at the IK preview – I wish I wouldn’t – I much prefer seeing all the patterns for the first time when the magazine comes through the door – if I’ve already pored over them online it’s nowhere near as exciting).

Oh and, because I’m going to try to do it right this time and spin it all up before I start knitting it so there’s a chance I’ll be consistent with it which means that there’s a danger that every day will be a photo of a very slightly different skein of yarn, here’s another bit of creativity from today – Indian-style cottage pie:

(You can’t see that it’s Indian-style, you’ll just have to believe me about the large quantities of ginger, garlic, garam masala etc which went into it… – it’s from Anjum Anand’s Indian Food Made Easy)


Ugh. Blobbing. Hormones.

Pretty picture:

Handspun merino/silk blend – tops from Winghams – pretty. (Good thing I like it, I’ve got approx 500g to spin up – I’m hoping to get a sweaters-worth out of it… )

Snakes and Ladders

Yesterday (yes, I know – I’m back to being at least a day late – sorry) my parents invited us round for our first meal in their new house. We made something of an occasion of it (I wasn’t allowed to help with the washing up!) and the children were (mostly) great. However there was the potential for a major conflict when Adam wanted to go home just as Ruth found the Snakes and Ladders board.

A compromise was reached (Adam left with John which mean having to go shopping for chicken feed and conduit for the cables for the new speakers with him – bad thing, but was allowed to play on Daddy’s DS – good thing. Meanwhile Ruth and I had a game of Snakes and Ladders before coming home.) Then when we got home we made our own board:

(I’m trying a new tack with this NaBloPoMo thing – I’ll bet that I do at least one creative thing every day, even if it’s only making scrambled eggs. I’m going to try to record at least one such event as part of my daily post. Of course this could all get desperately recursive if I decide that the only creative thing I’ve done is to write the post about the creative thing I’ve done which is the post I’m writing about… )


Adam’s BRIGHT sweater is finished. And it fits (phew!). There was a dicey moment with the neckband (I’d wanted to do a crossover v-neck, but that wouldn’t have gone over his head. This works fine, I’m happy with it.) I wanted to make him a sloppy comfy pullover – I think this fits that, and even better, he loves it :-)

Things I did today

  • I started seaming Adam’s jumper. (I still love mattress stitch.)
  • I went to work early (I usually start at 1:45 on a Friday, but I had a meeting at 11:35 and then another at lunchtime) – the combination of that with Open Evenings (for prospective students to quiz us about the dept – if anyone wants to know the difference between statistics, mechanics and decision maths, I’m your woman) on Wednesday and Thursday could be why I want to crawl under a duvet around now.
  • Persuading my double mathematicians that statistics can be as fascinating/fun/useful/relevant as pure maths is going to be a bit of an uphill struggle.
  • I’ve already been under my duvet once this evening – I read bedtime stories from MY bed for once.
  • I now see why people do lists when they can’t think of anything to write!

Finally on time!

Fifteen years ago today my best friend was doing her best to persuade me to change my plans for the day. Not because she had anything particular against my plans, just that she’d been a bridesmaid twice before and no one had called off the wedding at the last minute, so she was looking for some drama and excitement.

It didn’t work, I stubbornly persisted – it was the right choice :-)
(Oh, and I carried pink roses, and apparently roses are the right flower for the 15th anniversary)

Late again...

I keep posting just a day or two after the event. This year I was going to pass Remembrance Day by – not because I hadn’t been reflecting, but because I didn’t think I had anything to add to what I’ve written before.

But then I read Kathryn’s post, and she expresses it so much better than I could, so failing a Ravelry “agree” button, I direct you to her post.


Last weekend, a few days late to mark our country’s main autumnal festival, when we celebrate the oncoming winter by burning effigies and terrifying the neighbourhood animals, we and our neighbours let off some fireworks. M works as an inventor, which means that he gets access to all sorts of interesting and exciting things, including part of his contribution to the evening – a couple of packs of glowsticks.

It was a stroke of genius – the small children could wave them around and model with them while the big children (aka fathers) could run around seeing how many fireworks they could set off at once before having to beat a hasty retreat.

BRIGHT jumper

So far I’ve knitted two jumpers (sweaters) for Adam. The first one, which he loved, was acrylic in a badly-executed pattern from Drops (in the days before they had English translations, which gave me the freedom to do pretty much whatever I wanted – so I did, badly). The second one was a bit better made, but he found the wool too itchy.

So I’m trying again. I’m again using yarn I bought from Coldspring Mill, but this time it’s mostly Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton, with a little Nature Cotton (Araucania?) for the welts and cuffs etc. Adam does like BRIGHT clothing. Given free rein he will usually head straight for the orange trousers…

This is the second sleeve… if I can get myself off the computer and get on with the knitting it shouldn’t take me much longer…

Yay John!

No, not my John, John Sergeant).

Oh, did you want knitting? Ummm… How’s about I promise you a peek at Adam’s BRIGHT cotton jumper tomorrow?

And still they come...

I know you’ve seen this one before, but I was prompted by seeing it again on Kathryn’s blog

If you want to play too, type your answer to each of the questions below into a Flickr search. Using only the first page, choose your favorite image, then copy and paste each of the URL’s into the mosaic maker (3 columns, 4 rows) –
The questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you attend?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your Flickr name.

So here’s mine:


Forgive me, I’m poorly sick still (hmmm – how does what started off as a cold turn into a spasmy back?), so I’m taking the easy way out today.

I found this on Alison’s blog and Mary’s blog, so thought I’d give it a go:

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 56.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST

“You can choose from regular, instant, or freeze-dried coffee on your supermarket shelf, all of which are also available in a decaffeinated form.”

From The Southern Living Cookbook (I have the 1987 edition.)


Every now and then one or other of our children will announce what they want to do when they grow up. At one point a year or two ago Adam had it all planned out: Builder on Monday, Plumber on Tuesday, Fireman on Wednesday, Policeman on Thursday, out and about on Friday, Doctor on Saturday and… Sunday? Not sure – watch this space. When we asked Ruth, she declared that she wanted to go on an aeroplane. “Do you want to fly the plane yourself?” “No, I want to sit on it.” (Sorry my love, this sounds too much like my game plan – marry a millionaire – I totally messed that one up… ) This particular ambition still stands – it is a matter of great indignation to her that Adam has been on a plane and she hasn’t. (Um, yes, well, technically Adam has been on a plane, but I wasn’t aware that I had conceived at that point, so I’m not sure that he really has any significant memories of it.)

But she now she is a big girl of 4, and has started her formal education. She has also developed a career plan. She wants to be a “doctor of animals – it’s called a ‘vet’ Mummy”.


I teach a fair number of students who dream of studying veterinary medicine. Sometimes it seems that they only choose it because it is the most difficult course to get onto. And many of them are being very unrealistic. It is a matter of some delicacy to guide them through to more achievable ambitions without destroying their confidence.

Still, it’s parents’ evening at their school today – I can ask if they’ll predict her ‘A*’s at A-level...

Cough, splutter, ouch.

I had to come home early from work today. Poorly sick. :-(

So I spent the afternoon curled up on the sofa watching Nureyev’s staging of The Sleeping Beauty by the Paris Opera Ballet. Now we all know the story don’t we, especially us fibre-craft people. King and Queen fail to invite evil fairy to baby’s christening, so evil fairy casts a spell, dooming said baby to pricking her finger on a spindle at her sixteenth birthday party. This will make her die. “Oh no it won’t,” says the Lilac Fairy, “she and everyone else will sleep for 100 years until a handsome prince comes and wakes her up.”

And so it is seen as a comment on dormant sexuality, blah, blah, blah.

Now hang on a minute. What is the king’s response? He bans all spindles from the kingdom. (And apparently all spinning wheels too.) How can this work? Can a country survive for 16 years without being able to produce yarn? What will they wear? Doesn’t every method of fabric production require the use of yarn (unless they are all going to go back to wearing animal skins – and this court is surely much too grand for that!)?

Nope, totally impractical.

So let’s have a look at what Nureyev does shall we?

The Christening is over, sharp pointy objects have been banned, the princess’s 16th birthday approaches. The evil fairy Carabosse appears again, and starts handing out… hang on a minute, what’s that she’s handing out?

Have a closer look:

(apologies for bad photos-from-the-telly)

Those aren’t spindles! That’s knitting that is! (And you can’t see it here, but the dancer on the right is just clutching it, the dancer in the middle waves her pointy sticks around unconvincingly, but I rather think that the dancer on the left was actually knitting – go her!)

Apart from that little detail, it all goes to plan.

Carabosse appears to ruin the sixteenth birthday party, hands over a bunch of flowers containing a knitting needle, the princess falls into a deep sleep, eventually the handsome prince finds her and wakes her up, and they get married and live happily ever after.

I can’t say I approve of the demonising of knitting like this, but I do have to say that at least they could still produce woven fabric…

The things you can do...

I had a student last year who had a birthday coming up. She was discussing what things she’d be able to do – legally buy a drink, marry who she wanted without parental consent… and then stalled, what else? I hadn’t been party to the conversation, but I chipped in suggesting that she would be able to vote. (Yes, she should have been getting on with the maths exercise I’d set, but occasionally it’s OK to cut them some slack.) I wasn’t sure what their reaction would be – would they think ‘Yeah, yeah, bo-RING”, or would they think it ‘worth it’.

They decided that this was the most exciting thing about turning 18. (And they were very embarrassed to have forgotten about it.)

Proud Mother...

(Heh – I started typing in the title for this post and apparently I’ve had previous Proud Mummy moments that I’ve chosen to share with you.)

We went to Wagamama for lunch on Saturday. It’s a bit of a mixed blessing on gluten-free diet – yes, there is a clear list explaining which items are safe to eat, and which can easily be made safe with modifications. Unfortunately for some items the modifications are along the lines of ‘you can have the Wagamama Ramen, but with rice noodles instead of the normal ones, and no chicken, prawns or menma’ – which seems to take some of the point out of having it to me. And there are a lot of exciting-looking things which are completely out of bounds. However it is more than possible to have a delicious meal, and Adam and I decided that I would order a range of things we could eat and we would share. So my main thing was the mandarin and sesame chicken salad (no dressing), and his was the negima yakitori (skewered chicken and spring onion) – no sauce. (For completeness sake I will also declare a bowl of sticky rice and a portion of edamame. Oh, and Ruth had fish with noodles and a dipping sauce and John had… actually I have no idea what he had – something spicy and noodly and definitely not gluten-free, so I rather lost interest – no chance of me stealing a bit… ).

So why am I a proud mother? It’s not easy going out for a meal on a gluten-free diet. Everything needs to be checked, and orders can be misread. It takes the joy out of a meal out when everyone else has finished before your meal has arrived. When Adam’s negima yakitori arrived, they had put sauce on it. The waiter was very nice about taking it away when we explained that we had carefully ordered it without sauce, and that it was necessary because we need it gluten-free. So we waited for the replacement. And waited. And waited. (Well, we both tucked into the mandarin and sesame chicken salad – that was GOOD!) And we waited some more. And while we waited Adam said, “It’s very busy in here, they’re going to make mistakes. It doesn’t matter, they’ll bring us another one.” Our poor waitress kept assuring us that she was onto it, that she was repeatedly checking with the kitchen staff, that her manager was trying to sort it out, that she was really really sorry… When it finally arrived our waitress’s supervisor came to explain that it’s tricky to cook properly, so it does take a while. I repeated Adam’s philosophy on it, and she was clearly very relieved. Obviously not everyone has read Waiter Rant and they were getting some stick from other customers.

Hmmm – this NaBloPoMo thing is going to lead to me writing a lot of drivel about not very much. Feel free to move right along..

Stained glass windows

We’ve stopped going to the local church in Trumpington. The reasons behind this are difficult and painful, but it was time to move on. So we’ve found a new home at Grantchester, the next village along. I don’t know exactly what we expected, but they have given us a very warm welcome and, best of all, there is a role for our children. There are family services once a month (which are some of the best-implemented all age worship I’ve seen) and Godly Play once a month. This is particularly good news as it is the form of Sunday School Adam and Ruth are already familiar with.

(An aside – it’s been far too long since I’ve blogged regularly – I can’t find words.)

Today was a family service, and Adam was asked to prepare a stained glass window to bring to shine a torch through. (Ruth helped with the collection – a job she took extremely seriously and performed very well – even restricting her usual hopping and skipping to a dignified walk back down the chancel (woo-hoo! I just looked that up to check – I’m right – it was the chancel!) after delivering her bowl at the altar.)

So on Friday I decided that all three of us could make stained glass windows. Here are our results:

(No prizes for guessing which one is Ruth’s.)


Oh alright then, I’ll give it a go. Last year I eschewed NaBloPoMo and ended up posting just once in the whole month of November. Hmm. Let’s see if I can do this!

So, let’s give you a pretty picture:

Ruth’s ex-childminder’s daughter had a baby. This is the cardigan I made her.

Pattern: Daisy, no hood and shorter sleeves – there may have been an “Arrgghhh! I don’t have enough yarn!” issue.
Yarn: Cotton/linen/something artificial blend from my mother’s destash. (Trim – handspun merino/silk blend from Wingham’s.)

I do have more, but I’ll save them for other posts…