Christmas countdown

Hello, hello, how are you doing?

It’s Thursday today and we’re rushing towards Christmas … small daughter breaks up from school this week and my husband is taking some well-deserved time off work.

I don’t know about your working situation, but he’s worked harder than ever since lockdown and needing to be based at home.  My theory is that because many people aren’t commuting at the moment, they are filling their commuting time with work instead of having an extra hour to themselves to have another five minutes under the duvet, or a more leisurely breakfast, or perhaps even do something restful like read a book – I think it probably all started at the beginning of the first lockdown when people felt guilty about taking time for themselves when they felt they should be working and the commute is, after all, part of the working day – and now there’s an extra two hours or more of work generated in the day and nobody can take any time off because it all needs to be done.  Everybody is exhausted from working too hard, from coronavirus restrictions that seem to change daily, and because it’s that’s time of year.  We all need a rest – and it’s OK to have one!

And now I’m going to show you a photo of a cauliflower.

An orange cauliflower on a chopping board, surrounded by kitchen implements

If you’re thinking it looks a bit orange in the photo, that’s because it is orange!  I’ve never seen an orange cauliflower before and said so to the lady at the farm shop, who calmly informed me that last week their cauliflowers were purple.  Purple cauliflowers!!  They’re just different varieties, there’s nothing wrong with them apart from the fact that this particular cauliflower didn’t taste of orange.  What?  You wouldn’t expect it to?!  Well, neither would I really, but I thought it would fun if it did!

There was orange on today’s dog walk too, in the form of the last leaves clinging to the trees, highlighted by the low Winter (or nearly Winter, depending on whether you work on astrological or meterological seasons) sunshine.  We’ve had a lot of rain recently so the brook was pretty high when we crossed the bridge.

A full brook with the water moving quickly underneath a bridge

This route is the new circular walk that we’ve found around the Sankey Valley, and it starts off up a hill that’s quite steep …

A footpath through overhanging trees heading quite steeply uphill

before levelling out and heading out across the fields.


A muddy foothpath through overhanging trees. The sun is shining through the branches

I can’t tell you how lovely it was to see the sunshine after what has felt like weeks of cloudy skies and drizzly rain!  I’m sure it’s not been as long as I think it has, but rain gets you feeling like that, doesn’t it?

A muddy footpath heads towards a signpost. The sun is shining on the trees and the leaves look golden

Yes, the dog was in the bushes again.  Unbeknown to him, he’s on his last few weeks of freedom for rootling for tasty treats in the bushes as he’s got quite a severe skin allergy and we’ve been to see a vet dermatologist who needs him to go on an exclusion diet so that we can try to get to the bottom of it.  Oh dear!  This poor dog, who loves all the food, is going to be devastated that he can’t have anything except his special diet food!

Eva the vet, who’s looking after him, said he has to have a protein source that he’s never had before.  I laughed at this, a lot.  This dog doesn’t turn much down so how on earth were we going to find something that he’s never eaten?!  Well fortunately for us, our dog is not the first to be in this situation so it turns out that there is indeed a dog food that contains a form of protein that he’s never eaten – and I can honestly tell you that he’s definitely never found this in the bushes around Winwick … it’s kangaroo!

We don’t have to start it until January (Eva said she felt he should be able to have his turkey dinner at Christmas!) so I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes.  I’m going to have to buy him a muzzle as well, I think, to stop him minesweeping for nibbles whilst we’re out and I’m a bit worried about that as people might think he’s an aggressive dog when he isn’t at all – if you’ve had to deal with this with your dog, then any advice is very welcome!

Our Christmas decorations are all up now, and I really wish it would stop raining because that doesn’t feel Christmassy at all.  (Apart from the song “I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake where the line goes “They said there’d be snow at Christmas … but instead, it just kept on raining” 🙄 )  However, I live in hope that the temperature will drop enough to give us even just a few flakes of the white stuff … I should be old enough to know better by now but I’m not giving up!

We’ve got more than enough decorations but I bought a new one this year – I couldn’t resist it when I spotted it in Aldi …

A close up of the largest nesting Russian doll. A wise man from the Nativity is painted on it.

It’s a Matryoshka or Russian doll where dolls of increasingly smaller size nest inside each other.  My Mum used to have one with what seemed like an incredible number of dolls inside it, right down to one about the size of my thumb nail; I used to love playing with it when I was little, so when I saw this one painted to represent the Nativity, I couldn’t possibly leave it on the shelf!

A collage of eight photos showing the pictures on the nesting dolls

It’s cleverly done.  The biggest doll is the three kings, each one painted so that they all face out depending on which way you turn it.  Next is Mary and Joseph, with the donkey tucked in behind Joseph.  Then a shepherd with a lamb, an angel and baby Jesus, who looks enormous in this photo because I cropped it so that you could see but forgot that it would get bigger – he’s the tiniest one if you look at the whole set below.

A group of five wooden dolls painted to represent the Nativity

There won’t be anything on at our church for us to go to this year.  My girls are both probably a bit old to be going to the crib service anyway, but we have such a good time watching the little ones, joining in with the story (there are always lots of sound effects for the congregation to make!) and singing along to Little Donkey and a fun song called Come and Join the Celebration which we didn’t know until our Rector came to Winwick (and now, sadly, she’s left), that it’s part of our Christmas Eve tradition and we’ll miss it this year.  There are lots of things that we’re all going to miss, aren’t there, but hopefully that will mean that we’ll all be safe to enjoy them next year instead.

What am I knitting?  My current socks are the ones for the Winter Haven KAL – I mentioned it on Instagram yesterday and someone told me that it’s only 3 weeks away (3 weeks?!) so I’d better get knitting!  I’ve had the pattern tested out (thanks to a lovely lady called Jenny) and it’s currently with my fab tech editor Helen, but I only have one and a half socks finished so I really do need to sit down and knit some more!

I probably shouldn’t have been distracted by this …

A garland of green tinsel wrapped around a wooden stair hand rail and draped with a washing line of miniature Santa clothes, and wrapped in fairy lights

It’s my rather sparse-looking stair garland.  My original plan a few years ago was to fill it out with knitted leaves and ornaments but I only got as far as knitting some green tinsel and buying some more fairy lights – and then I spotted something in a magazine that I just knew I needed to make.

A close up of a small pair of knitted underpants

Father Christmas’s underpants!! (Under crackers, you might say! 🙂 )  They’re a little bit small compared to the size of the rest of the clothes but I don’t care.  This has amused me no end and I am very pleased with my addition to the garland.  One year, I’ll make something else too!  In case you’re looking for the pattern, it came from Simply Knitting magazine issue 204.

Finally, I’d like to show you this photo that I shared on Instagram yesterday …

A stack of four pairs of socks in shades of blue and green

“57 channels (and nothin’ on)” …

It’s the title of a Bruce Springsteen song and I regularly sing it to my husband as he flicks from channel to channel on the TV in search of something that we can both watch (ie, nothing involving death and destruction which seems to be all that appears on his “watch next” list! 🙂 ) and it always makes us laugh.

But what’s that got to do with socks, you might ask?  And indeed, it’s a very good question … and the answer is that next year, on Wednesday 6 January 2021 at 12pm to be precise, I am going to be on one of those TV channels on an episode of Yarn Lane TV!

Woohoo!  No, I haven’t been on TV before and yes, I am rather apprehensive!  But I’ll be taking my socks and talking to lovely host Rebecca about socks and I’ll be surrounded by yarn and socks and more yarn and as nervous as I might be, it’s going to be super-exciting as well!  I love seeing how things work behind the scenes so I’m sure I’m going to find it all fascinating, and Rebecca has promised me that I’ll soon forget that the cameras are there …

I’ll be taking three out of the four pairs of socks that you can see in the photo which Yarn Lane TV have put together as a selection of kits so there’ll be patterns and the yarn available if you are looking for something new to knit (and I believe there’s a Winter Haven KAL coming up at the end of that week … 😉 ), and I’ll be talking about those and sock knitting in general, and if you’ve ever wondered whether I can turn any conversation into one about socks (I REALLY can!) then this is your chance to find out!

Got any top tips for being on TV?  Do let me know!

Ha!  I bet you weren’t expecting that on a Thursday! 🙂   I’m still quite stunned by it all myself, given that I like to be on the unseen side of the camera, but I’m sure it’ll all be good fun when I get there – and I’m hoping there’ll be plenty for me to talk to you about afterwards too!

A week and a day to go before Christmas Day … stay safe, warm and well, and I’ll speak to you again soon! xx

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9 Responses

  1. Attic24 says:

    Love the Tighty-Whities!!! might be a bit of chafing for the big guy, they do look especially small!!!

  2. lilysgrannie says:

    Our local Trader Joe's had those same orange and deep pink cauliflowers a few weeks ago. I also tried the orange one and it tasted just like the white ones.

    My comments on special diets for dogs: In the last few years of his life our daughter's dog came to live with us. His specialized care was just too much for her with three young children. Potter had several digestive problems and hot spots on his skin and our vet put him on Royal Canine special dog food. It was super expensive and could only be purchased through the vet. I don't think it contained kangaroo but had very few ingredients and no fillers. It did help him but he wouldn't eat it! I hit upon sautéing ground turkey, liberally sprinkled with garlic powder (an appetite stimulant) and after sprinkling it over the Royal Canine, he ate it up. I sautéed ground turkey for the last three years of his life. I didn't want to prepare it again for years after he passed. He lived a good life for 16 years. He was also a silent grazer eating odd things he would find in the garden or on walks which ultimately led to his demise after ingesting sand from our garden. Good luck with your dog and happy holidays.

  3. Helen says:

    About your dog and the muzzle, maybe 'pin' a note on it saying something like. "I'm not a bad dog, I just want to eat everything I find." "I'm friendly, just like my treats too much." "Muzzle of shame for eating." Good luck.

  4. happy hooker says:

    Poor doggy, diets are no fun when you enjoy your food! As for the TV stardom – WOW! I'm sure your nerves will disappear as soon as you start talking about socks. After all, you've started so many people off on their sock-making journeys. Wishing you and yours a very happy and safe Christmas, and hoping for a happier New Year for everyone. xxx

  5. Irene says:

    Love the pictures. We just had 18 in. Of snow to shovel and 0. Temps in New York. Was thinking of you loving the snow. Merry Christmas .

  6. selina says:

    WOW! on t.v. that's totally awesome! well done you! i think it's great, you have helped many get over their fear of sock knitting (including me) it's a wonderful past time to have.
    those socks look amazing, can't wait to see the patterns
    i have almost finished my Hermione Everyday socks, even with other patterns i still refer back to yours for subtle things like the gusset & toe shaping as you write it so simple. it takes me much longer to knit socks now but i persevere
    looking forward to the winter kal too

    had a dog with a bad skin irritation, couldn't eat anything commercially made, so went over to raw foods with her, she did much better on it & her irritation cleared up though she was left with some nasty scarring down her legs; she looked much better on the raw foods too; perhaps you could put flags of colour on the muzzle? green for friendly? or something… good luck

    hope you have a lovely xmas & a better new year

    thanx for sharing

  7. Lyanne says:

    I've seen quite a few dogs with harnesses on with 1 big clear word – such as 'friendly' or 'nervous'. That might help? We got a muzzle for our dog (Elder Son's dog!) as he was trying to eat any rubbish he found, and there were quite a few chicken bones just thrown down along the road.

    He's nervous around noisy dogs – he's a rescue dog, so we don't know what's happened to him in the past, but my son walking him on the lead one day when someone went past with 2 yorkies on long flexie leads that attacked him! (This was before he had the muzzle.) So, if people pull in their yappy dogs when they see his muzzle, it's not a problem!

    But I usually say "He's friendly, he just likes to eat too much /rubbish".

  8. Lenore says:

    Hi Christine, catching up with your blog at last. I had to giggle when I read the protein was kangaroo. I have plenty hopping around the hill but the logistics of getting them to you may be difficult 😆😆. Trev and I, when we first married, shot kangaroos for dog meat to supplement our income on our property. Not my favourite pastime. Love Santa’s undies. Hope you had abreast Christmas. Xx

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