Nath Knits

and should probably be doing something else.


Various and Sundry – Day Just-Over-Seven-Months

Take heart, Canada! Spring will come for you too!

Last day to Say it with Cross-Stitch!  Comment on this post for a chance to win some bespoke cross-stitchy goodness!

Happy last day of February!  It’s been an especially crappy winter for both Canada and the UK.  March, despite its proverbial coming in like a lion, is the beginning of the end.  Hang in there – summer is coming.  We’ll be complaining about the heat in just a few months.


I put my back out today doing burpees.  My knee hurts from an undignified injury I suffered about four years ago so I’ve stopped running.  I feel like I’m about 80 years old.


We’re back to the usual routine this week.  We had a last week off (half-term break for the kids) and had planned a day trip to Cambridge, as well as another country walk.  However, Vorlon was sick and housebound for most of the week, so the walk was canceled and the trip to Cambridge* was postponed to the last Sunday of the break.

We had some friends over for dinner the first weekend – they’d generously offered to take the kids to see the Lego movie with their kids, so I invited them all over for dinner afterwards.  It was nice to cook for a crowd, and to socialise.  I’m slowly making friends at choir and the museum, and Dr. Thingo has found some squash buddies.  Zebula had a friend the other day who was trying to convince her to stay (“What if all your Canada friends could move here too!”) and was invited to a birthday sleepover next weekend.  Vorlon wants to stay for another year so that he can go up the O2 Centre (apparently, you have to be 10.  I said if he saved his allowance for the next 10 years (both for the flight and for the ridiculous entrance fee), he could come back.).  We’re leaving in less than 5 months, and finally starting to feel like we’re making roots.  That’s how it goes, I guess.


Only 311 steps to go!

We ventured out into the city last Saturday – it was a beautiful, sunny day, and Vorlon was feeling better, and we were all pretty antsy.  We wandered around, with no real plan other than for Dr. Thingo to find the plaque marking the location of London’s first coffee shop, and ended up having a nice afternoon.  Included were the aforementioned coffeehouse plaque, Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London, the park at St. Dunston in the East and a failed attempt to go to this park, which I hadn’t seen before, but which the kids had been to with Dr. Thingo and which they assure me is awesome (unfortunately, it was closed).

The Monument, built by Christopher Wren in the 1670s

View from the top. That’s the Tower Bridge, and you can see the Tower of London too.

Kilroy was here, 18th century style.

St. Dunstan in the East. It was bombed out during the Blitz, and has been converted to a park. It’s a beautiful, quiet, meditative spot, so of course we couldn’t be there with the kids for more than 5 minutes…


Please help me identify the following bird and plants.

Spotted in Cambridge

Also spotted in Cambridge. It has bright yellow feet.

Spotted on my street, looks like it should be from another planet.

Spotted on my street, smells fantastic.


I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve started helping out a lady in my choir who has been teaching drama for a long time (she ‘retired’ 8 years ago).  Her area of expertise is in what she calls ‘Reminiscence Theatre’, where you speak with elderly people and encourage them to remember their past, and act it out.  She’s had great results and has done many plays over the years, and has toured them all over Europe.  Topics range from people remembering what their mums did to keep their families running during World War II, to talking about how they found out about sex, to talking about what healthcare was like before the NHS existed.  It’s very interesting.  She still works with the elderly, especially groups with dementia, to encourage them to share their memories.  She feels strongly that, while what she does is by no means a miracle cure, it does draw people out of what must be a  great deal of frustration and isolation, and they keep surprising her by willingly and enthusiastically sharing their memories with her, and acting them out.  She invited me to join in a training session she was holding for filmmakers who are working on the same kind of reminiscence project, both to get a sense for what she does, and to experience it for myself.  I admit that I wasn’t that enthusiastic about going, but accepted anyway (this sabbatical is all about new experiences, right?). I’m not that fond of this kind of forced group activity (icebreaker games at so-called ‘team building’ events make me deeply uncomfortable).  The workshop was this morning and I was surprised to find myself having a very good time.  Her approach feels very natural and unforced.  It was revealing and made me appreciate a little bit more what people with dementia must feel.  She’s also invited me to join her for a session with some patients, and I think I will join her.


I still feel very self-conscious every time I open my mouth to speak.  People are never mean-spirited or dismissive of my accent, but it still feels very conspicuous.  And I still have a hard time with people with particularly heavy South London accents and have to listen very closely.  I don’t know how long I’d have to live here for that to stop being the case.


Public bike pump, next to Cycling Superhighway. I would love to see both of these implemented in KW.

All of February’s pictures are here

* Cambridge will get its own post.  Someday.


Doodling – Day six-and-a-half-months-ish

Good weather for rainbows lately. From Lesnes Abbey

Hello from rainy London.  Because people have been asking: luckily, we haven’t been affected by the terrible weather and flooding in the southwest of England.   It has been rainy (so much rain) and windy, though, but nothing near as bad as what’s happening there.  Hopefully the rain will let up soon so that Somerset and Devon can catch their breath and start repairs.

Ruins of Lesnes Abbey, in Abbey Wood

We’ve taken it easy, tourism-wise, lately.  Just short trips around the city for museums and monuments.  My favourite was Lesnes Abbey (decommissioned by Cardinal Wolsey during Henry VIII’s reign, so that he (the Cardinal) could siphon the money from selling off the land into his new college at Oxford.  Which is topical, because I’m finally getting around to watching the fourth season of The Tudors, which, of course, required me to re-watch the first three seasons again.)

Soggy crocus that would open if it could just be sunny for more than 5 minutes at a time.

I’m in a concert this weekend, so it’ll be a good week of singing (Women of the Blackheath Choir, with the Lambeth Symphony Orchestra.  We’re doing Debussy’s Sirènes and Berlioz’ La mort d’Ophélie, if you want to come.) Speaking of singing, the choir I’m in has a workshop day every year on a Saturday in February.  There are two singing workshops in the afternoon, followed by a potluck dinner and ‘party pieces’.  The point is to branch out a little from the usual classical oratorio stuff.  One workshop was by the leader of a pop choir, which was ok, but the other was by a man who’s been studying and performing Balinese gamelan music for years. It was basically a couple of hours of this (well, a lot slower…).  So much fun!  The evening was good too – several choristers performed short pieces, and, probably coincidentally, none of that was classical either.  And I learned that it’s not only in schools that custard is used as a dessert gravy – just another reason to love this country!

I finished knitting a sweater

Badly in need of blocking. Which will happen if the dampness ever lets up. Did I mention it’s damp?

That’s the Striper Cardigan, by Amy Herzog, and the yarn is Rowan Pure Wool DK and Felted Tweed.  I added bust darts, as usual.  I’ll block it someday.

I’ve been doodling.  Well, knitting doodling.  I’ve accumulated a lot of leftovers, so I decided to make a Sabbatical Leftovers Souvenir Blanket (to replace the Leftovers Afghan of Love that I gave Mr.  Thingo years (and year) ago when he left for Seattle to become Dr. Thingo that is very much looking its age).  I figure knitted up yarn packs up better than a zillion little balls.  I made a template square in garter stitch, and I’ve been doodling while watching the aforementioned Tudors.  Garter stitch is good for this because two rows equals one stitch, so it’s easy to get all geometrical.

Template square

And I spun some.  This is some two-ply, undyed BFL, woolen-ish spun.  I think it’ll become a small-ish this.

Things sound ramp up, tourism-wise, in the spring.  Craig’s been asked to give a talk in Granada in May, so we’re all tagging along.  He’s giving another one in Bath at some point, so we’ll tag along for that too.  He’s also been asked to give one in Germany, but I think we’ll have to miss out on that one, unfortunately.  We’re swapping houses in May with the Orchard family, so we’ll see some Bristol/Cardiff goodness.  I’d like to head down to Dover and Brighton at some point (my Country Walks book has a great 20 km walk that includes a dip in the ocean that the kids are psyched about!).  And we should head up to Salisbury too.  And Cambridge!  And it’s already time to start thinking about getting back home!  I’ve registered the kids for school (at least, I think I have – I need to call the schools today to make sure the packages made it).  I’ve updated my resume after more than a decade of not doing so (hire me!).  I’m looking at my pantry in dismay (time for Eat Down the Pantry 2014!).

Remember to comment on my previous post by March 1 to win the cross-stitched message of your choice!






Halfway Contest – Day Six-months-and-a-bit

Happy Groundhog Day!

Not a groundhog, but the world’s neediest cat, enjoying a rare sunbeam. I’m kind of in love with her, and will miss her when we go.

It’s a sunny day in London, so, six more weeks of winter for us.  Though they don’t have groundhogs here, I don’t think.  I wonder if maybe they should use a badger.  Six more weeks of dampness and rain.  I’d say it was a dumb way to predict the weather, but given how changeable the weather is here, it seems as good a system as any.  Anyway.  Happy halfway mark between the solstice and the equinox!

I promised you this post a week ago.  Sorry about the delay.

So, cross-stitching.  Given my general dislike for hand-sewing, I’m surprised that I like cross-stitch as much as I do.  It’s painting, with thread, for the artistically challenged who like their pictures all pixelly.  Like paint-by-numbers, only less messy, and with the ability to fix your mistakes if you make them.  I got back into it after I discovered Julie’s work through Dr. Thingo*, who asked me to make one for his office.  Then another friend had me make one for his home (scroll down further in the same post).  And I made bookmarks for the kids (even further).  Another friend, while her awesome home office was being built, suggested, half-joking, that I should make her one labeled ‘Carrie’s folly’.  I never took a picture of it, but you can see it in action (as it were) here.  Dr. Thingo requested another one for his office (ever get the feeling that he gets a little stressed out at work?).  This is what we settled on:

Sorry about the wrinkles. But it’s coming back to Canada and getting framed there and will be packed in a suitcase and schlepped around, so there’s no point in ironing it now.

I love the combination of what was intended to be a wedding sampler, with roses and hearts and the initials of the newlyweds and the date of their special day, but with a less than loving message in it.  It tickles my inner 12-year-old (who doesn’t lurk very far beneath the surface, I’ll admit).  Dr. Thingo had initially wanted flames, befitting the message, but I like the irony of this one better.

I love working on these.  I like starting with a blank canvas and slowly seeing the thing take shape.  I have an idea that I’ll make a super-complicated food themed still life for the kitchen someday (haven’t found a pattern I like yet).  Thing is, there’s only so much cross-stitch a person needs in their home so I can’t just keep churning these out.  So…

… do you want one?  Is there a message you’d like cross-stitched?  Do you have a friend who’s currently undergoing medical treatment and you’d like them to know you’re thinking of them (warning, contains profanity)? Want to send a message to your coworkers that you’re not taking any more requests (‘NO’ in big letters on a background of lilies?).  Feeling misanthropic? Or fatalistic?  It doesn’t need to be rude, even.  You could be patriotic.  Or zen.  Or frisky.  Or lovestruck.  Or poetic.  Or all of the above.  Whatever you like.  Leave a comment on this post by March 1, telling me what message you’d like cross-stitched. I’ll pick a name from the list via random number generator and the winner and I will come up with a design together.  I promise to deliver by the end of 2014.  I have no issues with profanity (and be warned, if you are not a fan, that people may put some in the comments), but I reserve the right to veto (ie. no name-calling, hate speech, sexism (in either direction), or love letters for Rob Ford, please).  We can make it work!  Go nuts!

Also, happy Year of the Horse!

* Yes, Dr. Thingo has started a blog,(well, started anew, after abandoning another blog after many years of not posting**) about the adventures of his rocket cup.  Go see!  He made a logo and everything!

** No, it’s not blank.  But the letters have faded to white.  He built in a Stagnometer ™, which slowly faded the text away, to shame himself into posting more often.  As you can see, it was a raging success.  If you really want, you can see the text by highlighting it, or go visit the archives, once you figure out where the link is on the page.