So another year older, not so sure I’m any the wiser…though maybe learning to knit new stitches should count. It was my birthday on Sunday and where I’d planned an extra long laze in bed, what with the clocks changing and all, I ended up waking really early, crept down the stairs and made a pot of tea and spent a few quiet hours on the sofa knitting…at some point Bernard jumped up along side me and cuddled right up with his paws and head on my knee (he loves the sheepy smell of the Jamieson and Smith wool, and to be fair so do I). As it was a bit chilly I’d got a shawl wrapped round me that I bought from a nice boutique in Norwich about 11 years ago (it’s a Noa Noa one and it’s so soft and drapey and lovely…I should wash it but it smells so familiar and comforting, fancy bottled scens and woodsmoke, incense and me I guess….anyway, Bernard managed to tunnel himself under it as he cuddled along side nudging me right into the corner…I don’t know which of us looked more like a little old granny…him or me.
After a couple of hours I remembered about the clock change, and where I thought I’d got up at 6, I’d in fact got up while the lark was still sleeping….but I really enjoyed those quiet hours while the house was still sleeping, just the soft tinkle of stitch markers on my needles, the slow swooosh (like the quietest corduroy thigh rub) of the wool being pulled out of the ball, the warmness of Bernard half in my lap all purrs and deep rumbles while he sleeps, together mixed in with the scent of the wool. The sheepy scent is so warm and drowsy feeling (not really making me lose my count like the Shetland Heather….though I know that’s just me blaming the wool for my inability to concentrate…)…my knitting is soft and is such a pleasure to keep touching…..when I lift it up to admire my work so far, I can’t help but think of Tom Tit Tot (you may know him as Rumplestiltskin)….it’s like the wool is slowly turning into gold. It helps that my wool is lichen coloured, all mustardy and auld gold, but it’s not hard to see where that story comes from (especially if you’ve ever seen flax whipped and beaten and then spun…if you haven’t then it’s in one of the excellent Ruth Goodman Farm documentaries….I think it’s in the Tudor one…)
I had such a nice birthday, very leisurely and where once I would have wanted to go out, party, be a bit wild, I was more than content to dawdle and potter about at home, do a little knitting, make the sponge for bread, put meringues in the oven (oh my goodness, I’ve been making the nicest meringues…when I was making the ice-cream in the Summer I put the left over egg whites in little bags and popped them into the freezer. Then when I want meringues*, which is a lot of the time as it’s one of the few puddings I can really eat anymore, I just take a bag out of the freezer the night before, that way the whites de-frost and also come to room temp, then it’s just whizz whizz whizz so the whites are fluffed up, add some sugar and cream of tartar, a splash of cider vinegar and then into a cool oven….open the door and you’re greeted by billowy clouds of beautiful meringues, crisp and golden on the outside, all gooey deliciousness inside)…..
The weather was perfect, a little bit nippy but after a wet old Saturday, Sunday was sunshiney and bright, so we went for a good walk over the marshes and common, the cows were out in two different fields which made me happy as I’m a cow cuddler, I love cows (and always say I should have married a farmer…) and happily rub noses and scritch behind ears, pat necks and tell them how beautiful they are…there was a couple of younger cows who stuck their tongues out, hesitantly licking my fingers and then nudging me when I had stopped skritching…one russety flamed coloured fellow (I could have taken him home he was such a darling) was so friendly, he had the palest pink nose with a tongue to match and after he’d licked my fingers and hands, started on my tights so at that point I thought it time to go wander back home as I was getting a bit covered with his runny old nose…..While I’m there fussing and coasing them, the boy stands a good distance away….he’s very wary of farm animals where I love being around them having grown up in the the countryside, not on a farm but I was used to them being in fields near our house….though to be fair if it was a field of geese I’d avoid them like the plague….I don’t really care for them as they properly give me the willies. (I was chased by geese as a little girl until my dad came to the rescue, swinging me way up, high above his head, then sitting me safely down onto his shoulders…my hero.)
Then home for lunch and an afternoon of pots of fancy tea, Miss Marple films (the Margaret Rutherford ones…she’s my Miss Marple of preference…I know she’s very different from how Miss Marple is in the books, but I love her so much, she’s one of my favourite actresses)…knitting and a small box of geranium, lavender and rose cream chocolates within easy reach by my side…..although I’ve not had a tasting for chocolate for ages I still love these delicate floral fondants…there is a lovely Chocolate ship in the Royal Arcade in Norwich, called Digby’s Fine Chocolates…..the ladies there are lovely especially Anne and Jean. A couple of years ago one of my birthday presents was to go there and chose my own chocolates….picking them out one by one…all my favourites and a few chosen for the boy who oddly isn’t a fan of the floral creams….then having them to eat while I spent the weekend sprawled on the sofa, crochet or sewing in hand watching Cagney and Lacey……heaven…..the smell of bread baking in the kitchen and wafts of sheepyness from my knitting mixing together for warm homey happiness.
So a few more wrinkles, certainly there’s a few more grey hairs…at some point I reached the age where dyeing my hair was no longer about colouring my what I look back and think was actually perfectly lovely chestnutty brown hair but at the time I thought the very height of “bor-ing” into exciting blacks and henah reds (I was 15 and couldn’t be told any different)…..but now has become about holding back the grey for another year or so….I don’t really mind them but colouring the grey makes me happy, I don’t do it for anyone else…..and wrinkles….well I don’t think I look like my mum in the slightest, (she’s very petite and I’m more like an old cart horse, tall with what I’m told are “good child bearing hips)….I take after my dad, I’ve got his eyes, his whole colouring really, and I share the same lower face, chin, jaw-line and mouth as one of my younger sisters….which when I looked at an old family photograph, is something we’ve both inherited from my dad’s mum’s mum….we never knew her, she died years before I was born….I wonder if it’s something my Nanny ever thought about when she saw us growing up “well that’s mother’s face….” we also have the same forehead, the same frowns and expression when we’re concentrating….but I have my mum’s wrinkles…just under my cheeks, just up from my mouth…they lay like a soft mist, a veil of cobwebs just past the corners of my mouth, when I smile or laugh I know they’re there, I see them when I look in the mirror and pull faces as I apply make-up or face creams…it’s been odd to see those lines appear a little more pronounced over this Summer…everything else about us is quite different..but wrinkles are a common bond, like a map of footpaths and ley lines showing where and who I’m from…
*I like the Sarah Raven recipe from her Garden Cookbook…perfection everytime.