Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

Hobbies I will take up in my old age

Got a slight emergency this morning as Danda’s got a gammy elbow so we’re off to A&E to see what’s wrong with it. So I shall just give you a little post today about something I’ve been debating over the past few days – the hobbies I will take up in my old age.

I’ve always played piano. It’s in the family. My mother and grandmother both played. I got lessons from my grandmother for a while. And then from the music teacher in school. I can still play everything I learned from memory. I don’t have a piano now and there’s no space even if I did want one. But when I am older and can give myself over to things of fun and jollity, I will forgo my dining table, my sofa and my television so that I can fit in a grand piano and I shall become the most talented 90 year old piano player the world has ever seen. Just you wait. Perhaps I’ll play piano at the assemblies in the local primary school and they’ll all call me Grandma Laura.

Not really proper gardening actually, as that requires skill and dedication and I shall probably forget what to water and when. Something quite straight forward. Maybe a vegetable patch. Carrots and onions and broad beans and the like. I think tomatoes aren’t too hard but they take over a bit. Anyway, I mainly want things I can either eat, or sit and look at on long summer days.

A regular contributor to Chat magazine
This speaks for itself. I will dedicate myself wholeheartedly to falling in love with inanimate objects, contracting odd diseases and photographing myself doing nothing at all and sending it in.

When I lived in Namibia, the sun would set at 5pm and we had no TV and we had read all the books in the apartment and had run out of evening activities. Lucy had learned to knit years ago so we got some wool and knitting needles and took up knitting. In quite a serious way. In fact, we had so many scarves by the time we left that we had to give them to people as presents because we couldn’t fit them in our bags to take home! I loved getting into The Zone and just knitting the hours away. When I am older and work less or not at all, I would like to take it up again as I will have more time to learn patterns as all I can make is a scarf. I might even make some fingerless gloves!

I used to be a master wordsearcher when I was younger. I never went anywhere without a wordsearch book on me. I could take it up again in my old age and maybe attend the Wordsearching World Championships?! I’d definitely win if I did so maybe I shouldn’t go, you know, give the others a chance.

On the other hand, I might just jack it all in and run off to India, a la The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel….

Nanny Rhino and the Thai green curry

I have been writing my NaNoWriMo for the past ten days and yesterday, when I was telling Danda about it, he was nodding and smiling encouragingly, saying ‘mm’ and ‘yes, dear’ in all the right places. Then, after a few minutes, he waited for a pause, looked at me quizzically and said, “Who’s Nanny Rhino?”

So, in honour of Danda and of Nanny Rhino, I present to you, the story of the homemade Thai green curry, from way back at the beginning of my Nanny Rhino adventure, on the 1st of this month.

(That thing in the bottom left hand corner is her knitting and the more astute among you will have noticed her lovely frilly cardigan. The square by her chin is an old person’s bus pass. Danda would like it to be known that HE drew this picture and he would like to be credited for it when I become a world famous writer.)




Chillies are a subject close to my heart. I have chilli plants in my garden so whenever I cook with it, I feel a little sentimental. If I pick them at different times in their growth, I use them for different things. When they are young and green, I can load them into a mild green curry for flavour and a bit of kick. When they get older and become red, they need treating with more respect, de-seeding to save my head from blowing off, and adding in small quantities to beef chilli.


Although, having said that, I was once trying to impress with dinner. It was the first time I had ever cooked for my brother, a few years ago. I wanted to appear like a grown up. Being the younger sister, I always feel a bit little, no matter how old we both get. I had recently discovered Thai green curry. In fact, it was the second thing I ever cooked when I started cooking properly. You know what I mean, the period in which first really discover food and explore a new world.


I had decided this was the dish to show off with and I would cook it completely from scratch. I was going to make my own curry paste and everything. So I went gaily a-picking in the garden and returned to the kitchen, my basket bursting with large green chillies. Feeling brave, I threw about seven into my food processor, seeds and all and got whizzing. I whizzed in bits and pieces of everything Thai that I could lay my hands on in the kitchen. I think was growing basil at the time and lots of those went in. Lemongrass, peppercorns, lime leaves, shallots, everything. Whizz, whizz, whizz. I took the lid off to check my curry paste progress and caught a whiff of something fabulous-smelling. I put my face over the paste and sniffed deeply.


Therein lay my mistake. I can’t even describe to you what happened next. It felt like my face had been hit with a sledgehammer. Such pain! The section inbetween my nose and top lip stung like a million wasps had attacked me. My eyes watered uncontrollably and I just let my nose run without wiping it. The slightest dab was more pain than I could handle. Even my chin and forehead were on fire.


I sat down at my kitchen table, in shock, blindly trying to continue on with my curry. Time was tight and I didn’t have time for this nonsense. It seemed like something childish and silly, to be having a reaction to a few little chillies. It would surely pass, I thought doubtfully.


It did not pass. For approximately forty minutes, I sat, trying to stay conscious and just about remaining on this side of the calling-the-emergency-services fence.


The rest of the curry passed by in a chilli-intoxicated blur, my brother loved it, ate all the little leftovers and was impressed by my efforts. I jokingly mentioned my near-death experience in passing, something along the lines of, “O, I accidentally smelled the curry paste as I was making it. It was so strong!” I think I came across quite casual and not like the panicked maniac this curry had turned me into.


To this day, I’m not sure whether he knows what I risked to make his dinner.


Ever wondered how to make the complicated dish known as ‘mushrooms on toast’?

I apologise for leaving you all hanging so long but here it is finally, a little catch up with our favourite magazine, Chat.

My first stop off today is on the photo page. I’ve talked about this before, about how people just send photos of themselves or people they know, doing mundane stuff, which is of no interest to anyone else. For example, this week we’ve got a photo of a cat playing with water running from a tap, a picture of someone’s mum smiling and a baby looking surprised. The best one, though, is this one.

The caption says “I love knitting! So much so that I made myself a little band of pirates.” What on earth?! How does her love of KNITTING explain why she’s made herself a load of pirates?! A jumper, perhaps? A scarf? Things which have more use. What use has a grown woman for six knitted pirates? And how does that prove her love of knitting? I’d say it proves two things – 1. Her love of cuddly toys. 2. The lack of excitement in her life.

Talking of toys, there is an amazing letter from a reader on the We Hear You page. It’s from a woman who talks about struggling with not having any children. She has found some comfort in her sufferings though…. “I have been collecting dolls for over 40 years! They’ve really helped me through the hard times.”

One good thing in Chat is a section called Bit On The Side. It’s often got things in like comparing prices and quality of microwave meals, usually Asda comes out on top for a ‘tasty’ looking microwave lasagne or something. Sometimes it has a fashion item. This week there are five pairs of summery wedge sandals. I’m definitely NOT on the wedge sandal bandwagon so that bit disappointed me.

Occasionally there are recipes. This week’s recipe is hilarious. If I tell you what it is, I’m not sure you’d believe me. So here’s a photo to prove it.

Mushrooms on toast! MUSHROOMS! ON TOAST! A ‘recipe’? Is that a recipe? Honestly. The ingredients are (are you ready?) butter, olive oil, mushrooms, bread, salt and pepper, tarragon. O wait! There’s one more I’ve missed. It’s the ‘2tbsp ready-chopped garlic (available in jars from the supermarket).’ God forbid the readers of Chat might be asked to obtain some fresh garlic and actually chop it! No no! Mustn’t do that! Get it pre-chopped. In a jar. From a supermarket. Don’t venture out to a local farmer’s market and get some recently dug up from ground, still a bit muddy. Urgh! Freshness, urgh! No, best to get it in a jar already chopped from Tesco.

The recipe, let’s look at the recipe. I’m not sure I’ll be able to follow it. It already sounds way complicated. Ok, first cook the mushrooms in a pan. Then toast the bread. Then add the garlic to the mushrooms. Then add the tarragon and seasoning. Then put the mushrooms on the toast. I’ll need a lesson on Masterchef before I attempt that one, I think.

Ok, the Blimey, That’s Clever page is great this week. The best by far is this.


The ‘tip’ is, keep some eggshells, draw faces on them and put cress seeds in them. When it grows it looks like hair…. That’s not a tip. It’s just not a tip. It’s nonsense. I have no more to say on this one.

Finally, there’s this tip…


The woman who writes the tip says her granddaughter, Beatrice, found this pouffe comfortable. That’s it. That’s the tip. If you have a baby and a pouffe, put them together….

I know you’ve enjoyed this catch up with Chat. I’m just sorry there was such a long pause between the last catch up and this one. I promise not to leave you hanging for so long next time.

One likes to play croquet, don’t you know?

So we had a croquet match yesterday, us ladies. Yes, a croquet match. On the lawn. Not just any lawn. The Croquet Lawn.


We each chose a ball and had the rules explained to us. My first few shots were played incorrectly so I was obviously messing around at the back of the class when we were having our Croquet Lesson.

Beige stepped up first, a seasoned croquetter and played a beautiful shot through the first hoop.

Yellow went next and played a rubbish shot which just sat next to the hoop.

Black sailed through and on to the next hoop.

Then it was my turn. I crashed straight into Yellow, who was next to the hoop. So I got two extra turns. I took two more turns and crashed into Yellow each time. Bloody Yellow. I got irritated. Yellow became my enemy.

Blue played last and kind of trundled through the hoop, not very spectacularly.

It continued this way for much of the game, Beige sailing effortlessly round and, ultimately, beating us all, and us trying to remember which hoop to aim for next and trying to find our balls in the bushes surrounding the Croquet Lawn.

Apparently you have to go through this hoop first, then this one, then that one then back through this one and that one…. And when you hit someone else’s ball you get an extra turn and when you go through a hoop you get an extra turn and….

When this all started to hurt my brain and us amateurs had been trying to get through the same hoop for hours, we decided it the proper way, with a race around the trees.

Blue and I arrived back within milliseconds of each other, me panting heavily, Blue looking calm and unaffected.

And that’s how it was decided. Blue and I came joint last. The Croquet Queen came first. Black and Yellow came second and third, I don’t remember which way round as I was probably off in the undergrowth, trying to locate my ball….

I’d like to say we all went inside and lunched like ladies and discussed knitting. But that’s not true. We got fish and chips and sat round the TV talking nonsense.

So all in all, a good time was had by everyone. What, what!