Sunday, September 24, 2006

Normal service has been resumed

I came back from France with a dreadful cold. While we were there it was, thankfully, no more than slightly annoying, but since we got back it’s absolutely floored me. For the last couple of weeks it’s taken all the energy I could muster just to make it to work (taking two weeks holiday then immediately being off sick just wasn’t an option!). As a result, life has been work, sleep, with the odd meal thrown in. This is the longest spell I can remember for some years when I haven’t wanted to knit. At all. I haven’t even wanted to think about knitting.

Then yesterday dawned bright and sunny, the cold is at its tail end and the urge to knit returned. Hurrah! I spent yesterday afternoon trawling patterns and thumping the calculator. Last night I cast on.

It’s going to be a top down raglan, collar and cuffs in 2x2 rib, the rest in plain stockinette, but with a cable braid down the front. The “pattern” is a mixture of the Sweater pattern generator, plus bastardising various top down patterns I have knit before, so there’s a slightly hairy “wing and a prayer” element to the knitting ;). I’m using the last of my wonderful Malabrigo merino worsted. I don’t think I have quite enough of this colour to knit the whole thing so plan to add a contrast stripe in the body and arms, along the same lines as I did for the Anniversary sweater. Time will tell how it turns out, but I’m hoping for a snuggly, slouchy, curl up in an armchair on a winter’s day sweater.

As the end of September rolls around it’s time for the bucks’ favourite part of the year – they get to spend some time with the ladies. They’re all revved up and raring to go! I just hope this weather holds for a few more weeks yet. This time last year the goats were pretty much housed full time, and didn’t go out again until the end of April. Just a few extra weeks outside makes such a difference to our workload / feed bills, and I’m sure it’s better for the goats to be out in the fresh air (they don’t actually agree with me on this point. They prefer to be in and waited on hand and foot!).

In spite of the lovely weather I find my mind is turning to all the lovely snuggly winter knits. I seem to have made very little inroad into my stash this year (it seems that every time I use something up I add something!), so I have stacks of yarn for sweaters, gloves, scarves etc. There is also the Sock Yarn Mountain, but for me, knitting socks is a summer activity so that's not going to get any smaller until next year. Maybe I'll manage to whittle away at the rest of the stash over the coming months. The only major obstacle is the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace next month. I'd like to think I'll be able to resist the temptation to go completely mental, but as I'll be meeting up with the Knitty girls, I have my doubts!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

We're back

France was wonderful.

Like us, they had very poor weather in August, but from the day the plane landed (30th August), the sun came out as if to welcome us and it got hotter and hotter.

This trip was not, strictly speaking, a holiday, although it was a wonderful break. It was more of a research trip as we plan to buy a small farm there next year and move over with the goats and sheep. Eddie will live out there full time, while I will split my working week between France and London. Extensive research on the internet, and our own existing knowledge of some areas of the country meant we had narrowed down our choice to the departments of the Midi-Pyrenees – the Gers (our favoured area), the Haute Pyrenees and the Ariege.

However, as when we actually booked the flights the Limousin had still been in the running, we flew into Limoges – some distance from the Midi-Pyrenees! It was still useful to drive through the region though, if only to satisfy ourselves we had been right to discount it.

Our first night was spent in the Lot region here. Richard & Alex were great hosts with a beautiful home. I would thoroughly recommend their B&B.

The next morning we set off for the drive south. A leisurely drive through the French countryside, with stop offs for morning coffee and lunch, and we were really easing ourselves into that wonderful slow rhythm that is life in rural France. We arrived at our destination for the next 4 nights by mid afternoon. Now, in spite of the fact that the owners were exceptionally friendly, the room was clean, and the breakfasts excellent, I’m not providing a link to this B&B, since it was not somewhere I would either return to, or recommend.

The next 4 days were spent simply exploring the region, following our noses really. It sounds a bit dull put like that, but wasn’t at all. When you’re looking at somewhere with a view to possibly living there it’s a bit different. We stopped frequently in pretty market towns to get a feel for a place. Best of all, we got to go see some angoras! In the weeks leading up to the trip, with the help of the wonderful www I managed to locate two angora goat farms in the area we were visiting. I emailed both owners in my schoolgirl French, explaining we raise angoras in the UK, and asking if we could possibly visit them. Amazingly, both emailed back and said yes! Both farms were very interesting to visit – and quite different in their way – but I have to give a big shout out to Olivier & Marielle who really could not have been more generous with their time and hospitality. We arrived at their farm at 11 and after being shown the goats by Olivier and having a really good long chat about farming in France we were invited to stay for lunch. A lovely, simple meal but in the stunning setting of their terrace overlooking the foothills of the Pyrenees. I would also just like to mention that if you click on the above link you’ll be taken to their online shop, where they sell a 77% kid, 23% silk yarn – very much like Rowan KSH – for €6 for 25g (that’s about £4 – compared to what, £6.75 for 25g of KSH?).

Last Sunday we had a “day off” and drove up into the mountains. The drive took us round Lourdes, and then up, up, up to Monglie where we took a cable car up to the summit of the Pic du Midi – the highest point in the Pyrenees. It was a beautiful clear day, and the views both on the drive up, and at the summit were just stunning. Here are some pictures, which unfortunately don’t do justice to the actual views.

Our last 3 days were spent here, and again I cannot recommend this B&B, nor the host, Fran, highly enough. By now the temperature was up into the mid 30s each day so we spent some time exploring the area and some time just lying by the pool.

All in all a wonderful, wonderful trip. It has certainly strengthened our resolve to move out there as soon as we can, and confirmed that the Gers is where we want to be. From here in the UK it’s amazing to think that we will be living somewhere where the summers are long and hot, and the winters short, yet the mountains are just 1.5 hours away and the coast about the same.

We did view a couple of farms for sale on this visit, one of which was very interesting, and we’ll explore it further. That aside, our next scheduled trip will be in January 07, and that will be purely a house hunting trip. I can’t wait.

<< *.* >>
Subscribe with Bloglines