Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Strange Day

Today has been a bit of a strange day. I had thought that I would be feeling much better today after having been given the all clear after my hospital appointment yesterday, but it wasn't to be.

It was way past midnight when I got to sleep and I was awake again by about 5am. Then I dozed a little, but not for very long. I was lying in bed reading at 7am and wondering if it was ever going to get light enough for me not to need a light on when I decided that I would switch the light off, have a few more minutes dozing and then get up. When I woke up again more than five hours later, the morning had passed me by and it still wasn't much lighter than it had been at 7am.

I've managed to make myself a sandwich so that I have had something to eat, and I have managed a few rows of my knitting, but otherwise I don't seem to have the energy or the enthusiasm for anything much. Tonight I am going to try to have an early night, and hopefully I will sleep the night through (aided by some medication) and wake up tomorrow feeling a little less depressed.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Intricate Fair Isle For Cheats

Over the years I have had a go at most styles of knitting. There's the traditional plain and purl alternate rows, Aran with its complex cables and and plaits, lace knitting with its lightness and fragility achieved by the judicious insertion of eyelets throughout the work, and Fair Isle where a pattern is achieved by using wools of various colours all in the same row.

Earlier this year I knitted myself a jumper that had the appearance of being a Fair Isle pattern but wasn't; the effect was achieved by clever dying of the wool.It's quite clever but it's not really the real thing. Of course, the benefit is that there is no need to weave the various colours along the back of the knitting so that they are ready for use when stitches of that colour are to be knitted in the pattern. Fair Isle patterns are usually quite complicated and can use five or more different colours to achieve the effect; this means that they are also slow to knit and prone to mistakes which can be difficult to spot when you make them and glaringly obvious if left uncorrected.

I have some more wool like that which I have used for the scarf and mittens that I wrote about here. It's in different shades, and rather than have lots of hats, scarves and mittens that were all the same design, although different in colour, I decided to have a go at a different pattern for the next set of winter accessories that I was to knit.

After several false starts, I have managed to progressed my hat to the stage that the pattern is starting to show rather well. The difficulty is ensuring that the run of colours in the two balls of wool that you use (so it is a bit like traditional Fair Isle knitting) are sufficiently different so that the pattern is not lost through the colours being too similar in hue.
Here is one of the balls that I am using at the moment. The colour is called Autumn Rainbow and it is a mixture of greens, browns and reds; real autumn colours. Because the lengths of each colour in any given ball of wool are different, you can find yourself knitting with two balls of wool but all the stitches appear to be the same colour because of the way the subtle changes in each ball occur. This was what caused me to have to repeatedly unpick what I had done and start again, but I seem to be have got it right this time and my hat is progressing nicely.
Yes, it can be called Fair Isle because it uses more than one ball of wool in each row, but the pattern looks more complex than it actually is because of the clever colour changing in the balls of wool themselves. I'm almost up to the point where I start to decrease to form the crown of the hat, but having measured it I realised that I probably needed to knit another inch to make sure that the hat would be of sufficient length to ensure that it covered my ears, after all I don't want cold ears in winter.

I was working my way through the rows and knew that about four more would get me to the point where I could actually start to decrease when a chance glance at the knitting showed that I had made a mistake. Not one stitch in the wrong colour; that would be easy to correct. I had inadvertently knitted rows 4 and 5 of the six-row pattern twice so I have to unpick two rows. I have unpicked the first one and I'm halfway through the second one, and then I shall get the pattern back on track before I pack it up for the night.

After the hat, it will be mittens to match (I have a free pattern from the yarn's creators that has them both on it) and I have enough wool to make a scarf so I shall create that myself as a simple tube with the pattern on it and then sew up or crochet together the openings at either end to finish it off. It should look rather attractive when the set is completed.

A Sign Of The Times

I went to the hospital this morning for my follow-up appointment with the consultant and to get the results of the biopsy. Things are fine, but the consultant was concerned that the sore area on my nose does not appear to have decreased in size and is still causing me some discomfort even after the removal of the nasty bit. So I was given a prescription for a combination antibiotic/steroid ointment and some dressings to cover the area so that it is not aggravated by my glasses. I'm not quite sure how I am going to apply the dressings though because the offending area is in such an awkward place. Fortunately I have a good supply of the dressings so that if I have the odd problem when I am cutting them to size and shape I needn't worry too much. Said treatment needs to be carried out for three weeks and hopefully by then the soreness will have gone and both sides of my nose will look the same.

As before, I arrived at the department early and having sat down to wait with my book, I was somewhat surprised to be called almost immediately. The consultant arrived almost immediately and I was out of the building 20 minutes before the actual time of my appointment. I have to say that I was really impressed, although today's receptionist was a bit sharp and offish in comparison to the lovely one who was there on my first visit.

The hospital that I attended is the largest in my part of London and is, of course, home of one of the London medical schools. The original hospital building is now at the centre of a mass of more recent additions, although many of them are probably more than 50 years old. The dermatology clinic is located in a separate building opposite the original building and today I walked past the original building on my way to the crossing to the dermatology building. Either side of the main entrance to the original hospital building there are stones marking the foundation of the hospital (by King Edward VII) and its opening (by King George V). But what attracted my attention was a stone on the corner of the building which also had an inscription carved on it.
There can be nothing that indicates how inferior a position in the hospital hierarchy that nurses occupied at the time that the hospital opened than the fact that they had a separate entrance down the side of the building. The window that can be seen on the edge of the photograph is in one of the newest parts of the hospital, the Golden Jubilee Wing (that's the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, not the hospital). Today, such discrimination is not evident.

Oh, what a sign of the times!

Monday, 28 September 2009

The Best Blog About

The best blog about at the moment is Traction Man's Notes From A Hospital Bed. I have been reading it since it was featured on the BBC's website and it details the food that is being served in one particular NHS Hospital at the moment.

One has to say that the majority of the food is appalling, and in no way is it likely to aid the recovery of someone who is ill. But it is possible that the hospital management have rumbled this anonymous blogger, for he is starting to receive meals that do not come off the menu that is served to the rest of the patients.

Traction Man's sense of humour will undoubtedly get him through his long ordeal in hospital, but if his blog can help to focus on the poor standard of hospital food then I hope that he continues to give us a daily run down on what appears on his plate each meal time.

If you haven't seen the blog yet I encourage you to pay a visit. Since featuring on the BBC website, it has been reported in newspapers, radio, and television around the world and now has a truly international readership. Sadly, it seems that hospital food can be just as bad in other countries too.

Well Done NHS

I have my follow-up hospital appointment; it's tomorrow. This time the letter was sent by first class post and arrived last Thursday so I have had plenty of notice about it, unlike my original appointment that I found out about by chance.

Tomorrow I will be getting the results of the biopsy. The wound has healed up nicely and the soreness on my nose has gone completely. This would suggest that my problems are probably over and that I will be discharged tomorrow.

The important part about all of this is that the original referral by my GP was made on 28th August; that was the Friday before the Bank Holiday weekend. So in a little over four weeks, I have been referred to the hospital, seen the consultant (and it was a proper doctor consultant), had the biopsy, had the suture removed, and will be having the follow-up appointment and getting the biopsy results.

I'm very pleased with the service that I have received from the NHS, and all it has cost me is my bus fares.

The End Of Summer

If I needed anything to tell me that summer is definitely over, then this morning is probably that sign. As I start to type this it is 8.45am, and yet it is hardly light enough to do things indoors without having some form of artificial light switched on.

This morning the sky is cloud covered, hence the apparent darkness, and this also means that the temperature is being kept down. I realise that I am going to have to move away from T-shirts and back into jumpers during the day, and at night I will have to make sure that I keep myself under the duvet rather than sleeping on top of it as I have been for several months.

I'm feeling a bit like the sky this morning; as though there is cloud hanging over me and I can't find my way out of the darkness. This has been a long period of depression without much in the way of relief from it. Just the occasional few hours where things have not seemed so desperate, otherwise unremitting despair.

I shall continue to live one day at a time, and hope that I can find my way out of this awful hole, and I shall carry on writing here in the hope that I can use this as therapy to help me survive the darkness.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Customer Service Is Still Alive And Well

I went to the opticians just over a week ago and wrote about the experience here. I was really quite impressed with the friendliness of the staff and their professionalism. The difference between this branch of the national chain and the one I had been to previously was significant.

Because the lenses that I require are non-standard I was told that the glasses would be ready for me on 2nd October and that I could pick them up after 10am on that day, so you can imagine my surprise to receive a phone call from the opticians yesterday. Unfortunately, I was out when the call came but they left a message. Apparently my glasses had arrived, but it was found that the manufacturers had failed to apply the anti-glare coating that I had asked for so they had been sent back post haste with a request that this be dealt with speedily. There were profuse apologies for this and a promise that I would receive another phone call when they were ready for collection.

Businesses in this country get a lot of bad press for their customer service, so it is wonderful to find some people who believe that customer satisfaction is still important. I'm glad that I changed branches, and I would have no hesitation to recommending them to any one else.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Reviving Memories

I have given up watching television because I find that there is little that I really want to watch. However, I do have a large collection of DVDs and I find myself often watching these of an evening. It's a mixture of films and television series; some are recent and some are old.

I try to add a couple of DVDs to my collection each month so that I continue to add variety to what I have to view at any given time, and like the way that I can reread some books regularly because I enjoy them so much, so it is with the DVDs. I won't buy anything that I don't think that I will want to watch a number of times. Obviously I have made the odd mistake and bought something that wasn't as enjoyable as I had hoped, but these purchases have been few and far between.

Recently I purchased the DVDs for the BBC television series Who Pays The Ferryman? This series, which is set on the island of Crete, was made in 1977 and I remember watching it when it was on television, and again when it was repeated. Unfortunately, the BBC haven't released this on DVD so I had to purchase it from Holland; it's in English with Dutch subtitles (which can be turned off, of course) and over the last couple of evenings I have watched all eight episodes.

Not only has it been a joy to watch a series that I enjoyed so much when it was first shown, but with the passing of more than 30 years since I saw it, I had forgotten much of the story so it has almost been like watching it for the first time. Only the music for the series which was written by one of the best known of the Greek composers of that time, Yannis Markopoulos, has remained in my memory all this time, and that is because I have heard it regularly over the last 20 years or so.

One of the sub-plots in the series takes place over the Easter weekend. The Greeks celebrate Easter with reverence, but also with great passion and enjoyment. Watching the DVDs has reminded me of the two Greek Easters that I have been lucky enough to have celebrated, not in Crete as in the series, but in Corfu, the place that is recognized by the Greeks as being the place to go to celebrate Greek Easter.

The first time was more than 20 years ago, when my husband and I made our first visit Corfu. We fell in love with the island and its people and we went there every year after that; it was also the place where my husband died. I still continued to visit Corfu after his death, and decided to go for Greek Easter again in 2004. When my mother died at the end of 2003, I asked my father whether he would like to come to Corfu with me for Greek Easter, so the two of us went there for Easter 2004. Because I knew what to expect this time, I was able to ensure that we were in the right places at the right times to see the spectacle of the processions on the various days and for the fireworks at midnight to mark Christ's resurrection.

It is incredible how clearly those memories returned while watching 'Who Pays The Ferryman?' and listening to its music, which like Zorba's Dance has been added to the repertoire of all Greek musicians and was heard regularly on my trips to Corfu. And what is perhaps more interesting, was how I was able to enjoy those memories with little of the sadness that I usually suffer these days when I think of either my husband or my parents and all the happy times that we had in Corfu.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Now Both Hands Can Be Kept Warm

Yes, this evening I have finished the second mitten, so I now have a pair. And before anybody comments about them not matching colourwise, it's impossible with the wool that I used. So instead of a pair of identical mittens, I have a pair of fraternal mittens.I am about to start work on another hat and matching mittens combination. This time they are going to be in autumn shades and will appear to be in a fair isle pattern although they are actually created by using two balls of the same yarn. I know that sounds silly, but wait and see how they turn out.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Getting Ready For Winter

Autumn is definitely here now. The leaves are changing colour and falling from the trees, its getting colder at night, and the days are noticeably shorter with it being dark much later in the morning and earlier in the evening.

It's my favourite time of year, but it means that winter is on its way, and I'm not so fond of winter. I haven't been feeling very well over the last month or so, but I have still been knitting. At the moment that knitting is in preparation for the winter.

I've finished ascarf and I have knitted half of a pair of


I'm knitting a jumper in the same colourway, but in a thicker wool, and while I won't have enough of the wool used for the scarf and mittens to be able to knit a hat, I am hoping that there will be enough of the thicker wool to be able to complete the set.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Comfort Of The Familiar

A few days ago I wrote about adaptations of books, whether it be for film, television or the theatre. After writing the post I began to think about some of the books that I mentioned and the result has been a desire to read some of them again.

R F Delderfield's A Horseman Riding By trilogy is a story that covers the life of Paul Craddock from 1902 when he is in hospital after being shot in the leg during the Boer War until his death in 1965. It is a monumental story covering a huge part of the 20th Century and relates the impact of the major events of the period on him, his family and the tenants of the farms on the estate in Devon that he buys with part of his inheritance from his father who had died when Paul was critically ill in an English hospital following two botched operations in South Africa after he had been wounded.

As a history of a way of life that existed in this country at that time and how major events like two World Wars changed that way of life, there is probably nothing that can better it. And it doesn't detract from the history by being a fictional account of what happened during that momentous period.

So, having ordered the books from a well-known website and the arrival of two of them yesterday (fortunately one of them was the first volume) I have begun reading Paul Craddock's story again. I first read them after seeing the BBC adaptation of the first volume in the late 1970s, but they were from the library so having read them they had to be returned. Now that I am about to own all three volumes, I will be able to reread them whenever I want.

Reading has been one of the things that has comforted me over the last 11 years. It can be difficult at times, because depression can sometimes make it very difficult to concentrate. But reading something that I am already familiar with does mean that even if I don't always take in what I have been reading, I am familiar enough with the story to not lose out too much.

When you lose the most significant things in your life, the familiar can be life saving; so I shall read whenever I am able to and hope that the writer's skill as a storyteller can help to block out the things that make my life so difficult.

Friday, 18 September 2009

An Arm And A Leg

This morning I went to the opticians. I ought to go every two years but I'm afraid that time has run away with me and it is nearer three and a half years since my last visit but I had noticed a deterioration in my eyesight with my glasses on (I can't see to do anything without them) so I knew that I really shouldn't put it off for much longer.

I went to a branch of the opticians who in their advertising keep telling us that some poor fool should have gone to them, but not the branch that I had been to previously (I wasn't too happy about the staff there). Anyway, I arrived at the branch in another nearby part of London and was greeted by a very nice young lady who asked if she could help me. I explained that I had an appointment, but that I was quite a bit early (I did tell you the other day that I have this thing about getting everywhere early), so she checked the computer, printed off a few labels and then asked me to accompany her into a room for some checks.

Technology has moved on apace since the last time that I visited the optician and after sitting at two separate pieces of apparatus, the first was to get a rough reading on my eyes so as to speed up the actual time spent with the optometrist and the second was to check for glaucoma, my current glasses were taken for checking to see what my previous prescription was and then I was invited to sit in the waiting area for my actual appointment with the optometrist.

I didn't have to wait too long before he came to collect me and after carefully examining each eye and giving them a clean bill of health the real part of the appointment took place. I noticed another change here from previous visits to the optician. No longer was I fitted with a heavy lump of metal that didn't sit on my nose or my ears properly so was very uncomfortable as had been the case for so many years, this time it was a lightweight plastic (?) device which could be altered to fit properly on nose and ears and this made the whole experience so much better.

After what seemed a really short period of time, and a relatively few number of alternative lenses being fitted into the contraption so that the best possible improvement to my vision could be brought about, the optometrist said that I did indeed need a new prescription. So my next port of call was to one of the optical assistants who was going to help me make a decision about what would be the best sort of frames for me bearing in mind that I needed varifocal lenses and not all of today's frames are suitable for them. He was a nice young man with whom I had a very interesting conversation about my handicrafts and my knitting in particular and he asked me if I had a website where I sold the things that I knitted.

It didn't actually take me too long to pick out a couple of pairs of frames that I liked, and that suited my face and colouring. Now was going to be the difficult part of the operation; deciding which ones I liked best. They were both the same price, so that wasn't going to be a key factor, they were neither the cheapest available nor by any means the most expensive, but I liked them both and deciding which I liked best was going to be difficult. It was at this point that the nice young man informed me that I didn't have to make a choice I could have both because the second set of glasses would be free because the frames that I had chosen were in the price range for that particular offer.

One of the problems with varifocal lenses is that they come in various qualities. When I had first required varifocals I was working and my eyes were very important to me because my eyesight was a very important factor in me being able to do my job. In addition, because I also needed to wear my glasses to be able to see to drive, the quality of the lenses was important so that not only could I see things clearly in the distance, but also when I was looking at the instruments and looking in the mirrors. To reduce the necessity to move my head to carry out these actions, I needed high-quality lenses to give the largest area possible that would give me clear vision in all circumstances. This meant that the lenses would be expensive. Having always had high-quality lenses, to ensure that I would be able to see in the same way that I was used to I needed to have lenses of the same quality that I had always had. In addition, I always had an anti-glare coating and reactive lenses so that bright sunlight would not cause me to squint and thus reduce my ability to see. Again factors that increased the price of the glasses.

I don't work anymore, so living on a pension means that buying things like glasses can make a real hole in my funds. This was the first time that I have been to the opticians and worried about how much this was going to cost me. Anyway the sums were done and I received a couple of discounts, a reduction in the price of the eye test and a £20 discount voucher, which meant that I was somewhat surprised to find that my new glasses were actually going to cost me less than I had paid for my last ones.

They still cost me an arm and a leg, but there isn't much that has gone down in price in the last three and a half years. Oh, and I pick them up in two weeks time.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Dropping A Stitch

It was a week ago today that I had the biopsy done on the strange area on my nose and that meant that today was the day for the removal of the single stitch that was put in the wound. One of the things that has constantly amazed me is how fine the suture thread was in comparison to others that I have had in the past, and I have to say that I have a truly impressive scar from an operation some years ago that is more than 6 inches in length and that was held together with blanket stitch and a very neat scar it is too.

Anyway, today I made my way to the surgery to see the practice nurse to have the stitch removed. As with last week, I kept my eyes very firmly closed because the last thing that I needed to see was a blade heading towards my eye. Last week, except for the terrible pain of the local anaesthetic, I didn't feel a thing, but I couldn't say the same about today.

The nurse tried to be as gentle as possible but because the suture was very firmly tied and was in an area where there wasn't much room for manoeuvre, it took several attempts to cut the stitch and the very sharp tip of the blade made contact with my nose several times before she managed to lift the knot with the tweezers, cut the stitch and then gently remove it.

The wound has healed very nicely although the area is still very red and sore, and it may be possible that more work will be needed at my next appointment at the hospital.

Now I just have to wait for the appointment letter to arrive, but bearing in mind that the last letter arrived after my appointment and the mail in London is completely up the creek because of the frequent strikes by the postal workers, I will ring the hospital next week to confirm when my appointment is going to be so that I make sure that I don't miss it.

Monday, 14 September 2009


Life, and my knitting, seem to be very difficult at the moment. Summoning up the energy to get out of bed seems to sap what little life I have left in me. It seems as though I am slowly unravelling and that is what has been happening to my knitting and crochet too.

has become this,and these
are now back to being giant balls of wool.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Adaptations - Are They Better Than The Book?

After having thoroughly enjoyed my night at the theatre watching Phantom of the Opera, I decided to watch the film version of the show this evening. I have watched it many times over the period that I have owned the DVD, although I must admit that I often indulge in some knitting or other handicraft when I watch it because, after all, it is the music that is the most important thing.

This led me to start thinking about the many books that have been turned into plays, television series, musicals, and films. Which are best? The original books or one of the other creations that have derived from it. So I started to compile a list of books that I have read that have also been presented in one or more of the other forms.

Perhaps the first thing that springs to mind is the Harry Potter books. There can be no doubt that these just cried out to be made into films, and the films are very good, but Joanne Rowling is such a good writer and she packed so much into the books, that the books definitely win here.

The next author whose work I am going to look at is R F Delderfield. I have read a number of his books including To Serve Them All My Days, Diana, and the Horseman Riding By trilogy all of which were serialised by the BBC in the 1980s. In the case of the first two books, the television adaptations were good, perhaps even excellent, in that they significantly followed the storyline rather accurately but for logistical reasons some changes were necessary. Perhaps the most significant change, which did impact on the story as it was portrayed on the screen, was in To Serve Them All My Days where the serial had both of David Powlett-Jones' twin daughters die in the car crash that also killed his wife, whilst in the book one of them, Grace, survived. The television production of A Horsemen Riding By concentrated solely on the first of the three books about Paul Craddock, and while a creditable attempt, again it was not able to convey the story to the depth and with the nuances that were present in the written word.

A few years ago I was shopping for some books to take on holiday with me and I managed to get The Phantom of the Opera as a deal with a couple of other books that I wanted to read. I have to say that I was more than a little disappointed in the book and for me the adaptation of it into the musical was the best thing that could have happened. Here we have an adaptation that is better than the original, probably because of the added dimension that is brought to the story by the addition of music.

As you know I also went to see Les Miserables recently. As a result of seeing the show many years ago I decided to get the book and read it. Again I took it on holiday with me; I used to do a lot of reading when I went on my holidays to Corfu. I'm afraid that I found the book dull and very heavy going. I read it all, but it wasn't read while I was on holiday, it had to wait until I was in hospital and needed something to help to while away the hours of the day and night. Obviously the musical does not contain everything that is in the book, but it does cover the main focus of the story and does it exceedingly well. So I would say that the adaptation of Les Miserables into a musical was a brilliant idea, and millions of people around the world seem to agree with me.

The last book that I am going to consider in this look at adaptations to another medium is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Probably the subject of more adaptations for film, television and the stage than any other book, the BBC alone has been responsible for five adaptations over the years. The book will always been seen as a masterpiece, and rightly so, but a masterpiece adaptation has also been created. Most, if not all, books will suffer greatly when a film adaptation is made; it is impossible to tell the story properly in a couple of hours and the most recent film adaptation starring Keira Knightley is just such a case in point. But television adaptations can be different and the 1995 BBC adaptation starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle can bear very close comparison to the book and stands out as a major achievement in the art of creating adaptations.

So, in answer to my original question, I have to say that I think that it depends. Usually the book is best, sometimes the adapted medium produces something that is better than the original, but only because of flaws in the original, and sometimes an adaptation is created that is every bit as great as the original book because of a combination of brilliant scriptwriting and inspired casting.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Almost A Black Eye

This morning I had an appointment with my GP to review the ambulatory blood pressure test that I had a few weeks back. When he greeted me he commented on my hospital appointment and I related the story of only finding out about it by chance, and then the letter giving details of the appointment arriving a couple of hours after I got home after the appointment.

He asked me how long the plaster had to stay on and I said that I had been told that it could come off today so he decided that then would be a good time for its removal; I'm sure that the only reason that he said this was so that he could have a look at the wound. After a quick inspection we got on with the real reason for my appointment this morning.

It seems that I may have started to suffer from 'white coat syndrome' because being hooked up to the monitor for 24 hours showed that for much of the time my blood pressure was normal, or a little below normal, although there were some quite high spikes at times. Anyway it averaged out at 123/84 and he decided that a change in medication was not necessary. I then said that I thought that I was due for a blood test, and on checking my records it turned out that I was right so I now have an appointment for a fasting bloods test in a few days time.

One of the problems of having had the plaster removed from my nose is that my glasses are causing me some problems on the wound. I suppose that this was only to be expected considering where it was, but I need my glasses to see to do just about anything other than walking along the street so I knew that I was going to have some difficulties.

I was first taken to see an optician when I was about five years old. I have no idea why I was taken, but I do vaguely remember going and some aspects of the tests that were carried out. The optician didn't find anything to be worried about so I carried on without glasses until I was about 13. My mother decided that another trip to the optician was required when she found me trying to thread a needle with the thread and needle both being held at arm's length and my still not being able to get either object close to the other. Being somewhat older than I was on my first visit, I could answer the questions posed of me a little better and it was found that I was extremely long sighted; in fact, so long sighted that it would be more usual for someone in their 70s or 80s to have eyesight like mine. So glasses were necessary for me to perform any function near at hand such as reading, knitting and embroidery.

Like many youngsters, and particularly teenage girls, I didn't like wearing glasses and I was constantly being told off for not wearing them, but I continued to go to the optician regularly and invariably a change of prescription was necessary. About six months after my husband died, I went for an appointment and said that one of the things that I had noticed recently was that I was having difficulty reading road signs when I was driving. As a result of this examination it was found that my near sight was starting to become a problem. I was going to need to wear glasses when I was driving but if I had a separate pair for driving the lenses in them would mean that I would no longer be able to read the instruments in the car. The only solution was going to be either bifocals or varifocals. I decided to opt for varifocals and that is what I have had ever since.

One of the problems with wearing varifocals and having a wound on your nose at the exact spot where your glasses should sit is that unlike single vision glasses you cannot slip them down your nose a little. Varifocal lenses are ground so that perfect vision will only be possible when the glasses are positioned correctly in relation to your eyes and this means that at the moment I am having a few problems. I can't wear my glasses in the correct position because of the wound, but without them I am unable to do just about anything, so I have compromised a little and I'm wearing them a little further down my nose than I should and accepting that things are not quite as in focus as normal. Hopefully this state of affairs shouldn't last for too long.

So what about the black eye? Well, I rarely look at myself in the mirror (I generally don't particularly like what I see) but I wanted to have a look at the wound for myself. This proved to be a little difficult because without my glasses everything was out of focus but with them on the wound was not visible. I found a magnifying mirror (I use it when I attempt to put eye make-up on because I can't see otherwise) and tried for a view. Have you ever tried to look at something on the side of your nose with a mirror when your eyes don't actually move round far enough to allow you to see the object you want to examine? I struggled, but all I could see was a huge area of bruising on my nose and extending up towards my eye. It's taking aspirin daily that does it. Bruises are more common and are usually larger than would normally occur and the problem is that they get larger over the first few days rather than receding as would be the norm. My 'almost a black eye' could very well turn out to be the real thing tomorrow so I think that I will steer clear of mirrors for a few days until the bruising starts to dissipate.


About this time last year I wrote a post about the abundance of conkers on the horse chestnut trees in London. I ascribed the heavy crop to the wet summer that we had in 2008 allowing the trees to maintain and nourish their fruit. As I said back then, London is a very green city, and like last year we have had to endure a pretty wet summer this year, so conditions have been very similar for the development of fruit on the trees.

Unlike last year, I now tend to have a camera in my handbag at all times so that I can take photographs as the whim arises. As autumn takes the place of summer, the leaves on the trees are starting to change colour and shrivel and die. This means that yesterday I was able to take a photograph of some of the conkers on one of the horse chestnut trees nearest my home without them being masked by the trees magnificent leaves.Each of the three fruit visible was approximately two inches in diameter, and the one that is in the process of splitting its skin to reveal the shiny conker within shows that the skin is not too thick which means that the conkers will be of a fair size.

Oh yes, autumn can be a beautiful time of year.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A Bit Of A Nose Job

Last night (actually it was the early hours of this morning) I was unable to sleep so I was sitting at the computer drafting a post for this blog (I haven't finished it yet, but will probably do so tonight or tomorrow) when I remembered that I needed to make an appointment to see my GP because the results of my ambulatory blood pressure test were in. So I logged into the website to see if there were any appointments available and while I was there I happened to look at the 'Letters' section of my medical records and saw that a fax had been scanned in relating to my referral under the 'two week rule'. Opening this item I was horrified to see that the hospital appointment was this morning and had I not yet received a letter from the hospital informing me of this fact.

So, it was a change of plans for today and a trip to the hospital to see the consultant dermatologist for him to have a look at the area on my nose that has been causing me so much trouble over the last couple of months. I arrived early (I always do, I am a bit of an early freak) and as luck would have it I was taken into the consulting room at least 20 minutes before my appointment time. I sat there for a couple of minutes and then the consultant arrived with his SHO and he took the usual history; illnesses, medication that I am taking, how long had I been troubled by this strange area on my nose. Then it was onto the examination couch for him to have a look at it under magnification and to prod it and stretch it and generally have a good feel at it.

The diagnosis? Probably a basal cell carcinoma. Then he made a small mark on my nose and told the SHO that he wanted a biopsy taken and that I should go back to see him in three weeks. After that I was escorted to the operating theatre and the biopsy was done. There was the usual briefing about what exactly was going to happen, I was made comfortable on the operating couch, and asked to sign the consent form. This was the first problem. I had taken my glasses off and put them in my handbag before getting on to the couch and now I couldn't see where I needed to sign on the form. So the very nice SHO pointed me in the right direction on the form and I scribbled something that experience tells me was probably a pretty good attempt at my signature.

Then I was covered with some towels to ensure that my clothes would not be covered in blood and told that the local anaesthetic was to be administered. The area where the biopsy was to be taken was very near my left eye and it was suggested that because of the bright lights that would be shining on the area I might like to close my eyes. I was going to do exactly that anyway because there was no way that I was going to watch a needle approaching my eye; I'm afraid that I am not very good when it comes to injections of any sort and local anaesthetics in particular. There is no doubt that this injection was the most painful part of the whole procedure, for after a few minutes the area was completely numb and tests to see whether I could feel anything sharp touching the area showed that the anaesthetic had done its job. The biopsy was taken and then it was a case of trying to stop some of the bleeding sufficiently for a stitch to be inserted. I take aspirin every day because I have an unusual form of angina and this means that it can be quite difficult to stop bleeding sometimes, and today was one of those occasions.

Eventually the flow slowed enough for the stitch to be put in place, with some difficulty because of the strange location of the offending area, some antibiotic gel was placed on the wound and I was finished. There was the offer of a plaster to put on the wound but I declined until I tried to put my glasses on and found that even with the effects of the local anaesthetic still present I could feel that this was not going to be easy. So, the decision was made that a plaster would be necessary, but again because of the position of the wound and its proximity to my eye, some surgery would be necessary on the plaster to enable it to cover the wound but at the same time make sure that it did not affect my eye. Then it was off to the reception desk to hand in the paperwork about my follow-up appointment, the letter for which will be sent to me soon (I hope).

It is now some hours since the procedure was carried out and the effects of the anaesthetic have worn off and the wound is now giving me some pain. I've taken paracetamol for the pain, as instructed, I've made an appointment with the practice nurse to have the stitch removed next Thursday, and I am hoping that I can manage to get some sleep tonight to make up for all that I missed last night.

Because I had not received the letter from the hospital telling me about my appointment, in the normal course of events I would have missed it and been marked as a 'did not attend'. The fact that I have online access to my GP medical records meant that I found out about the appointment in time to be able to attend, so the hospital's time was not wasted in me not turning up and becoming an addition to the statistics of 'no shows'. This means that I will have another example of the benefits of online record access when I give my next presentation.

About an hour and a half after I got back home from the hospital the postman delivered a letter. Yes, you've guessed. It was the letter giving me details of my appointment.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A Night At The Opera

I'm back. I did tell you that I would write about my night out later. My earlier post was written while I ate my breakfast, but it soon became apparent that after a long and enjoyable day yesterday, four hours sleep wasn't enough so I went back to bed to get a few more hours with my head on the pillow. And now I am back.

While we were lunching yesterday I had talked with Mr Smiley about how much I had enjoyed going to see Les Miserables again after a break of many years. I said that I was considering going to see if I could get a discounted ticket for another of my favourite shows and Mr Smiley asked that he be permitted to pay for it.

The management of the West End theatres do not want empty seats in their theatres if they can help it; the consequence of this is that if you want to see a show that day, you will probably be able to get a discounted ticket. If there is more than one of you and you want to sit together, this will probably reduce your options of available seats. However, if you are looking for just one seat, then you will have far more to chose from and may even manage a greater discount because of the difficulty of selling single seats. The first of the ticket sellers that I visited was only offering me a £2 discount on the best ticket that they had on offer (five rows back and to the right of the stage in the Royal Circle) so I gave it a miss as I was sure that I could get a better deal somewhere. And in Leicester Square, I got it. A 25% saving on a ticket for the front row of the stalls, just a couple of seats off the centre of the stage. Definitely a bargain.

And the show was ...
... Phantom of the Opera.

I am sure that even if you have not been to see the show you will be aware that one of the highlights of the show is at the end of the first act when the chandelier comes crashing down from the ceiling of the theatre onto the stage. When the show was first staged, the centre seats of the first five or six rows of the stalls were removed from the theatre so that no-one was sitting directly under the path of the chandelier's 'fall'. Today, there is no such squeamishness, so the centre seats in the first few rows have been reinstated and as I was sitting in Seat 7 (of 20) the chandelier was just inches away from me when it came crashing down. It was exciting, but I knew it was coming; the young American couple sitting beside me in Seats 8 and 9 were not expecting it and therefore it was even more dramatic for them.

It was wonderful to be able to spend a few hours enthralled by the wonderful performances of cast and orchestra. To be so close to them that it was though they were performing just for you. And to be lost in the wonderful music; the thrilling organ music when the chandelier rises to the roof of the theatre during the auction scene at the start, the caterwauling of Carlotta, the gentle songs Christine and Raoul, the aggressive songs of the Phantom, and the amusing songs of Messrs Firmin and Andre. Amazing.

To say that I enjoyed my evening, and consequently my belated birthday, would be an understatement. Many thanks Mr Smiley, I really do appreciate your friendship, and your kindness in giving me this pleasure.

A Belated Birthday Celebration

Yesterday I had my belated birthday lunch with Mr Smiley. We met at our usual meeting spot in Trafalgar Square and walked the short distance to our favourite eating place; a bar tucked up a tiny side street off Whitehall.

After a very grey start to the day, the sun and breeze had cleared the clouds from the sky and London was a hot place to be. We managed to find a table almost underneath an air conditioning unit so as to remain cool. But even though we had deliberately chosen that particular table (and the dining area was almost empty) because of its close proximity to the air conditioning, we were asked at regular intervals whether we would like the air conditioning turned down. Each time we both replied with an emphatic "No, thank you". Drinks and food were swiftly ordered and then we were free to chat. It is several months since Mr Smiley and I have seen each other and even though we email each other regularly, it just isn't the same as being able to have a face to face chat.

The time just flew by and before long it was time for Mr Smiley to head off to his afternoon meeting. But before we parted, Mr Smiley gave me my birthday present, a Waterstone's gift card so that I can indulge my passion for books, and the wherewithal to purchase a theatre ticket.

After we parted, I headed for Leicester Square in search of a discounted ticket for a 'must see' show, and then on to Oxford Street as I needed to visit John Lewis to buy some knitting needles. The heat of the day meant that by the time I had completed my purchase in John Lewis I was hot, and my feet were aching from the pounding on the pavements, so I cheated a little, I took a short ride on the Underground to Charing Cross to make my way back to the hub of London, Trafalgar Square.
Yes, that really is a photograph that I took yesterday. While not as crowded as it might be in the height of summer, or during the lunch period (the photograph was taken at 16.22), the area was still full of tourists. I still had a few hours to kill before going to the theatre so I went in search of somewhere to get a snack, and a cold drink (I wasn't particularly hungry but I knew that I would be a little later and that I would regret it if hunger pangs were to spoil my enjoyment of my night out) and I sat and drafted this post in the notebook that accompanies me everywhere.

So what did I go to see? I'll tell you about that later.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Training My Brain

Yesterday, 'cb' at Fighting Monsters mentioned the brain training experiment that the BBC are running, and being a curious person late yesterday evening I had a look at the relevant pages on the BBC website and decided to join in.

I've decided that I will try to take part in this experiment for as long as possible. Not for me, the training three times a week for six weeks. No, I shall try to stick it out for the year that the experiment runs, and I will try to do the training every day.

I suppose that I have a vested interest in whether this training really does help in keeping the horrors of dementia at bay. I live on my own, I already have mental health problems, and I like to think that I have an active mind and a useful memory. But as I get older I am already finding that my memory is not quite what it was. It takes me longer to put names to faces and vice versa, and the frequency with which I think that I must do something and then forget what it was that I was supposed to be doing is increasing.

I have already been a little surprised at how I have fared at some of the test that I have done. I fully expected anything that involved the manipulation of numbers to be difficult; I have significant problems with numbers and I know that I do. However, that does not seem to have been a particular problem so far, and I have managed to carry out all of the tests (whether they involve numbers or not), except one, with relative ease.

It will be interesting to see whether my scores improve over time; with some of the tests I think that the testing is not so much about training the brain as one's level of manual dexterity. Will the days that I am more depressed make a significant difference to how I score or are there sufficient variety of tests for my 'personal type' to counteract any influence that this may have? The questionnaire that you complete before embarking on the experiment is more in-depth than many that you may come across, and it is significant that mood over the recent past represents a significant proportion of the questions.

I believe that this is a worthwhile piece of research that all of us over the age of 18 who have regular access to a computer and the Internet should take part in. It will be interesting to see the results of the experiment and see if there really is any evidence to show that brain training works.

Monday, 7 September 2009

One Of Those Days

Sometimes, you just have one of those days when you really wish you hadn't woken up. I had trouble getting to sleep last night (probably a combination of the amount of sleep that I had enjoyed over the preceding couple of days and because my mind was so active with all sorts of horrible thoughts and memories whizzing round inside it) so it was about 2am before I finally dropped off.

I woke at 5.30am, managed to drop off back to sleep and then woke again at about 7.30. I felt awful. I needed more sleep, I could hardly keep my eyes open, my hip was causing me pain after I had obviously slept awkwardly, I had a headache, I had a stiff shoulder and all I wanted to do was cry.

What was I to do? I knew that if I went back to sleep I probably wouldn't be able to sleep tonight. But I really didn't want to get out of bed. It was comfortable, it was warm, and it was very grey outside and it looked as though rain was imminent.

Eventually I managed to force myself to get up, I got myself something to eat, I pottered around doing various things but not seeming to really achieve anything. I switched on the computer, checked my emails and then looked at my blog to see who on my blog roll had posted something this morning. And then I saw it. My lovely little cluster map widget had lost all its red dots. I knew that the map had been archived yesterday and that would mean a fresh map today, but after having managed to notch up dots in 65 different countries around the world during the last year, it was sad to see the map disappear and a new one appear with just a few dots covering the UK and the USA. But hopefully tomorrow the dots will have spread a little further around the world because there has been a visitor from Estonia today and another from Iran, as well as the usual visitors from the UK and USA. And who might visit overnight?

Having got over the loss of my red dots, I decided to do some knitting late this afternoon. I continued working on the circular shawl and I now have just seven and a half rows left to do before starting to work on the border. I don't suppose that I will finish those rows tonight as there are 738 stitches to the row and it takes a fair while to make one circuit around the shawl, but I am sure that the rows will be finished tomorrow evening and I will be able to start work on the border.

I'm not feeling quite so desperate now as I was earlier today (perhaps it is because I am going to have lunch with Mr Smiley tomorrow), but I still feel as though I shouldn't have bothered about today. But to be honest there have been quite a few days like that recently and I wish that there weren't.

For me, dealing with depression is about coping with the here and now. If I can get through each day, then I feel as though I have achieved something. I find it best not to think too far ahead because something is bound to crop up and spoil my plans (I only have to look at last week to see that happen), and by managing to live through one day at a time, I don't put too much pressure on myself to do things that will only result in me feeling worse than I already do when I can't cope with them.

I've decided that I am going to try to do a little reading before lying down to sleep tonight. If I am lucky, I will actually drop off to sleep while I am still reading. This happens quite often and I have actually learnt to take my glasses off in my sleep now. And if I get a decent night's sleep, then perhaps tomorrow won't be 'one of those days'.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Diary Of A (Mostly) Bad Week

A Bank Holiday and all that means. Feeling depressed and unable to concentrate on anything for very long. Feeling sorry for myself because another year has gone by and I am getting older and the aches and pains take longer to go away.

My birthday and things start to go wrong almost immediately. Mr Smiley has to cancel our lunch date, the postman doesn't bring me any birthday cards, and then There and Back lets me know that she isn't very well so won't be able to travel up to London for our day out together on Wednesday. All I can do is cry; this wasn't how I wanted my birthday to be.

There and Back may not be able to join me but I still go to the theatre. I walk to the bus stop, a bus arrives within a few minutes and almost immediately after boarding the bus it starts to pour with rain. I arrive at Cambridge Circus and miraculously the rain stops just as I get off the bus. I cross the road to have some lunch (it rains while I am in the restaurant) and then I head for the theatre. It's only a few minutes walk and still more about 45 minutes before the show is due to begin but there is already a queue starting to form outside the theatre.

I join the queue and after a few minutes it starts to move as the doors open and we are admitted. I quickly find my seat, get myself comfortable and look forward to watching my favourite (and the nation's) favourite musical. This is the first time that I have seen it performed at this theatre (Queen's); previously I had seen it several times at the Palace Theatre, and one thing that I notice early on is that the set is different from that which I was used to.

It didn't take me long to fall under its spell and the three hours of the show went by in a flash. As usual the performances were wonderful and the cast received a well-deserved standing ovation. Once the show was over, I put my coat on, gathered up the rest of my belongings and headed out into the street to make my way to the bus stop. I was again lucky with a bus arriving within a few minutes of me arriving at the bus stop and like my journey to the theatre, it was not long before it started to rain. When it was time for me to get off the bus the rain had stopped again and I walked the short distance home. Ten minutes later it started to rain again and continued for the next four hours.

How on earth had I managed to stay dry all day?

Up early as I had to travel into London again, this time to attend a workshop about patients having online access to their pathology data. The workshop had been organised by the Department of Health and most of the attendees were pathologists, although there were a couple of GPs, a number of other doctors, at least one chief executive of a foundation trust and a number of senior people from the Department of Health. I was the only patient present, and while the idea of the workshop was to discuss the possibility of patients having access to their pathology data, my presentation was to show that some of us already have that capability.

Unlike all the other presentations which comprised numerous PowerPoint slides, my presentation used the internet and my medical record to show what can already be done by some patients in this country. The presentation went down well and during lunch I was asked many questions about the system that I was demonstrating and the benefits that I felt it gave me.

I met lots of lovely people at the workshop. I find that doctors are generally a lovely group of people to give presentations to and this group was no different. I met several professors who were very interested in what is already available in General Practice, and the President of one of the Royal Colleges has asked if I would give a presentation to the Royal College in the New Year.

I find this work, although I don't get paid for it, very worthwhile and even though I am a bundle of nerves before each presentation, I find that once I start talking the nerves disappear.

Thursday turned out to be a pretty good day.

I was very tired when I got home on Thursday and it did not take me long to get to sleep and once asleep that was how I wanted to stay. I slept most of Friday morning, had a nap in the afternoon and still managed to go to bed and fall asleep at a relatively early hour. I didn't achieve anything because I just didn't have the energy for it, but catching up with some sleep did make me feel a little better.

Another day pretty much lost to sleep. I did manage to go out and do some food shopping and the walk did me some good. The afternoon and evening was spent half listening to the far off public address system at the Guides' rally at Crystal Palace and when the fireworks started I watched those that rose into the sky from my bedroom window. Having had so much sleep over the last couple of days I had problems dropping off, but eventually I managed it and slept through the night without waking up at all, a fairly unusual event.

I've not been looking forward to today; it is the anniversary of my husband's death. Lots of tears at frequent intervals but I have managed to do a few chores and to do some knitting. My circular shawl is growing and I have only about another 30 rows to do before I start work on the border; work on it will certainly slow down then as I try to manipulate the border on two needles and join that to the shawl which is on another needle.

The 'Print O' The Wave' stitch panels are growing and the shape of the pattern is starting to become clear.
It's not been my best week ever, but I seem to have survived it and hopefully things will start to improve a little now.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Guides' Centenary

Today, Girl Guides around the country are celebrating the centenary of the movement. It started as a result of a group of girls joining a rally held by the Boy Scouts at Crystal Palace and them telling Lord Baden-Powell that they wanted a movement of their own. Baden-Powell, who had originally been against the idea of an organisation for girls, was so impressed by those that attended the rally the he asked his sister Agnes to oversee the foundation of the Girl Guides.

One of the biggest rallies in the country today is again being held at Crystal Palace, and by chance I happen to live just a couple of miles from where the rally is taking place. I haven't been to it, but I can assure you that it sounds as though those attending have been having a great time. I have been able to hear the public address system from time to time and the sound of music and cheering has been a regular feature of the afternoon.

Crystal Palace has been a regular venue for rallies for Girl Guides and I remember attending one there about 40 years or more ago. I happened to be in the right place at the right time at that gathering and was fortunate enough to meet Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, the World Chief Guide. It was an occasion that I remember to this day.

My years as a Brownie, a Guide, a Sea Ranger, and a Guider, taught me a lot about myself and gave me much enjoyment and friendship. I am sure that the same can be said for the girls who are members today. So as they celebrate their first 100 years I hope that the Guide movement will continue to provide these things to the girls of the future for many years to come.

Update. The Guides are finishing their rally with a superb firework display and I have a grandstand view from my bedroom window.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Absolutely Whacked

I was going to sit down this evening and write a couple of posts giving details of what I have been doing over the last couple of days. I promised myself a few weeks ago that I would try and post every day because writing helps me so much when I am depressed. It is a way of focusing my mind without my having to try to take information on board and analyse it or act upon it.

But those posts are going to have to wait until tomorrow now. It has been another long day (partly my fault because I was very late to bed last night even though I knew I had to be up early this morning) and partly because I have been involved in a long day of presentations and discussions about patients having access to their pathology data.

So, I am promising myself an evening of relaxation. I am going to put my feet up and watch a film. I'll probably fall asleep while it is on, but what the heck, tomorrow is a day when I don't have anything planned and if I want to sleep, I can, and if I can't sleep it won't matter because I don't have to do anything that involves me in having to use my brain, or interacting with people, or anything that might be difficult to achieve.

A Quick Update

Just a quick post to say that it was great seeing Les Miserables again after all these years, and strange seeing it in a different theatre. I'll write more about my day (which wasn't quite what it was meant to be) later because today I am off to give a presentation about patients having access to their medical records, and in particular pathology data, to some important people at the Department of Health. There will be lots of professors and doctors there, so nerves are already building.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


I hate birthdays. That is not a comment made because I am a woman and I don't like the fact that I am getting older. I started to hate my birthday when I was 44, which was 11 years ago.

My 44th birthday was the first time that my husband had forgotten about my birthday. He died five days later.

Since then I have had one 'good' birthday (my 50th) which I celebrated in Corfu with a fabulous dinner for myself, my Dad, and my Corfiot friends. I'd also had a small celebration at work a few days before my birthday. There was cake and wine for a few of my friends at work and some of them had decorated my office with balloons and banners before I got into work.

The following year I celebrated my birthday convalescing from emergency surgery. I had been taken to hospital in an ambulance from work on what should have been my last day at work before my summer leave. My trip to Corfu had to be cancelled and I missed out on what would have been my last holiday with my Dad.

Since then I have spent two birthdays in Canada, but last year and this the day has turned out to be one spent on my own. I should have been going out for lunch with Mr Smiley but he has had to cancel because he has to make a presentation for work. I have had a phone call from him, and one from my aunt and Godmother in South Africa, and one from my surrogate Mum in Canada. But because of the way of things, I have only received one birthday card. Mr Smiley was going to give me a card when we met for lunch, but that has now been put in the mail and will probably arrive tomorrow or Thursday. There and Back had already decided that because of the vagaries of the mail that she would give me my birthday card when we meet tomorrow.

So with no celebratory lunch today, I have bought myself a bottle of wine which I am drinking as I write this and I will be having salad for my evening meal. I have decided that I will celebrate my birthday tomorrow instead when I am having a day on the town with There and Back. And with a bit of luck I should be having a belated birthday lunch with Mr Smiley next Tuesday, hospital appointments (both his and mine) permitting.

New Month, New Project

September has arrived, the days are getting shorter, and it is the time of year that I usually start to think about what projects I am going to work on over the winter months. I have lots of wool in my stash, and a number of ongoing projects, but I was feeling particularly down in the dumps yesterday so I decided that I would look for a pattern to start knitting a new shawl.

I've had the wool for a few weeks now and I knew that whatever I used it for it probably needed to be knitted in stocking stitch rather than garter stitch because that is what would show up the colours best. I had though of using some of it to knit a 'Cockle Shell Scarf' but there was too much garter stitch in that, so that was crossed off the list.

A few months ago I purchased a book called Victorian Lace Today and I have been delighted with it. I already have one project underway from its pages, and plans for another (but I haven't got the wool for that yet as it is out of stock at my favourite yarn shop, The Woolly Workshop), but as I leafed through the pages I came across a pattern that I thought would be perfect. It is a large circular shawl that is mainly comprised of faggoting stitches, but which has inserts of a traditional pattern called 'Print O' the Wave' on its outer edges and is then finished off with a fairly simple edging.

Yesterday evening, while watching a film, I decided to start working on this shawl and because the pattern is so simple it is growing very quickly; having started with just 9 stitches at its centre it has now got nearly 300 stitches to each row and is already 18 inches in diameter, without it being blocked (which is the final process when knitting lace and involves wetting the knitting, squeezing out as much of the water as possible and then stretching it to shape and letting it dry).

So that you can see how the shawl is progressing I have taken a few photographs.

The Shawl so Far

A Clear View of the Faggoting

A Close Up

The needles are 4.5mm so the above photograph gives some indication of how fine laceweight wool is.