Time for a break

May I interrupt the flow of Knit Crochet Blog Week posts just to do a little catching up, please?

There was A Plan and I have yet to review progress against  the plan. I am in danger of forgetting how the week went if I do not write it down soon.

To keep a long story short: some things went quicker than anticipated, others went more slowly than we expected; some jobs were amalgamated into one day’s work but that was offset by an extended drying period meaning no further work could be carried out for a couple of days.

Part built on day 1
Part built on day 1

Spinning Gill‘s husband helped mine out with the heavy part of the work and we really could not have managed without his assistance. The actual building of the Aga took two days.  The build was completed on the Thursday, ahead of schedule and I cooked on the range that evening.

aga built-3282
Finished on Day 2

Puzzling progress was sporadic due to the other demands on our time but with the able help of Mr and Mrs Trundlebug our team finished the week in 44th place, with 56 points and a total of 16 puzzles solved (of 20). Not too shabby a performance, we think. We did finish ahead of some of the teams who had done all 20 puzzles – which means that we solved the ones that we did early, whilst the score was high.

Puzzling on the ferry into town
Puzzling on the ferry into town

We both enjoyed this set of puzzles more than we have the last several that we have done. We think this may be because we concentrated on them less and had more variety in our week. Perhaps a lesson for future puzzle events.

Part of the demands on our time involved a trip to town on the Tuesday. I had to go for breast screening and Suzie needed a check-up at the vet.  I also fitted in a haircut and a decent lunch. The vet thing went well, though Suzie came home with a new heart medication it was at least one that can be given in her food. The best news was that the fluid on her lungs has dispersed. She’s hanging on in there and we are doing what we can to make it not too unpleasant for her.

There has been  knitting! The project that I started at the beginning of the month made rapid progress for a couple of days. DIY and puzzles got very much in the way and the project rested from the Tuesday, although I did do some knitting on the ferry,  until Monday this week – when I took the shawl to Spinning Group with me.

Knitting on the ferry home from town
Knitting on the ferry home from town

By bedtime on Monday evening I was casting off, but had to leave it part-way done. I completed the cast off on Tuesday evening then sewed in my ends and washed and blocked it yesterday. I have blocking photos but no FO Beauty Shots yet.

On the blocking mats
On the blocking mats

The Aga is wonderful You would never believe to look at it that it was second hand; the refurbishment and conversion job is excellent and it takes really close examination to see signs of age or use.

Full control
Full control

It is taking a little getting used to and is not like any Aga that I have used before. It is weird to be able to control the ring temperature rather than having to slide pans to the other ring to simmer. The Right hand ovens (Roasting and Baking) control is separate from the left hand ovens (Simmering and Warming) control and each hob is controlled individually. Unlike your standard Aga, each ring can be equally hot.

Can we afford to run it? Well, only time will tell. For now I have one ring maintained on a no. 3 setting (of 8) and keep the hot oven at 120°C. This keeps the kitchen gently warmed – we were able to spend half a day puzzling at the kitchen table in complete comfort – and allows both the ring and the oven to be brought up to speed without too much delay when they are required for cooking.

So far the range has been used to warm wine (!); to raise and prove bread dough, then bake a loaf in the La Cloche dome; and I have cooked several meals on the hobs and in the ovens.  The one thing that I have not tried yet is to bake a cake and I plan to do that tomorrow (today is a Fast day). The simmering oven cooked a beautiful dinner at the weekend, when I put beef olives in for four hours and made a wonderful pot roast of them.

The hot oven has bottom heat so tends not to brown the tops of dishes – I need to learn to move them down into the bottom oven for finishing as the heat from the top oven is directed downward to heat the bottom oven, which actually runs a little cooler but with the shelf set high can function as a kind of grill. The Aga is also an effective cat warmer, as Teddy discovered only yesterday – since when it has been hard to unglue him from the top! Safety measures will have to be implemented.

Mr L has ordered an Aga toaster – a ludicrously simple, effective and expensive device. I remember well how wonderful home made bread is when toasted on the Aga hob and I can’t wait for it to arrive. The next thing that we need is a hob top kettle but these can be awfully pricey and we may well have to wait for next month before we can have that.

So – one redundant electric toaster, one redundant electric kettle and one redundant electric slow cooker; abandoning the use of all of these will help to offset some running costs. The oil that we are not using to heat the kitchen, likewise. I hope and trust that all will be well.

One thing’s for sure, there’s nowt left in the coffers now 🙂

Knit Crochet Blog Week has been consuming vast amounts of my time. I have particularly enjoyed the photography, though am massively challenged by a lack of space and overall tidiness.

I did think yesterday that I might have cracked the space and tidiness issues when I went to look at a caravan studio conversion – but I don’t think that is going to come off.  Yes, forget the She Shed – think Her Van instead.

You would not think that in a house the size of ours  there would be space issues, would you? Yet there are. Probably due to the fact that both of us have so many interests – it generates a need for space to place the Necessary Stuff. The fact that we need to use one room as a permanent office space does not help. I wonder if we will rethink that particular space once Mr L is wholly retired.

What else? Oh, yes, I have been asked to help with the forthcoming day visit of a photography group to the island. More on that another time but for now I shall just say that I am really looking forward to it.

I am lagging on the Changing Seasons project but hope to whip up a post for that as soon as the KCBW stuff is finished.

Phew. Sorry, long post but it has been a while and much has been happening.

One last point – I said up ^ there that there was nothing left in our coffers. I would never have thought about it before  but “nothing” is really a relative term and not at all an absolute. I was reminded today of a time when I really had nothing: no cash, no reserves, no hope of any improvement in my financial situation, no help, no support and certainly no need of space in my tied cottage because I possessed very little stuff at all and what I did have was mainly second hand. My husband at that time was an irresponsible spendthrift, an idler and a wastrel. Our daughter had no shoes, though he still found money for the beer that as a diabetic he should not have been drinking.  I went hungry for days or lived on dry toast in order that they both had the food that they needed. I suffered the indignity of going to the DSS to ask for a handout for shoes for my little girl so that we might leave the house – and they refused me any help at all.

That’s having nothing.

What I have now is a temporary hiatus in cash flow and a wholly depleted reserve at this time, a wonderful husband, all the support from him that I could ever wish for, a house of our own (all paid up at last!)  full of more stuff than a body could ever really need (no, you can’t have my yarn stash) – all of this, plus a new-to-me Aga and a warm cat. What more could I ask for. It’s really not the same thing at all and it truly is not nothing. I have the knowledge that financial matters will recover in time.

That’s having hope and having gratitude, not having nothing.

Perspective is important but it is an easy thing to lose at times.

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