Tuesday, 28 April 2009

STOP! Hammer Time!

No, nothing to do with 1980's baggy trousers and bad dancing. I only wish it was. The truth is far more terrifying. A craft nightmare, in fact.

A few weeks ago, MrCat's mother lent me a 1970's craft magazine. Just looking at the pictures was a joy. There was all manner of fabulous, beautiful stuff, and also some lunacy, like a crochet bra and pants set. Itch-tastic!

Anyway, there were a few crochet patterns in there so I decided to try one out. I usually opt to downsize things slightly – a smaller hook or thinner wool usually does the trick - and it's just as well I did in this case otherwise the ensuing catastrophe would have been EVEN WORSE THAN IT WAS!

It was an alligator. Here he is, in the magazine, looking quite cute.



Halfway through making his body I began to feel slightly uneasy. By the time I'd sewn the head on and attached the eyes, I realised that I was actually in the process of creating a monster capable of destroying civilization. Small Cat was less dramatic, and far more succinct.

"It is a hammer. With eyes"

(sigh) "It's an alligator. Without limbs"

"Don't put legs on. I want to use him as a hammer".

"No. I can't stop now. It's already used up two balls of wool. I intend to see this project through".


It is at this point that I have to 'fess up. I swore to the Coffee Lady that I would complete the monster COME WHAT MAY and then post up a picture. Well, I lied. I got as far as the back legs and couldn't take anymore. I sewed them on, rather gracelessly it has to be said as I just wanted the nightmare to end. No positioning, no alignment, no nothing. Stab, stab, stab with the needle. I wasn’t even looking at what I was doing, as is obvious from the evidence below.

Basically, I've let myself down, I've lied to another blogger and I've wasted two balls of wool.

bb2 if you grasp him around the bum, you can use his head to secure nails

At least the Small Cat was happy.

"It is a hammer. With legs. It's really horrible - I like it".

"It's disasterous".

"It's like the rubbish toys you used to make when you didn't know what you were doing. Can I have it?"

"Why? In God's name, WHY?"

"Because it's an alligator with hammer superpowers".

"Obviously. Here, take it. Take it from my sight, quickly".


bb3 “Fear my DIY superpower! Rarrr!!!”

Sometimes, you make a cake and it's a soggy, sunken mess. A couple of weeks later, you make the same cake to the same recipe and somehow it’s wonderful. Following this catastrophe, I finished off a squid I'd promised to make for a friend. It turned out exactly as I'd hoped. I'm not sure what lesson I learned from all this, save that alligators might not be my forte.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Careful now…

There is something immensely endearing about the hazard signs used by Cadw on their ancient monuments. I spend more time delighting in these specimens than in actually examining the monument I’ve allegedly paid good groats to visit. Here are some of my favourites;

Hazard One – The Backward Lunge

wales1 aaaaaaaargh!

Really, I have no idea what this person was thinking. Anyone attempting to scramble on those walls deserves everything they’ve got coming, frankly.

Hazard Two – The Osteopath’s Delight

wales2 Oooooooooh!

People who attempt this kind of manouevre have only themselves to blame. I’ve got no sympathy for this kind of slapdash approach to historical tourism. It lets everyone down.

Hazard Three – The Diving Fool


Hurling yourself backwards into a moat is pure exhibitionism, detracts attention from the monument itself and is the kind of arrant tomfoolery one shouldn't have to witness in a public place. I wouldn’t even bother putting a sign up – it just gives these people the attention they crave.


This week I have been mostly not getting any sleep.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

The Irishwoman who went up a hill…and nearly got stuck


Hatterall Hill. We were on that bit where it goes all vertical and dangerous, the bit where no sane person would venture.

We’ve had another lovely, long weekend in Wales, which included a climb up Hatterall Hill (aka THE HILL OF DOOM!). After walking for some miles, the last one being almost entirely uphill, we were very nearly at the ridge. We were promised spectacular views of England on one side of the hill, and the dark, glowering Black mountains of Wales on the other. So when we finally got there (after a particularly exhausting and completely pointless detour which is where everything started to go wrong), I noticed that Wales and England had swapped places. I suggested this to MrCat, but he wasn’t having it, despite all argument to the contrary.

“No, really. England is in the wrong place. It should be on the right, not the left”.

“I don’t think so”.

“No. No really. Look – that is a patchwork of gentle, green fields. That is your stereotypical English landscape. See those whopping great mountains over there, the BLACK ones? That’s definitely Wales. That is not, most definitely NOT, Hereford or Worcester. Actually, I don’t even think this is the ridge path”.


“Let’s carry on, shall we?”

So we carried on. And by now it was 5pm, and we’d been walking for hours. And all of a sudden, we were on the edge of what appeared to be a precipice, with no path, no shelter, and no clue where we were. The wind was so strong it was impossible to breathe. I insisted we go back, MrCat used logic and said all would be well. But it would have meant walking along this tiny little path, clinging on to the side of the hill, as the sun sank lower and lower, with no idea whether it would meet the main path again or not. And if it didn’t, and it was dark by then, it would have been horrible. So I got panicky (MrCat later said he was quite impressed, as my panic translated into walking very fast, and very vigorously, at speed away from the edge of the hill). I wasn’t walking. I was stomping.

bblog1 Shangri-la at the end of a long walk

Half an hour later we were back on the wrong path we’d been on before, but at least it was sheltered. In MrCat’s rucksack we had all we needed to survive a night in the open.

1. A bottle of water
2. A big bag of satsumas
3. A box of fondant fancies which, as every fule no, is vital for outdoor survival.

Five mintues after this, we finally found the Offa’s Dyke ridge path. It was about 2 metres away from where MrCat had decided to take his random, and ill advised, detour through the gorse.

I didn’t say anything. I just gave him “the look”.

The path down Hatterall Hill drops into the grounds of Llanthony Priory, another one of those beautiful monastic ruins so beloved of your blog host. As luck would have it, part of the cellar of the priory has been converted into a teeny little bar, where cold beer can be acquired by shell shocked walkers. It would have been rude not to buy some. It’s what the monks would have wanted.


Llanthony Priory – you can see the entrance to the teeny bar just on the left


This week I have been mostly making an enormo-alligator from a 1970’s pattern book, and reading Seance.