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Flamborough (Carol Walkington): Week 7 – 4 October

King Theoden sits in his battered old Ford Cortina, queuing for diesel at his local petrol station. There are, he estimates, about a dozen cars ahead of him. More than half the pumps are coned off for lack of fuel. He has advanced perhaps ten yards in the last half hour, and now the man at the head of the queue has disappeared into the shop and appears to be looking at donuts. Theoden sighs wearily, and begins softly to recite: “Where now the car and the driver? Where is the horn angrily tooting? They have passed like bugs on the windscreen. The tanker has headed north up the M6 into shadow, or, as I prefer to think of it, Manchester. How did it come to this?” And in the passenger seat Aragorn shrugs and says, “Don’t blame me, I voted Remain.”

The Sinclair Aisle of St Fergus’, Wick

Yes, we’re back in Caithness after our well-earned break, and are duly offering thanks to any gods which happen to be listening. You see, Northamptonshire and Wick are about 600 miles apart, or a little over a full tank of petrol; and having to fill up to get home during a fuel crisis adds an element of unwanted anxiety to any holiday. My only real experience of this sort of thing is watching Mad Max movies, so I made sure we had plenty of crossbow bolts and hair gel just in case; but in the end we were lucky, and found a gas station with enough working pumps to see us through.

Autumn crocus

In gansey news, I’ve finished the collar and made a start on the first sleeve. So far the trickiest bits have been fitting the recipient’s initials on the gussets, and knitting the hearts upside down compared to the body. In most other respects the pattern remains the same. I plan on knitting the pattern down the length of the sleeve almost to the cuff; I know this isn’t exactly traditional, but I find it helpful on smaller ganseys, as it gives me the same flexibility with the width ofthe sleeve as it does with the body.

We were staying with my brother in my parents’ old house on the Grand Union Canal. It was a marvellously relaxing time, even though the farm next door had chosen that week to erect a new barn (from the size of it I’m guessing they’re moving into the Zeppelin rental business). Every time I looked out the window I saw a farmer leaning dangerously out of a cherry picker, wailing an iron beam into place with a sledgehammer and looking like a man for whom health and safety risk assessments happen to other people. I did suggest that it might’ve been quicker if they’d called in the Amish, but the only part of his reply I caught was “off” – it was a windy day – so I tactfully left him to it.

Capital at Gayton Parish Church, Northants.

The canal still feels like home to me. There’s a lovely scene in The Wind in the Willows when the Mole asks the Water Rat if he really lives by the River: “By it and with it and on it and in it,” said the Rat. “It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing. Lord! the times we’ve had together! Whether in winter or summer, spring or autumn, it’s always got its fun and its excitements.” And that – except for the washing, of course – and maybe the aunts – oh, and the food and drink too, now I think of it – is exactly how I feel about the dear old Grand Junction…

4 comments to Flamborough (Carol Walkington): Week 7 – 4 October

  • Hannah Forsyth

    As another erstwhile child of Northampton, I’m only too familiar with the long ride up to Scotland! I loved the canal growing up, as irritating as it was that there were more canals than viable railway lines. I wonder if it deserves its own gansey?

    • Gordon

      Hi Hannah, we Northamptonshire exiles should probably get our own tartan! You don’t see any ganseys in the old photos of narrow barge men, which feels like a missed opportunity, given the Humber keel men ganseys…

  • =Tamar

    Perhaps it’s time to design a gansey for the deliverymen who keep things running. Or for the independent Linux developers who toil for the benefit of all. Or for the writers…

    My computers are unwell and I may not be seen much in future.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, best of luck with your computers. We don’t always appreciate how much we rely on them till they stop working, do we? As for designing new ganseys, I hate to say it but I’ve yet to see a new pattern that works as well as the old ones. It’s like new Christmas carols – the last really decent one was Silent Night, and that was over a century ago…

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