when in Rome

I once took a job as an English tutor to a 12-year old Italian boy called Cesare. The tutoring was to take place during a 6-week sailing holiday around Corsica and Sardinia, on Cesare’s dad’s yacht. I flew from London to Milan on a Sunday evening, spent the night in C-Dad’s flat, and was flown by private helicopter to Cala Galera the next day.

cala g

Cesare, the boat, the skipper, and C-Dad’s 18-year old girlfriend were all ready and waiting to set sail.  Also waiting at the docks, however, was Cesare’s recently-divorced mother, who had got wind of the new fidanzata and had swooped into port to remove her son from the sleaze of the situation.

Cesare was whisked home to Milan, and I was jobless. C-Dad apologised for the mess and paid me handsomely. I had a return ticket to London but it seemed crazy not to take advantage of being in Italy with time and cash in hand, so I asked to be dropped at the nearest train station and boarded a train for Rome.

I knew no-one in Rome, couldn’t speak the language, and had no idea where I would sleep. But being only 23 at the time, none of this actually worried me. I figured I wouldn’t starve, and in fact my most pressing concern was to find cigarettes and coffee.

Wondering why this episode from 30 years ago has been on my mind all morning, I think it is because the whole experience was both unusual and liberating. I knew no-one but at the same time no-one knew me or where I was (pre-internet, of course). It was a kind of freedom. No responsibilities except to myself, no-one waiting for me to call, no-one to worry about. I’m sure it can’t hurt to dream of those days occasionally, can it?

home is where the [Jam] Tart is

We got home from 2 weeks in Grahamstown on Tuesday afternoon, in our cleanest dirty clothes. It felt like a long time to be away and, despite the hospitality we got from Sean and Melinda, I nearly cried at the sight of my own bed. Wonderful neighbour Isabella had taken care of the cats, so they pretended not to notice I’d been gone a while.

I thought I would spend a day or two just kind of resting and unpacking and preparing for a 5-day market next week in Napier, but it hasn’t worked out that way. I’ve had to cancel the market (sorry, Suzette) and have to go back to Johannesburg on the weekend, and don’t know for how long. I really dislike the place, plus the business that necessitates my presence is deeply unpleasant. There are other family matters here at home that I need to deal with, so how I’m going to be in two places at once is a mystery that maybe only Superwoman or the Virgin Mary can advise on. Dealing with my sciatica will also have to go on the backburner until I can fit in a visit to Michelle, the most fantastic physiotherapist in the universe.

I did manage a couple of hours yesterday experimenting with fabric and fedoras.

fedoras fedora 2

Other than this, all crafting activity is on hold until further notice!

Grahamstown – 5 days in

The last few days have just whizzed crazily by. It’s Monday evening now and the Festival opened on Thursday last week. Still six days of trading to go – and I’ve sold out of slouchy beanies for men! The kiddies’ beanies are also doing really well, and every night (before I collapse into bed with a hot water bottle), I crochet a batch of eyes to owl up some of the plain beanies!

rob and jill

Rob has been a star, as ever.

sean and jill

This is Sean, Rob’s cousin. We are staying with him and his partner Melinda in their cosy, underfloor-heated home just 5 minutes from the Village Green. Most other traders have to stay in B&Bs or rented houses, and some poor buggers even camp….if I had to try that, through one of these freezing cold nights in the Eastern Cape, I wouldn’t make morning.

Being at an 11-day festival is a lot of things – exhilarating, exhausting, entertaining, frustrating, enriching and – hopefully – very profitable. More on all of that later because right now I’m off to claim the glass of wine that Melinda has poured to go with the baked cob in garlic and pesto that Sean has cooked. Yes, I do know we’re being spoiled.

Back soon x

a Big Number

hoo ha!

bag counter

I’m aiming to up this to 500, so it’ll be quite a push! Tomorrow I’m at the Yew Street Market for most of the day, but I think I can squeeze in some serious sewing on Sunday and Monday. Plus I still have quite a few unfinisheds to get to, and on Sunday am collecting from Berenice, Janet, Martli and Gladys.

Will check in once more before we leave….

seven or six

I can’t even count the days properly any more. But I CAN count the hats:

bag counter

Up by 44!!! I collected THIRTY ONE exquisitely knitted beanies from Berenice today, and the rest came from me working through a box of unfinisheds (some just needed the ends weaving in – yay)

Back to the sewing machine for more scoodies tonight.

Thanks for all the encouragement, fellow bloggers. Every bit helps :-)


I counted wrong the other day – when I said nine, it was actually ten. Phew.

Today I made 20 furry scoodies and 2 newsboys, so I’m up to ….

bag counter

Jess from across the road was playing with her friend Natasha on the roof of the garage this afternoon, so I grabbed 2 scoodies and my camera:

jess and natasha 2jess and natasha


+ 41 pixie hats =

bag counter

And two more talented crochet people have got on board, so I’ve been distributing yarn all over the place and hope to be collecting beanies very soon from Eunice, Gladys, Berenice, Janet an Martli. Work those hooks, ladies!

And in other good news, the City of Cape Town has reissued the trading permit for the Yew Street Market – next market day is 27 June :-)  (article re closure).  I’m very pleased for Kim, and excited to be getting in on the ground floor with this project.