Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Breathing Out

Hello there; Happy 2017 everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and wish you all the best for the new year. I think I've mentioned here before that the end of the year is an unusually hectic time in this household. The last 6 weeks have seen Christmas, New Year and 4 birthdays celebrated and I'm more than done with all the festivities. It was lovely having both girls home for Christmas and, now that they've gone again, the house seems too quiet. I'm sure that I'll get used to it soon, it just takes me a while to make the transition. The past few weeks have seen several meals out, lots of lovely presents (I was very spoiled for both Christmas and my birthday), winter walks, cinema and theatre trips, a jigsaw completed and another attempted - until it was deemed by all to be too boring a picture to continue with; it even defeated J and that's a first! - and the cracking of my 5K barrier. Then the viruses took over and it was tissues, Lemsip and hot water bottles all the way. Today is the first day that I've been able to run for over a week and I've surprised myself with how much I've missed it.

Anyway, here are a few photos to remind me of the holiday period:
Veggie dumpling soup at Bento Boss in Bristol, when we went to collect E for the holidays:
 A very blurry photo of the running machine at the gym. By the time, I'd found my camera, taken a quick snap and realized that the shot was out of focus, the machine had reset and I was unable to take another. But I did it CT!
 L made the Christmas wreath:
 ...... and a panettone:
Hamish warmed himself by the stove:
 
.... and reveled in having E home again:
 Our Christmas Day walk:




 The jigsaw that we did manage to complete:
 Me playing with my new yarn swift - it's such fun, there were no tangles and no bad words had to be uttered! 
 Our Boxing Day walk and picnic in Inkpen:
 E had left her walking boots at uni!

 My birthday theatre trip:
 For E's birthday, we saw Rogue One at the cinema, followed by lunch at an American style diner. We thought we would try Root Beer and I'd always assumed it was like ginger beer. It actually reminded me of that powdered toothpaste that you used to be able to buy that tasted of cloves and cinnamon. Can anyone tell me if proper American root beer tastes like that?

 We ate in an airstream and lunch was enlivened no end when a fire alarm went off and the shutters automatically came down locking everyone in the diner - it seemed illogical to lock us in with the kitchen ie. the most likely source of the fire but, luckily, it was a false alarm ........ and it did make it memorable.
 We ate Lebanese mezze for dinner:
 Finally, I have a half finished object - just the one sock of my Christmas Eve cast on. Things have been a bit slow on the knitting front recently, but I did manage my first ever Fish Lips Kiss Heel. To be honest, I wasn't that impressed initially, but it does fit really well so I may try it again at some point.
Well, that's all for now. According to the radio this morning, there might be a chance of snow tomorrow - it probably won't come to anything but Hamish and I are very excited at the prospect and I'm off to make a large pot of warming smoky veggie chilli just in case. 
Wishing you all a lovely week. 
Toodle Pip for now. xx

Friday, 16 December 2016

Feeling the Benefit

Hello there! Are you feeling the Christmas spirit yet? Much to R's despair, apart from the Advent candle, I have been postponing putting up the Christmas decorations until E gets home from uni. They're usually up by his birthday on the 14th but E's term doesn't end until the 16th, so we are still (thankfully) a tinsel free zone. 
I have just returned from my final run of the Couch to 5K programme, ie. run 3 of week 9. Looking back to 7 weeks ago, I was worrying about week 3 and thinking that I would never be able to run for 3 minutes. Week 9 is running for 30 minutes and I'm so proud of myself, I could burst. I still don't look the part; I'm all ratty of running gear and beetroot of face, but I'm out there and I am feeling the benefit. 
Last weekend, R and I went for a country walk. He cycles every day and when walking together he's usually forging ahead with me puffing away bringing up the rear. Not so this time, people - I was holding my own with the best of them and felt that I could have walked twice as far. I am feeling so much fitter and it's made every occasion when I've had to drag myself out of bed and force myself through the door worth it ....... and it's all thanks to CT. I have no way of measuring how far I've actually run unless I go to the gym and use their running machines, so I plan to do that next week and keep going until I hit the magic 5K.




 Other happies this week:
Enjoying a Bailey's coffee and a Christmas magazine:
 Finishing my Blueberry Waffle socks in the Holly Berry colourway:
Wondering which ones to cast on next:
 A trip into London for R's birthday. He works in London every day, so I had a day pottering round until he came out of work. I visited Loop for a bit of stash enhancement, wandered round Covent Garden and then went to China Town.
We had bought some last minute tickets to see Simon Callow's one man show. He was brilliant and when I was killing time in the cafe waiting for R to join me, the man himself wandered past. It was a bit of a deja vu moment - in 1987 when R and I were both students living in London, we had booked to see Simon Callow playing Faust at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith. It played over 2 consecutive nights and the first night we had arranged to meet up an hour before the performance and get something to eat before the show. Mr. Callow walked past me once waiting outside the theatre and then again an hour later as he returned. I was slightly less smiley the second time. R arrived late having forgotten our arrangement and, to add insult to injury, had already eaten. It was rather a frosty moment!
Not so on Wednesday. R was on time and we managed to find a lovely Japanese restaurant near to the theatre to have dinner. The play was excellent and as it runs until January 7th, I can thoroughly recommend it if you're in the London area.



On Thursday we saw Harold Pinter's 'No Man's Land' being broadcast at our local cinema from London's Wyndham Theatre. It starred Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen and the acting was superb. Unfortunately, my seat was next to a wall and when I leaned my head against it, I found my eyes starting to close. It would appear that I prefer Dickens to Pinter anytime!

Anyway, that's all for this week. We're off to Bristol tomorrow to fetch E, and probably a mountain of her washing, home for the holidays. Let the festivities begin..................

Toodle pip for now. x


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Bits of This and That

Hello there. Gosh, it's been a while since my last post. Not a lot has gone on around these parts, a bit of decorating, a few visits to and visits from my lovely daughters, a bit of knitting and lots of running. 
It must have been last Easter when I decorated the dining room. Our downstairs has one big through room, but I didn't have time to do the living room part as well before E was into her A level revision and I didn't want to disrupt things. Then it was the summer holidays and I didn't want to do it then because E would be off to uni soon and there were more exciting things to be doing with her than decorating. So, that's why it was over 6 months later that I finally got around to doing the other half. It was badly timed. Having to have the curtains down and not wanting to effectively sit in a goldfish bowl every evening meant that when R came home from work, we ate in the dark! He complained that when he came in cold after cycling from the station, he wanted cosy and warm, not unwelcoming, disrupted and dark. It did, however, only take a week, so he put up with it and now we're back to normal again. I also managed to put my back out. I can only assume that it was when I was lying on the floor to paint the skirting boards and kept twisting round to reach the paint positioned behind me. Whatever caused it, it put me out of action for over a week. My running ground to a halt and there was lots of moaning, Ibuprofen and hot water bottles. 

Talking of running, I think in my last post I was in week 5 of my Couch to 5K programme and was bemoaning the fact that I could just about run for 8 minutes and the next day I was supposed to do 20. I had planned to ignore the programme and build up to the 20 minutes gradually at my own pace. When I thought about it further, however, I came to the conclusion that there must be a reason for the big jump up and thought it was probably more a case of overcoming some sort of mental barrier. The following day, I donned my ratty running gear, set the timer for 20 minutes (yes, I do run with a small digital kitchen timer - it counts down and I don't have to squint at my watch when running) and set off. I thought that if I couldn't manage the 20 minutes, I would just stop whenever - no big deal right? At times, when the going was uphill, I slowed right down to the point where it was almost strolling/jogging (strogging?!), but I kept going and before I knew it, the 20 minutes were up and I was doing a little happy dance right there in the street! Then, of course, I put my back out and couldn't go again for nearly 2 weeks. Getting back to it was tough. I've mentioned before that I don't exactly set out on running days with a song in my heart and after nearly a 2 week break, it was harder than usual. I forced myself out there though and am now on week 7 running for 25 minutes. Yesterday was the first day that I did it at the gym. It was very icy round here and I didn't want to risk slipping, so the gym it was and I actually enjoyed it. Admittedly, I felt the need to look a bit smarter but it wasn't too crowded, I managed to work out how to use the machine all by myself, I listened to my ipod and the view over the frosty racecourse was beautiful. Dare I say that I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow's run?!

Here are a few more snippets from the last few weeks:
I finished another pair of socks:
I accidentally bought a Yarnit! Yes, it really was an accident. I don't think you can get them in the UK and I was looking at them on Amazon.com. The price quoted was in $ and there was a button to convert it to £. I pushed it thinking it was just a converter and a message popped up congratulating me on my purchase. That took a bit of explaining to R! I do love it though and it looks very cute sitting on my coffee table in all its turquoise glory.
One of last week's library books. I really enjoyed this. It's a charming story about the Queen, who one day pops into a mobile library at Buckingham Palace and discovers a love of reading. It becomes all encompassing and starts to impact on her royal duties. I'd definitely recommend it if you like Alan Bennett's style.
When the girls and I visited Blenheim Palace in the summer, we updated our tickets to a yearly pass. A couple of weekends ago they were holding a Living Crafts fair, so R and I drove to Oxford, collected L, and we went along. It was a lovely, if cold, day and I rashly decided that a winter picnic would be a nice idea.

I think I was the only one that was keen. L valiantly tried to show enthusiasm, R just moaned. We sat outside on a cold bench, trying to enjoy the view. At one point it started to rain and R moaned some more. Cross words were said, the picnic bolted down at lightning speed and we quickly adjourned to the coffee shop to warm up!

The craft fair was fun to look round and we did a tour of the house, so not all was bad. There was also a brass band playing carols which added to the festivities. R upgraded his ticket too, so I'm sure that we'll be back. Possibly in Bridget the Midget and definitely when it's a bit warmer.
I also managed a trip to Bristol to visit E. We had a lovely day - watching 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them', visiting the Christmas market and sharing a  felafel and halloumi burger and a red pepper and feta quesadilla at Giraffe. I hated leaving her but am consoling myself with the thought that it's nearly the Christmas holidays and she'll be home again.

One last thing, I finished my second Hitchhiker scarf in a self striping Anatola yarn by Louisa Harding. To be honest, it was a bit of a disaster. At one point I noticed that I had dropped a stitch. I tried frogging it back and managed to get into a complete tangle - something to do with the increases at the end. I ended up chopping out a huge chunk of the yarn, consequently losing one of the pink stripes, so when laid out flat the pattern looks off. I was also running out of yarn towards the end, so my bind off was really tight and puckers the edge. It doesn't look too bad on, but I find the yarn slightly scratchy  on my neck (I bought it online - there's a lesson there!), so I don't know how much I will wear it. All in all, not one of my finer moments.
Anyway, that's all for the moment. It's December 1st today, so I'm off to dig out my Grinch Christmas Project bag and transfer my current pair of socks into it. Then I'm off to do some Christmas shopping. Fa La La La La!
Wishing you all a wonderful week.
Toodle Pip for now. x