Sunday, November 11, 2012

11/11 Lest we forget


                                  They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
                          Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
                          At the going down of the sun and in the morning
                          We will remember them.

                           Laurence Binyan, For the Fallen                                                                                                        

 Sergeant Thomas William Saunders 1895 - 1917

My Great Uncle

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

finished baby gift

I have been knitting this blanket for what seems like forever, and even put it aside for a while, but when I got the news that my friend's granddaughter had been born I had to get it finished pronto. It is a very simple pattern, just garter stitch, and then the slightly fancy looking but very easy border is knitted separately and stitched on.  I am really, really pleased with the finished article. I decided to make a little cardigan with the leftover wool, and I think it makes quite a nice matching set. It has all been parcelled up this evening ready to post it off to little Libby Rose tomorrow. 

I discovered a new magazine this week, Homemaker. This is the first issue and I am loving it! It is a  lovely mixture of knitting, craft, interior design, cooking, and all sorts of other bits and pieces. I might even have to subscribe, I will see how the next couple of issues go first. A friend recommended Stephen King's On Writing to me today. I've had it on the shelf for a year or two and have only browsed through it,  so I decided to give it a go. I also have a book here to read for my book group, but as I have until 28th November and I don't really fancy it, I am putting that off. 

Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along

Sunday, September 30, 2012

and just like that, it was Autumn

So here we are, Autumn already. I have been missing from my little online space for too long, and I have really missed it.

We had a few days away in Lincolnshire in September which was lovely and so relaxing. The main reason behind our trip was the Prof's Christmas present from last year - I had to book a whole year in advance as it is so popular. His present from me was a VIP day at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, which is an old wartime airfield, now the largest Bomber Command Museum in the UK. The main part of the VIP day is experiencing a tail down taxy ride in a real Lancaster Bomber, of which there are only three in the world which can still move under their own power. The Prof's Dad was a flight engineer in Bomber Command in the second World War, so it was a really interesting and special experience for him. A long time to wait for his Christmas present, but I think he would say it was worth the wait. 

We chose to stay in a cottage this time rather than a bed and breakfast as we sometimes do, and we much preferred it. We got up in our own time each morning and ate breakfast outside, looking out over the fields and watching the red admiral butterflies on the buddleia. A couple of times we even saw a stoat, which was a first for me. We went out each day to visit various places, and then returned to the cottage in the evenings to prepare and eat a simple meal. We spent the evenings relaxing. I would read or knit and the Prof worked on his dissertation. The cottage was just lovely, we could quite happily have moved in.

This shrub in the garden had the most beautiful bright red berries. We asked the owner and he said it is a 'Gerda Rose' (I am not sure about the spelling) and native to Lincolnshire. Despite much googling, I can't find any reference to it anywhere, which is disappointing as we would like one for our little garden. 

My kind of breakfast: in the morning sunshine with tea, buttered crumpets and the Telegraph crossword. 
It was my first visit to Lincolnshire and I think we will definitely be returning in the future. A large part of the reason for that would be the cottage, I think I would happily stay there for a few days and not even go out! It was so nice, and in such lovely surroundings. I would so love to live somewhere like that, wouldn't it be wonderful? 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I've been...

..spending happy weekend hours outside with good friends

..grateful for my lovely Dad, who said we could have their Dyson after ours died last week

..discovering I have moths in my wardrobe and throwing several items of holey clothes away

..doing lots of laundry, mine to get rid of the moths, my Mum's as her washing machine
has broken

..enjoying home-grown apples from our friends' tree

..reading. 47 books so far this year.

..thankful for the blue skies and sunshine, and trying not to complain about the heat

..revisiting an old favourite from the 90s

..(still) knitting a baby blanket for a little girl due in October

..looking forward to a few days away soon with the Prof in a cottage in the countryside

..feeling better and having more energy than I have done for years

Sunday, August 12, 2012

sticker shock

Today we bought what I thought of as a few bits and pieces, and I was shocked when the bill came to £26.68. Two days ago we spent fifty-odd pounds, and we haven't bought any meat this week yet. Every week, our grocery shopping seems to cost more than the week before. Thankfully, we can manage the rising prices, but I feel so sorry for those who can't - apparently the number of food banks in the UK has doubled in the last year, and I am not at all surprised. I don't know how I would manage if I was still a single parent, or if the Prof was still out of work. 

Three or four years ago, I could do a week's shopping for three adults and the dog for forty or fifty pounds. These days it costs more like £100. A large part of the increase is due to the price rises, but I also think that I am probably not shopping as carefully as I did in the past, when it was second nature to me to be frugal as our income was so low I had no choice. 

This month, when the Prof gets paid, I am going to try the envelope system for some of our day to day expenses such as groceries. I am curious to see exactly how much we do spend, and if we can stick within the budget amounts I will be setting. It should be an interesting exercise! 

Joining the August Break

Friday, August 10, 2012

Yarn Along

I have read such a lot of books this year I can hardly keep up with myself. I am keeping a record and I think this book, You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik, is about the 44th I have read this year - not including the several books I have got partway through and given up on. I started it in bed last night, and am really enjoying it. 

I am still working on the baby blanket for a friend's granddaughter, due to be born in October. I should have finished it by then, it's the sewing up that will be my challenge. I have a bag full of finished projects that I need to sew together. I need to find someone who doesn't like knitting but likes making things up and we could have a collaborative joint effort to make things! I finished the main white part of the blanket, this is the pink edging. I am pleased with how it is looking, rather pretty I think. 

Joining Yarn Along and August Break

Thursday, August 09, 2012

breakfast with Black Eyed Susie

This little mosaic table and chairs are just outside my back door where I like to sit with a cup of coffee on a sunny morning. I haven't been able to sit out there much with the awful summer we have had, but now we have actually got a couple of nice days forecast, I am hoping to get the chance. In fact, I will make a date right now to have my breakfast and coffee out there tomorrow morning. 

P.S. Isn't the black eyed Susan lovely?  

Joining the August Break

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

finally, the scent of summer

I adore sweet peas. The first time I recall them is when my mother planted them along her back fence the year I was pregnant with the Young Philosopher. She would cut bunch after bunch of them and bring them indoors, and the scent was divine. 

When I moved from eleven years living in a flat to a house with a tiny garden, I grew them myself several times along my side fence at the front of the house, and they were glorious. These days, I have pyracantha bushes, a clematis that has taken over, and a few other things growing along that fence that means my regular sweet pea spot is no more. The last few years I have tried growing them up a wigwam in pots, with no success. This year I have some in a pot, which are very tatty looking and about six inches tall, and some which I planted to grow up canes by the front door. They were planted late, and with the summer we have had (or rather, not had) I have not expected much at all, but today, there they were, half a dozen lovely little purple and white blooms. I have them on the kitchen windowsill, and keep wandering over to sniff them. I waved them under the Prof's nose this evening, to demonstrate how gorgeous the scent is. 'Hmm', he said. 'Smells like air freshener'.

Joining the August Break

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

new habits

Since the Prof and I have been trying to eat more healthily, one of the biggest changes for me has been eating breakfast every day. Every morning I sit down to a bowl of All Bran with whatever berries we have, usually blueberries and strawberries, sometimes some chopped apple too. Eating in the mornings is definitely helping with my energy levels, and stops me from feeling light-headed and peculiar by lunchtime, which, to be honest, was what used to prompt me to eat something most days. Ten weeks on, I can say I actually really enjoy my breakfast which as someone who has never really been able to face food first thing in the morning, is a result. 

In other news, as of this week, my healthier eating has resulted in a ten pound weight loss, about which I am very pleased. 

Joining the August Break

Monday, July 09, 2012

along came a spider

Okay, so it was a small spider, and it caught my eye as I have never seen one like this before. I don't mind spiders, from a distance, but I had to get too close for (my) comfort to take this picture. It was very large in the view finder! 


Last Friday afternoon. The wet weather turned miraculously sunny as we drove towards our destination, and was glorious by the time we arrived. 

The bank at the edge of the car park was full of pink flowers. I see these wild flowers every summer since I first noticed them growing out of a high wall at Aylesford Priory. They grow everywhere, I even noticed them in a garden further along our street.  I wish they would grow in my garden! I meant to take a small cutting when we went back to the car, and bring it home but I forgot.  

We visited a small art gallery, which was interesting,  and there were lovely views though we didn't venture out onto the balcony for a better look, as it propped up with pieces of wood! We sat on a bench looking out over the estuary and ate the lunch I had packed - coronation chicken sandwiches, strawberries and a lovely cup of tea, and then we followed that up with an ice cream on the seafront. 

We drove along the front before going home, it's lovely looking out across the water, and one of our favourite places, despite being pretty/tacky/shabby by turns. 

It was a lovely afternoon, especially with the unexpected  sunshine. Just having the Prof off from work that extra half a day or so made the weekend seem so much longer. 

Friday, July 06, 2012

Here comes the rain again

Photo a day July: on the floor

This little chap and his friends and relatives are a common sight in our garden at the moment, thanks to the almost constant rain. I am now not going to mention the weather again today. 

The Prof is coming home early today, so we are going to take a drive out. We had books out last night trying to decide what to do with his extra few free hours, it's hard to decide where to go. I think we d better when we just get in the car and go, we always come across something interesting. We are going to head for the coast (well, estuary!) and visit an art gallery there. What a lovely day for it (oops).

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

My idea of fun might not be yours

I found the dictionary definition of 'fun' online: 'Enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure'.  I don't know if I find my afternoon's activities amusing really, but the other two definitions definitely fit.

I don't particularly like ironing in general, in fact I iron very little. I find that, if washed carefully (not too many items per load in the washing machine, remove as soon as the cycle is finished, shake or smooth out and hang carefully) that most of our clothes don't need ironing, even my boys' work shirts.

But I love ironed tea towels, and enjoy making up some fragranced ironing water (cheat: add a very small amount of the divinely scented Ecover Among the Flowers fabric conditioner), watching a film and ironing a huge pile of pretty tea towels.

I may even take a break half way and sit in the garden watching my two lines of washing blowing in the breeze. Also fun. Really.

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along

I finished the Battenberg tea cosy - well, to be honest I haven't sewn it up yet, I don't like that part. I have a pile of finished items that need making up. One evening I will just have to sit and do them all!

I have started knitting a blanket for a friend's granddaughter, due in the autumn. It is very simple, garter stitch only for the centre, knitted diagonally. There will be a lacy border around the edge which is knitted separately, I am going to knit that in pink. I found the pattern on Ravelry. I prefer simpler patterns, I don't enjoy complicated ones where I have to concentrate and count all the time, I just like something fairly mindless that I can do in front of the tv, or while chatting. It calms my mind, I find it very restful. Difficult patterns just make me stressed!

A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale is one of the Richard and Judy book club books for this summer. It is the story of a priest and those around him, and each chapter is set in a different part of his life, sometimes going back and forth in time. I am about halfway through and thoroughly enjoying it. I have read two other of his books, and this is my favourite, I think.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

No ants or demons allowed

Photo a day July Day Three: best part of the day

There are various parts of the day that I enjoy. Waking up in the morning after the Prof has gone to work and being able to snuggle back down for a while in our big bed. My first coffee of the day as I check my email. The Prof coming home in the evening. Chatting with the Young Philosopher. 

Today, my favourite part was coming home just now, after meeting the Prof from work and going to see Men in Black 3. I thoroughly enjoyed it, is there anything better than a really good laugh? We picked up a coffee from McDonalds on the way back, and I am looking forward to an hour knitting and watching tv before going to bed early. I am tired today, probably a delayed reaction from a very busy weekend. I am still feeling good though, not ill. Sometimes I have to remind myself that everyone gets tired if they have overdone it a bit, and it doesn't necessarily mean an imminent crash. 

The plant pot you can see is part of my patriotic Jubilee/Olympics planting scheme. I have this pot and two baskets on the front fence filled with red, white and blue flowers. The white powder on the step is to deter ants, though I overheard the Young Philosopher telling his friend it was salt to protect against demons. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

enjoying being busy

Joining Chantelle for photo a day July. Day Two: Busy

Every morning lately I write a little to do list for the day, and with great satisfaction I tick off the tasks as I finish them. Big deal, you may be thinking. Well, to me it is. For well over two years I have operated at between 30 per cent and 70 per cent of my pre-CFS energy levels. Most of the time I don't leave the house alone, can't manage to do lots of things that for most people are very everyday and easy such as changing a bed, or hoovering, and sometimes even light tasks such as dusting and cooking are not possible. For the past few weeks the Prof and I have been eating differently, partly in an effort to lose weight, partly to regulate his blood sugar, and after the first week or so it has made a remarkable difference to me.  In the last couple of weeks, with frequent rests, I have managed to do several times more than I can usually do. I have been out socially more than usual, done a lot of gardening,  decluttering and organising, as well as housework. I have been trying to take things carefully as I know only too well that when I overdo things it can result in a crash often lasting days or weeks, and at first I was very tentative with what I did...but now it's been two weeks, I still feel really well and there has been no relapsing at all. 

What does this mean? I don't believe my CFS was caused by diet, in my case it seems to have been a combination of respiratory illness/anaemia/ stress (and continuing to ignore all that for months and carry on as usual) that started it off. I am puzzled by such a dramatic change just from changing how and what I eat. However, I have always had spells of going dizzy/feeling odd and knowing I needed to eat something, which I assumed was to do with my blood sugar levels. In recent years this has got more frequent. This eating plan that we are following is based on mostly low glycaemic slow energy release foods, and I have not had any of those funny spells. My energy is fairly constant though of course I am not as strong as I used to be, and I have less stamina, but that is to be expected given my decreased levels of activity in the last few years.  It is just so wonderful to feel 'normal'! I can honestly say I have not even had a whole day of feeling normal in the past two and a half years. At the current count I have felt fantastic for two weeks. I am altogether baffled and amazed, but thoroughly enjoying feeling normal after all this time. I am trying to have a positive attitude and not worry about getting up tomorrow and this feeling of well being having gone, I am trying to make the most of every wonderful day right now. 

Oh, and I need to post the photo for day one of Photo a Day July too - I only came across the challenge today, already day two. I see that the prompt for yesterday was self-portrait. Serendipitously (it's a word if I say it is), I did take a (rather silly) self-portrait yesterday with my phone, so I here it is.