Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday 1 March 2015

Earlier this week I agreed to meet up today with a friend from knitting group who has three dogs, and join her on her walk. Some fresh air never fails to make you feel better. As she doesn't live that far away from me, I thought rather than drive down to hers, I'd get on the bike and cycle there. Bit like a biathlon - bike, walk, bike!

It was a beautiful, sunny morning, just rather windy. Which was fine on the way there, as I was headed west, but coming back was hard work... and it turns out Suffolk's a bit hillier than Norfolk too!

Eight miles on the bike, 2 or 3 mile walk with dogs, cup of tea with German apple cake, 11 miles on the bike returning home. Good to be out there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Almost two weeks ago, my life was completely turned upside down. I have thought long and hard about whether to say something on this blog, whether to take a break, whether to start afresh. I still don't know whether saying anything at all is a good thing or not. I do know though that I don't want to stop writing this blog and I don't want to carry on as though nothing has happened and everything's the same as it was. Because it isn't.
Without going into too much detail, my future has changed completely and I'm having to rebuild my life. The holiday let is on the back burner and when it does happen, I don't know if I'll be involved - I don't know if I'll be able to. Very much out of the blue I'm having to put 10 years of history and what I thought was happiness behind me. I am a strong person and I know I'll get through it, but right now, the confusion, anger and above all the sadness is overwhelming. To have my trust so completely betrayed is a bitter pill to swallow.

Last weekend, I put our two bikes on the back of the car and drove to Felixstowe with 12yo. Like any other 12yo, he loves his electronic gadgets. His iPad, Minecraft, YouTube, headphones, lots of giggles - I'm sure it's a scene familiar to many with a young teenage boy. But 12yo is also always up for going out, specially if it involves physical activity. He loves cycling - definitely some Dutch genes there! Like me, he likes the beach and Felixstowe, and I figured a day by the sea and some exercise would blow some cobwebs away.
We started off at Landguard Point, the most southerly point of Felixstowe where all the cranes are and you see all the big container ships coming in.The plan was to cycle north along the coast towards Felixstowe Ferry where I'd only been once before, with parttime dog. There was a cold wind, but the sun was shining and as soon as I was out on the bike, I felt better for it.


The southerly and northerly point of Felixstowe are very unspoilt. Not touristy pretty, but quietly unassuming, whereas the middle bit is full of arcades and seaside snack stands. We stopped at Felixstowe Ferry by the river Deben and warmed up with a hot chocolate (that in fact, was so hot that I burnt my tongue and mouth!) while watching the seagulls and a little boat being dragged onto a trailer. I let 12yo decide how he wanted to cycle back - retracing our 'steps' or another part of the circular route we were doing. He chose to go back the same way - which was with a strong headwind that had picked up during our ride, and a lot of uphill too.

After another hour we were back at the car park at Landguard Point, by which time we were both ready for a spot of lunch. There is a new-to-us visitor centre with a little cafe doing, by the looks of it, a roaring trade - we were lucky to find a table near the window. Not that 12yo had much time to look out of the window...

Fifteen miles and he was HUNGRY - I just about had time to take a picture because five minutes later his plate was clean!

Although initially I found it hard to pick up the needles again, now I find it brings me some calmness when my thoughts won't stop falling over themselves. It's odd, because I don't need to concentrate on knitting, but the repetitive action seems to be therapeutic.
Back in January, I signed up to take part in a Dutch blanket KAL or knitalong. Dad bought me a book about the history of Dutch fisherman ganseys, a garment I have always liked. Last summer an exhibition was held in the south of the Netherlands to go with publication of the book, but rather than have all the visitors touch all the old and sometimes fragile sweaters, the organisers decided to knit squares with all the different motifs and sew those up into a big blanket. It proved to be a huge hit with visitors and the idea of a knitalong was born. For five months we get sent 5 patterns for 5 different blocks, and you end up with a blanket of 25 different blocks. I'd been given some undyed sheep's wool for my birthday and decided to use that for my blocks, so my blanket will be varying shades of brown. I'm really enjoying taking part - there is a very active Facebook page with 416 members where we all show our progress and exchange hints, advice and lots of laughter. I believe the total number of participants is more than 1000 already...

Anyway, these are my first five blocks:

 And the first block in more detail:

I'm going to knitting group tonight where I'm planning to cast on for the sixth block. I'm not sure my blanket will be finished by the summer, but I love knitting it and I have seen so many different colour combinations, that I suspect I will be knitting a few others when this one is finished. One in traditional fisherman gansey blue for example...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday 20 January 2015

In a fortnight where there was a little too much upsetting news for my liking (ageing parents...), the one thing that has kept me cheerful is our holiday cottage, that I mentioned in my last post.

As I've mentioned on this blog before, B. lives in a house that he built himself, in the same grounds as his father who lives in a big farmhouse behind B's house. This farmhouse has several barns and outbuildings, in various states of disrepair. One of them in particular always looked like a perfect candidate for converting into a holiday cottage. I used to joke about it, then my jokes became a bit more serious and one day B. agreed that it might be fun.

The renovation started 5 years ago and B. worked on it in his spare time, the holiday cottage competing for attention with skiing, tractors and motorbikes! We never really knew when it would be finished, often it would be 'next Easter' and that Easter would come and go and still we wouldn't be done. But there wasn't any real rush.

Cat helping out

After B. built pretty much everything himself single-handedly (my contribution being the occasional sweeping of the floor or, more likely, tidying up the kitchen in his own house or running another load of laundry so he could concentrate on this building), we are now at the point of furnishing, as you can tell from the last couple of photos. It's not quite finished yet - we are now having heated discussions about pieces of furniture and every day the post arrives with several parcels containing glassware, duvet covers, bath mats and everything else you need to run a home. Last weekend the sofas and the white goods arrived, and it's looking more and more that we can take paying guests from Easter - yes, this Easter!

There is still a lot to do, but I've started thinking about creating a website and marketing the holiday let in order to make it profitable. It is a steep learning curve but I'm very much looking forward to having people there, enjoying a holiday in a cottage that we think is very cosy!

A few details: it's a 2 bedroom cottage which sleeps 4. Downstairs is all open plan with a kitchen with woodburner cooker and induction hob on one side, and living room with woodburner on the other side. The back doors open onto a patio/seating area that is completely private and overlooks a large field with hedges.
Upstairs are two bedrooms, one main bedroom with double bed and one smaller bedroom with two single beds. Bathroom with bath/shower over bath/basin/toilet/bidet. Bedding/towels/logs/electricity included. The cottage is situated about 2 miles outside Pulham St. Mary, which has a village shop and a community centre with a cafe, open 6 days a week. The next village along, Pulham Market, has two pubs. The market town Diss is a 20 minutes drive away, Norwich half an hour, Cambridge is 80 minutes and the coast about 40 minutes. There are lots of public footpaths near the cottage and of course when you come back, you can warm up by the woodburner or have a barbecue on the patio!

The website should be up and running very soon, but in the meantime you can start to follow us on Twitter (@oldhorsestable) for updates... (and some more photos of furnishing in progress are here

Maybe see you there sometime?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday 14 January 2015

I still do bike rides, at least once a week. Every Sunday morning B. has race training at the dry ski slope in Norwich, and I come along and cycle for almost 3 hours. Getting up at 7.30am on a Sunday morning isn't always easy, but then when I ride out of the ski club into the fresh air, I feel quite smug at being out there so early.

Of course, the location and time limit my range a little bit - always starting from the same location means you always explore the same area, and I have to be back by the end of the morning, even though B. doesn't complain about a few extra runs if I'm late. Oddly enough, most Sundays I seem to be able to find something new - a little country lane I hadn't spotted before or had always wanted to go down but had never made the time for, a church or nice building I haven't seen previously - and I've also developed the knack of being back just when race training is finished and all cleared up.

Last Sunday was my first bike ride of this year. During the week I keep a close eye on the weather forecast - I can cope with most weather conditions but relentless rain is not one of them. I'm very fortunate in that most weeks, the weather is kind enough for me to go out. I sometimes get the odd shower, but lycra dries very quickly (and by now, I have a big sports bag full of tops and leggings!). This week it was windy - very windy - very icy windy! I thought beforehand that it was warmer so only wore my leggings, not my thermal leggings underneath, and boy, were my legs cold at the end. I only warmed up properly once we were visiting B's dad in hospital that afternoon.

Anyway, on to some photos.

St. Remigius at Dunston

First snowdrops!

St. Mary's at Swardeston. The father of Edith Cavell was rector here, and she is mentioned on the war memorial. Last Summer I had a proper look inside the church, where there is lots of information about her. A very sad story.
The lychgate was built and donated by a member of the congregation in memory of his wife at the end of the 19th century. I don't know why but I do like this lychgate - maybe because of how it came to be, because of how good it still looks more than a 100 years later, of because of its honest simplicity.

St. Peter's at Swainsthorpe, sadly locked, but with a bonus cat...

St. Edmund at Caistor St. Edmund. I've cycled past this church many times and you can also see it when you drive along the A140, the main road for us into and out of Norwich. Considering its location (at the edge of a Roman town), I had expected a bit more of it, but I found it slightly disappointing. It probably didn't help that every time I stood still, I noticed how cold I was, as this was towards the end of the bike ride!

Every church has something unique though, and this one's no different. Most porches have corbels and they're often angels facing outwards. This one has a bishop and a king, and unusually they face each other.

The highlight for me was the church graffiti - which you find very often - but this one, they think, represents Norwich Cathedral. It certainly looks like the cathedral!

20 miles in total - a bit shorter than usual because of the strong wind. We warmed up with a hot chocolate at the club house and then went on to Hughes Electrical to buy a fridge/freezer, dishwasher and washer/dryer for our almost-finished holiday let - but that's a blog post for later this week!