Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tuesday 25 December

Merry Christmas!

ETA I had scheduled this to be published on Christmas Day but I don't think I've quite got the hang of scheduling yet... Hope you have all had a good time!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Monday 3 December

O blimey, I just skipped a whole month on the blog. And I had so much to write about too!

Life's just been very busy. I'm working and looking after the kids, I knit and I crochet, I cook, I've become a volunteer visitor for Independent Age (click through for more information - it's a very rewarding role), I cycle, I am doing an evening class in photography, I have started teaching crochet classes... I don't know how I fit it all in sometimes (well, okay, the housework doesn't even feature on the to do list!) but they are all things I enjoy doing so somehow it doesn't feel that busy.

Last month we took our annual November trip to Holland. Normally we go to watch Sinterklaas arrive in Holland after his trip from Spain (and every year I hope it will be the last - 10yo is still a keen believer and wants to go, I just stand there shivering by the waterside feeling more conspicuous with each passing year as 10yo gets taller and stands out more and more amongst the crowds of small children...). This year was to be a little bit more special as we had something else to celebrate too.

 Those of you who have followed my blog for a while may well be familiar with this story. I knew so very little about pancreatic cancer in those days, other than that I could see my mum getting more ill by the day. And even then, I don't think it was until a few weeks later I realised that she had slowly been dying. Over the years I have learnt much more about pancreatic cancer and how bad the survival rates are. I'm on a few forums and member of some online groups for this illness and there are so few success stories, it's heartbreaking. Unfortunately pancreatic cancer has symptoms which often appear when it's too late to do anything. My mum was just lucky in lots of respect - the tumor was in an operable location, it hadn't spread yet and she was in very good hands. I always felt that apart from the very early days when we were still searching for a diagnosis, the medical staff couldn't do enough. I can't thank them enough that five years on, my mum is still here and still doing well - despite having battled breast cancer almost 2 years ago on top of everything else. 19 November 2007 was the date of her operation and so a couple of weeks ago, we went and had a cup of coffee and a cake to celebrate her five year anniversary. We'd talked about it before and neither of us felt comfortable with anything more significant - we're not going to tempt fate! But it was a good reason to knit her something nice...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday 28 October

About 2 years ago, B. and his son went off to the dry ski slope in Norwich, just for fun. They've been going on skiing holidays pretty much as long as I've known B, but that was just once a year, and they wanted to have a go a bit more often. True to character, B's son got bored with it within a few weeks and B. became really keen. Once a week open practice became twice a week including preparation for race training, became three times a week plus several regional races. It has taken me a while to get used to it, as it means less time for the two of us and sometimes having to jump up and down in front of him waving my arms to let him know I'm still there and would quite like to spend a bit of time together as well (and no, that doesn't mean attending an event at the ski club, because I'm completely not interested in skiing and can't think of anything much more boring than watching people go up and down a plastic slope). Slowly but surely we're getting the balance right, and now I don't even mind the Sunday morning race training all that much anymore. Because I have discovered that I can get a bike ride of several hours in if we go up to the club in his van with my bike in the back. I have been cycling and exploring the area around where he lives for several years now, but the area around Norwich is all new to me - and boy, am I having some fun. I come back covered in mud and often with very wet feet (my retired running shoes are not really made for traipsing around wet grass in cemeteries), but feeling great after having spent 3 hours in the fresh air, and B. is feeling good after 3 hours race training, and we often end up having a coffee to warm up at the club house. Win win all around!

Today was a very miserable day, it's been very autumnal all weekend, but I was determined not to let it spoil my ride, so at 9 AM I set out to follow the river Yare as far as I could. Unfortunately it seems impossible to cross the river anywhere unless it's with a little ferry (probably only on during the summer, as I haven't seen them yet) or much further downstream which is too far for me. But I can still explore and enjoy getting to a sudden dead end, usually with a pub and several boats and some rowers. Fancy a look?

 This is under the bridge which carries the A47 over the river towards Great Yarmouth. Very odd to stand underneath traffic rushing over your head at 70 miles an hour!

The pub garden at Surlingham, looking over the river towards the west. I was here last weekend and all these boats were new today. Hard to imagine that anyone would want to be on the water in such dreary weather.

In the Summer this pub must get very busy. Hoping to drag B. off here for lunch sometime!

On my way towards Bramerton (I think! I got a bit lost, as per usual). 

 This is the sailing club at Coldham's Hall. You cycle down a very straight lane and suddenly it opens up onto the river with yet another pub. Most of the boats seem to be packed up for winter now.

 I wouldn't mind this one myself...

The village sign at Rockland St. Mary. I liked that it had its Roman name underneath.

Vista through the thatched porch at Bramerton Church. I loved all the autumn colours.

The door handle on the second door at this church. Oddly enough it had two doors, one right behind the other.

Another very typically Norfolk view - flint church, porch, cemetery, and again those beautiful autumn colours.

 On my way back now, it was getting quite wet by this stage. Two more boats packed up for winter, although the one on the left looked decidedly neglected. Wonder if they take offers...? :-)

 Looking back towards the east, I've just come from this path. At the end of the path is a very steep hill - I don't often have to get off the bike to walk but this is one of those times!

 This is the ruined Kirby Bedon Church, and right opposite it is...

the current church. Unfortunately I couldn't go in as a service was being held.

And the house next to the church.

Very often I'll go past little stalls by the side of the road selling produce - we've had gorgeous tomatoes, a big bag of the best plums and a big bag of shallots in the past. Last week I managed to stuff three bunches of dahlias in my rucksack. I love dahlias and was determined to bring them home. I had to arrange them over three vases and they only lasted a week, but o the colours! So when I got the chance to go past the same house this week, I couldn't resist and grabbed another three bunches. They're not arranged yet in this photo as I'm still at B.'s house and they're coming home with me tomorrow, but even like this they're cheering me up.

21 miles done, got back wet and very muddy but happy, and can't wait to explore this corner of Norfolk further.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday 4 October

O I love a good post day!

A couple of days ago I received a message to say I had won a giveaway on a blog. It was a fairly new to me blog that I found through Claire who I did a swap with a few months ago. Joanne from Not so granny held a giveaway to celebrate the first anniversary of her blog, so I left a comment. By the time she mailed me to say I'd won her mystery yarny parcel, I'd forgotten all about it...

I came home today after a long day helping out on a school geography trip to Dunwich with 10 year old to find my parcel in the porch. Ooo exciting!

The colours are a bit off here, but the blue Debbie Bliss is definitely my cup of tea. Not sure what it wants to be yet, but 6 balls of yarn to drool over, bliss! Plus some lovely stitch markers, cable needles and stitch holders. Thank you so much Joanne, I'm hoping to show you what they've become in due course!

Talking about cups of tea, the other parcel in the post today was from my friend Mandie in Cornwall. Mandie and I did a swap too earlier this year and found we had so much in common that we've become firm friends. I still live in the old days of pay as you go on my mobile. I've had to top up a lot more in the last few months as we keep texting each other! Sometimes we send each other parcels and this came from her today:

The I love tea sticker really made me laugh - specially as it's from the Tea Appreciation Society - how brilliant is that? I might just have to join them...

And last but not least, a lovely view towards Southwold from Dunwich. I think I was a mermaid in a previous life. I just love the beach.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday 24 September

Autumn has well and truly arrived in the UK. The trees have been changing colour since probably early August, but the weather has been sunny and sometimes quite warm. Now we have rain and wind and some more rain and some more wind, leaves swirling around and lights on most of the day. We lit the woodburner for the first time last night and it actually warmed up the front room beautifully. When it's really cold outside, the house gets so cold the woodburner can only take the edge off it. Last night we were all snugly though.

I have been knitting a lot lately. Somehow I got a lot more knitting done when the kids were home from school, not sure why but I wasn't complaining!

I finally finished my Shale Baby Blanket by Jared Flood which I'd had on the needles for a couple of years. He is probably my favourite designer - his patterns are often so simple but so beautiful. This one now lives on our sofa as a blanket to snuggle under.

After getting that off the needles I was really keen to knit another pair of socks. I'd knitted one sock almost to the end with this wool which is called Magic Ball, but I'd forgotten the pattern and I'd made a few mistakes, so I unravelled it and made this pair which is from Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Knitting. Pure coincidence that the colours matched!
I'm wearing them today for the first time and I've got toasty feet...

Then during the last few days of the Olympics I cast on for these, my Olympic socks
The stitch pattern was easy enough to memorise so you could knit them whilst watching the Olympics, the long rib sections are Greek pillars and the little cables are medals... Pleased with how these turned out and looking forward to wearing them.

And yesterday the latest pair came off the needles, this time for 13 year old
These are from Purls of Wisdom by Jennie Lord. 13yo wants to do a proper 'photo shoot' with them in the same way as the socks are modelled in the book, you can't see here that they have a lovely picot edge. The best thing is that we now have the same shoe size, so if she gets fed up with them (neither of the kids have ever really taken to handknitted socks before), I'll just wear them myself!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday 22 September

I had fully intended to do a crafty post as my next post, as I have managed to fit in quite a lot of knitting and crocheting over the summer. But then the lovely Fran from Cry Mama gave me a blog award. If you want to know all about frugal living, Fran's your woman. Actually, she knows a thing or two about eating cake too, and best of all, she only lives a few villages away from me, so she is one of the few bloggers I actually know in real life too (we must try and meet up properly for a coffee sometime!).
And when I was in the middle of writing this post, my phone and internet went down... and were down for almost a week. It took three phone calls and me threatening to stop my direct debit for the ISP to sort it out. Sad that you have to resort to getting cross before getting anywhere.

Anyway, I was chuffed to bits about getting an award. It's a bit like entering a competition online and forgetting all about it till something arrives in the post. This one is the Liebster award and is given to blogs with 200 readers or fewer. Much as I enjoy reading some of the very popular blogs, I do miss that you slowly get to know the author and sometimes even become friends. I know some people think you can't make friends online, but I very much believe the opposite. But that's almost a post in itself!
Fran asked me to answer 11 questions about myself, so here goes...
  1. If you could only read one author for the rest of your days, who would you read?
Daphne du Maurier - without a doubt. I have read most of her books (but not her most famous one, Rebecca), and I love them all. My favourite is probably My cousin Rachel. When I first read it, I didn't see the end coming at all. A few years ago it was dramatised on Radio 4, so I told B. to listen to it. He heard three sentences and immediately guessed what was going to happen. I was so disappointed! but the play was good nonetheless.
  1. You're leaving town forever and need to pack your worldly goods into a backpack - what's the first thing you reach for?
 Of course I'd have to say the children here, but as they wouldn't be packed into a backpack I think I can get away with not choosing them...!
It would have to be my camera - yes, the DSLR I got given in February. I feel lost without it now.
  1. If you were queen for the day, who would you knight?
I have thought long and hard about this, and I really don't know! It would be someone doing voluntary work, that's for sure - someone giving their time freely for someone else without expecting anything in return. But who? I don't know!
  1. What is your most memorable day?
I think most people would probably have a happy memorable day. I thought long and hard about it, and of course my wedding day and the day the children were born were memorable, but the one day which I'll truly never forget is when my mum had her operation. We had been told that they wouldn't really know what was going on until they opened her up, and that it was possible that they found they could not perform the planned procedure at all. In this case I would be rung on my  mobile within a couple of hours and she would come back to the ward. It was the longest day of my life. She was wheeled away as the first patient and I thought I'd go and check my emails and have a coffee. But I couldn't concentrate on anything - all I did was watch the clock. I was immensely relieved when it went past 10, 11, 12... and I knew that she'd most likely be taken to ICU. Which is where I saw her later that afternoon. And I'll never forget her asking me 'am I in ICU?' which made me laugh, because she was surrounded by machines and wires and drips. When I said she was, she sighed and said 'I'm still going to be around for a while to come then' and went back to sleep again. That is almost five years ago. She was right about that 'little while'!
  1. Where in the world would you go if money wasn't an object?
Around the coast of the UK. I think I was a mermaid in a previous life as I love being on the beach or near the sea. I think the UK coast is fabulous and would love to explore more of it.
  1. Who would you take with you?
B. and the kids. And the camper.
  1. Are you a closet Star Trek fan?
Nope. In fact I can't stand Star Trek. Or science fiction for that matter. Having had to sit through hours of Star Trek with J. who loved it, I've more than had my fill of it. 
  1. What's your favouritie flower?
Nigella or love-in-a-mist. Or sweetpeas. Or nasturtiums. I don't know!
  1. Where do you feel most at home?
At home, on my own sofa, with a blanket and thick socks and a cup of tea, a book, some knitting, the computer and the radio and telly.
  1. How do you prefer to travel - car, train, plane, walking etc?
Car and bike. We've had some brilliant holidays with the camper, and I love cycling for exploring.
  1. What did(do) you want to be when you grow up?
A vet, for a really long time. Until I discovered that I was no good at maths, physics, chemistry and only had a passing interest in biology. And looking back at it now, I don't think I am the right person to be a vet anyway!

Not sure why Blogger has decided to number all the questions with the number one and is refusing to let me change it...

And I'm nominating the following six small blogs that I like to read:
1. Cloudberry Knit - I can't remember when I first started reading Beate's blog but I count her amongst my online friends!
2. Claireabellamakes - Claire and I did a swap earlier this year. She set up a blog not that long ago and it's really taken off. Lots of crafty goodness.
3. Evie's Gran - I 'met' Susan through Twitter. I love her down-to-earth posts and tweets and sense of humor.
4. The Joy of Farming - Sophie hasn't posted as much lately as she did earlier in the year, but her photos are beautiful and I enjoy reading about her life on a farm in America. Her story about Henry the abandoned cockerel made me cry with laughter...
5. Halfpenny Home - actually, Halfpenny Home is a shop with a blog, and I knew the shop before I knew the blog. The shop in Needham Market is run by Nicola and Jacqui and is a dream for button lovers, vintage crockery, yarn, knitting needles. Nicola is also very active on Twitter and has been through a tough few weeks, having been diagnosed with arthritis recently. The blog is mostly about crafty projects.
6. Under Dutch skies - last but not least, Alex's blog was one of the first blogs I started reading, and I found her because she was writing about her running adventures just as I'd started running too. Neither of us run much anymore (truth be told, I don't run at all anymore, Alex still does from time to time), but I enjoy reading her posts as we are both foreigners in another country - only she lives in 'my' country. And she is a very talented knitter and photographer. One day we'll get to meet!

Finishing off with a photo of a gloriously sunny evening in Walberswick where we went last weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday 10 September

Blink. And that was the summer gone.

Every year as the summer holidays loom, I wonder how I'm going to manage work and having two children home for 6 weeks. And every year before I know it the holidays have been and gone and the alarm gets set to its more normal time and we stand shivering at the bus stop in the early mornings again, and trying to fit in 8 hours of work whilst keeping the children amused seems a long and distance memory.

We are only in our second week of school which is the first full week. And the house still feels strangely empty and quiet, and I long for 4 o'clock every afternoon and school bags dropped on the floor as soon as we come in and the 'what's for supper?' question and biscuit crumbs everywhere. As the children grow up they become better company all the time and I find I miss them more too.

And now it's September. My favourite month of the year. A mixture of gloriously sunny days followed by a sudden chilly evening, tractors ploughing and drilling, countless berries in the hedges, the odd grey and blustery day, the promise of woollen socks, mugs of steaming hot chocolate.

13 year old has started at a new school and we're all finding our feet. A new morning routine, a new afternoon routine. It takes some getting used to. I think getting used to the silence during the day at home is going to take the longest.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

17 July 2012

Yes, yes, I seem to have fallen out of the blogging habit. The weeks just fly past and before you know it, you realise that it's been almost a month since the last post.

The Ladies Tractor Road Run has been and gone and was great fun, as always. It was a very cold day. In fact, summer seems to have passed by the UK this year - it was so cold on our way to the airfield at the start of the run, that we had to warm up with coffee and bacon rolls.

 I still ended up with a sunburnt face - or perhaps it was windburn? Whatever it was, it didn't detract from the 'specialness' of the day. I also raised a very respectable 300 pounds (thank you to everyone who donated!) and am looking forward to next year already! I may even already have ideas for next year's outfit...

  this year's outfit - pink granny squares skirt!

Last weekend was another adventure. A few months ago I spotted a tweet asking for volunteers to teach knitting at Latitude, a music and literature festival near Southwold. I applied and a few days later received confirmation that I was part of the team. I was a bit nervous as I'd never taught knitting before, I didn't know anyone in the team and I was going on my own, but it turned out to be a fabulous weekend.

It was wet, it was muddy, we had no showers and no water, there were mosquitos galore and I lived off pot noodles all weekend, but I discovered a love of teaching that I didn't know I had. It was so rewarding to sit down with someone, give them needles and yarn and slowly see them 'get it'. The first two or three stitches would be all wrong and fiddly and they'd say 'o I'll never get this', but by the end of the row they'd be slowly making the right motions. And just working with different people all weekend - I have some lovely memories. The lady I taught to crochet on Friday and who came back on Saturday to show me the progress on her granny square and then again on Sunday to say thank you again. The teenage boys who had me in fits of laughter when they were shouting 'I'm in the KNITTING tent mate, this woman is teaching me to knit' down their mobile.

The older gentleman who told us he'd learnt to knit from his grandfather but wanted a reminder, and who turned out to be the eye surgeon who saved B's eye 30 years ago. The little girl who didn't want to come knitting with mummy but half an hour later was happily finger knitting. The Israeli lady who'd lived in the UK as long as I have and with who I shared 'living abroad' stories and who said she'd send me a pair of slippers her 100 year old grandmother had crocheted.

 The visitors coming back every day to just sit and knit a while as they found it so serene. The time we were all sitting down knitting or crocheting while next door in the literary tent Simon Armitage was being interviewed, a bit further down teenage girls were learning the moves to a Beyonce track and further up in the main arena Alabama Shakes were playing - it was so surreal. I was quite sad to leave on Sunday afternoon and have been thinking if there is a way I can continue to teach knitting, as a year is a long time to wait...

Photo courtesy of Amy from Keep and Share Knitting

Back in the real world, we are in the last week of term. 13yo is currently at her leavers' disco as she has 3 more days left at Middle School. She has been incredibly happy there and although she is very ready to move on and widen her horizons, I will be very sad to leave this stage behind, especially as I know it will all be very different for 10yo who will not stay the full 4 years at this school due to its closure in 2014. I am looking forward to a week off work next week, catching up with old friends and just generally pottering about and not worrying about routines. A pyjama day is very much on the cards!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday 24 June

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while, know that my mum has had more than her fair share of trouble with cancer. Four and a half years ago she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I had never even heard of it so knew very little about it. She was very ill by the time she underwent major surgery, but made a good recovery. It wasn't until things started to calm down a bit that I started to think about the future, and I'll never forget her saying 'the prognosis isn't very good'. Ninety-five percent of pancreatic cancer patients don't make it past a year. She was lucky that her tumor was operable, I think she was in very good hands and maybe, just maybe she was a little bit lucky as well - because she's still with us today.
Then last year in April we were hit by the bombshell that she had breast cancer. It was not related, it was 'just bad luck'. Bad luck indeed. This time around it was all so different - she didn't feel ill, the operations were relatively minor, the survival rate was much better and the treatment plan was much longer. It was much harder to put it all behind us and forget that she was a patient.
But, that is over a year ago now and her recent mammogram came back clear. She sometimes says she has a guardian angel on her shoulder. I'm beginning to think she might be right.

Cancer is one of those illnesses that happen 'to someone else'. That is, until it happens to you. You know it is a horrible illness, but you don't realise quite the effect and impact until it happens to you or a loved one. And so many people have to deal with it at one point or another. Survival rates improve all the time, but to keep them improving, much research is needed and research costs money.

So, once again, I am very proud to be taking part in the Ladies' Tractor Road Run to raise money for Cancer Research. This is my third year and it only gets better every year. Hundred and thirty women dressed up in pink on tractors with the wildest, silliest, pinkest decorations, driving 25 miles through Norfolk countryside, going through little villages where people sit outside their houses with a picnic to watch and wave. Driving through Harleston is probably the highlight - you get warned it's an emotional scene but you can't imagine what it's like to see rows of people lining the pavement, all cheering and waving you on - the lump in your throat soon turns to proper tears and most of us leave Harleston with wet cheeks. It is a very poignant day, considering the reason we all take part, but there is lots of laughter and camaraderie too.

Please go and visit my JustGiving page and consider making a donation. Every little bit of money helps to fund research so that more people like me can feel grateful that their mum or dad or child or other loved one is still with them today.

Thank you xxx

Photo courtesy of Mick Harrod

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday 12 June

The theme for the June Popular Crafts swap was Union Jack. I wasn't sure at first whether to sign up, the Union flag not really being my flag, but it is such a friendly swap that I couldn't resist. My swap partner was Simmi from Graces Favours. We emailed a few times, we followed each other on Pinterest, but I had no inspiration. I kept coming up with different ideas then discarding them. In the end a neighbour who is a crafter too, suggested a pincushion. Brilliant - not so large that it is hard or expensive to send, and practical too as Simmi sews a lot with felt. I had everything I needed for the pincushion at home, all little bits I'd saved 'just in case'. I tried to find a box of Jubilee coloured pins but had to settle for red ones in the end, but thought they went well with the cushion.

 (photo is Simmi's as I forgot to take one before I posted my parcel!)

Simmi's parcel to me arrived before I sent mine, and imagine my surprise when I opened it and found this...

Yes, Simmi had made me a pincushion too, almost the same size, also with a ribbon at the top! The only difference is that Simmi made the Dutch flag on the back - I was so touched by that. Also included in the parcel were lavender bath crystals which made the whole parcel smell lovely, a Jubilee brooch and probably my favourite part, the button magnets - they are so sweet. I have a sneaky suspicion I may have those on one of my Pinterest boards...
Simmi, it's been a great swap, thank you, and I hope we'll stay in touch!

The next theme is polka dots but I'm giving it a miss for a few months. So far this year I have made very little for myself and it's getting me a little down. I love swaps but find it hard sometimes to send away what I've made. So the second half of 2012 is going to be for me!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunday 10 June

Best bit of your weekend

It was unexpectedly a fairly nice day, so far Spring has been very wet this year in the UK. I am no real gardener and have a very overgrown, neglected garden, but 10yo and I spent a lot of time clearing on Sunday and dug a small border to plant the dahlia and two courgettes. It felt so nice in the evening to step out the back door and see all the work we'd done.
Photo for today was hard to choose as Southwold was lovely too and yielded many happy photos!

Photo a day for 10 June

Saturday 9 June

Your view today

Visit to Southwold
Photo a day for 9 June

Friday 8 June

6 o'clock

6:29 AM is my alarm most mornings
Photo a day for 8 June

Thursday 7 June


My bedtime 'hot cocoa'.
(mental note to self, must learn to play with White Balance on my camera)
Photo a day for 7 June

Wednesday 6 June


Hats from the Innocent smoothie drinks to raise money for Age UK.
Photo a day for 6 June

Tuesday 5 June


The poster the kids got me for Mother's Day
One photo a day for 5 June

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Monday 4 June


Dahlia bought at plant fair held in Bury St. Edmunds during Jubilee celebrations
Photo a Day June 4

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sunday 3 June

On your plate

Cucumber sandwiches, homemade scones with jam and cream and a cupcake with English flag icing for the Jubilee celebrations
Photo a day June for 3 June

Saturday 2 June


Empty plate after homemade real Italian bolognese sauce
Photo a day June for 2 June

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Friday 1 June

Photo a day June challenge - 1 June - Morning

My morning coffee in the office with a slice of Devonshire apple cake made for the Weekly Bake-Off on Twitter.