Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday 26 June

I have written my first ever guest blog post!
Hop on over to In Norfolk to read all about my cycling adventures in Norfolk.

Thank you to Lucy for giving me the chance to post on her blog!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday 25 June

Tuesday comes around so quickly! I start off my 'week of happy' full of good thoughts and then forget about it after a few days. And then wonder if I'll manage to remember ten happy things! But it's not a bad thing, because it makes me stop and think and appreciate the small things.

1. 11yo ran up to me after I'd dropped them off at J's house last week with this bunch in his hands. They'd picked it earlier in the week and had forgotten to give it to me. They're my favourite flowers, I just love their colour and the whispiness as the petals fall. They're past their best now but they have cheered me up all week.

2. I taught a couple of crochet classes on Saturday - beginners in the morning, improvers in the afternoon. The two ladies attending the improvers class, had previously come to one of my beginners class. It was so nice to see how they'd carried on and used the skills I'd taught them. One of them was even teaching her daughter to crochet. That's what it's all about!

3. Yesterday we had to spend quite a bit of time in the car through my own fault - I'd left my camera in Ipswich and wanted to go and pick it up. The kids didn't complain at all, in fact, we had a really good time together. Not for the first time I thought that they're both really good company.

4. The Mini game. 11yo and I have played this game for a few years now. The rules are simple: you spot a Mini, you punch the person sitting next to you and say Mini and you get a point. You get an extra punch for a cabriolet Mini, a yellow one, a learner and a few other unusual versions (actually, yellow Minis are quite common). We only play it in the car and the winner is the one with the most Minis at the end of the journey. The thing about this game is that it is utterly pointless but can get very silly - sometimes if traffic is heavy and I have to concentrate, 11yo can leap ahead and spot one Mini after the other. But neither of us ever mind about losing, we sometimes give points away if we're feeling sorry for each other. I've played it with 14yo as well but it's not the same. It cheers me up so much that when 11yo is not in the car with me, I'm a little sad when I spot a Mini and can't score a point.

(We recently added a new rule. The person to spot J's old Mini, which was a limited edition but was sold years ago, wins for life. I don't think it's likely to happen ;-)

5. I've finally found a book again that's really gripping me. I haven't finished the last few books I was reading because they just weren't, well, gripping enough! I wanted something fairly light but sometimes it was so light it was rubbish at the same time. So I went back to Thomas Hardy, who never fails to disappoint. I'm reading Jude the Obscure and o, how you can tell it's going to end badly, but still I can't stop reading!

6. Finding I have yet something else in common with a friend at WeightWatchers. She's 20 years older than me but we share an uncanny similar taste in literature. Last week we found we enjoy the same music, this week we discovered we both like Radio 4...

7. Having a haircut and liking my hair again.

8. That moment when the radio alarm clock goes on 30 minutes sleep and you switch off the light and crawl under the duvet, knowing you'll be asleep in the next few minutes or so (I rarely suffer from insomnia).

9. One of B's cats who's normally a bit shy, jumping up into the bed to come and have a cuddle and a very loud purr.

10. Last week my 'little old lady' celebrated her 84th birthday. I popped in on the day itself but as I had suspected, she was out with her children. I left behind a present and a card, saying I'd come and see her the following Tuesday. When I turned up, she had already left two mugs and a plate of biscuits in the kitchen for us to have later. It just warms my heart that she looks forward to my visits.
('my little old lady' and 'my captain' will have a blog post of their own soon).

11. Standing on the balcony at B's house around 10pm on the longest day, watching the moon occasionally come through the clouds and marvelling at how light it still was.

And there you have it, 10 happy things and a bonus one!

Pop back tomorrow for the first guest blog post I've ever written, about cycling in Norfolk.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday 20 June

I wanted to do my WIP Wednesday yesterday but had used up my computer time - well, I've got to set the right example to the kids don't I! And tonight's not much different, so only a short post.

Colours aren't very good as I took the picture last night as the light was fading (even though the days are very very long at the moment - love it!). The pink is really bright pink and the lilac is more lilac, but you get the idea of the ruffles. I still want to add a few more but to be honest I'm getting really bored with it. One ruffle row takes a couple of hours at the very least, and as it is something I'll probably only wear once, I don't want to spend so much time on it. It's turning out more frilly than I had imagined but I'm quite pleased with that.

Again the colours aren't perfect, the shirt isn't orange but pink! It's a lovely pink seersucker which I've had for a long time. I've been trying to get back into sewing and when I do, I really enjoy it. I used to sew a lot for the children, but I seem to have lost my confidence a bit. Every time I get to a new step, I procrastinate over it. All that's left of this shirt is the band around the edge of the right sleeve, the hem and the buttonholes plus buttons, but the buttonholes are scaring me. I've never been that good at them, they always have that homemade look. Plus I haven't got any buttons for it at the moment. I should finish it off though, we finally had some warmer weather in the UK this past week and I could have worn this. If I wasn't so scared of buttonholes that is!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday 18 June

My happy things for this week:

1. 14yo getting a place on the communications team at school. It's been obvious for a while now that the arts subjects are her strong side (following in her mother's footsteps!) and lately she is showing more and more interest in writing. She will now contribute to the school blog and newsletters, and represent the school at other schools. If she is serious about pursuing writing as a career, she has made a step in the right direction, and I'm very proud.

2. Staying the same weight at the WeightWatchers weigh-in yesterday - considering how much I'd eaten over the past fortnight...

3. The latest addition to the collection:

Picked up from Wales last weekend - a rather rare Bolinder Munktell

4. Spotting three red kites while in Wales. I know they're getting more common these days, but it still felt very special.

5. Listening to the rain on the roof of the lorry cab when we'd stopped in a small village on the way to Wales to have a sleep.

6. Getting lost on the way to our destination but finding this:

So, so different from the rural churches in Norfolk that I normally visit

7. Picking up parttime dog for a walk on Monday evening and noticing he excitedly barks his welcome before I even get the chance to knock on the door.

8. Finishing a job at work that I have been working on for the last 4 or 5 weeks. Although I have really enjoyed it, it also feels good to hand it off knowing you have done your part.

9. Spotting this on my Sunday walk:

A bell on an old rectory in Somerton

10. The beauty of Wales. B. and I have been there three times now and every time we agree it is a stunning country.

Photo taken from moving lorry, so excuse the blurriness and lack of composition!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday 12 June

120 pink ladies

As I haven't got much progress to show for my WIP Wednesday (just a few more pink and lilac ruffles), I thought I'd talk a little about the ladies' tractor road run that I am making this outfit for.

 last year's outfit

Some of you will know that for the past three years I have taken part in a tractor road run for ladies that is being held every year in a village near B. A few years ago while on holiday in Holland, I spotted a tractor for sale in a farmyard. Not thinking anything of it, I pointed it out to B., who promptly made me drive past the farm again the following day, got out and sat on it. The owners were on holiday (a neighbour wandered over to see what was going on!), but we put a note in their letterbox saying we were interested. Although I didn't expect to hear back from them, about a week later we received a phone call and after some negotiation B. had actually bought it off them. Three weeks later we hired a lorry and set out to collect our Fendt. A rather unusual holiday souvenir!

Two future pink tractor ladies

I had got 'caught up' in the ladies' road run a few times as they drive almost past B's house, and I promised B. that if he did the tractor up, I'd actually take part. This may sound less impressive than it was - I'd never really driven anything other than an ordinary car before. B. spent the winter lying underneath an oily tractor in a draughty barn, and come July the tractor was restored to its former glory and I'd had several practice runs. Although initially nervous of driving on my own, I had a great time on the day and determined to take part the following year.

My second road run

That was a few years ago, and the collection of tractors has grown with almost one for every year. When B. turned 50, he bought a John Deere on American eBay and had it shipped over. In the meantime he'd bought a lorry as well so we could actually transport the tractors if we wanted to go to any rallies. A year later and he found a very small French tractor (a Semiac, in case anyone's reading who knows about these things!) which meant a trip down to Somerset to fetch it. And this weekend we're off to Wales to go and pick another one up (a Bolinder Munktell). Our criterium for adding tractors is that they have to be unusual - all of these have never been imported into Britain and there probably only are a few of them in the country.

The baby of the family, in restoration phase

The tractor road run started 10 years ago and was the brainchild of Annie and John Chapman in order to raise money for charity, in this case Cancer Research UK. I don't think they ever expected it to become as popular as it has, but in ten years more than a quarter of a million pounds has been raised and this year we have 160 ladies taking part. All of us have a cancer story to tell. In my case there are several, although the main reason was and is my own mum, who has battled and conquered first pancreatic cancer and then breast cancer. B's own mum suffered from breast cancer for years before passing away shortly before I met B. My grandmother-in-law survived breast cancer twice. A good friend from WeightWatchers was diagnosed a year ago and after treatment is now doing well. A customer of B's died earlier this year, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Learning to plough

Some people are lucky, some are not. But we want more people to be lucky. In fact, lucky shouldn't be a word that comes into it. Cancer should not be that dreaded word, but should be treatable. There is a long, long way to go before that is realised, and it will need a lot more research. Research costs money. So, if you enjoy reading my blog, if you have a cancer story of your own to tell, if you want more people to feel grateful that their partner, parent, child, loved one is still with them, then please consider making a donation. Every little bit helps. My JustGiving page is linked on the right.

400 tractors at the National Vintage Tractor Road Run in Chepstow at Easter

Thank you...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday 11 June


I had a bit of a grumpy weekend. Actually, the weekend wasn't grumpy as such, but it left me feeling grumpy. It started off okay, with a pre-run meeting for the ladies tractor road run in July on Friday night - I'm getting to be a bit of an old hand at it, this year being my fourth run, but it's always good fun to meet fellow tractor drivers and to get into the spirit for the event.
Saturday was a lot of ferrying around of children. All parents know they will reach this phase at some point and I'm happy that my children have a busy social life, but when you have a day off, the last thing you want to be doing is constantly keeping an eye on the time and jumping in the car to take/fetch yet another child to yet another social engagement.
On Saturday night, at B's, I discovered I'd left my camera at home. My camera is such an important part of my bike rides, that I thought there and then 'why go for a bike ride at all?' but I told myself not to be silly. Come Sunday morning, all dressed and ready to set out, I have a puncture. Years ago B. put on some extra tough tires and I rarely have punctures, pretty amazing considering the number of miles I do - I think this was the third one. He offered to fix it for me but then we found we had a mixture of different puncture repair kits, but none with a tube of glue. As the weather was gloomy, in contrast to what had been predicted, it just seemed everything was set against going on a bike ride. So I gave up on that idea, but never managed to settle down to something else. Before I knew it, the afternoon had gone and it was time to go and pick up the children, and I had nothing to show for my weekend.
To blow a few cobwebs away I dragged 11yo and parttime dog off to the beach at Felixstowe which helped a lot, but come Monday morning and I was still grumpy about my unproductivity. I emailed a friend about feeling grumpy and she told me to make a list of 10 things that had made me happy that weekend. At first, my grumpiness made me struggle a little, but then I got going and as I emailed it to her, I thought 'this is a good one for the blog'. So here goes, ten things that made me happy this weekend.

1. A lovely meal this weekend: Jamie Oliver's Panzanella Salad and Broccoli Risotto (from his Italy book). That's when I discovered my camera was still at home - no photos! but oh so good, specially the salad. Followed by an Italian style fruit cake, full of dried fig and dates. Yum.

2. On Sunday morning I didn't wake up till 8.30am. I'm usually awake around 6.30am and although I don't mind that, waking up a little later was a pleasant surprise.

3. A clean car. 11yo wanted me to buy him a hoodie at M&S on Saturday and made a bargain that he'd clean my car in return. He has yet to do the outside, but the inside looks a lot better.

4. I enjoyed watching parttime dog who momentarily forgot he's rapidly heading towards old age and ran around like a dog possessed on the beach.

It's just so nice to see that by doing something so simple, you can give him so much pleasure. Apparently he sits behind the front door every afternoon from about 5 onwards, waiting for us to fetch him for a walk.

5. Pretty stones on the beach

 6. On Friday night I received a compliment from someone who knows about these things, that he was impressed with the tractor I'll be driving at the ladies tractor road run, as it is a difficult one to drive.

7. I enjoyed spending a few hours with just my little man on Sunday night. Both of them seem like a different child when they're on their own and enjoy having undivided attention.

8. On Sunday night, 14yo wasn't asleep yet when I went to bed, so we both kept our bedroom door open and chatted to each other for a bit before falling asleep.

9. At the weekend, B. told me that the duck who we thought already had a brood, had a new brood of very small ducklings. They seem to have settled on the pond behind his house and watching them swim around, paddling furiously with their tiny little feet and almost running on the water to catch insects, never fails to raise a smile. Neither did the 'quack' by mother duck to gather them, followed by a louder 'quack' when they didn't all listen, followed by a very loud and stern 'quack!' after which they all immediately turned up to mother's side...

10. B's dad has two cats who are mother and half-brother to the two we have. Oddly enough they are very similar in colouring too, sometimes we all have trouble telling them apart. When I went to say hello to B's dad over the weekend, both his cats were curled up and fast asleep in a flower pot next to his front door. Silly cats.

Life isn't so bad after all!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday 10 June

It seems I'm not alone in my obsession with love for mugs! A couple of months ago I signed up for a mug swap over on Hannah's blog. No, it's not as if I need more mugs... in fact, I forced myself to have a clear-out of the mugs cupboard the other day as there were many falling out of favour and just cluttering up the space. Fortunately I don't seem to have passed on the mug obsession love to my children so it was quite easy to part with some mugs that were supposed to be theirs.

So now I have plenty of room to house the cheerful mug above which I received from Kate. Thanks Kate, I love the size of it - that's my size of coffee or tea! And it's only when I looked at this photo that I realised how well the card matches the mug... :-)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday 5 June

Although I'm always knitting, crocheting and/or sewing a project, I don't often show them on here. Not sure why that is - I think often I don't have the patience to take beautiful completed project photos and write up a post about it. So, in order to show a bit more crafting, which was, way back, the original reason for starting this blog, and to post a bit more regularly, I'm going to try and post every Wednesday about my Works-in-Progress or WIPs as they're known in the crafting world.

I can't tell you too much about this crochet project, as it is my outfit for the Ladies Tractor Road Run in July. Yes, it is pink and garish and hideous, but that is the whole point of it. It is ruffly and silly, it is eating up yarn and it seems never ending at the moment. But I tried it on tonight and it is looking good so far. I'm hoping to have all but finished it by next week.

And that reminds me, I must get a JustGiving page up for the road run. This year is the 10th anniversary and I've heard we've got more than 160 entries so far - last year was 120 or thereabouts. I can't wait!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday 4 June

After completing my month of blogging challenge, I felt at a bit of a loss as to where to go from there. I'd actually got quite used to thinking about what to write about each day, and now there was no subject supplied, I couldn't think what to write about even though I wanted to keep posting more regularly. I've had a few ideas though, so let's see if I can bring them to fruition!

Last weekend I managed to fit quite a bit of exercise in. On Friday night after work I cycled up to the ski club from B's house. After the very long, grey, drizzly and miserable spell (can a spell be long?), we finally had a taste of summer and it was lovely to be out on the bike in the early evening sunshine. I got to the ski club a little before the end of the race session so cycled along the river that I normally only see in winter time. It was glorious - lots of birds, many of them with young. The goslings were so cute! No photos, apart from this one, which was my treat after cycling 17 miles:

On Saturday we had to get a few things done so it wasn't till mid afternoon that I got on the bike. Earlier in the week I had been back to the Bike It! website run by South Norfolk council, where you can find 8 or 9 bike routes of varying lengths. I have done quite a few of them in the past and very much enjoyed them, so decided to tackle one which I hadn't done before. It was a 5 or 6 mile ride to the start point though, plus 23 miles without detours (or getting lost!), and another 5 or 6 miles back - which would take me several hours. I really lacked motivation as I got on the bike and during the first mile or so I almost turned around to go back home. But I ignored the 'negative voice in my head' (best fitness advice I've ever read!) and carried on, and when I returned just before 7pm with 32 miles under my belt, I was glad I had made the effort. A few photos:

 Shimpling Church, just north of Diss

 Burston Church

 Burston Strike School

 A hedgerow find! No, I didn't bring it home...

 Frenze Church - no longer in use but still beautiful

On Sunday, B. had a ski race in Milton Keynes and left at 4.30 in the morning. After catching up on a little sleep I returned home and fetched parttime dog for a decent walk out. I'd printed off a walk that started off in Hartest, a pretty little village a little south of me. It didn't disappoint - hills, painted Suffolk houses, history, a lovely church and glorious sunshine - what more can a walker and a dog ask for?

 Hartest Green

 Sheep and lambs at Giffords Vineyard

 That white blur is parttime dog wondering why I'm not following close behind

 Rape fields - almost past their best

 A neglected little house in a farm yard

 Holy Trinity at Boxted

 There'd been a wedding the day before, the flowers were still up

 Stunning roof

 Try and work that one out... (someone said it was brother and sister who married sister and brother)

 The church is full of history about a local family, the Poleys and the Weller-Poleys. Allegedly, they were the inspiration for the nursery rhyme A frog he would a-wooing go.

 Boxted Hall, a private hotel

 A scratch dial - an early form of sundial which would indicate the times of services

The village sign at Hartest

A lovely walk, just over 6 miles long due to getting lost a little trying to find the church - even my legs were getting tired by now, and parttime dog was struggling a little on the hills. I've given him a couple of days' rest to recover...