Friday, 25 March 2011

Not So Much A "Ta-Dah!"...

... more of an "um, there you go"...

I think I've finished my flat circle. I didn't have much to do on it really - I wanted to finish it with a couple of rounds of white, and I was going to put a fancy border on it, but I've now decided to leave it without. That way I might be able to add a few more rounds at a later date, although if I'm really honest with myself, I probably won't!

I've just had a go at trying to iron it flat, which is why it's laid on a towel. I probably should've tried blocking it, although I'm not sure even that would get the 'waviness' out of it (is waviness a word?). And it's not exactly 'circular' is it? It's got edges...

I think I was getting a bit fed up with it towards the end, which seems to be a recurring theme with me. I really need to find something special to do, something that I'll really enjoy and won't get bored with, and something that I'll take a bit more pride in. I love the colours in this circle, but I can't say that I really love 'it'. I almost wish I'd saved the yarn for something more than just another cat blanket - most of it was either yarn I'd been given, or which had come free with the knitting magazine that I subscribe to, but some of it is lovely and it's a shame it's going to get 'clawed' to bits! Oh well.

Here it is, with and without the flash:








Hmmm...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Nice Day For A Walk...

Hello! Another lovely sunny day here in West Yorkshire, so I thought it would be a good idea to go for a walk. I came across a website the other day which listed walks in the area, one of which was Fewston Reservoir, just off the A59, not far from Harrogate. It said it was a nice, mostly level path all the way around, staying near to the water's edge for most of it, which sounded easy enough. I've driven past it lots of times, but never actually stopped, so I suggested it to CJ and he was game on, so off we went.

It didn't start too well when we got out at what we thought was Fewston, but, after asking a passerby, turned out to be Swinsty, which is another reservoir right next to it (in fact, I believe Fewston 'overflows' into Swinsty). Back in the car and a short drive along the road brought us to the correct car park. The sun was beating down and there was a cool, but not cold, breeze which was very welcoming. We crossed the road from the car park and followed the red waymark arrows down to the path. Incidentally, the reservoir is maintained by Yorkshire Water, and if you visit their website you can find lots more activities that they offer, such as cycle routes, fishing, watersports, wildlife etc. We'd printed off a map and directions, but once we started the walk we didn't need them as the red arrows are clearly marked and it was a very straightforward route.

This was just as we started, looking back towards the dam wall:


and looking the other way:


a bunch of tiny daffodils (don't know if they have a more technical name ;-):




I'm not too sure of the name of this church, I think it might be St Andrew's, and it's at Blubberhouses (what a strange name! Wikipedia says there are several suggestions as to it's origins):


At this end of the reservoir, the peace and tranquility is shattered for a while by the close proximity of the A59:


but as you continue the traffic noise quickly fades away and you're left with the sound of the birds in the trees, and the ducks and geese out on the water:



A bit further on, the path rises up slightly to a great lookout point, with a very welcome bench! We sat here for a few minutes and let the breeze cool us down:



Finally, the home stretch, walking back along the dam wall, towards the overflow in the corner:







According to the Yorkshire Water guide, it's 3.9 miles all the way around, so a decent stretch (for someone like me, who's not used to it!), and we couldn't have asked for a nicer day!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Suggestions...

Hi again!

Just a quick post to ask for your help please. So far my only real experience of buying yarn has been a few trigger-happy bids on Ebay, and I've been thinking that I really could do with finding some decent shops, either online or that I could visit in person. But I don't know where to start! I reckon you can't beat word of mouth though, so if you know of any good shops I would really appreciate it if you could let me know in the comments section (unless they're so good you want to keep them to yourself!). If they have a website, I'll post a link to them in the column on the right.


Thank you!!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Spring Has Sprung!!

Hello, and happy second day of Spring! I hope all is well with you, wherever you are!

I'm on annual leave from work this week (lucky me!) and as the sun was shining this morning I thought I'd go for a walk. I don't often go anywhere on my own like that; usually CJ and I go together. He's on leave this week too, but he had to go and get some new tyres for his car and I didn't really want to wait until he got back in case the nice weather didn't last, so off I went on my own.

There's a reservoir not too far from me (far enough that I have to drive there though) that has a lovely easy path all the way around it. We've been a couple of times before and thought it was very pleasant, so I thought I'd head for there. I took my mp3 player to listen to - I've always liked walking to music (it reminds me of walking through the fields to school listening to my walkman, not that school has particularly happy memories, but the walking bit does...) I digress! So I set off at a brisk pace on the reservoir path. I wanted to enjoy the walk but I also wanted to feel the benefit from a health point of view, which is why I tried to keep up a steady pace rather than just dawdling along. I was wearing a thin fleece jacket over a t-shirt, but the jacket soon came off because it was so warm in the sunshine. There was quite a cool breeze blowing off the water, but it was very welcoming. I stopped on the dam wall side of the reservoir to take a few photos, but the rest of the way round I was just concentrating on the walk. Apparently it's 1.3 miles all the way round; I'm sure that's nothing to most people, but I'm afraid I'm not as fit or active as I should be, so it's plenty for me, for now! I must admit I was glad to get back in the car and have a few gulps of water (probably should've taken my water bottle with me). I was shattered... but in a good way!!

Anyway, here are the photos. I only had my mobile with me, and I couldn't see the screen properly as it was so bright, so I just had to hope that they came out ok:


As I said, it was very sunny, although it doesn't look like it here. The sun was coming from my right side, but nearly in front, in other words, I was nearly facing into it when I took these, so I guess it's affected the pictures a bit. The tall 'spike' in the distance (between the two pylons) is Emley Moor Mast.




And looking to my left, this is the reservoir:



All in all, a nice morning's walk!

... Several hours later...

CJ came home just as I finished typing the above, and after a quick cup of tea we headed out for a drive. We were actually going to go for this drive yesterday evening, but we'd only gone a few miles when he got a flat tyre. Luckily we were on a fairly quiet country lane so he could get on with changing the wheel there and then. He was having trouble getting it off though, and just then an old-ish chap walked past and asked if he was ok. CJ told him what the problem was and the old guy suggested he pump his brakes a few times to see if that helped, but it didn't. Then he said that it really needed pushing from the other side, so CJ got on the ground and kind of gave it a kick from behind, and off it flew. He thanked the man, who said "no problem, I used to be a tyre fitter, y'see" and then continued on his way. What are the chances?

Anyway, we tried again this afternoon and I took my camera but we didn't really stop anywhere so no photos unfortunately. Basically, we pick a few villages in a rough circle using a map, and then put them in the sat nav, selecting the 'shortest distance' and 'avoid motorway' options. When we get to the first village, we put the next one in and so on. It's a good way of getting to see some places that you've maybe never been to before, and going the shortest distance tends to take you along all the little quiet country lanes rather than the main A roads, which is much nicer, especially on a lovely sunny day like today. We didn't go far really; up into North Yorkshire for a bit, and near the outskirts of York, and then back via Tadcaster, where we called into a pub for an evening meal. CJ had salmon with mushroom taglietelle, I had a chicken and mushroom pasta in a creamy chive sauce. Both meals were quite nice, but they seemed to be very oily/greasy, and I couldn't finish mine because of that. I hadn't eaten anything since my breakfast so I was glad of something to fill the gap, but I don't think we'll go back to that particular pub.

I'm sorry about the lack of crochet just lately, I haven't picked up my hook in a long while. I don't know how you find the time! It's not as if I lead a busy life, or have a family to look after! I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately, which might be partly why I haven't got around to any crochet. I've just finished the first book in the Twilight saga, and am now a few chapters into the second. I'm surprised to find that I'm quite enjoying them. If these books (and films) had been around when I was an impressionable 14 year old or thereabouts, I can imagine that it might have started a lifelong obsession with vampires, and I'm certain that I would've been forever 'Team Edward'! But I guess I'm a little bit old for that now, so I'm just enjoying them for what they are. (Actually, if anything I might've been 'Team Carlisle' - hello the actor who plays him!)



Anyway, I'm going to go now. CJ is in the process of replastering our stairs; he's just been doing some drilling and a huge cloud of dust has just billowed into the living room (where I am) so I'm a bit worried about the ol' laptop! Think I'll put it away for a while!!


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Celebrity In Our Midst!!

If you're anything like me, you probably have a certain few websites that you visit on a regular basis. One of mine that I try to check every day is www.cuteoverload.com, which is just photo after photo of cute animals. Definitely a good pick-me-up if you're feeling a bit down for any reason (unless you're not an animal lover, in which case it probably won't have any effect).

Anyway, I checked it this evening and was completely gobsmacked but absolutely chuffed to bits to see this - my Mischief is famous!! I must've submitted this photo two or three years ago, and as it never appeared I assumed that they didn't think it was 'cute' enough, which I was a bit miffed about! But now I think they get so many emails that it's probably taken them this long to get to it!! Just to explain, this is Mischief sitting on the windowsill of a cottage on the Isle of Skye. He was probably only about 6 months old, and it was the first time we'd taken him on holiday with us. He was really good all week, and treated the cottage like a home-from-home. He loved racing up and down the stairs, and obviously enjoyed watching the sheep out of the window too!

So now I need to find a cute photo of Millie (shouldn't be difficult) and send that in to them in the hope that they'll publish it, just to be fair. I wouldn't want her to feel left out!

Friday, 11 March 2011

A Couple Of Things...

... that I can't get my head around at the moment.

Firstly (and that's in the order of when these things happened, not of importance), you may or may not know that there is currently an Ebay auction running called TwitRelief, which is raising money for Comic Relief. There are about 145 lots, I believe, which are 'fronted' by a celebrity / well-known person. The Twitter part of it comes in by way of them promising that they will follow the winning bidder on Twitter for 90 days (more if they choose to), and they will also retweet a message by that person, and also 'mention' them by their username. The majority of the auction lots, however, are also throwing in extras of the 'money-can't-buy' variety (well, it can, if you bid for it). There are things like a walk-on part in the next Richard Curtis movie, a chance to watch Dave Lamb record the narration of Come Dine With Me, tea in the House of Commons, signed scripts from various tv shows and so on, you get the idea.

The thing that I can't get my head around, is that all of this has been quite widely criticised on Twitter, and therefore in the media too. It's raising money for charity - how can it possibly be a bad thing? No one is getting hurt, used or abused, so where's the harm? I think one argument is that it isn't for the likes of most 'normal' folk, because they can't afford it (quite a lot of the highest bids are well over £1000 by now). Well, yeah, I guess for a lot of people that's true. But so what? Is it the end of the world that you can't bid to spend a day with Kirstie and Phil from Location, Location? I can't afford to bid on most of them, and the ones that are still low enough, I don't really want to bid on anyway. I'm not going to lose sleep over it. Clearly there are lots of people who can afford them though, and is it weird of me to actually be happy for those people, and glad that they are in a position to give that kind of money away? Because that's how I feel when I check in and see the bids getting higher and higher - I don't feel jealous or bitter, I just get a "good for you!" punch-the-air kind of feeling, and I hope that a) it makes tons of money for charity and b) that the winner really enjoys their prize.

I don't know, maybe there are deeper issues here, and I'm the first to admit that I'm not a very deep thinker! I just don't know why people are so critical of something that's raising money for charity. I think some people have suggested that the celebs should just donate some money themselves instead of taking part in what some see as an 'ego-stroking' exercise. Who's to say they haven't donated some money already though? And also, this is Comic Relief - the clue is in the title. There are lots of serious campaigns out there who simply tell you the facts and ask you to donate - Comic Relief decided to do things a bit differently, and try to raise money through humour. That doesn't make the cause any less important or serious though. So if you can afford to bid in the auction - go for it, and good luck. If not, donate by some other means, but don't have a go at the ones who can afford to give a bit more.

The other thing I can't get my head around today, is the awful Japanese earthquake and tsunami. By 'can't get my head around' I mean that I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to experience that, and I hope I never do. I don't even really know what to say about it, how do you express what you feel when you see such utter destruction? I know there have been lots of natural disasters lately around the world, like the floods in Australia and the recent earthquake in New Zealand. They are no less serious or upsetting as this one, and my heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by all of these events. I watched some footage of the tsunami on the evening news, and it was literally jaw-dropping - Mother Nature at her most terrifying. It makes me feel very small, very humble.

I hope you and yours are safe, happy and healthy, wherever you are.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Just Catching Up...

Hello there! I hope you're well, and that March has started off lovely and spring-like for you!

Once again, it's a Friday and I'm on annual leave, so here I am with another blog post. Since I don't get chance to blog every day, I try to make a list of the things I want to write about otherwise I'd forget them, but even though I've done that, I still feel like I'm not going to remember everything. Oh well, I'll see how it goes!

Firstly, I've got my monthly garden photos to show you. I've seen a few blogs where people are either doing something like this, or at least taking a photo of their garden on a particularly sunny day, or when it was deep in snow, that kind of thing. Some of these gardens are huuuge, and I've got a little bit of an inferiority complex about ours now! I know I shouldn't feel like that, I should just be grateful that we've got one. I suppose taking a monthly photo of the garden was a strange thing for me to do, because I don't really have any input in it. As I've said before, it's definitely CJ's domain. I sometimes think that I should try and get into gardening and take more interest in it - I'm sure CJ would love it if I did - but I just don't think I'm cut out for it really. You can't force yourself to be something you're not, can you? I keep trying to persuade him to have more flowers in the garden - my latest suggestion was some tubs on the patio, so that it doesn't interfere with his veg plot - but he didn't look too taken with the idea. That's kind of him all over though - he's only interested in things that are practical, not having something just for the sake of it looking nice. That's not a criticism, I'm just saying that that's how he is. So although I'm kind of regretting the monthly garden photo idea, I guess I might as well stick with it, so here they are:







CJ hasn't really started doing anything with the veg plot yet, which may be partly due to him being distracted by his new allotment! I think things are starting to look a bit greener though, and I especially like these two, which are probably the brightest green in the garden at the moment:



The top one is chives, the bottom one is sorrel. So that's the garden for another month!

Last weekend I decided I wanted to make some soup to take to work for my lunch, so we went shopping on Sunday afternoon for a few ingredients. I also bought some tulips and daffodils, which are still looking lovely five days later:




Currently brightening up my kitchen windowsill!

As for the soup, I made some cream of mushroom, and if I say so myself, it was delicious!! The recipe said it served four, so I divided it into four and froze the portions, which worked out just right since I was only working four days this week. I have to say though, the portion sizes were tiny, or at least it seemed so to me. Using a normal sized soup spoon, I bet I could've eaten it in 5 or 6 spoonfuls - does that seem right to you? I must admit, one of the reasons I'm not a skinny minnie is because my portion sizes are probably too big, so maybe the soup portion is normal and I'm just not used to it? In fact, last week I made a gorgeous chicken, mushroom and broccoli risotto, from a British Heart Foundation recipe ( so it must be healthy, I thought). It said it served 4-6, but basically CJ and I split it in half and ate it for our tea that night, and I'd have said it was just enough. So either we're both really greedy (entirely possible) or the BHF's portion sizes are a bit small. Perhaps that's how they get away with saying it's healthy, because you only have about five mouthfuls?!

It did get me thinking about what I eat, and how much, and I wondered if it would be possible to eat the recommended / suggested portion on certain foods. One of my guilty pleasures is cereal - I could quite easily live on cereal, and some days I've had a bowl for breakfast, a bowl for lunch and a bowl for tea, and nothing else all day. But I must admit, I do like quite a big bowlful, with lots of milk. So last weekend I decided to have their suggested portion. If you look in the nutrition table where they tell you how many calories etc is in the product, they'll probably have a column 'per 100g' and then a 'per serving' which, in the case of my cereal, was 40g of cereal with 100ml of milk. So I measured it all out and yep, basically we're talking another 4 or 5 mouthfuls situation! I've kept up with it every morning though, although from the second day I decided to eat it with a teaspoon to make it last longer! I know I do sound like I'm just being greedy, and I probably am. The thing that gets me though is that we're told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but there's no way that a little bowl of cereal like that will keep me going till lunchtime. I have my breakfast at 5.30am, and lunch is at 12pm - 6 and a half hours on 5 spoonfuls of cereal?

I knew I'd end up snacking in between, so I made some granola. I don't think it was perfect, but it wasn't bad for my first attempt, and at least having a square of that mid-morning meant I stayed away from the biscuit tin. Then I had my tiny bowl of mushroom soup for dinner, which wouldn't have been enough if I hadn't taken a breadcake to dip in, and then (if still a bit peckish) another square of granola mid-afternoon. You know, writing it all down like that, I do think that my main problem is that I just eat too much! Do you feel the need to snack through the day, or can you last from breakfast to lunch to tea?

Anyhoo, what else? Ooh yes, reading. One of my 'intentions' for this year was to try and read more - in fact, it was at least one book per month, but preferably more. I don't think I'd started a book before my birthday when I got my Kindle, and since then I've read (on the Kindle) a collection of short 'ghost' stories by MR James, which were quite good, and another one called Ghost Story by Peter Straub, which was a bit of a letdown. Although I really enjoy reading on the Kindle, I wanted to get back to reading a 'proper' book too, so I started this one last night:



I'm sure I've mentioned in earlier posts how much I love Scotland, especially the Highlands/West Coast but my knowledge of the country - it's history, geography, people - is next to zero, so I feel it's only right that I should learn about it. I'm only a few pages into the book, and although I was quite tired when I was reading it, first impressions are that it's well-written and easy to follow and I'm hoping to learn an awful lot from it. I've got quite a few other books about certain moments in Scottish history - the Highland Clearances, Culloden, Glencoe etc - which I'll either read alongside it when Mr Magnusson gets to those parts, or after I've finished.

However, a few nights before I started this one, I also started a new Kindle novel:


Yes, I've finally succumbed, years after everyone else, to the Twilight series. Well, the first one at least. If I enjoy it I'll carry on with the others. I've seen the films so far (CJ is the fan, not me) - I don't know when the next one is out, but I'm hoping to have read that book before we see the film. So I better get a wriggle on!

Did I mention that I was going to try and take part in Facebook Free February? I'm sure I did. Well, I stuck with it for the whole month, which really amazed me! I was sure I wouldn't last, and there were a few moments when I really wanted to pop back on, especially around the time of Arcade Fire winning the Grammy and the Brits. But I resisted, and stayed away for the whole 28 days! Of course, I was straight back on there on the 1st March!

Anyway, typing is getting difficult now because a certain little black cat has jumped on my lap and keeps nudging my hands and trying to lick my chin - something tells me he wants some attention! On the plus side, every time he turns around his big brush of a tail dusts my laptop screen for me! So I guess I better go!

Bye for now!

P.S. If you watched the video below and signed the petition to help save our Children's Heart Surgery Unit - thank you very much. Your support is appreciated more than you know.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Ooh, what's this??

After nipping out of the office for a few minutes this morning, when I came back in, this box had appeared on my desk:


What's this, I wonder?

I opened it up to see this vision of beauty:




I'm not sure if the bit of green icing was meant to be there or if it had been dribbled on by mistake. It was no detriment though.

Part of my job is to act as a mentor to the trainees in our department, and one of them had bought me this lovely cupcake "to let you know you're appreciated" - how nice is that??

And get this, the flavour was Geranium and Cherry!!! You may have come across these before (I think it was from Waitrose) but I haven't so I was very impressed.

In fact, this is how impressed I was:

Gulp. All gone.

Dee-lish!
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