Tuesday, January 5, 2021

New Year, new lockdown!

The whole nation is back in lockdown again. It had a certain inevitability about it really didn't it; people partying in huge groups with no social distancing, others just going about their lives as if everything was just how it had been before we heard the word 'Covid', the 'deny it all' brigade, the anti-vaccination front etc etc. 

With both of us being in the co-called 'vulnerable' group we've been 'shielding' since before the first lockdown so little has changed in relation to how we live. It just seems a lot more scary now with the new variant rampaging through the land. My heart goes out to those people who live alone, it must be unbearable. I keep in contact with friends via Social Media/Zoom which has helped enormously but it's still not the same as face-to-face contact with hugs!

Let's hope the vaccination programme goes smoothly.

As I mentioned Zoom I must share this cartoon which is so appropropriate in our household. It was sent to  me after a rather serious Zoom call during which Shelley kept making an appearance having rattled the door until she got in. When I shut her out of the room all you could hear was howling and scratching! Thankfully the rather senior dementia expert leading the discussion is a cat lover so understood the problem.

I felt rather guilty when I wrote that as it feels wrong to be jolly now doesn't it when so many people have lost their lives.

One of my nursing friends, the lovely Karen seen here in happier times when I'd just completed my 100th marathon, is living with 'Long Covid'. She is a senior MacMillan cancer nurse and in the first wave 2 of her staff were seconded to help with patients suffering from covid. They both lost their lives. Karen is still off work after many months.

The husband of another friend posted a photo of his beautiful wife in full protective clothing as she headed off for another 12 hour shift in the ICU. I found it incredibly moving but I won't show it here as it was a very personal snap taken by her worried but very proud husband.

Our nursing staff are angels and those people who have ignored the rules and made this dreadful situation even worse should be ashamed of themselves. This poem was posted in our Neighbourhood network recently and I think it's worth sharing:

Finally, and this is my last mention of the pandemic for now, the words of Arundhati Roy really resonated with me:

Right, let's put that aside for a while and have a catch-up!

I said goodbye to 2020 in an unusual way, which seemed rather appropriate. I've done plenty of marathons on New Years Day but I've never done anything on NYEve so when Rik announced his latest event I thought, yep, that sounds OK to me. It was called the New Year Chaser and I'll let Rik explain it{

Think you could run 1 mile, on the hour, every hour, for 6 or more hours - maybe up to 27 hours?. Well, here's an endurance challenge with a difference because starting at 10am UK time we're going to literally chase the New Year's Eve celebrations around the globe, by running 1 mile on the hour every hour and welcoming in each New Year around the planet; beginning with Samoa & Christmas Island and finishing with Baker and Howland Islands, the outlaying US. We're going to virtually take you around the world from New Zealand, to Australia, through the Far East, Europe, London, South America and the USA and each hour we'll run another mile and welcome in another New Year in yet another country! 

Well that piqued my interest and after Mike's eye-roll and agreement I signed up with a view to completing 12 hours with some runs outside and some on the treadmill. It was a unique experience and great fun with huge respect to those doing the 27 hours. I recorded my 1st, halfway and last times on the treddy and was rather surprised that I got faster!

Just before dark I did a lap of the land to check on the sheep and took a couple of photos as a reminder:

Having finished at 10pm it was time to break open the champagne which was most welcome!

Then the next morning it was back out for another challenge, to run every day in January, which I do every year. This time I decided to cut my mileage down - I couldn't believe it when I totalled my mileage for 2020 - it was 3123 miles, mostly virtual ultras/marathons!!! My highest annual mileage ever. So I'm doing 5k a day with a view to getting some speed back into these old legs, not that I've ever really been speedy.

Time for a knitting update. I'm really enjoying Snowy Forest and have just finished the cabled section on the yoke, with plenty of help from Shelley of course.

First there was the swatching. I started with the 4ply together with a black mohair, then a blue mohair, but the fabric was too flimsy and didn't get the correct gauge so I tried the blue and black together but didn't like the colour although the fabric was perfect. Having rummaged around in my stash I found a light grey mohair and it combined beautifully with the 4ply and the black mohair (centre swatch).

It matched my pinafore dress......

.....and Shelley!

My old cardigan is very useful when using a cable needle. When I thought about it I realised that this was the first cardigan I made using an alpaca mix yarn and it must be over 30 years old as I made it when we lived in our flat in greater London, and there's still no pilling!

I wish you all a safe and healthy 2021, wherever you are in the world. Take care and let's beat this virus.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Pre-Christmas catch-up

I'm really struggling to get back into blogging at the moment as it's always been my happy place and there really isn't much happiness around just now and even my positivity is feeling rather drained. So to try to inject some joy into things I'll attempt to do an update of allsorts, in no particular order.

Here's a selection of some of the virtual running events I've completed since April. There are several more medals still sitting in our quarantine zone as we have got into the habit of quarantining all letter and parcels, just to be on the safe side. It's a real mish-mash of events from multi-day events lasting for a month, marathons & ultra-marathons run all in one go and ultra marathon events spread over a number of days or weeks.

I've really enjoyed the sense of community in the long-distance ultras. It all started with a Centurion event during the first lockdown when I ran 50 miles over 5 days to earn the wooden medal on the left. The next one I did was the West Highland Way which was 95 miles completed over 7 days but with no bling this time!

I had great fun doing the M25 Vultra (ie 'Virtual' ultra) which was Rik's excellent idea for us to cover the actual length of the M25 motorway in our own respective areas. That was 117 miles which I completed in 23 hours over a couple of weeks but my favourite of his was the 'Lockdown Vultra' which he named 28 days later, after the last lockdown, and I managed to cover my highest monthly mileage ever, 424.86 mile, claiming my place as 2nd lady!

This was a favourite too; LeJog ie completing the infamous journey from Land's End to John o'Groats, which was a  total of 874 miles. You had 12 months in which to complete the distance and I managed to sneak in at 12.5 weeks so was very pleased with that!

Each time you logged your mileage you could see yourself progressing along the map and if you clicked on each section you would see photos of the area you were passing through:

They sent virtual postcards along the way to highlight interesting features we'd be passing in the real world and that made it interesting:

When we'd finished we got a nice tee shirt and a medal:

Shelley doesn't look very impressed though!

It was a fun event with many people, of all abilities, taking on the challenge either walking or running and there was a great community on Facebook.

I then went on to complete another of their events, crossing the distance of the Pennine Way along with the Centurion 100 mile event for which I received a small version of their real-life buckle. I was supposed to running their South Downs Way 100 mile event this year as part of my fund-raising but like so many other events it was cancelled.

In knitting news I've finished and blocked Aubade and it's gorgeous, so light but warm. I'd decided to finish the hem and sleeves with an i-cord edging but after I'd done the first sleeve I found I'd made it too tight so I had to undo it and make it looser. I did this by inserting my needle into the row before the start of the i-cord and just snipped it off and started again. It was surprisingly simple to do and I'm so glad I did as it's perfect now.

Right now I'm swatching for  'Snowy Forest' from Laine magazine 10 using a pairing of Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply, one of my favourite yarns, and Rowan Kidsilk Haze from my stash:

I'm quite excited by this latest rendering from Laine as there are several things I will definitely be making including Skog (using a gorgeous green yarn from Biches et Buches), Breukelen & Dyyni. All of those should keep me occupied during the latest lockdown - we're in Tier 3 here in East Sussex and I suspect we'll be in lockdown for a long time now.

It feels rather strange that I haven't crocheted anything this year, especially as I'm a much more proficient crocheter than knitter! I just didn't feel like it.

Today I've been busy making Pannetone along with some Seville orange marmalade, which is a tradition for the day before Christmas Eve and we will be sampling them tomorrow. The pannetone is in the oven now.

Orange peel ready for marmalade

Chopped, candied peel for the pannetone

A homemade collar to to encourage it to rise well and protect it as it bakes

I still have many photos of Nature and wildlife to upload but I'll save them for next time and leave you with a photo of my beautiful orchid, Dendrobium Nobile, which I haven't managed to kill yet - I don't have a good track record with orchids! Plus the Xmas lights on one of the houses in our village that I took when doing one of my early morning runs.

Stay safe everyone.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Making a start!

I've been feeling a bit meh today, not settling to anything so decided I'd start catching up on the blog at last! 

Here are 2 of the many projects I've completed in recent months:

Saitama by Martn Storey I fell in love with this pretty little lace cardigan as soon as I saw it on Pinterest. In my first post earlier in the year I was already well into the project and it really didn't take too long to finish after I'd memorised the charts. Please excuse the photos as Mike wasn't around when I decided I had to do this!

This is the closest to the actual colour, a pretty pastel pink

I love the heart motif and I found these pretty little buttons with irridescent colours at Tangled Yarn but I think they're out of stock now.

It's a perfect fit and so warm despite being very light in weight.

Next we have this gorgeous 'Ramble' jumper by Irene Lin and lovecrafts.com had a kit available and I just had to have it!

It's knit using Hudson Worsted which is a gorgeous yarn to work with; so soft and easy on the fingers and very, very warm. It was lovely to work with some thicker yarn for a change and I completed it in less than 2 weeks.

There are some nice details around the v-neck to keep me interested and they were repeated around the hem.

I really love the flared cuffs with their pretty pattern

On the needles at present I've got Aubade from Pompom which I'm knitting to try and use up my huge stash of pink kidsilk haze!

I found it a rather irritating knit to begin with as the start, at the neckline, was fiddlesome with such thin yarn but once the yoke progressed I enjoyed it a bit more. I've just got one more sleeve to go then I'll think about how I'll finish the hem/neckline/sleeve edges where I'm thinking about adding an i-cord edges as they seem to be curling up as it's so lightweight. 

It's very pretty though and looks great when worn - I've been trying it on throughout to get the length right as some versions I've seen have been either too long or too short and not very flattering for a fuller figure!

Shelley inspecting!

Finally for now, a bit of embroidery for Christmas. 

Mum and I always used to make a few new decorations for the Christmas tree each year and I've carried on that tradition. I spotted this sweet little kit from Nancy Nicholson, who lives in a village nearby, and ordered it to help pass  some more hours in lockdown.

They're made of 2 pieces of felt with a rubber insert sandwiched inside and you can decorate them however you like, one side or both, and there are some suggestions included along with some basic stitch techniques.

Wherever you are in the world, at this strange and scary time, I hope that you are safe and well and please take extra care as this virus is still not under control.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Where do I begin?

What a year this has been. Everything so very different. Scary news every day. Information and misinformation abounding. It's all completely overwhelming isn't it.

I've tried to write another blog post several times but kept giving up 'cos it just seemed irrelevant and overwhelming.

There's been lots of knitting and crafting but I will have to spend ages taking photos to get up to date with all that. Thanks to the plethora of so-called 'virtual' events, my running has kept me sane and I've run many more miles than usual this year despite not being able to take part in any real-life events.

I've also just finished my 3rd wave this year of the Six Pack Revolution - I'd originally only signed up for the January wave to get me ready for the running challenges I had planned but when everything went wrong and Covid took hold I just did another wave and then another. Suffice to say my fitness levels aren't too shabby as a result!

I have hundreds of photos to share - wildlife/Nature/plants/the garden/Shelley/views from my runs and I just don't know where to start so I'll have to plunge right in and get something down or I'll never catch up. 

I'm hoping that sharing these few photos with you on here will encourage me to start writing again.

Early morning mists from my runs

Stunning sunsets

Shelley's antics

Part of the front garden renovation project

Mrs Duck and babies

Gorgeous mohair cardigan

The must-have necessary accessory du jour!

I'm hoping that posting this will make me want to share some more. In the meantime, stay safe everyone.