Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Back to Oregon & Bodiam under water (again!)

Looking at those beautiful Chagall windows gave me the idea of how to make the scarf for my benefactor.

I remembered that I'd still got some wool left over from the first time I ran the London marathon whilst knitting, in 2007, as we'd laden me up like a pack mule having had no idea how much yarn I would actually use! This gorgeous multi-coloured yarn was one of them and it inspired me to knit a stripey garter stitch scarf.

The lovely thing is that although this scarf was knitted after the marathon, all the yarns it is made from completed the marathon with me!

It's actually much longer than the one I knitted back in 2007 and measures 2.33m (7'8") but is narrower at 6". I just cast on 300 stitches and knit back and forth changing the colour each row.

I think it looks rather jolly and I really hope he likes it. Of course I had to try it on before I went for my run this morning. It's now winging its way to its new owner.

The little baby cardigan is now complete as well and I was rather pleased with it as it came from my head and not from a pattern. I just hope it fits as they say that pride comes nefore a fall!

At last I have finished knitting gifts and can pick up the poor neglected Oregon cardigan and get it finished!

The next batch of photos show parts of Bodiam following the heavy rains of the last few days. The first one is taken from by the railway crossing, looking towards the Castle Inn. The water is covering almost all the field. I love the reflections of the houses in the water.

I don't think they'll be playing football on the pitch this weekend!

This shows the level of the water against the little bridge that crosses the river Rother. We have seen it even higher than that in the past. The river is about 3 times its normal width.

It's easy to forget that this is not an isolated event as you can see from the photo I took of Bodiam in January 2008!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On a clear day

On the one clear day we have had recently, two lovely people came to meet us. I'd like to introduce Paul and Sarah who we will be seeing a lot more of over the next few months. Just after Christmas Paul contacted the Alzheimer's Research Trust to find out my contact details. He was planning to do some fund-raising for them and whilst searching their website he'd come across details of my extreme knitting antics. This gave him an idea which he shared with me. In the words of Mr Baldrick, he had a cunning plan!

As you can imagine, it is a wacky idea and we weren't even sure if we could do it and so, after many emails flying back and forth, Paul and Sarah came to meet us so we could explore the idea further.

I can't reveal exactly what we're planning just yet so you'll just have to be patient. Suffice to say, it's somewhat unusual, challenging, will require a great deal of training and organisation and should hopefully catch the ever-open eye of the media to gain maximum publicity for the charity and raise much needed funds.

Watch this space!

Sadly the next day wasn't as nice and the rain and wind came back. I couldn't face another run on the treadmill, especially as I had 10 miles to run so I just had to get wet! When Mike took this photo upon my return he wondered why I was standing in the puddle. I replied that it was as good a place as any as I was soaked through any way. The photo really doesn't show the rain dripping off me, but it was!

Last but not least we have some more publicity from the scarf in Running Fitness magazine using my favourite photo taken by Michelle from the Alzheimer's Research Trust.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Of Chagall, running and some knitting

There is a little church in the village of Tudeley that we have been meaning to visit for some time now and so we headed out to find it on Saturday. The church of All Saints is one of only 2 in the world that has all of its stained glass windows designed by none other than Marc Chagall who also happens to be one of my favourite artists.

From the outside it is not an attractive church, having a rather ugly square bell tower which you can see in this photo but the side entrance is much nicer.

We were very fortunate in that the sun was streaming through the windows and really showed off the amazing colours in the glass. The inside of the church is very plain and provides a perfect backdrop for the windows.

I'd often wondered how Chagall came to design the windows in a small Kentish chapel. Apparently Sarah d-Avigdor Goldsmid and her mother, who lived nearby, had seen an exhibition of his stained glass works in the Louvre in 1961 and fell in love with them.

Sadly, Sarah d’Avigdor Goldsmid was drowned, off the coast in Rye, when only 21 years old and her parents commissioned the window in the East in her memory. This first window was installed in 1967 and the remaining windows were commissioned gradually over the years up until Chagall's death in 1985.

The symbolism of 'Death and Resurrection' is used throughout - in the lower half you can see Sarah lying dead in the sea with grieving figures looking on and higher up you see a ladder leading to heaven. You can read about the messages contained in all of the windows here.

We took photos of all the windows as they were so beautiful but I've just put a few more on here to give a feel for them.

You can see photos of all of them here. I love his colours - the blues are so deep and jewel-like and the yellows glowed golden with the sun streaming through.

All of Chagall's favourite images are there - the ass, the birds, butterflies. I defy anyone to feel sad when gazing upon a painting by Chagall as they are truly joyful, even when exploring a sad subject.

On Sunday I did a mid-length training run of 10 miles at my target marathon pace - ie 10 minute miling. It's been a while since I've done this speed so I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, especially as it's rather hilly on the route I chose.

The weather forecast had been for strong gales and torrential rain so I was relieved when it was just the wind that turned up. Unfortunately I didn't gain any benefit from the wind as it was always either blowing from the side or I was running into it.

The good news is that I managed to keep my pace for the full 10 miles so I was very pleased.

Of course I had to take a couple of photos though! The first one is a view I often stop to admire. It is taken from the top of Sempstead Lane, looking towards Great Dixter, former home of the late Christopher Lloyd, a brilliant plantsman and one of my heros - I wrote to him when I was 7 years old asking for advice on choosing the correct manure for my rhubarb! Yes, he did reply and I was really excited that he had taken the time to write back to me.

The next one amused me and is probably of no interest to anyone but me. As I was running along the road into Northiam village, a car sped past me causing the speed warning sign to illuminate. If you enlarge the photo and squint a bit, on the right hand side you will see a sign displaying "30mph Slow Down!" and I pretended that I was running so fast that I'd caused it to light up. Ah well, a girl can dream...........

Now for the knitting. My running chum, Val, has recently become a grandmother for the first time so I thought I'd knit something for the little 'un. I rummaged in my stash and found this pretty pink cotton/silk blend and the blue speckly Rowan yarn, Summer Tweed. As for the pattern, well I'm just making it up as I go along so I hope it turns out OK.

The other thing I'm doing is knitting a scarf for the kind person who bid on my Guinness World Record scarf and then let me keep it. I'd been thinking that it wasn't fair that he didn't get anything so I'm knitting him his own special scarf.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where does the time go?

I believe it is a sign of age that time seems to speed by without us noticing and we sometimes don't get round to doing things we said we'd do. Well mea culpa. Mea definitely culpa!

Just before Christmas, as I finished the knitted gifts and wrapped them ready for giving, I remember thinking that I must take photos and post them on my blog. Did I do it? Well obviously not. Also, I have not picked up the beautiful Oregon cardigan since the last time I photographed it as it was put aside in order to finish my gift knitting. This result of this rather long-winded explanation is that there is no knitting to show which is a shameful state of affairs and must be rectified forthwith!

In an attempt to draw attention away from my failings I've gathered together some photos taken over the last few weeks. I really do need to announce my next fund-raising activities too so more of that later.

On Christmas Day the horses were allowed some treats - Polo mints (sugar-free of course as they are both as old as the hills with teeth that need all the help they can get!).

Although they both love anything minty it is Esther who would trample over you to pick it from your pocket. She can't even wait until Mike gets close to her!

Kizzy is much more demure. You may notice that her rug is rather on the large size as I had to put her into one belonging to my elderly gelding as she managed to rip the surcingles off her own in a frenzied act of rolling in the mud. Horses just loved to roll.

These next photos were taken on a walk we did recently. We are blessed with a wonderful network of public footpaths and as I'm a Footpath Warden I like to take full advantage of them.

The last week has been very cold with very heavy frosts and most of the ponds were still frozen when we ventured out.

This is a view of a pond walking across towards Soggs. You can see that the water is still frozen solid.

I loved the colours and the way the trunk of the young silver birch gleamed in the low sunlight. There is such beauty in every season, even in decay.

I took this down in Bodiam, on a walk over to Salehurst, looking back towards Staplecross.

It was the linear feel of the scene that I liked as I could see it would translate well into a fabric collage embellished with embroidery.

Now, about those goals.

It would be easy to sit back on my laurels in 2009, using the uncertainties of the global economy as an excuse not to continue fund-raising for the Alzheimer's Research Trust. That coupled with the fact that I did not get a place in the London Marathon has meant that I have had to think long and hard about what to do this year. Granted, I will need to work harder to get publicity this year and even harder to persuade people to make donations but I know that every charity will need support this year as people tighten their belts.

Now just because something is difficult is no reason for not doing it and so this year is going to be even more of a challenge for me - I'm eschewing the multiple marathoning of the last 4 years in favour of............speed. I realised that the thing that would test me most of all would be to increase my speed over 3 race distances namely 10k, 1/2 marathon and marathon.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this is an easy option as I won't need to train as hard. Wrong! In marathon training I just plod along at my own comfortable pace and my body has adapted to the increase in mileage. The reason that an increase in speed will challenge me is that each time I have tried to go faster in the past I have injured something - both hamstrings, right calf, right quadricep, groin, lower back, both ankles, illiotibial band - I could go on! I've pulled, torn, ripped and strained parts of my body I didn't even know existed and kept my Physiotherapist in business.

I'm still in the process of finalising the target races but full details will appear on my new fund-raising page at Rapid Redhead as soon as possible. Training is going to be tough!

There is also something else that I may be involved in but I can't talk about it yet. Suffice to say that if it goes ahead then I suspect the publicity side of things will not be a problem.