Sunday, September 20, 2009

My penultimate 20 miler before Abingdon

Hoorah, hoorah, this morning I ran my penultimate 20 mile training run before I start to taper (ie cut down my weekly mileage) for the Abingdon marathon. Although the marathon is a road race and mostly flat, almost all my training routes are hilly so I reckon doing a 20 miler of hills should stand me in good stead to produce a faster time on a flat route (fingers crossed anyway).

Was the weather kind to me? Was it heck!

I left home at first light around 6:30am and it was misty but fine. That lasted for all of 20 minutes and then the heavens opened. Not just a few spots of rain but the sort of stuff that bounces off the road and sploshes all over you. Within minutes I was soaked so at least I couldn't get any wetter! When that happens there really is no point feeling sorry for yourself or complaining so I just stuck my head down and got on with it, pounding out the miles.

3 hours and 40 minutes later I arrived home, soaked but happy as that meant I had managed perfect 11 minute miling on a jolly hilly route. It has given me a massive confidence boost and I will see if I can match it next week on my final 20 miler.

I celebrated by stuffing my face with croissants spread with the lovely pear and damson jam I made a few days ago. Heaven!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chunky monkey

Thank goodness there's some knitting to show at last. I really can't get myself back into Oregon at all so decided to give myself a kick start by doing a quick and easy project for Mike - Morrigan, from the Rowan Country Escape book.

It's knit using Rowan Country, a chunky multicoloured wool which knits up very quickly on 9mm needles and is a simple pattern using colour and texture to create an interesting fabric.

I'm liking the effect already and Mike's going to be snug as a bug in a rug wearing this! The beauty is it's only taken me a couple of hours each evening over the last 3 days to complete the back.

Hopefully by the time I've completed it I will feel like finishing off Oregon. The trouble is I associate it with some bad stuff that happened earlier in the year and I think that's what's putting me off. Never mind, I'm sure I'll get over it sooner or later as I really can't have such a beautiful Fair Isle cardigan languishing in the UFO pile now can I?!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hedgerow Harvest

It's that time of year when I'm busy jamming, pickling, freezing and otherwise preserving all manner of goodies.

The blackberries, everybody's favourite hedgrow fruit, have already been turned into the most precious of velvety jellies, with a few more stashed in the freezer for winter crumbles etc., so that just leaves the Rosehips (Rosehip syrup) and Sloes (Sloe Gin) to deal with.

Aren't the colours amazing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sheep may safely graze

The other day I spotted a sheep standing atop a large stone tomb in the churchyard at Salehurst. "Oh dear", I thought, "I'd better go and see if I can get it out of there and back to where it belongs". That's when I spotted this sign. How lovely that they are using nature's own mowers!

Of course, I hadn't got the camera with me that day and when I returned yesterday, camera at the ready, there was no sign of them. The second photo is the view looking out of the churchyard across towards Bodiam.

Today they had reappeared and guess what, I hadn't got my camera!

She sells sea shells......

For as long as I can remember I've hoarded sea shells. I love all the wonderful shapes and colours and have a secret ambition to create a shell grotto one day. Many of them have been brought back by friends from their holidays and so have special memories attached.

Whenever we visit the coast I will happily spend hours searching for interesting specimens which then get stored in carrier bags and biscuit tins in the garage for future use.

The other day Mike and I had a good old clear out in the garage and put all my shells into one easily accessible place so at long last I am now able to get them all out and look at them. This of course lead to hours of fun playing around with designs and remembering where they came from.

I had saved this piece of wood for over 20 years for a craft project "one day" (as you do!). It was a drawer front from the kitchen we fitted in our first flat and it had a slight mark on it so was unusable. I thought I'd use it as a background for a design and played around for a while.

These were my 2 favourite designs.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stars and Stripes

The lovely Isobel from my workplace is moving on to pastures new soon. I shall be very sad to see her go so I decided to make her something special as a leaving gift.

She is a big girl with an outgoing personality and she loves bright colours such as reds and purples which she offsets against black clothes. Also she has jet black hair so these colours really work for her. The other thing I know is that she loves anything sparkly/glittery and she adores stars.

So I had a rummage round and found all the bits of yarn I had in these colours and then popped off to Kemps who always have a useful supply of discounted 'novelty' yarns - the fluffy, glittery, multi-coloured types to bulk up my stash. I sourced some sparkly stars in red and black from eBay and so the idea developed into a simple garter stitch scarf, with random colour/yarn changes to build up a pleasing fabric.

I cast on 200 stitches on a 5mm circular needle then simply knit back and forth, breaking off the yarn at each end to make tassles. Then I gathered the tassles, adding some stars as I went along, then sewed a few stars in a random pattern on each end and on each side so that it is reversible (I hate it when you have to wear a scarf a certain way round). I used a total of 12 different yarns.

I'm very pleased with the way it's turned out - even though the reds clash horribly with my hair.

Just as well it isn't for me then!

Yesterday was the Autumn Show for our local Horticultural Society so Mike and I had to enter some bits and pieces. He entered a wonderful painting he did of a garden landscape and won first prize in that category - his first ever entry and he's only just started painting. He's too modest to let me show it on here but I can still mention it!

My own offerings yielded 3 x first prizes so quite a satisfactory result:

Here's my beautiful Streptocarpus "Crystal Ice". I absolutely adore Streptocarpus flowers and this is one of my favourites.

Next we have Seville Orange Marmalade and Raspberry Jam. I won a 1st for both of these categories last year but only managed to get 1st prize for the marmalade this time. Never mind, there's always next year!

Finally we have my onions.

I have never entered any vegetables in a show before and had no idea how to display them. I searched the internet for advice and found some photos showing them stripped of their brown outer skins, with their roots trimmed off and their necks tied.

I duly trimmed their roots but they wouldn't stand upright and kept rolling over so I sliced and sliced at the base until they stood firm. I peeled off the outer layers but it was hard to know quite when to stop and I did feel that I'd gone too far. I looked at how the experts had tied the necks of their onions and abandoned all hope of doing it so just left them bare.

When we arrived there a lady was placing her gigantic onions on the bench, beautifully presented with their necks tied with raffia and sitting on what looked like cut up bits of toilet roll (aha, no slicing involved there then!). Having seen them I really didn't think my poor onions would have a chance - but they did and I beat her. Amazing!

I was chatting to one of the Committee members afterwards and she told me that I'd stripped too many outer layers off, trimmed the roots back too far (oops on both counts) and went on to explain how to tie their tops. Despite my errors, the reason my onions had won was because their necks were beautifully small which demonstrated that they had been dried correctly. Phew, I did something right then!