Friday, December 31, 2010

End of year baking

Today's bread is a French Recipe named Pain de Campagne and is a very tasty rustic bread made partly with Rye flour with the addition of fresh oregano. It's great toasted or with cheese and Mike said it goes well with cooked meats as well.

It has a heart motif as it was made with love!

Having become accustomed to having puddings and chocolates over the Christmas period, there was consternation when there were no afters at lunchtime.

This obviously had to be rectified and so I rustled up this chocolate orange cake. I made it extra naughty by adding some orange chocolate liqueur to the frosting and filling. The orange zest and juice I added to the cake mix provide the health giving benefits of vitamin C (ahem, it's still the festive period and dieting starts tomorrow!).

Two it is then

I finally decided on the Louisa Harding tunic/dress named Two as I already had the La Salute yarn in my collection. The other reason is it features hearts which I love.

A lot of my craftwork features heart motifs so we have crochet, knitted, wicker, pottery, fabric and embroidered hearts all over the place!

I also found some beautiful Rowan Kidsilk Night which is a deep blackcurrant shade with some shimmery glitter.

I love anything sparkly and I love mohair, although I know that isn't everyone's favourite yarn to knit with because it's not easy to frog.

The La Salute is a dusky mauve rather than the grey tone as it appears in the photo.

I just did a little swatch to check out the pattern etc and see if I want to make any changes. In the pattern the hearts don't sit directly on the stripe but I just wanted to see how the hearts worked out.

I think I shall put another line of the Kidsilk Night above the hearts to make it into a band and to get it some more texture - the stripe is knit in 2 rows of garter stitch which gives nice definition.

I shall also make the whole dress slightly shorter, turning it into a tunic as I don't think a mini dress would look too good on someone of my advanced years!

I'm just off out for my last run of 2010. It will be a 'tempo' run which means I start slowly and then gradually increase the pace when I've warmed up, then slow back down again. I shall have to do some hard work over the coming weeks as I'm feeling very lardy after the excesses of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Last race of the year

It was the Xmas Pudding Dash today which was postponed due to bad weather a couple of weeks ago.

I was originally going to combine two of the outfits I had worn for previous runnings of this race:

The Ms Santa outfit from 2007 & the festive elf from 2008.

Notice how Mr Finknottle (aka Pete) hadn't bothered to change his outfit from one year to the next!

In the end though I toned it right down to wearing my stripey elf tights and my Ms Santa hat.

There weren't many people there, probably because the new date didn't suit them but I managed to catch up with Johnny J who I haven't seen for ages.

He's very speedy but he waited around for me to finish and he ran a few yards up the last hill giving me tips on my breathing and when to accelerate towards the finish line.

The course was a bit shorter than the 5 miles it should have been because a section was too icy. Anyway, I managed a nice sprint at the end and completed it in 48 minutes which I was very pleased with as I've become very sluggish of late.

I absolutely adore the snowflake medal!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas socks

Started whilst watching a film on Christmas Eve in the evening and finished on Christmas Day whilst watching another film in the evening.

An easy-peasy, basic pattern. Knit on 5.5mm dpns using 2 strands held together; both aran weight, one variegated and one plain purple.

Very snug and great for wearing around the house to keep my toes toasty in the evenings when I'm sitting down.

I can't decide which knitting project to start next - a lacy scarf using Rowan Kidsilk Night from a pattern in Vogue Knitting magazine, Sylvi from Twist Collective or Two from Louisa Harding's Queen of Hearts collection.

I think Louisa Harding is winning by a head at the moment as I have some beautiful dusky purple yarn just waiting.................

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Festive Fun and a cancelled run

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. We ate far too much and I'm feeling particularly lardy today!

One good thing was that I actually made myself go for a run on Christmas morning. I've been saying I'd do it for a few years now but have always reneged on it until now. It was just 3 miles, nice and slow and wearing my santa hat and it felt great. I saw several dog walkers stretching their legs before the festivities began.

This little run had nothing to do with maintaining fitness as it was all about mental strength and I felt fantastic for doing it.

Sadly, the race we had planned to hold on New Year's Day had to be cancelled because of the dreadful weather. Some of the roads we planned to use were severely iced up and unlikely to be safe in time as the weather forecast is for more snow/ice etc etc. The Race Director said that we should make the decision to cancel for safety reasons so that we had plenty of time to notify people before they went away for the Christmas break.

This was quite a blow but every cloud has a silver lining and the organisers, Nice Work, have promised to make a donation to the Alzheimer's Research Trust out of the profits from the Xmas Pudding Dash which had to be rescheduled to 28th December (it too was cancelled from a week or so ago due to the bad weather).

I was supposed to be doing an interview about the race with Danny Pike on BBC radio on Christmas Eve and I thought they would cancel it but they really wanted the interview to go ahead and used it as another example of how the bad weather has affected everything. If anyone wants to hear the interview, just click here and spin through to around 2 hours 41 minutes, immediately after the Coldplay track.

Over the last couple of evenings, I've knitted myself some lovely snuggly socks to wear around the house and I must take a photo of them tomorrow.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


The snow melted but now it's back with a vengeance. We nipped out to get a Christmas tree on Friday. It was sunny and bright but when we started heading home there were a few small flakes of snow falling.

Mike said "Never mind, at least we'll get home before it gets too heavy". Remember those words! We were 4 miles from home at that point.

1/2 a mile later the sky was black and the snow was falling so fast you couldn't see beyond the car bonnet. We crawled along until we reached Staplecross and turned to go down the hill and joined the queue of cars. It's a steep hill and there were vehicles trying to get up it - cars sliding backwards, a lorry on the wrong side of the road with its wheels spinning, more cars sitting waiting for them to get out of the way before they attempted to get up the hill themselves.

The only thing to do was to park up and walk home across the fields, which we did accompanied by our neighbour and her 2 small boys who thought it was a great adventure. We didn't want to leave the Christmas tree on the back seat of the car so Mike carried it all the way home (just over a mile). Thank goodness we didn't buy a tall one!

These photos were taken just before we set out to collect the car the next morning.

We planned to walk across the fields to the road to see if the road had been cleared at all and thankfully people had been out putting grit down. We now have yellow grit bins at the side of the road which makes such a difference on our steep lanes. Apparently, someone had kindly brought out their tractor and had pulled people up the hill so no-one was left stranded. It was rather scary when we got onto our lane as that was slippery but we managed to get back in one piece. This time, the snow came down after we got home so it was a day for bedding in and decorating the tree.

I'm wearing my new Fetch 'buff' underneath my hat and it was really snug and warm. When running, I've worn it instead of a hat and have worn it around my neck and I love it already.

It was supposed the be the Christmas Pudding Dash on Saturday but that had to be re-scheduled for 29th December. I don't think my Ms Santa costume will be appropriate then so will have to find something else!

Needless to say that running has been confined to the treadmill for the past couple of days but I might sneak out tomorrow if it isn't slippery underfoot. Perhaps a xc plod around the orchards as I know what the terrain is like underfoot.

One thing I have noticed is that my legs are aching from walking in the snow. It must be because you have to lift your feet up to get through the snow. It's been jolly hard pushing my wheelbarrow through the snow to the horses too!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2011 approaches

It's nearly that time again. The time when I have to announce my fund-raising plans for next year.

First though, I'd like to thank everybody who has supported me by sponsoring my efforts this year. Many people make donations year after year and I've been running marathons since mum died in 2005 so that's amazing. Not everyone can afford to donate so they give their support in other ways; a good luck card, a wave and a smile when I'm out running in the pouring rain, even just asking how my training is going can give me a real boost when the going is tough.

Thank you all. You really help to keep me going.

Now, back to my escapades in 2011:

First there's a 5 mile race on New Year's Day with profits going to the Alzheimer's Research Trust. I'm nervous and excited in equal measures as we need more volunteers to help with marshalling etc. Mike and I will be marshalling which will be a new experience.

The event has been organised for me by Martin and Cathy Burke from Nice Work who organise lots of races in our area. I have no idea how many people will brave the elements to support us - if the weather is nice and bright we'll have a good turn-out but if it's wet/cold/snowy then it will not be as good. Fingers crossed anyway. It's certainly not a route for the faint-hearted as it is rather, ahem, undulating!

For those dedicated runners who make the effort, it will be a great start to the new year.

In my own running events there will be plenty going on with added interest as you'd expect:

i) Brighton marathon. I ran the inaugural Brighton marathon this year and it was fantastic. In 2011 I am doing what I don't usually do - trying for a pb (personal best). My road marathon pb is 4:50 and I want to try to get nearer to 4:30. This means there will be lots of speedwork training going on. Eeeeeek!

ii) London marathon a week later. Yep, I'll be back again but this time I'm reverting to knitting as crochet was just too difficult. Not that knitting is easy of course. I can't release the details yet but hope to in the next few weeks. It goes without saying that it will be something incredibly silly!

On the way to these 2 marathons there will be several shorter races to test how my training is going. I started my marathon schedule last week so it's very early days yet.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Last week this.....

The green, green grass of home.

This week, a snowy wonderland!

We've had over 12" which may not sound much for those in places where snow falls on a regular basis but for us down here in sunny Sussex it's incredible.

The sheep aren't in the least bit bothered, they just push their faces into the snow, make a hole and eat the grass.

Their faces end up covered in frozen snow but they don't seem concerned by it. They are very sweet when they spot us and come charging over, leaping through the snow as it's over the top of their legs!

Running for this week has been confined to the treadmill which does become rather boring after a while.

Tinker, being old and wise for a change, has remained curled up under a radiator for most of the time.

I've been busy making hearty soups and breads - this is a Russian potato bread to which I added some cheddar and it was scrumptious!

I realised that I haven't shown anything I've made for ages so here's a completed blanket crocheted in ripple stitch which is really simple and fast growing. A good project to have on your knee whilst watching TV. The yarns are a combination of bargains from last year and things I already had in my collection.

It's about 5' wide and 4'6" long which is just the right size for the two of us to snuggle under when sitting on our rocking bench (shown below).

Of course, we might have to wait for the snow to clear before we try it out!

This little rocking bench has been with is for many years and was purchased from a Garden Centre in Blindley Heath, in Surrey. The reason I can recall the details vividly was because Lulu was in front of us in the queue!

We used to sit, rock, drink wine and dream of living in the countryside; and here we are at last.

I'm busy making curtains and Christmas gifts at the moment but I'm thinking of starting a new knitting project soon. Plus I'm busy marking out an embroidery idea and designing another bargello cushion cover.