Sunday, March 31, 2013

My run, asthma, signs of Spring & a tank

My run

Well Easter Day has been no warmer than other days and it's been dreary and cold with the odd flurry of snow.  Thankfully I only had to run 9 miles today and I kept myself occupied by looking for signs of Spring.

In the hedgerow there were catkins and pussy willow.  I always think catkins look like lambs' tails and pussy willow is soft as a rabbit's paw.

Pussy Willow

In the verges there was lots of new growth with leaves of all kinds of plants thrusting through the undergrowth.   Primroses and celandines were in flower but the wood anemones weren't quite open.


I met these 2 gorgeous little ponies who came to say hello and get a stroke from me.  They were less than 9 hands high (about 3ft)!  They were very friendly and we had a nice little chat until I realised I was getting cold just standing around.

Cute ponies
As usual I managed to find an interesting tree root which I thought looked as if it was an entrance to an underworld.  I think that having a vivid imagination helps stave off the boredom of long runs and takes my mind off the cold!

Doorway to another world
When I reached the highest point of my route I stopped and watched the seagulls riding the current from the valley below.  You can just make one out in the centre of the photo.  Everywhere looks so grey and dull and I wished the sun had popped out for a while to brighten things up.

Soaring seagull
As I ran along one lane I did a double-take when I looked to my left and saw this tank parked in someone's drive.  How's that for a second vehicle!!!

So 9 miles in total but I did experience a few breathing problems.   More of that below.

Asthma, the return

I've been following a strict vegan diet for Lent, or at least until Good Friday this year as I didn't want to make anyone else miss out on Easter goodies until Sunday.  I've written already about how much better I've felt and how my breathing has improved dramatically which may or may not be related to the elimination of dairy products and eggs.

So on Friday I had 2 hot cross buns, which had milk, skimmed milk powder, eggs and butter in, and some Easter biscuits which had butter and a bit of milk in them.  Yesterday we had pizza for tea and that was the first time I've had cheese since the start of Lent so I was very interested to see how I reacted to this reintroduction.  I also had a few milk chocolate mini eggs.

This morning I can confirm that my chest feels heavy, full of gunk and my breathing was decidedly laboured during my run.  Bother, or words to that effect!

My next move is to revert to a vegan diet again during the week and see if I can just include these foodstuffs occasionally.  Watch this space.

The birds

As I was doing the washing-up earlier I spotted this little pied wagtail having a good splash around in the bird bath on the patio.  Sorry the photo's grainy but I took it through the kitchen window.

Wagtail bathing
Clean again
I also spotted an enormous flock of fieldfares in the field.   There were hundreds of them and when something scared them they split into smaller groups and flew in different directions.  I tried to zoom in on  a few of them in the oak tree.


More baby booties

I found these sweet little booties made in crocodile stitch by Bonita and I knew I just had to make them for Angela's new granddaughter along with the violet and lemon ones I've made already.  I knew I'd got some variegated baby yarn in my stash so after a bit of rummaging I unearthed it and I think it could look very pretty.  It's got very gentle shades of white, pale blue, mauve, pink and turquoise.

More baby booties

Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Easter everyone

Thank goodness the daffodils are starting to flower to brighten up a very cold and dreary day.  We've even had a few snow flurries throughout the morning.

I haven't been for my run yet as I've been busy making hot cross buns and Easter biscuits.  Who says you have to wait until they're cold?  That certainly doesn't happen in our household!

Here's one of the baby bootees which I think looks fresh and Spring-like.  I'm playing around with a design for a different pair and I think I'll add some little flowers to them.

I got the latest Crochet Club email the other day so I'll be working on the new designs after Easter.  Very exciting.

I asked Dixie if she'd got any buttons that would be suitable for Tinker's eyes (in my textile taxidermy project) and she found some that are a glorious bright green which will shine out beautifully when surrounded by the rust velvet I'm going to use on his face and head.  I'm not going for realism, just glorious decorative touches.

I loved the postcard she put in with the buttons - so many wonderful shapes and colours.  Just imagine what it would be like to have such an amazing button box to rummage around in.

I like that the buttons aren't flat and although they have a shank, which is not ideal, I like that you can see the dark backing through the eye which will serve as his pupils.

Have a wonderful Easter holiday wherever you are in the world and whatever you do.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Time to taper!

Now that's a statement that causes confusion whenever I type it so I'll explain; it simply means that I'm starting to reduce my weekly mileage both in distance and intensity ahead of a specific event.  On this occasion it's ahead of my first marathon of the year at Brighton.

Today's run was 12 miles and for most of it I seemed to be running into a bitingly cold wind.  I didn't  warm up at all and was heartily glad when it was over!

Of course, as Brighton is looming large, with London hot on its heels, we needed some new photos for the first round of press releases and so Mike assumed the role of  photographer and on a brighter day this week we braved the elements to take these photos.  Oh my it was cold and windy and my hair kept blowing across my face!

This one is for the Brighton marathon where I'll just be running

This one for the London marathon where I'll be knitting whilst running
More about these events soon but believe me when I say that my challenge for 2013 is one of, if not the toughest things I've attempted!

For any Brighton marathon runners reading this, please make sure you allow enough time for your taper.  At this stage in the game less is definitely more and you don't want to risk injury by ramping up your mileage trying to play catch-up for training sessions you might have missed.  You want to be raring to go on race day.

For those of you running VLM, you need to start your taper next week.

Hooky stuff

I haven't been knitting over the past few weeks but there's been plenty of crochet.  Last night I started these baby bootees - so sweet.  The colours aren't showing up very well but are a pale lemon and pale violet and look very Spring-like.

The start of a bootee

You can see the ridges formed by the front post and back post trebles (UK term, DC for others).  It's really simple and very effective.  This needs the top of the foot filling in with rows of DC (UK) and some contrast trim on the ankle and around the foot which won't take long.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Knitting and Stitching Show, Olympia

I'm a bit late in writing about this but it's been a busy week.  Last week I was lucky enough to have been given a complementary ticket to the show by the lovely Dixie Nichols from whom I have purchased the most beautiful and original buttons.  Unfortunately she was only at the show on the Thursday and Friday and I couldn't get there until Saturday so I didn't get to drool over her lovely selection of buttons.  Probably just as well as my credit card went into shock as soon as we walked into the exhibition hall!

It was a dreary day, cold, wet and windy day as you can see from my photo of The Shard, taken from the train.  I had to take the tube to get to Olympia and although I know it's an efficient and cost-effective way of getting about London it really isn't something I enjoy.

The entrance
Having joined the long queue to get in I was set loose in a veritable Aladdin's Cave of crafting goodies!

Felted meerkats
Emily Peacock at work on one of her vibrant tapestries
Aren't they stunning?
The proud stallholder of Helkat Designs
Bespoke one-off textiles.  Simply beautiful!
A dress made from re-cycled carrier bags
A table of eager helpers cut up carrier bags - I love her headdress.
Fashion students displayed their designs
Ooooh, I'd wear this!

Many amazing quilts on display

A woodland Nymph with attitude!

Her Woodland Boudoir - a collaboration between 8 female artists
After much searching I finally found Jane Crowfoot.  Her crocheted Easter Eggs were really jolly and reminded me that somewhere at home I've still got some eggs that mum and I decorated when I was a child.

We had a brief chat and she told me that the Crochet Club is about to get even more exciting than the granny square type patterns we've done this month.  Excellent, now I can't wait for my next set of instructions!

When I first entered the halls the cafe areas were all empty.  By the time realised I was both hungry and thirsty they were absolutely heaving so I decided to head for home and grab something en-route.

Right by the exit I couldn't help but smile when I spotted these ladies who were having a snack before they headed inside.   Hope you enjoyed your visit ladies!

What did I buy?  I was very restrained as I could have spent an absolute fortune but I tried to be good as I have so much in my stash that I could go without buying anything for several years and not run out of projects!

A cat shape to decoupage with paper or maybe bits of embroidery

A bag full of small amounts of yummy Chinese bourette silk for teeny-weeny crocheting
Seeing Jane reminded me that I haven't shared the last bits of crochet from the January Crochet Club so here they are.  There's just a bit of surface crochet and embroidery and the beads were supposed to be sewn on but I preferred to crochet them in place because I think it's neater.  Now everything needs blocking to size.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Then there was snow (and a triangle)

What was I saying about the weather getting colder?  This is what we awoke to this morning - a dusting of snow.  How ridiculous for the sunny South East of England in March!

The white bits on the Blackthorn tree aren't snow, it's blossom.  Here's what it looked like at the end of March in 2011 - glorious snowy white blossom, smothered in bees.  Here's hoping the snow's gone long before then.

By mid-morning it was snowing steadily and has done so for the remainder of the day.

There was a bitterly cold wind coming in from the East and it's been whipping up the fluffy snow, rather like dust devils in arid lands.

The horses, both with their rugs back on now (it's too cold even for Esther) have spent most of the day eating hay in their field shelters.  After their last feed of the day they popped out for a touch of synchronized rolling.

Selecting just the right spot

One down

One to go

Have a good shake

Gallop in a circle then head back to the field shelter

I crocheted one of the triangles this morning whilst I was having a coffee break.  I need to hook another one yet.