Saturday, October 26, 2013

Aaaaaaargh, asthma!

I have a lot to write about dementia in the lead-up to the G8 Dementia Summit in December but that deserves a post all of its own so I'll wait until next time.

Training and asthma

I thought it was all going too well as asthma has left me alone for a while and just lurked in the background of my healthiness.  But it couldn't resist rearing its ugly head the other day when I attempted a speed session on the treadmill could it, oh no!

I started with my usual format of 1 mile warm-up at an easy pace before upping the pace to do some intervals of faster running over a specified distance. The first one always takes my breath away a bit and I have to settle into it but this time I didn't even manage to complete the first interval of 400 metres before the coughing started. My chest felt full of gunk and although I did try again after the coughing abated it became obvious that I was not going to win the battle so I stopped and just wrote it off as a bad day.

The weather forecast for the next few days is pretty grim with damaging winds and torrential rain forecast so I thought I'd take advantage of it being dry today. I headed out on a hilly route of just over 5 miles and the wind literally took my breath away. Whichever way I turned, I was either running into it or being blown from the side and I really did struggle to catch my breath.

I checked my peak-flow when I got home and it's much lower than usual so I'm just putting it down to the weather and trying to ignore it; but I shall be mightily annoyed if it spoils all my training for the Brighton 10k which is in 3 weeks!

It wasn't all bad on my run as I did manage to take a few photos.

Sun streaming through the trees (it didn't stay out very long though!)
Lanes lined with gold and green

I wish I could have captured the whole scene in this next photo.  I just glanced to my right and saw a string of ducks wending their was across the field. The field was about 20 acres and the line of ducks was about 400 metres long! They were marching off to get their feed in the next field.

Marching ducks

Knitting/crochet update

Sorry, but I can't show any crochet at the moment as it's all Christmassy stuff!


I finished knitting the Summer Tweed jumper a few days ago and the pieces have been blocked and are drying off before I join them together. It's been a welcome break from fiddly Christmas knitting!

Double knitting

I finished the first swatch from my double-knitting course and I thought I'd show it as it demonstrates where I had a problem with twisting the yarn at one end of the row. On the lighter side it shows on the righthand side and on the darker side it's on the left.

It doesn't matter that it didn't work out first time - that's the whole point of the exercise. Now I'll just knit it again concentrating on the areas with which I had difficulty.

I quite like the way that Alasdair ends each row by slipping the last pair of stitches and then twisting the yarn between them on the next row as it looks really neat. The only thing I don't like is that it means one side has a dark edge and the other has a light edge. Of course this wouldn't be an issue if knitting in the round.

I love the bind-off as the 2 colours  create a very attractive braided effect.

Christmas bits that I can show

I can show this Christmas present as I know that the recipient won't see it, for the simple reason she neither owns, nor uses a computer!

I've been creating lots of little flowers using my crazy-daisy winder and odd bits of yarn.  They are great fun to make and are ideal for decorating scarves/hats/bags/gifts. 

Some of them have been added to this scarf as decoration at each end. Mike wasn't around to take a photo so I improvised by standing in the bath!

The recipient of the scarf loves really long, thin scarves that she can wrap around her neck loads of times and she also loves dangly bits.  I cast on about 200 stitches and then just knit back and forth in   garter stitch changing the yarn at each end and leaving a nice long tail to make the dangly bits for the fringe afterwards. The fringe consists of plaits, twists and some crocheted spirals which I added in to supplement the other danglies. 

I know she'll love it.

Now it's time to crack on with the Christmassy things I can't show. What, it's only how many weeks?!!!.............

Rosehip and Blackberry syrup

I made this last year for the first time by just adapting my own recipe for rosehip syrup and it was really popular so I had to make it again this year.

I prepared the 2 elements separately and then combined their juices before adding the sugar and boiling.

The rosehips were prepared exactly as in my recipe above (1kg of hips plus water) and the liquid reduced by half.

I used 1kg of blackberries and simmered them in 500ml of water and then strained them through the jelly bag.

I combined the 2 juices and then added 1.5kg granulated sugar and treated it just the same as in the recipe for rosehip syrup. I had to boil it slightly longer than in that recipe and that's the only thing you have to watch. 

My way of checking if the syrup will be the consistency we like is to boil it for a few minutes, turn off the heat and then take a spoonful of the liquid and see how it drips from the spoon. It's different from when you're making jelly or jam as you don't want it to get to the 'soft-set' stage; you're trying to catch it just before. When it's how we like it the liquid drips slowly from the spoon and seems gloopy rather than runny.

If you find that the resultant syrup is too runny for your liking when it has cooled, don't worry, just boil it up again for a few more minutes.

It's well worth the effort and tastes wonderful dribbled over ice-cream or pancakes or even used as a cordial diluted with water (or something a little more interesting!).


To end this post I'll just give you a few photos of the wonderful sunsets we've had over the last few days:

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