Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Pre-Christmas catch-up

I'm really struggling to get back into blogging at the moment as it's always been my happy place and there really isn't much happiness around just now and even my positivity is feeling rather drained. So to try to inject some joy into things I'll attempt to do an update of allsorts, in no particular order.

Here's a selection of some of the virtual running events I've completed since April. There are several more medals still sitting in our quarantine zone as we have got into the habit of quarantining all letter and parcels, just to be on the safe side. It's a real mish-mash of events from multi-day events lasting for a month, marathons & ultra-marathons run all in one go and ultra marathon events spread over a number of days or weeks.

I've really enjoyed the sense of community in the long-distance ultras. It all started with a Centurion event during the first lockdown when I ran 50 miles over 5 days to earn the wooden medal on the left. The next one I did was the West Highland Way which was 95 miles completed over 7 days but with no bling this time!

I had great fun doing the M25 Vultra (ie 'Virtual' ultra) which was Rik's excellent idea for us to cover the actual length of the M25 motorway in our own respective areas. That was 117 miles which I completed in 23 hours over a couple of weeks but my favourite of his was the 'Lockdown Vultra' which he named 28 days later, after the last lockdown, and I managed to cover my highest monthly mileage ever, 424.86 mile, claiming my place as 2nd lady!

This was a favourite too; LeJog ie completing the infamous journey from Land's End to John o'Groats, which was a  total of 874 miles. You had 12 months in which to complete the distance and I managed to sneak in at 12.5 weeks so was very pleased with that!

Each time you logged your mileage you could see yourself progressing along the map and if you clicked on each section you would see photos of the area you were passing through:

They sent virtual postcards along the way to highlight interesting features we'd be passing in the real world and that made it interesting:

When we'd finished we got a nice tee shirt and a medal:

Shelley doesn't look very impressed though!

It was a fun event with many people, of all abilities, taking on the challenge either walking or running and there was a great community on Facebook.

I then went on to complete another of their events, crossing the distance of the Pennine Way along with the Centurion 100 mile event for which I received a small version of their real-life buckle. I was supposed to running their South Downs Way 100 mile event this year as part of my fund-raising but like so many other events it was cancelled.

In knitting news I've finished and blocked Aubade and it's gorgeous, so light but warm. I'd decided to finish the hem and sleeves with an i-cord edging but after I'd done the first sleeve I found I'd made it too tight so I had to undo it and make it looser. I did this by inserting my needle into the row before the start of the i-cord and just snipped it off and started again. It was surprisingly simple to do and I'm so glad I did as it's perfect now.

Right now I'm swatching for  'Snowy Forest' from Laine magazine 10 using a pairing of Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply, one of my favourite yarns, and Rowan Kidsilk Haze from my stash:

I'm quite excited by this latest rendering from Laine as there are several things I will definitely be making including Skog (using a gorgeous green yarn from Biches et Buches), Breukelen & Dyyni. All of those should keep me occupied during the latest lockdown - we're in Tier 3 here in East Sussex and I suspect we'll be in lockdown for a long time now.

It feels rather strange that I haven't crocheted anything this year, especially as I'm a much more proficient crocheter than knitter! I just didn't feel like it.

Today I've been busy making Pannetone along with some Seville orange marmalade, which is a tradition for the day before Christmas Eve and we will be sampling them tomorrow. The pannetone is in the oven now.

Orange peel ready for marmalade

Chopped, candied peel for the pannetone

A homemade collar to to encourage it to rise well and protect it as it bakes

I still have many photos of Nature and wildlife to upload but I'll save them for next time and leave you with a photo of my beautiful orchid, Dendrobium Nobile, which I haven't managed to kill yet - I don't have a good track record with orchids! Plus the Xmas lights on one of the houses in our village that I took when doing one of my early morning runs.

Stay safe everyone.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Making a start!

I've been feeling a bit meh today, not settling to anything so decided I'd start catching up on the blog at last! 

Here are 2 of the many projects I've completed in recent months:

Saitama by Martn Storey I fell in love with this pretty little lace cardigan as soon as I saw it on Pinterest. In my first post earlier in the year I was already well into the project and it really didn't take too long to finish after I'd memorised the charts. Please excuse the photos as Mike wasn't around when I decided I had to do this!

This is the closest to the actual colour, a pretty pastel pink

I love the heart motif and I found these pretty little buttons with irridescent colours at Tangled Yarn but I think they're out of stock now.

It's a perfect fit and so warm despite being very light in weight.

Next we have this gorgeous 'Ramble' jumper by Irene Lin and had a kit available and I just had to have it!

It's knit using Hudson Worsted which is a gorgeous yarn to work with; so soft and easy on the fingers and very, very warm. It was lovely to work with some thicker yarn for a change and I completed it in less than 2 weeks.

There are some nice details around the v-neck to keep me interested and they were repeated around the hem.

I really love the flared cuffs with their pretty pattern

On the needles at present I've got Aubade from Pompom which I'm knitting to try and use up my huge stash of pink kidsilk haze!

I found it a rather irritating knit to begin with as the start, at the neckline, was fiddlesome with such thin yarn but once the yoke progressed I enjoyed it a bit more. I've just got one more sleeve to go then I'll think about how I'll finish the hem/neckline/sleeve edges where I'm thinking about adding an i-cord edges as they seem to be curling up as it's so lightweight. 

It's very pretty though and looks great when worn - I've been trying it on throughout to get the length right as some versions I've seen have been either too long or too short and not very flattering for a fuller figure!

Shelley inspecting!

Finally for now, a bit of embroidery for Christmas. 

Mum and I always used to make a few new decorations for the Christmas tree each year and I've carried on that tradition. I spotted this sweet little kit from Nancy Nicholson, who lives in a village nearby, and ordered it to help pass  some more hours in lockdown.

They're made of 2 pieces of felt with a rubber insert sandwiched inside and you can decorate them however you like, one side or both, and there are some suggestions included along with some basic stitch techniques.

Wherever you are in the world, at this strange and scary time, I hope that you are safe and well and please take extra care as this virus is still not under control.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Where do I begin?

What a year this has been. Everything so very different. Scary news every day. Information and misinformation abounding. It's all completely overwhelming isn't it.

I've tried to write another blog post several times but kept giving up 'cos it just seemed irrelevant and overwhelming.

There's been lots of knitting and crafting but I will have to spend ages taking photos to get up to date with all that. Thanks to the plethora of so-called 'virtual' events, my running has kept me sane and I've run many more miles than usual this year despite not being able to take part in any real-life events.

I've also just finished my 3rd wave this year of the Six Pack Revolution - I'd originally only signed up for the January wave to get me ready for the running challenges I had planned but when everything went wrong and Covid took hold I just did another wave and then another. Suffice to say my fitness levels aren't too shabby as a result!

I have hundreds of photos to share - wildlife/Nature/plants/the garden/Shelley/views from my runs and I just don't know where to start so I'll have to plunge right in and get something down or I'll never catch up. 

I'm hoping that sharing these few photos with you on here will encourage me to start writing again.

Early morning mists from my runs

Stunning sunsets

Shelley's antics

Part of the front garden renovation project

Mrs Duck and babies

Gorgeous mohair cardigan

The must-have necessary accessory du jour!

I'm hoping that posting this will make me want to share some more. In the meantime, stay safe everyone.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Peeping out again.....

Where have the past 3 months gone? I really haven't felt like blogging, even though it might have helped amidst all this devastingly gloomy and very sad news. I did start a couple of times but really couldn't find the words. It's just been so awful hasn't it. So many people dead. So many people whose lives have been changed irreversibly by this devastating disease.

I have no idea what 'normal' is any more.

All my fund-raising marathons were either cancelled, reschedued for later this year, or moved to 2021.

Almost immediately after my last blog post, Mike and I went into an early lockdown as a way of shielding as we both have 'underlying health conditions' (I hate that term). We both said we'd do this and that, things we haven't had time for but wanted to do, but we didn't. I had lined up several knitting and crochet projects, a new loom project, books to read and several on-line courses I'd had earmarked for ages.

I did none of the above. Nor did Mike do what he'd intended.

Instead, we set about revamping the front garden completely. We're still at it. I reckon we felt the need for being outdoors and doing heavy physical work to take our minds off the horrors affecting the whole world. I also started another wave of the Six Pack Revolution just 4 weeks after I finished the previous wave. I'm just about to reach the halfway mark and it's really helping me to focus on my health and diet in these strange times. I'm finding the community aspect of it very helpful too as we're all split into teams and share our exercise challenges together which means there's always lots of positive support. This is a revamped version of the orginal 90 day plan and takes just 75 days to get the same excellent results!

I have no idea where to start with this catch-up so I'll just have to put down things as I remember them! I had to look back at my last post to find out what I'd written about then and it just seems sooooooo very long ago, a different lifetime actually, because the way we're living now is nothing like how we did then or will for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps I should just share some photos with a little text to give a feel for what's been happening here? I'll give it a go anyway.

Running stuff

I'm ticking over with regular runs but nothing very long at the moment. I've taken part in several 'virtual' runs with my running buddies just to feel connected. The last one was with Centurion Running with whom I should have been running the South Downs Way 100 miler this weekend. The virtual event was over 5 days and you could choose to run distances of 5k/10/half-marathon/marathon/50k/50miles or100 miles which you could run all at once or spread out over the 5 days - I opted for 50 miles as I thought 10 miles a day was very doable. I had to get up really early to avoid anyone else so I was out the door each day by 4am and back by 6am! I got a sweet little wooden medal and it felt nice to be part of a community of runners with a wide spectrum of ability - the youngest entrant was 5 and the oldest 85!

My next one is the virtual West Highland Way ultra-marathon which is 95 miles spread over 10 days so very doable without interfering with normal life. I started it this morning with a pleasant 9.5 miles and it should work quite nicely alongside my 6 Pack stuff.

In a previous post I wrote about the collaboration between ARUK and Tikiboo and I'm very pleased to announce that my blog about it is now live here. I enjoyed my 1st set so much I went and bought the other 2 as they are so comfy and I love the patterns; such fun! Each set of leggings has a matching bra top and I'm finding them really comfy for gym work and short runs.

Full length

Capri - can you spot the little ARUK comets?

Capri - definitely 'sharing the orange' in these!

Plus, I haven't shared this cute little skort (that's a pair of shorts joined to a skirt) from Flanci:

Crafting (or rather, the lack of!)

My cardigan started in early March is still on the needles and has only been picked up again this week. The crochet project I'd planned to do is sitting in a bag, partially completed.  The scarf I was weaving on my loom is finished so at least I've got something to show!

I was pleased with my colour choices as I think the lime green really pops against the purple

My edges got a bit neater as I progressed. Practice makes perfect!

I did a simple knotted fringe to finish the ends

I'll definitely be making a few more scarves with stash yarn to send to the homeless charity in Hastings.

In The Garden

The large pot on the tree stump has been a great success, starting with the beautiful Crown Imperials early in the season, followed by these splendid Tulip 'Fly Away' and then Scilla Peruviana:

Don't they look gorgeous set against the dark red of the Cotinus!

The tulips were a delight, so bright and cheerful

I like the Scillas best when they are only partially in flower as I love the green tufts against the beautiful dark blue flowers.

I dug almost everything out of this awkward bed near the gates as  it had been overwhelmed with low-growing carpeters and self-seeded Hypericums and it needed to be refreshed.

This gorgeous Azalea really shines out in the darker part of the bed and it has a lovely scent too.

This pretty variegated Weigela will be very happy here as it's been sitting in a pot for several years awaiting its new home.

But the biggest front garden project at the moment is the creation of a shade garden (my project) and a path (Mike's project!). Here are a couple of snippets:

I think will have to do for now as there's so much I could share but not enough time right now.

Stay safe everyone.