Saturday, December 17, 2011

Xmas Pudding Dash & skies 116 - 122

Well, once again I have blithely wrapped and delivered/sent some knitted gifts without taking photos of them.

Hey ho, suffice to say that knitted handwarmers, aka fingerless mitts or gloves, are always well received especially when the recipient suffers from arthritis and the gloves are knit in light-as-air mohair which is warm but not too heavy for sore hands.

Saturday was the annual Christmas Pudding Dash in the beautiful grounds of Ashburnham Place. This was the 6th running of the event and I've done it 4 times now and each time in fancy dress to get into the festive spirit.

Here's the before picture (notice the slippers!). Sorry but I can't get it to flip the right way up for some reason.

Here's the after photo, taken back at home.

I don't know what my time was as I didn't bother with my Garmin - sometimes races are just for fun!

The medal is in the shape of a Christmas tree and I love it. Last year it was a snowflake.

Now for some more skies:

12th December

13th December

14th December

15th December

16th December

17th December

18th December

Monday, December 12, 2011

Skies 110 -115 and cake

Why cake?

Well, I received an eagerly awaited email from that nice Lord Coe about the Olympics.

Unfortunately it didn't tell me that I would be carrying the Olympic flame which was rather disappointing. Sadly, Dione didn't get through either so neither of us will be carrying the flame for dementia which is a shame because we could have gained a lot of publicity from it for the charity.

So the only thing to do was to bake a cake (well, I did actually consider the wine option as well). Chocolate and orange with cream cheese and chocolate icing and filling. Jolly nice it was too!

Now I've really got to finalise my fund-raising events for 2012 in a slightly different way. Hmmmmmmmmm.

6th December

7th December

8th December

9th December

10th December

11th December

Monday, December 5, 2011

Running rejection - but there's always knitting and crafting!

Well I didn't make it into the select crew of the Runner's World competition. No surprise there! I still felt a bit crestfallen though.

My running is going remarkably well at the moment and all the speedwork I did for the Liverpool marathon seems to have made a difference to my general ploddiness (I know it isn't a real word but it should be as it describes my running perfectly).

Knitting wise it's mostly secret stuff for Christmas although I have finally picked up my poor neglected Oregon cardigan at last and am about 4 inches down the second sleeve. About time too - actually it's almost exactly 2 years since I abandoned it because it reminded me of Mike being rushed into hospital. Now I'm back into it I'm really enjoying it as I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Fair Isle

There is one thing to show though - this little scarf made in Artesano alpaca which is a lovely snuggly yarn.

I had a competition for those people who have supported my fund-raising each year since I ran my first marathon in 2004. As I was trying to beat my marathon best time this year I asked them to guess my best time for 2011 and the person who guessed closest to my best time would get a scarf of their choice knitted by me.

My best time was a dismal 5:03 and the person who won was a lovely lady I've never met but who sends a cheque for ARUK each year and she chose a scarf like one I knitted several years ago. She really liked the yarn I'd used and asked for the same colourway. Thankfully I found it on the internet.

Now for something I've wanted to have a go at for ages - felting.

Mike and I went to a local art show recently and I saw Angela Dewar's work and liked it a lot. I saw she was doing day courses in felting for beginners and so I just had to try it. The original course was for a maximum of 10 people and was to be held in a hall in Sevenoaks which is quite a long way from home so I was more than happy when Angela had to cancel that and opt for groups of 2 people in her studio at home.

When we were greeted by Angela and treated to lovely mince pies and coffee upon arrival it was obviously going to be a good day.

First Angela showed us some examples of felting and I love the way she incorporates embroidery into her work. Then it was our turn to play - what fun!

First we created a piece of 'pre-felt'. I chose just 2 colours and had the idea that I would applique a heart on it.

This turned out to be an excellent idea as Angela then showed us how to cut out and insert felt into the flat piece. The heart is made by combining red and orange strands to give a subtle shaded effect.

Then I needle-felted another heart into the middle of the red heart.

I can see that this is a very addictive craft and I can't wait to experiment with it.

These photos show both side of the finished felt and I'm having difficulty deciding which side should be the front as I love both of them in different ways.

Now they are fully dry I'm going to experiment with some surface embroidery.

This quick project involves layering wool and metallic ribbon and is designed to be made into a cuff.

I love the way the ribbon creates a crinkly effect but I won't make it into a cuff for myself as my arms are too short and chubby.

Perhaps it could be a wall-hanging?

In this final piece Angela encouraged us to incorporate other items into the felt and I really love this idea.

I've used a strand of novelty yarn, just wiggled around and a snippet of coarse string mesh secured in place with a few strands of a lighter wool.

I cant wait to embroider this piece using bold colours.

We had such a lovely day and Angela treated us to a gorgeous lunch of homemade soup and bread. It must have been good as I told Mike that Angela's bread was a good as, if not maybe even better than my own and that doesn't happen very often!

Last but not least we have sky 109.

What a lovely apricot glow.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Skies 87 - 108

How time flies and so many skies to upload!

14th November.

The fog descended during the previous evening and didn't clear all day.

15th November.

The fog just got worse and worse. Thank goodness we didn't need to travel in it as it would have been treacherous.

16th November.

Phew, the fog is nearly all gone with just a bit hanging in the valley.

17th November

Then we had glorious blue skies and it was so warm that I am still running in a vest and shorts and the horses still haven't got their winter blankets on.

Unseasonally warm in fact and that really isn't a good thing for so many reasons, not least that it has been the driest November on record in our area and they're already talking about water shortages looming large. Plus all the plants and wildlife are confused with things in flower that should still be sleeping and insects that should have died off still buzzing around.

18th November.

Another glorious day and I took advantage of it by running across the fields.

19th November

The sun is setting such a long way away from when I started taking the photos back in September. It's fascinating watching the changes.

20th November

21st November

22nd November

23rd November

24th November

25th November

26th November

27th November

I just managed to catch this partial rainbow in the morning as it was getting light. There had been a short shower followed by the sun rising and the rainbow only lasted a few seconds.

Although the days are bright, the temperature has started to fall and so it was time to light the woodburner in the evening.

Tinker was very pleased about that!

28th November

We had our first ground frost last night and I took this at the back of the house just as the sun had risen, at the front, as I liked the pink tinges it gave the clouds.

29th November

30th November

1st December

2nd December

3rd December

4th December

Phew all up to date again on the sky front.

Later will be news about running, knitting and other crafting.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Marathon training, Skies 78 - 86 & Esther (but not in that order!)

It's been a hectic week and not all in a good way. I noticed that Esther was resting her offside rear hoof one day, the next day she could hardly walk on her front feet. She's never been laminitic before to my knowledge but her stance and soreness suggested it immediately.

So it was action stations all round - Mike turned into DIY superman and transformed one of the field shelters into a stable using things we had lying around in the garage as she needs box rest whilst I flew round packing out her nearside front hoof which she could hardly place on the floor and then making a deep bed in the stable so she had something comfy to stand on rather than bare earth or concrete, then it was time for the vet.

In the meantime I'd given her some bute to ease the pain which is why she looks much happier in the stable - also the deep bed takes the pressure away from the sore hooves.

The vet agreed with my initial diagnosis but was confused because Esther isn't so much overweight to bring on laminitis. She asked me if anything had changed in her diet recently and it hasn't so she decided to do some xrays to check what's going on inside the hooves.

They had to wear these very attractive jackets which weigh a ton because they are full of lead to protect them from the xrays. Esther was such a good girl throughout. The xrays didn't show anything too awful thank goodness and the farrier will be able to improve things even further when he visits this week.

Looking at the photos now it's amazing how much brighter Esther looks after just a few hours on the deep bed system and with a bit of pain relief. However, she's now got to stay in the stable for 6 weeks to let everything get back to normal and she's on a very bland diet of soaked hay (which removes all the nutrients) to allow her digestive system to recover.

Of course it's now a week later and she looks bright as a button and is raring to get out into the field. Convalescing is never easy but I think watching Kizzy out in the field doesn't help much!

Now for the skies. There are 2 missing as dealing with Esther's health took priority over taking photos:
4th November

5th November

6th November

8th November

9th November

10th November

11th November

13th November

Now for my training. Running wise it was sometimes great and then others rather lacklustre - I blame the weather for the bad days when the fog didn't lift all day and everywhere was damp and dreary! There were only 2 off days anyway so no worries really.

The other 3 days were focussed and most enjoyable, especially yesterday when the weather was beautiful. As it was Remembrance Sunday I wore my poppy and I made sure that I was home well before 11am so that I could share the 2 minute silence with Mike.

I'm concentrating on building a solid base ahead of my marathon schedule but I'm also doing 1 session of speedwork each week. I still secretly hope that I'll get chosen in the Runner's World competition even though it's highly unlikely as people still seem to think that I knit during all my marathons rather than just at London marathon even though I always stress that when interviewed. I write this because a reporter from a well known newspaper wanted to write about my achievements this year but lost some interest when he realised that I don't knit during every marathon plus another reporter from a knitting magazine asked me for some tips on how people can take their running out on their training runs. Hey ho.

So, again, for the record, I run all my marathons and I have only ever knitted whilst running at the London marathon and it is purely to draw attention to Alzheimer's Research UK and not because I can't bear to leave my knitting behind!