Friday, February 28, 2014

On the last day of February

It rained. Then the sun came out. Then the sky went black and it rained. Sometimes the sun came out whilst it was raining and we were treated to several rainbows. This one emanated from our land so I went out with my spade to dig for the pot of gold. No luck though!

So, back to crochet. There was football on TV the other night and so I took myself off into another room and spread the pieces out on the floor to see what I'd made already. I also had a look through the instructions for the motifs I hadn't made and decided I didn't like any of them anyway so won't be making them.

First I looked for something to go on top of the piano (I had to dust it first though!). It's a grand piano and there's a big expanse of shiny black to play with. In the past we've draped an antique lace cloth over it, a crocheted afghan which matched the decor in a previous home, assorted embroidered linen cloths and almost always we've had a plant on top.

This motif is OK (you can see that I've dusted 'cos you can see the reflection of a painting!) but I thought it was a bit too small and fancied something a bit bolder to cover more of the area.


So I tried the granny triangles around it. I really like the idea of a star shape and would only need to crochet 3 more triangles and would add beads to them. 

Then I tried the wavy square surrounded by granny triangles. Neither if us liked that as it looked too solid.

Then Mike said he'd prefer something smaller so it didn't dominate quite as much. We finally realised that what we wanted was just a bright mat to sit underneath another green leafy plant or a sculpture so I abandoned that and went off to play with ideas for the next chair back.

After much humming and haa-ing, this is what I came up with as a base.

The central motif matches the other one and just needs edging the way I did previously. I like the idea of using the granny triangles as corners and there are a few options I'm considering:

i)   Turn the blue motifs into squares and fill the gaps with mini-granny triangles.

ii)  Make 4 more granny triangles but with beads and use them to turn the triangles into squares. Make the blue motifs into rectangular shapes.

iii) Create a background of vertical stripes to sit behind the blue motifs and use the granny triangles as corners.

Running Streak

As I headed back to the village at the end of my run today the sky started to get darker and darker and I couldn't resist taking this photo of the church steeple as the gold-coloured weather vane really shone out against the dark sky.

As I ran alongside I noticed 2 blackbirds sitting up there which must be an excellent vantage point!

February was my 2nd month of running every day. Last month I ran 182 miles and this month I've run 191 miles making my total so far 373 miles.

I have 10 miles to do tomorrow and then another 20 miler on Sunday. I'm hoping the weather will be kind to me.

There are only 28 days to go until my marathons start, beginning with the back to back marathons in Dover (gulp!).

Random Dementia fact

Dementia is a word used to describe a group of symptoms including memory loss, difficulty thinking clearly, confusion & mood changes. Dementia occurs when the brain is damaged by diseases such as Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia. In my mum's case, she had a series of mini strokes, sometimes referred to as TIAs (transient ischaemic attacks i.e. mini strokes) where the oxygen supply to the brain fails and brain cells die.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Spring is in the air (?)


I've been meaning to knit this cute little scarf by Jean Moss for ages. It's not a snuggly-keep-you-warm type of scarf, just a light decorative touch for your neckline. A bit of frippery.

It's name is 'Evergreen', from her book Sweet Shawlettes, and I liked its quirky dangliness (I don't care if that isn't a real word!).

I decided to use some Rowan Summer Tweed in bright, Spring-like colours to contrast with my green corduroy jacket which you can see here when I was showing off the Modern Quilt Wrap.

The green of the scarf has bright turquoise and yellow flecks in it which gave me the idea of adding some flowers to the leaves. The leaves are knitted as in her pattern but the flowers are my own very simple crocheted shape.

Today has been dreary and the light wasn't really good for taking photos but I know that if I hadn't done it today then I'd probably forget so apologies that the colours don't really zing. The leaves need a good blocking to stop them curling so I'll get Mike to take a photo of me wearing it with my jacket when it's done.

Dementia data

I forgot to put a random fact about dementia in my last post but here's another one: 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 today will have some form of dementia when they die.

Monday, February 24, 2014

C is for…….

….. Crochet

Decision time again. Here are some more elements from the Jane Crowfoot crochet club last year. I decided I didn't want to make the blanket and instead have opted to use the different pieces in my own way. You can read my thoughts about it in this post.

The first thing I made was this chair back (and here) and I said back then I'd make a mat for the piano. I think the small triangles, seen just above the wider turquoise and blue one in the photo, will make a good border and I like the idea of them forming a star shape (perhaps). So I shall have to replicate the central motif in the blanket but using a slightly different palette (omitting the yellow ochre) and based on one of the shall round shapes on the right of the photo which are edged in bright blue and dark blue.

I love playing around with shapes and colours so I'll be starting that tomorrow morning.

….. Colours

There's lot's of yellow, so welcome at this time of year, to lift our spirits and remind us that the sun is still with us even though it's been in hiding a lot of late.

The first dandelion
Miniature daffodils
Corylopsis pauciflora just starting to flower

Primroses by the hedge in the front garden
It isn't just flowers providing the colour. This Carex look wonderful in the dull light
This phormuim looks stunning when the sun catches its gold-edged leaves
But there are plenty of other colours about in the garden and I've had to omit some things or I'll never get this finished!

Our beautiful native Speedwell - yes, some wildflowers are most welcome in our garden 
Bergenia - aka Elephant's Ears because of its large leaves 
Red stems of Cornus Siberica 
The yellow stems of Cornus Flavimea
Deep burgundy of this stunning hellebore which is still in a pot waiting for the ground to dry up a bit
Jolly red berries on a laurel bush
Chaeonomeles japonica in a pot by the house
One of the Cardoons I grew from seed last year. I can't wait to see it flower this year.


There's so much to do in the garden at this time of year and it's been made difficult because the ground is so saturated that I'm trying not to tread on the beds too much for fear of compacting the soil. We're on heavy clay which takes ages to warm up in the Spring.

On Saturday the sun shone and so I cut back the grasses and other stems in the gravel garden.

Good material for the compost heap
The stems of Joe Pye Weed - they're a bit tough so I need to break them down a bit to help speed up the composting process 
Gorgeous seedhead

….. Caterpillars and cocoons

These 2 caterpillars were uncovered when I was weeding a border so were tucked back under the earth. Lots of moths/insects overwinter underground and emerge when the temperature rises.

This moth cocoon is well disguised on the frame of the kitchen window.

I watched the one below being made in August last year by the caterpillar of a Large White butterfly. It's under the guttering on the garage and I really hope I get to see her emerge. I must put the photos of the cocoon being made on here too as it was fascinating.

….. Cross-country running

There just hasn't been enough of it this winter as so many of my favourite routes have been submerged and even the bits that weren't under water were just too muddy to run through safely.

Last weekend I ran 10 miles on Saturday and 20 miles on Sunday. Thankfully the weather was kind to me on both days although the wind was rather strong on Sunday. 

My mileage so far this year now stands at 351 miles - not too shabby hey?! I'm sticking to my running streak and have run a minimum of 5k every day, usually more. My first couple of marathons are just over 4 weeks away so I need to maintain the intensity of my training whilst trying desperately not to get injured.

….. Car park

Here is the aptly named 'overflow car park' at Bodiam Castle. It's been flooded twice and the water doesn't seem to want to go away!

….. Church

The Church of St Giles in Bodiam was looking pretty when I ran past a few days ago. It's such a shame that the door has to be padlocked to stop people stealing things from inside.

….. Cat (and a very special one at that)

Tinker is still with us but the lump on his shoulder now extends under his front leg and he is getting unsteady on his feet. Poor little chap.

We continue to have our morning walk around the front garden which of course isn't complete without a drink from the dipping pond.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Time to get serious

I'm now in the really high mileage phase of my marathon training so it's time to start getting serious in my fund-raising and speaking out about dementia. In the next few weeks I shall be addressing a wide variety of audiences and I try hard to adapt my clothing accordingly.

Here I go again!
This is my semi-casual, serious but not intimidating look aimed at a younger audience with whom I would dearly like to identify as it's their generation who can really make a difference in pushing for more funding for research into dementia.

I think I'll give a random dementia fact each time I post so for today; just £20 will fund 1 hour of dementia research.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy things

The weather has been so gloomy here in the UK for months with rain, floods, people being forced out of their homes, strong winds and even mini hurricanes. My heart goes out to all those poor people throughout the country who have watched helplessly as their lives were turned upside down by giant waves or fallen trees.

Indeed, the weather has been horrendous all over the world and I think we will all heave a sigh of relief collectively when this vile weather abates.

That's why I thought I'd share some happy things from yesterday when the sun shone briefly and I spent as much time outside as possible just enjoying being alive.

This is Mr Sunshine and he lives on the side of our garage. It's a terracotta wall plaque that I covered in mosaic about 20 years ago. I can see him when I look out of the kitchen window and he always makes me smile. I'm amazed that he's still in one piece except for the missing red glass lozenge by his eyebrow.

In the garden things are flowering and budding-up nicely despite the weather. I have many different varieties of Euphorbia but the 2 that are looking magnificent at the moment are these beauties, E. wulfenii 'characias' and E.'Redwing':

Oh, those glorious red stems!
Violas, still pretty, although a bit battered
Beautiful wild primroses - they self-seed everywhere
New chives poking through the old flower stems (which the birds have been pulling out for nesting material!)
Plants for free - a Borage seedling amidst the variegated oregano
The gravel garden, looking a bit bare compared to June and July last year. I've cut back most of the grasses now as the new growth is starting to come through. Their bare, dried stems have danced around in the wind throughout the winter.

In the previous photo you might have been able to just make out a rust-coloured shape. It's our windmill which looks like a flower when at rest but the arms whizz round in opposite directions when the wind catches it, creating a kaleidoscopic effect. It also has beautiful shadows when the sun catches it.

The cinnamon-coloured stems in front of it are the remains of Eutrochium (formerly Eupatorium Purporeum)  aka Joe Pye Weed and their stems have glowed throughout the dull winter months.

I found this little grub when I was cutting back the parsley in the herb garden - he's positively luminous!

There are also some photos from recent runs to upload but I'm debating whether to share any more of the recordings I've made of the 'sounds of my runs'. Someone asked me why I don't wear headphones when I run and I told them it was because I enjoy just being immersed in my surroundings and so I started recording birdsong, waterfalls, trees and other things.

Poor Mike has been subjected to the sound of flood water draining off the fields ad nauseum. Even he declared that my geekiness had reached it's nadir when I subjected him to the sound of the wind creating an harmonic on a metal field gate the other day!

Maybe next time……….