Saturday, 30 July 2011

Blogging in the Rain- Pt 2: the disappointing sequel. The rain in Grain has seeped into my brain

Wishing I'd just slapped up a couple of photos at the time and been done with it- now this has been built up out of all proportion.  Anyway, let's get it over with:

Woke up after a rainy night, to a rainy morning.   It did abate for a moment while we went to get fried things for breakfast. As I was sitting on a bench waiting for Rich to find his wallet, contemplating the meaning of life, and asking for some sort of sign, I looked up and saw this. Coincidence?
 So, suitably fortified, onwards to the Isle of Grain, to let the novelty wear off naturally and observe, and possibly frolic, amongst the wildlife.  Here is but one of many moments on the road:

Slightly stunned to see a vespa out having fun today. Depressingly had to speed up to get near enough for the photo.  

First destination, somewhere on the Isle of Grain:

always good to have a system
grey flora on grey background with grey skies ahead
Surprisingly hostile-looking fauna

a view- there was a lot of this sort of thing
the only other wildlife of the day, and it really wasn't so much wild, as a bit grumpy.
the compulsory shot of the children's graves which may or may not have inspired Dickens to write Great Expectations.
next stop- it was harder to appreciate the natural beauty from inside the van, but I believe the right choice

After a battle to get it uploaded, this should take things to another dimension 

 Next stop- misreading the map, and past a 'no entry' sign and onwards, just to see.

it would appear the only reason for this being off limits was that its unattractiveness caused an offense to the eye. Even the security guard couldn't be bothered to stop us and ask awkward questions.  

Next stop, the correct bit of coastline.  Rich accidentally forgot himself and started having fun, a bit.
This was all I had to work with.  a semi-decomposed crab.

At this point, the sun started to come out, so we beat a hasty retreat and went home.  So that's done.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Blogging in the Rain- Pt 1: It started with a knit

A little introduction, before I get started:

The whole decision to start a blog came from nothing good.  It was born from envy of following the glamorous bloggable lives of a couple of ladies, namely Needled and, more recently, Rus in Urbis .  Both are knitters, both found by chance when  I was looking up other things, and both have things in common with me, especially the latter.  Now, I KNOW that blogs are edited, and if I look at the dates of posting I can see that they both have their share of unworthy days that pass unblogged.  And yet, I still take it all at face value. 

So I decided to prove to myself that my life is as blogworthy as anyone else's.  And so it began.

As I'm quite partial to the odd mosaic, and not long back from Pompeii and Herculaneum, we decided to see a bit of Roman Britain.  I remembered a knitting pattern I had seen (yes, everything really does start with a knit) and we picked St Albans.

By the time I typed my first post, we had already booked a little weekend away, I had my new camera and was ready. 

When Saturday morning finally came round., I leapt(ish) out of bed, flung back the curtains and...

Not to worry: a bit of rain won't get us down.  Not on this, our special weekend.  Looking forward to putting my new anorak through its paces, we set off, laughing all the way.  Here is but one of many moments on the road:

First stop, having decided to leave the walk around the Roman walls for another day (maybe), was the indoors, covered, dry Roman museum, just a short wade from the car park.  For no reason that I remember, I decided not to use flash, which has given everything a slightly sinister air.

if you look closely, you'll see Mr Turner has been less than careful. 
Uplighting lends your basic everyday handicrafts a touch of much-needed menace

If there was a reason, I can't remember it

And finally, here is Rich having a whale of a time in front of the mosaic that started it all off

The pattern is here:  Roman mosaic jacket and yes, I do believe I'll make one.  

At the gift shop.  Do the teddies have a wardrobe, or should this have told us something?

Another bit of sightseeing to continue the cultural tour.  Oh, Look! it's an historic pub.  I wonder if it's as historic inside... 

One soup later, a brief drizzle of mildly apocalyptic proportions and a quick swim back to the van, and onward to the mostly, but thankfully not completely, outdoors Butterfly World, featuring Ant World. 

I acknowledge these are of limited artistry, or indeed interest, but I am by now desperately trying to find any photo with any colour.

Over time, the sky rained itself out, and was having what would  turn out to be a short break from deluging, so we made the most of it, and went around the concept gardens, some of which I got on with better than others.

What's that coming over the hill? Is it a 50 foot ant statue? Yes.

 What would Joanie Do?  

Rich spotted the Dali reference, I just spotted our lobster

 my one attempt to connect with the garden and take an arty snap of the poem that ran throughout the area, when Rich came over to see what I was doing.

we had something not dissimilar...

And so part one ends, with us warming ourselves in the cafe, perusing the flyers for places to visit, such as: Discover Dartford! Wicked Watford! Potter in Peterborough! etc.  On to tomorrow, and the Countryside....

Monday, 11 July 2011


I saw a blog the other day about rambling (the outdoors type, not my type). The blogger apologised to her audience for not finishing one walk sooner, but she had a backlog to clear.

If you have a backlog of walks to do, you're not enjoying walking. What would be the worst thing that you could do about it? Stay in bed? It's not like all these untrodden rambles are cluttering up the countryside, gathering dust in the meantime...

My hobby, on the other hand, is completely out of control. There, I've said it. Not content with moving house to somewhere with a wool room, then getting a 9 foot wide pan-dimensional craft cupboard to go in it, the craft still cannot be contained. It creeps, like a silent woolly guilt demon out of the cupboard, down the stairs, into my handbag, everywhere. Yet it never seems to diminish, no matter how much I stare at it, think about it, get uptight or overwhelmed by it. Sometimes, the craft pixies invade my brain and I come home with even more STUFF that I don't know what to do with, or how to do it.

The worst ones are the ones where I've spotted a nice bit of fluffy/sparkly something, don't know what to do with it, have created a project around it, usually necessitating several hundred other purchases, and then I'm too scared something might not go to plan to do anything about it.
God bless Lidl- £1.99 for three balls. There's enough there to knit a cover for the house, but I still went back for more. I did actually make and finish a jumper, and am now struggling with a matching cardigan. And to think it was originally going to be a knitted cagoule.

The other worst ones are the ones where I try to be proper creative like a designer. Where I go on a knitting holiday in France in 2007, stay in the Monet Room, get a postcard with a waterlily on it, see a wraparound top and some buttons and decide the world will be a better place if I can combine all these elements into one item of knitwear. After buying another project hamper, and enough wool to crochet a ladder to the moon, then about 1,800 beads, just in case, and one ball of wool from before the turn of the millennium, just to prove you must never throw anything out, I am ready to start.
4 years later, one sample piece, a quilting attachment for the sewing machine, and some soluble plastic, I'm ready to start. Oh yes, and I got a loom and learnt to weave, to do a border. And a flower making gadget to put flowers on the border. And so on. And I can't admit defeat, burn it all and move on with my life, preferring to suffer the guilt of incompleteness over all reason and sense.
It took six hours just to get to this point, before any actual weaving. I could have fled the country in less time.

And this is but one of many, many half-finished, half-baked projects. I simply can't go on like this. I was going to put a hall of shame up here, but there is too much shame. I could dedicate an entire blog to my failure to see anything through to the end. Instead, I'm going to put up a list of EVERYTHING I have on a separate page and make decisions on it- whether to sell it, ditch it, or stitch it. It might help. It might tip me over the edge.

The hard bit will be parting with things that I've never felt compelled enough to do anything with, but which have become part of the furniture (sometimes literally), over the decades.

This might not look much, but this has moved house with me several times- I hate the colour, hate the scratchy wool and stopped knitting it as I wasn't sure if it would fit, or if I had enough wool to make the sleeves. Solution? Do nothing until I am at least two sizes fatter and it's guaranteed too small. Rich made sure I didn't try to unravel it and keep the wool. It's a step into a more spacious world.
But what's to become of the monkey? Started so long ago, it was the digital monkey long before Tetleys got hold of it. I'm so pleased I've just remembered it.

The stash has a value while still in its wrapper and unused. The stash has no value when a half-made rainbow origami jacket, from a French pattern with a different sized wool. I didn't buy any extras for this, unless you count the PhD in particle physics I took to work out how to convert the pattern. With hindsight, some might say this was all a terrible, terrible mistake.

My thoughts at the moment are that if I manage to part with the surplus craft, and even get some cash for it, I can consolidate it into one more manageable craft.

Like quilting- I've always wanted to quilt, ever since I just thought about it a moment ago. I mean, why wouldn't you want an American Pie ?

Thursday, 7 July 2011

In Training

At the time of drafting, I’m still very new to the whole ‘going to school in a choo-choo’ lark and the novelty has far from worn off. After 3 years of bus drudgery, the fact that my journey time has gone from an hour to 20 mins or that door to door time has gone from 2 hours to one is nothing short of wondrous. Add to that the smooth, silent train sliding through pastoral scenes to alight at equally picturesque stations, and it’s all I can do not to sit there inanely grinning like a loon.

I am becoming aware of the in-carriage laws, and am realising that in order not to look like a day tripper or escapee, there are commuting rules to observe:

No smiling unless barking down a phone to someone, or possibly no one.

No talking, unless relentlessly gassing to your companion to prove you have a life beyond work, of a subject even you are secretly boring yourself with (every Michael Jackson LP you ever owned, its provenance and track by track analysis) while making all your fellow passengers fight the urge to flee to another compartment, at one of two volumes: audible-yet-indistinguishable, or transcending even the most powerful earphone/tannoy combo.

Annoyingly, I have never seen a nintendo being deployed-not sure why; presumably considered immature. All games must seemingly be played on the latest hi-tech, remortgagingly expensive, fruit-based communications devices and provide minimal-to-no entertainment. Even better if you can adopt an air of being mildly bored/annoyed by your own game of choice.

No-one seems to eat other than in extreme conditions, especially not flasks or picnics, apparently. Never homemade. Anything to be consumed must have cost at least as much as the journey itself, be in a polystyrene cup, or designer paper bag, heated to the temperature of the Earth’s core, rendering it life-threateningly hazardous before cooling to setting point (there is a very small window of edibility before this happens).

Earphones are allowed, and podcasts are my preference, but it seems imperative to maintain a glazed, disinterested expression and not react to the content in any way, facially, vocally or by flailing about rhythmically. This has meant an embargo on Erasure’s greatest hits, at least until I become a proper commuter, lose my sense of humour and can comfortably scowl while immersed in pop

Eye contact is NEVER to be made, especially in the unfortunate situation I found myself in today. I have learnt to adapt quickly and when a most unpleasant smell emanated from the lady next to me, wafted over me and slowly claimed half the train as victim, I copied everyone else and adopted a puzzled frown and look around the carriage, while never catching anyone’s eyes. I can’t believe anyone thought it might be me over the massive heffalump spilling over her own seat and onto mine. Do I look like my diet is so lacking in fibre that I would be capable of what she did to the compartment? Twice.

On that note, my weight is creeping up again. I have decided to Take Myself in Hand. I don’t yet know what this entails exactly, but it feels like it’s a start, and possibly even enough in itself. In fact, I feel so much better for making the decision, that I can relax again. And now I’ve discovered QVC and the two-way stretch polyester slack, the fear has less of a hold over me.

I have one photo to illustrate this post. Noticed at Etchingham station and snapped on my replacement camera (it wasn't me after all), this has appeared outside the new (to me) cafe, which has also appeared since I last got the train last year. To me, it poses more questions than it answers, but I don't really want to investigate, as the truth will surely be duller than any images it conjures up to me:

So, in summary, the commute currently fills me with wonder, is as relaxing as a mini-retreat and joyously lacking in lunatics. Ask me again in December.