Sunday 18 July 2021


Walking the same routes:

I'm trying to get more exercise now that I'm retired - focussing on moving more, sitting less, and making sure I get out for at least one 30 mins walk every day. I know this doesn't sound like very much, but I'm coming from a very low baseline, having been so sedentary whilst working from home/trapped at my desk for over a year during the pandemic. So every weekend my husband and I do a long (60 mins) circuit of the park on Saturday and Sunday morning, and then during the week my daughter and I follow a shorter (30 mins) route as part of her lunch break. 

The longer walk is mostly through the woods, so it's cool and green and shady even in hot weather. 

The path meanders downhill for the first half of the walk...
...and then climbs back up in the second half, where the road runs perfectly straight ahead for half a mile, with just a little dot of sunlight at the top where it emerges from the tunnel of trees. When I first started walking this route I used to plod along with my head down, focussing on just putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the top, but lately my pace has started to quicken, and it's less disheartening when I round the bend and see that long uphill stretch in front of me. I'm still hot and breathless by the end of it, but that's a good thing, right?!

The route I take with my daughter is through the former golf course in the middle of the woods. The fairways are now mostly meadowland, seeded with wildflowers and left to grow untamed, apart from a network of paths mown into the long grass (currently teeming with grasshoppers, butterflies and bees). I feel lucky to live so close to this beautiful place, and never get bored by walking the same routes over and over again as the seasons come and go. 
Sewing the same bag:

This is the latest edition of my Extra Pocket Bag - the 'Forgetful Mum' version, which has integral loops inside the bag and in the outside pocket for securing keys, bus-passes and wallets (using retractable key rings). Made for my Mum after she discovered she'd left her bag (containing all the above items) on the bus. Hopefully, when worn as a cross-body bag, it will be harder to lose - and one less thing for her (and us) to worry about.
It's the 7th Extra Pocket Bag I've made since the end of March, and I really haven't grown tired of making them yet - perhaps because they have all been variations on the theme, made to reflect the individual needs and personalities of their owners.
Knitting the same scarf:

This is my 'Joyful Colour' version of the Mini Mania scarf.  After I finished the blue 'Jeans' version a few weeks ago I really missed having something easy and 'mindless' on my needles. I went through the bag where I keep my assorted left-overs (some of them just a metre or so in length) and pulled out all the 4-ply and DK yarn. I set myself the challenge of using it all up, with each row consisting of either a single length of DK or two lengths of 4-ply held together. I wasn't sure how well the (very) random colours would combine, so I decided that rather than trying for anything 'tasteful' I would deliberately go for complementary colour juxtapositions  - yellows followed by purples, reds by greens and blues by oranges - interspersed with paler, neutral shades of grey or off-white. I was really surprised by how much I loved these colour combinations, and how much pleasure it gave me to knit them together. It's a little shorter than I would like - it's more a muffler than a scarf because I just picked up one of the smaller balls, cast on until I ran out, and that dictated the length - but it's still perfectly wearable.*

*I know this because I actually wore it several times before the heatwave hit...a knitted woolly July. Simply couldn't resist.
It's the 5th Mini Mania scarf I've made to date - top left below was the first, made in greys and primary colours for my eldest son. This was followed in quick succession by the pastels and cream version, middle right below, made for my Mum. I honestly think this pattern should come with a health warning because it is seriously addictive. I know it's only a matter of time before I cast on another one - if only to try and discover if there is any possible combination of colours that doesn't look absolutely fabulous in linen stitch!
Knitting the same hat:

This is the 'Circle and Square' hat by Martina Behm - yet another genius design which starts with a circle and ends (seamlessly) with a square. It's the first one I've made, but it is 100% guaranteed not to be the last. 

Thursday 1 July 2021


My Dad found this book in a charity shop and for some reason it made him think of me...
...maybe it's because there are pebbles everywhere in my house. In jars and bowls, in carefully balanced stacks, in pride of place on the mantlepiece, and even on the windowsill outside...
...there are bucketfuls of 'blank' pebbles in the garage, bought for making little keepsakes to give to friends and family at my wedding five years ago (bottom right) and for place settings at my daughter's best friend's wedding (bottom left)... 
... so every so often I paint a few more - either to give as presents, or just to please myself!
You could be forgiven for thinking that someone as pebble-rich as me wouldn't need to go pebble-hunting ever again, but when it's your younger son's wedding and his bride-to-be wants pebble place settings, and she's letting you do them instead of out-sourcing them to a professional pebble-painter...suffice it to say you are going to hit the garden centres and DIY shops hard - or as hard as lockdown rules permit you to - in search of the perfect pebbles. 

The initial request was for plain grey, but everywhere we looked the cobble-style pebbles were out of stock, or the wrong colour or size, and slate just wasn't giving off that nice, rounded pebbly vibe. So when I came across some pretty "Silver Mist Plant Toppers" (top right below) in the pouring rain on a Sunday morning, at the only remaining garden centre left to try in our local area, there was only one thing for it. Reader, I purchased them.
Last week I channelled my inner Goldilocks and sorted them into 'Too Big', 'Too Small' and "Maybe' piles, chose eighty-six 'Just Right' pebbles from the one hundred and fifty-four 'Maybes'...

...and then put them to soak in a bucket. All that remained was to paint a few, to get the seal of approval from the bride-to-be.
Because white ink was quite difficult to see against the speckled stones I hit upon the idea of putting a wash of acrylic paint in the area where the writing would go. Payne's Grey, with its slightly bluish tinge was perfect - you can still see the speckles through the paint, but the writing is much more legible. I know the calligraphy leaves a little to be desired, but I think they look quite pretty, and more importantly my soon-to-be daughter-in-law loved them. Five down, eighty-one to go!

On my beach there are many pebbles...