Random thoughts of a would-be knitter

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sensational Stockholm

I started this post when we got back from Stockholm, which was, I'm ashamed to admit, well over a month ago! D and I had an amazing time and I just wanted to share with you some pictures from our week away and a list of things that I loved most about Stockholm. (In no particular order.)
1. Drinking cocktails at Erik's Gondolen
2. Ten Foot Flowers by Andy Warhol at Moderna Museet
3. Running entirely around Sodermalm
4. Dinner at Pet Sounds bar
5. The Stomatol toothpaste advert
6. Hotell Anno 1647
7. Buying wool at Litet Nystan
8. Drinks at the terrace bar above Bruno Arcade
9. Wandering the streets of Gamla Stan
10. Catching the ferry out to Skeppsholmen

Monday, September 24, 2012

Starting and Finishing

Sorry for the distinct lack of activity here over the last few months - there never seems to be quite enough time in the week and I don't know if I'm trying to cram too much in, but what with one thing and another, I've been a little bit busy. There are so many books that I want to read, so many places that I want to go, things to see and do, so many projects that I want to make and there's the garden too. If only there was an extra day in the week! I am trying to be disciplined and only read one book at a time, only have one project on the needles at a time, but starting and finishing have become a little blurred and I'm really just a bit rubbish at sticking to one thing at a time!

One thing that has been taking up quite a lot of time is the running that I've been doing. My dear friend Piney inspired me to sign up for a place on the Bupa Great South Run, a 10-mile road race around the city of Portsmouth, which I am now running on behalf of the charity that I volunteer for, Cruse Bereavement Care. It's definitely hard work and although I thought I wouldn't make it, I am now starting to feel a bit more confident about the forthcoming race. I think I might even be (... gasp ...) starting to enjoy running! My training schedule has involved an average of three runs every week and I'm now up to eight miles on my long runs, which takes me about an hour and a half. During the week, I have to limit myself to an hour and most of that will now be in the dark. (Can you see why I'm short on time.)

The garden continues to be wonderful and I have been finding winning ways with potatoes and discovered the joy of courgette carbonara and I'm really looking forward to the beetroot, leek and onion that are still to come out of the ground. Although absolutely beautiful, it is a little bit wild right now, but I have a few days holiday owing so I hope to be able to get everything ready for winter before it gets too wet and miserable. I have some seeds that I'd like to get in before the frosts and the weeds that have sprung up really need a good talking to! I've bought some bulbs for a bit of spring colour which will be something nice to look forward to.
On the needles, I have started (and actually finished) two baby dresses and my first ever pair of socks! One of my New Year's resolutions (aside from finishing things!) was to learn how to knit socks and when the lovely Heather at Born to Knit said she was going to be running a sock knitting workshop, I leapt at the chance. Seriously, what could be better than an entire day knitting - and learning something new at the same time? My idea of heaven. I have conquered the sock and can now turn a heel with confidence. I've even worn them on a wonderful trip to Stockholm, about which more anon...

Monday, August 6, 2012


I can't tell you what an amazing weekend I've just had! Admittedly, it had three days in it, which is a distinct advantage on your regular Saturday/Sunday two day event, but it was pretty brilliant regardless.

It all kicked off with outdoor drinks at the Magners stand in Wonderland on the Southbank with my very lovely sister before we watched Cantina. It is just about the most amazing show I've ever seen! It was part vaudeville, part circus, part magic show and altogether incredible. Some of the feats that the were staggering and there were times when the entire audience gasped in disbelief. The music was fantastic, the drama was sensational and we really did have an amazing time, I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like it and I would heartily recommend it if you're in London town. (Though, not if you have any under-eighteens with you!)

After a bit of a late night, Friday started with a leisurely lie-in, breakfast in bed and a bit of book - my favourite way to start the day. One of my New Year's resolutions for 2012 had been to learn how to knit socks and so I'd signed up for a day-long course at Born to Knit in Fisherton Mill. My resolution has been resolved (well, half) and my fear of turning a heel is no more! I can see how sock-knitting can become addictive and I've already been eyeing up some patterns on Ravelry. If only I could stick to one of my other New Year's resolutions which was to finish more projects... I did spend a certain amount of time on four needles and I have got one sock already completed. (Although there was a slightly tricky moment when I dropped a stitch watching Usain Bolt smash the Olympic record for the 100m sprint.) I have had to force myself to make a new resolution that I'm not to start the other sock until I have two finished and blocked baby dresses - let's see how I get on with that one, eh?!  

Saturday morning we were up (relatively) early for a jaunt to Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire to stroll around town and along the river, and to stay at the Henley Business School (D's alma mater and a very fine place to stay indeed). We started our weekend proper with a delicious lunch at Maison Blanc, followed by a mooch around the shops and afternoon tea at the Hotel du Vin. Back at the college we enjoyed relaxing in the grounds with our books before a lovely quiet drink in the bar and then a quick taxi ride back into town for dinner at The Little Angel just over the bridge in Berkshire. We've tried twice before to eat our dinner there and I have to say that the third time was a charm - dinner was delicious.

After a lovely moonlit walk across the river, we strayed back into the bar for some very glamorous cocktails. Simply heaven! What more could a girl want on a Saturday night? 

Monday, July 23, 2012

In the Garden

There have been many great things about this summer and although the weather hasn't been one of my favourites, it has been amazing for our new garden. I've just spent the best part of the afternoon out pottering; weeding and staking, encouraging and clipping - D and I even harvested our very first crop and enjoyed some simply stunning courgette and lemon pasta for our lunch. I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying being able to look over the garden and notice all the tiny little differences every day.

This time last year, our garden was completely unloved. Wild and full of weeds, it was an embarrassment. Now I am so proud of how beautiful it is and as I sit typing this, I can't help feeling a little bit proud of it. I couldn't have imagined that it could look like this, let alone be producing veggies for my lunch! I think, most of all, I'm looking forward to tucking into a steaming great bowl of potato dauphinoise. Mmmm! It's hard to resist the urge to dig up some spuds right now even though I know for sure that they're not actually ready yet!

Back in the house, and on the needles, I've started the first of two baby dresses for two friends that have recently had their third child - a bonny baby girl and for the lovely Juliet from work, who will having her first in no time at all. It's incredibly satisfying knitting for little people - whatever you're making grows so rapidly and the finished article always looks so cute!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Catching Up On Craft

I couldn't help but notice that in my last post, there was a distinct lack of craft - sorry about that! In my defence, I feel I should say that I was pretty busy and that I did manage at least to bake a batch of muffins to say thank you to my friends at work for all of their lovely gifts and I have finally mastered the art of pain perdu. Mmmmmm.

And it isn't as if I've been a craft-free zone. My quilt is still coming along nicely and I've just spent a really lovely afternoon quilting away while watching the very wonderful "You've Got Mail" by the talented Nora Ephron, who will be sadly missed.

I've also done a little bit of knitting, not much (especially as I decided to unknit a certain amount of my mustard shrug because it had some pretty shonky yarn overs in it!) but enough to still say that I am still a knitter. Just. Oh, and I made a pretty necklace for a friend at work, too.
I started writing this post in the middle of the night, in bed, during an almighty rain storm. It is both welcome and necessary (not to mention loud) but I can't help worrying that my poor tender veggies will be battered by this much water...

I can't tell you how much I love the new garden. I love watching everything grow and take shape - even weeding is a pleasure! And I've started a sort of garden journal to celebrate it all. Today I popped on my bike, cycled to Wilton and spent the last of my birthday tokens on a Temperley rhubarb, some basil and some garlic chives to fill the very last few spaces in the beds. I can't wait to start eating our own veggies. Mmmmm!

It's a bit brighter now and although not fully summery, D and I have made the best of our weekends with trips to the beach at Bournemouth and a glorious picnic at Henley-on-Thames. Here's hoping for a bit more sunshine and a lot more picnics to come!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hooray for HRH!

You can say what you like about the Queen, but I think she's a pretty amazing lady. 60 years of doing anything is pretty amazing, let alone being the reigning monarch of the UK. Now, I definitely wouldn't go so far as to say I'm a royalist but I can't tell you how much I've appreciated having a lovely long weekend for my birthday! And what a weekend it was!

Everything kicked off early with work's excellent Jubilee Party at the Tea House in Vauxhall. Costumes were worn, corgis had tails pinned on them, caption competitions were won (oh, yes), much Pimms, complete with gin-soaked fruit was drunk and a splendid time was had by all!

The following day ended with a trip to the V&A with my sister to admire the beautiful dresses in their new ballgowns exhibition. It was absolutely stunning and we rounded our visit off with a couple of delicious peach bellinis from the bar. What a great start to a birthday weekend!

On Saturday we received a visit from my friend a and an incredibly boozy 30 hours! We had a pretty good lunch at The Ship at Burcombe and spent the afternoon lazing in the garden (with more bellinis and some very tasty G&Ts) before heading out to The Haunch of Venison. We rounded off the day with dinner at home chatting and laughing till late.

Sunday, we were slightly hungover, but not so bad that we couldn't enjoy a delicious breakfast of pain perdu with bananas, strawberries, blueberries and honey. Mmmmmmm. Luckily, the weather held out and we were able to have the first picnic of the weekend and the very fabulous Parklife. Lying on a blanket eating and drinking while we read the papers and enjoyed the relaxed grooves and chilled-out atmosphere was the perfect way to while away the afternoon.

Sunday evening saw a party at our local to celebrate the landlord's birthday where D and I were joined by my good friend P for some good old banter and a lot of laughs!

Monday, day five of the fantastic jubilee birthday-fest was also D's nephew's birthday so off we toddled to Blandford to give him some gifts and to hear him play on his new guitar. He was having a sleepover with two friends which must have been brilliant, although I suspect that his mum and dad won't have had a great deal of sleep that night! Our evening was spent in the delightful company of my sister who came over to help really kick off the celebrations.

My birthday itself was wonderful and the best day of the weekend! I managed to restrain from present unwrapping until 8 o'clock - how impressive is that?! My sister wasn't feeling on top of the world so D and I had a quiet breakfast together and waited for Mum and Dad who arrived pretty early so that they could admire the new garden. Lots and lots of my presents were garden related (including a very swank Rob Ryand watering can and a pair of Sarah Bernhardt peonies) which was absolutely perfect!

Sadly it was too wet even for my family to picnic, but we picnicked in the kitchen anyway! The Pan Bagnat that I'd made the day before was a bit of a triumph and definitely a recipe that I'll be adding to my repertoire for future feasts.

All was not lost even if it did rain as I'd taken the following day off so managed to squeeze in yet another picnic and a visit to see the glorious roses at Mottisfont with Mum and Dad. The roses were gorgeous and I blissfully snapped away until my camera battery finally went flat and then we went on to see the Patrick Lichfield Polaroids exhibition in the house itself. We even went on a wetlands walk through a part of the estate which isn't ordinarily open to the public, where we saw all kinds of wildlife, including damselflies, a kingfisher and even a barn owl. What a wonderful day!

And if that wasn't enough when I finally re-entered the world of work on Thursday I was completely spoiled rotten by my gorgeous friends at work. Thanks to everyone, family, friends and her majesty, for a lovely, lovely birthday! Hip, hip, hooray!

Monday, May 28, 2012

What a Wonderful Weekend

Best in Show
Foxgloves Galore
 The last three days have been an absolute whirlwind of delights, with trips to the Chelsea Flower Show and Malmaison in Oxford all rounded off with a bit of knitting, quilting, running, and some quality time in the garden. 

Kaffe Fassett's Emporium
of Fabrlc Delights
Roses, Roses, Roses
Having narrowly missed out on tickets to Chelsea last year, my sister and I were determined to make it and she booked our tickets in January. I can tell you that it was definitely worth the wait and lived up to all of the hype and way beyond my expectations. It was all so beautiful that I ended up feeling rather overwhelmed by it as we strolled the pathways soaking up garden after garden after garden. The Brewin Dolphin Garden deisgned by Cleve West which won best of the show gardens was a worthy winner and my sister and I were both really taken by the Laurent-Perrier Garden designed by Arne Maynard. 

We had an absolutely smashing picnic and I went completely belly up for the whole Artisans' Retreats area. The Kaffe Fassett exhibition was probably my favourite thing of the entire day, though I'd be hard pushed to say that there was anything about the entire day that I didn't like!   


Oxford was almost equally lovely and D and I had the most delicious meal followed by an afternoon of browsing bookshops and a picnic supper in the Oxford University Parks before retiring to our rather lovely accommodation that D had booked through the university. What a wonderful weekend!