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Friday, 9 December 2016

priorities

it's been a strange week. i've had to think a lot about what is actually important to me, and what i value, but i'm finding this is going head-to-head with my sense of responsibility and, at a more base level, i suppose, greed. (it sounds so much better when you call it a sense of responsibility, no?!)

i think i made the right decision - i'm pretty sure i did - but - but - but - it's one thing to think about earning copious amounts of money metaphorically - it's another entirely when it's actually offered to you. which it more or less was. in a job offer for a bank. doing more or less what i do now - but for a bank (a very very big bank).

aaaaannnnd - i've declined. more than one of my acquaintances has expressed their disbelief at this decision. (it all happened at work through one of our ex-colleagues - there was no way to keep a lid on it.) i myself wonder if it is a sign of extreme sanity or insanity. and i know - it is sanity - but i wonder if maybe in this life a little insanity is what we all actually need. maybe i really am looking a gift horse in the mouth. or maybe i understand the true value of life and live accordingly.

or maybe - it actually doesn't matter and the timing just wasn't right and opportunities come again and you don't have to weave a damn philosophy around it.

it's the last one isn't it?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

and from work



Tuesday, 29 November 2016

winter sky


i worked from home today and popped out to run some errands in the afternoon. it's clear and cold out here at the moment - below freezing cold (cue rabid tabloid stories of "coldest winter ever" and "snowpocalypse". it's -2. there's no snow. they are crazy). anyways this was the sky coming home - a cold winter sky - so beautiful. as i took this picture a man walking his dog stopped and told me that when he was out this morning on the morning walk, one of the trees was dropping the last of its leaves and they were catching in the frosty light and how he stopped to take a video, too. we smiled at each other and went our separate ways but it was lovely, that little connection - both to the beauty of winter and to another human who was also enjoying it.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

autumnal

i've had a cold for the last almost two weeks so haven't been running. tonight i went for a walk instead (still sniffling). it was beautifully misty and atmospheric - the nights are drawing in and the air was damp-ish but not actually wet. it smelled of chimney smoke and the sea. the beauty of autumn comes in many guises...



n has started 12 hour shifts at work so i have evenings more or less to myself for awhile. i miss him dreadfully but i am finding the new kitchen *quite* consoling! tonight is brass band practice so that will keep me occupied. aptly, we're doing a version of eric carmen's 'all by myself' (a song i have hated ever since i had a roommate who played it on endless repeat whilst bemoaning the loss of her knuckle-headed hockey-playing boyfriend. i always think - no wonder - going on like that.) however i think tonight the dreaded christmas music will come out. the whole band will groan but secretly i love it. beats the hell out of 'all my myself' at any rate.

bring it on!


Saturday, 15 October 2016

roasties

the house smells of roast potatoes. roast potatoes roasting, my friends, in our new kitchen. even though there are still plumbing issues, and the house looks pretty much as you would expect from 5 weeks of builders, and i have a dreadful cold, and there is so much to sort out and clean and put away that it feels like we've just moved house - i can truly say it is well with my soul.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

space

ah my poppets - do you know what this is?


this, my darlings, is our living room with no kitchen cabinets leaving only the narrowest of corridors to squeeze through. this, after almost four weeks (4 WEEKS!) feels like insane luxury. this means that eventually, someday, maybe even before i grow old and frail, we will have a kitchen again.

things have been delayed. of course they have. this is britain. the electrician who was supposed to come on monday postponed until wednesday. on wednesday he did come but said he couldn't do the work till the next monday as we needed a whole new set of circuit breakers or something electric-y like that. the next monday he postponed until tuesday and didn't finish until wednesday. just like that - 6 working days lost. 6 no-kitchen-washing-dishes-in-the-bathtub-banging-head-on-stairs-trying-to-avoid-fridge-in-the-entryway-oh-my-god-this-house-has-gone-feral days.

he left this:

which when we came home last night after work was magically transformed into this:



there is much to do but we now live not only in hope but in an actual living room.


Monday, 19 September 2016

kitchen part eleventy billion

are you as sick of this as i am? I suppose i haven't posted that much about it - but it does seem endless at the moment. we have kitchen in every room of the house except the kitchen:






the english weather is not exactly cooperating with our eating outside strategy:

and i feel quite eeyorish because i have a terrible terrible hangover today. which is bad on many levels not least that i am 42 years old and really ought to know better. i do know better. i ran the faversham 10k race again yesterday morning and when it was finished, instead of stretching or eating a good meal, i wolfed down rice cakes and cheese and headed to the pub where i proceeded to get, well, frankly, pissed as a newt (a very squiffy happy newt) with the running club. i deserve how i feel today and i will never do this again but oh - i am being punished, i promise you. i did knock almost 5 minutes off of my time from last year though!

meanwhile i may never drink again (see? this is a serious hangover). in all serious i think i may have a drinking break. my body has been yelling at me all day and i think i'd better listen.

in kitchen news (arghhhhhhhhh!) the electrician who was supposed to come today has postponed until wednesday; the floor goes down tomorrow; and terry has painted the walls a lurid green that he swears is the swatch i picked but - well - we'll see. i am in no condition to consider it today.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

three down, still married




before we started all this madness, i read a blog by a woman who had done her kitchen. she said she made cabinets for eight hours after work one day. eight hours. i can now tell you with absolute authority - she must have been barking mad. or at least for sure by the end. it is knackering. boring and knackering and worst of all does not combine well with wine. we have only managed one an evening, and tonight the final drawer was only completed with a bit of self bribery:


tomorrow i have a day off and i get to do this all day! unfortunately i am referring to the cabinets, not the wine. when i get bored of that i can start packing up the kitchen. deep, deep joy.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

and so it begins



Sunday, 4 September 2016

another hop festival...

it's sunday night and the hop festival is over for another year, heralding the imminent advance of autumn and the roller-coaster into christmas and beyond. hard to believe.

it's been a great weekend. our friend s stayed - we were out on the town on friday, and most of yesterday too. the weather has been great and we've drunk rather a lot of very very good beer and heard some truely fantastic music. this morning we popped up to whitstable to visit some more mutual friends of both of us, and, after breakfast, sat on the beach all together and watched kite surfers swirling and leaping in the waves. back in faversham, i went for a run and s biked with me, then we headed off into town again as the brass band was playing. n had a proper gig (in folkestone! on hop festival weekend! madness!!) so it's just been s and i and we've had a lovely afternoon. she's off back to the big smoke now and i am flopped on the sofa with a glass of cold wine and a vague sense that i probably ought to be tidying up or making lunch for tomorrow or something but - well, it will wait.

it feels like liminal space this evening - the pause - the moment before all the action takes off again and we either leap or are dragged into the maelstrom. the ikea delivery is tuesday whereupon the house becomes a kitchen factory. the actual ripping out will commence next monday. a lot needs to happen before that!! but one thing at a time. my biggest concern now is what we find when we start ripping out, but i can't do much about that so we'll just have to see what happens. it is what it is. (it's funny - a few years ago, at work, when we were going crazy trying to get the exec to make decisions on time and not delay the construction of the new building, they kept saying "we are where we are" and it was SO infuriating. but in a lot of north american books and tv shows they say "it is what it is". there's a real difference between those two phrases even though they sound like they are the same. it's like one is more temporal, more fluid. i wonder if it's a cultural thing. i have probably overthought this.)

anyways.

this evening, the house is calm. there are no stacks of boxes and half-built cabinets. it is still summer (despite the encroaching darkness of the evenings). i am going to bask in this as i have a feeling in my bones it may be sometime until it returns...

Sunday, 28 August 2016

august bank holiday

i am sitting very contentedly in our little patio garden. i have a glass of wine, a bowl of olives (the italian ones stuffed with bits of anchovy - salt in salt - yum). i'm waiting for n to come back from a gig this afternoon but i can tell from google maps that he is still at the pub they were playing in. (h says this is technically stalking - but i disagree. it's because n always leaves his phone location on and his home pc logged into google so when i open google maps on his pc it shows me where his phone is. useful is what it is). it does bode ill for dinner tonight though. at this rate it will be dark when he gets home and we were going to have a bbq. not impossible, but possibly unwise.

i've been out too - to our running club's summer bbq. when i walked into the pub the landlord rolled his eyes at me and gestured into the garden with his thumb - "back there, you lot" he said, somewhat despairingly. it was a fun afternoon - they're a good bunch - although pretty much what you'd expect from a running club with the unofficial motto of "a drinking club with a running problem". (note to self - i should really get someone to translate that into latin for us and put it on a tshirt).

tomorrow is a holiday in britain and we are celebrating by going to ikea. ha ha ha ha ha.the kitchen has been agreed and we are meeting an ikea kitchen planner to check through the order and make sure we haven't missed anything. if all is well we will order and the roller coaster of madness will be launched. i have come around to the idea but i am still leery of what is ahead. on the upside - it will be distracting from all the general crap life throws up and that can only be a good thing. as i get older i find myself overtaken at times with general anxiousness about life, the universe, and everything. i am currently combating this through humour, wine, work, meditation, knitting, love, and companionship - but a good dose of distraction won't go amiss.

i see from google maps that n is still in deal, where they were playing. do you think they are being mobbed by fans? "another song" someone must be bellowing. "i would love to, but my wife wants to bbq" is not a phrase likely to be uttered, is it? i hope its that and not that the car has broken down. i'd better come up with a plan b for dinner i suppose. that is a shame though we can always bbq tomorrow. best laid plans and all.

just checked again - they're on the move :). god, maybe this IS stalking.......


Friday, 12 August 2016

kitchens

it’s friday, early evening. i am sitting at the table with two laptops open in front of me, ikea catalogues spread everywhere and a large glass of wine. i am supposed to be working on the ikea kitchen planner (a soul destroying concept if ever there was one). to be honest, i would rather scrub out the toilet with a toothbrush than spend another minute with that bloody kitchen planner. but our landlady (may she blessed with health and happiness now and forever more because she is amazing, sweet as anything, takes wonderful care of us and hasn't raised the rent) has decided that the kitchen needs replacing, and has given us free reign to design it and have our friend t do the work. n is stupidly excited by this. i have resisted from the beginning because i know how awful kitchen renovations are. and in this house! ai yi yi. may god have mercy on our souls (can you tell i’ve been listening to trashy novels set in the era of victorian england? i’m sorry - i can’t resist. at the moment it’s james clavell’s taipei. it is a deliciously trashy adventure story about the founding of hong kong. they are always saying things like “damn your eyes” and such and it’s difficult to shake off. work seems a little benign after an hour of pirates and opium smuggling.)

anyways i digress. having a new kitchen will be wonderful - the old one is awful - there is no doubt about that. i do not believe it was designed with anything other than a rudimentary knowledge of what happens in kitchens and as such it is a really frustrating place to cook. we have the chance to improve it but with great power comes great responsibility. last week we had to advance directly into the jaws of hell ikea itself. on a sunday. those are hours of your life you are never getting back. interestingly, i have never seen so many pregnant women in one place in my life. ikea is obviously where the modern british women nests. i, however, clearly have no nesting inclination whatsoever and hated the entire experience. how many choice of cupboard doors do you need anyways????? who cares if your counters are white or grey? how can a tile be "trendy"???? i am not cut out for this.

our builder comes back on the 18th and we need to have decided what we want by then, which means planning it out on the ikea kitchen planner software. which sounds easy, even fun. i can assure you it is neither. i can only assume the purpose is to soften you up so by the time you are sitting on your living room floor in tears, surrounded by 200 small boxes of flatpacked cabinets, trying to find the right set of screws for the pttttttbh cabinet or whatever the hell it's called, and failing even at that - you will be too demoralised to go back to them and say this is utter and complete nonsense - stop trying to open up these portals into hell and sell furniture like normal companies.

yep. i'm looking forward to this. oh yeah.



Monday, 4 July 2016

the third night

it's the third night back in the uk from our canada trip and jet lag has once again come to bite my arse. it's always the third night. n is happily snoring away - and i was tired - sleepy even - i put up my book and turned out the light and....

45 minutes later i got up. maybe i should just make myself lie there but i start feeling antsy. tired and antsy and horribly horribly awake. i sleep the first two nights and i always think maybe this time it will be ok - but no. bastard jet lag just hangs out till you've relaxed your guard and then whammo.

oh well. i should really be used to this. and is it so bad, really? so i'm awake. i have some very good books to read, i have a nice glass of wine. maybe it's because i know i have to go to work tomorrow (i worked from home today) but i can go in late - it will be fine. i am going to try to just go with it. be one with the lag. perspectives on jet lag.

sure.

(groan)

Sunday, 5 June 2016

calm before storm

it's sunday afternoon. the weather is - if not hot, certainly acceptable. we have just finished an epic 5 hour very lazy bbq. the sort where we cook something, then eat it, then cook something else, then replenish the coals because we have taken so long the fire will go out, then repeat and repeat and repeat. everything is green and the trees are full of birds and squirrels and i am full to the brim with prawns and sea bass and lamb chops and asparagus. and wine :)

the plan is to have a lazy afternoon bbq then go in and get sorted for we leave on saturday for our triennial pilgrimage to the old (new) country. n has gone inside - i can hear him rustling about in the kitchen. i need to go in and help him. there are dishes to wash, a table to clear (it is more a magnet for detritus than anything else), a new work week to prep for - and if we get on with it and sort it out then we can lounge about watching telly and eating popcorn.

but - it is so lovely out here. and one of my favourite songs has come on the shuffle player. i don't want to go in.

oh god he's washing the dishes. i can hear them clinking.

there's nothing for it i'm going to have to go in and (shudder) tidy up.

happy weekend. may your dishes be done quickly and your bbqs stretch into infinity x

Saturday, 14 May 2016

more running

today's run did not start out well. it took me about an hour to get changed and put on my shoes and i dithered and sulked for most of that. i surfed the net and generally pissed about until even n was getting annoyed. are you running or not? he asked pointedly.

the wind was cold. there were a lot of cars on the first stretch. i passed a thuggish looking young man and thought to myself hmph. tracksuit bottoms. how classy. (keep in mind at this point i  am wearing what could only be considered an unflattering sausage casing of purple lycra).

i rounded the bend. there was a small village church, flowers blooming, sun shining against the stone. behind it a rapeseed field in full bright yellow bloom. i rounded the next bend heading up water lane hill and all of the hedgerows were green and alive with birds and rabbits. the branches of the trees met over the road and it was so beautiful it almost made me cry. oh how awful your life is, i thought to myself, that you are forced - FORCED to go out and be a part of such an incredible landscape. that you can move and run and breath and experience all of this beauty just outside your door.

that is why i run. i will try to remember that from the beginning next time.

Monday, 2 May 2016

clearly mad

i ran my 2nd ever 10k race this morning - the whitstable 10k. it seemed like a good idea a few months ago when it was all far flung and esoteric. it's amazing how proximity changes your view on things.

however, run i did - and i shaved 4 minutes off of my last 10k which is none-too-shabby-if-i-do-say-myself.

then all the runners from faversham running club headed to the pub to celebrate, and celebrate the first year of the clubs' existence. "just one," i thought.

4 pints of oyster stout later.

it's true. we really are a drinking club with a running problem. it's nice to find your people.

pre-stout

Saturday, 16 April 2016

good friends

me: i just worry that i'll end up old and broke and eating cat food
helen: no that will never happen. cat food is really expensive. you wouldn't be able to afford cat food.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

the tankerton arms

 the tankerton arms is a micropub - no more than a room really. this has become a bit of a thing in kent lately - micropubs serving only real ale, cider, and a local wine. there is even one in faversham, but the tankerton arms in tankerton is my favourite by a country mile.

it's not just that they serve great beer (they do), it's not just that everyone talks to each other (they do), or that everyone seems to have a witty comment (they really do). it's not just the recent addition of a piano and an impromptu 4 hand rendition of  heart and soul (ahem. i can only apologise for two of the hands).

it's the loo.

the loo is tiny. there's not enough room to even see if it is occupied or not so when you go in you hit a switch that turns an outside light from green to red, thus saving both embarrassment and a door-to-the-nose.

the walls of the loo are lined with the pictures of patrons dogs, all named, all framed. it's a loo of love.





we met a friend of ours walking his dog in the park today as we were coming home from the market. he was asking when we were getting another dog, and when we hemmed and hawed, he told us that they had waited 18 months after their first dog had died before they got another one. they thought they'd like the freedom, and they did, a bit. but when they got their next dog it just felt like they had wasted 18 months.

we've been talking about dogs again - we just couldn't face it right away - humph still has a rather large chunk of my heart sewn up - but maybe our friend is right.

we'll see.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

and they call it lopi looooovvvveeeee






ps isn't he handsome?!



Sunday, 27 March 2016

ps lopi mania

young felix loved the easter egg hunt, brunch was fabulous, and i've spent the rest of the afternoon and evening  knitting (it is blowing a gale and pouring with rain so this is sensible. ahem.) i'm in the heady yoke section of n's lopi and i think i may even finish tomorrow. the magic of watching the pattern emerge is 

so. much. fun.
it ees maaggiiiicccccc!
i think my hands are going to fall off.

hoppy easter!


it's the calm before the storm. in about twenty minutes felix and his parents and grandparents will arrive and all hell will break loose (in the best possible way). we've made an easter egg hunt with rhyming clues (and far far too much chocolate) so hopefully young felix will be entertained. i don't know if he'll have the attention span for it - we'll see how it goes. doesn't matter really - n and i had a blast making it all up so there's already been good entertainment value. we're having a brunch of hot crossed buns, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, feta and hard boiled eggs.

i tried to make natural easter egg dyes this year (6 of them are ok but the other 6 look like something that survived the plague). the dyes were fine - red onion skins for pink, yellow onion skins for orange, red cabbage for blue. however i forgot that all our eggs here are brown so the pink ones look like burnished wood (interesting but not particularly appetising), the orange ones are ok, and the less said about the blue ones the better.

i'm starving. i might need to sample one or two of those mini eggs. you know - just to make sure they're ok :)

happy easter!

Saturday, 5 March 2016

change of plan

we were supposed to be driving up to winchcombe in the cotswalds this weekend to visit n's uncle but we've been derailed by a nasty cold that has left us spluttering with phlegm and cursing the heavens (quietly - it also comes with a very sore throat).  germs not being the hostess gift we had in mind, we've rebooked and now have an unexpected free weekend in which to recover (and knit! and read!) so i have gotten over my disappointment rather quickly.

i am still obsessed by lopi jumpers - i am halfway up the body on n's already. they knit up so fast and i love how the interesting bit at the yoke is last so you always have something to look forward to. i think at this rate (and especially after this weekend) i should be at the yoke in another week. whoohoo! no one ever tells you how exciting knitting can be. i still remember the first time i figured out cables. i thought that the lopi shade card would help me pick what colour i want my next one to be but it has had pretty much the opposite effect as i now want them all. well maybe not the pink but pretty much everything else. colour junkie.

n's still in bed and as there is no way i'm going for a run this morning (my throat has nearly exited my body at the very thought) it seems like there is nothing for it but to laze on the sofa with a cup of coffee and my kindle. oh the horror! (grin)

happy weekend everybody

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

ooooh pretty...

Sunday, 28 February 2016

lopapeysa



i have become completely consumed with knitting icelandic lopapeysa jumpers. it started last year when i knit my asta jumper:
it was the first time i knit with lettlopi wool and i didn't really understand it at all but i loved the result. lettlopi is icelandic wool and it's unspun so it traps heat. it is also a little rough and - well - there's no way around it - a bit hairy. but it is so warm - wearing one of these jumpers is like putting on a small oven. when i finished this jumper i kept trying to wear it as a jumper - underneath a coat - and it just wasn't working for me. This autumn i finally twigged that all those pictures of lopapeysas were outdoors - in iceland - in winter - and when i started wearing it as an outer layer we fell in love.  the jumpers are knitted bottom up and seamless - so you knit the two sleeves, then the body from the bottom, then join the sleeves in and knit the yoke. most of the patterning is in the yoke and it is so much fun to knit i cannot tell you. knitting crack.

anyways i've started one for n now and i am eyeing up another one for myself so i have caught the lopi bug hard. i've just finished the two sleeves and started the body of n's and i wanted to check the sizing so i blocked one of the sleeves so i could compare before and after washing.
it's amazing the difference blocking makes in evening out stitches and colourwork. i'm not surprised - a good bath evens out many of my rough edges too (literally and figuratively). 

this morning i ordered a wool colour shade card from iceland so i guess this particular fascination isn't going anywhere soon. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

well that went well

i think we can surmise that i am too busy to contemplate, take and post daily pictures. oh well, nice thought.  here's a lovely winter sky from my run yesterday instead:



Saturday, 2 January 2016

2 Jan: to do


on the upside, you can now get into my study - the flotsam and jetsam of ironing boards and clothes dryers, instrument cases and stuff-that-may-be-useful-but-only-3-days-after-you-finally-throw-it-away have been corralled into shelves and drawers, or thrown away (yes, i know).

on the downside i have several pairs of jeans that won't patch themselves.

Friday, 1 January 2016

also

i think i may try another one of these:


starting tomorrow obviously. can't be too rule-based you know.

happy new year

wow again. like clockwork! ha ha.

it was a very quiet new years here. i had a stomach bug so i was in bed by 930 hoping if i fell asleep i wouldn't feel so sick. luckily it was just a 24 hour one so it worked and i woke up 11 hours later feeling much better. nothing like a bout of stomach flu to make you appreciate your health.

it's been a good year in many ways - but mostly i just think about losing humph this year. i really missed him this christmas. when we put the tree up, when we cooked the turkey, and my lack of snuggle buddy for the in-between days of snacking and reading and binge-watching boxsets. on christmas day we got up and walked around the park anyways because it just seemed like the only thing to do.

but it was a good year - and next year will be too. to all our friends and family (if one can make such a distinction) happy new year. may it bring health and happiness, friendship and warmth, good food and laughter, wine and beauty.

love to you all x