Wednesday, 15 August 2012


If you read Gina's blog here, you'll know that she's signed up to take part in a sponsored Starlight Walk - ten miles starting at 11.30pm on 8th September, in aid of the Garden Hospice.  I was just about to sponsor her online, when I thought - I wish I was doing the walk!   Anyway, to cut a long story short, I spoke to Gina, who didn't mind me 'muscling in' so I've signed up to do it too.
In preparation, this morning I decided I'd better go for a walk.  Not just my usual, wander down into town, a lap of the charity shops and Waitrose, before staggering back up the hill with too much shopping, but a proper brisk, concentrated-effort type walk.  So I put on my trainers (which I ONLY ever wear for exercise purposes, I'm not generally a trainer-wearer) and black exercise leggings and tee shirt.  A glance in the full length mirror confirmed more 'over stuffed black pudding' than 'finely honed athlete' but never mind.  
I'll admit I did waiver a bit when I heard Noel Gallagher being interviewed on XFM - he can be quite funny - but I thought to myself "What would Jessica Ennis do?" and turned the radio off and set out, making sure that I had my phone  (you never know when you might need to call on the services of the air ambulance) and £5 in case I passed anywhere selling cake.  

I walked briskly for an hour, mostly along the towpath towards Ware, then over the bridge and back towards Hertford.  I did have to walk through a field of cows, and was a bit concerned in case I caused some kind of stampede, but they didn't even look up.  To be honest, I think by that time, I had worked up such a pace that I'd have just been a blur.  

I'm beginning to think I must be fitter than some of those Olympians - I certainly didn't throw up when I'd completed my exercise - although it was touch and go when I had to scrape something rather unsavoury from the treads of my trainers. That'll teach me to walk through a field of cows.  Actually, what gave me most cause for concern was the Police helicopter that appeared to be circling over my garden whilst I was scraping the nasty into my garden bin.  I thought, "Blimey, they're taking the whole 'No Animal Waste in the Brown Bin' thing a bit seriously"

Anyway, enough of my gruelling training schedule.  I forgot to show you this

Ages ago I promised my knitting friend Lucy that I'd make her a machine embroidered picture for her kitchen (which is to be redecorated with a teacup theme) as an exchange for a partially knitted denim jacket which she'd started ages ago and lost interest in.  Actually, when I say partly knitted, the only things it needed was one cuff, two pocket flaps and stitching up so I think I got a really good deal.  
For one reason or another, Lucy's picture has been on the back burner, but I did feel bad every time I wore the jacket, so I finally did a few practice pieces, and then I made it.  
In case you're interested in such things, I used a heavy calico as the base fabric, which I gesso'd for a bit of texture, then free machined the cups and saucers with black thread and the colour comes from some little scraps of Liberty fabric left over from Sarah's quilt.  Finished with a bit of vintage lace. 
Lucy seemed pleased with it, and at least I can wear the jacket now without feeling guilty.

Oh, in case you feel inclined to make a little donation to the Garden Hospice, you can sponsor me here

- but not if you've already sponsored Gina - you can think of us as a team.  Oooh! Team GG!

Walk - Foo Fighters

Sunday, 12 August 2012


Haven't the Olympics been absolutely brilliant?  I'm not usually one for watching sport, but I haven't had anything else on the television since the Olympics started - I've watched sports I'd never heard of!  Everything about it has been fabulous, and all those doubters who thought we couldn't do it - you were SO  wrong.  And to the people who moaned about it costing too much money, I think it's been worth every penny.  The whole event has far exceeded most people's expectations, and it truly HAS been inclusive - even those of us that didn't get tickets and have watched it on the box have chatted about it and talked about our favourite bits.  (I have to say, a suprising number of the people (women) I've surveyed, seem to include Tom Daley in their Top Ten. Including my elderly neighbour Nora. Whilst watching the finals of the men's diving last night, Nora mentioned that she was "quite keen" on Tom, and her daughter pointed out that she IS now 97, to which Nora replied "I'm old, not dead!"  If that's not 'inclusive' - what is?

The politicians and sporting legends are now talking about the 2012 legacy, and the hope that Team GB's success will inspire others to participate more in sporting activities, which that would certainly be a good thing, given our ever expanding waistlines and couch potato lifestyles.

Anyway, David Cameron and Seb Coe, it's worked - we ARE inspired!  I was chatting to my parents on the phone about what activities they fancied taking up, with a view to competing at Rio in 2016.  My Mum (81) says she definitely fancies a go at dressage.  Not sure if she's ever ridden a horse before, but you don't know until you try, do you?
My Dad (84) is definitely going for cycling.  I was a bit concerned that he was going to go out and get himself a BMX, but he said he would prefer to keep his tyres on the ground, so it's the Velodrome for him.  Hopefully, with his sense of humour, he may be able to bring a smile to the face of the miserable bloke who rides at the front on a moped.
I wasn't immediately sure what to go for.  I considered swimming, because I can do at least 20 lengths of the pool.  But then I really don't like getting my face wet, and I'm a bit concerned that all that chlorine would take the colour out of my hair.
Definitely not boxing - I really don't think I'm up for punching someone repeatedly in the face.  Although on second thoughts, on occasions I have been sorely tempted .......

Then I realised EXACTLY the sport for me.  I've already got a huge supply of sequins, and more ribbon than you could shake a stick at.  It's the rhythmic gymnastics for me.

I've been practising, and I think I've already mastered walking into the lounge on tippy-toes with a haughty expression on my face. 
Rio - bring it on!

Rio - Duran Duran

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sur La Route Des Trois Chateaux

I've just had a few days in France with my cousin Sheila and her husband Mick, pictured here outside their modest little place in Normandy  ....

Ok then, that's not really their house, it's just one of the three chateaux we visited.  We got a guided tour at the first one, and although we only have a smattering of French, the guide spoken slowly, and we had the added benefit of a kind French lady who was fluent in English and she translated the bits we didn't understand.  So, most of it.
The second one had the most fantastic set of terraces down to a magnificently laid out parterre

No pictures of the third one unfortunately - it was hammering down with rain, and I wasn't about to risk destroying a second camera this year.
The weather didn't spoil our fun though, we just stayed indoors and made jam.  Well, not me obviously.  Sheila made the jam,  and I drew pictures of jam.

Oh, and I did play a part in acquiring the plums.  Does anyone know the French for "I'm sorry officer, I didn't realise that scrumping was still a crime in France"
On the way back to the ferry on Sunday, we stopped off in Granville to see an exhibition that Sheila had read about.
It was at the Christian Dior Museum, at the house where he grew up

The house was very grand
and the gardens were beautiful

I tried to look like an elegant and chic film star, but I'm not sure I pulled it off
So I went for tea and cake instead - which WAS elegant and chic
The exhibition was really good, and involved a bit of sketching as photography was not permitted.  Obviously I needed a souvenir, and I couldn't afford a frock, so settled for a book of cut out dolls (I always LOVED cut out dolls!) and some pencils. 
A really lovely time - and because we hadn't had any tv or internet for the whole weekend, what a bonus to read the papers on the ferry on the way back and see how brilliantly we're doing in the Olympics.  I'm not really a sports person, but you can't fail to get caught up with it all, now that it's here.   I didn't initially apply for tickets, but having watched the Opening Ceremony, and spoken to people who've been to the Olympic Park and say what a fantastic atmosphere there is, I am so glad that I've managed to get tickets for the Paralympics to see some of the athletics.

Oh, and in case you wondered, here's a real picture of Sheila and Mick's place
(It's probably only a matter of time before he digs a moat)

Sur La Route Des Trois Chateaux (yes, it's really a song!) - Andre Kirschner