Archive for July, 2008

Is it foggy in here? And really, really hot?

July 31, 2008

I can’t believe it is now Thursday afternoon.  I’m struggling to cope with how fast the days and weeks are passing me by at the moment.  The painkillers aren’t helping, with the foggy haze in my head.  Neither are the hormone drugs, with the hot flushes.  And through it all, the pain is there, worse than ever.

But still, life goes on, and I WILL live it as best I can. 

I didn’t make it to work until Wednesday this week, and then I worked at home all day.  I got in to the office this morning, and stayed until lunchtime, which is progress.

On Tuesday, I spent lunchtime in the coffee shop at our local Borders (mmm…hot chocolate), meeting a lovely lady named Judith, who has just recently moved to Swindon.  Judith found me through Ravelry, and contacted me to find out whether I knew of any knitting groups in the area.  The only one she had found herself meets in the evening, which didn’t suit.  I don’t know of any either, in fact don’t know any other knitters, so couldn’t help.  I did suggest meeting up and trying to find others who might like to join in with a lunchtime group. 

We didn’t actually do any knitting on Tuesday, as the coffee shop wasn’t the best environment, but we talked knitting, showed each other our current projects, and generally got to know a bit about each other. 

It was lovely to talk to someone who knows what I’m talking about.  And so good to compare projects, equipment, yarn and yarn shops.  Hopefully we’ll meet again, and try to find other people to join in too. 

Tomorrow we’re off to Hertfordshire for a friend’s wedding.  I have to stay off the painkillers tomorrow until we get there (I’m the only driver in our car), then all day Saturday as our hotel, the wedding and the reception are in different places, and on Sunday until we get home.  A’s mum is coming with us, and another of our friends is also coming in our car.  We’ve arranged the rabbit-and-house sitter, just got to do something about the cockatiel. 

But for now, more painkillers, shopping, ironing, packing…nothing new!

eta – the rabbit is snoring, really loudly, right by my feet.  Freak!

Monday already?

July 28, 2008

That’s another weekend over, at breakneck speed as usual.  Despite the fact that today is Monday, I’m not working.  The pain that has tormented me all weekend is only just receding, so I’m faced with the task of learning to live without the painkiller smog yet again.  With it comes the ‘lack of painkiller headache’. 

But enough whinging, I’ll get over it, I just need a day to deal with it. 

I spent almost the entire weekend cross-stitching.  I have done very little cross-stitch for a long time now, but on Friday night I realised that our friend Tim’s wedding is next weekend and I had not made a single stitch towards his present at that point.  Hadn’t even got a design, in fact. 

So on Saturday I put away the knitting (but…my socks!) and spent the morning working out how I wanted it to look and designing something I could hopefully stitch in a week or less.  Of course, to make it more complicated, Tim and his fiancee live in New Zealand.  They are getting married here, but then have to travel back at some point in the near future…so picture frames are out. 

I’ve put together a design, using Maori symbols and a Maori wdding blessing.  I’ve charted it and started stitching it.  In fact, so much time have I already spent on it, I’d have finished last night if I hadn’t run out of one of the thread colours. 

I’m not going to post a picture until it’s finished, as it won’t look right.  Also, not until after the wedding…just in case. 

Last night (due to the lack of thread aforementioned) I did get an hour and a bit to knit my socks.  Just enough to realise that they are way too small, never going to fit me.  So I ripped.  And started them again.  There was something weird going on with my gauge, somehow.  I’m not normally a tight knitter (or a loose knitter for that matter), but somehow the socks were totally different to the swatch I’d knitted before I started.  I have no idea why, but hopefully moving up two needle sizes and reminding myself to relax will help. 

Anyway, what does this week bring?

  • fruit and veg boxes today (hooray!)
  • meeting with Judith to knit tomorrow
  • a visit from the very pregnant Rachel at work on Thursday
  • a drive to Hertfordshire on Friday, for Tim’s wedding on Saturday.

It will be quite a busy one.

Photo Saturday

July 26, 2008

Morning.  Not only did I make it into the office for every one of the five working days in this week (and on time or early I might add), but I also got up before 9am today!  And it’s not even a knitting thing!  To be honest it’s more to do with the heat here at the moment.  It is so hot I’m not sure I can stand it.  Obviously, feeling heat is a subjective thing…it’s not desert hot of course…but it’s a lot warmer than it has been here for a while.  And the tablets don’t help, with the hot flushes (yesterday I almost fainted three times) and bouts of serious perspiration. 

Anyway, today won’t be a wordy one, as I’m finally on the home computer with time to spare, and have all those photos I’ve been promising to hand.  Okay, when I say ‘all’ the photos, I obviously mean the few I’ve managed to take…which came out okay. 

So…boat things first:

My pretty shawl, finished just in time, and worn several times including ‘formal night’.

The view from our window.  Did I mention the free upgrade to a room with a window? 

A pretends he can read a map.

At the formal dinner.

Next, a few knitting bits:

My first ever complete pair of socks!  Modelled by A, who they are for.  Note the hairy legs…I may be lazy about shaving them sometimes, but my legs just aren’t that hairy!

Lovely new yarn from Denmark.  Oh, what to make, what to make?

The little tiny poncho I made for one of the latest arrivals (Lili).

My newest project – socks for me.  The pattern doesn’t show up too well in the pictures, but it’s a combination of cabling and lace and looks good.  I can’t decide at the moment whether I’ve made it big enough, but can’t quite make up my mind to frog it and start again…just a few more rows and I’ll decide.

And finally…my lovely new project bag:

It’s sturdy and strong, small enough to carry comfortably without feeling like I’ve got my life with me at all times, good handles for carrying on the shoulder or by hand, and big enough to carry one or two projects and anything else I need such as purse, keys etc.  The only further thing I might wish for is a smaller pocket inside.  Apart from that, I love it!

Okay, after that picture overload, I’d better get on with the weekend’s housework.

A Devil’s Playground

July 24, 2008

This week has been really busy so far, at work and at home.  My colleague and friend Theresa came up from Plymouth to visit for two days, staying over in between.  Of course it would have been rude not to meet up with her in the evening, for pizza!  There goes the healthy eating kick again! 

The boss-man has also been here to visit, bringing more work with him. 

We managed to miss my step-niece’s Birthday on Tuesday, because we were out with Theresa. 

Yesterday I spent all afternoon at the hospital with Mum, as she had to have a load of tests done.  They were pretty gruesome tests, but I’m glad I went because she was not in a fit state to get herself home afterwards.  She had planned to get a taxi, rather than impose – as if I begrudge helping my own mother out when she needs it!

Last night we had a supermarket delivery…that’s 4 weeks worth of shopping over and done with.  We’ll still need fresh bits and pieces like milk, cheese etc, but only stuff we can get from the local shops. 

Today and tomorrow should hopefully be a bit quieter.  Which is good, because I’m exhausted and feeling the pain.  The tablets still aren’t working, although the side effects have really improved since I reduced the dose.  Apart from the weight gain…nearly a stone in 6 weeks.  But the Doctor-man said to give it another month before deciding one way or the other, so I’ll just keep plodding on. 

Anyway, back to the title of the post…a strange story from our travels in Scandinavia.  We quickly got into the habit of drinking cocktails at night, on the boat.  Normally, at home, we drink very rarely.  Occasionally A goes out with his mates and downs a few pints, once in a while we buy some lager or wine, and we’ve usually got a good bottle of Cognac tucked away for when we feel the need.  But for some reason, on the boat we drank loads of cocktails.  Lots of different ones. 

We also stayed up a lot later at night than we usually do, drinking, wandering around the boat or just sitting talking in our cabin. 

On the second night on board, the boat was on it’s way out of Amsterdam.  We watched as we left the port, got distracted by the cocktails and forgot all about where we were going. 

Late at night, sat in the cabin feeling slightly tipsy, we glanced out of the window before we settled to sleep.  A noticed that we were moving through a canal, approaching a huge lock.  On the lock-side level with us were several gulls, one of which was walking alongside the boat.  He was peering in through the cabin window, quite curious and not at all afraid.  We watched the comical waddling and hopping of the gull for a while, then left him behind.  Fairly soon we stopped in the lock and soon found two more gulls watching us.  One was sat comfortably on the ground (Fred), level with our window, the other was walking along on a plank of wood at the water level (Bert).  We watched Fred and Bert for a while then suddenly – Whoosh!  A massive flame shot up into the sky, starting some distance above the ground, burning blue and green and orange.  It took us a few minutes to work out that it must be from a massive chimney or something.  The flame burned brightly, got smaller and dimmer and eventually went out.  Almost immediately a second flame started in a slightly different place, and at the same time a great big plume of smoke rushed out of another chimney. 

For maybe an hour we knelt on our bed, leaning across the window-ledge, watching the flames and smoke appear and disappear from one chimney after another.  They looked like enormous blow-torches or flame-throwers, all colours from green and blue to deep red and yellow.  In a weird way they were oddly beautiful, totally mesmerising.  In the almost complete darkness the whole scene took on an eerie, scary aura and we speculated that this was a foretaste of hell, a demon’s playground. 

Of course in the cold light of day, the next morning, we knew full well that it was probably an oil refinery or something similarly industrial and prosaic. 

But I prefer the surreal ‘we’ll wake up and think we dreamed this tomorrow’ image we experienced at night.  No doubt the alcohol played its part!

Wow, work is booooring!

July 22, 2008

I’ve always struggled to keep myself occupied at work.  No matter how much I have to do, it’s just not interesting enough, at least not most of the time.  Occasionally I get hit with a real challenge, something to get my teeth into, and then I’m fine for a while.  I think it’s a lot worse after such an amazing holiday.  Instead of feeling relaxed and chilled and going with the flow, I want more stimulation and I just don’t get it from my job.  Somewhere out there is a job I could truly love, something I wouldn’t mind getting out of bed for.  I just have to work out what it is! 

Sadly of course, money is a driving factor in any job/work related decisions and plans.  I just cannot afford to take a job that pays less than I earn now.  In 3 years or so, we will have finished paying off a long-standing loan and we will be much better off.  With the extra cash we can then start clearing the credit card and overdraft.  Yes, I am terrible with money, and unfortunately bring A down to my level. 

Our current attempt to control our spending is a ‘what we want’ list.  Instead of rushing out and buying everything we want as soon as we think of it, we write it on a list.  From time to time we review the list and cross things off.  The plan is that when we do have some ‘spare’ money, we’ll treat ourselves.  Will it work?  Who knows.  By the way, I borrowed the idea from Crazy Aunt Purl, who is always worth a read.

Anyway, back to the work thing…better get on with some!

What do you mean…make my own dinner?

July 21, 2008

Seriously, the service on this boat has really deteriorated over the last two days.  I was thoroughly enjoying the 24 hour room service, 6 course dinners in the restaurant, cabin-dude who cleaned up after us, promenade deck for strolling around, cocktails in the bar…and a whole lot more luxury.  And yet now I find that I have to do everything for myself again.  That’s so disappointing!

Honestly though, we have just had the loveliest holiday ever.  It was so totally relaxing, I think the subject of work only came up once the entire time, and that was just a quick moan about having to return. 

I’ve only got a few photos to show for it, being predictably rubbish with the camera, and I can’t even put those up now as they are on my home PC and I’m currently on the work laptop.  They will follow though, promise.

What is there to tell?  Here is a list of all the things which were lovely:

  • the boat
  • the food
  • the cocktails
  • the places we visited
  • the promenade deck
  • the fun of dressing up for formal night
  • having a cabin-dude to keep the room tidy and clean
  • watching the boat-rope-dudes unhooking (technical term) the ropes from the dock
  • the organised walk around the deck to raise money for a breast cancer charity
  • the room service
  • sleeping in the afternoon

And lots more, of course.

I’ll keep some details to include in future posts, let’s just say it was lovely.

On the knitting front, I wore my finished shawl on formal night, over my pretty dress and it was lovely and warm, plus comfortable and pretty.  I also got a lot of knitting done on A’s socks, which I finally finished last night. 

The best news of all was that I found not one, but two yarn shops on the same side-street in Copenhagen!  That was not a cheap shopping trip!  Again, I have photos of all of this, but they will have to follow.

So, today it was back to work.  Nothing new or interesting to report at home.  The bunny-dog missed us, still hasn’t got over our desertion and is clinging to our heels all the time.  My great-aunt died last week, so Mum has been up to Yorkshire for her funeral.  My friend’s dog had a tumour removed but will not need any further treatment.

Tomorrow and Weds my friend and colleague from the Devon & Cornwall office is visiting me here, so it’ll be nice to have some company from my won team.  It’s always fun to catch up with T, we have a laugh.  And some work might get done as well. 

The boss-man is also visiting on Weds, to talk to both of us about various things, then Mum has two hospital appointments in the afternoon. 

It’s our step-niece’s birthday this week too, so it’ll be a busy one.

More baby news – my brother’s ex-wife (and my friend) had her third baby last weekend, a little girl called Lili Lorna.  We popped in with gifts yesterday, and she is so pretty, just like her sister Madi. 

Anyway, back to work…the more money I earn, the more we can save, and the sooner we can get back on that boat!

Challenge abandoned…for now!

July 11, 2008

I’m just not destined to get up early.  I’m no good at it.  The get-up-half-an-hour-early challenge has completely fallen by the wayside, after I accomplished it just once.  Rubbish!  I have managed to a) get up at least 10 minutes earlier than usual and b) get up, every day this week.  That’s good going in itself. 

I’ve almost finished my lace shawl…left it blocking last night, now I just have to weave in the ends (should I have done that before blocking?) and it’s done!  In time to take away on the cruise, which is perfect.  I’m back to socks.  The pair I had started for A are coming along nicely.  I’ve finished the first one, and made a start on the second one.   Hoorah!  I’ve printed out a few interesting looking patterns to take away, figuring it would be easy to knit socks while travelling and on the boat.  I’ve got the remaining 4 balls of Lana Grossa to play with, and my lovely set of DPN’s, so all I need then is my usual bag of tricks.  Which contains:

  • snips (small, pointy scissor-like implement, with a cover to prevent accidental snipping)
  • needle case with 3 different sized needles (tapestry/sewing rather than knitting)
  • string of safety pins, for use as stitch markers, row markers etc
  • ruler (yes, I should buy a tape measure, but I already have a ruler and it does the same job in most cases)
  • cable needle.  I’d like to try cabling without a cable needle, but until I’m sure I get it I’ll carry this as back-up.

It sounds like a lot, but all fits in a bag big enough to hold the yarn and needles, while remaining small and portable.  The safety pins are my favourite bit of kit…they are versatile, useful, easy to find and use and belonged to my Nan.  Every time I look through Nan’s sewing box for something, I find yet another string of safety pins, so she obviously had the same high opinion of them as I do!

I’m sorry I hadn’t started knitting before Nan died.  She had a reasonable collection of knitting stuff, and I could have made good use of it now – she’d have loved that. 

So…the holiday is nearly upon us.  Suddenly it has stopped being scary and become really, really exciting.  I can’t wait!  I’ve got to work until lunchtime, then I’m officially working from home this afternoon.  Although, I have unofficial permission to spend the time at home on packing and getting ready to go.  The boss-man is a friendly man sometimes.  Usually, to be fair.  I don’t even have to feel guilty about it after that 13 hour trip to Leicester last week. 

So, packing, last minute shopping (isn’t there always something?), delivering Billy (the cockatiel) to A’s Mum, fussing the rabbit and reassuring him we will return, tidying the house…and getting excited!

We’re off tomorrow morning, so I don’t plan to post again until at least Saturday evening, maybe not even then.  I’ll take the camera, try to get a few pictures…but don’t count on it! 

So for now, au revoir!

(Lots of exclamation marks!  Can you tell I’m excited?!)

Challenge Failed!

July 9, 2008

I didn’t manage to complete my get-up-half-an-hour-early challenge on day 2.  How lame is that?  Yeah, yeah, I’m a lazy good-for-nothing layabout!

I did get up 10 minutes early, which was fortunate.  The traffic this morning was truly awful, thanks to the torrential downpour that is the British summer. 

Never mind, there’s always tomorrow.

A New Challenge and a New Petticoat

July 8, 2008

I set myself a new challenge last night, to start this morning.  And I achieved it, for today anyway.  I tend to get to the end of most evenings and resent having to firstly stop knitting for time reading in the library, and then stop reading for bed.  I feel cheated, like I haven’t got the most out of my day.  It occurred to me last night that this could be because I lose so much time in the mornings.  I get out of bed with just enough time to eat breakfast, wash, dress, brush my hair and clean my teeth before I leave for work.  If anything happens to disrupt that simple routine, I am late for work. 

Loads of other people, A included, get up much earlier than my lazy 7.45am, stay up just as late at night and have more time in their day.  Can I get up earlier?  Not usually!

So last night I promised myself that if I got up half an hour earlier, I could have that half an hour for knitting.  Guess what, it worked! 

I don’t suppose it’s really news that knitting can get me out of bed – twice recently I’ve managed to get up early for knitting supplies delivered by the postman, and on Saturdays as well!  I’m just surprised that I did it.  I don’t get up earlier than I have to, I’m lazy and love my bed too much.  Of course, to make sure I got to work on time I did the ‘getting up’ routine before sitting down to knit.  And I set an alarm to remind me when it was time to leave, in case I got carried away. 

The challenge is on for tomorrow – bet I can’t do it again!

On a totally different topic, while shopping at the weekend, I found myself buying a petticoat.  I haven’t owned such a thing since I was a child.  I remember my nan always wore a petticoat, every day, as an essential undergarment.  Except on the rare occasions when she wore trousers, of course.  I haven’t even given a thought to such a thing in years, until I tried on the new skirt I bought while we were on holiday in Woolacombe in June.  Luckily my sister-in-law pointed out that she could see my knickers…before we left for the fancy restaurant!  So my new skirt has been languishing in my wardrobe, alongside the pretty skirt my Mum gave me (also see-through against the light), waiting for a petticoat companion. 

Hoorah!  Now I can wear my pretty skirts.  Shockingly, I also discovered recently that one of the skirts that I wore over and over a few summers ago is also transparent against the light as well!  Oh well, now I can wear it again, confident I’m not displaying anything I wouldn’t want to show off in public. 

And on that note…back to work.

Where did the weekend go?

July 7, 2008

Why does Monday always take me by surprise?  I know it’s on its way from the minute I finish work on Friday, to the moment I drop off to sleep on Sunday night.  But still, the alarm on Monday morning is shocking.  Truly frightening. 

That said, as Mondays go this isn’t a bad one.  I’m working at home for a start.  The software issues I had on Friday have been resolved so I can get on with my list of things to do.  There was a whole Toblerone in the drawer, which I’d forgotten about.  In fact, there were two, so I don’t even have to save any for A or suffer the guilt attack if I eat more than my share.  Not that I’ve eaten it all, you understand, it’s just the luxury of knowing that it’s there, and it’s all mine. 

So, what’s coming up this week?

  • 1:1 with the boss-man first thing Tuesday morning.  In my office, at least I don’t have to travel;
  • Phone calls to the hospital to resolve appointment issues for my Mum, who is on holiday;
  • Veg box and fruit box as always 🙂 – I’m down to two apples so I’m looking forward to it;
  • Packing for our cruise!

I can’t quite get my head around the idea that we’re actually going on a big boat…on SATURDAY!  It’s exciting and scary and really, really soon.  We’ve arranged a bunny-and-house-sitter, and planned to deliver the cockatiel to A’s Mum.  We’ve dragged the wheelie suitcases down from the attic.  Yesterday we went through the clothes we are planning to take and I ironed those that needed it .  I still have to contact my big bro and arrange to meet up with him, as he lives in Southampton, where the boat starts from and ends up.  We could see him for lunch, then he can help us get our baggage to the docks 😉 . 

Another reason for today being a good one, as Mondays go – I heard from my friend from Uni that she had a baby boy last week.  Hoorah!  Congratulations J&G!  I must dig out one of the pretty things I’ve knitted for occasions like this, post it to her.  Sadly, they are living oop north at the moment, and very soon moving to New York for a year, so I doubt if I’ll get chance to meet Baby any time soon. 

Anyway, enough babble, back to work.