31 Dec 2014

Christmas looked like this

5 days down in the New Forest wherein we ate turkey and stuffing, christmas pudding and iced biscuits; drank sloe gin, port and lemons and countless cups of tea; watched festive films and back to back episodes of Mongrels; sat around the fire and opened presents; went for walks in the forest, along the sea front at Milford, around the winding paths of the old salt marshes at Lymington and up to the village of Lyndhurst for a couple of drinks in the pub and to see the lights; played cards for hours (sh*thead is the family fave) and took a trip to the outdoor (heated) pool - a vague attempt to work off some of the xmas feasting.

It was over as quickly as it arrived and I'd be lying if I said I feel rested. But, as always, I'm grateful for the break from London and to be able to get together with my family, including Moriarty who came along for the ride - he's a pretty well-travelled for a hamster!

In other news, it's the last day of the year - cue standard "where has the time gone?!" bewilderment -  the year when I had the best day of my life so far, the day I married my favourite person in the world. And where will you find us fairly-newly-weds on our first new years as husband and wife? Eating pizza and watching a movie, most probably in bed. We did have plans to welcome in the new year with friends at a party near Brighton but Mitch is a rather poorly. So, it'll just be a quiet night in for the two of us. I can think of worst ways to spend new year's eve :) Hope you have a good one wherever you are. See you next year!

23 Dec 2014

feeling festive...finally

Much much later than usual, I'm finally feeling festive. I'm going to blame the crazy busy situation at work for my lack of excitment about the Christmas break. However, the last week or so was full of fun seaonally exciteable get-togethers - dinner and drinks with Mitch's work friends, drinks with work, our first "Christmas" with Mitch's family this weekend and, the evening that kicked it all off: mulled wine and mince pies while we decorated my friends' tree. (Incidentally that was one of my favourite evenings in a while and the best tree dressing I've experienced - there's a lot to be said for a group doing it together.) Now I'm very much looking forward to a well-deserved break, a good few days out of London, surrounded by family. It's gonna be good :)

It'll be quiet on here for the next few days as I'm off to the New Forest (in less than 5 hours!!!) so I'll wish you all now...
Merry Christmas / Happy Winter Break!

For anyone who's still not quite there festivie-wise (and everyone who is) I leave you with Mike Oldfield. I think it's actually impossible to feel anything but super happy when listening to this.

20 Dec 2014


As you may have guessed from the title, Moriarty turned two yesterday. It may sound odd but the milestone of his second birthday pleases me immensely. First of all because he is ace and I love him to bits. Secondly because the life span of a Syrian hamster is 2 - 2 ½ years and I feel happy in the knowledge that not only has he reached this expected life-span but he is experiencing the good life - clean home, varied diet and lots of play time. He gave us a bit of scare earlier this year but I couldn't be happier that he'll be sharing another Christmas with us :) Happy birthday buddy.

18 Dec 2014

four quarters

I've actually had this post hanging around in my drafts folder for a while now and although we went quite a few weeks ago I just had to mention it because Four Quarters is pretty ace.

Based in Peckham in an old butchers shop, four quarters is a bar full old skool arcade games. The twist, you'll be surprised to know, is that the machines are american and you can swap your 25ps for quarters at the bar. A lot of the games seem to only require you to pay once or, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles one (which Mitch and I completed), not at all.

They stock a great selection of beers and screen films and the like using a projector (WWF was on when we first arrived). I can imagine that it gets busy on Friday and Saturday nights but we went on a Sunday evening which was rather chilled and, most importantly, we got a go on all the games downstairs. I'd highly recommend a visit if arcade games are your bag. I'd also recommend a visit to the Peckham Bazaar for a very lush dinner (which we had) worth booking a table though. So, should you ever find yourself in Peckham, I think I've basically planned your evening :)

15 Dec 2014

what Sundays are made for

1 // Sleeping in till late
2 // Crocheting whilst Mitch plays computer games
3 // Christmas present making (aka potato printing)
4 // Spending quality time with my sister (aka watching The Guardians of the Galaxy)
5 // Keeping myself sustained (aka eating mince pies with brandy butter)
6 // Cuddles with Moriarty
And not a job application form or cover letter in sight.

13 Dec 2014

bobble hat

A couple of nights ago I finished my first ever hat!

Not gonna lie, I'm pretty chuffed with it. I've actually managed to knit something successful other than a scarf! Yes, that was a jibe at my jumper. I did actually make it for a second time buuuuut...I still don't like it. I love the wool but the jumper makes me look like a frumpy, lumpy sack of potatoes. Needless to say, I've not worn it out. To add insult to injury, the jumper worn by the model in the pattern book looks great so I'm not sure where I went wrong. I was incredibly annoyed at the time given all the time I'd spent knitting the damn thing twice but, thanks to the hat, I still get to wear the wool just in a different form.

I used this pattern to make the hat, it's just a simple rib but incredibly warm and a snug fit. The bobble is sooooo soft and kinda looks like a rabbit's tail. It's from Toft which I picked up at the knitting and stitching show back in October. Mitch has asked me to make him a hat which I hope to finish in time for Christmas. As for jumpers, I've not been completely put off but I'll wait till the new year before embarking on a new one. I'll leave you with yours truly looking smug in her new hat. Hope you've got something fun planned for the weekend.

5 Dec 2014

Reading & Seeing 21

Since my last Reading & Seeing post I've finished three books and seen a bugger load of great films.

Interstellar - visually and conceptually stunning (I had to scoop my jaw off the floor when you first see that black hole). Yes it's very long and overly sentimental (didn't stop me crying a fair few times though) but I felt the human story at the centre gave the film some grounding. Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of science talk which was largely lost on me and probably most people but the key thing to remember is: time is relative. It's kind of like a cross between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Sunshine *hard core SF fans might now be cursing me and banging their heads against brick walls*. The performances are solid but TARS (the robot) stole the show from an ever-increasingly-cool Matthew McConaughey. I liked this film because not only does it revolve around the subject of humanity's and earth's demise and the failings and incredible acheivements of individual people, it also provides a solution to a huge question: what will we do when the earth can no longer sustain human life? Is that solution far-fetched? Maybe. But is it imaginative, thrilling and incredibly positive? Hell yes.

Gone Girl - I'd not read the book because the advertising and quotes made it seem like some trashy crime story. And so, I confess, I only went to see the film because practically everyone was saying how good it was. And it is. I hold my hands up. I judged that book (kinda by it's cover, although the posters on the tube did it no favours) and I was so wrong. I think I got more out of the film having not read it, everything was completely unexpected. It's quite understated and almost felt like I could've been watching a 2 part docu-drama, and I mean that in a good way. It's not frilly or full of superfluous special effects (like a lot of crime thrillers can be), the plot is streamlined, and although it keeps you guessing, reveals major twists in a direct and gritty way. As the audience you're not sparred much detail. Good stuff but I'm still not interested in reading it.

Dispicable Me - Fiiiiinally saw it. I bloody loved it and the minions lived up to the hype. We actually watched the sequel not long after and it too is ace.

Secret life of Walter Mitty - for me, another film grossly mis-sold by its poster and, in this case, trailer. I avoided it in the cinema because it was presented as a smaltzy Hollywood comedy. In actuality it's an awesome, indie-film-at-heart (David Bowie interlude bit - omg) which has shy, timid Ben Stiler running around the most beautiful country ever (Iceland), on a quest to find a photographer and learning, along the way, to come out of his shell a bit. Excellent. Oh and the soundtrack is perfect.
The way way back - A look at one kid's summer at his mum's dickhead boyfriend's beach house. Luckily for our guy he meets a v.funny Sam Rockwell, owner of an awesome looking waterpark, and suddenly his summer doesn't seem so shitty. I liked this film a lot, there was something very nostaligic about it. I can remember summer holidays with my parents and their friends' families. Those awkward holidays when you're old enough to want to go and do your own thing but young enough that you wouldn't be allowed. Too bad I didn't meet Sam Rockwell and go work at a waterpark. I definitely reccomend this if you missed it at the cinema.

The Box Trolls - another great example of a kid's film that's also incredibly easy on the ear for adults too. A clever little story (with some pretty gross moments) all brought to you in impressive stop motion animation. 

St Vincent - it's true, the formula of unlikely friendship between young boy and grumpy, kinda lonely, old(ish) man has been done a million times but in St Vincent, Bill Murray is the grumpy man.  He's excellent at playing intially unlikeable characters that you eventually warm to,  and here, he's on top form, as ever.

Maddaddam (2013)
The last in Margaret Atwood's dystopian-future trilogy. It's definitely been my least favourite of the three. However, Maddaddam has rounded the series off quite nicely whilst at the same time leaving the story open ended. The conclusion has an overall positive note with a glimpse into the future of the crakers and how, as the new human-like race, they will prevail.
A man called Ove (2014)
This was chosen by Blook Club and, having read the blurb, I fully expected not to like it but that's the beauty of a book group, it'll get you to things you would never normally pick up. Another grumpy, rather unlikable, set-in-his-ways, old(ish) man learning to cope with change, firstly the death of his wife and then the arrival on new neighbours. About a third of the way in I nearly stopped reading - Ove is quite a miserable chap and even hearing his backstory didn't make me sympathise with him. Then, I changed my mind. I can't remember what the catalyst was - perhaps the story of his holiday with his wife - but I finally warmed to it and would reccomend a read. It's amusing, if you can get past Ove's rudeness but it's also quite emotional and uplifting.

Only Ever Yours (2014)
An incredibly bleak look at the future where human women no longer exist. Instead 'females' are "designed" and brought up in schools where, from the ages of 0 - 16, they are taught how to behave - appearance and how thin they are being highly prized - their 16 years culminating in a ceremony which will define their purpose in life. The girls can become one of three things: a companion, a concubine or a chastity. The first are like wives whose main purpose is to produce male children. These are picked by the inheritants, 16 year old boys who live in the protected zones (most of the planet has become a wasteland). The concubines are essentially prostitutes, whilst the chastities are the teachers who instill in the girls terrifying mantras like "I am a good girl" & "no one likes a fat girl". Weight and appearance are basically all that the girls are taught to care about, with daily weigh-ins and mirrored walls and surfaces everywhere. Of course it's all very extreme but it's quite clearly an exaggeration on the today's society's obsession with appearance - looking younger and thinner - particularly in terms of women. The concept was intriguing and I've been thinking about it still (days after finishing it). I'd reccomend it but as a word of warning, it made me feel very claustrophic (much like our protagonist, Frieda) and left a pretty awful taste in my mouth.

1 Dec 2014

two together knitted scarf

Over the weekend I finished Mitch's scarf. It was supposed to be a Christmas present but it's only going to get colder between now and new year so it made sense for him to have it early.

I'm pretty pleased with the end result, the two shades of blue work well together. If you do knit two wools together it's a good idea to unravel them then wind them into one ball - waaaay easier to transport. I have my nan to thank for that tip!

It's essentially just garter stitch broken up with a looping stitch (not a technical term) to give it some interest. I also have my nan to thank for the looping stitch as no tutorials could be found (most probably because I'm pretty sure that's not what it's called). So, in case you'd like to have a go, there's a little tutorial below. It's super simple.

Knit however many rows you wish until you want to do the looping thing, then, on the right side, knit the first stitch as normal then bring your yarn to the front (as if you'd be about to purl) and knit the stitch as usual. You should have, what looks like, an extra stitch on your right needle.Bring the yarn to the front again and knit the stitch. Continue like this until the end of the row. You should have, what looks like, double the amount of stitches on your right needle. The last stitch should be a regular knit stitch.

Next row (wrong side): knit the first stitch as normal and then slide the second stitch off your left needle (as if you were dropping it). Knit the third stitch and slide the next one off your needle. You should be able to see the loops beginning to form, they kind of look like elongated stitches. Continue in this way (stitch one, drop one) to the end of the row. Continue in stocking stitch until you fancy doing another line of loopy stitches. Easy-peasy eh?!

If you have a go I'd love to see! Also, if anyone knows the actual name for the technique leave me a message in the comments. I'll leave you with a picture of Mitch modelling the scarf :)

29 Nov 2014

"What'll it be, lass?"

I've been toying with whether or not to write this post for a while and I've decided that, although it's personal (or perhaps, because it's personal, this is my blog - a record of me and my experiences - afterall), I want to talk about her.

A few weeks ago my grandmother passed away. She fell over at home, broke her pelvis and was recovering from a successful operation in Norwich hospital when, on the morning of November 8th, she died.

I saw her a week before the 8th and I'm doing my utmost to forget what I saw because it was heart-breaking. There was nothing left of the woman I knew in that hospital bed. Nana had been suffering from dementia for the last few years, and it had rapidly been getting worse. Conversation was practically impossible towards the end, you would ask her a question and she'd respond with something completely unrelated. Then she'd keep on talking as if having a converstation with someone only she could see. It wasn't just the fact that she didn't recognise us anymore, it was that many of the traits I'd know her for, my whole life, were gone. That day I saw her in the hospital was horrible. A combination of drugs and the dementia had left her almost entirely cut off from us, (she was rambling and reaching out for something in front of her a lot), lost in a past we couldn't connect to. We held her hand and talked to her for a while but only at the mention of grandad did we witness a very brief moment of lucidity and we were, for a minute, all together in the present.

I've talked to a few people who've also had close family and friends suffer from dementia which, oddly, has helped. It's a devastating condition which seems to affect each individual sufferer in different ways, some worse than others. Uncharacteristically aggressive behaviour being one of the side-effects we, thankfully, didn't have to experience. The best thing I took from my cathartic conversations with people about dementia is the importance of remembering how the sufferer was before it takes hold. I have so many great memories of Nana: paddling in the sea with me at Great Yarmouth (while my grandad looked on, sitting as far from the water as possible, refusing to take his shoes off), teaching us tongue-twisters (she sells sea shells on the seashore), her Sunday lunches (I don't know how she cooked it but her cabbage was the best, even as a small vegetable-hating child I loved it) her voice and sayings ("what'll it be lass?", "let's be having you", "God bless" - although my grandad is v.much a south Londoner, Nana's roots were in Staffordshire), her laugh and expressions - she had a wonderfully expressive face and a big ready smile. She could also touch the tip of her nose with her tongue - we'd ask her to do it all the time when we were little.

In the lead-up to her funeral my dad, who was putting together the order of service and writing the eulogy, asked for our memories of Nana. We also spent time looking through his childhood family album for early pictures of her (the one above is of her on her 1st wedding anniversary). Dad had stories about her I'd never heard before as did others at the funeral. She was 91 when she died; I'd only known her for less than a third of her life. During the lead up and at her funeral I learned a lot about Nancy before she became my grandmother - her role as a Radar Operator in World War II and the medals she was awarded, about her working for the Ministry of Defence, that she could play the piano, that she married grandad aged 22.

The funeral went as well as it could have, with the family all together to celebrate her amazing life. It was a very emotional day but I found that a lot of my sadness was not for Nana, as grandad said, at 91 "she did well". She'd lived a full life and given us so many wonderful memories but, her quality of life was not great towards the end. I honestly believe that her passing would have given her some relief. I cried for our loss, for my dad's loss, for grandad's loss. As I've always known since I was little and again from old pictures and the eulogy at the funeral, Nana and grandad were close. Last Monday would have been their 69th wedding anniversary. It's grandad I cried for the most.

Nana had a strong faith and, although I'm not sure what to think about God, heaven and the like, I hope she's found peace.

I was asked to read something at the funeral and chose a well known poem by Ellen Brennemen. It's short but beautifully uplifting and true, loved ones are never truly lost so long as the memories of them are shared and talked about. I'll leave you with these words:

Don't think of her as gone away
her journey's just begun,
life holds so many facets
this earth is only one.

Just think of her as resting
from the sorrows and the tears,
in a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years.

Think how she must be wishing
that we could know today,
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.

And think of her as living
in the hearts of those she touched...
for nothing loved is ever lost
and she was loved so much.

24 Nov 2014

fun breakfast #6

Yesterday's fun breakfast

cup of tea
croissant with blackberry jam
porridge, also with a spoonful of blackberry jam

23 Nov 2014

Renegade Craft Fair

 Yesterday my sis and I journeyed to Brick Lane's Truman Brewery for, what is fast becoming, our annual visit to the fabulous Renegade Craft Fair. Much like last year, the space was jam-packed full of independent makers, designers and illustrators selling their awesome stuff. It was the perfect chance to make a start on my christmas shopping, ahem, as well as buy a few little bits and pieces for me. Here's my haul:

wrapping paper from The Key Print House // oyster card holder from Oh squirrell (who, incidentally, made my beautiful 'bride' sash) // printed notebook from Georgia Bosson // postage stamp christmas card from Charlotte Farmer // Also purchased (but not pictured because they're christmas pressies) a brooch from And Smile & something v.cool from Dear Colleen. If I'd had more money to spend: one of Hania's rings, Oh no Rachio's succulent kit and one of these 'Jesus and friends' postcards from Unusual Cards would have been mine.

Purchases made, we went in search of sustance (and mojitos) at Moo Cantina, home of happy hour cocktails and seriously cheesy and tasty grilled sandwiches.

Renegade Craft Fair is on today too so if you've got nothing planned, and you love a bit of indie craft, I highly reccomend a visit!

19 Nov 2014

fun breakfast #5

custard tart & cup of tea

I am aware that this is neither breakfast food nor good for me but it's shaping up to be a tough week and I felt I needed something...indulgent. I found the tart in the fridge and immediately knew that this would be best and only way to start my Wednesday.

13 Nov 2014

making lately

Lots of knitted squares for a knitting magazine project // a couple more coin purses // some doodling (with tongue twisters as my inspiration) // Mitch's scarf using two wools knit together.

I've had a lot on my plate in the last couple of weeks, in good and bad ways. It's all I can do in the week to get home, eat dinner and go to bed. Weekends too have been fairly low key - gardening, the odd visit o the cinema, a couple of drinks in the pub. I know that it's only going to get more full-on (both work-wise and socially) the closer we get to Christmas so, in an effort to prepare my body for the busy-ness to come, this weekend will be jam-packed full of good stuff - getting a haircut (dear lord I need one!), seeing friends and dancing till the early hours. Should be good and there's only tomorrow that stands in my way. Bring on the weekend!

11 Nov 2014

garden progress

Last month, Mitch and I started working on a neglected bit of my nan's garden with the aim to turn it into a vegetable patch. We've been going every weekend (apart from when we went to Falmouth) and it's really starting to take shape.


And after - sans the beast of a hedge which was obscuring the rest of the garden and house:

After, a LOT of digging:

I'd thought that clearing the brambles was hard but digging up roots, turning the earth and raking was waaaay more knackering. Thanks to the last few weekends I've come to associate Saturdays with aching limbs! Hopefully it'll all be worth it though.

Some of the bricks dug up from the earth.

We actually planted something this weekend, not anything we can eat mind you, but some stuff (mustard seeds) that'll be good for the soil. Fingers crossed they'll sprout!

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