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 :)

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