31 Mar 2015

March was...adventure filled!

All in all it's been a v.good March – I flew to Iceland for four fantastic nights, had a weekend away in Shropshire with friends, spent some quality time with Mitch on his week off from work, did some gardening, did some crafting, I even ended up having three interviews this month, which, although I didn't get any of them, definitely boosted my confidence after the hideousness of February. Weather wise, there's definitely been glimmers of spring and as I write this there's a bunch of daffs on my desk :) so yes, a v.good month. My goals didn't shape up too badly either...

1. Finish a bunch of craft projects - baby blanket, crochet bear, needlepoint black bird. Two out of three ain't bad (I'll post pics of the bear soon).
2. Get a haircut. I am still in need of a haircut but it's not really a priority when I need to think about travel money to interviews.
3.Go and see an exhibition (Magnificent Collections at the Barbican perhaps, or maybe Fashion on the Ration at the Imperial War Museum). I did do a day out at a few of London's museums but again, these two exhibtions will have to go on the back-burner for the moment.
4. Drink 1.5 litres of water a day and cut down on bread. Yes to both of these, plus, the kitchen is now finished which means we can cook on an oven, grill and hob again!
5. Go on another bike ride. Nope. Thanks to the kitchen being done, access to the shed and garage (which houses the bikes) was virtually impossible for the whole of March. Also lame was the fact that I only managed one game of badminton this month :(
6. Buy (or possibly make) an address book. Nope. Buying is out of the question, one day I will make one.
7. Set aside some time to do more drawing (you love doing it after all). I've done quite a bit of doodling, nothing worth sharing, just yet anyway...
8. Ebay the rest of the stuff set side *ahem* in January... Yup, everything got ebayed AND I set aside some stuff to take to charity too!
9. Continue to apply for jobs, 5 a week minimum (and do some prep for your interview). Yes! I've been pretty good at applying for stuff and it definitely paid off in March, although not quite the ultimate payoff, ie: a job. However, I'm feeling positive about April.
10. Sew something! We've got to March and I've not done ANY sewing yet this year :( This morning I re-hemmed a skirt which I've been meaning to do since January, that counts right?

It's gloriously sunny (and hella windy)  here in London. My plans for the day include: wearing said skirt mentioned above, applying for a job at Battersea dogs & cats home, buying ingredients for tonight's dinner, going for a run and finally watching the last two episodes of Twin Peaks. Not bad for a Tuesday :)

29 Mar 2015

Friday at the Museums

I don't know when it was exactly that the powers-that-be decided to make a lot of London's museums free but I am so bloody glad that happened. Over the years I've taken full advantage of the free admissions but now, as I'm unemployed and poor, I've never been more grateful. Yes, I've got to pay for my travel, but just 30 minute on the district line to South Ken and I've got three of London's best museums all within walking distance. So that's what we did. Mitch had Friday off work so we popped into the V&A, Natural History and Science museums, just because we could :)

beautiful netsuke & inro at the V&A

A-mazing miniature eye brooch complete with...diamante tear!

The Alexander McQueen exhibition is on at the V&A and looks tres cool but we were on a budget so we stuck to the permanent collections. I've been to the V&A on numerous occasions but I always manage to find a bit I've never seen before, this time: the miniature portraits bit. Mitch's favourite seems to be the China and Japan sections, mine's probably the jewellery (so amazing!). Thanks to the glorious weather on Friday, we ate our packed lunch in the V&A's courtyard, it was so warm in the sun I didn't even wear my coat!

Next up was the Natural History Museum and we arrived just in time to sit in on a free talk about coral. They've actually got a brand new exhibition about coral reefs on at the moment, and the talk happened to be with one of the key researchers. As well as telling us about coral we also got to ask some questions and get up close and personal with coral skeletons. The talk was v.interesting, when I get a job I'd like to see the exhibition - they managed to build a living reef in there which has got to worth seeing! (FYI the free talks take place all day in the Attenborough studio and cover a wide range of topics, worth checking out if you find yourself in the Natural History Museum.) We had a quick look around the volcano section (having been to Iceland, this permanent exhibition felt way more relevant and made a ton more sense) before moving next door.

Alas, we got to the Science Museum a little late in the day and missed out on their new IMAX film, Mysteries of the Unseen World. Annoyingly their amazing icecream bar on the top floor was closed  but, we did have a look at the new (and free) exhibition in the wellcome wing, Cravings. It was a v.interesting read about the relationship between your brain and your gut-brain and why we crave the things we do. I'd deffo recommend a visit, it's only teeny.

Suitably knackered (and, funnily enough, hungry) we got back on the tube to meet friends for a curry. London's museums are fan-bloody-tastic, especially as I have the luxury of going in the week! See, there are some plus points to being unemployed ;)

26 Mar 2015

stripy baby blanket

Earlier this week I finished knitting the baby blanket for my cousin's little one. It's super simple, just double moss (I really love the pattern and texture that stitch makes), but I think the coloured stripes are the stars here really. The sex of the baby was kept a secret so I thought a rainbow would work either way. Also, if you can't decide on one colour, why not have them all, eh?

I had intended to make a quilt for the baby but having seen some excellent knitted baby blankets (Elise's for a start) they inspired me to try something different. I do miss patchwork but the thing is, knitting (and crochet) is just way more sociable and portable than quilting. It seems to be all about the yarn for me at the moment. Anyhoo, I'm pleased with how this turned out and I can't wait to give it, and the crochet hat, to the newest little one to join the family who, by the way, arrived a couple of weeks ago. It was a girl :)

fun breakfast #8

Yesterday's fun breakfast:

Homemade pancakes, bacon, banana and maple syrup.

24 Mar 2015

Iceland Part 3: the Golden Circle & chasing the Northern Lights

Along with the Blue Lagoon, The Golden Circle tour is on the top of most people's "must see" lists when in Iceland, and I shall not be bucking the trend. For those of you who've not heard of it, The Golden Circle encompasses a handful of SW Iceland's most spectacular natural sights. The order sometimes differs but ours started off at the geothermal power plant, Hellisheiði. The scientific details were, to be honest, a little lost on me but it was interesting all the same, plus, we got to see their gigantic turbines. We actually got stuck at the plant (along with a lot of other coaches) due to the insane amounts of snow from the storm the night before. A waffle with jam and cream later and we were on the move again, our next stop was Kerið, a volcanic crator lake. It was completely frozen over (obvs) but the view from the top was amazing. En route to the first of two waterfalls (Faxi), we stopped to pet (and feed) some v.friendly Icelandic horses. They looked like ponies but our guide assured us they were small horses.

After Faxi we headed to the Haukadalur valley, home of two famous geysers: Geysir and Strokkur. The former is actually "asleep" but the latter errupts fairly regularly, every 5-9 minutes or so. I wasn't really sure what to expect but it was pretty cool to see the geyser do its thing. I tell you what wasn't cool though: the smell. A lot of people had warned me about the sulphur smell in Iceland, particularly the water, but it honestly didn't bother me until we stupidly stood downwind of a hot spring in Haukadalur, SUCH an eye-wateringly eggy stench.

The penultimate stop on the tour was the breathtaking Gullfoss (that's golden falls to you and me). It being March, the closet path to the waterfall was completely lost beneath about a foot of snow so we admired the beautiful, half frozen waterfall from afar. Our final stop, and my favourite, was Þingvellir, Iceland's stunning national park. Not only does it boast some incredible views, it's also the location of the old Viking parliament. Oh, AND it's where the North American and Eurasia tectonic plates are slowly drifting apart from eachother (increasing the size of Iceland by 2cm every year), which has left a sort of sunken section, known as the rift valley.

It's actually impossible to pick a best bit of our Iceland holiday but The Golden Circle tour was one of them. For us non-drivers, it gave us a chance to see more of the country but also learn a little bit about the culture. Our tour guide kept us entertained throughout the trip with stories and myths, local history and even pointing out sights (such as, "here was where they filmed Game of Thrones").We booked our tour with these guys and I would highly recommend them.

Our last night in Iceland was spent on a "Northern Lights" tour which essentially consisted of being on a coach travelling way too fast for my liking, listening to Icelandic ghost and troll stories (courtesy of our guide) surrounded by the blackest night I've ever seen. Alas, we didn't see the northern lights, despite a bitterly cold and cloudless night. We did, however, see a spectacular star scape (there were literally no lights for miles, I've never been anywhere that was so dark).

For our last half day we: ate breakfast (bloody good pancakes) at The Laundromat Cafe, purchased some wool (I'll share this soon), visited The Settlement Exhibtion (centered around the 2001 discovery of the remains of a Viking long house and settlement in Reykjavik) and demolished a fish burger from Reykjavik Fish and Chips. On the coach journey to the airport I remember thinking how I'd got used to the completely white and mountainous landscape, and how strange, grey and kinda of boring London would be. And, truthfully, it is, but maybe that's because I'm still, two weeks later, suffering from a holiday come-down. All I can say is this: save, save your money and go to Iceland, for the culture, the delicious food, the chilled-out and friendly vibe and, of course, for all the island's stunning scenery and natural wonders. Can you tell I loved it there? :)

22 Mar 2015

4 years blogging

So here we are, 4 years to the day that I hit publish on my first ever post, which not only sounds a little weird (given the beard references) but also feels like a million years ago. In those four years I've moved house twice, changed jobs three times, got married, travelled to so many new places, changed my blog name and discovered my ultimate passion in life, making stuff (how I filled my free time before I started sewing, knitting and crocheting I don't know)! 

I realise there's hundreds of posts out there listing all the reasons why blogging is great, buuuuut... I love it because:

1. Of the sense of community. I have met some seriously ace London ladies through blogging who I almost certainly wouldn't have met otherwise. Additionally, there's a bunch of excellent bloggers across the UK, and the world even, whose updates I always look forward to. It's kinda like having a load of awsome pen pals only with pictures and a quicker reply rate.

2. Bloggnig has given me an outlet for writing. I'm not talking ground-breaking topics or skillful journalistic feats of writing. What I have to say is not impressive, or even, at times, coherent, but it's allowed me to keep my hand in the game and practice stringing sentences together. On a side note, I honestly believe that writing my humble blog has worked in my favour to get me into a couple of interviews and most definitely one job, purely because it suggests that I have some interest in writing and digital stuff, which is true. 

3. I have four years worth of memories right here - the good (holidays & successful makes), the bad (recounts of sad times: losing family members & friends leaving the country) and the downright ugly (in the beginning, my inability to take ANY decent photographs and resize them to fit the blog)! It's also kinda fun to see how I've changed - tastes, worries, views on things - fundamentally I'm the same but the beauty of the blog, thanks to the fact that I do open up about stuff, is that each post is very much a snapshot of what I was thinking at the time. I'm a nostaglic old thing though so that might just be me :) 

All that remains to say is: thank you! Thank you for reading along and commenting on my rabblings, you guys are ace! 

I've spent most of this glorious day working on the garden so now I'm going to put my feet up and watch some Parks & Rec. Happy Sunday eve all.

16 Mar 2015

Iceland Part 2: Reykjavik Centre & Dog Sledding

We awoke to a very snowy Reykjavik and decided to kick start the day with, what I think was, a traditonal Icelandic breakfast at Cafe Haiti - scrambled eggs with ham, gouda-like cheese, toast and jam, followed by a second course (!) of pancakes, maple syrup, cream and jam. Yup, you heard right, a two course breakfast. Obviously we had to walk around the city for rest of the day to work it all off! The first stop was Kolaportið, Reykjavik's flea market. It was packed full of stalls selling all sorts - clothes, shoes, records, ephemera, fresh fish, popcorn but, most importantly, knitwear. Friends, if you go to Iceland and fall in love with one of their handmade woollen jumpers, you must be willing to part with about 140 quid to take it home. At the flea market the jumpers were a mere £80-ish! Sadly, this was still beyond my budget. The market is only open on weekends and well worth a look if you're nosy like me. Next, we followed the harbour towards Reykjavik's concert hall, Harpa. As you can see from the pictures, it's a giant (and beautiful) glass building. We went up to the top floor to take in the views before heading back out into the cold to snap a few pictures of the snowy mountains.

We left the harbour behind and made our way to Laugavegur, one of the main shopping streets in Reykjavik. Warning: this city is full of cute little shops selling lush Scandi design items - clothes, bags, ceramics, jewellery, art - you name it, they've got it. It's all v.tempting but they all come with a hefty price tag. It's no secret that Iceland is expensive but I wouldn't say the food is that much more than London. The prices in the shops however, are pretty dear. We did some window shopping none-the-less and I even found two v.excellent wool shops – The Hand Knitting Association of Iceland (some wool but mostly ready made glorious knitwear) and Storkurinn (loads of wool and pattern books). Incidentally, Icelandic wool was actually v.reasonably price, I may have bought some... :)
Moving on from wool lusting we continued up-hill towards the impressive Hallgrímskirkja church aka, one of the coolest-looking churches I've ever seen. What was also pretty ace about it were the views from the top of the tower. Unsurprisingly, I took a lot of pictures. By the time we climbed down the tower our stomaches were rumbling and so we stopped for some delicious noodle soup at Noodle Station. It doesn't look like much from the outside (or inside to be fair) but trust me it is, and excellent value for money too! The only downside is that Noodle Station doesn't have a loo, but luckily the cafe across the street let me use their amazing toilet, complete with fairy lights and life-size star wars posters.

After walking back to the hostel to layer-up (so many many layers) for the evening's dog sledding expedition, we headed back out to grab a bit of dinner and to see the sun voyager sculpture. It was pure ice around the base which is why we're not standing closer to it, I'd already fallen on arse trying to do so a few minutes before! The dog sledding people picked us up from the hostel (around 9:45pm) and drove out of the city to the ski resort, Skalafell. At the bottom of the mountain we were transferred into a car with the biggest tires I've ever seen and driven to the top where the team, sleds and dogs (!) were waiting for us.

The snow up there was insane and came up to my knees at least! Thankfully the dog sledding team gave everyone thermal jumpsuits (I probably would have died without it) and goggles before assigning us to a sled (three plus a driver on each one), hooking up the dogs (8 to a sled) and off we went! Throughout the ride, our driver told us lots of stuff about our dogs – their names, personality traits, if they'd raced – and about dog sledding in general. Fun Facts: 1. All the dogs want to be picked for sledding as they all love to run 2. The dogs at the front are the lead dogs and the most intelligent, the dogs nearest the sled are the brawn of the operation.  3. The dogs can withstand the cold up to -50°C and dig out holes in the snow to sleep in. After about 20 minutes or so we stopped to stroke and pet the dogs before heading back to camp. On the way back an almightily hail storm started and to make matters worse, we were travelling against the wind. That was quite easily, the coldest I have ever EVER been (I'm talking me imagining the loss of my fingers and toes) and there were times when I could only just see, through the swirling ice and snow, the last four dogs pulling our sled let alone the other sleds further ahead! It sounds like it would've been scary but I whole-heartedly trusted those dogs to get us back and, obviously, they did. As our driver told us, the dogs (having been fed and watered) were better than any technical navigation equipment in a below freezing, snow storm. Back at base we had a proper cuddle with the dogs. I cannot put into words how adorable they were and SO friendly too! Mitch played "paw" with one of them whilst I was giving belly rubs to another. Even after we gave back the thermal suits we were still cuddling those dogs. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we were the last ones back to the snow car waiting to take us back down the mountain :)

Due to the cold, snow and general blackness of night, our pictures were pretty rubbish but I have the most awesome memories from that excursion. We booked through this site and would again, though for a day excursion rather than at night as you'd probably see more. Words of warning: if you want to go dog sledding, book in advance. We arranged it three weeks before and this was the only tour (across a number of companies) not fully booked, and we filled the last two places. Yes, it was hella expensive (the most expensive thing we did in Iceland, bar flying there) but by god it was worth it.

Still to come: the Golden Circle Tour and chasing the Northern Lights.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...