Wednesday, April 29, 2009

When I should be getting ready to go to the gym, and then to work

This is my dress so far. I just have to elasticate the neck and hem the bottom and it'll be finished. Now that it's in the shape of a dress though I'm not sure about the material at all. As material it's beautiful. The leftover scraps on my kitchen table still enthrall me. The material as a dress, however - what was I thinking? It's so pale pink! And is reminding me of the voluminous gowns my granny used to wear. Still, perhaps when it's properly finished it'll suddenly come into its own? (Thinking I should've listened to my head and gone with the dark blue material instead.)

And now it's ten to ten in the morning. I need to leave here at 10am to go to the gym, and be back here for half eleven so Hagos can give me a lift to the bus stop to get the bus to work.

I'm going to the gym as often as possible - every day until I hit a day when my body is just too tired to run. And every night I look at myself in the mirror and think, am I not thin yet? How much more exercise do I have to put myself through? And I can see a difference in my body, I just wish it happened at double the pace.

Better go...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dress Progress

I haven't felt so good this weekend. I had grand plans: trips to the garden centre, going out for coffee and a film, cleaning the WHOLE house, setting up my work back in the shed, finishing my dress - but I did hardly any of it. Yesterday at 5pm I suddenly gave in to feeling wiped out and went to bed. I think it must be the bug some of my work colleagues have been complaining of this week. It feels a bit like the beginning of the flu. I have an aching neck and head, and a sore throat, and very little energy.Anyway, what I did achieve, was to cut out my dress ready to sew. This time I'm planning to do elbow-length sleeves, and leave them un-elasticated at the bottom. So I'm looking forward to finishing it. Already my mind is wandering to the same material in deep blue that is in John Lewis...
I thought about doing the tie-sleeves; maybe next time.

And apart from some cosmetic housework for Hagos coming home from Italy, I haven't done much else except read and play the piano. I'm making myself work through my Christmas songbook, so I can learn to read the bass clef. It's going fairly well so far. SLOW, of course, but I find it doesn't take me long to pick these things up ;)
Actually, it's been a really nice weekend. There are times when I totally appreciate everything I have in the house and really enjoy being here. I'm grateful.

Meg has been enjoying the summer weather. I had the top window open most of the day, and she was up, out, down, in - up, out, down, up, in, down - so many combinations of coming in and out the house. Then after I changed the bed she fell asleep with the winter duvet wrapped all around her.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A New Dress

I headed to John Lewis yesterday to spend my birthday gift voucher from my work colleagues. While I wildly appreciate they are now stocking Amy Butler fabric, I'm not so wild about the colour schemes they currently have in. However, I was determined not to leave the shop without 2 metres of material, and in the end I had three to choose from that I liked.
After looking at myself draped in all three in front of a mirror I eventually chose this fabric. The other serious contender was the same fabric but in two shades of blue. I really liked it as well, and I think my natural colouring suits deep blue, but there was something about the faded pink and green that just won me over. I plan to make this dress with it.

The good news today is that my husband comes home after being away for two and a half weeks. I've really missed him.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Piano Duet

Ladies and gentlemen
for one night only
duetting on the pianoforte

a very special,
avante-garde performance of
The Heart Asks Pleasure First

from the Haggettes
(for bookings please contact our agent)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Birthday

It was my birthday yesterday, and I was woken up by a lovely text at 2am from Hagos telling me he'd hidden my present in his studio. Of course, I had to get up and find it there and then, and that led to me opening it. Above is a photo of the packaging.
I spent the day in Cambridge with my friend Janie. We went into John Lewis to look for Amy Butler fabric for me to make a new dress, but I didn't like the colourways they had. On the way out the door though, Janie spotted this. It's well known among my friends that polar bears are my favourite animal.

I had a really lovely day. Janie and I talked non-stop from the minute we met each other at the train station, to the minute we left each other at the train station five hours later. We mostly walked around, but we had lunch in an organic cafe, and then tea and shortbread/tea cake in a granny-type cafe later.
I made these meringues last night for my work colleagues today. The recipe is from Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer, Jane Brocket's book. I much prefer it to my previous meringue recipe, as this way the insides remain gooey!

The first thing my colleagues said to me when I walked into work today was, "Have you got them?" They were a resounding success.

Meg also gave me a birthday present - at 5am on my birthday morning. I think this may be the final installment of the bird chronicles!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunglasses case; and the little bird, pt 3

I had a sudden need, last night, to sew the cushion cover for the crochet block I'd made. More on all that later (a slight finishing touch is required). It was ten o'clock when I finished and I was very tired but while I had the machine out I thought I'd quickly whip up a sunglasses case, which I badly need. I have lost two now: the first case was free with my sunglasses, but the second cost £5, which seemed overpriced. So - pants fabric to the rescue.
It took less than five minutes to make, as the off-cuts from my pants just needed squaring off and sewn together. Even the leftover cord was the correct size. So, I'm fairly happy with it. I just hope the material doesn't scratch my sunglasses (doesn't seem to have so far) when I clean them, and that the material doesn't attract fluff.
Part 3 of the little bird friend chronicles: I was in the bathroom getting ready this morning when I heard a knock on the front door. At first I thought it was a person, and being undressed I hesitated to answer, but at the second tapping I realised it was our little bird friend! I stood at the entrance to the kitchen, and sure enough he was on the ledge tapping away. I was so intent looking at him that it took me a few moments to realise Meg was poised at the foot of the door waiting to pounce! The above photo was taken after she'd leapt up at him - I couldn't find my camera in time to get a photo of both of them together. She's waiting for him to return. I love that her little paw is perched on the doorstep, as close to the door as she can get.

It's really funny seeing them together. I wonder if he'll come back later or tomorrow? Makes me think of that Tom and Jerry episode where Jerry has a little bird friend who thinks he's ugly and so he tries to get Tom to eat him, only to be rescued by Jerry every time.
On Saturday night I hosted a little pre-birthday dinner. Just me and two friends. I made chicken fajitas (I was fastidious in my prepping so everything went off very smoothly), followed by homemade meringues, their bases dipped in plain chocolate, then sandwiched together with whipped cream and raspberries. They were absolutely delicious. I really should have photographed them, but didn't. I'll be making another batch to take in to my work colleagues on Wednesday so I'll photograph those. Then we watched The Piano, which Vicky and Bev hadn't seen before, and I haven't seen for years. I remember the film having a profound effect on me when I first saw it in the cinema in London. I still think Holly Hunter is amazing. And it was nice to hear some fake Scottish accents. And the little girl was amazing too. She really captured that uninhibited world that children exist in so well, in the scenes where she's playing. Of course, the whole thing was finished off with a performance by me of The Heart Asks Pleasure First on my piano (or - the first two pages, anyway), and Bev and Vicky were both satisfyingly impressed. It was a good night.

During the naked scene in the film, I couldn't help wondering if my own naked form has more in common with Harvey Keitel than Holly Hunter. Though we all agreed Harvey has a fine body, it isn't exactly a shape I aspire to! I go to the gym in an hour's time!

Oh, Bev gave me the hand and frog cutters for my birthday. I really like them.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Continuing my exploration of Norfolk, I went to Holt today, which is about 12 miles towards the coast from here. It's a lovely place, and I've often heard that people who move to Norfolk from London choose to live in Holt.

I've decided that while I'm living in Norfolk I'm going to enjoy it, rather than wishing I was somewhere else. There are a couple of author events coming up soon: Martin Amis at the Playhouse, and Ian McEwan at UEA, so I'll book tickets for those this week.

Above is Butlers coffee house. Two things drew me inside: the illy sign in the window, and this piano - pianos being my current theme, of course. I had a delicious coffee and read my book.

I am writing this at the kitchen table, where five minutes ago our little bird friend returned, tapping very persistently on the top window pane of the door as he perched on the wooden ledge. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Meg pounced! She leapt right up to the bird (on the inside of the glass, unfortunately for her, fortunately for the bird), which is about 2 metres high. So far, the little bird hasn't returned!

To be continued...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Meg's friend; and a day out

This sweet little bird has been trying to get into our house all day. He started perching on the windows while I was having breakfast, much to Meg's surprise and excitement. Then I went out for a drive, came back, and he did the same again, except this time he was tapping on the window pane with his beak, as if he was knocking to come in! For now Meg is a little too sleepy for serious bird-chasing, so he lives!
When we first moved to Norfolk I would often get in the car and just drive in any direction to explore the area. I found many wonderful and interesting places this way. But in the last five or so years I haven't done any local exploring at all, so today I decided to drive to Aylsham, which is only 7 miles away, and walk around the town.

I knew there was a shop I was interested in seeing, but I couldn't remember what it was. I came across St Jude's almost immediately, and this was the shop. Unfortunately it's closed its doors to customers, but a sign in the window said it's opened another in Itteringham, so that can be my next excursion.

I love the prints and fabric of St Jude's.

It's my birthday on Tuesday, and tomorrow I'm hosting a little pre-birthday dinner, just me and two friends, and because I can't cook, I'm planning to make chicken fajitas for dinner followed by home-made meringues dipped in chocolate, sandwiched together with cream and strawberries. And we're going to watch the Jane Campion film The Piano, and of course, I shall have to give a little performance of the theme tune on my piano afterwards.

Then on Tuesday I'm meeting my friend in Cambridge for the day, and I'm very excited about that.

And on Wednesday, when I'm back to work, I've promised to make my colleagues Nigella's chocolate cloud cake, though I'm now thinking of making the above meringues instead, as meringues are less calorific, and I can also share them with our admin table, who so kindly shared their birthday cakes with us yesterday (I, of course, abstained).

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Knitting and Poetry

I love listening to the Radio. Mostly Radio 4, and usually via the internet. My first choice is always Open Book, then Bookclub, then Just a Minute (but only when Clement Freud and Paul Merton are on).

Tonight, after dinner, I decided to listen to last week's Bookclub, whose guest was Andrew Motion, talking about poetry (of course), writing, public and private ownership (of himself).

Listening to the radio and knitting complement each other perfectly. The meditative rhythm of knitting enhances listening somehow, and the enjoyment gained from listening is knitted into the garment.

Actually, more importantly, listening to Bookclub tonight restored me to myself. I had a terrible knock at the beginning of the week. Something that affected me much more than it should have. And I had recovered from it to a degree. Good art has the ability to reset me, and to remind me what is vitally important in life. It is reassuring, and I value good writing, good music, a good painting, above most other things. It enables me to transcend and gives me insight into life and humanity.

After listening to Bookclub tonight I went searching for a Ted Hughes poem, or part of a poem, that I really loved when I read it originally. The title of the poem is A Pink Wool Knitted Dress (already a winner, obviously), and the section I like goes:

In that echo-gaunt, weekday chancel
I see you
Wrestling to contain your flames
In your pink wool knitted dress
And in your eye-pupils - great cut jewels
Jostling their tear-flames, truly like big jewels
Shaken in a dice-cup and held up to me

I love the eyes being described as shaken in a dice-cup and held up to him, very evocative.

And now it's time for my bath. I must read more poetry, again.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Craft Chair

This chair, next to the couch, has become my Craft Chair. It's where I put what I'm currently working on so I can easily pick it up for the last hour of the day, while I watch some sci-fi, and when I'm not cuddling Meg (she thinks the hour of TV watching is for her benefit, so she can be held while she sleeps and snores).

I bought this chair when I was in my early 20s, when my taste in colour and pattern were hugely different. I keep meaning to either re-cover it myself, or ge
t a fitted cover for it from Ikea. What was I thinking?

As you can see, I've sewn together all the crocheted squares, now I just have to machine sew the cushion cover, which is all cut out and ready to go, and attach the crochet. I'm not sure whether to attach the crochet first, before I machine it, or after, to the ready-made cushion??? First, I think.
This is what Meg did to my laptop as I was working on it just after dinner. First she jumped onto the table for a cuddle while I was finishing dinner, then she casually stretched over my book, so I couldn't read, then when I started tapping away on my laptop she sat on it! I think she wants me to join her on the couch for a TV/cuddle session.