Saturday 29 September 2012

Septembers' Simple Pleasures

Hello Lovelies ,
the final two weeks of September seem to have flown by and I have pictures I haven't had chance to share yet.
Looking at these pictures of the simple things that caught my eye this month makes me happy . It's great having adventures and goals like the "great north run" but one of the many things the lovely people of  blogland have done is help me really notice and appreciate  special things in ordinary days. 

Early in the month we went on our  annual visit to a pretty village with a pond in the middle ...........

It's such a lovely spot to wander around . With pretty cottages and even a farmyard........

We visit for the scarecrow weekend, there are loads of wonderful scarecrows to see. Many very impressive and high tech, but this simple display appealed most to me........

It's a Beatrix Potter Scarecrow. I love the little creatures , especially Mrs Tiggywinkle the hedgehog and her babies :0)

That same sunny weekend we visited the park . The weather was so warm and still. I enjoyed simply sitting on a bench and watching people wandering along or sitting quietly reading........

It was wonderful to relax and soak up  the late afternoon rays . Whilst I was taking the picture above  a little leaf must have fluttered down from the trees and landed on my spotty summer dress. A reminder I should make the most of warm days like this because Autumn was just around the corner.......I'm trying to love Autumn , it is very beautiful but I know it means goodbye to long days and another summer..........

The next couple of pictures are from Sunday Dinner earlier in the month.
Maybe I should explain . I love Alicia's pictures....all of them are wonderful . Her home is  beautiful , her pets are so cute and she is such an amazing photographer. I took this picture after reading this blog post .....trying to copy her style :0)

It's Yorkshire pudding batter . I liked the bubbles and creamy yellow colour.........

My Yorkshires are a bit hit and miss but the boys are kind and say they still taste great , even when thy turn out a bit flat.
On this occasion they rose beautifully . I'm not a very enthusiastic cook but I'm getting better and it's a wonderful simple pleasure serving up a homemade meal everyone enjoys.......

This picture is the sky at 5.40pm last Saturday evening....the Autumn Equinox. The sun was shining through a thin veil of cloud......the sky reminded my of Mother of Pearl........

So we enter the half of the year when the nights are longer than the days, not so bad if the days are sunny but hard to love when it rains. This Wednesday was one of those dark wet days so I spent much of it in a warm kitchen.
Making my own soup is something new . I gathered some sad looking veg from the back of the fridge

Chopped and put them in my slow cooker with stock, tinned tomatoes, chilli powder and seasoning . It bubbled away all day and for the last hour I added some tinned mixed beans and some rice. The potatoes broke down to thicken the soup and in the end it was a very hearty chunky soup...almost a veg stew......healthy, frugal , simple food. I froze lots of individual servings and took one to work for lunch the next was yummy.

Something I do love is simple baking , so while the soup did its thing I popped on the oven and cozied up in my little kitchen making oaty cookies and flapjack for after school treats and packed lunches.........

Now the days are getting shorter my alarm goes off while it's still dark .....gosh I do struggle with that . But at least the rush hour journey to work is still light and the stationary traffic gives me the opportunity to look at the Autumn landscape.........

                        The trees are still green but the fields are shades of brown.

This is a bit of a mixed bag post isn't it .
Next up another simple pleasure ........books , or more specifically Childrens books. I love reading to the boys at bedtime ....though they are getting a bit old , while they will put up with me I will carry on . In fact I love reading older childrens books.....It's much more interesting than re-reading a Favorite Thomas the Tank engine story night after night :0)
I have just finished reading Swallows and Amazons.....a wonderful book I didn't read as a child but have enjoyed reading to my boys . It's fabulously descriptive and gentle.

The book in this picture is from my own childhood and recently rediscovered in the loft........


Poetry is such a simple pleasure and re-reading some of the  verses in this book has been a really gentle and enjoyable . In fact there are lots of poems in this book that are suitable for the not so young. I will share a   timely one here ...........

There are twelve months throughout the year,
From January to December -
And the primest month of all the twelve
Is the merry month of September!
Then Apples so red
Hang overhead,
And nuts ripe-brown
Come showering down
In the bountiful days of September

There are flowers enough in the summer-time,
More flowers than I can remember -
But none with the purple gold and red
That dye the flowers of September
The gorgeous flowers of September! 
And the sun looks through
A clearer blue
And the moon at night
Sheds a clearer light
On the beautiful flowers of September
                                                                                                 Mary Howitt

My own garden still has a few blooms so I gathered these yesterday to pop on my mantle . Maybe flowers are my favourite simple pleasure of all :0)
Phew , that turned into a long, wordy post. Well done if you stuck with it !
Jacquie x

Saturday 22 September 2012

Mystery Crochet Ta-Dah....with Pattern

Hello Loveies, 
I've finally got round to finishing my mystery crochet object I first shared with you here

This week I've come down with a cold and my legs are letting me know they would like a bit of a rest after last weekends adventure so I've been sitting crocheting and pottering about taking pictures. I do love a crochet ta-dah post best of all and I'm really pleased with how this fun make turned out. 

I think it's colourful stripes look great with my spotty,thrifted  plate ........

As you can see it's got a cord to hang it up .

 Oooooh , more spots and stripes lovely. This pom pom garland was a Christmas decoration I could not bear to take down. It always makes me smile and now I have a big stripy pom pom to go with it.........

Some of you may remember I mentioned this was not just a decorative object and many of you guessed what it was going to be. But no one guessed correctly. 

Can you tell what it is yet ? .......

There is a strange "tail" hanging out of the bottom. 

A tail that belongs to this ..........

Yes........... it's a crochet string dispenser :0) I said you would laugh

I first made a version of this in pre blog days, 2009 I think. It's been so handy . I always know where the string is when I need it and it's easy to dispense the correct amount. 

I can't remember if I saw something that gave me the idea or it just came out of my head. I've googled crochet string dispenser and got nothing so maybe it is a  new idea. Who knows .

 it does work and only collapses when there is very little string left ,as long as you get the correct sort of ball of string. it needs to be made like this.........

with a hollow centre . You need to find the end of the string in the middle of the ball and thread this through the hole in the bottom of your crochet..........

then the string can glide easily out without the ball of string needing to move.
It's such a simple idea but often they are the best, don't you think? 

 I've written out the pattern as a thank you to all you lovelies for your wonderful comments .It's something you never knew you needed but will come in useful as well as looking great  :0)

As usual it's written in U.S terms.
The stitches are double crochet  ......dc........ ( U.K. treble )
and half double crochet.......hdc...... ( U.K. half treble )

The yarn I've used is Patons Smoothie which is acrylic but cotton yarn would be ideal too. It's double knitting weight and I've used a 4.00 mm hook.

You may need to adjust the pattern it fit your particular ball of string. Mine had a circumference of roughly 31cm.

Round 1. Chain 4 and slip stitch to form a ring
chain 3 ( counts as first dc) make 11 dc into ring. Slip stitch into 3rd chain of initial 3 chain and fasten off ( 12 stitches)

Round 2.Attach a new colour in any stitch and chain 2 ( counts as 1st hdc ) make 1 hdc in same stitch.Make make 2 hdc into each remaining stitch around (24 stitches).slip stitch into second chain of initial 2 chain.Fasten off.

Round 3. Attach a new colour and chain 2. make 1 hdc in next stitch and in the following stitch make 2 hdc. 1 hdc in each of the next 2 stitches and 2 hdc in the following stitch. Repeat around . slip stitch into initial 2 chain, fasten off.

Round 4. Attach new colour ,chain 2 .Make 1 hdc in each of next 2 stitches and 2 hdc in following stitch. 1 hdcin next 3 stitches and 2 hdc in next stitch . Repeat around and slip stitch into initial chain then fasten off.

Round 5 .On this round inrease every 5th stitch i.e. 1 hdc in four stitches then 2 hdc in fifth.

Rounds 6 to 14 are simply 1 hdc in each stitch around

I would keep checking with you particular ball of string to make sure the cover is a good fit. It needs to be fairly snug to look good . Remember crochet will stretch .

Round 15 ( or when you are near the top of your ball ) Attach a new colour and chain 3. make 1 dc in each of the next 2 stitches. In the 4th and 5th make a dc decrease stitch. repeat around ( 1 dc in next 3 stitches , 1 dc decrease in following two stitches. When you get to the end don't slip stitch , just finish off .This will make it easier to get the ball of yarn in and change balls when it runs out.

Round 16 attach a new colour to the first stitch of row 15 and repeat patten of round 15.
At end of round again do not slip stitch , just fasten off.

Last round . Now make chain 4 in first stitch of round 16( counts as 1 dc ,chain1) skip next stitch . 1 dc in following stitch and chain1 . skip every alternate stitch and put a chain between all dc's . This creates holes to thread your cord...

turn inside out and weave in ends.

Make a twisted cord using 2 strands of yarn and  this method.......

Put your ball  of string into it's colourful jacket, putting the central end of the string through the hole in the bottom ,and weave the cord in and out ,through the holes made by the final round. Then simply pull tight and knot.
If the ball hangs unevenly then thread the cord back through  a few holes to help in hang correctly.

I'd love to know what you think of this project and of course it would be great to see your version if you give it a go.
It really is a handy little thing , both in the home and in the garden . I just love it's gorgeous round shape and colourful stripes..........

 Any problems with the pattern ,please let me know.
Have fun 
Jacquie x

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Time to Run :: The Great North

Hello Lovelies , here's my race  report :0)

 The great north run has expanded over the years into a whole weekend of sporting events so I was keen to take the whole family with me to experience the atmosphere and spectator events.
It was exciting to see the signs on the motorway as we approached Newcastle on Friday afternoon........

On Saturday,the day before the race, we woke to sunshine and caught the bus into Gateshead to see the sights. I have never visited this part of the world before and it took me a while to realize that Gateshead and Newcastle are right next to each other , separated only by the river Tyne......This is the View of Newcastle from Gateshead.......

I thought it looked lovely with all its different bridges, and there is even a Castle.

You can't see the famous Tyne bridge on the picture above because we are stood on it .

 I loved it's construction close up .........

And the elevated views it gives, across the rooftops with their lovely old chimney pots.......

Can you see the sweet little roof garden .

Further into town ( or "Toon" as it's pronounced around here ) Grey street is famous for it's wonderful Georgian architecture.

In fact there were wonderful old buildings everywhere I looked .........

The statue in this picture is the "Stevenson Monument". It's just near the central station where we bought day tickets for the Metro, to use on race day. Newcastle's Metro is a bit like the London underground but mostly it's surface rail.

The boys were keen to see what was happening at the sporting events down at the quays so  we wandered down the pretty streets and joined the crowds .

I loved the Millennium bridge..........

And walking across it gave a wonderful view of the Tyne bridge we had  walked across earlier ( and the other assorted bridges behind it )

Looking the other way was the old Baltic Flour Mill . Yet another striking building , it's now a contemporary art gallery......

On this side of the river we found a grassy bank and sat eating our pasta ( free to half marathon entrants and their families) and watching the great north city games. We sat so long in this sunny spot you can see they were rolling up the track before we left :0) it really was perfect and took my mind off the challenge to come .......for a while.
 Yes, Newcastle is certainly worth a visit. There is so much to see and do, and the people are very friendly.

Soon enough the big day arrived . It's a bit of a military exercise getting to the start on time when so many others are doing the same. We were only staying a few miles from the start but my friend knew how busy it would be.
After six packed Metro trains came and went we eventually squeezed into a  carriage ,two and a half hours before the start time,with loads of others dressed in running gear or fancy dress and clutching bottles of water and bananas.

It was a relief to get off the train and wander through the pretty University grounds to the start........

I didn't take any pictures of the queues for the portaloos but I'm sure you can imagine how long they were!!!!

Ohhh look there's Sue Barker and Mo Farah.....

Getting closer to start time now ...we say good bye to our families and they go to stand on a bridge to watch the start. While we wait  there's plenty to see, both on the big screens ....

tony the fridge

and in the sky..........

Woohoo, the Red Arrows

It took about half an hour after the start gun had sounded to get to the front of the queue :0)
Finally we got going and quite soon got to the Tyne bridge. You can see lots of people wear messages  on their backs. I thought this was such a great idea.You get a "I'm running for......... " with your number, to wear on your back.
When you are running with a lot of people , all going in the same direction, all you get to see is their back so this was somethining interesting to read , and so touching.
 Many were  memories of lost loved ones and some were funny . Like the lady running for "a day with no housework" .

As you can see from the above picture the weather was not sunny on Sunday. Infact it rained  for most of the race. I didn't mind as it's nice and cool but it did mean I didn't feel like getting my camera out of my bum bag. 

The support along the course was just great considering the weather and  how many runners must have gone past the crowds already by the time we arrived.
There are cheeky kids that squirt you with water and  locals holding out tins of biscuits. There are lots of bands along the route too , not to mention the "run through showers"( not needed by many this year )  and the hugely noisy but fun "Bupa Boost Zone" at 10 miles where we were encouraged to take our mind off aching legs and sore feet by doing the mobot and other daft arm signals.

My favourite encouragement was the oggy,oggy,oggy, oi, oi ,oi chant started by random runners and spectators along the route. It was very effective in the echoing  Newcastle tunnels we ran through.

This is the only other picture I took on the course. At the end you run along the seafront at South Sheilds and the Red arrows do a wonderful Aerobatic Display. I'm afraid it's a rubbish picture but I was pretty tired by this point.........

 I was glad I had my camera with me to capture this rainbow over the sea just after I had finished......

How did I do ? well it wasn't my fastest half marathon but that was not my aim. I wanted to enjoy it and I certainly did that. Pacing myself meant I had energy for a strong finish and felt well enough to enjoy our few hours at the seaside afterwards , proudly wearing my medal of course :0)

Mr BM and the boys had to endure more packed train carriages to the finish line and didn't get there very long before me ! That's the thing that makes the great north run so very different from the others I have done. The sheer volume of runners and logistics of getting about . Once you finish there is little point in trying to leave straight away because too many people are trying to do the same thing. 

The organizers put on free entertainment . This is a chap from Emmerdale who runs the race then does a concert for runners and supporters straight afterwards...........

We sat and listened , eating food from our goodie bags , then when it was over had a stroll along the beach........

Thankfully the rain had stopped and , after more food ( fish and chips with loads of salt and vinegar..........yummmy) the sun even shone . It was only fair to give the boys a short visit to the funfair after all their patience and hanging about in the rain........

By six o'clock we decided it should be safe to try the Metro again . Soon we were back at our car and I was so thankful Mr BM was driving home.
 This was the sunset snapped through the car window as we traveled home.......

A stunning end to a weekend to remember and a race like no other.

Jacquie x

Monday 17 September 2012

Thank you

Hello Lovelies ,
I'm just popping in to say all went well at the weekend . The Great North Run was amazing and I'm writing a post all about it but it's taking ages as I'm having problems with blogger . So in the mean time here are some sunflowers from my garden for you all.

Your comments were wonderfully encouraging.
Jacquie x

Friday 14 September 2012

Time to Run :: Nearly there

Hello Lovelies,
I'm sorry to keep you guessing on my crochet object. I haven't had time to get it photographed and write out the pattern, but I do have a good excuse.
The return to the school routine is always busy here with three boys to help doing homework etc . Plus I've been fitting in work and my final training runs.

Yes , this Sunday it's my BIG run of the year. I realize most of you arrive here for my craft and crochet but I've had so many lovely comments from lots people about my running posts too .You lot are simply wonderful with your encouragement. Thank you

 So why am I so excited about this half marathon ....after all it's not my first but my third.
 Well, it's because it's THE Half Marathon .
The GREAT NORTH RUN ....ooooh, I can't wait. I'm ridiculously excited about joining 55 thousand ( yes 55,000 ) other runners on the 13.1 mile course from Central Newcastle to the seaside town of South Shields. If you are not familiar with this event you can read a bit about it here

The organizers  say it's the most iconic Half Marathon  in the world.....I'm not sure if everyone would agree with that but it's certainly world famous and huge.
Luckily I'm going with a friend who is familiar with the event so hopefully that will make it less scary. Just having so many runners in one place is hard for me to imagine .

But I can't wait to take my place with the masses. The opportunity to take part in such an exciting  race is one of the great things about running.

I'm even hoping to capture some photos during the race to share with you lovelies. If you are in the U.K. and feel like getting a glimpse of the atmosphere on the day it's live on BBC 1 from 9.30 am Sunday morning .

I'm not trying to set a fast  time for this race......I'm going to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy myself. I'm running for a cancer charity and I'll no doubt be thinking of my friend Katie who sadly lost her battle with cancer earlier this year.

I'll leave you lovelies with a link to a  wonderful poem  which speaks volumes about this event to me. It was written by the poet Kate Fox  as she took part in last years event


So please wish me luck for the big day's great to be able to record my excitement here and I'll be sure to let you know how it went.
Jacquie x