Friday, November 28, 2014

NaBloPoMo 27 & 28

Yesterday I spent a lot of time doing tech support and graphic design. Then I popped in to office to review lots of images. Dinner with Tom and dad, who had come round to give us an estimate of the volume of stuff in our house for moving. Then bible study in the evening.

Today, off to London at some godawful hour of the morning to sit in on a training session. Lots of friendly faces in the student body, so had a very happy, productive day.

Enjoyed watching the little kids singing through all the songs they knew to pass the time on the train home, they being without seats, as was I. Had to hold back from joining in with Let It Go and Wind the Bobbin Up. The little sister trying to steal her brothers thunder by getting in first with the 'the cold never bothered me anyway' line was especially cute.

Also enjoyed advising an elderly lady on what to do in Southampton on the days before her cruise, and advising a miffed mum and son who couldn't find a Santa's grotto in London to check out their nearest NT place.

Straight off the train to pick up a free telly from someone from to donate to another friend helping someone set up a home after being homeless. Then to the pub for pizza with the Friday night crowd. Decided not to stay as beer festival on, and no seats, so back to ours for drinks and chatter and pizza off boxes on laps.

Evening topped off with scones baked to eat the lovely raspberry jam given to us by Olivia and Robin. Exceptional jam on scones from a work recipe. They never disappoint.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NaBloPoMo 26 - skating

I was a deprived child. My parents never took me ice skating.

Ok, so not really deprived, but I like to tease my parents on this one.

Tom took me skating at Winchester Cathedral.

As I clung to the barrier, going round in slow tedious circles for an hour, tense to the core and shitting myself with fear, I agreed whole heartedly with the lady wrapped up warm watching from the stability of the pavement who said "I think skating is one of those things you have to learn as a child".

I did get noticeably better in the course of the hour and only fell over once.

However, with cramp in the arches of my feet, and aching legs, I think I will only be going skating again if I can go for a beginners lesson, on a rink where there aren't spectators, or lots of little girl guides on a unit outing whizzing around making me feel even more like an idiot.

Tom was very patient, and went for a few faster laps at the end. Here's a blurry pic of him in action.

It also reminded me of my intense dislike of not being good at things right away, and dislike at failing at things in public.

As a reward for trying skating, Tom took me out for dinner. We went to Fish Tale, a relatively new restaurant in Winchester. The food was fab. We shared a mixed platter of deep fried fishy things, butterflied prawns, beef croquettes and curried soup to start. I then had scallop and prawn thermidor, and Tom had chorizo, smoked haddock and prawn chowder. The portions were so large that I brought home a third of my thermos and ate none of my chips. The prosecco was also fab. One to only order mains at next time I think, unless they make all the portion sizes a bit smaller and knock a few quid off the prices to match.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NaBloPoMo 24 25 - report

Today there is nothing to report from yesterday other than a cream tea with colleagues and knitting and talking house buying with Laura into the evening.

Today I am struck by a vivid memory of using the sixth form computer room in the silence in free periods to knit and read websites. As I do the same today in my lunchbreak in a peaceful barn conversion of an office.

Louisa and Andy's for dinner tonight - fun!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

NaBloPoMo 20, 21, 22, 23

Failing again, oh well.

I have been off to London for work, and enjoyed the luxury of a desk and trying to clear my to do list.

I've been to my house group and talked through trying to get to know people at church better.

I've been for a run and a couple of long walks.

Friday saw me inventing a dinner of pesto marinated chicken, cauliflower, broccoli and courgette cheese and jacket potatoes for Tom, Marmers and I before a Hattie Jaques Playlist gig at the Talking Heads. We bopped the night away to fubk soul and bizarrely, Brit pop covers.

I've knitted, caught up with work and done lots of washing whilst Tom was at a service of celebration for dessert mission action planning at Winchester Cathedral.

There was lots and lots of sleeping. I may have just caught up with the sleep debt.

Then there was sushi. Toddy and Adam were gracious sushi teachers and hosts whilst showing off their wedding presents happily. I'm pleased to say I make a mean roll, and it was nice to catch up with lots of old friends.

Today, I have slept, shopped and spent lots of time helping Olivia unpack whilst Tom helped Robin with DIY in their charming new home. I like helping. And being given champagne with my lunch to celebrate new houses.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NaBloPoMo 19 - date night

Today I spoke at a conference briefly and think I acquitted myself well.
After work it was date night.
Tom and I walked into town, to start the evening with a sock buying challenge as today is Autumn Socks Day.
...and lo, Tom did say once upon a time 'autumn sucks'
Alex cried 'no, autumn rocks'
And Tom said, ' no autumn socks'
So Alex laughed and gifted Tom with socks to make the mellow mists of autumn more bearable.
Thus it came to pass that socks were ritually exchanged on the 19th November.
We have both had a busy few weeks, and so decided to buy our socks on the same day. We split up in West Quay with half an hour to choose our socks.
I was scuppered by there being only 3 choices of 100% cotton socks for men  West Quay, all plain boring colours.
So with Tom's permission I ended up buying him a pair of merely 80% cotton from a Swedish company called Happy Socks like so.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NaBloPoMo 18 - pictures instead today

 different place for work today

NaBloPoMo 17 and 18 - gah

I think I struggle to post on days when I am helping to run training at work because I've been inside helping people and can't publicly go in to more details.

We also had a PCC meeting yesterday at church. These are usually tedious procedural things, and last night was no different. Money, buildings and the like.

Today I'm off to visit a new place for work, and then attend another church meeting. This time a children's ministry one, with my safeguarding officer hat on.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

NaBloPoMo 16 Westbury

Today we slept in after our night of Bellowhead dancing, wrapped presents for my dad and sped off to Westbury to see him and my mum.

It was lovely to see them. Tom had not seen them both since August, and I drove l since the end of September when Dad had been licenced as a lay minister.

Our main present to him was his master's degree academic hood, which a few of us family had gone in on. So now, if he's ever required to be in choir dress, he'll be adequately robed. It's one of those silly Anglican nice to have things that's perfect for a man who likes a bit of dressing up. He was suitably pleased.

After a pleasant after noon chatting and catching up and trying an avocado based chocolate mousse made by Grace, (mum and dad's goddaughter who's living with then at the moment ), we're now back home and in bed, ready for another long week of work.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NaBloPoMo 14 and 15 - lalala

Another fail. But for exciting reasons.

After a smear test,welcoming Martin and working very hard on Christmas content on Friday, I flung myself into getting ready for a wee party.

We had 11 people in total for spicy and mild nachos, pork tacos with an apple and avocado salad and lots of wine and cocktails.


I drank raspberry kirs and manhattans.

We went to bed late after talking house buying. Ah the grown up life.

Today, we tidied the house madly before our buyers came for a measure up and another look round.

Then it was off to Jon and Hannah's for a tour of their delightful new place, curtain adjusting and a soup and cake lunch. I am in awe of the amazing windows that let in loverly light and views.

We then sped off to do science with Louisa in Winchester, and stopped for a drink in the Black Boy, walked over misty meadows and had dinner in the Royal Oak. I love waking through the quaint higgely piggely streets in the dark.

Tonight was the Bellowhead gig at the Guildhall! This was my birthday present from Tom. Ever since Cecil told me about this band, saying they're so up your street you'll meet them coming back down again, I've wanted to see  them live.

They did not disapoint. It was one big party, with talented talented people. My feet, hands, knees and throat hurt from clapping, dancing and singing along.

It's fab to see a band that appear to be having such a good time on stage, and as short person I really appreciate their tiered set, which meant I could see of the 12 band members  all times they larked about.

Roll on the next gig!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NaBloPoMo 11, 12, 13 - sometimes things are better

I had two working from home days today. Which were peaceful and helpful after all the travelling I've had to do. Roll out of bed on to the laptop. No excuse for not blogging though!

I've been working on making some craft tutorials for our social media content, and I enjoyed making up some Christmas stockings. I need to edit all the photos and send them over to the person uploading the content to the website. They came out really well.

I also got to make some animations which was fun too.

We had an awesome dinner at Louisa and Andy's. Even though it didn't quite go to Louisa's plan, it was all delicious, and we chatted the night away which was really fun. I made sure we put a date in the diary to do it again.

I also nipped into town to pick up some more Christmas presents. Getting there with the Christmas shopping now. Just need things for Tom's side of the family really.

Last night I had a night to myself as Tom was out with the boys. I enjoyed my sewing, and watched Strictly Come Dancing, and tried to do something about our duvet shifting around inside it's case. Need to finish that!

Today  I was in Surrey for a meeting and then dropped my colleague back to Winchester on the way back. She invited me in for a cuppa, and I enjoyed gently easing back into the world in her peaceful living room.

It's off to bible study tonight - so I should go and print the prayer resources and then I think I will do some more of my knitting project.

Night all.

Monday, November 10, 2014

NaBloPoMo 10 - cocoon

Driving around today in my warm car, huddled in traffic jams, I felt like I was cocooned in the belly of a snake, with multiple red eyes drifting off into the distance.
I've been reading Joe Moran's book, On Roads, a Hidden History. The way it sauntered though topics, it could be a dreamlike journey on a motorway.
I encountered a serious motorway crash on the way home, and as I prayed for the person receiving vigorous CPR, my mind came back to the passages from this book on rubberneckers, accidents and modern safe roads.
Not sure where it went next, but it went there caressed by the soft tones of Eddie Mair and PM as I gently pressed onwards.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

NaBloPoMo 9 - stuck in the middle


Today Tom and I managed to drag ourselves out of bed in time to give two of the older members of our church congregation at lift to the early service.

We stayed to help with the AV in the second service, and I managed to knit a fair bit on my secret santa present during the second listening to the same service.

I tickled the vicar with my subversive white poppy within the flowers I had arranged.

After church we scurried back home to find Dad had gone out, so we had a quite lunch of leftovers to make space in the freezer.

When we returned, we packed up into the car for a trip to Hinton Ampner. Whilst it was very rainy, we had a quiet mooch round the house. Tom and I had to keep reminding Dad not to touch things which was amusing, like having a small child with you rather than a pensioner.

It was too wet to walk round the gardens, and Dad didn't fancy too much more in the way of walking, so we had tea and cake in the tea-room, or in Dad's case coffee and scone. I had a nice little chat with my friend Lou, who works at Hinton, and I managed to get in a spot of Christmas shopping in the shop as well.

Then home again home again jiggety jig to start on a lovely roast beef dinner. Apart from the fact we'd run out of potatoes, so I had run round the corner to the corner shop to stock up. I frequented the corner shop that has been there the longest, rather than the upstart that opened recently right next door to it!

Upon my return I was put in charge of yorkshire puddings. Which came out beautifully. I think it was the mother-in-laws happy eggs. I put in 1 more than the recipe called for as a couple were very dinky eggs indeed.

We also had very purple carrots, with a cooked texture that felt something like beetroot, but tasted like carrots. They turned the cooking water a very deep purple. I felt like I should dye something in it.

The roast dinner consume with relish, I have since cooked the leftover yorkshire batter as pancakes, boxed up two roast dinner packed lunches, two roast dinner boxes for the freezer, and made a huge batch of soup. Now Tom and I are curled up updating Amazon wish lists, and doing online Christmas shopping in a bid to spread the cost of Christmas out a bit.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

NaBloPoMo 8 - rain

Today it mostly rained.
First full rainy day of winter.
Biting driving dripping soaking rain.

After a delicious warm lie in, I scootched out of bed. Breakfast was yogurt, honey, bananas and hazelnuts. Yum.

Then off to church for flower arranging.  I seem to have been assigned Remembrance Sunday every year for some reason. I went for a different selection of arrangements this year due to some changes in the layout of our worship space.

I think using the invisible thread to make the floating poppies came out well. It was a lovely peaceful couple of hours in the silence being creative.

Tom and Dad had been out running errands, and we met back home for lunch.
We mooched off to Stockbridge after eating so Dad could interrogate the fishmonger on if he could buy whole smoked haddock.

Apparently there's no call for it any more. 

So we walked up and down the high street peering in windows and ducking the rain.
Then we had hot drink in the delicatessen to warm up before trundling home.

I did more knitting, and this evening, we met up with Tom's brother, sister-in-law and niece for dinner in a country pub so they could catch with Dad whilst he is over.
Now we're watching Dr Who and I am about to do more knitting. Fab.

NaBloPoMo 7 - nothing of note

Well, first fail of the month.

Oh well.

Today I drove off to High Wycombe to sit in on some training I'm going to be delivering later this year.

Traffic there and back was terrible, but I had Radio 4 and 4 Extra to keep me company.

Once I got back, helped Tom with dinner I sat down to tasty curry.

Then it was time for some knitting in front of the telly, chatting intermittently to Tom and my father in law until it was bed time.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

NaBloPoMo 6 - Surrey

Again, whizzing off up the A3 to planning meetings in Surrey. Today with a hastily purchased £8 bunch of flowers from my favorite wholesalers - titivated with my wrapping skills in the car park - for a lovely colleague's birthday.

Work was planned, birthday cake was consumed, then off to provide coaching on how to create web pages at one of our countryside places.

I love these sessions. More and more I enjoy training others, watching them have their light bulb moments. I must have done well today as I was rewarded with an unexpected Rocky bar and a chewy lolly. This was pleasing.

I rushed home, as much as I could with the traffic. Welcomed my father-in-law who's here for a short stay. Checked tomorrows work diary, scarfed my dinner.

Next up was our bible study discussion group, we're looking at church welcoming and hospitality. And now bed.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

NaoBloPoMo 5 - Fireworks

Driving back from Birmingham was intense. For someone who only learnt to drive recently, I sure am getting in some serious driving experience.

I drove back to Marmaduke's house for a fireworks party. I love fireworks. Deep childhood memories surface of houses full of friends and food. Barriers made from rabbit hutches holding excited children brave enough to be outside. Whilst dads light fireworks at arms length vertically, not horizontally. 
Little children's faces lit by sodium pressed against the glass of upstairs bedrooms. Sparklers. Mulled wine. Shouting out the colour of the next rocket before it explodes.

I think some of my love of hosting parties come from these memories.

Certainly, they say you marry someone like your dad. Watching Tom setting off 4 fireworks at a time with Luke, I certainly saw echoes of Dad's pyrotechnic glee.

Marmers had us safely ensconced on a terrace overlooking a sunken lawn and so the fireworks felt like they were exploding at eye level.

Then it was time for jacket potatoes, drinks and chatter. Cosy and happy.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

NaBloPoMo 4 - Birmingham

It was a restless night last night. And an early start today. I leapt out of bed, fixed my face and grabbed my suitcase before dashing out the door.

Today I had a meeting about internal comms and a big systems project, at Stowe in Buckinghamshire. So off up the A34 I bombed. Traffic was kind, and I made it there by 10:30am, in time to grab coffee and a tasty flapjack before trying to kill my inbox. I managed to scrape some desk time whilst the people I was there to present to took a tour of the beautiful gardens.

I enjoyed the afternoon session, getting to unleash my creative beast drawing out maps for the group to stick post it notes on.

Then it was time to hit the road again, this time a first for me, driving into the centre of Birmingham. I have meeting with all the other mes from around the country tomorrow, so I didn't think there was any point in driving back to Southampton to get on a train tonight, or at some god-awful hour tomorrow.

So here I am in a Travelodge, again, trying to catch up on email before I hit the Mailbox for dinner with colleagues.

Monday, November 03, 2014

NaBloPoMo 3 - London

I struggled to get up again today. Bed was so warm and cosy.
But get up I did. Looking in the mirror, I felt I looked rough, so I took a little time to put some slap on. A bit of Benefit blusher goes a long way.
Armed with the decadent purple devore scarf that was once a secret Santa present, and my red and white poppies tucked in my ruby slippers brooch, I set of in to the chill.
I nearly didn't make the train, but it was delayed, and off I zoomed. Southampton Central, where I stood in the rain on a crowded platform.  Then grabbing a seat, settling in to clear my inbox over a cup of tea and a kitkat from the trolley as the dreary south passed in a blur.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle as we neared Clapham Junction, as a drunk looking man in puffa jacket and baseball cap ran through the carriage. Well climbed over legs and feet as fast as you can in a crowded carriage. A disgruntled commuter was it hot pursuit, yelling 'Stop that man, he's a thief! Get the guard!'
After they had passed, the sacred silence of the railway carriage broken, my fellow commuters began chatting  each other in indignant 'well I never' tones. And then the announcements started.
Prerecorded 'can the guard contact the driver'. Then the guard himself, 'If there are any off duty members of staff or police officers traveling, please contact the guard in carriage 5'.
A man in our carriage got up and made his way towards carriage 5. As he passed, I noticed a large and livid scar on his neck curving from left ear to Adam's apple.
When we all disembarked at Clapham Junction, British Transport Police were waiting to board the train. I climbed the stairs to make my connection, the man with the scar ran from one end of the platform to the other. I couldn't see if he was trying to aprehrend someone through the bodies on the staircase.
Morning excitement over, it was then on to the Victoria offices for meetings. I made the most of a day in the office and tried to clear as much of my to do list as I could in one afternoon. So much so, as I didn't leave until after 5.
I chattered away to a colleague as we walked to the tube, learning she too used to dance on tables at the Frog and Frigate. We both missed the rush hour tube entrance, failing that particular cognitive charge challenge.
The train home was less eventful. Between reading blogs on my phone, I watched the woman opposite me remove her gold glitter nail varnish through strength of will and picking alone.
Once safely back at home, having made Tom jump by sneaking in the kitchen as he cooked, and packed for staying away tomorrow, we sat down to a dinner of shakshuka, and a leek gratin. I convinced Tom we should do something nice with our evening.
Tom fancied some pfeffernusse, so we bimbled back out into the cold and rain to try and make it to Waitrose before it shut. They sadly had none in stock, so we went for a conciliatory  drink instead. Over our beverages, we teased each other, and worked on a document of useful house quirks for the people buying our house.
It is now sleeping time, so I shall leave this here.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

NaBloPoMo 2 - Miserable

Today I woke up too late to go to church. Clearly all that walking tired me out yesterday. In fact, I woke up feeling thoroughly miserable. Like I wanted to cry. So I stayed in bed, all curled up under the duvet until 11am, whilst Tom went about doing housework and making breakfast.

I dragged myself downstairs and hung up washing, before sitting down to grilled croissants, scrambled egg, salami and red peppers for breakfast/brunch. Tom and I did some menu planning over the food.

I did a little more housework and curled up to knit feeling sorry for myself. Tom convinced me to come out shopping with him.

I'm glad he did, I felt a bit better for some fresh air, and something to think about. We started by going to B&Q to see if they had any Kilrock cleaner as our dishwasher has needed some industrial strength cleaning attention. They didn't, but we had fun looking at paint colours for the house we're trying to buy.

After that, Tom was all inspired, so we went to Wickes to look at bathrooms and flooring, and then on to Homebase to get the Kilrock and look at their bathrooms and paint too. It was at Homebase I had the realisation that I might be feeling so horrid because I'm at the end of the first packet of the pill since I've had my implant removed after it ran out. I'd forgotten that being hormonal made me feel so sad. So I bought a Mars Bar and scoffed it in the car in a big to appease the hormone monster.

On the way back home, we stopped at Sainsburys for groceries, and nipped over the road to International Foods to get all kinds of interesting spices for the week's menu. I love going round this shop, it's arranged by cuisine types, not by type of food, and so it does feel a bit like going round in circles sometimes as you come across another lot of spices, or tinned goods. But it even has an Iranian section and so it's a fascinating walk around.

When we got back, I curled up for more knitting, which has been the theme for today. This was in between helping Tom make tilapia tikka, orzo with lemon and roasted veg, and salad with a yogurt, zatar, lemon and sesame dressing.

This evening, I've been doing my expenses as I will have no time this week, and looking at my Christmas shopping list.

Hopefully tomorrow will be cheerier mental health wise.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

NaBloPoMo 1 - Walking

Welcome to November, the month where I post random stuff every day if I can!

November the 1st.

Today we had a gentle weekend lie in, then I made Tom and I grilled croissants with salami and cheese for breakfast. Note to self, if doing this again, cut up salami into little pieces and mix with the grated cheese. The rind on the salami shrank under the grill and made it into a little cup with all the melted cheese in the middle.

We then did some housework, and I worked on my latest knitting project for a bit, whilst we waited for the lovely Rob and Louise to arrive. I'm kind of knitting another Christmas jumper, but as always, I'm not really using a pattern, and I'm making it up as a go along. Hate patterns. I wish I could cut my own sewing patterns the way I make up my own knitting patterns.

Once Rob and Louise arrived, and Tom and I had finished faffing, we loaded up walking boots and water bottles and drove off up the A3 to Winkworth Arboretum to take in the autumn colour. It was heaving as it's  prime autumn colour time, but the weather was so glorious I thought it would be worth it.

It certainly was. We had a quick lunch in the tea-room and got walking. They've got three waymarked routes, so we went for the longest one that took in most of the site. The trees were amazing. The man who created it was said to have painted the landscape with the colour of the trees, and it certainly felt like it. We saw plenty of acers, and sorbus, and some fantastic trees that went from red at the top, through yellow into green, all on the same tree!

Here's a good photo I took of an acer with my new phone:

According to Runtastic, we walked 3.38km in 2:06 hours. I always forget how much I love walking until I go on a walk like this. It was lovely to bimble along chatting away and catching up, stopping to take pictures and to take in the views.

In fact we enjoyed the walking so much, we walked round rather quickly, so we ended up stopping at the Devil's Punch Bowl on the way home and walking round the bowl here as well! Certainly getting our National Trust membership money's worth! Here we walked along the route of the old A3 that's been superseded by the Hindhead Tunnel and back along the old coaching road. Louise and I rather liked the look of the routes down into the bowl, but the chaps weren't feeling that adventurous.

We sped back to Southampton and after much too-ing and fro-ing on what to do about food, we ended up getting takeaway, and watching Strictly and Dr.Who over our food. This was rather cosy, and a pleasant comfortable end to a lovey day with good friends.