The Stitch-cation Challenge!

Do any of you lovelies follow The Crochet Crowd? If you’ve not heard of them, then it’s worth a Google search or a Facebook page search. They’re a fab community if you’re looking for ideas or advice. Mikey, the guy who runs it, puts in tonnes of time and effort making video tutorials on all aspects of crochet, it really is something amazing.

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Something else that The Crochet Crowd do, is run challenges! Over the summer they ran a challenge called ‘Stitch-cation’, which I was super inspired by and decided that I simply HAD to participate in; a sampler afghan! Ten different patterns to make twenty squares (although I ended up making extras).

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I bought a ‘Lucy pack’ of wool about six months ago, and its been squirrelled away all that time, so it seemed to be the perfect moment to bust it loose! Plus, at the time, we had our Cornwall holiday coming up…. Perfect holiday project all wrapped up in a nice bow hey?!

And so, without further ado, here comes the yarn porn! :)

Colour planning on hols!

Colour planning on hols!

The resulting square.  One of my faves!

The resulting square. One of my faves!

A growing pile of squares.

A growing pile of squares.

Ready to be joined.

Ready to be joined.

Slip stitch joins.

Slip stitch joins.

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As the blanket neared completion, Mini Moo asked if she could have the blanket when it was finished.  And so the extra squares were made to well and truly personalise it.

As the blanket neared completion, Mini Moo asked if she could have the blanket when it was finished. And so the extra squares were made to well and truly personalise it.

Gorgeous border!

Gorgeous border!

And so, the finished article….

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And a happy girl.

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The Leibster Award

Leibster award

Well WOWEE and golly gosh! Karen, over at the super delightful blog ‘Mixture43′ ( http://mixture43.com/ ) has nominated me for a Leibster Award! Isn’t that exciting?!

In all honesty, it was a good few months ago now, but a) I’m so busy just lately, and b) I’ve been working on this post for quite a while now because I really wanted to do it justice.

So, the first part of this post, is to answer some questions that Karen listed that she’d like me to share…

My 11 questions from Mixture43:

1. When and why did you start to craft (crochet, knit, sew, make?)

This is a difficult one to answer really because I’ve had a go at most things crafty over the years! I’ve always been of the arty persuasion, but my first foray into ‘grown up’ crafting was card making. I started going to classes at my local craft shop after I’d had Mini Moo, just to get out a bit and to meet new people. I really enjoyed it, but in time found that it was more about composition and piecing pre made elements together, where I prefer to create things with less boundaries.

I moved on then, to ATC creating and swapping, and this also led me to zentangles and also back to just plain pencil sketching like we had to do for art a level!

Pencil sketch "Down the Plughole".

Pencil sketch “Down the Plughole”.

Pencil sketch "Steam Train Wheel".

Pencil sketch “Steam Train Wheel”.

Simple zentangle.

Simple zentangle.

William Morris inspired zentangle.

William Morris inspired zentangle.

Acrylic paint on card. This was attached to an envelope as mail art.

Acrylic paint on card. This was attached to an envelope as mail art.

Acrylic paint ATC

Acrylic paint ATC

I had been trying to learn to crochet on and off for years with no success. Various people had tried to show me, and various library books had been studied and discarded in a strop. Then at a craft event at church one day, there was a lady crocheting a shawl in a really grim variegated yarn. Her mum, who was also a member of the congregation, was chatting to me and commented that she was self taught. And I looked at this ugly shawl, and this crocheting lady, and I just thought “if she can do it, I can do it, and I can make it a darn sight nicer!” And so I came home, got on YouTube, and the rest is history!

2. What are your favourite colour combinations?

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My favourite colour combo as you may have gathered, is a rainbow. I love rainbows! Aside from that, I am very hard pushed to select another two because I am so inspired by colours all the time. Have a peek at my colour schemes board on Pinterest for a zillion I’ve picked out ( http://www.pinterest.com/loopyfreak/colour-schemes/ ) and in the meantime here’s a smaller selection for you to Feast your eyes on!

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3. What have been the last 3 things you have made?

The last three things I have made are Little Trons jumper….

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a canvas for our wall……

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and a baby mobile!!

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4. What would be your dream holiday destination and why?

I suppose at present, some kind of all singing all dancing hotel resort where the kids will have a great time, and there is also some sort of kids club and crèche and baby sitting service on an evening!

However, speaking completely selfishly, I have always always always wanted to visit Russia. I don’t know why, I just have a fascination about it. I’d love to see the room where the murder of Rasputin began, and also Tolstoys birthplace. And the wilds of Siberia!

The room where Rasputin was killed, complete with wax Rasputin

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I’d also love to be able to take a year to travel around USA. I’d like to visit every single state and really see the country properly. I pour over my ‘Stephen Fry in America’ book- I’d love to be able to do what he did!

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5. What is your favourite food?

I love food. Seriously, I am the dress size to prove it. However, my absolute favourite food is… Salad! I know, it’s ridiculous that someone who loves salad as much as I do, is so fat! But i do. I love love love salad. I’m quite picky how I make them, I like to chop the ingredients up quite small, so that with each mouthful I get a nice variety of flavours, and I usually like to include a small amount of a fruit aswell, and a crispy element like dried onion or croutons. While I’m dieting, perhaps I should get super experimental with salad making and then share my recipes with y’all.

6. Who do you most admire – past or present?

Gosh, these questions are very tricky! … I admire many many people, for many different reasons, and I feel as if there is a great weight on this question to do it justice!

So, I am going to go for someone who has come to my attention more recently; who I have only recently learnt about.

Princess Alice of Greece. I watched a documentary about her just the other day on 4OD. If you didn’t realise, she was Prince Phillip’s mother. What an inspirational lady!

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She lived with a disability (she was deaf) and battled mental illness her whole life, in a time when there were not the healthcare options available today. During the Second World War, when it became clear that the Jews were being rounded up and removed, she went straight out and found her Jewish friend and their family, and hid them in the attics of where she lived. And then in her later life, despite everybody’s scoffing at her religious dedication, she founded a religious order and dedicated her life to charity.

The sort of Lady that every little girl should learn about.

The sort of Lady that every little girl should learn about.

7. Who would be at your dream dinner party?

Another tricky one! Well, on one hand, I could list a fantasy dinner party guest list for you no problem;

Stephen Fry,
Roy Lichtenstein,
Anita Roddick,
Molly Weasley,
Moominmamma,
Tove Jansson,
Judi Dench,
Alan Rickman,
Sandi Toksvig,
Phoebe Buffay from Friends.

However, I have to say that I love sitting down at the end of the day, to dinner with my family. It’s a bit crazy with all six of us, but its absolute perfection.

8. What advice would you give your 10 year old self?

My advice to my ten year old self, crikey…. Life improves so hang in there! It will take time and strength, but it will, and you CAN do it. And appreciate your family, who you grumble about so much, because you won’t have them forever.

9. If you could live in any country which one would it be and why?

I would love to live in USA, because it’s such a diverse country. If I could chose anywhere though, I would probably go for a Scandinavian country as I think they have the right approach to life.

10. What would be your favourite film?

I don’t have one favourite film, but I can give a list of a few I love!

Brief Encounter

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Girl Interrupted

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The Craft

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We are currently watching (currently, as in, we’ve got half way through and have to go back to it because it’s such an epic!) Cleopatra.

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It’s absolutely amazing. I watched a documentary about the making of it as well, and the fact that it even got made is a miracle! Perhaps it’s because I’m a girl with a thing for older men, but I love the way Caesar (played awesomely by Rex Harrison) at the beginning keeps calling Cleopatra (obviously played by the legend that is Liz Taylor) ‘young lady’! It’s so sexy! “Now listen to me young lady, you need to learn some respect!” I love it!

11. What will your next project (s) be?

My next project is a holiday one. I’m taking my Lucy pack which I’ve kept squirrelled away, to Cornwall with us and I intend to make the sampler throw for the Crochet Crowd’s Summer Stitchcation! Happy days!

(Edit to add, since writing this, I have in fact now finished this project, so there’s a TAH-DAH on the way soon!)

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And now, it is customary to tell you 11 random facts about myself.

1. I love Dad’s Army. I can’t help it I just DO!

2. I have completed one module of an Open University degree several years ago. I am hoping to return to it soon!

3. When I was a teenager I used to dream about running away from home and working in the theatre.

4. When I was in Sixth Form and had free lessons in the afternoon, my friend Michelle and I used to leave college early and have lunch in Yates’. We’d get a bit tipsy, roll home in a taxi and then watch the South Park movie, singing along to all the songs!

5. I compulsively have to order things in rainbow order. I even repeat the rainbow colours in my head when I feel anxious.

6. I stood next to Jamie Oliver at the BBC Good Food show once. He was a lot taller than I imagined.

7. I never know what to get Brian for Christmas or his birthday. I’m so rubbish at knowing what he’d like. He usually ends up returning whatever I get. I feel guilty about this because he always gets me EPIC presents!

8. I am a qualified Nail Technician.

9. I think the pop group Aqua were ridiculously underrated!

10. Whenever we go somewhere coastal, whether on holiday or just for the day, I like to get one of those postcards that has a map of that area of coast on it. One day I would like to have them all!

11. I think that The Great British Bake Off has sadly had its day. I think it has become a victim of its own success.

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My chosen blogs-

Jenerally Speaking
( http://jenerallyspeaking.typepad.com )

Bunny Mummy
( http://bunnymummy-jacquie.blogspot.com/ )

Color’n’Cream
( http://colorncream.blogspot.ca/ )

plus 3 crochet
( http://plus3crochet.blogspot.com/ )

Pink Milk
( http://pinkmilkjewels.blogspot.com/ )

And my eleven questions for them are as follows!

1. What is your earliest childhood memory?
2. What are your current WIPs?
3. If you could only choose one craft to do from now on, what would it be? Choose what your heart says, not what would nessecarily be most practical!
4. What is your favourite thing to cook/bake?
5. If you could press a pause button on your ‘mundane’ life for one whole year (in which time you wouldn’t miss out on your kids growing, or lose your job etc), what would you chose to do with that year?
6. Who inspires you?
7. What is your dream profession?
8. Who are your favourite book characters?
9. What is your perfect day out?
10. What is your favourite colour combination?
11. What keeps you blogging?

I really hope you enjoy creating your own Leibster post my darlings!

See you soon y’all!! :)

Reels

A month or two ago, my friend Claire asked me if I was interested in giving a home to her Nan’s tin of old cottons. Obviously I squealed a big ol’ yes!

They arrived in a beautiful old tin.  Not a tin ids usually choose, but definitely beautiful with it's retro still life decoration!

They arrived in a beautiful old tin. Not a tin I’d usually choose, but definitely beautiful with it’s retro still life decoration!

What a beautifully satisfying sight. Perfectly packed, creating a perfect pattern.

What a beautifully satisfying sight. Perfectly packed, creating a perfect pattern.

These are what I call 'proper' cotton reels! No cheapo flimsy plastic- all lovely wooden reels.

These are what I call ‘proper’ cotton reels! No cheapo flimsy plastic- all lovely wooden reels.

The promise of beautiful colours to be revealed!

The promise of beautiful colours to be revealed!

As you see, I was not disappointed!

As you see, I was not disappointed!

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 <3  :)  <3

<3 :) <3

A Quest for Self Improvement.

Hello Darlings.

Sorry I’ve not been around so much for a while now. I’m finding my little chaps to be at a rather demanding age at the moment, they have to be watched so much, and when they are napping, or I can sweet talk Mini Moo into watching them for a while, I like to try and get a handle on some housework!

We jollied off to Cornwall on holiday last week, and I intend to put some lovely photos up and tell you all about that very soon, but for the moment I’m going to tell you all about my quest for self improvement.

As I’m sure you know, I’m a larger lady, and I’ve never really been very fit. Sport has always been my nemesis so after school days were over I just shunned the concept really.

I’m generally quite at ease with my build and my figure. I’m a positive kind of girl as y’all probably know by now! But for a while now, Brian and I have been commenting that we’d like to lose a little weight and be a bit fitter. Then with the holiday on the horizon, I decided I should progress from “We really should try and get a bit fitter”, to actually doing something about it.

A lot of my friends seem to be taking up running just lately and for some reason the idea really appeals to me. I think its because its such a self contained sport; something I can do on my own with no specialist equipment and without it taking too much time out of my day.

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I researched the Couch to 5k program, and it looks great, but I wasn’t fit enough to even begin that, so I simply decided to walk. I began by walking about a mile, and built it up, walking every other day, until now I am aiming at a 3 mile walk most days. My first target has been to be able to do the first Couch to 5k workout.

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Well now, as much as I can work on my fitness, which really was all I was going for in the beginning, it became clear that in order to really be able to run, I would probably have to lose some weight. And so instead of diving into a non-sustainable crash diet, I’ve decided to focus on clean and healthy eating.

On holiday, we ate from a local farm shop; all organic and locally grown. Check out those amazingly vibrant carrots! And look at these delicious strawberries too!

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Lovely stuff!

Do you remember me mentioning my Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook “It’s All Good”? Well, I’ve added a new book to the clean eating cookbook arsenal. I’d heard about it and seen these lovely ladies on TV, but like so many thoughts that I have, my “ooh I must look up that book” got wafted out of my brain in a whirlwind of children and housework! Then, my ridiculously beautiful cousin Susanna mentioned it and I finally looked it up. Ooh it’s a good’un! I decided a birthday money investment was on the cards.

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Worth every penny.

I’ve tried a few recipes. Firstly this quick and simple one-

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Courgette salad. Mine isn’t quite as pretty as the picture in the book I grant you, but for ridiculously few calories I’ve been so full from eating it at lunch that I had to delay eating my supper!

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And what was supper? It was this delightful little number-

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Lamb meatballs with Cauliflower Tabbouleh.

I don’t think I’ve ever told you before about how much I love cauliflower. It’s so under rated and yet oooh its delish! Genuinely, I’m quite the closet cauliflower freak. One night on holiday when I didn’t know what to have to supper, I just ate a whole baked cauli to myself! #crazylady

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The cauliflower gets all grated up and then steamed and mixed with other beautiful vibrant ingredients.

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To make a mixture pulsing with goodness!

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I have to admit to being a duffer and forgetting to take a snap of the meatballs, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to imagine those. Think small bitesize nuggets of….. meatball-iness. :)

And the consequence was….

Well, I have almost lost a stone which is lovely! Also, just the other day I reached my first fitness target and completed the first Couch to 5k workout! How epic is that!!!

That is 3 and a half weeks on my healthy eating, and just over a month of walking, and GREAT RESULTS ALREADY!

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I hope you are all happy and healthy out there in blogland aswell, and I shall be back very soon. x

Jam Tarts!

Life is still a whirlwind here. Not long now until the holidays! I can’t wait, I do love having all my chickies at home. Of course I also have a big birthday looming… the big 3-0! Then off we jolly to Cornwall for a week awsell!

Nothing particularly exciting is happening just yet though, its all just domestic routine that I’m swamped in at the moment. And I do love it. I love to be home with my children, bringing them up, seeing all the firsts. The other day was another first for my little chaps- first ever JAM TART!

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It was a messy affair! I was glad Brian was home to help me clear up afterwards.

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There was jam everywhere.

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This face that Disco Boy is pulling is known, in this house, as a “salmon face”. It is a happy face despite what it may look like! Mini Moo came up with the name for it, because its “the sort of face I pull when I’m made to eat salmon”.

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Dunking has also been discovered. Now they eat real food pretty much all the time, these boys LOVE to dunk as much as possible in ketchup.

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I haven’t had any of the jam tarts myself though, as I am trying to get fitter and lose some weight. I did treat myself to a white wine spritzer with strawberries though last night. I had just walked two and a half miles though…

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All other treats shall be kept of the ‘magazine’ variety!

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Looks good huh? I’ll let you know as I haven’t had chance to properly dive in yet!

See you all very soon! x

Nuggets

Hello ducklings!

It’s still all go here. I decided to try and make use of the little nuggets of time I often have while hanging around in between other occupations. For example, five minutes sat in the car before collecting the girlies from school, two minutes while something is heating on the hob- these little wisps of time add up! So I thought I would try and jot things down on my Evernote app to then mash together into a blog post.

Here’s one I wrote last night. (Don’t be fooled by the time being wrong in the top corner, that’s just when I did the screenshot!)

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I even snapped a pic of me looking frazzled!

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Stuck in the car with three young children for half an hour?! Gaaaah!

Mini has gone off on another trip today, and Tron has one on Thursday aswell. It’s not just me who has a busy life at present!

There’s several projects on the go here for me to tell you about next time. I’ve just made a canvas for our living room wall, and also it’s time to start making end of term gifts for the girls teachers… I’ll be back soon to tell you all about it. X

Life Never Stops

Hello everyone! I’m sorry I’m so scarce at the moment, life is just so full. It’s ironic really, life is so full and I could tell you so much, yet BECAUSE life is so full, I don’t have the time!

Here are some pictures for the moment. I shall try and write something more exciting and cohesive soon. xxx

Ooh hello!

Ooh hello!

Feeling happy and healthy, if a little tired just at the moment!

Feeling happy and healthy, if a little tired just at the moment!

The joy of finally sitting down in an evening and noticing that Brian has recorded Barry Manilow at the BBC for me! :) x

The joy of finally sitting down in an evening and noticing that Brian has recorded Barry Manilow at the BBC for me! :) x

New library book from which I have been trying a few recipes.  I'm not a Tana Ramsey fan, but I thought I'd give her book a go.

New library book from which I have been trying a few recipes. I’m not a Tana Ramsey fan, but I thought I’d give her book a go.

Big success was this one- Butternut squash spaghetti lasagne.

Big success was this one- Butternut squash spaghetti lasagne.

Homemade egg fried rice.  A favourite of mine, super simple, I'll share my 'recipe' sometime if you're interested.... x

Homemade egg fried rice. A favourite of mine, super simple, I’ll share my ‘recipe’ sometime if you’re interested…. x

Evening downtime, watching Twilight and crocheting in bed!

Evening downtime, watching Twilight and crocheting in bed!

A reward and chore chart  to combat some challenging behaviour from Mini Moo.

A reward and chore chart to combat some challenging behaviour from Mini Moo.

Summer garden fun.

Summer garden fun.

Followed by coke floats!

Followed by coke floats!

Cupcakes for little chaps.

Cupcakes for little chaps.

Yum yum!  And check out that big unruly tuft of hair round his ears!!!

Yum yum! And check out that big unruly tuft of hair round his ears!!!

Hair so tufty in fact, that what's that?!

Hair so tufty in fact, that what’s that?!

Yup, it's a quaver.  Wedged behind my son's ear, tangled in a tuft!

Yup, it’s a quaver. Wedged behind my son’s ear, tangled in a tuft!

So Brian got his clippers out and we gave the boys a trim.  Number 5 all over.  Not Brian's best picture (sorry dear), but the light catches Thunderpants blonde crewcut very nicely in this particular pic!

So Brian got his clippers out and we gave the boys a trim. Number 5 all over. Not Brian’s best picture (sorry dear), but the light catches Thunderpants blonde crewcut very nicely in this particular pic!

Some of Little Tron's work that I saw at parents evening.  I have two excellent little girlies so I do!

Some of Little Tron’s work that I saw at parents evening. I have two excellent little girlies so I do!

Hula hoop practice.

Hula hoop practice.

And the green hex blanket plods on.

And the green hex blanket plods on.

:) :) :)

Ten Random Facts

I read a fabulous blog post a month or so ago, over on Coco Rose Diaries ( http://cocorosetextiles.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/ten-random-facts.html ) which had ten random facts about the blogger. I really enjoyed reading it, and thought it was such a simple yet super idea! So here come my own ten random facts.

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1. I bought my first pair of ‘serious’ trainers in fifteen years the other day, being as I have started running. They are absolutely amazing and solved all my shin splints problems!

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These are the ones I have! They are actaully mens, but they were more comfortable.

2. I am currently watching Michael Palin’s New Europe on TV. I really enjoyed this series so I was glad to stumble across it on the Travel channel this evening. I’ve never been hungry to travel, but just lately I seem to have got the itch. I’d love to visit Russia, that’s number 1 on my list. I know its a bit morbid, but I’d like to visit the room where Rasputin was murdered!

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Obviously that is Alan Rickman as Rasputin, I’m not completely dense. But any opportunity to sneak in a bit of Rickman! ;)

3. Following on slightly from the above fact, I would love to learn to speak Russian, and a few years back I taught myself the Russian alphabet. I used a few sources on the net for this, one being a clip from Russian Sesame Street!

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4. I bought a second hand bike yesterday. I intended to do some ‘easy’ cycling to build some fitness in a lower impact fashion. I have to say though I am finding it terribly hard going! You may never forget HOW to ride a bike, but you sure do lose the fitness! I have actually found the run and walk easier!

The bike I have is just a basic, kind of rusty mountain bike in silver and purple. But I’d love to get good enough at riding it that it would be worth saving up for something as beautiful as this ->

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5. I have a profile on Day Zero Project. If you’ve never been on there, just Google it and go explore. Basically, its an online way of making ‘Bucket List’ type of goals. I haven’t set myself any targets that are too outlandish because I would like them to be things that are do-able in my life, rather than it just being a list of dreams.

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One of the first goals I completed was to walk up to Glastonbury Tor. It was an amazing day and an amazing acheivement.

6. I love Facebook and Pinterest, but find Twitter strange.

7. I really like good quality art/drawing apps. I love the amazing artistic effects that can be achieved. David Hockney did an whole exhibition of pieces he ‘painted’ on the app ‘Brushes’.

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There’s the David Hockney above, and following is my own humble attempt.

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8. About five years ago I made a list of 50 novels I would like to read. I chose a wide range, including old and modern, lesser and better known. I still, of course, haven’t read them all, but I have got through a fair few. It’s funny you know, because I made a point of including books that I would never usually give a second glance, and have still really enjoyed most of them. There have only been two that I couldn’t finish.

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A suprisingly un-put-down-able read was Fathers and Sons, which I LOVED.

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And less to my tastes, was Housekeeping. It’s a beautifully written and perfectly atmospheric novel, but I found it too slow and bleak for my liking.

I’ll put my list up on a separate page if you’d like to see it…. check up on the menu bar shortly! :)

9. I am so obsessed with Harry Potter that certain phrases when I hear them, cue my brain to complete them in my mind in Harry Potter style. For example I heard on the radio just yesterday- “The Minister for….” and my head says “MAGIC”! Also, and this may have been on the very same radio bulletin, “A representative for the misuse of….” and my head screamed “MUGGLE ARTIFACTS OFFICE”. If anyone ever mentions “Red hair and pale complexion”, I think “Must be a Weasley”. Also, I quite often find myself saying “Sirius-ly” instead of “seriously”.

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10. I am really rather tired and sleepy at present, so I think it may be time for a Jaffa cake to fuel my journey up the stairs to bed.

Jaffa cake

Night all! xxx