My photo

I knit, I sew, I run, I look after children and hamsters, I take truly terrible pictures, I cook, I complain.  Sometimes all at the same time.

Monday, 20 March 2017

I once threw beer at a swan, and then it attacked my niece Rebecca

Two posts in two days? Inconceivable.

Anyway, we went to Kew yesterday, and I took the amazing DSLR and had a go at taking some photos without anyone holding my hand and reminding me that I can do this.

MORE COLLAGES.  I've made a page on the blog - it's over there on the side now, not on the top, after the radical redesign.

I will try not to be so self-indulgent in future.  The operative word here is "try". 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Leslie, I tried to make ramen in the coffee pot and I broke everything

Wait, what? 

I went on a photography workshop at the weekend, on gorgeous, gorgeous Hampstead Heath, a place I haven't been to since I was a child.  It was my Christmas present from Simon, and jolly good fun it was too.  The workshop was led by Matthew Maran, who is utterly amazing and delightful, and made the whole "learning to be the boss of the camera" process painless and enjoyable, and now I've got a much better idea how to take a really nice photograph.  I also know what an F-stop is, and I've worked out how to over and under-expose photos DELIBERATELY.

I've made three collages of my favourite photographs; I took 322, so consider yourself spared.  

I'm really pleased with all of the pictures, but these are special.  I'm going to make prints of two or three of them; I already have a print of one picture, and I'll share that another time.  It was a really great day, and I learned a huge amount.

I'm going to make a new page on the blog for some of my pictures.  Let's see if that works.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Tor would like to quit and be a florist, Gunther does interior design

Today in pictures.

The zoo today.  It was grey and unpleasant, and I concede that I might not have chosen the best shoes for today - Clarks gold shoes are brilliant and sparkly, but the cold, damp ground seeps in and my feet are still defrosting.  The reptiles were very active and running around, as were the hairy armadillos in the tropical zone, where my camera lens steamed up, making me an even worse photographer than usual.

Knitting is happening.  Lots of hats, mostly, although a Rockhopper shawl as well, in one of a kind hand dyed yarn, which is a bit nerve wracking.  Ever played yarn chicken?

Monday, 2 January 2017

Oh, Charles. I can't take that. It's clearly not cash, and I don't have time in my life to return things.

Cold today, colder than yesterday, but bright and sunny, so we went down to the seaside.

Featuring hunting for stones.

Camouflaged shoes.

People swimming.

No family arguments.

A trip onto the pier with the bright lights and the noise and the people and the horrific sensory over-stimulation.  We went on a ride too, and it was awful.

Pokemon hunting.

Seagulls.  I scared them in order to take this because I am all about the photo.

Abstract art.

Living my best life, fam.

Lovely start to the year.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Sorry it took me so long to answer, I was just thinking about how weird it is that we eat birds.

Blimey.  2016 is over.  

Not much happened here of any note, except for a new kitchen and a new nephew, both of which are marvellous, but I just ran out of steam for blogging.  It felt like another chore on top of work and life and looking after the girls, so I just stopped.

I did lots of other things though, and now I want to start blogging again; I quite enjoy writing, and if I want to get better, I need to practice a bit more.  

My words for last year were Do It, and I did.  Learning to make trousers, 10ks, half marathon, no navel gazing about work and stop putting things off.  I didn't set making goals or plan much beyond the following week, which fell down slightly when it came to weight loss, but then my scales broke, and everything is alright with the world again.  So now I need to apply last year's words to this year, and write, and see how things go.  I'd love to say that I will write in the blog every other day, but I know that school will drain me of all energy in a few days time, so no fixed commitments.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016


It's the summer holidays.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Devon this year, and we had a very outdoorsy holiday.  There were all sorts of the most micro of microadventures, a concept I hadn't really thought about before I heard this bloke on Midweek or Start the Week and thought it sounded like a really great idea.  So it became the "hashtag" for our week on Dartmoor, because I am that much of an Instagram whore.

Wild Swimming in the Dart.  I swam in the middle of the river for a very, very freezing 10 minutes; the current is surprisingly strong, which really shook Lucy when she tried to swim back to the bank after this photo was taken. 

There was climbing on bridges. 

Lots of climbing on rocks in the middle of rivers, which meant I found a use for my incredibly ugly and generally not very useful pretend Crocs.

Other birdlife spotted include chaffinches, greater spotter woodpeckers, kingfishers and herons.

Shoreham Seawater Lido at Brixham.  Lovely.  Freezing.  Full of people.


Running on Dartmoor.  This the track through and around Bellever Forest.  It's not that wild but is much better for running on as it is well maintained, and means I don't end up tripping and hurting my ankle, miles away from any phone signal.  

We met some sheep.  They didn't have any wool for sale, but I have their website, and I will be buying some Bellever Blue and some Postbridge Pink.  Have a look for yourself here

There was traditional forced route marches in the rain.  Only one, because, with the exception of the last day, it only rained once.  This is unheard of for Dartmoor.  

Fantastic fun. 

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The amazing sore bums of Ealing

I need a new bike.

While the kids are away in Dartmoor, we have been making the most of our child free time, and went  on a really long bike rides, because that's the sort of cool people we are.  We cycled down to church (waterfowl count: 0) (distance: 2km), hung around there for a bit serving tea and biscuits, then decided to go to Isleworth to see if Halfords was open for me to test drive my new bike.  I want a mint green Pendleton bike, with a basket and space for panniers and a bell, and I can apparently get one through work, although first I have to navigate Ealing's opaque cycle to work scheme website.  Seriously.

Our church is in Hanwell, which mean little to non-Ealing based readers, and right by the Bunny Park, which is on the Brent River, which has a cycle path along side.  So we cycled down there (waterfowl count: some moorhens and some coots) until we hit the Grand Union Canal, and then down to Brentford.  (waterfowl count: many moorhens, many coots, one heron)  From Brentford, we went through Syon Park, along the river and all the way to Isleworth. (waterfowl count: lots of seagulls) (distance: 9.5km)

Anyway, I sat on the bike, rode around the shop, had a fun time arguing with my husband about how many panniers I need, then we went to Richmond.  I do not like Richmond.  It is full of people wearing Fat Face and red trousers and braying and that makes me irrationally angry, so we did not stay in Richmond very long.  (waterfowl count: most seagulls and IDIOTS) (distance: 3.52)  We cycled back to Kew, again along the Thames, on a very, very bumpy, narrow path, with lots of people and nettles and thistles and things.  (distance: 6km)(waterfowl count: don't know, too busy avoiding joggers, dogs and other cyclists)

Kew is not quite as ghastly as Richmond, but it does have its share of idiots, although by this stage, I was really hungry and just a bit grumpy, and after the third rejected pub, I suggested that we just go and GET A SANDWICH FROM SAINSBURYS HURRY UP I AM STARVING, but we went to the pub on Kew Green and it was lovely, and I had a vegetarian Wellington thing, which is something I want to make now - it looked really easy, roasted veg in pasty, what's hard about that?  Famous last words?  (waterfowl count: a family of swans including teenage cygnets)

So then I made the cardinal error of looking at my Runkeeper statistics for the month, and by walking, running and cycling, I'd managed to cover 177 km, so obviously we had to cycle home along the canal the long way.  Turns out the long way is a very, very long way, and now my bum is really quite sore.  I think I'll be adding a pair of padded cycling shorts to my order when I buy my bike, and I really need to wear a sports bra when cycling on rough ground.  That would have been a very severe wardrobe malfunction.  (waterfowl count: at least 50 swans including some on their own (sob), two families with teenagers and two groups of at least 15 adults, tiny baby mallards with their mum, baby coots (so cute), baby moorhens (cute and so ugly), four herons, one flying cormorant)(distance: 25.5 km)

Percentages: (idea nicked from the terrifically funny Belgian Waffling)

25% adrenaline from cycling
25% sore bum (ditto)
10% joy of swans and other wild life
10% sunburn
5% gin

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Where did you go?

Many weeks later, and now it is the summer holidays, the children are away, work is but a happy, middle of the night screaming memory, and we have been to Austria and back again.

There has been all sorts happening: knitting, sewing, running, cycling, drinking gin, making jam, baking bread.  I contributed to the now traditional Outfit Along run by Andi Sutterland and Lauren Lladybird, which involved making a skirt and a cardigan, and a white tee-shirt.

The tee shirt is a Grainline Lark, with a lower v-neck, and cut in a smaller size, which is terrific, the skirt is a "self-drafted" one, where I had about two metres of the cherry fabric, and just wrapped it around my body, gathered the rectangles and shoved a waistband on it with a zip and a button.  I'm calling that a first design, obv.

Not much to say about the cardigan, except it's my third version of the Myrna pattern, and this time has no keyhole.  I altered the design to suit my personality and the v is much deeper than originally written, but it closes over my tummy and doesn't look too indecent, so I'm pleased with it.  Replicating my design change on the left side was a bit challenging, mind.  I wore this outfit to travel to Austria, with my red clogs, and it was very comfy and lovely.  It got a bit sweaty in the cardigan in Vienna, as it was pretty hot, much hotter than here, but I wore it a few times, especially in the evening.  I do really like it, and I've started yet another Myrna, this time in a lovely dark purple.  

I've made some other things, and as it's the school holidays, I might even be able to blog about them.  Who can say?

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking

For those who wonder why I was on strike today.

This is not an "open letter", I have actually printed this out, signed it and sent it to Ms Morgan, via my MP.

Dear Ms Morgan

I am on strike today, 5th July, along with countless others from my union. We are all professionals with a passionate belief in excellent, creative, stimulating and fulfilling education for the children in our care, and the decision today was not taken lightly or maliciously. It behoves you, as a fellow professional woman, not to present us as trouble makers out to disrupt children’s education; we are not choosing “a path of disruption over negotiation and discussion.”

While I am not obliged to lay out my reasons for striking to you or anyone else, I have thought very hard about this decision.

I am strongly against the forced academisation of schools. I believe that letting private companies with their own agenda run education will lead to a decrease of opportunities for children, as those who do not conform to the agenda will be excluded and marginalised.

Children should not be taught by unqualified teachers. This is a self evident truth.

Children as young as four are not failing. Children as young as seven should not be in tears at school because they are forced to sit in silence to do work that we were not able to adequately prepare them for – the sample SATs papers were not sufficiently similar to the SATs tests administered in May, especially in Key Stage 2. Children going to High School should not be expected to resit tests that they have “failed”. This is a waste of time.

Data released today shows that nearly half of 11 year olds in this country have failed to achieve the expected standard. I cannot believe that this is due to a failure in teaching; the assessments have been far too difficult, and the moving of the bar has been unfair, especially as the current Year 6 have only had one year of the new, much more demanding curriculum, yet were expected to take tests based on learning that would have happened across their four years in Key Stage 2. The political decision to do this suggests that the government are keen to follow the “path of disruption”; determined to show that schools are failing children, and therefore need to be forced to become academies in order to “improve”.

Children as young as seven are experiencing severe stress, and there has been a huge increase in mental health problems in young children. Since September, I have personally recommended referrals to CAMHS of 4 children, all under ten, and am aware of many others in my school who are suffering from anxiety and stress, much of which can be laid at the door of the increased pressure from considerably harder assessments; assessments that are coming at younger ages.

The assessment requirement of “total coverage” has been discriminatory to children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. The spelling requirement means that children with dyslexia will never be able to work at the expected level, and children who do not have the motor control at seven to join their letters will also not be able to work at the expected level; is this really the path we are going down? Your government put in place a wonderful new Code of Practice; this requirement absolutely undermines it and destroys much of the good work you have done.

The undermining of local authorities will also have a detrimental effect on children with SEND, as the local authority supports schools by providing Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Educational Psychologists, Paediatric Physiotherapists as well as specialist teachers and other professionals to help with children with challenging behaviour. Why have you invested so much time and money into nominally supporting children with SEND, when you remove the support the local authority provides?

In real terms, funding has been cut. I am a governor at my school and have passed a very tight budget this year; we are also having to make tough staffing decisions. The Institute of Fiscal Studies in October last year published a report stating that they forecast that school spending per pupil is likely to fall by 8% in real terms, taking into account the increased employer contributions to National Insurance and pensions, as well as a pay settlement of 1%. Having heard you on the Today programme this morning, I am aware that you do not accept this to be a true picture of schools, but I can assure you that it is. I am aware that you speak to school leaders; I would suggest that you need to speak with school leaders who do not share your political views and might provide you with a different picture.

I hope that you will listen to what teachers, head teachers, school support staff, academics and economists are telling you; we are as deeply concerned about the state of education as you are and would be devastated to see it destroyed by policies that can be reversed.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

You know that book I'm reading about getting along with your co-workers? It says that sarcasm is never helpful. I can lend it to you if you want.

I'm full of righteous, rational, if disproportionate, rage, and because, for the sake of my blood pressure, I am only speaking to people I agree with, so is everyone else I talk to.  I don't particularly want to talk about the reasons behind the rage that has led me to pour myself a soft drink, and fill it with gin, that are preventing me from ringing my father and yelling abuse at him down the phone, that has led to me temporarily abandoning the diet (I've lost a STONE people, a whole bloody STONE) and eating all the things in the house.  I'm on the verge of screaming "I BET YOU VOTED LEAVE YOU BASTARD" at anyone who gets in my way, or who looks at me, or who is anywhere within a mile of me.  The only tiny crumb of comfort I can find is that there will be a total destruction of our political system and we'll end up with different political parties and proportional representation, and then we'll have proper, actual democracy; and even though there'll probably be a complete break up of a union that has lasted for centuries and another civil war in Northern Ireland, it's all worth it because we are FREE and IN CONTROL again.  Hurrah.

Anyway, enough of that.  

Things that keeping me sane:

The Sewing Bee
Murder She Wrote

I've made a Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress in the same striped fabric I used to make our #teamcarter supporters tops.  It is delightful, even if I messed up the skirt a bit, and had to piece it together.  But it fits well, and is flattering and I love it, very much.

I've also made a Dolores Batwing t-shirt out of a not actually very stretchy jersey from Spoonflower.  It is much, much too small in places and is a pain to put on but it looks fine, so I'm wearing it on Friday for a do. I might have to remake the top for Lucy in the end, as I'm really not sure about it.

The third thing I've finished recently is the yellow Petrie top in Rowan Wool Cotton, and it is lovely, but much too cold here in Poundland to wear.  THIS BLOODY COUNTRY AND ITS STUPID STUPID WEATHER.

I'm in the middle of making a bright red Myrna cardigan as well, as part of the Outfit Along for this year.  So far, it is lovely; I accept it doesn't look like much here, but it is really gorgeous.  I've not made the keyhole this time, which has made no difference to it at all, I just didn't fancy it.  I'm just about on to the sleeves, and I'll make them tighter this time, the yellow one is too loose around the wrists, which is irritating.  The other parts of the Outfit Along will be a cherry print big puffy skirt - so a waistband and a Cambie dress view B skirt, and a Lark tee shirt in white jersey.  I've made one, but I should have cut a smaller size.  WIN.  Even Nigella is bigger than me now.  DOUBLE WIN.  There's still a long way to go, but I'm definitely shrinking.

Hey ho, I'm on strike next week; I can't go on the march but I will DO SOMETHING in order to relieve my dreadful rage.  I think I might join the Labour Party.  We will see.