Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lent 2

    These are the activities from the last couple of weeks of Love Life Live Lent:

  • Make a list of things you want to say sorry to God for, say sorry, then throw the list away.
Haven't got round to this one yet.

  • Buy a coffee and give it to someone on the way to work.
This one seems to be aimed at commuters & I don't pass anywhere to buy a coffee on the way to work. So I made coffee for my colleagues instead.
  • Do a chore or errand for a member of your household.

I got round the lack of anyone else in the household problem by offering to help people out with a few things. So far, I've babysat a museum for part of my lunchbreak, went out at lunch to buy chocolate for a colleague, and out another time to buy teabags for another colleague!

  • Hold a fundraising tea break.
Not quite sure how I'll achieve this one? I did buy some books at work for a charity appeal for the local hospice. Can that count?

  • Think of 3 blessings of the day and be thankful.
This was actually relatively easy, if rather thought-provoking. The day I did this was the day of the soup run in Slough, during which it poured with rain. It was easy afterwards to feel very thankful to return to my warm, dry flat with ample food to eat and plenty of clothes to wear.

  • Today why not slow down and savour an experience, e.g. a meal, a piece of music, a few pages in a book.

This is Boulter's Lock on the Thames on the outskirts of Maidenhead. It's a beautiful spot for a Sunday afternoon walk in the March sunshine. We stopped to watch a boat going through the lock, and also had lunch on a terrace overlooking the river (which got rather cold after a while).

  • Try to walk or cycle a route you would normally drive.

I couldn't do this this week as I was recuperating from a stomach bug, but next week it should be light enough for me to cycle to work on the cycle path. It doesn't have lighting, and I don't really want to cycle through Slough (can't think why...) which means waiting until there's enough daylight for the cyclepath.

  • Half the world lives on £1.40 a day, can you?

No. I think it costs me at least £1 in petrol to get to work (see above, I suppose I could have cycled), plus I usually spend around £4 a day on food, so even when I cut that right back it is still very difficult. Plus it costs around £1 a day (averaged over the year) for electricity (no gas connection) for my flat. Rent works out at £19.56 a day and council tax at £2.40. Water works out at 43p a day. So it costs me £28.39 a day just to have a roof over my head, transport to work and food. No, I can't live on anything like £1.40 a day.

  • Do a garden or neighbourhood tidy-up.

I've been trying to keep the communal bin area for my block of flats tidy. It tends to attract fly-tippers dumping stuff, and I hoped they'd be discouraged if there wasn't already piles of junk already dumped there. Plus the delightful man and his friends in the flat below have a tendency to leave beer cans all over the grass outside, so I've been collecting them up and putting them in the recycling bin. And feeling depressed that it's costing me £19.56 a day just to live here. But then I should count my blessings (see above) that there's a roof over my head...

  • Limit yourself to only checking email or texts once today.

I suggested to my boss that I did this on a work day, but I don't think she was impressed. So I did it on a Saturday instead, but that was a bit of a cheat as I went into London for the day, with no email access!

  • Buy something from a charity shop and reverse haggle.

I think this could be an interesting one to try. I haven't been near a charity shop for a while, but once I've cleared out some clothes (see Lent challenge somewhere above or maybe in previous Lent post?) I'll go to Oxfam!

  • Offer to babysit for friends.

I've offered to babysit for a colleague, who has a really sweet daughter. These are the socks I knitted for her first birthday last year. Nothing actually arranged yet, but I did offer!

  • Give someone an apple today.

I was all primed with an apple ready, but then I forgot about it! Oops.

  • Why not use a "buy one get one free" and give one away?

Have yet to find a BOGOF offer that's both something I actually need and also something that I can imagine someone else wanting.

  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth today

Easy peasy. Already do this one.

  • Have coffee or lunch with someone you don't know well

Was a bit stumped with this one, as I wasn't sure where to find someone I don't know well to have lunch with. In the end several of us agreed to brave the (very intimidating) dining room at work on Friday and talk to some people we don't know. Unfortunately we'd forgotten that school finished for Easter on the Wednesday so the dining hall wasn't open on Friday.

  • Defrost your fridge and then think about climate change.

Fridge defrosting now!

Haven't thought about climate change yet!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happiness Swop

I recently took part in the Happiness Swop on one of the boards on Ravelry. The idea was to send a small present to one of the others. Kate sent me a parcel containing these:

A groovy tin containing a row counter (She says you put your needle through the hole with one bead for row 1 of the pattern repeat, and move it for each row. For row 11 you put a safety pin in the bead's space, and the needle through 1. So, for 25 you'd have the pin in "2" and the needle in "5".) Clever, isn't it?!


Daisy stitch markers!! Very cool (and very cheerful!). Thank you Kate. It's taken me a while to blog about it as I was waiting for some daylight to take photographs in...

I can't decide what to do about the No-purl Monkey sock. It's already had 3 attempts at being a Herringbone sock, and now I think I'm going off the No-purl Monkey pattern for this:

I've turned the heel on them, but they're working out quite big, and I think I've made the leg too long so will be in danger of running out of yarn. Now I'm thinking about frogging them (again) and making some Leyburns instead. Or am I just being even more indecisive than ever?

Monday, March 16, 2009


I got a letter this morning, saying that my portfolio has passed and "inviting me to join the register of chartered members of CILIP"!! YAY!! OK, I also have to pay another £20 for the privilege of joining the register. I can't quite believe it's finished, especially as I wasn't expecting to hear back from them for several more months. Now I get to put "MCLIP" after my name. Tee hee.

Oh, and I've just finished reading "Knit one, kill two" by Maggie Sefton. Purchased in Hatchards as a bit of a joke after a colleague told me they had knitting crime books in there. And, incidentally, a fantastic bookshop for loads of other things too. They had a really good range of knitting books in the craft section, including this:

"Knitting socks with handpainted yarn". Another fab book which I'd been keen to get my hands on as soon as it got this side of the Atlantic.

But, anyway, back to murder. I enjoyed "Knit one, kill two". It was the enjoyable easy read I thought it would be (perfect reading for when I was recuperating from a stomach bug last week). It follows Kelly, who has returned to the area after her aunt has been murdered, and who tracks down the killer with the help of some friends she makes at the local yarn shop. Of course, there are the coincidences and bits that don't quite seem real (how come everyone has SO much free time to spend drinking coffee in the yarn shop?!) but it is reasonably convincing as a murder mystery. Plus the descriptions of yarn and knitting are amazing. You can almost imagine being in the shop...

I've already promised to lend it to two people.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chocolate, a book, some knitting

I finished reading "The road home" by Rose Tremain for reading group. Links to a review in the Guardian, LibraryThing and the Orange Prize website (it won this last year). I was a bit disappointed with it, I think because I'd been expecting great things from Tremain and I don't think it was up to that level. The story follows Lev, from an unidentified Eastern European country, who comes to London to find work and send money back home to his mother and daughter after his wife dies. At first he is totally disorientated in the city, has to sleep rough and his first "job" involves delivering leaflets for £5 a day. But he finds his feet, improves (dramatically!) his circumstances and eventually returns home. Some parts seemed very authentic - the descriptions of London during a hot summer's day, the treatment of immigrants, the confusion that is London if you don't know it, are a few examples, but Lev seemed unrealistically lucky. He definitely fell on his feet, in what seemed an unlikely way. I'm not sure that it is a story of a typical immigrant's stay in the UK, although I'm not sure if there's such a thing as a "typical immigrant" anyway! It was very readable though it's not the sort of book I'd end up staying up all night just to finish, but reading it wasn't a chore.

Last weekend I went to stay with a friend near Solihull, which included a trip to Cadbury World! Alarmingly, the website says "where chocolate comes to life", which I'm not sure is a good thing. Is chocolate meant to be alive, rather than in my tummy? Anyway, as you can see from the pic at the top, you can write your name in chocolate, and go to something called "Essence" where they show you how Dairy Milk is made, and you then get to choose some sweets and have melted Dairy Milk squirted on top:

Mine were liquorice allsorts.

Cadbury World was fun (if stuffed full of small children who were all on sugar highs and looked like they were about to be sick). I think I was attempting to be too academic about it all - I'd have liked to have much more to read about the history side of it in the Bourneville Experience section, rather than just a game about designing your own town. Wikipedia has more about it.

On the Sunday we went for a walk at Baddesley Clinton, a medieval moated manor house with beautiful gardens, dating from the 15th century:

Knitting news:

The bits of Suri are now all knitted. I just need to block (where?) and sew the seams up. So it'll be a while yet before completion.

I gave up on the Herringbone socks after the third frogging, and have switched to No Purl Monkeys instead. I'm loving the way the colours work out in the pattern.

I've also been playing around with the sidebar of my blog and re-organised some of the gadgets. I hope you like my interactive sheep too - if you pat it it baas!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


After much cogitation I decided to "do" Love Life Live Lent this year. I considered giving up chocolate, but decided (charitably) that this would be unfair on my work colleagues, who would have to work alongside me in a chocolate-deprived state for several weeks. Last year's carbon fast attempt was fairly disastrous - I ended up having so many accommodation problems in Windsor that I went away every weekend and drove between 200 and 500 miles every weekend for the whole of Lent! Oops.

So Love Life Live Lent seems much more do-able. I've also signed up for the daily updates on Twitter, which are a good reminder...

So far, I've successfully accomplished:
  • Give up your place in a queue to someone else. (I let cars in ahead of me at various Slough junctions. This is causing pandemonium - Slough drivers aren't used to people being nice).
  • Say something nice about someone behind their back. (This was quite easy as everyone is so flipping nice at work that we don't go in for being bitchy).
  • Say a prayer for someone who is unwell or is in need. (In theory easy, but I did try to spend a bit more time actually doing it).
  • Give a homemade gift to a loved one. Easy peasy for a knitter. I posted off a dishcloth for the Happiness Swop on a Ravelry forum for Christians with depression.
but have had a few problems with:
  • Skip a meal and give the money to a charity working overseas. a. I'm skinny. I don't DO skipping meals b. My daily food budget is £4, which is going to make a massive difference to some charity, hmm. I decided to eat the meal as normal but donate a bit more than normal to charity this week .
  • Take things to a charity shop, recycle or Freecycle. I have piles of stuff waiting to be sorted (a large wodge of clothing, and there are currently 3 computers sitting in my living room waiting for files to be transferred before I recycle/Freecycle 2 of them), I just haven't had time to sort them yet...
  • Have a TV-free evening and do something with your household instead. TV-free evening = easy. Spend evening with my household? Less easy. My household is me. So I thought I'd write this blog post instead and then read my book ("The Road Home" by Rose Tremain).