Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Tuesday Ten

Carole asks for five best of the summer and five best coming up.

1. Crawled through the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam. Flipping terrifying: probably the closest to a panic attack I have ever got; made no better by the guide pointing out they were 40% bigger than they had been during the Vietnam war. Faced the fear, did it anyway.

2. Great 10th wedding anniversary with Mr Z in Italy. I really love this spot.


3. Stayed in the most luxurious hotel I have ever come across. That private pool. Those daily spa treatments, included in the price. That sunken bath. No, I won't stop going on about it for some time yet.

(Feeling very fortunate: it is hard to pick because there were so many good bits)

4. Drove a right hand drive on the wrong side of the road in France. Not as scary as I thought it was going to be.

5. My book finally got published. Copies were waiting for me when I got back from holiday. Really proud of myself, and overjoyed that the source I put in that was a quote from Nanny Hand made it through the editing. She is immortalised in print!

Five coming up...

1. I'll start my new exam job soon. Really excited to get started. I got my new teaching job six months to the day before I started and it felt like an interminable wait; I got the new exam job even earlier and we won't start until October at the earliest. Hurry up!

2. Bit of glamping with Jen and her family in Devizes over half term. I am going to bravely take her daughters out for the day to give her a bit of a break. Not alone, don't worry - I've roped in someone with mum experience.

3. Maybe a short trip somewhere at the end of the holiday. I keep thinking about Spain, and the Brecons. Very, very different.

4. Hauling out all of the warm, wintry clothes. I need a wardrobe overhaul now I am bussing it to work: more tights, more cardigans. Better get knitting (cardigans, not tights).

5. Is it too early to say Christmas? Get to spend it at home this year. I was thinking of heading to Vegas but maybe next year. I think I will need a rest.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Blue Monday

During our stay at the hotel with the private pool in Vietnam, there was one occasion  when it rained for a while, whilst still being sunny. I happened to be in the private pool at the time and it was quite a novelty to swim in the rain. That doesn't happen very often.

It made for some pretty pictures, though none of the stills quite catch the bubbles.



It even has the silhouette of a palm tree in it. What more could you ask for in a tropical paradise?

I muchly enjoyed looking back through these pictures on the 6.31 bus out of Kingswood this morning. Didn't feel sorry for myself AT. ALL. (By the way I do really love my new job. Just not 6.31 buses).

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Weekend FO

It feels great to finally finish something! 


Pattern: On the Spice Market by Melanie Berg
Yarn: Gradient kit, plus a skein of cashmere blend grey sock yarn, both from Moonlight Yarns. All bought at Wonderwool (tick another project off that yarn list)
Needle: 3mm
Mods: Unintentionally, I missed out the grey stripes between the colour changes in the first section. I am not fussed about this. I had plenty of yarn in the end.

I am very pleased with this. To begin with, I thought the grey was too dark to make the colours really pop, but I then considered what state a pale grey scarf might get into after a few weeks of hard wearing and being thrown into all kinds of bags with all kinds of other things. Dark grey was a good choice.

I also started to think I should have used a larger needle, since it was not especially big for a shawl; but the blocking has helped a lot with that (big surprise). The picture is of it hanging wet on the line - I will attempt to take a better picture when it is dry.

Now I just need to finish off the linen top I started way back in May and I can move on to chunky, warm, winter sweaters.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Tuesday Ten

Ten Swims of the Summer

1. Italy: Villa Scapone Pool


When Tutt and I stayed here two years ago, I don't think we went into the pool. What a mistake! It was very refreshing and had great views over the bay.

2. Italy: the Adriatic


I had a little swim off the dock while we waited for the kayak man to come back from his afternoon nap. Then Mr Z and I paddled over to the practically private beach for some more wading and general enjoying of the sea.

3. Vietnam: Halong Bay



I didn't jump off the boat, as I had intended. I didn't fancy it. But we did stop at a small beach as part of the trip around the floating village and I was able to have a good splash around.


4. Vietnam: Hoi An Hotel


We didn't know this place had a pool until we arrived and found that our room overlooked it. The only problem was that it warmed up a lot during the day, so it was not as refreshing by the afternoon as it might have been. 'Oh no, my pool is too warm' - this could be the original first world problem.

5, 6, 7 and 8. Vietnam: Fusion Maia Resort, Danang

This place was RIDICULOUS. Tutt found it via a luxury holiday website and, although the travel agent pulled a "How?!" face when we said we'd like it included, she managed to get us two nights there within our budget. How, I will never know.

There were four swim opportunities at the Fusion. First, the sea:


I had a good wade in the sea but didn't really go in. I was a bit put off. When I first approached it, I saw a dead fish had been washed up and was being eaten by birds. As I got closer, I realised they were not birds, but large, spidery crabs, which melted back into the surf as I approached. I decided to kick the fish back into the sea, to prevent any nasty surprises from anything else feeling peckish while I was nearby. This turned out to be a mistake: on my second kick, that dead fish bit me* really hard on the little toe. I was bleeding quite profusely for some time, it hurt a lot and my hypochondriac brain kicked in with fears of poison and so on (Tutt was as sympathetic as you might imagine). As a result, I was not tempted to swim in the South China Sea again; but as you'll see, I didn't need it anyway.

* clearly not actually a bite, but I don't really want to think about what else on a dead fish's face was able to puncture my toe so effectively.

Option two was the infinity pool that led down to the beach.


A trick of the light makes it look short. It was not. This pool was lush - the shallow end was shallow enough that you could loll about on your elbows and soak up the sun - but busy.

Option three was the private pool in our room (I told you this place was ridiculous).


I did spend a lot of time in the private pool.


Loving my GoPro a bit too much at this stage. 600 pictures and videos of pools later...

However, I think my favourite must have been secret option number four, which was in the spa. It had its own waterfall. Under-12s were not allowed. And it was entirely deserted. Result.



9. Singapore: Raffles Hotel

Another place our magician of a travel agent managed to squeeze in under our budget. A rooftop pool, here.


Slightly marred by the unsupervised children who arrived and started spitting water at each other; but I could only smile, remembering 10 minutes earlier when I had watched a dishevelled pigeon bathing in the shallow end.

10. France: campsite


Last but not least, the campsite we stayed at in Normandy had its own outdoor heated pool. This one was nice because it had a sort of ledge all the way around the edge, so even the deep end was not that deep at the edges. It was less nice because the water level was way down (end of season problems) and there was quite a lot of leaf matter in there. And children. But that's always going to be a public pool problem.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Blue Monday


This year, Mr Z and I returned to possibly my favourite hotel from the 2014 Italian adventure, and I took almost exactly the same picture as last time. The original still adorns my Facebook page. Full disclosure: this one has an Instagram filter on it. I love playing with those filters on anything blue.

Here I am practising my standing bow next to it -


I can confirm, having been back to yoga once since returning from my travels, that the practice did not help much.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Weekend WIP

In spite of this being the easiest knitting going and therefore perfect for bus journeys and best kept for a travelling project, I just can't put this shawl down.


It does help that I am attempting to catch up on Narcos so I can watch the second season with Mr Z, instead of after him. Lots of subtitles but I can cope just fine.

I am three coloured stripes off the undoubtedly interminable bind off finishing. On the plus side, the stripes get narrower by four rows each time. One the minus, they grow a little longer as I come to the end. That is the only problem with knitting shawls using this method.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Tuesday Ten

Carole and I are both back from our travels and this week she has prompted me to consider...

Ten things I miss about home when I'm away

1. The cat. She always plays up her minders if we're both away - when Mr Z and I were in Italy, she refused to come into the house from Wednesday onwards and Jo had to feed her al fresco. The tortoise ran away last year on Jo's watch she blames herself (I don't know why: that tortoise was Houdini incarnate) so she was a bit nervous. But Mitten did not run away. She waited until we got home and then yowled at us for the best part of an hour, in between hoovering up three packets of food. Little minx.

2. Mr Z. You'll have noticed I don't often take him away with me (at his request, it must be said). I missed him a lot while we were apart this year. Luckily everywhere had wifi. Even the taxis.

3. My home that is almost always the right temperature. It's always cool downstairs in the heat.

4. Being able to sleep with the window open, without any noise or worrying about the air conditioning.

5. Reliable wifi. I don't want to sound ungrateful because I'm almost always using free wifi when I'm away; but I am so used to Googling any little fact I can't instantly remember that it becomes irritating when I can't do this.

6. My routine, and the friends that fit into it. I miss seeing my friends for sushi, going to knitting group, catching up over coffee...

7. Having a wide variety of clothes to choose from. I try to pack light these days but then I end up terribly bored with all my clothes at the end of the fortnight.

8. Bacon and avocado sandwiches on those nice giraffe batons from Sainers. Nobody makes them like I do at home.

9. The tap. Weird, I know, but I never manage to drink enough when I'm on holiday, for some reason. When I can't just drink straight from the tap, it gets even worse. I think I was semi-dehydrated for my entire time in Vietnam.

10. The outdoor rocking chair I bought last year. I like to sit in it when I get home from somewhere feeling all hot and bothered, because it's in the shade from midday onwards.

Fun topic this week!

Also, this is my 1000th post on this iteration of this blog. Hurrah! In October it will be my 18th anniversary. Who knew I had so much to say?

Oh yes, just everyone who knows me, you're right.