Saturday 30 November 2013

In the fridge

I've had a long day today at an excellent conference and have written five blog posts already today for my work blog. I also accidentally told somebody about this one - someone I had just met, and then worried she might find it. This is a bit of a sanctuary for me because only a few people I know in real life read it, and while I do realise that, yes, it is on the Internet, I would miss the voice I currently use if it became widely publicised and I had to start worrying about what different sets of people might think, which is what has happened to pretty much all my online spaces.

As an aside, I wonder if it would make a difference if lots of my real life acquaintances and friends were reading it, but I didn't know? That might be ok. I don't think I say anything especially incriminating.

Anyway, I digress. My point is, I am tired tonight and typing on the iPad is not my favourite thing, so I opened up blogger intending to publish a Portugal post, only I don't have one ready to go. Well, I do, but it's the last one, and there are two more to come before that. By this point I was already tucked up in bed with a cup of ginger hibiscus tea, it being the late hour of 9pm, and unable to rouse myself to go and take a picture of something to blog about. So, I was in a tight spot and went over to one of those BlogHer sites for a prompt. There is some weird shiz out there. I picked "Name five things inside your refrigerator right now and how you feel about them" because, well, why not? I love talking about food.

1. Spinach, in vast quantities. I get through about 2.3 bags a week with my breakfast smoothies so I always buy three and this has resulted in a back log. Luckily when cooked it shrinks to one fifteenth of its size and can be eaten very quickly, so it won't last long.

2. Salad. The bunny and I eat about five bags of mixed herb salad a week. We spoil him. There probably isn't any in there at the moment (I am still relaxing at Sib's pad in the Smoke) but it's part of my regular Asdal shopping order now. They usually bring it in two separate plastic bags.

3. Prosecco. There's always prosecco in my fridge, because you never know when there might be something to celebrate.

4. About 17 jars of almost-eaten pickled vegetables, mostly leftover from last Christmas. They don't look good and I am constantly wanting to throw them away, but Mr Z likes to keep them hanging around for some reason. 

5. Total 2% Greek yogurt. I was bereft when Asdal stopped stocking this. It is not as rich as the regular Total but much nicer than the 0%. Happily they brought it back. I don't buy it six tubs at a time as I used to (our apparently magic Smeg fridge keeps things fresh forever) since I am trying to be 85% paleo, but it is always there anyway.

Friday 29 November 2013

Fave Friday

I'm hanging out at my brother's flat in London tonight. He's away for the weekend so I'm all alone and enjoying the very simple favourite combo of
1. Indian food with no rice and extra tandoori breads, just as I like it.
2. A really cheesy chick flick (The Wedding Planner)
3. Being in somebody else's house, with no work, so there is no associated "Must clean, must mark, must do something useful instead of watch this cheesy film" guilt
4. A sense of accomplishment after a good day at work
5. A sense of anticipation ahead of a conference I've been looking forward to tomorrow.

The company of Mr Z would top this off, but he would object to the film. I can understand why. But, sometimes it has to be done.

Happy weekend, all!

Thursday 28 November 2013

Portugal: Elevador de Santa Justa

This was just round the corner from our hotel. It doesn't really lean - that's my dodgy camera work. It was a weird-looking thing that reminded Tutty and me of the Eiffel Tower and we had to have a rummage through the guide book to discover what it was, exactly.
Turns out it was designed by a student of Eiffel's, Raoul Mesnier du Pontard, and is one of several that were built around 1900. Lisbon has some horribly steep hills so they took to building lifts in the street to save people walking up them. Genius. I'm guessing it was so that people could get to this church more easily...

We had a free ticket to this included in (I think) our open-top bus tour ticket, and at least one of the days we were there was beautifully sunny and blue skied, so we queued up to partake of the views. It was very popular.

The views made it clear why. This is Rossio Square, which was the next square over from where our hotel was.

I make no apology for the number of pictures in this post.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Portugal: Oceanario

I was very excited when I heard there was an aquarium in Lisbon. It's right down on the riverside and appears to be built in the water, so you get a sense that perhaps the tanks are bottomless and the fish can just come and go as they please. Of course this isn't the case, but it's a nice fantasy.

The aquarium is part of a complex built for the World Expo in 1998. There are wide, tree lined boulevards, coffee shops, and about 17 million school children.

There are lots of separate habitats within the Oceanario, including the penguin habitat, where I spent a while photographing penguins being cute...

...and the otter habitat - otters being cute...

(At this point Tutty might have said, "I never thought of you as one for animals")

But they're so adorable!

The biggest and best part, though, is the main tank, which holds some 5 million litres of water. I spent as long as possible observing this one, particularly the rays. Of course, pictures are never going to do it justice, but I did my best. Blue is supposed to be a stress-relieving colour so let it wash over you.

Between this and Cabo da Boca, Lisbon has got to be a pretty calming place, all things considered.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Tuesday Ten

Ten Things I'm Thankful For

1. My health.

2. My fitness - I weigh a lot but I cope with it well thanks to keeping fit.

3. My job. I am quite lucky to have a job, especially one that I (mostly) love with colleagues that make my working day such a pleasure, and a supportive boss.

4. Mr Z, of course. I do think I would be a large puddle on the floor most of the time if it wasn't for his encouragement and support. Awww. Don't tell him I said that, though.

5. Boden. I am thankful that they make good quality, lasting clothes in a cut that is so suited to my body shape, even if sometimes I have to go back upstairs and change part of an outfit when I realise, yep, I'm wearing it head-to-toe again. This one also makes me thankful for my job, again, which funds the Boden habit.

6. My schooling. It led me to believe I could accomplish anything I want in life. This sometimes might make me a bit arrogant, but I often think that our most successful politicians and businesspersons have this attitude as well.

7. My parents. They taught me to travel, to eat adventurously, to keep trying, to be kind, good manners, Maths, some good listening skills and not to take things lying down.

8. That I am quite good with money. This is definitely not something I got from my parents, love 'em. It makes life easier now that I have learned it, though.

9. My quick wit. Even if I do say so myself.

10. As of today, my new cleaner. I finally recruited one - tick that off the goals list for this month. The bathroom is sparkling. I think she might actually have plumbed in new taps and fittings while we were out because I don't think the ones we had could ever have ended up so sparkling and clean. I can't wait for her to come back and get cracking on the kitchen.

List prompt from Carole - Happy Thanksgiving, Americans! Or as I like to call it, Thursday. If we celebrated Thanksgiving, I would be pretty thankful for a three day week; although we have a couple of non-teaching days this week for various events so that is almost as good.

Monday 25 November 2013

Weekend WIP

I know the definition of madness is supposed to be doing the same thing over and over again, but I do so love this Eowyn mitt pattern.

This pattern was in a free Rowan booklet that came with Simply Knitting many years ago and this is my 7th pair. They are to replace the 5th pair, which I knitted in Kid Classic and Kidsilk Haze, for a secret Santa, but then Mother Hand spied them and so she got them instead. Then she washed them in the machine. Now they are just about good for pot holders.

The yarn I used for those is long since discontinued in the colours she loved so much, of course, so I knitted her some sage green cabled flip top mitts for Christmas, but she was not especially grateful. Well....she was grateful, but when I told her I had a surprise gift for her for Mother's Day (her favourite perfume) she got all excited thinking her I had knitted her a new pair of these.

Then I saw some Rowan Alpaca Colour in the right sort of colours, so here they are. They are double stranded and worked on 7mm needles so they go very quickly - I did the first one in the space of one film.

Frustratingly, the colour repeat on the Alpaca is very long, so the second mitt is an entirely new shade of pink. I keep thinking I should rip it back, wind it off and start again; but I don't want to, and I'm not sure she'll notice or mind too much. I might, though.

I have adjusted the pattern and am knitting it in the round, using magic loop. I think when I knit the lacey cuff I will probably knit it on using the join I learned from Victorian Lace Today. I really hate sewing up.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Portugal: The Castle

The Castello de São Jorge towers over Lisbon on a vertiginous hill. The best way to reach it, we found, is on the rickety and famous tram number 28 from the square just over from where we were staying, which squeezes through impossibly narrow streets at a dizzying gradient. It was very rickety and difficult to get a good shot from the tram as it was moving, unfortunately, but there were times where I really could have shoplifted from places on the ride up.

There are a lot of cats at the castle. Clearly they are strays, but one gets the impression that they are looked after by the caretaker. They like to stalk the peacocks, unsuccessfully. I can't imagine they would know what to do with one should they ever catch it.

The castle is a ruin. Apparently it was restored to its Medieval glory in the 1930s.

The views are spectacular and there can be a lot of clambering and peering from the ramparts around the top.

Tutty and I split up to look around and I felt like I was in that scene in Labyrinth, chasing her around - she was constantly on an opposite rampart.

It was originally a Moorish castle, built as a stronghold against crusading armies, but was captured and became the residence of the Portuguese kings.

I spent quite a lot of time trying to capture a shot of this peacock with his tail open, as did a lot of others, but in the end Tutty was getting restless and I was getting annoyed with the woman making peacock noises at him to encourage him, so we left. I do love a good peacock.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Blogger's Block

I am at a loss. What should I write about today? I could look on the NaBloPoMo website for the prompt, or add pictures to one of the Portugal posts I still have waiting in the wings; but my computer is not switched on, and I'm tired, having spent today buying a bargainous Kenwood at the factory shop, walking in Royal Victoria country park, driving back to Bristol, growing in the awesome Salisbury Waitrose and watching Strictly and the 50th anniversary Dr Who. I only mention these things because some of them might appear in future posts. Particularly the Kenwood: that's going to be a big favourite.

Anyway. Here's a picture I took last year at the Christmas party. I think it is good advice on any day of the week, but especially today when I've got blogger's block.

Friday 22 November 2013

Fave Friday

SHAME. I forgot to post yesterday. In my defence, I had a record long work day and then drove to Southampton, where I spent the night with my aunt and uncle before a course today. I only remembered when I was in the pool after the course; no, it wasn't another Center Parcs course - I'm in Portsmouth with Mother Hand now.
And here I was, reading an old diary in bed and realised that I was about to miss Friday as well, which would make this officially the worst NaBloPoMo ever, but luckily I remembered. There are many possible favourites today: the meditative peace of swimming, watching the hovercraft go out, the PM show on Radio 4 (astonishingly funny today), reading old school reports...but I'll stick with this picture, I think.
People don't really know that Portsmouth is an island. You have to cross water to get to the city proper, albeit a puddle when the tide's out; but an island nevertheless. It's always nicest to drive in when the tide's in, because otherwise this stretch of land looks a bit rubbish and that's not a great first impression of the place.
There appears to be an amphibious landing craft on one edge now. It used to be a rusting boat hull. I took this picture from outside the Mountbatten Centre. In spite of growing up in this city I dont think I have ever observed this bridge, which I always associate with a sense of coming home, from this angle before.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

CPSH October: Favourites

Who could resist Emma's gorgeous puppy?

Something I made:
As I'm still attempting to be 85% paleo, Rachie's chocolate cake has me salivating every time I look at it.

Colour: Orange
Emma is truly a talented pumpkin carver....and clearly inspired by the puppy!

Motif: Cherries
Bit cheeky, picking my own, but have I mentioned how much I love my shower cap?

I loved Rachie's nest - cosy and stark at the same time.

We appear to be on something of a CPSH hiatus, which is sad. Maybe it will return again in the new year.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Tuesday Ten

CaroleKnits picked a knitted theme this week - Five Favourite Sweater Patterns and Five Favourite Yarns.


Araucania Azapa. Sadly discontinued. No matter that the yardage was short on the label - this is really lovely stuff.

Lorna's Laces Shepherd's Worsted. It's no surprise that this is on my list; I think I like Lion & Lamb more, but this is more versatile because it's superwash and not too warm to wear as a garment, which I think Lion & Lamb would be.

Patons Smoothie. I have a lot of this hanging around. I knitted a shrug from it once and it is warm without being stuffy. It's got excellent yardage and wears really well. 100% acrylic but totally non-squeaky. I think of this as acrylic done right - it's not trying to be wool.

Rowan Cocoon. Mmmmmmrph. It's so snug and cushy, I really love it. Having worked on this cardigan I fear I might be slightly allergic to mohair, though, because it kept making me sneeze. I don't want to think too much about that. Kidsilk doesn't make me sneeze. It might just be that it was a dusty day. Few days.

Knitwitches Silk Cashmere. Utter indulgence. I knitted a cowl out of this a few years ago and it is really warm, in spite of only being a 4 ply. I had intended to buy enough for a jumper and saved up, but that will have to be a dream for the future.

It was hard to narrow it down to five. I missed out King Cole Merino, my favourite workhorse yarn, and Lion & Lamb as I said, which might be my favourite yarn of all time, and Easyknits Deeply Wicked, which comes in such a beautiful range of colours.

Sweaters? Even harder. I haven't knitted a huge number, but here we go with the ones I like best - they're all Rav links.

Ingenue by Wendy Bernard. My newest sweater. Extremely wearable. Really quick to knit.

Garter Stitch pullover by Debbie Bliss. What I make for all babies. I used Rowan All Seasons Cotton because the yarn recommended for the pattern isn't machine washable. 

Shirley by Snowden Becker. My first top-down. Loved knitting with lace yarn, and because it's 100% silk it is super warm. I really must knit this again because I did make a few mistakes and the bind off is a bit tight, and the yarn is a bit too drapy really.

Ribbed Lace Corset by Annie Modesitt. This pattern was really what got me knitting properly. It was the second one I made (after the Central Park Hoody which was quite straightforward) and I wanted it so badly that I made myself learn the skills necessary, except for the crochet for the trim of course.

From This Day Forward by Ashley Knowlton. It was fun to knit and went quite quickly. I am still doing the equivalent of putting the book in the freezer with this cardigan because it's not going to turn out how I want it to, but that's not the fault of the pattern!

Love the topic this week!