Thursday, September 25, 2014

An exciting event

On Saturday I headed into London for the Alzheimer's Research UK Supporters' Day, a long-awaited event gathering together people from across the UK. I was really excited as I would be meeting up with fellow Champions and many other people who I've read about but never met.

There are usually lots of photos aren't there, but this time I did something silly and forgot my camera; or rather I thought (remember I said "thought" for later!) and my phone is so old it doesn't have that facility. So I have been reliant upon photos from others.

Stupid Susie!

The event was held at the Wellcome Collection which is a good 30 minute walk from the railway station and so I didn't have time to dawdle and take photos anyway.

As I walked into the reception area I met up with 2 fellow Champions, Dione and Fred, who I haven't seen for a while so there was plenty of catching up to do over coffee and biscuits. Viv and I bumped into oneanother on our way back from the toilet and she did a quick selfie of us:


The venue has a fabulous theatre with a stage and excellent acoustics and was the perfect place for the event. There were over 100 supporters there including Champions Chris and his wife and Sarah who I sat next to and Vicki and Pat who I caught up with later in the day -Vicki and I caused a blockage in the toilets by starting to chat in there and plotting/exchanging notes whilst people tried to squeeze past to use the facilities (sorry about that!).

It was an interesting programme of events, introduced by Tim (excellent work btw Tim!) and there were breaks for Q&A sessions along the way. The yellow dot on my name tag signifies the group I was in when we split up to exchange ideas for fund-raising which is always a useful session. I was impressed by how we all have our own unique ways of getting our message across.



Here we have, from left to right, Ian Wilson (Director of Fund-raising), Hilary Evans (Director of External Affairs) and Dr Eric Karran (Director of Research). They each set out their vision for the future and I was really excited to hear them speak.



The ARUK team had been very busy to ensure that everything went smoothly and it certainly did. There were lots of familiar faces but also plenty of new people to meet and chat with (here they are interspersed with a few Champions).


There was a surprise speaker at the end of the day, Russell Grant, seen here with Vicki and Pat - I'd left by then as I had a long journey home. Russell's nanny Alice suffered from Alzheimer's and he wrote passionately about it here. It's wonderful that he took the time to pop along to the event.


Remember I said I'd forgotten my camera? Well there I was, happily knitting pocket linings, on the train   home when the phone rang and in rummaging for it within my bag I felt a lump in the outside compartment. Can you guess what it was? Yes, it was the camera. I'd put it an the outer zip-up bit of the handbag for ease of access. I use that bag so infrequently that I obviously didn't check it very well did I!!!!

At least I was able to take a photo of my knitting on the train!
I really enjoyed my journey home as several people chatted to me about my knitting. A young couple sat at the same table as me and they were interested in what I was doing (pocket linings for Mikes cardigan) and we had a long chat about how knitting has become fashionable again. I realised that I had been knitting for about 52 years, oh my goodness! 

When they got off at their stop a man took their seat and he expressed an interest in learning to knit so I gave him the details of a knit and natter group I know of near where he lives. It would be a good one for him to join as they have several male knitters already and he wouldn't feel awkward with a room full of just women.

Finally, a young girl sitting on the opposite side of the train came over and asked to see what I was doing so I showed her some basics and let her have a go at casting on and knitting a few rows. It's always nice to encourage people to just have a go as I think that starting anything new can sometimes feel intimidating and having someone to guide you along is always nice. It certainly helped the train journey go quickly.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bits and bobs

It's all a bit of a mish-mash here at the moment.

I have something to share about a dementia research project I've been involved with for many years now - but I can't yet as the Press release hasn't gone out. Very frustrating!

There's running (as always), knitting (Mike's cardigan continues apace), crochet (endless rounds on the latest chair back), gardening (there is soooooo much to do before the garden goes to sleep for the winter), planning/fund-raising for ARUK, jamming (blackberries, plums, crabapples, damsons) and then there are all the everyday things.

The photos today are random and mostly unrelated; just things that have caught my eye recently.

I took this photo early in the morning before anyone was out and about. It was the day before a Triathlon was held there. This involves 3 different disciplines - swimming, cycling and running. When I thought about it I really wouldn't fancy the swimming part as you have to swim in the moat (yuk!) which is full of enormous carp! The next day I saw lots of people riding in the cycling part in the next village so I gave them all a shout of encouragement as I ran along.

Bodiam Castle from the front

Early one morning the mist was hanging in the valley when I glanced over at the castle

Sunday Sunrise - I was out early doing a 20 mile run

I love running down this footpath. It's like being part of a Tolkien adventure

It's that time of year again when I take endless photographs of fungi!

One of my favourites, the Shaggy Inkcap aka Lawyer's Wig and Shaggy Mane. It starts off as a white cone then changes to a black-rimmed parasol shape that bleeds a black ink.
This process is called deliquescence which just means that when it is exposed to the air it absorbs large quantities of water and forms a solution.

The morning light shining through this Miscanthus looked amazing

One morning Mrs New Duck surprised us with 3 new babies. They are so late in the season that we were worried they'd survive as she's lost 2 broods already this year

I love the way she's standing guard. Sadly there are only 2 left as the smallest one didn't survive. The other 2 are growing apace though. Note the mucky running shoes drying out on the table - I have to put them up there or else the ducklings scrabble around in them!
The garden spiders are busy spinning their webs. I love their markings

She struck lucky when she caught this grasshopper for  lunch

This web in a Rosemary bush looked so beautiful with droplets of dew early in the morning.

I think this is one of many varieties of Bee-Fly on a Buddleia bush. I loved its transparent wings.

 A honey bee drinking in the nectar from this Sedum

The most glorious sunset the other evening after a unseasonably hot day
I've just remembered that I've signed up to do the Kaffe Fassett KAL over on Ravelry too. That starts on 1st October so I need to pull my finger out and finish Mike's cardigan beforehand!

The yarn used is Rowan Pure Wool Worsted but I'm trying to be a good girl and using Rowan Summer Tweed from my stash as I am indeed part of the SABLE club - stash amassed beyond life expectancy!!!

There are 4 different colour ways to choose from but I'm doing my own thing based loosely on the pastel colour way. So there has been much rummaging and playing around with colours until I found the right shades.

Here are some of them:





Sunday, September 7, 2014

AAA Days

That would be me feeling Aged, Arthritic & Asthmatic! I really do not like triple A days and I wish they'd go away soon please.

Not a happy girl at the moment as my running is a bit of a battle between my will and my body. To take my mind off my poor running abilities I've been taking even more photos than usual. On my long run last week, 16.25 miles of cross-country, I thought about light and lines so the photos I'm sharing reflect those 2 themes.

An arc of light highlighting an archway
Pools of light peep through the barer branches
I love the way the branches form a tunnel on this downward section (that's never good as it means I'll have to come back up it on the way back home!)
I always enjoy this wooded pathway as it means I'm only 1 mile from home! The reason I've included this tree stump is because last winter the tree, a Sweet Chestnut, came down in the storms leaving this huge stump behind. Now it's resprouting. Clever old Nature!
This is what it looked like earlier this year 
I loved the light and shade on this old tree stump covered in moss
Looking down into a fast-flowing stream as it approached a weir and loving the movement of the grass
On the other side of the weir the patterns in the water were beautiful
I took this on my way out for my run which took me down into the valley and up the other side, way beyond the trees on the hill in the distance (it's always scary to see how far I've got to run!)
Taken at the point I was aiming for in the previous photo but this time I'm looking back towards home which is beyond that big clump of trees middle-left
The stripes of this apple orchard looked so perfect
These apple trees are completely different as the apples are for cider and so they aren't pruned in the same way.  When I first started to run off-road marathons, my first being Beachy Head which is HILLY, I asked permission from the owner to run up and down the lines of trees as practice and he agreed - there are 43 rows and it was jolly tough!
A juvenile planting of grape vines. It will be a few years before they are productive.
Rows of sweetcorn standing tall
Cobs ripening
Row after row of Hop bines. This area was mostly owned by Guinness, our land included, and hops were the main crop. The local steam railways still holds 'Hoppers weekends' each year for people who used to take their holidays here to pick the crop to come and reminisce
Close-up of the beautiful hops
On my way home I took a little detour around beautiful Bodiam Castle where the ducks were all sunning themselves
I was struck by the patterns on the top of this wall
Oh those beautiful reflections in the moat, along the side! The entrance to the castle doesn't catch the sun but early on Spring mornings, especially when it's misty,  you'll find a whole load of photographers trying to get that perfect shot of this view when the sun rises.

Now these photos were all from last Sunday when I really did have a tough run. Today I ran 19 miles, and hilly ones at that, without any problems. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Crochet, cats and courgettes (with a bit of knitting thrown in for good measure)

First we have the basis of the crocheted side panels for my next chair-back drape.

I've used the triangle motifs from the 2013 crochet club and jiggled them around to suit. The one at the top of the photo has been blocked and you can see the difference blocking makes when you look at the bottom one which is all wavy and out of shape. They are actually the same size but the camera angle makes the bottom one look bigger.


Now I've got to devise something to make them the same size as the centre motif and I'm thinking of using flower squares and some zig-zag strips. I'm still playing around with ideas on that though.

I was quite excited the other day when the post arrived with a large packet all the way from Japan.


It contained this beautiful magazine, Keitodama, for whom I did an interview a few months ago.


The interview was about how I've used my crafting to draw attention to the need for more funding into dementia research and I was delighted that they'd included a photo of my mum as well as she's the reason I do all this. Unlike UK magazines, it is read from the back to front which was interesting.



Kitty bits


Now for some kitty cats. First we have our beautiful lady, Tilly, enjoying a morning nap in the sun - I love the way she's roughed up all the cushions around her before settling down. 



She's a real sweetheart but is still not confident enough to go outside, which leads onto this little fellow who's been pottering around in the garden for a few weeks. I was outside doing some tidying in the front borders when I heard a rustling and out popped Simba, from down the lane. He's twice the size of our little lady and has massive claws!

When I stopped for a cuppa he followed me into the gazebo for some fuss.


Then he tried to get more attention by rolling around and looking cute.



I miss having a feline friend helping me in the garden and I can't wait for Tilly to find her inner lion and come outside with me.

As for the courgettes, we have sooooooo many. I only ever grow one plant because we can barely keep up with their abundant crops and there's only so many we can eat before we get bored of them. 


We both prefer the yellow variety so I always choose that and it grows quite happily on the compost heap. See that great big one underneath? That was pencil thin and only 6cm long on Wednesday last week.


By the time I picked it yesterday it was 30cm long! I fancied making some courgette fritters so I thought I'd share my recipe here.


Spicy Courgette Fritters


Ingredients:


1 large or 2-3 smaller courgettes
1 green or red chilli (leave out of you don't like the heat!)
1 medium sized onion
Coriander or parsley leaves to taste (fresh leaves are always better than dried). I use about 2 tablespoons
Salt and black pepper to taste
About 150g Gram flour (I've tried making them with self-raising and plain flour but prefer gram flour as I think it suits the spices I use better than the other flours)
Spices: I use a mix of spices such as ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, amchur and fenugreek but you could use a couple of teaspoons of Garam Masala or even just one spice of your choice instead
2 eggs and a few tablespoons of milk to make the batter
Oil for frying


Method:


Grate the courgette onto a tea towel using the coarse side of the grater. There's no need to peel the courgette.

A tea towel? Yes, because you need to wring out the excess moisture from the courgettes and this is by far the easiest way of doing it - I've tried blotting with paper towels and weighting it down in a colander but this is by far the quickest. 

Now wrap the tea towel around the grated courgette and form a sausage shape so it looks like a Christmas cracker and squeeze it over the sink. You'll be amazed at the amount of liquid that comes out! The tea towel will retain lots of courgette bits so you need to shake it around outside afterwards to get rid of them. Put the grated courgette into a bowl.


Chop the onion really fine, or grate it if you prefer, and add it to the courgette together with the chopped chilli, coriander (or parsley) salt and pepper then sprinkle on your chosen spices and give it a good mix around - I use 2 forks.


Make the batter by beating the eggs and milk together then add the gram flour until you have a firmish batter. It looks a bit like custard! 


Then add the courgette mixture and give it another good stir so everything has a good coating of batter.

To cook, you just shallow fry them in hot oil in batches. Put 2 heaped tablespoonsful of the mixture into the hot pan and squash flat with a spatula. I can get 4 decent sized fritters into my pan. I don't eat much fried food and so I use as little oil as possible as you can see. 

Cook until the bottom is nicely browned then flip it over and do the other side.



You can serve them warm or cold and I like to serve them with mango chutney and a few salad leaves. When hot the batter is really light and crispy. When cold they are great finger food for picnics.

Knitting snippet


Mike needs a new cardigan and after much searching has settled on this pattern I've ripped from a magazine.


I showed him lots of yarns and he was quite restrained in his choice, eschewing the expensive yarns I showed him and settling for this dark green shade of Stylecraft Life chunky.


I've just done a gauge swatch using 6mm needles as specified but its way too big, 2cms each way, even though my tension isn't loose. I'll try another swatch using 5mm needles as I felt that it was too floppy a fabric anyway on the larger needles.