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Feeling grateful

18 Jan

I cannot believe how amazing it feels to take regular exercise. That might sound like a dumb thing to say, but it’s so easy not to do it, to find excuses to sit on your arse.

Six months ago I suffered an appendicitis infection, and because my symptoms were atypical the hospital refused to take me seriously. They kept trying to send me home.

If I’d done as I was told by the doctors who misdiagnosed me – who basically made me feel like an inconvenience for daring to insist I was ill – my appendix would have burst and there is a significant chance I could have died. It was a very, very frightening experience.

When I was in hospital I noticed something I had never noticed before. Nearly every patient I saw in hospital for treatment was overweight. It shocked me to my core.

It is true that if you are overweight or obese and take regular exercise, don’t smoke, eat your five a day and drink only in moderation, then you are no more likely to die early than anyone else. Studies have shown that, as long as you look after yourself, it doesn’t matter what size you are. And I honestly believe that if you are happy with your body, whatever shape and size it is, then that is all that matters. Live your life on your terms. I am NOT judging you.

BUT, for every one of the the above ‘healthy’ behaviours you don’t do, your risk of an early death increases substantially. I felt like I was being given a warning and I listened.

So after I came out of hospital I started to look after myself much, much better. I didn’t want to ever set foot in that place ever again.

Over the last six months I have, first recovered from my operation, which took about a month, and then gradually worked on improving my overall health. I have stopped drinking Diet Coke and cut way back on junk food. I have increased the amount of fruit and veg I eat, I have cut down on booze, I have started walking everywhere instead of getting the bus, and I have slowly built up the amount of swimming I do (my favourite exercise). I haven’t done anything extreme, like decided I can’t eat carbs, or cake, or drink wine, or dieted, or worn myself out with too much exercise. I have just been a lot kinder to my body, and it has paid me back, by doing things I never thought it could do.

This week I swam three and a half miles crawl, across three separate swims. My longest swim of the three, the longest I have ever done, was 1.6 miles/ 2.6km, which took me 1 hr 2 minutes, and 104 lengths crawl of our pool. Afterwards I felt absolutely fine. Not even tired. I only stopped because I didn’t want to miss my daughter’s bed time. I reckon I could have done another mile easily.

Today I went for a walk with some good friends, whose oldest daughter is best friends with mine. As six year olds are wont to do, they had a tiff, and I needed to help them to make up, but they were about 200 yards apart. So I took hold of my daughter’s soft little hand, and helped her run to her friend. I ran the whole way. And I didn’t get out of breath – not even a little bit. I just ran, like it was the most normal thing in the world. It took no effort. I felt like I could run forever.

The human body is such an amazing thing. To go from suffering a life-threatening condition to being able to swim a mile or run without even feeling it, in such a short space of time is incredible. I feel so grateful for that horrible, agonising infection, and for that terrifying stay in hospital.

If you are someone who doesn’t feel great about their body, please just try looking after it better. How you feel matters so much more than how you look.

New year, new rules, and thanks

13 Jan

I’ve been away from this blog for a year. I didn’t exactly give up. Life just got in the way.

But tonight I logged in again. A friend had suggested I review some kits from my old muckers at The Makery and I realised I actually wanted to.

I checked my stats with trepidation, thinking “well, no one can be reading it now”. Turns out you still are. So thank you for coming back for more, even when there was no more to be had. Maybe I’ll review those kits after all (if they’ll still have me!).

Anyway, while I’m here, I want to tell you about my new year’s resolution.

No diets (fuck the diets), no giving up wine/ chocolate/ cheese/ meat, no taking up running (my heart is willing, my pieced-back-together knees aren’t). I’m still doing the yoga, but that’s a pleasure, not a punishment.

So, something else.

2014 is my year to give. My new job means I now walk past a Big Issue seller every day I go to work. Often I find them intimidating, or strange. But it’s easy to judge people you don’t know. Decide who deserves help (or more usually, doesn’t).

Time to start giving back. So I’m buying the Big Issue every week, and making sure they keep the change. I’m giving more to charity – chances are, if you put an envelope through my door this year asking for money you will receive it.

And I want to be kinder. Gentler. Help people more. Funny thing is, when you help people it makes you feel good. It really is win-win.

You’ll still find me knitting here, and sewing, and crochet, and quilting. I’m not stopping that. But I want to give more. I hope you can join me.

Have a very happy new year.

19 Jul

I have seen this yarn. And it ROCKS. Get your pre-orders in!

J&S Blog

Today we’re launching Shetland Heritage yarn, the newest addition to the collection.

Shetland Heritage yarn recreates the original characteristics of handspun ‘wursit’ used in old Fair Isle garments. The yarn is replicated from that found in knitted Fair Isle garments in the collection of Shetland Museum and Archives.

Wool experts, specialist dyers, curators and knitters have worked together to develop and trial Shetland Heritage yarn, which is worsted spun from Jamieson & Smith’s combed tops to give a soft feel, and a smooth finish. The yarn is slightly finer than the four ply we use today to knit stranded colourwork and Fair Isle. Instead, it gives a definition and complexity of colour and pattern that goes right back to the nineteenth century.

Shetland Heritage Yarn is part of a collaborative project between Shetland Amenity Trust, Shetland Museum and Archives, Curtis Wool Direct and Jamieson & Smith (Shetland Wool Brokers)…

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Happy birthday dad!

24 Feb

It’s my dad’s 65th birthday today. We’re seeing him tomorrow, so I have to keep his present under wraps til then, but yes, I have been making something for him….

I love secret projects.

In the meantime, a few pictures. My dad rocks. Happy birthday dad! (And yes, that is a proper CBE. Like I said…)



ROYAL Investiture 3

Make your own seed bombs DIY

5 Feb

This is completely amazing, and will definitely feature in my home-made pressies this year!

Pepperbox Couture

Remember the last garden post I did with that ‘nifty thrifty trick’ for saving seeds?

Well as luck would have it, Mademoiselle Chaos over at blogspot has developed a seed bomb tutorial that would work perfectly with that seed saving tip!!

This is a clever and cute way to save and store seeds and they would also make perfect gifts, or to keep for your own garden.

Also, if your interested in the concept of guerrilla gardening this tutorial is for you. Click on her name in green above to be redirected to her blog.

I will definitely look into making some for my own garden next summer.

(main picture is from Mademoiselles tutorial)


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Normal service will resume shortly – Flt Lt Jon Egging

20 Aug

I try to keep this blog as a little corner of the world that is just about knitting, and gardening, and cooking, and sewing and my little crafty domestic life. So much of the planet is a pretty rough place, and there’s plenty enough about that for people to read  elsewhere.

So I apologise in advance for going off topic, and also if this seems a little trite, compared to ‘the big picture’, but to hear about the death of Red Arrows pilot Red Four Flt Lt Jon Egging today was somehow particularly shocking,

When I was a kid growing up in Cirencester we often saw the Red Arrows fly.

They were based a few miles away at RAF Kemble and practised regularly over the town. No matter how many times we spotted them, and it was many, we would stop in our tracks and stand transfixed, face to the sky. My abiding memory is of standing in the playground at lunchtimes, fastened to the spot by the incredible aerobatics above.

We knew one of the Red Arrows pilots a little bit, for a little while – his daughter went to a local school and my parents were friendly with him. I remember him just ‘having a go’ on my favourite computer game, which he’d never played before, and getting the highest score I’d ever seen.  He – and the rest of those pilots – were superhuman to us kids.

In the summer it felt like they flew every weekend, trailing coloured smoke and dancing through the stratosphere. They were simply awe inspiring. We had heard stories of pilots dying (there were a few over the years), but that seemed like something impossible when you saw those red flashes in the summer sun.

The whole town was sad when they moved away to RAF Scampton in the mid-80s, and I was just crazy thrilled when one of the Red Arrows from the Bristol Balloon Fiesta display flew low over our house last weekend, so close (and so loud), crimson against the sky.

So RIP sir. I never knew you, and yet, in a small way, you were a little part of me.

Normal service will resume shortly: the London riots

8 Aug

Before you label the London looters as ‘mindless thugs’ remember that they didn’t get the chances you did, or had the parents you had, or probably ever felt safe walking down their own street.
Imagine what it’s like to grow up bombarded by a mainstream culture obsessed with wealth, where the only rich people you know are criminals. Are you so sure you’d be strong enough to rise above that, living in a borough where there is only 1 job for every 54 people applying for it?

I met kids like this when I worked in newspapers. The world they live in brutalises them before they even make it to their local under-funded, under-subscribed, failing school.
The London looters are freaking scary, and shouldn’t go unpunished, but they don’t just pop up as fully formed ‘mindless thugs’.

They are grown that way.