Where did that week go

Ugh, it seems like it’s been ages since I did any blogging. How did life get so busy?! I think it may have something to do with spending a lot of time in either the gym or the theatre. It’s an odd mix but I’ve always been fairly contradictory so that seems kind of fitting actually!

The gym is starting to feel normal and, for the most part, less intimidating. It’s usually nice and empty first thing in the morning but it was busier today. I like it better when it’s quiet. There were two other ladies skipping this morning, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one but annoying when they take up all the space. Hopefully the weather will improve soon and I can go outside a bit more. It’s flooded again here today though, so that seems like wishful thinking! Training 8-9 times a week is starting to feel pretty good too. I’m tired, but not as much as I thought I would be. And it’s starting to work, I can see slight differences in my figure.

Last weekend, I went to the theatre with Ellie again, three times in four weeks! It was fun, this time we saw Emil and the Detectives at the National. It was lovely! Much shorter and lighter than all the Shakespeare of late. I do enjoy Shakespeare now (never thought I’d be typing that!) but it was good to see something kind of fluffy. It’s the story of a young boy from the country who goes to visit his family in Berlin and has his money stolen on the way. The choreography of it was really clever – a medium sized ensemble cast making use of a big stage. The only slight hiccup was when one of the moving pieces of the set got stuck and the stage manager had to stop the performance while they fixed it. I was really impressed at how effortlessly the cast picked up where they left off, they didn’t seem fazed by it at all, I would have been a bit twitchy, I think!

Ellie likes to run and agreed to let me gatecrash her running club on Saturday morning. I was a bit wary at first because I haven’t been running in about 12 years! Actually, I really enjoyed it. The group was really well-organised, the lady in charge kept a good eye on everyone and we were all about the same level. Greenwich Park is a really nice environment to run in, especially in the sunshine! It’s been raining a lot since then, but I really hope to get out and about again soon. I don’t know if it’ll become a regular thing, but it’s definitely not off the radar anymore.

I’ve done some more baking and fobbed the results off on other people. Green and Blacks chocolate cherry brownies are absolutely divine. I made a batch of these with gluten free flour to take to Ellie for letting me stay at her house again. So tasty but so fattening. My mind is still in swimwear mode so it’s best to feed my baking to other people! If I can fatten up those around me, I might look a bit thinner…!

My new thing to learn how to do for February is fudge. I love fudge but haven’t managed to make it successfully before. So I found a recipe and I’m going to have a go at the weekend. I think it might need several attempts to get it right, the people at work are usually an appreciative audience for my culinary activities so I think they might enjoy this month! I’m also taking some to my spa buddy. Slightly underhand tactic to fatten her up perhaps but there’s not much of her to start with.

What else is there? I’ve booked a ticket for the Valentine’s Day premiere thingy of Only Lovers Left Alive at the British Film Institute on the South Bank in London. Having seen some of the promotional material online, I am very excited, it looks really good. Not sure if it’ll be shown at my local cinema so I want to see it when I have the chance. I don’t normally even acknowledge V-day. As a single person, it seems like everyone is out to rub your face in it, and as part of a couple, everyone wants to take all your money. I can’t really be bothered with any of it!

There’s some good NTLive stuff at the moment, I went to watch Coriolanus at the local arts centre. Although I’ve seen it live already, watching it on screen gives better views – the nuances of the performances and costumes are much bigger and closer. There’s just so much more detail. It was every bit as intense as watching it live, and I almost cried at the end, which was really unexpected as I don’t normally cry at things. I’m almost tempted to go back again and watch the encore… This week’s outing is to see Noel Coward’s Private Lives. I don’t know anything about it but Noel Coward was a good writer and it’s been successful in the West End so it should be good. Anna Chancellor and Toby Stephens sound like a winning combination.

Tonight, I’m treating myself to a sports massage – as I’ve upped my training so much over the last couple of weeks, I think it’ll be good to unknot some of my muscles. It’s been ages since I had a massage, I’m really looking forward to it. Just hope I can get there, the river is so high, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more flooding. Hurry up spring!!

Knitting has kind of fallen by the wayside lately. I haven’t been on Ravelry for ages, and the ravellenics start this week. I did manage to wind the yarn for my peacock shawl, so I should be able to get started on that, just need to find the time to get caught up on the forums. I separated the sleeves off on my cardigan, the stitch count was still really off but the article fits and I can fudge the rest! I did manage to get some done whilst watching a DVD on Sunday night. Even though I don’t dislike my job, Sunday evenings can be a bit of a drag. And as it was my rest day, I needed some entertainment. Roberta is an earlyish Fred and Ginger movie. It’s not heavy on plot and the dance routines are just delightful. Fred Astaire wasn’t a particularly attractive-looking man but the way he moves with Ginger Rogers just makes me melt. I read somewhere that they just missed out on making it in colour. There’s a fashion show at the end which would have really benefitted from being in glorious technicolour.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=UnUfY-URXzA

It’s beautiful anyway and made me wonder whether I could fit in a dance class or two as well. I’m out every night this week though, so I’m not sure how feasible that is. Something to ponder though…

Edited to add that despite following the instructions in WordPress support, I cannot embed the video. Colour me frustrated!

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Still busy!

After last week’s frantic dashing about, I had a quiet weekend planned. Saturday was to be my rest day – no alarm clock and no trips to the gym. I know it’s important to build in rest days but I was quite twitchy by the afternoon. Although that could have been due to the rude awakening from the building manager who was frantically ringing my doorbell at 8.30am to tell me that he could see my laundry from the window and that wasn’t allowed. After which, I was too annoyed to go back to sleep. I live in a top floor flat overlooking a graveyard, I hardly think the inhabitants are going to be offended by the sight of a clothes airer with a t-shirt on it! So I can only assume he’s being an officious old goat. I’ve since moved my laundry and spent a lot of the weekend wondering why he couldn’t just have put a note through my letter box.

 

Needing to get out of the house, I walked into town to have a mooch around the shops. I’ve had so few free weekends since I moved here that I don’t really know my local area particularly well. But I needed some new sportswear as I’m in the gym so much, so that was my mission for Saturday. Normally when I go shopping with a plan, I don’t find anything in my size (regardless of what size I happen to be) but I got uncharacteristically lucky this weekend and came home with a new pair of leggings, a top, two sports bras and a really lovely pair of brown cowboy boots. The boots aren’t for the gym but I’ve had my eye out for some for a while and they were £20 instead of £70 in the sale and I couldn’t resist.

 

I also bought myself a skipping rope. Having been farting about on the internet, I read about some of the benefits of jumping rope and it being a quick, high-intensity full body workout which tones everything and helps with balance and co-ordination. I need all of those things, so it seemed a good idea to have a go. However, the last time I attempted to skip, was pre-puberty so I’ve also had to invest in some industrial-strength sports bras! There’s not room in my flat to skip (and probably a stupid rule against it!) so I had planned to go down to the park, where I could try out the technique and nobody would see if I messed up. Unfortunately it rained sideways all day on Sunday so outdoor workouts were just not an option. My kettlebell teacher gave me an abs circuit to try and I managed to have a go at that at home, although some of the instructions aren’t that clear so I may have done some of it wrong – I’ll check with her when I see her later. Despite doing loads of housework stuff and the circuit, I was still itching to get to try out my new toy. So I braved the rain and headed out to the gym, which was busier than I expected for a Sunday afternoon. I did a warm up on the rowing machine and a little bit on the recumbent bike (might try that for HIIT sometime…) before heading up to the weights room. I’m still a bit intimidated by this room because some of the people who use it are rather prone to gawping. I hate people staring at me, and I get worried that I’m going to mess up and look stupid, (something which I think stems from being bullied for my clumsiness as a small child), but thankfully it was fine. Unsurprisingly, I have a lot of work to do on my skipping technique, and I can see my belly wobbling (yuck!) when I jump, but nobody in the room appeared to be paying any attention at all and I was able to relax enough to spend my time in there productively. This was really heartening as I’ve heard a few horror stories about unpleasant comments in gyms. This one seems pretty relaxed, which is exactly what I need. What I also need is to start seeing results, and rather pleasingly, I fit into my smallest jeans yesterday and looked presentable, my arms are starting to look a little bit toned and I can see my abs a little bit from all the sit ups. So the bikini might not be so horrific after all.

 

Yesterday afternoon, I tried out a new recipe – peanut butter and chocolate blondies. They’re like brownies but pale rather than chocolatey. I sampled one and it turned out pretty well, but I can’t trust myself with cakes around the house so I’ll take them into work. It’s my friend Sally’s birthday this week and I’m going to see Ellie again at the weekend, so I’ve got more baking to do yet. Ellie is allergic to nuts, so I’m going to have to deep clean the kitchen before I make cakes for her.  I love to bake, so it’s all worth it.

 

This week, I have some Dutch academics at work. They seem pleasant enough but they don’t have indoor voices, so when they talk to each other, it’s quite loud. I’m out at the country house tomorrow, so it’ll be very quiet in comparison. I’m kind of glad about that.

 

Tonight, I hope to separate off the sleeves for my Dark and Stormy. They should have the correct number of stitches now, and the shorter rows should mean I progress a bit quicker. I had a little rummage in my stash for yarn for the peacock shawl I’m planning for the ravellenics – 300g of Wollmeise lacegarn. It’s beautiful but too much for my ball winder so I’m winding it by hand. Slow!! It will all be worth it in the end, I hope.

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Sad stories of the death of kings

I’m writing this in a rather sleepy state, having been to see Richard II at the Barbican last night and had a 5am start in order to travel back out into the country to get to work on time this morning, so please forgive any greater incoherency than usual.

 

Ellie sent me a message on Wednesday saying she’d got lucky with tickets for Thursday night. I was not going to pass up the opportunity to go and see David Tennant strutting his stuff as the skipping king, so I managed to rearrange my work in order to scoot into central London on the train. Other than a rather surreal run-in with a very cheerful drug dealer, it was a pleasantly uneventful journey – I love to people watch on the tube but there are some very strange people on public transport, and a lot of them seem to want to talk to me!

 

This is the third Shakespeare tragedy I’ve seen this month – Coriolanus, King Lear and now Richard II – it’s an amazing time for British actors doing Shakespeare at the moment. I would love to see Jude Law in Henry V to complete the set but I don’t think I can make that happen in time.  Each of the plays I’ve seen boasted a fantastic cast and interesting interpretations of the original. I am fairly new to Shakespeare, having been thoroughly discouraged by it at school, so it’s all quite eye-opening for me.  Having said that, I am a big fan of medieval history so Richard II ticks boxes for me anyway. There’s a discussion to be had about Shakespearean interpretations of medieval history to be had but I am just too tired for that at the moment. Having watched (and loved) The Hollow Crown on television a couple of years ago, I’d been mesmerised by Ben Whishaw as Richard II and Rory Kinnear as Bolingbroke.  The tension between them was palpable, even on a small screen, so I had high hopes for a live version with a number of extremely well-established actors in the cast. David Tennant was far and away the star of the show, eclipsing his co-stars with a beguiling mix of regal menace and slight campness. The original king Richard II was known for being flamboyant and impetuous, and David Tennant’s incarnation reflected this. His physicality was in complete contrast to the rest of the actors, he’s tall, lithe and dances through his scenes with an almost feline grace, whilst the others seemed much bigger and slower by comparison. His costumes were very impressive too, beautifully opulent embroidered gowns which literally outshone everyone else on stage. His counterpart Bolingbroke was played by David Troughton (whose son Sam had been in King Lear last week), who was suitably big, rough and northern. His performance was very good but he was more shouty than I was hoping for. It’s easy, I think, to oversimplify Bolingbroke as little more than a power-hungry brute, almost to deny his humanity. Yes, he was ambitious; and yes, he deposed the monarch, but the light and shadow of his personality was very much muted in this performance. Which was a shame as David Troughton has been very good in other things I’ve seen. The rest of the cast were all excellent but were simply outshone by David Tennant, whose stage presence was just incredible.

 

Ellie and I are going to the theatre again on Friday next week. Back to the National to watch Emil and the Detectives. I’m looking forward to that, and I think it will be a little lighter on our brains after hours of heavy Shakespeare.  It will also be nice not to have to get up so early to travel back to work. I am really feeling my early start today and am hoping I feel human again in time for kettlebells this evening.  At least I won’t have to get up early tomorrow!

 

This afternoon I have to find something to entertain a volunteer at work. Kevin is from Manchester and reminds me slightly of John Simm. Normally he works in the garden but asked me if I could find him something to do indoors for half a day, because he’d like to work in a library some day. I hope he won’t be too bored with re-wrapping files of correspondence!

 

I’ve got an almost overwhelming urge to bake at the moment. Unfortunately, baking is not conducive to fitting into my bikini, so I fob my culinary efforts off on other people. I made oat and raisin cookies to take to the theatre with Ellie, they came out pretty well, although I might try to flatten them out a bit next time as they were kind of cakey. Or use plain flour. A little bit of cinnamon would have been nice too. Next week, I think I’ll make chocolate cherry brownies, which are almost obscenely good. I might take some to work too as everyone there is usually willing to assist with eating cakes!

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Up and down and round and round

I am flagging a bit today and the weekend seems quite a long way away at the moment. After a really long day on Monday, and a day of heavyish concentrating yesterday, I’d quite like a little rest. This weekend coming, I have no commitments so I am bookmarking it as a weekend just for me, so I can get a bit of a grip on things like housework and knitting. And take the hoover to my spinning…!

 

Yesterday, I had my first committee meeting at work and was tasked with taking the minutes. I’ve not really had to do this before and was really glad that it was a small group who spoke relatively slowly! I wasn’t allowed to go to meetings in my old job and on the rare occasions I was in attendance, would get sent out to make the tea or to make loads of photocopies of something spurious that nobody would ever look at again. So being able to attend a whole meeting and be able to contribute to something relevant to my job was a new experience, and a pleasant one.  Working where I do is quite isolating and it is good to meet others who work in similar environments. Building up these contacts is important but it’s quite hard to know where to start sometimes, especially as I’d been so excluded from everything where I was before.

 

Yesterday, I also decided to wear a new dress. It was a Christmas present to myself, and I’d been eyeing it for months before buying it. I wore it at the weekend when I went to see King Lear but this was the first time I’ve worn it to work. It felt good. I really love full-skirted dresses and this one reminds me of one worn by Ginger Rogers in Swing Time. Fred and Ginger movies are a Christmas tradition in my family and watching it again this time was enough of a push to buy the new dress. It’s modest enough for work and comfortable too, so I think I’ll wear it quite a bit.

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I’ve got a petticoat to go under it, but there’s a loose thread I still haven’t got around to fixing. Might manage that this weekend… 

 

My friend who has just started kettlercise messaged me yesterday afternoon suggesting a sit-up challenge. Since I’m already training 9 times a week, I declined and then had a bit of a wibble. She’s one of my oldest friends and our lives have been intrinsically linked since we were babies, but yesterday I got a bit resentful. She’s tiny and thin already, unlike me, and she has the kind of body which will tone up in a flash. It’s petty and selfish, I know but I didn’t want her doing a load of sit ups because she’ll make me look even more like a hippo  standing next to her than I already do. I’m working so hard on making my body look and feel remotely presentable that I just didn’t think I could handle her turning up with her tiny everything and sporting a 6-pack. Realistically, I know I’m being silly, and it bothered me a lot more than it should.  I really want to look and feel good in what I’ve bought, and not feel like it’s all been for nothing as once again I am the fat one, despite all my efforts. So now I feel bad for feeling resentful towards my friend and for not being happy in my own skin. I can’t win!

 

Anyway, I treated myself to an early night last night and felt a bit better this morning. I tried using the bike for HIIT this morning but it didn’t feel as effective as the cross trainer so I’ll probably go back to that tomorrow morning.  I’ve also just had a text from Ellie offering a chance to go and see Richard II at the Barbican, really hope I can make that work.  They are some of the hottest tickets in town and it would be amazing to be able to see David Tennant in action.

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Busy busy busy!

I still haven’t managed to fix the spinning, as I’ve been off having fun instead. There’s still one more thing to try to get the end of the thread to come loose and that’s to run the hoover over it. I’m a bit apprehensive to do that but nothing else has worked and I don’t know how to get the yarn off the bobbin without an end or without completely butchering it (whimper!).

Anyway, yes, fun. After kettlebells on Friday night, I had a good, long chat on the phone with my friend Kay. I haven’t seen her for a while, she’s a good giggle and we had plenty to talk about. I meant to bake some cakes after we had chatted but the washing up took longer than I thought and I had to wait until the morning. I made two lemon drizzle cakes – one for my parents (as I’ve been in and out of their house and borrowing my mum’s oyster card a lot), and one for my friend Ellie, who was my culture buddy this weekend. I dropped my car and one cake with my parents and headed off to Piccadilly, where we went for dinner in a place called Zedels. I had no idea it was there – it looks really unassuming from the outside but opens out downstairs into a stunning room full of gold leaf and marble. The food was fantastic and very reasonable for central London. I had beef bourguignon, which was delicious. The puddings looked really good too but I have to think about the bikini, so didn’t indulge in dessert this time. Next time though, tarte au poivres is going to be mine!

Once we’d eaten, we made our way back to the Southbank and into the National Theatre to watch King Lear. Clutching our £12 tickets, we followed the crowds down into the auditorium to our seats. I knew we were fairly close to the front but I wasn’t expecting to be quite this close. Our seats were either side of a walkway onto the stage, so we were practically part of the performance at times. What we saw was a preview, but it was so slick, I can hardly believe the cast had only been performing it in front of an audience for just a few days. The atmosphere in the theatre was electric, made even more so because it was a completely full house. Simon Russell Beale in the title role was simply magnificent and the rest of the cast were every bit as good, with strong performances from everyone (including quite a few familiar faces). The costumes were fantastic, ultra modern, and giving a vaguely Eastern European flavour to an essentially timeless play. It wouldn’t be a Shakespeare tragedy if there wasn’t something of a body count and this was no exception. The violence and death was really gruesome in places, and that’s when I wished to be slightly further away from the action. The scene where Gloucester’s eyes are gouged out was bloody, brutal and really quite disgusting. I think the whole audience was flinching! I am so glad to have seen the show though, and it was a real treat to have done so well with the seats. Ellie and I are going to see Emil and the Detectives in a couple of weeks, and I’m really looking forward to that too. It should hopefully be a bit less gory than King Lear!!

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The rest of the weekend was spent being rather lazy and trying to resist eating lemon drizzle cake. I stayed with Ellie and her husband overnight and into Sunday afternoon before heading home via my parents’ house, which they’re preparing to decorate so it was a bit chaotic. Home for tea and a chat with Kat in Finland and then it was time to get ready for another working week.

I got up early this morning to go to the gym. As usual, I was a bit later than planned but HIIT on the cross trainer speeds things up quite a lot as I can be through the gym and showered in about half an hour. My legs were aching a bit too this afternoon, which means it’s working. Today, I also had a bit of a chat (slightly awkward because we were naked but still, a chat) with one of the other ladies who goes to the gym in the morning. I’ve seen her quite a few times and always been a little bit intimidated – she looks like a proper gym-goer, wears quite skimpy exercise wear and trains really, really hard. I still feel a bit of a fraud going to the gym and am not particularly happy about getting changed in front of other people (logically, I know it doesn’t really matter, but I don’t feel that comfortable about getting naked in front of people), but this morning our paths crossed in the changing rooms and we chatted a little bit. She’s very nice and not as intimidating as I first thought. It’s a nice feeling to see familiar faces and have someone to say hello to, particularly as I’m still fairly new here.

I tried the new smoothie recipe, with a few alterations and a bit of guesswork in terms of measurements and it turned out really quite nice. It’s very grapefruity, which came as a bit of a shock to my tastebuds – with everything else in it, I didn’t expect that one ingredient to be quite so strong – but with a little bit of agave nectar, it was tempered a bit. I’ve had one for breakfast this morning and it was pretty pleasant. I’ll probably make it again on occasions but it’s more expensive and fiddly than my normal one.

Today I’ve been at the country house again, the river is still high but the sun was shining off the frost this morning, very pretty. It’s still a struggle to get motivated to weed the boxes because I feel quite out of my depth, but I have to remember that I am qualified to do this and push on through, sometimes pragmatism is necessary even if it feels strange. I’ve been to kettlercise this evening but was too tired for knitting club as well, having been on the go for the last 13 hours, so I’ll do some knitting in bed (for some reason, pubs don’t like you wandering in in pyjamas…!). I got a text from a friend saying she’d been to her first kettlercise session this evening and thoroughly enjoyed it, which I’m glad to hear. She’s not long moved to a new area as well and has been looking at ways to meet people. Hopefully this should help.

Tomorrow, I have to take minutes for a meeting at work, I’m excited but a little apprehensive and going to treat myself to an early night in preparation.

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Argh!!

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I love spinning, really, I do. But I think my spinning is trying to tell me to have an early night. The end snapped and 20 minutes later, I still can’t find it. Definitely bedtime!

Edited this morning to add that if anyone has any ideas of what I can do to fix this mess, I’d really appreciate it!

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Wibble Wobble

I’m still feeling a bit angsty about things. It’ll pass soon enough and I’ll be glad when it’s gone. 

 

Last night, I bought a bikini, tried it on and felt fat and horrible. I mentioned before that I’ve lost quite a bit of weight over the last year or so, after being asked to be a bridesmaid for a friend, which was the push I needed to get organised about a lifestyle change rather than being unhappy in my own skin and trying to ignore it. I’m down two and a bit dress sizes and I do feel better. Most of the time. This week, with all the thoughts of spas and being seen in public wearing something skimpy, I’ve had a bit of a wibble. Looking in the mirror, I still look more like the before pictures than the afters on people who have lost a lot of weight, not a nice feeling at all. I guess the main thing to do is to go to the gym more, so I’m going to spend 20 minutes or so working up a sweat every morning before work. I’m also aware that I’ve been “treating” myself in terms of food lately – this was one of my big problems when I was bigger, I find spurious reasons to have little extras. Lots of them. So I will be working on dialling that back. I get lunch at work, mostly healthy, but I can definitely afford to skip pudding for a while!

 

There’s been a lot of talk at kettlebells about diet supplements and protein shakes. I’m vaguely curious about these but a little bit wary about them too. Given the choice, I’d rather eat the right foods, containing most of the supplement ingredients naturally, than take a load of pills and shakes. So I’ve been eating more eggs for protein and bought some green tea, which is supposed to help burn off fat. I have green smoothies for breakfast most days but I’ve found another recipe to try as an alternative or for an occasional boost.

 

I’m going to step away from the health and fitness corner of the internet now because everything I’m reading contradicts itself. The knitting corner is much easier to be in. I managed a couple of rows on my Dark and Stormy on Tuesday and am hoping for a couple more today. It’ll be quicker once I’ve separated off for the sleeves but I’m not sure I’ll be done in time for the Ravellenics. Speaking of which, I must add stash-diving for my Peacock Shawl yarn to the to-do list.

 

Trying to push towards being a bit happier. Yesterday was fairly productive at work.  I’ve got a meeting to go to next week and a report to write detailing my progress so far. In my previous job, I wasn’t allowed to go to meetings, so this is potentially quite interesting. I’m taking the minutes too, something I haven’t done much of before. Progress reports used to give me panic attacks in my old job but I’m doing ok with this one because I can see that I am actually making progress on this collection, and the work I’m doing here is appreciated more than in my old job. Nobody has asked me to make a pie chart yet either, something for which I am truly thankful! Reducing my work to a series of statistics is quite soul-destroying!

 

Last night, I went to the cinema to see American Hustle with a friend from work. This is the first chance I’ve had to use my Orange Wednesday thing, as I’ve mostly been to the cinema on my own since I moved here, so that was a little boost. The film was fantastic, extremely well made and full of plot twists which kept me guessing right until it all fell into place at the end. I won’t give anything away but it’s a really slick film with a fantastic cast. Christian Bale looks like a completely different person from his other work and I was really impressed with Amy Adams, who I’ve seen in a few things but not really put name and face together until now.

 

When I get home from kettlercise this evening, I have a little bit of time to myself. I said I would bake a cake to take to my parents at the weekend, I love baking but would be the size of a house if I ate everything I made, so this way I get the enjoyment of baking and other people will eat most of it for me.  I’ve also got a real urge to do some spinning. I bought my wheel last year – a Lendrum double treadle – she’s beautiful and spins like a dream; since I moved here, I haven’t managed to spin as much as I would like lately because life has got in the way. It’s good to be busy, but I’ve missed the calm feeling I get as I gently treadle my feet and tease the fleece through my fingers onto the bobbin. I actually still owe a couple of people Christmas presents of handspun from where I ran out of time last year. Think I’ll work on one of those this evening.

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