Friday, 17 October 2014

A little bit of internet love: Part IV

I am slowly starting to return to 'normal'. or rather creating a new normal for me. It involves all sorts of strange things, mostly working too late too often, taking a lot of baths and bringing the gerbilarium into the bedroom with me so the guys can keep me company.

One thing I have been woefully behind on is catching up with blogs and finding out what's going on in my internet world. People don't realise how intensive it is, this blog reading malarkey, you've got to invest some time if you're going to keep up with everything.

After having a good read the other day and starting to make a dent in my to be read list I figured it was probably time for a little round up of the posts I have enjoyed lately.

Rachael wrote a very interesting post covering some misconceptions about expat life. I guess it's easy to forget that when people move abroad, they're not just going for an extended holiday, they're going to live life and all that that means in a different place.

Miss Pond went on a Birmingham AdventureBirmingham isn't a million miles away from me and I'm heading there in November with some friends, I've already requested we go to the place that sells gin in a watering can. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a gimmick.

So the calendar flipped to October and the weather flicked a switch and became Autumn over night. Prattle & Froth's 15 Reasons to Love Autumn made me feel happy inside.

Vivtramp's How to be a good friend to someone with an illness is definitely one to keep bookmarked just in case. It's always a minefield when something life-changing happens to someone and far too often people get so freaked out about doing the wrong thing that they don't do anything.

I caught 19 times Carrie Bradshaw was an impossibly awful human doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter a while ago and it absolutely made me howl. I feel as if I've been the only person talking about this sometimes. She was awful!

It couldn't be internet love without a cat video. You. Are. Welcome.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Photo an Hour l 11th October 2014

It feels as if this month's Photo an Hour post has come around incredibly quickly, but I think that's just a result of the past month being kind of mental for me and that I've only just got around to posting September's Photo an Hour post.

Pop over to Is That You Darling to see others' posts and to find out the date of the next Photo an Hour day which will be in November and you can join in on Twitter and Instagram using #photoanhour

This was Saturday 11th October 2014...

9am - Woke up with raging hangover from a fairly decent session on the Friday night. Lily didn't mind my probably outrageous breath and sat beside me hoping for toast.

10am - Went to my brother & sister-in-law's house for the morning and played with some brilliant sticky mosaic tiles that were supposedly something my 4 year old niece was supposed to be doing. It was so massively therapeutic I can't even tell you.

11am - One finished creation!

12pm - This is Lucinda, my brother's cat. She has the loudest miaow and purr ever. She comes storming in, yelling her head off and isn't fussed at all about who gives her attention. She's so loving and I want to just pick her up and smoosh her forever.

1pm - My niece was going out in the afternoon for a party so put her party frock on. I need shoes like this. I also need to start wearing hot pink tights with silver sparkly shoes. It's a winner.

2pm - All of us played a very confusing game of Kerplunk! in which the kids seemed to think that when the marbles dropped that meant you won. It actually worked quite well because it meant that I was happy that I didn't have to do badly on purpose to let them win (my most hated part of playing with kids because I'm such a sore loser) and they had a brilliant time every time they did it wrong.

3pm - Back in Hull and a quick trip into town with Mumsie

4pm - The Grand Return of the Missing Bag. The previous day I had gone to Waterstones and bought some lovely things. Mum was looking after the bag and left it on the bus. She was absolutely devastated so I had to play things down but there was a fairly large part of me that wanted to throw myself on the ground and scream. On the way back from town on Saturday we stopped in at lost property to check and it had been handed in. Hurrah!

Kind of. Turned out my "Good Samaritan" had taken some stuff out of the bag and left the books in there. Ah well. Can't get too mad about it...

5pm - Got back home for a cup of tea and a muffin. It was needed. With a hangover like mine on this day it's a wonder I even got this far through the day without collapsing.

6pm - Lily gets down to the important business of foot washing and nail biting.

7pm - Starting to sit down for dinner. Salad + garlic bread + steak + onion rings - the way to make me a very happy person.

8pm - Mum and I were still sat round the table talking when I glanced over and spotted this super creepy Lily sitting and waiting to see if we were finished so she could try and attack our plates.

9pm - Sat down with super cool lounge pants and thick socks and cider and promptly fell asleep in front of Midsomer Murders. Form an orderly queue gentleman...


I feel terrible that Fred didn't even get a look in on these photos so here's a bonus Fred picture...

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Unstoppable hooking

I really am terrible for going back on my word.

After being absolutely adamant that I wasn't going to make any more amigurumi stuff for people I ended up with an ask to make not one, but 4 things.

It's mainly because I'm not good at saying "No" and I wasn't so much asked if I could make them, but rather told "I have some orders for you"

Something for me to work on.

Anyway I got down to business and rather than resenting the work that I had on I went on it like a crazy woman and before I knew it, in a relatively short space of time, I had one zebra, one dinosaur, one pony and one cow.

But things didn't stop there.

I just started crocheting for not particular reason at all.

I had no home for these things. I had no need to do them. I just wanted to do them and I simply couldn't stop.

Before I knew it I had a little girl...

And for some reason when everyone picks her up the first thing they do is look under her dress. And no she doesn't have knickers on. That makes you the perv for checking, not her for not having them.

I made a dinosaur for absolutely no reason...

And if you call it Barney I will punch you in the face. She is very definitely a hot pink colour and not purple. And also Barney was a T-Rex and this is clearly a Triceratops. Know. Your. Dinosaurs.

And then my thoughts turned to Christmas. I worried that I would get requests to make things for Christmas and would get myself in a little stress so decided that I would head people off at the pass and very firmly say "No."

Given my track record for saying "No"  I decided that I might try and head people off at the pass and say "Hey, look, I have these things for sale for Christmas, would you like to buy one?" and with that in mind dug through my file for a suitable pattern, deciding that these Father Christmases would be perfect.

I figured I'll make as many as I make and when there are no more, there are no more.

I also got overly excited about the latest issue of Simply Crochet which has a Christmas decoration pattern book in it and immediately started hooking with wild abandon.

The below snowflake took about 30 minutes to stitch up and with a little steam blocking and a spray of starch looks fantastic. It is big for a Christmas decoration (I made it with DK yarn and a 4mm hook) so I'm thinking I might make a few and make a garland of some description, or dig out some lighter weight yarn and experiment with some different hook sizes.

I don't like the snowflake on the left. Sorry mate, you suck and now are in the bin. Goodbye.

But the little candy sweets I can't get enough of. Lucy pointed out that they reminded her of Campinos - I can't believe I hadn't thought of that before! They are deliciously quick to make up and I now have quite a few hanging about - I'm currently experimenting with turning them into a garland as well.

And the pipe cleaners are on order to make the candy canes also featured in Simply Crochet...

I feel as if I might have a busy few months ahead of me...

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

2 weeks

It started with a sty.

I think my body eventually gave up and last Monday I went to bed with a slightly sore eye and woke up on Tuesday with a swollen eye, looking like I'd been punched in the face.

The sty had spoken. It was time to take a break.

I think I have a great work ethic, I'm happy to keep working and keep going through anything. I may have a little cry along the way, but I don't give up. I worked all the way through my sciatica and all the way through the break up and I didn't stop. 

The sty was a sign to stop. 

So I stopped. I called in sick. Real sick. As in, please don't contact me, I'm sick. (Although I did actually end up having to dash into work to get my laptop to do some work. It's just...what it is!) 

Although I had the sty I was actually starting to feel better than I had in what felt like forever. Maybe it was the result of finally writing down and publishing what had happened to me and getting confirmation from other people that I wasn't mad, that it was an awful thing. You are all responsible for that, and making me feel like I'm not a complete nitwit for not realising that my boyfriend wanted to leave me. 

Not just feel better, but starting to feel. That was a big step forward because I was really not feeling anything for quite a long time there.

But the sty was forcing me to take some time off and I decided I was going to use that time productively. That meant sitting down and finishing my book first (priorities people) and then Getting Sorted.

Getting Sorted came in the guise of cleaning, rearranging, sorting, and throwing away.

I cleaned out all the kitchen cupboards. Threw out everything that was past its sell by date. Moved things around. Started putting stuff in a bag to give to charity. That bag swelled to two bags. I hoovered. I started to fill the drawers that he left empty. I started to fill the wardrobe space that he left empty. I carved out niches for myself in the places that were once his. I sat down and looked at my finances. I gathered up all the rest of this stuff that he didn't take when he moved out, ready to be put in a box to be sent to him.

I started to get clear. Mentally and physically. Excising a beast. 

By the end of the day I was starting to feel much better and was gladdened when I realised that I was hungry. A small thing, but from the day he left my appetite has been MIA and that is not something that ever happens to me. No matter what the drama, I can keep putting food in my body. Turns out that heartbreak is the only thing that stops me. Since he left I have singlehandedly kept the grain industry afloat as any meal that I have eaten has consisted of toast. I had cheese on toast a couple of times until the cheese ran out and I couldn't be bothered to go out and get more. I went for two days without drinking tea because I couldn't be bothered to go out and get milk. I'd tell you how much weight I've lost but hilariously the scales were his so I don't have those now.

Feeling hungry felt good. It was an excellent sign and although I wasn't up to cooking I was up for more than toast. I was reaching for the culinary heights of a jacket potato with tuna mayo and salad. As I chopped my salad I felt pleased with myself, things were good, things were moving along.

And then I noticed the time. 

6.30pm on Tuesday.

This time 2 weeks ago he was walking out of the door.

I stopped and I sat on the kitchen floor. 

I replayed it over and over in my head and I realised that I still can't think about it properly. When I imagine it, it feels like it is happening to someone else. I feel as if I'm watching a play where the lead actress happens to look a lot like me. I still don't have any feelings when I think about him leaving. I don't know if I ever will. I think it is my brain's protectionism kicking in. I don't think it wants me to remember it. When it happened I was beyond calm. I didn't rant and rave and I didn't really cry until well after he left. Maybe my brain decided at that point to switch off - that the resultant flood of emotions would be too much to deal with so it was best to not deal with them at all.

It's incredibly difficult to describe - it's not that I can't remember it happening. I remember it all in great detail. I just don't feel like it happened to me.

Maybe it will always be like that.

Eventually I picked myself up off the floor and went back to chopping my salad. I didn't want to eat again but I was going to make myself get on with it because I had to. Because the world keeps revolving, even if you don't want it to. Because I had had a good day and had made strides to move forward with my life.

Because soon a Tuesday at 6.30pm will just be a Tuesday at 6.30pm.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Photo an Hour l 13th September 2014

I've been unsure how to proceed with blogging at the moment. I have such a massive backlog of things that I wanted to blog about but after recent events it has thrown me slightly. Everything that I wanted to blog about involves him in some  way and there's a part of me that just wants to forget about everything that has anything to do with him.

But at the same time they are my memories too and even if they are painful, this blog has been used as a vessel to document my life for better or worse.

I've had this post saved in my drafts for some time. I was really excited when the Is That You Darling Photo an Hour challenge for September landed on one of the days that I was at my Dad's house in France. I dutifully took my photos and as soon as I was back I got them all lined up ready to post. Unfortunately the next day he left me and then....well....the rest is history.

But fuck it. This was my holiday - so what if during the taking of these photos I was blissfully unaware that my boyfriend already had a flat lined up for him to move into and had his furniture from Argos on standby? At the time I was blissfully unaware and I can't let hindsight ruin everything I have done.

And so. This was Saturday 13th September 2014...

9am - The view out of the window of the attic room we were staying in at Dad's house. 

10am - Jean-Louis is the farmer who lives opposite Dad. This is his tractor. The view, the view belongs to everyone.

11am - Took the dogs, Max and Shadow, for a little pootle about the roads, stopping to take photos of road signs along the way...

12pm - Relaxing was the order of the day. Dad had asked if we wanted to do a lot of activities and I declined. I needed to just chill out and take advantage of the glorious sunshine, reading my book and drinking cherry juice.

1pm - Lunchtime. Crunchy bread with ham and massive slices of cheese. Perfection.

2pm - Unending, glorious sunshine. I couldn't get enough of it.

3pm - Took a walk down the road from Dad's house to a little graveyard a couple of minutes down the road. I was particularly taken with the simplicity of this marker. What an incredibly peaceful place for your final resting place.

4pm - The nearby Sarrans Dam is currently being drained by EDF for maintenance work to take place. It's almost impossible to imagine but the water is normally up to the treeline. Mind boggling. If you take a look at page 2 of this brochure you can see what it normally looks like...

5pm - Following on from the trip to the Sarrans Dam we took Max and Shadow for a walk along the river. Max, in true Golden Retriever style loves swimming. Unfortunately he threw himself in a particularly deep part of the lake and shortly after this photo was taken I had to almost jump in to haul him out.

6pm - Chopping up green beans for dinner

7pm - Dinner, featuring the world's strongest mustard known to man.

8pm - Time to take a million pictures of the sun setting. No matter how hard I try, I'll never be able to take a picture of a sunset which is as beautiful as the real thing.

9pm - In an attempt to sample an authentic part of French life we decided to be cultural and go to a local music night in the next village along featuring some local choirs. In hindsight this turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes we've ever made. It was outrageously dull and incomprehensibly long and seriously not a single person speaks English and my French GCSE is but a distant memory. But, hey, at least I can say I did it.

10pm - Singing. Singing and singing and singing

11pm - Interval time. Note the time. 11pm. And this was the interval. We didn't get home until after midnight, and never have I been more relieved to crawl into bed.


Next Photo an Hour is set for Saturday October 11th - people join in via Twitter or Instagram using #photoanhour.

I should warn you, this date I will be back at my Mum's so there are basically going to be a lot of photos of Fred & Lily...

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The red stuff

I have probably harped on about this before but I think it is something that is worth a little mention every now and again, just in a vain attempt to put something in someone's brain.

This is a post about giving blood and how awesome it is, and how important it is and how I genuinely find it difficult to accept people's totally lame excuses for not doing it.

I first went to give blood when I was at uni in Manchester. And I couldn't even tell you why I went. There was a drop in centre in town and I just decided to go along, mainly because I was feeling nosy about what blood type I was.

My first donation did not go well. The blood basically just stopped coming out of my veins. I was asked to clench and unclench my fist, I thought happy thoughts, I did everything but my body gave up half a pint and then decided that was it. I was told that it was probably enough for them to run their tests and type my blood and I should come again next time and just see what happened.

I've never looked back.

I've had a couple of breaks - one when I was on Warfarin for my embolism - but I've mostly kept up a steady appearance meaning that today I donated my 19th pint of blood.

(I did think about waiting until I'd donated my 20th pint for this post but I just couldn't wait that long I'm afraid.)

Once I was settled in Tiny Town I got myself set up again to start going regularly and decided to take selfies each time I donated to document my little journey. I was so mad that I never thought of doing it before, how flippin' cool would it be to have a whole lifetime of giving blood selfies?

Really cool is the answer.


I find it really sad that when I go I am quite often one of the youngest people there in whatever local sports hall I'm attending. The majority of people there to donate seem to be in the 40s-50s bracket and I very very rarely see someone who looks like they could be 17, the age at which are you are allowed to donate. 

When I talk about it at work and ask if other people donate the answer is always a resounding no and when I ask people why I'm greeted by a wall of awkward silence. 

The awkward silence is there because there just aren't many good reasons for not giving blood. I feel like I am, on the whole, a fairly reasonable person. But this is a subject that makes me absolutely lose my mind, because I just simply cannot understand why, if you are fit and healthy and don't have a complete massive phobia of needles, you don't donate.

It takes so little time. It is virtually painless (I'm not going to say totally painless because, you know, it's a needle in your arm) and you are saving lives. Seriously. You are saving lives. Every time you donate a pint of blood that is used to save a life - it either goes to help someone who is near death, or a small percentage may go to a lab for scientists to undertake tests which help further research, which, guess what? Saves lives.

Why on earth would you turn down the opportunity to feel that good?

We're not talking about running into burning buildings to save children. This doesn't endanger your life at all and you can feel so so good about yourself.

It is even more important to give blood because there are so many people who can't. Seriously the restrictions are hefty. They have to be when you're putting blood in other peoples' bodies I guess. The CJD crisis saw more restrictions put in place which means that now, every time blood is used to save someone's life, that means there is one more person who isn't able to donate. 

Kind of ironic really.

I know that you're busy and I know that you have other things that you could do with your time. I know that you think that loads of people give blood so what does it matter if you don't. I know that it seems like a hassle to make the effort to ring up to make an appointment. I know that it feels a bit icky and gross to be in a room full of people who are having blood taken out of them.

But you still have to do it.


Because you are actually saving lives. People would die if there wasn't blood there for them. You know Heather? She wouldn't be here if people didn't donate blood. She lost so much blood when she was having Tiny Tin Bird that she had to have a transfusion. My Mum wouldn't be alive either. She lost so much blood during her radical hysterectomy that she had to have a transfusion. If people didn't go and give blood that's just two people who simply would not be here.

Stop and think about that for just a second. Just one, small second.

And then tell me how you can have any excuse not to go?

(Also you get free biscuits when you go. You have to sit down and eat biscuits before they'll allow you to leave. I mean, why would you not go?)


For more information on Giving Blood, including the ability to make appointments online as well as more amazing stories about the lives that have been saved, you just need to click here.

Here's an idea - Find out where your next and nearest session is and take some people with you? Get together in a little group - take a mate, take a couple of mates, get your work colleagues together and go and donate and then go out for dinner afterwards (although no alcohol, yeah?) . What better excuse to have a massive burger/pizza/curry/[insert favourite food] than that you've just given blood and need to "keep your blood sugar up."?