Tuesday, 9 December 2014

How to make soup when you're sick

I am a snotfest.  This is not enjoyable.  Yesterday I slept all morning and surfaced requiring sustenance.  We have been struggling yet again with using all of our vegetables, so I decided that some Nourishing Soup was in order.  And at least some chilli was required for its decongestant properties.

Here are the things I put in it, in roughly the order and quantities I used:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 small onions, chopped into strips
8 inches of celery, chopped into strips
2 roasted red peppers from a jar, chopped into strips
half a head of cabbage, chopped into ribbons
4 heaping teaspoons of thai green curry paste
1 chicken stock cube, made up in 1.5 litres of boiling water
a third of a tin of coconut milk

And here's how I did it:
Sickness-specific preparations 1:  Haul a chair into the kitchen
Sickness-specific preparations 2:  Stuff nose with tissue
Step 1:  Chop  onions and celery, cook on a low heat with the oil
Feebleness-specific interlude 1:  Fail to open large jar of red peppers
Feebleness-specific interlude 2:  Boil kettle
Feebleness-specific interlude 3:  Pour boiling water over lid of jar
Feebleness-specific interlude 4:  Wrestle with jar and teatowel until openness is achieved
Step 2:  Fish two peppers out of jar and chop
Optional prequel to step 2:  Rinse some of the vinegar off the peppers.  I didn't bother as the mild tang works nicely enough in this soup
Step 3:  Add the peppers to the pan
Step 4: Chop the cabbage
Step 5:  Add cabbage to pan and let everything cook until fairly tender
Interlude of forgetfulness:  Realise that cabbage goes better in soup if it's not in really long ribbons and attempt to bash it with your spatula so that some of the long ones break up.  Fail
Step 6:  Use the remaining hot water from the Feebleness episode to make up a chicken stock cube.  Add stock to pan, pop the lid on and leave for 10 minutes to really soften the cabbage
Step 7:  Stir through coconut milk, faff about fetching a bowl and serve
Step 8:  Feel accomplished and like your efforts are doing you good.  Have another little sleep.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Advent post III


We only thrive in the light (which makes me think of this song, yes, I was that cheesy Christian teenager).  At this time of year it can be so dark.  We get up in the dark, like the Wife of Noble Character (when I much prefer the attitude of the psalmist), we leave work in the dark.  Darkness seems to  fill the time that is our own.


I abide in an abode.  This tickles me.  As does the picture above, whereby I am cheating and using a photograph someone else has taken.  I helped build the house though.  But to abide?  To abide is to stay, to endure.  Also to rest, to remain alongside.  There's a heavy peacefulness to it.



The things we notice.  The height of the water.  The stillness of the reflection.  The traffic in the background.  We once went to this park to find a thing and failed to notice it, even though it was in plain sight.  What are the things we don't notice?  Who are the people I don't notice?


I watched a number of things on Saturday.  I watched country music videos at the gym, I watched the clock in order to get out on time (and managed it), I watched (and joined in with) dancing and singing.  I took photographs, which takes quite a lot of watching.


Show up
These wee guys showed up in ourhouse this weekend.  They are on their way to show up too.  To show up for a saviour.  Who in turn is on his way.  To show up for us.  And we should show up.  Show up for those who ask.  Show up for those who don't.  For those who can't.  Show up just to be there.  Show up to do the thing that needs to be done.  Show up when it hurts.  Show up when it's easy and fun.  Show up when no-one believes you will.  Show up when someone believes no-one will.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Advent post II



Imagine what's over the horizon.  That's part of the hope of advent, isn't it?  Looking forward to something.  To the world being changed.  What might Mary and Joseph have been imagining would happen following the birth of their baby?  And did the events of his birth and the flight to Egypt blow their wildest imaginings right out of the water?

Monday, 1 December 2014

Advent with monks

This year I am trying a Thing.  A Thing that The Society of Saint John the Evangelist have come up with.  Like an advent calendar, only with fewer doors and markedly less chocolate.  Contemplative, like.  We'll see how this goes.


I do all my looking through glasses these days.  Makes for awkward photography, looking through droplets when I go out in the rain and nose scrinching to keep them up there.  But it keeps things from being fuzzy.  And getting your lenses right, so that things aren't fuzzy is important at this time of year.  Keeping things in focus and with the correct perspective, that sort of thing.


I think Christmas is a time when a lot of people remember loved ones.  The first Christmas without someone is one of those significant firsts that you can't really avoid.  So I remember my grandma as she prepares for her first Christmas in 60 years without this man.  And remember that I am fortunate to have known all of my grandparents and privileged to have enjoyed their company for three decades, even though I'm just down to the one now.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How to: Christmas house decorations

This year I plan to make a few of these little dudes (can a house be a dude? I don't know.  Perhaps I should schedule a post on the personhood of inanimate objects someday) for various folks - as 'first christmas in your new home' type gifts, 'thank you for having me' gifts and 'here, have a tiny village' gifts.

Step 1:  Select a short length of wood left over from making a play tent, I cut mine down to about three times its width:
Wood all marked up, lookin' shiny in the dim hallway lights.
Step 2:  Mark a cross through roughly the middle of the wood if you want two houses of equal height, or at some other point if you don't.  Mine was slightly off-centre, for artisticals.

Step 3:  Rig up a slightly dodgy-looking clamp assembly in your hallway, because it's too cold and dark for outside nonsense:
This is the first outing for my 'table vice'.  You can find marvelous things at Lidl.
Step 4:  Being moderately lazy, put together your electric saw:
There's a pre-step about charging your batteries, but your saw is probably more charge-holding than mine.  Or not electric, in which case, fuel it with a banana, or some festive lebkuchen.
Step 5:  Cut along one of your diagonal lines to separate your houses from each other.

Step 6:  Cut along each of the remaining diagonal half-lines to leave your house-shapes:
Little housies.
Step 7:  Change the saw-attachment for the sanding attachment, for you are nothing if not lazy.

Step 8:  Sand the roofs and edges of your little housies to make up for your shoddy sawing.

Step 9:  Tidy up after yourself, you dreadful slattern:
We have the niftiest little multi-vac thing in our house - great for jobs like these, plus it's cordless, so you can only hoover for a maximum of 20 minutes.
Step 10:  Mark out the features of your little housies with pencil:
Confession time:  I only did this for the first one, I freehanded the second.
Step 11:  Select a tip for your burning iron, fit it and turn the thing on.  This is yet another fabulous Lidl purchase, it's lots of fun, but you do have to be careful because it gets VERY HOT and the cord is quite short.

Step 12:  Carefully burn over the pencil lines, or freehand your way through it.  Add a roofline because your girlfriend says it needs something at the top.  Try to to hunch over your work too much or you will get hot smoke in your eyes and won't be able to see the table properly.

Step 13:  Burn snowflakes onto a bunch of little wooden discs you have lying around that were sliced of the excess from your morris-dancing sticks, just so you don't waste the heat in your iron.

Step 14:  Admire your handiwork and stretch your spine back into a more normal configuration.  Ignore any alarming cracking noises.  Sigh with relief.
Finished products.  I'm trying to decide whether I prefer the leaded lights of windowpanes.  There might be a prize if anyone spots the difference.
I think I could get quite the little production line going for these.  I'll drill little holes in the snowflake discs and use them as gift tag/tree decoration combos.  I may also wash the housies (or maybe just the doors) with a little paint or stain for colour.

Real Legs are Awesome

Well, they are.

At the top of Corrie Fee - knackered and fabulous!
The title of this post comes from a BBC 2 documentary about servicemen competing in the Invictus Games this year.  Specifically I think it was double amputee David Henson that said it.  And it's become one of the little mantras of our house (along with "No boshing, only loves", "Sounds sticky" and other such deep and meaningful thoughts).

So when Sally posted about loving her knees I was right there with her.  Because real legs are awesome.  And my legs are awesome.  Some of the awesome things my real legs have done recently include:
Off to chase a toddler at the park...

Climbing the back wall of Corrie Fee
Swimming a few lengths here and there
Gymming more than a couple of times each week
Dancing for pretty much 12 hours straight
Taking friends for turns on Daisy the tandem
Chasing toddlers around soft play areas and parks

They may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of legs, by the restrictive standards of conventional beauty, but they are strong and soft and real, and that makes them awesome.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

New crochet project

I have started a Thing!  I am hoping that a couple of long-haul flights will lick it into shape (or, more accurately, length).  It's Cotton Ripple Blanket no. 3 for impending niece/nephew person.  I'm using Lucy's Neat Ripple Pattern for the third time and yet again it's going like a breeze.

No, it's not out-of-focus bacon.
Here we see just more than a single pattern repeat measuring in at about 8", so there's a fair bit to go, but this is crocheting up a bit faster than the original Cotton Ripple Blanket, which was double-size to this one's cot/twin-size.  I think the section up there took about 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon and a few hours here and there on a 24-hour roundtrip road trip.  There has been another Sunday afternoon since I took this picture so I think I've achieved nearly a foot of blanket.

I hope I have enough cotton left...


Blanket was, in fact finished in time (posting on the day she was born counts as on time, non?) but in my enthusiasm I didn't take any further pictures.  I also doubt there was anything sufficiently interesting going on to warrant any of my family taking action shots, but plenty of folk did admire it while it was in progress.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Dolphin Hunting II & III

This evening we went and found our friendly neighbourhood dolphins.  It took us a 2.2-mile hunt (and the first one really was a hunt,confounded us for ages) but we managed to visit our two nearest dolphins.
This is Tree's a Crowd.  Squiggle the Squirrel came with us and is not part of the Wild Dolphin trail.
We thought we had covered the whole park - tennis centre, playpark, crumbling pavillion and ponds, but to no avail.  We were just going to move on to Park 2 when eventually we found it under the trees - fading light (as much as we get that at this latitude this time of the year) meant that it was actually really tricky to see until you could make out the concrete base.  Fortified by our success,we continued...

Smug face at managing to locate Archie
 ...and spotted our next dolphin with relative ease, at one of top three likely locations.

Bonus peek-a-boo shot.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Dolphin Hunting I

There are dolphins appearing around the streets of the city.  Wild Dolphins to be precise.  I spotted one last weekend and on Saturday took a picture of another and spotted three more.

This is no 14 - Phospho, also Callanish, left.
There's been quite a dolphin-related buzz around the office, so I'm up for a wee adventure every now and again (especially as we're going to fetch the tandem this week so there will be a new way to go on expeditions).  Perhaps we'll manage to visit all 50 dolphin visitors before the end of August.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Seen at work today

Found in a work toilet on a different floor:
Beautiful example of a sign that tries to be appropriate to the culture around it.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Not the new bicycle I was planning on

So, I posted about needing to start looking for a new bicycle.  And I have purchased a new bicycle.  But I didn't pay an awful lot of attention to my previous criteria, although it does have a nice relaxed riding posture and built in mudguards, so that's good.  And it's red.

It also has cupholders.  And two seats.  Whee!
Steed for two
Ladies and Gentlebubbles, I am now the proud owner, via the medium of excitable down-to-the-line ebaying, of half a Schwinn Tango Tandem!

I am thrilled at the prospect of whizzing about with a friend on this shiny machine.  And it has cupholders, so we can get coffee.  There will be adventures.  And cupholding.  Or perhaps the tiny squirrel will sit in the cupholders.  There may well be picnics.  There will have to be a basket or panniers or something.  Heads will turn.  I will wave at small children.  And drink beverages from my cupholders.  I may even learn not to cut through the traffic like a maniac.

This isn't a totally spur-of-the-moment rash decision.  I have had my eye on a tandem for a while as they are just such sociable things.  So when one so stylish and unusual (as far as I'm aware, Schwinn don't sell these outside the USA these days) came along I had to throw my hat in the ring for it.  Especially as red is one of my favourite colours.  And did I mention the cupholders?  One of these days I will offer to pick you up at the station and get even more funny looks riding to town with a missing stoker.  Just a back set of pedals going round and round all by themselves.

So... back to how I need to start looking for a new bicycle...

Friday, 9 May 2014

So I need a new bicycle

Last week my noble steed of a bicycle was condemned by a man in a bikeshop.  This ruined my day. Maybe even my week.

Back when the beloved bicycle was shiny and new
Apparently, there were things wrong with the headset, the gear shift (that one I knew about - the bike shop broke it a few years ago), the bottom bracket, the chain and cassette, front forks and all the cables.  So I'm not going to get it repaired, by the looks of things.  This lovely machine has seen me through a lot - in the 6 years I have owned it, it was my main transport for three years (and my only transport for one of those).  I cycled miles and miles, through wind and rain and snow.

One Tuesday it snowed and I was the only person who made it to my church housegroup, having cycled 3 miles to get there.  Several weeks I did my whole shopping trip and got back home with basket and panniers groaning, probably carrying more weight in groceries than the bicycle weighed itself.  I started a house move on this lovely machine and on one memorable occasion had a toaster strapped behind me as I made my way around the dual carriageway.  I also cycled along the Deeside Way most autumns to go brambling and once made it all the way to a dance practice (about 10 miles) as a built-in warm-up.

But living slightly outside and receiving very little maintenance (for I am nothing if not a lazy cyclist, and these beasts don't need MOTs so you don't get reminded) have taken their toll.  While my bicycle is still rideable just now, I am soon going to be in the market for a replacement.  So I've been thinking about the things that I like about my current bicycle and would look for in a future purchase.

Slack seat tube angle

Yes, I had to google around to find out what I meant, and it turns out that it's this.  Basically I like my feet to be quite far forward relative to the saddle.  A sport cyclist will tell you that this makes me less aerodynamic and thus less energy efficient, but I'm not that aerodynamic at the best of times and have no aspirations towards sport cycling so a slack seat tube angle suits me.  My Carmel (I mentioned that my current cycle is a Specialised Globe Carmel, right?  Named after the first place I ever went on holiday) introduced me to the wonder and comfort of a slack seat tube angle and I'm not going back if I can help it.

Upright riding posture

When I bought my Carmel I was looking for an upright ride and I still like it.  If anything, in future I would like an even more upright posture so there's no weight going through my wrists and hands at all.  I struggle sometimes with the Carmel's handlebars being a tiny bit too far from me.  Essentially I aspire to be, like Miss Hubbard, an upright lady on an upright bike.


The step-through on the Carmel is super low.  This makes it easy to get on and off, even when wearing skirts and heels.  I am nothing if not a stylish cyclist.  I expect that a slightly higher step-through would work for me too, but I don't think I'll ever be going back to the diamond frame of my childhood.  A higher step-through would also raise the centre of gravity, which is low on the Carmel and weird until you get used to it.

I have a Medium frame in the Carmel, but that's the biggest it came in (there's a rant for another time about vanity sizing and how it is assumed that women don't want to be 'big' or 'large') and I'm at pretty much the top of the seat post.  A slightly taller frame would probably be good, because adjustable things always work better further from the extremes of the range.

Front suspension

I don't need this.  With big hybrid tyres I don't think that front suspension really adds anything, especially as I frequently carry loads in a handlebar basket.  If even less of my weight is being transferred through my arms then suspension forks are just another thing that can get rusty and require maintenance.  So that's no for my next velocipede.


For about 4 years I had 21 gears, then the bike shop broke my front shift (a rant for another day, they only did anything about it when I was really sarky) and I had the top 14 for a year or so.  That wasn't any serious hardship as I hardly used the granny gears at the bottom.  And a year or so ago the front shift failed completely and I was left with the middle 7 of the original 21.  Now I coast down a lot of hills because I can't keep up with the spin of the pedals on the highest gear.  Next time I'm toying with the idea of hub gears rather than derailleur - similar gear range, ability to change gear while at a standstill, requiring less maintenance and allowing for an encased chain for cleanliness.

Cargo capacity

I added a front bicycle basket and a rear pannier rack to my Carmel.  This gives me a 30kg load capacity, which I might have exceeded on occasion.  Makes my bicycle a practical mode of transport.  Makes for wonderful picnics.  The only thing I would change about this would be to look for a bicycle that comes with an integral pannier rack that is a part of the frame.  Perhaps one day I will add a cargo cycle of some description to my bicycle stable, for getting really hardcore.

At some point I will get over my devastation and start to research my next bicycle purchase and these look like they will form the basis of my selection criteria.

Experimental Neep Cake

Last week it was my turn to provide cake at work.  Usually I make two recipes as previously we have had a chocoholic faction and an anti-chocolate faction, or nut allergies but this time there weren't going to be many of us and I was away at a conference for a long day on Tuesday (cake happens on Thursdays).  So I only had time to make one cake.  And it had been a busy weekend, so I didn't get to practice.

I made a neep cake.  The principle is that the carrot in a carrot cake recipe can be replaced weight-for-weight with neep.  I used this recipe, although I used lemon juice rather than orange and made it in a loaf tin.  And with trepidation I took it into the office to impose it on my workmates.

At the meeting I confessed immediately that I had brought Experimental Neep Cake and everyone agreed to give it a shot.  The general consensus was that even though it tasted a bit neepy at first, it was indeed cake and not untasty.

There was hardly any left at the end of the meeting, so I'll take that as a good sign:
The last piece was taken home, where it was declared a bit too neepy to be allowed.

Now I hear you can do the same with other root vegetables...

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

What I learned during Lent 2014

I don't think there's really much value in doing A Thing unless one evaluates the effects of The Thing, at the very least in terms of insights gained.  So I've been thinking a bit about what wearing the same 30 items of clothing for 46 days has revealed to me...

Once I hit on a combination that works, I tend to stick to it

A lot of the things I posted throughout Lent were definitely Outfits.  And the same Outfit cropped up a number of times.  Often these items that go together have been purchased at or around the same time.  In other areas of life I think I reflect this too - I have Ways of doing things.  Mostly I think they are the most efficient or effective or thorough ways, but mostly they are just the way I first learned to do them.  Sometimes with some post-hoc justification.

I wear things for years

That khaki skirt?  I think I've owned that for at least 8 years, possibly longer.  And while relatively recent purchases feature strongly on my Lent list, there are items in my wardrobe that go back to my school days.  Which is before we get onto the heirlooms that I have inherited from various friends and relations.

I have favourites and like to wear a uniform

That jersey blazer?  It was mere weeks old at the start of lent and it was worn 16 times.  Nothing else was worn more than 6 times.  And the items that were worn 6 times each were all worn to work several times.  So either that striped jersey blazer is just my ideal item of clothing (and it might be - it works with trousers, shirts and dresses, it can go to work but it casual enough for the weekend, the arms are ever so close to being long enough and it's very comfortable) or I could do with adding something to share the burden.

Lent is at an awkward time of year for this sort of experiment

My first few outfits feature a lambswool jumper, a heavily-knit tunic and thick opaque tights.  By the end I was in summery dresses with thin or no tights.  If the aim of the game was to cut down on clothes it would probably be most meaningful to carry it out twice a year in winter and summer, allow for layering and a few mid-weight things for transitional seasons and chuck the rest.

I am toying with the idea of putting some of my clothes away for the summer.  I live in the kind of climate where very few things are only worn in one season, but there are some things (woolen skirts, for example) that I'm not going to want out again until September or October.  And as my in-use storage space is limited, giving everything else a bit more freedom to move might result in it being easier to see and thus get into rotation.

I own a lot of clothes

This was revealed more by the Big Holy Saturday Spring Clean than by the 30-item exercise, but even though I was wearing the same 30 items for 46 days, I only scratched the surface of the clothes that I own.  And some of those clothes would get a lot more wear on other people.  Perhaps it's time to adjust to a sparser wardrobe containing only quality items that actually fit well and that will really last, where possible from independent or ethical suppliers.  It certainly might be time for a clearout.

I have weirdly good recollection of where I got my clothes

Only one item (that khaki skirt again) am I not sure whether I bought it on sale or at full price.  All of the others I know.  Many of them I could even give you a ballpark figure for what I paid.  Which brings me to my next insight...

I very rarely pay full price for my clothes

Only two of the items on my list were acquired at full price.  And one of those was bought at TK Maxx, so it wasn't the manufacturer's full price.  The only full price item in my list that was bought at its original outlet is the flare jeans.  And when you are the dimensions I are, jeans are pesky creatures that very rarely show up to fit in the sales or second hand.

It's a lot easier for me to take on projects that affect only me

We were better at using up all or most of our delivered veg during Lent, but sometimes that meant neeps for dinner every night and you've got to be a willing participant to put up with that.  We are also very used to having a meat component in our day-to-day diet.  I have spent time previously being nearly-vegetarian and eating very little meat while on a budget, but it is much harder to impose these things on someone else.  The veg delivery is changing now with the seasons, so the neeps should run out soon.  Perhaps we'll miss them.

It is possible for neeps to be a tasty part of the winter diet

And the answer is roasting them with salt and pepper in chunks with other root vegetables.  They were't bad parboiled and fried off before going into a risotto either.  If they're going to be mashed, my preference is for there to be carrots and either parsnips or potatoes in there too, but if they have to be alone then a generous helping of butter and back pepper helps them go down.  My next experiment will be to put them into a cake in place of carrots.

Taking on a specific project for a defined period of time is beneficial

I am so easily overawed by the enormity of a task that I never start it.  If I had decided to 'evaluate my wardrobe' I wouldn't have known what to do.  But I have wound up thinking a lot about the items I chose for my Lent project (even if very little thought went into putting them on the list) and about other items that I haven't been 'allowed' to wear for the past six weeks.  So I might just re-evaluate my clothes and perhaps I'll make some changes, but I might just continue on in my whimsical and individual way, dressing the ways that I like to dress.

I haven't been all that good at blogging my adventures, but I have built up a stash of articles and I feel good about that.  Perhaps my next few should avoid the topics of clothes.  There's probably some mileage in the veggies though.

And perhaps I will take on other projects.  More worthy projects even.  That could be good.

Lent 2014 - Days 42-46

Last few days of Lent 2014 all summarised in one handy spot.

The end of last week was busy at work, so blogness got neglected.  Sorry about that.  Hopefully this mad spray of posts will do something to make up for it.

Day 42 - This outfit became a bit of a staple over the course of Lent.  It's the classic 2-16-13 combination.  This time with a cheap pair of flat brogues that I picked up last year or the year before.  It is handy to have neutral shoes that just slip on in my life.

Day 43 - It's a classic red dress/red shoes combo and so item 12 gets another outing.  It was even warm enough that an additional layer wasn't required.

Day 44 - Unfortunately I cannot remember what I was wearing on Day 44.  It was definitely composed of items on the list, but what they were I have no idea.

Day 45 - a Friday outfit of linen shirt (25) and red cords (26) with which I attempted a double necklace arrangement.

Day 46 - this was the Great Day of Tidying as outlined in a full blogpost here.  I wore green cords (17) and a checked shirt (19) with the sleeves rolled up.  It seemed like an appropriate day for Spring cleaning during the Harrowing of Hell and I wore an outfit appropriate for a long day of housework.  Then a moosh of broderie anglais and tartan for an evening of dancing.

How to pitch a Bell Tent in eleven easy steps

I am the deliciously pretentious owner of half a genuine Bell Tent.  Fortunately the Other Half owns the other half* so there has never yet been a scheduling conflict.

One of the most wonderful features of a Bell Tent, after the distinctive aesthetic, is the ease of pitching.  One person can erect one of these beauties alone fairly swiftly.  It's downright speedy when there's more than one of you.  And here's how we go about it, with excessive picture references:

First, pick a spot and lay out your under-tent tarp

Pick a nice level spot with suitable windbreaks and, if possible, a beautiful view.  If camping in a group it's nice to all face the entries to your tents into a central space.  The tarp prevents the bottom of your groundsheet from getting covered in grass and mud or soaking the canvas when you put it away.  And another layer between you and the cold, hard ground is always a bonus.

Second, peg out your tent

On this particular occasion, this broke the mallet.  Now we have a nice new wooden mallet that will hopefully last longer than the season-and-a-half its predecessor managed.  Now is also the time to tuck the corners of the under-tent tarp under the tent.  For pretties.

Third, find the door

A small but vital step, should be fairly easy to find if you remember where you decided to put it during step 2.

Fourth, leave your shoes outside and enter the tent

This prevents your mucky shoes from leaving detritus all over the inside of the groundsheet and reduces the number of passes required with the tent hoover** later.

Fifth, unpack your chandelier

This step can be skipped if you have no chandelier.  But you should have a chandelier.  Canvas and candelight, what could possibly go wrong?  We keep ours in its original box for now but sometimes the bubble wrap causes difficulties.

Sixth, check where the centre of your tent is

This may not be a strictly necessary step, but I like the way it all looks rather like the Sorting Hat in this picture.

Seventh, insert centre pole

This step is easiest if you have a willing volunteer/conscript/minnion/friend construct said pole and pass it in to you, so you can stay in the centre of the tent, but it can be managed singlehandedly without incident.

Eighth, erect the pole remembering to include chandelier

Up you go!  If you were clever and marked a little cross on the floor of the tent to let you know where the centre is you can make use of that now.  Sliding the chandelier under the foot of the pole at this point is easiest.  You can lift the foot of the pole once everything's pegged out, but it's far easier to do now.

Ninth, add the door pole

There's a secret to this: pass the door pole into the tent feet first with one of the joints nearest the bend still unjoined.  Pop the doorframe out into the correct 'V' shape once in the tent.  Poke the pokey bit through the designated hole and tie down the feet with the ties provided either side of the doorway.

Tenth, peg out the guyropes

Discover one missing and remember that at the end of your last trip as you struck the tent in the rain it came undone so you put it somewhere safe to re-attach later and it has never been seen again.  Improvise with string, while also improvising a mallet with a rock.

Eleventh, add bunting, get the kettle on and start enjoying your camping experience

I manufactured the bunting myself, in rather a hurry, out of a worn-out duvet cover.  I am rather pleased with it.  And a cuppa is exactly what a thirsty work crew needs before they furnish the newly-erected abode.

* I can't claim the credit for this joke, she made it first.
** More on this in a subsequent post.  It is a truly marvelous contraption.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Everyone's in there.

This Sunday was Easter Sunday.  I was in the singing group so wound up sat at the front, all keen-like.

And the scripture was, unsurprisingly, John's account of the resurrection.  And we were asked to consider why Mary was crying.  She cried for the death of her friend (who is a saviour if not a friend of sinners).  She cried because his body was not there.  In that, I think perhaps she cried for herself.  She had been deprived of the touchstone for her grief.  If we deal with death by dealing with our dead (which I hope we do) then not having a body to grieve over hampers our grieving.  Like the families of soldiers blown to smithereens in the trenches, where there wasn't enough to identify or bury.  Like the friends of teenagers who disappeared and were never heard of again.  Like the relatives of the victims of the recent air crash and ferry capsizing.

It is good to notice when experiences or people we can relate to show up in the Bible.  And I like to think that we are all included in there without too many stretches of the imagination.  Of course, I also like to stretch my imagination.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Lent 2014 - Days 39-41

Last weekend catchup of Lent 2014.  It has fairly flown by.

I wore a great many things.  It was a busy weekend.  So it's another summary table:

But there is a picture of today:
Spot the sneaky afternoon Maltesers!
Today's clothes were all about being comfortable.  It had been a busy weekend and a late night and I had to return a hire car before work so I was only getting out of bed if I could do so in comfort.  Also skipped adding accessories.  It's a wonder I managed to eat breakfast through my sleepies.

This photograph does show the ridiculous length my hair has got to these days.  Plaited like that it still reaches my waistband (loose it reaches to about my hips), and there's a fair distance from the top of my head to my waist.  That's probably almost three feet of hair.  Ridiculous.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Lent 2014 - Day 38

Flat discipline

Pub food last night, pizza for a colleague's leaving do tonight, it's not a good week for eating simply and getting through vegbox veggies.

Lone discipline

Fuzzy, but glad it's Friday!


Linen skirt (item 25):  It's a workhorse, this skirt.  I'll be cycling around town this afternoon running errands and there's no problem with that while wearing this.
Orange vest (item 18):  It's a basic and a staple but today it makes me feel like I'm joining in with Spring, which may have actually Sprung.
Striped jersey blazer (item 13):  This thing is becoming a total workhorse.  I wonder if there are spring-time variations available in other colours... and if it always does that weird thing up by my right* shoulder.

Footwear - oh the embarrassment of still not having polished these boots.
Accessories - little yellow enamel heart earrings to pick up the orange from the vest and my ampersand pendant for whimsy.  Nice and straightforward.

And I've got bare legs!  As is typical when switching to the occasional bare-legged day I have on trainer socks and ankle boots so my feets stay toasty.  And I'll be throwing some tights or something on before I leap on my bicycle, I don't need the wind whistling around my thighs just yet.

*I had to think about this for quite a long time, before I realised that a photograph of me taken in a mirror will mean that my right hand side is on the right.  I blame too many hours staring in confusion at X-rays during anatomy tutorials.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Lent 2014 - Day 37

Flat Discipline

Last night we ate baked potatoes with salad, tuna mayonnaise and cheese.  Tasty stuff.  Tonight friends who moved out of the country are in town so we are meeting them in the pub for tea.  Never mind, eh?

Lone discipline

Out of practice at this malarkey.


Khaki skirt (item 29) - it's a practical, comfortable workhorse with jeans-styling, which means POCKETS!  This makes me happy.  The generously cut flared A-line does hang strangely though, doesn't it?
Floral shirt (item 16) - Still not my favourite colours or a pattern that feels particularly 'me' and now that I see the lumpy silhouette it gives I don't know if I can put up with those things in the name of comfort (which it has).  We shall have to see if I will ever actually enact my regular threat to take this to a charity shop.

Footwear:  Purple not-leather mary-janes.  I liked these shoes, with their sturdy mary-jane styling and tiny little heel so much in brown that I bought them in purple too!  My tan and red mary-janes were supposed to replace them but I can't quite give them up yet.  Sometimes you just need a purple shoe that's easy on the feet but respectable looking.  Even if they now look decidedly shoddy.
Hosiery: All my nude tights are in the wash.  It's only the white and purple flowers that are saving this from not feeling like a spring outfit.

Ho hum, off to the pub.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Spring has sprung

OK, so this photograph was taken yesterday and it's not been so bright today, but it's definitely getting warmer.  I have foregone heavy outer layers and thick jumpers, the nights are getting lighter and I've been having some strange dreams that I'm going to ascribe to it being very cosy in my bed these nights and not at all to the large quantities of cheese being eaten in the house at the moment.

There might even be good conditions for gardening over the next few days.  I am, however a lazy gardener and will not do things unless I absolutely have to.