Wednesday 29 April 2015

A Date for Your Diary

It is almost time for the annual Prism exhibition. Regular visitors will know this is usually at the Mall Galleries but this year we are at an exciting new venue in London. The exhibition "Lines of Communication" will be at Hoxton Arches, a fabulous gallery in the railway arches underneath Hoxton Railway station. 

It is easy to get to either directly to Hoxton railway station, via the many bus routes or it is also just 15 - 20 minutes walk from Old Street underground and Liverpool Street stations. It is a lively and vibrant area with plenty of cafés and markets and by moving to a new gallery the exhibition is open later each day and runs for more than twice as long as usual... So no excuse not to visit! It is also right next door to the fabulous Geffrye museum, a favourite haunt of my childhood when we lived up the road in Stoke Newington. 

And me... Yes I'm still stitching like some crazy woman but actually starting to believe I will get it all done in time. I'm trying to relieve the hours and hours of stitching by getting in as much walking as possible, but not as much as I would like. I'm also allowing myself time off to do things like write a blog post... "If I finish this section I can have 15 minutes to write a blog post" ... "one hour more stitching and I can check emails...". Oh boy, I know how to have a good time! Do you make deals with yourself like that or is it only me?

Speaking of which... It is time I got back to that sewing machine... Another hour of stitching and then I can make a pot of tea!

Friday 24 April 2015

So many Stitches, so little time

I'm still here, just slaving away at a hot sewing machine that has been going like the clappers. Millions, I kid you not, of stitches already done... And many millions more to do. I'm on a deadline and wondering why I always leave things until the last minute. I won't change now... after all, nothing makes me more productive than last minute panic!

So if you'll excuse me, I'm off to see if I can fit in a couple of hours of stitching before I have to leave for another weekend teaching at Missenden Abbey.
I'll see you again when I come up for air... Have a good weekend!

Thursday 16 April 2015

Sunshine, Cowslips and Pheasants!

My daily walks are still being tackled with great gusto and enthusiasm, a phenomenom which owes much to the glorious weather we've had this week. Let's see if I am still as enthusiastic if I wake up to wind and rain one morning! The landscape may be flat in the part of the country where I live (not good training for a Coast to Coast hike) but it is still beautiful. I've been accompanied every day by the song of skylarks who soar in the big skies we have in East Anglia and this week I spotted a hare, sitting statuesque at the edge of a field before bounding away.
There are also cowslips everywhere in our village, lining the paths and covering the meadows.

There are so many that one or two have self seeded in our garden.

My walks have also inspired my stitching this week and I've made these two cushions.

A couple of rather funny looking pheasants

These are going to another home but I fancy making some for myself, although that is not likely to happen soon...

My short break from work is over and already I'm planning and getting ready for another two back to back weekends away teaching at Missenden Abbey and I've several pieces of work to complete for an exhibition at the end of next month... better crack on!

Saturday 11 April 2015

Keep on Walking

For years I was a runner. It was such a huge part of my life that I would define myself as a runner. Several times a week, wherever I happened to be I would go out for a run. I loved that feeling of escape, of being outdoors just me and the elements. And I was addicted to the buzz that came after a run. Plus there was that wonderful bonus of being able to eat whatever I liked and stay thin... I like food almost as much as I liked running! I was never particularly good or fast but enjoyed taking part in races. Mostly they were local and fairly short, 10k but I also have a few half marathons under my belt... and two London Marathons too. This is me wet and bedraggled, with my arm in plaster (broken whilst roller skating six weeks before!) crossing the finish line... seventeen years ago!
But unfortunately osteoarthritis in both knees put paid to my running days. I hated not being able to run and although I walked the dog every day it never provided the same buzz or feeling of achievement. And then when the dog died three years ago even walking stopped being a regular part of my life despite a couple of organised walks. But I have recently rediscovered the joy of regular walking.
By gradually increasing the distances I walk my knees seem to be okay... most of the time... and my long time ambition of completing the Coast to Coast walk actually seems to be something I might actually achieve rather than just being a dream. I've bought a couple of books of local walks and I plan to work my way through as many of them as possible. I like the idea of "being in training" and having something to aim for and realise that is what I've missed about my running days. I thrive on targets, goals and challenges. But I've also discovered that unlike running, when I'm out for a walk I have time to observe what is around me and it has made me want to learn more about local flora and fauna... something I know very little about. I can see this becoming a new obsession!

And when I'm not actually walking I have been reading about other people's long distance walks and I have just started Walking Home by Simon Armitage which is very entertaining. All of which, along with gardening and teaching this week, explains why I've not had much time for blogging! And I'm not the only one... Annie has been turning her thoughts to reading about walks too!
I had to laugh... whilst typing up this post, Joe, who usually plays football on a Saturday but doesn't have a game today decided he would go for a run instead. I've just opened the door to him on his return to be met with the words... "That was horrible". Just as well we don't all enjoy the same things I suppose!

Saturday 4 April 2015

The Year in Books - April

March was a good month for reading. I started with my Year in Books choice for March which was The Foundling Boy by Michel Deon, also our village book club choice for this month. I didn't dislike it but it left me feeling rather indifferent and unimpressed. I just didn't care enough about what happened to the characters. I was also left feeling, as I often find with translations, that there was something lacking. Perhaps if I could have read it in French it might have been different... But I can't... My poor O level French would definitely not be good enough!

Next, I read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Initially this irritated me as it is written in the form of diary entries and it felt all a little pathetic, self pitying and self obsessed. But once I got into the story I couldn't put it down. A real page turning thriller.

At the time I also happened to be reading a blog that pointed me to another blog, which led me on to another as they do, and I finished up on Molly Wizenberg's blog Orangette. Molly is a talented food writer and on the strength of what I read on her blog I ordered her book Delancey, which is a memoir peppered with recipes. I loved it! I loved the easy frank style of writing and I liked the sound of the recipes too... the type of food I like to cook... and probably the type of book I would like to write too if I were ever to write a book... which is unlikely!
Of course, I couldn't read a book like this and not make something from it and although you may not think so from the photo... I didn't think to take it until we'd made a serious dent in the dish... this Vietnamese noodle salad was amazing, with fragrant fresh flavours and wonderful crunchy vegetables. So amazing I made it again the following day and could quite happily have this for lunch every single day and not get tired of it. Although, even though they enjoyed it, I'm not sure everyone around here was quite so enamoured with that idea!

I enjoyed Delancey so much that I also ordered Molly's first book A Homemade Life, which I remember seeing doing the rounds on blogs years ago... but I'm a bit slow to catch on! It is another memoir but with loads of recipes and I enjoyed it every bit as much as Delancey. And naturally I had to make something from this book too so in order to use up a load of egg whites (the result of all the ice cream last week) I made coconut macaroons. I wish you could smell the wonderful vanilla scent as I took these out of the oven.

I followed the recipe and added a chocolate ganache coating and although they tasted pretty good (Crunchy on the outside with a sweet soft centre) I'm not sure they looked so pretty with a large dollop of chocolate on top and my inclination would be to either leave them plain or just pipe a couple of lines of chocolate over the top.

I've also been browsing through these guides this month too... whilst hatching a plan. It may not come to anything given the problem of finding enough free time combined with my dodgy knees but it is something I have wanted to do for years. I'll be sure to let you know if it comes to anything!

And so after all that I've come to my Year in books choice for April - Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I'm just a few chapters in and already finding it hard to put down.

Which is okay, because having spent most of yesterday baking and cooking for the family, the rest of this holiday weekend is looking pretty free so I'm hoping to get in plenty of walking, gardening and reading. Which is just as well as Gone Girl isn't the only book sitting on the pile beside my bed!

Wishing you all a very happy and relaxing Easter too!
Joining in with Laura of  Circle of Pine Trees and The Year in Books