Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Well ...... here I am waiting for a washing machine repair man to turn up, so I thought I'd do something about this :)
The last time I mentioned my needlework efforts when I was younger, it was to mention the large free-style flower picture embroidery that I did not actually finish!
However, the horse picture above was one I think I started when I was about 16 years old. I can't really remember. It's about 14.5 inches square in size. I'm pretty sure I bought this one for myself and it will have been the image that attracted me as I was horse mad when a girl. I did about half of it and then got fed up with it. I then started it again in 1981 and finished it in December 1981. The only reason I can give an accurate date is because I wrote this date on the back! In those days, I didn't use a frame and it needed quite a lot of stretching. However, this was the picture that got me 'hooked' on Penelope tapestry kits.
The one above I completed in March 1982 (again, thankfully I wrote the date on the back!) and it was 'Spring', one of a series of four, one for each season.
This one was the 'Winter' in the same Penelope series. I finished this one in April 1983, the month and year we got married! Again, I wrote the date on the back ..... plus my single name of Elaine Lawrence so at least I know it was before the 23rd April 1983! I didn't do Summer or Autumn as I didn't like them as much. Both of these are about 12 inches square.
All three are stitched with tent stitch and, at that time, I don't recall that you could even get kits that used the many other needlepoint stitches available to stitchers. Many think that doing vast areas of tent stitch is boring. However, I find such stitching to be very meditative. Also, there is something magical seeing the colours 'pop' out of the canvas from the subdued image on the painted canvas as you complete the stitching with the wool. It really can be a 'just one more stitch' every time you stitch one of these canvases.
All three of these were framed using non-reflective glass but I must admit to having problems taking photos of them. They all look a bit 'washed out' with a little bit of glare on the glass, even though I've tried to adjust the contrast and colour saturation. The two seasons pictures I actually put down on the floor to try and improve things but that has only been partially successful.
It probably needs more experimentation on my part ....... unless someone else knows some magic tricks?
Monday, 28 March 2011
Last week, blisters and feet were uppermost on my mind .... and yes, I really need to get out more :)
Both my sister-in-law and Father Stuart recommended Compeed blister plasters but initially I wasn't convinced. After trawling round the Internet to get a better idea of how they work, I found both good and bad comments about them. Uppermost in my mind was that the entire surface of the Compeed plaster is sticky and that you stick it entirely over the spot where you think a blister is going to form or on the blister itself if one has appeared. You leave them to fall off of their own accord, but this conjures an image of a sticky mess ....... and pulling them off is clearly a no-no.
However, the large one on my right foot wasn't going down, so on Wednesday I carefully popped it and also bought some of the Compeed plasters for Saturday, just in case.
So ...... Saturday was a lovely day and we aimed to get up to Stansted and then across to Elsenham so we could get the train back home. It started a bit on the cold side and was quite over-cast all day. However, I think it is better to walk in those conditions rather than the surprising sunshine we had last week. In fact, it was a lovely walking day with another 'first' ....... at Hunsdon Mead near Roydon we heard a skylark singing.
At one point, at Parndon Lock, Harlow, I could feel 'things going on' in my boots. So decided to check ..... and despite the Coolmax socks, I could see that things looked a bit dodgy and that I aught to try the Compeeds. One amusing point ...... a couple walked past with two lovely black labradors, one of which decided to lick one of my feet :) Obviously a dog with a strong stomach :)
Having decided that one spot needed them, I thought I might as well Compeed up all the spots that looked like they might get a blister. These did the trick and we made really good progress, averaging a steady 3.5mph all the way to past Bishops Stortford. Unfortunately, about 2 miles from the end at Elsenham, I felt something 'give' on my right foot ....... and then the pain!! Ouch! I didn't dare look! So, the last two miles involved me walking on tip-toes with my right foot as this was the only way I could stop the pain. Not good :(
So, at the end I was walking very much slower which reduced our average moving speed. John luckily only had a couple of small blisters and an aching ankle. But, these blisters are SO annoying! Without the blisters, I certainly thought I could have kept going as everything else felt fine!
When we got home, the blister on my right heel had obviously enlarged under the top edge of the Compeed plaster and then burst. Ouch! Not nice at all. I have now put another Compeed on the top edge to seal it all off ...... not sure if this is wise, but it's done now!!
So, stats for Saturday's walk were:
Total time out: 10 hrs 2mins
Total time moving: 9hrs
Average moving speed: 3.2mph
Distance: 29.3 miles ....... so close to the big 3-0
Monday, 21 March 2011
The blister on the other heel wasn't so bad and so I left that one and it went down over the week.
So, on Saturday we decided to gear the walk up a notch by aiming to get to Stansted (about 25 miles) and come back on the train. There was no way I was going to be able to get up to see Dad, so Mum said she'd go up on her own and I arranged for James to take up the washing later and bring her home. With that sorted, we could concentrate on the walking :)
Saturday was a glorious day! It did start quite frosty but very quickly the sun came out and I think Spring is now here! For the first time, we were really aware of chiff-chaffs calling. These are migratory birds so hearing their singing really does say 'Spring is here!' I really love the song of the chiff-chaffs. They literally sing their name ..... Chiff ..... Chaff. But if you really listen, some have decided that this is far too boring and have their own variations. There's the 'Chiff-Chiff' who can't be bothered to 'Chaff' :) And another that sings 'Chiff-Chaff-Chaff'. In fact, once you start really listening to them, the variations in the song and the various lengths of pauses in between is quite amusing.
Indeed, once I got home, I found the blister on my right heel from the week before had become enormous! This time, I thought I'd leave it alone ...... so since then I've been wearing sandals so there is no pressure on it! This makes for a decidedly odd 'look' ...... winter jacket, skirts and jumpers ..... and summer sandals :P Just as well it doesn't matter all that much at work!
I do actually think I know why this blistering is now happening. I got new boots back at the end of January and was pleasantly surprised by how easily I became used to them. However, about 2 weeks after, when we walked 18 miles, I thought the arch support wasn't adequate as my insteps were really aching. So, I took the insoles from my old boots and put them in the new boots. Big mistake! These insoles must be such that they change how my feet sit in the boots ..... and Bingo ..... blisters! So ..... they will be coming out and I'll see how I get on.
Anyhow, despite the blisters, we still covered a fair distance of 23.1 miles. Total time: 7hrs 22min. Total time moving: 6hrs 40min. Average moving speed: 3.5mph. Added to this is the thing that amazes me ...... nothing aches! Were it not for the blisters, I think we could have comfortably gone much further.
I just need to investigate how to deal with blisters and I think we'll have it cracked :)
PS I have just realised that I have totally failed to even mention how my poor John is fairing! Sorry love! I probably need to emphasise that John has a much greater 'walking background' than I do! He is known for walking everywhere, and at 100 mph, in the normal course of events ........ and in the past, I would normally need to slow him down when generally walking somewhere with him by hanging onto his arm :)
John has had the odd little blister but seems not to have suffered all that much with them. At the moment, he is getting niggley aches in his back which is possibly a posture thing and strangely he is the one who is getting the odd ache or two in his legs.
Nevertheless, he is a great walking companion xxxxx. :)
Friday, 18 March 2011
This post could have been called 'I'm Just A Girl Who Can't Say No!' ..... but that might give you entirely the wrong impression :P
My Church is called All Saints in Edmonton, North London. We lived in Edmonton for 23 years and even though we moved to Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, about eight years ago, I continue to attend my old Church; it's only about 20 minutes car drive away.
This year is the Church's 875th Anniversary and last year people were asked to suggest things they'd like to see happen as part of the celebrations. One of the suggestions was a Flower Festival. However, at a meeting where each suggestion was looked at more closely and people were asked to volunteer to organise them, no one stepped forward to take on the Flower Festival. So I said I'd have a go!
Do I know anything about flower arranging? No! Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Possibly! However, I'll give it my best shot even though it is definitely outside my comfort zone!
I have already sent off lots of letters to various organisations to see if they want to make floral arrangements and have had quite a few more than I expected. I still have yet to encourage others in the congregation to make arrangements. However, the Church is rather large and it could be a bit of a challenge to really fill it up.
One area that I think people won't choose is the ends of the pews. On the one hand, there are a lot of them! 16 on one side and 17 on the other. Also, using real flowers would be difficult because water and the wood of the pews are not a good combination. However, there is an additional problem ...... Father Stuart doesn't like artificial flowers! Oops. What a dilemma!
However, I recall seeing flowers made from ribbon, so did a bit of searching on the Internet for instructions on how to make ribbon flowers. I actually found loads! What I was thinking was if I can make a few and they don't look too artificial, I can make something or other for the pew ends. So, the little white one that my fingers are holding was the first one I made ...... the ribbon twists were a little too tight I think. I then made the other white one and then the blue one, all from ribbon I already had in my needlework box. I'm actually quite pleased with how they turned out. I happened to mention to my Mum, that if I go with it, I'll use yellow and white as these will be the main colour of the flowers used at Easter ....... and bless her ....... she went out and bought me some yellow ribbon to have a go with. Thanks Mum :)
I shall try making a slightly bigger one in the yellow ribbon, which is wider than my white and blue ribbon, and see how I get on.
Thursday, 17 March 2011
I have to confess that last week I was feeling very despondent. Yes, we had a lovely weekend at Windsor, but my right ankle had been hurting quite a lot and the failure of another body part was getting me down. No sooner had my strained right thigh stopped hurting than my right ankle had decided to hurt instead. Add to that, I was feeling down that on the Sunday, I had begun to feel tired after only walking 4 miles.
And then to cap it all, the day after we got back, on the Monday, a cold sore erupted on my lip. Sigh!! I do tend to get cold sores if I'm feeling under the weather and possibly the bright sunlight over the weekend triggered it off. I hate getting cold sores! They make me feel so wretched!
So, Monday was a day full of negative thoughts. Do I really think I can walk 42 miles in April? How on earth can I do it? Should I just quit now? I am a great believer that goes on in your head has a huge influence on what you do. OK ..... positive thinking alone doesn't enable you to succeed; preparation still needs to happen. But, I do think that no matter how much you plan for something, if you feel negative about it, it does have an impact. At least by the end of Monday I recognised that I had to do something to change my mind set, but what exactly?
To start with ..... the ankle! I'm still not entirely sure why it had started hurting. On the walk in question, I had changed the socks I was wearing and I wondered if they were too thick so that, if the boots were too tight, it was some sort of pressure 'bruise'? However, there was no swelling, no bruising and no blister. I wondered if I'd inflamed the tendons round the ankle, so I decided to take Neurofen for 4 or 5 days to tackle any possible inflammation and see how I got on. Naturally enough, the pain went straight away (being a painkiller!!) but was this just a 'mask' ..... and might there be something more serious? Well, it was worth a try!
We decided that, as it had been dry for some time, we would walk up the tow path along the Lea and then branch off at Fieldes Lock and walk up along the Stort. We hadn't done this since November of last year when the rain had made the tow path very muddy and tough going. However, on Saturday it was lovely.
The two photos below, by the way, were taken at the weir at Fieldes Lock. You walk across the weir on a narrow metal bridge and can look down on the water tumbling over the weir. The white foam and the sparkling water just appealed to me :)
For the first time on one of our longer walks, by the time we got home I didn't have a single muscle ache! The ankle hadn't hurt (although that was probably the Neurofen) and as we finished, I felt amazingly strong! I felt totally astonished and my spirits had lifted from the doldrums I started out in.
The only down side ...... in my efforts to not crush my ankle, I hadn't laced my boots up tightly so I realised once we were home that my feet had been sloping about a little and I had two not so lovely blisters, one on the edge of each foot. Plus a bruised big toe on my right foot from where my foot had obviously been knocking on the front of my boot! However, that was all.
So, we started out at 7:50am on Saturday 12th March. Total time out: 6hrs 39mins. Total time walking: 6hrs 16min. Distance: 21.3miles. Average moving speed: 3.4mph .
And finished feeling so much more positive :)
Sunday, 13 March 2011
On the Friday we walked into Windsor, through Windsor Great Park. Now, it may be customary to approach a person's home by walking up their garden path, but in the photo above we approached Windsor Castle by walking up The Long Walk. This is a Grand-daddy of a Garden path, I can tell you, at over 2 1/2 miles long!
Also, around the interior castle ramparts are some lovely secluded gardens. Given the time of the year, there was only a limited amount of colour but I'm sure they look stunning later in the year.
After a brief walk round Windsor itself, we did contemplate trying to work out how to get back to the hotel by bus, but decided it was quite easy just to walk back the way we came. I am so glad we did! Once back in Windsor Great Park, we were rewarded by the sight of the herd of deer in the park. What a splendid sight! There must have easily been about 150 deer! We couldn't get too close to them so my little camera couldn't really capture any spectacular shots but they were a marvellous sight.
Although we hadn't really intended our walking to be over the top, in the end we walked 10 miles in total. By the way, don't let all those blue skies fool you! Although we were very lucky to not have any rain, it was perishing cold all day!!
On the Saturday, we decided to walk round Windsor Great Park and also walk round Virginia Water, a very large lake at one end of the Great Park. At the start, I wasn't sure exactly how far I'd be able to walk. Although I didn't mention it, after the previous Saturday's training walk, my right ankle felt really tender and all week it had been hurting. The walk we did into Windsor was done wearing my usually footwear, not walking boots, and my ankle did not appreciate that at all! When I first put my boots on ...... it hurt!! However, I thought I'd give it a go and see how I got on and it wasn't too bad, providing I kept walking!!
As a total aside, one thing about the Park ...... I have never seen quite so many joggers as we saw over that weekend!!
I couldn't resist posting the picture below of quite a cheeky little tree we passed on our walk .......
Because of my ankle, we were not walking as fast as usual. However, we still covered 13 miles and I thoroughly recommend walking round Windsor Great Park.
On the Sunday, we went to Runnymede and walked round the National Trust pathways, visiting the Runnymede Memorial.
The photo below is of the inner courtyard.
We had a lovely weekend. Our main aim whilst away wasn't really to 'clock up' lots of training miles, although we did feel we aught to do some walking. However, we always have walked quite a lot when we are on holiday so, in the end, all the walking we did was just an extension of what we'd normally do.
So ..... 10 miles on Friday, 13 miles on Saturday and 8 miles on Sunday ..... although I did feel very tired when we did get back home!!