Making acquaintances.

September 30, 2012 1 comment

A Strange thing happened to me recently. Whilst at a work conference in America, I met a lady who is in the same line of work as me. We got chatting and there was an instant chemistry, and we kept bumping into each other over the course of the couple of days. On one of these occasions I noticed that she was wearing a very lovely neckerchief. “Are you a knitter?” I felt intrigued to ask, and she responded positively. It cannot be a question you are asked every day. Our mutual delight grew as I enquired as to whether it was Noro, and once again I was right. We swapped Ravelry usernames, and tentatively suggested a KAL, as well as discussed the possibility of a tour of the local yarn stores, though my trip was ending and we don’t get time.

So, Lisa, meet Daphodil – a fellow quality improvement professional, cool motorbike company worker with a love of all things yarny. A match made in heaven if ever I saw one!

We’ve kept in touch since I returned and settled upon the lovely Saroyan scarf for our transatlantic KAL. It’s something that Daphodil has made before, and its named after a character from one of my favourite TV shows, Bones, which are based on some of my favourite books by Kathy Reichs. We’re casting on on the 1st October and I’m very excited. My yarn, Manos Silk Blend is caked and ready. It’s the Indian colour way and its a gorgeous icy blue. So sophisticated and the yarn is just absolutely lovely to hold, a single ply of merino and silk.

Stay tuned for updates, this is my first KAL and I’m very excited!

In other news, I’m about a quarter through a very simple stripy neckerchief in Noro Kureyon, shamelessly copying the lovely Daphodil. I split the ball into two so as well as the fascinating Noro graduations I’m also mixing it up a little.

I haven’t been cycling as much as I would like, and sometimes I berate myself. Then I remember I hadn’t actually been home too much in the last two weeks – the first week was spent in the US where I was a delegate and a presenter at our internal conference and then last week I was giving training to 11 folks at work and then was off finally achieving my Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification, which I’m very proud of. Spinning this week and plan to continue using my folding bike before work some days.

Happy October to all 🙂

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A new addition to the family

September 15, 2012 1 comment

Lady and I are getting on marvellously. We haven’t been spending too much time together due to my schedule, but the love affair is not over. Just yesterday we embarked on a 34 mile round trip to Windsor (which I have no concept if we would have completed in one piece or not). I was delighted to be re-acquainted with my Lady, and tackled 3 of the 4 nemesis hills on the route. Not with any great style, it was mostly in 1st gear and the word ‘inhaler’ crossed my mind, but I didn’t give up and got there eventually.

Sadly, M’s new ride sustained a puncture just 5 miles in and he whisked Lady home to get the car to come to collect S and I who were waiting with the poorly bike. The words of my friend over at Mixedbabygreens rang true as we really ought to carry a spare tube, but my tyre weld was in my basket at home and his bike was brand new that day so I guess we thought it couldn’t happen to us.

We are going to attempt the trip again soon, so I will see those hills again and hopefully get to tackle the fourth – and worst – one.

But for now, time to introduce a new friend. What with working full time and having a lengthy commute, I was struggling to get out on Lady of an evening, and this was making me sad. We happened to be in a purveyors of bicycles on Saturday when I tried a folding bike, and was surprised at how nice a ride it seemed. I had bought 2 of the same 5 years previously as a gift to M and one for me to accompany him, but I hated it. Then again,I wasn’t keen on anything vaguely active.

Trying a folder at the weekend made me wonder if I could pop one in the boot and cycle either before work or during lunchtime. We’re lucky enough to have showers etc at work so I thought this daylight cycling might be the answer to the challenges of the shortening days.

And thus was born a plan to rescue Tiny, and here she is!

She is just a 16″, and quite hard work to propel if initial tests are anything to go by, and her saddle is nothing short of ouchy, but she will be a good test of whether I can make time for her. She may well be swapped out for the somewhat less diminutive 20″ version, and may be replaced by an altogether newer model, but we’re going to get to know each other for now anyway.

I’m glad that I still like cycling enough to go to the effort of this rescue, and shall check back in with a progress update soon!

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Disaster strikes

September 2, 2012 Leave a comment

I have made a grave error. An omission of such magnitude that I fear it shall never be rectified. A matter so sorry that it shall live within me for years to come, restitution never being mine.

We are on our late summer holiday, and elected to revisit a little campsite in the Champagne region of France. We visited a year ago, stayed only one night and left due to a rude receptionist, a sloping pitch and awful weather. By some chance, we ended up back here for our main summer holiday and found the reception charming, the pitch a little leveller and well, the weather, well, changeable but acceptable.

Here is my view as I write this. There is actually a lake in the background. Lac de la Liez actually.

We packed carefully over the course of a few nights. Clothes, swimming gear, bicycles and accoutrements were all stowed in their rightful places. All kinds of technology were packed away and for the more artistic side of my relaxation, I carefully selected three knitting projects and the accompanying yarn.

Some Artesano SuperChunky which is being transformed into a …. Shush … It’s a gift for a friend upon my return. My Travelling Woman project which is just a few long rows away from completion and would be fab to get off the needles. And, finally, some Posh Yarn Dorothy which is a yarn I’ve never used before and I’m very excited to try out because I’ve heard some wonderful things about it and I know there is a feeding frenzy when the Posh shop is updated, so I feel lucky to have scored some. That is destined to be another shawl, soft, luxurious around my neck and with memories of our family holiday knotted into each stitch.

So imagine my disgust, my horror, my sheer revulsion when I realised that ….

…. I have left ALL my knitting needles and accessories at home!!!!!

My entire set of Knit Pro interchangeables from 1.5mm to 15mm and everything in between, with their varying cables, cable ends, tighteners, sewing needles, pins, stitch markers – anything that I might find vaguely essential to knitting – is sitting under the coffee table at home.

I have one pair of 7.5mm tips, one cable, and 33 yards of yarn.

And 8 days and nights to fill, with this yarn just taunting me, teasing me with its unravelledness, laughing at its freedom.

Still, I have my family round me, we are in a beautiful part of the world, we have our bikes and some routes to explore, and life in general is good.

But leaving your knitting needles behind?! Really?

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Dinner in the Alps

September 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Cheese pasty, beans, coleslaw, potato salad, French bread and a lovely cuppa tea.

At the Col De Haute Croix, French Alps.

And then a night sleeping in an Aire De Camping Car, on the banks of a lake and surrounded by the most wonderful mountain scenery.


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This is why I love him … And … Simple pleasures

September 2, 2012 1 comment

My holiday joy threatened by my omission of my knitting accoutrements, my husband proved himself to be just the husband I know him to be by driving out of our way to visits perhaps the only Wool Shop in the French Alps. I had passed this shop twice before, once in summer when we visited, but we were going too fast to pull in. And on Sunday night of this holiday, when, of course, it was shut. So on Monday morning we took a detour, entirely dictated by himself, to visit the shop in the hope that they would provide the required needles, and also maybe a skein of the Good Stuff itself.

Specialising in Angora, Cashmere, Merino, Mohair and other lovelies, the shop was a treasure trove and I scored me two 50g balls of Angora/Merino blend in a gorgeous soft grey colourway. I also purchased what could just be the longest pair of bamboo knitting needles in the world ever, but at least they will be memorable and I bet you could do a small shawl on these beauties which makes up for the lack of circularness about them.

I’ve cast on some Susie’s Reading Mitts, and am converting to knit them flat which is a forced departure from my norm.

After 30 degree weather yesterday, we were about to set off on a bike ride today when the heavens opened and put paid to that idea. So we packed up the Motorhome, did what you should in bad weather in France and visited a local supermarket to stock up on provisions, including bread and pate. A break in the weather found us setting up temporary camp in a pretty little roadside area, where we stayed for a couple of hours, the sun beating down, and us eating, drinking, playing, chatting and generally being very content with our lot.

This is exactly why the Motorhome suits us, no being tied to a pitch or a hotel and we eat in fields if that is what we choose to do.

We were also amused to watch some electrical engineers (they had vans and everything) share a leisurely lunchtime game of boules which took longer than the two hours we were there, and also moved them closer and closer to the main road. It just wouldn’t happen at home, lunch breaks would be strictly one hour, or even gobbled on the run, but this group of 8 chaps seemed to be very happy with their work life balance.

And now, as I sit in the fading evening sunshine in Provence, I am going to enjoy mine, too.

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September 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday evening we were an hour inland from Nice. I was dozing in the 31 degree heat, and we were swimming in a warm pool in Haute Provence. We ate in a lakeside restaurant just before the Alps, and stayed in a lovely Aire that has made it into our list of fabulous places to stay.

And today we have visited a glacier, driven through the very busy Chamonix (where the annual North Face Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc Ultramarathon is being held), and are now safely installed in a mountain Aire at Les Houches, a beautiful ski area.

The clouds are low, or we are quite high, but there is a definite sense of being in an Alpine Ski resort, which has a nice atmosphere even in August.

I’m very grateful for our little Motorhome that daringly takes us to all these little nooks and crannies and undiscovered spots. Today we drank tea in a picnic area overlooking Mont Blanc (though the 4810 mountain) was obscured by cloud, and I am forever amazed and glad that the world is so accessible to us.

Yesterday, the Med. Today, the mountains. Tomorrow, who knows?

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September 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Sometimes I think that there really isn’t anything very exciting about our little jaunts. They are invariably to France, often to regions that we have visited before. On days of rain, which are sometimes common especially in Northern France, we often spend hours driving to our next night halt. With a youngster who lives life to the full in the daytime and is very ready for his bed by 7pm, we never go out of an evening, and an exciting night on holiday for us can often be represented by tea AND biscuits.

I doubt I will have any strong memories of this little away time, and many of our breaks feel very similar to others.

And yet, still, I’m very grateful for our times away, just me and my little family.

Not glamourous, not thrilling, not ‘all inclusive glitz’, but here are the things that I will hold dear about our time out:

– the weight of our son climbing onto me each morning at 8am, and snuggling together in the quiet without any rush
– simple breakfasts of home made yoghurt, banana and French ‘artisanal’ honey
– bike rides, summed up beautifully today by our eloquent boy: ‘there is just nothing better than being outdoors and riding our bikes, is there, Daddy?’. We only had two short rides of 6 miles each, but I’m happy to have some foreign routes on Endomondo, and our boy said it all really
– playing on the beach, burying our son’s toys as he searched for them
– French bread and butter, need I say more, yum
– cosy evenings, sharing a sleeping bag, each with a Kindle but still very together
– sharing an audiobook, a pleasure reserved for Motorhome driving only
– the warmth of the Provence sunshine
– the excitement of Significant Other at just being near a ski resort, and his joy at seeing a glacier
– sitting round a pool watching little one learn to dive
– witnessing our son getting to grips with his bike, and his pleasure at simple trips round the campsite on it, tinkling his bell to announce his arrival

Until next time, Cher France, a bientot x

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