Sunday, April 29, 2012

Back on my bike baby :-)

You may remember at the start of the year I posted about 'Stack and Whack'? Well they have been sat in my 'To be sewn' pile since then and I got them out again this week.  I trimmed them and laid them out and ummmed and ahhhed and now I've put them away again!

I just can't make them work for me, so they are away until a project appears that needs odd squares that really don't go together..!  It was a good learning guide and I understand a bit more about piecing fabric together - and the importance of chooseing fabric of the same variety (ie all cotton, or all linen etc) and just because I have a navy blue to use, doesn't mean I should because it won't necessarily go!!

Its been a progressive week in terms of the ongoing recovery from my back injury, and I feel like I've made a break through..  finally!!  Its a month on Tuesday for goodness sake!  I can't remember when I last mentioned it (apologies, I know its a frequent theme at the mo, but this is my blog about me so you'll just have to lump it :-) but my toe is s l o w l y getting stronger meaning I am able to run more and more.  I got on the treadmill last Wednesday and did 15 mins without gritting my teeth just to get it done and 7 of those minutes was running!!  I was delighted.  I finished my set on the vereo and my hip was very bad at the end, but fortunately it was night time and sleep fixed it.  After physio on Friday I was cleared for cycling on the road and my heart and my spirits and my very being leap for joy and I went out on my little 10 mile route on Friday night and felt like I'd come home..  but better than that, there was no pain anywhere at any point during or afterwards.  I guess that is the main difference between running and cycling - impact. My toe felt weird I admit, and I had to pedal with my heel more than the front of my foot, but hey, it was a start (another reason for trying out cleats!).  And to put the swirled cream on the top of my fancy cycling cake, I did my best ever time and averaged 13.7 miles an hour.  Whoop whoop!!  This morning (Sunday) I went to the gym and warmed up on the bike and then of the 15 minutes I spent on the treadmill, I ran for 14 of them :-) double last time and I was really pleased with myself.  I finished on the vereo before going for a swim.  The exact same combo I did last Sunday in fact, and last Sunday I took painkillers twice throughout the afternoon - today I've taken none and don't think I will.  Sigh :-)


Here is the latest on the veg patch:
The leeks are standing proud, if slim, on my windowsill. I had assumed they would get to pencil thickness quite quickly, but apparently not. I may move them to the new cold frame this week or next.
My second sewing of peas are now ginormous and ready to go outside, if anything they are bigger than the little ones already in the patch!! In front of the peas are 5 pots of newly sprout strawberry plants.
And finally finally the Harebell in honor of Niamh is making progress.  Of the 5 pots I planted 2 months ago, 3 have sprouted and they seem quite happy.
Lucy came and gave me some advice re planting and spacing etc on the patch and I have now, despite the rain yesterday, peeled back some of industrial black sacking (the soil underneath is glorious!) and planted 3 rows of parsnips in the middle, 4 rows of carrots on the right and then 7 rows of beetroot on the far right.. Hard to imagine how full the patch is going to get and how different it will look over the coming weeks and months!
She then went on to suggest I re-use the the corregated plastic that the insulation guys mutilated last week and made me a cold frame..  Absolute genius and an idea I would never ever have had!! 
 The courgettes at least are enjoying the cold frame-ness
Soya, Borlotti, Flageolet, French bean, water melon and little gem lettuce.. The amazing Lucy also pointed out that we could try and grow protein, as well as veg... Such a goooood idea!
She is very self depreciating, but anyone reading this who knows Lucy will agree that her knack for such green fingered-ness is uncanny and I am so grateful for her help.  Thank you Lucy xxxxx

Niamh is walking properly and there is no stopping her.  We went to the Vineyard annual church weekend yesterday and she didn't have a nap, so how her little body kept her up and walking all day and into the evening I don't know.. But like the gorgeous tank that she is, she just kept going.  Paul gave them all breakfast this morning, when I was at the gym, and I loved how thrilled he was that she came waddling in with the biglets when he called them to eat.  She is no longer a baby and is definitely a small child who expects to be treated the same as her big brother and sister.. well, most of the time :-)

I got an email through during the week, from the Yoga Sanctuary and it was advertising a Sacred Woman workshop -
You are a Woman, you are a cyclic being.Have you always suspected there is more to your menstrual cycle than just biology?
Ever considered there is an inner wisdom trying to speak to you through your cycle?

Sarah invites you to discover and deepen into the amazing spiritual resources of your cyclical female body:
Saturday 19th May 2.00 – 5.00pm

In this inspiring one-off workshop we will reconnect with the meaning and intelligence of the menstrual cycle as we explore how to harvest its power and wisdom.

This workshop is open to all women who are called to rediscover the Deep Sacred Feminine Wisdom within - whether you experience regular or irregular periods, whether you are experiencing the menopause or post, ALL will be enriched through the wisdom shared!

Something about it sent shivers up my spine and I have booked on..  A bit random, a bit mad perhaps, but I shall obviously report back once I've been.

And lastly, Holls, pink toes are sooooooo the way forward and I think after 4 days you agree - however secretly :-) x x

Right!  I am off!!  The weather outside is hideous and we are all set to snuggle down and watch 'cats and dogs' - very apt!  byeeee x

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Years project end!

And what a relief too!!  At Beltane last year Lucy and I decided that swapping wreaths and hanging specific bunting would be a festive thing to do to share the changes of the seasons with our children.  One year on and I have completed 16 sets of Sabbat bunting, a set for us and a set for the Triffic Tippers.  Yay me!  Rather than getting my sewing machine out as the next Sabbat approaches, I can just reach into my box of tricks.  Phew!!

I am particularly pleased with Beltane, the last one in the set, because I ingeniously made the bias binding, or ribbon, specifically to go with the lettering.  After I had told Holly that 'Ribbon makes or breaks bunting' I then discovered that I didn't have quite the right stuff in my stash, and would either need to buy some or create some.  So I made some and it worked a million times better than I dared hope!

I cut lengths of fabric 1.5in wide and sewed them together to create one continuous long strip.  I then attached a nappy pin to my ironing board and fed the strip through it, to fold it, and pressed it with the iron as it fed through..

And very satisfying it was too! It was then good to attach to the bunting, and hey presto,  Beltane was done :-)  Its perhaps not the most relevant colouring for that particular festival, but I like the checks, they make me think of picnic blankets (the check is infact an upcycled old shirt of Pauls!) and the red flower fabric has a little shimmer that reminds me of blossom and camp fires.. and above all its my favorite bunting from the set because I made the ribbon.  Did I mention that already?!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

8.5 weeks to go..

Last Sunday was pizza and jelly day again, we seem to have slipped into an easy rhythm on a Sunday and the children are enjoying making them.

We all enjoy eating them and Niamh gets stuck in with gusto!

I had a bit of a realisation at the weekend too, where I went for a run but discovered the truth that actually I can't run right now.  My nerve root is still damaged, meaning my big toe doesn't join the party.  It is getting better, it really is, but to realise I couldn't actually run, that my body just doesn't respond as it should, was difficult.  I am so frustrated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  So after a self indulgent cry I went to the gym the following day and did what I could, and boy did I pay for it, but more acupuncture and lots of stretching, meant that I did a great gym session yesterday and didn't ache nearly as much afterwards.  So with 8.5 weeks to go until my triathlon and the realisation that just finishing it at this point, rather than doing a good time, is the best that I can hope for I have booked my next bike ride!! 

66 standard miles in the 'New Forest 100' on Saturday 06th October.  Emma is doing it with me again, along with Duncan and Kay.  Paul will only have completed RAB 3 weeks earlier so he has opted out and will bring the kidlets to see me in at the finish.  To celebrate we went and looked at the bike I mentioned last time and I fell in love.  It will be mine!

Since Niamh and I put the peas out and did a bit of potting last week, it has rained none stop so I have no further updates there.

I'll leave you with a pic of my boys and their new favourite pass time!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sport or Spirit?!

I quite like starting an entry with a pic of our latest lunch box mini muffins, this weeks were chocolate with white chocolate chunks..  I made quiet a few so they should last a while.. Maybe!

We have had a good week back at school with the 'ususal' routine and the children have all settled back into 'the grind' without batting an eyelid.  Good!

I have spent the week umming and ahhing over a few sewing projects, as I always seem to do and worrying that I don't spend enough time studying. 

Paul has spent the week cycling on 'beasty' (a mountain bike/road bike cross hybrid weird combo that he put together himself and everyone said wouldn't and shouldn't work, but does!) because 'Gary' his road bike died whilst cycling the last few miles to my parents house on a long jaunt..  'Gary' has been mourned like no other bike, not least because he is (was) Paul's first road bike, but because he was paramount to Paul completing the RAB in September.  Anyway, we heard the news that it wasn't under warranty and then made the dreaded decision to fund a new bike ourselves (ouch!) when Trek (bike brand) came back and as a gesture of goodwill for RAB, offered him a new frame and fork, so that 'Gary' in a new body at least, lives again!!  This is such great news, not least because it means we can spend the funds on my first road bike :-)  This is the current fore runner Trek 1.2 2011.

Get me, excited about bikes!  Seriously though, being on a bike and clocking 35mph+ going down a hill is the closest thing to flying I think I will ever experience and I find it pretty spiritual.  There is one particular lane on my little 15 mile route and if you time it right and the light is perfect as you crest one specific little rise, then I swear its a doorway into another dimension, or plane of existence.  I've had a couple of amazing 'moments' in the last 6 months, and maybe that's just because I was outside, working hard in the fresh air, but I like to think I become my alter, more athletic ego, when I get on a bike (and I can fly!) and its a bit like that when I think about Rit- there are certain things I do and in a certain order, weirdly just like riding a bike there are certain things you do, and in a certain order and if they both produce a feeling of Spirit in me, how can I not compare them?!

If you want the honest truth, I see my triathlon training as a spiritual undertaking, where I like to think I am finding out just how far my alter ego can go - I believe the 5 sacred things necessary for all life are Earth (In triathlong terms thats running), Air (cycling/'flying'), Fire (me), Water (swimming) and Spirit (my passion to do it)..  Once you have life, you have divinity.  One day I will type out the forward written by Starhawk for the book 'The Fifth sacred thing', but I hadn't planned on this wordy detour into my mind, so I'll move back into light heartedness and ask how you like that for a ramble?

Ahem.  Right, where was I? Oh yes.  Niamh and I planted out the peas this week, 

 Her first taste of freedom in the garden, wearing the blue suit all the kidlets have worn

Below is 'The Patch'. 25m2. I didn't use it last year due to the newness of Niamh, so we covered it over in breathable black matting specific for the job to keep the weeds down. The terrific Tippers helped me dig it over last autumn and I put bulbs round the edge to inspire me this spring to get out and grow some veggies. Nearest to the camera are several rows of many types of onion and garlic, planted last autumn. Behind Niamh you can see the beginnings of a rudimentary pea support.. I'm planning on basic salad in the middle, so lettuce, rocket, beetroot, spinach and some carrots, leeks and parsnips, with obligatory courgettes at the bottom. Am considering if its too late for a pumpkin..
And in other news, my parents gifted their old computer to the children and they are really enjoying playing games and learning about 'stuff'!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Happy Sunday

You know its been an idyllic day when we make muffins and have jelly for tea!  Today has been so good, and a very welcome and happy end to a stressful week.  Nothing special has happend today, but it all just clicked and being a family of five was easy today - we lacked our usual chaos and noise and for one day I didn't mind!!  We were up early, I went for a training swim, then we all went for a fun swim (at a different pool no less!) where the biglets showed off their increasing water confidence and Niamh was thrilled to be allowed the freedom of the steps in the shallow end. Then we made pizza's and enjoyed lunch.  Paul has worked his newly mini butt off this afternoon sorting through our clutter to put what we want to keep back into the loft, now its insulated, and the children and I have cleared and sorted and we are steadily creating a pile for the tip.

The loft insulation is complete, but we have a second booking for the cavity walls in a couple of weeks after a bit of a faff with a chap who really didn't want to do the job he was being paid to do.  Never mind, the loft was the bit that had put us in uproar with stuff everywhere, so the walls can happen whenever!

You might have noticed I wrote 'training' swim earlier..  Oh yes, thats right, I have had a bit of a miracle with my ongoing (and boring!) back saga.  I went for my physio appt last Tuesday as booked, and I got so lucky with this amazing lady who seems to be qualified in all manner of things.  We have discussed many forms of 're-hab' and I faithfully did all she recommended all of last week.  I went back for a second appt on Friday (I have a third session booked for next week)and whilst I did feel better, the pain had changed, and after a bit of manipulation the lady asked if I was happy for her to give me some acupuncture therapy.  We went through all the contra indications and she decided it would help.  Now, despite my ethereal beliefs that firmly link me and my energy to the Earth as a living being (she is a woman, if you want my opinion!), I was (I'm embarrassed to say!) extremely sceptical about her description of the chinese thoughts on my chi and how these little needles could aid my healing..  Well, I am happy to say that it is amazing!  I woke up on Saturday morning and didn't feel the need to take any pain killers (I have been on the highest dose for 2 weeks).  I spent the day sewing at Holly's house, and at some point through the day I realised that I wasn't in any proper pain and I still hadn't taken any pain killers.  So here we are, 72 hours later and I am still feeling good ( ihave taken one lot of pain killers this afternoon).  Well enough to train certainly, if not quite right.  My leg feels heavy, and my foot feels weird almost like I can't trust them, but both are so so so much better to the horrendous pins and needles of the last 2 weeks.  Typically I start to feel fit just as the children go back to school and I have more time to do other than run around like a mad hen.  Ah well!
Tomatos growing strong, there are 5 plants here that need splitting and re-potting now.  I had sewn corriander in the midst too, but nothing has come up yet, which is why I'm putting off re-homing the toms..
2 monster courgettes and 3 marvellous peas, hardening off in lean too, before going in the ground.  The courgette at the back is not looking as green as it did, but given that I have no clue what I'm doing and the very fact that I manage to grow any veg at all is a miracle, I'm not worried.
Second sowing of peas and un-sprouted strawberrys.  Peas just come up so quickly!  I intend to make a third successional sewing of peas, to try and make the harvest last as long as pos, but I think I need to wait a tad longer this time otherwise it'l be glut rather than a well thought out extended harvest.
Leeks!  I've not done leeks before, but we were given some beauties from Lucy's allotment earlier in the year and I was inspired to give them a bash.  I have no idea what to expect here, so its a true experiment.

As an aside, the girls are in bed right now (its 7.15pm) and Lochie is sat with Paul as I type, and they are watching a Ray Mears survival documentary on the tv.  Ray has just explained how pine cones can stay dormant for up to 20 years and then open up once a forest fire has heated them, and so replenish the forest (You see, only a woman, aka Mother Earth, could be so prepared!).  Ray lit a fire on the tv and showed the pine cones reacting to the fire, demonstrating how the seeds would then regenerate the forest.  Lochie was so amazed (as were we!) that he got up the from the sofa and was pointing at the tv in astonishment, proclaiming he will tell his teachers this amazing fact tomorrow.  Sigh.  How can Paul and I have made this amazing little boy?

Anyway, back to random photos.  All of our Yule and Christmas decorations are currently stacked in our bedroom, waiting to go back into the loft and the pillows I made were peeking at me this morning and I remembered that I hadn't blogged them in their finished-ness.  So here you go, consider it rectified.

I'll sign off, with one more fact from good old Ray.  1/5 of all the worlds fresh water is in Canada.  Wow.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Today is Easter bank holiday Monday and my sisters' (Emily) 30th birthday, and we have been in Reading over the weekend staying with my parents to celebrate with Em and her husband, Dan. They also announced that Em is pregnant and I am so so excited!! They aren't too sure of dates, but guess she is due in the beginning of November. I am so thrilled that I get to do the whole baby thing without actually having a baby!! Emily's best friend Lisa, is also pregnant and due in 3 weeks with her second baby and between Lisa and myself, Em should get a good mix of 'normal' and slightly 'out of the box' (I refer to myself as out of the box, not Lisa!) advice and opinions.

Niamh took her first 5 unaided steps yesterday, and whilst I don't think she realised what she did, she is happy to go between people who are able to set her off and then catch her.  Lochie thinks its particularly amazing and is delighted that she trusts him enough to walk to him and that he will catch her.  The things they say and do and think just make my heart melt.  We knew she was on the verge of doing it, she has been pushing her walker and pram all week (a new skill) and then yesterday she just did it - we all missed it the first time and made her do it again before the applause broke out!

I have been busy finishing some sewing for Em's birthday.  Having seen my parents 'Old Married Dogs' she had requested a toy, and being my sister had also requested a matching sofa cushion and obviously the bunting that everyone was getting.  My work was cut out!

Paul is back to work tomorrow and the children and I are into the second week of easter half term.  Lochie and Bebe start a swimming crash course tomorrow morning, they will have a 45 minute swimming lesson for the next 4 consecutive days.  They really enjoy swimming and are both starting to show some skill so I really want them to both be ready for the next stage come September when Bebe joins Lochie in the after-school club.  No harm in trying to put them both in the same slot and making it easy all round!

I start physio tomorrow night, and to say I have been in agony this week is no exaggeration.  The pain has moved from the left hand side of my back and is now just down my left leg, mostly in the form of pins and needles.  It almost feels like there is a tourniquet around my upper thigh stopping all circulation and the pain from imagined lack of blood is unbearable at times.  I know its just a trapped nerve, but unfortunately that doesn't make it any easier and my imagination runs away with me in the early hours of the morning when I can't sleep from the ache.  I image all sorts of silly things like amputation!!  I am so motivated to get back on form and stop being in pain, let alone back to training that this physio is not going to know whats hit them tomorrow night!  My friends have been so lovely this week, from help with the children, to flowers and chocolate and dinner being cooked, we have been spoilt.  Thank you, you know who you are x x
Millicent the Mouse
Millicent with matching cushion

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Half centurian..!

The ride was great, it was just fabulous.  From the moment we arrived and turned up to registration until the very end and we got home, I loved every moment.  I have done some of life's tradionally grand moments, ie getting married, buying a house, having children and in terms of personal achievement, the ride was one of the best days of my life.  The sense of achievement as we came in at the end beats most things hands down!

Looked warmer than it was.. Brrr!
Our alarm went off at 05.30am on Sunday 01st April and we were immediately up, showered and eating breakfast.  The only slight mark on the morning was the ache in my back and the fact that there was frost on the car!  We collected Emma at 06.30am and arrived at the venue just before 08.00am.  We registered and had a brief chat with the people in the car next to us as we unloaded bikes and gear, they were an older couple and between us we were proof that both fat and old people can train to ride a bike!  It was much colder than we had thought it would be, -1C, and there was much discussion over suitable clothing, because the first couple of miles were down hill and the wind chill was likely to be killer..  Anyway, finally we were ready and we joined the que to start.  It was arranged in such a way that 15 riders set off every 2 minutes.  Those 2 minutes of waiting seemed to last an eternity, but finally we were off!

Two mad things happend immediately as we left..  The kind that with hindsight I can almost imagine happend in slow motion, but actually obviously didn't.  The first was with my back.  It always seems to come down to my silly back these days!  There were a few cables across the start line, inside a big black cable cover to make them safe and we had to ride over the teeny bump that they made.  I didn't angle myself very well and managed to jarr my back within the first half metre of the ride.  It was a different and very distinctive kind of pain, the kind that you know really isn't right and is much more than just an ache.  Pretty daunting with 50 miles ahead of you!!  Paul and I are still arguing the merits of my decision to ignore it and carry on, but carry on I did.  The second mad thing was the cold in those first couple of miles.  Going down the hills at speed was painful, there is no other word for it.  I had fingerless gloves on and to keep my fingers on the metal of my brakes for what seemed like an eternity took huge amounts of determination - more so than the decision to go with the ride after the jarr of my back.

Paul and I leading the peloton! (Emma is just behinid in yellow and blue)
Lets ignore the pain in my back for the duration of the rest of the story, once you're on a bike it kind of warms into the position you're in and is fine so long as you don't get on or off the bike!  In terms of physical fitness I felt great the whole way round, my legs were strong and at no point did I feel exhausted or desperate to stop.  Our longest training ride had been 34 miles, so I expected to get to that 34 miles and hit 'The Wall' and start to struggle, but it was fab all the way round.  There were some amazing hills, one of which was 3 miles long..  an incredible climb that just kept on going and going!!  Then of course there was the 2 mile hill we had frozen down on the way out that morning and therefore had to climb to get back to the finish line.. No joke after 50 miles!!  What was funny though, and Emma and I found it particularly hilarious was that we were coming in and finishing our 'standard' 50 miles with the first of the 'epic' 100 mile riders..  So we were coming back up the last hill with some amazingly fit cyclists, one of whom asked us how we had found it..  Cue more giggling!  Paul was amazing, as he always is on his bike.  He took the whole thing in his stride (pedal?) and on the longer of the hill climbs he kept going up and down again between me and Emma (we had become seperated) to check on us both..  So he must have done double the climb we did!
On the homeward stretch and it had finally warmed up!
The finish line was amazing, my parents had brought the children to see us in and 2 of Emma's sisters were there with her nephew and some pom poms and I don't know about anyone else, but I felt like a returning warrior and totally invincible!  At registration in the morning we were given a timing chip for our helmets and my official ride time, incuding stops was 05hrs 07mins. According to Pauls bike Garmin, which didn't include stop times, we did it in 04hrs.  We averaged 12.6 miles per hour, which astounds me given that we didn't really get above 11mph on our training rides and the size of the hills on the day!!

I am so hugely proud of myself.  Emma and I reminisced on the way home in the car about our little 9 mile bike rides last autumn and my mad suggestion to cycle in a sportiv and set ourselves a big goal.  Doesn't seem real now.  What is real is that I now want to do 100 miles.  Scrap that, I need to do it.  50 miles wasn't as hard as I thought it would be (get me!) and I know 100 miles would push me to the limit.  Thats for next year though.  The rest of this year is about triathlons and RAB, plus I'm not in a rush, the challenge will still be there when I'm ready for it.

Sadly 4 days on I'm really struggling with my back.  I have pins and needles down my leg into my foot and shooting pains down my thigh.  I can't lift Niamh and don't trust my leg to hold my weight.  I have injured my L5 (5th lumbar) disc and it is bulging onto the nerve which is creating all the pain.  I start physiotherapy next tuesday.  On the bright side I have 12 weeks until my triathlon and I now understand the joy of completing such a challenge and barring amputation or similar, there is no way I won't be ready!!