Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Excuse, Excuse

When I went for my guitar lesson last week, I had to admit that I probably hadn't picked the guitar up since my last lesson, about a month ago.
I did, however, take a list of other things I'd done, not by way of an excuse, but more to let my teacher know that I wasn't a lazy old dollop who just watched television all day. 
I was quite impressed with my list myself -

Watched lots of Olympics/Paralympics (ok, so that does count as couch potato stuff)
Visited the Olympic Stadium for athletics and been on the Emirates Airline Cable Car
Had a week in Norfolk
Had a weekend in Yorkshire, with a day at Leeds festival
Walked many miles practising for charity walk
Had two visits to Chiropractor to sort out my back before the long walk (and a reflexology session afterwards)
Walked the ten mile Starlight Walk and raised over £300 (thanks to all my lovely sponsors!)
Knitted a pair of socks, made a cushion and decorated tea towels with Pompoms. Obviously, this wasn't all essential work.
Read several books, including Death Message by Mark Billingham and Even The Dogs by Jon McGregor
Attempted to give blood, which they politely declined - enough iron for my purposes, but not theirs apparently.  Suppose I should eat more spinach and liver - ooh, unless there's iron in dark chocolate?
Been to weekly Yoga and/or Pilates classes
Had a big declutter with subsequent trips to the charity shop
Taken the sofa covers to the launderette.  Doesn't sound too time consuming does it?  But by the time they've dried, and you've managed to force them back onto the sofa, it turned out to be an all day job. It  was a bit like trying to fit yourself back into the jeans you had when you were 18.
Joined the RHS and visited Wisley
Been to work twice a week
Done lots of gardening
Tidied my studio.

Also, in addition to the above, and the usual boring stuff, I did a day's workshop run by Jean Power at my beading group, making beaded flowers.  Really pleased with the result and will make try and find time to make some more.
Finally, I went with my cousin Jean to do a one day glass fusing workshop with Karen Davies who runs
We went to her studio in Barnet, and had a lovely day learning various techniques, like cutting glass, and layering the pieces, which were later to be fired.  This is Jean pretending she's busy, but really just avoiding having her photo taken
She's making a glass panel for a door she hasn't got yet.
I made two pieces which when fired in a shaped ceramic mould will be dishes, the first one is on my usual theme
and the second was using very thin sticks of glass, which looked like coloured spaghetti
We had to leave them to be fired in Karen's kiln, but I went back and picked them up a few days ago, and I'm really please with how they turned out

Plus a little asymmetric glass pendant (yes, it WAS meant to be asymmetric) and a pair of cufflinks.  It was a really  lovely day, doing something a bit different to my usual textiles, and now we know the possibilities, I'm sure Jean and I will go back and have another go at glass fusing. 

I've got another guitar lesson tomorrow, and although I really have practised every day, I don't seem to make much progress.  I had initially seen myself as a kind of 'Erica Clapton' or maybe 'Marcia Knopfler'
At my current rate, I'll be lucky if I achieve 'Valerie Doonican'

Excuse, Excuse - The Seeds

Monday, 10 September 2012

Proud and Humble

There was only one place to be today - and it seemed that everyone in Britain was there ...
to wave, and cheer and clap
and to see the Olympians and Paralympians together
proudly showing off their medals ...

And when the athletes had gone by, there was still the fly past

Today, we can all truly be proud.

Proud and Humble - Imelda May

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Walkin' At Night

Well, it might not be an Olympic Gold, - but I'm still quite proud!

Gina and I finished our ten mile Starlight Walk last night in the not-too-shabby time of two and three quarter hours.  Although we'd put ourselves down as 'medium speed walkers' we sneaked in behind the fast walkers and we still managed to overtake quite a few of them. Consequently, we weren't too far back from the front when we finished, and as we neared the end of the walk, we were already talking about taking part again next year.
Not bad for two old birds, eh?

I'd like to say thanks very much to Gina for her company, to all the men who kindly volunteered to marshall the route, and especially to all those generous people who sponsored me, it's very much appreciated.  If you didn't get around to donating, you can still do so here -

And, as a bonus - over 22,000 steps.  Which presumably means I can eat my body weight in sweets today with a clear conscience.

Walkin' At Night - Boston

Friday, 7 September 2012


Yesterday I went to the Paralympics, to watch Athletics in the Olympic Stadium.  I can't begin to tell you what a brilliant day it was.  It was like being in a parallel Universe, where everyone is happy and friendly and just generally nice to one another.
The organisation was great, the layout of the Park was really well designed, the volunteers were cheerful, friendly and helpful to a man (and a woman), and if the toilets at music festivals were anywhere near as clean and queue-free as those at the Olympic Park, I'd book tickets for Glastonbury every year!  Even the sun shone all day.
We had fantastic seats, just 16 rows back from the track

and the atmosphere and the crowd were amazing - and we got to sing the National Anthem when David Weir won his second gold medal

After the morning session, we left the stadium and walked around the park
and admired the planting in the gardens
We went to Docklands and took the Emirates Airline cable car to Greenwich 
the views were breathtaking
and looked even more stunning after dark
The day was fabulous, and I am so SO pleased that I went
I was asked to complete an online survey about the event.  One of the questions asked me to sum up in three words how the whole Paralympic Experience had made me feel.  
My three words are not only a reflection on the whole day, but also summed up how I have felt every day that I've watched those incredible, amazing athletes - 
Proud, Humble and Inspired.
If I can't manage to walk ten miles on Saturday night - AND with a smile on my face - then I will be ashamed of myself.

HEROES - David Bowie

Sunday, 2 September 2012

These Days

Another blogging gap.  What have I been doing?  Well, I'm obviously persevering with my punishing training schedule in preparation for the Starlight Walk around Letchworth with Gina next Saturday night in aid of the Garden Hospice.  If you have recently come into money. ie, you've won the Euromillions, or have just found a few coins down the side of the sofa, and would like to contribute to a very good cause it would be lovely if you wanted to sponsor me ...
I have been out today and walked 7 miles without any problems, so ten miles next weekend should be fine.  Gina can always push me in a wheelbarrow for the last three miles if there's a problem.  
We discussed doing the walk in our pyjamas, but have dismissed the idea just in case people think we have escaped from somewhere.  Will let you know how it goes!

What else have I done?  Well, I had a few days with a friend in Berkshire, and we visited the RHS gardens at Wisley.  I've never been before and it was fantastic - so much so that I am now a fully paid up member of the Royal Horticultural Society.  How very grown up.

To redress the balance, last weekend I did something a little less middle aged, and went to Leeds Festival to see the Foo Fighters.  
I didn't go and camp for the entire weekend - that would have been a step too far.  Fortunately I have a friend Betty, who lives a couple of miles away from the festival site, so I stayed with her the night before and went with her two lovely daughters, Laura and Fiona.  I thought they would find it a bit of a pain dragging an old bird around with them, but they didn't seem to mind.
Me and Fiona
I didn't feel the need to dress up, although plenty did (no photos, but why do SO many people want to go as a banana?)

(the one in the middle who ISN'T in costume is Laura)
When I got there and saw the other 39,999 festival goers, I did feel I was very much at the upper end of the age range.  I found I did quite a lot of walking - if I sat on the grass it's difficult to get up again; and if I stand still for too long my back aches - but walking, I'm fine, so in between bands, I must have done 5 or 6 complete laps of the site.  But there's always plenty to look at - I watched this for a while but didn't feel inclined to have a go myself ...
Why would you????
There's also plenty of places to get a drink, but I managed all day on a solitary cup of coffee - and therefore I only had to visit the portaloos once - not an experience you want too many times in the day.  My companions didn't restrict themselves to a cup of coffee - but then neither would I a few years ago.

I did think that perhaps it's time I acted my age and stopped going to gigs.  But then the music starts and I realise that I just love it - the live music and the terrific atmosphere.  
All the bands I saw, especially The Mark Lanegan Band, The Black Keys, and MOST particularly, the Foos, were brilliant and I had a really great time, so maybe I've still got a few gigs left in me yet.

These Days - Foo Fighters