Monday, 31 October 2011

Scavenger hunt: the October List

This has been a month with some fails and some excesses and some great opportunities for pics on holidays. I definitely lucked out on a few, overcompensated on others and completely failed on one!

Here we go...

Eerie: this one needs sound really. It's a sculpture at the Eden Project in Cornwall which catches the sound of the wind in 100s of tubes and amplifies it. Very eerie indeed.
Mist: On our way to the English Riviera! Who stole the sunshine?
River: the estuary in Looe (still misty)
Sunset: or rather, just after sunset, again in Looe

Heritage: Scrabble - hasn't changed for years, no matter how frustrating it is!
Golden: a sculpture from the fantastic Barbara Hepworth Museum garden in St Ives. I highly recommend it, even better than the Tate.
Pumpkin: hanging in my nephew's school hallway
Graffiti: quite a stylish one, as graffiti goes! On the door of Cinema City in Norwich.

Witches hat: FAIL
Witches broomsticks: success! Big basket of multicoloured ones at the Eden project shop
Black cat: Jester, our black and white cat hiding his white bits behind a chair (see below for other options!)
Crunchy leaves: on our walk to the paper shop. Can't believe how quickly these have started building up.
Candle lit: for a Sunday roast.

Extra black cat options:

All rejected for various reasons
First was out of focus and made Jester look angry, which he never is
Second is one of my favourite pictures but reeeeealy hard to light
Third was someone else's cat and I just couldn't bring myself to use him and not Jester
Fourth had too much white fluff and I had to crop his ears off

Aren't black cats supposed to be lucky??

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Number 36: Apple identification

It is a family tradition to go to our local Apple Day event at the Gressenhall Workhouse Museum in Norfolk. Not sure which of us heard about it first, but we have not missed a year since it really got going and have seen it go from strength to strength.

One of the big 'sells of Apple Day' was always the apple identification team who would take a look at the apples that grew on a random tree by the side of the road / end of the garden / next-door. There is always a queue for this, although we have never before needed their services.

This year, however, Mum produced an apple from her handbag as we walked in, that she had picked up in the garden of a 16th century cottage in Hampshire, while they were on holiday. Double good news - we can get in the queue of folk with mystery apples PLUS I don't have to join in with the wassailing to get a 'first'. Result!

The identifiers clearly take a pride in their work and the queue moved slowly forward. It isn't an exact science at all and I have a feeling that unless you have an obvious Bramley, there is always a bit of head scratching. It turned out that ours didn't help by having no foliage and having gone a bit rotten in the middle. However, we had a Lord Lambourne. I think. I should have written it down..!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Gallery: Faces

This is one for The Gallery photo challenge.
I like this one because I could delve in the photo archives and I knew exactly the picture I was looking for.

This was from a walk we did years ago on a beautiful summer day. We were ambling along looking for a picnic spot only to find our way blocked by this...

Funnily enough, this is one stile we decided not to climb over and retraced out steps!
All they were doing were looking, but they were doing it so very seriously...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Number 35: Parkrun

I am very pleased there aren't any pictures of this one!

On Saturday I joined in our local Parkrun, which is a free timed 5k run that's open to anyone to join in. It's important to say for starters that I am most definitely NOT a runner and in the past I have used a large variety of excuses to stay out of a pair of trainers. I have done a few Race for Lifes (with no training at all) so I know I can move my feet faster when sponsorship is involved, so in principle I should be able to do it for my own benefit too, right? Hmmm...

The problem that I come up against every time is that fitness only works if you get into a routine of working on it regularly, otherwise you just get all of the pain and none of the gain. For some reason I hate running from home as it is all roads, junctions and dodging cars, and also not much fun when the nights start to draw in. But isn't it defeating the object to drive somewhere to do some running? Haven't I laughed at people who drive to the gym to spend an hour on a running machine, then drive home?

On the face of it, Parkrun seems designed for people like me. It is free; it's non competitive; it's timed each week, so you can see if you make progress; it's open to all comers; it's just far enough away for me to need to drive rather than walk so I don't feel too lazy. I have a friend who has been a regular for a while and was very encouraging, saying that the 150+ runners who go regularly are a friendly bunch and that the organisers wouldn't pack up and go home before I wobbled over the line.

So I grabbed the last parking space at 10 to 9 on Saturday morning and followed the stragglers to the pavillion at Eaton Park, just in time to see 200 gathered runners turn to face me and start moving towards the start line. My rapid retreat was possibly the fastest pace of the day!

The course is three laps of the Park, which is mercifully quite flat and on wide pavements. I found a place at the back and got started, falling into pace with two very friendly ladies who had also only been to a few races before. Like me they were not 'runners' but enjoyed the fresh air and exercise at the start of the weekend, and had both seen their times improve over around 10 events.

I continued with one of them for two laps, then had to run/walk the last lap to ensure I crossed the line on my own feet rather than on a stretcher. I was actually quite pleased that I kept a mooch/jog pace for as long as I did and think that one of my first targets will be to keep it up for the whole 5k.

From which you can tell that I would like to go again. I hesitate to get too over enthusiastic and say I'll be a regular, but I'll definitely be back. The only real downside was a general feeling that a lot of the people there were proper runners, using Parkrun as a benchmark for their training. But, other than being lapped by a lot of people, there was no sense of disadvantage at being a beginner, or being treated differently by the organisers. On the contrary, when I logged my time (second from last) the lady who registered me was really supportive, even though at the time I must have looked like my most significant achievement was survival.

My time? 37 minutes and 20 seconds. In fact, my Parkrun personal best :-)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Number 34: scaffolding at Rigby and Peller

This might be far too much information for some, but it's on the list because it felt like a 'once in a lifetime' type thing that was also a bit spoily rather than scary, which a lot of once in a lifetime things seem to be.

If you haven't spent as many hours watching Trinny and Susanna as me, Rigby and Peller is the corsetiere to the queen, kind of the undercrackers equivalent of a Saville Row tailor. They sort out all kinds of cleavage problems, so I reckoned they wouldn't mind seeing if I was going hugely wrong with my M&S guess-timated sizings (and hopefully have some hints about how to reverse the effects of gravity).

I was planning a day in London anyway and managed to persuade the lovely ladies to have lunch in Chelsea, making it easily possible to plan an appointment with R&P in their Kings Road store. I tried to avoid eating too much for lunch although why on earth I thought  a bra-fitting lady would care about whether I'd had too much macaroni cheese I have no idea!

The appointment itself took about 45 minutes and I was helped by a really lovely lady who didn't laugh once when advising me I had been wearing bras 3 cup sizes out. I then tried lots on before settling on one to buy. I had hoped to get a couple, but the sudden realisation that ALL of my bras now need replacing meant the budget had to stretch much further than I had thought... Bit like my old bras really.

In all, I think it should be on everyone's to-do list. If you already have the right size, then it is still great to have advice on the styles that work best. 

And if you wondering where we had lunch, we went to Tom's Kitchen, the restaurant run by Tom Aiken, of Saturday Kitchen, other TV fame. Another one to be recommended and 5 minutes walk from R&P :-)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Number 33: stand 100 feet above a rainforest

Anyone who has been will know exactly where I am talking about!

No, I haven't been away to the Amazon for a few days and nor have I been flying low over a drizzly Nottinghamshire. I have been down to Cornwall for a few days and had a great day at the Eden project.

I went once before when it had only been open for a couple of months and it was mainly biomes with baby plants and freshly dug beds. So I didn't really expect to get a 'first' out of it to be honest. However they have added this little gem:

It's a platform suspended by cables from the top of the rainforest biome.

We spotted it as we wandered in and saw a sign saying it was closed due to atmospheric conditions. Slightly worrying, but it turns out that there must be a member of staff up there and if it is too hot it isn't safe for them to be up there any length of time.

It opened later in the afternoon though, and we ventured up. The walkway is scary enough, as it swings about just enough to make you wonder how normal it is. But the platform is downright terrifying. It moves A Lot as it is just suspended by cables from the roof, and with 20 people up there it is constantly in motion.

The views of the forest in the biome are amazing, but to be honest I spent more time looking at my feet...

Yes, there are tiny people on the ground beneath me. 
It was all just a little bit unnerving!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Film 2010: Exit Through the Gift Shop

New film review done and dusted.
It's a goodie.

Click on the Film 2010 tab at the top to see it in full!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Kate Takes 5: 5 Worst Dates

I wrestled with whether to do this one or not, but it's too funny not to! Here's the link to find more...

The Blind Date
I didn't stop, I just kept walking. I feel bad.

Virtually No Personality
My one ill-advised foray into online dating. After a few 'fun' emails, I caught a train (an actual whole train) to meet Mr Online. He had so humungously photoshopped his photos that I think even the speedboat he was pictured on was ripped out of the FT How To Spend It magazine, he had forgotten to bring his 'great personality' and was shorter than me (I'm a munchkin). I made up an early train that I had to be on because I had reservations and ran for the hills...

Six-dates-and-still-on-the-other-end-of-the-sofa Man
Also known as mixed messages man. After each date with no moves I expected never to hear from him again, but then the calls and texts kept coming. Eh?

Mr Tall meets Miss Small
Less a date and more a 'oh-my-christ-did-that-really-happen' moment. It was a school disco and I was asked to dance. Good news, you're thinking, not a wallflower. Not so much...
It was by the very tall older brother of one of my friends. I have mentioned I'm a munchkin, haven't I? I am certain we created a highly humorous picture for 100 fifth years at my school, and as a perpetual wallflower I had nothing in the witty banter box labelled 'dancing with a tall man' that I could shout up to his altitude, over a George Michael number. I am cringing at the thought...

The Future Husband
On our first proper date I picked him up in my car and was driving up to a (very slightly) complicated junction. Despite having crossed said junction before many times I was so very distracted that I tried to go round a traffic island intended for an entirely different exit. Quite fast.
Thankfully there were no other cars in the area and someone with a tendency to endanger illuminated bollards wasn't on his not-in-a-million-years list. But I have never been so mortified in my LIFE. Other than when I told a Vice Chancellor that I had a pedestrian crossing in my living room, but that's a different story!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Scavenger hunt: the September list

I'm typing fast and trying not to look at the date as I know I am late *again*.
I hope the scavengers can forgive me...

We've just got back from a long weekend away which took up the last few days of the month and before I left there were a shamefully large number of shots still to take. I'm very relieved to say - here they are!

Apples: as scrumped from a friend's garden. Soon to be stewed and frozen for winter crumbles.
My workspace: it's been a sewing month rather than a writing month so here is my
(artificially tidy) sewing table
In my bag: a collection of conkers that come out with my keys
Harvest: 1kg of crabapples = 2 jars of jelly. What did I do wrong??

A pile of stuff: debris that we shouldn't have had to move
Relaxation: two Minis, tents, wine and Scrabble. And relax...
Something taller than me: the dreaming spires of Oxford
The football season: or the new FIFA game (terrible phone shot - sorry!)  

Back to school: a wonderfully empty car park at Bicester Village Retail Outlet
Phone box: with too much sun
Road sign: the old one at the end of the road. Anyone for Thetford?
A view from above: from the top of the Cathedral in Norwich