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Being Tourists

I'm back at work now, and my holiday seems rather far away already. My friend P came over for the final week of the holiday and we spent the week being tourists! When you live in London you don't tend to do the touristy things and I hadn't done the tourist thing since my parents brought my sisters and I to London for the week in 1987. P has never "visited" London as a tourist so we decided to spend a day visiting some proper London places.

We started by catching the Thames Clipper (easily the fastest way to travel to central London from here, £5 one way) to the Tower of London.

We were a bit put off when we first got there as it costs £17 for an adult ticket! We debated it for a while before deciding to just go for it and i'm really glad we did. When I was paying they asked me if I would like to gift aid my ticket price, so I said yes, and if you do this they count your ticket price as a donation and thank you for making a donation by giving you a special ticket that gives you unlimited access to the tower for a year for free! £17 for one visit is alot, but £17 for the year isn't so bad!

We went around the tower, over the ramparts, into the White Tower and to see the Crown Jewels. You now stand on a moving walkway to see them - I remember walking around in a dark room as a kid, now it's all very high tech! We've saved some bits of the Tower to go back and visit another time with our tickets, but really enjoyed ourselves - P especially liked the displays of armour worn by Henry VIII, including one that had glasses and horns and was very steampunk looking.

After the Tower we went to St Katherines Dock


We managed to time our visit perfectly with the arrival of some very expensive looking private yachts, and hung around to watch the docks open and close and the boats sail in. I love that kind of thing and it was interesting to see how it worked. From St Katherines Dock we walked over Tower Bridge and into Shad Thames so I could show P all the amazing balconys that the Butlers Wharf appartments have.


The balconys look like bridges between the old warehouses, you get one half of the bridge and your neighbour across the way gets the other half. Every time I walk down there it reminds me of some of the art from the album sleeve of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds.


See what I mean? After this we were pretty tired so we headed home to have Pizza and to plan what we were going to do the next day.

I enjoyed beiong a London tourist, which is kind of ironic given that the constant stream of tourists who get in your way when you are heading to a meeting and stand at the bottom of the escalator trying to work out where to go next while you are desperately trying to get off the escalator are one of my least favourite things about living in London! It's different when you know where you're going though...


Camera Case

Today I have spent much of the day sitting out on the balcony finishing off as sewing project that I started yesterday. I decided to make my Dad a camera case for Fathers Day (yes, I know, nearly a month late), so yesterday I headed off tyo get some fabric I thought he'd like and various bits and pieces I thought i'd need like some velcro and webbing. I did most of the machine sewing yesterday, and did the handsewing and finishing off today.

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, especially given that I made thet pattern up and made it out of oilcloth, which i've never sewed with before. It was much easier to sew than I imagined it would be, and gives the bag a nice finish. I deliberately chose to use the oil cloth because I thought it wouldbe good for the bag to be fairly waterproof.

It has a padded divider inside so that my Dad can store memory cards and spare batteries along with the camera, and the whole bag is padded with 2oz wadding. I debated thicker wadding but in the end I think what I used worked pretty well and it's only supposed to be guarding the camera against knocks and scrapes anyway!

The yellow top stitching is partly decorative to match the yellow belt loops, and partly to disguise the stitching on the bias binding around the edge. I made it this way because the bias binding over the edge gives the case stability which I might otherwise have to have achieved with some heavy buckram or card. It looks good but it was a real pain to stitch on the machine! I gave up in the end and stitched it together by hand, but although my hand stiching is fairly neat, the holes and odd bits of stitching that had been created by my attempt at machine stitching were noticeable, so the yellow top stitching covers that up nicely and co-ordinates well too.

I hope my Dad likes it! I'm going to stay with my parents over the weekend to attend my Uncles wedding, so I will be able to give it to him then. No posts over the weekend as my parents are on dial up(!). Am trying tyo post more regularly, especially now that i'm on holiday for a bit, so will post what i've been up to over the weekend on Monday.

It is the first day of my holiday!

Every year I take two weeks off to just chill out at home and enjoy the luxury of having more than one day off in a row. My two weeks this year started today and I have, as I told my church I would, spent most of the day in my pajamas! I did manage to get some useful stuff done - I dyed my hair, took the bins out etc etc, but most of the day was given over to relaxing.

Things I like about having a holiday:
  • Lieing in to whatever time I want.
  • Not having to plan my day unless I want to.
  • Not having to cook! (our cook left so I have been cooking for forty people for two days a week for the last month)
  • Spending time with the cats.
  • Chilling out on my balcony at the end of the day.

Things I find difficult about being on holiday;

  • Too much time to think! - Paranoia and hypochondria set in - need to keep my brain occupied tomorrow.
I also spent time today checking my cabbages for catterpillars which seem to have become a feature of my gardening experience. Catterpillars give me a rash and they eat my cabbages so are bad on a number of levels. They have only been visiting my cabbages for a week or so (I think because they have eaten all the broccoli they are growing downstairs), but have the potential to go through my crop rather quickly so they need stamping on (or dropping over the balcony) straight away. As such i check my cabbages every day for catterpillars, and greenfly and any other sign they may not be as healthy as I would like. This means that at the moment my cabbages, and in fact all my plants are doing pretty well.

The cabbages are huge, despite the catterpillars best efforts, and the lettuces and runner beans are getting really big.


See, lettuces are practically taking over the hanging basket - I might try cutting them out in the next couple of days before they start to bolt. The runner beans are so tall, they've over taken the six foot canes, climbed up a cable on the wall and are now flailking around looking for more support in order to climb even higher. I secretly hope that they will find the drain pipe and make a bid for the roof, but we'll see.

Sweetcorn - all plants doing well and appear to have cobs growing, so thats cool. Apart from the cats trying to eat the leaves the sweetcorn has been very low maintenance and so easy to grow - i'll definately try growing more of this next year. In the little trough are beetroot which got transplanted from their original place. They didn't like being dug up and moved but have pulled through and are growing well. The pepper and cucumber are also growing - they have flowers but i'm waiting to see if they grow any fruit.


Baby tomatoes! I've got loads of tiny tomatoes, so i'm really excited about those, they also seem to be growing well.

So, in general, catterpillars or no, i'm pretty pleased with how my garden is working out, and I love that my attitude to the balcony has changed. Last year it was just a bit of pavement outside my flat, this year it's become a lovely outdoor space that i enjoy spending time in.

Should be a nice place to spend some of my holiday!

Crops in pots!

I mentioned before that i'm trying to sort my balcony out. Well, i've finally got it to a pretty and acceptable state, including fully planted pots with flowers, miniture evergreens and vegetables! These are some pictures of the balcony last Wednesday when I finally finished planting everything.


Look, veg and plants and flowers in pots! It's looking quite good now, so much tidier than it used to!


Hanging baskets - they both have Lobelias and Lettuce in them, and the larger one also has a minature connifer. The Lobelias have really thirved in the baskets and in the pictures I took today are almost twice this size, as are two of the lettuces. I put these baskets up myself, and i'm proud of that - any time I use a drill I feel accomplished.

Stonehead cabbages and varied lettuces in a trough that I got down Deptford High Street for £2.50. Love Deptford High Street, you can buy virtually everything there. Also got some tomato plants in the small pot, chilli plant and frizzy lettuces in the green pot, and runner beans and clematis in the biggest pot. All have grown considerably since this photo was taken, the runner beans in particular, though getting them to climb was somewhat of a challenge.

Finally, my biggest pots. Left to right - big terracotta pot has sweetcorn in it with some carrot and onion seeds for good measure. Little terracotta pot has a lavender thatr i've had since last summer, as well as a random rockery plan. Big metal ridged tub has some heathers, some more rockery plants and a lemon scented cypressa tree (which doesn't smell of lemon at all). Little blue pot has a Golden Globe hebe - my favourite outdoor plant ever, and that last pot has a sweet pea, a cucumber and a pepper plant as well as some beetroot and spring onion seeds.

So thats it, thats my "garden". I'm pleased with the way it looks and really enjoy sitting out there and surveying my handiwork. The seeds are just starting to sprout now, so i'll put some pictures up of that next time.

I do still knit by the way....


Balcony life

One of the things I love about my flat is that it has quite a large balcony. Admittedly, it doesn't have much of a view looking out as it does over a noisy pub, a cab office, a hairdresser and a Vietnamese DVD shop, but it is nice and sunny and a good place to sit out. i recently got a new table and chairs and a cool folding washing lone and it makes the space much more user friendly.

I love the washing line. I've bought a fair few things for my house in the time i've lived here but this has to be one of the cleverest and most useful purchases of my life. I cannot recomend this washing line enough! In the photo above it has two loads of washing on it and it still has space for more (but I had no more pegs!) and it is just really easy to use.


This is the it open and closed, so you can see how neat it is. I put it up myself which was a bit of a struggle on my own (especially since it rained halfway through!) but it was worth it for the sense of accomplishment I felt at the end!

The other good thing about the balcony is how much the cats love it.

See, Muffin loves the balcony! They only go out there when i'm in the house as i'm terrified that they'll jump onto the ledge and fall off (and if you think thats unlikely for cats then you don't know my cats!) so they spend lots of time outside when i'm at home. Most of their time outside consists of sunbathing (Muffin) and diggin in my flower pots, chasing feathers, chasing leaves and running away from the sound of sirens on the road below (Purdey).

I know that this post has absolutely nothing about knitting, so just to prove that I do still knit, albeit sporadically, here is a picture of my current sock-in-progress in the pansys of my hanging basket.

I have lots of pots and flowers on the balcony which is surprising when you consider how many plants I managed to kill during my time as a student. I seem to have turned over a nrew, green fingered leaf in the last few years though, and this hanging basket is the pride of my balcony. I'm even going to try and grow some vegetables in pots!



I mentioned before that I have been trying to get things finished. I have various projects sitting around, often with very little keft to do on them, and it seemed like it would be good to try and finish a few off. I finished Paul's socks (he wore them, he liked them), and i also finished off some socks I knitted for my Grandpa. I've not sent them to him yet, but they are knitted.

I put them off because I had to use some extra yarn of a different colour for the toe and I hated that this meant they weren't "perfect". they are done now though, and the toes really don't look that bad.
Pattern Spec:
Gentlemen's Sock with Lozenge Pattern from Knitting vintage Socks
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Peacock.
Needles: 2.25mm
Modifications: Shorter ribbing than required. Reduced to fewer stitches over the foot. Ignored the random instructions about needles and did my own thing. Slip stitch heel added.

Serenity Socks

Ages and ages ago, so long ago in fact that he couldn't even remember choosing the colour, I agreed to make my friend P a pair of socks. These were worked on in a burst of activity because I enjoyed designing the first one, and then abrubtly abandoned in a fit of excitement over some new project. They remained unworked on for about a year (sorry P) until I had a phase of finishing off old projects recently.

Here they are completely finished and posted and modeled by P. I sent them as a valentines present so having decided to finish them in time about a week ago, I had to work quite hard to get them done in time to post (P has relatively large feet). Sadly Royal Mail doesn't keep to deadlines in the same way, and the socks, posted in plenty of time for valentines day on Saturday, arrived today. :(

The apparantly fit very well, though P did express some surprise over this, much to my constrenation! He did somewhat redeem himself by explaining that "hand knit socks look different, the heel looked a bit funny", so i'll forgive him for his momentary questioning of my knitting skills, as he hadn't seen a heel flap sock before.

I'm pleased with hte way these worked out, and even more pleased that P likes them. I pointed out that he now has a knitted hat, a jumper and socks, so he could wear all three together if he wanted to.

Pattern Spec:
My own - I called it "Serenity" because the cables are Firefly cables.
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug in Copperbeech
Needles: 2.5mm Purple pins
Modifications: None, it's my pattern.
I hope you enjoy wearing them P! Happy Valentines Day!

M xx


3rd post of the day - must be a record. Actually, it's a reflection of the fact that 3 years after I first got this blog, I finally learned (figured out) how to post pictures here properly, rather5 than through the rather torturous route I used to use that involved me blogging the pic from my flickr account. You'd think I would have worked this out sooner, but I didn't, and i owe the fact that I worked it out at all to Ravelry and the way you put pictures in posts there. Sometimes i'm just that dumb.

I never mentioned that I was busy making hats recently. I made a hat for my Grandpa for Christmas - I don't have any pictures of it on him, but I am told that it fits him and he is pleased with it. If he has snow anything like I have here then he'll need it for warmth, though if he does have snow thenI rather hope he's not venturing out at 89!

grandpas hat
Basic mens hat from this pattern. I made one for my Dad last Christmas so I know the pattern works and also knew it was pre-approved as Grandpa asked for one the same. Please excuse the rather poorly staged photo - I finished this at my parents house over Christmas and had to leave it there for them to give to Grandpa so I took the pic on their stairs (as you do).

Second hat is a gift for P. P has been going for lots of walks recently and mentioned (hint hint) that his head was getting cold, so I knit him this hat  to keep his head and ears warm.
p hat on cat
Yes folks, it's a hat on a stripy soft cat. The hat is cabled and knit out of Adrafiul Llama, which P liked at first but now thinks is a tiny bit itchy. He's wearing the hat anyway, because he's good like that (and because I made a huge fuss when he didn't wear hisjumper at first).
P in a hat
P in a hat doing a "thoughtful" pose.

I think it looks good on him, but I made it, so i'm biased like that. The pattern comes from "Knits to Share and Care" by the wonderful Gerard. It's a really good book, and has lots of very wearable patterns. I especially like this book because I designed one of the patterns! I never blogged about it because I wasn't supposed to put up pics of what I was knitting and i've talked before about how much I dislike blogging without pictures. This is my design:
the long and winding road
"The Long and Winding Road"
Cabled socks - Called "The Long and Winding Road" because they are designed for walkers and repersent the different twists and turns that life can take. I was very pleased with them, and super pleased to have them in the book, and it's all down to Gerard. The book has been out since December but if you've not seen it check it out cause it's really good!


I finished my first Harika sock. After quite a bit of tugging I did manage to get it onto my foot - won't be doing that again in a hurry.

It does look nice on though, so I think it will look nice on whoever gets these eventually. It also proves to me that going up to 2.5mm needles should be enough to make a pair fit. I saw a lovely pair by telynor at I Knit the other day - she made hers on 2.5mm and they would fit my feet no problems so I might make myself a pair in some pink stripy Regia I bought the other day from Web of Wool - similar set up, pink stripes, white background.

Snow snow snow snow snow

It snowed! And it didn't just snow a little bit - It was about an inch or so last night and I woke up to find Deptford covered in 8 inches of the stuff! Even Deptford looks pretty under 8 inches of snow!

Top: 9pm last night, bottom: 9am this morning. Where are my plants?

fire escape

Snow on the fire escape!

DMM in snow

The mission looks quite pretty in the snow.

Deptford snow
Snow on cars - I had to sort of wade through it to get this photo.


Looking towards Canary Wharf - you can't really tell in this photo but the Canada Tower has snow on the top.

I love the snow, I think it's magical but I might feel a bit different if I had to go out in it! I don't think i've seen snow this deep since I was quite small, certainly not as an adult. There is something about snow that brings out the child in you no matter how old you are.




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