Tuesday 30 September 2014

September Happiness

Five things which made me smile this month...
1. All the truly lovely tweets, messages and cards I received after fracturing my ankle the other week.
Get Well Soon Card
2. Meeting sister-in-law's new boyfriend for the first time. When we were in Cornwall at the beginning of the month, we all met up for an afternoon in Padstow and he seems like a pretty decent chap. It was fairly obvious from the few hours we spent with them that he makes her happy and she makes him happy so I'm keeping all my bits crossed that he's around for a long time!
3. New haircut!
(obviously this was taken just after I'd left the hairdressers, I'm never going to be able to get it to look that good myself)
New haircut
4. Managing to actually pull off a mystery tour for father-in-law's birthday. He had no idea where he was going until we were about 10 miles away!
Mystery tour planning
5. Kneehigh Theatre Company's amazing show, 'Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)'
Kneehigh Asylum at The Lost Gardens of Heligan
What little things made you happy this month?

Monday 29 September 2014

This Weekend at the Duckpond

We have mostly been...
Learning - how to knit. I've got it on my '32 before 32' list and never got round to making a start but what with being laid up for 8 weeks, I thought now would be as good a time as any. I've got a vague sort of idea to make coloured bands to go round my crutches so I've started off by doing some basic knitted squares. I'll take some more pictures when I'm a bit further along with it!
Learning to knit - very basic!
Watching - Andrew and his dad try and repair our old CRT TV which had decided it didn't want to switch on. For a moment we thought we might have had to {shock horror} actually spend some money on a new TV! After about 3 hours of fiddling though, they managed to get it to work again (Andrew's dad started his working life in the 1950s as a TV repairman so he wasn't going to let it beat him!)
Repairing an old CRT TV
Relaxing - while everyone else did all the work. Andrew's mum and dad came round both days; his dad helped with the garden outside and his mum cooked dinner each night, giving Andrew a break from doing it. I mean, I would help but you know...
Roast chicken dinner
What did you get up to at the weekend?

Sunday 28 September 2014

An A-Z of Me - I

Infertility - This is probably the biggest 'I' thing that sums up my life. There's no other way of putting it: technically, medically, and all the other '-allys', we are classed as an infertile couple. It's a strange word; years ago it used to have such a stigma attached to it and was talked about in hushed tones. Personally I don't feel any shame in saying it and I'm more than happy to talk about our experiences and answer questions from anyone!

IVF and ICSI - Which brings me neatly to the next 'I'; IVF is definitely not something I would have ever imagined would be part of our lives but there it is, you can't plan what happens, all you can do is make the best of the hand you've been given. As well as being it's own type of treatment, IVF is also used as the umbrella term for a number of other different assisted reproduction techniques and the one we've had is called ICSI (which stands for the catchy name of Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) - it's the one you always see on TV, where the wriggly is actually injected into the egg. It's an amazing science and fascinating to learn about, just such a shame that our two goes at it haven't worked.

Iceland - As well as Edinburgh, if there was one place in the world I'd like to live, it would be in Iceland. I love the geography and history of the place and then when I visited for the first time (back in 2002), I fell in love with the people, lifestyle and atmosphere. I forced Andrew into going there for our honeymoon back in 2007 and luckily, he did enjoy it as well.

Ice Skating - I'd love to be able to ice skate; funnily enough Andrew actually can, for some unknown reason back in the early 90s his school took all the kids for ice skating lessons at Bristol's ice rink and he's even got certificates for his amazing skating prowess. I'm one of those people who go round the edge with their hand never more than 6 inches from the handrail - and unfortunately I don't think it's something I'll be able to improve on in the next few years now!


What 'I' things sum you up?

For the rest of the alphabet click here!

Friday 26 September 2014

Theatre Love - Kneehigh Theatre Company (and a Dead Dog)

I think I might have mentioned this once or twice before but my absolute favourite theatre company are a Cornish collective called Kneehigh. They were founded in 1980 by a local schoolteacher called Mike Shepherd and started off hosting theatre workshops before quickly moving on to bigger productions and shows, performed all over the place: clifftops, barns, village halls, quarries as well as the more traditional theatres.

Sunset over the Kneehigh Asylum

Kneehigh Theatre Asylum Dead Dog in a Suitcase

I first saw them back in 1996 at the Merlin Theatre in Frome and was amazed by the sheer talent and magic of that performance. This was back in the days pre-internet and pre-Google so you couldn’t just search online for their next show. A couple of years later I found out that my favourite teacher (my GCSE Drama teacher) was also a fan and I kept an eye out for Kneehigh's name wherever I went. Not long after I started university in 2001 they played at my local theatre in Preston with their dangerously seductive show, The Red Shoes - which I ended up seeing 9 times with the music stuck in my head for months afterwards.

Kneehigh Asylum Posters

Kneehigh Asylum Posters

I said back in 1996 and I still say now, I’m sure they must put some kind of drug in their stage smoke, the sort of drug that makes you think ‘I have to see this again’. I’ve seen 22 of their shows now, most of them more than once and the amount of times I've been to see them totals 63 (yup, I am that sad that I keep a list). I can't pinpoint exactly what it is about the company - the music makes you want to tap your toes, the attention to detail with the sets and characters makes you really get into the stories and each of their shows just has such an air of playfulness and childishness that really appeals to everyone.

Kneehigh Asylum Punch and Judy

They had a burgeoning reputation across the UK back in the late 90s anyway but it was their show Tristan and Yseult that launched them into the heady heights of theatre-elite. I was one of the lucky ones who was there the first night of the show back in June 2003 at Restormel Castle in Cornwall and again at the first night of their run at the National in April 2005. Both times I’m pretty certain the whole audience was blown away by what they’d just seen and from then on, hundreds and thousands of people have become Kneehigh fans. I’m so pleased that so many people are discovering them and yup, there is a small amount of smugness to being able to say I’ve been a fan for 18 years.
Kneehigh Asylum Billboard

Their latest show, ‘Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)’ is based on the 1728 play, The Beggars Opera – a tale of dark and dastardly deeds in the underworld. It’s a bit of a complicated storyline but Wikipedia manages to sum it up if you fancy a look. Kneehigh takes the basic plotline and turns it into a twisty turny saga of politicians, plotting, contract killers and strip clubs – very much based in modern day society and with a lot of references to what we all should and shouldn’t be doing. The only problem with it is that the majority of the audience probably already share the same views as Kneehigh, hence why they’re there watching one of their shows. Preaching to the proverbial converted!

Kneehigh Asylum

Kneehigh Asylum Dead Dog in a Suitcase

All the action takes place inside Kneehigh's Asylum (this year located at the stunning Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall) - a beautiful performance space, reminiscent of the Eden Project's biomes. It's a magical place inside and out with twinkling fairy lights, homemade cake, steaming hot chocolate and all sorts of fun and games to be had before, after and during the interval of the show.

Kneehigh AsylumKneehigh Asylum

Kneehigh Asylum

Dead Dog in a Suitcase is on at the Asylum until this Sunday (and if I hadn't fractured my ankle, this post would've been up last week) but after that, it moves to the Bristol Old Vic, without the movable feast and wonderful tent structure but still with just as much fun and excitement.

Obviously I'm biased but I'd definitely recommend a trip to see Kneehigh anytime, if you can't get to their show in Cornwall or Bristol, keep an eye out for their name around the country - and if you're even vaguely interested in theatre, then I promise you, you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Here Is The News #12

Here is the News

Firstly, thanks to all you absolutely lovely people who left me a message after Monday's post about my fractured ankle. I've got my sick note now from the GP and I've been officially signed off for 8 weeks! I can't decide if that's a good thing or not but in the spirit of staying positive, I'm gonna use it as an opportunity to do all those Internet/computer-type things that you never have time for (sorting out photos and what not).
I'm also going to try and use the time to get into Twitter a bit more - you can find me over at @duckinadress - although I can't promise anything life-enhancing, witty or intellectual!

Anyway, on to what I've found this week...

Blogland Brilliance

Two lovely ladies from Blogland started sporting gorgeous engagement rings this week - Donna from over at Polkadot Pink and Laura from ME, Michael and M.E. are both happy smiley ladies after their boyfriends proposed!

Zoe has put together a list of three ways to re-use a Cath Kidston Blackberry case - I love the pen holder idea!

Sharon is lucky is enough to be having a gorgeous black Labrador come to live with her and is on the lookout for doggie names - pop over and let her know what you fancy!

Josie celebrated 6 years in Blogland with her vintage stories over at Josie Mary.

Chloe had a quick trip into Blackpool to see the illuminations - something we're definitely planning on doing next autumn.

Chelsea had a fabulous time at Festival No. 6 in Portmeirion - she got some great pictures of the bands!

I'm very jealous, Jane went to Radio 2's Hyde Park Festival the other week and it looks amazing! We listened to some of it online and it sounded really good.

Last week Sophie started a new series called Wednesday Words - all about those little phrases we all use so often but have no idea where they come from. It's a really interesting read and you'll learn something from it too!

Anna did a bit of shopping in Matalan and came away with a load of fabulous autumn clothes - I am in love with her new scarf and her leggings aren't half bad either!

Currently Coveting
(and I know, these are so so wrong for someone aged 31...)

A raised toilet seat!

And a wedge coccyx cushion

(you also probably didn't want to know that, but hey ho, it's my blog and I do try to be honest) :-)

Interesting Info

Anyone with kids might be interested in this free bedtime phone call from a Disney character (although it's still a good idea even if you're over 18!). There's 10,000 free calls available until the end of September.

Curator Chris Wild has found a whole host of peculiar photographs from years ago and he's doing an exhibition of them up in Northumberland. I think it's a fascinating idea; some of the pictures are really strange and we'll never know the true story behind them!

My dad found this site for me - FlightRadar24 - which basically tracks all the planes (commercial and private) across the UK. We get quite a few flying over our town and you can click on each little plane picture and see it's flight path, altitude, where it's off to, where it's come from and who it belongs to (along with lots of other info). It's definitely something I'm going to dip into now and again over the next couple of months.

On Buzzfeed there's a list of 9 of the most beautiful theatres in the world; I'm quite pleased to see the Minack Theatre in Cornwall on there (that's one ticked off) and the Royal Albert Hall is there as well (which will be ticked off in December). The one I really want to visit now though is The Seebühne!

Now I thought I was pretty sad with my 'to be read' spreadsheet but this post on BookRiot is written by someone even more OCD than me - it's the ultimate reading spreadsheet - which lets you track far more data than GoodReads ever can. I'll admit though, there's a little part of me that does think 'hmm, that would be interesting to do..."

This week's Carnivals...

Take place in Shaftesbury in North Dorset (a smallish procession), Sidmouth in Devon (another smallish procession) and Wellington in South Somerset (a medium-large sized procession and the first chance to see some of the potential prize-winners of the November processions!)

What's new with you?

Monday 22 September 2014

This Weekend at the Duckpond - In Praise of the NHS

Remember the bit about Bones on my 'A-Z of Me - B' post?

And yup, remember the famous last words - "fingers crossed that I've had my fair share of broken bones now!"

Newly broken ankle

Well clearly not, as on Thursday morning last week just as I took a step off the stair outside our front door, I managed to put my foot down awkwardly, collapse in a heap (a little bit like a skyscraper so I've been told) and smash my right ankle to pieces, fracturing the tibia and fibula bones in what the doctors called 'doing a good job of it'.

Luckily we have a minor injuries unit just a mile up the road from our house so we headed up there where they x-rayed it (asking the incredibly ironic question, 'is there any chance you could be pregnant?' - which would be 'umm, no' seeing as we were due to have our little frozen embryo transferred on Friday afternoon) and confirmed that yep, my ankle was well and truly broken.

So off to the local hospital's A&E we went where I had more x-rays, a lovely doctor called Owain who gave me gas and air (which is pretty good stuff, I have to say!) while he manipulated my ankle and then I was packed off to the orthopaedics ward to spend a few nights as an in-patient.

Get well soon card

I needed an operation to fit screws and a metal plate into my ankle but they had to wait for the swelling to go down before they could operate. I went under the knife and general anaesthetic on Saturday morning, spent most of Saturday afternoon asleep or reading and then spent Sunday learning how to use crutches.

Just after the operation
The pink is just disinfectant but I do quite like the colours in this picture!

I know the NHS comes in for a lot of stick, but I can't fault the care I received during my stay, all the nurses and doctors were fabulous, explaining things in everyday language and always at your beck and call whenever you needed them.

Learning how to use crutches

I didn't think even the food was that bad - for example, Sunday lunch was roast pork, roast potatoes, gravy and for pudding, sultana sponge and custard - and all of it was very tasty. We were given tea, coffee or hot chocolate every few hours and even digestive biscuits to go with it.

Sultana sponge at hospital

My next 6 weeks are now going to consist of putting my feet up, reading lots of books, blogging (finally I have time to catch up with all your lovely comments) and generally taking it easy.

Cutting off the hospital wristband
Ceremonial chopping off of the hospital wristband!

I think Andrew's already fed up of waiting on me hand and foot!

What did you get up to at the weekend?
I really hope it was nothing at all like mine!

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Here Is The News #11

Here is the News

Blogland Brilliance

Sophie is right, there really is nothing like a Bimble birthday and it looks like he had a fabulous fun-filled day - happy birthday Bimble!

Gemma has had a ingenious idea for a travelling bloggers book - might be worth keeping your eyes open in case it comes your way!

Gorgeous girlies Leona and Chelsea went off to the brilliant Becky Bedbug's wedding snapping away throughout the day.

And Leona's little woofer, Rex celebrated his 4th birthday this week - happy birthday Rex!

Zoe asks the question 'is it too early to think about Christmas?' and I reckon the answer is no, it's never too early to start thinking about it (says the girl who buys her cards and wrapping paper in January and keeps a beady eye out for potential presents all year round).

And Jane is all about the joy of tickets - which I completely agree with, although if I kept every single ticket from all the shows and comedians we've seen, I think I'd have several boxfuls by now!

I'm quite excited for...

Thanks to a tweet from Lily, I discovered that Five Guys are opening up a branch in Bristol, plus apparently Bryon Burger and MEATliquor are moving in as well - Bristol will have more burger joints than they know what to do with!
(I'm well aware that this is all old news, I'm sure)

This week I've bought...

Andrew's Christmas present - tickets for this in Bristol in January (he says he's too busy to read me blog at the mo so putting this here should be okay)

Interesting Info

Artist Simon Beck has been creating these beautiful and ephemeral pieces of artwork on a beach near Burnham on Sea.

I never knew the UK was home to 250,000 Belgian refugees during World War I; the BBC has looked at how they disappeared without a trace.

Watch 1000 years of European history in just over 3 minutes - it's quite fascinating to see how it all changes!

This week's Carnivals...

Take place in Frome, Somerset and in Axminster, Devon

What's new with you?

Tuesday 16 September 2014

A Photo Every Hour - Saturday 13th September

Saturday 13th was the date chosen by Jane (from Is That You Darling) for September's photo an hour challenge. It also marked one year since I first took part in her challenge!
It was a day we'd been planning for months; Andrew's dad turns 74 today so we'd organised Saturday as a mystery tour for him to a place he'd been meaning to visit for about 40 years.
8am -  We were up early to take organise our stuff and pack a flask and cake. Everything was planned out, all we had to do was pick them up around 8.30am.
8am - mystery tour information

9am - On the road with the in laws and the weather's not quite as good as we'd hoped for!
9am - driving through the mist

10am -  Brightening up a bit now but we were still only about halfway to our destination.
10am - driving through country lanes

11am -  Onto the motorway for the last bit of the journey and luckily the M4 wasn't too busy.
11am - driving along the motorway

12pm - Finally we arrived at our mystery place, Didcot to visit the railway centre museum.
12pm - Didcot railway centre

1pm - Our first ride of the day was on a 1940 diesel GWR railcar.
1pm - Didcot Railway Centre Diesel Railcar

2pm -  We made sure to explore the whole site including the locomotive workshop where one engine in restoration is this one, 4079 GWR Pendennis Castle.
2pm - Didcot Railway Centre 4079 Pendennis Castle

3pm - Then it was on to the museum and archives bit where there's a striking picture of the map of what the rail network used to look like in South West England.
3pm - Didcot Railway Centre SW England Railway Map

4pm -  Last visit of the day was the air raid shelter where you can experience what it was like to be in one while the bombs were dropping.
4pm - Didcot Railway Centre Air Raid Shelter

5pm -  Back on the road again, this time doing the short hop along the motorway to Swindon to find some dinner.
5pm - driving along the M4 motorway

6pm -  Ed's Easy Diner was the other part of the mystery tour, all of us like the wallboxes and music so we put on a few songs while we were waiting for the food to be served.
6pm - playing music at Ed's Easy Diner

7pm - I had a chicken BLT and sweet potato fries for dinner and had this gooey chocolate brownie for pudding!
7pm - Ed's Easy Diner chocolate brownie

8pm - On the way home now and we drove through Bradford on Avon where there appeared to be some kind of street party going on (we later found out it was the 'End of Summer Party' at the town's Arts Festival)
8pm - Bradford on Avon at night

9pm -  Back home and unpacking our flasks and cake from earlier in the day.
9pm - flask and cake

10pm -  Then just to carry on our rock and roll lifestyle, we settled down to watch the end of Last Night of the Proms!
10pm - watching Last Night of the Proms

11pm -  And finally a cuppa and book before bedtime.
11pm - cup of tea and book before bedtime

Pop over to Jane's blog to see when the October photo an hour challenge will be!

Also, check out what I was up to in...
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