Friday 31 October 2014

October Happiness

Five things which made me smile this month...
1. This hot chocolate!
Hot chocolate
2. Still managing to get out and do things with my crutches and wheelchair. During October we went to two Carnivals (one of which I judged at), four theatre and comedy shows, one Carnival club meeting, one weekend away and one day trip on the West Somerset Railway.
Broken ankle at the theatre
3. Learning to knit and actually following a pattern successfully enough to knit a whole scarf (which I wore when we visited the railway).
Duck wearing her hand-knitted scarf at the West Somerset Railway
4. Being told my ankle is no longer broken and being able to put my foot in water for the first time in six weeks!
Putting my foot in water after six weeks
5. And finally, this Apple and Blackberry Crumble from the restaurant at the hospital - their standard size serving of pudding at lunchtime.
Blackberry and Apple Crumble with Custard
What little things made you happy this month?

Taking Stock - Hop-a-long Style

I haven't done a Taking Stock post for ages (my last one was February) but I've seen lots of people do them recently. So taking inspiration from Lucy's, Michelle's and Chelsea's lists, here's my current Taking Stock list, based on the fact that this time yesterday I hopped along to our local Fracture Clinic, was x-rayed and was told that my broken ankle is no longer broken - yay!

Taking Stock - Hop-a-long Style

Making...lists of food and lists of presents in preparation for doing Christmas at our house this year for 8, possibly 9 people.
Cooking...umm, nothing. Cooking and crutches don't go together very well.
Drinking...copious amounts of tea with the occasional cheeky homemade hot chocolate thrown in for good measure.
Reading...G.I. Brides by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi. be able to walk at least with one crutch by the time we go to London for my birthday in December.
Looking...forward to lots of things now my plaster cast is off; stuff like taking a proper shower, wearing tights and sleeping on my side.
Playing...catch up with editing pictures over on my other website, Somerset and Wessex Carnival Photographs.
Wasting...time trying to learn to crochet. At the moment, knitting seems far easier!
Fixing...a few different items of clothing from my mending pile.
Deciding...what to put on my own Christmas list.
Wishing...Andrew would actually make a Christmas list!
Enjoying...Cilla on ITV which we recorded the other month.
Waiting...for my first physiotherapy appointment.
Liking...the fact that I no longer have to inject myself every day - yay! long we'll have to wait before restarting our fertility treatment (my ankle has to be practically 200% healed before I'm even allowed to think about the possibility of putting any potential baby weight on it)
Loving...being able to put my foot and ankle in a bowl of hot water - very soothing!
Pondering...about how to write a particular blog post for the middle of November.
Considering...whether to make yet another scarf with the ball of glittery red and black wool I have. It would just add to the 10 or so other scarves I already own though.
Watching...the build-up to Bridgwater Carnival tomorrow night; there's pictures on Twitter and on my Facebook feed but we decided not to go (as the distance we'll have to walk is a bit much). It'll be the first time I've missed it since 1987 but I'm looking forward to seeing the whole procession at Burnham on Sea on Monday night. be able to head out to some shops soon so I can go and browse all the wool and knitting stuff. how crappy this year has been, medically speaking.
Needing...this trolley from Ikea.
Smelling...the scent of a house that's been "cleaned" by a male for the last six weeks. fabulous new 'chunky walking boot brace thingy' (NHS Technical Term).
Following....the paths of lots of planes from my living room window using the FlightRadar24 website.
Noticing...that it's got quite a bit colder over the last few days.
Knowing...that Andrew's promised to take me out for dinner tonight to celebrate getting my cast off.
Thinking...about dinner! a very small duck at times when I think about how long it'll take to walk again.
Admiring...the gorgeous bush with deep red leaves in our next door neighbour's garden.
Buying...another prescription of Co-Codamol from the pharmacy.
Getting...a bit chubbier. Six weeks of sitting around will do that for you unfortunately (at least that's another incentive to get my ankle working as quick as possible!). idea for a Christmas present for the in-laws which I'll show to Andrew when he gets home from work.
Opening...a Graze box of Summer Berry Flapjack. It is almost elevenses anyway. :-) The Revolution Will Be Televised, Russell Howard's Good News and Have I Got News For You.

Have you taken stock recently? Send me your links if you have!

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Here Is The News #17

Here is the News

Blogland Brilliance

The lovely Jenny is organising a Christmas Card Swap - you've got til 10th November to sign up.

Juliet baked a magnificently decorated Spiderweb Chocolate Cake.

SJ has a little (or not so little) announcement - excellent news for her but sad news for any of us Bristol and South West bloggers.

Candy wrote an excellent post about being three dimensional - we don't need to be pigeonholed and having lots of bits to you can only a good thing.

Lily visited Bryon Burger in Bristol - be warned, looking at her pictures will leave you hungry!

I love the way Danielle's decorated her house for Halloween!

Lisa's pictures from the Open House London weekend are stunning - I'd love to visit the Lloyd's of London building and Wilton's Music Hall now.

And Anna's all about the boobs promoting the Coppafeel campaign. I agree, we should all be checking our own more regularly!

Blogs I've followed this week...

The Fox and Furrow

Live It. Love It. Make It.

This week's Carnivals...

It's the big one this weekend - Bridgwater in Somerset - reputed to be the world's biggest illuminated Carnival procession and even as I'm typing this there's hundreds of exhausted club members across the South West working feverishly throughout the night to finish their floats. It all kicks off at 7pm on Saturday night.

On Monday evening the whole caboodle moves to the seaside town of Burnham on Sea where all the floats and walking entries do it all over again (before then moving on to another 5 or 6 towns).

Interesting Info

Go on, you know you want to - hop on over to the Woodland Trust and vote for England's Tree of the Year where you can read all about the 10 trees on the shortlist (and yep, that's actual trees, not tree species or woodlands but individual trees).

The BBC asked 'Can you cheat your way to fitness?' and it would seem that yup, we might well be able to, especially if you like gardening.

Britain is to get it's very own National Videogame Arcade showcasing the history of gaming. It's due to open in Nottingham next March.

Want to date a librarian? Read these three common misconceptions and take note on what and what not to do.

These historic pictures of Halloween costumes? No, just no.

This week I've watched...

The first two series of Spaced and I've just started watching Green Wing - both on 4oD

What's new with you?

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

Back in September (the weekend just before I fell over and broke my ankle) we went and visited one of the historic locations taking part in the Heritage Open Days weekend across the UK and the Open Doors Event in Bristol.

Years ago we went to a talk all about Clifton Rocks Railway hosted by the traction engine club we were members of at the time; it was somewhere both of us had never actually heard of and the history of it was fascinating. We always meant to visit but needless to say, never got round to it so we stuck it on the calendar and made an effort to visit this year.

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol
 Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol looking towards Clifton Suspension Bridge
If you've ever visited Clifton Suspension Bridge then you've already been just a stone's throw away from Clifton Rocks Railway; it's one of Bristol's best-kept secrets which even a lot of Bristolians don't know about.

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol
Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol - location of top and bottom stations
Opened in 1893, it's a water-powered funicular railway track buried in the stone of the Avon Gorge linking the posh area of Clifton with the paddle steamer landing ferries at the bottom of the gorge in Hotwells (alongside the road now known as the Portway). Imagine a line running between the two arrows on my improvised photo above.
You'd think an idea like that would be quite the money-spinner; saving the people of Bristol a huge journey down from the top of the gorge. Railways like that seemed to work in other places - Aberystwyth and Lynton & Lynmouth for example (in fact Clifton was funded by the same guy, George Newnes who owned the latter one) but Clifton struggled to bring in the shillings and ended up closing in 1934, just over 40 years in operation.

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol
Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

From 1934 onwards it was shut up with the four tram cars being lowered to the bottom of the tracks and just left to decay. That probably would've been the end of the story if it hadn't been for the outbreak of the Second World War which saw the tunnels brought back into life, albeit for quite a different purpose.
Which is where the railway's story gets quite interesting...

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

Firstly, in 1940 British Overseas Airways constructed an office suite in the top part of the tunnel and used it for storage. Then, after some negotiations with Bristol City Council and other organisations, in 1941 the BBC took over the bottom part of the tunnel as an emergency radio station base so good ol' Auntie could continue broadcasting if Broadcasting House in London was bombed. The middle part of the tunnel was used as an air raid shelter for local residents.
Remember that all of these people and office structures were erected and camped out on a steep incline of about 45%! So stairs had to be installed and ledges constructed so that workers could do their business and residents could shelter from the bombing raids.

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol

Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol
After the war the BBC carried on using the tunnel until 1960, by which time engineers had found the structure of the bottom railway station was beginning to crack so lots of work had to be undertaken to stabilise the gorge front and station entrance (the result of which can be seen today on the front of the entrance to the bottom station - if you look at where I've written 'bottom station' on the photo above, you can just see several vertical concrete pillars).

Something else which I found quite incredible about the whole place is that the top station is right next door to the Avon Gorge Hotel and the hotel has been involved with the history of the railway since it was first talked about in the early 1890s. The hotel used to have Turkish baths and a magnificent ballroom - and in fact, the hotel does still have them, just they're boarded up and not used. Apparently there's not enough commercial sense in reopening those two bits of the hotel which I find amazing; okay so it might not make financial sense but how could anyone leave something like this derelict?

Avon Gorge Hotel Ballroom inside

Avon Gorge Hotel Ballroom outside
This is the outside of the ballroom, all boarded up.

The current team of volunteers are aiming to preserve and restore Clifton Rocks Railway and it's wartime history and open it as a sustainable visitor attraction. At the moment they open several times a year for short tours around the top station and a small museum showcasing bits and pieces from the tunnel's time during the Second World War. These are free but donations are welcomed. You can also book onto an extended tour for £5 which will take you down the tunnel into the air raid shelters, BBC rooms and the bottom station. We only did the short tour but we'd like to do the longer one next year sometime.

To this day it still remains the only underground cliff railway in the world - definitely a place with a fascinating history!

Monday 27 October 2014

This Weekend at the Duckpond

We have mostly been...

Attempting - a little bit of crochet (not very successfully though); I got as far as doing one small line of foundation stitch, then concluded I needed to spend a lot of time watching crochet tutorials on YouTube and that for the moment, knitting is far easier!
 Wondering - what knitted items all of my family would like for Christmas?
Discovering - the tunes of Bristol-based Balkan band, Sheelanagig. I think my workplace hosted a gig by them last year so I kind of vaguely knew about them already but never actually clicked onto Spotify and listened to their music. They're pretty good!
Erecting - a large plank of wood alongside the edge of the house which eventually will become part of Andrew's lorryport. I think he's hoping to start the proper building work this weekend.
Side of house
Guesting - over at Jane's blog, Is That You Darling with a ramble through the books of my childhood.
Counting - down the days til Thursday which is when I'm back at our local hospital's Fracture Clinic to be x-rayed and if my ankle's healed, have the cast taken off - both an exciting and scary prospect. I've also had to inject myself with Delteparin every day for the last 6 weeks (to prevent blood clots) so fingers crossed I won't need to be doing that anymore after Thursday either!
(I probably should add in a disclaimer: most people don't need to do it for the whole time but because I was already taking a high level of oestrogen drugs (ready for our frozen embryo transfer treatment) that apparently means you're more at risk of blood clots hence the 6 weeks of jabs - all fun and games eh?)
What did you get up to at the weekend?

Sunday 26 October 2014

An A-Z of Me - K

First of all, just a quick note to say today I'm also guest posting over at the lovely Jane's blog (Is That You Darling) talking all about the books of my childhood (one of which involves the Labyrinth and a picture of Jareth...). We'd both love it if you popped on over and took a look-see! :-)

And so on to the next letter, K...

A-Z of Me - K

Knitting - I've been meaning to learn to knit for years but just never got round to it so breaking my ankle and having 8 weeks off work gave me the perfect opportunity to teach myself. So far I've knitted some dodgy-sounding 'crutch decorations', a little rose, a scarf, a beanie hat for Andrew and when I can get out to a shop to browse all the wool, I'd like to make some little Christmas advent bunting (a bit like this on Ravelry) to hang across the fireplace and fill with sweets.

Kneehigh Theatre Company - I imagine you're all bored of me mentioning them by now so all I'll say is that Kneehigh are my absolute favourite theatrical company. If you'd like to read all about why, you can click here and pop on over to what I thought of their last show.

What 'K' things sum you up?

For the rest of the alphabet click here!


Thursday 23 October 2014

Reasons Why I'm Not A "Proper Blogger"

Back in March I wrote a little post all about why I'm a bad blogger. While I've been off work I thought I'd hire Frozen from LoveFilm and see what all the fuss was about and it occurred to me not having watched it yet is one of the many things that would make me anything but a "proper blogger".

Reasons why I'm not a proper blogger

Here's a few more...

I've never seen Mean Girls.
And consequently I don't wear pink on Wednesdays.

All those cult TV programmes - New Girl, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and the rest - yup, not seen those either.

I've never bought anything from Starbucks, I know I'd hate a pumpkin spiced latte (mainly because I don't like coffee) and without going off at a tangent, I don't intend to ever start buying stuff from Starbucks.

Up to January this year, I'd never had anything from Lush (even now, I've still never bought anything from the shop, only had the freebies).

I don't follow Zoella, A Beautiful Mess, Sprinkle of Glitter or any of the other apparently top bloggers.

Raving about the changing of the seasons? Yeah, also not something I do (with the one exception of my Why I Love Autumn post last year which was mainly written with the intention of converting all you lovely people into ones who'd love to come and watch a Somerset Carnival).

I only own one small Yankee Candle. Two of them came into my life as part of my Bloggers Secret Santa last year; I used one and it was quite nice but didn't exactly tempt me into wanting to buy a gazillion more.

Now clearly the truth is there's no such thing as a "proper blogger" - we're all our own gloriously individual people and whatever we want to blog about is absolutely fine. I know the posts I enjoy reading the most are the ones that are unusual, the ones where someone hasn't followed the crowd or the ones where you can take a good old nosy at someone else's life.

So yup, moral of this story - err..there isn't one, just do whatever and if you enjoy it - fabulous!

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Here Is The News #16

Here is the News

Blogland Brilliance

Cat put together a list of 15 things most bloggers think about on a weekly basis - I can relate to a good few of these!

These Halloween ping pong ball pumpkin lights are pretty cool.

SJ is celebrating a bloggy birthday and has a great Dr Martens giveaway on her blog.

 Karen has some very exciting news to share with everyone!

Lots of celebrating going on over with Rhiannon as well - she's now the proud owner of a shiny fab house!

Sarah's compiled a list of 10 blogging rules you can break - an excellent list of advice!

Janet's organising her Thrifty Christmas Gift Swap again this year; I took part last year and it was great fun so I'm definitely taking part this time round. Pop over and take a look - you've got until November 17th to sign up.

Blogs I've followed this week...

Pretty Column

Just Me

The Cryptzoologist


The Butterfly Balcony

The Vintage Pattern Files

Buttercup Belle

Interesting Info

The BBC have put together a database of all TV and Radio listings from back in the 1920s to the present day. You can search a particular date or a word or name and can even find out what was on TV at the exact moment you were born. I've done mine and on BBC1 there was nothing - broadcasting didn't start til 12.30pm that day and I was born just before that!

Jenny wrote an excellent post all about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the 16 resulting personality types. She's even been very helpful and thrown in a link to a site where you can take a version of the test for free - I did it and got type INTJ which you can read all about here if you want to take a nosy.

TV programmes I've watched this week...

 I've been trawling through 4oD, ITV Player and BBC iPlayer and have watched the entire series of:
William and Mary
London Irish
Man Down
and I'm just halfway through (and very much liking) My Mad Fat Diary

This week's Carnivals...

Take place on Friday night in Salisbury, Wiltshire (a smallish one) and on Saturday night in Warminster, Wiltshire (a smallish one) and Honiton, Devon (a biggish one).

What's new with you?

Monday 20 October 2014

This Weekend at the Duckpond

We have mostly been...
Enjoying - a theatre show at the Rondo Theatre in Bath on Friday night. It was called 'Elizabeth I: Virgin on the Ridiculous' and was a great comedy romp through Elizabeth's life by Living Spit Theatre Company, one group who are well worth seeing if you get the chance. We even got given front row seats so I could prop my leg up and most of the front row audience seemed dead impressed that I'd come fully prepared!

Rondo Theatre front row seat
Smiling - after the show when the two actors (Howard Coggins and Stu McLoughlin) plus Tristan Sturrock (of Theatre Damfino, Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic fame) stopped me on the way out and asked what on earth I'd done. We then had a little bit of a mini chat which ended with them commiserating on what a stupid way it was to break an ankle and wishing me all the best for the future. I smiled all the way home!

Watching - the entries at Taunton Carnival on Saturday night. The clock is ticking now down to the big one on 1st November in Bridgwater...

Taunton carnival
Staying - at a Travelodge overnight in Taunton so we could have a day out at the West Somerset Railway on Sunday. We were given a wheelchair-friendly accessible room complete with a fabulous wet room, perfect for having a decent shower and not getting my plaster cast wet.

Travelling - on the trains at the West Somerset Railway. We used some Tesco Clubcard vouchers and took a trip from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and back again. The staff were great, helping load me and the wheelchair into the guards van and then I hopped along to a comfy seat for the rest of the journey.

Riding on the West Somerset Railway
Discovering - a brilliant little vintage shop and tea rooms in Minehead high street - Sally's Vintage Chic. We stopped off for tea and cake and were very impressed with the service, chattiness and my amazing hot chocolate!

Hot Chocolate at Sally's Vintage Chic tea rooms, Minehead

What did you get up to at the weekend?

Thursday 16 October 2014

Knitting for My Extra Legs

One of the things on my '32 Before 32' list was to learn to knit. I remember my gran teaching me when I was about 11 or so but I wasn't very good and didn't get very far at all with it. I'd always intended to get some books from the library and watch some YouTube tutorials but never got round to doing it.
Wool and knitting needles
Obviously I didn't go and fracture my ankle with the intention of having the time to actually learn how to knit but it has worked out pretty convenient.
Balls of wool
After I'd got home from the hospital and had a few days rest I got Andrew's mum to loan me a pair of knitting needles and some wool, show me how me how to cast on and do some basic stitches. I'd been given a pair of crutches on the ward and I thought knitting some simple squares in different colours would be a good way to practice as well as jazzing up my extra legs.
First row cast on
I made quite a few mistakes (ending up with extra stitches, dropping stitches and putting the wool the wrong way round the needle, that sort of thing) but luckily as I was only playing, it didn't really matter.
First square knitted
I was incredibly slow to start but by the third or fourth square I was able to watch TV or have a conversation at the same time; still nowhere near as fast as the clichéd image of old ladies going clickety-clack but getting there slowly.
Five sqaures knitted
Once I'd knitted 10 squares I arranged them in a kind of pleasing colour pattern and sewed them on round my crutches.
Ten squares knitted

Sewing the sqaures onto the crutches
I don't think they look too bad and at least at the fracture clinic, I'll know which ones are mine!
Decorated crutches
What do you think?
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