Thursday, 25 June 2015

Endorphins and Siesta's

Hello! I'm so excited I just had to pop into blog-land and tell you all that I managed to complete Week 3 of NHS Couch to 5k and am buzzing on the endorphins. OK now, it is not my third week of running but I feel delighted with myself for getting this far and feel so much fitter.

So, this week or stage involves:
  1. 5 minutes of warm-up walking
  2. 90 second run
  3. 90 seconds of walking
  4. 3 minute run
  5. 3 minutes of walking
  6. repeat sections 2.- 4.
  7. 5 minute brisk wind-down walk.
So, written down in unforgiving black and white that lot looks quite easy, well I have to admit, now the 90 seconds of running are! A few months ago I could not run for more than one minute without feeling as though my lungs were going to burst and my eyes were to detach themselves, now not a problem. I'm annoying blasé, in fact. Until it comes to the three minute run that is, I'm feeling the force of gravity now all right, I'm feeling my own weighty mortality in fact but somehow me and the dog get to the end of the run. We get to the end of that run, three times this week. Running with the dog is such a fantastic laugh, her jolly lolling grin as she trots alongside me is so sweet and when we go running in the fields off-lead she bounces through the corn like a mad golden lion.

The experience of the endorphins are very strange -not having tried any strenuous exercise before apart from hill walking -I am quite surprised at the strength of the elation that accompanies the end of the running, this occurs for me in two stages. Once immediately after completion and then after about an hour or so I feel again completely energized and am strongly compelled to go out and do it all over again! Weird. Ok, so come the evening I am completely shattered but it is a good sense of tiredness, of contentment almost.

Last week myself and some of the Crazy Dog Ladies accompanied by assorted dogs, children and husbands got up at the hideous hour of 2am and ventured out into the wilds of Co Meath to 'do' the Tara Dawn Run, a 4k run starting at 4am around the beautiful mystical and historic Hill of Tara, seat of the High kings of Ireland. So, the idea is, starting in the dark you race around the hill finishing up as the morning sun illuminates the valley beyond. We didn't run so much as potter around while the kids threw grass at us and each other, my dog stopped to eat all the sheep pooh and M's dog stopped because he didn't want to walk without my dog and S chatted and I tried vainly to take lots of photos in the dark! Great fun and all for a good cause. I hadn't been to this amazing place before and oh my goodness it is so beautiful and there is a bookshop close by! I cannot wait to go back. Maybe I will even run it next year...

This week the kids are finishing up school and for O, last days at his after school crèche, so it has been a bit hectic at times, sorting out last minute thank-you cards and presents, summer play-dates, and baking for the end of term functions. Our Principle is retiring and moving abroad which is very sad as he has been in the role since the school opened - just seven years ago and we have seen the school expand from 62 students to 375 for the forthcoming academic year. We wish him well.
Do you give Teacher's presents? I used to give cut flowers or sweets but this year I wanted to give something that was more sustainable and when I spotted these pretty Dahlias in the market I bought a couple. Very inexpensive, just add some tissue paper and tie with raffia and with a bit of TLC they should come back every summer. Tah Dah, a nice reminder of the little angels (ahem!) that gifted them.

So, instead of adhering to the List of Jobs that was supposed to be completed before the kids are set loose - jobs like painting all the woodwork and deep cleaning the kitchen and finally booking my driving test. I have instead been indulging myself with a couple of hours of reading, crocheting and watching old movies and the odd few minutes of siesta time. Oh, the luxury of being able to close ones eyes for a few minutes and day-dream in peace and quiet! I wanted to show you some pictures of the progression of O's Autumn Sunburst blanket but it has gone so dark and grey here it is impossible to take any photos now. The blanket was inspired my the colours in this walk and the first few circles photographed here.

I will leave you with some of the less (sic) blurry pictures from the Hill of Tara. Bye for now! xxxx

Friday, 12 June 2015

Rest and relaxation.

Well hello! It is so nice to be back with you again after what feels like a very long time. It has been just over a week since my very last Open University exam and only now does my poor head feels like it is getting back to normal or what I perceive to be normality anyway! The exam was a mixed bag all right, I think I did relatively well in the first two questions but on the third part my mind just went blank. It didn't help that I could barely hold the pen straight as I was trembling so much.

Thank goodness, I have one last module to take next year which is all on-going assessment so if I do badly in the History exam my degree classification will not be unduly affected. I was left with the feeling that to assess in three hours; a whole year's worth of  analysis and synthesis of 20th century history AND all the many historiographical debates and controversy's that surround the events of such a tumultuous century is quite unfairly demanding. Ouch. I did manage to have a chuckle in the wonderful Oxfam Books on the vibrant Botanic Avenue, Belfast the afternoon before exam day though. Look who was sharing the top shelf:

However for the very first time in five years of Open University study I was left with a curious feeling of anti-climax and disorientation. My nights punctuated with dreams of redoing the exam with bleeding fingers and my days ran slow with lethargy. So when feeling like this I always turn to the kitchen:

Green herby soup.
Food for the comfort of the bruised soul.
Fresh parsley, chives and spring onion.
Garden peas, celery and broccoli,
whizzed up with home made chicken stock, crème fraiche and perhaps some flaked almonds for the top. 
Then I finish all the niggley unfinished projects that have been hanging around:

Two A-line skirts finally finished and while not perfect sewing by any means, I made them and I have been wearing them with pleasure. The flowery one is the deconstructed skirt used as a toile and was the source of much annoyance for the Rookie Sewer. The denim fabric was purchased in the excellent Paragon Fabrics also in Belfast a little treasure trove of fabric to dye for. Paragon fabrics is conveniently next door to this amazingly chaotic junk/antique shop which is just crammed with good treasure hunting possibilities.
After I had bought the fabric above, I gingerly stepped in and as I carefully explored I heard someone come down the stairs and go out to stand outside in a haze of cigarette smoke. It was the proprietor, small of stature and dirty of mac, he was coming back in as I was leaving.
'Oh no!' he exclaimed when he noticed me, 'I thought you were the ghost!'
'Really?' sez me, 'I'm not surprised you have a ghost.'
'Yes', said Himself, but it is a Man Ghost. I wouldn't entertain a Lady Ghost.
'No', retorts (a slightly indignant I) 'She would probably make you organise your shop. And get your duster out. I do like those Bristol blue bottles there...'
The next critical stage of recuperation is to Go Outside:

This is the way in to our walk in the fields. The ground is hard and dry now and the barley (?) makes the most beautiful rustling in the wind.

Across the golden meadow.

A carpet of bee buzzing clover.

In some of the fields, the maturing grain is slowly turning to gold and is waist high. There is a beautiful hot-dry fragrance of the grass and the dog picks out choice morsels to eat.
We return home and do a little gardening with the children:

Plan our next sewing journey:
I can't wait to get started with these fabrics, aren't they cute! (Again from Paragon) The blues are for E's quilt, and the butterflies are going to be Pj's for her. Do you remember Holly Hobbie? The most excellent Star Wars fabric was also going to be pyjamas, this time for O but according to the shop they are nearly on their last metre of this and may not get it again so I might persuade his to have pillow cases. He won't grow out of those.
The final stage in our restorative journey is to curl up with a good book and a beautiful thrifted collection is sometimes the most satisfying. I'm just mad about vintage children's books and I was so pleased to have found these ostensibly for E. I think the covers are stunning and the stories sound so imaginative. 'Oh dear Mammy!' said E, upon presentation of these books, 'They are very old-fashioned, like something you would read.'
Looks like everything is back to order and balance! :)
It really feels like proper summer now. What are you all looking forward too over the next few months? xxx