Monday, December 12, 2011
I know that at the start of a hobby you cannot be good at it from the beginning, but surely you need to have a flair? Something which sparks and you think 'wow I'm enjoying this, I could really get into this'. Alas, alas as yet that spark has not hit. More Edwina Curry than Alex Jones (Strictly fans, that one is for you).
I recall, when I was about 11 painting a picture of our apple tree, at the time I thought it was great, looking back, well it was a poor effort! My Mum is brilliant with arts and crafts, patience I think is important, but she does not have my dyspraxia (well I'm on the spectrum somewhere). She makes cards...I tried, I was rubbish and I got bored - and it's really expensive!
I know that people play sport, but I'm pretty bad at that too! Peter is into darts at the moment (don't ask).
I've just made some napkins out of material bought in the bargain basement....it took bloomin' hours, the sewing is not pretty - yes I used a sewing machine! The sense of achievement of creating something was overrun by the sheer joy of finishing it and not having to use the sewing machine again (why are they so fiddly?).
I like to bake, but cake makes you fat - well it does if you then eat all you create and quite frankly if I'm a-baking it, I wanna be a-eating it!
I made Peter watch Kristie’s Home Made Christmas the other night. I got inspired, I made a Christmas wreath and dried my orange slices to make my glitter decorations...but after that, really I don't think I can cope with an embroidery needle on the borrowed sewing machine (it was hard enough doing a zig zag). Also, despite it being homemade crafts it is really expensive to do all of this stuff. And I don't need shelves and shelves of nick nacks that are too bad to be given in gifts but I'm too proud of to throw away!
I tried crochet last year....does anyone want some jersey....after unpicking it all for the 1000th time I gave up!
So, with these past failures in my mind I have started to knit. Now in the past I can claim to have knitted a number of items - all straight lines though! But flushed with past success I have embarked on a knitting project. So, off I went to Jackie’s for a knitting lesson - how to correct mistakes, how to change colour, how to pearl stitch (who'd have thought it was that simple). So, I made a hat (straight edges but look at the pattern). I made another hat for a neighbour (Peter calls it a tea cosy, and it does have a resemblance).
Next lesson needs to be in how to follow a pattern, how to work out my tension (maths never a strong point) and how to decrease and increase. Poor Jackie, patience of a saint I think is the phrase!
So, my new project...it’s a throw for the bed. Straight lines again, but a nice big project to keep me going in these cold winter nights. However, a week in and I've realised just how big a throw will be - yep ffffing enormous. Two squares in.....a zillion to follow. And it's going to cost a small fortune in yarn. But I intend to keep going, just as soon as this shoulder injury from repetitive strain injury from the knitting abates!
Monday, October 31, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
So instead of the lush vineyards of Bordeaux or the stunning landscape of the Douro wine region in Portugal nor the far off general loveliness of Stellenbosch we plumped for Avelar. Not somewhere (although it pains me to say it) where you would really go for a romantic image of grape picking, complete with wine lodge and Keanu Reeves (if you've never seen A Walk in the Clouds you won't get that). No, Avelar has a good bakery, a hospital, a car show room and is the home of João, whose father in laws grapes we were about to pick.
Now, I do have to say that my knowledge of grape picking does come from the afore mentioned film - A Walk in the Clouds - a romantic image of a family picking grapes, living for the vine, large lunches under the sun, using your feet to crush the grapes and Sideways another wine film, but this includes men reaching a mid-life crisis, alcoholism and having a mental breakdown, so not something to aspire to. Alas, grape picking in Avelar is a little more perfunctionary!
a) As normal with things Portuguese, I seem to be the only girl
b) I'm grape picking with car-mechanics not Keanu
c) It's September and it's still bloomin' hot
d) No one, and I mean no one told it, it's really hard work and there are spiders!
e) Wine no longer crushed by the feet, but through a machine
f) Wine in a vat, starting to ferment looks a bit gross (not quite enough to put me off for life)
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
How spontaneous. I love it.
Well, after we'd worked out that the reason it would take 4.5 hours to get to (the Sat Nav adds an hour as once you're over the boarder the rest of Europe is on a different time, durr) we headed off to Caceres.
We're told that many an ex-pat cross the border to stock up on food and drink, not because it's cheaper really, just because it's different and there is a lot more choice. As soon as you get over the boarder (now just a sign post saying Espana, the old boarder control and tourist office a relic of the past) (in the photo), you notice a change in the landscape. Gone are the lush hills and valleys of Portugal, and hello to the vast plains and burnt earth of Spain.
This region of Spain, Extremadura was dry....I know that that the rain is suppose to stay on the plains but at 30 degrees there was no rain today. So after a rousing verse and chorus of 'The Rain In Spain' I started to notice, there cannot have been rain here for ages, the ground is hard and unyielding, you start to feel sorry for the bulls resting under the cork oak and olive trees. The cork oak trees turn red, in embarrassment, where their bark has been stripped recently to dry out and make our wine corks. But at least the fields have animals in them, our region of Portugal has a distinct lack of farming animals. Like Londoners starved of the country side we pointed out sheep, cows and hurrah donkeys!
After just 3.5 hours driving, we arrive in Caceres, the World Heritage site, no less. Well a World Heritage site it may be, but parking is still a pain in the bum.
Heading straight for a butcher, Peter began the 'great pork purchase' with a cheeky chorizo or five. But adding that hour means that all the shops were about to close, ahh yes the famous Spanish 4 hour lunch time when the whole of Spain closes. So, we did as the Spanish do - headed out for lunch.
You forget when you are in Portugal (or England for that matter), the Spanish eat differently to us, their restaurants are not sit down affairs (on the whole), but stand up tapas bars where you spend 20 mins just taking a drink and eating a tapas. Well, the beer was so cold (why can't the Portuguese get cold beers right?) served in chilled glasses (not sucked out of a bottle) that we stayed in the same place and ate some of the nicest jamon I've ever had.
We headed for the old town, where the towers from the Muslim period still stand. It was deserted...Of course it was only 3pm on an August in Spain - everyone was still at lunch! So we had the old town to ourselves more or less. Neater than Toledo, the city, set on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the plains is really impressive.
We've been told that recently the town has undergone a revamp with the main square being cleaned and repaired....well they did a good job. On top of the city looking over the plains you get a real sense of being in the middle of no where, in the middle of the plains with just land as far as the eye can see, with no other notable features on the landscape. Why put a town here in the first place - those medieval guys were crazy.
Tummy filled, heritage done, we headed for the modern equivalent of the church - the supermarket! The real point of the trip and a chance for Peter to wallow in the rows and rows of hams, cheeses and chorizos. He actually asked me to leave him alone for a while!!!
So, 124 euros down (yep we went a bit nuts) we headed home, back through the plains, across the boarder and into Portugal.
It is amazing what a mans desire for chorizo will do. 7 hours of driving for some tapas and a trip to a supermarket! But, for someone that's lived on an Island all their life (England and then Jersey) there is an element of making a trip across a boarder and driving into another country just because you can!