Leaving on a jet plane

… except I do know when I’ll be back!

We waved goodbye to this gorgeous duo before 6.30 this morning and headed to the airport. As I write this we are at 38000 feet heading south west and we’re off the coast of Canada, near somewhere called Goose Bay (when I say near, obviously I mean 38000 feet above it). We’ve travelled 2200 miles and we have 2833 miles to go. It’s -50 outside. Toasty in here though.

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Obviously I’m not going to be able to post this until I get to somewhere with WiFi, but I thought I’d help pass the time by documenting the day so far. We’re on a Boeing 787, otherwise known as a Dreamliner. This is Boeing’s newest addition to their range, and, if I’m not wrong, was recently the first plane to fly non-stop to Australia from the UK.

You can tell it’s new. It’s fancy pants! The windows have a button that adjusts the tint in the glass so it’s either completely transparent, completely opaque, or anywhere in between. None of the old window shutters that you normally get on a plane.

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When we got on, the windows were all normal transparent glass but after we took off the crew activated the ambient lighting which is supposed to replicate the conditions in the time zone that you’re flying to, which allegedly reduces jet lag, so now the windows are semi-opaque. I never really get jet lag when flying west, so we’ll see what effect it has on the return journey (not that I’m thinking about that yet!)

When they activated the ambient lighting, all the lights down the ceiling of the plane changed colour. I was too busy marvelling at it and forgot to take a photo, but hopefully they’ll do it again so I can show you (update – they didn’t!)

Seatback screens are nothing new for anyone who’s flown long haul on a decent airline, but I don’t recall them having USB slots before. Fab! No need to worry about how much candy crush I play then, I can just charge my phone if need be.

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So far we’ve done quite a bit of eating (which is fine because calories don’t count up here, right?) We had breakfast in Wetherspoons at Birmingham airport (once we’d found a seat that is! Very busy airport this morning).

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Apparently it was lunchtime a while ago (I have no idea, what with being up at the crack of dawn and all this ambient lighting business) so we were served a meal. I know lots of people don’t like aeroplane food, but I really like it.

We had chicken in tarragon sauce with roast potatoes, broccoli and carrots with a bread roll. Then we had cheese and crackers and a chocolate orange ganache dessert. Yum!

Apparently we’ve been flying for four hours and thirty four minutes, and in that time I’ve been luxuriously unproductive! Lots of procrastination, faffing and generally doing entirely what I want while not having to organise, remember or be reliable. That, while I’m here, is someone else’s job, and they are welcome to it!

I have started to crochet a gift for my new baby niece who is currently incubating in utero.

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I have candy crushed all my lives several times (including changing the time to trick it into giving me more!) Level 2518 completed! (Update: levels 2519, 2520 and 2521 also completed). I’ve played a million games of traffic rush. I’m sure my high score used to be 287, but it appears to have forgotten that, so I was determined to beat 200 before I stopped.

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What else to do now? I have Red magazine from ages ago that I hadn’t got round to reading. It has Keeley Hawes on the front and I’m interested to see what she has to say about the Bodyguard (update: nothing about the Bodyguard but she seems lovely).

I have Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to read, which my best friend bought me for my birthday. I’m looking forward to this – I never read actual books anymore, unless they’re non-fiction with pictures that don’t translate well to my kindle, and this is an actual book, with pages and everything. I find the kindle easier normally because I do most of my reading before I go to sleep when I like to turn the light off to ease my eyes, so a book’s no good and also, there’s a very real risk of dropping an actual book on your face when reading lying down, and that hurts and you feel a bit silly if your husband sees! I’m going to have plenty of time and opportunity for actual book reading over the next week though. What bliss!

There’s always more eating to be done too. Apparently we get afternoon tea later! (Update: we did!)

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Think I’ll get on with some more completely unproductive things now.

We flew out over Ireland, under Iceland and down the east coast of the states. This, believe it or not, is Cape Canaveral. You can see the Assembly Building (largest single storey building in the world) if you look close enough.

It’s funny how you look on the map and think, how have we got another four hours to go, it’s only a couple of inches on the map. Then you realise those couple of inches actually constitute the entire east coast of America! America is BIG!

So as you can tell by the fact that this is published, we have now arrived. Completely exhausted but happy.

Our bags got randomly searched at the airport. The guy seemed to find my wool strangely amusing and was utterly bemused by the copious amounts of Fisherman’s Friends that hubby has (he uses them as an anti-smoking aid).

Haven’t seen much of the hotel yet but our room is lovely (and huge!)

And it has optics!!

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This could be dangerous!

And this is the view from the balcony.

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We’ve already seen a capybara in the grounds. No photo unfortunately but I have a week to remedy that. We can hear parrots outside and there are, allegedly, coatis roaming around.

Not sure if we’ll do much exploring tonight. It’s not 6pm yet here, but our bodies think it’s 11pm and we were up at 5.30am so I think bed may win over exploring.

September Little Box of Crochet

Good evening all!

I’m just quickly checking in because I’ve finally finished September’s Little Box of Crochet which I told you about here.

Oh my goodness I found this one hard, and it took a good deal of grit and determination not to have a hissy, stampy feet fit and give up!

As a quick reminder, September’s project was Gareth the Sleeping Fox.

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Gareth is crocheted entirely in waistcoat stitch which is how he got his name. Gareth Southgate, England Manager, became one of the most talked about men in the country when he dressed so snappily during every game that England played at the World Cup, always including a waistcoat.

I’d never heard of waistcoat stitch before I received my box, much less attempted it. Having googled it, I’ve discovered that it’s often called knit stitch, and it really does look like knitting rather than crochet.

The effect is achieved by inserting the hook in a different part of the stitch to normal crocheting. For any crocheters out there I’ve tried to illustrate the difference in the following photos.

The arrow on the first photo is pointing to where you insert the hook to create waistcoat stitch, right in the v of the knit like stitch. On the second photo the arrow points to the very top of the stitch and this is where the hook goes in regular crochet.

You wouldn’t think this would make much difference to the actual crocheting, but gosh it did! I almost had to resort to using a thimble because it’s so much harder to push the hook through.

Anyway. Enough of that. On to Gareth!

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Here are all his body parts before they were foxed up!

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Tail and body now attached.

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Slightly out of focus. Whoops! Foxy face stitched on.

…… and, drumroll!

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Rubbish lighting! Couldn’t decide whether he looked best with the flash, without the flash or just with the big light on! I had to go rootling around in the garden with the torch on my phone to find some nice leaves for staging purposes! Quite creepy I have to say with ghosts and ghouls still lurking around the corner from Halloween and fireworks banging around me! The things I do to try and get a good photo!

I can see a couple of little errors on the Fairisle parts (the bits with white and orange together) but on the whole I’m pleased with how he’s turned out and I’m glad I persevered.

I can’t say I’ll be rushing to do waistcoat stitch again, but I’m happy that I mastered it and have an extra string to my crocheting bow. I might find it easier using acrylic yarn since it’s not as rigid as cotton, but the downside to that is that the stitches wouldn’t look as defined.

So, onwards and upwards to October’s box and another new technique – Tunisian crochet. This one’s coming on holiday with me in four days, twelve hours, five minutes and forty two seconds. Forty one … forty … thirty nine … thirty eight …

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…. and now to relax!

This morning I was catching up on the blog posts that I haven’t had time to read this week, and I managed to get bang up to date with today’s Six on Saturday by The Propagator. You can click on the link to find out more, or join in, but essentially the rules are to write about six things in the garden on a Saturday and then comment with a link to your post on the Propagator’s post.

I’ve been busy in the garden today for what is probably one of the last times before it gets too cold to contemplate being outdoors for any length of time, and I got quite a lot done so I shouldn’t have any trouble finding my six topics.

1. I’m going to start off with the life that’s still trying its hardest to ignore the darkness and impending cold and forge ahead. I pottered around deadheading and tidying, and as I did so I came across a few plants still with buds waiting to bloom. I’m hopeful that they will, because the weather forecast is milder for the next couple of weeks. According to my thermometer it was about thirteen degrees today.

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So, my beautiful buds, and topically, there are six.

We have, starting top left and going clockwise, Cosmos which have provided a beautiful display outside our kitchen window all summer, and are still giving. You can see a few buds in the background. Then gorgeous Gazania. I don’t know if it will be light enough for this bud to truly open because Gazania are light sensitive, but I’m keeping everything crossed. Next is Gerbera. This is in a container and it has thrown up a steady stream of beautiful pink flowers all summer. This opening bud looks white, which is odd, but maybe it will change as it matures. Underneath that is Dianthus. This was a sale table find and it’s done really well. Fingers crossed this last little bud comes to fruition. Then there’s another Gazania, bright orange this time, trying to provide some colour. Finally Erysimum. Again this was a sale find and it’s actually still in its pot while I decide where to put it, but it’s flowered away happily.

2. There are still lots of flowers that are performing their hearts out and are making my own heart sing with gratitude that not everything is fading.

The top three are Begonias. These were less than half price because two of the plants in the tray were dead. Nowt wrong with these three though. On the bottom row, left to right we have fabulous Fuschia, Diascia Cherry Blossom and, of course, my ever effervescent Eupatorium. I love Fuschias. I have two and they remind me of my Grandad because they were his favourite. The Diascia was another sale table bargain which has absolutely outdone itself. Its flowers stand bolt upright at the front of our border filling me with joy as I gaze out of our kitchen window. What can I say about my Eupatorium? I just love it. I adored it before it starting flowering, but now it’s just even more wonderful.

3. Dahlias. We’ve had our first frost, and Dahlias, similarly to myself, do not like cold, much less frost. However, although this one is slightly frost bitten and past its best, it is still beautiful and definitely not needing to be deadheaded just yet.

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My wheelbarrow, however, hasn’t fared so well. RIP wheelbarrow Dahlias.

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4. Leaf mould!

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We collected two bin bags worth of leaves today. According to Monty Don, by next October this will have broken down to form the perfect compost. Monty also says that he collects every single leaf at Longmeadow to make into leaf mould. I hope he has lots of people helping him because, honestly, if I was to collect every last leaf in our garden (which clearly is nowhere near the size of Longmeadow) I’d be out there every second of the day in the Autumn! I’d also have a broken back!

5. The raised beds are in place! Whoop!

First I had to clear the area. It was covered in leaves and weeds and stones and roots! We’ve mainly focused on the front half of the garden thus far, so this end has had the most basic of maintenance so far.

Here it is before I started.

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And then after it had been cleared.

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We ran out of space in the wheelie bin so a lot of the debris has just been moved to the other side of the garden for now! Note to self: making a compost area needs to be bumped up the priority list!

Drumroll …….

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Several bags of compost now needed! I need to decide if this is their final resting place. It might make sense to put slabs around them. I’ll see. The Good Life here we come!

6. All summer when I’ve been in the garden I’ve been finding white feathers. Now I know there’s a logical explanation, there are lots of birds around, but white feathers are also said to be sent by lost loved ones as a signal to let you know that they’re watching over you. My Grandad was a keen gardener all his life. He knew everything there is to know about gardening. So, I prefer to believe the non-logical explanation for the white feathers. The only problem is, I don’t know whether Grandad comes to tell me how well I’m doing with my gardening exploits or if he’s desperately trying to tell me I need to move my Astilbe into the shade (already done – found that out the hard way!) or that my courgette plant needs staking to get the best yield (I’ll try that next year). Whatever the reason, it’s a nice feeling to think that he’s there and that he’s seen our garden, because I know he’d have loved it.

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So there you have it, my Six on Saturday.