Thursday, 27 November 2008

random acts of cake making

I now feel I can confidently explain what an emotional rollercoaster is. I've been on one. It lasted four days. I suspect I'm still on it but I'm in the flat, slightly more comfortable bit rather than the terrifyingly perillous, upside down bit.

Monday was awful, Tuesday was terrifying, Wednesday was numb and today was, well, quite nice really. I've bored my nearest and dearest friends whilst rambling quite ramblingly about all sorts of subjects. I'm either monosyllabic or chattering like a cockney barrow boy. It's all a bit exhausting.

J and I made two Christmas cakes last night. It was enormously comforting. I felt I had taught him that making Christmas cakes was a VERY IMPORTANT THING and that now there is a slight possibility that he might do so when he's living by himself in some awful flat somewhere with a storage heater and an impossibly thin and gorgeous creature. I don't remember helping to make Christmas cake as a child but I remember it being made and I remember the smell, the treacleyness and the spice.

I soaked the fruit in vast quantities of non-age-specific brandy between the hours of 6am and 6pm. E went to Brownies for an hour or so and we set to. I did the eggs and the lining and the measuring, J did the mixing. We made a 7" round cake for S and the B family and we made an enormous 10" square cake for us. I think it might last until next July.

The only drawback? I had to set the alarm at 2am to get them out of the oven. I'd forgotten how long they take to cook in a conventional oven and, of course, we have Ray the Burn. I do love Ray but despite his youth, he is not the most predictable oven and it's taken me 6 years to get used to his little ways. I settled on a plan of very long, slow cooking and based on today's observations, it worked perfectly.

Next week: spiced red cabbage.

So, apart from the cake, I've made some carrot soup, been to Stroud, knitted a hat and drank half a bottle of white wine. I've applied for a job, written another knitting proposal and started to design a leaflet for knitting classes. There's nothing like a credit crunch to get you going.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

some weeks are better than others

Not, it would seem, this one.

I am anxious and stressed and upset. I am spiralling, twittering and worrying.

I went to see the doctor and she gave me a leaflet from the world-wide-webby and told me to come and see her in a fortnight. She suggested I could phone some of the numbers on there.

During my visit we completed a questionnaire together and I had to answer whether I'd felt a particular emotion or thought a particular thought during the last two weeks:
a) not at all
b) a couple of days
c) more than a couple of days
d) all of the time.

She looked a little concerned when she asked me whether other people had noticed if I'd been slower or clumsier than usual and I answered that I hadn't noticed whether anyone had and I didn't care if they had. This lack of interest in others seems to be a symptom.

After answering ten questions enquiring about my eating, sleeping and suicidal thoughts (don't worry - haven't had any), the computer did not say 'no'. It said I'm moderately, severely depressed. I've been invited back and have been referred to see the doctor who will assess whether my mental health merits further discussion. I wondered what people who experience severe, long-term depression have to do to get an appointment with an actual, real-life counsellor? Do they have to become more depressed to get an appointment? Perhaps if we could all have the odd hour with someone who could simply listen while we sort out our jumbled head-cupboards, some of the severe cases could be avoided. Who knows?

I left with my leaflet and cried in the car. I felt a little better. In fact, I felt sorry for the doctor. I'd been her third patient. That's not a good day in the office by any standards. Who wants ladies of a certain age turning up before coffee break, crying and being stressed?

I hope her next patient was suffering from a verruca.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

post 200

It's a numbers game.....

200 posts in less than 18 months. Goodness knows how many words.

Sometimes this blogging things seems superfluous, nonsensical, pointless. Sometimes it seems useful, making me write, even if I'm writing about nothing.

I read an article today about useless Christmas presents that included: novelty mugs, exercise bikes, personalised director's chairs and hand-crafted vases. It was written by a man. I'm not sure that made a difference. I agreed with every category.

E's birthday is now finally, officially over thanks to 6 sleepover-party-friends and a lot of pizza dough. We can now look forward to Christmas. I have found this year's advent calendars (kindly provided by Granny) and bought the Celebrations (kindly provided by Grandma) for the re-usable advent calendar which requires 2 chocolates in each pocket, preferably eaten before every December breakfast.

I thought I might write a list of useless Christmas presents of my own but I thought it would be a bit miserable. I would hope that anyone able and willing to give me a Christmas present would be able to discern what I would like to receive.

I'm not sure I'm a particularly proficient present giver myself. I try to work out what the recipient of my generosity would enjoy, use and gain infinite delight from however I'm not often able to run to diamonds, bugattis and cashmere. I would love to lavish luxury on my nearest and dearest, not faux luxury but true, elegant, authentic luxury. It must be a real treat to be able to do that.

If I venture out to the high street in the run up to Christmas, I just get depressed. I think there are few things more dismal than boxed gifts of silk-effect pyjamas and fake designer goods. For every beautiful item of gorgeousness, there appears to be a raft of pale imitators, trying to cash on the look without the feel.

This year is supposed to be the year of the handmade Christmas. Mmm. I think that suits the writers of the articles who are being paid to promote such a novel and intriguing notion.

I love making stuff. I don't need to remind anyone of that. I have tried to give my handmade creations to friends and family. To ensure that the gift-giving is a success, there is one golden rule. Always make sure that you're making something they would like to use, not something they are able to be polite about.

So - 200 posts. Perhaps blogging is the same as gift-giving. You have to turn up with something the giftee (the reader) appreciates.

Will I get to 300? We'll see.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

for the birthday girl

My dear E is 8 today. We know she is 8 because she has been telling us since my birthday that she is going to 8. My birthday was celebrated as being exactly a month before her birthday. You can see where this is going.

We had a lovely breakfast when she opened her parcels and cooed and ahhed like the grateful, polite child she is. She even gave her brother a hug which, I have to say, was also received gratefully(ish).

I managed not to cry as hers is the first family birthday without my Dad. He won't be speaking to her on the phone tonight and he won't have written on her card with his tiny left-slanted writing. Granny did her proud though with a delicious, matching t-shirt and cardi and some pencils to keep her going on the colouring front. Madame E also received a very smart watch (already being displayed at school), a cd, some pollypocket (will it ever end), an indiana jones lego set and some rather smart Russian Doll hair bobbles - and the day hasn't really started yet.

I try to get my offspring to appreciate being 8 and 11. I think sometimes children always want to be older, to have freedom, to be always looking ahead. I don't know if that's our fault or whether it's a symptom of feeling young and not being able to choose that much about what happens around them. Who knows?

I know that I wish I could remember more about being 8 and 11. I have picture postcard memories, snapshots of individual and unrepresentative events up until I went to college.
I read once that you only remember your childhood if you had a bad one, so I suppose that's a good thing.

On an entirely different matter we (G&I) went out last night with S&D to see Simon Day on his first stand-up tour. He was a member of the Fast Show lot. It was a strange evening. First, the venue was at the Arts Centre in Swindon. Secondly, it wasn't full. The Arts Centre is not a big venue - say 100 maximum capacity. Mmmm. However, it was a cold Tuesday in the run up to Christmas. I'm not sure what he was expecting.

He was funny and surreal and entertaining. His warm-up was not. He hadn't washed his jeans and he moaned about Simon Day quite a lot which I thought was a little churlish.

Simon Day though was value for money. He rambled through various subjects and started off with a description of his Nan knitting, all the time, for ever which I found very interesting. He talked about growing up and dressing up as Mr T and he had everyone laughing out loud. He went off though at the interval and came back on a bit of a downer. We discovered he had a 4 week old baby girl - why would anyone want to be on tour at such a time? I don't think he does, really. He also had a bit of a wobble, remembering where he'd got to and then read a poem which although funny in parts, wasn't funny at the end. Maybe it was us. Maybe it was Swindon.

I thought I might try to email him to encourage him and apologise for the low audience figures. I discovered why he might be struggling to sell tickets. The man has no web presence at all! He's got about as many listings as I have. There's no listing of his tour, nothing. So, sorry Simon, I did try. You were great - try to keep your poetry private.

Monday, 17 November 2008

to the dark side

I wonder if it could actually be any darker - it is precisely 10 minutes to 3pm and I am off to collect E from school. I am considering taking a torch. I am at my pc (obviously!) but the lights are off. I'm in the gloooooooooooommmmmmm.

The beloved and I have different opinions on lighting - I'm a task lighting kind of gal. I like nice bright lights when I need them and a gentle, flattering glow when I don't. He seems quite able to live in gloom. I suspect he was a mole in a previous incarnation. He laughs at me when I channel the spirit of Peter Kay (and my Nan) by shouting at the kids to 'put the big light on' when they are straining to read the 894th book in some fantasy book series. He insists he has 20/20 vision. I informed him, based on a highly reliable source (i.e. some woman in the local village shop) that, apparently 20/20 vision suggests that you'll need stronger glasses faster.

I used to have glasses. I wore brown, NHS, plastic, wire-eared glasses from the age of about 7 until we moved 'down south' when they mysteriously got lost. I had them again when I did my A levels, can't remember wearing them at college and had another pair when we went travelling in the early 90s. My beloved 20/20 vision possessing then-boyfriend sat on them. On our return nearly 15 years ago, I went for an eye test. The optician said I could have glasses 'if I liked'. Do they say that about cataract operations? Do they say that about hip replacements? I haven't had my eyes tested since.

I do like a nice pair of specs though. I think I'm of an age now to wear a pair round my neck and peer at people over the top of them. The lady in the post office has a pair she bought from Matalan for about £2.50. I might get a pair and see how I get on.

Anyway - am just popping on the high-vis jacket to do the school run. Can't put the lights on yet - there's a recession you know.

Sunday, 16 November 2008


We were invited for 'strictly' and pie last night - a very enjoyable combination indeed!

I'm afraid I am not at my best-guest best at the moment but my hosts were very kind and allowed me to glug the red wine and knit my wonky sock whilst partaking in the conversation which ranged, interestingly, from stress incontinence to The Pogues!

I am a bit 'strictly' fan. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before. Even when it is at its most repetitive, the sparkles and the fleckles and the twizzling about get me every time. Some of the women are amazing - enhanced by their audacious outfits. Some of the men just look like ninnies in theirs. Who ever decided that rhinestones on a male dancer's shirt is just the thing to have?

We had a brief outing to Swindon on Saturday afternoon having dropped E off at a paint-a-pasta-pot party in one of our local (and very empty) garden centres. She and 10 other 7-9 year old girls had a marvellous time unleashing their creativity on a bowl for the afternoon. I got to buy some much-needed trainers. They're much-needed as I'm on a bit of an exercise role and much-needed as my existing trainers are covered in something unmentionable and are falling apart from the inside. A new experience for me.

So - there's no excuse now. I can take my new trainers and nip to the gym whenever I fancy in between college and teaching and generally trying to be creative. I've exercised every day this week apart from today and I must say it's making me feel a little better each time I get off my backside and do it. Let's hope it lasts.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

starting again

Thanks for your patience, if you're still coming back.

If you know me well, you'll know why I haven't been blogging.

I really don't want to blog about what's happened.

Anyway, we're all home, safe and ready to start back into the routine of work and school and pretending to be a writer/artist/whatever. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

I'm undergoing a bit of a blog sort-out. If you're of a crafty nature you might want to look at my other blog, I'm trying to be more systematic about how I blog about all the different interests I have and I need to separate them out a little.

Projectforty will be more about me and what I think about all sorts of random nonsense.
Craftdelight will be about, well, craft and creativity - knitting, sewing, embroidery, art and, possibly, macrame if I get really obsessive.

I'm also considering a blog about thrifty/green/resourcefulness.

How do I have the time? I probably don't but just pick the bits you're interested in and let me know what you think.

I do need some help though. I need some feedback and, not just lovely feedback. If you're looking here you'll be looking at other blogs too. If you see something you think might be of interest of a way of doing stuff better, let me know. I'm not proud and I'm a magpie. I'll take any ideas I can get.