If you’re in Cardiff tomorrow…

…come and see me at Roath craft market, on Keppoch Street in the Mackintosh Sports and Social club! We’re open for extended hours, from 9.30am until 3pm for these last two Saturdays before Christmas. And now for the two extra enticements to my stall; firstly, I am having a pre-Christmas sale! Buy one item of jewelry, and get ¬£1 off each subsequent item of jewelry purchased in that same transaction. So, you can get a very nice set of jewelry at an extremely reasonable price! Secondly (and probably more importantly) there will be a lovely big bowl of chocolates on my stall for all who pass, in the hope of generating even more smiles and lots of Christmas spirit!

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A lovely day out

Today, given the sunshine after the week (or more) of miserable, we decided to take a trip down to Cardiff Bay. This weekend has the ‘Fish and Ships’ festival down there, as well as a general food festival, so was good and busy by the time we got there.

We took a picnic, and stopped to eat it beside the Norwegian Church, which stands out on the side of Cardiff Bay with it’s crisp white paintwork.

As we walked back around the Bay we could see a couple of tall ships moored for the weekend.

We had a walk around the wetlands which is right beside the Bay, but quite well hidden if you don’t already know it’s there! There was a large selection of birds flying and swimming around, although GG was disappointed that he didn’t see a kingfisher!

After that walk, we saw the lifeboats circling in the Bay and realised that it was about time for the Royal Artillery parachutists to do their display, so we hung about to see and weren’t disappointed!

It must have been bloody cold landing in that water! I know they didn’t stay in long before pulling themselves onto the nearest lifeboat!

After the display, we were just about to head back to the car when I spotted this group of swans proceeding in an orderly fashion towards the river – maybe a swan double date?!

And finally, beside the Millennium Centre we spotted this  Gilbert and Sullivan-esque Captain with his Ship performing for the crowds Рloads of fun!

It really was a good few hours out of the house, and really hot when the wind died away. Cardiff seems to be getting better and better at organising these sorts of events – there were certainly enough people around to be able to declare today a success! Oh, and I was incredibly strong and didn’t go to the food festival. Resisting Temptation are now my new middle names!

Who knew that politics could be so much fun!!

I am having so much fun ‘debating’ on Twitter in the run up to our General Election next Thursday! Who could have guessed that I felt so strongly about things political! I think I’m holding my own, discussing the electoral presence of the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties with people who have quite opposite ideas to my own.

I may even be quite disappointed once the election is over – arguing politics is a great diversion for my brain from thinking depressed thoughts, I’ve found!

Volcano ‘fall out’

Well, the news broadcasters are in a quandary right now, trying to decide whether to talk about¬†Nick Clegg’s victory in last week’s Prime Ministerial Debate, or discuss the effects of the Icelandic volcano. I think that Mr Clegg should be impressed that he is managing to sway so much media and public attention away from this natural phenomenon which is affecting so many thousands of people and costing more industries than just the airlines millions of pounds!

I see that the pressure is mounting on the air traffic controllers to allow planes to fly once more. The news reports claiming that the dangers of volcanic ash are exaggerated are becoming more and more prolific. I can’t help but wonder if that’s simply because there is not much new to report – the ash is still up there, the airlines are still losing money and British cirizens are still stranded overseas. Or maybe it’s all to do with the blame culture in which we find ourselves living. It seems that for every bad or inconvenient thing that happens, a culprit must be found. And as the eruption and subsequent weather system that pushed the ash our way cannot reasonably be blamed upon anyone (although try telling that to the Radio 4 listener who thought that Gordon Brown should be in Iceland sorting the volcano out rather than running for re-election!), people are trying to find someone to blame for the grounded aircraft.

I don’t know about you, but if the aeroplanes started flying in twenty minutes time and were offering flights for fifty pence, I’d not feel happy about travelling by¬†air until I was as certain and reassured as possible that there are no more clouds (however thin) of ash hovering above us in the skies. Maybe I’m more susceptible to the fear-mongers than I’d like to admit, or maybe I’m not so susceptible to the blame merchants. However, it is now being widely reported that NATO fighter jets have suffered engine damage with a build up of glass in the jet engines after flying through the ash clouds. So maybe the people exercising the caution in not reopening our airspace aren’t as ‘Health and Safety’ wacky as some journalists would have you think.

However, given the state of my car every morning since Friday, the ash is settling. I gave it a good wash this morning, in company with a couple of my neighbours who were cleaning theirs at the same time. It took a lot of cleaning to shift the¬†dusty ash deposits, and it’ll probably need¬†doing again tomorrow, but I suppose I’ll have a good indication of how much ash settles overnight!¬†Journalists in Iceland are reporting that the ash plume is no longer as high as it was, and it is suspected that the eruption may be entering a new phase. So maybe a few more days will see a significant difference in the concentration of ash in the atmosphere. In the meantime, and without reliable indicators of how long this will go on, I’m very glad that those of my nearest and dearest who have holidays planned, have booked to go on a cruise!

Huge earthquake in Chile and Pacific tsunami risk

I switched the news on this morning to see that a massive earthquake of 8.8 magnitude¬†hit Chile earlier today. So far¬†sixty four¬†people are confirmed to have died, but I’d imagine this number will grow as communications are restored in the coming hours and days. There are tsunami fears across the pacific region, so eyes will be anxiously watching the coasts for a while. There is also the worry of possible aftershocks which I suppose would further damage already unstable buildings.

It feels like these natural disasters are getting more frequent. Maybe it’s just that, as an adult I take more notice or remember more of these events. But it really seems that every few weeks or months¬†there’s something else happening in the world which is causing huge distress and loss of life.

As much as we complain about the weather here in Britain, it almost feels like we have a trade off in that we don’t have the reliable summers or settled winters, but neither do we suffer the unpredictability of seismic activity through earthquakes or volcanoes. Compared to many other parts of the world, we don’t have the drastically severe weather events such as the hurricanes, downpours of rain causing landslides and flooding on a nationwide scale, or drought. Yes, we’ve had a few serious floods over the past few years, but there we are lucky that we are rich enough as a nation to recover from them. In Britain we don’t suffer the sort of huge calamities which rob people of their homes and the capacity to rebuild their lives thereafter, and for that I am profoundly thankful.¬†I only hope and pray that the people in Chile will be spared great loss of life, and that a recovery from this event can be effected quickly.

Springtime at last???

Well, today came as a pleasant surprise. I’ve given up watching the weather forecasts as they are largely unreliable and mainly gloomy! So, having become accustomed to cold, wet, snowy, cloudy (or all of the above) weather, today’s rise in temperatures and blue skies really cheered me up. Especially as I’ve not been sleeping too well for a few days, so I was incredibly tired this morning. The cheerier weather was a valuable pick-me-up.

After lunch with my in-laws, GG persuaded me into a bit of a walk before we came home. If I’m honest, the only place I wanted to be was in my bed, but I knew how much he and the boys wanted to get outside, so I made the best of it, got my camera out and enjoyed the sunshine.

Roath Park, especially the area in the photo above around the promenade and lighthouse, was very busy today. Many other people obviously had the same idea as us to get out into the sunshine. I especially love the sky in the above picture, with the gradations in colour caused by the clouds.

The sunshine made some beautiful relections in the river possible. Roath Park is split into several parts. The two main parts are where we were today. The best known is the lake part, with (I think it’s) a five acre lake, well populated with fish and the accompanying ducks, geese and swans. Across the promenade begins the other part, with the beautiful big trees, planted borders and beds, lawns and river. I think that the latter is my favourite part. The lake is very beautiful, but other than to walk around it, there’s not much more scope to enjoy it. Whereas, in the rose gardens you can watch the changing seasons pass, you can picnic on the lawns and let the kids run off some energy while you enjoy your seat on the picnic blanket, you can watch flowing water in the river and you can admire the grand old tall trees (I love trees!).

After our walk, we returned home and I set up camp on the sofa. Wrapped up in my blanket, I’ve enjoyed lots more Winter Olympic action and have knitted another repeat of the lace pattern on my Ravelympics medal attempt, Shawl of Doom. I’ve been spoilt rotten by both my children and my husband, and now I’m watching some ice dancing. Hopefully I’ll get a couple more rows knitted before bed time. I’m really hoping to finish this shawl in the next couple of days – I’m getting really bored writing about it! At least if it was a jumper I could say that I’ve done back and front and am heading up the sleeves. With a wrap it’s all about how long it is. Progress pictures won’t mean a lot, which is why there was only the one after the first couple of days!

Please, please please God, I’ll come back tomorrow and tell you that it’s finally done. And also please God, we’ll see some more of those blue skies in the near future!

We got the allotment!

I rang and made an appointment to view our potential allotment this morning, and by lunchtime I had signed the allotment agreement! I’ll have to wait a couple of days for a key to the entrance gate of the allotments, but other than that, I’m in! Hopefully next week I can make a bit of a start on preparing the ground for my crops (I do feel grown up writing that!).

Our plot is long and narrow (83’x14′) and goes down as far as that bit of corrugated metal you can see. Apparently it was worked up until last year, so the weeds are probably quite superficial. We’ve got a couple of gooseberry bushes already, as well as sage, mint and something else I can’t remember! This was originally only half of the plot, but was split into mine and the one next door in order to try to reduce the waiting list (apparently there are still 43 people waiting for a plot in this allotment alone!). Slightly unfortunately, the other half of the plot is where the shed was, so I’ll have to provide my own. However, on the bright side, I’ve got the big poles half way down my plot which will be brilliant to hold up my runner beans and sweet peas. There’s already a decent boardwalk down the left hand side, and a rough path made mainly of old carpet down the right which I hope to straighten soon (its wonkiness bothers me!).

This year, this nearest bit of the plot will have my potatoes. Then will come my miscellaneous bits and pieces before the beanpoles. Then a patch for my brassicas, and then at the far end my fruit patch will be started.

You can better see the bottom end of my patch in this picture.

Another thing I hope to get done soon is a better visual indication of where my plot ends. I’m not sure whether to go for solid fencing (probably just random bits of wood etc) or whether to use plants as borders, like lavendar etc. I’ll think that through while I make a start on my fruit patch. And, I hope that we get some more days like this when I come to start work, as it was a lovely bright day (if a little chilly!) which would be much better for my spirits than having to lift unwanted grass in drizzle!