Plans and optimism

Thank you all for letting me be so self-indulgent here recently. I’ve been alternating between miserable and happy like a weathervane in a buffetting storm, and it must be quite hard for some of you to keep up. Today alone I’ve veered at least three times!

However, I’ve come to an important conclusion. January and February are stupid months to try to change my eating habits, and so I’m postponing my conscious dieting until March. I shall keep on trying to exercise more, and I’ll think more about what I eat, trying to get more fruit and veg into my diet, but I’m not calorie counting or anything until March.

I’ve decided that the fewer things I have to stress about in my life the better. There are several things which I can’t do anything about, but those that I can, I will. And dieting is one of those.

Speaking of exercise, did I mention that I went on a (for me) long walk at the weekend? I’m hoping to have another long walk this weekend, so long as the weather isn’t filthy. Eventually I’ll build up to jogging, but one step at a time. Perhaps that’s something else I’ll get to in March!

January though, is just for me. And spring cleaning. I made a good start today, and with my three free days next week I’ll press on some more. February will be a planning month, I think, easing myself into productivity, then hopefully by March I’ll be back in full flow.

Also, by the end of March my sister-in-law will be half way through her pregnancy, and then I will be thinking about crafting for my new niece or nephew!

Plans for the weekend? A little exercise, some visiting relatives and croissants for breakfast – sounds good to me!

To be, or not to be?

The writer in me has lost focus, drive and determination recently. To be honest, the knitter, dyer, housekeeper, cook, seamstress and communicator in me has lost focus, drive and determination recently. Since the bout of flu I had before Christmas, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time ruminating and cogitating over what the next step should be.

New Year, then, brought more energy but even less will to achieve. I have my goals for the year, but not the impetus to start working towards them. And so I have spent my time in reflection. Learning from things which weren’t very good last year, hoping to do things better in the year to come. I know that January 1st is just another day, but in my mind, as in the minds of so many others, it is a natural turning point, a logical place to stop and take breath, to evaluate what has gone before and what will come next.

My ‘next’ is to lose weight. So much of my self confidence is stupidly tied up in how I look. I hate the vanity of that, and I wish I were only losing weight to become healthier in the long term, but I’d be fibbing if I didn’t admit to donning the trainers with the thought of how I’d look in my holiday photos if I continued to do nothing. A stone down from my heaviest already, I’d like to finish this year at least a stone lighter again. In my current less than optimistic frame of mind, it feels unlikely, but I am a person who needs something to hope for, so this is my hope for this year.

But back to the beginning. My original premise was that my inner writer has lost the will to extend out through my fingers and into this blog. It has been months and months since I wrote regularly. I used to enjoy it, and find it soothing. I think if I made myself write, even a few words a day, maybe I’d come to enjoy it again. But I live in fear of my blog becoming nothing more than an advertising feature for my business, or a self-indulgent forum of ‘look at me and what I’ve done! Isn’t it wonderful?’ type posts. For me, my best blog posts have been written when I have thoughts in my head, bursting to get out and onto the page. Or when something happening in the world inspires me with thoughts and opinions which I just long to share with other people. Yes, most blogging is essentially self-indulgent, writing as many of us do for ourselves rather than to cater to others. But ‘in real life’ I don’t think I’m the sort of person who jumps up and down shouting about how wonderful I am, so why would I do that here? Sometimes, I’ll admit, I’m proud of something I’ve made, and so I post a picture. And sometimes, what I’m making or doing is part of the story I’m telling and so it’s incorporated that way. But on the whole, when I write I do it to catalogue and process my own thoughts and opinions and feelings.

I’ve noticed for some years now that I suffer from a form of winter depression. It varies enormously in intensity, and whilst it doesn’t often prevent me from doing very much, I don’t want to socialise (tonight being a prime example – I really don’t want to go to my knitting group and yet I know from experience that if I force myself, I’ll probably enjoy it once I’m there) and will quite often go into my own head and not really know the way out. Last night is a prime example. I became miserable (for the lack of a better word) in the early evening, and then stayed miserable despite my excellent husband’s best efforts to cheer me. There was absolutely no reason for my misery, and the remnants are with me now. I’m sure that someone who hasn’t had to deal with this sort of thing would say that I should just push through it, keep busy and it’ll pass. But I hope that others who have regular blasts of ‘the blues’ will understand when I say that I couldn’t do anything. I have a large knitting project to finish, and without any exaggeration, I sat with a darning needle in my hand for well over an hour, unable to bring myself to touch the garment, before admitting defeat and putting the needle down. Something my friend Jo said in her last post struck a chord with me. Boldly paraphrasing, she said that trusting that she will get better eventually is what she hangs on to. Which made so much sense to me, because it’s what I do throughout every rainy, grey winter month we have, until the spring warmth and sunshine bring the smiles and rationality back to me once more.

Long term readers will notice that I usually have pictures of the first snowdrops up. In retrospect, this is clearly me looking forward to the spring and my winter blues disappearing for another few months. Interestingly, I was as happy as a sandboy when we had snow, so it’s not the actual time of year, but more our British dark, dull, dreary winter days which cause such chaos in my brain.

Well, without actually wanting to wish my life away, bring on the Springtime. May April be here in a jiffy, and winter misery be a thing of distant memory.

I’m off out now. Apparently the thing to do is to get outside in the fresh air when you feel low. Although I doubt the efficacy of fresh air when it is punctured by drizzle and a distinct lack of sunshine. But I’m feeling the need to search for signs of snowdrops.

The season of lethargy

I’ll be glad when Monday is here and we’ve seen the back of another January. Actually, if I’m honest, I’ll be glad when four weeks from Monday is here and we’ve seen the back of the two most miserable months of the year.

I definitely think that nature intended me to be either a hibernating creature or one who should live in a warmer climate. I don’t feel the pull of nature on crisp winter days to get outside, interact with frozen earth and bare, ghostly looking trees and watch my frozen breath emerge in clouds from my mouth, taking with it all of my inner warmth (not that I had much in the first place). My love affair with nature is definitely dormant until nature itself wakes up and starts doing interesting things. And even then, being fickle, I want LOTS of interesting things, all at once. Snowdrops are nice, and really do cheer me up. But until I see hordes of smiling daffodils nodding in a mild March zephyr, new leaves forming on trees, daisies growing prolifically in the grass outside my front door and, most importantly, a high enough temperature on the thermometer to warrant leaving my scarf and gloves at home, the only place I want to be is in the corner of my sofa, wrapped in a snuggly blanket with a big mug of steaming tea to my left hand side.

The allotment will force me to go outside, which is good. I know that the fresh air and the occasional drip of vitamin D from the occasional wavering ray of sunshine will be beneficial. And at least I am forced out twice a day to do the school runs. But when Springtime comes, when it’s not actively uncomfortable to be outside, I love to be out.

However, we’ve got a good four or five weeks of making our own happiness before Nature catches up, so on Monday I’m going to start making some mittens. And then another jumper. And then possibly a shawl.

And this month’s crafting is…

I thought I’d better write a post about my crafting, as I didn’t want people to worry that I’ve stopped now that Christmas is over! Only joking!

I had a few days off after Christmas, but then got straight back in with the two pairs of slipper socks I made over New Year (well, a pair and a half as I gave one completed sock to GG for Christmas with an IOU for the second). After that, I started on something for me! Yay! I’ve been looking forward to making something for myself since the start of October, when I made my fingerless gloves and then jumped straight in to making Christmas presents. So, I’m making myself a jumper. I’ve only made one jumper for myself before, as I usually run out of patience before finishing it (I prefer more instant gratification type projects!). However, there’s a group on Ravelry which I have joined. They think of yarny challenges, and so I’m knitting my jumper as a part of a three month challenge. I’m also knitting a poncho with some stashed yarn, but I’ve not cast on for that yet (determined to do one thing at a time!) so I’ll leave the details of that for later.

The jumper pattern I’ve chosen is called Jojo and it’s from the November issue of Let’s Knit Magazine (a UK publication). It’s quite a simple pattern, with a lacy roll-neck type collar to make it more interesting! So far, I’ve knitted the back and one sleeve, and I’ve not long started on a front piece, but I had to put it on hold earlier in the week when I had a couple of particularly annoying days with my hands.

And then, yesterday, I noticed that Handsome was wearing gloves about three sizes too small for him. Seriously, they looked like they’d shrunk in the wash. I asked if they fitted him, and he replied that they were magic gloves and so they must do. The fact that they don’t reach his wrists doesn’t seem to figure as a problem in his brain! So, being the caring mother I am, and given the amount of wool I have in the hall cupboard*, I offered to make him some new gloves with nice long toasty ribbed wrist cuffs. Of course he accepted, especially when I told him that I have dark red and yellow yarns and so could make him some Gryffindor** themed gloves – although rather than just saying ‘yes please’, he went on to ask if I could knit in a picture of a lion ‘going rarrrr’ (imagine an eight year old boy making clawing motions in the air like an attacking lion!). I look forward to the time when they realise how much work goes into things! Unfortunately, there won’t be enough room on the gloves for a ‘rarrrr’ing lion, but I’m sure he’ll like the fact that his wrists don’t go red and numb any more! Hopefully I’ll finish the gloves later today, so he’ll be able to wear them to school tomorrow.

*I’d like to point out to my husband, GG, that I AM making an effort to use up some of the wool before I go to Wonderwool Wales in April and have the chance to buy lots more so that we have lots more cupboard space in our flat!

**For those of you uninitiated in the world of Harry Potter, Gryffindor is one of the four houses in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and is the house to which Harry Potter belongs. Handsome is a couple of chapters away from finishing the final Harry Potter book – The Deathly Hallows – and so is currently making wands out of anything he can lay his hands on, and casting spells enough to turn the air around him crackly with magic.

A visit to the local park

Near to where we live is a very small park, often overlooked other than by those who live very near to it. It’s  generally very peaceful when I’ve been there in the spring and summertime, so I thought today would be a nice time to visit and see what it looks like in the snow. By walking through the park, you can access a path down to the river Rhymney, and the Rhymney River Trail.

I wasn’t disappointed, it was beautiful up there today. Here are some photos from our walk.

Snow encrusted gates of Rumney Hill Gardens

Even the footpath is almost undiscoverable!

Even in the midst of all the snow, the bulbs are peeking through, giving hope for Spring!

River Rhymney

The woods beneath Rumney Hill Gardens

More snow. Kids home. What to do with them…?

Well, I couldn’t have the kids getting bored, so…I put them to work!

In the spirit of community, umm, thingy, I decided it would be a good idea to clear the path in front of our flats before it gets icy. But, why have a dog and bark yourself? Or, to alter the metaphor, why have children and then let them watch you work? Exactly.

You can see they’re really putting their backs into it! And it kept them warm, so it was really in their best interests!

More about our morning in the snow a little later…there’s something to look forward to!

Snow day again?

We’re playing the waiting game again at the moment, trying to find out if the school will be open or shut. I’d be surprised if they opened it, given that Cardiff Bus have decided that the road past the school isn’t safe for the buses to use. Also, I’m supposed to be going to Llandough Hospital today. That’s not going to happen, given that I don’t feel happy driving there with my arms being weaker than they should be and the bus to the hospital isn’t at present running.

More snowman building, anyone?

ETA** School’s shut. Snow’s still falling. Woohoo!