Wow, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve posted! I feel terrible about it, but time just seems to be flying past way too quickly at the moment. I’ve been back at uni for four weeks! It feels like I’ve been back for one! I had my last lecture of second year today, which feels extremely odd and reminded me that my exams are a measly three weeks away. THREE WEEKS!!! In one way that feels like a long time to be sat revising all day every day without doing anything else, but then I think of how much work I have to get through and it suddenly feels like three weeks is not enough time to get anything done. Ho hum.
I also had to say goodbye to a few of my friends who are going home for these three weeks to revise. Two of my close friends are going along with two of my housemates. And the one remaining housemate is also considering going home for a few days which will means I’ll be all on my lonesome. That’s never any fun! There’s just no chance of me going home to revise though, I get too distracted by very important things like watching episodes of Friends, baking and fighting the urge to go canoeing. When I’m in revision mode at uni, I can get up at eight, start working at nine and not stop till ten or eleven in the evening (other than for lunch and short breaks). I actually manage to get quite a lot done, but if I’m at home and there are people around me who aren’t revising for all the hours in the day, it’s too hard not to stop and talk to them or watch telly with them or do whatever they’re doing.
Of course, this does mean I’m in for three weeks of absolute hell where all I do is read lectures, write notes and do past papers and my breaks have to include doing things like showering, laundry and washing up, but I was prepared for this. I remembered what it was like in first year and got my head around the fact that there’s just no avoiding it. The only difference this year is that we’ve still been having lab reports and lectures this term. It’s been slightly stressful trying to keep on top of revision and write a lab report whilst waking up to come in for lectures every day. I handed my lab report in today though, so that’s done and as I said, I’ve finished my lectures so I can fully concentrate on doing some super hardcore revision now. I’ve done 60 lectures so far and have about 90 left to go. That’s a lot of learning!
But as far as I see it, there’s no point getting stressed over it if you can help it. It’s not going to help information stick because I’ll just end up flying through the lectures without really understanding or remembering anything. So I’ll put on some nice relaxing, acoustic music, and make the most of the situation. I’ll appreciate my lovely rainbow pack of fancy pens that Heather bought me for Christmas/birthday especially for revision, remember that I’ve had lots of nice evenings in the last few weeks with my friends and remind myself that I’m doing all of this for my own benefit.
Oh, the joys of exams.
Don’t say it too loudly…
But, I think Summer has arrived!!!
Somehow we seem to have skipped right past Spring and landed smack in the middle of summer. It is SO nice to feel the sun on your skin, especially after thinking that Winter was never going to end. I remember last year it was very sunny when we had our exams, and because people on most other courses had exams later than us we had to watch them having a nice time in the sun while we were stuck inside revising. Then just as we finished our exams and everyone else was having theirs, the sun had decided it didn’t want to play any more and we were left with very mediocre, overcast days to pretend to enjoy. This year though, the sun has come early enough for us to enjoy it, at least a little bit. I’ve spent most of the past few days after uni in beer gardens sipping on cider and chatting away with my friends, usually before ordering food there too so we didn’t have to move anywhere and could enjoy the last of the sunshine. It’s been brilliant! I’d never actually spent a whole day slowly drinking before, but I have to say that I am a big fan!
Whilst I have been having a very nice time, I am also aware that my exams aren’t all that far off (just over a month away now!) and that I do need to get cracking with revision. It’s actually worked out quite well because I’ll go and have a good time in the sun relaxing, but as soon as I get home I’ll do some productive revision to overcome the guilt I’ve felt for having a nice day. It means I get work done, but I also have time out and I get to see my friends which was a major downside of revision last year.
Another good thing about revision this year is the fact that our house has a little garden. Well, it’s more like a yard – just a strip of concrete really, but IT’S OUTSIDE!! And it’s all ours. This means that for the last couple of days when the weather has been really nice, I’ve spread a blanket out, lugged all of my notes, books and laptop outside and spent the day there revising instead of in my room. I have to say that I’m slightly less productive outside as it’s very hard to see the laptop screen with all the glare and I spent the whole time with my eyes screwed up if I try and read my notes, but it’s way better than being in a stuffy bedroom. My mum should be delivering me some sunglasses amongst other things tomorrow, so I have the chance to do outside revision without being constantly blinded. It should be good!
The only downside to revising outside is that my 3rd year neighbours seem to think that it’s totally acceptable to blare music EXTREMELY loudly from their window. Fair enough, play music, but not so loud that I can’t hear myself think. Surely they must have exams too?! I’ve had to take a bit of a break from being outside just at the minute as the sun’s at its highest and I haven’t got any suncream here (another thing that my mum’s delivering me tomorrow) and I burn very easily. I’ve tried to be careful but it is hard to keep track of tanning/burning without being able to control it with suncream.
As you may have noticed, I still haven’t had time to fix the photo problem where I can’t insert photos without deleting old ones, and I doubt I’ll have time until after my exams so my posts will just have to photoless for a little while. I apologise for this, but I’m such a technophobe that I’m not too surprised that something has gone wrong.
I hope you’re all enjoying the sun as much as I am if it has graced you with its presence in the last few days. We’re all certainly appreciating it here!
As exams loom closer and closer, I’m getting more and more aware of the fact that I’ll have less time to do fun things in the build up to them. This is why I decided to make the most of not having to feel too guilty about having fun and went out last night. I have to say, it’s the first time I’ve walked back from a club with a chorus of bird song! I got in at about 4:30 in the morning (shocking, I know) and then set my alarm for 8am. You see, it was my university town’s canoe race today and a few people from my club were paddling so I thought I’d go and cheer them on. I had the option of whether to race or not but decided that since I could barely hear anything apart from the ringing in my ears, and due to the fact that I’d only had 3 and a half hours sleep, I might give it a miss. I took my bag with all my canoe kit in it so I could give it to my mum (who also came to watch) to take home. Only, when I got there everyone started trying to convince me to race. I’m not sure whether they thought it was a good thing for me to do or whether they were just after a laugh, but when I found out that my entry fee had already been paid, I thought I may as well give it a go and made a snap decision to race. I thought of it more like a normal paddle just surrounded with a lot of people racing.
So, fuelled with a banana which was the only thing I could manage to eat, I set off on an eight mile race with my only wish being that I wouldn’t throw up. It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was right at the back, but to be honest I’m not surprised in the slightest! I was with another girl for most of the way round and every so often we’d just have a little chat which I’ve never done in a race before! The sun was shining, and I was paddling along a very pretty river – that counts as a decent Sunday morning in my books! And I finished the race, I wasn’t last, I didn’t fall in AND I DIDN’T THROW UP!!! I think I accomplished quite a lot, to be honest!
As I mentioned in my last post, it was my friend’s 21st birthday a few days ago and my other friend and I decided to make him a cake. But not just any cake. Oh, no. We decided to make him a minion cake. If you’ve not come across minions before, they are basically the stars of the Universal Pictures film, ‘Despicable Me’. Yes, it’s a children’s film. Yes, my friend was turning 21. No, it doesn’t matter because Despicable Me is amazing and I still find it hilarious.
This is one of the cute little minions from the film:
We decided we wanted to attempt to make a minion cake a LONG time before his birthday, which is probably a good thing because it gave us lots of time to think over how we were going to do it, how much icing we’d need and whether it was actually possible! Thankfully, my mum was also on hand to point us in the right direction and rescue us when things got a bit interesting (which surprisingly wasn’t actually that often). We thought the best way to do it was to bake several round sponges (out of chocolate cake with nutella mixed in – refer to the last post about the nutella situation!) and one baked in a bowl in order to get the head shape. This went relatively well actually and didn’t cause too many problems. Well, other than lining the tin but I think that’s just our lack of skill with baking paper!
We stacked all the cakes on top of one another and sandwiched them with chocolate (and more nutella!) icing. My mum made the good point of not putting too much icing in between the layers to prevent them from sliding too much. We managed to remember to put the cakes on the lid of the tin we were using before assembling, saving us that awkward situation when you have a huge cake and have to transfer it onto another plate/tin lid/cake stand. As you can see in the photo below, we had to saw off some of the cake just to make sure all the cakes were the right shape and lined up properly. Somehow, although the bottom three cakes were baked in the same tin, they all ended up different widths!
The next step was a very daunting one – icing all the sides of the cake. A palette knife was out weapon of choice and it didn’t go too badly. I had to make myself stop because towards the end if I tried to smooth the icing any more, it just made huge chunks of it fall off.I was definitely glad when this stage was over!
We relieved all the stress and nerves of making a huge minion cake by squidging all of the fondant icing in our hands to make it malliable, which is surprisingly therapeutic! It does make your hands very sticky though! Not soon after we’d relieved all the stress did it come flooding back when we had to roll out the yellow icing and then transfer it in one quick movement onto the cake. It was kind of like moving a very sweet smelling, bright yellow pizza base that hasn’t been cooked yet, and was absolutely terrifying! Trying not to stick your fingers through the thin icing, trying not to drop it on the floor and trying not to knock the whole cake over is a lot to concentrate on! We managed it without too much hassle though.
It was only at this point that we realised how much our little incomplete minion friend was leaning, but there was nothing we could do about it so we just cracked on. Just after we put the icing on, it did look a lot more like a pacman ghost than a minion, but after we’d trimmed the excess icing off it started to get its shape a bit more. I was also under the illusion that by smoothing over the creases with water, the creases would magically disappear. Shall I tell you what actually happens when you do that? The icing turns to mush and starts to disintegrate so that the chocolate icing underneath starts to leak through. Then every time you touch it to make it better, it just gets worse and the minion starts bleeding chocolatey blood… To counteract this, we quickly rolled out the blue icing and whacked a pair of dungarees on him, which fitted surprisingly well and seemed to mop up the chocolate-blood quite well!
Next, we had the crucial decision of whether to make a one-eyed or two-eyed minion. We decided to go with a one-eyed minion as his head was a bit on the small side, so we used cookie cutters to make a white circle and then a black rim using the same cookie cutter and the one the next size up. The addition of a slightly trimmed large (Yorkie!) chocolate button and a small piece of white icing later, and we had an eye!
And then our little minion could see!
This is the point where I thought it looked like a ‘real life’ minion and all of a sudden our cake started to look identifiable! The next features we added were hair and a mouth. These were just thin strips of black icing stuck on with water (like all the other components were stuck on).
After this, we gave him arms of rolled-into-sausages yellow icing, and hands and feet of modelled black icing. We also decided to make him a little pocket with the number 21 on it. This is when he definitely looked like a minion and we high-fived our good work.
We added a few more little details in the form of buttons on his dungarees, treads on his shoes and stitching on his denim (done by poking him with a fork quite a lot). AND THEN HE WAS FINISHED!!!!
We were SO pleased with the result. Ok, the back looked like he’d recovered from some brain surgery, but we didn’t think that was so bad. (Apologies for the blurry photo).
He even managed to survive a road trip from my house to my uni house, although he was leaning considerably more by the time he reached his final destination. He didn’t look like he minded too much, he just looked a little dazed.
Our friend was suitably speechless with our surprise minion cake attempt (which, to be fair, so were we!). I felt like crying when he cut into him though. I’m sure I heard a little minion scream! He did taste very nice though, although not nutella-y enough which was disappointing considering the amount we put in there.
And so we have set the bar for 21st birthday cakes in our little group. We’re all expecting a cake with as much effort put into it for our 21st birthdays now – it will be a tough job considering this took us eight and a half hours! It was definitely worth it though. I’m still amazed we managed it without any disasters resulting in us driving down to Tesco to pick up the first cake we saw and a packet of candles. If you fancy making a minion cake like this, go for it! Just make sure you set aside a whole day and have plenty of ingredients for making cake (this took two lots of 4 egg cake mixture!). And don’t get too attached, because at some point someone is going to have to decapitate your new friend you’ve spent the entire day making. I’m sure I’ll get over it at some point…
What’s this? Two blog posts so close together? This hasn’t happened in a long time, I know! It must be because I’m back at university now after my five week Easter holiday and I’m meant to be doing revision. So naturally, I’ve been spending as much time as possible coming up with excuses not to do any and I’ve realised that writing blog posts is very much not revision and so that is what I’m doing. The other reason is because I feel I haven’t really been writing properly on my blog for a while, but filling in with lots of photos and projects and things; which is fine, but I felt I should actually write something this time and catch up with everything I’ve been doing. And I have been very busy!
It was my friend’s 21st birthday yesterday and my other friend and I went a little crazy with birthday ideas. We made him a very special cake that took freaking ages! I plan to blog about it very soon, but I’ve been having a few issues with the photos on my blog. I realised when I flicked through a few blog posts yesterday that I’ve managed to delete rather a lot of the photos. I’m really annoyed, but I just don’t know what I can do about it. I think it’s because there’s only a certain amount of storage space and in order to add more photos, I had to delete some from the storage file. I didn’t realise that they would be deleted from my actual blog though, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it! The most annoying thing is that I really want to show you the cake we made, but I’ll have to delete some more photos to do it. Thankfully, I have saved all the photos I’ve used but it will be a huge effort to go through and replace all the missing ones. That’s also how I’m justifying having no photos in this post – I need to save the space for the cake photos!
As well as making the cake, we bought him a LOTALOT of nutella. 2.8kg to be precise. Instead of just giving it to him though, we decided to wrap up an envelope with 21 layers of wrapping paper, each one with a different birthday related meme on it. In the envelope, there was then a note that said, “Your presents are under the table!”. And instead of just wrapping up the nutella, we put them all into different sized boxes and wrapped them up so it looked like he had a huge number of very impressive (and weighty!) presents. He then had to get through 21 layers of wrapping paper before finding the stash of presents under the table. Fortunately, he loves nutella so I don’t think he was too disappointed to find that it wasn’t in fact a digital camera, headphones, a blackberry etc.
It was such a nice day yesterday that I spent most of it moving from beer garden to pub, to restaurant, sitting in the sun and sipping on cider. We did have labs, but they finished really early so we had much more of the day to enjoy than we thought we would. I’m glad we made the most of it as I’m not sure when we’ll next see the sun! I can’t wait for a period of warm weather when I can wear summery clothes and sit outside in the sun (even if it is just to revise) instead of being stuck inside because it’s too cold. It is starting to get a bit warmer, but I don’t think Mr Weatherman realises just how impatient I am!
I am enjoying being back at uni. I mean, I miss seeing my family every day and I miss canoeing and not
doing having any work, but it’s so nice to be with all my friends again and be able to do lots of nice things with them. I’ve also remembered how much I like living in this town as well. It’s so easy to just pop in anywhere and do something, rather than just living in a village so you have to drive to get anywhere. It’s also nice because although there are all the shops and towny-ness of it, you’re never far from fields and parks and things, instead of just being surrounded by buildings all the time which I thought living in a town would be like.
Right, I feel better for having caught up a bit with my blogging and REALLY should get on with some dreaded revision now. I hope you’ve all been making the most of the nice weather if you’ve had any, and I should hopefully be sharing the birthday cake with you very soon!
I realised I said a little while ago that I should have a Ta Dah post coming up soon and then actually forgot to do it! This whole project has been a bit delayed really, as it was actually meant as a Christmas present for Heather but I only got around to making it at the beginning of my Easter holiday a few weeks ago. I made her a little bag to put her yarn in for when she’s out and about. I know she’d been using a big sandwich bag to hold it in before so went on a mission to find some material that she might like. To be fair, I did buy the material before Christmas but then never got a chance to make it as we had out Fake Christmas a few weeks before actual Christmas and that was the only time I saw Heather.
So, I started by drawing a rectangle of about A4 size on each of my pieces of material, and cutting round them leaving a centimetre gap.
I then pinned all of the material together in the following order – spotty lining 1 (facing up), spotty lining 2 (facing up), red backing (facing up), flowery front (facing down). By doing it in this order, it means that the seams won’t be seen on the outside or inside the bag.
I sewed along three sides of the bag and then turned it inside out by folding the flowery material and the red material away from each other.
Next, I pinned on the zip. I’ve never made anything with a zip before and it was quite hard to get it pinned in the right place, but I managed it eventually. I sewed it on along one side and then folded the bag inside out again so I could pin and sew the other side of the zip.
Once the zip was sewn on and the material was turned the right way out again, it actually looked like a bag! There were some quite big gaps at the ends of the zip though, so I did a bit of hand sewing just to tidy it all up a bit.
Unfortunately I seem to have lost the photos that I took when it was finished, but the one below shows it very almost finished.
I asked Heather to send me a photo of the finished bag, and she sent me several at varying angles on a pretty blue cotton background. However, for some reason my little blog isn’t letting my upload any more photos and due to my lack of technical skills, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY!! It’s incredibly frustrating, but I figured that you can pretty much see the finished bag and I haven’t posted in so long that I should just get this post out there for you to read!
I was really pleased with the end result and it didn’t actually take very long at all in the end. I did start to make another one with a little pocket and everything, but I spent ages on the pocket and then sewed it onto the wrong piece of material and ran out of time to unstitch it all and sew it on again before Heather arrived. When I gave it to her, she was very appreciative but TTB was absolutely FASCINATED with it. It must be the bright colours, but he loved looking at it and stroking it and chewing on it. I was pleased it was being so loved! I’m hoping the fact that TTB showed so much approval might make up for the fact it was such a late Christmas present!
HAPPY CHRISTMAS HEATHER!!
I know, I know, I’ve been absolutely rubbish at posting regularly recently, but things have just been getting in the way! Heather and Tiny Tin Bird came to stay for just over a week and went home on Thursday, so lots of that time was taken up by showing him the garden, taking him for a walk (all on my own!), building towers for him to knock over and feeding him lots of different puréed foods. There was also lots of time taken by playing baby flying with him, mopping up the sick from my jeans (these two events may have been linked…), and trying to prise my hair from his grip; along with showing him the guinea pigs, trying to prevent him from bashing the guinea pig cage too much, and trying to untangle his hands from the string that holds the water bottle on to the cage. Oh, I do miss them now they’re gone! It was so nice to spend proper time with both of them and watch TTB getting to know us all.
Since they’ve been gone, my days seem to have been full to the brim. Take Friday for example – I woke up at 7am to go to the canoe club and train at 8am. I got back at about 9:15, had a shower and dried my hair before heading over to my friend’s house to do some uni work and skype our other friend. I left at about 6pm and got home at 6:30, when I had about three quarters of an hour to have a snack and get ready before picking my friend up and driving over to Oxford to meet our other friends for a night out. We had pizza and drank (orange juice for me, as I was driving) before going to a bar to drink more and catch up for the last time before we all go back to uni. I drove everyone back home before getting to my own house at about 2 in the morning where I fell appreciatively into my bed. I then got up at 9am the next day to go training again! Needless to say, most of Saturday afternoon was spent napping and nursing all my horrendous blisters that I’ve got from canoeing. This is what happens when I don’t train at all when I’m at uni and my hands get all soft so when I overload on training in the holidays they don’t like it when they’re rubbed by the paddle nearly every day!
This afternoon, Rachel and I decided to go for a walk around the reservoir that’s a few villages away from us. I drove us, which sounds easy enough until you realise that you need to fill up the screenwash, but the bottle’s too full so you know it’s just going to go everywhere. So you dig out a peanut butter jar from the recycling and use that to transfer the liquid, and it still goes everywhere. And then the lid from the bottle that you placed on the car battery gets blown off by a gust of wind so it falls deeper into the car, so you have to find a stick and spend ages trying to flick it onto the floor and then you have to roll the car backwards so you can retrieve the lid and place it firmly back on the bottle. Trying to do anything to my car is always eventful, but eventually we were set to go!
It was an incredibly blustery day today, but surprisingly warm too. We’ve walked this walk a million times throughout our childhood, but I hadn’t been here for years so it was nice to see it all again.
We got about half way round and got to the bit where you have to walk through a sheep field. Most of the sheep were friendly, but very wary and generally watched us for a second before skittering off on their way. We naturally spent a few minutes baaing at them all and to our surprise, one of them replied before making his way over to us. As in, RIGHT over to us. We were a bit worried that he would try to butt us, but he was very nice and seemed to just be enquiring about any snacks we might have in out pockets. After explaining that my camera was not a suitable snack for a sheep, he made his way over to Rachel who tried to send him away by pointing (which for some reason had no effect). We eventually managed to creep off and leave the sheep looking sorry for himself, but after a minute or so I turned around and he was following us! As soon as he saw me looking he pretended to eat some grass, but I knew as soon as I looked away he would start trotting over to us again so we hastily walked to the gate and shut it firmly behind us.
We finished our walk by passing the old tree that’s been there, dead but still standing, for as long as I can remember and by weaving in and out of fishermen’s gear. It felt lovely to be buffeted by the wind but not to be freezing cold – very refreshing, and we both appreciated it.
It was also nice to have some one on one time with Rachel as even though I’ve been home for a month now, we haven’t really had any proper time together. It did make me realise that I desperately need some new wellies though, as I got back to the car and had to change into a dry pair of socks that I happened to have as my feet had been having their own personal mud bath. I’ll have to add that to my list of things to buy, I think!
Oh, what’s this?
It couldn’t be a chicken coop? For keeping chickens in?
More specifically for keeping the chickens Kelly, Claire and Marie in?
That’s right! My friends Elena and Danny from the canoe club just got chickens!!! How exciting is that?! And do you know what having friends with chickens means? It means having access to lots of good, proper eggs which means a whole day baking is needed to use them all up!
I went round to their house on Thursday for a baking day with Elena and to meet their chickens. I was shown the chicken palace where they live and then I was introduced to Kelly the lone ranger chicken, Claire and Marie.
We gave them some corn to eat from our hands, which is a very strange sensation! Something I’ve always wanted to do though.
Then we collected the eggs – they’re laying two eggs a day between them – and headed inside to bake. We collected lots of recipes, sorted through them and ended up having a bit of a baking marathon, ending up making chocolate brownies, carrot cakes with cream cheese icing and flapjack with lots of fruit and nuts and seeds in it. I will, of course, be sharing the recipes with you when I get around to writing them all up.
(Apologies for the awful photo of the flapjack!)
We couldn’t decide which one to try first, so we thought we’d sampled all three together. And what better drink to accompany the sampling than, of course, hot chocolate? Elena dug through her drawer to find the jar of hot chocolate, explaining that it had been in there a while. She found it only to discover that the sell by date was 2010! We weighed up the chances of us dying from consuming out of date hot chocolate and decided that they were very slim and that it was definitely worth the risk in order to drink it with our creations.
We came to the conclusion that each of the creations was delicious in its own way – the brownie was very chocolatey and gooey, the carrot cake was moist and full of flavour and the flapjack was bursting with different fruity flavours.
After ‘straightening up’ the edges of the brownie and flapjack, we headed outside to say goodbye to the chickens and to put them back in their coop. When we went into chicken paradise, Kelly the loan ranger chicken squatted right down so Elena could pick her up. She was very well behaved and Elena asked if I wanted to have a hold – “Yes please!!”. Apparently the trick is to hold them with your hands covering their wings so they can’t flap them and escape. I was a bit worried that she would somehow manage to jump and fly away out of the enclosure while I was holding her and I would be the cause for Kelly being a REAL loan ranger chicken. She was fine though, and I think any escaping will have to entail a plan similar to the one on chicken run where the chickens turn the coop into an aeroplane with lots of peddles that they all use to fly out of their enclosure. I can’t imagine why any of these chickens would want to escape from chicken paradise though, they all seem very happy in there!
We put them back in their coop (which sounds a lot easier and more dignified than how it actually was – trying to herd them through the door whilst making sure that any that were already in there didn’t come back out again!) and then packed up our baked goods to take them down to the canoe club. That’s one good thing about the canoe club is that it’s usually someone’s birthday or another occasion that requires cake so you get a nice treat after your training session. Everyone was suitably pleased with our creations and agreed that it was a very good thing that Danny and Elena had got chickens.
We’ve always mused about getting chickens ourselves at home as we go through a lot of eggs, what with all the baking and Patch’s addiction to fried eggs for breakfast, but it never really happened. I think it’s probably because we’ve already got rabbits and guinea pigs and it would take a bit of effort to make a chicken paradise. And the fact that one time when Patch had quails, my mum couldn’t bring herself to cook the eggs as she felt really guilty about it! Maybe one day though. I do think it would be really fun to keep chickens, if not just for the excuse to spend a whole day baking!
This Easter was the Devizes to Westminster canoe race – 125 miles, non-stop from Devizes in Wiltshire to Westminster bridge, taking about 24 hours.
This Easter I spent about 16 hours supporting two paddlers from my canoe club who were competing in this race (in the same boat). Overnight. It was freezing! Our job was to feed them, give them hot drinks and generally make sure they were ok when we met them at locks. We took over from the daytime supporters and our first job was to help the paddlers change into fresh, dry clothes to get them through the night. They’d been paddling for nearly 12 hours at this point and when you’ve been paddling for this long, it’s pretty much impossible to change into new clothes on your own as your fingers are so numb and used to being in a certain position that they don’t really work any more. This meant that we had to attempt to hold a towel around each of them to maintain at least some modesty whilst we stripped them off and redressed them in dry clothes. It’s a lot harder than you think, doing this in the dark! But we just about managed and made them eat some food, take some paracetamol and wash it all down with hot ribena before sending them on their way to paddle on the Thames in the pitch black.
This Easter, I dressed in about all the clothes I own (five layers on top, 3 layers on the bottom and 4 pairs of socks!) and still spent most of the night shivering. I thought it would be a bit unfair to complain about the cold in front of the paddlers though…
This Easter I did that really awkward thing where you mistake a stranger for someone you know and start asking them what food they recommend for feeding your paddlers. Thankfully at 3am, everyone’s a little doo-lally and it wasn’t out of the ordinary. She was very nice and I think she would have genuinely advised me on food to give if I hadn’t realised, apologised and then died of embarrassment when I finally found the person I actually wanted to talk to!
This Easter I cut my finger whilst I was trying to break off the centimetre thick ice that had formed on the boat overnight. It bled a lot. We searched through the extensive first aid kit to find that the one thing missing was plasters. I soldiered on though and now it looks like the tiniest scratch in the world. You can see the ice on the boat in this very bad quality photo below – the boats were just covered in it!:
This Easter I stood opposite the houses of parliament for three and a half hours waiting for the paddlers to finish. It was a very cold and increasingly worrying wait as the time got further and further away from when we expected them to arrive.
This Easter I ate a nutella crepe while I waited and realised just how starving I’d been and just how exhausted I was.
This Easter I watched one of the other crews from our club finish after having fallen in halfway through the night and turned up at a lock coated in ice from head to toe. One of them had hurt their back so was paddling practically horizontally in the boat and both were pretty much hypothermic. They crossed the finish line and fell in again, at which point all the safety people rushed in to help them as one couldn’t support his own weight and the other was nearly as bad. They got escorted up the steps by several first aiders before being taken straight to the hot showers with instructions to change into lots of dry clothes and eat lots of hot food. I honestly don’t know how they finished – they just have so much grit and determination!
This Easter I watched the paddlers who we’d been supporting cross the finish line in a time of 26 and a half hours after two swims on the tidal stretch of the Thames. We left them with their families to help change them into dry clothes and take them home so we could get home ourselves.
This Easter I had one of the best sleeps ever in the car on the way home – three whole hours of complete dead-to-the-world sleep. It was awesome!
This Easter I ate a whole lot of cake and chocolate once I got home. It was Easter, after all!
I’ve had so many things to blog about recently, but just haven’t got around to blogging about ANY of them. So this post is a huge one to fit in four of the things that I’ve wanted to share with you over the last few days. The first topic I’d like to discuss is the snow. WHAT is going on with that?! I was all ready for shorts and sunglasses this holiday – we had a few nice sunny days before I broke up, and then BAM the whole snow thing happened and all the things I wanted to do couldn’t happen because we could barely get out of the house. The cars weren’t going anywhere and as my grandma’s phone decided to stop working (and because we needed to get out of the house!), we thought we’d walk the 2 miles to go and see her. She was very surprised but thrilled to see us. There were some amazing photo opportunities on the walk too, and I remembered my camera – I just forgot the memory card, so I couldn’t photograph anything at all. Oops! Thankfully my mum walked over the next day too and took her camera with her so she managed to get some photos of the walk. We passed some lambs in the field that looked absolutely frozen! Most of them were huddled up in little groups in an attempt to keep warm. They were very cute, nonetheless.
There were also some incredible snow drifts. I’ve never seen snowdrifts for real before, but all along the roads there were huge ones that have been blown into all kinds of shapes. Some were about 4 or 5 feet high! The ones on the walk were overhanging a ditch – we actually missed these on the walk I went on, but I thought I’d show you them anyway:
And look at these icicles on the roof – as inconvenient as snow can be, it also makes everything very pretty and you can marvel at things that normally you would just walk past without a glance.
It was quite frustrating being snowed in over the first weekend of the holiday, it made us all feel very trapped. I do love the snow, but really only once or twice over the winter. NOT when it’s meant to be spring, and NOT when we’ve had a whole lot of snow already, and NOT when I want to be out doing lots of things. Did you hear that Mr Weather?
My mum was meant to be staying with Heather for a few days, but the plans had to be rearranged because of all the snow. It worked out in my favour though because both my mum and I ended up going to visit Heather and Tiny Tin Bird just for the day, like we did this time. It did mean waking up at twenty to six and travelling for seven and a half hours in the day to see them for four hours, but it was SO worth it. We arrived at about 9:30am and quickly nipped around a few shops to buy lunch and a few treats from this dainty little chocolatier. Their window display was lovely and inside there was such a choice of chocolates! I ended up choosing some milk and white chocolate flake truffles. They are delicious!
We also passed another chocolatier, which had a GIGANTIC Easter egg in the window. I have never seen one so big! I’m not sure if it’s for sale, or if you have to guess the weight of it or something, but it was just incredible!
We took our bag of goodies up to Heather’s house and had a chat and a hot drink while TTB had his nap. We heard him stirring over the baby monitor and me and my mum went up to get him. He was a bit confused at first, but then he recognised us and gave us both a beaming smile – I love that he knows who we are! We spent the day playing with him. He was very keen to show us just how good at rolling he is now, he wouldn’t stop! He sat and gummed some asparagus in his high chair while we ate our lunch and then we went back into his room for story time. He just loves being read to and I’m so pleased, because I know how much all of us love to read so it’s nice to know he’s already enjoying it. He likes to try and stroke the pages quite a lot too!
It’s amazing how much he’s changed since his last visit. He seems like a proper little boy now. He’s not a baby any more! He didn’t cry once in the four hours we were there, which is such a change, and he has SUCH a character! He’s so funny, he really is. He’ll do anything to make you laugh and then just sit and giggle at you like you’re the funniest thing in the world. He’s brilliant at building up your confidence! It was so nice to see them both, even if it was just for a few hours.
Now I have two more random things to share with you. One is the two new pairs of shoes I recently got. I LOVE them! They’re so pretty! Now I have three pairs of pretty shoes in total. Quite enough now, I think!
And finally, do you remember when I mentioned that I’d planted my irises in their little ceramic pot? Here’s the original post. Well they only went and flowered! Like, properly with big purple flowery flowers and everything. I DIDN’T KILL THEM!!! It all happened so quickly too, I brought them inside once the shoots were about 4cm tall, then about a week later I noticed they were starting to bud. I came back that evening and they were in full bloom! I was so impressed with my non-killing skills. Obviously the ‘not caring’ approach really does work.
I was sure I took some photos of when they were properly in full bloom, but I can’t find them so these will have to do. They were very pretty though. They survived the trip home and are now on the kitchen window sill looking a bit worse for wear. They were good while they lasted though!
And that’s about everything that I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while. Four different posts all in one mammoth entry. I do have a special secret ta dah post that I should be doing next week sometime though, so you can look forward to that. I haven’t done a ta dah post in a very long time!