Week twelve: Ready? Run!

Those of you who have poured yourselves into inappropriate lycra and staggered through the Couch to 5k programme will recognise ‘Ready? Run!’ as that moment when your ‘brisk warm-up walk’ turns into the thrice-weekly torture of discovering just how long three minutes can be. I did the programme way back in 2011, after Thing 3 arrived, and by 2015 I had run a half marathon. And then my knees went on strike so I focused on walking, but (here my secondary school PE mistresses and my long-suffering Brown Owl will probably die laughing) I actually missed running. This, from the person whose youngest sister’s name in the register was met by the comment ‘oh god, not another one’ from the aforementioned PE mistresses. Yes, I missed it. I missed hurling myself out of bed at ludicrous hours of the morning: in the week running along the Thames or the Regents Canal, and on weekends through the forests and fields here. I missed the half hour or more of solitude, listening to music and living in my own little world. I even missed running in the rain.

So, way back at the start of lockdown I decided I’d strap my knees up and start the C25K programme again – weeks 1 – 3 went well, and at the start of week 4 my knees were fine but my ankle was not. Stupidly, instead of stopping and walking I decided to try and run through it, and then spent the next month hobbling.

This week, I felt confident enough to try running again. I dropped back to week 2 to start with, but on my first day out I caught up (literally!) with a friend and his daughter and joined in with their week 3. I found it quite easy so skipped back up to week 3 for the rest of the week, and will pick up week 4 tomorrow. My 5-minute cool down walk takes me back through the flood meadow, which has really felt the benefit of the rain in recent weeks. and the grasses have shot up.

Trees are starting to fruit as well, and evidence of conkers and helicopters to come are peeking through the leaves.

On alternate days I’ve been out walking with a friend, with 6am starts as she’s still working. We have been taking some different routes this week and today we discovered an almost buried ‘mushroom’ pillbox – North Weald Airfield, one of the key Battle of Britain airfields, is over the road so there’s a few about the village, but I hadn’t seen this one before. It looks in pretty good condition apart from being very overgrown, possibly as it can’t be accessed by the local kids. My beloved – who grew up here – tells me they used to play in it as children, as well as in old underground buildings on the airfield itself. There are rumours of tunnels that extend towards the old officers’ mess, now an emergency housing site.

The result of all this early morning exercise has been a lot of afternoon naps – I’m now referring to them as ‘siestas’ as that seems to legitimise them!

All this exercise has to do something towards burning off all the calories from home baking! This week has been a week for old favourites – oat and raisin cookies, which have to be made in double batches as they disappear so quickly; American-style pancakes to be eaten with garden strawberries and ice cream; and banana bread.

Pancakes and banana bread always get made on the same day, as once you’ve used 200ml of buttermilk in your pancakes there’s just enough left for this recipe. The pancakes are usually a Sunday treat, so I make two loaves of banana bread – one for home and one for work, as our traditional Monday morning all-staff meetings are always improved by cake.

I use this recipe by John Barrowman – but add either a bag of bashed-up Maltesers, or chocolate buttons/chips. The BEST thing is a bag of mini Rolos. A colleague once said, ‘what sort of deviant adds Maltesers to banana bread?’…. and then he tasted it. Trust me on this, dear readers. I felt quite sad that we had to eat both loaves ourselves this week, but we managed.

This week’s makes…

I mentioned last week that I had cut out the pieces for a Beachcomber dress and a Hot Coffee hoodie, both by MBJM, so they were my first makes.

I wanted to add the front pockets to the Beachcomber dress but didn’t want to do the colour blocked option as I couldn’t face matching stripes, so had to play around with the pattern pieces to see how they’d work and if the pockets would pull the dress out of shape. Luckily they didn’t. After the fact I realised I could have made the colour blocked style and just turned the side panels through 90 degrees as well as the pockets, which would have been easier!

The jersey-blend fabric was quite lightweight and my feed dogs kept trying to eat it unless I babied it through the start of seams, and the twin-needle topstitching would have Patrick and Esme in tears. I ended up overlocking the cuffs, hem and neckline as I just couldn’t face hemming them – but it’s wearable, super comfortable and it has pockets!

The Hot Coffee hoodie was much easier. I used loopback sweatshirting fabric which I picked up quite cheaply on EBay, with a black kangaroo pocket and a black bottom cuff. I chose the self-lined hood option, and added the ‘Thumbs Up’ cuff hack. I sized up as I like my hoodies loose, and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. There’s a dress-length option, patch pocket option, and you can either make a cowl neck, a hoodie or a plain round neck – and the pattern is unisex. The kids’ version is called the ‘Hot Chocolate’ so you can kit out the family.

There was even enough fabric left to make a pair of Four Seasons capri-length joggers as well (I won’t be wearing them together!).

Once these were out of the way I decided it was time to start on the Butterick B6318 dress. The pattern is part of their Retro range, from 1961, and I’ve had it in the stash forever. I bought a Julian Charles puffin bedset in their sale, and it’s quite thin fabric so I knew I’d have to line it. I chose to use the striped fabric for the bodice and contrast on the sash and the puffin fabric for the shirt and main sash pieces.

It’s a while since I have made anything that needed a full lining, and I wasn’t sure if I remembered how – but luckily my cousin was having trouble with a facing and sent me photos of her instructions so I used those! I forgot to put the sash pieces on before sewing up the sides, so they aren’t as tidy as they could be, but it’s looking good. The skirt pieces need a lot of gathering, so I will have to pleat the lining to avoid adding bulk, but this has been a good exercise in taking things slowly and making a piece in stages. My task for this week will be constructing the skirt, and I am going to add a bound hem as they look so neat. I have ordered a cerise bias binding, as there wasn’t quite enough fabric left to make my own (though the striped would have looked awesome!) so there will be more flashes of colour.

The cross stitch is also coming on well. I love seeing the shapes of the people emerge like ghosts as I fill in the background!

Garden wildlife

Last week’s baby blue tits and great tits have been joined by a baby blackbird who potters round the lawn for ages. The neighbours have sparrows’ nests in their eaves, so the feeders are pretty busy. And last night the cats were getting quite aerated about something they could see through the bars of the babygate, and it turned out to be a tiny mouse tempted by leftover garlic bread.

And that’s it from me for week twelve! I am off now to nurse my mosquito bites, gained yesterday through my leggings while on a bike ride with Thing 2, her best friend and her mum. Coffee in the park in Epping – it was almost like being normal again! Usually I don’t react badly to mozzy bites, but this year I have had the most horrendous reactions – right now my left wrist and right leg are swollen and painful, and not even Piriton is helping. Ouch!

See you on the flip side of Week 13!

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

I finished Jilly Cooper!

Carlotta Carlyle novels – Linda Barnes (I blame early exposure to Nancy Drew for my fondness for girl detectives)

Lanterns and Lances – James Thurber

Audible: Shadows in Bronze/Venus in Copper – Lindsey Davis

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