158: butter side down

I made the rookie mistake the other day of saying how healthy I’d been since taking up the whole throwing-myself-in-icy-water thing (well, edging into icy water while cursing loudly and comprehensively, anyway). Even though I immediately knocked myself on the head and whistled, I appear to be coming down with something miserable, heralded by a sore throat and a headache. Oh joy – I haven’t got time for this, I really haven’t. This is the week where we are emptying the storage unit and taking kit back to the museum (it’s happening!), testing the last of the school sessions, and generally zipping about being busybusybusy.

Honestly, at nearly 50 I should know better than to invoke the Law of the Sod, I really should. There’s a whole list of things that trigger it, including (but not limited to):

  • saying, ‘Well, at least it’s not raining’
  • dressing my children in white
  • dressing me in white
  • leaving for anywhere with ‘enough time’ to spare
  • planning an outdoor event in August
  • washing the car under a clear blue sky

The basic premise is that fate is laughing at you, and that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. God laughs when man makes plans. Butter side down. That sort of thing. Anyway, I don’t feel well and it’s all my own fault.

Things not making me grumpy this week:

  • coffee and a wander with my bestie on Tuesday morning
  • working with the asylum seeking families and children with SEND at my local primary school
  • team board games afternoon – Cobra Paw was highly entertaining!
  • Finding a copy of Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting handbook in the charity shop yesterday
  • Daffodils popping up all over the place, and at least one of my unfortunate hydrangeas not being dead

And now I’m going to have a Lemsip and a nap.

Same time next week, but less germs,

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

The Bullet That Missed – Richard Osman

Peace Talks/Battle Front – Jim Butcher

Unnatural History – Jonathan Kellerman

The Truth – Terry Pratchett (Audible)

157: more holes than the dancers’ fishnets

I am having a thoroughly theatrical weekend. Having not been to the theatre for several years, I went up to the West End yesterday, and this afternoon I’m off to see my friend performing in The Greatest Cabaret Show at our local arts centre. I’m very glad other people are in charge of the organisation of these things, as until Monday I was under the impression we were going to a completely different theatre in another town entirely.

The show was Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical at the Peacock Theatre, described as

…a Rocky-Horror, Romeo-and-Juliet celebration of star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of the tracks caught in a city teetering on the brink of disaster.


I’d add in Mad Max, a bit of the Lost Boys, Peter Pan, flashes of Highlander and a whole lot of glitter. The set was dystopian, with clever off-set camera action projected onto a screen. Costumes were punky, the cast had voices made for belting out Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman’s hits (and they packed in songs from all three Bat albums across the two hour show), pyro effects and a LOT of fans in the audience. What there wasn’t, sadly, was much of a plot – as the title says, more holes than the dancers’ fishnets. I don’t see this following in Mamma Mia’s footsteps and generating a smash film, let alone a sequel, sadly – but oh, it was great fun and I do love a good Meat Loaf singalong.

Falco and Sloan (image from show website)

I was with my friends Alli, Kerry and Elaine, who was driving. Elaine and I have a history of driving-related adventures when we go to see things – see here for the last time we ventured out, and on previous occasions I have had a road-rage incident at the Brentwood Centre (David Essex) and had her convinced I was going into labour on the Southend Arterial Road (also David Essex). This time we battled traffic and a truculent sat-nav, taking in a tour of Shoreditch and bits of Islington on our way to Holborn. We managed to find disabled parking quite close to the theatre, and being classy birds we located the nearest Wetherspoons for food and drink beforehand. London on Saturdays is always a bit odd – hen parties, and for some reason a group of young people with inflatable golf clubs. The staff at the ‘spoons couldn’t have been more helpful, finding us an accessible table in the very busy pub and shooing away poachers. Similarly, the theatre was fully accessible by means of friendly staff directing us to the accessible entrance and zipping round to meet us there, helping with the platform lifts and escorting us through the building. It was so lovely to be out and giggling, although I have to apologise to Alli for making her almost spit wine across the table with a wildly inappropriate comment. At London prices you can’t afford to waste it!

Group selfie by Kerry!

Other things making me happy this week…

  • Lots of walking – solo and with Sue and the Bella-dog, seeing herds of deer enjoying the early sun and rabbits skipping about the place
  • A lovely handmade Mother’s Day card from Thing 2. I’m glad one of them acknowledges my existence.
  • The lake is almost in double figures – a swim with Sue followed by a bacon butty and a mug of tea was a perfect way to start the weekend
  • Trying Tunisian crochet again – more socks!
  • An interesting visit to the Institute of Making at UCL with a colleague to find out about their materials library

And now I must go and get ready to go out again!

See you next week,

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

Cold Days/Skin Game/Peace Talks – Jim Butcher

Making Money/The Truth – Terry Pratchett (Audible)

The Bullet That Missed – Richard Osman

156: we’re off to see the blizzard

This post – number 156 – marks the third anniversary of this blog, and since most of those early posts covered lots of walking, it seems only right that I should carry on rambling.

After last week’s 20k walk I have been FAR more sensible and followed the training plan that’s plotted out neatly on my calendar: 5k on Tuesday evening and two lots of 5 over the weekend (although that turned into an 8 and a 4, but never mind). I’ve said it before and I will almost certainly say it again, but getting out and walking reminds me that I’m very lucky to live in an area with lots of space to ramble and lots of wildlife to admire.

Tuesday evening’s walk took me across North Weald Common, over the fields behind the house and down a country lane. The sun was just setting and the moon was rising, the wildlife was on the move and after a busy day dashing around with work it was a moment of peace.

It also turned out to be the last fine weather for a couple of days, as Wednesday to Friday were drizzly and miserable with snow showers, sleet, rain and wind at this end of the world. Storm Larissa brought lots of snow to other parts of the UK but we just got the dregs which felt very unfair.

This tree is just showing off

Not to be thwarted, however, when the sun came out on Saturday I dragged my beloved and Thing 3 off for a walk to make the most of it. We covered an 8km loop which took us through the woods in the ancient Ongar Great Park where we heard a nuthatch and great tits shouting their heads off, round Tawney Common and back up through the wood on a lollipop route. We saw buzzards, many rooks and crows and spotted signs of spring.

Saturday also included a cold water swim, which at 5 degrees felt icy. The cold snap meant that the pipes had frozen in the cafe and I’d forgotten the flask, so a quick trip to McDonald’s for breakfast was in order afterwards. The lake ducks, who also rely on the cafe for their breakfast, were most aggrieved.

The final walk this morning was a 4km with Sue, one of my swimming buddies, and the adorable Bella-dog and was around Ambresbury Banks just past Epping. We had a good ramble round the banks and along some of the wide tracks in that part of Epping Forest – there’s the remains of the Outer London Defence Ring in the area, lots of puddles for Bella to paddle in (including one rather deeper than she expected!) and lots of interesting leaves and sticks to chase (Bella again).

Other things making me happy this week

Hanging out with teachers – both serving and trainees

On Tuesday afternoon one of my colleagues and I headed off to Central Foundation Girls School in Mile End to meet the Tower Hamlets Secondary Design and Technology Network, who we’d been trying to get in touch with for several years but (thanks to GDPR) have proved elusive. We took along a few items from the handling collection and talked to them about the new museum but most of all we listened to what they wanted from us in terms of curriculum support and school visits.

On Thursday I visited the London East Teacher Training Alliance, who I have been doing sessions with for more than a decade and who are some of my favourite people to work with. I love ITT students as they’re all still so enthusiastic, and the early years students in particular who are all about the play. We did the Think Small session to start with, designing and building animal homes, and then two of our Creative Learning Facilitators joined the session to share the learning they’d gained from using the Hero Arm to talk about limb difference to very young children. We finished up with a fingerprint activity inspired by the whorls created when 3D printing the Hero Arm: thinking about individuality and what makes us all special.

Crochet socks

Two pairs finished this week! The first ones are the Calecentine Socks by Vicki Brown Design and CoopKnits. I used Stylecraft Head over Heels Allstars sock yarn in Saltaire, and the tail end of a ball of Drops Nord for the ‘windows’. I like Vicki Brown’s socks as the patterns are straightforward, unlike the Dragon Scale socks on the right.

The sizing on these was ridiculous – even with a hook 3 sizes up than that recommended they came up too small and too narrow and had to be frogged and redone. The yarn is the one used in the pattern (Cygnet Boho Spirit), so I can only assume the S/M/L size range in the pattern is for very small people!

Kumihomo: Japanese Silk Braiding exhibition

As I had a rare afternoon without meetings I took myself off to Japan House in High Street Kensington to see this exhibition. It’s quite small but very lovely, and while I knew what kumihomo was I didn’t know about all the applications or how it’s being used today.

I had a great conversation with a woman who was fascinated by the stitching and construction of a Victorian dolman garment, and watched some very soothing videos of dyeing silk and weaving braids. Hopefully we’ll be able to explore this in the programming around the Japan: Myths to Manga exhibition at the museum later in the year.


They always make me happy, to be fair.

Ted and Bailey in jungle mode

And now I have to do the ironing that I didn’t do last week….

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

Going Postal/Making Money – Terry Pratchett (Audible)

Changes/Ghost Story – Jim Butcher