27 November 2011

First Sunday of Advent - 2011

Today was the first sunday of Advent. While this made me happy because it means in 3 weeks I'll be home for another 3 weeks, it also made me a little sad, because for as long as I can remember I've gone to every single Advent sunday at my church. And every one of those sundays I would watch the candle be lit and say a little prayer. Only today I wasn't at my church. I was in my room in Uni halls, over 50 miles away, which although not far is too far.

So i got my Sister to take a picture of a candle for me, we're not allowed candles here, let alone to light them.

And I said a little prayer.

This week I prayed for those serving in Afghanistan. I prayed for the health and happiness of my family and friends.

And I just thought a little while. It made me peaceful.

Do you have traditional Advent celebrations?


The Mayor of London Parade - 2011

A fortnight ago yesterday I went to the Mayor of London Parade in London. It's actually an annual fireworks display over the river Thames, and as far as I'm aware, there's no actual parade involved. This is the third time I've gone, although the first time I went I didn't actually see and fireworks as it was too windy for them so they were cancelled.

My boyfriend and I have gone for each of the last three years with his brother and friend, the three of them just used to do it together before I was brought into the equation.


They're a really good display of fireworks and last around 12 minutes each year.

 It also makes for a really good day out in London. Normally we make it to London for about 10.30, this year because I was coming from the Uni rather than our home town it was about 11am before we got to looking around.
 We spend the morning wandering up and down Oxford Street and eat lunch at the plaza about halfway up as the food court has a range of fast food places, to please everyone.
 In the afternoon we go to Harrods and look around. The guys look for the most expensive thing they can see, it's usually a watch, and I wind Robert up by telling him that I want all of the fancy old-style tables. It's not strictly speaking true, although I do really like them...
 We'll then stop in at a coffee shop, and wander down to the banks of the Thames, ready for the 5pm start of the fireworks.

 We have tea at Garfunkels and then head on home.
 I wonder sometimes if it's bad that the day is more or less identical each time. But then I think that actually it's kinda nice, at least I know what I'm doing.

All in all it's a really good day out with friends every year, regardless of whether you see the fireworks, which are in fact excellent.


26 November 2011

Autumn Cushion

I was inspired to make this cushion, which is going to be part of a set for my aunt, uncle, cousin and her husband for Christmas this year, by looking at all the trees which appeared in the Celebrate Colour contest as soon as it opened.

Being typically myself I procrastinated in starting the cushion, which wouldn't have been a big deal, except that I want to enter it into the Celebrate Color competition at Stitched in Color. The other issue is that although the competition ends tonight I only started it on tuesday, which causes major time issues when you're also revising for an exam and have no machine with which to do the piecing, it's not out of objection that I don't have a machine, but that as a student I can't afford one, and I find hand-stitching quite peaceful most of the time.

So I cut out my pieces, of which there are a grand total of 28 and started stitching the front together. I put the four non-descript pairs in the borders and a half of each of the 'seasonal' pairs in the corners. The Butterflies represent summer, the budding leaf pattern spring, the Snowflakes winter and the Ivy leaves autumn. It was essential these fabrics were highlighted in some small way as the set of cushions will eventually consist of Summer, Spring, Autumn and Winter.

Once I'd pieced the centre of the front I drew out my pattern on some squared paper that I use for my maths work and pinned it to the space which needed to be embroidered.  

I did the embroidery through the paper to use it as a guide, although I discovered a major issue that it can cause. I started by stitching the grass in a green thread and then outlined the tree in black, both were done using a simple running stitch.

The next stage was to infill the tree's 'bark', also in the black thread and running stitch. It was at this stage the problems started to arise as I realised I needed to remove the paper from beneath the embroidery, however the stitches in places were close enough togethe that this was practically impossible.

 When It was time to do the leaves, in a metallic orange thread, using a satin stitch, I cut a guideline area out of the paper before starting, a much better idea!

 Eventually I completed the embroidery, this part didn't actually take too long, maybe a couple of hours. To remove all traces of the paper I actually had to wet the fabric and rub it off the front, fortunately for me this worked and didn't cause ink from the pen I'd used to run onto the fabric.

 I was very impressed with how the tree turned out. The bark looked so realistic and the whole of it, except maybe the grass really contrasted with the general beigeness being used for the rest of the cushion. Exactly what I was aiming for as it really focused the eye.
 I'm actually in love with the colour of the leaves. So glad I found that thread!

 The next stage was to attatch the final border to the front of the cushion. The border fabric, also used in the centre, was from a pair of curtains I bought from the second hand shop where I worked over the summer. I was really concerned with how they'd hold up to my hand stitching but they surprised me :)

I pieced the back as well. this consisted of the same four focus fabrics appearing in the same size, order and places as on the front of the cushion. The rest of the back was made from the curtain material.

 After pieceing both front and back I pressed them, always makes a difference. Although I never press fabrics as I go along  I always do before putting the front and back together.

 The cushion was then pinned for the most time consuming part. Putting it together. I tacked with a loose running stitch from the bottom of the left hand seam, around both sides and the top to the same place on the other side. I then tidied it up with a tighter running stitch back the other way. This is the way I do pretty much all of my seams. At this point I turned it right way out and stuffed it, using the contents of a pillow I'd bought. I then pinned the back closed and finished off the last stretch of seam with a slip stitch.

I love how it turned out, I keep saying it but it's true, and I'm a tad disappointed I can't keep it, but I'm fairly sure my aunt will treasure it.

When I stitch I double all of my threads up to hopefully make them stronger and more contrasting. I think all of the threads that I used for embroidery were actually intended for machine stitching, however the orange and green came out of the bargain bucket because of broken spools and the black belonged to my mum but she doesn't sew often.

Hopefully this will link with Stitched in Color and I'll try and find the button.


24 November 2011

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

This Morning I finished reading Life of Pi. At just 4 days it is the shortest any 'true' book, I don't truly count Mills and Boons, has taken me since I've been living at Uni, and in great part that is testamony to the brilliant story-telling and captivating tale.

I'm still unsure if the story is real or false. It was told in the sense of 'true' fiction, however that isn't to say it wasn't completely made up. Some credence is lent to it's being true by the fact that events leading up to it were put in a preface, however that is completely counteracted by the sheer improbability of the story.

Either way it truly is a tale to make you believe in God, and I felt ensconced, could imagine myself there, from beginning to end.

My personal favourite part was the nickname of Pi, Pi, which is in fact, even by design, a number. It is my favourite number, not because of anything actually to do with the number, as much as because I just like the symbol which is used for it.

Life of Pi was the 47th of the 1001 books I have to read, and to date it is one of the most interesting, if not the least weird, that I have come across.

It was also a World Book Night book. This year, 2012, I intend to spend the night reading books from their designated list. Although I doubt if I'll get much more read than one book, I can but try.


20 November 2011

Little Miss Chatterbox - A cushion

This August one of my best friends turned 18. She has the sunniest disposition of anyone I know, she's so sunny that at times, very early in the morning times, you can just want to make her stop. However The point to this is that for her birthday I made her a very tiny cushion, I wanted to show it on here but I never took a picture and she's never gotten round to sending me one :P

However another of my friends saw me rushing to finish it off, because typical me the day I was giving it to her it still wasn't finished. She said to me 'For my birthday could you make me a Mr Bump one?' I said yeah ok. Fast Forward about a month and a half, and it's a bit of a long and slow day at work, I happened to bring up the topic. As we were working in a second hand children shop the result being that whenever we went into the shop to put items out we would look for a part of the Mr Men and Little Miss Libraries.

We didn't find a single book, a fact which completely shocked me until I realised that if most children were like I was as a small child their Mr Men and Little Miss books would either be treasured possessions or coloured over, or both...

However she did happen to see a pair of curtains she liked the colour of that I agreed would cut up acceptably. I told her that with that much fabric I could probably make four. We decided upon two large and two small. Of those four I only managed to get one and a half done by her birthday which was yesterday. She got the one and will get the other two and a half at a later date, when they're done.

So Happy Birthday Sarah, I hope you enjoy Little Miss Chatterbox :)


16 November 2011

Bringing a Smile to my Day

It's the little things that make you smile. Or I think so.

Of course when the little things make you smile the big things can render you heartstoppingly happy.

When I've had a tough day, or been woken up what feels like a million times during the night and still have to be up for 9am then the little things make my day.

Getting a hug off someone special.

My parents taking time out of their day to skype me, even though it sometimes feels like checking up.

Sitting down with a hot drink for just a few moments between seemingly endless sets of questions.

Reading the blogs which really inspire me.

A chat with a good friend I really miss.

All of these things make me feel just a little bit happier and help to keep a smile on my face.


14 November 2011

We Will Remember Them

Rememberance day is one of the most important days on my calendar and that of many other people I'm sure.

It is a day of reflection and thankfulness, gratefulness even, for everything that the servicemen and women have given for us to be able to live as we do. As I was often told growing up 'it's thanks to them we don't speak German', and although I have nothing particularly against speaking German I am proud of my heritage and the flexibility of the English language. Without it I wouldn't be able to enjoy many of the books I do, and certainly if the second world war had been won by Hitler we'd be much less culturally diverse than we are today.

It makes me angry to hear of demonstrations such as the one last year where people burnt our poppies on one of our most important days as a nation. I don't object to people living in this country who weren't born here, I'm not against them seeking protection. But I have to say that I do agree with the sentiment of 'If you can't show some respect to the people who made the safety and security of this country possible then maybe you shouldn't be here'.

We Will Remember Them!


9 November 2011

Linear Algebra

This module has been a major disappointment to me since I started it.

Linear algebra makes you think of the simple linear equations which you start to learn about when you're approximately in year 9, however this module is missing all of its simplicity.

It's actually only half a module and the other half which I thought I would enjoy less I find myself enjoying more.

My point I guess is that the university modules are like a book, you can't necessarialy judge from the cover and blurb how much you'll like it. There are those which will fulfil all your expectations, those which you know you'll dislike and do, those you discover you like much more than you anticipated and those, like linear algebra, which smash all of your hopes to splinters.


6 November 2011

Elements of a love story

I'm one of those cynic few, I suppose it's cynic at any rate, who believe that any love story is made up of  approximately 7 essential elements. It makes it no less magical to me, it just means that i'm able to place exactly where in the story I am by what's already happened.

These elements in my opinion are;
  • The two meet/remeet each other and either get off on a bad footing(more common) or fall instantly in love (less common because in the type of story i normally read this would make the rest of the story void, although it has it's place, if for example they need to fight their situation rather than each other to be together).
  • The two are forced into a rather excessive amount of contact with each other for no apparant reason, often against the will of one party or the other.
  • The two discover they have a lot in common, or at least a startling amount of chemistry.
  • She tells him she hates him, possibly despite the fact she already knows she loves him.
  • He either despairs and goes off only to realise he can't live without her or becomes determined to make her see his good qualities.
  • The couple declare their undying love for one another.
  • The two get married or make some sort of lasting commitment to one another.
The epitome of this for me, is not the common romeo and juliet, but pride and prejudice.

When Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy meet they definately get off on the wrong footing. Meeting at a ball where he displays his pride much to her displeasure.

The two spend an awful lot of time together, although not a lot of it in intimate society at the beginning of the story. Mostly at balls, although they are also forced together when Jane Bennett becomes ill, and later at Mr Darcy's aunts.

Elizabeth has very little respect for Mr Darcy, compounded by rumours which she is told. However he becomes attracted to her. In the 1995 Tv adaptation it is in the first episode that he first expresses an admiration for her 'fine eyes'.

Mr Darcy then proposes to Elizabeth. She tells him in no uncertain terms that she would never marry him, that she does in fact despise him.

He despairs at this point, resolves to leave her alone, but does try to improve her opinion of him on some points. When they then spend more time together, coincidentally, she begins to see him in a better light, and a softer side to him.

He proposes a second time and she tells him she's actually been in love with him for some time now.

The couple get married.

The 1995 Tv adaptation is one of my all-time favourite go-to feel-good watches, despite the fact that I was only 2 when it aired. Despite the fact that it isn't my favourite book, or even my favourite Austen. I can't get enough of the Tv series.

I'm currently educating one of my flat-mates :P

Here's to us all finding our very own Mr Darcy!


5 November 2011


I'm not a good cook. I don't enjoy it. But I can cook.

I tell a slight lie, I do enjoy cooking but only in certain situations, preferably ones which involve clean kitchens and copious amounts of time.

I normally enjoy eating, but since starting uni, meal times are something i dread and to some extent try to avoid.

This is because nowadays mealtimes involve standing around in a crowded kitchen for a minimum of 20 minutes where you can be interrogated about anything and everything, to cook something in an unclean environment with no space, which 9 times out of 10 looks awful anyway.

Today I was looking forward to my dinner, i had it planned. It would be relatively simple and tasty.

It burnt, not a minor burning but a nice thick coating of the bottom of the pan, and while the meal doesn't taste awful it does have a secondary, and lasting, kick of charcoal.


4 November 2011


Everyone has hobbies. They're the things that make us who we are.
From sports, to crafts, to social clubs.
Sometimes I feel a bit like I'm collecting hobbies.

I enjoy;
  • Reading
  • Sewing
  • Embroidery
  • Swimming
  • Scouting
  • Gaming
to name a few. Each time i take up a new hobby I get filled with grand ideas of inspiration, the things it will one day be able to do for me when i have my very own family and live the oh-so-sustainable life I dream of.

Sometimes I think I have too many.

What's your favourite hobby?


1 November 2011


I think that in many ways respect is an abstract concept nowadays. Political correctness has blurred the borders. I thought that my sister's boyfriend made a very good point recently when he posted a rantlet on facebook about using 'Miss' and 'Sir' as terms of respect and how he thinks that some of that is lost when you reach higher education and are able to call your teachers/lecturers by their first names. I think that he's right. They're not our equals, as using their first name implies, they are our superiors, they know more than us and are trying to pass that on.

This point was raised in my mind during several lectures I've had over the past week where the lecturer has had to tell people who were talking to stop, and in one case gave up and ended the lecture. Personally at that point I was disappointed as I was sincerely interested in what he had been trying to say. However it hadn't been a small portion of the lecture group who had been talking over him.

I can understand going to a lecture and getting bored, it's happened to me on more than one occasion, but I still can't understand how you can be so disrespectful and start talking over the lecturer. If someone doesn't want to listen to a lecture that in my opinion is fine, it doesn't bother me... as long as they ignore what's being said quietly. At that point they're going to probably fail anyway but I'm paying to be there as are many others who actually want to learn. It becomes a point of disrespect to all of us as well.

Another point of disrespect I've come across since being here is noise. People who get drunk tend to get louder, I get that. But when it's 3 in the morning and you're trying to sleep because you need to get up in about 3 hours, the last thing you want to hear is thudding, thumping and shouting. I get a little bit angry that people can't understand this basic courtesy.

And finally it's food. I think, having paid for it's use, we should all be able to leave food in the communal areas without having to think about whether we'll go back to it and find that it's been eaten. We should be able to eat what we want in the communal areas without people looking down their nose at us for our choice of food, making themselves seem superior, or even trying to put us off our food.


On Irritation and Isolation

I've always been a bit of a loner that's just my personality.

As a child I was perfectly able to amuse myself, from the age of about 8 my idea of a good afternoon was to curl up somewhere quiet by myself with a good book. This has probably led to my lasting obsession with books. I collect them. I love them. People tell me you'll grow out of it and get rid of them, but I could never get rid of any of my books, they're my best friends.

I've never spent more than a couple of hours a day in the company of my family, or even friends on days such as weekends and holidays where it could be helped. That is because if i push it much beyond that point I often find myself indulging in murderous thoughts towards them. Too long with any one person and their every irritating trait starts to drive me up the wall. The exception being my boyfriend who i could happily spend days at a time with.

This has meant coming to Uni is a shock to the system in another way. Here you can't escape people. They come and knock on your door and there's a good chance that if you're there someone knows and you can't risk offending them. This has meant that I've answered the door at points where i would've told my family to just get lost, they understand I need my space.  There are people here who struggle with that concept however.

I like the people here, but I don't want to tell them my exact plans for my days or meals. I don't want to be checked up on. And I certainly don't like it when they expect to be able to come into my personal space and criticise. It's not affecting them, so...

Anyway. My point kind of is they're irritating me and I'd like some space. I nearly isolated a good friend permanently in the last year going over a similar problem after spending 10 days together.

Is a little space too much to ask?