Category Archives: travel

The rest of the holiday

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I realised when I returned from holiday that I had blogged on Day 1 of my vacation (Saturday) and then went silent for two weeks. The main reason is that my father-in-law, whose house we were staying in, doesn’t have wifi and I generally had to keep my wifi time to essentials only when I managed to connect somewhere.

After I published that last blog post, things went pear-shaped. Westjet decided to delay our flight by 2.5 hours which meant that we missed our connection with BA for our transatlantic crossing. What followed was a major hassle as our travel agent tried to rebook us on the next BA flight to Heathrow the following evening but Westjet tried to get us booked via Toronto and Gatwick.

We ended up staying in the super-expensive Fairmont hotel, right in Vancouver airport, which we weren’t really able to appreciate fully as we spent two hours on the phone to Westjet to attempt to get back on the Heathrow route. I’m glad our insurance will cover at least part of the cost of the $500 room. Breakfast was $70 which thankfully was also ameliorated by the meal vouchers that Westjet gave us.

We hung around Vancouver airport all Sunday afternoon and went to the check-in desk an hour and a half early to be at the front of the queue, as we weren’t convinced that things were ok. The BA check-in person referred us to their ticketing person as she didn’t think it looked right either and he sorted it out quickly and we finally felt happy that we were actually getting on the plane.

Because of all the schedule changes and hassles, we ended up having no special meals reserved for us and were really glad we’d stuffed our faces with large Subway sandwiches before getting on the plane. My plan to wear an eye mask and earplugs worked well and I did manage to sleep a lot of the 9 hour flight, which is a first for me. My Fixit did get some sleep too, just not as much.

So, we arrived in Jersey on Monday, after three flights and an extra 24 hour delay, comparatively well-rested.

As I mentioned, we stayed at my FIL’s and we were able to borrow his car or be driven around by him. I spent some quality time with my mum and sister, and on the middle Saturday they threw a family birthday party for me as I turned 60 while I was there.

I ate some nice meals out and caught up with some old friends.

I swam in the sea most days – we had lots of sunshine – and I really enjoyed it. When I lived there I didn’t appreciate it as much. My sister has become one of those people who love to swim nearly every day and in most weathers.

The flights home ran mostly to schedule and the connections were pretty tight. It was a bit of a rush in Vancouver, as we had to clear Customs before getting to the Westjet gate, and we hadn’t been able to check in ahead of time, so again we were concerned we wouldn’t make the flight.

I will have to forgive BA the lack of a vegan meal as we were allocated seats in business class for the long-haul flight. Holy travel pods, Batman! How many times have we walked enviously through business class with their cool little pods with all the amenities and seats that recline flat for a proper sleep, and a quilt and a pillow and real cutlery and ceramic mugs for their fancy coffee, proper headphones, a little zippered pouch of eye mask, socks and spa products?! I followed my husband towards the economy seats and then he turned around and said the row numbers were going the wrong way and where was row 56? When we realised we were in Club World we couldn’t believe our luck. It felt like we had won the lottery!

And now we’re back, and back to work, and pretty much over the jetlag. A couple of mornings of getting up at 4am, and then I was back to my 6am starts. Still going to bed early though, as I find myself dozing off on the couch well before 9pm.

This is getting pretty long, so I’ll publish this and then add a second post with photos.

Day 1

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Vacation time!

Waiting for our first flight (of three) so of course I cast on my travel knitting project! A two row repeat, garter stitch, super easy!!

The other day I made a couple of tote bags which are for my father-in-law. He likes bright colours. Guys are often hard to buy/make for, but I think he’ll use these.

I have custom ear plugs for sleeping, which I use every night, so I brought those for the 9.25 hour flight across the Atlantic, and I felt that adding an eye mask might help me get some sleep. Usually I find it really hard to sleep on planes unless I’m exhausted, because you just can’t get comfortable in the cramped seats. Blocking out sound and light gives me a fighting chance.

I can’t remember which YouTube channel this was on but it was really easy to make.

Blogmas Day 6

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Retreat!

Yay, the day is finally here. We had a lot of snow overnight so the driveway had to be cleared twice before we set out. Ds1 couldn’t get his Golf GTi out of the drive at first so three of us were shoveling away like mad. He was already running late because he had to scrape ice off his windshield.

That was at 7am. We didn’t leave until 11.30 but traffic was still super slow going through the city thanks to the slippery roads. There were quite a few accidents this morning.

We stopped for take-out tea and for bread and “cheese” and bananas and then we were on our way properly. Thankfully we made it to the cabin safely and are now ensconced on the couch having settled in, stocked the fridge, lit the woodstove and enjoyed our first soak in the hot tub as the sun was going down.

We’ve been here a few times before. It’s private and quiet, just the way we like it.

Nothing says “Canadian cabin” quite like Tim Hortons mugs on a woodstove eh!

This is a photo-heavy post and the app is struggling to load them all. The wifi seems strong enough so hopefully it’ll publish okay.

Today’s vlog/podcast recommendation is The Orange Couch. Kate is a vegan who I “met’ through the Vegan Knitters and Crocheters group on Ravelry. She is relatively new to podcasting but is an experienced knitter and it seems like she finishes a sweater every week!

Oh, and I nearly forgot.

The light is a bit yellow in here but the yarn is yellow anyway (and the bead is light blue).

WIP: Festival Cardigan

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That huge pile of yarn in my last post has shrunk considerably. The cardigan has a back and two fronts, joined at the shoulders, and even neck and front ribbing.

The finished back
Front view pre-ribbing
With ribbing

I thought I’d only need to make the sleeves three squares wide by two tall but when I held the partial sleeve on my arm I saw I’d have to add another square. This’ll make the sleeves a bit too long, I think, but better that than too short.

First sleeve

As I progress, my colour choices get more limited. Some of the squares don’t seem to fit with the rest quite right but I think once it’s done it’ll be so colourful overall that it’ll look OK.

Mr Fixit and I took a little road trip today. By “little” I mean it was just for the day but it was still about 300km, according to him!

We headed south and stopped at a couple of towns to check out their farmers markets. We took the back roads for some of the way. We stopped at our usual fruit stand and bought peaches, plums, tomatoes, beans, apples, peppers and eggplants.

I had, probably for the first time ever, left home without packing any snacks. So as soon as we bought the fruit we ate a few pieces in the parking lot. Then we started back north and finally found somewhere for a late lunch. It was a vegan place, new to us, and we had smoothies.

I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to manage the large amount of fruit, because I don’t like canning, but usually I freeze the tomatoes in quarters to toss into spaghetti sauce.

Obviously my cardigan is not a portable project, with 15 balls of yarn currently attached, so I stuffed a bag with Knit Picks Dishie and some hooks for my road trip project.

1.5 dishcloths made

I have a bonus 4-day stretch of days off so I hope to be finishing the cardigan very soon. I’ll see you then!

2019 – what else?

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Having just written the post about my knitting and crochet exploits this year, I then looked at the awesome round up of 2018 I did at the beginning of 2019, and thought I’d take a quick look through my blog posts of this year to see what the highlights were.

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Well, it was a good year for travelling. In September, Tai Chi Man and I travelled to the UK, where we stayed in London, Ilkley and Jersey. London was a brief whirlwind of catching up with cousins, and touring the city. Ilkley is in Yorkshire and was our base for visiting YARNDALE! And Jersey is where most of our family members live (in case you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a tiny island in the English Channel, closer to France than England). And of course in December we revisited Maui for a week of fun in the sun.

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It was also a good year for sewing. I made pyjamas, an apron, fleece neckwarmers, infinity scarves, fleece armwarmers, a snowman quilt, a crazy hippie wonky log cabin quilt, napkins, bags (totes, knitting project bags, upcycled denim bags), tops, a cartwheel skirt for my great-niece…altogether a very satisfying collection of creations.

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I was also approached by a yarn company to feature one of my free patterns on their website. It’s my Frond cellphone cosy and they created a pdf of it to include on their site. They sent me a link. However I can’t find the email they sent me so I shall have to hope they get in touch again so that I can let you know where to find the pdf.

I am going to have a giveaway very soon. I shall let you know what it is and how you can be in for a chance to win in the next few days. It will be open worldwide.

For now, Happy New Year to you all.

Maui

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79177087_3663593460318240_1518541689579372544_oTwo years ago, Tai Chi Man and I went to Maui for the first time. We timed it to coincide with our 30th wedding anniversary. This year, we decided to go again. We went for a week, and did our best to come back with a tan without getting burned, and we succeeded!

It’s a 5.5 hour (or so) flight from Vancouver, and the time difference is only 2 hours behind our local time, so it’s not as tiring as going to Europe. Unfortunately Westjet doesn’t have fancy in-seat video screens like Air Canada does, so if you want to watch movies you have to download an app before you get on the plane, and my iPad Mini is too old. It’s still running iOS9.

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I received lots of compliments on the hair colour!

Tai Chi Man has a good camera and is our official photographer, though I took my basic phone out with me most days to grab a photo here and there, because if it’s on my phone I can upload it to Instagram.

We stayed at the Aston Ka’anapali Shores, which is north of Lahaina on the west coast.  It’s a big resort with many rooms curving around a central area with pools and hot tubs and a grassy area for sunbathing. And it’s right on the beach too.

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Christmas and hot weather just don’t seem to go together!

We explored new areas this time, driving around the north-west coast road (very winding and windy and narrow in places), also up along the north coast to Pa’ia and Haiku, and inland to Kula to visit the botanical gardens there.

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We also revisited Kihei, as the swimming is a little more friendly. The ocean has quite a swell, and in places is so rough that only the bravest surfers can manage it. One day, we found a beach that seemed to be dedicated to the kitesurfers and windsurfers.

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Lots of crabs were running over the rocks at sunset in Kihei

We mostly self-catered, though Down to Earth in Kahalui is one of the best health food stores we’ve found, with groceries and a hot bar and a salad bar and many other food options made to order. The last day we ate lunch and dinner there because it’s so close to the airport. And there’s Fork & Salad in Kihei, where you can build your own salad (it’s huge and very reasonably priced) depending on your dietary preferences.

We enjoyed seeing some of the local wildlife, including a resting Hawaiian monk seal on the beach near our resort, turtles at a couple of different beaches, sleeping on the sand, a humpback whale one morning out in the bay just before we started our open-air yoga class. (We did three yoga classes – Monday, Wednesday, Friday – and two Qi Gong/Tai Chi classes – Tuesday, Thursday.)

We also revisited Ono Gelato in Lahaina, which has non-dairy options and also sells tea and coffee.

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It’s a beautiful place. The temperature at this time of the year is pretty steady – in the 80s most days – though it did drop to low 70s when we drove upcountry to Kula. And we had wall-to-wall sunshine except for the last evening, when the clouds rolled in and brought a bit of rain.

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And now we’re back to cold and snow and warm clothing.

Yarndale and other holiday fun

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Yarndale and other holiday fun

I have been on holiday! I only had my old iPad Mini with me, and no phone, so I was only spending minimal amounts of time on t’internet, hence the gap between blog posts.

I had a lovely time. It was quite the whirlwind – the itinerary involved flying from Canada to London, England, driving down to see my cousins on the south coast, driving up to Yorkshire to spend a few days enjoying the area, including Yarndale, driving back to London, flying over to Jersey, a few days with the close family, then flying back to London, then flying home.

Kudos to Tai Chi Man who drove about 750 miles while we were in England. And motorway driving is NOT fun.

Highlights of the trip:

Yarndale, of course…

I was excited to meet Kathryn from CrafternoonTreats. We had been in touch prior to the day, because I have been helping to moderate her Ravelry group for a long time now and I just had to make sure we met up. She was a vendor, so she couldn’t avoid me, LOL. All of the yarn she dyes is wool, but knowing I am vegan she and her friend Helen had dyed up some natural coloured Stylecraft Classique Cotton with Procion dyes as a gift. So lovely!

Sorry, my photos aren’t great. iPad in poor light.

A few other souvenirs…

Being vegan helps me be disciplined in my yarn buying! Most of the yarn on sale at Yarndale is wool. So all I bought was this Louisa Harding Giardino (though it was pretty expensive)! And of course I had to get a Yarndale bag.

I was fan-girly about Lucy from Attic24, whose blog I have been reading for years. She is one of the organisers. I saw her, but didn’t talk to her, in the Knit ‘n Natter room. And I also spotted Tatsiana from Lilla Bjorn in the Scheepjes booth.

My travel knitting was a simple pattern from DROPS called Rascal. A two-row pattern repeat, it was just knitting back and forth until I felt the shawl was big enough. And I wanted to give it to my sister when it was done, so I had to finish it before I came home.

I forgot to get daylight shots before giving it away.

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It’s made with Lion Brand Mandala in Phoenix.

Other notable mentions…

Met up with my English cousins (one I haven’t seen since 1988) for a lovely day of hiking and lunching and catching up.

Took the tube around London, including Camden Market, Regent’s Park and Tower Bridge. Went up inside the bridge and got a funny feeling in my tummy looking down through the glass floor.

Seven hour drive north to Ilkley in Yorkshire where we had a lovely cosy Airbnb. Hiked around Bolton Abbey, saw some of the cycling world championships, got absolutely soaked on a three hour hike up on Ilkley  Moor. After Yarndale, a 5.75 hour drive back south to Gatwick airport.

The island of Jersey in the Channel Islands (close to France) is where most of our family lives and I stayed with my mum and Tai Chi Man stayed with his dad. That gave us the most time with our respective parents. And one day was spent almost entirely with my sister, including lunch at a vegan restaurant and a walk on the beach with her dog.

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A successful trip, all went to plan, with the only travel hiccup being a three hour delay getting out of Jersey. But as we had split up the three flights home with a stay at a Heathrow hotel this time it wasn’t a problem.

We were happy to see so many vegan options in many places. Supermarkets and restaurants are now offering so much more than they used to, so finding food is easier than it ever was. We still mostly self-cater when travelling, but it’s good to know we won’t starve if we have to rely on outside sources. There was a lovely cafe in Ilkley called The Veggie, the Sinful Vegan in Jersey, tons of vegan places in Camden Market, and I can’t forget Ransom’s Garden Centre in Jersey which has so many vegan mains and desserts that it’s hard to choose. (I had the coffee walnut cake, which was so rich I couldn’t finish it all in one go and had to save some for the evening.)

So we’re back to our regular scheduled programming. We arrived home Saturday evening, and Tai Chi Man had Sunday in which to recover somewhat from the jetlag and was back to work Monday. Thankfully my schedule meant that I am not back to work until tomorrow, Wednesday, so I’ve had time to blitz the house and do some grocery shopping. I haven’t quite had the energy to get to the gym yet though.

I’m back to crocheting the Party Cardi (a video tutorial on The Secret Yarnery’s YouTube channel) now that I have had a delivery of two more cakes of yarn. My stashbusting for September was pathetic, with the only outage being some tiny pumpkins, and then of course the incoming yarn from Yarndale. However I have blanket plans, because there’s nothing better than a blanket project when the weather gets cold. What are your favourite blanket patterns? I have some Red Heart With Love (which will probably become a giant granny square) but also a tonne of random worsted and DK to use up. I need ideas!

 

WIP: Knit Mandala Cowl

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Being a relatively new user of Instagram with a not-so-smart phone (I can do texts, calls, and wifi, but no data) I rarely remember to use it or look at the feed from the handful of people I follow. However I recently discovered how quick and easy it is to post to Instagram from the phone and then upload the photo(s) to Ravelry now that my accounts are linked.

But (and there is usually a But) I still have to plug my phone into my laptop to upload the photos to that and get them into a blog post. I only have WordPress on my Windows laptop now, as my old iPad Mini can’t handle the app.

As I type this, the photos should magically be appearing in the window behind this one, so all should be well!

The daisy blanket is taking a little breather right now. I hit a little bump in the road, possibly because I couldn’t decide how many squares to make for the ideal size/colour distribution, but also because I was going on a one-night road trip with Tai Chi Man and fancied a change.

The pattern I chose was the Knit Mandala Cowl and rather than pay for a pdf I just went to the free version on the blog and took some screenshots. I picked out some Lion Brand Mandala in the stash, colourway Genie, packed it and my Knit Picks Rainbow Wood interchangeables in a project bag along with my Hello Kitty notions tin, and was ready to roll.

The first part of the road trip involved a long and winding road north up the west side of Okanagan Lake during which I sat and looked at the view. There was no way I was going to try and knit through that and risk getting carsick. When the going got easier, I cast on.

I had a fair amount of knitting time on the journey and in the hotel room. I also took advantage of the pool and fitness room while Tai Chi Man was out working/socialising with customers, and watched a heck of a lot of HGTV!

The photo above was taken in a coffee shop, obviously, on the second day. Two hundred stitches around, but as the texture changes every round (or two or three) it feels like it’s growing fast.

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I love the colour changes in the Mandala yarn. Not harsh changes like some of the cakes. As you can see, there’s ribbing, seed stitch, cables, slipstitches – a bit of everything.

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I will continue on and finish this, I think, before returning to the blanket. I have noticed, though, that my wrist aches more when I knit, so I have to be careful.

In other news, it’s Pride month at our fabric store (and elsewhere of course) and our manager set up an awesome display of a fabric rainbow with a pot of “gold” at the end, big foam letters that spell out PRIDE, and rainbowy products that are on sale this month. I just love the papier mache/fibrefill cloud that she made, complete with acrylic crystal raindrops.

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To complete the look, I cleared out my previous display from the table in front of the cash desk (a rather inspired plaid/denim/logs/campfire look if I may say so myself) and gussied it up with a rainbow theme.

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This is quite restrained for me. I usually load this table up way more than that. I seem to have become the default table decorator in this spot and I have a lot of fun trawling the store for bits and bobs to include in my chosen theme.

There’s a big sale starting today that runs through the weekend and I feel like it’s going to be super busy today. So off I go, as I need to leave the house soon.

 

2018 – a review

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2018 – a review

One of the things I love to do at the end of the year is to look back through my Ravelry project pages and count how many Finished Objects there were. It is such a good way to record everything you make, what yarn you used, how much yarn, which patterns, and so on. I do sometimes make something more than once and it’s helpful to have a record of the hook or needle size I used with a particular project or yarn.

I just made a list of everything and here’s the final rundown:

  • Hats 20
  • Cowls/scarves/shawls 8
  • Dishcloths 8
  • Yarn ball holders 5
  • Phone/giftcard cosies 4
  • Blankets 3
  • Sweaters 3
  • Mini Christmas stockings 3
  • Mittens/fingerless mitts 3 prs
  • Cup cosies 3
  • Mini keychain backpacks 3
  • Earrings 2 prs
  • Afghan blocks 2
  • Rat sweaters 2
  • Doll and clothes 1
  • iPad stand 1
  • Mini cup and saucer 1
  • Crystal cosy 1
  • Nosewarmer 1

That makes 74 FOs for 2018 which means it was one of my more productive years. Amazing, considering I was out of action for part of the year after my snowboarding accident.

My favourite project of the year has to be my Groovyghan (pictured at the top of this post). 

My favourite hat? The one I just finished in two days flat and gave to one of my co-workers. Not only am I happy with the FO but I also had the satisfaction of giving it to her and seeing her reaction!

This was made with Red Heart With Love in Daffodil with extra touches of Holly Berry, Black and Eggshell. For more info, see my project page here.

I also finished the crocheted Candy Cane hat that I showed you as a WIP last time, and a brown slouchy beanie with some old stash yarn – James C Brett Marble Chunky.

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One of my current goals is to make beanies with the older acrylic in my stash and donate them.

Looking back on 2018, there have been some definite highs and lows. 

January: I set a goal to make 12 sweaters and sew 12 garments in 12 months. Well, the sewing was a bust. But I was going great guns on the knitting and crochet until…

February: Any and all plans were called off as I broke my wrist while snowboarding on Family Day, February 12th. I had a fetching pink cast applied to my right arm. img_7227

February 28th I had surgery for my distal radius fracture which involved acquiring a piece of titanium screwed to the bone, which will stay in indefinitely. I traded in my pink cast for a huge splinted dressing. Life was interesting, to say the least, with some pain and discomfort, and learning how to wash and dress with one hand.

March:  I was off work for nine weeks in all, so this month was all about recovery and not being able to drive, as my car is a manual/stick shift. I was so desperate to knit or crochet that I learned how to crochet left-handed with an adapted style. Knitting was too painful.

April: I was visiting rehab regularly to get my healing progress checked and finally returned to work. I also managed to get the Paper Bag Princess finished after a long hiatus for my grand-niece.

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May: I was back at the gym and doing all my usual activities. I was back into knitting – this hat was for my father-in-law and was my first knitting project after the break – and I was also sewing up project bags for fun.

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June: More project bag sewing, and some yarn stash organisation with my new yarn ball winder.

July: This was the peak of forest fire season, and we had multiple fires burning at once in our valley. fire

August: Tai Chi Man and I had an awesome vacation in Switzerland, spending time in the mountains near the Italian border and in the Bernese Oberland. We had a wonderful time, visiting his cousins and meeting up with other family members, and having some couple time for the last few days.

September: This was the month of the Groovyghan. It took almost exactly a month to make. It was a very addictive project.

October: In full swing, churning out lots of FOs.

November: Back to the hospital, this time to have a stapedectomy (replacement of the stapes with a prosthesis) in my right ear. This fixed the hearing loss that I had as a result of otosclerosis, a hereditary calcification and fusing of the bones in the inner ear. Now I am the proud owner of not one, not two, but THREE pieces of titanium (one in each ear and one in my wrist). Recovery from this surgery was painless and, thanks to a different drug, easy, without the insane vertigo that I experienced in 2015 when I had my left ear done.

December: We had a beautiful few days at one of our favourite retreats for our 31st wedding anniversary. There was a little scare with one of our sons suddenly having a partially collapsed lung. Chest pain led him to call 911 and he was taken to the hospital by ambulance (we were away at the time) and sent home in the morning with a pump in his side to draw out air and fluid from around the lung. Thankfully it was only needed for three days at which time they removed it and he seems to be fine now.

The lead-up to Christmas was pleasant, and we enjoyed lots of good eating including mountains of home-made fruit cake. I still have a fruit cake in the freezer. I ended up making four, two with wheat flour and two gluten-free. Cake #1 was scoffed by Tai Chi Man and me over about three days before Christmas. Cake #2 went with us to our friends on Christmas Day, where we had a lovely time playing games, exchanging gifts, eating too many calories and having a singalong around the piano. The remains came back and were demolished. Cake #3 went to work with me on Boxing Day and everyone seemed to enjoy that. Cake #4 will be defrosted later this week when I hope to get some of my friends together in one place for a belated Christmas cuppa.

I just remembered that, of the four jars of mincemeat I made, I still have one in the fridge, so there will have to be some more mince pies in the near future. The store where I work has a big sale every New Year’s so I had work today and will be going in tomorrow, but then I have five days off in a row. That will give me time to actually clean my house (rather overdue) and do some more baking. I hopped on the scale at the gym the other day and it wasn’t showing an upward trend so I think I’m OK!! We did go gymming every day for four days up until Christmas, and dragged the boys out for a long walk on Christmas Day, so the exercise has not been neglected.

What a year! I am looking forward to seeing what 2019 has in store. I hope you all have a wonderful year – you know it’s going to speed by and before we know it it’ll be Christmas again! Make the most of it!