In order to do something different each week of the year, I have a list of challenges to undertake...

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Week 8 - Get a New Pair of Glasses

I first had specs as a teenager when I realised that I couldn't read the blackboard. I don't remember being particularly embarrassed about them, but then again, I don't seem to have any photos of me with them on. I suspect that it didn't occur to me to wear them outside class - despite being able to see more with them on. 

When I was in the 6th form, I went to have a pair of contact lenses which I paid for out of my Saturday job money, and although they were a bit of a faff, having to be washed every night with a cleaning agent, and soaked every week in a protein remover solution, I thought they were brilliant because I could see without my field of vision limited by the glasses frames. It was like having proper eyes!

Contact lens technology has moved on such that I now wear disposable daily lenses, which are even more brilliant, and I don't have to do any faffing around at all - just put 'em in, and at the end of the day, chuck em' out. Fab!

Spending money on the lenses means that I am reluctant to fork out on glasses too (even though I wear glasses every day, and only actually wear my lenses if I'm going out, either in the day or later on), which means that I last bought a pair of glasses a - er - considerable number of years ago. So it's high time I put my hand in my pocket and updated myself.

My friend Jane (who has got some sort of a clue about these things) came with me to Specsavers, and we started at the first display of frames and worked our way round........

....... and then we had to start again once we'd realised that I kept rejecting frames on the basis that they didn't look like the old ones, rather than because they didn't suit me.

 We found ones that I liked then took advice from one of the helpful staff who some pertinent points about head shapes, frame colours, and lens thickness, and tweaked our choice to a frame similar but more appropriate.

Of course, by that time you could have put those glasses on me that they use for eyetests and I would have said yes, so with that provisional choice in mind, I thanked Jane with lunch out at BHS (we know how to live!) and left to reflect overnight.

Back the next day, I went firm on what we'd decided previously, and yesterday I went and collected them. Although I am still not what you might call trendy, I have dragged myself very slightly further into the current century.

Before and after:

So that's week 8's challenge: done!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Week 7 - Complete a Quilt

Another hobby of mine, besides gardening, is quilting. I'd spent a year or so admiring the skills of quilters in blog-land when big sister Helen gave me a roll of different fabrics and a quilting book for Christmas 2010 with the words 'there's no excuse now not to get on with it!'

I started a blog (frankly, so I could ask for help when I got stuck), and since my first project of place mats and a table runner where I learned to find my way around a sewing machine early in 2011, I've completed three full quilts, and three baby play mats.

The fourth full quilt has been in the making for twelve months - it was part of a monthly quiltalong day where a number of quilters from around the world worked on a 'mystery quilt' which was put together by quilt designer Sue Abrey.

 It's been terrific fun - not least to see how all the other quilters have got on from all corners of the world, showing how they have laid the design out with their own choice of fabrics. Mine is a combination of Christmas prints, with a checkerboard backing; quilted with a holly leaf motif in a variegated metallic thread.

But I've fallen behind with the quilt - everyone else had their quilts done and dusted by Christmas, and I've still had some way to go. I have had a little leeway, though - I'm giving the quilt to my Godmother, who is not well at the moment and does feel the cold, so it's coming along with mum and me when we next go to Bedford to visit in a couple of weeks.

I had underestimated the amount of work left to complete the project, and have had to work like mad to get the binding sewn down, and even now, a day late on the challenge it still needs a label and a good wash and air, but then it'll be wrapped and ready to go.

So, week 7 challenge: done.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Week 6 - Complete a Jigsaw

I'm undecided about jigsaws - although they are fun to do, I always feel a bit guilty, as if I should be doing something more productive.

At least with other spare time hobbies, when you are reading, or going for a walk, or baking, or knitting, or doing a crossword - or even watching the tele - you get something out the other end, or it is generally good for you in some way.

Jigsaws - well, I mean, once you've spent some hours, over a number of days putting all those little pieces together, all you do is break it all up again! It hardly adds to your life - you might as well have not bothered and just die a bit earlier instead.

But that's a bit harsh, really - I think that there is a place for doing something just for the sake of doing it, it's fairly mindless, but at the end of the day, it's enjoyable, and you do get some sense of satisfaction at the other end.

I wish someone would tell that to my conscience, though, as it points out the pile of ironing or a dozen other things that I 'should' do instead...

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Week 5 - Visit a Cathedral

As one of our school holiday outings when we were little, mum used to take us on the train to Lichfield. We were only a ten minute walk from the station, and it's just half a dozen stops and twenty minutes or so to get there. We used to take a picnic to eat, and go round the cathedral.

It’s high time that I reacquainted myself with this magnificent building, so I picked mum up yesterday morning and we went to see what had changed in the intervening 30-odd years.

From our childhood visits, I remember in particular our picnic spot – mum has a photo of the three of us on the bench (alas no updated photo as although we hung around for ages in the cold, the couple who were sitting on the bench yesterday didn’t take the hint to bugger off); and I remember a marble memorial in the Cathedral called ‘The Sleeping Children’ behind which there was a tragic tale.

Differences between then and now included very helpful and friendly guides, a useful fact sheet to guide you round, a cafĂ© (obligatory toasted teacake eaten); a Saturday morning children’s choir rehearsal involving small children, gung-ho helpers, and song a with many verses whose chorus had the line ‘she pushed it up the drainpipe’ sung with much gusto and vigorous accompanying actions; and a not-so-discrete donations box.

We went round every part, every chapel, and read all the inscriptions, marvelling at the stone carvings, the brasswork, the monuments, the windows. We saw a small part of the Staffordshire Hoard on display – the intricate work on the gold pieces was astonishing.

And of course the Sleeping Children were still as I remembered them. No photography without a licence, so I bought a postcard of them in the small shop at the exit instead, and having had a thoroughly enjoyable and instructive couple of hours we were happy to contribute to that donations box after all.

So. Week 5 challenge - done.