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

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Week 43 - Make Christmas Decorations

There's a Christmas Fair at mum's church at the end of November each year, and they are always looking for donations for the various stalls (books, china, cakes etc), and as ever, she asked if I had anything that might fit the bill that I could contribute.

Well, I'd recently chatted with my colleague about Christmas crafts, and we'd been thinking about making Christmas decorations - I am a member of a monthly on-line sewing circle - and we're looking at all sorts of Christmas projects at the mo.

I figured that if I could donate some hand-made Christmas decorations from a design that we thought up between us for the sew-in; then they could be sold on the 'handicrafts' stall.

So this weekend I have been gathering fabric, ribbon, beads and bells; and cutting, sewing and embellishing.

This is what the finished tree decorations look like hanging from a makeshift tree - a couple of dozen more to finish, but in essence, that's my week 43 Challenge done!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Week 42 - Catch a Falling Leaf

Back from holiday, and all of a sudden, it's Autumn! Although I love the crisp mornings, the sunshine, the beautiful colours of the trees, what I DO NOT love is the nights drawing in the cold, and the rain. Pah!

Let's focus on the positives, though - I'm really fortunate to live a five minute jog away from Sutton Park, and it is very beautiful at this time of year, with its ancient woodlands, heaths and lakes. Well, it's lovely at any time of the year, but Autumn is particularly good. 

As I know from the forty odd Autumns that I have walked through the woodlands in the park, catching falling leaves is deceptively difficult - those lazy, drifting, golden flakes have a life of their own and skitter away from your outstretched hand and tumble to the floor leaving you snatching at thin air.

I was determined not to be beaten this year, though, and headed this morning in the glorious sunshine to one of my favourite woodlands.

Half an hour later, I moved to a less favourite, but more secluded woodland, as I was starting to look like the local loony and was getting some funny looks from the good folk of Sutton who were out in force enjoying the day.

My tenacity paid off - no action shot of me actually catching it, of course, as I had enough trouble with the damn leaf as it was, but here is the leaf, and it's tree. 

And my week 42 Challenge is done!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Week 41 - Eat Something New

I like to think I have a cosmopolitan view of the world's foodstuffs, and have a varied diet, and am competent - if basic - cook. Having said that, I find that I do cook the same dozen or so meals (with some variations) pretty much all the time.

So one of the joys of being away is to eat things you aren't used to eating at home, and I'm back from my holidays with lots of inspiration of dishes which I would like to try.

But more than eating something cooked a bit differently, or with a different sauce, or accompaniment, being in that different environment also gives you the opportunity of eating something completely new.

I'm up for that - the worst that can happen is that you don't like it, and you might discover an absolute gem. So sitting under the olive tree one lunchtime at a restaurant overlooking the harbour at Los Abrigos, I spotted 'chopitos fritos' on the menu - lightly battered and fried baby squid.

Never had that before, but in for a penny and all that. And I'm so glad I went for it - they are delicious! Although the faint of heart might not want to look too closely at all those squiggly legs.

Yum, yum, yum - my week 41 Challenge, done!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Week 40 - Go Rockpooling

When I was little, I was always puzzled after the summer holidays back at school when my friends would say what a great time they had on holiday; on the beach, in the sea, suncream, sandcastles, ice creams, the lot. 

Now we also had a great time on holiday, and went to the seaside, but our experiences in the north of Scotland on the Moray Firth were more in the way of stony beaches, cutting north wind, terrific waves from the angry stormy sea, and - of course - rockpools.

These days, I prefer my beaches sandy, and my seas warm, and if you can conjure up a palm tree or two, so much the better.

But I am still fascinated by rockpools - those micro worlds with their miniature creatures, and here on holiday, the the rocky headland by a favourite beach provided just the thing.

With the light reflecting in the water, it was nearly impossible to take photos of this rocky 6' by 4' world - there was a shoal of fish in the 2' depths, mini clams on the shallow slope, a sea slug which looked like a piece of seaweed marching along the sandy section, and a catfish keeping to the miniature vertical side, darting through the inch high sea grass waving in the ripples.

I was so preoccupied with this microcosm that I nearly missed this chap - 8" toe to toe, but fortunately for me, heading away to the waves.

I love it - my week 40 Challenge, done!