22 September 2017

How Fit Are You?

Just lately I've been giving some thought to how fit I am. I think I'm pretty healthy and thought I was fit because I walk the dogs for over an hour at least 5 days a week, surely I must be fit doing that. But what does being fit mean? Is it about being able to climb the stairs without getting out of breath, going away for a weekend of hill walking, or an afternoon playing with the grandchildren in the park? It means different things to different people. According to a Google search being fit means: "Maintaining a healthy weight with diet and exercise relative to the amount of muscle, fat, bone, and other vital parts of the body", and being able to fulfil your daily needs and requirements without pain or stress. My weight and diet are usually good, with the occasional lapses, but the reason I've started thinking about fitness is because of something that happened about a week ago whilst walking the dogs. 
We were doing one of our usual routes alongside a field. The crop has been harvested and the field is now bare so you can see way over the other side of it, and way over there was a rabbit. Buster took off first swiftly followed by Rufus. There was no way I was going to get them back, they were focused on the chase. I knew they would give up and come back soon but my worry was that this particular field runs alongside a road and if the rabbit headed that way and ran into the road R & B would follow, they have no road sense. I started running, well a bit of fast walking and a bit of running, to cut a corner and try to get ahead of them. After a couple of minutes I saw them coming towards me, I was so relieved to see them and to stop running as I was very out of puff, my heart was going like the clappers. 
So the conclusion to this is that yes I'm fit enough to walk 1.5 miles a day but the pace of my walking doesn't exert my heart therefore do I need to start upping my activity? I've always been fit and enjoyed physical activities. I was a very good athlete at school and loved PE. In my 20's I went to exercise classes, and then gyms, did a bit of jogging, cycling and swimming, walks with the ramblers and hill walking, but dog walking is my only exercise now.  I would quite like to join a gym, but unless one opens next door to where I live I know I won't make the effort to drive there. I would like to start cycling again but the traffic on both country and main roads scares me. So ...... I have a few alternative options - I could start jogging around the village; I could go back to swimming; I could join a gentle keep fit class ......... but as a starter I am now walking at a faster pace, it isn't a route march but I can feel my heart rate working. I want to enjoy a good state of fitness for as long as possible.

10 September 2017

A Good Read

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

Lisbeth Salander lies in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital with a bullet wound to her head. She is fighting for her life in more ways than one: just two rooms away, under guard, is Zalechenko. Also, if and when she recovers she will be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. She plots revenge against the man who tried to kill her, and against the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life. 

The last of the trilogy. An excellent novel, a stunning thriller, didn’t want to put it down, but didn’t want to finish it, brilliantly written and totally gripping. The hefty 743 pages didn't flag at all.
The trilogy are the best books I have read. They score top marks on every front - character, story, atmosphere.

8 September 2017

WI 100 Years On

Last November I joined the Women's Institute. We have a small group in the village, just 11 of us. We are of similar ages, we get along and like the same things. This year marks the centenary of the founding of Essex WI and of our village group. 
A few of our members can remember their mothers, aunties or neighbours belonging to the village group. 
We decided on two celebrations - back in June we had a lunch on our normal meeting day for us, and a larger do in the village hall a couple of weeks later. 

Our tables looked very pretty

One of our ladies made these lovely jars of flowers using doilies, ribbon and netting

We all contributed towards our meal

My contribution - a bacon quiche

Desserts were Eton Mess, fruit salad and the best tiramasu I have ever tasted. 
I forgot to take photos - too busy eating them!!

The sun was shining, the doors were open, the birds were singing.
It was a truly happy afternoon. 

And an added bonus, I won the raffle, this little bag of WI goodies

A tea towel, pen, coasters, notelets, a centenary celebration book, a notebook and a lovely
WI cook book which not only has lots of delicious recipes but tells the story of how it all began, 
with details of WI resolutions and historical facts from home and abroad from 1915 to 2015. 

I love my WI brooch   

For the larger party guests were invited from WI  headquarters including our county Chair, trustees and advisors, 
members from other institutes in our group, past members, and a few people from the village

In true WI style an afternoon tea of M&S sandwiches, lots of homemade cakes, 
and cups of tea were available for everyone to enjoy.

We had some lovely gifts in the raffle (I wasn't lucky with this one)

A display of skills learned at institute meetings over the the past 100 years along with kitchen memorabilia.

I think every household in the land had some of those yellow Tupperware containers

My mother had scales like these, she threw them out in favour of plastic, being lighter and easy to clean!

Displays of past and current ongoing projects

our award winning tree from a nearby village Christmas festival last year

with a tea party theme

Handicraft projects. 
On the left, the mauve with white spots square is part of one of two quilts I have made, 
and top right is a yellow knitted lap blanket, one of eleven I have made!  

The Essex Chordsmen entertained us with us their barbershop harmony

 Madam Chair cutting our birthday cake

Everyone had a most enjoyable time.

I've had quite a busy week, working on my allotment, a funeral, WI meeting and my book group meeting. 
Today I'm feeling a bit out of sorts, I have a slight a headache. 
The weather is wet and  miserable so it's a sofa day. 
I'm going to try to catch up reading the blogs I follow.

I hope you are well and have a good weekend.

Polly x 

28 August 2017

A Good Read

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire

In the second of the trilogy we find Lisbeth in the Caribbean having laundered a few million dollars into a disguised bank account. From her hotel room she observes her neighbour, Dr Forbes, an American tourist physically abusing his wife, on several occasions. Lisbeth utilises her connections among hackers to investigate Dr Forbes and learns that he has no assets, but his wife is the heiress to a fortune worth $40 million. She also befriends introverted sixteen year old student George and begins tutoring him in mathematics. She enjoys his company because she finds it relaxing and he doesn't ask any personal questions. Eventually they develop a sexual relationship.  
As a hurricane strikes Lisbeth braves the strong wind and rain to collect George from his beach shack. On the way back to the safety of her hotel they see Dr Forbes and his wife on the beach and quickly realise that he is attempting to kill her. George and Mrs Forbes continue to the hotel, Lisbeth attacks Dr Forbes with his own weapon and abandons him to the elements. Lisbeth later returns to Stockholm.
Meanwhile back in Stockholm Michael Blomkvist has lost contact with Lisbeth as she refuses to open his letters. He is approached by Svensson, a journalist who has meticulously researched sex trafficking and the abuse of underage girls by high ranking figures, and asks Michael to investigate. Shortly before printing the story Svensson and his partner are shot dead and Lisbeth's fingerprints are found on the gun. 
The vile Nils Bjurman, Lisbeth's legal guardian, continues to brew a growing hatred for his ward, with a singular goal of capturing her and destroying the CDs. He scrutinizes Salander's medical records, which mentions an incident named "All the Evil" and also identifies a person from her past as his strongest ally. 

There's a lot going on in this book and we learn quite a bit about the horrific backstory that made Lisbeth the defensive, prickly person she is. I enjoyed this book as much as the first one.

24 August 2017

Buster's Diary

It's a while since we dogs did a post, not a lot has been happening, our lives are pretty much the same day after day - morning walk, sleep, food, bit of play, more sleep, a brush every couple of days and nail clipping now and again, calm routine until ........... cats, not one but two, moved in next door. Their previous cat was getting on and didn't wander very far, occasionally it sat on the front wall between our houses or in the flower borders in the front garden but never in the back garden. A few months ago she died and our neighbours got two kittens, sisters, they are pretty little things but our lives are in turmoil now. 
After a period of time confined to the house they started exploring, everywhere, on the allotments and in gardens. I think they are testing the saying about cats having nine lives because out of our row of 6 houses 4 of us have dogs and they have been seen in all the gardens!! The first time we saw one was when we went out after having dinner, there it was at the bottom of the garden. For a few seconds we and it froze, then we both took off. It dived behind the shed, through a gap in the fence and back to the safety of it's own garden. We've also seen one in a flower border now and again, and again the same process, it dives behind the shed through the gap, it drives us mad, Rufus is in a constant state of torment, he can't wait to get out every morning. It's the same routine - he crashes through the door, almost flies over the patio table and chairs, warp speed down the garden, round to the back of the shed hoping to find a cat, back to the front of the shed to look in the flower border then he does a wee!! I pretty much follow the same routine but I'm not quite so manic about it. Every now and then during the day if he hears a slight sound outside he repeats the process.
As if that wasn't enough we have a visiting hedgehog as well! Most of the time it's in a flower border and we don't bother jumping over the small green fencing around the beds, but the other night it was on the lawn. We were curious and barked at it and made a bit of a commotion. Scary Lady came out with a torch, scolded us, said we didn't want to get into an altercation with a hedgehog and sent us indoors. We're not sure if its the same one each time, it's quite large and looks very healthy, but Scary Lady found a flea on Rufus, she thinks it came from the hedgehog. 
Rufus has lost his squeaky toys, all 3 of them. They are usually around the house somewhere but they haven't been seen for ages and they haven't turned up in the garden, it's a mystery.

A HUGE badger sett has just appeared in a field alongside where we walk. It's difficult to get an accurate picture of how big it is. I'm pretty sure that Rufus or myself could fit into it, we wouldn't because Scary Lady tells us to come away from it. 

All this soil came from the hole, it would have been awesome to be able to watch them excavating it. 
Gotta go, we're going to get brushed.
Have a good weekend, Polly's daughter, grandson and son-in-law are due back from a holiday in Australia on Saturday, it will be good to see them.

Buster 🐾

13 August 2017

A Good Read

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

In the first book of the Millenium Trilogy Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of the Swedish political magazine Millennium, loses a libel case involving allegations about billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Soon afterwards he is invited to meet Henrik Vanger, retired CEO of the Vanger Corporation, unaware that Vanger has checked into his personal and professional history. The investigation was carried out by Lisbeth Salander a taciturn young woman, anti-social, fiercely private and highly intelligent; she works as a surveillance agent. 
Blomkvist is promised considerable financial reward and solid evidence against Wennerström in exchange for writing the Vanger family history. Vanger believes that his great-niece, Harriet, was murdered by a member of his family 36 years earlier, and has spent the intervening years obsessively trying to solve the mystery. 
Blomkvist moves to the island and begins his research into the history of the Vanger family and Harriet's disappearance. While searching through the evidence he decides that he needs a research assistant, Vanger's lawyer mentions Salander. When he sees the report she prepared for Vanger, Blomkvist realises that Salander has hacked into his computer. He confronts her, and Salander agrees to assist in the investigation. 
Lisbeth Salander is under the care of a legal guardian, Holger Palmgren, who suffers a stroke and is replaced by lawyer Nils Bjurman, a nasty piece of work who takes advantage of his position to beat and sexually abuse Lisbeth. After using a hidden camera to record Bjurman's assaults on her Lisbeth takes her revenge, torturing him and threatening to ruin him unless he gives her full control of her life and finances......

Now, I'm of the opinion that if a person commits a heinous crime against a helpless victim then the perpetrator deserves severe punishment, and the punishment that Lisbeth exacted on the odious Bjurman is divine.

There is violence, harsh language and some scenes of a sexual nature (love that phrase), but that's what happens when bad people do bad things. It is a brilliant story, very well crafted, I really couldn't put the book down, but didn't want to finish it. 
There are a lot of characters in this first novel so I wrote notes in the back of my book to keep track of who they all are.

I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed all three novels. I think Stieg Larsson was a brilliant writer. 

10 August 2017

Rain Rain Go Away

ok, so a few weeks ago I wanted rain for my garden and allotment, but there's just so much rain a person can take, so please for the love of God STOP. I don't think I have ever seen my lawn looking so green. With all this rain I can't do anything outside so I'm going to attempt to bring my blog up to date. 

I've been doing some work on my dolls house, and a bit of re-doing. After finishing the attic rooms I put the roof back on and - it wouldn't close properly! 

The top of the en-suite divider was just a few millimetres too long, it was sitting proud of the sloping walls 
that the roof rests on. Oh crap, extra work to correct it. 

Thankfully it wasn't as time consuming as I thought it would be. I had secured the divider with small dowels, all I had to do was drill three more holes in the divider, re-position the dowels, job done. 

It sits properly now.  
My current project is the bathroom, more of that later.

Staying on the subject of dollshouse, back in February I visited the Kensington Dollshouse Festival. This must be the Crème de la Crème of dolls house festivals. Exhibitors from around the world display their much talented work. I had a lovely day, saw a host of gorgeous miniatures that I couldn't afford and navigated the underground system with only two mistakes!! I have travelled solo to Australia, India, Africa and Everest, navigated through large international airports and tiny local airports, travelled in jeeps and trekked on foot to reach destinations but I still manage to board underground trains going the wrong way!! 

fancy a pharmacy

or a gym

maybe an operating theatre

or a café

a garden shed

a hotel

and yes, even a morgue

how cute are these baby things

I love rocking horses. 
I never had one but when I was a little girl my home town of Peterborough had a museum which had one on display and I was a regular visitor.

office with a 3D printer

child's steam engine and roundabout

this lovely blanket was crocheted using cotton thread and a 0.4 mm hook. Each square was then sewn together and two final rows crocheted around the edges. It took over 50 hours to complete. 

a bespoke dolls house for £17,000!! Made to your own spec. If I was wealthy I would definitely have one of these. It has openings on each side and the hallways go right through.

And finally this gorgeous masterpiece, an ancient stone trough planted with "Pearl Drift" roses, "Peter Pan" lavender and "Antioch" hostas. Now I get how exquisite this is and the time taken to create it, but £1,990, you can buy a really nice real life summer house for that!

I was specifically looking for a chandelier and bathroom items but there was very little bathroom stuff and the chandeliers started at £450!! 
I appreciate creating miniatures is a work of art but I can't help thinking that artisan is like vintage, just add those words and the prices increase.

I didn't leave empty handed though

I bought these for Mr Teen's room. The bottle of coke was £4 and the chocolate bar was £3. 
Sometimes I just lose control!!

Polly x 

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