100 days of blogging…over

So around 2 months ago I started with this idea of blogging for 100 days continuously, I knew it would be a challenge, however I had forgotten, that as an introvert – how much energy gets zapped from being out and busy. I don’t just retreat into my home away from people, but I can also find myself retreating from all things social including social media / my computer in general. So after 4 solid days of gigs and blogging I struggled to stay on track, found myself with several days backlog and then at some point… I just stopped.

I had family to visit and had planned a post on the fun, free, child friendly activities we did in Oxford ~ but the motivation wasn’t there. So knocking this on the head and realising that everyday-rain-or-shine goals don’t work for me. I still have plans to get back into the swing of regular blogging and writing, without unrealistic targets.

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Here’s a photo from our fun family day out which included walking around the community gardens in our local park, it really feels like you’re in the middle of a forest away from everyone, it was lovely weather and everyone enjoyed running around and kicking up leaves.

So my final challenge I’m working on for 2019, is a 40 in 40 list. Taking my inspiration from the site, Day Zero project, this is a special limited 40 goals to do in the year I turn 40 (if it was 40 before 40 I’d only have 6 months to do them all and even thinking of things for the list is taking its time! This way I double my time and can spend more time planning and executing, rather than coming up with pithy little goals to check the box.

Have you ever taken part in a day zero list? Got any suggestions for me?

 

Day 8/100 Spooktastic

I’m not actually that big on Halloween or scary movies, but a couple of years ago I had my second attempt at pumpkin carving and loved it! However over the past 6 years I’ve usually been out of the country for Iceland Airwaves so I normally miss the chance to carve (this year the festival is being held a week later than usual which is why I’m around).

The difference between my first pretty average pumpkin carving and that game changer was made with what was sold as a children’s pumpkin carving set from Poundland – the slim, serrated blade that looks almost like a hacksaw blade is surprisingly sharp but excellent at details.

So this years effort was a moomin and hattifatteners!

Let me know in the comments your favourite carvings!

Ritual Union

Day 7/100

I didn’t plan very well and therefore don’t have much to post about, so here’s a few photos from last weekend when we attended Ritual Union, a one day multi-venue festival featuring a good mix of local and not so local bands. Pictures here include Warmduscher, Boy Azooga, Husky Loops and Peaness. Can’t wait for next years tickets to go on sale

Day 6/100 Crochet Cosy

Fairly quick post tonight for day 6 of my hundred days blogging challenge: A few weeks ago as the weather started to get a bit chillier, at the weekends I statted to crack out the tea pot a bit more often, however the main problem was that the tea gets cold faster than I can drink it so I decided a tea cosy would be a good project.

The first challenge was finding the right pattern, given that I didn’t know the name for my style of teapot – turns out it’s a stump tea pot, which doesn’t sound very attractive! Once I had that info, a quick search threw up a few possibilities on Pinterest, but I went with one by Stephanelli Designs on Ravelry that was a cute striped number. I changed the ordering of the stripes to suit my taste but otherwise followed the pattern to a tee (badoom cha). The pattern uses a 5mm needle and worsted weight yarn, so I guessed that the acryllic I had from poundland would probably be the right weight and it seems to have worked well.

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Side view, hiding the unfinished ends

I think it was a very easy pattern, well written – which as I’ve found out is almost more important that the technicality of the stitches – basically if someone doesn’t explain how to do something in standard terms or very well, a pattern can quickly take a turn for the worse. Not with this – I started it about 8pm and worked on it whilst watching TV, so it took about 3 hours (not including the sewing in of ends which I haven’t done yet) and left me feeling very accomplished!

Looking foward to tomorrow’s tea staying warmer that bit longer!

Blackwell’s Blogger Event

Day 5/100.

I usually shelve posts like this as too long after the fact, but really – is it ever too late to learn about good books to buy? No, never, exactly! So on with the post…

A few weeks ago an invite landed in my inbox and I was very excited because I am not the sort of person who gets invited to things very often. This was an event for ‘bloggers, influencers and affiliates’ of Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford. Although Blackwell’s is a large well known brand across the UK, it’s still an independent bookshop and the flagship Oxford store is my local and I love it in there. Sooooo many books, the Norrington room is amazing.

Anyway, back to event – set in the afore mentioned Norrington room, plied with wine and snacks, we took a seat. The event was intended as a precursor to ‘Super Thursday‘ a popular event in bookland where over 500 books are released on one day, although this is the first I’ve heard of it. We (me and the actual, real book bloggers and people who get to write about this sort of thing for the local press) were treated to Blackwell’s staff telling us about the books they were excited about – some had been released recently, some were being released on Super Thursday but they also included some way older books.

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The passion of the various staff members was infectios, I cam away wishing I had hoards of child relatives to buy ALL the books for. However the ones that stood out for me included Art Matters by Neil Gaiman that was so cute I bought it there and then.

Bibliophile An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount- described as a love letter to all things bookish, is the latest project from Mount who has spent several years painting people’s bookshelves very beautifully. In this latest book she paints the world’s favourite bookshops, author workspaces to name a few. This one has gone on my wishlist already.

The Writer’s Map An Atlas of Imaginary Lands edited by Huw Lewis-Jones is probably the one I’m most excited about, being a bit of a map geek as well. This is a book that contains not only the maps you find drawn inside the pages of some of the most loved books, but also the maps that inspired them, sketches that authors have used whilst writing the stories. It’s a large format, hardback, book full of colour plates – I’m really wishing for this one in my Christmas stocking this year.

Brit(ish) On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch is another book that stood out, albeit more serious than the ones mentioned so far, particularly in the current UK climate. This book discusses British identity coupled with racism and history.

And the final book that grabbed my attention was Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill, this book is about “The fantastic lives of sixteen extraordinary Australian writers” the catch being, that they’re all made up, and we’ve been assured it’s very funny!

After the presentation of books that left most of us drooling, there was plenty of time to chat, buy books, look at books and we got a goodybag to go home with! Not that I need more books, I’m not complaining – several books, a lovely limited edition print (which I’m currently trying to find space to hang), a great pen (you know sometimes you get a pen that just writes SO NICE it makes you write with your best handwriting?, it was one of those), and all packaged in a very sturdy high quality tote! It was a fantastic event, to meet people who also get super excited by books and I was honored to be invited.

www.blackwells.co.uk

4/100 Learning a new language

Day 4/100 of my 100 days of blogging self set challenge. Today’s update is fresh. I recently decided to learn a bit of Icelandic. I’ve been learning Swedish for a little over 2 years on and off with Duolingo, but as I’m heading off in a few weeks on my seventh trip to Iceland it feels like this is the language I should be working on. I’ve always been interested in languages and that piqued even more after reading Lingo – A Language Spotter’s Guide To Europe, which is an enthralling book about where different languages originated, who borrowed from whom etc. I’d noticed several similarities between Swedish – Icelandic so this has definitely pulled me in a bit more – now I’ve gotten over the fear of pronunciation. Because that’s half the battle – learning the new sounds that your mother tongue doesn’t naturally make, it actually just reminds me of how I felt learning French in school the first time – all those rolling of Rrrrr’s and trying to remember what the different accents did to vowels – it’s really just that on a larger scale (please don’t tell me otherwise! I need to believe it).

So what am I using for language learning? Well Duolingo doesn’t have Icelandic (yet!), so that stays just for the Swedish. Memrise was one frequently mentioned on Facebook (facebook groups are good for something – plenty of language learners very ready and willing to swap tips and offer advice). I like Memrise in some respects, but it can be quite confusing in how they’ve structured it – for example you go from learning basics such as hello, good day, how are you? what are you called? to Are you attending the polyglot conference? I mean this maybe a bit of fun on their part.. but totally unnecessary I feel. And the clue is in the name, it does feel like you are just memorising phrases rather than learning in a usefully structured way – however it’s good for learning how words are pronounced but another downside is the ‘help me learn this’ sometimes it’s just a phonetically written version of the phrase, sometimes it’s some weird sentence that sounds similar but is clear nonsense. In the first 2-3 weeks, I kept with the free version, but it always tries to convince you to upgrade after your time limited session, eventually it will offer you a year’s subscription for not much more than a standard month, so I gave in given that it worked about about £2.50 a month.

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Random image from Drops…

Another app that is popular is Drops – basically a very beautifully designed app where words or phrases are dropped in from the top of the screen, in pictorial format – the voices for these are identical to the voices in the words by the instagram account Every Single Word In Icelandic (who also created the book – Iceland in Icons) – so I’m not sure if there’s a connection there or a generic voice/word bank that can be used. Drops is useful in that you can select what section to choose, ie basic phrases, numbers, foods  – however my only issue is that some of the icons are a little obscure and I can’t remember what they mean – so whilst I can match it to the correct word or phrase, I don’t actually know what it means. Drops gives you 5 minute bite-size sessions, logging in everyday gives you bonus time or you can go pro (also offers discounts like Memrise).

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I’ve also picked up a traditional phrase book (proper paper format) by Lonely Planet – part of their ‘Fast Talk’ series, this was a bargain coming in at under £3 – for almost 90 pocket sized pages. It includes what you’d expect – chatting, reading menus, transport and accommodation but also practicalities such as parts of the body and other healthcare related phrases you might need one day!

Finally there is a slightly more traditional course Icelandic Online run by the University of Iceland which I’ve just signed up to online and completed the first part of the ‘survival Icelandic’ aka level 0 (from a range of 0 – 5, where 5 is reading Icelandic literature).

Day 3/100 – No focus

I’ve read plenty of guides on how to get on with writing, all say that the most important part is showing up and doing, rather than not. So I’m showing up, but my plan to perhaps share some photos from tonight’s Oxford Drunken Knitwits has been hindered in part due to the fact that I didn’t take any! We met at the Victoria in Jericho which is a very cosy pub, that does pies very well, however my choice tonight was the halloumi fries – dangerous good. I made good headway with a shawl I’m crocheting for a friend’s birthday (Hlíf from from this Istex pattern book) and discussions about potential pub quiz subjects were bartered around.

Halloumi

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Halloumi Fries

I’ve since returned home and catching up with a program about Vikings from BBC4 a few evenings ago – A Time Watch Guide – Vikings Friend Or Foe. I’m not sure whether this is a re-run? or just contains many clips from the Neil Oliver series that was on – but I’ve certainly seen parts of it, but interesting non-the-less. One such part was how some researchers spent time getting DNA samples from Scottish Islands and other parts of the UK and tracing Norweigan strands which was then used to produce a map of where Viking heritage would be across the UK. Suffice to say, based on this my otherhalf is most certainly Viking given his Orcadian heritage (and obviously this explains the impressive beard).

Without getting too sidetracked I should probably get on with reading the afore mentioned Neil Oliver’s book about Viking’s that I bought earlier this year…

 

Day 2/100

It’s a lot harder than it looks, remembering to check in even for day two. What will I write about?

Well I’ve almost finished The Laughing Policeman by Scandi crime writing duo Sjöwall & Wahlöö. If you’re not familiar, Sjöwall & Wahlöö were a couple who wrote together up until Per Wahlöö’s death in the 70’s. They’re often referred to as the grandparents of crime fiction. Their joint series are often referred to as the Martin Beck series after the moody and very flawed protagonist. The laughing policeman is the 4th in the series, and I’m almost finished. I think i know who-dunnit unless I get thrown a curve ball in the last 20 or so pages – however this is entirely possible.

It’s quite different from today’s Scandi crime novels that are now so popular – with no DNA, or much forensics to go on, no computer databases or CCTV, the pace is even slower than usual. There’s also very different social issues and moral attitudes of post-war Sweden woven into the depths of these compelling novels.

If you have a favourite from this series let me know in the comments!

100 Days of Blogging

Day 1/100

I don’t really know where this came from (but it seems like it’s a popular blogging idea), aside from the fact that I was trying to come up with some sort of challenge to make me blog more. And whilst I could wait for the good’ ol NaBloPoMo to start in less than 2 weeks, I was keen as it felt like now or never. Although to be fair, it could be now and next week forgotten, much like the Artist’s Way, a sort of self-help book to get the creative juices flowing again.. I lasted a week. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed the forced started the day with writing 3 pages of anything, pouring the contents of your head into a journal never to be seen again, but the second week – I just had too much stuff on and the luxury of time just wasn’t on my side. But with a blog, I’m going to give myself some leeway and allow posts that are mostly pictures if I so choose.

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Not that I’m short of stuff to write about really – I’m going to Iceland Airwaves in a few weeks and I’ve been trying to listen to all the artists playing at least once – so that sure is a lot of music to blog about. Above is a shot from last year of the amazing intrumental For A Minor Reflection ~ I only realised this week that I’ve not processed about 80% of the photos from that trip… as things tend to get away with me. I’ve also been to a few bookish and non-bookish events that I hope to update on.

Anyway I hope you enjoy my self affliction for the next 3 and a bit months (if I make it that far).

 

Blog Challenge: Celebrating Freedom!

Day 10, last day! Can’t quite believe I stuck at it, but rather pleased I did. The last day’s challenge is quite simple, to read through your posts from the challenge and choose your favourite. After thinking it over for all of 30 seconds, it wasn’t hard to realise that day 8 was my favourite – taking time out to enjoy myself but reconnecting with creativity at the same time reminded me how valuable non-work actions can be for your work. I realised when writing yesterday’s post what the big take home message was for me – to plan realistically what I want to achieve with each day. As I work full time on my day job, finding time and energy to do my ‘spare time’ job on evenings and weekends when all I want to do is flop or have housework and other life stuff to do can make it difficult and overwhelming. Except with a little planning, and adjustment to my day I’ve found after only 10 days that I’m being more productive in the areas I want to be. Long may it continue.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 10