Friday 30 May 2014


I have the nicest commute at the moment.  I work strange hours so I'm never travelling at peak times, which means the tubes are not too rammed; most of the time I can get a seat.  I just have to travel six stops, and I can get from home to work in about half an hour.  

The hospital is in the City - an area of London that I know very well because I worked there when I was an accountant for many years.  I find myself taking out my phone and snapping pictures every day, because this part of London is just so photogenic.

9:15pm - leaving work. St. Paul's Cathedral and a hazy moon. #london #night #moon #nofilter #stpauls

Early morning in the City #london #nofilter #sunshine

Heading home. Back in for an early shift tomorrow #london #tube #stpauls #tired

Majestic #stpauls #london #sunshine #blueskies #nofilter

7:40pm - the City is deserted at weekends. This is at St Paul's looking west towards the Old Bailey #london #weekend #nightshift

Taxis, taking people home. #work #london #spring #evening

6:45am - St Paul's and the police helicopter #London #morning

Wednesday 14 May 2014

A top in blue voile

As well as the children's exams, I am also starting a new placement and embarking on the nerve wracking process of job hunting at the moment.  

On a day off on Monday I decided the best thing I could do to create some calm and light relief in my week was to embark on some sewing.  Inspired by all the beautiful clothes appearing in my Instagram feed for Me Made May (and especially those put up by Liesl and Suse), I cut into my precious piece of Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks voile and made myself another Lisette market dress tunic.  I wear both the ones I made earlier in the year constantly; they look so good with trousers and a cardi or a scarf.

The voile is sumptuous - soft, drapey, feminine and luxurious.  It is also surprisingly non-sweary to sew with.  It feels as though it should slither all over my table, but it doesn't.  Pleasingly I also found a length of narrow velvet ribbon which my grandmother had given me, in exactly the right shade of yellow to match the centre of the flowers on the fabric, so I hemmed the top with that.

A happy few hours sewing, and a luxurious-feeling new blue top.  I just wish it was easier to find a place in my house to take full length photos of myself (and a clean mirror!).

...and it's very hard to find a decent full length mirror in our house #top #sewing #handmade

Meet my new favourite top. I finally used this beautiful fabric. #sewing #top #handmade #voile #productivedayoff

Monday 12 May 2014

Exam food

The children both have exams this week Olivia has her Year 6 SATs - four consecutive mornings of maths and English exams - and Cam has his first two biology GCSE exams; his third exam is in a few weeks' time.  They're taking it all in their stride, but I know that they're tired and tense too.  This feels like the start of many, many years of exams-in-May as they each work their way through GCSEs, AS levels and A levels (and beyond).

Tired teenager: school and GCSE revision taking their toll. #school #gcse #tired #window
Cam, flopped on the sofa after a day at school and two hours of revision

I expanded the family rule of "When someone has a birthday, they choose what the family has for supper", to "When someone has a birthday or does an exam, they choose what the family has for supper".  Tonight we had Olivia's choice of beefburgers (nice, juicy quarterpounder steak burgers from Waitrose), oven chips, and rather specifically "carrots cut like coins, not sticks".  Very nice.  I don't often cook burgers so this felt like the treat it was meant to be.  Much ketchup was applied.

Cam's choice, which we are having on Friday, is lasagna, garlic bread and sweetcorn.  I don't often make a lasagna as it feels like too much faff at the end of a long day, so again this will be a special treat.  I love how both their choices are simple, slightly retro and not at all the sort of thing I normally cook.

My contribution has been to make them orange-scented buns for after school - I think they definitely deserve a sweet treat this week. 

Orange buns for Cam and Olivia - they have GCSEs and SATs this week, poor loves #exams #treats #baking #buns

Do you have any exam rituals in your house?  Any pre- or post-exam food favourites? Personally I don't really care what I eat after an exam as long as I have a big breakfast involving oats and bananas for breakfast beforehand.

Friday 2 May 2014

Cycling in the Olympic Park

It's the time of year where I think about pulling my bike out from under its covers and using it again.  I am strictly a fair weather cyclist, and I would never dream of combining lycra with a bike.  I know - with some sort of spooky sixth sense - that it would not be a good look for me.

Graham and I went for a gentle, pottering sort of ride around the Olympic Park last weekend; now formally known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and fully open to the public once again.  It's a very big place, and we wanted to have a good explore and get to know our way around this new part of our local neighbourhood.  The aquatics centre opened a couple of months ago, and now hundreds of acres of parkland and the velopark are open too.  There are only a few more bits still to open (the Hockey and Tennis Centre next month, the Canal Park towards the end of this year and finally the stadium in 2016).

The velodrome - you can see part of the road track and the BMX track in front of it - all three are open to the public now. The mountain bike tracks are still being landscaped and will be open soon. #velopark #london

The velopark is the section closest to our house; it takes me just four and a half minutes to cycle there.  The indoor race track, the outdoor 'road' track and the BMX trails are all open at the velopark, and anybody can book a session and ride.  You can even hire a bike and take lessons if you want to.  There will be a massive network of mountain biking trails opening too later this year.  For now, I just wanted to stop off (there are plenty of bike racks outside, of course!) and have a look round.  We wandered into the velodrome and sat down for ten minutes to watch a local cycling club do some time trials.  I really want to have a go at track cycling, and I am totally going to book one of their taster sessions once I have settled into my new placement.

Back at the velopark - getting new tyres put on my bike so that I can cycle to work during next week's tube strike. There is a very helpful, friendly branch of @CycleSurgery in the velodrome. #velopark #bike  

Allez, allez, allez!!

There is a very friendly branch of Cycle Surgery in the ground floor of the velodrome, and they didn't look even slightly fazed when I wheeled in my enormous sit-up-and-beg bike (with basket, obviously) to get a new tyre put on.  Admittedly my bike did look a little ordinary next to the shiny, sleek racers they had on display.

There's a cafe upstairs, where you can drink coffee and watch what's going on on the track below while the mechanics fit your new tyre.  Or you could walk round the corner to the Unity Kitchen Cafe and then sit outside under a tree for twenty minutes with a cup of coffee and a croissant, listening to the sound of birds in the trees and children enjoying one of the enormous new playgrounds, and just try and remember the polluted, industrial wasteland that was in the same place just ten years ago.  It's getting increasingly difficult to do.  Our part of East London was utterly transformed by the 2012 Olympics, and have to pinch myself sometimes when I think that all this splendour is now just four minutes away by bike.