Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Autumnal cycling....and cake

I had last weekend off, and was determined to get out on a decent bike ride, not just my 5 mile each way commute to work. I have really enjoyed cycling this summer. I started commuting back in April and steadily increased from twice a week to 4-5 times a week. Not startling but on top of a 39 hour physical shift work job it has been a sense of achievement to get much fitter. Of course the fabulous weather this summer has made it a lot easier. I have now reduced my hours but getting on a bike at just after 6am in the pitch black is also taking some determination. Especially now that it is regularly raining!! The upside is coming home in daylight at lunchtime, with time to do the cleaning knit in the afternoons, and no late shifts.

I bought myself a new bike for my birthday back in August as a reward for my staying power. It has an aluminium frame but is a road hybrid. My old one was a very heavy steel mountain bike. My route is mainly tarmaced cycle path but it can cope with grit paths too. I christened her Gertrude Lush, or Gert Lush for short, the highest form of praise in Bristolian slang! Here she is ready for the commute. She cost me the equivalent of three months of posh gym membership, never mind the saving on fuel=more yarn funds and a fitter me!
We live 3 miles south of Bristol city centre and can get there on cycle paths. My route to work is in the opposite direction across the north Somerset countryside. We are very lucky to have such good cycling routes here as mostly in England the roads are just far too busy and dangerous for cyclists. Bristol has just received funding for the first Dutch style cycle lanes in UK too!

Back to the excursion. OH was booked to play golf on Sunday when the weather was to be stunning, Saturday was forecast to be wet in the morning drying up at lunchtime. For once the weather agreed with the forecasters. Off we went.

We set off towards Bristol on Sustrans route 33 and headed off under the suspension bridge to Route 41, following the south bank of the River Avon from Bristol to Portishead. It was fabulous being off road and the autumnal leaves were stunning, but we could hear the urban existence of cars on the Portway on the other side of the river. After a few miles along quite remote forested path we came out  at a stunning angling lake.
Then out into the open and through the village of Pill. Here we are looking downstream to the west to Avonmouth docks and the motorway bridge....
 ....and in an easterly direction upstream back towards Pill and eventually Bristol.
We're cycling over the motorway bridge in a minute!

 Thank goodness for a big barrier separating us from the thundering lorries heading south on the M5!
We then found our way down to the Portway to follow the cycle lane on the north side of the river back to Bristol, admiring the climbers  climbing in the Avon Gorge. A fairly urban ride overall but very enjoyable.

When we got home, 21 miles later, I iced the cherry and almond traybake, I had made the night before, and we devoured a large hunk with a pot of tea, yum! It has grated marzipan in it and I should have used my brain and washed, dried and floured the halved cherries that were placed on the sponge, before baking, as I normally do to stop them sinking. It tastes good though. I am eating a slice now writing this!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Nellie the elephant packed her trunk..... DONE!

Nelliephant the elephant packed her trunk and off she went to live in Newcastle!
Our lovely middle daughter is 21 today and Nellie was part of her present, commissioned when she was home over the summer from university. Nellie will be renamed though apparently, she does not want to be part of the common herd.
The Nellie the Elephant African Flower Pattern is so clever, made up of crocheted African Flower Motifs; mainly pentagons with a few hexagons, octagons, one heptagon and a square too! Initially I joined the motifs as I went using the join as you go tutorial in the pattern, but I found it hard to see and it was slow progress, so I decided to switch to working the motifs and then sewing together which was far more preferable. Sewn above, join as you go at the bum end below!
The colours were chosen back in September by the birthday girl, from my Stylecraft Special DK stash, the pattern calls for 4 ply/fingering but by using a smallish 3.5mm hook I just made a bigger Nelliephant. I had to steal buttons from the cardigan I was wearing that night for her eyes!
Pictures were hastily snapped on my phone as I had rushed home from a half day at work to finish an ear, sew both ears on and make her plaited tail before packing her kicking and trumpeting into a bubblewrap parcel and bundling her off to the Post Office with an hour spare to the last post. Good old Royal Mail looked after her very well and she was safely delivered to the opposite end of the country in 24 hours.
Rear of the Year 2013
Nellie the Elephant finished 6th November 2013, started Sept 2013

FINISHED SIZE: Um, I forgot to measure!

YARN: Stylecraft Speacial DK
Parchment (main colour)
Pale rose
Candy floss

HOOK: 3.5mm

PATTERN: Nellie the Elephant African Flower crochet pattern by the talented Heidi Bears


I am just finishing off the border on my retro nautical throw so another "done" post is due very soon, and then I am going to knit <shock> <horror>
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