Sunday, July 31, 2011

I saw some great stuff today

Despite spending 99% of the day at work, I saw some great stuff today. These woven patches by Karen Barbe (complete with tutorial) are so pretty and look kind of achievable. I was getting worried about all the unticked items on my Craftathon 2011 list, but I think these would be a brilliant first mini weaving project. I'm very excited about trying them and should add that I found them via whipup. I'm so glad I've been inexplicably saving cereal boxes lately :)
I came across these amazing ojos de dios, or god's eyes as I always called them, through someone in my circle on etsy. They're made by a man called Jay Mohler and you can see his etsy shop (bursting at the seams with beautiful ojos de dios) here.
When I first opened my etsy shop, my friend Jennifer sent me a link to this cartoon by Natalie Dee. Oh, it does make me chuckle, especially since Jennifer and I used to make god's eyes together when we were in the good old Girl Guides. They looked much more like the one in this cartoon than the fabulous one above!
I walked home from work tonight because public transport doesn't exist at times you might need it on a Sunday (bah!) and I couldn't face getting a taxi. It's a bit of a long walk to undertake post-work and pregnant, but my spirits were lifted at a vital moment of exhaustion when I heard beautiful music coming from somewhere within the park. Eventually I spotted a man sheltering from the rain under a tree and playing one of these instruments, which is apparently called a balafon. It made a very lovely sound that almost made me cry, but then I was also in tears at the end of Crocodile Dundee 2 last night... It's me bleedin' hormones, guv'nor!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

kitten update

My sister emailed me the latest pictures of the kittens while I was at work today and I had to wait until I got home before I could see them.
How cute?! I think that one on the left here is my favourite, but it is a tough choice.
My parents are visiting my sister at the moment and my Mum is apparently smitten with the kittens. Can you blame her when four of them sit on her lap at once?
I still think my sister should keep them all. Look at the idyllic kitten home she has created.
Better go - my great big lump of a cat (we wouldn't have her any other way really) wants the computer's position on my lap.

Friday, July 29, 2011

must find mustard! please help!

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that I am planning (or should I say hoping - feeling a little overwhelmed with plans...) to make a ripple blanket for our baby, but I have hit a stumbling block before I have even begun.
I have a very specific colour palette in mind - dark turquoise/teal, dark brown, bright pink (just a little bit) and mustard.
I don't really go in for expensive, super-soft-type wools and tend to use whatever claims it's double knitting and machine washable and doesn't cost a lot of money. I think I usually end up using acrylic stuff, but I'm not very good at paying attention to labels.
I know I can get the blue, brown and pink wool that I'm looking for easily, but try as I might I can't find the right shade of mustard anywhere.
It needs to be a nice, rich mustard, something not too yellow, but different enough from the brown to be a real contrast.
Looking through old blog posts (where all these images came from) I can see that mustard is very important to me.
Anybody got any top tips of where I can find a few balls of cheap double knitting acrylic-type stuff in an amazing shade of mustard so that I can start crocheting? My own trawling of the shops/internet has not been successful so far.
Thank you!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

when hands come in handy

Some scenes from this weekend, modelled by my hands. Firstly, Graham found peas in the supermarket for me! Woo hoo! I have eaten more than is probably healthy. Yum.
I also finished the bunny ear hat. I think it looks a bit big for a newborn (said hopefully, knowing where that head is meant to go before it goes in this hat...) so I am glad I didn't go for the 0-3 months size in the end. Actually, this is the third time I've made this hat and every time it has come out slightly larger than anticipated, so I should have known. I am not a swatch maker, I just knit blindly. Still, better too big than too small. Now I need to knit a black cardigan to match so that our baby can look like this rabbit. Well, like the human version of that rabbit. I'm getting rather superstitious, careful what you wish for etc. Too much time spent reading fairy tales and watching Jim Henson's Storyteller as a child!

Better run - I need to leave for work in about 90 seconds.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

monkey business

Birthday Monkey by mooosh ♥ miso funky
Birthday Monkey, a photo by mooosh ♥ miso funky on Flickr.

Recently I've been hearing some strange noises coming from somewhere on the street outside our house. I usually hear them after dark and assumed it was a wily fox up to no good. But this morning I am sitting in the living room in broad daylight (unable to sleep past 5.30am as usual) and I heard the screaming chatter more noisily than ever. It actually sounds like a monkey species, and not the sort of friendly monkey species who might get a job as a yellow coat either. I feel like I'm in the jungle. While I was contemplating the thought of vicious monkeys on the street outside (I am not a monkey fan at all) something jumped into the tree branches right outside the window and started rocking the whole tree. Eep! I suspect this was the squirrel that sometimes stops by to torment the cats, but it still gave me a terrible fright. I'll be looking out for beady eyes, wrinkly fingers, yellow fangs and bared gums next time I leave the house. Shudder!

I wonder if the mysterious night-time garden visitor from a few months back was also of the ape variety, maybe a gorilla or an orangutan... Oh no! What a horrible thought!

Friday, July 22, 2011

satisfying segmentation of sewing supplies

For the longest time, my embroidery threads have been in a state of tangled disarray inside a little sewing basket. I couldn't see what colours I had or select a thread very easily. You will have to take my word for the horror because I couldn't find my camera the other day to take a before photo. What with the impending arrival, I need to clear up (clear out? eep!) my craft room so that it can become even more multipurpose. As well as its current dual purpose of crafting and cats' toileting, I think it will need to accommodate Graham (yes, a boy and his gadgets in my lovely girly room!) and a spare bed and various other gubbins. Obviously we will remove the cats' toilet if anyone needs to use the spare bed...
Anyway, this brings me on to this item of great loveliness that I've been meaning to blog about for over a year. My mum and dad got me this beautiful old sewing box (with a few lovely old things and family sewing heirlooms in it) for my 30th birthday. My new aim is to fit pretty much all my sewing accoutrements in this one box. I think with a little bit of planning (and some getting rid of things I don't really need) it could comfortably house all my basic sewing supplies plus some lovely extras. This would mean I could use and enjoy the beautiful sewing box even more and save a whole heap of space in the craft room. I'd also stand a better chance of finding things.
I'll try to share more of the box's loveliness (including the story behind my granny's stitch-picker) at some other point when there's more light for photos and more energy in my brain. In the meantime, here's the little sticker that's inside the lid. For some reason, the fact the box is Norwegian makes me love it all the more.
Would you look how perfectly my bobbins of embroidery thread fit in the top level of the box? It was obviously meant to be. Most satisfying :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

black and white baby

I've been up since 6.30am today, but thought I would make use of the morning by starting that knitting project I mentioned the other day. I'm making a baby hat with very cute rabbit ears on it, but controversially I am knitting it in black. Yes, black for a baby. I don't think I would ever use black to knit for anyone else's baby, but since this is for my baby, I know the mother won't be offended. Yes, I did say my baby. I am pregnant, 14 and a half weeks pregnant to be exact.
And here is the baby in question. Even I will admit it has a slightly alien face at the moment, but other than that it is very lovely. Well, Graham and I think so, at least :) We got this scan done a couple of weeks ago and it was truly amazing. We had to have a scan quite early on when the baby was just a jellybean with a heartbeat and even though I had been reading up on the baby's development week by week and knew it would be looking more like a human by now, I was still completely gobsmacked to see an actual person in there with ten fingers and perfectly formed feet. It literally went from jellybean to human in just five weeks! I'd also imagined the baby just kind of floating about in there, but it was moving about all over the place and even had the hiccups at one point. Now I like to imagine what the baby is up to when no-one is watching. I'm really looking forward to being able to feel it move and, yes, you can quote me on that when I am moaning about it kicking me and keeping me awake at night!

So it's all been very exciting. We found out I was pregnant while we were away in Scarborough and watched the pregnancy test turn positive in our room in the Grand Hotel. Since then, my plans for nine months of extreme tidying and organising have been scuppered by the fact that I've pretty much been puking and napping and that is it. I totally underestimated morning sickness and was ill 24/7 for about 7 weeks solid. You can actually track my pregnancy woes via this blog. The moment I went from blogging 20-odd times a month to next to never was the moment I started feeling ill. Over the last couple of weeks I've been feeling a bit better and, lo and behold, normal blogging service has almost been resumed! During these weeks/months I also developed an unfortunate association between quilling and vomiting, so that little project is still in its half-finished state as a result! Anyway, as I said, the worst of the puking seems to be in the past. I'm still a bit squeamish some days, but am enjoying having other days where I feel close to normal, and I'm hopeful that the fabled glowing will start soon!

We had only told a handful of people that we were expecting a baby before we got our 12 week scan, so it's been really nice sharing the news over the last couple of weeks. The future grandparents are especially delighted. We told my dad on his 60th birthday, which also took the pressure off in terms of finding the perfect present! Ha! Graham is telling the last person who might possibly have read it on my blog this afternoon, so I am safe to share it here now. I think. I haven't told anyone at work yet except my manager (who seemed genuinely delighted, which I thought was a really lovely reaction to someone essentially saying they'd be buggering off on maternity leave) and have been cruelly experimenting on my other colleagues to see who will be brave enough to be the first to ask whether I am pregnant or just fat. Mwahahaha! My belly was getting a few suspicious glances last weekend, but no outright questioning yet. Claire, if you're reading this, mum's the word! I know, so not funny... Just be grateful I'm not sharing the terrible joke about constipation that's running through my mind. I mention constipation only because so far it seems to be about the only side effect of pregnancy that I haven't had, touch wood. Or should I say touch cotton? Sorry, I just couldn't resist it. Actually, one of my workmates did have me sussed ages ago because of my sudden and excessive consumption of Heinz tomato soup. I was very impressed by her Columbo-esque deduction, but it was kind of early days, so I lied. Badly.
I've decided to keep the wonky granny square blanket for our own baby, partly because it's wonky, but mainly because I really like it. I should say it didn't look quite this wonky before I bundled it up in a bag to keep it out of harm's way.
The good thing about making blankets for my own baby is that I don't have to worry so much about the cats standing on it when I'm trying to take photos. Paws on a blanket will be the least of this baby's cat-related worries, I'm sure!

Yes, so it's happy times in our household. The stress/anxiety is beginning to niggle at the back of my mind now (a few too many knowingly raised eyebrows and "You don't know what you're letting yourselves in for"s for my liking) but I'm trying to cling on to the excitement of the whole situation and just focus on the many, many positives. I do know it's going to be hard, but I also think it's going to be amazing and fun and happy and I'm really delighted at the thought of doing this with Graham (who has already proved his dad credentials by taking care of me/the house/the cats in times of puking) and at the thought of us becoming a little family all of our own. I'm also really excited to find out just who is hiding in my belly. So far all we know is that it's a baby and that it gets the hiccups. There could be literally anyone in there!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

sobbing in the cinema on a saturday

Graham and I had been planning some sort of elaborate day out today, but the crazily changeable weather scuppered that plan, so we went to the cinema for an afternoon movie instead. Semi-randomly we went to see a Turkish film called Bal at the GFT. It was such a good film, very quiet and beautiful. As soon as I saw the little boy who was the main actor I knew the film was probably going to tug on my heartstrings at some point. I sniffled quietly for the last half hour of the film, thought I had pulled myself together and then had to be consoled by Graham as I sobbed on his shoulder once the lights went up. It was such a sweet and sad film and one that I would definitely recommend going to see if you are not as much of a softie as I am. If you're in Glasgow, it's on at the GFT until Thursday at least, screening times here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

laughter is the best medicine... maybe

I had a truly terrible day yesterday. I woke up feeling awful. The headache I'd had since the evening before had not eased off at all overnight and it was making me really miserable. I spent the morning moping about and rubbing my head a lot. In the afternoon I set off for work (probably not the best idea) and fell up the stairs while exiting the underground. Now, as well as a sore head, I had excruciatingly painful shins. I arrived at work and cried in the toilets for ten minutes before pulling myself together enough to enter the office. One hour later, my shins were more painful than ever. I went to the toilet to investigate my bruises and found that my leggings were stuck to a 20cm-long gash of raw flesh. I literally had no shin skin left and now have scars that would have put even my five-year-old self's legs to shame. I then spent over 90 minutes in a stuffy meeting about software that means nothing to me before being sent home early from work with a full-blown migraine :( I haven't had a migraine for almost eight years and had really hoped they were a thing of the past. Sadly not. Perhaps the brewing of this migraine explains the low spirits and extreme lazing of Tuesday though. Vindicated!

Anyway, with psychically good timing, my sister sent me the above picture last night and it really made me laugh. That'll show those pesky boys! Laughing did make my head hurt a bit more, but it was worth it to lift my spirits - much needed.

Today I am well slept, my headache has subsided to a dull throb and I'm feeling rather proud of my skint shins. I'm not sure whether returning to work today for a late shift from hell is the best decision, but I'm going to give it a go and just keep reminding myself that I am off all weekend and can continue my recovery then. Gah, I had forgotten how much migraines suck...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

day in the life a.k.a. apparently I am a serial toast eater

Tanning is Toast by govango_crafts
Tanning is Toast, a photo by govango_crafts on Flickr.

I forgot to make any notes for Day In The Life (see Claire's blog here for details) so this is unreliably done by memory, doubly difficult when it was such an uneventful day.

7.45am - Wake up feeling a bit confused about whether or not Graham has got up for work or will have already left. I find him in the kitchen eating his breakfast. He mistakenly thinks I am getting up for the day and talks me into quizzing him on the billion and one product codes he is trying to learn for work. Once I have done that I go to the toilet and go back to bed, hoping for more sleep and fearing I might get called in to work until midnight and not be able to stay awake. I am not very good at late shifts at the moment and am still recovering from working late all weekend.

9.00 am - Realise I won't be getting back to sleep, so I wriggle out from under the two cats who are lying on my belly purring and cleaning each other's ears to make two slices of toast with raspberry jam. A few days ago when I made toast, the toaster caught fire and I've been too scared to use it since. Today I investigate more closely and realise Graham must have cleaned and fixed it, so I can go back to making toast the lazy way instead of under the grill. I eat my toast in front of the telly in my dressing gown. I think I watched Friends or something. I don't usually like it, but am really enjoying it for some reason.

10am ish - I decide to finish crocheting my granny square blanket. The cats cotton on to the crochet coming out, so I have to crochet at strange angles as they try to sit on the nearly finished blanket. This is annoying, but reassures me that the blanket must be really cosy :) I spend five minutes admiring the finished blanket (I like it!) before going to get washed and dressed. I don't have the energy to wash my hair, but doubt I'll be seeing anyone today anyway.

11 am ish - I am back on the sofa watching more telly (Country House Rescue or something?) and fancying going back to bed. I am very tired.

11.30 am - Double-check my phone to make sure work haven't tried to call me in. Allow myself to start thinking I am probably safe and will have the day off. I also start thinking that if I do have the day off, it is not too late to try and be productive. I consider doing what I had claimed I was going to do - tidying up the craft room, doing a stock take and having a rethink about how to sell off lots of stuff quick stylee. This seems like a dauntingly large job, so I decide to start a knitting project instead. I feel very excited about this, but at no point in the day do I summon the energy to look out the knitting pattern and my circular needles :(

Edit: Something I forgot... Somewhere between these two times the postman arrived with a DVD from lovefilm and a picture from my niece, Kim. It was a picture of a curly-haired girl standing outside an amazing house with lots of flowers and it was very bright. Looks like someone has discovered highlighters... This perked me up a bit :)

12ish - I make two more slices of toast, this time with garlic and herb Philadelphia. This makes me feel a bit better. I switch off the telly and sit down to write a long-overdue and oft-promised letter to Rachel, my penfriend of about 17 years. Over the last couple of years she has had nothing but Christmas and birthday cards with a quick hello inside, so it feels good to write a proper letter, plus I have fun news to share for once.

1.15pm - I make two more slices of toast and this time I put my special savoury concoction on them. I have been visiting nostalgic food of my past lately and, not having eaten this concoction for years, am now having it on an almost daily basis. I grate some cheddar cheese into a bowl and mix it up with tinned sweetcorn, tomato ketchup and a spoonful of mayonnaise. I am aware this sounds really disgusting, but I love it. I eat this concoction (along with some fruit for its health benefits) and indulge myself by watching both Home And Away and Neighbours. I know, I know... The only time I have left the sofa today is to make toast.

For the rest of the afternoon, I send a few emails and blog about the music of car journeys in the '80s and generally spend more time lounging on the sofa. I switch to Challenge (another guilty pleasure!) and watch some Blockbusters. The hairstyles are really hilarious. I feel ropey and have a fruit Pastille ice lolly because these are like medicine to me and make me feel much better. I give in to the urge I've had all day and have a good long nap on the sofa. I wake up covered in cats and creases.

5.30pm - I tear myself away from the sofa and Gladiators to test out the Dyson, which I got fixed at the Dyson doctor the day before. I had to wait for the washed filter to dry out before I could test drive it. Graham comes home just as I start hoovering, which makes me look like I have been very productive all day. Hmmm. To my delight, the Dyson is back to the standard of its glory days and picks up more dirt in the hall alone than you would expect to have in your whole house. I put the pasta bakes (with added broccoli) I prepared yesterday into the oven and continue hoovering the rest of the flat.

6.00pm - Graham and I eat pasta bake with garlic bread (hmm, that's a bit like toast with garlic, really, isn't it?) while listening to Get It On on Radio Scotland. The theme is songs that transport you back to a specific place. I say I can't think of any. Later on Graham reads my blog and points out I had blogged about songs that transported me back to a certain place before I even knew that was the theme. Still, I'm not sure I would have liked to have had my name read out with a request for Barbara Dixon or Cliff Richard! After dinner I phone my mum and hear all the latest news about my dad and the cat. The cat is still being bullied by a seagull and my dad is claiming the cat tried to seduce him when they were home alone one afternoon.

7.00pm - Graham and I watch the Tour De France. I have a microwaveable sticky toffee pudding while I do. Graham claims he is too full for his, but then sniffs mine until I cave in and give him some.

8.00 - 10.00pm - Graham and I catch up on our days. You can imagine he was in for a great treat hearing about my bum on the sofa in a variety of positions! We were planning to watch a film, but are both too sleepy so we watch another episode of BBC 4's series on perfume (a surprisingly interesting series) and then go to bed, read a few pages, cuddle up and go to sleep. Zzzzz!

So that is my Day In The Life for July 12th 2011. Please don't judge me - this level of toast consumption, sofa lounging and telly watching is not typical behaviour, I promise! You can find out who else has taken part in Day In The Life here. I think I can safely guarantee they will all have had more interesting days than me!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

car journeys in the eighties

A while back my sister sent me a link to this song and I was instantly transported back to being in the car with our parents in the eighties. January February was on some sort of compilation tape (the only tape in the car from what I can remember!) along with this song by Cliff Richard.


We used to get so excited about going away in the car in the summer holidays. The only holidays we ever went on really were to stay with our grandparents in Islay, which involved about eight hours in the car before we even got to the ferry. Once our mum had worn out the Cliff and Barbara tape, my sister and I would sing all the way. For weeks before we set off Kerry and I would plan the journey meticulously. A big part of this was writing a numbered list of all the hundreds of songs we knew and stapling it together into a booklet, complete with illustrated cover. We'd get our mum and dad to pick a number and then sing the corresponding song. Particular favourites included Ging Gang Gooly (with our self-choreographed hand dance, which I can still remember), An Austrian Went Yodling, I Love To Go A-Wandering and the song from the Skol advert. The lyrics for this were, "Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol. Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol. Why aren't you singing? Because I've forgotten the words." Our poor parents... Then again, they did make us listen to Cliff and Barbara!

Monday, July 11, 2011

for mash get smash

for mash get smash by dropstitch
for mash get smash, a photo by dropstitch on Flickr.

Actually, if you're craving embroidered potatoes for dinner, I'm afraid you're too late to get one of my Smash embroideries as I sold the last one this week. I'm tempted to make another, but don't think I will. I have so much stuff that I've made taking up space in my house and brain and I'm loathe to make more stuff that I will have to look after for months/years before someone decides they want to give it a new home. Hmm, it's tricky. I haven't done a market in ages, so it would probably be good to do one of those and sell plenty of stuff in a lump sum. Of course, I know I'd end up panicking and making a million new things before the market so would end up with more stock at the end of the day! At the moment I could definitely and essentially do with more money and less clutter, so I suppose a super-duper sale in my etsy shop could be the way to go... But I don't really think a super-duper sale would lead to super-duper sales, if you see what I mean. I'd probably sell at the same slow rate and just make even less money for it. Hmmm. If I don't get called in to work tomorrow (please, please, please let me not get called in!) then perhaps I should have a bit of a tidy-up/stock-take and work out the lay of the land then. Crafting can be such a complicated hobby! Does anyone else have this problem, or does it only apply to a jack of all crafts like myself?

p.s. I do still have a Test Card Girl embroidery and a Thames TV embroidery in my shop if anyone wants to help me clear out and indulge their telly nostalgia at the same time ;)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

three reasons to like my job

Reason number one. Recently one of my colleagues, Helen, made this amazing tennis-ball cake to celebrate the Wimbledon final. How great is that?!
It tasted just as good on the inside as it looked on the outside - chocolatey deliciousness!
Reason number two. I have had rather a lot of DVD subtitling shifts lately (as opposed to TV subtitling shifts) and this is not generally a good thing, but I spent most of last week subtitling Lost Land Of The Tiger/Jaguar/Volcano, which were all really interesting. They found loads of amazing animals and new species, but the best thing of all about these programmes was Dr George McGavin the insect expert, pictured above in his element with a large moth on his face. I am seriously smitten with him and his accent and his enthusiasm for insects and life in general. Dear BBC, please make more programmes featuring George!

Reason number three. When I arrived at work last night, another colleague, Emma, told me she had had a dream about me and that it was probably the nicest dream she had ever had. She was at some sort of event with lots of stuff happening and part of that was a craft fair. Instead of stationary stalls, all the makers brought their own little wagon full of goodies. I was there and my wagon was pulled by a real live donkey covered in wrapping paper. My speciality was for making animals pretending to be other animals and Emma especially liked my dog pretending to be a monkey. Then her sister came in and said there was a room full of ballerinas who wouldn't start dancing until Emma went to watch them. When she went into the ballerina room, they were all holding plates and plates full of cakes. Her sister said, "The ballerinas won't eat any cakes, so we'll have to eat them all." Then Emma woke up feeling really happy. That does sound like a very nice dream, if you ask me, and I was delighted to be in it :)

I could probably give you more than three reasons not to like my job at the moment (the main ones being that it is SO HOT IN THERE and I keep having to do late shifts and just seem unable to sleep after them at the moment) but I will try to focus on the positives since I have to go in there for 10 long hours this afternoon/evening and don't want to cry at the thought. Cakes, nice people and Dr George McGavin. I repeat, cakes, nice people and Dr George McGavin. Cakes, nice people and Dr George McGavin. And enough money in my bank account to be able to feed myself.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

don't say I'm not good to you!

My sister now has eleven cats in her house - two mums and nine (yes, nine!) kittens. This means she had to buy eleven doses of worming tablets this week, but on the upside it means that I get emailed the cutest kitten pictures ever and can share them with you.
This wee black and white one is the runt of the first litter and really reminds me of Poppy, who was also a black and white runt (and kind of still is). Apparently this little kitten is working really hard to be loved and a campaign is being plotted by my sister and the children to keep this one, even though the official family line is that all kittens must be rehomed.
I think there are a few grey cats in the first litter, all boys if I remember rightly. I think this one looks like a boy anyway!
This one certainly knows how to strike a pose that highlights its teeny-tiny vulnerability. Aw!
Eep! This one is definitely my favourite. I wish you could send kittens by post. I'd take this one for sure if you could.
All three children are really loving the kittens now that the first litter are old enough to want to play, but apparently Ruth (my youngest niece) is loving them most of all.
I know how she feels - I kind of want to eat them too!

I am back in one of those stages where I have a long list of things I've been meaning to blog about and I'm sure some of them will have to slip by the wayside, but I will try to return soon to share the finished granny square blanket (just got a wee border to crochet) and an amazing cake made by a colleague. In the meantime, feel free to look at the kittens on at least a thrice-daily basis :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

ooh la la, les velos!

We are so excited about the start of the Tour de France in our house that I made a little bike-inspired treasury on etsy to celebrate. This was a very easy treasury to put together as the majority of bike-related items had a cheery greatness about them, so I had plenty to choose from after one quick search. Looks like I'm attracted to yellow at the minute too!

Graham (and his friends) have loved the Tour de France for ever. I always hated it when I was growing up and it was shown on Channel 4, partly because it seemed unbelievably dull and partly because it meant all the good shows like The Wonder Years weren't on for weeks on end. Since knowing Graham, I've gradually come to understand the attraction a bit more and have really enjoyed it over the last few years. The tactics and soap operas are great (it helps having an expert on hand to explain - I still had a lot of questions even last night) and I love watching mountain stages and sprint finishes. Plus the spectators and graffiti are really entertaining. There are lots of great old-school elements too, for example the way the cyclists grab newspapers from the spectators and shove them up their tops before starting a scary descent after a long climb. What other sport has world-class athletes using something as everyday as a newspaper as part of their equipment?

This year I think I will be supporting Andy Schleck. I was rooting for him last year and after the shocking chain incident of 2010 I think he deserves the win this time around. Oh, how I laughed at Contador's misfortune yesterday! Serves you right, Alberto! Given that Alberto Contador was my favourite a few years back, though, I wouldn't be surprised if my allegiances change halfway through the course. I still don't really know what's going on half the time, so reserve the right to be fickle!

Anyway, go and have a look at my lovely bike treasury :)

I'll be back later with news of a day's charity shopping yesterday.