Thursday, 30 August 2012

Woolsack Cushions- it's all over

Well, that's it, finished in the nick of time for the Paralympics, my final cushion was posted 2 days before the deadline! I managed to make 5 cushions in the end, all very basic, but hopefully someone will be happy with them!

My first cushion (top left with Murray and top right, on the ground) went to paralympic Archery for Team GB, Murray Elliot, who sent me a lovely tweet with a photo of him with the cushion to say thanks! He's Scottish and chose the cushion as it was knitted in Rowan Scottish Tweed. My second cushion was also knitted in Rowan Scottish Tweed and was reversible red/grey or pink/grey. My third cushion was special to me as I was able to present it to Team GB paralympic sprinter Ben Rushgrove, who came to my WI and did an amazing talk for us. This was also knitted in Rowan Scottish Tweed, in grey and lavender (I didn't know I was knitting for a man when I started it!) in a Fibonacci stripe patternfrom the Woolsack website. My fourth cushion was knitted using Woolsack donated yarn and was just stripes using the small amounts of coloured yarn I was sent. My final cushion was knitted in Rowan Scottish Tweed aran in gold and green colours (until I ran out of gold on the back) using the same 'Shadow lines' pattern as my first cushion, from the Woolsack website.

I've thoroughly enjoyed knitting the cushions and feeling that in some small way I was being part of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

If you want to see other cushions and how the whole project went, go to: and be amazed at how the whole project came together and some of the beautiful cushions people made- true works of art.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Summer Holidays, part 2

So, the other Major Event of the summer was our holiday to Florence and Pisa.

We've been to Italy before (Sorrento & Rome) but fancied somewhere further north in Tuscany this time.

Chris spent hours and hours researching where to stay on Tripadvisor before we went, but I have to say, it paid off! Our 3 star hotel in Florence 'Hotel Alba Palace' was literally 5 minutes walk from the station and perfect for the old town.

Me in front of the Ponte Vecchio

Me and Amy on The Ponte Vecchio
We spent 4 days/nights in Florence and had a cultural overload! There are lots of art galleries and museums to see and we did a lot! By far the best was the 'Uffizi' which has an amazing collection of art which even we could appreciate! My favourite painting was 'The birth of Venus' by Botticelli:

The Birth of Venus

Chris had a very near death experience in the Duomo, Florence's Cathedral, as he had his first ever asthma attack as we were almost at the top of the dome, in a very small, hot and stuffy place. It was a scary 30 minutes or so before he managed to get his breath to start walking down again. That's a holiday moment none of us will treasure.

We also visited the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza Della Signoria, Piazzlae Michelangelo, Piazza Della Repubblica, Palazzo Pitti, the Ponte Vecchio, the Galileo Museum and numerous markets.There was so much to see and do in Florence, it really is a beautiful city. The  atmosphere was much more laid back than Rome and the history is totally different, Renaissance, not Roman! We ate lots of pasta, pizza and gelato, drank iced-tea, Peroni and Chianti! (all in Tripadvisor approved places of course!)

View of Florence from Piazzlae Michelangelo

We than had a 1 hour train ride to Pisa for just an overnight stay before flying home. Our 4 star hotel in Pisa 'Grand Bonano' was a bit further from the station, about a 20 minute walk, but great for the Tower! Our first view of the Tower was quite breath-taking- man, does that tower lean! We posed (along with 100’s of other people doing exactly the same thing) for the obligatory ‘push the tower’ photographs, which are actually a lot harder to take than you’d think!

I'm pushing...

Following Chris’ near death experience in Florence, we played it safe and chose not to climb the tower, but went around the Cathedral and museum instead. I’m not sure if there is anything else to see in Pisa as we only had a few hours there, but it’s well worth a visit before the tower leans that little bit too far, or someone does what Amy suggested and ‘rebuilds it straight…’! You can take a horse to water and all that…!

So that was our Summer Holiday, Part 2!


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Summer Holidays 2012

Wow- the school holidays are flying by. We've managed to do two 'major' things in the holidays, but the rest of it has been a case of juggling work with childcare so hasn't been the most exciting time for Amy.

Anyway, on to the first major thing...we were part of the London 2012 Olympics!! We had tickets for the tennis on Tuesday 31st July, played at Wimbledon. We'd applied for lots of tickets last year, but only got one set, which was tennis. The tickets were for Court 1, you know, the one without a roof...Our trip started the day before, as we travelled down a day early so we could soak up the Olympic atmosphere in London. We saw the Olympic rings on Tower Bridge, on a barge on the Thames and forced Amy to have her photo taken with every 'Wenlock' or 'Mandeville' statue we saw as we walked around!

The Olympic Rings on Tower Bridge

Amy and Wenlock

Amy and Mandeville
 On the Tuesday the weather was overcast but dry, so we set off, all very excited. There's something infectious about being part of an event or a crowd that gets to everyone- people were really happy and the games makers were brilliant- at all of the station and en-route to give information and directions.

We walked around the practise courts first and saw Team GB's Heather Watson warming up with her coach, Judy Murray.

Heather Watson - Team GB

Judy Murray

We then went onto Centre Court and had our photo taken before play started, followed by our photo outside the front of the main building.

On Centre Court!

After that, we made our way to row Z on Court 1 in readiness for the first match, Tsonga of France against Raonic of Canada. It started well, but rain stopped play in the second set, for hours...Play eventually restarted and the match went to a third, deciding set...Unfortunately, neither player wanted to lose, and as there's no tie break, the match went on and on...We had to leave at 6pm in order to get back to collect our car and drive home, so had to leave the one and only match we'd seen before the end, with the score at 18-18 after 3 hours and 11 minutes of play! It was eventually won by Tsonga, 25-23 (I think). Heather Watson (GB) was on next, but we had to listen to that on the radio as we drove along the M4! Despite losing half the day to rain and only seeing one match, it was a fabulous day and quite amazing to know that we had been part of the London 2012 Olympics!!

Tsonga v Raonic, Court One
 We loved every moment of the Olympics, and were so proud of Team many medals to so many fantastic and dedicated athletes. My personal highlights were Andy Murray winning gold in the tennis, Beth Tweddle winning Bronze in the uneven bars, Louis Smith winning silver and Max Whitlock winning bronze in the pommel horse, the Men's gymnastic team winning bronze in the all around, Chris Hoy's golds...I could go on and on...the whole thing was amazing!

Now bring on the paralympics!!

Major event 2 to follow in my next post.