Friday 12 December 2014

Birthday Boy ...

Yesterday was my little boy's birthday. He's just turned nine. Nine! His last year in single digits. Where has the time gone to? It seems as though it were only yesterday when he arrived in this world, and at the same time it seems like a lifetime ago since I became a mum.

Yesterday nine years' ago, on the morning of his birth, the good folk of Ealing were woken from their sleep by a huge explosion at the Buncefield oil storage depot down the road in Hemel Hempstead. They say that the explosion was heard clearly by people in Belgium and France. It made a phenomenal noise. I remember it very clearly: I was in the maternity ward in Ealing hospital, feeling the onset of my labour pains. I was with a group of other expectant mums and we were all curious to know what had happened, but none of us had too much emotional energy to spare on fretting about who might have been affected, or what might have happened. Sirens wailed, and a nice nurse told us there had been an explosion. I remember lying there thinking that my baby and I should at least be safe in the hospital. Even in the darkest days of the Troubles in Northern Ireland the people with bombs hadn't blown up the hospitals.

Then twelve hours' later my little bundle of joy arrived, and I knew immediately that my world had just become a better place. I have never done drugs, but I don't think any chemical stimulant could ever compete with the high, that feeling of complete and utter elation that followed the birth of my first and only child. All the pain of the delivery ward was forgotten in an instant, and the only thing that I could think about was this precious new life that I held in my arms. 

Yesterday was also Emi's last day of school. They ended at midday with a final assembly at which everyone sang Christmas carols and cheered like crazy kids about the House Cup (an unprecedented three-way draw).

After a birthday lunch we went for a walk in Walpole Park, our local park here in Ealing. It was freezing, and I do mean proper Siberian wind-chilled freezing. A weak sun hung at an awkward angle in the sky blinding everyone who walked into it.

It was bleak. There weren't many people there who didn't need to be there. Lots of folk cut through the park to get from one part of Ealing to another. It's a bit of a thoroughfare. I often walk through it with the Wonder Dog when I'm picking Emi up from school.  A bit of green space is always a welcome change from the bustling streets.

We saw this lady (photo below) struggling home with her dog, her bike and her newly-purchased Christmas tree. I hope she had a lovely time decorating it at home in the warm embrace of a blazing fire.

In the evening Emi had an invitation to another party, and today he's been invited out to lunch by his TiĆ” Jenny. Jenny is one of my dearest and closest friends, who's an honorary auntie. She's taking him into town for a proper grown-up lunch, and then they're going to see the Christmas lights. He's loving the importance of having a lunch-date!

All the best for a lovely weekend,

Bonny x
As shared on Friday Finds

Monday 8 December 2014

A Christmas tree Christmas tree ball ... and not writing Christmas cards ...

Phew it's been a busy weekend. We had twenty little chums over to celebrate Emi's 9th birthday with a Scalextric Grand Prix party. It was brilliant! If you're in the London area and looking for a boy's birthday party idea this one's a winner.

We went to PitStop Promotions in the Northwood Hills, where the lovely Sam, hosted a joint party for Emi and his best friend, B. He did a great job of keeping everyone busy all the time, which was easier said than done given that only eight out of the twenty boys could race at any given time. A dozen pairs of idle nine year-old hands could do disastrous things to his very expensive racing kit unless they were kept out of mischief. Happily Sam rose to the challenge and the chaps who weren't racing were usefully employed as track marshals. And, boy, did they like their grown-up titles. Track marshal sounded almost as good as racing driver. If a car came off its designated track they had the all-important task of picking it up and putting it back on again so that it could continue in the race. Spread out around the (very long) track the marshals were each responsible for keeping the cars going over a metre or two of the race. And by the second race every last one of them was an expert in marshalling.

If you're interested in using Sam and his company, you can find their website here: Pitstop Promotions.

I'm still struggling with my Christmas cards. I seem to be very behind. Other years I've managed to do some photo cards to send to close friends and family, but this year I've totally missed the boat on getting my own cards printed.

Today I raced up to Bicester to buy presents for some fashion conscious friends. Bicester rocks, but it gets so busy at this time of year. I arrived at half past nine, and, whilst I didn't have the place to myself, there weren't that many people around until about half past eleven. Then it really filled up. I decided to go home when I was asked to wait outside one shop because there were too many people inside. It didn't seem to be crazy busy to me, and I had a strong suspicion that the doorman was just being a bit of a jobsworth, but, as I refuse to queue, I gave up and called it a day. To be honest a couple of hours looking at clothes shops is pretty close to my upper tolerance limit anyway. I don't understand those people who go to the shops for a day/ afternoon out. Unless I want to buy something I'd really rather not be there at all, and when it gets busy with everyone pushing along with their elbows out: I'm so outta there!

As it happens I got a lovely present for each of the people that I set out to buy something for, so my outing was a great success. Maxi the Wonder Dog waited patiently for me in the car, because the kill joys who run the place have an anti-dog policy. I did think of telling a little white lie (OK, a great big whopper of a black lie) about him being my assistance dog, but, as he usually travels through crowded areas in my tote bag to avoid being trampled I thought we may not look totally convincing in our assisting/ being assisted roles. 

Yes, I can assist by barking at cats, or barking at people wearing hats <really doesn't like hats> or ... well, just barking...
And in between baking birthday party brownies (much more practical than cake), not writing Christmas cards and doing some Christmas shopping I have managed to knock out another Christmas tree ball. 

Ta-dah! My Christmas tree Christmas tree ball:

If you fancy making it here's the chart for how it knits up:

The method is the same as for my Union Jack Christmas tree ball, so check out the link if you need any more instructions. 

Anyway, happy knitting, and all the best for now,

Bonny x
As shared on Creative Mondays

Friday 5 December 2014

Advent count-down ...

I've been really busy this week ... knitting balls for my Christmas tree, shopping for pressies and waiting for the delivery man to arrive with on-line purchases.

The Christmas tree is up and looking very twinkly. We all love hanging out in our cosy little den, where it holds pride of place, as we snuggle up to the fire. The weather has finally woken up the fact that it's winter, which has helped get us all into the festive spirit. Emi's got another week of school, but he's already de-mob happy as they've done all the end-of-term assessments this week and he feels as though he's just cruising for the holidays.

He's going to be nine on 11th December, and this Saturday he's having his birthday party with one of his best friends, who also has a December birthday. We've got twenty of their chums pitching up for a Scalextric Grand Prix party. Everyone is very excited, especially Mr B, who is really enjoying this second opportunity to play with boy's toys. 

Lego-made model of the Queen Mary

They (Emi and Mr B) went to the Brick 2014 exhibition last weekend and came home so enthused about all the projects that they were going to make. Indeed Mr B spent much of his Sunday afternoon googling the best type of glue - yes, glue! - to stick their masterpieces together with, so that they would never have to be dismantled. Eeek! This is beginning to sound a little bit scary. I'd hoped we would all grow out of the Lego phase so that I could smarten the place up a bit: big boxes of Lego and half-built projects littered about don't always hit the high design notes that I might otherwise aspire to. 

Lego-made model of the space shuttle

One of the things that they talked about for ages and ages was the Cube Stormer 3, a made-entirely-out-of-Lego computer that can solve a Rubiks cube in under three and a half seconds. It all sounded a bit unlikely to me, but they had made a video of the machine in action, which they showed me to prove that it really could do what they claimed. I've actually found a better video on YouTube: Cube Stormer 3 Video, which includes an interview with the engineer who designed it and a demonstration of what it can do. It's kind of incredible that someone should spend their free time building something as complicated and eccentric as this.  Whilst my heart goes out to his wife, who appears to have lost the use of her dining room for quite some time, there's a little part of me that thinks it's really cool for someone to be so passionate about such an odd thing. It kind of epitomises the best of British eccentricity. And I can say that because I'm Irish, not British, and therefore not patting myself on the back when I make the statement ... . 

Cube Stormer 3

St. Pancras Station - in Lego

Lego City - in Lego

Whilst my boys have been busy following their Lego dreams, I've been busy doing my own thing. I've made a load of Christmas mincemeat, which will be useful for knocking out some mince pies when friends pop in over the holidays. With a bit of ready-rolled puff pastry in the fridge I'm all set for those impromptu visitors who drop in over the holidays. I can knock out sausage rolls and mince pies in a flash.

And how do you like my trio of retro-chic knitted Christmas tree balls?

The first one is a Christmas Cockerel. You can find instructions on how to make him here: Rudolf, the Christmas .... cockerel (!) He was originally supposed to have been a reindeer, but somehow the nose looked much more like a beak, so I did a bit of jiggery-pokery (technical term in knitting) and turned him into a Christmas cockerel. At a stretch we could even pretend he was the main course for the Big Day ... .

Number two was a little homage to the Union Jack. OK, maybe some imagination is called for ..., but if you'd like to make it the pattern is here: Union Jack Christmas Ball.

And, finally, number three is my Christmas Diamonds pattern.

Emi is getting so enthusiastic about all this drawing on squared paper and knitting up the picture business that he's designed a Christmas Ball of his own. It features a Churchill tank with a great big gun mounted on a turret. As a festive motif if may be limited appeal save in the case of an esoteric audience of eight, soon-to-be-nine year-old boys who play World of Tanks on line.

Anyway, wishing you all a great weekend,

Bonny x

As shared on Friday Finds

Thursday 4 December 2014

How to knit another retro-chic Rudolf, the red-nosed ... cockerel ... Christmas ball ...

OK. I'll be honest this one was originally intended to be that famous old red-nosed reindeer who saved Christmas with his luminescent nose.

But you know how things don't always finish up how you'd envisaged? Well, by the time I got past Rudolf's nose it looked more like a beak, so I did a quick change around; four legs became two, and I managed to persuade myself that what had started out as a set of antlers could pass for a rather splendid cockerel's comb.

So what do you think?

Anyway if you'd like to make it, here's the chart: 

The method is the same as for my first Union Jack Christmas Tree ball

If you're looking for inspiration you might also like my Diamond Christmas tree ballCinnamon stick tree decorations or my Dried Orange Slice Christmas tree decorations.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

As shared on Creative Mondays

Wednesday 3 December 2014

How to make another knitted ball Christmas tree decoration ...

Another day ... another ball for the Christmas tree ...

These could get seriously addictive. They're straightforward to make, pretty quick to knock out and I've got loads of that wool left ... so I could be going on this theme for quite some time. 

If you liked my first Christmas ball (link here: Retro-chic Christmas tree ball pattern) you might also like to make a second one to keep it company.

The method is exactly the same as last time, just substitute this chart pattern in place of the previous one: 

For more detailed instructions please refer back to my Retro-chic Christmas tree ball pattern.

It's looking lovely hanging beside my orange slices. You can find a link on how to make them here: Dried Orange Slice Christmas Tree Decorations. They look like little orange church windows.

And look who's in charge of Christmas tree ball quality control: 

All the best for now,

Bonny x