Mid-season stumble

Righty dokie doke, an update, in diary form. I hope to post something of worth later in the week.

Marathon-training has been going especially badly this year, I’ll blame it partly on the snow but I’ve not been getting out and about on a regular enough basis. Although the runs I have been doing have all been 8+ miles I really need to get back into the swing of things, haven’t cycled to work since December…lazy bastard.

I had a brilliantly productive week last week, took time off from work (at Leeds Met) and did my very best to get my house ship-shape again. Luckily my limited flirting with DIY was a resounding success and not a disaster-causing catastrophy.

I also managed to put some serious hours into web work (with my ‘big things and little things’ hat on www.bigthingsandlittlethings.co.uk) and as a result have pretty much finished the redesign of the Jane Tomlinson Appeal site (hopefully it will go live this week or next), finished the site for the brilliant Sunshine Bakery (www.sunshinebakeryleeds.co.uk), wrote a preposal for the redesign and development of the Northern Dales Farmers Markets website and have also been working with Run For All on their digital marketing campaign.

If you are, or know anyone, who needs some web work doing then I am undertaking work at reduced rates until the summer to build my personal portfolio. Hopefully I’ll also be doing some work with/for the fab people at Oxygen (www.oxygenate.net).

I plan to write a bit of a post on my bread-making experiments (vastly improved thanks to a paving slab) and my plans for foraging. I bet you can’t wait…

Hand-made Christmas

I don’t know whether it’s the fact that everyone thinks they’ve got no money, or a strange longing for a bygone age (that never existed) when everything was handmade and lovely but there seems to have been a bit of an explosion in people pushing the virtues of making things yourself. Of course this could be an age-old phenomenon that I’ve just managed to miss until now – which is the most likely explanation.

As anyone who has followed this blog for a little while now may have guessed, I like doing stuff myself, I like making things. I like the process probably as much as the accomplishment of the end product. My aborted attempts at an indoor garden earlier in the year were thwarted only by a poor choice in soil (which resulted in a swarm of fungus gnats) rather than a change of heart or the onset of boredom. I am a firm, and I have been told maddening, believer in ‘I can probably do that’. And for the most part, I probably can.

However I did get slightly annoyed/bemused by something I saw on TV last week, ‘Kirsty’s Homemade Christmas’. The premise being that Kirsty (of ‘Location, Location, Location’ fame) makes handmade gifts and Christmas things and generally sticks it to the man (albeit in a very middle class way) and saves some money along the way. However it seemed to me that the resulting programme was either the most hilariously naive or cringe-worthyly-targeted thing possible. One episode saw Kirsty making her own baubles – lovely – however, here’s the catch, she was making them from blown glass. I don’t know how many people have the aparatus to do this at home, I know I don’t. We were helpfully informed that there were ‘courses available’ that would allow you to do this…but I can’t imagine that they’re cheap. The other episode that I caught had a similarly extravagant approach to crackers, with yards of expensive fabric and ribbons being employed. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem at all with the idea of making your own gifts etc, in fact I think it’s a great idea that should be applauded and promoted wherever possible, however it seemed to me that there were far more straight-forward ways of accomplishing some of the tasks addressed by the programme. Or maybe I’m just being curmudgeonly and it was, in fact, lovely festive fun.

On the opposite end of the scale, for me, was River Cottage Christmas. Now I must admit, I bloody love Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I admire his approach to food and am frankly envious of the life that, tv leads me to believe, he leads. This programme, again extolling the virtues of making your own gifts, seemed to take a slightly more basic and realistic tone, no courses were pushed and you didn’t need to buy any particularly ridiculous ingredients. Much better. I then spent the rest of the weekend baking and cooking (which I had forgotten, is incredibly theraputic).

To cap off this weekend of festive diy I popped along to a craft fair at the Brudenell Social Club to see a stall being hosted by the lovely Cam, twoducksdisco and his fair lady friend, Sarah, Many Nice Things. You can read a bit about their stall on Cam’s blog, here; http://twoducksdisco.blogspot.com/2009/12/handmade-hard-times-handed-back.html. Again this just summed up my view that handmade is best made with love, care and attention. You don’t need your own glass-blowing furnace, hilariously expensive chocolate and enough velvet to coat your house.

Talking of handmade with love, care and attention.
Bon Iver-Flume