Monday 30 May 2016

Memorandum Monday

Memorandum Monday is all about firsts and new things so I have a couple for you this week.
My first MM posted while abroad
This isn't the first time I've walked on that beach, we first discovered Praia da Liz in Portugal  31 years ago. We've been many times, especially as my sister bought a holiday home here. 
So what is the other first that I have to share? Well, it is the first time that I have sat on a sun lounger doing knitting! Yes the sock knitting has come with me!
Not sure that sun cream and wool is a good combination so I'm not sure I'll be going home with a new pair of socks!
Happy Monday!

Monday 23 May 2016

Memorandum Monday

The instigator of Memorandum Monday, the lovely Sian, asks us this week if we had a weekend that was plain or fancy.  Well, ours was one of starting to plan the most amazingly fancy thing.  There's a wedding to on the cards!  Oh yes!  Our daughter has got things a little out of the natural order in that she has done engagement, baby, wedding instead of engagement, wedding, baby but she has never been one to stick to traditional and they've been out looking at venues this weekend.  I feel a 'Mother of the Bride' moment coming on ... 
Now before we all get over excited and start buying confetti and fascinators, I should point out that she's planning a winter wedding for next year.  She absolutely loves Christmas and the thought of having a venue decked out in fairy lights with a huge Christmas tree up in the entrance hall and log fire burning in the lounge is her dream come true. My son's reaction to all this? 'Can I be the one to look after the baby all day?'  Nice to see him taking his 'proud Uncle' duties seriously already. 
And just when you thought the actual Monday of Memorandum Monday would be a bit of an anti-climax, and I'd be struggling to find something new that I hadn't tried before I came across this little beauty in Waitrose this afternoon.  Part of their new range - and 25% off. That's pudding tonight sorted then! 

Monday 16 May 2016

Memorandum Monday

Memorandum Monday is brought to you by a subdued corner of Deb's World this week.  By rights it shouldn't be subdued after the excitement of this weekend's most recent purchase -
My old faithful sewing machine died on me on Wednesday.  She's seen me through 35 years worth of projects, clothes for me, baby clothes, nativity play costumes, dozens of various dance outfits, PE bags, curtains, alterations and quilts.  The miles of thread we've shared! But her time had come to an end, and the excitement of choosing a new machine took over any sentimentality.  I browsed the internet, I researched and I asked friends for recommendations, then I sat my husband in the cafĂ© at John Lewis while I test drove a few machines.   They're so quiet.  They're so light to pick up.  They're so clean and shiny and full of press button wizardry.  They have self threading needles!  Times have changed! She's already seen some quilt action and the new baby quilt is now finished except for hand sewing the binding.

So I shouldn't be subdued should I?  Not with that beauty sitting next to the dining table ready for a new project to be slipped beneath her bright shiny feet.  But I am.  And it's all down to work.  And office politics.  But the benefit of that angst is that it has brought me a topic for something new I did today.  I stopped bottling it up.  I stopped fretting about it while on dog walks.  I stopped rehashing conversations in my mind.  I figured there is no point in being quietly overworked, overwhelmed by deadlines and swamped by extra work because someone else has failed to keep up to speed.  So I emailed my line manager on Friday.  I asked her for a quick meeting this morning.  I didn't elaborate.  And of course I fretted about how I would open the conversation and what I would say, and more to the point, what she would say in return.  I woke in the mornings this weekend rehearsing whole scripts of dialogue.  Trying to think of answers to all eventualities.  I printed off emails to prove my points that I was coping with my own work well, all was going to plan and I was well on track.  I had 22 hours worth of work a week and 22 hours in which to do it.  It's the other work that's causing the problem.  Work that other people have run out of time to do themselves.  Work which shouldn't be my work. To help others meet their deadlines, I have been sacrificing my own schedules and putting myself under more pressure.  The morning of the meeting arrived, I was prepared. But anxious because I don't 'do' confrontations well.  And I have a horrible habit when feeling totally frustrated or angry to have a little cry. 

I pitched up in the office with paperwork and tissues (and a hidden bottle of Rescue Remedy.  Just in case.) And we sat and we chatted.  And she hadn't realised how much extra work I'd been absorbing.  And she agreed that if a certain member of staff who is now pushing a lot more work my way had kept to her deadlines back in March, this situation would not have happened.  Turns out I am a little too good at just keeping my head down (and mumbling under my breath) and getting things done.  And so we came up with a plan.  A plan where I could get on with my own work and not jeopardise my own deadlines by other people's bad organisation.  Where more straightforward work would be delegated somewhere else.  So, in the spirit of learning something new on a Monday - thanks to Sian - I have learnt that it's sometimes worth being brave and having the courage to say 'enough'.  Sometimes you have to learn to say 'no' and pass any delegating onto someone else higher up in the chain of command.  It doesn't come easily, I'm too much of a team player to not want to offer to help someone else who is struggling.  But I've learnt today that being brave and instigating discussions isn't quiet as scary as I thought.

Here's to a less pressurised week!   

Monday 9 May 2016

Memorandum Monday

Learning something new was like waiting for a bus around here this weekend.  You wait for ages, then three things turn up at once! 

Back in November, when the patter of tiny feet was but a distant dream for my daughter, I came across something called a 'Zip Zap Baby Quilt'.  The fastest quilt ever.  One to One and a half hours to make the topping.  You can see the appeal!  Little did I know then that it would end up being a baby quilt, I was envisioning a new conservatory quilt!  I've had it bookmarked for six months as quite apart from being a lovely baby quilt, I thought it would work well for any style of fabric. Last week I went to the fabric shop, bought some lovely children's fabrics and the time had come to get quilting on a new patchwork quilt.  I'm not saying I got all that done in 90 mins due to the pressures of cooking Sunday lunch and dog walking but it certainly is a quick and exceptionally easy way of making a pretty quilt top.  I'm guessing that the choice of colourways may give away whether she's expecting a boy or a girl ;-)

See that new sock I'm wearing in the second photo?  A new method of making a sock, learnt this weekend too.  I fancied having a patterned sock with plain toe, heel and ribbing.  Which also meant learning a new way of putting a heel in a sock.  The After Thought heel.  Also known in these parts as the 'Oh my goodness, why didn't I just stick to the other way heel'.  But several YouTube videos later, it all fell into place and I now have half a new pair of socks. 
And my last new thing?  That would be going to a 'Pop up restaurant'.  Saira Hamilton, who was a Masterchef finalist in 2013 took over the kitchen in our local golf club and we had a pretty amazing Bengali inspired meal.  I didn't think to take a photo of the starters or mains until it was too late but I managed to stop myself diving into the divine Eastern Mess before I took a quick snap.  Saira's a local girl and ex student of the school in which I work so it was great to support her in this. 
Hopefully we've all enjoyed a weekend of wall to wall sunshine, sitting in the garden and just relaxing.  I think that Sian must know something that we don't though, her sharing of new things for Memorandum Monday include knitting a long sleeved jumper!  Have a good week.

Monday 2 May 2016

Memorandum Bank Holiday Monday

Some weeks it is easier than others to come up with something new to share on Sian's Memorandum Monday.  This was one of the more difficult ones!  Because although it was a busy weekend, it didn't involve too much that was new.  Except perhaps the fact that this Sunday was the first time that it was sunny enough to sit outside and do some knitting.

Now it may look as if Coco is taking a sincere interest in what I'm doing but take it from me, she was really giving me 'the look', the one that means 'ahem, excuse me, but you're sitting in my spot'.  The minute the seats go on the outside sofa, she assumes that the left hand corner spot is hers and hers alone.
Now, I may not have done something new, but my son found a new way to give me cause for anxiety.  With his girlfriend away in New York visiting her sister with her mum, he decided to rally the troops and get a group of friends together to go hiking and camping in Scotland.  I had visions of campsites and well trodden trails around lochs.  He had intentions of setting up camp wherever they decided to stop for the night and climbing Ben Macdui, the second highest mountain.  If you check the website you will see 'The plateau itself is extremely exposed and tricky to navigate except in perfect conditions - particularly serious when under snow.'  So, guess what the weather forecast for the Cairngorms was this weekend, while we Southerners were sitting in the garden knitting?  Snow storms.  Temperatures hovering around -6.  5 young men who have never camped properly before.  Oh sure, Jon had camped for a couple of nights around Loch Lomond while he was living in Edinburgh, but on a campsite and in the summer. 
He arrived here on Wednesday night, unfolded his Map and showed his Dad the route he'd planned for the following 4 days.  I looked at various print outs he'd downloaded of other people's suggested walks.  It all looked pretty bleak to me.  Not much sign of habitation, just wide open - steep - spaces.  And just to add to the mix, imagine how much mobile phone signal you get on a mountain side.  Oh yes this was not a good scenario for me.  Thursday came and went.  Friday I googled 'current weather conditions in Ben Macdui and the first site that came up was a news report of four climbers having to be rescued due to bad weather, and as I tried to calm my breathing I caught sight of the date of that posting - January.  I kept looking at his Whatsapp account to see if he'd been online at all.  Nothing since Thursday morning.  Saturday passed, still nothing, then in the afternoon this showed up on Instagram


And a message 'pinged' up on Whatsapp to say 'Just to let you know we're safe and sound.  Had to change our original plans due to some pretty impressive snow storms'.  And I realised how lucky I was to have a son who knew I'd be worried and took the time to let me know the situation.  Also someone who was sensible enough to take stock of the situation and not just continue ahead anyway.  That he'd had the foresight to study those maps and know how to divert from Plan A and find a new, safer, alternative.

So I guess that this weekend I did learn something new, I should trust that he is brave enough to explore but sensible enough to make the right decisions.  I suspect that there are many tales to be told after this trip.  Hopefully he'll spare me any hair raising stories, because I suspect that this trip has just whetted his appetite and this could become an annual thing.