Saturday, 1 June 2013

New life under the wood

No I don't mean new life as in a new baby (Good heavens no!). I mean a new start.

Ok I wasn't much of a blogger. I love writing and kind of wish I'd made a go of it as a career but updating a blog like the lovely bloggers I follow daily seems to be a bit of a full time pain in the neck. But I've launched a facebook page for Underthewood to promote the things I make in the hope that friends and friends of friends might feel the urgent need for a useless bit of needlework and commission me to crochet his and hers matching crochet ponchos. If this does not happen, and lets face it these so called "friends" will not be true friends if they don't request one, then at least its a platform for me to unleash my creative streak.

So...what's new Underthewood eh? After two years of having very short hair which my hairdresser said made me look "interesting" (she also, please bare in mind she has only cut my hair once, said "you are very quirky aren't you") I'm growing my pixie out. I currently look like a cross between Princess Di, a Lego man, a mushroom and a mad monk. I tried dying it today but its just made it more obvious. I told the new hairdresser I'd like to grow it to look like Claudia Winkleman's thick long fringe style - hence to quirkiness comment. Now I'd be happy to just not look like someone who'd wear shoes with tracksuit bottoms and shuffle around town to buy pot noddles for my tea. You get the picture. So this hair growing business is a real obsession and project. I'm worrying that my resolve will weaken and I will cut it all off again. After all, I was interesting when it was short. Wasn't I?!

In other news, we are trying to adjust to the boy developing a stammer. He's always had a very mild one but in recent months its got pretty bad. We've been told to slow our lives down, in speech, movements and take away all pressures in the home. Letting him talk for himself is vital but its soooooo hard to not finish his sentences for him as he's starting to get very frustrated at not being able to get his words out in time. Personally I have been very upset and stressed about it all, which doesn't help the situation but I'm doing my upmost to be upbeat and optimistic. 80% of child stammerers get over it so here's hoping he will be one of them.

Crafting news, last year I had a hankering to learn to crochet. I got very cross with my mum who tried and failed to teach me. Mr U bought me a granny square day course for my birthday. I got cross with them as they also failed. Then one rainy afternoon in December I sat in front of a blogger's tutorial and made a granny square! I haven't stopped since then. I've made a huge granny square blanket for my bed. A baby's blanket and am spending most evenings trying to perfect daisy squares just for fun. Jeez, life is pretty exciting round here I can tell you! In my thirst for crochet knowledge I have started and abandoned two blankets. Blanket #1 The boy asked me to make a rainbow coloured "ziggy zaggy" blanket. It looks like the beginnings of a gay flag. I have no issue about what sexuality he is, but I'm thinking if he is straight (and lets face it, if he is gay I get someone to go to the shows with and to help me buy shoes) he might not appreciate that on his bed in his teens! Blanket #2 After painful deliberation I decide to make a blanket for my dear friend's bubba due to be born very soon. I took time to match the colours to the bedding she had bought and I spent two weeks hooking up a storm. I say to myself, my this blanket is looking mighty fine, lets go measure it against The Girl's cotbed so you can see how much further you have to go. Shucks says I, come on then. This is when I realise I have made the blanket twice as wide as it needs to be for a tiny baby or even a three year old. Damn it. I wonder if her baby will be gay and would want a gay flag blanket in its teens? If it is gay I can go to the shows with it and it can help me buy shoes.

Anyway, I like to spend a lot of time on Pininterest looking at crochet things, then starting these things, but never finishing them. What's the point? The said friend by the way has entrusted me to sew blackout lining on her beautiful new curtains and I also need to make bunting for her. I wonder if she'll notice if I put the crocheted blankets on the curtains instead of lining?

Anyway. More blogging from now on. I know you are keen to leant about what that poor baby will have inflicted on it but a well meaning pseudo aunt. I also know you are excited about the updates on my new kitchen, which I had done in my blogging absence. You will also be interested in to hear about how my newly redundant (not generally, but employmently) husband do or don't get on with his increased and enforced leisure time at home.  Till next time then. Cheerio.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Things wot i have learnt

1. As I get older my embarrassment threshold gets bigger. As a child I was very shy and hated unwanted attention. Imagine my absolute horror then when my paternal grandmother would cut holes in black bin bags for my brother and I when it rained on days out and insisted on me having two plaits in my hair when I stayed with her - even at the age of 12. Nowadays I find I couldn't give two hoots what people think of me. For instance, today you would have seen me with my red raincoat with cherries on, a cat in the hat tote bag (fig i) and sheltering under a Peppa Pig umbrella. I decided against my bright red wellies, but there's always the option there to look even more like a 3 year old. Please note, both children were at their respective educational institutes. There was only me to deflect the odd glares from passers by. And you know what? I didn't notice anyone look at me - possibly because they didn't - possibly cos I didn't give a monkeys if they were. I may start to carry black bin liners about as they come in handy for the whole family and I believe a good dose of embarrassment when young does you the world of good.
fig i

2. I've never thought myself good looking enough to make much of an effort in the day to day scheme of things. There's a particular Mum I see who, even first thing in the morning, has huge fake eyelashes and big hair. In my youth I would have been a) intimidated by her confidence b) annoyed in a feminist way that she was letting the side down looking like Barbie c) Probably a teeny bit jealous. Now though i look at her and think, "poor love" does she not think she's good enough underneath all that hair and tan? And I think "oh I'm not that bad after all" as i don't need to hide myself. As long as you smile, it doesnt really matter (fig ii), and I've never seen her smile.
fig ii (imagine this but wearing fig ii and I defy you not to smile or chuckle)

3. Buy fruit and Veg from the market (fig iii). I saved a fiver today and am working my way through a lb of cherries as I type. In turn I shall be regular which I  have also learnt is a vital thing as you get older. Fact.
 (fig iii)

4. I am actually a naturally slovenly slob but the Gemini in me is also fiendishly house proud. There appears to be a daily battle between the two to let the mess build up and up and also to fight it and be constantly putting stuff away. Most of the time the slob wins. Maybe i should learn to embrace it?

5. You are never too old to make friends. The girl has been at preschool three weeks and I can feel new friendships blossoming with two mums whether they like it or not.

6. I wouldn't be surprised if soon I begin to look like Pam Ferries from Darling Buds of May. Plump Rosy cheeked, aproned up, flour on my face and a needle and thread upon my person at all times. Greeting mine and other children at my front door laughing so I wobble, handing out freshly made treats and calling everyone "m'darlin". 'Id be sad if this doesn't happen as I have learnt to love the fact that I'm not a party animal. That I can no longer handle alcohol. That I love being at home and no longer have worry about coming home at 4am and a hangover. How very dull. My life before children wasn't exactly rock and roll but I got out and about. Nowadays, I get asked to take up children's trousers and make a curtain skirt for the reception classes butler sink.

HAVE A LOVELY DAY despite the rain cos that is somfink I have also learnt

Ps) It has not been quiet on the craft front even though its been quiet on the blog front. I shall post about my exploits soon 

Monday, 10 September 2012


So the aim of the London Olympics and Paralympic games was to inspire a generation. Now, I believe the generation they technically mean are today's children not a 30 something, unfit, wobbly mum. Yet its obvious that the tag line should be inspire generations as that's what the games have done.

My Mum is thinking of rejoining the gym and (she won't thank me for this) she is of pensionable age (just). My son wants to be a cyclist and I want to row or swim or cycle for team GB. Realistically I'm going to make a concerted effort to jog or swim once a week.

This sporting summer has reignited my childhood love of sport. I earnestly want to see live athletics and cycling events and will try to watch them on telly whenever I can. I loved taking part in sport at school so want to try something I can do now.

We were so lucky to get Paralympic tickets for the athletics and the experience will stay with me forever.  The games makers were fabulous - imagine exuberant jazz handed Americans but in the guise of Brits asking you nicely to smile and have your tickets ready. The stadium was stunningly beautiful. How many stadiums can you say that about? The facilities were excellent and the view we had was perfect. The park and waterway was in no way like what was there before. But the icing on the very big Victoria sponge cake was the athletes. My God they were beyond belief. Lets be honest here, I can barely run to the end of my road and only then if I get a doughnut and wine at the end if it. But they are truly superhuman. To do the amazing feats they do with the disabilities they have is...well there aren't enough superlatives for it.

I've been trying to figure out what I enjoyed more, the Olympics or the Paras. I think the BBC coverage of the Olympics was extraordinarily brilliant and that really helped to make the games for me. They need to win an award for it. Channel Four's coverage for me wasn't so great but I guess its because they don't do this sort of thing week in week out. However, I think I enjoyed the Paralympics more even though I saw less of it. This is purely because of the people that took part. I don't want to patronise or belittle and say how good they are considering they have physical or mental problems. I don't think this is the case anyway. I see them as people excelling at sport. Fulfilling their dreams and rising above adversity as Stephen Hawking said at the opening ceremony, "we are all different, there is no run of the mill". We all have times when we think something is impossible. When this next happens to me I'll think about those superhuman athletes who have a dream and work so damn hard to fulfil it. I'm so proud my son has been able to witness, and be inspired by that. The good old fashioned, if you work hard enough and you want something enough you will achieve it, message is the best thing to live your life by.

So, in the real world I know I will never win a gold medal. Unless they bring back the original events for ladies such as engraving or perhaps flower arranging - something I can do sitting down. But I am inspired to get off my bum and move. To reach for the stars (as per Hawking, not S Club 7) in whatever I do. To realise that its only yourself that stops you succeeding. 

I'm so immensely proud in a tear jerking way to be British in a way I've never ever experienced before. I'm proud to be a Londoner and I'm proud to be part of the most excepting and open society in the world. One that Mo Farrah was able to come to call his home, one that Oscar Pistorius said the legacy for these Paralympic games will be for the world to see disability as us Brits do. It has certainly changed my views which I thought were pretty liberal anyway.

As a family, we are really looking forward to being able to use the aquatics centre when its up and running and also to see what the new cycling park will be like when they renovate that as part of the velodrome complex. Bring on the Commonwealth Games and Bring on Rio.

So inspiring it hurts. What will I do with myself now?

Thank you world, thank you team GB and thank you London.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

cock a hoop

On the 6th June 2005 at lunchtime, I sat in a pub just off Oxford Street with my lovely friend (soon to be famous, voice of an angel Imogen Tonder - Google her) from work. Nothing unusual there you will cry. We had our usual lunch of Chardonnay and watched the scenes from Trafalgar Square on telly as they announced the host country of the 2012 Olympic Games. My heart dropped when they announced the winner was London. More importantly, Stratford, five minutes away from where we lived, Leyton.

You see, I didn't like being told I lived in a deprived area although I did. I also didn't like it that it would cost Londoners hundreds more in council tax and correctly guessed most of us wouldn't get to see the games we paid for. Also I wasn't all that interested and thought the money could be spent on more important things, like cake and gin. The boyfriend (he had not yet had the pleasure of marrying me) was happy as it meant our flat's value would go up. There was talk of prices in the area going through the roof. So we rubbed our hands with glee. House prices did go through the roof and then plummeted dangerously fast and smashed all over the cracked-potholed road and helped to cause the credit crunch. It was a nice road too. Our flat was a purpose built Victorian terrace and was very unusual but a native design of Leyton and Stratford. We did it up by ourselves and apart from the loud people upstairs we were happy there. It was opposite a beautiful red brick two storey Victorian school which my ancestors went to.

Fast forward to 2006. The mortgage was up for renewal and we decided to move. All the estate agents were excited saying "Olympics" alot so we thought we were cashing in and getting a great deal. Turns out if we'd have waited another year we would have got a ridiculous amount for our little home.

Everytime I went past the skeleton of the stadium going up on the way to work I'd get irrationally annoyed. Why were they building this here? Why are they knocking down local historical stadiums like the speedway and the Dogs? Albeit they were derelict and were waste grounds. Why were they bulldozing Eton Manor where my father played (probably with unexploded bombs) as a child? So we upped and left for (only) slightly better climbes further down the train track.  I still had to look at the stadium going up but was due to start maternity leave. Perhaps thats why I was irrational?
I've kind of blinkered myself to the games. Getting annoyed when I heard stories of local businesses that will struggle to stay open during the games.  How The Husband probably won't be home till at least 2am every night as the advice is to go to the pub instead of clogging up trains going to and from work.  etc etc...

Fast forward to 22nd July 2012 and we all go literally 3 minutes from our door across the park and stand right where the torch hand over will take place.

The pub opposite are playing London Calling by the Clash on repeat (this has a special resonance with me as the day after the awful 7/7 bombings - completely juxtaposed to the previous day in London - I danced really quite drunkenly to that song and everyone in the club had that stout-of-heart blitz spirit) and all of a sudden I come over all unnecessary. A bit teary. I sermonise to The Boy about how that flame had come all the way from Greece and millions of people have seen it and its right on our door step. I felt a strange sort of motherly pride in the young man who was carrying the flame.

A few days later a big airship flies over our house and I fight the urge to shout "the Germans are coming". And I stop and think - wow the whole world will be watching my part of London. My Stratford. My East End. My deprived wasteland. And wow what a wasteland it is now. The park looks gorgeous. The gardens look like an Eden and the waterways look like something out of a Wordsworth poem.

I have surprised myself and am so excited about watching the opening ceremony although I'm a little sad and surprised they didn't ask me to do a star turn. The Boy is really excited about seeing Chris Hoy, he was in the Chris Hoy1 class at school this year. I totally didn't see that hard athletes train and dedicate themselves to being the best they can be. I didn't know the motto of the modern Olympics was Faster Stronger Higher. What a great motto to live your life by. Its all very inspiring. Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to start show jumping or bowling but I will try to be the best I can be in everything I do.

Mostly I'm excited that the people that didn't cash in like us, that stuck it out in the dangerous desert that was Leyton High Road, can now reep the rewards that the legacy brings them. I hope they wont mind me coming to see what's happened in a few weeks.  Once I can get on a train that is!

Forgive me Seb and come on Great Britain.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A little local surjourn

I'm a homely type (note the making of quilts, blinds, cushions, cake etc) and am not too spontaneous but sometimes I like to throw caution to the wind and jump in puddles.

 We are very lucky to live three minutes walk to our local park which has won Green Flag awards for cleanliness. The Friends of the park do a really good job keeping the park tidy and safe and also putting on events including an excellent Halloween afternoon every year and carols round the teeny tiny Christmas Tree in the pitch black. The Girl and I spent a lovely half hour on the wet Wednesday this week splashing, jumping, bounding (do you bound? Try it. Please. People shy away from you but it makes you feel bubbly inside), leaping, and in The Girl's case, sitting in puddles.

The teenage skate bit of the park is a prime puddle location. We wouldn't dream of going anywhere near it when the teenagers are there. They have strange haircuts. Wear odd 1980s clothing - I saw a boy with a pair of pumps on that were exactly like the ones of my Smash Hits '88 record the other day.
I dreamt of having the shoes with the watch on. It was a good record. I digress...

The skate park allows the kids to loll about away from street corners and allows them to graffiti on there own bit of turf. I think the ramps get painted over regularly so that new "tags" can be added. I liked this space one a lot.
This one however I didn't like. What does it mean. Is it a yoof joke? I didn't like it mainly on the misuse of the apostrophe. I'm a stickler for correct signage. It is not a good tag...this next one though is possibly the best one ever...
The cad that has this as their tag is a genius.

Nature an' that. Its great aint it.

Keep out!


view from under the wood

In my first view I gave you a wonderful impression of my idyllic neighbourhood. I think you'll find I described the trees brimming with native English fruit with cast iron fences round them. I teased you with tales of how quiet the street is as there is never ever any traffic. I made you envious describing how every resident eats off the pavement as its so clean and while I was at it the street is also paved with gold....

Oh didn't I?

Sorry I was mistaken and forgot I had sent a daily mail rant to the council about the glass, litter, muck and dangerous pavements.

Well my moaning paid off as the pavement is being replaced as we speak (I started this post on Monday, I'm either lazy or busy)

I was a little put out though as they said they had saw no problem with litter from Tesco or that Tesco blocks up the pavement so I sent them these puppies.

and said I'll gladly send them photographic evidence every time it happens (everyday). I clearly need a job. The council weren't happy and are going to 'ave a go at them innit. When they will do this I don't know as the inspector said he'd call me and that was Tuesday. I suspect I'll call him and complain he hasn't called me!


The council's policy is to sweep side roads every 15 working days and main roads every 10. This is fine if you like stepping in dog poo as soon as you leave the house. After my complaint about the glass etc they sent a team of about four to sweep the road. I couldn't believe my eyes. But a few hours after the road got swept this week

Tesco go and litter again! So that's another two weeks before it gets swept or another few hours before it gets blown down the street.

It goes to show that a little bit of campaigning and complaining gets things done. Ok so I'm annoying myself with this shifting of the curtains type of whinging but nobody fell over on to the glass as I got it swept and the pavement has been made safe and hopefully Tesco will be forced to literally clean up their act. Well done Havering Council for listening.

Hopefully the view is going to get better. What's the going rate to give a house to a field?

Friday, 29 June 2012

Friday loveliness

Bonjour as they say in foreign parts (ha ha foreign parts sounds like "lady garden" or "winkle").


So today has been filled with wonderful stuff.

Firstly, me and The Girl had an spontaneous coffee and cake session with our lovely friend who The Girl calls Dedy. In fact we were kind of dragged to the coffee shop and were treated by Dedy and I'm pleased we were, not just for the lovely marshmallow type lolly thing The Girl had, or the cake I had but for the great chat. Sometimes, its wonderful to chat absolute nonsense to a friend who is chatting equally nonsensical nonsense backatcha. For instance, Dedy talked about how she wanted to shout "WILLY WONKER" out in an empty sauna...I share this tourettes like need to shout loudly at inappropriate times. Anyone else share this need?

Secondly, my Mum came to see us after two weeks away in Tunisia. I think it was rather selfish of her to go away for so long. We were very excited to see her...well The Girl showed off a bit and was unreasonably shy but then didn't want Nanna to go home. I really wish I could see my Mum more than once a week.  I'm very lucky to have such a lovely mum. She does so much for me, I just wished she was round the corner so we could take advantage of her even more!

Thirdly, I've been feeling pretty damn poorly for about a year. I get really irrate and hormonal very often (what woman doesn't you male readers will shrug). I often fell exhausted, run down, brain dead (what mum with young kids doesnt you will all shout). Last October I felt really bad for a few weeks and couldn't eat fatty foods or drink a glass of wine without feeling the need to pass out. I also got weird red pinpricks all over my feet. I finally dragged my big ass to the drs after christmas and he sent me for blood tests. They came back with a borderline thyroid problem and the dr said to go for more tests in May and come back in June. So go back I did today and whoop whoop my thyroid is in perfect working order and I won't need medication for the rest of my life! The pinpricks on my feet have all but gone but I still feel pretty awful at certain times and also have uncontrollable rage Apparently and a big BOO to this, I have severe PMT. It can be cured with anti depressants as a last resort but I've been told to exercise. DOH. Do I have to?! I have a Wii fit, but find it hard to fit that in. I suppose I could go swimming but it would be about 8.30pm by the time I got there by which time I've half asleep! He also said I need to drink two mugs of milk a day, fine by me, and eat nuts. Do you think a cadbury glass and a half fruit and nut bar will count?! This news made my day. Alright now I can't blame my thyroid for turning me into a dragon but its such a relief to know its basically just good old fashioned women's rage.

I'm home alone tonight...this is the snack of choice

It was meant to be for watching a film but I seem to have eaten it already...oppsie.

This was the make of the week...

A pillowcase dress. Its the first dress I've made and its the first thing I've ever made that I've been 100% happy with. Not a great photo but she wouldnt keep still!

This was the day out last week...

The Abridge Village fair. Look at the beautiful cars
This is the one for me...Oh hold on...No this one...

Real thigh rubbing moment. I am a real VW campervan fan. In fact we are considering going on one a holiday in one of them. Its my dream to own one. Apparently the fabric on the front is called a bra!
This campervan cost about £50K!!!! To be honest it was a bit too perfect for me. Too clean and new. For me, I'd have to have it a bit battered outside and in and would def need a big of gingham and crochet chair covers!

Hope you have had equally lovely Fridays.

Donkeyshins as they say in Germany and Bottoms up