Sunday, 29 April 2012

Stripes and Hexagons

Such awful weather we are having recently, but perfect for snuggling up on the sofa, cup of tea close by and a new crochet project to keep me busy. This stripey gorgeousness is a baby blanket for some good friends of ours whose baby is due in exactly a month's time. They decided not to find out what they are having so a multi coloured blanket was in order. What better than to have lots of bright stripes - stripes that are quick and simple to crochet, no pattern to remember just backwards and forwards, remembering to change the colour every three rows. I am loving making this blanket and will be sad to see it go, it definitely cheers me up during these dull grey and rainy days.

I have been using Rico Creative Cotton which I have not used before but I love it. I bought it from Cucumber Patch who are selling it at the bargain price of £1.75 per 50g ball. Their service is fantastic too, the yarn arrived in super quick time. As you can see, I have used quite a few colours, some bright and some dark. I had to buy a couple more balls of darker colours as the blanket was starting to look a little too bright for my liking and the navy and purple seem to ground the other colours. These photos don't really show the real life colours of these blankets, something to do with lack of light around here. I'll try to get some sunshine shots of this blanket before I give it away.

The pattern I have used for this is the Bella Dia Vintage Stripe blanket. I've used this pattern before for another baby blanket but this time, instead of trebles I am half trebling my way along these stripes, which gives a more close knit finish. Also, if you decide to use this pattern, only do the two trebles into the last stitch if you are changing the colour for the next row.

As you can see from the above photo, I have some white yarn too which is going to be a border around the stripes. I was inspired by this blanket. I love the way it has pale and dark colours as well as the brights, all surrounded by a crisp white border. This blanket is sure going to be difficult to give away. Just as well I have some of the wool left over, not much though - maybe enough for a small lap blanket or another blanket for Gerard!

I have been persevering with the hexagons but it's tough going. I just don't like the stopping and starting every few minutes. I am contemplating making some half hexagons (if that's possible) to make straight edges down two of the sides and rippling off the remaining two zig zag edges. Does anyone know if this would be possible or am I creating more work for myself? I have set this project to one side for now, until I finish the baby blanket anyway.

I do like these colours together though - completely unexpected how well they all look close up.

Right, my husband has just plonked a cup of tea down next to me and I have one coloured stripe left to crochet on the baby blanket before I embark on the border, so I'd better get going. x

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Hong Kong Food

Let's just say we indulged in quite a lot of food whilst in Hong Kong - well, we were on holiday afterall. Not so many photos of the food we ate, but lots of photos nonetheless. Above is a photo of fish hanging off roadworks barriers - yes, the fish hang from anywhere and everywhere. Here's another example...

A pole sticking out from behind an advertising hoarding, with two fish hanging from it. Just the two. Also, this poster is advertising dragon boat racing and my sister realised that this is a photo of the dragon boat race that she and her husband took part in last year!

Here's a photo of a shop that actually sells the fish that hang up on any horizontal pole available. The fish are bagged up (cellophane at the top, paper at the bottom covering the fish head and scary stary eyes!) and hung again from horizontal poles in the shop. In all of these shops that we saw (some sold dried foods including shark fins and birds nests) we saw lots of shop assistants sat around waiting, looking bored and absolutely no customers. Not sure what was going on?

We were walking between the markets (Goldfish, Bird and Flower) when we saw this lady with her cart. She was roasting chestnuts etc, they smelt delicious.

We really enjoyed our buffet lunch at the Jumbo Top Deck floating restaurant. Lots of luxury boats and yachts to gawp at on our little boat journey over to the restaurant, whilst gazing at the tall buildings surrounding the harbour.

Whilst visiting Cheung Chau Island (which was a bizarre experience due to the sheer amount of peope there) we saw this suckling roast pig being biked off to the dinner table - a corrugated cardboard jacket and singed tail were the order of the day. We only realised when we got to Cheung Chau that this is the destination of all the locals on a National holiday... and it was a National holiday that particular day. I think the sheer amount of people added to the overall enjoyment and wonderment of the day.

A local lady in Cheung Chau with her chickens! They look like the classic rubber chicken in this photo but they are actually real. And I want her hat.

There is a Cheung Chau bun festival in April/May which we just missed, but they were getting ready for it - these are the buns which are placed on tall bamboo scaffolding towers/structures - the buns at the top are the luckiest. The locals climb the towers to try to grab the top most bun.

One of our final meals in Hong Kong was at a Thai restaurant, on the edge of a beach and overlooking Ocean Park, a theme park and zoo which we had visited that day. We could see the lights and hear the screams from the rides across the bay whilst sipping on a margarita and tucking into red or green thai curry and lots of other delicious dishes. E is not a big fan of spicy food so we ordered her some shrimp and pineapple rice with cashew nuts - this is what turned up on the dinner table! It did taste surprisingly good too.

And as is always the case after having a few days break from cooking day in day out, I have got creative in the kitchen again and have tried cooking three new meals since we got back. I really dislike cooking everyday but have added some new recipes to the usual meals that we have - no bad thing.

Will be back soon with some crochet news, if I manage to load the photos successfully - has taken me four days to get these ones on here - is it just me or do other people have trouble loading photos - my computer seems to time out after a couple of minutes???  xxx

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Back from Hong Kong

Yes, we're back (have been for a week now) and only just got my blogging act together after spending ages trawling through hundreds of photos trying to decide which few to choose so I don't bore you all! Also, have had major problems loading these photos on - not sure if it's my laptop or blogger that is playing up. We had the most amazing time and saw so much that I am quite sure we would not have encountered if we hadn't had the two most incredible tour guides with us, aka my lovely sister and brother in law. Lots of aching leg muscles from walking everywhere and lots of eating and drinking too so hopefully everything evened out nicely (my clothes still fit, in other words).

Our first full day in Hong Kong was spent wandering around the park in the middle of the city. So beautiful and a refreshing change from all the buildings crammed in together. It was quite apparent that the locals love plants and flowers as there were so many pots and tubs dotted around in the least expected places.

At the park we saw these gorgeous turtles/terrapins, we even saw one which was about the size of a 50 pence piece. You can tell I was missing my tortoises already as we spent quite some time looking at these little fellas.

On the first day we also had a bit of a mishap. F is lacking in suitable summer shoes so we only took her trainers and crocs and said that we would find a shop to buy her some sandals. We were on an escalator in the underground when all of a sudden the escalator stopped. It turned out that F's croc got sucked into the side of the step and that's what caused it. We all had a go at trying to pull the croc out and this is what it looked like. There was not a mark on F's foot and she was completely unfazed by this episode but I suddenly remembered a horror story on the radio from a few months ago where a child who was wearing wellies had to have their lower leg amputated because of something like this happening. It turned me cold just thinking about it. We quickly popped into a local shoe shop and bought some sturdy walking sandals and from then on, F was very careful on the escalators. It was only after all this happened that I noticed that some of the escalators had green footprints painted onto the steps to show where to put your feet and they also had pictures of sandals and flipflops warning people to be careful wearing rubber soled shoes. So relieved she was unharmed. Please make sure your kids are standing sensibly on the escalator with feet well away from the sides when they are wearing these kinds of shoes.

We got a great view of the city from The Peak, even if it was a bit foggy. There was a mist/fog over the city for most of the days we were out there but we did get some gorgeous sunshine aswell as a spectacular thunderstorm too.

I was not expecting Hong Kong to be so hilly, I just assumed it would be flat. Hence the aching leg muscles!

Another day we went to the Goldfish market (yes you read that right), the Bird market and the Flower market. Hong Kongers sure do love their pets, especially dogs. We sat eating some lunch in Stanley and watched for near enough an hour as a lady posed with her dog whilst her boyfriend took photos - by the end they had a crowd of people watching and also wanting to pose for photos with the dog. It was a lovely golden retriever but still, really?!

One of my favourite days there was a trip to Jumbo Top Deck, a floating buffet style restaurant. We basically grazed on food for over four hours whilst we had our glasses topped up again and again with bubbly. There was so much yummy food to choose from and F was very pleased to see sushi and baked beans, both of which she indulged in! E enjoyed what was on offer on the dessert table, especially when I said she could have whatever she wanted.

On our last day, we visited the aviary in the park and saw some incredible birds, which I have no decent photos of. But here is a Birds Nest Fern growing in the aviary, and now I know why it is called that. It was huge and so healthy looking, unlike any of the Birds Nest Ferns I have ever looked after. It was kind of bizarre seeing all these house plants that you can buy in M&S growing in the ground outside.

More photos soon, don't worry I have restricted them to just a few, and may have to restrict them even further if I have any more problems loading them on!  Hope you all had lovely Easter holidays too. x