::That holiday feeling::

I’m feeling refreshed and beginning to get that holiday feeling now: the one just before we go away. We’re preparing for a three week holiday in France- yes, that’s right three weeks! I am so happy to be rested and ready with my holiday feeling just about peaking ready for the off.

poncho edgeOver the last few weeks I have completed many projects that have prepared me for that holiday feeling and in readiness for the new term in September. Here are a few peeks.

20140726_21153920140726_230441Oh those ends, they always take ages and I dread starting them but it looks so much better once they’re done. This is just a sneaky peak at my completed Poncho- I’m taking it to France to photograph in the beautiful and abundant sunflower fields surrounding the house we will be staying at (once we’ve left Paris!) I think having spent  months on this project and taking so much care and attention of it that it’s only right for me to do it justice in a proper photo shoot! YaY! I do looooove this project so much- it really does make my heart sing just to look at it and feel it’s glorious textures! Ahhhhhhhh… (sighs wistfully).poncho finishingI’m hoping that I’ll be able to wear my poncho on those dusky, sunset evenings when it is feeling a little chilly in the air. Oh happy holiday! Next there was the arrival of some beautiful Drops Muskat cotton- well I had ordered it so it was expected. But how soft, luscious and lovely this yarn is – waiting to be whipped up into some beautiful blankets and cushions me thinks!

muskatThen there was the completing of my classroom- having moved classrooms again. This is a huge job, files, resources, relabelling drawers (which my amazing class partner K will do this time) and then the reorganising, re-theming and sorting out of everything from bookshelves to backing paper. As we’re doing a terms topic on The Victorians, we decided to go with a Sherlock theme for the first half term (and a Charles Dickens one for the next half when we do Oliver Twist). Also a bit of a school room feel. What do you think?20140804_13003420140804_130055

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And then there are my garden projects. I’ve never been able to grow Clematis before, they’ve always wilted, dried up, died or just never done anything. But look..

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A proper flower and seed head! I love how this looks so spiky but it’s actually really soft and fluffy! Then there are my geraniums and nasturtiums ditto for them too- it must be the weather we’ve had this year. I know, back in June,  when I see summer blooms that the holidays are not far around the corner.

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So we are getting packed and ready to load up the roof box, pack those bags (including suncream and aftersun, of course), crank up the bike rack and of course the crochet bag. I’ll be working on my kaleidoscope blanket whilst I’m away- lots to catch up on and it’s quite portable and not so big and warm to sit under! Hey ho! That holiday feeling- ready, steady, we’re off!

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::P, P, Pick up a poncho – again ::

10500531_830857983600104_1603038425053066168_nOk, it’s a work in progress, a WIP as they say. It remains in progress, but my poncho is getting more and more beautiful and colourful as it grows. And it’s nearly there. I keep on p, p, picking up that poncho!10325347_829597540392815_7396260218902141198_nBut then I put it down as something else takes over. My Ripple stitch blanket was the most recent distraction. 20140713_18473510389357_822150724470830_4787128616661467355_nThen there will be my Kaleidoscope CAL blanket again. They seem to do triangular rotation, depending on my mood, time and inclination.20140510_09444220140531_163331k blanketNow back to the poncho again. You may remember how it started back at the beginning of the year.CAM00183The beautiful yarn I purchased from Deramores, gorgeous Cascade Peruvian wool, very apt indeed considering the inspiration.

5a872-6a0192aab0192b970d01a73d7c9d4b970d-pi20140420_190606Then there was the starting off, and the pulling out, the frogging, the restart and then the progress.20140513_20015420140525_082255It will give me great pleasure to wear my poncho on our French holiday when we arrive at the Farmhouse we are borrowing from a colleague. We have been before, three times, and it ‘s almost like having a family holiday home. I’ll tell you about it soon, but for now it’s time to concentrate on the Poncho, to get it finished for my cool French evenings with my local wine, cheese and some amazing bread. I’ll enjoy wearing it for evening sunset walks – when I get it finished! Need to keep on p, p, picking up my poncho!poncho 1

::Summer Ripple happy hooky::

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It has been a while since I last posted and so much has happened here in the Hayloft. At the end of the summer term it all goes a little crazy following SATs: there is the Year 6 performance, the Summer Fayre, performing Arts Evening, the leavers assembly and on top of all that we have the Australia day to celebrate all of our learning this term about Australia. In amongst all of that it has been difficult to have the energy to pick up my crochet hook, and when I found the going a little tricky with my Kaleidoscope blanket, it was my Summer Ripple blanket that I have turned to for some Summer Ripple hooky happiness.

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It all started in Doris Caravan in May when we went for a trip to Wasdale and I began my crochet ripple hooky journey. What an amazingly relaxing stitch it is, you just keep going on the little ripple roller coaster, changing colours as you go and it grows so quickly. I’m using style craft DK from The Wool warehouse and I treated myself to two of the Lucy Attic24 packs to make this blanket. I have added some lime yarn of my own, to add a bit of Zing! Lucy has now kindly solved that problem by having her own lime colour commissioned! Yay!

It started off quite random, but it has found a pattern all of it;s own and it has begun to take shape rather beautifully I think. What do you think? There has been outside in the glorious sunshine hooky.

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Also some cosy up on the sofa ripple hooky.

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I think I’ll make a quick tutorial for this pattern soon, when I get five minutes to draw it out and think about the words. In the meantime I’l keep on with my rippling, and hope to get to the end of term next week in one piece. Happy hooky everyone. :O)xxxxx

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::Poncho progress::

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Oh what a happy weekend it has been, despite working for most of it in school, preparing and organising, I have returned happily every day to my poncho project. It was back in February when I first thought of designing and making a Poncho; something warm, cosy and to beat the chills of a spring or summer evening, inspired by my blogland friend Lucy. I mused over Peruvian traditions, yarn choices, colours and shapes of the garment. It was  a bubbling pot of ideas, steeping in flavours, developing depth and becoming more and more unctuous day by day. Eventually I settled on yarn, some springtime yarn skein happiness this magical, beautiful, peruvian 100% wool Cascade 220 from Deramores. It gives me such  delight to work with all the 24 colours I chose from over 100 shades.

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So having decided on the yarn, the shape and the colour combinations, I began with the skeins.  wound them and organised them, I sketch booked some ideas, colours and shapes, then I set about making a start.ImageImage

I thought you might like to see the progress I’ve made, it is remarkable how my Creative Mind can see the finished project before I’ve even started it! Simple stitch arrangements, trebles, doubles and some clusters, and colour combinations from my research (with some creative licence used too).Image

The pattern is something I have devised myself, and follows a loose repeat in sections. I have sections of stitches, changing colours, then new sections of stitch combinations. they will all be repeated in some way. The increases are created at the four ‘corners’. I’m keeping notes of this  project so I’m planning on writing up a tutorial for it- REALLY?? I hear you say?- well I figured it might inspire, help or support someone out there! It is a little complex so the tutorial might be a summer holiday project – I couldn’t get the numbers and details sorted whilst I have school stuff going on in my head!ImageImage

Sunny morning, weekend crochet. Its coming along beautifully and the combinations are singing.Image

So there you are, a little bit of hooky action in pictures, not so many words today, thought I’d let the colour loveliness speak for itself. You don’t need me babbling on! I’m thrilled with how this project is coming along, the repetitive stitching, the revelation of the colourful combinations, how they play and dance about with every new addition. I’m truly loving picking it up, and working just a little more, with every row evolving the overall look.

Thank you for dropping by to see me today! Happy summer hooky. :O)xxxx

::Designing… Sketchbooks::

 

20140513_201705Preparation is everything… or so they say. Fail to prepare is to prepare to fail.  Where do these sayings come from? Well lets not get into that now. Whenever I start a new project, preparation is where I start. Maybe it’s the Designer in me, the eternal problem solver, finding solutions to new challenges and trying to find the innovative and creative solution to them! It drives people around me quite nuts, sometimes; I’m never satisfied with just the most obvious, or easiest route.

There are many ways in which preparation manifests itself in any creative mind. For me it’s the use of a sketchbook. I urge you to have a go, there is a designer in everyone. Really there is!

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Why should I think about starting a sketchbook, I hear you say? Well, humour me a little. Have you got a pile of bits of recipes snippets, handwritten notes from someone who has passed on a recipe that you admired, scribbled something down from a packet, or even got the side of the packet? Some of you, like me, might even have an old handwritten notebook or box full of tried and tested recipes passed down or given to you from a Grandma, Aunty or friend, with notes on how they changed them, or adapted them to suit the season, or their oven. Passing on recipes is something we all do, we hand over our taste buds and lifestyles to someone to try for themselves. We give them our recipe treasures. For me a sketchbook full of colour, ideas, scribbles and shapes is the same. Patterns and ideas to share.

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Sketchbooks for me, are a fabulous way of preparing for any project, large or small; you can gather all of your ideas together, snippets from magazines with splashes of colour, shapes that delight and tickle the fancy or curiosity. A sketchbook becomes a beautiful thing in itself; full of all of those ideas that mill around in your mind, shifting, evolving, changing and developing. I like to think of a sketchbook as a pot of delicious stew bubbling along with developing and strengthening flavours. Then sometimes a design creeps up on you and pokes you on the shoulder to say, “Have you thought about…?” Other times it is a bolt of lightening, an intake of breath or a flash of inspiration… other sayings are available!

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Starting a sketchbook is really easy, whether you like to paint, knit, crochet, decoupage, sculpt, there are many craft and creative applications for them. I have cherished many of my sketchbooks from my Art College days, that are full of treasured memories, thought processes and are a record of my Creative Mind and it’s doodlings and musings. My teenage sons have browsed through my sketchbooks with me many times over the years, not unlike a photo album, and we have laughed at the sideways scribbled sketches from Parc Guell in Barcelona, delighted in the balconies of the Ramblas and the canals in Amsterdam. Sharing them fills me with joy. They are packed full of bits and bobs that evoke smells and sounds of the trips I made, and I can instantly see the textiles I made as a result. These sketchbooks both inspired and prepared me for design projects at Art college. Something to spark a creative path to be taken. A path I continue to take whenever I am designing something new- or trying out an idea.

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The main thing is to gather anything that appeals to your senses, that makes you heart swell with glee; make little sketches of things you see, write down words for things you hear or bring thoughts, smells and touches to mind. Add snippets of found objects, if they’re small enough, or photograph them to add to the eclectic mix. Include bits of yarn, thread, fabric. Create a shade card of the yarn story you want to use; a yarn shop will often let you have a snippet. The important thing is that the sketchbook begins to form a vivid and real picture of the design or colour story you wish to explore and helps the thought process along.

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Many of us get our inspiration from the Internet now, where there are a plethora of designs, ideas, photographs and colours to look at, print off and follow. Many of these designs are widely available as kits, with packs of everything you need to have a go yourself. These are a great way to have something to get started, I do it too. Sometimes, and this is the exciting bit, you can begin to see in the photos, pictures and ideas how you might make a slight change, a different yarn, an altered shape, even the size. This is where the true design process starts; with the seed of an idea.

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I’m currently using pages that will form a sketchbook in my preparation for making my Peruvian Poncho. I have been inspired by a Blogland friend’s amazingly beautiful and original design. But, I think I want mine to be a different shape, I want to use a different colour palette, I want to design my own sequence of stitches. My sketchbook has started. I’m doing my research. I have perused the internet for traditional Peruvian designs, made colour notes with pencil crayons, and also a shade card of the yarn I have chosen. I have chosen Cascade Peruvian Wool. This helps me to see the colour combinations and how they dance and sing to each other to create a harmony. I’m not expecting this to be a quick process – maybe it will be – but I’m enjoying the marinating of ideas, choosing the ingredients and considering what the finished poncho will be like. At the end, I’ll add a photo of the finished product.

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Eventually I know I will have a finished Poncho, unlike anyone else’s, individual to me, with my creative juices flowing through it. I hope it will inspire others, as I too was inspired. I hope that my sketchbook, with my design ideas, will be something I can come back to in years to come, with Grand children perhaps if I’m lucky, to bring back memories, sights, sounds, smells and feelings of deep satisfaction to savour. I hope all of my sketchbooks are something that will be passed on and treasured with memories of me. Go on have a go!


http://www.deramores.com/blog-awards: This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies.

::Simple Mixtures::

I often think about how life can, at times, be a wonderfully simple mixture of a whole bunch of happy things. A great cup of coffee, a piece of homemade cake or a snatched moment of something creative. Crochet, family, food and a feast of sensory delights is my idea of the simple life – not necessarily in that order – a happy mixture.  So today I focussed on the things around me that brought me a simple pleasure – May Mixtures.

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Whilst catching up with all my Facebook and Blog friends, I saw this cushion and was immediately reminded of Lucy’s projects over at Attic24 for Yarndale this year. She’s championing Mandalas- It’s May Mandala Mayhem! The idea is really simple but incredibly effective. I saw this photograph a while ago, and it happens to be the same one that has inspired Lucy with her Yarndale project, from Finnish artist Anu Tuominen. Simple and stunning.

ImageThen there is the amazingly glorious Babette blanket from Ellblo on Ravelry, this stash busting arrangement of granny squares is the best I’ve seen so far. I LoVe LoVe it so much. It makes my heart squeeze and swell with adoration. Simple mixtures of colour and sizes, no black or white was her only rule. It works brilliantly.

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It always fills me with delight waking on Saturday mornings after a hectic week at work, to my crochet, Saturday Kitchen and a lovely leisurely breakfast with super good coffee and maybe even toast! Toast is such a simple pleasure- buttery, crispy and warm. No time during the week, oh no, porridge it is at 6.30am to fill me up until playtime (10.30am). Oh yes, toast is a simple pleasure for a simple life especially when someone else makes it for you!

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J decided to take me and little J out for lunch. We decided to go to Priest’s MiIl at Caldbeck again as I haven’t been since I was ill at February half term. I found my first glimpse of the bluebells that begin to fill the verges and hedgerows here, they sweep beautifully , nodding their heads in the breeze.ImageImage

Aren’t they just adorable?

Lunch was a simple affair; leek and cheddar tart and a mixture of delicious homemade salads, (they do the best apple chutney) with another good coffee. In fact it has been a good coffee day!

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A pop into the Wool Clip, for more Wild Wood Wool from Cecilia and Jean’s collection of delicious yarns. I went for a mixture of darker plum, grey and navy shades this time. I have a quick and easy project in mind. Image

On the return journey home we passed some beautiful trees, I just had to take a photo of them. Simple colours in nature but stunning.

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Today seems to have been a mixture of lots of simple little bits and bobs, but I think they come together well enough in their own patchwork of simple snapshots.  It always fills me with joy to be reminded of the simple things around me, pulling me out of work mode and the intensity of work life at this time of year with the year sixes and all their changes. Enjoying the simple pleasures of life, mixtures and bubbles of calm moments, help to ground me over the weekends. Recharging my batteries, connecting with the world around me and stopping me in my tracks to appreciate all that is simple and good in my life brings me calm. I cherish it all. :O)xxxxx

::Kaleidoscope blanket- progress::

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Lots of pictures for my colourful Kaleidoscope Blanket Mystery CAL from The Natural Dye Studio, I’m just completing the attaching of the motifs for February and have started to hook the ones for March. I’m a little behind, having been rippling along on my ripply blanket for a little hooky break, but I’m love, love loving the progress and therapy of this blanket. I introduced this blanket back in March after making some progress with it and finishing other WIP’s.Image

It’s beautiful hand-dyed merino wool and I’m working it on a 3.5m hook, so that my tension matches the size the triangles need to be. The beauty of this blanket is the mysterious nature of receiving a package in the post, filled with the scrummiest and loveliest yarn, winding it all up, then exploring and figuring out the colour combinations for the motifs. The Photo album on my Facebook page has the very beginnings of the blanket and shows the progress made, even with the travelling motif making in the car!ImageImage

Anyone not familiar with the Natural dye Studio, should have a peep over at their Facebook page (there are links to their website too) and revel in the colour, designs and magnificence of Amanda Perkins’ designs. I first saw her at yarn dale and I will be meeting up with Amanda at Woolfest this June. She has some fabulous ideas, including the completed and cryptically photographed finished Kaleidoscope Blanket!

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This is her recent Supernova Blanket.

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So I’ll be hooking away at my colourful Kaleidoscope Blanket for the next few weeks, winding the newly arrived package of yarn and watching the pattern unfold. We even have a Ravelry group to see each others progress- but no peeping at the next stage. Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!

:: First Quarter ::

It doesn’t seem two minutes ago that I was putting together my end of year review photos, of colourful makes, practical projects and little bits of my creative life. Here I am with the First Quarter of the year flashing by in images!! What a treat it is again, even though it wasn’t that long ago, to refresh, recap and revisit these happy snaps.

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What an amazingly colourful and creative first quarter it has been; there have been trials and tribulations, illness, difficult weather and changes to our working lives. But as a family, and with the support of good friends and trusted colleagues, we have weathered it all and are happy, safe and positive about what the next quarter will bring.

Many new projects on their way, new yarn purchased and also my kaleidoscope blanket to continue- it’s a lovely surprise every month! And I can’t wait to start my poncho with my beautiful Cascade peruvian yarn too. Busy busy!!

Happy hooking people!!

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:: Springtime crochet happiness::

Hello and Happy Saturday everyone!!

What a happy Saturday morning it is the Hayloft household today. The sun is shining, with the promise of snow on it’s way and it feels like Springtime making me feel full of happiness and hope. It is such a lovely feeling, after a tough week teaching, to feel the sun on your face, feel the spring chill in the air and see the bulbs and plants slowly unfurling back from their wintery sleep.  But the best reason for my Springtime happiness is the delivery of my Springtime Crochet project; my beautiful Peruvian wool arrived from Deramores this morning.

Would you like a peep?

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 Isn’t it exciting? Such a delight to see the amazingly vivid and rich rainbow of colours, I just had to share my glee and delight with you. It gives me such happiness.

I’m going to use all of these beautiful 24 colours to make my crochet poncho, as I mentioned in this post, and I have many ideas for the design of it. I’m dreaming of lovely stripes and textures that will make my heart ZING! And keep me warm in the chilly summer festival and summer holiday nights.

Shall we look at more photos of my gorgeous yarn? I just love the excitement of opening  the parcel and seeing the skeins all cosy and curled up inside, waiting for me to reveal them. It was like opening a box of sweets. I gave them a squeeze and inhaled deeply their wonderful wooly, yarn scent. Oh I love the smell of yarn, I really do. I savoured it’s newness and it’s promise.

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The inspiration for this project comes direct from the Peruvian mountains and the ponchos worn and used for practical purposes on Machu Picchu and the surrounding area. Instead of being woven, I’ll be using a 5.5mm hook as it’s classed as chunky and it should work up quite quickly. Amazing crochet happiness for my Springtime project.

So happy, happy Saturday and I hope you are enjoying making or planning your Springtime crochet happiness. I am. :O)xxx

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::Outside again::

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It always amazes me how quickly you begin to feel better when you’ve been ill, if you can venture outside again. Half term took a turn for the worse when my asthma decided it didn’t like the bronchial virus that struck mid-week, so staying warm and cosy became a priority. Not being able to breathe is a very scary feeling, typically like ‘the elephant on the chest’ that people often refer to when having an asthma attack. But this asthma attack didn’t work like that: it crept up on me over time making me feel tired, cold and breathless. I wondered when I would be able to go outside again.

So this week I took advantage of being at home, snuggly warm (and somewhat tired) to complete projects, watch T.V movies that had been stored on the hard drive since Christmas, enjoy tasty foods (my tastebuds were seriously struggling, everything tasted so bland) and generally fully recharge my batteries. I really did enjoy the full Lord of the Rings trilogy, all nearly 10 hours of it… but my goodness I just wish they’d got there sooner! In the end my week turned out very productive, and I did get lots of rest. More than once I discovered myself asleep on the sofa, snuggled under my blanket realising that poor Frodo had suddenly taken a turn for the worse too without me noticing!

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::Monday: I completed little Em crochet granny square blanket.

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::Tuesday: I wound all of my beautiful yarn for my next crochet projects.

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::Wednesday: I designed and transferred my blog to a brand spanking new home (here!) including a montage of all my bits and bobs and crochet, knitted and patchwork makes.

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::Thursday: I made yummy food. Gluten and dairy free brownies the recipe is on this post Good-for-my-tummy-brownies.

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::Friday: Hooray! I ventured outside again and filled my lungs with Cumbrian, oh-so-fresh-and tinglingly-cool air and paddled in the mud. It was glorious and so exhilarating to finally be outside again and to feel the air and the sun on my face, my cheeks glowed and it did make my nose run rather a lot (tissues were definitely needed). But my lungs did thank me for the pleasure of new air with a sound sleep and virtually no coughing! No, not much at all!

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::Saturday: I went outside again to the market in the wonderful town of Keswick and in my basket I bought…

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…some lovely fresh beetroot, a beautiful watermelon, a deliciously scented bunch of parsley and some vintage-styly cup cake cases. Aren’t they adorable? I also visited the Cafe26 and had… lemon drizzle cake with blueberries and a lovely Americano Coffee! (Can you see my beautiful crocheted neck warmer cowl- I’m wearing it right now as I write, it really does keep me so snug – I got that finished too but that’s for another post).

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It just shows how sometimes your body will let you know when it really has had enough and it needs you to Stop, take a moment and sit back and recover. I’m getting better at reading the signs that my body has had enough, this time however I didn’t take heed, I thought I could win through and keep going, half term was looming, it would be fine. Clearly not.

So it is with renewed lungs, recharged batteries and faith in my resolve that I return, excitedly and very welcomed, back to my class and job as Deputy head in school. It is a very demanding job, in reality it isn’t 9-3.30 as anyone who knows or lives with a teacher will know. I will try my best to ‘take it steady’ next week, as the asthma nurse has recommended. But I am feeling better and longing to be going outside again.

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