Category Archives: Out and About

London 2012 – Taekwondo

The one event I got tickets for at 2012 was the preliminary rounds for the Taekwondo, the Mens -68kg and the womens -57kg.  To be fair, the only other tickets I went for were Archery and the Opening/Closing ceremony (of course I never expected to get those). I only went for the preliminary Taekwondo tickets because I figured I’d have a chance of getting those and I wanted to see something at the Olympics. I’m a Londoner born and bred (even if people don’t believe that because of my accent)  and there was no way I was going to miss this.   (Oh how I wish I’d gone for more tickets! I’ve absolutely LOVED the last 2 weeks I am feeling a little fatigued now, but it has been excellente!0

On Thursday 9th me and hubby got up at stupid O’Clock to get to the ExCel centre in time for the 9am start time. In hindsight we probably didn’t need to get up at 5am, but I hate being late for things and I really wanted to make sure we got there in time! We left the house 6.15am in glorious sunshine, and an hour and 15 mins later we arrived at the ExCel centre.

Being so early we breezed through security and meandered our way inside.

While we waited to get to our seats (the doors opened at 8am) we consumed rather overpriced bacon rolls, (Although they were pretty damned tasty!) and got our photo taken with a torch.  We then headed to our seats – right at the back!!

At 8.30 we were given a wonderful demonstration by the World Taekwondo Federation, a mock fight (very well choreographed!) and elaborate set ups to kick piece of wood. (On occasion they were cards.)

At one point they had set it up so that one of them was blindfolded and they had bells to tell him where to go to kick the cards. And he did it. TWICE.

And then it was on with the competition. (I took so many pictures here that its been very hard to know what to include! And in fact I’m going to cut this post because this is rather picture heavy!) The whole event was fantastic! The skill shown by the athletes was amazing.

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Olympic Torch Relay

Yes ok I’m a little slow at posting this considering I saw this over a week ago at Alexandra Palace and we’re now almost half way through the Olympics.  Initially I was just going to line the street and watch the torch go past, however a friend of hubby’s was visiting the UK and her brother had actual got some tickets to event at the end of the day. Hubby wasn’t so interested in going, he’s not one for crowds. (We had a semi disastrous attempt at seeing the Queen’s Jubilee stuff – which I did mean to post and never got around to.) But I really wanted to be there, to be able to see it so I asked for one of the tickets. It was a very hot and sunny evening, which was really nice (although I was a little worried about getting sunburnt) and not that busy in the area where the torch relay was going to end. (Ticketing, they were free tickets, meant they could control the numbers, it was quite sensible.)  While we waited for the Torch to turn up we had some yummy (if expensive) ice cream and watched the entertainment provided.

I have to say this was probably the most corporate event I’ve ever been to. The opening acts were sponsored by Samsung, TSB and then Coke. The only advantage was that I did get free drinks, as Coke were handing out free bottles of cola ( I have kept one of the limited edition bottles as I feel it could make a nice little flower pot.)

I will confess to not wearing the most sensible shoes (heeled sandals) I can walk in them fine, however standing in them for 2 hours and then walking for 1 hour and 20 minutes home…. yeah….. they hurt. A LOT. It was however a very nice walk through several woods, but still not good footwear.

Because this is going to be rather photo heavy I’m going to have to trim it, I just want to say that since the games have started I have been loving EVERY MINUTE OF IT.

In fact I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t try and go for more tickets, I do actually enjoy watching the rowing and I should have tried for the cycling/swimming that would have been good to! But I shall console myself with having quite a few events to go to for the Paralympics which will be just as awesome! 😀

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Alt.Fiction 2012

I spent the weekend (with hubby) up in Leicester for Alt.Fiction.  Whats strange about Leicester is that it’s only about an hour from St Pancras, and yes you have to get to St Pancras but it means it takes almost the same amount of time to get to Leicester as it does to say cross London (either North-South or East-West) how crazy is that?

On to Alt.Fiction a weekend filled with talks on writing, fiction and meeting lovely people.

The two best talks I went to were ‘Not another F**king elf’ and ‘Diversity in Fantasy’.

The first turned into a rather informal chat (I don’t know if the lack of a moderator was an oversight or not?) about the trope of elves, discussing how they’re portrayed in fiction/computer games how they sort of represent our spiritual selves. Also talked about the zombie horde and how they have become (like Orcs were) the faceless horde that can be killed without consequence. (Although I wanted to mention but didn’t get a chance to that Zombies are more an environmental thing traditionally the story is about how its the humans who screw each other open and fuck up their chance to survive.)  I also wanted to mention but it kind of got mentioned elsewhere that the archetype of elves (arrogant, long lived, old ‘dying’ race) is not just limited to fantasy but its also in SF. (Vulcans, Asari, Minbari – interesting none in Starwars but then most of the races are pretty much human just with slight physical differences.)  It was also pointed out that while elves can vary quite a bit between different worlds, dwarves (IF they are included) are often portrayed in exactly the same way across worlds. This was all a very interesting discussion and allowed me to geek out a bit when people start mentioning words like ‘Roleplaying’, ‘Skyrim’, ‘Bioware’ etc.

My one complaint about this talk (hmm maybe 2) was a) I could have happily sat there and listened/tried to discuss this a bit longer and b) the room was so small that people had to be turned away, hubby missed this one and he was quite disappointed about it.

The second did exactly what it said on the tin, discussed gender, race and sexual preferences. These are all quite hot topics at the moment and I found this was a very good discussion. One of the panel members is one of the few female writers for the Black Library and it was pointed out by Adrian Tchaikovsky that Warhammer is one of the few things where nothing is a faceless horde. Everything has to be playable and so there has to be something that people can relate to even if they are playing the evil sides like Chaos. (This got me into a discussion with hubby on the train home that I think I’ll do in another post. )  I kind of wish that at the end I had asked/commented on the whole issue of people being surprised by the race of one of the characters in The Hunger Games. (People basically being stupid, not reading properly and being racist.)

I went to a few other talks but none really matched the energy of these ones and I got a little annoyed at some of the talks, mostly at some things which just didn’t make sense.

I also met quite a few of the Apocalypse Girls which was great 😀 got to sit down with some of them and a few others and just chat about all manor of things, from Anime to ethnicity on forms. ‘Twas all good. 🙂

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The curse of being shy

Yesterday there was a Steampunk event at Blackwells bookshop.  I am not obsessed by the genre but I do really like it. Also China Meville was going to be there, as well as some other authors, and there was going to be Kraken rum (Kracken sponser The Kitschies, who were running the event.) All sounds good right?

Except for the fact that I am actually quite shy and it really comes to the fore front at times like this. I am bad at mingling at these sorts of events. Perhaps some of it was due to the fact that apart from China, I had read none of the other authors, so I don’t really know what to say/talk about. Most of the authors who I have read weren’t there (because they don’t live in this country.)

Still I think I’m much better at events where the author talks a bit, and then there’s a discussion. As I can listen and find it interesting. (And I don’t have to find some way to butt in to a conversation.)

One of the problems may have been that I didn’t realise it was on until that lunchtime. I debated going, and then I saw the words ‘stitch your own Slake Moth’ and that was all I needed. Still perhaps next time I should try and do some research before hand, so that I will at least know who is who if I don’t know who most of the people are. (There were far too many who’s in that last sentance.)

Still it wasn’t a waste. I got Dreadnought by Cherie Priest and Heartless by Gail Carriger, and Hubby picked up Embassytown by China Meville (which I had wanted to wait to get in paperback, but it was signed.) Also have a few ideas for pressi’s now too, which is good.

And I know that at some point the pattern for the Slake Moth is going to be on Ravelry, so I will keep an eye out for that. Because I’m totally making one. 🙂

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5k and knitting class

So last weekend I ran my first ever 5k (adidas 5k), I was a little nervous about running it because I didn’t think I’d really done enough training.  I do a lap around my local park which I think may be just over 3k and I can’t actually jog all the way around, I have to pause and walk for short stints, I blame the hills, so I hadn’t even done a 5k in training. Although when I looked at the information I’d been sent, that suggested that in the last week before the run you should run non-stop for just 15 minutes, and my lap around the park took longer.  So I was unsure how it would go.

Because there were so many people running, they had a staggered start, with those who were going to run the slowest started at the back. I placed myself in the 30-35 section, as I figured I wasn’t going to go faster than 30, but I didn’t really want to start any further back, even if I thought it might take me longer. The race was due to start at 11am, but I didn’t actually start till 11.15am, and then, the first 2k in particular it was a matter of trying to navigate my way through people, lots of people, and even though anyone walking was supposed to be on the right, to allow runners to pass on the left, it didn’t really work that way.

Still I managed to jog the first 2k fine, and then 3k (it was about 21mins by this point) then I reached 4k and I still felt pretty ok, and then the finish! I didn’t quite manage a sprint finish, but I did pick up pace. 😀

34 minutes and 20 seconds. ^_^ jogging all the way around

I am pretty damn happy with that, I’d hoped I could do it in that sort of time, but I’d thought it would perhaps take me more than 40 mins! I actually enjoyed it somewhat, I just hated training for it. But I think the reason I made it all the way around? Hills. Hyde park is pretty flat and as I said my local park has hills.

Still next time I’ll have to train harder and try and beat my time!


This weekend I also had a knitting class at Loop, given by the very lovely Ysolda Teague, who is one of my fave knitting designers. She has recently had a book published called Little Red in the City, which not only has some very lovely knitting patters, but has quite a lot of information about how to make sure that the jumpers and cardigans that you knit actually FIT. So her class was basically covering a lot of this.

There was one amusing point where, while we (there were 8 of us in the class) were trying the tops from the book on to see what suited and what we need to do to get them fit, where she asked me where I was from. Now I’ve become accustomed recently to people asking this because they can’t place my accent and seem to assume I’m Australian*. So I’ve started to tell people to guess when they ask where I’m from, because I find it amusing to see what they’ll say. But she, to my surprise asked me if I had family from the North of England, and that she didn’t ask due to my accent, but because she’d found, while doing talks/classes up there that woman in those parts tended to have smaller shoulders, and did I find that straps for things fall of my shoulders a lot. To which I replied yes my dad was from Sheffield, and that yes straps are always falling off my shoulders. And actually there’s a few things I’ve knitted where I’ve had to crochet around the edges to reinforce them so that they don’t constantly fall of my shoulders.  My lyttelton is a prime example of this.

This may well be due to me having to knit larger sizes for my bust, but hopefully I can knit a smaller size and then put in darts to make it fit. I shall see how it goes. But at least I have a slightly better idea of the alterations I will need to make for my garments now.. perhaps I can have a few more tops that will fit.

It was a very enjoyable class, which included tea, cake and biscuits. 🙂  I also bought some very nice yarn in order to make one of the cardigans from the book, but I completely forgot to take a photo, it was a nice day too! Maybe next time. It’s a very lovely purpleish colour, I was originally intending to get a more grey/brown colour but there a) weren’t enough skeins and b) I think this may be a much nicer colour anyway. I haven’t even wound a skein yet though, got one cardigan I must finish (annoyingly have to re-knit one of the arms because it is too long and too tight) and a jumper that I’ve been meaning to start for ages.

*I’m not Australian, I’ve lived my entire life in London, but having lived with a Kiwi for 3 years I think something has rubbed off, giving my accent a bit of a lilt at times. But it has been hysterical telling people I’m English and having them go ‘no, no you can’t be, you sound Australian, its simply not possible for you to be English.’

Side note: I’ve yet to have anyone say I sound Kiwi.. I don’t know if that’s because Australia is simply the first place they think of (probably) or if mixing a London accent with Kiwi makes something more Oz sounding?!? Who knows!

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A world of horrors… and a few fun things

So on Saturday me and the hubby went to the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum), I even though I am a Londoner, have never gone there. As a child I think I had much more appriciation for staring at big dino skeletons in the Natural History Musuem, or at the Space stuff or playing in the Launch Pad (Kids could play with stuff to see the science behind it, like building a bridge and knowing what a keystone is for) in the Science Museum. The V&A however is full of sculptures, statues, paintings, fabrics, carpets etc. Now I will confess to being not that interested in the carpets, I do like looking at a lot of sculptures from Asia, China, Japan etc. It was also really nice seeing a lot of stuff from 18th Century Britian, you could really see the influence of China and such on our fabrics. I also thought some of the embroidery was very neat, as they actually embroidered over wool to give what they were making much more of a 3d look and feel. I particularly liked the very large japanese screen that was in the small trade section. Black lacqure with flowers painted on it, very stunning, very beautiful. Really wish I could have something like that (although I at least need a house to put it in!).

We only ended up wondering around parts of the ground floor and the 1st floor before we left to have lunch. Will have to head back another day to see some of the stuff we missed, but that’s the same with the British Musuem, the place is so big! (I can’t really say the same about the NHM or the Science Museum, I went there a LOT as a child, several times each year, we had an annual pass. I do love that the museums are now free. 🙂 ) Definitely worth a visit. 🙂

The weather was typically English, it was sunny as we walked to Hyde Park, got cold and then started to rain as we had our sandwiches, and once we’d left to walk to Orks Nest at Leicester Square it got sunny again.

So we navigated our way past the road works, the groups of tourists and those annoying people who decide to just meander slowly in front of you takign up too much pavement space to pass, or who just stop. Seriously I have begun to think that if I could have any superpower it would be Kitty Prides power. Then I could just go along at my own speed, and not have to worry about people stopping in front of me, it’s really annoying. >_<

As we approached Leicester Square from Piccadilly Circus we spotted it… The world of horrors, a creepy place to give you nightmares. Never have I actually seen an example of such huge commercialism .

M&M World

(Seriously I don’t even think the Disney shops are as bad as this, at least they have products for the different movies!)

Yes M&M’s sugar coated chocolate (or peanut if that’s your preference… blerg!) have a world. There are apparently 3 stores around the US and now, London has one, it’s 3 and a half floors of the same expensive tat. A lot of different style of chocolate dispensers, as well as clothing, plushes (ones dressed up like soliders and knights etc). Did you miss a particular style of chocolate dispenser on the first floor and now think you might want to buy one, well pick one up from the basement or from the floor below that. I know I am perhaps repeating myself but this is a 3 and a half story building selling the SAME STUFF on all floors, just for M&Ms!!!!!

There is a HUGE bank against a wall where you can get different coloured M&Ms (only milk chocolate and peanut) so that you can fill up your dispensers (which one or two did look kind of neat but still….). You could also buy fancy designed boxes which seprate the M&Ms up into different colours so make a butterfly or a flower, unsurprsingly these are expensive. The music is loud, the staff are creepily happy happy, and obviously it was packed with tourists thus making it hard to navigate. We managed to finally escape with our sanity intact (hopefully!).

I know this place is not aimed at me, I’m not a tourist and I’m also getting older and clearly grumpier but still… CREEPY!!! I’ve seen it, I don’t need to go ever again.Once it was a building that looked quite interesting it had clocks on the outside,then it got knocked down and now it’s a modern glass fronted building selling stuff only for M&Ms.

So we made our escape and went on to Orks Nest, we’d hoped they might have had something for Free RPG day but it was not to be. I found out afterwards that I could have looked this up before hand and know. But oh well. We had a good long walk that day, it was nice.

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Comedy night

So last night I went to a comedy night where comedians get 5 minutes to do their thing. It was a pretty good night, and for the most part everyone was funny (in fact one in particular was hysterical), however one ‘comedian’ well… The word comedian implies that you are funny, doing what was effectively a 5 minute rant about politics…. not so funny, especially when you’re simply just pointing out stuff people kind of already know. Yes we all know the comments about how all the political party leaders look the same but with just a different tie. This statement in itself is not funny. And the statement after this probably wouldn’t have been funny either, as he tried to use a rather poor simile to the further explain the tie thing, except he messed that up.  Also telling the audience that we have to give you something to work with, well I think the fact that we weren’t laughing should have given you more than enough. It wasn’t funny and was actually quite painful to watch.  Even the other guy who wasn’t particularly funny at least tried to make something out of the non-laughter, it didn’t work that well but he did something. He didn’t simply call the audience a bunch of assholes when he finished. Or is that just a thing the guy thought was cool???

On another note, to the people who were sitting behind me and to my right during the gig. We were in a not very large room and you weren’t that far from the stage. Talking while someone is doing an act is incredibly rude.  Now in somewhere like a cinema this is just very annoying. However to do it when people are performing an act right in front of you, especially if they might be new to it. They were talking a bit when the compare started the event, there was definitely  a muttered ‘get on with it’ when the compare started the second half and muttering through some of the acts of the second half. If you don’t find something funny that’s fine, but seriously there is no need to keep talking to each other. Seriously rude.

But yes apart from that it was a good night. 🙂

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I went to the Natural History Museum with a friend on Wed, mostly to catch up as we hadn’t seen each other in ages, but we wondered around the Sensational Butterfly Exhibition, which I’ve never actually been in to before. (I’ve wondered around the rest of the museum hundreds of time.) Lots of very pretty butterflies in there, and it was very humid, as I think most are from Africa and S.America. (Although as I comment on the photo’s I was busy watching said butterflies instead of reading.) Anyway hope you enjoy the pictures, some are a little crappy as the butterflies were behind glass, where the cocoons are. Also some aren’t as bright as I think they should be, camera couldn’t quite cope. If I’d thought about it I should have taken a photo of the identification chart they had on display, then I might have known what was what… Oh well. Hope you enjoy the photos. Unless you don’t like butterflies in which case… don’t look?

Butterflies, a set on Flickr.

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Virgin London Marathon 2011

So my friend ran the London Marathon this year, which is a freaking amazing achievement and me and my friends were there to cheer her on, which she said really did help.

We all met up at Woolwich Arsenal for Mile 3 (In blue). This was made sightly difficult by the DLR deciding to be awkward, but I made it and then managed to find my friends M&J.  We cheered some random people on, and looked on in amazment at some of the insane costumes (see below) before we realised that the sneaky people who set up the marathon had for some reason split the running channels down this particular section and we were missing a large chunk of runners! So we hurried over to a spot where both channels joined and really hoped with hadn’t missed our friend. We were pretty sure we’d already missed her bf. However J has very sharp eyes, and managed to spot her and I almost forgot to take a photo! Unfortunately she a) had earphones in and b) we were a  bit too far away for her to actually hear us at this point.

London Marathon E 1

And so on we raced to Deptford and Mile 8, well I say ‘raced’ we had to stand around at the station for about 15 mins while we waited for a train. There we met up with K and headed to find a spot. We were relieved to see that some of the people in costumes going past were familiar and so we were pretty sure we hadn’t missed our friend.  And sure enough here she was! We stepped out into the road this time and waved our banner, she couldn’t miss us! 🙂

London Marathon E 2

We then walked to our next point , Mile 16, and there thanks to J’s sharp eyes again, we managed to spot our friend’s bf a bit of shouting and he did look back so I think he spotted us. Then we had lunch and waited (trying not to get hit by the cars squeezing past the spectators, I’m not sure I’d want to drive anywhere on marathon day!) as we didn’t yet recognise any of the people in costumes. And then there she was. 🙂

London Marathon E 3

I didn’t manage to make it to the end, but I’m told she managed to complete it in about 7 hours. As I said a the beginning it’s an amazing achievement. So a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to everyone that did it.

And here are some shots of those who decided they were mad enough to wear/carry things.

London Marathon 1 London Marathon 2  London Marathon 3

London Marathon 4London Marathon 8 London Marathon 5 London Marathon 6

Pic 1:Why yes that is a ‘bus’ there are two people in there running & carrying the frame! Pic 2:And yes I think the band did walk and play the whole way.

London Marathon Rhino London Marathon 10 London Marathon 11 London Marathon 12

Pic 1: Rhino!   Pic 2:  J got her camera out to take a photo just after me, and suddenly the suit deflated, we’ve no idea what that was about!.  Pic 3:Saw the horse again at Mile 16 but it was in two halves then, not sure why, was a bit odd, meant the person at the front was carrying the whole thing.

London Marathon 13  London Marathon 14

This man did apparently dance the whole route!

London Marathon 7

I really hope this guy made it to the finish, because this is both amazing and insane. Hubby has suggested that the weight of a washing machine might perhaps equal the weight of the pack & armour and such that parachute troops have to carry or something. That would certainly make sense as I’m not sure quite why else you’d decide to do a marathon with a washing machine on your back.

London Marathon Rhino 2

The rhino takes a break. I hope she (we think it was a she) finished the marathon, it was quite warm on Sunday and those suits must be ridiculously hot!

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So, way back in September (ok so not that long ago), I went away for the weekend and met up with some friends for a weekend of being crafty (and by that I mean painting Warhammer Models, Knitting, Drawing and making  Chainmail) and also visiting Brighton.

I decided to take what I’m knitting for my mum with me, however I knew that I would have to spend a little time winding the second skein of lace, I potentially wasn’t that bothered by this as there is ‘only’ 300m to it. (As opposed to the 1000m I had to wind once, and infact I have at least 2 skeins of lace that are over 1000m, I am NOT looking forward to that).  So I unwrapped the skein, so that would have a large loop of yarn and as I did so I thought ‘Hang on a minute this isn’t right’ It didn’t split in half easily. (If you’ve ever used a skein of yarn you’ll know what I mean.) As I put it across my knees and tried to start pulling one end of the yarn I got that sinking feeling. It was tangled, and tangled bad. And I had a bad horrific vision of this taking me the whole weekend to unravel. Which I really didnt want to do. But once you’ve started to deal with a tangled skein of yarn you can’t really put it down without it getting more tangled. (No matter how careful you are either, it’s just the law.)

However as I was with friends I did have to go out/go to sleep and thus I very very very carefully put it on the floor:

Tangled Lace

Yet somehow, by very very carefully not pulling on the yarn at random and thus knotting it, somehow I ended up with this:

Tangled Lace1

It didn’t take all weekend either! I managed to do some painting too. (Hmm should take some photo’s of that stuff at some point.)

So in between the wool winding and painting we went to Brighton. (Somehow ended up spending around 7 hours there…. not quite sure how.) It was also luckily quite a nice day!

Brighton 2010 04

Brighton 2010 05

We had a late lunch (which I think took about an hour and a half to eat). It only took so long because one of my friends really cannot deal with any spice whatsoever. She ordered a calzone, and did ask what was in it, unfortunately none of us twigged that when the waitress said ‘Sausage’ that, because it’s an Italian restaurant, what she actually meant was ‘Pepperoni’.  It was all all right in the end, the staff replaced the calzone with another one that had tomato, cheese and spinach in it.

And then we had dessert

Brighton 2010 12

Actually you can’t really tell quite how big the profita rolls are. (Have I spelt that right? ) I’ve never seen such large ones, I couldn’t eat it all.

And so to end the day (watching Aang The Last Airbender the CARTOON which is AWESOME btw) we had cocktails. This one was by fair the prettiest. 🙂

Brighton 2010 18

This is also the trip where I left the booker prize book in my friends car, but as I posted before I got it back and have now completed them all. 🙂


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