Hannah’s Adventures: Birmingham and #SBSEvent2019 – Part One

If you follow me on social media you will know that back in October, I was and winner of SBS (Small Business Sunday) that was created by Theo Paphitis. Earlier this week, I went on an adventure to Birmingham to attend the SBS Annual Event. This is a conference with a number of different speakers put on for the SBS Winners.

Chris went to work this morning and Jaxon and I went to knitting group as it’s the school holidays. Then after lunch (and some play time) Jaxon and I collected Chris from work and then we all went to the station at Milton Keynes so that I could catch my train up to Birmingham.

It should have been that simple. On my arrival at Milton Keynes Central, the train I was going to catch was already 2 minutes delayed – not an issue at all. I made a detour to the toilet on my way to the platform for the train then grabbed a hot drink from the kiosk to drink on the train. This was kind of mistake one but I wouldn’t know that until I was on the train.

The expected time for the delayed train got longer and longer, 27 minutes late in fact. According to the announcements there had been trespassers on the line near Wembley and that was slowing down all the trains heading northbound on this particular bit of track. I think it was delaying the southbound too but I’m not sure.

The train arrives at 1650ish and all the people who had been waiting then get on the same train. I ended up stood in the end of the carriage – which wouldn’t have been a problem but I was then stood trying to stop my suitcase falling over, as well as not falling over a guy’s bike and then holding on without spilling my hot chocolate (which I think was heading towards tepid by this point…).

As we left Milton Keynes station, I was resisting the urge to sing along to my music (Come From Away – Broadway Cast and Les Miserables – 10th Anniversary cast) while looking out the window. We went past what used to the railway sheds at Wolverton, then I figured I might be able to see Chris’s old office. It just happened that his old office is on a hill and had a direct line of sight to the railway so I could spot the building really easily.

Lots of people around me got off at Northampton which meant that I could get a seat. In my rush to get my suitcase on the rack and then find my seat I nearly elbowed a fellow passenger in the head (but at least I didn’t hit him with the suitcase!). I sat down with three lads who were then all discussing which train they needed to be on as more and more stops were being skipped to try and still get to Birmingham New Street on time. Two of the lads decided to get off straight away and they’d get on the next train which would hopefully still be stopping at Birmingham International Airport.

After settling in my seat, I put in a refund request for my train ticket. I’m not sure I’ll get much back as it was 27 minutes late (so would be the same as if it had been 15 minutes late…) but it would be something. I also got a reply from London Northwestern Trains on Twitter so I think their social media person must have been on the case given the number of trains that were delayed and how many complaints they were probably fielding. I then got on with a couple of others bits. I was still working on a blog post as we started to get closer to Birmingham so I got my things together ready to get off the train.

Thankfully my lovely host for the night (friend of a friend) had just been in touch about dinner, she was doing pasta and would happily stick some more on for me. Yes please and thank you! I offered to bring dessert in exchange – this seemed like a good idea! We agreed on it needing to be something chocolatey and I spotted a small supermarket in the station so decided that I’d grab something there and then be on the next train to Sutton Coldfield where I was staying. I also had a brief look in Foyles to see if they had any Hobonichi planners in stock but they only have them in the London stores it seems. I also stopped briefly at the Moleksine shop in the station too. (I know I know, I don’t need any more planners or notebooks lol)

I headed down to the platform and waited for the next train. It arrived within a few minutes and then there was a bit of a scramble to get onboard. I found a seat and got comfortable.

Then I almost missed my stop…

I’d been listening to the announcements and even said to myself “It’s the next one” and even then I nearly missed it! The announcements in our carriage just seemed to be really unclear, so having just caught the end of the announcement I realised we were at Sutton Coldfield so grabbed my backpack and my suitcase. My suitcase was in the overhead rack and clearly I misjudged how heavy it was or something because my wrist/arm did a funny and my suitcase ended up on the floor. I grabbed it quickly, got off the train and then accessed the damage. My wrist/hand was a little sore but no permanent damage. I decided I’d keep an eye on it and if it’s really bad, I’d cross that bridge when I got there.

I walked through the station – or what there is of a station, Sutton Coldfield station is smaller than I think I expected it to be given how close we are to the city. Then loaded the directions on my phone. Google’s directions involved a public footpath between some houses so I put my phone away and power walked. At one point my hood up to look scarier or something lol. I followed the rest of the directions and easily found my host’s house. My host was super lovely and was in the middle of making dinner as I arrived so she just added the finishing touches. My host, her friend and I got chatting and it was lovely to get to know one another and how my host knows our mutual friend (who helped me finding somewhere to stay for the night). We had dinner then shared our desserts. I then headed off upstairs. I didn’t want to seem rude but then also I didn’t want to be in the way. I’d come prepared with things to do to occupy myself and with an internet connection there’s always Netflix (or the new episode of Cold Feet that just came up on my notifications!).

So that’s Monday complete. Tomorrow I’m off back to the station to catch the train back into Birmingham then off to find my way to the venue. Hoping I will bump into some friendly faces on the way. A lovely lady called Rachel from Ashby Interiors has been chatting to me lots so I’m hoping when we meet in person we get on as well too! Right, time to schedule this post for the morning and then head to bed. Now that the bathroom is free I think I’ll get ready for bed and snuggle down in the bed. The house is a bit colder than I think I’m used to in our house so although my hands are warm from typing. My feet are cold!

Little Makes – February

Little Makes

Little Makes was started by Jemma at Thimble and Twig and Fee at One of Each, I’ve not joined in for a while but thought I’d share the projects that I’ve been working on.

A Trio of Baby Blankets

Having paused on my own projects to get a couple of Christmas presents made, I decided that I’d start this year by finishing some WIPS (words in progress).

But first up, with three (more) babies due in our extended friendship group across January, it was time to grab the crochet hook and get a couple of baby blankets made. In the end there were two boys and a girl. But, as I didn’t know who was having what, the three blankets were all sorts of gender neutral. One was nearly all blues because by the time I got to it, I either knew baby was expected to be a boy or he’d already arrived.

When it came to wrapping the present, I used plain brown paper that I had left over from Christmas along with some blue wool and these tags from I should be mopping the floor. I have some of these from Stationery Geek but they’ve ran away somewhere in with my craft bits – hopefully I’ll find them next time I have a present to give.

Progress: All finished and two delivered.

Stormy Open Back Jumper

This pattern is by Nicky AKA Handknits and Hygge. You can find the pattern here. The body was nice and easy but the lace bits on the arms is what is taking me the time. It’s knitted in the round and all in pattern so getting anywhere seems to be taking all the time but I will get there in the end!

Progress: Down to the arms – they are taking the time but I’ll get there in the end!

Jaxon’s Rainbow Jumper

I had seen a pattern in a knitting magazine for a stripey jumper, so when I asked Jaxon would he like one, he requested that he had a rainbow jumper. Rather than go out and buy lots of new wool for it, I started with my stash which meant that I ended up with some really interested contributions.

Progress: Minus the buttons for the neckline, it’s finished and ready to go.

Northern Lights Shawl

This is another project from a knitting magazine. This time it’s the Northern Lights shawl from Simply Knitting (Issue 182). Again I started with what I had from my stash. This rainbow one is Hayfield Spirit in the Zest colour way, I’m accompanying it with the Schjeepes Colour Crafter in Dordecht that I won in a giveaway from BinkyPlans.

Progress: 136 rows into it but still going! At leasto the same still to go!

Monthly Review: January

January was here and then gone so quickly! What happened?

Highlights from January

  • The month started bittersweet and it wasn’t really a highlight but the fact that I got to see a lot of old friends was a highlight. Our friend was involved in an incident at the beginning of December and after being placed on life support he had to be removed from it and unfortunately passed away. It was lovely to see everyone at Three Rivers Church, I just wished so badly that it had been under better circumstances.
  • We tried to get life back to normal following Christmas and everything else but it just felt like trying to get through January was like wading through treacle – I’m sure it probably actually wasn’t that bad but it just felt like I wasn’t really getting anywhere and then we were at the end of the month already.
  • In a completely insane and surreal moment, I was contacted by Andrea Diaz from CNN Entertainment after I’d tweeted a radio station here in the UK about how I’d been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and had put it into practice – my photo and my essay of a comment was used in the post and then it went around a bunch of affliates too! Did you see that bit? Read here)

Top Posts Viewed in January

Goals Set for January – and the Progress

  • Start #walk1000miles2019 – Walked 104 miles in January. This was about 13 miles over the target for the month. This is great because it allows for a quieter week over half term!

Projects Worked on in January

  • Jaxon’s Jumper
  • Baby Blanket 1, 2 and 3

Books Read in January

  • The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher
  • On the Road to Here by Robert Kugler

Series Watched (Not full seasons btw!)

  • Black Lightning (Netflix)
  • Tidying Up with Marie Kondo
  • Luther (Netflix but originally BBC)
  • Timeless (Netflix)
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix)
  • House of Cards (Netflix)
  • Friends from College (Netflix – not so keen on Season 2 – seems to be trying to fit that Friends/How I Met Your Mother idea)
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • Grace and Frankie
  • Republic of Doyle
  • The Good Cop

Films Watched

  • Bob’s Broken Sleigh (Netflix)
  • Super Monsters and the Wish Star (Netflix)
  • Swimming with Men (Netflix)
  • 13 Going on 30
  • Leap Year
  • Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  • The Bookshop
  • Gnome Alone
  • The Last Laugh
  • Frozen
  • Moana
  • Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

Goals for February

  • Continue with walking 1000 miles challenge. Target for February is 76.9 miles which should be relatively easy. However there is a week of half term so I’m not entirely sure if I will then be behind target but we’ll see!
  • Clear more WIPs from the knitting/crochet pile. Try to finish the Northern Lights Shawl and the Storm Skies jumper by the end of February so I can move onto something else.

Hello Friends!

Well January has almost been and gone. I’ve just stood in Rogan’s Books telling Rachael about how I feel like I’ve not been very productive.

I say not being productive but I think that’s more work stuff rather than other stuff.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Having watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, I was on a bit of a crazy organisation run. I took bags to the charity shop, then bits to the dump. I did a run to the bottle bank and felt even more accomplished. (Then got contacted by CNN Entertainment. Did you see that bit? Read here)

I finished Jaxon’s jumper. Well almost it still needs the buttons but I’m doubting myself which ones to use. I might take my button tub to mum’s and get her to pick for me then again maybe I ask Jaxon – he’ll probably pick a crazy combination but if he likes it then that’s fine.

I’ve been working on a couple of other projects so I’m hoping I can share them soon.

I’ve also been attempting to get some blog posts written too. Not always as easy but we’ll get there in the end I’m sure. Maybe I need to go on an adventure one day while Jaxon’s at school. Maybe something like interesting things to see around Bedford based on the bus routes! This week I was called the “Bus Genie” because I was able to give my friend the bus routes she needed to get from her house to an appointment. Can you tell I use the buses nearly everyday?

Which happens to be exactly where I’m writing now. I’m heading to the supermarket to get some bits for dinner as requested by Chris then home for work before the school pick up. This morning I had a lovely catch up with my friend from church (actually I think we were school friends before church friends) then I went birthday present shopping.

Crazy Tidying!!

Back in 2015, I purchased The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and started reading it. I think the saying thank you to my clothes was the thing that put me off at first although I was still excited to give it a go, and I’m sure at that point I did.

But that was then and this is now, I think between one thing and another I’d settled into doing the everyday jobs to keep on top of the mess but never really made it any further than that. I get the dishwasher loaded in the morning and maybe a load of washing on the go but then get caught up in looking after Jaxon or working on my business bits. When I saw that Marie Kondo’s show was coming to Netflix I was very excited – I know what a nerd! But I think between Netflix commissioning this as well as the whole hype around Mrs Hinch towards the end of last year, I was suitably excited about finally getting our house in order. Some of the work was definitely going to be more of a team effort but some bits like sorting my own clothes and sorting Jaxon’s clothes could be done while the boys were out at work/college/school and I could surprise them with the things I’d achieved. I watched the first episode around New Year’s Day and really had to stop myself from binge-watching all the episodes in one go! It was too tempting to just click that “Next Episode” button!

I thought that it might give me the get-up and go to get the house sorted properly and it definitely did. With Jaxon going back to school after Christmas, I was all prepared than on the first day of term once I’d dropped him off at school, I would come home and get started but actually I got up on the 2nd January and once we’d had breakfast and played for a bit, that was it. I was starting on my wardrobe and getting rid of those clothes that I was holding on to for that day when I was slim enough to fit back in them again.

Chris had gone back to work and Jaxon still had a day off school. We had our breakfast and played for a little bit downstairs then I really felt like I needed to put this energy to use. I set Jaxon up with the iPad and his drawing books at the end of the bed and got all the clothes out of my wardrobe and emptied the chest of drawers too. In my wardrobe, I have some dresses that I’d bought over the years for different occasions like weddings and birthday parties, but I’m not the size I was maybe 3-4 years ago and I often gravitate to one particular dress that I pair with different cardigans and pairs of tights depending on the occasion. Maybe one day I’ll be that size again and fit in those older dresses but opening my wardrobe and seeing those dresses that I couldn’t wear did make me a little sad. It was like they were taking up space and being unloved when they could be loved in someone else’s wardrobe.

My daily “Mum Uniform” generally revolves around a t-shirt and jeans. I’d also been holding on to lots of t-shirts that were just not the right size for me any more. They would ride up while I tried to do chores around the house or I’d reach up for something in the supermarket and with the other hand have to hang onto the hem of my shirt. I got a bit drastic when it came to the t-shirts, I tried on so many and stood in the middle of the bedroom with my arms over my head, having a mini dance party and things like that to see if they were still suitable or if they were riding up around my tummy.

This was when the saying thanks to my clothes was coming into play. Still not sure I get this bit and still not sure it’s necessary but I did try to say thank you to my clothes but also a quick thank you prayer to God, that I had the opportunity to throw away the “extra” clothes because I’m fortunate enough to have clean clothes that fit me and keep me warm in the cold weather and things like that. I felt really happy like I’d achieved something really good when I saw the two bin bags but then I was like “Right what can I tidy next?”.

Well, it had to be paused that day because using all that energy caught up with me and Jaxon was climbing the walls as he was getting bored. I came back to it earlier this week when I got all the clean laundry that hadn’t made it back into the wardrobes piled on the bed. Put Luther on the iPad and worked on sorting, folding and putting away all the washing. I moved the dirty laundry downstairs ready to get on with that too. Now I’m waiting for the washing to catch up with me as it’s not drying as quickly as it might have done when we were home all day and the heating was running more. I’m thinking I might bake a cake over the weekend and move the washing in front of the oven while the cake bakes so that they can dry a bit quicker hopefully. Either that or I’ll be cranking up the heating for a little while.

While putting away the clean washing, I worked my way through Jaxon’s clothes and cleared out the items that were too small. I also ended up looking up on eBay and Amazon in case I could find two of the shirts that Jaxon has that are now too small for him. One is from Canada that Chris’s auntie brought back for him and the other is one that I found at an NCT sale. I think I might have to admit defeat on finding them in bigger sizes but we’ll see, maybe I’ll find them if I sit and properly look rather than my quick look the other day.

Now I’m off to set up my new bullet journal and write down a list of all the cupboards and other bits that need to be dealt with now. For example, we have so many mugs in the kitchen and really don’t need that many for four of us! Even when we have guests we have our white “wedding crockery” set that could be brought out instead.

Have you attempting using the KonMari method to tidy your house? Do you follow Mrs Hinch on Instagram? Are both of them not your cup of tea?