Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Still remember the first time flying offshore, all bundled up in my survival suit and other safety kit. Watching all these guys falling asleep before we even left the ground and thinking "I'll never be able to do that!" Funny how you manage within a very short space of time. There is a certain skill in being able to fall asleep very easily whilst flying on the choppers or the fixed wing flights. The benefits of the choppers is that they are so damned noisy that no-one can hear you snore or any of those snorty noises that you make when you nod off and your head drops to your chest. Whoever said flying was glamourous lied...profusely!
Thing is - this trip I get to see the chopper (aka the paraffin budgie) landing on Shearwater which I think is pretty cool. Even after 3 years of doing this I still find the whole flying thing pretty smart. Watching something come into land on such a small area of space. Watching the manoeverability of the machines and their pilots. Flying past these structures in the middle of the North Sea that people are working away on. Making a living. Getting on with people in an enclosed environment. Sharing your living space with no, or very little, choice in who you might end up sharing a cabin with. Who you share your free time with?! You just do what you have to. If you enjoy your time it's a bonus but for most it's something they do to provide a life for others.
And when it goes tits up, as it invariably does for a proportion? When the separation becomes too much? Divorce, relationships breakdown, don't survive...they just have to carry on regardless. Sometimes it's a good place to be in those times. An escape from all the shit that's going on at home. Other times it's the last place you want to be. There is no privacy. Can't make a phone call without folk listening in - it's not deliberate, just the soundproofing isn't always that great. Can't come back out of the phone booth upset or crying as everyone will see. Can't let that macho face slip. Can't let folk see the pussycat that hides behind the North Sea Tiger. Surrounded by folk but feel incredibly lonely and can't go anywhere to be alone.
That's when it's hard.
Tuesday, 1 May 2007
And another lovely wee jaunt was had to Londonium. I was there for a conference on the Friday - which was actually really good so no complaints there. Of course this did mean that I passed through Victoria which means that I was able to feed my crack addiction...also known as Krispy Kreme doughnuts...I only had 3 of them this trip which was slightly better than the last trip when I had 7 over the course of 4 days!
Then there was some wine on Thursday night - but only a glass each with our Chinese. We finished the rest of it on Friday night.
More drinkies on Friday night when we went to Galvin at Windows on the 28th floor of the Hilton Park Lane. A rather fine Bellini cocktail to start...followed up with some lovely Pinot Grigio.
And as to the food...we would have
liked to have this menu...
but instead we went for this one...
...which, truth be told was just gorgeous. Chicken to start and then there was some red mullet for me and some lamb for Pauline. Both were totally scoffed as elegantly as we could muster without picking the plates up and licking them clean!
And then there was pudding - and artistic combination of apples...not too sweet and not too sharp. As Goldilocks would say "just right".
And finally there were some delish petit fours to finish off. The chocolate jellies were sublime. Must investigate how to make them...!
And I did make a total t*t of myself at the stage where the coffee was offered. In my defence (weak, I know) please remember that I'm used to Aberdeen where proper coffee is still a novelty when eating out in a restaurant. They think they're making proper coffee but I beg to differ. It just doesn't match with Italy, Spain or Portugal. There are a few places who do a good job but overall they're the cafes you go to during the day rather than the places you go for an evening meal. Anyway I digress.
So, the waiter asks if we'd like coffee and I respond "do you do espresso?" Not a major gaffe but this is a place with wine waiters for heaven's sake and silver service - something I could still do if pushed after 12 years in the hospitality trade (though it's 8 years since I had to work in it). The waiter did just look at Ms P with a slight grin as I just twigged what I'd said. A bit "doh!" Of course they do espresso and any other decent coffee or tea you could probably think of!
And that's not the end of the food extravaganza. Saturday saw a trip to the Natural History Museum for the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. It was astounding - some fantastic images. Then we tootled off to do a bit of shopping which did entail some trying on of some very posh frocks in Selfridges (thinking ahead for the bridesmaid gig coming up next year). It was fun. Most impressed when the guy guessed my size straight off. Then we wandered down to the ground floor cafe and has some afternoon tea. Totally unnecessary but ever so fine.
I like my food...!
Monday, 30 April 2007
"Well, we knocked the bastard off!"
...and that's pretty much how I feel about this Aran jumper!
As we can see the boy is very pleased with the finished article, design enhancements and all, and has promised to take very good care of it.
It only took around 14 months to complete (with a few detours for other projects on the way when I got sick to the back teeth of it - which happened frequently) which I figured out to be about 200 hours of knitting overall.
If I ever offer to knit another one please shoot me. There were moments when it was a pleasurable experience but I would say that it was done more out of love for a very dear friend who knows how to give exactly the right amount of appreciation for all the care and attention that went into it...and for that I appreciate his response.
It's a well travelled jumper. As a guess I would say it was knitted on Arctic 3, Claymore, Solepit Clipper, Alba FSU, Captain FPSO, Auk, Judy and Norwich Airport. Haven't a clue where it'll go on the back of Mr D but we shall see.
I am never knitting a never bloody Aran jumper again - one is enough in a lifetime...!
Sunday, 8 April 2007
Thursday, 5 April 2007
On my birthday (17th March...thank you for asking!)I tootled off to the Gannet platform to spend a whole weekend doing health checks on the boys. It's one of the more knackering things we do as you have a 45 minute appointment with someone to go over various lifestyle issues and basic measurements (height, weight (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, body composition). Quite draining to tailor your advice and the information to everyone who comes along - especially the ones who come along year on year and still don't make changes based on your recommendations. They just continue to be heavy drinking, smoking, fat bastards! But I generally say that with a bit more tact than that - well depending on how well I've got to know the guys over the last few years. Then you get the guys who do take on board what you say and make changes and you see improvements. Those ones really lift your spirits and remind you why you do what you do.
So I was on Gannet the Saturday until Monday, home Tuesday, away again Wed (to Claymore), back Thursday, home Friday, away back to Gannet on the Saturday, home Monday, presenting onshore on the Wednesday, away to London Wednesday night for a course, back Saturday then back down to Norwich to come out to Clipper on the Wednesday which is where I am now - so I'm blogging from offshore as we speak! I'm due back into the Beach tonight for a night in a hotel before I go back up the road to Aberdeen tomorrow. Not a lot of hanging around!
Somebody did ask what I did offshore (surprised anyone was that interested). For the 3 people who are interested I'm self-employed as a Health & Well-being Consultant. That entails bringing out and delivering health information to guys (as it is mainly guys - like 99.9% of the time) to hopefully prevent them from suffering from lots of nasty diseases before their time is up! It's all about health education and prevention and avoiding having to have treatment and having loads of years of ill-health basically. We do do some onshore stuff as well but most of the work is offshore as, to be honest, the oil companies have the money to spend!
If you'd asked me when I moved to Aberdeen if I would go offshore I would have told to get right out. I found most offshore guys to be right arseholes and obnoxious. I've revised my opinion somewhat since those days. True - you get the odd one or two who are like that but most of them are a really likeable bunch of guys who are just out here doing a job. I've never been outside the British Sector of the North Sea - I have yet to enter the fabled land of the Norweigan Sector where you get lobster for tea...! It does mean that I have learned to enjoy the salubrious surroundings of the heliports at Aberdeen and Norwich and Scatsta Airports though - dead lucky me!
It's so easy to spot the difference between the guys who are going away and those who are heading home. Faces take on a certain hue of resignation and a look of "oh bugger!" when waiting to check-in or for your flight to be called. Survival suits are struggled into, lifejacket straps get all tangled, try not to fall asleep watching the safety brief before getting on the chopper. A total contrast to what happens when they land back onshore. Life jackets are off before you get back inside the terminal building and a survival suit can be whipped off faster than a stripper's knickers!
To be continued...
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
And then last night I finished this rather cute little number - Rusted Root from Zephyr Style in some Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in New Age Teal. I only used under 2 skeins for it so have one left over...got plans for that already. I fancy knitting another one in a different colour - it is just so cute! Me likey...
One may note that I am obviously adding another colour to the spectrum that is Maureen's wardrobe. Not only can I do reds, pinks, browns and oranges but I can do turquoise and green as well!
Monday, 5 March 2007
So...I had a look at my knitting basket/chair/carrier bags/in offshore bag, etc and found all the following. (It is a nice cosy spot isn't it - this chair is so coming with me when I move.)
First we have the over-the-knee sock in the Opal Feelings. This might take a wee while! I've just reached the first decreases at the knee. It is slightly freaky when you have to reach row 240 (or something like that) before you hit the heel - especially when it's on 2.5mm pins and you have a second one to do but...
Secondly we have Flicca. As you can see I ran out of my main orange wool near the end but I kind of knew that was likely anyway so went for the contrast with some Paton's Bella Tape that I had. I'm going to use it to add an edging to the bottom of the coat as well - or pockets might be nice actually! All I have to do on this one is to knit the one edge and sew on the ribbon on the inside to firm it up. I know - just an evening's work at most isn't it. Considering it only took my about a week to knit the rest of it that is a real bit of procrastination. - my favourite talent I possess!
Thirdly - the Aran jumper! This has only been on the go since last February. Hope I get it finished in time for Dennis's 60th birthday in April. If I'd just stuck with this I would have finished it within a couple of months but because it's intricate you really need to the odd week or two away from it every so often. This is the final piece - sleeve number 2. I have reached the stage (quite a while back actually) that I no longer need to look at the pattern to know what needs to be done. Once the pattern is set then it's easy enough to know what needs to be done next. As long as I remember it's rows 5-7 in the middle section that I need to do fancy bits then I'm alright. I ever so slightly over-calculated on the wool requirements so I'm going to have about 7 balls left over which is more than enough for me to make a jumper as well - already spotted a suitable candidate in an older issue of Interweave Knits which will be pretty cute as a cosy jumper that won't look like a naff shapeless Aran.
And now we have the oldest UFO in the basket! This is some gorgeous Kaalund 2 ply in Magnolia that I got at Ally Pally a couple of years ago. It's a 3mm pins job - 2.75mm for the ribbing - which might partly explain the stagnation on this one. It's being knitted up into a cute little short-sleeved t-shirt from a 1940's People's Friend pattern booklet that my Granma gave me years ago (it's the same booklet that I use for my standard baby shawl pattern). It's a lovely pattern but it does seem to be one that involves "counting" and hasn't turned into an intuitive pattern as yet. I'll get there on it, especially as I know it'll be very pretty when I finally make it!
Another feather and fan pattern sneaking in here. This is my North Ronaldsay wool in the two natural colours of cream and dark brown. This stuff is so much softer than it used to be when they first started selling it. This is being made up into a nice retro styled slightly bat-winged (but not too batty) jumper with a roll neck colour. It's a "knit all in one-piece" job so it's going to get a bit big on the needles at some point - and I'm going to run out of wool! But since it's in Orkney I can easily send a friend or family member along to purchase a couple more skeins for me. Not exactly a disaster. I'd really like to get back to this one soon. Reckon it would look cool with a denim mini-skirt and big boots once done.
Nearly there! This is the Swallowtail Shawl in the Handmaiden SeaSilk that just kept speaking to me while it was in the skein. It told me to wind it up, find a pattern to suit and get it on the needles or else it would jump out of my stash box and strangle me in the middle of the night...perhaps not! I'm on the next section of lace where the nupps kick in. Again it involves a wee bit of concentration and there are a few design variations in it (aka "c**k-ups") but they're the sort of ones I can live with. It does feel lovely and will go perfectly with a purty dress I bought a month or so back specifically for the odd wedding and posh do that I occasionally frequent.
And then there was a small accident last week which involved a few cute patterns being downloaded (paid for ones no less - not just freebies) and then falling across the Get Knitted site (as happens on a frequent basis - wonder if they'll ever get round to doing a loyalty card...maybe should suggest it to them!) and then discovering Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in the most gorgeous colour of turquoise - the only type of blue that really suits me...all other types of blue make me look really washed out but if they have a touch of green in them then I'm sorted. The pattern is from Zephyr Style (love their patterns) and as it's an all-in-one, knitted from the top-down, in the round that means minimal sewing up and almost instant wearability once it's finished. Addi Turbos fell into my shopping basket online too (the pattern called for them!) and it's the first time I've actually used them. Call me a late convert!
So that's it...my knitting basket to date. Never mind that a baby shawl and a Clanger need to be knitted pretty damn sharpish for a mate who's due to pop any day soon as well. Oops!
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Full moon...half moon...total eclipse...! Not influenced by adverts in the slightest (you kind of have to be British to get the reference...and love Jaffa Cakes...and have a weird sense of humour).
The eclipse was pretty amazing even if it was slightly cold outside. Nothing that a big fleece, hat and gloves couldn't stave off - plus a few mugs of fruity tea to warn up. Quite a few friends of mine were watching it so we were texting/calling each other back and forth as it went on. One of my friends had spotted a couple of shooting stars earlier on in the night but I wasn't lucky enough to spot them as well. I do think having Pink Floyd on in the background kind of added to the spectacle - especially when "Dark Side of the Moon" kicked in just as totality hit. Dennis had The Waterboys "Whole of the Moon" playing!
It is one of the things that I'll miss when the house sells as it's been a perfect spot for some amazing night sky revelations. Going back into town means more light pollution which we just manage to avoid at this spot. The Northern Lights a couple of years back were just amazing and the best I'd seen since I left Orkney years ago. At least Dennis has the same sort of interest in watching the skies as I do (though a much better knowledge than I have) and lives in a spot on the edge of Aberdeen which is just outwith the light pollution so we've already sorted it that whenever there's going to be anything cool happening then I can go up there to watch it all with him.
If you put the slideshow on at a fastish rate then you can get that same sort of effect as when you used to draw little stick figures on the corner of your jotter and then flick through them dead fast so it got an animated effect. The photos are hardly astronomy quality but I still think they look pretty cool.
So a good day overall - tickets for Rockness, more gardening done in readiness for house sale and a good view of the lunar eclipse.
Sometimes a mellow move through the day is throughly pleasant.
Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Sunday, 25 February 2007
The Invitation –
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
I want to know if you can
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.
© Mountaindreaming, from the book The Invitation published by HarperSanFrancisco, 1999 All rights reserved
Wednesday, 21 February 2007
I got bored. The Handmaiden silk kept winking at me, toying with me, saying "you want to play with me baby..." It was pleading with me to look out a pattern and start to knit. Something delicate and pretty. Not necessarily something that is going to be an everyday wear item. A bit more special than that.
So I started to look to see what I could find. And this seemed like the perfect option. The Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits (Fall 2006). I've already completed 7 repeats of the main lace pattern. It's pretty fast but as only 3 out of the 6 rows in this section are patterned rows it's not exactly difficult. I've actually upped the needle size to 5mm so I can end up with a larger, airier shawl but when one is considering using this as a substitute for a jacket on posh evenings out and one lives in a climate which is wet and not particularly warm then there is a logic hidden in there somewhere.
And now it's time to return to the work stuff - even though I so don't want to. This week I go offshore to present on Respiratory...while I have a stinking cold and so will be coughing and spluttering away in front of the guys. Yeah! Go me!
Monday, 12 February 2007
And then you land on the delight that is Clipper! It might not be the sexiest, newest platform on the block by any means but I will say that it has a really nice bunch of guys onboard who always make a trip there an enjoyable experience. They're chatty, they'll have a laugh with you, and they take the health stuff onboard and love to ask loads of questions - mainly in an attempt to wind me up but it never works...and they know that. It's a bit cramped onboard which made it interesting accommodation-wise when my flight back into the Beach (onshore) got cancelled due to snow (mainly because the rotor blades could ice up - nae nice!) as they had a full POB (personnel onboard) and bugger all space. There was a bit of hot-bedding going on as night shift bounced out and day shift bounced in. Meant the place was busy so I had lots of faces to yap to. I like the place. Most places offshore I like. The environment is strange and can be a bit claustrophobic but the guys make a real effort to compromise and get on with each other and that's what's important.
Must admit, don't think it would work out quite so nicely if alcohol was allowed offshore...!
Sunday, 11 February 2007
This was a freebie pattern from Yarn Forward and used less than one skein of Hipknits silk. Think it took me at least an evening to produce. Haven't had a chance to wear it yet. I see it as more of summery cover-up and we are definitely nowhere near summer here in Aberdeen. It's February - nuff said!
The next wee shrug is from Vogue Knitting and it was a a strange one to to do. The knitting wasn't difficult but trying to figure out how to put the thing together from the diagram was a bit of a "eeh" moment. It made sense once the bits started to go together but it wasn't that intuitive. Not initially anyway. For something so little it's surprisingly warm when it's on.
And we have finally had success with the variegated Karaoke! I used the pattern out of a RYC book with a small alteration to take account of being totally boobless i.e. eliminating about 2inches off the circumference of the body! It worked. And it looks really cute on. Thank hivvens!
Nearly finished Flicca. I just have one front band and the ribbon stabilising bit to do and that's it. It's going to be so cosy and I think it could end up being a bit of slobbing around curled up on the armchair sort of cardi, interspersed with moments of not-quite-cold-enough-for-a-jacket-
but-not-quite-warm-enough-to-go-without-a-woolie type of thing going on. It was finished (up until this point) dead quick like but other stuff has kind of got in the way of finishing it and as our weather is going to be incompatible with wearing this outside the house for at least another 6 weeks I'm not panicking too much as yet!
An over-the-knee sock in progress...the f***ing Aran jumper that I've knitting for the last year (nearly finished the front - only a sleeve to go then)...a couple of books I bought the other day when I got stuck in Norwich waiting for my flight back up to Aberdeen...and some Handmaiden silk that fell into the shopping basket when I was buying the latest Vogue Knitting from Get Knitted. You know how these things happen. They don't mean to but they do!
My credit card has been so hammered lately that it's feeling just a tad poorly. I really need to rein in my spending before it explodes with overuse!
And this is what else has happened when you have a credit card and know how to use it. Maybe there's a little bit of over-compensationary spending going on but it's also part of the preparation for the next bit that's going to be happening. Gotta get the costumes ready for the parade after all. I have also got 3 weddings lined up this year as well so need to look half-decent for those. A nice frock helps...and we all know that I really, really like my nice frocks. Tis an addiction and I seem to be quite unable to stop it. Don't really want to either! Hardly as though I'm in the thousands of pounds worth of debt bracket. A few hundred that is paid off in a couple of months really doesn't count in quite the same way. Now I just need to go out and look purty in them...!
Wednesday, 31 January 2007
I've actually found this quite interesting. It's a nice wee challenge to set yourself to record your day-to-day life. See what you see and figure out what's important to you. Recurring themes for January? The odd creative day followed up with puddycats, knitting and food. Makes me a bit of a sad basket case really...but that's really only the stuff I can show you...!
I seem to be having a total photofest nowadays. I blame my new camera phone. I'm in love with it. I think I want to marry it...!
Just back from the Alba FSU after a 2 day trip. A lovely bunch of boys...boys! Mmm...hardly any of them under 40 but they were fine and laughed at my jokes so I liked them. It was quite calm so just a nice gentle movement to help you get to sleep at night. Poor Looby was feeling seasick just for the wee while that she was sat in the chopper waiting to fly off to the Alba platform just across the way. Thank hivvens it doesn't bother me or I'd be stuffed.
Only nearly barfed twice. Once on the Sedco 711 as I was handing out evaluations at the end of the presentation. I had to do the old "swallow" trick as I didn't want to chuck up in front of 30 guys. It would have totally ruined my street cred! The second time was when I was on Captain FPSO last October in the middle of a Force 12 hurricane. I had to sit down to do the presentations and hold onto the edge of the table as the chairs had castors so still kept moving! Apparently we were being chucked up and down about 30-40 feet with the swell that was going on. The worst thing with the FPSO is that it's anchored around a centre point so not only does she bounce up and down from bow to stern and port to starboard (see that - nautical terms...I is special!) but she also wallows around the centre pipeline that goes out of the ship down to the seabed. Really not pleasant at all. The core crew appeared reasonably impressed that I didn't chuck my guts up. So was I!
Sunday, 28 January 2007
Friday, 26 January 2007
It's like taking those horrible appliqued jumpers that were around in the 80's to another level...and not a good one at that!
If I ever contemplate wearing such a hideous thing please take me out and slap me for having such blip in the taste stakes.
And if anyone out there really thinks this is worth buying...think it might be time to get your eyes tested!