Thursday 31 December 2015



Thursday 24 December 2015

Is it really Christmas?

It doesn't feel a bit Christmassy to me, but I've done this ............
and this ....... (My daughter made me the felted crow in the twigs)
and this ..........
and this ........... 
as well as this, to get into the mood.   I prefer the garland to go round the bannister rail but when you are old codgers - as we are - you need the rail to hold onto.

I took these photos at 9 o'clock this morning.  It was so dark and gloomy I needed the light on for some.
It's a bit brighter now and not raining for the moment, but we had a torrential shower not long ago and everywhere is once again sodden.   I keep seeing wonderful pictures in magazines of seedheads, etc., sparkling with frost.  Ha!  No chance.  We do have a cherry tree almost in full bloom, polyanthus and buttercup in flower.   I have seen daisies in lawns, primroses, daffodils and all sorts of things that shouldn't be awake yet.  I hope there will be some daffs for Easter and with the lack of frost I wonder if we will get any crocus or snowdrops this year.  The snowdrops are usually the first to poke their leaves out of the soil but there is no sign of them yet.  Magazine editors will have to restructure their contents if this weird weather continues.

Whatever the weather I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.   Keep safe and well.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Long time - no see!

I thought it was high time I posted again.  As you see, here is our hall looking lovely and bright even on a dull and dreary November day.  The only trouble is that I  now notice all the others area that would benefit from being redecorated.  We must be a mucky pair.

I couldn't believe my eyes this morning when I noticed this little spray of cherry blossom on our tree.  I apologise for the blurred photo but it was wet and windy at the time I took it.

Has anyone seen the dog!!  She will stay down there until she gets too hot and can't bear it any longer.  Just after I took this photo that little hump started moving up and down and I could hear her panting.  Eventually she staggered out from under the bedclothes.  I know some of you will be horrified by this but I do change the sheets when she has gone home and she is so very cuddly.
 Please don't notice the junk on my husband's chest of drawers.  I tidy it at my peril.

I am at last beginning to feel more alive, thanks to a wonderful physiotherapist.   She diagnosed the problem with my left knee some months ago, then progress was halted by a heel spur on my right foot.  By the time that was sorted my legs had become so lazy and walking was jolly hard work and not enjoyable at all.  I then became more and more lethargic and so tired all day long, in spite of sleeping well.   I went back to the physio and she has given me an exercise programme, some of which are quite tough so I know they are hitting the right spots.   I do them every morning before I get dressed.  I have also got back to a daily walk each afternoon and that can be hard work according to how much housework, etc., I have done during the morning.  Progress will be slow I think, but at least I am on the way to regaining a modicum of fitness and getting various tasks done each day.

I hope the weather soon dries out a bit as there are magnificent buttercups just waiting to take over several parts of the garden, as well as healthy looking plants of various other thugs I thought I had got rid of earlier in the year.  Sadly the soil is rather like thick porridge and it's pouring with rain as I write this.

I hope I manage another post before Christmas!

Monday 26 October 2015

The end is in sight.

We are having our hall, stairs and landing redecorated and have been living in what resembles the back room of a badly organised charity shop for a couple of weeks.   The chair hides goodness knows how many carrier bags of books from the shelves under the stairs.   I have spent this afternoon dusting them all and putting them back.  In the far corner is a pile of coats from the pegs round the corner at the bottom of the stairs. (see pic below, now full of tools)   I had no idea our hall housed so much stuff.  

The decorator's glory hole.  I must say, he is a very tidy worker and cleans up after himself as he goes.   But then he is my son-in-law so probably feels obliged to do so!

 There is still some final gloss painting to be done so our sad front door should soon be looking very much smarter.  Note the thick layer of dust on the little table.  Even though Bob very kindly kept all doors closed while he was sanding down the woodwork, it seeped into everywhere.  I didn't clear it up straight away as I knew there would be more to come, so wrote his name in it, all over the house!

It has taken a bit longer than anticipated as he had to fit our job around other work, but we don't mind as it is so nice to have work being done by someone we know and like.   You think to yourself  'it's only the hall and stairs', completely forgetting how many doors and door frames that includes, not to mention bannisters, etc.   There is far more work than the average room.  We should be home and dry by the end of the week and I'm sure I'll put my hand on the bannister rail before it's dry.

We went to a grandson's wedding on Saturday which was held in a beautiful old Cotswold hotel.  It was so nice to meet up with people we don't see very often, and to meet others we are just getting to know, not to mention the joy of so many of our own family coming together.  It was a truly lovely occasion.  Needless to say I forgot to take my camera!   Just about everyone else seemed to be snapping away so I'm bound to end up with one or two photos eventually.

We have been enjoying such lovely weather for some time now and I feel like a child again walking through crisp fallen leaves and trying not to scuffle!

As soon as the hall is back to normal I must turn my attention to the garden.  There is so much I want to do out there before the weather gets too cold and wet.  I am determined to get it in hand before winter sets in - it will make it more manageable next year.   What is it the naughty athletes take to help them come first?  I could do with some to help me get the garden into shape.

Saturday 3 October 2015

In search of tranquility!

We have our little friend with us for the weekend, and there is so much noise and tension in the living room that we have come up for a little peace and quiet.   Husband is watching the rugby and will not be a happy man with the halftime score.  Maybe we'll get a miracle in the second half.

The weather has been glorious this week and there is still so much colour in the garden.   I usually find it difficult to get it to carry through to autumn but this year has been lovely.  The next four pics are down to free packets of seed given with gardening magazines which I bought last spring.  There were several other plants who have already done their stuff and died off.
I must grow zinnias again - I had no idea they were so easy.

The cosmos look as if they could keep going until Christmas but I daresay a frost will see them off.

These nasturtiums were supposed to be the bushy variety but several of them have wandered a good 7 or 8 feet from where they were planted.  I am hoping they will have seeded themselves for next year as they brighten up the end of the garden.

It's a good job this is a crab apple tree.  If those were full size fruits I think the branches would have snapped under their weight.  I shall leave them for the birds as we are supposed to have a hard winter this year.

The bees love this clematis and there were dozens of them among the flowers.  I love the silky tassels too.

A gift from the birds which will provide more food for them later.  A seed must have dropped from the holder above where this little sunflower has germinated.

I have finished the last few pages of my 1920s book.  Clarice Cliff pottery above and ladies of fashion below.
The one on the left looks a bit deformed and as if she has bad feet!    In my defence I must tell you I was trying to copy them from images not much bigger than a postage stamp and find it extremely difficult to draw figures but I was determined to have a go.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I have added the chair, picture and dressing table to this double page.

And finished this one with the mirror and little cabinet and lamp.  I must keep drawing so that I improve.  For this book I had to draw everything on paper with much rubbing out until I got it to an acceptable state, then I traced it onto the fabric page and added colour with pencils.  How nice to have the skill and confidence of going straight onto the page without all that messing about first.

Make the most of tomorrow's fine weather,  I believe it will be all change on Monday and for next week in general.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Work in Progress.

This is as far as I have got with the book I started making on Frances Pickering's workshop at the beginning of the month.  Our theme was the 1920s.   Front cover above and back cover below.
There is still quite a lot of tweaking and finishing to be done.

I am a slow worker on workshops so cheated and traced these first few designs, especially as I am way out of my comfort zone drawing the human figure - as you can see below!   

Some made a book full of shoe or hat designs, others concentrated on architecture, but I decided to go for a bit of everything.  I came across this rubber stamp and thought she was perfect for 'Poor Little Rich Girl'.   I tried to transfer the photocopy of Noel Coward directly onto fabric but it was not a success, so I just used another photocopy and bonded it to the page.

These are pictures from the General Strike of 1926.  My mother worked in London then and travelled to and from by train.   She remembered the volunteer train drivers regularly overshooting the platform and having to reverse so the passengers could get on and off the train.

A little 'flapper' dress.  I have tried to suggest a 1920s bedroom wallpaper with my chosen fabrics and may add a couple more elements to finish the page off.   The dress folds either way and you see the back of it when it is folded to the left.
I still have a lot more drawing to do as well as finishing off the pages I have already started.  I now wish I had tea dyed the fabric first - I'm sure it will be very grubby by the time I have finished, especially the cover.
I looked up from washing up the lunch things the other day and saw no less than 7 longtailed tits on the fatball feeder.   Needless to say, by the time I had fetched the camera most of them had gone and as you see here, a bluetit has joined in.   There must have been 10 or 12 long tailed tits altogether as several were just hopping about in the honeysuckle above them.   The bluetits are adorable but slightly bossy and when a crowd of them arrived the longtailed tits all went.

Monday 7 September 2015

Too Many Photos!

I have just enjoyed a wonderful weekend Masterclass with Frances Pickering at Hawkwood College, just outside Stroud, Gloucestershire.  It has an atmosphere of faded grandeur and tranquility so the visitor can't help but relax.  The rooms are very comfortable and the food is excellent.  I think most of it is grown or produced on site and the chef(s) really know their business.  We were all talking of dieting this week!
The views from the house are stunning - my photos were taken on my pre-breakfast walk on Sunday morning.
It was a perfect morning. . . . .
. . . . and someone else was up even earlier than I.

I think some of the sheep wanted a lie-in.

The cows were up,
but one lazy pig was still in bed.

In spite of the warm sun there was definitely a feeling of autumn just around the corner.

This lovely lace cap hydrangea was beside the path.

There were twenty of us in the studio which is a perfect place to work in - so light, airy and spacious. Hanging in one window was this delightful piece of stained glass work.  Unfortunately I didn't think to find out who had made it.

Frances gave me permission to take photos of her own work.  Our theme for this workshop was Art Deco or the Roaring Twenties.

Then I went on to photograph some of my fellow students work.

It was fascinating to see the variations in interpretation of our given theme.  I was so busy myself I only had time to photograph about half a dozen student's work and haven't photographed my own yet.  They will have to wait for another post.   This was my third visit and I have signed up for next year and hope that the friends I made this year will be there next September.