Sunday 23 December 2018


Monday 5 November 2018

Partial Success.

I have been trying out a new way of posting photos and this one was taken about 4 years ago.  I love the lacy effect that the nibbling insects have created in this dock leaf.

I used this as an experiment to see if I could post photos again but it isn't what I was looking for.  For some reason all the more recent photos which are on my camera don't seem to have been transferred onto the laptop.  All I have to do now is figure out why!

It is very remiss of me not to have posted for so long but I suppose I have nothing interesting to report or show you.  Life has swept me along and kept me busy and I am still plucking up the courage to draw something worthwhile.   What is new?   I am hoping it will be like a boil and suddenly burst and I can shout 'Eureka'!

See you shortly.

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Treasure Trove.

We are fortunate enough to have an excellent charity bookshop here run by volunteers of the Lions Club, and on my way back from my little walk this morning I popped in.  I found a biography of William Morris by Fiona MacCarthy,  'The sea, the sea' by Iris Murdoch and Susan Howatch's 'A question of Integrity'.   That will set me up for quite a while.   The William Morris book weighs almost 2kg and is 5cms thick!   While reading it I shall count it as exercise!

I have been making books again, but in a very different style from the usual ones.  I take pages out of a no longer wanted book but one that has a strong cover, and cover it with fabric before binding  in my own pages.  The first one has turned out to be a sort of scrapbook, holding bits and pieces too precious to throw away, plus odds and end of pictures of a variety of things I particularly like.  It is not complete yet but is already fatter than it should be.

The second one is a sketchbook full of plain white pages just waiting to be coloured and drawn onto.  I found that I had so many sheets of various papers that it seemed a good way of sorting them out and tidying things up a bit.

 My collection of knitting yarns is gradually diminishing and the pile of Twiddle Muffs for dementia patients is steadily growing.   I must get them finished and off to the hospital.

The shower room is complete and looks so nice.  It is lovely to have everything back to normal again.

I am slowing recovering from the glorious summer weather which just about knocked me out.  I have done things like cleaning windows and ironing during the past week, as well as catching up on lost sleep.  Today is overcast but not sticky, thank goodness, and I have just had to close the window as I felt a bit too cool.

I live in hope of getting rid of the 'wont-post-pictures' gremlin which lives in my laptop and am just waiting for my daughter to stop being so busy before I shout for her help.

Spending time reading the blogs of others is no excuse for not making more frequent blog posts myself but the days and weeks just fly by and become months before I know it.  Maybe I wont leave it so long next time.

Saturday 28 July 2018

Oh, the relief!!

I woke up to see puddles in the road this morning and by the time I was eating my breakfast I was listening to another heavy shower.   It is comfortably cool today and by the look of the sky, there will be more lovely rain to come.   Sorry to those who wanted a dry weekend, but I am revelling in it.

The plumber has been working his magic and my shower room is looking good already.  He wont be back until Wednesday as B&Q can't deliver the shower panel until then.  First of all it was left off my original order so I had to phone for one.   I had hoped to order and pay for it over the phone but that wasn't possible, so it meant another trip to do that.  Then just when I thought it was sorted, I was told that the one I had ordered was damaged.  Hence the wait for a replacement.  Luckily the plumber isn't going on holiday until the week after next.

I haven't been out for three days and am looking forward to a walk.  I don't even care if I get wet.  I am definitely not a tropical bloom - just a regular wild flower!   If you are still waiting for some rain I hope yours will arrive soon.

Monday 23 July 2018

Still no pictures.

Today is S-Day.   8.30am and the plumber has just arrived to demolish my shower room and refit it for me.  He is a treasure and answers his phone and turns up when he says he will.  I have been waiting for this day since the end of March, when a plumber I thought I could trust first came to see what needed to be done.  He even went as far as bringing catalogues for me to look through to choose the fittings.  I last saw him toward the end of April when he promised me an estimate after the May bank holiday.   That came and went and I phoned several times but no-one answered, and left messages,  but have not heard from him at all.  My son put me onto this new plumber and I am keeping him a secret - he is too good to share!

I have just learned that the heat is supposed to increase next week.  Where can I hide?  If our heat was not so humid I'd be OK but I wasn't made for these very un-English summers.  The grass everywhere around here is bleached to the colour of hay.   So many times lovely clouds have built up, looking very promising, but they drift by without a drop of rain.   I can't help thinking that farmers and fruit growers will have a bad year this year.

My teddy bears have all been distributed to their new owners as my count of great-grandchildren has risen to 8 this year.   Proud fathers, tired mothers and beautiful babies, and one very happy pair of grandparents as the other two pairs were already grandparents.

Production of the 'twiddle muffs' has been slowed right down owing to the hot weather.  My hands get so sticky,  but I have managed to make a couple of books using a new method of construction.   It does entail murdering a perfectly sound book so some of you may find that a bit much, however I only use those books which no-one wants any more and recycle them.  I have found some very useful tutorials on Pinterest.  I wonder if they offer tutorials on how to cope with these rather extreme conditions.

Friday 22 June 2018

I can't post pictures again.

I have been busy knitting teddy bears for my three new great-grandchildren.  Two have arrived and the third is due next month.  That applies to the teddy bears too!

 I have also been knitting 'twiddle muffs'.  I had never heard of these until one of my grand-daughters asked me if I would like to make some.  She works with dementia patients at a local hospital.
The muffs are decorated with various knitted textures and then buttons, ribbons, beads and any other interesting items are stitched on to provide something for restless fingers to play with.

I have photos of them all ready to post but cannot get them from the camera onto the laptop.  I shall need the help of my daughter again as soon as she has a spare half-hour.

The muffs have been a godsend during the recent humid weather.  My body seems to shut down and I can't concentrate on anything, so a bit of freestyle knitting was a wonderful excuse for sitting with feet up and all the windows open until things got a bit cooler.  Hayfever hasn't helped.

I must go in search of a few bedding plants tomorrow as slugs have eaten all my petunias.  I don't have a garden as such but there is a tiny bit under my kitchen window which needs brightening up in time for the Britain in Bloom judges and I want to do my tiny bit as one of our residents is a keen gardener and has won several awards for her skill.  Our communal garden is lovely and her efforts are much admired and appreciated.

Hope you are all able to enjoy this lovely weather.

Thursday 7 June 2018

First attempts.

The application of matt medium makes the surface more receptive of water colour paint.  I think the paint would bleed without it.    However, it doesn't take the ink from rubber stamp ink pads so I couldn't cheat!

My nice flat tea bags all curled up during the drying process for the medium.  I think this way of working is definitely a case for 'less is more' - keep it simple.

This was done on an ordinary tea bag and my wren is rather overweight.  I didn't want my pencil markings to show and they were very difficult to see against the tea stained bag.  Once I had gone over the lines with the black pen there was no going back.

I will try single layers of tea bag next and have seen them applied to card to make greetings cards.

This is all showing signs of a misspent old age!

Wednesday 6 June 2018

No. I haven't gone mad!

 I bet you can't guess what I have been doing this afternoon.

A few days ago I was nosing around on Pinterest and came upon examples of lovely little pieces of art made on used tea bags!  They looked so delicate and I became very interested.   One kind person even included instructions on how to prepare the bags for use.

So this afternoon, having collected my haul of steeped, dried, emptied and ironed tea bags, I have just given each one a coat of matt medium.  I counted them and there are 85 - do you think that will be enough?!!

I couldn't wait long enough to amass more than half an dozen, so cheated and bought some very cheap herbal ones to get me started.

There is an idea forming for a tiny book featuring all the minute weeds that grow in the grass beside the footpath to the supermarket.  The plants would never be very large if left to grow, but as the grass is regularly cut they become smaller than usual.  Considering the amount of traffic, two nearby roundabouts and a filling station, it is as pleasant as it could be with the first part of the walk through a little stand of silver birch trees and a lovely view over the River Severn to Chepstow.  Further on the path becomes lined on one side by eight or more large lime trees looking their best just now.

I will have to wait for the bags to dry to see what kind of surface they provide.  I will let you know how I get on.   At the moment they are spread all over the dining table, so it's supper on a tray tonight.

Monday 4 June 2018

Monday's post - part 2! Subtitle: If at first you don't succeed .....!

Meet Bubba.  I'm not sure about the name but just look at that lovely little face.  He is not able to be re-homed but is very well looked after by the Dogs' Trust.

This is the cover for the Hare book.  I might try to improve it as the soldering iron hasn't scorched the fabric enough around the edges, and I'd like a bit more definition on the motif itself.   To fiddle, or not to fiddle?   That is the question.

I think this is my favourite page as it reminds me of the leveret we, or rather our labrador, discovered in the paddock behind a house we lived in years ago.  Fortunately the dog was a great softy and just stood looking at the leveret wagging his tail.  I was thrilled to think we had hares breeding in our little field.

I'm quiet pleased with this page and drew it in pen on the reverse of a printed fabric.  Much easier to work on than the silk pages previously shown.

Lastly the running hare.  I don't think his hind quarters are big enough and want to strengthen the colouring of the background and foreground, but am scared of mucking it up.  When in doubt do nowt.

After all my technical struggles I am now going to recline in my reclining chair with a cuppa.

I have found a few more photos!

Not very pleased with this one - they look as if they are dancing, not boxing!

Not so keen on this one either.  The silk was awkward to draw on and the patches of dye were very off-putting.

I apologise if I have duplicated any pictures from my last post.  I have been back and forth through so many photos trying to find all of the hare book pages and Bubba.  There are still several missing so maybe I'll just take them again and hope to find them next time.

I'm having a little break from drawing and am now knitting teddy bears.  I'll post those when they are completed.  I bought loads of wool from a cut price store and have enough to keep me going for ages!

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Partial Success.

The hare book is finished and I took photos of each page and loaded them onto my laptop - or so I thought.  So far I have only found these, and there are 17 in all, counting the cover.  Even these few are in the wrong order and I haven't a clue where the rest are. 
 The one above is a pen sketch on a piece of dyed silk.  

This is on paper with a soft wash of colour on it, which I would have found easier to use without the background colour.   Some crayons worked better than others, but I am learning as I go.

All of the drawings were copied from two books about the hare which are full of wonderful photographs.  The Hare Book by the Hare Preservation Trust and The Hare by Jill Mason.

I did have to resort to partial tracing but on the colour washed background the tracings didn't come out clearly but did help me get the proportions right.

I also have a delightful photo of a dear little dog called Bubba who I have adopted through the Dogs Trust.  I can't have pets in this flat and haven't the energy to take a dog for walks each day, and in any case it would not be practical bearing in mind I have a long carpeted corridor and a flight of stairs, or the lift, to reach a door to the outside for late night (or midnight) canine bodily functions! 
 He is on the camera but not on the laptop, but I'll keep trying to improve the loading of photos and let you meet him another time.

Friday 11 May 2018

Decisions, decisions.

I have made a start on my hare book but, having completed one page, I am bogged down by indecision as to how I should continue.   I would like each page to have it's own identity somehow, but this is probably just over-complicating what is a very simple book.

I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and discovered such a treasure trove of wonderful things that I have completely overloaded my imagination and am drawn in all directions at once.  You can have too much of a good thing!   I think I shall have to put it to one side for a while and focus on something else to allow everything to settle down.

At least I am not rushing headlong into this project as I usually do.  So often I have been disappointed with the result and have thought of ways in which I might have improved the piece had I not been in such a hurry.

A week ago I enjoyed a mug of chilled soup with my lunch - today I was glad to have a mug of hot soup.  You definitely need sleeves today but the cooler temperature made my daily walk easier and more comfortable.  Pros and cons.

Friday 4 May 2018

A delightful visitor.

Just had a visit from my youngest daughter and her husband with their rescue dog.  She, the dog, is a 3 year old Jack Russell who is now known as Boudi - short for Boudicca!  She is a feisty little thing and has been quite badly traumatised from her past experiences but is coming on really well with her new training, though it could be some time before she accepts petting from me.  I know I must be patient but am longing for a cuddle with her.  She has been aggressive in the past and I would hate to cause a set back by trying to stroke her before she is ready.  My daughter and son-in-law have gained her trust and she is totally relaxed with them, and that is the main thing.   The rest of us must wait our turn.

It is gradually getting warmer and I needed help this morning from a kind shopkeeper when I had caught my scarf in the zip of my coat.  It seemed well and truly stuck and I was coming to the boil and desperate to undo it.  So nice to think that it might be allowed to stay in the wardrobe next time I go out.

All the trees are greening up quickly now and I am so pleased to find tiny wild flowers in the grass beside the footpath on my way to the Supermarket.  It makes me feel a little less urbanised.  Sparrows are shouting at each other in all the hedges, the blackbirds are singing their heads off and pigeons are canoodling on the roof tops.  I think we can safely say that spring is here at last, what ever the weather decides to do.

May the Fourth be with you!

Tuesday 24 April 2018


Still no photos, sadly, but at least it is just under the month since my last post.  I always seem to be busy doing something, but most of it just isn't worth posting - even if I could.

I think I am following my usual habit of avoiding actually getting down to work on the project I want to do next.  I need to start drawing hares!  However, I am very nervous of even starting to try.  I have prepared the pages - they are all ready and waiting.  Why am I such a wimp?  Perhaps I am waiting for several kicks in the pants from some of you to make me pull myself together.  Feel free!!

It's very grey and dismal here today after those lovely bright days last week.  Who has stolen our spring?  We want it back please.

I am trying to lose a bit of weight and taking a short walk each day to help things along.  My feet will be very happy when the chiropodist has been later in the week, and walking will be more comfortable.  I have made a good start and stocked up with salad stuff last week when it was so warm.  Maybe I am responsible for the change in the weather.  Sorry.

Sunday 25 March 2018

Two months!

I have already allowed two months to pass since my last post.   The main reason is that I am unable to post photographs and although I enjoy reading books without pictures (!) I like blogs with some.  Either my camera or my laptop are playing unfairly and I just can't make things work.

Spring is still playing hide and seek with us all, though at this precise moment sunshine is streaming in through the window. 

Have any of you been watching Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall's 'Wild West' TV programme.  It is the last episode of the series next week and I have been enthralled by every one.  It has been delightful and so informative.  I am greedy and want more.

I have treated myself to some new living room curtains.  The ones I bought with me were looking decidedly tired.  All I need to do now is get the shower room sorted out, but the plumber is so busy right now.  I don't mind waiting as he is tried and tested and his work is excellent.

My youngest daughter and her husband have taken on a rescue Jack Russell.  They had one before which sadly had to be put down.  Perhaps you remember Poppy.  This little dog has had a bad start and is very nervous and inclined to be aggressive.  They were not told the whole truth by the people they had her from and tried all the advice given to them by the 'experts', which got them nowhere.  In desperation they called in a Dog Whisperer who, after talking about dog behaviour for about two hours before she even met the dog, worked a miracle during the next hour.  I was sitting in on the meeting and was astounded by the results she achieved in such a short space of time.  Daughter and son-in-law are continuing with daily training following the Dog Whisperer's advice and are seeing good results already, in only four days!

I am hoping to start work on my next book which will be a journal of my holiday in Guernsey last autumn.  If I don't tackle it soon I shall have forgotten all about it.  There won't be much, if any, drawing in it as I have plenty of ephemera to be included.  When that is done, my next challenge will be a book of hares - with drawings.   I will need to be really psyched up before starting work on that one.  It is something I have been wanting to do for a few years but just lack the nerve to make a start.   What is that saying about taking the first step?!

Thursday 18 January 2018

I am back in the land of blog.

I am happily settled in my little flat and this is my 'play room'.  I got rid of a lot of books and craft/textile stuff but still seem to have kept a whole roomful!

My living room looking one way.
The same room looking the opposite way.

My tiny kitchen which is so bright and light even on a dull day.  In spite of it's size it has been cleverly planned and has plenty of storage.  There is a fridge freezer just out of shot on the right and the washing machine is on the left.

My creativity seems to have returned - thank goodness.  At one time I wondered if I should get rid of all my craft stuff - so glad I didn't.   Above is the little book I made on one of Frances Pickering's courses which I attended last September.  Two very tiny books with fabric covers are attached top and bottom to the spine.   I was determined that I would draw all the entries myself, and that it would be a book of memories of the garden I enjoyed for 35 years.  I do miss it in some ways but it is an enormous relief not to have the responsibility of it's upkeep.

This pages has a tag which carries a list of all the birds that visited the garden, and a drawing of the 'sparrow cote' - it wasn't big enough to be a dove-cote.
The tag in the pocket on this page has a list of all the creatures that we saw in the garden during the time we lived there.
The colours are not as washed out as they appear here.  I didn't pick the best day to take the photos.  I set myself quite a challenge as some of the pages are fabric and I drew directly onto them.  So what you see is a 'warts and all' version.   I coloured them with Derwent Coloursoft pencils.  The tiny book has a list of all the herbs I used to grow.

I was so pleased to come across these tiny charms to attach to the bottom of some of the pages.  They are just right for this project.

There are more pages to be worked on and a few tweaks to finish it off, but it has opened up my creativity and I hope there will be fresh ideas to be worked on.

I can't believe how much time has elapsed since my last post and certainly won' t leave it so long before the next one.