Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Here is August, all 31 days of it, and how disappointingly wet it has been. I always find looking at my completed month interesting - for example it seems ages ago I had lunch with my friends, and yet it was only last week, but on the other hand only a blink ago I was planning the colour scheme for the page and here is the month complete.

What will be in store for September I wonder. It can be one of the most beautiful months. Don't you just love chilly bright mornings, when the air is crystal clear and every shrub and twig is decorated with a sparkling spider web? 

For my September calendar I have gone a bit 'mad'. I have been sitting at the computer for hours -  more work on setting up my shop. It will be such a relief when it is done. I have been taking photographs of the things I shall be selling.  I even went and cut the grass as an excuse to flex my muscles after sitting about for so long.  I needed to flex my creative muscles as well especially as I have been hand sewing and drawing those little illustrations for my memoirs. When I realized it was the end of the month it gave me an excuse to clear my desk and get out the paints.  I went a bit fauve and built up my autumn scene in orange and mauve - the colours haven't scanned very well. No stamping, no pens, but I did a pit of junk printing and stencil work. What fun, and I definitely felt a bit loosened up (although I could probably do with a few more days of sloshing the paint about). However I didn't want to lose my paint effects when I stuck down the squares for the calendar, so  ...
I scanned one of the pages, desaturated the colour and blurred it a bit with Picasa and printed out a couple of sheets which I cut into 4cm squares. I stuck these down in a slap-dash way and added the numbers and weekdays with a dip-pen. Everything is a bit blotty and smudged, I even started misnumbering the days and had to do a quick cut and paste job. But overall I have ended up with a rather effective page.

It is great to look back at last September's page when I was just staring out on my Art Journal quest. Everything was rather tight and restrained. I was very cautious about expressing myself artistically. I cannot emphasise enough how far I have come, mentally as much as artistically in the last twelve months - and now I am about to set up my own shop. I would say to any of you who feel unsure of your talents, just let go and enjoy yourself - it doesn't matter, it has taken me 60 years to gain the confidence to share something like this sploshy page, and know some of you will like it, but if you don't, it doesn't matter

Monday, 30 August 2010

Still here

I've been really busy over the last few days but wanted to drop in as I have been trying  to keep up on everyone's  posts. I have been working on setting up my etsy shop. I have registered a name and set up a paypal account, and now I am working on my 'blurb'. Then I have to take photographs Those of you who already sell on line have probably have got all of this down to a fine art, but I am great procrastinator and sometimes need to have  a bit of a boot to get me to make decisions. However today I thought I would go to the craft fair at Wrest Park for a bit of research and inspiration.
Wrest Park is one of my favourite local  venues. We used to visit years ago when it was owned by Silsoe College and paid 50p for a magical day in the rather run-down grounds. However it has now been taken over by English Heritage and although the grounds are now better kept, but it costs rather more to get in!

Queueing at the garden gate.

The house is still in use by the college.

The pavilion at the end of the lake, viewed across the croquet lawns.
Entertainment from a string quartet.

The orangery glimpsed through some of the magnificent trees in the park. 
I have lots more photographs of the park here on my flickr site. If you like lovely gardens - Capability Brown designed these - do take a look.

I had a wonderful chat to one lady in particular - Maxine Owen who is a textile designer whose work really inspired me. You can see her work here. I felt very reassured by her style with lots of wild stitching and wonderful fabrics I wanted to rush home and start stitching. She also had some incredible journals and altered books, I could have spent ages there. I did buy a couple of her pieces - I will have to photograph them another time.

I have been doing some myself stitching - I have been working on a couple of zipped purses and a paperback-book cover in patchwork, and I have decided to start stitching on the leaf book cover I started way back.

I am hoping to get the shop going in the next couple of weeks and hopefully some of these will be there.
 I also want to get my September calendar page made - quite honestly I am not sorry to see the end of August - what a washout! 

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Thank goodness for the kitchen sink...

All is back to normal, the washing machine is fixed, there's ironing to be done, it is raining ... again and I am feeling quite bouncy after lunch with friends and I feel very encouraged to get on with my etsy shop. I have just got to choose a name - can't decide on one, and set up Paypal etc. (I think I have said this before). Eventually I will get it together. Meanwhile I have been working on my holiday memories which I share with you again.  Sometimes I get quite emotional when doing these and I do edit the text, but my style is a rather stream of consciousness, written from the heart. If you get fed-up with my prose I hope you enjoy the drawings.

P.S. Are these images too large-they are coming up as acual size on my screen?

Monday, 23 August 2010


I have given myself a good talking to ... and just enjoyed the rain today, and my futile attempts to make some heatproof oven gloves ... and the overflowing laundry basket ... and the letter about the car insurance ... yes I am fine, can't keep in a grumpy mood for long.  And yesterday, (I think Lesley guessed) I wanted to use one of my favourite words - ennui - sometimes that feeling of bored restlessness is good for the creative spirit.

One of the best things to get my creative juices flowing is to collage a page in my journal. I really wanted to do layers, layers, layers, and I did, but I'm sorry to say it looks a bit sad here. 

A photograph would probably do it better justice but the light had gone by the time I had finished and as it is shiny with layers of acrylic wax, flash was not a good idea. Still here is my piece which is all about making sure that we are still creating memories for the future. I know that in my real 'old age' I shall be able to look back at this time in my life as one of my most creative. I don't think this sort of art is my strength, but it is good fun and very therapeutic. I wanted to post this today as everyone is being very kind  about cheering me up and I am fine, thank you all so much.

To finish on a sunny note I will share these photographs I took last year at Collage Lake Nature Reserve near Tring in Hertfordshire, one of those little gems of a spot you could easily miss.
I've only got to look at this Rosebay willowherb and golden rod (or is it ragwort?) to cheer me up.

Nature's herbaceous border

This one has had a tweak on the colour saturation.

This one I took at the same spot the year before

A Four-spotted chaser dragon fly

Sunday, 22 August 2010


I have been feeling really bored and fed up over the last few days - nothing serious, you know the feeling, it seems to strike most people and the  grim weather hasn't helped. Although at the beginning of the summer I knew a holiday was unlikely and was resigned to it, I could really do with a change of scenery at the moment, but that seems unlikely. I have  friends to visit and when I feel happy to leave Mr T overnight and I can look at four different walls.  I was hoping we would both get away in September, but it is filling up with hospital appointments etc. May be in October. Anyway enough of me wallowing in self-pity, it has been a lovely day today, for a change and I have no ironing to do as I am still waiting for the washing machine to be fixed. So I thought I would make a few altered postcards to send to our friends. I have a drawer full of postcards bought from art galleries and exhibitions, some I want to keep, but some have lost their initial appeal, so I have 'up-cycled' them and they hit the post box tomorrow.
Have  great week (I am working on some more memoirs).

Thursday, 19 August 2010

So it goes...

It has been one of those days ... it is always a mistake to lay in bed in the early morning sunshine thinking what you might do when you have the whole day ahead. Do a little gardening ... take a walk in the park... visit a garden centre ... . It all started well, I thought I'd give my planters a feed, even though they'd had plenty of rain and Mr T said he would put some laundry on, all before breakfast.  After a 'bit' of tidying round I had a few more things to add to the wash.
"I've already put it on" he said,
"But it is not going" she said ...
You've been there, you've done that - machine full of water and unwashed clothes, the light's not on and the door won't open.
When I retired I thought I would buy a 'good' washing machine, so it was worth purchasing a good warranty agreement too. But the vendors wanted me to ring the manufacturers to arrange one of their engineers to call, and the manufacturers wanted me to ring the vendors to get the warranty details. I must say everyone was very polite and helpful, but it still took ages to sort, and then I had to take the sopping wet wash to the local launderette, somewhere I haven't had to frequent for many years. I had no idea how much a wash cost these days. I am sure you are getting as bored with this tale as I was with the laundry. No one else seemed to be sitting and waiting for their wash, but I sat and read my book keeping a wary eye on my undies, it must have been an unusual sight as one girl asked if I was the owner.
However I am pleased I bought the shop's guarantee as that covers accidental damages, whereas the manufacturer's doesn't and I've a horrible feeling that the wine-box spillage has gummed up the electricals - we shall see. It will be next Tuesday before anyone can come out. We can manage till then.

But after all that I was in horrible foul mood, and then Mr T wanted me to help him do something on the computer, grrr moan mutter (feeling guilty) - I really should have just gone out, even though the sun had gone. But I have a moment now and I am going to post my next set of memoirs.
I haven't got any more in the pipeline at the moment, but I am working on it, be warned.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Drawing from memory

I am on a roll now and you will have to bear with me. I have pages in my sketch book of little drawings of bits I can remember from my granparents' house and I am using them to illustrate my Norfolk Holidays book. I have decided not to be too precious about it, otherwise I shall agonize over every sentence and drawing, but just to get it all down. I am sharing it with you, but his is a long entry so skip it if you wish, but I hope you enjoy the drawings. The weather is miserable and we are stuck at home, so this is a great way for me to occupy myself. Mr T is making progress, but  we are not 'out of the woods' yet and still having weekly visits from the District Nurse. So here is part two...

If you have managed to read all that, thank you!! It is for my sake really, but I am happy to share.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Memories of Norfolk - Earliest Memories

Inspired by reading Jane of Marigold Jam's wonderful memories of her childhood I thought I would start recording my memories of many summer holidays spent with my Norfolk grandparents. It is something I have wanted to do for many years, so now is a good time to start. When chatting to my sister we always end up having at least one conversation about our times there so I have decided to keep my memories in a journal which I shall illustrate with drawing and photographs. I will share my first chapter with you, and see how it goes, there is a lot more in there.

Thursday, 12 August 2010


Where to begin?

In June I received a lovely package from Amelia at 101 Bird Tales which was principally a guerrilla stitch kit.
I still haven't used it, but of course I had to share it with my sister Janet when she was here this week.  When she reached this page, she took a gasp and said ' look this map is of the Denbigh area!'
I don't know why I hadn't taken this in when I had looked at this page before,  perhaps it was because I was just taken up with the whole thing, but Janet used to live near Denbigh.  We peered more closely to spot names we knew, and there under the wing of the the bird you can see the name Llannefydd. The tiny hamlet where Janet used to live, this gave us a very shuddery feeling.

 Janet's life in Wales is very significant to us. When she got married her husband got a job in the Wirral and they decided to live in North Wales, Martin's job took him all over the place, so the long commute held no worries for him. They found a very large, rather rundown Victorian vicarage in Llannefydd at a bargain price. This was in 1985. Here is a photograph of our first visit there.

That is Janet and Mr T in the doorway.
It was a bit of a drive, but an easy one if you don't mind motorways, and certainly worth it. On a clear day you could see Snowdon in one direction and Blackpool tower in the other. It looked down on Rhyl where the sun was often shining whilst it was rather cloudy up in the mountains. It was never warm, in winter we used to sleep in fleecy joggers and thick socks but this snowy Christmas we spent there was magic.
The view from the back door.

Janet and her husband Martin worked hard on the house, decorating and furnishing it beautifully. Janet became a dab hand at wallpapering and curtain making with a 12 foot drop. I raced up the M1 and the M6 on a very foggy  December weekend when her eldest son was born - the first baby in the family, and then again a couple of years later when my second nephew arrived, this time more thoughtfully in May. But things were to change tragically when Martin was diagnosed with leukaemia and declined very rapidly. Janet left him behind in the churchyard at the bottom of the Vicarage garden. That was in 1997. 
Her boys are now young men of 16 and 18 and she is beginning to get a life beyond motherhood, but you can see why the Llannefydd means so much to us, and why this coincidence is particularly poignant. 

Something else which is also rather 'spooky' is that before she looked at the book Janet was telling me about a walk she took on Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight last Sunday where she watched a pair of peregrine falcons flying along the cliffs - and that bird hovering over the map...well it could be.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

forty-eight hour blog silence in force shortly

My lil' sister is arriving this evening for a brief visit
I have the throat lozengers ready...
see you on Thursday

Monday, 9 August 2010

Try, try again

Every year when the Japanese anemones come into flower I want to capture them on paper. Often my attempts are rather stiff and lifeless so instead of picking a flower to paint I had a little plein air session in the garden today. This is still not quite right, but better than previous attempts.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon and the air was buzzing with hover flies. I was too busy to get the camera set up but I will share these I took last August.

Unfortunately this year my lilies have succumb to lily beetle and the recent heavy rain finished them off ...

...and the eryngium is very disappointing this year...

but there are plenty of these iridescent green flies flitting around.  
There are still a few swifts around, but they will be off soon. Early in the morning there are a dozen or so young blue tits and great tits at the feeders and occasionally a flock of long-tailed tits passes through the garden. It looks as if I shall be spending the summer at home again so it is great to have an eye for an urban safari. 

News for give-away recipients - all gifts are in the post!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Happy to announce ...

... the winners of my Market research give-away

I allotted each commentator a number and then went to The Random Number Generator  here to select 5 numbers. The result are:-

No. 1 A Purse,  to Kate at  thekathrynwheel
No. 2 A Scented Heart, to  Linda at Blu-eyed girl
No. 3 A flower brooch, to Webb at fromthegardenbench
No. 4 A Lotus flower book, to Jane at jeeandme
No. 5 Gift Tags, to Cathy at menopausalmusing

I hope to get them posted off after the weekend if I hear from you (but realise you may be away).  Thank you everyone for your encouraging and useful comments. I am thinking seriously about setting up an etsy shop, but need things to be sorted out here first. However if you are interested in any of the items listed, do contact me via e mail on my profile.
(Mr T is now on his third lot of mega antibiotics, we've still got our fingers crossed.)

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


My give away draw will stop this evening - there is still room for one more! Meanwhile I will share with you my hand made books I made at the Frances Pickering workshop. They are nearly full now.

First J is for ....

Now 'Come into my garden'...

I have a lot of Euphorbia wulfenni, it fills in lots of spaces and always looks elegant. 

The darling buds of May were inspired by ...

clematis montana 'Elizabeth'  that fills the garden with perfume.

You may recognise the pink campion from the previous post.

Can there be any gardens without dandelions?

And finally the daisy, one of my favourite pages, at the moment.