Sunday, 2 August 2020


Three tomato plants that Andy's aunty gave us are turning into giants. I am glad now that I put them into such an enormous pot. I didn't realise they would grow so big. The biggest tomatoes are large marble sized and the smallest aresare than a pea. I used a piece of buddleia pruning from earlier in the year as a support stick. I am happy with my tomatoes!

Saturday, 1 August 2020

A Bit of Gardening and Chacha's Birthday

Our garden is a mess but I am finally beginning to sort it out. I always leave it too long, then have loads to do, but would rather be able to do a little each week to maintain it. I have loads of things to clear still since before the lockdown, and I am only allowed one visit to the recycling centre per month. I take garden cuttings there as well as other things, so at the moment I have lots of bags, and some furniture ready to go. One of the pieces is a large footstool that I got on the street, mainly for the brass casters. It made a good seat for a while outside but needs to go. I could not unscrew the casters at the time, so I sawed them off the other day. There is the outside of some drawers I don't like, though I have kept the drawers as they make good temporary bookshelves. There are various metal things I found, but didn't do anything with, and some old enamel teapots I kept for years, in the hope of making a teapot tree like one I saw in France once. It's never going to happen! And at least the are recycle-able. So today was mainly putting the tip stuff in one place, sweeping, tidying, and putting all the flower pots up the top to have a wash. I did a little weeding and chopping, and picked up cat poo and fox rubbish. They bring in all sorts of unsavoury things, like old nappies, then put them under plants where they are hard to reach. I wore gloves for that job!
The year before last I bought a passion flower, and it died after not too long. So last year I got another one, and planted it in the ground rather than a pot. I forgot about it, until it started flowering recently. I didn't realise it was a white one, as the others I have had before were purple, but I love it nonetheless. I remember I saw my first one when I was living in Leicester, and couldn't believe how intricate and layered the flowers are. It is called  Passion Flower as the different parts are supposed to represent the passion of Christ.
Below is taken from Wikipedia,

I was moving the legless stool when I noticed this chrysalis underneath it. I cut it and have hung it in the buddleia. I was amazed that there are shiny gold areas on it. Really golden and metallic looking. I have not tried to find out about this yet, but I will. (Just looked. I think it is a red admiral. The gold parts are for oxygen to enter. When I looked on google images, there are some beautiful ones, some all gold. Just amazing!
 As I was collecting pots from around the garden, I found this snail hotel. It is broken so needs to go. I took all the snails off and put them under the buddleia at the end of the garden. I have not got the sort of garden where snails can do much harm. The plants there are don't seem affected. I had dahlias for a while and they were a different story. Decimated overnight! There were also some pots I had to leave as I couldn't bear to make the spiders living in them homeless. One I turned over was full of webs, and three egg balls-white web things where I know the babies are. I watched the spider going round checking the web and all the egg things, then turned the pot back over. I can do without it!
Chacha had his first birthday today. He has been looked after by me for a third of his life! Andy came round, and we sang to him which he quite liked, and gave him a special tuna dinner which he really liked. I took my big camera, and this is the best picture. He was a bit perturbed by the camera, hence the really wide eyes. I only have three more visits with him. I am glad he won't be lonely anymore, but I will really miss him. He has been such a little sweetie!

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Views From Queues

A missed turning led me past posters that I liked in New Cross. (Stationary in traffic when taking 
pictures) Intermission from life? More like a channel change/new programme.
I like the three above. Especially 'Don't be an arsehole. 'What I don't like is new blogger. This is the first post I have done since it changed. It is highlighting my writing in blue and underlining. No idea why. I just don't understand why there is this need to change things which work perfectly and are easy to use. This is now reminding me of Microsoft Publisher which I can't stand, or in fact use. It moves things around with no predictability. I can't underline it. Oh well.  It is still underlined on here, but not on the blog. Weird. It is a link to the above photo. Don't know how it happened. 

Buy one pizza, get one free. That's too much pizza for me. I didn't notice that though as the grafitti saying 'No Fascists in Deptford' caught my eye. 

Kites over Blackheath. (In the next queue)
Stern face. (In a queue to the charity shop at temporary traffic lights where I sat for about ten minutes.)Then the charity shop was shut. I was donating, so took the bags home again. 

Sunday, 26 July 2020

£7 Bunny and Getting Things Done

I have been keeping busy when I can summon the energy, doing a list of jobs that I have meant to do for ages. I approach jobs in two ways. One, with lists, and two with areas to tackle. I am very bad at estimating the actual time a job will take me, so often leave them un-ticked, or transferred to the next day. The areas tackled this week include the top of the kitchen cupboards, the food cupboard and basket, my little painting/craft desk, the bear chair and doll bed, and the kitchen windowsill/plants/sink area. The top of the kitchen cupboards house, among other things, 11 decanters, a collection of apothecary jars, a collection of cabbage pottery, a musical cake plate, vases and three different examples of aniseed liqueur jugs. The decanters are Andy's, (except two) as are the jars-both from his family. The jugs are Andy's too. The vases are mine. I got rid of  a massive glass vase, a glass cake stand, some dessert bowls, wine and brandy glasses. The kitchen windowsill now contains far fewer things, as a few of the plants were beyond saving. I re-potted a couple, and the end of the windowsill contains pretty glass things that the sun will shine through. Today I dusted and polished the small collection of lovely wooden things in the hall. A couple of days ago I also got rid of some old sunflowers that were there, so I could put the re-potted dragon tree there. I am not sure if I should cut it off and plant those bits, and let it re-sprout, as it has got very tall. I need to investigate if you can actually do that. The reason for all the tidying is mainly because I keep bringing things home from Mum's and need to make room. It is also with a view to finally getting the sitting room floor done and the bedroom finished. I decorated it last year, but was interrupted at the end by an electricity problem which meant taking up the floor in the sitting room. As we (I) have far too much stuff, that was not a simple task. I discovered wooden floorboards under the horrid laminate, and want to sand and varnish them. But that has not happened yet. It will be quite difficult as it involves moving large furniture to the kitchen, but the more clearing of small stuff I can do, the easier it will be. 
 The ceramic mushrooms were a gift from a friend who I am no longer friends with. But I like them so they are staying. The cat was in the garden before but I thought he should have a new home.
 The glass bowl was on the way to the charity shop, but I decided to use it to contain bottles, instead of the plastic tray I had there before.
The large sunflower head has gone. I liked it but it had been there since the year before last so time to go. My reward for doing/finishing jobs is to carry on with making something. I can't knit at the moment, which I am finding very difficult, as I have hurt my left wrist, and I am pretty sure it is because of knitting. That is the hand that just holds the needle and doesn't do much, but I think I grip it too tightly. I have done a tiny bit since last week, but the pain just comes straight back. So this week I have been painting this bunny. He was from a good charity shop in Welling whch mainly has vintage things. I think bunny was the last thing I bought from there before lock down. I bought a bear from there a while ago, at the reasonable price of £5, all the more reasonable as he makes a noise when you turn him upside down and back again. More of a baa than a growl but still fun. He is called Welling. (My imagination wins again!) Bunny was there for a while before I decided to rescue him. £7 seemed slightly overpriced, but I have grown to love him. I love his colours. When I first started to paint him, I did his fur a kind of creamy yellow. Then when I moved him to the desk with more light, I decided that he was more of a dirty grey, so he had another layer. I have been using acrylic inkns, with gel medium added to them. (Thanks Linda Sue!) I intended to delicately sew over the seemingly drawn on features, but I have not finally decided. 

Off to make my list for this week now!

Friday, 24 July 2020

Stuck in the Mud

Ages go I got told off by a man watching me on the foreshore when I nearly got stuck in the mud. It stayed in my mind when I was planning another mud larking doll. She kind of developed as she went along. At first all I wanted to do was use half a broken bottle to make something. It had a good shape and colour. The doll is just a head and wired rope limbs. She ended up like this as her hands became a pair of earrings inspired by Frida Kahlo. Not sure what happened to her feet! I was going to make a doll on the theme of drinking as the bottle says 'LIQUOR BOTTLE SCOTLAND' on the base. I used wax to make the edges less sharp, and also thought I could stand the doll in it as she only has wire for feet. Then, as I was playing around with her to see if she would stick, the second idea occurred to me. The wax was like mud. I tried colouring some but that looked horrible so I didn't use it. I had already had a search for the bottle with no luck, but had come across information about sailors making macrame covers for whiskey bottles. I used this idea to make her shawl, using a very simple macrame pattern I learnt. Her black dress is made from a piece of oilcloth I found at Dungeness a long time ago, which was the perfect surface to write the quote from the man on the path. Her hair is made from the same cotton yarn as the macrame. She is wearing a St.Christopher pendant I found lying around as it seemed a good idea just in case. The wire M, and that around her neck is also from the foreshore.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Improbable Events

I had to take Lily to the vet's today for her regular blood test. I was washing my hands before I left, and dropped the bar of soap into the sink. It landed on its end and stayed there. A very thin end, in a sloping sink with the tap running. The unlikely nature of this brought back a memory from years ago, not long after I started teaching. I had a reception class with children of 4 and 5. This class was one of my favourite ever. There were so many funny personalities, and, considering I have been teaching for 26 years, and have had a lot of classes, I remember a lot about this one.

Any Reception teacher will tell you that the hardest parts of a P.E. lesson are the beginning and the end, when the children are getting changed. Some of them have never got themselves dressed or undressed before, and my job is to help them achieve independence in this area. Over the years I have developed almost foolproof systems for doing this, mainly by watching very capable teaching assistants and nursery nurses, but at that time my systems were not developed, and I was on my own, so 30 small people with kits on within 15 minutes was an achievement.

On the particular day I remember, they had got changed, and were lined up to go into the hall. We were just next to it so no problem. I stayed at the back of the line, and put George in charge at the front. George liked to be in charge. He was quite good at it. He was part of a double act with his friend P.J.. George had glasses, with quite a strong prescription, and had to put a temporary patch behind one lens each afternoon, to strengthen the other eye. P.J. had a kidney problem, which meant he had to go to the toilet a lot, and drink lots of water. Unusually for that time, he had his own bottle of water with him all the time. These additional needs may have been labelled that by the profession and me, but to George and P.J. they were not additional at all. They were the main feature, and as such, needed a lot of maintenance and meant that other matters may not be quite as interesting as I hoped. What was so sweet about them, was how they used to help each other to sort out the water/patch situation, and were pretty independent about it. (Small children's independence is a great thing, and I obviously aim to promote and build this, but it takes time, and sometimes time is what you don't have as much of as you would like!)
Anyway, we were lined up, and I had laid out large plastic hoops on the floor for them to sit in at the beginning of the lesson. George and P.J. went in, and within seconds, George was out again, bustling down the line to me, saying,  "Miss Wallis, Miss Wallis, P.J.s pooed on a hoop!"

The line came to a halt, and I went to the front to check out this improbable story. On the second hoop from the door, there sat, perfectly balanced, a small egg shaped poo. Balanced. On end. On the rounded surface of a plastic hoop that was about one centimetre across. How?! And how did he do it that quickly?!

So, our lesson was condensed to getting undressed and dressed, witnessing a miracle, then getting undressed and dressed again. You may wonder why we couldn't do the lesson, but things like poo and vomit require the services of your friendly premises manager-just in case of diseases, and it is not always easy to get hold of them in the day.

So, thank you P.J. and George, for still making me laugh 23 years later!

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Pandemic Journal

I always have a journal/sketchbook on the go. I use a variety of books, sometimes gessoed old books, usually about A5 size, and of varying quality. As long as I can draw, paint, stick and write it doesn't matter too much. I always decorate the cover in some way. This one is a bit basic, and was trying to be optimistic in light of the world with the word happy. Then Mum died and I changed it to not now. 
I didn't set out to make a pandemic journal, but that is the main subject as that is what was happening. There is nothing profound, just doodles and things that were on my mind. 
Some things always end up loose in the back, waiting to be stuck in. There are not many in this book.
This was given to me by one of the girls in the class I had during the last week of school in March.

 I always write the month and an arrow, filling in the final month when it is finished. Already Corona virus was on the news all the time, and the rainbow was being used as a symbol of the NHS. Hence the childish doodle on the left.
This is when I was trying really hard not to be scared of what was happening, but not doing very well. Little did I know the great personal cost the virus would have for me and my family. I made the crocheted virus as a way to focus on something while watching the increasingly disturbing news. This is my blog post printed out. I don't normally do that, but I had already written what I wanted to say so thought it easier.
This flier and advert had been hanging around the house for a while. I think I stuck them in the week McDonald's shut.
This was a very long book which took up a lot of the first few weeks of lockdown. I really enjoyed it. There was so much interesting detail that painted a picture of life then. It was a book I bought for the cover and dust-jacket, so I am glad I read it!
Doll plan based on a bottle part I found on the foreshore. It says 'Liquor Bottle Scotland ' on the bottom and I was going to do something about liquor. But then when I was searching in vain for a similar bottle, I also searched for sailors and liquor because of the Thames. What I found was information about sailors making macrame covers for liquor bottles. That led me down another path and the doll changed. I still used the bottle though!
This page also includes my workings out for how long the stripey blanket took me to complete. 11 days!
 Page above-relating to the PPE shortages at first here. Page below, doodles and one of Mum's stories during one of our phone-calls.

 Self-explanatory page about tasty but dangerous noodles. 
 Using up paints. 
I was on the way out to feed Chacha one day, when an oldish man spoke to me just outside my house. He asked if I had a couple of pounds as he was going to the shop because he had run out of food. I know people try it on but there was something about him that made me talk to him. He was waiting for his pension, had run out of food and was hungry. I didn't have any money to give him, but I went back indoors and got him a few basics from the house. Some eggs, cheese, milk, tuna, bread, beans and coffee. When I got back outside, a woman and her daughter from just up the road were helping him up. He had tried to push his walking frame onto the pavement and fallen down. Once he was up I gave him the food. He put it into the handy under seat storage in his walker, and carried on chatting, telling me that he was a poet and had written a lot of poems. He said he had refused a lucrative publishing deal once upon a time, as they were not offering him enough money. Not sure if I believed that. Then he proceeded to make up a poem about me and Andy (who had come out to see what was going on). Then he kissed me on the hand! (I know-but I couldn't stop him. Hopefully no germs went either way) 
One of the long receipts from the early days of lock-down shopping. The panic went after about four weeks, and they pushed the hand scanners onto customers as much as possible which I love as it is so much quicker and efficient. We also got onto the delivery service so everything is much easier now.
For school we all had to paint one word of a quote to share with the kids. It was put together by one of the teachers and was lovely.
 I often save pictures of dolls from eBay. Maybe because they are pretty, and sometimes because they are so badly photographed it is comical. Often because I am not going to buy them but like them. Sometimes because of the clothes. These two were of the not buy but like category-both far too expensive.
Weird face and doll plan. Not made this one yet, but have the piece of leather. It is inspired by the shoe doll in the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh. It is a very sweet toy, which makes me sad but in a good way.
And then my Mum died. So now this journal is where I write my daily note to Mum. Today is day 53 which seems hard to believe. It doesn't seem like that. I didn't finish painting this page or make a very good job of it as I couldn't. Things are a little easier now, but I think I just don't let myself think about things too much. If I have to tell people who don't know then I get upset. I gave myself a week off going to Mum's house last week but went down yesterday and sorted out most of her clothes. I couldn't do that a few weeks ago but it was ok. I have three bags in my car for the charity shop, threw some away and kept a few things. She wouldn't mind and they are nice and I will wear them and think of her. I also had a look in the loft, and found some old stuff of mine, including three or four jars of beads, broken earrings and other small things. Just like jars I have now. I don't change, but I think I can.
I have now started a new journal, and am keeping this one for writing. I did  a few emotional pictures just on paper. This is a quote from Mum's funeral service, which was taken by a lovely woman called Helen. She was so kind and calm and warm. I don't think I could do that job, in the face of bereaved people's emotions.
 This phrase was in my head all the time once I thought of it. Language is a funny thing. 
The face is of a sad person, not a gang member! It just struck me that the tears look tattooed. Though perhaps she is in the corona gang.