Saturday, 3 June 2017

Under the Sea

Our theme next half term is 'Under the Sea' and I have been busy making a backdrop for the role play area. This area always contains play-dough and cooking stuff etc, but we try to make it match the theme in some ways. Last term it became a castle and this term it will be the ocean. When I sorted out the bedroom a while ago, I moved the wardrobes to clean, and decided to take the backs off of them to make it easier to get behind to hoover without moving them. I kept and washed the corrugated plastic as I thought it might be useful. I only thought I would write the title on there, but in the end have done a whole underwater scene. I painted on the back as I liked the idea of it showing through. As it happens, it looks quite good on both sides. Where it is going the light should shine through. The fish without a face will have a hole cut for the kids to put their faces in. 
 Some other sea things-results of my beach combing on Wednesday. Above shells being washed in the sink. Below, the remains of a chocolate box.
 Little yellow seahorse. He is the only creature I designed myself. The others are from a couple of sea related story books.
 Sea wood. 

 The final result which Andy is kindly holding up.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Blue Sky, Hot Beach, Heavy Stones

Due to not having the report document until yesterday morning, despite many requests, I decided, as I have done all other work apart from reports, that in the name of work I would go to the beach. Our next topic is 'Under the Sea' so I need stones and shells. I wanted stones with holes in, and Dungeness is good for those. I managed to find about 12 good ones and some not so good. I also got other stones as I have found lots of fun, stone related activities on Pinterest.  I went a long way along the beach, not having to worry about hurrying, and it got hotter and hotter. When I turned around to walk back, the beach was shimmering and the car park was far away. My bag of stones was very heavy, and I did have a moment of wondering what I was doing. Anyway, the need for the stones kept me going, and a slow trudge later I was back to the car. Below is how blue it was. It was lovely!

There is a distinct line of big and small stones here, sorted by the tide. Instead of going back the same way, I drove along the coast to Hythe. Another place I have not been. It was interesting and strange-it didn't quite feel real. Maybe I had sun stroke. It is one of the Cinque Ports. I went to have a quick look at the military canal. As I got there some swans and their signets appeared, and did a dance,  and a strange mist came down. I could feel it in the air and see it swirling around. It was on the hill behind the town but not so thick down on the street. It was quite weird. When I left, the satnav took me on a five minute detour up to the back streets, all of which are one car wide, and involve blind bends and steep hill starts. My skills were tested. The houses were pretty and the mist was thick. After it took me back to normal roads it only took an hour to get home on the motorway, much quicker than getting to Dungeness. Some sort of time warp sorcery is going on round there. 
 You can see the mist a little in this picture.
I bought a sandwich to eat before heading back, and sat in my car. I was happily reading my kindle with the windows wide open when I looked up and saw this seagull. He was staring at me and my food very intently. It made me jump and I shut the window pretty quickly, as I didn't want to be part of a scene from 'The Birds'. In Cornwall years ago, a gull swooped down from behind me,  and took a chunk of my pasty and thumb. I don't quite trust them. 
Today, I started to do some work, and then decided to ring my friend from school. We spent a very relaxing few hours in the park near her house, having coffee, strolling, then chatting to a teacher who we bumped into, who used to work at school. She knows lots of people in the park, and we also bumped into a lovely dog walker she knows on the way back to hers, and I had the nicest poochy smooch with her two charges for a little while. It is easy to make dogs fall in love with you, and vice versa! By the time I went home it was about half four! Anyway, it is nine now, and, apart from a trip to the shop, I have worked since I got in, so progress has been made. I am stopping now though as I am falling asleep. 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Cat Jumper

I am not entirely sure if I will wear this outside of the house, but it has been interesting to make, if difficult, as it involved lots of colours of twisty wool. Once I read the helpful hint of  making card bobbins for each of the colours, I got on better. I think I started it sometime in January. It is from an eighties book of cat knitting. I have not made anything this big before, so it is probably teaching me patience or something. I am about a quarter of the way up the back now, which is just two colours so much quicker.  By the time I have finished it, it might be cold enough to wear it!
I was annoyed with myself for the mistake I made in the cream section near the top. I didn't even notice that I had purled the knit row until halfway along the next one. I did attempt to go back, but got in a muddle with all the colours so gave up. Never mind, it will teach me to pay more attention to what I am doing. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Birds, Cassie, and Tiny Houses

This week the blue tits have taken over the garden. The robins have stopped being on the fence the whole time, and lots of tiny, noisy blue tits have been flitting around each morning feeding-from the fennel stalks and the fence. There have also been quite a lot of sparrows. The fat wood pigeons are almost permanent residents on the back fence, and today looked quite sad and puffed up in the rain. 
Cassie's green eyes are shown to advantage in the ivy. She is sitting up there spying on the guinea pigs next door.
 I googled videos for cats and this was the top hit. She was fascinated. It made my computer overheat though and not work properly for some time afterwards! I need to invent a cat sitting tray to put over the keyboard if I do this again.
We went to Lewes the weekend before last. It was lovely. I bought three tiny houses in a charity shop there. I have been painting them on canvas, cutting them out and making a scene. Next I tried to make some clay ones. Not very sophisticated but I am working on them!  The other houses are ones I already had. I seem to have a fascination for tiny houses!

The blue tits are much harder to take a picture of than the robins. They are really flitty. Look at this one's little face though-so cute!
 He caught a grub of some kind. 

 Poor wet pigeons!

Friday, 5 May 2017

One Thousand Beautiful Things

One of the best things about buying old books is the surprise when there is something left inside of them. I have found many such pieces of ephemera over the years. I mean to collect them together, but in the end, have tended to leave them in the book. One of my best finds was in 'Arthur Mee's Book of One Thousand Beautiful Things', a title to grab your attention. It contains poems and pictures, but, best of all, someone used it to press flowers and leaves, naming them in block capitals. I don't know how long they have been in there, but the book is from 1943, so possibly a long time. 
 The colour in this magnolia flower and the yellow rose has lasted well. A number of the leaves are labelled as having come from New Zealand. So maybe Marya, who got the book from her Mummy when she was ten, travelled to New Zealand years later, and used it as a handy press. Perhaps it was her favourite book.

 This is my favourite combination of leaf and page. They just go so well together. 
 And I love the veins in the rose. 
 Talking of beautiful things, my irises are flowering this year. I am so pleased, as I was getting worried that they never would again, as they didn't for the last two years. I think the roots were covered too much and the plants were too congested, so last year I divided a lot of them and moved many, clearing the weeds and other plants around the roots. They need their roots to be baked in the sun in the summer, so I must make sure I do that again this year. I think that possibly once every two years to flower is normal. I love these flowers, and the two colours I have are just gorgeous.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Catch Up

The last couple of months have been quite busy, and I never seem to get time to write on here any more. Also our internet has been playing up for about three weeks now, and I have not used the computer much. We have another engineer booked to come out this week, but at this moment it is working so I will finish this post quickly while I can!
It is just a summary of things we have done since February. 
We went to visit our friends in Holland for part of their Carnival celebrations. I have heard a lot about Carnival over the years as my friend went to it often before she actually lived there. I didn't realise what it was all about before. It has Pagan origins and then religious meaning too, as it was a Spring festival and has become associated with Easter. The Wikipedia article is a good summary. We went on the weekend of the 17th of February for the Prince's Reception. The most exciting thing about this year's Carnival for our friends, is that this year, Roel was the Prince. Each year a Prince is selected from the men who live in the village, and he leads the celebrations. The reception involved each of the neighbouring villages Princes and their adjutants, visiting and paying tribute to the other princes-sometimes through speeches, giving gifts, and some through more ribald means. One group were queueing up for their turn, and one of them was holding a large Lidl bag. When they got to speak to Roel, he chucked the contents of the bag all over the stage and floor of the hall. I thought at first it was rice, and then the smell spread-chopped onions! It was apparently because the village where my friends live is known as an onion village because they grow onions there. It was a fun weekend and a revelation about another country's traditions. I loved every minute of it!
This is Roel in his fancy Prince's outfit, with his little mini prince stick. Like a jester from a medieval court.
The colours of Carnival. 
The hat, and a clay Prince, made by the Prince's Mum. 
The dreaded and long awaited Ofsted came on the14th March. It was one inspector and a shadow who was learning the job. He was there for one day, and didn't come back, which meant that we had done ok. We now have the results and the school has come out as good overall. The relief of not having to wait for that call every day is huge. Now I just have to get my reports done!
The weekend after Ofsted, on the 17th March, we went to the Carey Arms in Devon for the weekend. We stayed in a lovely room-called a beach hut, but like a mini house with the bedroom on a mezzanine floor and a lovely round window to look out from over the sea. It was a relaxing weekend.  

On Sunday morning, before we went to catch the train, we went for a walk up over the hill in the woods, and came out on a lovely cliff and downs, with lots of happy looking dogs and their happy looking walkers. 
Angelica growing on the cliffs.

On the 8th April we went to Leicester for our friend Claire's fiftieth. It was lovely to see people-we don't get together very often but it is always lovely when we do. I took no pictures, as I forgot my big camera, and my phone kept running out of battery. So you will just have to imagine!
I spent the Easter holidays decorating the bathroom, and continuing to clear the house. I got a lot done, but wasn't very sociable. On the Easter weekend, we went to Cologne. Andy wanted to go there, and he would have liked to take a boat trip on the Rhine. The weather wasn't good for that, but we had fun nonetheless. We stayed in a lovely hotel, overlooking the river and the cathedral. The bridge is the Hohenzollen bridge. It is adorned with locks for love. All the way along. We saw someone propose to his girlfriend, after adding balloons. It was a lovely moment, and I did take a photo from a distance, but there was a woman taking photos on her phone who was right in the personal space of the couple. I don't think she knew them, she was just intrusive! 1200 trains cross this bridge every day!

We had sausage and potatoes-a traditional and extremely filling meal, and spent the Saturday visiting two museums and a strange antique shop, where Andy felt a bit pressured into buying a 38 euro wrench, but resisted a field telephone from the war, or the "Adolph Hitler period" as the antique shop owner put it. A lot of Cologne was bombed in the war, so a lot of it is modern looking. The cathedral is amazing, and huge. We enjoyed looking around, but were perplexed at why we went down to the crypt, as there was nothing to look at in there but everyone just shuffled around  looking a bit confused!
I liked how my hippo necklace looked on the fancy glass bedside table.
A fountain outside the cathedral.
Loved the yellow bike and black wall.
One of the more modern looking cathedral windows-reminds me of Elmer the elephant. 
Andy outside the English shop, with a comment on Brexit, which I didn't notice when taking the photo.
We went to an ethnographical museum-the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum. The displays were interesting and beautifully done, and the cafe was good too. Then we went to a design museum called the Museum für Angewandte Kunst(Museum of applied arts) We were in there for ages as it had a lot to look at. Design through the ages, with many beautiful objects, including this angel. 
A Fruh beer man on the corner of a building. 
A long bear on his chair in the crowded antique shop.
On the bridge.
In the evening on Saturday, we walked along the river and found a funfair. I saw these spiral stairs on the way.

The cathedral at sunset.