Sunday, 1 March 2015


Over the last few weeks I have been busy making things for a variety of reasons. The first is Golden Time on a Friday afternoon. We made pompoms, my intention being they would make their pompoms then make something out of them. Making the pompoms was more challenging than I had thought-lots of tangled wool and help needed. I decided to make a load so they could have extra ones to make something with. Making pompoms is one of my least favourite craft activities. boring and repetitive. Especially when I need to make loads. Using them to make other things is much more fun.I did a few sample things, and this acorn lady was one of them. Her hair is the result of a pompom gone wrong. Her skirt is two pompoms squashed together. The original idea is from pinterest.
The butterfly and caterpillar are puppets for the groups at nursery, to make it slightly more exciting lining up for group time. I appliqued the butterfly. A stick fits in the back of its body so it can be made to fly. 
Pompoms were the obvious choice for the caterpillar!
 He has a cardboard tube as a hanger-finished with a shimmery wax and buttons. 
Arty Party had a space theme this time and the kids made some great things as usual. Below is a selection of one person's work, including the astronaut she made to go on her orrery. I helped by making his black helmet glass (a small piece of black tissue paper) and showing her how to fix him onto the sun.
This is the aftermath of Golden Time! I took my hot glue gun in to enable the kids to finish stuff then take it home. I think they liked that best. They all made good things, including two cats and a ballet dancer.
My latest obsession. I happened to see a thing on Create and Craft TV about Indian Bead Looms. I have not heard of these before, though I can't understand why. I ordered one as they are only £6.99. If you want a craft where the results look as if it was very difficult to make, but was in fact totally simple, then this is the one for you! The most time consuming part is the initial stringing up of the loom, then the process of making the results into something neatly. I have made a bracelet for me, one for Andy, and a pair of earrings. This was a strip to try patterns and is not anything yet.
 These are the earrings before finishing. 
This is my bracelet. 
Hopefully this week will be good. Hope yours is too!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Weekend in the Country

We went to stay with our friend Phil in Northumberland this weekend. He took us to as many beautiful places as it was possible to fit in, fed us delicious food and took us to the pub where we met a very interesting collection of local people. Below are some of the places we saw. 
This is part of the woods he works in. We had just climbed up a very steep bank, (I nearly didn't manage it!) and the sun came out, shining through the snow and trees.
 There is the greenest moss everywhere. 
 This little house is called 'Seldom Seen', as it is hidden out of view of the road. 
 A rabbit skull from near the river in the woods. 
 On Saturday we were joined by another friend Lynne, and set off for a tour of the area. This was the first place we visited. It is called Ashgill. I was so happy to visit a waterfall that you can actually walk behind! I have always wanted to do that. It made me thirsty standing behind all that fresh water.
Some of the photos are Phil's-the ones I am in! 
 As we were driving over the fells, we saw these men in the distance. They were carrying huge birds of prey.
We stopped and were watching them, and the man below came over to talk to us. They take the birds out hunting rabbits. They are Golden Eagles, His is a female from the Czech Republic. As he talked it eyed us in the car, possibly wondering if we were edible. It was a beautiful bird. He said that there were not many rabbits to be had. He also told us they have to be careful as the eagles will take small creatures such as dogs. he also said that he has to watch out for the other eagles as they will attack each other. He then said his didn't do that though, as she was 'a pussy cat'! While he was talking I noticed he did have one rabbit in his pouch. He has an arm brace to enable him to carry the eagle. He said that at the moment she weighs about nine pounds but in the summer that will go up to about twelve.

This photo is Phil's. Look at that face!
Next we went for a walk by a beautiful river and an abandoned lead mine called Low Slitt. It started to really snow while we were there. We were all very cold at this point and the snowy wind was whipping in our faces.

On the way back I found this tiny dead vole. Phil has a frozen mole in the freezer which he said I could have, but I forgot to take it with me. I hope he keeps it for me! It is the most amazing little thing with such soft fur.
 Everywhere we went were incredible views. When we stopped here I went to the wall to take a picture and spooked this sheep. He ran at first but then stopped and gave me a bad look before walking off into the sun.
Snowy sun or sunny snow.
 This sign has been here for quite some time I would say!
The last place we visited was an abandoned fluorspar mine called Groverake. (Video of it in 1998 when it was still working although it closed shortly afterwards) I love these sort of places-abandoned industrial and atmospheric. I would not have visited it on my own as it is a classic nasty horror film setting! There was a man there taking photos. He was only wearing a thin jacket and t-shirt, no scarf, hat or gloves and it was freezing! On our walks near rivers I found lots of small pieces of fluorospar. It is a pretty purple. I have just read that Blue John stone from Derbyshire is actually fluorspar. Fluorescence is named after it as it has fluorescent properties. I have my black light torch ready to see if mine has in a minute! It works! I haven't got the photographic skills to make it show in a photo but it is good! (There is a picture on this site of polished pebbles in normal light and ultraviolet light.)

I went inside this building. It still has lockers and lots of rubbish. 

The cause of the demise of fluorspar mining here was imported stone from China. 

We are planning to go back in the summer. I want to swim in the rivers like the locals!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

''A Funny Day...

... to go to the beach'', is what the boy in Sainsbury's in New Romney said to me yesterday afternoon. We were there getting our shopping after visiting Dungeness, and he asked me if  I had had a good day. So I told him that I had because I had been to the beach. I didn't agree with his opinion of my choice of places to visit as it was a lovely day to go to the beach. We decided on a whim to go to Dungeness as we have not had a trip out for a while. We visited the RSPB sanctuary there which we have not done before. It has big windows overlooking the reservoir and power station. They have binoculars and telescopes to look through. We went in the bird hide too which is where I watched this grebe diving and resurfacing for a while. The sandy pitted track to get there was fun to drive along!
 We ate our packed lunch in the car near the beach and then went for a walk. There were lots of dead dogfish, I think I counted 11 or 12. My best find on the beach was the bone of half of the jaw of one of these fish, complete with lots of tiny sharp teeth.

 We also found two of these. We thought they were some kind of scary jelly fish but they are in fact Squid eggs.  They are called a 'mop' because of the resemblance to one. They are formed around a pebble or shell and laid on the seabed in their hundreds.
 Some old rope. No money for it but I liked the colour combination. 
 The tide was really far out and the sky and sea made beautiful pictures. 
 This old paintbrush caught my eye. I left it on the beach though in case anything was living amongst its bristles.
 When we were walking back to the car, Andy was quite far ahead of me as I was still beach combing. At one point he stopped and was holding his arm out towards me. I thought he was taking a photo then realised he was pointing. I turned to see this amazing vertical rainbow. It was brighter than it looks here.
 As we were just about to leave, this couple and their little fluffy dogs, two white and two black came plodding up the shingle. I loved the look of this group all together. They made pleasing rounded shapes and I like the dull colours with the orange carrier bag to brighten it up. I wonder if that is their poop bag?!
Love Dungeness!