Sunday, 31 August 2014

Bits and Pieces

Focus seems to be something that is eluding me at the moment-well in the way of getting the more boring things done, such as finishing sorting out the detritus from 20 years of school hoarding, or clearing the jungly garden. However, none of it seems that pressing when I have so many things I want to make! Usually the summer is spent in a frantic scurry to get everything done before school starts and takes over my life again. Well not this year! I feel so lucky not to have a permanent job as a teacher. That seems weird even to say but it is true. I am slightly nervous about commencing my supply teaching, but experience tells me it will be ok. I had a nice chat with one of the supply agancy staff the other day, and an email from someone I met at a school I visited for a transition meeting for two children in my class before the summer. I don't expect there will be any work tomorrow, and maybe not much this week, but that is not too much of a worry. I will spend one more day making things, and pottering around and then I will ring the agency tomorrow afternoon to see if they have anything for Tuesday. I am going to start getting up at normal time tomorrow though so I am in a routine. 
Below are a few of the things that have been occupying my time this week.
I finished my third doll painting. This doll is hard to make look as she actually looks but I am fairly happy with the picture, especially the teddy and the heart. 
I spent some time snail watching in the rain the other day. Hundreds of them appear when it rains. They are a good subject to photograph as they are so slow moving and don't get scared!
This is Cassie first thing in the morning-well for her anyway. She was enjoying the sun. 
Under this fabric is an old wooden trunk, the property of a Captain Borland who is somehow linked to Andy's family. It is where I sit to use the sewing machine-which I set up on a felt top card table normally stored behind the rocking chair. Everything here is stored under or behind something else! Lily likes to sleep here though and sometimes I have to leave her. Amineko slept with her the other day..
I made sleeping bags for two of the other cats. They took a bit longer than mine-ages in fact, especially as I broke a needle, and managed to tangle some ribbon through the feed dogs. Two separate incidents, both of which involved slight to medium temper loss, followed by dismantling various parts of the machine to sort them out!
In our sitting room there was a strange and not very good lighting arrangement involving a wire suspended across the room with three spotlights attached to it, which then plugged into the wall socket. When it eventually broke, we investigated whether a central light could be installed. Roger Tester, our great electrician, said that one could. He suggested spotlights. It is very dark in here at this end of the room and this makes crafting or reading difficult in the evening. We have lamps but they do not really help the middle section of the room. So today I bought a set of three spotlights on a bar-the ones in the middle of the picture at the top. I took the picture earlier in the week to send Andy for approval. How interesting!
Yesterday I went to the boot fair. I have not been for ages so thought it was about time. I bought a few great things, but not this. I thought it was worth a picture though! I didn't look closely but I think it is an actual painting rather than a mass produced thing.
I have started the next doll picture. 
I quite like it like this so may not do too much more to it. 

Yesterday I spent an enjoyable hour sorting out my beads and findings. Last week I saw a programme showing how to use crimp beads to finish the ends of necklaces and bracelets. It is much simpler than I thought and spurred me to want to make some bracelets. I have all the things I need, but trying to find them in the mishmash of stuff in the two tool boxes and another load of assorted places was driving me mad. Now I know where it all is! I have, by about the fifth bracelet, got the hang of making them the right size, rather than big enough to just fall off my wrist, and also how to get the sharp end of the wire neatly hidden in a bead. I had to go to Hobbycraft today for some yarn to make a friend another cat, and was looking at beads. I was actually asked for jewellery making advice by a woman, and was able to give it! She even complimented my bracelet.
Yesterday afternoon, we met Andy's brother and his wife for lunch. We went to a pub called The Jam Sandwich Circus. We had lunch, then went to another bar for beer, then back to the first place for coffee and cake. We had this room at the back to ourselves. It is done up like a 1960s sitting room. I liked the table best, especially adorned with coffee and cupcakes!

Sun on the wall today. A lovely day! 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

No Title

No title for this post as the things in it bear little relation to each other apart from they have all been photoshopped. I was going to call it 'Photoshopping Life' but that sounds as if I am going to write something enlightening or clever which I am not. I was also going to call it 'Island Graffiti' as there is some, but that is not all there is.  
 This little bird and lots of others like it were running around the beach. It is a Turnstone. I had not heard of these before. It is called this as it turns stones over looking for food. Nice literal name!
 The bins along the sea wall have been decorated. 
 The green weed growing on the wooden groyne is a similar colour to the bins. 
 This is the still life for my next doll picture. This is a very small doll, which I think came from Linda Sue. He is very smart in his black suit and bow tie, just ready for dinner with all the white china characters. All from charity shops apart from the cat jug which was a present from Jenny, my sister in law. The rabbit teapot's parts do not seem to match. The china looks different and the head is very loose, so somewhere there must be another body and another head. I hope they are together too.
 On the left are the four Amineko cats I have just finished making for my friend Sarah in Holland. Two, purple and pink for the daughters of her friend. One, variegated pink and white, for another friend's baby, and the brown one for her mother in law. I hope they like them. The other two are mine. They had to come out of hibernation to remind me about the positions of limbs and features, so deserved to be in the photo.  I love making these cats as they always turn out so cute. I am making another one from variegated 'fairisle' effect yarn for me. I think I will take it on our trip to Amsterdam in September, to help with photos. We are meeting Linda Sue and Stella there. I can't wait! The book I have just finished reading is partly set there although I do not want to have any similar experiences to the character in it. It is 'The Goldfinch' by Donna Tartt and I absolutely loved it. I don't read reviews before I read a book or watch a film as they are likely to spoil it and I like to be surprised and make up my own mind. I have read a few of this book this evening, and people seem to love it or hate it, not much in between. It is 781 pages long, and a book that big would normally take me a long time to read, but I have finished it in about a week and a half as I couldn't stop. I have not been so concerned to find out what happened to a character since reading 'David Copperfield' I am going to go back to the book I abandoned halfway through to start 'The Goldfinch' which I was enjoying, although not in the same feverish way! It is about Katherine Routledge, who, with her husband, organised an expedition to Easter Island in 1910, to investigate and document the history of the island, statues and people. I read a book about her (Among Stone Giants by Jo Anne Van Tilburg, and wanted to read about it all in her own words. I read this book because it was one of the influences mentioned by Jeannette Winterson on her novel The Stone Gods, another book I really enjoyed. I often go off on book chases like this, where one thing leads to another, and they all lead to yet more books in the house!)
I think the thing that makes these cats work so well as the cutest things, is the way they are asleep. Sleeping kittens, puppies, babies, all unbearably sweet!

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Olympic Park

This is a post from a while ago which I forgot about. It was sunnier than today when Andy and I went to Sheppey for a bank holiday trip. It was very wet but fun. We had fish and chips in the car and a walk on the beach too so it was worth it. The olympic park visit  was on the last Saturday of term. I met Caroline and Cheryl, and we spent a lovely day there chatting and sitting in the sun. 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

This Week

The fennel looked good against the blue sky. 
I drove to Hastings with my friend, and we stopped at Hawkhurst briefly. The green there is enormous, and looked picturesque with the houses and sky.
A door in Hastings. Love the colours, and the bat knocker. 
The bottom of the lift up the cliff. 
A crow family who I didn't buy as they were £18! Could always make some if I was desperate. 
A scary 3D medical poster thingammy. 
Seagulls like soft tops. They enjoy leaving presents for the returning owners. These are the babies, though you may not guess it from their size. They make a pathetic mewling sound waiting for their parents to return with fish-or chips.
An approaching storm as we were leaving. 
This is the third of my doll portrait pictures. I decided to paint or draw all my dolls. This should keep me busy! This doll is from the travelling doll project. She is cuddling a teddy that Linda at work gave me. He does have eyes but I have not painted them yet.
Yesterday we saw this ice cream van with spelling mistake. Such a shame when people have paid for professional sign writers and they still do not get it right!
The ingredients for the healthy soup I made. It is sweet potato with whatever else was around. I used ginger powder, coriander powder and chilli. Probably would be nicer with fresh ginger but I didn't have any. It was, and still is, very tasty! I loved all the colours on the plate of chopped vegetables.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Haybales on Blackheath

Not what I expect to see in London. It explains the tractor I had seen the day before though. These were there on Friday and gone on Saturday. There is a farm not that far away so maybe they were taken there to feed the donkeys. The crows were having a good day-maybe eating worms woken up by all the hay making noise. 

 I love the way crows do that hopping half flying run. They are wary but don't seem scared somehow.
 I like this silhouette of a flying crow. I only had my phone so not great focus but the shape is there.