Sunday 30 November 2014

This weekend has been a quiet one, which has given me the chance to catch up on cleaning and crocheting. The best thing about this weekend though, is that we can now open our front door in a normal manner. (Not by bashing it with our hips or yanking it using a belt through the letterbox) With all the rain we have had, and a leaky gutter, which we recently had fixed at great expense, the door and doorstep had expanded so much that it was very hard to get in and out. It has been this way for about four weeks. I was waiting for it to contract but that was not happening so Andy found a man called Ray on a site called rated to come and have a look. He arrived at about four yesterday and by about 6.30 the door was fixed. He did a great job, even leaving me a little pot of sealant to keep adding more layers where he filled a hole (that I had gouged last weekend in an amateurish attempt to fix it) He didn't rip us off and he was nice too. He talked to himself and sang as he worked which was an added bonus. (I like a bit of talking to myself too!) 
 I have been making bears for presents. This is one I finished last week-a wedding bear for my Dad's wife. Today I have made three heads and a body.
 I used a crocheted band to attach her bouquet, rather than sewing it to her hands as the book suggested. That just seemed cruel!
 This is my to do list for the weekend. I didn't really need to write it as it was glaringly obvious which parts of the house (all of them) needed doing. I drew the bird from a reference book of caged and aviary birds. It has some really beautiful ones.

 The sun shone this morning and I had Cassie as my crochet companion. She was being very sweet and cuddly.
 Then later I made a Nigella clementine cake. It is a lovely and easy recipe which fills the house with the delicious scent of oranges as you boil them for two hours. It is lovely with a bit of creme fraiche.

Tuesday 25 November 2014


I of course have far too many things. I like things but some of them have got to go. I am happy to say bye bye, that is if anyone wants them. This puppet family came from school a long time ago-along with a few of their friends, deemed too old and old-fashioned to use anymore. I saved them from the bin and am now trying to sell them on eBay. I did sell two last week so there is hope. 
This is from an issue of 'Golden Hands' a craft magazine from the seventies. I have about ten of these. They have some good stuff in but I have lots of other craft books etc so they are for sale. This page shows a lady in Scotland ( I think) making a ring shawl. Lace knitting so fine that the whole shawl can pass through a wedding band. Apart from the eyesight issue, my hands are just too rough for this sort of thing. Amazing work.
 A knitting pattern for a twinset. I like these just for the picture but someone out there could actually make the twinset!
 My two forties knitting books were destined for eBay but when I started to look through them I changed my mind. They are just so funny and interesting so I am keeping them.
 Everyone needs a knitted beach suit. 
 This is not on the topic of things, just a favourite photo from recently. We visited our friend Lorna in Tooting and had a delicious Japanese meal and lots of beer. It was fun!
 These are more things, ones I have added to the hoard though. The kids I teach on Friday afternoon have a reward time at the end of the day called 'golden time' One of the activities in this is hama beads and I wanted a go too! I have a load somewhere but don't know where so I bought myself some more and had a bit if a mad hama bead week last week. The ones I bought are from hobby craft, mixed with some genuine hama ones from a kit. I swear that the hobby craft ones don't stick together properly. I made a large table mat which kept breaking. I solved it by sewing felt on the back but I am only buying real ones in the future.
 This is a thing made by someone else- a genius child and their genius parents and brought into the class I had last Monday. It was too good not to take a picture of! They were in a school only five minutes from my house which was great.
I worked all week last week, and worked yesterday in a reception class (where one of the kids said 'You look like a grandma'-not so great for my self image!) Today I just didn't want to work so I didn't. A bit naughty but I am glad as it turned out because I got a phonecall this afternoon offering me work in a school not too far away for the next three weeks on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So I am fully booked until Christmas! Hurray!

Friday 21 November 2014

Things I Love About my Job

That I get to go somewhere different all the time.
That although it is a job, it doesn't feel constricting in the same way my old one did. I can have a day off if I really need to and only have myself to answer to about that.
That I get a little bit of the feeling of belonging from the school I go to on Thursdays and Fridays. I teach the same classes each week and all the people who work there have been very welcoming. I really like it there. I was thinking about it when I got home tonight and I realised that although the staff are tired a lot of the time (they work in a school and half of them are teachers so that makes sense), they do not look miserable, they do not seem bullied, and there is no back biting that I have observed. A complete contrast to my old school.
That I get to read on my way to and from work.
That I work nearer to central London and so can nip somewhere interesting on the way home if I want to. (More on that in a minute!)
And mostly, that I am just tired, not tired and miserable, not tired and stressed, not tired and living in fear of the next inspection, monitoring visit, 'book look', or observation by those who claim to know better than me what I should be doing.
And, I have time! Time is such a luxury and I had so little of it before. My weekends are my own as are my evenings.
Here is where I nipped on the way home...
 The Tower of London-to see the remains of the poppies. We were going to visit with my Dad but we left it too late. It got ridiculously busy on the last week leading up to when they were to be taken away, and that weekend was when we planned to visit. My Dad is not able to walk that far or stand for long and we decided it was best not to go. I didn't want to miss seeing them altogether hence this evening.
 It was only a short tube journey from Bethnal Green where I was today. This is the moat, where a lot of the poppies have gone. Even with the ones that are left, the thought that each represents a life lost still has a powerful impact. I wandered around taking pictures and enjoying the rain and the lack of the need to be anywhere in particular.
 Rainy London evenings are beautiful. I have always liked paintings of rainy nights in the city.

 This strange collection of animal sculptures looked real in the dark. I couldn't make out what the lion's mane was made from. This is a flash photo, making the rain look like snow.

 I decided not to go back to the tube, but walked to London Bridge instead. It is not that far and made a change to going home via North Greenwich, where you sometimes have to wait ages for a bus.
From the quiet under the bridge I went up the steps (the smelly steps!) to join the hoards of people walking across the bridge. Walking very fast-I was in more of a strolling mood but tried to alter my pace! I was lucky with a train and was home by six. Now I must get on with my Christmas crochet-the crochet I have been thinking about for months but did not really start until last week!

Thursday 13 November 2014


A couple of Fridays ago, I drove to East Peckham in Kent, which took me uite some time in the rush hour, for a polymer clay bead making course with my friend Tamsyn, who I met at the craft fair. It was to make beads using canes-I think they are called, which are sausages of clay encased in a layer, then rolled, put together and cut, in various ways. Over that weekend I made some other beads-based on those stones with white lines in. I have made these ones into a necklace. I have not used the others yet but will do. It is quite fun playing with clay, and easy to bake. A good tip from the course is to use a cocktail stick through the bead to bake it. 

I also made this toadstool, which is now a brooch. 

Monday 10 November 2014

Old Building

On Saturday my Dad was going to come up to go to see the poppies at the Tower of London. However, it has been getting busier and busier there, and he can't stand for long or walk too far, so changed his mind. Instead I went down and had lunch with him, his wife, and my brother in a pub in the village. Andy couldn't come unfortunately as he had to work. After lunch we popped into the local antique shop, as my brother wanted me to see the upstairs floor which slopes at an alarming angle, and makes it feel as if you are on the deck of a ship. It is made of wide boards, all different to each other. It has a number of rooms, filled with interesting objects. But the building is the star. It is fourteenth century and has oak beams. I would love to live there, even with the damp!

Friday 7 November 2014

Mainly Cats

Half term was spent working for two days for Arty Party and then preparing for the arrival of some furniture and boxes of things from Andy's Mum's flat. This may sound simple but it has been a massive task, due to my hoarding tendencies and general lack of motivation in the last while to do any de-cluttering. However, I have worked out a theory, and that is that I have always had the good intentions to get rid of some of this excess stuff, but have then been ambushed by school by the end of September each year, and never got far past the planning stage. It was not just the lack of time, but the lack of mental energy to concentrate on any other task than school. I am beginning to realize that that has changed, and I am doing quite well. It is only the beginning, and I hope I don't lose steam but hopefully not. I think I am very good at making stuff fit into an ever decreasing space, and have thus managed to save things (larger things like the trunks in the hall) by doing things such as clearing the understairs cupboard. The two trunks are now in there, along with a lot of other things. I have tackled a corner at a time in the sitting room and kitchen, and have changed the use of some pieces of furniture, for example my small desk now holds all my dies, inks, stamps and embossing folders, and the die cutting machine can go on top of it when not in use. I can actually work in that area, so saving the kitchen table from being a permanent mess. I took the never closed door off the back room as that meant I could put stuff flat against the wall. It is an extremely heavy door, but fits nicely and almost invisibly behind the sofa! I have found a great de-cluttering website called Apartment Therapy to inspire me, and, although some of the stuff on there is pretty obvious, if I already do it I feel smug and if not then I can try it!
 The cats have had mixed feelings about all this. Cassie gets very excited at this kind of thing, seeing it as an opportunity to play more, climb higher, and generally help me out by getting in the way and being funny. Tiger doesn't mind too much, as long as there are new places to sleep. Lily hates it all, and only relaxes when things are back in place.
 I didn't go for a pumpkin this year, but instead got this Turkish Hat squash which is beautiful and looks good on the newly cleared kitchen table with this little circus doll from Linda Sue leaning on it. She is papier mache and so pretty, with just the right amount of glitter and gold paint.
 Cassie showing us how to eat, on one of the temporary book piles (the 'to keep' cookery book pile)
 In addition to all the kerfuffle in the house, there has been quite a lot outside. I can't remember if I mentioned this on here before, but my neighbour is having a house built behind our garden where his outhouses were. We have had builders in and out of the house at first, to cut off the electricity to our shed ( they will reinstate it), tell me what would be happening and ask permission to chop a bit of our garden off temporarily. Then they have been out the back with their mini diggers, demolishing then excavating the foundations. I have been keeping the cats in during the day, which they do not like, but I don't want them getting squashed by a digger!
 Cassie not liking being kept in. 
 I have not been very well this week, plus we had the delivery of furniture, so I have only gone back to work today. It has been lovely and sunny most days, and the light in the kitchen makes me take photos of random things. The red light is from a candle holder on the newly tidied and de-cobwebbed kitchen windowsill.
 Christmas card stuff on the table. 
 Lily enjoying the sun. 
 Tiger too. I call her Tigey Toos as she has to have everything that everyone else has got. She is a very jealous cat!
 More Christmas card preparation. 
 Tiger making the best of a bad situation. (cleaning!) 
 Cassie deciding that we must keep the blue computer chair, it is her favourite, and my idea of getting rid of it is completely misguided. (We are keeping it!)
 This is the pre-deep cleaning pile. I was nearly at the end of three very hard days sorting out and lugging stuff around, in order to make sense of the new things. I am quite skilled at building what appears to be a teetering pile of stuff on the sofa, (but is actually quite stable) so I can do the floor, and quite enjoy the challenge of seeing how much I can get on there!
 I have watched a fair amount of tv this week-I have three favourite day time programmes, one of which is called 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is'. It is a competition between two antiques dealers who, each day, use their own money to buy things in various places, then sell them to make the most profit (which is then given to charity) This picture is of a dressing table. I have this exact piece of furniture, (mine is not painted) minus the mirror, and always thought is was a small desk (though I can see the holes for the mirror) The dealer sold it for some rip off price. Mine was cheap years ago, I can't remember where from, and was probably one of the first pieces of furniture I bought. I love it and am pleased to have fitted it into the kitchen where the door was.
I have also watched most of my box set of 'The Good Life', a comedy from the seventies about a couple who decide to leave the rat race and become self-sufficient, but continue living in Surbiton, next to their snobby but kind neighbours. This is the character Barbara, wearing a re-purposed jumper of her husband's, and dying wool her husband has spun, using nettles he collected on the local golf course. I love the colours in this scene. 
Well, that is the exciting summary of some of the things I have been up to. I have also made some extremely large socks, re-siliconed the bath and started reading Mills and Boon books. More on these later!