Thursday 31 December 2020

Random Selection of End of Year Photos

Clearing the last photos I meant to share before the year is over...
Best seat on the bus-at the back on the bottom deck opposite this seat. More space! Social distancing on buses has always seemed a little difficult so any small gain is good.
Last week small world table set up by the student in the class. Woolly snow and a farmyard conversation. 
Hello.  Camberwell cat gives me a hard stare. 
Photo taken from the queue where I eat my leftover sandwiches on the way home from work. It is a queue that can take a while so I have time to eat and am always hungry at that time! I liked the light and shadows from the plants on the ceiling of the balcony. 
I did hang my wreath on the front door in the end. I made the bow from a plastic bin bag. The bay has curled up but otherwise it lasted quite well. 
Christmas present for the cats. I tried to put it together myself but was soon very cross with whoever designed it and Andy had to step in. The thought occurred to me during my slight tantrum, that people have sent astronauts to the moon. The contrast between their abilities and mine was stark. To give myself a bit of a break, it was a two person job, to balance the bits that needed to be balanced while the next one was attached. Anyway, Cassie loves it, and Oliver quite likes it now. Lily also got a new simple post one in the bedroom and she loves it, so success!
Here is Cassie on tier 4, not in it like most of the country. She won't go on the top part though, I think because she cannot see into it because of the edging. 
This hexagonal building is at Surrey Quays, where I had to go to meet a fellow cat sitter to pick up some keys. It was a beautiful day. I had to drive to New Cross and get the bus to Peckham later in the week to return the keys to their owner as all cat jobs but one were cancelled. 
This is a mask dispensing machine I saw in the shopping centre. It shouldn't surprise me but it does when things adapt to the new normal which isn't even new anymore. 
Poster seen when getting the cat tree.
Holly lined view into the street below from a little part of Blackheath I hadn't seen before. Though I have walked up the road below.
Beautiful oak leaves in the same place. Wrong shoes which were soon really wet. 
The stamp looked good on the envelope.
Amazing Amaryllis I got for my birthday. I left it too long to open and plant it, and there were some poor stunted flowers in the box. These died, then it grew again and produced four of these candy striped beauties!
My only cat this Christmas was Barney. Here he is demonstrating what his person called his batman pose! He was very funny and playful and lived near a little park I had not been to before where I saw this fallen tree cave. 
Coconut person from the foreshore last week. I didn't take him home as I thought he was probably happy bobbing around in the river on and off. 
Finally my tree, which is one of the nicest looking trees we have ever had, and I wished my Mum could have seen it. I wasn't going to get one, then I decided to go for plastic everlasting instead of real and soon to die. Ikea came up with the goods. I am going to take it down tomorrow as I don't want to leave that job until next week. Schools in London are mainly closed for the next couple of weeks, but I am going to be going in to work with the children that still come in-those of key workers and vulnerable children. It will be different but it will keep me busy and at least the buses and roads will be quieter. 
Happy new year to you, and I hope things will get rapidly better as they are not too good at the moment. 

Friday 25 December 2020

To You Mum xx

Mum always made Christmas special, from when we were little until last year. I will be remembering her today and raising a glass to her. She wasn't a drinker, but she would have had her coffee!
As a girl guide with her friends. She is so little! The other photo is of her and Vera, her sister, who was even littler! Also a cat.
This is from a visit to an art fair they hold in Lenham where my Dad lives. It is in a lovely old barn, and we visited a number of times. This is my sister and her husband. Jane and Mum look very dramatic!
This is in a pub in Lenham.  Mum with my brother. I love this photo.
This is Mum's 80th birthday cake, made by the daughter of one of her closest friends. She loved it because it had all her favourite things on-a bike, a cat and painting. This photo was taken at the time. When we were sorting out Mum's house, I found it still in the cupboard, covered with a bowl and foil. She obviously could not bring herself to get rid of it or eat it. It made me cry (again!) and I brought it home. I meant to take photos and get rid of it but I just couldn't, so it is in the storage place wrapped up well. I will deal with it one day, and I think I will probably keep the little Mum and cat.
This last one is from a recent Christmas at my brother's. Mum looks like she is about to laugh. A good look! 
Have a peaceful Christmas xx

Thursday 24 December 2020

Christmas Eve Scenes

Oliver on his favourite chair just trying to get some peace! I love it when cats cover their eyes like this!
My friend Cleo on the foreshore today. We went for a Christmas eve walk. It was fun and freezing! We did take coffee in flasks though so that was good.

Someone has Christmasified the beach sculpture. 

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Sheppey Stickers

Stickers seen on my last visit to Sheppey. Now we are isolated Britain. I feel sorry for all the lorry drivers caught up in the mess at Dover. They don't seem to have been made provision for-no toilets, running water or easily available food or drink for a lot of them. How difficult is it to install some porta loos and a water truck?

Monday 21 December 2020

Christmas Stuff and a New Doll Painting

 Angel chimes from my friend in Holland a few years ago (the small ones) and from Mum's. I realise that Mum's ones are going around backwards so need to twist the sails. I have mixed the Christmas things I kept from her house (a small selection-she had lots of Christmas things) in with mine and it is comforting to have them there. I am trying to enjoy the things about Christmas that I love and think about how Mum always enjoyed it and made it so special. The day itself will just be Andy and I here. I had cat sitting jobs as normal until Sunday when the new measures were announced, and they all cancelled, apart from the owners of Barney, a new client who I visited for the first time today. He is sweet and entertaining. After seeing him, I spent the next two hours returning keys I had collected last week. But I am glad not to have to go anywhere, and will think about Mum and try to enjoy it as she would have wanted that. Andy and I are going to go for a walk to the river if the tides are right. My brother was going to visit us on Boxing Day, but can't now which is a shame. Things seem suddenly to have gone from bad to worse. The tier four is basically lockdown, Brexit with no deal (so far) is looming, lorries are queueing up in Kent, unable to get to the continent because of the new 'mutant' strain of Corona virus, and 40 countries have banned travellers from the UK. My mince pie consumption has grown exponentially in response to all of this. I also bought a chocolate yule log cake today. Oh dear. 

When stressed, creating something is always a good distraction, so here are this week's creations.
Steve shared some minimalist nativities on Facebook and it inspired me to try one, then two of my own. Pipe stems and bowls, and some cowrie shells make up the first, and a magnet toy that I found during recent tidying made the second. Fresca made one today out of household stuff which works well.
This little dumpling is from Linda Sue. I do wish that I could find out who made some of my dolls. I wonder if this person made up the pattern. She is just such a little character. 
As usual, I really enjoyed painting the pattern on the dress. It was a puzzle, and I had to start again a few times. Now I have started the Robin lady one. 

Probably more mince pies and Christmas stuff tomorrow! One more thing-Lara Maiklem, the London Mudlark, shared the Alexander McQueen video, for their Spring/Summer 2021 collection. She was sharing it because it was filmed on the Thames foreshore, and it was along the lines of, 'I wonder if they know what they are sitting in?' I read all the comments on her post after watching the video, and because it was a bunch of Mudlarks, they were a bit dismissive of the video, and how the Thames mud was filthy etc. But one of them used to work in television or films, and said that the section where the girl made a mud angel was probably filmed either in green screen, or at least they would have put a cloth down with some imitation mud on it. There is also a part where two of the models are walking along thigh deep in the water, which would not be a sensible thing to do, and the person was talking about how that may be green screen too as risk assessments would not allow that. Anyway, despite all the mudlark carping, I was pleased she shared it, as it is mesmerising. The soundtrack is made up of strange noises, whistles and clicks-they sound a little like starlings, and the characters are dream like figures on the foreshore, with lots of possible little stories to show or tell. I loved it! It is called 'First Light'. Jonathan Glazer is the film maker and he made 'Under the Skin', which is from a book of the same name by Michel Faber. I loved the book, and the film too. It evokes the atmosphere of the book really well I think.

Friday 18 December 2020

Orange, Treasure in the Attic (Loft) and New Journal

Orange is such a cheering colour, and I love to use it. My favourite jumper is orange-two different shades. A charity shop bargain which it is hardly ever cold enough to wear. Doll painting has stopped over the last two weeks, due to tiredness and clearing chaos. I have now tidied my art desk again, and it is all set to go with my next painting which I started before the chaos. In the meanwhile, I have been using my Brusho paints, as I took them to school this week to use with Reception. They had a wet piece of paper and sprinkled the Brusho powder onto it from the pot where I had made a hole with a pin. They loved it, and it made me want to use them again. Lots of drippy, spritzed experiments, and two little foxes. I also coloured the layout picture for the painting after the current one is done. I had this doll from Linda Sue sitting on the bench with some others, and the robins were on there too before they went on the fir branch. The colours just looked so lovely together, then this title came to me so that is who she is. A bit like her former guardian who is a lady who looks after all the animals. I prefer the righthand version. I have painted the Paynes Grey background already.
I have quite a collection of lacquer boxes, in all states of repair. They are really beautiful things, and useful too. I don't see them very often, so when I saw this lovely rusty orange one yesterday, I had to bring it home. For only £4 it was a bargain. I had just been to the post office, posting hopefully my last Christmas parcel, and some cards, and the charity shop is temptingly next door.
Below is the loft treasure. My Mum's loft had all sorts of things in it, all pretty well arranged, and It took me about three visits to clear it and sort it, possibly more. This is part of an old bedspread that I think I remember. There was this colour, then a purple one too. A couple of them were whole. This is part of one that wasn't. They were being used as lagging and insulation. I had to crawl between the rafters to retrieve them. This phoenix like bird makes a good cover for this little book.
The paper was from Mum's stash of craft things. 
Below is my latest journal which I have just started. It is in a book called 'Mrs Galbraith's Air', which I bought for the cover, already used on another journal. 
A kind of wintery, Christmassy cover, with a cat I found in a bag of cats I had left over from making my Aunt Vera's 80th birthday card a few years ago. She was my Mum's sister.
Above is an attempted interpretation of the pieces of text I left visible. The shiny paint pens are lovely, but took about two days to dry on the gessoed surface!
I love this quote. I heard it on an advert-it is from a song I didn't know and I thought it was beautiful.

I had a vague idea in my head of making a painting or drawing with just one mark for all the people who have died from Covid here. I experimented on this page. The enormity of the numbers is hard to comprehend, and I wanted a physical representation of some kind. Each day the total number of deaths is announced and I know the news readers don't mean it to be, but it comes across as almost cursory now. Every day I think of all the people coping with their loss and how the lost become a number. Each Friday I write down the figures-the new cases, weekly average new cases, hospital admission average, daily deaths and total deaths. I am doing it to keep some kind of a track in my mind that does not rely on what the news tells me is the trend. 

 I love the page of library stamps, and also see that I bought it for 10p. Cheap!

Thursday 17 December 2020

The Old Days

Mum found this photo ages ago and had it on her easel in the sitting room, along with her unfinished painting of my sister's tortoise Steve. My brother pointed out that I bear a striking resemblance to the woman from the film 'The Ring'. I do look a bit evil I suppose. My Dad took the photo. I don't know what the occasion was. It was either 1975 or 1976. Maybe it was at the end of the summer term when we were leaving. I am not sure if this is only half the class, as there are only fifteen children in the picture. Maybe class sizes were a lot smaller then, I don't know. It was probably taken in the garden next door to the playground, which was where the vicar lived, and where we were allowed to play in the summer. It was great-because it had a secret hidden tree cave at the back which we loved. I can remember some of the names of my class but I have only labelled one of them, as she has such a lovely name-Paula Rose. She had pretty red hair too and was a sweet person.

Mr Chaston was lovely. Mrs Bowker was my year 6 teacher-not called year 6 then but probably Class 6. She was from Northumberland and was a very strong character who I liked a lot. She played the accordion and taught us country dancing. She and her husband Bob, and daughter Ann became good friends to our family when my parents got divorced, and they were very kind to my Mum. Mum kept in touch with them both until they died, and with Ann until Mum did. I had a lovely letter from Ann when Mum died. I will write back sometime. I should have done already but everything was so difficult so I didn't. Mum used to worry about Ann and supported her quite a bit I think. We used to go to their house sometimes. It was great. In the middle of woods in Kent, with dogs and cats, music and weaving. They had a lovely Alsatian called Nicky who used to hide his head under things and think he was invisible. He used to suck my arm like a baby sucking its thumb. Sounds disgusting really but he was a sweetie

Mrs Hinks taught me in the second class. My first teacher there was Mrs Bottomley. She used to worry about me because all I did for ages was quietly cry! I hadn't been to nursery so it was the first time I was away from Mum and clearly I wasn't happy about it. 

And then there was Miss Porter. Straight out of the 1940s with her tweed suits and short bob. She was big on maths and I wasn't. I used to copy the boy I sat next to and hope for the best. She had this fantastic role play shop in her room, with salt dough cakes and bread, but I don't remember ever being allowed to play with it. She also had a poster of wild life, or maybe just birds, that I would snap up if I saw it in a charity shop or market now. We sat in rows, which I don't think was very on trend for the seventies, but she was definitely old school. Mr Taylor was the teacher in the next year and he was a lot more laid back. At some point we had a guitar playing young man-probably a student. I remember him singing the Streets of London song by Ralph McTell to us. I think the girl in the background of the picture must be a student too.

If I was 10 this is 45 years ago. Unbelievable!

Monday 7 December 2020

Winter Wreath

I made this wreath yesterday. I used dogwood stems, forsythia stems and bay, from the garden. I cut up an orange and dried the slices, eating the first orange as I cut it the wrong way. I used pipe stems, gold tinsel pipe cleaners and some synthetic felt berries I have had for a few years. It may or may not go outside, depending on if I can work out how to hang it. For the minute it is brightening the mirror. 
The dogwood is such a beautiful red and with just the right amount of flexibility and strength for this purpose. I did use garden string to secure it though, to prevent it springing apart. I wove everything through and round, but had to resort to the glue gun for the oranges and the berries. 

I forgot about the string of cranberries I had made, and it was too late to include them. You can just see them hanging down on the left. I will hang them across the mirror if I move the wreath. 

Sunday 6 December 2020

Cat Sleeping

Ollie in his favourite mode. 
He is in the bedroom today with Lily, not on the computer chair where he is a lot of the time. 
He has been the highlight of 2020.