Sunday 24 July 2022

An Adventure

 Today we went to Chilslehurst to visit the caves. I have been meaning to go there for years but haven't. Our niece works in Chislehurst and suggested it when we last saw her. We met her and her sister there for our tour...

Andy is looking like an intrepid explorer!
We parked in a local road as there seem to be no parking restrictions, and only realised how massive the carpark here is once we got there. The people in the distance are role players getting dressed up. Nothing to do with the tour of the caves but fun to see. I am not sure what they were role playing.
This fancy door is the entrance to the tour of the caves. They are not actually caves, but a mine. Druids, Romans and later miners dug out 22 miles of tunnels from the chalk and flint. Dr William Nicholls claimed, in 1903 that the tunnels were excavated by Saxons, Romans and Druids, although there is no evidence for Druid occupation. The mine was worked until the end of the 19th century. There is a part of the caves with a stage and musicians including David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix played there. They were used as a munitions store in WW1 and as air raid shelters in WW2. There were so many people using them that a kind of underground town developed. One baby was born down there during an air raid. She was christened in the chapel there. Her name was Cavena! She changed it to Rose when she reached 18 but kept it as her middle name. 

The guide was good, and we all carried paraffin lanterns which added to the spooky atmosphere. At one point we stopped at a large ledge at the end of a tunnel. It could have been part of the continued working of the chalk, or a Druid sacrificial altar. (I personally thought it was the first one!) The guide went away and turned on a soundtrack of some pretty convincing sounds of an air raid for us to experience. The atmosphere of the place is strange. I suppose because of the damp dark coolness of it but imagination adds its own flavour too I think.

We stopped at an underground pool, where the remains of a woman in a white dress were found. She is supposed to haunt the pool and there are meant to be other restless spirits and strange goings on. Our guide has worked there for 5 years and has spent a lot of time down there getting to know the place. He says he has never seen anything but has heard sounds. He didn't specify so I had to ask. Children's laughter, footsteps and jangling keys! There used to be a challenge that if you could spend the night in the part of the caves where the pool is, alone, that you would win £5. (When £5 was a lot) Only one person ever managed it-a local policeman and he said he would never do it again no matter how much you paid him.

Once back in the daylight and warmth, we went for a delicious Sunday lunch at the Bickley Arms. It was a lovely day and anything like that at the moment feels like a mini holiday as I just don't do much anymore!
Both the caves and the pub are well worth a visit.

Thursday 14 July 2022

More Bear, and Mouse Repairs and Return to Work

I went back to work yesterday as I tested negative and felt mainly better. It was a hard day though as once I got there I realised I didn't feel that great and it was also very hot so I was moving at a very slow pace! I feel much better today though and have almost returned to my normal level of activity. I didn't do much last week, apart from sewing-making little sampler type things with scraps and embroidery thread. They were relaxing to do and I like small projects. I also repaired the cardigan of my Mum's bear, and made her a little dress from some vintage Laura Ashley fabric I got for a pound in Greenwich recently. She looks really pretty in her new dress. The other repair is of Mickey, my companion since I was three. I did it a while ago now. He is sitting on the left below, next to charity shop floor rescued blue bear with no nose. He was face down on the dusty charity shop floor a while ago and I couldn't leave him there. I have a problem leaving bears on the floor! He was 50p! I still have not given him a nose though. 
Mickey has been repaired numerous times, by my Mum, Nan and Gran, and also by me. He has had a few recoverings and bears no resemblance to his original self. 
Once I had taken all the coverings off, what remained was a very threadbare body with no arms, and big holes everywhere. There were a few wisps of fur, and a little original foot fabric. The knitting is part of his repairs in the past. 
First of all I used cotton fabric ro fill the holes, and reconstruct his nose and arms. This meant I was able to stuff him. I used Kapok as it seemed more suitable than polyfill. He was originally stuffed with that horrid foam stuff in small pieces. I think it was the stuffing of choice in the 60s.
It took a long time to get around to this repair as I couldn't find the right fabric. Then I found a grey needlecord miniskirt in the charity shop which was a little stretchy and was perfect. I already had the mohair fur fabric. The red fabric is from Hobbycraft. 
The card on the right is from my parents' friends who I think gave me Mickey. It is hard to believe that he looked like that at one time! It was great to have a reference picture. I didn't recreate the hands and feet. 
Once he was stuffed I made each part of him separately then sewed him in. It is like a suit really! I like how he has turned out, and hopefully I won't need to repair him again!
Here is Mum's bear in her new dress and darned cardigan. You can see how lovely the fabric is. It has a lovely sheen to it. 

Tuesday 5 July 2022

Time on my Hands Due to Covid

I have let months go by without writing or sharing anything here. Somehow I just didn't feel like it and there is no point doing something if you don't feel like it. But tonight, with at least another five days of nothingness ahead of me, I suddenly feel like it! Andy had covid last week and is still testing positive today, and I now have it, starting from Sunday so cannot go to school for at least five days. I found out yesterday afternoon that my school have Ofsted this week so lucky timing of finally catching covid. I felt ok yesterday, but have felt worse today. Mainly aching, and a bad headache and headachey eyes. I took paracetamol which has helped. Also very tired. I had a long sleep in the middle of the day today as nothing else seemed viable. Anyway, have perked up slightly now. 
Eyeless (temporarily) bear from the floor of Deptford market. I was there at closing time one evening a couple of months ago and the stall holders just leave stuff behind on the ground. There were a couple of people searching through it for anything worth taking and at first I didn't join them, even though I wanted to. I was way too early to meet my friend so was walking circuits of the area, and twice walked past sad panda lying on the ground. I went back to my car to get a bag, then swooped in to rescue him. Only five minutes later the bin lorries were there scooping up all the stuff so he was saved from ending his furry days in a litter crusher. He was destuffed, machine washed, restuffed, combed and is now awaiting eyes. I have some, but have not yet sewn them on. Him and eyeless bear have been waiting a while. His fur came up pretty well and is very soft after washing. 
Large faced lady drawn with alcohol markers on a gessoed background in my current journal. It is made out of packaging paper and an Amazon cardboard envelope. I have made a few handmade books this year. Two of them were from old envelopes.
Polystyrene tile print based on large faced lady. 

This is the view from my storage container on the Isle of Sheppey. It is pretty full now. I don't honestly know where all the stuff fitted in the flat. And the flat is not at all empty looking. But it is better. And is allowing me some space to gradually do jobs. Gradually being the word. 

Poor ratty was nearby on one of my visits. The containers are hopefully rat proof. They seal pretty well. I guess he or she was a victim of poison. I had to get rid of a much smaller rat, but still a rat from the bedroom of one of my cat clients recently. They were away for three weeks and their house was being shown to potential buyers so lucky that I spotted the rat early in the morning!

This was a recent discovery whilst cat sitting in a different part of Greenwich. It is a really lovely little area with lots of hidden alleys and paths and some lovely buildings. The cats happened to be next door neighbours so that saved me some travelling time!
I moved a large piece of furniture out of the kitchen so can move the remaining things around more easily. There was detaching plaster coving around the room and peeling lining paper on the ceiling. Both of which came off much more easily than expected. I now need to remove paper residue and then paint the ceiling and whole room. Then do the flooring. 
It was fun peeling the paper off!
I am making a baby blanket for Sophie who I used to work with. Her baby is not due until September so I have a while. I am doing a wavy pattern and have done about four rows of colour. 
Deptford market painting that I quite liked but not enough to bring it home. 
Cat friend. He is not scratchning me here but saying hello!

Finally is this picture of Andy wearing a wig I got in Deptford market. I got it for mannequin head purposes but Andy tried it on and we laughed a lot at the change in appearance it brought about!