Saturday, 26 July 2008

Endings and Beginnings...

I confess, I have neglected this blog for the last 10 days...

It's been a busy time...

I have left my job, ready to start a new chapter of my life in September, when I start at university. I was thoroughly spoilt on leaving and moved to tears at the generosity and warm words of encouragement from my colleagues.

There was a beautiful greeny-white orchid, which adds a serenity to my bedroom now that's it's too hot in my conservatory.

There were the brightest sunflowers, which add a splash of colour to the fireplace in my kitchen.

And, lucky, lucky me, I got an £80 Borders gift card! Perfect for fuelling my book addiction! Did I mention a chocolate fudge cake? No? There was...and it went before I had a chance to photograph it!
To prove I haven't been slacking in other areas, I made this crochet heart for my friend to carry at her wedding yesterday.
I adjusted the pattern that Attic 24 used for her crochet heart bunting slightly, as I wanted a slightly longer, not-so-fat-heart and I used the gorgeous Debbie Bliss silk that I bought a while back on my ill-fated trip into town.
It was a beautiful day - a new beginning for my dearest friend, who I have known all my life. I felt strangely emotional (who doesn't at weddings?) and laughed and cried with her and her wonderful family. Her parents are my Godparents, and it is a role they have always taken seriously and I am a better person for that.
On the table favours, my friend added a little dragonfly pin badge to mine and No2's name tags, in memory of Tom. I was moved to tears by her thoughtfulness and had to make an emergency dash to my room to reapply my mascara...
This is what made the day complete:
Blue sky! About time too...
I fear I may be slacking a bit more over the next few weeks, both in posting here and getting round to my usual copious amount of visiting Blogland, but I'll be back, have no fear!!!
I may have mentioned this before, but the formatting is wrong, all wrong and it drives me crazy - any tips, anyone?

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Seven songs...

I was tagged by Gingerbread - my kind of tag!

Here is the tag:
"List seven songs you are into right now.No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if theyare not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now.."

My ipod is always on in the background, so I put my 4* playlist on shuffle and this is what came up:

Bell Bottomed Tear - The Beautiful South

Viva la Vida - Coldplay

Space Oddity - David Bowie

Pure - The Lightening Seeds

Closer - Travis

Confusion - The Zutons

If you click on the title, you can watch the video on Youtube.

I should pass this on to 7 others, but as it's the end of term and I'm feeling lazy, I'll let you decide if you want to play!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Fresh air...

On Saturday morning, having despatched No2 off to Alton Towers with his Scout troop, I whizzed up the M40 to my lovely friend's cottage in the Cotswolds.

We spent a perfectly lazy day, chatting, dodging the showers, eating and drinking wine. In the evening, once her little people had gone to bed, we sat down to watch Love Actually, which happened to be on TV. It's one of those films, that no matter how many times I watch it, I still enjoy it. The bit when Bill Nighy's character calls Dec 'Ant or Dec' just makes me laugh every time. Do you have a favourite bit?

Every time I stay there, for some reason I like to have the tiny window in my bedroom thrown open to breathe in the air and wake to the sounds of the countryside rather than the sirens and traffic I am used to here at home.

I really feel like I'm winding down now. The end of term is drawing nearer, and with it, my last days working at school. Today, I had a little leaving party here at my house for the children in my class and the rest of the staff. I made some freshly laid egg sandwiches and a yummy sponge cake filled with fresh raspberries and mascapone cream.

It didn't last long!
We all sat out in the garden and the children enjoyed having a go in my hammock and I got Tom's swing out of the shed so they could have a go in that too. The dogs were in their element with all the attention and the children seemed to love the experience of having them around. I don't think any of them have a pet.

I need to get my thinking hat (pretty sharpish!) as I'd like to get them all a present when I leave. Any ideas? Maybe a book, seeing as my other role in school is librarian...

Friday, 11 July 2008

Granny Squares and Giveaways...

Do you remember the lovely new books I bought a few weeks back? Since buying them, I have been slightly obsessed with crochet blocks. I thought I'd start small, with a cushion. I've never made a Granny Square before and it is soooo easy!

After studying the book, I decided to use the 'granny-in-the-corner' block as a basis to the front of the cushion. I had 3 colours of Rowan Handknit Cotton, so I started with purple on one...

...then pink on the other.

I made 2 of each colourway and then joined them together by double-crocheting the edges, which leaves a raised seam that I thought looked OK.

Then I did a few more rows of half-treble crochet around all four edges until I'd reached the size of my cushion pad (40cm)

For the back I made one huge granny square - I just kept going!

Until I had almost matched the measurements of the front, then finished off with a few more rows of half-treble again.

Finally, I joined both sides together with a row of double-crochet along 3 sides. I've just got to find some buttons to fasten it at the bottom and it will be finished. The colours were inspired by my Urban Garden Quilt.

This week also saw my first giveaway dropping through my letterbox. Diana, over at Pebbledash, got all creative after reading about Wordle on one of my posts last week and I was lucky enough to land myself the result of one of her creations.

Isn't it great? I shall take it on holiday with me and try to get a bit of sketching in while I'm away. I don't often get the chance to sketch, but I love to draw leaves and twigs or anything else connected with nature. Nothing major, just some pencil drawings. And look at the lovely dragonfly tags as well - lucky me! Thank you so much, Diana.

Now, to get down to that list...

Sunday, 6 July 2008

A Squash and a Squeeze...

I am halfway through a 4 weekend cycle of having no No2 around, so I thought I'd pop into the West End for a bit of retail therapy. The trouble is it was a BIG mistake.

As I approached Baker Street on the bus, there was an announcement that the bus would be following a diversion at Marble Arch because of a parade. Oh well, thinks me, I'll just jump on the tube and make my way down to Covent Garden underground. My first stop was to be The Bead Shop. I have been looking for some beads with fairly big holes in the middle to thread onto some lovely bamboo yarn I bought in Loop a while back, to make some crochet bowl covers from my Vintage Crochet book.

After a quick sandwich stop in Borders on Charing Cross Road, I made my way up to Liberty. It was to be a one-stop visit to the haberdashery department. As always, it was full of temptation, but I resisted and came away with just 3 half metre pieces of Amy Butler fabrics in greys and lime greens. Leaving the shop by the main door, I found myself in a noisy, colourful crowd. Unbeknown to me, I was in the thick of the Pride London parade - so that was it! Momentarily, I got caught up in the fun and laughed to see Boris Johnson, our new mayor, leading the parade wearing a pink stetson. I have to confess to loving Boris - he is quite mad and I'm all for it! After seeing him host Have I Got News For You, I think he is the man for the job...

Anyway, time was pressing on and I had a party to get to last night, so I headed northwards to Oxford Circus so I could nip into John Lewis and buy the yarn that was also on my shopping list. The crowd that had been all laughter and gaiety (if you'll excuse the pun) soon turned into The Crowd From Hell and I found myself in the thick of a mass of humans who were pushing and shoving but with no apparent direction. The police presence didn't seem to have much of a handle on the situation and anyone who knows what it's like at Oxford Circus at the best of times can maybe imagine what it was like. I was pressed up against a wall, getting pushed from every angle. I was terrified and on the verge of a panic attack, I think. To make things worse, the sun was blazing down. After what seemed like ages, the police managed to get some control on the situation and I was able to move forward and escape. It all sounds very dramatic, but I really got scared at one point. Once I had some space around me, I realised that my lovely purple Liberty bag was empty. In the squash, the bag had been pulverised and the bottom had fallen out (it was one of their lovely paper bags!) and my new fabric purchases were gone...

On shaking legs and with a pounding heart, I headed to John Lewis as planned, hoping to take comfort from the calming qualities of wool. It was so calming in fact, that I filled a basket from the sale bins of odd balls of Rowan yarns which are perfect for doing amigurumi or making more Easter Eggs for next year. And all less than half price! Small consolation then?

I think I may have enough yarn to keep me going for a while. This is a quick list of my projects in the pipeline:

  • Crocheted heart for my friend to carry at her wedding - I'm hoping to adapt the sweetheart bunting pattern here. I'll use Debbie Bliss pure silk, such decadence!

  • Another Syd Rabbit. This time for my friend's almost 2 year old, whose birthday is coming up in August, using the Rowan Classic Baby Alpaca.

  • A crocheted bag for another friend's almost 5 year old daughter, this time from this book, which I've just ordered from Amazon. I'll use the Rowan pure wool DK.

Remind me to check for events in Central London, next time I decide to brave the crowds...

Thursday, 3 July 2008


Perusing the World Wide Web this morning, drinking mugs of freshly brewed coffee, I came across Wordle over at Rachael Rabbit.

I had to have a go...

I entered my blog URL and this is what came up:

I like it! It satisfies the missing random element to my way of thinking! If you click on it you can enlarge it - it just went all blurry when I tried to make it bigger. Now I've got to try and include it on my sidebar...

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


I've not had a huge success with strawberries, or any other type of fruit for that matter, over the years. I find that the holey terracotta so-called strawberry pots are difficult to keep watered as the water just floods out of the holes and once my lovingly bought plants start to look a bit crunchy, I soon lose interest and give up. Then I've been disappointed to find that when I finally go to pick my measly couple of strawberries, they've already been nabbed by the squirrels in the garden! Actually, looking back to last summer, I think it may have been a very bad dog that enjoyed the spoils of my harvest.

This year, having gained more space by getting my allotment (which is proving to be very hard work on my own...but that's another story), I decided to make a little strawberry bed in my raised beds in the garden.

I only planted 8 plants, but they have already made lots of extra little ones on the runners that they produce, which I will attempt to peg down and make some more individual plantlets. I wouldn't say I've had a bumper crop - certainly not enough to consider making some jam. But I have had a couple of bowls of sun-warmed fruits, picked and eaten with minutes. With lashings of double cream. No photo, I'm afraid - too greedy!

But, horror of horrors, something has discovered them again and it's not of the canine variety. I know that because dogs and chickens are kept out of my vegetable patch at the moment by the installation of some stock fence. It could be squirrels or it could be pigeons, I'm not sure. But the long and short of it is that I have now netted my little strawberry bed and now sit back and wait for another bowl-full to ripen.