Saturday, 19 April 2014

Bouncing Along

I was about to start by saying how much I love Spring, but then I thought, you know, I actually love all of our seasons as much as each other. I love how our year is broken into four bits all with different festivals, foods and changes in nature to look forward to. 

For now though it's Easter time and that means chicks and bunnies to me (oh and family feasts and chocolate too).



It also means lots of lovely days doing just what we please. 

Mid-week we headed to Foxley Woods. Foxley is an ancient woodland with the most stunning displays of bluebells.


 We had a leisurely meander with Little Bun and her friend following behind lost in chatter.


Spring also means a beautiful play of light on the walls. It makes getting up early less of a hideous thing for a night owl like me.

We actually managed to rise at 6am this week so we could drive down to London for a day of this 'n' that (I'll show you what we found next time I pop by).


 Another thing I'm hugely in favour of with seasonal festivities is the baking that goes with it. 

I made fairy egg buns for the girls, a Simnel cake (slightly burnt so it's best to just eat the middle bit) and a few cheese scones for the cheesy addicts. 

Little Bun and I still plan to knock up a few bunny and egg shaped lemon  biscuits as they've become a tradition of ours.


Today I've been playing chauffeur. Little Bun and her daddy have been planning a long off the beaten track walk for a while now and today was the day. 

Once I'd delivered them to the track I did the horrid food shop and then was greeted with the lovely sight of a sleepy bee waiting on the doorstep just for me!


 Miss Rosey got on with our lunch while I hung washing and generally faffed about with some of our animals.

Maggie and Bluebell in synchronised dance routine. Little Olive was busy in a bush laying eggs somewhere so missed out on the dancing.


 Further up I found Pixie had made another break for freedom. Not surprising as her outdoor run is very Heath Robinson (badly made and falling to bits if you don't know of the bloke).

 I left her to it. She's old and doesn't get too far, plus I needed the crack team to help me catch her.


 Walking back to the house I saw the ladies were still prancing and a dancing.


 No sooner it seemed than I got in to eat my lunch than I was called to come and collect the hikers. Six miles in and they found the path was blocked off so back they'd come tired, but happy.

Once home I sat down with my latest knitting and hooky obsession while uploading pics.

I opened up my bag of 4 ply cottons a couple of days ago and ever since I've been in colour heaven.


I'm loving working on these beautiful doilies and already have lots of other colourways planned.

I tried them in DK cotton at first, but they grab me best of all in the finer 4 ply.

 

Alongside these, last minute as usual, I started knocking up an egg cosy or two or three for friends who don't eat chocolate (hard to believe these people exist, but they actually do).


 Well it's been a lovely old week so far of Springtime goodness. 

Now thoughts turn to whether or not the Easter bunny will show up, will I burn the lunch and is it rude to squeeze in a spot of knitting when we have guests? 

Happy Easter to each of you.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Stop the Clocks

Sometimes being very tired can be so so good for you. I know it has been for me the past few days. I just wanted to do whatever I fancied with a bit of chat about what we all wanted to do thrown in too.

Seems we just need to go with the flow. We chucked out the work/school timetable and just did as we felt at the time and it's been a perfect few days because of it. 

Like most mum's I wear guilt well, finding it hard to switch off from providing a long list of essentials. Nowadays I'm slowly learning that I can step back more. My girls still need me, will always need me, but just not in the same ways when they were wee. Neither of us made lunch the other day, did the world end? No they just sorted themselves out instead.



We all did our own thing for a whole day.

I needed to fiddle about with random things. Consider making something, anything. Eventually I ran up a couple of new quilt covers for the girls. These have been a long time in my head and in the end they took less than 30 minutes to make. Perhaps it's because I chose the quick cheat method. 


Once I'd chosen the right sheets for them I realised I'd grabbed two that were actually double duvets. What a result. That meant no buttonhole making for me as the end bits were already there. All I had to do was measure from the middle, trim the sides and then re-stitch the edges. Two duvet covers done - hey presto. 

 Even better, they love them and they're all soft and cosy after years of washing. 


While I sewed, Little Bun spent the morning designing a dress for Handy one of her dolls. I showed her how to measure and make a pattern. As she's left-handed she struggles with the cutting bits. Once all the pieces were ready, she handstitched a lovely green spotty dress with a flower sewn on for good measure.


The rest of the day was spent with hook, yarn and a magazine.


I started working on a shape I've been mulling over, then I picked up the potholder I started a while back.


As I caught up with Endeavour on the ipad I somehow finished the pad. I was pretty impressed as it was all from a chart and normally my eyes go skewiff after a while with these.


I doubt I'll use it as it's far too pretty. It's destined to be a cheerful hangy thing in the kitchen. Which as my man cooks far more than me is pretty much my role in the kitchen too. 

*

The rest of the weekend was spent seeing and doing.
In the front of the library was this amazing pergola covered in knitted flowers, birds, insects and animals sent from all over the world to fundraise.


Our favourites were the budgies. Now I'm looking for a pattern to try and knock some up for us too.


Today's adventures involved taking great big gulps of fresh sea air.


Walking along one side of the river to cross the bridge that takes us to the beach on the other side.


Morning ices before lunch in the tea gardens.


Followed by a stroll through the village past amazing Arts & Crafts houses to walk the path of the old railway line that once used to bring holidaymakers to Walberswick.

On this part of our walk the smell of coconut was so strong. Turns out it was the yellow flowers on the gorse bushes.


Miss Rosey and I followed at the rear with her speaking to me in German. My favourite was "I'm friendly, but I'm not rich." A most useful statement I think for life's journey.

Hope you're all enjoying this lovely weather too and being kind to yourselves as well.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Light Time

This week my head got into holiday mood for two days and then I had to go into work to finish up two more days teaching as we have four terms to squeeze in this academic year. 
Now it's time to relax (apart from blinking stinking paperwork), catch up on sleep and all the things I really much prefer doing. 

We had plans today, but being so pooped we just wanted to flop at home. Only two days away at Grandma's and the girls miss home. We're all pretty content in our world. It's just as well we are really as we're not ooozing the money needed to go exploring anywhere far away either. Sometimes I wish we could, but we've made our choices and I know they're the right ones.

On holiday day no 1, the girls and I had the most lovely day. It poured with rain which meant no need to feel bad about hiding away. Little Bun had a friend come over in the afternoon and I heard not a peep from them. Miss Rosey and I fiddled. I cleared loads of old tat away, cleaned hutches in the rain and then while Miss Rosey drew I got the urge for a quick make.


For a while now I've wanted to cover another lampshade and hang it where I used to have a 1930's glass one on chains. I actually bought a book on covering lampshades an age ago which has some great ideas in it. This is not a make from it, instead it's a quick cut and glue job. Impatient to cover a shade and not wait for an order of proper lampshade paper and double sided tape I searched the garage instead for an old cast of drum shade.

Luckily I found one with a fairly faint pattern over it. I took a while choosing the right fabric. Once chosen, I measured up, cut out and then all I had to do was lather lots of glue with a big brush all over the fabric and shade. The first glue was pretty stinky and I ran out of that half-way through. Not good. Luckily I found some old UHU that hadn't dried out. Not stinky and much easier to use.


Then I stuck one end down to the shade, borrowed Miss Rosey's hands and as she rolled I smoothed and stuck the fabric to the shade. After a wee spot of trimming overlaps all was done. 

I hung it straight away to dry and marvel at how pleased I was with my quickie make. Close up like this you can see some of the blue flowers of the original print showing through. Other than that I'm really pleased with it.


My next plan for lamps is a wee project with glue, fairy lights, fabric and plastic cups. It's been on my mind for weeks now and I might finally have the time to do it at last.


Once I'd hung the lamp we did a spot of early Easter decorating with some of the honeycomb decorations I'd found a while ago. I think we'll sort out an Easter tree this weekend.

The end of our relaxing first holiday day ended with friends coming to eat with us. Miss Rosey asked if she could help me cook, Little Bun had wanted to make the breakfast that morning and then late that night they both insisted on staying up to help with the washing up.  What stars they were that day. Sometimes we have right old screaming matches about helping and who does what. All normal. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Glory Days

I tempted you with a tour around my dear friends shop last week didn't I. With all the nonsense of the last week well and truly shovelled aside, for now, I'm back in true glorious fashion to take you to Glory Days, Franklins Yard, Holt.


We knew the shop would be divine before we arrived. Ruth had previously opened Glory Days in Norwich before her move further up the bump that's Norfolk to start new adventures nearer the coast.
She has a fabulous eye for detail, excellent taste and is a shopkeeper whose warm welcome ends up with her becoming friends with many of her loyal customers.


I adore these coloured planters. I think they'd fairly brighten our garden that's home to rows of nettles and tons of chicken poo.


Last Saturday was a long time coming and so there was Ruth bubbly as ever with customers flowing in and out. 
As much as Holt is great for shopping - there are so many wonderful small shops, antique and charity shops and treasure emporiums tucked away here and there, down side alleys and nestled around yards, but there just isn't anything quite like Ruth's shop. Glory Days combines the appeal of Enid Blyon, sunny picnics, sweeties and childhood joy in one small space.


Isn't this original 1950's sign that Ruth had re-vamped fabulous?


Filling every space around the store are an array of gnomes and critters to make you smile. Staffordshire figurines sit happily amongst all the bright colours. Staffordshire pieces are highly collectable right now so you might be grabbing a bargain you know.


Alongside sweeties from Hope & Greenwood, jewellry from Acorn & Will are some of my bits and bobs. 


Sasha's toys peek out from bags and baskets. If you remember back to the Pick 'n' Mix Makers Market days then that's where you would have seen Sasha's toys, we also have quite a few in our home.


It's the parrot light I want right now, but then there's a nesting hen, a naughty gnome and a fabulous white scottie dog to choose from too and really I think I just want them all.


Little Bun bought a few brooches as Mothers Day gifts while we were there. She knows how much I love Daniella's pieces from Acorn & Will. I didn't notice a thing as we had some bubbly and being a complete lightweight with daytime drinking felt spaced out. I'm suprised these photos came out as well as they did. 

At lunch my man said "I feel odd, you just look bombed".


 If you are nearby, pop in because you'll get a real cheery welcome and there's always something to tempt you. I mean, how could you resist Booby Cupcakes?

Opening times are Tuesday to Saturday 10-5.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Thanking YOU

I'll try to keep it quick. I talk a lot and I mean on and on.

I needed to get on here and say such a big heartfelt thankyou. My words here can't get across the true extent of what your messages of support on my last post mean to me. If you saw my eyes welling up because I get emotional saying this stuff and the fact that I love hugging good kind people then you'd really really know.


I also got texts this morning from a wonderful lady I met through my blog (there's so many of you in fact that I've spoken to and wished we lived nearer because I think we'd have a grand old time). Then the morning post came (which I hate, because it's usually horrid stuff) and I was sent a fabulous Pug card containing heartfelt words. 

I struggle being open because I hate people thinking I'm looking for sympathy. I prefer to make a joke of things and move on. I'm so glad I did say here it is as knowing there are so many good people out there that feel like I do really boosts me. My man is amazing and achieves so much with all his projects with these youngsters and he loves me so it's taken as red that he holds me up. It was the extra stuff from you all that really helped.


 Your support gave me strength and so this morning I made phone calls and sent messages to set up an event in the easter holidays promoting what we do in the heart of the city. You got me kicking arse again, I talk more like that in the real world, I become Enid Blyton here which is good for calming me down. I've also had two fabulous end of term reports from our girlies and we have lovely weekend plans ahead. All good head stuff. 

Next post will be all pretty colourful stuff of my friends shop as my head feels ready to be pleasant again. I haven't made a thing to show you as my hands were stilled this week.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

As It iS

I'm not sure whether to write this or not. As I've done many times before I'll start typing, possibly save as an unpublished post and then feel loads better for getting it all down in front of me. 
Whenever I have a bad few days I avoid my blog. I don't want to come here when I feel down or stressed, this is a happy and positive place for me and for those of you who read my blog too.


Saying how it is right now isn't easy for so many reasons. This is hard for me. As a woman who was adopted as a baby I've struggled my whole life with feeling rejected, worrying that people don't like me. 
Often they don't to be honest. I have lots of theories about why this might be, but really who knows what they think. I know I'm straight talking, frank, don't suffer fools and have a dry sense of humour. That can get right up people's noses. On the other hand I'm really loyal, kind, very soft inside and think I'm ok.  I used to struggle being the outsider, now I'm happy with that.

 

Even with my blog I wanted it to be liked, a place that's great to visit. Why wouldn't I? For the most part I'm a positive happy person and that's what you get here. I feel bad that I barely find time to blog let alone visit other blogs. I do guilt well. A wise young man,  who I teach, told me today that I shouldn't feel so guilty if my plans for him don't work out because he knows I care. 
Ocassionally I get down. In my twenties I got so far down that it frightened the hell out of me so I've managed to avoid that place ever since.

I also get awkward with people I really like. I really want them to like me I guess and then I can feel myself not being as relaxed as I'd like. Anyway I'm taking a punt in being open and just a little bit honest now and if that puts you off my blog then there's not much I can do about that is there.

 

This week I've felt so knocked and battered that I can't think straight.
 I've been undermined for months at work for what I'm not seen to be doing that I've felt so low this week that I can't shake it. I feel vulnerable and I don't like it. Thank heavens for my man and my colleague who have supported me. A great parents evening last night really helped lift my mood a bit too. One of Miss Rosey's teachers welled up with pride saying how both girls were a credit to themselves, the school and us. We're also beyond rubbish at maths and she got an A in this half-terms test. Wow, can that be my daughter who understands numbers?

At work it should be my students who are the trying part, but they're not. I do a very hard job trying to engage teens who have been failed in some way. School and parents might have thrown them out when they were 13 or so. It's horrifying just how many parents turn their backs on their children and how many schools fail to deal with their behavioural disorders or the bullying they're suffering. Some of my students are a pain in the bum (they use the C word as casually as popping toffees in their mouths), some of my students are really quiet, one was an elected mute (but I still found a wicked sense of humour in there). All of them are without any self-esteem at all. It's really only the Autistic students who have a better opinion of themselves. In the main they test and test with their behaviour, my colleague and I don't react as there's nothing that shocks us.  We just act the same all the time and they give up in the end realising we can be more annoying in our daftness.  Then we start working on having fun, trying to get some childhood silliness back. There's so much more to what we do than that, but it works.


We become a bit like Nanny McPhee and once they don't need us they don't want to leave our intense ten week course. Some don't and stay for twenty or thirty weeks if they're not ready. We become an odd family and a safe place to be.  I welled up this week when one student told my boss I'd done more for her than her mum ever had and that she felt so calm being with me so she could concentrate at last. 
The successes of our students are immeasurable. For me it's not about the education we give them so much as the progression of them as people. If they're hungry and homeless education doesn't matter a jot. That needs sorting first. If they have anxiety they need to feel supported and safe. The list goes on and on. Through games, laughing and mucking about the barriers start to drop and we find out their real fears. Then we can start to support them as best we can. When we bump into old students who have successes to share we feel so proud of them and think - job done. The process of starting to like themselves has begun and off they go.

At the back of all this is the ever present stress of being employed sessionally. This means that at the end of every ten weeks I don't know if I'll have a job the next term. We have to search about for students to teach to keep the numbers up so we'll have a job. That along with funding constraints, other personal issues and all the paperwork that's expected in teaching nowadays and you get the other reasons I feel stressed this week. There are a lot of wishes I have, but I'm keeping them safe for now.

 So - I've decided to press publish. What the hell. Behind all the creative home loving part of me there's a quite dsyfunctional, emotional and caring me who gets very angry about injustice and rules.
 I keep calm with fabric and yarn.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

A Weeks This & That

 Our beautiful wee girl turned 12 on Friday. The years might be rushing on, but thank heavens she's in no rush to grow up. Little Bun is savouring each last drop of her childhood and that makes us very happy indeed.
Alongside this she is emotionally mature beyond her years, very wise, kind and thoughtful. 
We've always savoured innocence and joy, but we also help raise them as wise girls. We talk stuff through with our them a lot, from art to conspiracy theories, politics to favourite biscuits. Miss Rosey told us the other day that she was glad we're laid back and open with them. It means they can be the people they want to be.  That made us feel really good, because you really hope you're doing this parenting thing right. I guess if the ones at the receiving end are happy then all's good.

 A couple of weeks ago I whipped up a birthday banner as our old faithful cardboard one is looking a bit sorry for itself. I was inspired by Manda's over at Treefall Design for her daughter's.

It had also been hinted that a birthday badge would be much appreciated. In the tradition of last minute rushes I finished this one past midnight on the birthday morning. Although their school is strict on uniform it turns out you can advertise your birthday. 
She had a brilliant day and came home with a lovely sheep crocheted for her by one of her best friends. Traditional birthday tea and bingo were laid on at home as requested.


The star prize in the Bingo was actually for Alfie Blue. Because he isn't good with numbers his master played for him. Miss Rosey won it and looked a bit disappointed with a squeaky Bourbon. Ahh well it made us laugh.

 

The very next morning we were up and off to Holt where my friend Ruth was re-opening her shop Glory Days in Franklins Yard. After being in Norwich she closed it for a while waiting to find just the right spot to re-open. We had a bit of fizz in the shop and me being a complete wuss with any grown-up drinks spent the rest of the day like a space cadet (which was quite pleasant). I'll do a post all of it's own next time about her shop as I really want to show it to you properly.


 Little Bun bought a few Mother's Day treats for me from Ruth's which I'll show you then too. Miss Rosey opted to go to her Nan's (she's reached that age when sometimes the thought of walking fills her with dread). What more can you say about being a teenager than that? 

Before we left Holt and headed off to do the dreaded walking at Binky Hall, I spied a pinky fabric and a sweet pink plastic container with a rose on the top in one of the many antique, flea and junk shops there.
 I just love old plastic stuff. Then it was time to wander off back down the country roads spotting lots of places we'd like to live.


 When we got to Binky Hall we spent a while trying to avoid a photographer with a bride and groom. Never having been one for white weddings and being the centre of attention, I'd far rather be partying with my guests than being dragged hither and thither to stare at my beloved at the bottom of an old oak tree. It was quite funny really as they chucked an old couple off a bench so they could sit on it and the kids having fun climbing the tree had to come down. Daft really. 

This is our in love shot as captured by Little Bun. Talking of which it'll be 13 years of wedded doo dah and 14 of being together next weekend.


As we wandered around Binky we decided some of our favourite bits were the faded parts where the gardeners worked. 

Another favourite place is the old bookshop in the stables. We found quite a few reads in there. It's a magical place with worn old armchairs and dust blowing in the shafts of sunlight. I was really pleased when Little Bun chose Northanger Abbey and A Tale of Two Cities. She says she wants to stretch herself and I think she might with a bit of Dickens. I love his stories, but I'm not so keen on reading them. I actually refused to teach Hard Times when I taught A'level English as it was so turgid. I fell asleep every time I opened the book. My Head of Department had to do it in the end as I was so stubborn.

 

Now we've had a birthday and a day out. The last spot of catch-up news is my Monday make which I'm really pleased with. 
I said on Monday I didn't know which to do - sew, paint or knit. In fact I managed all of them so I was very happy indeed. 

I chose a quick sew thing and made a tunic top. I had a metre of black and white check which was destined for something else, but seemed just right for what I had in mind. I ran out fabric and then I had the bright idea of contrasting the yoke in a cheerier floral. I found just what I was looking for in a 1950's apron.


I bound the armholes with a bright blue binding to match and was thrilled with how it turned out. Only thing is in my rush I've gathered the neckline too tightly so I'll need to unpick and sort that out. 

It worked for the day under my favourite old cardi bought from Hennes 25 years ago and still going strong.