Sunday, 30 December 2012


Right now my head is full and I want to write it down.  And so I am breaking rules. You see, Alexa started a monthly post called Simply a Moment.  Participants are invited to contribute by posting mid month, and I don't want to wait that long.  And mid month has already passed. Dilemma.  But anyone who knows me will also know I do not always conform. And so here is my late (or is it early?) post:

It's 6.30pm Sunday evening.  I am sitting at my computer. ' Nothing unusual there', I hear my family saying...  The TV is on in the other room.  No one bothered to turn it off but we will be back in there soon. A nice film is planned, another relaxed evening. My body is tired and wants nothing more.  A waft of curry cooking drifts along the hall.  B is cooking in the kitchen, using left over turkey.  I hope he has added sultanas. The thought crosses my mind to call him and ask, but I don't.  Instead I gaze at the clutter on my desktop. A Christmas globe, it's glitter shining in the halogen light.  There is a slot in the centre where you slide a double sided photo.  The acetate cover is lopsided on top, removed a couple of weeks ago to see where the photos fitted.  Other globes sit in a bag on the floor.  I planned to put photos in each of these as Christmas presents for family. Sadly these and other presents went unfinished. I wonder whether to finish them and give as presents for next Christmas, or to wait and use more up to date photos...

My thoughts are interrupted by B coming in.  'Do I want chips or rice with my curry'?  He rubs my back as he talks, it's relaxing and I don't want him to stop.  My head feels tight, not achy but tense. I am looking forward to doing nothing...  B walks away and comes back with my glass of wine. I'd left it in the kitchen.  It's a deep dark red, I lift the glass and let the wine linger in my mouth to feel the richness of flavour, then take another sip before putting the glass on my mouse mat.  The mat is aged now, but a gift from a special friend. She had photos of us printed on it, taken on holidays together. One of her peering through a tiny entrance in a wall.  Another of a cake stand, and  memories of a tea room in Southport come flooding back..... of elegance I had not experienced before or since.  I smile as I look at the photos, notice the grubby corner.  I have a new mouse-mat on my desk, bought in the sale. I look at the kittens face on the packaging. 'Your photo here' it boldly invites. I look again at my old familiar mat and think that a wipe over will refresh and give it a new lease of life. My mind flitters, I take another sip of wine. It warms and comforts me. The tension loosens in my head. I swallow slowly, enjoying the rich body of flavour, the smell of curry, noises from the kitchen telling me it will soon be served.


Tuesday, 25 December 2012


This year we have been busy planning Christmas and a funeral, so sadly no time for the post I had had in mind. I just want to take this chance to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and everything you wish for yourself. 

Thursday, 13 December 2012


I can't believe how long ago I last posted.  Life has happened in between and there have been some wonderful highs, and some difficult lows.  And this random post is my attempt to fill some of the gap.

I am currently getting used to Windows 8. Have you tried this yet?  I had it on my new laptop but this weekend I also have it on my new computer. A super duper fast one that my son hand built. It knocks the socks off my old computer and Windows 8 was already installed, so it's a case of sink or swim!  Shutting down and some other functions are very long winded compared to older versions of Windows but I may find there are short cuts as I get more familiar. And there are a lot of good things about it including some of the apps you can download. I am going to have lots of fun with Photofunia!

Not so good, is my father in law. He had a fall recently and broke his ankle. He did this a few months ago... that time he broke the other one.  At 95 he is a constant worry to the family but he was adamant he wants to live in his own home. We arranged carers and an alarm he could press to call for help, all of which he begrudged and did not want.  Sadly this time it looks as though he will not return to his home. Twice we have been told his time could be limited and family took turns to be with him 24/7. The hospital decided they have done as much as they can and we were pressured into finding residential care.  We fought hard to find somewhere of our choosing, which luckily is local. He is receiving the best care possible but aging is not something I look forward to if this is what it means.

On a brighter note, our small team at work has won an award for Innovative Practice. It makes all the hard work and high pressure worth while. Recently we made Christmas cards to sell and this was a huge success. Some patients enjoyed it so much they decided to buy their own materials and make more at home. We have done other things too, such as take photos to illustrate a brochure that I am putting together.  Being able to use some of my creativity at work is quite exciting and there are more plans in the making. 

If you follow my blog you may recall we bought some new furniture recently.  Well, things have moved on since then.  The bookcase is painted and when it is completed I will show before and after pictures.  We thought we would have to cut a piece out of the top to fit into the alcove.  Guess what?  It fitted PERFECTLY with millimetres to spare!  I knew it was meant for us, the moment I saw it in the antique shop.  And while I dismantled and painted the bookcase the room looked like this...

.... because somehow we decorated around the mayhem.  But we are slowly making headway. I am now painting the chairs in this photo, and next will be the pine table and a large dresser base. We are planning new curtains, and rug, and we also have ideas for the fire surround.  

Meanwhile, we had problems with some of our kitchen doors. Ikea have been amazing and exceptional in their customer service. They have changed the colour of our units but managed to source replacements from Sweden and arrange prompt delivery. I can not praise Ikea more. The doors have now been replaced and we plan to renew the worktops and make a few other small changes.  Then my kitchen will look like new again.  Hopefully all in time for Christmas, leaving time to decorate in a more festive way!

Yes... it's that time of year that creeps up and jumps out at me. Yet again!  I had hoped to be better organised this year but I should know better by now.  At least my cards are made and most sent. Not many presents bought yet and not much thought given to it either, but I am not stressing.  My daughter suggested that I make pillow cases for each of my 3 granddaughters. Each to be dyed a different colour, and personalised with applique. So I have four metres of organic bamboo valour on it's way, that I bought on line.  When will I have time to do this?  I can't imagine, I just know I will. Because sometimes I accept that I need to prioritise time and be focused.  It means I do less of other things I enjoy, but ploughing on in a determined way means I achieve what I set out to do. Some of what I have accomplished has been long-term planned. And once the house has become home again I have other things I want to do. I am looking forward to 2013 because this will be the start of more change. It is an exciting time, but first there is Christmas and this year my family are all here.

Better get the painting finished then!!!                                                                 


Sunday, 4 November 2012


I am still buzzing. ..

Yesterday I visited a Book Fair at a local art studio.  Now, I would not have taken notice as my house is bursting with books, and actually I am trying to re-home many of them.  

But then my friend said ‘hand made’. 

And what I saw blew me away... local talent that I didn't know existed.  I had a wonderful afternoon and got to know some of the artists, shared ideas and learned more about their work.  And I have been invited to have a stand at the next Fair to exhibit my own books and albums!  Another door opens, and I am so excited!

And last week I went to a local craft shop where Andy Skinner was doing demonstrations. I could have stayed all day!  Rather than set workshops Andy just rolled from technique to technique, asking if anyone wanted to know anything in particular. It was very informal and relaxed and my head was spinning with all the ideas and notes I was taking.  Andy offers online tutorials and workshops so if you are interested in a Book of Secrets, like this one, check out his website.  

November is certainly proving to be a fun-filled month! I am looking forward my Belstead retreat 23rd to 25th, and next weekend is my monthly crop.  

And sandwiched inbetween,  on 16th to 18th is Jennifer's ‘Frosty 
Festivities’. Over that weekend there will be posts every hour 
from 4pm-10pm Friday, and 10am-10pm Saturday and Sunday (GMT), 
all on the theme of 'Winter' including tips, tutorials, challenges, crafts, a blog hop, and lots of giveaways.  So why not check it out and join in the November fun!  

Thursday, 25 October 2012


Driving home from work I was mentally writing this blog post. But I just couldn't think of a title and somehow it felt important to choose the 'right' one.  Then this evening, just as I was about to press the TV 'off' button... the final words of a presenter...

I rewound twice, listening hard... 

Totes Amaze?!  

Was I mis-hearing?  

A quick Google search, and there it was!  My title!!

Now, I'm not one for 'cool' phrases, but I could not let this one pass me.  It was EXACTLY what I was looking for.  And perhaps it will become clear as you read on....

Saturday saw us sitting round the table.  We agreed that indecision kept us stuck and that what ever the outcome, we would live with the consequence.  And so, we took the decision to move a radiator onto another wall and to move a large dresser base to where it had stood. No turning back....  
Then we measured a recess.  I wanted a bookcase with cupboard at the bottom and shelves above, and for it to fill as much of the space as possible.  We agreed we did not want to buy new as we wanted something with character and a one-off.  Choices were to make it ourselves or buy antique? Now my husband is good at making things but he has lots going on and I didn't want this to be drawn out. On the other hand...  what were the chances of finding the perfect piece of furniture that would fit that space?  We both agreed.... it would be slim.  Of course, we might find it over time, but as I said, I didn't want this drawn out. And so we agreed we would also look for a base unit with the option of making book shelves.

So, we set out with tape and sizes written down. I'm not sure how much I believed it, but I told my husband confidently, "if it is meant to be, it will be there".  

We found one bookcase but it was too narrow, and then we went to another antique centre.  

Now.... here I have to digress a little.

A couple of weeks back I visited a friend. She had just bought an antique piano stool which she had stripped, painted, and  recovered. She proudly showed me what a clever design it was. Because the front pulled open and inside was an ample magazine rack. The top lifted off, and turned over, it could be used as a lap tray.  She had decorated and varnished the top of the box so that could be used as a side table. And with the padded top in place, it could also be used as a foot stool or a seat.  

Are you getting the picture?  A small piece of furniture but with so many uses. I decided I had to have one too!  But I imagined my chances of finding one similar, let alone the same, would be VERY slim.  

But guess what?!  There was one in the antique shop with a price tag I could afford. And what's more, it was already stripped and painted the exact colour I would have chosen! I could not believe my luck! And needless to say it was paid for and in my car before I could blink. It wasn't what I had come out to buy but my day was already made.

Then we wandered into the next building.

And guess what?!  

There was 'the' bookcase.  

We measured.  

It was the perfect size.

I was in a daze by now.... 

TWO pieces of furniture bought within the space of about 15 minutes, and both of which I thought would be difficult to track down. 

And, if you haven't guessed why the heading for this post felt so right, it is because it summed up my experience perfectly and that this word also came just when I was looking for it.  

"If it is meant to be, it will be there".  And it was.

Totes Amaze!  


Monday, 1 October 2012

Hello Monday!

Hello Monday.... today our interior design has pushed all limits.
We have a tent erected in our dining room in an attempt to dry it after a wet and windy week in North Yorkshire.

Hello Monday.... coming back from holiday is always an anticlimax, especially when it had been planned and looked forward to for so long.

Hello Monday.... the washing machine and tumble dryer have been going endless.  I am not thinking about the ironing.

Hello Monday.... we ate well but I still bought home enough food for a weekly shop. Note to self: Pack less in future.

Hello Monday.... I now have a freezer full of sausages after getting carried away at Roger's of Masham.

Hello Monday....  I have used meat from the freezer to make space for the sausages.  No - that is not logical, but at least there is a good smell of curry cooking.

Hello Monday.... coming back from holiday is always easier when you can ease yourself back into work. A day off today for unpacking and a training tomorrow means a shorter working week.

Hello Monday.... I'm looking forward to an evening with girl friends tomorrow. We have all been away and have lots of catching up to do!

Hello Monday.... I have booked a place at Lizzie's Craft Residential in March.  I love having things to look forward to, especially during the cold and winter months.

Hello Monday.... this Saturday I will be at Eclectic Keepsakes and Ann Freeman is running the class.  That is another thing to look forward to.

Hello Monday.... You are October.  You have come round too quick. I have made notes daily for Learn Something New Every Day and so far I have not completed one page in my album.

Hello Monday.... October means my blog e-course is also completed. I am WAY behind.  No pressure, but other things are planned and will not wait.....

Hello Monday.... here is a reminder to take the week gently and to enjoy each day as it comes.

Friday, 21 September 2012


I have so enjoyed Rinda's Scavenger Hunt 2012.  This is my first time of taking part and I know I will be signing up again. My whole family have been involved at times and I have lots of stories of how some of the photos came about. Some have been told herehere and here,  but sadly I am pressed for time. So for now the photos will have to tell the rest of the story for themselves.  Here is all 21...  

I look forward to popping by to see what others have posted on this final day.  And I will miss the challenge.  But here's to new ones, and a very big Thank You to Rinda for organising this.

It has been fun!!

Sunday, 2 September 2012


September always brings a fresh air of excitement.   It is the time of year when schools and colleges restart and there is a sense of anticipation.  I love learning and I have enrolled on two online courses this month, Learn Something New Every Day, and 30 Days to Done.  Now this is a new class to me, and already I am buzzing with excitement with ideas shared in Day 1.  I’ll tell you more another time.

Because right now I want to tell you about the Circus.  

Last week I went to a Country Show and there, in all its glory, was a big top.  Now as far as I am concerned age is a number and the excitement of the circus stirs now as much as it always did.  So once seated I was even more exited to learn that this was a circus school, and some of the acts we were about to see were performed by students.  Others were professional acts who were also teachers and mentors, and everyone gave amazing performances.  But the act that took my breath away was the trapeze artists.  Without any safety harness they swung just by hooking their feet or fingertips, their skills and trust in each other was awe inspiring.

And this took me back to my own school days.  For me, life is a learning experience and I felt removed from learning shut in four walls with subjects that did not grab my interest or attention.  Outside we had a school farm and vegetable patch.  There was gardening to do, animals to care for.  But the children who were considered slow learners used to have lessons there, and all I could do was look at the window and feel resentful.

But once the bell rang I felt free.  I would head straight for the riding school where I had lessons.  Joan, the owner of the riding school was a renowned circus performer with her Palomino stallion, Goldie.  She was semi-retired and only performed on TV or in local shows at this time.  But the stables also happened to be the winter base for the circus.  And in the huge barn there were trampolines, high wires and a trapeze.  Whenever any of the performers practiced their acts I would stand mesmerized.  I remember tiny dogs that performed tricks, and sometimes I would be allowed to go on the trampoline.  Luckily Joan was always grateful for willing hands to muck out stables and help groom the ponies, so when not in school, that’s where I would be!

And  through Joan, I also met Bill.  He lived about 5 miles from my home and he also had a horse that he had trained to do acts, and he would lead all the local Carnival processions.  But as well as the horse, Bill had a small private zoo.  There were 2 lions, a llama, monkeys, sheep and a whole range of other animals.  And Bill also appreciated help with looking after them!  I remember an old electric milk cart with a long handle that I used to carry the food and water to feed the animals.  I never was allowed to go in with the lions (probably a good thing, or I might not be here to tell the tale!) but I was allowed to take one of the money’s out on a lead.  It was a small Rhesus monkey called Rastas, and it would sit in the hood of my anorak.  And believe it or not, I would go up to a local cafe for breakfast or lunch, take Rastas, and he would sit at the table with me.  Can you imagine that now, with our Health and Safety regulations!!  How times have changed, and how glad I am that life was so different during my childhood.

After time, Bill had to close his zoo because of concerns that the cages were too small for the animals welfare. I was there the day Mary Chipperfield came to collect the lions to take to her family circus.  TV cameras were filming and it was on local news.  My photo appeared in the local newspaper, taken with the animals.  And can you wonder why, for me, school was so dull and un-inspiring?  And my experience influenced my decision to home educate my own children. But that’s another story.....

Sian hosts the monthly gathering of 'Story Telling Sunday'. To take part or read other stories please do visit Sian here, you will be made very welcome. 

Thank you for popping by!!


Saturday, 1 September 2012


This summer has been made extra fun by taking part in Rinda's Photo Scavenger Hunt.  My family got involved at times and I needed just two more photo's to complete my list.  I thought I might come across a pier or fountain during my travels, but no such luck.  

However, there is a pier a-drive-away, so I set off  with my husband for company.  On our way we made a detour to see the Olympic Mountain Bike track.  The road was lined with flags and the sculptures were a lovely surprise along the route.

And then we reached the coast.  

Now, this was when my problem arose. Because Southend pier is the longest in the world, extending 1.34 miles or 2.16 kms from land.  And in a photo it looks like a line across the horizon! 

Poor photos, but nonetheless, a pier!  Mission accomplished!  

And then, just to make my evening complete, Brian spotted a fountain along the waterfront.  Not just one, but a display of fountains that changed colour and height!!  

We ended our evening watching the fountains, while we sat in the car eating fish & chips.  A perfect end to a perfect evening.  

I will miss this challenge now it is completed.  I plan to make the photos into a collage, and I may just have to think up another idea to keep me busy with my camera in the months to come!

Saturday, 11 August 2012


Todays post is part of Shimelle's 10 THINGS ON THE TENTH.  I like to have a theme or a focus, so this monthly round up is an opportunity to share 10 things.  On this occasion, 10 photos: 

We recently took our camper to Chatham to have some modifications carried out.  I had done a Google search to see what was in the area as we were told the work would take about 5 hours.  There was the historical Dockyard but we have been there recently, so asked one of the engineers on our arrival.  'There's a childrens ball pool and a Tesco down the road', he suggested.  Not quite what I'd hoped for!  And so we turned to my son's phone for ideas and used it as a sat nav, heading for a 'fort'.  We had no idea what this would be like.  A grass area with a sign saying 'This was the site' came to mind, but hey, it was a destination and the weather was good.  So we set off and decided to take a short cut through what looked like a park.  

And that's where our day turned into something of a surprise and excitement.  Because we were greeted with this path.

Now.  We had already walked a good way down the path before I took this photo and came across an information board.  And that's when I learnt that this area is known as 'The Chiltern Lines' and that they form part of the country's best preserved defence for the 18th century dockyard.  A Dutch Raid in 1667 showed their navy could sail up the river unimpeded and to stop this happening again the river and its approaches became heavily fortified.  In order to do this, local farmers and residents were cleared from the land, so that the area allowed good range for firing cannons.  Of course, locals were upset about no longer having access to this land and there were some uprisings, and even today there are strict regulations about what the land can be used for.  It is now a Heritage Park.

Further on we came to an amazing naval monument dedicated to those who lost their lives at sea during the 2 world wars.  Names were written not only on the monument but around all the walls inside.  It's position and record of so many people left a lasting impression and it can not be captured in a photo.  

But there was still more to come!  Because when we reached our destination we discovered this too was Britian's largest Nepoleonic Fort!  How has this escaped us?  We enjoy travel books and programmes, visiting places of interest and local history.  OK, Chatham is not exactly local to us, but we have visited the area in the past and we research before we go.  But not knowing, actually, was all the more special because we had surprise upon surprise:


You can go for underground tours in the fort, which we left for another time, and amongst the old there was the new. At Chatham marina this block of flats looked eye catching with its face of blue glass. 

And the colour of these blackberries also made me stop.   A sign that fruit is ripening in the hedgerow and that it is the season for harvesting.  

Some of the photos I took on the day will be included in Rinda's Scavenger Hunt.   And some opportunities were lost.  There were people playing ball in the Chatham Lines Heritage Park, and piers along the river.  I just didn't think of taking these photos at the time.  But not to worry.  They provide a reason to go out again and I don't need much of an excuse!  
And I love it all the more when the day brings unexpected  surprises.....

Sunday, 5 August 2012


I am a member of Bookcrossing and recently decided I would become more active and involved. I have too many books so it is a good opportunity to pass some on, and I have been 'releasing' books in places such as tea rooms, and an antique centre.... just leaving a book on a table, so that someone else can find and enjoy it.  

And I thought a book about flower arranging would be great to leave in a garden centre, so while no one was looking I popped it among a display.   

There are some official Bookcrossing 'Zones'.  These are recognised places where people release or find books and I made a recent visit to one within a local tea room.  Now, I already said that my plan is to reduce my book collection, so I hadn't reckoned on bringing as many home as I left!  But one was by my favourite author (Elizabeth Berg) and the other two are good summer reading.  Oh well, these can go back in my pile one day, as books to hide somewhere for someone else to find. 

I love quirky things, and so imagine my excitement when I discovered another official 'zone' is a village phone box, you know the kind, the lovely red traditional box that once decorated our streets.  It seems the local council asked the villagers if they would like to make use of this one when it became redundant.  It is now the place where people post local events, and there is a shelf for books.  As you can imagine, it is on my list of  places to visit this summer, and I am putting a bag of books together to take with me.

Meanwhile, on holiday, my granddaughters joined in the fun.  We left books on the campsite and in a play area.  But the mouth of a  crocodile was the perfect place to sneak a children's book or two....

And what fun to leave a book in a Police Box!

Or hanging from a tree!

And while the fun is leaving books for others to find, there is the additional fun and hope that someone will one day enter a books unique number into Bookcrossing and leave a short journal.  And imagine my joy when someone did that, this week.  And they also became a Bookcrossing member.  So who knows, they may release the book again after reading it and then we can both follow it's journey!  

On Tuesday I plan to meet with other members of the local group in a pub.  They have warmly welcomed me and told me to bring a large bag for any books I want to take home!  Looks like I shall be busy releasing books and looking for more interesting places to leave them, but what a fun way to spend summer!

This post is part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday.  You can read more here.  Sian suggested that we think of something involving love for this months story.  Well, my love of books is qualification!!
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