Thursday, 30 April 2015

Modern Art and Skip Diving!

Well the weather has been a bit changeable recently hasn't it? Within the space of a few days we've had glorious sun, torrential rain, high winds and then back to sun! English weather - don't you just love it? 
Today I went to the Modern Art gallery in Oxford. I'd seen it advertised and, never having been before, thought I could combine a visit with seeing L. 
The exterior didn't appeal to me that much:
A few years ago we saw an exhibition at the Royal College of Art - we hadn't gone into London specifically to see it, but rather were killing time waiting for something else. The exhibition was a real eye opener - near the entrance was a sort of wooden barrier and R started speculating about the deep meaning behind the 'fence'. I muttered a few comments along the lines of 'come away and stop making a show of us - it's only a partition!' As it turned out, it was actually one of the exhibits and that set the tone for the whole show. There were bits of screwed up tissue on the floor, shampoo bottles painted pink below a smudge on the wall, a pile of juicy fruit chewing gum - in the end we came across a photocopier in the hall and I'm still not sure if it was one of the exhibits or not. Most of the work resembled the junk modelling beloved of nursery children and the deep meaning went way over our heads. Still, it was memorable.
The current exhibition at Modern Art Oxford left me feeling just as bewildered. There was a lot of topiary decorated with litter, hub caps and hair pieces.

L decided that her favourite bit was a photo of someone lying down in Tiananmen Square breathing on the ground until their breath formed a patch of ice. I didn't take a photo, I was too underwhelmed. I think what it boils down to is that the art I appreciate is something that I know I could never do myself and, quite frankly, I could put a wig on a bush and throw a few hub caps around the place. Please tell me if I'm missing something here - I suppose the topiary took some skill but the guide wasn't clear if the artist did that bit or not. I spent a lot of time thinking 'I don't get it' and fighting the urge to giggle childishly. I think maybe I'm just a philistine.  
There were some bits of my trip that I enjoyed:
Lunch in the Vaults and Garden:
Sweet potato and coconut curry and carrot, parsnip and lentil soup - Yum!
Ice cream in G&D's:
Coffee on the right (mine), Blueberry Lemonade on the left (L's)!
Lots of lovely fruit and veg in the covered market:

Admiring some beautiful buildings waiting for L's tutorial to finish:

Whilst waiting for her to come out, I happened to be standing by a skip, watching 2 men filling it with old metal filing cabinets, broken chairs etc. When L emerged, I hugged her and whispered in her ear that there was a small table in said skip that I had my eye on. When we came back later, it was still there, so a little skip diving later (we did ask the college porter's permission too!) and the little wooden Oxford table was ours. It could do with a bit of a revamp (sorry, I didn't take a photo) but it's currently in L's room waiting for the end of term - she needed somewhere to put her mugs as her 'coffee' table is usually buried under books!
A few final happies from my week:
Cypriot olive and oregano bread:
The cherry tree - smaller and much less magnificent than my neighbour's but I love it!
The crabapple - not as bright but beautiful none the less:
My lovely pink carnations - one of my favourites because they last for weeks!
This week's library books:
.... and finally, my hostas - I have to appreciate them at this stage before the snails find them!

That's all for this week - I'd just like to wish everyone a relaxing and sunny Bank Holiday weekend.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Hello there! I'm joining in with Planet Penny's Happy Friday again. The sunny weather continues in these parts which cheers me no end - and I needed a little cheering when term started again on Wednesday. Over the holiday I had got used to E being around during the day and found that I really missed her now she's back at school. So, a bit of sun really helps matters along. 

This week I finally got around to organizing my 'Patchwork on the Go' tins. I had wanted to have a go at patchwork for a while and thought that little patchwork hexagons would be just the thing for carrying around in my bag for opportune moments - nice and light to carry, not too hot to work on, perfect for doing whilst sitting in the car park waiting for E to come out of school etc. I even borrowed Cath Kidston's 'Patch' this week from the library for a bit of inspiration.
Here are my Mother's Day tins from the girls, all set up and ready to go:
...... and here are some of my hexies:
I love everything about my new craft - from drawing round the cute, plastic template to cutting them out, pinning and tacking them and then finally sewing them together. I haven't yet decided what to make with them - there are a few possibilities: the piano stool needs recovering, maybe a cushion or a table runner or a seat cushion cover for the wicker chair in the bedroom. I'll decide at some point, but for the moment I'm quite happy just making them!

With exam stress cranking up, I had another little crafty moment this week. E actually asked me to make her another lavender bag - you can imagine how my little heart swelled with joy at the request - it's very rare that E actually asks me to make her something; mostly, I just inflict things on her! She picked out some scraps from my stash and a happy afternoon's sewing produced:
Apologies for the dreadful photo - the lighting wasn't great and I was trying to avoid the part where it says her name! Anyway, it's now doing sterling work in the relaxation department - either hanging on the end of her bed or sitting next to her as she revises. 

We've done rather well for wildlife this week:
We have a small brown duck that comes to the back door on her own to be fed (most of the others come in pairs or groups). This week, E was thrilled when she actually turned up with a friend:
 E felt she had to take its photo, along with this rather distant shot of a green woodpecker - look closely!
 Me trying to take a photo of the squirrel on the bird table without frightening him off:
 ..... and a peacock butterfly which R found when it hatched out in the garage. 
 Other happies this week include:
Lots and lots of blossom! 
 More blossom!
 The tadpoles developing legs - we're off to the pond this afternoon after school to release them.
 Finally, my new cake colouring pastes:
 Of course, I had to try them out! They're amazing and you only need the tiniest amount to produce really zingy colours - the green is actually much brighter than it appears in the photo:
 So that's it for happy moments this week. Long may this beautiful weather continue and have a wonderful weekend.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Well who would have believed it? Just look at us enjoying some fine Spring weather - blue skies and everything! With L back at uni revising for finals, E and I have been pottering around at home and enjoying time in the garden. 
Here are a few photos to sum up our week:
Washing my quilt for the first time - I was so worried that it was going to shrink or that the colours would run, but it all turned out fine and feels so soft and lovely.
 Hanging a wooden Ladybird postcard that I bought in Blackwell's bookshop; there were some lovely ones and I had difficulty choosing from so many much loved and well remembered books - the duckling won the day though. The hearts were part of my Christmas hamper made by the girls a couple of years ago.
 This week's library books. The Hummingbird Bakery one has been well used ....
The buttermilk pancakes were delicious - I'm not sure who tested the recipe though - it made far more than the stated 8!
We also enjoyed our first cream tea of the year. Sadly, R had polished off the strawberry jam, so we had to make do with apricot. Somehow we coped!
 Making mandalas. 
I'm a bit late coming to the mandala party - not unusually for me - but I really enjoyed making these with some left over yarn. I made 2 .......
 ..... one will be for under a vase of flowers but is currently under E's bowl of tadpoles:
The other is cushioning my clock radio. It tends to have a very faint 'hum' which, when you tune into it in the wee small hours, can be rather annoying.  The mandala helps.
 Other happies include:
Tulips in the front garden: 

 E having a little wander on the island with my camera:
 There are birds nesting in this fissure:

 Our ex-bat girls coming to see me watering the greenhouse - their feathers are now starting to grow back in earnest: 
 My favourite combination - blue sky and blossom:

 E revising in the garden:
 Me keeping her company with a  few knitting blocks:
 Dusting off the hammock when it got a little too hot - yes, April and I'm talking about it being too hot!
 Bees enjoying the Forsythia:
 Me enjoying listening to the baby blue tits in the nest box:
 Finally, brushing the cobwebs off my bike to cycle to the library:
 I cycled all the way there before realizing that L had borrowed my padlock over the holiday, so had to ride home again to collect it!
Anyway, that was my week. How was yours? I hope that the sun is shining for you too. I'm just off to Planet Penny's Happy Friday to see what everyone else has been up to.
Toodle Pip for now. x