Friday, 26 February 2016

Bits and Bobs

 Hello there. Not much to report from this past week or so I'm afraid. Half term was mainly spent doing this:
The time had come to decorate our dining room - actually, the time came and went a long time ago; it was long overdue! Various leaks whilst R was draining the radiator in L's room and doing the bathroom meant that the ceiling was covered in water marks that needed to be sealed before the painting could begin. That, as it turned out, was the easy part. The trickiest bit was deciding on a colour. It used to be 'pointing' by our good friends Farrow and Ball - a sort of creamy white. R was apparently 'fed up' of neutral and wanted something a little more colourful. Tester pots were bought (many of them!) and the walls took on a patchwork type appearance. The girls and I liked 'Ballet' by Homebase; a definite pink. R liked F&B's 'setting plaster', which looked pinkish in the pot but dried to quite a dark brown. He vetoed our pink and we returned the compliment with his brown. In the end, our compromise was F&B's 'pink ground' and none of us is entirely sure about it but at least it's fair! I quite like it in bright light where it is a definite pink with the lovely chalky tones for which F&B are famous. In some lights, however, it can be a pale terracotta (not bad) or occasionally quite peachy (not so good!). Here it is against a painting we bought in Cornwall some time ago - what do you think? Pink, peach, terracotta or just plain yuk?!
I try to cheer myself up with the thought that at least it's freshly painted yuk, with no water marks and it is a definite colour. I'm not sure it entirely goes with the curtains either but Hey Ho!
The next problem was the paint for the woodwork. R likes gloss - which I do too but (and it's a big but) it does tend to yellow, which I hate. I wanted a 'no yellowing, brilliant white' paint, which just happened to be acrylic - R hates acrylic. You see, nothing is ever easy. In the end, we went with a satin wood paint, slightly shinier than egg shell, and I'll let you know if it yellows or not. That is, if it lasts that long - R doesn't like the texture. It feels rather rough, compared to gloss and he claims that it shows every brush mark. I'm prepared to live with the brushmarks as long as they're white brushmarks and argue that no one sane actually goes round fondling the skirting boards.  He would rather have it smooth and yellow! Does anyone else have similar decorating problems or is it just us? If anyone can recommend a brand of white, gloss paint that doesn't turn jaundiced as soon as you turn your back, we'd be very grateful! Anyway, at least it's finished. Now we just need to do the living bit of the room, the kitchen, downstairs loo, hall, stairs and landing and then the bathroom - don't get me started on the bathroom!

There have been a few happies this week -
Another trip to Oxford:

The main purpose of the visit (apart from the fact that I just like going) was a trip here:
I was hoping to get a nice tablecloth for the dining table - something to draw the eye away from the wall colour and the clashing curtains! No luck though, I'm afraid. I did, however, find a nice little bag to keep my sock yarn in. I had tried just popping it in my bag for pulling out at opportune moments but the stitches had a nasty tendency to fall off the needles, so my new little bag is perfect. I think it was actually intended as a little lunch bag, but I won't tell it if you don't :)  Anyway, here it is:
Which meant that I could have a bit of sock action in the school car park waiting for E: 
 Another highlight of my trip was a jasmine bubble tea from the best tea shop in Oxford - Yum!
Gloucester Green open air market yielded some glass dangly (spelling?) things. I bought them because I thought that if I strung them up in the window, they might throw rainbows round the room. Well, either they don't work, or it just hasn't been sunny enough round these parts. So, for the time being, I've attached them to the light fitting and it's pretending that it's a chandelier!
My other recent purchase is a pair of new boots; my old winter ones are worn out and no longer any good at keeping my feet dry. These are Doc Martin Triumph 1914 boots, complete with ribbons and floral lining. I love them and they're well worth the blisters until I wear them in and the extra 10 minutes required to lace them up in the morning! Please excuse the pilling much in evidence on my woolly tights:
Finally, I thought I'd leave you with a note found in the kitchen this week. We have a house rule that the first person up feeds the rabbit. Unfortunately (or fortunately in Hamish's case), there is sometimes a little confusion and Hamish can end up having 2 breakfasts. To prevent this, L had left this propped by his food bowl:
..... and indeed he was!

Toodle Pip for now. x

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Rag Rugging and Snowdrops

Morning all. Well, here we are in half term and, for once, the weather isn't half bad - more winter sun and frosts than the usual dismal grey skies. Unfortunately, E is bogged down with English Literature coursework and has A2 mocks looming as well, so there won't be much gadding about for us this week. 
There have been a few highlights though. Our local library is currently holding a 'Library Fest' with various exciting and, more importantly, free workshops. Saturday saw me doing a rag rugging one, held by textile artist Kath Hutchings. It was brilliant - easy, fun and green. Never again will I throw away old T shirts; they'll all be cut up into 1cm strips and rugged!
Here are a few photos of Kath's work: 

Fun aren't they? For the workshop, we were making pennants spelling out 'Library Fun'. I was put in charge of the letter 'F'. The tool and method were familiar as they were similar to those I used  for my heart picture last year. We were a little limited in terms of time, so the aim was to just do the letter and a border.

Here are the finished pennants. Someone still needs to do the 'b':
On Valentine's Day, we did our annual visit to Welford Park  to see their snowdrops. You may be familiar with the setting as it's where they've held The Great British Bake Off competition for the past couple of years. Every spring they open the gardens to the public for charity.
 There is a short walk to get to the woods. Over a wooden bridge:

Getting closer:
Spotting a few:
   ..... and there we are. Stunning isn't it?
It was a lovely, dry cold day and we sat in the estate garden enjoying a flask of hot tea and some cookies that the girls had made.
Then it was back home to light the stove and watch the rugby:
It was a Valentine's Day well spent. 
Other happies so far this week:
My new charity shop find. There are some lovely projects that I have my eye on:
Spotting a green woodpecker in the garden - please try to avert your eyes from all the weeds and focus on the bird!
Enjoying my current favourite lunch - avocado and poached egg on toast:
Starting knitting  my first ever sock:
 My Valentine's roses from R. He knows I'm not keen on red roses, so plumped for a rainbow bunch:
 ... and finally, catching Hamish sat on the coffee table 'helping' E with her homework!
Anyway, that's all for this week. If it's your half term too, I hope you have a good one.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Dorset Blanket Ta-Dah!

Greetings! I hope everyone has weathered the recent storm okay. It was very wet and windy around here but, fortunately, no damage. I finally finished E's Dorset Blankie this weekend. It has taken me ages - I started it on our post-AS exam trip to Dorset in June, rippling a row on every beach we visited and dragging it along in the car to do a bit on every uni open day (R was driving!). I had a bit of a lull over the summer when it was too hot to work on it, but happily picked it up again in the autumn. The plan is that she will (hopefully!) take it with her to uni next year, just in case her room is a bit nippy. I also think that a bit of homemade loveliness can sometimes add some much needed character. 
Anyway, here are the obligatory photos:
Ta-Dah! The 'me standing on the coffee table shot':
The 'draped on the sofa' shot:
Along the ripples:
Folded on the arm of the sofa:
...... and finally, with its blankety buddies:
The pattern is, as always, thanks to the lovely Lucy at attic24 and the yarn was a pack from Wool Warehouse. I think I'll have a bit of a break from blanket making now and maybe try my hand at a pair of socks. I bought some sock yarn and needles from a shop in Oxford last year and it has been waiting patiently for me to find the time and courage!

Other happies this week:
Seeing Fergus enjoying some left over vegetable biryani:
 Listening to an audio CD whilst darning in ends:
 My new hyacinth bulbs - I really must try and find a prettier pot:
On a visit to the pound shop to buy some more fat balls for the birds, I impulse bought some tubers. I planted a Dahlia last year and it impressed me with its lovely colour and the fact that it flowered for ages, so I thought a few more would be a good plan. Just a little survey: how do you pronounce the word 'Dahlia'? I've always said it like 'Daylia' but I've heard a few people recently saying it 'Darlia' (like the lentil curry). So I'm wondering if I'm embarrassing myself saying it wrong and people are being too polite to correct me!
 Enjoying this months CH&I and my rosy 'chores notebook'.  I don't know about anyone else but I'm always better if I make a list of things to be done that day. It stops me forgetting stuff and it's immensely satisfying to tick things off as I go. 
 Loving my bedside posy:
 February's garden photo - it was windy and pouring down. That also accounts for the poor light levels in the other photos. 
 Hamish sitting on his mat and enjoying the storm. He's also moulting at the moment and there are fur bunnies everywhere!
 Finally, Penny and Brenda coming inside to watch the rugby at the weekend!
Anyway, that's all for this week. Keep warm and cosy and remember, spring is just around the corner.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Thursday, 4 February 2016


Hello there! Thank you for dropping by, it's so lovely to see you. Can you believe we're in February already? Where on Earth did January disappear to? After a week of stormy weather - with both Gertrude and Henry making their presence felt around these parts - I popped into town the other day and just had to stop and take a photo of the blue sky behind our town hall. It made such a pleasant change from the grey that we've been having. I don't know about you but a bit of sun and blue sky makes all the difference to how I'm feeling and cheers me up no end. 
I only popped in to return some library books but then decided to do a quick trawl of the charity shops whilst I was there. I came away with 3 children's books. I love the stories and illustrations of the Little Grey Rabbit books and despite the fact that my girls are now FAR, FAR too old for them, I couldn't resist buying them. I returned home and settled down with a cup of tea for a quiet little read.  It was lovely but it did make me long for the days when I would have had 2 little girls sitting beside me as I read. L made a comment this week to the effect of 'one day you put your child down and you will never pick it up again'. Well, that thought had me sobbing all night and I can feel myself getting a little teary again just typing this. Those of you with children small enough, go and pick them up and hug them right now!
My second trip into town was to do a decopatch workshop at our local craft shop. I had meant to put this down on my 50 list but never got around to it. Basically, it's just ripping and glueing for grown ups and it was so easy and fun. The decopatch glue has a sort of varnish added, so it dries hard and shiny. As a little bonus, any that you get on your skin you can spend a merry 10 minutes doing that 'skin peely offy' thing with!
I took a few photos of the shop.
Actually, this was the little 'Flowerpot Cafe' just outside. It's very cute and the food is apparently lovely, although I didn't try it out on this occasion. Note that we're back to that grey sky!
 Here, tucked in the corner, is Rainbows where the workshop was held. The models outside were a bit of a give away: 
A quick shot of the inside of the shop. It was quite small but packed to the brim with various craft materials:
 Just a small selection of the paper available. The paper itself was very thin like tissue, but the dye penetrated very deep so that when you ripped it, you weren't left with a white edge.

 As it was my first time, I chose a small cardboard rabbit. Apparently though, you can decopatch just about anything. They even had a pair of shoes that someone had done! Here's my bunny in progress:
 And the finished article. The glue is quite quick drying, so I was able to take him home immediately. I'm not sure what Hamish will make of it but I'm sure it will come in useful for Easter!

Just one more thing this week: sadly, E failed her driving test! She stopped briefly on a hill and then had difficulty getting going again. She didn't roll backwards or anything horrific and she only paused for about 5 seconds, but some impatient person saw the L plate and overtook her so it was an automatic fail for 'holding someone up'. We've re-booked for during the Easter holidays but hope to get an earlier cancellation. Fingers crossed that we do - these lessons are blooming expensive!

Anyway, that's all for this week. 
Toodle Pip for now. x