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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Back soon, fingers crossed

Damn, I have to go into hospital for a few days, to see what is happening to my poor insides. Bag is packed, knitting is in, I hope to check back here in about a week. Wish me luck, I'm not looking forward to it. xxx

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Sitting and making

I am spending some quiet time at home, making things and resting up. These little mice are a work in progress. They are not hard to sew, but they are quite fiddly, especially when you don't have magic sewing hands.
When I was growing up, in the 60s and 70s, soft toy making was very popular. Some of my mum's friends produced the most amazing animals, dolls and figures. She had one especially talented friend who made tiny felt mice, much more complicated than my pattern, which she dressed in little hand stitched Liberty print dresses and aprons. The village Women's Institute would run craft competitions and the standard of entries was amazing. I can remember a whole family of knitted Wind in the Willows characters - Toad, Mole, Ratty, the whole gang. I am sure this is why I enjoy the whole Mollie Makes magazine phenomenon so much. It's a real burst of nostalgia with a contemporary spin.

Here is my workstation.

And, I did have to leave the house once, on an emergency dash for boys' sport socks. They were left off the summer holiday shopping list. The nearest source was Matalan, which is where I spotted this:

A welcome splash of colour amongst the mustard and ginger shades....

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Messing about on boats

Each year, around this time, I look out for a small sign that goes up outside a local boat club, advertising its open day. It's such a lovely event, with a swing band, and a few stalls and games, all set beside the River Nene. The great draw for me, though, is the boat trips, where members of the club make their craft available to take visitors on short voyages. I've said before that the area we live in has very gentle, pastoral scenery, and the best way to see it is most definitely from the water.

Here we go:

Our turnaround point was the village of Fotheringhay. It is a beautiful place, and famous for its castle ruin, where Mary Queen of Scots lost her head. The remains are really just a mound, but the village church is still very much intact.

As I am still feeling very delicate at the moment, with a powerful cocktail of medication whizzing round my body, chugging along the river at 4mph felt just about right, especially with the late summer sun shining on my face. I'll be back next year for another trip. And as for this old lady (below), we were told that she was at Dunkirk. Never underestimate an old crock!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Apples and autumn days

The apple season seems to be earlier than usual this year. As well as our own Bramley tree dropping mellow windfalls on to the lawn, a neighbour has offered me a couple of bags this weekend, too, and I can never turn down free food. As predicted, I haven't strayed far from home this week, and am trying hard to take it easier, but baking is never really a chore. The classic crumble never fails:

Apple and ginger pudding comes from my new Jane Cumberbatch recipe book, and it is awesome. I'd use less apples than the recipe said next time (too much juice!) but otherwise, it is spot on.

Autumn fashion is in my mind, too, but I must admit that I'm finding it hard to get very excited about it this year. I haven't been shopping on the high street, but the catalogues that usually give me so many ideas just haven't been inspiring.

It's not just the prices, which seem to have soared (Kew: £100 for a skirt, and Boden: £90 for a day time dress). In some cases, I'm just not loving the look. Most knitted dresses aren't flattering to anyone who has had a couple of children, unless they spend loads of time in the gym, and the tribal/batik look and block colours aren't doing it for me at all. Even White Stuff is so-so, although admittedly I haven't been into a store yet. The only label that really seems to have it right is Clarks, who have some truly lush boots. Oh, and Sainsburys has the occasional find. I popped this top in with my groceries this week:

  I've never got a lavish budget for clothes, but I do love them, and with a mish mash of high street and charity shop, I enjoy putting things together. I'll bide my time, and if I do spot something good, I'll report back.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Making = therapy!

I've been making some little packs of vintage trimmings for my friend's shop. I'm using finds from my summer car boot expeditions and charity shop trawls. I love going through my bags and boxes, and parting with this lovely loot doesn't feel so bad when the results look this pretty.

I've made some bags of buttons, too.

Life has to travel a little more slowly at present. For over 20 years now, I have had ulcerative colitis, which is one of those chronic illnesses that comes and goes. Sometimes, I am absolutely fine, and go for months with no symptoms, but other times, it's like having a permanent tummy bug, and really not very pleasant. I work around it, and try never to let it get the better of me (there are very few effective treatments and believe me, I've tried 'em all), but sometimes, I need to take it really easy. So, while early morning antiques fairs and boot sales may be off the agenda for a while, it means I can spend time sorting out what I've collected and hopefully turning it into a little bit of pocket money instead.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Signs and letters

Sunday mornings have gone quiet again as the football season has started. Husband and younger son are out of the house early for their weekly match. This means that I am free to go on some small adventures. This morning, I drove into the Fens to the Whittlesey Festival to see what I could find. The main attraction was a vintage fleamarket that I'd seen advertised. This was very small, and although I picked up one or two nice little things, I'd soon finished and I then enjoyed a stroll around the rest of the festivities. I loved the small rural museum in the town centre, which is where I saw these wonderful signs.

I have a fascination with typefaces and letters. I collect ABC books and printing sets. I'm the daughter of an old school graphic designer (pre-computer), raised with Letraset and the names of different fonts, so perhaps that's why. I found lots to see this morning in the most unlikely places...

I seem to be developing an interest in vintage vehicles, especially when they come in amazing colours, like this little Austin van. I want it!

The Fens are strange: totally flat with vast, expansive skies, rather bleak, yet a bit 'ugly/beautiful.' The towns are slightly run down, yet with amazing Georgian buildings and pretty old town centres full of extremely old fashioned shops. Fashion shops called 'Esme's' and a department store that I mistook for a charity shop...much more characterful than soul-sapping, anonymous malls, though. I hope they last.

  Anyway, here are the some of the fruits of my morning's shopping. A pretty linen sachet and a Tala cake tin (a useable one, too, it is in lovely condition inside and it was only £6):

Friday, 9 September 2011

Autumn edit

Phew, it has been quite a week, with two boys starting two new schools. Different routines, timetables, uniforms. So far, so good, I think I probably worry more than they do. Last night, it was time to take a short break so I hopped over the wire into the field behind our house. I took a bowl to pick blackberries, but really I just enjoyed the late evening sunshine. It's an overgrown pasture, with a pond buried deep in the middle, and although dog walkers go there, I never encounter a soul on my route.
The hedges are thick with red berries. The blackberries are patchy, but some of the other bushes are weighed down with fruit. Lots of elderberries, rosehips and hawthorn berries. 

The leaves are turning already.

Like many people, I've been paring down costs as much as I can, but magazines are something that it's difficult to forgo. These are my top three. This month's Country Living is back on form, and BBC Homes and Antiques is just brilliant at the moment (modelled here on my recently acquired charity shop vintage wool blanket) 
I'm really enjoying Mollie Makes, and I finally sat down and attempted to make something from it the other day. It didn't work out, but that wasn't the magazine's fault, it's down to my left brain. I'll try again.

The photograph comes from Country Living. I thought it was really evocative....

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Mellow yellow

I don't have yellow anywhere in my house, but when I spotted this little jug at the car boot sale recently, I could not resist it. Perhaps it is seeing so much 'mid century' style in magazines at the moment, it has lodged in my subconscious. Anyway, I was happy to part with a £1 for it, and I paired it with some of my lovely old poetry books which probably come from the same era.

* Thanks so much for your comments. I still can't reply to them via my Google Account, I don't know why. But I do really enjoy receiving comments and I shall keep trying to answer them..

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Who let you in?

It was wet, wild and windy outside, and I could see that our guinea pigs were feeling a mite fed up confined to their hutch, so I let them have a free range around the house this morning....and yes, I probably have got more pressing things to do, but I didn't feel like doing, this is Minnie (above) and that is Syrup (below).

My knitting bag was a source of great fascination...once their initial nervousness has gone, they are extremely curious girls, and will investigate everything, especially the fridge door (gateway to their salads).

The sun has come out now and they are back where they like it best, outside in their garden hutch and run, with plenty of fresh grass to graze and a few windfalls to browse.
When I started thinking about having a blog, a friend advised that no one should write too much about their children or their pets. I do agree with this principle, but just once in a while, the pets must be allowed...

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A windfall

Most of my family, and my extended family, now know of my fondness for vintage, especially fabrics. You couldn't really visit the house and not be aware that there is a little bit of an obsession going on here. To my delight, an aunt recently came across a large stash of old material and she wondered if I'd be interested as it was heading for the charity shop....was I? Oh yes.

This one has to be my favourite. 1950s roses on a dove grey background, and it's a ma-hoosive piece, too. I spent a happy hour or two giving it some tlc yesterday. There was also some vintage Sanderson, some William Morris designs, and this one, which isn't my usual style, but I did like the colours.

And here is a little bit more of that rosey design:

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Pony tales

I was pony mad as a girl, and the 'Jill' books by Ruby Ferguson were my passion. I read them so many times that I can still quote chunks of them even now. These are my original copies, and I still treasure them. I never did have my own pony, but I had riding lessons and holidays, and I looked after a local farmer's naughty welsh pony during my teenage years.
I've ridden on and off over the years, but not for a very long time. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go out on this lovely horse:

The invitation came through the local magazine: Lynch Farm Riding Centre offered me the chance to try one of their pub rides in return for a review. Spirit was my mount  (this is him tucking into his lunch.) He was a very steady chap indeed, despite being only seven years old. The highlight of the trip was a canter across a long green meadow. It didn't last for long, but all the familiar feelings of exhilaration came rushing back and I remembered exactly why I had been pony mad all those years ago.