Friday, 11 January 2019

Painting, Grandma and reminiscing

Hello, you came along at the right moment, I just stopped for tea, flowers and a bit of painting.  These little miniature narcissus came home tightly shut and within days have sort of unravelled and opened up gracefully, giving out a beautiful perfume.   

Isn't nature clever - so many tiny little blooms all crammed on one stem.  I keep stopping to take a look, and a sniff, between sips of tea and nibbles on my shortbread biscuit.

.... the paintbrushes came out for a bit.
I wondered what would happen if I tried to paint without thinking about it too much, not allowing myself to correct outlines or go over any mistakes, just to keep painting and keep filling the page.  Well, you get a very spontaneous sort of untidy result, but I quite like it.    I was imagining a very untidy potting shed, bulbs that needed planting but had begun to sprout because they couldn't wait any longer to be potted, flowers in full bloom crowding each other out as they didn't care if they were picked and arranged or just fought for light and bloomed where they were.  It was fun.

This week I turned all my clothes out and checked for repairs, bagging up some things for charity recycling.

Very satisfying.  'A place for everything and everything in its place' as my grandma used to say and that brought me to thinking about her.... at moments like this I normally end my blog post and go off to reminisce in private, but I thought today I could tell you a little bit about her....

She was my paternal grandma, very tidy, made all her own dress patterns and clothes - did her best to teach me to sew although I had a short attention span.   For my 21st birthday I was given a sewing machine and my grandma's dressmakers dummy, still set to her exact body measurements.  Unfortunately it had seized up and wouldn't move out of those measurements so I either had to wait to grow into a replica of my 70 year old grandmother, or make it disappear, so it did.  She gardened an acre producing her own veggies and grew dhalias and hid their beauty in brown paper bags, then showed them at the annual flower show; was a very good painter and embroiderer of dainty flowers.  She never showed anyone her art as grandad was an artist and she wanted him to shine (maybe I should tell you about him another day, he designed pubs for Ushers brewery).

 Grandma had a pretty  kitchen painted palest green (which would be very trendy now), her breakfast plates all had pictures of things like chickens and quotes like 'make hay while the sun shines' and 'less haste, more speed'.  There was a a good old fashioned pantry full of her jams.  The house had lovely old wood floors, a sweeping bannister and beautiful indian rugs brought back from grandad's days serving in the British army in India.  The bathroom was  Grandma's only artistic claim to fame - she painted a mural of a mermaid and complete underwater world of sea creatures, shells and seaweed all around the walls, it was beautiful in there.

Anyhow, everything in its place here today....grandma would be pleased, her cuckoo clock would be saying it's 2pm and time for a little nap in her favourite arm chair, followed by a glass of weak orange squash and a cigarette.  I am doing the same, minus the cigarette and have finished my library book - this was a good one, I even skipped a few pages because I couldn't wait to know what happened next and then had to go back and read it properly - that kind of good one.  Really twisting and turning right to the end, which is a big surprise.

Some books are keepers though, I bought myself the next book as a treat -  because it is so full of inspiration which I am lacking right now.  It's by one of my favourite bloggers 5ftinf  I admire her creative photographic work and unique style so was ecstatic when I found she brought this book out; something a little different - not the usual 'how to' so much as a friendly 'why don't you' ....

Book by Philippa Stanton,
I'm off to do my sewing repairs and make a victoria sponge cake now (no kidding!).  Hope my ramblings and reminiscences haven't tired you too much.  Thanks for spending the afternoon with me...

Sunday, 6 January 2019

This Week

Christmas is becoming a distant memory, we photograph the table every year- is that odd? maybe you do too.   As we work shifts, Boxing Day was the one day we were all home together, so we made it our family day to cook the dinner.  I really enjoy making the table look pretty and made a little centre piece with bits from the garden, to make it smell nice as I put rosemary in. 

 We use precious plates for Christmas meals, decorated with reindeer, penguins and Santa on his sleigh;  the set came from a discount store years ago although they are high value to us as they are memory makers.  I made the tablecloth years ago but its a favourite.

Our new curtains arrived at last! Its warmer in our dining room now (oops, stray sock on floor!)  I like the new blue/grey colours.  It's a job to get the pleats and gathers neat but I got there in the end..

We are aiming to eat more healthily this year, starting with making our own bread every week.  We have a really good machine that does the work - this is sour dough made with rye flour.  I am going to try different flours so we don't get bored.

We had the most spectacular red sunset the other night, I went out and walked to get a better view, I hope we have more like this.

I'm Spring cleaning this week and sorting clothes - hubby is taking me to Cape Verde for my 60th birthday in February so I am digging out my kaftans and swimwear in readiness.   We don't have to be minimalist on this trip, we get to take a suitcase and are beach based.  I have been reading up - they have some sharks, black and brown widow spider and various birds including an endangered species of lark (raso) and the loggerhead turtle.  There are salt pools and natural mineral rock swimming pools ... and there's plenty of sand!  I think the best thing to fill that suitcase with is charity shopped books that can be left behind:)

My current project is to learn chess, hubby is teaching me.

How's your New year going?

Monday, 31 December 2018

New Year

My employers gave cards this year saying 

"May this New Year be filled with ... Self-Belief"

I am going to keep this as my focus during 2019 in both my work and personal life. 

Wishing you a very happy New Year 
may your dreams come true too

My grandmothers most important advice to me as a child (which has no doubt shaped me into the impractical daydreamer that I am) was 'never stop believing in fairies'

I will strive to make dreams come true in the year ahead......and always believe in fairies!

I wanted to share this with you as it gives something words can't.  Hope you feel it too.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Winter Solstice

Last night in the UK we had the most beautiful full moon and also meteor showers at  intervals... magical.

 Isn't this lovely? it's a local pots/pans shop and the baubles are collanders tied together with ribbon to make baubles.

sorry about the reflection!

 My son made a sponge cake yesterday, there was only one slice left this morning 
- someone had the midnight munchies!

I have been decorating the house for Christmas.  My neighbours have moved out and gave me their dining furniture, including this pretty dresser. 

We painted the room this light grey blue and bought curtains, which arrived today. The picture on the packaging was right but inside was the wrong pattern.  A new order will be  arriving after Christmas  so I decorated the track with tinsel and baubles as I didn't like looking at an empty track!

Hubby put the fairy lights up outside the back of the house, it's really pretty in the evening sitting out there with all the multicoloured lights reflecting on the glass roof.

I painted this watercolour quite a few years ago for the house.  Next year I will be
getting back into silk painting, which I have missed. 

Wishing you a very happy christmas and new year.  
Thank you to all visitors who leave friendly comments and emails.

Friday, 7 December 2018

A Simpler Christmas

I am doing my best to stay away from the over heated shopping centres, pressure to buy and all the things I dont like about this time of year.

This little church opens just a few times a year, it's inside a windmill not too far from me. I like to go, but if I can't there is one through the woods I can walk to and also a big one in the town where I used to be a member, I like the evening services there as we can sing with sign language (I'm seriously deaf so learnt BSL and enjoy the chance to use it with others and to be honest my singing voice is not great!).

I like to visit a church when it is empty and quiet  so I can hear God and feel His presence.

 In the uk we have Martin Lewis who formed the website, he does tv appearances and for the second year has encouraged us to have a no spend christmas, not only to take the pressure off ourselves but also off those we would buy for who might  feel obliged to reciprocate, even if they can't afford to.  Present buying can leave many in debt and without the few treats that could make their own Christmas a happy time.   We have done this in previous years and know it takes any stress right out of our Christmas.  I am not judging anyone who does buy presents, it can be great - but for us, opting out has really put the Spirit back into Christmas.

It's been a lovely afternoon here in Woodland, putting up my little tree.  I had thought it was very 'green' of me to have a fake one but just heard on tv that these kind of trees cannot yet be recycled, so it will end up in landfill.  Having a real tree affects the ozone layer about as much as driving 12 miles in my car.  You learn something new every day!

I like this little snowman a lot.  I always secretly hope for a sprinkling of snow over Christmas, it makes everything look so clean and tidy!

It's fairly quiet here, not a lot going on - We did some more decorating of stairway walls and ceiling, I've been going to work, going to the gym, clearing out our garage, sending some unwanted furniture to charity (our neighbour is emigrating so giving us their dining set which we need to make room for).

I hope your preparations for Christmas are peaceful, not stressful.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

A weekend of woodland walks and house decorating!

This weekend hubby and I went to some local woods that are new to us, on one of those ramblers trails - we printed the maps and off we went.  It was only about 6 miles circular but enough for us to wear in our new walking shoes

The woods were carpeted in orange fallen leaves and I shuffled around looking
for fungi.  I found these at the very end of the walk:

I haven't been able to identify anything with quite such a flower-like appearance, but think they must be from the funnel family.  Any ideas?

I love 'old mans beard' we used to decorate our house with it when I was a child.

These woods are part of the Norbury Estate in Surrey where there is a saw mill, they also make their own blue cheese on their farm.

There are many more walks here, lots of little hidden forest paths and  a river to explore so we will be going back soon.
Brocketts Farm is nearby where they have tea rooms for those that want to make a day of it.  We would rather bring a flask and sit on one of the many benches located along the walk so will bring a Winter picnic next time.

these berries are black briony and, although beautiful are deadly poisonous.

I think the fungi above is amanita, it's poisonous and can be mistaken for a shaggy parasol mushroom.  lovely to look at but not to touch.

this sheep found me as interesting as I found her

I have been painting my house - starting with the downstairs cloakroom which needed freshening up and after 25 years with these tiles, I wanted something different.  When the house was built we chose these tiles and they put them on all wrong! it has always annoyed me as the patterned ones were meant to be randomly placed, not in a row!   The white tiles had all gone very yellow which you can't see here.   I wanted the smallest room to look pleasant for visitors but did not want to spend on new tiling so this was a budget makeover. 

old tiles, before
I found tile covers on Amazon which are plastic self adhesive sheets you cover your old tiles with. They sound awful but are simple to apply and look just like new tiles.

It took about 6 hours to do all mine as I really took my time applying them to a clean surface and smoothing out any creases or air bubbles and then grouted them so they looked authentic and would not peel off in time - hope it works.  The tile covers cost about £40 for about 60 to cover the sink and toilet area.  The paint cost about £10 for the area.

I had bought paint on 2 for 1 at Wickes over the August bank holiday, they had run out so I had to wait until now for new stock but they honoured the offer.  I painted with a light grey and finally hung a caricature of me and hubby done in 2014 on our Cuba holiday for three quid that had been languishing in the garage; it has taken all this time to get it framed!

It's honest, we do look a bit like this, so I quite like it but only for the loo!  

I also painted our dining room and kitchen with the samelight blue/grey
and had my lovely Rima Staines  Father Christmas print re-framed.

sorry about the reflection, this was mounted and framed very affordably (10 quid) but looks so much better than it's old wooden frame.

Next project is the lounge and dreaded staircase!
After that we will have to find somewhere to put a map
so we can start planning our 2019 adventure - Cambodia!

Are you thinking about Christmas yet? one house on our estate turned their fairy lights on outside last night - it's a good display but I think too early.  M&S have frosted Christmas trees in their doorway as you enter - I'm not ready!

Friday, 2 November 2018

Pumpkin Season

 Today we have a beautiful frost so I took a few snaps in the garden early...

 despite the -1c temperature here last night, my passion flower has decided today's the day to bloom
It seems to have a little smiling face, don't you think?  there are about 20 more buds, not sure if the cold will catch them, I might bring a few indoors

 I like pumpkins on display all through the Autumn.... the one on the right stays out all year, I love it's colour.  The little tray was given to me by my lovely Spanish neighbours a long time back, it has small dishes for dips that come out on special occasions, the tray stays out all the time though as it's too pretty to hide away,  the colours are so Seasonal right now.  The little pumpkins will go out for the squirrels soon, but I am so enjoying their beautiful colours and textures.

Hubby makes me a carved pumpkin every year for Halloween, here's this year's.   This time he found instead of cutting the top, you get best results by hollowing from underneath.  We keep it simple these days and don't decorate so much.  My plates have been around for a few years, I'm very fond of them.

 These are some pumpkins we carved a few years back when our boys were little....

 ... and here's our vintage orange pumpkin, Amber, still playful at 16+

 I am going searching for beautiful fungi at the weekend.  This is fly agaric, there is something very magical about it  (it's poisonous so don't ever touch one).  I found this growing in the woods a long time ago and read somewhere that they should grow in the same place every year, but this was a one off.... will let you know if I find any this time.

Thank you so much for all your comments on my last post - all of you had interesting stories to share.  It has also been nice for me to see some comments from bloggers I had lost touch with so I have been visiting some of your blogs too.

Source: Google Images

Throughout life when things have gone wrong I have always without exception been helped somehow by strangers, often they were Christians, always they were kind and wanted nothing in return.

One example  is of leaving home on bad terms when I was young, I had been sleeping on a friends floor for some weeks whilst hunting for a room from the newspaper.  My employer at the time would drive me round on evenings when the London newspaper advertised rooms to rent; I found a place one night and joined the usual queue of hopefuls waiting to view, the landlord wanted  2 weeks deposit on the spot, many of us turned away, I didn't have any money but one of the girls also taking a room paid my deposit and trusted me to return it to her when we both moved in, she had never met me before.

Source: Google Images

Just this week I fell over in town.  A young women with a dear little 3 year old, despite being a busy mum with plenty of things to get on with, picked me up and dusted me down, then took me to sit down in the pharmacy, gave me some water and offered to buy me chocolate and would not leave until she felt I was fully recovered.

I think there is often kindness around us but some of us are uncomfortable accepting it - if we do accept,  how do we give something back? do we need to? maybe in a pay it forward kind of way?
Sometimes doing a kindness is more rewarding for me than the recipient, but I don't always see an opportunity until the moment passes.  I am going to make sure I put acts of kindness on my 2019
calendar;  just a gesture, a listening ear, a helping hand when needed... What do you think? Want to join me?

have you given or received a kindness lately?

Source:  Google Images