Lovely Stuff

The little ones are back at school, and I’ve been having a look through the pictures from our two weeks off.  Oh my goodness, I’ve enjoyed this holiday though ~ having little C home off school with us, my sister coming to visit and a little jaunt down to South Wales…you can safely say we packed that fortnight full to the brim of Lovely Stuff.

We set off south to Wales last Wednesday to go and see the other half’s part of the family for a few days.  Wales brought gusty winds and dark squally skies along with the odd bit of torrential rain, thunder and lightening (oh – and hail stones like golf balls).  Look at that storm, ploughing across the sky behind the BBC buildings down Cardiff Bay!!!

But we also had some gorgeous sunny blue moments too, in fact it was warm enough to trot off to the Gower and install ourselves on a beach for a few hours!! Oh the joy of some unexpected Beach Time!!!!!!!!!!



This delicious place is Langland Bay, just beyond the Mumbles.  It’s a pretty little crescent moon of a beach backed by a line of beach huts.  There’s a couple of places to get a nice cuppa and a bite to eat and it’s a cosy suntrap  where you could happily doze for a while if it took your fancy.  


I really do like South Wales.  I love the vibrancy of Cardiff, and the fact that it’s so close to the water.  There are those lovely old arcades to wander down, full of splendidly unique little shops and the Bay area for a nice place to wander, dine and catch a concert.
Just a few miles down the M4 and you’re headed towards some of the most beautiful scenery and beaches you could ever hope to cast your eyes upon.  Inland, you have the sweeping hills and dramatic peaks of the Brecon Beacons, it really is a great place and I’m very fond of it.

When I was in Cardiff, I happened to pop into John Lewis for a special little purchase.  As you know, I’m currently making a crocheted bag from Nicki Trench’s book.  That book is crammed to bursting with really lovely patterns and a while ago I decided I’d like to have a go at this, my sofa needed a round stripy cushion, and the more I thought about it the more necessary it became:



Being a person who has NEVER been able to finish one project before embarking on another, I got myself the goodies…



…deliciously bright, zingy rainbow shades from the Amy Butler Organic DK range.
I’ve never used this wool before, but the colours really sang at me from the shelves.  They’re eye poppingly, gloriously, happy colours.  I played about with a few colour ways for a while before deciding that really, it had to flow like a rainbow.  It was the only colour way that made me deliriously excited when I looked at it.



It’s a very pleasureable thing to make rainbow rings…



…round and round I go…very therapeutic, dreamy even.  I lost myself in those happy colours, they literally do drench the soul with lovely feelings.  The wool is pretty nice to work with too, it does split occasionally but I can overlook that very small detail because it feels nice and looks amazing 😀


I don’t think it’s going to take me that long to finish, it’s a quick and easy sort of pattern and crochets up in no time.  


I’ll be back soon to show you the finished article, then it’s back to my bag…or my shawl…or my granny stripe blanket…!!!


Have a lovely week,
Julia xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Colour~Full Easter

We’re enjoying a bit of a relaxed Easter holiday here in our little corner of the world.  Last week we went down by our little river and collected some twigs to make our Easter Tree.  On one of my jaunts to town, I’d spied a cheap bag of coloured eggs to hang on our branches and brought them home with a box of tiny yellow chicks.  The eggs are those lovely sugary colours that make you feel instantly happy when you see them, and the chicks keep falling off their perches to hang upside down in a rather amusing way.  I’ve never decorated before at Easter, but it’s definitely something we’ll do again.


The arrival of Easter also saw the arrival of my sister and nephews who came to stay for a few days with my parents.  And it also saw the arrival of some rather unexpected White Stuff.  Brrrrrrr….

Yep, we had a fair old dumping of it and the temperatures plummeted.  Hard to imagine just a few days earlier we’d been sunning ourselves on the beach, and eating our tea out the back garden; slapping on the suncream and digging out our summer tops!!

Only in England…!

Still, a few inches of snow wasn’t going to scupper our plans!!  We wrapped up warm and ventured out.  We’d heard there were some new babies to be seen at one of the local farms, so we trussed up the Smalls and took them up to Our Cow Molly’s to see the lambs and partake of some of their delicious ice-cream.


Rushing around doing lots of family things during the days, it was nice to find a few moments of quiet time come the evenings.  I managed to sneak in some bed-time hooky…

The bag I’m working on is coming on a treat; only nine more squares to go and a couple of handles.  I’m trying to decide what kind of fabric to line it with too.  It’s going to be a smashing bag for summer though.  You can find the pattern in this book here by Nicky Trench.

I’ve also been enjoying a spot of relaxing with my birthday present ~ I was very lucky to receive a Kindle.  When they first came out I wasn’t too sure about these reading devices, being the Major Book Lover that I am.  What could possibly take the place of a real book, that feel of paper, the very scent of a book?  But you know, I soon began to realise that for someone who lives in a very Small House, and has an increasingly large book stash (much of it being housed in storage boxes as I just don’t have enough shelves, I’m sure you get the picture) they could be very useful indeed.

I’m mainly using mine for fiction books, as I don’t think I’d get as much pleasure from cookery and interiors style books on them, being greyscale as they are.  For reading books though, Kindles are the best invention in the WORLD and for travelling what could be better than a whole stash of your favourite books in one place?! Fantabulous!!! I’m a total Kindle Junkie now!

 
Once I had my little Kindle, I realised it would need a little Home,  somewhere to protect it from the inevitable bumps and knocks it would collect being jostled about in my shoulder bag and so on.

I knew I didn’t want a run of the mill shop bought one, no no – I wanted something special, something a bit different.  Something Hand Made!

So I approached Cathy who runs a beautiful business called Dear Emma, and asked her if I could commission her to make one for me.

And she did!  It’s so well made and I’m as pleased as punch with it.  The stitch work is exquisite and the fabric is very luxurious.  Cathy has a lovely website, and I believe that my Kindle cosy may be the first of many as it’s inspired her to start a brand new range!

So that’s about it for now.  In a day or so we head off to see the other half of our family down in Wales.  I hope you’re enjoying your holidays, thanks so much for bobbing by to see me today!

Julia xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Under the Sea and Off to the Sea!

When we awoke on Sunday, we sat around the breakfast table feeling rather exicited; you see, an adventure beckoned.  The sun was shining in a bright blue sky and we felt the call of the sea in our souls.  So we headed off to Hull.

Hull?

Yes!  To the home of The Deep!  One of the most amazing aquariums I’ve been to this side of Barcelona (although I’m sure there are many marvellous ones in your corners of the world too).  


The Deep is the world’s only Submarium and is home to all manner of species including sharks and saw fish.  There’s a whole heap of interesting stuff to be learnt as you wind your way around this fabulous place, discovering tanks full of exotic specimens and lagoons teaming with brightly coloured fish.



And jelly fish.


I find these creatures strangely balletic as they unulate their way around their silent, underwater world.  I’m fascinated by their delicacy and their form.


I was also rather taken with the building…


I love an interesting bit of architecture ~ my love affair with it began when I was travelling with my friend around Spain after we’d left University.  I’ll never forget the first time I clapped eyes on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and on the Guggenheim in Bilbao back in 1999!!
Anyway, I digress somewhat!!
All things considered, The Deep is a pretty cool place to go, and Small adored it, although she probably adored the small glittery pink plastic bracelet printed with dolphins from the gift shop more.  It was only early afternoon by the time we’d finished our aquatic meanderings but it didn’t take long to come up with a Plan that would lay to rest that Need that had been sitting in my belly for the last week or two.
We could drive out to the coast.
Just a short hop, skip and a jump (ok, a forty minute drive) and you’re on the East Coast, namely in a little village called Hornsea.
Hornsea has a beautiful Mere, and a pretty old village complete with old stone church (whose graveyard was bulging with bright red tulips, daffodils and muscari).  A short stroll up the road leads you to the seafront, where you are met with the tantilising scent of fish and chips, hot sugared donuts and sweet candyfloss fresh on the breeze.  Seagulls whirled around above and the North Sea was in a particular feisty mood and sent large waves crashing onto the pebbly shore.
Despite the weather forcast predicting a chilly day, the sun beat down warmly so we bought an obligatory ice-cream and found a breaker to sit on and admire the view.
The sea front of Hornsea is adorned with all the usual little cafes and takeaways, plastic fronted amusements and tiny kiosks with piles of buckets, spades and glittering windmills spinning in the breeze stacked up outside.  Away to the south lies a large caravan park which sprawls into the distance.  Up to the north you can just about make out the coast of Bridlington, and the headland of Flamborough.
But despite it’s faded glamours, I like it here.  There’s salt in the wind that blows onshore; you can taste it, and the waves (although brown) are large, and crash powerfully onto the sand, hissing back again with a thousand shiny pebbles tumbling after.

I sit on the shore and take big gulps of that lovely sea air while Small runs round making sand pies and sand angels.  She has sand in her hair, between her toes and she is laughing.  She loves the sea as much as I do.
  
I’ve longed for my fix of the sea for a while now.  Sitting here is a gift, unplanned and unexpected.  Making the most of a few quiet moments I start to do something that I find very relaxing…


Pebble towers…


It’s a therapeutic business this pebble tower building.  There’s a certain edge to all the pebbles which balance perfectly if you can find it.  It’s compelling and very relaxing.

Before we left for home, we bought seaside fish and chips doused in vinegar and ate them overlooking the beach.  They always taste better at the coast, don’t they?  
Thanks for coming to see me today, it’s always lovely that you do!
See you soon,
J xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Colourful Days

It’s one of those days here, the sort you have when the school holidays commence that involve lots of lounging, tv watching, cake eating, tea slurping and general pockets of laziness interspersed with the odd chore that needs quickly doing.

To tell you the truth, we’re not in the best of health here at the moment.  We’ve all had, and still have the most tremendously vile head cold.  I’m writing to you from the fuzz of a cloud that is pretending to be a brain.  I am listless and feeling rather bleurgh so this gentle pace of not doing much at all suits me very well.

Anyway, before I explain about the little picture above, lets back track a bit – I’ve a few colourful events to fill you in on because due to the head cold, I’ve been ever so slightly absent in Blogland of late and have some much needed catching up to do.

On Saturday, March the 24th I was up Exceptionally Early and away on a train to London, to the Country Living Fair!!!  It was a gorgeously warm day, full of sunshine, blue sky and laden with the promise of adventure!

I’ve not been to London by myself since before my daughter was born, so to say it was an exciting event would be putting it mildly.  It was actually doubly exciting because when I finally got there I met the ever so lovely Kate Brazier from Kate Creates.   We hit it off straight away and spent a great day together.  I first got to know Kate through her Facebook page, and meeting her for real was a lovely thing to do. 

It was also my first visit to the Fair and I wasn’t disappointed – it was chock full of beautiful things and very inspiring.  I came away with a few souveniers – a beautiful ceramic bowl and spoon, a wooden hare, some turquoise earrings and a green bead bracelet but it wasn’t all shopping!!  We also went to the business seminar hosted by Emma Jones from Enterprise Nation – now there’s a woman who can inspire you!  She had plenty of interesting things to say in just half an hour and I must recommend her book Turn Your Talent into a Business which I bought when I came home ~ if you have the slightest inclination that you’d like to turn your hobby into a business then this is the book for you 🙂  I love creative business books; I seem to have gathered quite a collection of them over time and this has some fabulous guidance in it for folks just starting out as well as those who are already running a business.

The day went surprisingly fast and it was soon time to say goodbye and head for the station.  Walking through Islington it felt very summery, the streets were full of people and the sun was lovely and warm. 

Waiting for my train I admired the lovely architecture of St Pancras – I also admired the shops – they had a Cath Kidston, White Company and Neals Yard to wander around and I had plenty of time to spend browsing before my train left.



It was absolutely one of the nicest days, and it ended in the loveliest way too – as the train was pulling into Sheffield I spied my other half and my little girl walking down the platform.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a Big Smile, and had such a Big Hug as the one I got from her when I stepped down from that train!  It was a really wonderful day out, but it was oh so very lovely to be home again!

A few days later, I decided to investigate the art of Decopatch.  I had seen a Decopatch stand at the Fair and been quite curious about it, but didn’t get around to buying anything there and then.  You see, I had a Plan.  It was one of those plans that had been bubbling for a while and it came from a photograph that I’d spied in this book – I wanted to create a feature wall in our dining room, full of photographs and Bits & Bobs to liven it up a bit, to add a bit of colour and interest…

 
So eventually, after a bit of reading up on the subject I decided to purchase a few Decopatch items which would help my Plan come to life.  I chose three wooden letters, which are the initials of each of the people who live in our house: One for me, one for him and one for Small.

I then chose some pretty papers, and picked out a little tub of glue and a brush.  This decopatch lark is really very easy and really quite addictive.  There is something very satisfying about glueing lots of little bits of pretty paper onto something, and making something eyecatchingly wonderful and different.

The exciting part came when they were dry, and I could dot them about amongst my pictures:

It’s not quite finished, I’m also going to be adding a pretty plate or two, and some other trinkets.  But I like how it’s looking so far 🙂

I’ll let you know when it’s all finished 🙂

I was going to tell you where we went yesterday, but I think I need a nice cuppa and a bit of a rest so i’ll pop back later in the week to tell you all about that.  It’s nice.  It’s about the seaside.


See you soon lovelies, 
J xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx