Sea Blue Hooky

Hello,

I was all cosy on the sofa the other evening, wrapped up in my ripple blanket with a nice cuppa and a copy of Country Living magazine.  I noticed that twilight was infusing the blue sky with it’s velvety darkness and I suddenly had an urge to start a new crochet project…darker nights make me want to dig out my hook and a stash of soft wool and get busy.  The next day, I took myself off to the local wool shop and browsed the shelves looking for the right shades for my new scarf.

Yes, another scarf.

I cannot help myself when it comes to making scarves – it’s because it’s such a portable project, and pretty quickly made up I think, so I enjoy making them.  Plus, it’s always nice to have a cosy and colourful collection to dip into come the colder weather.

But this time, I wasn’t after bold, bright splashes of colour.  This time, I was trying something very different ~ I was on the lookout for sea blues and greys, the colours that I associate with the coast in winter…I envisaged a smooth, round, charcoal coloured pebble encircled with an elipse of white sitting in my palm…I saw pale blue skies, with gulls wheeling high above on the thermals…I saw stormy grey blue seas, wind whipped into frothy white waves that crashed onto pale sandy shores…I felt the cool, bleak wonder of a beach walk in January, discovering bleached driftwood and tiny white shells sprinkled on the tide line amidst muddy brown fronds of seaweed.

I wanted to find these kinds of colours for my scarf.  And I discovered Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK and I was smitten.

The shades of this yarn are beautiful, and capture everything I was thinking of.  I also had a pattern in mind for this scarf, which is called the Starburst stitch.  You can probably get a free tutorial online for this stitch, but Im using the one that’s in Handbook of Crochet Stitches.

I like how the Starburst stitch looks a little bit like waves on the ocean…

I must admit, despite being landlocked and yearning for brisk Autumn walks on a beach, I do like this time of year in these parts.  The countryside is slowly fading, the carnival of Summer packs up it’s glamours and slowly moves on, replaced by that chill in the air, an undefinable feeling, a wistful sense of something passing…of log fires and hot chocolate, of walking in crunchy leaves down lanes where the air is tinged with the scent of a bonfire.  All of these things have me yearning to be in the kitchen making delicious things…

…like aromatic parsnip and apple soup…*recipe can be found in October Edition of Country Living Magazine*

There is something very comforting about home made soup, fresh off the hob and dished up with a warm baguette, generously buttered and served with a big mug of tea.  It is comforting, and reassuring and homely.

I do enjoy these small comforts, they help me to make the transition from Summer to the colder months ahead.  I know I’m one of those souls who, despite liking each season enormously, deeply laments the passing of the warmer days.

I’m currently tucked up indoors working on a commission painting; I’m also starting new sketches for the solo exhibition I am in next year, at Studio 61 Gallery, in Derbyshire.  This is my first ever solo exhibition and I’m thrilled to have been invited to show with the gallery.

Also, for the first time in many moons, I have agreed to do a Christmas fair – it’s hosted by the very talented Kate Brazier of Kate Creates, and I’ll be down in Newton Regis on the 8th December to sell some Christmas and Coastal wares!

I can feel a cup of tea coming on now, I’ll see you next time – thanks for bobbing by.

Painting Summer

After a rather wet Summer here, I sit at my easel and I’m noticing that Autumn is approaching; creeping in quietly and unobtrusively.  I notice in a sudden gust of wind a spiral of crisp leaves whirling to the ground.  I see that it’s ever so slightly darker than usual in the mornings when we get up, and there’s a chill come early evening.

September also sees the little people toddling off to school again, and a wistful feeling pervades the air.  I was in Brighton recently and walked past WH Smiths, I was instantly transported back in time to my own childhood; the smell of that shop reminds me of going to buy new pencil cases and pens, ring binder folders and wrapping paper to cover our exercise books with.  September is very much a time of New Beginnings, and with my girl back at school now, I can turn my attention to my painting again, and capture the essence of Summer on my mini canvas work.  My latest piece is this ever so tiny offering (above) ~ just 9 x 7cm!  It’s called ‘Cream Tea’ and depicts the perfect scenario of a jam and clotted cream scone overlooking a sparkling turquoise sea.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of creating several mini canvas commission pieces featuring things all seaside related – so to remind you of warm days with toes in the sand and boats on the ocean, here are a few of them for you to see:

Tea by the Sea

Camper Van

Lighthouse and Boat

So, with the wee one back in school, Im settling into my own routine again.  I’ve been updating my website a bit and I’ve finally got a gloriously colourful gallery store front which I’m chuffed to bits with!  I hope you like it too 🙂

I find now and then, that I’ll have a burst of ideas, and they present themselves at the strangest moments when I’ve no way of doing anything with them.  The idea to do this to my web shop happened when I was 100 metres up the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.

The children thought the glass floor was a hoot by the way…

…yes, those small things below really are boats.

But anyway – what to do when inspiration strikes and you can’t act on it straight away?

I creatively percolate it.

This means day dreaming about my idea regularly, and by doing this,  it gives it the capacity to grow and transform into something bigger and better.

I also write my ideas down in a small book.  This is very useful for me to come back to, as it captures the essential buzz I had about the idea in the first place and gives me a starting point to work from when time has passed and the idea has become a little fuzzy around the edges, or even forgotten.  It’s also a positive way of recording things that I can’t get to do right off, and that feel important.  It’s easy to feel frustrated or impatient when you can’t work on your Next Big Thing right off, so harness that energy and use it to creatively percolate your idea instead.  You can use this energy to shape your idea into something bigger and brighter and all you need invest is just a few minutes doing so.  Your imagination is a poweful tool and you can use it to expand and change your vision into anything you want.  You’ll know you’re on the right track because you’ll get that fizzy feeling of excitement in your belly about it.

Using these tools, the web page I finally designed was something much better than what I first pictured.

Try it.

One last thing before I go ~ many thanks to all of you who answered my short survey which appeared on the last blog post, Im very grateful that you took the time to do that and appreciate your feedback.

See you all soon,

 

How to Create Art Prints of Your Work

I often get emails from people asking how I create my art prints and cards, so I thought I’d share a little insider knowledge with you on how I do this, and how easy it can be to get started.

There are a few options available to getting your work printed and ready to sell, here’s how:

A Mini Guide to Home Printing

There are three ways I digitalise my images for printing; the first one is to a upload them using a scanner.

I use an Epson Perfection V33 and it’s perfect for my smaller stuff.  It’s easy to use and it can also scan 3D objects which is useful for small box canvas art that I create.

Another way to digitalise your art is to photograph it.  I use an SLR for this kind of thing as it produces way better images than my small pocket camera.  When photographing your work, make sure you use natural light without a flash, and never take photographs in direct sunlight.  If possible, try and photograph your work from above, using an overhead tripod to keep things steady.  With both of these methods you will need to tinker with the images in Photoshop (or similar program) to crop the edges and edit the colours.  Run off a test sheet before printing to check that you’ve got a good colour match with your original work.

There are also ways to callibrate your printer and computer so that the colours you see on the screen are the colours your printer will print for you.  You can google tutorials and purchase kits for doing this online.

I have my larger work scanned professionally at a printers in the city.  This is a more expensive option as you pay to have it scanned and copied to disc, but once you’ve payed for this service, the disc is yours and you can get them to print your work for you or run off your own smaller prints from home.

A few years ago I invested in a really good printer.  It’s an Epson one; they don’t make my model any more but I think the nearest thing to it is this one.  It can print up to A3 size and take a variety of paper types and thicknesses, which is useful when printing onto thicker art papers.  The benefits of printing from home is that you can print on demand, and you don’t have to accomodate a big pile of stock if space is an issue.

The paper I currently use for my art prints is Epson Archival Matte paper.  I have also used Hahnemuhle fine art paper.  Both of these reproduce my work beautifully.  You can buy various textures of art paper for printing, shop around to see what might work for you.

What I create at home:

Fine art prints

Fine art greetings cards

I currently produce my range of greetings cards from home, printing off the images, cutting and mounting them onto blank white cards.  I hand sign them and package them into cellophane envelopes.  Whilst I really like the style of a hand created card, I have recently decided to have them printed professionally as financially and time wise it’s going to cost me less to produce.  Rather than stop making my own cards completely though, I’ve decided to issue limited edition ranges throughout the year.

If you don’t have a scanner or a printer, but want to digitalise your art…

You’re in luck as there are plenty of people and services out there who can help you:

I’m a huge fan of Moo.  I’ve used them for business cards now for several years and their products and quality are awesome.  I recently chose them to print my first run of glossy art postcards and I was delighted with them – so were  my customers, I sold out of my first batch within a week of putting them on sale and the feedback I’ve had about them has been brilliant.

They also create greetings cards too and the beauty of Moo is that you can upload one or lots of different images and order quantities to suit your pocket.

Another company that I’ve heard good things about is Red Bubble.  This is another online print company who will produce your work and even mail it out to your customers for you.  They create all kinds of products with your images too, not just prints and cards but even hoodies and t-shirts.  You just have to create your online store, and upload your jpeg images.  This is a good option if you’re looking at selling your work online and haven’t yet got a website of your own.

There are also other printing companies similar to this that you might want to check out:  Zazzle and Cafepress

Pros and Cons of Printing at Home:

Pros:

  • Good profit a possibility
  • Print on demand so no huge piles of stock to house
  • Can be cheaper than having it done at a professional printing outfit
  • Send your prints out wrapped in your own delicious branding
  • Hand sign and personalise your work

Cons:

  • Can be expensive to set up – buying the printer and keeping it fed with inks
  • Takes time to edit work so it’s print worthy
  • The time factor – it can be time consuming to create your own prints at home, as you need to consider mounting your work, packaging it and getting it up to the post office to ship out.

Pros and Cons of using External Print Companies/Print Shops:

Pros:

  • No printer to buy, no ink to buy, no paper to buy = no equipment outlay
  • Decide how much you want to sell your prints for and let someone else do the work for you
  • No postage costs
  • Professional print shops do a fantastic job, the equipment they use ensures that you’re going to get a print of exceptionally high quality.
  • If you’re time strapped, outsourcing this kind of work is a great option.

Cons:

  • Profits can be low – online stores will take a percentage
  • Sales of your work not guaranteed
  • Having to wait for payment from online stores
  • Having your work scanned and printed by a professional printing shop can be expensive, and some places may insist on a minimum order print run – you then have to store the stock and hopefully sell all the prints.
  • Turnaround time on print orders can be lengthy – ask before you order.

I hope this mini guide to creating prints of your work has helped some of you out there, and if you’ve got any questions about printing from your art, then do holler – I’m always glad to hear from you.

Adventures and Art

On Sunday, we pootled over to the Yorkshire Dales, to a beautiful little corner of the world known as Bolton Abbey.  Despite the appalling weather we’ve had so far this summer, we were pretty lucky in that the sun managed to shine a bit between the darkish clouds that blustered across the blue (yes, blue) sky, and we had a lovely relaxing time of it down by the river.

We took a delicious picnic crammed with fresh egg sandwiches made with thick country style bread, home made chocolate crispy crunch slice, cheeses, fruit and elderflower cordial that my Mum had made for us.  Armed with blankets, books, crochet, bats and balls and Crocs for paddling, we made our way down to the little sandy shore across from the Abbey and set up camp.

It was one of those lazy days that didn’t really have much of a structure.  Small went off with her Dad to look at the tiny fish that were found swimming in the shallows, and I managed to sneak a half hour to indulge in some crochet and reading.

I wonder if you’ve spied that peacock blue yarn that I’ve got in my lap there?  Way back in November last year, I went up to the Knit and Stitch show in Harrogate, and I treated myself to a very luxurious skein of silk wool from Nimu Yarns.  Up until now, this yarn has sat cosily in a drawer whilst I decided what to make with it and after much searching on Ravelry, I discovered a lovely, simple pattern for a scarf.  I’m sorry to say that even though I’d bookmarked this pattern, I cannot find it for the life of me!  If I do manage to discover it again, i’ll post a link for you.

After lounging around by the river, ice-creams were called for so we duly purchased some and went for a walk.  This really is a gorgeous little part of our country, the rolling hills have a very lovely sense of space about them, and it’s a landscape that is very gentle on the eye.

The river water is reddish brown and clear, it plays a soothing tune as it tumbles over smooth round river stones…and we had fun making these…

Back home though, and back to work.  I’m currently in the middle of a couple of paint projects.  This is the first one, a country meets coast painting with a summery twist, I wonder if you can guess what I’m going to paint in the foreground?  Clue:  It’s a very British, summery thing to do!

At the moment though, this work has taken a back seat as I’ve discovered mini canvas and easel sets!  An artist friend of mine on Facebook, Louise Rawlings (well worth checking out) has been creating some beautiful work with these for some time now, and I was very inspired by her creations and decided I’d like to have a go with these myself!

Here is my first offering:

This particular mini canvas is available to buy here for just £24.95 (includes P&P in the UK).  It’s an original acrylic painting, embellished with  vintage typewriter stamped text.

I’ve got some more ideas for these mini canvases, but would be happy to hear your ideas of what you might like to see me paint next!

Have a lovely week, see you soon.

A Week by the Sea

I’ve spent the last week in my favourite corner of the UK; holed up in a 1930’s holiday chalet which was nestled in the dunes at Hayle and overlooked the beautiful bay of St Ives.

From the moment we arrived, real life seemingly paused.  The windows of our wooden home looked out over vast expanses of Cornish countryside, or over the dunes and the sea to St Ives.  Worries and niggling thoughts melted away with the first walk on the beach; glassy green waves breaking with a hiss on the ochre shore, seagulls wheeling and calling in the wind whipped blue sky above.  Bare feet on sand, the first kiss of the ocean on your toes, inhaling deep salty breaths of pure clean air, collecting mussel shells and pieces of driftwood.  It felt like coming home.

I’m very much at home by the water, and there are lots of watery signs in my astrology chart which may explain why I yearn for it so much ~ I’m a cusp baby of Pisces and Aries, and have a Scorpio moon.

I love the colours of the coast, they wash the soul and renew the spirit ~ turquoise, aquamarine, jade and blue…

We spent as much time as we could by the sea; walking out to sand islands left by the receding tide…

We had a barbeque on the beach one evening; catching the tantalising smell of sizzling hot dogs on the breeze as we splashed in the sea, racing up to the rocks at the back of the beach to sit and eat them whilst watching the crystal water lap lazily onto the creamy, shell sprinkled sand.

I spent a lazy hour or so wandering around St Ives town, soaking in the atmosphere.  Beyond the bedlam of the well trodden tourist path there is a maze of tiny cobbled back streets, fishermens cottages, tiny galleries and glimpses of the sea…

There are tiny roads with names like Wheal Dream, and bunting flutters festively between the rooftops.  There are terracotta pots bulging with scarlet and raspberry geraniums, little windows displaying colourful art and craft.  And there is the constant energy of the sea, always just around the next corner or down the next lane; you feel it in your bones and there’s always the anticipation at catching that wonderful glimpse of it again and again…

Having our little girl with us meant that our days were full of fun and games, running in and out of the sea, seal spotting, picnics on the beach, trips to the zoo and plenty of sandcastle building and eating of ice-creams. Relaxed and happy times indeed!

Going away somewhere beautiful allows you to recharge fully.  I found myself watching a dramatic sunset one evening and contemplating this slower pace of life that had taken hold since our arrival and I determined there and then to try and implement aspects of it when I returned home.  I saw how much time I sometimes spend on stuff that isn’t that important; things like the internet, creating extra (and unnecessary) work for myself.  I think we are all capable of filling our lives to the brim, that we all forget to stop sometimes and take stock of what’s working for us – or not.

I’m moving into the slow lane, making decisions based on what feels good for me, not what I think I ought to be doing, not what pleases everyone else.

I read a brilliant book last week, I found it on the bookshelf in the chalet and read it each evening. The message in this book touched me so much I’ve bought my own copy; it’s called A year by the Sea by Joan Anderson.  It tells the story of how over the years of her life as a wife and mother she unconsciously replaced her own needs and dreams with those of her nearest and dearest.  With her sons grown and her marriage souring she retreats to a beach cottage on Cape Cod and spends a year rediscovering herself, working out what it is she wants to do with her life and who she wants to be.  It’s a really inspiring read and I recommend it heartily.  I love my family dearly and would (and do) do anything for them, but I know that since having a family my life became very much about nurturing others, my needs mostly being at the bottom of a long list and very often not met.

I’m conscious that writing this may raise an eyebrow or two, some of you may think it sounds selfish to make such a brazen statement of things not being enough when it seems from the periphery that I have so much.

And I do have so much, there are many blessings in my life and I’m grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way.  But I like the idea of finding myself again, of slowing my life down enough to be able to figure out what’s really meaningful – for me and my family to live a nourishing, fulfilling life that works for us all, where all our needs are met.  I think this is becoming a journey year for me, I’ve gone through some big changes and have reached a point where I was asking ‘is this it, is this all there is?’ whilst already knowing the answer:

Of course it isn’t.

It’s just a phase of growth and change.

So I watched that glowing nectarine sun sink into a velvety lavender sea and felt very peaceful; just acknowledging that I needed to take my own voyage of self discovery was like being handed a magical key to the next step.  The feeling of struggle had gone, and I knew that with time and a little exploration everything would all fall into place.

I’m happily going to gesso a canvas now, there are some new paintings I’d like to let loose and I’ll share them with you all soon.

Sending you love, wherever you are in the world.

A New Direction?


Hello!

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I want to do with my time these days.  For over three years I was secretly planning on illustrating children’s books and in between being a Mama I tried to create lots of child themed artwork for my agent’s portfolio.  It was always in the back of my mind that this was a Big Thing I was aiming towards and that it could happen at any minute and totally transform my life.

Alas, as those of you who read a recent post of mine will know, my agent and I have gone our separate ways; the financial climate has made it a tricksy time for getting book deals, and with less books being published and more artists clamouring for the same few jobs it was always going to be competitive.  My agent is a lovely woman who tried her absolute best and Im really grateful for the opportunity she gave to me when she took me on.

I’d be telling and enormous lie if I said that I wasn’t upset when I first heard.  I felt deep disappointment and the dream I’d focused on for so long dissolved before my eyes.  It wasn’t long either before those inner critics bubbled up to the surface with their negative thoughts ~ was it my work that wasn’t good enough?  Was it my style?  Had I not produced enough work?  Am I just not good enough??  Of course, this was a knee jerk reaction to a Big Change.  I soon calmed down and was able to focus more clearly on the positive aspects:

I knew that the publishers who had seen my work loved it (a HUGE boost to morale) and I’d been ‘discussed’ on a couple of occasions for working on books.  For different reasons, and not for lack of trying (on both sides) the elusive book contract just never materialised.  Maybe I could have produced more work, maybe I could have studied the market in more depth – I could have done a whole heap of things, but I know I did my best at the time and gave it my best shot.  That, in itself, was good enough for me.

The other morning I was doing something rather ordinary (drinking coffee and watching the squirrel mucking about on the shed roof) when I was hit with a thought:

I’d invested a whole load of energy into something that I thought I really wanted to happen.  The very fact that illustrating children’s books was a real possibility became a huge thing in my life.  Suddenly, that opportunity wasn’t there any longer – there would be nobody taking my work to show prospective clients, nobody batting on my behalf anymore.

And right then I realised I felt space.  A big wide space which had been taken up with yearning and hoping and aching.  Right then there was space to think about What Happens Next? And I began to wonder which direction I wanted to take my life in.

In theory, I could do anything I wanted to.

When something like this happens to us, it’s easy to immediately blame ourselves, feel angry or negative about the situation and let it eat away at us – but sometimes, the truth is we’ve got to travel our path and these lessons are sent to take us to the next level.

I’m a firm believer that where one door closes, another door opens.

A week later, a gallery contacted me and asked if I’d be able to exhibit some coastal themed work at their up and coming exhibition in July called ‘By the Seaside’.  I’m now preparing my paintings, having them framed and ready to deliver up to Leeds in a couple of weeks.

Having this new space in my life to play with has allowed me to look at what I really want to do – do I really want to illustrate children’s books?  Maybe one day yes.  Right now?  I’m sitting with the thought that appeared as I sat quietly in the garden the other day listening to the river gurgling over the stones.

Paint.

It’s as simple as that.  So that’s what I’m doing.  That’s what I love to do best.

Have you ever had a disappointing situation that has turned your life into something for the better?  Please share your stories in the comments, it’s always lovely to hear from you.

PS ~ Just before I go, I want to let you know that my Blog has made an appearance in a fabulous one off publication called Simply Crochet!  It’s on sale from Thursday 14th June in all good newsagents *excited face*

Look – here I am (at the bottom, in the middle) – lovely write up too!

See you next time x

Things to come

Hola my lovely!

I wanted to write a short post about my new site, and what you can expect to find here.

If you have been wondering where the free tutorials have gone that were available on my old blog,  I’m packaging them into PDF’s for you for easy download, and you’ll soon be able to access these from a brand new page tab up in the top right corner there.

I’ve also been asked where the Being Creative Project has disappeared to; it’s going to be reworked into a brighter, shinier and happier Project for you, and will be launched in the not too distant future.  If you’re a participant, you can still find the Flickr Group open for business and you can continue to post your pictures there for now.

One thing I’ve discovered on my journey as an artist is that I’m passionate about helping people live a creative life and as well as sharing stories, tools and experiences here, I’m also going to be creating some exciting products ~ things like new e-books, kits and courses.  (I’ll also continue to blog about my life as an artist and crochet freak just in case you were wondering  :D).  It’s so important to me that I reach out and help people; I know that there are people out there who are afraid to start, who are scared to follow their dreams or believe in themselves.  I’ve been in that place myself, and it’s one of my dreams right now to share what I’ve learnt with others, to pass on the tools and the experience to help them begin living a life soaked in colour and wonderful experiences.

What I’m working on right now ~

I’m in the middle of creating a hand-written and illustrated guide to Moving Through Stuck – this is a gloriously colourful Playbook and tool kit for people who have trouble navigating the difficult parts of their creative path and will really help to shift the blocks that we all come up against and get folks back into their creative flow again.

If you have any questions about the new site or what I’m up to, then please drop me a line (use the Comments on this post, or the Contact and FAQ’s page above).  There are still quite a few things to be tweaked here, such as getting my RSS feeds sorted out and such like, but so far, it’s all coming together just lovely.

See you soon,

A New Beginning

Hello

It’s been a long time coming but I finally migrated my little Blogger blog over to it’s brand new home at WordPress!  I’m really liking the change (I hope you do too) and while it’s not completely finished, it’s ready enough to open up to you dear souls 🙂

And I’ve missed you all!

These last few weeks have been so full.  I’ve been working on a huge commission painting and alongside this there’s been some big life changes a-happening too.  There have been shifts and changes that came about unexpectedly – one of the biggies was that my literary agent called time on our contract.  I felt a deep disappointment as I read the letter she sent to me, but I’ve since come to the conclusion that where one door closes, another will open.

I was speaking to someone about this, about what had happened and they said:  Ah well, just one of those things.  No point being down about it.

But that was just the problem.  On top of a whole heap of other stuff that May chucked at me, that Letter happened and I did feel down about it.

You know, so many of us don’t get a chance to acknowledge how we feel about stuff.  We’re taught to ignore or bury our feelings, go to a quiet corner of the house and have them where nobody else can bear witness to them.  I really believe that in order to move through and on from a difficult situation that we have to sit with and acknowledge those feelings, no matter how hard.  Once we face them, they seemingly transform and disappear.

May has been a month of moving on, of relationships altering course.  Like huge ships we navigate our way across sometimes smooth, and sometimes stormy seas.  These last few weeks have brought many storms and despite feeling wearied by some of them, I also feel much stronger.

It is a huge relief, and a massive accomplishment to finally move my Blog here.  I’m looking forward to sharing lots of new things with you as well as familiar tales of yarn and art.  I also hope to grow this website into an online guide for living a creative life, full of resources, tools and kits for fulfilling your own creative dreams.

I hope you’ll join me for the journey.

J x

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

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