Friday, 23 October 2009

hijacked no more!

This blog has been hijacked by the animals, they now have their own blog, then hijacked by my travels into veganism! No more, both have their own blogs, so this one can focus once more on creativity.
Our craft group in Treknow is great fun, and we have covered a lot of topics, we are trying to keep a focus on one at a time a bit more now, as we all have lots of partly made items at home! We have been exploring still life, but not from a conventional perspective. We had to make the components from torn or cut papers and plastic, and then take a section of the result and paint this. I enjoyed the process at first, but became distracted and chattery - it is impossible to talk and create at the same time as both tasks need the opposite sides of the brain to function! So, that one went in the bin and I then concentrated on making a few watercolour cards in my usual style, with hills and the like. Quick and easy!
I should have cropped the other, upside down card out of this before adding it!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Still vegan!

So, I have now been vegan, almost properly, for over a month. It begins to feel normal, and hasn't caused any major problems. I have felt awkward, for example refusing cakes people have lovingly made, this feels rude, and i have had to continue to taste test some of the vegetarian foods i have cooked at Micheal House.

A fun new social network, which is for vegetarians and vegans is helpful and provides links with other veggies and vegans.

The funniest answer i have received so far, when asking if any cakes were vegan in a cafe we love visiting was 'no, they all contain chocolate'.

Quite apart from the butter and milk etc. many of them obviously contained, they did not all contain chocolate!!!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

I am vegan

Just trying writing that out! I am still vegan, with the odd unavoidable lapse, but am sticking to the mantra, 'I am vegan for today'.

It seems that moving towards veganism is more of a process than an instant state of being. For a long time I have thought I 'ought' to be vegan. It is the logical point to aim at from being vegetarian. There can be no milk or it's products without cows having calves, half of which will be male. They are mostly either considered a waste product or raised for veal as I understand it. Eggs lead to the same problem, there are many male chicks born which are seen as no more than a by-product, and hens rapidly come to the end of their useful laying lives. Dairy cows often live their lives in large sheds, not grazing the fields as we like to imagine they all do. They are engineered to produce around twice the milk they would naturally make for their calves, from whom they are torn. I do not want to be part of supporting this cruel industry, of lives being no more than a waste or by-product. The environmental issues are compelling too, but to me, only as a supporting one for the animal welfare case.

But, I love food, I adore nice cheesy dishes, cakes, eating out. Will I just have to accept my life is less food focused and replace my delight in eating yummy things with going to the cinema or something? It seems that, at present at least, food is even more of a focus, making sure I get plenty of nice things, checking labels, etc.

Running a vegetarian guest house raises it's own problems. I do not plan, at this stage at any rate, to make the guest house fully vegan. I therefore have to accept I will need to taste some dishes. Will I find myself with rather large taste test portions?!

Being vegan ought to be a gentle, non aggressive option. But, it seems it is the opposite in some ways - it raises uncertainty, discomfort, questions, defenses. I do not want to be seen as difficult, I do not want to be the centre of an awkward scene in a restaurant as I question ingredients and eyebrows get raised higher and higher. Being organised and arranging vegan meals when booking will doubtless help with this, and I have already been pleasantly surprised by the extent to the knowledge of one pub's staff recently.

It seems that it is more acceptable to have allergies or health reasons to be vegan than to do it for ethical reasons. We recently went to our local Indian restaurant. As I had only been vegan for a few days, I would have felt a fraud to say I was vegan, so I asked for dishes that were dairy and egg free. They told me the ones we had selected were dairy and egg free, but that one of them contained almonds. I was flummoxed for a moment, wondering what the relevance was. Of course, they thought I had an allergy to dairy products, and that I might also have a nut allergy. It seems rather sad that the health considerations of the individual are more recognised and valued than consideration for other creatures.

Another issue is waste. I am still cooking eggs for guests for example. Sometimes these break when I am frying them. I usually eat the broken ones. I cannot now do this. Is it worse to give the dogs yet more treats than to eat it myself?

Will I be able to keep making felt? I am only just getting into it, I have already stopped painting on silk, I do not want to give up using wool in felt making. I recognise each person has to do what they can, there are no absolutes. But, I know how I feel about 'vegetarians' who eat fish. Is a vegan who makes felt similar? Or, is it better I go as far as I can, possibly extending the process as I go, rather than becoming trapped and ending up not doing any of it?

There will be many more questions raised I am sure, and I will keep to 'vegan for today' for now and see how it goes, reporting here. Ooh, I am hungry. We have the most yummy bramble jelly made by Dawn, which goes very well with the homebaked bread, and the little bit of soya marge I use instead of butter, should mean I start losing weight...

Monday, 7 September 2009

Being vegan

I have now been vegan for four days! It has been easy so far, but we are going out tomorrow, so it may all get more troublesome! By telling myself I am only doing it for a few days, it makes it easy. One of the guests who left today said that is how she still does it, and she has been vegan for three years! I have lost three pounds as well, which is a very good thing, but today I ate a potato rosti and the big baddy - peanut butter, by the spoonful. A big spoonful. Two big spoonfuls.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Vegan for a week

I have decided that I can no longer go on supporting the cruel dairy and egg businesses in the way that I formerly have. To this end, I yesterday decided to try being properly vegan, just for a week.

I didnt tell anyone, even Simon, as that would make a 'big deal' of it, I just wanted to keep it as something I was quietly doing. We have vegan guests staying, so it is easy to have what they are eating, as we usually do, but then not supplement it with the butter etc., I usually use. Simon now knows, as I showed him some of the horrendous images which make me cry and which lead him to say we should be vegan, and I told him my plan!

I plan to blog about it, mainly as a way to record how it is going for myself, with no expectation of the blog being read by others. if it is, that is great!

One day in, and it seems fine so far. But, what will happen when we go out or have vegetarian guests eating supper? What of the wonderful chocolate Brownies at my favourite cafe at Trebarwith Strand? I can have their veggie burger though, it is vegan...

And my main anxiety - will I forget?!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

It is so long since I have posted a blog on here, it is really a disgrace. I now have some of my work in a local shop, which is fun, will see how it goes, and have some photos I must post here. But, the season at the guest house is taking off well, and I have an obsession with the farm town game on Facebook, so I know I will only occasionally post on here over the next few months. I think I shall have to accept, I am a winter blogger! I also have a post to do about Barney on the animals blog! No, Barney has a post to do.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Selling stuff

In the past I have had my wares for sale in a variety of shops, as well as attending craft fairs, doing little 'open studio' type events in my home or the homes of others.
Since living in Cornwall, I have not had anything in any shops, although a few of us do do sales around Christmas. I got to the stage where I felt acutely shy of approaching shops with my work and the above post about procrastination has held sway! However, recently, a friend locally jolted me out of this and into action. She had painted a picture of a local pub and approached the pub landlady with a proposal they buy the picture. They did and paid a very good price too. Her work is lovely. So, I have now approached a shop, The White Horses in Tintagel (they do not seem to have a website) and they were quite enthusiastic about taking my work in, although he spoiled my bubble of confidence at the end of the conversation by saying he will take the work of anyone!
This picture is rather blurred, but is an example of the kind of things I will take in. It is a card of Trebarwith Strand, with Gull Rock, a very distinctive landmark round here. I have made it of felt, made on the embellisher machine. I cannot take a better picture of it, as I sold it this morning! I have a few things, cards etc., for sale at the guest house, and do quite well with these in the summer season.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

never put off...

If only I could get round to it, I could procrastinate for England.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Neglected blog

I have been keeping up with the Michael House blog and the animals have been busy on their new blog, so this one has been sadly neglected.

Just a little grumble. Why does politics and inter-personal strife have to creep into everything, even the most innocuous of local activities? That is the nature of people I suppose, and I'm sure I'm not entirely innocent of all blame. Entirely, notice. Ie, I think I am mostly innocent!
This fellow is entirely innocent. Even though they have their own blog now, they still find their way onto mine. Whatever has happened to his mouth?

Monday, 6 April 2009

mi go, mi go, mi go

i hav not ritten on heer for a long time. i hav not been allowed on heer, as she nu i wud say tru things abowt her. i kan now say that i hayt mi new bel. it is hewj, insulting. and it is on a koller with a diamondy hart. i hav tried to get it off, butt it wont go away. it is to friten off the babi berds and the naybors scardi kat.

vanesser fownd this blog, bi a bear. she thincs we rite similarli. now, that is so rewd, he is just a stuffd beer. i am a propa, reel, living kat. he dus seme to be a bit ov a selebrety bere thow, so may be i wil suk up a bit. luvli beer.

I am praktising mi evill luk. befor bel. evill luk did not werk.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Gadsden purchase and other stamps

I am still wading through my parents things. My mother died over 6 years ago. She was quite a hoarder and we took about 30 carloads of things to the Oxfam shop when she moved from East Grinstead to Lymington to be near me, and another similar number to the tip. Oh, if only Freecycle had been around then, so much could have been reused, how fast things change, and there were loads of clothes which might now have been snapped up as retro. That was just 8 years ago. Then there was another major sort out when she died. I have saved some things for nostalgic reasons, well, lots really. I have saved some to go through and possibly sell. Now, I am going through things once more, and am sending things off to charity shops and Freecycle. One pile I keep coming across and putting aside to sort 'another time' is her stamp collection.
I have always cut out the stamps from letters received and sent them to Oxfam, (any guesses where I got this habit from?), who sort and make up packs and sell them, presumably sending some abroad where our boring ones become of interest! I feel quite wicked if I just put the whole envelope in the recycling with a stamp on! I also keep some envelopes from junk mail with pretty innards, to make into card, but that is another story! Who did I say was a hoarder?

card made using insides of old envelopes

I recently sent some to the Plymouth Oxfam, and received an unexpected and very grateful letter in return. They are struggling to get enough stamps for the packs they sell, and have had to use some from their store. So, please do send your old stamps to them, they will be very pleased.

My parents worked in the Oxfam shop in East Grinstead for many years.

I have now found the perfect solution to all the stamps that my mum had sorted into countries of origin but never mounted, as well as the vast collection of old stamps from this country. I have boxed them all, ready to go off to Oxfam. I shall feel virtuous, Oxfam will have a source of stamps for a while, we shall all be pleased. I have just got to go and do it...

One stamp I shall not be sending, among others I shall keep for now, is this Gadsden Purchase one. My maiden name was Gadsden.

'The Gadsden Purchase (known as Venta de La Mesilla, or "Sale of La Mesilla", in Mexico[2]) is a 29,670-square-mile (76,800 km2) region of what is today southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico that was purchased by the United States in a treaty signed by President Franklin Pierce on June 24, 1853, and then ratified by the U.S. Senate on April 25, 1854. It is named for James Gadsden, the American ambassador sent to Mexico at the time. The purchase included lands south of the Gila River and west of the Rio Grande. The Gadsden Purchase was intended to allow for the construction of a transcontinental railroad along a very southern route, and it was part of negotiations needed to finalize border issues that remained unresolved from the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War of 1846–48.
As the railroad age grew, business-oriented Southerners saw that a railroad linking the South with the Pacific Coast would expand trade opportunities. However, the topography of the southern portion of the Mexican Cession was believed to be too mountainous to allow a direct route, and projected southern routes tended to run to the north at their eastern ends, which would favor connections with northern railroads. That would ultimately favor Northern seaports. A route with a southeastern terminus, in order to avoid the mountains, might need to swing south into what was then Mexican territory. '

courtesy of Wickipedia.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

earth hour

Tonight, at 8.30pm, we are all encouraged to switch off our lights. This is a symbolic gesture of protest against what is happening to the planet, and is intended as an international wave from the earth, something like a Mexican wave in reverse I suppose, as the lights go out around the world as each country reaches 8.30 pm.

I will be supporting this, and have encouraged others to do so too, but it can only be valuable if it has a longer term impact, at a personal, national and international level.

At a personal level, I grew up with parents who were perhaps ahead of their time, but it infuriated me at the time. They switched off everything if it was not in use, they conserved everything, reused everything, rescued everything that might be of use, ate an excess of lentils. The war had an enormous impact on them which was long lasting. Thus, I have an awareness of how right it is to take care of our world, but a bit of me has also rebelled against this abstemiousness. The devilish temptation to leave lights on because I can, to eat sweet things because I can, buy something new because I can (not that I can afford to at present!), just sometimes takes over. And I am 52! I am still going through their things, six years after my mother died, and sending them off to the charity shops.

I try to do a little. I send my used stamps off dutifully to Oxfam as I always have. I rarely throw anything away that could be used again or sent somewhere that someone else could make use of it. Running a guest house, I need it to look welcoming to potential guests, so do keep the outside light on and the hall light on into the evening, but we do turn others off if we are not in the room. We reuse, recycle, reduce our purchases, I always have tended to, despite that little devil, I suppose it really is a tiny, shrinking devil who surfaces less and less!

On a national and international level, the picture seems bleak to me at present. Even there, small changes could be effected without too much trauma. Although churches and public buildings look lovely floodlit, do they need to be lit so much, for so long? The Peak Oil situation, see is alarming in the extreme. The local response, the setting up of Transition Towns, is a positive way for people to take some control over what happens, before control is taken out of our hands, as it must eventually be if no changes are made.

The current financial crisis may be good for the planet. We are all more careful with what we do, what we buy, I suspect the amount of rubbish going to landfill is decreasing. I am a huge supporter of Freecycle, and am one of the 'owners' (daft term, I do not own it!) of the Wadebridge site.

One thing I do not like is the tendency to out 'green' each other. I am sure I am guilty of it, but I do try not to fall into this trap. We all do what we can, well, most of us do, but there is always someone who will criticise our efforts and have to do it better. There are so many contradictions, so much to learn that seems full of jargon, it can be almost impossible to know what to do for the best. I guess though, that this has been the case throughout history and it is only hindsight that will tell us what we should have done.

Friday, 27 March 2009


I have removed the piece of felt that was shown in my title. I have never been happy with how it was displayed and need to have a tweak with other ideas, but I do find this the most challenging part of blogging!
My first ever tea bag folded card. This is not something I would have ever tried, but we had a go in our group and it is great fun, calling for a high degree of accuracy. The term apparently derives from folding the decorative bags tea bags came in in some parts of Europe in the past, presumably when tea was a valuable commodity.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

three beautiful things

I have not done this for a while, which usually indicates I am surrounded by beautiful things and have no need of reminding myself!

Tiny jonquils, found in the hedge where they were not visible, so had to pick them! They delighted me on the shelf by my computer for a few days. Rather fuzzy photo.

Bonsai pepper tree. We have made a couple of attempts to keep bonsai trees, but they both died, very soon after buying them, so we blame the shop/growers! Not deterred, Simon was given this for his birthday. So far, it is thriving, and looks great against the white wall. it has even needed a little pruning!

'This bath is now over'. Barney having his bath before he went on his holidays with Philippa.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Less Ness

This is what I am aiming for, at any rate. I have started Weight Watchers. It has been looming for some time, but I have been putting off the moment. I am doing it on-line, Simon has joined up too, we both have health related matters which would be best tackled smaller! So far, I have lost 4 pounds and am managing OK, but feel very hungry tonight. I like the structure of the 'Tracker' to keep my food intake under control. We have quality chocolate each day, and this I am enjoying far more than when I was scoffing a bar of chocolate a day, it is now a real treat, to be looked forward to. I promise not to go on about it too much here!

No, of course this isn't me! Thank you Internet for lending this image, hope it is OK to do so.

Friday, 13 March 2009


This dresser is now in use in our kitchen and I love it. It was originally given to my parents many years ago, and I hated it! It seemed old fashioned, tatty and daft! I have recently given it a bit of a makeover, although I rushed it, as is my wont, but that does not show in the picture!
By the time we moved to Michael House, I had decided I liked it and wanted to restore it, and so it sat in our shed for five years!

I did strip the drawers properly.

It is of oak construction, many might see my painting over the wood as wickedness.

But, it is now bright, light and very, very useful. It is full of quirkiness. The little spice section has a soft area to the top of it, acting as a lid to the three glass jars. The little glass drawers are precious and i doubt could be replaced. I cracked one cleaning them in overly hot water. The glass jars at the top also have a soft section above them, with a wooden system which lowers and again acts as a lid across all the jars.

There is a glass area inside one of the top doors for reminders of what to order, such as mace and wheatmeal

The other door has reminders of how to do household stuff, such as dealing with chimney fires and how long to cook things. Larks only take 10 - 12 minutes, and brussels sprouts 15- 20 minutes. There is evidence of poor painting around the edges of this area, but most of that was already done badly before I started. I know, I know, I should have cleaned it off.

I love it, it is so ergonomically designed. I do not know when it was made, or anything about it's history, and would love to know more. Surely people have not been eating larks for a very long time? My guess of it's manufacture was around the 20's. But, were people needing to know how long to cook larks that recently? Could it be a copy of a French dresser?

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Bad blogger

Berri tucked up with his pig in a rather dirty doggie duvet

Recently I seem to have been using Facebook at the expense of my blog! Sometimes I am more drawn to one, sometimes the other. I have got some blog posts in my head, but that is where they will have to stay for a couple of days at least, as I have guests arriving today and a house that is far from ready to receive them.

Our craft group is going along really well, it is great fun. We focus for a couple of weeks on one topic and then move to another. It does work best when at least one of us is a bit ahead and can introduce the rest of us to a subject. I have done this with felt making and will carry that forward as well as leading a session on card making. One week we had a go at mosaics, this was less successful, as it looks easy and we were all a bit over ambitious. We did not really have the most suitable materials, just multi-purpose grout from a DIY store and loads of old bits of crockery etc!

We are learning about each other too. The group laugh at me for the amount of materials, books, and general stuff I have for some of our subjects. We did patchwork last week, and I found some templates and books (and a few little half made hexagons of Laura Ashley fabric!) from way over 30 years ago. Well, I was able to get on and have a go and share my materials. I was very modest in my efforts, only aiming to make a piece to use on a card. I will add it here once completed. We do have a great laugh.

Friday, 27 February 2009

25 random things about me

I was tagged on Facebook to do this, so have copied it to here as well. A bit of a cheat, but a fun exercise. Do have a go on your blog and let me know, I love reading them!

1 - I can't think of any things about me, let alone 25. OK, I lived in Sarth East London for 17 years.
2 - I went to just one school all the way through, for 13 years - a Steiner school
3 - I often eat peas, friom the freezer, briefly boiled up, on their own. I also often eat sweetcorn straight from the tin.
4 - I grew up a Quaker, and still feel a strong affinity, if it weren't for the God bit
5 - I had osteomyelitis, twice, when I was 14, and was in hospital for Christmas. It was quite fun
6 - I was good at art at 5, and had pictures all over the walls at school. My art teacher wrote something along the lines of 'despite her lack of ability...' when i was 14ish. I love art now, and paint, love pastels. I have sold 7 of my pictures!
7 - I have never, ever, eaten meat - well, OK, once, by mistake.
8 - I have never, ever, been tempted to eat meat. It just doesn't seem to be anything to do with food.
9 - One of my favourite places is the Victoria Falls, from the Zambian side
10 - I was adopted, age 6 weeks. I met my birth mother when I was 32. she died 8 years later, she was lovely. The process brought me closer to my adoptive parents as well.
11 - When I lived in the New Forest, I loved going to Monkey World.
12 - When I was about 12, I wanted to be a geologist. When I was about 14, I discovered it involved maths.
13 - My favourite place is Cornwall, Trebarwith Strand is hard to beat.
14 - I have an MA in Mental Health. I am proud of this. My dissertation was on the impact companion animals have on the daily living skills and self esteem of people with mental health problems.
15 - Yesterday, I bought some squeezy bottles from Lakeland, like they use in Masterchef, in the hope it will transform me into an exceptional cook
16 - I make nearly all the greetings cards I send. I love making things.
17 - When I trained as an Occupational Therapist, we spent 6 weeks doing basket making, a skill I would later strenuously deny when ribbed by non OTs!
18 - I love blogging.
19 - I love animals and get desperately upset about animal welfare issues, factory farming, abuse generally. I could never be active in this field, as I would get too upset. My bit is running my vegetarian guest house and doing what I can in my own life and gently raising awareness.
20 - I have not shopped in Tesco for nearly 2 years. This was initially because I learned they stock live turtles in their shops in the Far East, which cannot be humanely killed. But it is now because of a range of additional issues, their refusal to stock only free range eggs and poultry, their treatment of suplliers, their apparent attempt at world domination, judging by the number of Tesco lorries we see when we are out.
21 - My favourite meal is a jacket potato, with rich tomato sauce (with capers, sun dried tomatoes and loads of garlic), cheese and vegetables. And something with chocolate for dessert.
22 - I use a monocular to view distant objects, I only use one eye at a time, so two lenses is wasteful of limited world resources. I had an operation to correct my squint when I was 37. On the way home from it, I heard that John Smith had died.
23 - I would love to make Michael House posher and more luxurious
24 - I love the music of Geoffrey Oryema, Schubert, requiems, oratorios, and the kora, and Radio 2!
25 - I grew up going on Aldermaston Marches - ban the bomb - and first went in my pushchair. I am a fan of Tony Benn.
26 - I hate getting up, and rarely get to bed before midnight. Only 25, oh, it's 26! I'm only just starting...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

visiting 5

I is werring thiss kertin

I is stukk
i is not larfing any more, let me owt

visiting 4

I iz hiding in thiss kertern

no human assistance was provided in the adoption of the above ludicrous stances. Human rescue packages were, however, later offered to Sky.

visiting 3

sunset at Camber Sands

visiting 2

The main purpose of our visit was to see Uncle Maurice, now 96 and still living alone and coping pretty well. I have waxed lyrical about him in previous posts. He wanted Simon to look at a tree, which he duly did, and suggested UM get a full tree survey. The tree in question dropped a branch onto a neighbour's garage, causing some damage, apparently, although the branches looked pretty thin. If he has a survey, he will be fully covered by insurance if there are any problems in the future. But Simon did not feel there was too much of a risk from the tree in question, but that one or two others might need a bit of a trim. We had a lovely lunch out, during which UM questioned most of what I said, basically suggesting it was rubbish. He prides himself on being an intellectual, and I think, me on not being! He likes to refer to writers he knows I will not have heard of, and he likes to dismiss my use of terms such as 'creativity'. He also thinks Facebook is absolute rubbish, I would not really expect him to think otherwise, but also suspect he, as his sister, my mum used to, is overly keen to dismiss anything of which he has no knowledge. But, if I reach 96, which I doubt, I hope to be as alert as Uncle Maurice and able to lead 51 year olds a merry dance of words. In the above picture, he was a mere 95!


Berri has stolen Sky's ball again
Philippa and Peter
Now Stan has stolen Sky's ball

Snow, what snow, just throw my ball

It is hard now to remember back to the snow we had not long ago, as there is no trace of it any more.

When we headed up towards the Wiltshire plains, there was plenty. We were not sure we would get there as the A30 was shut by snow (6th feb), and we waited at home until the road was partially cleared around Okehampton. It was a magical journey, the trees were weighted down and the hills reflected the purples of the sunset. I have no photos of it sadly. The roads were nearly empty of traffic, but the snow did not stop one or two drivers' appalling behaviour - eg a tanker coming up behind us, hooting and flashing, overtaking and doing the same to the lorry in front which had been driving very well. For most of the way there was just one lane cleared. I was glad to be in the Landrover.
We then had a lovely weekend with Philippa and Peter and then headed on to Henley-on-Thames, to see my niece and her husband and their son, Tom, nearly 2.
That evening we headed off to sussex, the weather was awful, heavy rain this time! We were glad to arrive at the little cottage we have rented twice before, at Icklesham.

oops, bit of a paws

thiss cubbord nedes painting. now. i is not duing it, yu is.

paws can be accounted for by

a - being away for a week

b - being busy on return with guest house

c - having serious Man Flu for that past few days

normal service will resume shortly.

Ted has been a very good nurse, or so he thought. Sleeping on my face, further restricitng my breathing, did nto really help though.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

what a waste of good snow

Snowing over the sea, what's the point of that?

Thursday, 29 January 2009


We were told that there were huge flocks of starlings gathering over the woods beside Rough Tor on Bodmin Moor to roost at this time of year.

When we visited, we were not disappointed. As we arrived, some time before dusk, groups of starlings were streaming into the area, settling on the fields or in the trees, then taking off again and swooping around once more. We headed into the woods and it was an amazing sight. They chatter loudly, but only once they have settled in the trees, never in flight, it seems. The sound when they are flying is of their wings. It is advised to avoid having one's mouth open when looking straight up at them!
The image shown above is not mine, but is similar to what we saw. We did not see them performing high in the sky, the swoops and swirls of the flock working as one being we witnessed in the programme 'Swarm' recently. We may have been too close, or it may have been that the birds were just seeking rest and did not bother with all that display stuff! There was a brief 'The Birds' moment when it felt as though thousands of starlings were swooping at me, but of course they were not. It would be amazing to see them leave, presumably around dawn, but dawn is not my time of day...

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Art and Craft Group

We have just started up a new art and craft group in Treknow. Treknow is a tiny village of some 140 houses, many of which are holiday homes or holiday lets. Last week we had 8 people to the group, this week, 10. I think that is pretty good as we start out, and just right to get to know each other better and work together. The plan is to have a topic approximately every second week and to consolidate the subject or do our own thing on the other week. The first week we discussed the plans for the group and made out an initial programme. We had mulled wine, and one person had brought along their spinning wheel. she told us she had not used it for 20 years, and proceeded to use it fluidly and perfectly. We took turns on it, with hilarious results. It is very difficult to co-ordinate the foot pedal and the hand movements, and we had the best fun any of us had had in a long time. We did not look like the lady above, we all had teeth which I think she may not!
This week I lead a session in felt making. That was great fun, and people discovered that felt making is fairly easy, if slightly arduous. We tried both needle felting and wet felting and I had also taken along my embellisher machine which one or two people tried. i think at least a couple of people were inspired enough to peruse this craft on their own, and i suspect we will return to it a s a group in the future. I will add some photos later.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Forever Friends

forever friends image - Google Search

how hideous are these? They are everywhere in the card making world. Yuck. I have never been one for cutesy things, these are just the worst!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Craft Magazines

I am noticing that my creative interests are changing. I subscribed a few years ago to several card making and craft magazines. I used to greet their arrival with excitement and spend long hours absorbing many of the ideas they contained. Now, however, I find most of the ones I receive to be far from exciting, and many of the ideas dull. I still get a frisson of excitement occasionally, and have lots of pages stashed away in folders. But, things like Forever Friends, which seems to have flooded the card making market, I think are really trashy and yucky! The magazines I pass onto friends or Freecycle are increasingly complete! I have today cancelled all my direct debits to magazines. They have changed companies it seems, so the direct debit details have changed, so I had hesitated to cancel any, for fear of cancelling the wrong ones! Now, I do not care. I can always start afresh, and get the 'free' gifts again, or just get the occasional magazine from the shop if I fancy! Maybe the magazines have changed, but I think I have shifted more. I am more excited by textile magazines now, felt making, as well as art. The magazines I was taking just seem to be expensive adverts for products I do not want and cannot afford.

3 Beautiful Things

Today, well by the time I took the dogs out anyway, was so far from beautiful, that I think the discipline of thinking of '3BT's is called for!

- laughing and chatting with a person I often see but rarely talk to much, as we were both getting soaked walking our dogs.

- making my first reasonably successful sheep in felt

- having a craft room all to myself, still in a mess, but getting there.

Notice how I still manage to qualify these, with 'reasonably', 'still in a mess'...

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


For a long time I have been talking to a friend locally about the possibility of Sky, our collie, joining an agility class. Finally, aged 13, (sadly, Sky, not me!), but still very fit and agile, we went along to a group this evening. It was very entertaining, and I had a great time, but not exactly as expected.
It was not really the right class for Sky to join, as the others were already au fait in the basic principles, and we were clueless. We were invited to watch. It was lovely seeing all the dogs jump and follow directions. Sky looked very eager to join in. She was given a little go at the end. She just went around the jumps, so pleased to be off the lead and she wanted to play with the balls that were around, not jump over silly bits of plastic. I felt most let down by her. Then, when we left, she did a poo just outside, so that had to be cleared up in the dark. As I walked along just behind the others, who were talking of the hazards of a nearby speed bump, I fell, smash over it, in mud and humiliation, holding the poo bag aloft in an attempt not to squidge it on myself.

I think Sky may have the agility required, with training, but perhaps I do not. We have been having a little go with setting up little jumps with the broom and bowls! We may abandon plans for further humiliation for now.
There was something else going on today. Now, what was it? Oh, some inauguration or other. It was wonderful, and he fluffed his lines, and the speech was great and it was all so uplifting. There was depth, history, vision, intelligence. But then, I have never had the slightest interest in watching the inauguration of the President of the US before, so I can't pretend to make any comparisons. But, I bet there are many, many people who have likewise never been interested, and therein lies the hope of the world that Obama can shift the US and the world a few inches in a more constructive direction.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

One day!

One day, 9 hours, 7 minutes. That is how long it is until Barack Obama replaces George Bush, according to my 'Backwards Bush' countdown. How exciting, just hope that all goes well for him and that he can rise to the enormous expectations the world has for him. He can't of course, no-one person could, but maybe he can edge the process of change towards a more positive world.

Monday, 12 January 2009

A little observation

I sometimes press 'next blog' at the top of the blogger page, just to see what there is out there. This can be quite addictive, sometimes I have found interesting art, craft or literary blogs, or have followed links on to other blogs and probably then lost track of where I started out! My observation, however, is that in my surfing, I come across less and less in English. Less too, in our alphabet. I assume this is a reflection of how popular blogging has become, and the increase in people blogging all around the world, and those in English are becoming a smaller proportion of the whole. Many have photos, so the language is secondary.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

A spot of arty stuff

Once a week, well far less as I can't always get there when we are busy with the guest house, I attend an art group in Tintagel. It is great fun, I catch up on the banter I miss by working alone much of the time. I am really enjoying pastels at present. These are cheats in a way, as I used a book of pastel techniques for my source for these pictures, rather than using photos or real life. But, I quite like them!

Pastels are really messy to use, the dust gets on everything. I have not fixed any of the pictures, so have difficulty moving them about without them getting smudged. These two may get framed, but the ones which are not good enough I do not know what I will do with. I use most watercolours I have completed for a variety of purposes. The ones which I cannot frame get chopped up into cards, or used in my die cutting machine to make flowers or other shapes, used for backgrounds, etc! There is little waste. I will just have to ensure that all my pastels are good enough to go behind glass. There are fixatives available, or you can use hairspray, but these apparently dull the colours, I have not tried.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

'Backwards Bush'

It is amazing to see it saying 13 days left, it must have been there nearly a year! I wonder what it will do when Bush goes, will it vanish, or will it start counting in minus, or just freeze up until I delete it?

For anyone reading this who thinks I may be mad, well, I probably am, but, that aside, there is a little widget to the side of my blog which is counting down the days until George Bush leaves the Whitehouse!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Trago Mill

In Cornwall, there is a very strange phenomena, Trago Mill. It is a shop, well I think there are three, it is an institution, a source of love and loathing. It sells just about everything, some things at greatly reduced prices, but, beware, not everything is cheaper than elsewhere! The one near Liskeard is situated in a bizarre, castellated but tacky building. There are political notices scattered about, proclaiming the wonders of UKIP (The United Kingdom Independence Party, seeking to leave the EU), and you have to show your receipt when you leave the store, which is then scribbled on without being unravelled or even glanced at.

The image shows a tiny section from the rear of the building, so gives a limited impression of the place.

We went there yesterday. We brave the place about once a year, usually seeking specific things, but then finding a few other 'essentials' we didn't know we needed. It is not as bad as Ikea in that way. Ikea manages to have loads of things I didn't know existed, but then realise are essential. Fortunately I do not go often, I have been only once since moving to Cornwall five years ago. At least Trago only has familiar things!

I think I still fall into the loathe it category, but I did quite enjoy our visit. I think my experience was improved by the friendliness of the staff, which I have never felt they were on previous visits. Perhaps in 2010 I will venture there again.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

word for 2009

after looking at Shelagh Folgate's blog just now, I was inspired to think of what my word for this year would be. I have decided it will be - explore. What is yours?

The end of Christmas

This is a knitted nativity set I have had for a few years. I did not knit it! I love it, and I know of at least two others locally. Where has Joseph gone? He is hiding amongst the kings! Behind the scene is a copy of the labyrinth situated at Rocky Valley near here. I suspect the labyrinth is about fertility, so not that out of place really.
The sheep is kissing (or possibly eating) the baby.

Ah, there's Joseph, a bit the worse for wear, blurry, after all that myrrh. I don't think you are meant to drink myrrh Joseph.

I always greet the end of Christmas with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is good to get the decorations down and clear the space and get on with the new year. On the other, it seems a shame to put away all the pretty things, take down the tree and leave the festive season behind. I try to leave the taking down until the 6th January, 12th night, as this has been how I have done it throughout my life. I am not religious, I do not even properly know the significance of 12th night. I have noticed that the tendency is for Christmas to start earlier and earlier and for it to end sooner as well. When I was a child, we would only put up the tree shortly before Christmas, but it stayed up until 12th night.


There was a TV programme tonight, the first of a two parter, about swarms. The bees were extraordinary, covering a man who had used a pheromone spray to mimic the Queen bee, they were even walking in his face, he looked as though he was wearing a bear suit. The starlings were phenomenal, we see them doing their tricks in the sky not far from here, but not on the scale of these, above Rome. They became less welcome after dark, when they found their nighttime roosts. The crabs and ants were fascinating, and the mayflies were beautifully filmed. The flies which were made into fly burgers and the locusts were less appealing, as were the cicadas who burst out of their skins into flying versions. But worst of all for me, were the mice in Australia. Millions and millions of them, literally pouring out of a farm building where pigs lived. Until they focused on just a pair, looking very sweet at the end. I couldn't help drawing a parallel with the human race, individually wonderful, but, en masse, sometimes the power for good gets lost. The programme next week will explore the science of swarming behaviour.

The butterfly in the porch

This is the butterfly in the porch, not nearly so pretty as the picture I stole from the Internet for an earlier post, but he is the real thing!

He is looking quite healthy, his wings do not appear to be damaged. It is forecast to be very cold tonight, hope he will be OK. What I am also noticing, is the rather shabby paintwork he is having to sit on. I have plans for that...

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Resolutions proper

OK. Thinking about what I want to achieve in 2009 I have found there are really two areas I want to focus on.

I want to develop my business and take more risks, not just stay in the safe niche i could choose. I plan to offer cheapish evening meals to local people again, e.g. curry evenings, and make Michael House available to groups of people to have meals or arrange meetings or other events, craft weekends etc. i am planning a curry evening at the request of someone locally, probably for the beginning of February. I am also aware of the need to consolidate what I have achieved so far, and need to establish which of my marketing strategies is most effective, by keeping better records of how people found us.

I want to develop my creativity. I don't only mean in making things or painting, but also in tackling the uncertainly of the coming months in financial terms, reducing dependency on new things, using what I have effectively, altering and improving things, be it clothes or decorating parts of the house, which is due a freshen up. I need to get my craft room working properly for me, make it feel inviting and less cluttered, so that I get more of my ideas into reality.

These are things I feel positive about, not just chores I could rewrite each year with no progress.


St Michael's Mount, picture taken early last year. Included for no other reason than I like it!

Perhaps reverse psychology is called for here. For example, I usually stay up until midnight, but, on New Year's Eve, because I was trying to stay awake, I wanted to go to bed early. I spoke to several people who felt the same! Let's start with the following New Year's Resolutions:

Procrastinate. Never do today what I can put off until tomorrow.

Be less creative.

Spend more time on Facebook.

Eat more, exercise less, go to bed later.

As soon as I set myself a target I seem to need to rebel against it and do the opposite. Trouble is, I know I am only kidding myself with the above! I will leave the sensible plans to another post.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

Trebarwith Strand on a sunny winter's day, probably last year!

I can't believe it is 2009 already. I haven't got used to it being 2008 yet, I'm only just adjusting to the 21st Century! Am I showing my age in this?!

I plan to add some resolutions, once I think of some I might stand a chance of keeping. The mental health charities advise against making resolutions in January, as being fuel for feeling even more miserable if they fail at a time when moods are often low anyway! But, if I don't make them now, there is no likelihood of me doing so in, say, August when the sun might be out. The 'eat less, lose weight, exercise more' type will not feature, and can be taken as read.

Happy New Year.