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.