Saturday, 22 December 2012

It's Christmas Time

Well, where has December gone ...... suddenly it's Christmas! Having been laid low for a month or so, with a succession of bad back, sore throat and head cold, it's been a bit of a rush to catch up and have everything ready in time for the festive season. But ..... I actually think I'm done now, pressies wrapped, most of my food and drink bought, the decos up and can relax a bit.

Here are a couple of photos of St John's Church in the centre of Blackpool, complete with Christmas Tree and children's funfair.

Actually, Lindsay and I had a lovely night out last Tuesday when we attended the Grand Theatre in Blackpool to listen to a Christmas Carol Concert given by the Poulton-le-Fylde (Silver) Brass Band. It was a wonderful evening, begun with a delicious meal at Nando's chicken restaurant (the chicken was tasty and succulent and the service great - we shall definitely be going again). Nando's is literally situated on the opposite corner to the Grand so we didn't have far to walk! The evening consisted of traditional and contemporary carols played by the brass band, along with sing-a-long carols, an acapella group (who sang to everyone in the foyer of the theatre as we all left - in fact, Lindsay had her photo taken with them and they sang an extra song especially for us - great ending to the night)!

Lindsay "leaning on the lamp-post" outside the Grand !
The Grand is a fantastic Victorian music hall theatre

Mia had a high old time after I had decorated our Christmas tree - she will insist on clambering up inside the tree, standing on her back legs and batting at the baubles through the branches or even trying to gnaw the fairy lights (which merits a bit of a telling off each time - she only does this when I am on the phone - next to the tree  - and she wants my attention!).

Wishing You All a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and New Year 2013 !

See You Next Year !

Monday, 19 November 2012

Life with a Siamese Cat ............

........ is never dull !  Mia had a very quiet day yesterday, she snuggled up on my dressing gown most of the time and didn't fancy going out much at all.  But oh, didn't that change once it was our time for bed !  At that point she decided it was time to play, zapping round the house, tagging us, chasing and retrieving balls of paper (one of her favourite games) - okay, that was fine, but the next thing there was a loud crash from downstairs and Max (my son) and I rushed downstairs to find out what had happened, putting on all the lights and checking in every room.

Oh yes, I finally discovered what Mia had done - she must have been chasing a little fly or midge (I had heard her chunnering a little earlier in the evening) - and she had obviously jumped onto the windowsill in the front room to catch it, knocking over a large metal bowl and its contents, as well as completely shredding the net curtains !!!  (Not for the first time, I might add, but now completely beyond redemption and so I'll be ordering some new ones shortly - nets aren't my favourite decor but are necessary in our front room to provide privacy from the outside world ..... I already discarded the ones in our bedroom completely because Mia had ripped them too ...... not sure how long new ones will last though *LOL*) !

How can a creature as gorgeous and beautiful as this (err, the furry one in the picture of course!) .......

wreak this amount of havoc ......... !

Mia definitely keeps us on our toes and, like I say, there's never a dull moment.  As my husband says, there are cats and then there are "Siamese" cats and anyone who is owned by one will utterly understand and sympathise.  (I can highly recommend the very funny books by Doreen Tovey about living with Siamese cats). We've had glass nightlight holders knocked off the mantlepiece and smashed to smithereens (at 3 in the morning ..... now that was a grand way to be woken up!), the sides of the bed shredded, found a diverse assortment of goodies (pens, wire, paper, and other things we'd been looking everywhere for) pushed under chairs and sofas and she's an expert at sniffing out any wool I've got stashed away and tangling it into an unusable mess.  Not to mention her trick of jumping vertically onto the top of the kitchen cupboards, then dropping down suddenly next to you whilst you're making a sandwich!  But of course, we're all totally besotted with her and she gets away with "murder".  (Right now butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, she's all curled up fast asleep on her cushion on the floor next to me).

Well, what else?  Not a lot happening, artistically speaking, at the moment ..... any creative inspiration I've had has deserted me at the moment and I'm waiting for it to come back and visit again. Done some sock knitting, that's about all.  Mind you, I was laid up with a bad back for a week - not something I normally suffer from. All I did was bend to dry myself after a shower and that was it, obviously wrenched something I shouldn't have, and it led to several very painful days, dosing myself up with painkillers and keeping a hot water bottle against my spine.  The worst experience was when I tried to get out of bed one morning, I'd managed to roll onto my back, but I literally could not move and I ended up feeling quite panicky. Graham tried to help best he could (he has a permanently bad back so you can visualise the scenario - at least he understood how much pain I was in).. I kid you not, it took me 35 minutes to finally manoeuvre into a position where I could ease myself out of bed with a bearable amount of pain. I think it was the fact that Graham threatened to call the paramedics in 5 minutes and they'd stretcher me out and take me to hospital that made me have one last final shot at getting up. Not much fun I can tell you, but we did have a laugh about it afterwards.

This week I have a cold and sore throat, so I've been staying home and keeping warm - hopefully I'm on the mend now, but I'm fed up of all this not feeling 100% fit nonsense.

Attended a Remembrance Day Service with Lindsay on 11th November - it was the anniversary of our Dad's death too, so it was a particularly poignant and moving ceremony for us both. Hard to imagine that a whole year has passed since his death.

Then last week Lindsay and I went for a meal and to The Grand Theatre in Blackpool for a ballet performance of "A Christmas Carol".  Something a little different for us to enjoy, with all the dance, music and costumes.  We'll be there again next month too, for a Christmas Brass Band Concert, to get us in a festive mood.

So ...... better go and sort out some net curtains, I think.  Wonder what other mischief Mia has planned for us?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

It's been a while .......

...... but life's been fairly quiet here for the past few weeks and I've done no crafting or journalling to speak of either.  Going through one of those uninspired phases that we all suffer from, from time to time.  However, things became a little more exciting last Friday when I was round at Lindsay's for a get-together and we ended up being evacuated due to a suspicious package on the nearby industrial estate!  Lindsay has written all about it on her blog so if you want to find out more, click here and check out her post "Best Laid Plans" of 5th October.  

As if that wasn't exciting enough, I discovered that Alfie Boe is due to play a concert at the Opera House next April (he's actually a local lad who many years ago before he became well-known worked in the TVR factory with a good friend of ours).  As Lindsay is a huge fan, and I rather like him too, I decided we deserved a treat to look forward to after all the unhappy times we've had recently.  Luckily, I was able to obtain a couple of good seats for us in the dress circle - most of the remaining seats were way up in the gallery (not the best place to be if you suffer from vertigo or don't like heights)!!!!  We have another beautiful Victorian theatre (The Grand), a listed building, here in Blackpool and they also put on a variety of concerts, plays, ballets and operas throughout the year.  We both enjoy the theatre and it seems such a shame not to take advantage when we have such lovely venues.  So we are now also booked in for two more concerts before Christmas ("A Christmas Carol" ballet production and a Christmas Carol brass band concert), just to get us in the mood for the seasonal festivities.  It's good to have nice things to look forward to.

Mia is as mischievous and lively as ever and has become an object of desire for some of the local "toms" - she may flirt and tease them a little, but that's as far as it goes - she wants nothing more to do with them.  Our Italian neighbours across the road have two or three young cats who were born to a stray they took in and they tend to spend most of their time outdoors.  One in particular is a real cutie, a little female tabby around the same size as Mia, and comes over to play in our garden with her most days.  Mia's quite happy chasing her about, playing hide-and-seek and stalking each other, but she gets very cross if "cutie" appears at the window and soon chases her away - the garden is fine but she's not having her in her house, thank you very much!  

I took these photos the other day when I spotted them by the pond through the bedroom window......

Well, this is the first time I've posted with the new-look Blogger and so far, fingers crossed, it's working okay.  I know Lindsay had some problems initially, but I think they're all sorted out now.  Why these sites always feel the need to constantly keep changing things, I just don't know ....... when most of us are quite happy with the way things are.  Ah well, I suppose they have to justify themselves by coming up with new ideas and designs (sigh)!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Put a Sock in It!

I know, a rubbish title but it's very difficult sometimes to think of a suitable or catchy one that links in to the post ..... but I try!

Can't believe it's September already - where did the summer go? - and a couple of evenings over the past weeks there's been an almost autumnal feel in the air.  Made me think of the dark evenings drawing in and cosying up in front of the fire and that in turn made me think about "socks".  I used to knit quite a bit but after having all the problems with my hand, I realised I wouldn't be able to knit any larger garments again so I got rid of a lot of my wool stash.  However, I did keep hold of all my lovely sock yarn and I thought that maybe I'd still be able to knit socks due to the small nature of the items.

So I dug through my sock yarn stash and started knitting - and yes, happy to say, I've been able to carry on without a problem.  I started off using some 20cm long bamboo double-ended needles which I had but decided they were just too long so picked up some new 15cm long (much more manageable length) Knit Pro Symphonie wooden needles and they are just beautiful to knit with.  I've completed the first sock and am a good way through the second one ....... here's a pic of the finished sock and yarn I'm using .........
If you've never tried knitting socks, then I can highly recommend it.  It may seem a bit daunting, working with three, four, even five needles, and it is a bit fiddly to start the casting on, but after that it really isn't that difficult, and there are so many pluses - there are absolutely loads of wonderful sock yarns to choose from and there are plenty of free sock patterns out there on the Internet, you quickly get a sense of achievement and at the end of the day, end up with a great pair of uniquely patterned socks ..... at the moment I'm just sticking to a plain old stocking stitch pattern as it's easier on my hands, but I have in the past made fancier socks using lace and cable patterns.  The best thing about hand-knitted socks is that they are just so comfy and cosy ..... you really can't beat them and I'm looking forward to wearing mine once the weather cools down (and knitting plenty more too over the winter).

Go on -have a go - I dare you!  

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A Birthday Trip

Yesterday was my birthday so Lindsay and I decided to go out for the day to "celebrate".  The weather has been so unpredictable lately that we decided not to risk our first idea of visiting the Zoo, but instead went to Farmer Parr's near Fleetwood - lots of farm animals and other assorted creatures including a corn snake (which I was able to touch, a first for me, and was surprised how dry and cool its skin felt) and our favourites, the little white chipmunks.  There's also an indoors museum displaying items and models (including some rather creepy looking dressed dummies) from bygone days, especially around the time of the Second World War.  Here are a few pics of our day out:-
 Here's Lindsay beside one of the steam roller vehicles on display (apologies for a rather blurred photo).
 One of the shop displays - this was the Cobblers.
 The chipmunks were hilarious, showing off and whizzing around very fast in their wheels!

 The kid goats were just so cute, could've taken one home with us!
There were two huge pigs, named Eddie and Elvis.  Here's Lindsay with Elvis ......
 .......and here's me with Elvis
 Eddie and Elvis together
After our visit to Farmer Parr's (and if you want to see more photos and a link to a You Tube video of the chipmunks that Lindsay took, then click here to visit Lindsay's blog and check out the post titled Heather's Birthday), we popped into the Tavern at the Mill at Marsh Mill in Thornton for a very tasty carvery meal - excellent value - though I don't think Lindsay bargained for being covered in Shandy when I knocked my drink all over her - oops, sorry, sis!

Had a lovely day out (and the sun stayed out most of the time too) and then relaxed at home doing nothing much of anything all evening.

Happy afternoon today too, as I went to watch Blackpool F.C. play Ipswich Town at Bloomfield Road (yes, I AM a football fan!) - it was a six-goal thriller and ALL of them Blackpool's.  The season's only just begun but we've won our first three games to put us at the top of the Championship League and the team's looking great!  

Monday, 6 August 2012

A Couple of Journal Pages

Just thought I'd post pics of a couple more pages I've done in my art journal to show that I am still around and still creating, albeit in "fits and starts", when the mood takes.  

Continuing the words and colours theme, this is what I made ....... the word was "Adventure" and the colours were Indigo, Bright Yellow and Brown.
When I'd covered the page with the acrylic paints and swooshed them with an old plastic card, it suggested someone standing on top of a rocky promontory (somewhere hot and dry), so that's how the page developed.
 I found an image of a leaping woman and adhered her to the page, then added some journalling.
The word and colours for the second page were "Languorous" (just loved the sound of it) and Peach, Pale Pink and Mid Blue.  I found a lovely poem which I wanted to use, as well as the dreamy image of the woman's face, then inked and stamped the page with shells. 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

A Birthday Trip

It was Lindsay's birthday yesterday (Thursday) so we decided to take a trip to Freeport (a shopping outlet) in nearby Fleetwood. Despite a forecast of showers all day we were very lucky and the dark clouds stayed away until late in the day when I was heading back home - and then the rain arrived!

We had a pleasant few hours wandering around and although Lindsay treated herself to some new shoes and a top (she WAS the birthday girl after all!), I was very good and only bought some assorted bags of sweets - flying saucers, barley sugars, floral gems, aniseed twists - from the Sweet Emporium for my other half (who has an addiction to them at the moment).  

There's not a lot of choice when it comes to "eateries" at Freeport so we ended up having a fish and chips lunch - when we came back outside we spotted this very cheeky seagull tucking into the leftovers on people's plates ..........

Loved the harbour, with all the boats moored along each side or sailing off to destinations unknown, and the salty smell of the sea air took me right back to childhood days spent on the local beaches.  

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Art and Soul

Yesterday I actually made a bit of time to sit down and create a new page in my journal, the first piece of "art" I've made since April!  Playing 'catch up' with the journal prompts that Ali sets us and am working on May's theme at the moment.  We had to jot down on paper a random selection of colours and words, then do a "lucky dip" of three colours and one word for each of the four pages.  For this first page the colours and word I pulled out were Black, Olive Green, Lime Green and Soul.  We also had to then choose one image for each page.  This is what I came up with - just plain and simple really, wanted to work quickly without giving it too much thought so that I didn't get bogged down with lots of ideas and inevitably wouldn't have done anything ........... 
 I started by using my Neocolour II water-soluble wax pastels in Yellow Green (nearest I had to Lime), Olive and Black, and blended them with my finger across the page.  I then brushed over the pastels with a little water and heat-blasted to set.
 I cut scrap paper to the same size as the journal page to use as a template.  I placed my chosen image where I wanted it to be on the page and wrote out my chosen quote (by Pablo Picasso) across the rest of the paper.  Each word was then outlined individually as a guide.
Using a scalpel I cut out and removed each word from the page. 
 I lay the "stencil" on top of my journal page and sponged over using a baby wipe to lighten the cut out areas.  I again heat-blasted the page.
I wrote my quote with a fine black waterproof pen in the sponged out areas and drew an outline around each word.  Finally, I adhered the image to the page and rubbed a little soft pencil around parts of it to make it blend in with the background.  Also embellished with a little stamping using Archival Ink in Jet Black and Olive.  And that was all there was to it .................

Nice and Simple!
(hope you like)

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Vintage Day

Thankfully, after the torrential rain that fell non-stop on Friday and resulted in the route of the Olympic Torch through Blackpool being diverted with celebrations brought into the Tower Ballroom rather than outdoors on the new Tower Headland (not having much luck with that venue at the moment - Elton John's open-air concert to open the Headland last weekend had to be cut short due to heavy rain and high winds!), Saturday dawned brighter and Lindsay and I managed to stay dry for our visit to the Vintage and Handicrafts Fair in town.

The Fair was held in the Winter Gardens building in the centre of Blackpool.  A programme of renovation and restoration began a year or so back, to return the Winter Gardens to the splendour of  its Victorian Days.  It was the first time I'd been inside since this work had been done and I must admit the entrance hall does look splendid !

(Apologies for the Ladies Toilets sign slap-bang in the centre of the pics - I tried to persuade Lindsay to stand in front of it but she was having none of it)!

 I absolutely love this shade of blue that's been used to paint the metalwork - just gorgeous!

There were lots of stalls offering a variety of vintage, handcrafted, antique and collectible goodies, along with some rather too noisy music on stage - a young lady with a guitar whilst we were there - the sound system was too loud and we felt rather sorry for the poor sellers whose stalls were directly beneath the speakers.  A section had also been set aside with comfy sofas and a stand offering tea, coffee and cream scones served on vintage crockery.
There were several stalls selling vintage clothes with vendors even dressing the part themselves ....
..... but one of our favourite stands was run by a lady called Wendy Moore whose wonderful fantasy creations of fairies, mermaids, mirrors and shells really caught our eye ..............

Lindsay especially loved these fairies hanging in the tree .......

 .... and we both thought the "blingy" mirror and decorated shell in the photo above were gorgeous too!

Another stall which attracted our attention was this one, selling individual pieces of vintage/collectible crockery.  Maralyn and Robert (trading as One Vintage Lady) run a china replacement service searching out those broken or lost pieces of crockery that you might be hunting for.

Lindsay had been on the lookout for pretty cups and saucers so decided to treat herself to this sweet Teacup Trio ............................
 I was very good and resisted buying anything, though I was tempted once or twice ......... this stall had some rather attractive painted wooden boxes for sale in a faded vintage style ........

 ....... and I was almost tempted by the Siamese cat kitchen roll holder (though I'm not sure what Mia would've made of it)!

Although I didn't spend anything at the Vintage Fair, Lindsay and I spent a few more hours shopping in town and I treated myself to a couple of new tops from M&S and couldn't resist buying two new books for journalling in - the covers were just so appealing.  The smaller book has Tiffany-style covers with ruled pages, ideal for "spill writing" (picked that one up along with another for Lindsay in the Discount Bookshop - only 99p each) and the larger one has plain pages, fairly thin, but will work well for art journalling especially if I glue some of the pages together for added strength.  This came from the TKMaXX store - they always have a wonderful selection of hard-to-resist notebooks and boxes (Lindsay treated herself to one and she may post a picture of it later on her own blog).

Came home rather worn out after a long day in town with poor tired feet, so am having a "chill out" day today - I may even get round to doing a page or so in my art journal (well, it's about time I started "arting" again, particularly since I've acquired even more books to work in) and this evening I'll be glued to the TV watching the England v Italy Euro2012 Quarter Final match (a bit of football over the summer to keep me going until our own Championship campaign begins again in August - here's hoping Blackpool makes it back to the Premier League this season, having just missed out by a whisker at Wembley last month!