Sunday, 27 December 2009

Little felted notebook covers

Now that everyone will have had their little handmade Christmas gifts, I can blog a few of them, so that you can see what has kept me out of mischief over the last few weeks!

The little book covers are needle felted using my embellishing machine. I worked yarn, threads and dyed silk onto an oblong of felt.

Once I was happy with the picture, I added a few beads to complete each one.

They are simply glued onto the front of a little notepad.
I added a little poem of my own to the inside page just for fun!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas Greetings

The last few weeks have flown by- I expect its been the same for most of you. The cleaning, tidying, shopping etc in the build up to Christmas, seems to take up lots of time. I do a bit of that but most of my last few weeks have been thoroughly enjoyable as I have been busy crafting away and making lots of gorgeous little Christmas gifts for friends and family.
I might blog a few after Christmas but not now as I don't want to spoil the surprise!
Its always hard to know what to buy and post to my friends and this year I decide it was going to be "Twiglet-made" goods. So, at least some of my Yorkshire friends will have received a little parcel with a few of these goodies!!
My photo is just the flowers on my hearth with some of Ms old favourites alongside. The little stained glass Santa candle holder was a gift for Ms first Christmas and from the same folk who made the little wooden Santas. A special Happy Christmas to them if they read this!
Christmas will be different for us this year, as we will be spending some of it with M in her new home. She is cooking Christmas dinner and has done the "big shop" instead of me this year.
So, to all friends and family who read this - All my good wishes for a very happy Christmas and a brilliant New Year!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Three little maids...

Have you ever done something that is so familiar to you that you can put yourself on auto-pilot and "go with the flow"? My daughter has decided that her tree decorations are going to be colour coordinated to match her new lounge. (Very "Ideal Home" and fine - until you get to the stage in life when the tree goes up at the last minute and the box of old faithfuls come out of the attic!!)
So, wanting to help with a few little tree decorations, I went into the sewing room and lifted down the box labelled "Christmas mouse bits". What a little treasure store of felt mouse heads, beads, ribbons, lace, lurex threads etc! I collected all the necessary - scissors, needle, sewing thread - and carried them into the lounge so that I could work and watch the Friday night comedy.
And then this was when nostalgia hit and my brain went into overdrive.....
I must have made hundreds of these little mice over the years. Many weeks, working up to Christmas, have been spent making these tiny creatures, either to go on our tree or to give to friends or to sell at craft fairs. Many, many more have been made for the children in my class each year. Girly ones with satin dresses and lace pinnies and boyish ones dressed in felt on skis made from lolly sticks with "cocktail" ski sticks! Each one being carefully wrapped and labelled to go under the class Christmas tree on the last day of term.
Then I remembered the birthday mice - probably for my daughter's seventh birthday. I made her a tiny, two tier wedding cake with a little bride mouse on top and seven, dainty, pink bridesmaid mice for her little friends to take home after the party.
I haven't made any for years now, but, as I sat down to sew, it was as if I made them yesterday. The needle flew and the scissors snipped and in no time at all I had three, gorgeous, white mice dressed in pink and silver. They stood on my mantlepiece over night, looking very festive, awaiting collection. I am sure they will delight their new owner and probably bring memories flooding back to her too. Now I think I might be tempted to make a few more - anybody want one?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

How Roman blinds can lead to fun and laughter!

I made ten blinds for my house and since September I have made ten more for my daughter's home - so I guess, although I don't claim to be an expert, I have had plenty of practice!
Having mentioned this to an old school friend, she remarked that her son and his partner wanted blinds for their lounge. Being the kind hearted soul that I am, I offered to help her to make them.
Last week we went to measure up and yesterday we met up at her house to make them.
I have to say, that although we spent seven years at school together, we have only met infrequently over the years since I moved up to Yorkshire. Moving back to my "homelands" has enabled us to rekindle our friendship. Yesterday was proof that childhood friends are some of the best we ever make.
We arranged to meet in town, so that we could have a quick look round and a coffee, before heading back to start on the gorgeous fabric for the blinds.
The beige linen fabric with cream velour lilies scattered across it was already laid out on the lounge floor, ready for measuring and cutting. We chatted as we deliberated where to start, which lily would look best across the top etc. It was easy to agree and together we measured each blind and then cut them out, as well as the linings to go with them.
The time flew as we reminisced old times, friends and families. We laughed as we worked together, just as we had, as giggling school girls, all those years ago.
With our sewing machines set up on either side of the dining table, we sewed along, managing to get each blind half-finished before tea-time. Mrs Woodroffe, our old needlework teacher, would have been proud of us and indeed her name was mentioned more than once!
I will return next week hoping to find them all done and ready for us to pop over and hang.
It just made me think how good it is to share knowledge and expertise and what fun can be gained in doing so. (Of course having taught infants all my life I knew that already!)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Recycling for fun!

We all have mad moments and make purchases on impulse now and again!

Having checked out a few of the multitude of charity shops in Shrewsbury I came across this well loved, little sweater. I looked at it on the rail and deliberated, then I put it back where I found it and roamed around the shop. The pretty colour and its cheery embroidery seemed to call to me so that, as I walked towards the door, I found myself lifting it from the rail and paying for it.
Having arrived home with my little bargain, I then had to decide what to do with it. I trawled the web and found lots of websites for using recycled sweaters. Suggestions included; bags, purses, hats, leg warmers, brooches and many more.
I followed the instructions on felting sweaters and washed it a couple of times on a hot wash. The result was a tiny, well felted woolly sweater which I cut up into front, back and two sleeves. As I had never sewn with a felted sweater before, I decided to use one of the sleeves first. At least if I ruined that, then all was not lost!!

So, using the embroidered area, I cut out the front and then used the top of the sleeve for the back of a little bag. I used the rib from the neckband for the top of the bag, adding a button and button hole. The strap is a twisted, felted length of wool. I lined it with bright pink cotton fabric.

The result - well make your own mind up - I think its cute!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A new meme - thanks Wipso!

Like Mountainear - I always feel I should do as I am told where Wipso is concerned - so here goes. One word answers only - well more or less.

1. Where is your cell phone? Window sill
2. Your hair? Fair!
3. Your mother? A giggler/Departed
4. Your father? A rock/Departed
5. Your favorite food? Honey
6. Your dream last night? Confused
7. Your favorite drink? Chablis
8. Your dream/goal? Happiness
9. What room are you in? Kitchen
10. Your hobby? Craft
11. Your fear? Depression
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here
13. Where were you last night? Daughter’s
14. Something that you aren't? Miserable
15. Muffins? No - brownies
16. Wish list item? Imagination
17. Where did you grow up? Shropshire
18. Last thing you did? Felting
19. What are you wearing? Jeans
20. Your TV? off
21. Your Pets? Borrowed gerbils
22. Friends? Reliable
23. Your life? Busy
24. Your mood? Contented
25. Missing Someone? Yes
26. Vehicle? Rover
27. Something you’re not wearing? Perfume
28. Your favorite store? Any book shop
29. Your favorite colour? Turquoise
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Remembrance Day
32. Your best friend? Wipso
33. One place that I go to over and over? Wipso’s
34. Facebook? No
35. Favorite place to eat? Home

Friday, 13 November 2009

Hiding acorns

Do jays hide acorns? I have watched this one for about a month now. It appears to collect acorns from the old oak trees nearby and then fly down to the field and push them into the earth. Is it a sign of a hard winter to come? And - more importantly- will it remember where to find them??
Apologies for the poor picture but I was getting dressed and just noticed the jay, over the fence in the field, so snapped it through my window.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

In remembrance

Our two minutes of silence was broken by a robin, singing so beautifully in my garden.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Just a bit of felting fun.

I didn't want to waste my little experiments, made whilst playing er - practising on my new machine. So I added a few beads and mounted them on cards. I have a box full of little experimenst like these. They always come in useful for birthday and thank you cards.

I still have all my daughter's crafting goodies stacked in boxes here so I just dip into all her lovely stash of fabrics, fancy paper and cards. I hope it takes a long time for her to remember that they are here!!!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

What is an embellishing machine?

Machine embellishing

Wipso has, as usual, beat me to it!! She has taken photos of her machine and explained how it works, so if you want a look then pop over to:

Our embellishers are Huskystar ER10 made by Husqvarna Viking. I have owned 3 different sewing machines made by Huskvarna and have found them to be robust and reliable so the Huskystar was my choice. There are several other similar machines.

The basic idea is that fabric/wool/threads etc can be felted to each other using the machine. That means they are fused together without using stitching. The 5 barbed needles simply pierce the top fabric and drag bits into the one below, thus making them fuse together. Its that easy.
Large pieces of work can be felted down really quickly and built up layer upon layer.
The machine is light and easy to carry - after all - its only a small motor and 5 needles - it doesn't have all the heavy stuff a sewing machine needs inside it!

Clover needle felting hand punch

I have a little hand needle felting punch that does the same thing but is much slower of course. Its fine for small pieces of flat felt work like the bits I use for card making. The little hand punch works in the same way, with 5 needles that felt fabrics together - just place them on a piece of foam or specially designed "brush" and push the punch up and down on top of the fabrics. So if you fancy needle felting but don't want to splash out on a machine - then this might be worth a try. Its good fun!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Playing with my embellishing machine.

Now that the ten blinds and 2 pairs of curtains are finished and sitting pretty in the new house, I have had time to play with my new embellishing machine. Wipso has set aside time on a Monday for play to take place and we both surrounded ourselves with wools, silk, satins and all sorts of other pretty bits and bobs.

Our new machines were de-frocked from their plastic covers and play began.

Wipso is making the most gorgeous little bags, so she spent her time felting flowers and threads of every hue onto the little felt bag fronts. If you want to find out more about those then pop over to her blog. She already has orders and sold one or two.

I dipped into one of her felting books for inspiration and came up with the idea for my little brooches.

Starting with felt or fabric for a base, I added frills and twists of silk, chiffon, wool, - well anything that fitted my colour scheme and looked right really. Then I painstakingly added beads and a badge back and voila ! Cute little brooches - all different - about 2 - 3 inches across.

I think I shall make a few more for Christmas - I may even sell a few if anyone is interested.

Wipso's friend thought they might cost about £15 in the right shop - well, I will settle for £7.50!

What do you think??

Friday, 30 October 2009

Do you know about "The Grassroots Fund Challenge"?

Last week we attended a fashion show in this wonderful venue - The Trinity Centre, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury. It is a beautifully designed facility in the grounds of the church and must be a super asset to the area.

We were there for a charity event organised by The Community Council of Shropshire to raise funds for the Grassroots Fund. Now this is a really clever Grant scheme, so, for any Shropshire folk wanting funding for small voluntary and community groups - read on!!!

Every pound donated is matched by the Government so if you include Gift Aid etc - Every £1 donated is worth £2.56 to the fund!!

So, back to the fashion show....

The clothes were provided by Viyella, Country Casuals and Get Ahead Hats and modelled by local ladies. The ticket included scrummy finger food, er - sorry - canapes, kindly donated by Chapel Catering. Tents and Marquees Ltd loaned the catwalk carpet. Wrexham & Shropshire Railways donated 1st Class railway tickets to London and there was a magnificent raffle.

I guess a lot of effort had gone on behind the scenes to ensure the evening went like clockwork.
It really was a super event and will have raised well over £1000 as at least 100 tickets were sold. So, together with the matched funding from the Govenment, that will provide over £2000 for the Shropshire Grassroots Fund which can be used to increase the capacity of small voluntary community groups in Shropshire in years to come.

The Community Council of Shropshire has its own website

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Gorgeous cushions!

For weeks, I seem to have been working away on blinds and curtains for my daughter's new house. Not my favourite job, although after making ten roman blinds for her, I certainly think I have served my apprenticeship!

As she works full time in a very demanding job, she has had little time to help. She is great at the designing and planning and loves doing the "Ideal Home" bit, choosing colours, fabrics and accessories. This weekend however, she decided she wanted to make cushions for her new bedroom. My sewing room is always well stocked with remnants and all sorts of haberdashery bits and bobs. So, off she went in search of the materials to make her cushions.

About three hours later, with a little help from me, she had produced these two little cushions in her grey/pink colour scheme.
I don't have any pink or grey buttons left in my button jar but isn't that what we save them for?

Friday, 16 October 2009

Follow the link

Follow the link to a craft give away draw.

Friday, 9 October 2009

New template

Just fancied a change.
What do you think?

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Our postman is delivering lovely parcels!

This gorgeous little Hush pillow - filled with lavender - was sent to me by Pipany. She has a lovely website for all her beautiful cushions, bags, tea cosies and lots more pretty gifts. Her blog is a delightful chronicle of life in Cornwall, full of amazing photos of the sea, the seasons and her busy life. To find out for yourself go to
As you can see, I hung my little pillow on my side of the bed and the lavender fragrance has certainly helped me to sleep better! I think lavender is making a real come-back. My friend Calico Kate has been making little lavender sachets from vintage doilies. What a clever bunch you all are!!!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Vintage frocks

So vintage frocks are making a come-back and Antiques Roadshow will be featuring some of them! The article in last week's Radio Times mentioned Biba, Mary Quant and Ossie Clark and valued some of their little numbers at anything from £80 to £800.
I felt a quick visit to the wardrobe was needed! Way back in my college days of the early seventies when I was studying Textiles (alongside Bruce Oldfield, I might add here!) at Sheffield City College, I designed and made this wayout silk dress.
Of course tie-dye and the colours purple and orange were trendy in the seventies - hence this gorgeous concoction of hand dyed and embroidered silk. The hemline, sash and centre panel are tie-dyed circles and the main fabric of the dress has a marbled effect. The photo below shows the machine embroidery and beading on the midriff panel. I think the idea came from my design sketchbook based on steam engine wheels!! (Boyfriend liked to visit the Railway Museum at York- the old one not that nice new thing there now!!!)

It is still in perfect condition, full length, fully lined and if my memory serves me correctly, wonderful to wear - I haven't done so for a while as it is a size 10 and I am not!!!!! It helped me gain a Distinction in my course work so I guess it must be beautifully made too - sounds like an advert but I think I would need to be offered a lot of money to sell it. It feels like an old friend - lots of happy memories of fun in the Textile department whilst we were sewing, weaving, potato printing but most of all laughing. Those were the days.....

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Lovely cards & cushions!

I have just visited a friends blogshop -

Calico Kate makes her own cards and also makes gorgeous cushions from vintage embroidered cloths and napkins. If you want something a little different for a gift or card just follow the link.

Wipso and I have been busy with cards, curtains and cosy tops.
She has a holiday coming up and needed her new tops making, ready to take away with her. As you will see if you read her blog she has been extremely busy and struggling with a very sore eye too. So - big sister to the rescue - I have made two smart tops for her using the fabric she bought from Abakhan. I think she was suitably pleased!
This week I shall be busy preparing for my visit by friends from Yorkshire so the sewing will have to wait. I am itching to get going on some smocked, Autumn frocks for Phoebe. I found a super, little top in Sainsbury's and have adapted the pattern to suit my smocking. Hopefully I will get it done before I am inundated with curtains and blinds for my daughter's new house.
Today we had the church garden club sale on Wipso's front garden. She has continued this event, supporting the garden club Dad helped set up over 30 years ago. He always allowed them to use his garden and even gave guided tours of his magnificent vegatable plot! Since 1989 when he sadly passed away, Wipso and her hubby in a million have held the sale, twice yearly, to raise funds for the club. All the members bring spare plants and produce to sell. It was like Harvest Festival with apples, damsons, blackberries, marrow, beetroot, tomatoes and lots of plants at knockdown prices! We even had a raffle and lucky old me - I won a bottle of red wine!
So thanks Wipso - I shall raise a glass to you tonight as I watch part two of "Strictly Come Dancing!"

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Priory School Shrewsbury - 70th anniversary.

My two school friends and I had a great afternoon on Saturday. Our old grammar school - now The Priory School Shrewsbury - celebrated its 70th anniversary. My school friend from Shrewsbury, being a brilliant organiser, bought tickets and arranged for our friend from Poulton le Fylde to join us for the weekend. So we set off to school together, just 40 years since we left in1969!

Amazingly much of the school was just as we remembered it. Of course, there were new buildings, including a smart library and huge sports hall, but mostly it looked much the same. We even recognised cupbards in classrooms and the odd desk or two with ink wells and lids carved with initials from the past - not ours, I hasten to add.

Gone are the draughty corridors open to the elements and threatening frost bite when you ventured out to change classes or worse still strip to PE gear for hockey on the field. The corridors are now glazed and we baked under hot glass as we walked along to Room 3 - the 1960s room. We were hoping to meet old friends from our year but we three were the only ones. We did meet others we remembered and shared their photos and a few happy memories.

Lots of the "old girls" were literally that - ladies who had been at the school much before us - some back into the 30s and 40s. It was lovely to see them enjoying a good natter over their refreshments. The organisers had put on a wonderful spread and even produced a huge celebration cake with the school badge. Our motto, I think, was "haud pro una, sed pro multis" and if my memory and my latin learned all those years ago serve me correctly, means "not for one but for many". Very true I suppose, whichever way you choose to interpret it!!

We took a few snaps of each other and then made our last port of call the old gym where we spent many an unhappy hour in our bottle green knickers!! We opened the door with a faint feeling of trepidation, only to find that it is now a drama hall, an altogether much cosier friendlier place. It didn't stop us sharing a few of our memories of falls from wall bars and struggles to mount leather backed, huge boxes and pommel horses!! We could even recall the names of those lythe, agile beauties who could accomplish all with ease - sadly we were not amongst them!!

Heading for home and a barbecue on this rare sunny evening in my friends back garden, we all three thought it had been an event not to miss but wished some of our other friends had turned up to share it with us.

For anyone interested- left - Josie, Chris, Judith & Gill

Below, gathered around the sculpture called "Femininity" in the quadrangle, are the girls of the Upper Sixth in the summer of 1969. We designed and made that uniform ourselves!!

Those were the days, my friend.........

If you recognise yourself then please get in touch!

PS - Thanks Chris, for organising a brilliant weekend.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Smocking update and a make do and mend project.

Here is my latest little smocking project. I found a pretty piece of lilac and white check fabric which was just perfect for this neat smocked pinafore dress. To work the smocking stitches on the right side of fabric, you first need to run several parallel rows of gathering stitches on the wrong side. Check fabric makes it easy to get the rows straight!

My sister suggested the addition of tiny flowers across the centre of the smocking to match those already embroidered on the fabric. Really pretty, I think!

I only have photos and a couple of measurements for the little girl it was made for, so I was delighted to get an email saying that it fit. Better still, little Fleur loved it and insisted on wearing it all that day - success!!!

My other project was a make do and mend - so easy and satisfying to almost have something for nothing.

I used the frills, lace and fabric from a ladies blouse to create another little pinafore dress for my niece. The pattern for both these dresses was copied and adapted from a dress I bought earlier in the summer so no cost there either!
I must say that my sewing lessons from the 1960's have stood me in good stead over the years and my teacher - Mrs Woodroffe did a brilliant job.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Cancer Research 10 K run

Over a thousand runners began the 10 k run at Delamere Forest in Cheshire to raise funds for Cancer Research on Sunday. Here they are lining up for the start - my 29 year old daughter is one of them. I went along to keep her company on the 100 mile round trip there and back, and to cheer her on along the course ( No, I am not up to running 10 k - I could walk it but I am not built for running!!) I did manage to walk through the woods and cheer her on at the half-way point. She finished in just over an hour and was mighty pleased with herself.

Most of the runners yesterday had messages on their backs saying who they were running to remember or cancer survivors to be thankful for. Today I heard the sad news that a young friend, only 27, has cancer which has already progressed to her liver and lungs. It certainly put our problems in perspective and made us really glad that we made the effort to go yesterday and thus raise a few pounds to help beat this hideous disease.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Where did August go?

Apologies to anyone who follows my blog!
I just don't know where August went - I certainly didn't spend it sunbathing!!!
We had a few fine days but I certainly felt sorry for all parents trying to keep chidren entertained through their school holidays.
Blogging friend had a lovely idea of putting activities on cards in a jar and picking out a different one each day - clever!!

So what did I do....
My daughter is home with us at the moment so she has inspired us to get out and walk more.
We have combined it with picking blackberries and better still, billberries, which have been plentiful on the Stiperstones -along with wonderful views across Shropshire and the Welsh border country. Now I have a well stocked freezer and jars of blackberry jam. I haven't made jam for years so it was quite an experiment but the result is delicious!! The billberries blackened our teeth, tongues and mouths and now I know why you don't often see them on restaurant menus!!
My latest sewing project has been a little smocked pinafore dress for a friend's daughter. She has yet to receive her parcel so I will save the photo until she has seen the real thing. I think its really pretty - I just hope it fits.
We have also been absorbed in tracing my husbands family tree and have found it quite addictive. I may blog more on this later as the everyday history of the times fascinated me. We still have a few unsolved problems to crack.
My sister always said she didn't have time to blog - I think you will see from that she does have time and is making a very good job of both blogging and her little sewing business!!
She set me a task of listing -"Things I have but don't need" and "Things I need but don't have"
Interesting thought, so I will be blogging about that later too.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The wonders of nature

Just a few snaps from my garden to share with you.

Firstly, my fuschias are looking good at the moment. They seem to like the wet weather even if we don't! They are fairly common varieties I think. One only cost £2 from our local supermarket and is a mass of blue - pink blooms. Great value. The others are little hardy bush fuschias. Pretty, dainty little splashes of colour across the front flower bed.

I have always loved the delicate little ballerina blooms of these flowers. I seem to remember Dad taking me to The Dingle in Shrewsbury - the little oasis in the centre of The Quarry - that Percy Thrower made his own when he was chief gardener there. That immaculate spot had the most gorgeous standard fuschias and even as a little girl, I loved the pastel pink, brilliant reds or purply blue dancing ballerinas, dangling from those delicate stems.

And then I go and spoil the poetic magic by showing you the spud I harvested in Wipso's garden yesterday - enough said!!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Seven words

Snailbeachshepherdess tagged me!

Seven words that describe me........

HEALTHY - I count this as one of the my most fortunate features as, apart from a few minor ailments, I am fit and active and have all my own teeth!!

PATIENT - One of my strongest characteristics that enabled me to survive nearly 25 years teaching infants and enjoy every day. Oh - and remain happily married to G!

CRAFTY - As in dabbling in many different crafts - Jack of all trades, master of none but I have had lots of fun and made others happy too with some of my work.

LOVING - I try to give a little love to a lot of folk and a lot of love to my nearest and dearest.

GIVING - It always gives me pleasure to give to others and its amazing how it comes back in ways I'm not expecting.

BUSY - I am rarely bored and fill every day with lots of different activities - home, garden, visits, crafts, family, friends......


Friday, 17 July 2009

My latest rainy day activity.

A super little parcel came through the post yesterday from Amazon. A snip at £7!!

It's called 100 flowers to knit and crochet by Lesley Stanfield

It is a beautifully illustrated book and is just a joy to thumb through. As its title says, 100 gorgeous little flowers and even minibeasts and fruit and veg. with photos and instructions on how to make them.

Now I can knit and crochet so I hope at least some of them are within my limited capabilities.

I have scrounged wool oddments from my sewing sister so I am all set up ready to go.

Mmm now my main problem, speaking as a Libran here, is which one do I choose first.....

Monday, 13 July 2009

Happy days

I have just read Cait O'Connor's blog about memories and it reminded me that I was going to blog about meeting an old college friend.
We were at Sheffield City College of Education in the early seventies. We lived together with three others for three years in the previously blogged about terrace near Bramhall Lane and haven't met since we left in 1974.
We have exchanged Christmas cards and followed each others lives -births, marriages and other not so happy events. She emailed me this year and suggested meeting up.
I think we were both a bit anxious - 36 years is a long time after all.
We needn't have worried. We met at the park and ride and talked non-stop all the way into town. Shrewsbury is a lovely town to wander around -lots of little streets and pretty shops to dip into. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch, laughing at old photos and catching up on old friends and family. The time flew by and we were soon back in the car park saying our goodbyes and promising to meet again soon.
It was a relaxing day in the company of an old friend. I hope I don't have to wait another 36 years to meet up again!!

Monday, 6 July 2009

Garden visitors.

My garden seems full of little visitors at present. We have families of blue tits, great tits, greenfinch, chaffinch and goldfinch along with a young woodpecker and its parents.

Yesterday, whilst we were watching the tennis, these cheeky squirrels chose to pose and stretch on my fence, long enough for me to snap them through my lounge window.

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Just thought I would re-post my little needle-felted purple coo!
Happy Sunday to all those Purplecoo-ers who may drop in to my blog today!!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Doing the tourist sights in Shropshire -1

Occasionally we venture forth into the county of my birth which I left aged 18. During the 40 years in which I lived in Yorkshire, I used to come "home" to visit friends and relatives. Rarely did we have time to take days out to visit the sights of Shropshire.
Over the last two years it has been fun to re-discover the county and search out places I had heard of and wanted to visit. So during this weekend of sunshine we headed out into the beautiful south Shropshire countryside.

Firstly, we drove over the Stiperstones with the rocky outcrops including the "Devil's Chair" and then over to the "Long Mynd" and down the narrow road with perilous drops into Cardingmill Valley. Feeling energetic and in need of exercise, we walked up the valley past the waterfall listening to the stream as it cascaded over the rocks back down the valley. We followed the V-shaped valley up steep steps, over rugged rock slopes and then over the top and back down part of the Jack Mytton Way. The four mile walk left us hot and thirsty so we headed off to our next port of call for a cool drink in the gardens of the School House at Acton Scott farm museum near Church Stretton.

This is the venue used by the BBC for the filming of the programme about life on a Victorian farm which was televised a while ago.
We strolled in and out of the farm buildings moving from the warmth of a bright summer's day to the cool of the stone floored scullery or butter churning dairy. We watched the Tamworth sow suckling her piglets and the hand made bricks being "thrown" by the brick maker.

It was just a perfect way to relax and chill out and so typically English.

Our Sunday morning visit took us to Stokesay Castle. I think this must be one of the best English Heritage sites I have visited. The manor house, tower and gate-house have been restored and maintained superbly over the last century and now allow a very atmospheric peep into life in the past. Again, it was a perfect way to unwind just by meandering quietly around the buildings and enjoying the views from the cleverly sited castle with its views out into the Shropshire countryside. We sat in the castle courtyard surrounded by English cottage garden flowers, watching the swallows swoop in and out of the building as they fed their chicks up in the rafters.

I know it sounds like a tourist guide but it really was that good!!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

A perfect family wedding day

Last Friday we had a wonderfully happy, sunny day for my niece's wedding!

The church over the road had been filled with beautiful cream and blue flowers by one of Amy's other aunties - assisted by myself as "gofer". The house and garden with its summery gazebos looked splendid. Our little bride, bridesmaids, flower girls and baby Phoebe all looked stunning in their wedding outfits. The men in their matching suits, white shirts, waistcoats and cravats played their part to perfection and looked very handsome. All the lady guests turned up in a fabulous array of summer finery.

A simple but meaningful ceremony was followed by a very enjoyable afternoon and evening at the hotel chosen for the reception. The two families and many friends mixed and mingled happily. The bride and groom couldn't have wished for a better day.

A big thank you to my sister and brother in law for creating such a perfect day!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Powis Castle

We set off for Welshpool with the car packed with items for the tip and books for The Severn Hospice charity shop. Our errands completed, we decided to call into the National Trust property at Powis Castle for some lunch and a walk around the gardens.
We tucked into a hearty meal and then set out for our walk.
Although the car park was quite full, the occupants must have been well dispersed around the property. We ambled through the neatly maintained gardens with beautifully mown lawns and manicured box hedges, stopping to chat to one of our friends who works on the estate.

Next, we collected an ice-cream and wandered up through the woodland walk past the stunning colours of the rhododendrons and azaleas. Passing the old ice house we headed down to the pond where the mallards, coots and a pair of canada geese were tending to their young. Brilliant turquoise damsel flies were skittering across the pond and settling on nearby bracken. A woodpecker was tapping frantically on one of the giant oak trees.

As we strolled back to the car a red kite flew over the castle.
A perfect afternoon - just a little bit of heaven - I can recommend it!