Search This Blog

Wednesday, 30 June 2010



It's been such a hot day today. So lovely if you're outside in the garden but murder in my job. I sit next to a window looking out over Grimsby Docks. Mmmmm - not so good you're thinking. But it's not all bad and I actually quite enjoy the view as I get to see all the ships coming into and out of the harbour. They come in through a very narrow channel which isn't visible from my window so it looks as though they're coming in on the road, which never fails to amuse me. And I can see people on deck and am always tempted (but I don't - well only now and again!) to wave, especially as they're setting out to sea. There's something so romantic about setting sail I always think. Even if you're on a rusty cargo ship with a hold full of salmon heads. Perhaps that's not so romantic thinking about it so we'll move on. Anyway, the sun streams in especially during the afternoon and the temperature rises to tropical levels with jungle-like humidity (thank goodness we're not in the business of salmon heads, can you imagine the whiff!). Sometimes it gets so bad I feel I'm in danger of actually cooking! And no jokes about lovely crackling thank you. I put on my free standing fan which whirrs away ineffectually behind me. It must have some cool air as I get a stiff neck after a while but seems to make not one iota of diference to the general temperature. Then the computer fan kicks in and makes a terrible noise. The sun shines on the computer screen so I can't see a thing even with my sunglasses on (yes, I know that looks ridiculous in an office environment but I thought I'd see if it would help - it didn't), I can't hear anyone on the phone for the fans whirring away, so really I'm about as much use there as a chocolate fireguard and probably more melted. So I've decided that hot weather is lovely for holidays but not to be encouraged when you're back at work!

Well now that rant's out of my system I'll tell you about the card. It's for two challenges Simon Says which asked for 'checks' and Friday Sketchers using their sketch. Thanks to both DT's for the inspiration. There are some lovely cards on both sites this week. I have to apologise for the quality of my photo. The papers are from the same pad as yesterday's post (can you tell I've forgotten its name and can't be bothered to look) which are very subtle in colour and I promise you lovely in real life. But I want to get the cards posted and don't get the opportunity to photograph in daylight. 'Get up earlier' you shout. 'No', I reply.

I used a fairy image from Little Claire Designs. I loved the flower 'clock' that she's blowing. I used to love 'telling the time' doing that when I was little and that's why it appealed to me. She's coloured in in distress inks and I've really gone to town with the stickles but as she's a fairy that's perectly ok! I punched the flower, the butterflyand the leaves using Woodware and Stamping Up punches.

Hope you're enjoying the hot spell!

Monday, 28 June 2010


Dear Reader

Here's a card made for the Sugar Bowl Challenge, No 37, using Marlene's sketch (thank you Marlene). The theme was 'Girly' and a Sugar Nellie stamp was required so I've used my favourite Leanne Ellis stamp and made the 'fizz' pink! Must get another one of these Leanne Ellis stamps, I really love them! Image is coloured with distress inks and the champagne bubbles stickled. The papers are from a pad by Me and My Big Ideas from Running With Scissors. There is a choice of pink or blue pad and both contain papers which lend themselves to New Baby, which is why I bought it, but there are lots of general and special effect papers in it too and I'm enjoying using it with all the different textures etc. I've used a Martha Stewart Round the Page punch which I've finally got the hang of and my nesties. The 'bar' across the middle uses a Martha Stewart lace punch through which I've threaded white ribbon from my stash. The border is created with the small scallop ET punch. Lots of punches came into play on this card!

With lots of patterns and textures I decorated with just a small ribbon bow. Keep trying for 'less is more' but usually end up with 'Oh go on then, just another bit of bling'! So this time I tied the bow and then sat on my hands until the urge passed to reach for the jewels box!!

I've also made a card for the Running with Scissors Whiff of Joy Challenge but I can't share until the Challenge is finished. Check it out - you can enter until Wednesday and there's a Whiff of Joy stamp to win!

Sunday, 27 June 2010


Dear Reader

Well I'm back from my hols and a lovely time I had too. We stayed in a village at the foot of the Sierra mountains called Benahavis, about a 15 minute drive from the coast. It was a last minute deal but we struck lucky and our hotel was lovely - quiet, peaceful, traditionally Andalucian and generally just what we had hoped for. Here is the view from my sun lounger.

Here I am with my boat in Puerto Banus marina.....
Yes, I'm joking but a girl can dream can't she?
It was a lovely place to look round but ooooooh! the prices. All designer, very chic and lovely to window shop. It was baking so I said to Maurice I'd buy us an ice cream but when I got to the ice cream shop and discovered a scoop was 8 Euros (about £7) I suddenly went off the idea! But great for people watching and general gawping !!!

It's all a bit me, me, me or Moz Moz Moz this blog but as there was only the two of us and it was our annual hols hope you'll forgive us. Anyway, moving on.......

Here I am on the airplane runway which we walked across from Spain into Gibraltar. No I hadn't taken leave of my senses - it's apparently what people do. But I was a bit worried by the sign which warned ' If aeroplane is about to land please walk quickly'! I'm not a very fast walker, especially in flip flops. Pleased to report made it without a 747 landing on my head. Or is it a 737? Not too hot on plane numbers....

We walked miles that day, past all the British quarters of the troops stationed there which Maurice, being ex Army, was interested to see and a British phone box which amused me, especially as you don't see them much in England any more. We went down Main Street full of duty free shops selling perfume, cigs etc and then caught the cable car up the Rock to the top. I climbed aboard before I really had time to think about what I was doing. A nervous soul with heights at the best of times too much thought could have been fatal and I might not have gone. I have to say the ride was pretty spectacular and the views amazing. But when I reached the top the sudden climb and the cable car movement and the height had sent my balance askew (I suffer from labyrinthitis from time to time) so I wandered round the top of the Rock lurching about looking like one of the monkeys after a night on the town!

I did, however, manage to take this picture of Maurice who loved this day out. I think it shows from the picture. He's my rock too!

And of course I just had to take a picture of one of the apes. The story is that if ever the apes leave the Rock then British rule will cease. During the 2nd World War the ape population started to decline and Winston Churchill was so worried he put all the apes on special rations!!

They're so much a tourist attraction that I felt sorry for them constantly being looked at and photographed but on the upside because they're looked after the life expectancy is quite a bit above that to be expected in the wild. They're cheeky monkeys too, stealing food and visitors bags and running off with stuff! So there are some compensations being a Gibraltar ape!

The next set of pictures are from another day out. I had a really strong desire to visit some caves I'd read about in the mountains near Ronda. They contain drawings done by Cro Magnon man 30,000 years ago. Can you get your head round that? I couldn't. So I wanted to go and see for myself. Oh! my damn curiosity - I'm sure I was a cat in a previous life - it does get me into some situations. I really am not a brave - or fit - person so how I found myself scrambling like a mountain goat for what seemed like forever in order to reach a dark set of caves that I was then going to walk a kilometer underground in aided only by a paraffin lamp - and yes in my flip flop sandals - I really can't say. After scaling said mountain and reaching cave 'kiosk' with my face looking like a bull (appropriate in Spain) the ticket man asked if we would like a drink. Before I could get my breathing in check enough to answer Maurice replied, "Yes please I'd like a coffee". I ask you, a coffee!! We're half way up a mountain in 80 odd degrees in the midday sun after a strenuous climb and he's asking for a coffee. Much to my surprise the guy looked at Maurice, shrugged in the way that they do abroad when faced with barmy Englishmen and went and made him one, how I've no idea as there was no electricity. Anyway, here's the picture of Maurice looking out over the mountain enjoying his coffee.

We then sat and sat .... and sat. We had to wait until there were enough people to make a tour worthwhile. Eventually there were ten brave souls ready to venture into the caves, four Spaniards, two Americans and four English.

Here's me entering looking slightly trepidatious. Well alright terrified! But I so wanted to see the drawings. The coffee-making kiosk man turned out to be the guide too and in fact the direct ancestor of the farmer who found the cave in 1911 looking to see where the bats went to sleep, as he thought their droppings would make good fertiliser for his farm. The same family still own the site. It took a British Colonel though, Colonel Willoughy Somethingorother in 1928 who'd been bird-watching in the area and heard about the caves, to show some curiosity, pay a visit and recognise that the paintings were not by the Moors as had been thought by the Spanish farmer, but much, much! older.

Anyway, the guide locked the metal door to the caves behind us and we went in. Eeeks we were trapped inside! He then lit four paraffin lamps (I'd forgotten how pungent a smell paraffin is) and luckily gave one of them to Maurice. Off our little party set, me bringing up the rear. We climbed up roughly hewn steps, and up and up and then down and down and came to a cave full of stalagtites and stalagnites and drawings on the walls of a horse (apparently totally drawn to scale), a bull (even Cro Magnon Spanish man loved bulls!!!) and a mountain goat type animal (could relate to that one). We ventured further and further into the caves, passing two lakes, an underground fire site (a natural chimney got rid of the smoke), a set of caves where they'd found human skeletons (sacrifice or murder?), seeing bats (yes live ones), making our way through narrow passages in the rock, until eventually after an hour we reached the biggest painting of all and it was a ........... fish. Anti-climax. A fish?? Yes, a one metre fish that looked like a plaice. Why on earth would you paint a one metre fish on a wall 30,000 years ago? Maurice ventured that it was probably the artist's favourite meal. Good job Maurice wasn't about 30,000 years ago or he'd have painted a cup of coffee on the wall.

And here's me again coming out of the caves at the end. Looking every inch the intrepid explorer ... and much happier! The caves are called the Cueva de Pileta, they're about a 20 minute drive from Ronda and so worth seeing. And don't let me put you off (I exaggerate) - it's a great trip out. But top tip - wear proper shoes and take a torch. It's wet in places and dark everywhere!

Here's a picture taken the same day outside the bull ring in Ronda. It just looks so Andalucian that I thought I'd share it.

And here's Maurice with the famous Bridge over the gorge in Ronda in the background.

Finally, here's a photo of the two of us in the village square in Benahavis, at the end of a night after enjoying a day's adventures, a lovely evening meal, a sit down and a glass or two of Spain's finest Rioja.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Mum's War Memories 10

Dear Reader

It's been a while since I blogged any of my mum's war memories. I mentioned them yesterday when I was at my brother's partner, Jo's, for her birthday party and it got me round to thinking that I should do some more. I am getting fairly near the end of them and have enjoyed them all. It helps obviously to know the people - or at least to have heard family stories of them over the years - but nevertheless from people's comments I think others have found them entertaining. So if you read this mum how about some more memories?!


In 1943 I was eleven years old and one day in Spring we were all given a 'test' to do on a printed paper. We were told it was a Preliminary Exam for a scholarship to go to Wintringham Grammar School, the only grammar school in the town. Most children there were paid for and had been at the school since they were seven years old.

A few months later about a third of us were taken to Wintringham School in Eleanor Street to take the Scholarship exam. I did this and it was forgotten about until the beginning of July when Miss Ely, our form teacher, said "The following girls stand up and my name was called out, there were 5 or 6 of us. She said "You girls have passed the scholarship and you can go to Wintringham in September.

I ran home and told my mother, I thought she would be pleased but she looked sad and said "I can't possibly afford the Wintringham School uniform. Those gold embossed badges cost a fortune." I don't think this worried me, I thought 'well I can go to Welholme Road Secondary School with my friends'. Anyway later that day my mother told my grandfather and he said "Of course she must go, don't worry I will help with the uniform." My mother was still not convinced. She said, "You don't realise Dad it's a different way of life, she will need a tennis racket and goodness knows what else, they go on trips from Wintringham, the children are mostly from wealthy families, we'll never manage it!" Things like tennis rackets were much more expensived then in real terms, roughly half a weekly wage. My grandfather was adamant that I should go so I started Wintringham in the September. My grandfather bought me a bicycle that had to last me until I was 16, it was far too big for me so he put wooden blocks on the pedals so I could reach them. I was bought a satchel to put on my back for homework books and off I went. I had to cycle to HIghfield House (near Barretts).

What a shock the first day was. I remember the first lesson was French. French - I had never heard of it but most of the class had been learning it for a few years. In fact most of the subjects - Algebra, Geometry for two - were totally foreign to me. I felt like a fish out of water and miserable. I didn't like to say so at home because of all the expense to get me there. I was even more miserable because when I got home from school that first week, I would quickly get changed and hurry out to meet my friends but now they didn't want to know me so at last I gave up playing on the street. I belonged nowhere and was really miserablke and wished I had never gone to Wint.

A few weeks later I noticed a girl who was in my class cycling past my house in a morning. Her name was Jean Haigh, she lived in Wellington Street (I don't know which school she had been to before Wint). We started to cycle to school together and quickly became friends. We were the best of friends all through school. Her father was a Captain of a minesweeper in the North Sea. His boat was sunk and he lost three fingers and had other injuries. Whilst he was recuperating he took his wife, Jean and myself to the Yorkshire Moors for a week and we went to Blackpool for a day. I remember we spent a lot of time pushing the car! Jean Haigh became Jean Potterton when she married and had a nursery selling Alpine plants at Nettleton, she won a Gold at Chelsea Flower Show. It now seems strange she finished up selling plants at Garden Shows and I finished up selling antiques at Antique Fairs.

Well back to the 40's. Her and I propped each other up and soon we were doing well with our studies and we were both chosen for the hockey, rounders and tennis teams so we both began to enjoy school life. One year in the summer holidays we got a job at Bradley Village bottling plums for Ticklers Jam Factory. It was piece work and we earned good money. We were 12 or 13. I remember I bought my own hockey stick which I was very proud of. After the war when I was 15 I went on a school trip to Switzerland to a place called Engelberg and this opened my eyes to foreign travel. I remember us both crying on the last day at school; we were so sad to be leaving.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


Dear Reader

I've finally got round to loading my pictures of the favours produced for the Business Awasrds. The idea was to produce a 'magic' Harry Potter chest. I wanted to make each chest different for the four different houses represented on the night. I played around with different colour caskets, ribbons, house logos etc and couldn't settle on any one idea. I was on a budget for the boxes as with 500 people costs soon mount so I knew the basic chest had to be cheap and cheerful. I settled on the box below which is really a wedding favour 'coffret' and sent for samples in different colours. How to close it? I came up with the idea of sealing wax as being very Harry Potter and bought a small seal and red wax from The Range to try the idea out. It worked! I then thought about the contents. Hmmmmm. I wanted something magical and after ringing round several companies someone told me about a 'magic' wand they stocked. Perfect! I thought what spells are commonly used and I thought frogs. And then chocolate frogs! But realistic (well sort of - definitely not cutesy ones). These were sourced but were surprisingly expensive. Then we needed some kind of spell in the box - an incantation telling people what to do. At that point I realised that I was not going to have time to make 500 individual bespoke boxes and called in a very talented lady called Katie Carter from the Neatly Coloured Card Company. She took to the ideas straightaway (I think a Harry Potter fan) went away with a brief and all the elements for the casket and below is the amalgamation of my ideas and her clever crafting.

Here is the casket presented to the guests. You can see Katy has distressed the basic black casket (we settled on one uniform colour - black - for all the caskets but changed the colours with the embroidery thread, house label (she produced these tiny labels beautifully) and seal colour. This casket was mine and I was sat at a Humberpuff House table - and so it is in the colours of Humberpuff which were yellow and black. You can just make out the house mascot. In each case it was an animal and in Humberpuff's case this was a badger. The other houses were Scunnerin (green and silver - animal snake), Grimmydoor (scarlet and gold - animal lion) and Ravenscorus (blue and bronze - animal eagle).

Once the casket was opened the first thing you saw was a rolled up parchment. Here it is unrolled. This is what it said:
Expand your wand and concentrate very hard on the image of your heart's desire. Aim your wand at your treasure chest and close your eyes. Be sure your aim is true. Repeat the incantation "Transformus Enterprisus Magicus" Open your eyes to a potentially brighter future. Now look deeper into the chest. Has the magic worked?"

And under a layer of shredded green tissue the guests found the item below in their chests

Once the tiny rubber ring was removed the magic wand magically appeared like so. The sound of 500 people's magic wands all opening up at once and the exclamations of surprise were really great!

After you tried the spell you looked under more green tissue to see if your heart's desire would be revealed. 499 guests found the frog. Better luck next time! But one lucky guest found a miniature Prince Charming in their chest. Unfortunately, best laid plans and all that - and believe me we really did try and fix it so that a woman would open the chest - but unfortunately the Prince was found by a man!!!! Ah well........ the idea was a good one!

I thought I would post this to remind myself in times to come but also I thought my crafty friends might appreciate a look.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


Dear Reader

This card is for two challenges Allsorts Challenge which I just couldn't resist as the theme was strawberries (following colours of a chocolate strawberry and cream cake or just strawberries and cream (check out the mouthwatering photos on the Allsorts Challenge) and Whiff of Joy Challenge where a sketch was provided. I really liked this sketch with the diagonal stripes - and found some MME stripey paper (not hard in my stash lol) to make some flowers to echo it. But I'm getting ahead of myself! The image is Whiff of Joy and features a Pink Lady (!) with a basket of strawberries wearing a dress of apples. Yes, apples. Perhaps not something for the real world but in the world of whimsy I guess it's ok. I've coloured in distress inks. The DP is Magnolia - design Strawberry - which I had just enough left to make this card. I love its soft colour. I backed with Bazzil from RWS to co-ordinate. The image is double mounted using the bazzil again but also some soft 'nude' beige pearlised card to tone with the background colour of the girl's dress. I've used part of a Prima pearl swirl which has the most beauiful 'nude' pink roses on it. I've been hoarding it for a while now as it was too lovely to use! The large flower is punched from MME paper using an EK punch and has a lare 'nude' pearl in the middle. As you can see there's a lot of nudity going on in this card! Chloe tells me that 'nude' colours are very 'in' at the moment so I thought I'd try and be 'on trend' as they say thse days and introduce them into a card.

The other flowers were punched in the same paper using Woodware punches and decorated with a small pearl. Finally, I used a strawberry charm I've been hoarding too. I saw it, liked it and bought it (just the one - steady Anne!) and have been carrying it around in my handbag for ages.

I'm very partial to strawberries (you've got to love a fruit that wears its pips on the outside!) and they have happy memories for me too. I've always enjoyed strawberry picking, going off on a sunny afternoon to find them, armed usually with a mad assortment of containers which I'd grabbed from the cupboard on my way out. I used to take the girls when they were old enough and when I went to see how they were getting on there would be five or six (usually ones that looked a bit green)in Chloe's punnet and none at all in Alice's. She'd eaten everything she'd picked. The red fingers were a bit of a giveaway! I've never been a jam maker (although I remember as a child my mother making it in a big heavy bottomed silver pan and constantly testing it on a saucer to see if it was ready) but I did like eating it. I like all things strawberry flavour. My favourite lolly as a girl was a Strawberry 'Mivvy' - I think that was the name - the one with the pinky red outide and the lovely ice cream in the middle. They remind me too of Wimbledon. When I played tennis in my late teens and early 20's I used to go to Wimbledon every year and the strawberries were always a treat. One year I went with a friend and we abandoned the strawberry tent in favour of the Pimms tent and I'm ashamed to say that after a couple of them we both fell asleep on the Centre Court basking in the afternoon sun. Can't have been a very exciting game - well that's my excuse! There's something quitessentially English about strawberries that say warm summer days, cricket, sun hats and fetes. I even have a strawberrry set, a china strawberry basket with a little cream jug and sugar bowl that sit neatly inside it with just enough room for strawberries for two in the middle! One of those pretty pieces that take up an inordinate amount of space in the dresser for just a few seasonal appearances each year. But it's an old friend I'm always pleased to see! And it's beautifully painted with, yes you've guessed it, strawberries! Anyway, hope you enjoy the card and it brings you some happy strawberry memories too.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Pearls, Swirls and Sausages

Dear Reader

Here is a card I've made for the One Stop Craft Challenge brought to my attention by the lovely Janet of
who is one of their guest DT's. The challenge is "Pearls and Swirls" so a perfect opportunity to use my Prima heart swirl! I've used a Whiff of Joy stamp and painted it with distress inks. The background paper is Magnolia. I've used acetate over it and the image and stamped in the corners with stayzon white (thanks for the inspiration Jane of Jane's Lovely Cards). I've used a Martha Stewart double loop punch to make a flap of some co-ordinating Magnolia paper to hide the acetate under. I made the sentiment card and decorated with the same loop punch, the Prima swirl and heart and a Woodware tiny sentiment stamped in grey ink. Finally I stickled the bride's veil and tiara to highlight. Thanks for looking!

It's been an interesting evening. I've just got in from judging the e-Factor "It Could Be You" competition. It was a Dragon's Den type situation and the entrants had to stand before the panel and tell us about their business ideas and how they wanted to progress them. We got an opportunity for questions before deciding on an overall winner and two runners-up. I take my hat off to all the entrants as it really took some nerve to do that, especially as people's friends and families were there in the audience and the event was being filmed by Channel 7. I won't give away their business ideas but I really enjoyed the evening and wish them every success for the fuure!

And when I got in Maurice had cooked the most lovely sausage and mash dinner (Birketts sausages - the best!) which went down a treat - I was starving as by this time it was 8.30 pm and I'd eaten my sandwich lunch at 11.30 am lol. A lovely surprise. I think Maurice should have entered the competition with a plan to set up a restaurant judging by that meal !!! xxxx