Sunday, 31 August 2014

Summers End.

Glass Poppies on eBay
I always feel a sense of loss at this time of the year.  August is giving way to September, children are getting ready to go back to school, the leaves lose their glossy greens and start turning to russet red and gold, apples fall with a dull thud on to the mossy ground that is the floor of the orchard and the squirrels in the trees above my head are squabbling over whose acorn the precious Autumn harvest belongs too.

Fishermen, once large clusters of jolly voices, their bodies clad in waders, waterproof jackets tied around waists as they struggled across the fields with fishing rods, tackle boxes and lunches, their chatter causing the young calves in the field with their mother's to pay attention, and the mother's their udders full of life nourishing milk to glance worryingly over their young.  Now the fields are quiet.  The calves have grown and left their mothers; the same mother's that now lazily chew the cud and swish their tails at the flies.

The potatoes in the top field have been harvested and the ground ploughed; long straight furrows of rich brown earth.  The birds no longer in frenzied flight behind the working tractors instead they use a gentle sweep before landing to pick over the surface of the field.  The tractor is parked in the corner of the farm yard.  Dusty and still.

Its the sign's of Summers End.  They make me mourn for the long days that are filled with sun shine, flowers bursting into colourful displays and of watching my dogs take long splashing swims in the river.

Glass Poppies on eBay

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The fruits of my labour.

My internet is still playing up, our connection now being the talk of the house, nothing else is more important than who is going to tether me to their phone so I can get on line.  Its going to be at least another week and as its now a long and rather boring story so I have given up lamenting.... almost ... and decided to be positive with the time, oh so much time when I come away from the laptop, and have been busy finishing the decorating in the living room.

Its not quite magnolia but I like it.  Its more a shade of sand and once I sand down the window sills and the wood that surrounds the hearth and the mantelpiece and stain them to the same colour as the window sills, all that will be left is glossing the skirting boards.  I like wood and have always wanted a big chunky wooden cabinet for the TV, I would have liked one of those cabinets that the TV hides in, but the husband likes his big TV so we compromised, its taken several years to compromise but we have.  He found this one for me on eBay, it was from a charity shop up in Birmingham and ticked all my boxes.   


 I just love the hinges they are all handmade and aged with that lovely patina of something used and I really love the handle, its like a pair of old scissors and opens a lovely big cupboard that will hide lots of 'stuff'.

You can see from the next picture that our current table for the TV is a glass and chrome affair; I have always hated this thing it attracts dust and living in farm land and with dogs, cats, kids and husband it is always covered in a fine layer of dead skin cells and hair.  Unfortunately my daughter and I between us are too weak and feeble to lift the enormous TV on to my lovely new cupboard, so I have to wait until either my son or my husband returns.... so much for women's lib in this house!

Husband would like me to up cycle this and make it more modern but I just want to use beeswax to seal in its old-ness, so we had another compromise and I put my foot down, its staying as it is, he compromised by knowing when he was beaten!

There is something about the onset of Autumn when the sloe berries start to come out in the hedgerows around where I live that makes me want to play with wool in the evenings.  During the day I am in the studio melting glass and getting quietly addicted to listening to Women's Hour and the Archers on Radio 4 followed by the drama of the day, but when the evening starts to close in and end the day, I want to still create, my fingers never really being very good at staying still, my backside being excellent for sitting down for long periods of time so crochet is my Autumn/Winter go to project and this year I am determined to actually use up some of the yarn I have stashed in the wardrobe upstairs.
It matches the walls!!  This is a nice project a poncho style shawl that is made up of individual squares that are then joined to the main piece on the final row of the square, I am creating about 3 an evening, I am not the fastest hook on the planet, but at this rate with 96 squares to crochet and only 30 done so far this is going to take a while.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The day the world crashed!

..ok maybe not crashed exactly, there was an earthquake in the US a few days ago; I am told, but crashed?  not as far as a whopping almighty earth shattering end of the universe sort of crash, more a ...bloody hell no flippin' internet for a week and the world is passing me by here in lonely wet Hereford...sort of way, crash!

Can you imagine life without the internet?  I mean, really, what did we do when we were kids and TV didn't start until 6pm?  When I was little I lived in Europe a fair bit, had a parent in the Air Force, so we travelled and saw lots of lovely places and had ONE television channel.  ONE!  not a zillion like now that repeats everything several times a day that you have seen at least 6 times a year for the last 10 years, but just one lonely channel that was in English and kids TV was just an hour or so on a week day late afternoon, after that was news and adult sit com type stuff, not very interesting for a child.

I read.  A lot.  We played outside.  A lot. Fast track ..ahem...a few years and I am completely dependant on the cyber force that enters my home without me seeing it, its magic, its a life line and bugger we don't have it at the moment!

Last week, exactly a week, we were accidentally 'switched off' as we were changing internet providers and the company got the wrong Tuesday, should have been today not last week, still we rang to get switched back on and .... we have a fault on the line.  We still have a fault on the line, despite endless phone calls, both to them and them to us, various tests on the line and the threat of having to cough up a few hundred quid for a man to come and tell us it doesn't work, that had the hubby coughing and we don't need a man as he talked to the 'other' man at the end of the phone...the mobile phone...

So, this morning, after a Bank Holiday yesterday, a very wet August Bank Holiday yesterday, we still have no internet and my neighbour - who actually lives across the field from me - rings here this morning, only he is ringing his house and he comes through here, the phone lines are muddled.  He rings British Telecom, we ring British Telecom, British Telecom say we don't have a problem but for a few hundred quid we can have a man....that had both my husband and the neighbours husband coughing...we are not getting a man, we don't need a man, we have them two.

We still don't have internet.  We still have the phones playing up.  We still don't have a man, in a van with British Telecom written down the side, but....I have learnt a new terminology, even though I keep messing up the name - maybe I should work for British Telecom? - I am like a horse to my daughters phone to access the internet but I am limited to how long as she wants her phone back to go out to work.

Off to dust off the books on the bookcase.  Remember them?  Lots of printed pages all bound together in a nice hard cover or the ones with a soft cover and great picture? I even have encyclopedia's here somewhere in the loft, that was Wikipedia in the old days kids, have I spelt that right? off to find the dictionary, the big one that takes two hands to carry and you have to work out the spelling of the word before you find the word to make sure its right, no 'did you mean' in the old days with a new page flashing up to help you.  Mail actually came via the postman, now its just pizza adverts and bags for charity as all my other mail is cyber stuff.

*sigh* I miss the internet.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Turf Wars - one short story a day

Another short story from my walks with the dogs.  Taking something that happens once a day and turning it into a story.  Today the squirrels get their own back on Defi.
Turf Wars.

'Coo – eeeee' called Colin 'enemy in sight.'

'Right men' said Simon, strutting up and down resplendent in his camouflage suit 'on my mark...wait for my mark....Steven I said WAIT for my mark'

'I am not a man' grumbled Suzie 'just look at this fabulous tail, you don't get a fabulous tail like this being a man, oh no, all the men's tails have burrs in them and need a good wash, but this is a girls tail, just look at how all the hairs lie flat against each other, they shimm....'

'Shut up Suzie' growled Simon 'this is not the time to be a girl, its time to man up and take back the orchard.'
Suzie lowered her big beautiful brown eyes and her bottom lip trembled slightly, everyone around her hurried to their stations; there was a frenzy of activity as the small army scuttled about getting themselves ready to fire the enormous pile of acorns that were stacked against the old Oak tree. Simon held the telescope to his eye and from his vantage point in the Crow's nest he could see right across the apple orchard.

'Pay back' he muttered 'no more chasing us up the trees, no more barking in the early morning sunshine, oh yes' he chuckled to himself 'you are going to get it this time dog.'

Defi and Iz were strolling along happily, tongues lolling down to their knees, sniffing all the badger and rabbit holes and pausing occasionally to sniff the air above them.

'At the old Lime' called Colin from his perch in the midst of the bramble hedge, hidden behind the almost ripe blackberries.

'On my mark men...' whispered Simon through the branches, the leaves rustling slightly in the early morning breeze.

Defi stopped to look through he chain link fencing that surrounded the apple trees, 'NO DOGS ALLOWED' read the sign.

'Shame' thought Defi, 'wouldn't mind a bit of a sniff around all that sheep poo.'

He could just see the sheep in the distance, they were busy eating the long grass and not paying any attention to anything around them.

Iz had walked ahead, she turned and looked back.

'Come on slow coach' she grumbled 'the faster we get to the river the longer we get to swim before the swans get there and we have to get out'

'Coming' smiled Defi happily, 'Iz was always hurrying him along, still it would be nice to chase those ducks' he thought.

'ON MY MARK' came the call from above 'NOWWWWWWWWWWWWW'

Poor Defi didn't know what had hit him. The acorns pelted down on his head with the jeers from the jubilant squirrels as each acorn hit him squarely on the nose.

'Take that you beast' yelled Stephanie, 'you won't chase me again' she threw the biggest acorn in the bunch, and laughed loudly as Defi ran to hide next to Iz his big wagging tail between his legs.

'My brother lost his school bag because of you' shouted Sandy

'My mother nearly had a heart attack because of you' growled another voice from the top of the tree

'My dad wants your tail to hang above the fire place' yelled another angry squirrel

'Best run' said Iz quietly 'keep up Defi and don't stop until we reach the river'

Defi flew like the wind behind Iz, both of their tails straight and long, pointing out behind them as they dashed through the wooded walk and into the church yard before charging down the steep hill that leads to the river bank.

There was much singing in the trees behind them as the Squirrels jumped up and down in delight and Colin Pigeon coo'ed from his position in the hedge.

'..and keep your nose out of my burrow' called a small voice from beneath the old Oak, long whiskers and ears poking out from behind the muddy mound 'thank you Mr Simon.'

'My pleasure Mrs Rabbit' said Simon, strutting up and down the long branch that was the path to Mrs Crow's nest 'we taught that flea ridden hound a lesson all right'

'If you have quite finished with your petty squabbles' said Mrs Crow grumpily 'this nest doesn't keep itself you know.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Garden project.

I got the lawn mower out yesterday, finally, after days of rain and shine and being busy driving up and down the motorway with my husband collecting cars for his garage.  Straight after walking the dogs and still wearing my comfy wellington boots I got out the mower, filled it with petrol and started.
I had my mobile phone in my pocket so I took a few snaps.  I have been looking around my garden for months, watching the flowers bloom and then fade, the rain come and the winds sweep through my tall wispy bouquets of cottage garden colour and flatten them. 

After having the chickens, and missing them terribly after foxy loxy and badger took them, most of my fragile plants are gone, the girls took great pleasure in up rooting them and scratching around in the worms and bugs that lay underneath.  I replaced the plants with hardy shrubs, those that don't need much tending and can survive the inclement summers of the UK as well as the wrath of the chickens.  I found I liked the shrubs.  As much as I love a good potter around in the garden I can't give it the time it needs to maintain that cared for look that all the gardens around me have, mainly because they have a dedicated paid gardener and my garden has me!
Thyme from my step fathers garden.  If only I had some time to plant it where I need it to go, around the back door where Defi jumps on Iz and between them they crush my lavender to release the scent into the air around the damaged stems.

My old veggie beds, two of which I planted up with cottage garden favourites and they were beautiful.  Butterflies and bees, dragon flies and beetles all flocked to these beds which delighted our Gordy.    

I planted some wild Sweet Peas in with the Clematis against the south facing wall of my studio, I love to watch the bumble bees and the butterflies from the window as I torch my glassy blooms.  I have got very good at catching the butterflies that come into the studio, I love to feel them light and soft in my hand before releasing them out of the door and watching them fly into the sky.  The bumble bees I chastise and point the way, their big stripy bodies hum towards the heavens.  When I was a little girl and terrified of bees my Grandmother used to tell me to talk to them and that they would listen and leave.  She was right.  They do.

My old chicken coop that sits under the big window of the studio I decided to use as my vegetable bed this year, already fenced off it stopped Defi from helping me dig up the not quite ready veg.  The hedge is in need of a cut but my son, who was supposed to be doing it hurt his back a few weeks ago and so the hedge never got done and now he is better its a case of catch up and the hedge is not a priority for the men folk, but then the same men folk don't cut the grass and have to fight off the reaching brambles and nettles.  The vegetable beds became over grown too quickly, I just haven't had the time to tend the garden this year, so I have made the decision to abandon the vegetables and my son has said he will help me to take down the fencing and leave the grass to grow back.

I am lucky to have an enormous garden, but I don't have the enormous amounts of time to put into it, so I have a plan for next year.  The old chicken coop is going.  We don't have a front and back garden as the garden wraps around the house the front (no photos) I started a wildlife garden this summer and the seeds I have been collecting from the wild flowers in the old veg beds will be scattered there. Gordy has enjoyed the long grass and the bees and flies that visit the wild patch and I enjoy watching him watching them and trying to catch the odd fly.  Its exercise for him both mentally and physically and it makes me smile watching my little cat with problems (for those that don't know Gordy is brain damaged) be a cat in his own awkward way.  So that is staying, its easy to keep as it really keeps itself just needing chopping down at the end of the summer.

The veg beds are going.  I am not growing as much veg for the foreseeable future, maybe some spuds in the bags but that's it.  The old veg beds I am planning to turn into raised beds, adding some shrubs or something, although the third one will remain with strawberries and rhubarb.

I would love more roses, the big old English garden ones with heady scent and although we can no longer have chickens due to the midnight raids from our neighbouring foxes and badgers and I miss the movement the chickens brought to the garden so I will be looking out for some big waving shrubs, the kind with large clusters of flowers that attract butterflies, like the Buddleia.

Well, that's my plan, or at least the start of a plan.  I feel that summer is over here, the days although still warm are not the hot and sticky days were getting, which I loved but did mean that Iz Defi and I spent a lot of time at the river, time that I could, or should, have put into the garden maybe?....

Friday, 15 August 2014

Sparkling dichroic focal beads

 I dragged out the dichroic glass yesterday afternoon and blew off the dust.  I soon realized that I needed a wet cloth as the dust layer had got so thick.  Was it really that long since I last used the dichro?

Dichroic glass is formed using the process of vapourizing quartz and metal oxides with an electron beam gun and condensing them into micro thin layers before layering them on to the surface of the glass.  When you look at dichroic glass you see many colours, as the light bends around the oxides and creates rainbows of colour. 

There is lots of information on the history of dichroic glass on the web, just type in Dichroic and have a read.

But for now, back to my stash of dusty glass.

Its been so long since I used this sparkly glass but after a few years of experimenting with beads and glass I have found that my favourite style is 'less is more'.  I am not a fussy person, I like plain and simple with some colour, so I layered my dichroic glass onto a base bead, encased in crystal clear glass to emphasis the sparkle and added some beautiful hand pulled cane flowers to the surface.

Very girlie; my favourite one is the top left, some lovely person likened it to a volcano explosion of colour.
You can find my beads in my Etsy shop or on eBay.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Extracts from a bikers diary.

My brother sent me this piece he had written, it arrived in my email box this morning.  It really is very funny and as I giggled my way through the vision of him fighting for survival with the rain lashing at his helmet, his motor bike splashing through puddles and the tryst with the pigeon, I wondered for which charity he was riding for. So I emailed him. 
She was the 14 year old daughter of my brothers friend.  She had been bullied.  The charity he was riding for was the Severine Hobbs Charity. (the link takes you to the newspaper article in which Severine's mum tells her story).
As a parent I loathe bullies and bullying, some kids sadly fall through the net and find themselves so low they turn to taking their own lives to end the misery.  Having lived through bullying myself as a child, from a wicked step mother, and then to cope when my children were bullied; my son for his dyslexia and ADHD by the adult in charge of the Primary School,  her duty of care being only to the statistics of her school and how well that reflected on her role as Headmistress.   My daughter from the boys in her year group when she was 13/14, for her big blue eyes that now attract those self same boys now she is 18 coming up 19.  I am lucky my kids pulled through and have become wonderful adults both of whom abhor bullying in any form, reading stories like Severine's just makes me realize how lucky I am and how easy it is to lose a child.

Extract from a bikers diary... (11)  

Friday, 8 August 2014

Up up and away......

Honestly?  I don't think we could fit in a holiday however much I really want one.  During the last couple of weeks its all happened, my son got taken to A&E with a back injury and had to spend the week at home recuperating, which was fine for the first 5 minutes after that he was bored and drove me nuts, but as he works on a farm running around a field chasing bulls and pigs was just not a good idea.  My daughter has been working non stop at both her part time jobs, this being her summer holiday in between finishing 6th Form education but not starting her University course until the end of next month.  The husband has been working hard at both his jobs, the garage starting to get busy but just not quite ready to stop the lorry driving that supports the house and family he is working all week every week and I have been making glass flowers from morning through to night, which I can't complain as I love making glass beads and its the Stourbridge bead fair in a couple of weeks.

Last week, daughter and I went to visit my mother who had just come out of hospital and we had an exhausting but lovely couple of days catching up, eating nice food, drinking a bottle of wine - that was me and my step father as my mother couldn't drink due to medication.  I met my step sister and her lovely boys for the first time in 20 years and her boys for the first time ever; she is a fantastic cook and made this amazing cake filled with fresh cream and strawberries, totally yummy and totally devoured within hours of it arriving at my mother's.

This week, my Uncle, my mother's youngest brother and his lovely wife are holidaying in their caravan in Cirencester which is about an hour and a half's drive from me, but they 'popped' in to visit on Tuesday and yesterday, Thursday, husband and I took a rare night off during the week and joined them in Bristol for the Balloon Festival and it was worth not getting home until gone midnight and feeling jaded and worn out at 6.30 this morning when the alarm went off!

When we first arrived at the Balloon Festival we headed down this enormous hill which my Uncle did nickname Heart Attack Hill as we knew we had to climb back up!  Denise was waiting for us in a space just big enough for a blanket and two picnic chairs one of which my husband immediately claimed as his own leaving me and my Uncle on the bumpy ground, not that I was sat for long the balloons first taking off were the fun shapes...

A light bulb moment...


This Smurf was so cool with his enormous grin.

Dragons really do fly over Bristol in the UK.

This balloon was so fun it had a man standing on the very top, not a real man, a balloon one that danced and bobbed around as they flew higher and higher.

The last fun shape to fly into the sky was this huge sunflower.
We had an hour or so after the first balloons left the ground, so we wondered around and found something to eat leaving our chairs and blanket with a delightful family with two little boys that were so happy and smiley, my Uncle was smitten as he is a granddad with a couple of little boy grandsons so he felt most happy when the baby crawled over to introduce himself to my Uncle.
After some lovely long bright summer evenings the huge crowd of people that had taken up their spaces on the fields around the lift off area couldn't wait for the dusk to settle and the light show to begin.  No one was disappointed.

The balloons began to rise.
The music bellowed out of the loud speakers.

The balloons danced and dazzled whilst everyone stood and took photos and watched.  It was a truly amazing sight.
After the display and the fireworks had faded into the night sky, the climb up Heart Attack Hill didn't claim us as we followed hundreds and thousands of people with sleepy children and worn out well behaved dogs, we said a cheerful good bye to my Uncle and Aunt as they headed back to their caravan and the rest of their holiday before they head home this weekend.  Hubby and I came home, eventually, the M5 junction of the motorway was shut as was the suspension bridge that we need to cross from Bristol into Wales, but we arrived home, tired but in that, had a good time and feel quite exhaustedly relaxed kind of way.
Just click the link to take you to the website, for the price of parking and a cup of tea and cake it was well worth the visit, although I would recommend a picnic if you are staying all day, the vendors have to make their money somehow!