Sunday, 31 October 2010

Days Out in Devon: Rare Breeds Farm

Back from France on yesterday evening's Roscoff-Plymouth Halloween themed ferry! However I'm going to delay divulging some of the things that we did on our lovely holiday. Instead I'll talk about the surprisingly fun day out that Louis and I had today at the Rare Breeds Farm at Totnes on their final opening day of the 2010 season with his friend Abi and her Mum. Any suggestion that there is a romance bond between my son and his fiery female companion is met with emphatic two way denial which must mean that they are destined to be happy ever after.
To be entirely honest that I wasn't completely looking forward to this outing as I'm not usually a big fan of petting themed animal attractions. But Louis had won a family ticket at his Scout group's fete in September so this provided the impetus to visit before the prize expired. I had visions of a day out in autumnal sunniness but I have to say the weather did not match my expectations. But the very good home made soup in the cafe must have warmed the cockles of my heart and even I fussed over a guinea pig and fed the red squirrels in the rain.
One of the things that is great about this award winning attraction is that it is non profit making.  It is staffed  largely by a band of volunteers,  many of whom are secondary school age and are a welcome antidote to the hoodie druggy stereotype of teenagers that many people like to use these days.  It's lovely to find a place where these young people act as positive and caring role models for younger children.   This is Louis the goat who was introduced to his namesake  by one of  these enthusiastic individuals (who incidentally had also learned to handle owls with competence).

The farm provides entertainment for about two hours.  For a full day out how about a  return steam train trip from Buckfastleigh and incorporating exploring Totnes and  Buckfast Abbey at each end of the railway?

Friday, 29 October 2010

Timeless Designs

I'm constantly amazed at the access that we have to information these day and one website that I've found to help with my jewellery class homework is astounding.  The resources provided by the Victoria & Albert Museum on their website are amazing.  Thousands of pictures and descriptions of objects in their collection are displayed included this Lapis Lazuli bird from the 1960s.

I'm looking for timeless designs and have surprised myself with showing a preference for enamelled pieces or look-alikes, like this beautiful piece  from the early 20th century.   Like some of the jewellery that I own there's an element of kitsch that appeals but it's saved from being tacky by the quality of the craftsmanship in its construction.

I thought the final piece that caught my eye was a product of the Arts and Crafts Movement but is in fact much earlier, having been made around 1350 in France or the Netherlands.  Maybe the religious theme might have given it away to a more experienced eye but I truly feel that this pendant falls firmly in the category of designs that transcend the age that they were produced in.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Mama's First Wintery Makes

Since I wrote 'Sleeves' Mama Lovelygrey has beavered away and the first of my new winter dresses has arrived in the post, a royal blue tunic length corduroy dress made from the much tried and tested Simplicity pattern 2926 that's going to look great with long boots, leggings and a cosy cardie.
Unfortunately I never do my Mum's designs justice.  Although I occasionally astonish myself with some of the pictures that I produce with my camera phone my fashion shoots are miles away from clinching me a photo shoot with Vogue magazine.    I don't think pictures of me wearing the clothes are going to be any better either as I'm the most unphotogenic person in the world.  But before the next longline patterned version of this garment arrives, I'll try and think of a way to depict it in a way that shows of Mama Lovelygrey's tremendous craftmanship.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

J K Rowling and I

Jo Rowling and I were at Exeter University at the same time and it won't surprise you to find out that we were best buddies.  What a great time we had.  As well as enjoying the normal academic pursuits, such as downing strange concoctions in the bar and chasing lads, we explored the Devon countryside together.   I recall that it was me who suggested, on a visit to Ottery St. Mary during the November 5th Tar Barrels Celebration, that she should bastardise the name of the town in one of the children's novels that she planned to write.  We still get together for champagne laden weekends in her pad in Edinburgh and I hope that my support helps her survive the strain that her fame inevitably brings.

Actually, all but one titbit of information in the above paragraph is a pack of lies. Joanne Rowling did attend Exeter University at the same time as me but I didn't realise this until a friend told me a few years ago.   It would be good to see a photograph of her taken at the time to see if I actually recognise her but it's a long shot seeing that lived on the  other side of the campus.

We do have a few thngs  in common now, one of which is making donations to charity. Okay, my meagre offerings pale into insignificance compared to her latest gift of £10 million to Multiple Sclerosis research but I like to think I'm making a start  and who knows that old Exeter magic may mean that, one day, I'm as rich and influential as 'my ex best mate(!).  My monthly donations into my CAF account  allow me  every so often to go on spending spree for others which generates a warm glow in the cockles of my heart  Children in Mind , who work in the underfunded field of child'ren's mental health are one of my recent beneficiaries but I've also been lucky enough to give money to other causes that float my boat, charities that focus on the environment, overseas development, health and addressing poverty.

Even if you're on a limited income I'd encourage you to set aside just a little of your income to do the same thing.  The warm glow is worth the expenditure.  And to those celebrities, who are generous with their wealth, I salute you!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Thought for the Day: Minding my Own Business

Remember sitting in maths classes at school drawing those really neat Venn diagrams? Well, this one from a very highbrow website, The Electronic Journal of Combinatrics(!) depicts seven overlapping sets!  Hail to the amazingly clever boffin who came up with it.

You may be wondering what on earth is going on and whether I'm going to roll out some complex calculus at any moment now and scare the heebie jeebies out of a good number of you.  But relax.  What I'm just trying to express in my love of the succinct clarity of the diagrammatic form. For those of you with a more verbal disposition I'll explain in words too!

This diagram depicts an idea that's been very helpful to me from a sanity preserving perspective.  A bit of research has indicated that it originates from Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peoplea book I possibly wouldn't have thought of touching because it sounds well, a bit too thrusty and go getting, if you see what I mean.  How wrong can we be - don't judge a book by its cover and all that.

Our circle of concern contains all the things that we care about, our health, our family, what the bigwigs at work are up to, what the government are up to etc, etc. The list can go on and on. The circle of influence represents all the things that we can do something about. When we worry excessively and do nothing our circle of influence shrinks and we feel overwhelmed. Our overall objective is to get the sizes of the circles to match up.

One way of doing this is to stop concerning ourselves with some of the things that are outside our control and shrinking the size of our circle of concern. But we can also increase our circle of influence by concentrating on the things that we can do something about. Can I affect what the government is going to do with my pension as a public sector worker? Probably not but I can start to implement alternative plans that will provide me with a reasonable lifelong income. By acting in this way our circle of influence magically expands.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Just finished reading: Angels

It felt like I read a look more chick-lit than is healthy for someone who would like to secretly view themselves as cerebral.   But having rooted back through my blog I find that it is a while since I dabbled into this 'easy listening' area of fiction. I think Angels is the third Marian Keye's novel that I've read.   Enjoyable with many funny moments, yes, but still not a patch on my favourite so far, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married.

 My gripe about This Charming Man  was that it could have been squeezed into a novel a third of the size.  This time, the book is a more acceptable 482 pages.   But, the bulk of the story is set in Los Angeles but I didn't really engage with the story until the main character's family turn up from Ireland.  I'm not sure if this is Keye's fault or whether a city where it appears that shallowness reigns supreme is an unproductive source of interesting characters, particularly for someone whose own cosmetic budget comes close to £0 per year.

Still the book provides a well observed commentary on the trials and tribulations of the human condition and there were many occasions that it raised a smile.  And for a quid from the hospital charity book table, that's not bad going.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Health Check

Around the end of August and into September there was a small flurry of posts on my blog with a mental health tag. They came into fruition at a time when I was feeling a bit poorly. The darker nights were looming in and I was fretting over whether I'd make it through winter without my depression coming back. With the Verve's lyrics from 'The Drugs don't Work' rolling around my head, I even contemplated a visit to the GP to insist that they prescribe something a bit stronger than my regular dose of anti-depressant.

It then dawned on me that there was a lot that I could do for myself without resorting to chemical solutions. Hence the frenzied writing containing resolutions which amounted to an action plan for keeping well. And now over a month later, it's feels like it's time for a review. Have I fastidiously kept all those promises to eat well, drink less, exercise more and the like? Well no, but I have made some progress which has not been entirely fruitless. Like all good hypochondriacs, I self test myself rigorously (using, in my case, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale in the drawer at work). In my worst state of mind, the scores indicated that I should immediately head for my nearest psychiatric facility and request detention for an indeterminate period. Now, I don't even register as clinically depressed or anxious.

So it seems, a little bit of effort goes a long way. And I have to say that my favourite way of keeping perky is my once monthly treat, made easier to impliment by the introduction of 'Chore-y Thursday'. Knowing that I've got something special to look forward to within a short space of the time, within feeling guilty about unfinished housework,  is the most powerful pick me up that I have in my arsenal.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Spiders and Conkers

I've been posting daily on my blog for a good seven months or so.  And who'd have believe that I could have come up with more than two hundred topics to write about.  I'm especially surprised for it's hardly that I lead a film star glamourous, action packed lifestyle.

What I've found though is that commiting myself to writing regularly has fostered my inquistive tendencies and they are getting more finely tuned as the months go by.  Now, I actively seek out things to write about, not earth shattering events that are going to change history, but just snippets of the everyday lives of myself and others.  So,  for example, I was going to follow up an overhead conversation and write about a subject that was completely new to me.  Old country lore would have us believe that  conkers and spiders are mutually exclusive within a ten mile radius.  A gem of an idea, that I thought I could unleash and take the world by storm.  Unfortunately Autumnwatch beat me to it and very interesting it was too!

Writing has also spurred me into being more active.  I'll try things that I possibly wouldn't have in the past for the sake of producing source materials for my posts.  Who knows whether I would have tested under the ability of Anusol to reduce under eye puffiness or a trip to 'Go Ape' without my blog.

Here's hoping that the ideas will continue to flow!  I'm starting to explore a new angle of enquiry to help this process - coming up the whacky titles before I know what I'm going to write.  Ideas for 'Raining Men' anyone?

Friday, 22 October 2010


I'm getting full use out of my winter wardrobe now.  My padded gilet is keeping me toastie when I cycle to the school to retrieve Louis and I'm wearing the short skirts that are banished from use in summer because my legs are too, well rhino-ish.  However thick black tights cover a multitude of sins.

When I plannned my winter wardrobe this year I wanted to rectify an oemission.  I have no winter dresses.  Now, I like 'frocks'.  They look smart and make me feel as if I'm wearing a comfy nightie in the daytime.  So, two lots of material have been shipped to Mama Lovelygrey.

For the moment though she's been content to send me sleeves made of old sheets.  That's because I'm being awkward and want a pattern adapted.  Mama Lovelygrey's used Simplicity pattern 2926 before.  It's a beaut and I always get compliments when I wear the things that she's made from it.  But I wanted a version with less puffy arms.  Now finally, clever sausage that she is, Mama Lovelygrey has sussed it and I'm looking forward to showing off the final versions of my cosy dresses shortly.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Roman Day

Today is Roman Day at school - so why the picture of the birthday cake you may ask.  Well, yesterday was Mr. Lovelygrey's 48th birthday.  You might think that that this event might have been a catalyst for making plenty of home made stuff in anticipation of the event.  But not a bit of it.  I've been busy with other things and anyway adult birthdays are not over celebrated in our house.  After all, we've got pretty much everything we need so there's not a lot of room for extra stuff.

But Louis does like to make birthdays an occasion so I do make a tiny effort.  So there was a cake and nice wine, courtesy of the Co-op and we wrapped up some of the bike bits that Mr Lovelygrey recently ordered and I've offered to pay for these.
Oh and I surprised him with a bottle of single malt and lunch at the pub.  So all in all not bad for an event that used to pass quietly when we were childless.
So back to Roman Day. This lovely hunk of a man appeared outside Louis' classroom a fortnight ago - much more handsome than any of the male teachers. He was going to serve as inspiration for an elaborate costume made of cardboard but again, time has not been on my side. So we've resorted to a bought helmet from Ebay and a costume made out of a pillowcase and an existing plastic breastplate from Louis' underbed armoury. So, although I did spend a minute or so turning a pillowcase into a tunic,, I'm not going to stun the other parents with my yummy mummy craftiness although but c'est la vie. What matters is Louis is happy with his costume and I'm sure he's going to have a brilliant day.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Secret of a Gleaming Smile

Ah!  the ring of confidence.  When I was Little Lovelygrey I was easily seduced by a good ad.  So, I pestered Mama Lovelygrey to buy some Colgate toothpaste, truly believing that its use would, in one dizzy instant, encase my head in a kind of mystic hula hoop.  But it was not to be.  Either the advertising men were misleading me or I was not one of the chosen beings for whom this was a reality.  Thinking back, neither was anyone else in my school!

So what is the secret of a gleaming smile?  Now flossing before brushing  is helpful in removing all the bits that your toothbrush can't reach and is a habit that is second nature to both myself and my fastidious friend and beauty consultant, Mr. Metrosexual.  As an aside, flossing may be also  influential in preventing cardiovascular disease.  Read this lovely sensible article that I've found to discover more. 

I think a whizzy electric toothbrush has been helpful in keeping my teeth looking and feeling overall much cleaner than they were when I used a manual version. However, I was still having problems with stains building up on my two lower front teeth that overlap irregularly.  So, Magda, my dentist, suggested smoker's toothpaste might help.

Now I'm not a smoker.  I'm too prone to inner turmoil to inflict such a damaging habit on my body.  And I'm tight.  Have you seen how much a packet of ciggies costs these days?  Just to say that this handy hint has worked.  Whilst my teeth are not whiter than white, which I think is down to the natural colour of the enamel, there's no obvious staining now so I'm a lot happier.  Just to say I'm not advocating the brand in the illustration.  Any old type seems to do and in the spirit of being a meanie I pick whichever is the cheapest in the shop at the time of my purchase.

And if you're still insistent that you'd like your very own ring of confidence? Well, learn to hula hoop at face level!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Guinea Pig Papers

I've been swapping 'junk' with my jewellery teacher Lizzie.  She's supplied me with a mound of corks and I am saving my newspapers for her to use to line the hutch of her guinea pigs.  Hopefully, they'll be very pleased with their reading material and their squeaky laughther will fill Lizzie's garden with joy as they read the quote from Tony Blair's new autobiography a piece of writng that has won him the accolade of being nominated for the Literary Review's 'Bad Sex Award'.

Thanks to the efforts of holiday drinking, my wine loving friends, a lucky find donated by an ex-winemaker in a charity shop and my oddest Ebay purchase I believe I've now got enough corks to start my bath mats.  These are much needed because my existing ones are definitely past their sell by date.   I need to add the other materials to my shopping list and add this project to the ever increasing pile of work in progress. Mr Lovelygrey suspects that cracks in the downstairs plaster may have appeared because the weight of craft materials on the shelves up above!

Unfinished work includes my ring from Lizzie's jewellery class. Even in its bent, rough, untarnished state I'm already proud to show my soldering abilities. I'm quite confident that I'll be able to show off the finished article in all its glittering glory after my next lesson.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Mini Church of Craft: A Little Help from My Friends

Alas Naomi wasn't around for our October Church of Craft Meeting but Louis decided to join Melanie and me (when he wasn't playing with her Wii).    A project for a wire work pendant in one of Melanie's back issues of 'Making Jewellery' magazine had brought out my inner fish wife when I attempted the project alone with little to show for my effort apart from blue air.  To be fair to the author, Abby Hook,  the project is described as advanced so perhaps I was over-estimating my skill level.

 But I've found it helpful to share my jewellery problems with my friends.  Two heads are better than one and all that.  Melanie's attempt to make the design wasn't completely successful either but we came up with a few ideas like a teensy bit of soldering that might make the pendant easier to complete.

On this occasion Louis was the only person to finish a piece of work, customising a gold plated bookmark with his own collection of beads, pilfered from my own and Melanie's craft box.   Unlike the grown ups he produced his design really easily, neither fretting nor swearing along the way. He even fitted in the odd game of virtual golf as well!   His colourful end-product  currently  has pride of place between the pages of  'James and the Giant Peach'. 

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Art as Medicine

I love art in the workspace and it might not surprise my more regular visitors (thanks guys) that I hold strong beliefs about its true therapeutic value in healthcare settings for staff, visitors and patients/service users/client or whatever you may wish to call 'our customers' these days.  Answer to be decided after hours of deliberation in a boardroom near you!   On the way to a meeting the other day I was met by this wonderful piece of sculpture in the grounds of Wonford House Hospital in Exeter.   With a little bit of research I've found out it was created through by artists working for a local charity, Magic Carpet Arts , who helped people on the unit produce this fascinating piece of work, a mix of mosaic and sculptural form.

It caused me to consider art in the NHS and where the money comes from. As you may be aware I work full-time, doing family stuff and dabbling a bit in craft projects of my own. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time for researching my daily post but I gave it a fair crack in the five minutes or so that I got today! I found out that lots of the artwork in hospitals is funded by charities, who either buy art or commission artists to work on therapeutic projects in hospitals.  But occasionally there is a hoo haa when the NHS itself directly splashes out the cash.  Take, this example found in that esteemed tome 'The Daily Mail'.  An NHS trust in Mid Essex was condemned by the paper for spending £421,000 on art at the same time as seeking £40 million in  budget cuts.

I'm siding with the voice of the blue rinse brigade here.  This doesn't seem like a good use of public money at a time when we are being sought to tighten our belt to such a degree that the metaphorical  muffin top becomes de rigueur. What would be better use though is to restore the production of good quality art works as a bona fide therapeutic activity which provides both an engaging treatment for a vast range of conditions and an end product to be displayed to enhance the healing environment.

PS: These chickens greet me each morning. They are much loved by many people who use the hospital where I work.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Spy Who Loved Me

I'm being super nosey and have added StatCounter to my blog  which was free to download.  This means that I can track the visitors that I receive. Consequently I get excited  when lots of people have seen my postings and feel disappointment on the days when my writing seems to sink into the Internet equivalent of a black hole.  It can sometimes elicit contrasting emotions almost simultaneously.  For example, a few days ago someone from the hallowed ground that is the BBC in London visited my blog but, if the statistics are to be believed, they didn't stick around long enough to discover me as a top notch writer worth paying megabucks.

The world map showing where my visitors come from is quite fascinating.  At first, my visitors were almost exclusively from the UK.  However, my British followers will be pleased to know that  their exact whereabouts is hazy and I can't pinpoint their geographical location.  Rather than discovering that user X is sitting on the loo in their ensuite in Barnsley presumably with a laptop, I believe I'm given the whereabouts of their service provider instead. I sussed this as all hits from NHS computers (of course generated when users are on lunchbreak) are noted as coming from London. In hindsight the BBC probably operate a similar system and my viewer there was probably a locum maintenance man given temporary access rights at somewhere like BBC Radio Shropshire.

I also get hits from other, mostly English speaking, countries too and these cause me to be particularly gleeful. However I am a little puzzled if a visit lasts more than a little while.  Why would someone in Florida spend three hours looking at my blog and who is 'My Man in Calcutta'? My slowly increasing (international!) audience gives me hope that there is more people out there who return to read my posts than my current measly tally of five Google followers and infrequent comments attached to my post would suggest (Welcome though Piggie Heaven, my newest recruit!)

Anyway it's all harmless fun and if I ever get round to analysing some of the data I'm collected I might concentrate my efforts on writing more of the stuff that you stealthy lot like. This espionage-like activity begs a more serious question? If I'm watching you, and additionally doing a bit of extra nosing facilitated by Facebook, Friends Reunited and the like, who on earth is out there watching me?

Friday, 15 October 2010

Just finished reading: What I do: More True Tales of Everyday Craziness

When I wrote a post about Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness by Jon Ronson, I'd just reserved  its sequel  What I Do: More True Tales of Everyday Craziness from the library. Was this worth the 50p reservation fee? Absolutely!

Like its predecessor this is a book of two halves. The majority of part one is made up of a collecton of vignettes focusing on Ronson's everyday life and  longer pieces of writing too.  Presumably these  first appeared in the Guardian newspaper. Many of these conjure up the mixture of humour and shock that I find very pleasurable.Sometimes, it seems that Ronson's inhibitory areas in his brain's frontal lobes are temporarily shot. Linda McCartney bit back after she encountered him at one such time so when he wrote disparingly about certain pieces of her husband's work (Read the book!).  Then, there is an incident where Ronson is caught out by miming soup eating to a young girl in a restaurant. This is a scene so reminiscent of the cringingly embarrassing US series,  'Curb your Enthusiasm' , that I'm sure that Ronson is a relative of it's star Larry David. His wonderfully astute wife, Elaine, would fit nicely into the show too!

The remainder of the first half of the book and part two  is comprised of a collection of longer thought provoking articles which seem to show that our craziness isn't all self induced. Other people are involved too. I particularly enjoyed the articles on neuro linguistic programming and how marketing loan finance is targeted.

What I like about Ronson is his own (and indeed his wife's) ability to dissect his paranoid, anxious and sometimes egotistical thinking. His skill at doing this would make him an ideal candidate for cognitive behavioural therapy but I wouldn't want him to go through this. A more balanced viewpoint would almost certainly lead to writer's block and, for the sake of my own selfish desire to enjoy things that he writes in the future, I wouldn't want to inflict  that on him.  It would worry him too much!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Ten Ways to Keep a Young Boy Happy on a Woodland Walk

'Can you take a picture of my beetle, Mummy?'  said Louis as we strolled in our secret Devon wood. ' Then you can use it on your blog'.  The afternoon did not get off to a good start.  Louis was in a colossol strop and I couldn't get to the bottom of its origin.  Time for fast action to avert a family outing disaster.  So I got my thinking cap on and reverted to some of the tactics below.  Result:  Sweet natured contented boy back on track!
  1. Take sweets or chocolate, lots of them to use as bribes to get him up a particularly steep hill or walk that extra few paces.
  2. Hide small treasures (aforementioned sweeties will do) along the route for him to find.
  3. Conceal yourself along the route too.  Hide and seek is a good incentive for moving ever onwards.  
  4. View bits of wood as potential weapons and allow him to test their power - within reasonable limits!
  5. Don't fret about mud and dampness.  In general small boys like to be wet and dirty.  They don't like to be too hot or cold so take suitable clothing.
  6. Allow him to eat the edible plants that you find.  Usual precautions about correct identification and avoiding poisonous plants/fungi apply, but surely, no-one could go wrong with blackberries when in season?  Look for woodland treasures such as conkers and spore producing puffball mushrooms too.
  7. Encourage him to find animals, dead or alive.  Go with the expectation that he might annoy the hell out of small insects and ants and pick up unsavoury objects.
  8. If paths are smooth-ish consider taking a scooter.
  9. Go 'off piste' and find your own secret paths to explore.
  10. Remember that children are easily distracted.  Plan to cover only a fraction of the mileage that you would on a grown up walk to allow time for 1-9 above!

    Wednesday, 13 October 2010

    Dirty Heavy Metal

    I feel that my silver jewellery class is going well even though all I've got to show for my efforts at the moment is a bent C shaped bit of  silver and a more complex tarnished piece. 'Nice,'said Louis although I could tell he was pretty underwhelmed by the cylinder of silver attached to a small piece of raggedy plate which will eventually be transformed into the bezel for a shiny, glittery topaz ring.  Obviously he didn't appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that had gone into my soldering.

    For homework we've been asked to compile two sets of images to act as resource materials, one around a theme and the other a collection of work by jewellers and other artists that we admire.  This bee pendant will almost certainly be there.  I've been in awe of it ever since I clapped eyes on it, as it were, in the flesh.  It's housed in a museum in Heraklion Museum on Crete and is a find from nearby Malia.  Remarkably it's from the early Bronze Age and  is dated at 1700BC.  Good work ancient craftman!  I hope one day to achieve your level of appreciation of form and skill but for now you've inspired me to use 'Timeless' as my theme.

    Tuesday, 12 October 2010

    Thought for the Day: 'Fessing Up'

    I'm wondering if someone up there is cross with me!  There been a little more living at the black end of my monochrome spectrum than I'd like to admit.  Among my last few posts have been a number where I've tried to portray myself as the eco-thrifty chick that I'd like you to think I am.  And now, as if to say that my latest 'sin' against green living was just a step too far I've been struck down with a bout of irritable bowel syndrome.   I'm concerned that the cause is ingestion of previous suspects, wheat in combination with red meat, this time in the form of a Big Mac!

    Yes, I bowed to pester power and the lure of the Happy Meal and went to McDonalds at the weekend.  As Louis sighed with contentment over his Chicken Nuggets, Fries, McFlurry and especially the toy,  I laboured through my 'sandwich' and ruled myself out as the star of the sequel to Fast Food Nation.  Only one lot of tasteless burgers wedged between pappy baps was enough to convince me that  this was way off the beautiful home cooked meals that I'm normally used to.  Just to reinforce the fact that I needn't eat anything so mass produced again I reckon someone on high served me a tiny reminder and inflicted severe abdominal pain which hasn't yet abated.

    And whilst I'm here I might as well 'fess up my other sins against green, wholesome living on top of booking flights to Scotland that I've already mentioned.  I recently visited an snowdome, thereby giving my tacit approval to an attraction that has a huge environmental impact.  Also I'm adding onward flights to our impending transatlantic family trip rather than facing the prospect of a sixteen hour journey each way in our friend's truck to our final holiday destination.   I think I hear a voice booming down from above.  'Must do better, Lovelygrey!'

    Monday, 11 October 2010


    I googled 'Paradox' for an arty picture to illustrate this post but couldn't resist this conundrum.  How can this be?  Explain my spinning head.

    It makes me think of a similarly knotty and seemingly unsolvable problem doing the rounds at work last week.  It went something like this:

    Three men check into a hotel room (And no, one of them wasn't William Hague trying to save on his expenses!).  The room rate is £30 so each guest pays their share, £10.  Later the receptionist realizes that the  bill should only be £25. To rectify this, he gives the porter £5 to return to the guests.  But, on the way to the room, the porter realises that he cannot divide the money equally so he gives each guest £1 each and keeps £2 for himself.  Each of the guests has been refunded £1 and so have paid £9 in total.  The total paid for the room amounts to £27. The porter has £2. If the guests originally handed over £30, what happened to the missing £1?  I'm pleased to say that Wiki put me out of my misery!

    I've gone wildly off the point of this post which was to introduce a piece of writing, The Paradoxical Commandments, which was read at a recent retirement do that I attended.  It deserves to be more widely known and would make a lovely reading at a family event. When I heard the words, they were wrongly attributed to Mother Teresa because she pinned it to the walls in her children's home in Calcutta.  This apparently common mistake meant  I was lead on a merry dance before finding the piece.   It is, in fact,  the work of an American, Kent M. Keith and was incorporated in a book, written in the sixties,  for student leaders.

    People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
    Love them anyway.

     If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
    Do good anyway.

    If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.

    The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
    Do good anyway.

    Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
    Be honest and frank anyway.
    The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
    Think big anyway.

    People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
    Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

    What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
    Build anyway.

    People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
    Help people anyway.

    Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
    Give the world the best you have anyway.

    Sunday, 10 October 2010

    Get Them Off!

    I'm always looking out for inspiration for future jewellery projects even though I'm slow in their execution. As well as finding ideas in books and magazines, I've found that people are normally happy, to take off and let me photograph pieces that they're wearing. Of course, this is after I've profusely complimented them for their wonderful taste! Who knows, some of the increasing collection of photos that I'm collecting might useful resource material when I create my own designs in future.

    Above are some beautiful ceramic and silver earrings bought by Snobby Friend on a recent trip to Istanbul which I believe may have incorporated frenzied shopping activity judging by the number of previously unseen scarves and glittery things she's been wearing since the trip.  The chunky design could be an ideal way for me to practise my new found bezel making skills acquired from jewellery evening class.    I love their asymmetry and chunky fastenings too.

    I aspire to being able to produce the neat plaiting that my minimalism loving friend Kay has produced in this simple leather and silver pendant that she made herself. I wonder whether friends find it flattering when they're asked to denude themselves of their own creations so that I can copy their ideas or are quietly seething because of the outright cheek!

    Saturday, 9 October 2010

    Curtains for Curtains

    Mama Lovelygrey and her ancient sewing machine are back!  The amount of time she needs to spend on her allotment diminishes over the winter and she insists that she get bored.  So, out of the goodness of my heart to preserve her sanity until courgette planting season arrives,  I've  put her to work again!   Back in July I mentioned that I'd bought some curtains in a charity shop.  When Mama Lovelygrey was visiting in August, I passed them to her and this is how they have been given a new lease of life.

    Again, Simplicity 4401 has been used to create this lovely elegant fishtail skirt, the fifth from this  pattern which is suggested as an eveningwear design.  This is the first however in a heavier weight material which makes it ideal for winter wear.  Total cost was about £4, which isn't bad for a piece of clothing destined to be a much loved favourite even though my esteemed colleague Mr. Metrosexual thinks that the cloth should have been recycled into cushions.  But I disagree so, thanks once again Mama Lovelygrey!

    Friday, 8 October 2010

    National Book Week: Instant Dennis

    It's a quick one today because I'm still recovering from the aftermath of a very busy day.  I was home from work an hour and a half later than normal, it was Chore-y Thursday and I wanted to watch 'River Cottage Everyday'.  What a source of yummy inspiration that was too!

    In the midst of all the hyperactivitiy prior to slumping in front of the TV, a little voice spoke to me.  'I need to dress up for book day tomorrow'.  Realisation struck.  So, that was the reason that one of the Beaver mummies had been moaning vociferously about prolific costume making.  After it's Roman day and Victorian day at school this half term.  Now it was the turn of National Book Week to spoil our already frenzied routines!

    So, panic mounting, I looked on line for inspiration and was surprised to see that the marketing men see Book Days as a selling opportunity.  Type in 'book day costumes' on Google and there's a wealth of Harry Potter outfits and the like that you can buy for the event.  But given that it was too late and more importantly I abhor that kind of spending activity I looked around for a free costume.

    Here's the very quick result conjured up this morning from a nearly authentic red and blue striped T-shirt and a modified Halloween wig plumped up with a bit of hair gel. Bad mummy situation narrowly averted!

    Thursday, 7 October 2010

    A Spoonful of Sugar

    I'm taking some time at the moment to write an article which I hope will be accepted for inclusion  in one of my profession's journals.  After all preparing posts for my blog has given lots of practice in writing in a style that will be just right in an learned academic publication.  Everything I've said here  is rigourously researched and verified and of course gets the intellectual juices flowing.

    What interests me is not, surprisingly, demonstrating the physical existence of the pudding tummy. This is the shy and elusive second stomach that kicks into play, ensuring that there is always room for desert even after a hungry horse sized main course. There is,experientially, conclusive evidence that this exists beyond reasonable doubt. I'm writing with the hope that I'll convince members of my profession that they cannot ignore the effects that medication has on a person's ability to function properly.

    This is a topic close to my heart. I am perhaps more fulfilled than at any other time in my life and I do not hide my belief that anti-depressants have been instrumental in helping me overcome mental illness although it's also down to my own work too. But I have also seen medication in a different light. I viewed my use of large doses of painkillers where I sprained my ankle badly as detrimental after a couple of weeks and attributed feeling ill to their extended use. It was difficult to put this point across to my otherwise helpful GP, who I believe was starting to view me as a memeber of the awkward squad.

    So I am trying to persuade other occupational therapists, that we have a role in supporting people to make informed decisions about their medication, helping them to take it if they wish to but have difficulty doing so. However, if they've had all the relevant information and decide that pills and potions are not for them we should be well placed to support them with this decision, perhaps acting as their advocate or providing alternative strategies to manage their illness.