Tuesday, 31 January 2012

All Wrapped Up

As promised, here's the result of Saturday's lovely day out with Red Mel and Kay at Bijoux Beads in Bath.   We signed up to a wirework course at the shop and much merriment and makey-ness was had by all.  So, behold 's my first finished piece of craft for 2012, a wirework  necklace with sea inspired beads clustered around five central 'stations'. There's fishes, starfish and pearls, blue to represent the waves and crystal to pay homage to the spray.  Oh and there's bubbles in the  form of the chain How arty-farty is that!

Red Mel's eclectic mixture of bead was made to match her fancy Boden tunic that she bought in the sale.  It's amazing how different finished products can be when everyone follows the same set of instructions.
Here's the one made by a partner in crime for the day, a lovely lady called Sandra who was on the course thanks to it being paid for as a gift by her husband, the crafter's ideal man!

This beautiful design was made by Sally who again made an accessory to match her outfit, albeit subconciously.  She didn't realise how closely the colours corresponded to what she was wearing until it was pointed out. She must be a dusky pink and purple kind of girl.

And here's teacher's effort.  Jo made this gloriously abundant piece that would look so lovely on a bride.    And it's so, so neat on the back.  Does it surprise you that this talented young lady designs wedding jewellery?

While you look at Kay's necklace I'll give you an overview of the course.  The girls in the shop are enthusiastic, lovely and helpful and we had a brilliant day out learning new techniques that lend themselves to being used to recycle those odds and sods left over from other projects.  The shop has a beautiful selection of beads to choose from.  But the course is not for the skint amongst you.  It's comes in quite expensive when you factor in the cost of the tuition (£45) and the beads that you choose.  They're expensive which isn't surprising given the shop's location in a historic world heritage city.    It would have been helpful if the shop's website had a better description of  its aims and a photo of the project to be completed.  All this beadiness excess was right up Red Mel's street but for me and Kay, we'd have liked to have seen a lot more emphasis on learning how to use wire and might have chosen a different course if we'd have had more information.

Monday, 30 January 2012

A Super Start!

Morning chummers!  Off to a nice early start with blogging today in order to embark on my catch up.  And what a difference eighteen months makes.  Then I wrote a post about not liking Mondays. But now?  Well they ain't so bad at all especially as it's usually my Tavistock day and I get the pleasure of 'probably the best commute in the world ever' crossing the wild rugged scenery of Dartmoor.

Today is even better than usual for I've just downloaded the long awaited latest album from my musical hero of all time from Amazon.  So I'll be listening Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas, in my cosy car.  Even though snow has been forecast it seems to have missed us for the time-being but I'll take my wellies,  blankie,  flask of coffee and snacks just in case I get marooned!

And just in case there's others of you out there who love this gnarly old songster too check out his interview on the BBC's Radio 6 with Jarvis Cocker.   I spent an enjoyable evening chatting on Facebook.  But be quick it's only available for another six days!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Silence is Golden.....

....but duct tape is silver!  Busy, busy, busy at the moment and have had a few days off from blogging so that's why I've been super quiet.  it's not that I've been bound and gagged and taken hostage or anything nasty.  Sometimes life throws stuff at you that just needs getting on with.

Anyway I was going to write about my weekend's exploits and I was going to backfill the days I've missed so that in years to come people will look at my blog and be misguided into the belief that I'm a super organised soul.  But the lovely land of Nod is calling so it's all going to have to wait until the morning when I might wake up to the fluffy white stuff that's been forecast.  Night night to you all! x

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

I Tried!

It was supposed to be my day off today but I ended up at Plymouth University furthering my academic curiousity.  I've agreed to participate in an occupational therapy research study which I'm quite excited about. However I realise that if I discussed it in detail here many eyes would glaze over and no doubt a significant number of my readership would run off to Facebook..or maybe Tweet instead.  So, I'll curb my enthusiasm and  stay schtum.  However any OTs who're interested in what I'm up to can contact me personally and I'll surreptitiously explain what the heck I'm up to.

Whilst I was on campus I decided I'd treat myself to a great big blast of self achievement and tackle the oldest thing on the To Do list of my last phone which only dates from about four years ago.  Isn't it good that I'm not in denial about the fact that I'm a procrastinator?  The item in question is paying a  fine of £1 dating from the days when I studying cognitive behavioural therapy modules and a book was overdue for a day.  I've been receiving email reminders ever since and no doubt a certificate is being withheld in a drawer somewhere until the debt is paid.

So clutching a ten pound note in hand I toddled off to the library a good half hour before my meeting was due to start. Here's how events unfolded and the task remains on my list.

  • I explained my transgression to the staff at the information desk and how I eagerly desired to make good my debt.  They told me that they couldn't take cash so needed to top up my six year old library card with £1 on a machine around the corner and then go to another machine where the fine would be wiped.
  • This machine refused to recognise my card.  However it told me that if I swiped it through a peripheral device it would be activated so....
  • I headed towards a printer and popped the card in the reader which promptly fell off the machine.  Oops!
  • Hastily I propped the reader precariously back up and swiped the card again but to no avail.  Gobbledygook  appeared on the screen.
  • Back to the information desk.  They gave me a guest card and told me that if I topped that up they would be able to eliminate my debt by crediting it to my own account.
  • A helpful student (goodness they look young these days) told me that the top up machine needed exact coinage and I only had paper money and a 50 cent coin from Europe.
  • However there was a neighbouring change machine.  Yippee!  I finally thought I'd sussed it but.... both ten pound notes I tried were spat out probably because they'd been scrumpled in my pocket rather than walleted tidily.
  • Back at the information desk I told them that I would try to pay my dues when I next visited the campus in May.  They reassured me that a hitman would not be round to Lovelygrey Villas, probably because I'll have hired him first to take a few pot shots at all those annoying bits of technology!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Bit of a Puzzle

Photo by cooldesign
Yesterday, during my journey to work across the moor...probably the best commute in the world!... there was a feature on BBC Radio 4's  Today programme that grabbed my attention.  It was about the increase in the need for breakfast clubs as allegedly more and more kids in Britain go to school hungry because their parents can't afford to feed them.

Now I'll leave the pooh poohing of this to posh people like the one they dragged up on the programme.  There's really far too many indignant folk around at the moment who've taken their silver spoons out of their mouth to voice their opinions about what wasters 'poor people' are.   But I am struggling to comprehend how families can get into this state of affairs in a 21st century first world country.  Like one of the presenters on the programme I'm asking, 'Do they really not have the few pence that it costs to buy porridge and a piece of fruit or indeed some other healthy but frugal breakfast?'   Please don't misunderstand me and think that the tone of this question is derisory.   I am merely after a 'yes or no' answer.

If you come across this blog and don't have the money to feed your children I'd like to know more.  Is your income pitiful or have expenses for essentials just racked up to a level where budgets just can't be balanced.  Are you lacking budgeting or other skills that mean that you can't make the best use of the money you've got?  Or are those who feel that they rank above us commoners right in thinking that the less well off in society who're struggling brought the entire situation on themselves by feckless spending?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Watching Others Work

For a little while I've been meaning to show you one of my favourite pictures 'Les Raboteurs de Parquet' by Gustav Caillebotte. The original of this hangs in the Musee d'Orsay, Paris alongside many even more known well known impressionist masterpiece.  But a copy in a clipart frame also hangs in the hall at Lovelygrey Villas.  At last I've found the perfect excuse to share it  For I'm linking it with another two paintings which have a common theme. It's not the pretty and frou-frou, lush landscapes or the weird and wonderful that has been grabbing my attention.  Rather it's about the rather pleasurable pursuit of watching other people doing some work for a change!

Here's another slightly more modern picture by Pegaret Anthony.  Now isn't that a name to die for!  I first heard of her when I was poorly and feeding myself a viewing diet of endless antique programmes.   This lady, who was also a costume historian was commissioned, to create some pictures of people going about their jobs during WWII. Some of  her pieces depicting those ordinary souls working towards the war effort are depicted in the Imperial War Museum in London.

And finally the creme de la creme that I saw in the current exhibition 'Into the Light' at RAMM yesterday.  'Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach' by Stanhope Forbes is normally exhibited in the Plymouth City Museum.  It was the piece that first brought the public's attention to the Newlyn group of artists.  It is so exquisite and unusual that I have to have. So if there's any art thieves out there in the Exeter area who've got their crowbar and  black nylon stocking handy, could you just nip in and procure it for me?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Days Out in Devon: Royal Albert Memorial Museum

About, say, three or four years ago Mama and Papa Lovelygrey were visiting and wanted to take Louis out for the day in Exeter.  I suggested that they went to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.  But they were disappointed.  'It's was closed' they said. 'Until 2011!'

Well the long awaiting re-opening finally came round in December and even though the boys visited during between Christmas and New Year when I had to work, I decided to drag them out there again for a visit yesterday.  Stupidly I was expected a bit of replastering and a touch of paint but doh! That doesn't take years and fifteen million pounds unless it's a job by the ultimate builder from hell. No, what's been achieved is a spectacular new build which has been sensitively joined to the buildings original Arts and Craft galleries.

I'll get my moans out of the way first.  Gerald, the museum's iconic giraffe whose used to dominate the middle of a  two storied galleried hall has been relegated to a gallery at the back of the building.  His old haunt has been given over to a restaurant.  And although there's twelve bee bags, each containing different equipment to help teeny  children enjoy their visit, it would be good to have something like an activity sheet to slow down the progress of older kids around the galleries.  However these moans are minor and overall I was really impressed with this lovely free revamped Devonian attraction.

Our city museums are often eclectic in nature and this is no exception.    They contain a hotch potch of gifted and found items including lots of beasties that were shot in the 19th century and foreign artifacts which beg the question about whether they should be returned to their native lands.  However the curators have worked at bringing together different aspects of the collection to make a aesthetically pleasing, culturally sensitive and  educational display.  Lots of things caught my eye but for now I'll share just one.  Have a guess at what this gratifyingly ordered display might just be!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Unproductive Mini Church of Craft

The mini Church of Craft met today after a bit of a break due to Christmas and other commitments. However we were pretty darned  unproductive but I hope you'll agree that there's a good reason for this. Naomi aka Nomes, the name she'll ever more be known as on this blog, has moved into a new home to die for, even thought it's a bit chilly even on a uber-mild winter's day.  Here's the view from her dining room.  There's a craft workshop, albeit with rickety, rotten ankle breaking steps and extensive grounds down to the river Teign to boot.  No wonder we couldn't focus too hard on being creative with such brilliant scenery

So what did we do?  Well we gossiped of course.  And ate cake and drank tea.  But I'm being unfair with my title for creative stuff came out of us meeting together.

Firstly Nomes made us aware of a brilliant brilliant  that is so great that I nearly wet myself with excitement,  though this was hard to do in a two bedroomed house graced with three toilets!  Its called craftgawker and I urge everyone to have a look.  Even those who don't profess to have a creative bone in their body couldn't help being inspired by the wealth of projects that it describes.  I'd need at least a year off workk to make everything that's inspired me so far!

And at last I got round to trying out my Makin polymer clay roller complete with its motor that I brought back from the US a year ago.  A project on craftgawker has given me a quick and easy jewellery idea and I started to experiment with my beautiful smooth Fimo sheets that were produced at the touch of a button. I hope to be able to knock up a few finished example  and show you them in a week or two!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Dib Dib Dib

Whoah!  Dig that funky fleur de lys.  It almost glows!

About eighteen months ago I volunteered to join the committee of the Scout Group of which Louis is a member as a cub.  It holds its meetings on Fridays, a day that has proved so inconvenient that I've not been able to make one until today.  Festivals, holidays and life threatening illnesses have got in the way up to now.  But finally tonight I managed for the first time to fulfill my duties.

And I have to say that it was dire.  Not even a cup of tea passed our lips and it was a joyless exercise seen over by a leader, who although shows enormous dedication, is rather stuck in his ways.  No wonder parents don't want to  get involved at the end of a hard week at work.   But another newbie and I have taken the bull by the homes and decided to oversee the running of the annual fayre to raise much needed booty for what is an extremely worthwhile youth organisation. We've set ourselves the task of beating last year's rather pitiful takings and having some fun to boot.

So we're going to start to plan our fundraising attempt with gusto! Not for us the strip light lit scout hut as a place for our meetings but it's down to the pub of course!  We'll entice some of the other parents to get involved with the promise of planning meetings that not only include a bit of grafting but include a bite, a beer and a giggle or two.    It seems to be that for an activity that relies on volunteers to be successful it  has to be portrayed as fun.  Then it's just that bit easier to make the serious underlying matter in hand - whether it is fundraising, directly giving time to a group in society or say, an environmental project - just seem like a by-product of having a good time!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Supermarket Sweep Kiddie Style

My friend and colleague, Scary Secretary is one of the thriftiest people that I know. A single mum who works part-time but still manages to look gorgeous and have an enjoyable, full life, she survives on an annual income that is the equivalent of, say, a tenth of a banker's bonus in a poor year.  She's a mine of useful ideas, including a fail safe tactic that prevents you from forgetting  the lunchtime shopping  that you put in the fridge at the end of a hard day at work.  Her latest flash of inspiration is genius,  She's come up with a way of making a small child think that you are super generous without incurring any great cost.

Imagine being lead to the door of a shop and being told 'You can have anything you like in here, anything at all!'  Well Scary does this with her five year old.  Is she mad, I hear some of you say.  Well she would be if the store were ToysRus or the Disney Store.  But instead she plays this trick in Poundland. That's the equivalent to a dollar store to my friends across the pond!

Left to their own devices, kids inevitably choose tat and unfortunately this state of affairs is almost impossible to avoid entirely.   However green and ethical your own leanings are kids are drawn to hulking great bits of badly constructed plastic that invariably hail from China.  So why pay more that a quid for those pocket money toys hard earned by pester power that are more often than going to fall in the space of a few hours?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Thought for the Day: Patterns

Well yesterday was monumental in my blogging career.  For it was the first day in nearly two years since I started my experiment that I haven't prepared or published a post.  And I did it on purpose!

There's a lot going on in my life at the current time which I'll disclose as inclination takes me. But it wasn't just that I was too busy to blog.  I've got into the habit of making time for my project that has developed my confidence in writing for an audience and lead me on a journey of both personal and wider  exploration that I never would believed.  But it's got routine and sometimes it's good to break free from the throes of habitual pursuits, however small they are, and do something different for a change.  Hence the break.  Instead of squeezing something out of my brain at the end  of a  busy day I read a book instead.

So I urge you all out there to break free from patterns of behaviour and do something different instead.  It doesn't have to be anything monumental.  Take a alternative way to work, buy a different newspaper, speak to someone who you wouldn't normally pass the time of day with, don't wash for a day......The list is endless.  Make a temporary or permanent change and see what happens!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Lovelygrey's Well Good Pasta Sauce.

I could have taken a picture of last night's supper but:

1.  Pretty much every reddish coloured pasta sauce looks the same so you wouldn't have gleaned any useful information from the illustration.
2.  I just couldn't be arsed to get my camera when I'd finished cooking. The old tummy was rumbling and I wanted to tuck in.

So instead you'll have to do with this shot from Microsoft Clipart.  Now Louis still can be a messy eater but he doesn't reach these extremes.

Anyway back to the recipe.  It isn't any good for my readers who don't eat pork but for those of you who like a touch of pig in your dinner it makes for a great tasty, cheap, quick supper.  There's just a hint of streaky in there but it lends a  lovely complexity to a tomato based sauce without having to add a myriad of herbs, spices and seasoned oils.   Need I say more to commend it to you?  Serves four.

  • Put salted water on the stove to boil.  Whilst that's going on chop up an onion and two rashers of smoked streaky bacon and then fry them in a bit of oil over a moderate heat until softened.  My onions blackened a bit which may have added to the final dish's smoky taste
  • Once the water has boil cook pasta according to the instructions on the packet.  Add a tin of tomatoes to the onion/bacon mixture and mush them down with a wooden spoon and heat through. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.
  • Once pasta is cooked, drain it and reserve a little bit of the cooking liquid.  Using a handheld blender whizz up the contents of the pan, adding a little bit of pasta water to loosen it up to a saucy consistency.
  • Stir pasta into the sauce and coat it evenly.  Believe me this method is much better than dolloping the sauce on top.
  • Of course you'll need freshly grated parmesan to serve!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Thought for the Day: Bad Parenting Seventies Style

Image by Salvatore Vuono
I'm going to let you into a secret.  Mama and Papa Lovelygrey weren't perfect parents.  But hang it!  We all get it wrong sometimes.  Perhaps there are some of you out there who would have tut tutted my tactic on Friday of telling Louis that if he lost his gloves yet again, I seriously would kill him.  But heck, it worked and both mitts arrived home.  There's others who would be horrified at the level of freedom he has to roam the streets in the vicinity of home.

Where my parents got it wrong can be illustrated from a vignette from childhood.  We're walking along Southend seafront as a family and approach the Golden Mile, the liveliest part of the prom.  As we're passing one of the kiosks, one of our little voices cries out 'Can we have an ice cream?'  To which the reply is 'No, don't ask don't get'.  I adhered to this philosophy for years.  Who knows what I might have 'got' if  I'd ignored these questionable words of wisdom and been cheeky with my requests a little more often.   Surely its antonym in the proverb stakes,  'No harm in asking'  is what we should be teaching our children.   And they also need to know that if someone makes a request for something from them, they've always got the right to say no.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Days Out in Devon: Wassailing

My usual Friday night consists of snuggling down into my aptly named Stressless  chair with a glass of something stronger than a cuppa and watching whatever's been recorded that takes my fancy.  But last night I went out and arrived home at the heady hour of 8:30pm.  Easy tiger!  Louis and I attended the annual Wassail in the orchard at Parke, the headquarters of the Dartmoor National Park, a family friendly event organised by Ranger Ralph but open to all.  These strange gentleman came too.

Now wassailing is an Olde English tradition which sees evil spirits being scared away from apple trees so that a good crop is produced for cider making.   A thoroughly productive exercise I hope you'll all agree. So how do  you promote rich fruity pickings without resorting to copious amounts of Miracle-Gro.  Easy!  You just sing to the trees with a bunch of Morris men whilst a big bloke  fires a shotgun into the sky and the kids beat improved drums.  This is supposed  to ward off the devil and his mates.  Then after that's all done and dusted,  the  branch or the oldest tree in the orchard is then adorned with toast dunked in cider.  Here's Louis, carrying his Quality Street tin and spatula drum kit, with the toast he made himself over the campfire.  No its not a trick of the light.  It was  really that black.  Remind me not to ask him to make breakfast.

We went back in broad daylight just to make sure that the whole set surreal shenanigans  hadn't been a figment of our imaginations.  Et voila!  Here's the boy himself under the bread strewn branches.  So it wasn't all a bizarre dream fuelled by a tiny shot of scrumpy!  And just in case you're wondering the shot is meant to be at a funny angle.  I was trying to be arty.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Local Heroes

I see in the news this week that Little Chef is struggling.  and I'm not blooming well surprised.  What I've eaten there in the dim distant past has been awful.  It takes some doing to muck up a good old English fried breakfast.  I was further turned off from visiting the chain when a food reviewer asked for an omelette and was told that none had arrived yet in the post!

But if we turn off our trunk roads and motorways we can find places that can do much better than sub-standard or average chains and provide real treats to sustain us on our journeys.  If heading down to  South Devon or Cornwall on the A38, can I recommend the five minute diversion through Fore Street,  Bovey Tracey?  Its unassuming fish bar where ownership has recently been taken over by a couple from my old stomping ground in Essex and I reckon it gives Rick Stein's excellent takeaway in Padstow a run for its money at a fraction of the price.  There's a simple menu include fishy favourites as well as salt and pepper squid.  They come served with a posh touch - a tub of freshly prepared tartar source and a wedge of lemon.. And for those who prefer a meaty treat, look no further than the homemade pies, prepped in individual tin trays.  That's got to be better than vacuum packed congealed egg!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Alphabetical Tourist: Australia

It's taken me a long time to reach this destination on my virtual journey because the research has been hard. I'm absolutely astounded by the wealth of information that I know about this country . Honestly - it's on the other side of the world and I'm more informed about it than I am about some of the towns in Devon. Honiton, for example. I know it's famous for lace and antiques but beyond that... je ne sais pas rien as they say in French lessons down under A bit poor considering its only about twenty miles up the road. But Oz - there's weird wildlife I know a plethora of facts about bush tucker, peach melba and fusion cookery, didgeridoos,  Bruces and Sheilas, shipment of convicts, Aboriginal art and how expensive it can be, surfing, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru that isn't the black girl in Star Trek who indulged in the first on-screen inter-racial snog with Captain Kirk, novel slang, cricket, slip slop slap, Neighbours, INXs......... The list goes on and on. I'm even aware that there's a large Italian community there since a friend's latin love rat escaped there after racking up eye watering bills on her credit card.

Photo by Sanjay Ach
Anyway in order to expand my knowledge I firstly decide to see what I didn't know about koalas.  That's when I got diverted by Tingha and Tucker.  But this photo has drawn me back.  Isn't this guy the cutest?  And this is how koalas spend most of their lives.  They're only awake for about five hours of the day and of those three are spent chewing eucalyptus leaves. It looks like God, as an apology, for making this creatures life so mundane tried to make amends.  Male koalas have a bifurcated penis with two ends and yes, females are blessed with two lady gardens each.  You might think that this would make for a plethora of twins but not so.  These are very rare, with the first set being born in captivity only as recently as 1999.

When I got onto exploring Australian art I realised that I didn't know it all at all!  Of course, that adopted English treasure, Rolf, whose paintings are respected in their own right and now sell for mega-bucks.  But in my shameful ignorance I believed that aborginal art was a genre consisting entirely of paintings of dots and lizards.  However, the most famous artist of indigenous origin is Albert Namajira who was classically schooled and a landscape painter extraordinaire.  Sometimes information like this challenges my preconceptions about the habits of others and for someone's who's proud of my liberal stance,  I hang my head in shame.

Did you know you can ski in Australia?  Well clever clogs here did thanks to conversations that I had with a Aussie psychotherapist that I used to work with.  Sally, if you read this I hope life is good!  But of course the nation is famous for its sunny climes.  Slip slop slap was an advertising campaign of the 1980s designed to encourage measures that countered skin cancer.  Slip on a shirt, slop on the sun cream and slap on a hat was the message that caught the attention of an entire nation.   What I hadn't realised was that the message had been extended.  Now people are additionally urged to seek shade and slide on the sunnies.  Whatever next.  Sip to stay sweaty or stay in the snow perhaps?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


As part of 'Tiny Business' I'm buying a few old silver charm bracelets.  Sometimes they have heaps and heaps of little dangly keepsakes  but on resale I only keep about twelve on each. Some of the ones removed are auctioned singly and with others I'll make up new bracelets.  A part of me feels that it is a little sacrilegious to tear apart an old treasure that is a memento of  someone's past, akin to ripping up an old patchwork quilt.  On the other hand it feels as if new owners should have some space to add some of their own treasures and perhaps personalities to these eclectic collections.

It  got me thinking what I'd put on a bracelet if I had one of my own to reflect my likes and interests. So today I've put together a my own bracelet from vintage charms currently  for sale on Ebay.  Let's start with this thrifty squirrel.

I've enjoyed cycling since I was a nipper.  Riding around the country lanes of Essex gave me my first real taste of freedom.  I never learned to mend a tyre and my parents were none too pleased once when I got a puncture and needed rescuing miles from home.

Animal charms are very popular and there's pretty much every beast that you could think of under the sun including the inevitable fluffy kittens and, of course, man's best friend. But me - I love lizards and have used them in arts and craft designs over the years.  This little thumb sized creature caught my eye.

There had to be something that represented the fact that I was a Francophile. But what.  I could find a baguette, beret or string of onions.  In the end I settled for these Can Can dancers.  There's a bonus here in that their legs move up and down.

So what about one that represents my love of the seaside?  I could have chosen from a myriad of fish or boats but instead I opted for this rather wonderful ice cream cone complete with its enamelled 99 flake   It's doubly meaningful in that it represents my favourite food!
Aesthetically I love minis.  From a practicality point of view I've not been so keen since I nearly missed a holiday ferry because Mr Issignonis's design classic had a faulty distributor cap which meant that it prone to break down in wet weather.  This picture also illustrates the fact that these charms are tiny and can be a bugger to photograph clearly.

Now travel is so intrinsic to my life that there has to be some reference to the journeys that I've made.  This Yellowstone geyser charm would be such a brilliant souvenir depicting, as it does,  my absolute favourite place in the world.  I thought I'd have to opt for a more symbolic piece such as a bear or bison.  I never dreamt that there would be a tiny 3D representation of Old Faithful in silver.
It would also be a good idea to have something that would be a frequent reminder of a place in the world where I long to go. It might act as a driver to turn my dream of visiting Easter Island into reality despite the non inconsequential expense of getting to this remote Pacific outpost.

Of course there has to be a motorhome!  I loved the intricacy of this little example which sports its uber-cool pop up roof.  In reality though I like a good own coachbuilt vehicle with a bed above the cab.  No need for mucking about when you pitch camp.  Just park and get the wine out of the fridge!

To celebrate my love of woodland it's quite obvious that this bracelet would need a tree although surprising in charm form they were surprising thin on the ground.  I'm toying with the clever tape measure idea to illustrate my own auction listings.

Of course a crafty chick needs her tools.  There was no vintage toolbox so I had to settle for a singular item.  This adjustable wrench is an absolute masterpiece.  Not sure when I'd use it in a jewellery making context though.

And finally....no Birkin bag or Chanel 2.55 for me.  My bag of choice on many occasions has to be the rucksack.  This little silver pack isn't entirely dissimiliar to the one that houses our picnic set.

And so now..... no pinching my own ideas for nick nacks to grace your own imaginary or real wrist adornment.  Go forth and find your own trinkets that represent the real you!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

No Longer in the Altogether Together

It's not just height, weight, shoe size or indeed arithmetical or reading  abiliy that are indicators to us parents that our children are growing up.  Sometimes it can dawn on us at the strangest times.

This morning after Mr Lovelygrey had gone to work.  I was having a particularly special morning snuggle with Louis whilst supping tea from my current favourite mug, an immense stripey TG Green cornishware one found in a charity shop for £4.50.  Not only do I like its 15 floz capaciousness but the blue and white bands form a ribbed effect which feels nice  when you rub your lip on it.....

.....Anyway.  I was having a nice chat with my super cuddly son when he remembered something.   'I forgot to hug Daddy!' he exclaimed.    'I tried to  give him a cuddle before he went to work but he didn't have any clothes on.  Eww! naked parents!'  So surprising out the mouth of one who, up until a month ago thought nothing of bursting in on us at inopportune bathroom moments without regard for propriety for an innocuous chat!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sofa So Good

Sorry for the dreadful pun but it was as if my fingers were mysteriously forced to type it...Yikes!  Anyway, it's introducing the fact that I'm in the market for a new settee and what a minefield this is.   From a price perspective a new one will cost anywhere from £200 to a few grand.  I'm sure at the upper end you'll get fine quality materials, supreme comfort and bespoke design. But at that lower end and even into the mid-price range I have my doubts about the quality and durability of what you get for your money.  This was reinforced by the fact, that I took a look at a friend's newish sofa yesterday that was bought from a very famous specialist retailer.  I'd give you one guess at who that might be and I'm sure you'd be right!   It was only a year old but was showing signs of more wear than the twenty year old one in our lounge which seemed preposterously expensive when we bought it.

Anything costing a sum that's into three figures, even those beginning with a one or two, that falls apart quickly, even though it seems a bargain on the face of it, is a waste.  It's silly spending and not frugal or thrifty.  With that in mind I'm looking at spending a mid price amount on a quality used piece of furniture and am awaiting a reply on a best offer I've made on Ebay.  I would show you what I'm bidding on but it's so lovely I'm afraid that one of you lot would snap it up if I brought it to wider attention!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Veg Box Tales: Saucy Sprouts

I mentioned this  in my post of Christmas Eve 2010  when I'd prepared it in advance as an accompaniment  to the seasonal roast.  However I've belatedly realised that I didn't give out the recipe at the time.  It's a lovely dish which turns what can be hard boring bullets of greenery into something lush and warming akin to a cauliflower cheese.  But -  this recipe which I believe hails from Jamie Oliver is arguably better and easier too.  It's ideal as a  tasty winter warming supper in its own right.  I've left the amounts of ingredients you need for you to sort out yourselves depending on how many people you're cooking for.  After all you're a sensible lot and I trust you.

Preheat an oven to 190 degrees Celsius.  Prepare Brussel sprouts by cutting off their base and adding an 'X marks the spot' if you must.  Steam them for about fifteen minutes.  Whilst you're doing that chop up and then fry an onion and some bacon.  Grate some strong vintage cheddar if you're British - improvise with any 'blow your socks off' cheese if you're from another nation. Gruyere or parmesan will do nicely but goodness knows how half of my American readers will be able to get what's needed unless they live in Wisconsin!

Once all the stove top cooking is done mix everything together, apart from a bit of cheese, with some seasoned creme fraiche (full fat please!) and pour into a casserole dish.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  Shove it in the oven on a  baking tray to avoid excessive cleaning for 30 minutes.  Serve with plain old bread and butter!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

You Little Tinker Tingha!

I realise that my Alphabetical Tourist slot is long overdue and I started some research today to make amends.   But...I've got distracted sufficiently from my research about Australia to collect enough material  to write about something else,  My post  has a definite Ozzie theme but was in fact is about  a thoroughly British creation.

When I was little I had two koala bears that I think were made out of kangaroo fur. I'm also a bit unclear about how I came to own them but I believe that they had been sent as a present from down under by a distant relative.  Now I loved these bears to bits - literally.  I cried almost inconsolably when a bit of Tinker's plastic foot fell off when I was about seven.  He was the smaller cuter bear,  The other was called Tucker and he didn't have problems with loose digits because his own appendages were make of more study leather.

Now these toys were named after two characters from a TV show.  However,  a previous halfhearted Internet search for their famous counterparts hadn't yielded any results.  I was beginning to believe that they may have been a figment of my overactive imagination.  After all, they'd never come up in our alcohol fueled reminiscence sessions about kid's programmes like the Clangers, Hector's House and Crystal Tips and Alistair that we'd often engaged in during our meaning filled younger adult lives.   But the problem has now been solved.  Tinker should have been Tingha, the name of a town in New South Wales.  Along with Tucker he had his own show, a TV club with a membership pack, salute (right forefinger placed vertically to the nose and the head then bowed), password (Woomerang, Boomerang), motto (Bear in Mind to be Good) and  a President, the plummy pommie presenter,  Jean Morton.  Really I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

One look at YouTube has convinced me that my tastes have changed over the years.  It takes more than the antics of these fluffy creatures, controlled  in traditional  fashion  with the hands of a mystery man under a table up their jacksies to entertain me.  And frankly the recorder playing Willie Wombat  is rightly assigned to history  The more recent CBeebies offering the Koala Brothers is really much more entertaining than watching someone reading bible stories to puppets.   But I'm still pleased to hear that in their time, these bears were enormous stars.  Their club had a membership of 750,000 and  ATV postbags were so inundated with fan mail that their overwhelming popularity was  allegedly  responsible for their demise in 1970.  The 'boys' made an album with covers of Beatles songs and famous guests joined them on the TV show.  Ted Heath, the former prime minister made a guest appearance as an old sailor and cop this clip of a youthful Cliff Richard . My my!

Apparently, according to Wikipedia, the puppets were stolen from storage, never to be recovered.  Whoever nicked them must have been to my childhood home.  For whatever Papa Lovelygrey says to the contrary, I categorically state that my moth eaten pair of koalas  DID NOT leave home with me when I went to university.  They too have disappeared without trace!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Not a Thing to Wear?

I'm having a rare night out this evening for Mr Lovelygrey's 'Christmas' Do at the the uber-eclectic Dartington Hall, home to all sorts of venues including, amongst other things, a upmarket shopping village, a college teaching sustainability and conference facilities.   If you're in the South Devon area it's well worth a wander around the beautiful grounds which are accessible to the public and lovely at all times of the year.  I can vouch for this as I sometimes nip through them on my commute.  Whilst I'm at it I might as well give a plug to the Alzheimer's Society as they run their excellent fortnightly 'Singing for the Brain'  sessions in the Foxhole centre on the estate.

Notw lots of people see this type of shindig as a perfect excuse to shop. But for me, buying something that would probably only be worn less than five times seems like madness. After all I'm not a diplomats wife or cruise fanatic.  So I've ransacked the house and put together my outfit for tonight gratis which is made up of:

  • A burgundy velvet dress that I blogged about in the summer.  As I thought it's turned out to be far more versatile than normal evening wear and often makes an appearance teamed with a chunky jumper.
  • A Howie's cotton mesh slash neck jumper that started life white.  However, I'm a messy pup and this is just not my colour. So it's taken on a new persona and is now navy. Looks v. elegant over the dress
  • A pair of Fat Face floral pump.  I toyed with the idea of my black Crocs clogs but Louis said that they were 'not appropriate'.  Out of the months of babes and all that.
  • Pants of course as I'm not a commando!
  • A necklace made for me by Crafty Tash,  the wife of Mr Lovelygrey's twin.  She's only got buttons and beads in her Folksy shop at the moment but keep looking.  Her polymer clay work is gorgeous and she might be putting some bigger items there soon.
  • My own handcrafted Ship Ahoy bangle.
  • And to top it all - these beautiful Norwegian David Andersen enamelled silver earrings.  They're destined for Ebay too but I might as well wear them and add to their vintage provenance.  And who knows? I might be able to save on listing and commission costs and  flog them tonight!