Monday, 30 August 2010


The garden's had a little remodelling today...

It rather took me by surprise somewhat, I'm more used to dithering than action when it comes to big steps like this! But it's done now, and there's great plans for the little space - not to say quite a bit more space and light in the rest of the garden (and the house!)

Hmm, that also appears to be a rather large pile of tree to get rid of too...

Sunday, 29 August 2010

weekend adventures

You know when you just fancy a day out? Not for any good reason, and not to anywhere in particular, but just the thought of heading out on a Small Cheery Expedition seems like the right thing to do?

Today was one of those days.

The plan was to head to Bakewell to a little open gardens event. I quite fancied noseying around some pretty gardens and eating tea and cake in the refreshments tent. First of all though I wanted to go to Chatsworth.

Now, I don't have a big thing for posh old houses, certainly not ones that cost £12 to get in to. I would have quite liked to toddle round the kitchen gardens, but that would have involved paying to get into all of the gardens, and given that I was off to a different gardens event, that seemed a bit daft. No, I went to Chatsworth to look around the shops.

A little bit daft, yes, but every time I've been there I've oooohed and aaarrrrrred over lots of things, then come to the conclusion I could have a go at making something similar myself. So today I wasn't on a shopping mission, I was on an investigating mission, for a little bit of inspiration.

I must say though, I wasn't quite as impressed today as I have been in the past. Which possibly had something to do with having to drive around and around and around the car park for 15 minutes before I even got as far as the shop. Hmm.

I did get myself a small treat though - one sheet of red polka dot wrapping paper. Look at it there tied up with string!

Oh, and that ice cream at the top of the post, of course. Can't forget about that. Bradwell's ice cream, butterscotch ripple, with a fudge stick, no less. I see from their website that they have a Diploma from the Ice Cream Alliance, so they must be good :)

(I'm conveniently skipping over the fact that I only had the ice cream because the battery warning light on our new car started flashing and I was busy being grumpy and annoyed because we've only had the car for three weeks when I realised I'd pulled over right outside an ice cream shop)

Oh, and I didn't get to the secret gardens event in the end at all! I got so caught up with ice creams and wrapping paper and Peak District bank holiday traffic that I couldn't face doing battle with the car park. At least i was on my own, and had nobody to tell me off for being fickle and changing my plans at the last minute....

Anyway, leaving aside tasty ice creams and wayward vehicles, I've realised I haven't yet shown off my new cardigan!
By the time I got round to taking photos though it had gone all rainy and grey again, and this is the only one that turned out anywhere near good enough. So a proper unveiling will have to wait for another day. I'm rather enjoying it though, even if the sleeves are a little bit short...

Friday, 27 August 2010

for today...

Outside my window... the sun's trying to sneak through the clouds

I am thinking... about reassessing my priorities and where I put my time and energy

I am thankful for... a positive hospital visit today and a body that seems to be righting itself without medication

From the learning rooms... a fog of despair and a mind full of drudgery (oh dear!)

From the kitchen... pancakes, mostly!

I am wearing... new red and white stripey pumps, a black-and-yellow-and-pink-and-green-and-red-and-white swirly skirt, and my new kingfisher green cardigan!!!

I am creating... a present for a friend for no particular reason

I am going... upstairs to the attic to work on a chapter, just as soon as I've finished this cup of tea.

I am reading... books about doing qualitative research, and wondering why on earth I didn't read them several years ago

I am hoping... to get all this writing done before Christmas. Fingers crossed, oh, I'm hoping so much on this one!

I am hearing... Peter curled up on the sofa with a lemsip watching a film in the next room

Around the house... washing that needs doing, floors that need sweeping, piles of things that need to be somewhere else....

One of my favorite things... a nice cup of tea, of course

A few plans for the rest of the week... Saturday morning tea-and-cake at the Women's Institute, more writing, blackberry picking, a little tidying and rearranging, taming the unruly garden, a visit to the library, and an evening in alone with the sewing machine

More from the simple women's daybook here

Sunday, 22 August 2010


Guess where I went yesterday? That's right, a wedding. It's something I do none too often these days, and I must say I'm generally not a big fan of weddings, but this one really was something special.

Anything that involves a picnic up on a hillside, a quiet simple ceremony under a tree, beautiful vows to listen to each other, and be present with each other, a most excellent selection of food, and cakes (and rings!) made by the bride and groom themselves.

And plenty of tea, of course, because you can't have a picnic without a flask of tea.

I'm exhausted today, but there's plenty to be done, and the sun's shining, so everything seems more possible somehow. There's cards to be made today, and knitting to do (it's Sooooooooo nearly finished!), and a party to toddle off to later.

Is it toooooooo crazy to want to wear my cardi to the party?? I'm leaving at 7pm, so that gives me, er, four and a half hours.

Perhaps if I abandoned the washing? And the cleaning? And the work?? I might just be able to squeeze it in then....

Friday, 20 August 2010


I love stamping. It's not something I do all the time, in fact we have one stamp in our house - a hamster - which gets stamped on every to do list or shopping list that passes the kitchen table.

So for Peter's birthday I decided we, oops, sorry, that should be he, needed another one.

And what better than a hedgehog? I do like hedgehogs.

We sometimes draw little pictures of hedgehogs on to do lists, old envelopes, shopping lists (I'm sure you're getting a very bizarre impression of our lists!), and I searched and searched for somewhere I could maybe upload one of our little drawings and have it turned into a stamp.

But I didn't find anything cheery enough, so I took pencil (and screwdriver, and craft knife, and kitchen knife, and lots of other highly dangerous implements) in hand, and made one myself.

And isn't he cheery?? We're having lots of fun stamping hedgehogs on things. Because what's more fun than stamping? Hedgehog stamping, that's what!

(I'm not going to give any kind of instructions, because I kind of just botched it in what might be described as a slightly dangerous fashion, and wouldn't want to be responsible for encouraging anyone else to do themselves a mischief. There's plenty of tutorials out there for making your own stamps though - some of which I probably should have read before starting mine...)

Sunday, 15 August 2010


Ooh, more lovely flowers and herbs from the garden. What can you see? Fuchsia, rocket, basil mint, spearmint, acer, St John's wort, herb Robert, and various other things that I don't recognise. How lovely.

So, after the excitement of the week's birthday celebrations, it's been a fairly mellow weekend. I've been writing, and writing, and tearing my hair out, and writing some more, but we won't talk about that, oh no, let's talk about cheery things instead.

Like bunting, Cheerful Orange Campervan Bunting, to be precise. Because at the market on Thursday, I found this material, and it was just crying out to be made into bunting, and I know someone who has the Most Gorgeous orange VW camper van, and who will very much enjoy receiving some surprise bunting in the post.

Just *how* difficult is it to take pictures of bunting?? I only ever seem to be able to do it dropped in a pile on the floor. Shall we call it an artistic pile?? Yes, why not.

And while I'm feeling artistic, here's another entirely unnecessary frivolous project I've started this weekend. This is the little draw I keep my seed packets in.

You can't quite see, but it says Cheery Seeds on the front, so you know what's in there. And inspired by a friend who's covering an entire table in pictures of flowers, I thought it needed a few vegetables stuck on it.

So here we are, half way through, because I didn't quite finish sticking the bits on and then got distracted doing something else. But that's ok, because now I can look forward to finishing it later in the week!

And what I got distracted by was, er, ferreting around in the compost bin.

Yep, digging in the compost bin, trying to see if there was actually any compost in there - which there was! I don't know why I was surprised. I didn't actually manage to dig any of it out, and I really *must* learn to crush up my eggshells a bit smaller, and *not* put whole cardboard egg boxes in there...

Anyway, look carefully at that bit of the garden, just in front of the front-door-that-we-don't-use. It's in for a bit of a makeover in the next few months. I must confess to *not* enjoying that tree very much at all, and since we don't use the front door at all, there's no point having a path to it from the pavement. So there's plans afoot, and oh how I love Plotting and Planning! And this Plotting and Planning is going to other people, possibly even *paying* other people (shocking!), and eventually, hopefully, a little table and chairs for breakfast, and picnics, and tea and cake, and evening eating and entertaining out in the garden. Can't wait!

Friday, 13 August 2010

birthday day out

Hello down there! Or up there. Can you see me in the foyer of the cinema, staring into the ceiling? What fun!

That's where we ended up at the end of our birthday day out yesterday. And where is it? Chesterfield, that's where!

Home of the famous crooked spire, a rather large flea market, and a cheery farmers' market.

Oh, and a whole load of rain. Lots of rain.

Although the sun did make an occasional appearance.

Ah well, we still managed to buy some fabric, and have a nice picnic under a tree. Tea-from-a-flask really is the best, isn't it? Well, if you're not going on taste, that is, but you can't beat it for sheer cheeriness I don't think.

Do you like my apple cake? It was extremely tasty, even better under a tree in the rain.

And do you recognise that skirt??

Thursday, 12 August 2010

cars and birthdays

Helloooooooo! Goodness me, it's been a while. Things just move too fast round here sometimes. I do apologise for not popping in sooner, it is nice to have a sit down in this little cheery space!

So, what's been going on? Well, lots of walking in the park watching the sun set, of course.

And work, and writing, and general housey-gardeny activities that take up the summer days. And then there's the small matter of buying a new car - not at all an exciting activity in itself, but rather a time consuming one when you've got a small budget and a loooooong list of requirements...

Anyway, last weekend we took a small trip up to Huddersfield. Two trips, in fact, because there had to be a bit of Deciding going on in the middle. Fortunately, there were plenty of ducks nearby, and a rather jolly ice cream shop.

Anyway, it all worked out for the best in the end, and we got our new car, which is settling in nicely. It doesn't feel quite as friendly as the Old Van yet, but it's getting there. We've removed the seats, and had our very first cup of tea sitting in the back.

You see, this is going to be a Cheery Holiday Van. We used to camp out in the old one, but we never quite turned it into a proper camper, because it was damp, and the back door didn't open, and there was lots of clambering, and we never quite got round to it. But there's Great Plans for this one, and lots of measuring and sawing and sewing going on, very exciting!

Anyway, so after all that excitement, a cup of tea and a hot cross bun was needed, along with an incredibly old issue of Country Living magazine, which I have not much interest in reading, but I do like looking at the pictures, and anyway, it was free...

And do you see that knitting?? I'm half way down the second sleeve and seem to have run out of steam!! I'm not entirely sure I was gifted with enough patience for multi-needle knitting... But I WILL finish it!

After lots of deep breaths, phone calls to insurance companies, cups of tea, hot cross buns, and general running around then calming down, a nice cheery run out in the new car was exactly what was needed. You can't quite see the scenery properly in this picture, but it really was beautiful. And I'm sure the sheep thought so too. So today is Peter's birthday, so there's going to be lots of Cheerful Birthday Activities. Not entirely sure what yet - tea, I imagine, cakes, presents, of course... Fingers crossed for sunshine!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

afternoon tea

Well, it's Sunday afternoon and I just fancied a cake. And some strawberries. And tea-in-a-teapot.

So that's exactly what we had. And very nice it was too. I don't normally bother with a recipe for sponge cake, but we've been talking about the old Be-Ro recipe book here recently, and there's a recipe in it for a sponge cake without butter, just 2 eggs, 3oz sugar, and 3oz self raising flour.

Surprisingly, it does actually turn into a cake! (I must confess to being a little doubtful...). But the verdict seems to be that it's a little on the dry side, and would be better with jam in the middle. Or custard. Or ice cream. Or, as my auntie (who made her own version the other day) put it - it's a 'with something' cake. Definitely.

But still, it was very nice, and perfectly acceptable for Sunday Afternoon Tea with a few strawberries.

Would you like to see the little cheery bargains I got from the charity shop yesterday? 49p each, and they seem to have been hand painted, maybe by a child and parent?

Yep, handpainted glass jars, one with flowers and caterpillars on (with stuck on googly eyes!), and the other an underwater scene with lots of stripey fish. They're living out in the garden at the minute, as I'm trying make a few litle special secret places out there, with little colourful whimsical things to happen across, and these seemed just right.

They also came with lids, so I've put a tea light in each, and popped the lid on to keep the rain out, and now we just need a nice warm evening so I can sit out there and light the little candles and have a nice glass of something tasty.