Saturday, 30 April 2011

on a sunny saturday

Look at that summery bag I made, lying in the sunshine on the living room floor.

And just look at that fabulous huge flower perched on the side of it!

A birthday present, and a Most Excellent one at that, from my fabulously talented auntie (who also made my patchwork quilt). What fun!

I've got one on my cardigan, and one on my coat too. A veritable bouquet!

And so, festooned with fabric flowers, we made pancakes this morning.

Some more round and pancake-shaped than others.

And then I spent the afternoon with a friend, ambling along the river, through the woods
and underneath the pylons.

Gosh those things are enormous.

And then things turned a little silly, and I took some photographs of the shower.

Because it's got a hula hoop in it.

Just in case...

Friday, 29 April 2011

birthday fun

Look at those little furry chicks on those tasty cornflake nests!

I just adore their little expressions, the way they all look different, and the way they won't stay put anywhere, but sneak off for little adventures all the time, hurtling themselves with gay abandon from great heights.

Unlike the chicks, which are wheeled out at every opportunity, those cakes didn't last long, and swiftly following on the heels of easter came my birthday.


I love birthdays.

Off we toddled, out in the sunshine, to take in the view.

And a mighty fine one it was too.

I've never travelled up this road before, and on the way down I was mightily wishing I was on a bike not in a car.

Not quite wishing it enough to cycle *up* it, mind you.

Still, I could happily have joined the paragliders soaring about in the sky.

So, here we are, landed squarely at the start of my 32nd year, and wondering what adventures this one will hold. At least I know there's no PhD-related ones - for the first time in 7 years!

We've just started a four day weekend, thanks to the royal wedding, and the spring bank holiday, and there's plenty of plotting and scheming going on about what to do. Bit overcast today, and not much good for photos, but evidence will be produced one way or another...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

hailstones the size of mice

This is the rather tragic, if colourful, aftermath of a bizarre sudden hailstorm that hit us this afternoon, completely out of the blue.

I've never seen anything like it! It was incredible, standing at the window, watching it bouncing off the rooftops.

It was so loud, we could barely talk inside the house, and had to watch, marvelling, as the hailstones battered the strawberry plants, punctured holes in the rhubarb leaves, and ripped the lilac blossoms from the tree.

And then, just as suddenly, it stopped, and the sun came back out, and it seemed as good an excuse as any to don my wellies and get outside to see the damage.

I wasn't the only one taking photos (although I was the only one dressed in bright yellow wellies, bright green skirt, sparkly blue cardi, and a red polka dot scarf - a ludicrous combination that was commented on by a fellow photographer, and I'm convinced he got a sneaky picture of me as I was walking along...)

Strangely enough, I feel a lot more lively after the storm. I think thunder and lightning does that to you sometimes (when it's not scaring you so much that you have to hide under a blanket, that is). I spent much of the day before that lying in the sunshine on the living room floor, and eating cakes at the Women's Institute, so a little bit of energy was welcomed.

I used it wisely - to make chocolate cornflake nests, with chocolate eggs, and little furry chicks perched on the top, of course.

But then it went dark before I could take pictures, so you'll have to wait til tomorrow for that delightful treat (if any of them last that long, that is...)

Friday, 22 April 2011

the art (or not) of self portrait


Can you see me down there (or up there), reflected in the lake? What fun!

It's been ever such a sunny day here, and we've been ambling for several hours down a dapped wooded valley.

Absolutely ideal for experimenting with a spot of self-portrait-ing, which is this week's art of living cheerfully task.

As it turns out, it's more difficult than you'd think to take photos of yourself.

I've finally discovered the timer function on my camera, and now have 10 seconds to position myself in an elegant and artful pose before the lights flash.

Haven't quite mastered it yet though, and plenty of them end up like this...

... or, even better, like this...

(nice socks though)

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that it's best to interpret 'self portrait' to include pictures of *part* of yourself.

And that it's a whole lot easier to take photos of your shadow.

What's even easier than that, of course, is to get someone else to take photos of you.

I know, I know, that doesn't count as 'self portrait', but really, after seeing just how cheerful these pictures were, with my pretending-to-be-a-relaxed-otter pose, I think I might just leave it to the professionals (or at least people other than myself).

I'm absolutely tickled pink with these pictures of me floating in a lake.

(I wasn't actually floating, of course, but standing on the edge being reflected in the water, before you start worrying about my sanity)

I'm exhausted after all that posing!

Good job there's another three days off work really...

we had somewhere else to be

but right at that moment, it seemed more important

to stop at the side of the road and take photographs of dandelion clocks

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

big folk, little trains

Really, is there anything more jolly on a spring afternoon than taking yourself off to an industrial museum and having a ride on a little tiny steam train??


Well, I tell you there is not, particularly when it is coupled with lots of friends, a picnic, face painting, a spot of singing, and plenty of sunshine.

Would you just look at that!

Anyway, a very merry time was had by all (even if it was followed by a cinder-in-the-eye trip to the minor injuries unit).

I'm sure there was something more significant I was going to say today, but I've entirely forgotten it in the excitement of re-living the memories of the weekend.

Long live industrial heritage museums, I say, especially those hidden in tiny little valleys, that sell shortbread in the shape of steam trains, and invite you to sing in their forge.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

digging holes

My lovely friend took this (not very elegant!) picture this afternoon, after a good few hours digging those holes you can see by my feet.

Don't look very big, do they??

Well, they're not. But that's not exactly sand we're digging through there!

And the point of it all? Well, to rescue those most gorgeous, and enormous, ancient paving slabs that you can see lining the path.

Of course, having freed a couple of them after several days hard graft, I've realised that I can't actually lift the things, and have had to draft in a friend with a sling and a winch.

I thought gardening was meant to be all pottering-about-with-a-basket-collecting-flowers? (I did manage some of that too, as you can see).

So what with all that digging, and a late night party in another city, and only 5 hours sleep, I'm exhausted now! But instead of sensibly going to bed early, I've spent the evening dancing round the kitchen in amongst cutting and sticking for the latest daft project, the photo rainbow. This version's heading for the office, so photos when it's there!

Fingers crossed for sunshine tomorrow, I'm digging again...

Sunday, 10 April 2011

making things

What gorgeous weather we've had this weekend!

I've spent a fair old bit of in my wellies in the garden (not that I need wellies in this sunshine, of course, but they make me feel like I'm *working*). I'm still trying to dig up the path to make my beautiful seating area - it's going to be a while before I'm sitting on anything other than an upturned bucket, and I'm having to rope in some help this week, but it's getting there!

Anyway, I took a brief break from all that back breaking work to make myself a cheery little new spring-like bag. The pink and white stripes is an old cotton duvet cover I found in a charity shop. The pink and black material is from a dress I bought second hand ages and ages ago, intending to make into a bag, but then I the bizarre idea that one day I might actually fit into it, so I've kept it.

This weekend I've finally accepted the reality that I'm never going to fit into it, and turned it into a bag.

And I'm rather pleased with it!

This week I've also been making soap again, using Rhonda's soap making tutorial. Sadly, I've broken my sugar thermometer, so had to guess with the temperatures, but as with cooking, I'm learning that stuff generally turns out alright in the end (even if I did have to remelt it and set it again). It's looking good so far.

(those brown bits are lavender flowers, in case you're wondering!). It's the first time I've used silicone moulds, given to me by a friend, and I'm really pleased with the way they worked out, so much easier to get the soap out than the glass dish I generally use!

Lots of thinking and plotting going on here this week, the weeks of learning the art of living cheerfully are rolling by at a rolicking pace, and I don't want to lose any of the opportunity to think about things, so I'm going to make sure I spend time with a notebook this week, planning and scheming.

First up on the plotting list is a weekend away by myself. Possibly at the seaside. What fun!

Friday, 8 April 2011

how can you not love a bookshop with a harpsichord in?

I snuck off for an hour this morning and went to Scrivener's bookshop in Buxton. I've been before, of course, but never fail to be overawed by this place.

When I arrived, a white-haired man in overalls was outside sawing wood. He said hello, asked if I'd been before, and told me he'd pop and switch the lights on in the cellar in case I wanted to head down there to see the Victorian museum. Obviously I did, and meandered through the other four floors as well.

I could have happily moved in.

In fact, the place is so big and rambling that I'm not sure anyone would have noticed if I did.

Missed an opportunity there!

But, oh, how much would I love that to be my living room! (Not that my own living room isn't pretty cheery, but still). I could have spent hours in there, curled up on the sofa in the sunshine, reading and reading, occasionally making myself a cuppa (yes, really), and watching the world go by out of the window.

And up in the music section there's a harpsichord! And a rocking chair.

I'm not entirely sure how they make any money. I tried to buy an old ordnance survey map for £1, and when I told the bloke I wanted it because it 'looked pretty', he raised his eyebrows and gave it to me for free.

So there we are, my new favourite place, and one I'll be heading back to whenever I can.

And really, how could you not love a bookshop with a snogging corner?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

pondering photographs

So. I had a little idea. Partly prompted by being pointed towards this beautiful photograph (which I've happened upon before in my forays around the internet), and partly by being invited to think about inspiration walls as part of the ever-gorgeous art of living cheerfully course.

The thing is, I take a lot of photographs.

Some of them even turn out quite nicely.

In the past year I've been leaning towards photos of colours, quite close up pictures of every day things, fruit, flowers, cakes (of course), tea pots...

and I've been wondering what to do with all these photographs.

And then yesterday I found some photograph paper in a charity shop, and a weekend project was born.

This is where you come in...

Now, you'll have to excuse the quality of these next three photographs. Much as I like clicking away with my camera, I'm no expert, and standing towering over my creations while trying to get enough light on this dingy day but not cast a shadow - well, it doesn't make for a very interesting picture I'm afraid.

So. I printed off my 36 photos, 3x2 inches, and what an absolutely delightful little pile of cheerfulness they made! Gosh, I was skipping with happiness when I'd cut them all out.

In fact, I was tempted just to keep them as a little pile of photos, because they were so charming.

I'm not going to (not this time anyway) - but the question is, what to do with them instead??

First of all I put them all in pairs, moving through the rainbow of colours. I'm thinking this is my favourite actually.

Then I tried them in threes, all squashed together.

I quite like the colourfulness of this one, but don't know whether the individual pictures all get a bit lost...

So I spaced them out a bit, but kept them in threes, which is cool, but I think I kind of prefer the pairs...


Then I got to thinking, maybe I should just have little individual colour cards.

I'm quite taken with that idea too.

And then I started thinking about what on earth I was going to *do* with whatever-I-ended-up-with...

... until Peter pointed out that creativity comes first, and you deal with the practicalities later.

Right ho.

So. What I've got now is a pile of delightful mini photographs in the middle of the kitchen floor, ready and waiting to be turned into something fabulous, just as soon as I figure out what that fabulous something is.

And would you look at that? The sun's come out, so I think shoes on and out for a walk first.

I love sundays.

Friday, 1 April 2011

chickens and photographs

It's been a strange old week, weather and mood both dull and grey, and not much to take pictures of really.

But all that's about to change - I am meant to be learning the art of living cheerfully after all!

So, an evening walk today, and we spied this cheery chicken just up the road, handy for popping in to see every now and again. I do like chickens, and feel a special affinity with them since we looked after a few for a friend over Christmas. This one, with its beady eye, and cheerful curiosity, cheered me right up.

This evening I've mostly spent going through my old photographs (over 17,000 of them would you believe - goodness!) I'm feeling in need of some crafty achievement, and since one of this week's cheerful suggestions was to think about inspiration boards, that's exactly what I've been doing.

In fact, I've been hatching a bit of a plan for a weekend project.

Not going to tell you what it is just yet though... But hopefully it'll be done by the end of the weekend!

Lastly, and because I'd very much like to end on a cheerful note this evening, I spied this gorgeous lemony scooter on our street this afternoon.

How much would I love to have one of these?? Oh, very much indeed. One day, we'll see... Lemon yellow, two seats, whizzing off for a picnic, I can just imagine...

So, I shan't be abandoning this poor little blog for an entire week this time! I'm planning lots of crafty goodness over the weekend, with plenty of photos, so do pop back and see what I've been up to!