NEW BLOG!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!

Hope this finds you all festive and well.

Sorry I’ve been away so long…I knew the day would come and I guess it came. Time and life took over – as it does…although I do really enjoy nipping back every now and again to have a good read of all of your delicious blogs!

A lot has happened this year – the main things being that I turned 40 and I got engaged! New friends have arrived and some old ones have fled the friend-ship. The beau has been working hard on his MA too – the dissertation for which has just been handed in! So it’s all been go, go go!

This coming year, however, I have decided to turn my attention instead to a new blog – strictly concerned with just photo’s of those two famous pussies of mine: Misty & Merlin! I’ve always always enjoyed taking photos – and with having two feline models on hand, have decided to post some of my favourite ones – from the past & present (and indeed future) – for all of you to see.

You can find the link here: http://mistymerlin.wordpress.com

mistymerlin billboard

Please take a look whenever you’re passing – and feel free to write and say hello!

Much love and best wishes for 2014!

Houdini

…17 DAYS & COUNTING…

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Just 17 days left of being thirty-something!

Where oh where HAVE my 30s gone!? Anyhow, I plan to celebrate this milestone in style (well as much as possible anyhow).

I’m off to Paris for my actual 40th birthday weekend (excitedly it falls on a Saturday!) There are 8 of us going for four days – my partner and 6 close friends – and we’ve hired an apartment in the Bastille area of the capital. We did find a beautiful one on the side of the River Seine with a balcony that had a complete view of the Eiffel Tower – but sadly they wanted a minimum of 7 nights. So, even though the apartment we’ve chosen isn’t exactly what I wanted, I do love it…and it will do nicely as we’ll all be together. Want a little peek?

paris apartment

If anyone knows of any great places to visit or things to do in Paris then please let me know. Madeleine, if you happen to see this, I wanted to pick your brains about the whereabouts of the Parisian flea-markets ;-)

On my return I have a bit of time off work – so we’ll end up going somewhere else for a few days (we’re thinking of Edinburgh) plus I have a 40th birthday party organised! 70 friends are descending to a lovely local venue – with a theme of the Oscars. This is a mock copy of the invite courtesy of the lovely Trishia over at FrenchKissed (don’t worry we didn’t go for this date or venue in the end!)

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The venue we chose is a beautiful 19th century building yet is newly refurbished inside – with a baby grand piano too :-) We have a backdrop all sorted for taking spectacular photographs of the well-dressed guests – and there are other Oscar themed offerings all night too – including awards, Oscar shaped chocolates and Hollywood confetti. Hopefully it’ll be a laugh – with friends from all parts of my life under one roof!

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I’ll take lots of photographs – and promise to share some of them with you ;-) I can’t wait…

PREPARATION FOR CHRISTMAS

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These last 6 weeks have been pretty manic.

There have been work issues which have needed resolving. It was a worrying time – but things appeared to have sorted themselves out – mostly.

Also within my teaching role I had an observation – which always requires lots of extra preparation at an already busy time! Compiled folders, schemes of work, lesson plans, resources – and a good grade later – I was pleased to finally have some time to start preparing for Christmas.

Some new little festive gifts for around the house appeared to be in order! Some Christmas bunting, some new decorations, this very cute advent calendar for the door – and another for the cats – and what every home needs: a tweed reindeer! ;-)
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We had our annual ‘bottle & bauble’ party – which about 25 friends attended. So, of course, before this, we had to buy and decorate the tree – it took us all evening but looked lovely when it was finished.

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New lights were bought for the tree and for around the fireplace mirror (although I still think it looks a little bit like a ‘lady of the night’ boudoir!) LOL. Much mulled wine was drunk and candlelight continually filled the house.

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Many Christmas markets were attended – and presents bought. I appear to spend more and more each year – so decided that I would also treat myself to a couple of things with the money my mum and dad sent for Christmas. (Have you heard me?…pretending that I never treat myself to anything!!) I bought this gorgeous Victorian framed portrait for above the piano – and this stunning (and very heavy) 3 ft tall church statue of Mary and baby Jesus. My love for religious icons resurfacing yet again!

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As the days to Christmas have counted down – we’ve caught up with friends and attended parties – and now on Christmas Eve, here I sit – with another two parties ahead, presents to deliver and cleaning to be done! We have the in-laws this Christmas before heading down south to my own family.

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So, all that’s left to do is wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas full of love, light & laughter. Best Wishes for the coming New Year – see you around very soon xx

HOUDINI IMAGES

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Where DOES the time go!!!??

Despite having literally hundreds of postcards crying out to be utilised, photoshopped and transformed – I seem to have lost a little bit of passion for my Houdini Card shop over at Etsy. I’ve only had a few sales this year and so have wondered several times whether or not to completely close the shop – and return to making cards simply for myself (which is how I originally started!)

I’ve also got some postcards which I believe would be great within scrapbooks or as images on invitations – but not necessarily on a greeting card as such. I decided to look into opening another Etsy shop to showcase these images for people to see and potentially purchase. I sought words of wisdom from Trishia, Queen of Digital Scans herself on Etsy & Zibbet – who gave me some advice and some excellent food for thought.

And from here…Houdini Images was born!

I only have 6 digital images listed for sale so far – (see below) but intend to add plenty more, as and when I have time. It does take lots of time to scan, photoshop, enhance, describe and then list an item for sale; but the good thing about the scans are that they are really easy to relist…with all of the hard work and ‘blurb’ already researched and complete!

I like images that are a little bit different – and that are flexible in their use. I believe that quite a few of the images above would work well within fancy dress or hen party invites or ‘save the date’ correspondence.

Please let me know what you think to the images and my shop which you can see HERE – and I am always open to constructive criticism and words of advice.

Lovely to see you all again x

TO NORFOLK

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The beginning of August saw us, if you remember that far back, with the mother-in-law and a visit to the Saltburn Yarn-bombers. Just the following week it was the turn of my own mother to go away for a few days; it’s her birthday at this time and so we usually take her away somewhere to celebrate. This is her 77th birthday and this year she wanted to go to the seaside – and so I organised a trip to the Norfolk coast. I hadn’t been for years and it was somewhere I also wanted to visit again.

We started off in Southwold and stayed the night in a lovely little B&B a few miles away. The pier was really cute and we had the best fish & chips ever whilst staring out to sea!

From here we drove up the coast, taking in various picturesque villages and other seaside towns before reaching Cromer.  We’d booked an inn on the edge of town which had a balcony view of the beach and sea below. Mum’s room was particularly spacious (apparently it is usually kept for any honeymoon couples!) and ours had a very cute (but small) turret which also had a wonderful sea-view.

I really loved Cromer – it had a pier, cute shops, beautiful buildings – and felt very friendly. Despite being the height of Summer it also didn’t feel over crowded (unlike some of the other nearby resorts).

My sister was also staying nearby on holiday so she travelled to see us for the evening. It was particularly great to catch up with my two nephews and niece – who are oh so cute! Want to see?

We did travel around the countryside – and took in quite a few new places – before sadly returning home…but not before calling in at the grave of my Great-Uncle Sonny who (ironically) is buried in Cromer. I was throughly impressed by Norfolk, its cute churches, windmills and hideaways and I can completely understand why they’ve started saying that Norfolk is the ‘new’ Cornwall!

We will be returning…

HELLO AGAIN!

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Just a quick stop by to say hello – and to say I haven’t forgotten you all and that I do plan to be back! I had only planned to have a few weeks off ‘the blog’ during the summer – but life kinda took hold…time passed…and look, it’s the middle of September already!!

Nothing too exciting has happened – but I have a few photos I’d like to share with you of some of my summer travels (around the UK) – so I’ll start putting them on here very soon.

Thanks also for the messages of concern – which I found very sweet. I’m fine – and am particularly looking forward to having a good nosey all around your blogs – to catch up on what I’ve missed these last 6 weeks!  Until then, I’m going to leave you with the most recent photograph of Misty & Merlin that I took, on the very rare occasion when they were not chasing each other around the house and scrapping!

THE SALTBURN YARNBOMBERS

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My Mother-In-Law is currently visiting for a few days – so we decided to take her to the coast for some fresh sea air – and some fresh fish & chips! My partner and I have a little route that we like to visit along the East coast which starts in Saltburn By The Sea before working our way down to Runswick Bay and Sandsend – before finally reaching Whitby.

The weather stayed dry and the whole day was enjoyable; Runswick Bay holds a special place for my beau and I – so we always particular enjoy visiting there. However, one of the highlights was our visit to Saltburn, where we witnessed a mystery that has taken over the local community and media these last few months. ‘Guerilla knitters’ known locally as the ‘Saltburn Yarnbombers’ have taken over the seaside town, leaving knitted figures and relevant paraphernalia on Saltburn’s landmarks in the dead of night!

At first, knitted books appeared outside the library; then a tray of knitted cakes materialised outside of the cake shop. No one knew who was responsible! More recently there has been a 50 metre long knitted celebration of the olympics – with woollen athletes, swimmers and gymnasts, complete with gold medals, adorning the pier railings.

Still no one has came forward.

Now, regal figures have appeared on the cliff railings in celebration of the Queen’s diamond jubilee – and the story has gone national. Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip all feature within the royal display – which, whilst still present (and seen on our visit), had been slightly vandalised by both the extreme weather conditions and by visiting souvenir hunters! Want to see?

Isn’t it all very cute!!

Still no one knows who is responsible – but whoever it is / they are, it must have taken them hours! They surely must be smiling to themselves, knowing the interest it has created, both within and for the small seaside town. I also hope they have some awareness of the continuing pleasure it has brought to people around and about the region. Tens of people lined up to take photographs, whilst both the young and the old stood around exclaiming their delight at the latest woolly instalment.

Long may they yarn-bomb!

THE DAY I MET THE QUEEN

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…ok, now I have your attention, this blog title isn’t strictly true! I didn’t actually ‘meet’ the Queen…in person…but I did ‘see’ her…through a window!!

I drove into work and wondered why there were steel railings everywhere! Did they know I was coming??? ;-) The village, Saltaire, hosts various festivals of food, drink, art and scrumptious vintage-ness over the year…and so I presumed it was something to do with one of these.

I was still none the wiser until one of my work colleagues bounded in, expressing her excitement of the Queen visiting! I only work here two days a week now – and so the news of the royal visit had not reached my ears, hence why I was completely oblivious.

Colleagues piled out onto the soon crowded streets – and due to the amount of work I had to do, I decided to stay at my desk – and instead, planned to peer out of the window as the cheers announced the Queen’s arrival. Now, our office windows are huge and you can indeed stand up fully in them – and as they are a great deal higher than street level, knew I’d have this perfect position all to myself to view the passing spectacle.

The Queen had been to Leeds and was going for lunch at the building opposite where I work. Thankfully I had my camera in my bag and so managed to snap some photographs on her journey past my office window.

Colleagues had been disappointed that they hadn’t been able to get such good shots – so maybe it had been a good idea to stay inside after all!? I was also around on her return journey past the window two hours later…so I snapped a few more then too!

I’m not the biggest royalist – but I’m definitely not anti the ‘immediate’ royal family in anyway. I particularly love their history and all of the pomp and circumstance that’s involved with their special occasions and celebrations; and despite what people may think, I don’t know many other 86 year old ladies participating in non-stop engagements up and down the country…and not even a bingo ball in sight!!

CLOCKS OF THE HEART

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I’ve always loved clocks. The universal passing of time – mixed in with their individual musical chime – along with their decorative faces, hands and features…just does something for me!

It’s no surprise then that my favourite possession after my piano (bought by my wonderful mum when I was a child) is my grandfather clock – another bargain find on eBay of all places! This one dates from 1836 and hosts a beautifully decorated and painted dial face and surround. Isn’t it stunning!

You’d think that I would be wholly satisfied with such a humongous piece of furniture and time apparel – especially as I have other clocks around and about…and realistically how many clocks does one house need!? But, in fact, if I could, I’d have a whole house full of grandfather clocks!!!

I also seem to have developed a new ‘fetish’ for clock faces – although have only purchased 4 so far! I think they look great hung on the wall just as they are – or propped strategically against something to add a bit of colour and character! Want to see them?

What do you think? I had thought about giving one or two of them away as presents to people – but how on earth do I decide which ones to keep!!?? Precisely!…which is why I know I’ll probably end up keeping them all and finding homes for them around the house. That is until I buy my next one…!!

THE STONE QUEEN

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Since moving to this house, gardening has become the ultimate hobby for me. I seem to be outside for hours – and continually return to the house caked in dried soil!

It hasn’t always been like this. As a child, we use to have to help my dad in the garden to earn our pocket money. My dad was never the most patient of men and his short temper coupled with the fact I hated getting dirty (whereas my sisters didn’t mind) seemed to infuriate him even more! I spent hours longingly looking at the warm lights shining inside the house, thinking of various excuses of how I could get back inside. Often it would go something like this:

Dad: ‘Where you sloping off to?’ Me: ‘Erm…I’m going to make us a cup of tea?’ Dad: “Hmm ok that’d be nice. Be quick!’

Of course, I’d never return with said tea or indeed the required garden enthusiasm – only to be greeted later by an irate father demanding to know what had happened to me. My reply usually went something like this:

‘You seem to forget dad that I am a pianist. Not only do I have to take care of my hands…but also I had to come inside to do some practice. That exam isn’t going to pass itself you know!!’

I inherited my musical talents from his late father (who had died 25 years before I was born) so the mention of a new potential musical virtuoso in the family usually spared me my life!

I did enjoy helping my sisters in their gardens – and over the years I have continued helping and learning many things from my parents – so it’s been nice, finally, to have the chance to utilise this interest and knowledge within my own patch.

I’ve enjoyed making my own hanging baskets and planters whilst building up the borders with depth and colour; I intend to share a few photographs of these another time. But for this post, I wanted to share some of the statues that I have in the garden which I believe also gives character and identity. I adore these little beauties peering out from amongst the flowers.

I’ve recently also sourced two new statues – and whilst liking them a lot, weren’t completely sure how well they would fit into the ambience of the garden. My other statues were more subtle, elegant, antique…whereas these new statues were decidedly more mythical, regal and detailed!

I decided that the garden had to become like the house – a mish-mash of themes that whilst slightly conflicting, overall complimented each other to create a generic style. Even my beau liked them…so needless to say we bought them!

Want to see…?

I love the story and drama of an object – so these fit perfectly into that category. They sit proudly either side of the French doors, in and amongst the other greenery. I do love them even though they were’t exactly what I had in mind when I originally thought about buying some new statues.

What do you think?

FANTASY ALBUM #1

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I think most followers know that Kate Bush has to be my all time favourite artist. She reminds me of my childhood, is an important link to my sister (who was also a massive fan) – plus Kate was a great influence on my own musicality whilst growing up. I love her quirky-ness, her unusual voice, her flowing dresses, her red crimped hair (well, the Lionheart look anyhow) and her ability to not only song-write, but also to produce her own albums without compromise and through adversity from the record company.

She has recorded a total of 11 albums – only one of which was a greatest hits collection – and that was released over 25 years ago itself. Despite two albums being released within the last 12 months – I think it’s time to remaster and re-release a brand new ‘Best Of’.

It isn’t going to happen of course – simple as. Kate has supposedly commented that she doesn’t like to re-visit old work (despite her recent attempt at re-recording old tunes through ‘The Director’s Cut’) and so sadly, her old masterpieces sit, waiting and un-remastered. So many CDs are being re-released with extra tracks, bonus DVDs and re-packaged artwork – but not Kate’s!!!

So, instead I have designed my own best of compilation (too much time on my hands springs to mind…or is it procrastination!!) including everything from selecting its track listing right down to designing its artwork. This is what I want to see released in the shops just in time for Christmas (I’ve also designed a 2 CD version for the die-hard fans and collectors) ….so Kate, if you’re reading this (!!!) let’s make it happen! ;-)

BYE BYE BLACKBIRD

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I thought I’d fill you in with the latest (of what I know) on the little baby blackbird.

I continued my daily regime of taking a single photograph of the nestling – and you can see on the two pictures below (Day 7 & Day 8) how much it has grown and developed into something a lot more recognisable with feathers!


Bigger birds (including magpies) could be seen around and I was often infuriated to see that momma blackbird would leave the nest for long periods of time! I know that she had to find more substantial food, but she appeared to often ignore the fresh worms and other sources of food that I would leave next to her nest or nearby in the garden for her to see. Maybe she had the taste for something more insect like instead!

I kept watch as best as I could.

On day 9 I managed to take a few shots of them together in the nest…how cute are these!!

…as well as a causal solo shot of the little one taken on one of momma’s food hunts…

All seemed well. But on my rise the following morning I was greeted with this sight…

…all I can hope is that at 10 days old, momma thought it was time to fledge the nest – away from magpies and nosey photographers! There didn’t seem undue distress to the nest or anything – so I’m hoping that they weren’t attacked in any way by other birds or local wildlife. I have seen several blackbirds flying around the garden still – and they seem to be in and out of the hedge (did they move there instead I wonder?) although there has been no sign of the fledgling.

All I wish is that it survived…but nature is nature and despite enjoying my recent David Attenborough watch (and whisper), I have to make peace with the fact that nature will always have its way.

Wherever you are…bye bye blackbird.

FULLHOUSE

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Last Monday saw the first anniversary of us getting the keys to our new house! Hasn’t that year flown…although, at times, it also seems like we’ve always been here!

It was the Bank Holiday weekend last year that we signed and collected the keys to our new home. Excited, we opened the door to this empty house…

We were so enraptured with the place, that we started moving straight away – and never stayed another night in our old flat. We brought the mattress over with the help of a friend and kipped on the bedroom floor; allowing, the next morning, the flood of light to enter the four huge windows (that take up the entire wall of the main bedroom) and envelop us on the floor.

It took us a month to fully move everything – van and car load…after load…it seemed never ending! The piano was the hardest – and 6 wonderful friends and family helped with its nerve-racking move from a third floor attic flat into its new home. Piece by piece the house took shape…and within a matter of weeks became the home that it is today.

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