Sunday 27 June 2021

...mending, making, growing, laughing


A favourite hat 
the moths ate holes in, 
using some scraps from a ball of wool 
the moths ate holes in.

in (mostly) shades of blue, 
hoping to make a dent in the stash.
It's a beautiful, beautiful thing.
But the dent in the stash is almost indiscernible.

...a reversible bucket hat for my Mum,
who saw mine and wanted one of her own.
I don't need asking twice, 
but have arrived at this conclusion: 
attaching circles to cylinders is 
an exercise in patience I'm not anxious to repeat.
(With a fully reversible bucket hat 
imperfection is not an option).
If at first you don't succeed, 
baste, baste, baste.

And finally...
Thanks to my daughter for the back-of-head modelling!
...mask-making is still a thing
for now.

Delicious things in pots -
Salad leaves
(Copper tape and wool pellets
are keeping the slugs at bay)

And... galore,
including a glorious surprise Iris 
from bulbs planted 3-4 years ago
(and long since given-up-on).

At our dear, silly XXSCat dog
running futile rings around a tree
in pursuit of a squirrel.
No matter how fast she ran
the squirrel was always on the other side of the trunk.
Since XXCat dogs  
aren't familiar with pantomime jokes,
the only logical course of action
after three fruitless circuits
 was to commence an intensive search 
of the surrounding area.
Feeling all the while, as though someone was watching...

Saturday 19 June 2021

Seahouses VII

  • Friday - late afternoon - with bare feet in the sand just after high tide. The sea looks greener in June, but the endless sky is still that glorious powder blue.
  • Saturday - a walk along the beach between Seahouses and Bamburgh, collecting sand art images along the way...
...and pausing for a spot of kite-flying. Ice creams in Bamburgh, and then back to Seahouses for a wander round the harbour and some fish and chips.
  • Sunday - up early to walk the XXSCat dog down to the sand dunes, where these extravagantly flamboyant Oriental Poppies had self-seeded in swathes along the roadside...
...then into the car for a pilgrimage to Lindisfarne, with barely a cloud in the sky...
...stopping for an hour at Beadnell beach to have a paddle in the shallows on the way back.
  • Monday morning - we packed up the car, had a final walk along the beach to look for a 'Shell of the Day'...
...and then back through the dunes to the coast road, taking one last lingering look across the fields before heading home. 

Au revoir Seahouses!

Thursday 10 June 2021


  • After the bungled first attempt at a nostalgia-themed birthday T-shirt for my son that featured in my previous post, I had to wait a day or two for a replacement "blank" T-shirt to arrive. In the meantime I decided to have a look through the little collection of my children's art-work I've kept over the years, and came across some tiny paper collages that he made when he was a little boy at primary school. Although they're very faded, you can still see the careful cutting and sticking that went into making them, and I thought they might make quite an apt design for someone who just finished building his own house last year and is still obsessed with power tools! I photographed them on a sheet of yellow card and then added a black border on the computer. I checked and double-checked the positioning of the transfer on the T-shirt, and literally held my breath whilst peeling it off. Thankfully it worked perfectly this time, and the T-shirt went straight in the post for his birthday the following day. "It looks cool", said my eldest son. "Very creative", said the recipient!
  • Next up, an Extra Pocket Bag for my daughter, made from a pair of completely worn-out (but formerly favourite) jeans. I was pleased to be able to incorporate the back pocket, but not so keen on the stretch denim fabric, which kept bunching up in front of the presser foot when I was inserting the zip. I'm pretty sure there's something I could have done about this, but was far too impatient to figure out what, so there was a lot of stopping and starting and tugging instead.
  • We did a couple of long park-walks at the weekend and I had a lovely time squirrel-spotting. They are everywhere at the moment, and it's very amusing to see the XXSCat dog's utter bewilderment when time after time they vanish into thin air behind a tree trunk. She spends ages looking for them, in every direction except up!
  • We're off to Seahouses for three nights this weekend, and if the recent hot weather continues (fingers crossed) then sun-screen and sun-hats will be in order. I can never find hats to fit me properly - a combination of thick hair and a large skull mean they are always either bone-crushingly tight and uncomfortable, or simply won't go on at all. With all the sewing I've been doing this year my DIY confidence levels are pretty high, so I downloaded a free pattern off the internet, sized it up a bit, and made myself a fully reversible "bucket hat"  out of remnants I had in my stash. It actually turned out a little on the big side, but that just makes it feel even more airy and cooling to wear. I love it!
  • Flushed with the success of the hat I also made myself an Extra Pocket Bag out of the remnants of an old pair of jeans  belonging to my husband. They've previously been used for patching other jeans and there is very little of them left now - two lower leg sections, the other back pocket and the button fly, which I feel could come in handy for something I haven't quite thought of yet! I'd been so busy bag-making for other people that it seemed only fair to make one for myself, as I didn't have a zippable everyday version. Since it was only for my use I was 100% lazy - made the wibbly-wobbly top-stitching along the zip into a "design feature" by adding a few more wibbly-wobbly lines of stitching, and didn't even bother with a lining - just zig-zagged the raw edges together on the inside and called it done!
  • I have to include this photo of a perfect rose from my Mum and Dad's garden. It's my absolute favourite colour for a rose - all the gorgeous peachy shades between yellow and pink - simply divine! 

Thursday 3 June 2021


  • One of the benefits of being an aging insomniac is that when you get up at 4:23am (or thereabouts) for a trip to the loo, every so often you will catch a glimpse of the most heavenly sunrise through the landing window. Of course this doesn't make up for the absence of restful slumber, but it definitely helps.
  • The XXSCat dog and I had an early morning walk through the woods last week, after dropping my husband at work. It was like being immersed in a huge Pointillist landscape - just a textured wall of green in every direction. Fabulous! It's only now that I'm looking more closely that I can also see a bear face peering through the leafy curtains in the tree on the left...
  • This week there was an accidental poppy in the front garden. The photo is a little blurry (I had to dash out in the rain to get it) but still worth sharing - because that juxtaposition of vibrant orange and pale purple is just too delicious to keep to myself. I love poppies, and I gather seeds to sprinkle in the front garden whenever I see them, but years go by without any growing. Then suddenly a single poppy will appear as if by magic, like Mr Benn's shopkeeper, and I love it more than I would if I had a whole field full of them. 
  • The latest Extra Pocket Bag is a mixture of hand-printed cotton and velvet. It's really tactile and looks nicely aged, even though it's brand new. I've listed it on eBay to see if it attracts any interest, although I'm not really expecting it to sell. Just trying to figure out a way of funding my hobbies going forwards!
  • Yesterday I experimented with the transfer paper I recently bought for putting photographic images on fabric. It's my son's 31st birthday this week, and I thought it would be nice to give him a T-shirt featuring a painting he did when he was at nursery. I love this painting and have it framed and hanging in my hallway (out of direct sunlight to avoid it yellowing/fading). I started by ordering two plain white T-shirts online - I wanted a spare in case the first attempt wasn't successful - and took the painting out of its frame to get a photo. The transfer paper came with very lengthy, very detailed instructions about how to proceed - e.g. remembering to print a mirrored version of the image onto the transfer paper so it wouldn't be back-to-front on the T-shirt, using a hard surface and not an ironing board, pressing for exactly 3 minutes, peeling the backing paper off straight away for a matt finish, or leaving everything to cool before peeling for a glossy finish.
Unfortunately, when I took the first T-shirt out of its packaging it had a small yellow stain on the front, making it unusable for a gift. This meant everything was riding on my first attempt, as I no longer had a spare. I read the instructions thoroughly again, spent ages positioning the transfer sheet, face-down, precisely in the middle of the T-shirt front, and then set the timer going on my phone and started ironing. I was practically holding my breath after 3 minutes, as I peeled the backing paper off. It was quite sticky and tugged at the fabric a little, but the transfer remained intact. Hooray! 

Sadly, my celebrations were shortlived - although (bizarrely) it did take a full 30 seconds or more for me to realise that the image was upside down, and that in all my careful instruction-following I'd failed to check this most basic aspect of the task! My daughter, who had noticed the problem immediately but waited patiently for the penny to drop, came to the rescue by offering to use it for a pyjama top. I'm currently awaiting delivery of a third and hopefully final T-shirt (having already returned the first). 
  • In the face of adversity, when one has literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, it's important to find something positive to focus on - to lift one's spirits. So I will end with a photo of an inquisitive young squirrel in the greenest of green woods, who posed like a statue for nearly a minute, while I fumbled in my pocket and struggled to open the camera app on my phone, and let me get just one perfect shot before frisking his tail and disappearing into the leafy canopy above. Some you lose, and some you win!