the fam

the fam

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Seaside Special: Mablethorpe & the Plague of Ladybirds

Last weekend we awoke to a rare sight.....the sun was shining!! Since this has been a very rare occurence this Summer, we packed a picnic and headed to the coast. We chose Mablethorpe since it was definitely a 'beach' day - the weather was glorious and we couldn't wait to unpack the car (sun tent, windbreaks, buckets & spades...)
beautiful beach
As we arrived at the seaside car park, we noticed that the sky seemed to be filled with insects. There were millions of ladybirds everywhere! I hadn't seen this many since the blistering Summer of 1976, when I was 5 and collected jam jars full of ladybirds at my Grandparents house! They covered the car and when we got out, they covered us too!! 
one of many ladybirds!
Thankfully though, the minibeasts didn't spoil the day. The afternoon was scorching hot and we even had a dip in the sea.
wave jumping
Baby Charlie slept in the sun tent and Alfie had a whale of a time splashing around in the waves and making sandcastles.
Mablethorpe beach is a brilliant place to take the kids - miles of golden sand, cafe and toilets nearby (very important on days out!) and a sand train. 
The Sand Train
We finished the day with a round of Pirate Crazy Golf and a fish and chip supper. A grand day out!
Pirate Crazy Golf
Getting cold..Daddy's top is on the large side!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Riot Raffle : Giving Back To The Community

Like so many, I was shocked and appalled at the sheer level of violence and mindless vandalism during the recent riots in our major cities. I could not believe the selfish attitude of the rioters...this was not a revolution, this was opportunism and instant self-gratification. Stealing flat-screen TVs and trainers was not a was greed. There have been many excuses for the behaviour of the mainly teenage rioters...poverty & boredom being the main reasons. This actually makes me feel very angry. I grew up on a Council Estate and we had very little in terms of material goods. My Dad went out to work to pay the bills and my mum stayed at home to look after us. My mum made our clothes and we had to walk everywhere, but we were happy. Just because you are poor, doesn't mean you go and burn down someone else's home or have respect for others in the same situation as yourself. Something these rioters seem to have forgotten...they've ruined their own communities.

So when we heard that one of our twitter 'friends' was organising a raffle for those affected, we decided we'd like to help. We weren't able to join the wonderful Riot Cleanup group who did such a fantastic job so this seemed a good way to give something back and to show our support.
we are donating a mirror to the raffle
Zoe's idea of a Riot Raffle was brilliant. If the arts & crafts community could donate prizes, the money raised would help others with small businesses in association with the Retail Trust and hopefully go some way to rebuilding people's lives and livelihoods.

So far, the response has been amazing - over 80 independent small businesses have donated prizes. For your chance of winning one of these fabulous items, you can buy a ticket for just one pound.
For more information, to view prizes on offer and to buy a ticket, please see the Riot raffle website or Facebook page

Friday, 19 August 2011

I love.....


I am a complete novice when it comes to photography but I do feel I have an 'eye' for a good photo. Hopefully this is where my art training has come into play - learning about composition, lighting, colour theory etc has definitely helped. My personal opinion is that, just having a fancy camera doesn't necessarily produce a good photograph, there are so many other elements to consider.
Cromer Pier
I did dabble with photography at art college and my biggest regret is that I didn't persue it as a career. Whatever possessed me to study constructed textiles still baffles me to this day! The course was fine and there were many very talented textile artists on my course...I just felt I wasn't one of them!!

Hello Duck

Baby Blackbird
Clothes Line
I love spending time on Flickr - some of the photographs on there absolutely floor me! So much talent and creative subject matter on there along with brilliant use of effects and techniques. I love the work of Shana Rae (portrait/floral photographer) 
Perfect Rose

After The Rain

Pink Lily
I particularly love the current trend for 'vintage' style photography - the quirky shots and the slightly aged look to them. I'm a massive fan of wedding photography too - taking beautiful shots of someone's special day must be hugely rewarding. I'm not one for very formal shots (although I know a lot of Bride & Grooms still want exactly this style, it's just not for me) I much prefer the 'reportage' style where I feel the whole essence of the day is captured - everyone caught in natural poses, laughing and enjoying themselves to show how the day progressed.
I've yet to purchase my own DSLR - for the moment I use my trusty old point-and-shoot sony sureshot. My subject matter is fairly traditional, nature, textures, the seaside...the latter being my absolute favourite. I have had an obsession with everything 'seaside' since I was a little girl! I may still be learning the art of photography but I'm quite proud of some of the shots I've captured.
seashell on the seashore

beach hut reflections

bird watching

If you would like to join me on Flickr, I would love to see your photos too! 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

When I grow up...

When I was a little girl, I remember wanting to be an Ambulance driver. I have no idea why..think I just fancied driving fast! 
not quite an ambulance
I also wanted to be a Space Cadet for a while. They had lovely bright shiny lycra suits and could fly..what's not to like?! Then there was the palamino horse (I had to make do with a pretend one whose stable was behind the sofa) Not a career choice exactly, just thought I could own one along with a house by the was all going to be so easy!
Next, maybe a Police lady (forget your Police Officer, this was the 70s and the nice Police Lady wore a skirt and everything!) 
'ello 'ello 'ello
All of these fantasy lifestyles soon went out of the window when I started Ballet at the age of 6. A Ballerina! That's it!! So for the next 10 years I took 5 classes a week in Imperial and Classical Ballet, Modern, Tap and Acrobatics, took medal tests, taught baby ballet classes, took scary exams with very old severe-looking ballet examiners and danced to an actual person playing a piano and performed in stage shows (writing, producing and starring in two of them!) 
Angelina Ballerina
At the age of 16 after receiving the first ever Distinction for a Gold Medal test at my dancing school, I was invited to join a modern dance group in London.
me (far left) dancing to Summer Holiday
At this point I should have been ecstatic, but sadly by this age, my love of dance had waned and I had decided I wanted to go to Art College instead. I had won several National Art Competitions and always got good grades for my artwork.
the 'artist' at work
I often wonder what would have happened if I'd gone off to London - it all sounded very glamorous at the time. The reality of a life on the stage though is often very tough - dancers are notoriously poorly paid, often unhappy and always starving! Not the best career for a girl who likes her Sunday Roast!
I loved Art College - I took a 1 year Foundation course and had the best time of my life! Being creative every day was brilliant. I got to try out different fields of art and design - Graphics, Photography, Fine Art, Textiles and could opt for one of these to study further. I chose textiles as I enjoyed working with different textures and fabrics.
textile show..not quite sure what I was modelling!
The next step was a degree and I got an interview at Manchester Polytechnic (it changed to Manchester Metropolitan University in my final year!) to study Constructed Textiles. What a mistake that was! Looking back I hadn't been fully aware of what the course involved (my own fault) but with Manchester courses being extremely hard to get on to, I took the place. My first year was miserable. I loved the city and my social life was great but I hated the course and although I was getting good grades for each project, I wanted to leave. I was persuaded to stick it out and thought maybe it would get better. Sadly my second and third years were just as bad but mainly due to a tutor who for some reason had taken a dislike to me. Granted, my time-keeping was appalling but I always stayed late and finished every project on time. I was given ridiculously low marks for every project (ridiculous compared to my 1st year grades as nothing much had changed fact I thought I had improved!) The only time I was given really good marks was when we were given projects by external examiners. So, I persevered but almost gave up in my final year.
degree show
My tutor's parting gesture, after having been asked if she could check over my degree show stand and help with the last few details, was to go home early without even bothering to find me. I was deeply disappointed with my entire degree course and looking back, there was one field in particular I really wish I had
However, as in my earlier posts, I'm pretty happy with how things turned out..a wonderful OH, 2 beautiful boys, a lovely home and an ever-expanding business. I may not have made the best career choices along the way but I think my dreamy younger self would have been quite happy with her lot...there's even an imaginary horse behind the sofa.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

I love.....


Having recently moved, I've taken great pleasure in opening all my boxes and rediscovering some little gems. I'm still hunting for my red spotty coffee pot and matching mugs (Cath Kidston of course!) but I have found plenty of other delightful bits and pieces lurking amongst the practical household stuff.
Some of the knick knacks I've bought over the years for myself but many of the items have been bought for me (especially by my lovely mum who's a real magpie and finds the most amazing things!)

I have always loved these ceramic chicken egg holders - my mum had been looking out for one for me for a while so I was thrilled when one finally turned up!

This honey pot was another present - love receiving gifts that have some history behind them, it's always such a lovely surprise and you just never know what you'll get! As you can see in the background, I also have a Wade Natwest pig (the baby one) but have yet to collect the whole set (my Dad has them all!) I do have a very special one though that very few people own - I actually won  'Cousin Wesley' Natwest pig in a competition run by the bank some years ago! I was overjoyed!! He is currently kept in a very safe place...will get him out of his box when I'm feeling brave!

Since I was a child, I have loved the Homepride man. I had the Homepride baking set which I still have but unfortunately, is somewhere in a large cupboard at my parents' house which is full of other such treasures! (Cannot wait to go rummaging through our childhood toys..!!) This condiment set was a birthday present last year along with the Homepride moneybox in the background. They are just brilliant and make me smile everytime I see them on my shelf in the kitchen.

I don't have a huge collection but have recently started to collect Cornishware - I adore the blue and white stripes. I'm not a stickler for original pieces, I just love the look of them

I know nothing about these lovely butterfly shaped dishes but I spotted them in the window of a local charity shop and they really caught my eye - they are so pretty!

These pots were another fabulous find and given to me as presents by my mum and dad. I had wanted a Sylvac strawberry pot for a long time and this one is just gorgeous! The orange marmalade pot was a fantastic bonus.

I love this telephone so much! It's an original and came from my OH's house in London. So glad he brought it back with him when he moved back to Lincolnshire and it works!! We had it wired up so we could use it as a proper working telephone.

Ahh, campervans. I know they're really popular these days but my love affair with campervans and VW Beetles started when I was around 8 years old. My Dad bought a navy blue Beetle when I was at Primary school and I loved it! I remember cramming the back of the car with duvets and pillows for us to sit on for our journey to Norfolk for our camping holiday. The Beetle made that lovely little whistling noise as it pulled the trailer along that contained our 1970s brown and orange tent. The tiny triangular windows only let in a mouse's breath of air into the car but we didn't care. We thought our car was the best especially since the Herbie films were out aound that time too. Then one sad day as we were travelling home, a taxi pulled out of a side road and our poor Beetle was a write-off. I vowed to get myself a Beetle and a Campervan when I grew up..well, so far I don't have a full-scale real version of either but I do have a small collection of both in miniature, which suits me fine for now. The Beetle/Campervan fund is ongoing!

I have a total obsession with toadstools..I have them dotted all over the house! This little cluster consists of moneyboxes and felted versions by Winnibriggs House (oh OK, it's my fantastically talented Mum again!!)

I think this dandelion seedhead paperweight is beautiful - so cleverly done by Saramade. We used to do lots of shows in Norfolk where they were also exhibiting... I had to have one!
Books are another huge love of mine...paperbacks, cookery books, home styling books....I could spend hours reading (sadly, that rarely happens these days with two small children...apart from kids' books of course!)

I adore Ladybird books - me and my brother had lots of them as children and I used to spend hours reading them and looking at the lovely illustrations. I particularly remember Cinderella and her amazing ballgowns...hopefully I will also find that book lurking in the cupboard-at-the-top-of-the-stairs. Quite valuable these days but I would never sell it! 

I now also have a fairly large collection of Warne Observer's books which cover a vast array of subjects from Wild Flowers and Large British Moths to Furniture and Architecture. I started collecting these after finding two in a box in my parents' cellar. They belonged to my Dad who let me have them as I loved the amazing illustrations. One of my particular favourites is British Birds' Eggs with some of the most beautiful illustrations. The other reason this one is special is because it belonged to my OH's lovely mum who we sadly lost in 2000 (aged 57). She won the book at school - the same one I attended years later. I'd known her and the family from the age of 16 so I'm glad that we have kept hold of it to show her gorgeous grandsons when they're older.

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

All the fun of the fair!

Had a lovely day out with the family on Saturday to Heckington Show - the largest village show in England. The show is now in it's 144th year and I have visited many times over the years both with family and as an exhibitor.

Set in the heart of rural Lincolnshire, the site at Heckington is huge and has a vast array of stalls, exhibition tents, animal demonstrations, fields of vintage transport, food halls, fair rides and a long list of attractions in the main ring from athletic races and battle re-enactments to heavy horse parades and stunt bikes.
Each year we've visited seems to have been bathed in sunshine except one occasion when we were exhibiting - the rain came and stayed for both days of the event. The entire site turned into a mud bath and cars had to be pulled out by a tractor but the show went on regardless. It has grown so much over the years but still has the same 'village' show feel to it. My favourite tent  in the whole show has to be the 'competition' tent where all the entries are laid out having been judged by a select panel.
 Competitions include the usual village staples of longest carrot and largest cauliflower to the more bizarre categories such as best decorated welly and vegetable aliens. The whole tent is filled with wonderful creations...miniature gardens, rockets made from cardboard boxes and tubes, brightly painted crowns, floral arrangements and cakes.
We took our two boys along (Charlie at only 8 weeks couldn't quite appeciate his surroundings but was happy to have his milk 'al fresco')....
Alfie at 4 years old was in his element!
He's been obsessed with transport, cars in particular since he was tiny so wandering around the vintage cars, tractors and machinery was a real treat. Then of course there were the rides...funhouse, bumperboats, bouncy castle and bouncy slide were particular favourites. Add a sprinkling of ice cream and his day was complete!
Unfortunately, the boys are still a little young for us to stay for the firework display which takes place on the Saturday night and as we had to drive home, we weren't able to sample what the beer tent had to offer but overall we had a lovely time and will no doubt be back again next year.
"Heckington's GREAT!" shouts Alfie on the way home...big compliment from a hard-to-please 4 year old