Tuesday, 11 November 2008

I Wear My Poppy With Pride!

Today is Remembrance Day and we remember all who have given their lives in the two great wars and all the conflicts since then and we think of all those service personnel who are serving in places of conflict today!

Even before I joined the Army I was involved with Remembrance Day. My Grandad (my Mum's Dad) was killed in WWII at Anzio in Italy. He was only 30 and my Grandma was left without a husband and my Mum and Auntie were left without a Dad, my Mum was only 3!! My Grandma became a founder of the Women's Section of the local Royal British Legion and every year leading up to November 11th she took delivery of boxes of poppies, leaves in one box, petals in another and stalks and the black centre in two more. We sat for hours assembling the poppies so they would be ready to sell. I remeber a couple of years I accompanied my Grandma as she stood in our local town selling them. I always seemed to be off school the following week with a terrible cold!!

My Grandad's Grave in Anzio Beachead Cemetery, Italy

We attended the Remembrance Service on Sunday at the cenotaph in our local park. It was a truly miserable day and the heavens opened and we got drenched, but it was just a small sacrifice on our behalf, compared to the sacrifices of those we were remembering.

I felt particularly proud this year because on Saturday I received my Veterans Badge. I'd only ordered it a few days previously, along with one for Alan, my husband. I'd been meaning to do it for so long, but kept forgetting. At one time the only recipients of the badge were the veterans of the two wars, but a few years ago it was decided that anyone who had served in HM Forces was entitled to wear the badge, but would have to apply. Anyone who leaves the services now is handed a badge on discharge. We both wore our badges alongside our poppies, and in Alan's case, next to his Falkland's Medal too - it was a nice feeling!

My poppy was a little different this year. I had purchased a pattern from a shop called Button and Skein, who were selling them to raise funds for the Royal British Legion. The RBL had helped them to set up their new shop and they wanted to show their appreciation and give a little bit back. The pattern was in actual fact 3 patterns for a knitted, crocheted or material poppy. I had intended to do a knitted poppy, but unfortunately mine didn't look anything like a flower, never mind a poppy. So, I taught myself how to crochet and after a few attempts I had a result. I made three poppies this year, one for my Grandma, one for my Mum and a last minute (Sunday morning!) one for myself. I have already been asked if I can do some more for next year and I've decided I will make some and sell them with the proceeds going to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

So that's why I wear my Poppy with Pride!
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Christmas Extravaganza & a bit more!

Apologies for the absence, but it's coming up to the silly season again! I've had a few sales recently and last week I was lucky enough to get a last minute table at an event happening this Saturday, so it's busy, busy. If any of you are in the Nottingham area on Saturday (you never know!) please come and say hello!

I've not even had a chance to take any pictures of my new pieces, what with the dismal weather we've been having the last couple of days. I think we need some colour to cheer ourselves up, so here's a couple of autumnal pictures of our garden, which I took a few weeks ago . I love autumn it's my favourite season, must have something to do with being an October baby!

Our gorgeous Acer Tree

Passion Flower Vine (it's still got flowers on it now!)

Passion Fruit (unfortunately not edible)

but they are to the birds!

Chinese Lanterns - so delicate!

I couldn't let you go without seeing some jewellery pieces, now could I? Below are a few pieces I made the other week. The first was an order and is waiting to go to it's new home. The others are pieces that are now residing at the gallery in Derbyshire.

Nephrite & Pearl Necklace

Chain Maille featuring a gorgeous bracelet bead by Caroline of Crafted Gems

Copper Chain Maille with Cherry Quartz Rondelles

I've managed to fit in a few evenings of knitting too, but can't show you the complete items, because they're going in the Christmas pressie stash and some people may be looking!!!!

When I first logged in tonight I was just going to post a quick notice as to why I've been absent, but it's turned out to be quite an update!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

I've been Tagged - Twice!!!

I was just about to log in to do an update and finally get round to replying to the tag I received from Tilly and I get another one from Caroline, so without further ado here goes, the rules if you wish to abide by them are as follows:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by including links to their blogs.

4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Mmmmmmm 7 facts about myself - you see I'm taking the easy way out and just doing one set, it's taken me forever to think up 7 facts as it is, without doing it twice.

1. I was in the Army for 13 years from 1979 till 1992 and reached the rank of SSgt. I am proud of my time in the WRAC (Women's Royal Army Corps - now disbanded!) and would do it all over again. The only regret I have is not seeing enough of the world. I only had one overseas posting, but that was to Cyprus for 2 years! Here's a pic of me when I'd just been promoted to LCpl in 1980!!

2. I love Marmite!! It has to be on white buttered bread though, I don't like it any other way. I used to take marmite sandwiches with me on school/sunday school trips when I was little, yummy!

3. I'm a Leo Sayer fan - not necessarily now, but from when he was popular. I have almost every album he released and a few other compilations. The hairs on the back of my neck still stand up when I hear the opening chords to When I Need You!

4. I love watching birds and photographing them (see earlier blogs) but I hate them being anywhere indoors. My Mum and Dad used to have a budgie called Monty and they used to let him out for a fly around and I used to cringe and run out of the room. I'm sure he knew that I didn't like it cos he used to land right next to me on the sofa - sharp exit!!!

5. I can't stand my feet being touched, by anyone! I did an alternative therapy course last year and one of the lessons was reflexology. I told the instructor that I wasn't happy about anyone touching my feet, what I wasn't prepared for was how I felt watching someone else have their feet massaged etc I almost fainted, I feel weird now just thinking about it - feet ugh perhaps that's why I'm enjoying making socks, something to cover them all up.

6. When I was little my hair was so long I could sit on it! My mum used to have a real battle on every day cos my hair was so thick it got into some right tangles. One day I came home from school at lunch time and announced I wanted my hair short. My Mum took me straight to the hairdressers during the lunch hour and I had my pony tail cut off there and then - she wasn't going to give me a second chance. I've had short hair ever since, apart from about a year when it got down to my shoulders, before I gave in and had it all chopped off again.

7. I want to learn to scuba dive before I turn 50 - so I've got 3 years left then. As they say watch this space.

So there you go, a mixed bag of informative, useless and utterly random and weird facts about yours truly.

Now the difficult task of picking 7 people to tag who haven't already been picked, I could end up doing a bit of editing here lol. In no particular order here goes:

1. Anne of Chloe's Designs

2. Jo of Daisychain Designs

3. Ali P of All About the Beads

4. Chris of Kiamyka

5. Amanda of Joli's House

6. Lorraine of Lorraine's Place

7. Kelly of Kebo Jewellery

Monday, 29 September 2008

Preparation - An Event!

My mojo seemed to go on holiday about the time the boys broke up for their school hols, not sure where it's been, hopefully it had better weather than we did! Thankfully, it's now back and just in time too.

This weekend I'm one of the featured designers who will be attending a Jewellery Festival at Studio 61 in Lea, nr Matlock, Derbyshire. The event will be on Saturday and Sunday, and I will be there on Sunday, along with my good friend Kerrie We will be demonstrating how we make our jewellery pieces and there will be lots of examples to see and buy if you so wish. If you're venturing into the Derbyshire Dales over the weekend please stop by and say hello.

In preparation, I've been beavering away and making some new chainmaille pieces and amazingly I have finally got some pictures of jewellery to show you - wonders will never cease!

2 in 1 Chain - Bead by Caroline of Crafted Gems

Copper & Sterling Silver Daisy Pendant

Wisteria Set (I've also made one in black)

Weave - Rhino Snorting Drano (seriously!) and Beautiful Bead by Caroline

Jasper Byzantine

My jewellery mojo may have disappeared for a while, but my hands haven't been entirely idle!! I've rediscovered the art of knitting. It all started when I made a few baby items for friends who were expecting this year. I then took a trip to a local wool shop and was bitten by the bug. I was amazed at the different types of yarns that are now available, my new stash is growing rapidly and I've taken quite a liking to socks!! I already have a few requests for Christmas presents. I try to do my knitting in the evenings now rather than letting it encroach on my jewellery making time.

My very first pair of socks! They are sooooooo comfortable.

My Shrug - this won me a years free subscription to a knitting magazine!


The baby cardigan that started it all!!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

High Days and Holidays

I know it was a while ago but, blinked and you missed it - summer that is!

We did manage a few nice days though, inbetween the torrential downpours. We went ahead with our camping trip to Devon over the Bank Holiday. The weather wasn't too bad during the days, but a couple of the nights were horrendous. Also, the wet weather meant that some parts of the campsite resembled a clay pit!! The boys enjoyed themselves and as you can see from the pic below - they managed to get in the sea, Alan even joined in one day. I was the sensible one and opted for a chair, good book and my fleece!!

The boys bodyboarding at Slapton Sands

Plymouth Hoe from a little boat.

We had a trip up the river to Davenport to see all the Naval vessels.

We had a lovely morning in Dartmouth and sampled a gorgeous cream tea (can't believe we'd been in Devon since Thurs and had to wait till Monday to have our one and only cream tea!) in a fabulous bakers on the main street. We even bought pasties and cakes for later in the day. From Dartmouth we went over to Brixham where we all spent a pleasant couple of hours either fishing or crabbing, but no luck! There were a few near misses with the crabs, but they decided they preferred the sea to our bucket, can't blame them really. It was fun trying though!

Dartmouth Harbour

Looking out to sea from Dartmouth

One of the highlights of our few days away was an impromptu fly past by the Red Arrows. They flew very low and even had the smoke trails. They flew the length of Slapton Sands where about 5 mins earlier Alan and Ben had been flying their power kite, good job they'd packed up cos I reckon they'd have hitched a ride to Dartmouth in record time!!

The weekend before we went to Devon, Alan and I had a long weekend in Brussels. They boys went up to Beverley and had some quality time with Grandma, going to the beach and to the train musuem in York.

We travelled to Brussels via the Eurostar, which was very efficient, but a little shabby. It was great to see the new St Pancras station, very smart and swish. The times I used to travel through that station when I was in the Army, it was always so dark and dismal, but not anymore and the statue of the kissing couple is amazing, unfortunately I didn't take a photograph so you'll just have to go and see it for yourself.

We arrived in Brussels Friday evening and after a bit of a trek to the hotel (don't ask!) we settled ourselves in our room. The hotel 'The Sheraton' was fantastic, couldn't ask for more. We'd upgraded to Club so we got to use the facilities of the Club Lounge which was on the 30th floor with great views of the city. We could help ourselves to complimentary wines and beers in the evening and tea/coffee and soft drinks during the day. The hotel also had a rooftop (covered) pool which was very well received after a day pounding the streets seeing the sights.

So, Brussels! We enjoyed it, but not sure we would go again. There is an awful lot of graffiti about and it seems there is no respect for monuments or buildings. We also found that the transport system took a lot of getting used to. There are not many signs/information in English, which we found quite surprising seeing as Brussels is the centre of the European Parliament etc. It didn't stop us from seeing the sights though.

The weekend we were there the Grand Place was carpeted with flowers. The event takes place every two years for one weekend and it was a sight to behold. The flowers were begonia heads all laid out in a very intricate pattern - it was well worth battling the crowds to see it. The buildings surrounding the Grand Place were stunning.

We took a metro ride out of the city to visit the Atomium. Now what can I say about the Atomium - rip off springs to mind! After paying something like 8 or 9 Euro each we got in line for about an hour to take a lift to the observation deck - that was it!! Although I got some quite arty shots looking down on the spheres it certainly wasn't worth the wait or the money. The views were good, but you could see the same views from the Basillica a few miles away for less money and you get to see the inside of a beautiful Art Deco church too.

Of course a trip to Brussels wouldn't be complete without sampling some of the 200 approx types of beer they have on offer.

And of course, the chocolates!!!!! Every other shop seems to be a chocolate shop, but we were very restrained and didn't buy any till the last evening. We bought a few boxes for gifts and one for us to share with the boys when we got home. They were delicious!

Inside the Leonadis Chocolate Shop

Mannekin Pis (not quite sure what the uniform signified)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder!

Well, I hope it does in my case - lol.

I apologise for my absence recently, but I've been having problems with my photo imaging package and I can't post a blog if I haven't got any photo's for you to look at. I think I've now solved the problem, so should be back real soon with lots of news and photo's of course!

Here's a taster of what's to come.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Return of the Blog!!

I'm baaaaaaaaaack!

It's been a while and I apologise for being AWOL over the last month and a bit. Life has a habit of getting in the way! I won't bore you with the details, but just get on with the task in hand and get back to blogging.

The school holidays are in full swing, did you notice I didn't say 'summer' holidays as there's not been much good weather to write about. The boys aren't tooooo bored yet and we still have our little holiday to look forward to in the next few weeks, we're off to Devon for a few days for a spot of camping! Hope the weather improves a bit.

One of the reasons I've been spurred back into blogging is to tell you about a very worthwhile project my good friend Kerrie has been working on. Kerrie is an exceptional bead artist and she has designed the following ribbon pins which are going to be used to raise funds for various charities.

The pattern for the pins is to be published on the Beading Daily website next week and I, for one, can't wait to receive my copy and start making the pins and raising monies for various cancer charities. You can read all about Kerrie's story and the reason behind the design on her blog here. I wish Kerrie the luck she deserves with this very special project and I hope it raises lots and lots of money. Please spread the word and support it as much as you can.

Whilst we are on the subject of fund raising, I took part in the Race for Life last week! I wasn't going to take part this year (have done it twice before) because I've had a few problems with my back, but my good friend Ashlie said she really wanted to do it and would I join her. I agreed as long as we wouldn't be running. We decided to join the event at Holme Pierrepont here in Nottingham. Holme Pierrepont is the home of the National Water Sports Centre and the course for the Race for Life is once around the lake. The day was very emotional and very very hot, the hottest day of the year so far!!! We decided to power walk and managed to finish in 45 mins, not bad considering the conditions. Below is a photograph of Ashlie and I before the race, already looking rather hot and flustered.

There's not much to report on the jewellery front I'm afraid, this time of year is always quiet with people on holiday etc. but I do have a couple of pictures to show you of work that I hope is going to evolve into something a little more - watch this space!! The first is a fibula brooch that I made using a gorgeous focal bead from Claire of Clasicat Designs. Claire has just started making her own lampwork beads and offered her first attempts to members of the uk-beaders forum free of charge as long as we posted what we'd made with them. I think Claire is going to go far with her bead making! The second fibula is a copper one using another gorgeous bead, this time from my mate Caroline of Crafted Gems

Lastly, I would like to mention someone special. My Grandma, affectionately known to me as Granny Franny, was 98 on Monday! Hubby and I went to see her and I made her a scrummy chocolate cake (we didn't get a piece, though). I know she is getting tired and who would blame her, but she still has all her wits about her, she may be a little slower in talking and can't see too well, and she reckons she's deaf, but I think it's more a case of 'selective' hearing. I think I get alot of my creative side from my Grandma. When she worked she was a tailoress in a very prestigious shop in our town and she was never without some knitting or a needle and thread. At one time she was very well known for making peg bags, aprons etc which were all made and sold for charity. I know she misses being able to knit and sew, but I think she was quite pleased to hear that I've recently picked up my knitting needles again and have made a few items for friends who've just had babies. Here's to you Granny Franny, thank you for all the inspiration you've given me and for passing on your creative gene and I hope you enjoyed the cake xxx

Monday, 16 June 2008

Lots to Share!

Due to my lack of posting over the last couple of weeks. I have quite a bit to share with you.

First, I must give you an update on the nesting blue tits. The chicks finally fledged just over a week ago now. I had been checking every day that they were still in the nest box and I couldn't do anything until I had seen the parents going back and forth to the box every morning. Unfortunately, in the last week it looked as if there was only one parent doing all the feeding etc. Two chicks fledged and for most of that first day they just fluttered around our garden, it was quite a tense time because we have several cats living around us. I managed to snap some pictures of the chicks which were taken within about 30 mins of them fledging. I just hope they've managed to survive.

I am pleased to report that the trip to Wembley wasn't in vain!!! The Tigers won. The boys were ecstatic and are STILL talking about it. Hull City are now in the Priemiership and will be playing the likes of Man Utd and Chelsea this coming season - oh joy!!

Our trip into Derbyshire was lovely. We met up with hubby's Mum and spent the day visiting various studios and galleries that were taking part in the Derbyshire Open Arts Festival. We started off at Studio 61 in Lea where some of my chainmaille jewellery is on display and for sale. After that we went off to Pollyanna Pickering's gallery, which was full of stunning wildlife paintings and prints. Hubby ordered a signed print of a tiger (Hull City!!) which we went to pick up yesterday, but it wasn't quite ready. It wasn't a wasted trip though because Pollyanna has another exhibition on until the end of this month (see her website for details) and it was all tigers!!

I've been busy with my jewellery too. I was asked to go along to a local wives group to do a small talk and hopefully sell some of my work. It was a little nerve wracking to say the least, but I think it all went ok. I don't think the talk was quite long enough, but I could see that some of the ladies were itching to see my wares. As soon as I invited them up for a closer look I was swamped for about 15 mins which resulted in a very successful sale. Whenever I visit this kind of venue I always make a donation to the cause/charity of their choice. If you are interested in me coming along to your organisation/event please don't hesitate to get in touch. Below is a small selection of my latest pieces, some of which were sold at the above event.

Finally, I was a little busy towards the end of last week - not with jewellery, but with a birthday cake!! I volunteered to make a cake for a friends 50th birthday. It was a real challenge because I decided to do it in the shape of a guitar - a red Fender Stratocaster to be precise, which is the type of guitar Graeme owns. I was really pleased with the result and I think he was rather pleased too. Here's a picture of the finished cake, apparently there's not alot left now!!