Sunday, 30 March 2008

Easter Holidays!

Well, the Easter holidays are almost over, it's back to school for my two tomorrow and back to some serious jewellery making for me too. I've hardly done a thing, jewellery wise, for two weeks!!

So, what did we get up to over the break - we took the boys to Prague! We flew out on Easter Sunday and came back the following Wednesday evening. We had a nice time, but we noticed that the prices had increased since our last visit a few years ago. It was also very cold, so cold I had to buy myself a hat! We didn't get the snow that was predicted, but we did have a few snow flurries, one quite prolonged one that we got caught in, for a time we all looked like walking snowmen.

We did all the usual sights and even ventured out to the suburbs to see where the tram would take us to - the terminus at the end of the line!! We also took a trip to the TV tower which is situated on a hill outside the centre of Prague. It's not common knowledge that you can actually pay a small admission fee and travel up the tower to the observation deck. Once up there you can get some spectacular views of the city and surrounding area. It was well worth the tram ride and the short walk up the hill.

This picture is looking out towards the TV tower in the distance.

This is a picture from the base of the tower, the observation deck is the second one down, the one below is a restaurant. Can you see the babies crawling up and down the tower - a bit weird!

One of the many spectacular views from the top of the tower.

There were lots of Easter celebrations taking place and there were Easter markets in Wenceslas Sq and the Old Town Square selling lots of painted eggs and lovely food!! They also have a tradition that on Easter Monday the menfolk go round with a long twig (made from willow, I think) adorned on the end with ribbons. They take these twigs and 'whip' the legs of the women whilst reciting a 'blessing' for the women to have beauty, goodwill etc for the coming year. They only stop 'whipping' when they are presented with a painted egg, sweets, money etc! I was 'whipped' (lightly tapped) by two young boys who got on the tram with their father, unfortunately I couldn't present them with anything as it was our first morning there and I had no change to give them. Think they did quite well though, excellent ploy getting on a tram - no escape.

And, yes I did buy some beads!! Not many though, only 7 strands from the stall in the market, their prices have risen a bit too!

Before I go I must tell you of a place hubby and I went to last night. We were invited to a party for our friends 40th birthday and the venue was a bar! This wasn't any ordinary bar though - it was a garden bar and was at the bottom of someone's garden!! It was amazing. There was a proper bar (no money changing hands of course, all bought in before hand!) a snug area, complete with fire effect heater and comfy chairs. There wasn't a spare space on the walls, ceiling etc they were completely covered by bric a brac and souveniers etc. There was an Egyptian themed area too, complete with sand on the floor, which doubled up as a small dance area. My friend hadn't given us any indication about it, other than we'd be just looking round for the first half hour - well I was seeing something different everytime I looked around. It was a great party in spectacular surroundings.

Btw - I won the Easter Bonnet competition at our WI Meeting! I received a lovely hyacinth in a pot which is sat on my kitchen window sill and smells beautiful.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

What Have I Been Up To!

Whilst Alan was away on the C2C, what was I up to? Well, the usual day to day comings and goings, washing, shopping, keeping the kids fed and watered etc. But, on Sunday I went to the Harrogate Bead Fair!! I took along my friend, Ashlie, who'd never been to such an event before, I think she enjoyed it, well I know she did, cos she told me so!

It was very busy, as usual, and we had to park along way from the building therefore it was a quick sprint up the hill in the wind and cold. Once we'd thawed out with a cup of coffee it was time to hit the fair! We had a leisurely walk around to start with, sussing out who/what were there and making mental notes of where to go back to later. We had a break for lunch and met up with a few other beady people, Claire, Emma and Lynne. Emma decided to tempt me with some of her gorgeous lampwork beadies (see front of pic below), how could I resist, especially Hootie McTootie the 2nd!! After lunch we headed back across to the fair and I did a bit of spending. Here's a couple of pictures of my stash.

The gorgeous beadies right at the front are some boro disc beads I bought from Purple Beech Designs and behind them are Emma Green's lovely lampwork beads. You can see more of Emma's work here. Just check out the critters page!

I've also been busy this morning finishing off the commission I told you about last week. It was for a black choker. The customer wanted a choker and it had to be all black, even the findings! I did a few sample pieces and below is the finished piece. A special thanks to Kerrie for coming to the rescue with a supply of black seed beads! I am so pleased with how this has turned out, I just hope she likes it. The pattern is called Cecile's Wheel by Sandra D Halpenny and I found it at this great site.

Finally, tonight is our monthly WI Meeting and the competition this time round is 'Easter Bonnet' I don't always take part in the competition, but thought I'd have a go at this one. I wasn't sure whether to stick to a traditional style or go for a giant creme egg!! I decided on the former purely because I had the flowers to hand. I was about to throw out the flowers I had left from Mother's Day and noticed that all the chrysanths were still ok, well almost. So, I used them on my bonnet, along with some periwinkle and a daffodil from the garden - what do you think? Not sure what I will do if we have to model them though, cos the hat won't fit on my head!!! I'll let you know how I get on.

What an Achievement!

Some of you will already be aware that my husband, Alan and brother-in-law, Phil did a bike ride last weekend. This was no ordinary bike ride! They cycled on mountain bikes from Whitehaven, Cumbria on the west coast of England, to Roker Pier in Sunderland on the east coast of England! They began on Friday at 1pm and finished on Sunday at 5.45pm. The distance was a total of 142 miles and total cycle time was approx 17 hrs. The weather was against them all the way and on Sunday, which should have been a relatively easier ride, they were battling against the wind, rain, sleet and snow!! At one stage they were pedalling at 8mph - downhill!!!!

The reason they undertook this mammoth task was to prove to themselves they could do it and to raise some money for their chosen charities. Alan has been a diabetic since I met him in 1986 and a few years ago he attended a course run by the local hospital here in Nottingham. That course called the E.D.W.A.R.D Course (Education for Diabetes Without a Restrictive Diet and it completely changed Alan's outlook to managing his diabetes and his diet. Alan wanted to put something back so chose Dundee House at Nottingham City Hospital, the unit which runs the E.D.W.A.R.D course, as his charity to raise money for. My brother-in-law chose a charity that is close to everyone's heart MacMillan Cancer Support, but he chose it for a more personal reason. His cousin sadly died of cancer last year, he was 42! They are both overwhelmed and touched by the response they have had and are close to raising £2,000 between them. I for one am very proud of them both. Here's a few photo's of the two of them. By the way, a special big thank you must go to Mick, Phil's Dad, who provided much needed support and encouragement along the way and was the 'official' photographer!

The beginning in Whitehaven, by tradition the cyclists must start with their back wheel in the water of the Irish Sea!

Alan is on the left, Phil on the right.

This next picture was taken as they were leaving Cumbria and entering Northumberland.

This next picture is 'the end' of course they had to dip their front wheel into the North Sea - think they got their feet a bit wet, oh and Alan was on the phone to me when this pic was taken!

This last picture is the proof that they did it. Here they are pictured with the plaque at Roker Pier and their stamped certificate! Well Done, lads! Think Phil looks as if he can't quite believe it's all over - the look on Alan's face says it all.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Busy Blustery Day!

So where did Spring go to? Up here in Nottingham we seem to have escaped the worst of the dreadful weather that has been battering some parts of the UK today. Although, it has been a pretty awful day with blustery showers and the wind did wake me several times during the night. I hope everyone is safe and sound and that the weather hasn't caused you too many problems.

Due to the yucky weather I decided to keep warm and dry and do some making today!!

The first is a bracelet made with some gorgeous beads I snatched from my mate Caroline's (Crafted Gems) blog before they had a chance to make it to her website!!

The second bracelet is very similar to one I made a few weeks ago, for myself. I have had so many comments about it I thought I would do another one to try and sell. It's using some of Caroline's lovely beads again and quite a bit of Indian silver.

The next one is a bracelet using some beads made by Mike Poole of Tillerman Beads I've mixed them with some light amethyst and aquamarine Swarovski bicones and a bit of silver.

The last bracelet is made from some beads the lovely Caroline sent to me as a challenge!! These are so outside of my comfort zone!! She sent me the round beads with my birthday gift, but think she'd forgotten that I already possessed the pillows - or did she? I hope I've done a good job with them. I've teamed them with some fire opal Swarovski bicones.

The last pictures are of two necklaces that I've put together using some lovely fimo focals I bought from the lovely Tammy. I've had them for a while, but as soon as I purchased a big bag of turquoise mix beads from The Bead Shop I knew how to use them.

and finally......

Did you notice my newest addition, my SRAJD logo and membership number, I finally received it today and am so chuffed.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Spring Has Sprung!

Well, it's getting there. It's been a lovely spring like day today, still a bit cold when out of the sun, but Spring is definately beginning to peek her head around the door as can be seen from the pics I'm posting today. I took these earlier on today, they are about the only things with any colour in the garden at the moment. It was a lovely surprise the other day when I spotted the first of the daffodils dancing in the breeze on the drive next to the house. The crocuses have been out a couple of weeks now and are still going strong. The grape hyacinths are popping up all over the place too. I planted lots of bulbs a few years ago and just forgot about them and where I'd planted them, so every year it's a nice surprise to see them.

I've not had much time for jewellery making this last week for one reason or another, but I have been in the preparation stages, which included a visit to the Bead Shop in Nottingham yesterday. Unfortunately, they didn't have one of the essential items I needed to enable me to complete the commission I got earlier in the week, but I still managed to spend quite a bit on other 'essentials'. Regarding the other items, fellow blogger and beady pal, Kerrie, came to the rescue (thanks matey!) and I popped up to see her this afternoon and enjoyed a coffee and a chat whilst collecting my beady essentials. On the way back I stopped off to take the following pics of the view from the highest point in Nottinghamshire (well so it states on a nearby house!). I love this view, but you only normally get a glimpse of it as you're driving down the road. You can see straight down the valley all the way to the city of Nottingham in the distance!

I will try and get some jewellery made and posted over the weekend, but can't promise anything because hubby is away on cub camp all weekend which leaves me with the boys and all the washing, drying, ironing etc - say no more!!!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Well, thought it was about time! Hopefully this won't just be a flash in the pan and I do actually manage to keep my blog up to date. I should imagine it will be a little easier to control than a website - one day I will get there!!

So what's been happening today! I've been up to the gym this morning and managed to get myself a commission for a piece of jewellery along the way!! These days I can't go out of the house without someone approaching me about my jewellery - great feeling, but sometimes I get home and don't quite know which way to turn first, definately not towards the hoover!!!

I think I will try and work on my herringbone necklace this afternoon. I started it at a workshop I attended on Saturday at Jencel in Sheffield The workshop was run by the lovely Peter and he showed us how to 'capture' a Swarovski Rivoli. I will post pictures of the finished piece as soon as I've finished it.