Friday, 7 October 2016

Personal Statement

Two words likely to strike a note of terror in the hearts of any parent of a child applying to university. I use the word 'child' advisedly as they are on the brink of adulthood, teetering on that precipice of maturity and yet they still want a hug, have a penchant for sweets and maybe haven't quite been able to discard their favourite stuffed toy from childhood.

I have two options with regard to the writing of this thing that has taken on the portent of a 'make or break' , once in a lifetime opportunity to realise their dreams or have their hope dashed. Should I leave my boy to his own devices, after all , the clue is in the word 'personal' or should I wade in, all guns blazing with suggested templates, a proof reading manual at the ready and a head full of what I think it should contain ? Those who know me well will have guessed the answer and yet as I sit here attempting a draft version of my own, I realise how daunting the task must be to a seventeen year old.

I know for a fact that any suggestions I make will be taken as a thinly veiled attempt at maternal, domineering interference. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place - I know it well, I've spent many hours here over the years.

I'm eagerly awaiting his first draft then I plan on hitting the amazon ' How to crack the Personal Statement Nightmare' bookshelf... or the off licence dependent on outcome.

Friday, 23 September 2016

To keep or not to keep ...

... I'm referring to books. Three years ago DH removed all of my books from the three expansive bookcases lined up in our hallway and dumped them unceremoniously on the kitchen floor to make room for a monster of a model boat he'd inherited.

Three years later and my books, which scattered to the 4 corners of the house as a consequence, remain gathering dust and feeling unloved. Admittedly, the children's encyclopaedias, bought in the nineties, are a tad out of date and the volumes of science books merely hinted at the imminent likelihood of mobile phones ( the size of bricks no doubt) . The literature texts are as valid now as they ever were Shakespeare will be relived to hear but I'm wondering whether the Ideal Homes Book of Soft Furnishings with its lavish photographs of swags and festoon blinds ( remember them ? ) should be consigned to the bin or made into ironic greetings cards.

Decision made. They're all off to the charity shop. I do all my research on the internet now, once read, I pass on fiction to friends and I never will get around to reading , let alone understanding anything Stephen Hawking has ever written . The Dorling Kindersley Book of Trucks was a passing whim for my boys and as for that ruddy Times Atlas of the World which was impossibly outsized for any bookshelf I've ever owned, I will be glad to get shot of it.

I can't quite bring myself to chuck out my Mary Berry cookery books though so they will have to find a niche in the kitchen . Some things are, after all , sacred.

Box one of about fifty. The irony of the title of a book wedged over on the right hand side was not lost on me - Don't Throw it Away - was it trying to tell me something ?

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Careful what you wish for

I was going to call this post ' The Poldark Effect - Semi- Naked Torsos' ( scroll down for self-explanatory photo )  but thought I might attract unwanted attention . Instead I went with the far safer " Careful What You Wish For '

I was awoken at an ungodly hour yesterday by the most ear-splittingly loud noise. The tree fellers ( there were actually three fellas as it happened ) had arrived to pollard the beautiful trees in our road. From experience  I now realise that you have to make friends with the enemy, so I went and offered them a cup of tea . Three teapots, several jugs of iced water and a couple of rounds of cheese and ham sandwiches later ( it was hot and thirsty work in 32 degree heat ) , I idly enquired about what might happen to some of the larger trunks as they'd also felled a couple of dying trees. I was told they'd be sent off to a Bio-Mass fuel plant in France. Shame, I wondered aloud.

I showed them a couple of tree trunks that I'd acquired over the years ( thanks Kate and Emma ) to use as side tables, garden stools and cat scratching posts and asked that if they ever had a little chunk of weed going spare, I'd be happy to give it a home.

Look what I woke up to this morning ...

The lads ( my new best friends ) had turned up on our doorstep with a special delivery just for me -           and were standing by for me to choose and to to cut a bespoke piece on my instructions. Bless their bronzed and rippling six packs - did I mention they were rather fit ?

The local neighbourhood cats turned up to see what all the fuss was about and Jenny chose the gnarliest , knobbliest scratching post she'd ever laid her little kitten eyes upon. Then they carried it down the side of the house ( all 80kg of it ) and placed it on the patio for me (stopping only briefly to modestly replace their T shirts) for me to take their photo - well you can't miss a ( near ) Poldark moment now can you ?

Thanks chaps for flexing those muscles  being so kind.

Friday, 19 August 2016

SMoasting Open Season

It's only a day after the A level results came out but already the Facebook Smoasters ( Social Media Boasters ) are out in droves shoving their children's multiple A* grades in those less fortuntates' faces.

What happened to that very British trait called modesty ? It's fine to share your glorious news with your family via phone calls, private texts, letters or emails but why the hell would you want to rub those whose dreams lie in tatters' noses in the shit ?

These obnoxious people usual accompany their bragging boast with a picture of a glass of celebratory champagne. I do hope they choke on it. I worry for their offspring if this is what their parents are role modelling as an acceptable form of behaviour.

So, my heart-felt congratulations instead are reserved for :

  • All of those students who had an academic mountain to climb 
  • Will doubtless have worked far harder than any of the A* proteges 
  • May not have achieved the giddy heights of academic stardom and yet will have borne their disappointments with far greater stoicism and humility than the A* braggarts would ever have managed
  • The parents who have stood by their struggling children,  provided the shoulders to cry on and the emotional support through their children's years of schooling

Shame on those who felt the need to publicly humiliate those who did not excel on results day, will have known this but felt the need to brag regardless and validate their gene pool of brilliance. Doubtless they will demand their right to celebrate their child's victories but had they paused for a minute to think about the misery and feelings of inadequacy they may have inflicted on others , might they not have realised that their pride can be expressed in more private ways ?  

So, for all those wonderful young men and women whose efforts in the face of adversity may not have been rewarded , you can stand on the higher moral ground and be certain in the knowledge that your achievements are far greater and one day will be rewarded. You have learnt a far greater lesson and will be stronger for it. Be brave, be proud and as Rudyard Kipling once wrote Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it '.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Adult Colouring Books

They sound rather seedy but in fact are the antithesis of anything remotely adult.

Is it just me for whom the appeal of colouring-in is anathema ? I bought this yesterday in Primark  ( and that's a whole other blog post ) .

Needed a beach bag , love elephants , it was as cheap as chips and thought I'd have fun colouring it in with Sharpies. This is supposed to be very calming they  tell me. I've started on the trunk and I'm finding it anything but calming as I panic about the million things I should be doing before we go on holiday which are far higher priority than a spot of colouring in. I'm sure the cats would rather be fed, the plants watered, the lights set on auto-timer, the milk cancelled, the email auto message set to "I'm somewhere much nicer than my office, don't expect a reply to this email " ... but no, I'm debating whether to go with lime or mint green on my elephant's toe-nails.

Think I'll leave it to the younger generation. At my age I really should know better.

Incidentally,  the fact that I've found time to post this proves that I have elevated the art of procrastination to an art-form ... anything but packing.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Holiday packing

Anyone got this sussed ? Let me in on your secrets please.

I have a very very very low attention threshold which is why I started packing 5 minutes ago and now I'm on here typing. A friend of mine told me she leaves her packing until 2 hours before she has to leave - that way it can only take 2 hours. I'd still be wondering which suitcase to take.

Capsule wardrobe is another phrase I often hear. If I looked like a capsule ( which I don't ) that may work for me but as I look like an over-ripe watermelon , a small and discrete collection of chic co-ordinating must-haves is a big no no for me. My big knickers alone take up half my suitcase. This year I have bought new tropical colours in the underpants department which I have not worn yet , believing that brand new underwear will be a delightful change from the ropey old washed out, frayed knicker elastic variety I usually end up bringing. This could prove disastrous if I discover mid outward bound flight that they are not up to the job.

So, on to luggage. I'll be checking in one case. I call it a case. It is actually a squished up tote-bag cum backpack thing that husband encouraged me to buy. It works fine for the boys who will fill theirs with 2 pairs of pants ( between them) unsuitable footwear ( cannot convince them that heavy, waterlogged, winter-warmth skate shoes are a bad idea on a beach holiday) . Youngest will insist on bringing socks despite 30 degree temperatures and eldest will forget all vital meds including inhaler which will involve an emergency, last minute, highly expensive doctors visit for a private prescription. They may remember to bring a pair of swimming trunks but will also attempt to squeeze in a lifetime's supply of assorted hair gels and will wonder why no-one brought goggles for them.

My SUTBCBP thing ( see full description above )  meanwhile will be jammed with emergency first aid kits , flippers, snorkel masks, books which every else will commandeer because they won't like the ones they've brought with them, spare headphones as one or all of theirs will be left on the plane/airport/ car on the way to the airport, snacks as they'll refuse the in-flight meal and end up starving and cranky ( a bad combination even when you have access to a fridge ) , mosquito repellant devices ( battery operated , wristbands, plug-in, set light to variety , spray aerosol, roll-on, cream , gel and  tablets ) badly fitting brand new knickers, optimistically sized swimsuits and diarolyte ( learnt from experience ) .

It's such a joy to go on holiday isn't it ? So, I'd better get off here and go resume packing duties. I have just enough room left to shoehorn in 3 pairs of goggles and a near empty inhaler.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Swimwear shopping

Enough said , in fact the less the better. I think there is something called body dysmorphia where you think you're enormous but you're actually very slender. I have the opposite.  I came out of TK Maxx with a clutch of swimsuits in size 14 ... all of which will be going back tomorrow. I managed to lose my boobs completely whilst trying on one in particular. I eventually discovered them poking out of the armholes in amongst swathes of dislodged foam padding, presumably designed to flatter your silhouette but achieving the opposite. One was a halter neck - a brave move I hear you say ... or stupid. In order to secure my boobs inside the swimsuit, I'd have had to have tied the neck so tight that I may have appeared bent double - not a good look. One had ' high legs ' . What are these ? Whatever they are, my legs are clearly not high. Lumpy with cellulite perhaps but not high . Do they make polo necked swimsuits. Someone should .

The battle of the bulge as dear Terry Wogan used to call it , was lost to the victory of stash shopping though - about 10 : nil in fact.

And so here's what I found to cheer me up. Good to see that Tx Maxx is back on the scrapbooking trail again - get on down to your nearest branch ( but not Kew Retail Park which now has a large dent in it's stock ) .

Bought several of these for my more attentionally challenged students .

And this little bargain pack for only £3.99 in a tres chic shade of french navy - one pack of the enamel shapes would have cost that alone. I love the vellum sheets especially.

Yes - that is rose gold you see before you . A perennial favourite of mine and you can never have enough file folders.

A smattering of My Minds Eye Market Street loveliness in a collection I missed a couple of years ago so was pleased to remake my acquaintance with it . I'm planning on making a whole bunch of cards with this little lot. What about that gorgeous map paper in the grey, gold and blush pink colours - swoon. I'm not madly fond of brads but they were too much of a bargain to resist and go so well with the paper pad even though they're all from different ranges ( Just Sayin' and Niche ) .

My favourite ever woodgrain papers in 6x6 format which I have bought before but have used up entirely and some snazzy gold glitter stickers from My Minds Eye.

And finally this little gem .... which is holding my all time most favourite nail colour by Essie called Penny Talk, although I may requisition it for my Stickles ... or might I even have to buy the entire collection of Ranger's Enamel Accents coming soon - now there's a thought to banish the swimwear blues. I shall just have to swim naked on my holiday - not a good visual with which to leave you !

Thursday, 14 July 2016

I can't be trusted to make a cake ...

... without consuming more calories by licking out the bowl ( twice as I burnt the first one ) than just having a great wedge of the cake once baked . Flipping good I have to say but the scales are now protesting.

Salted caramel chocolate cake for Max's Seventeenth birthday which requires not one , not two, not even three but 4 whopping bars of Green and Black's Salted Caramel Chocolate and that doesn't include the bar I had to buy to check it was OK . I did get some exercise in beforehand though - picking up the cake on it's stand - it weighs a ton.

Now he's seventeen , the race is on ( no speeding please )  to pass his driving test ASAP . Couldn't resist making him this card . He was inseparable from his Little Tikes Cozy Coupe when he was little.
Obviously a sign of things to come. He will absolutely hate me for posting this photo of him making a silly face but I take my duties as a parent to embarrass him at every opportunity very seriously.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Hey Little Magpie - July Blog Post

Up on the Hey Little Magpie Blog today - three new layouts featuring Elle's Studio Sunny Days Collection. let's face it ... we all need a little more sunshine in our lives right now !

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The Armed Man

Just returned from a performance of Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man at the Royal Albert Hall , conducted by the man himself, to commemorate those who died in the Battle of the Somme. It was impossible to listen to the performance without shedding a tear . It is such a poignant piece but in honour of such sacrifice, all the more moving.

I had to stop myself from singing aloud as we left and walked out into brilliant sunshine which was  a huge bonus. After such a tumultuous week, it was a real joy to find ourselves in the heart of London, celebrating life and all to has to offer. Nothing quite like music to work it's magic and soothe the soul.

If you've never heard this work before, feast your ears on the Benedictus here.

Friday, 1 July 2016

The perfect end to the perfect week ...

Husband off to view ( another ) money pit  manopause car and driving halfway across the fecking country to view it. Trying to hold it together here with back to back Uni visits and now realising the cause of his reluctance to bother with a trip to Bournemouth Uni tomorrow. Why waste time on your son's prospective future career and education prospects when you can go and stick your head under the bonnet of some rust bucket of a classic sports car that some bloke is trying to shift post the ' catastrof**k ' that is Britain, post Brexit ?

Can the week get any better ?

Malcolm Tucker for PM , incidentally.

Wise words , sadly too late.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

I have a plan ...

... well someone has to.

Just over half the country turned into armchair experts overnight last Friday so they obviously know something we don't. Let's ask them to stand for leadership and form a new party. In the absence of their own leader role models having anything sensible to suggest, doubtless they will have all of the answers.

Alternatively bring back Malcolm Fucker Tucker from The Thick of It . If you're feeling robust enough for this , it may give you the only laugh on the block this week, watch and learn how to survive in politics ( ironically he didn't ) . Admittedly I was high on morphine ( legitimate post-op hospital use I hasten to add ) when I last watched it but hey.

Well enough potty mouth for one post, let's get on with the real issue . I've had to wait five full days  for my anger to subside before being able to post this and yes I know I said in my last post that it was all I had to say on the matter but I've been taking lessons from Farage and Johnson ( if they were a firm of lawyers would you use them ? ) and was obviously lying through my teeth.

On the issue of Democracy ( and I was seriously debating there whether to afford it a capital letter ) : This is a term that has become seriously de-valued , along with the pound , over the last week. Ironically , the word ( along with 'majority' ) is derived from the French language via Latin. Democracy is a process which is ongoing in which freedom of speech is not only allowed but freely encouraged. So the next person that over-rules my view or tells me to 'accept' the decision of the majority can go take a hike. Malcom Tucker would have an alternative suggestion. What probably angers me most is that they use it as some kind of trump card as if this proves them right. Cheap politics.

If one more Brexiteer tells me just to " Get on with it " I might suggest they pass that advice on to their own leaders ( surely a misnomer if ever there was one ) to stop passing the buck. Maybe the time to have conceived a strategy might have been before they dragged this country to its financial knees. The Corbyn and Johnson disarray debacle is nothing short of a spectacularly and jaw-droopingly display of incompetence and leaves me speechless - not something that happens often.

So, do the Brexiteers now feel free of the 'shackles' of the EU ? Mob handedly they have managed to create a whole new dimension to this phrase. Our new shackles will have repercussions that will send shockwaves not just through the finical, trade and political institutions but will affect millions of innocents who will now have no say whatsoever on their fate, their well-being or their safety. 

I can tolerate ( just ) the derisory view that our fellow Europeans must now have of Britain as the laughing stock of Europe that looked the gift-horse in the mouth, I can tolerate ( with some pain ) the economic free fall, I can tolerate ( mustering all the patience of a saint ) that the Levers will wish to taunt and gloat and I can tolerate the dumb naivety of the "get on with it " brigade but what I cannot tolerate is the continued ignorance, back-stabbing, lying, cowardice and incompetence of those who will now take the reins in ( and out ) of Parliament.

Friday, 24 June 2016

.... and this is all I'm going to say on the matter ...

.... £250 billion to shore up the economic freefall we're now experiencing. All I can say is, that's a hell of a lot of teachers, NHS beds and pensions. I wonder if Farage can justify that with some more bogus statistics ?

So what do we call ourselves now ? DK - Divided Kingdom ? I wonder if we switch off the country and turn it back on , will it work properly again ?

Thursday, 16 June 2016

You've got to love a good sale

As I flounced out of the house this afternoon, complaining bitterly ( like a stuck record ) that everyone in our family treats the house like a re-fuelling pit-stop - somewhere to have their clothes laundered and their bellies filled - it struck me that sometimes you have to stop doing everything for everyone and do something for yourself.

Armed with this wisdom , I set off for the shops with husband's credit card and a renewed vigour for retail therapy. It always helps and even more so now that I've lost 2 stone in weight and can almost wear the sort of clothes that 'normal' people do. This means I don't have to get down on my knees and trawl through the bottom rack, to the very back of the rail where you find the size 20s lurking. Clearly they're an affront to humanity so they need to be buried out of sight and as the fatties such as myself obviously bring on their weight problems themselves, we should be made to suffer for our excesses and made to wear black shapeless sacks for eternity ... oh and struggle past the size 6s and 8s to find that XXXl garment we've always dreamed of wearing.

First stop Mint Velvet - skinny jeans ( well skinny in my book , obviously they'll still be regarded as obscenely large if they're any more than a size 12 ... which they were .... slightly ... OK a size 14 )  - check.

Cos - a new label for me although I'm not sure about their slightly androgynous look - however I wasn't going to let the sumptuous smoke grey silk top I bought stay on the shelf - check.

H&M - more affordable but still uber stylish ( we are talking about someone who's been disguised in drab mumsy lycra for the last 5 years after all ) - a silk and cashmere summer weight sweater with a deep V plus a lovely batik style stroppy ( oops  Freudian ) strappy top for the beach - check.

And whilst there I couldn't stop myself from hoovering up these lovely shimmering rose gold lovelies. A leather braided headband, a tassel thingy (Gawd knows where I'm going to hang it ... and no my nipples are too far south for such glamour ) , a cute pair of shell pink grosgrain bows , a bronze nail varnish, a rose gold sunglasses case and a shimmery set of smoky eye shadows and I still got change from a £20 note.

Oh yes, hell hath no fury like a woman pissed off with her layabout menfolk.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Hey Little Magpie Blog Post for June

I've just uploaded my layouts to the Hey Little Magpie blog
Banish those grey skies and pop a bit of colour into your pages.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Hey Little Magpie Blog posts for May

Over on the Hey Little Magpie blog three layouts for May using Pinkfresh Studio's Life Noted collection.

Here's a sneak peek ...

Monday, 9 May 2016

Hmmm ... where were all the girls ?

I spent the day in Cambridge on Saturday at Clare College, attending the Faculty of Mathematics Open Day. It's been a bit of a pipe dream of mine to continue my education when the nest becomes empty which may be as soon as next year. Where better to study that at the college that bears my name ( albeit a different spelling but that's a minor detail ) and has the most fabulous gardens, the prettiest bridge , one of the best choirs and a dining hall where you could pretend you were at Hogwarts. Shallow I know but then life can be and I certainly am.

I'd been smitten by the place when I'd visited Cambridge earlier in the year and decided there and then to apply. Can you teach an old dog new tricks ? Well, most mature students may forget first principles of mathematics if they haven't practised them in a while but as I'm fondly acquainted with them on a daily basis, why not ?

Funny that when I was at University, the last place I'd want to spend a sunny day was in the library but now, with the benefit of maturity and a smidgeon of wisdom, I couldn't imagine anything lovelier than to immerse myself in the world of academia and lose myself to a day of Calculus. There's something quite beautiful and absorbing about Mathematics that enables you to block out the irritations of family life like ' What's for dinner ?' and ' How come we haven't got any peanut butter? ' or even ' You should have woken me, now I'm going to be late '  as if everything and anything is always your fault. Time to call my own agenda.

My first observation on arrival at the college was the buzzing that was emanating from the helicopter mothers hovering nearby their offspring , eager to ingratiate themselves with the professors from the Mathematics department and desperate to glean anything that may amount to an advantage for their admissions process.

My second observation, sadly, was that in a room full of foppish students, there were only three girls ... and I was one of them - can hardly call myself a 'girl' these days but I was sorely disappointed that our gender wasn't better represented.

After an entertaining introduction from the Admissions Tutor, the parents were asked to leave ( which they did reluctantly ) at which point I must have stuck out like a sore thumb as the average age was probably 17. There followed a lecture by the Director of Studies in Mathematics , who asked for volunteers to solve a variety of mathematical conundrums which he presented on a flip chart.

Emboldened by the fact that I was able to answer them, I decided to ask him a question at the end of the session. His answer to my query as to whether they have or have had any mature students apply to study Mathematics was a rather curt and monosyllabic  " No ". That's me told then.

I suppose there's always a first time for everything but it stuck me that there was a lost opportunity for them to acknowledge that mature students still have something to offer, are less likely to drop out and may actually be capable of a spot of differentiation or algebra here and there. Sadder still was the fact that my quick head count of those present revealed that less than 5% were female. What's going on in schools ? Is Mathematics still a male domain . Surely not ? Come on girls get your calculators out and let's give the men a run for their money.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Stash Heaven

So here it is ... my little ( ahem ) pile of stash purchased at Version Scrap in Paris last weekend.

The show was held in a modern venue called Cite de la Mode et du Design - a much better event than last year's and bursting at the seams with absolutely gorgeous stash , unseen in the UK. What's more there were loads of vendors selling 12 x 12 papers .

I adore the simple graphic quality of the French dies and stamps. My absolute favourite has to be Simply Graphic. The fine quality of their dies and their chic designs are a sheer delight  Carabelle score very highly too with their stunning stamps and  stencils and a close joint third would have to be Carto Scrap whose stamp set prices were so reasonable at around £5.50 for a 8cm x 15 cm set and Ephemera who had fabulous enamel shape packs in gorgeous colours for a mere £2 per pack.

There was evidence of a lot of items from the US that weren't yet available in the UK  which was surprising - like the Heidi Swapp Lightboxes and a lot of the new We R Memory Keepers tools and punches.

I tried to restrict myself to products not available in the UK though . Here's a little peek.

... and the sweetest little calico carrier bag to hold them all courtesy of Simply Graphic.

One of my favourite purchases ( not shown in the photo above for some reason )  was from a supplier called Aladine who were selling tubs of foam backed rubber stamps in a variety of themes for a mere 10 Euros ( just under £8) . Now I don't usually like foam stamps but these were only foam backed ( making them lighter to transport ) . The actual stamp was a very good quality rubber - 36 of them in total plus a cube ink pad in black.The designs were right up my street and I couldn't believe the quality .

The photo below doesn't do them justice.

An absolute bargain and I know I'm going to be using them again and again.

I can highly recommend the show and what's not to like about a weekend away with best friends, stash shopping and the best food in the world .

Best buddies in the world

Iles Flotante - a pudding to die for

Flowers at the Marche at Place d'Aligre

 Choux pastries at Odette's

Love the French scrappers' love for vibrant colours

Rummaging at the market 

No title required 

Carabelle's wonderful array of tampons ( no not the sanitary variety - that's what stamps are called in France ) 

Eclair, mille-feuilee or tarte framboise ? That'll be all three then.

A bientot mes amis

Up-cycling ...

... sounds painful , like a bike-ride uphill, but it needn't be if it only involves making something that doesn't look that nice look a bit better. Maybe that's what I do every morning in front of the mirror ...

Anyway , I purchased this little thing from a flea market in Paris at the weekend ( sorry that sounded a little show offy , as if I'm always browsing Parisien markets - it only happens once a year , honest ) ... and the name Tim Holtz sprung to mind with his astronomically priced spinner things that hold stamp thingys. The difference is , this one only cost 5 Euros ( about £4 ) and so had to be bought as all bargains must.

I'm guessing it was made around the 50's or 60's , not a particularly good quality wood - I"m guessing pine or beech and had a rather ghastly layer of chipped varnish with a slightly garish orange hue.

I would normally attempt to restore anything made of wood back to its natural colouring but as the wood was cheap, the varnish horrid and I am rather lazy, I decided to slap on some paint instead. I applied a couple of coats of 2 different Paper Artsy Fresco Finish paints , appropriately named London Fog and French Roast ( a nice little trans - European blend I thought ) . I then finished it off with a quick buff of Pewter gilding wax to give it a slight metallic sheen. This all took a mere matter of minutes ( and about an hour to clean up the mess on my desk , clothes and carpet afterwards  ).

Tickled pink with the result . ... and given that I saved a fortune, that now gives me guilt-free reign to go buy things to put in it . Eh voila !

Monday, 11 April 2016

Funny old world

Just returned from Paris ( feels good to name drop from time to time - Jeez, I'm so shallow ) where I bought a crucifix in a market to add to my collection - bakelite with mother or pearl inlay - made around the 1950's in France.

Fortunately it still had its original label on the back - you can't beat a a bit of provenance when dealing with old stuff. It originally came from a Papeterie in Toulon. Being a nosey so and so I google mapped the address and dropped the little man into position, only to find myself in a street I had actually walked down, many years ago when visiting DH's sister who owns a house in nearby Port Grimaud. Sadly the Papeterie is no longer there but I did spot the cafe where we had lunch.

So, I have cleaned it up using the advised Brasso ( being careful not to breathe in any dust as Bakelite contains Formaldehyde - not good for longevity ) and had a quick look on some of my favourite antique trading sites and found its identical twin ... for sale at £80 ! Not bad for a 5 Euro bargain buy. I won't be selling it though as it now holds fond memories for me of our recent trip to Paris with my scrapping buddies. Oh ... and its year of manufacture ... 1958 - same year I was made . Don't you just love coincidences ?

More on Paris to follow - just having to edit out all the shots of me eating cake !

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Spring Cleaning

Condition: Spring Cleaning : A common condition that affects mainly women .

Causes: Sudden onset of sun striking windows , thereby highlighting several months of grimy dust. May also be brought on unexpectedly by reading Ideal Homes/ Good housekeeping or similar publications.

Symptoms: Sudden flourish of activity involving the purchasing of unnecessary cleaning products and storage boxes, urge to fill charity bags full of unwanted clothing and underused kitchen gadgets.

Side Effects: Restlessness, guilt, hyperactivity, breathlessness, irritation, fatigue.

Cure: None known

I have spent the day bleaching last year's grubby garden furniture cushions, sorting through 25 years worth of photographs and de-griming the teens' bathroom. Not content with this, I then went on to clear out the entire top cupboards of my built-in bedroom wardrobes and attempt a de-clutter of my scrap room. I am a glutton for punishment. The photographs nearly did my head in. Each and every one involved the following decisions - keep, chuck, store, scrap, insert into album etc.

I am utterly worn out with the effort of it all - not the physical effort , the mental anguish of it all. The straw that broke the camel's back was what to do with all the baby bath toys which I'd stashed under the basin thinking that out of sight was out of mind. Not so. One duck and Mr Wheezey, the water spouting penguin have gone into the attic.

And as for the photographs ....

I had to laugh at the rather macabre Polaroid of myself, sister and father looking long faced and suitably distraught at the Funeral Home where Mum had just been taken. I think we may just have been leafing through the coffin brochure attempting a decision on whether to go with the Old English Oak with the solid brass handles ( cripplingly expensive ) or the veneered version with the stainless steel knobs . For the life of me I can't remember what on earth compelled us to take a photo of the sorry scene. Why on earth would I ever want to be reminded ?

This along with what seemed like a million other memories have now been consigned to piles on the floor from where they will remain for at least a fortnight, gathering dust be sorted into albums, cataloguing the various chapters of my life.

This spring-cleaning ritual has become a recurring feature of my life for the past 20 or so years. It is an annual phenomenon which only seems to afflict me. The rest of the family seem capable of by-passing it completely. There is no known cure, other than maybe to simply stop buying the 'stuff ' in the first place.

Maybe today's selfie - taking, snapchat - swapping, text-exchanging generation have something to teach us hoarding oldies. Life is transitory , fleeting and utterly disposable.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Farewell Basic Grey

So sad to see them leave the Scrapbooking Industry but making the most of their last ever collection Urban Luxe over on Hey Little Magpie's blog . Here's a sneak peek of what I've been busy making ...

And if you like what you see please leave a comment . Thanks