Sunday, 11 September 2016

Hedgehogs welcome - the whimsical charm of the hedgehog.

The past two weeks has brought the welcome discovery of new garden residents - hedgehogs!!!
Having had hedgehog envy for years I now have resident hedgehogs of my own, oozing with prickly charm and completely captivating.

My nights now include nocturnal wanderings and skulking in the back garden, observing my mealworm munching visitors.
I had no idea hedgehogs were quite so loud!

The first regular visitor appeared under the bird table one evening.
Small and sweet, she is a regular 8.30pm muncher, and is called Tiggy.

Closely followed by tubby Mabel, who makes a beeline for the food station within minutes of it being filled.

And as midnight approaches, Big Boris makes his appearance, snuffling through the undergrowth.

I feel honoured to be sharing a garden with these prickly residents, who are sadly in decline in the UK, partly due to over tidy gardens and fences replacing hedges.
Iconic and charming, I will happily leave a (large) corner of the garden to go wild and have now added hedgehog food and houses to my Amazon impulse buys...

And these cute, prickly residents are going to be my inspiration for a new range of hedgehog decor, including Hector below!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

''Hello (cat) have you seen my glasses?'' That sudden 40s awareness of just how many feline conversations I have!

''Hello Suki, have you seen my glasses?''
Now, in the past I would have thought nothing of the conversations I have with the cats.
Furry, faithful and in their teenage, they have been privvy to many secrets, confessions and traumatic events.
However, with the arrival of new neighbours and dodgy soundproofing, I have suddenly become aware of the conversations I am having with my furry family.
I hit my 40s and morphed into lady-who-has-conversatons-with-cats.



And as for new neighbours...
Now, they moved in a week ago with an array of power tools, big plans and a grizzly toddler.
And a complete disregard for established plants in a shared part of the garden.
Which have now been strimmed to oblivion.
If it was above ground level, it was strimmed.
Including the green frond backdrop I have consistently used to photograph stock.
And a rhubarb plant that was in full flow.

I think it's safe to say we'll never be friends...


Thursday, 4 August 2016

Reloved, reclaimed. Vintage treasure versus mass produced High Street = no contest.

As I survey my home I would say that 80% of furniture is charity shop gold.

Now, beds may be a no no for me, along with large kitchen appliances, but when it comes to furniture it's reloved all the way.
And this week brought a particularly wonderful display cabinet, dating back to the 1920s.
Gorgeous, tactile solid wood, with wooden shelves, carvings and glass to the front and big ball feet.
Oh my goodness, it's beautiful!!!
And now home to stock, a vast improvement on the stacking plastic boxes they used to reside in.

I love the history of vintage.
I love the remnants of times past, maybe old wallpaper lining a drawer, or pins at the bottom of a sewing box.

Now, Swansea may not be renouned for its all embracing attitude of vintage clothing and soft furnishings.
Indeed, one particular charity shop, which shall remain nameless, admitted to binning 1970s curtains and bedspreads as they deemed them too old fashioned to sell.
Although they do seem to like polyester and nylon shell suits from the 1980s.

However, when it comes to vintage furniture, one shop stands out above all the competition.
The Britsh Red Cross, located on Oxford Street, may not look like much on the outside, but inside it is a vast treasure trove of ever changing stock.
And my absolute favourite shop in Swansea.

If you like dark wood, carved wood, oak and pianos;
If you appreciate 1920s - 1960s quirkiness then this is the shop for you.
Along with staff who care, a fantastic pricing structure and a delivery service many stores could learn from.

Where else gives you a two hour time frame and still rings to let you know when they're 20 minutes away?
Or keeps an item for you when you try to exercise willpower one day, only to regret it hours later???
(More than once!)

I currently have my eye on a wooden sewing table with curvy legs...
And their number on speed dial!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

A text in time and the very patient man.

For three weeks I have struggled with intermittent wifi and frayed nerves.
What used to be instant and taken for granted became time consuming and erratic, stalling and inducing various expletives I shouldn't be using.

BT blamed an archaic hub, and quickly dispatched an upgrade.
Shiny, new and devoid of cobwebs it seemed to work...for all of five minutes.
Cue a return to erratic wifi and stalling.

By evening I'd had it with restarting the hub every twenty minutes, and resorted to calling BT.
The very patient man was on the line for half an hour, talking me through passwords, settings and the things I'd already tried.
And then all gadgets refused to let me enter a specific, essential password.
(Okay, with the knowledge of hindsight it wasn't strictly the gadgets but me typing in the wrong one!)

The very patient man on the end of the telephone then decided that I should give him control of my keyboard so he could enter the correct details.
Halfway through this the phone decided to give out on me and the very patient man was to ring back in thirty minutes, giving the phone time to charge.

Thirty minutes came and went, and no phonecall.
Another thirty minutes, still no phone call but a text from a number I didn't recognise.
The text wished to ''thank me for my money' 
With no name.

Immediately I could feel panic rising and heart racing as I remembered the very patient man taking control of my keyboard.
I thought of my online banking, the stored passwords, and - horrified - imagined emptied bank accounts!
And due to extreme panic my brain completely forgot all bank login details!
Cue upended drawers and folders in my panic to find them.

Bank accounts seemingly in order, I then rang the unknown number...which turned out to be a relative...a relative thanking me - six months late - for Christmas money!!!

And the wifi?
It appears Windows 10 has issues with slow rural broadband...

Friday, 24 June 2016

Freeing the genie from the bottle in a rural bubble.

Self employment.
Something I fell into four years ago out of neccessity.
A neccessity born from having the rug well and truly pulled from under my feet.
And now to be raked over again as it's the right thing to do, but it's reopened a lot of buried issues.

Four years ago I was bullied out of a job I loved by a new boss.
For the first 18 months I didn't see it for the bullying it was.
 It took someone else to point it out.
Afterall, who expects to be bullied at 40?
The succeeding two years, it escalated.
Eventually I resigned as it was never going to be resolved.

It tore away my confidence, self esteem and belief in my own abilities.
It affected my health, my life.
And it took away my income.

Gradually, I put it behind me and moved on, difficult in the micro bubble of a rural community, where the workplace was the heart of the village.

And now,  four years later, I have been asked to write a statement to back up what is happening to someone else.
Same boss, same scenario

The right thing to do, but raking up a lot of buried issues.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Bye bye, neighbourly solitude.

Well, the lid is now firmly closed on seven months of neighbourly solitude.
 It's time to grudgingly share the outdoor space I've got so used to having to myself and grit my teeth at feet stomping over bare floorboards above.
I'm hoping the new neighbours will develop a liking for thick carpets and underlay, but probably not.

Having initially mistaken the partner to be the lady's 10 year old son, I'm now doubting my eyesight.
In my defence it was raining and I only saw him from the back, but yesterday, with rain abated and seen slouched over in a hoodie, he still looks around 14!
With a toddler.
Which makes me feel very old.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Nineteen. Home to battered and bruised suitcases from the mid 20th century. Reloved and upcycled.

I'm in vintage heaven, and fast becoming a home for battered and bruised suitcases.
There's something magical about these old cases, with each scratch and dent telling a story.

I particularly love the 1940s ones.
Battered leather and seventy years of grime on the hinges, they ooze character.
And are the perfect size for upcycling as pet beds.

The third suitcase is a vibrant tomato red case from the 1960s.
Lightweight and with an aluminium shell, it shouts Pop Art/Mod hybrid to me, so I'm thinking black and white with zingy pinks and orange.
Possibly without the lid.