Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Dear Diary...Monday, 7th December 1989. Ramblings of a 21 year old backpacker in retro Aswan.

Monday, 7th December 1989.

The trip down to Aswan was sheer hell.
20 hours in a second class carriage on a cockroach infested, Egyptian train.  Oh my God!!!

On the platform we appeared to be the only tourists waiting for second class.  
As soon as the train pulled in it was like a stampede - a solid mass of people with baskets and chickens and hubble bubbles - all trying to get through the doors at the same time. 
Hands everywhere, groping, touching, and when we eventually found our seats we all collapsed in a sweaty mess.
And cursed the Aussie girls who'd assured us second class was fine.

We eventually made it to Aswan, and, wandering around in an exhausted, sleepless state, were horrified when we realised Lance had led us to a Youth Hostel.
A Youth Hostel!!! After the state of the hotels in Cairo!!!
Luckily he just wanted to pick up mail and we ended up at The Rosewan, just round the corner.
And the markets!!! 
Real markets, with sand and donkeys and silver and hubble bubbles.
And apparently beer too, though I have no idea where that came from.

The next morning we had to register with the local police, so they could track our movements in their country.
Then we met a crazy Nubian called Eden,who invited himself to lunch, before whisking us off to an Island on his felluka. 

My favouite memories of Aswan are the mad, crazy parties on the boat, me and Dave being bundled into a taxi mid silver browsing by Eden with no warning, to be whisked off to a nubian cafe for a dinner we hadn't known we wanted, painting the sail  and the bazaars...the wonderful, silver filled bazaars.
I love Aswan!

But all good things come to an end, and the morning we were supposed to be sailing to Comombo disaster struck.

EDEN HAD GONE!!!  While Kay and I were taking a last look round the bazaars, Eden had been arrested - FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER!!! - and was in jail!!!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The appeal of hibernation.

When the nights draw in and daylight fades; when village life grinds to a 6pm halt, I often feel that squirrels have the best idea with sleeping through winter.
Although I'm pretty sure that welsh squirrels don't hibernate, as they're always round my ankles when I stalk them with a camera.
But, with hibernation not being an option, I've resorted to a blanket, chocolate magnum and a very scented candle.

I love all the winter fabrics around this year.
The tweed, the vibrant shades of wool...velvet.
Velvet is a recent rediscovery and I'm planning on using it for fabric cuffs, with linen and lace.

Going with a warm blue and chocolate theme Prudence is my newest owl, resplendent in tweed and wool.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Dear Diary....the ramblings of a 21 year old in 1989.

Oh my goodness gracious me - dusty old diaries from the 1980s!!!
This is an entry from my misspent youth....

Dear Diary...
Thursday 3rd September, 1989.
Guess who turned up at Gardner Merchant last shift?  Aussie Dave!!!
It was so embarrassing - he was talking to Michael in the washup and when he said hello I didn't even recognise him - and we went out together last year!!!
Granted, it wasn't for very long, but even so - still, it shows what sort of impression he made if I can forget him that quick.
When I did remember who he was - and I blame his facial fluff - it was nice to catch up. He leaves for Canada on Sunday so we went for a drink up the Village Inn this morning , before collecting my wages and dashing up to London, where I'm writing this while waiting for my coach to Swansea.
I haven't seen my family (except Dad) for more than a month now and I'm looking forward to it - and seeing the house now that they've moved in.
I'm getting into so much trouble at work at the moment. I'm going to have to be careful now, I think.
I haven't been coming out on time,  been banned from talking to Andy at the bar - and got caught round there by Tim, slagging hm off - after he'd told me twice about going round!!!  I couldn't believe it when he appeared, and it was a good job it wasn't five minutes earlier or I'd have been caught red handed with a double vodka! I was so lucky not to get a written warning.
And then there was the last night of shift, when I was so pissed off with Jean-Michel that I slipped round the Oasis about midnight to talk to Andy for awhile - and when I got back he was so mad he docked me my ten minute break!  I was fuming!!!

Tuesday 8th September, 1987
Well, this time next month I should be back in Israel!
Time's going so fast now and because it was all planned on the spur of the moment I can't believe it's really happening, though with just £7.77 in the bank and a one way ticket - not to mention a passport that expires in March - I really ought to get my act together.
I'm supposed to be working 12 night shifts on the trot now, which should help, but I've got to sort some new contact lenses too.
P.s....Simon appeared in the canteen last shift to talk about Israel and - GUESS WHAT?
He's bringing TWO suitcases, an electric shaver and a HAIRDRYER!!! What a peacock - he's taking more than me and Amanda put together!!!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Winter wool, the odd pirate and a distinct lack of chocolate hobnobs.

Storm clouds are brewing, my laundry basket is overflowing and I'm tempted to just seek solace under a blanket, with daytime TV and a packet of chocolate hobnobs.

Unfortunately, my hobnob supply appears to have shrunk to three biscuits. Just three, solitary biscuits.
I'd like to think there was a hobnob thief,, but as it's just me and two cats, I think it was probably me.
What is it with chocolate hobnobs and will power???

So - hobnob free - I'm going to finish stitching an owl.
This one is a tactile mix of tweed and powder blue wool.
Powder blue is so not a colour I'd normally choose, and I will admit to rolling my eyes when the idea was muted, but the contrast with the tweed is beautiful.
It's very easy to get caught up in reproducing old favorites and safe colour schemes, so I am very grateful to the customer who requested this blue, because it's opened my eyes to new combinations.  I'm still loving pinstripes, which I'm moving on to foxes.
Having lost my grey pinstripe to the Dr Who production team, I was so impressed with LeeMills in Swansea for unearthing this chocolate brown pinstripe.
Tweed and powder blue...who would have thought!!!

Particularly as it involved rummaging under hundreds of precariously balanced bolts of wool amongst the dust.

I love this shop.
A fox in need of whiskers.
The owner is a 70 year old with magpie tendencies.
 Despite having to squeeze your way up and down overflowing aisles, where releasing a single bolt of wool involves circus like contortions and risks an avalanche, LeeMills is apparently short on woollen fabric and ordering more.
It makes my own fabric stash seem minimalist....

Soon to be listed on Etsy.

Friday, 18 October 2013

From Brick Lane with love. Urban grit and creativity.

My love affair with London stretches back over three decades.
Moving to Sussex as a 12 year old in 1979,  I remember numerous family trips to London.  They included trips to Hyde Park, the landmarks, the museums, but what I really fell in love with was the wonderful London Underground - and Covent Garden.

When I went to Art School, my focus changed - along with my dress sense!
Now, it was all about Oxford Street, Carnaby and the odd dodgy club.
Gallery trips with Art School meant in through the front door, a cursory look round, then off to the Kings Road.

I missed London when I started my 21 year rural stint in Llanrhidian.
And I still miss it 21 years later.

This time around, my love affair is with Brick Lane, and Shoreditch.
I love the quirkiness, the raw creativity, the vintage edge.
I love the laidback, maybe 11, maybe later openings in the side streets, the way there's a photo opportunity round every corner and, of course, it's home to my absolute favourite vintage treasure trove on Cheshire Street. 

The urban grit and creativity of Shoreditch is both refreshing and inspiring.
And I've already booked my next trip back in November, for the Renegade Craft Fair.

This trip to London has opened my eyes to new ideas, and I feel completely rejuvenated.
I also feel cash poor but fabric rich, after the mecca that was the Knitting and Stitching show at the Ally Pally.
Oh, my goodness -so much beautiful fabric, so many gorgeous trimmings.
And a newly aquired penchant for linen.

It has also completely convinced me to make moving a reality, although that may be a long term project...
And call me fickle, but it won't be to Manchester!

Monday, 7 October 2013

The lure of London and life after 8pm.

The last time I was in London was more than a year ago.
It was the summer of 2012, when I managed to avoid the Olympics and seek solace in Brick Lane and the vintage paradise that is THE SHOP.

And - yes - that really is the name of this treasure trove of vintage, tucked away down a side street and devoid of a till, a telephone and other trappings of technical life. A shop stuffed full of vintage fabric and clothing, with a (working and in use) wooden Singer machine tucked around the corner.

A definite OH YES  for Saturday!

I am so looking forward to London.
 I've reached the end of the line with rural.
There may be green space and beaches and a relaxed pace of life, but there is also the 8pm curfew, when the only shop for miles is closed, public transport has ceased an hour before and the fridge contains no milk.
And 21 years of rural has made me lazy.

So...London on Thursday, the wonderful V&A in the afternoon,  Earl's Court,  The Ally Pally Friday, meeting a very old friend in the evening and the welcome novelty of no public transport curfew!
Invitation to all Folksyers/Etsyers for an AllyPally meetup this Friday!

This week the nights have been pulling in, the dew is heavy on the grass and summer is a distant memory.
Flowerheads are minus their petals and leaves are dropping.
Perfect light for photography!

                                             This set of three cards is called ''Summer's End.''

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Pirates of Suburbia.

Two weeks in, and I'm still loving the pirate theme!
From London pinstripes to Tokyo treasure maps, with a sprinkling of skull and crossbones,  there are some fantastic fabrics around.

I've fallen in love with this Kokka design from Tokyo, made even more special by the envelope completely covered in whimsical stamps.
Who says you should never judge a fabric by its cover?

While the fabric above is a pirate in waiting, I rediscovered a nautical fabric I never knew I had.  This has lain unloved at the bottom of a box for more than a decade, but has now become my new Pirate of Suburbia.
Have I really been impulse buying fabric for so long?
Surely not :)