Saturday, 20 December 2014

Bue skies and PJs.

In an ideal world I would have jumped out of bed at 8am, been out the door at 9 and be in the park photographing squirrels by 10, having finished all my Christmas shopping and with a full fridge.

In reality I overslept till 10am, have barely scratched the surface of Christmas shopping, Tesco has no delivery slots till after Christmas and I won't be at the park before 2.
On the plus side, my orderbook is clear, the tree has half its baubles and the sky is blue.

Today I wave goodbye to the courier till after Christmas.
No more odd shaped parcels, pink mailing sacks or wrestling to get boxes within the courier size restrictions.
No more packaging at midnight, cellotape wars or dodgy addresses that don't exist on Google.
Suki objects to the noise of the cellotape.
She gets that ''don't mess with me'' glint in her eyes.

I've seen more of the courier than my own son, who is working such nocturnal hours that the only time I've seen him this week he's been horizontal.
But I always hear the door when he rolls in at 4am.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Mail me pink.

The bane of my life.
And this week has brought it all.

Addresses which don't match postcodes, addresses with no postcode at all...incomplete addresses, customers who change their addresses after payment...

And then there's the rural post office, with the antiquated scales that never match my own, consistently adding extra grams which cost extra pounds to post.

The grey fox currently AWOL in Seattle, and my apparent inability to match up the right parcels with the right labels after midnight, resulting in BluePeter-esq deconstructions with the packaging.

BUT -on the plus side - the ironing board has never been so useful, and I'm completely in love with the pink mailing bags!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The big wheel and eternal lure of the fairground.

There's something about the fairground.
Daytime, dusk or night, scratch below the grime and tackiness and there's a magical quality.

As a child it was special.
The smell of the candyfloss we were never allowed, the rationed rides... the imagery.

As a teenager it acquired a dangerous edge, with a magic all of its own.
The first time I went on the big wheel my bag was open, spraying change like confetti onto the people below.

On SdotYam it symbolised 50 years of independence.
I still remember the sheer terror of being unceremoniously shoved off the laundry roof on a zipline.
And this time there was unlimited candyfloss. 
Alongside unlimited jugs of wine.

SdotYam, 1990.
Willie and Victor.

With a small child it was always the ghost train and carousel, and as the mother of a grown up son I  find myself drawn back to the strong imagery of the big wheel.


Now, I like the fairground as it's just waking up, and prefer my photos devoid of people cluttering up the foreground!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A tornado of fluff in the run up to Christmas.

The floor.  Oh my goodness - the floor!
It's as if a tornado has whipped up all the cotton and fabric and paper scraps and displaced them at random.
So many foxes, so little space!

In three years I have never been this busy; sleep has taken a back seat, the sewing machine has acquired a solid coating of fluff around the bobbin and the overused printer has been sworn at and loved in equal measure. 
I have learned that working after midnight is decidedly dodgy.
Labels on wrong parcels, heads sewn on upside down, over indulgence of chocolate...

Thank goodness for a fantastic courier and a post office at the top of the road.
Alongside marmite and Vintage TV.

Christmas can wait.
It will be a last minute panic which I'm refusing to think about until a week before.
Plenty of time...

I seem to be developing a bah humbug attitude towards Christmas.
I love the smell of the Christmas tree, mince pies, fairy lights and The Pogues Fairytale in New York.
I have an aversion to the abundance of Christmas tat in the shops.

Gone are the days of large family get togethers; Christmas day has become more fragmented.
It is also the first year that my son will be working.
He officially graduated last week and I'm very proud.
Although he has yet to master the washing up bowl.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Does wacky equal batty??? Surely not!

According to Google, that font of all knowledge, the dictionary definition of wacky is odd or irrational; crazy.
I prefer eccentric.
Certainly my dress sense has been described as veering on wacky on various occasions, but Friday evening, it seemingly rendered me batty.

Standing at the bus station waiting for a worryingly late night bus, I appeared to be labelled as batty and hard of hearing.
Amazing how a few drinks make everyone an expert.
And Swansea bus station by night appears to be batty central.

I voiced my worry about making a connection from the still to arrive night bus.
Big mistake.
The conversation went like this:

Expert:  No connection at Gowerton, dear, you can't get to Gower on this bus.

Me:       Oh yes I can, there's a connection at Gowerton.

Expert:  You're on the wrong bus love, you want the 116.

Me:        In daylight yes - at night, it's this bus.

Expert in loud voice to wife: See that girl, she's waiting for the wrong bus, she thinks this one goes to Gower.

Expert to me:  And where does the connection start from then, you want the NAT bus, the 116,  it starts here.               

Wife of expert:  Are you sure you want Gower?

By now I was losing the will to live.
Thankfully the bus did turn up.
As did the connection- all the way to Gower.

Fancy that...

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Rural hibernation, an aversion to Christmas and the luminousity of pea and ham soup.

If I could sum up this week in three words they would be hibernation, bah-humbug and flight.
Hibernation as I have an aversion to winter.
Bah-humbug as Christmas just winds me up.
And flight as I've got definite itchy feet.
So, with radiators on full and the television switched firmly off I am blocking out the Christmas adverts and immersing myself in Liberty Lawn.

There is something very soothing about Liberty Lawn.
The timeless quality; chintz versus bold prints interspersed with  paisley riots.
My own personal favourites are the Susanna range of modern florals and the delicate paisley print below.
It's going to be a fox.
With textured wool accents.

No fabric in Cardiff yesterday.
Oh no.
Having fled the grey drizzle of Gower for the retail therapy of Cardiff it was on the agenda, but I was seduced by furry boots and Hotel Chocolat.
Can you ever have too many furry boots, particularly when they are furry sheepskin?
And as for Hotel Chocolat - well, it saved on postage.

This has been a week when I've rediscovered pea and ham soup but am still in search of my baking mojo.
It's all in the colour.
That luminous green, the radiant purple of the onion and the smokiness of the gammon.
The fact that it tastes amazing is an added bonus!

It has also been a week when I've found myself pondering on the dismissiveness that comes so effortlessly to my 22 year old son.
I happened to pick up the phone to his boss while he was out.
The text I later received read: 
Yes I can see no problems.
 Please don't answer/speak in future.
Hope you've had a nice day!

The word git sprung to mind...

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Dear Diary...Tuesday 17th December 1991. Numb.

7.30pm, nursing a large coffee and the after effects of cheap plonk at The Israel Museum.
And numb.

Thankyou, Bo, for lifting my mood this afternoon over red wine and crisps.
And for overseeing the babyfeet card, which probably shouldn't have been written with a wine fuzzled head.
The waffling expanded away from the straight lines...
As did Bo's walking when I waved her off at the hitching post.

Today is my last full day in Israel, fitting really that it should be Jerusalem.
But I'm numb to the core.
Each and every time I've come to Israel I've known I'd be back, but this time is different.
It feels so final.
And it wasn't meant to be like this.

Yesterday I left SdotYam.
My safety net.
Willie organised a brilliant farewell party the night before, where I broke my no drinking rule in truly shocking style, getting really drunk, and had a great time.
So many people were there, and then there were the ones who weren't, who we visited anyway!

A last walk on the beach, with Bo, Michael, four legged Jessica and I have no idea who the other two were, and a farewell coffee with the wonderful Yosi Seri. 
Max was passed out in my room - I had to prod her awake to say goodbye, then Bo, before waiting for my lift, and it was there, all alone with Jessica at my feet and the sun rising, that I broke down and cried.
It was tough.

Back in Jerusalem, after lugging an overflowing rucksack through the soggy back streets, The Jasmine was eerily silent.
Letting myself in, I was suddenly ankle deep in water, and it was deserted.
Best laid plans...
Luckily, the King George didn't require flippers, so I dumped my stuff, pocketed the card and, after wandering round aimlessly to put off the inevitable, I found myself at the door of the one place I knew I had to go.
Full of nerves, apprehension and the urge to run I eventually managed to knock the door.

And no-one answered.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Not just a cat.

I have two cats.
Tomorrow, the eldest will be 12.
Having adopted her from a cat charity eleven years ago, no-one knew her exact age but this was the birthday we gave her.

Semi feral, nervous and skittish, she has never forgotten her alley roots.
A three kilo diva - to me and Josh loving and faithful, to anyone else a hissing cobra.
And tomorrow she will be going under anaesthetic to remove numerous blunt yellow teeth.
I feel guilty and apprehensive.
Very apprehensive.
Her name is Suki.

I've never left her at the vets before.
Despite her petite stature, nervous disposition and blunt teeth she appears to have been labelled as vicious, with vets requiring rottweiler gloves.
She won't be cooperative tomorrow.
And I won't be able to concentrate on anything until she is safely through the operation.

Josh is 22.
They chose each other.
At the cat homing fair, they bonded in the pen.
While I looked around, Josh refused to budge from Suki's pen, with Suki at his side, hissing at any cat daring to unsurp her.

Suki has seen him through school, sixth form and university.
She's been here through the arguments, laughter, and traumas.
Through Gibraltar and empty nest syndrome.
Through battles at work, Australia and readjusting.
She's empathetic, intelligent and very special.

Although maybe with less teeth she won't be rehoming as many baby rats.
I won't miss the rats.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Sidetracked by a 1940s writing bureau. The lost art of letter writing.

Today was supposed to be a grocery day.
I returned with a 1940s writing bureau.
Much more appealing than teabags and carrots, and far too lovely to leave languishing in a charity shop.
It's being delivered on Friday.

So much history in such a small piece of furniture.
The well worn leather on the writing surface, the tiny compartments...the secret drawer.
As a child I was fascinated by my great grandmother's bureau.
So many magic drawers and random treasures...the pitted leather, the inkwell - the stashed mars bars!
And this little bureau brought these memories flooding back.

Gamsie, my great grandma.
Whatever happened to letter writing?
Do children still write thank you letters at Christmas, or has technology taken over, with those impersonal round-robin emails and e-cards.
I can't remember the last time I had a proper letter drop through my letterbox - or even a postcard.
Bills and junkmail aplenty, but not one, solitary letter.
However, I am just as guilty, having sent just two letters myself in the last few years, one to an older relative in Australia, the other to a not-so-old friend in Israel who has yet to embrace the internet.

I will be storing fabric in my bureau, alongside dusty old diaries, cards and virtual good intentions to rediscover the lost art of letter writing.
Although maybe not with a fountain pen - being a leftie I could effortlessly smudge the ink across the page and up my arm, but rollerballs...I can do rollerballs!

Love my old letters!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

London. My fix of urban sanity.

Urban sanity.
Sometimes, I need reminding that London is just four hours away.
Particularly when Autumn turns soggy, and Gower is shrouded under a grey mist.

Ahhh,  Paddington.
My gateway to London, a very special station.
Yesterday was spur of the moment, an impulse trip brought on by a desire to be back on Brick Lane and to rediscover the galleries round London Bridge.
It also brought me back to Norfolk Square, and a meeting with the lovely Mike, partner of Masato.
I love working studios - the mood boards, works-in-progress, sketches - the tactile fabrics and artistic chaos.
It's inspiring.  And very different to my last visit to Norfolk Square.

My last visit to Norfolk Square was back in 2003.
My son was 11 years old, and we'd spent the day at Wimbledon, after a night under canvas in the Wimbledon queue.
Having missed the last train back to Swansea we were traipsing round Paddington in search of a cheap hotel, and mistakenly ended up at The Continental, which appeared to be charging by the hour, although I didn't realise at the time.
The first room we were offered had a plastic sheet flapping in the breeze at a window with no glass, leading on to a shared balcony.
On closer inspection, the room sharing our easy access balcony appeared to contain an unconscious man, lying on a bed surrounded by bottles...
 Needless to say we didn't stay in that room, but we did spend an interesting night at the hotel, with a chair wedged against the door!

Norfolk Square has been cleaned up, but The Continental is still there.
It now has glass in its windows.

I can thoroughly recommend the Fashion and Textile museum at London Bridge.
The knitwear exhibition is inspiring, and reintroduced me to Body Map.
Body Map!  Now there's a blast from the past...I'd forgotten about Body Map.
Body Map were my obsession during that first year at Art School - loved the photography, the strong could I possibly have forgotten Body Map!

                                          I'm now going to research all things Body Map.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Dear diary...Tuesday 29th October 1991. Avoidance and denial.

Nearly 9pm and I couldn't concentrate on the film.
I have absolutely no idea what it was about, can't even remember the title.
I can't concentrate on anything at the moment; my mind's all over the place and  I'm not sure how long I can keep this up.
Watering the grass with alcohol, pretending to be drunk when I'm stone cold's an act and I'm not a good actress.

Mexico City is eerily quiet.
 So many people have left recently, and there's no sound anywhere.
Even the crickets are in hibernation, a reminder that I can't avoid things for much longer.
Max is out chasing her mission, Bo is watching the film and I could really do with talking to someone.
Someone other than Avi.

October 1991.  Bubble World

Oh my goodness, it was tough telling Avi.  He despises The Underground and all it stands for - funny really, as back in '86 he gave me his phone number on the back of an Amadeus flyer - he's my oldest friend in Israel, with the twinkliest eyes and biggest personality, but mention The Underground, or anyone in it, and he's off on one.
Which is why I found myself back in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon, wandering aimlessly up and down Ben Yehuda, to put off telling him.

It didn't go well - all the planning and rehearsals in my head, when it came down to it I burst into tears, it all came tumbling out and Avi disappeared into the night, thankfully not in the direction of The Underground.

The next day, his mother fed me meatballs.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The watery yellow of October and a prayer in a pinstripe pocket.

I love Autumn.
The colours, the crunch of leaves underfoot - the crisp chill in the air.
However, today was more soggy than crunch, shrouded in grey drizzle against the soundtrack of thunder.
A woolly tights and hot chocolate kind of day.

Stormy skies.  The view from my door.
Without exception my favourite fabrics are winter ones.

Wools and tweed and tactile blends.
On a charity shop trawl today I nearly bought a vintage pinstripe jacket to repurpose as a doorstop.
A beautiful jacket, but on rummaging through the pockets I found a prayer written on the back of a meter reading. Feeling slightly guilty at buying the jacket to rip up, I left it to find a better home.
As a not particularly religious person I'm not sure what it was about the prayer that stopped me - I'm usually quite ruthless when it comes to charity shop finds - but it was particularly touching.
I found myself wondering abut the man in the jacket.

So, minus the jacket but with pinstripe on my mind, my cushion-in-waiting is a snoozy woollen fox on a grey pinstripe.
Tactile and monochrome.



Sunday, 5 October 2014

Box envy. 5 things I've learned about packaging.


I have a love/hate relationship with packaging.
When it's all neatly packaged and ready to go I love it.
The process to get it to this point - not so much.
From the excitement of sending off that first order to wrestling with a sack of bulky objects in the rain, this is a list of things I've learned along the way.
 Before quoting a price for postage, weigh the item in the packaging it will be sent in.
And never under estimate the price of packaging materials.
The first item I sent was a doorstop.
I was so excited to get the order that I went completely overboard with packaging - tissue, ribbon, a beautiful floral box...all this before I even got to the outer wrapping!
Needless to say, it cost far more to post than I had bargained for.

My nemesis is cellotape.
I go completely overboard with the stuff...and when the package is cellotaped to within an inch of its life I   still find a place to add more!
What on earth do I think is going to happen to it?
Am I expecting it to be transported on a river?  Get left in the rain?  Have dubious liquids spilt on it?
There really is no need to use so much cellotape.
Reinforce the sides of the packaging, possibly a few more strips around it, then step away.
Overuse of cellotape is a habit I'm trying to break.

 Box envy.
 My items tend to be bulky, an awkward shape, or both.
 It is much easier to have a neat looking package if you are sending something small.
For many of my items, using a box would send the postage rocketing, so I use lightweight plastic wrapping, brown paper and lots of bubblewrap. Secure yes. Beautiful - maybe not.
And I am very envious of the neat little boxes I see in front of me in the Post Office queue.

 I firmly believe that the inner wrapping should be beautiful, but when it comes to the outer wrapping don't be afraid to recycle packaging materials.
 Not only is it better for the environment, it will also keep postage costs down - for you and the customer.
I am lucky to have access to a supply of strong plastic sheeting from my dad's factory unit, which is not only waterproof but lightweight aswell.
Many shops will be glad to off load their plastic sheeting as it would usually be sent for recycling.

 Midnight wrapping.
 When wrapping multiple orders, resist the temptation to do this after midnight.
 After a 2am wrapping spree the night before, with only jelly babies to keep me awake, I was on my way to the couriers when I happened to glance in my parcel sack, only to see two parcels with the same address!
An easy mistake to make when you're tired, but not so easy to rectify when the parcels are on their  way...
   And while I'm on the subject of pretty packaging - how beautiful is the packaging on this fabric delivery from Japan!


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Musing on 17. 1984, and the rocky road of adolescence.

Sitting on a bus today, musing on the ridiculous ''no travel on a Sunday'' curfew imposed by the resident bus company, I found myself wondering why I never learned to drive at seventeen.

To many people seventeen means driving lessons, a secondhand car and a new found sense of freedom.
My sister learned to drive, my brother learned to drive.

To me seventeen was, quite simply, The Year That Was.
Frankie goes to Hollywood, Top of the Pops 1984.

July, 1984.
I turned 17 on the 8th of July.
Frankie goes to Hollywood was ensconced at number 1 with Two Tribes, and my outfit of choice was a banana yellow jumpsuit.
With Boy George ribbons, too much makeup and very large earrings.

I was coming to the end of my first year at Art School and Cornwall was looming large.
That teenage milestone that is The First Holiday Without Parents.
In theory it was going to be a sedate cycling holiday.
The fact that I neither owned a bike nor rode one wasn't going to stop me.
In reality, the borrowed bike sat gathering dust and our Cornish cottage became Party Central.
Those eight days passed by in a flash.

And kickstarted a year of rebellion.

 July 1984 to July 1985 was a whirlpool of emotions.
Of angst and traumas and dodgy decisions.
Of unsuitable boyfriends, dubious friends and the ridiculous Cadillacs.
Of the unceremonious boot from the family home (albeit temporary) and subsequent dropping out of Art School.
Of various hotel jobs in Devon - in one particularly memorable pub I drew the line at ironing Y-fronts and was asked to leave!
And finally, coming full circle, returning to Sussex and finding an anchor at the airport.
The airport gave me stability.
And it sowed the seeds of kibbutz.

I will always be grateful to the man whose name I cannot remember, whose parting gift to me was that iconic backpackers bible of the 1980s, THE KIBBUTZ VOLUNTEER - how to become a kibbutz volunteer.

I wore that book out.
Which is probably why I never learned to drive.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

That September milestone.

Summer of 2014.
When you have children, September is a milestone.

Nursery, primary, secondary - each September heralds that unmissed alarmcall, a new class, a new set of challenges - a few weeks grace of books minus doodles, pens that work, hair that conforms.
And then comes University - only this time September brings mixed emotions.
An empty nest - a room devoid of socks rolled in cobwebs, trailing leads and rap.
Ah, rap - I will never love rap.
All the things that drive you up the wall, you miss.
Until four years pass, in the blink of an eye, and they boomerang straight back home!
Only now they're adults, and that's a whole new challenge.

This is the first September in 19 years that hasn't had the structure of an educational term.
And it's a learning curve...oh my oh certainly is!
I've got used to my own space, my now 22 year old son has got used to uni living.
Two very different worlds.

Summer of '93.
I never went to university.
Being distracted by many things I shouldn't have, I spent those years and beyond travelling.
When travel meant a rucksack, hitching and an out of date Lonely Planet guide.
And Kibbutz.
What self respecting travelling teen didn't end up on a kibbutz at some point in the 80s???
For me it was four, which brought lifelong friends, a sense of belonging and memories still vivid today.

Kibbutz was my university.

Summer of '88 - well, 21 is close enough to 22!
I'm wearing pink.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Fifty years of turquoise.

Today is the bank holiday that symbolizes the end of summer.
Cue the rain - torrents of grey drizzle and low slung clouds.
Quite predictable really.
Unlike the new Gower bus service, which yesterday involved the usual changeover in the middle of nowhere, this time accompanied by a driver emerging from the trees carrying a large, red towel.
The mind boggles.
Perhaps he was expecting a marauding bull.
I was expecting a driver in a bus.

But as I'd had a particularly fruitful vintage trawl I let it wash over me.
Along with the mysterious trail of straw decorating the bus floor.

Oh my goodness, the lure of 1960s vintage.
And oldie, oversized aran jumpers.
My new favourite dress, albeit in need of a freshen up, is a vision of turquoise crotchet.
Amazing to think it is around 50 years old.

We think of impulse buying as a modern habit, but judging by the unopened packets of bed linen at this particular fair, it appears to have been alive and kicking in the '60s and '70s too!

This week has been one of international vintage winging its way through the letterbox.
My fabric stash has been boosted by Swedish daisies and orange hearts.
And I am currently trying not to be seduced by some particularly wonderful french acropal, and a bevie of tins, but I don't hold out much hope.
I'm not sure what's happening to my willpower, but it appears to have vanished.

And as a footnote an update on the fifteen year old minature rose that I'd ignored and abandoned to the point of extinction - the power of banana skins has worked its magic!
Not only has it gone from sad brown stump to fresh green shoots, it is now a mass of minature blooms!
And all due to the humble banana skin...

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Cotton from a bygone era.

My increasing obsession with vintage has been fuelled by the abundance of seemingly upended sewing boxes in local charity shops, yet no sign of the original baskets or boxes they were sold in.
What happens to these boxes, a staple of family homes of a previous generation?
These would have been boxes of a certain age, handed down through generations, only to be discarded by the new throwaway generation.
A trawl  through revealed that while the UK may not appreciate these treasures from a bygone era, there are some truly beautiful wooden sewing boxes being sold in Poland, France .. Germany. All that history - all that darning!
And as for all those vintage wooden cotton spools...oh my goodness, these could be my latest obsession, plastic just doesn't cut it anymore!
So pretty, so full of history - my favourites are those from the Soviet Era, being sold in Ukraine, Estonia...Lithuania.
From a time - and a place - where everyone learned to sew, as very often there just weren't clothes to buy in the shops.
These worn and well used spools date from the early 1980s, and I love the idea of them living on in sewing projects more than three decades on!
A truly bygone era.

As is my latest doorstop, Patchouli.
She is a throwback to the early 1970s and resplendent in flower power.
In a previous life...a campervan curtain.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Whatever happened to make do and mend? The demise of the sewing box.

Today was a vintage trawl sort of day.
Of the traditional,rummage in a charity shop sort, and not the tip tapping over the internet, making dents in my bank balance with Finnish flower power. And London. Oohh, and not forgetting Slough...

Groovy mod daisies from 1960s Finland...oohh, yes!
It's been a while since I've done a proper charity shop trawl in Swansea.
Swansea not being renouned for its love of vintage, and a certain charity shop policy of binning 1970s d├ęcor for being old fashioned, whilst happily stocking nylon polyester.

However, Uplands did not disappoint.
By sheer coincidence I stumbled upon the very same (discontinued and gorgeous) fabric I'm working with at the moment, unused and a metre and a half in length, for the grand sum of £1!
A case of buyer's remorse, and my gain.

My next find was bittersweet.
Hidden away in a dark recess were the contents of a well worn and well used sewing box, now decanted into various cellophane bags.
Some of the buttons dated back to the 1950s, with many attached to their original cards.

I find it sad that the humble sewing box, once a staple of every household, seems to have no place in the modern home.
Indeed, the most popular sewing kit now appears to be the one that comes in a Christmas cracker.
With a hat and a joke.

Whatever happened to make do and mend?
We have become a disposable society, with basic sewing skills having no place in the overcrowded school curriculum.

But I did walk away with several cellophane bags from this once well used sewing box.
And the uncomfortable knowledge that my own well loved and well used sewing jars will one day suffer the same fate...

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The not so humble banana.

The banana.
Not only the most popular fruit in the world but chock full of healing qualities.
And a reviver of dead roses.

Having neglected an elderly miniature rose bush for more than fifteen years it finally gave up the ghost last month, with sweet pink roses replaced by rather dead looking shoots.
Potbound for all this time, with ever encroaching moss and weedy garlands, it had somehow managed to produce the sweetest roses, year after year.
Consumed with guilt and nostalgia for a plant that has acted as sentry by my door since my son was four foot tall with muddy knees I turned to banana skins - and a very large pot.
For three weeks I fed it discarded banana skins, draped elegantly over the compost, and now, a month later, I have fresh green shoots and a much healthier looking plant.

And a new found respect for bananas.

Having spent nearly a year on a kibbutz specialising in bananas in the dim and distant 1980s, I have always had a soft spot for bananas.  However, when it came to picking them I lasted just three days in the banana plantations of Ginosar, being particularly useless in all things agricultural and much more at home in the children's houses.
Perhaps it was the 4am tractor roll call, perhaps it was the ribbons and lace that were a permanent fixture in my hair, but me and bananas - we just didn't click.
But my friends did, and friendships were cemented over bananas.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Musing on time while doting on flowerpower.

If I had to condense my (rather large and ever expanding) fabric stash to just one decade it would be the 1960s.
Absolutely and without a shadow of doubt.
Although perhaps with a smattering of the 1970s thrown in for good measure.

The last two weeks has seen more than a few impulse buys of 1960s/70s flowerpower via the not so retro internet, including this gorgeous pair of groovy campervan curtains that I'm itching to turn into a sausage dog for the door.
Oh my goodness, I'm so in love with these!

...and closely followed by a beautiful 1970s ditzy floral cotton, staying with the lilac theme, that is en route to becoming a cluster of retro owls.

The first of these owls is Lavender Blue, a large owl cushion.
I love the contrast of the lilac against the powder blue of textured boiled wool.
Baby owls in progress.
And on the theme of times gone by, this has been a week when I've felt the passing of time.
Blink, and it's gone in a flash!  Not only was it my 47th birthday on the 8th, my 22 year old son informed me that I was the same age now as my mum was when I had him, and that I was entering grandparent territory!  Oh my goodness!!!  This is the son that I waved off to uni nearly four years ago, scalped by Catriona. A day I remember as if it was yesterday.  He graduated last week with a 2.1 in journalism and is now back home, complete with trailing leads and clothes, boxes and a mountain of shoes.  And a taste for Pimms.  In the bath. 
Leaving day.
Graduation.  Very proud.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Dear Diary, Wednesday 2nd October 1991. Tantrums and dramas, cream stone and marmite.

What is it about Jerusalem?
It reels you in, then draws you back over and over again, like a defective boomerang.
And this week - oh my goodness- crazy!

After an average pub on Friday (the Baker Boys have left a huge hole) and Caesarea with Sarah Shovel beforehand, it was back to Jerusalem on Sunday with Max and Mornay.
Mornay's never been to Jerusalem before, and looking back I'm not sure this was the Jerusalem he had in mind, as he's been walking round with this shell shocked look on his face since we got back!
But we did show him some sights, albeit hungover and in the Jerusalem heat.

Hitching down was great from the start - Max and I hid Mornay in the bushes to get a quicker lift and the first was via a pitstop in Caesarea, where they bought us beers.
A great lift, and we were sorry to leave them!

Back to The Jasmine, which was heaving, and I'd forgotten to ring beforehand, but never fear - they made up a bed in the kitchen and gave us a bottle of vodka :)
Eventually, very drunk, we staggered down to The Underground for Happy Hour, and watched Tom and Jerry before Max passed out on the table.
Propping her up between us, we somehow made it back to The Jasmine, but I knew she was too far gone to make it back at 11, and we had a HUGE argument, with Mornay acting as peacemaker.
I stormed off and went for a drink with Roni to calm down and it ended up as a really nice evening, in one of the side bars.

Back at The Jasmine, Max prodded me awake at some awful hour of the morning and we decided to stay another night and try again, before hitching back to SdotYam for work at 6am.
SO - argument resolved, hungover and vowing to stay on soft drinks all day we took Mornay on a tour of The Old City.
And threw in a few random visits to relatives and friends...
First there was Max's uncle, the vicar, who had MARMITE!  
Next there was Issy, but due to unforeseen circumstances that was a particularly short visit.
And finally, after climbing five flights of concrete steps on King George, after five years, there was Avi!  AVI!!!
Avi, my boyfriend from the summer of '86, who was so very patient when I was so very cross on that first day we met.
That first day, when I was in desperate need of a camera film when all the shops were shut.
He took me to the Old City to track one down and even donned an Arafat scarf to go into one of the Stations of the Cross.
We ended up staying all afternoon at Avi's - he had friends round and it was one big party - then Gizmo's and the Alexander Bar, before waving goodbye and heading for he Underground.
Avi was never a fan of The Underground, even when it was Amadeus.

Ahhh...The Underground.
And it was heaving!
Michael was there again, his twin was there, the music was good, the brothers were great and it was a brilliant evening...until 3am came and we had to hitch back for work.
In hindsight, we were way too drunk to hitch, but Mornay and I sobered up very quickly on our first lift.
Max had passed out on the back seat and the driver was taking corners at crazy speed with his feet on the dashboard.
I knew we had to get out, but we had to wake Max up first, an she was so furious at being dragged from the car that she stormed off to hitch on her own.
She'd got a lift before we could stop her and we spent the whole journey back worried about her, but arriving back she was there before us - passed out on her bed!!!

Working the laundry that morning...I kept nodding off on the ironing machine, and now, sitting on my bed the next day, I finally think I've recovered from a truly memorable, incredible 2 days in Jerusalem.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The not so humble daisy.

Forget florists, with their abundant display of exotic blooms.
Or hothouse cacti and high maintenance fauna.

No, my flower of choice is the humble daisy.
And if I had to be picky, the Michaelmas daisy.
Pure, simple beauty, but it has to be white.

Daisies.  A bee's eye view.

As a child I was fascinated with daisy chains, albeit with smaller daisies!
Now. I am developing a fascination with photographing them.

Last year it was the street art of London; before that it was squirrels.
Yep,  I'd say I'm quite obsessive.

I love the contrast of the translucent white petals against a cloudless blue sky.
The essence of a quintessential British summer - but without the ominous grey clouds.


I remember reading an article some years ago about changing career.
The writer had made the comment that if you found yourself in a career rut and unsure of a path to take you should cast your mind back to school and remind yourself of the subjects you most enjoyed.

For me it was creative writing - a path I've never pursued - and art - which I have since gone back to.
At Art School it was textiles, which I have always loved - and photography, which I never had the chance to develop, as this was the pre-digital age and prohibitively expensive.

I think the writer had a point.