Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Yes, yes, yes - no - maybe - yes :) Taking the plunge on a long established dream.

A month ago I completed a craft fayre at the local Temple.
I took the grand total of £5 in two days.
Not entirely unexpected, as it was a craft fayre I did every year out of loyalty, but definitely my last.
Furtively leaving the hall on the second day, I stumbled upon a beautiful gift shop I'd known about but never actually ventured into.
The biggest surprise was that I already knew the lovely owner, but then, this is the backend of Gower, where everyone is connected in some way!
I left the shop having secured three shelves to rent for stock, which more than compensated for the craft fayre with no footfall.

Two weeks later, I was offered the shop as a buyer!

For many years I have dreamed of owning my own shop, but dismissed it as a pipedream.
This had the potential to be reality.
I fell in love with everything about the shop, from the quirky potential to the weedy garden and the Belfast sink serving as a hand basin.
I measured the door and in my head I can see workshops and whicker and signage and a large oval table that may have to be forced through the door frame like an elephant through the eye of a needle.
I've made a cursary search of the mundane things like surveyors and solicitors and insurance, all things I've manage to avoid for a lifetime.

And while my heart screams yes, yes, yes, my head occassionally whispers no - maybe - yes - no - maybe!

Maybe I can really do this.

It could be a very interesting month.
And maybe, just maybe, dreams can become reality...

Friday, 14 October 2016

Sales nil, caffeine high. Pineapple cream and pensions.

When it comes to rash decisions to spend hours upon hours skulking in a draughty temple for a craft fayre that no one attends, I wonder at my judgement.
And why I ever expect it to be different.
Next year, I get tough.
This year, I'm jaded.
Day one....sales nil, footfall fickle.
Footfall aplenty for the free buffet and wine, only to dissipate to nothing after the last mince pie had been consumed.
Thank goodness for the free wine.
Day 2.
Today is the grey brigade of lovely old ladies looking for coffee, company and gossip.
But not lovely old ladies wishing to spend.
Looking around, I am opposite jewellery for a pound and decoupage cards reminiscent of the 1980s.
The stall next door is selling hand crafted wooden bowls for £5 and another has cross stitch toilet roll covers.
I had no idea people still cover toilet rolls.
More to the point, WHY do people cover toilet rolls?
The 79 year old man on the next stall has spent a full 15 minutes standing in my space peering at me stitching a fox.
Before that he was putting my tea cosies on his head.
I'm ignoring him.
Thank goodness for coffee on demand.
Today I will be free wheeling on caffeine.
And as an added bonus I have discovered that pineapple and cream makes a fabulous cake and will be pilfering the recipe.

Will I do it again?
Absolutely, definitely not!

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.

Friday, 27 May 2016

That neighbourly feeling...

New neighbours.
After 15 years of an eccentricly lovely, but largely invisible upstairs neighbour, followed by a month of pic n mix, swiftly curtailed by an eviction notice and five months of emptyness, it appears I am about to get new neighbours.

New neighbours.
Now that's going to take some getting used to, and I'm rather dreading it.
Mabe we get less tolerant as we get older, or more protective over personal space, but I've got used to being selfishly terretorial over two gardens, two washing lines and an ever encroaching vegetable patch.
Oh my!

Home at Sdot Yam.

Beverley Hills, Sdot Yam.
24 years ago I arrived in Llanrhidian direct from an Israeli kibbutz, via a two month stopover at my parents and a dubious hostel.
I'd never lived in a village before.
To say it was a culture shock is putting it mildly, but I grew to appreciate it.

Kibbutz life meant a constant turnaround of neighbours from every corner of the world.

For a while we eagerly anticipated every new arrival, relishing the parties, new faces and scandal, before becoming jaded with the constant turnover and settling into a core group.
A core group that was particularly territorial about sharing rooms.

Which is how I now feel about sharing gardens!


Friday, 20 May 2016

For the love of vintage.

In a world of Ikea flat packs and chipboard my love of vintage is growing.
Unlike my home, which could do with a larger workspace.
Or my will power, which could do with brakes.
But I really did need that statuesque 1970s cabinet to store my vintage fabric.
And I couldn't possibly leave the beautiful 1930s side unit, with the handle carved in the shape of a rose, to languish under a box of vinyl in a charity shop...
The British Red Cross, Oxford Street, Swansea.
Fast becoming my favourite shop.
And responsible for my shopping list looking something like this...bread, milk, table, chocolate, chair, wardrobe.
And a delivery service better than any other shop or department store.
There's something rather wonderful about old furniture.
The real wood, the history...the remnants of decades old lining paper.
And as for glass jelly moulds - my impulse buy of choice, and great for storage in the bathroom.
It's probably a good thing they don't stock vintage haberdashery or I'd be there every day!
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But for vintage fabric, there's always Ebay, with its array of wonderful, tactile vintage wools.
I love vintage wool.
My most recent purchase was a 1980s suiting wool, which was perfect for a long cat draught excluder.
He's called Jasper.

And now I'm off to Swansea to fill my fridge via the inevitable pull of the British Red Cross.
Because I could really do with another wardrobe...

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Blame Game.

14th February.

The traditional day of hearts and flowers, romance and gestures.
This year, it also marked the end of a year which has opened my eyes to the self absorbed world of addiction and denial, depression fallout and frustration at being unable to help.
Yes, I fell for someone with enough baggage and issues to floor an elephant.

I learned that addiction and denial go hand in hand.
That addiction, denial and depression feed off each other.

I learned that you cannot help someone who doesn't want to be helped.
That a large part of denial is The Blame Game.

And I realised I had to let this person go.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Suki. 12 years of furry bonding, seeing me through muddy knees to Canary Wharf and everything in between.

Ex feral from the lean mean streets of Neath, and adopted many years ago in September 2003.
Now age 13, a diva in retirement, with forgetful episodes.
Still sassy, but taking life at a slower pace.
And not loving wet feet, which will please the local birds and mice, but for me it's tinged with sadness, as it comes with the realisation that she is aging.

Suki came into my life when my son was 11, and in his first year at Secondary school.
They bonded in the pen, with Josh refusing to leave unless we adopted Suki, and Suki hissing at any other cat that dared to approach.
Now, Josh is 23 and swapping rural Wales for Canary Wharf at the end of the month.

Suki has seen me through many changes, from muddy knees and trailing leads to Australia and disturbed nights, through uni and empty nest syndrome, traumatic and difficult times at work, Gibraltar and now the lure of London.
Along the way she has accompanied me to work, escorted me to bus stops, climbed up and down hills to set up Art Clubs and claimed the whole village as her territory.

Still at my side; intuitive, special, and I love her to bits.