Month: September 2011

What I won’t be doing today!

Guess what!

No washing up today, it will all be done for me at Urchfont Manor – with delicious food as well.  You’ll see the results of today’s colour experiments next week.  Hope you don’t mind waiting.

You can see where I am here.  Two of my bedroom windows can be seen on the top left, the other two look out over the other side.  I can assure you that you would be very jealous of my views!

How (or not) to accept (give) a compliment?

This blogging business is easy when prompts are handed to you on a plate!  Earlier I read this post by nrhatch, and I was instantly reminded of the following story.

When our children were small we lived in an ‘upmarket’ house in a ‘desirable’ area.  It had the right number of reception rooms, and bathrooms, and we had the statutory dog, well trained of course.  Yes, two children and ticking all the boxes long before there were boxes to be ticked.  Life was grand!  There were days when everything went really smoothly, and there were odd days that didn’t.  We had friends; they all ‘moved’ in the right circles, even our children had friends that ‘moved’ in the same way.

We lived in an area where  a number of people worked abroad.  For instance R and P worked in one of the embassies on the other side of the world.  The side of the world that still had servants in those days, and servants we didn’t have.  Their daughter was a delight, though, Juliet, and during holidays and other visits would come and play with our daughter, however we had never had the pleasure of entertaining R and P.

I want you to  imagine a scene.

Our sitting room was double aspect.  A window at the front, but also one on the side that overlooked fields.  We had woodblock flooring (yes, it was that long ago) which was well kept, with a rug or two suitably placed.  The front window was a bay, and strategically arranged was a collection of houseplants.  I was very good at growing houseplants, so they were dotted in various places around the room too.  It was obviously summer as there was a ficus on the hearth, if it had been winter it would have been in a different part of the room.  Cushions were well arranged on the sofa and chairs….. are you getting the picture?

So, what could happen to spoil this little idyll?

A cat!

An univited cat!

The window that overlooked the fields was open (I told you it was summer) and this very curious creature hopped in from a nearby tree.

This wouldn’t have been a problem, but if you recap a little you will see that I mentioned a dog….

A normally exceptionally well trained dog……


Cat sees dog and hisses

Dog sees cat and advances

Cat sees dog advancing and growls

Dog hears growl and decides that’s enough.  Dog heads for cat

Cat can’t find window

Cat can find window – the bay window

Plants fly, cat finds hearth, tries to escape through chimney

Dog follows cat

Ficus flies

Cushions float as if by magic onto floor as cat finds sofa, is followed by dog and the whole thing goes backwards

Rugs are making the whole situation worse because the woodblock causes them to slip and slide.

Children (both mine) scream and run, not frightened, just joining in, it seems like fun.

I can’t get to the door to open it as there is just too much mayhem.

Thankfully, I struggle across the room, ploughing through spilt soil, broken flower pots and damaged plants, into the hall.  The front door is finally opened, cat sees a way out so departs, well trained dog follows but  is recalled by a word of command (why hadn’t I thought of that before?).

Now I saw that someone was standing on the doorstep.  Yes, you’ve guessed it – P!

I invited her in, and before I could explain what had just happened she stepped into the sitting room

‘Oh, my dear, what a charming room……………………………………………..!’

(By the way, there were two posts today, here’s the earlier one)

A foot is a foot

Fashions change and things come and go.  The lives we live today are not the same as those lived by our parents.  For instance, entertaining is much less formal than it was.  Dressing for dinner probably now means popping a quick wrap over the bikini before going to a barbecue!

Appreciation of humour changes as one gets older.  The things that we found amusing as children are usually outgrown as our knowledge of language and life increases, but our memories can still amuse, even though we have outgrown the initial interpretation of a situation.

My parents often entertained.  Sometimes impromptu visits by friends just turned into parties without any planning, at other times invitations were issued, and all were well attended.  As teenagers my brother and I were allowed to attend, and were often invited to reciprocal occasions, so we knew the family friends well.  Some of them were colleagues from Dad’s job, others were neighbours and friends from nearby.  I’d like to introduce you to three, all of whom were a great source of amusement to us innocents..

Firstly, I’ll mention Peter.  He was a neighbour.  Sleeked down black hair, with an Errol Flynn moustache.  I didn’t like him, in retrospect I know why, but at the time it was just a question of black and white – and he was definitely ‘black’.  He was a peacock, and loved to be the centre of attention.  He also loved shoes.  Quite often he would wait until there was a lull in the conversation and then announce in a loud  voice ‘I’m wearing my new shoes today.  Do you like them?’  He would waggle a foot to make sure that everyone knew where his shoes were.  Sometimes they were leather: black, brown or patent, once they were white.  Suede was often the order of the day too: beige, brown or tan.  Some had laces, others were slip-ons or boots.  I didn’t know there were so many different sorts of mens shoes – and I’m sure he would have worn red or another colour if they had been available.  (I rather fancy he’d have worn stilettos too, given half a chance)

Next we will turn to Bill.  He was enormous.  Well over six feet in height, and proportionately built.  He lived a rather exotic life, travelling the world on holidays and investigating antiques and paintings.  He always had ‘it’ first.  If anyone announced that they had a new ‘anything’ Bill’s automatic response was ‘Oh yes, I’ve got a couple of those in the attic’.  He had a big house, but I have a feeling his attic was about the same size as Wembley Stadium.  I distinctly remember that he apparently even had a couple of barbecues up there!

Alf was as short as Bill was tall.  I doubt that he was five feet, and he too was proportionately built.  He was really down to earth, and these two men were probably my Dad’s best friends.  We saw them often, and I knew well that one was short and the other tall, but it was at one particular party that this fact really drove itself home.

The three men were sitting near each other, Peter on a settee, Alf on one chair and Bill on the chair next to him.  The three were engaged in some sort on animated conversation, but inevitably there was that conversational lull and Peter saw his moment.  The arrival of his new shoes was announced (laced suede boots) and all eyes turned towards them.  All except mine, that is.  You see, for the first time I had seen Bill’s feet next to Alf’s, and I got the giggles.  Bill was wearing size 14 brogues, whereas Alf sported a pair of black lace-ups in size 5.  The contrast was just too much and I collapsed in giggles.  Of course, everyone else thought I was giggling over the suede boots and I was joined by a few stifled giggles from some of the other guests.  Peter didn’t notice, he was too busy stroking the suede to notice, and Bill and Alf were blissfully unaware – as was everyone else.

I was reminded of this story a few days ago when I read this post.  Take a look, it’s worth it.


It’s nearly the end of September!  2011 is disappearing so fast.  I’ve really enjoyed posting every day, and hopefully I can continue.  Today I thought I’d share a favourite quote.

You may not recognise the full name of the artist, but Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso was born 130 years ago next month.  His work has been the subject of much controversy, and some of it is still difficult to understand.  However, he was an artist in the true sense, and his work often had a message.

Apart from his art, however, he has left us with many quotes, and I’d like to share just a few of them with you today.

‘All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up’

‘Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone’

‘Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility.’

‘The chief enemy of creativity is “good” sense.’

‘We don’t grow older, we grow riper.’

;Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? no. Just as one can never learn how to paint.’

This last one is my favourite.  I have also found it to be relevant to my own work.

‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.’

Do you have any favourite quotes?  I’d love to hear them.

Cold hands – warm heart and Weekly Photo Challenge – Fall

So, Friday was the first day of autumn.  Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.  Indeed, the fruit is in abundance, but thankfully no mist yet, although we may encounter some on our trip over Salisbury Plain today

Ironically, it was also the day that I woke with cold hands.  This may not appear to have any great significance, but I ‘suffer’ from  Reynaud’s Syndrome, and cold hands are certainly part of the way of life.

On most days there is no visible difference, but on others the ends of my fingers turn blue, and I already have some of the lines described in Wikipedia.  I inherited it from my mother, and my daughter has it too.

Cold hands shrink.  My rings don’t stay on.  Cold hands are also difficult to move at times – and they send a very cold shiver down anyone that they touch!  If I wake with cold hands they can take a minimum of 2 hours to become slightly warm, and sometimes, they are just as cold when I go to bed.  In the depths of winter I sleep with gloves on, cotton gloves, and it always feels odd for the first few times, but I’m so thankful for them after a while.  I have to make sure that my hands are below my heart when sleeping as this is another factor in keeping them warm.  I must have had the problem for a very long time before being diagnosed.  I remember my poor long-suffering DH complaining on many occasions as we packed for our summer holiday.  I wouldn’t leave the house without my gloves!  Yes, leather gloves go with me wherever I go – even in warm weather.  I stopped becoming self-conscious about this many years ago.

The phrase I’ve used as my title has long been used.  I remember people commenting on the temperature of my touch and responding with it, and it has become part of personality.  However, Yale have totally disproved it!  So, I’ll leave you with the thought that I’m either lying about the temperature of my hands, or I have a very cold heart…… it’s up to you to decide.  Oh, and don’t worry, I won’t even begin to mention my cold feet…….

Belated birthday greetings

Yesterday would have been the birthday of my late mother-in-law.  She gave birth to my DH very late in life, so would have been well over 100.  She was a very kind and generous lady.  Her heart was big, and she adored her family.  Her grandchildren gave her enormous pleasure, and I know she would be proud of the way they have grown up.  Two of her great-grandchildren will remember her, but she never knew the littlest ones.

Her garden was the epitome of an English garden.  I remembered that when I walked through ours this morning and saw the michaelmas daisies.  There was an abundance of them close to the rear garden path, and at this time of the year it  was sometimes a battle to walk along it.  Their seedheads stayed all winter, giving visual texture to the corner, but annoying DH and his brother as this meant even more to battle through next year!

As a teacher for many years she certainly made her mark.  I have met a number of people who remember her at school, all of them remember her as a disciplinarian with a big heart.  She would not tolerate bad behaviour, but would always look further than the immediate incident before handing out suitable remonstration. She could be a dragon when she wanted to be, and this instilled a certain amount of respect into her pupils.  She finally retired at 70 when her first grandchild was born!  She had her last request as a supply teacher at the age of 86.  They certainly made that generation of strong stuff.

Happy Birthday Mum, we miss you and talk about you often.


A change is as good as a rest!

You may have noticed that the blog layout changed overnight.  I’ve been trying to find the perfect layout for a while, but somehow there was always something wrong with each one that I chose.  I’ve settled on this.  I hope you like it, and I’ll be grateful for any input that is appropriate.

However, do you also notice that WordPress has changed?  The little icons along the top are different, and it is even more simple and straightforward to navigate through the various options that are available.  As always change takes a while to get used to, but I really like the changes so far.

Yesterday I was notified that this blog has been reviewed by the Kindle Blog Report.
Now in all honesty I didn’t know that there was such a thing until a short while ago.  I knew about the Kindle, obviously, but not the blog report.  There’s a link in the sidebar, too, and if you would like to read the report you can do so here.  Thank you for the affirmation.  There are some interesting blogs over there, so do dip in when you have time.

Painting with Paper

Two posts for the price of one today, if you missed the first it’s here and it gives you another glimpse into my family.  There’s an interesting and sad story there, so do take a look.

This post shows an interesting technique that I often use either to start, or for a whole project.  I hope you will find it interesting, and that it might inspire you.

Sometimes a delicate ehereal background is needed at the start of a project.  That’s when I will use paper to paint!

You’ve seen my collages made with my hand-dyed paper, here’s one that you may well have already seen

I use a variety of papers, sometimes ‘found’ ones, but mostly my hand dyed.  Here’s another you may have seen that used found and dyed papers

Sometimes a dyed paper is oversaturated with dye.  I can do this intentionally, and then I get two for the price of one.  That’s what I did here

This is just pigment that has been transferred to background paper, in this instance watercolour.  The original dyed paper is then put safely to dry and can be used for collage etc on another day.  It won’t give another print, so the above is an ‘original’.  More colour can be added too

Yes, that’s tissue I’m using, and you can see how it changes during the process.  Let’s peel it back and see what happens

Pale and interesting!  A very interesting surface can be built up in this way.  It’s a bit ‘hit and miss’ until you get to grips with the technique, but it’s almost the ultimate recycling of art materials.

Here’s the page so far.

If you want to create your own papers for collage or anything (they are wonderful for scrapbooks too) I teach an online course that you can start at any time.