Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Enchanted Enid.

Before I embark on my newest witter can I just say a heartfelt thank you from mum and myself for the lovely comments left on my last post. She's had a 'bit of a time' of it lately but the pacemaker is now in and we are expecting cartwheels in no time at all. 

Now this post could be divisive. I'm aware that Enid Blyton isn't everybody's cup of tea and from recent evidence she probably isn't someone who I would want to have met but - oh - those books of hers!

From the earliest age I always had my nose in a book but as I try to remember which ones they all come up Enid. 

My favourite had to be this one.


Never mind the dandy outfits the fact was there was a wood that was inhabited by fairy folk, and - this was the best bit - the animals talked! 

A talking bunny - every eight year old girls dream?

Reading that bit back I realise I've used the word 'fact' there - to me this place was real!

The wood was home to a magical tree that transported the children to faraway lands where adventures were waiting. Some lands were more desirable than others. For example in Birthday Land you just had to wish for something and it would appear, whereas Dame Slap's school was a terrifying place. But to me the tree itself was as magical as the lands. You could travel down Moonface's slide that ran from top to bottom, or sit on a branch and share fresh home made biscuits with Silky the fairy.


I'm going to share something with you now that I don't condone - in fact it's something I've railed against all my adult life - but look what I did ...


... I wrote all over the inside cover! Several times it seems!! Oh dear. But it was my 'best book' and obviously I had to mark that in some way! I even marked the contents page each time a chapter was read.


I don't think Enid would have approved.

The back covers of these books had a tempting array of 'rewards' which I used to pore over and covet.


From fairy woods I moved on to a slightly more 'grown up' version with 'The Children of Cherry Tree Farm'.

Following the same premise a city dwelling family go to stay with their country relations and soon find that a whole host of adventures await in the woods. In a timely situation that we probably wouldn't conceive of in this day and age, the children befriend a local wild man, Tammylan, who then teaches them about the local flora and fauna.


Alongside them I also learned. I remember reading that a very comfortable bed could be made out of moss and heather, and that a 'slow worm' was neither slow nor a worm but actually a legless lizard! In the days before t'internet Enid provided valuable information to a young nature lover like myself.


I continued with 'The Naughtiest Girl series followed by Malory Towers. Tales of independent young gals who sorted out right from wrong at their respective boarding schools. 


Then came the Famous Five and, my preferred crime solving gang, the Secret Seven. Alongside these were The Put-Em-Rights and The Mystery of ... series. 

Most of Enid's tales were based around children. They seemed to exist in a separate world to the adults (sadly something which her own children experienced only too well) but with strength of character and camaraderie anything was possible. As a young girl this was perfect escapism and encapsulated an innocence that has seemingly diminished in our technical age. (Although saying that I'd still like to think there were fairy folk at the bottom of the garden!)

I'm going to return to the talking animals now and leave you with a final word from Topsy.


Jane
xxx

You can find out more about the books here, and more about Enid herself here.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Catch up!

You'd think that my excuse for being absent for such a long time might be really interesting. Perhaps I've been hiking the Himalayas or rescuing rare sloths from the forests of Peru. In that case I must apologise. Life at the moment has just quietly been slipping by and before you know where you are it's the middle of August. 


Summer holidays always mean particular things for us. All year we'll discuss things that might need doing in the house and happily put it on our 'to do in the holidays' list. This allows us to feel like we are actually addressing certain issues in a methodical manner without actually lifting a finger. Needless to say the list is never finished. But we have been busy decorating. Want to see?


This is my favourite bit at the moment. Or at least it was until Mum told me it was the same colour as a double yellow line. And yes the picture is a bit dark and a bit wonky but I was trying to focus whilst sitting on the piano. Poor Jessie dog didn't know what was happening. I suppose I should have closed the lid first.
I don't have a photo of our living room but that's now a lovely sash red - strangely making me look forward to cold Winter days when we can light candles and have a crackling fire! And then there's the perennial glossing - yawwwwwwwwwwwwn.

Back to Summer!

We've had a fair few day trips. Last week we visited Biddulph Grange in a vain attempt to actually make use of our National Trust membership. It was beautiful. 


This bit however is always my favourite.


Although feeding the fish was a close second!


We also enjoyed a trip to Ludlow which took us through the most stunning Shropshire scenery. I thought of  the lovely Dorothy as we passed the turn for Blists Hill. We bought sweet peas from the market - aaaaah the fragrance - frequented the charity shops (for that is the law), and wandered along past the castle to the river. I wish I could show you the pictures but no - they are stuck on my little iPad thing and I haven't got a clue how to get them off. They are very nice though! 

 Back home the obligatory holiday jigsaw is taking up the kitchen table.


Anyone else enjoy a good jigsaw? Mr K is baffled by them and can not understand why you would spend so much time putting something together that ultimately gets taken apart again!

 And crochet? Ah yes there has been a little of that. Inspired by Jennifer I decided to make a start on the Flowers in the Snow blanket. Now bear in mind that my half finished king size ripple is approaching it's third birthday you might have thought that I would concentrate my efforts on getting that finished but no - not me - I delved into my stash and happily started crocheting little round flower things.


Only one hundred and fifty to go!

Other than that there isn't much more to report. Poor old mum hasn't been too well and is waiting for a pacemaker, and poor old Jessie dog is still struggling with her arthritis. But we're lucky - some of the news stories of late serve to prove that.

So there we go. An uneventful catch up perhaps but a catch up nonetheless!
Hopefully next time there might be something more exciting to report.

In the mean time - what would you do with this marrow?


Jane
xxx

Monday, 14 July 2014

Touching base.

I'm here.

Busying about. 

Getting on with this and that. 

Seeing out the school year and all that entails. 

Enduring a creative block which is always frustrating - not for lack of time but more lack of oomph. 

But holidays are around the corner and hopefully they'll inject a bit of life back into this slipshod old blogger. 

I do miss you all and look forward to getting back into the swing soon enough.

Until then here's a pretty picture.


Jane
xxx

Sunday, 29 June 2014

When is a mandala not a mandala?

I so enjoyed Jacquie's mandala pattern over here that once one was finished I immediately started another.

But this time I couldn't stop.


I carried on, round after round, just adding extra stitches where necessary to keep the shape.


Trying to be random with the colour selection but in truth doing a little bit of fretting and changing around.


Not worrying about those stray ends.


Decreasing now to form an edge.


Until the end was in sight.


Et voila!


When is a mandala not a mandala?
When it's a hat for a stool!


You like???


Jane 
xxx

P.S. has anybody heard anything about a bloggers get together at Yarndale? I believe Lucy mentioned something on a post but I can't seem to find it. If not I think it could be a fab thing to do - any takers???

P.P.S. I've been a bit quiet over here of late but thinking about you all - looking forward to catching up with your blogs asap!

P.P.P.S. And a big hug to one and all - whether you need it or not!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Come into the garden Maud ...

... and wear a pretty frock.
Or at least that's what Tennyson might have said had he had access to the 'Kate' dress sewing pattern from Sew Me Something.

It originally came to my notice being modelled by the gorgeous Gilly over at Gilly Makes. Then she made a couple more and each time I was thinking hmmmm, yeeeeessss, maayyyybeeee. And then - whaddayaknow - old Lazy Daisy Jones goes and makes one as well. Two extremely talented ladies, a supposedly 'easy' frock pattern and a spare Sunday in the offing was all it took.

After the strangest conversation with the salesperson at our local fabric store (in which she relayed a rather intimate dream as I was pondering the cotton poplin) I sped home and started my least favourite sewing job - cutting out.

But once that was done it was plain sailing. The pattern is simple to follow and soon comes together. The only bit I struggled with was getting the neck to fit the binding, but with a little encouragement (and to be fair a minor bit of puckering) 'twas complete!

The following evening saw me wafting down the canal with Mr K attempting to take whimsical pictures of my newest make. Oddly when I scanned through they were all either overexposed or blurred. Now I remember seeing a horror film once where that happened and I must say I was more than slightly spooked, so this evening I felt it was only right to try and rectify the situation. Out came Maud.


Perhaps you can understand my frustration here. The evening light was glorious - everything glowed - but my poor old frock looked washed out. 

Time for a close up to fully appreciate the fabric.


Aaah yes that's better - even with a bit of puckering!

The gathered sleeves and pockets add a bit of interest.


And I did a double row of topstitching down the back seam   - just for the heckity heck of it.


All in all I'm thrilled with the result. 

I've even worn it for work. Adding a floppy sunhat and bursts of 'We Plough the Fields and Scatter' seemed appropriate as I bustled up and down the busy corridors - curtailed only by the look on a poor eight year old's face as he turned the corner to face me. Poor boy.

But I do like it so. And I want to make more. Lots more.
I just need to find a helpful fabric elf to do the cutting out.

Hugs to all of you,
Jane.


xxx

Monday, 9 June 2014

A Maud, a make and a mandala!

First Maud. 
A belated birthday present from Mr K. 
Here she is in all her glory.


Or should I say her birthday suit! 
Pretty roses all around.


But Maud! Where are your manners? Clothe yourself immediately!


Aha - I see you have chosen my latest make (did you see what I did there?!)


A tunic from The Great British Sewing Bee book  - the first series. Yes that's how long it's taken me.

But what's over there on yonder table?
Don't tell me ... it isn't ... you can't have?
You have! You've succumbed to mandala mania!


Destined for Yarndale and using the Petal and Puffs tutorial over at the very talented Bunny Mummy's blog here.


What fun!

Hold on - I sense mischief.
Hello Birdy, what can I do for you today?


You're hungry?
Oh dear - I don't think I have anything for you.
What's that - you've spotted some worms?


You haven't.
You're not going to...
BIRDY!!!


Jane
xxx

P.S. Some of us bloggers are going to meet up at Yarndale - anyone else going?



Saturday, 7 June 2014

Belonging

Have you ever felt that you truly belong somewhere? Like at some point in the past you must have lived in a place that became such a part of you that years have not faded the link? Mr K has always felt a pull towards the sea. Now this one is easy to understand as he spent his childhood up on the North East coast of England. But as for me? My first few years were spent in the glorious seaside town of Hoylake on the Wirral peninsula. From there we moved several times - usually to modern houses on the outskirts of small towns. All very lovely and all with their fair share of greenery but nowhere that I could particularly say I felt rooted.
So why then, last week when Mr K and I ventured forth to somewhere completely new to both of us, did I immediately feel at home? 

Consall Forge first came to my attention via the lovely Rosie at Corners of My Mind. Set in the Churnet Valley in Staffordshire it turned out to be only half an hour away and yet we'd never heard of it before. As we approached, the verdant narrowing lanes set the scene. Within moments of leaving the car and setting foot on the woodland path I declared that this was my favourite place ever.

We continued along the one hour route 


Breathing in the freshness as the sun broke through the canopy

.


Layers of green




Punctuated with natural hues






Decay




Alongside new life


Somewhere to breathe it all in


Maybe it's to do with reading too much Enid Blyton as a child but who can't help but think trees like these must be enchanted?


We knew the River Churnet ran through the valley but we didn't expect this. On our way back to the car we found a clearing.


A place to rest


And be visited by the locals - some more easy to spot than others

Do you see him?


Back through the buttercup meadow to begin the journey home



I can't say what it is that I find so restorative about this particular landscape. I've thought about it quite deeply. Is it the symbiotic nature of all that goes to create such a place that makes me feel as though I am part of some larger living thing? The combination of water and woodland that makes the freshness so contagious? The timeless quality  - how would people one hundred years ago or more viewed these same woods?

 Some time ago I wrote about Sara Maitland's 'Gossip from the Forest'.


Here she goes to explore what has made the forests and woodland of Britain such magical places - using fairy tales, folklore and historical fact to describe how their personalities have developed over the centuries. It makes for a fascinating read.

For me the woodlands and rivers will remain magical places. 

Somewhere I truly feel I belong.


Jane
xxx