Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A Lovely Weekend

I'm back from a lovely weekend away with G. It was one of those weekends where everything felt perfect, even if in reality things weren't. I know, I know, I'm being a bit cryptic here.

We drove up to Oxford on Saturday afternoon. It was very warm and the Lions were playing the Springbok. G has just put me on the insurance of his car so he took the opportunity to shout at the radio whilst I drove and prayed I didn't scratch his little Merc. We pulled into the hotel car park and I knew we were about to step back in time, circa 1967 I guess.

The hotel had that sort of carpet which makes you go dizzy when you look at it, the pattern sort of rushes up to meet you. Mein host was affable enough but when asked for a good restaurant in the area he couldn't help and wasn't really sure about getting a taxi. I would have thought they were pretty easy things to help with. The room was clean but the bed was solid. G started to apologise but it wasn't his fault.

We ended up at The Trout (a pub) for dinner which was beautifully set on a river, with ducks begging to be fed and in fact flying up on the wall really begging to be fed!! G turned out to be a 'twitcher' and had useless facts on the plumage of the drakes (!) We had a lovely meal, great wine and the company was just perfect.

Pity I was awake all night due to a hard bed (I know I've mentioned that already!) and only one window that we could open. Oh yes, and the heating was on, barely, but still on.
The next morning we got up and had the most dreadful breakfast. Dirty cups, orange squash instead of juice and sausages which could easily pass as dog turds. I kid you not! We floated around the city until it was time to meet his cricket chums for the afternoon match against The Heartaches, a team lead by non other than Tim Rice. I could try and tell you I watched enthralled, but I sat watching for when G was batting and bowling. Unfortunately, but probably not unexpectedly, the Allstars lost. So time for a quick drink and then the drive back. I was so tired but very happy & I fell asleep the moment I was cuddled up with G.

What a lovely weekend, even with the dog turd sausages!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

I've been adopted!

Yes, sorry Mum & Dad, I've been adopted by someone else. It's a big black cat called Thomas.

A few months back I noticed that Charlie's food seemed to be going down alot quicker than normal but he didn't seem to be getting any fatter! Then one evening I went out to the kitchen to grab a cuppa and there he was, scoffing Charlie's food! I shooed him back out the cat-flap and hoped that he'd be afraid of me and not come back.

The next time I saw him he was sitting in the upstairs hallway, just having a lay down (like you do).

Then after that he was in the kitchen and when he saw me he nuzzled up against my leg. To this cat I'm obviously as scary as a big, squidgey marshmallow.

So I thought I be clever and shut the cat flap so he (and Charlie unfortunately) couldn't get in and this worked until I left the upstairs bedroom window open! D'oh! Charlie & Thomas could BOTH get in even though I thought Thomas was far too fat.

I had my bath replaced and E's boyfriend was taking the old one away for me, but Thomas found a little home in the shelter of it. Anyone would think he was a stray but he has a collar with a tag and phone number on it and his owners are probably wondering where he goes and what he gets up to.
Last night I came home and found Charlie & Thomas in the garden, catching the last of the suns' rays. Thomas saw me, no fear and continued to lay there. He even looked up obligingly for a photo call. So I guess he's definitely adopted me. Can I help it if he loves me???

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Beautiful Flowers

In the calm before the storm on saturday morning I took some pictures of the flowers in my garden. I just love flowers, all flowers, I don't discriminate!
The red roses are only short lived but they smell so beautiful and it takes me back to the days of my childhood when I spent alot of time with my Nana who had rose bushes growing in her garden. The other childhood smell is of Lilac. It instantly transports me to evenings in their garden, having fun and generally no worries.

The fushcia managed to survive the winter and is back with a vengance. Just look how gorgeous it all is.
The 'storm' was my neighbour knocking nails in the party wall so that the cats can't walk on it and make his dog bark. The 'storm' continued when he soaked me with the hose when I got the nails out, and finally ended when I called the police and they cautioned him for assault! Peace appears to be prevailing and Charlie & I have been back in our garden.

The 'storm' yesterday was speaking to PC World & HP regarding my printer which has already been replaced once. HP don't have a Customer Service department, only a Customer Complaints one, at least it was in the UK & not South Africa where their techy people are. PC World are the biggest waste of time and if I can find a way of never using them again, I will.
Zen thoughts, zen thoughts! Think of my garden to calm me back down!!!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Thank Crunchie It's Friday!

Hooray, it's friday! Which means a lay in tomorrow morning before frantically tidying my house for a barbecue tomorrow evening. It's going to be a small event, just the 8 of us but then, my garden is only small. But you never know, there may be a surprise visitor or two. It's amazing the amount of people who say 'I might come, depends'. Depends on what? Whether it's raining? Whether you've got something better to do? Depends on the fluctuation of the pound against the yen? Who knows! Anyway, it just gives us more to drink and eat and enjoy.

Apart from that, I've just finished making a new chain maille called Scherzo, fashioned into a lovely silver bracelet. And just had my first order to make one for someone, how cool is that!

So that's it for this week, short and sweet today I'm afraid!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Moving Forward

My friend E & I are jewellery making addicts, as you've probably guessed. We work together and in lunch hours or quiet moments apart from discussing our boyfriends, we discuss jewellery making.

We both started making jewellery about 2, maybe even 3 years ago when we found a local class held in a bead shop in Portsmouth. We had both been moaning about the lack of classes available when one saturday morning I got an excitable voice at the end of the phone saying we were booked in for a two hour basic. That's where it all started....... We did two classes and then we were away. As I said, the class was held in a shop where hundreds of strands of glass & semi precious beads and stones were hanging, just like an aladdins' cave.

E & I have gone on different paths as far as design is concerned. She likes big & brash stones, wild colour mixes wheras I prefer smaller stones, perhaps a little bit more classic designs. But we both have a love for swarovski crystals which sparkle in the sunshine.

With all this in mind, you can imagine that we've both aquired a huge amount of stock of beads and stones and at the beginning we always said we would make for ourselves but this just doesn't make sense anymore. How much jewellery can one woman wear??? E has also gone down the path of glass bead making herself after we went on a days tutorial where I have gone into silversmithing & my current fad is chain mailling.

So......a drum roll please, I invite you to welcome my new creation, Dragonfly Jewellery Designs. I will shortly be setting up my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/ for your perusal. This is exciting and scary at the same time, and it is way past time!

And the name, well I just love Dragonflys. I have one tattooed on my left shoulder and it was the first thing I made in my silversmithing class. G also bought me a beautiful Lalique glass one when we were in Las Vegas. And just check out this fab enamelled vase, from Fred Rich Enamel Designs. Oh yes, it will be mine!

Monday, 15 June 2009

A Different Type of Wedding

G & I have just been to the most wonderful wedding. Whilst it was a bit of a trek from Southsea/Hamble to Newington Green it was all worth while.
The happy couple were officially married in a civil service a few weeks ago but decided that wanted something sacred to bond them together. The bride has a local Unitatian Chapel where the wedding blessing was held. It's very small and intimate. What struck me the most was that there was no cross or any religous icons but I could tell it was a place of faith.

The bride & groom met at the Altar, where the priest/vicar/religious man oversaw their vows. There were no hymns but there was a poetry reading and an opera singer sang 3 powerful arias. There was no traditional photographs but we were all shepherded to the reception and greeted with sparkling wine and canapes.
The buffet was magnificent! Lobster, oysters, crab, beef, venison, salads, breads, bitter chocolate tart, strawberries and wine.....bottles and bottles of wine! During the whole afternoon and evening live music played, all forms of jazz.

G & I fell into a cab at 11.30pm and managed to get the train home, falling into bed at about 2am

It really was the most wonderful wedding. There were certain formalities upheld such as the speeches but the biggest thing I felt was a warmth from the guests. I have only met the bride & groom once before but I was welcomed as a friend. I even had a dance with the bride's uncle! Man, did we cut a rug!! And most of the guests were dressed in the most vibrant of clothing. I admit, it was hard not to stare at the green hair and the yellow fishnet pop socks.
I should have know it was going to be a great day as it started with getting on the train to find an old lady with a budgie in a cage. The budgie sang the whole way there and was far from a disturbance. She even fed him a crisp through the bars!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Moan, moan, moan

I'm usually quite a happy little soul of a sunny disposition, but sometimes things keep going wrong. I know it's usually in 3's but this has now been going on since the beginning of May. Firstly I had some bad news on the biological front, then a birthday that didn't quite pan out (who knew that Arundel Castle was shut on a Monday), friends that are probably not really friends anymore, blah blah blah, it's all so boring and yes, I am playing the world's smallest violin for myself! There is very little that is majorly wrong at this point in time but it's all the small stuff that's getting me down.

Anyway, the next thing that's happened is that I bid and won at a charity auction a wine tasting for up to 15 people. Friends had been invited and hotels booked, and I received an email Monday out of the blue to say that the company had gone into administration so it won't be happening. I had paid the money directly to the Charity so the company itself has no responsibility to me. They have been lovely and said they will pay me back the money but how bad is that! How bad do I feel?! The most annoying thing is that the wine is absolutely gorgeous and I would have bottle or 3.

On the up side, my strawberries are looking scrumptious! And I ate the only ripe one AND it's 100% organic. Not that I go in for all that, but it's nice to know where it's come from and what's happened to it. Knowing my luck, Charlie cat probably had a wee on it!! And I didn't wash it! Aaaaaaggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

Also, some of my silversmithing work is going to be displayed at The Highbury College Art & Design Show on June 25th. This event is showcasing work from art & jewellery students. There's going to be a private showing where my guests can peruse the work at their leisure, ooooh, how posh.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Southsea D Day Celebrations

G & I had a lovely day out at the D Day Celebrations in Southsea. The weather was ok, quite windy but I didn't take a cardy as I knew once we were marching down the seafront I'd soon warm up. It's a little over a mile each way, so armed with a very yummy picnic (thank you G!), a bottle of red & a picnic blanket off we went.
The main celebrations were based on Castle Fields next to Southsea Castle and included some fairground rides, various WW2 jeeps & ambulances, a spitfire plane. There was a massive queue to get into the D Day Museum and kids were clambering over the tanks which are outside.
There was a big band, playing swing music and a small dance area where young and old were dancing away.G & I ate our picnic and drank most of our wine before wandering around & planting a flag.

The highlight of the day was when a million poppies were dropped by a WW2 bomber. Shame it was so windy that they were instantly blown inland rather than land on us.
We then decided it was time to go home, so we walked into a very strong headwind back up the Esplanade on briefly stopping on the pier to play our favourite pony game.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Chain Maille

I've got a new addiction!! My name is L and I'm a chain maille-a-holic! When you think of chain mail you immediately think of suits of armour and the dark ages but chain maille is (apparently) the new fashion thing (but don't hold me to it!)

It all started about two years ago when I saw a great byzantine necklace on my favourite website http://www.etsy.com/ If you don't know, Etsy is a site where people sell their handcrafted items. This could be jewellery but also could be paintings, knitted scarves, wooden boxes. Whatever you can imagine, it's for sale on there. But back to the byzantine.....it's made of linked rings that you can open and close, these are called 'jump rings' and they come in all different sizes, metals & colours. The shape seemed impossible to make so after an internet search I found some instructions but it was soooooo complicated and fiddly I gave up.

But down the line I've come back to it and attended a 3 hour workshop with my Mum where we made 4 different type of maille. Having come back (and lost my instructions - d'oh!) I've made a bracelet up of a couple of the designs and have found a free tutorial site http://www.cgmaille.com/ giving the full instructions of how to make about 50 different types.

So, with that in mind I've been beavering away trying out some of the beginner designs, and my goodness, they are not easy. But they are very effective and very addictive. It takes its toll on your hands and shoulders due to being hunched over with a pair of pliers and I know that makes me sound so very attractive.

Finally, be very afraid if you search chain maille on Facebook. There is a middle aged lady modeling a chain maille bikini sans underwear. I haven't quite decided how you get it on or off as there's no 'give' in it, maybe you just link the last ring together when you have it on??? Anyway, more seriously, why would you want a chain maille bikini, thong or the other thing which I haven't put a name to but would seriously make your eyes water!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Orchid Bracelet

I've been attending an evening class in metal smithing this year. This has been a natural progression from the bead work that I started doing about 3 years ago. Whilst it's very satisfying making necklaces and ear rings, especially to colour co-ordinate with your outfit for the evening I've found it's now somewhat lacking.

When I started the class I'd never cut a piece of metal, let along create anything. In the first 18 weeks I learnt the basic skills of piercing (cutting), hammering, annealing (heating), filing, making domes, embossing, soldering, and the exam pieces was to create a textured ring. It's amazing to move forward so quickly and have a wearable piece.

I am now just finishing the intermediate level, where I have learnt to set a stone in a ring. The ring needed to be a 'statement' piece so after a practice ring to learn the art of setting, my creation was born! The inspiration was the folds of a dress I saw reading a magazine at the hairdressers - weird huh? Anyway, needless to say my narky teacher (sorry Amanda, but talk about split personality!) loved the idea and made me make it bigger and bolder than perhaps I would have chosen to.

My final exam pieces have to be a range of jewellery, based on one subject. This is how my love of orchids has turned into jewellery. I am making a bracelet, a necklace and a brooch. I have only finished the bracelet which is silver set with jade. It's not perfect, but it is unique. You can't buy it in a shop, order it online, that's pretty amazing. I will show all the pieces here when the are all finished.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A Weekend Retreat

I've just come back from the loviest of weekends. I treated G for his birthday to a night in a 4 star hotel and dinner at the Michelin star restaurant, Le Poussin at The Whitley Ridge Hotel. Due to G's extremely busy diary in May (for that read various sporting events) we've only just been.
We stayed at The Rhinefield House Hotel which is in Brockenhurst. It's off the beaten track, in the heart of the New Forest and thank goodness for good directions as if you wouldn't find it if you weren't looking. We arrived just in time for afternoon tea and it was the most glorious of afternoons. It was hot with barely a cloud in the sky. After tea we had a stroll around the gardens and the woods. There was a wedding at the hotel and I thought it was just a wonderful setting, great for the photos.
After a wash and brush up and a quick drink we got a cab to the restaurant. Along the way we say lots of ponies grazing but one young colt obviously was in high sprits as he charged along the roadside and then dashed out in front of our cab! At the restaurant we sat on the terrace with an apperitif and watching the sun go down. It was so beautiful and very romantic.

The meal was superb. G started with sea bream & I had a cheese souffle, then we had confit of duck and we shared a pudding which was just titled 'chocolate'. This was actually 4 small desserts on a plate; fondant, baby banana split, mousse & rice crispies slices. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm is all I can say! All washed down with a Barola. We took coffee and joined a lively party who one member tried to convince us one was a MP. Maybe he was (as they all know how to stretch the truth), as he tried to tell me I looked 29 (!!) and must be on 'monkey glands' (!!!) After I fainted over the size of the bill we went back to the hotel for a nightcap before popping to bed feeling slightly drunk and quite full up
After just making it for breakfast we sat by the pool, such hard work in 26 degree heat! As it stared to cloud over at about 2pm we made our way home for a much deserved cup of tea.