Category Archives: friends

Card die delight …or possibly addiction

rabbit dieI am very lucky.  Hattie gave me a die cutter and at the weekend we may have purchased one or two dies – in the sale I hasten to add, just in case Archie or HWIOO are reading this.  I had a lovely weekend creating paper penguins and a striking Olaf snowman.  I thought I had it all under control when I arrived home, little did I realise that rather like an infection the desire to create from card and paper was fermenting in my head.

It started mildly enough. I made gift bags for the Little Madams’ Easter presents and then I thought, “I know what.  I’ll make them each a card.” This necessitated making nine Easter bunnies from the die shown in the image in this post – six looking forwards and three with fluffy cotton tails.  So far so straight forward.

Could someone tell me why, when I needed nine bunnies I have cut and assembled twenty-four in various shades of brown, pink and cream?  It wasn’t as though I had nothing else to do.  There was paperwork for next term, paperwork for this term, six thousand words and a synopsis to write, research for the next two day schools.  There are one or two weeds in the garden, housework to be done and novels to be written.  My only consolation is that HWIOO slept through the whole thing.

I also have a very nice tin filled with various letters of the alphabet, a box labelled “Easter,” with the dies and some spare parts neatly bagged and stowed.  The utility room has a fine layer of multi-coloured confetti that I need to sweep up and I have a little list of useful things that I need to lay hands upon – like teeny-tiny googlie eyes.

Hattie, if you’re reading this, your work is done. I have been infected with die-cutting mania.  Next time you visit, HWIOO may be carried out of the house on a tsunami of hand crafted cards when he answers the front-door.


F is not for felting, apparently.

DSCF2573.JPGIt was dark at five o’clock tonight.  The clocks have gone back, no more Bake Off and winter is on its way – bah humbug.  Its time for an open fire of an evening,  hot chocolate and marshmallows, and slow cooked stews – hooray!

We’ve had a lovely few days on the East Coast (yes, another e) with our friends Hattie and Archie.  We went hunting for sea glass on Maske Beach and found two different types of fossils as well as sea glass but the most surprising find belonged to HWIOO.  The tide washed up a bright yellow duck.  He (the duck not HWIOO) has been duly disinfected, we have speculated whether there might be a distraught merbaby or whether the duck had set out to see the world.  We suspect a duck race but the duck is anonymous so we can’t notify anybody of our find. The Littlest Madam has named him Redcar on account of the fact we’d been there that morning to collect two bin bags full of the finest merino felting wool.

HWIOO and Archie are wondering what we are going to do with it – the wool not the duck.  The obvious answer is felting and I did suggest that it could be F on our alphabet of nice things but HWIOO was adamant that felting wasn’t going to feature since apparently we both have to enjoy the experience.  Hattie and I have had a very nice time sorting it, bagging it and arranging it. We have plans – which are always dangerous. This post features my first effort at felting earlier in the year and I’d have to say I was very pleased with it.  I have plans for robins and red squirrels very shortly…I’ve added them to my list of things to do.  Sadly I didn’t feel I could note felting under urgent and important.

So exactly what might we do – perhaps a trip to the flicks to see a film; Flamborough and Framlingham seem a little far away at the moment or perhaps, and this is a definite possibility, we shall go to a fireworks display.  There’s one in Bitt’s Park this weekend themed around Carlisle’s industrial heritage – there’s going to be a 35ft steam train as well as several thousand people which might rather ruin the photographic opportunities.

Come to think of it my mother-in-law has already covered the fire angle.  She microwaved her ready meal for thirty minutes rather than three minutes last week.  Shall we just say that she won’t use the microwave again on account of the fact that she’s decided that it’s dangerous. And trust me when I say that the list is already pretty lengthy.


Taking a trip

DSCN0160Have you noticed the way that when children fall over and scrape their knees that plasters with an assortment of cartoon characters are provided as are cold compresses featuring Mr Bump?  In some cases chocolate is also proffered to silence their wails?  Personally I’m always amazed at the restorative qualities of a jammy dodger.


Yesterday, I was in the process of moving a garden pot from the boot of the car to its new home. It’s a lovely frost proof blue ceramic pot and I’m very fond of it – more fond than I realised in fact because when my ankle gave way for no apparent reason not only did I manage a very passable impersonation of a sack of potatoes but I didn’t let go of the pot as I fell. Result? Scraped knee, bruises and a pair of very scuffed shoes but an undamaged pot.


HWIOO emerged from the garage and uttered the immortal words, “What are you doing down there?”


Given that I looked as though I’d decided on an impromptu prayer on the tarmac circa Pope John Paul II I didn’t think a reply was absolutely necessary especially as I progressed to clutching my foot and knee whilst trying not to howl – why is it acceptable for six-year-olds to express their angst but an adult is required to exhibit a stiff upper lip? In any event after I’d extracted the gravel from my knee, partaken of a medicinal gin and enjoyed a long soak in the bath I felt much better- though I’m not sure why everything aches so much. I know that if I fell when I was a child I bounced rather better. No doubt it has something to do with bone elasticity and being nearer to the ground.

Okay there is a balance to be struck here. Scraped knees in my childhood inevitably meant horrible sticky fabric plasters slapped on by unsympathetic teachers despite me saying that I was allergic to plasters which became so welded to my already battered flesh that they had to be soaked  and then ripped off (to the accompaniment of many more wails and admonishments not to make so much fuss). Allow me to assure you that in the ’70s the stickiness of sticking plasters was ferocious as were the horrible red itchy little water blisters that my allergy to plasters generated (apparently its cause was the same chemical that you can find in leylandii because the rosin of leylandii is exceptionally sticky and lends itself to being used in sticking plasters!)  It was many years before I discovered that the allergy was in fact contact dermatitis. Just what you want in addition to bruising and grazes.  Then there was the ‘joy’ of thick yellow gunge resulting from the ensuing infection and much dabbing with savlon soaked cotton wool…gross.


These days I’m in good company. My friend Hattie’s catalogue of accidents include a fracture in China that outstrips any of my demonstrations of how to move base over apex- she is able to list and rank her falls in order of unpleasantness and inconvenience.  Her stumble and the resulting agony of her China expedition makes my falling over look positively amateur. It is perhaps not surprising that HWIOO and Archie spend a lot of time looking for trip hazards when they’re in our company. The sight of wet autumn leaves is enough for both of them to go slightly pale and start steering us away from the danger.  HWIOO is also rather good at grabbing me as I lurch in a floor wards bound direction because I’ve tripped over the kerb…or my own feet.


But neither Hattie nor I are in the same league as Tatiana who managed to do something deeply unpleasant to her foot in Harrogate simply by crossing the road without the aid of stairs, ice, wet leaves or even a banana skin. Stan it transpires is just as used as HWIOO and Archie to the sensation of discovering that his spouse is no longer at his side but at floor level looking a)pained b)embarrassed c) startled – any or all combinations may apply.




Of ducks and dogs

DSCN0413I was in the midst of a chat with my friend Tatiana when her spouse, Stan, announced that there was a black labrador sitting at their backdoor.  This was mildly surprising given that they own a black cat called Sooty but don’t own a dog of any hue.

There then followed a five minute discussion between Stan and the aforementioned labrador resulting in Stan using his belt as a substitute lead and having to hold his trousers up rather than sport the visible underwear look favoured by many teenage males.   This would have been fine had Sooty not taken one look at the dog and sprinted off into the darkness hissing madly whilst waving a loo brush tail.  As we all know dogs, even ones like labradors which arrive in the world half trained, chase cats. It’s not such a great situation to be in if your trousers are threatening to descend to half mast and you’ve got a single minded dog on the end of your belt.

Ultimately the dog was restored to its owner  and Sooty returned to Stan ruffled and very cross but not until Tatiana had convinced the dog’s owner that her dog was eyeing up the possibility of an evening spent in the lap of luxury on Tatiana and Stan’s hearth rather than in a kennel outdoors.

This just confirms everything I have ever suspected about Tatiana and Stan. Their surname should be Noah rather than Fawkes.  Sooty is supposed to be feral.  I’ve never seen such an unferal cat.  She has hand stitched blankets, assorted feeding bowls in convenient locations and her own pingpong  ball.  In short she has Stan and Tatiana right where she wants them.

There is another cat but sadly for Sweep he turned up after Sooty got her paws on the comfortable chairs, in the cupboard under the stairs, on top of the bookcase and on all the warm spots in the house.  Consequently Sweep is only welcome on the doorstep and in the utility room where his in-take of cat food and affection is carefully monitored.  Sooty has no intention of sharing Stan with anyone else thank you very much.

She doesn’t deign to notice Dinky who rolls up on occasion to see if she can convince Stan that she’s expiring of malnutrition. What Dinky hasn’t noticed is that her name is ironic but then she’s not particularly well endowed with the little grey cells preferring to perform her grooming routine in the middle of the road.

Then there’s the wildlife which is determinedly tame in Tatiana’s presence.  Tatiana nursed a pigeon back to health after it had been attacked by something rather more razor-billed.  It has yet to leave.  There’re a couple of pheasants called Clarence on account of the noise they make whenever they clap eyes on Sweep and of course there’re the ducks which return on an annual basis to doze amongst the hostas.  They are less patient than Sweep or the black labrador. They do not wait meekly on the doorstep with beseeching expressions plastered over their faces.  They tap on the back door to demand their elevenses and have taken to wandering into the utility room quacking loudly much to Sooty’s disgust.

So all things considered I really wouldn’t be at all surprised if Stan finds himself modelling the teenage look again before long.  The black labrador is probably whistling the tune of the Great Escape to itself as it starts tunnelling.