Friday, 5 September 2014

BUMPER EDITION. In this week's episode: Gay Paree, free bag pattern, vintage step stool revamp, supermarket showdown, The Great British Bake Off connection and much more (*)

Thank you for kind words on the last post (no pun intended).  I will write more on this another time but for now...........





Gay Paree: Hello again and I trust that you all have had some R&R over the summer months. We did not venture too far from the borders and aside from some days hither and thither we went to Paris for a while.  I was last in Paris about 35 or so years ago.  Actually - checking back - it must have been July 1981 - because on my return I got off the train and  couldn't fathom why London was SO packed.  Turned out it was the evening of Princess Diana's wedding and there was a fireworks display in Green Park (I think - may have been Regent's possibly).  I decided to stay the night and hunkered down on the pavement, the right hand side of Buckingham Palace gates, with not too much sleep and told to move on very early in the morning.  I therefore spent the rest of the day standing on the Victoria Memorial (in the middle of The Mall if you are not familiar) with Terry Wogan reporting just in front (I think you can see me in some of the official Royal photographs.........).  Terrible place to be if you wanted the loo but good fun if not. Anyway we returned to Paris this year to show the children 'the sights'.When I was last there I don't remember Paris being very busy bar a handful of people standing in front of The Mona Lisa and a bit of a queue for the Tour Eiffel.....times change...I read that France is now THE most popular tourist destination in the world, millions more visits than anywhere else on the globe.  I can see the attraction but not sure why they all decided to arrive in the same week as us! Goodness it was packed but we managed to slice and dice our way through and by-passed the longer queues.  Of course we had to re-visit this:



 We happened to be in Paris when it was the night of the 'supermoon'




There was a wonderful sunset earlier that same evening.  We were on a boat and later, when I zoomed in on some images, it was as though we had travelled back in time .............









I think that I took this in about 1890...........




Back to reality with........

 Can you see what it is!!!! Just about........



However what I wanted to see most of all was this:




 Le Moulin de la Galette by Renoir.

For a visitor to Paris the Musee D'Orsay has to be a highlight I think.  No photograph, digitally enhanced image, film or description can match seeing this painting in the glorious flesh.  For me it is mesmerising and a wonder beyond wonderment.

It was quite autumnal in Paris



Versailles was packed but we found breathing space walking through  Petit Trianon









I was rather taken with this handle

A busy but pleasant time.  Ending with some picture of the children waiting for Dom to finish his bloomin' map reading...he likes a nice map does Dom






Still reading.......



I'm off says Bronte...............



Still reading........



Oh my...........

Ready Dad?




You may recall that when we went to Venice I made a 'Venetian bag' to co-ordinate with the trip.  Our trip to Paris was no different  in this respect  and I am considering setting up a new line of bags which co-ordinate with the co-ordinates for major cities of the world.


I took Mary out to catch 'some rays'!

Can you see that in these photographs I hadn't decided upon the buckle to use and the strap is held in place with pins!





 Anyway Mary was pleased with her little trip outside




As I made it only a couple of days before departure it was all a little hasty in production and I need to rethink the pattern which, to be honest, was not very sophisticated. However I was VERY pleased with the adjustable handle -  I used this tutorial here to make the adjustable bag strap but of course I did not have the 'slider' bit of kit which you are directed to use.  Hang on I thought that looks like a buckle : one thing I do have are lots of old buckles (AHEM!).  I know that you old slider hands out there will be shaking your slider head and saying: 'No no no - a buckle will not do the job'. However as the bag was just for personal use it did the job just fine and I slid my way round Paris like a good 'un : one minute short then very next all long! Perhaps that was why Paris was so packed............

This is the bag making process:

A highly technical grease proof paper pattern - only available in select stores  - the tear is deliberate of course!



Snipping out some loopy bits out of old leather and recycled D rings


 Pinning like fury


Ensure that you have a lining


 Stitching not too neat but I was in a bit of a rush - here I have omitted the endless button choosing and indeed initial fabric choice....it does go on a bit.






This is Bronte demonstrating the power of the adjustable handle



I made a little zip purse for Euros......




...and a matching make up bag for all that face cream




The fabric behind was initially first choice but the pattern is quite large so I decided to go with Option Two


 Whilst in Paris the children were a little annoyed by the fact that I kept singing 'Le Marseillaise' - it is the most fantastic national anthem I think and  I found myself breaking into song in all sorts of places.  Most people thought that I was a native.................


Oh my!



Oh and here is the bag being used in the Palace of Mirrors at Versailles - not a very clear image (I think that they need to replace those mirrors with something a bit more reflective - get with it Versailles, either give that glass a buff or get in some new stuff....ha ha)


And here it is again in front of a certain tower!






'Yes but what is that first photo all about?'

Bag Pattern: Thank you for your kind comments about a previous old bag (steady on - ladies present!).  I thought that I would post: 'A not very good bag pattern with indecipherable writing' here for this bag from a previous post.



 I am using the term 'pattern' in the loosest possible way - let us call it a rough guide, an indicator, a pattern possibility.  Sorry that my writing is sooo awful - I touch type and really dislike having to write by hand.  This is not some modurhn phenomena borne of recent times and use of ambulatory devices but it is a  life-long thing borne of being a left-hander and being made to use an ink pen at school. The only way I could manage writing was by turning the paper 45 degree to myself and writing sideways.  In my twenties I learnt shorthand in order to speed up  note taking in lectures and merged this with my own script.  VoilĂ  - rubbish hand writing was born. Any other left handers out there?  A special breed I think.  Anyway I hope that the pattern gives you an idea how to make your own - please let me know if you do.

I am not too sure if these photographs help or hinder but I think that they provide the gist of what needs to be done.  I will eventually make another one and put in on etsy if anyone might be interested.


















'Yes but what is that first photo all about?'

Step Stool makeover :  I set myself a challenge to see if I could buy and recover an old step stool for less than £10.  The price was set at this as I had seen ones on  ebay that I could indeed purchase 'ready to go' for about £10 upward (who knew that there was such a thriving market in second hand step stools!).  I found the ideal stool at the car boot for £3 (I had checked its viability by asking the man selling it to stand on it).

I have taken one of the dark 'before' photographs to magnify the 'after' result:



 I then tra la la'd it home...to be honest it then stayed in a cupboard until loin girding had taken place for Step (no pun intended) Two: I took the stool apart thus:


Step three:  I went to B & Q to select the right spray paint for the legs...the spray cost £6.68 so I was still under the target amount........



I decided upon grey but after the spraying had taken place I realised that I had in fact created a Zimmer Frame. I may have to respray.  Nothing against Zimmer Frames - a very handy bit of kit that has been intergral to my working life - but not quite ready for one in the homestead to be honest.  During the outdoor spraying procedure it started to spit - thus:




 I may have huffed at bit at this stage but once I bought it indoors it wasn't toooo bad and it had all cleaned up nicely







Step four: Of course the most difficult step of all - nearly a 'step' too far : the CHOOSING OF THE FABRIC.







  As this is going to end up in my sewing room (so that I might reach the fabrics others methods (a long poky stick) cannot reach (bracket overload this week!))  the fabric did not have to be particularly robust for daily use.



 The selection went on for a while and then Dom poked his poky nose in and suggested SOMETHING PLAIN. I finally plumped for the one below - to be honest this was mainly due to the fact I have lots and lots of it so if I cocked it up it wouldn't be the end of the 'fabric world' (sponsorship welcome....).


Naturally I used the old cover as a template for the new one but even doing this 'no measure' technique resulted me being short in the piping department (not for the first time in my life sadly) - thus:


Scratching my head as to how that happened as I had reused the original piping and simply recovered it.  There might have been more huffing and puffing at this point.............


Anyway eventually it was done and I added an extra bit of piping in:


 Just had to reassemble:


Mark my words - this is going to be the next 'Big Thing'






A design fault which I realised once I tried to cram the wooden seat and foam into my 'stool cover' (no rudeness intended).  If you do this put a zip in it!!!  Sorry - not being rude again - but of course if would make sense to have a discrete zip around the back (not being rude once again - what is going on!!!) so that should unexpected guests arrive you may simply change the cover to something more exotic.  Doing this would also help to ensure a snug fit whereas I had to hand sew my cover to bind the last seam and it was in danger of being baggy round the back side (happens to the best of us I'm afraid!!!).

'Yes but what is that first photo all about?'

PS: Cupboard emptying: I think that it was Johnny Morris who once said: 'Have nothing in your home'.  A pithy phrase which has stuck with me but find I am unable to live life by this code.  Sadly I have gone for the other end of the maxim, uttered by the late Desmond Morris: 'Stuff your home to the gills and who cares if it is beautiful or useful'.  Yes I think I have got that right.  Anyway we have been making slow and steady progress with the kitchen. Due to a redesign my walk-in cupboard (the china strongroom) had to be emptied.......this took a day to complete as there was a life time of china carefully crammed in.




Uncovered all sorts of bits


and bobs



Perhaps more bobs than I had anticipated!





Crikey.........some people just don't know when to stop................


It took Dom another day to reconfigure the shelving.




It then took another day to put it all back....................

Here is looks quite spaced out but I had a great more cramming to do


I tried to organise in order of use with toast racks and eggs cups together for example



Jams pots occupied another shelf


As I discussed with a friend recently this cupboard holds the second reserve china, first reserve being in the kitchen itself, third reserve is in my sewing room and there may be a fourth reserve which I dare not reveal the local of in case him of the poky nose  is reading this...................hang on there is a fifth reserve in the cellar.  Phew!  Just when I thought that I might be running out!

'Yes but what is that first photo all about?'

PPS: The Great British Bake Off Connection . I had initially assumed that the BIGGEST news item related to the return of this programme was when Bronte and I realised that one of the contestants lives TWELVE DOORS AWAY FROM US.  As we were in Gay Paree when it started we were watching it on  i player and as contestants were being introduced we suddenly recognised our street.  So excited were we by this fact that we paused the telly and ran into the road to check our fact - yes, we were right.  Sadly he has now 'left' but for a while we felt famous.  However this news pales into comparison with events from last weeks episode.  I will say no more in case you have yet to catch up but what has made me roar with laughter has been the reporting of 'bingate' and the very funny comments people have made.

'Yes but what is that first photo all about?'

PPPS: A turn of events in Waitrose. This needs to be prefaced by the fact that I STRONGLY DISLIKE all supermarkets and STRONGLY DISLIKE shopping full stop. Two days ago I was with Bronte and her friend Rachael  shopping for basic provisions (ok -  chocco in order to qualify for the free parking).  I had managed to wangle a few other items into the basket but I wanted to make a quick getaway in order to listen to the afternoon edition of The Archers (what is going on in Ambridge !).  I did the usual quick assessment of the till line up:

Lane One = clearly overloaded and someone shopping for the masses,
Lane Two = A Chatterer ("Hello dear, how are you", "Ooo this weather", " Butter's up again") - NO ONE likes a chatterer when pressed for time ('But mum you chat ALL the time'....'That, dear, is not the point.....'),
Lane Three = GOOD TO GO = minimum items (toilet roll, deodorant, bread rolls and Marmite (what sort of lunch was she planning on!) ). 'Estimated time of completion' (aka  'etc') = two minutes or three at a push.

This was clearly dependant upon whether it would be cash payment or the far less desirable: 'What you want me to pay now!' coupled with endless quantities of time spent  searching for purse  in order to search for a plastic card that they apparently had no idea they might need to use when paying for goods in a supermarket......... It was hard one to call as the mix of items made me suspicious therefore  I placed my basket at the end of the conveyor belt and gave the children the usual 'stay' signal.  This is well known shorthand for: 'You stay here I am going to do a quick reccy in case there is an even better offering further down the line'. As we know people every minute counts in these sort of situations.  Only a few stops down and there it was - light shining on it and everything - the GOLDEN CHECKOUT, THE DREAM TICKET, THE EMPTY ONE - bonus points as the conveyor belt was being given a quick wipe down in apparent preparation for my chocco.  How I missed it on the first scan I do not know.  This called for careful timing so I hot footed back to our original line up (woman still packing the rolls - what the blazes was going on there!). I hoisted up our basket and gave the equally well known: 'Urgent manoeuvre signal' - particularly effective if used with the hissing of: 'For crying out loud pick your ruddy feet up' through your teeth in that 'I'm not shouting but I am really' way.  The girls were lamentably slow to react but I was ahead of them so in a good position to save the day.  HANG ON A MINUTE : OLD DEAR LOOMING AT TEN O'CLOCK!.  With one deft movement a woman of a certain age (with a laden trolley mind) executed a  clearly well oiled pincer movement with her own body and the trolley - she triumphantly steered her way in front of me.  How did she manage that!  It was the sort of sharp tactics Kitchener Churchill Kitchener would have been proud of but having achieved this she proceeded to s-l-o-w down.  I raised my arms and wailed 'Oy Vey' which made Bronte collapse with laughter as she couldn't fathom why I had suddenly turned Jewish.  To be honest I don't know either but it seemed to suit the moment and some phrases transcend all cultures and religions.   The advantage I had so carefully planned was lost.  I decided to retrench back to Lane Three but of course this was too late as it was now occupied by yet another 'Overloader'.  I had to go behind aforementioned 'Old Dear' (patronising term especially as I am rapidly becoming one myself....) who was clearly oblivious to all events. I naturally smiled benignly but made threatening gestures behind her back in a passive/aggressive manner. I think that the moral here is: 'Don't count on your checkout until you are matched'

'Yes but what is that first photo all about?'

PPPPS: Heard on the radio that the phrase 'browned off' is on its way out (along with 'fortnight' surely that cannot be true!!) : well hang on there because  I am starting a campaign of use immediately.  Just like 'chuffed' which seems to have had a recent resurgence I am sure that we can revive the fortunes of 'browned off' as in  'cheesed off' (usually shortened to plain 'cheesed' in our house: 'I am feeling cheesed today').  Come on people let's get behind this and please use 'browned off' at every opportunity.

'Yes but what is that first photo all about?'

(* Thinking that if you have got  this far you are deserving of something so please follow this link to see what it might be......Thank you for sticking with me through the lean times it is greatly appreciated.  Thank you also for your kind and supportive comments  as they are absolutely is why I write this blog.  Given the state of world affairs it is nice to have some niceness)