Saturday, 28 June 2014

Is it: a bin, a bag, a bucket? The answer revealed and loquaciousness

 If you said 'bin' or 'bucket'  walk 'The Walk of Shame' and go to the back of the class (which incidentally was the instruction given to all students who dared to be late for my lessons : one day I was late (bike puncture) and had to walk my very own 'Walk of Shame' : Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby was my muse....) !

I used all 'pin stock' making this!

I woke up one morning and had it in my head that I had to make this BAG.  It took much longer than I anticipated but I wanted to 'create' (fancy) a bag reminiscent of the 1940s with a 'handmade/homemade' look.  

I think that this looks home made 

Arthur: 'Is she for real?' 


Arthur: 'It's life Jim but not as we know it......'

Me: 'Charming!'

Mr Vuitton: 'I may rest easy'

This shows the work in progress and during the 'bucket/bin' stage.  It took me ages to make a pattern : you wouldn't know it looking at this photograph as it all looks so simple (in truth this was partly because I couldn't find the grease proof paper and then decided to tidy up some drawers in order to avoid future grease proof paper showdowns).  The whole thing was a bit of a fiddle faddle to be honest and this is a shame as I really thought that I had 'discovered' a new 'Bag Opportunity' (aka B O).

The night before I could not sleep as I kept runnng through the stages of the bag making in my head

 In my mind I knew that piping was essential............I can offer no explanation for this.

I was pleased with the pipe work especially as I do not possess a special piping footer thingy ('She who does not pay for the piping foot calls the bag a ruddy pain...'.).

I am very annoyed that I had not noticed that stray thread in the middle of the photograph - apologies all round for that.

I strengthened this bag with interfacing, soft interlining and lining though this also meant that at times I was trying to sew through many, many layers of fabric.  My sewing machine is RUBBISH (and I don't have an overlocker/underlocker/footlocker or indeed hurtlocker...) so at times there may have been a little bit of  **^!**  huffing.....  However all of that, and the little stitches around the base, meant the bag could stand up independently.  Why I wanted a bag that could stand independently I cannot fathom but there it is.

Here is the finished bucket  bag not standing independently (after all that fuss!).

As usual I took a fair while finding the right button but decided upon this one as it seemed 1940'ish to me

The motivation for all this bag making was D Day :  I planned to wear it as I  cycled along the seafront to watch the service and thank the servicemen and servicewomen.  Again for reasons I cannot fathom I thought that it would be appropriate to don my best embroidered apron.  

You don't have a best embroidered apron?  


That is a bit of a rum do if I may say so.

I have photographed this before on Flickr but as that was a few years ago I hope that it is acceptable to show it again.  

I thought that the blue birds were apt and of course it also meant that as I cycled I could channel Vera Lynn and 'sing as I go' (a bit of Gracie Fields thrown in for good measure there).  

As I tra la la'd along  everyone would clearly understand the connection between my singing, the apron, the home made bag and the day itself.  

This embroidery is quite staggering in its neatness and overall effect - goodness knows how many stitches went into this

In order to demonstrate the stitch density here is the reverse.  If need be I will do a post on embroidered aprons (as opposed to the fabric type representing each decade..... OH COME ON -  YOU'RE THE SAME!).

  In order to stoke my journey along the sea front I ate a few Tunnock's tea cakes prior to departure.  I also had a quick flick through my favourite copy of Woman's Own for some inspired reading....

Did you see what I did there?  Blue birds again.  I was going to dig out all my old Blue Bird tins but NO.  It is good to know when to stop.

Oh I did however lighten upon my old paper doiley collection (OH COME ON!).  Of course I have some 'penny plain' pretty paper doilies but the 'tuppence coloured' add a bit of 'je ne sais quoi' to one's day don't you think.

Paused to read Mrs Fussepottle's latest post whilst working my way through the odd Tunnock or two.  I found this article to be very interesting though I was perplexed by the absence of full stops throughout.

The advert reminded of another Vera Lynn song.  Can you guess which one?

Oh...... I may have made a purse too.

All set and off we go

Tra la la

Every 6th of June I visit the D Day museum so this year would be no different : I parked my bike outside and trotted in.  About half way round I was reading about Southwick House - I was bent right over the information board (I did go to Spec Savers but glasses are rubbish)  and someone said excuse me.  I turned round and blow me down it was Winston Churchill's granddaughter.  Now I should point out here that I am not usually familiar with the offspring of world leaders - for example in a line up I would not be able to identify the children of: Stalin, Lloyd George, Metternich or Hannibal.  I had however been watching 'The Great British Menu' and seen said granddaughter on the telly only a few nights previous.  I was going to mutter something about liking Aktar's rice pudding ( I LOVE rice pudding) ice cream but just said: ' Thanks  for all your granddad did' and tra la la'd off.  I reckon that she was too taken aback by the bag/apron combo to say anything.

I watched The Red Arrows  fly over The Solent  -  hope that it is ok to show these photographs as   I don't usually show new things!

When  I took these I was just pointing the camera randomly in the sky so I was quite pleased to find that I had managed to capture anything.


 These don't look real!

On my return to Custard Towers I ate an ice cream which I kept  cool in a home made (see what I did there) mini ice bucket (made the night before using the bottom of a plastic bottle and a few flowers thrown in).  This is  the type of nonsense which adds a bit of pleasantness to the day I think and costs nothing but time.

 Some people write whole books telling you how to make such things!

A full frontal bag shot.  

I might make some more of these bags as I have one or two (AHEM) embroideries that would work well with this pattern. Now I have revealed this bag  I expect all the top shops will be making them...... It would have to be a revised pattern though as this took me ages. I understand why homemade things cost so much

PS: Very, very interested in how this blog 'reads' so I am  keen to respond to enquiry regarding loquaciousness. Thank you to Susan C  and  thewoollydog for further probing regarding this matter.  Loquacious is a most marvellous word I think - see I have mentioned it twice already and we're not bored...... Along with quark 'L'  has a wonderful ring to it.  Anyway I spent a while considering whether or not I might be in the 'L' category and also if I would wish to be in that cohort. I think the answer  depends upon the circumstances.  I hope that my endless chat is/can be tempered with sensitivity if the situation demands and in my nursing life I  spent a great deal of time with others in complete silence (sister in neuro intensive care and also caring for the suddenly bereaved).  In other situations I am quite a garrulous fellow and love to use hundred words rather than a handful (though I do hope that I am not one of those 'centre of attention, listen to me' types!).  I revel in the English language : its nuances, twists, turns, mixed meanings and the humour within it.  I grew up listening to the Radio 4 and one of my favourite programmes was 'My Word' with Frank Muir - that clever use of words stuck with me.  Someone that I  used to work with once asked why I 'had to use those long words' all the time...I remember being a little hurt....then I asked her why she just used those same old short ones day in day out !

I thought that I would try to illustrate my loquaciousness with some words from ex-students of mine -

A bit   VERY conceited and of course I haven't selected any rubbish comments (cheeky!) - but just to show that chat can be good in the right places.  Singing a song in order to remember equations has its place in the world!

My talkativity gets me into a pickle sometimes and here is a typical hapless situation.  Recently I drove Bronte and her friend to the shops : chatting and singing all the way.  Upon reaching the car park I parked too close to a pillar (rubbish at parking) but, as I was still talking and keen to finish the story off, I thought that I would simply clamber out the passenger's side rather than move the car.  Still talking (loudly as both passengers were now outside of the car...looking a little bemused) I did not think it through and proceeded to extricate myself from the passenger side horizontally and  HEAD FIRST.  As my head peeped out of the open door I started to laugh at myself and then could not maneouver my hulking body across the 'gear stick/hand brake'configuration in order to complete the extraction.  I was determined to finish my story (goodness knows what it was about) whilst Bronte stood there shaking her head, saying: 'Why oh why...'.   Later on I had to reverse the procedure in order to get back in....this time I was by myself so didn't feel the need to maintain any decorum (!) ..... as I clambered in I noticed a man a short distance away, talking into a mobile telephonic device,  looking slightly alarmed!

PPS: June whizzed by didn't it....... I have been very busy with work...ploughing on but looking forward to a summer break of sorts.  We have also had the builders in knocking down a wall and doing bits of construction work...oh the dust.  You may recall that I have been saving my pennies for some time in order to 'revamp' the kitchen: Dom decided that we did not need a new kitchen (he is right - we don't 'need' a new 'First World' non-existent problems' I know).  However a year or so ago I resolved to save all most of the money for it myself and that is exactly what I have done.  I am currently contemplating Phase Three which is new kitchen floor (as it will take a week this will need extra loin girding and extra funds). 'The Gas Men' was Phase One,  with the  knocking down of a kitchen wall and putting in folding doors being Phase Two : both now completed.  Next month I will be paid for an extra contract which I took on in order to fund a cupboard building venture (Phase Four)!  I endeavour to have it finished by Christmas ......................................  possibly..............given that over ten years ago Dom put in a 'temporary' kitchen I can wait a while.  Phase Five will be product placement, sponsorship and photographs!

Here are some preliminary images:

And 'my' builders who have been coming here for years - this may have something to do with the homemade rice puddings and steamed treacle sponge.  I love my builders and I know a great deal about their lives (just like the Gas Men), trips to New York to listen to Woody Allen, accidentally chopping down Albert Finney's rose.... a long story which I asked to be repeated the other day as it makes me laugh so much.  People have very interesting lives.


Letting the light come in

PPPS: In between we have been on our annual camp where 45-50 families go camping in The New Forest.  This year the theme was 'Heroes' and it was clear that  lateral thinking had gone into some of the outfits. Our friend Claudia is always able to produce the most splendid original outfit (her mum once supply original costumes to the BBC for one of their drama productions): this year she chose to be  a Suffragette, though the beautiful  Edwardian jacket was too small even for her.


Turned out that there were five Suffragettes in total.

 Some we were not too sure who they were but when Father Christmas loomed on to the horizon on the hottest, longest day of the year everything clicked into place! Mad dogs and Englishmen.....

PPPPPS: It is my intent to have a 'giveaway' soon : is there any appetite for this sort of thing nowadays?  If so I will strive to create one or two  'somethings' within the next few weeks.  Given my low batting average of one or two posts per month it may be a little while...sorry!  I promise that there will be no 'guess the colour' this time round or 'my first is in custard but not in milk' type of will be simplified....sort of.

Finally PS: Welcome to new followers - if you can make any sense of all of this I will be amazed!

It's only words......and words are all I have............

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Floral finds, flowery foray .......and the Gas Man cometh...........and sorry

Sorry that I mixed  my 'publish' with 'save' button again!  My dad always said that I was 'bumble footed' - clearly I am 'bumble handed' too.  Sorry also for delay in replying to kind comments - I read them all and chuckle over your responses.  I always seem to be a 'post' behind but I am catching up.

Anyway hello again

Glad that I had added a modicum of mirth  in the last post!

As it is ' was Chelsea' Week last week I thought that I would show you some floral finds which  I have bought within the last two weeks or so. It is funny how things turn up in batches: some weeks it might be suitcases another it will be tablecloths - last week an elderly gentleman was selling his lifetime collection of Meccano!

Anyway I was taking stuff to the charity shop (bags ironically... rather than ironic bags) and spied this lovely floral knitting/craft bag for £2.50.  I was not going to buy it as I have a few others (ahem!) but it is a most splendid floral knitting/craft bag so.......  The colours and combinations of different fabrics are just my cup of tea.  Both sides have a wonderful mix of florals...thus....

I would love to see yards of this fabric

 At the car book someone was selling their collection of King Penguin books though I only bought this one, for a £1.  By pure chance the colours 'go' nicely with the bag.

Short intermission...

 On to a different 'type' of floral with this old embroidered tablecloth. This is possibly the most impeccably embroidered tablecloth in "The Custards' Collection".

 The shading on the threads is just lovely and this was the tablecloth of choice for May Day.

 NO JAM on May Day!

 As always I take my hat off to  embroiderers - what a wonderful thing to make.

 On to some floral fabric (curtains in reality).  Dom and I had to transport some 'stuff' to the local tip  and these curtains were being thrown out...oh dear I sound a proper scavenger.....

Of course I washed them!   Cheeky (again).

If you can please try and match your fabrics with your garden.  Here the actinidia kolomikta goes quite nicely with the washing.

 Also happened to match the tulips


Handily an old hanger also matched the fabric!  

Is there no end to the matchiness!

 A 'china floral' now.   Someone had donated their 'cafe au lait' bowl collection to another charity shop, each bowl was a pound each, I was restrained and chose just four.

More of this Victorian marble top another time - bought from a local architectural salvage yard it was the 'replacement' for the Guinea Pig Hutch and it will be my 'new' potting table eventually.  It may be a year or so before we get round to completing it but I will let you know.

As with fabric, china and books I have a far reaching tastes in gardens and flowers: from municipal planting to trimmed parterres, from wild flowers to rare cultivated forms.  All are welcome, so long as they look 'nice'. I particularly like gardens which hold the unexpected and if I had acreage I would have the Galloping Horse in my garden

Can anyone help identify this bowl below?  I have always used it as a bird bath and bought it from a jumble years ago when we lived in London.  It might be a B&Q special or something older perhaps?  Any ideas I would be grateful as there are no marks on the underside.  Anyway the blackbirds take their morning dip in here most days and they do not seem to mind the bowl origins.

 Dom informed me that this all looked like a funeral parlour.

Some real flowers in the making here - my seeds are on the right and Dom's on the left.....mmmm.  However Dom's plastic bag barrier failed to protect the decoration on my old fold up tray.  The watering of the seedlings meant that it became rusty within a few days (good job that I have more than one).

I used to grow plants from seed all the time (less so nowadays) and would spend ages reading through the Chiltern (image-free) seed catagloue.  I think that Chiltern's now have photographs of some of the plants but in the past I would buy on the basis of the great descriptions - living life on the edge - I never had the need to 'see before I buy'.

Some real flowers now

What a frothy wonderment flower cow parsley is.

 A bird interlude:
Sitting in the garden a family of blue tits whizzed past my ear - the thrumming of their wings was a lovely sound

Baby birds often look a little grumpy

The last of the narcissus  - these are tiny but I cannot remember the name.

 After carefully nurturing sunflower seeds I finally planted them out the other day - overnight they vanished thanks to the slugs.  GGrrr.  My campanula punctacta which I have had for years has now disappeared.  I think I must be cultivating super slugs.

 I noticed that  Anchusa has featured a bit at Chelsea this year and I am not surprised as the blue is eye popping I think.  Mine is planted against a piece of sea washed wood that poor Dom and I dragged up from the beach a few years ago (waterlogged wood is very, very heavy).

Having plenty of pots means that my 'display' gets changed around very frequently - so now we have irises instead of daffodils.

A neighbour benefits from our clematis and we benefit from his wisteria

 Our garden is teeny tiny but full of plants - there is always room for just one more plant (a bit like the house in that respect).
Here is a view from the garden back door.

Gardening has been a  flowery thread through my life - our mum lived for her garden and  many of us develop that love of our gardens at a very young age.  As a child it was my 'job' to write down, as quickly as possible, the Latin names of plants as they appeared on Gardener's World so that my mum could try and track them down (pre-internet of course).  This is the best way to learn your Latinate roots (pun intended).  I also  know that there are a few of us out there who are fans of the very clever binomial system (I would insert one of those winking things here if I could).

As we recently had some  sun I gave my old bench its annual paint.  This bench we also bought about 25 years ago - it was, as they say, as cheap as chips especially for an original Victorian/Edwardian one.  The planks of wood that you see here were washed up on the beach a while back and Dom cut them to make this larger seat when the others fell apart.


The bench pre-paint

Not quite Chelsea standards Dahlink!  These are photographs from two/three years ago which I never posted at the time, this must have been very early Spring I think.

In our tiny garden we have a  tiny shed in which I keep my 
gardening accoutrements !  All broken china is kept in there (for bottom of pots), an array of old lamps, galvanised buckets and a 'range' of old tureens for plants.

  I bought this trug thingy 20 plus years ago from Greenwich Market - I can pretend that I am Lady Bountiful tra la la'ing around non-existing acreage!

 Filled this old cup with water for tiny birds

This is an old lead bird bath - it is as heavy as.....
This was one of the first things that I bought from Mr Langford - it was about £10 which I thought was very expensive at the time but Mr Langford assured me that it was a good buy.

Dom requested that I photograph this pot as he was pleased with his mending (it gets like that after a few years!).  This is the third time that he has mended this pot (bought about 15 years ago I think) - this time he added an wire around it for extra stability  and thought that the pebble from the beach was a nice touch to prevent any finger snagging on the wire!

 For 50p I bought some nice old garden tools at the car boot last year - I will do a separate posting on car boot purchases eventually.

Being a small garden we make the most of the sky!  These self seeded echiums  suffered from the cold and wet last winter so they are not at their flowering best but the bees still love them.

Nearly done now.

At the car boot was yet another knitting/craft bag though this one was £1.50. 

I had clearly been ripped off with the other bag - ho ho.

Oh and there were some other books....oh dear

...and a bit of old Sanderson fabric for 50p 


Ending with these two card boxes - bought at two different car boot stalls last week.  

PS: I think that Chelsea Flower Show went off the boil a few years back but has improved - so long as they keep the focus on the plants and the camera doesn't keep swishing around all the time.  Some years I have felt as though I am  a boat bobbing in the ocean with all that camera swaying.    Only been to Chelsea Flower show once -  with my mum and on the final day - you can imagine the amount of stuff we came back with.....

PPS: A reminder that it is elderflower season in this neck of the world

 Same old stuff - just like last year - however I have since found a few more of those old Corona bottles (£1 each 'locally')

  I appreciate that this cordial may not look that appealing but it does taste nice.

For some reason these bottles remind me of my old nursing days......cannot fathom why.....

 I hope that I don't get into trouble with Corona for using these bottles for cordial.  I live close to the edge

PPPS: The Gas Man - For some time I have been saving up to have a new boiler fitted (not a euphemism).  The week of the boiler insertion (!)  finally arrived.  It would take a few days because we needed new pipes (not a euphemism) and part of the kitchen floor would have to be lifted.  It was all a bloomin' mess.  The two Gas Men worked very, very hard though were cursing the number of stairs they had to run up and down to bleed the radiators.  In between the bleedin' radiators I made tea, chatted and  learnt a great deal about these two young men.  One dutifully brought his wife and toddler round to say hello :'For crying out loud how much am I paying you an hour..... get on with your ruddy work?'  'Lovely to meet you' I said. Due to the bleedin' radiators ALL rooms had to be entered (oh the shame of it) but both Gas Men perhaps surprsingly admired the sewing room so we chatted about fabrics for a while (they truly were Men of Gas)!  At this point I feel honour bound to indicate that the words 'Gas', 'Man' and 'Men' are incidental to this story.  This anecdote is bound neither by gender or  by gas  but are presented in order to give context and texture to the scenario. At times the boiler became mere background noise to the wider debate which were about  to have.

 There was clearly a pecking order with the two Gas Men. I did indeed highlight this inequality: how one did the talking and the other the physical hard  graft.  The Gas Men laughed.  At one point I named them 'The Laughing Gas men'.  How we laughed ('How much am I paying you an hour?' )..... Over the fifth cup of tea that morning (!)  'The Talking Gas Man' enquired further about The Hobby Room (as he called it), what was it for and so on.  I informed him that it was carefully curated collection of fabricos and nice bits.  He looked a little perplexed at this point but proceeded to ask if I took commissions. I did boast of my purses made for  Cath Kidston (years on but..come on....IT IS ALL I HAVE PEOPLE) but what he really wanted to know was whether he could commission something that his wife wanted made out of their toddler's old baby clothes.  'Don't be daft' I exclaimed 'I can show your wife how to make that'.  'Don't YOU be daft' he rejoindered ' My wife can't sew'.  There was a bit of conversation about the merits of making things yourself but he was having none of it.  However the seeds were sewn and  the needle threaded for the next stage.

By day three of the boiler insertion ('How much!') the work was coming to a close and with one final push all would be done.  Here we were at the final cup of tea and final chat.

'Doing anything nice this weekend Laughing Gas Men?

'Nah - got no money'

'Hang on a minute : NO MONEY!'

'Nah - the minute I get it I spend it' (This was the 'Talking Gas Man' talking - I shouldn't need to highlight this as he is the 'Talking Gas Man'.  Did you read this post?)

What followed was an hour ('How much!') of discussion outlining where money was spent.  There was mutual jaw clanging.  The Talking Gas Man (TGM) spent a GREAT DEAL of money on his weekly shop AND ate out twice a week AND bought at least one takeaway a week. Not only that but he bought all his food from Marks & Spencer.  None of this would be worth commenting on but he said that he did not have any money.  The point being that he would have money if he did not spend so much.  He was equally amazed at my parsimony and how money should/could  be conserved wherever possible. He discussed his Rolex watch and BMW convertible and I discussed sandwich making and cycling along the seafront on a clapped out old bone shaker. I outlined how much money could be saved by being very careful when spending the pounds. We proceeded to calculate how much money he spent on: lunch per annum,  'ready meals', haircuts, manicures (his not mine), pedicures (his not mine), sun beds (his not mine)  and ................................................................... .....................................................................................................................................................


(HIS.  NOT MINE!!!!!!!!). 

At this juncture I found myself looking at TGM with the scrutiny of a hawk  

Of course he is free to do all of the above - I am merely underling the point that 'TGM' said that he did not have any money.

I could not dispense my money-saving tips fast enough - the TGM laughed and laughed.  The TGM said that I ought to team up with Martin Lewis on telly..... and then a look of realisation spread over his visog.  

He had indeed spent more than he had

I too had a moment when it dawned on me that we did not have to be sooooo thrifty all of the time.

Naturally I relayed all of this to Dom : he then went out to the supermarket and conducted a spending spree that was on the scale normally reserved for Christmas!!!

Egos may have been involved at this point.

Perhaps TGM could use a new purse in order to save those pennies

PPPPS: When asked to make the purses for CK I was also asked if I would consider being a 'vintage supplier' for them - though nice to be asked I thought at the time it would be 'too much' so declined.  Prompted by this post I have found  out that the person who asked me is now the 'Senior Vintage Buyer' at Cath Kidston. Just think that my 'stuff' could have been displayed in those shops and I could 'tra la la' ad infinitum.

I am reviewing these longer posts and think that, in order to cut down on the wanderings I will stick to one item in future.  Any thoughts re: posting enhancements?

Wherever you are in the world I wish you happy tra la la'ing.

I am very grateful that I get to tra la la when perhaps some cannot

PPPPPS: Overheard:
Customer: 'What are these called?'
Assistant: 'Oh those are Aguilera'
They were Aquilegia.............
I did not know if it would be worse to pipe up or not so I just moved on..........