Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nice to know

According to the UK Smack Blog I am now considered a Diva!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back, but limping.

Scroll down if you want to see pics of Herne Bay Festival, as I just found an entry I hadn't finished due to pc meltdown.

Still no sign of a fixed laptop, Wayne is too busy at the moment having just started the ground clearing work on the second housebuild, and also having sold the house they are in, with the threat of being homeless in 5 weeks.

Kelly understood my absolute frustration at having no computer access, and since they have an abundance of laptops and pcs in their house, she very kindly has given me her extremly old - ancient even - laptop. Poor old 'Dilbert' limps along at a very slow speed, cant cope with big programs like photoshop, has to be permenantly plugged into the mains or he dies, and weighs a ton, but already I love him!

Having been round to dad, downloaded all my camera memory cards and burnt them onto disc, the first plan of action was to get them all uploaded to net. I was in the process of doing that before my own lappy died, but this was a slow process as I was uploading for printing and cleaning each one up before loading. This time round the whole lot are going online and then once saved, I will slowly replace each as I clean it. There is no way I want to loose these photos.

The latest ones are a little special anyway. When the girls were small, I was at college doing my degree, and mum was working so it fell on good ol' G'dad to do the childcare bit. Often on nice days they would, on the spur of the moment, decide to go off in the car on a picnic. Now, G'dad's idea of a picnic was simply to get a large box, and sweep the contents of the cupboards into it. No buttering bread and wrapping it up ready to eat when you got there. Oh no. You just throw in the whole loaf, the butter dish, and a knife, and sort that out when you get there. Laura only ate salad cream sandwiches, Kelly ate whatever was on offer (except brussel sprouts) so whole bottle of salad cream went in, plus anything else dad could find, including the tin opener. Drink was a flask of hot water and oxo cubes.

As younsters, both girls loved these improptu outings so while on holiday Laura asked G'dad to take her for 'one of his picnics'. So yesterday we went together with her to Knole Park to see the deer. The park is only £2.50 to get your car into (as National Trust Members Mum and Dad get in for nort) and you can go in the house but this was not what we were at. We had a quick look at the many many deer,

admiring the many deer

a quick race up the hill

watch some more deer

set out the picnic, note the box of food behind mum

'I think this goes here' - note picnic box and bags of more food

Happy but hungry bunnies we settled down to admire the view and munch away to our hearts desire. But nothing is ever that simple with us is it? First came 'THE WASP'. Only one (and the only one we have been pestered by all year) but Laura is terrified of them so there was lots of jumping up and down (not easy from that table) waving of hands and shouting.

Having got rid of that pesky thing, we then had more trouble!

He was very persistant, and very tame.

Despite warnings about not feeding the deer because they might bite, mum still wacked it on the nose, flayed it with a tea-towel.

Dad pulled his antlers away (gently)

and Laura tried to entice it away with some bread.

Finally it got away with an apple which was way too big and hard for it to eat, so back it came.

In the end the only thing to do was eat quickly and pack everything away fast.

Finally, realising we had nothing left to pinch it went off to the next picnicing party, and mum did laugh when they started to attemp sending it back to us!!!

It really is a beautiful picnic spot, and was good fun (the deer actually made the day) so if you are close and get the chance do go in for a look see and a spot of lunch.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This might be fun!!

On Monday I had a disasterous day. In the morning my laptop caught a virus and while scanning with AVG Kelly sent me a text. I had to go downstairs to get my mobile, and when I came back the laptop had turned itself off. When I turned it back on, it had completley lost explorer and all my peripherals had gone. I could neither back up or load new software, so couldnt even do a complete restore of windows. It is now with Wayne, patiently waiting for him to have time to mend it (fingers crossed).
Luckily I have at least hooked the wii up to the net so I can manage to get some limited use online. Game consoles are amazing!

Then at lunch time half of my tooth fell out!!! Which meant yesterday it was a trip to the dentist. I havent been for about 3 years but when I explained why he was very understanding. He said that apart from the £500 for a new crown my teeth and gums are fine (unless anything comes back on the x-rays.

Life with no computer is a real pain. To start with I cant scrap as I cant print out any of my 'new' photos (all on discs or pc and needing the printer) and neither can I clean up my older photos, or do any of the 101 hybrid scrappy things I normally do using the computer.

I cant read my emails, as the wii will let me onto hotmail but not open anything on the page.

I cant find out anything. I have lost count of the things I think of durring the day to go discover more about, only to realise I cant now. Its too much hassle hooking up to the wii (having waited for the telly to be free), plugging in a key board, trying to find pages using a wii remote.

So, no photos to share this time round, and lets hope for a speedy recovery for my little lappy. :(

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Not all of the seaside towns are dead.

Yesterday was the official opening of HerneBay Festival.Undaunted by our recent experiences at Margate, Ramsgate and Whitstable I phoned up mum and dad and they agreed to come with me (Martin being at golf). Dad was a little reluctant - Whitstable really had been a sad affair - but agreed to come pick me up.

An aside while we wait for him to turn up LOL - Whitstable local papers had been full of complaints about how the Oyster Festival and Regatta had been handled. It appeared that it had been decided somewhere to double up the two events and the result was

  • Overcrowding, there simply was no where to park, literally, making the whole town a nightmare. Many more popular pubs had no room at the inn, etc etc
  • Tankerton (where the regatta is held) got left off all publicity and no one knew there were events going on up there. Everything was centered around the town
  • Many traders said trade was down because visitors to the town would have come twice or those who normally come for the regatta didnt come as they didnt know about the move of date - true since my cousin who lives in Dartford was one of them, who phoned me up a week later to see if the regatta was on
  • The carnival ended up getting left out of the mix altogether and with no planned events on carnival day many traders had no extra trade
Anyway back to HerneBay. We parked on the seafront, no problem with parking as Herne Bay has 4 big car parks and plenty of off street availablilty. We walked along the sea front. There was obviously going to be lots going on but we had arrived a little early as the planned events all started after the Parade of the Giants. In the town the Classic cars and bikes were parked available for all the guys to have a squint at, so we whiled away a pleasant 20 mins remembering the ones my dad had first driven when I was a kid.

The one we owned when I was small,

The one dad admired (because he is in to Mercs at the mo)

And the one I wish I had had (although I really wanted a Triumph spitfire or MGB GT)

The town was packed but there was nothing that looked like the official route so it took us a bit of time to choose the ideal spot to stand. In the end we watched from the very beginning. It wasnt a long parade, only 3 giants and a couple of bands - this is a recent event and I guess its to make up for the fact that we cant have street walkers at the carnivals any more (Health and Safety dont 'cha know). But it did look like all were having a great time and there was a good community atmosphere.
Herne Bay's giantess

The biggish bloke at the back is Whitstable's town giant.

Music to dance to

Sea creatures

Friday, August 15, 2008

This week

Since coming back from Dorset we have been very busy enjoying the rest of the time that Martin has had off on holiday. A bit of a run down on what we have been up to - just to show we can have just as much fun holidaying at home.

Friday - washing, shopping, gardening, ironing, ...

Saturday - popped out to buy me a new pair of trainers (£15 for a pair of
Rebok Classics!!) and then went to see Kelly (who was not doing her kitchen as it was raining and they needed to get outside to cut wood) The neighbours had a domestic ending with the police being called.

Sunday - Martin played golf for most of the morning and saw his dad in the afternoon. We were going to have the kids over for a BBQ but rained.

Monday - We live right on the coast so I wanted a day at the seaside doing all the seaside things, candy floss, fish and chips, ice-creams, sandcastles, paddling etc. I also wanted to give Mart a go at pitch and putt golf so we headed out to
Margate. What a huge huge dissappointment. The pitch and putt had long been shut down (although it is a public park and the council still own it so we couldnt see why, since they need little upkeep), the dreamland site was a building site/car park, most if not nearly all of the shops on the seafront had been boarded up and then covered in grafitti, there was rubbish blowing down the street, and the place, which is usually heaving in August was all but deserted. We couldnt believe how a place could deteriate in such a short time. Dreamland going can not be the only cause as many of the seaside towns we had visited lately do not have that attraction, but it did seam as if the local council had just given up on the place.

Disgusted we continued around the coast line to Palm Bay were a new (to us) pitch and putt had sprung up. It
prooved fairly popular too and although the wind was blowing in off the sea, the rain clouds meneced overhead and I was pretty useless, we had a brilliant time.

wasn't the right place to get the fish and chips though, being practically all there was there was a few beach huts and a pitch and putt course so we got in the car and drove on to Broadstairs. We hadn't realised that last week was the Folk Week in Broadstairs, so this was one seaside town that was packed to the gills with hippy types and those enjoying the Morris men and folky music. We had some really tasty fish and chips on the prom looking out to sea, walked round the craft stalls on the cliff, ate an ice cream and then decided to complete the coast line by buying our doughnuts in Ramsgate.

Encouraged by
Broadstairs we were devastated to discover Ramsgate was in much the same state as Margate. The huge arcade and fun fair on the front had been knocked down to make way for apartment and luxury hotel development but was nothing but a pile of rubble, the casino now replaced by two others in the nearby locality, was boarded up and looking very sad - a beautiful Victorian building going to rack and ruin.

Tuesday - we were going to go out for a picnic with Laura but she wasnt feeling too good. Not liking the look of the weather we decided to stay home. I scrapped all day and Martin watched cricket and football and the olympics.

Wednesday - Ollie had given us a new shower head for the shower but when I put it on we discovered the old shower did have a leak and we needed a new one after all. I was off to the flicks with mum and Laura to see Mamma mia although Laura was still ill so didnt come in the end) so left dad and Martin putting it in. They were still putting it in when we came home 3 hours later, only to discover it was faulty and they had to take it off, take it back and start all over again.

Thursday - Again Laura was feeling too ill to join us on a picnic so we decided to go pick up some leaflets from our threatened Tourist Information Center to see where we could go. (Please go sign the petition on the prime minister's web site to sav e our TI centre). Biddenden Vineyard looked good on the leaflet and was free. It wasnt that brilliant when we got there, as there was no tour, you had to walk round the vines on your own, no information notices, only the names of some of the grapes and when they were planted, and no promised look at the cider making or bottling. The woman in the shop, although helpful was not really interested in her customers, most of the stuff in the shop was bought in and not made on the premises, and as we turned to leave and eat our lunch the heavens opened.

No good for a picnic because even when the rain eventually stopped, the ground was way too wet. We drove for nearly an hour round the countryside looking for a place to stop. Not that many years back you could stop anywhere to take a picnic but not so nowadays. Anyway eventually the sun came out, and we stopped in Beneden by the church

and sat in the car eating our goodies and watching the learner car drivers practice their three point turns.

Today - another doing nothing day, as we bought Laura, still feeling ill, over to us just to get her out the house and to get some food in her, and sortedout most of the 'Save the date' cards for the wedding, ready to be posted.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Looks like little effort spent

.... but this weeks Pencil Lines sketch LO had taken the best part of a day. Mainly because I have made most of the elements from scratch.

Here is what I did;


BG Lolipop
Valerie Brown digi kit - 'A good Life'
Chipboard sheets
Ellison qk alpha Curlie Girl
Bazille cardstock
MM Notelette (thankyou Mel)
Scraps of cs
shimmer paints
sheet of transparancy

One of the examples on Pencil lines this week was a LO by Janine which had used several photos instead of one large one. I wanted to do the same, but am usu ally hopeless at croping them to fit. This time I decided that while I was cleaning the photos up in photoshop I would use a layering technique to fit them all into the larger space. This took a while but did mean I could change the pattern and size of the photos until I was happy with the spacing, something you cant do when you are cutting with scissors. I flattened the image and printed it out as one photo.

I gutted the sheet of bazille so that I could double mat photo. Thats when the fun started.

I wanted to match the colours in the BG cs but didnt have anything to hand so I decided to use some of my digi elements as hybrid stash. The flower is from 'A good life'kit although I altered the colour and flood filled the middle with blue. I printed it out and glued on to chipboard to provide some texture. The 'remember this' tag was part of the kit but the summer fun I had to make myself in photoshop. The Butlin book plate was also a digi element printed out onto white cs, glued onto chipboard and then chalks were used to give a fawn appearance. This was glued on using foam pads.

The other chipboard elements I cut from a variety of dies on my zipemate, and either covered in paper, painted with cosmic shimmer or glittered. The title was cut from the curlie girl die cuts in chipboard and blue paper scraps, which were glued over the top of each other and stuck on.

The journalling is computer printed onto transparency.

The florishes on the flower are rub ons from the French twist kit from Scrummy Cafe.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Waiting for glue to dry

While waiting for the glue to dry on the letters for my latest layout, I thought I would write up what I did to make it again, as it prooved so popular last time.

This layout was done as part of the Summer Stash Bash being run on UKS throuhout August. This one uses a Becky Fleck Page map and is part of the Tuesday Technique challenge - to use stamps somewhere.


Fancy pants Floral Chic My sweetie paper
Autumn Leaves florish stamps
MM alphabet stamps
Some chipboard or back of notepad
Green and white acyrlic paint
Cosmic shimmer powder (blue, green, red, yellow)
Doodlepack digi kit by Iona Havenaar
Sheet of transparency
G;ossy accents glue

The sketch called for four photos but I didnt have four in a 'set' so as last time, I had to mess around in photoshop before I could get started. Having picked these photos they seem to match the paper so well I just couldnt resist. And the paper was way too prrruudy to cover up, so instead of using the sketch as it stood I changed things a bit. In order to use ALL the pretty pattern I used my snap off craft knife and a glass cutting mat to cut out the flowers and swirls in the pattern just enough to slip the photos underneath.

I gutted the back of the top photo in order to use the back of the double sided cs as the journalling block.

For the stamping part of the challenge I used the swirl stamp on the naked chipboard, using stazon black ink after painting the chipboard with acrylic paint using a sponge brush. I dabbed white paint into the green to match the green paper. When dry I carefully cut the swirls out and glued on to make the journal frame.

Still using black stazon I stamped the title with the MM foam alpha (gosh its a while since I used those) and then using the same technique as before, smeared glue over them and then glittered with pee wee glitter.

Finally, the bubbles are printed out from a rather old digi kit by Iona Havenaar, called Doodlepack. I resizes some of the round tags which looked a bit like bubbles, printed them out onto a transparency, then used red, yellow, blue and green cosmic shimmer powder to paint a rainbow effect. Once glued onto the LO I added a 'bubble' of rangers glossy accents to make them 3D.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Watch out, the Griswolds are out and about.

Yes I went and booked a few days away and as usual it turned into somewhat of another Griswold story. We weren't going anywhere having spent so much on our USA trip, but Laura put me onto a site listing all the hotels/B&B's with cheap late availability, so since they were going to Cornwall, I settled for 3 nights in Bournemouth.

With my multimap directions all printed out, off we set. The journey down was not too bad, despite the rain we did really good time until we got right to the turn off for Bournemouth. The police had shut the road!! And we had no other directions! Martin did what any red blooded male in that situation would do - took the next turn off. And then for an hour we sat in a traffic jam, as everyone else did the same thing.

Thanks to my brilliant navigational skills we did find our B&B and although rather basic it was comfortable enough and had a wonderful panoramic view from the window. Of course our room was on the 2nd floor, and of course the lift was broken so we did have to climb 6 flights of stairs every time we went up to our room, but Martin was chuffed to get a front door key to the pub!!!

We had soon dumped our bags and went out to have a short look round - we were based about 6 miles from the centre of Bournemouth, and about 1.5 miles from Boscombe Pier. We had intending only a quick recky as it was rather damp and very windy but we seemed to keep walking, wanting to catch the land train that we never saw, and ended up walking all the way to the pier, up through the chine and back again!!!!
We did treat ourselves to a MR Whippy ice cream for our troubles though.

One advantage of our long sit in traffic was that we had spotted all the best eating chains on the way so we opted for the Harvester, arriving just in time to catch the end of the half price early bird menu. The portions were so big, I had a large chicken quarter left to put towards the next days picnic.

Our first full day dawned just as predicted by the weather people - chucking it down with rain. But we had our wet weather gear, it wasn't cold, and we were determined. We set out for Lolworth Cove but soon decided it might be better to save that treat for the following promised dryer day, and choose something with indoor opportunities, we then opted for Dorchester which advertised a Tutankhamen exhibition. It may well have but everyone else had a similar idea and the queue for the converted church snaked around the courner. Hmm, and at £8 per person perhaps not. OK we had seen a beautiful flower and plant strewn river walk advertised and it wasn't raining.

We passed the town museum on the way down to the river, where we were enticed by the promise of a 'Toys of the past' presentation .... until we got to the door and were shocked to see the town council demanded £6.50 per person to get in there too. The Teddy Bear Museum and The Terracotta People Exhibition were equally as expensive, and the river walk when we eventually found it was nothing more than an alley between the foundry and small stream on one side, and some corrugated sheds on the other. So we left Dorchester and headed for Weymouth. Weymouth was not quite as I remembered it from when we had taken the girls soon after Laura was born, but it is still the typical British seaside resort, and I took heaps of photos of it before all those traditions disappear for good, including the deckchair hire - not doing any trade in the rain, the flag strewn B&B houses, and one of the trampolines as featured in a very early photo of Kelly 22 years earlier. Alas there were no donkeys though.
When we last visited, Laura was but a few months old and I needed a new bra. I went into this M&S where the assistant embarrassed both herself and me by asking when the baby was to be born!!After walking along the seafront and back we got in the car and headed towards Brewers Quay which a leaflet drop had promised held lots of fun and discover. Trouble was, although we found it easily enough, there was no where to park. We finally found atop a large hill, a place to leave the car, have our picnic and walk along the coastal path back to the quay. We had to laugh, as we ate our grub, a lady walking a large dog came by. She was happy to walk past but the dog had other ideas. Having seen our sausage rolls, he was having none of it, refusing to walk on to the extend that he actually dug his claws in and lay down in the grass. He wouldn't even move when she threw his toy. It was only when another puppy appeared that he forgot us (and food) and continued on his way.

Brewery Quay was not as interesting as we had hoped, lots of craft and gift shops but many of them shut. The science exhibition and the time walk were packed but the town museum was free and very interesting.

It was getting late but we were determined to use our newly acquired English Heritage membership so once back in the car we rushed on to Portland for a wander around Portland Castle, which was quite interesting if not a bit bare of character. After that a quick dash to see Portland Bill lighthouse before dusk set in (early because of the rainy and changeable weather).

Day two and another hearty breakfast before setting off for Lulworth cove and castle. It wasn't until we pulled into Lulworth village that we both remembered there is only one car park where you HAVE to park and it cost £2.50 for 2 hours!

Unfortunately the tide was up so it was not possible to get onto the beach (especially since I had forgotten my trainers) and we couldn't do the hikes for the same reason (although looking at the size of the hills I dont think trainers would have helped much there). A few interesting things did catch our eye though.. something strange was happening on the firring range as ever so often the bay would fill with smoke......

the typical Dorset thatched houses and

this strange tree!!

I think we only used about half hour of our car park time, even walking round the rock shop, before heading to the Castle. I had been looking forward to this as they were having jousting shows all through August. Now I admit the horsemanship was very good

but we had both been privileged to watch an enactment group hold a full day of jousting at Chilham castle and this was nothing like an enactment group. It was very obvious that lances were plastic

and this was only acting - not very good acting at that. I was totally gutted as I had been looking forward to this part, I couldn't stand and watch much (the kids were all having fun though).

Our next stop was the children's farm where we got to pet some of the (very few) animals including this little sweetheart, an angora goat.

At the danger of sounding a right misery, I have to also say the castle was a huge let down too - we had paid a hefty entrance fee, so were amazed to find the castle itself had been gutted by a fire in 1929, restoration mearly ensuring it was safe for the public. No attempt at putting back what was lost, the flooring was modern laminate, the stairs metal, the roof the bare minimum. What a lost opportunity. The audio - free in English Heritage places, had to be paid for (I hadn't even noticed it at the entrance but Martin said it was there), and little in the way of posters, pictures or information. We had our picnic in the car park and after a short lay enjoying the little bit of sun, we left to explore the nearby countryside. We recognised that this area was close to where we had camped in Dorset with our friends Jan and Trev and family back in the mid 90's, spotting the pub we had waited for them to meet us on our way down, and the pub we had walked across fields and train tracks to get to. We headed onto the MOD firing range and suddenly found this view. We passed Corfe castle - it was so packed the cars were blocking the whole of the grass verge so I just took a passing photo, and then as we followed the coast line to Swanage and Wareham, we saw this sign! A toll ferry, we hadn't been on one in years.

We were on it a matter of minutes but we reckon it saved us about 20 miles journey and who alone knows how much time. It was also great fun, I got to watch all the big ferry boats crossing to the Chanel Isles right up close while we waited to board.

As if we hadnt packed enough into two days, I desperately wanted to go see the Festival of Candles being held in Bournemouth gardens every wednesday in August. When we got there it was way too early - no time had been mentioned, just that it started at dusk. On the bandstand though the Poole Brass Band were playing. The atmosphere was amazing. Despite the downpour the place was popular, people were happily sitting under umbrellas or trees listening and enjoying.

I didnt see one badly behaved child, they were all bopping away to the music. It really was fantastic. One pair of little girls, abandoned to their own divises sat on the edge of the stream paddling their toes and bouncing up and down to the William Tell overture. We were totally amazed when the band finished their set to see all the children's faces, they were so dissappointed that the music was over, they had all been having so much of a good time.

The Candle festival works this way. On stands ( a bit like those they use for fireworks that are going to give a message) all round the park are little jar tea light holders, arranged in the shapes of various symbols and icons, - a union jack, a butterfly ets. Tapers are free, and as soon as the park keepers have finished on the ladders lighting the top most candles,

it is a free-for-all as both children and adults get to light all the candles.

Again the atmospher was great and soon the whole park was lit up. Saddly the light wasnt good for taking pictures but I did my best.

What a fantastic end to our three nights away.