Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas? What christmas

Just before Christmas Kelly contracted Chickenpox from somewhere and was off work for a week, quarantined at home. As I had already been off work a fortnight with a hacking cough I was already feeling low when I managed to catch something that may have been a mutant virus from the Chicken pox or chickenpox itself or something equally as awful. This has lasted for the whole of the christmas period, christmas day I managed to open my presents but then spent the rest of the entire day asleep in bed with a headache, and it is only today that I have felt even half human.

So what were the positive bits of this year's Christmas that I did get to do, having missed out on so many of the things I normally do, such as christmas fairs and christingles?

I did get to go watch Laura's school (with Laura in the choir) sing in Canterbury Cathedral. I sat in the audience with Wayne, not singing because of my cough, but really enjoying the carols and songs.

Christmas morning we were woken at half two buy Laura phoning for Wayne's mobile number - no idea why, but this meant we actually slept through until gone 8.30 christmas. Unheard of!! All the family came over for the present opening. I got:

a cross-stitch kit, (Martin)
a wii wheel (Laura and Wayne)
Wii mario karts (Martin)
a nail varnish kit (Anne)
a book (Terry Pratchett) (mum and dad)
fury slippers (mum and dad)
cut and dry foam (Kelly)
fluxx game (kelly)

so did really well.

Then in the sales I treated myself to 20 Copic Ciao pens, Band Hero bundle for the Wii and a new dyson (yes well)

Martin entertained my mum and dad, Kelly and Ollie while I slept in bed ill, missing my christmas day, Laura and Wayne went off to join Wayne's family. Our day ended at 6 when all my lot went home.

Kelly came back for the day on boxing day but we didnt do much, Ollie was working.

On Sunday laura and Wayne came for their 'Christmas day' bringing their two Australian guests Gemma and Mike. We ate, drank and played both Wii karts and card games.

So there were some good bits despite me feeling so rough and spending another day in bed on Monday!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas crafting, mats and place settings

Despite still feeling like death warmed up, and coughing all over the place, I have had a pretty good week this week.

Monday Kelly sat one of her accountancy exams and then came round to play in the 'bubbles'. Their house sell/move is not going as smoothly as they had hoped so she was pretty down and needed the destressing time in the hot tub. Its a strange experience hot tubbing in minus degree temps but still great fun.

On wednesday Martin and I took the mad decision to take a trip up to Bluewater shopping centre. We only wanted a new pair of shoes for Mart and a Secret Santa present but I really wanted to enjoy some christmas atmosphere and it wasnt too hard to twist Martin's arm with the promise of a meal out and a trip to the cinema.

Sadly there wasnt much in the way of Christmas atmosphere, not even many decorations in the mall, but as we walked towards TFI we looked out the window to see little flurries of snowflakes falling. Eating lunch these flurries turned to huge flakes and did try to lay, but by the time we came out of the cinema the rain had started and much of the snow had gone. Thank goodness as I hate snow with a passion.

The film 'The Nativity' was brilliant and I urge everyone to go see it. Lots of laughs, lots of poiency, and some fantastically talented child actors!! Take your tissues.

We then wandered across to the Winterwonderland where I got to have a play with my camera to attempt some of the stuff I had been learning in my photo course.

Some reflections on the fozen river.
The ice rink - and it was real ice, we thought it would be dry
Yesterday I decided to take a day crafting as I wanted to get some stuff done for the christmas table. I started with some really tatty dingy looking old cork table place mats. I covered them in gesso as a base.

2 dry coats later I was able to sand them down and paint with white acrylic. While the paint was still wet I used some Plaid Denim Blue on a sea sponge to give an 'inked' feel around the edges.

The snowflakes are cut on the cricut using a variety of sizes and a ding font called WWFlakes. These were inspired by Kaths snowflakes, simply ink the edges (I used Sky Blue colorbox) and dust with glamour dust.

The pictures I chose were a freebie a found last year on a blog that has now closed down which is a shame as the lady had some serious digi talent.

Finally finished off with a coat of protective PVA (although I am thinking of getting some sticky back plastic so they can be wiped over) and voila.

Matching snowflakes piled in groups of three joined with foam dots made the place names/serviette holders,

simply topped with a pearl.

The bands are card put through the zip-e-mat using a cuttlebug folder.

Glue onto bands cut from toilet roll holders, add some name labels printed out in word and hopefully they will look very effective come Christmas lunch time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Photography course for christmas

I was lucky enough to be one of the 100 people who managed to get a place on Cheryl Jonsons 12 Days of Christmas photography course. The assignments are aimed at getting us prepared for taking photos on the big day. I havent done so well at the tasks what with being ill and not getting the decs down until late, but I thought I would have a go at getting started.

After the initial obligatory self-portrait that CJ loves to get us to do on all of her wonderful workshops

the first task was to work with the white balance menu's on our cameras and see what the different setting do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two more tags

As much as I adore looking at Sir Tim's tags, not all of them are to my taste and so (as well as feeling ill) I have not kept up wth all 11 out of the 12 tags he has promised us. This morning I woke quite early though so I set to and whiped up day 7 tag and day 8 tag.

Tag 7 was fairly simple to duplicate as it was much of the same by way of techniques and masking is fairly old hat although using acetate is a new twist. I used one of my own stamps instead of a santa and I embossed the white swirls ( Rhonna Farrer and Tia Bennet scoll stamps) as I was afraid the problem with the acrylic paint and the distress inks would re-occur.

Tag 8 again simple - in fact probably the easiest so far. I used some rainbow coloured vellum I have had in my stash for years, and a candle stamp (I am not into the metalic bits so didnt bother with the key. The only thing I did different was to colour my leaves and candle with distress stickles which I think gives a better feel to the whole thing.

I am now way behind in my christmas card making so I am not going to bother with the last of his tags, 8 is way more than I have ever managed and I am pleased with myself and the results. I hope I have convinced a few people that Ranger products, although wonderful in themselves, do not NEED to be used to acheive good results.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Playing catch up

I am still feeling pretty rough and still hacking and coughing over everthing but I have managed two more of Tim's tags (although not of best quality as I cant seem to concentrate for that long). I am still pondering a work-around day 4 tag but I do have a bit of an idea which I want to work on. However here are tags 5 and 6. Tag 5 was done more or less as perscribed, except I used a different stamp and ordinary embossing powder. I did try using gold acrylic paint but even though I dried it, once I started to distress, it all got washed off, so I ended up embossing the swirls as well.

Tag 6 was a little harder. I found an .svg file on the net for both the car and the tree (yes I did cut them a little too small but didnt feel up to starting again. I then embossed both the car (black) and the tree (Golden Ocean), then to replace the fluffy soft stuff, I used Personal Impressions Puff White embossing powder. The background is an old sheet of Daisy D which I rubbed over with Tea Dye distress ink, because I really do feel guilty about damaging books, and just cant bring myself to use the pages in scrapping. The sentiment again I have printed out onto transparancy and glued on using the xyron machine.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Chest infection

I have started tag 4 and have plans for day 5 tag but right now my chest is too tight and coughing over embossing powder is not really helpful to making beautiful creations so tags are on hold for the mo.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Old hat!

As much as I love love love what Tim Holtz does with his wonderful Ranger's products as we all know there really isnt anything new under the sun, and so it goes with his Day three tag. I had seen this plaid technique many years ago at a demo stand at Ally Pally, The lady there was using a Kaleidacolor pad and a rubber brayer to achieve much the same result.

But hey! For once I did actually own some Alcohol Inks giving me the opportunity to try out both ways.
As I said yesterday, I dont have a blending tool, but I got round that by taping a bit of ordinary felt onto an acrylic blog, which worked well enough.

My first attempts, where I used all of the 8 colours of alcohol ink turned out a bit of a disaaarster (Said in best Craig Revel Hallwood voice)

so I tried with my Kaleidacolor Calyspos pad and breyer. I was much happier with this but felt it was too dark for printing straight onto and will use it later to try some cut out silhoettes
I finally got closer to what I wanted by using only three Alcoholic inks - butterscotch, bottle and terracota. I used a Black Impress dual marker to draw in the black lines, the trees (I didnt have the stamp) and the spatters.

I have to say, I dont like this tag anywhere near as much as the first two, although it is a fun technique to have under your belt, which is probably why it hasnt turned out so brilliantly. I think if I did it again I would use a stamp and black embossing powder to get the picture onto the background and I am not at all happy with the drawn black lines, but I am pleased I still managed to find a 'get-around' for one more of Tim's tags without spending a huge fortune on new products.

In other news.
The supply agency is still providing very little work - yesterday I agreed (as a PR exercise) to work as a Nursery nurse over on the island. It seemed the agency had messed up the booking and couldnt get anyone to cover the day. As it turned out I wasnt really needed. I was helping in a KCC run creche while mum's were on a cookery course. I dont know if it was the cold weather or the proximity to christmas but as it was they ended up with only 5 children in the morning and 4 in the afternoon, and well overstaffed! I was also dead bored as it is really little more than a baby sitting exercise. As I said though I hope it was good PR.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tags without Tim

Well really its tags without Tim's products. I have now had a go at Tim Holtz's day two tag and again managed something on very limited Ranger products.

Tim's second tag involved firstly stamping a frame image from his stamp collection but of course I didnt have a frame - infact the only frame I own is a really old one by Anna Griffin that is in a set I bought from QVC on a whim and then never used they never would stick to the acrylic blocks. It turned out there was a fault in the rubber of that batch but by the time that was discovered, I couldnt find my QVC reciept so they never did get returned.

Tim embossed his frame stamp with distressed embossing powder - I of course had to settle for ordinary gold embossing powder.

Surprise, the background that Tim colour washed with blended distress inks? I actually owned 2 of the 3 colours he used, and only had to sub the green with SU! garden green, and I blended the whole lot using a baby wipe as, you guessed it, I dont have a blending applicator and felts. (Are you all feeling sorry for me yet?)

I ended up printing the Seasons Greetings sentiment (Rosewood font) as I didnt have any rubber stamp fonts I liked. The swirls are the edge of SU!'s Baroque Motifs swirl, stamped with more Garden Green ink.

The splatters posed a bit of a problem until I remembered I had some Tesco Craft Metalic silver which I mixed with some white acrylic paint, and I am fairly pleased with the results. I will admit that despite Sir Tim's warnings to cover anything not to be splattered I still ended up with a snow flecked key board!!

Finally I finished with the only bit of metal I could find and then remember those snowflakes I used as masks yesterday? Now covered in black embossing powder they gave just the right finishing touch.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sir Tim's Tags

Let me apolgise for the poor photos in advance.

Yesterday Sir Tim started his annual '12 tags for Christmas' classes and as usual the two we have had so far are lush. The trouble is in order to duplicate them he suggests a very long list of his Ranger products, none of which I own. So I thought I would have a go using what I had to hand.

I do own 5 distress ink pads but none the colour I wanted. However long before distress inks it was possible to produce the inky background effects that Tim is so brilliant at using watercolour paints so having used my baby Cricut (and the George cart) to cut out a suitable tag I nabbed my blue watercolours and set to work.

Ok not so good as it could have been but I was fairly pleased with the results.I used exactly the same technique as described on Tim's blog just mixed in paint instead of ink.

Once I had dried off the paint I used studio G snowflake stamps and Stazon ink, while the swirls are Heidi Grace, stamped on using SU! Ballet Blue. I used Ranger Crackle Glaze as a sub for new rang of but it did a similar job, and I love the cracking sound it made as I gently heated it to dry.

I couldnt find a snowman ,svg online that I liked, and none of my existing snowmen stamps were of a suitable size but this reindeer svg from Wanda's blog which, with its swirly antlers I thought would fit the bill. In order to get the background effect I cut out a few snowflakes and used them as masks, so that I could ink the reindeer all over with versimark and emboss with black powder.

For the rest of the tag I used similar techniques but substituted a few more products - white paint was Reeves (cheap from Tesco), which I rubbed over both the die cut and the tag, I made the icicles with pva glue and Glamour dust. At least the ribbon was a-la-Tim!

No where near as good as the talented man but at least it inspired me and I am really pleased with it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas - is it coming or on hold?

Mainly because my family cant get their acts together and make a decision over what they are planning on doing Christmas day, and partly because my mum has been so ill (she had to be rushed back into hospital again last week. They tested all her blood for clots and now she is back home but has to have a pile more tests yet before they can tell what is wrong) Christmas is taking a slow time to arrive with us this year.

I have been making some cards - but since inspiration is lacking I have been doing quite a few scraplifts.

I have already missed out on the Christmas Fair held at The County Show Grounds since I usually go with mum and dad, and this weekend I had hoped to use our key tickets for a free entry into the Christmas Market and Fair being held at Leeds Castle, but Martin had scheduled himself in for a Sunday work day. T
here is little left to go to now as come December most of the fairs are over and I have yet to persuade anyone to come to the Dickens Festival (so brilliant last year) with me yet. I do intend getting the decorations up next weekend even though the two days Martin has off this week are the two that I am booked to work! Oh well.

Some good news. The people who own the house that Ollie and Kelly have put an offer on have finally found a place to move to themselves. It is empty so completing the chain meaning all systems go for their move. Kelly also finally got the pay rise promised to her two years ago for her exam passe
s so well done babe and that will make the move less painful financially.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yes I know I said

I wouldnt neglect my poor little blog again, but life just gets in the way doesn't it. This time it was my poor mum who having had a small minor op, came home for a few days only to be rushed back in again with a suspected heart attack.

Thankfully tests showed it was not an attack but she still has to go back for further tests to find out exactly what did happen. Whatever it was involved her being kept in until 3 the following day, and then a further 4 hour wait for her perscription to be filled by the hospital pharmacy, 100m away!!!
Still she is home now and slowly getting better.

The kids all came over on Saturday to let off some fireworks in the garden and stuff themselves full of traditional bonfire night grub. I put my new camera onto 'firework' mode but it still took rather naff photos We had a great time and the kids (plus Auzzie visitors) didnt go home until gone midnight.

I have also done a fair bit of teaching at the lovely village school that I really love teaching in, and have a few more days booked there this week too.

I spent all my birthday money on a new hard drive - it is taking forever to persuade many of my discs to run long enough to copy the data over onto it but it is going to be great to have all my digi kits, photos and music in one place instead of hunting through heaps of cd backups so will be well worth it in the end.

And I have been busy making Christmas cards, using a mix of my old stamps, my new SU! stamps my cuttlebug embossing folders and my cricut.

Baubles cut on cricut using SCAL and a downloaded free SVG file off the net. Fronds cut using a punch

Snowflakes cut on crucut using a snowflake dingbat, covered in snowy glitter and then layered onto card.

Finished card, ,I think thats an old Hero Arts stamp.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Poor little blog, its been a bit neglected of late. And since loads of folk are now following and DOING Shimmelle's blog prompt class, all the blogs but mine are full of fun and exciting blog posts whilst mine languishes in loneliness.

Soory blog, I promise to visit you more often with news, and visions of wonderful craftiness.

So what has bloggie missed...

We finally managed to book tickets to the ballet. I have always wanted to go to see The Nutcracker as I love the music, but have never plucked up the courage to persuade Martin to come along with me. This year though, as part of the Canterbury Festival, a special production was being shown locally. I tentively asked if we could go, and surprisingly he said OK. Mind he had to check he was on the right shift and by the time I remembered to ask if he had done that, all the tickets had sold out. I was really dissappointed. So I spent a quiet (and sulky) afternoon searching the big wide web until I found that there were a few other local theatres also showing it this year. The only problem is that the nearest venue (Herne Bay Kings Hall) is not a proper theatre but was the nearest and most sensible option (with the best dates). The King's Hall is one of those old fashioned seaside town halls, you know, like the ones you used to find on the end of beach piers, where there is a small stage but no fixed seats. The seating arrangements will depend on the number of tickets sold. If it is a full house then the chairs will be arranged theatre style (although not banked obviously) if not they will be around the edge of the hall and will come with their own table. It should therefore be quite an interesting night.

Mum went in and had a small biopsy. She seems to have come through the general anaesthetic ok and the quack reckons all is ok.

And yesterday it was MY BIRTHDAY!!!

I had to work but it was at the really nice tiny village school where all the staff are so friendly so I made up a batch of fairy cakes which went down a treat with everyone, and had a fun day with the children playing with autogiros (paper spinners).

When I got home Martin, who had been up since three as he had to go in to work early for a petrol forecourt cleaning, was really tired. Kelly was coming to visit later for tea, and we had already had some debate about what to feed her. I asked him why we had been trying to decide between chops and sausages when, since it was my birthday we should be having the traditional steak and chips supper? In that case he replied, lets just cross the road and have it in the Hungry Horse. Before I knew it we were sitting at a pub table with not only Kelly but Laura and Wayne too. The food had improved immensly since our last visit and we were very stuffed when we finally got home, and climbed into the hot tub.

I had heaps and heaps of birthday well wishes from my web mates and my rl mates, a good bit of money which is going to buy a new external hard drive for backup and storage, and a new gardening journal all ready for me to start gardening again in January. Oh and two large bags of skittles from the cat.

Thank you guys for a lovely day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SU! Blog Candy Prize

There was a bit of a problem in that my original prize from SU! didnt turn up. Lousette emailed the wonderful Jo who was organising it, and she has sent me goodies out of her own supplies as replacement!!!

She apparently added a little something extra as she felt bad about my prize taking so long. She is one wonderful lady. My packet arrived today and I am totally blown away by how genourous she has been. This is what she sent...ove £100 of wonderful SU goodies!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Abandoned blog?

No, its not been abandoned, I just havent had much to blog about. I havent been doing much crafting as I am slowly getting sucked into cross stitching - and I havent finished anything yet ready to show on here.

However I do need to update so here are all the things that have been happening to me and mine:-

  • Kelly and Ollie finished doing up their house, put it on the market on a wednesday, sold it on a saturday and put an offer on another house on the Monday. They are hoping to be in their new house in New Allington by christmas
  • Our real hot tub arrived and is fantastic, we have enjoyed being in it every day. The weather is still very mild so we havnt worried about getting out of it into the cold yet.
  • Laura and Wayne's new build is fast approaching second fitting stage so they also hope to be in by christmas.
  • We were invited to tea with Martin's two brothers and their respective other halves. Martin's dad has been discovered to have a heart murmer and has to go for ongoing tests. He is going to be 90 next January so the meet up was to discuss plans for a celebration. Dad however only wants a very small affair - dinner at Chris's for just the 8 of us, no grandchildren no friends or extended family.
  • We went up to town to see Calander Girls at the Noel Coward theatre. Our cheapo 3rd balconly tickets were upgraded to third row circle for free, Martin was one of only about 5 men in the audience and it was so funny we both litterally cried with laughter.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Winning streak

I must be on a bit of a roll at the moment because as well as winning the Sketch challenge for last month on the Pad, and the SU! blog candy, I found out last night I have also won another Sketch challenge over on Pickleberry Crafts blog. !!!!!!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

OMG!!! I won

I am still a bit stunned but after blogging about it and encouraging everyone to go to Suzanne's , Lousette's and Jenny's blog to see all the wonderful new SU! goodies, my name was actually picked on Lousettes sit and I won the blog candy!!!

My prize should be here by the end of the week and I will be able to share what I get.


Ok in other news. It has been super quiet work wise with only 2 days supply in the 4 weeks the children have been back at school. Out of bordom I decided to sand down the table in my craftroom and re-stain it in a much lighter colour. It is actually the dinning room table we bought back in 1985, a treat to us both after spending 3 years waiting for something to be done about the house we were living in, which was subsiding. When we finally moved we lashed out on a rather expensive dining room suite, a solid wood table and 6 solid wood chairs. Trouble is back in the 80's dark stained wood was all the rage but now it is just too dark for the small room. We bought a pine and glass replacement table a few years ago and the old table was placed in the craft room where it has slowly become covered in ink and pain and glue.

Sanding it down has been a horrible job, with dust everywhere - its going to be fun cleaning up all my craft stuff afterwards, I had to do it in situ as the weather has been too wet to take it outside. I have managed to finish the top surface though and now need Martin to take it apart so I can do the legs.

On Saturday I got a call from mum ..... dad had been knocked over by the dog while they were playing ball together, and had ended up in the pond. He was a bit shaken up, but managed to get to two parties that evening so I think he was ok in the end.

I also went over to help Kelly clear up her house after all the decorating in order for the carpet man to come lay the carpets. Their house is looking really good now it is nearly finished. Ollie came over on Sunday and collected the spare bed so that they can now present it as a proper 3 bedroom house.

Oh and in final news, we have booked tickets to go and see Calendar Girls in London next week.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

New SU! catty launch

The new Stamping Up! Catalogue was launched yesterday, and alongside lots of the previous catty's stamps and goodies there are a whole heap of new toys for stampers, cardmakers and scrappers to play with.

Suzanne, Lousette, and Jenny were chosen to help the launch, they had to make some cards, layouts or altered projects to showcase on their blogs at the stroke of midnight, all from a surprise package of products sent to their homes yesterday. A very tight timescale. The girls have come up with some amazing stuff and the eyecandy alone is worth visiting their blogs, but there is also a few SU! goodies up for grabs in a prize draw if you go make some comments.

As always the three girl's work is amazing, and well worth taking a look at.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A bit of crafting

A card for the wedding we went to.

This was from a sketch but I cant remember where from. I did it about a month ago and it has been sitting on my camera eversince.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


of missed blog posts that is. I kinda got stuck because I needed to download the photos to go with the posts and couldnt find the lead for the camera.

Now I have to relly on my poor little brain to remember all the stuff we have been up to. Oh well.

First off, a hot tub arrived!

Not ours, not the one we have ordered and paid a deposit on. No this is the one normally sent out for hire. Ours is still (apparently) in the middle of the Atlantic, making its way here from Texas. The company making them had run out of the colour interior we had ordered but forgot to tell our supplier. As a gesture of good will, our supplier have let us have the hire tub for free until ours is finally delivered. Hopefully within the next two weeks.

Ours is way better, ours is bigger, square, has a waterfall, more jets, a better light system, diverting power and heaps more extras. Still this is still fun. It took a day to heat to temp, and I am having fun playing with the chemistry set to keep the water clean and clear, and we have been in it every day (sometimes more than twice and sometimes very late into the evenings.

That was even with me spending 3 nights at my parent's house sitting and dog watching while they went to Woburn on their Tesco vouchers. They didnt have a really good time as mum was ill and the hotel was pretty dire.

I also got two days work at a new school to me, with lovely staff and a delightful class.

Last Saturday we had been invited to one of Laura's mate's wedding reception. Suddenly we are the cool parents and getting invites left right and centre. Very odd. We had a great time though. (I think the kids were kinda dissappointed they didnt get me drunk this time).

Wayne having fun at the reception

We scrub up ok for old wrinklies!

Not as well as Gemma and Laura though!

I invited the kids over for a play in the hot tub and dinner on Sunday. The two Auzzies, Mike and Gemma opted out completely, not even bringing their togs, Wayne had bought his but after sticking his hand in the water, claimed it was too cold and wouldnt get changed. I did finally persuade Laura to get in but she didnt really enjoy it, claiming she couldnt see the point and that she was cold. Mmm, yet already Martin and I are feeling the benifits, aching backs and knees way better and a new energy seeping into our old bodies. Maybe its an age thing?

Kelly and Ollie are still busy readying their house to sale. They had the outside painted (all the previous owner's rendering was flaking and falling off) and they were doing a final push on the painting inside when I went over yesterday to help out in the garden. I got a fair bit cleared but they are not gardeners the pair of them, the garden is like nearly 150 yards long and it is totally overrun with weeds. I managed to sting my hand on a rather vicious stinger nettle hiding in the lawn and had to call a stop to my efforts after 3 hours work.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New? Maybe not .....

Saturday our new(ish, they have been there 4 months now) neighbours invited us round for their housewarming party.

Now you know what its like, you dont get any social life for months and then you get heaps of invites and they are all for the same day? Kelly had also invited her dad up to hers to watch his team play on the new replacement channel for Sananta.

I quick chat with our neighbour (Dave) and it was agreed that there was no need for us to turn up at 4 pm when the 'do' started, we could easily do both and attend the party after the footie. Infact the couple seemed really keen for us to go, asking us several times, and even at one point inviting Wayne and Laura who had popped in for a cup of tea with the dog.

After the footie (which we wont talk too much about since Spurs lost) we took a stroll around the wall into the neighbours garden. They had a brilliant set up, fairy lights in the trees, a tent at the end of the garden for the kids, a wheelbarrow full of ice and water for the beers, and enough food to feed an army. Strangely there didnt seem to be many people there, only about a dozen or so. Even more strange - and maybe even freaky, were the number of co-incidences we incurred. . . .

As we walked in, the first person I met I knew, she had been a parent of three children who went to the school I used to teach at, and had even done some part time mid-day supervising. I knew her by sight and to talk to but still dont recall her name. She remembered me though and we chatted pleasantly for a bit.

Then a young girl came up to me and said 'you dont remember me do you' But I did, she had been good friends with Laura when she was at Primary school and had even had sleepovers in a tent in my garden, something she recalled with joy. So we chatted aimably and I asked about her sister, Caroline, who had been good friends with Kelly.

I was already blown away by how small the world was really, when Liane, the lady of the house, overheard us talking to Dave about our previous address, and suddenly declared that she had grown up in the self-same road, and that her parents lived there still!!

Then to cap it all, it turns out Lianne is a card maker and stamper!! Happy days!

Dave and Lianne are lovely people and although younger than us, we hope to get to know them well.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Catching up

I couldnt be bothered to unload my camera and so I have got behind on blogging. The photos are of the BBQ we had a week ago last Sunday to celebrate a joint Happy Birthday to Kelly, a congratulations to Kelly on passing 3 more of her accountancy exams, and a bit of a belated Happy Wedding Anniversary to us.

Kelly had invited a few of her friends - the ones who would never come to us for her parties as she was growing up as they were scared of me. This was because of an incident when she was fairly young and had dissappeared into the funfair with her friends instead of meeting back up with me as arranged. I thought I had lost her and after an hour and a half of searching was on the verge of phoning the police. So when I did finally spot her, I over-reacted and shouted at her very loudly in public. Since then though her friends have finally got to know me better and agreed to come over. That meant we were 13 adults and 2 small children. We had heaps and heaps of food, and a really good afternoon.

We only have 2 months left on our English Heritage membership before it runs out, so we decided to try Dover Castle one more time. The last two attempts at visiting had been only half successful and they had just finished refurbishing the main tower, so we were expecting the last attempt to finally get it right, we were expecting great things.

It was with trepidation that we arrived to discover the car park was shut then, and that we had to park further away and catch a minivan to the visitors centre. However since this went smoothly our hopes again were raised.

Sadly I was not impressed with the new tone of the castle tower. Before, the interior had been an atmospheric walk through darkened rooms lit at intervales by interactive videos explaining the history of the castle. With our free audio guides we had quite enjoyed it. This time, the whole tower has been given over to the medieval period, and the rooms have been lit with modern lighting to reveal Ikea type furniture painted in glaring medieval colours (and I am pretty sure medieval beds were not painted garish colours of red, yellow and blue, and were heavy peices not lightweight Ikea rip offs. I guess I will be paying more attention to the new series of Merlin to see what the BBC think.

They also supplied very little in the way of historical facts. One short vid and a wall display in a seperate part of the castle was it. The only other thing they did include were three second rate actors who took the part of Alys (Richard I betrothed) Richard's brother John and an obscure french poet. Part of the show was to drag two blokes out of the audience and subject them to stupid tests of love - with no prize other than to be allowed to kiss Alys' hem!! Of course Martin totally embarrassed me by being one to the two blokes on show. Thank goodness I had not taken my camera and so was not obliged to take photos!

The redeeming feature of the day was that on the way back we stopped at Elham for a lovely ploughman's lunch in a pub.

Kelly and Ollie had been off all week to do a final push on their house decorating before putting it on the market. On Friday Mum Dad and I went over for a cuppa and to see how they were doing.Really well we were impressed to see, so we carried on a little further up the road to visit my cousin and his wife. We sat chatting in the sunshine in his garden and before we knew it three hours had passed. I really must meet up with my cousins more often so we dont have so much catching up to do each time.

News on our hot tub - it has got held up for another two weeks so the company supplying are letting us have one of their hire tubs for free - it is arriving on Friday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hop Fest

Normally we go to the Hop Festival with our friends but this year everyone was otherwise occupied. There was a change in the format this year anyway, 3 big stages were being set up for daytime gigs rather than squeezing into pubs in the evening to hear local bands. I wasn't so sure on this, as part of the atmosphere is squeezing in the pubs, but I suspect it is in an effort to cut the binge drinking - as if!

So I wasn't
going, until Mum and Dad called round to collect me.

It was rather strange holding the hop festival in the day and in brilliant sunshine but the Indian Summer has hit Kent hard and temps were hot enough that we could have all done with our sun hats. Instead we purchased hop hats!

The smell of hops took us right back to the '60's when we used to go hop picking.

The bands were still all setting up, but there were plenty of street walkers to keep us entertained, and some of the stalls were quite interesting.

Dad liked the look of the hog roast but we felt £4 for some pork meat in a small bap rather expensive.

I would have liked to have gone back in the evening, the last couple of times we have been have been really good, but by the time Martin came home and we had eaten we were both too tired.