Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas 2011

It seems only yesterday that it was the summer holidays and yet I know it wasn't. My job in September settled in to a completely new regime with longer hours and a steep learning curve. Stitching in the evenings faltered and blogging thoughts dried up (plus blogging and Mac computers aren't compatible). Finally two weeks ago I finished the last 2 of 5 samplers I have made for friends who left in the summer term. It was a big commitment and one that I hope doesn't happen again in such demand.
We have just spent Christmas with my parents in Dorset and have now returned home as Tony has to work today and tomorrow. My main Christmas present was this beautiful Rolliecord camera - it was made in 1958 and uses 120 film (medium format) which I am looking forward to using. Back soon Jane x

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Summer Holidays at last

The term sped by filled with planning for the new office and systems that will take over in September. Several friends were leaving too so I was busy stitching samplers, these are a labour of love and usually filled with either the persons achievments at school /their favourite things or a combination of both. I had five to make! and not enough time. I did succeed in making three in time for the leaving meal, I am working on the fourth sampler and I have planned out the fifth. The three samplers I have finished are: Enids, which shows her love of holidays in New York and Paris, she listens to Classic fm, loves reading books,her favourite actor is Johnny Depp (pirate Captain Jack Sparrow), she belongs to the wine club and has been a receptionist and Reprographics assistant at work.
The next was for Claire who loves the Moomins, she has a cat and dog and adores Elvis. Claire also loves shoes, so I designed a pair of killer red heels for her in stitch and finally included an outline of the roof of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. The final sampler was for Matt, who was leaving teaching for a career change. I included his fellow teachers from the English Department, along with camera, video and drama for Media Studies which he taught, as well as a blue rabbit for the animation classes he taught, and a bag of tools for his career change.
This week has been very relaxed and lazy, lots of stitching and some house work but not too much :-)
Then on Friday Em and I decided to go and visit the ruins of a local Roman Villa in the village of Bignor tucked away in the south downs of Sussex. It was a peaceful spot, surrounded by a vineyard and beautiful coutryside. The mosaics have survived because they were covered by buildings erected to protect them in the early 1800's when they were first discovered. There is another Roman Villa over at Chichester which is called Fishbourne Roman Palace, Bignor is not as grand but it would have been quite a large complex. We were hoping to get out this weekend, but Tony has been plagued by his sciatic nerve all weekend. Back soon Jane

Monday, 30 May 2011

Half Term - and a Huge Sigh Of Relief

We have finally made it to half term, and the threat of compulsory redundancy has been lifted because three people have volunteered to take redundancy at the end of July as they are close to retirement, but with their leaving goes the experience and wisdom of the years spent in the job so it is bitter sweet.

Recently the weekends have been spent at home or in Dorset. We visited the local village fair in Dorset and listened to the brass band playing whilst having tea and cakes, browsed the book stall and bric-a-brac. I found a new pin board for Em so I could have her old one for the Rangers at camp, (we put the timetable, rotas and other info up) . Our cousin from Paris is visiting in a couple of weeks time too, so we are on a spring clean mission!. Back soon, as its half term we have some fun planned this week but it is laced with revision as Em has Science, Maths and Geography Modular exams after half term, Oh the joys of being fifteen, - its not fair! Jane x

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Royal Wedding, Camping and Work

May Day bank holiday weekend was not only the Royal Wedding, for which I was glued to the television for most of the day; it was a beautiful ceremony filled with very special moments of happiness between the Royal couple which was a joy to see.

It was also our annual joint Scout and Guide Camp at Petworth Park. The theme was the Royal Wedding. We had lots of activities, wonderful weather and great company. This is a view of the park around the lake complete with deer in the distance and geese in the foreground. A photo of our mess tent decorated with bunting. I knitted a crown teacosy for the weekend to keep my tea pot warm. I found the pattern on the website of the designer Debi Birkin. It took me approximately a week to knit up in the evenings and I added a lining by knitting another layer of purple to go inside. The cosy was very popular and raised many admiring comments over the weekend, and kept my teapot lovely and warm.

Work for the first part of this year has been an unhappy and stressful environment to be in, as we are facing cutbacks and possible redundancies. Hopefully the situation will be resolved in the next fortnight or so, but in the words of the WW2 poster we will keep calm and carry on. I hope you have a good week Jane x

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Easter Holidays

They sped by filled with sunny days and lazy mornings. We did visit London on Wednesday 20th to see Changing the Guards at Buckingham Palace. It was so busy that it was difficult to move in front of the palace, across the road there was a bit more space. We did struggle to see what was going on, but eventually we caught a glimpse of the Guardsmen as they left the palace Courtyard. Later in the day we ate our picnics in St James Park before going to see the Abbey (it was shut!) so we enjoyed the view and the gift shop instead. I managed to find a couple of teaspoons commemorating the wedding and a fridge magnet.
Easter Weekend we spent in dorset having fun Easter egg hunting and spending time with the family.
This week I have celebrated my birthday - with a delicious homemade Gluten and Dairy-free Chocolate and Cherry Victoria Sandwich so Em could eat it too.

6 oz/175g Dairy-free spread (vitalite)
6 oz/175g Castor sugar
3 large eggs
6 oz/175g Gluten free self raising flour (Doves)
1/2 teaspoon GF baking powder.
2 oz/50g Glace Cherries
2 oz/50g GF/DF chocolate drops (use chopped chocolate buttons if not drops available)

1. Cream the fat and sugar 'til fluffy.
2. Add the egg whisk in until mixed (if the mix separates add a spoon of flour)
3. double sift the flour then add to the mix using a metal spoon to mix don't beat it, just mix in by doing two cross cuts and then stirring the bowl. keep repeating until all the flour has disappeared into the mix
4. Add the chocolate drops and cherries, mix in.
5. Pour mixture into a large lined loaf tin
6. Bake at 170 Celsius for 40 minutes.
7. Test with a skewer to ensure cooked throughout.
8. Leave to cool on rack after cooking
9. Once cool decorate with icing and enjoy.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

50 Small Things for a Special Friends Birthday

One of my friends is celebrating a big birthday and I decided to make her a very special gift. I googled 50th Birthday for ideas and found a suggestion for a box of small things, sadly I can't find the original site otherwise I'd have posted a link. I started with a list of 30 and added and fiddled with the possibilities and finally finished with 50 small things. I collected them over two months and packed them all in a shoe box which I wrapped in gold holographic paper. My friend Debbie loved her gift and especially the little box of hugs which reduced her to tears. Here is the list if you wish to make your own for a special birthday girl or boy. You can tailor the list to fit the recipient.

50 Small things for your birthday

1. A favourite poem – The Host of Golden Daffodils

2. Candle-To remind you to shine brightly

3. Hand cream - to care for your hands

4. Lipgloss to keep you looking glamorous

5. Love hearts - To remind you that you are loved

6. A lighter - To light your fire when you're feeling burned out

7. A safety pin- To remind you to stay sharp

8. A pack of Smarties - To help you on those days when you don't feel smart

9. A pack of Starburst - To give you a burst of energy on days when you don't have any

10. Confetti- To remind you to have fun

11. Sellotape Tape- To fix things that will not work

12. A Potholder - For when things get too hot to handle

13. A Penny - So you will never have to say, "I"m broke".

14. Birthday Badge – so everyone knows its your special day.

15. A Rubber Band - To stretch yourself beyond the limits

16. String - To tie things together when everything falls apart

17. Elastoplast - For when things get a little rough

18. Crayon - To color your day bright and cheerful

19. A Puzzle Piece - Without you things wouldn't be complete

20. A Cotton Ball - For the rough roads, seek the cushioned support of family and friends

21. Happy face- Smiling is contagious

22. Eraser - To remind you that you can start every day with a clean page

23. Paracetomol – To cure a headache.

24. Battery - To give you that extra charge to keep you going... and going….. and going.

25. Piece of Rope - When you reach the end of yours, this will keep you going a bit longer

26. Paper clip - To help keep things together when they seem to be out of control.

27. A Small Smooth Stone - To remind you that the rough times help to refine and polish

28. A Star- so you shine like the star you are.

29. A Button – because you are always as bright as a button.

30. Glitter- For a glimpse of how the world looks through a child's eyes

31. A fuse - for when you blow yours

32. A small bag of marbles - for when you lose yours

33. A heart - to remind you that love is all around you (I cross stitched one)

34. A bag to keep it altogether

35. A little box of hugs – read its label please. (see below for label)

36. IOU – a 2011 coin (IOU because the 2011 coins aren't in circulation yet!)

37. Seashells – memories of summer holidays

38. A best memory photo – Tea at South Lodge

39. A cup - to make your favourite hot drink in.

40. Tea-bags – for time to relax and rest

41. Lavender sachet for you to bring you a little bit of summer time.

42. A pretty little apron – to keep you glamorous in the kitchen (I made the apron)

43. An origami crane for peace

44. Pretty post it notes for those special messages

45. Pen for when you can’t find one around the house

46. A lucky sixpence from 1961- on a silver chain for you to wear. (purchased on ebay)

47. A bottle of bubbles because they are always fun. (champagne miniature bubbles)

48. Pretty tissues to catch your sneezes

49. Bunting for your birthday – Fairy sized! from allsorts website

50. 50th birthday balloon to make you smile.

The tag for the box of hugs make a tiny box from card and gift wrap with ribbon etc. Attach a gift tag which reads ...

This is a very special gift,

That you can never see,

The reason it's so special is

It's just for you from me.

Whenever you are lonely

Or are ever feeling blue

You only have to hold this gift

And know I'm hugging you.

You never can unwrap it

Please leave the ribbon tied

Just hold the box close to your heart

It's filled with hugs inside.

Thursday, 31 March 2011


Six weeks of illness is quite enough, a throat infection that triggers debillitating coughing attacks which leave you gasping for air are frightening and very wearing. It is one which we are all trying to shake off but we are exhausted. Roll on Easter holidays next Thursday. The garden is begining to fill with spring flowers and the warm sunshine is very welcome too. Back very soon. Jane x

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Sorrento, Italy

Five days of sunshine and blue skies spent in Sorrento. We visited Pompeii, walked miles around its ruined streets, marvelling at the wall paintings that have survived. Em made friends with one of the local dogs that roam the ruins. All the time we were aware of the brooding presence of Mount Vesuvius behind the town.

We walked around Sorrento discovering all its delightful shops, views and marveling at all the beautiful plants which at home are house plants but in Sorrento are garden plants - Bougainvillea, white Jasmine, Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia), Date Palms, Prickly Pear Cactus, Yellow Mimosa in bloom, a stunning sight against the deep blue sky, figs, oranges and lemons and other plants I have never seen before. I spotted several birds - several birds which looked similar to a Bee Eater and a Black Cap bird (but it had airforce blue colour on its wings), Sparrows and I heard many other bird calls I didn't know. We enjoyed espresso coffee at Cafe del Carmine on the Piazzo Tasso. We visited Mt Vesuvius and walked (huffed and puffed) up to the top to look in the crater and admire the views. The views were hazy despite a bitterly cold wind blowing for two days, as you can see from the photos we were cold despite being well wrapped up.

Back in Sorrento much to Em's delight we discovered the big Supermercardo on Corso Italia, which stocks Gluten Free and Dairy Free pasta, rice cakes, cakes and biscuits as well as Alpro soya milk and rice milk, so we don't need to bring the special foods with us next visit. We stayed in a lovely appartment on Via Parsano with views across towards the hills behind the town of Sorrento. It meant that we could cook a hot meal which it turned out was necessary as we didn't find any restaurants selling chips or gluten and dairy free food suitable for Em. It gave us a chance to use the local shops, Tony spoke very rusty italian which hadn't been used since 1988 but like riding a bike he remembered most of it and gained in confidence as the days rushed by. I learned a few phrases and picked up a few more along the way, Em who usually stays silent on foreign holidays also attempted Italian and by the end of the holiday professed a love of Italy and would like to live there! I wonder how much of it was due to the idea that at the age of 16 you can learn to ride a scooter - she spotted a red vesper she'd like (oh no!) I did buy her a small model of one instead ;-) but she is keen to learn Italian, so when we return she can understand and speak more. Returning to the appartment one evening we spotted a beautiful little church up on the hillside above Sorrento all lit up. Finally on Friday we bade Sorrento farewell, but we will return because we had a wonderful time and we have more to discover about this enchanting area.

My final two pictures were taken from the Taxi as we left Sorrento the colour is wrong but that is because the windows were tinted. It does show the villages stretched out along the coastline, in the distance is Sant Agnello and Sorrento. Hope you have a good week. Jane x

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Home Ill

January slipped away and February breezed in, the days are slowly lengthening too. the weather has been overcast and cold except for a beautiful day of sunshine we had on Tuesday, but I've been ill this week with a horrible bug that laid me low from last Friday - Stomach type - Yuck! So there's no pictures to post, instead I thought I'd share my Garden with you. At the moment I can see a snowdrop at the end of the garden in one of the tubs bravely standing alone (its only a small garden) and my next door neighbours Clematis balearica is also in flower trailing across the side and top of the garage. In the corner hidden from view is the Jasmine nudiflorum also showing its pretty yellow flowers. The rest of the garden is sleeping but the birdsong from the Robin and Blackbird tell me spring is on its way. I love gardening but the extra special bit is when the Robin comes down and fearlessly picks up all the bugs from the soil that you have just turned, he's close enough to touch and then he sings from the branches of the fig tree in the centre of the garden.
Here is my garden in the summer taken from the back door as you can see its quite small but I love it, I designed and built most of it myself with help from Tony and a builder who came into do the brickwork and path.
Em has gone off on a school art class trip to the British Museum to see the Egyptian exhibits and she's very excited. I hope you have a good week. Jane x

Friday, 28 January 2011

A Birthday!

A certain little lady turned 15 this week! I think I have shared this photo with you before but it is my favourite. Em is sitting on the Rocking Horse at Pecorama, Beer, Devon, with her bear Eddy teddy and she is wearing the Kipper Jumper I knitted for her, aged four. Happy Birthday Em. xxx

Thursday, 13 January 2011

New Year, New Horizons

Its the New Year we are back at school, the budget is going to suffer huge cuts. We've been warned there's a real risk of redundancies and possibly a re-organisation. What delightful news to start the year!
So I got stuck into some knitting, a new pair of gloves in Regia red wool. Not too much knitting at a time as I don't want to upset the hand - the bruising is healing. The gloves are to replace a pair that Em bought me for Christmas but they spectacularly unravelled on our day out in London. They were only pocket-money gloves, but they went back to the shop for a refund and grumble.
I read the book Chocolate Wishes which Ali gave me for Christmas it was a lovely read - not too heavy going, I have also read the same authors book - the Twelve Days of Christmas. On the TV my favourite series at the moment is Zen although this coming Sunday is the last one! I like his style, good looks and his co-star is stunningly beautiful.
Our first week back at Rangers and we spent the time doing a couple of activities from the Girlguiding World Conference pack which is taking place later this year in June in Edinburgh, talking about rights and beliefs, then making a diversity web, which was finding out about things in common with each other with a ball of wool to pass back and forth creating a web of diversity. It was great fun with lots of laughter and giggles. Hope you have a good week. Jane x