Monday, 23 February 2015


I have always been someone who gets inspiration for my crafting from others, I am always more productive if people around me are creating wonderful designs and since joining the blogging community at the beginning of the year I have been inspired by photos that others have posted on their blogs.

Firstly I would like to thank Carol from Stitching Dreams - for years I spent all my spare time doing cross stitch embroidery but completely lost my stitching mojo after my Dad passed away almost four years ago. Carol stitches the most gorgeous Christmas ornament designs and she described how one of the ornaments she had stitched had special meaning for her. The design included a cardinal which made her feel close to her father who passed away last year.  This resonated with me and I suddenly had a strong yearning to stitch a robin. My Dad was an avid gardener and over the years he made friends with several robins who became very tame as they watched him digging the garden and even feeding out of his hand. Without further ado I gathered the materials needed, found the design that I was looking for - it needed to be an authentic looking robin and I knew I had the perfect design, I just needed to search through hundreds of charts to find it!  

I really enjoyed stitching this design and thinking of my Dad while I was stitching it and hopefully my stitching mojo is here to stay so thank you so much Carol for giving me the kickstart I needed to get back into my stitching. Here is the completed design ready to hang on my tree next Christmas.

This design came from an old copy of New Stitches magazine

Having made a renewed start to my stitching I hope to become productive once again - I have far too much stash tucked away not to stitch again for another four years! I think I will start off with small designs until I get back into it the flow - I am sure my Christmas tree could do with a few more ornaments next year. This is just a very small and varied sample of designs I have stitched in the past.

Secondly on reading Cathy's blog (The House With The Blue Door) I was inspired to crochet a mandala - there were lots of these being crocheted all over  Blogland last year for Attic24's Yarndale exhibition but being busy with other projects I didn't get around to making any then. However seeing Cathy's lovely Spring inspired design I decided it was about time I had a go. These are surprisingly addictive and after making a visit to my local Yarn shop and selecting some lovely cotton yarn I came home and starting crocheting and ended up hooking three of these creations. Thank you Cathy for providing the inspiration for me to try out something new.

Little Spring Mandala (
Petals and Puffs Mandala (
Magical Mandala (

Having had a bit of fun this last week with some new creations I need to get back to finishing off some of the projects that have been put on hold. I think I will be banned from buying any new yarn/stitching materials until I have used up some of my huge stash and finishing off things that I have abandoned taken a temporary rest from.

One more bit of crafty related news - I have been asked by my local yarn store to teach a crochet class, really looking forward to this challenge.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A walk down memory lane

We had to visit my Mum today to do a couple of jobs for her and as it was such a beautiful sunny day we decided to go out for a walk around the village. Please forgive me a bit of nostalgia but I was born and grew up in this village and although I don't live in the village any longer my Mum and sister still do and I work in the village so it is still very much home to me.

Before we ventured out on our walk I couldn't resist taking a photo of the crocuses in Mum's front garden, they looked simply stunning in the sunshine.

And now for the walk, we started off walking down Love Lane - oh my goodness, I have walked this path so many times down the years.

I have always loved these old cottages at the bottom of the lane.

And into North Street, another street that has special memories as my old Primary School was just to the right of these cottages in the photo below - the school has long since been demolished and is now at the other end of Love Lane but I have many happy memories of passing these cottages on the way down to the river or up the lane across Strokins Meadow (in the days before it was built on) with Miss Ramsay, my old Infant teacher, who used to frequently take us on nature walks.

We then walked across the river and along the footpath to the main road where this house has always fascinated me, you wonder why it hasn't collapsed over the years.

Then a sharp right through the Churchyard and past the Church where I was christened, went to Sunday School and was married.

As you can see the Church is having some work carried out on it at the moment to try and protect it for future generations.  

The next part of the walk is at its best at this time of the year, down by the stream and over the bridge across the lake and as you look to the left you suddenly see a mass of snowdrops growing across the other side of the river. We have enjoyed the sight of these flowers so many times over the years and they never fail to lift my heart.

We then made our way onwards to another favourite spot, Gailey Mill. This was one of the village's four working mills back in the day. It is so beautiful here at any time of the year and my boys used to enjoy paddling in the stream when they were small - special memories. The water here is always so clear, a truly magical spot and so cool and shady in the height of summer.

The mill has seen better days but it is good that it is still standing, it is all part of the village's history.

Across the road and you can see the lovely downs, my Dad used to love walking on the downs and I accompanied him from the time I could barely walk and he used to end up giving me a piggy back home because I was too tired to walk! He passed on his great love and vast knowledge of the countryside to me - how I wish I could have just one of those days back. I used to work just underneath the TV mast you can see on the top of the downs at the Home Office Wireless Depot many years ago when I first left college. I worked there for five years, it was a joy to go to work with that view every day - happy times.

We then made our way back along the village street to the lane where I used to live.

This was the part of the walk that I had been waiting for, my Mum moved from the 16th century cottage where I was born two years ago and I hadn't been up the lane since she moved. The cottage is being renovated inside but because it is listed not too much can be done on the outside and I couldn't wait to see what work had been done and what it was looking like now.

The answer was not a lot. The roof has been retiled and some of the brickwork redone, a replacement window and a burglar alarm installed but it looks as if it is no where near finished, the lawn was full of builders rubble and my Dad must be turning in his grave at the sight of his vegetable garden that he cared for so passionately over so many years. 

Our walk was almost over, just up the lane, over the playground and back down Half Path and then we were back at my Mum's house.

I hope you can stand one more photo - my Mum's amaryllis that we gave her for Christmas is looking stunning on her kitchen window sill and I couldn't resist taking one last photo.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

A walk, some shopping and some steam!

Another week of doing bits and pieces. On Monday afternoon once the weather had brightened we decided to go for a walk to Rooksbury Mill. Nothing very exotic was seen on this occasion - the usual swans, mallards, tufted ducks and Canada geese, but it was good to get out in the fresh air and winter sunshine.

We have decided to try and visit at least once a month and take a photo from the same spot so that at the end of the year we can look back to see the changes throughout the seasons.

Following my two work days this week we took a trip to Ikea in Southampton on Thursday to buy a few more bits and pieces for the kitchen. We decided to replace our everyday crockery as we were using a random selection of plates and bowls. I also treated myself to an apron as I am a messy cook plus a new measuring jug and a trivet.  

Friday was spent doing some baking - flapjack and rock buns this time. Think I overcooked the flapjack as it was slightly solid but tasty. Still getting used to the oven, definitely need to reduce the cooking time on everything.

Yesterday we took a trip to Basingstoke by train. My husband is a lifelong steam enthusiast and there was an engine that he hadn't seen since the 60's that was hauling an excursion train which was stopping at Basingstoke to take on water.  I don't usually get involved on these occasions but not fancying an afternoon with my own company on a wet and murky afternoon decided to go along.

It was good to see that South West Trains were getting into the spirit of Valentine's Day with the locations on their departure boards - 'When Harry met Salisbury' and 'Waterlove'.

I don't normally take photos of trains but thought it would be something different to put on my blog. Hope I haven't bored you too much!

I have also started some cross stitch embroidery this week, I used to stitch all the time but have completely lost my stitching mojo for the last year or so. I was inspired to start on a little project by another blogger - more on that story next time.  

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Kitchen tah-dah!

At last! After three very long weeks we now have a fully functioning kitchen. We have lived in this house for 23 and a bit years and I have wanted a new kitchen ever since we moved in. I still cannot believe it has actually happened at last.

WARNING: photo heavy post!

This is the kitchen before and during the transformation:-

Finally on Friday evening our super fitter handed it back to us. He has done a super job and worked so hard. Unfortunately we are still awaiting the window blind and we need to leave the floor for a couple of weeks before we can wash it to allow the grout time to dry off but apart from that it is looking pretty good.

And then yesterday morning we were able to start moving everything that has been cluttering up our dining room back in and it finally looked liked a working kitchen again.

My friend Helen gave me the teapot cozy and matching oven gloves about 3 years ago in readiness for when I finally got my new kitchen. It is great to be able to put them to use at long last.

And this is something I have been wanted for a long time - a lovely Kitchen Aid - I have used it for the first time today and I love it.  The colour of it is Ice Blue although it looks green in these photos. It doesn't quite match the colour of my toaster and kettle but it will have to do and it will live at the other end of the kitchen so hopefully it won't matter too much. Perhaps I should have gone for the other accessories in cream or black but too late now.

And finally my first baking using the Kitchen Aid and my new oven - a lemon drizzle tray bake (requested by No. 1 son) and a sticky ginger cake (requested by No. 2 son). 

Despite No. 2 son saying "yuk" when I told him I was making lemon drizzle cake he then decided he liked the smell of it and has declared it delicious. No. 1 son had better get home quick if he wants to sample it as DH is also enjoying it.

The sticky ginger cake is better after it has been kept a day or two but not sure it is going to last that long either.

I now have a chicken in white wine sauce in the oven ready for our dinner. I have enjoyed my first day playing with all my new toys and hope the enthusiasm lasts.

Sorry if I have bored you with tales of my kitchen refurbishment but having waited for 23 years I am just a tad excited about it.