The Owl and The Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful 'red and white'(!) boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, 'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are!What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Edward Lear

Sunday, 4 December 2011


Well we did it, our first public performance as a group and it went really well. We only made a few mistakes here and there (ahem!), and I'm sure no one noticed! But most importantly a good time was had by all,well definitely by me, and the others seemed to be enjoying it too.
Here's me in my silly hat, rag jacket and with a black face. If you want to know what that's all about go and look up 'Border Morris' on the internet, I can't be bothered to go into it here. When I'm more organised I'll do my face in prettier colours to co-ordinate with my rags.

ready to go

...and in to the middle..

...and round we go..
that's me on the right.. if it matters?!

The mad bunch that is Imbloc Bedlam, including musicians

Our 'hosts' for the day 'Black Bess' dancing

Mass Morris dancers in Newton Abbot

Friday, 2 December 2011

A quick catch-up

So, a long silence..what have I been up to..
Well, here are the 'things I have pictures of' what I've been up to's
I started a rug on my NEW peg loom, and the cat said thanks, when are you going to finish it for me?!

 And I've been decorating a hat.. because I've joined a morris dancing side (they are called 'sides' you know) This is not a new thing as I've done a lot of dancing in the past, including morris, and I LOVE it. I think that dancing, like singing is so very good for you. And recently I've been singing and playing the guitar more, I think it's a long winter evenings thing. I love them.
 Here are a few more of our weirdly dressed bunch at a practise night. I've only been to three practises and, weather permitting we're dancing in Newton Abbot tomorrow which is hilarious as we don't really know the dances yet!!

A bit more work on my cookery book repair 

 And using some friends as guinea pigs for some more potential workshops.

Marbling, a bit messy
I need to get better myself before I try to teach it!

Paste papers,
look at this beautiful design by one of my guinea pigs!

they were a very creative bunch and really got stuck in to it

And finally a bit of dying with some lichen (from a bonfire pile, not from living trees). I didn't believe my friend when she said that the grey furry stuff that drips off trees round here gives a yellow/orangey dye... but she was right!

And all is, overall, well my perfect life
Particularly now I'm not worrying about how many books I'm not selling
Poor but happy!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

My perfect life (or not)

I recently read an article in a Nov/Dec 2007 copy of Resurgence magazine which I've had for years (4 in fact!). It's got so many fabulous deep and thought provoking articles in it that I've felt no need to buy another issue, I just keep re-reading this one.
The article that really touched me recently was one called 'Economics of Happiness' by Helena Norberg-Hodge.
These are the two paragraphs that summed up something going on for me at the moment.

"When I first arrived in Ladakh, or 'Little Tibet', a region high on the Tibetan plateau, it was still largely un-affected by either colonialism or the global economy. For political reasons the region had been isolated for many centuries, both geographically and culturally. The Ladakhis were the most contented and happy people I have ever encountered. Their sense of self worth was deep and solid; smiles and laughter were their constant companions. Then, in 1975, the Indian government abruptly opened Ladakah to imported food and consumer goods, to tourism and the global media, to western education and other trappings of the 'development' process.
Romanticised impressions of the west gleaned from media, advertising and fleeting encounters with tourism had an immediate and profound impact on the Ladakhis. Sanitised and glamorised images of the urban consumer culture created the illusion that people outside Ladakh enjoyed infinite wealth and leisure. By contrast working in the fields and providing for one's own needs seemed backward and primitive. Suddenly, everything from their food and clothing to their houses and language seemed inferior."

 The article goes on to talk about our expectation that children are naturally insecure, and depression is a universal affliction, and, on the positive side, the importance of community.

I feel that a lot of my life has been like those Ladakhis. I have never bought or regularly read newspapers, I have never had a television, I turn off the radio when the news comes on, I spend a lot of my life working amidst the sounds of nature, the silence of my home or music of my choice. I read all the local village newsletters, take an active part in many community activities, and would probably be unable to walk from one end to the other of any of our local villages without meeting someone I know. (By contrast I often drive 3 miles to work and don't see a single other vehicle!) I have often thought of myself as the happiest person I know.

When I first discovered blogs I was manically inspired and uplifted by all those other creative people making lovely things. But it's become too much now. I find that reading 'my beautiful and creative life' blogs gets me down, it feels like reading the 'Romanticised, sanitised and glamorised images' of the west. My life seems poorer, I don't sell many books, I get stomach ache, there seems to be endless paperwork to do. I spend way too much time reading about what strangers, millions of miles away, are doing in perfect moments of their perfect, creatively fulfilled, lives, and not enough time simply being and doing.

But I am also often inspired and uplifted by other peoples blogs. I need to strike a balance somehow.
I'll let you know when I've worked out how.

I've also decided to give up trying to sell books, it's just not me. I feel hugely relieved.  I need to do it just for pleasure and stick to gardening and farming for money.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Getting better with age

Found this lovely painting and quote, done by the Happy Painter. Done on my birthday, very appropriate I think.
Not sure if I can get the actual image here on the page but here's the link

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

48 Today

Ok, well it was yesterday, but '48 yesterday' sounded a bit silly!, and yesterday evening I was too busy enjoying myself with Vince eating Indian takeaway, chocolate cake and re-living every mad moment from last weekend, to be messing about taking pictures, resizing them etc!
Very chocolatey chocolate cake

Cute card with a picture of me(!)from my brother & sister in law
Peg loom hand made by the lovely Vince

Monday, 14 November 2011

A boat called Hope

Well, after 18 months of searching we finally found a boat that we liked for a price we could afford. She (why are they always she's?) became ours on Friday.
Here we are having our first meal on board.
Me taking photos,
Vince phoning a friend to share our excitement
We spent Friday driving down to Gosport, loading food, bedding and clothing on board and working out where switches, gas bottles and other basics were.
On Saturday morning we met the previous owner who showed us round the boat and gave us so much information that our brains were in overload. He's now off to buy a bigger boat and sail off to the Caribbean with his family, Wow!
In the afternoon, not yet ready for the Caribbean, we sailed out into Portsmouth harbour and back in again! We look very happy in these photos. We were putting on brave faces for the camera as we were actually finding it quite stressful to be sailing an unfamiliar boat in unfamiliar waters, with other yachts, ferries and deep channel markers all over the place.
Portsmouth to Starboard

Gosport to port

Vince smiling!

Nina smiling!
But we made it out and in without hitting anything, phew, so far so good.
On Sunday our task was to sail the boat out of Portsmouth harbour, along the coast and into Chichester harbour, where we are having some work done on her over winter. It doesn't look far on a map (or a 'chart' as boaty maps are called) But believe me it is a long long way when the wind is blowing hard, in the wrong direction, the seas are rough, and you are cold, wet and feeling very seasick! Needless to say I was in no state to take photos!
But we made it, all three of us unscathed (physically at least) we are still speaking to each other, and we only hit the mud in Chichester harbour once!
Hope on her new berth at high tide

Hope settled into the mud about 4 hours later.
Behind the bit of water you can see
 is where we got stuck in the mud!

Chaos as we pack everything and empty the boat for the winter

And finally, a flock of starlings decorate the rigging
on a nearby yacht
 For those who'd like some random technical info;
She's a 1983 Nicholson 31 (31 foot long), 10 foot wide, fully encapsulated long lead keel, transom hung rudder, 1.52m draft, sloop rig with removable inner forestay, an inboard engine with a cruising speed (engine only) of about 5 knots, and has 6 berths/bed (that would be a pretty crowded boat!)

Friday, 4 November 2011

Learning lots about bread making

I recently had the luck be invited, along with a friend, to be a guinea pig on a  3 hour bread baking workshop. Now, I've made a lot of bread over the years, but I'm a bit slapdash, don't follow recipes, and anyway, I believe that there's always lots more to learn about everything.
we mixed

and kneaded
(wetter is better, I make mine too dry I decided)

mmmm, that looks good..

After it had risen we did this
(that's mine front right)

And they came out like this

And can you believe it, in between we also made these...

Pumpkin bread,
 this dough was pre mixed and risen

yum, we didn't get to eat these
as they were for a pumpkin supper that evening

And finally some soda bread
very quick to make, needs eating fast..not much problem there

We even had time for a cup of tea
And I was right, I learnt loads, and it was a lovely afternoon, with a room full of fellow bread making enthusiasts. Emma, who taught us is planning to do some more workshops. So if anyone wants to learn about bread making, or learn MORE about bread making from a very lovely person (who I've just noticed has recently won an award!), then watch this space.. (not mine, the one below)

Saturday, 29 October 2011

oh dear and lovely......more wool

Look... can you tell I've just got the hang of some image editing software!

I've been to a few spinning groups, it's lovely meeting other people passionate about the same things. At this meeting there were 5 of us with wheels, all different, and one person learning on a drop spindle.
I made the mistake of admiring some black fleece that someone was combing. Uh oh. Before I knew it someone had trotted up the road and brought me back a feed bag stuffed with lovely black wool. That's it tipped out at home bottom left. It's a bit course, but nice and clean and barely needs combing before spinning. Which is more than I can say for the North Ronaldsay, which is starting to drive me nuts as it's so fine, sticky and full if grass seeds. However I'm persevering because I'm pretty sure it will be lovely once it's spun up and washed.
SO..I think if I spun continuously for a few months (or years?) I might get through all the wool I have sitting around the house in bags.
I wonder if that dinky wheel, middle right, will fit on a boat?!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

We might get to sea after all

And so the Owl and the Pussy Cat may finally get to sea. Unfortunately it's a mostly white boat with bits of blue, and as you know colour is THE most important criteria when choosing anything like a car/boat etc. So, apart from being the wrong colour for my blog, it's a very lovely boat, and (once we have parted with some money) it should be ours to sail wherever we want...very soon!
These are the salesman's and previous owners photos, not mine...

The boat called Hope
yup, that's what she's called, cute eh?

The sitting room
Where am I going to put my spinning wheel?

The main bedroom
We'll need triangular sheets and a triangular duvet..

Kitchen, (sorry 'galley'), on right
Navigation station on left
Front door straight on

And I guess this should become my blog header now?
Oh my word I'm so excited I don't know if I'll sleep tonight..

Book Workshops

I've been teaching a few workshops recently which I really enjoy. I didn't take any photos at the first two. Fortunately Ren, who came on one, took loads and did a lovely blog post about it.
Go here to see lots of fab photos

Here's the very beautiful book she made
(structure taught by me, cover design by Ren!)
 And here's a few of the photos I did get round to taking.
A medly of images from the
concertina, single section and stab binding workshop
If you live down in the Devon area and would like to come on a workshop, I can put you on my mailing list. e mail me at
I can also do workshops for art/craft/embroiderygroups
gosh...I sound almost commercial!

Estate maintenance

I always rather grandly and jokingly call this stuff  'estate maintenance'. In some ways it's the down side of owning land. Fortunately I enjoy it.
We have about 2 acres with our house and it was pretty neglected by the previous owner. Fences need patching/propping up, actually they need replacing but we can't afford it, gates need replacing, fallen trees need clearing (hence the huge firewood pile), weeds need keeping in check, hedges need cutting (we pay a man with a tractor to do that)
Why would I want to be lounging in the sun, watching telly or simply going for a walk...
when I could be doing this for example?

overgrown and falling over fence

 fence liberated from undergrowth
waiting for new fence posts

As I work I keep reminding myself how very fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place.

And oh my goodness we have a river too

I'm almost embarrassed to show you what an amazing place we live in.
Perhaps I think I don't deserve it?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Cobwebs and butterflies

Hi there

ok, so I'm actually missing blogging ......a bit
trouble is I've now got SO much news I don't know where to start!
How about some pretty pictures first.. taken a couple of weeks ago before the winds and rain came.
You'll have no problem spotting the cobwebs.
 but you might have trouble finding the butterflies, they are there, honest... the flowers are quite pretty anyway



Red Admiral