An early Bath…

Hello again.

Spring is in the air – can you feel it? I’m so ready for the turn of the wheel this time. 

A day out in Bath

A couple of weeks ago, I headed off for a day trip to Bath – my first visit there in over two years.

It was wonderful and really did perk me up no end. I was delighted to find that the stall in the covered market ‘Not Cartier’ was still there. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of sparkly bling which speaks directly to the magpie in me. It’s also the best place I know to find interesting broaches. I decided a while ago that I would wage a one-woman campaign to resurrect the wearing of broaches, and so you won’t be surprised to hear that I brought a couple home with me.

I was also incredibly lucky to find that my favourite posh hippy shop had a sale and so having tried on more clothes than I have for years, I also brought a new frock and a tunic top back with me. I live with this vision of becoming someone who usually wears dresses and woollens in a cool and chic way. But somehow when I get up each morning, I seem to reach for the jeans and fleece and stay in them until bedtime. Oh well, who knows, maybe this time…

Anyway, Bath was just what I needed. I didn’t take many photos because it was extremely cold and I didn’t hang about between shops/cafes etc, but I did take this photo of a nonchalant gull. There’s a bit of an issue with gulls in Bath and there are signs all over the place asking people not to feed them. This chap was sitting about four feet from just such a sign – you could see the contempt in his eyes.

Hidey-Hole stuff

Back in the Hidey-Hole and it’s been more collage fun.

I wish I could convey the pure happiness that I feel while I’m cutting and gluing. But it’s even better really, because this process of creating papers, painting backgrounds, sticking paper down, painting again, stitching again – repeat until finished – manages to let me incorporate so many of the techniques I’ve been experimenting with over recent months and gives me a way to bring everything together.

Collage also has the distinct advantage that it seems to have enforced periods of waiting – mostly for glue or paint to dry – which are absolutely perfect for feeding the washing machine or putting the vacuum round. I do enjoy being in the hidey-hole, but the fact that I can have all this fun whilst still keeping most of the other plates spinning seems especially fortunate.

And then there’s the needlepoint.

Yes, I’m still stitching. It is such a perfect form of meditation – for me at least. 

Last night I finished the most recent piece. I’ve tried to take a couple of photos but you know how tricky the light is here. I’d say that one photo slightly underplays the saturation of the colours, whilst the other goes a little far the other way.

A little underplaying the colours.
A little overplaying.

I’m not going to exhibit any of this textile work, but if anyone would like to have it, perhaps to make it into a cushion cover or to frame – or whatever you can think of, please send me a message. I’m open to offers. Bear in mind that it’s just a piece of hessian/burlap approximately 12” square, stitched in a variety of threads – silk, wool, linen. I’ve had my enjoyment in the making, so if it could have another life with someone else, that would be wonderful. 

And so there we are for now. I hope that you’re having fun in whatever way gives you happiness. Until next time,

Anny x

Blue and Green

Or – what a difference two weeks can make….

After such a long winter, the richness of the spring is making my senses tingle. A couple of weeks ago, there wasn’t much green…

IMAG1197Now, it’s bursting out all over…

IMAG1449_2IMAG1451 IMAG1455And the bluebells are so gorgeous, I couldn’t resist taking more pictures…

IMAG1380 IMAG1457 IMAG1454 IMAG1464A spring carpet.

Oh, now come on…

I felt like Victor Meldrew this morning when I opened the curtains to lashing rain and a dark grey sky. Somebody has kidnapped the spring – I want it back – NOW!

Just when I thought it was safe to put a couple of my thicker winter jumpers back in the wardrobe, here I am again dressed up like a Michelin Man.

It felt particularly silly after reading the weekend supplements. (We have a neighbour who has an arrangement with a friendly newsagent to give him his surplus supplements, so we get the magazines, travel, gardening, money and TV review pieces, just not the news – a fabulous arrangement). 

Here’s a selection of the latest ‘must-haves’ from the weekend….


You’d have hypothermia if you went out in that kit around here today.

But it’s all a bit academic as far as I’m concerned. My capsule wardrobe (I think that’s what the fashion journalists call it) consists of jeans, T-shirts, fleeces & cardigans. In winter I wear them all, layered up, and in summer (whatever that is) I wear fewer jumpers. This probably also has something to do with choosing to camp in the Scottish Highlands most summers, where you’d be quite rash not to have the option of a jumper or two for the cooler days.

In fact I’m quite sure that I am almost the antithesis of the target weekend supplement reader. I don’t go to posh restaurants,our garden designs itself, our house is not valued at over £1million, I don’t watch much TV and although I like to cook, my grocery budget doesn’t run to fillet steak as a mid-week supper.

That said, I still love flicking through the papers. I feel a contented detachment – able to appreciate, without any need at all to emulate. I’m sure it wasn’t always the case, but perhaps that’s what growing-up is about, or perhaps it’s what refusing to grow-up is about.

I think this headline sums up what they are really all about,


Umm, well, I’m happy enough with what I’ve already got.




In other news…

Warning: Don’t read any further if you’re allergic to needlepoint or history.

I’ve made it to a mini-milestone with my current needlepoint project – click here to go to the post at Dreaming In Stitches.

And my notes on Whitby Abbey are now up at Mists of TIme.




Nature’s pick-me-up…

I’ve been a bit up and down over the weekend – I’m blaming the hormones.

But it was difficult to feel anything other than pure happiness, seeing the sunlight on the trees across the way, and the frost coated field in between.

The air was crisp, but the ground is still soggy – it will need to be colder for longer before the muddy paths freeze to crunchiness.

I love days like this.

Three Part Woman…

It occurred to me recently, that in order to be happy, there are three things I need to be and do every day.

The three parts are


By which I mean doing the run of the mill jobs that keep the family engine running; feeding the family reasonably healthy food at appropriate times; keeping the house clean enough so that if the Vicar should spring a surprise visit, you wouldn’t have to hide behind the net curtains and pretend to be out; and of course ensuring that the shrill call ‘where’s my PE shirt?’ is answered more often with ‘in your drawer’, than ‘wherever you last left it’


For me this looks like a woman sitting (or lying) on the sofa, with a large piece of tapestry canvas in one hand and a chunky tapestry needle in the other. Now I accept that as I haven’t actually ever sold any of these pieces, it might be stretching the point to call it work. But it’s the one thing in my  life I have always felt most at home doing, and although I admit it has practically no usefulness to anyone else, it does seem to be the one gift or talent that I came here programmed to use. So I think of it as work – done with love, as an expression of something which is essentially me.


You might want to substitute meditating for contemplating – but it seems to me that there are numerous ways to get into the flow – and it’s that flow I seek to find. I’ve dabbled with the concept of meditation for years, like many people I intellectually understood the potential benefits, but hadn’t made it a practice. That has changed, and so although I’m only skiing down the baby slopes of contemplation, it is a vital part to my daily happiness.

Now being me, I’ve tried many ways to avoid doing the housekeeping part. Days spent meditating and/or sewing are delicious and should be the epitome of delight. But what I’ve found, is that in fact leaving the housekeeping tasks undone, reduces my overall happiness at the end of the day.

Why I should feel that this is my role and not one to share with the rest of the family, probably has a lot to do with my upbringing. I do get resentful when the house is trashed minutes after the girls get home, I could happily spit feathers when a meal lovingly cooked is eaten without a word of thanks, and quite frankly I will never understand why The Other Half thinks that putting dirty mugs on the work-surface on TOP of the dishwasher, constitutes putting it IN the dishwasher. But all that said, no alternative way of organising ourselves has lasted or indeed made me happy, so I’ve now come to believe that simply doing this role – not necessarily to the most exacting standards, but at least well enough for us all to function, is something valuable, not only to the others, but also – and perhaps crucially , valuable primarily to me.

Oddly enough, once I thought about this triple aspect to achieving happiness, it occurred that this is very similar to the balance lived in monastic institutions. Monks and nuns spend parts of their days doing mundane tasks, working at the things in which they are talented, and of course in contemplation.

This thought of the parallels between my daily life and that of religious orders, has I confess brought a few wry smiles to my face. A less nun-like woman than me, you couldn’t hope to meet. But ultimately, I suppose it is the human condition to seek happiness or serenity and there are undoubtedly many roads to take us there.

Friendship Matters…

Yesterday, my best friend in the whole world – was fifty. This seems incredibly odd, as it feels like only weeks since we were haring around the Worcestershire countryside in a bashed up old mini, tasting freedom in the way that only eighteen year olds do. Now she’s a high flyer in Hong Kong and I’m a respectable middle-aged mother, living in the Home Counties. But although we might present different images now to the outside world, I’m sure that the real us, is still very much like those eighteen year olds.

Despite the fact that she’s lived on the other side of the world for the last sixteen years and I’ve only seen her a handful of times in that period, there is no doubt in my mind, nor I believe in hers, that we would always ‘be there’ for each other. We do not need to be in constant touch, we can live our own separate lives, safe in the knowledge that we’re tied to each other by the strongest bonds of friendship.

Lately I’ve been thinking about those bonds. It seems to me, that at the core, is the certain knowledge, that we share an unconditional love. We’ve both done the most ridiculously daft things, in our time, and probably will carry on doing so, but whatever happens, we can rely on each other for love and support.

I have to say that in addition to My Best Friend, I am also blessed with many other friends, who I’ve met and ‘clicked’ with over the years. I hadn’t really appreciated how many people I would genuinely call friends until recently, when, for a completely unrelated reason, I read a book suggesting that we list our contacts – including friends.

As I wrote the list, I realised how lucky I am, but also felt incredibly guilty, because I am so often the sort of person, who is happy to respond to the needs of a friend, but rarely makes the first move.

As I step into the second half of my life (I do intend to be at least 100!), I’ve decided to cherish those friendships with more care than I have until now. More and more of my friends are losing their close family, and looking to their friends for support – perhaps that’s part of aging and part of being human. But I can see now very clearly that as we all get older, it’s those relationships that will be the core of our support and happiness.

In today’s difficult climate, that’s one investment worth making.