Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

Summer Colours Week June 26, 2012

Filed under: Flowers and plants,This and that — lauravw @ 10:41 am

Thanks to Ali for pointing out that it’s Summer Colours Week on Flickr. As a result of reading her post, I decided to take part. So far I’ve added this picture of the gardens at Hampton Court Palace for the green day – yellow is today, then pink, red and blue take up the rest of the week.

Whether you are taking part or not, I highly recommend having a look at the Flickr group – I really enjoyed looking through all the green photos from yesterday, and found it’s relaxing to look through lots of pictures of the same colour (particularly true for green, I suspect). Thanks to Poppytalk for organising it!

Now I’m off to find something yellow to photograph…


Ups and downs May 7, 2012

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 10:08 am

I’m still here, just very quiet.

It’s been an odd month (and a bit), with a few ups and downs that have kept us busy. When we got home from our trip to Lincoln, we found out that a friend of ours had passed away. It was not entirely unexpected, but it was still a shock. It was several weeks before a funeral could take place, while various family members returned from their travels, and so it wasn’t until the week before last that we finally got to say a proper goodbye. We’re looking after our friend’s cats until such time as her family can take them on, so that has been keeping us busy too.

More stress came in the form of me starting a new job. It’s a very anxious feeling, preparing to start a new job – wondering if you’ve done the right thing, whether your new colleagues will be as nice as the old ones. Luckily for me, it became clear quite quickly that it’s going to be OK – the people are friendly, and the organisation I’m working for seems to be a positive place. Sigh of relief.

Thanks to the vagaries of part-time work, I’ve not actually left my old job yet, so for the past month I’ve been trying to keep track of two jobs. I’ve only got a couple more weeks of that though, which I’m glad about. Another sigh of relief.

Finally, we’ve been looking forward to a short holiday in Switzerland with my mother in June. But the airline we’d booked with back in January is going out of business, and has cancelled all of its flights. There were a few tears on hearing that news, but we’ve rallied round and booked a new holiday for the same dates, so there’s no excuse for us to be upset about that now. Our plan B holiday is to London, a place I’ve never actually been on holiday to. Of course I’ve visited lots of times, ever since I was a little girl, but never had an actual holiday there. The cost had always been a bit of a factor, but given that we’d all saved up for a trip to outrageously expensive Switzerland, our budget will cover it. We’ve got quite a list of places to go and things to eat, but if you’ve any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Restaurant recommendations near Kensington/Notting Hill would be very welcome, since we’re staying in that area.


Snowday February 5, 2012

Filed under: Nature and wildlife,This and that — lauravw @ 3:02 pm

So it snowed a bit. We’d heard the weather reports saying that it would, but I don’t think I quite believed that it would happen.

It started yesterday afternoon, and it kept on snowing heavily until long after I’d drifted off to sleep. By the time I woke up, everything was covered in three inches of snow. I got out of bed early to go out and feed the birds, and they seem to have appreciated that. We’ve had a garden full of them today – unlike last Sunday, when we were taking part in the RSPB garden birdwatch, and they all seemed to hide.

I have enjoyed the excuse to stay indoors and do nothing. I’ve had time to finish a sewing project (pictures to follow – it’s only a cushion cover, but it was an unnecessarily complicated one, and so I am unduly proud of it. Here’s a shot of it part-way through).

I have ventured out in the garden with Daisy the cat, who did not like the snow at all and wanted to come straight back in. In previous years she’s been a bit more brave, but this time ths cold temperatures meant the snow had frozen a bit, which must have made it tough on her paws. She is now curled up on a blanket.

Another outing saw me walk as far as our neighbour’s house, to borrow some jigsaws. And that is the plan for the rest of the day: jigsaws, tea, and cake. And hoping that it melts fairly soon…


Enjoying Autumn September 26, 2011

Filed under: Nature and wildlife,This and that — lauravw @ 9:29 am

Going back to school is a wonderful excuse for new stationery. I’ve started taking evening classes in Adobe Illustrator at a local college, and have a new folder to file my notes in, and the justification to use some new notebooks I bought in Brussels earlier this year.

I’ve also been on a photography course, and have another one booked in for next month. I bought a new camera back in the spring, and am starting to understand a bit more about what it’s capable of. Mostly, it’s about making sure I spend some time every week using it – trying to avoid using the auto settings, and instead learning what all those little buttons and dials do.

Having said that, this picture of a heron is one I took on Saturday morning at Wollaton Park, using one of the auto modes. He seemed like he was about to fly off, and I didn’t trust myself to capture the moment using settings I’d tweaked myself. Oh well. I’ll get better at it – and hopefully faster.

The autumn weather this week has been very welcome. The leaves here are turning, and quite regularly we’ve seen flocks of geese flying over the garden, making plenty of noise to alert us to their presence as they pass by so that we won’t miss them.

We’ve not seen the hedgehog much of late, but I’m convinced he’s still a regular visitor. How do I know? Let’s just say he leaves a little calling card on the patio. I guess it won’t be long now until he goes into hibernation, and I’ll miss seeing him.


New York, New York September 11, 2011

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 10:01 am

This morning I’ve been thinking about New York, and Washington, and Pennsylvania. And everywhere else. I’ve been reading people’s stories about that day online, and listening to interviews on the radio, and ten years on it still brings tears to my eyes.

On September 7, 2001, musician Ryan Adams recorded a video for his song New York, New York. It was filmed right in front of the towers, and it’s a wonderful song, with a video made poignant by what happened the following week.

Back in 2001, I was at work on the day it happened. I worked at the sort of place that had a TV in the reception area showing CNN all day long, and so we very quickly became aware of what was happening. I’ve always followed the news closely, but that week I did very little else. We were booked on a flight from London to Seattle on September 16th, and it really seemed like we wouldn’t be travelling. But that day turned out to be the first or second day that transatlantic flights resumed, and off we went. It was an odd journey, and it was strange to arrive in America at that time. I’d read online that people were taking flowers and creating a memorial at Seattle’s international fountains, so that was where we went first. On that trip, we also went to a baseball game, and as the crowd sang the national anthem before the game started, it was incredibly moving. Again, more tears.


A big house in the country September 6, 2011

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 7:05 pm

Friday night found me at this lovely country house, on the edge of Sherwood Forest. A friend had got married earlier in the day, and this was the venue for the reception.

We arrived shortly before dusk, and when it got a bit darker, I stood outside and watched bats fly around the gardens. As we set off for home around midnight, we all stopped to smell the lavender that you can see here.


Sneaking a peek May 23, 2011

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 7:46 pm

I love an open gardens event. It seems so British to open your garden to all and sundry, to let them wander among your flowerbeds and comment on the standard of your roses.

On Saturday we went to a local open gardens event that we’ve been to in previous years. Some of the gardens were new to us, and others we’d seen before. One that we had loved on a previous visit was closed when we tried to take a look, so I had to try to recreate it in my mind’s eye as we arrived at the closed garden gate.

What I’d be even more keen to go on is an open house tour – on a gardens tour, you just get the odd fleeting glimpse of what life is like inside each home. For the most part it looks chaotic – I suppose people who have invested weeks getting the garden show-ready have had to somewhat neglect the inside of their homes… But other houses look more appealing, and I want to have a good nose around.

One family did invite us into their home for a look, and it was fascinating. They lived in a big Victorian house, and it really felt Victorian. There was clutter everywhere, but so much of it seemed to be in keeping with the character of the house.

Another aspect of the day that I enjoyed was the cake: in the scout hut (again, a very British place to be on a Saturday afternoon) was a huge array of cakes, brownies, and other baked goods, served on gingham tablecloths with cups of orange squash and pots of tea.

There’s another open gardens event soon, in a very interesting part of Nottingham, and so I’m hoping the weather will be kind so that we can go and explore that part of the city.


Catching up May 9, 2011

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 1:09 pm

So many things have been catching my eye recently. Top of the list is the new photo tour of Amy Butler’s house. Wow. Even her cats look well-behaved. I love the entryway to the house most of all – I wonder if I will ever get to live in a place like this?

Also of interest:

This post on Craft about making green cat toys.

Tips for better composition – I have a new camera and so am trying to soak up advice on photography at the moment. Also: taking great photos of kids – taking pictures of people is something I could do with improving at.

Boden autumn/winter preview – and the range itself will be available to order on the preview site from the end of this month. I look forward to each new season of styles very much (not just Boden, but all my favourite shops). When my dad worked in fashion we had new ranges coming into our house twice a year, and always an incredibly long time in advance of when they would appear in the shops.

Small business lessons. “In negotiations, be as quiet as you can” – this is a very good tip.

Quick and easy Mexican cooking – a sample recipe from a new book that I’ve had my eye on.


The big event May 1, 2011

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 1:48 pm

I really didn’t intend to watch the wedding.

I’m not a royalist, and I’m uncomfortable with people being born into so much wealth and privilege, without ever having to earn it.

And yet… I spent all of Friday morning glued to the television. I got caught up in it all, same as so many other people. In hindsight, if I’d realised I was going to watch so much of it, I would have arranged to watch it with friends – but I suspect my friends were of the same mind: being aloof, thinking they wouldn’t want to watch it, and then doing nothing but watch it for hours on end…

I loved Kate’s dress, I loved her low-key bouquet, and I loved the trees in the Abbey. Most of all, I loved how London looked covered in flags. I sat with a blanket over my knees, and laughed when I saw the Queen travelling to the wedding with a blanket over her knees.

I loved watching all the different outfits. I liked what Camilla wore, and was amused by the Queen having to sit in front of Beatrice and Eugenie in their comedy clothing.

Other than Kate’s dress, my favourite aspect of the whole day was Grace van Cutsem. Until Friday I’d never even heard of her, but now I’m a big fan. She was the three year old flower girl who scowled and pouted her way through the day, and then stood on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with her hands over her ears. Brilliant. She’s going to struggle to live that down as she grows up.

In the afternoon, we walked to the local shops (I was amazed by how many of them, M&S included, were closed during the wedding itself), and passed a couple of street parties, with roads closed and bunting strung across. It reminded me of the previous big royal weddings (Charles and Diana, Andrew and Sarah), when there were street parties on the road where my grandparents lived.


It’s not your birthday anymore* April 26, 2011

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 7:03 pm

The downsides of being at work on your birthday are obvious, but one of the upsides is that you can drag out the celebrations and treats for a few days on the grounds of having been stuck at the office during the main event. I did this quite successfully, and enjoyed a couple of nice meals out as a result.

I’m a little disappointed now that the birthday post has dried up, but I’ve ordered a few CDs to ensure I’ll keep getting treats landing on the doormat for a little while longer.

Thanks for your kind birthday wishes – I really appreciated it. And I don’t feel any older, which I’m taking as a good sign.

*In case you don’t know, the title of this post is lifted directly from a Morrissey song, which you can listen to here. “It’s not your birthday anymore, there’s no need to be kind to you.”