Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Under The Bridge

Hello there!

Sorry I've been a bit awol - I've been a bit 'meh' about blogging of late and am trying to kick myself up the proverbial to get going again.

So, this  weekend Lovely Man and I took ourselves off on a weekend away to the pretty little village of Ironbridge. It was our anniversary weekend and we felt that it was about time we gave ourselves a treat. Now not having the luxury of our own transport. as usual we travelled by train.  It was a bit of a jaunt, from Stourbridge, to Smethwick and then on to Wolverhampton and onward again to Telford, and then a mahooooosive yomp from the train station to the bus station in the rain. Sigh.

After a bus ride through the wastelands and all encompassing building site that is the outskirts of Telford, we were eventually dropped off at Park and Ride stop, whereupon we decamped and got A. Nother bus (free this time) which would take us into Ironbridge itself.  (Are you tired yet?).

To add insult to injury, in the space of half an hour we experienced brilliant sunshine, cloud, absolutely bloody TORRENTIAL rain, sleet and a hailstorm.  We should have turned around and gone home at this point, however as we were now treating this little outing as an endurance test, we soldiered onwards.

After a short walk through the rain, we found the place we were staying - which was HERE  and checked into our room.  We were pleasantly surprised - our room was very light, airy, and clean - and very warm!  There were lots of towels and free toiletries.The disgusterous coffee and minging UHT full fat milk was a bit of a let down but I guess you can't have everything! And of course, we were only using the room as a base!  We stayed in room two - which had the creakiest floor boards known to man and would have thwarted even the most stealthy of individuals!  However this is only to be expected due to the age of the building I guess.   For £49.00 for the two of us with one of the best 'hotel' breakfasts we've had in a while, it really was a bargain and I'd have no hesitation in staying there again.

So - onto the next crisis.  Ironbridge is a lovely, relatively unspoilt Victorian village.  But a word of caution - if you visit, please make sure that you have enough cash with you for any fripperies you may desire!  There are the sum total of TWO Link-type cashpoints in the village.  One is in a pharmacy which was helpfully closed at 3pm in the afternoon.  And the other was in a tiny newsagent's shop - which was helpfully broken! We visited several establishments up and down the town including the tourist centre and two other pubs apart from the one in which we were staying - and none of them would do cash back.  We had the sum total of £10.00 in cash with us and needed to keep this back to get back into Telford with the next day.  I have to admit to feeling just a tad put out and really was beginning to think that we should have stayed at home.  I know this may seem a little OTT, but to be in such a situation without a car made me feel extremely isolated indeed.

LM, however, as always was Mr Cool in such a situation, and although it cost us close to £10, he jumped in a cab and made a return trip to a garage some way out of town and was able to use their cash machine.  Phew!  After coffee and cake in a lovely little cafe up the road, my equilibrium was restored.  And the sun came out which helped!

Later that evening we treated ourselves to a meal in an Indian restaurant, which despite it's very grand exterior and quirky decor (an ex-police station) and claims of "exquisite and contemporary Indian cuisine", served up rather bland and mediocre (and expensive) meals.  For contemporary - read a slice of strawberry, kiwi fruit and a grape on your salad!!  It wasn't cheap either at £52 for the two of us.  Do you feel another sigh coming on?  Here's a link if you would like to have a look at the decor etcetera. Pondicherry It was indeed very nice inside but was very disappointing in the food stakes.   I think that coming from a town which has some of the best Indian restaurants in the Country we tend to judge those elsewhere quite harshly. For two starters, two mains, accompaniments and freebie poppadums, chutneys and onion salad which come as standard, we never pay more than £25 for two and the quality really is top notch.

A romantic walk by the river in the late evening sunshine more than made up for the rather stressful day before we gave up and turned in for the night!!

Here are a couple of photographs for your ... erm.... delight and delectation.  Even the camera was in a sulk!





















And so the weekend came to a close.

The best part about it was that we spent some time together, had a giggle at the mad situations we found ourselves in, and were able to relax in relative comfort.  It took us three hours to get home despite a lovely friend collecting us from Ironbridge and depositing us at the station.


And we missed the morris men performing in the Black Meet on the bridge on Sunday morning.  This was a lucky shot on the way past just as they were setting up.

Tsk.


Next time I have a bright idea please poke me in the eye and tell me to go and lie down in a darkened room until the idea goes away.

Until next time! xxx


Friday, 19 April 2013

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds ....


“Look at those clouds," said Jamie, gazing up at the sky. "Look at them." 

"Yes," said Isabel. "They're very beautiful, aren't they? Clouds are very beautiful and yet so often we fail to appreciate them properly. We should do that. We should look at them and think about how lucky we are to have them." 
"Look at the shape of the clouds," she said. "What do you see in those beautiful clouds, Jamie?"
"I see you," he said.” 


 from "The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds" by Alexander McCall Smith

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The field was bathed in a rather eerie yellow light this evening.  Intrigued, I ventured out to see what was going on.  




















I was greeted by a very moody vista.  Mama Nature had got her knickers in a twist about something, that was for sure.  

I took some time just to 'be'.  To breathe, to recharge after a busy week.  It was wonderfully quiet.

No-one down this-a-way.....




No-one down that-a-way........... (apart from a red and white furry blur)

Just me and the waxing  moon




And sometimes - that's all that is needed.

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“when we look up, it widens our horizons. we see what a little speck we are in the universe, so insignificant, and we all take ourselves so seriously, but in the sky, there are no boundaries. No differences of caste or religion or race.” 


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Sunday, 14 April 2013

As Punk As .......

Although I was only ten years old when the punk thing hit the UK, I was absolutely enthralled by it.  The music, the clothes, the sneering, sweary rat featured man on the telly.  It was all a bit 'out there', and different - and my parents hated it.  That was good enough reason in itself.  My girl crush (and still is, if I'm honest) was Siouxsie Sioux.  I'd have given my right arm to look like her (and still would!).  

I progressed to being an out and out rock chick - and  for years and years I have loved any style of extreme music. I have been lucky enough seen more bands live than you can shake a stick at and have been to festivals and travelled abroad to see favourites.   My musical tastes are a tad eclectic to say the least however - in the past three years I've seen Take That, Rammstein and Public Image Limited and will happily listen to anything from Mike Oldfield to Faithless!  How's that for a mix-up?!

Some thirty odd (and yep, most of those years have indeed been very odd!), later, and I still adore punk music.  I'm very lucky in that my partner has the same musical tastes as me.  We spend long happy hours trawling the internet and the TV looking for old videos and getting excited about old, grainy archive footage of the seminal bands in back street pubs before fame and notoriety took over. 

To my mother's horror, we have a huge framed print of Johnny Rotten at the top of the stairs at which she casts her eyes heavenwards every time she sees it!  

So.......... erm....... I'm not expecting the best of reactions to our new piece of wall art which will very shortly grace our living room!  

We had a large Union Jack canvas which had been sitting around unused for a while since we re-decorated and decided to 'alter' it a little.  So - with a mixture of collage, archiving ink, chain and padlock, some old studs from a broken leather belt, safety pins,  a couple of die cuts from my very clever die-cutting machine, some wood filler and acrylic paint - we created this one-of-a-kind canvas.  

I know it won't be to anyone else's taste but ours but who cares?  We had fun doing it and I love the fact that no-one else will have one like it. Another plus of course is that we upcycled something which was just sitting around. 

Carrying on with the musical theme of this post - Let me introduce you to the man's leather jacket!



Believe it or not, this jacket attracts loads of interest and admiring glances every time we go out and in the most random of places!  We once had a middle aged bloke come up to us in Wilkinsons telling us that he thought the jacket was amazing and a woman telling us that her husband would love to wear something like it, in our local shop.  People have stopped us in the street asking where they could get something similar and someone even offering him cash for it.  He won't part with it however!   The band logos were hand painted on with acrylic paint through die cut stencils and it took him ages!  Like the canvas above, I guess you have to be a follower of the gendre to appreciate the appeal.  I've suggested that he should set up a small business customising leathers!   

Now then -  for those of you of a more delicate nature, here's a card I made earlier today.  

Awww - nothing punk about this is there?!  

**wink**



Yours, anarchically!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Chocolate Collapso and Canny Crafting

Hello lovelies,

I hope you enjoyed the Easter break and that your teeth are still intact after the possible chocolate overload! Oddly for me, whilst I have lots of the stuff in the house I've only indulged in a couple of tiny choccies.  How strange!  That said.....the man and I decided to have some of our eggs this evening after tea..... erm.... we happened upon this awful scene.

Note to self.  The window sill above the heater is probably not
the best place to store chocolate comestibles.  


Anyway.... moving on.  

As you will know I love papercrafting.  What I don't like is the potential expense of it and am always on the look out for cheap, everyday items which I can utilise on my layouts in some way.  I really do admire the incredible beautiful work of the uber-scrappers out there but it never ceases to amaze me how much stash some of them use on one page.  I've checked out the cost of some of the embellishments used on a single layout and it makes my eyes boggle, particularly as most scrapbooking pages are put into albums and hidden from view.  These costly masterpieces should be hung on walls for everyone to see! 

As usual, I'm digressing!   

If you take a look in the DIY section of your local "Emporium of Poundness" (!), there are usually some goodies which, with a little thinking outside of the box, can be utilised in your crafty endeavours!

This is what I picked up this week ....

A "Techno Mat" (don't you think thats a hilarious moniker for something so humble?!).    Basically this is a width of rubberised material which prevents rugs from slipping around beneath your feet.


You can see that there's a fair amount of it to play with! 
This is very pliable and soft, almost rubbery.  

I cut  a piece from it to see what I could do to it! 

 It takes ink quite well and would look good under photographs as a mat. 

I then flipped it over and stamped the ink on to some cardstock!

And then moved it slightly and sprayed some Perfect Pearls over it - I quite like that effect!

So - some interesting backgrounds and matting to be had from that product alone. 

Next up, a coil of 'gutter guard'. This is a lot stiffer but can be easily cut to whatever size you like with normal scissors.  There is 3 metres of this stuff on the roll! 





 I covered it with acrylic paint, then stamped over it with a clear embossing pad.

I then gave it a covering with some embossing powder, and gently heated it with a heat gun.  Take care with this bit as of course too much heat in one place and the plastic will just melt into a heap.  I used some tweezers to hold the mesh whilst I heated it. 


I chose a verdigris embossing powder on this bit which turned out quite nicely.


You can also cut into stylised shapes - I cut out a heart and embossed it in copper

.

And then added a few teeny paper flowers which cost £1 per pack from The Works.


Any decent clear glue will stick this to your layouts, or maybe you could add a couple
of stitches here and there - or how about a staple or two for a  more 
industrial look?  

I've mentioned my "flexible chopping mats" in a previous post.  These have been absolutely invaluable.  I paid a pound for two, however I've now seen them in Home Bargains for 79p for a pack of two mats.   I use them all the time.  They're great for protecting surfaces, for inking up and using like the more expensive craft mats, (which I've seen online for £15.99 each),  for spraying on, I've used acrylic paints on them and they clean up beautifully using a couple of baby wipes and some kitchen paper. 

How about you?  Do you have any favourite bargaintastic crafting buys to share? I'd love to hear about them .
See you soon!