Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Guess what...

Well here's a couple of clues...

Am I going to visit the library.......???????


Swimming ........................

not exactly, so here's 2 more clues..........

Have you got it yet.........................................

I've even made a pair of earrings to take to wear using 2 beautiful handmade lampwork beads which I commissioned.
Have you guessed yet..??

Yes it's holiday time for me, yay! We are nearly packed and even Billy is going away.

He's not looking too pleased as he will be staying inside at my parents'  but that is SO much better than putting him in a cattery. If only I could explain that to him! So no garden for a week for Billy ;0(

 I thought I would add  more to my little riddle, where do you think we are off to?
Here are  some photos I took last year. This will be our 3rd visit.

This is the view from our apartment over the beach.

This is our view around the headland

And this will be me early on Thursday morning reading those books,wearing those sunglasses, sunscreen and earrings and with those flip flops ready to put on when I need to stroll back up the beach for lunch on the balcony of our apartment.........

Bliss......... I can't wait.
 I will be back soon and will share some holiday moments with you. Whilst I am away let's just have some fun....who can guess my holiday destination? No cheating from  those of you who do know! One would normally say comments on a postcard but in this day and age perhaps I should say comments on my blog please?

Sunshine here we come.

Bye for now,

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A trip down Memory Lane.......

Last week I met up with an old  high school friend. We  have only seen  one another twice since 1979 as we moved away to study and work in different parts of the country. She has recently moved back south and we are hoping to meet up more regularly. As the last time we met she came over to near to where I live, this time I suggested somewhere nearer to her new home. She decided on  East Dulwich, South East London. This was of great interest to me,  as I was brought up nearby and lived in the area from 1964-1979.

I thought it would be lovely to re visit a place I have not been back to for many years. When I was given the address of the cafe where we would meet I nearly fell over...it was in the same road as my old primary school! What a coincidence! I could not wait for my trip down memory lane.......

The journey to East Dulwich is just under an hour from my home. When I arrived the first thing which struck me was how condensed the housing is, but how well kept the properties now are. When I was young this was not a prosperous area but it is now very "gentrified".

The other thing which was obvious was the amount of bonnet to boot car parking...as a 5 year old in 1966 there were not that many cars. Now everyone drives and  as the housing is terraced  it's not possible to park off road. So the cars line every available space on the roads.

I was sad to see no sign of any of the original shops. We used to have a butchers, green grocer, pet shop etc etc near school. The shops now are very "boutique" and there were also many coffee shops, cafes etc.

These are a couple of the boutiques where I think originally was a toy shop and a shoe menders.

On the right is the cafe where we met. I have a feeling that in my day it was one of the old sweet shops where everyone would pile into at the end of the school day to spend their loose coins. We bought things like sherbet fountains, jelly snakes, flying saucers, marshmallow shrimps, gob stoppers, bubble gum and everything designed to decay our young teeth!
It is now a very pleasant cafe which  serves much healthier options than a sweet shop in the 1960s and early 1970s! I should think that if we had come across the word "cappucino" then we would have guessed it was something to wear on our heads!

After our lunch, before I drove home,  I decided to take a look at my little primary school which has sadly been turned into housing. The old  playground now serves as  a car park for the residents.

 The entrance to the right of the building is where I entered school on my very first day as a 5 year old. I can still remember it, my class teacher was called Mrs Best, a really wonderful kind lady. The only other thing I remember from  my first day is that I did not learn to read that day.....I honestly thought on Day 1 that would happen!

Another obvious realisation was how tiny the school really was. When I was a pupil it seemed so vast. Running across the playground took lots of my tiny steps! I noticed that just the few cars now parked there filled it.  As I stood there looking at the shadow of my dear old school the silence deafened me. Old  memories in the playground were of lots of  laughter and shouting. I actually felt quite sad that the old school had gone. The only reminder of it's existence was the new name; St Clement's Yard (my primary school was called St.John's and St Clements).

At this point I decided that I must retrace my original walk to school from our old house. I drove, what is actually quite a short distance, again to my little legs all those years ago it seemed like miles! I found my old road and was greeted by a blank, cream painted  wall where the old "corner shop" had stood. It again has been converted into housing.

I used to regularly be sent on errands to pick up items of shopping for my Mum from the corner shop. It sold everything from milk to cold meats, fresh vegetables,bread , tinned food etc etc. Everything would be weighed out, very little was pre packaged.  Whilst I was looking I noticed that the old run, down high school which had stood at the end of my road opposite the corner shop had been completely re vamped. Guess which school is  now situated there..............................................yes my old primary school St. John's and St.Clements!

As it was summer holidays it was closed but it must be thriving as it is now occupies  a building many, many times bigger than my old original. How convenient it would have been had it moved to this site when I was a child. I could almost have fallen out of bed and into the class room. I was so pleased to find that the spirit of my old school still lives on in a larger and grander building.

Before I drove home I just checked out the local green, Goose Green, and was delighted to see even the same trees still growing there  but obviously they won't tell you they are 30 years older! Thankfully some things don't change although it was good to see a few new saplings planted.

So I had a wonderful trip down Memory Lane. It's amazing how many pleasant childhood memories can be stirred up by such a journey. I am so pleased I took it. How strange coincidences are - what started as  lunch with an old friend turned into me  finding my dear old primary school living a new life at the end of my old road...!

Happy days,

Bye for now,

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Summer's last blaze?

The talk of the moment appears to be regarding the change in the weather. The nights are certainly drawing in and the mornings are darker for longer. I must admit, as I drove along today, for the first time this summer I did notice that the trees, particularly the Horse Chestnut, are beginning to take on their autumn mantles. Reds, yellows and golds are beginning to replace the green leaves. We have been very lucky this year in the South East, despite a very late start we have enjoyed some good summer sunshine. In fact the lack of rain turned my lawn to hay and I have not mowed  it since 31st May!

Recent rain has greened it up very well. Grass really can withstand everything mother nature throws at it and I think this weekend will see me getting the lawn mower again.

I thought I would share some, hopefully not the last of this year, summer photos of my plants smiling from their pots.

My almost prehistoric looking purple arum lily.

 My gazania, which always open out to smile in the sunshine. They are such cheerful plants and will continue to flower right until the first frosts.

Also my eucomis has just come into flower and is looking very pleased with itself!

So there is still some life in this year's summer, I hope, but .............................................

what's  this......??????..............................................

Ok I admit it ,today I bought some bulbs, winter flowering pansies and violas which will be potted up in the beginnning of September. So yes, autumn is around the corner but summer is still trying to hang on in there  for a few more weeks yet. Sending you all some late summer sunshine.

Bye for now,


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Plush purple

I have been commissioned to make a necklace for a girl's; or should I say at that age, young lady's, 18th birthday. The brief was a purple based shortish necklace....which is quite a broad brief!

The place to start was my bead stash.

I sorted out all my purple beads and also found some black glass beads and purple Czech faceted glass beads which harmonised well.

I chose some pretty one of a kind  hand made glass lamp work beads which had purple and black in them and put together some design ideas on my trusty beading tray.

I decided on several patterns which I temporarily strung to see how they hung.

I choose the pattern on the far left and made up the necklace ,which I was happy with, but then I found another set of purple lamp work beads I liked as well. So I  decided to make up a second design.

So now I can show my customer 2 plush purple necklaces. I wonder which she will choose?            

My original? 
(You can click the photos to enlarge them)

         Or my second idea?      Do you have any thoughts as to which would be more suitable for an 18year old?
Whichever is chosen I shall put the other one in my Etsy shop (which I have re opened today) as purple appears to be "the" colour for Autumn!

Bye for now,

Saturday, 14 August 2010

In the pink

In a previous post  It started with a dress...... I mentioned that my dearest friend Karen is having a special birthday party soon  and has asked guests to wear something pink if possible. As I am not a particularly "pink" girl I decided to make some pink earrings.

I started by looking in my bead stash for some pink beads.
I found some lovely pink swirl handmade lamp work beads left over from a previous commission, some pink Swarovski pearls and some pink Czech faceted glass beads.
I also thought using some silver bead caps would add a touch of sparkle.

I had a play for a while and came up with a couple of design options

I decided to go with the left hand design as I thought the extra bead caps I used on the right made the earrings too "bling" for me!

I got out the trusty pliers and made them up adding some lovely rose sterling silver ear wires which I have been saving for such an occasion.

I took some photos indoors last night  but decided to wait until this morning and try outside as the light was poor.

This morning I woke up to grey clouds but I still thought I would get some better light in the garden so I took my new earrings (plus another set I made to put in my stock) outside. I set everything up for the shot ...

And guess who arrived to inspect them.........

Is this the sniff of approval?                     Have a great weekend everyone.

Bye for now,

Jx (and Billy)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Ladybird ladybird.......

There are advantages and disadvantages to this summer's good weather. One disadvantage in my garden has been the abundance of pesky black fly, the advantage has been the arrival of so many beautiful ladybirds.

The black fly have been mostly attracted to my runner beans. As we enjoy eating these I did not want to keep spraying chemicals on them to kill them. I decided to wait and see if nature could sort things out.

Amazingly within a short time the ladybirds arrived and started to reproduce prolifically.

I have been fascinated to watch all the life cycle changes of this beetle from egg, through the rather scary looking larval stage until the beautiful adult emerges from its pupa.

There are also so many different colours, from yellow through orange to bright red. They have done an incredible job of eating the black fly and I have a "balance" now.

Watching them also reminded me of the old nursery rhyme. I realised that I could not remember more than the first part;

Ladybird ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire your children have gone..

 So I decided some  research was necessary;

Interestingly it appears the old rhyme dates from at least 1744 and  was chanted to a ladybird if it landed on you. It supposedly encouraged the ladybird to fly away as it was unlucky to kill one. Also there was a belief that if you sang it to one that landed on you and it flew away and then came back you would have good luck! I also found the whole verse which made me smile...

Ladybird ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one and that's little Anne,
For she crept under the frying pan.

Childhood memories.. so now I can remember the whole rhyme.....but who on earth was Anne???!!!!
Have a great day,
Bye for now,

Monday, 9 August 2010

Summer colour in the garden

This summer, despite being late this year, has been so hot and sunny, especially here in Surrey. Although I have needed to use the watering can more my pots have put on a fantastic display. As I have mentioned before my garden is quite small and I use pots and baskets to my full advantage and I have them wheverer I can fit them in.

The real stars of this year have been my double petunias
 and also my geraniums.

This one has performed really well in a small hangingbasket.

I have also had some glorious colour from my dahlias below which have also attracted the bees.

A little busy bee can be seen at the centre of this unusual raspberry ripple variety of dahlia. We have been warned that there are fewer bees in our gardens but I do feel this year I have had many more than in previous years. Perhaps they too enjoy basking in the summer sunshine - or has this riot of colour also attracted them more?

And even Billy approves! Mind you he has spent a lot of the time sensibly finding shade amongst the flowers or on the patio.

I hope this splash of summer colour from my garden brightens your day too.

Bye for now,


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

It started with a dress....

I am often asked how I get inspiration for my jewellery designs so I thought it would be interesting to show one of my recent pieces through its design stages.

My oldest dearest friend Karen has a "special" birthday coming up and I wanted to make her a necklace. It was quite funny as I initially had thought of making something in secret and then at lunch she asked if she could commision something to wear at her party.
Perfect, that way she would get something she would enjoy wearing.

So...........it started with a dress................this one infact.

 A very pretty M+S Per Una dress and Karen emailed me the photo.

The photo does not really show it's true colours that well - what may look green is actually grey. It is really a lovely print and I even checked it out in store so that I could see it in the flesh.

Karen liked the oval mother of pearls which I was wearing in another necklace (below) and that was where we started. I decided that as the background for her dress was white I needed to stay more with white than cream so I chose to use the white ovals shown in the bottom of my necklace.

This was my necklace
Mother of pearl oval beads with Swarovski pearls

I then looked in my bead stash, yes it is pretty big! I also felt that the necklace needed to be quite simple so that it did not detract from her beautiful dress. Karen also wanted to wear it with other outfits. I chose  some lovely Czech facetted beads, Rose quartz and Swarovski white glass pearls.

Here is the selection.

Then came the creating part!

Karen likes quite short necklaces so I came up with a short repeat using little facetted beads inside the ovals which gives a lovely sparkle. The Czech beads are very sparkly anyway.
After several changes my final necklace came to life and after approval from Karen I have also made a matching bracelet.

 So here is the final piece all made up with lots of love for Karen to wear at her birthday party in a few weeks time.

And yes........

it started with a dress!   

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Early morning sunshine

It's 8am as I write this and it's my day off...yes...I have that list written and I have lots of things to do but I just opened my back door and was greeted by sunshine and blue skies and just had to stand for a moment and take a relaxing breath in....early morning sunshine....wonderful.

The sun has not even come up over the front of the house so there are long shadows cast...everywhere is still very quiet, despite it being the summer holidays.

Here is Billy enjoying the sun, I had to just swop some biscuits for the mouse he caught-he seemed to think it a fair swop. I have put the mouse in a flower pot in the garage to see if it can recover. It's only a little field mouse - I think it deserves a second chance!

So wherever you are reading this, even if the sun is not shining on you, I am sending you some rays...have a great day.

Bye for now,