Wednesday, 29 October 2008

My 15 minutes..............

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has commented or emailed to congratulate me on having my toy shop featured in the forthcoming issue of Dolls House Magazine.

After publication I will then have free rein to post loads of photos of the interior, which have, as some of you have pointed out, been sadly lacking.

Exciting stuff.

In other news, winter has arrived in East Sussex. We were warned to expect snow overnight last night, but thankfully, right down here on the coast, we escaped the worst of the sub-zero blast.

However small dog, who has minimal resistance to cold, has dug out her warmest winter jumper, which very aptly has a snowflake pattern. She has also been working on her Christmas list and I notice that she has added 'heetid kooshun'

Spelling is not one of her special talents but I get the message.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Have had it confirmed today that my toyshop, which if you remember was the inspiration for this blog, is to be featured in the December issue of Dolls House Magazine.

Not only's been selected as the cover shot!

Woo and indeed hoo!!!!!

I haven't seen it yet, as the publication date is early November, but I am now officially very excited!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Trial by vet...........

Small dog is traumatised.

Much against her better judgement, she permitted us to take her to the vet today, for a routine rabies injection to keep her pet passport up to date.

However, it turns out that she also has a slight ear infection, which necessitated having the hair plucked from her ear canals using forceps, then ear drops inserted to deal with the infection.

In addition, she had to have her front claws trimmed.

Not to mention the injection, which was the point of the exercise in the first place.

So all in all, she was not a happy bunny and is currently recuperating in her basket, in a mighty huff.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Daylight robbery.................

The clocks went back one hour at 2am this morning. Aside from allowing an extra hour in bed today, it also means that it will be dark by about 5.30pm.

So we are now in freefall towards winter, with gloomy, grey days and dark early nights. My least favourite time of year.

I think that hedgehogs, dormice and like, have the right idea. Find a warm, cosy nest, snuggle down and go to sleep till spring, neatly bypassing winter, and waking re-invigorated and refreshed in late March, when the clocks are put forward again and it is still light at 7pm, with the promise of warmer, longer days just around the corner.

Can't wait...........

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Inaugural mobile workshop outing.........

At last my plan of spending time in the 'mobile workshop' has come to fruition. We set off in the campervan on Thursday afternoon and have spent two nights away, on a lovely little campsite, set in the woods, not far from home but blissfully internet/telephone/interruption-free.

Not only that, we did both manage to get a full day's work done yesterday, which is a bonus. Not to mention clearing the creative log jam and setting the ideas flowing again with notebook and pen, rather than on my laptop, which inevitably leads to displacement activity of one sort or another.

Not only that, the woods themselves were full of ripe sweet chestnuts, which were quite delicious after they'd been roasted. Needless to say, small dog had a wonderful time, mooching around the woodland paths, watching out for squirrels, rabbits and other assorted wildlife and generally immersing herself in the camping experience. While we worked she either kept a lookout at the windows, or curled up on her fleecy blanket to catch up on her naps, so the experiment was voted a success on all counts.

Looking forward to the next working trip now............

Monday, 20 October 2008

High maintenance............

And so another weekend bites the dust. This last one was spent busily putting our house in order for the winter, and battening down the hatches, much in the manner of the three little pigs.

Only without the straw and sticks.

Having already repaired our shed roof the previous weekend, there still remained the job of replacing a pane of glass which blew out in a recent storm. This was successfully accomplished with only the minimum of cussing at the point where, when trying to fit the new pane, one of the others fell out and narrowly avoided smashing to smithereens on the flagstones.

DIY........dontcha just love it?

However the major job, which we had been planning to tackle since the start of this year, was repainting the front of the house, outside the dining room, which is clad in softwood, and so requires high maintenance repainting every so often. As it faces south, and downhill, it takes the brunt of the weather... sun, wind and rain. Not a huge amount of wood to paint, but as with everything DIY, preparation is all.

So, as Saturday was warm and sunny, we reluctantly girded our collective loins and set to, scraping, sanding and mousing all the flaking, peeling paint.


Yes, well, we have a small electric sander in the shape of a mouse. That is, pointed at the front and bigger at the back. Sort of triangular shaped. In the way that a mouse is sort of triangular if you look at if from above. It's supposed to get easily into cracks and crevices and the like. Again, very similar to a mouse.

Small dog perked up her ears at the mention of mousing, and sat attentively waiting in her basket, which we took out front so she could relax in the sun while we were hard at work. She was sadly disappointed when the mousing activity yielded nothing but clouds of dust and lots of noise.

Strangely however, the racket did not deter her from enjoying a lengthy nap soaking up the sun.

So, all the prep, scraping, sanding and filling took about 3 hours. And the first coat of paint took 1 hour. After which we were fit to drop but at least we could see where we'd been, which is always a bonus.

Yesterday (Sunday) was much colder and windier, but nevertheless, the second coat had to go on. Due the drastic drop in temperature, small dog declined to join us outside and stayed in the cosy warmth of her basket indoors, while we, bundled up in jumpers, battled the elements to complete the job, swearing under our breath as gusts of wind deposited tiny specks of dirt over our pristine paintwork.

Still, it's finished, apart from a few bits of touching up, so all in all a job well done.

So hopefully, even the worst of the winter storms won't huff, and puff and blow the paint off the front of the house.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

361 days to go.............

I've just put another countdown timer on my desktop.

This one counts down to 16 October 2009, when THE film of the century will be released.

G-Force will star Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz and Bill Nighy as some of the voices of a team of trained secret agent guinea pigs that takes on a mission for the US government. The squad of guinea pigs is dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire, who plans to taking over the world with household appliances.

Abso-bloody-lutely brilliant and I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Best laid plans...............



The mobile workroom failed to get its first outing today, due to a combination of pressing things which got in the way........ having to wait in for a delivery, appointment in town, stuff to deal with.........

You know how it is.

However, I made a virtue of necessity and did several hours of casting, having belatedly realised that as of tomorrow, there are just 7 weeks left till Kensington. This means that I have just two weeks to get a last batch of casting in progress if I have any chance of having the porcelain completely finished, ie bisque fired, strung and painted, in time.

In other news, small dog has rolled in something disgusting but unidentifable which smells very much like rotting fish. So she is shortly due her second bath this week.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Mobile workroom...........

So having had the cunning plan of setting up a mobile workroom, or 'a campervan with a view', we have been waiting for a day of clement weather to try it out.

The plan that is.........not the van.

Tomorrow is forecast to be just such a day, with lots of sunshine, so all being well we will pack a workbox and set off for a day of work by the sea, picking up a delicious lunch en route.

Might not even feel like work.

And in an major eBay coup this week I snaffled a lovely little 12v mini iron, just perfect for pressing mini seams, which will run on the van electrics without us being hooked up to the mains. A steal at 99p.

And I don't even LIKE ironing!

The joy of research...........

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my dalliances with the displacement goblins.

Sometimes it's out and out displacement activity pure and simple. However more often I start out by trying to find some specific information, or image, or source of supply etc.

This morning, on a foray to find information related to a particular historial period costume, I came across this little gem, entitled Women in Art.

Aside from being technically amazing, it is also a very useful pictorial record of styles of hair and headgear through the ages.

Thus it in no way counts as displacement activity.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Flying squirrel............

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a big, fat squirrel in possession of a large nut, must be in want of a chase from small dog.

Thus this morning, as I made a cup of tea, I happened to glance idly out of the kitchen window, to see a huge squirrel sitting right in the middle of the lawn, tucking into a sizeable nut.

Our garden backs onto ancient woodland, which is alive with all manner of creatures, especially squirrels. At this time of year, when they're frantically storing nuts for the winter, the top of our fence which runs from the back of the garden, all the way to the front of the house, resembles nothing so much as a squirrel M25. Sometimes there can be so many squirrels ferrying nutty booty up and down the fence that they have to wait in line, nuts in paws, till there is a gap in the flow.

Anyhoo, back to the squirrel in question, which I can only describe as morbidly obese. In fact, it had so much fat laid down that it could tuck into its store of nuts with complete equanimity, safe in the knowledge that it could probably last several winters on its own fat reserves alone.

Now small dog likes nothing better than a good squirrel chase. If she's indoors and sees a squirrel running along the top of the fence, or catches a glimpse of one in the garden, she sets off at top speed, letting out squeals and yelps of excitement at the thrill of the chase.

This morning, she happened to stroll nonchalantly into the kitchen just as I caught sight of the squirrel on the lawn.

Me: Oh, you're up are you? Well.... Shhhhh......... SQUIRREL!!!!!

However, instead of setting off with her usual unearthly battle cry, she zoomed outside silently, picking up speed across the patio and up the steps to sail over the wall onto the lawn.........where still sat the squirrel, oblivious to the small furry ball of quantum velocity heading its way.

As she literally flew over the top of the wall, small dog caught sight of the squirrel, and although already travelling at a zillion miles an hour, moved up a few gears until she was a mere blur.

Caught by surprise, the squirrel belatedly took to its chubby little heels and ran up the garden as if it were pursued by the hounds of hell, which, in a way, it was.

It couldn't half shift for a fat squirrel.

Disappearing under the hedge, followed nanoseconds later by small dog, it must have escaped by the skin of its teeth. Small dog re-appeared straight away, squirrel-less, but with the air of a job well done.

So, here is a photo of a more slimline model of squirrel. Yes, hand on heart I can honestly say that the squirrel in question was FATTER than this one, but sadly this is the fattest squirrel I could find, courtesy of Google Images.

Now I'd best get back to work before I fall prey to the displacement goblins


Monday, 13 October 2008

Back to work............

Just under 8 weeks to go till the Kensington fair so it's back to work today with a vengeance. I've taken an executive decision to cull my 'to do' list as it is no longer inspirational........rather a source of dismay and simmering panic!

However, our trip out in the campervan yesterday, did yield the germ of a plan.

A cunning plan.

A plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a fox.

"Awayday workdays".

Cunning AND simple.

It works like this. I pack an awayday work box, with everything need to do a day's work....scissors, glue, sewing equipment, tiny undressed dolls, silk ribbons and trims etc. This box has to be stocked with duplicate equipment so I'm not forever dipping into it for things and forgetting to replace them, thus rendering it's usefulness obsolete.

Once packed, it lies in readiness for a day of good light (full sunshine might be a bit too much to hope for) whereupon it will be packed into the campervan, along with a delicious lunch and small dog.

We then drive to a nearby stretch of coastline with unrivalled sea views........this could be either clifftop or beach side and park with the front window facing the sea. The cab seats swivel round, and the van's folding table fits neatly between them, making the campervan into a comfy workroom with excellent light and superlative views.


No displacement goblins to distract me from the task in hand. Unless you count the miles of beach and sea spread out in front of me, with an ever changing panorama of people walking dogs, fishing, digging for lugworm, or just strolling along the waveline.

Naturally small dog gives this plan a firm 'paws up' as it combines three of her favourite activities. Camping, beachcombing and comfortable napping.

So now I'm off to stock a workbox to leave in readiness.

I just love it when a plan comes together.............

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Summer's Last Hurrah................

So summer reappeared for a brief encore this weekend. The sun shone from cloudless, blue skies, temperatures soared, and it was hard to believe we're almost into the third week in October.

We should have gone camping, taking advantage of the weather and the last few weeks before many campsites close for the season.

Instead yesterday we re-felted the shed roof. An unglamourous, but essential task involving cold bitumen and several yards of mineral felt.

However, today the sun continued to shine so we packed a picnic lunch into the campervan, and along with small dog, set off to an unspoilt bit of beach to find a geocache.

This was no ordinary's title "Wait For No Man" gave a clue to it's location, on top of a groyne post only accessible at low tide. In fact the cache itself is elsewhere, only the final coordinates are on top of the post so it's a two-part clue.

We arrived and parked up an hour or so before low tide, so sat on the shingle, enjoying lunch and watching small dog amass a veritable mound of treasure, including a seagull feather, bit of old seaweed and a large shell with a hole in it. Having deposited these finds by our chairs she then stretched out in the sun for a nap.

As low tide point neared, we set off across the beach to the groyne we thought carried the clue, only to find that the base of the posts was still under water, rendering them unreachable without either waders or beach shoes, neither of which we had.

Small dog, unleashed, was mooching around the sand, when suddenly she disappeared from view, having accidentally strayed into a suddenly, deep pool. She resurfaced and valiantly struck out for land, a mere three frantic doggy paddle strokes away, a look of complete shock and surprise on her face. Once out of the pool she insisted on having her lead re-attached and sat forlornly, shivering and whimpering.

Perfectionist partner had to decide whether to get wet, or trudge back along the shingle to retrieve wellingtons from the campervan. As the top of the groyne post was 10 feet above the beach, to get to it involved a climb up barnacle and seaweed encrusted wooden spars, which looked very precarious and in any case we had no way of getting to it from dry land. Eventually, the returning tide took the decision out of our hands and we left clueless, vowing to return another day with proper equipment.

However, despite leaving empty handed, it was a lovely afternoon, although it took some time for small dog to recover from her traumatic dunking.

Anyhoo, here's a shot of the beach this afternoon, and another of small dog before her impromptu swim..............

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Collectively speaking.............

I have been involved in a fierce debate today over the correct collective noun for a gathering of Santas.

Initial thoughts were, in no particular order:

* a dash
* a grotto
* a sack

Further research (please note that this was official research and NOT displacement activity) threw up another, less savoury collective noun......a snog of santas.

Any better suggestions?

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Pure Genius...........

Ok, so here's the deal.

I have worked today, despite suffering what can only be described as 'a very, very bad cold'.

I've done 3 hours of casting and a further 2 hours of doll stringing, not to mention struggling with a recalcitrant printer which resolutely refused to copy at high resolution and instead got stuck on 'shoddy quality'. All while coughing, sneezing, having the headache from hell and running a temperature.

If I were a man, I'd have been lying in bed, drinking Lucozade, eating dippy egg with hot buttered toast soldiers, and watching old black and white movies on daytime TV.


But no, as a woman, I am of course immune from 'man cold'.


My shiny new work regime has fallen at the first hurdle this week as I've been laid low with a lurgy which began on Sunday with a tickly sore throat and has progressed over the course of the week to a full blown chest cold.

Thus, despite having a gorgeously husky, sexy voice not dissimilar to Marlene Dietrich, the effect is rather diluted by being accompanied with a hacking cough and mucousy sneezing, not to mention trailing wafts of Vicks chest rub and Benylin fumes.

I suspect that I am also single-handedly keeping the manufacturer of both Day and Night Nurse afloat in these precarious financial times.

Not only that............Small Dog has proved to be a great disappointment in the 'healing paw' department. She can normally be relied upon to maintain a constant ''duvet top' vigil when either of us is ill, and to be fair, she has put in the odd appearance when I've forsaken my workroom to have a lay down on the sofa in the afternoons. However, as soon as I'm convulsed in paroxysms of coughing and spluttering (which is roughly every 3 minutes) she gives me a long suffering look and stalks off to find a quieter place to rest.

And so, I remain alone, lying pale and wan, not dissimilar to my other screen heroine, Greta Garbo in her famous death-bed scene from Camille, which entirely coincidentally has formed part of my daytime TV viewing this week.

You know..........the one where after having lived a dissolute life as a kept woman, she is finally fading away from consumption. In the final scene, her beautiful but wan face is framed by her pillow - she rallies to get out of bed when she learns her lover (Robert Taylor as Armand) has come.
She hauls herself out of bed and painfully makes her way to a chair. There, her nurse brings her camellias to pin to her lap, and brushes her hair. Rapturous, impatient, and hoping to look perfect, Camille begs: "I'll be beautiful again when I'll be well again, won't I?"
In an exquisite, classic deathbed scene, she makes a great effort to stand and greet Armand as he enters. Her eyes and face are joyous and bright for their reunion. But in moments, she is exhausted and debilitated - he sweeps his fragile love into his arms as she falls. He babbles to her about his reaffirmation of love and promises to stay with her forever - now that he understands her love-as-renunciation. He plans for their happy future together, beginning with a trip to the country where she can get well. She gains sustenance and power from his ardor and support. She falters however, and goes limp and cries that she isn't strong enough. After he calls for the doctor, places her in a chaise and kneels at her side, she experiences sadness for a love that she has lost forever in the temporal world. But she's not self-deluded - her death will release them from an untenable relationship into a more spiritual, mystical relationship: "Perhaps it's better if I live in your heart, where the world can't see me. If I'm dead, there'll be no staying of our love." She signals death when her eyes burst open once. She crumbles and falls lifeless, but remains tranquil with a gentle smile on her face. Armand looks at her and notices she has already passed away. He is horrified that this is the end. He buries his face on her breast, weeping. The film ends with a final fade-out, close-up shot of Marguerite's lovely, radiant face - imperishable in death.

Ok, I only have a cold, but it is a very bad cold *sniff*.
And as for looking wan and debilitated, I can do that.
In fact if you disregard my red, runny nose, sleep-deprived bloodshot eyes, wild Abyssinian guinea pig hairstyle, hacking cough and extended snot-filled sneezing sessions, I could pass for Camille any day of the week.