Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Anatomy of a Bank Holiday weekend.........

I have come to the conclusion that Bank Holidays exist to remind us of the good points of the working week.

In addition, so much depends upon the weather, particularly in relation to the spring/summer Bank Holidays.

Following tradition we decided to go caravanning for this end of May bank holiday. However, following tradition we left it till way too late to get a choice of sites as apparently the world and his brother, who were much better organised that us, also wanted to go camping and therefore the most popular campsites were booked up ages ago.  Which is why we were delighted to bag a pitch on an adult only site which guaranteed no screaming children running round our caravan, tormenting the life out of Small Dog and making her go all bitey.

Which is only what they should deserve.


Friday morning dawned grey and miserable. Perfect BH camping weather.  With the campsite only an hour's drive away, we made good time and arrived just after lunch to find that all the sheltered, level pitches had already been taken, leaving us with the choice of two.  One right beside the toilet/shower block which was long and narrow, and the other, much bigger, at the top of a slope, fully exposed to the wind.

After some deliberation we chose the latter and began the task of trying to level the caravan on a pitch which sloped every which way.  We did eventually achieve this, aware all the while of the earlybird campers who watched us from the sanctuary of their perfectly pitched caravans.

However, we failed to take into account the fact that levelling the caravan from side to side on a slope, meant that the door sill was three feet off the ground.  Our caravan step was no match for this so getting in or out of the 'van required such feats of agility as were beyond all of us.  Even Small Dog baulked at the vertiginous drop and had to wait to be lifted in and out of the door.

No matter.  These things are sent to try us and we tried to maintain a cheery disposition as we tried a variety of alternative contortions in order to mitigate damage to all the joints in our legs, hips and backs.

Erecting the porch awning was similarly entertaining, at least from the viewpoint of our fellow campers, not one of whom could leave off sniggering long enough to come and offer a hand as we struggled in a stiff breeze.  
In the end we prevailed, and the porch awning was put up.  Not completely straight and square perhaps, but up nonetheless.  In a mere 2  1/2 hours, we were relaxing with a cold beer, exhausted, hot and dusty and still simmering with resentment at the unhelpful slopiness of our pitch.

In the meantime, Small Dog, who was attached to her dog spike out of harm's way (or so we thought) had found something disgusting to roll in, and was doing so enthusiastically, with a look of religious ecstasy on her face.

After such an dispiriting start though, the weekend did pick up subsequently.  We had visits on two consecutive days from friends, and despite an extremely windy day on Sunday, which at times threatened to rip the awning from the side of the caravan, we did have an enjoyable break, which we hope to repeat as soon as practicable.

It's back to work tomorrow though.........all play and no work etc etc.


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Under the weather..........

There are many advantages to working from home.
  • I can get up *5 minutes before I'm due to start 
  • I can declare an impromptu 'Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day* whenever the need arises (see above *)
  • My morning commute takes less than 30 seconds
  • My working day is flexible.... I can work 9-5, or 12-8, or 6-2
  • My working week is flexible.... I can take Tues & Thurs off and work through the weekend
  • Travelling expenses are nil
  • Nap breaks are possible at any time
  • Ditto elevenses/lunch/afternoon tea/snacks
  • Small Dog is always on hand to provide encouragement/displacement activity/playtime

I could go on but you get the drift.

However, one major, MAJOR disadvantage is that it's impossible to pull a sickie.  Unless I'm completely incapacitated by lurgy, I find it impossible to take the day off due to illness.
The last day or two I've felt distinctly under the weather but not really bad enough to languish in bed, or take to the sofa with only Small Dog and daytime TV for company.  

So I've been pacing myself, doing a little bit of casting, little bit of work on the laptop, little bit of making lists........nothing too strenuous and nothing too complicated or intense which would require me to be functioning at better than 25% of normal.

But at almost 4.45pm I've decided to knock a whole 15 minutes off my working day and declare 'home time'.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be feeling better.  Otherwise.......

Monday, 23 May 2011

Casting off.........

I'm feeling what can only be described as 'seedy' this morning.

Seedy as in.....

seedy  (ˈsiːdɪ) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]
adj  , seediest
1. shabby or unseemly in appearance: seedy clothes
2. (of a plant) at the stage of producing seeds
3. informal  not physically fit; sickly

I think I must have overdone things at the weekend, clearing out the shed, moving stuff around, lifting and carrying etc.  Feel decidedly spacey and not quite with it today, which is a bugger as I really have to start a batch of casting.

It's right up at the very top of my 'To Do List for Monday'

1. Start casting batch
2. Do stuff
3. Do more stuff


My seediness is possibly also due to Small Dog having a severe case of Dire Rear in the night and having to stumble out of bed at stupid o'clock to let her go outside.


Naturally she is now curled up in her basket, catching up on her disturbed sleep.

I might just have to have a power nap this afternoon too........ speaking of which, why didn't I think of this....

Sunday, 22 May 2011

It's a bit blowy..........

Actually that's a gross understatement.  It's blowing a gale and one of our fence panels is holding on by a whisker so I'm fully expecting it to take to the skies at any moment.

Small Dog doesn't like blustery days and has had to be persuaded to go outside.  After a very quick windswept wee she came racing back indoors as if pursued by the hounds of hell.

I've done a brief stint in the workroom, mainly clearing up after my 'getting rid of stuff' efforts of the past few days.  I'm girding my loins to make a start on a batch of casting, which is long overdue but I have to make a list first.

*dares anyone to mention displacement activity......*

I've also had an unexpectedly productive morning on the laptop, setting up an exciting new venture which will be unveiled later this year.  I did it using HTML and everythin' and despite my scepticism of my amateur coding skills I'm amazed to find that it actually works!

Who'd have thunk it..........

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Some people have way too much time on their hands........

As regular readers of this tosh blog will be aware, I'm a great fan of displacement activity.

Simply put, dispacement activity is something that you do in order to avoid dealing with an unpleasant situation, such as work, cleaning the oven, or attacking the north face of the ironing pile.
I have boundless admiration for people who can elevate displacement activity to an art form, and as a result I have just been alerted to THIS which is a supreme example.

Hint: read the reviews........


The nemesis of stuff..........

As if we didn't have enough stuff in the house to deal with, yesterday we decided to tackle the top shed.

*rolls eyes*

Emptying it took about an hour all told, after which time we had covered an area of approximately half the garden with stuff.

There followed an interlude of both of us morosely standing looking at it all, hoping that perhaps a massive seagull, four times the size of an albatross, with a penchant for spidery old rubbish would swoop down and take it all away.

Sadly, this didn't occur, so we were forced to tackle it all, bit by bit and decide what to do with it.  

Some of it was easy - broken stuff, mouse-nibbled stuff, tatty old rubbishy stuff, all went in the bin.

Some of it wasn't so easy - large dismantled wardrobe, kiln spares for my previous smaller kiln, no end of packaging supplies surplus to requirements. 

So we had no choice but to recourse to Freecycle - arch nemesis of stuff.  As a result, today we will be waiting for an ardent army of assorted freecyclers to collect a cornucopia of stuff, ranging from an old fluorescent light fitting, though assorted lever arch files and folders, document storage boxes, recycled padded envelopes, craft storage boxes, kiln spares etc etc etc ad infinitum.

One tentative taker for the dismantled wardrobe but they're going to need a helper to carry all the bits plus a very large car or van to transport it.

At the moment the entire hall/porch area are a sea of boxes and bags awaiting collection although hopefully by the end of today it will be stuff-free zone.......

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Where does stuff come from.............?

D'you remember the fairy tale about The Magic Porridge Pot

I've decided that my workroom is similarly enchanted and had become a portal for 'stuff'.  I've been clearing stuff out of it for nigh on 18 months now, and no matter how much stuff I remove, there always seems to be more.

Today I've emptied and cleared out 5 large A4 boxes full of assorted stuff.  That's quite a lot of stuff.   In total one whole black bin bag of non-recyclable stuff and half a wheelie bin of recyclable stuff.

As I said.

Quite a lot of stuff.

It's not even a big room.  It houses several kitchen base units, 4 bookshelves and a wall storage unit with lots of cubby holes.  Also a large workspace which also incorporates a storage unit.

I'm fairly sure there is a finite amount of storage space, which is why I'm perplexed by the apparently infinite amount of stuff contained therein.

Moving house..........

No, we haven't finally got round to putting the house on the market.

I wish.......

The relocation referred to is the moving of my three storey toy shop from the back end of the dining room into the workroom.  Don't know why I didn't do that in the first instance, except of course it's taken almost a year to pare down the contents of the workroom to the point where I could actually liberate the space for it.

It's now neatly ensconced on the worktop and fits neatly inside a bookcase with folding shelves so I still have space for a roombox on the top shelf.  The matching bookcase on the other end of the worktop now also houses my day nursery roombox, which is looking pretty damn good, even if I do say so myself.  Still some bits and pieces to do to it but the major stuff is now completed, so woo hoo.

So the rest of today will involve pottering/reorganising in the workroom and continuing the clearout.  Will it NEVER end?

Photos to follow when I've cleared up some of the resulting mess.......

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.........

Sage advice I'm sure you'll agree.  

And while I'm at it, what has happened to May? Here we are more than half way the through the month already.  In less than 5 weeks it's the summer solstice, after which the days will imperceptibly shorten........

Time's wing-ed chariot and all that.


In other news, I have been diverted from the antics of revolutionary menagerie animals by a request from the editor of the Doll's House Magazine to use my day nursery room setting in a forthcoming issue so I have just two weeks in which to disinter it from storage in the workroom and complete all the wee niggly-naggly jobs which remain to be done.

Such as sorting out the cat's cradle of electrical wires behind the false wall, finally cutting all the mitres for the skirting boards, installing the door, making the curtains.  Not to mention setting up a miniature scene featuring a myriad tiny toys.

Two weeks

14 days

336 hours 

20, 160 minutes

1,209,600 seconds

1.2096 × 1015 nanoseconds

I may have to elevate displacement activity to a whole new level..........

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

It's a zoo through there.........

I'm taking a break from the workroom this morning as I spent ALL DAY yesterday working on some new menagerie pullalong animals.

As you do.

In the end I was so completely engrossed that the animals were talking to me.

No really.

And I was answering them.

First off, pink piglet didn't want to wear a straw hat because he said it made him look like a cissy.   

Then the seaside donkey wanted silk bows AND flowers AND ribbon rosettes on her hat, and complained that the holes for her ears were too small.

Then the fox terrior really kicked off and refused to wear either a hat or a saddle, and whipped the whole group of waiting animals into a revolutionary rabble so I had to separate them all.

I don't know what it is with terriors.......if there's trouble to be made they're always first in the queue.

Incidentally, Small Dog's accent is a soft west country burr, with overtones of Vicky Pollard.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


We've just had an impromptu few days away for no other reason than we felt like it.  We packed up the caravan, hitched up, and hied off to one of our favourite campsites far enough from home to feel that we were away, but not so far that we couldn't zap back home in case of an emergency, which thankfully didn't transpire.  

In order to mitigate any feelings of work-related guilt, I packed a box of 'stuff to do' and did actually manage to spend a reasonable amount of time working on some tiny dolls.

Not to mention ideas for new toys, which for some unaccountable reason come unbidden when I'm not at home wracking my brains trying to think of any.  So I also filled several pages of my 'Ideas Notebook', which is all to the good.

Needless to say, Small Dog had a cracking time, keeping a close eye on the dozen of rabbits which miraculously appeared every evening, only inches away from the furthest reach of her camping lead. The campsite at this time of the year is ablaze with colour from the myriad rhododendron bushes and the specimen trees, some many hundreds of years old, are now clothed in fresh spring green leaves.  The weather was kind and we were able to enjoy sitting outside, listening to the birdsong, well into the evening.


Back home now though and I'm determined to work my socks off this week in order to clear my desk of all the new menagerie pullalong animals I began last week. Then I'm going to make a start on a batch of casting, the firing of which will necessitate replacing my worn-out kiln elements.... always a nerve-wracking task but long overdue.

Counting the days till our next outing...........

Monday, 9 May 2011

The game's afoot..........

About a year ago I started making a vintage games chest.  Every now and then I've taken it out of its box and looked at it disconsolately, before packing it away again.

However, today I got it out again, and spent a few hours working on it.  Prototypes are a mixed blessing.  They're for working out just exactly how to do something, making all the mistakes as you go along but hopefully ending up with something which you know can be improved upon.
I actually finished it, or as much as I want to do on an object which will have to go through several further incarnations before I can even think of offering one for sale.

It's far from perfect, but I've worked out how to do some things better, and have several ideas for fundamental improvements to the basic structure.

So here's the prototype.  It isn't fully finished, as in completely decorated on the front and sides, but you get the idea........

It's made from jelutong wood, which is easy to work with for the initial prototype, but I may make the next one from mahogany or walnut, which would look better.

In the body of the chest is a sectioned drawer, which contains  tiny dice and a selection of coloured wooden and metal playing pieces.  Beneath the drawer are 4 pull-out wooden game boards, each printed with a different vintage game in full colour.

I need to source some better tiny brass knobs for the game boards and thinner stripwood for the dividers, as well as devising vintage-style decals for the back and sides of the chest.  However, hopefully now that I've actually completed the prototype, the improved version won't take as long to work though.........

Other than the games chest, I've also started preparations for a new range of menagerie pullalong toys with some exciting new animals.

All in all a good, productive, creative day.

Monday, Monday...........

Did you know that the average person will see approximately 4,040 Mondays in their lifetime?

Doesn't seem a lot does it.....?

I've had that, 'Monday, Monday' song trapped in my head all morning, so in an idle moment I googled songs about Monday to find that there are more than 40.

In other news, I'm putting off going into the workroom, for no other reason than it's really, really clean and tidy and I don't want to mess it up. 


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Pottering day..........

I was fully expecting a thunderstorm last night.  Yesterday evening was warm and sticky and very, very still.

Real 'calm before the storm' still.

It did rain a bit in the night but not enough to really clear the air and it's all a bit grey and overcast outside now so perhaps more rain is on the way.

I've finally finished inputting all the figures into my accounts spreadsheets but am taking a break from it for a few days before tackling the next stage.  I'm up for a bit of pottering today, mainly in the workroom, with my primary task being the packing of a 'caravan workbox' which I can take whenever we go away.  Last summer I actually got quite a lot done while we were camping........sitting in the shade working on tiny doll's costumes, or preparing micro wigs.......so I'm hoping to do the same this summer too.

I'm also going to rationalise my 'ideas' notebook and pick out some of the best to work on next. 

Just what I need.... a gentle, pottering Sunday.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

I still feel unaccountably distressed and sad about the poor pigeon.  

We're encouraged to think of them as vermin but this was a lovely wood pigeon, and I can no more think of it as vermin than the squirrels which descend on our garden from the woodland beyond.

We have a good camping friend who is a vet and I find it difficult to imagine that she regularly puts animals to sleep.  Of course that is part and parcel of being a vet, and today I would have given anything to be able to put the pigeon out of its undoubted agony with a simple injection.  

Years ago, in another life, one of my children discovered a poorly rabbit in the garden.  It was clearly in the final stages of myxomatosis and in a great deal of distress.  Neither my then husband or father-in-law would deal with it, although the ex father in law offered me the loan of his air rifle.

That was big of him.

I sent the children indoors and put the muzzle of the air rifle close up against the rabbit's head....... and after what felt like an age I pulled the trigger.

It's the only time I've ever intentionally killed any warm-blooded creature ( I don't count wasps, or ants or mosquitoes although I possibly should....) and although I knew it couldn't be saved and was destined to die a long, lingering death, I felt absolutely, desolately awful for days.

I don't like fishing (although I do eat fish)

I can't watch scenes of animal slaughter (although I do eat meat)

Hypocrite or what......?

Mission of mercy............

My calculations were interrupted earlier by a poor pigeon, hit by a car just outside our house.  We think one wing and both legs were broken, and it lost almost all of the feathers from its tail and the back end of its body.

It managed to scramble to the kerb where it quickly attracted a crowd of curious children onlookers so we grabbed a box and a towel and went outside to see what could be done.  The poor thing looked in a bad way and was bleeding from the damaged wing.  We gently draped a towel over it and it stopped struggling, then we carefully moved it into the box and took it indoors.

The consensus among the children was that they should take it and put it into the woods for a fox to find it.  Bloodthirsty little buggers.

PP rang the RSPCA and was directed to take it to a local vet, who would probably put it to sleep, so we put it carefully in the car and set off to our vet on The Ridge, where it was received and taken off to be euthanized.

The kindest thing would been to have put it out of its misery ourselves, straight away, but neither of us could do it.  Similarly we couldn't just leave it to die slowly, probably in a great deal of pain.  It was a very upsetting episode...... I can't bear to see any animal suffer.

Now we're worried that it's the pigeon who visits our bird bath every day to take a shower and preen its feathers.  Also that it might have baby birds somewhere in the woods behind the house, who may now also die.

The driver of the car which hit it MUST have been aware, as there was a cloud of feathers blowing all over the road.  How insensitive to just drive on and ignore the poor thing fluttering on the road. 

Unsurprisingly, I'm no longer in the mood for accounts........

Ultra Chic..........

No, I'm not talking about upping my sartorial game (currently wearing jeans, red vest top and rather dashing red and blue Hawaiian-style print shirt so admittedly I could legitimately be charged with crimes against fashion.....)

Rather, the Ultra Chic to which I refer is the casting slip successor to Seeley's, who are no longer trading.  I'm down to my last half gallon of the old Seeley's slip, which I've been using ever since I started working with porcelain over a quarter of a century ago.  I knew it inside out..... just how long to leave it in the moulds to set up, how to thin it to just the right consistency, exactly what firing schedule to use to guarantee the best results.

However, now that it's no longer available I've been forced to change to the new slip on the block.  My first two gallons arrived yesterday, and it's sitting on my casting bench awaiting its first use as soon as I'm done with the accounts.  

There's nothing like a good incentive to make the task in hand more palatable.

I'm also awaiting a new set of kiln elements, so once they arrive and I can replace the old ones, I can set about doing a test of the new slip.

Apparently, Ultra Chic is light years ahead of Seeley's slip.   According to the accompanying information sheet it de-airs very quickly, which means that any tiny air bubbles left by stirring the slip prior to use, will quickly rise to the surface and dissipate.  This is important as air bubbles left in slip can cause tiny pin holes in the casting, which invariably occur at the end of noses, or over an eye, where they are most visible, rendering the affected pieces unusable.

Apparently it does not separate, so mixing is always easy.  This is an advantage over Seeley's which if left for a period of time would separate so that the solids would fall to the bottom of the container and the liquid floated on the top.  When this happened the only way to thoroughly re-mix the slip was to sieve it thoroughly several times.

Apparently it is not weather sensitive and can be frozen or placed into extreme heat without affecting the qualities of the slip.  I used to store my gallon tubs of Seeley's slip in the garden shed, which is baking hot in summer, and freezing cold in winter, and yes, the slip did freeze occasionally and it was always a bugger to mix afterwards.

But best of all, apparently Ultra Chic can even be reclaimed, which is a major boon. During a casting session there are lots of offcuts of leather-hard greenware which up till now I've had to throw away as I couldn't reconstitute them without a pug-mill.  However, according to the makers of Ultra Chic, I can now collect all the spare bits from each casting session and simply toss them into an empty gallon container.  When it is full of dry porcelain, the container is filled with water and left to sit overnight. The excess water is then poured off and the resulting sludge stirred then sieved.  This reclaimed slip can be added to new slip at a ratio of 1 part reclaimed to 3 parts new.

Brilliant or what?

Not only that, if I need a piece to shrink more than the normal 17% range I can use pure reclaimed slip and the piece will shrink more in the firing!

I am both amazed and delighted!

Of course, the proof of the pudding and all that.......  It remains to be seen whether these claims can be substantiated in practice, and I'm going to have to do a test firing to see if my the firing schedule currently programmed into my kiln will produce perfect pieces.  However I'm quietly optimistic and looking forward to experimenting.



Friday, 6 May 2011

'F' in Maths.......


D'you see what I did there?


In that case you're probably quite good with numbers.  Not the mention the thing with the tens and units, more commonly known as 'sums'.

It's my own fault.  I shouldn't rely so heavily on Excel which is a program forged in the pits of dyscalculia hell.  Many years ago I completed an advanced Excel course and by doing it every day, I managed to do some quite complicated stuff.  However the clue is in the 'doing it every day' so now I'm lucky if I can even manage to get the autosum thingy to do what I want.

As for formulae....... I can just about cope with very, very simple ones, combining basic addition and subtraction.  However, start throwing % into the mix and it all goes base over apex.

Why are numbers such slippery little buggers?  There are only 10 of them so they shouldn't be so hard to keep track of, or so reluctant to toe the mathematical line.

My head hurts and every time I close my eyes, a maelstrom of £££££s and numbers float in a stormy sea comprised entirely of Excel spreadsheets.


It's wine o'clock.......


The Paperless Office.....yeah right!

I spent all day yesterday preparing to do the annual accounts.  It's not the worst bit of the whole procedure but it comes close.

Every year I make a solemn promise to myself to file each month's payments/receipts/bank & business credit card statements etc neatly in a large brown envelope, marked with the relevant month for ease of identification.

Every year this perfectly sensible regime lasts till around mid-June, then I get fed up with the onerous task of placing bits of paper INSIDE the envelope, and default to just throwing them in the box.

Every year, around September I get a sudden attack of guilty conscience, and pledge to empty the box and file each piece of paper in the appropriate envelope.

Every year this doesn't happen, which is why every year, come May, I am faced with a storage box crammed full to the brim with miscellaneous bits of paper and only two, maybe three envelopes with the contents carefully filed.


Which is why it takes a whole day to sort out all the paperwork before I even start on the accounts proper.

I'm having a change of venue this year.  Usually I spread everything out on the dining room table for the duration but this year, I'm going to do them in the workroom, although the desk currently looks like this.....

I doubt I could find space for a waffer-thin mint let alone my laptop, calculator, keypad attachment for the laptop, notepad and all the other paraphernalia which accompanies the task. 

However I will have to try.

*sigh of such abject desolation it would melt your heart to hear it*


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Sword of Damocles.........

..........has been lifted.

I have miraculously swept through my 'most urgent' to do list and cleared EVERYTHING!


I know.

Brilliant or what?!

All outstanding orders have been packaged and despatched.  The lingering commission has been completed, carefully packaged and sent off.  As has my Kensington Dollshouse Festival Showcase Exhibit.  All of the items are for sale and can be bought at the show.  Several have been made specially for KDF and won't be repeated so if you're going to the Festival, look out for the display in the entrance foyer, in the glass showcase.  Information on prices etc are available at the information desk.


I can now turn my attention to the annual business accounts, which I will start tomorrow, annexing the dining room as usual and leaving it knee-deep in paper for the duration.  It doesn't help that the recent amazing weather is set to continue, and get even better towards the weekend.

No matter.  I will disdain the delights of the great outdoors and immerse myself in the task.  If I'm really lucky, and all the spreadsheets tally, I might manage to get it all done and dusted by early next week.  I can then play Russian Roulette on the tax website..........

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Work/life balance...........

It's always a challenge, returning to work after a two week break, but I was fully prepared to buckle down this morning and get straight back into harness.  

First there was the overflowing email inbox to tackle.  One of the joys of camping in the middle of nowhere for the past fortnight has been the lack of a mobile phone/internet satellite signal, which has rendered me practically uncontactable.  However the downside is that while I was hoping to be able to pick up emails and keep up to date with things workwise, that just wasn't possible, hence the gargantuan task on my return.  I've just about got to the bottom of the work emails, so if you've been waiting for an email response I'm getting there.

I also have orders to package and despatch, as well as the pressing matter of the Kensington Dollshouse Festival showcase exhibit, which must reach their office by this Friday at the latest. 

As soon as that is done, and I've caught up with orders/enquiries etc, I have to set about tackling the business accounts in order to submit our tax return.

No pressure there then. 

So here is a realistic representation of how I will be spending the forseeable future.

Back from beyond..............

We are safely returned from the deepest, darkest reaches of the New Forest, which isn't new, and even more surprisingly, isn't all forest.  

Having never been there before, I had the impression that it was mainly dense woodland, so it was a revelation to discover that it is incredibly diverse.  Yes there are lots of trees, but there is also heath and moorland, reed beds, rivers and streams and even a swathe of stunning coastline with incredible, deserted beaches, strewn with huge chunks of fossil rock.

The weather throughout was unremittingly gorgeous, and on the campsite, which was built on a WWII airfield, our pitch was tucked in a little suntrap slightly off the beaten track.

En route, we stopped off in Brighton for two nights to allow PP to participate in a caravan manoeuvring course run by the Caravan Club.  Given that this trip was only our second towing experience, the course was very timely, and proved its worth when, on arrival at the New Forest campsite, PP expertly reversed the caravan onto the pitch with pinpoint accuracy.  We were then able to sit back and watch the arrival of other caravanners later in the day, and can report that not one of them managed to pitch with such elegant and practiced poise.

In brief, we had a lovely time, shared with several of our camping chums.  We visited historic castles, roamed on empty beaches, walked on ancient heathland, and even caught a record-breaking 18 crabs on a crabbing expedition.  

Here's a pictorial resume .........

Our lovely sheltered, sunny pitch with birthday bunting in situ......

 Small Dog taking a keen interest in the welfare of our crab catch.  They were all released back into the sea.......
 That speck in the middle distance is Small Dog just before she rolled in pony pooh.  Eewww.

 Memorial just behind the campsite.  Sections of the original runways still exist.
 Herds of New Forest ponies everywhere......

 Small Dog Crusoe exploring a deserted beach.....

Happy days.....