Monday, 30 July 2012
I worked till late yesterday evening, finally completing all of the component packs for our August Kit of the Month. Which only left putting the finished touches to the instruction booklets and printing both the booklets and the pattern sheets.
We have two printers in the office. One is a fairly elderly all-in-one print/scan/copy inkjet which has been recalcitrant from day one. We have a hate/hate relationship and I always approach it with dread. It has been downgraded and is generally only used for scanning and copying, as it's print quality is dire.
The other is a dedicated high-quality printer which I use for our instruction booklets, leaflets, flyers etc.
Perhaps it's all my fault. By creating a two-tier system, I engendered a hotbed of dissention and one-upmanship between the two printers. I lavish care and attention on the high-quality machine, (which will henceforth be known as the Good Printer)lovingly changing its cartridges, cleaning its nozzles and rollers, loading it with the nicest paper.
This is obviously noted by the other printer, (which will henceforth be known as the Bad Printer) who huffs and puffs, endlessly shuffling its cartridges and blinking its warning lights, jamming paper at the slightest provocation and sometimes downright refusing to scan, or copy, or even, if it's got a right strop on, printing, which is surely its raison d'etre.
It's been on the printer equivalent of death row for some time now, and only the fact that it sometimes cooperates has granted it reprieve after reprieve.
However that may be about to change. I spent the best part of an hour today trying to persuade it to copy one image of the kit pattern. Nothing taxing. Just a black line drawing on white paper. Perhaps it thought that such a menial task was beneath it, as it sulkily churned out page after page of blank paper. Or mostly blank with just enough inky black streaks to render the sheet useless for anything other than scrap notepaper.
As if this wasn't frustrating enough, the Good Printer became possessed with the Bad Printer's malevolent spirit, and when I tried to print a draft copy of the completed instructions, it came over all mardy and joined in, printing three sheets in quick succession with only 2" of print on them, then juddered to a halt, announcing that it had an unidentified error.
The fact that this was completely out of character for the Good Printer led me to believe that the Bad Printer must have something to do with it, and indeed, while I was running a diagnostic problem to find out what was wrong, the Bad Printer could only be described as sniggering.
It was most definitely shuffling its cartridges in a sniggery way.
Fortunately, following a thorough troubleshooting schedule, the evil influence it had exerted on the Good Printer was completely exorcised and I was finally able to complete the instruction booklet print run without further incident.
The whole episode has worried me though. I simply can't work with two unpredictable printers so I'm a bit jumpy and will be on the lookout for any further deviations from their designated function.
Sunday, 29 July 2012
However, I have to disdain any outdoor delights today as I'm ensconced in the workroom, trying hard to complete our August Kit of the Month for release on Wednesday.
It will go right to the wire......
Incidentally, because we're exhibiting in the online Mini Miniature Show on 17-20 August, as well as offering a miniature toy workshop over that weekend, (the workshop will be announced on the website on 1st August) there won't be a September Kit of the Month.
However our October offering is already underway, and during November/December we will be releasing a very special range of festive kits to coincide with our 2012 Miniature Advent Calendar.
Best go and get on then....
Friday, 27 July 2012
We have had an absolutely lovely impromptu camping break, taking advantage of the summer's first properly glorious weather this week. We'd originally booked three nights but added a further two in a bout of devil-may-care extravagance.
Small Dog had what can only be described as mixed fortunes. She does love going away in the caravan and embraces the camping life with gusto, but during this trip she had a few misadventures.....
The first occurred on our second morning, as she was scrabbling to get out of the awning and velcroed her face to the bottom of the zip. I had already unzipped the door and was wondering why she wasn't racing outside. Instead she was pawing at her face and seemingly unable to move. I initially suspected that she'd caught an insect but closer investigation revealed that her whiskers and fur were firmly enmeshed in one of the little Velcro tabs. She did manage to free herself before I came to her aid, leaving a small chunk of face fur still attached to the Velcro.
I tried VERY HARD not to laugh......
The second misadventure wasn't the slightest bit funny, and happened on one of the days we went to the beach. I'd taken Small Dog down to the sea for me to have a paddle and her to cool her paws, which she did more or less willingly. On the way back up the beach I spotted a large dog, off its lead, bounding across the shingle towards us. Before I could react it was on us, pawing Small Dog, knocking her over in the process. I quickly picked her up out of harm's way, but the dog kept jumping up and trying to bite her, jaws snapping. At this point Small Dog let out an ear-splitting yelp and I tried to hold her up higher while the kept dog leaping up me from all directions at me, almost knocking me over too. By that time one of the group who owned the dog had arrived, apologising and saying that the dog was 'only a puppy' and wanted to play. I won't repeat my riposte here but I was really angry and shaken up.
All along the beach there are signs exhorting people to keep their dogs on leads but a sizeable minority ignore them and let their dogs rampage around uncontrolled.
Only last Sunday, a few miles from where we live, THIS happened, and in May this year there was a similar incident in Hastings Country Park which left a pet dog dead after it was attacked by two vicious, illegal dogs.
I'm seriously considering the purchase of an electric cattle prod, or pepper spray for Small Dog's (and our) protection while we're out on walks.
Sunday, 22 July 2012
How appropriate that in this Olympic week we achieved a world record today.
From arriving on site to being fully set up in exactly 1 hour 30 minutes. Coincidentally this was also the time it took for Small Dog to get thoroughly tangled in her camping lead, almost get into two fights with dogs 5 times her size, chase a rabbit and roll in something disgusting. She's obviously channeling her inner Montmorency.
Weather is sublime, not too hot with balmy breezes. PP has just mixed us one of her mystery cocktails. The mystery usually centres around whether you'll get your sight back after two days, although they do tend to contain at least three of your five-a-day in addition to unspecified alcohol so it's not all bad.
Such is the devil-may-care life of the self-employed artisan *cough.... yeah right!*
However, just so my guilt chip doesn't go into overdrive, I'm taking some work with me. Whether or not any of it gets done remains to be seen but should the overwhelming desire to review this month's invoices, work on the 'currently in production' new kit instructions, forward planning lists etc, prove too much for me, I will be able to give in gracefully.
Just finishing packing the last few bits and pieces which is being made exponentially more difficult by the fact that every time the front door is open, Small Dog races out, makes a beeline for the caravan and leaps in, settling herself at the furthermost point at the front of the 'van. This point is, of course, incredibly difficult to reach, being hemmed in by chairs, BBQ, windbreak, wine cellar box etc so I have to clamber over a mountain of stuff to reach her, while she feigns deafness and pretends not to hear me calling her out. I must have brought her back indoors half a dozen times this morning and my patience is wearing thin.
Both car and caravan are packed to the gunnels and I am supremely confident that we will be both drought AND famine resistant at least for the next few days. Having had the foresight to chill the fridge down overnight, we will arrive on site with ice cold beers to hand, ready for the rigours of erecting the awning, which is a prime spectator sport for fellow caravanners. To be brutally honest, if putting up a caravan awning were an Olympic sport we'd be unlikely to be selected for Team GB but we do like to enter into the spirit of the thing..... it's not the winning it's the taking part that counts.
Small Dog will oversee proceedings from the shady comfort of her camping chair, alternately pretending she doesn't know us and frequently raising her small, furry eyebrows at our ineptitude.
With luck, by mid-afternoon, we'll be all set up, awning in situ, BBQ at the ready, cold beer in hand, stretched out recliners soaking up the sun watching the world go by.
Sometimes, in the moment, life doesn't get any better than that.....
Saturday, 21 July 2012
Since then it's been raining almost non-stop and our front garden's like a sponge so taking the caravan away has not been an appealing prospect. However, this week, for the first time in ages, the weather forecast is set fair, so we've booked an ad hoc few days away.
I'm trying really hard NOT to feel guilty. I'm going to take my laptop and some workboxes and will
So this afternoon we've been cleaning and packing the 'van which necessitated getting into the shed up the garden to retrieve porch awning, camping chairs, windbreak, Small Dog's chair, BBQ etc etc etc.
As designated 'retriever' I had just managed to get right into the back of the shed and was hoiking stuff out when out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving.
It was so fast I hardly had time to react before something brown and furry scuttled out of a box and nearly ran right across my sandal-clad bare feet.
My initial thought was HUGE TARANTULA until reason belatedly kicked in and I realised that spiders don't have tails.
However, in the nanoseconds between my initial thought, and reason kicking in I simultaneously leapt UP and BACKWARDS, all the while screaming like a girl.
Obviously, the small furry, scuttling thing was immeasurably more scared of me than I was of it and it scurried to the back of the shed and disappeared. By that time my heart had stopped fibrillating of its own accord and I was already feeling foolish for such an overreaction.
Small Dog, who had been mooching about outside during the fracas, popped her head round the door to see what was occurring. Her being a boney fido ratting terrior and all, I thought she might come to my aid and intercept any renegade rodents, but she declined my invitation to investigate, made her excuses and left.
I've had to have a glass of something reviving to steady my nerves........
Thursday, 19 July 2012
However, I'm pleased to report that I have it on good authority that things are set to change.
Apparently our woeful weather of late has been caused by the jet stream settling much further south than is normal for this time of the year. But in the next few days it's expected to track northwards, taking the wind and rain with it and finally allowing our summer to flourish.
I've just checked the forecast for early next week and IF it's correct it will be scorchio...
For instance next Tuesday we will have a high of 74 and it will be, and I quote "sunny and delightful".
So, all other things being equal, we're hoping to snatch a few days away in our little caravan, enjoying the great outdoors with Small Dog, who is giving the whole idea a firm paw's up.
Anyone for Pimms....?
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
As the rain clouds were gathering we repaired to a seafront bistro, where we had a few glasses of wine and a really rather lovely Olympic-themed late lunch while awaiting the cavalcade. Unwittingly we were right by a torch handover point, which originally seemed like a good idea but as the news spread the crowds swelled till we couldn't see anything at all.
So we hit on the idea of climbing up onto one of the high municipal planters which line the road. I had to have assistance from several bystanders, then perched precariously on the edge, trying not to trample the flowers, until reason kicked in and informed me that as we pay extortionate Council Tax charges, that would surely cover a few trampled flowers and outweigh the costs of my ending up in A&E if I plummeted to the ground.....
After waiting absolutely ages, eventually the police motorcycle outriders arrived, dozens of them, followed by the corporate hoohah, then finally the torch runner.
Somewhere in that melee you might be able to see the waiting runner, holding his torch, waiting for the relay.
The handover of the flame took about 10 seconds, and I was caught completely off guard as the runner went past, flanked by a phalanx of bodyguards.
And that was that......
I'm glad we saw it though, even if it was fleetingly.
So, this week has been strewn with momentous moments.... the most important of which might just necessitate the buying of a hat.
Monday, 16 July 2012
And to top it all off it's bloody cold.
I'd have more sympathy with the weather if it was making even the slightest concession to the fact that it's mid-July and the rain was at least lukewarm. Today though it's felt like mid-November and I'm thoroughly fed up.
Small Dog has barely stirred from beneath the blanket in her basket, going out only under duress and for the bare minimum of time required to do her ablutions and return to the warmth of her cosy nest.
I know just how she feels.
However I have made a virtue of necessity and done a few hour's casting, followed by dressing a new little toy doll and completing a miniature toy theatre I started on Friday.
So the day hasn't been a complete washout workwise.
I just really feel the need for some cheering sunshine for more than just a few fleeting hours every fourth day.
Sunday, 15 July 2012
We're in for more wet weather in that case as it did indeed rain, albeit briefly, early this morning. As it has for practically every one of the past 40 days, so perhaps this year it's retrospective.
This afternoon we went to a friends' Seaside Sausage Party, where there were more than 20 dachshunds in all shapes and sizes.
The highlight of the afternoon was a series of Sausage Dog races, during the which the dogs all behaved impeccably and mostly ran in the same direction.
Small Dog was designated an honorary sausage dog for the day, and she did indeed enjoy several sausages, cooked on the beach on our little BBQ, which also provided some useful warmth when the clouds gathered. Thankfully it didn't rain, and there were even some lengthy periods of sunshine, although a stiff breeze meant we didn't take off many of the several layers of clothing, worn just in case.....
As you can see, we don't travel light. The beach shelter was hedging our bets in case of either blistering sun or torrential rain. Camping chairs are essential as none of the three of us like sitting on the shingle. Just out of shot at the bottom, is our BBQ which Small Dog is watching intently, having worked out that 12 sausages were far too many for us and she was therefore probably in with a shout for a few of them.
We left just as huge, lowering black clouds were beginning to gather, although it hasn't rained.
Lovely time had by all. Small Dog is now flat out in her basket, no doubt dreaming of sausage dogs and I'm just about to head off in search of a glass of something chilled and relaxing.
Saturday, 14 July 2012
Continuing the spirit of laying myself bare, here are my before and after shots.
If you're of a nervous disposition, look away now.
However, even though the simulator allows you to choose your body shape, apply a more mature appearance etc, it does not factor in the effects of a lifetime's worth of , errm... well, LIVING.
Not to mention gravity.
Way back in January, at the beginning of my diet, if I'd looked even remotely like the 'me' in the 'before' image on the left I'd have been cock a hoop!
Where are the traceries of leg veins, the puffy ankles, the saggy skin, the bulging stomach, the thunder thighs, the enormous derriere, the droopy
No matter.....apparently I'm just 10 lbs away from looking like the 'after me'.
Earlier today, SM's amazing record-breaking green streak finally came to an ignominious end.
After 26 consecutive weight loss weeks, the plucky Scot today recorded her first RED DOT!
Interviewed earlier, the crestfallen dieter said...
"Well obviously, I'm like, totally gutted.
It's been getting harder and harder as I near the end of my plan but I was really hoping I could maintain my lovely green line. Sadly it just wasn't to be. I'd like to thank all my fellow
It's heartening to hear such fighting talk and reassuring to know that her indomitable spirit is undiminished, even if her gluteus maximus isn't.... for this week at least.
This setback comes only days after she made it onto the much-coveted Biggest Losers list, having lost an impressive 26 lbs as well as dropping 3 dress sizes since January. I'm sure all our readers will join with us in wishing SM all the best for the remainder of her truly.... incredible journey.
WEIGH TO GO GIRL!!!!
Friday, 13 July 2012
Fortunately we saw our favourite vet, who is completely unfazed when Small Dog starts acting like a whirling dervish and manages to maintain her sense of humour regardless.
It was gratifying to learn that Small Dog's teeth are in very good condition, and that she has managed to retain all of them in contrast to most other Yorkies her age.
Similarly, the vet commented on how soft and silky her coat feels which was due to the grubby animal being doused with Wash & Go only this morning.
Small Dog is understandably reluctant to let anyone manipulate her back legs, but her speedy exit from the room confirmed that she was indeed walking well and using all four legs properly, signalling that both of her extremely expensive luxating patella surgeries this past year have been a success.
As for the actual injection itself ..... possibly tired out by simultaneously struggling for dear life and trying to somersault off the table, Small Dog didn't even batt an eyelid.
Came away with worming tablets (ewww!) and a new type of flea/tick/lice collar for dogs which apparently gives all over protection for 8 months.
So, all in all, not too bad.
Small Dog's right to reply.....
doo knott beleave a singel wurd mi mum sais. i amm kompleatli trommatized.
ther is nuthing gude abowt goen two the vett. it smels funi and ther ar alwais lots of uthr doggs houlin and kryen and karyen on.
Dispight this, i alwais trie two manetayn mi dignetee and keap up a stowick demeenurr.
i doant trusst vetts. thay smiyl at yoo and sai gude girll but then thai stik ther fingrs in yore mowth or upp yore bum. yoo hav too hoap its that wai rownd. thenn thai startt benden yore leggs upp behynd yore bak two sea if thai wurk! on topp of awl that, thai shuv a sharpp needel rite in yore nek and sai "whoooaawww" when yue trie two biet them.
itt is animull krewellty.
Then ewsewali mi mumz hav two pai kwite a lott of muni so thayr inn a badd mude two. i hav kno eydeah why thay do itt.
olso.... twodai thay bott me a fleekolr. I AM KNOTT EVIN A KATT!
sumtyms i dispayr of hewmanns. i reeli do.
The dictionary definition is as follows:
Stuff /stʌf/ Show Spelled[stuhf] noun
Small Dog is due to have her annual booster vaccination and full MOT/health check.
*cue dramatic Dah, Dah DAH music*
It will all start off well enough. Before we leave, she'll jauntily run to fetch her harness and lead, then as soon as she's togged up, she'll pick up the end of her lead in her mouth and run to the door.
Once in the car she'll sit bolt upright on my lap, eagerly looking out the window and enjoying the passing scenery.
As we approach our vet's surgery, she'll become a little restless, and the minute we turn into the approach and down the drive her ears will droop and she'll give me a look similar to the one that Marie Antoinette must have had on the steps of the guillotine.
Once out of the car she'll drag her feet and by the time we're at the door she'll have all four paws planted firmly on the ground so that she nearly backs out of her harness.
In the waiting room, things go from bad to worse and she'll be trembling and shaking so much that all the other waiting pet owners must assume that she's suffering from an advanced case of St. Vitus Dance.
From then on it's downhill on the way. When her name is called, we generally have to carry her into the consulting room as she's lost the power of her legs. On the examination table, she presents a sorry specimen, ears down, tail tucked firmly between her legs, quivering and terror-stricken.
At this point, I fervently hope that the very first thing the vet does is quickly give her the injection. The period from terror to retaliation lasts a very short time, and since PP and I usually have to be at the bitey end, I prefer it if the potentially painful part is done first. However, in order to have the vaccination, she has to be thoroughly checked over to see she's fit to receive it.
This usually involves, checking in her ears, in her mouth, palpating her tummy, flexing her back legs....... you can see where this is going can't you?
Experience has taught us that after her head has been checked, it's best to pop her muzzle on for the remainder of the ordeal. By and large, vets have very quick reflexes, but often not as fast as Small Dog, who seems to believe that she has to fight for her very survival.
I'm sure that being surrounded by three giants, all firmly grasping various body parts then being systematically squeezed, pressed, palpated, flexes, twisted, punctured etc while being assailed by the smell of previous torture victims must be terrifying.
It doesn't help that wearing her muzzle, Small Dog looks like a small, furry Hannibal Lecter.
Without the bashful charm.
By the end of the consultation, all four of us are generally exhausted, hot, sweaty and panting. However, once released, Small Dog instantly reverts to her usual, happy self, and determinedly makes for the door.
I am NOT looking forward to it......
Thursday, 12 July 2012
My lovely vintage-style Toy Shop, which provided the original inspiration for this blog, has been sold and early next month will be making its way to its new home in Amsterdam!
I spent a poignant few hours earlier today carefully removing all the tiny toys, dolls and games, quietly astonished at quite how many I've collected over the past 30 years.
Some will be relocated to my day nursery room box, and I'm sure a few will find their way into my new shop of dolls, La Mignonette. My entire collection of tiny working St. Leger toys will shortly be housed in a display cabinet where I can enjoy looking at them and easily get at them to play with.
But that still leaves a large number of wonderful miniature toys with no proper home. I'm giving serious consideration to offering them for sale, either on our website or by auction on Ebay but I'm going to have to think about it carefully, as many of them are by miniature artisans from years ago, no longer trading and so are irreplaceable. It's a tough decision.....
However, in the meantime I am delighted that my shop is going to be loved and enjoyed by a real doll's house enthusiast, and added to her already impressive collection.
Of course by the time you get round to reading this, there will be even less time, so in the interests of accuracy, if you click on the picture you'll get an up-to-the-second reading.
If you're wondering why I'm indulging in this madness, it's because this morning I was attempting to do some strategic forward planning for the period Sept-Dec, which, of course, includes THAT word.
Each year, we take over 50% of our annual income in the pre-THAT word trading period, so waiting till October before even thinking about it would be financial suicide. If anything, I'm a tad tardy this year.
At least I'm not doing 'THAT word' planning in sub-tropical temperatures with not a cloud in the sky. Our weather of late has had more in common with November than July. Last night we experienced what can only be described as a monsoon. I don't think I've ever seen or heard such heavy rain..... it was literally coming down in sheets. Within a few minutes all of our gutters were inundated, causing a 'wall of water' effect all round the patio.
So, as I've more or less given up on our summer, embracing the festive period seems a perfectly reasonable strategy.
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Two brief examples - our washing machine, which has been limping along for several weeks, finally gave up the ghost on Monday, a day before the arrival of visitors all the way from Scotland. This coincided with a mad dash to clear our guest bedroom of assorted offspring's 'stuff' to make room for our visitors, but inevitably resulted in a mountain of dirty laundry.
Bad timing and then some.
Monday was also the day that my daughter was due leave for her first foreign holiday in 7 years, but which was hanging in the balance after she sustained an insect bite over the weekend, which rapidly developed into cellulitis. Several stints in hospital for IV antibiotics later and she did manage to get away, but it was touch and go right up to departure time.
Some semblance of normality has been achieved this afternoon though, and I've even managed a few hours in the workroom, so I'm feeling somewhat calmer than I did over the weekend.
We've had to bite the financial bullet and order a new washing machine, which will hopefully be delivered by the weekend and will be rigourously put through its paces clearing the laundry mountain.
In other news, the weather remains schizophrenic..... sunshine one minute, horizontal rain the next. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if it started raining frogs......
Friday, 6 July 2012
Just heard on the radio that over 80 flood warnings have been posted across England and we're expecting extremely heavy rain later today and over the weekend.
Ah..... it's just starting now. I can hear the increasingly noisy drumming of rain on the porch roof.
Thursday, 5 July 2012
As any fine work has been out of the question, I made a virtue of necessity and completed then submitted my tax return. In normal circumstances I would have done a few celebratory laps of the garden but instead had to content myself with sitting quietly in the shade, enjoying a warm glow of self-satisfaction.
This morning though, for the first time in over a week, I felt much better and resolved to get back into the workroom, my creative muse having deserted me for the duration of my down time. I can't claim that all of my creative juices were flowing.... it'll take me a day or two to get back into the swing of things, but it was good just to potter.
I'm also gearing myself up for trying to learn a new piece of software. If I'm successful I'm giving serious consideration to buying a new piece of hardware, but I have an unfamiliar lexicon of technological gobbledegook to decipher and get to grips with first.
How likely is that......?
Sunday, 1 July 2012
Continuing the theme of 'Where's our summer?' from previous posts, we thought it would be appropriate to showcase one of the Great British Summer's most celebrated seaside institutions.
So, bang on schedule, this morning we revealed our July Kit of the Month to coincide with a very special birthday.
This year marks the 350th anniversary of one of our best loved and most enduring entertainers......
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Full details are on our website HERE
We have a limited number of kits and will not be repeating this project. In other words, when they're gone, they're gone!
That's the way to do it....!!!