Saturday, 28 December 2019

Forward planning......


In between eating unconscionable quantities of cheese and Christmas cake, washed down with lashings of Yuleade and gin, I've been doing some gentle planning for the next few months.

I've bought myself a new little notebook for ideas and the like, and am quietly looking forward to getting back to work and putting some of my plans/ideas into practice.

Small Dog opined that I should get one of these....

.... but I brushed off her sarcastic slander.

To be fair, I couldn't get back to work even if I wanted to, as the workroom is currently piled high with all the detritus of the festive season, as well as acting as a de facto laundry room because all of our spare bedrooms have been in constant use for the duration.  I'm itching to get in there and re-establish it as a proper workspace again, which will give me the opportunity to have a bit of a re-organise.  *ahem*

For my new venture I've decided that I really need a new little table to replace the utilitarian and unlovely folding camping table which has been acting as additional workspace since I upcycled my lovely bureau cabinet last summer.  I've been looking out for a second hand table for a while, but nothing suitable has come up.

However I'm really rather taken with this....

There are lots of reasons to love it, apart from the fact it's cheap.  The two drop down sides mean that I can have THREE different sizes of work surface and when it's not in use it has a small, dainty footprint.  It has pretty turned legs and a handy foot rest.  It even has a very useful little drawer (although I'll replace that basic black knob with something much nicer).

It will look much more in keeping with the style of the room and I will then have a dedicated workspace looking out through the front windows.  

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

Friday, 27 December 2019


And so.... like the lingering Ghost of Christmas Past, here we are again the limbo known as Twixmas.  I usually have a mini project squirreled away for this period, but not this year.

Although, strictly speaking, I still have my unfinished Twixmas project from last year, which I could unearth from the bowels of the workroom, if there was even a waffer-thin iota of space on which to work.

So no.

Traditionally it's also the time during which I plan work-related projects for the first half of the coming year, although I'm uncharacteristically ahead of the posse on that one, as I've been planning stuff for ages.

It's also the dawn of a new decade, which sounds as though it should feel sort of encouraging, although if the last few years are anything to go by, we're all still plummeting towards hell in a handcart.

However, impending apocalypse aside, I have put ALL of January aside to work on a very new, NEW project which is not in the slightest related to miniatures, but into which I'm going to put my heart and soul.

However, I have long, established history of doing this...... what could possibly go wrong. 

Friday, 29 November 2019

Christmas Show......!

This weekend marks the year's final major doll's house and miniature fair here in the UK.... the Kensington Dollshouse Festival Christmas Show.  We exhibited at this lovely fair for several years and always had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

So, to coincide with this seasonal show, this weekend there will be dozens of discounts (up to 50%!)  scattered across the website, from Friday till Sunday.  

In addition, newsletter subscribers will also receive a discount code, offering a further 10% discount on any order of £25 or over (excluding P&P).  If you're not already subscribed to our Tower House Doll newsletter, you can sign up HERE

Perfect timing to beat the impending last posting dates if you fancy a spot of 'self-gifting' 😉

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Christmas is coming......

While waiting for the glue to dry on a some projects today, I idled away a few minutes completing an online survey.
For some reason, I can't imagine why (!) I seem to get quite a lot of questionnaires about dogs.  Predictably, Small Dog seems to have a second sense about these, and usually emerges from one of her many naps, to offer her insight.

Scene: In the office with a spare five minutes, I'm sitting at my laptop embarking on a survey.  A few moments in, Small Dog yawns, stretches, then ambles over to see what I'm doing.

SD:*perkily* Ahhh..... a survai abowt dogs.  Ecksillent!
Me:*distractedly* Oh, hello SD.  Didn't notice you there.  Thought you were have a nap.... as usual.
SD:*haughtily* Doant be sarkastick. Yue kno yue olwais knead mai advys abowt survais.  Espeshullie when thair abowt ME.
Me:*resignedly* Hmm.... well, OK.  Come and sit on my lap if you must.
SD:*makes herself comfortable and peers at the screen* Rite.  Whotts furst? O gude.... itts abowt Krissmuss.

SD:*aghast* Onlie phiftean pownds!  Luke... thers an opshun fore £151+ !!!
Me:*undeterred* That's ridiculous SD.  As well you know.

SD:*mollified* Hmm....Ai shude thinck so two.

SD:*aggrievedly* Ai wil nevur fourgiv yue fore thatt.....

SD: *doggedly* Ai dident mined the Krissmuss jumpr too mutsch.... butt the elph and santa hatts wer ridickewluss.
Me:*challengingly* It could have been worse... there's a turkey outfit on that list!

SD:*regally* Wel yess off korse.  Ai doant jusst poot mai naim to evrithing.

Me:*swiftly* Right, before you start, sneakily jumping up onto an empty chair does not constitute you joining us at the table for Christmas dinner.
SD:*defensively* Ai doant kno whott yue meen.....

SD:*triumphantly* YESSSSS!!!!!  The besst bitt off the dai!  Ai liek oapening mai own presints the besst but ai do liek to plai with oll the rappen paypur and tare itt into tienie peeses!
Me:*resignedly*  Yes SD.  You most certainly do.


Sunday, 17 November 2019

Jiminy Cricket....

If you're anything like me, you will have an inner voice forever upbraiding you about your lack of application, your tendency to procrastination and your abject failure to stick to anything remotely resembling a sensible schedule.

Sometimes my personal Jiminy Cricket is A Good Thing... taking me to task for faffing and filibustering and generally giving me a not so gentle push to Just. Get. On. With. It.
Other times I rail against the daily grind and deliberately frustrate my own best intentions.

After a week of saintly diligence, systematically dealing with orders for my Christmas Toy Doll Trunk Kits (just TWO remaining.... HERE!!!),  answering queries, packaging boxes and practically taking up residence in the Post Office, I reached Friday feeling rather pleased with myself.  

Of course, that simply couldn't last.... could it.

Scene: Saturday morning, in the workroom, clearing up after the chaos of the previous days. Almost immediately after I've rendered the room relatively tidy, I decide that I must find my camera tripod and special stand, which I need for this week, and which I haven't laid eyes on for months.... since the last workroom makeover in the summer.

Jiminy:*questioningly* What ARE you doing?  You've only just finished tidying up, and now you're going to turf out all the cupboards!!!
Me:*defensively* Yes.  I can't find my tripod and stand.  They must be in here somewhere.
J:*flippantly* Well you should remember where you put stuff.  You only have 6 cupboards so surely the application of logic should help you in your quest.
Me:*mumbling dark expletives from the depths of a cupboard*  That's all very well for YOU to say. If I knew where they were I wouldn't have to search for them, would I?
J:*sagely* Tidy room, tidy mind. 
Me:*wildly* Oh bugger this!!!  Where are they... they can't just have disappeared......

Sunday morning... in the workroom, peace reigns.
Jiminy: *brightly* Oh you found them then.
Me:*sullenly* Yes.  In the back of that horrible cupboard there.
J:*placatingly* Well done.  I expect you've been setting them up and working out what you're going to do next.
J:*encouragingly* You know.... that deadline you've been banging on about.
Me:*simmering dangerously*
J:*coughing nervously* Yes.... well. I'm sure it will all be fine.  Lots of time yet.
Looks around for something diversionary.
J:*peering into cupboard* Gosh darn it.... that cupboard is SOOOOO tidy!
Me:*self-congratulatory* Ah, well, while I was looking for the camera stuff, I spent some time sorting through the basket of gripseal bags..... *tailing off* it was a real mess. *ploughing on* I've put them all in order of size and have labelled each bag.  I'll be able to find the exact right size I need, in seconds.
J:*appraisingly* So I see.  
Me:*quietly* And I've organised my bubble wrap.
J:*blankly* Bubble wrap.  You've 'organised' it.  
J:*sighing* Well... yes.  That's errm.  Good.  That's good.  Can't abide messy bubble wrap.  Job well done I'm sure.
Me:*tentatively* It was dreadful.  Just all balled up and crammed in.  It's nice and neatly folded now.  Flat.  Stores easily. *shuffling feet*
J:*rolling eyes* Fine.  Good.  So workroom is tidy *tick*  Gripseal bags in order of size and labelled *tick* Bubble wrap organised *tick*  Camera accessories found *big tick*
So.... there's nothing to stop you getting stuck in tomorrow then.... is there?
Me:*meekly* No.  Nothing at all.  I'll get right on it.  First thing.

Jiminy disappears in a puff of sceptical smoke.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Christmas Special Workshop Pack

I've been working on a bumper special Christmas workshop pack, for which I've pulled out all the stops!

It is available to purchase from this Friday 8th November, in a very limited quantity.

So what is it....?

A wooden trunk...  decorated inside and out
with vintage illustrations

It opens to reveal......

.... a winter toy doll, plus lots of accessories

A total of 10 different elements

Choose between Holly or Noelle.... two winter themed toy dolls

Bejewelled marotte toy
Vintage litho-style Christmas tree, tiny wee bears, set of 3 festive nursery blocks
rocking horse toy, fully illustrated book.

Set of three vintage litho-style rocking toys

Set of boxed paper animals with removable costumes

Set of boxed paper cat doll and costumes
Set of 8 assorted vintage dressing up masks

Choose whether you want Holly.... dressed in red silk with white 'fur' trim and holly-sprigged hat..... or Noelle, dressed in white silk with 'fur' trim, 'snowball' buttons and holly-sprigged hat.

All the kits shown are included, as well as illustrated step-by-step instructions for each element of the workshop pack.

The cost of the complete workshop pack is £50 (plus shipping) and the two toy dolls are available separately as individual kits or as a pair at a discount.

The listing is now live..... HERE!

As always, if you need any further information, please use the contact form to get in touch.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Coming soon.....

I've been working flat out for the past week,  putting together all the elements for a bumper Christmas-themed home workshop pack.  It's scheduled to go live on the website on Friday, and will coincide with a Tower House Dolls newsletter giving the heads up.

I'm really pleased with it... full details will be in a blog post on Friday so keep checking back.

Or better still, sign up for our newsletter HERE

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Interesting times......

Another blogging hiatus... due to events outside my control.

Aren't they all? *sigh* no particular order.

  • STILL working on the office makeover due to other stuff happening
  • Dental abscess. Ow, Ow and OWWWW!
  • Website woes
The office makeover is ongoing..... the main thing is that it has been re-established as a working space and it's only the whimsical stuff still to do, which can wait.
Following an emergency dental appointment and a course of antibiotics the dental pain has resolved... but it did take a few days out of my already busy schedule.

However the website problem has had us tearing our hair out.  Out of the blue earlier this week I noticed that there were some odd characters in the text across the site which hadn't been there the day before.  Apparently, our hosting service had updated the PHP on their servers, which caused the issue, and although it doesn't affect the functionality of the site, and everything still works, it looks unsightly and odd.

Trying to edit out the characters only made matters worse, because as soon as I tried to edit a listing, the entire text would disappear... permanently.  Cutting and pasting wouldn't work either.  We've spent the past 3 days trying to work out what to do, and the answer seems to be, not much.

Ideally we need to do a full rebuild of the website then install eleventy billion updates, each of which would almost certainly throw up glitches which have to be individually tracked down and fixed.   

An extremely time consuming and frustrating process.

However, our hosting package only runs through till next April, and I wasn't planning to renew it as I'm aiming to start a new venture in the spring.

I've finally managed to work out how to add new listings without them disappearing into the ether, so over this coming weekend I'll be listing the last of the special miniatures from my own collection, as well as my final Christmas-themed kit, to which I'm still putting the finishing touches.

Although the website issue is a real pain in the fundament, I'm taking it as a sign that it's run its course, and my decision to retire it next April is the right one.  It also gives extra impetus to my plans, as there's nothing like a proper, irrevocable, immovable deadline to galvanise me into action.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Comedy of errors.....

Today started out well enough.  

We had to take Small Dog to the groomers, as, although she definitely rocks the Fu Manchu look, she was beginning to look more like an ancient dreadlocked hermit.

On our return, with SD neatly trimmed and smelling like a summer flower, we set about trying to fit the new carpet in the office.

It was never going to go smoothly.

First, we cleared a space in the sitting room in a manner not dissimilar to those games with a grid of little tiles that you move around inside a frame, trying to complete a picture.
Then we dragged the roll of carpet through and tried to lay it out flat.


While we were working out our next move, we tried to lift the old carpet, which had welded itself to the floor, especially where both our office chairs had been rolling over it for the past however many years.  We finally had to resort to chipping it up with a knife. leaving piles of black/grey dust, where the gel backing had degraded and disintegrated.  

While we were both rolling up the old carpet on the floor, Small Dog got the devil in her (possibly as retribution for her grooming session this morning) and despite our cries of "NO... DON'T COME IN HERE"!!!! she blithely hopped over the carpet, dodged round both of us trying to catch her, then ran around in all the dust, before hot-pawing it out, straight into the sitting room where she jumped up on the sofa, complete with black-dusted paws.

As we could only cope with one crisis at a time, and were already on our knees and keen to avoid the 10 minutes of moaning and groaning that accompany standing up, we carried on rolling up the carpet, both of us starting to look like chimney sweeps, then taped it into a massive black refuse bag, acknowledging that it was too far gone to use as a template, even if we had the room to spread it out in the sitting room.  

Which we didn't.

So, after we'd vacuumed ourselves, the floors and the sofa, we decided there was nothing else to do but try to cut the carpet to size, in situ.

Obviously, we don't have proper carpet fitters tools, so we raided the tool cupboard and made do with a wallpaper scraper, a bit of wood and a hammer, as well as various other household utensils.

Three hours later, having broken a screwdriver, ruined a perfectly good pair of scissors and rendered the air bright blue, we finally finished, and I have to admit, it's not a bad job, despite all the drama.

It's only 4pm but we've thrown in the towel and poured two LARGE G+Ts, which aren't even touching the sides.  

Tomorrow....*sigh*....... relocating the desks and computers etc, and I'll be giving the bookshelves a (hopefully) final coat of paint.  It feels as through the house will never be tidy again, but I'm on the home straight and determined that by end of the weekend the ground floor will once again be habitable.

I know I've said this many times before.... but..... what could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, 10 October 2019


Office makeover - Day 4

I am never, ABSOLUTELY NEVER, doing an office makeover.... ever again!

Not only is the entire ground floor awash with office stuff, and we can't find a damn thing, I'm also teetering on the edge of complete and utter exhaustion.  I suspect I was a tad deluded over-optimistic about my energy levels/competence/enthusiasm for the project, especially given events of the past few months.  I'm a firm believer in 'doing good stuff is positive' but all I'm positive about at the moment is that when it's done I want to sleep for several days.

Granted, progress has been made.  Over the past four days the office has been emptied, cleaned and the feature wall papered.  The bookshelves (which are an absolute pain in the derriere to paint) have had two coats of paint and are currently drying on the dining room table.  I'm dead beat now, so if they need another coat it will have to be done tomorrow.

Also, tomorrow we're planning to fit the new carpet, which will probably take 3-4 hours and no end of cussing.  We need to find a big enough space somewhere in the house to lay out the new piece, so that we can use the old carpet as a template to mark out the cutting lines.... which means moving even more stuff *sigh*.

Then, over the weekend we can begin the process of relocating the desks, bookshelves, filing cabinet and all the office stuff.

After which I can take my time to make the finishing touches.... well, yes, alright..... the bunting.  Plus I have to make SD's cosy nook, recover the pin boards and add some quirky elements and accessories.

I'm sure it will look lovely when it's finished, but right now I wish I'd never started......

Monday, 7 October 2019

The thick of it.....

Office makeover.... Day 1

For such a relatively small room, the office contains a LOT of stuff.  Aside from two desks, a filing cabinet, 2 sets of bookshelves, 2 office chair and Small Dog's bed, there is all the paraphernalia which running a small business requires..... 2 computers, printer, router, phone, assorted software and books, printer paper and card, envelopes, labels, specialist papers.... plus pens, pencils, marker pens, staplers, postal supplies, notebooks, storage boxes etc etc etc.
It's been a mammoth task getting everything out, in preparation for cleaning and jooshjing.

Predictably, it didn't go entirely smoothly.

My corner desk, which was assembled in situ, wouldn't go through the door no matter which way we turned it, or how much we swore.  In the end we had to take the top section off, and were then able to manhandle it out of the office and into the sitting room, where it will be a temporary home for PP's computer. 

Removing it revealed a quantity of dust, webs and spider husks.... presumably any live specimens quickly abandoned their lairs when we started the operation.  

Small Dog is not a fan of the vacuum cleaner, so she looked a bit disgruntled when I dragged it through to deal with all the debris, and burrowed down under her duvet while I dealt with years of hitherto inaccessible dirt and dust.  When I then started washing down the skirting boards she still stuck to her guns and refused to move, giving me a hard stare when I tried to move her out of the way.  However by that time I was ready for a break so she was granted a reprieve.

So far so good..... tomorrow we will move PP's computer and dismantle her desk.  Then I can finish the cleaning and assess my next move.... *sigh*

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Solace in action.....

The past two months have been a trial, with every emotion possible, sometimes all in the one day.

In order to avoid sinking into a deep slough of despond, especially as this is my least favourite time of year, even in normal times, I'm trying to keep busy and find things to do which might cheer me up, and if they improve our lives in the process, so much the better.

I know I really should be concentrating on other stuff, but this coming week I shall be attempting a makeover in the office, which has become unbearably scruffy and rough round the edges, as well as looking incredibly boring and a place of zero motivation.

PP and SD spend a lot of time in there, involved in various pursuits, although SD's mostly involve napping.  It's a small room, just 2.6m x 2.0 metres, with the advantage of a large bay window.  It's already painted white, and I don't intend to repaint it, but we will be replacing the flooring, which is tatty and threadbare, and I'll be jooshjing up the room with one wallpapered feature wall and assorted quirky touches, some of which still exist either in my head or as ideas on a Pinterest board.

I've started to pack stuff away.... I've cleared the two bookshelves (which will be painted) and thrown out loads of junk which has accumulated on them over time.  My relatively small desk will be relocated into the sitting room for the duration, for PP's computer.  My laptop will take up temporary residence on a table in the workroom and PP's large office desk will be dismantled and stored in the dining room, which currently looks like a huge stationery repository , as ALL the stuff from the bookshelves is on the dining table.

When the room is cleared I will clean like a mad woman, then paper the wall and we will fit the new flooring, using the old carpet as a template.  The bookshelves will be painted.... they're currently bare wood.
I'm going to create a cosy nook for SD and I'll make her a new dog bed, as she currently resides on an old duvet in a cut down flannel duvet cover.

I'm also going to upcycle our tatty old pinboard, and create wall space for photos and prints.

At this point in my planning musings, SD perks up, having heard about her new dog bed.....

SD:*keenly* A nue bedd?!  Fore me?!!!  In a kosie knook?
Me:*proudly* Yes SD.  All lovely and fresh.
SD:*warming to her theme*  And whoot els?  
Me:*blithely* Well.... new carpet, quirky wallpaper, new pictures, and, of course....
SD:*interrupting* kno whott yure goen to sai.
Me:*innocently* Yes?
SD*accusingly* Yure goen to maik bunten.... arnt yue?
Me:*guiltily* Well... yes.  I will make some quirky bunting.
SD:*triumphantly*  AI KNUE ITT!
Me:*defensively* What's wrong with bunting????  I love making it, it cheers my soul, and by dog my soul needs cheering.  It will look lovely.
SD:*suspiciously* Aim knott haven bunten in mai kosie knook am ai?
Me:*evasively* Possibly.......  I've not decided yet.  But if I do it will be absolutely lovely and totally in keeping with the ambiance of your sleeping arrangements.
SD:*scathingly* Ai have kno ideer whott 'ambeeyons' are, butt ai doant thinck ai wont them.
Me:*cajolingly* Oh SD.... come on.  You will love it.  Promise.  No other dog in the land will have such an amazing sleeping nook.... fit for a Proud and Noble Yorkshier Terrior.
SD:*mollified* Hmmm.... wel oakai.  Ai supoas itt will be fyne.  *thoughtfully*  Prowd and Knowbell.... yess thatts me to a tea.

To be continued......

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

In memoriam.....

This time last week we were in Cornwall for my brother's funeral.  After a week of brilliant sunshine and unseasonably high temperatures across the south, our time in Cornwall was characterised by grey skies, epic rainfall and impenetrable fog, especially around Bodmin, on the edge of the moor.... which felt entirely appropriate and in tune with the purpose of our trip.

It was an emotional end to a harrowing six weeks.  

I took an album of photographs of Tom when we were growing up... all those 'bucket and spade'  seaside holidays, learning to swim in the sea, birthdays, Christmas... high days and holidays, when photos were taken sparingly and took weeks to be developed. 

My flowers were a mixture of thistles, heather and white roses, echoing the Scottish theme which ran throughout the day.

The funeral service was personal and moving and I was pleased to be able to contribute my own memories of his childhood and teenage years... adding to the stories from his later life. 
There was his favourite music, relevant readings, and the views out over the valley were stunning.  Afterwards, the wake was held at his favourite pub, where tales were told, tears were cried, and laughter lifted our sad spirits.  

He would have enjoyed it.

A very sad day, but one which affirmed his place in many hearts.

Sleep tight Tom.....

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

A difficult post......

This has been a very difficult piece to write, over the course of several weeks. It’s also a difficult read and I’ve vacillated on whether or not to post it.
But, on balance, the issues at the heart of it are very important and I feel strongly that people should be aware of them.

Tempus fugit
Time is relative
Time’s up….

Wednesday 26th August

When the phone rang early this morning, time seemed to simultaneously slow and speed up.

3 hours…. The clock is ticking.

12 days ago, my sister-in-law contacted me to let me know that my brother had been admitted to hospital following a fall at home. Early indications that he had fractured his skull and had an intracerebral haemorrhage were confirmed, and he underwent emergency surgery to relieve the resulting pressure in his brain.

Hope the operation is a success.
Hope he regains consciousness
Hope the damage won’t be too bad
Hope he’ll make a good recovery.

Following surgery, he is semi-conscious, and signs are cautiously optimistic.

Then they’re not. 

More surgery and an induced coma, to give the brain time to recover.
Time passes.  Scans, then more scans.  There is damage but the extent won’t be fully known until he wakes up.
During the attempt to bring him round from the induced coma, he has an epileptic seizure and must be fully sedated again.

Hope they can control the seizures
Hope the seizures haven’t caused more damage
Hope they can stabilise him.

Critical but stable.  It doesn’t feel as though those words belong in the same sentence.

Hours are spent, hovering by the phone, waiting for news, trying to comfort and gain comfort.  My sister-in-law is exhausted… the combined effects of overwhelming distress, worry, many hours spent travelling to and from the hospital and the high stress experience of intensive care …. ICU is not a relaxing environment… but she still finds time to update me daily, as we try to make sense of what’s happening.

The fight for life enlists the aid of a battery of cutting-edge technology.  Each problem which arises is carefully assessed, treated and monitored.

Days pass.  Hope fades.

He is no longer in a medically induced coma, but is deeply unconscious and on a ventilator.

For the first time I hear the word ‘catastrophic’.  The brain damage is widespread and irreversible.  He can breathe a little but requires support from the ventilator.  His heart is beating, his body is quietly going about its business, more or less as usual, but the prognosis is devastating.  He will not recover.

Brain stem death is confirmed.

Then, suddenly, things begin to move at a different pace.  He is on the Organ Donation Register. No longer concentrating on treating for recovery, but on organ optimisation. 
He is now on the ‘organ donation pathway’.  It takes time to process this new information.  They will maintain life support while blood and tissue samples are taken and the organ donation team swing into action.
I am no longer in contact with the ICU nursing staff but receive direct updates from the Regional Specialist Nurses in Organ Donation team, (or SNODs)  who are endlessly patient, answering my barrage of questions, and gently comforting, when emotion overwhelms me.

Good news….they have found matches for both kidneys, liver and lungs!

As soon as the specialist surgical teams are in place, they will remove his breathing tube and wait.

3 hours.

In the UK, that’s the protocol, during which time, in order for surgery to go ahead, he must die.  If he doesn’t, the whole surgical team, and the selected organ recipients, will stand down.

7.50 am. The ‘process’ to which the SNODs have been referring for the past two days finally begins and they’ve removed the breathing tube. 

Hope it’s quick.
Hope he doesn’t suffer any distress.
Hope it happens within that crucial 3-hour window.
Hope the phone rings soon.

In hospitals and homes elsewhere, there are four other people plus their families and friends, also waiting, also hoping, but for a different outcome.

Whilst the kidneys and liver will be viable for some time after removal, the lungs are time critical.  I’ve been told that they would be ‘blue-lighted’ to the recipient’s hospital.  Presumably a person in urgent need of lungs is already very poorly, and lungs are rarely available.

9.30am.  Still waiting, but hope is fading.

The one potentially positive thing to come out of this awful situation is beginning to look very remote.
Time slows, and still we wait.

Too late now.  The 3-hour deadline has passed but he hasn’t.  It’s impossible not to feel conflicted…. all the planning, time and effort by so many people.  The meticulous matching and cross-matching, clearing theatre time, assembling surgical teams, organising organ transportation… a logistical triumph, all for nothing.

No longer a potential donor and hope, across the board, is gone. 

He is now on the ‘end of life care pathway’.

Hope he doesn’t suffer.
Hope he’s not aware of what’s happening.
Hope his passing is easy.


Still waiting.

End of life care… not palliative care.  There is a significant difference.
The slide towards death is mercifully technology free.  The person emerges once more, freed from the maze of machines, probes, tubes and wires and the continual clamour of alarms.
He is moved out of ICU and into a private bay, elsewhere in the hospital.
Fluids and nutrition are withdrawn and replaced by the administration of a carefully  calculated cocktail of drugs, intended to reduce potential distress and relieve pain, until, eventually, gradually, a cascade of organ failure overwhelms the body and he slips away.

The sad fact is, that many families, perhaps even yours, will go through a similar experience.  At a time of profound shock, loss and impending grief, there are potentially the added challenges of preparations for organ donation with their attendant stresses, deadlines and protocols.

Obviously, being on the organ donation register is A Good Thing.  There are nowhere near enough donors and often, even those who are willing and suitable, like my brother, don’t succeed.  In fact, there is only a very small chance that your organs would ever be used, as the conditions necessary are relatively rare.

This is why organ recipients face disappointment time and time again, while waiting on the organ transplant list.

It is a widespread fallacy that people who die in road traffic accidents… such as motorcyclists, are the primary source of donated organs for transplantation.  If you die outside hospital, your organs will not be used for transplantation.  Even if you die in A&E your organs will not be used although body parts/tissues such as eyes, heart valves, bone, skin, veins and tendons can be harvested post mortem. 
To be an organ transplant donor, you must die in an ICU and have been ventilated and/or on life support.  ‘Ideally’ you will have had a head injury resulting in Brain Stem Death.  Donation following Brain Stem Death represents the main source of organs for transplant in the UK.

Even if you are not on the Organ Donation Register, if you meet the above criteria, your next of kin will be approached, carefully and sympathetically, and asked to consider organ donation.

Death and dying are not comfortable topics of discussion, especially with those closest to us, but if there is anything which this incredibly sad experience has taught me, it’s that waiting until it’s too late is A Bad Thing. 

My brother and sister-in-law did discuss organ donation and end of life choices so she was able to make sure his wishes were known, and be the very best advocate for him, during his final days.  It’s the bravest, the best, and the most incredibly difficult thing anyone can ever do for a loved one.

So if you, or a family member are on the organ donation register, and even if you’re not, I think it’s really, REALLY important to talk to each other and think about what you want and perhaps more importantly, what you don’t want, in your end of life care plan.

Accidents can happen to anyone.  Anywhere. Any time.
Don’t wait until the worst thing happens.  
Get information, ask questions, make informed choices.


 This is a good place to start

For detailed information on the organ donation process in England, this document is excellent.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Love triangles......

So.... Yayyyy!  The fabrics arrived for my workroom bunting the other day, so I've been sewing up a storm and the pile of beautifully lined triangular flags has been growing steadily.

There are enough on that little table to make up 4 strings of gorgeous bunting to go all round the walls.

HOwever, I still seem to have quite a lot left over.....

Sadly I've run out of the cotton lining fabric so I can't finish them all off yet.
I'll use the spare ones to do something quirky in the room.... not quite sure what yet but I am sure inspiration will strike at some point.

Buoyed by my success on the bunting front, I'm also determined to finish off the lovely cabinet.  It still needs a knob fitted to the drop down desk flap, plus I want to stencil on the inside of the flap, to frame the area where the leather writing pad was, which I'll also paint in a different colour.

I'm still working on the organisation of the cabinet itself, which needs to be a bit more user friendly.  I find myself surrounded by boxes of stuff from the drawers in the base, which are tricky to access when the desk is open.  Although I have two folding tables which really come into their own while I'm working... the smaller one as an 'ironing table', and the larger one for stuff which needs more working space than the desk flap.

I also need to properly organise the cubby holes and small drawers inside the desk, as they're currently in chaos.  I've re-purposed some empty coffee containers to act as storage for tools but it's all the small bits, which I use all the time, and which I need to have to hand, which are proving more difficult to keep in order.

I've fitted a length of LED strip lighting inside the desk, to better illuminate the working surface, but I need to fit a power socket with integral USB points on the side of the cabinet, so that I can run the lighting, mini iron etc.  

I'm also considering fixing some lightweight storage pockets inside the cabinet doors on one side, and a lightweight pin board/whiteboard on the other.

Things are slowly evolving as I get used to working in a radically different room layout and I'm gradually working out the best place to store things for maximum findability.  It's still a work in progress but at least progress IS being made! 

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Bunting and beyond..........

Busy, busy, busy week, making up and packaging orders from the Mini Miniature Show last weekend.  The last batch went out yesterday and are now winging their way to destinations worldwide.  Thank you to everyone who visited our page during the show!

So..... what now?

Well, I have a To Do list that's currently running to several pages so I will need to multitask like a demon to try to make inroads into it.

However, I still haven't quite finished organising the workroom, since my work cabinet makeover and I've also decided that the room needs more bunting.

Of course it does.

I'm of the firm opinion that almost any room can improved with bunting, because bunting rocks.

And making bunting is one of my very favourite things.

Up till now I've had one string of bunting over the windows.  I bought it years ago during the first workroom makeover and it's not really up to my, now, extremely exacting bunting standards.  The flags are just too small and they're spaced really widely apart so it looks a bit sparse.

Nothing worse than sparse bunting.

So I've taken it down (leaving the windows wall looking VERY bare, despite the sparseness of the bunting which had been there!) and am working on making new, bigger, un-sparse bunting, which I'm hoping will go round two of the walls.

I've ordered some fat quarters of fabrics in various colours, and I've even gone to the length of designing four different fabrics, based on the colours I've used on the cabinet, which I'll have printed onto cotton calico.

This is going to be 'next level' bunting, the likes of which has ne'er been seen....  bunting par excellence,  the crème de la crème of bunting, the epitome of bunting......

It is while I am extolling the virtues of bunting, that I sense a small furry presence behind me.....

Small Dog: *incredulously*  MUUUUUURRRRMMMM!  Stopp with the bunten olreddie!
Me: * resolutely* No SD.  I will not stop.  I am a woman on a bunting-making mission and I will not be denied.
SD: *eye-rollingly* Yue ar beein redikewluss.  Hav yue kno sens of pryoritties?
Me: *airily* Oh yes.  I absolutely DO have a sense of priorities.  I am prioritising designing and making bunting.  It is my raison d'être.  I make bunting, therefore I am....
SD: *dismissively* Bollox.  Fillosofikle clapptrapp.  Yue ar maken bunten as displaismint acktivitie.  The wurkroom is a kompleat mess, yue hav lodes of stuf to doo, and yure waisten tym maken bunten.  Admitt itt!
Me: *craftily* You may think that SD.... but it is a well known fact that working in a beautiful environment increases productivity by a factor of 47%.  My bunting is a motivational tool.
SD: *sceptically*  Humph..... yule be tellen me neckst thatt its tacks deeduktible.
Me: *appraisingly*  You might just be onto something there SD.  I'm fairly sure that bunting making materials might be an allowable business expense.
SD: *resignedly*  Ai dispare.... *sie*