Monday, 30 May 2011

Fun Days Out (Part One)

Cones, Lichens and Feathers by Angie Lewin

The idea behind this blog was to document my beading with the odd reference to everyday life. In recent months it has been more about my life and less about my creative endeavours. In future posts I hope to redress the balance. I have had a lot of upheaval in my life over the last 18 months, mainly a number of health problems. I am now determined to get my life back on track and spend more time on my beading and other crafts.

One of the strategies to get things back on an even keel has been to make sure that we go out and do things. I am not sure what the future holds for me so we are determined to get the most out of life while we can.

Part of this strategy was another day out to London. My Father was born and brought up in London so we used to go there a lot when I was growing up and I have a great affection for it. We currently live about two and a half hours away on the south coast of England, so it is fairly easy to go there for the day. When we arrived at Victoria we walked the short distance through Belgravia to Baker and Spice.

OH ordered a coffee and one of their amazing blueberry muffins.

And I had a hot chocolate.

We also bought a loaf of bread and some chocolate brownies to take home. They make the best brownies I have ever tasted. This one is a 'Cheesecake Brownie'.

Next stop was the Chelsea Physic Garden, another favourite destination. It is a beautiful 17th century walled garden, planted with medicinal plants, right in the heart of London. The recent warm weather, followed by some rain, meant that it was looking absolutely stunning. After we arranged the trip we realised that the Chelsea Flower Show was taking place in the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital, next door, so were expecting it to be really busy. It wasn't so we were able to wander around to our hearts content. There are plenty of benches where you can sit and just take in the views and listen to the bird song.

A garlic bulb sculpture created out of living willow. Part of the garlic plot.

After leaving the Chelsea Physic Garden we walked the short distance to Potterton books to look at a display of watercolours and prints by one of my favourite artists Angie Lewin (see the watercolour 'Cones, Lichens and Feathers' at the beginning of this post). Then we made our way back to Victoria, stopping off yet again at Baker and Spice for some refreshment on the way. By this time my leg was really starting to hurt and I was ready to go home.

Finally, although I am having a short hiatus with my beading, I have been doing a bit of knitting. I generally carry some knitting with me in my bag, usually something small like a hat or a pair of socks. I try to knit a few rows in my lunch break, while waiting for a bus or enjoying a hot chocolate in Starbucks. I have got used to the stares and occasional comments. My latest creation is a pair of Spring Forward socks from the Knitty website. I have really enjoyed knitting them. The pattern is really easy to follow and to memorise. However to my dismay when I finished the first sock and tried it on it was a bit too big. How disappointing! Never mind I can wear them around the house in the winter. (I really don't like wearing slippers and tend to favour thick socks in the winter and bare feet in the summer).

Sadly it looks much better on the sock blocker than on my foot!

Next time I will tell you all about my visit to the 'Knitted Garden' with my OH and two friends. Now, please excuse me - I have a sock to finish.

Monday, 9 May 2011


I have always been interested in the idea of charm bracelets and their symbolism. As the last twelve months have been very difficult I have decided, as part of an effort to be more positive, to start one of my own.

I actually own a gold charm bracelet already. It was left to me by my maternal Grandmother along with her beautiful Art Deco style engagement ring. The bracelet is very heavy and chunky and not really my style. I have only worn it once and that was on my Wedding Day. To be honest I found it very uncomfortable to wear everyday but somehow it seemed the right thing to wear on one of the happiest days of my life. There is so much love associated with that bracelet.

I loved both sets of grandparents but was particularly close to my Mother's parents. When I was three years old my Mother was taken seriously ill. For a few weeks her condition was critical and she nearly didn't survive. During her illness and subsequent long recovery, her parents looked after me and my brother. My poor Father had enough on his plate earning enough money to pay the bills and trying to cope with spending as much time at the hospital as possible. As children we were not allowed to visit her at all in hospital. I was too young to understand what was going on but it must have been very distressing for my brother, who is much older than me.

Throughout it all my Grandparents were there, simply caring for us.

I can remember my Grandmother wearing her charm bracelet and she would tell me the story of each charm and why my Grandfather had bought them for her. When she died she left it to me. It now languishes in a drawer, sadly unworn. But there are so many good memories associated with that piece of jewellery that I don't think that I will ever be able to part with it.

I have come to realise that I will never again enjoy the good health that I took for granted for so many years. I will have good periods and bad ones - hopefully more good than bad. There are two ways that this can go. I can either let the illness dominate my life, and the lives of those closest to me or I can take charge and start to rebuild my life.

Just before Christmas last year a shop opened in the centre of Bournemouth selling Pandora jewellery. I had heard of Pandora but hadn't really seen any pieces close up. The idea is simple, you purchase a bracelet and specially shaped beads or 'charms' to add to it. Each has a particular meaning such as 'I love you' or 'you are my inspiration'. I like the idea of a 21st century version of my Grandmother's charm bracelet. However I have decided that, like her bracelet, the Pandora style is not for me. For one thing there is the cost. If you go to the Pandora website you can design your own bracelet. You choose your bracelet and then the charms. There is a running total of the cost in the corner of the screen. I had reached over £2,000 before I had even half filled the bracelet. Not only can't I afford it but it is just a bit too ostentatious for me. I cannot ever imagine myself wearing a piece of jewellery worth several thousand pounds. Please understand me I admire the quality of the pieces and I like the idea of the bracelet, it is just not me and doesn't fit into my very modest lifestyle. Plus I find the sentiments associated with the charms a bit saccharine for my taste. Just my opinion!

Recently I came across a good quality, silver Pandora 'style' bracelet in a local shop for a fraction of the price. It came with a few beads already on it. Eventually I will make a bracelet base from beads using a stitch like herringbone stitch. Until then I will use this one. My idea is to create charms out of beads to chart my journey through this difficult phase of my life. More will be revealed over the next few months.

Finally, this weekend saw me carrying out cat sitting duties for a friend. As you can see below my two furry charges were completely unimpressed by my efforts to take care of them! I enjoyed it anyway. We don't have any pets of our own at the moment but I grew up with cats and I had forgotten how nice it was to have them around. I find them soothing for the soul.