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We’re waiting for Ben and Tess to arrive with Edgar for Jim to take them to the airport to fly out to Vancouver. It’s only for nine months  – or a year – and it will be a fantastic experience for them, but we shall miss them so much, especially Edgar of course. We seem to have just built up such a special relationship with him, and he’s at such   a lovely stage at the moment , happy and outgoing,  he recognises us now, and he’s such a joy.

We had a super  evening with him last night though, he was on great form despite having a bloody nose from having thrown himself off the sofa earlier in the day. He amused us all by his fascination with my earings and the way he kept looking from one side of my head to the other as though he couldn’t believe there was an earing each side -clearly a genius to have spotted that at such an early age!

Thank goodness for Skype, at least we will be able to see him growing and learning to walk – which I’m sure won’t be long  as he’s getting ever steadier on his feet -although it won’t make up for not being able to cuddle him and feel the silkiness of his skin – we will even miss the dribbles! 

Roll on June, when we will visit him.

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Time Flies!

 

 

Wow, what a hectic few weeks  it seems to have been. I had an art exhibition and a craft fair together one weekend, so a lot of time went into preparing for those, plus all the usual things at this time of year. Last week was the TG carol service, and we won a stack of sachets of Dorset Cereals gingerbread porridge to hand out to everyone there, that went down very well as you can imagine. And we’ve had two lots of close friends here for meals this last weekend, which was lovely. But I don’t seem to have got round to adding anything to the blog for a long time.

This week is , at last, looking a bit quieter. Time to relax a little before our “mini Christmas” on Sunday –  as we won’t behaving Jon or Ben here on Christmas Day we thought we’d do something the weekend before to get everyone together .Jon is off to Edinburgh, and Ben is, of course, hoping for a quiet day at home so he and Tess can enjoy their first Christmas as parents. They are popping in on Christmas Eve though.
 

standing and working the noisy bits himself now!

We are trying to make the most of Eggles as they have announced they are off to Vancouver for a nine-month contract in January. We are devastated, of course, at missing out on so much of Edgar’s first years, but we do realise it is very exciting for them all and a great opportunity, so are trying to be positive about it. We will visit them – have already decided on June – but I am dreading the flying.  The thought of having to go to Canada seemed almost as bad as the thought of not seeing them for so long, at first, but Jim has booked me onto a Flying Without Fear course run by Virgin Atlantic, in February, so I am pinning my hopes on that.  It had better work, as my stomach is churning already just at the thought of flying all that way!

 

Eggles is growing fast – he’s now crawling very well and pulling himself up to stand. We had him on Friday morning so Tess could go Christmas shopping, and enjoyed taking him out in his pram. We took him to the Sandpits Park at the end of our road, and he was fascinated by the water in the stream that runs down through the park. We just hope they really will only be gone for nine months as we look forward to taking him to play in  the park when he’s walking.

We’re babysitting again on Wednesday evening, so are making the most of him while he’s here, and enjoying him. He is just so gorgeous!

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The painting I sold

It’s been a long, and busy, day, but the art group exhibition was quite successful. We had more paintings entered than we’ve had in a long time, so we ran out of forms and labels, then we ran out of tables and easels, and spent a frantic half hour before we opened shifting paintings around, trying to make space and get all the framed paintings, at least, on the table easels. Everything was just about ready in time but it was touch and go.

 We had far more visitors than we usually do,  especially visitors who weren’t friends or relatives of the artists, so that at least justified going back to Combe Down, and we sold 7 paintings, again more than we have done at other exhibitions recently.  But apparently despite the crowds the teas and coffees didn’t go as well as usual, and the cards didn’t sell any better than usual. So the Treasurer will have to do some calculating before we know if it was really a great success.

I was quite happy with it from my own point of view, as I sold one  painting, a rose, and quite a few cards.  And Mum came up and won a raffle prize.
But it was an awful lot of effort on the part of a few people really, so there is a lot more than simply finance to take into account.
It was a great pleasure to be back in the hall at Combe Down though. It is really lovely since it’s been done up, very light and bright, clean and fresh, and a perfect place for the exhibition. Just very expensive, unfortunately!

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The Bath Prize

I was pleasantly surprised to find that both my entries for The Bath Prize this year were chosen as finalists. Admittedly, there are a large number of finalists, but fewer than half the entries get through and I hadn’t been very pleased with my efforts this year.  I was allocated Kingsmead Square as the area of Bath I had to produce at least one entry inspired by, and I didn’t actually find it terribly inspiring. A super part of Bath, yes, bustling and popular , but not really the sort of thing I usually paint. I spent some time looking for that one view that would work for me, but in the end decided to take lots of photographs and see if I could do something combining several aspects of the square. I’ve done a couple of pieces in the past made up of a number of small squares , and that was what I had in mind to begin with, but wasn’t really happy with how they all went together, so in the end I picked the three that I was most happy with.  They seemed to go together to represent a slice of life in the Square and I guess someone liked it!

North Parade Bridge from the Parade Gardens

My second picture iss more the sort of thing I usually do. I started it sitting in the Parade Gardens on one of the few lovely days of this summer, and I managed to fill in most of the shapes and get an idea of what the picture was that afternoon.  Then I brought it home and worked on it a couple of times in the next few weeks. I usually take photos for later reference, but the batteries in my camera let me down, although I think that was actually a good thing, as I concentrated on making it work as a picture rather than getting the detail “correct” according to a photograph. I used wax pastels on black paper, a favourite medium. The black  gives the colours some drama and increases the depths of the shadows.  It was quite and enjoyable piece to work on, and I was more pleased with the result than with the Kingsmead Square one.

They’re going to be exhibited with the other finalists in the Octogan, Bath, for a week from October 21st, then  they will be auctioned. I don’t expect them to sell, but am pleased to get them in the exhibition, anyway.

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Silver celebrations

My brother and his wife have been married twenty-five years this week, so have been celebrating their Silver Wedding. An occassion for cards and cake, of course! This is the card I made for them, inspired by some cute birds I have made before  using a leaf shaped paper punch. These are much bigger, based on a circle with a smaller circle  drawn in it, touching one edge.  The smaller circle gives the top line of the bird, with a little curve back up to the bigger circle making the tail, and a beak added.  I thought a couple of punched hearts made very appropriate wings. 

As well as the card I made them a special anniversary cake. I’d always wanted to try out those fabulous photos you can get printed onto icing to put straight on to a cake – available from www.icingpictures.co.uk  – so this was the perfect opportunity. We had a job to find a photo of their wedding – since we moved house  the photo albums are all over the place and that particular one must still be in a box somewhere. But in the end we found one lovely photo in our son’s album of pix he’d taken with his own camera,  I sent a scanned version off and just a few days later a sheet of 12 small circular pictures arrived.  I used one on a rich fruit cake, marzipanned and covered in ready-to-roll icing. I usually decorate this sort of cake with flowers and frills, but felt like doing something differnt, and as Alan is a musician , andIi wanted the photo to stand out well, anyway, I just piped pale blue music notes around the greeting and down the sides. It was fun. The photo was very easy to place on the cake. on damp icing so that they combine. It looked really effective. I used up the other 11 photos on some cupcakes, intended for anyone who didn’t like fruit cake, but I think we all had both in the end! They had a fairly low key celebration in Cornwall, where they’ve just bought a caravan, and we ende up having tea and cake on the beach at Widemouth Bay, in glorious sunshine, then back to the van for Pimms and a buffet in the evening.  A lovely, and memorable, day.

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handbag crazy

My neice is a great one for handbags, so I thought this beautiful patterned paper would make a super handbag for her birthday card, especially as there was another lovely backing paper in the same set to complement it .   I couldn’t resist  adding some adhesive gems on the flowers for a bit of glitz, and I gave the handbag a backing of purple card that gave a slight border to make the handbag stand out. I should have done that with the flap too, but I’d already stuck it down. I don’t think it looks too bad though.

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I love working with patterned papers, and thought this super floral paper was great for a teapot. My original idea was just to have a teapot pouring flowers, but the teapot looked so great I went on to do the cup and saucer as well, which changed the whole card  The flowers had to be tiny but luckily I found some tiny Doodlebug paper flowers in a pot on my desk, and they did the trick. There was a lovely matching paper in the set that  had spots and tiny flowers on, and I used that for the background, and for the tiny punched hearts. All the papers are edged with ink to emphasise the shapes. I wanted the teapot and the cup to stand out, but I need to send this card through the post so instead of foam pads  I used a couple of layers of card on the backs of the shapes to lift them up.

This was a very self-indulgent card, using papers patterns and shapes that I love, and I hope my sister-in-law will like it too when she receives it on her birthday.

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Just finished my first olympic pennant. An organisation called Quilts4london is planning to give a pennant to each of the athletes attending the Olympic Games in London next year – that’s quite a lot of pennants to be made. They give standard measurements and instructions on their website , and as long as they don’t use any of the official logos etc people can decorate the pennants with whatever they like. I chose the flowers of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.  They were used for the Townswomen’s Guilds’ 60th anniversary celebrattions in 1989, and I still have my badge from then to use as inspiration!

I used lining fabric to make my pennant, then cut out felt flower shapes to position on a white felt circle. I fixed them in place with Bondaweb and added some stitched details with embroidery threads . Then I edged the circle with satin binding and fixed it in place with Bondaweb and a few stitches.

Full details for anyone wanting to make a pennant can be found on www.quilts4london.org.uk

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Scotland

We’ve just got back from 10 days touring Scotland and really enjoyed it. The weather was kinder to us than we expected and we visited some lovely fairy-tale scottish castles and gardens like this one  at Crathes. I did a little bit of sketching but not nearly as much as I’d planned. Somehow I relaxed so much I just wanted to wander round and look,  but I certainly came back eager to use some floral inspiration for some cards and drawings in the next few weeks. Our own garden has gone mad while we were away so at least there will be plenty  of things to work from!

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 Inspired by the giant teacups full of plants at Kingston Lacey I made this card for my daughter-in-law’s birthday. I wanted to get the slightly surreal effect of paintings where the angles are all wrong and everything is  very flat. It didn’t quite work out like that but it’s a bit of fun. I was going to use bright colours then I found this old set of papers in pretty pastels that gave a rather gentle, soft effect. I had to edge the papers with ink to firm up the edges because of the soft colours, and I found it was easiest to us a brush pen to edge the flowers as the ink pads were too clumsy, but it was quite a quick and easy card to do and I might do it again using different papers, as it would be suitable for so many occassions.

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