X is for … X-Rated! #A-ZPhotoChallenge #AnimalTales 01/03/2016

Okay….promise me that you won’t zoom in on this photo of a squirrel…..and his nuts!!


I SWEAR I had no idea until I got home and looked at the photo on the computer screen – honest!

I was actually disappointed with the quality of the photos I’d taken on my phone – every one was fuzzy, but there’s still…..erm…..a lot of detail on some of them!

This was one of my morning walks. It was a lovely one; late enough to miss the school kids and the dog walkers, so I wasn’t tempted to stop and natter, but I was absolutely amazed at the number of squirrels who were out and playing in the winter sunshine – so I stopped walking anyhow!

Usually I see the odd one or two squirrels, but there were masses of them, in very high spirits from the warmth I think. They were darting up and down the trees, jumping over the river and running in and out of the gardens which adjoin this wooded area. It was a lovely sight.

I did get one more reasonable-ish photo….


I showed this one (thankfully not the other one!) to my nephew, Euan, who is three, and asked him what it was. His answer? A rabbit….




W is for … White Stuff #A-ZPhotoChallenge


Don’t reallyIMG_0080 need many words to explain this one, but since when has that stopped me?!

It is a lovely idea from White Stuff – they want YOU to help them raise £16K for their local shop charities by creating your own unique patch – see the photographed leaflet for details.

You can pick up your patch from your local shop and then return it, decorated, to the shop by 10th March. Your local shop will be having a tea, cake and judging event which sounds right up my street!

The winner from each shop will receive a £50 White Stuff voucher and go forward for a chance to win a crafting holiday in Italy.

BUT, the best thing is that for every patch entered White Stuff will donate £5 to your local shop’s charity AND all of the patches will become part of a cushion or quilt that will be sent to your shop’s charity. Now, that really is a win/win situation!

If you’d like to see more details, or for some inspiration, check out whitestuff.com/areyouthready or pop into your store. If you can’t get into your local store to drop off your completed patch, you can submit it by post, so don’t let that stop you!

If you’re going to take part in this great challenge, I’d love to see what you come up with! #WSAreYouThready









Not sure?

Here’s a photo of the kit you can buy from White Stuff to get you inspired!  Go on, challenge yourself and raise money for charity too!


T is for …. Tulips

Why I didn’t just call this blog “and then it all went wrong” instead dodging the true facts with A Good Day To Dye (NOT!) I don’t know. It must have been obvious from that title that things weren’t going to go my way, and then most of my blog posts do contain a confession that things haven’t gone to plan….and here’s another of those posts!!!!

Pinterest, I have to say, seems to set me up for a fall every time. The people who do craftiness on there must be perfect and I’m not. By putting the bar so high I’m bound to jump and just slide on under it I think!

So, this time I saw an idea for growing tulips in glasses with just glass beads (or treasure as Holly used to call it when she was little) for the roots to grow around rather than growing them in soil. On the Pinterest photo they looked amazing and, as my sister’s a big fan of yellow tulips and has a young son who is eager to learn things, I thought I’d give it a go…..

The “and then it all went wrong” starts right now!!! I was completely in the wrong season to buy tulips, I couldn’t find any tall, narrow necked glasses or any glass nuggets/beads. You’d have thought I’d give up then wouldn’t you? But no. I went down to mum’s and asked if she had my old marble collection (just to prove I hadn’t lose ALL of my marbles), picked up some plastic beads, found a narrow necked vase in a charity shop…. and then enlisted my husband’s help for the rest. We picked up some glasses from the supermarket which, in all honesty, weren’t tall enough. Kev then convinced me to buy…..tulips that were already growing in soil and extract them….. Yes. You can stop cringing now. And I’d skip viewing the next photo altogether if I were you….


Um, yeah…. I really did un-pot them, split them and…..wash off all the roots :/ Are you ready to contact the RSPT yet?

IMG_2649As a result, they didn’t look tooooooo bad. Of course the marbles and plastic beads wouldn’t mix together as they were different weights which made me even more ratty (oh, didn’t I admit I was very grumpy by this stage yet?!). The one in the vase, which I’d already earmarked for my sister, really did look much better than those in the too short long glasses (if you see what I mean).

Once I was convinced it wasn’t going to shrivel up and die with the shock of it’s “robust” treatment, I turned up on my sister’s doorstep and thrust it into her waiting hands with a “here this is for you, sorry it’s gone wrong”. My poor family…..

Fortunately the rest of the tulips thrived and moved into the front room and onto the top of the new fireplace. Only one, to be honest, has been completely successful, and it isn’t really as yellow as I had been led to believe it would be but, from disaster, comes tulip. Will I try again? Not sure. Has anything positive come from this experience? Yes, I realise I am probably too honest for my own good!


S is for …. Silly Solar Sheep

I wonder if S has ever stood for Silly Solar Sheep before?

Needless to say, it didn’t go entirely to plan, but I had originally seen two of these ideas on Pinterest and decided to combine them to make a friend smile. It’s not as great as it could be, but was done in a hurry as the need to make her smile was bigger than the need to make it perfect.

I went into our brilliant local wool shop, The Wool Stack, where poor Austin was in charge while his wife Sara was at lunch. “Austin, I need some wool to knit some grass and make some sheep please”. Fortunately he knows me and is used to requests like this and I left mere minutes later with the items I needed – in fact more than I needed as he’d found me some gorgeous sheep buttons with wobbly legs in white (for good days) and black (for baaaaad days!). The local toy shop supplied me with some glow in the dark paint so all that was left for me to do was to throw it together and unsuccessfully take photos of the glowing in the dark bit. Hopefully you’ll get the general idea though…


Q is for …. Qué?!

Our trip to Tenerife did leave us with a few questions, so where better to air them than in our photographical alphamabetical theatre?

It started by me noticing a shop called Bazar Raquel and deciding that, when (not if) I run away to Tenerife it would be absolutely ideal to take over and have a ready made business….although perhaps amending the name to Bizarre would be more fitting.

After that these signs kept popping up and had me questioning “why?”! You can see what I mean….


I was expecting to see poultry photos rather than shoes, but I quite like it! But not as much as I like this!


Mami comes to Tenerife – who knew?! Or do they mean mummy not Miami? The sign is enough to make you very cherfull though 🙂

We booked tIMG_0623hree trips during our time from these lovely people, and their name was one of the attractions….

I’m sure they’d attract even more customers if they exchanged the G for a B though!

We did begin to wonder whether there was perhaps a corrupt signwriter locally who was charging everyone extra for unwanted and needless lettering? Or someone with a Spanish/English Dictionary which had a few pages missing? But then I thought perhaps a more reasonable explanation was that it pulled in naive or nosy foreigners who came along to point out the mistakes in their signage who were then hooked, found some rare item that they just COULDN’T live without and another sale was made there and then to someone who might not have called in other than to point out the spelling error?! Interesting concept – might try it myself one day!

It does seem however that, no matter how much the islanders bend over to make the English feel at home, they don’t share one of the obsessions we have over here…..


True to their signage though, we didn’t see a single garden gnome the whole time we were there!

This is the sign which really made us laugh though – both the description of boat rental being “very funny” and “very stable and safe” when three of the boats show are actually airborne was enough to keep us chuckling, if not enough to have us going down to the harbour to book up!


P is for …. Produce (home made, grown and crafted!)

Many years ago, when Holly was young, I belonged to the local WI Producers Market. When Holly reached “proper” school age I had to leave and get a real job (boo!). Now, however, it feels like time to try something new, or rather to revisit something previously tried.

In the time since I last belonged to the market things have changed. The group is part of the Country Markets scheme and now goes under that title, rather than mentioning the WI. As you’ll see from the Country Markets website, there are around 300 Country Markets across England, Wales and the Channel Islands and their quest is to sell fresh, home grown veg, fruit, flowers and plants as well as baked goods and preserves. There’s also a great range of craft goods – which is the bit I was particularly interested in. I used to sell hand made cards at the market all those years ago and hope to do the same again now that I’ve re-joined (for the handsome joining fee of 5 whole pence!!).

As a testament to what a great group of people they are, many of the producers I knew when I was there nearly 10 years ago, are still there and still producing amazing goods.

Our market is open from 9am to 12pm every Friday in a local hall and the sight of the tables full of great produce before the masses invade and start buying is amazing. Have a look…


It’s an absolute pleasure to be back amongst such lovely, friendly and creative people and hopefully long may it last.

Perhaps you could use the search button on the Country Markets website and find a group near you to visit or join…or pop along and see us in Honiton!


O is for …. Outlet Shopping

Anyone who knows me will be quite aware that I’m not a fan of shopping, unless it’s for crafty things, cook-y things or irrelevant, unneeded nonsense. To find myself spending Saturday sat in the car for 2+ hours to travel to Swindon Designer Outlet might, therefore, be a bit surprising but I’m all for outings to somewhere new and to find something different to see.

As Outlet shopping goes, Swindon’s pretty good I think. The outlet occupies the restored Great Western Railway Works and opened in 1997. I found looking around the bits of left over engine works the most interesting bit, but that’s just me. The centre was actually surprisingly quiet for a Saturday, but perhaps the locals had stayed away as the outlet is undergoing a big makeover at the moment, reopening properly in the autumn.

So, on arrival the first thing to do, other than marveling at the high ceilings and wonderful natural light (see, not a shopper!) is to approach the information desk at the front of the outlet. We stopped there initially drawn in by a compeIMG_2095tition to find the right key to open one of 3 boxes containing designer goods. Once we were at the desk we were asked if we’d like to sign up for a Privilege Card to gain another 10% savings on top of the already generous discounts available. On top of that we were given 2 sheets of paper with special offers available just for that weekend. As we looked around I was amazed by the number of people who were just handing over their money without using the card or the additional sheet of offers. For example, we ate at Pizza Express just before leaving and handed over one of the sheets which allowed us 25% off our total bill. This sent the staff into a bit of a frenzy over what to do! It must have been the first time they’d been handed that sheet on that day, or at least on that shift. Given we were eating after 6pm, a lot of people must have missed out on that offer presumably?

Kevin and Holly picked up great bargains during the shopping spree, particularly at Superdry where prices were slashed by an average of around 60%. On top of designer clothes stores there were three different chocolate shops (yay, more my scene!), cookery shops and home furnishing outlets. Plenty for everyone. And if you don’t like that, there’s plenty to see in, as previously mentioned, the old station works and several large Lego displays!

If you’re in the area, it’s well worth the visit – just remember to pick up your privilege card on the way in!


Oh, and look out for the odd famous model hanging around too!!