this little piggy

went to market. Like this ..

{photo taken by my husband at the weekend}

with his three brothers and a rooster friend.

This is how it's done in Cambodia. A far cry from EC directives don't you think? And yes, they were all alive!


autumn flowers

So autumn is well and truly here now. There is a definite chill in the air, the conkers are falling to the delight of the children and I've been contemplating putting the heating on.

I'm also thinking about log fires, harvest festivals, pumpkins, crunchy leaves in shades of russet and ochre. And of course, before we know it, it'll be halloween.

I finally had enough light to photograph the first earrings since the beginning of the holidays, the colours of which remind me of Alys Fowler. Hopefully she would approve ..

What things do you associate with autumn?


kids clothes week challenge

It's done, as if I needed an excuse to make some childrens' clothing, and it's been great fun. The pattern, which I've been eyeing up for over a year now, is from this book. One of the best, in my opinion, and used for this dress too.

After much deliberation over the fabric choice, I suddenly realised that tana lawn would be a better choice for now over the wool given the fact it's still reasonably mild. Remember the two-day Indian Summer earlier this week, cough cough. Tana is beautiful to sew, the wool will come!

Nevertheless, because tana is lightweight coupled with the turning of the season I lined both bodice and skirt, but not the arms. I gave that a lot of thought too and even rummaged through some existing dresses to check what the manufacturers themselves had done (a very mixed result). If the dress was for me (and boy do I wish it was) I think I would line the sleeves as well. I'm constantly cold but the children never cease to surprise with their ability to survive in a tee shirt whilst I shiver in a jumper; or sleep with a simple sheet and thin quilt whilst I'm in the next room with sheet, two blankets, a couple of quilts and an eiderdown! So there you have it, no sleeve lining.

I used two different linings, the bodice has voile for its breathability and comfort, the skirt a slippery polyester so it won't ride up her tights.

The fabric is capel from Liberty. The colour I can only describe as a reasonably good match for Farrow & Ball's Saxon Green. What do you mean you don't have your colour chart to hand?! Anyway, and more importantly, I'm hoping it may be an antidote to all the pinks and purples currently hanging in the wardrobe. The wide crocheted lace, Victorian, came from the depths of the stash.

Oh and here's the bribe..

By the way, what a difference a day makes. Following my Japanese hiatus I went back to the pattern on Day 2 and everything fell into place. No surprises there then! (But thank you for your suggestions x)

Wishing you a lovely weekend x


frustration, distraction and a moment to savour

I'll tell you why. Today is Day One of the challenge, when you spend one hour a day (until the 26th) creating a piece of fabulousness for your child. I have to say though (through the gritted teeth of frustration), I have achieved pretty much nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Rien. You see I've come to a standstill and the only thing that's going to help is Japanese lessons. My Japanese friend, who is on the case this evening, warns though that since she doesn't sew she may not be able to translate the terms.

Doesn't sew? Don't all Japanese women sew? Have I been deluding myself all these months? I imagined the ladies throughout Japan united in sewing clothes for themselves, their offspring and then some kawaii and all things tasteful? I almost wish I didn't know now. But whilst I await my fate regarding translation, if there's anyone out there who can help, please put me out of my misery won't you?

On the other hand, you know, this hiatus is probably for the best for I am now distracted. Wrap my knuckles won't you, I've had this post sitting in my head, awaiting attention, for some time...

During the summer holidays that postman of ours (the one who burps noisily outside the door when he (we assume) doesn't realise my husband's office is just the other side!) delivered a lovely little surprise from Jane. And when I got back home there it was, waiting patiently on the mat alongside the usual bills, local papers and Indian take-away leaflets. The dinkiest of envelopes it was, the sort you just know will contain something good, the sort that looks so promising you'll want to delay opening and then savour every single minute once you can be sure you'll not be disturbed.

No, no, noooo. MLF's eagle eye had spied it too and that cute little package was pounced on within seconds. And not remembering what it could be, or indeed who it might be from, I said "yes, yes of course you may open it". So no savouring the moment, no caressing the packaging, no real thought whatsoever about what beauty could possibly lie within.

But my goodness, once I retrieved what was rightfully mine, what treasures lay inside -

For you see, each pocket has a different fastener - ribbons, snaps, vintage buttons - and contained yet more creativity within. I now have my hands on one of Jane's Dorset buttons and she provided a tablet of calming soap (how apt) plus a packet of seeds. I was like a child on Christmas Day I tell you.

Jane contacted me during the summer to warn me not to expect very much but crikey, this looks like there are many hours involved.

All in all this 'Pay it Forward' lark was well and truly worth my while so here's some advice for you - Jane's giveaway ends tomorrow night so get your name in post haste, you won't be sorry.



What to do .. Elsie Marley's kids clothes week challenge (open to all) kicks off Monday and I'm still undecided. Which of the florals should it be; cream, burgundy, the green? Time will tell.

Yesterday I picked up a copy of this magazine which I'd not seen before. It came highly recommended by my local fabric shop so I'm hoping to pick up some useful tips this weekend.

Not this evening though, I'll be snuggled up on the sofa with the children watching Merlin. Bliss.

Happy weekend x


liberty love

I'm a huge fan of Margaret Howell's clothes. I love the clean lines of her unfussy garments and the fact that she allows her sumptuous fabrics to speak for themselves. Just the other day when I was walking by her shop on Wigmore Street, I fell in love with the window display, for there I spied a simple but utterly wonderful long A line woollen skirt in the deepest of blues that had been paired with a white shirt and mustard round neck jumper. It was totally simple but the effect was arresting. Inside the shop were yet more beautifully crafted pieces and then I spied it! A classic button down shirt in a stunning print. Love! But I don't love her prices. Sadly £255 (no typo) is a little out of my league for a shirt so what on earth is a girl to do? Ah, but I shall tell you exactly what I did ... I walked around the corner to this marvellous emporium, bought a metre of the very same fabric for £19.95 (no typo) and marched home with a cheshire cat grin on my face.

Being a cardigan rather than a jumper girl at heart, what I had in mind was a really simple top to wear underneath the range of woollens I already have in my wardrobe. Perhaps even this gold one that I'm coveting, even though the colour probably wouldn't suit me no matter how much blusher and lipstick I should pile on! So do you remember those two easy shift dresses I made in the summer that have been a huge success? Uh huh, I know it's erring on the somewhat unadventurous side but don't forget Mae West famously said 'too much of a good thing can be wonderful'.

So I made a top using that same pattern, deciding to let my 'sumptuous fabric' speak for itself ..


harbour mosaic

Following that fabulous weather over the weekend I clearly spoke too soon because the drizzle and general miserableness have now set in.

I think that no matter how grey and dismal the day, there is always colour to be found in the harbour and I love pottering about, listening to the sound of the gulls and the clanking of the many masts.

Never mind, the arrival of the electrician heralded the sign to abandon any work in the kitchen, so I decided to teach myself how to create a mosaic. Something I've been wanting to do for an absolute age and have been admiring on other blogs for just as long.

I just about managed the technique before the mains got cut off!


colourful day

Thank you for your lovely comments on my making progress post. Progress is indeed being made at a rapid pace and my Mother has finally made it home again, after five weeks in three different hospitals. Poor love, she only popped to the doctor's surgery for some test results!

So here I am once again, helping out for a few days before heading back to the clan. And what a day to be down here; really when the sun shines it doesn't get much better than this ..

I hope you've had a sunny weekend too.


fun day sunday

An impromptu visit yesterday to the O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome) to let the hamsters release some energy.

They slept well ..

I have to say though, the parking was a nightmare!

Enjoy the week x


making progress

I can't believe it's been over three weeks since my last post ... my goodness, so much has happened since then, just wait till you hear about my summer. The one which turned out to be the most unpredictable, unusual and completely disrupted we've had so far.

It all began so well; a first relaxed week in Dorset followed by another in Cornwall with my parents where I celebrated my birthday. Hubby booked lunch for all, during which my father began to feel unwell and promptly fainted into his fancy food meaning the paramedics were sent to join us and we didn't manage the merest glimpse of the pudding menu. Thankfully all turned out to be well but MLF made sure we didn't forget with her many 'impressions of Grandpa fainting' - poor man!

We'd been toying for a while with the idea of using hubby's gargantuan supply of air miles to take a holiday around Vancouver Island, but had nothing booked for a variety of reasons. These ranging from the man himself's frequent travels abroad for two weeks at a time, but more likely the general disorganisation that shares our household. But then when we finally sprang into action, having fine tuned every last detail of our unforgettable vacation, there were suddenly no international flights to be had for love nor money. It would appear the majority of residents of this planet are actually less tardy than we are and doubtless made their bookings several months before!

But whilst we were discussing where to take a last minute holiday, hubby was called down under for a fortnight to iron out a few company problems. The invitation was there to join but knowing he'd have to work the whole time, any initial excitement faded as we realised we would doubtless be a distraction so we changed our dates and booked a week in France on his return. My very wise and sensible cousin jokingly suggested that someone, somewhere, didn't want me to go away and perhaps it was all for the best. Little did we know how right she would be. Only days later my Mother suffered a heart attack (mild, thank you God) and was subsequently told she would need a by-pass op, asap. Thank goodness we didn't hot foot it to Oz then.

NHS waiting lists being as they are, the first availability was in London during, you've guessed it, the week of the French holiday we'd booked only a matter of days earlier. I'd been nagging my parents for ages to come up and see us, only this wasn't quite what I had in mind!

Watching your Mother being wheeled away for a major operation is very very tough and the thoughts that go through your mind range across a massive spectrum of emotions. It was particularly difficult since at the time she went in, she seemed the picture of health, although of course we all knew she wasn't. We also knew that only hours later would bring a different scenario altogether; that for a time she would be incapable of doing things for herself, able to speak or even think clearly and certainly unable to move about. Then we all reached a very low point when she suffered renal failure together with a collapsed lung. The heart op had been a resounding success but now we were facing a set of problems we hadn't anticipated and it even crossed my mind we might lose her.

But now the operation is eleven days behind us, all is going well and we can finally see progress at an astonishing speed. I've also had the luxury of being able to make daily visits, even staying a week at the hospital, keeping my father company. She should hopefully be transferring to a more local hospital next week before returning home not too long after that. To think, she went to her doctor for a quick ECG at the beginning of August and hasn't yet made it home!

And the holiday in France? Thankfully we have been able to shift our bookings to October Half Term and in any case, I bet it was raining there that week ... it certainly was here!

So that's about it folks. Phew, so glad to have got all that off my chest - goodness, blogging today seems just like therapy. Only cheaper!

Have a lovely weekend x