Saturday, 31 December 2011

Ring out the old, Ring in the New!

How appropriate that this New Year begins on a Sunday, for over on From High in the Sky, it is Storytelling Sunday. I was so pleased Sian decided to continue this monthly opportunity for storytelling. It is a great incentive to write down something that you wish to remember, no matter whether large or small in detail, and the sharing aspect of the story is truly a delight. Just pop on over there and read some of the stories; you will be amazed how interesting and uplifting they are.

As we celebrate the arrival of 2012, my thoughts turn to my mother and 1912, the year in which she was born. Had she been alive this year on her hundredth birthday, she would have received a telegram from the Queen. She would have loved that! 

A much treasured photograph of mum

Mum was never a great lover of Christmas but she loved New Year. Looking back, I now realise that she probably found Christmas a great strain. It is an expensive time and money was always tight in our household. She would have worked really hard to provide presents from Santa, especially the year I asked for a desk. It had to have a lift up lid and a bench attached... but I digress!

One stand-out New Year for her happened when I was a small child and we were living in Manchester. On New Year's Eve, my brother and I were allowed to stay up until midnight. My mum always insisted on having a groaning table of food and would send my father outside just before midnight with a lump of coal, a silver coin, and a piece of bread to await the midnight chime. These traditions, if upheld, would mean we always had plenty of those things throughout the coming year. This particular year, the midnight bell rang out and we waited, and waited, but my father did not re-enter the house. After what seemed like fifteen minutes (but was probably only about five!) we all heard footsteps in the hallway and the largest man of African origin you have ever seen, entered our sitting room. We all screamed, including the man! It is hard to imagine now, as our world is so integrated, but back then there were no people of different ethnic backgrounds living in our locality. Recovering from the shock, we quickly discovered that the man was lost and in the dark, had seen our open front door and hoped he could be re-directed. However, mum had other ideas. This man had 'let in' our New Year and therefore had to be invited to stay and participate in our party. The fact that he was of African origin only added to the occasion, as my mother believed that it was very lucky to have a 'tall, dark, handsome man' to usher in the New Year. When my father eventually returned, having been distracted himself by a drink with a neighbour, he found us all at the dining table being entertained by this amusing dark stranger. We never saw him again but he was never forgotten. Every year on New Year's Eve, mum would ask 'Do you remember the tall, dark, handsome stranger?'. 

I wish you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. May it be filled with all that you desire for 2012.

Friday, 30 December 2011

The In-between time

It has been a wonderful Christmas, one in which my sick daughter has been able to fully participate. 

She loves her niece and nephew!

There was the visit to Santa, my granddaughter's school Nativity, the Crib Service on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day spent at my other daughter's house, a trip to the Theatre on Boxing Day to see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, to name but a few of the highlights we shared. As a family, we feel so very fortunate to have had this special time together. Here is just a glimpse of some of those happy times.

The grandchildren were thoroughly spoiled by Santa this year and I will share some other time the difficulty he had granting my granddaughter's wish for a Princess Castle. But as Santa does, he came up trumps and her face was an absolute picture on Christmas morning. As you can see, our little princess played the part to the max! Her Aunt and Uncle gave her a Dressing up box for Christmas that contained just the right costume. 

Looking at the photographs and with the memories so fresh in my mind, this in-between Christmas and New Year time gives me the opportunity to reflect on how I want to journal them. I didn't manage to keep up with JYC this year. It was hard with all of the hospital appointments just a week before Christmas and being away from home. I so admire all of you bloggers who managed to JYC and December Daily. You found the time, and so must I. As I look forward to 2012, a New Year resolution must be to write more. Lots of my memories are in my head, with not many photographs to back them up. Events that happened a long time ago. I know from my family history research how much I wish I had asked my grandparents about their lives and hopes and dreams. I am sure that my children and grandchildren will be glad that I write about mine.  

Friday, 23 December 2011

It's Official, it's Christmas!

Catching up at Christmas is a near impossibility and rather than beat myself up because I haven't managed any more journal pages, I am going to sit back and enjoy all the delights of the season. I am sure there will be an opportunity in the lull between Christmas and New Year to revisit my album.

It has been a busy time around here since our return. The presents are finally wrapped, the decorations have been unpacked and are now on display. The last of the Christmas cards have been sent, presents exchanged with those we will not be with during the holiday and now only two more days before the Big Day. There is such a lot to look forward to.

I do hope that this Christmas is a happy one for You. I am looking forward to spending lots of time with my family at a slower pace than the run up to Christmas. Time to live those memories before I can Journal about them!

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone.   

Monday, 19 December 2011


Back home from seeing Doctors and Consultants bearing good news. Thanks to the steroids, there is a small improvement in my daughter's condition and she will get better. We still have quite a journey ahead, but the steps are positive ones. There can be no better news for our family this Christmas and we are so thankful to be entering 2012 in the knowledge that she can regain her enjoyment and quality of life in the not too distant future.

On our travels, I got diverted (as you do!) into a local Garden Centre. I thought you might like a peek at their furniture section. Any scrapbookers among you would probably like one of these

Or this one

Or maybe even this one

I would like them all but then Santa would say I was greedy!

Christmas Eve will soon be upon us and I have quite a bit of catching up to do. The grandchildren were in Wales this past weekend visiting their other Nanny and Gramps and I think there was a Santa train ride too; I can't wait to hear all about that. 

Hope you all had a great weekend. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A short lacuna

I will be away from the computer for a few days. Hospital appointments for my younger daughter are a priority at present. In the meantime, I will leave you with these two cheerful penguins to keep you company. 

Look forward to catching up soon!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas tree bliss

Here are days 10 and 11 of Journal your Christmas. Although my album has a blue, yellow, brown and white theme this year, there is no escaping the red and green all around us. And I do love these colours but I wanted to try something different this year. I searched around for a blue tree, I really did, but my heart kept taking me back to this one.

elements by Carina Gardner

The wrapping paper is another story. I would love to be able to design my own this year. With some of my new found skills from the Surface Design Course, I may give it a try! 

The course ended this past weekend and today it felt so strange not having my daily injection of inspiration. Each day it came at us in bucketfuls, new ideas, new ways of thinking outside of the box. The quality of teaching was outstanding. The coursework contained absolutely everything connected with pattern. There were bonus technical workshops, interviews with designers, an amazing group of women on the course, nothing was ever too much trouble for either Rachael or Beth. They both willingly encouraged us on and stretched us to go further. I can't wait for the next module to commence, though I am glad of the five or so weeks until Module 2. I need time to draw, time to learn more Photoshop techniques, time for inspiration. 

There is no better time than Christmas to see colour in abundance and patterns galore. And speaking of patterns, I must share with you this cute drawing of my granddaughter's that we have made into her Christmas card this year.

Isn't it great!

Thanks for dropping in!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Santa's gone AWOL!

A few photographs from the visit to Santa that tie in nicely with day eleven's prompt about Christmas Trees for JYC. For the past couple of years, the grandchildren have visited Santa at the Kennels, on the Goodwood Estate. One of my joys is seeing the Christmas tree in the entrance hall and all the doggie bowls put to good use around the tree.

At the party, there were colouring in activities
Santa's grotto was a surprise. Santa had sent along Mrs Santa! Luckily, my granddaughter was not phased by this at all and explained to me that Santa was very busy and Mrs Santa was helping him out this year. 
 My grandson was not so sure but he loved his gift. 
 And I think my granddaughter did too!
She took the matter of feeding the bear very seriously.                                         

Where's the Christmas tree, you may wonder? Waiting for me to get on with that journal page! 

Have a good day!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Weekend Catch-Up

Finding myself with a few spare minutes on Saturday, instead of wielding a much needed duster around the sitting-room (I think it was Quentin Crisp who said 'after the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse'), I managed a couple more of my JYC pages.

digital frame In the Making, Linda Roos and Carina Gardner papers and elements

When I saw that day 8 was headlined Sights of the Season, I just had to use a photograph from one of margie's wonderful tutorials for Spark Your Christmas. The garland has everything I love; lace, vintage papers, doileys! It's not too late to join in. Go on over and check it out. You won't be disappointed! 

Day 9 is about Christmas Traditions and this story springs to mind.

Apologies, can't remember where the digital twine came from. 

The story probably loses something in translation, but it was very amusing being there. I think it was the way my that son-in-law flourished the scissors before he snipped the parcel that had us all laughing, and then when the rubber tips of the brush fell to the floor, that just topped it off!

Hope you are all having a great weekend.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Chasing my the old saying goes!

It has been another busy week. I would like to report that Santa's grotto is bursting at the seams, the decorations are up, Christmas carols are playing quietly in the background... but alas, this is not the case. Here is day 7 of JYC and it is about lists. I have a lot of those with not too many ticks showing presently.

 Digital downloads from Carina Gardner as before

I did finally manage to print my cards this week and consider that a major success. There was a little help (well actually rather a lot of help!) from my youngest daughter who managed successfully to get my design the right way up and in the right position on the card before printing them off for me. 

On Friday, I attended my granddaughter's sharing assembly at her school. It is such a privilege to be involved in her day to day activities. The assembly was really interesting. Several children from each class year came forward to show what projects they have been working on that week. The elder children have been making WWII albums as part of this term's curriculum, and as I have an interest in family history, it was great to see how involved the children were with the project. They had family photographs, had interviewed grandparents, drawn maps and become thoroughly immersed in remembering and honouring their ancestors. This week was also a very special one for my granddaughter as on Thursday, she was awarded a gold star, given to her because she had shown kindness to another pupil. She is always a star in my eyes!

This weekend, we are off to visit Santa. My two year old grandson was very apprehensive last year so it will be interesting to see his reaction this year. I will be sure to take my camera to catch all the action!

Friday, 9 December 2011

In Memory

Today is my 'big' brother's birthday. He would have been 72 this year. He tragically died in 1968 and I miss him today as much as I have always done. He was my best friend, my comrade-in-arms when we were mischievous children. He took me with him everywhere, despite the seven year age gap. If his friends didn't want me there, he wouldn't go out with them. And clever, boy was he bright. He had an amazing capacity to recite things he had read or heard, word perfectly. I knew all the Goon Shows and Hancock's Half Hour because he would tell them to me as a bed-time story. He got a scholarship to Manchester Grammar School. My mum was so proud of him. And I loved him, still do, because he will always be a part of me.

Miss you x

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Christmas Tale

Day six of JYC is headlined A Tale of Two Christmases. This very thought provoking prompt set me down a path of contemplation of how life would be without my two daughters. You see, they are a large part of my life and we are tremendously close. And I love them to bits, but that goes without saying! I was wondering how best to show that in my journal without it seeming too sentimental when I alighted upon this photograph of them and then I knew just what to write. Here it is 

Spent a fun day looking after my grandson yesterday. As his vocabulary is growing so are his singing skills. I think he must be in rehearsal for a Christmas production at his nursery as he was very tuneful at times. We spent quite a bit of time with his crayons too. He likes me to print pictures off the computer of his favourite characters and then we colour them in together. Lightning McQueen seems to be top of his list at the moment and I think there may be quite a few requests for Mr Lightning to Santa this year. 

Isn't he cute?

Have fun!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas cards and dreams

When I collected my 5 year old granddaughter from school yesterday, she told me that the special theme of the day had been about writing a letter to Santa. It was very important to get the spellings right! On arriving home, she then entertained my younger daughter and myself by showing us a 'twizzler'. The twizzler is a special jump and twist in the air that she had been shown in the playground. I think she meant 'twister' but I am going with twizzler. It sounds much more exciting. Don't know if I have spelt it correctly though. No doubt she will tell me later!

I am still on catch up with my daily journaling pages. Days 3 and 4 are here. 

December 3 was about Christmas cards. I am doing very simple digital pages just so that there is some record of each day. I will be adding photographs at a later date. As this week is the last on my Surface Pattern Design Course, I really want to concentrate on that. I am finding though, by having a template made up for JYC, it's easy just to add that day's prompt to the page. I may change it all later. There's bound to be some quieter moments after the Christmas rush!  

On December 4, the prompt was about Christmas Dreams. This was easy-peasy! I would love to be a pattern designer. As for my family, my wish will be that everyone enjoys good health and has lots of Joy and Peace in their lives in the coming year. In the meantime, the most wonderful thing will be spending Christmas together. There's nothing better than that. Maybe, just maybe, if I have written my letter to Santa with No spelling mistakes, he might just make my dreams come true! 

Wishing you all a good day.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Day 2 - JYC

The weekend flew by and I am already behind with my Journal Your Christmas prompts. Day 2 is about the weather; how different it is this year in the South, though the weatherman says there could be snow on the way. Last year's page looked like this 

Using one of Shimelle's digital downloads 2010

This year, I can't quite make up my mind about using a digital layout or scrapping a paper one, so while I am still debating (in my head!) here's a digital one to record December 2 this year.

Digi papers and elements from Carina Gardner's Color Kit 1

The photograph is one of the reasons for my prevarication. I am loving the Surface Pattern Design course, learning so much and being inspired by Rachael and Beth. One of our assignments last week was to go out with a camera and shoot pictures of patterns and colours. I want to make patterns all day! Then there are the Christmas cards to print off, an angel costume to make for my granddaughter, shopping and so on. If only there were more hours in the day?  You all know how busy it is at this time of the year! In the meantime, I will at least try and keep up by a pick-and-mix method, as I so enjoyed completing last year's JYC.

Enjoy your Monday whatever you manage to do.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Magic Moments

Whenever the family reminisce - and as I get older, this seems to happen with more and more frequency - one of my most remembered magical moments happened when the family lived in Hong Kong. The family will groan to hear the story again but as it is a memory I will never forget and it is Storytelling Sunday over at From High in the Sky, I am going to share the magic with you here.

Christmas in Hong Kong was very different than the one's spent in the Yorkshire we had left behind. There was no snow for starters. At the Child Development Centre where I worked, we duly stuck cotton wool balls on the window panes and the children marveled at this pretend snow. Down in Central, there were lots of Christmas decorations glistening in the sun. The ferries were dressed with fairy lights as they made their regular journeys back and forth across the harbour. And it was warm! On our first Christmas morning there in 1984, we walked on the beach and paddled in the sea. 

We spent many happy Christmas times in Hong Kong. Sometimes family came out to spend that special time with us, and at other times, we shared the day with other families who were far from home. All those memories are very dear to my heart but there is one special time, you know the kind, when the goosebumps appear and your heart feels fit to burst, and this is the story.

Often after Christmas, we would go on holiday. There were so many amazing places to visit. This particular year, however, had been spent in Hong Kong with friends. A turkey dinner was cooked on the day, a game of rounders on the beach on Boxing Day, lots of neighbours dropping in for festive cheer, the usual fun stuff that happened out there. 

For New Year's Eve, we had booked to spend it on Middle Island, which was just off the shore of Deepwater Bay. There was a barbecue, dancing, games on the beach for all the children. And, remember, it was warm. To get on and off the Island, the Yacht Club had a small launch that ferried you back and forth. It was already magical. After a wonderful evening and when the children were drooping with sleepy eyes, we summoned the ferry boat and set off over the dark, glistening sea to the opposite shore. I had my back to the shore, looking towards the Island when all of a sudden, a mist rolled in enveloping it. At that very moment, a Welsh friend of ours, stood up on the boat and started playing his bagpipes. The mist surrounded us and then left as quickly as it had come and the indigo sky was revealed and a full moon appeared. Somehow in that split second, home had come to us and reminded me that no matter where you are in the world at Christmas and New Year, being with loved ones is what truly matters the most. 

Now, grab yourself a drink and pop on over to Sian's blog and enjoy some truly remarkable stories.  

Thursday, 1 December 2011

A December Journal

It has finally arrived. The build up to Christmas has begun and to get the ball rolling, Shimelle has posted a Manifesto over on Journal Your Christmas. It seems a really appropriate way for me to start off the month, particularly as it mentions sugarplum fairies and chugging toy trains. Both feature heavily in my grandchildren's letters to Santa this year!

I managed to get the children's Advent calendar completed yesterday and am told they were really excited this morning to receive it. There was more delight from my granddaughter as I picked her up from school this afternoon when she announced she had been chosen to open the number one on her class advent calendar, And received a chocolate coin as well! 

Now I must turn my attention as to how I am going to journal my Christmas this year. Methinks it may be another digital journal given that I am trying to concentrate on my Surface Pattern Design course. Whatever I decide, I hope to share it with you. 

Wishing you all a good evening!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Colour Magic!

Can you believe it? It is already the third week of my Surface Pattern Design course. How can that be! I have been searching for inspiration, sketching motifs, learning how to place patterns in Photoshop and Illustrator, and am now turning my attention to colour. 

Colour is everywhere you look. In our homes, outside our window panes, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, even our skin. All contain colour. How very fortunate we are to be surrounded by it and yet, sometimes we can take it for granted.  The course is making me look at it properly; to focus more on how it affects my life. Certain colours can be uplifting, while some can make me reflective.

Georgia O'Keefe wrote : I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way... things I had no words for.

I have noticed that on the days I wear something brighter than black, I feel more uplifted. When I paint, the colours make me happy. Colour brings me so much joy and I must appreciate it more.

Today, I have been putting the finishing touches to the grandchildren's Advent calendar. It is always a fun time collecting small items for each day. This year's calendar has lots of drawers and I know they will love opening them each day. There are lots of Christmas books in the shops for very young children and I have purchased a few. Several of the drawer tags will ask them to dip into a book box I have made up for them. They both love books and being read to. Such a pleasure.

My grandson was here earlier and as it was a rainy day, he played a lot with his train set. Cars were parked up on the flyover, engines broke down, people stood on the car wash roof, an aeroplane landed on a bridge, it was mahem! 

While he was playing, I couldn't help but observe how colourful his train table and toys are. The table is in my hall and I pass it every day but have I really looked at it properly? There is an abundance of primary colours. I must make up a colour swatch immediately for my course!

Tomorrow is December 1st. I can hardly wait!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Nearly Christmas!

The start of a new week and it's the one that contains the commencement of the month of December. I love the build up to Christmas and having grandchildren increases that excitement.

All over the blogland that I read, bloggers are getting ready to start their December Daily, or planning their Journal Your Christmas, and you can even Doodle your way through the month if you so desire. 

Last year, I joined in the JYC class run by the very talented Shimelle Laine. Here's a peek at Day One's album page just to get you in the Christmas spirit!

For the grandchildren last year, I made a Christmas advent calendar of tags; one for each day of the month and wrote about it on Day Five

I am planning something for this year and had better get my skates on as it's December 1st on Thursday.

 time for that letter to Santa, children!

Have a great day!

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Wishing all of my American friends a very Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your day!

You have enriched my life and for that, I am very thankful.

Have a great family time!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Autumnal gifts

A photo heavy post today for inspiration. Since commencing my course, I seem to have spent more time just looking. Looking at nature, shapes and colour and what better place than my own garden. 

It has been a wonderful Autumn with carpets of colour everywhere. And the squirrels and birds glad of such bounty.

Time for me to put all this goodness down on paper. Mark making exercises today; I think I need not look further than through the windows to be inspired!

Enjoy your day!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Playing with Patterns

On Wednesday when I picked up my Granddaughter from school, she had with her the Explorer's bag. These bags are sent home weekly by the school and contain items that are both educational and fun to teach the children skills like observation and colour. Last week, the Explorer's bag contained a box of plastic bugs, two spy glasses and some binoculars and we had an hilarious hour hiding the bugs around the house for her and my grandson to find. 

By some happy coincidence, this week's Explorer's bag contained a box of shapes for pattern making. On the Surface Pattern Design Course, we have been going back to basics, looking at shapes and drawing aspects of the shape to help us look at things in a different way. What could be better than sitting with my grandchildren watching them make patterns and discussing what the shapes were called. My granddaughter made lots of flowers and her younger brother was very experimental and made a battle ship! 

 this is fun, granny!

his 'butter wouldn't melt' look!

Meanwhile, on my course we have started some drawing exercises and finding out how to manipulate them on Photoshop. In a good way, I am repeatedly overwhelmed by the content of the course; it is more than I ever could have wished for and more!

a leaf - starting to draw!

Tomorrow is my eldest daughter's 7th wedding anniversary so I am off for a spot of babysitting. Happy Anniversary to you dear daughter and son-in-law! 

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Looking for inspiration

Some time ago, I signed up for an on-line course The art and business of surface pattern design. The class began on Monday and if I was overly excited about starting the course, you should see me now it has commenced! If you want to know more, just click on the button in the side-bar. If you love patterns and pattern making, you should sign up now. There are students from five continents participating; it's an amazing array of talent. And speaking of talent, go look at rachael taylor's designs and the photography of beth nicholls, both incredible artists. I can't thank them enough for giving me this opportunity to study surface pattern design.

One of our first tasks is to look at the world around us and photograph things that inspire. I am always drawn to the sea and am lucky enough to have it close by where I live. Here are a few shots that have captured my imagination.


It will be interesting to see what evolves from these photographs. 

It's Wednesday, and my 'Granny day'. Always an opportunity for a photo-shoot!

Have a wonderful day.