Monday, 31 October 2011

What a week ....

What a busy week it was last week .... I am a registered childminder for my sins and as it was half term my house was rather noisy and hectic.  Of course Halloween was the theme with spooky decorations adorning the room, pumpkin carving, crafting, some of our favourite films including Hocus Pocus, orange playdough to model with and ending the week with a visit to a local discovery centre whose theme was ...... you guessed it Halloween!  

Stockwood Park in Luton .... gorgeous autumn colours and you can just about see a fluffy tailed creature foraging in the leaves at the base of the tree.

For the past 12 months I have just been doing my before/after school care for two reasons ..... one being the demands of the powers that be which imposes so many requirements for under fives that the paperwork involved totally detracts from actually caring for the children.  The second reason is that I am just getting too long in the tooth and 10 hour days really took it out of me last week.  Yes 10 hours, as the first family arrive just before 8.00 am and don't depart until just after 6.00 pm

So you can imagine I was really looking forward to the weekend with Saturday all to myself and I could hear another auction calling me.  An early start was necessary as there was only an hours viewing before the auction started at 9.30.  It is a lovely drive meandering through the three counties of Herts, Beds and Bucks, the sun was rising and I had an old favourite reggae/blue beat CD playing full blast as I tootled along.  My early teens just caught the end of the skinhead era and the start of the smoothies .... no not a fruit based drink ..... smart Trevira suits, shiny loafer shoes, Ben Sherman Shirts and Crombie coats and the backing track to this era was Toots & the Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Harry J Allstars, Bob & Marcia, Prince Buster et al.

through the Chiltern Hills past Whipsnade Zoo and in the distance a glimpse of the famous chalk lion on the hillside ..... carved during WW2 as a warning to the enemy that this was a zoo and shouldn't be bombed.

On to Ivinghoe with the beacon on my left as I drove by ...... we did climb this years ago but it is very steep and I couldn't manage it these days!

A little but further on is Pitstone windmill standing quite alone in the middle of a field

Over the Grand Union Canal at Bulbourne and into Tring

Despite marking off loads of juicy lots in the catalogue I came away empty handed.  In contrast to last week's bargains the bidding here was getting out of hand with mixed boxes of china/glass going for £30/40 plus commission and one lady seemed to be buying everything up single handed.  Bidding starts here at £8 so with commission of £1.44 to add onto that you are talking almost a tenner a lot at least ..... a couple of years ago I could get box loads for around £10/15 and being the ever conscious skinflint I gave up bidding and came home.  Time to find some smaller lesser known auctions methinks!

I did manage to grab an extra hours sleep on Sunday after the clock change and I'd promised Ellie I would take her car booting.  She is getting a dab hand at this now and digs around for her favourite Roald Dahl and Jacqueline Wilson books then stings me for a Caramel Cream Frappucino in Starbucks!  We have a new Poundland in Hitchin and we are both addicted already ..... she is the stationery queen .... a girl can never have too many pads and pencils in her opinion.  We made a quick visit to Letchworth and on the way home saw three of these little chaps on the grass verges .... black squirrels are quite a common sight in Letchworth and I have seen some in the churchyard in Hitchin.

Back to school today so some serious crafting to be done for the rest of this week .... watch this space!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Auction fever ....

I've been dying to share my auction bargains with you since the weekend but my daughter kidnapped the lappy and it's only just returned home this evening!

At 6 am on Saturday morning OH and I set off for deepest Essex ..... as we drove around the M25 the sun was just rising giving a wonderful pink hue to the sky heralding the start of another fine October day.  I can't believe it is November next week!  OH was entering his canaries in a bird show in Chelmsford and it didn't take me long to find the nearest auction sale in Colchester.  These are my favourite haunts now that the car boot season has come to an end.

Stanfords is a mix of general sale and country sale with outside lots including garden equipment, bikes, bales of hay, timber and an inside fur & feather sale of poultry and rabbits. There's also fruit, veg and meat.  It was the general sale that I had my eye on and I'd managed to look at the catalogue on the internet before we left home ...... I wasn't disappointed ..... there's nothing quite like a large barn packed with brown wooden furniture, ceramics, pictures and boxes of house clearance items.  My lot think I am mad but I am sure I will have my Del Boy moment one day!

I try to be sensible and set myself a limit for each lot that I am interested in and if bidding goes past that I stop and snowball that amount onto the other lots that I have marked.  That way you avoid auction fever and making bids that you later live to regret.

Wanna see what I got???

Lot number 1 was the picture in the top left box .... dated 1898 it is a print called Never Mind by Fred Morgan  .... a gorgeous study of the older child comforting the little one who has broken the head off her puppet. 

Lot 2 was the mirror at the bottom right .... a big heavy lump of Victorian carved oak with bevelled edge mirror glass.  Lot 3 is all the other pictures which are a mix of oils and the top middle is an original hand sketched in pastels & crayon dating to 1888 ..... all these pictures together with some empty frames were in one box and I only wanted them for the frames and hadn't really paid much attention to the pictures.  They are really quite a nice selection now I have had time to take a good look at them.

Lot 4 was the stool .... a revamp project for the future and Lot 5 was the pair of shabby chic shelves.

Lot 6 was the selection of sewing items with two sewing boxes and lot 7 was the remaining items in a mixed lot of china & glass ..... these are the best of the items and I took the rest to the CS.

Of course I couldn't resist lot 8 .... a lovely 1922 Singer sewing machine in wooden carrying case.

Not a bad day's work for the grand total of £90!

In praise of lollipop ladies (and gentlemen) ....

Last Friday was the end of an era.

Our School Crossing Patrol, Margaret Wiggett MBE hung up her lollipop and started a well earned retirement having served our primary school for 46 years.

That's more than a million safe journeys to school.

Margaret was awarded the MBE in 1995 for services to the school, an award which was presented to her by The Prince of Wales and she was also highly commended for the ‘frontline employee of the year’ prize at the National Transport Awards last year.

A special assembly was held to celebrate her work, which was attended by all of the school’s pupils as well as local dignitaries and parents from the area (many of whom Margaret helped to cross the road when they were children!).

Margaret was presented with special homemade cards from children in each year group at the school, as well as presents from parents and teachers.

I am pretty sure she holds the record for the longest serving lollipop lady in the country ..... what an achievement.

Have a wonderful retirement Margaret xx

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Second hand Rose ......

I have never been a fan of new stuff and I hate modern shopping centres .... you can keep your MK, Westfields and Bluewaters .... yuk in my book!

This loathing began mainly out of necessity as with a family of six of us, a mortgage and me being at home (albeit I have always had PT jobs that fitted in around the children) we had to spend our pennies wisely.  I found that by avoiding such places I wasn't tempted and anyhow it is much more fun bagging a bargain.

Which leads me on to this week's treasure from my online bargain hunting.

First this week was an old wing chair from Freecycle .... it belonged to the lady's gran and has been re-upholstered but I am chomping at the bit to make some loose covers for it .... don't know if I have the balls to strip it completely.

Here on the cover of the latest issue of Country Living magazine is something I may try and I'm thinking blue ticking or perhaps something a little more bizarre in shades of blue

I love this look and I am currently re-covering a couple of old ottomans for my friend using fabric samples in shades of pistachio and raspberry .... the samples are all different textures from satins to brocades to velvet to linen making it very tactile.

Next addition was an old sewing box from Freecycle .... battered and boring brown at the moment but I think some Annie Sloan paint and pretty fabric to replace the lining will give it a new lease of life.

and finally the piece de resistance

I have discovered a site called Preloved .... a great site for secondhand bargains .... I have been hankering for some leather sofas for a while as my two fabric ones have taken a battering over the years and as I childmind new sofas were out of the question.  There was an ad for not one but two Marks & Spencers dark blue leather sofas which was just what I was looking for and I had to rub my eyes as the asking price was just £120 for BOTH of them!   They are £1500 each in the M & S catalogue.

They were only a 20 min drive away so off I went yesterday for an inspection and I couldn't believe my luck .... one is immaculate and the other has a few signs of wear to the cushions but nothing major so I didn't quibble ..... paid my hard earned and arranged for them to be collected late yesterday afternoon.

I hired a carpet cleaner and I've been like a woman possessed this morning sprucing everything up while the weather is still mild enough to have all the windows and doors open to dry it off.

My brain is whirling with ideas for blue & white cushions and throws and as I have been squirrelling away lots of B & W fabric guess what I'll be doing this week ;-)

Monday, 10 October 2011

The 2nd Olney Vintage & Handmade Fair

On a chilly Saturday morning we set off for Olney in Buckinghamshire to take part in the 2nd Olney Vintage & Handmade Fair organised by Ann & Trevor .... Ann was sadly absent and I missed our catch up chat especially as she has recently acquired some chooks and was patiently waiting for her first egg.

A lovely mix of sellers including some regulars like Sharon of Shabby Polkadots & Clover Cottage and Wend of Ticking Stripes were there and some new faces too and I'm not sure if they are fellow bloggers too ..... put your hand up and give us a shout if you are please !

Starting time was midday and there was a good queue forming with some peeps trying to sneak in early and once the doors opened it was all go.  Word had obviously spread about the event and there was a wonderful buzz in the room .... it's great to see young and old alike coming to these events and thoroughly enjoying themselves.  Deb over at Home Thoughts from Vintage Wants was next to me which did get confusing at times when 'Deb' was called out and we both looked up. Her sister did a magnificent job in the tea room and her cakes are to die for ..... chocolate, coffee, lemon drizzle ...... are you drooling yet???

I've told you previously about my grand entrance to the first ever fair that I did with these lovely people (arriving fashionably late with around 20 mins to set up) and since then I ensure that we arrive in plenty of time to set up and also to have a mooch around at all the lovely stalls before the public come in.  My lovely blocks from Lajoni at Painting New Memories had their maiden outing and took pride of place in the centre of my table.

I was even asked if I was selling them though I have no idea what use they would be to anyone else !

We had a very good day sales wise so treated ourselves .... on the stall opposite sat this

Now who could resist them ?????

I certainly couldn't .... they are Sealyham Terriers by Mabel Gear

When I was googling for some information on her I came across this on a well known auction site and before I knew it I had pressed the bid now button ....

Mr Lala's birthday is in a couple of weeks and as a keeper of canaries and master to a naughty black cocker spaniel by the name of Ruby I thought it would make the perfect present.

She's been to the dog groomer today for a haircut, wash & brush up and now smells divine.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Winter drawers on ......

Well what a difference a week makes!

Went off on a little road trip to Hitchin flea market this morning and then onto Hexton and boy was I glad I'd popped back indoors to get my scarf ...... it was a bit taters out there.  Not much on the flea market this morning but they have started to put the Chrissy lights up and there was a new Pound Shop to investigate.

I arrived at Hexton Country Matters just in time for the first fire lighting of the season in the tea room and decided to plop myself in the rocking chair right next to it with a caffeine fix ..... I could have cheerfully nodded off and it was only eleven o'clock.  I'd taken another box of goodies to sell down there and will be taking my Christmas stock next week.

I love that when tea or coffee is ordered you just don't get one measly cup you get a whole caffetiere or pot full served with lovely china.

I have been making some Christmas stockings this week in a vintage style using some lovely tactile fabrics in autumn colours.

Think I am going to curl up with some Christmas pattern books this evening and get some more inspiration.

I will be in Olney tomorrow for the 2nd Vintage & Handmade Fair arranged by Ann & Trevor .... a fantastic friendly event with lots of lovely sellers, bloggers and of course vintage goodies to drool over.

Have a great weekend whatever you are doing x

Thursday, 6 October 2011

My new header and a big shout out

This morning Mr Postie brought my parcel from Lajoni over at Painting New Memories

Following a swap on another forum where Lajoni had made some beautifully decorated blocks for her swap partner, I immediately fell in love with them and thought that they would make a perfect advertising centrepiece for my table at the fairs that I participate in.  So, I contacted Lajoni and gave her an idea of what I was looking for and these are the result.

Aren't they just perfect ...... on each of the unlettered sides is a picture of my work over the past couple of years .... cute little snapshots of my crochet, cushions, patchwork, bags, Christmas decorations, letter cushions ....

Thank you to one extremely talented lady xxxx

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Silly Season .....

What is happening with our Seasons ..... do I have my rose tinted specs on again when I say that when I was a girl we had autumn, winter, spring then summer ????  You knew where you were and had clothing to suit but here we are today on the first day of October 2011 and it is a sweltering 27 degrees out there.  The hot flushes that I thought had departed are back with a bloody vengeance and the shorts are back out of the cupboard.  No doubt next week we will have floods or snow .... I am totally confused and am sceptical about all this global warming business that seems to be fashionable at the moment but something must be happening out there.  Heard on the radio yesterday that some areas were testing gritter lorries in readiness for the winter .... wonder if we will need them this year ???

I've been busy this week preparing for the Autumn Fayre at our local primary school tomorrow and I am somewhat nervous as I don't tend to broadcast close to home that I craft .... don't ask me why as I am not usually backward in coming forward !  Small pocket money items have been the order of the day .... hair bands, brooches, key rings, crochet /knitted cakes, PE/shoe bags (sorry forgot to photo) and children's apron/baking sets.

Of course a sunshiney weekend wouldn't be the same without some car boot looting would it???

The two I visited this morning were the busiest I have see them all season

The 1960s crimplene suit (shift dress & coat) is a cracker and was apparently worn once to a wedding ... the label says size 16 but my hips say no so it is now available on Ebay here.

Three pretty Strevens prints of cute children .... an interesting article on the artist here .... I'm not sure if the Audrey Hepburnesque girl with the cigarette holder is one of his too as I can't see a signature but all three were framed in Boots as the original labels are on the back.
The key rings that I made for the Fayre (in first photo collage) are made from the pages of a very tatty old Enid Blyton Noddy book .... I have been wondering what to do with it as it was too tatty to sell but had some lovely illustrations and the empty key ring fobs seemed the perfect thing ... they are double sided with a colour picture on one side and text on the reverse.  To my surprise there at the boot this morning was the very same book in lovely condition with original dust jacket for just 50p ... how spooky is that??

Also found was a lovely 1930s needlecraft book and a wierd and wonderful 1960s/70s toy called the Magic Joy Wheel.

Regular readers of my ramblings will recognise the last photo in the collage .... not a car boot find but one from a well known auction website this week ... yes it is another Lilian Rowles to add to my collection .... isn't it gorgeous !!

Feeding time at the menagerie yesterday with one nosey bird who just had to join in!