Saturday 30 January 2021

Saturday Story

 Last Saturday I talked about storytelling.  So here I am with the first Saturday Story.

A for Australia.  Not K for Koala

I am very aware that I live a highly privileged life.  For most people a trip to somewhere 11,000+ miles away would be a once in a lifetime trip.  We have visited six times between 2006 and 2020.

Some of you may know that my son went to Sydney in 2006 to study at Hillsong College.  He met his wife there who was also a college student.  She comes from Florida but they are both Australian citizens now.  

To be honest Australia wasn't on our list of places in the world to visit.  However we have enjoyed every trip we have made.  We have visited Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Tasmania, Ingham, the WhitSunday islands and various bits of countryside around these towns and cities.   Having three grandchildren in Sydney is a considerable draw to visiting again.  2022 perhaps?  I don't think travel will be available in 2021.

But my connection with Australia goes way back before 2006.

My father's parents went from Birmingham (UK) to live in Brisbane in the early 1920s - I'm not sure exactly when.  My Dad was born there in 1924.  He came to England when he was 7.  My mother and I used to tease him about being born in the street.  For Place of Birth on his birth certificate it said High Street, Bulimba.  We imagined Grandma walking down the street, crouching down and giving birth!

Anyway, in 2008 we took my Dad to Australia.  He had never been on a plane.  When he came from Australia it was on a ship, and the journey took 6 weeks. Once he arrived in the UK he never went outside of the country again.  He didn't get a passport until 2008.

So his first ever trip abroad was London to Singapore, Singapore to Melbourne, Melbourne to Brisbane, Brisbane to Sydney, Sydney to Singapore and lastly Singapore to London.  It took him several months to recover!  Not surprsing since he was 84.

In Brisbane we went to find the High Street in Bulimba.  We took the ferry down the Brisbane River.  The road is now called Oxford Street.

He could remember where the house was that he had lived in and we found it.  I doubt it looked like this in the 1920s.

We went back to Oxford Street and sat outside a cafe.  Dad suddenly said: There used to be a cinema here somewhere!  We looked up and it turned out we were sitting outside the building that had been the cinema.

A is also for Administrator.  I worked as the church administrator for 12 years.

And after administration there is art - both in life and in the dictionary.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

According to my grammar school I was no good at art.  Well in terms of fine art, they were right and they would still be right.  But I think art is anything creative involving a variety of media.  However when it came to choosing what GCSE subjects I was to take, I wasn't allowed to take art.  I wasn't allowed to take Physics or Chemistry either.  So I ended up doing Cookery and Needlework.  And many of you will know what I think of cooking these days!

In the Sixth Form, because I wasn't allowed to do 3 'A' levels (I only did two), I had too many free lessons so I was made to do General Art.  The only valuable thing I learned in those lessons was a form of calligraphy.  And if I remember rightly I was kept in Detention to really master the art!!!

Of course the biggest A in my life is my son Andy.  His name is Andrew you understand.  We kept to calling him Andrew right up until he was about 15 when all the teachers at his school parents' evening called him Andy, so we gave in.  My parents never did!  Even for his wedding vows he said 'I, Andy ...'  Harrumph!

That's all for now! 

Thanks for joining me today.

Tuesday 26 January 2021

100 things to do in life

My second ever blog post was this list in 2008.  I thought it would be interesting to see what I had done since then.  The new things are in turquoise. (What a surprise!)

100 things to do in life! 

I found this and thought that it would be a great addition to my blog back in 2008! You are supposed to make everything that you have done bold. If you decide to do this, please leave a comment, so I can check out your list.
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you had to a charity
7. Been to Disneyland   Does Animal Kingdom count?

8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art form from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors  Does going to where my Dad was born in Australia count?
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House  I stood outside it
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

How many have you done?

Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 23 January 2021

What's your story?

Do you get those times when you keep hearing the same word?  Or hear the same question?

That's what the last three weeks has been like for me!   What's your story?  What story are you telling?  Whose story are you telling?  Story, story, story!

Eventually it occurred to me that maybe I was supposed to tell my story.  Over the years I have shared snippets here but this time I'm going to be more intentional.

Here's one of the snippets: Telling My Story.

I have been re-reading Between the Stops by Sandi Toksvig.   Roger gave me it for Christmas in 2019.  It's partly a history of areas of London and partly an autobiography.  I like the format and wondered how I could do something similar.

But current restrictions and my lack of going on buses in general scuppered copying the idea.  However as I started to contemplate introducing a project on the ABC of Me to Simply Create, it dawned on me that I could use the alphabet to set up a series of stories.

I have written about the importance of storytelling in a post The Importance of Storytelling for my church's blog in 2019.

Even while I was writing this blog post I received an email from a person I follow, which said Have you heard about my story?

So next Saturday I'm going to launch Saturday Stories or Story Saturday.  Not totally sure of the series title yet.  But I do know I shall start with A.  Or then again, I coud be radical and start with Z.

You'll just have to come back next Saturday to see where I start!

Thanks for joining me today.

Tuesday 19 January 2021


The theme for the photographic group for this month was Patterns.

Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 16 January 2021


I signed up for Lisa Walton's Aurora class at the beginning of December but only started the online class last week.  Rather than dye or paint some fabric I bought some gradient fabric from The Bramble Patch.

As ever, I didn't want my work to look like the tutors so I took the principle of how to cut the fabric and made it long and narrower than Lisa's sample.  Although it is actually wider than I meant it to be.

I have made several unsuccessful attempts at photographing this fabric.  It either comes out black where it's blue or the pale bit in the middle which is a matt finish shines so brightly it's hard to tell what colour it is.  At least it's blue in this one!

Interestingly it is described as black on the Bramble Patch website.

I decided to print onto the fabric using stencils, some fabric paint and acrylic paint.

I started machine quilting.  I tried to follow the lines printed on the fabric.  I forgot to put the walking foot on but I don't think it would have made much difference.

It really doesn't look good up close.  The layers all decided to do their own thing despite the copious amount of Mistyfuse!

At this point Lisa suggests machining with thick thread in the bobbin, then some handstitching.  Currently it's going to sit in the 'I don't why I started this project' pile.

And of course there's always the option to cut it up so that I can cut out all the bits where the fabric pleated!

Thank for joining me today


Tuesday 12 January 2021

Text Sketchbook

At the beginning of December I introduced you to my Text Sketchbook and I thought it would be good to update you on how it's going.

When I went back to it I was unimpressed.  I had wanted the pages to be neutral.  But there's a big difference between neutral and dull.  So I've started doing what I said at the end of that post which is to add orange.

The sketchbook is really thick now and doesn't photograph well. But you can see what I have done!  I've used some of the painted papers I made during the demo videos for Simply Create.

My theme in this sketchbook is walk.  I have returned as ever to walks along the Stratford Canal and included photos from the walks.  Plus I have added words from the Robert Frost poem: The Road Not Taken which I have used in previous work.

And something we all need to do - play!

I hope you have enjoyed looking through my sketchbook.  Lots more to do in it - but it's a marathon not a sprint!  A walk not a run!!!

Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 9 January 2021


I nipped out into the back garden to take some photos.

I remember this poem from my childhood.

Jack Frost by Cecily E. Pike 

Look out! look out!
Jack Frost is about!
He's after our fingers and toes;
And, all through the night,
The gay little sprite
Is working where nobody knows. 

He'll climb each tree,
So nimble is he,
His silvery powder he'll shake;
To windows he'll creep,
And while we're asleep,
Such wonderful pictures he'll make. 

Across the grass
He'll merrily pass,
And change all its greenness to white;
Then home he will go,
And laugh, “Ho! ho! ho!
What fun I have had in the night!”

As I write this blog, there's snow on the ground and it's snowing again.  The pretty sort of snow. It feels like being in one of those snow globes.

Thanks for joining me today.

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Journal 2020

Last time I showed you this year's journal set up and ready to go.  My last update of my 2020 journal was at the beginning of November.  I'm amazed!  I didn't think it was 2 months ago I last shared my pages.  I have shown you the Advent Words pages that feature in the journal.

I am really pleased that I completed the journal.  I don't always!  I quite often run out of steam either in June or September.  But in 2020 I kept going.  Mostly because it did me good to record what I had done on each day.  Lockdowns and restrictions made it feel as though I hadn't achieved anything, but recording what I had done confirmed my achievements.

I tended to fill in my calendar at the end of the month with what actually happened!

I started trying out new layouts and included to do lists

Another monthly calendar

I started filling in the gaps with Christmas images from a sheet of scrapbook paper

I'm not sure how I managed to have a spare Christmas card without an envelope.  Plus we did our cards before the last day to post.  Unheard of!!!

And lastly a handmade card sent to me by my dear friend Suki.

Most of December seems to have been taken up with Simply Create. I've still a few videos to make for it.  This week I'm going to concentrate on monoprinting.

Thanks for joining me today.