Saturday, 30 May 2015

Scrapbooking #BostikBloggers

We have been a bit out of sorts on the crafting front for one reason or another. Little man can get quite determined in his likes and dislikes and crafting has been off the agenda for a little while. However, I decided to try again and bring out our Bostik Bloggers craft box, full of goodies, for our latest theme of scrap-booking.
May-craft-box To bring back some holiday memories, we printed off some images from our trip to Cornwall and set about making a little display for our home education area. We used:

Bostik foam pads
Washi tape
Foam shapes
Coloured paper
Rick Rack
Material scraps
scrapbooking-our-holiday We stuck our pictures onto the card using the Bostik Foam Pads to give a 3D effect and then started to decorate using our lovely box full of embellishments - Washi tape, stickers, foam shapes and some coloured paper to make labels. craftingToby found some blue cellophane that we glued on and with some material scraps we decided to make a little sailing boat. Some thread became the mast pole and some rick rack were the waves.

Finally, we stuck it onto the wall with our cute pink Bostik Blu Tack. Now we have a holiday remainder to talk about and cheer us up on these wet and windy days.

The craft box was provided to me by Bostik as part of the Tots100/Bostik Craft Bloggers Club

Friday, 29 May 2015

Canal side walks and gardens

Middlewich artwork by the canal There's something so idyllic and quintessentially English as being by the canal. Slower paced and friendly with boat owners pottering  and dogs snoozing on the deck. Amidst chitter chatter between people operating the locks, waiting for water levels to change, the birds are tweeting and you're in a microcosm of happiness and canalside beauty. Part of our heritage. By the canal in spring

Thursday, 28 May 2015

A happy home tour

sofa cushions My little home is full of  comforts, it's truly homely with lots of blankets and cushions, two dogs usually snoring and a vanilla candle always burning. There's quite a mix of colours around the house, from having a very beige and minimalistic taste in my twenties, my thirties became an explosion of colour, of collecting and eclectic style.

A map canvas for my home

In the home I love items that reflect my personality, my likes and my aspirations. Surrounding myself in home-ware that's expressive cheers me up and as I spend a lot of time at home, personal items feel comforting and inspiring. I have a bit of a fascination with maps and have several around the house - vintage ones, historical ones and even a book map that is a fantastical book version of London. An old map of Cheshire hangs on my landing detailing all the old place names and the heraldry of the landowners and I have a small map of Bristol in the shape of a bird which is a souvenir of happy memories in a favourite city. Being creative with maps suits my style and I think they look great in any room. Wallpapered produce custom printed wall coverings and canvases with a focus on maps, a true delight for the cartophile like me.

 Follow Happy Homebird's board Maps on Pinterest.

I ordered a map canvas of a special place that I've even considered moving to. The beautiful historic market town of Ludlow  in Shropshire where we go every year to the atmospheric castle and the Medieval fayre. The castle was once home to Richard III so it's my history obsession too. And here it is..... a super canvas printed in UV-resistant inks and on a sturdy, thick canvas box frame that is conveniently ready to hang.
Ludlow canvas map
Ludlow town in Shropshire

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Playing gooseberry

A goosegog at my allotment
The gooseberries at my allotment are fattening up, ready for mid-June gooseberry picking for fools, crumbles, tart and sour. Making jams, jellies, pies, chutneys, ice cream and wines. Quite a versatile fruit really.

With plenty of folklore and sayings:
'born under a gooseberry bush' - where your mum told you, you were born
'playing gooseberry',  - being the spare part to a couple
'going gooseberry'  - stealing clothes off a washing line!
'great gooseberry season' - when there not much news to report in the papers

On the Isle of Wight, there is a fairy called the Gooseberry Wife who appears as a woolly caterpillar and guards the fruits.

Also called a goosegog in some parts.

In a quaint Cheshire village, close to me - Goostrey, is the annual gooseberry championships where growers battle it out for the heaviest gooseberry. How they get them so plump is a guarded secret and each grower has his own mysterious concoction that they are fed with.

 The Photo Gallery theme is macro this week. 

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

The Alphabet Project: T is for Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Tweedledum and Tweedledee badges
They agreed to have a battle until the monstrous crow swooped in.

The famous illustrations of the Tweedle brothers by John Tenniel on a badge collection at a little Alice in Wonderland gem of a place I found in the Cheshire countryside (story to follow soon)

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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

MyPhotoSchool's Introduction to Wildlife Photography Course

Since I started blogging my love of photography has increased every year. I try and learn more and more about how to take a decent shot and learn more about my camera. At this moment it is a Canon bridge camera with plans to purchase a DSLR later this year.

One of my favourite photography subjects are animals, large ones, small ones, tiny ones. Pets, zoo animals, creatures under rocks in the garden or buzzing from flower to flower at the allotment. Trying to get as close as possible for a macro picture or creeping up on a butterfly before it flies away - all good fun but I wanted to know more.

The MyPhotoSchool Introduction to Wildlife Photography Course can help you with the insights required to capture a great nature shot. Over 4 weeks, industry professional Heather Angel covers all aspects to help you improve and learn the techniques that will provide the most assistance in becoming an improved wildlife photographer.

Summertime Interior Designs

I know that spring is the time of year when I like to get sprucing up at home with a makeover or two. However, it is in the summer that I tend to sit back and think about the ways in which I'd really like to redesign on a grander scale. Okay, so not every idea that I have designs on sees it to fruition, but there is something about the summer which gets those creative juices flowing. If you are anything like me, then it is the feeling of everything being easier and more relaxed outside in the summertime which you want to bring indoors and incorporate as part of the home's d├ęcor.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A bookshop by the sea - Sunday Snap

book shop by the sea

A short walk away from the busy boat filled Tenby Harbour, leaving the pastel fronted terraces behind along with the screeching seagulls, is a secret little bookshop. Down a ginnel, past wooden doorways, an old rustic sign and down some steps by a Tudor house.


Here are books of every type, stacked high and in no order, who knows what you will find.................?

Cofion book shop Tenby books

Sunday Snap

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Living History Festivals and why they are so good!

Recently we went to the Living History Fayre in Chester, a wonderful event at St John the Baptist Church. A meeting of re-enactors covering all different historical periods from World War II to the Napoleonic Wars and the Roman era.
Many tents had been set up around the church with displays and living history camps representing soldiers from England, Russia and Germany. Inside the church were armour displays around the Saxon stone crosses, musicians playing whilst home-made cake was offered and members of the Napoleon contingent :) The detail throughout the fayre is extremely authentic and you can immerse yourself in these bygone times, what better way for children to learn. There is so much to see but it was fairly quiet! Why, why, why!? For a Sunday afternoon in Chester this should have been buzzing. There were characters such as an old bobby on the beat walking around the city to tell people and there were certainly plenty milling around but alas the church was quiet. As a lover of history this made me a little sad, so I'm here to tell you how amazing Living History events are and why you should go to one if you have the chance.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Where is summer?

Crab apple blossom So.....what on earth is happening with the weather? Hail stone this week, a lit fire, a thick cardigan and a bowl of wintery style soup. From being sat outside last week and potting on all my pumpkins, courgettes and artichokes under a warm buzzy insect and fluttery butterfly sky, I am now hiding inside looking out the rainy windows willing the sun to come back.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Gallery: Landscape

As I travel about the UK, it always amazes me how the landscape changes from area to area quite dramatically at times. From moorland with heathers and gorse by rocky outcrops, to the dune slacks we found recently in Cornwall. But my personal favourite landscape is rolling green hills intersected by hedgerows, trickling streams and tree lines. An undulating carpet of green that has tales to tell amongst the hamlets and farms dotted about.

{Clun, Shropshire. Go here for castle ruins, walks to Offa's Dyke and an annual Green Man festival}

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

The Alphabet Project: S is for stained glass

Gloucester Cathedral Great East window
Dates from the 1350's following the burial of Edward II

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Last week was R is for Richard III

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

West Country Ales: Sunday Snap

West-country-ales sign Black-Lion-Pub-Hereford

A familiar ceramic plaque in the West Country, adorning public houses.  Installed in the late 50's/60's these castle logos commemorate the breweries' beginnings in the 18th century.

This was in the cathedral city of Hereford, famous for the Mappa Mundi, a medieval map of the world.

The pub is the Black Lion, Hereford's most haunted building, a 16th century timber structure with a fair few spooks gusting around its nooks and crannies. It certainly looks the part and I'd be there in a shot for a evening of ghost hunting.

Sunday Snap

The churchyard cat

Delamere-Church-CheshireA peaceful encounter with a tabby cat in a churchyard. He did not see me at first. Both of us enjoying the afternoon birdsong and solitude. I watched him nodding off by a gravestone, those sleepy feline eyes slowly shutting, not a care in the world........tabby-in-the-churchyard

Monday, 18 May 2015

A Northern Rose laundry room

I am a big fan of British companies, so Graham & Brown is one that I am well acquainted with and I've loved their wallpaper designs for a long time. Since 1946 the company has produced great wallpaper prints that have adorned and brought style into our homes. I was pleased to be asked recently to become a brand ambassador for Graham & Brown and I'm absolutely loving looking through their great range of interior products, One of their classic prints is Northern Rose, a glorious baby blue and pink floral treat, a colour combination that is one of my favourites.

Using the Northern Rose wallpaper as a basis, I have put together my dream laundry room, a utility area that if you are lucky to have, can become a messy area. However, if I were indeed lucky enough to have a room such as this, you can be sure I would be decorating and dressing that room as more of a feature than forgotten.

Chesterfield sofa style and history

There are some furniture pieces that stand the test of time: the Eames chair, the Louis Ghost Chair, a solid oak Welsh dresser and the Chesterfield sofa to name just a few. The latter was a piece I grew up with; dark burgundy leather with deep buttons and firm sides. It sat in my parent's living room from long before I was born until many years later and lasted the antics of two children and various pets. Hard wearing and beautifully made.

Chesterfield sofas are a traditional British icon, a vintage style treasure but where did they originate? Long associated with gentleman's clubs, of rich aristocrats sat conversing over a brandy and business deals being made. One of the thoughts around the sofa's origin is a story around the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope (1694-1773). It is thought that the Earl, a man of great taste, requested a chair to be made with a low seat, firm sides, arms and back of the same height and one which would not cause men's clothes to crease. The final chair was made into what we know today as the design icon with the deep set buttons, the Chesterfield!There is no evidence to substantiate this but it could very well be a true tale as after all there are usually some grains of truth in folklore.

These elegant chairs once graced just the stately homes and clubs of the wealthy but in modern times, the superbly crafted sofas are a home design item for all to enjoy. I love the classic feel of them but with some modern twists, so perhaps some bright cushions mixed in with an English heritage feel. With many colours available and the option of using a bright velvet or fabric, a true statement piece could be created for your home.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mix up the magic - Tuff Spot play

Part of our regular play is using our fabulous Tuff Spot, a huge plastic mixing tray that can be used for all kinds of imaginative and messy play. I keep Toby interested by changing the theme and using lots of different materials and textures. This week we had a farm set up where tractors and cows crunched around in pasta and a dog came along and ate the dried pasta (silly old girl) whilst a little boy fell about laughing and sat in the pasta.

10 ways to get fit if you love history

I love history. I do not love exercise as much. I need to though, I want the family to be fit and healthy so how about being creative and combining the two?
10 ways for the history lover to get fit

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Alphabet Project: R is for Richard III

I mean what else could R stand for to me this year. I am a Ricardian.

The picture is of Leicester Cathedral on the evening that Richard III's mortal remains were taken there to be re-interred. The statue in the foreground is of Richard holding his crown aloft.

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May gardens bring tulips

I took some time to escape to the gardens up the road, to catch the tulips before they went over and catch the afternoon's sun.  I was worried I might have missed the tulips in all their elegant glory but I was lucky; they were still blooming and the display was full of  clashing oranges and pinks with purples and maroons.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015


Sea gulls
Such a cheeky bird. I love them for their sheer bolshiness. 
For their attempts to pinch your ice cream cone and their confident strut towards you.

Museums at Night

Whilst I was a student at the University of Liverpool in my mid twenties, I was a volunteer at the World Museum and there started my love of these amazing treasuries. In fact, no, that is a lie, it goes further back. The love started aged around 7 at Manchester Museum which was one of the few places that I was taken to on family outings and also my primary school used to take a coach load of us there quite frequently.

I adored mummies, dinosaurs and Lindow Man. One of the many streams of interest in my life that still remains today which shows how amazing museums are and taking your kids there could really create a lasting impression. It did with me.  Great memories and a bit of a macabre fascination with bones and preserved bodies. 

Monday, 11 May 2015

Battlefield 1403

Battle of Shrewsbury Hotspurs side Coat of ArmsOne of my favourite days out is to the site of the Battle of Shrewsbury that took place in 1403. Battlefields are places of great heritage to us and I think it is wonderful when for the majority they are preserved and not threatened with housing developments. Battlefield Heritage Park is one such place that is preserving a unique location, promoting learning and a place to discover our history.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Trebah Gardens, Cornwall

Trebah-gardens-bridge Back to Cornwall again. Soothing my post holiday blues by revisiting places through my pictures. Trebah Gardens, near Falmouth, is a beautiful wooded valley with colourful flowering rhododendrons and azalea like paint splashes as you walk your way down to the secluded beach nestled at the end of the

Monday, 4 May 2015

Farm jigsaw and sticker book review

Farm-puzzle-and-sticker-book A certain little boy loves farms and Old Macdonald had a farm sends him skipping around the room. To encourage his concentration skills I decided our morning activity would be to look at a Farm Jigsaw and Sticker Book by My Little World.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Perranporth Beach

Perranporth-Beach The first stop of the holiday in Cornwall, Perranporth Beach. Just a few other people around and about, so really it felt like we had the broad expanse of sands to ourselves. Past Chapel Rock and the stream of water that runs across the sands we walked towards the shoreline and took in the wonderful coastal views.