Exposed.

image

I’m sure you can all think of an area of your life that you prefer to keep as hallowed, sacred ground.  You don’t want others trampling about and nosing through it, offering advice and worse still- judgement.  I’m sure some of these areas are private, guarded and sacrosanct to you.

I’m quite open about most things but there’s one area that I guard quite closely.  I have a deep longing to be a professional writer- even saying that makes me cringe- I have said too much already… But, it has to be said-because this year I am determined to step out there and write, out there in the sunshine! Without wanimageting to sound grandiose, i’ve lurked in the shadows long enough.  I’ve peeped at others’ blogs; poured over another’s short stories and rampaged through someone else’s novel. I now feel -in the words of the great Cindy Lauper (if they were her words!?)- that it’s time to show my true colours.

I’m going to go a step further… I am an English teacher.  Everyone loves to correct a teacher.  I mean can you think of anything more satisfying than knowing better than a teacher at school?  Well some people carry this on into adulthood.

“Spell supercalifradgilisticexpialidosious then” a grocer once ordered in a deep, mocking tone over my half-pound of cherries. Ha, in your face – just did ( alright I googled it)  Or, “bet you don’t teach grammar like they did when I was a kid”, a scoffing, middle-aged, man accused, over his pint of Hobgoblin at the pub I worked in to fund my social life- I mean-studies.

'How does one correct this?' 'Get yourself a girlfriend.'

So, you see, it isn’t easy to just pop a piece in the post to a publisher (especially without an agent-yawn) or post it on amazon for the kindle world to ignore.  I am truly setting myself up with this.  Indeed, every other category on this blog will feel like a breezy day in Brighton compared to logging on and uploading my own pieces of (sob) soul.

O.k I mock a little. I’m using humour to defend myself.  See its started, i’m defensive. Wait ’til the comments section starts pinging up on that stats page thingy and someone called Bill from: ‘blogginginmybath’, says, ‘that’s a bit shit love’.

Well Bill, (trying not to imagine him in the bath) , thank you for taking the time to comment but you see I can’t worry about you, or the grocer, or the punter at the pub, or the publishers or the (catching yawn) ruddy agents, because Bill…I have to write. If I don’t have a go at writing to an actual audience then how will I ever feel I lived this life to its fullest, richest and bravest potential – and Bill I don’t give one if that isn’t grammatically correct.  I hated David ‘sodding’ Crystal’s book anyway.

Now, one could argue that you do not need an audience to write, and this is true of course, but to share what you do is a natural progression of the creative.  It isn’t fame that most artists and writers seek- it is acceptance.  Though for some it is even simpler.

In the woimagerds of Sylvia Plath – “I write because there is a voice within me that will not be still.” You see, writing is cathartic.  It is an outlet for those dark thoughts and whimsical ideas we all nurse.

I already feel stronger.  One page of a blog and I am a little braver than when I started.  So, that, my friends is it.  From now on I am an open book, and that’s a metaphor Bill – way more interesting than grammar – so up your over-bathed bottom.

imageXX

Crocheting the night away!

Ok, so I know it isn’t the most rock’n’roll way to spend a Saturday night and the fact that many may see it as rather an old-fashioned pursuit but personally I can’t think of anything more relaxing than holed up in a cosy caravan/cottage/hut or house crocheting away, line-after- line of loveliness. Or square-after-comforting-square. I am a new crocheter and we are the most zealous. I could bore you with the details of my latest projects and I’m going to …

So, remember I said a dear friend introduced me to crochet- well I needed more guidance-when I was all alone and in danger of frustration from not being able to remember the things she taught me -so she recommended ‘crochet school’ – the name appealed to the teacher in me -a great place to visit on you tube for LOTS of videos on how to do everything from a slip-stitch to a whole afghan. It has been invaluable as a reference, go-to guide, on all the stitches and techniques.

Inspiration is a different thing. You can have ‘all the gear and no idea’ my sister says.  So, you need somewhere to go to get the motivation -and again -that heart-lift moment! I found bags of it (excuse the pun) at Attic 24.  Lucy takes you through her projects with such enthusiasm and verve you are left dying to try out her ideas and patterns.  Dying to try out a crochet pattern? Yes. Visit that Attic and I defy you not to buy an 8 pack of chunky, rainbow yarn!

Well I did buy a pack of chunky yarn and I am still finishing her beautiful ‘Jolly Chunky Bag’ .  You can see my efforts so far here.

IMG_0791      IMG_0760

I am new to this and it was surprisingly easy. It is also a great project for learning the techniques, changing colour, in the round, edging and appliqués.  Very satisfying. You can see it isn’t finished yet- I will show you when I’m done! Meanwhile, I’d suggest looking at Lucy’s pattern on Attic 24 to see how it’s done properly!

Often it’s effective, for the sake of variety, to do more than one thing at time and so I am also experimenting with granny squares and a shell blanket, of which I shall update you in due course.  If you are contemplating a granny-square blanket then take a look at the join-as-you-go methods- these are useful if you are a bit impatient to get on with the good, heart-singing, bits you like best!

My first attempts at joining granny squares and indeed granny squares at all…

image

Sorry for for the blurry (atmospheric?! ) photograph -the photos will improve! At the moment I’m just glad to be able to do this at all – I plan to have beautiful photographs as times goes on- something I love to see on others’ articles and blogs.

I’m off to do some serious hooking.

X

2014 -hindsight is a wonderful thing!

imageimage

2014.

When one year passes I like to think about the headlines from the previous year, for me, 2014 was an unusually calm, creative time.

I’m only recently realising that it has taken me a long time to wind down…from a full-time teaching job in a London school; a big wedding; house-move; my first baby and then a toddler… and a second baby for good measure – it is not surprising really.

I learnt to crochet in 2014 thanks to a dear, very creative, friend and this has really helped me to relax. It is very meditative and I got much more from it than I expected. I am now quite a frequent visitor of sites and blogs about crochet and have made a bag to hold all the wool I keep buying-made out of wool -naturally!

We also bought a caravan, so that we could stay overnight near our (heart-lift) beach hut and because we are useless at booking holidays, this is a very good way forward for us, plus I got all the pleasure of decorating it with fun seaside interiors- that for the first time-I felt I could use authentically!

Last year,  I had a 1 year old turning 2 and 4 year old turning 5 -so two cakes were also in order – pictures above! I say made. I had to cheat a bit, as my children are born a week apart, to make the cakes and ice them to the ‘very’ specific requests of a Lego Star Wars and rabbit theme was a bit of an undertaking. As it was, I had to retreat for a whole weekend to complete all the little figures and Lego pieces!

So, I took the advice of a friend who had noticed I always baked them myself and bought Madeira sponge in various sizes and shapes this time- and I was free and happy to fiddle with fondant to my hearts’ content!

Fondant is a joy to play around with: the texture and colours- play-do -for grown-ups! The best bit, is the reaction I get from my little boy when he sees his birthday cake and, eyes-wide, asks, ‘can I really eat all of that? -the bits on top too?’ He asks the same question every year and I always smile and say yes and then it all feels so very worth it.

It can be frustrating working with fondant icing – when you have a clear idea of the end product but it won’t come together. This is usually because I lack the right tools (yes, I know a bad carpenter and all that!) but it is true with fondant! It is temperamental. If it’s too warm it gets sloppy and sticky, too cool and it won’t flex and splits. It needs gentle, barely-there touches and clever techniques. Saying that,  I’ve gotten by as an amateur up to now -but probably made everything so very much harder for myself!

I was bought a lovely set of tools for Christmas and so 2015’s cakes will be a breeze i’m sure! “A life-sized Elsa and a Turtle that speaks mandarin you say?” No problem, I have a fondant starter pack.

Hello!

IMG_1661 Well, I didn’t think i’d be doing this! The thought of sharing my life with the world via a medium like blogging was (and still is) a little alien to me.

I am an 80s child.  I grew up writing the old- fashioned way, diaries, and such like. Facebook was a glint in Mark Zuckerberg’s Dad’s eye.  I remember the Sega Mastersystem my sister brought home was like something from ‘Brave New World’ and the old Atari was never  dusted off again. Poor ‘Pong’.  Yet, here I am. I am writing due to a series of events that led me to the point where I knew I wanted to share and develop my ideas, passions and interests with others and benefit from the fuzziness of collaboration.  I am a team-player, but, like doing quite solitary things.  So, I love to read novels, write fiction, crochet, create beautiful things for my home, bake, garden and generally create.

I also want to discover more about what makes my heart sing- a phrase I picked up from an inspirational speaker last year.  The context being, if we are looking for the right path to take then a good place to start is with what makes the heart sing, in other words, the things that give us that lift, the fluttery, excited, noone get in my way “i’m doing this feeling”.  Since I have had my two children I am way more aware of how to tap into things to make my heart float, as time for myself has become a premium, I don’t want to spend it zombied out in front of the box watching repeats or on ahem…Facebook.  I want to make it count.  I want room to find my creative paths.

Some of these glorious past-times are incredibly fulfilling, rewarding and relaxing, but, would be infinitely better if they could be shared and enjoyed with others.  To me, the book-group concept is the perfect illustration of this.  To get the pleasure of cutting  off from the world with a great novel, taken off to another world in a calm, solitary blissfulness, yet, you can come back again and dissect it all with others who have been there too! That’s my ideal.

Indeed, i’ve decided 2015 is going to be ‘my year’.  I have made some resolutions…1. Start a blog (da, da) 2. Write more (I am working on a number of stories for children but paradoxically having children makes it near on impossible to find the time to write anything for them) 3. Join a ‘good’ book group (i’ll tell you about my book group disasters later!) 4. Finish my first crochet blanket (fair-play to 2014 it brought crochet into my world).  5.  Enjoy my time at our much desired, much coveted, picture-perfect, blue and white beach hut on the south-east coast.  (I haven’t enjoyed it fully up to now, of which i’ll be telling you more about later too).

So, with one resolution now in the bag and feeling a little bit smug… i’ll leave you with a quote that sums up the reason for my new season… Do what you love. Do what makes your heart sing and never do it for the money. Go to work and spread joy -Marianne Williamson – ‘Return to Love’.