Tuesday, 6 December 2016

And yet more baubles

Two posts for the price of one,  that is because I forgot to publish the other on the night I wrote it.

Much has happened since the other post, like 6 more baubles, and 7 cards,  plus two birthday cards.  Today I tidied up my craft table,  all the Christmas stuff is back in the box,   craft mat cleaned,  all tools cleaned and put away.  Wonder how long it will stay tidy...  !   In the meantime, hows about this for a weird looking polar bear?  He has now been modified, smaller nose and eye.

Snowflake was a lot better.  Both are from a Hobbycraft kit,  half price!  I added a few other bits,  like silver strips and glittery faux brads.  The only glue I had at this point was the collal 3D glue,  so had to make do. 

The second snowflake card,   a bit different from the above.  Sadly the kit only came with two glitter snowflakes, so had to improvise.  I had the disc, and after a dig round the Christmas box of stash,  I found a snowflake.   I covered both in embossing powder,  and glued into place.  A good save,  well I thought so.

Another bauble.  I wanted to use up a lot of the Christmas stash,  and avoid having to buy anything.  The only new thing on here was the all gold gilding flakes.  A good bargain from ebay, nice big pot too!    I used some clarity doubled sided sticky clear sheets.   Managed not to lose any flakes along the way. 

On the other side is: embossing powder, a double layer.  I masked off the middle bit, then did it in stages, gold first then the red.  Rest are just peel offs. 

Another bauble,  but with different gilding flakes, had these for ages, but then they do last for ages.    I put ribbon and glittery bits round the side.   I did think of putting the date, well they are for a mass Xmas swap, but,  it all seemed like too much work.   No, don't think that I couldn't be bothered, my anxiety was rising, so felt it best to just stick to the simple stuff.  Putting dates and names would have meant finding numbers, letters,   I knew I had them, but wasn't sure if I had enough of the right size. 

Anxiety is a funny, but horrible thing.  I have to remember not to put any pressure on myself.   So these days life has to be more relaxed,  I have to tell myself that a job can wait for another couple of days.    I know why it happens, but if I explained this would be a very, very long blog post.  

The same was happening on Sunday night,  me getting wound up for no reason.   My cousin messaged me to say she'd come over for a catch up.  And so what do I do, start worrying if I have enough time to get the place tidy, and do a few other things.  Well the other stuff could wait, but I found myself thinking I had to get it all done.  Daft,  once I'd calmed down,  stepped back a little I felt better,  and of course everything, pretty much, that needed to be done has been done. 

This year I have put up some decorations, not much, just a tree and a few other bits.  Last year I just couldn't be bothered, although I did get a teeny, tiny real tree from Tesco.   This year it is the half tree, but in a different place from where it used to go.    Got some presents to wrap and get in the post, plus all the cards and baubles,  just printed off the labels.  Hands are so sore at the moment,  really stiff,  my middle finger has been swollen for a while, I wear a signet ring on that finger, and usually it is loose, but right now it is a bit snug.  Plus the cold weather hasn't been helping matters,  the forecast is for some mild weather,   let's hope it lasts.   

Now off for to do a diary entry.   Take it easy.

Oh baubles!

Evening, yes, another long gap between posts.  Just the usual stuff happening,  and having to wrap up warm! 

Anyways, since the finish of the Travellers Rest,  I had other stuff to do.  First I had to sort out and make my November swap, which...   well I stuffed up first time round, cos of a slight misunderstanding.   And then had to figure out how to make 8 baubles,  so it was off to Hobbycraft.  I got lucky, these were half price,  I thought they would be perfect for the task.  I then had to locate thinking cap,  and come up with a few ideas.  Then I had to find the Xmas stash, in a box and stored somewhere safe...  I had a good old rummage around the rest of the stash, now stored in various places.  Found embossing powders, a good start, then my versamark, great, heat gun, yep,  ideas, still looking.

Finally I had a few ideas to play with, all with the help of a few Xmas peel offs.  So,  the idea was to decorate both sides, but slightly differently.  This first one got the red treatment,  I first masked off the top bit, and dabbed it with the versamark then sprinkled it with gold embossing powder.  Once that was cooled down,  I masked off the gold, and did the same thing, only this time I used the red tinsel embossing powder.  Lovely jubbly,  I went round the edge with some silver embossing powder.

Then I flipped over the bauble, I cut out a peel off,  it was a Christmas candle, but it was an oval shape, and was a bit too big, but cut down, perfick.  I stuck that onto some double sided clarity sheets,  then with the backing paper, I placed it onto the bauble, trimmed off the edge.

Then I added some rose gold gilding flakes.  Looking good, yes?   Well I think so.  I could have used perfect pearls, or even glitter, but just fancied the gilding flakes.

So, now I have back covered in embossing powder, and the front with a nice peel off and gilding flakes.  Let's go back to the back!

I can't leave it plain, so more peel offs,  some left over stars, and the Happy Christmas,  with a sprig of holly,  that will do nicely.  Will add date as well, but on the side.  Phew... 7 more to go!   Some will have the nativity scene, others will feature the usual Christmas suspects, snowmen etc.

I still had the swap card to make.  The challenge was to interpret a sketch,  except I just read 'sketch', and thought I could use one of my own sketches.  Eventually I realised my mistake,  and luckily before any real work was done.  So, how to interpret the sketch, it had four triangles down one side, a circle and a few lines...    Come on girl, you can do this.   Yes, but have I any cardstock?   Ooer, seem to remember giving a lot away, got to be some round here somewhere. 

And breathe.   Yes, she did it!  She made an actual card.  I did find a card kit that hadn't been used, so I had some decent card stock.  I have card, but what I didn't have was anything heavy enough to turn into the card base.  So got that far, what next, matting and layering, why not.  Nice bit of light purple, or mauve,  some white card... all a bit plain.  Hang about, there is some bubble wrap over there, now where are those sprays I had..  Gotcha,  purple, blue and vivid green,  then, plonk, onto white card, then off.  Some glossy black card, cut a strip, then using long scissors, randomly cut a few triangles, punch out cirlce from lovely blue glittery stuff, and a strip.  Zat, methinks, will do it.  Phew.  Also got a few birthday cards to make,  time to use up that kit!

Actually the cold weather has meant that my Raynauds has been really bad,  wasn't too bad last year, it only affected me when I went out.  Now it is affecting me in the house, not funny.  Now must go, skype call coming through.  Have a good week.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Just strumming...

Hi there, it is a tad cold round these here parts.  Got my thermal socks on, jumper...   not yet resorted to gloves.  
Have you spotted Harvey's new sleeping space?  Yep, atop of my printer,  well, why not?   Honestly,  why do cats choose the silliest places to sleep?   He is on the mend,  he had a flea problem, but wouldn't let me near him with the 'spot on', so got a collar,  but he was also allergic to the fleas so had a few 'sores',  and so I got some cat tea tree cream, which he likes and is doing the trick nicely.

To the pub, no the miniature pub...   Started the roofing last Friday.  I took the tiles slightly over the edge,  but it worked out nicely.  I used some grey card,  sadly it wasn't the right colour I wanted for the tiles but it would do as a base.  After the tiles were on, I gave it a coat of flat grey emulsion and left it to dry thoroughly for twenty four hours. 

Then, a few days later it all looked like this!  Still got some 'distressing' to do on the roof, but the pavement is done,  filled in a few gaps round the steps,  then had to carefully apply some paint, using the smallest brush I have.  Then it was a case of a bit of tidying up,  oh and sorting out the chimney.

The chimney was provided with the nobbly covering, so I had to really focus on the ageing,  I also added a couple of little 'pots'.  It is now finished!   Used lots of bits on the pavement, grass, sand and 'leaves', then just kept on dabbing on various browns till I felt happy with how it looked.  I sanded the pavement down in a few places, to make it look worn.   Very happy with the result. 

I've been watching lots of 'how to' videos on line, but not of mini houses, rather how to build your own guitar!  No, not planning to,  it is rather specialised, and you need a bit of woodworking experience, plus muscle power.  I also watched a few videos of how to repair guitars, which I think may be useful, stuff like how to keep your guitar in good order,  just some maintenance stuff. And how to check the action, or the string height. 

And here it is, my guitar, looks very smart.  And it sounds lovely.  I checked the 'action' and it is spot on,  not bad for a supposedly 'cheap' guitar.  I have changed the strings,  I was finding the steel strings very difficult,  and wasn't able to practice for long. So did a bit of research and found that if you get silk/steel strings, they are easier on the fingers.  So I invested in a set, and it is bliss!   I can now practice for up to ten minutes at a time, still need to build up the callouses on the fingers, but with these strings it is so much easier.  I've now mastered three chords,  doesn't sound like much, but I'm chuffed.   When I took the old strings off I gave the fretboard a bit of TLC, it felt a bit dry, so just dabbed on some almond oil, one chap said he used it on his guitars, some use linseed, others said they liked lemon oil, while quite a few used some professional product that seemed to cost an arm and a leg.  Nah, used the almond oil, the fretboard came up a treat.   I now know all the bits of the guitar,  frets, fretboard,  nut, bridge and saddle...  and watched a lady bring a very old guitar back to life.  It was fascinating to watch,  the neck was broken, the body had a few cracks,  the finish needed to be stripped back and replaced, it had no bridge, so she had to make on,  she also had to get some tuners made,  that was because it was so old the measurements were different.  She also French polished it,  which is quite a skill, something my uncle used to do.  The guitar turned out to be over a hundred years old,  but she managed to restore it, and at the end she played it,  it sounded wonderful.  

I'm very happy with my guitar, it isn't a full size guitar, and I am relieved it isn't.  It  had occured to me that I might not be able to hold a full sized guitar,  not with the back and neck issues.  So my guitar is a 3 quarter model, and is perfect for me, doesn't put any strain on me.  I had been advised to buy a 'name',  but they cost a lot of money,  yes they are worth it, but I needed to know if I could manage to play, and more importantly will keep it up.  Besides the entry level 'name' guitars are okay, but if you do get into playing, then you are probably better paying over a hundred quid and getting something really decent.   I also looked at a few videos which examined what they call 'chibsons', or the Chinese copies of the Gibson guitar, and boy are those 'Chibsons' rather ropey.  Poor materials,  low quality electrics,  some even arrive broken, oh they look like the real thing, but they're not.  A few folk spend a bit of money and do end up with a half decent guitar, but I feel for anyone who falls for these fakes.  But it is worth doing some research before you buy a guitar,  and don't feel pressured into buying something really expensive if it is your first guitar.  And if those steel strings hurt, then switch to the Martin, low tension silk/steel strings,  you'll love them,  and look on ebay, they'll be far cheaper. 

So me and the cat...  well he is much happier, more his old self now.   As for me, still in pain, lots of it.  A pity I can't just put on a velvet collar and make it all go away,  much easier for cats.  At least Harvey will soon be a flea free zone. 

Bye for now.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Whizz, bang and numpties

Evening,  it is a bit on the chilly side tonight.  Even Harvey has opted to stay in,  although he has had a short evening stroll tonight.  It's okay,  he never ventures far, he's not shut out,  he never is,  and as soon as the numpties start letting off their fireworks he comes back home.  I've never understood the appeal in wandering around on a cold night letting off fireworks,  it is a very expensive way to have fun.  

The Travellers rest has really come on this week.

The front facade was a bit tricky,  it wouldn't set straight.  Couldn't think of how to prop it up, then,  boing, the elastic bands!  So I put them round the whole thing, then made sure the front facade was sitting snug agaist the rest of the house,  then used a couple of books to act as a weight - success!   I'd already 'laid' the pavement, some air dried clay,  and then I pressed the pavement mold into it.  Next bit was to 'age' it, different bits of paint, sand, grass is next..   then some added wear and tear.

This front view lets you see that archway,  all timbered, and paved.  I think I spent the most time on that bit.  The stone steps came with the kit,  all I needed to do was paint them.  I didn't use white paint on the house, but a very light cream,  white is too stark and I wanted the pub to look old, which is why the timbers are pale brown.   The next step is to tile the roof, and fix the chimney into place.  I'll then need to turn my attention to some Xmas cards! 

I've also got a parcel coming tomorrow... a guitar!   I said that I was  hankering after one,  well I'd looked on ebay, there were quite a few bargains to be had, but I wasn't sure if I wanted second hand or new.  Then I had to consider how much I wanted to spend,  I had thought of one which was £70, a good guitar and boy was I tempted, but I resisted.  On Tuesday I had a look in a couple of second hand shops, they only had either the really cheap stuff, or electric.  Then I had a long think, did I really want to spend a lot of money,  what if I got bored...  so went back on line,  now I was looking for something in the £40-£50 bracket, a beginners kit preferably.  And finally I found one,  checked up on the sellers,  found some very good reviews for the guitars,  they'd also uploaded some videos to YouTube, so I could hear the guitar, it had a nice sound.  So after a cuppa and a little more deliberation,  I checked to see how much I had saved, almost £30, the guitar package was £44,  so I bought it.   That was yesterday, and it will arrive tomorrow!  Just the treat I'll need as I am also off to see the specialist about my back,  which has been giving me hell all week.  Tuesday was the worst, didn't think a very short wander between two second hand shops would be too much, but it was.  So I've had to rest up a little,  which gave me time to check and double check the location of the hospital. The appointment is at 5pm,  so going to hit rush hour - groan.   It is a straightforward route, just have to hope that it isn't too manic. 

Well I have a diary entry to do, then a bit more ukulele practice. 

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Shiver me timbers... !!

I'm looking forward to my extra hour in bed, it will make up for the hour I lost due to Harvey demanding to go out this morning! 

So,  timbers made from grungeboard, all cut out, and with a few coats of paint.  Started with a light brown, then used a Mocha.  I don't think I did too bad a job.  Tried to just keep it simple,  it is for the back of the pub, which has no windows, so I could ignore those bits.   Next task was to glue it into place.

Ta dah!  Luckily I spotted that it had shifted slightly when I put on the elastic bands, so I was able to ease it over.  The little archway is now looking the business.  It was the fiddliest bit, well so far,  it has needed a lot of 'dressing', by that I mean adding sand, grass bits, and will be adding a few leaves. 

Next job, to glue the side bits into place.  Cue pegs...   and elastic bands.   Then scramble around looking for the small paintbrush that you have just put down, somewhere! 

While that was drying I decided to...

...have a cuppa, phew, thirsty work this housebuilding.   Then I measured the roof to work out were the rafters went.   Used the tacky glue so they wouldn't then just ping loose when I let go. 

Then, quick slurp of tea, bite head of reindeer...  the Xmas malteaser reindeer, not the real thing.   Very tasty.

Remove pegs, and repeat process on the other side.  All tasks on list completed,  time for dinner.   I also needed to put away some meat I'd bought from the sell by counter,  got four chicken breasts and two nice pieces of casserole steak for £4.10,  bargain or what?   Three chicken breasts would have cost me £4,  so I congratulated myself for the savings.  Love that counter,  found loads of bargains there in the last few weeks.   All the meat went straight into the freezer, except for one chicken breast that I used for my stir fry,  and Harvey had some chicken too.  Can't leave him out,  he loves chicken,  and he had a fair old few morsels tonight.  Then off he went, into the night,  don't worry he can get back in easily if he wishes.  He doesn't go far either,  we've had a few fireworks going off, but he's come back once the bangs start.  He will be kept inside on bonfire night.

Bonfire night also means I can get rid of a few things from the garden, got some old wooden planters that have rotted,  plus an oversized rose bush/tree, it is far too big, so it is coming out.  Think there are some other bits in the shed that can also go on the bonfire.   Would it be possible to also place the entire Tory government on top of a bonfire?    Talk about the blind leading the blind...  not sure any of them know what they are doing, other than avoid answering any questions, or admitting that they have bribed Nissan to stay in the UK. 

I'm also confused, (not that it takes much), but you see they keep telling us that we are a rich country.  So if we are, how come we have so many homeless people,  and why are there families holed forced to live in the most disgusting examples of temporary accommodation.   Also why are people forced to pay sky high rents for rat holes.  Why can't we fund the NHS properly, why have waiting lists increased under this government;  why have they slashed disability benefits?  Oh and why do we need foodbanks?   Just wondering, cos I would have thought that a rich country could afford to build decent homes for all,  fund the NHS,  and and that there would be no need for foodbanks...   Funny how we can afford nuclear weapons, money to bribe companies to stay here,  to pay the extortionate MP expenses bill, and hand over millions to a very rich family for cutting the odd ribbon.  Mmm...  see anything wrong with this picture? 

Well the guitar fund is growing,  I've narrowed down my choice of guitar.  I was looking at some buying guides and reviews on Youtube, plus listening to how the various guitars sound.  They all warned against going cheap, which I'd worked out for myself,  so need to be spending around the £100 plus mark, for new, or less than that for second hand.  Don't mind the preloved stuff, after all, Harvey was a preloved cat!   Last night he fell off the bed during a mammoth washing session...   this morning as I was reading my paper he decided he wanted to sit on my lap, so plonked himself down in the middle of the paper,  and he spent part of the morning outside howling at another cat - at that point I disowned him. 

Now I must go feed him, again... he is like a bottomless pit.  Back soon with more pub updates.  Enjoy Halloween, and be careful when parking your broomstick!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Got it covered!

Evening,  it's a bit chilly here, even Harvey has been snuggling on my knee.  Glad that I got the duvet out of storage.    And I'm using some lavender smelling washing liquid,  it is such a beautiful aroma. 

So pub update,  it is nearly open for business!  I have now stuck the whole thing together.  This was on Monday,  lots of elastic bands were needed to hold things together.  Nice of the postie to drop them around the road.  No idea why they need to drop them.. 

So after it was all dry,  it was then time to cover it with the air dry clay, or filler, the choice was mine.  Went with the clay, just find it easier.  So this is the front, now looking a lot neater after some trimming and sanding.   I went round into the door frames, just to give a neater finish.  Now it needs to be painted,  which I would have done today, but needed to just add a bit more clay here and there.  So while that was drying, I had something to cut out...

The timber frame for the rear of the pub.  It didn't come with one, so I have had to make my own.  I thought about using card, but didn't have anything thick enough, so I went for grungeboard.  I used the front piece of timber frame as a template, but of course for the back I didn't need the window or door frames, so I could make it up as I went along.   It was also easy to cut thank goodness, and best of all - it fits!   I've now started to paint it,  it will need a few coats, so I'm starting with a light brown, then go darker. 

There is still lots to do, windows to put in, doors, all have to be painted, then the roof, oh and the chimney... so not a lot!   And in between trying to learn Blowin In The Wind...  almost there with the chord changes.  I'm okay once my hands get warmed up, but when I start they are just so stiff.   Still looking at guitars, and of course still saving up.  Just trying to get an idea of what is best to buy,  want something with a good sound, but not too big as I'm not sure I could cope with the full size dreadnought guitar,   going to go have a peek in the music shop and see which I can manage. But got weeks before any buying can be done. 

I also can't believe that I've now completed one year as a non smoker.  Who would have thought it?  Not me,  though without the e cigarette I would have cracked long before now.  I've just had to replace the battery on one, yes I have two.  I use one and the other goes on charge.  I also like to give the top bit a wash with warm water every now and then.  I've saved a fortune, but sadly since quitting the health has actually gone downhill, now I thought it would be the other way around.  No,  I won't be ever puffing on a cigarette again, happy with my vape machine.

So now off to watch that spooky thing on ITV, if Harvey will leave me alone...   sees you all soon with more pub updates.  

Sunday, 23 October 2016

A new project!

Here is the new project: The Travellers Rest.  In a week's time it will, I promise, look very different.    In fact it already is.  It arrived on Friday in good time to lift my rotten mood.  It's been a real up and down week,  and my back has been so painful.   I had to go see my GP,  she was lovely and we talked about pain relief,  but she is reluctant to change my meds at the moment because of the upcoming appointment with a specialist.   So taking comfort in heat pads, and the odd glass of garnacha! 

The first job was to make the floors, plus the little roadway...  all will become clear as the pub comes together.    I cut up some card to use as floorboards,  they get stuck down individually,  get some distressing and then a coat of PVA, a glossy modpodge.   For the road I used some air dry clay,  then pressed a cobblestone mold into the clay.   And it was all left to dry.

This is the inside wall of the archway,  it was covered by a thin sheet of the clay.   It didn't need to be smooth,  in fact I wanted it to look rough and ready.    I covered the MDF in PVA, then lay the clay on top,   just pressed it down,  then trimmed off the excess.    It was left to dry overnight.   I did the same process on the opposite wall.

This is the inside wall with its timber frame, honest!   Forgot to take a before pic,  but hey, the pegs are colourful.   They are of course to hold down the timber frame until the glue dries.  Before this I gave the clay a tidy up, and a coat of paint.   Yep,   all slow, but necessary.

Here is that wall in situ.   It had some 'walnut' dabbed all over it.  The road had sand and  grass added,  along with dabs of various coloured paints.  It is now starting to look the part.   

I also made some beams for the 'roof',  just out of balsa wood.   I'll take pics of those tomorrow.  All in all it has been a very satisfying day.   Much better than yesterday when I was in agony, no idea what causes these flare ups,  I do try to watch what I do, and not do too much.  I did make it to The Range to get some of the glossy mod podge,  and loo rolls,  which had been on my shopping list all week.  Was also disgusted to see two cars parked in the disabled bays not displaying badges.    That meant I had to park much further away,  some folk are so bloody selfish.  I was glad to read that Tesco are now fining people for abusing the disabled spaces. 

Still learning how to play the ukulele,  my chord changes are much better,  but it takes a good ten minutes to get my fingers warmed up before I can start to play.   But the warm up is very useful for fingerpicking practice,  I just make up little tunes.  I'm also being a bit anti social on skype,  I'm afraid that I have become a bit fed up with a friend,  she skypes and then just moans,  now who needs that?   She doesn't even ask how I am,  or if I want to chat.  My counsellor told me that it was up to me who came into my flat, and she meant not only through the door, but by telephone or skype.  I've taken that advice on board,  I realised that I was pandering to my friend and letting her behave badly, no more.   A good and lasting friendship has to be healthy, and be a two way street, give and take,  not take all the time.  

This coming week is going to be a quiet one,   I need to recharge my batteries.  I got the duvet out of storage,   and a neighbour kindly put the winter curtains up for me.   I say  'winter'  they're just heavier so keep the warm in.  Soon be time for the clocks to go back,  and then we shall all hunker down and wait for spring to come around.  

I hope you have a good week. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Paving the way

Back after another break.  More appointments,  I'm a bit sick of hospitals and doctors at the moment.   Just trying to get my pain medication right,  think I've found the right dose, so back to GP on Thursday to report a success.   Then in two weeks off to another hospital to see a consultant about my back, and to arrange more tests... oh the joys!  I'm not alone, a neighbour is also having a few health problems,  so we shared our moans, then exchanged funny stories about our cats, that cheered us both up.

I have new pics of The Railway Inn, with its fresh pavement.   It is just a piece of card from the back of a sketch pad,  it has been scored, then I used the paper creaser on my cutter.   Then it had a few coats of paint, oh before that I sealed it with some PVA.  The final touches with some leaves and pieces of grass. 

And here is a full size pic, the new pavement looks much better than the old one.   But I have had compliments about the 'stained' glass,  which is simply some glass paint. 

And the Farm Worker's cottages have a roof! Finally,  just gave up on the thatch,  well at least for now.  I used some spare wood I had, cut it to size,  then made some tiles with thick card.   The two cottages look so much better now.  Haven't completely given up on the thatch idea,  will have a practice, still got a few pieces of wood that are no use for anything.   I know now what I was doing wrong,  the clay was too thick,  and there is a new way of achieving the 'thatch' bit. 

The pavement also had a revamp.   I sanded it down,  and took a few tiny chunk out here and there, just to make it look worn.  Then, same as the pavement for the pub, I added some moss and a few dead leaves.  The walls have also been toned down, but my camera has unhelpfully brightened it all up! 

I picked up a couple of match pots,  just to add a few more colours to my palette. 

 Not felt like doing much lately,  I seemed to have lost interest in most things.  The art class has now finished, it was just a taster course,  but I did learn a few things.   I'm having a bash at a pen and ink drawing,  not sure it is my thing but I shall complete it.   Not much else in the way of art to show,  we didn't actually do much drawing,  just learning about techniques, textures and tones. 

I did order a new little building today,  hopefully it will be winging its way too me shortly.   It is another pub, but a timber framed tudor building, looking forward to getting stuck in.  Just doing these bits and bobs on the other houses has whetted my appetite to do more. 

Still practising the ukulele.  My fingers are now beginning to harden,  and I can make a few chord changes easily,  once I've got my fingers warmed up that is.   I'm trying to learn a few songs,  just with a few chords in them, nothing complicated.  I'm even doing some fingerpicking.  Not sure Harvey is appreciating my musical efforts.   Some sad news the other day, a friend had to have her dog put down, so sad,  he wasn't very well,  but he'd had a long and happy life.  She is now missing him terribly,  I know that feeling,  it is horrible.   I gave Harvey a cuddle,  he does like cuddles,  but he still tries to be a fusspot about his food.   I've got tough with him, so we have less fussy moments these days. 

Now off to do my diary entry.   Have a good week.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Fingerpicking and felting... ?

Evening,  yep been a while since the last blog,  I'm blaming this little beastie, which has occupied most of my time.  That, plus an art class,  oh and numerous hospital appointments. 

I am glad to say that I am improving on the uke,  I can now play around 6 chords,  and even manage to switched between them.  I'm now learning a few songs,  and some finger picking, which isn't as hard as I thought (yeah, famous last words!).   The fingertips are now starting to harden up, and the fingers are getting stronger, so far less dud chords.    The main thing is this, I am really enjoying myself,  and that is what counts.      I'm even rekindling the idea of getting a guitar,  which I really wanted when I was younger.  I'm saving up,  and we'll see what happens. 

An odd pic, it is of The Railway Inn.  I stripped off the old pavement,  for which I'd used the paper clay, and replaced it with card from a cereal box.   Then I had to start to paint it, then age it, which has taken 'ages'.    But it is now almost there, meant to take a new pic, but will do so tomorrow.

In fact the last few weeks have been taken up with stuff on all the houses, a bit of tweaking,  altering etc. 

Well if I thought that the pantiles were hard, what proved almost impossible was the thatch.  I went from clay, to actual thatch, and then to felt. I had almost got the real thatch, but kind of lost the plot when it came to the ridge.  So I studied the book by Bea Broadwood, and decided to go with the felt.   So off to get some felt,  then I made a lumpy bit at the edge of the roof, and then on went the felt,  all well stuck down, left the glue to dry...  

And it is taking shape!   It's had some paint,  I also used some clay to cover up the tatty gable end.   It all now just needs to be painted and finished off,  oh and the chimneys need to be fixed into place.    I also stripped back the pavement on this,  just sanded the old colour off, now I'm trying to get it to look like the colour of York stone. 

See it looks okay from the front.  The pavement will also be 'dressed', with some bits of grass, and a few leaves.   I do like these two cottages, they are playing a part in a story I'm writing. Yes, I'm writing!   I've even begun to watch the odd series, which I'd not managed for years.  I can't say my concentration is back,  you should see how tired I am after the two hour art class,  but good things are happening. 

The art class is fun,  it is just a taster course, we've covered pencil,  charcoal, plus pen and ink, along with shading, shape etc.   It has all been very useful.  The tutor is lovely,  so helpful and encouraging.  I wasn't a fan of charcoal, it is so immediate,  and also messy!  But I did enjoy the class, still got a charcoal piece of homework to complete.  This week it was pen and ink, again a new medium I'd never tried, but once it was explained, that it is mark making, not pattern making, then I began to 'get it'.    It is the last week this coming week,  us students are going to enjoy a last lunch in the cafe,  each week we keep getting tempted by the delicious smells.   We all contributed to their Macmillan coffee morning the other week, lots of lovely cakes to choose from.  They raised a few hundred pounds as well!

So while some stuff is going well, the health took a down turn.  I got my MRI results,  not good,  I didn't expect my spine to be that bad.  I knew I had one prolasped disc in my lower back, in fact I have two, one in my neck, along with a lot of bulging discs in both neck and lower back, hence all the pain.  There is a lot of wear and tear as well,  fortunately none of the dodgy discs are pressing on the spinal cord,  just on the nerves.   It was a depressing outcome, made worse by the hour and a half it took me to get there!   That was to travel around 16 miles!   It was all fine on the motorway, then I came off and ground to a halt.  I've no idea why they've not made the road wider to accommodate the heavy traffic, caused by the university, but they haven't, so you don't travel much faster than a snail. I wasn't the only patient caught up in the traffic, quite a few were,  I was lucky that I made it just in time.   So I've now been referred to a pain specialist,  I have to see what they recommend, but surgery doesn't seem to be an option, there's just too much damage.    Painwise it hasn't been too bad this week, just one or two bad days.   But that is only because I'm learning to pace myself a bit better.

Now I must finish watching Strictly and do my diary entry.  Have a great week.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

To uke or not to uke, that is the question...

A cottage is slowly emerging.  I agree that it has taken rather a long time, but that's because I have been a bit distracted,  and I shall reveal the new toy at the end.   The other reason is that it takes ages to paint this type of render,  it takes a few coats to get inbetween all the little stones.  Then you need to go back over the woodwork. So there is a bit of faffing, as I call it, a technical term you understand.  And as usual I've had appointments to go to, will this health stuff never end?   

Also the roof caused no end of problems.  I tried a few different methods,  before choosing the corrugated card strips.   I snipped inbetween each while they were still wet with the glue, so they settled down nicely.  Now I need to sort out how to do the finishing bits.    And not happy with the colour, so that needs work.   But at least some progress is being made. 

This is also a distraction.  If you have one then you will fully understand why it is impossible to sit and craft without interruption.   These are guaranteed to come and bother you the moment you sit down at your craft desk.   He's  been driving me potty all week.  He has decided he wants to eat the fishy Felix for the time being, but with the odd meaty sachet just to add some contrast.  Oh along with wanting pieces of my melton mowbray pie,  the bratwurst, and the cheese,  and the fresh chicken.  He thinks he is starved! 

So to my new toy...  a ukulele!   And why not?   Why you are asking, has she decided to buy a uke?    Well last Saturday I was watching the Travel Show on the BBC news programme.  They challenged one of the presenters to find a cheap night out in London, so she discovered a pub that has a ukulele night.  Her next challenge was to learn how to play a uke and join in.  She had two weeks,  and she did it.  Then I got it into my noggin that it would be nice to learn how to play a uke.  Not knowing how much they cost I had a look on the internet. I found one for just £16, with good reviews, all said it was fine for a beginner.  But I was still unsure, and I've not got money to fritter on whims.  Then I remembered my 'slummy' tin,  it is were I chuck my loose change, well some of it.  I'd been saving for a while, in fact I'd been meaning to take to the coinstar machine. Anyways, I counted it, and I had twenty quid,  so off to Argos I did go and got myself a uke.  I also purchased an electronic tuner, which has proved a Godsend, well how was I going to now how a C string should sound?   Actually there is an app, yep, an ukulele app tuner, but it wasn't as accurate as the dedicated tuner, which cost me the enormous sum of: a fiver.   So all week I've been practising.  On the first day it was all I could do to play one chord,  let alone change chords!   But now I can actually play four chords, and change between three of them, one is a bit more tricky, but I'm getting there.  So now I'm getting used to strumming patterns, and changing between two chords.   I wish to state that I am a TOTAL beginner,  never played a stringed instrument in my life.  But I am really enjoying myself, and I am making progress.  Harvey does give me strange looks, but at least he hasn't felt the urge to join in - yet.   If I do keep it up and, more importantly, actually learn to play it properly, then I'll get a better quality model.  But for the time being this little uke will do fine.   Tell me, what did we all do before YouTube?    I've found some really good tutorials on it, plus some free PDF files of chords.  Yes proper lessons would be nice, but they cost money.  

On Monday I had my first intensive counselling session.   No I didn't come away wrecked,  but it was a full on assessment that took nearly two hours, so I was a bit drained.  Monday was also the day when I went to buy my uke, a treat is a good thing after counselling, or so I've been told.  Not sure if it involves buying a musical instrument.   But I do love music, always have,  I watched the Last Night of the Proms last night,  and I've watched a few others from the Proms this year.   Last night was a bit emotional,  mum and I would always watch it together, she loved classical music.   My favourite symphony is The Planets, by Dvorak,  and yes, you will have heard bits of it on adverts.  Actually I must dig it out and have a listen. 

As for this week, well tomorrow I have to deal with some admin stuff first thing,  my housing association says I owe them rent, and I don't,  good thing I keep a record of all transactions!  Actually this rent thing isn't anything to do with me, just the slow pace of officialdom.  Even so, it is still worrying, and not good for my anxiety.  And also another counselling session, something enjoyable to look forward to at the end of the week is my art class. 

No idea when I'll be blogging again, depends on my back,  and the distractions...   Have a good week.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Pantile heaven

Well after much gnashing of teeth, chewing of nails...  I solved my pantile problem!  The book said you could also use corrugated cardboard, but where to get some?  Yep I could have bought some online, but none of it was really the right size...  So after one fruitless trip to Hobbycraft, I had a look at their website and it said they did have corrugated card.  Back I went,  this time I stuck to the children's section,  lovely stuff,  and finally, finally... I found what I wanted!  And not only that but it was cut into strips at the perfect size, oh joy of joys.   Nearly skipped out of there, well I would have had my back not been so sore.  I drove home, no did not go like the clappers, was sensible...

This is one of my first attempts.  For this I used the air dried paper clay,  just too messy and way too fiddly, which is why I didn't continue with this method.  The tin foil didn't work very well either

And this is the corrugated card.  So much better, and it will look the part once it is painted.

I put down one whole strip, meaning with the backing in place, then I took the backing off for the next few strips.  The pantiles are meant to nestle together.   I got this small roof finished,  then the tummy began rumbling and I realised it was time for some food. 

I've started work on the larger roof, so should have the lot done by tomorrow.   Can't tell you what a relief it is, I nearly gave up. 

These corrugated card strips are part of a kit,  they are for children. the pack doesn't say what age they'd be suitable for.   You glue the strips together and make an animal,  you get a few other bits to make the animal, eyes etc.  And the best bit, it only costs £3.   But I think they'd be great for any crafter, especially if you do mixed media. 

Today has not been a good day.  I've overdone it this week,  and yesterday my back decided to tell me that I needed to have a rest!   I didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night,  and when I woke up this morning I could barely move.   I had a hospital appointment, needed an ultra sound,  and that meant I couldn't eat for six hours before it.  Now that put me in a dilemma,  I need to take ibuprofen when my back is this bad, and I have to eat something in order to take the stuff.   I also knew that I could not go six hours without taking ibuprofen.   Since my appointment wasn't till late in the afternoon I gave it an hour to see if my back would calm down.  It didn't, so I had to cancel,  they weren't very happy,  I did explain and then they were sympathetic.   There was another problem with the appointment, it was a 40 minute drive,  a bit too far with a very sore back.    When I say 'sore' what I mean is a sharp pain going down both legs,  back in spasm, so any movement is very painful, plus this horrid tingly feeling from the waist down.    

I'm fed up of hospitals,  never asked for the scan,  I even queried if I really needed it. The doc half agreed with me that the slightly high reading in one test could be down to the painkillers.   I'm not daft about the dosage, some folk are frankly stupid and are very lucky that they don't overdose on co-codamol.  No idea when I'll get another appointment,  the receptionist said it would be October.  I hope she can arrange it at a hospital a little closer to home.   Yes I know the doctors are having a series of strikes, but the ultra sound isn't performed by a doctor,  and I also hope that the government will see sense and start talking.  I was getting angry last night with Sky, who seemed intent on misreporting the facts of the reasons behind the strike,  a lot of it has to do with how this 'seven day' a week NHS will be funded, and the government are rather quiet on that.   I can tell you, from experience, that no-one in the NHS wants to strike,  I had to once when I was in the ambulance service.   It was the hardest thing I'd ever done,  and our strike was local and nothing to do with pay, but rather we wanted decent equipment, and to stop two of our colleagues being unfairly sacked.  We got pushed into a corner and so we had no choice but to strike,  but we all remained at work, and we were ready to attend any emergency if asked.  No doubt the government will try, in fact they already are, to demonise the junior doctors, don't let them, it is this government who are in the wrong.  The NHS is not safe in its hands, and it never will be. 

I'll get off my soap box.   Need to as Harvey is looking at me in the hope that I'll feed him!   Fat chance, he was fed an hour ago.  Instead I'm off to fill in my diary,   and hope that there is still a place on the mosaic taster course.  Have a good weekend.