My Desert Island Discs – part two

Welcome to the second instalment of my favourite eight discs. Seems weird writing the word ‘discs’ but it would be even weirder writing Desert Island MP3s. Just doesn’t gel.

 

Jessica by The Allman Brothers Band from the album Brothers and Sisters

 

brothers and sisters

This is my instrumental ‘classical’ piece. I’ve never tired of listening to it despite BBC’s Top Gear hijacking it. It’s a long track at 7 minutes 28 seconds, but you just go along with the music. Love it!

 

The Ballad of Cursed Anna by Jonathan Kelly from the album Twice Around the Houses

 

twice aound the houses

I’ve no idea how I got to hear this song, I suspect it was by listening to Radio Luxemburg a long time ago. It’s a beautifully written folk song about a young man who ignores an old man’s warning about the beautiful but cursed Anna and finds himself trapped as a gatekeeper who can only be released when another young man ignores his warnings about her. On Friday nights a few of us used to take our guitars to a wonderful old pub in Donaghadee called Grace Neill’s Bar. You would order the drinks, find a table, sit down and if nobody else was playing you’d simply start strumming. I remember going there with 2 friends Davy and Maurice and we started singing Cursed Anna. For ages before we hadn’t been able to find anyone else that knew the song, but that night when we performed it a couple of groups joined in – bliss!! We made some great friends that night!

 

Crazy Man Michael by Fairport Convention from the album Liege and Lief

 

liegeandlief

A beautiful slow folk song performed by the ethereal haunting voice of Sandy Denny. Liege and Lief is my favourite Fairport album and any song performed by Sandy would do but Crazy Man Michael just has that extra little piece of magic. I still listen to it a lot.  So sad that Sandy has left us, but her voice will go on for ever.

 

Sebastian by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel from the album The Human Menagerie

 

The Human Menagerie

Steve Harley has got one amazing voice and Sebastian highlights just how incredible it is. I don’t know why but this song always reminds me of Venice, masked balls and red velvet cloaks. It’s the sort of song that should be playing in the background while you’re reading The Da Vinci Code. It’s another song that I would belt out at the top of my voice on my lonely beach, especially the line “Somebody called me Sebastian”

 

Book to take with me would be Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. It’s a book you can pick up for a quick browse and before you know it a few happy hours have passed. My luxury would be a couple of tons of ruled writing paper complete with fountain pen and a few gallons of violet coloured ink as I would envisage having enough time to pen the great British novel!

 

Well those are my 8 discs, what would yours be??

 

Slainte

 

Linda xx

My Desert Island Discs – part one

Listening to Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs this morning got me thinking to what 8 records I would take to my desert island.  I have many, many terra bytes of music stored on hard drive, probably the equivalent in vinyl to fill every shelf of a mega superstore. Yet it did not take me many minutes to come up with eight musical milestones of my life. So here they are, albeit not in chronological order.

Carey by Joni Mitchell from the Album Court and Spark
Twisted by Joni Mitchell from the album Court and Spark

Court and spark
Where I grew up in Holywood, County Down we didn’t have a record shop for many years and when one finally opened I swear I was its best customer. I was eventually banned from bringing any more records home with me, so I used to smuggle them in in my school satchel and hide them at the bottom of my wardrobe.  The record shop owner who got to know me very well used to play me records that he thought I’d be interested in and one day he played Court and Spark. I loved every song on it and from that moment became a lifelong fan of Joni Mitchell. With Carey I love the opening line, “The wind is in from Africa, last I couldn’t sleep”. It makes me think of exotic climes, tents in the desert, mosquito nets. When I think of travel I think of Carey.

I would also take ‘Twisted’ from the same album.  I have one fun memory attached to this song. When my best friend’s dad used to pick us up every Saturday night after the disco had finished, the pair of us used to sing this song at the tops of our voices in the back seat of his car.  In retrospect the man must have been a saint to have put up with our caterwauling. We always tried to hit Joni’s high notes but could never quite manage it. So I would have fun sitting on the beach of my desert island singing this at the top of my voice knowing I wasn’t hurting anyone’s eardrums.

Lola by The Kinks

KinksLolaUSA

I was a fan of the Kinks from the very first minute I heard ‘You Really Got Me’ I love Ray Davies’ song writing. He writes about real people, emotions, places. I love the story of how Dedicated Follower of Fashion came about. He was refused admission to a well known fashion designer’s party so Ray straight away immortalised this precious pedantic in song. As I was very young when Lola was released I didn’t immediately twig what the song was about, all I knew was I loved the sound of Ray Davies’ voice, especially how he sang C-O-L-A cola. He originally wrote coca cola but was forced to change it to cherry cola due to copyright laws. I always thought Coca Cola missed a big marketing trick by forcing him to change it. I remember going to see the Kinks when they played in Sussex a few years back. I couldn’t persuade anyone to go with me, so I went on my own and had a fabulous time.

Next song – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from The Life of Brian by Monty Python

always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life

I went on an archaeological trip to the Eastern Desert in Egypt many moons ago – we were looking for prehistoric rock art. I didn’t want to be without any music on the trip so I compiled a cassette tape (pre ipod days) with my fav music on it. As we experienced disaster after disaster in the desert this track was rapidly adopted as the trip theme song. I have this wonderful memory of standing on the top of a sand dune in glorious pink and gold evening light waiting for the rest of the party to come in when one jeep came hurtling up the dune with six people inside singing ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ at the top of their voices – magic.

More tomorrow……..

Slainte,

Linda xxx

I Got Me A Ukulele!

I’ve been debating with myself for ages about getting a ukulele. On the negative side I did get images flashing through my mind of George Formby singing “When I’m Cleaning Windows”. I’m even shuddering now thinking of that. However when I saw Garcia playing one on Criminal Minds it put a more positive slant on it. In true Garcia style she had pimped it with rhinestones and although she only got out one line of “Old McDonald Had a Farm” it turned negatives to positives for me.

 

Garcia - Ukulele

 

I have a full size vintage acoustic guitar which is just a beautiful work of art and has fantastic tone, but I wanted something smaller to play and when I read Getchen “Gertie” Hirsch’s post on Ukulele Ladies I realised that a ukulele would fit the bill. Plus it is immensely portable, you could stuff it into a large handbag very easily. I have visions of whipping it out for impromptu concerts if I get bored waiting in lines at checkouts or at the post office!

I’ve got a beginner’s one from Amazon. It had a particularly helpful review submitted from a very knowledgeable and funny customer. Also it is purple which is one of my favourite colours so it just had to be! Here she is.

 

Ukulele

 

I have christened her “Gertie”. It’ll be a while before I’ll be posting anything on Youtube but I know I’m going to have so much fun with her which is really all I want from a musical instrument. Mind you I would like to learn “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and I did find an online tutorial for that. So far the Four Mouseketeers have ignored my renderings but did take turns to sit in the box it arrived in.

 

Here are a few vintage stylish Ukulele Ladies.

 

Greta Garbo "Torrent" 1925

Greta Garbo

 

marilyn-ukulele

Marilyn Monroe

 

Lingerie-ukulele

Lingerie Lady

 

Sláinte

 

Linda xx

Pay It Forward Day

Thursday 25th April is Pay It Forward Day in the UK.

In case you haven’t heard of it, the idea of Pay It Forward is to do random acts of kindness for strangers for no payment but with the request that they do the same for others. The premise is that if everybody performed a random act of  kindness think how the world would become a much better place. A modern day take on Love thy Neighbour.

 

world peace1

There is a film of the same name starring Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment. School teacher Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) sets his class an assignment: they must each think up a way to make the world a better place. This prompts eleven-year-old Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) to develop the idea that instead of paying back good deeds, one should instead pay them forward. Putting his idea into practice, Trevor performs an act of kindness for three different people, requiring each of those three to perform three further kindnesses themselves. In doing so he starts a chain reaction which does indeed make the world a better place.

The UK site for Pay It Forward Day is here

Suggestions include buying a coffee for a stranger with the request that they do something in turn for another stranger. Paying for a parking space, giving someone an umbrella when it is bucketing down etc.

 

people-hugging

I would add

Give an old lady in the street a bunch of flowers (careful you don’t get accused of stalking!)

Give someone walking their dog a bag of doggie treats

Put some money in an envelope and anonymously post through a needy person’s door with a note that when they are able, they can pay it forward with a good deed

 

Go on, give it a try. You never know where it might lead!!

 

GlobalMeal

 

Sláinte

 

Linda xx

Upcycling and Game of Thrones

I’ve been taking a break from making things for my Etsy Shop and I’ve been making some stuff for me. Probably less making really and more of the embellishing. I have been looking for a replacement denim jacket for the one that went to textile heaven a while back. I found a beautiful new one in a charity shop for £4. Perfect fit and just gorgeous with it’s little zippy details.

 

Embroidered Denim Jacket03

Having fallen in love with Steampunk style I thought I would add a little something to the back. I kept telling myself it was going to be worth it while I was fighting with the embroidery hoop on my machine and getting the fabric properly positioned so I didn’t end up sewing the sleeve to the collar. And here it is – I really love it!

 

Embroidered Denim Jacket11

A closer view

Embroidered Denim Jacket08

It’s going to get a lot of wear this summer!  Meanwhile in another charity shop I found a chrome vegetable rack for the grand sum of £1.50. It’s now been sprayed pink and is home to my crochet yarns. I can’t claim the idea as mine – Lucy at Attic24 inspired me to have a go.

 

Wool rack4

 

Lastly, I’ve just started watching Game of Thrones right back from the beginning. Loads of blood and gore and some very adult scenes! Ordinarily it would not be my choice of viewing, but I love all the stories and how they weave together. The scheming and plotting is fascinating, I wonder if they got inspiration from some of our politicians. I thought adding this embroidery design to a plain white tshirt would be a fitting tribute to the programme or I could wear it with a degree of cynicism next St Valentine’s Day!!!

 

Shot thro the heart2

 

Shot thro the heart4

 

Sláinte

Linda xx

Nine Reasons to Love Australia

This is my personal list of reasons to love Australia and its people. I always think Australians have a great take on life, they are laid back with a great sense of humour. A great recipe for living!

Dame Edna Everage

Dame Edna

My dad got me into watching the inimitable Barry Humphries. At first I couldn’t understand why he would want to watch some man dressed up as a woman severely challenged in the looks department. It was when he was on chat shows that his genius for comedy really shone through. Definitely a Housewife Megastar and Queen of the Adlib. It’s amazing to watch celebs queuing up to be insulted by Dame Edna, they just can’t get enough of her. I was watching a recording of her on the Graham Norton show and she was talking to a young woman in the audience describing her dress style as “affordable”.  So yes that’s the first reason to love Australia when it produces one of the cleverest and funniest comics of our time.

The Great White Shark

Great white

Am I the only person to have cried watching Jaws when they blew up the Great White Shark? I remember being really upset. Sadly that movie has a lot to answer for concerning the welfare of all sharks.  These are truly fish Leviathans. It is wonderful to watch how they elegantly cruise through the water with their little fan clubs of pilot fish. There’s no reason to hate these great predators, in fact they do us a great favour by keeping our oceans healthy. Just as wolves naturally cull deer herds, so the Great White does the same beneath the waves.

The Great Barrier Reef

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Great-Barrier-Reef-Holiday-Reef-Fish

I’ve included two pics of the Great Barrier Reef because I just can’t get enough of it! It’s Nature’s own widescreen tv with the colour saturation turned right up. What an amazing place. As you can see from the first pic you don’t need to be a Free or Scuba diver to explore it. You can puddle along with your snorkel and still take in many wonders. If you swam in around the Reef every day for the rest of your life you still wouldn’t see all the life that lives within it.  Every documentary that comes on about, I’m there front and centre ready to get my heady colour fix!

Aboriginal Dreamtime

Wayamba_the_Turtle

If ever there was a race still in touch with Mother Earth it is the Aborigine. According to their beliefs all life as we live it today including the human and the animal world is part of one huge unchanging web of relationships which can be traced to the great spirit ancestors of the Dreamtime. Today in the Dreaming the events of  Creation are re-enacted in ceremonies and through dancing in mime form. Songs of Creation are chanted whilst accompanied by the didgeridoo or clap sticks.  I love that in this modern and frantic world the Aborigines have never forgotten where they came from.

Dingoes

dingo pup

Like the Great White Shark they suffered at the hands of the media, namely in the famous Australian case many years ago where a mother claimed that they had taken her baby.
Also like the Great White Shark they are Nature’s cleaners. As Australia’s largest terrestrial predator they do a fabulous job of keeping the rabbit, kangaroo and rat populations in check. The Dingo was much loved and held a privileged position in the Aboriginal cultures of Australia . Dingoes were also a well known part of ancient rock carvings and cave paintings. And anyway Dingo puppies are cute!

Return to Eden TV Series

Return_to_Eden-large

This was a very popular Australian tv series in the 80s. Plot was, scheming evil man marries a plain Jane for her money. Has an affair with her best friend and plots to murder plain Jane by chucking her in crocodile infested waters. Plain Jane survives crocodile mauling and meets good looking plastic surgeon who restores her good looks. In fact she is now so good looking that she becomes Australia’s top fashion model and plots to wreak her own revenge on her evil husband and best friend.
At the time it was quite watchable but what made me really love it was the wit of Terry Wogan. The morning after each episode aired he would broadcast his take on it. I’d just fall about laughing. I think the only thing funnier than that was his Janet & John series of stories, but that’s for another day.

Kookaburra

kookaburra-pair

Chosen because they just make me laugh – plain and simple. There is one called Sydney who lives in an aviary near me and I could sit there all day listening to him. Actually they are also a very attractive and intelligent bird. Love them to bits!

Surfing

20090826-andy-irons

This reason is dedicated to my Dad who loved to surf. It was usually in the cool waters in Whitesand Bay in Cornwall. Nothing kept him away from the beach when surf was up.  He’d surf by day and watch surfing videos in the evening, The Endless Summer being his favourite. He used to salivate over pictures of Australian beaches and one year he finally got to go there. I remember getting a hastily scrawled postcard from Bondi Beach. The excitement vibes oozed from the paper! He’d reached his Nirvana. So it’s because of my Dad that I love to watch Aussie surfers riding the waves and I never tire of it. Probably Point Break is my own fav film.  Surf’s Up Dad!

Steve Irwin

11939-Steve_Irwin_bio

Taken before his time. I love what this wonderful man did for the not so cute wildlife of Australia. If anyone could make you fall in love with a crocodile Steve Irwin could. He had such respect for them. My heart would be in my mouth when watching him go out to rescue one. He’d always be worried about stressing it. It was through him I learned about crocodile mums being one of the most caring of mothers in the animal world. Not something you would associate with a few tons of organic armour plating! I suppose it was Steve’s enthusiasm for life and the animals that radiated up from the depths of his soul that reached out and touched us.
That man packed more into his 44 years on this planet than some twice his age. A great Australian and life model.

Well there you have it, all my reasons, well most of them anyway. Anybody have any other reasons to love Oz?

Sláinte

Linda xxx


New Year Restitutions

new_years_resolutions_cats

I never make resolutions, I make restitutions! I reckon that resolutions are really made to fix up what’s not gone right in the previous year. So what are my Restitutions for 2013. Well here they are and as they say on Strictly they are  in no particular order………….

Travel more but not necessarily to foreign exotic climbs. I’d quite like to become a tourist in my own country or even county. When I’m out driving about I pass so many interesting looking places that beg to be explored. I usually think when I’m passing, “I must go there one day” but by the time I’ve got home and parked the car I’ve forgotten where it is I’d like to visit. I suppose the best thing to do would be to get out a tourist map of the county and also a local history book from the library and to plan a diary of visits to the quirky, the beautiful and the historical places all around me.

Old map of the world

Take the guitar down from the wall and get strumming. I’ll never be the next Clapton but I would like to learn a tune or two to delight and amaze at parties.

guitar


Finish off all my UFOs (unfinished objects) that are currently languishing in drawers, backs of cupboards and tops of wardrobes. I could restock Hobbycraft single handed!

Siamese-kitten-with-wool-1



Get to know my beautiful embroidery machine inside out and be able to rethread my overlocker/serger blindfolded and with one arm tied behind my back. It took me a whole evening to work out how to thread it when I first got it. I’d like to improve on that.

And skills, need to practice my crochet, sewing and writing skills. They say it takes an amount 10,000 hours to achieve Master status at something.

old clock


So in 2013 if I never slept or ate I would be able to get 8,760 hours under my belt. So I could almost reach Master level, I would be knackered but what the hell. Must put a few large jars of strong coffee on my shopping list for next time.


HAPPY NEW YEAR! XXX

Waiting for the Doctor

Apologies for long absence.  I’ve been busy creating lovely new bags and purses for the shop . I’ve invested in a new embroidery sewing machine and I’m having fun experimenting with many new designs.

Tardis-web
Also I’ve finally found Doctor Who’s T.A.R.D.I.S. It’s quite coincidental or maybe not that the new series of Doctor Who will air on Saturday 1st September with Asylum Of The Daleks
I’m off now to have a look inside and I may be some time or I might be back yesterday!

The Inimitable Mr P.

The Mr P I’m referring to is Sir Terry Pratchett author of the fantasy Discworld series and other brilliant tales.

pratchett_rats

I discovered his novels one day in my local library. They had a display of well known authors’ own favourite authors. I noted that somebody called Terry Pratchett listed Spike Milligan as his favourite. I remember thinking ‘Anyone that likes Spike Milligan can’t be bad’. (Spike Milligan’s ‘Puckoon’ is one of the funniest books in the history of writing).

Puckoon

So I had a forage around the library and found The Hogfather and that was it. I became one of the legion of Terry Pratchett fans.

Hogfather 

I think it is his humour that does it for me, it’s not a joke a minute but clever musings from an extraordinary brain.

These are some of my favourite quotes from Sir Terry

Every procedure for getting a cat to take a pill works fine — once. Like the Borg, they learn…

I think that sick people in Ankh-Morpork generally go to a vet. It’s generally a better bet. There’s more pressure on a vet to get it right. People say "it was god’s will" when granny dies, but they get angry when they lose a cow.

I must confess the the activities of the UK governments for the past couple of years have been watched with frank admiration and amazement by Lord Vetinari. Outright theft as a policy had never occurred to him.

Let’s see, now… in HOGFATHER there are a number of stabbings, someone’s killed by a man made of knives, someone’s killed by the dark, and someone just been killed by a wardrobe.
It’s a book about the magic of childhood. You can tell.

Oh dear, I’m feeling political today. It’s just that it’s dawned on me that ‘zero tolerance’ only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.

My experience in Amsterdam is that cyclists ride where the hell they like and aim in a state of rage at all pedestrians while ringing their bell loudly, the concept of avoiding people being foreign to them.

My dream holiday would be

a) a ticket to Amsterdam

b) immunity from prosecution and

c) a baseball bat 🙂

And from his Discworld novels …

"Alcohol didn’t seem to go to her brain at all. It could be that it couldn’t find it." – Thud!

What sort of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter. – Going Postal

This man was so absent-mindedly clever that he could paint pictures that didn’t just follow you around the room but went home with you and did the washing-up. – The Last Hero

If you trust in yourself … and believe in your dreams…and follow your star…you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy." – Wee Free Men

I talked with Sir Terry once at a book signing hoping to get him to come and talk to my local writers’ club. He gracefully declined saying that he didn’t do that sort of talk and found that writers’ clubs were generally populated by dry, boring old men on the pull. Thinking back on his comment I think he was partly right, I do remember a few mature and eager gentlemen at my club.

The Hogfather remains my favourite book of the series, Death being the best character. All his lines are written in capital letters, very powerful, after all who can argue with DEATH?

DEATH

I love Wee Free Men too, it’s sort of like Braveheart on speed. I’d love to have a Nac Mac Feegle to keep in my bag to have handy for those awkward little moments out and about with traffic wardens and jobsworths

Wee Free Men

You’re a lovely man and my hero, Mr P!

Linda xx