It’s a Beautiful World

Day out with the kids

My lovely friend Gladys who loved animals with a passion and they loved her back. Sadly at the grand old age of 93 she succumbed to Bowel Cancer. Rest in peace my love, you are greatly missed.

Gladys feeding the Chickens

Slàinte Mhath

Hatches & Dispatches

It’s so hard to discipline yourself to sit down at the computer when all you want to do is to get outside and visit gardens, pubs and cafes with outside seating, the beach, quaint villages, animal homes, riverbanks, dig holes or just sit outside enjoying the sun while it’s here.
At least the sun is helping to dispel the blues after some sad news this week. Remember that little family of Robin chicks from my last post?

Robin chicks
And their proud mother?
Robin on Nest
Sadly the nest got predated by a Magpie and the little chicks are no more. Simon King captured on film the Magpie looking at the nest. Thankfully he didn’t publish the actual predation.
Magpie and Robins
So very sad, I had a real lump in my throat when I read the news. Simon did say that he had also witnessed a Crow taking Magpie chicks. It is the circle of life but a cruel one at times. I have a fondness for Magpies as well since I helped rear a nest of abandoned Magpie chicks to where they all fledged. This is one of the little characters sitting on my hand.

Magpie baby on hand
The second piece of news also refers to a previous post – little Button the black and white stray cat who got the all clear from Feline infectious peritonitis was finally rehomed to a very loving home, then sadly only after a couple of days in his new home he took a bad turn and had to be put to sleep. His new owners were devastated as so was I, but at least he did finally know what it was like to be in a home if only for a very short time.

paws cats

To cheer up the mood of this post, I think I’ve been adopted by a Herring Gull. He has cottoned on to where I put out the food for my foxes and has started getting there before them to grab it. This afternoon I had some left over cat food chunks from my cats’ breakfast which I threw to him one at a time outside the front door. He got closer and closer and more trusting too. My cats were out as well but they stay clear of the gulls. I know he has young so I’m pleased the cat food will be recycled and go to a good cause. Sort of evens the balance with the robin predation.

Now I have been busy with other animals too. Let me introduce Suarez (thanks to my friend Michael for the suggestion) the crocodile.
Crochet Crocodile Suarez
I used the pattern from the book Super, Super Cute Crochet. Amazingly the instructions for the teeth were missing from the pattern and the publisher didn’t post errata for the book. So I improvised. I’m quite pleased with how Suarez has turned out. He’s currently sitting beside Eric and Ernie’s tank sizing them up.
Then in the absence of any British sports wins recently I decided to fly the flag myself and embroider this very British pouch.
Union Jack Mini
It reminds me of one of my favourite Michael Caine films, The Italian Job! You’d have a hard time blowing the b****y doors off this Mini, they’re firmly stitched on. And for the lining I turned up the Britishness of it and used this fabric.
Union Jack Mini_2
Union Jack Mini_3

I love it! The designer was inspired when they created this. It makes me smile every time I look at it!
Well that’s enough of smiling for the mo, I’m off to catch up with Keifer Sutherland in the latest episode of 24.

Slainte

Linda xxx

Here, There and Africa

Embroidery Library a brilliant source for machine embroidery designs had a sale of African inspired designs last week, so I thought I’d treat myself to a Zebra, some Meerkats and half an Elephant.  I had some thick cream coloured canvas (which is a dream to embroider) and added the designs to a piece of it. I then found a lovely piece of Zebra print cotton (you see, sales are never cheap. When you have an idea you usually have to buy something else to complete it).

A bit of cutting and tutting later and sewing on my brilliant little Elna Sew Fun machine and voila a Safari bag has been born!

Bag for Wildlife2
Bag for Wildlife4

Bag for Wildlife

As we’ve just had confirmation in the UK that all plastic bags in shops will cost 5p each from next year, this is my answer to shopping without plastic. Not so much a Bag for Life but more a Bag for Wildlife.

Thinking of shops and stuff, how many of you fellow crafters out there with your own little shops are starting to gear up to make your Christmas stock soon? I think there’s something slightly rebellious about working on Christmas designs when the sun is shining down and the waves on the beach are lapping at your feet (Australians, you must be expert at this). I’m about to start on Rudolph Tea Cosy.

Rudolph Tea cosy

I only make one of these each year as there’s so much work involved in making the embellishments. Poor old Rudy, he’ll never get a friend at this rate.

I did my usual Sunday visit to PAWS Animal Sanctuary last Sunday. Dear little Button a black and white stray who was thought to have Feline infectious peritonitis has got the all clear.

paws cats
(On the right one up from the bottom) picture by PAWS

The vet thinks he has just got an intolerance to certain types of food. A while back he could hardly raise his head from his bed but now he gets out of his bed and does his best to head butt your knees. I hope he gets a good home, he has struggled for so long he deserves one.
Stacey also took in one cat who was dumped by the side of a road in a cat basket and one who was dumped in a box. Both were starving and in an unkempt condition.

Silver Tabby
Dumped by the side of the road – picture by PAWS

Longhaired stray
Dumped in a cat basket – picture by PAWS

I am constantly amazed by the fact that most animals no matter how badly treated they are by us are still capable of giving us affection. I was there when the longhaired cat above came in and I spent some time petting it. The dear little thing purred and purred in between frequent trips to his food bowl. Again they both deserve some love in their lives and they’ve both definitely landed on their paws by being in Stacey’s care.

Slainte

Linda xxx

The Wind in the Willows

Just recently I’ve rediscovered my love of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I was around 8 when I discovered it the first time round. The brilliant illustrations of Arthur Rackham were the first thing that attracted me to the book. A talking Badger, Mole, Rat and Toad – totally appealed to my childhood fantasies! My favourite character was Badger, he always seemed so wise and all knowing. Not at all like Toad who always seemed to be totally scatter brained and a bit of a cross cross-dresser (remember the washerwoman episode?)
I’ve done a bit of searching around regarding the illustrations for the book. There have been over 50 different illustrators down the years. These are my favourites –

Rackham-047

Arthur Rackham

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Ernest Shepard

Aitchison-047

Martin Aitchison

Tudor-045

Tasha Tudor

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Michael Hague

A big regret a couple of weeks ago was finding a vintage copy of the book in London and not buying it! What was I thinking! Still I’m sure I’ll find another copy somewhere and it’ll be the only thing I’ll happily break my New Year Resolutions for. Did you know there’s currently a  First Edition on sale at Abe Books for £12,500!!

Over the years I’ve managed to take a few photographs of these cute protagonists and these are two of my favourites. This is Ratty who in real life is a Water Vole. In the second pic if you look carefully you’ll see a small droplet of water on the end of Ratty’s nose!

Watervole

I wonder how these dear little animals have fared during the recent flooding of so many riverbanks here in the UK.

So this is an animal themed post once again. I’m sure I must be the long lost love child of Sir David Attenborough or at least distantly related to Chris Packham. I actually met Chris Packham once when he judged my photo of a Blue duck the winner in a WWT photo comp. Not only did I like him because he picked my photo he was genuinely funny and had some great tales to tell about the naughty nature of the Blue duck. Apparently one in a territorial fit of rage grabbed his trouser leg and wouldn’t let go. I’m sure there are a few women also eager to grab his trouser leg!

Me Chris Packham=small

Blue Duck winner
Maybe I should add ‘Meet Sir David Attenborough’ to my list of goals for 2014.  I’d probably let myself down if I met him and mumble or dribble or giggle uncontrollably or curtsey. If anyone reading this could get me into his holy presence I would be very grateful and I promise I would take Social Skills lessons prior to the meet! I wonder if he’d like one of my animal tea cosies????

Slainte

Linda xxx

Retail Colour Therapy

 

I prescribed my self a giant dose of colour saturation today. I’m fed up with grey skies, muddy grass and beige borders. So I took myself off to the local garden centre for a coffee, free wifi and floral eye candy and I wasn’t disappointed. The Polyanthus were amazing, so vibrant.

 

Retail Colour Therapy 1

 

Retail Colour Therapy 6

 

And then I found these two little chaps in the corner. So adorable.

 

Retail Colour Therapy 8

 

And these were so tempting, but I resisted. I loved the Bunny peeking out.

Retail Colour Therapy 10

 

I’ve also been making my own colour therapy blanket. I chose two main colours for the flowers – Fuchsia and Orange. Totally clashing but they make my eyes happy.

 

Fuchsia Orange Crochet Squares4

 

I’ve made all the squares and now I’m in the making up process. I’ll edge it in Fuchsia and Orange as well. More pics to come when it’s finished!

 

Slainte

 

Linda xxx

Watch the Birdie

Yesterday I took myself off to our local RSPB reserve for a bit of a wander with my bins. I’m impressed with myself cos I normally forget them and leave them on the kitchen counter. I think I might have picked the wrong day to go a visiting as there were hordes of people on the reserve – could have been a club outing. Probably about 5% of them were actually interested in the wildlife. I cannot for the life of me work out how groups of people all walking around a wildlife sensitive area with all the latest scopes and bins hanging off their bodies and gabbling at the tops of their voices expect to see any birds at all.
Or going to the other extreme when you are on your own and about to pass another single person when that person will put their head down or look into the distance and totally ignore you (I was dressed normally and wasn’t wearing anything scary – honest). Weird – I always give a cheery hello to everyone I pass. Had two of those yesterday.
Anyway despite the gabblers I managed to see some beautiful Teal wildfowl, loads of Canada Geese and Lapwing.

teal
Pic Courtesy of UK Nature Blog

The deer were out in full force as well

Fallow deer

But the icing on the cake was the sighting of a Peregrine falcon sitting high up in a tree overlooking the wetlands. She’s been a resident at the reserve for a couple of years now and this is her favourite spot. Sadly I didn’t have my long lens with me, so had to be content with looking at her with my bins.

Peregrine

Of all the birds of prey photos I’ve taken over the years this Peregrine pic is my favourite. That hooked beak is lethal!

Off now to make the tea and get cleared up before Amazing Spaces comes on – steady now Ilona!!!!

Slainte

Linda xx

Life’s a Beach

Why is being at the beach so good for my soul? I’d been carless for about a week (don’t ask!) and while I’m within walking distance of all the necessary amenities – post office, library, vet, pet shop, corner shop etc, the one place I couldn’t easily walk to was the beach and that really upset me to feel so cut off from it. So when my car was fixed yesterday the first place I promised myself I’d go to was the water’s edge.

Kingston -Gorse1

 

It’s 9.00am and I’m sitting outside with a free coffee (those loyalty cards really pay off!) from the beach side cafe, watching a Cormorant sitting on a groyne drying its wings. Dogs of all shapes and sizes walking past me, dog walkers of all shapes and sizes walking past me. A lady at the next table glancing over at me, probably visually disturbed at the bright fuchsia colour of my fountain pen ink against the white paper.

 

Kingston -Gorse3

 

The horizon out to sea is one lovely long unbroken line from east to west. I can’t see France from here but I can see clouds ranging in colour from pure snowy white to steely blue gray. The sun is weak but getting stronger poking through the clouds as it travels across the sky.

 

The cafe is starting to fill up with weekenders sauntering in to order their breakfasts. All the dogs here (it’s a dog friendly cafe) are ever hopeful of snaffling bacon sandwiches from their owners or other sympathetic diners.

I can be full of tension, nerves stretched tight like a drum skin but half an hour walking along the shore listening to the waves rolling in leaves me calm and I don’t consider it a proper walk unless I come back with wet feet and tiny pebbles between my tootsies!

 

Kingston -Gorse4

 

I think this is a little Turnstone. There were loads of them on the beach this morning. They’re aptly named as they dart around turning over stones looking for food.

 

Kingston -Gorse2

 

I have absolutely no idea what this is! It is a white gelatinous mass – possibly a jellyfish washed up. I gave it a prod with my toe and it wobbled a bit. I loved the shape of it. Could those be two eyes over on the left?

 

Kingston -Gorse6

 

Now this house is just behind the green sward which separates it from the beach. It’s up for sale now, so if you fancy a holiday home and have £2.8m in loose change it could be yours. 

 

Kingston -Gorse8

 

You can see how close it is to the beach. If you’d like a look inside see here. Enjoy!!

 

Slainte

 

 

Linda xx

Garlands and Gardenias

I am so pleased with this Gardenia plant. It’s now coming into bloom.

 

Gardenia11

 

Gardenia09

 

Last year I went on a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of my local garden centre which is part of The Garden Centre Group.

It was very interesting seeing how they grow the plants for their nurseries, the irrigation, temperature control etc. The nursery manager was so enthusiastic about all the plants, it really shone through in his talk. At the end of the tour we were allowed to take home a plant of our choosing for free. I picked Gardenia jas. Kleim’s Hardy. It was a relatively new plant to the centre and the one I picked was really tiny. The manager told me to keep it in a pot indoors during the winter and to let it stand on the patio during the summer. I’ve followed his instructions and now have a lovely plant in bloom with loads more buds to come out. The vanilla scent is wonderful too.

 

I was inspired by the lovely Tricia from SimplyStitcheduk to make a flower garland for my stall at the Brent Lodge Summer Fayre at the end of August. I’m really pleased at how it’s turned out.

 

Red flower Garland

 

It seems these days that every post has to include a pussy cat photograph and this post is no exception, here is a pic of dangerous Daisy taking in a few rays and generally being good which is very unusual for her as she generally lives up to the Naughty Tortie reputation.

 

Daisy11

 

And of course Tabikat. I usually like to take photos with my cats making eye contact but for some reason I’ve gone for this one. See what you think.

 

Tabikat5

 

Slainte,

 

Linda xxx

A Prickly Subject

This is going to be a mainly photo driven post. I had a coffee this morning in Manor Nurseries in Angmering, West Sussex, then decided to go walkabout around the nursery. I remembered I hadn’t had a look in their Cacti section for a while. So off I toddled armed with my little compact camera. I think I timed it well as so many of the plants were in bloom. I spent ages in there until I got overheated myself. Here are some of the plants – warning – quite a few of them!!

 

Cacti03-blog

 

Cacti05-blog

 

Cacti07-blog

 

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Cacti11-blog

I think this looks like a load of bunnies gathered around!

 

Cacti13-blog

 

Cacti14-blog

 

Cacti17-blog

 

Cacti18-blog

 

Cacti19-blog

 

Cacti20-blog

This could bring a tear to the eye!

 

Cacti21-blog

 

Cacti22-blog

 

Cacti23-blog

 

Cacti24-blog

 

And finally – two beautiful Irises in bloom

Yellow Iris-blog

 

Iris-Bold Print

This blue and white one is called Bold Print, it’s just gorgeous.

 

Sláinte

 

Linda xx