Monday, 28 September 2009

creative writing, short story

Today, in the creative writing seminar, I read out the first draft of a short story which I'd come up with in the holidays.

It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, the usual chuntering had stopped. Everyone enjoyed it, appreciating the way it grew darker as it progressed. I felt like a real writer :)

Yes, there are flaws; an anachronistic glitch was pointed out to me, I need to upgrade video to dvd! But they genuinely liked it - yay!!!!

Here it is, so you can share it too - let me know what you think .......

Box of Secrets

My box of secrets lies under my bed. It is huge and heavy. It’s a travelling trunk that belonged to my Grandfather in the 1920s. He used to travel around the world for his newspaper column, so it’s a little tatty, but I’ve had it since I was two, and I can’t imagine ever not having it. The big, brass lock is engraved with his initials; CAD, Charles Arthur Dobson. My name is Charlie Dobson, I was named after Granddad. The big, brass key is heavy. I keep it hidden behind my Biggles books on the top shelf of my bookcase in the corner of my room.

It was given to me to keep my Duplo, then Lego, in when I was small, to stop my bedroom floor being covered in small plastic pieces. I grew out of Lego long ago, but the chest has stayed. Now I keep my secrets in it. We all have secrets, don’t we? Things we’d rather other people didn’t know. I’ll tell you a few of mine. I know you won’t divulge them to anyone else. You’d better not.

When I was eight I was run over by a car. I was in hospital for six weeks with my leg pinned together. No football for me that summer. Once I came out of hospital people noticed that I wasn’t acting the same as I had before I’d been knocked down. I was snappy, and would fly off at the slightest thing. I even hit my mum one day; she’d said ‘No.’ when I asked to watch a video.

‘But why, Mum? There’s nothing on TV.’

‘I think you should go in the garden for a while and get some fresh air, love. You might not be able to play football, but there’s a lot of other things to do.’

‘Like what?’

‘Well, there’s the hoop-la in the shed. There’s the darts board on the back of the garage door, you’ve always loved playing darts. You could try your bike. The doctor said you could do most things now, as long as you don’t overdo it at first.’

‘But I want to watch the video, Mum. I don’t want to go outside.’

‘I said “no”, Charlie. That’s the end of the matter. Please go outside and get some fresh air. If you don’t want to play, then take a book outside. I’m going to vacuum the house, and I don’t want to be vaccing around you. Off you go, please.’

Next thing I knew, Mum was on the floor, a red river gushing from her nose.

‘Mum, are you ok? I’m sorry, Mum, I’m sorry. Mum, Mum? Wake up, Mum!’ I grabbed the tea-towel and held it to her nose. I felt awful. I could see drops of water on her t-shirt; that’s when I realised I was crying.

I was so relieved when she started to move, and her eyes opened. ‘Oh, Mum, thank goodness you’re alright. I’m so sorry, Mum. I don’t know what happened. Your nose is bleeding. Are you ok? I’m sorry, Mum, I’m sorry.’

‘It’s ok, Charlie. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.’ She said, but she didn’t look it.

Her face was so white you could see all the freckles that normally are hidden by her tan. And the blood! I felt sick, now, there was so much of it. I just stayed crouching there, until she started to get up. Then I leapt up, and helped her. She was a bit unsteady, and I pulled one of the stools from under the breakfast bar for her to sit on.

‘What shall I do, Mum? Shall I make you a cup of tea?’ That’s what adults always do, isn’t it, when something’s gone wrong? Make a cup of tea.

‘Yes, please, love. That would be nice.’ She said. ‘Come here, though, first.’

I turned back to her, and walked over. She pulled me to her and gave me a hug. ‘Don’t worry, son, you didn’t mean it. I know that. Make me a cuppa, and get yourself a glass of orange. I’ve been meaning to talk to you, so we’ll have a little chat and a drink. Okay?’

I nodded, and went to switch the kettle on. I put a tea bag in a mug for Mum, then opened the fridge to get some juice. By the time the switch clicked off I’d poured it out, and got the milk ready. I made it quite strong, just how she likes it, and took it into the lounge, where Mum was sitting. She’d been and changed her t-shirt, and washed her face, so she didn’t look as bad, but her nose was swollen and bruised. I sat down next to her, I felt like a little child.

‘Charlie, love, since you came out of hospital you’ve been finding it really difficult to control your temper, haven’t you?’

I nodded. I didn’t trust myself to speak, I felt like crying again, and boys don’t cry.

‘Well, I spoke to Dr. James yesterday, and he’s arranged for you to see someone who’s going to talk to you, and explain how to manage better. Then you won’t hit out at people, or be so cross when little things go wrong.’ She smiled at me to show that she wasn’t angry with me. ‘You know how sometimes, when soldiers come back from the war zones, like in Afghanistan, they suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome? Well, the accident has affected you in the same way. The counsellor will explain it better than I can, but apparently, after an accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s quite common to feel like you do. I’m taking you to see her tomorrow morning. Her name is Angela. Okay, honey?’

‘Yes, okay. I’m really sorry, Mum, I didn’t mean to hit you.’

‘I know, sweetie, I know. It’s okay. Dr. James says Angela knows all sort of tricks you’ll be able to use to help get back to normal. Let’s enjoy our drinks, shall we? Then I think we’ll both sit and watch a video together. How’s that?’

‘Yes, great. Can I have a biscuit?’

Mum nodded, and I ran off to get the biscuit tin.

Angela, my counsellor, explained all about “traumatic shock”, and said that what I was going through was common. It was more like an illness, not me being naughty. But she also explained that it was up to me to conquer it. Nobody else could do it, but she would work with me, until we’d found the best way for me. She called it ‘Anger Management’, and I saw Angela twice a week for the first month, then once a month for a while, then again after six months, and she said I was fine.

The best way we found for me to stop exploding when things went wrong was to write down whatever it was that had annoyed me; fold the paper up into a tiny ball, then bury it in the garden when I got home. Once it was buried, I had to recognise that it had gone, and was over with. I had to forget it and move on. Mum gave me a section of garden where I could bury my notes, and that’s what I did. At first. After a while, I was just burying pieces of blank paper; my real notes I locked away in my trunk. I also locked away my log of the retribution I’d taken against anyone who annoyed me.

Take Brian, for instance. He kicked a muddy football at me one rainy day in September. He kicked it at me, not to me, and my new coat was filthy. I asked to be excused during the afternoon lesson, and took his new jacket and stuffed it into one of the cisterns in the girl’s toilets. It wasn’t discovered for ages, not until someone complained about the toilet not flushing very well.

Then there was Arshid. He knocked over my Coke©, then laughed. That pissed me off, so later, when nobody was about, I peed into his glass of orange juice. I could hardly keep from laughing when he drank it later! Keeping my “Retribution Record”, as I called it, really helped. I never lash out at people now, no matter how mad I feel at the time. I heard somewhere that “revenge is a dish best eaten cold”. I know what it means now. Sometimes it takes weeks for me to find the perfect opportunity to take revenge, but that’s fine, it’s all the sweeter for the waiting.

If I can, I take something to remind me of my revenge; like a souvenir you’d bring back from a holiday. It might be a button, like the one off Brian’s coat, the lace from a football boot, taken so that Bobby couldn’t play in the school match final. They’re all locked away with my log book. I got that idea from an episode of one of the CSI series, where the murderer kept souvenirs of all his victims. Sometimes there’s nothing I can take to remind me, so I make a more detailed entry in my Retribution Record; I can relive it better, then, when I want to sit and gloat.

So, now you know my secret hiding place and some of my secrets. You’d better remember my name; and if we meet, be careful not to upset me. I always take retribution. Be warned!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

boasting, my words were chosen

The Path
Photo by Jim Pankey "WildSpirit"
Jim's Photography can be found at Picasa and Fotothing
Suggested prompt...
Offer your creativity in any way you are inspired today by this delightful photograph.

I wrote the following simple words for this photo post:

We all follow a path. Old, young, rich, poor, black, white, whole or damaged.

Whichever path we take is the right path for us, there is no other.
Sometimes we walk in brightness and light and all goes well. Sometimes we walk in shadow, and things seem hard.

In the dark times remember the light, it's still there - we need light to cause shadows.

Walk onward to find the light ahead, draw strength from the light you left behind.
Whe your path runs in the light, store some up for the dark times you hit, then you'll never run out.
This path is your path, make it a good one :)

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

street shows in Manchester

How I wish I'd remembered to take my camera with me on Saturday when we went along to Piccadily Gardens in Manchester for the free street shows!! Wow, did we see some wonderful things!

What caught my eye on the leaflet was a performance including two of the original guys who ran up, down, over etc buildings in Paris. I remember seeing them on tv somw time ago, and being amazed at their agility and nerve. So they were my main incentive to pack up a picnic and head over to the big city.

We arrived in plenty of time for the stated 1pm start time, and settled down with the picnic rug on an area of free grass. As we ate our avocado salads we watched people appearing, setting out their accoutrements, and generally busying themselves. The Troll's Kitchen was behind us, offering various unsavoury items, and boasting shelves of jars which would have been quite at home in your friendly neighbourhood witch's lkitchen, you know, eye of newt, that sort of thing. The "chefs" later appeared in their oversize floppy hats, and the children seemed to be quite happy to mix things up in large bowls.

Across from us was what looked like a sturdy child's climbing frame, with some steps and a few platforms. This was the substitute buildings for the group to climb on, jump from, dance around, pose on, etc. As well as the two guys from Paris, there were, to the best of my recollection, two female dancers, a break dancer extraordinaire, and another very acrobatic man with exceptional abilities to maintain a pose.

The music track failed on the first show, but worked successfully on their second appearance, and greatly enhanced the show. Their agility was amazing, and the event was well choreographed by one of the young ladies. Clearly we enjoyed it, as we watched it twice! A few lucky members of the audience were able to take part in workshops after each performance - how I wish I was 30 years younger!!

I'd go to watch them again, and would love to see the team actually doing the street running which would seem to have inspired the act.

Another performance which we thoroughly enjoyed, and also watched twice, was the moveable feast. The team of four, two male, two female, worked in a compact area around a dinner table with 6 seats - complete with glass chandelier! The table was moved along like a gigantic wheelbarrow, with two long handles which disappeared into one side when they had arrived at their pitch, with the assistance of a strong young man picked from the audience!

A lovely young lady in sexy black evening dress informed us that she would teach us some dinner party etiquette. She took an empty wooden picture frame, and held it against random males in the audience, naming them as earlier husbands, or partners. The last one was asked to remain the portrait for the act, and David held this vital role in our second viewing - he will sign autographs on request!!

After locating her portrait, she then rang a bell, the doorbell, and again walked round the audience to find her dinner guest, after setting the music track in operation. A young man in blue anorak was dragged forward, and seated at the head of the tablle. He seemed quite embarrassed, but remained seated. Our hostess wanted to demonstrate how a dinner guest should deal with olives, and offered a bowl to her guest. He mumbled that he didn't acually like olives, which our hostess announced loudly to the rest of us, then said "Tough Titties!", and re-offered the olives to the poor young man.

As he went to take one, she frowned and shook her head, he then tried a different approach, which was also rejected, even picking up a fork met with her smiling disapproval. She waggled her tongue, indicating that he should take one with his mouth. This he reluctantly did. Now the problem was, to spit or swallow? He spat, and was clouted with the silver salver - wrong decision!!

Then the music became louder, he leapt up, stripped off his anorak, revealing himself as one of the acting troupe. He donned an eveing waistcoat which was hanging on one of the chairs, and the party began.

I won't tell you any more - it would spoil it if you were to come across it anywhere on your travels. I will say, don't miss it, they were very good.

We also watched a mime act set in a railway station, complete with steam train, yes, really (well, alright, steam train effects if I must be totally honest). It was lovely to see small children and adults watching the same show with evident enjoyment - and as it was mime, all nationalities could appreciate it too, a great idea.

When we though it was all over, we discovered a couple of amazingly strong, acrobatic young people giving a demonstration in another part of the area, so that was a bonus. I always wonder at the strength and hours of practise that go into these acts. I could never support my own weight on one hand, let alone be balancing on just one hand of my partner as I did so!! Very impressive.

All in all we had a lovely afternoon, and it made a great change. Let's hope there's another such event soon:)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

back to uni

Today I saw many faces and had to raid my memory banks to retrieve the names that matched them - a bit like a child playing matching pairs with playing cards, you know, where they are all upside down, and you turn up two cards, if they match you get to keep them, if not they are turned upside down again. Keep going, remembering where all of them are until you've bagged the lot. Remember now? I think we used to call it Pelmanism, but don't quote me on that one.

So, it was a bit like that. Faces I hadn't seen since uni finished at the end of April, trying to put the correct names to them. I'm so bad at remembering! Goodness knows how I've managed to get to the start of my third, and final, year there. It's not as if I don't like the people, but their names just disappear. If you don't use it, you lose it, so they say, and that seems to be the case with names.

I'm the same with street names, names of towns and cities, countries, you name it (sorry, unintentional, honest!), and I can forget it. This at least proves that it's nothing personal, doesn't it? Yes, good, glad we're agreed. Please remember we had this conversation if I ever meet you for a second time, and can't remember your name. It will save any embarassment :)

So, there we all were, a bunch of second and third year students, hanging on every word our esteemed lecturers uttered. Well, not quite, obviously, we're students. One guy turned up only following a prompt from a student (yes, I know, they get paid to turn up, we just go out of duty), and the other was standing in for an absentee and simply went through parts of the handbook on screen.

But at least I got to look at the faces, and try to remember some names. Actually, it was good to catch up with some people and find out what had gone on over the sumer break, and discuss what was about to happen over our final year.

It's so hard to believe that this is it. The third and final year. I'm so lucky to have been able to persuade them to take an aged female like me on to the BA course, and to have proved myself capable of completing the workload. If any of my lecturers are reading this "thank you" for your input, and for helping to make the last couple of years so enjoyable.

So now the work really begins. I have a new lecturer to get to know next week. I've heard that she's successful and lovely, so I'm looking forward to it. She will be helping me to write for children.

I'm also looking forward to seeing Dinesh again, and discovering the gems he has to divulge this semester to improve my prose writing skills.

I've been very fortunate with my lecturers over the last two years. It makes a huge difference to have an approachable, knowledgeable member of staff in front of you. I've appreciated what I've learned from each of them, and know that I've improved as I've gone along, thanks, in part, to their valuable feedback.

If any of you are about to embark on a degree course, and would like a little advice, mine would be very simple.

1) Enjoy it - you're there for 3 years, select modules which interest you, it's your degree!
2) Read the tutor's comments on your essays etc. They're written to help you, and if you look on them that way, instead of thinking "Oh, they don't know what they're talking about, that was a good essay.", they become a useful tool to help you improve.
3) Take advantage of every course going that might help you - advice on writing a good essay, advice on time-management etc. A couple of hours or so spent on those are worth it, they'll help for then next 3 years!
4) Make sure you use the correct citation style from the beginning, that way you don't have to re-learn anything later.
5) Use your first year to lay down the skills you'll need in those vital final years. Much better to use this time to build up your confidence. Make your mistakes now, whilst it doesn't affect your degree marks!
6) Talk to your lecturer, or personal tutor if you're uncertain about something academic. It's a part of their job to help you. They are one of the best resourses the uni has to offer, it makes sense to avail yourself of them. You're paying for it, after all.
7) Aim high from the outset. If you don't achieve what you've aimed for, at least you'll still be quite high. If you aim for a 2:2 and don't achieve it you'll be miserable, and if you do achieve it, you'll wonder just what you might have done if you'd aimed just that little bit higher!
8) Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.
9) Enjoy it some more; it's a great opportunity you're giving yourself.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


This is more boasting - just another story with a twist in the tale!
Saturday, August 29, 2009

Street Food
Photo by Kane HsiehVisit his blog - Crimson-G-B~Suggested prompt...~Write a poem or story that has a street vendor in it.

Monday to Friday he gathers his stock. Saturday he sets up his stall in the "Epicurean World" Street Market.

Monday to Friday he visits flats in slums. Dirt-filled parvements, cracked and unkempt beneath his boots. Landlords who take cash from their tenants, but give little in return.

He answers the desperate pleas of the slum dwellers 'This place is crawling with roaches. Please come and get rid of them.'

Like a magician in reverse, he magics away their problem. Leaving with a bulging, wriggling sack.

At home, he lights the gas under the pot of oil every night. As the smoke begins to rise he tips in the contents of the sack. The hiss, and bubbling soon subsides. He fishes out the contents, and sprinkles them with seasoned salt. Soon, his cotton-lined baskets are full.

Saturday morning, bright and early, he sets out his stall. He has an awning to protect his wares. He whisks the covers off his baskets, and awaits the eager buyers.

Freshly fried cockroaches. One man's problem, another man's delicacy.

boasting, my words were chosen

This is the photo and suggested prompt on the Pictures, Poetry and Prose site on Sept. 4th, followed by my little effort, which was chosen (admittedly from a small selection) - we take crumbs where we may! :)
Photo by Jim Pankey "WildSpirit"Jim's Photography can be found at Picasa and Fotothing~Suggested prompt...~
Offer your writing at the beach today.
A story set at the beach, a memoir about a trip as a child to the beach,
a poem for a cute lifeguard, anything your like, do get creative.________________________

OK kids, are you listening? Today I want you to find the colour red. Do you remember what it looks like? Remember the coral we saw this morning? With the anenomes all over? Yes, of course you do. Well, they were red.

Now, spread out, no getting in each other's way, there's no need for that. I don't want any squabbling about who did, or didn't manage it. I'll be above you, watching.

The one who gets most hits gets first choice of the fish shpper, later. OK, ready to go? Remember, extra points if you get front and back of the same person, and you lose points if you don't hit the red.

Spread those wings. Ready, steady, fly!

I wanted to write something unexpected, and taking a bird's eye view, and playing with their thoughts was what popped into my mind. I hope it raised a smile :)

creating a bereavement card, what to say

There are some cards that are not easy to make, and sympathy cards must be at the top of the list. After all, the card you send will intrude into another person's life at a sad time.

I've just made this one for an older lady whose husband died after a long illness. He'd not been home for 9 months, but went from hospital to nursing home.
I know that she has strong religious beliefs, whereas I do not. This makes the wording inside tricky: I have no wish to ignore her beliefs, nor to offend by anything I say. I decided that to offer sympathy for her loss, whilst being glad that he no longer suffered would be appropriate.
I found a card blank with a neutral, leafy background which has a lace effect border in sombre shades down the opening edge. I backed the aperture with a piece of black embossed paper. I centralised a clear gel "blessing" sticker on the paper, and found a couple of simple white lily embellishments which I placed at opposite corners.
I cut a length of black grosgrain ribbon and stuck it down the left hand side with two pieices of double sided foam adhesive, leaving a small gap near the top. I threaded a smaller piece of ribbon through the gap in the foam tape, and knotted it on top, as you can see in the detail photo. Somehow this is less fussy and twee than a bow, and more appropriate for a sympathy card, I think.
Inside I stuck a piece of plain white paper over the back of the front to hide the trimmings. I then created a white paper inner, and put an adhesive "corner" on the outer two corners, just to tie in with the floral adhesives on the front, in black and creams.
It's simple, and I know she will appreciate the thought. By the way, sorry the photos are slightly bluish - believe it or not, the wall behind the card is off white,, and not blue, and the card base is white. The camera was clearly "off colour" (sorry, that was cringe-making, wasn't it?).

Monday, 14 September 2009

red, colour in the garden, vegetables, chard

Isn't red a beautiful colour? It warms the heart, and gladdens the soul. Today I'm going to share just a little of the glory of my garden at the moment.

The chard is positively glowing in the vegetable beds. Plumes of flame sprouting from the earth like mini volcanoes. The central stems can be cut from the leaf, and make a crisp vegetable, akin to celery. The crinkly, puckered leaves are soft, and similar to spinach, but with a stronger flavour. But the colour, the colour!!!

The reverse of the stems is that beautiful pinky red of the forced rhubarb stems that abound in early spring, so different from that of the inner rib that's visible.

The orangey red flowers of the runner beans are still framing the garden as they clamber over the arches. It's possible to see the long, broad runner beans (which are being left to provide seeds to sow next spring) dangling down from a couple of the plants. Once the decision has been made as to which plants to gather seed from, this plant will cease to produce new beans, believing it's job to be done. So only select one or two plants, or you'll lose production!

The Photinia Red Robin is confused, and sending up the deep, almost mahogany, new leaves it should be saving for next spring. I'm not complaing, though, as they are so beautiful, this photo doesn't really do it justice, but you get the idea.

The red Rowan berries are like clusters of small, round rubies. Allegedly this augures a harsh winter, so don't say you haven't been warned.

The autumnal tints are spreading on the Rose of Sharon leaves, and the berries are reddening on their way to being jet black.

The flat, multi-blossomed heads of the late summer flowering Sedum are just opening from within the palest green sepals. The contrast is spectacular - fresh green and rich reddy pink tones.
There's a lot to gladden the eye in the garden just now... I hope you've enjoyed seeing a glimpse.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

free food update, potatoes

Yesterday I dug up some of my free potatoes, as you can see. It's such a pleasure to discover just what the harvest will be. Sometimes there are very few tubers, others there are loads. That's one of the good things, though, you just never know what's below the surface. It really is digging for buried treasure!

This time I was very pleased. There had been three plants appeared, quite close together, in this spot of the garden. Presumable tiny tubers left behind last time I dug some up, as I had not planted them myself.

You can see how beautiful they are. The colander shows the small ones, the larger ones are beside them. Some of them had been nibbled by slugs, but the majority are beautiful. Firm golden nuggets to enjoy, simply

boiled, along with some freshly picked runner beans and sliced carrots. I stirred in a tin of chickpeas, and made a lemon and garlic mustard dressing which I poured over whilst the vegetables were still hot. Yummy.

The dressing was juice and zest of two lemons, 1 good clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon of mild mustard, and about 100 mls of olive oil. Whizzed together and seasoned with a lilttle salt this makes a refreshing, tasty dressing for warm veg.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

time flies, where did summer go?

Where did the summer go? When did it disappear? The sun is shining out there, and it's very pleasant (I know because I've just returned from walking to the supermarket), however, it's no longer summer. There's a crispness to the air, and that faint aroma that autumn brings with it.

I'm lucky, I actually think autumn is lovely. The glorious "goodbye" gradations of colours on the deciduous tree leaves, tumbling to the ground. Cheerful crimsons, outrageous oranges, yummy yellows, bronzy browns, claret, gold, amber, bronze - all that richness and opulence to take pleasure in.

A glorious free display which always cheers me and fills me with wonder at nature's majesty. I have a friend whose attitude is diametrically opposite to mine. She feels depressed as the leaves change, seeing only decay and death. I see the plants preparing themselves for sleep, ready to waken again in the Spring. Waving goodbye in their glad-rags before they slumber. A time for peaceful regeneration.

How do you feel about Autumn?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

new short story,

I've just been on the Pictures, Poetry and Prose site, and I wrote this short story to accompany a photo of a long, lonely road. You can log onto the site from the icon on the right, if you are interested in seeing more of mine, and other people's writings:)
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The Hitch-hiker

I'd been ambling along for an hour down this arid road before I flagged down the car. Many had passed by, they always do, but they’re not all right for me.

This one is right. A young girl. Not too pretty, not too young. Just right. Vulnerable. Open to being waved down by a good-looking hunk like me. No point in being modest, I am a handsome devil.

We chat about this and that. She hasn't been down this road before. For me it's a road well-travelled. I describe the beauty of the area. She relaxes.

I tell her I'll treat her to an ice-cream at the next lay-by, which is just ahead, round the next corner. The van belongs to my cousin, I tell her. It’s where I was walking when she stopped to pick me up, as I do every weekend. I didn’t tell her that, though. I told her I was aiming for the next town, 10 miles on.

We'll draw up, he'll hand over two cones. One will contain a little something extra, along with the chocolate flake. She'll be asleep before she knows it, and I'll be a hundred dollars richer.

She'll come round, trussed up in the back of his truck. I'll be on my way in her car to have a little fun.

My cousin will have his fun later. I've never asked just what he does with them. I really don't want to know. No, really, I don't.

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I'd love to know what you think!

A TV-less life

Well, that's it. I finally did it! I phoned the TV licensing office and told them I would not be watching live TV after the end of August, when my TV license ran out.

I explained that I use my 32" tv as my pc monitor, so that would remain on the wall, as usual, but there would be no arial to receive live tv, but I would watch tv catch-up through my pc. The young man at the other end of the line said that would be fine, as long as I didn't watch live tv.

So, before I went to bed on the last day of August, I unplugged my two small tv sets completely, and removed the arial to the large one in the living room. It felt quite liberating; I wish I'd done it sooner.

Next morning, I have to admit, it felt a little strange not to go to freeview 36 to see what crafty stuff was on to watch whilst I had my breakfast, but only for a moment. I know I can log on to the crafting channel and watch any time I want to.

I've watched some catch-up tv, and since the 32" tv is my pc monitor, what I've watched has been virtually full size, and the quality is fine, so I don't regret the move at all. And I'm £12 a month better off, too, which is almost two trips to the cinema per month on a Wednesday using the Orange 2/4/1 for me and whoever I take with me :-)

TV - who needs it? Not me!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Best laid plans, decoupage card

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men, as they say, gang oft astray, and so it was with my neighbour's birthday party.

In the end I decided on hand and body cream as a present - aged skin can be quite dry, and I thought it would be something useful, yet feminine.

I created a floral birthdy card, with a little decoupage for depth. I made a slit in the side of the card about an inch up from the bottom edge, and threaded a length of grosgrain ribbon through, stuck it down, then stuck a bow over the join, at the left-hand side.

I hunted out the numeral 9 and 8 from my chipboard stock in toning colours, and stuck those to the ribbon at the bottom right.

I stuck a chunky foam "F" at the top left of the card, and in a matching felt tip pen wrote the rest of her name from that. I know she'll appreciate the fact that her name and age are on the card.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend the party after all. I popped round with gift and card, said a quick hello, then left. She was very tired with all the visitors.

Balloons had been filled and tied to some shrubs down the path to give a festive air to the occasion. They are still there, and I'm sure still giving her pleasure as she looks out of her window.
The cards will stay up for a while, too, reminding her of the people who love her, and care about her.

Another year marked, and gone. I wonder how quickly time seems to go for her. I find it whizzes by faster and faster as I grow older, but she's nearly twice my age, is it but a moment between birthday, Christmas, Easter, birthday? Maybe one day I'll discover for myself what it's like to be truly old, only capricious time will tell.

hand-crafted cut-out anniversary card

I was rather pleased with this card I made for my daughter's wedding anniversary. I had never attempted this style of card before, but wanted to produce something special for this lovely occasion.

I used 2 sheets of cream A4 cardstock, half an A4 sheet of yellow backing paper printed with daisy type flowers, a strip of matching velum, a small piece of mirror board, about 9" of lemon organza ribbon, a daisy punch, a scrap of toning yellow paper for punching daisies, some gold heart stickers, and a yellow anniversary greeting peel-off sticker.

First score one A4 sheet of card down the centre to make a regular A5 card. This is the outer card.

The inner card is created by scoring the second A4 card into 4 equal sections across its width. I used an embossing board for ease, scoring on the gatefold and centre lines.Fold this inner card along the centre fold and cut out half a heart shape in the centre, so when you open up the card again, you have a perfect symmetrical heart, as you can see in the photo. Mine is about 5" long.
Use the heart that you cut out as a template to cut out a piece of mirror board for the front of the card. Put this to one side for later.
Glue half the sheet of backing paper across the centre of the inside of the outer card, so that when the inner and outer cards are stuck together, the paper shows through the heart aperture. See photo.
Punch several small daisies in yellow paper. Stick a few on to the backing sheet to highlight the inside of the aperture. Stick the rest around the mirror board heart to give a neat finish, see photos.
On the two plain sections of the inner card, score a heart pattern border, see photo. This isn't vital, of course, you could leave them plain, or decorate them in some other way. I stuck a daisy flower at the top of one border, and a double heart peel-off on the other.
Assemble the card by laying the inner card on the table, blank side uppermost, so no stickers are visible, just the reverse of your embossing, if you did any. Use your favourite method of gluing card together, either sticky glue, or double sided tape for this. I used tape. Put your glue/tape on the two outer quarters - these are where you will fasten the inner and outer cards together. Lay the inside of your outer card over your now partially sticky inner card, so that you can see the plain front and back of the card (the backing paper side faces down, fitting across the heart aperture).
When it is stuck you will have your aperture card, but the outside of the card is pretty boring! So, now take the remaining backing sheet, and stick it to the front of the card. Offset the matching velum by about half an inch, just to give a nice effect, at the left side of the front. Punch a hole at centre top and bottom through the velum, backing sheet and card. Cut the ribbon in half and thread one piece through each hole to hold the velum in place.
Mount the mirror board heart in the centre of the card using some foam fixers for a little depth. Stick your peel-off greeting in the lower right hand side of the card. I stuck a gold heart peel-off at the top right for a little balance.
I think it's lovely, but I'm biased, I know. The only thing that went wrong, (and invariably, something goes awry, doesnt' it?), was that I embossed my heart border upside down, so had to scrap my first inner card.
But, being a crafter, I haven't thrown it away. I'll use the borders on another card, and the heart aperture, and the heart I cut out (yes, of course I'd done that before the embossing, that's how it was upside down!!) will be used somewhere else, perhaps in my scrapbook I'm starting soon.
Enjoy your crafting, and remember, there's no such thing as a mistake, it's just a learning opportunity :)