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Showing posts from March, 2009

The Biggest Challenge

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Writing a blog like this throws up some interesting dilemmas. Being a fairly typical Brit, I'm basically quite a private person, yet writing a blog is in many ways exposing yourself to public scrutiny. It would all be pretty boring if I didnt tell you anything about my family but I have tried to walk a very fine line. Well, I am about to break my own rules on that, but its in a very good cause.

This is a story about my son Billy Jon. Here is Billy Jon: he's a lance cpl in the British Army. In May 2007 his battalian (2 Rifles) was sent to Basra, Iraq. On 7 June 2007 he was shot in the lower spine by a sniper. He suffered very serious internal injuries and the prognosis given by the medical staff was that he probably would not walk again.






You can imagine how any fit young man would feel about this. He was devastated and felt his life was over. But Billy Jon has always been stubborn and with a typical attitude of "we'll just see about that!" he set about learning to …

DIY Grow Sacks!

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Since it seems likely that I shall have to wait until at least next year before getting an allotment I have decided to cram as much as I possibly can into my garden. So... alot of vegetables will be grown in pots, and then I saw these ......



They are quite cheap but look fairly flimsy and are only supposed to be used for one growing season. I have seen more expensive ones but it struck me that I could make something better..........
1. I found some vinyl backed fabric (the stuff you can make washable tablecloths from) that was reduced down to £4.50 a metre. I reckon with a little jiggery pokery and perhaps a couple of extra seams I could get two large grow sacks from one metre.



2. I used a plate to draw around for the bottom of the grow sack. Then I put 5 eyelets in the bottom (so that the water can drain out).



3. The plate I used for the base had a 13 inch diameter and for those who know all about pi r squared (or something like that) it will be a simple matter to work out the diameter…

Mothering Sunday

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I know in some parts of the world Mothering Sunday is celebrated at different times, but here in the UK last Sunday was Mother's Day. So much in my life at the moment is about being a mother, being feminine, being motherly and I am really enjoying it, really immersing myself in it. I have been a mother for 31 years now so you would think that it was nothing new. And it's true some years I havent really enjoyed Mother's Day, all too often it feels hi-jacked by the commercialism of the card companys. As I brought some Forsythia indoors and decided to take a photograph of it for my blog I felt very much like I was preparing for a bigger festival like yuletide, and I spent a little time thinking about how important celebrating motherliness is.






I know that lots of young girls concentrate on careers first, leaving motherhood for 'sometime later' and sometimes they may think of being a mother as a bit of a come down from their worldly careers. They are so wrong. Motherhood…

The Fleece Inn

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Westwards across the Oxfordshire county border, into Gloucestershire, past signposts for mysterious sounding places such as Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-water, Honeybourne and Luckley Condicott and then just into the county of Worcestershire lies the Cotswold village of Bretforton and The Fleece Inn.




The Fleece Inn dates from the times of Chaucer (14th Century) when it was built as a longhouse for a weathy farmer called Byrd. It remained a family home in the same family right up until the 17th Century when it was turned into an Inn.




The Fleece was bequeathed to The National Trust in 1977 when the owner (Miss Lola Taplin; a direct descendent of Farmer Byrd) died. Since then The National Trust have spent time and care preserving and restoring the bulding and continue to run it as an Inn.


Two doors away from The Fleece is the home of The Naked Soap Company where I teach natural toiletry making courses and we always take the students into The Fleece for lunch. Our table is reserved righ…

Blimey it must be Spring

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Nest-building continues in Technobilly land with the workshop well and truly tidied - Remember this...







Well now it looks like this....



Not much difference eh? Well actually there is a HUGE difference... the piles of fabric are now NEAT piles of fabric... separated into small odds and ends, larger odds and ends and whole pieces big enough to make clothes from. You can see the couch...



And the sewing machine....




I worked so hard and because the sun was still shining I decided to put my summer sandals on and sit in the garden to let my legs get a look at the sun. Trouble is... my ankles looked a little bit like a hobbits, but I could fix that... a quick shower and out with the razor... at this point BillySteve popped his head around the bathroom door and said "Blimey, it must be Spring!!" (he thinks he's a bit of a comedian sometimes!)

Nest Building

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This morning I woke up full of the joys of spring with a real burning desire to springclean, spruce up and generally make my home pretty.... I don't know why... I don't normally feel like cleaning. In fact its something I usually hate doing. I thought all my nestbuilding days were behind me... but apparently not, so I started on the children's bathroom first... I call them children but they are really quite grown up... in some ways. This is one week's worth of towels from their bathroom -




It's ridiculous isn't it!!!!!! I mean how many towels do two people need? After a few minutes intense interrogation it transpires that actually they only use one towel each and they have no idea where all the other towels in the wash basket come from!!$£**%!!!!
By this time I am in full nestbuilding mode and I decided to tackle The Workshop. Cue the dramatic music about here..... The Workshop used to be my soap empire... but that was all sold last August. While I was musing on …

Cherry Blossom

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This morning the ornamental cherry in the garden is in full blossom. The sun is shining and the birds are singing and although it is a little cold I can feel the promise of a wonderful spring. And I am really happy and proud. Happy of course because life is so good and proud because Christina Billy has been very clever.


Christina Billy is at university in Oxford (Brookes) so she lives at home. She is studying Japanese and Film Studies and she is in her 2nd year. As part of her degree she has to spend a year at a Japanese university starting this August.


We have been scrimping and saving for her year long stay in Japan because the cost of living there is very expensive and if she is to take advantage of being in such a different culture then she must 'do' as much as she possibly can during her stay.

We have her fare to pay and all her rent and expenses while she is out there and of course she wont be able to work part time as she does here to supplement her income. It was a bit…

House of Flying Daggers

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Yesterday I started a pattern cutting course with the idea of being able to design my own clothes... it's a natural progression from having sewn for years and years and never being able to find quite the right dress pattern. Anyway... we are starting on a skirt and I had an idea in mind and then Julia suggested a refinement to my idea and by the time I got home I had a whole collection of summer outfits crammed into my brain.


I thought I would pretend to be a proper clothes designer and do an inspiration board with swatches of fabric and design details and... well my inspiration... which led me to my most favourite romantic film of all time: House of Flying Daggers.


This film delivers on so many levels. The photography is stunning, the story so romantic, the hero (Takeshi Kaneshiro) very handsome...



and the leading lady (Ziyi Zhang) absolutely gorgeous,


the fighting scenes are like ballet and the colours almost unreal and the clothes.... to die for. Not practical of course but we ar…