Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Advent Cracker One

I'm bored with advent doors so this year we're going
crackers for a change.

A cracker to pull

A hat to make you smile

A joke to make you laugh:

Q.  What did Adam say to Eve on the day before Christmas?
A.  It's Christmas Eve.

Something that goes off bang.

Last minute gift suggestion to slip in your stockings.

Beautie Spotte

At the special Christmas price of £17.00.
Available direct from me and guaranteed to rock up in time for 
Christmas as a pdf download.  Just follow the link,
and say "I'll have one of those please."  It couldn't be easier:


Monday, 30 November 2015

Full steam ahead

What do you get when you cross a post-apocalyptic future
with not only the American Wild West but also all the
best bits of the Victorian era?

Hang on to your hat gel it's blowing a bit.

Perhaps an irradiated cowboy who is certainly "not amused",
maybe a homeless saloon girl dressed as Prince Albert
but most definitely a genre of fiction and assocated
subculture imaginatively named Steampunk.
Sounds like my kind of scene, so bring it on!

Reminds me a bit of Noddy Holder.

Let's play with HG Well's time machine, come and ride in an
airship and work it all out on Babbage's analytical machine.
But hold on a minute - first of all we need to be dressed
for the part.  Oh goody!


However, please don't get confused and come all got up for
retro-futurism as that would never do and your street
cred would plummet to a bit fat zero.

A bit Lord Byron or is it Fontleroy?  Nice helmet btw.

I'm afraid the guide lines are so sketchy as to be practically
non-existent and this is where a good imagination might
come in handy.  Think granny's bloomers and Great
Uncle's waistcoat topped off with a parasol; tailcoats,
top hats, flying goggles; corsets, bustles, petticoats;
medals, militaria and moth holes; holsters, spurs, lassoos.

Go on - give us a twirl.

Stop there as it's all getting a bit too shades of grey for me now.
Have a go, have fun, don't frighten the horses and, above all,
have one eye open for the rozzers or you may wind up with
an asbo and an electronic tag too for your trouble.

Not sure about the dreds.

A little more steam and less punk please Dougall and if 
you've never read Para Handy you won't have the faintest
clue as to what I'm on about.  So what's new?

Friday, 27 November 2015

The Turner Prize

Alain grafting away in his workshop.

No, not THE Turner Prize but A turner prize should 
certainly go to Alain Mailland.

Alain (he's French) started out in life as a carpenter
but very quickly discovered that his real skill lies
in wood turning and he celebrates life and all it's
little hidden twists and "turns" with his beautiful creations.

Definately a bit Viking this one.

Never leave Alain beneath the "greenwood" tree because
within moments of being left alone he'd transform it
into some magical, hybrid creature from this
galaxy or beyond.

His workshop is in the heart of the maquis gardois
and if you're ever in the vacinity of Chambrigaud I
counsel you to go and see his utterly captivating
work up close and personal for yourselves.

And if you've a hankering for something a little more
hands on, Alain runs classes and workshops in his atelier
throughout the year  Well one good "turn" deserves
another after all..

These are spooky little dudes.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Filling in the cracks

"Empty vessels make the most noise" was a much used
and extremely irritating remark frequently made by
old Ada Hendriks, my maternal grandmother.
What she actually meant was that "this child (me) is 
making far too much noise, will somebody please 
shut her up at once."

This one "bowls" me over.

But when you think about it, if you drop an old china
vase from a great height onto a tiled floor not only does
it shatter into zillions of pieces but it also does make
an extremely satisfying, smashing noise.  How do I know?
I tried it once and then blamed my grandmother for
my childish curiosity.

Broken hearts?  No problem.

Which brings me to the subject of today's post - what to do
with all the pieces.  Well, as luck would have it, the
Japanese have already come up with the perfect solution,
KINTSUKUROI.  A rather beautiful word and one that
could almost be hurled in anger - suck your what?

What are the odds on the cracks forming branches I wonder?

What it actually means is golden repair or joinery.  It's the
art of mending broken pottery with lacquer dusted with
gold, silver or platinum dust and the finished result is often
more beautiful than the original object.

This one was well and truly up the spout before it was mended.

There are three distinct methods to chose from.  Either
stick the bits back together again with the golden lacquer
if the damage is not too bad.  If there are actual pieces
missing then replace them with a solid gold infill and
if all else fails find a similarly shaped non-matching piece
and lacquer it in creating a patchwork effect.  But
where to find another piece, you may well ask.
Smash something else of course, let's do this repair properly.

I always knew she'd crack up under pressure.

As with most things Japanese there's also a philosophical
side to this smashing art form where breakage and repair
are looked on as part of the history of an object rather than
something to disguise.  It's an acceptance of change and
fate as aspects of human life; a compassionate sensitivity.

So next time you break something precious and try to stick
it together again just tell yourself that if you were in Japan
they would regard your now less than perfect vessel as having 
become more beautiful for having been broken.

Crackin' as the Welsh would say.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Seven Ages of Dog - 7.The Last Walk

How spooky is this?

Last scene of all, that ends this strange devoted history,
is second puppyhood and mere oblivion.

Trying to look on the bright side.

Sans teeth, clouded eyes, sans taste,
sans everything

Looks like it's getting pretty crowded up there.

See you at the bridge, hand me a tissue
I've got something in my eye.

I've got my eye on something too ......

Here we go again, not quite 101 but enough to chose from.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Seven Ages of Dog - 6. The Senior

He's read the same paragraph three times now.

The sixth age shifts into a steady, trusted senior
Bearing a few of life's scars
With spectacles on nose and stiff of shank.

Please give me that last sausage.

And his big, deep bark turning again towards
Puppy treble, pipes and whistles in his breath.

I've learned to put up with this over the years.

Next time have some tissues ready,
this could get messy.

Saturday, 14 November 2015


Well I seem to have gone all long and sideways on you
with this new design which makes a pleasant change
from portrait and gives a chance to use up some of those
odd shaped pieces of material that we all tend to
hang on to in case they might come in use one day.
That day has come!

This proud, trembling beauty (either that or I've got the
shakes again) rejoices in the name of R-kade.
It's at this point that I shall cut you off at the pass
so to speak if you just happen to be in a Western film
with John Wayne et al, and if you don't then I'll
just explain the title thus avoiding small outbursts of
emails demanding an explanation.

You'll need to put on your wet weather gear and take
yourself off into the middle of a field somewhere so that
you can view the picture from a distance.  

Can you still hear me?  Good then I'm going to shout out
to you the dictionary definition of the word "arcade" and
then the penny should drop.  "A series of arches supported
by columns, piers or pillars, either freestanding or attached
to a wall to form a gallery."  I should like to think that everyone,
with the possible exception of Alice, now knows where
I'm coming from and even she should twig when she's
stitched the first few pages of the chart.

Now I must face the music because that's bound to be the next
question I get asked.  The words come from 
one of my favourite songs - Come by the Hills.  The lyrics
were written by Gordon Smith to be sung to the great Irish
air Buachaill On Eirne.  The are several versions on YouTube
if you want to hear it for yourself and if you already know it
sing along now with me:

Come by the hills to the land where fancy is free
And stand where the peaks meet the sky and the lochs meet the sea,
Where the rivers run clear and the bracken is gold in the sun
Ah, the cares of tomorrow can wait 'til this day is done.

Now enough fannying about.  This incredibly, wonderfully,
georgous, irresistable piece measures 433 x 208, will cost
you a modest £18.00 (or an immodest 18 nude pounds sterling)
is called R-kade, as already mentioned, and can be obtained
direct from me as a pdf download or from all good
local needlework shops globally and throughout the cosmos
with the exception of Neptune where no one is into cross stitch!


Phew - after all that I hope you like it.