Wednesday, 29 April 2015

In the frame

It was De Seuss who brought us the wonderful children's
books The Cat in the Hat and Fox in Sox,

Well today I can bring you, courtesy of my dear
Dr Suze, Kell's Kritters in all it's framed magnificence.
Or as old Seuss would have probably titled it
Kits in the Korner.

There they sat watching the antics below
Of the bug chasing leopard
And the snail going slow.

Who lives at that castle?
Does the sun always shine?
Will the fox catch that wabbit?
I'll tell you next time.

Monday, 27 April 2015

A load of balls and a "crackpot" idea

I have a friend who, like me, is into stones in a big way.
It just so happens that she is trying to clear some
room prior to the arrival of a new set of paws
and I am trying to fill some sadly not with paws
but with stones.
Look into my balls, I see .......
So, as you will see from the following photo's
that's exactly what's happened and I am now the proud
owner of some pre-owned balls both polished
to a high sheen and au naturel.
Probably fired at Waterloo!
The polished bad boys have taken up residence on
my kitchen window sill and have nearly managed
to completely blind me on a couple of occasions
when the sun has been streaming into my parlour from
a jaunty angle.
He's keeping an eye on it for me in case Mrs C appears.
As for a "crackpot" idea, the same splendid lady passed on to
me a rather broken garden planter which had belonged to
a mutual friend of ours and as I really hate to see
anything with potential doing nothing this is what
I decided to do with it.
What can I bodge up next?
Eat your heart out Mrs C - no you can't have it back!

Friday, 24 April 2015

How does your garden grow?

Every day, every week, every month comes some
new increment to the achievement here in the
tiny courtyard behind the lock-up.

Plants of all shapes and sizes, whether begged,
borrowed or stolen are all beginning to come together
to form a homogenous whole.

Each plant has it's own special place in the great
scheme of things and it's own little corner of my heart too.

I knew I'd find a place for them somewhere.

The three beautiful camelias which I inherited from the
previous owner are getting a bit past their best now
but considering they provided the only hint of colour
in the entire place way back in January I can hardly
complain if they step back and give some of the newer
arrivals a chance to shine.

The white jasmine which I got from the market has
a beautiful perfume especially towards the end of the
afternoon.  The hucheras, of which there are many,
are all standing up straight and paying attention and
the sweet peas are beginning to swarm up the string supports
like sailors in the rigging.

However there is one fly in the ointment.
The Kentish hop plant must be sleeping of a beery hangover
because it is very late indeed in putting in it's appearance.
Having nearly broken my neck climbing onto the pergola
to make sure it had the correct hemp strings "to aid its
greyhound like growth" (I am quoting from the brochure
here) it has so far repaid my efforts with one very weedy
little tendril of a rather sickly hue.

We shall see.  It's still early days so I think I will
threaten it with being replaced with a Russian vine and
see whether that makes it buck it's ideas up a bit.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

I see you standing .......

Any excuse to show a greyhound picture.
...... like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start.
The game's afoot; follow your spirit; and upon this charge cry:
God for Harry!  England and St George!
Old Henry V knew how to celebrate.
Today is St George's day and I, for one, intend to celebrate.
When I was little our school always used to put on a
pageant to mark the occasion but somehow over the years
it's become almost politically incorrect to even mention the fact
in case it should offend.
St George 1 - Dragons nil!
The Irish have their St Patrick's day, the Scots always seem
to do St Andrew proud and the Welsh always honour St David
with a show of leeks and daffodils but today it's the turn
of the English.
Happy St George's Day one and all!
Well he's certainly putting his back into it!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Not one but two ........

.... birthdays.  That is if you're HMTQ and today is
her "actual" birthday as opposed to her "official" one which
always falls some time in June which nicely coincides
with the tourist season and Trooping the Colour!
This picture took some finding.
Born in 1926 she's been around all my life and it's
really quite difficult to imagine what it would be like
without her and her selfless devotion to duty.
Good on you ma'am.  I can't say I'd want to step into
her shoes for even a day despite her enormous wealth.
She scrubs up quite well really.
Every move she makes is photographed, chronicled and
analysed.  Her clothes are discussed with every change
of outfit - too expensive, too dowdy, worn before.
Her hair is beaten into submission like a second crown
and as for her family/private life everything is acted
out in the full gaze of a watching nation who would
all scream blue murder if their own privacy was even
slightly invaded.
She must ber having a bad "heir" day.
This tireless lady has my complete admiration and
long may she continue to reign - well have you seen what's
coming next?
That's better, she's cheered up again.  Her horse must have won.
Happy Birthday your Majesty.
Will you be nipping out for a canter later on today while
no one's looking?  I do hope so.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Sea horses

Heather Jansch is the widow of folk legend Bert Jansch
the Scottish guitarist and singer who, sadly, died in 2011.
I was lucky enough to have met him a few times back in
the '60s at clubs around the circuit and my poor fingers
still recoil in agony at the very thought of their efforts to
recreate his beautiful style of playing on my battered old
12 string.  I can still hear my family screaming up the stairs
at me, "Not the bloody Needle of Death again Ju, we
can't take any more."
What's that going to be Heather?
Heather, born in Essex in 1948, leaves her mark in a totally
different way.  Life-sized sculptures of horses.
They are just utterly fabulous and I would give my eye
teeth, if the dentist hadn't got there first, to be the owner
of one of her incredible masterpieces.
Looks more like the farrier's than an artist's studio.
During her marriage to Bert, the couple lived on a remote hill
farm in Wales where, amongst other things, Heather bred
Welsh cobs.  It was at this time that she grew to know her
muse intimately not only through handling her own horses
but also by observing the Arabs and thoroughbreds that were
raised on stud farms in the neighbourhood.
You can lead a horse to water but can you make one out of driftwood?
Not content with simply drawing and painting, on the advice
of Arthus Giardelli (a contemporary artist of international
reputation), she looked deeper into what she was trying
to achieve with wonderful results.
She doesn't have an entirely one-track mind.
Following a move to Devon she began to experiment with
clay sculpture until one serendipitous day she drifted
into driftwood and the rest is history.  She had at long last
found her perfect mode of expression which she had been
seeking for so long.
Sea horses!
Click on the link below to visit her website and see more
examples of her unique talent for yourself:

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Heh'yuh got yar arly tearters in yit?

Translation from Broad Norfolk into English for those
of you unfamiliar with this particular dialect:
"Have you planted your early potatoes yet?"
my reply being "That I h'aint!"
Perhaps I should put hidden mikes in the composter to catch gossip.
I share this brief, jocular exchange from the allotment
at sparrow fart this morning simpy because today
I am struggling to find something to "mardle" on about to "yew."

My aspirations - taken last year.  I live in hopes.
Now that my health seems to be much improved and that
I am no longer "ill a bed as was up" (poorly, crook) and
that all the trials and tribulations of finalising my
affairs in France seem to be finally at an end,
I am at a loss, at times, to bring you something
amusing to read when enjoying your first coffee of the
day or having a quick catch up whilst waiting for the plummer.
So help me out here please.  What do you like?
What do you want to know about (within reason)?
What do you want more of?  If you don't tell me
I shall never know.
It's hard to believe that I have just celebrated my
first six months of residence at the Lock-Up (or Naughty
Corner as it has locally become known).

Long Dogs - all, as yet, unpublished, just be patient.

I am constantly working on new designs for your
delight and delictation which I like to keep close to my chest
until they're ready for release so although you can show me
yours I'm certainly not going to show you mine until the
time is right.  Which, according to my mother, was certainly
not until after the engagement at the earliest and only
on high days and holidays once the marriage had taken place!
She knew how to keep a man dangling if you know
what I mean.

Poldark (Aidan Turner) - hot enough for you?
So be prepared for a little less drama and excitement in future
as I go about my daily round, trusty Pentax in hand in search
of hot topics, hot men and hot gossip for your ears only.
That last sentence is almost guaranteed to talk something up!
"Dew yew keep a troshin."
(translation: take care of yourselves).   

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


Say the word "shuttle" and most sane, normal people will
immediately think of perhaps the space shuttle,
the Eurotunnel train service or even a shuttlecock,
that strange, feathered flying object that badmington players
seem hell bent upon beating to death with their rackets.
But what's it for?
But not me.  For me it can mean only one thing - tatting,
and I still, to this day, bear the childhood scars of my close
encounters of the tatting kind.
Very pretty, but I ask again, what's it for?
My mother, as I think I may have mentioned once or twice,
was a formiddable woman of ample proportions,
an iron will (she left everything to the foundry)
and a penchant for Black Russians and Passing Clouds
both of which were varieties of cocktail cigarettes.
The former named because of it's colour and country of
origin and the latter, I always assumed, because of the
banks of smoke which reguarly enveloped her as she
persued her sixty a day target with customary gusto.
Ah, those were the days.  No wonder I was such a sickly
child, but I digress.
Just watch me and you'll soon learn - fat chance!
On wet afternoons once the lunch things had been washed
up we would settle down in the front room on the brown,
overstuffed sofa where, in certain lights, it could be quite
difficult to distinguish where the cushions ended and
my mother began.  Then out would come the dreaded sewing
basket and the torture would begin - tatting lessons for
tiny tots.  As terrifying as it was illiterative.  They always
ended in tears and nothing good ever came of them.
My shuttles weren't nearly so nice.
She would press the wretched shuttles (yes, there were sometimes
two of them) into my pudgey little hands while at the same time issuing
a physically impossible string of instructions in the expectation of
miracles which, as we all know, seldom if ever happen.
The ends could be quite sharp in the wrong hands!
Listen With Mother and Woman's Hour on the radio would
come and go; the dusting of cigarette ash gently falling upon
her tightly corsetted bosom would grow into drifts; and we
were usually well into the afternoon play before she finally
conceded defeat and I was let off the hook to persue pleasures
of my own choice.
The poem lies - it's just propaganda spread by my mother!
I never did master the Josephine knot or the tedious picot loop
and, do you know what?  I don't really care!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Beaks and beady eyes

It would appear that, in the absence of a dog, I am developing
an affinity with birds.  Down at Plot 6 a blackbird has
taken rather a shine for me and is trusting enough to take
worms straight from my grubby fingers.
I've called him Marlon.
Martin Brothers "ugly birds" of a feather, flock together.
It's a slightly different story at the Lock-Up.  Here I get all
the feathered dudes that no one else wants to feed.
All the odd balls, the outcasts and the downright ugly
make their way to my little nest. 
And very welcome they are too!
Marlon's brother up to no good as usual.
They come in all shapes and sizes from a tiny wren with
attitude problems who lurks about in the acacia just spoiling for
a fight (any suggestions for a name?), to a scrawney old hancer
fresh off the marshes just looking for his breakfast.
The Black Arrows display team tucking down for the night.
Then there's the hundreds of starlings who roost close by.
Every evening around dusk they put on an amazing aerial display
which never fails to enchant, then they crap all over poor Jake
minding his own busness in the car park, before settling down.
very loudly, for the night.
We're hungry.
There's also an ancient rookery over the way who's residents are
alway callng in for a bite to eat.  Everyone else chases them
off as they can be quite unnerving en masse but I adore them.
Quite often when I'm working away at my computer I get the
distinct feeling I'm being watched only to look up and see
a dozen or so of my wicked, scruffy chums all lined up on the
fence silently willing me to get them some food.
Sorry ducks, I'm not allowed to keep pets.
The wackiest of all has to be the pair of mallards who have taken
to wandering about on the roof opposite eyeing up my pond.
Please don't let them be looking for a place to nest -
there's barely enough room here for me as it is.
Can you see what it is yet?
And finally, just the briefest glimpse of my current WIP
flung hastily over the back of the sofa as those promiscuous
pigeons are copulating of the conservatory roof again
and even I have to drawn the line somewhere.
Go on, shoooo!  Bugger off!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Fine feathers make fine birds .......

....... and pictures too!
Chris Maynard, from Olympia in Washington, USA,
feather artist extraordinaire, is the ultimate upcycler
although some would argue that his plumes were equally
as beautiful first time around when modelled
by their original owners.
Chris is not some clandestine pheasant plucker
(careful how you say that) who collects his raw materials
at dead of night in some leafy glade.

No!  All his wonderfully exotic feathers come from
zoos and aviaries after the moult when the birds are glad
to see the back of them I suspect.  I wonder if they get
all itchy before they drop out?  Just another of those questions
to which I shall probably never get an answer, but I bet they do!
Even more fiddly than cross stitch.
 All of Chris' little masterpieces are displayed in hand crafted
shadow boxes (deep frames Alice dear).  But way before he
gets to that stage, using a small scalpel as his primary tool,
Chris meticulously fashions his images creating beautiful works
of art from discarded plumes.
He somehow manages to give each feather a new role to
play in centre stage of his canvases to the external delight of
his audience of rapturous onlookers.
If you want to onlook for yourself then click and go on the link below:

La plume de ma tante est maintenant dans
le shadow box de Chris Maynard!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Kell's Eden

Kell's Eden is the latest Long Dog Sampler to roll off
the press and must surely please not only A&E fans
but also lovers of spot sampler motifs and,
of course, the masochists amongst you who just
crave something big to get your needles into.
Fancy a game of Snakes & Appils?
It's the second "Kell's" sampler and makes an excellent
companion piece for Kell's Kritters which was
released several years ago now.
In all it's glory
The framework was adapted from the highly decorated
opening words of St Matthew's Gospel in the
Book of Kells which is possibly the richest,
most copiously illustrated manuscript version of the
four Gospels in the Celto-Saxo style that still survives.
It is currently housed in the Old Library of
Trinity College, Dublin.
The design measures 276 x 370 stitches and
is priced at £16.20.