Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Arty Inspirations

Thought I'd share a few of the inspirational arty blogs and websites that I've discovered recently (and not so recently). Click on the link to have a look.
Firstly Urban Sketchers - an invitation only blog where super talented artists show their sketches. I love to see the different styles of each person and marvel how they can represent the world with strokes of the pen, pencil and brush.
Then there's Cathy Gatland who sketches life around her and whose style I love. She lives in South Africa.
I came across this chap too - Sanjeev Joshi. His use of colour is fabulous and (unlike me!) he really has control of the paint.
I also love Lynne Chapman who is an illustrator of children's books. She goes to schools doing workshops and chatting to children and is obviously brilliant at it. On the way she sketches people on the train and, as someone who struggles to get proportion of faces correct, I really bow to her skill.
And finally Allan Tazzyman. A member of my family who paints on the Greek island of Crete. He's self taught and exhibits and sells his work to locals and visitors alike.
So thank you all for sharing your work for others to enjoy and for me to be inspired by.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Taking the plunge

I have put this post off for a while but, with a deep breath, I am going to do it. Without going into lots of details (i.e. specific numbers!) I must lose weight. I am getting fatter and my legs are becoming like tree trunks. Things that should fit me are becoming tight and uncomfortable. I can bury my head in the sand no longer and need to take action.

I thought that by posting my decision to lose weight it would make me accountable. I will tell my blog and any readers how it's going and it would spur me on to keep going for longer than 3 days which is my average will power length. I don't do faddy diets. I want to eat sensibly, stop binging on chocolate, cake and crisps and reduce portion size.

So here goes ..... the number I am aiming for is 28 and so far I am up to ...drum roll please .... 3. So that's 25 to go. I'll bore you all to death by keeping you posted on my progress. Wish me luck and if anyone has any advice I'd be happy to hear it!

Farewell my friends......


We had such a fun day yesterday, geocaching with our very good friends in the New Forest. Geocaching, for the uninitiated, is a bit like a treasure hunt using the technology of a GPS. It was a brisk day but lovely in the sunshine. We found two and planted our own cache for others to find. We called it Bag End Booty.
Hiding the cache
The area we went to had a lovely river running through it and I loved to see the children jumping, climbing and exploring.
After walking for about 3 hours we made our way home and had tea all together - what a great day - fresh air, fun, friends and laughter.

Monday, 23 March 2009

It's Mothering Sunday

As my children grow I am ever conscious of aspects of my and my husband's personality and physical make up that we have passed on to our children.
Both of them, for instance, have been 'blessed' with the long neck and short legs that their parents have been living with all their lives. Modelling, I think, will remain an elusive career choice.

I am sad to say that two of my traits have been passed on to my daughter that I wish had stopped with me. The joy of the bushy eyebrow and the propensity to worry about everything. These two collided this weekend - she is worried about her bushy eyebrows, or more accurately her eye-eye-eye brow as she puts it. Yes, if you look closely, there isn't much of a gap between her brows but why is she worrying about it now? I didn't even look in a mirror till I was about 15 and didn't notice the monobrow till approx 21 when I started the agony of plucking. They say children are growing up faster - too true.

So for a few weeks she has been mentioning 'the brow' and I have been assuring her of her beauty (she really is impossibly beautiful) and how no-one could possibly notice and how you always see your own 'imperfections' far more than anyone else does. But then she told me that other girls at school have pointed it out to her and now, of course, I realise that all the mum reassurance in the world will not do a bit of good in the face of that. So I resist the urge to advise her to ask the vile school girls "Who knitted you, woolly head?" (a well tried and tested family method for dealing with unpleasant children) and tell her that we'll head to Boots the Chemist where they hold the solution to this problem.

A small purchase later I apply a tiny wax strip to the bridge of my daughter's nose, pull off quickly and a life time of 'hair management' begins. She is over the moon at her new look which assuages the slight guilt I feel. Should I have left her au naturel? She is not allowed to wear makeup at the school disco even though lots of her friends do. One of her friends, at age 11, shaves her legs!!! I don't want her to become preoccupied with her looks too early. I am trying not to be sad at her (premature, in my opinion) introduction to a woman's world although her obvious relief at having her 'problem' sorted out makes me feel better.

So that's what she gets from me - eyebrows and worrying. From the OH she gets her stunning singing voice, blond hair and an unnatural gift for using gadgets.

And what about me? Did I get my mother's ability to walk in high-heeled shoes, decorate cakes, sew, knit, cook, do woodwork and an innate sense of style? No - she kept that for herself. I got the very small boobs and the inability to go anywhere, even for a short time, without 3 suitcases stuffed full of clothes to cater for every eventuality and weather condition!
Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

10 out of 10

I have just finished reading this and now I feel quite bereft. I don't often read autobiographies, finding them a bit self-indulgent and often extremely dull, but this was quite different. It moved me to tears and had me laughing out loud, it revealed a woman who is creative, loving, intelligent, loved, forgiving and ultimately who I can relate to and whose emotions and thoughts helped me to make sense of my own. I have always enjoyed her humour (mostly - Titanic spoof especially!) and now I admire her immensely as a person. I wish she lived next door, I'd take her round a coffee cake and stop for a cuppa and a big chat.

Feeling pleased

I painted this from a photo that was taken in Australia over the Christmas holidays.  I'm really pleased with it - but don't look too closely!   I am really enjoying painting at the moment.  I get frustrated with my lack of technique but I'm sure that the more I practise the better I'll get.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Things I love about Britain No. 5

Red Nose Day

Today is Red Nose Day which is the big fund raising day for Comic Relief, a charity I support whole-heartedly. I know other countries have Comic Relief but it seems so British to me to do silly things to raise money for disadvantaged people.

At school we wore something 'funny for money'. It's very hard trying to teach children who are wearing red afro wigs, pyjamas, red noses, out-size sun glasses, deely boppers and clown outfits! Even harder when you yourself are sporting fetching red hair extensions and a nose with glasses on. I wish we did this more often!

Looking forward to a great night's TV - funny and moving in equal measure.

Friday, 13 March 2009

I have a dream....

It was SEAL day at school on Tuesday. Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning. In year 6 the theme was dreams, goals and aspirations and to get the children to think about short term, medium term and long term goals to achieve on the way to their ultimate goal. Not sure of the wisdom of asking 11 year olds to think about their future job - seems a bit premature to me.

Anyway, the intro to the whole thing was to read Martin Luther King Jnr's "I have a dream" speech. It went something like this:

Me: Who started a very well known speech with the words "I have a dream."?
[hands up]
Child: Bob Marley?
Me: No
Child: Isaac Newton?
Me: No
Child: The Queen?
Child: Moses?
Child: Tony Blair?
Me: No!
Child: Nelson Mandela?
Me: [starting to lose all hope] Good idea but.....no.
Child: That girl off Mamma Mia?
Me: [Speechless]

I eventually told them. They had never heard of Martin Luther King Jnr nor what he stood for and campaigned for. They listened in total silence as I told them about slavery, segregation, the campaign for racial equality and why the election of Barak Obama was such a landmark for the USA. They were so interested and it made me realise that in our school culture of levels and results and curriculum to be adhered to, there is little opportunity to talk to children about the world and historical (or indeed current) affairs. I'm sure we'll end up with a whole society of people who don't have any 'general' knowledge.

Perhaps I'm being pessimistic. I am nearly 40 after all.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

25 random things

A friend on Facebook recently asked me (and a bunch of other people) to write 25 random things about myself. For your entertainment and information, I recreate it here:

1. My middle name is Jayne
2. I have 6 O levels, no A levels and a BEd (Hons)
3. I hate Jaffa Cakes
4. My children are the things I'm most proud of
5. My favourite dinner is Roast
6. I once danced with Anton Du Beke
7. I hate being this fat
8. I have a tattoo
9. My favourite (almost an obsession) film is Lord of the Rings
10. I am good at archery on the Wii
11. I have very high arches on my feet
12. Tadpoles make me squeamish
13. I suffer from claustrophobia
14. I am frightened about moving to Australia
15. I performed 'It's Oh So Quiet" at a local Stars in their Eyes, and won!
16. I can make chocolate profiteroles from scratch (see No. 7)
17. I have been married for nearly 12 years and am still in love with the man
18. I dream about my books and wake up in tears when I think they've been stolen
19. My favourite chocolate is Cadbury's Fruit 'n' Nut (again, see No. 7)
20. I still can't update my iPod without help
21. I'd really like a dog but the poo puts me off
22. I keep a visual journal
23. I am crocheting a blanket
24. I worry too much, about everything
25. When everyone is out I turn the music up and sing and dance round the kitchen

Please don't hold any of these things against me!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Sunday, Sunday

Oh how I love this day! Comforting, familiar, cosy. As a child I hated Sunday (probably because I hadn't done my homework!) but as an adult it has become an essential touchstone to the week - a day to refresh, restore and revive.

Elements of Sunday:
  • Get up without the help of an alarm clock
  • Special breakfast (croissants, pancakes, pains au chocolate)
  • Sunday papers
  • Quiet activities
  • Walking in the countryside
  • Roast dinner
  • Antiques Roadshow and Songs of Praise. We don't watch these TV programmes but I like to have them on because they are so 'Sunday'
  • Sunday tea (boiled eggs, buns, crumpets, jam, honey)
  • A wildlife programme (we all enjoy these)
  • Kids in the bath, brushing wet hair, trimming toenails, bedtime
  • A costume drama (nobody does it better than the BBC - Cranford was superb)

We don't do all of these things every Sunday, just some. It's enough to set us up for the week ahead.

Monday tomorrow, 6 days till the next Sunday - *sigh*.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Things I love about Britain No. 4


And it really is here. There is that incomparable feeling of joy when you go outside and feel, for the first time in months, the warmth of the sun on your face. I felt that on Friday. There really is nothing like it. To me it is a gift, a promise, a sense of hope. It makes me smile.