Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Perils of Penelope

After a late meeting in Romsey on Friday night, I started the drive home at about 12.15am. There were pockets of mist on the dark, country lanes, it was cold and a wee bit spooky, and I was in the car on my own. As I reached the village of Hursley, a man appeared in the middle of the road. I slowed the car down a bit, but he still didn't move. I veered to the left. He moved to the left. I veered to the right, so did he. I couldn't drive on without potentially hitting him, or mounting the kerb.

I didn't have much choice but to slow down to a crawl, at which point he loomed over the bonnet and then tried to open the car door. It was at this point that fear turned to bloody minded anger. I could literally feel a wave of it surge up from the pit of my stomach which only seconds before had turned to pure jelly. I bawled "no you don't!" in what I hoped gave the impression of a redoubtable middle aged lady in possession of a very heavy and potentially lethal handbag. I shoved the car in reverse and pressed the pedal as hard as I could. I expect I zigzagged across the road, but at least I did it at speed!

Because he'd had to move over to the side of the road to get at my door, this left the rest of the road clear so I got the heck out of there.

Now, I think the young man in question was the worse for wear. But even so. You don't expect to stumble across something not unlike a scene out of "American Werewolf in London". You know, the bit when they're on the moor, near The Slaughtered Lamb pub.

You don't get werewolves near Winchester and I jolly well hope it remains that way.

I was shaken, but not stirred.

(This week, in between defending myself from lunatics at midnight, I have been mostly reading The Aviary Gate and trying to crochet an alpaca).

Friday, 20 March 2009


A couple of weeks ago, myself and Mr Cat (who booked the weekend away in double quick time before I had time to display any signs of wavering) made the relatively short journey from Winchester to Tintern. On Friday, after work, it still only took a couple of hours. Why do I forget that it's possible to do these things, and still be back in time for when small cat is dropped off by his father on a Sunday? Tsk!

Lots of nice arches and stuff

Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that I've decided NOT to give everyone a history lesson, as is my wont. I have to admit I'm struggling though. Tintern was one of the religious institutions dissolved by Henry VIII in the 1530's...

Phwoarr! Look at that view!

...and your useless blogging host took this here course called "Papists and Puritans in 16th Century England" as a wee history student. So you can understand why I'm fit to EXPLODE!

More nice arches

But since I bore even myself on this topic, I won't overdo it too much. Save to say that the Abbey is located in a beautiful spot, and we got there as it opened on Sunday morning, with the sun shining. And it looked glorious. Although it is difficult to escape a certain sense of sadness that such a thing came to pass, that a whole way of life - yes, sometimes corrupt, but no, not always - and such an intrinsic part of the social and cultural fabric of the country, could be destroyed in such a short time. It was nothing short of catastrophic and possibly one of the most significant historical events on these islands. STOP NOW, WOMAN!

If you want to go to Tintern, it's worth the visit. You also have Raglan and Chepstow castle within easy driving distance. We went there on St David's day, and entry was free, which was rather nice. We ate the night before in the Royal George, just opposite the Abbey (which is lit up at night and looks rather eerie). Our meal was very civilized and pleasant and Mr Cat was most impressed by his lamb shank. It did make him walk a bit funny though - kerboom tish!

If you want to read something palatable about this period of history, but don't want a big old stuffy history book with cobwebs all over it, and dust and wafer thin pages which fall to bits as soon as you look at them, then I have just the thing!

Murder, mystery, suspense, and the dissolution of the monasteries - what more could you need. And he's a very good historical novelist, so hopefully you won't be disappointed.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Fame at Last!

Well no, not really. Just a minor excursion on to a mainstream UK blogging site, but even so.

UK Handmade featured Cynthia the Squid on their front page on Sunday. Ok, she's not exactly a best seller is dear old Cynth, but I'm rather fond of her. She has angry green eyes and looks as if she's about to nut someone. I like that in a toy. Less so in a person, but in a toy squid I think it's probably just about ok.

Are you looking at me?

And having her as an example to illustrate an item about amigurumi has made me feel chuffed to bits.

Three cheers for the Squid.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

No light at the end of the box

As you know, I tried to make a lightbox recently. It appears that one of these things is essential for getting your craft wares photographed nicely for sale. They provide a clean, crisp background for your products, and capture the light properly. Well, anything which helps take nicer photographs is fine by me for the following reason;


So I looked up "Lightboxes". They're expensive. Too expensive for me. I saw one on eBay (gggrrrr!!!) which was about $10, but the p&p turned out to be something like $45,00000.

But help was at hand - some of my fellow crafters had made their own for less than a tenner, using only an old box, a discarded sheet, some scissors, tape and a bit of card. And apparantly, the whole thing would only take thirty five seconds to produce!!! And look, here are the instructions!!!

I got snipping. Several hours, a lot of debris on the carpet and a very red and angry face later, I produced this pile of rubble;

That badger is not impressed. Small Cat's plastic trees are pathetic. It looks like some stuff in a box which has been butchered by an angry woman with a red face and draped with badly cut fabric. But hang on a minute.... with a bit of fine tuning, you get this little beauty....

It's uncanny! You could almost believe you were in an ACTUAL FOREST!! Just looking at this I swear I can hear the twitter of birdsong and the distant sound of gunshot.

I think the main problem was the failure to establish the correct lighting. Daylight bulbs (almost impossible to find, but I did eventually track some down) are all well and good, but taking a photograph with one hand whilst waving a table lamp above your head with the other isn't how a professional is supposed to work.

This one wasn't too bad though. You can see a reasonable amount of detail. I don't remember him having red eyes when I took the picture. Blasting him with a flashlight and a daylight bulb obviously took their toll.

To end on a high note - the Gelati box in the picture belonged to Ex Mr Limecat. Cutting it to shreds was in some ways quite cathartic. Yes, childish I know. But I don't care.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Gang aft agley

This weekend, as befitting any self respecting mouse or man, I laid some schemes. Small cat was with his father for the weekend, and Mr Cat had gone to a gay wedding in Newcastle. I had a whole day to myself, and lots and lots to do.

My plan was as follows;
  • Blitz the pile of ironing in the laundry basket
  • Finish off an unsewn, unstuffed badger and pop it on Etsy
  • Sort out the terrible mess created whilst trying to make a lightbox earlier in the week (don't ask)
  • Possibly paint some more of the tiles in the kitchen, or even strip some more wallpaper.
  • Sort out the mass of DVD's lying around without covers and catalog them (because I am anal like that)
  • Organise life.

These tiles are a mess and need sorting out...oh look - tea!

What actually happened was this.

  • Woke up at 9am
  • Made tea, went back to bed with danish pastry and laptop.
  • Read Guardian online
  • Remained in dressing gown until midday BECAUSE I COULD!
  • Went and had a hair cut
  • Browsed in Monsoon and stroked two blouses (but did not buy as I cannot afford £65 for a single item of clothing no matter how luscious)
  • Went into two craft shops and purchased some card and some daylight bulbs for the purposes of completing the lightbox (see! I did achieve something!)
  • Had cup of coffee and cake whilst reading Private Eye in cafe
  • Went home
  • Made more tea and blogged.
I did finish the lightbox, though. I'll be writing more on this in a later post. But until then, a word of warning. When someone says "oh, it's so easy to make this at home. All you need is ten minutes, a scissors and some card", tell them to go away and come back when they've learned not to tell lies.
The worst lightbox in the history of the world. Ever.

On a positive note, when I checked my mail I discovered that I'd had an order for a pattern all the way from sunny Italy, so it wasn't an entirely unproductive day.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Rugby = Octopus

Every 6 nations team should have it's own octopus. And now, two of them do!

Sad to say, the attempt to make all six ended prematurely when I lost interest and couldn't be bothered anymore. Yes, I'm ashamed. So now I have Denis and Daffyd moping about the house and, after what happened at the weekend, they're not getting on very well. Daffyd has been weeping into his leeks whilst Denis has been insufferably smug and keeps shrugging nonchalantly.

Anyway, here's Denis, in the snow, looking insufferably smug.

"la plume de ma tante; le singe est dans l'arbre; Vous avez perdu, le Pays de Galles"

And here is Daffyd, the day after his defeat, threatening to hurl himself off Raglan Castle in protest. Fortunately a Cadw employee coaxed him down before anyone was hurt.

"Booo hooo!"

As a treat, we took Daffyd to Tintern Abbey on Sunday to cheer him up. It certainly cheered me up. A weekend in Wales was just the ticket. And yes, we did do a walk, around Tintern and up into the hills, but more on that later.

I think Daffyd is hiding behind one of the pillars. Sulking, probably.