Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Every morning I can be spotted filling the birdfeeders - usually before my own breakfast. If I don't go out straight away the sparrows in the hedge get louder and louder, as if they're telling me off!

The sparrows are usually the first visitors, closely followed by the starlings who then squabble over the first baths of the day.

We also have a robin, a pair of ringed doves and a family of wood pigeons: they are ground feeders and rely on picking up the bits that the others knock down. A flock of 7 or 8 jackdaws turn up when they see the commotion. Until recently, they also fed from the ground. They're quite striking birds, with pale eyes and a grey neck.

This one seemed to be wondering about the source of the "manna from heaven"...

Then one morning, one of them decided they're not too big to go straight to the source, and we've now bought a stronger birdfeeder. The previous one has vanished altogether, whether they actually flew off with it I don't know - but it's not in the garden!

The bird feeders were originally intended for the resident families of blue tits and great tits, but they wait until the noisy early crowd have moved on and refuse to be photographed. This week we've seen our first pair of goldfinches, exquisite little birds that I really hope I can photograph. Do you feed the birds? Who is your favourite?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

King Lear MeerKat

Many many moons ago I studied English Literature A level, and King Lear was one of our set texts. Little did I realise way back then that one day I would be commissioned to knit the noble king - meerkatted!

My commission went one step further, however: not *just* King Lear, but Sir Derek Jacobi's King Lear!

He's now on his way across the pond to his new home, but I begged leave to share him with you, along with a few of the quotes I learned so many years ago to sprinkle into my essays!

"Every inch a king."
- William Shakespeare, King Lear, 4.6.109

"O! let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven;
Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!"
- William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.5.51

"Striving to better, oft we mar what's well."
- William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.4.346

I liked this quote as I'm often guilty of not stopping soon enough, but keeping on and on trying to improve something that is fine already!

For Lear's coronet I used strands of embroidery floss and knitting yarn, some plaited, some woven, with a few autumnal leaf and bloom beads threaded through. I deliberately added in some "loose ends" to add to the rustic appearance and illustrate the unravelling of poor Lear's mind.

Deep, aren't I? ;-)

Many thanks for such a fun commission!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Murmuration of starlings

We were thrilled to see the starlings "doing their thing" in Brighton recently, and I was snapping frantically as we hurried towards their roosting place on the (remains of) the Western Pier.

Naturally, when we got near enough for a decent photo, they settled down to sleep - but it was great to see them swooping and swirling in the sky, moving as one, even though I was not able to get the fabulous shots I wanted!

You can see the starlings performing on video here , courtesy of the RSPB.

And finally - MrNifty snapped a photo of me with a halo (it's the new Brighton Wheel)

Friday, 25 November 2011

At the beach with ... Professor Brian Cox!

What a surprise!

We went for a walk along the beach at Camber, East Sussex - a gorgeous Autumn morning.

I was snapping the waves and the seagulls when we spotted a group of people clustered around a professional-looking camera. I turned to MrNifty and said (apropos of nothing) "If that's Professor Brian Cox he's on my list, OK?"

As we got nearer - OMG it really WAS Professor Brian Cox *swoon* (click on the pics to enlarge)

This is one of several circles in the sand he drew - according to the roadie they didn't have the budget for a helicopter, just a stick to draw with.

He certainly worked that stick hard though, he drew quite a few circles before settling on a camera-worthy version.

This last is my favourite photo - random dog-walkers wandered straight through the middle of the shot and the dog actually dropped his ball at the feet of the man himself, who kicked it for him. I *knew* I should have obtained a dog...

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Moving on...

Many of you will know we've been trying to sell our house and relocate to the seaside - well, today is the day we finally give up on that dream for now.

It's been 7 months, we've had two "definite" buyers who have each dropped out. The first lost their own buyers, and the second was wooed away by another (slightly bigger) house in our street suddenly appearing for sale at £15,000 less than ours. Frankly, I'd have chosen that one too! After such a long time of keeping the house spotless, being relentlessly positive and finding somewhere to buy (twice!) we need a break. We'll try again when the market settles down (hollow laughter)

So - we're whistling along with the Monty Python boys "always look on the bright side of life" (nsfw)

I'm also concentrating on getting ready for Christmas! There are still plenty of meerkats in stock in each of my shops: Payvment Zibbet Etsy Folksy

and ... I've been knitting teeny weeny stockings, so until I run out all meerkat orders will come with a stocking for him/her to hang up for Santa!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Guess who I'm seeing tomorrow?


Last time I saw this band it was at Bournemouth Winter Gardens, 1973 I think, the Topographic Oceans tour ... a school trip!

Sadly Rick Wakeman isn't at this gig, but he's being replaced by his son which I think is quite a nice touch. Just discovered Jon Anderson isn't going to be there either :-( but it'll still be fun, a blast from the past.

the "new" lineup talk about this year's album - I'm pleased to hear the new singer has a touch of Jon about him.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


It's not often I splash out my hard-knitted cash on anything that isn't strictly necessary, but I had to have this:

It's a medieval style chess set, inspired by the famous Isle of Lewis chessmen. According to Wiki they were discovered in 1831 and were 12th century! You'll have to go to the British Museum in London, or the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, to see the originals, but you can buy these fabulous hand-made replicas from Ogg the Clever.

My tatty card chess board does not do them justice, so I'm gong to try to sweet talk my aunt. She has a lovely chess table which she's left to me in her will, but I clearly need it now ;-) The table (I must take a pic next time I visit) was handmade by my grandfather who was a master carpenter and builder and these pieces will look stunning on it.

Ogg the Clever has other versions too, I strongly recommend a visit to his shop. He says: "Each set is hand cast, painted, stained and lacquered to give a durable high quality result yet still retaining a certain ceramic and antique finish. They also all have hand cut soft felt bottoms, lucky things! The colours for this set are Moroccan Red for the dark and antique stone for the light.

The king is approx four inches in height which makes it a little higher than the ordinary Lewis sets and would suit a standard tournament board (not included I'm afraid) with squares about two inches or more."

Like I said - my aunt's table will be perfect! The fine details are amazing, it's like standing in an old church admiring the carving on the tombs (yep, my idea of good day out!)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Last Posting dates!

It's official - the Christmas rush is underway! I only have the one pair of hands, so if I need to knit to order for you, the earlier you order the better, you can find my shops here :-)

According to Royal Mail, the last dates for shipping from the UK in time for Christmas are as follows (but PLEASE allow longer, especially if you need to ship your parcel on again to the lucky recipient!)

Mon 5th December: South & Central America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Far East (including Japan), Australia and New Zealand

Fri 9th December: Eastern Europe, USA and Canada

Mon 12th December: Western Europe

UK - 20th December but I expect my fingers will have been worn to the bone long before then!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Look what I won!

I was browsing for merchandising material last week, wondering about ordering some badges, when I came across a competition run by Awesome Merchandise. I can't resist trying for freebies, so I set to work. The task was to write a poem about (funnily enough) Awesome Merchandise.

Here's my entry (I know, it's not exactly Poet Laureate)

Banner, badge, keyring or card?
I can’t choose, it’s just too hard!
Caps would be cool, or maybe fridge magnets
I could even order some customised drumsticks

Lighters to wave at arms’ length at gigs
Or for hardened smokers, to light your cigs
Mugs for my coffee, picks for guitars
Mirrors for admiring myself from afar

Posters, postcards, stickers and shirts
There’s so much choice it almost hurts
Zipper pulls, flyers, canvas prints for my art
You’re awesome (you knew that!) you’re the one that I *heart*!

I didn't win (I know, you're surprised) but I did get a goody bag:

I have to say I'm impressed with the range and the quality. It's been 30 years or more since I last needed a lighter, and I confess I nearly set fire to myself trying out my freebie - yep, I held it upside down!

Thanks Awesome Merchandise!
I recommend keeping an eye on their facebook page in case they have any more competitions coming up.