Monday, 5 October 2015

September Scavenger Hunt

Fiona suggested joining in with Greenthumb's monthly photo scavenger hunt, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Always enjoy seeing how she's interpreted the list. Not that darned easy, as it turns out.




What I'd quite like to do. When no one's looking!



Unfurling ferns


In the days of old when I was bold... though things didn't always go smoothly. There's a good reason why I look rather surprised in this picture...






My view for a good chunk of the day. Spend so much time in the car!

Whatever you want

Humbug perching precariously.

Pop over to Made with love to see more lovely collections, and to find out what's on the list for October.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Bag a bargain

I went to the Abergavenny Food Festival last weekend and fully intended to take some photos, but got distracted...
Hard to know where to look really, or what to try, with stalls of glorious food everywhere. So much choice! Seems to bring out my indecisive side though, and think I actually end up buying less than I would at a smaller affair. Pricey too, £20 can disappear in the blink of an eye. Especially with kids in tow. This year I'd also promised myself I wouldn't buy anymore tempting relishes/chutneys/sauces - something about Food Festivals just makes me feel I need jars of lovely stuff... that sit in the cupboard or the fridge forever.
So I managed to resist the jars and came home with some cheese, and this... totally un-food related item.

There was one small bric-a-brac stall tucked between the toasted cheese sandwiches, falafels, and calamari and chips, and this lovely, vintage handmade knitting bag was only £3. It's made of felt and has a pretty floral lining.

The bag needed a little repair, but nothing too serious. Keep wondering about the person who made it, obviously with a great deal of love and care. Do you ever do that?

How about this for an attempt at a neat-ish little crafty/food tie-in...

And no, sadly still haven't found my crafting oomph - I knitted the fish on a plate a while ago, from some tapestry wool bought in a charity shop. Lovely colours, and it was when I thought I'd have a crack at making cards with little knitted or crocheted things on the front. This tiny knit is as far as I got. I was going to write 'Seafood Diet' above it, then 'See food, eat it...' inside. Seemed like a good idea at the time! Anyway, I stuck a magnet on the back and it's now on our fridge.

In the hope of jump-starting a bit of knitting action, I have just signed up for my first Christmas craft fair in November. Though could quite possibly be the one and only....

Saturday, 19 September 2015


Last week was way more interesting than usual.

I went to Brussels and saw my husband.

A bit of a whirlwind trip it's got to be said. I left on Wednesday morning and was back in time for school pick up on Friday. But worth all that travelling.

He had a meeting there, and a day spare before flying far away again, so we thought why not? Once I'd worked out what to do with the kids....

I have been to Brussels before, my sister and brother-in-law lived there for a few years. Over a decade ago now which is hard to believe. Their eldest was a tiny little thing then, and she didn't sleep much, so, no one was up for a great deal of sightseeing. Though I do remember walking into the centre of Brussels one time - etched into my memory because it was miles from their flat, my sister was heavily pregnant and my niece wasn't a happy bunny. All the way there and all the way back.

We walked a lot this time too, sort of aimlessly, but no kids to entertain or feed - hours to wander and eat! Interestingly most of my photos seem to be of food... apologies for the quality - I'm not great with a phone camera.

Now obviously we had to try a Belgian waffle....with whipped cream and caramel sauce.
SO good.
Eyes on sugar stalks after that.
We were given the teeniest, flimsiest plastic forks to eat it with, so just got stuck in instead. 
Most ladylike!

And we had to have a cone of chips with mayo while we waited for the rain to stop.

We kind of stumbled into the Grand Place, which was actually quite a lovely way to do it - when you're not expecting something quite so breathtakingly beautiful.

The unmistakeable Gothic style; the countless, intricate statues adorning the buildings, and all that gold, twinkling in the afternoon sun. It's still a market place, as it always has been, and all the streets off the square are named after food - Poulet, Herbes, Fromage. Funny enough we ended up down one where there was nothing but chocolate shops. Quite a lot of stopping and staring at beautifully arranged displays.

And a noticeable number of chocolate cherubs holding their winkle.

In fact it's hard to escape images of Manneken Pis (little man pee) because this small bronze sculpture of a boy weeing into a fountain basin is one of Brussels most famous tourist attractions. We did go and have a look for ourselves (because it's near the chocolate shops), but I'm afraid I didn't take a picture, because the tinkling toddler was surrounded by people snapping selfies. And quite honestly I don't really get it.

I did a bit of Googling after, and although it wasn't absolutely clear why the Manneken Pis is so famous, he is undoubtedly loved by the people of Brussels. I mean they even dress him up several times a week, often accompanied by a brass band - and he has hundreds of costumes, for different events and from different countries. Fascinating really. Still don't get it though.

But I do get one of the other things Belgium is famous for. Tintin.
Created by the Belgian artist, Hergé. 

Sure Tintin's best friends are a dog and an alcoholic; he doesn't appear to know any women and would probably vote UKIP, but I've always been fond of Hergé's intrepid reporter. Who never appears to do any actual reporting.

I tagged onto an english speaking tour by this wonderful mural, just as the guide was explaining it was part of the Comic Book route. There are over 50 well known cartoons like this dotted around the city apparently. We went to the Belgian Comic Strip Centre for a bit more Tintin, but, I'm embarrassed to admit, completely missed the Hergé museum. This is what happens when you don't do your research properly!
Next time then.

When the waffle/chip/choc hit began to wear off we ended up strolling through a sort of busy food alley (Rue des Bouchers).

Dozens of restaurants jam-packed together, jostling for business, seats and tables spilling onto the narrow lane. Amazing to see, but stop for a minute to check out a menu board and you'll be pounced on by a persuasive patron looking for your business. Best to keep moving at a steady pace and scan as you go...
It is a notorious tourist trap, prices tend to be higher than elsewhere (often more than advertised on the boards, because that's apparently a 'small' helping price), and quality can be poor, but there is a great atmosphere. And we did end up having a pretty good steak and chips washed down with a glass or two of very pleasant Belgian beer.

Already feels a world away.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The mini kitchen hunt and other French finds

We had this standing joke that while my husband was away and I was on holiday with the kids in France, I'd find another vintage toy kitchen to add to the others lining the back wall of our kitchen...

Well, he thought it was a joke.

I was on a mission.

And I'd have dearly loved to have found another one. I'd have casually placed it in the background during one of our FaceTime chats - see if he noticed, but it was not to be, sadly. The only thing I spotted was a very lovely range cooker in the same style - 45 euros though! Way too steep for a small toy cooker. Not saying I didn't consider it. For about 5 seconds.

I think the great kitchen hunt meant I didn't take in much else during the few trips we made to Vide Greniers (car boots, french style), so I didn't come back with a lot this year, just a few bits and bobs really.

But love these - metal snowdrop tealight holders, and they look like they have a little age to them. Quite bendy and delicate, but managed to get them home without losing any petals or leaves.

Another floral enamel metalwork light. Over the years I've bought a few; because they're for nothing (never paid more than 5 euros) and I'm a soft touch for them. Maybe not so much for this wall light, as it's a bit newer and more gaudy than the others, but it was only a euro! Problem is they usually have to be rewired.

This is when you have to part with a bit of money.

I keep saying I'm going to teach myself how to do it - apparently it's not too difficult (though you need a qualified electrician to actually fit the light). A lovely guy in a sparkly decadent chandelier shop in Hay-on-Wye very kindly explained how to feed the wire through the metal flower stems; and I have looked it up on line, but then I think there'd always be an element of doubt...

Anyway, I found someone not far from us who can do it, and he's very reasonable. I know this, because of the hefty sum I paid the first time.

You can never have too many egg cups?

Anyone who pops by my blog on a regular basis will know how many egg boxes I get through! So, always plenty of eggs in this house. Really like the pattern, and only a euro for both of them.

Lovely vintage fabric on this cushion...'s full of not-so-lovely foam chips, and I haven't got round to replacing them yet. I bought the funny little vinyl covered box at the same time - only 50c - it's going to be my travel sewing box, so I don't have to lump around my toolbox-size one.

I'm hoping it'll help spur me into craft action, because I seem to have lost my sewing/knitting oomph.  Last summer I was incredibly industrious - not only coming up with cardboard animals for the zoo, but also making toys and decorations for various craft fairs. Honestly I look back on all that and can't quite believe I made so much stuff. Well I've sort of ground to a halt this year - apart from the knitted King Charles spaniel with the wonky leg.

There'll be no Christmas craft fairs unless I get going. Need to find my oomph!!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Last dance - Sunday photo

I know, more butterflies! But I was quite surprised to see so many floating about in September. A few looked like they'd had a tough summer; a little ragged round the edges, though lovely to watch them for a while, dancing amongst the flowers.

Linking up with My Sunday Photo over at OneDad3Girls