Thursday, 30 January 2014

Birds & Art Class - Week 4

Rain, rain and yet more rain!  Everything is soggy wet, grey and generally miserable, however, a little brightness can appear if you just look.  I find joy in watching the birds go about their business and today was not disappointing as I spied a little Dunnock foraging in the grass around where the birds feeders are.

The little Blue Tits are always a delight and are seen everyday and never fail to bring a smile to my face as I watch them feeding on the nuts.

Today was my fourth art class and I took along my textured painting to do some more work on it.

Well actually I wasn't convinced I wanted to do any more to it, but the teacher thought I ought to...I reluctantly agreed, after all that is why I am going to learn something!  While there I thought I had made some improvements, but looking at the two pictures now, I am not so convinced!

 I still don't like it, but my younger son has and said he would like it so he can probably have it.

Of course it is hard to show on here and does look better from a distance.

I started my next rather ambitious project which is to paint a bird...I have sketch them before and used water colour pencils but not acrylics so this should be interesting.  I didn't get a lot of time as it was right at the end of the lesson so it is just a start.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Stunning Flowers

DH and I had lunch out today at one of our favourite garden centre tea room.  We went for a wander around after lunch to admire all the gorgeous plants.  Some that took my eye were....

Fabulous Bird of Paradise plant

The largest and most stunning display of Cyclamen I have ever seen.

Gorgeous Orchids.

We walked off a lovely lunch by taking Percy for a nice walk when we got home.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Big Garden Birdwatch

Between 3pm and 4pm today I took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch for the RSPB

The most I saw at anyone time was:

6 Blue Tits
2 Blackbirds
1 Dunnock
1 Great Tit
1 Magpie
3 Long Tailed Tits
2 Wood Pigeons

We often see more than this, but it was later in the afternoon and it was pouring with rain on and off during the hour I recorded the birds.

I managed to photograph - through the patio window so as not to disturb the birds plus it was raining!

Blue Tits.

Closer picture of the same blackbird

Long Tailed Tit.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Third Art Class

Well I am not sure I want to show what I did this week.  We worked on our textured board that we made last week and whilst I enjoyed experimenting I really do not like what I produced at all.  I think it is too abstract to me (either that or just a plain mess!) The result does not really match the picture I was trying to 'copy'  I did learn a little about mixing colours though which was useful.  It can probably do with a lot more work on it yet, but in reality I am not sure I am going to bother.  

Thursday, 16 January 2014

My Second Art Class

I went to my second art class today and had a chance to venture into painting with acrylic paints.  I haven't really painted since I left school and I have never used acrylics before so this was indeed a learning experience. I have certainly never tried painting scenery before!   I feel I 'messed' it up a bit, but will leave well enough alone now and hopefully have learnt something for next time.

Of course it looks better from a distance....a long distance!

We also prepared a board for some textured painting that we will start next week.  This involved painting PVA glue over the board and then layering with tissue paper.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A Two Year Plan

The call of New Zealand is always with me and in 2005 after our last holiday there together as a family, and some serious searching around various areas I thought we were finally going to go.  We came home, packed up all the books from the bookcases in the hallway (and there were a lot!) into book boxes and decorated both the hallway and lounge in preparation to put our house on the market.  Two years later I finally unpacked those books resigned to the fact that it wasn't going to happen and just got on with things and enjoying the musical opportunities and other activities I did, namely showing and breeding cavies.  Nine years later with the loss of the music and cavies the pull to return to New Zealand has returned with a vengeance...and this time it WILL happen. I miss the space, the friendliness and openness of the people and the weather.  I am just so sick and tired of grey skies, damp and cold weather and although we had a lovely summer this year, it was the first one for a very long time!   Our younger son now only has one and half years left of schooling so the time has come to start working towards this goal in earnest.  

This will take a mammoth exercise in clearing out the loft, working out what will stay for us to take with us and what will have to go.  With an end goal in sight I feel this will help hugely with my past futile attempts at trying to declutter!

Many things will have to go, including the majority of my lovely Singer Sewing Machine collection as really it is just not feasible to entertain trying to transport it all those thousands of miles.  I will keep my 201 in the cabinet, my 221K and hopefully a treadle - for those days there are power cuts!  I will have to go through our massive collection of books - again we will have to be realistic about what to keep and what will have to go.  There really is a lot to think about!

I will have to work hard at keeping my husband on board with this huge move as I have learnt the hard way that leaving it up to him and it won't he will need to concentrate on working to enable us to finance this move, especially now I am unable to teach and play any more

One thing we are both agreeable on is the type of property we want which is always a good thing.  We want privacy, some native bush and a little bit of land but not too much that it is unmanageable as it will be me that will do most of the work trying to maintain it.  

My aim is for us to be out there by 2016 at the latest, so there is a lot to do and think about in what will turn out in reality to be a short space of time.  

So time to pull in the reins, harness our thoughts and put them to work.

Friday, 10 January 2014

My First Art Class.

As some of you will know I have been dabbling in drawing and sketching for a little while now but have never had any formal lessons and am very much a beginner.  I have wanted to take an art class for ages but have been scared/wary of joining for fear of not being 'good enough', this being perhaps a remnant from my childhood school art lessons.

Well on Thursday morning armed with my Derwent Water Colour pencils and an Art Pad found under the bed in my DS1's bedroom that had never been opened I set off for my first official art class.

When I got there I realised I didn't have any of the correct equipment, made notes on what would be needed and set to work with what I had.  My first attempt - which was a scene with an old trailer in the woods was very quickly abandoned and I opted for a picture of an owl instead...

It is not finished yet, but I am quite happy with my first 'official' piece of art work.  It lacks depth but maybe I can still improve that somewhat.  

Will I go to another class?

You bet, I was made to feel very welcome and lots of advice was given, but not overbearing, I was allowed to also 'get on with it' so nice balance was achieved.

What did I do Thursday afternoon?

I went out and bought a load of art supplies of course!  I am now significantly less well off than I was earlier in the morning!  I can see this could well be another expensive hobby!  My husband asked me why I couldn't have just have one hobby like other people?  Why?  That would be boring of course!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

On Friends...

I've been thinking a lot about friends over the last few months, not continually of  course but quite frequently.  My thoughts have been along the lines of: What makes a good friend? How do you define friendship? How easy is it to make friends? What do you expect from a friend? Do we use the term friend too freely now when perhaps the term  associate is more appropriate - especially with the advent of online groups and social networking sites where we have 'friends' many of whom we may never ever meet in person. How do you decide whether they are really a friend or not?  Are friends mostly made and formed by a certain age?  Is it harder to make good friends as you get older, as many people by their late 30s already have firm friendship groups established.

The Oxford Dictionary states this definition for Friend:


  • 1a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations:she’s a friend of minewe were close friends
  •  (used as a polite form of address or in ironic reference) an acquaintance or a stranger one comes across:my friends, let me introduce myself
  •  (one's friendsarchaic one’s close relatives.
  •  a person who supports a cause, organization, or country by giving financial or other help:the Friends of the Welsh National Opera
  •  a person who is not an enemy or opponent; an ally:she was unsure whether he was friend or foe
  •  a familiar or helpful thing:he settled for that old friend the compensation grant
  •  a contact on a social networking website:all of a sudden you’ve got 50 friends online who need to stay connected

So this tells me a little, but it doesn't really answer my questions any more than I already knew.

Wikipedia has this to say about Friendship:

Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. 
Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of friendship. Such characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other's company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one's feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgement from the friend.

There are several things I can pick out of this which is exactly how I feel friendship should be, highlighting HONESTY and TRUST but in reality everything in the paragraph that lists the characteristics a friendship should include.

Another website, Reach Out says this about friendships:

Signs of a Good Friend:
Friends will come and go in your life, but more important than how long a friendship lasts, is that a good friend will love you for who you are. The way you can tell the sign of a good friend is by looking at the actions they take –big and small – that show they care.

Some common signs of a good friend include 
  • someone who will support you no matter what
  • someone you can trust and who won’t judge you
  • someone who won’t put you down or deliberately hurt your feelings
  • someone who is kind and has respect for you
  • someone who will love you because they choose to, not because they feel like they should
  • someone whose company you enjoy
  • showing loyalty
  • being trustworthy and willing to tell you the truth, even when it’s hard
  • someone who can laugh when you do
  • someone who is willing to stick around when things get tough
  • someone who makes you smile
  • someone who is there to listen
  • someone who will cry when you cry.
So reading all this and  putting it altogether is exactly what I thought friendship is all about, trust, honesty, support when needed, someone to laugh with, cry with, have good times with and of course much more.  Why is it then that I find it more and more difficult to understand the way 'friends' treat each other.  It seems that so many gossip, say one thing to one person, then something different to another, honesty and integrity seems to have flown out the window with many.  Or perhaps it has always been like this?  True we can't like everyone, and that of course is fine and in these situations the person is clearly not going to be a friend, but why pretend otherwise if this the case?  Is it a case of 'you scratch my back, and I will scratch yours'? 

Is it because we make 'friends' too easily now with the advent of social networking and online groups? Perhaps, but not completely as even those people I meet in person who I come to think of as friends, put my trust in, share my thoughts etc. with, seem to have the capacity to hurt and bewilder and leave me feeling confused as to who my friends actually are.  I am fairly sure it isn't just me that has observed this either. 

Personally I do think it is harder to make friends the older you get, especially in well established circles where friends have been made and forged for many a year.  That is of course one of the problems with moving round and living in different places.  Those that have stayed in one area are going to perhaps have friends who they have known since the year dot and as such it is much harder to join in with those groups and form lasting friendships. You may think you have formed good friendships but they often turn out to be rather superficial. 

Surely honesty, integrity, being true to oneself and friends should be something we all strive for? If you say you are going to do something, offer something etc., surely you should try to honour these things? If you are unable to fulfil/honour something you said you were going to do then you should at least explain, give options and of course apologise.  If I say I am going to do something I try and jolly well do it, even if it takes me a lot longer than my original intentions.  I would hope that others would know this through knowing me and I believe that they do, if they have taken the time to really know me and who I am.  I would certainly never knowingly hurt or upset someone.

So although I already knew the answers, the term 'friend' still seems to elude me in that I have come to the conclusion that I am too trusting and open, I really don't understand people at all, especially those that I have thought of as friends. I now feel much more wary and suddenly I have far less trust than I used to have which I think is actually quite sad.

So I think the term 'acquaintance' is much more apt in many situations rather than 'friend'. Friends should be people who you can trust to be kind and truthful to you and this of course is reciprocated both ways.

Cheeky Robin on alert for anything that might be disturbed in the garden.

Long Tailed Tits visited the garden this morning - only managed to get the one shot of them though.

The first flower for this year - a gorgeous Primrose.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


Trying to get back into doing my crafts more and spending less time on the computer!  

Yesterday I had to go out to get ONE ball of wool so I could finish a sweater I was making.  I was only a few rows from the end before I ran out - typical!  Did I come home with only one ball of yarn?  Of course I didn't...a few more seemed to make their way up to the counter and into my shopping bag as well.

I was pleased to find the silk/cotton blend balls in the plastic bags for 50p for two balls - definitely a bargain indeed.

With my love of birds I thought I would try this cross stitch, it was only a £1 in the CS.  I used to do a lot of cross stitch when I lived in NZ but it seems to have fallen by the wayside in the UK partly due to the lack of real good light.  Still I am determined to give this a go and if I find I am struggling I will take it with me to do while in NZ.

After the discovery that the diary/planner I had bought for 2014 didn't include Saturdays or Sundays (are we not supposed to have any plans in the weekend?) I had to go and buy another, so took advantage of the Pound Shop.

I also treated myself to not one, but two fountain pens!  They cost rather more than a pound each from WH Smith! One to use at home and the other to take out and away with me.

I have started practising my cello again - hoping I will be more consistent this time.  I have a lesson booked as my teacher is well again fortunately so I am looking forward to that.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Blue Monday

It has been several years since I have taken part in this and thought it would fun to try and join in again.

You can find out more about  'Blue Monday' blog party here.

My contribution for today is:

A glimpse of blue sky, complete with blue pegs and blue washing line!  It was a good thing I took the photo in the morning because by early afternoon the weather was terrible. Grey dark, wet and windy and it is the same here today.

My book for the year also has a blue cover!

Finally a third contribution:

My Mum and Dad have had this picture hanging up in their home for as long as I can remember so when I saw this small print by Vernon Ward in a charity shop yesterday morning , I couldn't resist.

'Safe Anchorage Mousehole' complete with blue sea.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I think the birds are pleased to have a readily available food source in this terrible weather.


Okay, so I am bored,  no real pearls of wisdom or post of interest to start the New Year off, just a little bit of nonsense and fun.

A few friends enjoying each other's company.

Peter Panda, my childhood Panda who got cuddled until he wore out...  Gordon Golly, a Golliwog made by Robin Rive's daughter Brigitte from New Zealand.  Bernard Woolley, named after a certain character in Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minster, and Big Panda, a recent adoptee, who is made by the same company as Peter, but is bigger.  Plus he doesn't seemed to have been loved as much as he is still quite plush!