Sunday, 24 November 2013

Thank you all so much. And your kindness will provide a welcome distraction.

I was hesitant to ask for help. It felt like all those years ago and memories of school days when your Mum used to say " why didn't you put your hand up and ask?" when you could not do your homework.

Little did she know how daft you felt when everyone else seemed to have a firm grip on the situation.

But, am I glad I asked and I am even more glad to be surrounded by such generous folk. Advice,encouragement,offers of help, a concensus of agreement and just plain loveliness has made me feel really wonderful.

I have learnt so much and understand things so much better. I have often not followed new wonderful blogs That I have discovered because my blog list is so long. I had no idea you could follow blogs through a reading list. I either read posts because they were flagged up on my sidebar or through the wonderful activity I call Blog Hopping. An addiction I do not want to break.

Those spam comments were irritating me and Linda showed me how to clear the pesky things out of my bog. AND when I followed her instructions ( see the comments from my last post if you are troubled by them) there were over 8000 such comments. Most were boring,so boring but a couple caught my eye which made me laugh.

One of my posts was about having a PJ crafting day and there was a so am invitation to activate my web cam and do a sexy dance!!!! Not a pretty sight or thought for that matter.

I have now set up an email response to the lovely people who take time to leave me comments. I often felt I was not giving the same generosity back.

Anyway, I still have things to master and generally fiddle with but I think this tinkering time is going to prove to be a very welcome distraction to having to say "Goodbye" once again to our family and especially the edible William. Of course we have been spoilt having 3 weeks with nothing else to do but enjoy him. And we have so much. I was very tearful tonight when I read him his last bedtime story for a while. How wonderful to be Grandma and not care how many times you read the same story. Just that little chubby soul on your lap cuddled in makes story time perfect.

His favourite right now is "What The Ladybird Heard" by that wonderful author Julia Donaldson, of the Gruffalo fame. He can put in the last word in each sentence.

So we leave tomorrow, but I shall be looking at these photos ( and a million more ) so often when I get home.

A lovely group photo.

 

In the next photo I love that little hand gripping hold of us both.
 

 

We were lucky enough to see him enjoy a little friends Birthday Party.he was so funny. All the others had finished their tea but there was no way he was going to be distracted with cake around!



So much water play.

 

 

Buying him his very own Buster!

 

 
Just cuddling and singing Nursery Rhymes.

 

Yes, we are going to miss him but are going home with so many happy memories.

A wonderful friend reminded me of something she had read. It said you should be Grandparents before you have your own children and then you would truly appreciate your own little ones when they are tiny.

 

 

 

I remember another friend making me a Cross Stitch picture which said.

Quiet down cobwebs.

Dust go to sleep.

I'm rocking my babies.

And babies don't keep.

 

How very,very true.

 

 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

What absolute stars. Please can I barter a little more?

I have never been surprised by the generosity in Blogland. I have never encountered a negative response and only once, I believe,been misunderstood. That was sad as I promise my intentions were honourable but I obviously gave a different impression. Still, hey ho you can't win them all.

So, I asked for help. And help was forthcoming. Support,encouragement and kindness was tucked in as well.

Practical suggestions to my dilemmas. Offers of step by step help via email. I really think that those kind folk have no idea what they are letting themselves in for!

Also links to places where,when I return from Dubai I may be able to find what I am looking for.

So, where am I now.

  • I now receive emails when I have comments left on my blogs. This already has been useful in two areas. The first to answer personally the people who have helped me already. Secondly it has alerted me to the fact that 229 people have left a comment on a post I wrote 2 years ago. 220 of which are spam!!!!!!
  • Please help me with this one. Although I am a very patient person I honestly have not got the time to delete 220 comments. And perhaps this has been going on on many old posts without me realising it. BUM.BUM,BUMMER!!! So how do I close the comments section on a post
  • Going back to the positives I now have a topic/label cloud.Whoop Whoop!
  • And I have another lovely follower.
  • That has brought up another quandary . If someone chooses to become a follower why does your blog not show in their side bar? I do have a lot of followers but sometimes have very few comments. And I guess if your blog does not show up on the followers sidebar new posts are not flagged up. I know its that Mr Ego who thrives on comment numbers but sometimes he just won't lie down and be quiet so it got me wondering.
  • I have also decided that I would like to finish each post with my signature. Chalky is great as it is my husbands pet name for me and I love my World but I would like to sign off in a more personal way. I have a feeling that getting that up and running could take me a while. Why does a red mist come down when I see a load of letters and numbers all close together interspersed with brackets. Oh, I remember,algebra at school!
  • Well again I would like to say "Three Cheers" to the lovely commentators who have helped so much already. I am off now to try and delete those 220 comments and add labels for my cloud stretching back over about 500 posts. Could take me a while!!

 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A bit of bartering. Help please if you are able.

I lack confidence in my technical abilities quite often.

I am not very determined when I find things difficult.

I tend to take the easy option and let sleeping dogs lie.

I forget instructions really quickly. Well in truth I hate instructions full stop.Unless I practice a new skill or technique it filters off somewhere into the woolly compost of my mind and lurks there stagnating until I usually ignore it. There are so many examples of this kind of forgetfulness but I can't remember how many.

So, where is this leading? What do I want to achieve? How do I accomplish my desire?

I want to improve my blog but I don't know how to make my thoughts become a reality. I think what I want is possible but I simply don't know where to start.

So, dear Blogging friends can you help?

  1. I want to have my categories in my side bar in a type of word cloud.(labels?) Where,for example, all the crochet posts are in a group,travel,recipes etc. The headings are in bolder print and by clicking on them it directs you to the post in question.
  2. I want to be able, in the New Year to be able to reply to comments left so kindly on my blog by email.
  3. I want to be able to ask my followers if they can follow me publicly on their blogs so that the number of followers I have grows.
  4. I would love to know how to link into the lovely groups I see. For example CAL. Crochet Along or 52 weeks of happy or The Stashbuster Challenge.
  5. How do I add my Pinterest button to an individual post?

I am sure some more things will come to mind but if anyone could point me in the right direction with any of the above I would be so grateful, and as soon as I get back from Dubai I will send a little Christmas handmade gift as a little way of saying a special " Thank you" to the person who posted comment that comes out of the hat first.

 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

I am the strangest shopper ever. Or am I?

We have been in Dubai for 2 weeks now and are beginning to find our way around a little.
Our first venture was to visit the Dubai Mall. Surely it must be the largest Mall in the world?
On another outing we went to the Emirates Mall. To find a place to park was absolutely horrendous as it was so,so busy. Oh, and this mall is so big it has a snow dome large enough to house a ski lift! The free parking everywhere is brilliant though.
Now, I have spoken before about my quirkiness. It travels with me as a faithful friend. I almost treat such prestigious,expensive and almost regal places with an interested indifference. Of course I see the beautiful jewellery. Of course I can wonder at the handbags. I glance at the clothes as I pass. But I very,very rarely want to go in. It is just not for me. I suppose it could be considered to be very sad when I actually thought about going into Lakeland and looking at their wonderful cooking things whilst on a holiday!
The "Sporty One" is totally used to this. Of course his feelings are mixed with a large dollop of relief. I would not call myself high maintenance and that makes for an easier life all around. But, he is very patient in his approach to other areas of shopping. He knows wherever we go what really interests me is fabric,ribbon,yarn and buttons. And,I love him even more because he never says stupid things like "what are you going to make with that?" or " haven't you got enough buttons or ribbon?" In fact what he does say is " are you sure you have got enough!" And before you ask he is not for sale at any price, not even on loan.
Well,luckily I am well matched when we are staying with our daughter in law. She is exactly the same. So,we left the malls. We left the 7 star hotels. We left the tallest buildings. We left the 8 lane motorways and we went searching.
We went to an old part of Dubai. The streets were small. The roads narrow. The pavements narrower still and we found the textiles area. Shop after shop selling materials. I was in material heaven and could have chosen lots more. But,my stock is fat and my cupboard full at home so I was gentle on the shopping.
Hard when the cotton fabrics are about £2.50 a yard. Designs of every type and colour. Roll upon roll.
There are some more little babies due,so some of this material has been earmarked for my favourite bibs. And the pretty flip flops and fireworks lengths are going to be saved for some handy drawstring bags. Perfect.

So,happy with my fabric booty we walked a little further down the street. My morning was made even more perfect by the discovery of a Dubai haberdasheray. A shop far too small and packed with goodies to even house a Christmas cake decoration never mind a ski slope. Every shelf was full. Ribbons,buttons,bells,card embellishments and lots,lots more besides.


I decided not to push my luck by taking too long. The " Sporty One " was fine but the edible William was looking fed up being stuck in such a boring shop. He has a lot to learn!!! There were balls of wool high up but I left them for others and concentrated on selecting what I wanted from the buttons,bells and ribbons.


I have it in mind to make some shabby chic hearts from this material. I bought it in the fabric souk after some interesting haggling.

The red spotty ribbon will make hanging loops. As for the blue roll.Well it just jumped into my hand... As they do.

These little wooden buttons will finish the hearts off perfectly. I can just see them hanging up for Christmas.

Of course William was the star of the show and the man selling the head scarves soon whipped him up a totally suitable look for the souk!
I just love that bemused somewhat long suffering look!

 

So, nearly all my shopping was complete. Nearly,but not quite. Another favourite thing to do when we travel is to visit a local supermarket. Being here for 3 weeks has meant a few visits and the spice aisle is always one of the best places to browse. I was not disappointed. What a great amount for so few pennies. I have some special mixes in mind for small Christmas gifts. They smell divine and will remind me of such a wonderful trip. If we are lucky enough to visit again I might google a local cookery course. The Lebanese food we have been eating has been delicious.Falafels and Haloumi wraps spread with Hummous and pickles!

I have been following ( I really mean become addicted to) Pinterest for a while now and I have seen candles wrapped in Cinnamon sticks.So a few were popped in a bag to take home.

And last of all something I had never seen before. Dried lemons. Pop one inside a chicken. Add to Cous Cous or Bulghar Wheat and apparently the lemony flavour is delicious never mind the aroma.

So quirky but wonderful.

The perfect shopping combination.

I would like to end this post with a heartfelt vote of thanks to all my lovely followers who take the time to leave such kind and encouraging comments. They really do brighten my days. And whoop whoop thanks to a lovely new follower I have now reached 222 followers. Thank you all.

 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Evacuees.

Of course Remembrance Day makes us reflect on all the precious lives lost in every conflict. My children were little when the Belgrano was sunk and I just remember wondering what kind of world I was bringing them into.

My own experiences of war are few. I do not know anyone who has fought or even been in the army but my Mum and Grandma would often talk for hours about the war. The soldiers they knew. The friends who had been touched by a sadness like no other when they lost a loved one.

But I loved the stories about the evacuees who came to stay on my Grandma's farm in mid Devon best of all. My maternal Grandma was called Doris and she married Mark. The best of the bunch according to her!And together they had 3 children. Stanley,Kenneth and my mum Margaret.

Their farm was about 8 miles from the nearest town and Grandmas stories of her life made a big impression on me when I was growing up. If I was moany or needy she used to say "you don't know how lucky you are" And embark on a tale of the hardships she used to have to endure with her family. No heating,no electricity, no running water,no television,no washing machine and certainly no car. My Mum talked of all these things too. The blacksmith used to pull their teeth out if they had toothache!And wonderful stories of Grandad scaring would be suitors away with his shotgun.If my Mum managed to sneak out and meet a boy maybe they would have a cuddle under a hedge. And she would hear her Dad come shuffling up the lane in his boots with no laces and know there was trouble ahead!

Anyway, Grandma had her hands full with 3 children. Several farm hands to feed. Her own farm work to do. Collecting dozens and dozens of eggs,hand washing them, and taking them by a horse and cart to market to sell was just a small part of it.But the request came in her area for people to house evacuees. Because farmers had more food than some they were asked to take several children.

My Mum vividly remembers the day 3 children arrived on top of the horse and cart looking scared out of their lives. They came from inner London where the war was taking a terrible toll. There was a girl called Betty and then Olive and Charlie. Olive was 10 and Charlie was 2.They had never been outside of the city, so to come to a rural farm with complete strangers and farming ways must have been absolutely terrifying.Apparently they were very dirty and of course one of the first jobs was to be put in the tin bath,hair cuts and sorting out some suitable clothes for muddy farmyards and fields.Betty never settled and soon went home.

But Charlie and Olive were different.When I was a little girl Charlie used to come and visit my Grandma who lived with us every summer. I got used to this as they always seemed so pleased to see each other. He later bought his wife and their children and Grandma would talk to them for hours catching up and sharing news.

And after they left I would always ask to hear Charlie's story. . . . .

So,here it is.Charlie came to Devon as I said with his sister Olive when he was 2. Just about Williams age now. Olive being 10 meant that she was like a real Mummy to him. She apparently guarded him like gold. He was terrified of everything. The farm animals,the tractors,the farm workers and the pure darkness of the countryside.

During the day Olive went to the local school so Grandma had to help Charlie to settle somehow. As soon as Olive went to school he would either climb back into bed and hide under the covers or shut himself in the cupboard where the Wellington boots were kept by the back door. Not a word would he say but he cried a LOT!

Grandma was at her wits end until one day an orphaned lamb was brought into the kitchen and put in the very lowest warming oven of the Aga. Charlie peeped out from the cupboard all day at the lamb so Grandma made him a bed out of an old drawer by the Aga. The friendship between the lamb and Charlie was the key. The lamb was more frightened and on his own than Charlie. So day by day the lamb grew and Charlie became a changed lad. He fed the lamb and soon the bed was made bigger by the Aga for the lamb and Charlie.

I loved this part of the story so much.Thank goodness for that lamb because before long Olive was called back to London because her mother had had another baby and was ill so could not cope on her own.

So, Charlie stayed.

The story goes that as long as the lamb was near Charlie was fine. Of course being so young Charlie soon adapted and became a sturdy,healthy little boy. He thrived on the plentiful eggs,cream and butter from the dairy. The meat from the animals and the fresh air.

My Grandma had a real soft spot for boys and to see this dear little city boy turn into a Country boy made her so happy.Amazingly Charlie stayed with my Grandma and Grandad on the farm until he was 11. Unheard of really, but things were very difficult at home and he was like family.My Mum said it was like having another brother.

But,Charlie had to give up driving the tractors,helping with the hay making,herding the cows and sheep. Training the sheepdogs who were all called Mac and go back to the city to find a job when he was 12. The money would help the rest of his family so much and the war was long over.

So there we have it the story of Charlie. But,not quite. At my Grandma's,and, my Mum's funeral guess who made the effort to come all the way from Essex to Devon to stand beside us as we said our final Goodbyes. Charlie. When I thanked him with tears in his eyes he said "They were my family ."

Love can transcend any boundaries war can erect.Love can make mismatched families complete and Love can make us feel at home anywhere in the world.So,yes remember with thanks the brave men and women but remember also those dear children who struggled and the generous folk who took them into their houses and made them homes for as long as they needed one.

Charlie will keep those memories all his life and will tell his children and grandchildren about the time a city boy lived in the country.

 

 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Dubai Days.

Thank you all so much for all your encouraging comments about our trip to see our family in Dubai.

We have missed them so much. So it was wonderful just to relax on a plane and know we would soon be there.

I had no agenda, no lists of "must sees or do's!" I did not bring a holiday book and came with very little yarn. I always pop a hook and needles in my hand luggage and to date have never had a problem crafting aboard planes. I just would not worry if my hook or needles were confiscated. However,it certainly is a lovely way to while away the hours.

So,we have seen the tallest building in the world. We have seen the only seven star hotel in the world ( from the outside!) We have watched magical fountain shows where the water reaches 37 stories on a building high. An amazing place where houses live on palms and fish swim in shops.

Suites in hotel cost £13,000 a night and afternoon tea £75. Mind you if you fancy a cuppa there is a waiting list for a table!

The roads are crazy. Eight lanes awash with Lamborghini's, Ferrari's, Mezzarati's and the like.

But we were lucky enough to go to the old part of Dubai and walk along the Creek.

 

Where water taxi rides cost about 10 pence and cold drinks for just a few pence. The food we have tasted has been delicious and the people so friendly.

Of course for me the Souks were a real treat with winding passageways and mystical goods spilling out of doorways at every turn. Fabrics,gold,spices and colourful wares. The aromas reminding you of stories of old. There was both Frankincense and Myrrh in jute sacks. So many things I did not recognise and dared nor enquire about as a long explanation ensued and invitations to " just come inside Madam!"

Men wanting you to buy their wares and enter their shops for some serious bartering. A long time ago in my Chalky life I used to love bartering but I have now passed the crown on to my daughter in law who is much better at it than me.

So we wandered as the sun was setting. The old nestled happily with the new. As we walked the boats became twinkling stars against the dark water of the creek. My favourite place so far.

And I did come home with some beautiful bowls, some cinnamon sticks for Christmas crafting, some dried lemons ... Now they do look interesting and 3 traditional red head scarves. Not that we are going to start a new trend but they are of the most beautiful cotton and perfect for Shabby Chic hearts filled with Lavender.

 

So, we are having an amazing time. But the simple things in life are often the best. Catching up with our family. Spending time with William. Reading a million stories,swimming,going to the park,laughing and singing and just now,his favourite Hide and Seek!

 

 

And acrobatics with Grandad! He used to play just the same game with his Daddy!

 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Excited Rainbows.

I am feeling excited. There I said it!

But,first I have to say I am feeling thankful. The response to my last post was heart warming.

It certainly warmed my heart. To share words must be one of the most powerful ways to experience friendship and solidarity. Thank you all for taking the time to make me feel special,cared for and cared about by sharing your words with me.

Thank you also to my new followers.

Whenever I am excited I get massive butterflies and my tummy flip flops. I talk too much and worry a little.

So, when I am excited I pretend I am not. I craft quietly,I pretend nothing is happening and I try to ignore it all. The poor '" Sporty One" never sleeps the night before we travel. That's probably because he knows I am ignoring it all and he is responsible for everything.

He has given up worrying about my inability to go through the scanners without setting off the alarms.

Last time it was a pot full of Play Dough which apparently looked like plastic explosives!

So. I am packing my hook,my plastic needles and a big ball of wool. We shall see.

The excitement...... We are off to Dubai to see the edible William and our son and daughter in law early on Sunday morning.There I have said it again. I am so excited. I really do try not to be a painful Mother In Law. So although lots of little treats are tucked in the suitcase they are not over the top in a Grandma spoiling way.

Books,books and more books. How I have missed those little chubby arms asking to be picked up and share a story. That little curl of hair at the base of his neck and those magic words you hear when you are a Grandma reading a book " again."

A floor jigsaw bought for a few pennies from the Charity Shop.

William's teddies that he was not able to take but I have been showing him on Skype every week.

A swimming towel from his Great Grandmas house.

And a bendy snake. To play a trick on Grandad.

Actually there are lots of other things tucked in but I have been packed for a week so have forgotten some.

Of course we are looking forward to seeing our son and daughter in laws new home so far away.Once we have been we will be able to picture them going about their daily lives.

House warming gifts are lovely and I so wanted to make something.As always I got out my trusty hook.

I love the work of Loretta Grayson.. Have you seen her beautiful blog?

I was inspired by her cushion cover and made one of my own to take to Dubai. It is all about rainbows. Sunny,happy days. And I hope they love it.

All the colours I think about when I think of a young family sharing happy days,new adventures and an exotic land. I am so looking forward to visiting the old part of Dubai. The souks packed with fabrics,spices,materials and exotic things.

Tasting new things.

Sharing rainbows through the fountain shows.

 

The " Sporty One " looked at it after just securing all the suitcases, weighing them and declaring we were ready asked... " how are you are you going to take that!"

I said as hand luggage of course. I have double checked it for crochet hooks,scissors,needles!

So it really should not set off the alarms.

I definitely do think I am quirky. But that's fine.