Thursday, 16 April 2015

the way we were......

That's me and my Mum sitting in the garden, it's the summer of 1978. I am eight years old and my Mum is 45, the same age as I am now. I couldn't let a mention on my last post, about The Sound of Music and Julie Andrews, go by without showing you this picture! Here is my Mum with her Julie Andrews haircut wearing her very lovely 1970's embroidered blouse, although you can't quite see that. 

I remember my outfit so well, I loved that red gingham top, the red trousers with a Snoopy patch on the knee. The little purse round my neck and that hair. I think someone must have brushed it for me. I seem to remember just pushing it back in a hairband unbrushed most of the time! I imagine I was hoping it was looking like a Farrah Fawcett flick. My feet look so long I think they grew to an adult size before the rest of me did. I don't think it was an accident we were sitting in front of the red rose bush either.

My Mum was having quite a hard time I think having lost my Dad the year before, and as a child that perhaps was all a bit surreal. I was happy to be in that safe little world with my Mum and local buddies roaming around the street and gardens, I think that kept me going. Play was the order of the day, little clubs, mini adventures, off on our bikes. I think my Mum lay on the couch and watched Wimbledon. That's what I can remember! 

Monday, 13 April 2015

a thing or two about adventures....

I just wanted to say a thing or two about adventuring. For me adventures don't have to be far and wide. Sometimes just a little of the beaten track is all that's needed. Or even in the same old place, with eyes held open wide for treasure of course. A band of merry mates is a good thing, but sometimes alone will do, or even with a little dog. New discoveries are the thing.

yellow gorse on the common
The other day while walking on the common I dropped down the hill a little further than normal and discovered this lovely yellow gorse. I`ve only ever seen it at the coast so I was mighty pleased I wandered a bit further. Another thing that connects me to that wonderful place where the land meets the sea.

view of Woodchester village from the common
There it is on the slopes, with the little town of Woodchester below. Sometimes I'm quite sure I might be living in one of those Hornby railway sets with the hills and the houses and the church. I think if you press a button there might be the toot and a train might come winding through the hills! The chimes of the church and the sounds of the children playing outside at break time carry on up here in the breeze.

little dog posing in front of the gorse
There she is, my merry mate! Always willing to be in the shot.

I found a red pencil!
And did I find treasure? you bet I did....I found a red pencil! Just a bit further up. I took it as a sign, I take everything as a sign. Well the good things anyway. I think every adventurer/photographer should have a red pencil in their bag. To make handy notes and things you know.

wood anenome
And while having a `Sound of Music' moment,  I thought I might have found an Edelweiss. But that would apparently require travelling a bit further a field. I was duly informed by two people I found peering very closely that it was actually a Wood Anemone. So there you go. Urban girl traverses the Cotswold Hills!

Have a good week all.

Friday, 10 April 2015

`happy hearts`

I wanted to say thank you for all your comments on my Conchetta Conchetta post. I had no idea that in the middle of my photography course that I would be announcing her arrival. I was thinking about it and already had a draft post in my journal from last year, (don't tell her that!).
I wasn't sure the world was ready for Conchetta Conchetta, pronounced Conch(ee)tta Conch(ét)ta, or indeed I was.

another postcard from Conchetta Conchetta's suitcase
Then one night I had a dream about a piece of paper covered in glitter, (purple glitter funnily enough) and a glittery covered pen, and I knew it was time. Her name was quite certainly Conchetta Conchetta. On looking up the meaning of her name, in Spanish it is a reference to the immaculate conception. Which made me laugh when I considered her double name and thought about this post!
A little bit of further investigation led me to this, and it seems as though her name has other similar deviations from around Germany and Italy, so although her exact home village is a bit of a mystery she is indeed a creative maker from over land and sea.

Anyway today is the day to announce that we have made some little cards. 'Happy hearts' with folding cards for messages no less. In the hope that should you wish to send a dear one a little heart and message, you might consider these.

`smile` a happy heart gift card by my little red suitase
You can see the heart now becomes a card! And the heart if you so wish can easily be detached.

Leaving a little card with a message underneath....

`happy day` gift card by my little red suitcase
All that's left to do is dangle the heart in a happy place. All the heart gift cards have a happy place tag on them. They now rather remind me of teabags, the kind with a message attached!

`dear you` a happy heart gift card by my little red suitcase
And of course each little card comes with it's own little matching envelope. The card and envelope are made from recycled paper and the hearts from glorious vintage sheets!

a collage of happy heart gift cards by my little red suitcase
I may be back with some more shop news soon, in between the odd mini adventure of course, as there has been much happy making of late.

So all that's left to say is Olé!
and have a good weekend.

Monday, 6 April 2015


the seafront at Clevedon
This Good Friday we went on a jolly. This was quite an achievement for this household let me tell you. I didn't let the fact that I didn't leave the house with my reluctant teenager until after midday put me off. Neither did I allow the fact I had to navigate around two bridges I wasn't going to drive over stop me either. One of these being the Clifton suspension bridge....

One day I will drive over these bridges, as I have before. I will find my nerve again or possibly a wing man. Or the teen will learn to drive, whichever comes first. Perhaps I've reached the point where it can't all depend on me, I need to able to say okay you can drive now.

The little faded town of Clevedon is just south of Bristol, technically perhaps the estuary of the River Severn where it leads out to sea. But as we arrived the long awaited smell of salty sea, and that wide expanse of water with South Wales on the other side, the sea it surely was.

Clevedon still has it's beautiful Victorian pier. I think this really is the attraction. A walk along this truly vintage pier is the thing to do. The day was overcast, but the light and colours of the clouds and sea were just so amazing. I was in photographer heaven. It was all so beautifully calm, no breeze, or cool air. Just a quiet hush of clouds hovering over the sea. It was so tranquil. So Zen.

Walking down the wooden planks you can see little memorial plaques embedded all the way along. Fishermen quietly set up their rods here. The pier feels almost almost Japanese in style here, with it's little tea room sitting at the end. Almost other wordly, sitting in the middle of the calm sea. 

The end of the pier was like being on a boat. In it's heyday I think paddle steamers would pick passengers for boat trips from here. The passengers would climb down the staircase inside the building and embark there. We had several conversations about climbing the Eiffel Tower and being on the Titanic. The pier felt very evocative of those things.

Here's the little tea room in the, where you can sit inside and drink tea! We didn't do that this time, probably because I was trying negotiate the dog too. But I imagine on a more stormy day, if the pier is open, it must be quite a surreal retreat.

After doing Susannah's course I noticed how when I was telling a story I wouldn't usually be in the pictures, so I thought I would put myself in this one. It's a bit cheesy. But then so is this.

We tried to take a picture of us both here but the lady who helped us couldn't really work out my camera. But I did manage to get this one instead.

I love the way he's looking at me and the dog is gazing out to sea!
A very rare teenage photo.

This was Harry the adventurer. And I know that because I watched him career around the pier and Clevedon, determinedly many paces ahead of his parents, who were incredibly relaxed about it too. There was a huge amount of trust operating here and my heart was slightly in my mouth. Interesting to see how differently people do things.

No visit to the seaside would be complete without an ice cream of course, This was me trying to juggle the camera and dog's lead. 

Who says you can't go to the seaside when it's cloudy! A very dramatic shot. The tide was out and we took a carefull walk down the slippery causeway. By the water we could hear the waves gentle lapping. It was so relaxing I felt almost drunk on the atmosphere. Back on the beach we searched through the pebble for treasure.

There is so much seaglass at Clevedon! I don't think I looked up for an hour. You just need to dig down a bit.....

Further along the seafront wall there is an old-fashioned amusement arcade and a pub where we had little buckets of chips in the beer garden. No pictures of these to show!

A beautiful Victorian drinking fountain by the pier.

As we turned around to leave some blue sky began to emerge, which made for a lovely picture. I was so happy with these pictures. Just as they are. I haven't edited them at all, which for me is unusual. I just love the palate of colours here and light just as it was. And the fact I was on a family day out, finally. It was all just right.

A new visitor center is being built at the beach end of the pier, which will open eventually and hold some amazing pictures of the history of the pier, and there are some quaint shops nearby, yet to be explored. I will definitely being going back. Until next time.


Happy Easter to all, enjoy the day doing whatever makes you happy! x

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

today is a good day.....

Today is the first day of April, such a glad little month. We have high hopes for this month don't we, hopes of blue skies and glorious spring moments. March you have been such a chilly month.

Conchetta Conchetta
And today is a good day to introduce you to my new creative assistant, Conchetta Conchetta, who has come to help me in my shop at 'my little red suitcase'.

She has travelled all the way from the far flung corners of Europe, where she lives in a little wooden house among the wildflowers, in the mountains with a view of the sea.

In her suitcase she carries, her sewing kit and scissors, her tin of travel sweets, a note book and a pen, some postcards, her little embroidery table cloth, a fine china cup and plate, her favourite crochet shawl, an acorn, a shell and one and a half socks. 

Conchetta Conchetta when she ran away to Spain.
When she was younger she ran away to Spain, where she had a brief career as a flamenco dancer. Sadly she found the heels a little too uncomfortable, the castanets a little too loud and she worried about the plight of the sorrowful donkeys. She was happy to have had this adventure though and felt she had been a little bit bold and a little bit risqué.
In the mountains at the orphanage where she worked she was in charge of stitching and mending and many a little one ran around wearing one of her little patches on their trousers, or flowers on their pocket.You could usually find her with her needlework, reading an adventure book or two.

One day she feels she will probably live by the sea and rescue faithful old donkeys from a terrible plight.

She hums as she works and has a habit of making lists of things you said you would do and then reminding you that you had not done them. When she's cross she tut tuts, clicks her heels and occasionally stamps her feet.

She found her way here because she too is rather fond of vintage suitcases. She considers herself to be a little bit folk and a little bit vintage, and in her most artful and flamboyant moments a little bit la boheme.

                                 It's been quiet in my creative workspace and I am so glad she is here.


Thursday, 26 March 2015

a week of images.....

Here I am back with some more images of the last week. I'm on week four now of my course photo meditations. Yesterday I couldn't stop taking photos, every where I looked. Which was nice after experiencing a kind of lull for a few days. I just need to edit them and load them flickr. It feels like a photo journal really, and I really like that concept.

Rather large hailstones the other day. No sooner had a put my winter coat in the washing machine, the skies opened up and did this. Like marbles, spitting out from the sky, such a weird and unusual sight.

A quick re-wind back to Friday's eclipse. This was the sky for me just as it began. The air was beginning to cool. I was on my front door step. The view of the sun was clear, although it doesn't show that here. I was sitting on the bench out front with my son who was saying, 'why are you whispering!' and I was saying, 'because it's exciting!'. 

And this was just after, as the eclipse was finishing. Up on the common. I loved seeing these guys in their full eclipse watching mode. One guy was sitting on the bonnet, leaning back against the window screen, wearing his eclipse glasses, entranced.

And this, well selfie project! I decided I liked black and white better, and a crop! It's actually been quite an interesting project, seeing yourself from different angles. I thought I would hate it but even the ones I'm not showing here have kind of grown on me. I think it's a way of connecting to yourself, even the uncomfortable bits. And I also somehow think I am looking for new bits too.

I love these pictures of where I live. On instagram I am doing a little series called #appreciatingwhereilive. It really is a quirky little town, and this course is helping me to see it with new eyes.

I still take many photos up here on the common. I feel like it's one of my statement photos. The thing I do over and over! This was in the mist and of course I've used a filter here. I love the colour and the silver birch, one of my favourite trees seems to grow on it's own up here.

I took this shot in the town because I loved the red bricks, which reminded me of the house I grew up in. Although it wasn't a Victorian house it was a red brick house. I remember the drive way where I used to whack a tennis ball against the wall over and over. No x-box then. There's something very familiar and safe about those bricks. 

Back at home in my kitchen, I realize multi-colour rules the day again. I have plans to paint my kitchen, but other things are calling more so that will have to wait. 
It's nice to 'share' my photos here, hope you don't mind. See you again soon!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

on a spring morning....

apricot jam today
I thought I'd pop in and share a few spring like things happening here. But first I wanted to say how excited I was about yesterdays eclipse. In Gloucestershire we saw about 85% totality. I watched from my front door step with the teen. We were lucky and had clear skies. I was so excited as it began and you could see that first 'bite' beginning to show. I was willing it to go further and see that corona but we would have had to get on a plane for that. The air noticeably cooled down and I thought the birds seemed a bit confused. There was a cool, strangeness in the air. We saw the smallest arch of the sun at 9.30 and then the moment passed and the sun began to appear.

I dashed to teen to school at that point. Fortunately he goes to a place which is flexible like that. I was so glad to have that memory with him. Apparently the chances of seeing an eclipse from the exact same spot is once in every 375 years. So to be on our doorstep was great.

I thought the day seemed quite magical. Afterwards I went up on the common to walk the dog and had several excited conversations with complete strangers all united in our experience. It was also full moon and the spring equinox too.

The garden called me yesterday. Oh yes it did. It said,"how about you just pop out here for ten minutes a day and do a little tidying here and there. Turn off those screens, put down those hearts, forget about photography and just be out here where none of that matters". I thought I'll leave my boots by the door and the wheelbarrow on the ready and just do that, like a meditation. Sometimes I try and pretend I'm thinking in my head and life the way it was before all the technology appeared. Do you every do that?! It's quite hard to touch on that place now because it's just become a fundamental part of who we are.

It's easy to get over-whelmed. I can feel the push of new ideas emerging and quite a pace of things happening.

It's good to keep that grounded I think.
I hope if you had a chance to see the eclipse that you managed to. If not we all 'experienced it' in  our consciousness anyway!

So Happy Spring.