Monday, 29 September 2008

My Pet Hate

This weekend saw unexpected getaway to the island of Colonsay with my sister, niece, mum and dad, and my boy. My sister has been visiting for a number of years but this was the first time I have managed to get over.

We had a non-eventful ferry crossing from Oban and arrived on the island early Friday evening, my parents waving their hankies at the pier delighted that their two girls and grand children were joining them for the last few days of their holiday.

The house we stayed in was perfect, a real sense of home with some sheep and Mavis the horse for company.

Colonsay is a beautiful island with numerous beaches to explore so we all set off on Saturday morning to do a bit of crab spotting and castle building.

Now I'm the first to admit I'm not a big dog lover - more of a cat person. But if a doggy is nice and friendly I'm always sure to give it a pat.

We were embarking on our first expedition when all of a sudden six large dogs came bounding towards us (and our small children) with no call to heel from the owner. At this point I should point out that entry to the particular beach from the car park is through a small pass gate with ample signage telling dog owners that it is an offence to let your dog foul on the beach and not clean it up afterwards, and that animals must be controlled at all times.

And as you may have guessed the dogs started to foul and the owners walked on.

My sister was the first to pipe up and asked the owners if they intended to clean up their dog mess, to which the delightful gentleman replied 'No'. A short and (not so) sweet answer.

The wrong thing to say obviously, but then the situation spiraled as he informed us that he 'was on holiday and he certainly would not clean up after the dogs.' His best effort was to kick a bit of sand at the offending deposit and told us that we were clearly not animal lovers. The fact he was committing an offense obviously didn't bother him (maybe because he knew there are no police officers on Colansay?)

What a delightful person. It spoiled our morning.

So that's my pet hate - dog fouling. I know it isn't the animals fault - just their irresponsible owners. I don't know how many times I have had to walk with my boy on the road as I take him to nursery as the pavement is covered in little 'presents'.

Apart from that we had a wonderful weekend and the weather was fantastic. The island is well worth a visit and we shall certainly be returning (with husband).

We laughed about the beach incident afterwards, only with the knowledge that the tide would turn and wash away the sorry business, leaving it perfect for the next intrepid explorers.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

My Master Plan

I've finally taken...

..some pictures of... knitting kits... their boxes.

That's today's achievement.

Tomorrow - the world!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

You can choose your friends....

....but not your family, so how lucky I am to have such a wonderful selection of both. This week has been a resounding success. We started off early Tuesday morning and drove down to Tunbridge Wells to stay with Craig's aunt and uncle for a couple of nights. (the hippos are from Lego Land and not a picture of our family!)

Before heading off to London it was a quick visit to meet Rachel and Julie at the Tiny Box Company in East Grinstead. They have been rushed off their feet since their appearance on Dragons Den, and I could barely move in their office for new boxes and bags (all 100% recycled). They are in the process of moving to larger premises so good luck to them! I picked up some boxes for my knitting kits and some red bags for the CL fair.

We managed to pack in a trip to London to see more relatives. Craigs cousin Lorna has bought and refurbished a wonderful cottage on the Isle of Wight - Scallop Shell Cottage - 5 star accommodation available to rent. I think we will definitely go down next year as it looks such a lovely island to visit.

It was very interesting talking to Lorna about new business, she used to work in marketing before her daughter came along and she had lots of useful advice. Catalogue shopping seems to be very popular in London so this may be something I look at at the beginning of the year.

Next it was off to the Cotswolds and Burford to stay with more aunts and uncles. We visited the Cotswold Safari Park - where the sun shined and the flowers bloomed (see above). It was wonderful to feel the sun - all our summer packed into one day.

The next day was the long awaited trip to Lego Land and it didn't disappoint. It was fantastic and just right for our 4 year old, how unfortunate he had to be accompanied on all the rides by his parents! Above is a Lego model of Ramsay Gardens in Edinburgh, I worked on the top right apartment many years ago in my role as an architect. It's worth clicking on the pictures to enlarge them as they are so detailed.

The models were fantastic, and all in all it was a great day out. Avoid at high season at all cost though as the queuing for rides would be unbearable for small children (and parents)

Today we went into Milngavie to restock our bare cupboards and I found this coffee set at the car boot sale, I love it, a bit retro and the red is exactly the colour of the spotty mug I bought last week, which replaces a cup that is missing from the set. You can't beat a boot sale for a bargain.

A few years ago when I started out selling at craft fairs one of my main products were fingerless mittens. As usual I wrote the pattern and myself and another lady knitted some up and they sold well. I decided not to continue making them so you can imagine my dismay when I saw some today for sale in a craft shop.

Practically every blog I have read has at one time addressed copyright and how you can (or can't) protect your work. As I wrote the pattern for the gloves, as with all my designs, then surely I own the copyright? What irked me more is that the lady in question is local and could have easily contacted me to see if it was OK to use the pattern.

On a positive note watch this space as they are a perfect design to be added to my knitting kits!

Rant over, I am away to finish off some orders for The Posthouse Gallery and Homer and to find the disk that holds The Pattern of The Gloves (sounds a bit Harry Potter doesn't it!)

I have added a 'Follower' tab to the right of my blog for those of you who wish to be named and shamed as one of my blog followers!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Lego Land

It's an early start tomorrow as we head off down South to visit relatives in Tunbridge Wells and Burford (just outside Oxford) with the week finishing with a long awaited visit to Lego Land in Windsor. I don't know who is more excited, our 4 year old boy, or my hubby and me.

I am also popping into the Tiny Box offices to collect some boxes for my knitting kits - they are only 13 miles from Tunbridge Wells so it will save me a bit of postage and it will be nice to meet Rachel, one of the owners who recently appeared on Dragons Den. Here's hoping some of their entrepreneurial skills will rub off on me!

One more plus is that its supposed to be sunny all week in the South of England - better dig out my summer clothes again.

See you next week,


Friday, 12 September 2008

Muddy boots and Photographs

The past few days have been really productive. I've changed my way of making things - rather than making 10 of this or that to completion I am going to get as much stock knitted as possible over the next three weeks, then I'll do all the sewing and finishing in October which leaves me November to get organised for the CL Fair.

It means I will quickly have a better idea of how much stock I will have for Christmas, and although it can be repetitive at times (69 sheep in 2 days!) at least I know the main part of the production is done.

I also finally managed to get some photos of new bags modeled by my friend Kirsty. We got some funny looks this morning as we climbed over the fence to go into the field (just outside Killearn), especially as I had a huge blue bag with all my stock in it. It's been a miserable rainy week, this morning wasn't particularly bright but at least it was dry. We also had to share our location with a few nosy bovines.

I think they turned out fine - if a little dark, but it certainly gives you a better idea of the size of the bags. I also like how they contrast with the landscape.

This weekend will be spent knitting as we are off to Oxford next week to visit relatives and to take our boy to Legoland - plenty of sewing in the car for me!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Some days....

....are a waste of makeup. This is the slogan on a fridge magnet of my mums, and today was one of those days for me.

It all started off so well when I met with Luci to discuss some ideas for my stand at Country Living (20th-23Nov SECC - remember!) I left feeling positive and more focused on what I could create for my meagre budget.

So I headed off into Glasgow with a skip in my step and a list of 'things to buy'. Needless to say I didn't manage to cross much off the list, in fact I spent more on parking than I did on my purchases for the day. (see above picture)

However I am not disheartened as I now have a clear picture of what I am going to use for my stand, and have been eyeing up several pieces of furniture that could prove useful - my house is going to look like we've been burgled by the time I'm finished.

I suppose that's a big item I can now cross of my list - 'Design Stand' - and I didn't need to waste any lippy to do that!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Wee Green Market and my Weekend

The Wee Green Market in Killearn was a success yesterday. The hall was full with exhibitors and there was certainly more people through the door than the previous couple of months. People are more relaxed when its busy as the odd visitor on a quiet day can feel the pressure of being the lone customer.

I bought myself a needle holder made by Suzanne. I often look at lovely things and never buy them because I always think - 'I can make something like that' - of course I never do, so it's little treats like the holder that put a smile on my face.

I was also heartened to know that a couple of the exhibitors at the market, Jane and Karon, will be exhibiting at the Country Living Christmas Fair in November. A few familiar faces will make the process slightly easier for me.

After the market it was off to buy some essentials, and I managed to pick up these mugs from Woolworths of all places for £1 each - what a bargain.

I also received lots of compliments regarding a couple of new bags which I'm due to put on my web site soon. They are slightly larger than I normally make and the flower has a pin on the back so you can wear it as a brooch.

Today has been spent pondering about my stand at CL, picking plums from the garden and freezing them (in 1lb batches - I'm so organised!) for future chutney making - that's Christmas sorted!

I'm off to work out how many bunnies I can make in a week - answers on poatcards please!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Music, Mud and Magic

What a fab weekend we had at Retrofest. To start there are two things I won't mention - pink Lycra and the toilets - enough said.

The weekend started for us on Friday night. We pitched our tent and enjoyed a few wines around our portable table then headed off to the stage to hear some live music. Four Good Men (a couple of which are from Aberfoyle I think) belted out some Simple Minds and Big Country anthems I haven't heard for ages, and my sister had her music craving satisfied by another act singing Kate Bush songs. The evening was balmy and we managed a dance in the disco tent which took us hurtling back in time to our old school discos.

Saturday started well with a civilised breakfast in the slightly muddy camp site, then it was off to the main stage at noon to see the start of the acts. Highlights on Saturday were the Christians, Nick Kershaw and 10CC. The best by far was Kim Wilde who shed her gardening persona to become a total rock chick, she also did a fantastic cover of 'Tainted Love'. Surprise of the day was Peter Andre who really got the crowd going (with a glimpse of Jordan and their daughter watching Nick Kershaw afterwards).

Big disappointment were The Bangles who headlined on Saturday night. They had a hard act to follow after Kim, but they left the crowd flat and we sloped back to our tent before their set was finished.

Sunday saw the mud deepen by at least six inches and there was a smattering of rain to really get your wellies stuck. Bucks Fizz started things off and woke us all up, they can still pull the moves even after nearly 30 years. Did you know they wrote 'Heart of Stone' which was a big hit for Cher?

Teenage crushes were satisfied when Paul Young took the stage and Kajagoogoo also did a great set.

My highlight of the day and the weekend was Midge Ure. I don't own any of his records and certainly wouldn't call myself a fan but his performance was fantastic - you could have heard a pin drop when he was singing 'Vienna'. He also performed 'Enjoy the Silence' which he wrote for Depeche Mode.

My friend Julie bought us all red ponchos which were put to good use on the Sunday and also got us up on the big screen as we stood out against the crowd (and the pink Lycra) - our 15mins of fame.

All in all wonderful weekend, I've never seen so many different styles of wellies!

On the making front I am frantically finishing things off for this weekends Wee Green Market, and posting a few Internet sales round the world. I have also been giving a lot of thought to my stall for the Country Living Fair, which is getting too close for comfort.

Back to normality next week when I come down from my festival high!