Saturday 30 June 2018

Joy in the Everyday Ordinary - June, 22-28

Hi there everyone 😀

Well, we are the midst of a pretty impressive heatwave here. I keep looking at the weather on the BBC website and can't recall a time when all I could see was sunshine for as far ahead as the forecast goes.

We are so used to just getting the odd nice day here and there that it's thrown me a bit. My routine is all over the shop. It's too hot to do much but lounge about and it's only when the weather is like this that I realise just how many pots I have in the garden. There is plenty of watering going on I can tell you ... hopefully this glorious streak of weather will not lead to water shortages and hosepipe bans.

Poor old Martin has been working this week, so hasn't had much chance to enjoy the sunshine but I'm hoping that we might get out and about a bit over the weekend, if it's not too hot 🌞🌞🌞

I've been taking it quite slowly this last week, but here's a snapshot of what's made me smile over the course of the last seven days ...
Day 22 - Well, June seems to be turning into a month of impromptu lunches! I love being able to just say yes to this kind of thing at the drop of a hat and this time I met up with Jo and we managed to eat sitting outside in the sunshine, be it by the side of a busy road. As if the lunch weren't good enough it was such a lovely day that when Jo had gone back to work I meandered down through town into the castle grounds to have an ice cream and see our castle looking pretty amazing.
Day 23 - The first of two lovely days spent with the craft stall at Lullington Open Gardens. We were both really taken with this purple lily type plant, which looks to be a cross between an agapanthus and an allium. The 'plant man' reliably informed us that it's a brodia and it's already on the list as a potential addition for our own garden.

Day 24 - Our second day at Lullington, tucked behind our stall, in the shade with a picnic. It was lovely feeling that we were part of 'village life', even if just for a weekend.
Day 25 - The strawberries just keep on coming! They have been amazing this year. Today I also picked the first of what looks to be a good crop of morello cherries, which went straight in the freezer.
Day 26 - Another glorious day. I had a good sort out of all the craft stuff following the weekend and reclaimed the dining room, did some blogging and managed to enjoy some evening sunshine, when Martin got home, with a last minute BBQ. Another one of the succulents that we planted last year has flowered ... isn't it beautiful?

Day 27 - Wednesday and Jackie wasn't at work so we had a bit of an unexpected trip out to Ikea, for peg bag fabric and wooden coat hangers. Of course ... there was lunch. This time we stopped off at The Fig and Olive and ate outside and very nice it was too.
Day 28 - The sweet peas are still going strong and I have three little jars full spread around the house. I've also had enough to send mum home with a handful and to take a couple of bunches to my neighbours. They smell lovely and, of course, are all pretty much in all my favourite shades of purple.


Tuesday 26 June 2018

Summer Craft Fairs

Hi there everyone 😀

It definitely feels like craft fair season over here at the moment.

Last year we made a conscious decision not to attend any craft fairs at all. We hadn’t had masses of luck the previous year and with all the work going on in the garden we thought we had enough on our plates.

This year we decided to give it another go and have been keeping an eye out on Facebook for local events. I'm hoping to find perhaps half a dozen different events that can become regular fixtures for us.

Our first foray, back in May, was to Hoar Park Shopping & Craft Village, where there is a monthly craft fair held inside their Red Barn. we had made a couple of visits previously on a bit of a recce and thought it looked promising.

There is lots going on at the site ... a large children’s farm, an antiques centre, some little craft shops and a garden centre. 

The Red Barn is located in the perfect spot and decked out with bunting and twinkly lights on craft fair days. It was pretty busy both times we’d visited, especially with young mums with pushchairs. We couldn’t imagine anyone passing and not just popping in.
The fair runs from 10am till 4pm and you can’t get in to set up until 9am, so we were there nice and early to make sure we got the full hour to get set up as we didn’t know what to expect. We managed to have a bit of a wander around first thing and the countryside just looked lovely in the morning sunshine.Tables aren’t allocated beforehand so it’s a bit of a mad scramble when the doors open to get in the queue to find out which table you are on.

We were a bit disappointed with our table at first. We were across the bottom end of a central ring of tables and didn’t feel like we had a lot of space. In the end we managed to squeeze a small table to the side to give us a little bit more display space and, as the occupants of the table next to us didn’t turn up we managed to spread out a bit further.

There was a steady trickle of people coming through for most of the day, but there was a bit of a bottle neck where we were and I don’t think a lot of people really felt they had the space to stop and browse.

Saying that we sold enough to cover the cost of our pitch and made a small profit. The most popular thing we sold by far was dog bandanas, there were lots of people wandering round with dogs and the bandanas were well placed on the stall so easy to see.

I also took an order from a neighbouring stall holder for two taggy blankets for her two boys, which she’d spotted as we’d spread out along the unoccupied table. They needed a bit of modification from my usual design to make them a bit more robust as the boys both have special needs. It certainly made me think about a different target market from my original, so that was good.

It was a fairly long day, for what we took, but we have another two booked in so will see how we go and hopefully we will get lucky with the table allocation.

One of the first craft fairs we ever did was at the Armitage Village Day in 2016. It’s an event that runs every other year and there is all sorts going on. We did really well on our first visit and even won the best dressed stall competition. The theme was the Queens 90th birthday.

This year’s event was held on 16 June and the theme this time was The World Cup so there was plenty of printing and faffing about with blue tack to make sure we were in with a chance of winning the prize again.

Sadly this time we lost out to the Brownies and Rainbows ... Martin was quite put out ... but we did have a very good day sales wise, taking the most we have done so far at any type of fair.

This time we didn’t sell lots of any particular thing but a whole range of different things ... a peg bag, a shopping bag, jewellery, dog bandanas, a tooth fairy pillow, a Pom Pom key ring, pencil cases, Christmas decorations, lavender hearts and taggy blankets.

This was great as we were out again the following week at Lullington Open Gardens and it meant I didn’t have to remake lots of things in the week to stock back up.

This is a really lovely event and we chatted to lots of nice friendly people. I’ve already got the date for 2020 on the calendar.

We were both quite nervous about out third event at Lullington Open Gardens. It’s the first time we have attended an event where we’ve been outdoors, be it in a large gazebo.
Lullington is a really lovely little village, with lots of pretty cottages. It's a real 'roses round the door' kind of place.
The Open Gardens event runs over a weekend and our initial plan was to attend just on the Sunday, which is normally the busier of the two days ... until we saw that England had a World Cup game and we thought it might keep people at home, so we plumped for the Saturday.

The organiser then reiterated that they normally receive double the visitors on the Sunday so we were in a bit of a quandary. In the end we decided that we would do both days ... Yikes!!

The event runs from 1pm till 6pm with set up from 10am, so it would be two long days. We were also concerned about what time we would start to get busy as we’ve visited the event before and found that people normally visit all of the gardens and the classic car show first, with the stalls on the village green being one of the very last things that they see.

Anyway we decided to risk it and see what happened.

The weekend forecast was for sunshine all the way so we loaded up the car with all the craft stall stuff, a picnic and the sun cream.
We arrived at at about 10.30 on the saturday morning to find our spot in a gazebo tucked against the hedge and, yikes, no tables. We asked around and ended up having to drive off to find the organiser to sort out some tables but they soon arrived and we got cracking with setting up.
It’s the first time we’ve had the stall outside so setting up was a bit different but it worked out really well.

We had two nice big sturdy tables and were able to make good use of the gazebo roof supports for bunting and the like. We were also able to set up the clothes airer for hanging bits and pieces from and had loads of room to set up camp behind the stall.

We even had enough room to give a very small nod to Christmas ...
The weather on Saturday was cooler than expected but it was still lovely being able to spend the whole day outside pretty much chilling in the camping chairs chatting to people as they came went.
We met lots of lovely people, did pretty well on the sales side so all in all it was a really nice day. Top seller this time was definitely peg bags. One lady even said she’d spotted one from the road and she just had to come back and get it, apparently you can’t can’t find nice peg bags any more. I actually ended up selling out and even took an order for another one. Lullington will always now be known to me as the peg bag capital of the midlands.
Pre peg bag sell-out 😂
We were back on Sunday for more of the same and after we’d got set up I hung around on the side of the road watching some the classic cars arriving for the car show

The weather was glorious, it was quiet and peaceful, very genteel, with lots of floral dresses and straw hats passing by and dogs flopping down for a rest in the shade, while we relaxed in our comfy camping chairs and enjoyed our picnic.

The spot we were in was perfect, nicely shaded and had to be passed by everyone as they came and went.

Whilst Sunday saw a slow but steady flow of people we didn’t do quite so well on the sales side but definitely enough to have made it worth our while, as well as having had the loveliest of days just chilling out, chatting and enjoying the sunshine. We really felt as though we were part of the village community, be it for a very short time.

We will definitely be back next year and I’ve already got the dates on the calendar.

We have a couple of weeks off now with our next event back at Hoar Park in the middle of July ... it will be interesting to see how we get on this time ... but I’m going to have a couple of busy weeks stocking back up ... especially on the peg bag front!!


Saturday 23 June 2018

Joy in the Everyday Ordinary - June, 15-21

Hi there again everyone 😀

It's that time of the week again. Time to see what everyday ordinary stuff has been making me smile over the last seven days.

Martin's been at work, so I've been flying solo, but there has still been plenty going on to capture. Just ordinary stuff but, let's face it, that is what makes up a huge proportion of our lives, well it does here anyway, so it's really important that we take time to appreciate how amazing the ordinary can be.

Here are my last seven days ...
Day 15 - We were due out with the craft stall on Saturday so I decided to do my first bit of craft in ages to top up my stock. I always love a crafty day.

Day 16 - At the Armitage Village Day with the craft stall. Here we are all decked out in a World Cup theme for our most productive fair yet.

Day 17 - Fathers' Day ... and wouldn't be complete without a visit 💜

Day 18 - I quite often get a shout from Martin when he's out back and the light is amazing. I'm not an accomplished enough photographer to capture it properly, but the sky was dark and the house at the back and the leaves on the trees were really catching the light from the evening sun. It was pretty impressive. 

Day 19 - Another crafty day. This time working on some sensory taggy blankets for a customer with children with special needs. I just love this cactus fabric and I even managed to find ribbon with cacti on 😁

Day 20 - My plans for a productive day went out of the window with an invite to lunch from one of my closest friends and my god daughter to mark the very near end of a long old road of study for my god daughter. The first 'naughty' meal I've had this week and boy was it worth it. We all had pies and they were all amazing!

Day 21 - I don't know what was up with me today. I was up at 6.00am, which is never heard of. I can't believe how much I got done with the extra three hours on my normal getting up time ... even with a pleasant distraction from a visit from mum and dad which, of course, involved a sit in the garden. We planted this rose last year, having seen one in a garden at a local village open gardens event. It is called 'Rhapsody in Blue' and fits perfectly in my purple themed raised bed 💜

Thursday 21 June 2018

Isle of Wight - Best of the Rest #2

Hello again everyone 😀

On Monday I shared with you some of the 'Best of Rest' of our holiday on the Isle of Wight last September.

Today I am sharing #2 with you and this should see our visit totally covered. I can't quite believe that there is so much to do on such a small island and there is still lots that we didn't get to see.

So today I'm starting off with ...

Mottistone NT
Mottistone is one of the island's National Trust properties and though we had visited before, we were more than happy to have another look.

Thought the weather wasn't the best, it was quite dull, the gardens still had plenty of colour and interest ...

Whilst you can't visit the house it did look lovely nestled in the heart of the garden ...
We also had a wander across to the church opposite, which is well worth a look if you are visiting.

Winkle Street
Winkle Street is a pretty row of cottages which often appears on photographs and postcards of the island. We couldn't resist a quick visit to take a look ...

Carisbrooke Castle
We spent a lovely afternoon at Carisbrooke Castle, which is an English Heritage property.

There is a fair amount to see and do within the site ... a chapel, Princess Beatrice's garden, the Great Hall & Museum, amongst other things ...
We explored all of the ground level first then, fuelled up on refreshments from the tea rooms decided to walk the walls ...
... which gave some fabulous views of the whole of the site ...

Even though it looked more than a little daunting we couldn't not climb the steps to the top of the keep ...
It was definitely worth it ...

Having gone up, we were left with no option but to go back down, so down we went, very slowly ...
The last thing left for us to see was the well house, where we saw one of the donkeys walking the wheel, as they would have done back in the day, to lift water from the well.

All of the Carisbrooke donkeys have names beginning with the letter 'J'. This tradition was started when Charles I was a prisoner at Carisbrooke. When Charles I wrote letters or was planning his escape route, he always signed his letters with a 'J'. So for 150 years all the donkeys at the castle have had a name beginning with this letter.

Nowadays the castle donkeys provide demonstrations of the well house each day the castle is open, spending the rest of their time relaxing in warm stables, being groomed by their supervisors or grazing in the five acre field behind the castle. Their duties are much lighter than they were historically, and they are only expecting to turn the wheel twice each demonstration, around 30 seconds of work.

Ventnor Sea Front
We loved Ventnor. We loved the Botanical Gardens and we also walked along the coastal path to Steephill Cove.

There is another long promenade in the opposite direction and we walked along to Bonchurch one wild and windy afternoon ...
We couldn't quite believe it when we got to Bonchurch and were faced with the holiday cottage that our friends had stayed in earlier in the year 😲

We made the walk back and headed into Betsy and Spinky's for light refreshments before having a wander along the main sea front ...
We walked right back to The Spyglass at the far end of the bay, where we had dinner, and very nice it was too ...

As you can see, the weather stayed pretty grey for us all day.

Our view as we started to head back for the car is my last Isle of Wight holiday photo ...


Thank you for letting me share our Isle of Wight adventures with you. We both certainly fell in love with the island, it is just beautiful and there is so much to see and do. We stayed for two weeks and didn't even get to visit Newport or Cowes and lots of other little villages and coves so we will definitely be back.

So .... until the next time 😀