Sunday, 29 July 2012

Daft Craft Raft Race

This morning we went to the Daft Craft Raft Race (try saying that to three children early on a Sunday morning without being sniggered at for your idiotically tired and tied tongue).

I only remembered it was on 15 minutes beforehand, otherwise we would all have been more suitably attired in pirate stripes and sailor hats. As it was we managed to scavenge an eye-patch...

... but we were totally and wonderfully upstaged by an exquisitely dressed mermaid, sailor, pirate...

... and naturally the Sea God Poseidon...

This is the first year of the race (inaugural, I believe is the word), in which local artists design and make deliberately absurd vessels that then cascade in all their creative, colourful and slightly crackers glory down the River Porter in Endcliffe Park, raising money for Cavendish Cancer Care through sponsorship and bets placed on the ridiculous raft of rafts (oh please, how is it such a silly play on words can give me such pleasure?).

McCrirrick was on hand to persuade spectators to "Get Lucky with the Plucky" and part with their cash.

Being astonishingly indecisive, we couldn't choose which one to bet on. So we bet on three.

The ones we plumped for were the SS Bubonic, sailed by Ratty; Cox C'Ora by my absolute favourite jeweller in the world Jennie Gill; and Walkley Tea Party by Miriam Stayte. You rarely see such beauties riding the ocean waves.

The SS. Bubonic by John Fox

Cox C'ora by Jennie and Ed Gill

Walkley Tea Party by Miriam Stayte

But we were also tempted to place our bets on these rafts...


Chilly Willy by Paul Evans

Oops! Hook-A-Duck by Lydia Bennett and Lea Scott

Top Totty by Studio Ten

Beach Bath Aftermath by Brown/Ben

Kissy Kissy Kraft by Anthony Bennett

As you can see, it was a closely contested race...

But against all the odds, battling against piratical rats, professional sailors, surfboarding cows and webbed-footed ducks amongst others, it was a little tea tray from Walkley that won the day.

The RAFTA trophy line-up.

And so, funnily enough did we. With ticket number 19.

Here are Pia and nearly-teen with our RAFTA (the BAFTA equivalent for comical river-riding craft rafts).

It now has pride of place on our mantelpiece. 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Silly Faces

In my last post, I managed to mention people dying twice. Not them actually dying twice. But I mentioned it twice.

So to lighten the mood, here's Middle (nickmamed Sunshine Snoots because she's always so cheerful) with a few favourites from her wonderful repertoire of silly faces.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Sad Tale of the Vanishing Pictures

We have a cupboard upstairs in the girls' room that was supposed to be for toys and musical instruments and arty stuff, but which is instead full to bursting with story books. They seem to be breeding.
book shelves, pictures books, illustration, classic picture books, illustrated books
As well as books that have been bought for them, they have also inherited most of the books I read and loved as a child, with their wonderfully tattered pages, faded ink, and scribbles of 'this book belongs to Camilla' across the first page.

Roald Dahl, The Twits, book
My old copy of 'The Twits' 

I try really hard not to be precious about these books because they're supposed to be read, relished and remembered, not just stored away in a collection where no one can discover their magic. (And here I would like to point out that when Pia ripped a page of my old 'Mog the Cat' book in two, I bravely sellotaped it back together and tried ever so hard not to show her that a little piece of me also had to be sellotaped back together that day.) 

Judith Kerr, Mog, Illustration, children's books, illustrated, broken, ripped

Mog the Sellotaped Cat

Our nearly-teen has handed down his old picture books to the girls too, as he's moved on to 'proper books' with chapters, paragraphs full of complicated words, encyclopedias and manuals about Lancaster Bombers. He's even reading Dickens, which I know I ought to approve of but I can't quite get my head around. He's a fully fledged bookworm (can worms be fully fledged, I think probably not).

Seeing how quickly he's been encouraged at school to read 'grown-up' books, I'm a bit worried about what I'll do when they've all moved on from picture books. Who will I read them out loud to then? The rabbits never seem that interested, the cats have generally got better things to do, and my husband's got his iPhone.
rhino, cat, cat reading a book, rhinoceros
Even a marvellous pop-up rhinoceros barely gets a reaction from the cat

More importantly, do they really have to move on from illustrations? I remember being desperately sad when the pictures disappeared from my books. Where did they go? The Sad Tale of the Vanishing Pictures. When I was a teenager, I wished so very hard that they would come back and fill my imagination again with mysterious worlds, marvels, colours and creatures.

I love all sorts of books – long, short, chapter, history, fiction, non-fiction, picture. I even love dictionaries, and most especially a good thesaurus. But there's something almost magical about an illustrated book that stays with you forever. When Maurice Sendak died earlier this year, my friend Kay who runs Ketchup on Everything wrote on her Facebook page, "Oh please don't go – we'll eat you up – we love you so," and I spent a week intermittently bursting into terrible tears about a man I had never met, but a man who had given me the Wild Things.

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, Wild Things
 Oh please don't go – we'll eat you up – we love you so!

And when I visited my grandmother (my Farmor) in Denmark a few hours before she died, my dad took out his old copy of Winnie-the-Pooh illustrated by E.H. Shepard and read it aloud to her. It had been the book she loved reading most to my dad, his brother and sister when they were young, and it was still her favourite book when she was a hundred years old.

So I suppose even if the grown-up world does manage to capture my children, there will always be shelves in our house overflowing with adventures and illustrated worlds ready for them to fall back into. And I'll always be there waiting to read to them whenever they ask. Unless the cat changes its mind and asks me first.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Folksy in the Folk Forest

This weekend I'll be at the Folksy Fair in the Folk Forest, standing under the shade of my gazebo in the glorious sunshine with not a raindrop in sight. (If I wish hard enough it might just come true.) 

I'll be bringing Betty with me ...

... lots of new badges ...

... plenty of (finished) headdresses ...

... but probably not Otto (it's not his scene) ...

It's on from 12noon until 8pm on both Saturday 21 July and Sunday 22 July.
Maybe see you there? 

Friday, 20 July 2012

Sweetie Day

Today's Friday, which means it's Sweetie Day in our house. In case you were wondering, these are my favourite ever ever chocolates...

marzipan, pistachio, dark chocolate, Cocoa, Wonderland, chocolates, truffles, delicious
Marzipan and Pistachio Truffles 

I get mine from the wonderland that is Cocoa WonderlandSo, thank you Kate and Anne for the beautiful photo and for the infinite number of marzipan and pistachio truffles and sugar plums (my almost first but just pipped to second place favourite) that you have sold to me over the last four years in your little stripy bags.  

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Apartment Therapy therapy

There are many nights when, feeling snowed under with to-do lists, I think I'll settle my rising panic with a little Pinterest therapy before knuckling down to costings, emails and spreadsheets. Once I'm logged on though, all sense of time seemingly vanishes and I get drawn into board after board and ream after ream of beautiful studios / houses / gardens / shelves / illustrations / posters / books / objects / and oh-so-many wonderful staircases.

On one of my Pinterest distraction nights I discovered the Apartment Therapy blog. I wonder what percentage of the pins showing super-stylish rooms, furniture and spaces on Pinterest originate from The Apartment Therapy blog? I could happily wander about AT's home and studio tours for days and weeks and years. These are a few of my favourites:

Meg's Room for Three (how brilliant is the column of masks?)

I love flicking through their 'Before and After' posts too, although oddly I think the before pics sometimes look better than the after. Maybe that's part of their appeal – the joy of clicking through to see if the finished result is better or worse than before?

Bearing this all in mind, imagine my excitement when I stumbled across this Apartment Therapy post called Vintage Circus Style: Nostalgia + Mystery. Right up my bunting-lined street, I thought. But hang on one darn-ticking minute, as Mr Beesting would say, isn't that my Circus Carousel Lampshade standing proudly among other circus designs under the banner, 'Best of Etsy'?? Er, yes, yes, yes, it is indeed! How immensely exciting!

Thank you Apartment Therapy for making my day ♥♥♥

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Sunshine rocks

Just a little mini-post, because yesterday the sun shone and it made me very happy. We sat in the sunshine on our back step and painted pebbles. Middle made Whiskies the Cat, while Pia painted rainbow rocks.

painted pebbles, craft for kids, rock painting, cat rock, painting with children

rainbow, multicolour, painted pebbles, craft for kids, rock painting, cat rock, painting with children

Sunshine, weather, Sheffield, clouds, sky

And it hasn't rained yet today either. Bliss.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Nougat, bees, strawberries and a dog show

Apart from drawing, baking is one of the things I love the very best... and one of the things I love the very best about baking is orange blossom water. I toiled over a batch of extremely tasty orange blossom and pistachio nougat for my niece's wedding last month. Sadly because of refrigeration issues it didn't actually make it to her wedding, but it did make it into our mouths. I'm quite sad it's gone.

orange blossom water, nougat, pistachio

These were the last two pieces. The recipe came from one of Betty's favourite recipe books, The Home-Made Sweet Shop by Claire Ptak. I love her shop Violet, her website and her blog too.

In my search for reasons to crack open the orange blossom bottle again I came across this recipe for orange blossom cake with cream cheese frosting on London Bakes. It turned out perfectly, and was such a hit in our house that I immediately signed up to her blog. Kathryn tempts me whenever she posts a recipe and the ones I've tried have all been utterly delicious, but I also love her honesty when things go a little awry, and her photography is beautiful too.

Her latest post is a collection of photos from June for the Photo a Day challenge by Fat Mum Slim. Being a bit scatty, I'd just decided last week that I wanted to take at least one photo a day as a kind of picture diary to remember the things I'd done (memory like a sieve almost definitely the consequence of having had three children and always having too much to do). I also discovered last Thursday that all my Instagram pics can be seen and shared across the globe... I feel a bit stupid for not knowing this earlier. No more embarrassing silly faces or blank black screens for me. So all these new bits of information have inspired me to try my very best to take a Photo A Day and share them here and there. I'm a couple of days late into July, but I've printed off the list and today I'm waiting for the best part of my day to reveal itself so I can capture it on camera.

Until then, here's my last week in pictures.

Tuesday: crazy storm // Tuesday: sheltering bee // Wednesday: sunshine and strawberries

Sunday: dog show dalmation // Sunday: best dressed // Sunday: third prize

 Friday: Mr Quaver  // Sunday: Monsal Trail // Monday: Pia and a bit of Phelgm