Saturday, 23 February 2013

One Million Teacups

Many moons ago when I was but a wee nipper our family used to travel to the south coast to see my Great Great Aunt Tot. She was a lovely lady, forever about 90 in my mind, and she had the most amazing china collection that we were to be kept far away from at all costs. I can just imagine my poor Mum trying to keep us from charging into one of the many china cabinets and destroying the whole thing, kids eh?

Ironically, after being kept very firmly away from Aunt Tot's china collection, I have now inherited part of it!  I've had a couple of her serving bowls for the last few years and always chuckle when I take them out to think of her reaction of me using them willy nilly. I don't really believe in 'best' china. Every day is special and deserves the best in my book.

Mum came with a box full of china with the intention of me choosing one of the sets, for space saving purposes. They all have teacups, saucers, milk jugs, sugar bowls, tea plates and serving plates. Basically, the whole shebang. All English, bone china. Sighhhh! I quickly entered into an 'too many lovely things panic', there really is a set from each era. Art deco 1930s tea set or psychedelic 1960s espresso cups made on Carnaby Street?! Yes reader, I kept them all.

These beauties were made in 1935. Swoon!
The only issue was getting it past the husband, monitor and passer-of-judgement of all new acquisitions. 'Do we have room for all these?' he mused after my parents had already left the giant box of china with us. Ah ha ha. Men.

Whilst unpacking I also had the joy of catching up with the local news from home circa 1993, the year my Granny presumably packed up Aunt Tot's things. This was the year after WIndsor Castle caught fire. I was busy being 8 so didn't really keep abreast with things the first time around!

Man, I love vintage china. Why ever buy anything new? So many brilliant tea times ahead and for now, a couple more 'aren't they gorgeous snaps'. Do indulge me!

This fab set are from 1962 and, wait for it....Made in Chelsea!


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Bargains and Winter Crafting

Dare I say it, do you think Spring is on the way? The bulbs are springing up in the front garden and I came home in the semi-light tonight for the first time this year. I made the most of the sunshine on Monday and our mid term long weekend off from college to refurb a bargain charity shop find from this weekend. I was really umm-ing and ahh-ing about it when I saw it but really did fancy a project and I'm glad I took it on, what a beaut!

Here it is before, my coffee table/magazine rack combo but in a rather sad dark brown.


But never fear, my trusty supply of very bright, very brilliant paints to the rescue. And it's PINK! Twee, yes. But I think it's just smashing!
Cute eh? And this is SO easy to do. Really, if you see anything you like then just go for it. This whole thing set me back £9. I get my paint second hand from a junk yard so that I can have a stash of different colours for just this purpose. You can use satinwood or eggshell. Just give it a good sand before you start and then a couple of coats and you're done. Some varnish would make it a bit more hard wearing but I like my furniture to get a little bit bashed. It adds to the look!
This lovely addition to the living room goes really well with the quilt I made last weekend. I've never quilted before so this was a test case. It was brilliant fun and a lot easier than I thought. Sewing a big chunky blanket is immensely satisfying too. I used random offcuts I had around, backed it with a big piece if strawberry print fabric (though old duvets make a great backing material, there are some lovely ones in charity shops if you can get over the whole 'someone else has slept under this' thing. But hey you sleep under other people's duvets in hotels, right? That's the line I'm using and I'm sticking to it!)
Anyway here it is, I'm inspired to have another go. Luckily I think I've got a few more cold winter nights to fill till Spring is properly sprung!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Snappy Happy

In preparation for our Europe Trip (and because I love a good creative challenge!) I have grabbed some books out of the library on photography basics and set myself a challenge. For the next forty days of Lent I am reading the gospel of John and talking a photo a day inspired by what I have read. So far, so good. It's got me out into the early morning light, squelching through puddles and breathing some fresh air, and it's got me looking around more, absorbing my surroundings and thinking about what I see.

I love a new opportunity to be creative and photography is already grabbing me as amazingly fun. I'm certainly not much good at it and my camera is pretty basic but we all have to start somewhere. What I'm loving is the chance to see something from a different angle, in a unique light and see things in a new way than I normally do. Here's one of college from an angle I never normally look at it (I was standing in the middle of a muddy field!)

All this photography is also helping me to enjoy my countryside surroundings a bit more. As I've said numerous times I'm a townie by birth and upbringing. But catching the beauty of my surroundings on film (and probably the increase in day light generally!) is helping me to feel grateful for this place I've found myself in, even if I still get excited on the bus on the way to town! This is my favourite picture of the college surrounds so far, it's certainly not technically amazing but it just catches something of the place. The moodiness of the sky but the light breaking through. I love it.
If you'd like to follow my Lenten journey then I will be blogging it over on God Chat. This is my new blog where I am posting faith based reflections/videos/photos and so on but really they are just reflections on life. Being a Christian, that's the angle I'm looking at things from but you don't have to be of any particularly faith or any at all to pop by so don't be a stranger!

In the meantime, any new creative hobbies on your horizon?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

European Adventure

When money gets tight in the Hulks household we get Ebaying. Soon anything that is not nailed down and can fit into a jiffy bag is up for grabs. If you haven't used it, watched it, or expressed delight in it in the last six months then it is VERY likely to disappear. This surge of fund raising has been brought on by our plans this summer. I mentioned that I am hoping to take a cooking course in Tuscany in a previous blog post which, though part of it, is actually only the last phase of the adventure.

The adventure begins in mid July when we will be hoping on the Eurostar (via the St Pancreas Champagne bar if the Ebaying goes well!) for Paris to begin a four week European train adventure. As I'm now (sort of) footloose and fancy free over the summer (or at least I have the ability to juggle my studies over my holidays this year to give myself one big block of time off!) we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to have a longer trip and see all the bits of Europe that we've been banging on about seeing since we got married.

The travel library - with a random book about church architecture in the middle and one on Hawaii at the bottom which I am aware is not in Europe! Ha!
After Paris we are off to Bordeaux for some wine tasting and then down in to Spain to the San Sebastian Jazz Festival. San Sebastian is also home of the most number of Michelin Star restaurants per square mile anywhere in the world. We will be staring longingly at said restaurants while eating some street food. Fab! We are then heading on to Madrid and Seville where we will take in some Flamenco and hopefully eat an orange and then off to visit family in the south of Spain for a five day flop on the beach and a tour of Moorish Granada.

Then it's on to Barcelona (party time!), up into Provence for yet more wine tasting (are you sensing a theme?!) and then into Italy where we will cruise the canals of Venice in a gondola, eat bolognaise in Bologna, pretend to know things about art in Florence and learn to make the perfect ravioli in Tuscany. All while developing a truly brilliant tan, taking a whole load of pictures and eating. Oh, so much eating. It will be like woman vs pasta. And tapas. And beef bourguignon. And gelato.

Planning the trip is seriously brightening up these cold winter evenings. I love the library and it is THE best place for planning holidays. Guide books go out of date pretty much as soon as you buy them but the library buys in the newest ones so it is perfect for getting ideas, scoping out the best all round guide and then, hopefully, getting that on Kindle to avoid carrying actual books around Europe. I am an insanely light traveller but this trip is going to be my finest hour. If it looks like I'm carrying more than a handbag I will be disappointed in myself. Now to work on the other half who is a last minute 'shove it all in, why not?' packer. Oh dear.

So how about you? Any exciting travel plans for 2013? Go on, you know you want to!