Tuesday, 30 September 2008


I have just come back from a lovely evening in a local restaurant where a very nice lady just relaunched a line of French and Italian handbags and jewellery that she will be selling through her shop Mowanis (www.mowanis.co.uk). I was tempted by some fabulous Mulberry like bags but as I need to get a car first I kept my wallet in my coat. I did however buy a lovely flower ring to cheer me up on a rainy day such as today. My friend Rosana made the painting and the designs for the gorgeous invitations. You'll find her beautiful portraits at www.rosanaibarrola.co.uk.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Red Nose Day

It truly was a red nose day for me although the day was in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Today was the world's biggest coffee morning and I had yet again a group of lovely mums around for coffee and cakes. Because of my stinking cold for several days I didn't manage to do all the usual baking but still produced date and walnut brownies and poppy seed and lemon muffins. We had a huge supply of many kinds of biscuits, a lovely home made banana bread and a french chocolate mousse cake. Soooo delicious, I must get the recipe. I should have taken a picture of course of all the lovely things on offer but (I blame this on the cold)... I forgot. Girl monkey decorated the room with some Phoenix cup cake paper chains and then asked me whether I could save her a brownie! The best thing of all today though was that we raised a good amount of money for the charity! Thanks to everyone involved.

I couldn't bring myself to look at my emails last night, let alone blog about what we did that day. My friend Rosana and I went to Tatton Park for the Contemporary Art Biennial though and had a lovely day out. The sun has been shining all week and it has really lifted my spirits but the two of us were both a little miserable in the physical department and just pottered around the garden for a bit. I hate to say this but it was very hard to distinguish between the works of art and other objects. I do not usually have difficulties in discovering a work of art but it wasn't easy this time and they weren't sign posted very well, some may not have been on display. Even the gardeners weren't able to give us any clues as to their whereabouts. 

I believe this wasn't a work of art but another object made from string, yarn and other bits apparently was. 
This was a monument elevating the Japanese Knotweed (why?)

And this was in my opinion the best piece. I absolutely loved this work. It is a photographic image hung between the trees. Apparently there were five such works by David Cotterrell embedded throughout the gardens suggesting trompe l'oeuil and the rationale of the park's late eighteenth century landscape designer, Humphry Repton, but we only found two. The other work,  however was not as successful as this one I felt, as it was on two little wooden supports that were clearly visible and not straight which was a real shame. The works were called Little Sheep, I would love to know why. 

I don't think I will make an effort to go and see the Biennial again, I think it was quite a big word for these site specific works. We are not even sure whether there is going to be another one the lady in the shop told me. She thought it was silly to call it a biennial as this was the first one and as there were no further plans. She made me laugh. The gardens are lovely though and I know I will come to roam around again. Hopefully without a red nose next time.....

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Summer in the city

Unbelievable, autumn has started but summer has only just arrived! The last few days have been absolutely glorious and we have spent them around the various parks of Didsbury. This morning we started with a lovely walk around the Fletcher Moss garden before moving to Didsbury Park for a picnic. Yesterday we went to Fog Lane park for a country fair. We were most amazed by the demonstration of the falconry association, the bird was so clever. There was willow weaving, wood carving and circus tricks by a local company. The monkeys really enjoyed tight rope walking, I would have loved to do that myself!

The weekend started creative though with the mother and toddler arts and crafts group. This week we focussed on Van Gogh's Sunflowers. Everyone loved the story Camille and the Sunflowers and we had a real one to get some inspiration from. We started of using the conventional yellow, brown and green but then one little boy (whose favourite colour is yellow) asked for some purple, and we got the glitters out and the little ones created the most fabulous pieces. 

Next time we will be looking at a Karel Appel and I am sure we will create the most surprising works of art. 

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Lady Marmalade

Last night I went to an absolutely charming gallery in Knutsford. I had not heard of Canvas Lounge before but was very pleased to be introduced there. My friend Rosana Ibarrola shows her work there and I saw fabulous textile pieces and a piece made of bits of rusty metal that I was very keen to take home with me. The gallery hosted a fun evening to raise money for Breast Cancer. On display was the work Lady Marmalade by Ashwan a renowned international artist and musician, created especially for the Breast Cancer Charity. All the guests were encouraged to either sign the work or add something to it. Absolutely fabulous. The work will be auctioned online and I urge everyone to have a look, bid on the work or try to leave a donation for this very worthwhile cause. It's a charity close to my heart. 

Please try the following link where the work will be auctioned online for one week starting Monday 22 Sept. : www. trcreative.co.uk/bc 

And as we were leaving we all received such a lovely goody bag. It will be a surprise for the monkeys when they get back from school. The mini gingerbread man is too sweet to gobble up.

Monday, 15 September 2008

It's all in the mind....

.... well yes and that is why I am not producing anything. My body is in shock and my brain is doing overtime trying to figure out where my life is taking me. However on the positive side I did manage to finish these three lovely flowers for girl monkey's dress whilst watching Tess of d'Ubervilles last night. 

Thursday, 11 September 2008


I am suffering from a broken heart, badly. Shattered would be a better word to describe it. I would love to curl up and hibernate. Opening my eyes on the first day of Spring, bathing in sunlight waiting for a prince on a horse to come and rescue me. Alas we do not live in an ideal world and I have two beautiful monkeys to take care of and give them the best life possible. So I drag myself out of bed every day, try to look my best and put a smile on my face.
I am not achieving a lot apart from living from day to day with the help of my friends but as I would like to start creating again I got myself on a bus this morning and went to Urbis in Manchester City Centre to get some inspiration from the Matthew Williamson : 10 years in fashion exhibition. I saw some wonderful pieces there and took pictures on my phone however my bluetooth device does not seem to connect. 
I then had a quick look around the shops and treated myself to these lovely purple pumps and a fuchsia polka dot umbrella (can't leave home without one this summer). I thought their colours would cheer me up. I will need a lot of cheering up and a little retail therapy however small always helps a bit. 

Girl monkey then cheered me up with her delicious petit-fours that she made of mini meringues, home-made lemon curd and raspberries. She is such a sweetheart. I just loved it!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Life Laundry

The first morning of the academic year and I decided to do some life laundry. But before I started (and found these fabulous images in a Conde Nast publication of September 1954 hidden between my craft books) I went to do a little shopping in Didsbury village. I love going to the shops here, the shop owners are so lovely, there are friendly faces in the street and on every trip I will bump into a friendly neighbour or parent from school. The charming owner of the Freshsave deli gave me two bags of 'exotic red bananas from Colombia' to try. A real treat but quite a few bananas to consume so I headed home and made my smoothie of the day. I do like mine quite tangy nowadays, I suppose that is the influence of Mr Betsy. I added the juice of one lemon, two small red bananas, a handful of grapes and strawberries and a small glass of apple juice and blended the lot. It kept me going for a few hours.

Back to the life laundry. I have no idea if I will stay in this lovely area and if so for how long but whatever happens I will surely miss the friendly atmosphere here. Life is full of surprises, some nice, others not at all but one has to make choices in life and when a choice has been made make the most of it. My motto has always been you only live once so make the most of it and whatever happens nothing is going to stand in the way. Even if this means moving to the other side of the world. Smile and the world smiles with you!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Happy Birthday Girl Monkey

Today was the big party, 30 odd children, some adults and a lot of fun. The monkeys decorated the cake together yesterday. We had the fabulous Alex from Circusology doing his great tricks and there were lots of presents. A big mountain still to be unwrapped.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Bubble and squeak

Two and a half years ago I picked up a leaflet from the Global Art Project for Peace. The information on the front : "Create a work of art expressing your vision of global unity to exchange with a person in another part of the world " caught my eye but sadly I was too late to register. I had kind of forgotten about this organisation but luckily kept the leaflet and found it again earlier this year and I was very excited to register. I love the idea that thousands of messages of peace are being sent around the world simultaneously as it was planned for the end of April this year. I kept up late the night I registered, could not sleep at all and kept seeing round trees in my mind. I made drawings of what I wanted to create as a peace message and this wall hanging was the result. I will not go into detail to explain why I used the symbolic and the materials/colours I used but if anyone is interested please let me know and I will gladly send the full explanation.  

And look what I got in the post! I know it isn't April but there is a reason why this arrived a little later. Anyway I got this fabulous box decorated with wonderful papers and a string of beads and messages; I was truly thrilled. But then I noticed the tissue papers through the hole at the top and although for a moment thought that it was very nice tissue paper I then noticed more papers underneath and wondered if there was anything inside. 

And guess what, Christmas came early for me! It was such a wonderful treasure box. Tina and Carol, these wonderful ladies from Montana made all these lovely peace messages together to send them all the way to me. There were wonderful texts attached to branches, some put on a string of beads, a lovely figurine of Kannon the goddess of mercy and compassion and lots more. This art project for peace could not have come at a better time. It has lifted my spirit; I wish that everyone could start by finding peace in their heads and hearts. It would make the world a better place. 

On another note, I have lived in the UK for nearly 15 years and there are many traditional dishes that I still haven't tried (and I am sorry to say this but some I will not want to try at all). So tonight I made bubble and squeak for the first time and it was delicious. I made the version with potatoes, primo cabbage, onions and bacon. It is quite similar in a way to a traditional Dutch dish called Slastampot which is prepared with lettuce instead of cabbage, the onions are left out and mustard is added. The bubble and squeak though was so nice I ate for two. Having entirely lost my appetite since coming back from Italy it was great to fill up again!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Arts & Crafts Club

We had a lot of fun today! The children had the giggles when the mums were drawing around them and had a good time choosing materials to use for their collages based on Tony Cragg's sculptures of found objects. We all had a great time and even my poppy seed cake that lost the top last night as I shook it out of the tin, went down well. 

One of the girls made a fabulous outfit with pink materials and bubble wrap and the twins decorated the loveliest double-act.

After all the fun my friend Jo drove me to Stockport as she didn't want me to get on a bus in the pouring rain. I am really blessed with fabulous friends, they'll do anything and everything for me and are such a good support. They are good as gold, I wouldn't know what to do without them. 
Anyway I was pleased to introduce Jo to a fine shopping experience in Stockport and enjoyed a lovely lunch with her. 

Today is my niece's birthday. I'd send her a message to see if I could call her at home but no.... she's rehearsing with Lionel Richie......

Thursday, 4 September 2008


I've been sewing mac cloth aprons today for the group of children that are starting my arts and crafts classes tomorrow. I am very excited about this. I promised them a surprise and I hope they'll like their personalised tabards. 

I am just finishing the last ribbons on them. For once I wanted to be in bed before midnight but I don't think that is going to happen. Tomorrow I will be tackling Tony Cragg sculptures/collages with a bunch of three and four year olds!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Finds of the day

I found some lovely items today in the furniture recycling shop. A  very sweet Noddy crockery set of 2 cups and saucers, a teapot and a sugar bowl and plate. 

And I was delighted to find this collar box. The guy in the shop didn't think it was anything special but I love it, great for all those bits of ribbon lying around.

Today was boy monkey's first day at school. My babies are babies no longer......