Sharing a love of Dolls House Miniatures - and making time for other creative crafts and the garden.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Thame Remembers

This Sunday marks 100 years since the end of World War 1 and my family like thousands of others will take time to remember those who sacrificed their lives or their health that we might live in freedom.  Since then many thousands of others made the same sacrifice for us in World War 2 and subsequent conflicts. In cities, towns and villages we shall come together here in U.K.,  and in other countries to honour them all.  I want to tell you about a really special initiative here in Thame (Oxfordshire).


Set up in 2014 The Thame Remembers Project set out to identify the final resting places of the 212 from Thame who gave their lives in World War 1 - wherever in the world that might be -  and place a Thame cross on the grave. 300 people have involved themselves and placed crosses on graves in 102 cemeteries on four continents, including ocean graves. All have been delivered.

This week as we walk around our Market Town, paper poppies are appearing in front windows of  houses.  600 left Thame to fight in World War 1 - 'Thame Remembers' was able to find the addresses of over 300 - 65 of whom died.  Local school children and youth groups cut out and coloured in the poppies - a black centre to signify one who did not come home, a white centre for those who did - the current home owners have kindly displayed many and others fill our Town Hall windows.
Beneath each poppy are the details of the young man - some windows have the names of two or three brothers.......



These are such poignant and impressive projects that I thought others might like to hear about them and perhaps be inspired to do something similar. I should also like to thank all those involved in this wonderful project.

On Sunday I know that the town will turn out in force again - Mums and Dads with toddlers in buggies, teenagers and us 'older folk'- because not only do we honour those who have gone before but today in 2018 our young men and women are still prepared to risk their lives for the rest of us.

Thank you for looking
Robin

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Faces of Autumn

It seems such a long time since we had such a glorious autumn - the weather is warm and wonderful, the changing colours of trees and shrubs and evening skies are a delight and much happy gardening has been taking place.  Here in the U.K. the clocks 'fall back' this coming weekend so I suppose we shall have to acknowledge that winter might be just around the corner. Then it will be time move to inside activities...back to reducing excess 'stuff'(boring but necessary) and thinking about miniatures again (much more interesting).

Out in the garden the early morning mists and dew transform so much and these clematis seed heads look beautiful - soon they will be fluffy and differently beautiful.


It is the time of 'hacking back' so old willow and hazel have been pollarded or coppiced and rampant climbing roses and shrubs brought back under some sort of control.  However, when we created this garden almost from scratch we deliberately created a labour intensive garden - much loved by mad gardeners such as us.  The circular gravel garden looked super for a number of years, but lately it has become very crowded and overgrown; although still looking super, it needed attention so plants have been removed or reduced in size, and some treasures given space. Needless to say I now have a number of pots containing spare plants looking for new homes in our borders or someone else's.


Roses are fantastic plants which keep giving until the very last moment and we still have a number that are blooming their hearts out.  Clematis 'Freckles' is just coming into flower and all sorts of interesting fungi are popping up all over the place - magic!


My work bench has become a bit of a dumping ground over the summer but I know there are two or three little people tucked away just waiting to get out of their box.......characters just for me. I shall have to start thinking.



Thank you for looking
Robin

Friday, October 5, 2018

Autumn Miniatura

A friend and I had a lovely jaunt to the Autumn Miniatura Show at Birmingham a couple of weekends ago, did lots of catching up with old chums and as ever, had a good dose of miniature inspiration.  As I've been bottling pickled onions for what feels like weeks - it was just the treat I needed! Of course a little spend is absolutely essential to make the day.

We were a little disappointed to see that a some of our favourite artisans weren't attending, and (we went on the second day) that it didn't seem terribly busy - having both been long-standing fair standholders we know of course what that feels like! However it meant we were able to enjoy ourselves  looking at all the super work on offer in comfort rather than a scrum, and chat to old friends.

Two artisans that create just delightful miniatures, so I felt like a kid in a sweetshop as I struggled to decide which of their beautiful items to choose, were Emma Jane and Ottervale. In the end Emma Jane's golly was perfect for my toy cupboard....and the teeny weeny squirrels by Ottervale China could not be resisted.  Both will be at Kensington  in December so I shall have to go back and see them again. Both items are really 'miniature' so apologies for the less that perfect photographs.
Lots of other lovely things to drool over of course, and as ever, lots to inspire.



Sadly my favourite car boot fair has now closed until next year but I did spot a tiny metal eastern figure that will look great on a little shelf.


Mother Nature brings us little treats......diamond droplets on a dainty plant and even in a built up area without huge open skies, a sunset to rival any.


Thank you for looking
Robin

Monday, September 10, 2018

Wine, An Autumn Harvest And A Load of Old Shoes

I've been quiet on the blogging front because late summer is a busy time in the garden and kitchen and it's been lovely to have time out with family and friends - still no more excuses! I hope you'll like my old shoes and you're welcome to chuckle at the wine!

 
First I'd like to show you my glorious 'Constant Nymph' Streptocarpus - she deserves a photo - so many flowers, too many to count. She's my favourite!

We've been busy harvesting a great crop of fruit and vegetables for weeks, freezing some, giving some away and turning some into jam, pies and chutney.  The kitchen has smelt incredible - positively heady at times - and I'm running out of jars.


 This year our black grape vine has done well for once (we usually leave the grapes for the birds) so as they're somewhat 'pippy' for eating we're experimenting with a little wine.........No, I'm not at all confident, but I won't know for a year....

Back in the day, or as my grandkids say, the olden times, my Mum and Aunt were great hedgerow winemakers.  You name it - they made it; I remember best the elderflower, elderberry, dandelion and sloe wines and spending hours in bright yellow fields of dandelions getting stained in sticky brown sap as we picked the heads and being pricked as we strained to gather the elderflower heads and berries from the hedges around our home.  Happy days.
Still - as I say.....no I'm not at all sure about this grape wine. However, I've made some blackberry Gin and I know that will be great!!

I've always been a lover of shoes, although these days the biggest concern sadly, is all about comfort.  Small shoes don't have to be comfortable just beautiful or interesting and I have a few.


 This little broken wooden shoe is very precious and was brought back from Germany by my Dad after his release as a POW after the war.


My family were bakers and confectioners and my aunt who not only made the wine, decorated all the cakes - this little silver cardboard shoe came from a family wedding cake about 50 years ago - the tiny metal shoes, linked by a rusty couple of links and thread have been with me 'forever'. Both sit on my printers shelves.


Different friends gave me the little leather shoes - all seem to have been brooches at one time.  The wonderful lady's heeled boot is old and a lovely fine china - it sat on my Granny's shelf and I love it now it is mine.  It's the largest shoe, but still only about 4 inches tall.



Car boots sales can yield some treasures and the last three shoes came from there.  I particularly love the handcarved wooden shoe - it reminds me so much of th‏e first one - and looks as if it has some age to it.  The green ones - not that old - do have a vintage look, and I like them both and love green china. These shoes are all about 4 inches long.

Now we're all recovering from the heatwave in this part of the world, I hope you're also enjoying a lovely autumn.

Thanks for looking
Robin

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Pied Piper Toy Cupboard

It has taken a while...faffing about mostly, looking through my collection of toys and getting distracted by the gorgeous weather and having to water all my pots. Still I've had lots of fun deciding which to use and spent ages filling the shelves - 'tis done!


The finished toy cupboard again....and as it opens slowly....to reveal the toys.
Actually it opens slowly, because I haven't yet worked out a way to keep it properly closed....to be solved anon....


The collection is a mixture of a few we've made ourselves, the odd ordinary 'filler' and some wonderful items created by friends and colleagues, acknowledged artisans in our miniature world, collected and hoarded over the years. I'm sorry not to have identified individual makers but as I can't be sure about them all, I don't want to miss someone and they're all special.

The little ship is just made of cardboard and beads and the couple at the back is a brooch
The little dolls house once hung on the Christmas tree
I just love baby tucked into Mummy elephant's back pack

There are still a few mini projects I'd like to have a go at, but for now I'm embracing this wonderful, but challenging summer.

Thank you for looking
Robin

Monday, July 16, 2018

I Bought A Fishing Net For The Butterflies

Our lovely conservatory - full of plants and flowers and comfy seating also attracts far too many butterflies.  The doors are wide open in the heatwave so they flutter from the nearest flowers outside to the ones inside - not being quite as agile as we were once, they're pretty hard to catch - and mostly die.  So I've bought a child's fishing net - and I have to say, I'm pretty good with it!!!  Nearly all trapped butterflies now released daily in the 'wild'. Yes it is a comical sight!

I ran out of space for flowers in the last couple of blogs so as I look at my wilting/scorching garden, I am reminded that the lawn will always survive, topping up the tiny ponds matters the most or the frogs will fry, watering the pots and tomatoes matters a lot - and the rest will probably take care of itself in due course and look great again (I HOPE). The passageway between our neighbour's fence and our conservatory is  almost a greenhouse, full of tomatoes and flowers and indoor plants having a holiday outside and does get watered everyday so is thriving.

The Passionflower seems quite happy in the heat, but has well shaded roots.  Meanwhile, I've just realised why my tiny ponds need topping up such a lot every day - the local birds are all coming in droves to bathe and drink.  Another good reason for looking after them!

My chum Celia aka KT Miniatures has acquired a wonderful dolls house and contents that are probably 100 years old - she's fallen in love with the house but individual items are for sale on her brilliant website - and she gave me a present because I fell in love with it. It is a patchwork 'ball' - unbelievably, 20 sided and minutely hand-stitched from 1/2" triangles of the finest silk and silk brocade on templates of thin card or paper. Only approx 1" across, it wasn't until I photograhed it that I noticed teeny weeny pins in the corners - I'm guessing it was made for the miniature nursery, although I suppose it could be a pin cushon. Some other fascinating items are up for sale -  take a look at KT Miniatures.com  


We're both keen on hunting for bargains at the car boot sale and have lots of fun - this week I bought a tiny little ceramic fairy carrying a daisy - pre-war I think and made in Germany.  I'm pretty sure she was a cake decoration, perhaps for a Christening and fancy there's a bit of ancient icing sugar still stuck underneath! She's just over 2" tall.  At first I thought a petal was broken from the flower, but of course the naughty little fairy has pulled one off and that's what she's waving.


Before the heatwave really got going Rob and I took a favourite wander along the canal tow path in nearby Oxford.  The canal passes through the old boat yard at Jericho which is part of the waterfront area  due to be redeveloped.......
I shudder a bit at the thought, but for now the traditonal, colourful and sometimes shabby barges are still moored and the little streets of Jericho with Victorian workers' cottages, are famous for many fictional murders in 'Morse', Lewis and 'Endeavour' and still reach down to the waterfront.
We walk back to the centre of the city through ancient and very familiar streets where we once lived and worked.  It's a very special historic suburb  and worth a visit or Google, if you're a fan of the books or T.V. series.


In between being distracted by the garden, little visitors, football and tennis....I did finally manage to paint the doors of my new toy cupboard. I settled on a favourite folklore theme and chose the very famous Pied Piper of Hamelin luring the children of the town away. It isn't the first time - many decades ago I painted a full sized mural of the scene on a real door for my children and much later recreated him (with rats this time) as a 1/12th scale character doll.

Approx 6" tall
Created in 2008....with 40 rats!!

Still have shelves to fit and toys to collect up and arrange on them - hopefully next blog. 

Thank you for looking
Robin













Monday, July 2, 2018

I Do Love Car Boot Sales

Apart from good weather, lots of time spent in my garden and the opportunity to have some lovely summertime walks in our countryside - car boot sales are top of my list.  Fortunately I have a friend who loves them just as much and we have a really good one that attracts great stalls, very close to our town so we can wander off for a happy couple of hours at the weekend.
We have similar tastes....miniatures, art deco, quirky, plants.....it would be fair to say that our nearest and dearest don't necessarily love what we purchase, but we're good at haggling and rarely spent very much.



Up first - a totally over the top - damaged (lots of ancient glue) vase. I love it - my nearest and dearest think it's hideous. O.K. - I can live with that! It's 'quirky'. And I've found a really super place for it....



A week or two back I bought this rather nice lustre jug which did meet with approval.


A stunning ceramic brooch - I so wish I knew who the maker was! I know brooches are out of favour but I do love them.

......and this mad necklace - broken - which we all agreed had 'possibilities'.  Various attempts to mend it failed so it was back to plan 'A' and use it for something entirely different. An old dilapidated frame with tatty velvet background seems to work so now it's about to hang on our picture wall.


If by any remote chance you have wondered how the toy cupboard is progressing.....I tried the 'picture book' style animals - hated them - painted them out.....onward and upward. I'm going for folklore/fairy tales instead - I'll let you know.

A few garden pictures - there are lots more so I will do another blog  very soon - hopefully that will please Donna!! The first two are from our veggie plot - the blazing sun is almost cooking the strawberries, which isn't great. Lots of gardening the last week or two - not through the heat of the day - and some lovely visits and visitors.

The Viechenblau rose is a favourite - taking over the garden - and climbing high  into the cedar tree.

Thank you for looking
Robin

Monday, June 4, 2018

On the one hand the cupboard....on the other, the garden.....

It's that time of year when despite the fact that there is a mini-project sitting on my work-top, and beads to restring....the call of the garden (rain or shine) is just that bit stronger.

I feel duty-bound to demonstrate that miniatures have not been entirely abandoned. This rather ordinary cupboard knocked together from scraps of mountboard and wood is one day going to be the toy cupboard - hence a box of toys sitting there to inspire me.  The plan (such as it is) is to paint it all over with 'picture book' style characters, animals or fairies maybe, so that it will look like a toy cupboard instead of a tatty wardrobe.


Back in the garden, everything is coming up roses - except in the wild garden where everything is coming up pink campion and foxgloves...and moon daisies, poppies and yellow rattle.  I love it.

I'll just show you the pictures..........


There are more pictures of course - I'll keep those till next time, just in case the toy cupboard is not further forward....

Thank you for looking
Robin,