Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Making a Christmas Garland in 3 easy steps

1. Dry your citrus fruit

Slice up your oranges, lemons and limes and place them on baking paper. To dry them put your oven on it's lowest setting and leave them to dry for about 4 hours. After every hour open the oven door to let the steam out. (This also makes the house smell lovely).

2. Glitterify (yes, that's a word) your fir cones.

I found my fir cones under my brothers tree, but you can find them in most local woods, with a bit of foraging. If nothing else, it's an excuse for a walk. I would suggest you gently dry your fir cones, in front of the fir or on the top of your cooker, as they will probably be closed at this time of year, and you need them open.

At this point I would suggest you grab your nearest child as they love this sort of thing.

Then it is simple. Brush some PVA glue over the edges of the cones.

Next, sprinkle glitter all over them.

Until they look like these.

Give them a day to dry.

That's the tricky time consuming bits done.

3. Construct your garland

You will need some nice string or ribbon, I used that red and white Christmassy string, some cinnamon sticks and some star anise, plus, your dried oranges and glitterified fir cones.

You will need a skewer or a kebab stick or similar and a wooden chopping board, to skewer your oranges on

Then it's up to you how your garland looks.

I started by tying the fir cone. You definitely should knot these in place otherwise your garland will unravel. Another tip is cut sections of string and then knot your garland together, trying to do it on one piece of string requires the fingers of a ninja, which I definitely don't have.

Then skewer a small hole in 3 orange segments, and thread your string through. After that wrap the string a couple of times around a cinnamon stick and knot off.

 After this tie on a star anise, which is the fiddly bit, and start again.

When you have enough sections tie them all together and voila!

The actual construction of this took about half an hour, the only thing that takes time is the fir cones and oranges.

After that, enjoy how they look and the smell - lovely.

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Monday, 27 November 2017


The X-rays from when I first broke my ankle ankle with all the metal they put in
Back in January 2015, I broke my ankle quite badly, I blogged about it here.

The experience of losing my mobility for nearly six months was pretty hideous, and eye opening. I had a real incite of what people with disabilities experience and it wasn't great.

Since I have been healed, I have managed to achieve more than I thought, tap dancing being my biggest achievement. Especially as I asked the surgeon as a joke,

'Will I be able to tap dance again'

He very sternly said,


Up until that point I hadn't thought about tap dancing that much as I gave it up before I was 20. But being told no, so abruptly, made me want to do it, more than I had ever wanted to.

So, when I was laid up for months and months religiously doing my physio, even though it really hurt, I was just thinking about grumpy surgeon saying no.

And when the opportunity came out of the blue to tap dance, I was first in the queue saying yes.

But to a certain extent the surgeon was right. I didn't have the flexibility in my ankle and the taps on the left side weren't as good as the right.

I had been getting pains from the metal in my ankle contracting and expanding in the heat and the cold. Sometimes, it was waking me up at night.

I had turned into one of those people who could 'feel' changes in the weather.

So even though I was loathe to be off my feet again, I just thought, if I can reduce some of the pain and get some of the flexibility back, it would be worth having the metal removed.

At the beginning of the summer I got a referral from my GP to the orthopaedic clinic and spoke to a consultant there. I was ready to tell a massive tale of pain and lack of mobility, but with my opening gambit of 'I want the metal taken out of my ankle', the consultant was all, 'OK then'.

So the process began, by October I had a date for the surgery. It had worked out brilliantly, I had managed to dance in the dance show I had committed to, and dance the tapathon. The surgery was the day after the tapathon on the 20th November.

As usual, they had to draw an arrow on my leg to avoid confusion (I fear for a surgeon who doesn't know their left from their right, but OK).

I went in the morning and I was home by teatime, just.

There had been some issues getting my now extremely swollen ankle into an air boot, but with the help of a lovely physiotherapist, who I literally begged to help me get home that night, I managed to squeeze it in.

The first couple of days were pretty grim, painful and uncomfortable.

When I saw how the surgeon had stapled up my ankle I was a little shocked.

As one of my friends said, 'just add rosemary and garlic'
I was also thinking, that when the consultant had said you'll be back on your feet in a week, he may have been exagerating.

However, over the last couple of days I have seen a vast improvement, and today, a week later, I got in the car and could drive again. Not far and not for long, but I was back on my feet. Whoop.

Me today.
 So, hopefully I will be back tap dancing before Christmas. Exciting.

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Saturday, 18 November 2017

Dastardly Saturday

I have taken photo's all my life, and when I put my mind to it, I can be OK at it. So, on Saturday's, I'm going to post photo's I'm proud of. Here's my first one.

Saucy ladybirds.

Why do I like it? I like the depth of field, both ladybirds are in focus and the vibrancy of the colours. Oh, and their poses of course.

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Friday, 17 November 2017


Heather - Nearly Fifteen

My daughter is fifteen, tomorrow...FIFTEEN! Bloody hell, how did that happen? Where did the time go.

She is an incredible girl, full of plans and idea's, realistic, caring, sensible and crazy, beautiful and amazing.

I am quite proud of our relationship compared to the one I had with my Mum.

My Mum and I were very different people and clashed all the time, even as adults, even though I had a huge amount of respect for her. When I was fifteen, we hardly spoke and she annoyed me SO much.

I have a lasting memory of being fifteen and full of rage. It was probably hormones. But, my Mum and I spent the most of my fifteenth year arguing.

I don't think it will be like that with my daughter. We get on well, she handles her rage much better than I did and takes herself off to her room if she is moody as she likes to be alone.

We talk about stuff, we like similar things on the telly, we went to the cinema together earlier this week, just me and her as we both wanted to see the same film.

I don't know how this happened but it's lovely. 

I have written this for her.


When I was fifteen, I cut my own hair
I wore make up and didn’t care
When I was fifteen,
I stole, the heart
Of a boy, who was a man
Eighteen but a boy.
When I was fifteen, I knew my escape
Plan, I had to cram
I had to pass my exams
It was London for me
When I was 15 I knew everything
And nothing, my ambition was clear
It was black and white
The world and my Mum
Didn’t know
I was amazing, me
When I was fifteen

My girl is fifteen
She has cut her own hair
Wears make up, and doesn’t care
Whose heart she breaks
Before she escapes
Far away from me
She plans and crams
Ready for her exams
The world is grey, but she is clear
The world is just waiting
For her to be amazing
My girl is fifteen
Better than me

Monday, 13 November 2017

Modelling, at 50, Yes Please!


For my fiftieth birthday party, my daughters and I had dresses made, by Curious Co Co (my daughters) and The Couture Company (me).

These companies work together in Digbeth, Birmingham, making alternative wedding dresses.

Now, I realise I wasn't getting married again, but when I did get married, my dress was off the shelf and it was a budget affair.

For my birthday I wanted to splash out, and have the lovely bonding experience of going to have dress fittings with my daughters, I have talked more about that here.

Anyway, every year, the companies that made our dresses run the The Eclectic Wedding Extravaganza for people who want to have a more alternative wedding. There are lots of stalls where you can buy beautiful and unusual things, as well as the wedding stuff, and food stalls, it's a great event.

They also have a number of parade's which are Mardi Gras in style, where brides, and people like me and my girls wear our dresses and parade through the event lead by a brass band playing modern music. It's lots of fun and the girls loved it. They did it on, both, Saturday and Sunday and I did it just on Sunday.

But who'd have thunk it? Short stumpy me (with my giant bazooka's) modelling at 50. I am literally loving life!

Here's some photo's from the two days. 

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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Remembering the Women of War

My Gran, as I remember her, holding me at my Christening.
War is awful. Fact. And today we remember the soldiers who fought in the many wars, and kept our country, our country,(in the most part) democratic, multicultural, accepting and beautiful.
But today I want to talk about two women in my family who did other things to support the war effort.
My Gran, before she was married was a nurse during WW1. I know she worked with the wounded soldiers, because of this, see below.

I found this hand written note when clearing out my Mum's house, it's just on a scrap of paper, but how lovely that the wounded soldiers  appreciated her enough to write it.
I can't imagine what my Gran saw during WW1, but I know she must of done a good job.
She was a strong practical woman who was always smiling and always had time for you, perfect for the job of nurse. I am incredibly proud of her. She never mentioned her work during the war when she was alive, and my Mum, didn't either so I don't know how it affected her. I wish I'd known, when she was alive, what she did during the war, so I could talk to her about it, but I was a child when she died.
I can't find an earlier picture than this, it is about 10 years after WW1
My fathers two single sisters were 'encouraged' to go to dances to raise the morale of the Canadian soldiers who where stationed near by during WW2. I have the tickets my Aunts kept. From what I have heard, these were very 'jolly' affairs and they both enjoyed it.

One of the sisters, Monica, fell in love with one of these soldiers.
After this, the information is hazy as people didn't talk about emotions then.
Something went wrong, maybe he was stationed somewhere else, maybe he was sent to the front, maybe he died. I don't know.

She became very upset, suicidal. She tried to throw herself in the river.

As a result, she was hospitalised, and treated with electric shock therapy. She may have had a lobotomy, I'm not sure.
Monica, before she was hospitalised

She was never quite right after that, she never married, and was not allowed to be left alone with my brother and I when we were small.

She lived with her mother until her mother died and then in sheltered accommodation, and died alone, a couple of years after that.

She was a victim of the war.

Monica, after she was hospitalised.
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Friday, 10 November 2017

Pom Pom's in Six Easy Steps

Today, I have mostly been remembering how to make pom pom's.

This is something my Mum taught me to do years and years ago, so it's been a bit of trial and error, but now I've got it and I thought I'd share it with you.

So, if you're thinking a pom pom garland for Christmas might be nice (which is what I'm going to do), here is how to make them, in six easy steps.

You will need:
Scissors (a large pair and a small pair)
A Pencil
A Glass
A Coin 

Step One

Get a glass and a coin, the size of the glass determines how big your pom pom will be and the size of the coin determines how fluffy, the bigger the hole in the middle the more fluffy it will be.

Draw around the glass on the cardboard, and then put the coin in the middle of the circle you have made, and draw around that. Like this. Then cut it out.
Step Two

Using the first circle as a template draw around and cut out an identical template so that you have two the same. When you cut out the first template you can make a small cut out to get to the smaller hole. This will also make winding the wool easier.  See below.

Step Three

Start to wind the wool

Keep winding

When the hole in the middle is really small, you can stop winding.

Step Four

Take a small sharp pair of scissors and cut down the middle of the two pieces of cardboard. Like this.

Be careful not to let go of the cardboard I usually hold it like below when cutting, otherwise you end up with lots of short strands of wool that can't be corralled back into a pom pom shape. This bit is fiddly but if you are careful definitely do-able.

Step Five

Tie your pom pom, take a piece of wool and wrap it between the two pieces of cardboard, like below. then tighten and knot. I would repeat this, just to be on the safe side.

Step Six

Fluff and trim. If you are like me, you won't have a perfectly round pom pom after you fluff it,  so you may need to trim it to round it up. Once you have done this you are all finished.

After you get the hang of this, each pom pom will take you about 10 to 15 minutes depending on size.

Here's some I made earlier....sorry, couldn't resist.

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