Art Exhibition

Yesterday we went to an art exhibition. The Artrix Centre in Bromsgrove always has an exhibition of art on display, and at the moment the featured artist is my sister in law, Claire.

Here are some of her pieces:

Picture 1Picture 2Picture 3

This is just a taster! You really have to see the work up close to appreciate the complexity. These are most definitely mixed media pieces, and each time you look you see a detail, a texture, a layer that you hadn’t seen before. These are all about texture and colour.

If you like these, and want to look at some more, visit her here.

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Summer Dress – McCalls M6557

McCalls M6557

I’ve been busy! I bought the pattern and fabric for this dress ages ago, when I happened to go into a shop and discover a half price sale on fabric. I love the 1950s full skirts and definite waistlines, so it was a great pattern for me. I looked for a fabric for the waistband as well, but there were none in the shop where I bought the main fabric.

The next time I was in the other fabric shop in town, I looked for a contrast fabric for the waist. They had no suitable pinks and no suitable greens, and I came away with half a metre of lilac fabric, which I thought was OK at first, but as time passed and I still didn’t make the dress I grew increasing unhappy with my choice. Eventually I made a special visit to Alcester to find an alternative fabric, and I came home with the green you see above.

So I made the dress. It took me a day, which at my speed is quite an impressive feat. The top is lined, so I have done my first ever lining. I have also made my first ever buttonhole!

Buttonhole

See! After owning my sewing machine, which has a perfectly good buttonhole foot and stitch settings for making them, for 15 years, I have finally put in a buttonhole. I am ridiculously pleased with it even though it wouldn’t stand close scrutiny. That’s one sewing fear conquered.

One thing I was not so happy with was the sizing. This is the third pattern in a row I have made to the size the packet tells me I need to based on my measurements that I have then had to take in. My lesson is learned! From now on I will make the size I would pick off a rack in a shop. They must put a huge amount of ease in these patterns. However, it’s fine now, and if no-one looks too closely at the inside they probably wouldn’t know.

I think I might make another dress to this pattern – possibly in a less bold fabric, so it’s more an everyday wear, and definitely in the smaller size!

All that said, I love this dress – now I just need to be invited to a garden party to have somewhere to wear it out to!

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Reading with Children

Anyone in the UK with school age children, or anyone who has had school age children in the last -oh, goodness knows how many years, will probably be familiar with the Oxford Reading Tree. It’s a great load of books. There are lots of good stories, and enough variety to satisfy anyone. Many have been released which follow the phonics systems in use now, and I am sure there are new books being written all the time. I am now very familiar, being on my third reading of some of them.

Most of the time, the books come home from school, get read, get a comment in the reading record and go back to school.

Sometimes a book comes home which makes you think about how life has changed. When you have to explain the front cover before opening the book, perhaps an update is necessary.

Book

Questions this book may raise:

What’s that? Phone boxes. I can’t remember the last time I saw one. In this book there are three all within running distance.

What’s a phonecard? I guess if you have no more phone boxes, you have no more phone cards. However, Mr 7 did understand the concept of the pre-pay card as he has experience of the Google Play store.

Why didn’t the old lady have a phone in her house? I can remember a time when I was a child when we didn’t have a phone. Back in my early childhood we moved house and had to wait until the new telephone exchange was built before getting a phone line. Nowadays I could count on my big toes the people I know who don’t have a landline. Apparently, this is becoming more usual again as people rely on mobiles rather than landlines (not surprising when it recently cost me five times as much to make a short local call on my land line as it would have on my mobile).

What’s a phone book? I don’t think Mr 7 has ever seen one in use.

Why didn’t the kids just call on their mobiles? Back in the old days…

How did the ambulance get to the house before the kids had walked back? Now that’s a whole different set of questions and answers!

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Merry Christmas!

Santa Letter

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Celebrations

Shall we flit from celebration to celebration? The last post here was at Halloween and now it is nearly Christmas. Well, what have we been doing in that time? Quite a lot and not much are two equally valid answers.

What we have had a lot of recently is pre Christmas events. Firstly, eating. I went to my first work Christmas do ever. It has just struck me that I have never, ever been out for an official work Christmas event before. I can’t quite believe it now I think about it. Surely I must have been to one at some point in that ancient history that was BC (Before Children)? But no, I’m sure not. However, back to the present (or at least very recent past).

All of us from work went out last week to Cheltenham, where we ate at Monty’s Brasserie in The George Hotel. I know nothing much of Cheltenham, considering how near we live. It’s only just over half an hour away, but I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve been there, and count on my thumbs the number of times I’ve driven there myself. The one thing that did disappoint me last week was that they’ve closed the one car park I knew how to get to. Luckily, Mr PC had planned ahead, and handed me the sat-nav with postcodes of other car parks programmed in. I am so lucky having such an organised, considerate husband!

The food, though! The food! I had a crispy duck starter which was sublime, a turbot main which was delicious, and a salted caramel desert which was heavenly, but I only managed half as I was so full of duck and turbot. Mmm. So nice to eat food we would never have at home, and actually do something social. It was a lovely evening, and also nice to see a different side of everyone I work with.

I did leave a bit earlier than most, and was home by midnight. I don’t really do late nights very well, being seriously out of practise. I could have stayed out all night and crept to a hotel at 4am, but decided not to. My own bed is lovely! But you know what? I’m already looking forward to next year.

The next thing we have been doing a lot of recently is singing. But more on that later.

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Our Halloween

PumpkinSeedsCheesy Broomsticks …and about a hundred children calling at the door. Seriously, the warm weather and lack of rain brought them all out this evening. From 5:45 to 7:15 it was a constant stream of people at the door. I’ve never known anything like it!

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Apologies

A month ago I had great plans. I was going to tell you all about our holiday in splendiferous detail, and carry on and the keep up with the blogging far more regularly than I have since before I started my job. Than what happened? I blinked and a month zipped past, that’s what. So, apologies for my abject failure to write even one sentence on here in over a month. Allow me to make up for it by condensing the rest of our holiday into a few short paragraphs.

The Jura was our first stop, as I have already said. It is a region that attracts a lot of French visitors, who all do lots of energetic outdoorsy type things during the day. Do you know what they do in the evenings? Stay quiet. In a park filled with hundreds of people in mobile homes there was absolute blissful silence after dark.

One of the places we visited was Les Roches de Baume. This is a cave system, with regular tours. The tours are all in French, but they handed out an English translation so I was able to read it in advance. Luckily I understand just enough French, that having read up in advance I could tell the kids things like, ‘This is the owl chamber, because those shapes up in the ceiling look like owl’s eyes,’ at just the right time. I suspect I got more from it than many of the French visitors because the group was so large that I think half the people couldn’t hear what was being said properly.

We headed down South after that, to Frejus and a more lively noisy park with multiple swimming pools and kids clubs. We had planned this based on the children’s choices, which were entirely based on the number and variety of waterslides available. As an advantage there were ‘learn to swim’ and ‘learn to ride a bike’ clubs which would have been brilliant for Mr 6. Sadly those clubs only run in June. We were very disappointed. They didn’t make that at all clear on the website. How silly, to only run clubs like that in term time.

Pool

Otherwise, the South of France was sunny and bright and warm, just as you’d expect. There was plenty of relaxing time, books read, swimming and eating in the shade of palm trees.

Having sunned ourselves sufficiently, we went to a holiday park near Chambord in the Loire Valley. Of course we visited chateaux! Chambord is the most amazing chateau. Huge, and beautiful, the rooftop is like a village in its own right. You can walk round the ground floor, thinking that it isn’t really that big – only four main rooms with a turret in each corner and a big cross shaped hallway centred on a spiral staircase between. Then you look up, and along, and realise that your whole house would fit in there twice, quite comfortably. In just the one room.

Chambord

We also went to Disneyland. We were only a two hour drive away, so we couldn’t not go, could we? The kids enjoyed it. To me it seemed (whisper this) … small. The environment, the setting, the design are all fantastic. The rides themselves seemed a bit limited. The girls did every ride they wanted to, even with the queues. I hadn’t really thought about it in advance, but tally up all the ‘big’ rides and the total number isn’t huge.

The food was also horrendously expensive and quite unimpressive. At lunchtime, we paid 55 Euros for our burger meals, and to make us even less impressed they forgot one of the burgers. By the time we had all our food the only thing warm was the ice lolly. There were other restaurants, but a lot of the prices were out of our range (and our children too fussy to appreciate it). We could have eaten at The Stagg for less, and The Stagg has a Michelin Star. I am glad we went, just so the kids can say they went, but I have no desire to ever return.

Of all the holiday parks we stayed at this last one in the Loire was my favourite. It was the smallest and quietest, but it still had the big old house there. It felt more like staying in the grounds of someone’s house rather than on a big commercial undertaking.

Marais

Overall we had a lovely time, seeing three, perhaps four, completely different aspects of France. We all had a bit of the type of holiday we love, despite our hugely differing tastes, which all makes for a fantastic time.

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