Tuesday, 28 August 2012


AS I WALK ALONG THE STREETS OF MY HOME TOWN sometimes I remember the almost forgotten days of childhood, when there were all sorts of places to play - some where we should be playing and some where we were not supposed to be.  
Places that have changed so much over the years it is hard to remember what was there before and others that seem to have remained the same for ever.

THIS IS MY PERSONAL RECOLLECTION OF RAMSGATE not the town where I was born but where I have spent most of my life.

 Ellington Park:- so much of my childhood seems to have been spent here. Playing on the rockery, collecting conkers (Chatham House School was better), and playing on and around the bandstand.


What used to be one of the many sweet shops we used to go to - this one was very small inside.  It is just outside the park.

This was a fairly large wood yard on the corner of Southeastern Road. It doesn't seem that long ago it was still being used.  They seem to have managed to get a lot of accommodation on the site.

The shops that are now concentrated at the bottom of the High Street, Harbour Street and part of King Street and Queen Street once used to extend out in all directions.  
This used to be COLES a store similar to Wilkinsons but it was not part of a chain.  A little further down there used to be Skitt's the Chemist.  Further back towards the park was a Co-op and one of the many toy shops.  I think it was KINGS and I got my Britain's animals from there.

This row of three houses used to be among my favourite shops.  This is where Lovely's Art supply shop and the Albion Book shop used to stand on the corner of Chapel place.  The book shop wasn't big but it was the best place ever!

 This was Fine Fare where my brother worked after he left school.  But more importantly the cafe above the supermarket was where my friend and used to go after trying on all the hats in Littlewoods.  This is on the corner of the High Street and George Street, George Street was important to me because this was where the fabric shop was and another toyshop.
Coomes that can be seen here was once part of Littlewoods (the part with the hat department) and just a little further down the road behind the tree was Woolworths - home of broken biscuits, loose biscuits, wonderful Easter Eggs made of sugar and toys and all sorts of other good things.

From here PIG ALLEY next to what was the Freemasons pub can be seen.  We used to live near the top of the alley and spent many happy Saturdays going down it at speed on our scooters.  On the corner of the alley was a very good sweet shop.
  Saint Georges Church.  One of our many playgrounds was the churchyard, the Vicar didn't mind us playing there as long we didn't go in the Garden of Remembrance.  The gravestones against the dividing wall to Chatham house School made it easy to climb over so we could collect conkers and pretty much just run around (these were the days before anti-Vandal paint)  I do remember a rope burn on my neck where I hadn't noticed the cricket pitch roped off.  This is where I went to Sunday School and my Brownie pack was based here.
Going out to play always gave a host of opportunities - from parks and the beach where we should have been to the derelict buildings (and the piles of rubble they became), burn out Tizer lorry on some waste ground and the waterfall at Maderia Walk that we were supposed to not to be. 

Monday, 27 August 2012


This is in praise of my Mother - one of my best friends.  

She taught me to sew and cook, And tried to teach me to knit and crochet.  

 The first crafting I can remember was on holidays to Ramsgate.  As soon as we had got to our cottage We went to a wonderful toy shop in George Street to buy some cheap plastic dolls then next door to the Fabric shop for a couple of bags of scraps.  Then I could glue (with copydex) various outfits to my dolls.  Hours of fun.

Just before my younger sister was born I started (with Mother's help) to knit a pair of pale green booties for her.  This was not a success. Although I am not sure why I did not finish them, I think they only needed sewing up.  But when I was 18 I saw a pattern for a willow pattern jumper.                                                                                                                       http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-Sirdar-Ladies-Chinese-Willow-Pattern-Sweater-DK-Knitting-Pattern-6225-/350575076050?pt=UK_Crafts_Knitting_Crochet_EH&hash=item519fe722d2
I had to have this jumper, more than anything.  So the only thing to do was learn to knit.  The first thing I knitted was a Jean Greenhowe footballer, followed by a grey V necked jumper for myself and then I made my Willow Pattern jumper.   All through this while others were saying I should be starting with smaller projects my Mother was encouraging.

Crafts at school were not a success I do not remember ever finishing anything - kettle holder in the first year, PE bag in the second year, bias edged apron in the third year to the GONK in the forth year.  Since then I have sewn toys, clothes - including coats, cushions, in fact anything that took my fancy.  Always knowing that I had my Mother in the background to give advice and sort things out if I had a problem.

This meant that once I had taken the dressmaking plunge I could be as unique as I wanted.  She thought nothing of taking bits from this pattern or that pattern and showing me how to piece them together to achieve the effect I was after.  

Her talents do not just cover basic sewing.  There was the camp blanket she made my Father with badges sewn on it.  I have the delicate embroidery of the Heraldry Society Arms that she made.  Most importantly she helped my sister and I with the cutting and sewing of my sisters wedding dress and three bridesmaid dresses.

The other gift she has given me is a love of cooking and baking.  When we were children she made bread.  The most wonderful Delicious bread ever (I wish I could make it as well).  She used to try to bake enough to freeze but had to fight for every roll that made it to the freezer.  She baked her sisters wedding cake and had a range of roughly 60 varieties of small cakes to choose from for the other cakes at the wedding.  I also did the catering for my sisters wedding - I am hoping I had my mothers talent while doing it.  I can remember a cake she made for friends who wanted Micky and Minnie mouse coming out of a castle in the clouds - she baked meringues clouds and made hundreds of small flowers for the meadow.  
From quite an early age she was letting me try my hand at cooking dinner (she wasn't as happy with the amount of washing up I left her, I was never as keen about that bit). Far enough away so it was all my own work - close enough to help if I got stuck.  In fact she taught all of her children to cook - some of my brothers went through a multi- coloured phase - something we are all grateful for.

So this is my thank you to you Mum.   Without your help, guidence and support I would not be able to cook, sew or quite frankly just be ME.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

10th Essex and a Kentish Village - Military Odyssey 2012

Saturday 25th August, the beginning of the bank holiday weekend.  This was the day we decided to brave the weather and go to Military Odyssey at the county showground.      https://www.military-odyssey.com/index.php?ix=1&iw=251&iz=0

The view of the car park as we arrived, a bit wetter than we hoped but if you wait for good weather in England . . . .

Despite the rain there was still a queue at the gate, but as we had learnt from last year and arrived late it didn't take too long to get in.

We were a bit disappointed with the lack of traders as we had  money to burn.  The number of traders has been in decline for several years.  I do not think my favourite fabric stand was there (but I had got a lot of linen from him last year - so  much he gave me a free silk bag).  I did get a very interesting book called SWEET MEMORIES a selection of confections and their historys.  http://www.museumofbrands.com/index.html

We made our way up to where the 10th Essex were camped (re-enactors of the Great War) to meet a friend.  This meant that we were used as guinea pigs to test this years experience.  Previous years they had re-constructed the trenches and field hospital and I would have been more that happy to walk through it again.  But this year they had built a mine under enemy lines.  If they wanted a good guinea pig they had one - scared of the dark and accident prone who better to take down a really dark tunnel.  I think it is important that we remember what our ancestors went through in the past to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today and little snippets of time and space like this bring it home.  We did the tunnel tour twice because we came back for the whole experience beginning with the royal flying corps.  The trip through the mine was as good the second time.  

 For me the other piece of outstanding living history is the small village.  For the last two visits a seaside village showing the hardships faced during WW2 has been created.  This year the village was inland and showed the farming communities that kept our country going. 

With a crashed plane in the field  and girls from the land army helping to get the harvest in. 

The detailing is perfect.

 The village square, police station, fire station, church, public house and various houses and shops - the work put in by this amazing group of people is fantastic.

It is also the best place to get a cup of tea.  Forget about the food stands this is the place to be.

All in the details

Monday, 6 August 2012

Strange noises in the park

This morning, as on most mondays, my journey to work took me through Ellington Park.  This is the park where I spent many happy hours as a child and I have very fond memories of it even though it is not as well cared for as it used to be (spending cuts have to happen somewhere).

shoots bitten or pulled off the trees by squirrels
I often see some of the squirrels that have made the park their home which I enjoy even though they are grey squirrels.  In fact I can feel quite cross if dogs have chased all the squirrels up the trees and they are hard to spot.  I am very well aware of the damage these grey squirrels do and that because they were ripped from their homeland our native squirrels have suffered.  I took several pictures of the damage they were doing to the horse chestnut trees earlier this year.

Anyway as I entered the park this morning I couldn't see any dogs being walked  but I couldn't see any squirrels either.  Quite a few different species of bird around though - thrushes, blackbirds, etc.  Then I heard a really strange call I looked up and searched the trees to see if I could find the bird that made it and saw a squirrel.  I watched for a few moments and it was definitely the squirrel making the noise. There was a second squirrel in a tree nearby and to begin with I thought it was Territorial but as I walked towards the second tree I disturbed the large cat (domestic) that was lurking there.  That explained all the fussing, dogs a bit of a pain but when the squirrel has made to and up a tree it is safe. Cats are a different matter.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Needle felting - my new addiction

equipment and fleece
I made three resolutions at the beginning of the year. One of them was learning to needle felt.  I had no idea how much fun this would be, or how quickly quite reasonable creations could be made.  I am still a long way away from the works of art that I have seen on PINTEREST and in some of the ETSY shops but I am very happy with my progress so far.  I have found that felting half light is not a good idea - a double stabbed finger before I came to my senses and realised I couldn't see what I was doing.  I now have a useful little lap tray with magnifying lamp (purchased at the WAR AND PEACE SHOW of all places http://www.thehopfarm.co.uk/events/176/the-war-and-peace-show/) which makes things a lot easier.

seahorses and a heart
So far I have discovered that although you can get fleece from Hobbycraft (my only local craft shop) it is rather coarse in texture.  I much prefer the feel of the fleece I brought years ago from READERS UNION book club.  I have been looking on line and have found a couple of firms. http://www.worldofwool.co.uk/index.php 
There is a good range of colours at a reasonable price.
A more general range with lots of pre-formed pieces.

I have also discovered  that the brush type needle felting mat, although expensive, does make a lot of the work easier. 
Since I shared my first attempts with you I have made purses, seahorses (lots of seahorses), a couple of little GREEN ALIEN bag charms and a vintage looking bag charm of a COUPLE OF CHERRIES WITH LEAVES.  I have begun to list my creations onto my new shop http://www.creativestores.co.uk/DREAMTIMEMAKES/Green-needle-felted-coin-purse.html

needle felt cherries

little green winged alien

This piece with seahorses is a work in progress.  Having created the design I am embroidering highlights.

  It is hard to say how much I am enjoying this craft and I hope that with practise I may become as talented as the people who inspired me on pinterest.