Monday, 17 October 2016

Paving the way

Back after another break.  More appointments,  I'm a bit sick of hospitals and doctors at the moment.   Just trying to get my pain medication right,  think I've found the right dose, so back to GP on Thursday to report a success.   Then in two weeks off to another hospital to see a consultant about my back, and to arrange more tests... oh the joys!  I'm not alone, a neighbour is also having a few health problems,  so we shared our moans, then exchanged funny stories about our cats, that cheered us both up.

I have new pics of The Railway Inn, with its fresh pavement.   It is just a piece of card from the back of a sketch pad,  it has been scored, then I used the paper creaser on my cutter.   Then it had a few coats of paint, oh before that I sealed it with some PVA.  The final touches with some leaves and pieces of grass. 

And here is a full size pic, the new pavement looks much better than the old one.   But I have had compliments about the 'stained' glass,  which is simply some glass paint. 

And the Farm Worker's cottages have a roof! Finally,  just gave up on the thatch,  well at least for now.  I used some spare wood I had, cut it to size,  then made some tiles with thick card.   The two cottages look so much better now.  Haven't completely given up on the thatch idea,  will have a practice, still got a few pieces of wood that are no use for anything.   I know now what I was doing wrong,  the clay was too thick,  and there is a new way of achieving the 'thatch' bit. 

The pavement also had a revamp.   I sanded it down,  and took a few tiny chunk out here and there, just to make it look worn.  Then, same as the pavement for the pub, I added some moss and a few dead leaves.  The walls have also been toned down, but my camera has unhelpfully brightened it all up! 

I picked up a couple of match pots,  just to add a few more colours to my palette. 

 Not felt like doing much lately,  I seemed to have lost interest in most things.  The art class has now finished, it was just a taster course,  but I did learn a few things.   I'm having a bash at a pen and ink drawing,  not sure it is my thing but I shall complete it.   Not much else in the way of art to show,  we didn't actually do much drawing,  just learning about techniques, textures and tones. 

I did order a new little building today,  hopefully it will be winging its way too me shortly.   It is another pub, but a timber framed tudor building, looking forward to getting stuck in.  Just doing these bits and bobs on the other houses has whetted my appetite to do more. 

Still practising the ukulele.  My fingers are now beginning to harden,  and I can make a few chord changes easily,  once I've got my fingers warmed up that is.   I'm trying to learn a few songs,  just with a few chords in them, nothing complicated.  I'm even doing some fingerpicking.  Not sure Harvey is appreciating my musical efforts.   Some sad news the other day, a friend had to have her dog put down, so sad,  he wasn't very well,  but he'd had a long and happy life.  She is now missing him terribly,  I know that feeling,  it is horrible.   I gave Harvey a cuddle,  he does like cuddles,  but he still tries to be a fusspot about his food.   I've got tough with him, so we have less fussy moments these days. 

Now off to do my diary entry.   Have a good week.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Fingerpicking and felting... ?

Evening,  yep been a while since the last blog,  I'm blaming this little beastie, which has occupied most of my time.  That, plus an art class,  oh and numerous hospital appointments. 

I am glad to say that I am improving on the uke,  I can now play around 6 chords,  and even manage to switched between them.  I'm now learning a few songs,  and some finger picking, which isn't as hard as I thought (yeah, famous last words!).   The fingertips are now starting to harden up, and the fingers are getting stronger, so far less dud chords.    The main thing is this, I am really enjoying myself,  and that is what counts.      I'm even rekindling the idea of getting a guitar,  which I really wanted when I was younger.  I'm saving up,  and we'll see what happens. 

An odd pic, it is of The Railway Inn.  I stripped off the old pavement,  for which I'd used the paper clay, and replaced it with card from a cereal box.   Then I had to start to paint it, then age it, which has taken 'ages'.    But it is now almost there, meant to take a new pic, but will do so tomorrow.

In fact the last few weeks have been taken up with stuff on all the houses, a bit of tweaking,  altering etc. 

Well if I thought that the pantiles were hard, what proved almost impossible was the thatch.  I went from clay, to actual thatch, and then to felt. I had almost got the real thatch, but kind of lost the plot when it came to the ridge.  So I studied the book by Bea Broadwood, and decided to go with the felt.   So off to get some felt,  then I made a lumpy bit at the edge of the roof, and then on went the felt,  all well stuck down, left the glue to dry...  

And it is taking shape!   It's had some paint,  I also used some clay to cover up the tatty gable end.   It all now just needs to be painted and finished off,  oh and the chimneys need to be fixed into place.    I also stripped back the pavement on this,  just sanded the old colour off, now I'm trying to get it to look like the colour of York stone. 

See it looks okay from the front.  The pavement will also be 'dressed', with some bits of grass, and a few leaves.   I do like these two cottages, they are playing a part in a story I'm writing. Yes, I'm writing!   I've even begun to watch the odd series, which I'd not managed for years.  I can't say my concentration is back,  you should see how tired I am after the two hour art class,  but good things are happening. 

The art class is fun,  it is just a taster course, we've covered pencil,  charcoal, plus pen and ink, along with shading, shape etc.   It has all been very useful.  The tutor is lovely,  so helpful and encouraging.  I wasn't a fan of charcoal, it is so immediate,  and also messy!  But I did enjoy the class, still got a charcoal piece of homework to complete.  This week it was pen and ink, again a new medium I'd never tried, but once it was explained, that it is mark making, not pattern making, then I began to 'get it'.    It is the last week this coming week,  us students are going to enjoy a last lunch in the cafe,  each week we keep getting tempted by the delicious smells.   We all contributed to their Macmillan coffee morning the other week, lots of lovely cakes to choose from.  They raised a few hundred pounds as well!

So while some stuff is going well, the health took a down turn.  I got my MRI results,  not good,  I didn't expect my spine to be that bad.  I knew I had one prolasped disc in my lower back, in fact I have two, one in my neck, along with a lot of bulging discs in both neck and lower back, hence all the pain.  There is a lot of wear and tear as well,  fortunately none of the dodgy discs are pressing on the spinal cord,  just on the nerves.   It was a depressing outcome, made worse by the hour and a half it took me to get there!   That was to travel around 16 miles!   It was all fine on the motorway, then I came off and ground to a halt.  I've no idea why they've not made the road wider to accommodate the heavy traffic, caused by the university, but they haven't, so you don't travel much faster than a snail. I wasn't the only patient caught up in the traffic, quite a few were,  I was lucky that I made it just in time.   So I've now been referred to a pain specialist,  I have to see what they recommend, but surgery doesn't seem to be an option, there's just too much damage.    Painwise it hasn't been too bad this week, just one or two bad days.   But that is only because I'm learning to pace myself a bit better.

Now I must finish watching Strictly and do my diary entry.  Have a great week.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

To uke or not to uke, that is the question...

A cottage is slowly emerging.  I agree that it has taken rather a long time, but that's because I have been a bit distracted,  and I shall reveal the new toy at the end.   The other reason is that it takes ages to paint this type of render,  it takes a few coats to get inbetween all the little stones.  Then you need to go back over the woodwork. So there is a bit of faffing, as I call it, a technical term you understand.  And as usual I've had appointments to go to, will this health stuff never end?   

Also the roof caused no end of problems.  I tried a few different methods,  before choosing the corrugated card strips.   I snipped inbetween each while they were still wet with the glue, so they settled down nicely.  Now I need to sort out how to do the finishing bits.    And not happy with the colour, so that needs work.   But at least some progress is being made. 

This is also a distraction.  If you have one then you will fully understand why it is impossible to sit and craft without interruption.   These are guaranteed to come and bother you the moment you sit down at your craft desk.   He's  been driving me potty all week.  He has decided he wants to eat the fishy Felix for the time being, but with the odd meaty sachet just to add some contrast.  Oh along with wanting pieces of my melton mowbray pie,  the bratwurst, and the cheese,  and the fresh chicken.  He thinks he is starved! 

So to my new toy...  a ukulele!   And why not?   Why you are asking, has she decided to buy a uke?    Well last Saturday I was watching the Travel Show on the BBC news programme.  They challenged one of the presenters to find a cheap night out in London, so she discovered a pub that has a ukulele night.  Her next challenge was to learn how to play a uke and join in.  She had two weeks,  and she did it.  Then I got it into my noggin that it would be nice to learn how to play a uke.  Not knowing how much they cost I had a look on the internet. I found one for just £16, with good reviews, all said it was fine for a beginner.  But I was still unsure, and I've not got money to fritter on whims.  Then I remembered my 'slummy' tin,  it is were I chuck my loose change, well some of it.  I'd been saving for a while, in fact I'd been meaning to take to the coinstar machine. Anyways, I counted it, and I had twenty quid,  so off to Argos I did go and got myself a uke.  I also purchased an electronic tuner, which has proved a Godsend, well how was I going to now how a C string should sound?   Actually there is an app, yep, an ukulele app tuner, but it wasn't as accurate as the dedicated tuner, which cost me the enormous sum of: a fiver.   So all week I've been practising.  On the first day it was all I could do to play one chord,  let alone change chords!   But now I can actually play four chords, and change between three of them, one is a bit more tricky, but I'm getting there.  So now I'm getting used to strumming patterns, and changing between two chords.   I wish to state that I am a TOTAL beginner,  never played a stringed instrument in my life.  But I am really enjoying myself, and I am making progress.  Harvey does give me strange looks, but at least he hasn't felt the urge to join in - yet.   If I do keep it up and, more importantly, actually learn to play it properly, then I'll get a better quality model.  But for the time being this little uke will do fine.   Tell me, what did we all do before YouTube?    I've found some really good tutorials on it, plus some free PDF files of chords.  Yes proper lessons would be nice, but they cost money.  

On Monday I had my first intensive counselling session.   No I didn't come away wrecked,  but it was a full on assessment that took nearly two hours, so I was a bit drained.  Monday was also the day when I went to buy my uke, a treat is a good thing after counselling, or so I've been told.  Not sure if it involves buying a musical instrument.   But I do love music, always have,  I watched the Last Night of the Proms last night,  and I've watched a few others from the Proms this year.   Last night was a bit emotional,  mum and I would always watch it together, she loved classical music.   My favourite symphony is The Planets, by Dvorak,  and yes, you will have heard bits of it on adverts.  Actually I must dig it out and have a listen. 

As for this week, well tomorrow I have to deal with some admin stuff first thing,  my housing association says I owe them rent, and I don't,  good thing I keep a record of all transactions!  Actually this rent thing isn't anything to do with me, just the slow pace of officialdom.  Even so, it is still worrying, and not good for my anxiety.  And also another counselling session, something enjoyable to look forward to at the end of the week is my art class. 

No idea when I'll be blogging again, depends on my back,  and the distractions...   Have a good week.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Pantile heaven

Well after much gnashing of teeth, chewing of nails...  I solved my pantile problem!  The book said you could also use corrugated cardboard, but where to get some?  Yep I could have bought some online, but none of it was really the right size...  So after one fruitless trip to Hobbycraft, I had a look at their website and it said they did have corrugated card.  Back I went,  this time I stuck to the children's section,  lovely stuff,  and finally, finally... I found what I wanted!  And not only that but it was cut into strips at the perfect size, oh joy of joys.   Nearly skipped out of there, well I would have had my back not been so sore.  I drove home, no did not go like the clappers, was sensible...

This is one of my first attempts.  For this I used the air dried paper clay,  just too messy and way too fiddly, which is why I didn't continue with this method.  The tin foil didn't work very well either

And this is the corrugated card.  So much better, and it will look the part once it is painted.

I put down one whole strip, meaning with the backing in place, then I took the backing off for the next few strips.  The pantiles are meant to nestle together.   I got this small roof finished,  then the tummy began rumbling and I realised it was time for some food. 

I've started work on the larger roof, so should have the lot done by tomorrow.   Can't tell you what a relief it is, I nearly gave up. 

These corrugated card strips are part of a kit,  they are for children. the pack doesn't say what age they'd be suitable for.   You glue the strips together and make an animal,  you get a few other bits to make the animal, eyes etc.  And the best bit, it only costs £3.   But I think they'd be great for any crafter, especially if you do mixed media. 

Today has not been a good day.  I've overdone it this week,  and yesterday my back decided to tell me that I needed to have a rest!   I didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night,  and when I woke up this morning I could barely move.   I had a hospital appointment, needed an ultra sound,  and that meant I couldn't eat for six hours before it.  Now that put me in a dilemma,  I need to take ibuprofen when my back is this bad, and I have to eat something in order to take the stuff.   I also knew that I could not go six hours without taking ibuprofen.   Since my appointment wasn't till late in the afternoon I gave it an hour to see if my back would calm down.  It didn't, so I had to cancel,  they weren't very happy,  I did explain and then they were sympathetic.   There was another problem with the appointment, it was a 40 minute drive,  a bit too far with a very sore back.    When I say 'sore' what I mean is a sharp pain going down both legs,  back in spasm, so any movement is very painful, plus this horrid tingly feeling from the waist down.    

I'm fed up of hospitals,  never asked for the scan,  I even queried if I really needed it. The doc half agreed with me that the slightly high reading in one test could be down to the painkillers.   I'm not daft about the dosage, some folk are frankly stupid and are very lucky that they don't overdose on co-codamol.  No idea when I'll get another appointment,  the receptionist said it would be October.  I hope she can arrange it at a hospital a little closer to home.   Yes I know the doctors are having a series of strikes, but the ultra sound isn't performed by a doctor,  and I also hope that the government will see sense and start talking.  I was getting angry last night with Sky, who seemed intent on misreporting the facts of the reasons behind the strike,  a lot of it has to do with how this 'seven day' a week NHS will be funded, and the government are rather quiet on that.   I can tell you, from experience, that no-one in the NHS wants to strike,  I had to once when I was in the ambulance service.   It was the hardest thing I'd ever done,  and our strike was local and nothing to do with pay, but rather we wanted decent equipment, and to stop two of our colleagues being unfairly sacked.  We got pushed into a corner and so we had no choice but to strike,  but we all remained at work, and we were ready to attend any emergency if asked.  No doubt the government will try, in fact they already are, to demonise the junior doctors, don't let them, it is this government who are in the wrong.  The NHS is not safe in its hands, and it never will be. 

I'll get off my soap box.   Need to as Harvey is looking at me in the hope that I'll feed him!   Fat chance, he was fed an hour ago.  Instead I'm off to fill in my diary,   and hope that there is still a place on the mosaic taster course.  Have a good weekend.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

A spaghetti roof...

What a week,  funny how you wait for ages for appointments, then like buses, they all seem to arrive at once.   I've also been trying to cancel an appointment without much success. Tried to cancel on the referral booking site, no joy, keeps telling me that the appointment is in the past, tried phoning but I'm not going to hang on in a queue and build up a large phone bill.  So not sure what to do. 

Like the pick,  I just felt like being arty!   I've been busy with Snowdrop Cottage,  and managing to scatter the gravel everywhere.  Thank goodness for the handheld vac, what a godsend it is.  I had to keep on giving the desk a bit of a sweep with a large paintbrush.   The exterior is now done,  so the focus in now on the roof, more of that in a mo! 

The side view,  just have to fill in those teeny tiny spaces on the blue bit...   must be mad.  Not sure how I got the lumpy bit,  though it has now been removed. 

I'm liking my blue,  it was a mix of a cobalt blue and some white.  I wanted a fresh colour for the cottage,  normally I age them, but I'm not sure I will this time. 

So what of the roof...  well:

Take some mdf, and then add spaghetti!    This will, I hope,  look like pantiles.   So far it has been very fiddly, and a bit hit and miss. 

The first stage wasn't too bad,  had to fix the spaghettie onto the roof.  I used some DST (double sided tape), then positioned them evenly.

Next, well there were two options.   I could use the air dried clay, or tin foil.    I opted to use the clay.  I rolled out a piece as thinly as I could, then cut it into strips.  Next I laid it onto the spaghetti, and continued with the next strip. 

But I wasn't happy, it didn't look right, the tiles looked too big for the size of the roof.  So stripped it off and decided to go with the tin foil version.

Which is this.  No, I don't like it either.   I'd been fiddling with it all afternoon, so I took a break and had something to eat.  Then I read my book of instructions,  oops, I'd missed a bit out!  I needed to use some PVA glue along with the DST.   Which I shall do tomorrow. 

As I said at the start, this week has been busy.  I had to make my appointment for the MRI, and got a shock when I was told that there was an appointment for Saturday (yesterday),  I grabbed it, better than waiting.  Next came my appointment for the counselling, this is for the more intensive counselling,  so that starts on 5th September.  After that it was the letter for the follow up to the MRI, at the beginning of October.  Blimey, it is all go!  

So yesterday I had an early start, had to be at the hospital for 9.15, and the hospital in question is  40 minute drive away, and that is on a good day.   I allowed a bit of time for delays and arrived at 9 a.m.,  no receptionist, so took a seat.  There was a couple waiting, they said that the staff were coming in and out of the waiting room to check.  At about 9.15 the radiographer came through,  and I went into another waiting room.  I had to take off all my jewellry and any other metal bits.   Then it was into the donut, okay, MRI machine.   I'd forgotten how noisy the darn things are, but in spite of the noise I still fell asleep!    I had to have an MRI on my neck and lower back, so had to go through twice.  But it was all done and dusted just after 10, and I could go home.  I went to the very big supermarket near the hospital for some necessary bits, then with my back protesting I drove home.  Odd thing happened, in the afternoon my wonky knee, the metal one,  became very puffy and warm,  it became hard to bend it.  I had told the radiographer about my knee replacement.  I wasn't sure what to do, to give them a call or wait and see what would happen.  I had visions of my metal knee slowly melting!    It didn't, and today it has been fine,  sadly my back isn't, it is still very painful.   I've had a few sleepless nights lately because of the pain.   So now I have to wait for the results.  And on Friday I have another scan,  this time on my liver.   Someone said to be once that if the medical profession get their hooks into you they never let go, I'm beginning to think there is some truth in that.    I'm still very tired, doesn't matter how much sleep I get I still wake up tired.  This morning me and Harvey had a lazy start to the day,  I woke up at about 7 a.m., but felt that was too early for a Sunday, so I had some tea and toast,  more painkillers and went back to sleep...  I woke up to the dulcet sounds of Harvey's yowling at 9 a.m.,  he wanted to go out for his walk!   He is a cat, but insists on having a morning walk, not with me, he just goes off on his own and checks the neighbourhood. 

I also had a humungus pile of ironing,  hate ironing.  So got the stool, put up the ironing board, switched on the telly and set to.   Wasn't as bad as I thought,  lots of T shirts to get through, and some sheets.  I did break for a cup of coffee, and gave Harvey his treat.   I've also been collecting feathers for him,  a few tied to a piece of string keeps him amused for hours. 

So tomorrow it is the pantiles part three, or that could be part four...   whichever it is, tomorrow is going to be a lazy day.  Oh of course, it is a bank holiday!   Sorry for us retired types those things now pass me by.

Will report back on the pantiles... 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Must be Monday...

Welcome to Snowdrop cottage!  As you can see I've been busy, wallpaper is up, flooring done, even got the door fitted.   Yes the top floor is also in good order,  as is the annexe. Just needs some furniture, maybe a few pictures on the wall?

It is easy to get carried away with these little houses,  they are so well designed, and very accurately cut. I went for floorboards for the ground floor,  not made those for a while.  And I used some canvas paper for the ceiling,  just gives a bit of texture.

Upstairs I decided to put use floor tiles.  I made the 'tiles' using Craft Artist Pro,  a bit fiddly but worth the effort.   I do need to put in another door upstairs. 

I also got round to the front.  The quions are on, those things on the sides, windows are in, and next up came the pebble dash.   Yep, it all has to be pebble dashed, but it is pretty easy,  just need to use plenty of pva glue, and not be tempted to tip off the excess too soon. 

First bits done, well half done.  Sadly the cat required feeding.   Harvey is in fusspot mode,  it usually lasts a week, then he goes back to being happy.   So I got him some fishy packs of food, they usually help the fussiness.  Had to go to a different supermarket, and it was tipping down with rain.  The things we do for our furry friends.  

And the Olympics is over,   have to wait for the ParaOlympics,  which sadly is going to be hit by some financial cuts. 

Not sure if I am going to have time for the cottage tomorrow, got a few things to do.  Just hope the heatwave doesn't get this far,  me and Harvey can't cope. 

All for now folks,  thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

A golden fortnight

Wow, how amazing is Team GB?   25 Gold medals!    I'm exhausted by it all.   I've watched some of the early morning stuff,  occasionally it pays to have insomnia!  It is sad to see that so many events have been poorly attended,  and now it looks like the Paralympics will be badly affected by lack of money because the organisers have dipped into the paralympian fund.

In the meantime, between Olympic stuff,  I carried on with my pansy.  It is slowly coming to life.  I'm starting to add the darker shade of purple to achieve some depth.   I'll keep at it.  I saw a lovely photo of a badger which I must draw. 

I have been missing my housebuilding, so I caved in and bought Snowdrop Cottage, isn't it adorable!   It arrived today, was so happy to see the A5 padded envelope waiting for me when I returned from the papershop.   I couldn't wait to get started.   I've done all the prep work, and got some of the wallpapering and flooring done, but now need to print off more wall paper.   I've also got to put in a little garden, looking forward to that bit.

I didn't feel guilty about being indoors,  the weather today has been terrible.  So windy, and also raining, Harvey is unamused.  

He thought he'd look at things from a different perspective, sadly it didn't alter the weather!  But he did get a treat, some fresh chicken, which he loves.  I now have to make sure that there is enough chicken for me and him.  The things us cat owners do!    He's been a bit under the weather lately,  he's not liking his new cat neighbours, one is a bit of a bully, but he got his comeuppance the other day, picked on the wrong cat, not Harvey, but the big moggy! 

Yes this is amusing, but it also has a point.  I'm an introvert.  I'll speak more on this in each blog.  But please don't confuse introvertism with being shy or anti social,  us introverts sime like peace and quiet, and we need lots of it.   When I first read about being an introvert, I realised that I was reading about myself and my life.  It was such a relief,  my family always accused me of being anti social because I didn't much like parties,  though I would go, and in my own way I'd enjoy myself.  However my way was to sit and watch,  I was completely happy, but others decided that just sitting and watching was boring, and how could I possibly be enjoying myself,  I should get up and make an idiot of myself, or go chat to folk I didn't even know (or like).   Equally I knew when I was tired and needed to go home, but you can't ever leave a party early...   grrrr.  You can, and it doesn't mean that you are a miserable sod,  it simply means that you are tired and need to recharge your batteries.    More on this....

It's been a busy week, sadly some of the time was taken up with a bit of a crisis, not of my doing, and which was finally sorted out by a lovely lady who knew what she was doing.  So I spent the first half of the week totally stressed and very, very anxious.  Then on Thursday it was off to yet another hospital for an assessment on my dodgy back.  The verdict wasn't good,  in fact I was a bit surprised when I was told that I had damage to more than one disc.  I now need to have an MRI,  that will show how bad things are, not sure I want to know.  But my back really is bad,  on Monday I just turned and suddenly my back went into spasm,  I was in agony for the next two days until the spasm eased.  And today I've had a horrible dull ache in my lower back,  with some pins and needles, plus a loss of power, that is the only way I can describe it.   

Only one more day of the Olympics to do,  can Mo Farah get his second gold, I hope so, and I loved the hockey last night, what a match.   I hated hockey at school,   I never fancied getting hit by that very hard ball!   I preferred netball, or volleyball, and I wasn't bad at athletics,  fairly good at long jump, but I was a water baby, swam for the school team!  And I wasn't bad at tennis.  Think I've just realised why I have so many aches and pains, all those sports. 

Almost time for a well earned cuppa,  then I need to get Harvey to come in.  It would be good if it started raining now, that would bring him running home.   Will be back soon with an update on Snowdrop cottage, and the pansy.