Sunday, 10 July 2016

Shades of grey

How is it possible to have so many different shades of grey socks, and no pairs?
And this is just a selection... there are more.
Where do the blighters go??
We've a pile of sad single socks sitting on a window sill upstairs that just grows and grows until I accept defeat and bin them.
Do mysteriously vanishing socks drive you mad? Apparently there's some research showing Brits lose 1.3 million socks a month - and there's even a formula explaining why we keep losing them. Yes, really.
Do have a look at the article here - the last video clip is hilarious! And who doesn't need a bit of light relief at the moment?

Linking up with Photalife's My Sunday Photo.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The Skirrid - Sunday photo

This view of the Skirrid is my reward for getting to the top of the very steep hill near our house. And it's also a good excuse to stop and catch my breath. Love the row of pompom-like trees.

It's the early part of a three mile loop from home, and a well worn walk for me. Partly because I want to get fit, but mainly because I'm pretty much always in a better space by the time I get back. There's something soothing about the gentle monotony of walking. It helped me immeasurably when my husband was away. Now I go when my head's full and I can't think straight. More footsteps, more clarity. I've had some of my best ideas walking the loop - not that it'll be of much interest to anyone I'm sure, but today I thought of a good way to attach the front wheels to a cardboard tube tractor. Made me feel better!

And I'm a little less puffed now when I get to the top of that hill.

Linking up with Photalife's My Sunday Photo.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Make a unicorn - cardboard craft

I needed to come up with a project for a craft workshop at Puzzlewood, and unicorns just seemed like the obvious choice. If they were going to live anywhere, then this ancient woodland, with its twisted trees and walls of mossy rock, would have to be the place!

Anyway, our unicorn is less elusive, likes a bit of attention, and is based on the zebra from Make Your Own Zoo.

You'll need:
2 toilet paper tubes
Cereal box card
Scissors (with short blades)
Nail scissors or similar
Sheet of newspaper
sticky tape
PVA/craft glue

1. To make the legs, take one of the cardboard tubes and flatten it with your hand.

2. Cut along the creases, so you end up with two pieces of card.

3. Take one of the pieces and fold it firmly in half lengthways.

4. Cut along the crease again, then fold both of these pieces lengthways once more, pressing down firmly.

5. For the body, hold a ruler along the length of the other tube, and use a pencil to draw a 2cm line, about a cm in from one end. Still holding the ruler in place, do the same at the other end.
Then slide the ruler 3cm further round the tube and repeat the above, making sure your leg slots line up.

6. This step should be done by a grown-up or with adult supervision. Use the nail scissors to make a hole through a pencil line (keep the scissors closed, press down, and twist carefully from side to side) - then cut along the slot. Make sure it's wide enough for a leg piece and then cut the other slots.

7. Wiggle the scissors or something like the end of a spoon through the slots to open them up, then thread the leg pieces into place.

8. When the legs are level, fold them firmly inwards, making sure the crease is as close to the slots as possible. Turn over and check it stands steady - trim if the legs look too long, or your unicorn body is a bit wobbly.

9. Paint the body white - try not to overload with paint, so it dries more quickly. When it's not too wet, put on its side, to stop the legs drying in the splits position! If your cereal box card is more brown/grey than white, then paint part of this too (about 12cmx12cm). Leave to dry.

10. Our cereal box card was white, so we went straight ahead and drew a rounded head and neck shape (the head is tucked into the neck, making it easier to cut out.) I've drawn the horn on too, but to make the cutting part easier, you could leave this out and cut one separately. Just make sure your separate horn is a little longer than you want it to be, so the extra part can be stuck down behind the head with sticky tape.

Draw a short line up for the muzzle and a longer curved one to define the unicorn's head.

11. From the bottom of the neck to the top is about 6cm (2.5")
Below this draw a tab - the tab needs to be as long as the width of your body tube as it's going to slot in here. Curve the front part of the tab, so it stick out a bit, for the unicorn's chest.

12. Cut out the head shape - I've cut ears out, but if this is a bit fiddly, keep the shape simple and draw them on after. Draw and cut out a tail too - make it nice and full and extra wide at the top (about 2.5cm/1"), so it can slot into the body.

13. Use a black felt tip to draw on an eye and nostril. If you want, use a pencil to outline where you would like the mane to be.

14. Have fun painting a colourful mane and tail - we used some glitter paint for a bit of sparkle!

15. Cut a slot along the top of the body, so when you push the head into place, the neck is over the body, but you can see the chest. Scrunch up small pieces of newspaper and push them either side of the tab, to keep the head steady.

16.  Cut a small slot at the back of the body for the tail.

 You could always jazz up your unicorn with some extra glitter and sequins.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Puzzlewood - Sunday Photo

Puzzlewood near Coleford in Gloucestershire has got to be about the closest you can get to an enchanted forest. Weird wondrous rock formations covered in a thick fluffy coat of moss, with amazing twisted gnarly tree roots that seem to defy gravity, clinging onto almost nothing. All under a beautiful leafy canopy. It is a magical place - and obviously plenty of other people think so too, because it's already been used as a location in 6 feature films. The most recent was Star Wars!

Monday, 6 June 2016

A day at Hay

Standing in front of patient parents and kids, holding my cardboard tube aloft, I did wonder, just for a moment, what the blazes I was doing there. Only lasted seconds thankfully before the adrenalin kicked in, and we were off - making lions, giraffes, penguins, icebergs, birds in trees - back on familiar ground. Comfortable ground. In my sort of happy cardboard zone.

The workshops were in the Make and Take tent at the Hay Festival - a lovely bright, open space for kids to get crafty, draw or read books. And it's free - so, as you can imagine it's chocca during the Half Term week. Terribly Tall Terry was a huge hit and almost lost his legs a few times. I have the sweetest video of a little girl hugging him.

My husband and two of the kids came along for moral support which was lovely, and such a help with the car unloading and setting up all the zoo scenes - my daughter's getting really good at that.

I'd done a fair bit of prep for the workshops, because if I've learnt anything, it's that it's much better to keep things shifting along at a steady pace - no waiting for paint/glue to dry unless there's something else going on at the same time. Keep boredom at bay at all costs! The workshops never go the way I think they're going to go in my head, but that's okay... for a start, even though MYOZ is really aimed at primary school age kids, at a busy event like Hay, you can't really go about saying no to younger kids who want to join in. So, I try to pick projects that can be adapted for little ones.

The weather was cool enough when we started, but by lunchtime the tent was heating up and I was feeling it. Wished I'd worn something a little more summery. On the plus side, no problem getting paint and glue to dry! I did 4 sessions altogether, and although it's tiring being on your feet all that time, it's invigorating too, seeing what the children make, all so different, adding their own little touches. Love it when they start doing their own thing. That's what it's about really, getting their imagination going, getting creative.

The other encouraging thing for me was talking to people about the book - I haven't done that for a while and it's good to feel a bit more connected again. I am not the best at self-promotion, but this time I did try not to mumble or twiddle my thumbs, and I did get some lovely feedback and a few good ideas about promoting the book that I really should follow up. The problem is, I come home and lose a bit of that drive. Still, I have another workshop next weekend, so maybe it'll help give me a sharp shove in the right direction...

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Rainbow radio - Sunday photo

Some sunny afternoons a small rainbow magically appears on the back wall of the kitchen.
It travels along, eventually landing on the radio in the corner, and then vanishes.
Just as quickly as it came.

Linking up with Photalife's My Sunday Photo.