Sunday, 21 October 2018

Upcycling play equipment

I have been fascinated all summer by the afternoon TV programme Find it, fix it, flog it about upcycling stuff  as the presenters do the work themselves and often very cheaply.  I was taken with the idea of using spray paint on all sorts of surfaces (including plastic?) which I had previously thought was not possible and difficult.  So when we got our hands on some free but faded children's play equipment I thought this is worth a try out.

I brought a "rattle can"  for £4 in Wilco and had a go at an old scooter first which was faded red and yellow with odd stickers. I wrapped the wheels and handle bars in newspaper fastened with masking tape.  Three light goes at spraying later, leaving it to dry in the sun and it looked quite good. Should I have done the purple front "forks" on the front wheel?

I have some red and blue tape from husband's shed that can be added if grandchildren want to make "go faster stripes" later.

The swing will be a much bigger job but I feel much more confident.  Husband will welcome this as he thinks the pink is a bit out of synch with his sophisticated garden designs (Ha Ha).

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Chill Jam

This late summer sun and warm temperatures has been helping ripen the sweet peppers and chilies to a lovely red so I was able to gather the ingredients for chili jam.  Had to buy the garlic, golden sugar and red wine vinegar but rest from garden.
I rather over cooked it and the jam saucepan took a week to get the burn off the bottom.  Still, it is very sweet and spicy and goes lovely with omelettes.

My garlic was a complete disaster this year and I am determined to put some in this autumn and have a better spring crop next year.

Friday, 19 October 2018


There was a bang and then sudden silence.
"Was that you?" I called upstairs to husband who was on the computer. "Have you fallen?
I glanced out the front windows wondering why the flock of 30 odd hedge sparrows had stopped making their early morning noise at the bird feeder.  Here's why!!
The sparrow hawk either hit the front windows himself or frightened the sparrows into them (we often get bird strikes).  I rushed to get my digital camera and focus through the grubby window. (I have photo-shopped it to get a clearer picture from the dozen I rattled off).  It gave me an evil look (only 6 feet from the window) and stayed firmly on the body of the poor sparrow. 

 It only left when husband finally slopped out of the study and demanded loudly to know what I was going on about and opened the bedroom window above me.  Honestly,  he has hundreds of £s worth of special cameras and lenses up there and misses a golden opportunity for a special photo!

The rest of the flock of sparrows spent the day hiding in the thick hedge.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Upcycling rugby shirts for 2/3year olds

My son sent a box of grandson's 2/3 year old clothes for me to play with in my sewing room. Quite  a few rugby shirts like this.
He really loved this style and wore these shirts a lot so they were very washed out and some stains!
I choose two in slightly different red and blue strips and turned them into quite a large stuffed elephant. You can get quite a bit of material out of these shirts as they had long sleeves!

Pattern from the internet, stuffing is a mostly an old pillow innards and some left over batting for the trunk and feet.

I shall have to offer to do the same for the other son's two if they want to save memories.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018


We did a lot of museums while on holiday.

  • Folk (village life)
  • Railway - we expected steam but it turned out to be a "bus" driven by a diesel engine on a narrow gauge along the rocky coast and over the upper bog lands of Donegal.
  • Carpet making (actually the most interesting - hand knotted wool carpets that have been in palaces, luxury oceans liner, embassy and posh hotels in the 1920s to 1980s.)
  • Fishing - not a big thing but the volunteer was a scream and gave us the low down on the various deep sea fishing boats in the current harbour.
  • Workhouse, and next door, the rather beautifully appointed doctors house.
  • We went to a castle but ignored the baronial house and spent ages in the beautiful Victorian "walking" gardens and the walled veg garden. I would love one of those!
It is strange when you see bits of your life in a museum.  This was like my Dad's bike in the 1950/60s. He never learned to drive and cycled everywhere.

We also spent time talking to local makers and artisans.  A lovely old chap gave us a personal demo on his traditional weaving machine showing us a complex tweed design. Another chap showed us his complex modern enormous knitting machine where he designed his own knitted jumpers using locally sourced wool. We succumbed and brought a hard wearing traditional style donegal jumper each. We will not be treating them with reverence and keeping them in a drawer, they are designed to be worn and we will be using them in the cold weather.  Because after that purchase we can't afford to turn the heating on!

We visited a craft village near Donegal Town and although the art gallery and glass makers were nice we spent ages in the print shop with  a lovely lady who had an 150 year old printing machine that she uses everyday.  It was a fabulous machine. Real Victorian engineering.  Great work; it was simple and clear and lovely calligraphy style.  Trades as thepearinpaper.
Succumbed again - to a couple of cards!

We are home again now and real life is catching up with us plus its nearly half term and those grandchildren are being brought here (again).

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Housing crises in Ireland

You only have to be in Ireland/Eire for a few days to realize the housing crisis is the HOT topic. There has been no social housing built since the 2008 financial crash. There are still a few unfinished self build housing projects to be seen, a few years ago there were far more when we visited Galway area.  You don't see big estates being built just small developments of less than 30 houses around the small villages and towns.

We were chatting to someone in the very, very north of Ireland (next stop Greenland!) and asked a few questions about all the lovely detached houses on big plots scattered around the countryside.  He explained people thought they wanted that  country life style but now found the travelling to work could rack up hundreds of miles in a week.  Another lady we chatted to explained she moved to rural Donegal from Coventry in 1979 when land was cheap and she built a 5 bed house expecting her daughter to stay and raise a family. Daughter had no such intention and now she was stuck with a large house alone.  Add to the problems is the still recovering economy and horrendous public and private debt since the crash hit here so hard.

Still there is that Irish humour. Down this riverside walk in Donegal Town.....

There are dozens and dozens of fairy houses hidden in the trees.

No housing shortage for fairies then.......

Monday, 24 September 2018

Walking in Ireland

Visiting Ireland and trying to walk 4 to 5 miles a day. So far managed a beach walk - The beaches or "strands" as called in Ireland are vast and empty.
A mountain walk above the sea cliffs at Slieve League, Donegal,  where you know you have gone too far up if the rainbow is forming on the rain shower below you.
Total expenditure on 2 days entertainment - 6 euro for two coffees and 8 euro for a map. Don't think Irish tourism will get fat on us!  Resisting local crafters trying to sell me an Arran jumper for 150 euros  - the local port now gets regular visits from cruise ships so the prices are high!!

Upcycling play equipment

I have been fascinated all summer by the afternoon TV programme Find it, fix it, flog it about upcycling s tuff   as the presenters do the ...