First Night Design | New! The Easter Hat Box #VintageArt

I first connected with my multi~talented friend Sarah Vernon through WordPress, where we followed each other’s blogs.

When she moved to the Isle of Wight we discovered that her new home was in the same lane as our dentist’s surgery, so ~ after one of my dreaded appointments ~ I popped in to welcome her to the island.
From the minute I laid eyes on her lovely smiling face I felt as though I’d always known her and ~ as we nattered ten to the dozen ~ we discovered that we have many things in common. Since then our friendship has grown through social media, where we express similar opinions, support the same causes and share a wicked sense of black humour!

Bembridge, where Sarah lives, is fourteen Isle of Wight miles from our house ~ which is practically the dark side of the moon in island terms ~ but we’re planning to meet up again after Easter, when another dental appointment looms. I’m really looking forward to seeing my fab friend in person again. The hygienist, not so much!

Anyway I’m delighted to introduce Sarah to you, so that you can visit her amazing site ~ which includes links to on~line stores and galleries, where you can purchase her beautiful, contemporary designs in a variety of formats ~ and get to know all about her too.



First Night Design

The Easter Hat Box Greeting Card © Sarah Vernon at Redbubble

This is an original vintage colour lithograph by Frank A. Nankwell used for a Puck periodical cover in 1899 (April 5) from The Library of Congress and copyrighted by Keppler & Schwarzman. Easter has never looked so attractive!

Please note that Zazzle is taking a long time for this design to show in search results.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfilment centres in 5 countries]

Take care and keep laughing!


View original post


WIP Wednesday 2

Martin’s Progress 1

Whilst I’ve been inspired to regenerate this blog and have started another crochet project, Martin has been experiencing a bit of a creative renaissance as well.

After spending the last few years focusing solely on digital artwork, he has recently taken up more traditional painting again ~ though, being Martin, he has put his own  unique spin on it!

Here are some of his current Works in Progress, using acrylics, which at one time was his favourite medium, and oils, which he has never tried before. :

Although his digital work is amazing, it’s lovely to see him with a paintbrush in his hand again!


Waking Up in Narnia

Very early this morning, I’m not sure what time, I woke up needing to use the bathroom. Tottering along the landing half asleep, I noticed that the light filtering through the wndow at the top of the stairs was strangely glowing.

I peeked around the stained~glass panel that we’ve hung in front of it for privacy and discovered that the flowerpots and plants in the courtyard were covered with snow!

IMG_2781 3.jpg

Apologies to those of you living in parts of the world where snow in the winter is situation normal but, on this small island off the South Coast of England, it’s a once~in~a~childhood phenomena. Or rather it has been until this year ~ a sizeable amount fell a fornight ago, hanging around long enough for the neighbouring kids to build a snowman, which melted a couple of days later. But before that we hadn’t had a decent snowfall since 2010, when schools and businesses were closed for a week and everything ground to a halt. Despite sophisticated internet weather~forecasting, we’re just not set~up to deal with it.

So please bear with me and pardon my excitement that it’s happened again this decade!

When we stepped out for our daily dog walk – me fending off the wind~chill with two thermal vests and a teeshirt, leggins and jeans, an oversize man’s sweater, fleecy neck tube,  gloves, raincoat and a Nepalese hat – it felt like walking, (albeit somewhat clumsily with all that padding,) into a fairytale wonderland.

IMG_2807 2.jpgIMG_2800 2.jpgIMG_2805 2.jpg

Anyway, that’s enough of this freezing white stuff for now. Roll on Summer!



My Fab Friend Jules

When Martin and I decided to make our home on the Isle of Wight we discovered that it had a thriving and diverse Arts scene. Over the past fourteen years we’ve met ~ among others ~ talented authors, artists and illustrators, musicians, dancers, crafters and bloggers. I’d like to introduce you to some of these creative people, whom we’ve come to know well.

First in the spotlight is My Fab Friend Jules Marriner, children’s author and illustrator ~ who just happens to be one of my granddaughter’s favourite writers, (the other two being Roald Dahl and Jill Murphy.)


This photo was taken last November, when Grace came over from the mainland for her Surprise Birthday Treat ~ she had no idea that she was about to attend a workshop where she would meet Jules in person, until we arrived at Cowes Library, where it was being held. As you can tell from her expression, she was thrilled!

After reading out her latest story, about a fussy owl called Fidget, Jules helped the children make Christmas tree decorations from pine~cones, then chatted with them as she signed copies of her books. Grace is holding ‘Wally and Bert BFFs’, the only one of Jules’ quirky tales that she hadn’t yet read. She has now, of course, and she loves it!

My imaginative and creative friend is so talented and productive that I can’t possibly do her justice just by telling you all the amazing things she gets up to. So, with her permission, here’s an excerpt from her latest blog post, written earlier this month after the Isle of Wight experienced a rare few days of snow and ice:


As the post is on Jules’ own website, I wasn’t able to simply re~blog it and when I tried to cut and paste it, it just came out in plain text, without the colourful background and illustrated header. So I decided to take a screenshot and insert that instead. To read the rest of the post, which includes a pic of Jules’ adorable little chihuaha, Maisie, please click here: Jules Marriner Books.

Once you’ve done that you can download a free ebook and taster of another; visit her Etsy shop ~ from which she sells books, prints, mugs, cards and custom work, follow the link to her YouTube Channel  ~ and so much more. If you’d like to you can even support her on Patreon!


So now that you’ve met My Fab Friend Jules ~ pictured here at a local Wood Fair, where she ran story~telling sessions ~ I’ll leave you to browse her website and get to know more about her.

Have fun!


WIP Wednesday 1

IMG_2785 2.jpgHaving completed my tiny blanket for a teeny~tiny newborn, I decided I’d like to tackle something a little more substantial.

So here is my latest work~in~progress ~ a crochet ‘mandala’ blanket or throw.

At our Wednesday afternoon drop~in get~together Ursula, my very good friend and expert needlewoman, suggested that ~ if I make it big enough ~ I could fashion into a loose~fitting jacket or shrug. By her reckoning I’m about half~way there.

Another friend remarked that they’ll be able to see me coming when I’m wearing it, which made us all laugh.

In this jazzy colour scheme I reckon I’ll be visible from outer space!

I’ll let you know how I get on.


It’s OK not to be perfect

Nearly five years ago I suffered severe trauma to my neck and was subsequently diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. Since then I’ve found writing and craftwork less enjoyable ~ if I push myself too far I can end up with ferocious headaches and burning pains in my muscles and jonts for several days.

Nevertheless, by practising an (almost) daily Qi~gong routine to keep myself as supple as possible, I’ve managed to keep going to my fortnightly craft group, The Crafty Bees. Even though I haven’t been able to accomplish as much as I would like, the lively chatter and unbridled laughter have definitely helped to keep my spirits lifted. And when I’m taking a break from my own halting work~in~progress, I can always wander round and find out what interesting and unusual projects other members have brought along.

A few weeks before Christmas, inspired and mentored by my super~talented friend Chrissie, (who actually spins her own yarn, weaving and knitting it into a wide range of lovely items,) I began to crochet a small blanket to be sent to a hospital Neonatal Infant Care Unit. Once I’d got my head around the pattern it proved fairly easy but at first I couldn’t manage more than two or three rows at each meeting and ~ since it remained in my knitting bag until the next session ~ progress was pitifully slow.

I wasn’t all that happy with the way it was turning out. The pattern had to be closely worked, with no lacy detail that could trap tiny fingers, which made it very firm. And it had to be made in acrylic yarn, so that it can be machine washed. I didn’t like the way the colours in the variegated yarn that I’d chosen were panning out and, more than once, I felt like ripping it all out and not starting again.

My friends kept reassuring me that it was really pretty and that the hospital would be very grateful, which reminded me why I’d decided to do this in the first place. And, more importantly, for whom ~ fragile little beings who have arrived in this world too soon and who deserve to be surrounded by love and support, not resentment and complaining.

Once my attitude changed I found that I could work for longer periods without suffering too much. And instead of repeatedly moaning, ‘I’m not feeling it,’ I began to enjoy myself, like I used to when absorbed in one craft or another.

Today, as I finally finished the border and wove in the tails, I felt satisfied emnough with my efforts to write about them but hesitated to include a photo because it shows up mistakes, like the wobbly edges. I can probably pull it more into shape once it’s been washed and laid out flat to dry but this blanket will never be as perfect and the one that Chrissie made. I don’t think my Super-Needlewoman mother would be too impressed.

Oh Wow!! Now that thought has pulled me up short and given me much to ponder on. Actually she would probably tell me that it was absolutely fine ~ but would I beleive her? I mean, I don’t pay any heed to Martin when he says the same. Am I my own worst critic, sabotaging my own creative output? Hmm…I guess we all know the answer to that question!

OK, so my crocheting may not be technically correct but I don’t suppose that matters to the tiny recipients, as long as it keeps them warm and snuggly while they’re fighting to survive. So here, without apology for it’s glorious imperfections, is my premature baby blanket:






Happy Birthday Mum

Had she survived lung cancer fifteen years ago, it would have been my mother’s eighty~ninth birthday today.

Her fierce pride and controlling nature, combined with aching vulnerability ~ which she held in check until a few large glasses of what she called ‘tonic wine’ lowered her defences ~ had a negative effect on our relationship. Particularly when I was a tormented teenager, trying to figure out my own way through a confusing world.

But having had a girl~child of my own, I’ve experienced both sides of the complex mother/daughter dynamic and long ago came to terms with the volatile nature of my Mum’s personality.

When I was younger you’d often hear me say ‘I love my mother but…’

I just wished that she’d been different. I guess she may have felt the same way about me but about five years before her untimely death we made our peace and when she was admitted to hospital I stood up as fiercely for her rights as she would have done for mine.

Today, with age; wisdom, several sessions of counselling and a great deal of self~help under my belt, I’m happy to simply say, ‘I love my mother.’

And to know, without a shadow of doubt that ~ despite her human frailties ~ she loved me. ❤️