Oh hi!

Good grief but its a long time since I updated this isn’t it? I blame YouTube. You see for a while there I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole of watching craft podcasts, dozens and dozens of them until I started to think I would fancy doing that myself. So I did. For several months. It turns out its not my thing. I don’t really like seeing myself on screen and that is a problem with a YouTube podcast isn’t it? Really should have thought that through a bit more. So here I am, back to the blog and let me tell you the editing is much easier.

So what I’m planning on doing with this is sort of using it like my Instagram feed. I do really really like Instagram but I prefer typing on a keyboard and I generally have more things to say than my patience with thumb-typing allows. I think what I’d like to do is a weekend update of everything I’ve worked on that week and then maybe during the week I could share little bit here and there of all sorts of things.

Books · crafting · crochet · Dieting · embroidery · Etsy · Knitting · Shopping · wittering

New Year’s Resolutions

Yeah I know, they’re a bit tragic but I’m doing it anyway.

  1. Read at least 34 books this year.  Easy peasy, I’m on Goodreads so I’ve set myself a reading challenge.  Click here to see how I’m doing.  Right now I’m doing fantastically well, I have read no books yet this year and I’m apparently bang on target.
  2. Lose 20kgs.  Thought I’d chuck in the traditional fat bum challenge.  Though my bum isn’t actually that fat I have spotted a bit of thigh bulge today that has to be got rid of immediately if not sooner.  Then once I’ve lost 20kgs I’ll still want to lose another 10.  Then perhaps another 5.  We’ll see. I work for a law firm and the cakeage is immense and I loathe exercising so this one is a bit challenging. I also hate exercise clothes and seriously object to any heel lower than a kitten heel.  Keep thinking about taking up running but I also very much dislike outdoorsiness. And running.
  3. Do more embroidery.  I very rarely sew. Its the one thing I absolutely love doing and yet I hardly ever do it because I used to hand sew for a living and now I don’t and it may sound pathetic but its quite emotional for me and I’m a bit frightened I’ve lost all my skills. So much as I’ve amassed a huge quantity of yarn and patterns and stuff I’m going to scale back the knitting and crochet (except for snoods and Gin Poodles of course) and get back into embroidery.  I had a small test piece framed a few years ago and the framers asked me if I’d like to make more for them to sell.  So I might not be a complete ham-fisted duffer.
  4. Stop buying mass-produced junk.  You know that ‘make it, don’t buy it’ idea floating around at Christmas? Well I’m going to stop buying things from major chains and only buy handmade wherever possible.  I’ve had my last clothes shopping spree in 2016 so from now on I’m going to make my own clothes, at least they’ll fit properly and I won’t bump into anyone else wearing the same thing. I can try out embroidery on my own cuffs and that too can’t I? I’ve got a sewing machine up in the loft and I expect that is where it will stay because I don’t really like sewing machines.  Hand made clothes last longer because they’re better and every stitch is beautiful. I’m not expecting anyone else to agree or even see the simple beauty of a white cotton tacking stitch or go into ecstasy over a button hole, but your loss and all that.
  5. New Etsy shop. Once I’ve got my fingers back to being able to pick up with a needle a single thread in any fabric without looking I’ll be able to produce work worth selling. These are not going to sit well with super kitsch knitted poodle bottle cosies or even lovely vintage style hair accessories so they’ll need their own space.

Five resolutions are enough.

6. Oh but hang on. Food. Must stop eating things that make me ill, like fried things, fatty things, dairy, and eggs.  A doctor told me years ago that the odd sensation of my throat going all thick and gagging for hours after eating isn’t really normal and should be avoided. Spose he might have a point.

7. Bugger it I’ve thought of another.  I have a half brother somewhere.  Not even sure what his name is but I should find him in case he’s the head of membership of a major ballet company or something and can get me a hefty discount.


crafting · wittering

Pesky rip-off merchants

Here’s one for the designer-makers. Let me tell you a story I’m sure you’ll find familiar.

Once upon a time a creative person driven to the end of their tether by working in dullsville hits on the idea of selling things they’ve made online. The D-M has a marvellous time designing and making gorgeous things and would you believe it, people buy them. The feedback is all fabulous, it makes the D-M’s heart sing every time a sale comes through. If it’s all sounding a bit fairytale take heart that it’s not bringing in enough money to give up dullsville but it makes the D-M very happy and the second income comes in useful even if the tax return stuff is a bit scary.

Things go on like this for a few years and sometimes you sell to other D-Ms. Lovely to have the recognition of your peers and all that. Then you realise one of the other DMs you’ve sold to has miraculously started selling the same item as you, and you realise they bought your item purely to rip it off. Marvellous.  Its quite annoying but as you’re pretty small fry there isn’t really anything you can do about it, legal fees being what they are.

Then it happens again, and its starting to rankle.  You’ve put in all the effort and they’ve sat there watching your good reviews stack up and just thought ‘I’ll have some of that’. I’ve had it done to me in more than one country too.

You know the type, they’ve got some skill, they’ve learned some techniques but they have not one ounce of creativity.  Fine to be an assembler of products if that’s your thing, and its fine to resell but don’t make my thing your shoddy thing.  I can’t do anything constructive about it but I can stick pins up your nose.  Well, I can’t do that either but I can make a pig-faced voodoo doll pincushion and stick pins in that, and that will have to do.  You know what? It does make you feel better. You might not be able to kick the ugly sister out of your patch or turn them into a pumpkin but take heart in the daydream that you’re giving them nosebleeds.

So my latest item will be a voodoo pincushion called She’s No Good, aimed at designer-makers who have been ripped off by talentless trolls. I’ll even start you off with a few pins.

I did have an item ready to go but someone complained that it looked like someone they knew which was unfortunate as I’d drawn a smelly pig-snouted hag (with friends like that…) so I’m currently working on a new version of a smelly looking pig-snouted hag…


Things overheard

This is a conversation someone had at me a couple of weeks ago:

Her: You know he has his own theeaytur company don’t you?

Me: No. [cringing at theeaytur for theatre]

Her: Oh yeah he’s always on at me to audition for it.

Me: Oh right.

Her: Oh yes he’s put on a lot of musical productions, he’s really into The Arts. You know the Steps?

Me: Ummm…? [does she mean 39 Steps?]

Her: You know that band Steps’ film?

Me: No.

Her: [as if I’d emphatically agreed] He was in that, in the backing, you know background for the um, man. You know the man in Steps? Him.

Me: He’s not into art really then?

Her: I’ll show you some pictures later.


crafting · crochet · Etsy · Knitting · wittering

Discipline in crafting

What do all us crafters have in common? I suspect most of us are doing this anyway, I have literally 54 projects on the go, I’ve counted them and it was a bit of a shocker, its why I never get anything done.

I’ve decided a bit of discipline is needed so I’ve been finishing things one project at a time.  No really, I have. Instead of doing whatever takes my fancy I’ve actually seen things through to the end, including sewing up and pressing.  The only bit I’ve failed at is photographing and listing the finished items.

So just in the last fortnight I’ve finished making a baby cardigan, a 50’s style knitted hat, I’ve crocheted a collar and today finished beading a bracelet.  I’m really impressed with my self-control.  While I’m blowing my own trumpet I’m going to throw in the fact that I’ve completely cleared all the ironing. It was hours and hours of work but I got it in before the energy company price hikes at least.

I made a list of all the projects I’ve yet to finish and as I finish the ones I enjoy the rejoin the list again at the bottom. Some things are just getting crossed off – like Dorset buttons.  I made a few but decided I didn’t like them so I’m giving up on Dorset buttons.

Next on the list is ‘drawing’ this isn’t really something you can complete though is it?  I put it on the list because I have lots of embroidery plans but its no good having ideas in your head, you have to get them on paper before you can get them on linen and I have limited skills with a pencil.  Its something you need to practice regularly isn’t it, like flexing a muscle.  I’m not going to be able to make a start on my embroidery ambitions until I can brush up my drawing skills.

My poor handbag now has another item to lug around and goodness knows there’s enough stuff being carted around in there every day as it is but I think I probably need to draw or at least doodle something every day to get on track. So to add to the notebook I carry in case I have a good idea about something now I have a little sketch pad. I really want to pick up a needle and all those gorgeous de Havilland embroidery threads I bought at last year’s Knitting and Stitching Show and get going, but I want to create something special, a high quality individual piece and if I don’t do the ground work I won’t achieve that will I?


If he turned back

I don’t know about you, but I like a secret. Nothing dramatic, just a little something just for me.  Silly things that I wouldn’t care if anyone found out about but the fact of doing them sneakily makes them fun.

Mostly I do this stuff when my boyfriend goes out. He’s really easy going, its not like he would mind me doing any of this stuff, its all harmless anyway.

So here are my favourite things that he would catch me doing if he turned back:

1. Chocolate biscuits and black coffee.  Just a couple but they taste even better on the sly.

2. Plucking. I’m a demon with the tweezers, someone should really take them off me.

3. My roots, again STEP AWAY FROM THE DYE TANIS. I should just go to the hairdresser and get it done properly but the thrill of gambling with ending up looking like the incredible hulk is slightly addictive.

4. QVC – the soundtrack to my life.

5. Watching old black and white films. I love the glamour and the stories are so much better. Not so keen on colour and I never watch old films that don’t have women in because its the clothes, hair and make-up I’m really interested in.

6. Playing Bingo Blitz on Facebook. I am a secret grannie.

7. Ironing, I know its weird but I quite like ironing, its the smell mainly but also I like to do it when I’m alone so no-one can tell me not to bother ironing pants.


goodbye train slobs

This week is my final week (fingers crossed) of commuting by train because I get my car on Saturday.


Knowing I’m not going to have to put up with them for much longer is making putting up with the slobs that sniff and hawk, the swines that try to dig their elbows into you, the cowards that try to take up all the space so you have to sit like a contortionist and the filthy gogs that put their dirty shoes on the seats even harder to bear. I’m dying to tell them what I think but I don’t really want to get stabbed….


I’m also wishing I could rescue the nice people, there are two really nice girls that do the same journey as me, if I didn’t hate company so much I’d offer them a lift in with me as from next week. I’m sure they’ll be alright. tempted to give them each a card in case of train delay emergencies though!

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


Writer’s Block: It’s the first day of winter

I cannot say I love winter, if the fateful day ever comes that I scoop a massive lottery win, the top item on my list of things to do is 'Never see winter again'. 

Having said that, summer though lovely is a wardrobe nightmare for me as I don't suit short sleeved things or floaty things so winter is my third-best opportunity to be dressed for the season – spring and autumn are my best bets – I like boots, cardigans, big snuggly scarves and all manner of hats are very dear to me. 

I very much like having the heating on and being all toasty indoors, I have grown into being very much a stay at home woman in stark contrast to my youth when all I ever seemed to do was either go out, plan a night out or get ready to go out. 

But best of all, surely, and the only thing that keeps you going when its grim outside is….. Baileys. Mmm-mmmn. Actually I don't have any in. Excuse me.

Opinions · wittering

South West Trains Complaint

Righteo here is my complaint to South West Trains after the shockingly bad experience I had with them last week. To be fair the staff at Fleet station are always lovely, but Guildford has a massive staff attitude problem, you never walk away from there smiling. Please excuse the odd way its written, I did it in the style we use at work for statements because it helps you think things out clearly, but with the downside that it makes you look a bit officious. Oh and its reeeeally long.

1.              On either the 5th or the 6th December I travelled from Fleet to Guildford on the 7:40 train using a one-month season ticket as usual.  On arriving at Guildford I approached the ticket office where an individual 'mobile' member of ticket staff was working alongside the counter staff.  When it was my turn it was this mobile ticketing staff member that served me.  I handed him my season ticket and photocard (both inside a wallet) and said asked him for a one week renewal, he pointed out that my current ticket was a monthly and I replied that yes, usually I buy monthly tickets but with Christmas coming up I'd like a weekly ticket.  He issued my ticket and I paid using my credit card.  I did not realise at this point that the ticket had been issued with the wrong start date.  My previous ticket's last day was 6th December and the new ticket had been issued with a start date of 6th December.  A very simple mistake to make and I had simply assumed that the ticket had been issued correctly.
2.              On the 7th December when I first used my new seven-day season ticket it would not work on the barriers in the morning at Guildford.  There are no ticket barriers at Fleet.  In the evening for my return journey (the day of the fatality at New Maldon when SWT were unable to get me home and I had to take a taxi from Farnborough to Fleet at a cost of £10 and arriving home an hour and a half late) the same thing happened so on the morning of the 8th December I took my ticket back to Guildford ticket office and explained that it didn't work in the barriers and asked them to exchange it for me which they were happy to do.  It was only when I got to my office that I realised that the ticket had the wrong start date.  I thought the mistake had been made when the ticket was reissued.  I did not have time to stop at the ticket office that evening, the queue was too long on Friday 9th and I was busy over the weekend so was unable to attend Fleet station on either Saturday or Sunday. 
3.       This morning, Monday 12th December, the day my wrongly issued ticket will expire I attended Fleet station especially early to deal with the reissue of my ticket.  The ticketing staff member Lyn was friendly and pleasant, as she unfailingly is, but said she was unable to help me, I'd have to take the ticket back to Guildford as it was 'their ticket stock'. 
4.       At approximately 8:25 in Guildford ticket office I was firstly seen by the ticket office staff member at counter five.  I regret I did not make a note of her name.  I explained the issue and passed both my current and previous season tickets to her.  She asked me on which day I'd obtained the replacement, at that moment I couldn’t remember the date but said it would be on the ticket.  She repeated the question and I apologised for not being able to remember the date but said the date would be on the ticket (in her hand).  I was then told to move away from the counter so that she could serve other people while a colleague searched through the tickets, I declined saying I'd rather stay at the counter whilst they dealt with my transaction.  She discussed this with her colleague who agreed she could look through the bundles of replacement tickets while I waited.  This being done and the original 7-day ticket having been found she passed my 7 day season ticket back to me saying the start date on the original was wrong too so I had paid for and received a 7-day season ticket and that there was nothing she could do.  I said I didn't think that was right, the start date was clearly wrong.  She said it was not possible to reissue a 7 day ticket with a different start date and then passed the tickets back to me and said she wanted to serve the next customer.
5.       I asked to speak to the station manager, she said I could speak to her colleague at counter four who was her supervisor.  I waited until he was free and explained the situation again to him.  I took a note of his name and position – Stan Boardman, Shift Supervisor (but only after several minutes of increasingly rude and unprofessional behaviour).  Mr Boardman first pointed out that the ticket had not been issued at the counter, I pointed out that in the same way as today there were ticket staff both in front of and behind the counter.  He then said I could not prove that I had shown the monthly ticket to ticket staff at the time of purchase, he said it happens a lot that people ask for a refund but cannot prove the issue date is incorrect.  I pointed out that the ticket and photocard are displayed side by side in the holder (I have several expired tickets in this holder which shows it is my habit to keep them together in there and not remove them when renewing).  He then said I could not prove that I had not taken the ticket out of the holder when showing my photocard to the ticketing staff. 
6.       It is very much my belief to 'kill with kindness' when someone is rude or unhelpful I never stoop to their level, though maddeningly frustrating, it never helps to stoop to their level and I hope that by staying reasonable and polite the other person will revert to the same stance.
7.       He did admit several times that a mistake had been made by South West Trains staff but stressed that the mistake had not been his (I confirmed this and said that if I say 'you' I mean 'South West Trains').  But he then stated that it was in fact my fault for then using the ticket in the barrier in Guildford seconds after my purchase.  He said at that point of use it was no longer possible for the mistake to be rectified "the same as at Sainsbury's."
8.       I again said I wasn't happy to pay twice for one day's travel, he said he couldn't give me a refund as I'd 'used six days' I restated that I didn't want a refund, just a replacement ticket that gave me the travel dates I'd paid for and that it cannot be right that if the ticket office staff make a simple mistake that it cannot be rectified unless the customer notices it immediately.  I believe it was at this point that he mimed a pantomime-style yawn.  I said I didn't think that was helpful. He said he'd yawn if he liked. 
9.       He then said the Terms and Conditions on the back of my ticket state that mistakes cannot be rectified once you walk away from the counter, I said I don't think the Ts&Cs are printed on the back of the ticket, he told me to go and check on the internet, but then offered to show them to me. I accepted this offer, he would not show me the printout but read out something to the effect that mistakes must be notified as soon as possible.  I said that's clearly not the same as 'before you leave the counter' and that as my ticket was still valid there must be a way of rectifying it.
10.     I then asked if he could issue me a free return ticket for travel on 13 December (my 'missing' day).  I also pointed out that this service wasn't very good and that South West Trains had failed to get me home at all on Wednesday 5 December.  He said 'If you don't like the service don't use the train' at this point I must admit I was completely exasperated and said 'Well how else am I supposed to get to work?'.
11.     I then asked to see station manager he said the station manager would say the same thing, I said "Well lets allow him to do that for himself shall we?"  Mr Boardman then said "How old are you?" I replied "40" he said "You're behaving like a child, you're behaving like a 10 year old." to which I replied "That's really not the attitude is it?".  I swear that this accusation has no basis in fact, if you are to view CCTV footage you will see that I did not behave badly at all beyond raising my eyes and saying "unbelievable" when the staff were turned away from the counter.
12.     He then told me to wait by the ticket barriers to see the station manager, I declined saying I would rather the station manager came to ticket office.  He radioed the station manager, I didn't hear the conversation, but was told the station manager 'was in meeting' I asked when the meeting would end.  He hesitated for a few moments and then said 10 o'clock.  I said "is that what the station manager said?"  He said no, I asked him to radio the station manager again to ask.  He refused, said he could not interrupt the meeting.  I pointed out that the station manager was willing to accept the communication seconds before.  Mr Boardman  refused to contact the station manager again.  I asked if there was anyone else Mr Boardman said he was the deputy station manager (though his badge, as I pointed out said 'shift supervisor') and that there was no-one else.  He told me to contact 'customer services' if I wanted to complain, I asked if there was a complaints form, which he duly handed to me.  I asked him to write down his reasons for refusing to reissue my ticket (please see attached) but on reading this I found he had written about refusing a refund which is not the same thing at all. I then left the station.
13.     Prior to this on leaving my train and taking the stairs because I have a injured my legs (muscle damage so nothing you can see other than my limping) I waited til there was space for me to take the banister to the right of the stairs which I need to use to pull myself up.  About three quarters of the way up the stairs a member of station staff came down directly in front of me stopped and glared, I paused and said, "Sorry I've hurt my leg I need to hold the rail" she glared at me again and pointed to her side to indicate I should move aside for her.  I repeated "I'm sorry I've hurt my leg, I need to hold on to the rail."  She then made a loud 'humpf' sound rolled her eyes and stepped to the side.  Normally I wouldn't bother to complain about something like that but I'd made a conscious effort to not let that incident make me annoyed because I knew I'd have to speak to the ticket office staff shortly and didn't want to look grumpy at the counter!
14.     On arriving at my office I telephoned your customer service office and spoke to a perfectly pleasant and helpful person called Paul who said if I return my tickets they will arrange for a one-day refund and that he would arrange for someone to telephone me to discuss further, for which I thank you and look forward to hearing further from you but I feel strongly enough that the behaviour of the Guildford station staff this morning was so awful that I feel it is necessary to also formally put my complaint in writing. 

Since then I have spoken to a really lovely chap from Customer Services fcalled Paul who sent me £20 in vouchers to make up for it and has spoken to the manager at Guildford station who is going to call me to talk about my complaint perhaps over coffee. Fingers crossed he is willing to sort out his staff.


Bringing some order into things

The thing with me is I like rules and regulations. I don't like things to just happen, which is partly why I am really not keen on getting presents but we'll save that for another time. Ideally I want a fatalistic reason for things to happen, everything from when to do the washing up to choosing which brand of shampoo to do next.  For things around the house I use weekly lists like this one:

Its a fairly simple system. I go by the time if it is 11.49 I'll add the numbers up (15) and choose something to do from line 15 of my list, I change around the list every Friday.  This is fine for at home but doesn't help me choose what to buy when I get to the shops so what I've started doing recently is to just buy the next thing along on the shelf from what I bought last time. Just to be clear on how mental I am, I'm only doing this with make-up and toiletries in Superdrug. So far it's working out really well, normally I would just buy whatever is cheapest or on special offer but this is forcing me to try things I wouldn't normally have bought and eventually I'll be buying more upmarket brands.  To keep track of what I liked and more importantly what I didn't like I'm going to do little personal reviews here for future reference. 

At some point I'm going to reach the end of the aisle at when that happens I'll either go back to buying the things that have the best reviews or move on to another shop (Boots at Fleet or Debenhams at Guildford).