Wednesday, 23 April 2014

london love: pub boat

Ever since last summer, the Boyfriend and I have been saying that we'd go for a drink on the Pub Boat.  Moored just down the river Thames from the Houses of Parliament, it provides a lovely spot to soak up the sunshine and the atmosphere.  And the Pimm's.  You can imagine how busy it gets; as soon as the sun peeps out, pasty, Londoners perk up and head for the river. However, the Easter school holiday gave us an opportunity; while most workers were working, we donned sunglasses and beat the evening crowd for an afternoon on deck.  Perfect.

Nipping below deck to get in another round at the bar and exploring boat's interior was delightful.  It's the sort of place where I could happily play musical chairs and take turns sitting in all the different chairs, sofas and benches.  I bet it's actually pretty cosy in winter too.

It did get a little chilly eventually.  But to have the first Pimm's of the year in April isn't bad going and we hopped off the boat to discover a waiting hot chocolate vendor.  Not so chilly any more.

Kisses xxx

P.S. They also had the most fantastic scrapbook worthy business cards. Which reminds me that it's really called Tamesis Dock.  But we just call it Pub Boat; it's more descriptive.

P.P.S. The cardds had boats on! I took two :D

Saturday, 19 April 2014

london love: crafty fox market

I visited the Crafty Fox Market in Peckham as I'd been following them on Twitter for a while.  Crafty Fox collect together an assortment of independent crafters and get them all together in one place to sell their wares.  And there were a lot of wares to sell!  I had a lovely time poking around and admiring the handmade goodness, and also did two workshops where I made my own earrings (free!) and screen printed a bag.  More on that in another post.

While my purse didn't stretch to much in the way of spending, I did pick up a lot of business cards from the vendors as most of them sell online, and lots of the things available would make great gifts.  The business cards will help me to remember which things had appeal so I could potentially shop with them in future.  And lots of the cards were very pretty!

The atmosphere was great - lots of people milling around, music playing and a whole assortment of drinks and nibbles available.  I loved the carrot cake and had an iced jasmine tea with ginger syrup, lime and lemonade.  A very refreshing way to do tea and cake on a warm spring day!

Kirsty xxx

P.S. Heading to the Crafty Fox website will give you links to crafters.

Monday, 14 April 2014

mapping it all out

Back in January, I hit upon an idea to get hold of a world map and embroidering on it to mark the places that I'd visited.  So far, so unoriginal.  But somehow this idea snowballed to find me carting a canvas that's almost as tall as me through the busy streets of town.  It was a bargain though, and it just fit in my car as long as I wasn't picky about things like being able to see out the rear window.

I also got hold of a large map of the world (on sale) and proceeded to trace the outline of every country onto my canvas in pencil.  This wasn't as easy as it first appeared, because I couldn't see the map through the canvas to trace it.  Taking a step back, I decided to outline all the countries in thick, black pen first, and then voila!  The lines were clear enough to trace onto my canvas.

All I needed for this project - canvas and map aside - was some black embroidery thread and a needle.  And so I am slowly and deliberately embroidering the world onto my canvas.  It's slow going largely because the canvas is enormous and reaching around it for each stitch is something of a workout.  But now that more of it is complete, it's starting to look pretty good.

Each line has to be covered three times - first to prick out where the stitches will go in the canvas, second in running stitch and third in running stitch again but this time filling in the gaps.  It's a work in progress, but a little here and a little there and it's going to come together.

This project has grown from a simple it'll-only-take-me-one-afternoon project, and I have grand plans for it.  Having invested this much time in it, it seems silly to stop here.  Embroidering the countries is just the first step.  But I am enjoying it!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Confession: I had to make the Atlantic Ocean slightly narrower in order to prevent Hawaii and Fiji falling off the edges of the canvas.  But that can be our secret :D

Saturday, 12 April 2014

london love: secret cinema

Today I bring you London Love; a series of posts that I intend to run sharing things, events, places and moments that sum up my love for this incredible city.

Secret Cinema is an institution that has sprung up in London over the last few years.  The concept is simple; chose a film, keep it secret and then put on a show so immersive that filmgoers feel like they are living the film.  They experience the location, mingle with actors, absorb the atmosphere...and then watch the film.  Beforehand, no one knows what the film is, and as the date approaches, the audience receives clues: what to wear, what they should bring and a secret location in which to meet.  Their website is pretty and so I recommend having a little poke around and watching their video if you're interested.

So that's the idea.  Actually, the one that the boyfriend took me to was a little different as we knew the film in advance.  The Grand Budapest Hotel is still in cinemas and Secret Cinema were heavily involved in its UK release by running their event.  That did not lessen the experience at all as I knew it was a film I loved.

A week or so beforehand, I knew I needed to dress for the occasion.  So that's 1930s evening dress.  It is a luxury hotel after all.  We were also asked to fill out a hotel guest card, identification papers (necessary for travel on the continent especially with impending war) and we were invited to bring along some flowers.  Pink ones.

Sunday found me dressed somewhat inappropriately for a drizzly grey afternoon, if aptly attired for a 30s evening, and loitering on an underground platform.  I received a text from the boyfriend: "I'm in the front carriage of the next train" and so I scooted down the platform to hop onto the approaching tube.  Once we alighted at the right stop, we saw more and more people dressed as we were and bunches of pink flowers from trailing orchids to huge ostentatious lilies started to seem commonplace.  I clutched my little bunch of sweetheart roses, to which I'd added a bow for good measure, and we joined the queue.

Upon arrival, we were required to surrender our communication devices and cameras (NO!!!!) and escorted in groups to the funicular railway.  Inside the carriage, the concierge welcomed us to the hotel, described a few sights we may be interested in viewing and then the lobby boy lead us from the railway carriage into the hotel lobby.

It was spectacular: draped in swathes of pink and 4 stories high with balconies overlooking the welcome desk.  This was circular and took pride of place in the middle of room and was manned constantly by hotel employees all clad in vibrant purple tailcoats.  All the hotel staff were unfailing polite as we set out to explore.  Maids in purple dresses and crisp, white aprons would bow as we passed and the concierge was "delighted to see us back again; our usual room was ready". 

The different levels of the hotel held different surprises in store. Bedroom doors had peep-holes to look through and admire - or snigger at - the interiors.  It's astonishing what goes on behind closed doors.  Numerous bars served cocktails and champagne and we sampled their delights most willingly.   Scattered about were chaises longues, stuffed animals, pianos and enormous ferns.  The staff were constantly carting about capacious suitcases to comic effect and often engaged guests in conversation. 

We took the elevator just to see where it went and emerged in the spa.  Kicking off our shoes (and hoiking up the bottom of my dress) we waded into the pool filled with blue gel beads.  Cold and squishy and knee deep in the middle, they were impossible to wade through and delightful. We perched on the side as the spa attendant invited us; "Do come in darlings!  It's absolutely invigorating and so good for the skin and the circulation".  We eventually clamered out, dried off and reassumed our shoes before heading back to the elevator.

One of my favourite things was standing on the balcony watching the hive of activity in the lobby.  Guests arriving and signing the guest book (you never know if they're real guests or actors), the repositioning of a fearsome stuffed bear and a slightly less-fearsome badger.  One of the guests collapsed near the welcome desk and was immediately surrounded by puple-festooned employees calling for oxygen and a doctor.  The lobby boys promptly retrieved all the plants and placed them around her as she feebly fanned herself, a waiter sprinkled water over her and the maids flapped their aprons to create a draft.  She was eventually carried to a chaise longue. 

A waltz lesson was announced and we hurried down into the lobby.  Lead by a very grand looking guest indeed, hundreds of us took up positions in the lobby, waving our arms to the live music played by the ensemble gathered on a first-floor platform.  We whirled about, completely caught up in the music while the leader, now standing on the welcome desk called for us to skip around the lobby and waltz by ourselves before finally grabbing a partner and waltzing faster and faster around the lobby, spinning around and around the welcome desk. As the music rose to a pitch, snow fell and I couldn't breathe for laughing and dancing.

I've never seen anything like it.  Talk about immersive theatre.  I think I need to move to a luxury hotel in the 30s and dance every night.  It was almost a relief to then be guided to the film.  We stopped for a hot chocolate with Bailey's before entering the ballroom and being shown to our seats for the screening. The film was as excellent as I remembered and it was entertaining to be reminded of details that secret cinema had borrowed for the experience.

After the film, we had a final cocktail before heading off into the night.

It's worth noting that prices have risen somewhat as Secret Cinema gains in popularity and new screenings tend to sell out fairly quickly.  But the experience was unique; I was entranced for the whole night and loved every single surreal moment.

Kisses xxx

P.S. When can I go again?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

one photo and twenty words

We taught the Guides to knit.  But I gave them a little help getting started and cast on 42 times.


One Photo and Twenty Words is hosted by Abi over at Creating Paper Dreams. Pay her a visit (she's lovely!) and see others' pictures.

Kisses xxx

Sunday, 6 April 2014

dressing for the 30s

For my birthday, my lovely man got us tickets to the Secret Cinema to see the Grand Budapest Hotel.  We've seen the film and LOVED it and to get Secret Cinema tickets was a great surprise as I've wanted to go for ages.  Guests are required to dress for the occasion - 1930s formal evening wear, naturally - and we will step into the film!  A secret location has been transformed into the resplendent luxury hotel of the film's title and we will sip cocktails, dance and enjoy entertainment as actors create the feel of the era around us.  And we'll watch a screening of the film too.

All the details are kept secret and no cameras allowed, so I've snapped a few photos while working out a hair-do a couple of days ago.

I have my ID papers (all guests are required to fill them in) and my evening gloves and it's off to the 30s tonight!

Kisses xxx

P.S. This also will accomplish another goal from the list! #36 Go to a Secret Cinema screening.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

learning to knit from a chart

I'll admit, another month or so has passed and poor little blog has got lonely. I tend to blog less when I scrapbook less.  Which tends to happen when I take fewer photos.  Which happens in winter because the light is terrible.

Incidentally, the government have not responded to any of my increasingly less politely worded letters about providing better photographic-quality light for its citizens during the greyer months.  A shocking oversight.

All this, being said, I do have a bit of knitting to share.  Winter is a great time to knit as it feels warm and cosy and when you've finished knitting, you can be even warmer and cosier in your new knitwear.  I go through phases with knitting (it's no scrapbooking after all), but recently I've been enjoying having a project or two on the go.

In my list of things to accomplish (blogged here), I professed a desire to learn to knit from a chart.  So I made this cowl and discovered two things.  First that knitting from a chart is actually very easy: straightforward and logical.  The second thing I learned is that I prefer not to knit from charts as I found it harder to memorise and to remember where abouts in the chart I'm supposed to be.

Still, project complete, new skill learned (and promptly abandoned) and warm cowl all ready for summer. #62 Learn to knit from a chart: all done.

That's a win on all fronts, I feel.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I'm going to make a concerted effort to post - hurrah! - now that it's the Easter holiday and the light has improved.  

before I'm 30 I will...

Here is my current list of goals.  Each time one is complete, I will highlight it and link to a blog post where relevant.  Every time I think of something new I'd like to do, I will add it to the list.  This effectively means that the list will get longer more quickly than I cross things off it.  Net success by the time I'm 30 will probably be negative.  But I choose to see this as positive: being continually inspired to try new things and perpetually excited to get up and make the most of life can never be a bad thing really :D

#1 Make cake pops
#2 Make a multicoloured layer cake
#3 Go on a canal boat
#4 Play Dungeons and Dragons
#5 Play hooky for a day
#6 Get a film projector and screen films in my own little cinema
#7 Go on a sleeper train
#8 Have tea at the Ritz
#9 And Claridges
#10 See 2 West End shows in a day
#11 Make a photo wall display
#12 Build a den.  A really cool one.
#13 Road trip around the USA
#14 New York, New York
#15 Go glamping in a fancy tent with fairy lights
#16 Buy an expensive set of lingerie
#17 Sew something to wear
#18 Get married
#19 Make a set of jam-jar cocktail glasses
#20 Make blueberry gin
#21 Play ultimate sandwich
#22 Learn how design this blog the way I wish it looked
#23 Make a scrapbooking video for the blog
#24 Make a stop-motion animation
#25 Learn to make pasta
#26 Get up early to photograph the sunrise over London
#27 Swim in the Hampstead ponds
#28 Stay out all night in London
#29 Do the monopoly pub crawl
#30 Play the tube game
#31 Have dinner at Dans le Noir
#32 Re-vamp some second hand furniture
#33 Go to a cult Rocky Horror screening
#34 Go to a burlesque show
#35 Go ape
#36 Go to a Secret Cinema screening
#37 See a play at Cornwall's Minack Theatre
#38 Go on a helicopter
#39 Make my own ice cream (malteaser, peanut butter and caramel flavour?)
#40 Have dinner at Dishoom
#41 Go to the Roadhouse Diner
#42 Buy a bikini
#43 Make my own flair
#44 Get my eyebrows shaped
#45 Inhale helium
#46 See the Northern Lights
#47 Go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
#48 See New Zealand
#49 Stay in a tree house
#50 Have a bash at karaoke
#51 Go to a roller derby
#52 Go skinny dipping
#53 Ride a motorbike
#54 See a film at a drive-in cinema
#55 Go to a sh*t-faced Shakespeare production
#56 Make 3 cushions using 3 different fabric techniques
#57 Get a piano
#58 Make spun sugar
#59 Have a go at spinning
#60 Go for Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea
#61 Go to the circus
#62 Learn to knit from a chart
#63 Knit a lace pattern
#64 Start a teacup collection
#65 Go on a Segway
#67 See a midnight matinee at the Globe
#68 Play hide and seek in Ikea
#69 Visit the Cutty Sark
#70 Go to a Casino
#71 Go stargazing
#72 Eat a deep-fried Mars bar
#73 Have dinner at Veeraswamy
#74 Have a day at Thorpe Park

Thursday, 20 February 2014

enter the mirror maze

In Prague we had great fun poking around in the mirror maze - it's a bit like a Hall of Selfie Opportunities!  It was one of those labyrinthine places that has the mirrors placed at cunning angles convincing you that you can step forward into a space only to find yourself smacking into a mirror that is tilted so that your reflection doesn't appear until it's too late.  As I said: lots of fun! 

I wanted the page to reflect the mirror aspect.  Partly because I just made a frankly obvious yet terrifically amusing pun by employing my sharp wit and razor intellect on the interplay between the words 'mirror' and 'reflect'.  But mainly because I wanted to try my hand at backwards writing.  Not 100% convinced by the result as it keeps making me look twice, as though it's backwards.  Which I suppose it is.

Never mind.  Things can never be too bad when you have an envelope to play with.  Huzzah!

I also wanted to incorporate the maze idea by using little arrows as embellishment.  I cut them out of a sheet of patterned paper and popped some of them up on foam.  BOOM! Dimension.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I love half term!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

and another date

The boyfriend and I have been together for just over a year now.  Yay!  And I've been thinking back to our first few dates.  I never scrapbooked them but I did write about them in just in case I wanted to look back on those thoughts some day.  Well, it turns out now that I do want to look back on those early dates, and so I've made a page about the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th times that we went out together.

I thought you've probably had enough of seeing those little while envelopes on every single project I make lately.  So to really mix things up and take things in a completely different direction, y'know, creatively speaking, I have had a real re-think and come up with an entirely new concept.  

Vellum envelopes.

OK, there's still a hand-cut title, a camera makes an appearance and I've decorated with little wood veneer hearts and ink platters.  And the journaling is on little cards you can pull and and read.  But vellum envelopes are obviously NOTHING LIKE paper envelopes.  You can see through them!  So you can see the writing through three of them and the confetti I filled the fourth one with. Whole new look.  Clearly.

OK, so nothing's really changed, but I am still completely in love with letter-writing style and the amount of journalling I can fit in the envelopes finally allows me to ramble on at length without any worries about whether or not it will all fit in the space.  By the way, there are now 4 envelopes on this page.  2 envelopes no longer satisfy my addiction. Meanwhile, I cut flowers out of one of the last bits of Sassafras paper I have.  I miss Sassafras!

On the plus side, I very much like the more muted pieces in Dear Lizzy's Polka Dot Party for American Crafts.  Lots of patterned paper goodness.  I would like some more!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Drama this morning involving a flooded basement car park, a fire engine, burst pipes and the water being turned off.  I had enough in the kettle for one cup of tea, but I'm down to blueberry gin now...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

the happenings of january

I can't help feeling that 2014 is disappearing awfully quickly!  But January has been busy and full of lovely things and while they won't all get scrapbooked, I would like them all to be remembered.  I've been making more of an effort to collect ephemera as I go: business cards and tickets, leaflets and postcards, anything free that will remind me where I went and what I did.  And now the month is over, I've collected it all together to keep.

My new method for saving ephemera works like this: everything I've collected this month has gone into an envelope.  (Envelopes? Really? More envelopes?  Yes, I say, many more envelopes).  I've discarded things that are bigger than 6x4, or trimmed them down to keep the important bits.  Then I've drawn out a little calendar page for January on a 6x4 piece of white cardstock and I will match each ticket and card to the appropriate date, jotting them in on the calendar. Then it all goes into the envelope and I wrote the month on the front.  Simple, effective, memorable.  

It really didn't take long to put together which is a bonus because it doesn't eat into my scrapping time.  Some of the things in the envelope have already been scrapped about, some will never get scrapped, and some are waiting; a little reminder that there is something I can come back to and another story I can tell.

And so begins another month.  So far, I like this system.  I hope I can keep it up!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Off to brunch in London with my brother now.  Note to self: grab a business card for my February envelope....