Monthly Archives: May 2011

Mums’ Button Box


Who doesn’t remember one of these from their childhood. Decades of buttons, scraps of clothing from half-remembered dresses. mother of pearl, metal, wood, fabric and wool and plastic. Sets of white shirt buttons and alphabet letters from making a grandchild’s cardigan.  Bucklies and a thimble. The colours, shapes and textures. Little pink ones for a delicate cardigan, great big brown ones from a winter coat. Sparkly ones and black shiny jet. Sweet ones for babies. Brass ones and tiny press-studs and fasteners.Embroidered ones and ugly ones.

Buttons for make do and mend. Buttons saved for a special occasion or treasured from that special outfit.

I remember the tin, the roses and flowers on the top and that bright blue. Getting the button box out was always a treat. Rainy afternoons spent sorting and playing, making families from them. Now I sometimes use them in my work. I can see the seeds of that in this button box, therapy with buttons. here it is written more academically  Click on the link: Buttons in therapy or in this book : Button Therapy

Most of all I liked sorting them. Colours, shape, size, type. Each has its own special character. Each reminds me of something. Each is in there for a reason, everything was saved, anything might ‘come in useful one day’. Signs of the times, a legacy of growing up in War Years and with rationing. Making your own clothes and remaking old clothes into something new and special with a set of fancy buttons or a bit of trim or ribbon. Now they are mine and I will add my collection to them. We will never need to buy a button again!


Hepworth Gallery Wakefield


Sculpture is the creation of a real object which relates to our human body and spirit as well as our visual appreciation of form and colour.

Barbara Hepworth 1962

Wakefield in Yorkshire is the proud owner of a new Gallery dedicated to the work of Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) and Henry Moore (1898-1986). Both were born and grew up in the Wakefield area.

Hepworth’s later years were spent in St Ives in Cornwall, an area that became during and after the 2nd World War an artists haven and the centre for the development of post-war contemporary art.

Hepworth’s sculptures are amazing, the way in which she uses materials and form to represent landscape, ideas and humanity, most often using the feminine form. The shapes are rounded and smooth with a patina on the wood that makes you want to caress and stroke. As in most galleries, photography was not permitted so the images remain in my head.

For images of the Gallery see This and This  and for a biography see Here, I hope you love it as much as I do.

Nana’s kitchen


Bone handled knives Victorian cutlery, I have no idea what happened to the spoons or forks

1970’s Weight Watchers cook books every decade another diet. Each book tells a story of the history of food and nutrition. The concept of low-fat, “International Cooking’ featuring Beef Carbonade and Goulash – oh the excitement!

The BeRo cook book ( flour manufacturer from the 1950’s) – this is a slightly newer version of the one I remember My Granny having. She gave it to me when I left home in 1976 which was the year before she died. I used it for years but it somehow got lost maybe in one of several house moves. That makes me sad. Now my eldest and his girl use his nana’s BeRo book, that makes me happy

1950’s housewife aprons – they barely fit round my waist ( but they will, they will!) Who wouldn’t keep those?

Stainless steel tea set – one for eBay

A yogurt maker we had to keep this. For me and my girl this took us straight back to our 70’s self-sufficient, vegetarian, feminist, hippie-ish days. Why the feminism connects with yogurt Im not entirely sure right now, but I’ll work on that explanation. But something about the idea od making your own food, not being reliant on capitalism and the mass market. I remember the days in the 60’s when Mum introduced us to yogurt, it seemed very daring and ‘foreign’. “Go Mum” for being so cosmopolitan!

Lace doilies and serviettes/napkins oh the work that has gone into these. Hand made lace. Days of tea parties, cake stands and wearing a nice frock

3 button boxes full of buttons – I will say more about this another day. I can’t wait to get them all out and see what gems are in there. Photographic evidence will follow I promise

Sewing machine-I will never aspire to being the needlewoman my mother was. When I was little she made all my clothes and most of hers too. My Sindy (the English version of Barbie) had a whole new wardrobe one Christmas made by her. I smiled and said thank you and inside I was grumpy for the fancy boxed dress with little plastic stilettos and a handbag I had seen in Woolworth’s. Now my talents stretch to hemming and straight lines, but I can run up curtains or hem a skirt.

Several knitted tea-cosies- the teapot always had a cosy on it, the water was always boiling and the tea was always leaves. “One for the person, and one for the pot’ is the mantra that rings down the years both from Mum and from the Brownies where I did my ‘Hostess’ badge. I think my hostess skills may have ended there!

Every item tells a story. One room at a time.


Service record


Lookking back

Sometimes unexpected treasures are hidden from view.Looking back on the past is like an archway onto another world. Todays treasures were my Grandpa’s long service certificate from Newton Chambers in Sheffield. He worked there for 50 years and then went back every week of his retirement to conduct a prayer meeting and Bible Study for the workers. Pasted to the back of the framed certificate were letters sent to him to thank him also for his service to the church.  Here is a small extract:

Feb 10th 1940

In considering their responsibility in light of the Bishop’s recent “spiritual call to arms’, the ( parish sic) council place on record their grateful appreciation of the work of Mr T.B Richardson, particularly among the young people of the parish” ………As it is hoped to hold evensong at the usual time when the lighting restrictions allow it, we hope that you will be able to resume your monthly services.In the very firm opinion of the council, they are a very valuable contribution to the spiritual life of this parish, more particularly at the present time.

Grandpa always wanted to be in the church, he had dreams of becoming a Minister in the Church of England and was always a truly gentle, devout man. As a young man he studied and studied by correspondence courses and evening classes but there wasnt enough money for him and his younger brother William to be trained in a profession. So Grandpa worked to put  Uncle Billy, through the training to become a priest.

My dad found some of Grandpa’s insistence on church attendance too much, twice a day and Sunday school in the afternoons on Sundays made him wider reaching in his own adult life with regard to religion and spirituality.

But I always remember the sweet nature of my Grandpa, his unassuming presence and quiet persistence. He was a steadfast man who believed that love was the cornerstone of life. I think that was a pretty good legacy.

Weekly photo challenge – Water


Loch Lomond at dawn

Water is my favourite element. I am a fish, Pisces, often swimming in two directions.Choosing a water image was hard, I have so many. All the best days are spent near water, the sea, a lake, rivers or streams.I dream of living near water. The constant movement, the way the wind ruffles the surface with a gentle breeze or creates huge waves, the sound of rushing and gurgling or the soothing shush, shush of water lapping the beach. Holidays and days at the sea. Playing with water with the children in the garden, the fun of paddling pools and water guns. Soaking wet and laughing. Swimming, paddling, bathing and floating. Water to drink and wash with. the start of life swimming in water. Water babies and mermaids, Marina in Thunderbirds swimming elegantly in her own silent world. Dolphins and whales in the Bay of Biscay on a crossing to Santander. 

This photo is Loch Lomond at dawn, March 10th 2009. We woke as dawn crept across the sky and watched as the colours brightened and the loch shimmered and gleamed in the first rays. All was quiet and still, the only movement a seagull landing on the post. Later a single canoe was rowed across the centre, a tiny splish as the oars left the water, the boat moved effortlessly as if by magic. It was the perfect start to an unforgettable day.

One day at a time



Today I was reminded that recovery is about taking care of myself one day, one moment at a time. Recovery seems to have the same components whether it is from addiction, illness or depression and burn out.

Focusing on now, being in the moment and not getting sucked in to what went before.
Being grateful for small mercies, each sign of change is worth noticing.
Spending time in quietness whether that be meditation, prayer or sleep.
Getting enough rest.
Not expecting too much too soon.
Asking for help when we need it.
Accepting that it is a process, its not about perfection.
Some days will be better than others.

Today I feel like I should’ve stayed in bed! I’ve been tired and feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I don’t like to say too much or to let my guard down sometimes. I get scared people will think I’m falling apart again. Silly eh?
So feeling wobbly and overwhelmed meant some things didn’t work out so well today. But other things did. The things that are worrying me will be resolved. And I will make sure I give myself some space next time I have a heavy day emotionally.
Recovery is all about being gentle with ourselves. One day at a time.

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If you got a tattoo what would it be?



For inspiration tonight I turned to The Daily Post and landed on this. Like most people I’ve contemplated getting a tattoo more than once but the long-term always puts me off. I’d like something pretty discreet like a butterfly or an angel, something that symbolises freedom or spirituality perhaps. I can’t see me going for the hard rock chick look or the full body extravaganza, although I do admit to a secret fascination for the artistry shown on day-time tv programmes like LA Ink. The problem with that is finding someone I would trust enough to paint permanent pictures on my body and cause me pain in the process.

A few months ago I was given a bracelet for my birthday, i talked about it here : charms

The charm I found to go on it was the Chinese symbol for health. This year that is hugely significant for me. It reminds me of what my focus is and why I don’t want to go back to feeling and being so unwell. Today it helped me refocus away from some sugar cravings. If I had a tattoo this year, I think that would be it.

Bracelet with health charm

But will it be the same next year, in 10 years time or when I’m 70? I don’t know.

We all know someone who had the name of the love of their life engraved on their arm at 18 only to find that maybe life has several loves. Likewise with favourite bands, football teams or celebrities. Firm young bodies look cute with tattoos but would a wrinkly, saggy me look quite so attractive? I doubt it.

I suppose one of the attractions of a tattoo is the whole permanency of the statement. I had a friend who died quite young several years ago. Before she died she was determined to have as much fun as possible while she still had the energy. One night she persuaded another friend that they would both go and get tattoos as a way to remember each other. They both went into the booths, but only one came out with the tattoo. And she is still living with it. It made us laugh and our friend lives on in that little rose, but then she would anyway.

Roses for Rita

Thinking about this sent me looking for tattoos that just might appeal, here are a couple just for the hell of it. But believe me, it ain’t gonna happen! Probably.

Angel Wings

Tree of hearts

Sifting through a Lifetime


Photos from childhood and beyond. Great-grandparents young and wide-eyed, dressed to impress with their proper looking parents. Baptism, marriage and death certificates. Love letters and valentines, plans for a marriage and choosing the carpet for their first house. The bill from a hotel in Bournemouth for seven nights as a honeymoon in 1954. Letters hoping for a pregnancy, disappointment, then the arrival of a baby girl, first to visit then to be adopted. Stories of school days, an old school tie and report cards. Tiny meticulous writing and immaculate drawings and plans as Dad studied and worked to get himself qualified as a Surveyor. Mum’s notes from her first teaching job and her passion for education which has stayed all her life. Cards and pictures drawn by the grandchildren, notes in diaries of births and birthdays.    

The photos up the staircase are a family history in themselves, back further than I remember. Stray photos in albums and boxes stir half-remembered conversations and the wish I’d made sure they were all labelled some years ago. I know I am the last person who will know who some of these people are, it feels like quite a responsibility that they should be named and recognised somehow. So much connection, such a lot of love.

Prayer books and children’s stories, family Bibles and tales of travel in foreign lands. Maps and guidebooks galore, the history of a wandering soul with a love for adventure and a taste for the great outdoors. Every box, bag and envelope contains treasures amidst the paper collection of two inveterate hoarders. They make me smile, sigh and blink back the tears and ache to ask the questions for which there will be no answers anymore. Today two of the boys helped with clearing and packing. We found a tiny pair of slippers wrapped in newspaper with a note attached ‘Stephen’s first shoes”, their Grandpa born 1922. One suggested we make a scrapbook of family history and memories so none of this gets lost. I like that idea. I think Mum and Dad would too.

Fat Girl Slim ( It’s a Rocky Road)


It’s a bit of a rocky road sometimes this dieting business. This weekend has felt a bit of an uphill struggle with the occasional slide down. Food has been pretty good overall. I am tight on the no sugar, no white carbs thing – that is so much a part of my life now that I don’t want to imagine my life again in the sugar/whites crash.

But exercise has slipped a bit and I can feel it. It’s not like we did nothing. The dog got walked, once on Saturday, twice on Sunday but Friday night was a bit of a flop on the sofa. I’m grateful though that my energy levels are up overall. It’s not very long ago that a busy day of grocery shopping/hanging out in town/walking the dog/cinema ( Saturday) would have finished me off for the rest of the weekend. Sunday I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and happy. So I can see a big shift in my health and well-being which is the road I am travelling.

Sometimes I think it’s too easy to beat myself up if the diet isn’t perfect or I havent done the ‘right’ number of days at the gym. ( What, perfectionist tendencies, me? Humph). So it is good to sit here, take a cleansing breath as the yogis do and remember this is a journey. With a journey the detours along the way can be as illuminating and enjoyable as the main road. Stopping to study the map can give a new idea or make me appreciate the scenery. So each moment on this journey is for learning.     

Last night I had the munchies. I can’t have been hungry but I may have been thirsty. I need to work on having enough water. Note to self remember to carry ( aka Find) water bottle

Saturday night we saw a film ( Oranges and Sunshine – go find it). It was deeply moving. The missus cried and was still crying Sunday morning. I’m a hard bitch. My tears were on the inside.  After the film I had a very strong Mars Bar craving. Oooh what a powerful bit of info. I didnt’ eat one by the way. But the old pattern of strong emotion = sweet treat/ comfort was alive and kicking. We went home and had a cup of tea 🙂

I love these bits of information. They add up to such a wonderful treasure trove of knowledge about my pretty amazing body. And keeping a journal/writing them down as they pop up keeps that info stored for the next time I wonder wtf is going on here!

So plan for the day is a dog walk and the gym tonight. My muscles want to be used and I know that balance will be restored.

Saving money and a little bit of the planet.



This is going to make me sound like a Grumpy Old Woman, but it has to be said. What happened to scrimping and saving, otherwise known as using our resources wisely?
Changes in our domestic economy have focused our minds wonderfully 🙂
Yesterday we had a lovely Saturday morning potter round our market town including a tour of the Charity shops. I think Charity Shops are a very British animal. All the big charities have shops here, Oxfam, Save the Children, British Heart Foundation are a few on our High Street plus Animal Welfare charities and Homeless ones. The joy of Charity shop shopping is discovering the hidden treasures. A designer label t-shirt for next to nothing, pristine shirts, a bit of Wedgwood or Doulton. The fun is in the Chase. I was laughing, remembering how a few years ago, when very short of money I had a job interview and found a fabulous smart linen jacket to give me that little extra edge of confidence in the Animal Welfare shop.
Somehow my kids haven’t caught this bug. Although they are not materialistic I think they have caught the 80’s / 90’s trend for new, shiny and oh-so-disposable. Such a waste! I know that for some people there is a sense of shame or the fear or rememberance of poverty attached to second-hand. Maybe our 60’s/70’s culture of left-wing politics, communal living and the absolute determination to be independent paved the way for our self-sufficiency.
Travel rather than fancy hotels, a big pot of chilli a bottle of wine and a group of friends rather than dinner out, and the love of a bargain and not subscribing to a materialistic capitalist culture were all part of our heritage along with fair trade, anti-racism and feminism.
Of course nowadays you can look great on cheap as chips clothing from Primark, eat out at McDonalds for 99p, and I am sadly, as much of a sucker for new Apple technology as the next girl. But something can get missed along the way.
We are rediscovering resources in ourselves and each other. We eat really well, but we cook from scratch. The most processed food over here is tomato ketchup. We won’t be having a fancy foreign holiday but we have a collection of tents, and nothing beats cooking over a fire and playing cards under the stars, or watching the sun come up with a mug of tea.
We have enough clothes to keep us going for a while and as we lose weight my charity shop shopping is going to be even more fun. Being a more ‘normal’ size will increase the options!
We’ve swapped lunches out for a latte treat and we’re keeping the gym as a luxury cum necessity for our healthy life plan. ( I know that is cheating a little, but I never claimed to be a saint). We have fun and playtime with the dog, and each other, gardening, cooking, baking,reading watching films, playing with friends and family, digging out the scrabble and the playing cards, writing a blog or playing on Facebook 🙂
Yes I think I might be a Grumpy Old Woman sometimes but I love my life and I am loving it even more with less money and a lot more Life.

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