Sunday 11 September 2011

Keeping it local

How has your weekend been so far? Mine has been great so far, I'm not looking forward to tomorrow though, as I have to commit to some academia when it comes to plotting and planning via a mind map regarding which high school in our area we/she are going to select for Alice to go to in September 2012. Oh, I have been dreading this phase in our lives, it's nail biting stuff and careful research and planning and considering has to all be accounted for. I know this may sound rather crazy to some of you but it is daunting especially when I am not particularly enchanted by our local high school. So, please bear with me as I go on this little journey and use my blog as an outlet to vent any feelings :0)

ps. Are mind maps still around or am I a very uncool mother? Oh well, they got me through university so I am prepared to be uncool anyway. Nerds rock!

Can I tell you how excited I am to see this heavenly retro/vintage/antique store open up just around the corner from where I live... I was heart skippingly excited to find out that
Eras of Style was re-locating from their shop in St. Leonards-on-Sea {4 miles down the coast from me} to my little town of Bexhill-on-Sea. Not only have they saved the old west station from being pulled down and turned into a supermarket but, they have divine goods/furniture for sale from all over Europe, in THE most beautiful building built in 1902 with stunning interiors and a fab retro cafe with delicious exotic teas as seen in my first photo xox

They are open 7 days a week and believe me when you sit in their retro leather couches you find it very hard to leave! I will of course be spending a fair amount of chilling out time there in the future. 

Alice and I had some fun with her art teacher the other day making Damson Gin. Janie discovered that she had some damson trees and so who could resist making some damson gin for the merriment season of Christmas. I found this recipe in my September Country Living magazine: 

250g castor sugar
750mls any old cheapo gin {I bought Sainsbury's own label}
400g of damsons {pips 'n all} 

Mix gin and sugar in a bowl till dissolved add the damsons and pop in a sterilised bottle or kilner jar {which I don't have}
Turn bottles/jars every week for 3 months 
Enjoy at Christmas as a festive locally grown tipple

ps. I know Alice is only 10 and to reassure you she certainly won't be having any of this tipple in the near future, she just likes making things...

Speaking of which another bit of local baking was had in our kitchen this morning,we made blackberry and apple crumble. Blackberries from the hedgerows picked whilst camping and apples from Helen's tree (thanks Helen). Alice was in her element as I supervised but gave her as much independence as I could with the whole making process this morning.

I love the ruby redness of the berries and a little extra water in the stewing process to make it ooze out over the crumbly crust when it's baking, making it all chewy and jammy on the edges...mmmmm

We like a reasonable sprinkling of cinnamon on top and once baked have it with thick cream/custard/vanilla ice-cream depending if you are Alice/Andy/Penelope in this house.

In the afternoon we took ourselves off to East and West St.Leonards-on-Sea for the Coastal currents Visual Arts Festival held every September and visited a few of our favourite local artists open studio's. 

We adore Claire Fletcher {do have a look around her gorgeous web site}

A few little goodies were bought for someone who is turning 11 at the end of this month's birthday treasure hunt {I'm a cruel mum hiding present's am I not!}

Claire Fletcher is of course influenced by the sea and the natural environment around her and she paints the most beautiful mermaids.

I love this tatoo'd mermaid

Excuse the bad photography and reflections on the glass, she was very kind to let me take a few pics.

She paints magical, whimsical children's illustrations and has illustrated for a number of children's books. I have tried to buy some of her prints most years {when I can afford them} and Alice has a little collection going on in her room.

Claire Fletcher gets quite a lot of inspiration from vintage boys and girls annuals and celebrates fairy tales and childhoods of yesteryear. Another reason for our admiration of her work.

Her partner Peter Quinell creates fun and quirky framed vintage toys and cards and bits and bobs he has salvaged from the past.

They just make me smile a lot

Really funny 

After chatting to Claire for a bit it appears that she has a slot in her children's illustration and art classes on a Thursday afternoon... Hhhmmmm now is this an opportunity not to be missed? I think so! So, despite her having had a waiting list in the past she now has re-jiggled her days and classes to accommodate the demand and has 1 slot left for a very happy little lady indeed!

It will involve a little bit of time juggling on our behalf and practising spellings for the next day's test at school in the car no doubt, but an opportunity not to be missed I think. 

So, that leaves me to ask how your weekend has been so far and if you have been celebrating what's on your local doorstep? I promise to make the next post of the woolly kind. My fingers have been a little busy knit knitting and hook hookin' these last few evenings xox See you all soon and thanks for all your generous comments I love 'em!


  1. Hello Penelope!
    I popped in a few hours ago when I was at my parent's place and tried to leave you a comment but I couldn't because I wasn't logged in to my blog :O(
    Lots of fun goodies in this post, I like the dinosaurs the best! They are so retro and fab, can you imagine giving one to a child these days? I don't know what they would think... it doesn't plug into the wall, what do I do with it?! Not your Alice I'm sure, as she is a creative wee thing! Good luck finding her a college, such a big decision to make, but I think the perfect solution will flow through the universe to you so sit back (with your retro-but-very-cool mind maps!) and let it happen :O)
    Have a great rest of your weekend XXXXX
    p.s wordpress has a new function that tells me who my 'top commenters' are and my number one commenter is you! thank you! XX

  2. What a great post, the pics are lovely. I really like the playmobil in a frame, fab! I have been toying with the idea of making some sloe gin for Christmas, not done it before but must give it a try before someone else spots the sloes and half inches them. I am so with you on the school front, making the right decision for your kids is stressful, if only smarties did have all the answers, but I fear they don't. I went over my hubby's head recently and moved both of our boys from the local village school, I felt sick, still do slightly. I do know however it is the best place for them with far more opportunities......just super scary making the move after 5 years of cosy and easy. I hope in the near future my husband will understand my insistence. He doesn't disagree just thought I was rushing things and it could wait. I felt if I didn't force the situation I would deeply regret it. So far so good. I hope for you that a decision is clear and as unstressful as it can be and you have confirmation of a good decision made, quickly.

  3. Thanks for sharing your weekend.

    Mine has been very special today. I was up in the air and saw the Alps from above. The Alps are massive, impressive, beautiful. I got the flight around Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau from my husband as a birthday present. We started in Sitterdorf, which is close to where I live. It's a tiny airport and you start and land on a meadow. The airplane was a Cesna.
    It fellt wonderful to be high up in the blue sky. We even saw people on top of the Mönch. This is a mountain more than 4000 meters high. However, the Swiss lakes are also beautiful. After one and a half hours later I was back in Sitterdorf. Still the same human being but with a new perspective.

    Now I'm up to a bit hand craft because it's Sunday. Like you I'm not looking forward to tomorrow.

  4. Gosh what a happy vibrant post!

    Loved the mermaids they are lovely and can see why you love collecting the artwork.

    The damson gin sounds rather nice! And your crumble sounds just yum.

    The course does sound like a lot of fun and not to be missed out on.

    I am dreading selecting a secondary school for my two. Its a way off yet but time does go so fast. I dont like the schools in our area much and so hoping we have moved before the decision has to be made.

    MBB x

  5. Hi Penelope!

    What a lovely inspirational post, thank you! I most enjoyed it! I'm in love with the South coast all over again ;)

    Have visited Eras of Style twice now and I LOVE it!

    Hope your week is as exciting as your weekend!