Wednesday, 30 May 2012

summer in a bottle...

I'm sitting at my desk looking out at two butterflies twirling in airborne dance in the lush garden...Ireland, you may have a lot of rain but the resulting resplendent greenery is worth it. Oh Yeah.

We had a few days sunshine last week down in deepest West Cork. Not as much as the rest of the country mind (the locals tell me the "sea mist" is to blame - it was like living in a cloud all the start of last week, I jest you not) but enough to enjoy the weight of the suns rays, and to unfurl ourselves a little.

Following in my foraging vein of late (there has been wild garlic pesto and muffins and nettle soup, yes, really, I even served the latter to my dad) I (well, my tiny slaves really) harvested some elderflowers from the (wildly overgrown) hedge in the garden... 

did what you do...

and bottled it...


Kids like it diluted with water. 
I'm a bit partial to diluting it with a nice Cremant to be honest.

Cheers! Here's to a chilled Summer, in whatever guise it takes!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

this is not a craft post, this is not a craft the tune of this is not a love PiL

Way out west where you can barely go further without drowning on ocean you'll find the gem that is Dzogchen Beara. I'd heard of it over the years from various sources, stories ranging from the snort-inducingly amusing (Siobhan and Katie getting Siobhan's brand spanking new company car stuck in a stony ditch on a just graduated from uni weekend trip) to the heart-breaking (young friend of our family finding great solace there before her way too premature death from cancer) and had dreamed of a visit.

Well that dream came true. Last Saturday, courtesy of (another) Siobhan, I was invited down to have a look around, eat some lunch, and chat to the manager of the centre, the very lovely and very dedicated, Matt.

Siobhan and I hadn't had a road trip together since college days themselves (if not before) and the outing would have been worth it for that alone. Two women of a certain age now, with six children between us to care for in our non-nuclear family way, we pootled along the highways and byways (ok, byways then) of deepest West Cork and talked of many things. How wonderful a thing is a long car journey with a dear friend and a sunny day, especially a day that manages to feature Dzogchen Beara as one of its co-ordinates.

For those who've never heard of it Dzogchen Beara is an outpost of Tibetan Buddhism clinging precariously to a cliff at the farthest reach of the Beara Peninsula in County Cork. Tibetan Buddhism may provide a grounding force here but the place has so much to offer to people of all spiritual persuasions, and of none. There is a lovely cafe, regular daily meditations which are open to all, a beautiful space to walk and "be" as well as an extensive retreat programme and the wonderful Spiritual Care Centre, of which more later.

We drove through end of civilisation Castletownbere where a tumble weed or two on the main street wouldn't come as surprise and up the winding laneway to the centre, welcomed by Tibetan Prayer banners as we went. A retreat was just winding up as we arrived and Siobhan in her capacity as roving reporter carried out a couple of interviews with retreatants who were just finishing. Their stories were moving and inspiring and will hopefully be in print sometime in April assuming Siobhan bends the arm of her editor sufficiently to get her piece to press.

After a delicious vegetarian lunch Matt took us around the grounds, showed us the onsite accomodation available to those attending retreats or to those who simply want some quiet time in such a beautiful location.

He took us to the site of the proposed new "Temple" which will provide a tranquil setting for reflection and retreat and for which planning permission has been granted. Just a small matter of some 840,000 Euro to raise now!

This setting truly is incredible. Incredible. It feels like the end of the world. In the most magical way.

We ambled back past the Stupa, Matt explaining to us its relevance in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and through the exquisite meditation garden. I dreamed of coming back.

After a couple of hours of clifftop dreaming we climbed a little higher to the more modern Dechen Shying, which is described as (and very aptly to my mind) "a sanctuary of rest, reflection, healing and inspiration".

This place is beautiful. Quiet. Still. Calming. Perfect for those facing the worst life can throw at them, illness, approaching death, bereavement, exhaustion. The young woman I mentioned earlier, friend of our family, spent many hours and days here and I know it helped her face her own inevitable future with courage and fortitude. Indeed such was her bravery in the face of terminal illness and death at a young age that her attitude stimulated an interest in Buddhism in my 70+ father, a man whose pragmatism and commonsensical approach to life hitherto showed little space for the spiritual (to me at least, but maybe I just didn't know where to look, eh dad?) I thought of my long lost mum, and how wonderful it would have been for her to spend time here, or in a place like this (though whether one as beautiful exists elsewhere I couldn't be sure) in her final year. It's a place for love. For acceptance. It's the edge of existence. It's space and time expanded.

I loved this place. I'll be back. Maybe this is some kind of love song after all.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Five go down to the sea...

I know I've been absent from the blogosphere for almost a year now (give or take two months) but I swear I've not been idle - there has been so much change.

So. Much. Change.

My status has changed from unhappily married (in the latter years only, we truly had some great ones prior to that) and gainfully employed (ie regularly earning) mother of two living in a red brick terrace in a SE London 'hood to unmarried Irish coastal farmhouse co-owning quasi self-employed girlfriend to a beautiful man ...who makes gingerbread houses on xmas eve for the small fry...

("girlfriend" ...who ever would have thought, at MY age too?!).

One thing remained happily constant throughout however : the mother of two bit...(praise the universe and all that is good for that)

charming I'm sure...

We moved lock stock and cat (of which more later) in mid October.

Into a rambling farmhouse on an acre of land by the Atlantic Ocean in deepest West Cork. Yes. It IS windy here, right by the Atlantic. Windy and glorious in equal measure.

The kids have settled in the local school, their only complaint is the smell of cowdung in the playground at lunchtime but when I asked about this recently they'd forgotten they'd ever mentioned it, so they are obviously acclimatising well. Heh heh. Good thing too as I'm not sure what I could have done about that particular issue.

We've been happy and content in general, missing friends in London greatly but not the place itself (yet). The only blow we had was the loss of my aged arthritic (it really was her time) cat Ms Jean Seberg who cast off this mortal coil early in the new year, to tears and dismay and a surreal spell where she was frozen by the vet for a week while we returned from a visit up the country in order to bury her in the garden where she was so happy.

I've been meaning to get back to this blog for ages now, since things have settled a bit, but never quite got around to it...until today.

Why today I hear you ask (heh heh heh...the sound of my silent audience...the ones who got bored to death waiting for me to say something, deafening)...well, the impetus was given by my reading this post by veryberry which calls out to people to Resolve to Sew in 2012...well, I'm up for that...indeed it forms a great part of my Grand Plan (which isn't really so Grand, nor even Well Formulated at this point, but definately involves sewing!) Let this be the point at which I officially share my Resolution To Sew 2012. (after I commission a wallet from the aforementioned extremely talented veryberry that is)I'll also share the fruits of that resolution on here as time goes by...without leaving 10 months between posts anymore. That'll be the other part of my resolution.

Back soon...(cue hollow laughter from the amongst the tumbleweed and dust...)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


I've been trawling the charity shops like I always do and found a cheery scarf whose colours evoke for me boiled sweets by the seaside...[bad for the teeth but hey, we were young, we knew no better...] It had to be bought, and so it was.

It duly got shredded (well, cut into long strips). And the strips stitched together. A large crochet hook was located deep in the bottom of stitching craft paraphanelia box no.59 [third from the right, second shelf down].

Google was fired up and my almost annual search for how to perform those basic crochet stitches unleashed.

I was beginning to wonder whether I'd have enough of the strippaged yarn to make anything useful (cos, y'know, it's all about usefulness round here ;-) ) when, lo and behold, deep in to-be-upcycled-sometime-this-century stash box no. 33 [extreme left, bottom shelf] what did I find but another candy-striped scarf bought in a different charity shop sometime last year and utterly neglected, nay erased from the memory banks entirely.

A silver lining in the cloud of the hideous forgetfullness that forms the very core of my being these days.

Still not sure what it might end up being, but I do love it...

Monday, 14 March 2011

brooklyn meets canary meets the boyfriend (hat)...


how many months was that? flew the twinkling of an eye...and the meanderings of a bleak London winter full of lurgeys and Too Much Day Job...(TMDJ by far!)

anyway, here we are again...I won't even apologise for my absence, or promise to do better next time...will just enjoy the fact that I've found a window and I have some bloggable photos on my laptop, all at the same time...

so, I've got this lovely friend called Bert (you may remember him, Bert the Baker from a previous post... what? just the last one? no was AAAAGGGES ago...) and Bert needed a new scarf. He mentioned this to me and all the little cogs in my rusty old brain whorred and whirred and finally engaged upon the notion of making him just such an item for Xmas (ok, so it's a historical post, forgive me...some day I'll catch up with myself again...maybe). Apart from anything else it presented itself as a charming opportunity to try out some beloved noro yarn in the form of a lovely Brooklyn Tweed inspired stripey scarf. (BtB loves stripes)

Shock Horror though, the man started talking about needing a new scarf a bit TOO much. And looking at them in shops and craft fairs a bit TOO much. Yours truly began to get anxious, and worried. And wondered how to avoid having her present (non-original as it was) undermined by coming second to a new SHOP BOUGHT item (the HIDEOUSNESS!)... until the obvious solution presented itself : send him an anonymous warning note.

Of course!

One happy evening of cutting and sticking later (I may be 42 but the simple pleasures never fail me) the job was done and winging its way courtesy of her Majesty's most Royal Mail to deepest East London (where he lived at the time - I wasn't just randomly sending it to East London, oh no, I'm waaay cleverer than that)

And a couple more happy evenings of knitting and purling later (well, many hours on buses, trains, sofas, hard chairs and soft if I'm honest, my knitting ain't a speed sport) the scarf was born.

BtB loved it. And hadn't even bought himself a new scarf in the meantime. RESULT!

Later I added a small linen robot button and loop so he could fasten it tight (on super chilly mornings)

the addition of the button turned everything was like magic*

and made him a matching hat, which I call Brooklyn meets Boyfriend as it's an amalgamation of the Brooklyn Tweed inspired noro striping and Stephanie's Boyfriend Hat

(waiting patiently for a tube)

And he wears them all the time...

Bye, for now....

*errr, not really

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

on a roll....bringing back elevenses...

just over a week later and I'm back again...what's going on?!

Well, following on from my teacosy sucess last week I went one further, this week I made two teacosies and found a good cause to raffle them for...

...last Sunday morning I hosted a "Tea and Talk" event in support of the Mental Health Foundation...that's my kind of fundraising, none of that sweaty running about or (God forbid) dangling upside down from a length of elastic above some whitewater, no, no give me elevenses (much underrated in my opinion) in my kitchen with a bunch of friends and a tableful of tea and cake anyday...

The full spread...mmm

...and just LOOK at this maple, chocolate and walnut swirl my friend Bert (Bert the Baker, nice ring to that actually) made for the occasion...particularly delicious heated up was that one...swoon...

with only 3 days notice lots of people turned up, ate cake, drank tea, bought raffle tickets from the ever eager Ms Reva and contributed £117.07 to this great cause...

here's the teacosy winning team, Amarapuspa and Jill with their prizes

I've also set up a Justgiving page and I'll try to put a widget on the sidebar in case anyone who wasn't there fancies throwing a few bob into the pot, as much or as little as you like...I might even run an online teapot and cosy raffle for those who support the cause that way...oooh, yes, now that might be a good idea...what do you think? Fancy a teapot and cosy to call your own?...

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

hmmm....that took a while...

...I know...I's a joke...veritably...

...however, I AM still alive [apparantly]...

...and I even knit something last week : a pretty orange eco-wool tea cosy to keep my friend's Ms Bester wants one, but without the spout and handle holes, to wear as a nice bobble hat...sounds good to me

it's proving a funny old year...I'm hoping things will settle down soon and I'll be able to get back to crafting and connecting with my much missed crafters blogosphere...fingers crossed...

in the meantime...this is post 97...about a year ago I promised to make something nice to give away at post the space as they say [at this rate of going you've only got a couple more years to wait!!! ]

long lost annie XXX