80. the one at the beach

i wasn’t sure we’d manage a holiday due to anakin’s continuing broken.
plus, the car is also continuing broken, so it was all a bit touch and go… but we made it!

me at the beach

we *aaaalways* have a good soundtrack for our roadtrips – it’s part of The Thing – but this time we couldn’t listen to anything apart from what is that funny noise? or is that a bit of car falling off? and for some terrible, terrible reason the only song my brain was letting me know all the words to, was ‘true’ by spandau ballet (wtf??! I MEAN WTF??!!!).
so i sang that for 4 hours (!)
and took photos of famous landmarks.
and huh huh huh hu-uh huh
i know this much is true.

angel of the north

huh huh huh hu-uh huh i know this. much is. true.
it was a long & painful drive for Husband and anakin :)

for most of the week, the weather was good. too good to do anything other than Beach.
beach, beach, pub, beach.
anakin at the beach

“hey, anakin! where are the guys? i’m not sure we’ll find them in this crowd…”

family at the beach

“oh wait, there they all are.”

the anakin dog was remarkable. she’s very tired, stiff & wibbly now that we’re home, but she wasn’t going to let a silly thing like stroke or arthritis ruin her holiday – she managed plenty of digging, splashing about in rockpools, clambering over rocks (sort of), running (a little bit) and walking (miles!)



i spent an awful lot of time letting my obsessive nature run wild helping my sister collect perfect rocks for her work, and building little stonehenges.


one evening i went down at sunset to watch high tide occurring, and found this
lol henge
“some c*** has ruined me stone’enge!”
“i think some wrathful god has smited your stonehenge with an asteroid, dude”

Husband: “OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW my b*******!”
me: “mine are fine. i’m diving in”

“i can’t believe i got sunburnt yesterday, and today i’m wearing my winter coat”

happy collie
“are you happy, anakin? did you have a good holiday?”

collie driving
man in the next car: “i saw that program about border collies last night. i knew they were intelligent dogs… but i had no idea they could drive!”


79. the one where august occurred – part 2

part 2 – my birthday week! yay! (*contains more moaning)

while the all-consuming anakin thing was ongoing, august continued to race by. suddenly it was my birthday.

ani was much better by then, but loudly unhappy about being shut downstairs alone. i’m not a good sleeper at the best of times, so by then i was achieving 3 hour bursts of zzz & hadn’t left the house in weeks. i was also severely good humour deprived.
for my birthday treat mum & dad were coming to visit – the plan being to break the monotony of my pyjama dog carer days weeks… but

SURPRISE! birthday flu!

luckily, despite my fever, i had the good sense to warn my (en route) parents of contagion danger.
or i would have, if i could’ve gotten my stupid phone to work.

stupidberry 2

stupidberry 3

*** 1. ^ i thought emailing facebook screenshots to mom’s ipad was sensible.
i had a fever, remember – not just stupidity.
2. not just stupidity. honest.

is it weird to say i had a lovely birthday?

i was thoroughly spoilt by family, real life friends, internet friends … internet friends who’ve become real life friends … customers who’ve become internet friends who’ve … just so much spoiled. and all week long :)

the paradox of me, perfectly illustrated by the medium of birthday gifts.

and something from a cool little shop in belper that always has lots of odd things i covet…
metal mini

anakin approves.  (**for them’s that’s asking… metal sheep is from here sundial style )

Husband had ordered me some beautiful ceramic pieces from one of my new favourites, camila prada. but he knew they weren’t going to arrive in time, so one of his work colleagues made this to tide me over… *snorrrrrrrrrk*
crai prada

…until the good stuff arrived <333
camila prada

one of the best bits about Birthday Week, was finally leaving the house. even if i was dosed up, mildly infectious and had a box of tissues in my handbag. we went to a local pub for a lovely lunch (with fruit juice. meh) followed by – my favourite – tiramasu. i couldn’t taste ever so well, but the textures were lovely!

nipped in to buttons & bows for a fabric fix on the way home and…
(well, as of now, i have a few pieces in there. i’m pretty much done with stocking real life shops, but this is different – no faff,  just a few things made with fabrics bought from her shop, and it’s so very, very local :) )
robin sketchbook

meanwhile, dad and Husband had walked on ahead to see how anakin’d fared during her first Home Alone.
all was well! the dog that could not walk had leapt onto the couch, rooted around under the cushions, become entangled in my knitting, leapt off the couch, run around the room a bit… i wish they’d taken a photo of the devastation.
ah well, the big shredded hole in my new scarf will always remind me of Birthday 2013 :)


she does seem to like my NOT FOR DOGS knitted stuff.

78. the one where august occurred – part 1

part 1 – canine vestibular syndrome

*** i think i’ve avoided blogging because of this. i’d ignore it completely if i could, but it’s kinda impacted on everything every day since.
and i don’t want to understate How Distressing, but i’ve successfully blocked out most of my thoughts, feelings & emotions from that day, so do *brainskim* along with me, as we get it over with :) ***

way back in july, right after i last blogged, the anakin dog suddenly became very poorly.

we were heading up The North to visit my parents that day – my godparents were visiting from south africa and i was desperate to see them – the car was packed, electrical things had been ocd-checked & double checked, i was wearing clean dayclothes, we were ready to set off…
and then anakin staggered out.

she couldn’t walk, and when she tried to stand her legs kept collapsing under her. her head was tilted at a crazy angle, she was panting & drooling, and her eyes were flickering & rolling…
Husband had to carry her in to the vets and she wasn’t even arsed about the indignity of that.
i was expecting the worst.

fortunately, as soon as the vet saw her, “it’s not what you think. it’s not as bad as it looks”
like a stroke, but not a stroke (although maybe a little stroke). like the worst kind of vertigo. with nausea. inner ear somethingsomething. wordswordswords. she should make a full recovery. wordswordswords.

it was a really hot & humid day, so my sensible bit of brain knew the last thing we should do was put her in the car for a couple of hours. but rest of brain knew i couldn’t cope with sitting at home all weekend, just watching her and feeling helpless. so later on, we did go The North. anakin slept on my lap and i syringed water at her.
approx. 12 seconds after we arrived i burst into tears.

is it weird to say i had a lovely weekend?

anakin was happy to have all her people around her, we took turns lying on the floor feeding & watering her, and Husband slept downstairs so he could help her outside in a toilet emergency.
except, when i tiptoed down at 4am to check on her, they were both sleeping soundly. next to a little pile of sick. the funniest part, is that my parents only had the BRAND NEW CARPET fitted 17 days earlier. ahahahaha

accidental sick

^ it was the best i could do at 4am. sorry mom.

the next day, while the menfolk golfed, us ladies played at sewing. i made anakin these very smart carry handles…
collie carry handles

once they existed, it became a lot easier to help her walk – we used the handles to take her weight, used her collar to steer – and she was awfully pleased that i no longer had to hold her bum up while she pooped.

on the sunday, we were lucky enough to catch an impressive display by the red arrows from the comfort of my parents patio. both mom & godmom are from RAF families so that was a bit special. i didn’t have my camera to hand, but it looked a bit like this
red arrows *artists impression

home again, we covered our slidey tile floors in a jumble of carpet scraps, rugs & duvets so anakin would have purchase when she tried to walk again, and resigned ourselves to the fact we’d be living in the lounge while she needed 24 hour care. Husband and i took it in turns to sleep on the couch (i did 2 nights, he did the other 42)

head tilt

the first days were about tempting her to eat & drink – she couldn’t seem to work out where the end of her face was, so it was all by hand – everything saturated in drool, gravy & flakes of salmon. it smelt heavenly.
the weather was still being ridiculous hot, so i was cooling her down with ice packs. she was shedding great chunks of fur from the stress. it all ended up in the freezer but i didn’t even care.

improvements were gradual – her eyes stopped moving & she could lie down properly, after that she was able to sleep restfully. she could hold her head up a bit better, which meant she could drink. her appetite returned, and she was keen to get back on solid food (if i held it just right so she could bite down). she could stand up on her own, she could wobble-walk unaided. she still fell over if she tried to turn… so she realised walking backwards was sometimes safer, and that she could use her tail for balance.
she could chase cats. she could manipulate us.
but she still couldn’t go upstairs.

we fell into a new routine of no routine. getting up at 4am because she fancied a wander in the garden in the rain. getting up at 6am because she didn’t like Husband going off to work. 20 minute bursts of sewing time because she didn’t like being alone.

you've got thread on you zombie hobby horse zombie pandas

“excuse me, where are you and what are you doing? we have good games to play”
collie mong

(i had a little video to add here, to show how mobile, active, playful and happy she is now, almost 2 months on. but i was accidently in it. in my pyjamas. so, sorry internet, you cannot see.)

77. the one with the garden (and my rickety knee)

between all of the things and the sewings, i’ve been taking advantage of the continuing glorious weather, tackling loads of outside and gardening jobs.
technically, it’s probably been a bit too hot ‘n humid for stuff like digging in the full sun, but i think my south africa gene kicked in (once my very english heat rash had disappeared)

garden stuff

my garden’s still very much a work in progress, but i’m frequently frustrated and overwhelmed by it. and, like every other aspect of my life, i’m constantly berating myself for not doing enough.
which is when i bust out the old photos – just to remind myself i AM getting somewhere.

this is summer of 2007, when we first came to look at the cottage…
garden 2007

and this is the now…
garden 2013

it’s certainly much easier to get to the end of the garden now. and the hedge does not extend half way across it.

so i’ve been tinkering & weeding, repotting and relocating plants, chopping & painting… and i finally finished repointing the stone wall outside the kitchen window.

that was another stupid job – abandoned 3 years ago when sewings began to take up most of my time. and then, when i wasn’t sewing i didn’t want to “waste” my increasingly rickety wrists on it. so for 3 years, it’s been a daily visual reminder of yet something else you did not complete.
i actually didn’t even intend to mention this, but then i came across this photo of the wall as it was (in 2008), all covered in green slime and paint. grim.
wall 2008

which has allowed my stupid brain to consider this an achievement
wall 2013

well done, wrists! you did good.

we also erected (heh) some trellis above the wall ^ to screen our neighbour’s tatty old fence with future-climbers. no photo because some temporary summer insanity compelled me to paint it blue.
it’s hideous. 3 coats of brown applied (so far) to disguise it … but i’ve had to abandon that job for now…

i also fiiiiinally got all 4 chairs sanded & painted…
2 blue chairs

but all of that kneeling and crouching and digging and walking and bending proved too much for my increasingly rickety knees…


so i’ve spent most of this week relegated to the groundfloor, swollen knee elevated & icepack’d, mind-fretting about how much anti-inflammatories is safe to take whilst on anti-depressants.
the garden is still bathed in glorious however, and swarming with birds & butterflies, so it’s not the worst place to have to sit all day.

(although, i miiiiight’ve crawl-sneaked upstairs to do a little sewing…
sneaky sewing

i’m not very good at Just Sitting)

76. the one with belper food fair

now listen, right, it’s very important to bear in mind that
1. i don’t like leaving the house
2. i don’t like crowds of people
3. i really don’t like leaving the house to be amongst crowds of people
4. i especially don’t like leaving the house and being amongst crowds of people when there’s too much hot.

but i do like belper, and i do like food. and i especially like local stuff.
so yesterday i braved all of the things to attend the annual belper food fair :)

belper memorial garden 1

i’ve only ever been in the memorial gardens in november(s), so it was nice to eat my breakfast here on a glorious summer day in july. there were musicians on a stage nearby, so we sat on the grass, under a tree, and ate our (lincolnshire) ostrich burgers.

belper’s quite a small town – we’ve only got 1.5 supermarkets and one(ish) main high street – so it was pretty cool to see it packed with market stalls and people (gawd, so many people :/ ) all the way down the hill.
belper food fair king street 2

being an awesome blogger, i’d remembered to take my camera and use it.
being terrible at CROWDS OF PEOPLE, i was continually pissed off that they kept getting in the way of photos i might like to take (if i was an awesome blogger).

down a side street, (also with TOO MANY PEOPLE) was a classic cars display. i’m not interested in cars at all. but i liked this :)
delorean 3

(although marty mcfly and his grandma got in the way of all my shots)

there were very many wonderful stalls that i didn’t take photos of, but i elbowed everyone out of the way to take this – mrs bishop’s doggy deli – so i could show anakin when we got home.
mrs bishops doggy deli 4

fresh basil is one of my favourite shops in belper… but i couldn’t even get near it yesterday
fresh basil 5

as well as amazing cheeses, fancy olives, interesting chutneys and naughty meats, we bought lots of cakes… and did i mention how hot it was?… i kept everything safe in my handbag until we got home *thumbz*

after we’d spent all our pocket money, we walked home – it really was a most glorious and enjoyable day, and reminded me why i SO love living in a town that has no tesco and is not full of The Same.
home 6

for lunch, we had handbag cake and blueberry cheesecake – it was all a little squished but delicious n’ertheless
handbag cake 8

i didn’t mean to drink Husband’s beer, i only wanted a little taste because it was brewed on a farm just up the road a bit. but it was reeeeeeeally good. 3 bottles was not enough.shottle farm brewery 7

i googled them – shottle farm brewery – and after reading the “our story” bit on their website, that beer tasted eeeeeven better. need more. srs.

here is a picture of anakin forgiving us for leaving her at home / anticipating her fancy afternoon tea  (in her excitement, she walked backwards all the way from the kitchen)
anakin cake 9

i am practically walking backwards after such a brilliant week!

75. the one where C. comes to visit

on sunday, we returned from our glorious weekend away just in time to watch andy murray winning the wimbledons. the drive back had become increasingly “glorious” –  derbyshire is much closer to the equator than lincolnshire – so i was pretty much dying of hot when we got home.
but despite the wimbledons and the Too Glorious and the temptation of this,
glorious july
i had 2(ish) months of neglected housewifering to attend to real quick… because my friend C. was coming to stay! :D

the last time she visited, this occurred so we were both determined to Do Better this time. we’d planned leisurely local shoppings, girlie stuff, meals out, no passing out or alcohol-induced blackouts, romcoms, and much catch-up chat whilst sitting in the garden enjoying the glorious.
and then we actually followed through and did all of the things on our list!!!

there is usually some sort of public transport fuck up when C. visits, and this trip was no exception.
signal failure

^ signal failure in nottingham / trains delayed for hours *grump*

we had a lovely week though, doing all of the things.
i meant to document it, with smug photos of belper being glorious, of our independent shops, the variety of good places to eat… but i forgot.

the day that was slightly cloudy? that day we walked to ‘the devonshire’ on bridge street for a late lunch at their awesome carvery.
and the day that was Husband’s birthday, we drove out to…

(well, we went some other place first, but there were too many people there for my liking, and they weren’t sitting in the right place – i wanted to sit under an umbrella next to the river. also the menu was laminated and had pictures :/
“sorry you guys, i just don’t think i’m going to be able to eat here”)

… the day that was Husband’s birthday, we drove out to ‘the hanging gate’ in shottle. it was super glorious again, and we were all super relaxed (plus super starving) so we had a big lunch, and then sat out in the gardens for coffees and puddings.

hanging gate

hey, look! i remembered to take my camera!
but i was too stuffed / idle to go beyond the shade to take photos of the pretties and the countryside bathed in glorious.

for all of the other meals (including breakfasts), we mostly ate deli stuff from ‘fresh basil’. normally C. and i only have whisky (including breakfasts) so we were quite extreeeemely proud of ourselves. *proud*

all too soon though, it was yesterday already, and i had to put her on a coach to heathrow
derby coach station
in time for her flight back to south africa.

or not.heathrow shut



74. the one with dad’s birthday present

subtitle: the one with the crow road

crow road cottage

back in the olden days of black and white, when my dad was a wee boy, he used to spend time at this little cottage on the crow road in glasgow.
it was owned & run by his aunt and uncles – they had lock up garages for rent, and petrol pumps for the customers.

crow road cottage 2

when we were kids (oh, and still), dad *always* told us about the time auntie eva sent him out to serve sean connery…
there’s other stories too, part of family lore, but i promised dad i wouldn’t say on the internet due to possible libel reasons :)

sadly, their little cottage was demolished in the late 70’s to make way for Progess, but it – and its peoples – are still remembered fondly and talked about often.

for dad’s birthday present, i had the idea of commissioning kirsty elson designs to re-create the crow road cottage as one of her gorgeous little driftwood cottages… and she agreed :)

kirsty elson designssuper f***ing cute, right??!kirsty elson commissionthat was back in MARCH, so i’ve had a really hard time keeping my mouth shut about it until july!

mum & sal knew about it (obviously. because i’m not THAT good at secrets) so there was much conspiratorial lol-collaboration via the internet on some “finishing touches”

mum: “i’ve bought a ‘to scale’ model of an olden car. i’m not sure which scale though so it might be too small”
me: “i’ve made some miniature saltire bunting to drape…”
mum: “but did they even have bunting in the 50’s?”
me:  >:(

sal: “i’ve got the rowan tree for in front of the cottage. and i’ve made some driftwood petrol pumps… but i think they might be too big?”
me: “hmm… i fear your pumps’ll be towering over my teeny tiny sean connery”

miniature sean connery

last saturday was dad’s birthday, so Husband, anakin and i made the trip up north for a little family get together and deliver his special gifts…

“happy birthday dad!”

crow road

dad: “did i ever tell you about the time…”

crow road cottage 3no. 507, crow road.


73. the one with the fancy zombie – giveaway winner

first, right, can i just say thankyou SO much to everyone who entered – you’re all such good sports to reveal your dirty secrets here on the interwebs :)

i didn’t do this in any scientific way – such as counting or graphs – but it appears that the most popular celebrity crushees are barnyard cucumberpatch off of sherlock, and hans gruber off of harry potter.

hans gruber

^ dreamy <3

you lot are weird. but i’m very happy about that :)

for the draw, i wrote out everyone’s names and put them in a fancy bowl

(i ran out of same-coloured paper, but don’t worry – helper dog is both colour blind and unable to read.)


she eventually picked a winner (and by that i mean; she eventually got a bit of paper stuck to her nose. she’s really not very good at this anymore.)



the winner of the fancy pants zombie lady is…  JELLYBEANJEWELLERY

she chose jensen ackles as her no.1 crush.
(anyone who’s been reading my blog since december 13th will know jensen – as dean winchester off of supernatural – is in my top 5 obsessions. but that is PURELY COINCIDENTAL!)

well done – i’ll contact you by email soon :)
and thanks again to everyone else for such a great response, and for all the LOLs here & over on facebook!


yes thankyou too, anakin.

72. the one with the fancy zombies – giveaway now CLOSED

after a busy couple of weeks, i took a few days “off” to work on something new i’ve been wanting to get to for ages.
since march, in fact. when my sister, little black heart, had given me a new drawing to embroider.
i’d also been hoarding some beautiful hand dyed silks that caroline rose art had given me a couple of years ago, that i’d been saving for “something special”.

it may’ve taken me years months to get started on this, but once i did, i let my obsessive nature take over and spent all weekend sewing *bliss*

zombie lady purple
(embroidered canvas available here )

it’s been lovely working with silk for a change – it’s given the zombies dresses a gorgeous sheen – and i love the subtle variations in colour of caroline’s hand dyed fabric.

zombie lady pink

( 5 x 5″ canvas SOLD here )

the colour palette of the fabrics is quite muted, so for a change i used grey cotton to embroider the detail – i think it’s given them a lovely corpse-like pallor :)

zombie lady blue purple
(similar 5″ embroidered hoop available here)

and i enjoyed having a tinker with various sizes, formats & colour combinations

fancy zombies

another happy-making thing that occurred last week, was on facebook

so to say thankyou to my loyal customers and facebook likerers, i made this fancy zombie in a hoop just for you.
well, for one of you.

zombie lady blue

*** GIVEAWAY ***
now, i’ve just been so busy lately, i’ve been neglecting my tom hardy tumblr-stalkering obsession. to be in with a chance of winning this lovely zombie lady, just tell me, who is your secret celebrity crush?
don’t be embarrassed, it’ll just be between us – no one else will know, honest.

the winner will probably be chosen at random by my canine daughter, anakin.
competition closes on sunday the 23rd of june at 12 noon.
and i’ll announce the winner right here next monday morning.

thanks and good luck!

71. the one with the blood test

for someone who spends their days embroidering and applique-ing bloodspatter, i’m awfully squeamish. but then, red french knots are very different to the real thing.

i had to go for a blood test yesterday (i actually had to go a while back, but have been successfully putting it off for years days). for Normal People, it’s probably just a routine thing that they can just do, but for me it became A Thing.
a thing that involved Husband taking time off work, so that he could wake me up early (obviously i barely slept the night before), make sure i got washed & dressed (clean asylum hair, proper day clothes, underwear, shoes), and take me there in the car.
and come in with me. and show me how to take a ticket. and where i should stand. and where i would go when my number was called. and confirm that 60 still came after 59.

the waiting room was packed, mostly with over-70s, so i whispered to Husband that we should stand near the back so that they could take the chairs – even though I COULD BARELY STAND on my trembling jelly legs.

“oh fuck, Husband. *dramatic sigh* this is like my WORST THING”
“being Outside, do you mean?”
“well i actually meant Waiting, hospital, blood & needles.. but yeah”

they finally started calling people in.
Husband: “are you okay?” *sympathetic*
me: “gawwwd, imagine if the apocalypse happened right now… this would be the group of survivors we’d be lumbered with. we’re the youngest ones here! we’d have to be the ones who do all the stuff. that’s so too much pressure and responsibility for me to deal with right now”

numbers of doom

by now i was shaking (hands and legs) and sweating and my mouth was all dry and my heart was pounding, and even though my feet were carrying me down the corridor to the room marked BLOOD, the voices in my head were screeching “it’s not too late! you could still make a run for it!”

here is a photo (*artists impression) of me sitting in a comfortable chair, looking out of a large picture window at the hedgerows, trees and rolling green hills of the beautiful derbyshire countryside.blood test

also pictured, my right arm and what may or may not have been occurring BECAUSE I DID NOT LOOK.

after my traumatical surgical procedure, Husband took me home – via the chocolate eclairs aisle at morrisons – and settled me on the couch with a big mug of sweet tea.

even though i DID NOT LOOK, all afternoon, i kept reliving the moment and shuddering and whimpering and being pathetic.
at bedtime, Husband had to remove the wrapper for me because i glimpsed a smear of dried blood on my arm and the cotton wool was STUCK.
Husband: “let’s be honest, ‘zombie apocalypse survivor’ seems unlikely at times like these”

i still haven’t looked.

on the bright side,
1. i know i’ll never take up heroin as a hobby
2. i didn’t have a panic attack so my medication must be working