Sunday, 30 May 2010

Birthday Barbecue

I've had a really nice birthday today.

We went on the barbie and amazingly the sun shone but it was quite windy so not that warm. After we'd eaten, several of the blokes went off to look at a vintage lorry belonging to one of them, and then I belatedly remembered I'd got my camera, so here's a picture of a somewhat depleted party:

1 Heather's Barbecue 30 May 10

That's my friend Gisele on the left, then her mother in law Heather, whose house it was, then a very nice other guest who's name I've forgotten, and then my hubby wearing a borrowed straw hat because he forgot his own hat!

Here's me sporting my Indian suit - Gisele made me take my glasses off because they'd gone so dark you couldn't see my eyes:

2 Me at Heather's Barbecue 30 May 10

I got the Indian suit on Ebay really cheaply back before Christmas, but it hasn't been warm enough to wear it until now. It's quite thin soft material and lovely to wear. It's nice and loose so covers all my lumps and bumps lol! I think they are very flattering and feminine, and I've always enjoyed ethnic clothes. Indian fabrics are just gorgeous.

Here's a lovely one of me with Gisele - two friends! She's from Brazil and is soooo lovely!

3 Me and Gisele at Heather's Barbecue 30 May 10

She's a professional singer - a good one. She speaks 4 languages and is accomplished in so many ways! We get on so well and I'm proud to have her as my friend.

This is part of Heather's garden - I thought the stone bunny was so sweet!

4 Heather's Garden 30 May 10

This is one of Heather's chickens with her enormous brood of chickies - they're getting quite big now but still very cute:

5 Heather's Chickens 30 May 10

and here are 2 of her ducks:

6 Heather's Ducks 30 May 10

Finally, here's me posing in one of my new birthday kaftans - the red velvet one - I was a bit cold when we got home and thought I'd change into it. I've tried to hold my arms so you can see a rather nice detail: there's a little tassle hanging from each of the sleeves!

7 Red Velvet Kaftan 30 May 10

It's very luxurious and soft, and makes me feel very special when I'm wearing it! I'll get my hubby to take me in the other one soon. It's very exotic and rich looking!

I got very tired today because I didn't sleep that well last night. I could really have done without the driving today but it couldn't be helped. After the barbie we went to see a house belonging to David (Gisele's husband) which they are doing up ready for sale or reletting, and although it was very nice, and an interesting design, it was on about 4 floors with only one or two rooms on each, so it was all stairs! I was beginning to feel pretty done in by that time. When we got home I crashed on the settee and slept deeply for quite a while, and I do feel better now, although the stiff neck I developed part way through the afternoon has got worse - can't think where that came from!

It's been a lovely birthday.

Explosion Box Pt 3

Update on the Explosion Box: A friend on the Brainfog Forum suggested I sewed the folded paper spring to stop it extending too far and flopping over, so I've done that - just up 2 opposite corners. It still flops a bit and may possibly need sewing on all 4 sides, but I think it's acceptable. Here's a picture of it lying on its side to show the stitching:

06 Sunflower Popup Sewn

I haven't done a lot on the box itself as I've spent most of the time cutting out some new unmounted rubber stamps and sticking them on adhesive foam ready for use with perspex blocks. This is an extremely arduous task which has made my hands very tired - cutting the self-adhesive foam is also extremely sticky and made a mess of my scissors! I cleaned them off very successfully with StazOn cleaner. (That's quite funny - it doesn't stay on when you clean it lol! - it's the StazOn brand - the cleaner is to clean StazOn ink off stamp pads! Sorry - just the way my mind works... It's a solvent for alcohol-based inks and I thought it would deal with non-water based glue too, and it did very well.)

Here's a picture to show the extra bits I've put on the box:

05 Outer Box - Further Work Done

It's a good thing my friend is away at the moment as I'm terribly behind with this project and there's no way I could finish it in time for the actual birthday!

We've got quite a busy day tomorrow and I may not do anything on this project - I'll see how I am after we get back from the barbecue we're going to.

Views from Shoshi's Settee - My Birthday

It's now after midnight (2 a.m. to be precise!) so it's officially my birthday!!!!!

My hubby went out to a barbecue tonight - I cried off as I was pretty tired, it was raining which makes it difficult with my Rolls Royce (wheelchair) and when we went to those people before it was very noisy and I didn't really know anyone. They were very nice, but it was just too much effort to invest in something like that.

We are going to friends for a barbecue tomorrow anyway. Last time we went it rained, and the forecast isn't good for tomorrow... Well, what do you expect? It's a Bank Holiday weekend and it always rains on Bank Holidays!

Anyway, I shall enjoy my birthday!

When my hubby got back this evening, since it was actually my birthday by then, he gave me my presents. Yes, presentSSSS! Plural!!! The kitties and the teddies gave me some choccies (Lindor - I love those!) and my hubby has given me not one, but two, beautiful new kaftans. They are actually Middle-Eastern abayas. One is very dark brown chiffony material over a creamy-beige lining which shows through slightly, and it is covered with the most glorious embroidery with tiny hologram sequins which reflect the light. I do love my bling!! The other one is dark red (my favourite colour) velvet, also with beautiful embroidery. I haven't tried them on yet but they look nice and big - they should be quite baggy. I spend a lot of time wearing kaftans as I find it hard to get up in the mornings, and always get dressed after breakfast. If someone comes to the door I feel better wearing a kaftan than a dressing gown - mid-morning I feel as if I ought to have my hair in curlers and have a fag hanging out the corner of my mouth if I'm still in my night things! If I'm in a kaftan I do at least look dressed even if it's covering a multitude of sins! They are lovely and comfortable to wear (the kaftans, not the sins!) and they really suit my style and personality. I've always loved ethnic clothes.

When I can get some photos taken, I'll post them.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Explosion Box Pt 2

Today I've made real progress on the explosion box which I am making for my friend's 80th birthday. This picture shows how far I've got:

01 Outer Box Begun

This is the outer box as it will be when "exploded," i.e. when you take the lid off. The sides fall flat, exposing different designs on each flap. Each of these flaps has a piece of card stock glued round 3 sides, with the top being open - I am going to make a tiny card to go in each one, probably with pop-ups or other moveable features, and probably a little greeting on each. I am in the process of decorating each of these flaps. The outside will have panels adhered - I have ordered a Spellbinders Nestabilities set of rectangles which I hope will come in time, so that each panel will have an embossed frame.

This next picture shows the central feature, which is a pop-up 3-D sunflower, like a jack-in-a-box. I've had a lot of trouble with this. Originally I intended using a metal spring to make it pop up, but couldn't find anything suitable. Eventually a google search on how to make a jack-in-a-box produced the folded paper mechanism. The trouble is, to make it pop up high enough, it is far too bendy, and the sunflower flops over. To counteract this, I've enclosed the bottom of it in a square tube made of card stock and decorated with drawn and applied leaves. It still flops a bit and I'm not sure what do do about that, if anything. It may be better when the whole thing is assembled.

02 Sunflower Popup

The final two shots show the sunflower temporarily in place.

03 Outer Box with Sunflower in Place

04 Outer Box with Sunflower in Place

Attached inside the outer box will be another box, set at 45 degrees to the outer one, so that when its sides fall outwards, they will occupy the spaces between the outer box's flaps. They will of course be smaller. They will also have little compartments for tiny greetings cards. Surrounding the central sunflower will be several acetate strips cut from an Easter egg pack, on the end of which small paper flowers will be attached. These will be springy, and will dance about as the box explodes open.

I am planning to decorate the top of the lid with some embossing, and some paper flowers. I found a lovely pack of flattish pink and mauve paper flowers with a few leaves, slightly embossed and very pretty, in the card-making shop the other day, and I'm also planning to make one bigger flower, and these will decorate one corner, and incorporate a small tag with my friend's name on it. I am hoping the weight of the flowers will keep the lid on, against the pressure of the pop-up sunflower underneath - if not I shall embed some flat metal washers in the design somewhere hidden out of sight to give it some weight. I may also put some in the base to give the whole card enough weight so that the lid can be lifted without having to hold the box, thus allowing it to explode freely. Not having made one before, I'm not yet sure how it's going to perform.

I'll try and put on some more photos as I make further progress.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Cuttlebug Machine and Explosion Box Pt 1

I have been looking forward to a forage into Totnes for over a week - and managed it today. My hubby was out all day so I didn't have any deadlines to be back for meals etc. I met a friend in town and we had a cappuccino together, and then I Let Myself Loose in the fabby fabby card making shop we've got - I usually try and keep away, or tie my credit card in a big knot before going anywhere near it as it's such a big temptation!

I've been thinking of getting a cutting and embossing machine, and have done a bit of research online, and had more or less decided I'd get a Spellbinders Wizard, but wanted to see it (and possibly some other machines) in action before committing myself, and was sure our local shop could help.

The man who runs it is extremely knowledgeable and I thought in the first instance that I'd ask him what he thought about which machine was best. I told him I was thinking of getting a Spellbinders Wizard, and he immediately said, "I wouldn't recommend it. I do stock them, and I've sold 5, and 2 of those came back! I've sold over 300 Cuttlebugs. I can show you them if you like." I did like, so he got the shop's Cuttlebug out and showed me how it worked, and I had a go myself. It was soooo easy and the results were stunning! I didn't feel it necessary to see the Wizard after that, especially after what he'd said. He said he thought the Cuttlebug was best, and was cheaper than the Wizard too. He confirmed that all the dies are interchangeable, so I'd be able to use the nestabiltiies etc. with it. I'd only gone in for advice, and came out with a Cuttlebug!!!

I am absolutely thrilled with it. One feature which practically sold it to me was a super little design extra - it's very compact when folded, and when you fold the 2 platforms down, they automatically activate a suction plate on the bottom so the machine doesn't move! Somebody's really thought about it...

While I was in there I stocked up on quite a few things. I've started a rather ambitious project for my special friend in Plymouth who shares the same birthday as me - this year she's 80. I've decided to make her a combined present and card, in the form of an "explosion box" with loads of fun things in it. I've decided to put a pop-up sunflower in the centre, which will jump up like a jack-in-the-box when you take the lid off, and I've spent all evening making it! I've been trying to find a spring to make it work, without success, and eventually looked up "how to make a jack-in-the-box" on Google, and found a very ingenious "spring" made of folded paper strips which is brilliant, but it bends too much. I've enclosed the bottom part in a tube to support it, and I'll decorate that with leaves, I think.

I embossed the brown centres of the 3 sunflowers with my new Cuttlebug (Swiss dots design) and they look great!

The theme of the box is flowers, because she loves her little garden. I'm going to attach some flowers on strips of acetate (cut from old Easter egg packaging) which will wave about when the box opens, and there will be pockets on the various flaps of the box, which will have little tiny pop up cards and fun messages in them. The colour scheme is mostly pinks and greens.

I was also absolutely delighted to find on Ebay the other day, a large set of rubber stamps of varying designs, and stamp pads and a few other odds and ends, in a nice carrying/storage case. I reckon the whole thing was probably worth over £50 and I won it for £6!!! It's now on its way. I've not done much in the way of stamping, and am very keen to get going with it.

After my busy day in town (which ended with a weekly food shop in Morrisons) and spending all evening working on Pam's box, I'm feeling on a bit of a high, and hope I haven't overdone it - I need to be on good form tomorrow because we're going out for a meal with my mum and dad.

I'll keep you posted with the progress of the box, and post some photos too. Meanwhile, here's a photo of another card I made back in 2005:

Norma's 70th Birthday Card
It was for another special friend from where we used to live, when she was 70. As you can see, it's quite "3-D." I love butterflies.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Golden Wedding Card

No new photos today, but here's one I did a while back:

Ann & Nigel's Golden Wedding Card

It was for the golden wedding of a couple we know. He plays the organ and conducts, and she plays the double bass. Both have been professional musicians (now retired). I printed out several images (keyboard, double bass, music background) and overlaid the background with translucent parchment paper, on which I printed a monogram of their initials in my desk top publisher, and then embossed it in gold.

Edit: If you go here, you can see the card I made for their diamond wedding, ten years on.

Today I was absolutely thrilled, because I bid on Ebay for a set of stamps, stamp pads and blocks, all in a storage/carry case, probably worth something in the region of £5o - and I won it for £6! There will be lots of useful stuff in there.

I also made a discovery, that there is an amazing kit available, for making your own rubber stamps, from your own designs. You can print them out on the computer and then use the kit to transform them into stamps. The substance comes in a sachet, and is light-sensitive. You set it up under a lamp and time the exposure, and the print you made lets light through or prevents light getting through, according to the design. You can even make your own embossing dies. I have simply got to give this a try! Here's a link to the site:

Looks like a lot of fun, doesn't it.

Take Me to Your Leader!

Quite a busy day as I had to take my hubby to the hospital today - he suffers from sleep apnoea and needed to take his temporary CPAP machine back and get a new one. He's been using it for a week and they were able to take the information stored on its computer chip and they say he's doing really well. He's now got the new one, which incorporates a water tank which will deliver the pressurised air warmed and moistened, so he doesn't get so dry. Isn't technology wonderful? He hasn't snored for a week! He's still quite sleepy during the day and is not allowed to drive until that improves.

A while back I got some "benders" - hair curlers that you twist together in your hair - and my hubby said I looked like Medusa, the character from Greek mythology who had snakes for hair, and who turned you to stone if you looked at her! Charming... I told my friends on the Brainfog forum about this and they were very amused, and asked that I post a photo of the 2 of us in our new night attire - here it is! (If you're frightened of being turned to stone, look away now.)

Nicholas and Me with Frightening Night Attire

Ha ha ha!!! (Someone said, "And they say romance is dead...") It's our 24th wedding anniversary today and despite our somewhat unorthodox appearance, we're still together lol!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Views from Shoshi's Settee - Template Success!

Today I made my hubby an anniversary card (see my Handmade Cards post) and then again tried to "pretty up" my blog. I managed it eventually as you can see - with Renee's help (thanks Renee!) but it did mean resizing all my photos so the edges weren't cut off. A lot of work, but worth it. I've discovered another beautiful template which I'm contemplating trying, so this blog is still in a State of Flux!

Goodness, this is a steep learning curve. Still, it will be worth it in the end.

Here's a photo for today - another Dawlish one.

Dawlish Beach 2

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Anniversary Card

It's our 24th wedding anniversary on 24th May, and I've made this card for my hubby. It's made of layered card and paper, with little red heart sequiny things and glitter glue for decoration. I did the text on the computer and then cut it out. Inside is a double-spiral heart pop-up made of red card.

N's Anniversary Card 22-5-10

N's Anniversary Card 22-5-10 Inside

Hope he likes it!!

Views from Shoshi's Settee - Still Trying to Change Template!

A better day health-wise today and I was able to finish last week's ironing before I got swamped with another lot! I also did the monthly accounts and transferred some money into my hubby's account - long overdue - should have been done at the beginning of the month! However, being away on holiday and then being so poorly, I couldn't get my head round anything quite so complicated until the fog lifted a bit.

Renee has sent me lots of links to pretty up my blog but so far I can't make it work. I've got the idea how to put them in, but they don't suit the layout I need in order to prevent the sides of my photos being cut off. There seem to be masses of 3-column layouts, but not so many 2-column ones, and very few stretched ones. So I'm sticking with "plain" till I can get something sorted! Renee has been so kind helping me. Thanks Renee!!

Here's another of my Dawlish pics that I took on that day in January.

Dawlish Jetty 2

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Views from Shoshi's Settee - Trying to Change Template!

Not too much of a "view" today because my eyes have been shut for quite a bit of today - I was asleep! After a bath this morning and putting clean sheets on the bed I'm zonked... also very foggy brain-wise... (goes with the territory with ME unfortunately).

Renee of Glow Acadamy blog (which I've just started to follow) is very kindly helping me change my template from this rather boring one to something much prettier and more exciting - if I can get the ole' foggy brain round what to do lol! I'd like it to reflect my creative and crafty nature. Let's wait and see what she comes up with!

I'm already starting to make friends on here. Wish I'd done blogging years ago. I can see it's going to be a lot of fun.

A piccie for today:

Dawlish Beach Huts 1 Greyscale

Beach huts at Dawlish, Devon. I took this back in January. Someone on the Brainfog forum suggested I made the photo black and white except for the beach huts, which I did, and it looks great! I love the seaside in the winter. I've got this photo as my desktop wallpaper at the moment.

Hope you've all had a good day today, filled with blessings.

Views from Shoshi's Settee - Giving Thanks

I've done another Polyvore picture today - "The Opera Goer," which you can find at the bottom of the Polyvore post. Some more glamour! These are lovely to create when energy levels are low, but the creative juices are running high!

My hubby came home this evening after a few days away and I gave him his card (hand-made cards post) - he loves it. What a relief! It took me days to make!

God is good. He has given me so many gifts for which to be thankful. A husband of nearly 24 years' marriage, who loves and cares for me. Two beautiful kitties and a lovely home and garden. Parents who are fit and well and extremely independent, despite being in their late 80s. A nice, friendly village community. One of the most beautiful areas of countryside in which to live. Friends near and far - some of whom I've never met, being Internet friends. My creativity, computer skills and an eye for beauty, which all give me joy. All the technology at my fingertips which add pleasure and enrichment to my life. Appreciation of science, music and art. The time to enjoy all these things because of my enforced immobility. Above all, my salvation and my relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

SatNav Waterfall Album Card

It's my hubby's birthday today, and because he had his present early (the SatNav, "Mrs. Tom Tom," I wanted to do something special so he'd have something nice on the day. I've been looking at paper folding projects recently, and decided to make him a waterfall mini-album - if anyone's interested in seeing how to make one, just put "waterfall mini-album" in the Youtube Search, and there are lots of different ones.

Here are the pictures I've taken of the finished card. If you read my Kent holiday posts, you'll understand what all the messages on the pages mean! Unfortunately the photos have exaggerated a banding effect from the printer (one of the cartridges may be running low or need cleaning - it doesn't show nearly as much in real life.)

This is the front cover. I cut out a printed picture of a TomTom and altered the name on the front! This little picture is attached by those foam stickies that hold it away from the surface (can't remember what they're called).

Card Cover

The following pictures show the mini-album after each page is turned.

Card Page 1

Card Page 2

Card Page 3

Card Page 4

Card Page 5

Card Page 7
I tried to make a video of it opening and closing but needed more than 2 hands to do it! If I rigged it on a tripod it would work.

My hubby hasn't see it yet as he gets back this evening from a few days away. I'll let you know what he thinks of it!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Views from Shoshi's Settee - M.E.

Someone on the Brainfog forum has just posted a link to a trailer for a new film which is coming out about ME. This short clip describes the scandal that is the treatment of ME and how sufferers are being victimised, ignored, not taken seriously, denied any proper treatments, find it hard to get benefits etc., and the national scandal of the biomedical evidence being ignored in favour of a psychiatric paradigm.
Here's the video.

ME Promo from Double D Productions on Vimeo.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

My Polyvore Images

Just in case you don't know, Polyvore is a website with lots of pictures of fashion, makeup, jewellery etc. etc. - you can click on the images and it tells you where you can get the items. It also has a great additional feature - if you click on the button marked "Create" it takes you to a window that you can drag and drop the images into. You can resize them, rotate them, and arrange them in front or behind each other. This is a marvellous outlet for creativity, especially if you don't have much energy to do anything more than be on the computer!

A friend on the Brainfog Forum introduced me to this. I follow her blog (Vanillalemoncake) and if you go there you can see her Polyvore images - she's really good at it!

I did these about a year ago. The first is entitled “Turquoise Flowers.”

Fashion Trends & Styles - PolyvoreShoshi's Turquoise Flowers

“Cocktail Glasses.”
Cocktail Glasses
“Golden Table Decoration.”
Golden Table Decoration
Here are some more I did today (19th May 2010): the first is entitled "Come into the Garden, Maud." I wanted to get a romantic, almost pre-Raphaelite feel with this one, and perhaps provoke a story to develop in one's imagination:
Come into the Garden, Maud
This one reflects my love of all things bling, entitled “I Love Sparkle.”
I Love Sparkle

Added 20th May 2010: the first one is entitled “The Opera Goer.”
The Opera Goer

This is “The Garden.”


Friday, 14 May 2010

Views from Shoshi's Settee - Our Garden and Kitties

Well, here I am on the settee.

I spend a great deal of time on my settee because I suffer from M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and need to rest a lot. It is a really lovely settee with a recliner seat so I can get my legs up. Let's start with the literal view I have from my settee (particularly nice now because the Clematis montana is out and looking so beautiful):

Clematis Montana 1 May 2010

Usually I have one of my 3 laptops on my lap, a nice fleecy blanket over my legs, and a kitty on my legs, but sometimes both kitties compete for room. I often have to fight them off or they start typing on the keyboard.

Here they are - no room for the laptop at all:

Beatrice & Phoebe on my Lap, May 2010

That's Beatrice up close, and Phoebe beyond.

I'm brand new at this blogging lark and still groping around in the dark a bit - it isn't exactly user friendly, and in many ways it's downright over-complicated, and I've spent hours today on various help forums trying to work out how it all functions, and a great deal of it has been trial and error. (C'mon Blogger - could do better, perhaps, for newbies? I wouldn't exactly consider myself computer illiterate, either...)

I'm not sure if I shall post every day - depends on how I'm feeling and if there's anything to say!

Random Jottings

Quirky and intriguing thoughts that cross my path...

"There’s speculation, there’s speculation squared, and there’s cosmology." (Heard quoted on the TV drama "Numbers." Origin unknown.)

...a propos of which, (on the subject of dark matter supposedly being to blame for a decrease in the earth's orbit around the sun): "Speculation Squared: So, a poorly characterized phenomenon is explained, imperfectly, as the effect of a poorly defined and ill-tested hypothetical explanation for another poorly characterized phenomenon. Isn't it dark so far up in there? " (Technology Review blog comment.)

"Music is in the air - you simply take as much as you require." — Edward Elgar

Cats leave paw prints on your heart. (Blog comment signature.)

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays. — Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (trans. Fitzgerald)

I wish I was a glow worm,
A glow worm's never glum.
'Cos how can you be grumpy
When the sun shines out your bum.

If the Bible is true and there was a worldwide flood, we would expect to find evidence of its occurrence. As Ken Ham (President, Answers in Genesis USA says, we should find "millions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth." And surprisingly, we find "millions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth." (Creation Science Evangelism,

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Our Kent Holiday–Day 11: Our Return Home

Today we returned home. We set off in reasonable time and made good progress. We stopped in the village of Wylie in Wiltshire for a pub lunch. This village is absolutely exquisite, and I managed to take quite a few pictures. All the houses and cottages are full of character, and many are made of stone and flint in a chequer-board pattern.

05 White House with Wisteria

07 Chequerboard Flint House

You can see on the end of this cottage the very pretty chequer-board design in the stone. This is a close-up of it:

08 Chequerboard Flint Detail

(I love photographing things like this!)

09 Timber-Framed House

This is the view out of the church door. I love the house opposite - that chequer-board pattern again:

16 View from Church Door 

There was more chequer-board stonework on the outside of the church:

19 Church Wall Flint Chequerboard Detail

This is some lichen growing on a tombstone, which makes such gorgeous swirling patterns and such subtle colours:

20 Gravestone Lichen Detail

Finally, there was a lady in the church doing the flowers, and she recommended that we took a little detour before getting back on the main road, and to drive up the hill out of the village where there was a beautiful bluebell wood:

22 Wiltshire Bluebell Wood

We arrived home in the early evening to a rapturous welcome from two kitties who must have given us up for lost after 10 days of no spoiling, no treats, and no cuddles!

What a wonderful holiday we have had. With so much beauty on our doorsteps, why does anyone need to go abroad for their holidays? I am so grateful that we live in such a beautiful country, with so much variety close at hand and easily accessed. Thank you to everyone we encountered on our holiday who made it so special for us - workers and volunteers in all the venues we visited, and especially to our bed and breakfast hosts who provided us with the Full English fuel needed to sustain us throughout the day - including a perfect fried egg every morning! Who could ask for more?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed it.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Our Kent Holiday–Day 10: Walmer Castle

We've had a real adventure today, our last day. As I thought last night, my hubby had decided to go to Walmer Castle today, the home of the Wardens of the Cinque Ports, and it was a very, very good choice for our final day. On the way, we visited a windmill at Deal:

07 Deal Mill

and had lunch in a lovely country pub in a village with the delightful name of Ripple. We then went on to Walmer, a beautiful quadrifoil Tudor castle with a lot of emphasis on the Duke of Wellington - you can even see a pair of his original "wellies" there! The gardens are simply magnificent.

47 The Moat

Here's one of me on the bridge leading into the castle:

67a Me on Bridge - N 

There's a special walled garden, "The Garden of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother" and I bought a postcard showing her sitting in it. Lovely. When we went in, I could just imagine how she must have loved it. It was a very beautiful, peaceful place with lovely proportions, and well-planted. There were also some stone urns planted with flowers, including heather, to remind Her Majesty of her Scottish home.

52 Seat in Queen Mother's Garden

Up the middle is a rectangular pond, at the top of which is a sort of pavilion.

59b Me in Queen Mother's Garden - N 

There were goldfish in the pond, and some water lilies. As you can see, it was a nice sunny day and everything looked lovely as a result.

There is an avenue of extraordinary "sculpted" yew hedges which we found fascinating:

69 Looking Back between Sculpted Yew Hedges 

This is the gate out of the garden:

81 Iron Gate 

On our way there, we took a particular route from our B & B which we'd taken a few times before, and each time we were very intrigued by a modern building which seemed to be in process of construction, behind a waterworks building, and we thought perhaps it was new headquarters being built or something - the waterworks building was a typical 1930s red brick edifice. This morning we stopped in a layby and photographed it from the road:

01 The Lime Works

(this was taken with the zoom so it's really quite a bit further away) and my hubby said, "Let's go up and see what it's all about." We drove past the red brick building and found a locked gate and a "beware of the dog" sign which didn't look too hopeful, and a large Alsatian dog came up barking, and then a man appeared, and came down. We got out and smiled at him, and said how intrigued we were etc. He said it was a private house that he and his partner were renovating. His partner was out, but would be back later if we wanted to call in on our return, which we said we would.

He told us that it was a water treatment plant which had fallen into disrepair, and after a lot of battles with the planners they were allowed to do it up - now the planners are asking permission to send people to see it because it shows what can be done with derelict buildings in Kent!!!

We got back there at about 5.30, and they were both there, and they invited us to drive up. It is still a bit of a building site, but the windows are in, and they are making very good progress. The partner said "Come in and I'll show you around." Of course, it was all totally unsuitable for the Rolls Royce so I went round this 5-storey huge house on my crutches - quite an ordeal but more than made up for by the sheer beauty and wonder of it all. My hubby and I both adore Art Deco and this place certainly didn't disappoint - it was like an ocean liner: white, clean lines, lots of curves and fabulous shapes and shadows which changed wherever you moved. There was a vast full-height atrium between what had originally been two cylindrical water tanks, and they've left various bits of its industrial past which added character. Vast areas of glass, spiral staircases, ciruclar rooms... They already had certain items of furniture in, which you can imagine were very stylish and totally in keeping with the place. When it is finished it will have absolutely the last word in mod-cons, with a library, cinema, gym, sauna, jacuzzi, roof garden, and --- wait for it --- a roof-top swimming pool! It was absolutely to die for, a real fantasy dream house!

They asked us not to photograph anything, because it was their private house, which we respected, of course; the photos we did take were before we went up the drive, and which we took from the road, which is open to anyone to view. They were so generous in sharing it with us. We felt extremely privileged that they had agreed to show us round, when we had simply turned up as total strangers who expressed an interest. They said do come back when it's finished! I think I should faint away with the beauty of it - it was amazing enough in its present state!

This was an unexpected bonus at the end of our holiday and I'm still reeling from the incredibleness of it.
The trouble is, of course, after all that traipsing around and up and down goodness knows how many stairs, I am suffering from it big time now, and my arms were really bad when we first got back after all that crutch walking, but they seem better now, but boy it was worth it! I'd do it all again five minutes from now if we were invited, even if it put me in bed for a year!

Well, that's it for our hols for another year, unless we stop and get any photos tomorrow. I hope you've enjoyed sharing our hols with us - it's been tremendous fun for me doing this each day, and so lovely to have Nilly and E's input too! What a truly wonderful holiday it's been. For anyone reading this who lives in or near Kent, you live in a beautiful part of the world and it's been marvellous experiencing it.

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