Monday, 29 June 2009

Travel Trip Update

Our trip through the tunnel was a good one and on arrival in France we decided to drive just over the border and visit the Belgian coast as the base for our break. We live near the sea and so we've never normally stayed in seaside places when we go away, but this time we thought "seaside".

We opted for De Panne, just over the French border and a seaside resort. It turned out to be an interesting town, full of contradictions. The buildings along the wide white beach were mostly blocks of holiday flats..a bit like Spain..going for volume, but the streets behind it reminded me of Blackpool without the funfair!! The whole town was like that...almost like different places depending on which streets you walked...a real mix, but fun exploring. Market place, shopping boutiques, seaside stuff, you name it they seem to have it all in this one small town.

One of the interesting things about Belgium is they have two languages, French and Flemish. It just depends what area of the country you are in as to which language people speak. As De Panne is a holiday town a lot of the people speak both, plus English and a few speak German. It is lovely to just sit and listen to people around you and hear so many different languages and dialects all in the one place. You really feel like your watching the world go by...or at least listening to it!!

The beach was lovely, wide white and clean. So, after checking into our hotel we decided to take a stroll. The tide was out and a large sand bar was available as a second promenade and even although it was early evening, we walked for miles, taking in the peace and fresh air. What a beautiful sight, seeing the sun reflected on the sea and watch the light get less and less as the sun slipped silently away.


Our hotel, the Hotel Royal, is a family run hotel. The owner/manager is a lovely, friendly young lady who took over running the place on her father's death. She is the fourth generation of her family to run it...and she is doing a wonderful job. The rooms have all mode cons, but atmosphere of the place is of a gentler less frantic time. I could imagine the hotel in the 1920's, 40's and 50's, full of respectable Belgian's drinking coffee in the "tea room", or sedately eating breakfast in the dinning room.

We were on the second floor and had a balcony which I was slightly scared was VERY narrow and it was a long way down....I hate heights!! I did sit on it but I preferred the ground floor terrace..coward that I am. I went out to grab a quick photo or two and then scuttled back in!! It did appeal to some though as when we came back in on Saturday afternoon, we found two young men were sitting on our balcony enjoying a drink and the sun. It seems they came through the emergency exit that leads on to it and thought they would just stay and enjoy the view. DH explained the balcony came with our room and they moved find an other unoccupied balcony I expect, lol!!


The only thing I did missed was a kettle in the room, but in Belgium it seems that people prefer to promenade and visit the terraces and plentiful cafes where they can watch the world go by as they sip. I have to admit we did a fair bit of watching the world go by ourselves but we had a multitude of bottles of water for those dry moments in our room. Perhaps the Belgians are also shrewd enough to know that if you have no kettle they can sell you the coffee...or perhaps they feel that good coffee can't be made in your room...who knows.

We only ate breakfast at the hotel and then we had fun picking places to snack or eat dinner in. Being a seaside town, fish and shell fish were on the menu everywhere. Mussels were the big thing, done to various recipes....some with lots of garlic...yummy!!The sea front promenade has space for cycles and carts of all sizes not to mention the scores of people who appeared at the weekend for what turned out to be a holiday weekend locally.

As our break was short we didn't want to spend all the time driving but we did spend Friday walking around Bruges to visit some of our favourite places. The temperature was around 30 degrees in the morning and very hot for wandering around, so we sat in the shade in a park and watched the water flow by when the going got too over powering. What is it about water that is so soothing?




But by afternoon, when we were driving back to De Panne the rain arrived and cleared the air, leaving a newly washed feel to everything.

Saturday morning brought the sun back after a misty start and again the temperature soared to the high 20's. Saturday was a special day for the town, a Braderie, and so there was a street market, brass bands and all the shops had 30% off..a sale!! We walked and jostled in the crowds and then ate and walked some more on the sand bar. The day flew by and soon that sun was setting again and I was yawning wide!! Tired but happy I fell into my bed.

Sunday morning we ate our fill on the standard continental breakfast, fruit salad, rolls, French bread, cheese, ham, jams, croissants, jam, get the picture..I'm a pig!! Feeling a little over stuffed, we headed for the patisserie and after buying some of our favourite breads set of back into France and the tunnel under the sea. Mind you, it still takes three and a half hours to get home after we get to Dover, so it was afternoon before we rolled up at our front door.

I felt tired and refreshed at the same time...have you ever felt like that...or is it just me? Strange as usual!!

Well, I'm off now but I'll be back tomorrow with a little goodie for you all and some more pictures. Take care until then.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Crazy Cats

Today's post is about cats, crazy cats or crazy owners..depending how you look at it. I've got a cat myself, plain old black and white, nothing fancy but cute. I am certainly looking at him in a different light after receiving an email from my friend Su yesterday.

The email was about having your cat heard right...your cat painted!! Some of the colourful creations cost up to $15,000 and the worst part is they need to be done every 3 months as the cat's fur grows out. Imagine up to $60,000 a year for a colourful cat!! I complain about the basics...and I can just picture my DH face if I told him I had had the cat painted, lol...especially at that price.

Have at look at some of the pictures she sent in the email. What do you think? Can you think of some fantastic design for your moggy?


Goldfish Cat 


Skunk Cats?


Scary Skeleton Cats


Tartan Cat


Femme Fatal Cat

Okay enough of cats...on to the last part of this weeks kit, My Little Garden.


You can download the last part of My Little Garden, Day 5 here

Have a wonderful weekend and see you Monday!!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

France Here I Come

Yippee!! I'm off to France today..... but I made sure that my posts for today and tomorrow were done before I went. Hopefully I got it right and things will run smoothly in my absence...fingers crossed.

Take a look at the gorgeous layout that Bettina sent me of her granddaughter Lili using "My Little Garden". I love that photo, it really made me smile...the expression is priceless!! The mat behind the photo is really clever too, I love the effect, almost like it was tipped and was 3D. Thank you Bettina for sharing it and your talent.



I talk of my long suffering DH often and he has never made an appearance on my blog....till now!! So, I thought I would finally give him an airing and post an other photo from graduation day...but I hope he doesn't see it!! He is not really keen on making public appearances in my he's normally camera shy. So,'s our secret!



Now your patience will be rewarded with Day 4 of My Little Garden.


You can download Day 4 here

Check back tomorrow for the last part, Day 5 of the kit. Have fun and be good!!


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Hurray for Charlotte!!

The graduation was a great success yesterday and a great time was had by all. Lots of proud smiles and camera clicking as parents and friends of the graduates snapped away. I struggled along with my new camera and yes, I really wished that I'd had more time to practice with it, but yesterday was the day, so I just clicked and hoped!

There was many a tear that slid silently down a mother's cheek as her offspring walked up for their it should be. I was one of those proud mothers, admittedly no tears but a huge smile! I must have looked like a Cheshire Cat, lol.

The day was a real family one for Charlotte, she had her other half, parents, a grandparent and sibling all there to clap her on..and yes, Lilly was there too. Charlotte wanted her to take part as it was a family affair and that's how we do things. Luckily there was a Family Room for children to go to with a large screen showing the ceremony and Lilly went in there for the duration. But afterwards, that girl really rocked. She almost stole her momma's show!! The little madam!! Thank goodness for her reins. I felt a bit like we had a runaway horse on the other end. I think she thought the day was for her benefit not the graduates.

Yes, Lilly wore her favourite green and brown dress..we need to get her an other in these colours before she wears this one to death!! Even at this age Lilly has her likes and dislikes, plus she seems to be influenced by the colour of the things around her and what she wears.

It made me think about how the magic of colour can work on our mood, like soothing green, rousing red and tranquil blue. Think of a gray wet day and a warm sunny day...the first makes us feel inclined to feel a bit under par and the sunny day makes us bounce!!

Yesterday the graduates all wore their black gowns and mortar boards but the audience was a multitude of colours. It was celebration time..mind you that theory breaks down with what I was wearing, lol!! Trust me to be awkward!!! But really colour does influence our mood and how we feel.

Here's a photo of three generations on the day, me, Charlotte and Lilly..taken by my DH yesterday. I HATE having my photograph taken...but needs must on a day like this. I look like the camera is going to bite me...worried look or what!! Note the hand ready to grab Lilly's reins if she bolted!!


Well, my news for today is that tomorrow I am off to France/Belgium until Sunday. But don't worry, the last two parts of My Little Garden will appear on schedule each day for the rest of the week.  Thank you's great how I can set it up to post them on schedule whilst I'm gone.

Now to the good stuff!!


If your collecting "My Little Garden" you can download Day 3 here

So have fun and take care.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Graduation Day Is Here!!

Well, it's the big day and we leave very soon for Oxford. Everyone is dressed and ready. My mum is here and we are organised....I hope. Most importantly the camera is ready to catch the moment.

Last night I thought I would try to colour my hair and get rid of some gray...not a lot of gray...I don't have gray hairs, I have "lighter ones", lol. This was not really one of my best ideas, the night before a big event...more to the point I don't normally do this myself. If ever I have my hair coloured I leave it to someone who knows what they are doing, or should I say I normally do. But, what the heck it wouldn't be me if I didn't cause chaos, so off I went to the bathroom, bottles in hand.

It is ever so easy (or so the box told me), just mix a bottle of stuff with a tube of stuff. Simple!!! Well, it was until my DH looked in the bathroom and said "Oh my god, what are you doing?". After a brief explanation he really started to look worried!! I have to admit that the dark brown ring around my face did look rather alarming...but, it's like I told him "Trust me". He still didn't look convinced.

"it's easy...they say shampoo it in and leave it"...I assured him. The problem is that they don't mean shampoo it in..they mean just add to dry hair and rub. It took me a while to work that one out. I had visions of adding water..or shampoo, but I did get the hang of it eventually. It was a messy business and my poor DH was so concerned that my ears would stay a dark brownish colour....or worse still that my hair would go that colour! Poor man. What was he worrying about, we were going to the graduation of a young lady who had pillar box red, green and turquoise hair in her younger days...she wouldn't even think it was strange if I turned up with my hair a delicate shade of green.

The irony is that after all the fuss and bother of doing one has noticed the difference!!!! Not a word of comment and DH is steering clear of the subject and his near panic attack, lol!

Well, I need to go and get travelling. Have a wonderful day and don't forget to collect Day 2 of My Little Garden.


You can download Day 2 here

I'll let you know tomorrow how it goes today. So, fingers crossed that everyone manages to be in the right place at the right time. They have been warned!!

Monday, 22 June 2009

An Other Year Gone!!

First, the good news, Chris survived his boys trip to Amsterdam! He was a little pale and slightly wrecked looking when he first got back...but youth is a wonderful thing and his recovery was fast. Me, I would have suffered for at least a week but he bounced back like a bungee cord. After a couple of days catchup on his sleep he is already planning his next adventure.

The last week has flown by. My DH is on holiday from work and so we have been doing things together for a not much work done!! Ok, I'll be honest almost no work done!!! It's been fun things like a trip to the sea with Lilly, eating out and shopping, not to mention Father's Day and yet an other birthday for me!

An other year is gone and an other candle added to the towering inferno that I called a birthday cake. I'm surprised that it didn't just melt clean away with all those candles!! It was almost a fire extinguisher job, but I puckered up and blew like a hurricane and after a few gasps..they were out....well, almost all out. Just the odd rebel who refused to surrender, that sound familiar!!

This week is packed full of excitement too as lots of things happening. We start with Charlotte's graduation on Tuesday and as we'll all be there to watch her big day, it's turning into a bit of an epic. A long day with travelling and our celebration meal afterwards. My mum is going too so we need pace ourselves just a bit. Mind you, I'm driving everyone crazy with my organising streak.....they all have their instructions and's like a military campaign getting everyone organised. Woe betide anyone who's late...they have been warned, lol!

The graduation day is the ideal excuse to take lots of photographs and as I just happen to have got a new camera for my birthday, I need the practice. Well, that's my excuse! The cameras is has a fantastic range of shutter speeds and no lag!! I feel like a member of the paparazzi with it's large zoom lens...point, click, click and the shutter whir is music to my ears. I've had great fun playing with it already, not brilliant results...but that's the photographers fault...not the camera.  One small thing to fit into my schedule for finish reading the manual, which will help!! I think I'd better get!! Perhaps I'll take both cameras with me to make sure I get some decent shots.

There is a problem with the camera though...Charlie...(yes, he's always a problem..I know!). He sees the new camera...and he in the other direction. When I pointed my old camera at him I needed to fight him off to get space to take his picture, but he hates this one and won't stay long enough for a bad photograph let a lone a good!!

Mind you, he was not very well last week and had to have a visit to the vet. They thought it was his hip and so he got some medication for that plus a shot. He seemed much better for a few days but today, despite the medicine, he was looking sorry for himself again and his big eyes looked sad. It looks like an other trip to the vet may be called for...fingers crossed that he has a more comfortable day tomorrow.

I  did manage to settle long enough to do some layouts for my albums, although I have to admit that as usual Lilly got the most pages done for hers. This is one that I played with black and white with a little colour put back into the photograph. I made the kit for her, "My Little Garden" and used that for the latest pages. I decided that I would like to share the kit with you all, so from today through till Friday you can download a part each day.



Here's what the kit looks like, I hope that you like it as much I do


You can download Day 1 here

Well, that's all folks!! Check back tomorrow for the next part of My Little Garden. Have a fun day/evening and take care.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Matchsticks Please

Where are the matchsticks, my eyes are just about still opened and could use a little help staying that way. I had a very early start this morning, my son was going to Amsterdam early this morning for the weekend and quiet is not in his nature. Can you imagine a group of ten young men in their twenties, all quite large, partying? I can and it's not pretty, believe me. Sorry Amsterdam!!

Chris worked yesterday at his normal job and then he had his "fun" job last night. That left him about 3 hours before he was due to get picked up for the airport. So, what did he do, rest..not a chance. He just stayed awake and set off with no sleep. My body cringes at the thought, but he seemed to be doing okay this morning. It'll be later in the day that it really hits a ton of bricks I should think.

Last night the packing was done and he was organised, but this morning..well about dawn to be precise...he was wandering around the house trying to find something to do until he left. The result was that Charlie was convinced, absolutely certain, that there had to be something very wrong....could be a burglar..or worse!! So, we all ended up getting up, just for some peace. Charlie of course thought it was marvelous and really exciting.

Eventually, Chris was picked up and after many "reminders" from me...well, nags actually, he left. It was only about an hour later, on checking his room, that I discovered he must have played around with his bag this morning and taken things out. But...yes, it's that but again...he had forgotten to put his underpants and socks back in.

So, if your in Amsterdam and you see a group of young who looks absolutely exhausted and has no socks on, say Hallo to Chris!! I'd love to see his face tomorrow morning when he tries to get dressed. I think that after a hard night partying. for socks and pants will be the last thing he needs, lol! Enjoy!!

I for one, will be out for the count partying for me!! The upside is that this weekend will be peaceful in the house, or that's the theory. I have promised my DH that I won't worry about what Chris is up to......well, not verbally anyway. But, you know what we mums are like, to us they will always be our children, even though they may be grown we are convinced they will run into trouble without us.

They could miss their plane...or worse still have their wallets stolen...or loose their passports...maybe get robbed.....or kidnapped...ahhh!!! Breath deeply, be sensible's only Amsterdam!!! I reassure myself he's been there lots of times and nothing nasty has happened. Then my imagination takes over again and I'm off......white slavers, drug smugglers, anything as long as it's a really far fetched and silly idea runs through my over active imagination.

Perhaps it's really is a good thing I'm tired or I wouldn't sleep a wink tonight!!!

My gift to you this evening is a peaceful one, which in the circumstances is very appropriate. These two backgrounds show just what you can make with images, brushes, a little texture and lighting effects. I love these papers for their serenity and calm. By changing the colour and lighting you change the mood of the paper, almost like your switching the time of day. Have a look and see what you think.



You can download the papers here

We'll that's all from me folks, have a wonderful weekend. I'll let you know what condition Chris comes back in!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Catch Up

(Edit: Sorry!! I have put up the link now...I told you I was not with it today!!)

I finally made it back to posting. The last few days I've had a nasty headache and a very sore throat...yep, an other little bug decided that I was a good place to make a stopover in!! Normally I only catch them in winter but this one is obviously doing a late run.

The good news (well, it is for me!) is that I'm feeling better but my energy levels are still way down. That's not a problem I normally have, but at least I don't feel like I did on Sunday!!

I have a little gift to add to your collect of scrapping stuff, a delicate metallic frame. The download has two example frames and two grayscale (one light, one darker) metal frames. The grayscale looks quite plain...but you can have so much fun dressing them up!! They can be used for  Personal, S4H or Commercial Use.


You can download the frames here

Experiment and try adding gradients, colours, patterns..... anything you want, or you can skip playing and just use the example frames. One of them I added some colour and the a small gradient and left it at gave a sort of bronze look.


On the other example frame I played with a gradient, inner glow, inner shadow and texture but no drop makes it look like a stamped frame.



If you just add a drop shadow then it looks different. So  use your imagination and have fun!!


See you soon...hopefully with a little more to say!! Take care and have fun!!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Read All About It - The AFX Files Are Out!!

Okay today, no waffling it's first things first....this months edition of the AFX Files is out. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of this wonderful monthly ezine it's a brilliant learning resource from the terrific Al Ward, Mr Photoshop.  If you use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements then this is a must have. It helps you find out about tools and techniques to expand you knowledge and have fun. What more could you ask for?

It's packed with contributions from a host of other amazing people too.  A not to be missed item...and it's free!!

Having said that.....I contribute too, lol. I have to admit that I feel a little like the baby in kindergarten with all that talent grouped in one place. My contribution this month is a short tutorial that shows you how easy it is to use Polar Coordinates in Photoshop. "What are they?" I hear you ask...."sounds complicated". It's not, believe me. Using this filter you can make a circle with a ribbon, name it. It's fast and so easy!! You'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Click on the image below and it will take you to Al's blog to collect your copy.

(The link has been updated as there was a problem at the AFX site and a new amended link has been posted)



AND there are some great gifts from the contributors for you to add to your pages.

Here's a peek at my gift for this month that you can download from the ezine.


Well, I hope that you all have fun reading and playing with the terrific resources you'll find. I hope you enjoy my little tut...and any questions, just shout!!

Have a great day!!!


Monday, 1 June 2009

Summer Sun

The last few days have been wall to wall sun here...and haven't I just loved it!! The warmth and brightness really lifts me and makes me want to be everywhere, do everything all at once!! I'm not a sunbather...not for me basting myself in the sun for hours, so I'm still pale and pasty looking....or as I prefer to describe me....pale and interesting!!

I have photographed my garden almost to death, if it had colour or blooms, I got it! The grass is mown, the new plants in and the weeds got the nimby (not in my backyard) treatment. Things are looking good, wish I could say the same for my back. The garden, like me, seemed to feel the sun and bounced into action. I could almost see those little shoots growing. There are so many beautiful flowers to capture that I'm like a kid in a candy store..not knowing which one to admire first.


Mind you, it wasn't good news for Charlie, he spent the last few days chasing reflections and lights like a demented soul. It's an obsessive behaviour he had when he came to me and it is so hard to get rid of. He spent Saturday boiling himself by rushing around in the sun and bouncing of walls and plants in his efforts to catch those elusive rays of light. In the end, he got banished indoors for his own health....but I'm working on the problem, just an other "work in progress" to add to his list.

At the moment, we are thinking of buying a motorhome to use on our travels, especially for the summer in Europe. It started small...but you know me...I have this tiny, weensy tendency to get carried away, so the idea kept growing. In my mind at least!! First it was DH's height (he's needs a lot of leg room),  then it was the thought of making beds up every time I went to bed and from there.... I just got totally and utterly carried away!! Visions filled my head of one with all the conveniences of home with a large touch of luxury thrown in for good measure. The fantasy definitely took over on this one!!

To cut a very long story short, I drifted from ideas of something compact..... to aspirations of a Winnibago with a trailer!!! It was only visions of trying to drive it around the small country roads in France that brought me back to reality with a bump. That and DH talking of how many miles to the gallon it would be and the fact that my "little trips" would require several mortgages to pay for them ,that made me get a grip on the real world again. So, after some realignment, my thoughts are back on track and compact is the buzz word of the day!!

But I have to admit, it was such fun just getting lost in the fantasy and imagining what it would be like to go HUGE!! A touch of day dreaming does you no harm and is lots of fun...well, once in a while that is. Reality can be so boring!!!

To reflect my outdoor mood and my love of gardens, I've done a Quick page for anyone who'd like to share it. I hope that someone can find a use for it.


You can download it here on 4shared

Have a great evening/day and see you soon, it's due to get colder, so perhaps I might get more work done!! I have a tutorial for you next post so check back for a handy tip or two.