Thursday, 19 January 2017

Happy New Year!

I haven't visited my blog for soooo long that I was almost locked out of it so not sure whether to do much or not. It has become so much quicker and simpler to pop a pic and an update on Instagram or Twitter.

I did intend over the quiet period of Christmas & New Year to do a sum up of my first (almost 12 months) year on Skye, something which I am referring to as feeling a bit like a social experiment in the art of living without for a year.

Living without much money, living without many shops, living without hardly any choice in fruit or veg and don't even expect to find much organic produce here, living without friends or family for support, living without much heating due to cost of our mechanical heat recovery system, living without much chocolate or sweets (although I have lost a bit of weight by going without), living without being able to grow stuff like I intended (the soil is bad on our plot nd the weather worse), living without garden birds (really miss robins and great tits but there's nothing in our garden they want to come and eat), living without the confidence that if anything breaks down, like plumbing or heating, you have a selection of reliable tradesmen here to help.... oh no, they don't exist on Skye, maybe one or two but they are a rare thing, living without good coffee, we can't afford to have it delivered on subscription like we did in our past life, living without being able to buy craft supplies (it all has to come mail order if you can find the right places who will in fact deliver to the Highlands & Islands).
There I will stop, my life is a bit like being on holiday but not a brilliant holiday and with no sight of it ending yet.

Perhaps I will return and give an update on life trying to run a holiday cottage and the 90% of dreadful guests we have had so far in the short space of running it for 4 months. The lovely guests have been incredibly lovely.

Hope it's a great year for everyone.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Over 4 months offline but I'm finally back!

Well it has been a very painful and frustrating time without a landline and the internet for just over 4 months. It's actually more than that given the time we had the old phone and internet line cut in Driffield.
It was beginning to look like no one was bothered about us at Plusnet and BT Openreach and I started to think we wouldn't be hooked up this side of Christmas.

However I'm delighted to say that last week we got the line and the internet has been restored. I don't know how we managed looking back, I know most of us couldn't survive 4 days or 4 weeks without some sort of connection but 4 months is just crazy.

Like all things there's good and bad, I've gradually got a couple of my loyal customers sending me work again, such a joy to have a bit of money to come in. The bad side is back to bad habits of surfing the net until after midnight trying to catch up with so much I've missed, lack of sleep is not good though.

I can now order my Tesco food from home, I don't have to wrack my brains and head to the library with a food list and then realise I didn't order the essential stuff when I get back home and it's too late until the next fortnight order. I can go and add food to the virtual Tesco basket as I remember it at silly o'clock in the night when I wake up thinking about tinned tomatoes, this is a real joy! It could only be better if there was a real supermarket other than crappy Co-op less than a 3 hour drive away.

I am now overwhelmed with so much to tackle that I don't have the excuse of not having the internet. In no particular order of priority I have design work to do, I need to re-stock and list things in the Folksy and Etsy shops, I have our holiday cottage to get to completion for letting and bringing an income in, I have boxes still to unpack, the house looks like the same mess from when we moved in, too little space and too much stuff, I've been doing car boots to try and shift things, charity shops, had a good run on Ebay recently but I need to get rid of some larger items in the garage as it is full to then move things from the house to the garage. It's kind of an ongoing messy situation.

We have had so many problems with the house since moving in, getting the builders back to sort things, other things getting damaged as they carry out repair tasks, money just going into a bottomless pit with issues to smooth over. I may have had the odd rant through other social media about should we stay or should we go back, it's all been so complicated and it hasn't really worked out as we planned so this is not a long term plan any more. It's an ongoing thing of lets see how it goes for a year or a couple of years as I need the time to sort out and we know we have to take a big financial loss when we do move. It's a bit like can't afford to go right now but the cost of living is making it not very cost effective to be here either the way it's turned out.

We've met some very nice people and of course existing friends I had up here but they are not near enough to see regularly, we've encountered miserable gits usually from the crofting/farming community who have caused us some grief and cost us more money enforcing fencing and the like on us so that there blooming sheep don't get on our land and 'injure themselves', we come across trades people all the time who let us down and say they will call and then don't show up, don't contact us or turn up when they want without saying. It's absolutely like nowhere I've ever known, they refer to it here as Skye Time or Island Time these people operate by. It's just a pathetic excuse to treat your customers like dirt. It seems plumbers have been the worst, we've got through about 4, or rather tried to contact and use 4 and all let us down. I don't just think it's us or the fact we are English getting treated like this, I've spoken to some Scottish incomers who get the same treatment.

It's challenging living here, it's not like the rosy dream we thought. Another example, a month ago I fell over, I didn't see a curb outside the Co-op, I flew over it and crashed to the floor, goodness knows how I didn't loose my glasses in this but I was flat out and as I tried to pick myself up saw lots of people about and no one,not one single person turned to look or help me. I got up, cut leg and my hand and wrist took all the weight which was in a support for 2 weeks and as I looked at a few people stood waiting outside the Coop they all looked away. I was just staggered by it.

I could go on but I have probably ranted on Facebook or Twitter and at the risk of sounding like all I do is moan I should definitely try and finish on a positive note but it's been a weird day.

After weeks of chasing our former landlords for our deposit back, just over a grand, which we thought they wouldn't cough up, blow me over they refunded the full amount. So the day started good, money we desperately needed back. However by the afternoon and more sheep had got on our land and another angry crofter has ranted to us we need more fencing and a full farm gate, well that is going to consume this little windfall easily.
It's like chucking the money away, it goes in one hand and out the other, especially annoying as we have higher priority things to buy than stock proof fencing!

Anyway, tomorrow might be a good day, I think a few bags of our favourite coffee are on the way as a little treat and to cheer us up as we've not had our coffee subscription order for over a year.
Caffeine and chocolate, always a good pick me up. I hope to have a better post in the future and some pics to show what we've been up to with nicer things.

All the best :)

Friday, 15 April 2016

More delays getting online!

Thank you for all the good vibes I received in the comments on the previous post. The nightmare of being offline continues, we had a date of April 11th for an engineer to visit and no one came.

After many snotty text messages to Plusnet this week I finally received the bad news that our local exchange has no capacity for any new lines to be connected. This means they will have to investigate another exchange as nearby as possible which will result in quite a bit of work and probably quite a lot of costs attached to it. We now hear the earliest an engineer can visit to just "look" at what needs doing will be the end of May at the very least (another 6 weeks :(. By then we will have been waiting three and a half months for anyone to even visit and take a look, it absolutely stinks. I'm just so frustrated and flabberghasted that this is taking so long and becoming such a nightmare and I can't get on with work, crafts and promoting the holiday cottage. I can see the summer will have gone and we won't actually get any bookings in our cottage for the prime part of this year.

I keep telling Plusnet we have no income until this can be resolved but they just keep apologising and saying there's nothing more can be done to hurry things along.

Oh well, such is life.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

2016 saw the move to Skye

This is just a very quick post if anyone still reads this because I don't currently have any internet access and I have to drive to the library for wifi.
I finally moved to Skye 7 weeks ago, it was a heck of a hassle finishing off the packing and the stress of the actual move. We moved up the day before my 50th birthday and had only the belongings which would squeeze in the back of a Jimny to survive with for our initial fortnight. All our other stuff was set to follow 2 weeks later.

After the initial excitement of the journey through the snowy Highlands, and some horrible weather conditions in between, it took over 10 hours to reach the house.

We were too tired to take it all in really but the next day we started to spot problems in the house, damage to my beautiful new kitchen and other areas of poor workmanship. This took the shine off arriving at a new house on my birthday, it is an ongoing battle trying to get the builders to come back and sort things out.
Our little holiday cottage also has problems and will be some time before it is available and ready to bring us some much needed income in.

We have a very wet plot of land which is an issue and will take some drying up before we can lay grass seed. We have no landline or internet, the delays here are horrendous to get hooked up so I can't do my work, we can't order stuff online, we can't get our holiday cottage web site going and it's causing much grief and delays.

Things are basically not going to plan one bit and you do begin to wonder whether we have done the right thing moving here, or should we have left this as purely our holiday destination. It's complicated, everything seems difficult to sort out and everything is very expensive to sort out.
It's not looking like this is a long term proposition.

We will continue to press on as best we can and see how things progress through the summer.
I am still trying to unpack boxes, the house was filled when the removal company brought over 200 of them and I think I still have about 50 to unpack, the house is much smaller so I am selling stuff,  giving more to charity and doing a car boot sale soon in order to get this house sorted and looking less like a storage container!

Sadly I can't post pictures with my limited internet access in the local library but hopefully one day I will be back online in my own home.

All the best to my bloggy friends for now :)

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Happy Winter Solstice

If any bloggy friends are reading then I'd like to wish you a fabulous festive season whatever you celebrate and I hope for a happy and peaceful 2016 for everyone.  x

I will be having a non existent Christmas, other than a few nice bits of food it will be the same as any other day right now as I'm in the full throws and mess of packing. It's a bit of a nightmare, I forgot how awful packing was and having aquired more stuff over the years it's not a nice experience.

We are moving our belongings into storage until moving in January and living with the essentials until then. Apparently the average house will have about 100 boxes for a move, I've already done about 110 and still have my office and kitchen to dismantle amongst other things. However, I do feel that us creative types have more 'stuff' than most people. Had I been a person who didn't do things then I wouldn't have nearly as much stuff, but I do, and where I'm moving to I won't easily be able to buy wool or fabric or the like so it's important I salvage what I can. That said I've taken sacks of stuff to the charity shops, the tip and I suspect I might need a clearance place to remove the final bric a brac and the washer as it's too heavy for us to lift out of here so it will have to go.

This is how the storage container is filling up

I will take a break from packing tonight as I'm doing a farewell supper with a couple of friends at one of my oldest and favourite veggie restaurants in Hull so that will be nice and I hope to get some pics.
So I will sign off now and wish you and yours all the best.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

A catch up post

Life is moving at quite a pace now the countdown is on to the great escape and I have not had the chance to blog but have favoured the quicker option to document things via Instagram. 

Today I've started some packing so I'm just taking a break from the dusty task of rummaging through some of my stuff to write this and post some photos of things from the last month or so, it will be stuff my IG friends will have seen already so apologies for it being a bit boring.

First up, an interesting sculpture in a field in Holderness not too far from where I grew up. It's the gunpowder plotters, 2 of which, the Wright brothers, where from Welwick which is the location of the site in E. Yorkshire.
The monument celebrates the defeat of the plot to blow up King James 1st of England in the House of Lords on Nov 5th 1605.

 Continuing my theme of farewell visits, I made one last trip to the Hornsea Museum to see the pottery collection, there is always something fresh to see and inspire. I love the colours of the 1950s/60s pots in the cabinet below.

Below are pieces I hadn't seen before, the dove grey Jubilee pieces created for a development range in 1999-2000, however the pottery went into receivership around this time and these pots didn't make it into production. I love the simple grey, black and white design, it was a nod back to the hugely popular Contrast range in brown and white from the early 80s.

Lovely little muramic pin dishes below, rather like catherine wheels.

Food out with Bob. We met friends in Bridlington for a "last supper" a few weeks ago and we went to the Mexican / Hawaiian restaurant appropriately called Aloha. It was great fun and we had non alcoholic cocktails and delicious veggie food.

One of our party was celebrating a birthday and once you alert the waiter to this, the lights are dimmed, they bring you a courtesy cocktail and they play the Hawaii Five O theme tune and everyone joins in :) such fun.

Bob was along for the ride when I took my sister for a birthday trip out. Sister was back in the country to help take my dad for another operation so I decided she needed a treat out for her birthday. We were again in Bridlington and had this very nice cake at the Spa, it was Angel Sparkle cake and was absolutely lovely tucking in looking across the bay and with the Spa cafe pianist playing too.

I did the tourist thing with my sister, we went and saw the new Gansey Girl sculpture on the harbour, she was sat knitting a jumper!

We did a drive past the Hockney house and then a quick tour of the Old Town. Some of the shops on the High Street were still blacked out from the filming of Dads Army.

Things I've been making. I've had quite a run on needle cases.

I've also been crocheting some wrist warmers and a tweed wrist cuff.

I won something, a little competition to design cut and sew Christmas decorations, I revamped my nutcracker kits for this and added a sugar plum fairy cut and sew.

I also entered this calendar tea towel into a comp and I came second.

I've been working on my Dorothy Doll cut and sew kits which I probably won't have chance to sort out for my shop until next year now. I'm getting very near to having to stop making things and put my craft things away. I'll go mad if I put it all away so I reckon I will keep out something easy like crocheting stuff.

Something I bought recently which I have never owned before, a pair of DM's. I have always wanted some but I fear the stiffness of the leather is something my feet would not get along with. However, they have started doing softer ones so I am giving it a go and I hope I can break them in.

In all the sorting out we have dissected an old G5 power Mac and salvaged the case which will be made into a little stool, it's very sturdy so will be fine. Also I just love the brutalist design of the heat sink CPU's which are the pics below, I think they will be recycled into a piece of sculpture at some point!

I think that's me caught up for now.
I will have to stop work next week and turn my attention to packing, what a horrible task and it's blooming freezing cold now too. Such bad timing having to pack and move in the middle of winter but it was bound to happen.

Keep warm folks.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

October 2nd - This is The Day, Fantastic Day

So what's with the title for anyone who may be reading this,  I've quoted the names of two of my favourite 80's songs, Fantastic Day by Haircut 100 and This Is The Day (your life will surely change) by The The.

When I started this blog over 6 and a half years ago it was going to be about my journey of changing the life I currently lead in East Yorkshire for a new life in Scotland. For many years, since I first visited the Isle of Skye in 1997 I felt a major pull towards wanting to be there full time. With each holiday up there Skye felt more like home and 'home' felt less like home when we returned.
So over the years we have been deciding how to drop out of 'normal routine working life here and how we could possibly move up there and eek out some kind of existence. Tricky!

When we sold the last property we owned in 2007 we seriously started looking for property up there. We had had such problems with awful neighbours in the unpleasant village of Holme on Spalding Moor we lived in which was the biggest mistake ever. A week after buying our house we realised we had not done our homework on the area and wanted to move straight away. The house was put up for sale as soon as was possible and took over 2 years to sell at the height of the property crash. It left us in a bit of a mess mainly ill with stress but it left us fearful to ever buy a property again incase we had more horrid neighbours or incase we couldn't sell it quickly for if that dream opportunity came up on Skye.

We decided to rent after that, to give us the freedom to up sticks at a moments notice and escape north.

Thinking we would find something fairly quickly on Skye we suffered a cold, damp dripping cottage near Beverly for a year. No opportunities came along in Skye so we had to rent again and the place we ended up was this current freezing cold, damp, spider and mouse infested hovel which I can't believe i have survived now for over 7 years. I've pretty much hated it since the first winter which was a nasty shock to the system but we stumbled on always thinking we would be gone by the next winter. It didn't happen we had such lows not finding a house on Skye that half way through and following an illness with my partner we gave up and started looking at Wales as an easier moving option. That didn't ever feel like home so after 2 years searching Wales we said it's always been Skye that stole our hearts so lets just do it before we get even older and more decrepit. 

Forgive me if this is boring, this is more an account to myself of why I started this blog. Most of my plans have had to remain under wraps so the blog turned into more of an account of crafty things, food, coffee and trips out.

But back to trying to escape from this house and we looked at every option and decided we had to make an opportunity ourselves and we could just about afford to either find 2 small houses and make a living with a holiday cottage or we have 2 houses built. We found an option to build and set about finding some land. A few options fell by the wayside but we finally bought a plot just over 2 years ago. Then came the battle obtaining planning permission and lets just say the first year of owning the plot and employing the services of an architect practise to create our dream went totally pearshaped and cost us dearly as we tried to stabilise from a problematic situation. 
Another year on and in the hands of a decent practise of architects we have finally made the progress through planning and to the point of work starting on our project.

A fortnight ago we went up to Skye to see the first work on our plot from when it was a sheep field, as we saw it a year ago, to having foundations laid. (below)

Not only have the foundations been done but the timber frame kit house we are having built was delivered to the site on the last day of our holiday last week and we were able to see construction start. This was such an amazing surprise at the speed in which it happened. The panels arrived on the back of a lorry in the morning, the walls were up by lunch and at teatime the roof was on. So on October 2nd I can honestly say it was a fantastic day and the day my life will surely change.
(below, the house arrives on a lorry)

The walls go up and progress is quite rapid by lunchtime

By teatime the roof is on

I can see the fruits of all our suffering over the last 10 years finally blossoming. I will soon have the secure feeling of a roof over my head again and by the end of the year I can walk away from this miserable existence here to a new life and look forward to new opportunities and new ways to try and earn a living as we will pretty much be penniless when we get up there until the holiday let takes off.

So that's me out of the closet. I know some people have asked why on earth do you stay in that place when you are so cold and miserable but I've not wanted to reveal what I've been up to to many people incase it casts a jinx over things but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The idea was to document the build on the blog but I won't be able to go up there again now until it is ready so it's a shame I won't have more work in progress pictures. 
Whether I carry on the blog after completion remains to be seen as I've started using Instagram, I will also have to find time to do a Facebook page & website for the holiday cottage when ready so do please join me there when I reveal the details if you fancy a look or if you fancy a holiday in the future away from it all on the edge of the world it would be lovely to see you.
(for information, the holiday let will be a small modern single storey, one bedroom 2 people, larch clad with tin roof, and sorry no pets as we are next to a sheep croft)

York fabric printed

I think the York fabric was one of the most time consuming I've created, what with all the individual illustrations but I have some printed samples and I'm happy with the result. There are fat quarters and a teatowel which I had samples printed of.

I have the fat quarters packed and ready to go, might see if I can get any interest at a fabric or gift shop in York before I list in my shop.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Happy Autumn Equinox

I'm sorry to see the end of summer as I don't feel like I've had a summer this year but at least the sun has appeared today and the cute google squirrel made an appearance!

The light is rather nice at this time of day and I just spotted this leaf with dew drops on the step.

This week I've been putting together some fabric kits for my Etsy shop. The orange and brown patchwork kit below went quite quickly which was brilliant. The packs feature a large centre panel of my Scandi Birds and Flowers fabric.

I'm also preparing some vintage caravan kits which can be used for embroidering or embellishing to create a mixed media work.

Monday, 14 September 2015

My fabric to celebrate the wonderful city of York

Here's a project which I got stuck into rather last minute and I've been beavering away creating digital illustrations for the last few days.

I spotted a fabric design competition on PrintMePretty to design a fabric to illustrate 'My Town', in my case I've taken that to mean my favourite local place which is York.

This has been a great excuse to do some illustrations which may have use in other projects too.

King's Sq below

The legend that is Guy Fawkes!

Bootham Bar

You can't mention York without thinking of it's chocolate heritage!

The city walls

There are a few more illustrations of notable landmarks which I have now thrown together to create my York fabric for the competition.

It looks like this, the white background version is the one I have entered. If you felt inclined to fancy voting for my design I believe there are 2 ways to do it, either by leaving a comment on the PrintMePretty blog post when it goes live in a couple of days and you would find the blog page from this link

Or the other way is to look up the Print Me Pretty page on Facebook and when they show the designs in a couple of days you can like the ones you fancy :)

I created some different colour versions in small and large repeats. I'm thinking the pink one might make a fun table cloth in a vintage style tea shop in York.