My good friend Mark plays in a band called You Little Thief, and very kindly sent me a CD and a t-shirt – both of which are brilliant! I had to master the art of the ‘Selfie’ to take this shot, which I found rather difficult with my large (and heavy, due to a bling cover!) Galaxy Note 4 phone! My arm didn’t seem long enough and my hands didn’t seem big enough. Anyway, after a few goes I snapped something half decent.
To find out more about the band You Little Thief go to:
www.youlittlethief.co.uk (website coming VERY soon)
This year our annual family holiday was in Cornwall (as indeed it is every year!) and we had a lovely couple of weeks staying at Watergate Bay near Newquay. We have only been going to Watergate Bay in particular for the past three years after my close friend Jane asked us to join her and her family down there one summer. Previous to that it has always been a part of Cornwall that I have consciously avoided…. When I was little we spent some extremely happy times there as a family – then my sister (Ruth) died and I couldn’t bear to return to the beach where we had spent our last holiday together. Places are rarely as idyllic as you remember them and I didn’t want to damage the memory. However, bolstered by the enthusiasm of my two boys we did indeed join Jane at Watergate Bay and after some tears (from me, Jack and Freddie were already in the sea!) it turned out that it was as magical as I remembered it and my childhood holidays there were something to celebrate, not mourn.
Now… I am not at all lured by the Cornish surf and so this year whilst my husband Gary and the boys were in the sea I spent HOURS pottering around the beach collecting ‘treasure’. This was in the form of any interesting shells, small stones and the most coveted items of all – sea glass! When I found pieces of sea glass I may as well have spotted diamonds, such was my delight. Once home however all these things were in danger of gathering dust in some forgotten pot in the garage and so pretty much immediately I set about making something from them which I could look at every day and think of Watergate Bay. The result is this sea horse which I have called Melody (there was an episode of Sponge Bob Squarepants which featured a sea horse by that name and SB is one of my favourite programmes on TV!)
I had two pieces of glass left over and twiddled some wire around it, adding it to the line-up of the broken piece of china and skull-and-crossbones charm to create the brooch pictured here.
The beige stones pictured here are ones I found on the beach at Watergate Bay (will I get into trouble for admitting that? Hope not!) and the glazed pottery ‘stone’ in the middle is one I made many years ago when I was at school. I remember calling it a Pobble which I guess is a cross between a stone and pebble!
Well… since Crafty Beggars has well and truly plunged me back into the world of crafts and creativity I recently made it my business to revisit some of my finest moments from years back. As ‘Potteries born and bred’ I did ceramics at school for O and A Level and am pleased that my mum saw fit to keep some of my best efforts! I departed London, hit the road northbound and some 3 hours later arrived in Stoke-on-Trent and ultimately through the doors of my family home – the mothership!
I had actually gone primarily to do some work for The Evening Sentinel ‘Our Heroes’ awards (The Sentinel being our local newspaper) but took the opportunity to photograph some of my old work – which brought back wonderful memories of Mr Lowe and Mrs Harding (the pottery teachers at St Dominic’s in Stoke) and of my very happiest times at school.
This is large and heavy– measuring 18”h x 14”w – and thus never moves from this window ledge. I didn’t make the dragon in the picture but he is a great addition to the ‘fairy castle’ idea.
This has survived the last 32 years rather well – the tip looks like it has been glued back on at some point however!
Obviously this is a VERY early piece – and at some 40 years old I guess it’s not too surprising the fairy has lost both her arms! Nevertheless my mum kept her, as a proud mum would do! I can see now it was only biscuit fired (unglazed) so it’s a surprise it’s survived at all.
I took photos of a few more bits of pottery and also some examples of my early efforts at sewing… it’s amazing the array of things my mum has kept from all those years ago! I will share them with you in the next post. Until then…
Mum and Dad came to stay with us recently and we went to visit the Tower of London to see the poppies. It is of special interest to us as thousands of the poppies on display have been made in our home town of Stoke-on-Trent. The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red exhibition marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and if you get the chance the poppies are a spectacle well worth seeing. If you fancy buying one when the exhibition ends (which I do!) go to https://poppies.hrp.org.uk/buy-a-poppy/
When it comes to charitable causes my main focus is always animals – and I am Patron or Ambassador of a lot of animal charities! I do have ONE human charity I work for however and it is Refuge who work tirelessly to help women and children who are the victims of domestic violence. I am a survivor of domestic violence and suffered terribly at the hands of my first husband. I was mentally and physically abused for many years and I know from first-hand experience how domestic violence destroys lives. A much overlooked fact about DV is how many women commit suicide as a direct result of their partner’s abuse – 3 women a week take their own lives and some 30 women a day attempt suicide in a desperate big to escape the dire circumstances they find themselves in. A couple of years ago I presented a documentary to highlight this issue – telling the story of a lady called Gurda and her brother’s fight to get some justice for his beloved sister. You can watch the 30 minute film on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYZK4QBWceM
Find us on Facebook (click here), and please get involved if you would like to help us bring about new legislation which recognises a Liability for Suicide. My lovely friend Jo Brand is in the film… she is a huge supporter of Refuge. We both look rather serious in this picture together. But then again, it’s a rather serious subject!
Julie and I attended VIVA!’s 20th birthday party recently – a great evening of celebration which took place on a river boat on the Thames. I am a Patron of this amazing animal welfare and campaigning charity and Julie and I are pictured here with fellow Patron, Michael Mansfield QC. Here’s to the next 20 years guys! To find out more about VIVA! And the vital work they do check out www.viva.org.uk
I am pictured here with Oliver who I met at the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection). He is an eleven month old puppy who was released to a BUAV investigator after the organisation carried out a seven month undercover investigation in 2013 at UK laboratory MSD Animal Health. I am delighted to be joining their call for a change in legislation which would allow dogs like Oliver to find a home and have a chance at life. He is a beautiful, healthy and vibrant dog and it is devastating to think that his mother and six other siblings were all killed. To find out more and support the BUAV campaign click on www.ourbestfriends.org
I was recently in my home town of Stoke-on-Trent to present an award at the Our Heroes event – run by the newspaper for the region, The Evening Sentinel. I am on the judging panel for the Awards and it’s always a tough job to pick out the winners from the many nominations.
I’m pictured here with mental health specialist Sarah Wilshaw who was a runner up in the Hero of the NHS category.
This is me with star of stage and screen Jonathan Wilkes. He is a fellow ‘Potter’ and in fact we met some 15 years ago in Brighton in Panto. He was playing the part of Aladdin, Gary was Abanazar and I was the Genie of the Ring. Having said that we were all upstaged by Mr Blobby who was the true star of the show!!