Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holidays Weeks 3 & 4

Fair warning - Two weeks worth. Lots of waffle. Lots of pictures. Settle yourself down with a cuppa, skim through or beat a hasty retreat. Your choice.

(TL;DR version: Lots of cheapish fun with the kids. Lots of library visits. Lots of books.)

Last week Roo was at Nanna's house so Pheebs and I took Mr Bear to Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway - a local steam train which used to service the paper mill in the area. He was so excited - he's obsessed with trains and diggers and trucks... anything vehicular. One of the carriages is open so you can lean out and see the steam puffing out at the front of the train. He absolutely loved it.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - SKLR light railway
When you get to the other end of the journey there is a little museum set up, explaining their history. There's also a tiny little nature area where they are encouraging butterflies and insects etc - they've also set up a stag beetle hill but we didn't spot any on this occasion. Bear was more than happy to just explore though - he's such a nature boy.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - SKLR light railway
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - SKLR light railway
Poser much?
Behind the compound is the Saxon Shore footway which in one direction would have taken us home (eventually) and in the other direction would have taken us towards Hastings and Rye. (Perhaps after a few days walk!) We walked a little way along - it was a shame the tide was out. We've decided, Pheeb and I, to try and do the walk home when the kids are at Nannas next time.
Whoopidooings: Rocking Friday - Saxon Shore footway

Whoopidooings: Saxon Shore footway
A couple of days later we went to Maidstone museum - another first. We were on the hunt for dinosaurs! Yep - he loves those too. And we found them. Bear decided he needed a tooth inspection and wondered where dinosaurs go when they have a sore tooth. 
Whoopidooings: Dinosaur at Maidstone Museum
He also loved the Treasures from Trash exhibit they currently have on display. Especially the (you've guessed it) vehicles made from tin cans. The skill and craftsmanship that went into these pieces was amazing - I liked the little insects the best.
Whoopidooings: Treasures From Trash at Maidstone Museum
Whoopidooings: Treasures From Trash at Maidstone Museum
We finished up the day with a ride on the Octonaughts submarine in the shopping center. At £1 a go Pheebs decided we should get our moneys worth. Who do you think is having more fun here?
Whoopidooings: Octonaughts ride.
This next picture is just  after Bear and I went to the library, we read some books, got some out and then headed to the local McDonalds. It's been recently refurbished so he felt duty bound to inspect the premises. They've put tablets on the tables so we spent a good while in there having lunch and playing Angry Birds together - he is way better at it than me!

When we got home he just zonked, after I took this he awoke long enough to sleep walk over to me for a cuddle and then went back to sleep. It was lovely.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Tired Out

And now we come to the book portion of my Rocking moments of which there are many and be thankful I haven't even included them all.

Firstly, I got this one from the library the other week. I was just wandering the shelves while the kids were lost in a wonder-filled haze in the childrens section. This one was facing out on display and - I confess - I do judge a book by the cover. I liked the look of it and I liked the Grimm comparison on the back. I've never read or even heard of the author before. 
Whoopidooings: Bookish Rocking My World Friday - Uprooted - Naomi Novik
Well, I ended up staying awake till 2 am on two consecutive nights reading this one! Really enjoyed it! This is going to sound daft - but it took me back to the golden time of fantasy films - you know, Labyrinth, Princess Bride, too many to mention. It had that feel about it to me. I absolutely ate it up! I think if you enjoy fantasy and fairy tale and twists on old themes. (Damsels being sacrificed to the dragon to name one) and you like interesting forests that eat people... yeah, you'll like this one! (That's probably the main bit that takes me back to the films that I love so much!) It's been a long while since I've sat and had my attention held like that - my memory is not brilliant and I usually have to re-read stuff many times. Probably why I've been enjoying graphic novels more lately. But I'll be looking out for more by this author.

Next up - two more that I've got out, both graphic novels. I've wanted to read Mr Punch for ages -  in case you hadn't realised, Dave McKean is one of my favourite artists and I will read absolutely anything that he collaborates with Neil Gaiman on. Suffragette was recommended to me by Amazon and so I did a search on the library system and it came up. Whacked a reserve order on it and it was at my local library within days. I'm making so much use of this facility at the moment. Did that with Mr Punch too.
Rocking My World Friday - Graphic novels - Library books
Another thing I'm loving about them is that if you can't find the book in their system you can put in an order request where they actually (might) buy the book. So far I have put in 4 requests and they have bought all four. You are then first in the queue to borrow them. I'm awaiting two lino cut/print ones that are showing as bought - quite newish releases. I think it's a brilliant idea. When you don't have that many pennies and then the books are there for everyone else too. I suppose it gives them an idea what people want as well.

Then, a surprise visit from my friend with an even bigger surprise of a late birthday present. She gave me a £10 book token! Woohoo! So when we were in Maidstone we had a good long leisurely look around Waterstones. I'd forgotten how good it is to spend ages in a real bookshop - most of mine are bought online these days. I'm going to fix that! I came away with another I've wanted for ages. And because of the token it only cost me 99p! Yeah!
Rocking My World Friday: Through The Woods
Finally at the end of that week - this letter came through the door. from Roo. Updating me on all her antics with Nanny. It did make me smile.
*pause to stretch*

Moving on to last week then.

We paid a long overdue visit to Shorne Woods Country Park - yet another first. We are definitely exploring our local area more this year. A staycation maybe? It's truly beautiful there with play areas for the children. Really well signposted trails... mutant mosquitoes but we wont dwell on them! We'll definitely be going back. There are various sculptures dotted around - this was my favourite by local artist Steve Portchmouth.It's called Spider Tickles Worm. Love it. 
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
We tackled the Heritage trail for our first go and it was a good hour and a half of walking. Lots of nature. I was pretty pleased with this shot of a new fern peeking through the woodland floor.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Roo is not a nature person in any way, shape or form. She is scared of literally everything. Reason we haven't done so many of these local walks is because of that reason (Bear is the complete opposite and will charge headlong into everything - which is why I have aged 10 years since having him!) But she has been facing her fears a lot this year. I'm so proud of these photos because she really got into the thick of it and was having fun and just being a kid!
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Bear in a tree - Grr!
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Bear posing in a tree - not so Grrr!
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
This week Nanna came to stay. We thought, while we're on a roll, we'll throw some more nature in the mix. Devvie came back for a surprise couple of days too so the five of us headed off to the Wild Woods. This one wasn't a first and Roo was won around because she knows there is a GIGANTIC playpark there. There are also bears (sleeping because of the heat) Wolves (sleeping because of the heat) Lynx (sleeping because of the heat) and many many more animals. (most of which were sleeping... because of the heat.) We're thinking of maybe going back when the weather is cooler. It was a really lovely day.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
 Everyone loves a picnic - especially when there are chickens roaming around the tables... 
OK, not everyone - that was a step to far for Roo. She wolfed her food and legged it to the park - there may have been screaming.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
She's not grimacing, she's doing the trout pout. *sigh*
I have spoken to her. I am allowed to slap her if she does it again.
*shakes head*
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Devvie took Roo home with her for a couple of nights sleepover. Before Nanny went home, she and I took Bear to Leysdown. Now, Leysdown has a fairly bad name. It's a small arcade seaside town on the island. It has been fairly run down (and rough) in the past. But I can honestly say they look like they have really spent a fair bit of money trying to bring it back to life. I've taken the kids on three day trips up there now this Summer and not spent more than £20 each time. That will have included chips, ice-creams, arcades, an allocated amount of rides that they have to carefully consider and choose... and then there are a couple of playparks and of course the beach. £20 for a day out can't be sniffed at in my books. We're going again this weekend.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Money well spent!
Actually - we took Nanny home and Dad liked the sound of our day out so much that we went this weekend just gone as well.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation

Other things that have made me smile this week:

  • The £1 garage  I got from the boot fair - it was filthy, looked like it had been stored in someones garden. After a good scrub, three buckets of water later... it's a Fisher Price one and the kids love it. Been playing with it solidly since it came back in from being cleaned. Mum would have been proud.
  • Got my certificates through from my course! My distinctions were for my final piece and work related stuff, my merits were for the writing, descriptive type of stuff (less waffle - more analytical!) I'm well chuffed!
  • A couple of cooler nights have meant being able to snuggle under my duvet.
  • Tilda coconut rice being on offer in Tesco. (I don't buy many brands but this rice is gorgeous!)
  • Silver Crow sightings.
  • Unexpected gifts in the post (Thank you Sue x) 
  • Butterflies that flock to our weeds in our tiny back yard. Good enough reason not to get out there and pull them up right? 
And I think that will probably do - I'll try not to miss a week and do another mammoth post!
What about you - how has your week been?
Thanks for stopping by :)

I'm now going to link up with Virginia.

Rocking My World Friday - Week 2 of Summer Hols

This may or may not be published on Friday. But it will be published. I promise  started writing it on Friday. The thought and intention is here.

I have been keeping up with my (mostly) positive reflections even though I haven't been blogging them. I still take pictures of things that make me smile - no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to other people. But I have noticed my moods have been a bit low, a bit grey if not totally black since my course ended. I suspect that's all it is - my course ending. Going back to being "just" Mum as opposed to Carmen. I know that isn't the case - there isn't anything 'just' about being a Mum. It's a privilege.  But it's there - on the fringes.

It's time to start physically writing down all the things I have to be happy about again rather than slipping into bad habits that lead to bad moods. Then they are here - to look back on and they always make me smile when I do that.

So - this is the second week of the summer holidays. I am exhausted and I am broke. That's with us trying to find relatively cheap things to do. But we've had fun! Last week we signed the two monsters up to the Summer Reading Challenge at the library.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Reading Challenge
Little Miss was ecstatic as the rewards are all Roald Dahl themed which means Quentin Blake in abundance - one of her favourite illustrators. This week we went back and she got her first reward - two illustrated cards and a BFG bookmark.

This week saw Little Bear spend the week in Hastings with Daddy & Nanna.  Roo and Pheebs stayed home. This coming week they are swapping and Roo is getting to tire Nanna out and Mr Bear stays home. This way they get some much needed one on one time. It's bonkers here most days - no such thing as privacy or space.

Devvie came home this week so my girls and I headed to the local cinema to see Finding Dory. It was such a fun day and the first time we have been all together.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Finding Dory
Best of all our local cinema only charges £3 entry. So for the four of us plus drinks and snacks it came to just over £20 to see a new film we REALLY wanted to see. I'm so pleased they re-opened this cinema - before they did it had been years and we had never gone as a family because it was just so expensive to go to the bigger cinemas in the area. It's a tiny cinema - I just hope they manage to stay open after the rumored regeneration (and big name cinema) opens a bit further into town. We loved the film too - recommended, definitely.

When I went back to school I really caught up on my reading and made massive use of their amazing library. Now that I have left I have kept this up via my local library which I hadn't visited in a long time. I also found out that via their website you can request they purchase books that you can't find through their search system. So far out of 4 books I have requested they have purchased 3! One of them was a newly published one. I'm really loving the library at the moment and these are the books I've bought home this week...
Whoopidooings: Library books
Yes, I raid the childrens section for the gorgeously illustrated books!
I have become a little obsessed with Tove Jansson. I somehow completely bypassed her growing up - I was aware of the Moomins cartoon, vaguely...but that's it. However, I have been researching her for a really fun ATC swap which I'll blog later. I'm now completely enamored with her. So I was really pleased when Sian told me there was a BBC documentary on iPlayer. I stayed up last night when everyone was in bed with my tea and biscuits and watched it. I do love a good documentary. Thanks Sian.

I was taking a photo of this next one, which I'd reserved - I've been wanting to read it for ages but there was a queue for it - I can see why, it's gorgeous. Anyway after I took the photo I realised I had a little feather on my desk...
Whoopidooings: Library books
My workdesk is in my bedroom these days which is in the attic. There is often a little curious feathered face watching me from the roof window. This is the first time I've had a little gift appear on my desk though. It did make me smile. Especially because of the particular book I was taking a picture of at the time.

When we took Devvie back to Canterbury we stayed for the day and had a wander - I love it there. We really loved this wonky secondhand bookshop which is actually a charity called Catching Lives which helps support the homeless in the city. The inside is just as wonky - you feel a little drunk on the uneven upper floor.
Whoopidooings: Wonky Bookshop Canterbury
The inscription above the door reads "...a very old house bulging over the road...leaning forward, trying to see who was passing on the narrow pavement below..." Charles Dickens, 1849 

Other things that have made me smile:

  • Cooler evenings so I can snuggle under my quilt - I hate the hot weather.
  • New internet connection meaning I can blog and read websites and start my online classes finally. (See ya BT - I'd like to say it was a blast but I'd be lying!)
  • Friends who help in the most unexpected ways. I'm now going to teach myself to read French so that I can read some beautiful illustrated books I've bought.
  • Seeing my school buddies getting excited for the start of their degrees. (Tinge of jealousy too but so happy for them.)
And that will do for now - there is more but a certain Bear has just ransacked my desk and is drawing perilously close to said snuggly quilt! It's a start, hopefully I will get back in the habit. I miss my blog and fully intend to start blogging regularly again. I was toying with starting a fresh one, still am if I'm honest. What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by today  - how has your week been? 

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday - WOYWW 366

Actual stuff! That's what!
And just pretend it's Wednesday OK? I did take the pictures yesterday and then promptly forgot to do anything with them. Memory=sieve.

First up - my compulsory weather whinge. After all that rain last week - it's been far, far to hot this week. Like, change my clothes and have a bath as soon as I get in from the first school run hot. What is that all about? Lots of cloud cover today though and a nice breeze so you happen upon a happy Whoopidoo right here.

I joined up to a new (to me) forum this week (ATCsForAll) and am taking part in an ATC swap for the first time in - nearly two years. I'm really enjoying it too. That's what you can see on my desk - I finished them last night so will be getting them posted at some point. I haven't blogged them yet but if you are reading this on a pc you can look on my sidebar there on the right, they are on my  instagram feed.
What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday - WOYWW 366
*Ahem* Excuse the washing pile. It's now been put away. (Checks) Yes, yes it has.
What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday - WOYWW 366
Last week Annie Claxton asked what the display was at the back of my desk. Mainly postcards. One I picked up at the (aptly named) Pick Me Up show earlier in the year - it's for the Museum of British Folklore, one is a Disney quote which reads "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing"  A reminder to myself. One is a favourite image of Mucha's and the other is an ink blot image in the shape of a skull. Not mine - it was a freebie print from cocorinna.com

The long image is a card from a wonderful friend. When I was back at school I discovered Mark Hearld for the first time and he was a huge influence in my final work and trying out lino cutting. His dedication to doing what he loves and being inspired by what he loves had a massive impact on me. Like a lightbulb moment. This sounds daft but for the first time I realised I could combine all the things I love and use all of them as inspiration - not just bits and pieces. He is hugely influenced by nature. I realised that I was allowed to be influenced by creepy spooky things and nature if I wanted to - they didn't have to be separate,  But it was a revelation to me. I became a little obsessed with him. I really recommend his book. It's one of the most beautiful books I own. I will review it at some point.

Anyway - he did a show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and my friend goes there a lot.  She saw this there and picked it up for me. 
 Mark Hearld Card
The card is a print of one of his collages and it folds into three, I don't know what the proper term for that is. I just love it and will be getting it framed eventually as a long image. But for now I am enjoying it above my desk.
What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday - WOYWW 366 - Mark Hearld Card
I'm going to pop over to LLJans page now to link up - why not follow me over? You'll find a list of people all taking part in showing their creative spaces.

My love goes out to our founder Julia while she recuperates.

Thanks for the warm welcome back last week, I really enjoyed it. And thanks also for stopping by today :)

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday - WOYWW 365

Good afternoon from sodden Kent. Our back yard is under water. And it's June 1st. There is a heat wave forecast for next week. Great British weather eh?

Today you happen by my blog as I take part in What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday for the first time in... (looks back in blog history)... a year! A year? Wow. But this week is the week for restarting things on my blog so what better time?

Today we are at my indoors desk which is now situated in my bedroom. Usually it's lovely and bright and airy up here because I'm in the attic room. But did I mention the weather? So please excuse the terrible lighting here.
Not much creative going on... yet. I have my index cards in preparation of starting (and completing godammit!) Index Card a Day.

The notepad is because I am currently doing a couple of online classes and am being all studious and taking notes. One is through the Society of Visual Storytellers and the other is a free one through The Shaw Academy. Hopefully there will be less note taking and more pretties to show you next time.

My thoughts are with Julia, the creator of WOYWW and her family today as she comes out the other side of her operation. Sending the hugest hugs possible from me and mine Julia. 

If you would like to join in today and show your creative space and also see where many other people work and play - then hop on over to LLJans place to link up and find everyone else.

Any questions? Leave me a comment and I'll reply there and via email if you have one associated with your name. 

Thanks for stopping by today :)

That Was Then and This Is Now

I have been  putting off doing this post for ages. I have neglected and missed my lovely blog for to long. Purely for lack of time. But it feels like I have forgotten how to do it or where to start.

So I'm just going to do what I do best. Ramble. Maybe a stream of thought will emerge as I go along.

I have missed this, missed connecting through here. Oh I know there's Facebook and it feels like a lot of the blogs I used to follow have stopped posting and switched to posting there or on Instagram but I want to fight that trend. I'm digging my heels in. This blog, started originally as a way to store photos when an old pc was dying, has brought me so much. Friends, confidence to explore, an improved mental attitude (through Rocking Fridays - thank you Virginia) my first sales, confidence to go back to school, BACK TO SCHOOL! At 38. I was so flaming scared. But the support through here and by my family had me doing a Maths GCSE and then a pre-degree Art & Design course. It's been a weird and wonderful couple of years.

Isn't it funny though that the platform that helped me most has also been neglected the most. No more.

I have just finished the Art & Design Access. That consisted of 2 weekly rotations in Fine Art, Fashion & Textiles, Visual Communication and 3D. With Photography intertwined between them all. You then picked one of them as a pathway to finish the rest of your course on. Now I started this thinking I was going on to a Fine Art degree - mainly because I couldn't find any Illustration degrees locally but I had found a part time Fine Art degree at Canterbury Christchurch. Had attended their open day, seemed really amazing and they had guided me towards the UCA Access but told me not to let them steal me. Sorry guys.

I absolutely hated, with a passion, the Fine Art rotation. My head and heart just does not get Fine Art. At least, not what we covered in those two weeks. I add that last bit because a friend is currently doing a Fine Art degree in a different part of the country and I absolutely love what she is producing.

I was dreading the Fashion & Textiles rotation and was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved it. Lots of illustration involved, that helped but also the tactile nature of textiles. Loved it. Towards the end of that rotation I also took myself off on an outside workshop which involved sketching with thread - I'll post about that another day. So I was actually torn between Fashion & Textiles and Visual Communication in the end but went with Vis Comm for a couple of reasons. Illustration was a big thing in there. A friend who was going into Fashion warned me that I might have to go in extra days for sewing workshops which I just couldn't do and she did end up going in nearly every day. I was also worried it would be heavily fashion based and I really have zero interest in that.

I learnt so much in Vis Comm, we covered Typography, Graphic Design, Illustration, different artists I'd never heard of... some I knew their work but not the names... The input and feedback was brutally honest but not nasty. It was all helpful and positively enforced with what to do to improve. How to push yourself and take things further. Think outside the box (and sometimes realise, you know what? I'm getting back in my box!) And yet I don't think we even scratched the surface. I want to learn so much more.

So we come to the end. We had 10 weeks leading up to our final pieces that were then, and still are until the 12th of June, exhibited. Mine was based on Folklore - it changed loads over that 10 weeks. I ended up basing it on my local area and creating a new folklore legend from animals that are abundant here. I used lino cutting which I never had before and I taught myself through Youtube videos.

Am I happy with my final piece? Yes and no. I had intended there to be four different images. I managed one 12 x12" image. I seriously underestimated the designing time, ended up cutting - I think it was 4 versions of my final tile before I was happy. Then you see the exhibition and there is all this amazing work on display and I just wish I had got done what I wanted done.

BUT...

It is the best thing I have ever done. I am not one for saying I like my own work usually but I frigging love my final piece. It may not be enough to get the grade I was secretly hoping for. In fact I know it isn't. But I love it. I love the detail in it. I love that I persevered to do one really good piece rather than a few mediocre ones. I love that I taught myself to do it. There is literally blood, sweat and tears in that thing. And I am super proud of it.
Carmen Wing : Werebatbunny - lino print
And then there is what happens next.  I have accepted a degree place at Canterbury UCA on their Illustration & Animation degree - a new course which is why I never found it before. I have deferred for a year while Mr Bear is still half days at nursery. In some ways I am a little heartbroken to do that. In other ways, it gives me time to think. 

This year has been one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life. It's also been one of the most stressful and knackering. I'm going to try and go self employed this year, properly focus, not just mess about. I have signed up to and been accepted on an English GCSE course... I've also taken out a years subscription for classes with The Society of Visual Storytelling. Sooo... still going to be pretty busy. Plus - the Illustration degree does not do part time. I find it really odd that the same uni that caters for you to prepare for uni part time doesn't then allow you to do the actual degree part time. It doesn't work out part time at all when you add up what you do at home but I don't think I could physically get myself there and be back here for school times. I'm going to go on an open day soon and have a chat with them about  my options. Surely I'm not the first to come up against this problem. BUT if I can get myself enough work in the meantime I may not even need to go. I will miss my desk buddy who is starting there this year, different course but same area of the uni. But - like I say, going to be busy anyway.

Well will you look at that? I rambled long enough that I got myself a blog post. Now that I've dipped my toe in I am going to come back soon and do a more pretty one showing some stages of my final piece and some other bits from school. Plus - I am taking part in and determined to actually finish ICAD this year. I'm going to be dragging out and dusting off my sewing machine to explore textiles a wee bit more.

 Looking forward to catching up - thanks for stopping by today :)

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