Friday 31 January 2020

The Road to Papagayo....

Lanzarote is small, a bit like a Cornwall in as much as it doesn’t take long to get to anywhere from there or here, and everywhere is a view. The getting there is good too, miles of tarmac road - professional and serious hobby cyclists ride here in the gruelling heat, up and down the volcanoes for pleasure, so the roads must be good. Tyres? I’ve got thicker soles on my sandals. 
We hired a small car and hoped it would have the grunt to manage some miles. It did. It actually was a superstar of a car that passed the ultimate hire car test - it survived the road to Papagayo.
There is a town and a stretch of coast called Playa Blanca (white beach) and everyone said how lovely Papagayo was, especially as a contrast to the shiny black lava beaches that we had so far been fascinated by. So we checked maps, slapped on the sun cream and set off. It wasn’t difficult to find Playa Blanca, it’s on the coast and apart from a couple of dormant volcanoes to go up and come down, a coast road is a coast road, huh. (The question of WHY the roads weren’t built around the bases of the volcanoes is a whole other thing...and there will be more on that, I almost guarantee it). We had been chatting that all the major roads in Lanzarote seemed relatively new and lovely, smooth and quiet. Absolutely perfect for the pelotons that we encountered and in some cases caused us some fear. So imagine our surprise when having turned appropriately right off a roundabout signposted ‘Papagaya’, the tarmac came to a stop. There was a clunk as we bumped onto the erm, temporary road and wondered if we were allowed to continue. We were actually overtaken by a couple of locals, so decided to press on. I can’t tell you how we laughed as we bumped, pinged and created dust clouds on this clearly marked out but totally un-made road across a lava field. Luckily, we said, it’ll be short and relatively flat.

It was neither. After about two kilometres we were a little fed up and Mr Dunnit a little fretful about stones damaging paintwork or potholes causing the loss of car parts...there were hub caps and exhaust boxes visible to illustrate his fret. But, we’re nothing if not English, and other people were driving the road, so we carried on. And blow me, a building appeared on the horizon. We thought it might be the civilisation of a beach cafe. Not likely. It was a toll! We parted, lamb like and without argument, with €3 and set off for another 3 kilometres of driving across the grittiest, pot holiest and boob jigglingist surface ever. 
I was a little hysterical when we finally spotted the edge of the was so obvious that it had blown out and formed a beach. And it was it’s own windbreak. A hike on jelly legs down and it was lovely. The socks and shoes came off and we did paddle. But that was all, it was very extremely cold. Hell, the Atlantico in January, of course it was cold....but it looked wonderful and inviting and calm and there were swimmers. Probably Northern Europeans made of sterner stuff. Or people who drive 4x4s and had barely noticed the bone rattling tooth shaking route and didn’t have jelly legs. We walked a bit, up hill of course, and found a beach cafe right on the rim of the old volcano that I could have stayed in forever. 
We nearly had to. I was made breathless by the climb from the beach so was feeling a little vulnerable when Mr Dunnit told me that a bottle of Fanta Limon was €5. Yikes. And a return journey to face. Several reasons then, for remembering the road to Papagayo!

Wednesday 29 January 2020

What’s On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 556

This is scheduled today, for your erm, viewing pleasure. We’re out and about early to make the most of our last full day. 
Our little balcony is in the shade in the late afternoon and we’d had a hot day out so were enjoying a quiet, shady cuppa. I did a bit of stitching whilst we decided what to do with our evening. 
Regulars will appreciate knowing that there has been some progress on this ‘zenbroidery’. I take it with me on holidays and twice a month to a two hour, afternoon craft bee. Sometimes I do five stitches in between tea making and gassing, sometimes I do a little more. I’m completely over how long it’s going to take, and am just happy to enjoy a craft that is so much more portable than card making or scrapbooking!
So, show us your works, do. Have a little brag if you’ve got something new. We call it ‘enabling’, show off in a helpful manner in case your fellow Deskers may need what you’ve got. Is a sisterhood, see. I’ll visit once the Sangria jug is empty....can’t quite say when..

Sunday 26 January 2020

Social history

The title is a bit misleading, but if I’d called it ‘my holiday’, you wouldn’t have bothered visiting, huh. People’s holiday blog posts can be a little of the erm, photo heavy bragging variety, can’t they. Of course this is no exception.

Whilst other, noble souls live in our house and man the work phone line - I can just hear her saying, ‘oh they’re away at the moment, try his mobile number’ - we two Dunnits are languishing in Lanzarote. It’s one of the Canary Isles. It’s 74.something miles from the coast of west Africa and on GMT which has not, I’m delighted to say, caught us out. Others have been more confused. I have to say that Mr Dunnit and I, who are struggling to stay in our fifties, are improving the average age at this particular resort. By about a millennia. But, it’s lovely to be referred to as a youngster by the residents and deferred to as a grown up by the children masquerading as staff, so it’s all good. 
Lanzarote is small-ish, and like the other Islands in this chain, formed by its volcanic history. There are golden beaches, but also there aren’t; lava and volcanic dust are evident everywhere. The fields are purposefully covered in the black dust after holds moisture like a sponge, and because of the trade winds, overnight dew is pretty much the only moisture. 150mm of rainfall a year doesn’t encourage much growth. And yet.....there are vineyards. I know this because we did a fabulous Wine & Tapas tour of three Bodegas yesterday. First sip of wine was at 11am. Luckily and as predicted, they were all dry and fancy, so I didn’t really love them, which kept my volume, tact and friendliness at an acceptable level. It was fascinating.
Vines are planted deep below the volcanic dust and encouraged to spread rather than clamber. The little walls are wind breaks (it is constantly windy on the high ground and the wind kills any growth that pokes its head over the wall!). Harvesting has to be done by hand, on the black lava dust, in temperatures that exceed 110. There have to be easier ways to earn a living. Certainly I cannot understand how a Bodega that produces say 5000 bottles a year can afford to sell them at 9 or 10 Euros each. They can’t be paying themselves much at all.

To be honest, my interest in the Wine tour was the same one that started WOYWW! Bodegas are the home businesses of lovely Canary locals and they were charming. Obviously because I’m English and have impeccable manners, I did not take any photos inside their homes. Sitting around tables under the shade of massive vines or beautifully kept stucco and sipping from their produce, eating homemade cheeses and getting ‘strawberries, and end notes of citrus’, whipping the old phone out to take some pictures would have been crass. After the third tasting, we were taken to a roadside cafe for a tapas lunch. You know the sort of cafe...where all the signage is faded by years of sun exposure, the shutters are drawn and paint peeling, and any locals around stop to watch you as you negotiate the broken steps. In short, the sort of place that we would never be brave enough to try. On Lanzarote, there a ‘teleclubs’ such as this in a fair few small towns across the island. The first house that had television was frequented by other villagers until it was a bar and food place. They seem still to be community centred and again, absolutely lovely. Lively and local, and with those straight backed chairs that force you into excellent posture!  I could not understand a word of the thick, treacle like Spanish being spoken at speed, but the lady who served our party was valiant in her attempt at explaining round after round of tapas. And of course, we relied, child like on Dan -  our extremely young, knowledgeable, personable young man of a tour guide. There was a feast, and despite being full, we were reluctant to finish. A chickpea and something stew, a goat and something else stew, fresh fish fingers (!), fried cheese, canarian potatoes, a salad with jam, lettuce, mozzarella and extra thick, probably years old balsamic vinegar....oh my life it was wonderful. If you’re planning a visit to Lanzarote, I recommend this tour. And they haven’t even paid me to say that.
 ( @winetourslanzarote on FB if you’re really interested).
Here we are, lily-white and tourist looking, outside the second Bodega. Note two things...Mr Dunnit will not appreciate the exposure, specially because we can’t work out how to change the mirroring image thing on his phone, but what the hell. And hey, my wonky face really appreciates the warm sun and would definitely benefit from longer than a week. I’m telling you this because I’ve already told Mr Dunnit and been pretty much ignored on the matter.
There will be more, but you don’t have to read what has essentially turned into a holiday diary; I’m really enchanted by Lanzarote. The clue will be photos that involve sunshine. 

Wednesday 22 January 2020

What’s On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 555

Oh dear, gentle Desker. It looks as if a lot of people have been dumping stuff on my desk.Of course that isn’t the case. It’s just me. I haven’t done much at the old desk this week, but I did go to Crop on Saturday and that counts, huh. The keyboard is there - it’s presence makes more sense if you imagine the iPad on the stand. It’s not on the stand because I used it to take the onto. Ohemgee are you still reading?!!  The t shirt has just made it from the bottom of a very large pile that I ironed yesterday. It now needs to be posted to Miss Dunnit. She left it behind after a Christmas; looks like a three week turn around on anything needs ironing after washing! There’s a scattering of new on the desk too...I bought some more Tri-Blend pens yesterday and they are at right.I'm gonna make a chart of colours what I own so I don’t buy doubles. You’ll see. Wanna bit of enabling?
This was Shopkeeper Gal’s desk yesterday. New stuff from Crafter’s Companion. The MH stamp set on the left made me think of Shazza The Enabler, so I thought to take a photo! So, to go back to my desk briefly - that upside down Donkey face on a card on my iPad stand kind of sums up the week so far! Show us your desk, space, what you’re working on, please. Put WOYWW in your post title and link the post here please- remember that your post needs to feature your desk/table/lap tray/what ever you’re currently working on. ( I note with green eyes that some will be working on moving into a brand new kitchen, for example....) thank you!

Saturday 18 January 2020

Love a good Sale!

I bought this lot in the sale at Kraft Crazy. It’s not that I’d had my eye on them prior to the sale, or that I erm, need anything in particular, it’s just that at the time of browsing, I liked them. 
And to be honest, with clear stamps, I really have to like them. I know there’s going to be a day when there is absolutely no choice and I know too, that we’re very close to that day. But it probably won’t stop me whining about how much I miss wood mounts. So there. Now, when I picked them up and looked at them, I thought the ‘Fifties’ stamps could be fun and an idea came to me. Obviously, between buying them and them having a little rest (of a week) in a bag by my desk, I have completely forgotten the any idea. No need to offer advice about carrying a notebook at all times. I do. It’s just that I get these ideas and they’re so strong, so vivid, that I think I can’t possibly forget them. Fool me once....ha! I would say watch this space, but what I’m actually hoping for is a flurry of comments filled with ideas - it’s not too much to ask is it, kind, friendly, inspirational reader?

Wednesday 15 January 2020

What’s On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 554

Well, I sort of justified the mess that you can see in my last post. I’ve had five minutes here and there and just carried on adding to it. 
You can see a pair of legs just poking out from the mess on the glass mat. It’s a Julie Nutting figure. I got carried away and thought a couple of cards with this gal on it would be nice. But oh boy, it takes so long to colour and piece and cut out....really stopped me in my tracks! I can see 3 pairs of scissors and a scalpel, not bad. On the far right is a Christmas bauble stencil...I love the swirly design and use it quite a lot, so I don’t include it in my Christmas box of stash that goes well away for a rest. You can see upturned wood mounted stamps scattered a bit at right...and a teetering pile too. It will all be sorted this morning before I have to go out. I need to come back and not have to face it! Want a twofer? Here’s the opened an in use box of cards and envelopes that I’m slowly using up. I can’t use them for workshops because there aren’t enough of each, or they aren’t available any more, so it’s a slow but steady thing. But now they’re in this long box and I can see them all, I am actually using them. Lots, huh.
 Bonus...with the lid on, this box makes a marvellous foot rest! The two boxes at left contain tools and multiples for workshops etc. And there’s a set of drawers that contains my much reduced clear stamps. Sorting and clearing continues. An idea for a really decent way to store the clear stamps would be welcome....I think they are much harder than wood mounts to look after and store.
Enough already, please share and tell with your own spaces, it’s where the best ideas come from!

Monday 13 January 2020


The time I’ve spent enjoying my wood mounts and making cards has diminished as the reality of New Year, work and routine has fully emerged. I’ve been doing that five minutes here and there thing. It’s ok,it gets stuff done, but oh my word, it feels slow. It also leads to another as yet unnamed phenomenon which I’m sure you’ll be familiar with, whatever your crafty passion. You know the one where you get stuck in for five minutes and just as you’re immersed, totally in the zone and starting to breathe ideas in and out. BANG, time’s up and real life clears your vision and forces you to step away from the inspiration and re-focus. It happens frequently here. So frequently that I don’t even hate it anymore....I’m just resigned to it. The silver lining is that this phenomenon doesn’t put me off bothering with the odd five minutes desk time. I’d never get anything done if I let it!
I’ve been playing with layers of ink rather than layers of paper, and will prolly continue to do so...the cards aren’t CAS, indeed some of them have a ‘layer’, but they aren’t heavy with layers either. Easier to post, although not exactly what I was thinking about as I made them. I’m enjoying the idea of making a card in a single colour. I’ve used an old Stamping Up! set and some of my lovely wood mounts for this selection. Its lovely to just pull a few stamps off the shelf and just use them with no thought of availability or age, something that I have to bear in mind when I’m trying to do workshop samples. I have to clear the desk off and start those very soon. If you’re currently in the middle of a ‘thing’ for a particular style, stamp, colour, direct us to your blog for a look will ya?

Friday 10 January 2020

Filling up your new diary...

There’s never a bad time to remind you that we’re holding a WOYWW Crop in Shrewsbury on Saturday June 6th. And you’re welcome. I hope this gives you some planning time. Make it a resolution. Write it in your new diary and look forward to it. Shropshire is beeyoooootiful, you can make a short break of it and see something other than all of us!  We don’t need a massive commitment from you right now, but we will ask for numbers nearer the time. Because we need to know about setting out enough chairs and bringing enough mugs. And food. There is always food where crafters meet. 
Now, when I say ‘we’, I really mean ‘they’. I just roll up and have a nice time, much like every other Desker that comes. But Wipso and Twiglet are hosting. Which is a euphemism for ‘doing all the work’.  Here they are, hard at work. Just as you will be when you come to Crop.
Consider the poor photograph of the LO as an attempt to add a lovely shiny light to the Stichsters. 

Wednesday 8 January 2020

What’s On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 553

My word Deskers, I’ve had a week of easing back into routine. You can’t tell because you were never shown the problem, but I’ve done a lot of sorting; the empty space behind me is bigger and the box at my feet now contains cards and envelopes that are sorted and useable. Oh, you can’t see that either! 
Two things strike me can see the wooden desk surface which hasn’t early happened for a while, and - I have real card making with real wooden stamps going on! Bee elll double isss. Bliss. There is plenty to do in the next week, but I’m going to try really hard to make a stash of cards just for the love of the stamps. They’ll be simple and uncomplicated because otherwise I’ll get a ‘thing’ about using techniques, or not being able to get the idea from head to paper, so it’s all systems go with the flow here!
So how’re you doing? using your workspace already this year? Show and tell please. Perhaps enjoy this teeny unchanging section of 2020!

Sunday 5 January 2020

Can we talk? surfaces....

If you visit here on a Wednesday, you can have access to a number of work surfaces. You can even show us yours. We’d like that. But here now today, I’d like to talk specifically about MY work surface. 
Not the desk per se, but what I put on top of it.
I have a square glass cutting mat with a grid printed on it. Love it. Don’t want to talk about that, either.
For messy work, I have an A2 art pad which sits under my desk until required. No need to talk about that.
What comes next? Well, you might recognise this.
The actual project. And that makes it instantly vulnerable! 
I mean it. If you’ve seen my WOYWW posts, you’ll know that I work in a mess. I can reduce my working space to the size of the card or the Layout I’m working on in seconds. Harmless, right? Whatever makes me happy, keeps me crafting? Yeah right.
I’ve got the mat, block of paper for Messy work. Two moans here...the Cosmic Shimmer Mist will not spray anymore and despite hot water and patience, it STILL WILL NOT SPRAY. Consequently, see, I tap the squirt tube over the card stock that needs to have a sprinkle of cosmic on it. And because it needs to be regularly put back in the bottle to pick up more Cosmicness, I managed to POUR it over the card because I wasn’t concentrating on bottle angles, left hands etc. Cosmic, just pigging cosmic. 
But Julia you say, that was an accident. Mmmmm. It certainly wasn’t deliberate.
Here’s a nice enough Layout completed for a challenge just before Christmas. It was meant to be on a plain piece of card, but guess what. I had decided to try to make the pink of my gorgeous Mother’s outfit stand out. It looks quite white in the picture, but I promise it wasn’t. After all, she would never ever ever have worn a white outfit at her daughter’s wedding, huh. I digress. I wanted a stamped and interesting wordy, curlicue flourished, patterny background so I started with a plan to layer the stamping. Having added the title, I went away to do something domestic and pointless. When I returned, I had to make a card using cosmic Shimmer Mist because I’d had a bit of a bad time with one I’d tried to make earlier. So I plonked the card on top of the Layout and lo and behold, ruined both!  
Doesn't the pink look vile, actually? It wasn’t so pink in real life. Specially after I’d shimmered the Cosmic. Same hateful problem hours apart. You’d think a gal would learn huh. Well I have learned. I’ve learned that I’m not going to  use that Cosmic spray stuff anymore. Paintbrushes for me. Other bad habits? Too late to change, new year or not.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

What’s On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 552

Isnt it amazing that we should happen to come together for New Year’s Day. You’re welcome, because of course I planned it! Ho Ho Ho. 
I have nothing of import or interest to show you, so here’s the extension that you’ve had to watch evolving. The other end will be a kitchen and it’s not finished. But there’s time. At least the dust is gone!

Please accept my Happy New Year wishes, whatever, wherever and however, I wish you improvement on last year and very much hope that you’ll continue to blog and read blogs too! Huge love to you across these interweb waves. 2020? Bring it on: in a together frame of mind we can take on anything! 

Well, not quite anything. I’m away and trying to do this from my phone. I cannot add Mr Linky, and frankly, can’t spend any more time trying for fear of offending my hosts. Either link in your comment or...have a link holiday! Xx