Down in the big city

London is only 1.5 hours from here but it still feels like a big adventure. It’s everyday life for so many people but I’m not used to the crowds and noise and size of the city. There’s so much there that I’ve never seen, and I could have a great shopping trip if I ever go without other plans that keep me busy!

I spent the afternoon of the Friday by myself in the Victoria and Albert museum – there’s some amazing displays of world art and culture, fashion, jewellery, sculpture, antiquities… It’s easy to get drawn in for hours!

From left: V&A Museum entrance hall, Natural History museum, V&A Museum courtyard

Of course it’s getting dark so early now. Unfortunately the full Christmas lights weren’t lit when I was there, but Christmas is definitely approaching. I love visiting Liberty’s – I can’t afford much in there, I now have my diary for next year but I managed to resist the fabric this time πŸ™‚ We also did a lot of wandering around some of the more well known areas. Sometimes I just need to be somewhere different, and London has plenty of distractions!

From top left: Liberty’s, Carnaby Street rebel Christmas lights, Leicester Square Christmas market, Covent Garden market

Too many advent calendars?

Is too many advent calendars possible?! Last year I joined a swap-bot swap for an advent calendar and loved it. I received a huge box of countdown gifts from USA, items still in use include the huge mug currently storing sewing supplies and the toothpaste squeezer – practical gifts mixed in with the craft supplies and sweets. Around October I started to look out for advent swaps but got disappointed, it might seem early but larger swaps that will travel the globe before December starts need time to create and send.

But then I found the European flat items advent calendar!

And the international advent swap!

And the UK stationery advent calendar!

And I suddenly had 3 advent calendars to prepare… By now I have a big stash of stationery, and all kinds of gifts so I didn’t need to buy much to put all the parcels together, although it’s been a while since I posted so much at once!

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Just beyond the city…

I don’t have to go far to find fields and rolling countryside. A few weeks ago it only took a few minutes walk from where I met the Meet-up group to have escaped the city and be able to enjoy the rural autumn. I haven’t done much walking close to Derby, and I don’t know the North of the city well, so it was still somewhere new to explore even if it isn’t exactly the Himalayas πŸ™‚ It wasn’t a strenuous or wild walk, just lots of farms and distant views of the city in the sunshine. We also saw a couple of what I think are WWII watch towers – Derby has a long history of engineering so it was probably a likely target… We only got slightly lost once, and like any good walk it ended at a good cafe for lunch and a chance to properly socialise .

In the new year I want to properly start walking again – before Christmas there’s just too much other stuff to do!

October’s month of happy mail

I really enjoy month long swaps, I can look into all of my swap partners interests and find lots of cards and items that I hope they’ll like. I usually select everything at the start of the month and have it ready to go, one of the best parts is matching cards and gifts to someones profile. And it’s a guaranteed series of things arriving in my letter box! The requirements for this swap were to send 7 items over the month, including one letter. It’s all randomly assigned but last month I got really lucky with my partners. I could find lots of things in my stash to send, and received some amazing post that definitely made me happy πŸ™‚

Sent to USA:

I started with a card full of inspiring and fun quotes, with a few flat gifts. I sent 3 postcards over the month – one local view, one fun quote, and one colour changing patterned postcard. I wrote the required letter, sent a small shiny card with a few cheerful words, and finished with an envelope of happy mail – cute and colourful stickers, postcards and envelopes. And my swap partner loved it all!

Received from Switzerland:

I was so lucky to have a really creative swap partner. I received lots of fun and interesting things over the month. It started with a birthday card and some fun little gifts. I then received two envelopes numbered 2 and 3 – it turned out to be a set of 3 cards that make one picture sent from different locations on the same day, that can’t be read until all 3 cards are lined up because the message goes across all of the cards! The first two cards arrived on the Saturday, but I had to wait until Monday to read them πŸ™‚ I’ve displayed the fantasy Eiffel tower on my bedroom wall. I also received a flower skull card for Halloween, a postcard from Tenerife sent while my swap partner was on holiday, and possibly theΒ  best thing ever posted – a personal art gallery! It’s a concertina style ‘building’ full of pictures with tags explaining why she likes that painting or artist. I’ve got lots of new art to discover wandering around my private gallery πŸ™‚ I’ve also received a lot of beautifully decorated envelopes, I’m not sure what to do with them but it seems a shame to just throw them away…

I enjoyed this swap so much I’ve signed up to the December Christmas version too!

Sewing chaos

I’m in a weird mood with my sewing at the moment… I have a long list of planned projects (Christmas gifts, tops, sewing set, skirt, dress, birthday quilts) but I don’t seem to have the patience or the motivation to get on with things. I just want it all to be completed! And then I get frustrated that I haven’t achieved anything and stressed that nothing is ready, which is all ridiculous because it’s supposed to be fun. I can sit in the office all day mentally designing all sorts of things, but in the evenings I don’t seem to be doing more than the basics of living – eating, cleaning, sleeping… And recent weekends have been busy with events and trips and things like food shopping. I can probably blame the darkness and increasing cold, it’s much easier to curl up and read. No one but me will know if home made gifts never get given or finished, it just feels like there’s creativity going to waste somewhere. And I could really use some new tops and skirts and a way to organise my desk πŸ™‚

This is my sewing desk right now, featuring: the finished blue skirt that needs a hook to stop the zip undoing, a half finished grey skirt that ground to a halt when I couldn’t locate my zip foot in the mess, scattered fat quarters for Christmas gifts, a stack of fabric for organisational things for my desk, piled with dressmaking cottons and a vest top that I added sleeves to then tried to adjust and made a horrible mess of and just needs hemming as a vest to be wearable (but it looks like camouflage fabric from a distance so how wearable I’m not sure!). And the tubes are to store quilt binding.

I think I might be just a little overwhelmed. I’ll put some of it away and focus on one thing at a time – maybe that way I’ll get one thing finished πŸ™‚

Incoming postcards – time to consult an atlas

I was just think that Postcard United wasn’t much different from Postcrossing except the clunkier website, when a couple of much more unusual cards arrived πŸ™‚ Along with a few from travelling postcard pals and wandering family it’s been a proper global postal experience opening my letter box!

From top left: my Turkish postcard pal was visiting Athens and sent me this card of traditional Greek things; my Dad was in Spain (and wearing shorts while my extremities froze off, not fair!); the beautiful and mysterious looking girl is from a postcard pal in Russia, and I really like it although I have no clues about who or what it’s of; the lovely pink building is the Nassau public library, all the way from the Bahamas – first ever card from there πŸ™‚

And another first, a postcard and bank note from Guyana celebrating the anniversary of their independence. I’ll admit to checking the map for this one – north eastern South America if your geography is also lacking a little south of the equator πŸ™‚ I’m slowly and accidentally acquiring a foreign note collection, and I’ve checked the exchange rate – $50 is worth Β£0.20! Presumably it has more value in Guyana? Or possibly not if they’re posting them out to random postcarders… And I’ll take the stamps off the envelope and add them to my coffee table stamp display, it needs a bit of attention after moving house…

Who knows what and where I might receive next!

Outgoing postcards

I haven’t sent many postcards for a while, there’s been a lot of other things going on. But this morning I had the urge to post things! There’s a few replies to postcard pals and 6 cards through Postcards United. I thought I’d try it out and it’s a frustrating but addictive site, I’ve definitely got a lot more variety of countries in this batch. I have a feeling I’ll be alternating Postcrossing and Postcards United for a while…

The instagram camera is off to a postcard pal in Turkey, the cacti are going to a postcard pal in Russia, the night train is travelling to China, the London railway map poster is going to South Korea, old Queen Victoria is headed for the Bahamas, butterfly stamp to Indonesia, Matlock Bath is off to Luxembourg, the Derby Roundhouse illustration is going to Australia, and the mountain view is for a postcard pal in Hong Kong.

And now I’m off to post them all!

Bonfire night 2016

In 1605 a group of people plotted to kill King James I by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. Last night I took a steam train to a fireworks display. And weirdly those 2 events are directly related… I’m not sure anyone crowded around the bonfire in the railway yard last night was celebrating the preservation of the monarchy, but I really enjoyed the fireworksΒ  πŸ™‚ Today is actual bonfire night but I went walking earlier so I haven’t gone out again. The explosions haven’t stopped since it got dark, and while it’s great to be able to see the tops of 4 displays at once from the balcony the irregular bangs have started to get to me – so the music is on loud tonight!