Sunday, 19 October 2014

Childhood revisited

Good morning, Yesterday was a time for reflection and families. I was out of the house from 8am till 11pm, hence no blog post. It was all about going back to where I spent my childhood, visiting the village where I grew up, and the village where I went to school, but hey, it wasn't about me, it was about Stephen. 
Stephen was my brother, he was our brother. We were three, two sisters and a brother, now we are two. Stephen died four years ago in India. Although this is not the anniversary of his death, his widow feels now is the time to lay him to rest. And so it was that yesterday we made the same journey to the crematorium, as we did 32 years ago, to say goodbye to our mother. 
Very few words are needed for this post. Enjoy the Autumn pictures.

Afterwards we went to Stretton to see the house where we grew up, it looks so different now. Then we went to Rolleston, the school is no longer there, and we had lunch in the Spread Eagle Hotel.

Rolleston Church.

A pretty cottage nearby.
The brook runs alongside the hotel. 
Past this lovely old house which is now a hotel......

next to this little footbridge which goes over the stream where Stephen and Anna used to go fishing. This was his favourite place to play.

Later on, after a meal back home, our sister in law caught the train back to London, and I went to visit Uncle Stan and Auntie Pat, before I drove home.

Thank you for reading. Have a nice Sunday.

Friday, 17 October 2014

A hand made gift for Christmas

Hello. I took a day off the picture project today, sometimes you just have to stand back and look at things. Instead I had a go at making something I saw in a sewing magazine that my friend lent me. It's a really good magazine called Stitch, lots of projects to try. I thought I would get it on a subscription, but I find that it isn't on the Tesco spend your vouchers list. On the web site it quotes £25.50 for one year, six issues. I'll stick with the library books and yoootooob for sewing information. 
I knocked up this fab little bowl in a couple of hours. First I have lots of these dry wipe squares, someone gave me several packets. I decided five squares would be the right thickness.  
Next cut small pieces of fabric, random shapes, and arrange them on the square. I chose a pink and red theme, and added small sequins, snippets of felt, and pieces of wool.

Then on the top I covered it with a very fine see through red net, and on the bottom a piece of red felt, making a sandwich. Pin it together and carry it to the machine, making sure none of the pieces are dislodged.

Set the machine to a zigzag, I started round the edge in ever decreasing squares finishing in the middle. Then trim off the excess to make a neat square.

Next I pinned some blue satin binding around the outside, and hand stitched the corners before I  machined it around the edge with a straight stitch. The magazine article says sew cord around the edge, but I didn't have enough of the right colour. You could cut the plain felt backing larger and fold it over the edge to the front to make the border.

Next fold the square in half and put a few stitches at each end where the pin is. Fold it again in the other direction and stitch again. 
And that makes a little bowl. You could put tassels on the corners, you could make it bigger or smaller. You could put sweeties in it, or make some as Christmas pressies. If you put a gift inside you could add a piece of ribbon on each of the four points and tie them in the middle to close it up. Put beads on them if you like.

I might make some more of these in different colours. Something else to put on my 'to do' list. Do you fancy making one? Go on, have a go. Make someone a gift for Christmas.

Have a nice weekend, Toodle pip.

PS. A comment has just come in on an old post. Thank you, The Reason I Save, you are very kind.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Time to move on

Hello hello hello, someone has asked a question, so instead of trying to cram the answer into a comment, I will give you the full Monty here in another post. Crafty eh! Look to my readers for ideas on what to write about, saves getting my knickers in a twist as I delve into my many topics trying to decide what to say next. So I'll crack on and bash this one out, then I can get on with other things.

You have the right idea Ilona! 
Were you stressed during your driving days?

Thank you Anon for your question, funnily enough I was only thinking about this when I got up this morning. What part did choices play in my work as a lorry driver? First of all, I could have done the job half heartedly, the bare minimum just to get by, but I chose to put all my efforts into it and do it the best way I could. All eyes were on me, so it was important I did not let myself down. Easy decision.

Once I had laid down my own rules, commitment to the company, look after the vehicle I had been given, look after the load and deliver it in good condition, and return to base with an empty lorry. OK, mistakes happen, it is not a perfect world, but as long as I tried my best, that's all I could do.

There were stresses to address, but mostly these were foisted on me by outside influences. It was up to me how I dealt with it. For instance, I would arrive at a delivery point, say a big distribution depot, and find I had to wait several hours before they could unload me. So, I had choices, rant and rave, no point it did not make any difference. Ask if I could be next on the loading bay because I had another delivery. Sometimes that worked so worth a try. But if I had to wait I would, lie in the bunk and snooze, read a magazine, listen to the radio, or, and this might sound daft, I walked round and round my lorry and trailer 20, 30, or 50 times. I find physical activity very good for the brain, and also of course my body was getting the exercise.

Something else that could be a bit stressful was deciding which route to take, to get me to my destination with the least hassle. Avoiding town centres, peak hours on a jam packed road, and roadworks on motorways. To help me I had hundreds of maps, still got them. As you know I still like map reading. There was lots of choices there, which could have been quite stressful, but I looked on it as a challenge. I still look at a map now and measure a route in terms of how long it will take me to get there, rather than how far is it. A bit of forward planning can reduce the stress levels.

Multi drops could be quite stressful. Sometimes they were routed by the office and I just followed the plan, but often I had to decide which order to do them in. This is where the street maps came in handy. There was one job, I had a trailer load of bicycles, triple decked, three high in the trailer. I set off on a Monday morning, the bicycles were loaded in order of delivery, so if all the shops were open when I got there everything went according to plan, but often they weren't. Half day closing, closed for lunch, that mucked the system up. So then I had the choice to go the the next shop and come back later, that's if I could shuffle the bikes around to get at the ones behind. These were minor stresses which were beyond my control. As long as I had done my best I was happy.

Getting a large vehicle stuck in a dead end street is a bit stressful. No way out but to reverse back. It happened to me in a busy street in London. What I would normally do is park before I got there, and walk down the street and check it out before I drove down. On this occasion I was in a hurry and didn't check. Oooops. Nothing for it but to ring the local constabulary and ask for assistance in getting out. It was too dangerous to do it by myself, and I wasn't about to trust some passing stranger to help me.

Ok, so here's an example of a wrong decision which had disastrous consequences, therefore caused me a lot of stress. I was under pressure from the company to get to a delivery point, discharge my load, and get back to the depot pronto for reloading. I hadn't planned on going back, preferring to have a night out in the cab, because I felt I had done enough that day. I worked it out, reckoned I might just be able to do it within my legal hours, such was my ethos for doing the job to the best of my ability. I saw the gate at the entrance to the factory and threw the lorry into it. Kerrrrunch. I wrapped the trailer round the gate post. Now you can see how that could be stressful. Three days off the road waiting for it to be repaired. After much deliberation I concluded that although the company shouldn't have put me under that much pressure, it was my hands on the steering wheel, I should have said no. What actually brought the seriousness of that incident home to me, was that someone could have been killed. Thank God it was in a quiet road in the middle of the countryside.

Quick answer to Anon, yes, sometimes, but not for long. I treated every day as a fresh new start. I couldn't change what had happened the day before, it had gone, finished, so move on. 

So, today I have moved on from yesterday. I have whittled down the amount of decisions I make. I use the same principals as separating needs and wants. I need to buy a bottle of wash up liquid, but I don't need 21 different kinds. I need to keep my house clean, but I don't need to spend hours running the dyson round. I know I am going to eat tomorrow, I don't need to know what I am going to eat.  Cost determines a lot of what I do now, so the only questions I ask myself, are, how much is it, have I got enough money to pay for it, and then I make the decision, do I actually need to buy it.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with choices, too many decisions, causing too much stress, dump some of them. Banish them from your life, have a declutter. Ok, the big decisions, the life changing decisions still have to be made, but I'm talking about the piddling little decisions, the ones which are taking up valuable space in your head. Space that could be better used for your general well being and peace of mind. Think about what makes you happy and concentrate on that.

I could go on, but I'll stop now. My stomach is telling me to eat, so I will, that's one decision I don't have to make, my body tells me when it's time to shovel something down there. Hmmm, might have some eggs, I'll decide between now and when I walk into the kitchen, about 30 seconds.
Thanks for deciding to read.
Best wishes. Ilona      

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Too many choices make a complicated life.

Hello. Today has brought wind and some rain, but not as much as yesterday. It's also a little bit warmer. I've been sewing, working on the picture. Now I have two trees, a turquoise one and a red one. I was thinking I need three trees but not so sure now. I wonder if I ought to make a few smaller trees. I have made some leaves out of felt, think that's a good idea, but how many shall I make. All these choices. I suppose that's what art is all about, shall I use this colour, or that colour. It's nice to have the freedom, to take it in whichever direction I choose, but with freedom comes many more decisions to make.

Plenty of time to think today, while I sew. Am I the only one who thinks the fewer choices we have makes life a lot more simpler. I am limited by what I can buy because I have a small income. It is not so small that I have to go without, I have enough, but if I had less money my options would be a lot less, so there would be less to think about. I could cope with that. But if I had more money, that would give me more choices, and I'm not sure that would give me a better life.

I like things being simple. When my heating didn't work I didn't have to make the decision on whether to turn it on or not, whether I could afford to heat the house. There was no decision, it didn't work, end of story, so I managed. Making decisions takes discipline. I am laid back, I only make the decisions I have to make, on important matters, everything else gets pushed to one side and I say I'll deal with it later. Like, getting the dyson out, I think about it for a few days, and ignore it. It's not important that I clean the floor today, might do it tomorrow, or the day after.

In the supermarket there are far too many choices, I don't need twenty kinds of baked beans to choose from, or ten kinds of fruit juice or soya milk. And why so many different kinds of cereals. Bran flakes do me fine. I eliminate a lot of choices when I go shopping, I am blinkered as I walk down the aisles. I totally ignore the stuff I don't want, don't even see it. Every so often I will try something new, but only if it is a reasonable price, and only if I spot it while looking for something else. I skim over the shelves, not really seeing what is there, I just look for what I know I want. I have already decided before I go, what I want. I don't have to think about shall I get this, or shall I get that. My mind is already made up.

When I drive my car I have my radio programmed to Radio 2, 3, and 4, that's all I listen to. I don't fiddle with cd's, because then I would have to decide which one to play. In fact I have only got about half a dozen anyway. My radio at home is tuned into Radio 2 and 4, and local Radio Humberside. If there is nothing on those stations I want to listen to, I switch it off. I can play cd's, records, and tapes, but rarely do, I like the quite. I can hear the rain while I type this, there must be a metal cover on my chimney pot, when the rain hits it the clinking sound echoes down into the living room.

I don't do meal planning because I don't want to think about what I am going to eat until half an hour before I eat it. There is no food prepping in my house, my cooking is quick and simple.

It's good to plan a holiday, but not to the point of stressing about it. The bus holiday I did, I didn't have a route, just a destination. No accommodation booked, take whatever I could find. Come back when I felt like it. No worries about missing a bus, there will always be another one. When on my walking trips, I don't plan exactly which route I will take, just a possible route, which always changes along the way. I make my choices while actually walking, because my mind is cleared of everything else.

I have decided not to go shopping this week, so that has eliminated a whole lot of choices.

Eliminating  trivial choices gives me freedom to think about the really important things in life, like happiness and contentment. I often say freedom to choose is very important, and it is, but I don't want so many options that I am overwhelmed. Making lots of decisions uses too much brain power, so I weedle out what is important and dump the rest. When I am deciding which way to go with the art work, all other decisions go out of the window. I want to make it the best I can so other stuff has to wait.

At this time of night I start winding down, it's time for relaxing, for switching off. I've just decided to have some rice pudding, that will be my last decision of the day.

Here is your question for today. Can you prioritize your options, switch off from those that aren't important, and decide which to deal with and which to push to one side?