It’s amazing what you can find online!

Back in the mists of time (well, 1972) one of our English Lecturers at Chichester College of Further Education issued a plea for some of us to take part in the search for Miss Chichester. He’d offered to help out in the event and was really worried there’d be no contestants! Doris Hare was appearing at the Festival Theatre and was head judge. Belinda Mayne, daughter of actor Ferdie Mayne became Miss Chichester, and yours truly, one of the two runners up!

We had the most amazing time attending all sorts of events some wonderful, some slightly weird. I have a memory of distributing wilted cornflowers to slightly bemused recipients at St Richards Hospital.

Our dresses were made by a wonderful seamstress from Fishbourne, white velvet for Belinda, orange, with huge white lined sleeves for the two runners up. I still have the dress in the attic. Nope, no way I can get it on these days!

I’ve never understood why I have no photographic evidence of any of the events! However, a bored moment last night had me searching on line again and look! Hidden in the crowds (and behind the other runner up…very ashamed I can’t remember her name) and really only recognisable by the orange dress and floppy hat, the only proof I WAS there! Not the best quality, but a precious memory!

Ok watch….you and I are about to get serious!

Yup, had my Apple Watch for nearly two years. Got it when I was diagnosed with Afib…..it’s great for tracking heart rate and performing an ECG. It was fascinating to see all the folk buying them in the Apple Store were an older demographic than you’d expect.

Do I take any notice of the fitness features? Of course..I always wear it when I know I’m actually going to DO some exercise. Haven’t worn it much in the last few weeks, I’ve got lockdown lethargy and am turning into a blob!

Got to do something. Decided it was time to be nagged. Managed a two mile walk in the rain before 8.00am. There were moments when it was horrible…but came back feeling a bit of va-va-vroom kicking in! Haven’t felt that for a long time.

Have fiddled with its settings so it nags me. A few minutes in and it’s noticed I was useless yesterday (yup, wasn’t wearing it) and suggests I do better today. Hum…..ok, I’ll give it a chance. Maybe til lunchtime….

Feeling smug….probably won’t last!

Where were you living when you were seven? What can you remember?

I know, it should have been five, but I found pictures, of when I was seven!

And if this stirs some memories for you – go on, share them in the comments box or email me – lets reminisce together!

Smiling, at seven, for professional photographer, Dad in his studio. Hated it when he entered photos of me in the Chichester Photographic Clubs annual competition!

For me, home was Hillfield Avenue, Selsey. Dad had fairly recently left the Marines and opened Selsey Photographic, mum sold handbags there, too (it’s now a tattoo parlour!).

It was home and shop, with a developing and printing works in what I guess was meant to be the garage. I remember it being dark….our love affair with lighting wasn’t much in evidence in the fifties but brown furniture was!

After a while the shop moved up to the High Street and we moved to live, to Latham Road, but it’s where we were when I was seven.

One day, thinking I was on my own in the house, I heard strange noises from the cupboard. Dad had decided to develop some wedding photos there rather than the workshop and was working his magic on rolls of 35mm film in his dark room. Opening the door let the light in…the wedding photos were ruined….disaster all around! Must be where my horror of having to open closed doors comes from!

Patrick Moore would bring in his pictures of the planets for developing and we’d all gaze in astonishment at the results! Well, to be honest, the adults would, my seven year old eyes got a bit bored with all the blobs!

Sir Patrick Moore….always gloriously dishevelled, gloriously enthusiastic and kind

In 1960, foreign holidays were an unimaginable dream, and finding time to leave the business almost impossible, but Mum, Granny and Grandad and my brother, Paul did head off for a few days to Butlins in Bognor, with Little Bo Peep outfit made and packed!

Fancy dress competition at Butlins…the highlight of the holidays in 1960!

Main memory? The door to door salesman that came often with is brown suitcase of delights produced a glorious red cardigan with, oh, rectangular shiney buttons. Must have been the start of a love affair with haberdashery! I can spend HOURS on button websites!

I still have the hand puppets, bear and dog, that I saved my pocket money up for and bought from the newsagents a few doors down, although they could do with a visit to the Repair Shop!

A month into retirement and sod the slippers…I’ve got a selfie light!

Ta..rah!

Have been putting some things into place to be able to start recording chats…so many of you have such extraordinary stories to share and after 20 years of wittering on gosh, I’m missing it……haven’t rushed because I REALLY want them to be one to one, rather than on Zoom but maybe I just better get started! The wonderful David Hedges nudged me and my glorious son helped me choose (hopefully the first video will be our chat in case it helps someone else).

The lights are little miracles in a modern world! In the rare moments I try and take a selfie I look like a puzzled old bat who hasn’t got a clue….but add lights, use a computer rather than a phone, celebrate the Covid pounds that fill out the wrinkles….have a go at doing the lockdown hair and makeup (feel really guilty not to have been to my lovely hairdresser for a year, worry about her…) and…

Well, it’s a start and the first selfie I haven’t deleted immediately!

I was a bit thrown they’re called “selfie lights” because I want them for lighting video chats and selfies seem vain! Well, the whole adventure is so might as well embrace it!

Do you get the software upgrade collywobbles?! Needed to upgrade some things to start preparing to record. That meant doing a full back up- about time – hadn’t done one for so long I needed to ponder what to pop it onto….had a disastrous purchase of a flash drive – not the cheapest but it arrived suspiciously poorly packaged, took hours to back up a tiny amount and then announced it would “probably be another day before it was complete”! Didn’t feel I could trust it for a restore, so back it went. First time I’ve ever returned anything where you potter to the post office without a label!

Upgrading the software was, of course, fine – and oh my, the things that happen to your photos when you use more up to date browsers!! Deleting duplicates is one of the best! Have spent far too long reliving all sorts of moments! Not to Mention far too long binge watching Bridgeton and Ann with an E. No wonder I’m starting to look like the Michelin Man.

Next step…working out the best way to record things…..don’t hold your breath but hopefully I’ll be chatting to you soon!

You know the dream when George Clooney’s going to Zoom call you for a chat about Richard Chamberlain ……

…but your indoor rabbit has chewed through the broadband cable so you miss the call?

Wow it got my heart rate up…..all the lockdown hair styling and makeup putting on….dragging the computer from the utility room to a spot with a background that didn’t show the boiler but a plain wall….waiting in excited (and nervous) anticipation….watching the time tick to and then past the meeting time…..the disappointment, confusion, and search for the culprit! Who, of course, was our indoor rabbit.

It’s YEARS since little grey rabbit was with us and lived indoors, but I was thinking about Richard Chamberlain yesterday and having a call with my son to sort out lighting to make videos later today. No idea why George was involved…..

Well, it brightened up a lockdown sleep. Oddly it isn’t mentioned in the Dream Dictionary.

Are odd dreams just for lockdown? Let me know yours…as long as it isn’t x-rated…I suspect The Great and Bridgeton are giving folk unexpected palpitations, too!

One old sofa cover (almost completely) repurposed!

Three large bags, two small ones, a hole patched in the remaining sofa (there are two more covers to go though) oh…and some scraps are still waiting for inspiration!

The first bag haul!

I purchased the unicorn design from Urban Threads. A quick search, though, will unearth a myriad of design sites!

The unusual, central, design is the logo for my daughters magical business, Wolf and Wing. I created it in Embrilliance software, one of the available digitising packages that turns your work into stitches for use on an embroidery machine (it is the only one that works on a Mac). The support team at Embrilliance are brilliant, but it’s the only package I’ve used so I can’t compare them.

The design created in Embrilliance

This type of software is quite pricey and only worth investing in if you want to create unique designs, which you could then sell to others. Folk create and sell through their own websites, through the established embroidery websites, or from Etsy. Designs sell from a few pounds up to, quite a lot, depending on their complexity. You’ll find a lot of free ones, too, but I’d only download from one of the obviously well established sites.

Once you’ve selected a design, you just download it for immediate use. The age or type of machine will dictate how you move from your computer to your embroidery machine. Different machines might need a special card or allow easy connection to your computer, or a USB stick.

By the time I created the last big bag I had become obsessed with making sure all lines are straight….unlike the first, wobbly one that I rushed through because I was curious to work how the best way to make one! A ruler and a fabric marker were my best friends for a bit!

Yesterday, I knocked up a pair of pjs for grandson, Tris…I’m on a quest to use up every bit of fabric in the house. I just drew around a pair he had already. After all that precise work and waiting for embroidery patterns to sew out, it was bliss!

Tomorrow, though, is the start of something completely different!

Move over Mr Motivator…..I’ve discovered Sulu!

(Apologies if you saw this earlier – I deleted the earlier version because i thought I was wittering on about the wrong person – but I wasn’t!)

When I hit 60 (coo…a while ago now) my New Years resolution was to try as many new things as possible – so went to the Zumba classes at Winchester Discovery Centre offered by the awesome Silvia and Max, I LOVED it – but every week my hips hurt a little more so after three sessions I reluctantly quit.

With hindsight this was the first glimpse of arthritis – but the pain went and I forgot about it…….although the pain was back with a vengeance when I tripped on a paving slab a couple of years later and boom – I certainly knew about it then!

As the arthritis got worse the only exercise I could do was in the pool – oh and Pilates! So I signed up for Aquafit a couple of times a week, Pilates with Lou of Tiptop Pilates in Southampton.

What I learnt is that, whilst exercise is one of the most important things we can do, it doesn’t stop arthritis in its tracks (but by heck it’s important to keep your body as strong as you can, particularly if you are facing surgery).

When Pilates ended a couple of years ago, it was Aqua three times a week. I was back a month after my first hip replacement, yup, three times a week. It was great but lockdown in March 2020 meant it didn’t restart till late November, 2020 and just three classes were squeezed in before Christmas when Lockdown 3 happened!!

But NOW I’ve discovered Sulu!!!

I’m fourteen weeks into my second new hip (I know, very greedy and VERY lucky) and to may amazement I can do this!!

I have to be grateful to Covid for something – and I think it’s this! Without lockdowns I’d have gone back to the pool and probably never thought of doing something else. However, bouncing around to a Latin beat, feeling the blood flow and spirits rise, and having a BIG grin on my face is possibly addictive!

Of course I’ll go back to Aqua – partly because there’s company there!

But oh my gosh – it’s Sulu I’ll be spending my early mornings with for quite a while to come (apologies to Alun Newman, BBC Radio Solent).

20 year old sofa cover to um, slightly wonky bag!

For almost two years, the covers from our twenty year old suite have been taunting me! Too much fabric to throw away – but what the heck to do with it!

Experiment number one, a tote bag!

Step one, covers:

Step two, select an embroidery design for the front. Had a lazy moment, could have created something, but cheated – Urban Threads designs rock!

Step three, get the scissors (and lining, interlining and stabiliser) out:

Step four, get sewing:

Step five, decide it’s definitely a prototype:

Too long, a bit wonky, probably a 7/10!