Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Forest Gate Festival - Sat 10th July 2010

This is the 11th year that the Forest Gate Festival has been running and it's just as popular as ever - as the number of stall holders and turnout of visitors proved.

I've always loved this particular Festival and though I'm not a resident of Forest Gate (I'm only a couple of towns away) this is one festival I like to attend regularly as a stall holder.

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My stall selling a range of handcrafted items

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altered CD's, decorative tin cans, mosaics

The Festival is held on Osborne Road, a really lovely tree lined street with Victorian terrace houses, many with their original wrought iron and glass fronted porches and sash windows. The road is blocked to traffic for the whole day and we stall holders set up our tables on the pavement outside designated houses.

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Forest Gate Festival

I've learnt from previous years to always come prepared for rain or shine, so many of us had gazebos or awnings over our tables in the event of rain, or as in today's case, the scorching heat of the sun. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the temperature was in the 30's. Perfect Festival weather with plenty of food and drinks available (by drinks I mean ice cold and totally alcohol free of course!)

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handbound notebooks & journals

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handbound albums and greeting cards

On my table I was selling a whole range of my handcrafted items such as mosaics, hand bound books, decorative tin cans, altered CD's, ceramic brooches, stampboard brooches and greeting cards. The only thing on my stall not handmade by myself were the Indian embroidered and beaded handbags.

As in the past couple of years this year's Festival was a plastic bag free zone and the organizers were handing out bundles of free hessian bags to all the stall holders to give out to their customers - such a good idea!

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a variety of mosaics

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Indian embroidered & beaded handbags

I love the atmosphere of this Festival - there's a real sense of community spirit and not only can you feel it but you can see it - in the smiles, helpfulness, generosity and friendliness of the stall holders and visitors alike :-)

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Forest Gate Festival just starting

There were plenty of activities happening for everyone - face painting and tower climbing for children, henna painting, make and take tables, music, workshops and street entertainers. Though my only criticism was there wasn't such a variety of street entertainers this year as there has been in the past. That said, the entertainment that was there was brilliant.

The stilt walkers were so funny - especially the Tea Lady who'd come down the street pushing her musical tea trolley. She'd be chatting to you one minute and then would break out into a a little song and dance the next and would get you to join in - she was amazing :-)

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"how about a nice cuppa tea?" asked the stilt walking Tea Lady

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oooh aargh me hearties! stilt walking pirates in their boat

There were also a group of ladies performing some belly dancing and hoop dancing.

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Belly dancing

One of the most entertaining acts was a group of African men who performed the most amazing and energetic acrobatic routine. They had such balance and skill in their act. One of them was a contortionist and could roll himself up into a ball and the others would pick him up and put him into an ordinary metal bowl.

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Amazing African Acrobats

They would stand on each others head and then leap about doing somersaults and back flips and would juggle hats onto their heads and juggle bats. Their act would include audience participation, which would make it even funnier and they would combine it with a comedy routine - all this with no speaking! The audience were just spellbound and gasping at some of their breathtaking stunts - truly incredible!

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and for my next trick.....

The Festival started at 11am and continued till 6pm, when everything was over for another year. Stall holders began to pack up, customers scoured round for last minute bargains, and Osborne Road slowly transformed itself back into a residential road again after all the excitement and fun of the Forest Gate Festival.

I'm so looking forward to next year! :-)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Paste Papers

Look what I've been up to! 

I was busy making paste papers that will end up as covers for future hand bound books.

Instead of making my own paste from flour I decided to take the easy way out and use wallpaper paste instead. 

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pretty paste paper sheets hanging in a row

The results are pretty much the same and the consistency of the paste is also pretty much the same as flour paste, only this is the quick and easy method and saved me cooking over a hot stove - so to speak:-)

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blues, purples, greens...

The paper I used was just ordinary A3 copier paper. Though next time I would use a slightly heavier paper as I found this too thin and some of the papers tore.

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oranges and reds...

You wouldn't believe it, but a pigeon actually pooped on one of my papers - cheek of it!   The little blighter could've just told me he didn't like the colour instead of  showing such literal distaste for it!

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greens, blues, lilacs...

I just mixed up the paste according to the manufacturers instructions in a margarine tub and then divided the mixture into separate boxes and added acrylic colours into each box.  I had an assortment of  tools to leave impressions into the paste - you'd be amazed at how many ordinary household objects can be used to leave impressions.  Fingers are the best for making impressions though and much more fun!

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greens and blues

Making paste papers, though thoroughly enjoyable, is extremely messy, so I made sure my work surface was covered in newspaper and had extra sheets to constantly change as they became  tacky and started sticking to the paste papers. 

Mixing the paints into one another on the paper and folding the paper onto itself and then dotting all over the reverse with my fingers resulted in a very pleasing pattern.

The patterns and colours that can be created are endless and before I knew it I'd ended up with a huge stack of patterned sheets that I know I'll be able to use in my art.

It's really important to allow the paste papers to dry thoroughly before using them, otherwise all that hard work and time put into creating them will go to waste if they've all stuck to one another and torn.

I liked the idea of my colourful sheets flapping in the breeze.


Whilst drying, the papers will naturally curl around the edges and crinkle slightly but once dry they can be ironed  between sheets of baking parchment with an iron set on dry not steam. This will flatten and smooth them and then they can be put under a pile of heavy books for further flattening if necessary.

So, this is what my stash of paste papers looked like after they'd been dried and ironed flat.  I'm so pleased with them all. 

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a colourful assortment of paste papers....

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...with a variety of patterns...

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...and stamped impressions.

Here's what I made with my last batch of paste papers

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coptic bound books

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Austrian bound books

Stay tuned for what I'll make with my new batch of papers! :-)

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


The last time we visited Long Melford, a few years back, we just drove through it really on the way to some place else - so we didn't get a chance to actually visit. This time, however, we did and though we got there late on Saturday afternoon, when all the antique shops had closed we did get to browse in and out of some quaint gift shops and stop for tea at a lovely little tea room.

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Long Melford is one l-o-n-g stretch of road...

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filled with old pubs and inns...

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The Bull - built in 1450 and has been an inn since 1570

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                        The Crown Inn

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Beautiful old buildings - Gappmaiers Restaurant

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Antique shops - Noel Mercer Antiques

Long Melford, a former wool town in the Middle Ages, is a lovely village in the heart of the Suffolk countryside.  It's claim to fame lies in being the Antiques Capital of Suffolk and it's wide, tree-lined street has a wealth of interesting gift and antique shops, some of which were featured in the 80's British TV series "Lovejoy".

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old timber framed window

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pretty shop windows displaying their wares

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shop window displaying Golly's tea party

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Fabulous gift shop - was like an Aladdin's Cave full of wonderful treasures to buy.

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pretty, dainty, beautiful things

I loved walking along the street looking at all the old buildings and wondering about their history.   There is a delight to see in every direction, from the rickety old buildings surrounded by timber framed windows and the oak beamed fronts to the charming doors and house name plaques on the walls. Some even had dates on them which was good to see.

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house names...

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and year plaques

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these buildings were built in 1868 according to the plaque

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terraced buildings painted in delicate pastel tones

Long Melford is also fortunate to have two stately homes: Melford Hall and Kentwell Hall (which often hosts Tudor weekends).  Suffolk wool towns such as Lavenham are nearby.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Scotsdales Garden Centre - Cambridgeshire

My family and I visited this massive garden centre recently on a gorgeously sunny day and I must say what a wonderful day out we had.

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A warm welcome upon entering Scotsdales

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candles, lanterns & barbeques

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gorgeous coloured glassware

Scotsdales is located in Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire and is a huge garden centre selling everything you could possibly want for your gardening needs and more.

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vegetable & flower seed packets

They also have a Pet Corner and sell a small selection of live birds and animals such as rabbits, hamsters and gerbils.

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This particular black one was not for sale but a resident

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These parrots were not for sale - the grey one could talk but chose not to on this particular day - I guess we all have these days!

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looks like a huge budgerigar to me:-)

Scotsdales also supply a huge variety of fish in their Aquatics Department. They are well stocked for all your fishy supplies. I saw some beautiful species of fish here - pond fish to tropical aquarium fish

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beautiful colours!

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Koi Carp

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I was enchanted !

The indoor plant selection was vast and varied and my head was turning in all directions.

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beautiful, vibrant glazed pots

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bronze sculptures amongst the indoor plants

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has anyone seen my gorilla? - Oh there you are Kong:-)

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oranges and lemons.....la la la la la la la :-)

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I just love begonias

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aisle upon aisle and row upon row, of shrubs and flowers

I bought some sweetpeas, a Japanese pink wisteria and another shrub that had little pale pink bell shaped flowers on - am forgetting it's name now.

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a magnificent magnolia tree reaching up to the sky - I 'd love one of these!

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Mmmm... Camelias - who doesn't love these beautiful flowers?

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bedding and border plants

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Anyone for a gnome or a fat robin - even a hiding hedgehog?

I went absolutely potty outside when I saw the range of terracotta and glazed garden pots Scotsdales stock. Though I was dismayed at some of the prices - whew! too steep for my purse.

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unglazed terracotta pots

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glazed pots of all colours and hues

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Mediterranean looking terracotta pots

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blue glazed pots

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green glazed pots

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yet more pots

We stopped for lunch in their lovely Sunflower Cafe - unfortunately by the time we stopped there for lunch at around 2pm, they had run out of sandwiches - so settled for soup of the day and some pastries with teas and coffees.

Scotsdales has a very well stocked gift shop selling greetings cards, gift wrap, cards, a wide range of books, ceramics and other gifts. It really is a lovely place to shop.

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Look what I bought! Oh and I bought that lonely little hedgehog too:-)

For more info go to Scotsdales