Tuesday, 26 February 2013


We are having a completely amazing and fabulous time in our new St Helena life. There is so much to do and so many lovely people to do it with. The trouble is, we are doing just a teansy bit too much of it. We are definately burning the candle at both ends and sometimes in the middle too. This week we have car boot visiting, swimming, snorkling, world thinking day, party, friends to play, scuba dive lessons, flax weaving, football, rainbows, scuba dive taster, PTA meeting, craft evening, massage, tea out, plus school, work, shopping, washing, cooking, playing, blogging and everything else.

I wouldn't want you to think I am complaining. Quite the contrary. I just need to get a bit better at managing the stuff I have to do as well as the stuff I want to do. And maybe a bit better at saying No!

The trouble is, I don't want to finish our two years in this amazing place wishing I has done something or been somewhere because it really is a once-in-a-liftime place.

See, I spent my only 'free' evening making a flax hat because someone said it took two years to be good enough to make a hat. It's not perfect, but it is a hat. Now of course I want to have another go and make a better hat!


Friday, 22 February 2013

Feeling good on Friday


Are you having a lovely day? I am having a very lovely day. My first whole day without Giant Baby since November. Actually it is just the school day, but I really feel the pressure has been taken off for me to rush, rush, rush all the time. He is with our fabulous childminder and I have been footling.

I did the shopping with my new I'm-totally-pleased-with-how-it-turned-out flax bag.

Then I went for a little lunch and a little swim all on my own. A treat indeed to potter up and down the pool with no Smalls in tow.

I had planned to spend some time playing with these. They were in one of the parcels of loveliness that came on Wednesday.

Forty little squares just screaming to be stitched. What a fabulous gift. There are four little felt flowers too. Sadly a little necessary correspondence meant I didn't have time to do more than admire them today. But there are lots of Fridays stretching away with infinite crafty and indulgent possibilities.

I wonder what next Friday will bring...


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Post day!

It is such a joy to receive the love of our friends and family  through the post.

Lots of generous people have sent us parcels and letters full of good wishes, treats and surprises.

It really has made my day.

Especially as amongst the goodies were a pile of fabric squares. Pip, I think you have kick started a quilt. Now to find the time...


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Donkey walking and giveaway news

Firstly the giveaway. Only a few entries but into the hat they went and out came Wendy from Capetown. Wendy, email me your address (my email address is at the bottom of the right hand margin) and sometime soon something will be winging its way to you. Don't forget to pay-it-forward though! 
Yesterday I took the Smalls donkey walking. Donkeys used to be used all the time to haul flax about, and pretty much everything else, because as you might have noticed St Helena isn't exactly flat! Now they are used infrequently when endemic plants are being replanted in inaccessible areas. Mostly they have nothing to do, which is not good for donkeys.

So twice a week they are taken for a walk by people from the National Trust and volunteer helpers. Anyone can go along and join in.

They are walked for about a mile up the road then back again.

Often they stop for a roadside snack.

These two are mother and daughter, Sugar and Basil and like to stick together.

As you can see the sun does not always shine. It was a very misty moisty morning and we were up in the clouds.

Not much of a view.

They really do have minds of their own,

but a bit of encouragement and they are lovely company.

When they get back to their shelter they get a good brush

before being turned out into the paddock.

I'm not sure who enjoys it more, the donkeys or the Smalls.


Thursday, 14 February 2013

It's the Small things

It's hard being a Mum. Not bad hard, just hard. Having done both, I know that it is hard if you are a working Mum, and hard if you are a full time Mum. I am sure it is hard being a Dad too but I have only witnessed that from the sidelines so wouldn't like to comment.

It's hard wearing all those hats: Cook, cleaner, cuddle provider, story reader, train track builder, tucker in, nurse, doctor, diplomat, negotiator, gardener, teacher, referee, as well as wife, daughter, sister, friend...

Sometimes my Smalls drive me crazy - fighting and screeching and demanding and mess making. Often they make me very cross and tired and sometimes sad.

Then sometimes they choose to walk to school hand in hand, deep in conversation,

and run like aeroplanes through the park in pyjamas and a sun hat.

Sometimes they are so completely brilliant that I think my heart is going to burst with love for them.

Sometimes they remind me that they are the most wonderful make I have ever attempted and the Mum-hat fits so well.

It is very hard to do, but I try and grab onto those amazing special moments, and hang on tight so I have them to hold on to when the hat slips and it is all very hard again.

And sometimes they stand on each others shadow-head on purpose which is very tricky and makes us laugh.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A colourful tonic

Today I am feeling very sorry for myself. I suffer from random bouts of hay fever which mean I can't see or hear through the snotty fog. It has very little to do with hay but can be triggered by late nights, cats, dogs, smoke, red wine, whisky, stress, over-heating, cold weather or none of the above. Today's episode is unexplained.

So I decided to cheer myself up by spreading out my blanket and examining it's progress.

The little squares are going to form a border round what I have done so far, with some stripes on either side. 6.5 done, 69.5 to go.

That would be 20.2% of a blanket. Somehow that feels like a lot!


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Made in (and of) St Helena

Well, you are a lazy lot. You have to sing for your supper, or rather pay-it-forward on my give-away and nothing, nada, zip... That would be no takers even though more than seventy of you looked at the post! Or maybe you are not convinced that a Stitches and Seeds make is worth the bother of making five more things...

I promised to show you my latest making obsession. A few posts ago I wrote about the enormous amount of New Zealand Flax that grows here. Well although it is horribly invasive it does have its uses.

I have been taking classes with a multi-talented lady who not only teaches flax and lace making, but is a tailor, upholsterer and sail maker. If it can be sewn she sews it.

We are a mixed bag of ladies and gents, expats and saints who gather round the table.

The flax is prepared by being cut into appropriate sized strips and softened, then it can be made into the most fabulous things.

Today we were learning a new bind-off so we each practised making a four cornered basket with the sole purpose of binding it off. Once I got home, I had to have another go just to make sure I could remember how to do it. I gathered the extremely sophisticated tools you need: a pin, a handful of pegs, a pair of scissors and a bent paperclip and off I went.

Of course I forgot to take any photos until I was almost done.

Ta da! A wee pot to put things in.

Here's the one I made in class. The biggest I have tried so far and I am really pleased with it. I think a knitting project might find a home in it when it is dried out, although Tiny Boy is busy trying to claim it.

And here's a selection of the things I have made so far.

The newly made basket needs to be kept in the correct shape while it dries.

So if you take part in the give-away, you might just get a little flaxy something winging its way to you. Go on, making five people happy is not so hard.


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Slowly passing a milestone and heading for a give-away


Having promised myself yesterday that today I would do my January Slow Living round up (in conjunction with these lovely people), I realised that this was going to be my 100th post and I felt I should mark the milestone somehow, so at the end of the post there just might be a wee give-away.


I am still on a mission to get the Smalls to eat more real food, with mixed success. Sometimes they surprise me but mostly the boys push away anything that isn't pasta, fish fingers, pizza or sausage. Sometimes Tiny Boy can be persuaded to eat what ever I have made once the tantrum has subsided (mine or his), and the food is stone cold. Giant Baby is not really keen on any meal other than breakfast so I am concentrating on widening the range, and upping the quality of the snacks. A St Helena favourite is homemade pumpkin scones which are delicious and pretty healthy.


With fresh fruit and veg only arriving on the island once every three or so weeks, food shopping and storage is all about planning. When the fruit is released from customs you have about 24 hours to buy as much as you need until next time before it is gone and the tumbleweed returns to the veg isle. I am getting better at storing it in the second fridge in such a way that I use things as they ripen.


In order to combat this a bit we are growing our own. We have had a couple of small courgettes and a few spinach leaves so far, but I can see tiny beans and mange tout forming and there are flowers on the tomato and cucumber plants. Other things like peppers, sweetcorn and broad beans have been slower to get going but hopefully they will get there. I am also growing sunflowers and sweet peas because why wouldn't you? The sweet peas are still sulking at a foot high as they seem to do at home before they take off but the sunflowers have big fat buds.


I have upped my use of washable wet wipes for Giant Baby's nappy changes because disposable wet wipes are very scarce (and expensive) here and fragrance-free ones are even more thin on the ground. I use small squares of towelling kept damp in a tupperware with a few drops of lavender and tea tree oils to keep them sweet and I throw them in with the rest of the white washing. They take up so little room in the machine that they make no difference.


The lack of recycling here breaks my heart every time I throw something away, but with a little imagination you can reuse and upcycle some of it. A friend taught me how to make beads from cereal packets a couple of weeks ago. Once I have varnished them I plan to turn them into a necklace. I have also been raiding the one and only charity shop for treasure. I found a lovely boden blouse and shortened the sleeves to make it more suitable to the climate. I also converted a very short adult skirt into a very pretty child's skirt for Tall Girl. The left over bits of both have been added to my stash.


I have begun my flax weaving course and I love it. I have been saving it for a post of its own but here's a sneaky preview. It is so simple but beautiful. As well as going to the class each week I have been trying to practise at home.


I have begun a craft group with some other women on the island. We meet one evening a week to drink tea, eat cake and make things. Sometimes we each work on our own projects and sometimes we learn a new skill from each other. It was here that I learnt to make the beads and this week I taught the others to make flax bangles. It is lovely to sit and natter with no pressure and no distraction other than whether you really need another piece of cake.


We had a lovely Burns Supper with friends at the St Andrews Society on our anniversary as well as our Small-free walk. As a family we loved the barbecue at Lemon Valley, meeting Jonathon the tortoise and all the other exploring we have been doing. This is a place where it is very easy to enjoy yourself.


I have left this until last because there seems to be so much to say! I am loving my two blankets - one knitted and one crocheted (16.9% the mathematician tells me). What with those and the beads and the flax... I have also decided to take part in a pay-it-forward. The idea is that you make it known (in this case through the medium of facebook) that you are prepared to make something for the first five responders. This could be a make or a bake or a preserve or whatever, and that you will send it to them at some random moment in the next year. In return they have to offer the same thing to five other people so they pay-it-forward. I have the first of my makes wrapped and ready to send and three other ideas floating around in my head but that only make four. You see only four people signed up to my offer so here's the deal, the give-away, the plan...

I will make something, not sure what yet, I'll see what takes my fancy... for one of you (name drawn out of a hat) and send it to you in the next year, but in return you must pay-it-forward. You can do this through your blog or on facebook or any way you like. You must offer to make something (batch of brownies, bunting, baby booties... whatever your recipient would appreciate) for five lucky people.

To enter you need to comment on this post and for an extra chance, become a follower. I will pick a winner on valentines day.

Happy making!