Sunday, 28 February 2010

End of play blues....

Well, this weekend has been rather sad. Not only is the weather wet, cold and dark still, but the play has now finished. All the buzz you get from performing in front of an audience keeps you on such a high during the week that you feel almost ready to take on anything!

However, Friday night was the last night of our latest production at Bilton Amateur Dramatic Society.

The play was staged on a curtain set, with minimal furniture and props used to create each scene. It was a play with humour and pathos, entitled "Life Goes On", written by Adrian Hodges. We had good houses all week, but Friday night was incredible - we had to turn several people away on the day so we had a full house. It was probably the best performance we all gave, too, which made it that bit more enjoyable!

Yesterday, we (my husband Keith and I) went to the theatre during the day to collect my clothes and other personal belongings, and do a few jobs while we were there, too. All the cups and saucers, glasses, spoons, knives and bottles had to be washed, dried and put away. Somehow we had also amassed an array of glass tumblers in the dressing rooms which we washed and put away in the kitchen. All the electrical rigging needed taking down (Keith did that) and the grey fold-up chairs bringing back out from backstage into the main auditorium ready for our Junior/Youth section rehearsals this coming week. I think I classed that part of the job as my exercise for the day!

The sign we usually put up over our premises sign had to be taken down - that's always a sad moment. Finally, we had to replace a light bulb in one of the outside lights at the theatre. Once we'd ensured the place was safe for children to use it again, we came home.

Today, all my clothes from the play have been washed and are all that's left of my character, Joyce. She was probably one of my most favourite parts to play, since she portrayed a range of characteristics - in one scene she was a "bossy, bad-tempered, seaside post-card of a wife" (to quote one of my lines) yet later on we saw her softer side when she started talking to her dead husband about how she would miss him. I never failed to have tears in my eyes whenever I got to that part of the play; I think it is largely down to the skill of the author's writing - it was such a moving scene to play. In various other scenes, she showed her vulnerability when being seduced by her dead husband's younger brother - Joyce was completely taken in by his words and it was convincingly written.

The cast consisted of 3 regular members of the adult section - myself, Andy Jowett and Mike Hawxwell - plus a new member, Kay Humphries, and a member of our Youth Section, Amy Fletcher. We worked really well as a team and had great support from our prompt, Carol Hawxwell (Mike's Mum) even though she was rarely needed all week, and of course we had an excellent Stage Manager in the shape of my husband, Keith Davison, who is a perfectionist and someone I know we can rely on. In the sound & lighting department, we were lucky to have the services of Josh Cosway - another member of the Youth Section and very good at the job of sound/effects. Helping him was yet another member of our Youth Section, Shannon Bean, who did the lighting for the production. We are desperately short of members for anything now that we are blessed to have such willing volunteers from the younger section. Without their help we simply could not continue, so we are all really grateful to them. As it was our director's first time in that role, we bought her a little gift to congratulate her on a successful job - a rather apt bottle of champagne, which we decorated with the same label we'd used on the fake bottle of champagne in the play!

Today, to try and lift the rather desolate feelings I have had, I've been painting a couple more notepads and another landscape painting, as well as watching a DVD. This afternoon we watched "Australia". It was quite a long film (I think it was about 3 hours) and very emotional - I cried quite a bit at certain points! Probably not the best distraction, but it was a very good film and I have actually changed my opinion of Nicole Kidman now! I was actually rather impressed with her English accent and she was a believable character for me. In the past, I've not really liked her style of acting. Hugh Jackman was a lovely hero, perfectly cast!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Card Making Supplies, Craft supplies, Pound shop, Card Blanks, Scrapbooking, Cardmaking Ideas, Projects

Card Making Supplies, Craft supplies, Pound shop, Card Blanks, Scrapbooking, Cardmaking Ideas, Projects

This is a great online store for locating all sorts of items for card-making! The prices are amazing, too!

Just thought I'd share that with you all in between my usual posts on here.

First Notepad created

Well, here it is - the first of a series of new craft creations I am doing. I thought I'd start with something that would fit in with the decor of our kitchen and may even end up using it myself rather than sell it, but as it's just the first, I can always create another one if this does sell soon!

The notepad itself measures 5 x 3 inches (12 x 7cm) and sits on the mdf board which measures 8 x 3.5inches (20 x9cm). I have called this one "Inner Circles" for fairly obvious reasons! The background blue, which has been painted all over the board, is one from the Duncan range of acrylic craft paints. It is called True Blue and is from the Liquid Pearl range, which I tend to call metallic, as that is the overall appearance when dry.

I have then painted in some Cerulean blue and white acrylic circular swirls over the main background colour, and on top of that I created another layer of the True Blue, followed by several layers of Liquitex Blue and White inks, dropped straight from the bottles and either left to dry or applied whilst still wet to create a mixture of different circle styles.

Instead of the pale cream ribbon which came with the blank notepad, I have attached a metallic cord in a lovely shade of blue.

As you can see from the images, these notepads can be put on your fridge, with the use of the magnetic pads I have attached to the back, or hung on the wall with the use of the hanging bar already screwed on. Personally, I would prefer to use the magnetic strips, but it depends on how much room you have on your fridge door I guess!!

I have taken a close-up shot of the note-pad area after I'd used it - the list is a reminder of props etc that we need to take to the theatre with us every night this week for the play I'm in!

Friday, 19 February 2010

New craft project

I am so excited as I have just taken delivery of a blank mdf notepad board from HomeCrafts Direct. Here is a link to the page from their web-site: Notepad Board.

They arrive blank and can be decorated with paint, stickers, fabric, foam, feathers - the list is endless, I guess! I am hoping to get some decorated in time for Mother's Day on 14th March here in the UK! I have already painted the background of one in a lovely shade of metallic blue in acrylic paint. I will probably be basing my designs on some of my existing paintings, or even offering personalised ones with names on if desired.

Now that I have bought some of these, I can see that I will be persuading my husband to make me more!!!! We have lots of mdf spare in the garage and he is a keen DIY person anyway, so it makes sense! I will also attach some magnetic strips to the back of these so that they can be stuck to the fridge for use as shopping lists or reminders!

Whenever I buy anything new that's remotely arty or crafty I get such a buzz - the initial excitement seems to drive me forward into actually creating something almost immediately.

I will be posting them on here and offering them up for sale on Etsy once I have finished the first one!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Featured Artist

I am delighted to be included as one of the featured artists on this relatively new website. Cathy Savels has created (along with the help of her partner, Joe) a really friendly place for artisans of all disciplines and from all over the world to meet and exchange thoughts, hints, tips and laughter, too!

There is a lively and interesting forum, a blog for each and every member that joins, you get your own personal gallery to showcase your work to other members and any other browsers, plus every day the front page gallery shows a selection of various members' works.

If you click on the title of this post, it will take you to the blog post that Cathy has written.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Beetroot Soup Recipe

A week or so ago, I got a hankering for some beetroot soup. I'd never tried any before, nor did I have any recipes in for it. The urge to create some myself was so strong, however, that I decided to just go ahead and do it!

The photo here shows the finished result with a dash of cream in it, not obligatory of course but it does add a certain something, I think!

For this recipe which provided approximately 5 servings, this is what I did:


Olive oil, for frying the veg
3/4 Pint Stock ( I used beef, but you could use chicken or veg instead)
2 sticks celery, diced.
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped.
1 med onion, diced.
5 pieces ready cooked beetroot, diced.
Large handful chopped parsley
3 Tablespoons tomato puree
salt & pepper to taste
Optional double cream to taste
Extra 100ml water, possibly.


Heat the oil and fry the celery, garlic and onion in a deep saucepan for 5 mins or so until nicely softened and just starting to colour. Add the beetroot, stock, parsley and tomato puree. Mix well, add some salt and pepper to taste then simmer for about 5-10 mins. Pour the mixture into a food blender and whizz up until a smooth puree style texture - you may need to add another 100ml of water to the pan prior to this if it seems a bit bulky!

Return the pureed ingredients to the saucepan and heat through once more. Just before serving, pour in as much double cream as you like, to taste and for extra flavour. Alternatively, pour some cream onto the soup in the serving bowl.

I used some beetroot that was pickled, which gave the soup a rather nice kick somehow, although any cooked variety would be good, I'm sure.

This tastes just as good second time around after keeping in the fridge - I had a third bowl 5 days later and it was fine!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Avatar the movie

On Thursday we went to see the latest James Cameron movie at our local cinema. We even managed to snag some big comfy seats because it was showing in a screen full of such comforts!

I'd heard that the special effects were fantastic, but it's not something you can easily describe to people so I was ready for anything. Or so I thought. The 3D aspect was such that I quite often got a queasy feeling in my stomach whenever the characters were perched high up on a ledge or mountain top.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film, marvelled at the 3D animation and graphics and even felt as though I was part of the other world in Pandora, and fell in love with the Na'vi living there.

I would probably go and watch this film again, I enjoyed it that much!

Click on the title of this post to go to the official Avatar website, where you can read all about the film and download games etc.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Bilton Amateur Dramatic Society - latest production

In exactly two weeks I will be taking on another role in a production of "Life Goes On" by Adrian Hodges. Performed by Bilton Amateur Dramatic Society, East Yorkshire. My role is that of a woman named Joyce, who has recently been widowed. The character at first appears to be coping with the loss of her husband remarkably well, and her personality is quite a strong one. It transpires, however, that she is really missing him and needs to find something to do with her time. Despite the night of passion she shared with her husband's brother on the night of his death, it isn't love that's on her mind, but a business proposal.

Playing this part has been great fun - even the rather embarassing moments when I have to kiss Mike Hawxwell, who is many years my junior and one of the first members of the Junior section I run at BADS! He refers to me as Aunty Helen, so it's a pretty strange experience for him, too - particularly when his real-life girlfriend (also in the play) and his Mother (prompting) are watching it all unfold! However, we seem to get through it in a reasonably professional manner and have only had the giggles on a couple of occasions!

Much harder to cope with at rehearsals are the expressions on the face of Andy Jowett, who plays my dead husband (there is one scene in which we view the time leading up to his death, which I find funny every time.). Andy only has to look at me in a certain way or say a line every so slightly wrong and we both have to really fight to stop the laughter taking over - even to the point where I can't look at him until I've recovered!

It's also really nice to be working with one of our Youth section members for the first time - Amy Fletcher. She's reliable and accomplished for her age, so it's a real pleasure to be on stage with her. She has fitted into the adult section with ease, so we are hoping this isn't the last play she takes part in!

Finally, the newest member at BADS is Kay Humphries - she's Mike's girlfriend as I mentioned earlier. She is a very "natural" actress and has a sensitivity to her acting which is admirable. I have a feeling she will get a good review when the critic from N.O.D.A. comes to see it!

I can hardly believe it's only two weeks away now, we seem to have been rehearsing for months (well, we have,actually!) without thinking about how far away it is. Hopefully the weather will not be too bad during play week, as that can sometimes put people off coming to watch!

If you click on the title post, it will direct you to the Event on Facebook giving details on how to book for this production.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Etsy Treasury

I am so chuffed to have been featured in my first Treasury, thanks to Andrea Farmer. I am featured in one of the newly created "Treasury West" treasuries, which I think are a temporary feature on Etsy.

The treasury will expire on Tuesday 9th February sometime in the evening, UK time, so if you read this post after that time, and can no longer see the page by clicking on the title link of this post, here's a screen shot of the Treasury.

The treasury is named "Small is beautiful" and also features one of Andrea's latest ethereal landscape paintings, "Blue Hills" which is a lovely painting on paper, plus a limited edition giclee print by another of my artist colleagues, Peter Williams - one from a set entitled "Horses/Western". You can see more of Peter's works on his personal website here.

Oooh, how I'm loving all these new sites!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Painting Holiday opportunity

I have just received the latest newsletter from my friend and artist Jane Duke, who runs regular watercolour workshops in Heslington, York. The newsletter is always an interesting read. I have known Jane for over 5 years now and have attended one of her watercolour workshops with my Mother. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening experience, so I can heartily recommend her teaching methods to anyone - experienced or beginner. Jane will encourage you if you need it and helpfully show you how to improve your techniques.

Here I am pictured at one of Jane's workshops - my mum is sitting next to me in the photo! As you can see, I am obviously enjoying myself!

This holiday sounds very tempting indeed - in fact if I hadn't already booked a rather "large" holiday myself already this year, I would almost certainly have booked on it!

The details of the holiday itself can be found by clicking on the title of this post, which is a link to her website, but from the message in the email here's what Jane has to say:

This summer I will be leading a week long watercolour painting holiday in the beautiful Ariege region of South West France.
Full details are at but in summary:

Dates: Friday 25 June – Friday 2 July 2010

Location: Manzac d’en Bas, Castex, Ariege See for more information about the area and accommodation.

The week will include still life and portrait work as well as painting outdoors in this beautiful location. One day will be free time for you to explore the local area, relax by the swimming pool soaking up the sun and spectacular views of the Pyrenees, or of course carry on painting if you prefer.

Manzac d’en Bas is gaining a reputation as an artist’s paradise. The stunning scenery and tranquility alone would be enough to make this an idyllic place to visit, but the addition of superb accommodation, wonderful meals (often served outside under the trees) and warm and welcoming hosts makes this a particularly special destination and ideal for painting trips. You can read some of Manzac’s extraordinarily good customer reviews on Tripadvisor at

Accommodation will be in luxury gites. All meals with the exception of two trips to local restaurants are included in the cost, as well as wine, beer, soft drinks, tea and coffee. All materials and equipment will also be provided on this workshop, making it even better value for money. The total cost comes in at around £770 per person*, depending on exchange rates, or less for a shared room. Even the towels for the swimming pool are provided. Really all you have to do is turn up and relax (and you will be collected from Toulouse or Carcassonne airports if needed). Non-painting partners are very welcome too.

If you would like to know more about the workshop please call me on 07710 460103.

To book, you can either contact Manzac d’en Bas direct by calling +33 (0)5 61 60 71 17 or emailing or ask me to pass your name and address on to them and they will send you a booking form. Manzac is owned and run by British couple, Giles and Louise Nevill, so there won’t be a language problem if you want to contact them directly.

Let me know if you are interested and I hope to see you in June.

Kind regards


Please visit her website and pass the word around to anyone you think may be interested.