Sunday, 27 February 2011

BOOK CLUB FOR ONE (part two)

You know those Victorian novels where a couple of chapters in some one remarks that a certain young lady looks pale?
Then a few chapters in she coughs?
Then with in a very short while she is bed ridden.
The story never really ends well for that particular young lady.
On Thursday I felt completely drained, but I put it down to lack of sleep
(a constant state of affairs in our house having an insomniac child)
In the evening I went round to my friend Cristina's to partake of some
TOP SECRET knitting.
But all was not right.
On Friday I started coughing. Both the Hippy and I had the day off work so we took the boys out for a bike ride and ended up at Morden Hall Park.

When I got back I went to bed.
And really its where I have been on and off ever since. Except today I have exchanged my bed for the sofa due to major building works starting to take place in blondie's bedroom.
Whilst residing in my sick bed this book kept catching my eye.

So I thought I would tell you an odd story attached to it.
I bought this book a number of years ago at a second hand book stall.
Philippa Gregory is not really my cup of tea.
I once read "The Other Boleyn Girl"
but only because I had been asked to work on the film.
Lets just say its not something I wish to repeat (the book not the film).
But there was something about this book that really drew me to it so I bought it.
It then sat on my dining table for about a week, I kept looking at it and looking at it and then looking at it.
Then after a week something clicked.
I made that costume!

When I told the Hippy he said "Yes I know I thought that was why you had bought it!"
I made the costume for Cate Blanchet when I was working in the costume workshop for "Elizabeth" way back in 1997.
I was thrown because the dress had a different collar.
After a film has finished shooting it is fairly standard procedure to sell the costumes off to one of the big costume hire companies.
So I guess this one was hired out for the day for the photo shoot.
Actually think I like it more with the new collar.
Odd what life throws back at you isn't it?
Whilst out and about on Friday
we called in at the second hand book shop in Morden Hall Park.
Where I bought this book.

Attracted by the Angie Lewin cover and the fact its all set in the Hippy's home lands of Norfolk and the fact it was only 50p!
Who knows if its any good or not, only time will tell, but its making good eye candy for my fevered eye to gaze upon.
The Ginger Ninja bought a wonderful book "The Illustrated Book of Animal Life" written and printed in 1980 in Czechoslovakia, again only 50p!
I just love the illustrations.

Happy reading
Love Nora xxx

Friday, 25 February 2011

Well you better had, because I am going to entrust you with a little bit of a
top secret secret.
If you think you can't keep it you had better get out while the going's good.
This is so top secret that the 5 of us involved have been SWORN to secrecy on
and so far no one has blabbed,
so I really am showing some trust in you now.
Here is a sneaky peekie of the work in progress.

Once the top secret project has been completed,
work can start on the ULTRA top secret project.
So Watch this space, all will be revealed soon.
Oooh I do love a bit of intrigue!
Happy secret knitting to you all.
Nora xx

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Reasons to be cheerful part 3

1 2 3

Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly

Good golly Miss Molly and boats

Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet

Jump back in the alley and nanny goats

Today I am having lots of reasons to be cheerful.

Admittedly I woke up in a grump surrounded by grumpy boys, but as the day has gone on a mellowing has occurred.

So now on a mellowed Sunday evening I am feeling gratefully cheerful about many things that have happened over the last week.

1. My next children's sewing class is more or less ready to roll.
Its on Saturday 5th March here is Sunny Streatham
We are going to be making glove puppets.
The Heston Blumenthal lookie likie on the end has been making me cheerful for days.
If you are interested in coming along leave me a message and I'll let you know the details.

2. Printing my own fabrics to be used in some new notebooks.
I got the designs from this book.
So much fun!

3. Having nine lovely ladies working really hard getting to know their sewing machines at my latest sewing machine workshop,
put on by our brilliant and fab local community group for all the brilliant and fab people who live literally on my doorstep.
Ladies if you want to see more pics of the day click the flickr link on the right.

4. My beautiful grumpy Pamela Primm needle case.
A extra special present to my self made by the very talented Viv of Hen's teeth.
Have a look at Mrs Primm in all her glory.

I am just loving the (very) vintage linen button and scraps of french packaging.
It is so beautiful I can't actually bring my self to use it and so it now resides on the shelf above where I work. Where Mrs Primm and I can eye each other warily and gauge the level of todays grump before commencing upon the work in progress.

5. So grateful to and made so cheerful by my friend Jane who works at a well known London Department store and texted me to ask if I want any cheep ribbons.
What do you think?
This little lot was so cheep it was almost a crime.

6. A flock of owls landing in my garden.
More, oh so much more about this soon.

7. Joining in the Very Berry hand made fabric scrap swap.
In its self something to be cheerful about.
But being me I had to only choose scraps with a story to tell.

writing those them there little labels made me really really happy.
As did wrapping them all up in old orange wrappers.

8. My very old friend, no thats wrong, we are not that old, my very good friend from a LONG time ago, yes that sounds better.
Well any way my friend Carolyn's daughter, who I may add I remember being born and becoming very clucky over, Jess has just been published.
What a girl!
Even though I haven't seen her for many years I feel so very proud.
Jess has illustrated and written a graphic novel about her struggle with anorexia.
Which I must admit doesn't sound like a barrel of laughs.
But being a nosey type I bought a copy and it is so darkly funny, I loved it.

9. I am going to be interviewed!!
Beth at Do what you love is going to interview me about my rarely mentioned
real life job.
Which is a bit weird, as I really try not to mention it here at all.
Mainly because I am well known in that world, its a very small world, that is a fairly all consuming world at times.
Flaming Nora my alter ego
is a safety valve in a way,
some where to do what I enjoy but with a lot less pressure.

10. Very excited and scared and cheerful about a workshop I am running for teenagers with learning difficulties on Wednesday.
I suspect the most challenging workshop yet.
Ohh hoo!
Fingers crossed!

yes yes
dear dear
perhaps next year
or may be even now.

With love to the never ending memory of Ian Dury,
and to every one who makes me cheerful, grateful, scared and happy.
More grateful can be found here.
Love Nora xxx

Friday, 18 February 2011

Craft Talk

So here is the tale folks.
I have been planning in my mind a post all week, lots to say lots to share, lots of pictures have been taken.
But then my very good friend Miss Moonie Moon scuppered all the afore mentioned planning by bringing this to my attention.
And so every thing else went out the window.
Happy crafting weekend girls and boys.
Love Nora xx

Monday, 14 February 2011


A singed fragment of a letter to an aged Aunt, a worn post card from Paris, a frayed handkerchief, a beautiful piece of wedding dress lace, the trim from a going away dress, the ribbon she wore in her hair the first time she met him and a button from a set she bought on their trip to Brighton.

Apart all these things seem seem like scraps, but put them together and you begin to unravel a touching story.
In the Spring of 1927 Kitty was 24 years old and single.
By August 1928 she was a newly wed on her way to Paris.
Kitty and Harold met in the summer of 1927 on the tennis court at a picnic
for a mutual friends birthday.
Kitty was wearing a lilac dress with matching ribbon in her hair.
Harold proposed four months later on a bright blustery day at the end of Brighton's west pier, after strolling along the sea front, some light shopping and eating ice cream whilst feeding scraps of bread to the gulls.
Much to the delight of both families Kitty accepted.
No one mentioned the age difference, after all Harold was frightfully rich and
Kitty was just so charming.
Kitty's Wedding dress was made by a
charming little company in the west end of London.
Pale blue silk with cream lace trim, it really was the absolute height of daring and the cutting edge of modern fashion.
It was such a shame that the hem was snagged on a nail at the reception, but then it gave Harold his lucky charm that he carried neatly folded in to his wallet for many years to come.
The next morning Kitty and Harold drove down to the newly expanded and refurbished Croydon Airport.
It was so new you could almost still smell the smell of paint drying.
Various friends and family came to wave them off on their flight to Paris.
Kitty was wearing a beautiful dress trimmed with some braid from the dress her mother wore as her going away outfit 30 years previously.
The happy couple waved to all their well wishers from the top of the stairs, just before she stepped in to the plane the wind caught Kitty's handkerchief and
blew it away on to the tarmac.
After two days of walking arm in arm along the seine, eating bearly cooked steaks, and looking round cathedrals Kitty sent postcards to her friends and a letter to her favourite aunt.

83 years later....

What story does the collage tell you?
Something very different to the one it told me no doubt.
But that is the point of something like this, there are hundreds of untold stories within it, just waiting to be discovered.
All pieces of art, be it by one of the great masters or even a slightly odd woman who works in a shed in south London have a story to tell.
All you need is to wake up your imagination and get playing.

So really this all a very round about way to tell you of an
exciting new class I am offering.
Hand stitched art collages.
Using pieces of vintage, repurposed and modern fabrics, pictures, paper, trims, beads, buttons, threads, ribbons and imagination
create an art collage with a story woven in to it.

On Thursday 3rd March 6.30 pm till 9 pm.
At Bermondsey Fayre
212 Bermondsey St, London, SE1
Cost £20
To book please e-mail
Details of this and other upcoming workshops can be found
Happy Valentines every one.
Love Nora xx

Thursday, 10 February 2011


We have a new friend staying at our house.
Well really a very old friend of a friend.
Here she is.

She caused quite a stir when she arrived,
"What is it, what is it" shouted two excited boys.
"Is it for me? Is it for me?"
they chorused.
So I took off the incredibly pleasing teal cover to reveal
a beautiful Smith Corona in all her vintage 18th birthday present glory.
"What does it do? What does it do?"
They chanted.
"Well is types things."
We then had an amusing ten minutes trying to explain to the boys
what a typewriter is.
"So its like a really really early computer then?" said the ginger one.
"Well no not exactly"
Which then lead to an even longer discussion about the incomprehensible fact that there was a time before computers.
"How old do you think I was when I got my first computer?" I asked.
(Please keep in mind my answer does not mean I am really really ancient, just that I don't work in an industry that uses them that much.)
He thought long and hard about it and then said
"No darling 28."
And to that it appears there is no answer.
The thought of home computers in 1972 got us both wondering just how big it would have had to of been.
We decided probably as big as our house and the neighbours put together.
My thoughts turned to the enormous computers that Benny Hill uses to control the traffic lights with in "The Italian Job".
It has also been quite a shock to my finger tips remembering just how
HARD you have to hammer on a typewriters keys.
Then at the weekend on a visit to one of our
favourite places I found these

Don't they look amazingly old fashioned?
Well obviously the fossils are old fashioned to the tune of several million years,
but the type written descriptions, hand cut out with a pair of scissors to give that not quite straight look, really make it look dated.
And then I saw this.

So very carefully hand drawn.
It must have taken ages to get the typing lined up so perfectly.
Some how I found these displays in a dusty not so well visited corner of the museum
so much more engaging than the big flashy displays found else where.
They seem more personal somehow.
Sometimes something simple comes in to our lives and makes us realise just how much things have changed in our life times.
I wonder if my parents felt like this when they were in their 40's, or have things changed at a faster rate between 1990 when I turned 20 and now, than they did between 1964 when they turned 20 and 1986 when they were my age.
Who knows. I'll have to ask next time I speak to either of them.

With much to ponder upon.
Love Nora xx

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Tom Waits - "God's Away On Business"

I do so love Tom Waits
and this is one of his madder songs.
Its the end of a very bad day
and I've drunk a little too much port.
And so this is what happens.
Watch at your own peril!

Sunday, 6 February 2011


I had expected to do this post earlier today, but we were delayed by an impromptu afternoon of hill rolling and running.

Once that was done it was the usual Sunday evening routine of dinner, camp building, forgetting to do homework, again, pj's, teeth cleaning and bed.
Finally some peace and quiet for me to sit down and watch my
weekly dose of costume drama.
Whilst studiously ignoring the fact that the living room looks like
a family of baboons has been living in it.
Also my question to my self on Saturday morning has now safely been answered,
no the bedrooms will not get hoovered this weekend.
I wouldn't mind, but I have been asking that question every Saturday morning and receiving the same answer every weekend for an embarrassingly long time.
But enough of this idle chitter chat, this frivolous running on.
There is some SERIOUS BUSINESS awaiting us this evening.
Earlier I took out the magic mixing bowl and placed within it with a certain sense of ceremony the little slips of paper with the names written upon them.

So with out further ado, but with a certain amount of sadness, I just wish every one could win your stories were all so funny, I come to the big announcement.
The Hippy did the honours,
and with in his huge carpenter's hand the lucky name is held.

Well done Colette, please e-mail me with your address and soon, so soon a special parcel of Nora's valentine goodies will be landing on your door mat.
Thank you all for taking part it is quite humbling that you all liked what I do enough to join in.
I have also restocked the shelves of my folksy shop with a few new "forget me knot" reel love tokens.

Thanks and Love Nora xxx

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Well finally January is over. It has felt extra long this year.
I'm sure "they" snuck a few extra days in there with out us knowing.
But ever onwards and upwards. February is a brand new shiney month stretching before us like a beach with the tide out at day break.
And to celebrate this and the fact that in only
it will be valentine's day
Nora has been busy on your behalf.
Let me introduce you to some old friends of mine that I discovered in my recent tidy up lurking out of sight and feeling rather unloved.
But never fear folks for I dusted them off and introduced them to some other friends of mine discovered in the afore mentioned muck out.
All were unloved bits of stuff that had drifted off in to corners.
But when I introduced them something miraculous happened.

Especially when my new friend the beautiful aqua green typewriter decided to come on a holiday from my friend Jane's loft.
Oh boy then did the magic really start up.

Declarations of love the Nora way.
Heavy on the humour, light on the smush.
Those of you who know me know I'm not a great one for the smoochy side of life,
but I do LOVE a good hearty Sid James style laugh.
Lots of these reel love tokens will be in my shop soon, but because
I love you
and love the fact you actually read the insane rambling of a befuddled mind like mine,
I have saved my most favourite of the reel love tokens to give away.

It still has the original label on the top.

Undo the bow to reveal a length of vintage pillow case fabric embellished with paper hearts stamped from amongst other things an old romance about an unsuitable love between an Irish agitator and a young lady of Nobel English descent discovered hiding amongst the shelves of my Great Aunt's book shelves in a long long ago time.

Unravel until the reel love message is revealed in all its glory.

All secured in place with a little copper pin.

And so thats it folks my message to you.
You are the jam on my toast, the pork in my pie, the flea in my ear. Together we are perfect.
To win this reel love token
leave a comment at the end of this post telling me what has made you laugh today.
If you have a blog put a mention to it in your next post.
I will draw the winner from my lucky mixing bowl on Sunday 6th Feb in the afternoon.
And post it off on Monday morning so it will be with you in plenty of time for the big day.
I will also include one of the playing card valentine's cards I have been working on.

These and lots of other reel love tokens can be found
here and here and here.
Looking forward to hearing your laughter.
Nora xxx