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[week in pictures] more of a month. featuring dogs, glitter and cake. and a blackbird.

A rather random selection of pictures from my May archives which made me smile…

One of my regular visitors (if I had a familiar or a daemon, it would definitely be a blackbird)

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Sparkles in the air in my room, not long after moving in

 

Greyhound cuddles at Junk Jamboree

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The ingredients for a perfect spag bol

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Gran with sleepy puppies

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and a glimpse into the Make Me Joyful letter writing salon.

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[experiences] Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty (part 2 of my magical weekend)

Following the Night Circus (and a very entertaining impromptu photoshoot in the car park, pics to follow), I fell into bed and dreamed of fire breathers and running away to the circus.

Saturday morning saw me fairly leap out of bed and head for the station (London three times in a week, it felt most odd after six months of barely seeing the inside of a train!) to meet the lovely Hannah for lunch and (squeee, squeee, SQUEEEEE…) Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty.

Look how close to the stage we were!!

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As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader, I love all types of dance, but ballet has always held a special place in my heart… and when I rediscovered the fact that I can in fact stand en pointe I nearly melted with excitement.

So when Hannah told me she’d managed to secure tickets, I squealed out loud! Pity whoever was in hearing distance at the time – H was clever enough to break the news via text!

So off we went – we had tickets in the stalls for the matinee, which started at 2.30, giving us time for a gentle amble around Wimbledon first. Only I was too excited to focus on anything (even TK Maxx… lol) so we had lunch and then went in.

Here’s the trailer, to give you an idea of the gorgeousness of it all…

I don’t really have words for how magical it was – Kate said it was ‘astonishing’ and that she had tears of joy… and I think that’s probably the best description I’ve heard. I just adored every single second… and didn’t want to step out of the theatre and back into real life.*

After tea and cake…

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…we then made our way to Southbank in the rain and had dinner at Strada, before heading our separate ways home (after walking in entirely the wrong direction to Waterloo – yippee, I’m officially a tourist again, with no sense of direction!) and lovely Hannah is coming to stay for a bit later this week. So we can wax lyrical about the ballet all over again.

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It was her first ballet – I can’t decide if I’m wildly envious that her first experience was a Bourne, or whether it’ll make future ballets seem, not dull, but perhaps less colourful, by comparison…

And of course, a duck came with me, as one does everywhere… he was eyeing up the teapots, and then I told him that three really was quite enough…

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Oh, and just to top off my excitement, Matthew Bourne favourited one of my tweets about it!

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*Disclaimer – It must be said that I absolutely love my real life at the moment, but the weekend was host to two of the most magical events of my life so far.  So you’ll forgive me for wanting to stay in them. Expect similar behaviour after the Fling – it happens every time!

[experiences] Stepping into the Night Circus

A weekend of pure magic is over… and I’m looking back and sighing with happiness at every moment of it.

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On Friday, The Night Circus arrived at Tea and Sympathy, my favourite place in Colchester. The dress code was black and white and circus-appropriate, with a red accent for the reveurs – those who had read the book. (And if you’ve read it, you’ll know why!) For those that haven’t had the pleasure, the theme was around the book The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.

My red accents were my sequined shoes, scarlet lipstick and a peek of a red bra… 🙂

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I don’t think I’ve ever felt more thoroughly myself, though my outfit wasn’t entirely appropriate for the multi storey car park where we put the cars when we arrived… lol. But I’ve always been fascinated by the circus – my burlesque name is a tribute to my obsession with Enid Blyton’s circus stories!

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I arrived with Gabby and Chris, after the quickest house tour in the history of the world, and we wandered in a haze of happiness through the shop, up and down the tiny, twisting staircase, to hidden rooms, magic and wonder at every turn…

There were fire dancers, burlesque from Miss Fanny Darling, magicians, fortune tellers and some cocktails, which I’m told were lethal… I declined to sample them, as I quite fancied getting home without getting arrested!

Here’s Gabby and Chris, looking like they belong with the Cirque…

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Miss Fanny Darling as the Raven…

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And the incredible fire dancing duo (I have plans for a skirt just like that one… I LOVE IT!)2013-04-26 22.05.06 2013-04-26 22.05.28

I’ll leave you with the video of the fire dancers – a little taste of the most magical evening I’ve had in a long, long time!  With thanks to Tea and Sympathy for making dreams reality 🙂

My life is no longer packed in boxes | Week in photos

Oh, it’s been a whirlwind of a week. (I wonder how often I start a blog post with that?) I’ve finally moved, I’m in, the keys have been handed back to the old flat’s agents and my new house feels like home already!

Here are the fabulous daffodils (I ADORE daffs) that Mum and Dad brought me to celebrate moving in. I feel I should point out that the curtains will be changed shortly, and I really should have been buying them flowers – couldn’t have done this move without them!

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And my very first visitors this weekend…

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Here are some (probably blurry) photos from the move – am hoping Mum took some of the chaos of boxes, as I completely forgot in the excitement!

Last morning waking up in my old flat

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(more…)

Weather for ducks, and other photos

I can quite see why moving house is one of the top stressful things you can do in this life. Here are some photos of what I’ve been doing around the packing, admin and incompetence…

Weather for ducks… literally:

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Puppy cuddles with the lovely Frankie. It’s a hard life…

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Learning a bit more ukulele.

ukulele and tablet | duckingfabulous.comGlorious blue skies on the way to meet Becky for a celebratory lunch in Balham (and unexpectedly bumping into an old friend from school)

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A conference in the Essex iLabs, where you’re encouraged to play with the toys and things provided. Like nothing I’ve ever done before!

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And finally, wine to help me get through the strangely emotional final Friday night in my first flatwine | duckingfabulous.com

This week I am mostly…

Feeling: Either overwhelmed or ridiculously excited… I don’t seem to have a middle setting, and it’s rather exhausting!

Reading:

[Interview] The Paris Letters – a project that turned into a business

[Article] Why mess can be a good thing

[Book] The Secret Supper Club, Dana Bate

[Blog post] Dance to your own beat, the Be Free Community

Eating: with other people – it’s been lovely! (And the year’s first Cadbury mini eggs. Nom nom nom).

Planning: new lines of jewellery, wholesale options and a website; things to do in the new house (decorating, cooking, creating, entertaining) and some dance routines.

Dreaming of: Not being surrounded by boxes, and being a bit bloody warmer, please – the novelty of winter is well and truly over now. If we’re talking actual dreams, I dreamed of sunglasses the  night before last so we can only hope that means spring is on its way.

Coveting: Contrariety Rose’s cherry dress (yup, that’s me in the listing. I wanted to take it home!!)

Wishing: I was better at playing the ukulele and/or guitar, especially after discovering 9 year old Zoe Thomson’s guitar playing.

Working on: New fonts on the site (did you notice how much prettier they are now?) courtesy of Gemma at Jane & Philbert, and deliberately disconnecting more often, courtesy of Diane Leigh and Grace Marshall.

Celebrating: Having been 27 for a whole week today, and the launch of 15 Queen Street tonight.

Grateful for: The first shafts of sunshine, likeminded souls and my apparently innate ability to network and connect with people.

And finally tomorrow I will be: drinking hot chocolate with Rachael, finalising the packing up of the studio, making lists of the contents of the flat and working on all my websites.

On my to-do list?

– Various money-related tasks (paying bills, setting up accounts, budgeting & planning)
– House admin (let people know I’m moving, switch providers, notify of change of address, etc etc etc)
–  Try and get some kind of control over my Ducking Fabulous accounts
– everything is there, but nothing is in date order and it’s making me cross
–  Book next burlesque course
– Learn a bit more about Google Analytics
– Getting dates in the diary with friends who I’ve been trying and failing to see for months

So quite a good one ahead – and of course ploughing on with the web stuff at the day job. Which I love, but which occasionally makes my pea brain hurt.

Life in Instagrams and Happy Thursdays

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In progress #tassels #burlesque

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Testing xmas pressie tablecloths and mats #teal #violet

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Like a ballet in the air – but rather them than me!

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Frosty #cobweb on the walk to work. Brrrr.

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Nom nom mango sorbet 🙂

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Lots of eBay parcels to post 🙂

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The last few weeks in Instagram highlights – L-R tassels in progress, colourful table settings and ballet in the air at work; frosted spider web, delicious mango sorbet, first batch of eBay parcels from my pre-move clear out.

Happy things include 15 Queen Street and discovering the amazing creatives in my area | planning and prepping for a collaborative photoshoot with Contrariety Rose | development of Ink Drops Boxes | various happy-making side projects | fabulous Free Range Humans (the people and the book) | finding a new home | Hotel Chocolat caramel hot chocolate | bumping into Poppy’s old owner on a roundabout in a snowstorm | resurrecting the Ducks on Tour and finding original Frankie and Freddie pictures

And I have Thursday and Friday off work for the shoot 🙂

Cabaret Night: my first burlesque performance

It’s been, amazingly, a whole month since my first ever burlesque performance. Cabaret night had been excitedly planned, panicked over and squeaked about for quite some time, and then crept up on us quite suddenly!

Any of you who know me in real life or follow me on Twitter will be aware that although I’ve loved burlesque, corsets and the pin up style most of my adult life, and have danced most of my life, joining a burlesque dance course was quite a big step. A step that, once taken, I couldn’t understand why it had taken me so long – I think was born to prance about in a corset and high heels with feathers in my hair!!

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I dance with some of my closest friends, and lots of lovely friends turned up to watch us dance, among them Lou and her sister, who also ran a Contrariety Rose stall on the night… IMG_9467and some of my uni girls who schlepped all the way up from Oxford, Kent and Southend… bless them! Was lovely to see them though I was far too overexcited to actually have a proper conversation!

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Here are some more pics of us dancers…

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And we made it into the Essex Chronicle the following week!

It was a glorious night (I also had a Ducking Fabulous stall) and I came off the stage wanting to go and do it again, preferably immediately! Definitely have the performing bug back again after so long away from the stage – and can’t wait to start classes again in January!

The first weekend… a photographic miscellany

My final day in London was 26th October. I was rather tearful and overwhelmed, having been entirely unexpectedly presented with a lovely card, a vintage mannequin (they know me well) and THE BIGGEST KIT KAT IN THE WORLD (you think I’m joking… look at it!! Was very touched that my director had bid on it in a charity auction for me.)

You can see the mannequin, now named Delilah, in the background of an Ink Drops promo pic here…

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and the KitKat here, all three kilos of it, and better photos coming soon. My plan is to photograph it properly and then take it home for Christmas so the kids can help me eat it. With a hammer. It would be a shame not to eat it!

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Caroline helped me carry all my stuff to St Paul’s station, and then I hopped on a tube, hopped on a train for the final time and headed home to shower, collect Poppy and drive up to Nottingham. Rob had promised to have celebratory cocktails at the ready, though the fact that I didn’t get there till twenty to one in the morning scuppered my plans to drink lots, lol!

On Saturday we popped to town and accidentally helped break a Guiness World Record (for the most people doing a science experiment at the same time – slime and rockets, what’s not to love?!), experimented with Shakeaway and tried not to buy the whole of Lakeland, and then went home to celebrate some more by cooking ridiculous amounts of food…

Recipes and the beginnings of chicken & tarragon pie…

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We might have cheated a tiny bit with the pastry but doing a good job of pretending to be proud, no?!

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Finished pie!! It was AMAZING.

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(yes, extra big pic, I was proud of the pie)

And I wanted to test my new spoons mould from Lakeland… with chocolate orange…

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Never miss an opportunity to pose like an idiot, me…

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And just in case you’re interested, this is what four chocolate spoons look like when I’ve accidentally eaten the one I was posing with. (I’m actually quite excited about the concept of doing these in marbled chocolate to go with dessert for dinner parties…) The chocolate orange stays softer once it’s been melted and mixed, so they were very dangerously moreish pleasant when set.

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It was gloriously relaxing and a lovely way to mark the end of my London adventures and start my new life… and I finished it by meeting Anna in Loughborough for dinner, and Dad unexpectedly joined us for a drink too, to break his journey.

All round lovely 😀

The Homecoming of a Vintage Sewing Machine

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EDIT 23/11/20 – I’m getting fairly regular requests for the manual for this machine – I’m so sorry, I gave it to a friend when I moved house in 2015 so don’t have the machine or the manual any more 🙁

Quite some time ago, I broke the little portable sewing machine my Gran gave me. The tension has gone, and when I took it in to be fixed they told me, gently but firmly, that it would be significantly cheaper to buy a new one.

So I have existed without one till now – not critical as I plan a lot of sewing and rarely get round to actually doing it, and have been able to beg, steal or borrow machines to use when I’ve needed to make things like the parrot costume.

However, lovely Kim at work gave me one quite a while ago, and only its weight and bulk stopped me from bringing it home till now. One very long day, a sturdy suitcase and a few pulled muscles later, and here she is, installed in my studio… isn’t she gorgeous?

Joining my Singer and my Jones (meep, that means I now officially have a collection of vintage sewing machines), but superior in that she has an ELECTRIC PEDAL… she’s very heavy, but threaded up and whizzed through the test piece very smoothly. I have bobbins that fit her, so will get some new needles tomorrow and we’re off!

Here’s to a long and happy relationship!

xx

PS Pretty sure Kimmy doesn’t read my blog – but if you do, a million thank yous, I’m in love!

Dreams, tea, cake and fancy dress

Any of you who are regular readers, or who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, will know I rarely have a day to myself without commitments, travel and madness. Yet today was exactly that. And it was heavenly.

I spent the morning researching properties for the new incarnation of Project Pin Up  – having discovered that this one, which I popped out to see and photograph briefly on Thursday evening, has been sold and had planning permission granted to turn it into houses. Clearly I don’t have the resources to buy something like this, but a lease may be possible with a proper business plan and some angel or VC investment. It’s a pipe dream, but it’s making me happy.

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I had an impromptu brunch with Janine to plan her upcoming 30th birthday party, followed by taking shelter in the garden centre next door when the heavens opened (convenient, no?!) As a result I came home with these, which don’t count as 100 days lapses, because Poppy is desperate for an air freshener, and you can never have too many notelets 🙂 (please excuse shocking photo – the thing in the front is a pack of Yankee Candle car air fresheners, in Macintosh, my favourite crisp apple scent).

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Came home and had a cup of Ceylon tea (I am rapidly growing very fond of it, especially taken from a teapot, with cake)

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Spent the afternoon working on a couple of PDFs for PPU’s soon-to-be-launched new website and download centre, and popped to town to look at the empty, derelict and up-for-sale old Odeon. It’s 1930s Art Deco, beautiful building and so sad that it’s been empty and unloved for so long. It also has a £1.5m price tag, and is too big and the wrong shape for what I’d like to do with it. But worth looking at from the outside anyway. I hope someone converts it soon… it’s going to crumble otherwise.

May have accidentally topped up my fancy dress box in Accessorize’s ridiculous sale – each of these was £1.50…

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And picked up the little bird earrings for me, and the ice skate for a dear friend of mine who I don’t see enough and who I’m almost certain doesn’t read my blog! 

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And now? It’s only half past seven, so I shall make dinner, work some more on the websites I’m currently building, and perhaps later curl up with a book and another cup of tea. Tomorrow I have the day to myself until 4pm, when I’m off to help Mum & Dad with some computer bits in the new flat and have dinner with them there 🙂

I hope you’ve all had equally gorgeous Saturdays – I’m resolving to have more like today!

London 2012 Opening Ceremony

A highlight of my weekend was watching the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony – I didn’t intend to stay awake for all of it, but it was so spellbinding I did… and I was, am, so proud to be British. Much more than usual – Danny Boyle triumphed! The description of it as a “love letter to his homeland” struck quite a chord – it was breathtakingly beautiful. And all the engineers I know got ridiculously excited about the cauldron.

I noticed the reflection of the TV in my “HOME” embroidery – and thought it was slightly more interesting than just photographing my TV screen. So here are a few shots from the ceremony.

 

IMG_9192 IMG_9174 IMG_9176 IMG_9179 IMG_9181 IMG_9186 IMG_9188 IMG_9190 It transpired that two people I know, an old friend and the daughter of a friend, were part of the ceremony – while watching and tweeting I discovered people I follow were involved. It was fabulous. Let’s hope we now get some medals to go with the breathtaking ceremonial pomp 🙂