Thursday, 29 April 2010

Simply the Best

Yes, it's that exciting time of year again, it happens but twice; Saturday sees the HenHouse gang making their way to Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire to set up stall at the marvellous Vintage and Handmade Fair.

It's fair (ha dee ha) to say it's been a very busy week here. I am horribly jetlagged and waking up at ridiculous times which has seen some super-early morning crafting in the den. I think we're just about there though and for the last couple of days, I've been dragging out all my props, finishing off oddles of hand sewing and setting up my stall in the guest room. I find it immensely helpful to have this trial run; it means I can set up quickly once we arrive at the Fair and then I can hopefully head off to do a spot of shopping myself before the good people waiting at the door descend. Oooh exciting!

I take a few snaps of my stall with me as a visual reference for setting up in the hall. It has turned really dull here now so my photos are not so amazing but I thought for those of you who are sadly unable to make the Fair, you might like to see what I have concocted this time round as I have waved goodbye to some past designs to make way for quite a few new designs and scrumptious fabrics. I also know from past experience that some eagle-eyed shoppers spot things they set their little hearts on and make a beeline to my stall on the day to make those goodies their very own. Well that is a very nice feeling indeed, thank you.

The HenHouse stall...

My trusty pink shelves are there, laden with pretty vintage teacup candles, covered notebooks and other bits 'n' bobs.

Several new felt birdies have hatched, a combination of vintage felted woollen blankets and gorgeous vintage fabrics with lots of time consuming hand embroidery.

The little suitcase is full to the brim with lavender-filled sacks in various shapes, sizes and vintage fabrics.

There's plenty of fun flea market bunting to string up in the garden...

Lots of lovely handmade gift cards crafted with vintage cigarette cards, printed papers of vintage fabrics, and scraps of pretty lace and trimmings. These have proved very popular, I know one of my very best customers has even had one framed (hope to see you on Saturday, L).

I have made some manly ones but I confess, the girly ones are my faves!

The old cake stand is there laden with teacup candles, vintage fabric lavender bags and a few birdies.

And here's the case you may have spotted in my blog banner up there. This came to us courtesy of Mr HenHouse's Dad who was having an attic clearout recently. I have lined it with some absolutely gorgeous vintage wallpaper from America and it is now full to the brim with lovely bags, hangers and eye masks made with divine vintage French and German fabrics and pure silk.

The revamped pin board is there too and has been charged up with lots of fun new brooch designs, some incorporating beautiful vintage fabrics which have generally come my way from the super Ms Flower. All the new designs were made whilst we were holidaying in the Maldives so please excuse the odd grain of sand!

I almost forgot! There are plenty of the ever-popular owls, jostling for space in yet another case (this one from our neighbour - there's nothing like a bit of scrounging!) There are also three really pretty patchwork cushions in those lovely vintage fabrics again.

The owls have been ousted from the crib this time round by some rather special cushions.

Someone will hopefully want to treat themself to a whopping 20" patchworked cushion, made from 100 little squares of stunning fabrics. I have made just two, they are a real labour of love! Trust me, in "real life" they are so gorgeous, so many lovely fabric designs to feast ones eyes upon. Similarly, I wanted to make a couple of Dresden plate cushions as the one I made for my own bed turned out so beautifully. These have "blades" in the vintage French/German fabrics with piping and "plate" in blue dots with a hand quilted star pattern in the centre.

Finally, the stall will definitely look a little different as I will be making room for some vintage china cake stands. We have been collecting beautiful plates for some time and they are patiently waiting that marvellous man of mine to work his magic later on!

So, my dear friends, I hope to see many of you on Saturday, and I hope to chat to you, not just see you, so please don't be shy. Chatting to customers, putting a face to a name, is one big part of what makes the day so special. See you there - and to everyone, enjoy the weekend. Now I need to attend to the not so small matter of deciding what to wear!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Well it doesn't seem two minutes, my dear readers, since we were doing this...

(Golly, there's not a lot to be said for the architecture of this station, is there?) But in fact it's been quite some time, hasn't it? Thank you for that, Mr Volcano! We should have returned to Blighty over a week ago but found ourselves stranded in the middle of nowhere, veritably marooned on a desert island. Feeling sorry for us? Hmm, you might want to reserve judgment!

So where have we been all this time then? Well, first it was the short matter of a nine and a half hour flight heading East. But we weren't there yet, oh no. Our holidays invariably involve some new and whacky mode of transport and this time, we thought how about a sea plane? There's nothing that Munchkin loves more than a new and unusual form of transport...

Eeek, I've never been in an 18 seater plane before where you're practically on the pilot's knee. Hold ooooooonnn...

Hmm, where on earth are we heading? Hope the pilot has a better idea of how to make head or tail of this.

Phew, there it is, our desert island dream...

Now things get really interesting. After a fifteen minute flight, we have to get out of the seaplane, which has landed in the middle of the sea, and wait for the speedboat to take us ashore. Yes, on that little rickety rafty thing. I need a cocktail. Please let there be cocktails. Soon.

The speedboat soon picks us up and whisks us off. They've done this before, many times, thank goodness. Ah, that looks more like it.

The jetty is in sight and wild horses will not drag me back to that grim railway station in London!

Where next? I see the important things a girl on an island in the Maldives needs to know. The reef. The bar. The spa. Let's gloss over the sports centre. Sorted.

And here is home for the next two weeks (make that three then, Mr Volcano).

The villa is the least of our priorities and we do what you just have to do first when you hit foreign shores: get your cossie on and head for the nearest beach or the nearest pool. Well, the infinity pool is handily situated on the beach so there's no need to choose. Good, because the only thing I'm choosing for the next few weeks is a cocktail from the list and a treatment in the spa!

This is the life, thinks the Munchkin.

The boys take part in a spot of unexpected bird watching. Indeed, Henry the Heron is often to be found around the island over the following weeks and likes nothing better than a dip in the pool.

Bird watching? Far too exhausting for me, I'd need to get off my sunlounger. Very important to keep hydrated whilst in a hot country (and trust me, it was oh SO hot), so there's nothing for it than a cocktail or maybe two, to accompany a spot of crafting. The colours prove very inspirational.

As do the stunning flowers. The vegetation is abundant on the island (as are the lizards - eek!)

The Munchkin has other things on his mind. He's still building sand castles as the sun goes down.

Other times, he finds it all tooo wearying and opts for munching some pineapple in a rather comfy spot.

As well as beautiful flowers, there is truly a-mazing marine life in the Maldives. We borrowed some snorkelling gear and saw some fabulous fish and corals. The coral reef was mere yards from one side of the island and you could easily spot all manner of colourful fish swimming next to you as you stood only waist deep in the sea. Oh the sea; warm as bath water and crystal clear. The best sea I've ever been privileged to see. Did I mention the sharks?

It wasn't all just laziness and cocktails, you know. One afternoon, we ventured to the nearby island, home to local Maldivian people. Ah yes, we can do cultural here at the HenHouse.

There was the predictable selection of gift shops though they were fairly low key.

Hmm, it's hardly This 'n' That in Totnes!

I think you could walk around the whole island in half an hour. To be honest, it was not particularly pretty, the shoreline was shockingly littered with rubbish, I think we were spoiled on our resort island and it was a shame to see the locals didn't seem to care to look after the island or the water round it. I satisfied myself with snapping some colourful local houses.

The island has 900 inhabitants and apparently an average home will house three families (and the houses were generally not as pretty or as big as the ones I've photographed). It was an interesting and thought provoking comparison for the lucky eight year old Munchkin. The school was a tad different from his own Victorian Gothic pile.

We were keen to head back to paradise! The island looked spectacularly pretty at dusk.

Cocktail at the Sand Bar anyone?

Ah, I miss this...

The entertainment on the island is about as lively as watching the sting rays being fed at 6.30pm each evening.

The local man has apparently been feeding fish to the sting rays for years. It was quite a sight to behold!

For Mr HenHouse and I, there were some yummy meals in gorgeous shore-side restaurants with only a handful of tables, from where we could watch the crabs scuttling along the beach.

Most evenings, it was a little cloudy but there were still some fairly spectacular sunsets to behold.

Goodbye, Maldives...

We had a truly wonderful time but of course, it's always nice to be home. Eventually.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Oh Dear

My dear readers, I am afraid your suspicions are correct and Mr HenHouse, the Munchkin and yours truly are still currently roughing it somewhere on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. We have no idea when we're going to be able to get on a flight back home but we hope it's soon because this beach and those cocktails are getting to be hard work!

We hope you all had a lovely Easter and have fingers crossed that normal blogging action shall soon be resumed. Thanks so much for your very kind concerns.

Bye for now...

Hen xxx

Saturday, 3 April 2010

I'm Leaving...

...on a jet plane, as the song goes. Yes, it's that time of year, time for the HenHouse gang to shut up shop and head off somewhere for a bit of sun, sand and all that.

The hat, the swimmers, the sandals, it's all ready. In fact, having yesterday and today to get ready has been a real luxury, no last minute flapping (yet!) Still anguishing over which crafty supplies to pack but I am narrowing it down, slowly but surely.

Oh how I am going to miss my marvellous Den though (and that furry inhabitant, Charlie Boy). The excitement and joy (and relief) of getting away is slightly tinged with sadness at leaving the HenHouse and its furry contingent behind.

Worry not though, the ever dependable Lola-the-cat-sitter shall be in residence for much spoiling and far too many treats, no doubt, and to keep a watchful eye on the homestead.

Not forgetting, of course, that it is finally Easter time. Bit of a let-down with the weather but never mind. Downstairs, there is a little basket of goodies waiting for the Munchkin...

...and there are a few decorations on the mantelpiece. The curly twig hazel tree in our cottage's garden was ever obliging with some fabby, twirly sticks for suspending a few goodies.

The Easter bunny has collected a few eggs and behind him, you might just spot my lily pad which the Munchkin made me at school. Awww, one to be treasured.

I'm sorry Jackie, it's nowhere near as exciting as the Christmas decorations, hope I didn't get your hopes up! I was going to make a wreath and all sorts but time just ran away. I was also going to show you more of my crafty makes but never mind, I know you're all busy munching eggs too and don't you worry, they'll still be here when we get back!

More excitement today, when we popped to Dulwich and happened to go into the marvellous sweetie shop Hope and Greenwood.

Oooh, too yummy! Everything they sell is packaged so beautifully.

What did we find, only all the Easter stock half price. Well, it would have been rude not to! Mr HH got the decidedly large (weighing 2.2kg!) jar of sugary eggs, his favourites, I got the beautifully patterned bunny.

So, my dear friends, all that remains is to thank you for travelling on this blogging journey with me thus far this year and to wish you and all those you hold near and dear, a very...


See you in a while...