About Me

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United Kingdom
Hi there & welcome to Annie's Place. A place inspired by and named after my late Grandmother Annie. Somewhere I can be creative, and share my love for all things hand made. I like nothing better than sitting with hook & yarn, crafting something home spun & completely unique, or rustling up some yummy baked goodies. I live in a town with a beautiful embankment, situated on the River Great Ouse. You may know me as 'Colour-Heaven' on Flickr or 'CosyKitty' on Ravelry. Why not stop a while.....?!!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Random disclosures

Is there anything more satisfying than a pile of crochet squares waiting to be made into something special?? Hmmm, takes some beating as I'm sure most of you agree?

This pile is a B.I.P. or Bag In Progress to you and me. A happy pile of teal granny squares sat atop some lovely coordinating fabric sourced locally for the lining.

Another bag similar to others I've made here and here. They are a joy to make and I enjoy the whole process from start to finish. I'm more and more drawn to this colour lately for some reason. It is yummy though. 

I'm at the assembly stage, the exciting bit. I'm so looking forward to finishing it and giving it to the lovely recipient. Hence why I'm not showing too much now.

It's exceptionally dull and muggy here today. High humidity is not pleasant. Especially for people with respiratory disease. I can't help but worry about those people, as I reminisce my own Mother's struggle in this type of weather. Not pleasant at all. Sorry for the tangent, but I do have such sympathy for people who suffer in this heat.

We had a wild night last night, thunder, lightening, battering rain. It was nice inside looking out at the drama unfold. But earlier in the evening I had to travel the 20 or so miles back from my Father's home and it was hair raising to say the least.

Still, it afforded me a day to catch up at home. A lazy start, a bit of fruit for brekkie and a read of my favourite magazine. I find when the sun is shining I have an irresistible urge to go out and do something fun. On a day like today I'm happy to chill in my comfy little space called home.

One fun thing I did get to do recently was take a leisurely trip down the Ouse on the local community boat The John Bunyan with Dad. Since Mum passed away we've been making memories, doing simple, enjoyable things together. It's a blessing to be able to while away the hours with him, talking, laughing and remembering Mum.

We took a punt (pardon the pun) and just made our way down to Sovereigns Quay hoping there would be a spare seat or two on board for the afternoon cruise. It turned out to be like a private charter for us in the end, as there was only a smattering of other people on board. And most of them were the wonderful crew of volunteers, without whom the boat wouldn't be the success it is.

Mind you I'm not complaining, as every other time I've seen it it's been very busy, so it felt kinda special to have it practically to ourselves. I think we were just very lucky as it's a popular attraction here in Bedford. 

Well that's a little hello from me. 
My final thought to make you smile.....xx

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A selfless act for The Little Princess Trust

Hello my lovely readers. I'm here today to ask for some help. I know how generous so many of you are therefore I thought I'd take the opportunity to pull at your heartstrings a little if I may. 

Sophie is the 13 year old daughter of a very good friend of mine, and she has decided to donate her hair to a UK charity that makes real hair wigs for children who have lost theirs due to cancer treatment or other illnesses.

Anything, however small would be gratefully received to maximise Sophie's fundraising efforts. Let's see if we can make a difference.

Thank you so much
x x x

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Going back to my roots.....

As you may know I lost my Mum 17 weeks ago, and it's completely turned my life upside down. But despite the heartache of longing to see her; touch her; speak to her; laugh with her; just be in her presence, I have gained so much from the experience.

I admit to being so frightened of death and dying before, but for me my Mum's last hours conversely turned out to be the single biggest achievement of my life thus far. You see, I never thought I'd have the strength to sit by her side, holding her hand, till her last breath. To watch her slip away in front of my eyes seemed incomprehensible. I was tormented by it for years, and had built up the most horrific picture in my mind of how it would be.

My mum was incredibly resilient and fought a real fight right until the end. I saw it; I felt it. And upon that last breath she passed that grit and determination resolutely to me! I have become less fearful, less anxious because of her. Because of the determination she showed in those last months of her life, I am a different person. It changed me. 

She witnessed me take my first breath and I her last. We had come full circle.

I've always appreciated the beauty in nature, and the simple things in life. But now I have a renewed enthusiasm for all that this life has to offer. I wrote a eulogy for Mum where I promised I would make the best of every day, and that I would now breathe for her. Taking every breath with purpose. In her memory I plan to do my best to fulfil that promise. 

I didn't know whether to post this today, in the aftermath of another tragedy in our capital city. A high rise block in West London turned into a real life towering inferno in the early hours of yesterday morning, trapping it's residents inside. It took just minutes to engulf almost the entire building, leaving hundreds homeless and worse.

But I think it's entirely appropriate to share my thoughts as I had planned, for the simple fact that my Mother succumbed to severe respiratory disease. So sadly I know all too well how frightening it is to fight for your breath. The minute I heard of this tragedy unfolding I just thought of those desperate people, almost certainly fighting for breath as the smoke filled their homes, and I've not been able to shake the horror of that since.

The pictures that I'm sharing with you today are from a recent trip to Scotland. I spent a wonderful week immersed in the stunning surrounds of Argyll, specifically staying at Hunter's Quay, Dunoon. My cousin very generously offered her holiday home to us as a base to explore the magnificent highlands.

The main purpose of the trip was to attend a family reunion on Saturday 10th June in Glasgow. My father's cousin had painstakingly organised this event to reunite all the descendants of my Great Grandparents Sarah & Thomas. Extended family from all over the world were invited to congregate at The Woodside Hall in the city. 

Having suffered such a great loss so recently, I felt really compelled to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and be amongst my relatives from far and wide. People I would pass on the street and not realise were my bloodline. Extended family have become so much more important since losing Mum, and ashamedly I hadn't seen much of my Father's side of the family for more than 13 years.

We spent the first part of the week staying at the Hunter's Quay holiday village just off the banks of the Holy Loch. It was such a beautiful location and the perfect place to call home for a few days. There is a regular ferry service from Gourock to Hunter's Quay which is the shortest possible route across the Firth of Clyde.

We made sure to explore as much as possible. It did rain very heavily for some of our stay, but it didn't matter one bit as the scenery is spectacular come rain or shine. We took the coastal road from Strachur to Otter Ferry one day and came upon the most wonderful bar & restaurant called The Oystercatcher. You can see it here on Google Maps.

A truly wonderful setting. The interior is beautifully styled, and would be the perfect venue for a special event. It is remote, but totally worth the trip. We enjoyed some refreshments while admiring the view. I just had to get a picture using the window as a frame. To think this time last week I was sat there!!

I admit to feeling a little melancholy as I gazed at the water and highlands beyond. Mum wasn't there, and that was hard. My father was supping on a pint of Guiness, as we reminisced a while. We talk about Mum all the time, and remember happy times. My parents often holidayed in this part of Scotland, so my Father couldn't help but be reminded of special moments spent there.

I took the opportunity to pull over and stop the car at many different vantage points, where I stood in awe at the majesty of the landscape. I just wanted to be 'in the moment' and to admire the wild beauty. I inhaled deeply, filling my lungs. Then slowly exhaled, committing to memory the outstanding panorama in front of me. 

After all, this is as much my country as any other! I was born in England, but I have Scottish and Irish blood running through my veins, and I am proud of my Celtic roots. Going back to my roots has been very cathartic for me. Being embraced by all my extended family has helped immensely with my grief. My cousin's (who's holiday home we stayed in ) beloved Mother also died at the same time as my own, so we were able to find consolation in each other's struggle.

It was very emotional, and uplifting at the same time. Being surrounded by those you love, and that love you unconditionally in return is something to be cherished. I don't know what I was looking for. Perhaps I just felt the need to belong. My mother was ripped out of my life, and I felt adrift. I couldn't have asked for a better homecoming. I will not be leaving it another 13 years, I can tell you that...........

x x x x x x x

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Handmade Fair Ragley Hall & Stratford Upon Avon

So this time last week I was driving west from home to visit The Handmade Fair at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire. The opening day of the event was pretty soggy to say the least. From what I'd seen on social media Kirstie Allsopp was handing out rain ponchos to visitors.

Well I was happy to trade Kirstie for some sun on the Saturday. Although it would've been nice to have met her, considering she was pretty instrumental in encouraging me to pick up a hook and yarn some 7 years ago.

The setting was absolutely stunning. Acres and acres of beautiful grounds. Not sure £6 (on the day) to park was entirely fair. If it had been a free event then perhaps parking charges would've been justified. After all, the recent WI Fair and Country Living Fair both staged at Alexandra Palace in London offered free parking. Ho hum....

Once inside the enclosure, we took a mooch around. As the sun was shining we decided to do a circuit of the outside first, just in case a shower took hold later. 

There was a central marquee housing the market place, and several others that were on the perimeter. A couple were only accessible to VIP ticket holders. Sadly no VIP status for me, so could only guess what was going on inside. Mostly workshops and Q&A's with the crafty invited guest speakers. 

There were lots of food stalls as you would expect. I thought The Hippy Chippy was a funky little number......

Brown & Drury
The Pip House

The lure of the market place soon took hold, so we headed inside. I didn't really take many pics as I browsed the stalls. I know I've said this before, and I don't mean to sound like a broken record but you can normally get a vibe from the stall holder as to whether they mind you taking a few snap shots. 

Some stall holders give you the impression that if you're not buying, then move aside, and certainly no pics. Have any of you felt like that?? I appreciate smiles and chat don't pay for the costs incurred by these small businesses to exhibit at these fairs, but I do think you have to strike a balance. 

I did get a lovely shot of Gail Drury of Brown & Drury. She was lovely and smiley and chatty. Couldn't be nicer. Her collection of handmade luxurious scented candles and diffusers, were beautifully displayed. She had a rustic bag filled with scented fir cones for prospective customers to have a sniff at. Let me tell you they were divine. A clever idea I thought.

Daisy Glass
Yummy Little Cakes

Another very approachable stall holder was Mr Daisy Glass. I call him that because I don't know his name. When I asked if he would mind me taking a photo of the lovely glassware on the stall, he was quick to point out that it was his wife Sally's beautiful work and not his. Obviously didn't want to take the credit for the stunning pieces of contemporary handmade glass work on display. I thought that was very sweet.

After we'd had our fill of the fair, we headed into Stratford Upon Avon to do a bit of sight seeing. Never been there before, and what a lovely picturesque place it is.  Spotted a beautifully restored old bus, apparently built in 1950, taken out of service in 1964, lovingly brought back to life around 2012. Isn't she gorgeous??

The day ended with a lovely meal with friends, and a saunter along the riverside with an ice-cream.

I'm listing a few of the other traders at the Handmade Fair 
that I was impressed with here if you fancy a gander....

x x x x

*this is NOT a sponsored post

Friday, 12 May 2017

Country Living Spring Fair 2017 - Alexandra Palace

It's been a couple of weeks since I attended the Country Living Spring Fair, and I've been meaning to share with you some snippets of my day. There never seems to be enough hours in the day recently, do you feel like that sometimes?

Since Mum passed away I've been trying to keep as busy as I can, and fill my days with things that make me happy. One thing that makes me very happy is being able to spend time around like minded people, who share similar interests. Those types of people were in abundance at this years Country Living Spring Fair, so I felt very at home.

Dangly Hearts

I confess to getting there very late on the final day of the four day event, big mistake. I really thought I'd have plenty of time, but yet again I underestimated how much time I'd need to fully appreciate & enjoy all the beautifully presented stands. Anyhoo, I did my usual and started at one end of the vast main hall and took a wander up and down each aisle. 

At every turn there was another stall to tempt me. I took a few minutes to have a good look, usually stopping to have a chat to the owner before asking if they would mind if I took a photo. I don't like to assume it's ok, so I always ask. Not everyone's happy for you to just snap away, so I think it's always polite to ask.

Dangly Hearts

One such lovely stall holder was Dangly Hearts. Isn't that a gorgeous display of their wares pictured above?!! Beautifully presented handmade textile gifts and homewares, using various embroidery techniques. Just lovely. 

The Gin Trailer

Because time was limited I didn't focus too much on the food and drinks stalls, although there were a lot to see. I just had to get a photo of the converted horse box trailer selling Gin. So cute.

Rustique Interiors

Now where do I start with this absolutely stunning selection of products from Rustique Interiors. I had the pleasure of chatting with the artist responsible for creating this exquisite work, Carey Naughton. 

All the place mats, coasters, cards, framed pictures, cushions, beautifully printed from original patchwork, applique and machine embroidered pieces.  I was completely enamoured by everything on this stand, and told Carey I would be dropping very large hints to all my family and friends when it comes to gift ideas for my birthday, Christmas etc. 

There was a specific print that I kept being drawn back to, but didn't have the funds to buy there and then. But it's still very much in my mind's eye, and I'm determined it will find a home with me some day soon. The Scots connection was a definite draw too. My father is Scottish, and I'm very very proud of my heritage.

There were several home sets around the venue, that were staged with lots of lovely items. I loved the bedroom set pictured above. Very calming, just how a space for sleeping should be. A subdued colour palette, soft & restrained, a sanctuary for relaxation. 

Oscar & French
Fen &Co

In my other life, I'd be one of those women that effortlessly wafts around, hair loosely tied up, fresh faced, freckled rosy cheeks (I've got the freckles so that's a plus I suppose), wearing her linen apron, baking, tending to her veggie patch in her cottage garden. Not quite Stepford Wives status, but not far off......you get the picture? I do covet such a lifestyle, but know life's not like that (for most of us).

You may be thinking where's Sharron going with this? Well here's the thing. You see; I was completely seduced by the Linen Aprons on offer from Oscar and French at the Fair, especially in the Sea Foam Green colourway.  Linen's their thing, and boy do they do it well..!! There were a fair few cushions on their stand that could find their happy place in my home that's for sure.

And d'ya know what? I didn't realise they are a 'local to me' company based just a few miles away in Clophill, Bedfordshire. Happy coincidence. We're practically neighbours....

I was also struck by some lovely handmade jewellery from Ria at Fen & Co. Nature inspired, incredibly unique pieces, with a vintage vibe.

Damson Tree Pottery

I made a little last minute purchase from the lovely smiley lady in the pic up there. That's Marieanne from Damson Tree Pottery. Her ceramics are wonderfully colourful, and many feature imprints of flora which make them very tactile. The bespoke tiles she creates are amazing. Such love and attention to detail goes into each one. 

I bought one of her Water Lily Pad necklaces. It's in the shape of a lily pad, fired in a spring green glaze with a cutesy daisy sitting proud on the surface. I've had some very nice comments whilst wearing it. Very happy with my purchase I have to say....

There were too many rails of gorgeous garments to count at the fair. In every hue, all floaty and feminine. Although a makeshift dressing area, behind a curtain at the back of a packed stand isn't always the ideal place to be trying things on. Not for me anyway. Still, it's the best that could be done given the layout of the exhibition. 

There were many stands that I didn't get snaps of, but were impressed with, so I thought I'd link to some of my favourites here if you'd like to have a nose.....

Off to The Handmade Fair at Ragley Hall tomorrow. 
Back soon with more tales, till then....x x x

*this is NOT a sponsored post

Thursday, 27 April 2017

JAYG (join as you go) Tutorial - Happy Flower Block

Hello my lovelies, nearly the end of another month. Just wanted to pop in today to upload this tutorial on how to join the Happy Flower Block in a JAYG (join as you go) fashion. Many people have messaged me, so I thought I'd spend a bit of time putting together something to help you visualise this method.

There are many JAYG tutorials out there, and to be honest as a self taught crocheter I've tended to (through trial and error) make up my own solutions to problems along the way. So this version is my version, and works just as well as any other. I've found it very easy to do, and I hope you do to!

That's what I love about crochet, although there are definitely tried and tested ways of doing things, it's very individual. If you find a method of doing something that works for you, then don't question it. Just because certain publications/magazines, bloggers, vloggers show you the way it could be done, doesn't mean it's the way it should be done. 

Don't doubt your ability to be creative, and find your own solutions. Yes, the principles of crochet are firmly grounded, but once you've mastered the basic stitches, the possibilities are infinite. Just experiment and you never know where it'll take you. The main thing is to have fun with it, and enjoy the process.

My original pattern I worked a double crochet seam to join my squares, but this JAYG method is far simpler and to my mind just as effective. Especially if you're new to crochet. I hope the pictures and instructions make it easy to follow. 

If you're starting this project from scratch then just start off by crocheting your first Happy Flower Block (pattern here). All seven rounds. Then the next block you do will only be to round six, round seven will now be your joining round (detailed below). 

So did you try it???
Please do say hello......I love hearing from you 
x x x x

Saturday, 1 April 2017

WI Fair : Ideal Home Show 2017

Before I jump straight into this update, I just wanted to extend my gratitude to each and every person who thought to leave a message of condolence for me and my family. We said a final goodbye to Mum on March 7th and it was everything and more than we'd hoped for. 

I just about managed to hold it together to read out my own tribute to the congregation. I did it my way, and I know Mum would have been listening and wiping away my tears. It was a celebration; a joyous reunion of family and friends. 

We laughed, we cried, we made a vow to make the best of every day. As hard as it is with a gaping hole that will never be filled. It will never be ok, but I will endeavour to make Mum proud and push through the pain. I miss her.

_ ____________________________________ _

This past Thursday was the hottest day of the year so far in my little corner of the UK. Bonus as I was heading into London to enjoy a day perusing not just one but two fab exhibitions. First stop was the WI (Women's Institute) Fair at Alexandra Palace, followed by The Ideal Home Show at Olympia.

Some people may think I'm mad driving into the City but I prefer to take my trusty little motor as opposed to using public transport. Mind you I did contemplate it for a mere second. However when I realised it would take at the very least an hour and a bit to travel between venues, (via foot, bus and tube) I thought better of it. Add to that the time to travel from my home in Bedford to London by train it would have been a nightmare. 

I was taking a calculated risk, hoping beyond hope that I wouldn't get stuck in traffic. But I thought better to be stuck in my comfy car, than stuck sniffing someones smelly armpit on the tube. Sorry TMI.  So with that being said, I decided to take the risk, I popped some light refreshments for my journey in my little cool bag and got on the road.

Luckily for me the risk paid off and I reached my first destination in good time, no holdups. The sun was shining, the temperature just about right, albeit a little windy. Free parking too which is a rarity anywhere in London. I must admit when I got into the main exhibition hall I thought 'where do I start?'. 

So much to see, so many stands, so many people. Wow, it was a bit of a sensory overload. Everything from craft, travel & lifestyle to live demos. Workshops too. I had a lovely few hours meandering through the stalls. I had a budget to work with so made sure I hung on to my pennies until I'd seen everything on offer. I made a mental note of each place I wanted to return to. 

One thing I did invest in was a subscription to a new (to me) magazine The Simple Things. I took advantage of the offer they had available on a 12 month subscription, as well as picking up 4 hard copies available to take away from the stand. I'm looking forward to losing myself in them over the next few days.

We couldn't resist purchasing an ice-cream from the gorgeous pastel coloured converted London Cab outside the Ally Pally. We sat and enjoyed the sunshine and the view over the city awhile before heading off to Olympia. 

Again, and I have to say miraculously there were no traffic delays traversing the Capital in the car. I made sure to pre-book parking through NCP at Broadwood Terrace so I didn't have to worry. It was only £2 per hour booked in advance versus £7 per hour on the day. I know rip off right!?!  It was a short walk to Olympia so perfectly situated.

Once inside we were greeted with a plethora of eateries upstairs off the main exhibition space. It was accommodating the Eat&Drink Festival. Something for every palate, but tbh I think hugely overpriced. Nevertheless we were there to enjoy ourselves, not to scrutinise the pricing,  so we opted for a couple of Posh Pooches. A hotdog topped with pulled pork, crispy onions, ketchup and mustard to you and me. Tasted better than it looks...

After filling our tummies we headed around the rest of the food stalls, and were instantly drawn to the Flapjack Stall 'Flapjackery'. Now I have a little confession to make. The previous weekend I'd attended the East of England Food Fayre and this company had a stand there. I bought some of these flapjacks and OMG they are THE BEST FLAPJACKS EVER. 

I know it's OTT but my goodness they are YUMMY. Especially the Salted Caramel Fudge. So when I found out they were going to be at the Ideal Home Show I nearly did a cartwheel. My scales on the other hand have been firmly hidden for the next 6 months whilst I try and fathom how I'm going to work off the calories I've consumed since finding these yummy slices of heaven. I suppose walking several miles around Olympia that day was a start. Let me tell you that place is VAST. 

We tried our best to cover the whole event. Walking from one end to the other, making sure we had a good browse. This made the WI Fair look like a village fete in terms of scale. Anything and everything you could possibly want for your home was there. I had my eye on a luxury hot tub, or hydro pool. Well a girl can dream.....

I'm almost as exhausted writing this post as I was walking around there that day. Give yourself a pat on the back if you're still with me! Anyway, that's a little taster of what I've been up to. Hope you enjoyed the tour......

Some yarn related service will be resumed shortly........

Till then...xx

*this is NOT a sponsored post
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