About

Name:VintagePretty
Location:United Kingdom

An avid tea-drinker who likes nutmeg in her coffee and warm lavender-scented quilts. She knits, crochets and partakes in random acts of craftiness (and kindness). She likes obscure works of literature, philosophy and the idea that her mind exists separately from her body. She enjoys moving furniture around, literary criticism and baking bread. She writes haiku about nettles, would like to swim with seals and become completely self-sufficient. She writes as if her life depends on it, listens to beautiful music, and loves her darling husband Mr. VP.

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Saturday 22 April 2017

Ducks and geese in the spring sun

A couple of weeks ago, we visited Washington Wetland Centre, just between Newcastle and Durham. We’ve been saying we’ll visit for years but, much like Beamish, we never quite got round to going – until that glorious spring Sunday. It was a glorious day, almost 20C, with nary a cloud to be seen. So we grabbed the essentials, including a snazzy sun hat for BabyVP and off we went. We drove down the A1 for a while, then came off at the right junction and continued driving for a while around dual carriageways that seem to link industrial estates. Despite occasionally seeing signs to the centre, it seemed so improbably placed. And it is: suddenly, in the middle of an industrial estate, you are directed down a tiny, bumpy track and then taa-daa, you’re in the middle of the wetland centre car park! It’s totally camouflaged, much like the wildlife it holds.

I’ll say now that it’s no Slimbridge (which is enormous large and modern) but what this lacks in size, it makes up for in sheer density of things to see. There are plenty of enclosures to view ducks and geese (and food to feed them is available) as well as lots of different settings for birds that need particular environments. It was lovely for Baby VP to see, as she loves ducks/wildfowl.  Our favourites were the trumpeter swans (the last picture), the mandarin ducks and the eider ducks. While they are our ‘native’ duck up in these parts (we see them very often at the beach), seeing them puff their chests out and make their Kenneth Williams mating call at such close quarters is magnificent.

There are regular feedings of otters and flamingos (when they’re not fenced off to keep them from the bird ‘flu) as well as tours/ demonstrations going on every hour. For older children there is a Lego bird hunt – and the Lego birds are actually quite impressive, especially the huge kingfisher. There’s also a small but nice play area on the far side. I think when Baby VP is a bit older, she’ll love it there.  It was certainly a nice way to spend a couple of hours and not as painful to reach as we had envisioned. Whilst not the cheapest place to visit, if it’s to become a regular thing then a membership would probably be the way to go. It’s definitely a place we’ll revisit – if for no other reason than to sip lattes while watching the cranes :)

Friday 21 April 2017

Happy Birthday VintagePretty!

Today VintagePretty turns 12. I almost have a teenager on my hands! It’s true. I think about that and feel quite old. I look back at some posts in the same way that some people look through old diaries and I cringe inwardly a bit, but that is life and for better or worse, it is a timeline of someone moving from teenagerhood to adulthood with all the attendant bumps along the way. I think I needed to step back from blogging for a while to get my passion for it back. I don’t make any money from doing it, so it has to be something I enjoy and for a while I was just too busy to blog as well as find my new groove as a mother. But I knew I wanted to come back to it when I had a burst of inspiration and wrote 6 blog posts in a day! Admittedly it doesn’t happen often, but when inspiration strikes I seem always to return to this little niche I’ve carved on the World Wide Web (with 1312 posts!).

Happy 12th Blogiversary VintagePretty!

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Hands and flowers and carrots



Following hot on the heels of my seagull, I spent a couple of hours over the bank holiday weekend playing with smaller, more fiddly stamps. It was lovely having a bit of creative energy again and I could tell I was using bits of my brain that I hadn’t for a while.  I started out with a hand and a supposed-to-be-cherry blossom before moving on to a feather, another hand, an ash leaf and a funky carrot. I’m quite pleased with the results! Plus seven stamps over three days is pretty good going :)

I’m certainly finding it a challenge to master the art of tight corners while cutting the lino (my tools are not high-end, and some need sharpening) so I’ll keep on trying to improve that.  I am also having some difficulties with the ink; it’s the right stuff (water-based high-tack EssDee printing ink) but I think something’s going wrong between the amount of ink, the rolling and the paper it’s being printed onto. I seem to get better results using thinner paper and ink pads (like you’d use for card making) rather than the proper ink. It’s obviously something I’m doing wrong and which will get better with practise!

Sunday 16 April 2017

Adventures in lineoleum

It has been years since I picked up pencil, notebook, blank lino and an eraser and set to work. Years. But it was so good and just as much fun as I remembered it being. I fired up iTunes (how enjoyable is it to just press shuffle and listen away?!) and got to work. This exercise was of course punctuated by the cries of our teething toddler whose molars are just coming through; but after drawing out my picture, I got reacquainted with the smell of lino (it’s delicious and linseedy) and the different lino cutting tool blades. I remembered vaguely that tilting a No. 2 blade to one side will ‘shave’ an area whereas the tip will take a deep, wide u-shaped cut if used with any force.

I love lino printing, I really do. I might not be any good at it, but I love doing it. I think printing and print-making is nothing short of magic. It’s not black and white; while you remove bits and keep others to create an image, even the bits you take away leave lines that can – depending on how much you take or leave – be seen in the resulting print. It has more motion and life than a simple drawing. And everyone can do it; it’s not expensive – you can start carving erasers, or even potatoes :)

By the time I was finished and had done 3 proofs – two pencil rubbings and one ink-pad ‘print’ – it was 12:05am. The latest I’ve been up for a good long time!  I looked down at myself and realised I was covered in bits. I got up first thing this morning and finished tweaking here and there until I was happy with the level of detail.  The result? Well, I think it’s my best to date :)

(Some of the) Music that has been played while printing:

Friday 14 April 2017

The flowers of spring and a ramble

Last week we had the most glorious few days: bright blue skies filled with an even brighter (and warmer!) sun; the wind finally calm and the temperature cool but not cold. We were toying with the idea of visiting a town on Saturday but thought why not enjoy the countryside in this lovely weather? So we hopped into the car and ended up at our local National Trust property. Luckily, we were there early and managed to get in before the crowds, which is always the best time to go (especially as it was the start of the Easter hols and they were doing an Easter egg hunt around the grounds).

The plum blossom is already pretty much over here, but is being replaced by cherry blossom, those big blousy petals calling to everyone and proclaiming the arrival of spring. And the blue skies – they’re always bluer in spring; deep blue, in a way that they’re not at any other time of year.

The lichen growing on the trees is a good sign; it shows how clean the air is, as they are very discerning fellows.

These impatiens are enormous – much bigger than their British-bizzy-lizzy-relatives – as they’re grown in a hot house. I am a big fan of the hot house in winter and spring – I love going inside and escaping into the warmth and humidity for a while. I can imagine the heating bill is pretty hefty though!

I’m not sure what this tree blossom is. I thought it was an amelanchier like ours, but now I’m not so sure. Its blossoms were very understated and elegant.

These are little brunnera that pop up everywhere in the estate. Mum has a clump in her garden and they’re making like Triffids, but they are very pretty.

We stopped to feed the geese and ducks. The lady ducks were so friendly you could stroke them (though we refrained). Feeding the ducks always proves a big hit around here and it’s a cheap way to spend an hour or so, especially when incorporated into a walk.

We’re almost at the end of daffodil season! I can’t believe it. These fancy daffs were still in their prime, though. Aren’t they gorgeous? Totally different to the upright, trumpet daffs I know and love, but no less full of sunshine.

The anemones were just coming out and carpeting the woodland floor. I always think of this wood (and those photos) and this song when I see a carpet of wood anemones.

Their spindly necks hold one perfect, delicate, nodding bloom. Only seen for a couple of weeks a year and always looked-forward to as one of the first signs of spring, coming as they do at the same time as the cuckoo’s first calls (in Lincolnshire at least; we don’t seem to get many cuckoos here).

This is a lesser celandine. It seems that they’re a pretty common plant around these woods but I don’t recall seeing them often down south. It was so, so, so yellow! Bright and warm in such drab surroundings.

In the formal gardens there were the first signs of blossom. Deep blue skies and the first hints of pure white, blousy blooms. It makes me want desperately to get my lino cutting stuff out again but I’m not sure I’ll get round to it. Truth be told I am not terribly artistic but I did very much enjoy doing my lino cutting. It’s been ages since I last had a go (2013!). Maybe one evening…

All sorts of things were in bloom; some I knew, some I didn’t. I love the colours and the textures and the dappled sunlight. The quality (and the quantity) of the light has changed so much in the last month; it is so different to the weaker winter sun.

Is this plum blossom? I’m pretty sure it is. The plums always come before the cherry blossom. Aren’t they beautiful and delicate? Those ice-white petals next to the copper leaves – lovely.

The may leaves are out in abundance at the bottom of our garden too. Soon we’ll see the buds burst into a snow-like cascade.

There’s something different about the way time moves now. I honestly wake up in one month and the next thing I know it is the next and I have to try to scrabble through days to work out where it’s gone. I used to think time flew when working 40+ hours a week, and it did to an extent, but I think that now time moves differently. It is probably to do with having children and the changes it has on the brain – who knows?! But either way I am really aware that time no longer moves in the way it has for so many years and I feel a bit powerless to slow it. The seasons, marking out the passage of time somehow, are something I can grasp hold of to try to make the time slow down a bit.

Ah Spring! I love this time of year very much, and even moreso now that I have a little companion running around enjoying it and finding awe in it as much – if not more – than I do. I hope that you’re enjoying spring wherever you are!

Sunday 9 April 2017

These afternoons of ours

Our routines have changed a good bit since Baby VP made her arrival, but for the last few months we’ve had pretty much the same routine and it’s been really nice. It gives our days some predictability and now that the days are a bit longer, it gives us a good stretch of afternoon to fill. It’s been a bit difficult in winter, with the short days, to do much at all, but now it’s April and the days are long and bright, we have been trying to make the most of the sun and the warmth by going to lots of countryside places.

Sometimes, I even rope my mum in to coming too. We often grab a coffee to drink on the go as we try to keep up with the clockwork legs of my little toddler. Occasionally, I will actually remember to bring my camera and I will manage a few pictures (not often tho!). And oh what flowers I did capture! Camellia blossoms in full, glossy-leafed beauty; what I think is a choisya, whose strong mock-orange smell wafted on the breeze; and giant snowdrops as tall as the fritillaria imperialis they sit next to. Huge. But absolutely gorgeous and so delicate despite their size.

I wonder what Baby VP will remember of these afternoons of ours; I doubt she’ll remember the choisya or the camellia but I hope she will forever remember the carefree afternoons of running under giant trees; or exploring endlessly enormous gardens or the long sandy beaches so big they could go on forever. I know I treasure every afternoon of ours.

Tuesday 4 April 2017

First quarter favourites!

I thought I’d do some monthly favourites blogs, so here are some of my favourite things from the year so far:

  • Waitrose’s ECOlogical fabric conditioner.
  • Pumphreys’ selection of Swiss Water decaf coffees. Find them in the Grainger Market. A North East institution.
  • Urtekram rose shower gel.
  • Cloth sanitary pads*
  • Bonne Maman strawberry jam (on homemade bread)
  • Doves Farm organic wholewheat spelt flour (for making said homemade bread).
  • Hawthorn leaves emerging :)
  • ClassicFM (not a fan of commercial radio in any other setting but the music is worth having to flip stations occasionally!)
  • This YouTube channel, which is just fascinating.
  • My new FitBit Charge 2, a mother’s day surprise from Mr VP and Baby VP. Nothing says ‘get your rear into gear’ like a buzzing wristband!
  • Apple cider vinegar because of its health benefits. I use the Biona variety.
  • Faith In Nature lavender bar soaps. We don’t use liquid soaps any more at Chez VP, and these are some of the nicest bar soaps I’ve come across! Proper, old-fashioned soaps with just the right amount of old-lady-knicker-drawer about them ;-)

*more about these coming!

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