Monday, 29 November 2021

21st Birthday Wishes

Ella was celebrating her 21st birthday! In previous years I have shown her exercising in front of the TV and before that, in her olive green army uniform. This year mum sent me a photo of her daughter with a friend outside Cinderella's fairy tale castle at Disney. They were on their post army trip to the USA and mum thought that basing my card on that particular photo would be a lovely memory for her daughter. I added a big 21 to match the polka dot bow on the Minnie Mouse headband that Ella is wearing.
Tamar was also turning 21 and has recently finished her army service. She is planning a trip to Australia so her mum requested a card showing a Qantas aeroplane taking off. She also wanted a beach view and a picture of Tamar as well. Mum was thrilled with the card when she saw it.
Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs
JENerally Informed

Thursday, 25 November 2021

A Minecrafter and Festigal

Benjo was turning 10. In recent years I have shown him swimming and playing basketball on his birthday cards. This year his mum told me that he is very into Minecraft. She sent me a screenshot of a Minecraft world he has created and asked me if I could somehow include it on his card.
My boys never really got into Minecraft, so I know very little about it. I searched Minecraft tools and learnt that they include axes, pickaxes, shears, shovels, hoes, flint and steel. I decided to show Benjo with a pickaxe in one hand and a fire torch, used to light your way when you are mining underground, in the other. Next to him is a Creeper, the Minecraft monster which resembles a snake in appearance. Instead of slithering or crawling, however, they tend to "bounce" in the air! I added some blocks, the basic units of structure in Minecraft that can be directly placed in the game world, along with a shovel. Finally, I added a big number 10 to mark Benjo's age.
Mum told me that "Benjo LOVED LOVED LOVED his card!!!". She sent me these fabulous photos, telling me that he opened the card so quickly and was so excited that she almost missed photographing it!
Last year I showed Ma'ayan surrounded by balloons and flowers on her birthday card. Now she's into Festigal, the annual Israeli song and dance musical show for children which is held every year at Chanukah time. The show includes performances by well-known Israeli singers and actors. The pop star Noa Kirel, who seems to be a firm favourite of Ma'ayanei's, has appeared a couple of times. I have shown Ma'ayan posing in her orange and black Noa Kirel fancy dress costume. Apparently the photo showing her wearing it is one of Ma'ayan's favourites.  A big number 9 marks her age.
"Amazing as always!" her dad wrote to me.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Booma & Nisi

A customer wrote to tell me that her in-laws 70th and 75th birthdays and their 50th wedding anniversary were all coming up soon. She wanted to give them an extra large card which covered everything and wondered what ideas I had. I suggested a design showing the couple in the centre of the card. On each side would be their ages and in the middle a gold 50 (the 50th wedding anniversary is known as the "golden anniversary"). My customer wanted me to add a few themes to illustrate their various hobbies and interests as well.
My customer's father-in-law is a dentist and likes black pug dogs. Her mother-in-law likes to bake and loves cherries. They both love being on safari and going to the beach.
I showed them holding hands in the centre of the card. There is a beach scene behind them, the sun is shining high in the sky and a small sign above them declares that they are "On Safari". The binoculars represent their safari experience too.
Some tiny cherries, a mixing bowl, eggs and a cupcake illustrate my customer's mother-in-law's taste for cherries and love of baking. A red toothbrush and a tooth and the cute little pug illustrate her father-in-law's work and favourite breed of dog!
My customer told me that her in-laws both loved the card. "Thank you so much!" she wrote to me.
* This post has been shared on The Good. The Random. The Fun.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Harrogate, Hull and London, 2021

Last month I finally managed to get to the UK after 1 year and 8 months (who's counting?). Even though I have lived abroad for almost 27 years, I have still managed to see my parents, and then just my dad, at least two or even three times a year. Corona put a stop to that. Then my niece was getting married and entry to the UK was permitted once again, so it was time to be brave, fill in a lot of forms, pay for several corona tests and get on that plane! I am so glad I did it.  
Our first port of call was Rudding Park on the outskirts of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, where the wedding was due to take place. We were lucky enough to be staying at the Rudding Park Hotel for a few days. This rather luxurious hotel occupies a Georgian manor on 300 acres of parkland. It was a joy to walk around the surrounding parkland and golf course on the morning of the wedding. The wedding itself was beautiful!
The following day we took a trip to Mother Shipton's Cave and Petrifying Well in Knaresborough. The petrifying well, also known as a dropping well, is the oldest tourist attraction to charge a fee in England and has been in operation since 1630! The water of the well is so rich in sulphate and carbonate that artefacts are put in the well to be "petrified". The place is also associated with the legendary soothsayer Mother Shipton. According to legend, she was born in the cave and grew up around Knaresborough. As she grew older, her prophecies became known throughout England. She foretold the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the Great Fire of London.
The town of Knaresborough is perched high on a cliff above the River Nidd. Our visit to the ruins of Knaresborough Castle offered us an amazing view of the river and railway viaduct, above. The castle was first built by a Norman baron around 1100 and was controlled by various people until it was taken by Parliamentarian troops in 1644 during the Civil War and largely destroyed in 1648. Some of the surviving areas of the castle keep wall bear impact scars left by musket balls fired during the Civil War siege.
Then it was time to move on to Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, the place where I grew up and where my dad still lives. I thought I pretty much knew the area but when dad suggested a walk in Paull, a sleepy village south east of Hull, on the north bank of the Humber Estuary, I discovered a place I have never been to before. We enjoyed the coastal wetland and the surrounding grassland and farmland and spotted a few birds as we strolled.
Another gorgeous new find was Tophill Low Nature Reserve, which is located on the site of an active water treatment works, operated by Yorkshire Water. The reserve consists of two artificial reservoirs and features 12 hides spread across a 300 acre site that flanks the River Hull. It comprises a variety of habitats with grassland, marshes, ponds and woods supporting over 160 bird species across the year. It was a delightful place to visit!
There was time for one more outing before leaving for London. We took a walk through the tiny village of Brantingham. The village has significant historic houses, including Brantingham Hall and Brantingham House, which overlook the duck pond in the centre of the village. A cast iron water pump raised up on a brick platform can still be seen on Spout Hill and a sheep wash, or washdyke, which was used regularly until the 1950s to wash sheep prior to shearing, is situated just beyond the church. The church itself is 12th century in origin and restored by the Victorians in the late 19th century. Unusually, it is not situated in the centre of the village but a little way up a wooded dale, affording it one of the most picturesque settings of any church in the Yorkshire Wolds.
As we left Brantingham I stopped to take a look at the war memorial, above, which was erected in 1922 in memory of 14 local men who gave their lives during World War I. The memorial and surrounding wall were constructed from materials reclaimed following the demolition of Hull's Victorian Town Hall. It has been described as "one of the most lovably awful things in the East Riding". I am not sure I disagree.
Then it was on to London to see our family there, though I always make time for a little sightseeing as well. We joined a Beatles "In My Life" tour run by London Walks and led by Richard Porter, holder of the "Beatles Brain of Britain" title. We saw the film locations for "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!", the registry office where two of the Fab Four got married and the house where Paul lived with his glamorous girlfriend, actress Jane Asher. It was in that house that John and Paul wrote "I Want to Hold Your Hand". We ended the tour at the legendary Abbey Road studios and crossing, above.
There was time for just one more thing! We booked a slot at The Museum of Brands in Notting Hill. The museum examines the history of consumer culture from Victorian times to the present day. It features over 12,000 original items including household goods, bottles and cans, packaging, sweets, posters, toys and games, all set out in chronological order in the form of a "Time Tunnel". I thoroughly enjoyed looking at brands from bygone years and seeing names that are still recognisable today. It was great fun to see the toys I used to play with in the 70s and the records I listened to in the 80s. Altogether, a wonderful trip down memory lane!