Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Sunglasses cases

It seems a strange time to be making sunglasses cases - but maybe now is the time people will be thinking about preparing for the summer. This style was so popular in previous years that I am already thinking I many not have made enough of them and should cut some more out...

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Revisiting old favourites

I've been remaking some items which had fallen out of stock.  These flower bags always go down well.  I have had fun playing with different colour variations, both in the flowers and in the strips used for the bags themselves.

As you can see, there has been some "remade fabric" in these.  I now collect the "ends" of strips, sew them together to make long strips and join these strips to make new fabric.  It's great to play with.

Monday, 27 March 2017

New publicity materials

Thanks to a very generous donation, I have just ordered a banner for this year's fundraising (and well into the future, I hope!) I took the opportunity to also revamp my cards and logo and to order some flyers for my latest project. What do you think?

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Lovely article - and sales starting soon!

Rachel, from Made in Bedford, has posted a lovely article about my work on the group's Facebook page.  It was a timely reminder to me to get my Facebook page and my blog going again, as I head towards another season of sales.  I'm updating all my promotional materials at the moment (more on that tomorrow) and so my blog and facebook page are getting a facelift.  I'm now off to photograph a range of my creations from the last few months, so look out for those!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

First 20 computers installed in Utange!

These are photos which have been deagerly awaited.  They show the first 20 computers installed and in use in Utange primary school.  This was one of the results of my trip to Kenya over the summer; having met Susan, the lovely computing teacher there, and distributed 10 solar lamps to the school, I asked her what would most help the school.She told me that, with such large classes (between 80 and 120 pupils with one teacher), more computers would be of huge benefit.  The pupils use the computers to study Maths and English at their own level.  They had 20 computers, donated by a group in Mombasa.  She told me that 40 more would enable pupils to work in pairs at a computer, or to work individually while a teacher taught the rest of the class.
I was thrilled by the generosity of the response I received and sent off the money before Christmas.  There was a delay (caused by the computers being held up at the port in MOmbasa) but they have now arrived, and Susan sent me these photos to share with all who donated.

If you would like to donate, you can do so through my JustGiving page here.  I hope to send the money to pay for the remaining 20 computers this year.

Saturday, 8 October 2016


Jacqui Lewis at MK handmade and vintage is partly responsible for this! She sent me a photo of some denim covered furniture, and basically said, "What about it?" So here is my first piece of denim covered furniture - a footstool repurposed from a charity shop purchase.
I am pleased with how it has turned out, and have two more pieces in creating on. Hopefully all will be available for purchase at the MK handmade and vintage fair in Middleton Hall at the start of November.

Monday, 3 October 2016


Well, it is hard to believe I have been back over a month.  I do feel as if my feet haven't touched the ground.  However, in many senses I can see that a huge amount has happened.
A few weeks after my return I spoke at Church about my trip and God's provisions during it.  (You can listen to it here if you wish to). 

 I also announced my hope of collecting enough money to buy 40 reconditioned computers for Utange Primary School.  They currently have 20 donated computers, and the teacher I spoke with told me of the difference it makes for her pupils, who are taught in classes of between 80 and 115, to be able to work at their own level on Maths and English tasks through a computerised learning system.  Each computer will cost about £140, so I know this will be a significant challenge for me.  I explained that I have never asked for money before - only for people to buy items I make if they like them. 

Two weeks later, I have beein given the money for 7 computer already, with funding promised for another ten.  Some people have donated the money for a computer individually. Some groupd of friends have joined together to pay for a computer as a group.  One 8 year old girl at church brought me £10 from her piggy bank after talking about the project with her parents.  A friend discussed what I had been doing over the summer with one of her clients.  The client then said that she had just moved house and had found about £70 lying around at home - and I could have it for the computers.  That friend's employers then matched the donation.  Another friend came to me immediately after the service to say that he had been to the cashpoint that morning and there was exactly £140 in his account which should not, by his accounting, have been there - so he wanted to donate it.  Amazing stories.

If you would like to contribute to this fundraising, here is the link to my Just Giving page.  I - and the children of Utange Primary School - would be very grateful.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Charcoal collection

A number of the ladies who met me at Utange Baptist at my meeting with them requested charcoal. Although my preference was to buy equipment rather than things for sale, I made an exception here. This was for several reasons - one was that charcoal selling is traditionally a business of the poorest women in society, the second reason was that tout was requested by so many. The third reason was that it was a safe investment in that charcoal is used by most families and so there is always a market.
I decided to buy each of th women who asked three bags of charcoal. These bags are very large and traditional are divided into smaller amounts to be resold. I wa told they would cost about 1200ksh each, but in fact the cost was much less when I bought - possibly because I was buying so many - and the final cost was 1050 KSH per bag. My order was for 87 bags, and this was apparently why the charcoal dos not arrive on the Tueasday before I went on safari, as it took so long to bag up. Fortunately Festus was prepared to step in and manage the distribution, in fact, the charcoal apparently did not come till very late on Wednesday  and was not distributed until Thursday. 27 of the 29 women arrived to collect the charcoal; when I went to Casuarina House on Saturday the remaining bags (along with a lot of loose charcoal) were still there. Paul kindly took these photos for me of the distribution.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Travelling home

The journey home started at 7 pm on Saturday as we waited for our taxi, precook end and paid for through Severin. In true African apfashion it did not arrive and I had to ask Reception to check up, even though we had confirmed the time on the previous day!  However, I was not too concerned as we were not leaving Mombasa airport till 10.25.
The journey gave us a final view of African driving! The first part of the journey was extremely busy, with locals leaving thePirates beach  area in their droves. What is normally a single carriageway of traffic became, in places, five lanes of traffic as matatus, tuktuks, lorises, bodabodas, taxis, school buses and a few private cars jostling for position, undertaking and overtaking. Once we passed this, however, the roads were much emptier and driving less frantic. We arrived in good time and got straight through to the waiting area.
Here, we were very glad we had shared a plate of Severin's fabulous chips before leaving, as the safe seemed to have little other than chocolate and drinks. The sweet chop yielded us a bag of crisps, another of nuts and bottles of water and these lasted us till boarding time.
Arriving at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta airport at 11.25, we negotiated our way to the international terminal - where everything was closed and there were no seats. Our flight was scheduled for 5am and we were told the desks would open at 2am, so we settled down on our cases to wait. While we could possibly have found a food outlet open in another part of the airport, we would have had to go through the security at the entry to this part of the terminal again, and we decided not to. fortunately the checkin desks opened early. However, on reaching the desk I was told I could not take my elephant picture as hand luggage, so had to take it to be shrink wrapped so it could go as baggage luggage. This was very efficiently done - but virtually doubled the price of the paintings!
Inside the departures area there were a few shops open, but tyby this time we were both too tired to be hungry! We did find chairs opposite our scheduled departure gate and sat and read there. Inside the gate, having had to discard our remaining water, we doppfiund there was no way to buy any more. This was frustrating as we (along with other passengers) were by now thirsty.
The plane to Istanbul was late departing, but we had the usual good service from the Turkish Airlines staff. The food was good. The blinds were closed to allow people to sleep - something I did not manage to do at all. I was puzzled that the blinds were closed and lighting low for the entire flight, given that we arrived at Istanbul at 11.20. The late arrival also made the transfer between gates a real rush. Istanbul airport is huge and our gate was at some distance from our arrival venue. We also had  o go through a full security clearance between planes, which took some time. Ours was not quite the last bus transfer to the plane, but the plane was nearly full by the time we got on.
The last leg of the flight went smoothly and I did manage to grab about half an hour of light sleep during it. We were both grateful that this was shorter than the previous leg of the journey. We also made good time, arriving at Heathrow 40 minutes ahead of the scheduled time. It was great to see Will waiting at the arrivals gate for us, and we chatted through a fairly easy journey home. A shower, a walk with Duke (who gave me an ecstatic greeting when I arrived but blotted his copybook by slipping his collar, running off and not coming back when called), a cider and an early night were the priorities, and I slept the clock around!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Last day in Kenya

My last day in Kenya was another busy one, as I tried to tie up as many loose ends as possible.  The first part of the day was mainly taken up with sorting and packing. At 11.40 Ronnie and I headed off to Noah's Ark to say our goodbyes to the ladies there. I told them about the possible outlets, and also spoke quite firmly about the importance of fair and sensible pricing, which I think was taken on board. The ladies gave each of us a kanga, as they had also done for Will, Frances, Phil and Sue. I took lots of photos of the items they had finished to send on to the two possible outlets for their work.

From Noah's Ark Ronnie and I walked to Utange Baptist Church to help with the feeding programme. There were American pastors visiting the feeding, so we shared turns in handing out the cooked meal. The pastors had also brought over an immense number of flip flops to hand out to the children on the feeding programme. The distribution of these was very difficult to manage and there were several points at which I was very concerned that one of the smaller children was in danger of being seriously hurt.

I managed to get a photo of myself with Rose, wearing the dress she made for me with the fabric we bought in Mombasa.

Then it was back o Casuarina House to meet with Christopher and visit the two projects he has been working on for me. These entailed a much longer walk than I had anticipated! First we went to see Sara and Mattias with the water tank and pump I paid for:

Then we went on to Margaret's home to see the chicken shed Christopher has been repairing and improving.

On the way back I met a couple of the women to whom I have given charcoal, which was a bonus.

Finally we headed back to Severin to shower and checkout, and then our long journey home began.