About Me

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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 handmade. 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 CosyKitty on Ravelry. Why not stop a while.....?!!

Friday, 15 December 2017

A new beginning - Pádraigín Handmade

Hello friends, as you may have noticed things have been a little bit quiet here at Annie's Place of late. Not because I've intentionally distanced myself from the blog; more that I've not really felt I had much to say. I'm facing my first Christmas without Mum and it's all a bit overwhelming if I'm honest. 

I've had lots of time to think, and mull over my future, and one thing my Mum taught me over the course of her illness is that you have to cease the day and take risks sometimes. I have her melodic Irish brogue ringing loud in my ears 'stop talking about it Sharron, and do it!'

The upshot is we had lots of chats those last few precious months of her life and she made it clear she wanted me to live the best version of myself, and not to allow anything to get in the way of that.  Since she's been gone I've kept to my pledge to take each breath with purpose and to see the positive in every day. 

It's hard of course, as real life throws up all sorts of challenges that can derail that philosophy at any given moment. The difference is now I really appreciate the freedom that has been bestowed upon me since Mum so selflessly left this world. Being an unpaid Carer for someone you love is so dreadfully difficult, and until you're in that situation you really don't understand how isolating it can be.

I would of course give anything to have Mum back, but not for a second with the suffering she endured in the last 9 months of her life. If you're a Carer or have cared for someone then you'll know what I mean. 

I understand I'm beginning to waffle a little, so I'll get to the point of this post. I just wanted to introduce you to something that I've been working on in the background in the hope you will perhaps support me in this new endeavour. I've decided to start crocheting bags to eventually sell online. I'm just in the fledgling stages of this idea, and envision getting things off the ground in earnest in the new year. 

In Mum's memory I have named this new endeavour Pádraigín handmade (pronounced paw-dri-geen). Translated it is my Mother's name Patricia in the Irish language. I thought it would be a fitting tribute to brand my handmade items with her name. What do you think? I do hope you agree it's a nice way to remember her through my creativity.

As a start I've very recently joined Instagram, and hope to have a Facebook Page up and running very soon. All new to me, as Annie's Place has only ever been a blog. I would of course love it if you would join me on Instagram to keep up to date with all my crafty goings on. Just click on the Brand Logo in my side bar to be taken there. 






































If any of you would be interested in owning a bag made by my own fair hand, do let me know by emailing padraigin.handmade@gmail.com.  I also have a few other things in the planning for next year that I'm excited about, but will share that as soon as I have crossed the i's and dotted the t's as it were! Your continued support would be much appreciated as I embark on this new chapter.

In the mean time I would like to wish you all the very best over the festive season. Whether you celebrate or not it's a time to reflect on the year gone by. Personally 2017 has proven to be one of the hardest thus far, but I am optimistic for 2018 and that's what counts.

Love to all
Sharron
x

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Cosy Crochet & Country Living in the City

Hello hello, anybody out there.....?

It's the middle of November! How did that happen? The last 3 months have been a bit of a blur if I'm honest. I've been keeping out of trouble, staying busy & taking any opportunity I can to distract myself from the emptiness I feel since losing Mum. I'm doing well (I think) and have plenty to be thankful for.

It also happens to be my favourite time of year. I welcome Autumn with open arms. Shall we say I've made a conscious effort to have an abundance of Hygge filling my world. Take that Strala pendant lamp from IKEA for example. I bought that on a whim a few weeks ago, and just seeing it hang in my window fills me with joy. 

I'm pleased to report I still have my crochet mojo. I'm currently immersed in a few projects. I have adopted the approach that having a little production line of squares going on in different colours and patterns will keep my interest. Rather than just focusing on one thing.  I'm using a mix of Rowan (discontinued line), Stylecraft and Drops Yarns. The affordability factor influences my purchases at the moment. 

Sunday gone, I took myself into London for the final day of the Country Living Christmas Fair. It was at the BDC (Business Design Centre) in Islington. I really fancied a mooch around, to eye up some potential gifts for Santa to bring me in a few weeks. Not that my family are privy to this of course...

I made sure I had my comfy shoes on this time (after learning my lesson at previous exhibitions attended) as I knew it would be vast. I wasn't wrong. 



There was plenty to tempt me, but sadly it was more window shop than buy on this occasion. You might say what's the point in going all that way if you haven't got a stash of cash to flash? But to be honest, I get just as much enjoyment out of the visuals, being able to see things, and touch things. Finding out about new product lines. Picking up business cards along the way, so I can always go back to the online shop and purchase when funds allow.  I'm all for supporting small businesses. 

I also like that I can 'meet the makers'. I had the opportunity to speak to many of the designers at the show, and it was wonderful to hear their stories. To know the provenance of the items being sold makes them worth so much more. 

One person that stood out for me was the lady you can see pictured (above left) with her wonderful array of handmade textiles; Sian O'Doherty. Her collection really caught my eye, and I have to say I covet her exquisite knitted lampshades.

--------------------------------------------

Do you want a giggle?

If you're easily offended look away now....

Well what can I say? I was in fits at this stall....
and yes I did make a purchase hehehe....


There was just enough time to take a wander along Camden Passage, after the fair had finished. More window shopping ensued. There were some gorgeously scented reed diffusers in that shop HAYGEN. The two shop assistants probably thought I was a bit mad the way I was oohing and aahing over them. 

There are lots of lovely independent retailers along this stretch. Not to mention the aptly named ANNIE'S vintage store on the corner. Oh and of course LOOP. Yarn lovers look away now.......!!

It was such a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I'm heading back into London next week for the Ideal Home Show Christmas with some friends. So no doubt I'll be back to tell you all about it. Until then I'll leave some links to some of the traders from the show that took my eye.....*

Till next time
x x x

Sian O'Doherty             
Aura Que                                     

Sofia Ceramics             


fatpoppycat                   



*this is NOT a sponsored post

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Crochet Bags & Cake Shops





























































































































































































































































I've not been the most conscientious of bloggers lately. Unfortunately I've had another bereavement in the family. My Mother's Sister sadly passed away very suddenly two weeks ago. In the early hours of the 3rd of August she slipped away after suffering a sudden and catastrophic bleed on the brain. As you can imagine this has been very traumatic for all the family, as we only lost Mum 6 months ago. We will be saying a final goodbye to her this time next week.

Over the past several weeks I've been beavering away in the background finishing off another bag project. I've popped a couple of pics at the top of this post to show you the completed item. I'm so happy with it, and the recipient was so excited to receive it. I could picture it before I even hooked that first stitch, and it turned out exactly as I'd hoped.

The weather's been very hit and miss here this Summer. But I've managed to dodge most of the showers and make the best of the bright, warm days. I recently went back to my old stomping ground in London. I used to work five minutes walk from Buckingham Palace, and would often have my lunch in St James' Park out front of the Queen's most famous residence.

I like nothing better than just wandering the streets of the Capital, people watching. Of course there is always a throng of tourists, but I love that. I love that such a diverse mix of people descend on our City every year to enjoy the history, which is evident every corner you turn. Of course I had to take my friends to see the gorgeous Peggy Porschen Parlour in Belgravia. With it's pastel pink facade, adorned with flowers, and a Pashley bicycle propped up out front, it truly is a gem of a place.

There's been lots of development in the area since I lived and worked in that part of London. The developers have really maximised every last square inch of space. Eye watering price tags on even the smallest of properties. There's lots of nice places to eat and drink al fresco though, so a girl can pretend to be a local ;)

Well, that's a little update from me. 
Please say hello if you stop by.....love to hear from you xxxx

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
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