Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

Just before Christmas I decided I would put some bird feeders up on the trees close to the office I work at as there are so many wild birds round there just to see how many I could spot.  I bought a few feeders from Wilkinsons and a supply of food and the bird buffet was soon up and running! And it’s been GREAT!!  I’ve always enjoyed watching birds feeding and I can remember doing just that with my Grandad when I was little.

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen increasing numbers of birds feeding, including a Pied Woodpecker!  I’ve never seen one of them before and had to quickly google the species to make sure my bird spotting skills were still ok.  I was right and discovered it was a female just like the photo below.


In addition to ‘Woody’ I’ve also seen Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long Tailed Tits, male and female Chaffinches, Sparrows, the resident Robin and a few others he/she had a bit of a scrap with and a few other species I still need to identify.

As I’ve loved watching them so much at the end of last week I decided I’d take my camera to work and take a few photos during my dinner breaks and pop them on here.  Here are a couple of the photos I took today.

Blue Tits eating the fat balls

Blue Tits eating the fat balls

Blue Tits loving the fat balls

You will have to excuse the slight fuzzyness of the photos but while my camera is great at taking photos of my stained glass pieces it’s not too great at distance shots, even with the zoom.

I also have a few ‘thieves’ nicking the bird food, especially the nuts, and today I while I was taking the photos one of them decided to make an appearance!

Grey Squirrel playing peekaboo!

Grey Squirrel playing peekaboo!

Grey Squirrel staring at me!

Grey Squirrel staring at me!

Grey Squirrel raiding the bird feeder

Grey Squirrel raiding the bird feeder

I just love watching the acrobatics the Squirrels get up to to try and raid the bird feeders and I’ve seen them hanging off the bottom of the fat ball holders having a munch on them.  The little wotsits!!

Hopefully I will be able to get some other photos over the coming weeks as I will be taking my camera to work more often.



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Spot The Cat

Spot, the ginger tom cat, happened to come into the world on the 24th May 2007. May 24th is also my birthday and as far as I was concerned it was a ‘sign’ that I was supposed to have him! At least that is what I told my partner Paul when he came in from work to find a new ‘addition’ to the house.


Spot grew up to be a big soppy, loving, chatty cat who managed to twist all of us around his (big) paw and we all loved him dearly. We used to think he was more dog than cat and he used to do dog stuff like follow us round and flop right in the middle of the floor and expect us to walk round him. He was always happy and if he wasn’t purring he was chatting (meowing) all the time. He loved nothing more than flopping on our laps for cuddles and a fuss and boy oh boy could he pack his food away! He used to end up having fairly frequent baths as he had a real thing about hiding under cars and he would frequently come home with big patches of car oil on his fur! He was also a bit of a scrapper and occasionally had nicks and scratches where he’d obviously been fighting but he had never been ill in his life and he was full to the brim and even overflowing with a real zest for life.

One sunday evening in February this year I noticed he wasn’t interested in his food but considering he did this from time to time I wasn’t too worried. The next evening he still wasn’t eating and by this time I was more than a little concerned especially as all he wanted to do was sleep. We very carefully picked him up to see if he had hurt himself and noticed what looked like a bump kind of on his elbow. It looked a bit sore and we thought maybe he had knocked himself while he was out and was bruised and he had been licking it. We hadn’t noticed him limping though and we thought it must be a very recent injury and it had got infected. I managed to get him to eat a few mouthfuls of food and have a drink and I spent most of the night with him on the sofa very carefully cuddling him.

The next morning dawned and I called my boss and advised I would not be able to make it into work that day as I was taking Spot to the vets. I called the vets as soon as they opened and got an early appointment and Spot and I made our way over.


At the vets the initial diagnosis was an infection when the sore bump was and he was taken up for a quick test to see if it was infected. That came back negative and the vets suggested a biopsy to see if he had a tumour where the sore patch was. As this was going to take while I left him in their care at their suggestion and just ambled round for a bit while I waited for the phone call which I was sure was going to tell me he had a bit of an infection and after a course of antibiotics my beautiful Spot would be as right as rain.

A couple of hours later the phone call came, no tumour.. but as he was obviously very ill further tests were needed. The vet suggested testing for feline HIV and Feline leukaemia and at this point I seriously started to panic! I agree to the tests and was advised they would keep Spot in overnight and give him some fluids and medication and they would call me in the morning to advise me of the results.


At about 6-ish I missed a call from the vets as I couldn’t get to my phone fast enough and at that point my heart sank as I knew in my heart of hearts that the news wasn’t good. The vets had said they would call the following day but now they were calling me the same evening. I called back but by then my vet was seeing another patient and the nurse advised she would get the vet to call me back. About 20 minutes later the phone rang… My poor Spot had feline HIV and his body just couldn’t fight what the disease was doing to him. The test had shown all the things like white blood cell count, etc., were through the roof and my poor Spot was dying slowly and in distress and pain. The vet advised the kindest thing I could do was to have my beautiful cat put to sleep as there was nothing else they could do to help him.

Dinner was turned off and we drove straight over there. We went up to where Spot was being kept i nthe isolation ward and as soon as he saw us he meowed and started to purr. We spent a little time alone with him before the vet came back and still purring he quietly slipped away…


Feline HIV is more prevalent amongst tom cats which haven’t been neutered and chances are that is how my Spot contracted the illness. We had no idea at all he had it, he’d never been ill in his life and apart for the odd scrap there had never been anything wrong with him.

Losing Spot in this way has left a massive hole in all our lives and I still miss him and his funny ways terribly. He is still with me in my heart and in my thoughts as there is barely a day goes by when I don’t think about him.

You may be wondering while I’ve suddenly written this post about Spot.


For my birthday this year I was lucky enough to have a new kitten, Loki. Now Loki was thought to be a little girl but it soon became apparent that ‘she’ was in fact a ‘he’ and in some respects he is sooooo much like Spot. He is another quite chatty cat and he is definitely a lover of lots of fuss and cuddles. So while young Loki was at the vets this morning for his inoculations he was also booked in for ‘the snip’ in a few weeks. As we suspect Spot contracted feline HIV during a cat fight, chances are there is a HIV infected cat, or possibly more than one, in the area where we live and so I’m trying to reduce the urge to fight in Loki as much as I can. I really don’t think it is fair to keep a cat shut in for their whole life and so I’m going to do the best I can for young Loki. There isn’t an inoculation for feline HIV and there is no cure and while many cats do live to a ripe old age even though they have the illness unfortunately Spot’s time came way too early.

I found this poem today. I’ll readily admit I’m not a massive fan of poetry but this really touched something in me and I cried as my head filled with memories of Spot.

If it should be…..

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep
Then you must do what must be done
For this last battle can`t be won.

You will be sad, I understand,
Don`t let your grief then stay your hand
For this day, more than all the rest
Your love and friendship stands the test.

We`ve had so many happy years
What is to come can hold no fears.
Would you want me to suffer? So
When the time comes, please let me go.

Take me where my needs they`ll tend
Only stay with me until the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time that you will see
It is a kindness that you do to me
Although my tail it`s last has waved
From pain and suffering I have been saved

Do not grieve it should be you
Who must decide this thing to do.
We`ve been so close, we two these years
Don`t let your heart, hold any tears.


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I just thought I would take a few minutes and give you all a little bit of an insight of my life as a stained glass artist.  When I finished typing this I re-realised quite how much work it takes to create the stained glass pieces I offer for sale.

First up I need glass! LOTS of glass!

Glass Stash

This is a photo of my glass stash last year.  It’s increased since then and remember this is just the glass!  In addition to all this I have all the rolls of wire, the copper foil, the beads, the trimmings and ribbons, all the tools and equipment I need, some which have taken over a part of my kitchen (oops!), to name just a few items…

Plus on top of all that I also have all my jewellery making supplies.. I have a beautiful bead collection now, sterling silver, silver plated, copper and coloured plated wire and findings, plus another full compliment of jewellery making tools, various bits of equipment..

Oh and my ever increasing book collection!

My work space is getting a little crowded now!

Most of my stained glass creations start out as a flat piece of coloured glass before I set to it with my trusty Sharpie marker pens, black for light coloured glass and the silver ones for the darker colour glass as it shows up so much better! I draw my designs on the glass and then move onto the next stage, cutting and breaking the glass.

amber gold stained glass

A sheet of my amber gold stained glass

A steady hand is essential for this part but if I have a bit of a ‘oops’ moment I have my glass grinder to hand to smooth any parts which aren’t quite right.  All of my stained glass stars make a trip to the glass grinder to be smoothed to perfection as I really can’t have stained glass stars with nasty edges as they wouldn’t look right.

The next stage is to apply the copper foil to the stained glass shapes and then this has to be ‘burnished’ which basically means it gets ‘squished’ onto the glass so it sticks properly and is nice and smooth.  Next up flux is applied to all the copper foiled edges as this makes the solder stick to the copper.

Then things get HOT HOT HOT!  Time to ‘tin’ the copper foiled edges.  Tinning is when I apply a thin layer of solder to the front, back and sides of the foiled glass piece. (NOTE TO SELF – if the soldering iron slips it is NOT a good idea to try and grab it!  Nasty burns can ensure as a result of this!).  Next up the pieces of tinned glass are put into their final positions and soldered together to create the design I have in mind.  I’m a bit picky about soldering and love to see a beautifully smooth piece of solder work.  My birthstone pieces have all their wire decorations added here so I can join the pieces with my beaded links later on.  Once this is done and the piece has cooled down we move onto the next stage.


A trip to the kitchen is next (normally via the kettle!) and all the pieces of glass work are washed in warm water with a splash of Fairy Liquid to remove any traces of flux.  I also wipe all my solder lines over with some fine wire wool to remove any ‘spotting’ or marks caused when the flux and solder mix.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE my solderwork to look all shiny and polished when a piece is finished and so a few minutes with the wire wool sorts that out for me.  If I am applying a coloured patina to my glasswork, as you can see on some of my terrariums and Air Plant Holders, the piece is dried before I ‘paint’ on the patina and the piece is washed again carefully.

white rose suncatcher stained glass

A black patina applied to a white stained glass Rennie Mackintosh style rose suncatcher.

The next stage is polishing the piece and for that it is back into the living room and a damp foam sponge is used to apply a stained glass polish and cleaner.  This is then wiped off and the piece is polished with a soft cloth (read soft tea towels from Wilkisons purchased just for glass polishing!)

The next stage (yes there is more!) is for me to add any ‘extras’ to the piece.  As you can see by browsing my shop many of my pieces are hung from silver plated chains or ribbons, these are added at this stage.  Some of my other pieces, especially my birthstone pieces, are joined with beaded links.  I make all of these by hand and I will occasionally spend an evening in front of the TV with my beads, wire and tools making little beaded links and the little wire loops to add to my stained glasswork so I have a bit of a stash tucked away.

sapphire september birthday birthstone suncatcher

The beaded wire links on a Sapphire birthstone suncatcher. In this case the links are genuine sapphire and crystal beads.

Now do you think I’m finished?  Not yet!

The last stage is getting them from my work space to the ‘internet’.  I take a series of photographs of all my pieces, select the best ones, crop them and make them ‘pretty’ before creating a listing on my website for the world to see.

Then and only then can I relax.. Or in my case get on with the next idea I have in mind 🙂


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Not many of you will know that we have two cats, Meep and Spot. Now Spot, our big fat hairy ginger Tom cat is a right big softy, loving cuddles and affection and always ‘talking’ to us about everything. Meep on the other hand is one of those cats who knows she is a superior being and that her species were once worshipped as gods. She is a snob and her life is on her terms. She’s always been a bit of a nightmare as far as catching birds and small animals is concerned and we (unfortunately) regularly find little corpses on the front and back door steps.

As it’s quite muggy tonight we have had the back door open all evening to let some fresh air in and Meep came in as normal. She went under the dining room table, and into her cat hidey thing (you know the sort, a wooden box covered in furry stuff). Again nothing appeared out of the ordinary until there was an odd noise and she shot under the coffee table. At that point I kind of figured that something was up and made a grab for her.

The next thing I knew a small bird was making a dive to safety under one of my supplies cupboards with Meep in hot pursuit. Meep was soon grabbed and chucked back out into the garden and that left me with a bird in the house! Thankfully my cupboards have wheels and after having a peek down the back with a mobile phone light which showed me where the bird was, I was able to move the right cupboard. Grabbing a soft tea towel I tried to lay it over the bird so I could catch it to see how it was. The bird had other ideas (hardly surprising after being in my cats mouth!) and decided to make a bid for freedom.. Straight into ‘that’ corner.. You know the one, the one at the end of the sofa where your other half has to stash stuff he really doesn’t know what to do with.. So out comes the mobile phone torch again and after digging through all his ‘treasured possessions’ the bird which turns out to be a young sparrow is located. Several attempts at catching it later it makes a dive for one of the sections in our box cabinet and is finally trapped with the aid of one of my fish keeping nets.

A very quick examination later it appears that it it is unhurt, I know it can fly and so me and the young bird take a wander out into our cul- de-sac to find a safe release spot. And off he or she goes after I let it out of the net in a neighbours shrubby garden.

Now I know that cats will catch birds and animals, it’s in their nature and I don’t go all daft because my female cat does it (Spot is too fat, lazy and like Garfield to bother with things like that) but it sure does make a change for me to be able to let one go free after Meep has had a go at it.

Good luck little bird and watch out for that black cat creeping up on you in future 🙂

Cat – 0, Bird – 1!

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I’ve finished making a custom order tonight for a lovely couple for their Wedding Anniversary and obviously wanted to show them a photo or two prior to me putting it in the post to them.

This was the result!

My signature Stars & Swirls Suncatcher in a burgundy and cream stained glass

A Close Up Of The Suncatcher

In my room light the photos look absolutely dire 😦 and I really need some sunlight to be able to show how lovely it is in real life.  I’m sure I heard on the TV a few weeks back that the Gulf Stream or Jet Stream (I wasn’t really paying much attention) is out of kilter and is running south of where is should be and that’s why the UK is having a really soggy summer this year.  Ok, so we often have soggy summers but this one is particularly dreadful with so many people being flooded out of their homes and business affected by the rain 😦

I’m going to have to find a way of taking decent photos of glass indoors, especially as we are now on the wrong side of the longest day and on the slide back into winter. I’ll have to do some research and see what I can come up with 🙂 although sorting out the Atlantic currents may be a little beyond me.

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Ok, so I’ve been really naughty the last few months and I’ve seriously neglected my blog 😦 but all that is about to change. I’ve got lots of new ideas and awful lot of things to tell you about but one thing at a time.

Summer, yep, summer! It’s on the way, I can feel it in my bones. Well, actually the finger tips which don’t get frozen every day on the way into work now. The sound of the bees buzzing and the birds twittering has cheered me up no end and I’ve got ideas galore buzzing round in my head.

Here is a bit of a taster.

Now, back to work 🙂

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Ok, so I’m on holiday from my day job for the week :-), my children are off to their dad’s for this week which leaves just me and my OH (and the pets!) here for some R&R.  My OH is planning on doing some work on a bike and I have a few plans of my own.  Here is my to-do-list for the week 🙂

  1. Cut a whole load of glass for some Star designs I have in mind.  I’ve already drawn out the templates for a load of it but have a lot more to do.
  2. Make some more of my Mini Christmas Trees as they are proving popular and I’m almost out of them.
  3. Design and make quite a few more additions for my jewellery range.  Again I’ve got a load of glass cut already and another 4 pieces ready to be put together on my desk.
  4. Make more of the Christmas decorations I already have listed.
  5. Finish my brand new website ready for its launch on the 1st November.
  6. Make the other Christmas designs I’ve come up with.
  7. Make the Birthstone Suncatchers for the months I’m missing at present so I have gift ideas for each month of the year.
  8. Carry on promoting on Facebook, Twitter and all the other promotional tools I use.
  9. List all the new items in my Folksy shop as I make them, as well as on my new website.
  10. Take new photos of some of my items when my new light box arrives 🙂
  11. Find time to relax and chill somewhere along the line 🙂

This is just the things I can think of off the top of my head right now, no doubt I’ve forgotten a few and I’ll add them as the week goes by.  I’ll also update through the week as to how I get on 🙂

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