Monday, June 30, 2008

Blackbeard's Revenge

Well, not quite! I've been looking at all the fab Pirate inspired cards and scrap pages with admiration but hadn't had a go myself until last week. But with a birthday card for my 8 year old nephew to make and not the glimmer of an idea what to do I was trawling through the stash looking for inspiration and found this chipboard skull and crossbones which was bought ages ago and had been left lurking in the drawer ever since. I remembered seeing a fantastic Spanish Galleon template for the Craft Robo, so I thought thses things might solve my "boy card" problem. However when I tried to cut the ship in the size I needed it just fell to bits - it was far too detailed for this project, so it was back to the drawing board and I ended up making my own template using a colouring book page as the starting point. Tell you what though - I'm well-pleased with the results, especially as I managed to do it all myself without having to ask Hubby for a reminder on how to separate all the sections so they'd cut in the different colours. woowoo I think I might actually getting the hang of this - now if only I could crack how to make more complicated designs from scratch......most I've managed was a set of traffic lights made from two rectangles and 3 circles The pirate grosgrain stuff down the card has also been sitting in the drawer for ages - I found it along with various other designs in Wilko's - it's actually a sort of strap thing with a lanyard wotsit on the end for hanging a mobile phone/keys/etc from - I think it's to be worn a bit like a Miss World sash iykwim! Anyway I knew it would come in useful one day. :-) The wavy black Bazzill was in a Self Addressed kit a while back, and I doodled a lá Jo around the edge with my new "white pen that works"(yay!)

ohhh I said I was going to start showing my stuff for the May Bubbly Funk Kit, didn't I?
Good timing really because it was the lovely Lythan's birthday yesterday and I decided to send her one of the cards I made for the kit.

The papers were all Dream Street "Birdie Bits" which is such a scrummy set to work with. Caroline added matching Bazzill, velvet paper, chipboard birdies and other bits, some lace paper and all sorts of other bits and bobs to the kit. I love this kit so much that I've got another project which is still a work in progress because I've pretty much used up all my paper and need to buy more. Maybe I should go and do a bit of shopping later....

I'll add some more Birdie Bits tomorrow

Thanks for looking

Friday, June 27, 2008

Season's Greetings

Not only did hubby feel the need to vocalise the fact that this week saw us nearer to next Christmas than last Christmas but Jo (fabby though she is) only went and landed a Christmas card dare on us for this week's Daring Cardmakers challenge.

Now I really don't like to even think about making Christmas cards till the end of September. I do like to start buying the odd thing to put away for Christmas presents, but that's different because it doesn't feel like the dreaded Christmas shopping when you're only buyin the odd item.

Sometime around April or May a CJ arrived asking me to do a couple of pages about Christmas too, so I think the Christmas goblins have it in for me this year!

Anyway. After the shock of reading Jo's dare subsided I decided that it would be fun to go along with my current love of chipboard birdies, branches and circles. Here's my card

I drew the basic birdie shape on "cereal packet chipboard", then used paper from the BG Figgy Pudding 6x6 pad to cover the bird's wing and background paper circle. The red card is just made from a scrap of dark red Bazzill
The branch is from Bubbly Funk and I just inked it up with shade of brown, orange and red inks - the leaves are supposed to look like those last few that hang on all through the winter. I added a bit of glitter for a frosty look
The letters are rubons - they are teeny tiny Doodlebug ones that came in an old Self Addressed kit. Yet again a little bit of unwanted rubon attached itself to the corner of the little card - but I disguised it this time by popping the corner under Robin's beak
It all looked a bit too naked so I put a dotted border around the card

I quite like the idea of this one so it might be one of my card designs for this Christmas. Usually I hate any cards I make ahead of the real Christmas card making season, so I've surprised myself with this one!
A real scary dare Jo - thanks for that, Mate! :-) :-) :-)
I've got a few commissions on the go at the moment. This one is for a 30th Wedding Anniversary. As that's the "Pearl" anniversary I've used a string of pearl beads around the message. I've also used gold heart-shaped brads, heated up and dipped in pearl UTEE. I didn't really want a very in-your-face gold effect on this card so UTEEing the brads worked quite well. I used a really soft gold coloured and slightly glittery card to cut the fancy bits of the Cuttlebug hearts. That beautiful ribbon from Ribbon Oasis (of course....) is cream, but with tiny gold spots.

The gorgeous papers are from Dream Street Papers, this set is the Carrinna Rose collection, which I love for it's soft colours and elegant designs. They do seem to have a paper collection for every possible style and occasion whcih is probably why I've been tempted into acquiring quite a lot of their stuff recently!

Last up for this time is cj entry I've just finished. This one is for a tiny book - I think it's cut with a sizzix die - so I've tried to keep it fairly simple. Hard for me as I do have a tendency to throw a lot of stuff at my LOs! The theme of the book is "My Name" and I've gone along with what others in the group have already done and kept the journalling hidden away on tabs and tags.
Now that the Bubbly Funk June kit, and access to the fabby Bubbly Scrumptious e-mag is already in the sticky mitts of the subscribers, next time I can show the things I made for the May kit. The sneak peeks are here and hereif you want to see them again

Thanks for visiting. hope you'll come by again soon

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Beautiful book

I'm listening to Coldplay's Viva la Vida atm. Actually I've listened to it at least once a day since it landed on my doormat a couple of days after it was released - and if that makes me sound sad, mad or just bonkers, well so be it. I just love this album, I think it's fab - it was worth the long long time we've had to wait for it.

Anyway - on to crafty stuff!

I'm so thrilled with my Bubbly Funk Circle Journal!

It arrived home this week after travelling around the country since the beginning of October last year, and I really couldn't be more chuffed with the results of it's epic journey. All those involved have done a fab job - and considering I was asking an awful lot when I said (with a little bit of aprehension):
"In this Circle Journal I want you to share your favourite crafty stash with me...."
I'm absolutely thrilled that no-one held back - they really did use that stash and the resulting pages are wonderful - maybe we should use our facvourites more often if this is the sort of thing we manage when we do!

So, huge thanks to Rosie, Karen, Ann, Tracey, Di O, Linda, Caroline, and Di W. Not long now till it starts all over again and a new CJ begins it's travels....

Here is my lovely "Stash Attack" - you can click on the photos for a closer look

The cover
The Intro and my own pageThe pages by my talented forum friends
The sign-in pages

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another one that got away

Here's the other card I started making for Friday's Quick Cards dare. The idea was simple enough; a piece of stripey paper and a line of flowers. Most of this one was done in half an hour too. Hand-cutting flowers from a sheet of paper may sound time-consuming, but it's not really. All the papers are BG Romani.
It was when I started faffing around with die-cutting more flowers; some using fake chipboard for extra dimension, and hunting out the right shades of Primas, and felt flowers that it all got out of hand. And then deciding to see what delights might be a good match among all that new ribbon I bought the other week. And deciding that some doodled stitching and writing would be a good idea. And dropping an open inkpad on the edge of the card so that I had to ink edges I hadn't planned to ink....

So time got away from me, and I'm not even very keen on the resulting card just to add insult to injury!
I sent this little chap to Nicky in with some chipboard for the swap on JB forum. Obviously as it's a chipboard swap I had to use some on this little card, didn't I?

Papers are a mixture of Crate's Sweet Branch and Cosmo Cricket's Honey Pie. The eyes and wings of the owl are cut from gorgeous velvet paper. Only when I'd finished did I realise I'd used eyes for the big size owl on the little sized owl's bod!

Never mind, he looks ok I think
Chipboard Owl and the branch he's sitting on are from Bubbly Funk

Thanks for popping by, that's all for this time, but my beautiful CJ arrived home yesterday so I'll take some photos to share on here soon.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Quick cards aren't my forte

First of all, thanks to all who joined in with the dare I set on The Daring Cardmakers blog las week. The cards were all wonderful and full of interesting and inspirational details - which is, after all, what all these challenges are about. This week the DCM have been challenged to make cards quickly. It was Tracie's idea for a dare and it was a really tough one for me. I faff and dither and change my mind about papers/embellishment/layout all the time - which is probably why I have that stack of half-made cards I spoke about on my blog a few months back! At the third attempt I managed to rein myself in and step away from the desk, finally resisting the urge just to add an extra ribbon/brad/button. I thought I'd done really well to make my card in 30 minutes till I heard how quickly some of the others had made their cards.
In my defence, I didn't get everything out first and I didn't plan exactly what I was going to do - all I had in my head was that a chipboard birdie and a circle would be involved. So within my half hour I chose the papers, covered the bird, cut all the bits and pieces and printed the message as well as working out where it was all going to go - I think that's pretty good actually. So there!
The paper is all from Crate's "Sweet Branch" collection. I cut the scalloped circle with the Robo. The branch is from the punch out sheet that comes in the collection pack, as are the rub-ons.
I mucked up the left hand corner when a bit of rub-on that I didn't want decided to attach itself to the card - so I had to add some flowers to cover it....and then I had to balance that by adding a bit of stuff in the top right as well.

Bummer - it would have all been done in 20 mins if I'd not spotted those rub-ons lurking in the bag.
Chipboard bird is from Bubbly Funk
Please pop over to the DCM blog to see the super-speedy cards the other girls have come up with, they are all fab and I'm sure they'll give loads of inspiration for when you need a card in a hurry!
The card below was my first effort. I did actually make it in under 30 minutes but I discounted it because I faffed about with the ribbon trying to work out how to do it, and then the knotted piece took forever to "persuade" through the loop in the button, because I'd pulled the lower ribbon through the holes of the button too tightly to allow me to prod the short piece through. If I'd used this as a dry run and made another to the sam design it would probably have only taken 15 minutes, but that seemed like cheating!
Papers are MM Noteworthy. Flowers are more of my new Primas from Creative Treasures- wow, what a colour match! The flower centre is a cuttlebug die cut from gorgeous spotty velvet paper that came in an old Bubbly Funk kit and is only used in tiny bits like this because its sooooo gorgeous! Ribbon is from Ribbon Oasis - I've got this ribbon in several colour combos and I think it's the most used design, somehow one of the colourways always manages to fit in with my projects - and the design is on both sides so none of that irritation trying to tie it so only the pretty side shows! Jewels, button and shiny eyelet all from stash There's another not-quite-quick-enough card, but I'll save that for another day Thanks for looking
Don't forget to check the post below to see if I tagged you.....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Time to Tag

I've been tagged by Leo and as I've not done a tag in ages and I'm in prevarication mode I'm going to have a go at this one.

The "rules" of the game: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

Ten years ago:
I had the get the photo albums out to remind myself! I'd given up teaching and we were having a great time going away for weekends and holidays without waiting for the school hols. That year we went to Rome, Northumberland, Greece and the IOM - funnily enough that was the last time we went for the TT races till this year! It was our 5th anniversary that year and we had a long weekend in Rye which was wonderful - I remember they brought us breakfast in bed at the hotel we stayed in and we also had a bottle of champagne. It was a busy baby year too - my friend had her 2nd son, our niece Emily was born, and my cousin's little boy Luke put in a rather earlier than expected appearance. Hubby's Best Man got married that year so weused the wedding as an excuse to have ourselves another long weekend away,

Five things in today's 'to do list':
1. Get on with projects for the next Bubbly Funk kit
2. Write a letter - yes, a real one, not an email to put in with friend's birthday card
3. Do insert, bag up and send off a commissioned card to customer
4. Walk along to town to do a bit of shopping
5. Make a card and send off with some chipboard for a forum chipboard swap

Snacks I enjoy:
I know, they're all on the BAD list!

Things I would do if I was a millionaire:
Spend a bit, give a bit away, save a bit.
Buy a little house at the seaside - just a little bolt-hole of a place - or maybe two in different places.....

Places I have lived:
I've lived on the Norths East coast, the North west coast and now I live miles and miles away from the seaside, and much as I love living where I am now, I still yearn for the seaside - which is why I'd love that seaside bolt-hole!

So now I need to tag 5 or 6 more people. Rosie, Sue, Jo, Vanessa, Kaz and Karen - I'd love it if you were to join in with this one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Party Dress, Two Little Birdies and a Whole Lot of Ribbon!

Apart from a load of other things I need to get done, I've suddenly got several commissions for special cards. It's a strange thing that I don't get asked for anything like this for a while, then withine the space of a few weeks there seem to be loads.
So today I've got a couple of these done, one for a wedding and one for a little girl's first birthday.

I used the gorgeous, glittery "For Peeps Sake" papers from Imaginsce, plus some pink glitter card for the name, which I cut on the Craft Robo. Tiny pink buttons filled the top corner in and I knew that little pink butterfly would come in useful one day! I think I might add a tiny bit of glitter to the bodice of the dress as it looks a bit plain, what do you think?
I had something like this in mind when I ordered all that yummy chipboard from Bubbly Funk last week. I didn't realise at that point that it would take two tries to come up with the card. I found a sheet of beautiful KI Memories paper when I was looking for something else - I had a sort of red/black/white/silver theme in mind until then. But even though the paper was gorgeous it just didn't look right when I put all the pieces into place. So I went and had some lunch. As you do. This afternoon I decided to go start again and use a plain white card, and give the birdies a blue circle to sit on instead of the other stuff. I still used the wings, hearts etc that I'd already cut from the first effort. The silver paper the birds are made from is a sort of fibrous stuff stuck onto a folied backgraound - I think it came in one of those packs that look really pretty in the shop then sit in your paper box for evermore. Nice to find something to use it for!
Chipboard birdies plus the branch and leaves are from Caroline, The Chipboard Queen over at Bubbly Funk.
I'm glad to hear that the pics I posted of my fab new chipboard sent some of you scuttling over there to get some chipboard stocks of your very own. hehehe

I wonder if you've got enough ribbon?

Just in case you're not sure, here are some of the new supplies that landed on my doormat last week courtesy of the wonderful Ribbon Oasis.
ahhhh go on, get yourself over there, you know you want to..............

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wheeler Dealer

Today is DCM day and this week it's my turn to set the challenge (insert evil chortles here....)

For my dare I'd like you to make cards with
wheels, not actually made with wheels, you can still use card and paper ;-), so you don't need to go and steal the ones from the car or the kids' bikes and write a message on them!
I'd like you to feature wheels ON your cards, or as part of them. So you could have cars, bikes etc on your card, or maybe you could actually make a card that moves along on some wheels..... or how about a card that has one of those "wheels" inside it (fixed with a brad) and little apertures in the actual card front so that when you move the wheel the message appears in the aperture? (I hope that makes sense)

Anyway, I'm sure you can get your creative cogs moving and come up with loads of inventive and different ways to get a wheel or two into your cards.

I really hope you like the sound of this and will join in with my challenge- I'd love it if you'd have a go.
The Team has come up with some ideas to get you thinking and they are on the DCM Blog as usual, so please pop over and have a little look. If you leave a message to say you've made a card we'll wheel round to your blog to take a look.

Here's my card. It caused me much anguish and cost the earth a few more trees because I kept going wrong when I was making the darned thing - you have no idea just how many ways I found to make a muck up of this - and it looks soooo blinking simple, doesn't it?
The card has a tiny extra fold at the top to make sure it stands up correctly - but I'm not sure it was necessary tbh, I think I just made extra work for myself!
The wheels to move but we don't have a video camera so you'll have to take my word for that.
Not sure who the paper is by, I found it in the box and I think its been there for yonks. Only after I made this card did I remember the gorgeous "For Peeps Sake" papers that would have been perfect for this.......
Other stuff I used: various bits of Bazzill, Cuttlebug dies, scraps of lace, brads, Glossy Accents

I've had a bit of a spree lately - I hadn't ordered any new stash for ages and was feeling parcel-deprived. Thought I'd share some pics of the goodies that have been arriving over the last few days

I've been looking at Tracy's Creative Treasures shop for the last few weeks and trying not to indulge in buying new Primas. The other day I succombed though and bought this lot and boy are they gorgeous, the ones in the tubes are fabric and there are different shades plus spotty ones in each. The ones in the mini paint cans are paper, there are two sizes of flower in each can and such pretty colours - might have to sit on my hands to stop myself going back for more.

I made this card for Nickynoo's cardlift challenge on the JB forum using some the aqua flowers. I can't say I'm thrilled with the card but I was desperate to use those flowers and needed a good excuse!

Naughty Caroline of Bubbly Funk has been tempting me with some delicious new chipboard. The shop specialises in chipboard - though there are plenty of other goodies to indulge yourself with in there too!
Just after I'd taken delivery of this little lot Caroline announces that she's added even more new stuff to the shop (I will not buy, I will not buy, I will not buy....yet, anyway). She's sourcing wonderful chopboard bits and bobs from all over the place - that lot above is from Canada and Australia so if you like using the chunky stuff then Bubbly Funk is where to head for all the newest items you can get here in the UK

Finally - because I'm saving the pics of all the new ribbon till another day - one more card for the cardlift challenge. I like this one better. papers are *Near & Dear* from the wonderful Dream Street papers - ohhhh I do like DSP, they have such fantastic ranges to choose from,All for now, thanks for visiting - please don't go without saying "hello"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tweak that Template!

These are two more cards made with the new Crafty Templates Set and Goodies Kir.

I really like the way you can used Leo's templates in different ways. Leo's plan for this one was to have the main embellishment on the right and there were a couple of litttle journalling pieces that could be added to the smaller section on the left. I decided that it would be fun to put the little vase on the left side instead and make the flowers stand proud of the card on twirled wire stems to give a bit of movement interest. I made a longer message piece on the pc to fill the right hand section. I adhered a strip of the turquoise card along the inside lower edge of the card so that when it's lying flat it just peeps through the gaps in the scalloped edge of the card
The card, paper, flowers, buttons etc all came from the Goodies kit, the only addition was the wire.

I change this template a bit too and made a card blank that was small enough that even with the Whirly Windmill standing above the card fold would still fit in a regular C6 envelope. I freehand cut a scalloped edge to the rectangle of "writing" paper from the kit and edged it with a couple of shades of brown ink. The paper I made the windmill from is two-sided and so beautiful that I really didn't want to cut into it, but it was perfect for making the windmill as you get to see both gorgeous pattenrs at the same time! You can't really tell from this photo but the "stick" for the windmill is cut from some stunning milk chocolate coloured GLITTERY card - all these are in the Goodie Kit. The pattern for the little tags are on the template - with hindsight I should have thought of a better way to do the sentiments as my writing is rubbisg - but then the whole idea behind this set of templates is to make cards just to send a personal "non-occasion" message, so maube that makes using a bit of my scrappy handwriting on there excusable.........
The little flowers are cut with the Cuttlebug from more Kit contents.

The new "Colourins" have also arrived at Crafty Templates and you can see them here. I must admit I'm very tempted and I can't colour-in for toffee!

Right. I've now got to go and make something new or I'll have nothing to share on here, will I?
At least I got my DCM card done for tomorrow - it's my turn to set the dare and I think I've come up with a stonker. Well it gave me a few panic attacks anyway. Surely that can't be right, making your own dare so hard that you lose sleep over it? hehehe

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Crafty Template Time Again

Leo's latest set of Crafty Templates is aimed at amking and sending cards just because you can! So they're not themed for a particular occasion this time, though of course they're easily adaptable for birthdays etc. There's also a lovely Goodies Kit which has a "ephemera" feel to it with an eclectic mix of embellishments such as lace, thread, buttons, ribbons & buckles as well as some little die cuts in paper, card and acetate. Oh and of course there's a great selection of papers and card to go with them. You can order the Template Set and the Goodies Kit from here

I used the Dress Form template to make this card.
The papers, vellum, trims, ribbon etc all came from
the kit, with the exception of the "tape measure" ribbon.
I used some silver card behind one of the "vintage" frames included in the kit to make the mirror.
That brown scalloped edging is a lovely velvety ribbon stuff

The sewing machine, scissors and thread aren't in the kit - they're mine hehe.

I'll put another couple of Crafty Template cards on here tomorrow.
Got to make them last!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Lemon and Lime from Ribbon Oasis

It's warming up nicely outside, looks like being two hot ones on the trot woohoo.
We spent most of yesterday in the garden, I was weeding, pruning and shredding and hubby was hedge-trimming and planting tomatoes - exciting eh?
I think he got a bit carried away with seed planting as our garden is beginning to look like a tomato farm (should such things exist). Looks like I'll be making lots of tomato sauce and soup later in the year then.
There also seems to be rather a lot of courgette plants at the other end of the garden. Well, it is our first vegetable planting year so lessons will be learned......

On Saturday we went to see the latest Indiana Jones film. It was OK, not great, not bad - just OK. At least there wasn't much blood and gore - I hate films where I end up with my eyes shut and my fingers in my ears. OK so I'm a wimp.
I do end up with my eyes shut and my fingers in my ears quite often actually. Years ago we had a long weekend in York and hubby wanted to go to the York Dungeon - he wouldn't go if I didn't, so I went, I really am a great big wuss - they should offer reduced rates for people who need to be led around by the hand because of the eyes shut, ears blocked thing - surely I can't be the only one?

Checked with Bea that it's ok to share some things made for Ribbon Oasis recently. Bea sent a lovely assortment of ribbons and trims in zingy lemon and lime shades. I thought they'd look good not just for summery projects but also would be perfect to make a little scrap page with a photo I took last Autumn just as the leaves were turning - it also encouraged me to do another page in my 2007 mini album - which in truth, hasn't got very far since last March! ooops!Card is Bazzill, the little trees are cut from some BG that came in a Self Addressed kit months ago. All the ribbon, and that gorgeous felt flower trim stuff is obviously from Ribbon Oasis and just look how many of my stash of brads I used!This is a little box made with chipboard squares all fastened together with pieces of ribbon. I used a yellow acrylic Paint Dabber to paint the squares, then BG Colour Me Silly papers to decorate them. The rosette on the top is made by running a line of gathering stitches along a length of ribbon, pulling it up to form a rosette then adding a button centre. If you use a wired ribbon you don't even need to do any sewing at all because you can take out the wire from one edge of the ribbon, then gently gather up the ribbon along the wire on the other edge and twist the ends of the wire together to form the rosette.
Also used: Angel Kisses yellow blooms, Cuttlebug scallop flower die
Lastly is this mini notebook. The various ribbons, felt trim and sequin trim were all in my RO kit, the papers are Cosmo Cricket. I used my Bind it All to make the book. Rubbish photo, sorry about that.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Perfect Quote

I often spend far too long on my favourite internet quote sites searching out the perfect quotation to put on a card. I've wasted so much time hunting for one I remember reading and now can't remember where that I've started copying my favourites into Word docs. Maybe one day I'll print them out and use them to make some sort of source book for myself.
Anyway, this week Jane set the challenge for the Daring Cardmakers and asked us all to use a quotation on our cards.
Stamped, Computer Generated or Rub Ons; it doesn't matter and you
can choose your own style or occasion.
With being away, and having a load of catching up stuff to do I didn't get my card started till well after 10am and it was only finished, ooooh about half an hour ago - so not a case of "Last Minute Minnie" this time - more a case of "Well After the Last Minute Minnie".
As I said, I do tend to get bogged down looking for inspiring quoations, so when I remembered the little Quote Bubbles paper in my Bubbly Funk May kit designer box I was quite chuffed.
Must admit it's a bit of a rush job, and I should probably have taken a bit more time over this, but I wanted to get it done and up on the blog. I missed last week's dare and I'm never happy when I do that, so I wanted to get a card made for Jane's dare even if it was a bit late.
Papers are the fabby Dream Street "Birdie Bits" which I love so much that I've almost used them all up. The pinky-red hearts are cut from some of that gorgeous velvet paper that was in the kit and I've only cut tiny bits from because it's too lush to use!
I hand cut the little flowers from scraps of the papers, I love the way this set of papers lends itself so well to handcutting some nicely random flowers and hearts etc
Lots of inking, gel pen scribbles and a little bit of glitter glue for some extra glitz
We've said a fond farewell and a big Thank You to May's Guest Designer Vanessa this week, and Hello and Welcome to the fabulous Jozza who is joining us for the whole of this month - so even if you're bored with the rest of us, pop along to the blog and see what Jozza has come up with, and of course check out her other wonderful stuff on her blog

The sun has gone in now (hope it comes back soon) but I thought I'd share a couple of photos I took this morning when it was being all sunshiney out in the garden
And here's how our veg patch is looking this morning

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Vroom Vroom

(A while ago I read a book written by the wife of a British Diplomat, all about her life as a "Trailing Spouse" which is apparently the phrase used to describe the Other Halfs (or should that be Halves) of those who travel to far-flung places with the Diplomatic Service.
So, this is my account of being a TT Trailing Spouse on our trip to the IOM to see a bit of the Motorbike road racing which is going on now over on the island.)

We've been over to the Isle of Man for a few days, visiting the Outlaws and watching a bit of the TT Racing.

Usually when we go there the weather is really grotty and I don't think I've ever been over and had 2 consecutive sunshiney days but just for once this aactually happened and we actually only had one day of the grotty kind of weather!

I've only ever been there once before during TT and it was quite unnerving, soooooo many motorbikes - there must be thousands of bikers descending on the island during the two weeks of practise and racing. I'm sure some of them never see so much as a glimpse of the actual racing though. This time I was more ready for bikes whizzing by seemingly out of nowhere and didn't jump out of my skin quite so often!
On Friday there was only a practise session in the evening so we spent the day with MIL and went for a walk along the coast to this fort (I'll have to add the place name once I've asked hubby where it was though.....), we had a pub lunch then strolled along the harbour at Port St Mary (pic2), which is one of the places I like best over there, then on to Port Erin which is busier and more trad holiday place - those people who know how much I moan about the cold on the IOM will be amazed when I say that it was so hot that there were people on the beach and even paddling in the sea! Lots of bikers were catching up on their sleep along the prom (too much time spent in Bushy's the night before I expect). We sat on the prom in the sunshine and ate huge icecreams.
Only problem is, MILs house is so cold all the time that I'd put long sleeves on thinking it was just bright but chilly - so I was roasted!

In the evening Hubby and I went on a whistle stop tour of some of the TT course to watch the practise session.
First up we went to Bray Hill because he thinks thats the best place to get the full impact of the speed the bikes go at. I played a game of "try to get a bike in the photo not just the road" it wasn't easy - thank goodness of digital cameras and the delete button! I was quite pleased with this one though as it gives a pretty good idea of how quickly they go by (and this is just the practise)
From Bray Hill we went to Quarterbridge for a few minutes which is a really tight bend, but I didn't have a big enough lens to get any decent photos the one above was just taken with my regular one as the bikes are quite close there. Last stop was "Signpost" which isn't far from where MIL lives and on another bend, but a much better view - we saw the end of the regular bikes practise session and a bit of the sidecars. What in the world possesses people to hang for dear life onto the back of a glorified teatray beats me! The TT course goes through villages, town, countryside, wooded areas and across the mountain so theres quite a variety of places to watch in and all sorts of different obstacles - and all at speeds getting on for 130mph!

Saturday was the first day of Racing proper so if you want to be "inside" the course you have to get there before the roads shut. Even though the actual racing didn't start till about noon we had to make an early start and take a roundabout route along roads I've never seen before - the mountain road we'd normally take to get there shuts earlier than the rest of the course route -to get to hubby's chosen spot for the day. We were going to The Bungalow, which is about halfway down the mountain. We parked a LONG way down the hill - obviously a lot of people had set off much earlier than we had, and we had soooo much to carry, coolbox, cameras, flasks, rugs, jumpers, waterproofs, fleeces etc - well you have to cater for all kinds of weather when you go anywhere on the IOM, eventually we got to the mountain road, went over the footbridge and found a good spot to set up camp. Funny though - it seemed even further on the way back and that was downhill.
Hubby set me up with one of the bigger lenses for my camera this time and I like this photo with a fast bike and a slow train on it, even though the motorbike is still just a dot on the road! The train usually goes all the way up to the top of the mountain, but obviously on race days it can't go across the road so they have one train on the other side of the road just doing the top bit and the other trains go up and down from Laxey and stop before the road depositing lots of race-watchers. Theres a footbridge here so you can get to the other train and go up to the top of the mountain even on race days. The road bends round to the left after the bit in this picture and we had a good vantage point on a little hillock - always good when you're only short and want to see over the heads of those standing at the fence!
Here are a few photos from the first race day - between us we took hundreds but don't panic I've no intention of spending the rest of my life posting them all!
Some are mine and some hubby's - obviously the better ones are his, but I took loads because, well, it's something to do while sitting on a mountainside in the blazing sunshine while bikes whizz by. All the photos can be clicked on should you want a better look.

Actually what I should have done is taken a few shots of the bare backs of those idiot blokes nearby who sat all day without putting any suncream on, steadily going redder and redder and redder - there was quite a cool breeze all day, very very deceptive - boy did they look sore by the end of the afternoon!

One rider missed the bend completely and missed the crash barrier too - how he missed hitting the stone hut you can see in the photos I don't know. One stupid film ameraman nearly got knocked flying as he was filming from a really dangerous place (he stayed behind the safety barriers after that), the biker was OK but he did fly through the air and bounce across the ground a bit - lucky really that he didn't crash into that hut. He did have to be airlifted off the mountain by helicopter though.

I might do more IOM stuff tomorrow if I'm not too bored by looking for pics of bikes to put on here by then!