Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A windy walk along the beach

As the weather slowly starts to become warmer and Spring is on the way, I thought I'd write a post about my walk along the beach last week, as a follow up to the same beach walk in February. It was a lovely bright and sunny day with plenty of blue sky and a stiff breeze. I walk along the sea front at Goring beach in Worthing, and then along Goring Gap.

Sea front shelter on Goring beach

I've walked along the beach when the wind has been up before, but it was really blowing today and as usual the kite surfers were out in force. They are very brave, it looks freezing out there!

Kite surfers at Goring near Worthing

I used to have a colleague who once said that one of the things he loved about the beach was that every time you were there you saw something different. He was quite right and there's always something interesting to spot - today it was this kite surfer on the beach being filmed by his camera team, I wonder what they were up to!

Kite surfer being filmed on the beach

Although this part of the coast is known for its pebbly beaches, as you walk west from Worthing the tide doesn't need to be that far out to expose some sand, and it was looking particularly yellow and inviting today in the sunshine. I must bring the children back out this way in the summer with buckets and spades!

Sandy beach at Goring near Worthing

I love the contrast between the pebbles, the sea and the sky. These little wispy bushes are very pretty too, I've no idea what they are but they are along the top of the beach all the way into Worthing.


In places the path meanders through some little tunnels of twisted branches, and a welcome shelter from the wind.

Tunnel of trees near the beach

I'm always hunting for treasures on the beach, and today I spotted part of a dead crab which must have been huge when it was alive. I'm a bit squeamish about bits of crab on the beach so I didn't touch it, but I couldn't resist bringing home this beautiful bit of driftwood, I'm not sure what for yet but I want to make some kind of beach display in the house somewhere and it will make a nice centerpiece.

Beach combing and driftwood

I feel so lucky to have this beautiful coastline right on my doorstep!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Review - Babe The Sheep Pig at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing

Last week, we were invited to the Connaught Theatre in Worthing to watch Babe - The Sheep Pig, the latest stop on a UK tour which continues until October 2017. The show follows the rise of Babe the piglet as he becomes a world famous sheep-pig, and is based on the beloved best selling book by Dick King-Smith.

Babe the Sheep Pig live review

Babe is a piglet won at a fair and brought back to the farm by Farmer Hogget. He is destined for the dinner table, until one night he saves the sheep on the farm from sheep rustlers. As a reward his life is spared and he becomes a part of the family. He is raised by Fly the sheep dog, who tells him that sheep are just stupid animals.  However after befriending a motherly ewe called Maa he learns that sheep aren't as stupid as he had thought, and he finds out that by being polite to the sheep and asking them nicely he can get them to do what he wants. When Farmer Hogget sees what he can do he trains him, and enters him into the Sheepdog Trials.

Babe the Sheep Pig live

The tale is told on stage with a range of costumes, puppets, dancing and original live music. The set is simple, but used cleverly to represent all the different locations in the story, and the costumes are well designed so that the actors can portray a range of different characters. It was a little intense at times with flashing lights and dramatic sound effects, and there are some sad and scary parts in the story, but it didn't cause any problems with the children.

We all really enjoyed the show. The children found the sheep in particular hilarious, especially when they were moving around on the stage before the show started and responding to the 'baas' that were coming back at them from the audience! They were captivated by the action on stage as it unfolded, and were really drawn into the story.

You can see a trailer for the show below:


The tour is continuing throughout the UK until October and you can find more details here - Babe - The Sheep Pig UK Tour.

We received press tickets to the show in exchange for a review.

Monday, 27 March 2017

3D layered Hama bead Easter Eggs

3D Hama bead Easter egg tutorial

These Hama bead Easter Eggs are made using the Easter Egg pegboard, a really versatile board which I've been using lot for Easter crafting lately - a few years ago we made some Hama bead and paper plate decorations and I've recently been using the board to make Easter egg frames. You can use the board to make eggs in all different sizes, which is what inspired these layered up designs to create 3D eggs.

Designs for layered Hama bead eggs

In order to save beads, the 3D Easter eggs are made using a series of three shapes which overlap by one bead to allow them to be glued together. To glue them you can use any type of glue, I tend to use white PVA glue which sticks them together well. 

Layered up  Hama bead Easter eggs

I've used beads from our box of 10,000 pastel Hama beads (affiliate link). This box has a great selection of beads in six pastel colours, great for Spring crafting and a nice contrast to the solid colours. These boxes vary in price widely over time so it's worth keeping an eye out as they can be fantastic value if you catch them on special offer - I always stock up when they are!

3D Hama bead Easter egg design

The finished eggs would look great hung up as a decoration - you can use the hole in the top to thread through some string or ribbon. If you make lots they would also be fun to hide around the house for an Easter Egg hunt.

Layered up Hama bead Easter craft

You can find plenty more Hama bead designs on my Hama bead page.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Hama bead Easter egg suncatchers

These sun catchers look really pretty on the window, and made with brightly coloured Hama beads they are a lovely way to welcome some Spring sunshine!

Hama bead Easter egg sun catchers tutorial

To make these sun catchers I used beads from the Hama beads box of pastel beads (affiliate link). This is a large tub with 10,000 beads in six lovely bright colours, plenty to keep you going and a nice change from the solid colours. It's worth keeping an eye on the price of this tub as I've found that it can vary widely, I always stock up when I see them on special offer!

The pegboard is the Hama bead Easter egg board (affiliate link), a nice sized board that can be used to make eggs in a variety of different sizes.

Hama bead Easter egg frames

I found that a border with three rows made a good sized frame. I ironed the design on both sides. When the beads are still warm it's easy for the egg to become a little out of shape, so be careful when you remove it from the board. After ironing, place the egg frame between two books or similar to keep it flat while it cools down (I use two cork mats and place the iron on top to hold them down). This will stop it curling and make sure that it cools to a nice shape.

Easter egg frames made using Hama beads

Then gather together some pieces of tissue paper. I have a big bag of coloured mini tissue squares (affiliate link) which I use for various crafting projects, so I went through and pulled out a selection of pastel colours which I thought worked well together. You will also need some clear sticky backed plastic.

Hama bead Easter egg frames with tissue paper

I found that the easiest way to make the sun catchers was to tape a piece of clear sticky backed plastic to the table, sticky side up. Then cover with the pieces of tissue paper. This is a really easy way for young children to make a sun catcher, as it doesn't matter if the pieces become crumpled and they stick down really easily. 

Hama bead Easter frame sun catchers

Then stick a second piece of sticky backed plastic over the top so that you have a nice smooth surface for each side of the sun catcher. 

Hama bead Easter egg frames

Cut each piece roughly to size for the frame, then use some white PVA glue to stick the Hama bead frames to the plastic insides.

Hama bead Easter egg craft

Leave to dry thoroughly, I found that placing the eggs on a radiator made sure that the glue was completely dry.

Hama bead Easter egg designs

Then when dry, cut to size neatly around the egg.

Hama bead Easter egg sun catchers

The egg can be stuck to the window easily using blu tack, or you might want to attach some ribbon or string to the egg through one of the holes in the top and hang from a window handle or suction hook.

I also used the Easter egg pegboard to make these Hama bead and paper plate decorations, and you can see all of my Hama bead projects on my Hama bead page.

Hama bead Easter egg sun catcher frame

This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Getting the garden ready for Spring

Last week we enjoyed some lovely weather, and today is officially the first day of Spring! It's a bit chilly and grey here today, but after the warmth of last week I was inspired to get out in the garden. I'm not much of a gardener and fortunately our garden is quite low maintenance - we don't have any shrubs that need cutting back and there's only one hedge out the front that needs a trim from time to time.

We do have quite a lot of paving slabs out the front and at the back and I'd been thinking for a while that they were starting to look a bit grubby, we've been living here for five years and never cleaned them. I remembered that my parents had a pressure washer and so I asked them if I could borrow it, and I was amazed at the difference! Here's the first area that I cleaned, the front path. I honestly thought that the paving slabs were grey, I had no idea that they were yellow underneath! It did a beautiful job of cleaning them.

Before and after jet wash front path

I've not finished everywhere yet, and the back garden is proving a lot tricker as there is some stubborn black lichen that I can't remove. I've given it a good go though and it's made a massive difference, I can't believe how dirty it had become. All the paving slabs have turned out to be yellow! I'm reluctant to use any sort of chemical cleaner as I don't want to damage the slabs so we'll have to live with the bits that I can't get rid of, but I'm definitely going to be doing much more regular cleaning!

Before and after jet wash of a patio

We have gravel all over the place in the garden, a wide border at the front of the house and then smaller ones all the way around the paths in the back garden. It gets full of weeds so I've been pulling them out and tidying up a bit - some of the areas had become a bit of a dumping ground for shells, cuttlefish, pine cones, and other bits and pieces that the children have gathered on nature walks and haven't been allowed to bring in the house. There have also been lots of weeds to pull up between the patio slabs, a job that I hate and really should keep more on top of.

My Dad has given our vegetable patch a good weed and dug in some manure for us so it's all ready for planting. I usually manage quite well with tomatoes, and last year we managed to grow two lovely pumpkins. Over the Easter holidays in a few weeks I'll take the children down to the garden centre and we can make a start on planting some seeds.

Vegetable patch in raised bed ready for planting

Our front garden has lots of daffodils already which is lovely, it's great that they just appear each Spring without me having to do anything! We only have a couple of small flower beds which need weeding and then I'll buy some bedding plants to put in them, I'm not very adventurous but we had some petunias once in all different colours that were really pretty so I might try those again.

I hope it's not too long before we have some proper sunshine and it's time to get out the garden furniture and the barbecue!

Daffodils in a pot

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Spring pen and pencil pot

This is a classic craft for a child to make as a gift for an adult, and this Spring themed pen and pencil pot is a great craft idea for Mother's Day!

Spring pencil pot craft

You need:

Three toilet roll tubes, or similar cardboard tubes
Paint in pastel colours
Green craft foam (you may also want a second colour for the base of the pencil holder)
Selection of pom poms, stickers, sequins etc.

Materials for making a pencil pot gift

To make the pencil pot:

First cut your cardboard tubes to size. I kept one in the original size, cut one about half size, and the third about halfway between the two. Then paint them in pastel shades of paint.

Wrap a piece of craft foam around the base of the longest tube and cut to size. Then cut it out to form grass and stem shapes like below. Do the same for the other two tubes but keep the lengths of the grass shorter.

Craft foam cut into grass shapes

When the paint has completely dried, cover the toilet roll with white PVA glue and stick the grass down firmly, leaving to dry. Secure the craft foam in place at the bottom with paper clips while it dries, and check for drips from the glue if you used a lot.

Painted toilet roll tubes with grass shapes

Then decide how you would like the tubes to be arranged together, you'll probably want the larger tubes at the back and the smallest at the front. Stick them together - I've found that the best way to do this is to use a stapler with first a staple at the bottom and then again as far inside as your stapler will reach. You can also use double sided tape or more glue. Make a base for the pencil pot using another piece of craft foam cut to size, or you can use cardboard. Glue the cardboard tubes onto the base with plenty of glue and leave to dry - if you can, try and place something heavy on the top or wedge the pencil holder in between two boxes so that it is held in position while the glue dries.

Spring themed pencil pot holder assembled

When the cardboard tubes are dry, use the stickers, pom poms, sequins and other embellishments to decorate. You could even finish with a coat of sparkly glue! When it's dry, your pencil pot is ready to use! You could present it as a gift filled with some lovely pens and pencils or other stationery.

Pen and pencil pot made from toilet roll tubes

Another lovely present for Mother's Day is a pom pom frame like the ones below - click to see how I made them! Mother's Day pom pom frames.

Mother's Day frame craft with pom poms

Monday, 13 March 2017

Hama bead Spring napkin rings

Spring is definitely in the air now, with flowers starting to appear and dare I say it a little more sunshine! So I thought that I'd embrace the season and get out the Hama beads to make some cheerful, colourful napkin rings to decorate the table for Spring. 

How to make Hama bead napkins for Spring

To make these Hama bead Spring coasters I used beads from the Hama beads pastel tub (affiliate link). It's worth keeping an eye on the prices of these 10,000 bead tubs as they can vary widely week by week, and when I see them on special offer I make sure to stock up! I really like the colours in the pastel set, they make a nice contrast to the more solid colours and they all work really well together.

To make the napkin rings you need to make strips of beads. I found that the width of the large board was the perfect size, and I created designs with a height of 7 beads.

Designs for Hama bead spring coasters

When you have laid out the beads on the board you need to iron them. Iron well on one side so that the beads fuse together, then pop the strips off the board. Turn them over one at a time and iron on the reverse, again making sure that the beads are well fused, but do make sure that the holes in the beads are still open.

Ironing Hama beads

While the beaded strip is still hot, gently wrap it around a cardboard tube so that it cools into a curved shape. This should be easy to do, and if you have ironed the beads well there will be no cracks.

Making curved Hama bead designs

Leave the curved designs to cool, don't worry if they come apart a little while they are cooling as you'll still be able to bend them back.

Curved Hama bead designs to use as coasters

To keep the strips of beads in a circular shape, I use some coloured thread to sew the ends together. As long as you haven't over ironed you should still be able to push a needle through the hole in the centre of the beads. It's easier if you do this shortly after you have ironed the Hama beads as they will still be slightly soft and pliable. As you can see, at the top and bottom I have taken the thread into the holes in the adjacent beads, as sometimes the corner beads can be a little more fragile and work loose.

Hama bead designs sewn together

Then your Hama bead napkin rings are ready to use! They can be used to hold napkins on the table, and they also make lovely holders for battery powered tea lights.

Hama bead napkin rings

You can find all my other Hama bead crafts here on my Hama beads page.
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