Scarf from the heart

A while back I signed up to take part in a “Scarf from the heart” craft exchange, which was being hosted by the Outlander penpal group on Facebook. We were all allocated partners randomly, so we wouldn’t necessarily be sending a gift to the person who was sending one to us. I duly crocheted a scarf and sent it off to my partner (I did have a photo of it, but I can’t find it anywhere just now! If I find it, I’ll add it retrospectively). It took a long time to reach its destination, but it did eventually get there and all was well.

I waited and waited, but the parcel sent to me never arrived. Eventually, the person sending to me got in touch and said she was tracking the package and it had only just left Canada. It then took forever to reach British shores, only to be snaffled by Customs. And there it stayed, for quite some time. It seemed it might never reach me, and that made both me and my sender sad.


Scarf from the heart

Check that cheesy grin on my face – it’s gonna be there all day!!!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally arrived! The postman just knocked at my door with a parcel and I nearly knocked him down in my excitement because my scarf from the heart gift is here with me!!!


The most gorgeous cozy cowl and gauntlets in a colour that goes beautifully with my hair – I love, love, LOVE autumnal shades! And then there’s the paperback copy of Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon (AKA Outlander), because I only have the books on Kindle – there’s nothing like feeling a real book in your hands and smelling that lovely book smell! And a gorgeous photo of Weller House Inn, Fort Bragg, California – just the kind of place I imagine Jocasta living (I’m up to The Fiery Cross – the fifth book in the series – just now).

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Lynn – you couldn’t have made me happier than I am at this very moment in time – and you will be receiving a letter from me very shortly for sure!!!


Cast/Recast: Highlander

There’s talk that Highlander (1986) is about to be rebooted. I know there was quite a popular TV series that was a spin-off from the original series of films, but I was never a fan, and I’ve only ever seen the first movie, so I thought it would be fun to recast the main characters of the original mid-eighties movie. Here’s what I came up with:

Highlander (1986)

Character: Connor ‘The Highlander’ MacLeod / Russell Edwin Nash
Originally played by: Christopher Lambert
Recast: Sam Heughan

Connor MacLeodThe original film cast a Frenchman in the role of a Highlander. I want to put a Scot in the role. A Scot who has recently become quite well known for playing a Highlander born some 200 years after Connor MacLeod, as he plays Jamie Fraser in the Starz series, Outlander (which is excellent, by the way). He’s tall, good looking, and looks fabulous in a kilt. He can also handle a sword, which is pretty important for this role. I’d love to see this up-and-coming actor play the lead here. He certainly has the talent and charisma for the role.

Character: Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez
Originally played by: Sean Connery
Recast: Rodrigo Santoro

Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos RamirezIn another strange bit of casting, the original film had a Scotsman playing an Egyptian. I want to cast a Brazillian in the role. Santaro has proven he can be an imposing presence (check out his performance as Xerxes in 300), and his exotic good looks would seem to fit the character well. And look at those soulful eyes – if anyone looks like he has a soul that has lasted thousands of years, it’s him. I could believe he’s been walking the earth since almost 900 years before the birth of Christ!

Character: Victor Kruger / The Kurgan
Originally played by: Clancy Brown
Recast: Zach McGowan

The KurganThe heavy leather boots left vacant by the formidable Clancy Brown are incredibly hard to fill. From the information I’ve managed to gather, the ex-wrestler-turned-actor, Dave Bautista, is stepping into them for the reboot, but I’m disappointed by this choice. I’d like to go a little more subtle. Another of the Starz alumni is my choice. McGowan can currently be seen playing the ruthlessly vicious Captain Charles Vain in Black Sails, and his gravelly tones would be perfectly suited to the evil Russian who is even older than the Egyptian. He’s not quite as tall as Brown, but at six feet tall, he can still be pretty imposing, and he can certainly project enough menace to terrify any immortal!

Character: Heather MacLeod
Originally played by: Beatie Edney
Recast: Lily James

Heather MacLeodAnother rising star at the moment is Lily James, known for playing Lady Rose MacClare in Downton Abbey, and now as playing Cinderella in the live action remake of the Disney classic animated film. Her fresh face and natural prettiness would suit the role of Heather MacLeod perfectly.

Character: Brenda J. Wyatt
Originally played by: Roxanne Hart
Recast: Katee Sackhoff

BrendaAs the police technician fascinated with the apparent murder case involving MacLeod/Nash, and his modern-day love interest, I see someone like Katee Sackhoff (who played the formidable Starbuck in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica). She’s a down-to-earth, independent, feisty kind of gal who would be a great foil for the leading Highlander.

Character: Rachel Ellenstein
Originally played by: Sheila Gish
Recast: Raquel Welch

Rachel Ellenstein HighlanderCasting Rachel, the little girl adopted by MacLeod when he finds her all alone during World War II is a touch more difficult to cast, as we are now thirty years on from the original film. We need someone who was a small child, maybe five or six years old, by the tail end of the war, but someone who still looks pretty good. Of course, Hollywood is filled with screen sirens who are aging very gracefully, but the one I chose, who I think fits the bill perfectly, is Raquel Welsh, who was born in 1940 and still looks absolutely amazing at the age of 74! She would bring a real touch of class to my personal reboot.

So, there we go – my own personal wish list for a reboot of this magnificent movie. Obviously, I haven’t cast every role – there are many other roles I could cast, but I choose to focus on just the main parts as I see them.

Do you agree with my choices? Either way, I’d love to know. And if you’d cast someone else, leave a comment below with your choice and reason for casting them.

A-Z Challenge: Theme reveal!


1. a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning. Words are composed of one or more morphemes and are either the smallest units susceptible of independent use or consist of two or three such units combined under certain linking conditions, as with the loss of primary accent that distinguishes black·bird· from black· bird·. Words are usually separated by spaces in writing, and are distinguished phonologically, as by accent, in many languages…

words1This is my second year taking part in this moat eclectic of challenges, Blogging from A to Z.

For my second attempt at completing a month of alphabetical blogging, I thought I would take my inspiration from the alphabet itself.

As a lover of words, both written and spoken, I have decided to share some of my favourites with you. It constantly amazes me that from just the 26 letters in the English language, we can create so many wonderful, beautiful, phenomenal words, that, when put together, can weave magical tales or convey precise information.

I hope you’ll join me on this exploration of the English language, and perhaps you will discover a few words that are new to you, or perhaps, to quote Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Power to the people?

wind-turbines17It’s no secret that the majority of electricity in the UK is still produced using fossil fuels. It’s also no secret that one day, at some uncertain point int he future, these will no longer be available. Let’s face it, we’re using these resources at a far greater pace than nature can produce them! Renewable energy is increasingly becoming the preferred option, and individual turbines and wind farms are springing up all over the country (sometimes to the horror and protest of locals, which I’ve never understood – I love to see them and find them very peaceful to watch), and solar panels are becoming an increasingly common sight on rooftops everywhere.

But imagine a time when these were the norm and we could phase out fossil fueled electricity completely. he way I see it, it could happen a lot sooner if those in power got off their butts and did something about it.

Solar panel and sunI read an article this morning about all new buildings in commercial zones in France now being required to be either partially covered in plants or have solar panels installed. This is a great idea, but now imagine it was rolled out to include ALL new builds, not just commercial ones. How could this work?

Well, we all hear about how councils struggle with not enough money – if all social housing (both council and housing association) underwent a rolling programme to fit solar panels to all their homes, then the tenents would have decreased energy bills, and the councils and housing associations, under current government rules, which cannot be rescinded retroactively, would also make money back selling the excess electricity back to the power grid. While this is happening, institute a ruling than all new builds, including housing, should have solar panels installed, whether social or private housing, and you’ve already started making a big difference to how our country’s energy is produced and its effect on the environment.

Man picking pear from tree, close-up of handIt would be a massive undertaking, but the payoff would be immense and lead to a greener Britain.

Now let’s go a step further. Let’s make it even greener and healthier. How do we do that? Well, if the councils could then plough some of the money from solar panels into parks, planting fruit trees and other food plants for anyone to pick and eat as they please, and you have a great social food situation going on. Kids could pick and eat a piece of fruit to enjoy while playing in the park, instead of chowing down on crisps and sweets.

I read about this happening in a few parks in America the other day (take a look at one such project HERE), so it can be done!

Next, we roll it out to planters around the villages and towns – all those large planters in market places and on roadsides filled with carrots, onions, strawberries, and all manner of fruits and vegetables.

The knock on effect of this would be that homeless people and those living on the breadline would also be able to supplement their diets with fresh produce at no cost.

Community service could include the care and upkeep of social food areas. Schools could get involved, showing children where their food comes from as well as interesting them in growing their own food.

And while we’re at it, shouldn’t all schools have at least a small vegetable plot? Again, it can be used as an educational tool – children can help tend the plots and the school can use the produce to supplement the kitchens, even if only in a very small way – the kids would be eating what they grow!

Now, imagine the sense of achievement and of community we would gain from all this.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

I’m doing my part. We’re about to have solar panels installed on our roof and I’m on the waiting list for an allotment which should hopefully be available later this spring, where I will have Tadpole and Choochie help to grow our own produce, teaching them how to tend the plants and help look after our planet.

I look forward to a greener, healthier future for all of us.

Spring equinox and a “solar ecliption”

Today is the spring or vernal equinox – a time when day and night are of equal length. It’s also the day we in the UK were treated to an almost total solar eclipse, an “ecliption” as Tadpole insisted on calling it, what are the odds, eh?

It was a bit too cloudy to get a good view of the eclipse in our little town, but I did manage to get a few half-decent photographs of it. Don’t worry – I didn’t look at the eclipse – I pointed my phone in the general direction and clicked, hoping for the best. I got lucky with a couple of shots, which you can see below. A few minutes after the zenith, there was a break in the clouds for a minute or so, so I got out my home-made pinhole viewer and watched with that, till the eclipse itself was eclipsed by the bank of clouds once more.

Despite not having a clear view, it was a spectacular sight, and one which will not be repeated in the UK for another eleven years. The next one after that will be in 2090. Apparently there’ll be one in the USA in 2017 though, so if you’re over there at the time, you’re in for a real treat!

Around 10.30am, once the eclipse was over, the clouds disappeared and it turned into a beautiful spring day. Typical!

Zentangle Zone

I’m always one for trying to keep things in some semblance of order. It doesn’t always work, but I do try! To that end, I’ve started a new blog to showcase my Zentangle and Zentangle-inspired art.

Please do visit Kell’s Zentangle Zone and take a peek at what I’m creating, There are new posts pretty much every day, as I use Zentangle as a way to relax each day, and I take part in several Zentangle challenges.

Go to Kell’s Zentangle Zone

International Women’s Day

international-womens-dayToday is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate those women who have worked hard to make life better for women everywhere, remember those who have meant so much to us, and to look forward to the women of the future and their position in society.

220px-Emily_Davison_portraitIn keeping with that, I’d like to briefly mention a woman with whom I am proud to have a family connection. A great aunt (or is it great great aunt?) of my Uncle, Emily Davison was a teacher suffragette, probably most famous for stepping out in front of King George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby.

I won’t go into detail on her here – information is freely available on the internet and if you click her name in the above paragraph, you’ll be taken to a Wikipedia page that will tell you a lot about her. I am proud to have a connection with this incredibly strong and passionate woman and want to say something I feel is very important.

There will be a general election in the UK on 7th May. I ask that every woman in the UK who is eligible to vote, to please do so. I don’t care what your political leanings are – get informed and cast your vote – it is your voice and it has to be heard. Women fought so very hard to win the right to vote, please do not waste it by not voting, or squander it by spoiling your slip. Do some research on the policies of the various parties standing and vote with both your heart and your head. If getting to a polling station will be difficult, then please register for postal voting – don’t miss your chance to make your choice. If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain if you do not like the outcome of the poll.

Of course, everyone, both male and female, who is eligible should vote, but today I want to focus on making sure women in particular take time to vote. We all lead busy lives – some work long hours and come home to homes and families where there is more work to do. Some work long hours in the home, with or without children. Others care for relatives and are exhausted at the end of the day. No matter how busy your life is, please do take the time to vote – it is vitally important, and not to do so is to disrespect the role played by those women of the past – women who had no political voice and didn’t want their daughters and granddaughters to go unheard as they did.

This International Women’s Day, I ask that every woman do just a little research on the policies of the political parties in their country, so that when the time comes, you can make a fully informed decision, and make those women who went before us proud that they fought the good fight! And make sure we pass on some political passion to your daughters – don’t let them down!

We make up 50% of the population – make sure our collective voices are a force to be reckoned with!


Sunshine in a box…

To combat the February blahs, I took part in an online “Sunshine in a box” exchange within my pen pal group. Obviously, I had to wait till my recipient receives it, so this post is after the fact, but here’s what I sent:

  • A yellow crocheted choker with a sun charm on it
  • Lady Grey teabags (they have a hint of orange with the bergamot, and orange is liquid sunshine)
  • A Terry’s Chocolate Orange (because it looks like the sun, and again, the orange flavour)
  • A packet of sunflower seeds
  • A lemon-scented bath bomb (because citrus lemon is very sunny)
  • Lemon-scented soap
  • A sun-protection lip balm

I packaged it all into a box, added a card on which I’d done a sun-shaped zentangle-inspired design, and wrapped it all in gold wrapping paper, which I then decorated with a little swirly design all over the place.

I got confirmation this morning that my recipient’s box of sunshine had finally arrived, and she is thrilled with her gifts (phew! I’m so relieved!).

Of course, I received a box of sunshine from someone else, and my sender chose so well for me – I am utterly delighted with what I received:

  • Two beautiful dragonfly hooks to hang up my numerous scarves
  • A gorgeous little silver thistle pendent

The reasoning behind those gifts is we are all members of a group which got together based on our love of the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon. Of course, they’re set in Scotland (for the most part), hence the thistle, and one of the gifts the female lead, Claire, receives is a dragonfly in amber (and that’s the name of the second book in the series).

I think I will make myself a choker upon which to hang that lovely little thistle.

World Book Day

05.03.15 - World Book Day

Our Quint

Today was World Book Day, and Tadpole’s school had a “come as your favourite book character” day, rather than have the kids wear their uniform as usual. We’ve just started reading The Curse of the Gloamgloazer, from The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, so Tadpole went as Quint (he’s a knight).

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see many of the little girls dressed as Elsa, and a few as Anna, from Frozen. I hate to say it, but that wasn’t a book! Now, if they’d gone dressed as The Snow Queen… I can even get on board with kids going as superheroes, as they usually at least started out in comic books and graphic novels, but when they just pick their favourite film of the moment, instead of thinking about it and choosing a character from a book, I find it very sad.

Tadpole thought long and hard about who to dress up as this year, as he did last year. (Last year, he was Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, which we were reading at the time). He loves books, both to read alone and to have read to him, so World Book Day is a bit of a big deal for him. He had a fantastic time at school and came back filled with tales of sword fights and battles.


Skype virgin

skype_logo-580x367I’ve never liked being caught on camera and I’m, well, let’s just say I’m a bit of a disaster when it comes to all things technical, so the whole Skype thing has never grabbed me.

Until now.

I have a friend who lives in America. We’ve known each other for about a decade, but we’ve never met, and we’ve never spoken in person.

Until tonight.

Tonight, she persuaded me to try Skype. Ostensibly so our kids (who write to each other) can talk in person every now and then, but of course, I had to check it worked, so tonight, I downloaded Skype and she sent me an invite, and, hey presto! we were talking face to face!

It was such a lovely surprise to see her smiling face and actually hear her voice at the same time. Another of her friends was on too, so I got introduced and we chatted for a little while.

I could get used to this!

Thank you, S, for introducing me to the joys of Skype. Let’s not wait another ten years to speak in person again!