My life in Ipswich - incorporating One Step at a Time, my account of how I am slowly changing my life

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Another passion of mine is sewing. From a very young age I have sewed. From the dress I made at the age of 10, to my first wedding dress at 19 and to the clothes I now make for my granddaughter Ella, I am never so contented as when I am at the sewing machine or sitting with a needle in my hand.

I sew all sorts of things from clothes to curtains to patchwork blankets, to Christmas stockings and doll's bedding. I have a small craft room which is bursting at the seams with fabric and craft items, and in another room I have book cases of craft/sewing books and magazines and a chest of drawers full of fabric.

My very latest creation is the Liberty fabric cushion pictured above. I bought it as a kit from Patch Fabrics in Lowestoft which is owned by a friend Claire Davidson. Claire started her business on line running from a bedroom in her home but finding it getting larger, she took over some premises at Bevan St East. Since that the business has thrived and I can be found there every Weds at the Quilt Club and on occasional days at workshops. To find out more visit Claire's website

Today's sewing an advent calendar of 24 mini stockings ......

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Folk music and festivals

This is another important aspect of my life and one which takes up quite a lot of my free time. I suppose it all started with going to Cambridge Folk Festival in the late 1990s where I discovered folk music. Not the finger in the ear music that is its usual caricature but music that has roots in the everyday man of the past , present and future. In fact many who say they don't like folk music are rather surprised when they hear some, to find that it's like music they are already listening to or that they rather enjoy it.

To be fair, my folk roots possibly started a lot earlier than that, when I was a student in the 1970s going to the Albion fairs and listening to Melanie, the Byrds, Bob Dylan, Lindisfarne, to name but a few. So when in the 1990s I discovered folk festivals it was like being young again. Camping at festivals and escaping the 'real' world for a few days. was the ideal way of escaping the stresses of modern life and of teaching in a challenging school.

Then the interest in the music spread to some of the other folk traditions and Harry and myself got involved in morris dancing. Now unlike many believe, morris dancing is not all men dressed in white waving hankies. There are many forms of morris and the type we got involved in is called Border morris as it originates form the Welsh borders. So first it was working with Pretty Grim [seen above], then Moonshine and also Green Dragon. These days I don't dance but go along to support when I can. Harry has now also got involved with Milkmaid Molly an all inclusive side that includes those with special needs. This side dances in the East Anglian tradition of Molly.

The folk music, the festivals and the morris dancing means we have quite a good social life but most of it not in Ipswich where we live. This generally means quite a bit of travelling but we have decided to continue living in Ipswich as that is where Harry works. All this means that he is about 5 minutes from work but that we travel for pleasure.

Finally the other aspect of this that's so important to me is our friends The Bounty Hounds, a folk rock group based in Bury St Edmunds. Harry now does the sound for them and this has led to more involvement in the local folk scene. The Bounty Hounds play locally and at various festivals up and down the country and are well worth a listen to if you get a chance.  I can't imagine my life without music and festivals and hope to continue with both for many years to come.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Being a grandma

I thought I'd write a few posts about what is important to me in my life. I'm going to start with 'being a grandma'

When I married Harry I immediately became a 'Nannie' to Charlie who is now eleven and beginning to really develop his own life. Soon after that came Conner, followed almost immediately with Samuel. All three are great lads and I love them all. However I am only step-nannie to them and have always been conscious that they have a real grandma. This has not stopped me doing things with them and am at the moment working on Charlie and Samuel's Christmas craft boxes that I always provide at the beginning of December.

However January 2011 something really amazing daughter Sian gave birth to a little girl Ella. At the moment Ella is the 'apple' of my eye but any time now my daughter in law Emma will be giving birth to Grace and around Boxing Day Ella will be getting a little brother, Toby. I can't wait.

I never imagined that I'd become such a doting grandma. .....but I am. Every Wednesday sees me getting up early to drive the 33 miles to where Sian, Ian and Ella live. It's so lovely to be greeted by Ella's friendly little smile

When my children were young I was working full time and was always busy. Hopefully they would say I still found time for them but looking back, how I wish I could have spent more time with them. Being a grandparent gives you another chance to be important in a child's life....its such a privilege.

Monday, 12 November 2012

What does being Frugal really mean?

Over the years I have read and have even followed religiously, several 'frugal' websites and blogs. In them the writer always stresses how much money they save doing this or doing that and gives out plenty of advice. But now  I have had a light bulb moment - I have always been 'frugal' but haven't called it that.

If we go back to my childhood years, I made presents, recycled items and made my first well loved dress at the age of 10.  This continued through my teens with altering of jeans to make them flares, embroidering flowers on them and the making of my blue with silver stars Marc Bolan jacket [okay, I'm giving away my age here].

During my university years I had a great time but still saved the deposit for my first flat out of my grant and holiday earnings; my wedding dress was made from Laura Ashley fabric for a fraction of the cost of one bought new and my sisters helped me make all the food for the reception, including decorating all the cupcakes [ although they were called fairy cakes then!]with bright green and blue icing; I bought text books secondhand and cooked all my own meals [no uni canteen for me]; my furniture was bought from secondhand shops and altered to my taste and finally wine and beer was brewed. None of this I considered being frugal - it was all just natural to me.

My 'frugal' ways have enabled me to pay off a mortgage, [taken out after a marriage breakdown] in ten years and take very early retirement.   In those ten years I also remarried and had the wedding and honeymoon of my dreams[including flying over Niagara Falls in a helicopter]  all for under three thousand; had several holidays abroad and attended so many folk festivals I have lost count; bought a caravan and both myself and other half have our own cars. No I didn't marry someone with a large income,just average but we have made decisions about what is important to us.

And coming back to my 'light bulb' moment, I am no longer going to idolise these 'frugal' bloggers...because I am one of them. We are all just people who have made our own decisions on what is important to us. For some its where they live, for others the size of their house, or what they eat, or how they spend their leisure. We are all different and all have to make our own decisions. Yes, I'd love to move to another area nearer the coast but that would mean getting another mortgage and so I'd have to return to work in order to finance it. For me it's more important that I stay healthy and have time to spend with my family.  So I will continue being careful with my money but if cold I WILL put the heating on, I WILL occasionally have a takeaway of fish and chips, I WILL buy a magazine, books, cds, dvds - all because I know the way I budget my money allows it.