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May 2016

Haslemere Classic Car Show & Tour

Last spring we bought a 1969 Morris Minor Traveller as our second car. As well as being exceptionally cheap to run and reliable, she’s also introduced us to the world of classic car tours and shows. Last summer we dipped our toe into the water with one show in Chichester and a day at the Goodwood Revival and this summer we’re intending to do a few more, the first of which was the Haslemere Classic Car show which took place this weekend.

dressed for the era for teh Haslemere Classic Car Show

The format for the day was to meet the other hundred odd cars taking part at 9am, then head off for a tour round the countryside (destination unknown till you collect the instructions on the day) including a pit stop for coffee, returning to the start for the car show in the afternoon.

In keeping with the classic style of motoring you have a passenger (me!) to play the role of navigator following the ‘Tulip’ style instructions for the route and clocking the miles along the way. In theory you are following the rest of the group, but you can’t rely on keeping them in sight at all times, in fact we managed to lose almost everyone on the way back!

Along the way you generally get a lovely reception from people who suddenly find they have a stream of classics passing their front door and the occasional bad tempered driver who finds he has a stream of classics all going one way past him down a country lane, fortunately the former normally outnumber the latter several times over!

hccs_7Robyns Nest Travelling Tea Shophccs_8hccs_20_1600hccs_16hccs_11haslemre classic car show and tourhccs_18

For Sunday’s trip we decided to dress era appropriate as we planned to enter the Best Dressed Driver and Car category, something we sadly didn’t manage as by the time we returned all the spaces were taken. Nonetheless we still had a great day, with a lovely stop for coffee in the sunshine at the Goodwood motor circuit and a chance to see a stunning selection of retro motors.

As I’m determined to make an effort to record more of our family days out, I also shot a vlog of the car tour which will give you a good idea of what it was like to take part, including being filmed by a drone and watching rollerskating on the Goodwood racetrack. It’s six minutes, but tightly edited so hopefully an enjoyable watch. If you like it please do subscribe to my youtube channel to see more videos when I upload them…

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handprinted screenprinting course in west sussex

Screenprinting workshop

by Clare Mansell

Screenprinting is one of those things I have wanted to learn to do for ages and when I say ages I literally mean years. But you know, life gets in the way and it seems hard to justify spending the money on doing something fun and just for yourself, so you keep putting it off… But at the beginning of this year I promised myself I would finally learn and dragged my sister along for the ride too.

Our course was held at Handprinted in Bognor Regis. It’s about half an hour’s drive from me, but not a part of the coast I’m at all familiar with. The classroom and shop is on an industrial estate just outside town which doesn’t sound terribly glamorous, but it does mean they have a big workspace upstairs and a large area downstairs for all the stock they carry.

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A homework space for a growing boy

On our landing upstairs we have a little bonus space next to Alice’s bedroom which looks down on our hallway. We haven’t done much with it since we added the first floor to the house two years ago, but anticipating the start of proper homework (eek!) in September, we recently decided to turn it in to a study space for Theo.

Far from being a forgotten space, it’s actually a lovely spot with oodles of natural light coming from the hall below and via a large VELUX window in the eaves, so the perfect place to study, or as he does at the moment, practice your drawing…


The desk is one we have had for a while which was originally in the cabin and used to be the one I sewed at. It’s a really great solid wooden bit of furniture which we picked up very cheaply because it was originally too low to be much practical use. We added bun feet to it to raise it and it’s been great ever since.

The chair was one that I picked up on impulse from Ardingly Antiques Fair a couple of years go and resprayed last week with Pinty Plus chalk paint in red velvet. It is a crazily vibrant colour, but it seems to work in this spot and with so much white to compliment it.

oak light with red accentI love the chunky oak effect and cream lamp with the red fabric cable which came from First Choice Lighting. If you are after a desk light, I think it is a real steal at only £24.99 with free delivery! They also do it with a black and white cable and a red shade.


I hadn’t planned to hang anything on the wall behind the desk immediately, but we were lucky enough to be given some hanging strips and frames by 3M Command to try out, so I thought I’d put them into use in this spot. If you haven’t tried hanging strips yet, they are quite amazing and speedy to use.

They are made up of two sticky velcro strips, one which goes on the frame and one which goes on the wall. I usually wimp out of hanging pictures in our house and ask Jim to do it, but I did these ones myself and they literally took about a minute each to do…. and in case you are wondering, yes they are still up!


Theo is delighted with his new workspace, but the true test will come in another four months when we try and get him to sit at it and do things!


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Pinty Plus – May Makeover

Pinty Plus – May Makeover

by Clare Mansell

For the last couple of months I’ve been working with novasolspray.co.uk using Pinty Plus Chalk Paint spray to upcycle and makeover furniture and home decor. So far I’ve stuck to a pretty safe palette of pale turquoise and turquoise and so this month I decided to go for something radically diffferent… Red Velvet!

Red Velvet is a very vivid colour which is neither red nor pink, but a sort of strong pinky red. It is actually exactly the kind of colour my son loves, so was an easy choice for a project for him. The chair I used was one I picked up at Ardingly Antiques Fair several years ago. I think it’s one of those rare items that hadn’t been deliberately styled to look tatty, it just is tatty!

The more I looked at it the more I realised it was quite dirty and really needed an overhaul…


After scrubbing it down with Cif I started spraying it. The first coat on top of the white was very pink… pink enough for me to panic a little bit about the colour change, but after applying the top coat it took on a deeper shade, though let’s not beat around the bush here, it is still really bright!

Keeping out of the wind round the side of the house meant that this time I used less paint than when I sprayed the wicker chair, just over one can. I finished it off with the Pinty Plus craft spary varnish which also makes the colour slightly darker.


I am kicking myself slightly about the finished result. As I suspected this chair had so many layers of paint built up on it that it really would have benefited from being sanded down first and if I’d spent that extra time on it the finish would have been a lot better. As it is there are certain parts of the chair where you can see the uneven finish of the old paint through the Pinty Plus.


It’s probably only me who will ever notice it, but it’s slightly annoying because if we’d had more sunny days in a row last week I would have sanded it down… so basically it’s the weather’s fault!


Anyway, the important thing is that Theo loves his new chair and tomorrow I’ll share a little room makoever with you that will show you what the chair looks like in its new home…


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Embracing the arts – Term two at Stagecoach

At the beginning of this year Theo joined Stagecoach in Chichester as a blogging ambassador, although I didn’t realise it at the time, he was also one of the youngest pupils they’ve ever had, starting there at just 4 years and 4 months old.

The first week did not go well. Jim spent most of the lesson with Theo clinging to his legs refusing to take part in anything, or let him leave the building and after an hour and a half they both came home with Jim looking defeated and like the whole thing was the worst idea ever.


Four months on we see a very different child every weekend. After a 4 week break over Easter, Theo was positively bouncing off the walls with excitement as he counted down the days to the start of the new term and although his Gro Clock normally keeps him bound to his bedroom till 7am, on the day that term started, he came bouncing in to our room at 6 in the morning barely able to contain his glee, telling us “It’s Saturday. It’s Stagecoach!”

Our Saturdays now revolve around his Stagecoach session… by choice it should be added! A fortnight ago when we had a party to go to in the evening, a haircut, the vets and other errands to run, the logistics of what could be achieved kept returning to Theo not missing his hour an a half in Chichester. We achieved it all in the end, but my haircut nearly got cancelled ahead of Stagecoach!

What exactly goes on in those Early Stages sessions is probably a bit of a mystery to some of the parents of kids Theo’s age. We all arrive at the start of the class, the kids put on their “jazz shoes” (a phrase that still makes me chuckle) and then all line up neatly in front of the teacher. When they are quiet and ready, they march off down the corridor to their classroom and us parents go home (or to the Tesco cafe!) before returning 90 minutes later to take the jazz shoes off and drive home.

At the beginning Theo managed some pretty generic answers in the car on the way home about what they had been doing Singing? Yes…  Dancing? A bit… But in his second term we’ve had him telling us everything in detail. We know that they aren’t doing a  production at the end of this term, but instead they’ll be doing a big Christmas show at the end of next term and he wants to invite his friends from school to come and see it, a list is being written! Last week was his teacher’s birthday, he hadn’t bought her a card, but he was going to make her one for this week instead.

Last term I also filmed the kids during their session to make a video you can see here and was in the very privileged position of being able to watch a whole process for myself. Theo’s teacher is brilliant. Strong, authoritative, but lovely and warm too. She’s been doing it for years and you can see that the children really like and respect her. The class I saw was made up of rehearsing and game playing. They are all activities that get the kids moving around, thinking and interacting with each other.

As I’ve watched Theo’s enthusiasm grow for the classes, I’ve also realised it has another benefit for him. It’s a special time at the weekend that is just about him and not about his sister. Sibling rivalry has not yet reared it’s head, but I think the time he has which is focused on getting him ready and driving him there and back, really helps with that.

In a few weeks time I’m going to be filming some of the parents and pupils higher up in Stagecoach and I’m really looking forward to sharing the video and their stories with you, so please keep an eye out for that post…


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