... because life's too short to do anything ALL the time . Creativity and positivity are my "hiraeth"

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Vintage Brides for Charity

As you know I was on the hunt for mannequins a few weeks ago to help Jess out with a fundraising drive for the restoration fund for the local parish church. Luckily, with the help of some family and lovely new friends (Hello Roo and Anna!) the exhibition was a resounding success.

Here's the press release that sums it up nicely. I must be honest I would have bought every one of these beautiful vintage wedding gowns - I especially loved the 1970's ones.


For Immediate Release - Photo Opportunities on Request

Community Village Summer Fete Raises £1500 for Parish Church Restoration Fund

Saturday 26th May at 11am marked the start of the Abercarn Community Fete at Ysgol Cwm Gwyddon, in aid of the restoration and upkeep of St Luke’s Church, Abercarn and raised over £1500 towards it.

The community, including Ysgol Cwm Gwyddon and Abercarn Primary schools, also put together an exhibition of vintage wedding dresses that were all worn for marriage ceremonies over the last 40 years, and a local history exhibition in the “top club”.

Amongst attractions at the fete were tea and cake, a fancy dress parade for children with the theme of kings and queens, grill,  face painting by Blush Tanning and Beauty - Newbridge, bouncy castle and stalls – all provided and organised by the community – local residents, the schools, the P.T.A’s and local businesses. Abercarn’s “new” library was also represented, a raffle and stalls incorporated jewellery, books and plants; in addition to the tombola.

Entertainment was provided by local singers Robert Knight and Kelly Mantle and the North Celynen Brass Band. The fete was endorsed by and attended by the Bishop Dominic of the Monmouth diocese.

Rev. Alicia Baker said “We are very grateful to everyone for their support of the restoration fund. The fete was a huge success and it was wonderful to see the community come together to celebrate the jubilee.”

The Welsh Church has recently secured a 12 month extension on its lease from the Presbyterian Church in Wales, and local residents are aiming to raise the £80,000 necessary to restore the Grade II listed building.  If you would like to donate mannequins for the exhibition or would like to find out more about the Restoration Fund please contact Rev. Alicia Baker at  01495 243919

For further information, quotes or photograph, please contact:
Rev. Baker

Sunday, 27 May 2012

I Can't Help It - I'm a "Joiner"

Three days graft in the garden have lift me with hands like a stevedore, but a lovely view for blog writing on a Sunday morning, surrounded by dogs and coffee.

And I'm on my second blog post already.

I've been really honoured to be asked to guest write my friend Terry (see fancy dress photos "fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" stylee and author of "Building an Empire")'s blog while he's away working on a very important mission.

I'm so jealous of their being able to get so hands on with this project, but very pleased to be a tiny part of it. I'll do my best to do it justice.

It really does warm my heart that so many people have donated to this fund, and the boys themselves are using their own money, but more importantly their time and energy - the two things money can't buy . My friends know that I am a "joiner". I love to get involved, to be part of something,  to lend a hand, and I love it when I see evidence of other people doing so. I'd love to win the lottery, not so I can retire and never lift a finger but so that I can put money behind all the things my friends family and others are doing. Zeitgeist baby.

Terry, for example, as we know, is part of the 501st Legion. A group of guys (I think predominantly guys) that are Star Wars fanatics and modelling fanatics. They've collectively raised thousands of pounds for charities and thousands of smiles from adults and children buy "trooping". I can't imagine this to be cheap or comfortable and also pretty damn dangerous to the costumes they've painstakingly made.

This not being enough Zeitgeist-ing (I'm aware that's not even a word!) Terry's raising money to build himself a full size fully operational C-3PO costume to add to the fundraising efforts. Wearing it I can only imagine will be agony and a bit like being trapped in a moveable plastic coffin.

My Brother in Law, Mark, is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in September, despite his collapsed lung, for Cancer Research Uk, having lost his wife to "the satanic c word" last year and our larger than life Stepfather (in law to me) within 6 weeks of each other.

Jess, aside from working a ridiculous amount of hours for Save the Children each week, has been massively involved in the fundraising efforts to save her local parish church. They needed to raise £80,000 to keep the beautiful and historic building going. It was for this purpose I did my little tiny bit by collecting and delivering the mannequins for the wedding dress exhibition in the church - I'm going to take photos later on today which I look forward to sharing tomorrow. From 7am yesterday, Jess was busting a gut putting the village fete together and co-ordinating the fundraising efforts. She has put in SO much effort it's ridiculous, and wonderful.

Jenny very recently did the London Moon Walk. That's an incredible feat of mental and physical endurance and I'm so proud of her for doing it. It's unbelievable.

And all this is just off the top of my head. It's amazing what people do on a regular basis and I love it.

As you know, my family have our fair share of "troubles". Mr Red is wheelchair bound by a dreadful un-diagnosable wheelchair condition that give him no end of pain and difficulties, but we are so very lucky and very, very blessed. We are together, we love each other dearly and we together can get through anything. Some people find it difficult to believe that the three of us can be so happy together in such difficult circumstances, but we just are. So there.

I've got a massive project I'm working on currently, I'll be able to share more soon but it's a secret, and I've been overwhelmed by the help and offers of help I have received with it. You know who you all are. Following my DIY few days I have a mountain of laundry, washing up, cleaning and ordinary stuff to be getting on with, and do you know what? I love it.

I LOVE being alive. The world is such a wonderful place, every tiny thing just fills me with wonder and gratitude. I'm not getting all god-bothery or anything, but look around you. Look at the people that love you, the technology we have around us, the weather - sunny or not. I have so much to do and so much I want to do that I wish I didn't have to sleep, despite it being my favourite thing in the world. There are so many books to read and write, so many films to see, people to meet, conversations to have. I could fill each day ten times over and I do try to!

We're all very lucky, I just wish everyone could see it.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Bean Bags and the Glad Rags

Ages ago a made a couple of gorgeous 25p vintage tea towels into a "weekend bag". I got a bit carried away with it and, lovely as it is, it was actually big enough to contain an adult. As a result it was quite ungainly and either mostly empty or simply too big to move!

I ordered some bean bag beans, I had this idea for a "secret thing" that I would make some bean bags, and I had an epiphany. I decided to make my "weekend bag" into a bean bag - much more suitable as that; and really kinda cool...

This week was the annual Save the Children Women in Wales lunch at City Hall, Cardiff. I was lucky enough to snaffle a place from Jess and as a result was needing a new frock. 

I have an abundance of fabric at the moment as I have lots of dresses to make. I have a job to do today but I really do need to get a wriggle on with them. I snaffled an remnant (from a dress I've not yet made - bit of a gamble!) and a free pattern, added in a few extra Betty Red touches and robert's your mother's brother. A  FREE dress. I had loads of comments about it I could hear and loads of comments I couldn't quite hear that were either good comments about my frock or bad ones about my ink - either way I'm happy!

I got to "meet" Bill Turnbull - brilliant speaker and gent, I bet he's a right laugh down the pub, and Jayne James off of the BBC Wales news and I had a lovely chat - very nice lady and I was a bit star struck by Jenny Ogwen being there - she was on the Wales news as I was growing up. I was lucky enough to win the flowers off the table and a distinct high point was the fashion show of Alison Tod Millinery - I would give my right arm for one of those.

I'm hoping to put a bit of a table together for next year - fancy it? 

Monday, 14 May 2012

If You Want To Get Ahead - Wear A HAT

...or a bonnet.

I love Regency. When my mate and guest blogger Terry invited me to a fancy dress party I decided it just needed to be done. I enjoyed making the gown so much though that I have another one on the go already. I'm going to be doing some photos Regency style which I'm really excited about. I'll be able to share some more great photos instead of the shite ones I usually knock out; I'm rubbish at it these days.

My Mother in law collected me up a load of fabric remnants about 2 years ago and given that it was supposed to be a one off garment, I used 2 fabrics I already had, the pearls were also given to me as a broken necklace (plastic obviously), buttons came form my Grandmother. The only thing I bought for the whole outfit was the straw hat to make the bonnet. I've got the washing machine on currently dying another of the remnants to make another different one. The fabric started out as a horrible "hospital bed sheet" mint green, it's now "burlesque red". Photographers charged with the period photos please ignore the silly posing, the dress really is dead lovely - if about to be dyed also; I dropped McDonalds burger on it on the way home and I can't get the salsa stain out :( It's about to be dyed navy.

Speaking of great photographers; I met LOADS of new friends on Saturday at said fancy dress party and one of them is a FAB photographer - Denise pulled some blinders of the evening.

Much silliness ensued, Regency dancing to banging (incorrect adjective) funk and soul at Gŵdihw, Cardiff. A brilliant venue I've been to a couple of times and need to spend more time in. It really is a fabulous venue. Believe it or not, that was my first ever adult fancy dress party. I know. Not one to not do things by halves, I had to use the cash point AND put petrol in the car in my get up. I did enjoy both of those events (juvenile!). I always love meeting new people, it's for me the most important bit about going out, and this lot were particularly enjoyable. Next fancy dress party is hotting up already as the people who bailed on this one have realised how much they missed out on. It's my pet hate that. People moan they're bored, nothing to do, yadda yadda yadda, then when someone (usually me) tries to do anything, arrange something, put an event on, people don't get involved. We've all got busy lives, I actually have the very best excuse ever for not going anywhere or doing anything, but I don't like to let people down - and I know how devastating it is when the support dwindles. 

 We all need to party more. Fact.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Whisky Can Get You Into SO Much Trouble...

Girls and I were "raving not behaving" last night. Well, we went to the cinema. The American Reunion; definite must see. Much loling went on and it's so nice to spend an evening with fabulous company, even if one of us could start a fight in an empty room ... you know who you are!

I always find coming out of the cinema a bit of a strange experience, you've lived in someone else's world for the best part of 2 hours so I find it takes a while to reacclimatise. Surreal experiences don't help one bit, but my goodness did we lol again!

So we left my Mr. and Jess's Mr. to go up the local pub for a few. On Fridays we have a carer to get Steve to bed, so they made sure they were home in time to meet her. Of course, they weren't however that keen on stopping the booze flow, they were having a good time and wanted to keep the party going (Stifler would be so proud), so Steve set Mr. E about the task of locating the whisky. The one plus point of being sole carer and queen of our world is that everything stays where I put it, and no one needs to know where that is other than me.

Steve pointed him in the suspected direction of said whisky and he was rummaging around looking for the stash. Being blokes, they had the main light on and the living room curtains open, this was about 11pm. They were soon distracted from the hunt by multiple blue flashing lights tear arsing down the street, and curious as to where they were going, on our sleepy, silent, suburban street.

They were fascinated and a bit bemused that they appeared to stop adjacent to our house and when multiple ARMED Police shot down our driveway they were starting to think they were hallucinating. Had they accidentally run someone over on the way back from the pub with the wheelchair?!? Did someone stick a tequila, complete with worm, in their pints?!?

 "Is this your property, Sir?" said the armed, tazered up Police officer at the door to Mr. E, complete with the back up of 2 cars and a meat wagon. "No," says Mr. E "It's his!" pointing at Steve, who I'd imagine was probably singing a song about goblins by this point...

Turns out our lovely carer had arrived at the house a few minutes before all this, noticed unusually that the curtains were open, couldn't see Steve who was drunkenly reclining in his magic chair, and all she could see was Mr. E, complete with baseball cap, rifling through the cupboards in the living room! She'd panicked, thinking we were being burgled and called the fuzz who responded like the SAS.

Poor lovely carer, she was mortified when they'd established what had happened, she couldn't apologise enough. I shall assure her, however, when I see her that no apology was necessary - she's looking after my home, my Husband, my property AND gave me the biggest non film related laugh for some time. I think a bottle of wine might be in order, to calm her nerves if nothing else!

Being disabled is boring, I think not. Not in our house anyway!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Comic Heaven - Presenting Tom Boyle

Hello everyone, my name is Tom Boyle, I'm a 22 year old Comics warrior from Sunderland in the North East of England. I recently graduated with a first from Sunderland University with a degree in Illustration and Design, which was nice! To get the degree I had to make a Final Major Project and being such a nut for comics I thought it would be a sweet idea for my Final Major Project to be a Comic book, and so I began the lengthy and arduous task of making one! It was fun really, but it was a lot of work! I'm going to take you through some of the thinking behind this project!

So my first port of call was coming up with an idea, as I'm not the most inventive kid ever I didn't have a clue! Luckily at the time, I was reading a lot about Norse mythology and the Nordic legends, so I thought why not just pinch one of their stories cut my work load in half, sorted! So I delved deep in to the Norse creation Myth (The Prose Edda, it's a wonderful read) and came up with nothing... Yeah I had a bit of trouble trying not to make a comic about Thor, whose blockbuster film had just dropped in the Cinema, and I didn't want to use him and copy Marvel in any way, although he makes the briefest of appearances in the book, along with his Hammer! 

The narrative of the story I could not find so people told me to draw from personal experience. At the time though my Mam, Yvonne, was struggling against Terminal Cancer in the brain. It was tough to come to grips with and during my work time it kind of consumed my thoughts. There was no way I could help her get better. So using this as my motivation i thought of an odd way in which i could do something! in fiction I could make some sort of show of defiance against the Cancer, and so with my Mam's Cancer in mind, and sourcing a lot of the Norse Universe I created the Monster of the piece, A giant Tumour that was destroying the Norse Universe The 'Yggdrasil' or the Life Tree or World Tree. (Which is the name of the book and the setting of the story)

So now I had my Setting, my antagonist and after reading the Prose Edda  and slightly obsessively, I had a few favourite characters I wanted to use, namely The Valkyries, Hel, The Wolves, Jormuggandr, Rattatosk and of course Odin! Using my knowledge of the Norse Legends and using my own personal experiences I started to create the Comic, and it just came out in waves! I was working constantly for weeks, I even took my work to a house party a friend of mine had and after everyone had gone to sleep, or passed out pissed, I began to work until the early hours of the morning! Tough as nails me haha!

I work with lots of materials, namely Mechanical Pencils, Copic fineliners, Posca paint pens, Sharpies and some bottled ink. I draw the pages on Bristol Board paper, which is nice as when a page is finished it feels like an actual finished piece of art not something scribbled on some printer paper, which is fine by the way draw on whatever you can get hold of, but its just my own personal preference. I like to colour with both water colours and digital colours just depends on the feel I'm going for but my main strength is in the black and white pages!

So I kept working for a long time and the more work I got done the worse my mam's condition got, it was difficult to see my Mam die but during the entire time she was sick, she told me to keep working and keep striving for my goals. One time she wouldn't let me visit her in the Hospice until I finished pages for the night, I attribute this to being the main reason I got my Final Major Project finished and Printed in time for the Degree Show at the University. And my Mam got to see the book which I dedicated to her before she passed away, I've never felt more proud! I then had the idea to sell the comic in aid of cancer research and had 20 books printed which recently I sold the last of!

So now that I've graduated and reached my 200 pound goal for the Cancer Research Charity, I've started work on my next comic. This one is a collection of Science fiction stories all set in my fictional alternate universe, called ZPACE! I've been weaving together lots of ZPACE stories and ideas and it's getting pretty serious now! I'm experimenting and trying new things with these stories and hopefully they will lead to my main story idea I've had, which will be a cosmic ZPACE epic (hopefully haha) this one won't be for charity but it will mainly fund underprivileged comic geeks who are called Tom Boyle.

Hope that I've shown you a bit of the process of my work and some of the thinking behind it, and hopefully I haven't babbled too much! Main thing I learned from my time at Uni was that it doesn't matter whats going on in your life you can still do amazing things, as long as you work hard and work lots, like lots and lots to the point of madness haha. Keep an eye out for new books being printed soon and also re-prints of my old titles, if you'd like to see more of my work please check out:



Big thanks to Bethen for letting me spam her blog to bits haha and thanks to Bexy Bizzle for being awesome also thanks to anyone who had a read or just a look at the pretty pictures! Your solid gold!

Peace out peeps!

Tom B.