Sunday, 28 December 2014

2014 Review...


I set myself a list of 14 Resolutions at the beginning of this year and I've decided to go back through them to see how many I managed to achieve...

1.   Try to make at least one bear a month - I've actually done pretty well on this one  :) While my bear-making has been a bit haphazard, I didn't make any in March or April, but I have made 19 bears (so far) this year so I'll count this one as a success!  Gingerted below is one of this year's bears - he was a Secret Santa gift who is no longer a secret so it's safe to post a photo of him now...





2.  Re-home the last of my friend Sue's things - I only have one item left that I'd promised to someone - who I haven't seen this year, so I've done quite well on this one.

3.  Visit Wildwood - a proper visit this time.  It's such a special place, well worth going - Done!  :)





4.  A photo day in Dungeness - still on my to-do list, so something to look forward to for next year.

5.  Hmmmmm - sore subject right now...

6.  Try to go to the pool more often - still a bit of a fail  :(

7.  Be more organised - another work in progress...

8.  Try a new craft - Done!  These are a couple of the pieces I made on a glass fusing workshop.  Both have been made into necklaces which I've given to friends as Christmas gifts.  :) 




9.  Tackle the paperwork pile - well it's a LOT smaller than it was last year so lets call this a success  :)  (but still a bit of a work in progress)

10. Declutter - I finally got to move this year, so I'm going to count this one as a success, even though I still have a few boxes to unpack.  :)

11. Go to bed earlier and try to get up earlier - hmmm... another work in progress.

12. Make more effort to keep in touch with family and friends - I think this will have to count as a work in progress too as it's been a hectic year - but going to take the opportunity here to say a HUGE Thank You to everyone who helped me with my home move earlier this year - I couldn't have done it without you!  xxx

13. Join in a craft blog swap - I've just done my second so this is definitely a success!  Watch this space for a blog post about my latest swap  :)



14. Eat more healthily - this is obviously a long term goal which I've been making rather slow progress on, but so far I've lost around 14 lbs which is a reasonable start  :)
I'm not making a new list for 2015 - I'm going to continue working on this list as I think it's worth sticking with...  now I must get back to making my last bear of the year as he was supposed to be a Christmas gift but hopefully I'll have him finished in time for New Year  :)

The biggest change for me this year has been my home move.  After sixteen years of trying to move to ground floor accommodation, it finally happened!  I have to admit I almost chickened out on moving day... I suffer quite badly from anxiety and I find it difficult to spend even one night away from home, so the prospect of spending EVERY night in a strange place was terrifying.  Fortunately after waiting so long, the move happened very quickly, which gave me very little time to think too much.  I had a fantastic moving crew who turned my new bedroom into an oasis of calm amongst all the chaos - taking time to put my rail and curtains up for me even though they were running behind schedule by then.

The move has been a really good thing - I grind my teeth at night, particularly when I'm stressed and despite snapping a tooth off as a result of the move - I love my new home; it's funny how the little things have made the biggest difference and I love the fact I don't have stairs to worry about anymore.  And although I have to go outside to get an unobstructed view like this, just look at the wonderful sunsets we get here...





Friday, 21 November 2014

Unable To Resist A Crafty Challenge!

One of my new neighbours recently sent out a request for help - she wants to do "Elf on the Shelf" with her young daughter this year and needed an Elf.  I waited a little while to see if anyone else would respond, and then suggested I'd be prepared to help if she was stuck.

My neighbour found a rag doll that could be converted so I didn't have to start from scratch.  The first thing I did was create a pair of elf ears - I think elves should have a proper set of pointy ears.  I had some dark cream fabric but it wasn't quite dark enough so I brushed an ink pad across the fabric to darken it, then washed it to lighten it again slightly before ironing to heat set it.  I then 'amputated' the arms and legs so I could add some armature wire as I thought this would make it easier for the elf to get up to all his elf-related activities.  I decided to transplant/create a new set of legs as I wanted to give the elf proper curly toed shoes.  I wish now that I'd taken photos all the way through the transformation but sadly I didn't think of it, so I just have a few photos to share with you...  here are the old legs alongside the new ones.



I've never actually designed elf shoes before, but then I haven't designed elf clothes - or any other type of clothes before, but I have a book - "Just Like Me Knits" by Brandy Fortune - that gives some great hints on pattern making for dolls.  It has some great sewing and knitting patterns for dolls too but sadly I'm pretty useless at knitting, so those patterns currently remain untried.  Below is a photo of the original clothes...



I was lucky with the elf trousers as I've made a couple of rag dolls in recent months and I was able to adapt the bloomers pattern to make a pair of trousers with a slightly tapered leg, that amazingly fit without alteration.  The jacket I decided to design from scratch, based on the doll's measurements, as the Elf is a slightly different shape to the rag dolls I've made, I kept the shape simple but I still think I owe Brandy a BIG "Thank You" for all the tips in her book, as the jacket was a pretty good fit too - I just had to adjust  the neck opening but as I was using felt, this was a simple matter of trimming to get a better shape.  Here's a photo of Mabel, the rag doll I made recently, who is rather cheekily flashing her bloomers...  it's surprising how many people have a sneaky look at her bloomers when they meet her so she decided to show them off for everyone to see!



The hat was straightforward as I've made a couple of clown hats for my bears before - I just had to make the pattern bigger - a LOT bigger!  I decided to finish the hat off with a bell, none of the bells in my stash was big enough, but Clare from The Summerhouse By The Sea, had a great suggestion and I'd like to thank my cat for donating a bell from one of his toys (I've since replaced it - also thanks to Clare x)  Here is a photo of the finished Elf...



It's really nice to have something ticked off my To-Do list, which seems to have grown lately instead of getting shorter, which is quite scary when it feels as though Christmas is approaching at breakneck speed!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A Busy Year - Why I've Been Away So Long...


I don't write a post for MONTHS, then suddenly two posts come along - a bit like buses - I thought it might be a good idea to explain why I've been quiet for so long.  Little did I know when I wrote that post in March, that within a matter days, I was going to be offered the chance to move at VERY short notice!

I've been trying to move for 16 years so you would have thought I'd have been ready for the opportunity - but no - despite having a bit of a de-clutter every now and again, I was completely unprepared, especially when I only had a couple of weeks between being offered a new home and moving in.

I'd lived in my old two bedroom flat with large loft space for over 22 years, so despite finding the loft difficult to access myself, that didn't stop others from popping boxes up there for me over the years and of course it all had to come down and be sorted through - sigh.

My new home is a lovely one bedroom flat with level access, so while I miss the extra bedroom/craft room as a place to store my crafting stash, I'd rarely actually crafted in there, preferring instead to craft in the living room... and here my new living space is noticeably bigger.

My cat on the other hand has had "issues" since we moved and the only way of keeping him chilled out seems to be a constant supply of Feliway - you really don't want to know what happens if I forget to buy a new refill for the diffuser!



 It didn't take Marley too long to discover which cupboard contained the cat food!


Life is very different for both of us here, there's a lot more activity going on around us than we're used to, and while I'm enjoying the sense of feeling more connected to the world, Marley doesn't seem to appreciate it as much - he hates dogs with a passion so I don't suppose being able to watch them trot along with their owners, probably no more than 12-15 feet from our window, is likely to do much for his peace of mind; and watching me occasionally fuss said dogs on my way in or out isn't likely to help either.  But he's gradually learning to cope and he seems enjoy having little conversations with neighbourhood cats, especially Milly Mogs from next door, who is a very pretty tortoiseshell.


I made Marley some extra hidey holes on the advice of the vet


The one thing I'd hoped for when I moved was my own garden, I would have loved a little outside space all to myself but it wasn't to be, but I am lucky enough that there is a flower bed under my front window and I've bought some spring bulbs to plant in there when I'm feeling up to it... and when I have a trowel to dig with - I forgot that when I bought the bulbs!  I was so excited when the first flower bloomed in the garden a few months ago - I have no idea what it was but it was very pretty...



We've had a few hiccups since we moved - including two months without a cooker, phone or internet but the move has been a good thing.  However none of it would have been possible without the help of my family and friends, who pitched in to help with the loft emptying, packing and unpacking and who all deserve the biggest Thank You!

I also had a great removal crew who put up curtain rails and curtains for me before they left; and a couple of helpful charity organisations came and collected surplus belongings, Freegle came in very useful for this too.  It was very sad to say goodbye to the great neighbours I'd known for many years but I'm happy to say we're still in touch and I'm lucky enough to have already made some lovely new friends from among my new neighbours.

It's funny how some of the silliest little things have made the biggest difference - being able to put the rubbish out without worrying about stairs; a kitchen where I don't have to stand at a funny angle at the sink, a shower attachment over the bath, and even a pretty flower in the garden (well flower bed).  Now I just need to unpack those last few boxes... and buy a trowel for those spring bulbs  :)


Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Bear Facts






Anyone who's read my blog will know that I love making miniature teddy bears.  They tend to be made intermittently depending on how well my hands are working.  I set myself a quota of at least 12 bears this year and even with everything else thats been going on, I've already achieved my goal, which has made me very happy!

I make my bears mainly for friends and family and usually have a number of people sitting patiently on my "Teddy To Do List".  When people reach the top of my list and if it's not a surprise gift, I often get asked the same questions, so this blog post is being written to address some of those queries.

Funnily enough I find miniature bears easier to sew than large ones - my left hand doesn't work as well as my right, so the smaller pieces are easier to hold than bigger bear bits and I can turn the small cotter pins I use for the neck joints, where I find the large ones impossible.  I also enjoy the challenge of working at this small scale.  I like to make sure my bears are as good as I can possibly make them so they are all hand sewn with extra strong thread and a lot of love.


I currently use three types of fabric for the main body of my bears.  All are made from synthetic fibres, as is the Ultrasuede fabric I use for the paws.  I use one basic teddy pattern which has a very traditional look and creates a bear who is approximately 8cm (3 1/4 inches) tall.  I have plans to create kitty and bunny patterns in the future, I just haven't got around to the drawing stage yet - thats on another To Do List.

1.  Cashmere
This fabric has the shortest pile but has a very touchable, soft and velvety feel, and it usually comes in a huge variety of colours...

   
Percy & Milly (made for a Hello Kitty fan) are both made from cashmere 


2.  English Velvet
I can't source this fabric anywhere at the moment.  I was lucky enough to be able to buy a small batch of this fabric a couple of years ago from a supplier who was retiring.  It has a longer pile than the cashmere and a slightly bristlier texture, though still very stroke-able.  I have much more limited colours in this, mainly natural browns and beiges, some slightly more golden shades, plus a green, a blue and a rose pink...

 
William & Raphael are both made from English velvet

3.  Sassy
This has the longest pile I currently work with.  It was developed in America specifically for miniature bears, it comes three types - frosty; long pile; and smoky - and a wide range of colours.

 
Bai & Clarabelle are both made from Sassy long pile

Frosted Sassy has a lot of colour in the base fabric but very little in the actual fur - Bai's arms, legs and ears are made from frosted fabric although as she's quite a light colour, the effect isn't too noticeable in her photo.  All coloured Sassy fabrics have been hand dyed (not by me - at least not yet...), except the white long pile and the natural grey smokey.

Sassy smokey has a dark base fabric which gives a different look, in the photo below you can see two bears - Pumpkin, who is made from cashmere and Greta, who is made from Sassy smoky, so its a good photo to see the differences in the different types of fabric...



I make a rule of never combining different types of fabric, but of course I do on occasion break my own rules - I was lucky with Sidney that it worked out, but I don't generally recommend mixing like this...



Sidney is made from a mixture of a leopard printed cashmere and an English velvet like fabric, both of which I don't seem to be able to find anymore, though I currently have a few remnants left.  And once in a while, I'll pick up a different piece of fabric, like I used for Herbert here...



I hope this post will help my friends to choose their new teddy bear friends.  At some point I'll do another post with some of the fabric colours I have in my stash and add a link on here.  If anyone has anymore questions, please feel free to ask.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Send A Little Love Swap

Taking part in a blog swap was one of my new things to try for this year and despite a few e-mail hiccups that meant my parcel was sent out a little later than planned, I really enjoying taking part and would love to do this again.

I heard about the swap I took part in on Mad About Bags.  It was lovely to get to know someone new - I was partnered with Jill from Love to Craft was was a lot more expert at putting together a themed swap than me!  I can't add in any photos of what I sent because I forget to take pictures before I parcelled everything up - hopefully I'll do better next time - including blogging about it much sooner too!

Anyway, the brief was to put together a parcel that included the following:

"Something heart shaped or themed
Something deliciously edible
Something handmade
Something red"


Jill did an amazing job of fulfilling the brief with lots of heart themed items...


Who wouldn't love getting an exciting parcel like this?


Especially when it's wrapped in giant bubble wrap?  Pop... pop... pop!  Yes - I admit I'm addicted to the stuff!    :)  :)  :)


And all these lovely co-ordinated parcels were inside  :)


A pretty heart shaped tin containing a heart shaped soap - mimosa and pomegranate - it smells lovely!  :)


Some pretty heart shaped post-it notes - they even match really well with the glass chopping board in my kitchen  :)


A wonderful heart shaped mirror - great timing as my son 'borrowed' my old compact mirror, I haven't seen it for some time!


I haven't eaten any of these for YEARS and I confess they've already gone!  :)


These have all gone too - they were absolutely delicious!  :)


Look at this pretty necklace - the pendant is made of glass.  I have no idea how they managed to get all those colourful glass pieces inside but I love it!  :)


Nail varnish containing hundreds and hundreds of teeny-tiny shiny red hearts - how cool is that?  :)


A fantastically glittery purse/pencil case - it's going to make my crafting pens much easier to find... you wouldn't believe how long it took me to find a black fabric pen on a dark green carpet after my cat knocked it off the table and it rolled (or was pushed by a playful paw) under my sofa - never again!  :)


I haven't decided how I'm going to use this great ribbon yet, I'll have to think up a nice new project to work on once I've finished my current WIP's  :)


Last but not least - a very cute and comfy (I know because I've already worn them) pair of socks - hearts and birdies - so much more exciting than the plain white socks I usually wear  :)


Included with the parcel was this beautiful card.  :)

Jill must have put an awful lot of thought and effort into gathering together all these wonderfully well themed and thought about gifts - a HUGE Thank You Jill, it brightened my day when your parcel arrived, it continues to make me smile whenever I see or use one of the items and I think they will continue to brighten my days for a long time to come.
xxx

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Glass Fusing

Last weekend I attended a morning workshop which taught the skills of glass fusing.  The process of fusing glass in a kiln takes too long for us to have been able to see it happen, but our tutor talked us through the process of both fusing glass fully, and tack fusing. She took us through all the health and safety precautions we needed to know about, the properties of and the different types of glass.  She showed us some examples of jewellery pieces she had made, and then she let us loose to make our own pieces.

Yesterday I received an e-mail letting me know that my work was ready for collection, so I just HAD to go and get it straight away - I couldn't bear to wait for someone to collect it for me once I knew it was ready!

Some of my pieces turned out just as I'd imagined them, while others produced rather more unexpected results.  I'd put together seven pieces and chose to have some fully fused and some tack fused.  I some cases making a couple similar items and having one fused one way and one the other...


This was my first piece - I spent ages cutting small pieces of glass to fit!  Despite the tutor explaining how glass reacts in the kiln, I didn't really expect it to change shape so drastically!  I think it now resembles a kind of glass boomerang!  I'm thinking that I might have a go at wire wrapping this piece so I can hang it in my window as the colours are pretty even if the shape is a little strange!


My second piece was tack fused and has maintained it's original shape with less rounding of the edges. The finish is not as smooth but I love the shape and texture.


Again with these pieces, one was tacked and the other was fully fused, this time using opalescent glass instead of translucent - and again, I prefer the piece that retains some of the shape of the original glass.

However with my last piece, it had to be fully fused and I love it.  It's a combination of opalescent and fracture and streamer glass with small pieces of copper foil sandwiched between...


The photos above show the before and after fusing, the light here today has been very changeable and I don't think any of the photos do justice to what the glass looks like in reality.  The copper turned a deep red just as the tutor said it would.  I had a feeling this was going to be my favourite piece when I was making it and it really is... I'm now waiting impatiently for some suitable glue to arrive so I can attach a bail and start wearing it!

The last piece I made was similar to this but I sandwiched some knitted wire in the middle and tried cut a small piece of copper in the shape of a bird - not easy to do with a very big pair of scissors!  Sadly something went wrong in the kiln and the top piece of glass moved before it fused which is a shame...


I think I've learned just as much, if not more, from what didn't work as I have from what did.  I'm now looking around for other courses so I can learn more.  I've always loved working with glass and was upset when I had to stop working with stained glass when my hands started playing up.  But working at this scale is so much easier - I find smaller bears put less strain on my hands too.  So maybe one day I'll be working with glass again - that definitely makes my happy list!  :)



Sunday, 2 February 2014

A 7th Week of Happiness...

It's obviously going to take me longer than a year to get through this as some weeks I don't feel well enough to blog, but I don't think that really matters - its about changing the way you think, its about looking for things that make you smile, even if they are small things and sometimes even in the face of adversity!  I think those are the times when it's even more important to find something positive to be thankful for.

This week, it's been pretty easy to find things to be happy about - it was my birthday a few days ago and I've been overwhelmed by the kindness of others, especially as I haven't been very good at keeping track of other peoples birthdays over the past few years, which is something I really need to work on.  The two shelves above my television are crowded with beautiful birthday cards which make me smile every time I look at them, they are a reminder that I am fortunate to have some wonderful friends and family.  :)

On my birthday I had lunch with two friends I've known since I was 8 years old, we went to a lovely little cafe in an ex-coastguard station perched on top of the cliffs in the village where we grew up.  It was pretty cold and blustery so I took a photo of our view across the English Channel through the window from the comfort of our table in the tearoom...



I've noticed that every few years, I go down to the Bay on my birthday, so here is a photo from this year's visit...


It's the first time I've been out with my "big camera" for ages and it actually felt pretty good to be taking proper photos again  :)

I've completed my bear for January thanks to a small piece of pale green sheer fabric from one of my friends which I used for one side of the wings.  The bear is going in an exhibition at my local library next week which is being put on by the craft club I attend there once a fortnight.  Being a library based group we took some of our inspiration from books and this little bear is my take on Tinkerbell from Peter Pan...



Yesterday, I went to a morning workshop on making fused glass jewellery.  It's a shame that I can't find any cool courses like this locally but this one took place in the town where my sister lives so it was a great opportunity to spend some time with family.  It was a long and tiring day but absolutely wonderful and I don't even care that I can barely move today!

Years ago, I used to enjoy making things from stained glass until my hands started playing up to much, but was pleased to discover yesterday that I remembered how to cut glass successfully and as I've found with my bear-making, cutting small pieces is a lot easier.  It'll probably be a few weeks before I get my finished pieces back as firing glass takes too long to have got our pieces back the same day so I'm waiting very impatiently and with great excitement to see what the finished result will look like.


The photo above shows one of the pieces I'm most excited about.  The tutor told us that pieces of copper turn a beautiful deep burnished red when sandwiched between two pieces of glass.  I wanted to try this and chose a piece of white glass for the background, with a piece of "fracture and streamer" glass on top.  I thought the top piece I cut reminded me of reeds or tall grasses so I cut some tiny leaf shapes from the copper.  I'll post more pictures once I get my finished pieces back.


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Resolutions

I don't usually make resolutions because I'm not very good at keeping them, but this year so many of my friends were making 14 resolutions for 2014 that I thought I would have a go at making some too.

I wanted to use a Dungeness photo here and this was the only one I could find on my computer, it's not the most exciting photo of the place, which is beautiful, desolate and surreal, but maybe appropriate for today's theme of looking back and looking forward...

Now we're nearly a month into the New Year, I thought I'd share my list and how I'm doing so far...


  1. Try to make at least one bear a month - I don't know about you but I've been feeling really flat this month and struggling to get going with my crafting after the big push to complete Christmas presents in time, but I may just manage to finish my current bear by the end of the month so I might be on track for this one  :)
  2. Rehome the last of Sue's things - it will soon be a year since my friend died but I still have a couple of things to deliver.  I just need to recontact the people concerned and make a bit more effort on this one.
  3. Visit Wildwood - a proper visit this time, and I promise to take my camera and share some photos with you.  It's such a special place, well worth a visit  :)
  4. A photo day in Dungeness - another great place to visit, I've been promising myself a return visit for about two years, so it's about time I got around to it!
  5. Stop lending (giving) son money!  This is a hard one as he's one of the most disorganised people on the planet, but he needs to learn to stand on his own two feet and keep helping him out isn't doing much for my finances.  Tough love is VERY hard and I've broken this one already, but I'm slowly getting better at it.
  6. Try to go to the pool more often - I was never a confident swimmer and these days I can rarely even bring myself to let go of the rail!  I go to a very warm pool just a few miles away when I do go, but haven't been well enough so far this year, so complete fail on this one so far  :(
  7. Be more organised - I've managed on the whole to keep on top of a couple of target tasks, so I'm going to count this one as a success  :)
  8. Try a new craft - hopefully this will be another success as I'm booked on a one morning workshop this weekend  :)
  9. Tackle the paperwork pile - well I've started, and even taken a bag full of shredded paper for recycling so another success  :)
  10. Declutter - I've done a bit of decluttering recently with the help of Freegle, so I'm going to count this one as a success.  :)
  11. Go to bed earlier and try to get up earlier - hmmm... I've been sleeping so badly that I think I'll call this one a work in progress.
  12. Make more effort to keep in touch with family and friends - I think this will have to count as a work in progress too as I've already missed sending a couple of birthday cards  :/
  13. Join in a craft blog swap - I'm actually working on this one!  I'm registered with a swap, I have a swap partner and I've even gathered together some items I've made so this one should be a success!  :)
  14. Eat more healthily - this is obviously a long term goal and ignoring today's rather haphazard diet, I have been working on this one.  It's my birthday this week so I'm not going to get stressed if friends or family feed me a chocolate muffin or a Crunchie bar (guilty on both counts) but on the whole I've been doing quite well at cutting down on unhealthy snacks and have so far lost around 6 lbs  :)
So on the whole I've been doing quite well I think so I don't think my resolutions are going to be a complete disaster.  Maybe this year I've been more realistic with my tasks?  Looking at the list, I seem to have set a range of long and short-term goals, some of which I don't need to tackle straight away and I'm not giving myself a hard time over any slips.  It will be interesting to take another look at the list at the end of the year to see how I feel about my list then.  I wonder if I'll be able to say I succeeded with all my tasks?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Jaffa - My Awesome Friend!

I know I haven't posted for a while, my son gave me a virus for Christmas and it took me a while to recover.  I haven't been crafting much lately either, but hopefully I'll get back to crafting AND blogging very soon.  This post is a little different, I'm not writing it because I want sympathy, but as a celebration for the life of a wonderful cat who I loved dearly.

I first met Jaffa as I walked my son home from his first day at school.  My son was always rather obsessed by cats and wanted to make friends with every cat he met, unfortunately in those early days of our relationship with Jaffa, he wasn't too impressed with our attempts at getting to know him - in fact it would be no exaggeration to say he hated us and probably every other human in existence!

One thing we did notice on our daily walks past his house was that his food bowl was kept in the front garden and that sometimes when it rained the dish would fill with water and stay that way for a couple of days, so we started buying cat food and throwing it for our ungrateful new friend from a distance because he would hiss, spit and strike out if you got too close.  One day, a couple of years on, I noticed that Jaffa had one of his front legs trapped under his collar and he was struggling frantically to free himself.  I tried to help him but couldn't do it alone, so I knocked on his owner's door.  Luckily someone was home and between us we managed to take the collar off and that was when I learned our little furry friend/fiend was called Jaffa.  He seemed to be warming to us a little after that, so my son suggested I should try to stroke him - I waited till his mouth was full of cat biscuits before I tried and thankfully survived unscathed.

After that, both Jaffa and I became braver and I think we both used to look forward to our daily meetings.  Sometimes after dropping my son off at school, I would sit on the pavement and Jaffa would climb onto my lap for a cuddle.  This went on for several more years until one day, he just wasn't there anymore!  We were so worried that something had happened to him but then we met one of Jaffa's neighbour's in town who told us that he was now living at a local cat sanctuary.  Well as you can imagine, both my son and I wanted to go and see how our little furry friend was doing.  I didn't drive back then, but one of our neighbours offered to drive us over and I don't know who was the happiest - him or us - and I'm sure you've guessed by now that within two days, Jaffa had moved into our home.


The top right photo above was taken on the day he moved in, in fact it was taken within the first hour that he was under our roof.  When he arrived and was taken out of the travel box, he gave us a sniff, he stalked from room to room to get his bearings (or maybe just to be nosey), then he jumped onto the sofa, into the seat nearest the radiator (it was February) and as you can see, he made himself right at home!

I worried a lot in the early days that he wouldn't settle into living indoors after so many years outside, but he never wanted to go outside again.  The one and only time I took him downstairs onto our courtyard, he climbed onto my lap as I sat on the outside step and he was trembling so much that I quickly took him back indoors again and apart from the very regular vet trips in the last year of his life, he remained indoors for the rest of his life.

We had almost five wonderful years together before he journeyed across the Rainbow Bridge.  He was my constant companion whenever I was home, like a small furry shadow.  He was completely food obsessed, you can see him begging for a piece of chicken in the middle right photo; and see him drinking from his preferred water bowl in the bottom left photo - I tried everything I could think of to stop that particular habit, even tried giving him bottled water, but nothing worked, it was just one of his little quirks.  The top right photo shows him on top of the fridge, I have a very small kitchen and the fridge has to sit on the worktop as I have a freezer that lives where a fridge should be.  He only ever climbed on top of the fridge that one time - it had taken him ages to figure out how, he once did the same with the television too and sat himself carefully among the cat ornaments I kept there.

These days I share my home with another awesome cat, he's very different in looks and character from Jaffa for which I'm grateful.  I love Marley dearly, but there was just something about Jaffa that I still miss to this day - six years and three days after losing him!

After he died, I couldn't bear the thought of just walking away, so I asked for his ashes to be returned.  I would have liked to have buried them in a nice sunny spot but I don't have a garden, so his ashes are still with me.  Maybe one day I'll have a little garden where he can be laid to rest.

I would say to anyone who is thinking about getting a pet, check out your local animal rescue centre.  The connection you can develop with a rescued animal is amazing.  I've grown up with cats and dogs, we were never without pets when I was a child, but the best relationships I've ever had with any pet has always been with those who have been rescued.  I probably would never have considered taking on an eleven year old cat if I hadn't known him before he needed a new home but I'll never regret taking Jaffa into my home, he was such a gentleman  :) and I would definitely consider taking on an older cat again in the future.  Everyone loves kittens, but older cats need love too and if you find room in your heart and your home for an older cat, I found the rewards were definitely worth it and I hope you do too.