Tuesday 29 June 2021


Hello, thank you for dropping in.  I had the most wonderful weekend: I went to a family party, held to celebrate the 21st birthday of a nephew.  A carefully managed invitation list meant that we fell just within the thirty person limit on garden gathering numbers and double vaccinations meant that there was a lot of hugging.  It was wonderful to be together again for the first time in more than eighteen months but there was also sadness as we were not all together: The Mathematician is still stuck on Guernsey and watching my sisters and cousins with all their children around them emphasised the black hole in my family.   Also missing were a significant aunt and uncle, kept away from the rest of us by illness, the elephant in the garden.  Apart from those absences, there was everything I love about our family gatherings:  lovely chat, reminiscence, music, singing, great food, plenty of fizz and a super duper cake.  I have been basking in a warm glow ever since, but it's time to come back down to earth.

"Craftivism" is a word I heard for the first time only a few months ago when I watched a documentary fronted by Jenny Eclair.  (I have a great soft spot for Jenny Eclair because before she became famous she came to my college and performed in the student union bar.  I had never seen a female comedian before and I had never found any comedian so funny before.  I completely connected and it was a revelation.)  Craftivism is a portmanteau of the words "craft" and "activism" and it's a form of gentle protest in which craft skills are used to advance social causes.  I have some basic craft skills and I always wanted to change the world so the documentary was right up my street.  Afterwards, I searched around the internet and found this website and its social media pages and I began to get a bit excited.

A couple of weeks ago we landed in Cervical Cancer Awareness Week.  Smear tests can prevent 75% of cervical cancers from developing but UK attendance rates are lower than they have been for more than twenty years and the campaign aims to address that and encourage women to book and attend tests.  Apparently, some women don't attend tests because they feel that they are not sufficiently "well-groomed" and the We Are All Smear Ready campaign addresses that myth in an attempt to overcome barriers caused by embarrassment and negative body image.  The campaign invites people to craft tiny pairs of pants and leave them in public places with an information label - at least, that's what has happened in the past, but for the last couple of years the craftivists have been asked to simply photograph their tiny pants and labels and share them on social media.  I decided that if Jenny Eclair could do it, so could I.

Cath Kidston (the company, not the person) sent me a letter a fortnight ago printed on very pretty paper which I immediately realised would make some lovely tiny pants and even better, the envelope was similarly patterned but its other side was red.  

Armed with a template, scissors and glue I watched a Facebook makealong at the beginning of Cervical Cancer Awareness Week and fashioned that pretty paper into several tiny pairs of pants, decorating each pair with some lace and a teeny, tiny bow.  They were so pretty that I wished they were real pants that I could wear.  

The following day I went out to meet some friends at a tea room with my tiny pants and a label in my bag.  At an appropriate moment I took my bag into the ladies' loo, trying very hard to look nonchalant.  I had intended to stick my handiwork onto the inside of the cubicle door, thinking that it would be the perfect place as women always sit down and look at the door when we are in a cubicle, but the door was made of wood and very beautiful and I was worried that my sticky tape would spoil its lovely surface so instead, I stuck it on the tiles (easily wiped) next to the mirror.  Luckily there was nobody else around so I was able to take my photo carefully before sauntering out of the door in a casual manner as if everything were perfectly normal and I hadn't just performed my first act of guerilla craftivism.  Inside, I was flying and I felt tremendously liberated. Go me!  I really did feel as if I should have been wearing sunglasses, a large, floppy hat and a turned-up collar.  I fully expected the staff to remove my tiny pants at the end of the day but if one person saw it before that happened, it was worth it (although I feel a tiny bit sad at the thought of those beautiful, tiny paper pants being thrown away).  Later that day I posted my photo on Instagram and another on Facebook and I know that people have seen them.  I did it, I raised awareness and I am a craftivist!

Craftivism: Making A Difference is still available on the BBC iPlayer if you'd like to know more. I'm working on my next project.

See you soon.

Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x  

Friday 25 June 2021

On Midsummer Day

Hello, thank you for calling in.  Is all well?  Yesterday was the first day this month that I failed to get outside to commune with nature but while I was indoors I read some of A Midsummer Night's Dream - after all, it was Midsummer Day - and I reckon that counts because of all its references to plants.  Here's a rather lovely quote:

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough briar,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moone’s sphere;
And I serve the Fairy Queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslip tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats, spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.

It's rather lovely, isn't it?  The next time you see a cowslip, have a look inside the yellow flowers and you will find those rubies, and while I'm on the subject, if you look inside the flowers of a white deadnettle you will find the golden dancing slippers which the fairies wear to balls.  Honestly, you will.  Please don't say that you don't believe in fairies because if you do...well, if you are familiar with Peter Pan, you know what will happen!

See you soon.

Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Monday 21 June 2021

Summer Has Arrived

Hello, thank you for calling in and thank you for the kind comments left on my last post.  I am slowly catching up with your blogs.  The weather here has improved and June is turning out to be much drier, warmer and sunnier than May.  We were forecast rain on Wednesday and it finally arrived on Saturday evening, very light rather than the expected storms, but persistent and the ground was wet when we woke up on Sunday.  The garden is grateful. I have kept up my intention of spending some time outdoors every day and every buzzing bee and trilling bird has been a delight.  During one exciting day I saw both a skylark and a red kite!  I have never seen a skylark before but the Best Beloved says that the song of a skylark is the sound of his childhood springs and early summers so I identified the distinctive sound easily after watching the bird rise over the field and flutter its wings furiously as it hovered.  I was also very happy to hear that the swifts are back - I always hear them before I look up to see them and I know that summer is almost here when I do.  

For the first time in several years we have foxgloves in the garden and the bumble bees are thrilled.  They had to wait longer than usual for the geraniums and weigela they love to flower this year, presumably because of the cold weather in April and May, and for the first time ever the mock orange blossom is flowering at the same time as the weigela so the garden looks different, as if she is wearing all her best clothes at the same time.  Its scent almost knocks me out in the evenings, I think the philadelphus is my favourite June flower.

So here we are on 21st June, the longest day of the year, and I set the alarm early so that I could watch the summer solstice sunrise.  The temperature was eight degrees and I noticed that there was a touch of frost on the cars as I sat on the front doorstep and listened to the dawn chorus which was almost deafening, although the only bird I saw was a crow which flew down the street.  In the distance, a cockerel was crowing, greeting the summer.  

See you soon.

Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Tuesday 8 June 2021

30 Days Wild - Week One

Hello!  I didn't mean to stay away for so long but May got on top of me and I retreated.  However, I have come home from a half term camping trip feeling relaxed, revived and ready to face the world again. 

I have decided to have another go at 30 Days Wild, the annual campaign run by The Wildlife Trusts which encourages us to do one wild thing each day during the month of June.  I have participated in this before but never completed it, rain usually defeating me, but so far, it's going well.  This year, 123,129 people have registered with the campaign, doing something to put themselves in touch with the natural world every day.

We were camping on The Lizard in Cornwall last week which made it easy.  The campsite is rural with lovely mature trees and hedgerows, reached at the end of a mile-long, single-track lane through the Gwendreath Valley.  Each morning I awoke to clamouring birdsong and stepped outside the tent, barefoot, onto grass which was still wet with dew.  I watched the daisies open out their petals as the morning sun touched them.  One morning, an unfamiliar butterfly landed on my t-shirt and sat there for a while (I think it was a fritillary but I don't know which one).  One evening I spent quite a long time examining the lichens on the trees around our pitch.  At night, an owl hooted.   Campers are very aware of the weather and on the hot, sunny days we went to the beach, watched the light change over the water, lay in the warmth of the sun and listened to the rhythm of the waves as they landed on the shore.  I paddled in the shallows of cool, clear water and poked about in rock pools.  On the day the sun didn't shine, we noticed the mist over the water and watched it thin out.  I spent some mindful minutes contemplating all this every day, although most of the time I simply enjoyed it.

Returning home, my acts of wildness require more effort.  On Day 6 I visited my friend in the local hospice and stepped outside when staff needed to attend to her.  The garden is beautifully planted in a cottage style and I sat and watched great tits and dunnocks on the bird feeders while a grey squirrel scampered around on the ground, picking up the dropped seeds.  Now that I have no cats, perhaps I will set up a bird feeding station?  I didn't want to do it before because it didn't seem fair.  On Day 7 I met with two other friends in a garden.  As we drank tea and listened to the birdsong I told them about 30 Days Wild and one of them slipped off her shoes to feel the grass beneath her feet. 

These acts of wildness don't need to be grand.  I couldn't go to a beach today but I could take a mug of tea into my garden, listen to the birds, watch the bees and think about my relationship with the natural world.  I could sit down, slip off my shoes and read a book.  If it rains tomorrow, I could sit in the summerhouse with the doors open, listen to the raindrops and smell the petrichor.  It's all about connexion.

See you soon.  Take care and stay safe.

Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x