Jewellery brand of the month: Kaiju Candy

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This month’s brand is yet another based Down Under. Kaiju Candy is the brainchild of Donna Mizzi and her husband Christian. Donna used to run Heidi and Gretel (I have a couple of H&G designs). Her new venture is bright, colourful and fun. Kaiju Candy say:

“We are inspired by Japanese Kaiju monsters, kitschy horror movies, carnival freaks and the strange.

We also love all things Aussie and like to create kooky versions of some of our fave local furry and feathered friends.”

Kaiju Candy

The store itself doesn’t offer international shipping, but various stockists are available, including Lottie & Lu who are based in the UK.

I own the Audrey II brooch from Heidi and Gretel; this Mean Green Mother brooch is completely different but equally awesome.

Mean Green Mother Brooch

Mean Green Mother Brooch

This terrifying clown brooch is absolutely incredible, and you can get matching balloons too.

Clown and Red Balloon Brooch

Clown and Red Balloon Brooch

This crab brooch is really sweet, despite the name.

Attack of the Monster Crab Brooch

Attack of the Monster Crab Brooch

Halloween fans will love this cute little cat in a party hat.

Spooky Party Cat Brooch

Spooky Party Cat Brooch

Finally, the Finger Monster brooch brings back memories of my childhood!

Finger Monster Brooch

Finger Monster Brooch

Check out Kaiju Candy, including news on new releases, via the links below.

Online store: kaijucandy.bigcartel.com

Lottie & Lu (UK stockist): lottieandlu.co.uk/collections/kaiju-candy

Instagram: instagram.com/kaijucandy

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Hetton Historical Walk (Heritage Open Days)

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Hetton-le-Hole Walking Map

Hetton-le-Hole Walking Map

With the onset of September it was time once again for the national Heritage Open Days, which take place each year up and down the country. This year I happened to be at home, but being too lazy to get myself to Newcastle or Durham to check out what was on offer, I ended up only attending one event. This was a historic walk around Hetton-le-Hole, where several members of my family live, grew up and are otherwise associated with.

1872 school house

1872 school house

We met at Hetton Centre, a fairly recent building that happens to be on the site of the old Hetton Hall. The exact date of the Hall’s construction is uncertain but it was built in the classical style. It had become dilapidated by the end of the nineteenth century and was demolished in 1923. We headed to the centre of Hetton, passing the old school house (opened in 1872), before stopping off at the point where the first moving locomotives ran, taking coal from Lyons Colliery to the River Wear.

Signpost towards the Wear

Signpost towards the Wear

The street is still named Railway Street, and just beyond there are still sleepers from the Hetton Railway. The line was surveyed by George Stephenson in 1822 and was supervised by his brother Robert. Our guide took us to nearby Fairy Street, and explained that it was so-called because of the large hillock here nicknamed the Fairy Cradle, which supposedly dated from the Iron Age.

Fairy Street

Fairy Street

We stopped off at the Primitive Methodist Chapel. Primitive Methodism reached Hetton in 1823 and this chapel was opened in 1858. I’ve been here plenty of times over the years for weddings and funerals, but this was the first time I had the chance to look around and take things in from a historical point of view. The church was built entirely by the miners. Interestingly, there used to be a public house attached to the church – not owned by it, just next door – somewhat ironic as Methodists are teetotal!

Primitive Methodist Chapel

Primitive Methodist Chapel

Inside the Chapel

Inside the Chapel

Heading beyond down the road we ended up in a part of town I’d never seen before, and a beautiful though rather run-down building, the former Pavilion Theatre and Cinema, built by Ralph Barton in 1909. The first manager was Linden Travers, father of the actor Bill Travers.

Pavilion Theatre and Cinema

Pavilion Theatre and Cinema

We then stopped at the site of the former Anglican church, now sadly reduced to rubble. A nearby house (Laburnum House) has a blue plaque with details about Nicholas Wood, friend and colleague of George Stephenson, co-founder of the Institute of Mining, and partner in the Hetton Coal Company from 1844, whose grave is in the nearby churchyard.

Site of Anglican Church

Site of Anglican Church

Nicholas Wood's blue plaque

Nicholas Wood’s blue plaque

Nicholas Wood's grave

Nicholas Wood’s grave

Crossing the road, we passed the Wesleyan Chapel in Front Street (built in 1824) then ventured towards the oldest part of town, taking in Hetton House, one of the oldest houses in the town, dating from approximately the 1720s and bought by the Lyon family (the Earls of Strathmore) in 1746. The house has two extensions, one dating from the 19th century and one from the 20th. It was most recently used as council offices and closed in 2010. Nearby is the former Standard Theatre, built in 1874. It was converted to a bus garage in 1916.

Wesleyan Chapel

Wesleyan Chapel

Hetton House

Hetton House

The tour ended in style as we stopped at the 18th-century Old Smithy which has recently opened up for occasional open days once again. I really enjoyed the tour and I learned a lot.

Old Smithy

Old Smithy

Old Smithy

Old Smithy

Inside the smithy

Inside the smithy

What I did on my holidays (trip up north, to be precise)

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North

North

My week mainly consisted of naps, to be honest. However, during my week at home I also did the following:

Read books
I read War and Peace and the whole of the Enid Blyton ‘Adventure’ series. A bit of a contrast there. W&P was the Maude’s translation in a cute little three-volume edition by Collector’s Library. The Blyton series is the one starring Kiki the parrot, who was always one of my favourite characters, and inspired me with the desire to own a pet parrot (as well as somewhat unrealistic expectations of what parrots are actually capable of).

I also reread a book I discovered a few years ago, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, which is wonderful.

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House

Dieted
Thanks to my mam, who was on a health kick. In fairness it wasn’t too bad, and we discovered one recipe for macaroni cheese made from Primula Light cheese and mustard, which was amazing. I also ate much more fruit than I usually do, and enough miniature chocolate bars to form several whole ones.

Attended pub quizzes
Two, to be precise. One was my dad’s quiz, which we won, no thanks to me. My dad’s quizzes are HARD. The other was at a pub near to where my parents live. My mam and I went with one of her friends from the estate and said friend’s mother, who was eighty-nine, had never been to a pub quiz before, and was very excited about it. We did fairly well on this one, and I don’t think the three bottles of wine we consumed had too much of a negative effect.

Popped down to Seaham
My mam and I drove down to Seaham to go for a walk and check out the shops. The highlight was undoubtedly a trip to Lickety Split. They do GINGER NUT ICE CREAM.

Seaham harbour

Seaham harbour

Visited some new bars in Newcastle
Newcastle has really changed since I was last there. I went for a friend’s birthday and we started off in The Alchemist which does amazing cocktails.

Me at the Alchemist

Me at The Alchemist

Between us we had one that looked like a miniature bubble bath, one that resembled a science experiment and one that looked like water but which tasted of different things as you drank it. We then moved on to The Botanist which is simply gorgeous.

The Botanist, Newcastle

The Botanist, Newcastle

Celebrated Heritage Open Days
With a tour around Hetton-le-Hole, on which more in my next blog post…

Jewellery brand of the month: Winnifreds Daughter

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This month’s brand is another Aussie-based maker, whose gorgeous designs are available on Etsy:

Winnifreds Daughter

I really wish postage to the UK from Australia wasn’t so high, or else I’d buy more beauties like these! These gorgeous brooches (and there are some earrings too) are designed by Jessica Davis.

Top of my list is this Oz-inspired key brooch.

Out of the Storm Brooch

Out of the Storm Brooch

I also love this adorable Alice caterpillar brooch.

Afternoon Puff Brooch

Afternoon Puff Brooch

This bunny and carrot brooch is seriously sweet.

Balancing Act Brooch

Balancing Act Brooch

Detective show fans will love this Murder, She Wrote brooch.

Ask Jessica Brooch

Ask Jessica Brooch

This cute little caterpillar adequately expresses how feel some days! He is also fully poseable.

Exhausted Caterpillar Brooch

Exhausted Caterpillar Brooch

This little snail brooch has a bag of post just for you.

Mail Snail Brooch

Mail Snail Brooch

Check out Winnifreds Daughter via the links below.

Etsy: etsy.com/uk/shop/WinnifredsDaughter

Facebook: facebook.com/winnifredsdaughter

Instagram: instagram.com/winnifreds_daughter

Wreck This Journal – a review

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I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who fill pages and pages of journals with intelligent drawings and pretty pictures. However, I am hampered in this desire by the unmistakable fact that I simply cannot draw. My people have never progressed beyond stick men and my animals all look like the children’s drawings IKEA turned into soft toys a few years ago. My brother got all the artistic talent in my family.

Anyway, I decided to give Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal a go. Smith is an author, illustrator and artist who created this ‘alternative journal’ to help people “engage with the creative process”. It’s full of suggestions that invite you to mess up or destroy the journal in various ways: tearing out pages, immersing it in water, rolling it down a hill. As someone who won’t even bend the spines of her books, the thought of all this made me shudder: but perhaps it would be liberating?

Short answer: no. Some of the prompts were ones I rather enjoyed. Generally these were the ones involving less destruction and more colour: painting a page with nail varnish or lipstick or some such.

Some of the prompts require you to tear pages out of the book. It seemed a bit wasteful to me, but I duly complied.

I cringed when requested to mark a page with dirt, especially when said dirt had to come from a dusty car. Standing on a pavement next to a random car, looking carefully to make sure no one was around before surreptitiously rubbing my book on the side, was possibly my most embarrassing moment of the project.

My very favourite was the one that asks you to fill a page with one word written over and over. I found this quite enjoyable, suggesting my heart really does belong to writing.

Well, I’ve completed the book, and I’m not too sure what to do with it now. It’s far too messy to put it in a drawer with my old diaries. I’ll probably just chuck it out, to be honest.

What have I learned from wrecking my journal? Mainly it’s reinforced that destruction really isn’t for me. I’m not an artist and I don’t want to be. Give me words any day.

If you think this book sounds brilliant, you’re probably right: lots of people love it. If not, you might be like me, and that’s also okay. Honest.