Monday, 30 June 2014

Inside the other Funicular Railway

As you saw yesterday, we went on the cliff railway in the old part of Hastings and I told you there were two of these Funicular railways.

Well here is the other. It has a tunnel which gave opportunity for some lovely photographs (if  I do say so myself).

I have upped the colours a little but only a little as it really is rather dramatic in there.
Or if you prefer, we can down the colours and it looks just as compelling!

And here it is with the other engine coming the opposite direction.

Then finally the view as we emerge into the light and near the exit at the top.

From the top of this railway you can see the ruined castle in one direction and visit the tea rooms or the Smugglers Cave Exhibition (inside the cliff) in the other.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Funicular Railway

A WHAT railway I hear you ask???

 My Dad always joked (as Dad's so often do), when I was a kid that it was called a 'funny-colour railway' so I didn't know how to spell it when I started the blog page and had to Google 'cliff railway' to find the spelling.

It is this...

A nearly vertical railway that runs up the side of the very steep cliff, this one in Hastings. Here are some pics on the way up.

It has a very cute little building on the front of it,

and the view you get from the top is great. there's a nature reserve up there too for grassy cliff-top walks.

Here is a picture of the cute little ticket office at the front where you start.

The town has two of these railways. This is the one in Hastings Old Town, our favourite bit. For more Hastings sights, check out the lovely B&B we stayed in

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Need for Tweed!

I popped into a local charity shop while out grocery shopping for emergencies (sandwiches and strawberry milk for daughter who had just finished last exam and was desperately, stomach rumblingly hungry!) and found this!

It was a large piece of tweed remnant for only £6! It's slightly bigger than a large bed cover so really good value at that price. Of course it won't be used by me for clothing, but there are all sorts of other ideas bubbling in my head... frogs, foxes, owls...

I started cutting one of the above out last night at about 11.30pm, so I'll keep you posted on the results!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Evil Hypnotizer

It's been a while since we featured a Socklet from Sockletania, so let's go to the heart of the menace that stalks the kingdom.

This is the Evil Hypnotizer who... erm... hypnotizes people and is evil.

The Kingdom of Sockletania is ruled by a kindly King and Queen 

who do not realize they are being controlled by their Chief Adviser (as is, sadly, so often the case in these fairy-tale kingdoms), with his evil hypnotic power. In fact the entire palace falls under his influence except for its newest member and greatest hope!
 But I've said too much! SSShhhhh! Don't tell anyone. I fear for my safety. He's ruthless!

He carries a watch in one hand (to work his power on unsuspecting people... um... I mean Socklets) and a key in the other to lock up any who are resistant to his powers! (OH Oh!)

For more Sockletania characters and blogs, checkout these

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Miniature Library in a Box

You know me: I can't resist a box. If I see one, even in a supermarket and have no earthly use for it, I am hard-pushed to leave the store without it. And when it comes to tiny cute ones I'm even worse!

This box is a pressed cardboard one that is about 10cms by 6cms. It was that dirty brown-paper colour when I bought it so I painted it up to look like fake wood, made 'brass' papery corners held on with brads (arty paper fasteners), installed a shelf and then filled it with mini books.

I did try selling them at a craft fair raising money for charity but, apart from one sale,  ... it interests no one but me  = (

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Matchbox Weaponry

I said I had an idea didn't I? One that had just leapt into my head and I'd keep you posted as to how I got on... well I've done it!

 I have made a small catapult (slingshot?) that fits into a matchbox!

I'm not saying you could make it exactly like this as my slingshot is made from a bit from a dead alarm clock that I took apart... everything from it will be useful eventually I'm sure, but you could still try it with the traditional
 Y-shaped stick.

I started with decorating the matchbox thus...

with my trusty Cropodile to make holes and set eyelets,

just to give it a slightly military, 'in the field' look.

Then tied a cut elastic band to each end of the Y-shaped metal and found relevant ammunition that can travel the distance but do no harm: NEVER let it be said that I'm dangerous!

And the final result...

What's the range? I hear you cry. Well I managed 3 metres, that's not bad for a fluffy pom pom! 

For previous miniature weapons look back a few pages or click on these:

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Miniature Catapult

Here is the second part in the series of mini-weapons (and last at present as I haven't been looking for any more). It's a catapult (trebuchet - or is that something else?). 

(For other mini weapon post see

This is not the Y shaped stick version of a catapult but a simple firing devise made with lolly sticks, elastic bands and a plastic spoon.

The coloured fluffy pom-poms are the ammunition: light enough to go the distance but unlikely to cause any damage when they hit!

This is the first model and is made using all lolly sticks for the base. Firstly I fixed four turquoise sticks together at both ends with elastic bands and put them to one side. Then I fixed one end of the two purple sticks together likewise. After that I opened the other end of the purple sticks by pushing the turquoise bundle of sticks in as far as it will go. To hold both the turquoise sticks and the spoon  in place, twist a band across the centre. To finish, twist a band nearer the head end of the spoon.

The other type is fixed in the same way but as it uses a spare piece of dowel, needs less bands and lolly sticks. Its also less broad and fits more neatly in a pocket.

The best firing position for catapult one is to place it at the edge of a table with the spoon head overhanging so it can be bent back further. Hold either the turquoise or bottom purple sticks firmly down while bending and releasing the spoon head. 
The second catapult can easily be held between the first and second fingers and used on the run: held with one hand and fired with the other by squeezing the spoon head and bottom stick together. 

If you are prepared to clear up the mess... you can use mini marshmallows as ammunition!  Enjoy!

Ooh! I've just had an idea for something even smaller... will keep you posted if it works!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Miniature Bow and Arrow

This is so cute, easy and cheap to make. The original is out there on the internet (thank you whoever you are), I found it by accident on a Pinterest site looking for crafts that might interest teenagers... and BOY, DID IT!!! (Yes, it did).

All you need are: a large emery board (like a cardboard nail file), dental floss and some cotton buds (for cleaning ears). I bought all 3 from a pound shop so the whole youth group could arm themselves for only a pound!

I cut out the little grooves on each side at top and bottom with my trusty 'Cropodile' tool but a sturdy hole punch may do the job. If you have one of those tools for making an extra hole in a belt, that would do very well. Then I punched a hole halfway down in the very centre.

After that, cut a length of dental floss and tie it firmly at one end. Bend the emery board gently in a curve and tie the floss on the other end. The original picture I saw used lolly sticks but I found them too brittle and likely to snap when bent.

For the ammunition, pull the fluff off one end of a cotton bud. These were particularly weird shaped cotton buds, but there were 200 in a pack so PLENTY to go round! To fire, just insert the empty end of the stick through the central hole,  hold it in place against the floss string with finger and thumb, then pull back until it feels springy and let go of the end.

When you've got it down to fine art, find a willing victim to be fired at... in my case here, a Socklet that I made, looking nonchalant and unconcerned at the threat!

Coming soon... the miniature catapult using those lolly sticks that were no good for the bow and arrow making!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Bees and Chives

In among the flagstones of the patio, chive seeds have grown into a mighty clump and burst into purple pom-poms of flower!

I spent ages on my hands and knees in front of them trying to take photos of the many bees that visited, although my camera is better at distance than close up, these are the pictures I managed to zoom in on.

There were at least 3 different types of bee and it was lovely to see so many. I must grow more chives next year, just to give the bees a helping hand.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Bodiam Castle

One of the most picturesque castles in England is Bodiam Castle in the south east of England. It was the reason we planned our short break in that part of the country at half term, so we could visit the beautiful place with its moat and surrounding hills. 

It's another National Trust place so, being members at the moment, we didn't have to pay to get in and could enjoy the castle, the small fair surrounding it and the presence of the costumed people stationed around to give information if asked.

Built in the 14th century, the interior was later trashed by Oliver Cromwell but the outside walls remain intact, if a little historically graffitti-ed.

It contains all the traditionally castle-y things like thick walls, slit windows, stunning views of the surrounding countryside, dangerously steep spiral staircases in turrets and secret tiny rooms with old toilets in.

So dress the kids in suitably traditional violent costume if you have them (or yourself if you are that way inclined) and pop down the A21 to Robertsbridge near Hastings and have a look!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Best B&B for Medieval Fun

Last week we went to Hastings for a couple of days with the kids and, when searching online in advance for a B&B, found this... The Minstrel's Rest.

The outside is a normal house but the inside is Medieval themed throughout. This is the fireplace in the dining room...

and this the view of the dining tables from both ends of the room.

The bedrooms are similar in style and if you look online you'll see the 4 poster room (we weren't that grand). All the rooms are named after famous Minstrels of the past (real ones that can be looked up online, cos I did!).

There's a cosy sitting room tucked away in the roof where you can sit together as a family and watch the big TV (although there are smaller ones in each of the rooms) while snuggling up under the warmest blanket I have ever snuggled up under! The red chairs and chaise long are all very comfy and you get a lovely look at the medieval costumes made by the proprietress for sale at re-enactment fairs.

Anyway, if you like the look of it and want to find out more, you can go direct to their website ( ). Booking straight from them is cheaper than going through another source. We were in Blondel room (quite a compact one but others were larger. We wanted the children's room but they called first dibs... and happy children mean they stay away from your room for longer!).

They also do grand banquets, locally sourced food and make all their own jams which are there for sale along with pottery and local ales. the breakfasts...THE BREAKFASTS... no blog can ever do justice to ...

All in all, it was very popular with the whole family!