31 August 2014

An Afternoon of Eyes and Bubbles

We visited some close family last weekend. It was a really nice and sunny day, so we could sit outside and enjoy the English sun, which we had so much of during this summer. I divided my time between looking after and talking to my baby niece and crocheting some eyes. Why eyes? Well, because even though they are super easy and quick to make, having to make eyes in order to finish the toy is just the most frustrating thing ever. Knowing that the toy is going to be ready within a few minutes, but... oh no, wait... I must make the EYES! So I made some in advance.

I was also given a no longer wanted but lovely tin, for which I immediately found use.

 It's an eye tin!!!
There was also cake and a lot of tea and a lot of laughter and baby talk and bubbles... Of course, there are risks when combining outdoor cup of tea with bubbles....

... but it didn't taste any different! :)

27 August 2014

Planty Surprises (both nice and bad)

After spending a month in the UK, we returned to Prague by car (our lovely old "Pootle" VW camper van) to pick up all my things. My life, seven years in Prague, neatly packed into boxes. The snails spent the month in dry and food-free tank, sleeping in their shells, closed by white epiphragms. As there are currently no restrictions to bringing invertebrate pets to the UK, we could have taken them. However, according to the government website, the number of plants that one can bring is limited to five per person - that made ten for the two of us together. So all of my lovely orchids have gone to my parents, who have also come to Prague by car.

Most of my plants were happy and have survived, but definitely not all of them.My tomatoes have dried on the windowsill, together with the carrots and chives... There was one little green fruit, clinging to life. A sad sight, really, but I wouldn't have been able to take them all with me anyway.

The succulents, on the other hand, have done splendidly on the windowsills, in the full sunshine. Most of them had turned slightly reddish in colour, but one of the little Haworthias has shot up a flower stalk. And now I understand what all the succulent growers talk about when they say how hard it is to photograph these plants in flower. Which really makes me want to set up a little photo corner with black background and take really nice photos.

Stapelia hirsuta has also done wonderfully, clearly these planties are alive by sun more than by water. Even though it is tiny, it grew an enormous flower bud. It survived the transport and first two days in Britain, but we have just had a few rainy days and half of the bud got eaten away by slugs, which is too bad, but at least we know what this plantie is capable of and can look forward to more pretty smelly flowers in the future (and when I say smelly, I really mean it. Stapelia flowers usually smell of rotten meat.)

25 August 2014

A Bowl of Toys

The past month has been very busy not only from the perspective of personal life changes (engagement, moving to the UK), but a lot of things also happened from professional point of view. Firstly, I gained a QTS (Qualified Teacher Status), which means I can teach in the UK and then I took a TEFL (Teacher of English as a Foreign Language) course by Trinity College London, which I have successfully completed, even though I am still waiting for the certificate to arrive. The month of the course was one of the most exhausting times of my life, perharps only working on my master's thesis could compare with it, but I still managed to squeeze in some crafty time. We even set up a little tradition of going for a coffee and to Hobbycraft on Friday afternoons after I got back from my lessons and teaching practice.

I started crocheting some toddler ball toys and continued by making some random other toys, such as the green flat round monster and the sleeping snowflake. Some marine creatures were made and given away, too. I love my little toy collection, I think I might want to play with the for a while before I give them away again :)

20 August 2014

Cuttlefish Bones from Combe Martin

About a week after we returned from Combe Martin, I started sorting through the little beachcombing treasures that I collected. I am very proud of my collection of cuttlefish bone pieces. I washed them and laid them out on the terrace to dry. Some of them were really big and I couldn't help imagining how wonderful the animals must have been when they were alive.
The biggest cuttlefish bone I found
I am going to use my cuttlefish bones as food supplements for my pet giant African land snails. Compared to the shop-bought cuttlefish bones, I know where these bones come from and that they probably died of natural causes. They are also free and I had fun picking them. Funnily, I picked most of them just before we got engaged. It must have been really nice of me to run around the beach picking little white bits of dead animals, while Adrian was all nervous trying to get me up the hill to watch the sunset so that he could propose :D
As you can see in the picture above, the amount of cuttlefish bones is quite large. And also, I have finally given up my hatred for Crocs :)

19 August 2014

Rockpooling, Engagement and Sandcastles in Combe Martin, Devon

This holiday, as I finally moved to the UK, I was taken to Combe Martin for a secret one-week trip. Secret, because I was not told where exactly we were going. We had great fun building sandcastles and huge dams and rockpooling for crabs and shrimp. I fell in once, too :) We went freediving, got caught up in the current, climbed out onto the kelp-covered rocks and swam back to the beach. We saw incredibly large sea urchins, angry spider crabs and looooooong Laminaria kelp. It was amazing.

The main beach. There were huge differences between the high and low tide.

Sandcastles with kelp balconies, algae trees and crab carapace arches :)

And the best news is that at the end of our trip, we got engaged! :) And the engagement ring came in the most amazing box in shape of a snail! He couldn't have chosen better, could he? :)

18 August 2014

Beachcombing in the Wringcliff Bay in Devon

Right next to the Valley of the Rocks is Wringcliff Bay, a place which you can get to following a very zig-zaggy coastal path (you can see this in the picture below). As I love the sea, beach, beachcombing and rockpooling, we walked down the hill and spent some time near the water. 

Aerial photograph of the bay and the paths around it by GoogleEarth.

Lovely creatures inhabiting the rocks
Beachcombing treasures. I was most pleased by the driftwood and the piece of cuttlefish bone, which I took home, as it is a great source of calcium for my pet snails. And compared to the shop-bought ones, I know exactly where it came from and that the animal it belonged to probably died of natural causes in the sea.

There were also lots of things that did most certainly NOT belong on the beach - some rubbish and fishing lines! I can just imagine the sea creatures that get tangled up in them. We took these away and threw them out in the rubbish bin where they belonged.

17 August 2014

Visiting Valley of the Rocks, Devon

On our holiday in Devon, we visited The Valley of the Rocks. We only stayed for a few hours, as this wasn't our desired destination, but it was enough to go for a little walk, observe the feral goats, resting at the most impossible high-positioned places and have a cup of tea and something yummy at the local teahouse.

The views from the tops of the hills were unbelievable. We were lucky it was a nice but not too sunny day.

Gazing down from the rocks, tops of which were covered by amazing flora and fauna (found one snail,too).
The aforementioned amazing flora. It is wonderful how plants can find the tiniest amount of soil and anchor themselves up on a windy and probably quite dry hill and survive there. Evolution rocks! Even on the rocks.

The hills were covered with ferns, among which winded the little slightly hidden paths andhere and there you could meet a wandering or resting feral goat.
We could not find any goats at first, but then we started spotting them at the most impossible places. Their climbing skills are most impressive :)

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