A slight obsession with books

Crafts, cats and books


Owls with friends – part three

I’ve already posted lots of photos of the adventure I had with Jackie and Fliss when we went on the trail of The Big Hoot in Birmingham. I had far too many favourite owls to do just two posts of our day out, so this is the third and final instalment.

By the time we’d reached, and explored Brindley Place and got all but one of the owls up there, we were getting a bit weary. (we missed the one at Gas Street Basin, but I will be going back to find him soon)

We planned to head back to the bus stop, taking in one last owl at Snow Hill station, as he was definitely one not to be missed, and also the Owltlet in Great Western Arcade to see if there was anything nice to purchase as a souvenir of our day.

We did pop into the library and zapped the QR codes on the four little owls there and then walked down Colmore Row towards Snow Hill. We got very sidetracked by all the owls down there though so stopped to catch them with the app and take photos.

This one was in Temple Row. He’s amazing.

Under the glow of moonlight

Under the glow of moonlight

There were some beautiful owls in St. Philips Place. This one was a fun owl. He celebrates the invention of the postage stamp and postal service.

Delivered by owl

Delivered by owl

This one is lovely.



This is my favourite of the ones in this area. He is so blingy!

Owl by night

Owl by night

I’ve seen photos of him taken at night and he looks incredible. Apparently he has solar powered LEDs in his base and the mosaic tiles reflect all the lights around him.

In Cathedral Square, we found another four. I have photos of three of them to show you.

This one is very pretty. The artwork is inspired by the archives of Lloyds Bank, who are the sponsors for this owl.



This is another fun one, inspired by 1960’s posters, cartoons and ephemera, commemorating space travel and moon landings. Also he has a brilliant name.

One giant hoot for Owlkind

One giant hoot for Owlkind

This one is gorgeous with its bright, vibrant colours and fabulous detail. Fliss loved him, so I got her to pose with him.

Clash & Fliss


Finally we got to our intended destination to see the owl in Snow Hill Station. Isn’t he brilliant! And what an excellent name – Dr Whoot.

Dr Whoot

Dr Whoot

From there we went across the road to the arcade to find the shop selling all The Big Hoot merchandise. We made a quick stop in the sweet shop there. Well, we were passing it anyway…

We found Bluey in the arcade, so snapped a quick photo of him. He is rather handsome.



You can just see Mr. Simms Olde Sweet Shop to his right.

We were a bit disappointed with the Owltlet. It was small and there wasn’t much choice. There were some mugs, but not in the designs of our favourite owls. There were magnets and coasters to match the mugs but we were slightly horrified that the magnets were £5.99, just 1p cheaper than the mugs. I’d hoped to get a couple of bookmarks as a souvenir that I’d get some use from, but they didn’t have any, which surprised me. I’d thought they’d be the perfect souvenir, especially for kids. None of the other items in the shop appealed to me so I came away empty-handed. (Apart from the sweets, and the yummy loaf from the posh bread shop.)

We detoured a bit more on the way back to catch the bus, to catch one last owl. We’d seen this one as we passed near it, but were headed for coffee at the time and didn’t want to be distracted.

He was worth going back for though.

StarlightFinally we got to the bus stop and timed it perfectly for our bus home. We were definitely weary at this point, with aching bits everywhere, but considering how far we’d walked, that’s not surprising. I’d had Map my Walk running on my phone and on checking it found that we’d walked almost ten miles.

We saw more owls than we thought we’d get to and enjoyed ourselves immensely even despite the rain. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been half as much fun without my friends so thank you to Jackie and Fliss for a great day out.

More owls coming soon.




Owls with friends – part two

I posted a few days ago about my trip to Birmingham with Jackie and Fliss to find as many owls as we could. We walked almost ten miles in a few hours and found about eighty owls, which we thought was pretty good. I had far too many photos to put in one post, so here goes with part two.

After photographing the owls in Victoria Square, which is where I left off last time, we went into the Art gallery and museum. It’s an incredible place, with lots to see, including the Staffordshire Hoard – and it’s free. They have one of the large owls and he’s a beauty.


He also has a pun-tastic name – G’owl’d. Love it. Some of the owls have the most brilliant names. G’owl’d has hieroglyphs all over him and a chart at the side so you can translate them.

G'owl'd-2See those coloured ones by his feet? They spell out the artist’s name – Temper.

There were a further 26 small owls in the art gallery, all in one room. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Art gallerySome of them were amazing. I really loved this one. He’s covered in album covers from the likes of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

Rockin' Owl over the world

Rockin’ Owl over the world

After the art gallery, we walked on towards Brindley Place passing some more lovely owls on the way. In Chamberlain Square we spotted this one.

The Ship

The Ship

In Centenary Square we found these.



TropicOwl (both)

Tropic Owl

Tropic Owl is sponsored by Twycross Zoo. I loved the giraffe on his back.

Also in Centenary Square was this beauty. Look how he matches the library!

Wise old owl

Wise Old Owl

One of my favourites was outside the ICC. He had bits of Birmingham all over him, including an eye that matches the Selfridges building, some of the library design on his chest, and reference to the canals. He is gorgeous.

Welcome to Birmingham (both)

Welcome to Birmingham

Inside the ICC, we found Owlfred. He has pictures of local heroes and famous faces on him. We spotted Ozzy and Jasper Carrot, among others.



Finally we made it all the way up to Brindley Place, where we found this one. His artwork references Brindley Place and its environs – IKON, the canals, tree-lined squares and international cuisine. He’s very handsome and I love his eyes.

The Oozells Owl

The Oozells Owl

This one wins the award for the most pun-tastic name so far. It’s perfect, although I keep getting the song in my head now.

You can call me Owl

You can call me Owl

We spotted lots more owls than those that I’ve added to the post. Some I took photos of, and some I didn’t. I regret not getting a photo of the lovely Midnight Moths at Brindley Square but there was a workman with his truck right behind it. I may need to go back to get him. I’ve added most of my favourites to the post to give you a flavour of what we saw though and I think you can see just how much fun it is to go Owl-hunting.

There will be a part three to our adventure, as we captured yet more owls as we walked back to our bus stop, via the cathedral and Snow Hill station. Coming soon…


Owls with friends

Last Wednesday I went to Birmingham with Jackie and Fliss, so we could go owl hunting. We started off at The Custard Factory in Digbeth and found all the owls there. I think my favourite was one called Through new eyes.

Through new eyes

Through new eyes

There were several small ones dotted about and one more large one. We had to scan his QR code from a card in reception though as he was on the roof and there was no access to him. We were told that he’s visible from the train but we thought it was a bit extreme to go and catch a train just to get a good view of him. We did catch a distant glimpse of him as we walked up to the city centre though.

When we got into town, we had a look at the ones in and around St. Martins. I rather liked this one, called Beorma.



It was getting a bit damp at this point, and we fancied a coffee so we headed up towards the Bullring to go to Druckers. We passed this chap on the way. I like how he’s situated with the Selfridges building in the background.



After we’d had coffee and cake, and watched the rain get heavier through the windows, we went to find the next two owls inside the Bullring centre.

This one is The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat

Next we braved the rain and headed up New Street, where we found one of the owls that I particularly wanted to see – Ozzy’s Owl. He is brilliant.

Ozzy's Owl

Ozzy’s Owl

He had a friend nearby called Re-tail, and I rather liked him too.



We walked up to Victoria Square, where we found these beauties.

Unity within diversity with the Floozie in the jacuzzi Lady in the garden in the background. (The water feature hasn’t worked for ages, so they’ve given up for now and planted a garden in there instead.)

Unity within diversity

Unity within diversity

The New Street Flyer. I love this one, pretty colours and lovely detail.

New Street flyer

New Street flyer

Active owl. I love the artwork on this one, especially the silhouette.

Active Owl

Active Owl

And finally Tick-tock. One of my favourites as the colours are incredible.



There are lots more owls to show you, but I’ll do a separate post for the rest. I had a brilliant day with my friends. Lots of chat and even more walking. I had the Map my Walk app running from when we got off the bus in Digbeth to when we got back on in town and we were slightly stunned to find out that we’d walked almost ten miles. No wonder we were getting a bit weary by the end.


Great post day

Look what I received in the post this morning!


They were sent to me by Claire as an unbirthday present. Isn’t that a lovely thing to do? I love the pretty pink buttons and will be sure to find a use for them. You can never have enough bookmarks and this one is a beauty. Such gorgeous embroidery on it.

I love the needle book and it’s exactly what I need. At the moment I’m sticking my needles into a scrap of fabric so I’m really going upmarket with this. And Claire even put some needles into it.

Thanks Claire! I really love my presents 🙂


The Shire – with friends

I had a lovely few hours out with friends earlier today. The sun shone, and it was just warm enough to be pleasant. We walked down to one of the entrances to The Shire Country Park and made our way to Sarehole Mill along the river Cole. I’d hoped we could carry on along the river but the path was closed off due to construction. Instead we made our way to The Hungry Hobbit, which is a rather nice little café.

After that we decided to find the entrance to Moseley Bog, which I knew was round there somewhere. After a couple of false turns, we found it and went inside.

Moseley Bog sign

It was fabulous. There were boardwalks to walk along, with some dirt paths and some open areas. We walked right to the entrance at the opposite end and back again. You could see why it inspired Tolkien to create Fangorn Forest and the Ents. We’ll be going back there again.

From there we went into Sarehole Mill and into the coffee shop, where we indulged, and then we paid to go into the Mill itself. I had no idea there was so much to see there. Just look at this view over the mill pool.


Jackie and Fliss kindly posed in front of it. You can just see some of the beautiful flowers in the garden too.

We then walked round the path a little and spotted a vegetable patch with this plaque on it.


Isn’t that fabulous! There was also a bed with a plaque that said “Sam Gamgee’s flower garden”. I loved it.

We walked around the mill pool a little way to a small jetty and got a stunning view of the mill.


I love reflections on water.

Inside the mill there was plenty of information to tell you what you were seeing. It was all beautifully restored and really interesting. There was a little treasure hunt with pictures of characters from The Hobbit, with a clue with each picture to tell you where to find the next one. (Ok, so it was for the kids, but we had fun too.) We found them all with Bilbo Baggins being the last one right at the top of the mill. On the way down again, we entered a room with a screen which showed a short film about Tolkien and his connection to the area. We enjoyed the film but I adored the room it was in. This was behind you as you entered the room. Isn’t it brilliant!


A Hobbit hole!

After spending quite some time exploring the mill, we made our way back with a total of 5.24 miles walked.

What a lovely way to get some exercise, eh?



A trip to the NEC

This weekend is Sewing for pleasure at the NEC here in Birmingham. I like to go to this every year if I can and preferably in the company of a good friend. This year I had a really fun day out with Jackie and we both enjoyed ourselves so much, we’ve already plotted to do the same next year.

It’s great just to wander around the various stands, natter, have a nice lunch, and later an even nicer dessert, but there’s also the stash shopping to be done. The plan was to have a good look first, to check what was on sale and who had the best prices, but I fell at the first hurdle. As we walked in we spotted a stand with cross stitch kits on it. They were all the type that I like. There were LHN, Lizzie Kate and other US designers. One in particular caught my eye as it was one that I’d been looking at a few weeks ago, but couldn’t find for sale in the UK. I had to buy it straight away – it’s the coffee one in the pic below. We went back to that stand later to get a nice kit for Jackie and I got the owl chart there as it was calling to me. I did only buy one cross stitch kit, at a different stand, which I thought was most restrained. It’s a specialist stitch one with lots of beading. It’s really pretty. I also got the threads to go with Let’s Do Coffee, and believe it or not, they were the only threads that I bought all day.

NECstash05I also bought a few cross stitch related items during the day. I stocked up on gold needles, bought a 5″ hoop that was on my shopping list, and found some gorgeous silk fabric to use with the Hardanger SAL. The buttons are to go with the Cottages. There’s also a Cheeky Owl in the pic. He’s a tiny fabric owl, or rather all the pieces you need to make him. I fancied having a go at that.

NECstash07There was so much fabric there that I was a bit mesmerised and didn’t get nearly as much as I’d intended. I am pleased with what I did get and have tentative plans for it all.

NECstash08I’ve been wanting some bamboo crochet hooks for a while so I was on the lookout for some. We found some sets of ten for a bargain price of a tenner so we both got those. I also managed to find some bamboo Tunisian crochet hooks so I got three different sizes to experiment with. I also managed to get some nice bag handles for a couple of projects that I have in mind.

NECstash06Then there’s the yarn. I’ve spent the past week going through all my patterns and those I have marked on Ravelry, to see which ones I’d really like to crochet. I made a list of the yarn that I’d need for them and I think I succeeded in getting most of that plus a little bit more.

This one is gorgeous. It’s lovely and soft and worked out at £1 per ball. It’s DK and I have a few projects in mind for it.

NECstash02This one is a super chunky for a specific pattern, and a DK for one of two projects that I’ve been considering.

NECstash03I was looking for some sock yarn and found this. It was fairly expensive but I just loved the colours and texture.

NECstash04And then there’s this one. It’s a cotton DK and the colours are just scrumptious. Dusky pink, Strawberry, Lilac and Iris. Yum. I have a good idea what I want to do with these. I just hope they stretch to the two projects that I’m thinking of. I’m fairly sure they will.

NECstash01I had a lovely day out and I’d just like to say thanks to Jackie for the wonderful company. Now I just need to start using some of this beautiful stash.

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A red-nosed bull

Birmingham wouldn’t be the same without The Bull in the centre, but when I saw him like this last Saturday, I couldn’t resist taking a photo.

bull Poor Bull. What have they done to him?

I was in town with two friends, Heidi and Catherine, to see the film Life of Pi. I really enjoyed the film and thought it was almost as good as the book. It was stunningly beautiful, when it came to the scenes at sea. It’s the first time that I’ve seen a full length film in 3D. I’m not sure what the difference would be to the 2D version apart from the ‘tricks’ at the start, but it was definitely something special to see.

We also had a paddle round the German Market. It was pouring with rain and I could have used some windscreen wipers on my glasses, but we had fun even so. The market was lovely and full of interesting things. It was also huge. We just had time for a quick bite to eat from one of the stalls before the film started. Sadly the Kangaroo burgers weren’t ready. I’d quite fancied trying one of those.

After the film we ended our adventure with a trip first to The Disney Store and then to Krispy Kreme for refreshments. Coffee and a doughnut. Yum.

I’d planned to get a photo of my friends against a backdrop of the Life of Pi poster, but as we all looked slightly drowned, I thought better of it. The Bull will have to do as a reminder of a lovely day out.

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A busy week

I swear I seem to have been going non-stop this past week. Compared to a normal week I've had a whirlwind of social activity going on. Tuesday afternoon, Ang arrived in Solihull so I zoomed over as soon as she landed for a cuppa and had a couple of hours catching up and refining our plots and plans for the coming week. I got home just in time for my bedtime.

On Wednesday, as soon as I got in from work, I ran round the house like a loony getting ready to go back out and met Ang at her flat so we could go up Solihull to meet Chris for coffee. We ended up sitting in Costa for about three hours chatting. Bostin!

Thursday after work, I managed to get ahead with some housework as I knew I'd have no chance on Friday, as I had the dentist followed by a day of fun with Ang.

Friday is my day off so after an uneventful dentist's appointment I caught the bus up to Birmingham and met Ang by the Bull. She was late – and I have to say that as I spent most of the day ribbing her about it 😉

We headed for Urban Coffee – quite possibly the best coffee shop in Birmingham, or even the universe, and had Flat whites with our butties. Now Ang tends towards the traditional and goes for the BLTs but I do like their range of slightly different butties. Last time I had something with avocado in which was very nice but this time I was tempted by the Felafel with mint yoghurt. Delicious!

Then, as it was Cupcake Friday, we decided it would be extremely rude not to indulge.


That was the display after we'd attacked it. I had a pink one and Ang a brown one. To match our t-shirts for the photos, of course. *grin*
They were very, very nice. Lots of fluffy, light icing stuff but not sickly at all. Yum. Shame I have to work tomorrow as it's Muffin Monday apparently.

Oh, and we had our cupcakes with a second Flat white


We attempted to walk off our lunch by strolling round Brum in the lovely sunshine but we had eaten rather a lot. We went and said goodbye to Created in Birmingham as it closes this weekend, and spotted some rather gorgeous handmade jewellery in there. I resisted. I did think of a certain friend when I saw some earrings and a pendant in the shape of cherries though…

Yesterday, Ang came over in the late afternoon for a spot of scrapping and dinner. We both managed to produce a whole layout and Stephen produced a very fine chicken dinner with yorkshires and roasties. Yum.

Today I've just been recovering mostly. I finished off one book at 4.30am just after Stephen brought me a cuppa on his way out to work and then started another which I finished about 10am. I've done a bit of housework, watched Doctor Who and have started another layout. I might do some cross stitching in a bit. Or maybe I'll start another book. 

It's been a bostin week Ang, but I think you've worn me out 😉



Stuff to look forward to

I have a couple of things coming up this month that I’m rather looking forward to. Firstly my Brummie mate Ang is on her way down again so we can cause mischief all over Birmingham and quite possibly in Earlswood too this time. Coffee shops, bookshops and craftstores beware.

The other thing is that my friend Chris is organising a wee crop down at PaperArts which’ll be wonderful as I haven’t seen her for ages. I predict lots of chatting, drinking of coffee and eating of cake but very little scrapping on my part. Great fun.

Which reminds me of my last jaunt down to PaperArts which was when Ang was last down. We went to chat rather than to scrap as we hadn’t seen Fiona in ages and it was a good excuse to visit the best scrapbook shop around. I bought some of the new Basic Grey that had just come in. It was so new that it was still in the boxes and Fiona was good enough to let us rummage.

A couple of days later I managed to justify the entire purchase by using one whole sheet of it. Plus one of the delicious embroidered brads, no less. Apart from some matting on the photo and the journalling that’s pretty much all there is to the layout but the colours in the paper match the photo so perfectly that I’m quite happy with it as it is. The BG range is Kioshi and the font used for the journalling is one of my favourites – Chicken Basket.

The journalling waffles on about how we were in the China pavillion in Epcot at Walt Disney World. (where else?) There was a photographer waiting for Mulan to come out for photo ops and she very kindly took us on a walk round the gardens for some photos while she was waiting.
Thanks for looking.



Coffee and books but no marmite t-shirt

I have had terrific fun today, which is pretty much what you'd expect considering I've spent the best part of the day in the company of Ang. We do seem to have laughed an awful lot!

We started the day when I picked her up this morning so we could have a potter round Homebase to look at paint. Once the boring bit was out of the way we headed back towards mine with a we detour to Hobbycraft, the library and The Cotton Patch. Hobbycraft was so I could pick up a couple of those clip together frames as I needed some 6" ones for one of my cross stitch kits. The library was so I could return the Stephanie Plum book and collect a Charles Dickens. Not much difference there then. And The Cotton Patch was so Ang could have a nosey round. She was most restrained and came out with very little. It's not the friendliest of shops really.

They did have the magnifier/light that I'd ordered from Sew and So in stock though so I had a wee look at that. And when we got back to mine there was my order – one package of fabric and embroidery silks, ready for the My little heart project and another with my wee purple magnifier in. It looks a bit like an alien but it should make sewing an awful lot easier.


We left the car at the house and caught the bus into Birmingham. I prefer not to drive in since they moved all the roads. It was bad enough before but now I'd just get completely lost so I take advantage of our fine public transport system.

First port of call was this new coffee shop I'd heard about. Two reasons for going there. One was that I'd heard the coffee was excellent and that's a good enough reason all by itself, but the main reason is that it's a BookCrossing zone and I wanted to leave some books there.


I managed to find a book I wanted in the pile there, and Ang found three books that she fancied too so that was a successful visit. The coffee was very good indeed and the sandwiches were absolutely delicious. If anyone is in Birmingham, it's in Church Street, just off Colmore Row. Go there – it's well worth the visit.


The coffee was so good, we indulged in a second cup each and once we were both on a caffeine high we buzzed our way to the Bullring and found our way to a new shop which is showcasing items to do with Birmingham. I knew they had some stock from Bostin so hoped to be able to get a certain Brummie/Marmite t-shirt there but they only had men's sizes. Shocking! Still, the other reason for going, the BookCrossing box tucked under the table, was a sucess. I left a few books there and not only did Ang find a book she fancied in there, but I found the first Dresden files book. I've been wanting to start reading that series for ages so I had to take that one. And of course, the obligatory photo…


 We wandered in and out of a few bookstores, mostly to stroke the books as we did have a small stash from the BookCrossing zones but we did make a small purchase in The Works. Three for a fiver which we split. I got Middlesex which is on my wishlist plus an Erica James and Ang finally caved and bought one that I've been egging her on to buy.

Must slow down on the book buying for a while though. I might have accidentally bought four in Asda yesterday. Well they were quite cheap, and I couldn't decide which two out of the four to have so I just got all of them. Mmmm, books. Love 'em.