All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary – Birthday Bits, The Importance Of Timeout and Crafting In Coleraine

Hallo me old muckers. How’s things? Hope you’re holding up.

A ‘quiet’ week for me this week however still a fair amount to share with you so, if you’re ready, I’ll begin.

All Counties Challenge Header

As you will hopefully remember I am currently on the Northern Ireland leg of the All Counties Challenge but before I get to that, may I share a couple of other things with you?

Firstly, it was my birthday recently – thank you for all of the messages via Facebook :)

The reason that I share that nugget with you is so that I have reason to share the next few photographs.

The first is a photograph of my first ‘ten minute time out’.

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

Nice view isn’t it?

So what’s a ‘ten minute time out’? It’s a simple thing I am trying out in order to combat the old glum-gland and worry-warts.

As the new name suggests, it’s a time out. The difference? It’s a time out from everything. Phones, people, worries etc. A time to disconnect from the day-to-day and just stop and breathe.

Tea and biccies are permitted which is an added bonus.

The goal? To allow opportunity to refocus, or at least distract the mind from anything that may be looming or lingering. This way, you have the opportunity to see other pathways of thinking.

Sounds a little new age and hippyish however, as you can even do it on the loo, it’s an easy thing to fit into the day so that works for me.

No idea if this will work as its early days however I’m willing to keep at it as, regardless of the purpose or goal, it is lovely to just sit and see what’s going on around. I’m a nosey monkey at heart & a sucker for a good view. ;)

A change is as good as a rest, as they say. In this case, it’s both :)

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Anyway, Birthday bits continued as I stopped off for a lovely breakfast.

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary


But where is the birthday cake you may ask? Well, as it was me on my own, I didn’t think it was worth getting a large cake (although I probably could have scoffed it, lol), so instead I popped into an ice cream parlour, when it was raining, and ordered a cookies and cream.

Look what turned up!!!

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

Six inches of frozen joy – with a whacking great butterfly in the top. Lol!

Even managed to find some lovely locations to work alongside this week.

Even Birthday boys have to work.

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

Felt very lucky to find this one. Sunshine, tranquil blue sky, mostly. So the work didn’t seem quite so worky.

A little later in the week it was time to gather bits and bobs for the workshop so I went on the hunt for a craft shop in Northern Ireland. Literally, the whole of it. Let me tell you, there aren’t that many.

Thankfully I stumbled across The Craft Shop in Sackville Street, Londonderry.

Where I met Wesley, the store owner, and this pair of lovely helpful ladies.

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

A chat, a lengthy browse and a basket full of paints and paper later and I was mincing it back to Maisy, who I had left in a time limited parking spot. Eek!

Just time to grab a snap of an awesome piece of street art as I flashed by – how incredible is this?!

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

What a talent.

Anyway, time to get planning what we were going to do at No.4 Queen Street, the venue for the workshop.

I had been asked for techniques using the Gelli Plate.

First job was to organise the actual Gelli bits and bobs – now where on earth was I going to find enough of them?!

Challenge? That’s what this is after all, lol ;)

I racked my brains for a bit, then gave that up and looked through my contacts list – OF COURSE! My old mate, and queen of all things Gelli, Barbara Gray from Clarity Stamps.

We messaged, we talked, we nattered – eventually we even got around to organising the Gelli plates, hehe. Barbara asked what I needed. I listed a rather long list of supplies.

Half expecting to be laughed off the planet I was genuinely humbled when the reply was, ‘no problem – where and when do you need them?’ :o

Long story short, too late, the plates, mounts and stencils that we would need were shipped out to the venue – MANY THANKS YOU AMAZING WOMAN!!! :)

It’s amazing to have good friends that are there when you need them :)

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Ok, time to get messy…

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

Mess accomplished, but had I managed to work anything out? Lol.

Indeed I had. A fair few techniques to be fair. Here are just a few of my favourites.

The day of the workshop arrived and it was off to No.4 Queen Street in Coleraine. An elegant looking shop jam-packed with loads handmade goodies.

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

Inside I met Linda.

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

Linda is a crafter and she is the lady that heard about the challenge and invited me along. Thank you!

Linda and I were joined by two more keen creatives.

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

We soon got down to the workshop and … well, look familiar?!

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

Lol, no, we really did lots of Gelli prints, I wasn’t just teaching them to make a mess.

We covered lots of techniques in the time and I think that we all went away having gained a lot from the workshop – which is a bully bonus.

Before the end of the day I had a good old browse of the shop downstairs and met more of the artists that create items to sell and also help run it.

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

Fab bunch – do drop in if you are in the area.

As ever, my parking ticket was due to run out so, it came time to pack all of the bits and pieces back in Maisy and head out onto the road again.

A little treat awaited me further down the road…

All Counties Craft Challenge Diary

… an actual Irish rainbow.

I was half tempted to jump in Maisy and smash the accelerator to the floor and chase the end of the rainbow to find that pot of gold but to be honest, the sight of the rainbow was such a lovely thing I just did one of those ten minute things and admired it. :)

THEN I chased it. I wasn’t in time to get a photo however it appeared to be emanating from an industrial production plant by the docks – is this the truth behind rainbow manufacturing???!!! :o

Probably not, but it gave me a chuckle. To follow that story idea through a bit more – can you imagine where that went?

Anyway, on that potential revelation, it’s time for me to sign off and get ready for another week on the challenge.

Many thanks again to Linda, the owners of No.4 Queen Street in Coleraine, those that came along to the workshop, to the team at The Craft Shop in Londonderry and of course to Barbara Gray at Clarity Stamps for helping make this workshop happen.

Please don’t forget that I am doing this in aid of Mind, the charity for better mental health.

The total so far is approximately £8,500 which is phenomenal – thank you!

If you can’t attend a workshop, you can still contribute by making a donation at

All donations through Create and Craft’s website will entitle you to a colouring book, postage will be added to the donation amount.

To make a straightforward donation that will include Gift Aid, you can head over to my just giving page.

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Take care of yourselves and don’t forget to take those time outs.

See you again next week for another instalment!

Bye for now.

J :)

14 thoughts on “All Counties Craft Challenge Diary – Birthday Bits, The Importance Of Timeout and Crafting In Coleraine

  1. I take timeouts quite often, it gives you perspective and clarity in your thinking. Also it is a good excuse to think about what to get up to next. Sometimes it has kept me out of trouble, just stopping and thinking, deciding on a different path to take. To knit or paint or crochet or sew or bead or make cards, sometimes decision can be so hard, so take a break have a coffee and a biscuit and something will pop into your head like – mmmm maybe do the washing up, as you are on the last plate and need to eat at some point. But then again craft first, housework last, that is my mantra. John keep the good work up and the photos are lovely, nice one.


  2. Belated Happy Birthday John :) Its a shame that we need to be reminded to take a ‘time out’ but its absolutely necessary in this fast paced world. thank you for your updates, its great to hear how you are getting along in your travels with Maisie. so generous of Barbara Grey to help you out, that’s crafters for you. Hugs to you :)


  3. Looks like you had a fab time in Coleraine but Co. Down is where it’s really at- looking forward to seeing you here on Saturday.


  4. I think some days I need more time out time than time in! I wish that shop had been there when I lived inColeraine. Mind you I left there when I was 18 – quite a few years ago now. I worked as a Saturday assistant in the library at the end of Queen Street, and my dad was the manager of a shirt factory which used to be in the same street. Thanks for bringing back some happy memories. BTW Happy Belated birthday and loved the ice cream!


  5. Very many happy returns John, I’d have swapped a birthday cake for that ice cream sundae (one of) my favourite biccies in that! The 10 minute thing sounds like a good idea, though think 100 minutes may be more in order for me at the minute! Big shout of well done to Barbara Gray- what a star lady she is! Seems like Northern Ireland is showing you a wealth of amazing sights, from that stunning street art to a rainbow and a lovely little shop of creativity.

    Have a great week, onward to the next part of your adventure!

    Hugs, T x


  6. HelloJohn, I think you are doing a great job have been following you around. Is there any chance you would be near Southampton or do another challenge.later.I,d like to donate to Mind but I don’t want to take you books maybe it could go to a young crafter you may come across Good luck and drive carefully Yours Sincerely Pamela Fitzgerald also known as Mumpy x


  7. Thanks again for sharing the latest instalment of your crafting adventure. Looks like the donations are still rolling in, so well done to everyone who is continuing to contribute. Also, well done to Barbara Gray … and Postman Pat … for coming to the rescue for the lovely ladies in Coleraine. Hope you have many rainbow-filled days. Can’t wait for your next post.


  8. Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear John, happy birthday to yooooooou!! Sorry I missed your actual birthday :-( but what an amazing birthday ‘cake’ wow, how I would love one of those on my birthday!!
    Your doing well with your challenge, keep up the good work. Love reading all about your travels.
    Happy crafting!


  9. Hi John
    Time out sounds like a good idea. It’s wise to switch off from time to time and a few minutes enjoying a lovely view or the birds singing can help you forget what it was you were stressing over. I love using my Gelli plate. You never get the same result twice and the prints are amazing. I am so pleased your challenge is going well.
    X from Chris


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