Monday 29 September 2014

Michaelmas Daisy Days

I am a Michaelmas baby and am off up into the big smoke for birthday adventures today. In the meantime let me leave you with a poem which shares my namesake this 29th September. 

Hail the Michaelmas daisy's
Softly glowing purple haze.
Lit by the sun's wistful gaze
Bringing cooler mellow days.

Festooned with spiders weaving.
Dripping with dew drops gleaming.
Through the misty morning light
Ghostly blooms loom into sight.

Our perennial swan song's
Been waiting all summer long.
And now a flower fanfare
Heralding Autumnal air!

Maureen Pickford.


Sunday 28 September 2014

Leaf Cutter

No we're not talking bees here, but an artist that comes into his own especially in the Autumn as the trees shed their leaves.

Lorenzo Manuelduran's work can only be described as sheer magic. A couple of examples below will give you a small taste but do check out his site here if you wish to see more

As ever I am in awe.

Saturday 27 September 2014

The Teenager And The Shower Condundrum.

Can anyone explain this one to me please?

How is it when my son was genuinely a small boy hot water and he didn't mix. Trying to get him to not be a soap dodger and then when he had reluctantly succumbed keeping him clean was an art form in itself.
Nowadays I can't keep him out of the bleeding shower...if he had his way he'd have three long [and I mean reservoir draining type length] showers. Let me stress that I have absolutely no objection to him maintaining high standards of cleanliness. However, I am not convinced that a shower just before you run is necessary [having already had one in the morning] ...afterwards obviously yes. Recently I have had to Have A Word about water meters, saving electricity and certain costs involved as I am getting bored of competing with his music in the bathroom whilst banging on the door and yelling. This week he has come up with his own teenage inspired solution...he now showers to a couple of tracks on his phone that he knows the length of...hey presto shorter showers and a non nagging Mother!



Friday 26 September 2014

Miniature Marvels.

One of the advantages of being behind the counter so to speak at dollshouse shows these days is that I am able to get really close to people's work before the doors open and enjoy their beauty all on my own. Last weekend the work of these two ladies caught my eye.....I shall be forever saying this but I am always amazed at what people are able to create. My job is to admire and drool....although the latter is figuratively as I'm not entirely sure that the stand holder would appreciate me dribbling!

Firstly Gale Bantock

Not surprisingly they were all sold out!

Secondly Penny Thomson. She makes the most stunning automata- bear in mind that most of them are only 2" high.!automata/c1lgn


Thursday 25 September 2014

A Tune For Thursday.

I judge how much I like a track on the radio by whether I dance in my seat whilst driving...yes I know mad old bat but then we knew that anyway. This is a case in point "Bohemian Like You" by the Dandy Warhols.

Talking of mad old bats I might as well throw this in the mix for your further amusement. Never say you don't get good entertainment value when you drop in or one hell of a shock if you've googled something and this blog has come up in your hits!

To be perfectly frank I probably need a sign such as this hung round my neck next time I escape the clutches of my carer and make a bid for freedom!


Wednesday 24 September 2014

An Arachnid's Answer To The Sevres Question.

This is an exquisite porcelain plate made by Sevres.

This is an exquisite plate woven from gossamer threads by a garden spider.

The first plate is fit for purpose- you can eat your dinner off it. The spider's web is fit for purpose- you can eat your dinner off it but additionally you can catch your dinner in it and then store it. I personally don't know of any other dinner plates that also act as supermarket cum larder. I know which one impresses me more.


PS This mass of webs appeared in our garden over the weekend.

Mabon Blessings

Apologies I am a little late to the party with this but hope you have gloriously tinted Autumn moments in the next few weeks.


Tuesday 23 September 2014

Gally Napper.

Or Daddy Longlegs to you and me. Eww they give me the heebie-jeebies- I loathe the way you can never be quite sure which way their flight path will take them yet I know that I am quite irrational about them because they are totally harmless. They are neither a mosquito nor a spider [there is an arachnid of the same name] but a fly and no, tempting though it may be, I don't kill them. I just try to avoid them during this month when they are everywhere.

In a vain attempt to improve my perception of them I decided to do a little online googling to find out a bit more about them and there's not a lot going for them really. They start out life as an obese maggoty type bug called a leatherjacket which spends its time eating decaying material. It is useful if it is doing its munching in the right environment but several thousand signed their own death warrants in 1935 when they chewed their way through the grass roots on the wicket at the Lords Cricket Ground. They were collected up and burnt by the ground staff.

Known as Johnny Spinners and Craneflies [their legs resemble the crane's long, thin legs] the adults only live for two weeks. A quick bit of how's your father and that's it.... duty done and toes turned up only for the cycle to begin again. I understand that they're a very important part of the ecosystem providing a food source for many animals, birds and spiders.

Having discovered that they are the second most feared creature after spiders [that surprised me...I thought snakes might be higher in the fear rankings] I now know I am not alone. I was delighted to hear that 2014 is a bumper year for them as it's been such a good summer. I must go and inform my son....he's about as keen on them as I am. In fact the only one who would have been thrilled would have been Twitten....she used to love catching them and crunching them. It sounded rather like a human crunching Twiglets!


Monday 22 September 2014

Monday Monday!

"Monday Monday" by the Mamas and Papas. Funny seeing those skinny jeans- my 16 year old wears exactly the same. Fashion really does just go round and round these days.

You have a weary blogger today. A very early start on Saturday morning, lots of travelling, working all weekend and then a long journey to get back to GBT at 8pm which is earlier than some years. Yes I have been wearing another of my hats- our mini business hat and here is our "Empire" in all its glory.

I've spent the last two days nattering to the show's visitors, Janet and John knitting [another garter stitch blanket for a friend], completing crosswords with Mr GBT during the lulls and finishing Oliver Postgate's autobiography. An interesting read- he recognised himself as a misfit and a maverick. A very driven individual he was an inventor in addition to the many other skills he acquired during his colourful patchwork life. I gather he was charming- would you Adam and Eve it, one of the ladies who shared his surname that I spoke to, was only married to one of his relatives at one time. Small world!

Hopefully normal blogging service will be resumed in the next day or so when I have located the jar in which I have left my brain. Meanwhile I'll leave you with this track by Paloma Faith that came out a few months ago- they played it on the radio when we were having breakfast at the hotel yesterday and I just love it.

Speak soon and hopefully a tad more coherently...I'm off to track down a strong coffee to prop me up!


Friday 19 September 2014

Ahoy there me hearties!

Why today is National Speak Like A Pirate Day don't ya know!

To get you in the right frame of mind might I daringly suggest that you take a listen to this:

Followed by a close inspection of this:

Taken with a hearty slug of this:

Before you attempt this!


Thursday 18 September 2014

Oh My Gosh And Golly...

....the talent of others. Chum, E and I, popped into a small local art gallery on Tuesday to look at some jewellery made by a lady she knows and who is currently teaching her.

Well what can I say.....I am challenged craftwise but I really appreciate the incredible work of others. Here's a small taster.

"Just dropping by" by Michael Topham. This is made of wire and produces amazing silhouettes. More of his whimsical work can be viewed here

"In an English Country Garden" by Nancy Shafee. All made from felt.

Conker made by Fleur Grenier.

Udaipuir by Lois Bellew. This piece had gold threads running through it and came alive when the sunlight caught it.

Harpy by Mavis Walker. This quirky piece was amongst my favourites.

All these artists are members of the Surrey Guild of Craftsmen. More of their work can be seen here


Wednesday 17 September 2014

Thank You Messrs Firmin and Postgate.

I think every generation of children growing up has someone to thank for a wonderful creative gift and legacy. For the current one J.K.Rowling would be the obvious one to spring to mind as one of many. For me its Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate. The "simplicity" of its format and reliance on timeless story lines meant that it hasn't dated and fallen by the wayside like many programmes that came before it and since. Instead its charm and appeal continues to hold its own.

When my son was genuinely a small person:

I borrowed a Bagpuss video from the library. In those days he rarely sat and watched TV for more than a nanosecond before he was off chasing elephants but on this occasion he sat, completely rapt for two hours. When it finished he looked at me and sobbed. I think he was too little at the time to have really fully understood it but his reaction was priceless. So for those of us of a certain vintage here's a small trip down memory lane.

Firstly Ivor The Engine- always on just before the early evening news I seem to recall. Bet you know how to make the engine noise!

The Clangers. The original knitting pattern that was sent out to any viewers that wrote in. No excuses now not to make your own!

And then my personal favourite dear old Bagpuss.


Tuesday 16 September 2014


Back in the summer I went to a traditional village fete complete with a dog show and welly throwing with my chum E who lives there. It's been years since I went to one but it proved to be a fun afternoon out. One stall that caught my eye was the book stall. I am incapable of resisting books- as fast as I declutter them they creep back in but I am very disciplined and hardly ever keep fiction ones after I've read them. This time there was a thrifty offer of three paperbacks for a pound...well I thought it would have been rude of me to refuse and this was one of the ones that came home with me.

Naturally my choice was based upon the stonkingly good reviews plastered all over the covers.....erm I am of course lying. Confession had red pages. How shallow is that...n'er mind I do shallow so's a bit like when I choose wine. Once I've narrowed down the thriftier priced ones then I go for the one with the prettiest label or bottle!

Having only just reached The Night Circus in my book pile and having had no prior expectations it's a keeper. Full of sparkles and gossamer threads linking it all together I never want to see it on the screen even though I think there's been a film made of it. From the crafted descriptions I now have my own personal vision of how the circus and characters look and that's the way I want it to stay. I read it slowly as I didn't want it to finish and it's not often the case with me and a book these days.


Monday 15 September 2014

One To Warm The Cockles Of The Heart.

Following our loss of Psychocat a few weeks ago I am now ready for a new furry feline owner. After an initial enquiry a few weeks ago via the Book of the Face someone kindly recommended a locally run animal rescue place which I had no idea even existed. I've been in touch and passed the home check so everything is now in place for us to go ahead and offer a forever home to a suitable mog.

Today we popped over to view the cats available for rehoming but it wasn't to be today. The owner had an adorable little female with her equally adorable kitten but the Mum was still incredibly young and quite rightly she didn't want them to be separated at this stage in the game. Much as I would have loved to have scooped them up and brought them back with me I've thought about it carefully and I can really only take one and my preference is for an adult of 2+. No matter though she has some more coming in later this week and it sounds quite promising. Those two were cute as a button and someone will take them very quickly I'm sure. They were very friendly and adorable.

On a bad day I suppose I might have viewed this as a wasted trip but was it? No absolutely not for I was privileged to witness the rehoming of two six month old heinz 57 puppies that have been brought over from a tough street life in Greece and are bonded. The couple who are taking them lost their 14 year old staffie recently and they had had him since he was seven weeks old. He had left a huge hole in their lives and just for a few minutes I was able to share in their joy as I stroked and cuddled their new companions.

I am sure it will be my turn very soon. I shall, of course, keep you posted! In the mean time, whilst I am still missing Twitten hugely, I am cuddling any cat that I come into contact with as the evidence shows!


Sunday 14 September 2014

Saturday 13 September 2014

Advice From Mr Bill Gates.

The small person turned 16 mid way through his GCSEs this year. When I was his age I'd already been working in a shop for a year but now the employment laws have changed to make it older. To earn a little money he's had a paper round and done odd jobs for family here and there whilst he's been treading water. Off his own bat he set up a couple of hours working in Oxfam to give himself relevant experience on his CV.

Having finished his National Citizenship Service at the end of August he has just been in a position to apply for a job. He drafted his CV and asked me to look over it. Helping people set up CVs and fill in application forms was part of my previous job as a tutor. I made sure that it was his work not mine but pointed out a few extra skills he'd missed. Last week he announced that he was going to go flat out to find a job. Having spent the best part of two days twonking about with an online application and then choosing a couple of lie ins over putting in any real effort I [Harridan Mother of 2014] told him that I was underwhelmed by his commitment and showed him this speech given by Bill Gates.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!
Rule 2: The world doesn't care about your self-esteem.
The world will expect you to accomplish something
BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school.
You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.
Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping:
They called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault,
so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring
as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills,
cleaning your clothes and listening to you
talk about how cool you thought you were:
So before you save the rain forest
from the parasites of your parent's generation,
try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers,
but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades
and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer.
*This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters.
You don't get summers off and very few employers
are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF.
(Do that on your own time.)
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life.
In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds.
Chances are you'll end up working for one.
If you can read this...thank a Teacher.
If you can read this in English...thank a Soldier!
And for life and everything else you have...thank God!
Now....think about this and smile if you agree and please pass this on....
If you don't agree, go stick your head in the SAND and take a DEEP BREATH!

He listened on this occasion [he quite often doesn't!] and last Thursday morning he spent two hours in the town centre finding out which shops had job vacancies in the windows, handing in his CV and picking up application forms. That afternoon he received an interview offer for Friday afternoon and another interview in the post. I am pleased to say he prepared properly, took heed of Mummikins's advice to find out about the company and practise some questions and by 4.30 he had a job. He cancelled his other interview and started last Saturday. To keep it real he will take over paying his mobile bill as I am trying to ease him into the adult world gently.


Friday 12 September 2014

Decluttering The Invisible.

Confession time.....deep goes...I am a time wasting addict. If you ever meet me I shall give you a thousand reasons as to why such and such hasn't been done. Usually the main one I trot out is "I don't have enough time". I'd be lying if I was to give the impression that I never do anything- I often try my hand at making new things, read a fair amount etc etc. I am a busy bee [anxiety does have its pluses] but I am equally adept at wasting my free time twonking about. On Saturday I just observed what I do do sometimes- it transpires that quite a lot of time was being taken up answering quizzes and quipping on others posts on the book of the face. Harmless fun in itself except I hadn't really given any thought to just how much time I was spending on these displacement activities. What should I do about this I pondered?

On Saturday evening I began by investigating my massive list of bookmarked sites I'd acquired. I managed to slash the number down to a more manageable number fairly swiftly. Firstly, I transferred some of the recipes I'd tried and enjoyed to my notebook and then I scribbled down some of the frugal tips from various articles into an appropriate folder [I have lots of notebooks!]. There were a lot of blogs saved there too- many I'd saved on a whim but looking at them I realised that they weren't really to my taste so I culled many and subscribed to other favourites so I get an email update. Next on my hit list were various companies that now email me after previous purchases- I unsubscribed and then daringly suspended my book of the face account. I can reactivate it at any time [I need to contact people occasionally in my capacity as Mythago's secretary] but I haven't been back since. There's definitely a lightness of spirit following this....mind you I'm having to be extra vigilant with my bookmarking as I've already been at it again. This time though I am making sure I'm looking at things quickly and then getting shot of them as soon as possible.

Having done this for myself it was ironic that this blog post should come into my in box this week on the very same topic. Potential saving of electricity and more available wonga for buns is always going to get my attention isn't it!

Now what am I to do with extra time I have gained- so far I have fallen asleep whilst reading a couple of times this week. Maybe I should look to this poster for inspiration!


Thursday 11 September 2014


Earlier this week I finally got around to asking one of the ladies I housesparkle for why she had conkers in the corners of all the rooms. It keeps spiders away she told me. That was a new one on me so if you're not an arachnid fan then this is for you!


Wednesday 10 September 2014

Surprise Gift

Last night I quietly celebrated the full moon with dear chums. I don't know why it continues to surprise me but my friends know my taste better than myself sometimes. Out of the blue S gave me this last night- she saw it and decided that I must have it. It's by Lisa Parker and I've just been looking up some of her other designs drool!


Tuesday 9 September 2014

Protecting Yourself.

No don't worry you're not about to receive a lecture on insurance or anything sensible like that...this is more to do with how people protected themselves from The Evil Eye in yesteryear. The more I read the more apparent it becomes to me that the fear of witchcraft was a very real one and people took many steps to try and keep both themselves and their surroundings safe. These are some of the snippets I have come across in various wonderings and wanderings in recentish times.

Domestically I've seen the evidence of old shoes and a mummified cat at our local museum which were found between the walls and in the roofs in local homes and the witch bottles filled with pins, human hair, urine and other lovelies buried under the doorstep or within the house structure where it was believedwitches could gain access. This is a Bellarmine jar which was often used for this purpose and there are many examples on display at the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle.

I mentioned in a previous post the possibility that this farmhouse at St Fagan's may have been painted red deliberately to ward off evil but interestingly it also had a rowan tree growing next to it which is known as a protective tree.

Even mundane household items could be used as talismen. Iron firebacks were decorated with apotropaic symbols to stop evil spirits from coming down the chimney. Today many of us take a more rational view of such perceived dangers but if you have a horse brass or a horse shoe within your home these are still seen as protection amulets in some quarters.

When I visited the Geffrye Museum [a free museum in Shoreditch and well worth seeing] I noticed that one of the cots they had on display had an eye carved on the headboard. Later on I found that was to keep the child safe. I now understand why I saw an eye on St Bartholew's, Benthall Hall in Shropshire as this is representing the eye of God.

In its heyday some of the folkloric suggestions ran to putting food on your doorstep for witches, putting salt in your keyholes or killing a cockerel and hanging its tail feathers on the stable door. A more modern take on this is black salt which W and I made last week. I have been told that if you sprinkle it across your doorstep an unwanted visitor will take it out on their shoes and not return.
Fear not though for us this was just a fun exercise in using some of the black food dye I recently bought and I only intend to use it in some dotty Halloween cooking. Thankfully I don't have such callers!


PS For anyone interested the term "threshold" comes from the thresh [ie the left over gubbins from the harvest] that used to be spread over the floors pre carpets. Fine until you had your door open and a gust of wind blew it all out. Solution- piece of wood across your door to hold in the thresh. Well you knew I wouldn't be able to resist didn't you!

Monday 8 September 2014

Decluttering Discoveries

I am a regular declutterer but it goes in phases- I am mid phase right now so quite a few clothes have left the building [many to my friend S who has first refusal- she does likewise], heaps of books courtesy of Mr GBT and various goodies from the kitchen cupboards which have come to light as I've been cleaning through. I am always amazed at what turns up even though I am no slattern when it comes to housekeeping. The small person has inherited my sorting gene and has been right through his room moving stuff on before he begins at college.

Over several months last year I helped Mummikins to sort out her attic. Gradually we freecycled, recycled and charity shopped masses. Last week I joined her for an hour or so to make a start on the house and we cleared a cupboard and a bureau. One of things we came across was an old folder full of calligraphy. This was amongst the papers and although familiar to many, I still love the peace that descends upon me as I reread the words.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, 
And remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender,
Be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others
Even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others you many become vain and bitter;
For always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
It is a real possession in the changing fortune of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;
For the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
Many person strive for high ideals;
And everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
It is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are borne of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome activity, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
You have a right to be there.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be
And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all the sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann 1927


Sunday 7 September 2014


"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

Ernest Hemingway

This has never worked for me mind you. After a few small sips of a rather strong cider called Red Dragon at a beer festival last weekend I was dancing at I came home and signed up to do the park run which started yesterday. Prior to this I was just talking about doing it! I ran the thing and improved my time from 43 mins back in the summer when it was so hot to 35.29. I nearly made it round but had a little stroll towards the end. Not too disappointed though as have twonked about on all my runs since the sponsored one and haven't tried to do 5K since then! I am not a natural runner but I did really enjoy it today and it costs nowt. There is no doubt it benefits my mental health which far outweighs the slog of heaving my carcase around the course!


The choice of photo is as ever totally random- just something that amused me in one of restaurants in Cardiff Bay!

Saturday 6 September 2014

You Are Unique....

You are unique, irreplaceable.
Did you know that? Why aren't you glad, astonished about yourself and about everyone else you know?

In searching for the deepest reason for human happiness....I always found, deep down, a sense of security, a great simplicity and a spontaneous joy in little things.

How is it that some people sit in the sun looking like sour apples- and that others whistle in the rain?

Don't weigh out your love like a grocer. Don't measure out in advance how much you will give, how far you will go in love.

Do you ever get the feeling that children are puzzled about the dull narrow-mindedness of grown-ups? When grown-ups are together they talk in code. When they meet somebody they ask about his job, his possessions, his connections and his education....But if you tell children about a friend they ask"Does he collect butterflies? Can he whistle? Can we go swimming?

Phil Bosmans

Friday 5 September 2014

Using Up Lemons.

I have been doing mysterious things with lemon and lime peel of late which left me with several peeled fruit. I am exceptionally good at tucking them in the fridge and rediscovering them resplendent with furry coats. Long past being used they are composted but not this time for I Got My Act Together. Our food wastage is already low but there's always more I can do.Today I've made some lemon jam using this recipe- it's sweet but tart and looks promising.

If anyone  is stuck for ideas for leftover lemon peel there are some ideas here

Even the lemon pips can be dried and reused if you are so inclined.

Over and out!


Thursday 4 September 2014

Stumbling Around In A Stupor.

I am quite sure I have seen some of these characters falling out of the local hostelries on a Friday night! These quirky boat races are to be found on one of the follies in Nymans....I am only just realising that my beloved gargoylesque type figures adorn buildings other than churches!

Following our recent holiday to the Wye Valley the fella on the left hand side also tickled my fancy. I do wonder if the stern looking dame on the far side is his trouble and strife. I never tire of spotting faces....after the 600th blog post on this topic others might though!


Tuesday 2 September 2014

A Family Postlet

This blog acts as my diary. Today the small person starts the next stage of his education as he enrols at college to do A levels. For personal reasons this is my way of marking it [it's my choice of song most definitely not his!]


Summer's Last Blast- The Hot Colours.

The second set of snaps as threatened!

"Erm now this one" she says stiffling a snigger and channelling her inner Rachel de Thame is a Magnolia Sargentiana Robusta [or so it said on the label!]


Monday 1 September 2014

Summer's Last Blast- The Cool Colours.

The first set of shots from yesterday. The more subtle colours.

The changing hues of the hydrangeas as they begin to go over in the first one caught my eye.

View across to the pinetum. In the foreground you can see a meadow of pincushion flowers. The hum from the bees was incredible.

Nymans seems to be able to blend architectural plants with the more familiar perennial ones seamlessly. I was very taken with some of the dramatic forms of the individual flower heads.

This is the view of the house that I love the most. It was partially ruined by fire in 1947.

More photos to follow tomorrow.



Being a soul who could win an Olympic Gold if overthinking was ever included as a sport, one thing which really helps me to slow down and be...