Friday, 30 December 2011

Blowing out the Cobwebs



The Beard and I have a tradition. 

We like to, during the last days of the year, head off to the coast to freshen up after the tiring, but uber fun, festive season.



We have nice breakfast, usually something eggy on toast. I have red sauce, he has brown. We both gulp copious amounts of Earl Grey to get us nice and hydrated for the day ahead.


Although, today, Mrs Weather Cloud decided to visit us with her own hydration. Despite this, I failed to take an umbrella with me. I am a fool.


After a nice and relaxed morning, where we did debate staying in on account of the inviting cocooning quality of candles in teacups, we finally headed off to Brighton. 

I had read, waaay back in the summer, this delightful post by The Owl & The Accordion
and as I knew we would be heading there, I hunted it down and found out how to get to the Brighton Flea Market. I had never been to that part of town before, but I am sure glad I found it. For it afforded me something I have been hunting for an age.

A single butter knife.


It may seem an odd thing to covet - but my Nan has always had a single knife for buttering, and until today, I had only even seen them in a bunch for purchase. For the hefty sum of 100 pence -  this bad boy was mine!


The rain held off once we got down to the sea front, so instead of marching forth with my head down, I stopped for a quick photo. I confess to being a little in love with this skirt. It has a sister in blue, which I stupidly washed and now need to iron the hell out of - but meh. They came to me from a charity shop for £3 each. Hurrahs. I am also wearing my first ever pair of thick knee high socks. Which I am also in love with.


We decided to get some chips -  as is the law when by the coast. This evil looking gull told me numerous times that they should be his. I told him to poke off.


For these were yummersome chips. They made me look a little manic, such was the delight they brought. 
(because I obviously have failed to eat enough crap to sink a battleship this festive season)


You can't have ANY Mr Gull. These are miiiiiiiiine!


Perhaps the next thing we did was a bad idea on account of the recent nommings, and The Beards aversion to heights. We decided to have a ride on the Brighton Wheel.


As we took off to enjoy a birds eye view of the seaside we love, I did think that The Beard might treat me to a private showing of Chips Revisited.


But, by the time the 2nd rotation over the grey sky line was starting, he felt a lot better. Which made me tres excited.

The day ended with rain, hair that lost all curl and had to be stuffed up into my beret and more old things including a Bakelite pin box and a whistling kettle.

This will be my last post for 2011 -  and what a year it has been. I have made so many friends via blogging it makes me a little teary to think about it in detail. From chums on Twitter to comments left by readers to fellow bloggettes that I have met up with on various occasions -  it has all been a ball.

Here's to 2012 -  see ya there!


Saturday, 24 December 2011

A Festive Message



So - here it is again folkettes. Another year, another season of red, green and goodwill to most men and all that. I am feeling distinctly un-festive this year. Despite having a December birthday, which means all things tinsel should at least ignite some kind of glee in my soul -  it ain't there.

 I am trying to decide if I am just to old of all this jazz now - or there is something wrong with my Festive Spirit. Perhaps she got lost in the post -  along with the cold weather?


But, all that said and done, it has not stopped me from decorating. I have pretty much sprinkled the flat with the same stuff as last year  with some new additions such as Crimbo bunting**. I don't give a hoot if people find bunting twee - I like my decorations to be missed when they are gone - and a strapping set of red & green embellished triangles shall suffice.

**replace the "B" with a "C" on the word bunting and you have how we actually feel about this addition  due to it continually falling down, spooking us with its whooooshing sound. We have now industrial taped it to the wall.
It will possibly never come off.


I have left my trench art (newest piece on the left) on the hearth and used a lovely old plate, that I found in a charity shop for a whole golden pound, as a centre piece.

We even fixed the dusty old lights in the fireplace for the occasion. Note the stuffed chimmney. It contains pilliows wrapped in black sacks to keep out the cold. Class.


I made some Christmas Pud bon-bons for our annual Yuletide shingdig with friends a couple of weeks back and decided to pull my bestest Nigella reaction for the photo.  But not a jot of this is making me feel remotely festive.

Not *even* listening to Happiest Christmas Tree a la Nat King Cole,
with a dash of Cool Yule from Mr Armstong. On repeat.


So I thought I would try to cheer myself with a knitted Christmas pudding tea cosie. I guess I could tell you all that I have learnt to knit, but I have not learnt how to knit, much to my consternation. So I bought this from Folksy. Me loves it.


And with my new camera, I snaffled a picture of blood red wintery sky. It is warm and bleak all at the same time. Ain't it pretty!


Whilst I watch the sun go down over Yuletide (in my rollers) and await a new year (because, honestly, I am done with this one. It whizzed by so quick, it has left me spinning!) I shall be having a snuggle with Mrs Elsa-Pops. And my own cats. Natch. I am hoping this shall cheer me somewhat.

The Beard and I are having the 25th all to ourselves where we shall eat roast lamb, drink red wine and watch Christmas movies in christmas pyjamas. I might not even wash my face. Yeah. That kind of day.

I sincerely hope you enjoy your's -  what ever you are doing.

Over and.....

Oh wait! I have a special message from a certain pushka to her parents - and to all of you lucious readers of my humbly offered waffles:


   

I think the Festive Spirit might have just knocked at the door....

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Cat's Of LandGirl Heights & a Yuletide Guest


In amongst all the many tons of old-lady toot at LandGirl Heights, there live 2 cats.

They can be hard to spot behind the piles of books and/or washing (I am such a slattern), so it is just as well they spend most of their time sleeping on our bed.

Usually on a discarded paper bag. 

Weirdo's.

Wanna meet 'em?



This is Charlie Girl. Not that she actually ever gets called that. 

She is known as Woo. Or Mrs Woo. Or Woozle-Bub.

She is a very sweet natured cat, until she does this....


She came to me via a friend and has proudly been carried round on my shoulder, like a infant that needs winding, for the last 8 years. She is convinced that she is, in fact, a human and displays this by sleeping, at face height, betwixt The Beard and I on a nightly basis.

When it's cold she wraps her spotty tummy round my head, which often wakes me in a dry mouthed sweat. She just mews and stretches out, radiating in my bonce heat.


The next pushka in my collection is Memphis. 

Or Memmy-Puss, Moof, Mr Memphas, Fluffy-Pants or Moofa-Choops.

He is a very pretty boy and he has been part of my life (and his fur in part of every meal I eat and everything I wear) for 7 years.


I rescued him as a kitten and he is the most lovable, yet scatty-skitty kitty I have ever met. He flaps & fusses if The Beard walks into the kitchen when he is eating, looks at him like he has never seen him in any one of his 9 lives and bolts. He then pads about on The Beards jumper as though he is his best friend. Freak.

As for me - he is a spoilt monster-puss and will only let me hold him about like a baby. This is my own fault, because I used to carry him everywhere in the crook of my arm when he was a poorly, freshly rescued kitten. He is a hefty adult now. Fat Moofter.

But. There is a new, temporary feline chowing down on the Go Cat this Yuletide....


We are looking after Miss Elsa of Penny Dreadful Vintage fame. 

PDV has jetted off for the warmer family filled climes of Oz for Christmas and we offered to scoop the poop, scratch the tummy of and furnish this beautiful moggy with an abundance of string whilst she is away. It was either that or a cattery - which would probably have cost more than her flight.


Not that she is actually called Elsa whilst she is with us. Her nick names thus far are:

Elsa-Pelsa, Miss E Hiss, Pelsa-Pops, Pops, Mrs Mewson and Christmas Cat.

There have been tense moments. I shan't lie. The Woo initially bounded up to her, as though she were a reflection, and then hissed. She hasen't stopped as yet. But. She will now share a room with her. Whilst hissing.

The Moof wants only to be her friend (and eat her leftovers) but Elsa has shooed him and his fluffy-pants away.


She is a stunning mog and we have considered moving and breaking all contact with her loving owners just so we can keep her. She is nudgy, drooly and purrrrsome. With talons of massivness. She loves to nom our streamers and is super quick when it comes to chasing twine. I have nearly lost a toe on more than one occasion.

Alas, she is not ours and our good deed shall be done and dusted by the beginning of 2012. So. I shall have to get in ooober extra hugs with Pelsa-Pops.

And here endeth the Cat Tour

Meeow-ver & Out!



Monday, 12 December 2011

An obscene amount of floral curtain


Winter is upon us. 

And as much as I love cold weather, I loathe being cold in my own home. Alas -  I also loathe high energy bills. Aside from putting masking tape on the window seals to combat the wind (a downside of living up high) wearing jumpers, fisherman's sock's from the market (for £3 -  Best. Things. Ever.) and heaving myself off the sofa to do to the occasional round of star jumps (much to the amusement of The Beard "..watch out love, you'll give yourself black eyes." Har. Har. Har)  -  I have had to look into alternatives.


Enter the "We-Need-A-Really-Thick-Heavy-Long-Curtain" conversation, the ensuing charity shop trawl, the possibility of making one's own and the eventual "This-Is-Impossible-We-Shall-Have-To-Spend-One-Million-Pounds-On-Tailor-Made's" chat. 

We gave up. 

Star jumps and the odd game of chase the cat round the flat it would have to be.



Until we went to visit The Folks. And were offered a luxurious, heavy, tailor-made curtain of length. When Mar and Par bought the house I grew up in (a 1930's semi -  WANT!), Mar begged Par for "real proper curtains". They cost a bomb. I remember it well. That said -  they are the only curtains I have ever known, such is their quality. 


And Mar had one spare. In the airing cupboard. A spare one with a pelmet. She offered it to me and told me that I could do with it as I saw fit.


Unfortunately, it was a tad too short for our balcony door. Where most of the breeze comes from, despite draft excluders. I cursed. I stomped. I started counting the pennies in my dusty purse for the One-Million-Pound-Curtain fund. 

I didn't get very far when an idea of monumental proportions slapped me in the chops.

TAKE THE PELMET OFF AND STITCH IT TO THE BOTTOM.

It is a testement to how well they were made as I managed to not mangle the hell out of them. Much cutting, stitching, more cursing and hair rolling later and...

 TAAAAAA-DAAAAAAAAAA!!! 



Curtains of Plenty!!

Thanks Mar!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Forest Green Coatery



I already have a coat.  In fact, I have several decent winter bluster-proof body coverings. Do not get me wrong. And were I an actual  lass from a bygone era-  I may only have had one good winter coat: ever.  

But I isn't. And so I have a few on rotation. Some, I have recently rotated out to the Age Uk Donate a Coat appeal.

So - when I saw, what I believe to be a 1960's coat of warmth for a snip at £10 in a charity shop, I needed it. 

Right? 



Whilst not flattering in shape on me - it was more than pleasing in shade. 

For it was green. A green of foresty hews of greeness. 


I tried it on and thought it to be hideous. I made the above face. The Beard mumbled a comment about Pat Butcher. I had to agree. But then I remembered by all time favourite ever ever ever accessory.


The humble belt!!

 Kept safely in the deep and cosy pockets of this wool / cashmere blend coat of bargains, it has pulled it all in and given it a shape I like.


This is my smug face. On account of the belt. And the price. And, most of all the toasty greenery that is now mine.

Yippy, yippy ,whoop, whoop, whoop!!!!




Thursday, 1 December 2011

Badges of Yuletide - Splendid Sponsors - Acorn & Will



The wondrous Acorn and Will have some tasty bits and pieces this season. I never fail to find something that creates a big ol' smile across my chops.


And with the season of giving and receiving upon us, how fab are these


 A step away from their usual bakelite inspired lovelies, I am a little bit in love with them for their retro-ness.


They remind me of the Christmas cards my paternal Nan used to send to me.


They would make a lovely stocking filler and  - for a snip at £1.25 each -  you could literally fill a stocking with them.


These are my bestest one -  but there are at least 10 others to choose from. I have to say, the snow man and cheeky robin have struck a cord with me. It would look lovely on a cardy


As would this glorious, cheery Santa. Or on a black dress for the office party perhaps? Hmmmm...

Tis the season and these kitsch bits make me jolly!!

Ho ho ho-over and out!
(geddit?


Monday, 28 November 2011

BBC Land Girls - Series 3 - Review


Oooooh weeeeeeeee!! I cannot tell you how excited I was to be able to return to Pasture Farm recently and back into the lives of the Land Girls. I liked  Series 1.  I fell in love with  Series 2 

So -  Imagine my delight when a third instalment graced my (catch-up) screen.


I really feel that, although this show is aired at what I like to call "Little Old Lady Nap Time" -  a slot usually reserved for re-runs of things such as Midsomer Murders (ack) or Dr Quinn Medicine Woman (mm mm mmmmm Sully. What?), there is something about it that makes me smile and want to watch.


This stint of the show did not disappoint. I just wish there were more than 5 episodes.

Characters have returned and been expanded, new ones have been added. The lovable Finch is still hapless and, well, lovable. The hateful Mrs Gulliver is as caustic as ever and, well, hateful. I can't help shouting obscenities at her from my sofa.

My bestest ever character, Connie Carter, is there with bells and bows on, which pleased me no end. 


 
I feel that there was certainly more grit added to this run, which is exactly what I thought was missing in series 1. Yes, not everything is correct, but then again, it is not a historical documentary. It is a drama. A drama that, to me, has enough research sprinkled into it to keep my attention.


A dungaree-wearing 7/10!



Thursday, 24 November 2011

Floral Skirtings - outfit post


Why is it, that sometimes, with no thinking or planning, hair and outfit seem to flutter together? I would love to say that this happens to me on a regular basis, but, 9 times out of 10 you will find me standing in front of the wardrobe / mirror / The Beard foul-mouthed, flustered and flummoxed. 


A sunny Sunday, back in the weird Autumn-Summer season we had in the UK, I decided upon the below. And I really liked it. Plus, on account of cat-sitting a chums spectacular Cat-ula, I had a garden to ponce about posing in.


In this picture I looked at the sky. It was blue.


In this picture I did my impression of a Puffa-Fish.

 

And in this one I am looking off into the middle distance wondering what to think about. I decided on chocolate. Natch.

I do love a multi season outfit and I think this skirt (£3 charity shop -  win) and my minty cardy will work just as nicely with boots, or thick tights and brogues for the colder weather.

But, knowing me, I shall relegate it, forget about it and end up flustered and flummoxed once more.

And, of course, foul mouthed.

Tutty-Byyeeeeeeeeee!



Monday, 21 November 2011

WW1 Vacance l'Histoire - Jour Trois



So, ready for more? I shall try to keep my rambling to a minimum, but this post encompasses a fine museum, a trek into the middle of a field, the laying of a very special wreath and the newest cemetery in France.

Hold on to your eggs.... Here we go....   



The weather was glorious on our third day, just as we were finishing our stint in France and heading off to Belgium. Typical.  The Madonna and Child atop the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Brebieres in Albert, was in all her shiny, golden glory. Hit by a shell in 1915, badly damaged and near collapse, legend had it that whoever made the Golden Virgin fall would lose the war.

Lovely and scorchio it may have been, but being Brits after all - we were thankful of the cool chasms of The Somme Museum, situated beneath the Basilica. This vast network of tunnels deep beneath the town's streets served as shelter for the townsfolk during WW2.



It was mighty cold down there if I am honest (yeah -  I know.. too hot.. too cold.. too whingey) but I enjoyed the museum for the abundance of artifacts that it has on display.


It did amaze me what seems to have been rounded up and kept for posterity. All of it is well displayed and the information boards are, well, informative, both for the knowledgeable and beginners. A perfect combination.


The museum is also home to some fabulous trench art. The attention to detail that has gone into every piece is clearly visible and one of my favourite pieces is below. Although many of the artifacts, such as this, have been donated, there is rarely any back story to read  -  which I feel is a bit of a shame.


There are also real, touchable items on display. These barbed wire supports, for example, gave an eerie reminder of the battlefields. This would be behind glass in the UK -  so it was unusual to be able to get up close to something like this.


Thankfully, what is behind glass are these mannequins. Certainly not the worst I have ever seen, but some of them were quite comical in their unintentional way. Pretty much like every mock up I have ever seen then. That said, these sorts of things do have their place and are the best way to display uniforms.



The thing that struck me most, aside from the trench art, was the store room of artifacts that just seemed to have been dumped into one of the alcoves. I like the way that they have just been left there, with no write ups and no glass, just some railings. I think this pile speaks for itself.


And, like all museums I have ever visited, you exit through the gift shop. Now, last year, I bought a piece of trench art. I had no idea that this sort of thing was on sale. So, this year, bearing the aforementioned in mind, I returned with plenty of cash. But, alas, there was not much to be had. I did buy one piece, for about £30 - but I had been prepared to buy a lot more. It would seem that this sort of thing is in short supply now, possibly bought up by other tourists or perhaps museums.


We said Au Revior to Albert, jumped in the car and made our way towards Ieper, Belgium -  aka Ypres or Wipers. But, this being a go-see-do-stuff kind of trip, there were always things to do along the way. And this part specifically involved Gramps.

On our first trip, Pops had put in a lot of work finding out information about Gramps, were he was based, where he was killed and -  where his trench would have been.




He found all this out, and, armed with a compass, some maps and the old triangulation one two -  we drove into the middle of a field, via a farmers track. When I say the middle of a field, I do mean literally the middle.

We went back this year to show Mum and The Beard, and like my visit to Arras, the emotion involved was no less. No sound except the wind in the grass and the birds flitting about. Being there, in the middle of a field, it is hard to imagine men having dug and lived in trenches that can still clearly be seen from aerial shots of the landscape.


From here we headed into the small village of Noreuil. This is the where the limited war diaries that we have place Gramps, on the day of his death. The village has a small Australian Cemetery that contains 2 British, unknown graves. 

As Gramps was killed in this village, we figure, chances are, one of them might actually be him. Obviously we have no proof, but, as a family, we choose to believe that it might be true. And as such, we lay a wreath. 


As there are 2 graves, I laid my wreath (again -  prepared by Dad -  he's good ain't he) at the same place as last year and my Mum placed hers at the other.


Noreuil is a very quiet place which has many a field, with many a poppy. So, I decided to snatch one for my diary. I am pleased I took a photo of it, as by the time we reached the hotel in Ypres, it had turned a deep red.


Last stop for the day was the new cemetery at Pheasant Wood which is the resting place of 250 British and Australian soldiers who died in The Battle of Fromelles.



On a visit to the Imperial War Museum last year, I was lucky enough to see a small exhibit  telling the tale of the burial plots, how they were discovered, the artifacts that were recovered (including a return pass to a soldiers home country of Australia) and the building and interring of these lost, but not forgotten, men.  


The rain had started to come down in earnest by this point, and I did consider rushing back to the car. I am glad that I decided to walk around the whole thing, because had I not, I would have missed the below grave stone. The interesting thing about Pheasant Wood is that, due to the time that has passed and now that the confusion of the time is over, more information has been found out about the men involved. And as such, more personal details have been included by the relatives. Such as nick names, personal messages from children, or simple poems.



The last leg of the journey was taken over by a quick kip in the back of the car and some re-reading of Testament of Youth, before we arrived in Ypres. We decamped to our rooms, I ate more Kinder Schokobons than I care to admit and I suffered an episode of "Rosemary & Thyme" -  but, somehow, ended up watching it until the end.

We then met for dinner at a lovely restaurant called Poppy's (very popular with tourists, reasonably priced & proper scrummy) and then headed up to The Menin Gate for the 8pm ceremony.  

On the way back we went past an artist's stall. A certain gentleman called Soren Hawkes. Par and me met him last year and ended up chatting to him quite a bit on both nights we were in Ypres. We both bought some prints and bade our goodbyes. I went back to have a peek this year to see if he had any new work and was handed this.......




This is an original, made to measure, just for me pencil drawing, which my Dad had arranged. Of the direct line from Gramps to me. Featured are my G-Grandad, in his ARP WW2 uniform, my Nan (aka Glam), my Mar and me.

Needless to say, I burst into tears. Which my Dad was filming. Notice how I chose to omit the offending live image sobfest from this post.

If you are interested in Soren Hawkes' work -  please have a peek over at his website -  Passchendaele Prints


That's all for our third installment.

Ta-ra's for nows!





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