Friday, 21 December 2012

Thrifted Decs and Fairy Lights

With today being Winter Solstice (if you are reading this then, by Jove, the world hasn't ended. Hurrah!)  I felt it time to share my fairy lights with you (that is not a euphemism) 

I feel as though the Yuletide Spirit has finally graced me with her presence. The UK may be dark, miserable and wet at the moment, but this makes me feel all the more warm and cosy and all the more festive. Those fairy lights seem to burn somewhat brighter whilst the rain lashes against the window and the wind howls down the chimney.

Although we decorated our home way back at the very beginning of the month -  I am firmly in the longer-they-are-up-the-better-but-never-before-December camp - there are certain holiday items of mine that I never tire of looking at. I delight in taking them out of the box and greeting them with a cheery "hello". And I feel a little sad when I have to put them away again, knowing that it shall be 11 months until they are back in their places.

Being a whole hearted thrifty shopper, all of my beloved dec's have come to me via gifts, charity shops, car boots, the local jumble or the January sales -  usually right at the end of the month when things are super-dooper cheap. Especially in the case of the second hand items, I never stop wondering, as they stare back at me from their perches, about who they belonged to and if they were as cherished by their previous owners as they are by me.

One such item is a 1980's plate. It may hail from the decade of my birth -  but it has a very 40's looking scene glazed on to the front and it is this picture that makes me grin. From it's place in the kitchen windowsill, it is the thing I gaze at as I am washing up another load of plates and bowls. Yuletide in my home tends to be an steady round of making tasty treats and then the inevitable washing up that comes afterwards. As I scrub away at a stubborn piece of baked on cake mix, I wonder about if this lone plate has always been so, maybe on someone else's window sill or perhaps the soul survivor of a whole set that was only used on Christmas Day?

 A couple of years back, as a beautiful gift from an overseas friend, I received a pair of ruby red 1970's Avon glass goblets. When they arrived I knew that they would look even more jewel like if lit from within. A couple of tea lights later and the deal was sealed. Originally belonging to my pals mother, she had decided she no longer wanted them and so they winged their way to me.  I am pleased the report that they are now a permanent fixture of our end of year celebrations.

And lastly, upon the tree itself, nestled amongst the baubles, artificial greenery and twinkly lights are a set of wooden ornaments that I thrifted the year me and my other half moved into our flat. They are simple, but effective and they cost me all of 50p. A Santa, a Snowman and a Tree, dotted about and smiling out at me. 

I spy them when I am watching endless Yuletide TV specials and smile back.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Wartime Farm Charity Knit

What ho wondrous folk! This a very special post for a very special cause.

A couple of months back, I was contacted by the fabulous vintage knit designer and author Susan Crawford. Those of you adept at this knitting malark (I have yet to learn) will be all too familiar with her wonderful vintage knitting books and patterns. I can but stare at the photos and weep.

She had an idea that would sweep me off my feet and into fund raising mode without a moments hesitation.

With the success of the BBC Wartime Farm series in the Autumn, she wondered what I thought about her idea to design and sell a sleeveless pullover just like the one Alex Langlands wore on the show. She would be selling it for a mere £5.00 as a downloadable PDF.  I thought this most excellent.

But the best bit was yet to come (being further down in the email) Susan wanted to help raise funds for the Women's Land Army Tribute -  by giving half of each sale directly to the charity. She had very graciously asked me to become involved with seeking permissions for copyright, helping with press releases and ensuring promotion. 

Just as well -  for I cannot knit (weep)

I got in touch the lovely ladies at the Women's Land Army Tribute to and my contact at Octopus Publishing -  who handily cover all press for the Wartime Farm Team. Information and much enthusiasm was shared by all.

A truly versatile sleeveless pullover for kiddie winks and adults a like, the pattern comes with full instructions and yarn suggestions. I think this would look a treat teamed with a nice shirt and trews or over the top of a frock.

Smart enough for work, tough wearing enough for play, authentic enough for the most strident vintage enthusiast.

And so -  there we have it! 

Pretty much all ready to go and be knitted by your own fair hand! 

The official release shall be on the 9th January - but this can be pre-ordered now and shall be sent straight to your inbox - just in time to be knitted and worn in the snow (you know it's coming) and worn again and again through the seasons. 

I am so proud of being a part of this -  I could burst. 

Please -  spread the word good people on your blogs, twitter, facebook and anything else you can think of! There is a handy blog button on the top left sidebar -  feel free to use it on your own blogs if you so wish! It is 250x250 but can be made smaller should you so wish. I recommend PicMonkey for this.

Get tongues wagging and those needles clicking!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Brr-some Birthday Carouselling

There are few things that excite me more than an old fashioned carousel. With horses that bob up and down to chirpy music. I don't think I have been on one, if at all, since I was a wee small thing with bunches and a dolly under my arm.

So, imagine my delight, when upon rocking up to a Christmas Market on London's Southbank, I was greeted by a nostalgia inducing whirl-a-gig for only £2 a ride. 

And on my birthday no less! 

I clapped - well - slammed my fur-gloved hands together to make a dull thudding sound -  and ran up to the pay booth.

 I chose my steed. John, a slightly snarling black equine, was in the running, but I plumbed for Ronnie. She looked like something Mary Poppins would magic right off of the moorings and into a race. Which would be won and celebrated with song.

Although this didn't happen (much to my disappointment) I could have gone round and round and ROUND all day. Well worth every of it's 200 pence per ride.

After strolling up and down the rest of the market and parting with cash for some photographic artwork by Quirk London ,who has an amazing stall there, we headed for home and a nice fat steak.


Monday, 10 December 2012

Letters by Hand

Do you hand write much these days? No, me neither.  Apart from cards, diary appointments and.... letters to my penpals. On the whole, I like to take time out to sit and write them a letter on paper, with an actual pen.

It worries me that the art of letter writing is going to fall the way of vinyl, cassettes and CD's. The younger generation being all a wash with no handwritten memories to hold on to. A recent conversation with a teen in my midst made me frown a lot. It was all about texting and facebooking -  what was the point of writing something if it was not school work? 

Now -  I am as down with the kids at the next, but there are some things I think should not die out.

That said,  I am also partial to a tippy-tappy-typed letter, usually when I have left it a long time between letters and I know that I am going to be scribbling for a long time. I am also fond of an email or 2. I have become firm friends with my penpals over the years, and I like the instant connection that email provides.

However, you cannot escape the fact that giving and receiving a hand written letter, full of slices of news from someone's life, in ink and to keep forever, is a grand thing. I have boxes of letters from past lovers (so pleased I didn't burn them along with the photos. Sigh) and pen-friends and I have lost many an evening after stumbling across a box of them. They are like a little window into the past. Not only about their lives at the time -  but also my own. With the answering of questions I must have asked in my last letter. 

From my early teens to now, from parts of the UK to Europe, Canada, Australia and the States, I would not be without my friends of pens. I have read about their loves, losses, new jobs, the beginnings and endings of relationships, children, marriages, pets and holidays. It is all there, bound up and kept safe in decorative boxes. 

Just waiting for me to unravel and revel in.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Autumn Leaves and Curious Sheep

Just as I am not ready to forget about Summer -  it appears that I am hanging on to Autumn with the same gusto.

It was, for the most part, a glorious one. You usually know what you are going to get with this season. The leaves will always change colour - and that is all I need to keep me a happy gal.

If the sun comes out, say, on a free Sunday afternoon, then all the better. It means that we get to walk around one of our bestest National Trust haunts - Polsden Lacey. Not only am I in love with the grounds, the Edwardian hostess stories of the former owner Mrs Greville, but also the fact it is where George VI and the Queen Mother honeymooned in 1923.

 I like to think about them all as I wander around the grounds - the parties that were held, the famous and infamous guests who attended, and a young couple in love and with free reign over the whole estate.

I doubt they grabbed fistfuls of leaves (and pebbles - ouch), chucked them in the air and ran underneath them like me. Kicking up the leaves is fab - but making it rain tree foliage is something that makes me stupid happy.

Along with getting the most out of a summer frock with the aid of thermal undergarments and pair of woollen tights.

The downside of a leaf shower is the hair accessories it leaves behind (pun intended)

Walking round such a large estate has it's drawbacks. Like not actually being prepared for an hour and a half trek. A saunter? I could handle that. But a full on march was not on my agenda. Alas, The Beard had other ideas. Which involved water logger tracks and a field full of curious sheep.

My poor brogues.

On a major plus side -  we saw hardly another human soul and had the walk all to ourselves.

Apart from the aforementioned sheep.

The sun was out, the leaves were a-changing and the autumn fruits were ready to be gobbled by the birds.

I did spy some rosehips near these glorious red jewels -but fear that my idea of making rosehip anything this year has passed me by. I could not reach them, let along pick them. 

Next year my pretties, next year.


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