Monday, 31 December 2007

*~*~*~*~*HAPPY NEW YEAR* ~*~*~*~*

I have had a wonderful year. The last three months of 2007 have been enriched by the friendships that I have made through writing a blog.. I am so grateful to you all for keeping me company and sharing your worlds with me..
Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year and good Kismet for 2008!
With love and the very best wishes to you all for the coming year..
Michele xxx

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Chasing rainbows!

Hello Bloggers.. I am back.. in spirit if not in mind.. as I must confess that I have lost my mind a little over the last week of lethargy and gluttony!
I hope that you have all had joyous and memorable Christmas celebrations.. and have got through the mine field of family politics unscathed..
Not wishing to sound like a belated humbug.. I am glad that I am on this side of Christmas and the door to 2008 is slightly ajar.. I am always a restless soul at this time of year and can't wait to get going and forge ahead with a New Year a clean slate and a blank calendar to fill! There is an irrisistible urge to put the past behind me and enter an uknown territory.. I am sure that I am not alone in this psychology..?!

After a fairly tropical Christmas day (central heating at full blast at in-laws) we swopped the heat for a blast of fresh cold air and headed for the hills of Dartmoor Devon..
I lost my heart to the hills of this bleak but beautiful moor many years ago as a child when travelling en route to Cornwall for family holidays.. it was a love hate relationship that I had then as I just wanted to cross it as quickly as possible to get to our destination but I was smitten by the endless peaks and valleys and the raw beauty of the place.

on top of the world ...

To return this time was ... bliss! No shops, no crowds, no noise .. other than the roar of the wind past my ears as we climbed one of the many tors and gazed out upon a timeless landscape of hills towards the sea... pure bliss!

It certainly blew the cobwebs away and as we clambered refreshed and pink cheeked back into the car the heavens opened and a rainbow appeared... now that's a good omen I thought!

I would love to hear how you spent your Christmas and intend to catch up with you all on the other side of 2007..
Wishing you all a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR and may your hopes and dreams come true in 2008..
Much love to you

Monday, 24 December 2007

Good Tidings to you all ..

Sunday, 23 December 2007

If in doubt...

Go for a walk...
and that is just what we did today.. it was a perfect misty moisty day and the hills around Bath were alive with the sound of ... wellies squelching through the muddy fields.
When I was in the 24 hour throes of labour having my son at a hospital in Bath.. the view from my bed was of the most beautiful hills to the west of Bath city centre.. and I vowed that one day I would walk up these hills as they looked so inviting.
It has only taken me 13 years to manage this pilgrimage but today the time was ripe and so we set off to climb a hill ...

Oh what a beautiful hill it is too..

The views on our trek across the fields were stunning..I felt as though we were standing on the edge of the world with the mist below..

Beloved of mine got a sneaky shot of another old landmark.. tee hee hee!

So if you have over indulged and have O.D on the preps this is the perfect antidote.. get out and walk!!
I have looked at the long range weather over Christmas .. ever hopeful that we will wake up to a white washed landscape one day. The forecast was full of promise yesterday and showed lots of little snowflakes around the 2nd of January.. but today the same forecast showed sunny crisp days... I am happy either way as long as I can romp on the moor as we are off to Dartmoor apres Christmas... Can't wait!

So it only leaves me to squeeze in just one more
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL! I hope your Christmas brings happiness and harmony and 2008 is full of hope and good health..
Much love

P.s Happy Christmas from me too!

Pickles xx ( A Pickles lookilike)

Friday, 21 December 2007

It must be Christmas!!

Well something tells me it must be Christmas because Santa has left me another present ... not under the tree.. or in my stocking (40 denier tights in my case) .. but this morning I discover to my great joy and utter amazement that I have another award.. this time from the lovely bonny and always bouncy..( in a Tigger sort of way) Kath at Beeswax !
THANK YOU so much for this Kath ... I will place it very carefully on my blog mantel with the other award that I received from Kristina yesterday...
I must say that these awards are the icing on the cake for me but the truth is I get so much out of reading your blogs each day and your daily comments are all the rewards I could wish for.. I love communicating with you all! I do hope that doesn't sound ungrateful... I am pleased as punch with my latest accolades!

I thought that I would cram in just one more reference to Christmas before the festive frenzy really kicks off..

I decided not to put off the inevitable gift wrapping marathon any longer .. so with the help of my little furry friend (or not so much help as hindrance) I waded through Phase 1 of this slightly masochistic chore..
I love the idea of wrapping up presents but in reality.. when the sellotape has decided to stick to itself for the umpteenth time and Pickles has sabotaged each tying of ribbon and string..

the novelty starts to wear thin and I wish that it was all nicely packaged and sitting under the tree and me in an armchair with a restorative cup of tea!!

How do you wrap a spider ...or is it an octopus?

Pickles worked up a thirst with all his gift wrapping help and helped himself to a drink... My glass of water!!!

Lastly.. what would a blog be without a small mention of the weather..
Yesterday was mighty cold but wonderful... I love crisp frosty days. The frost lingered all day in our street and I spotted this wonderful frozen hand print on a car windscreen... that's what I call a frosty reception!

Have a wonderful day and don't let that wrapping get the better of you. XXX

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Red Carpet Day!

' Twas on a frosty morning, just as the day was dawning.. Oh dear.... I seem to have forgotten the rest!
Hello one and all...
I switched on my faithful lap top this morning and was delighted to discover that I have been awarded and award!!
This very kind accolade has been bestowed on me by Kristina at Shabbily Ever After and I am chuffed to bits with it!
Thank you so much Kristina... I so enjoy reading about other peoples little 'confides' and I hope that my seven do not let the side down!

So here goes.. seven random facts about me..

1. I am half Belgian and speak little French .. shame on me!

2. I get a real kick out of nature and can sit on a hill top for hours admiring a view. Dartmoor is one of my favourite places
for doing just this !

3. I love to ‘connect’ with people and make them happy.. sounds horribly smug but it is true.. I would rather give than receive

4. I am passionate about my garden and will literally watch things grow!

5. I have an ongoing soap box rant…. I can’t abide bad manners, rude people, greed and inconsiderate behaviour.. Grrrrr!

6. I fell in love when I was 15 years old and was reunited 25 years later. Still very much in love!

7. I wish I had seven more things to say but I have probably said too much already… but lastly… I am SO grateful to all you
sincere bloggers for your loyal company along my brief path in Blogland! I have had a bit of a renaissance since I started
blogging and you have all inspired me in so many ways..Long Live Blogging!

I hope you are not all too fraught with the countdown to Christmas... I have left it to fate now... if we have run out of mince pies.... too bad. Let them eat cake!!

I am not sure if I am supposed to pass on this award... ??? I would like to make a presentation after Christmas if that is O.K with you..I have a little award of my own up my sleeve.. watch this space!

P.s... I should be entering into the spirit of this so I will not wait till after Christmas .. therefore I would like to award
The Amazing Blogger award to

Becky at Sweet Cottage Dreams ... a truly beautiful blog!

Annie at Saucerful of Secrets ...A talented and lovely lass!

Kim at Ragged Roses ... All things bright and beautiful here!

Enjoy your award and red carpet moment and please tell us 7 things about yourself that you would like to share ....

Update Sunday 23rd December .. I had completely overlooked the fact that dear Carol from Katherine's Dream had also awarded me this award having passed it on from Kristina... so sorry Carol.. I think I need stronger reading glasses as I didn't notice your dedication until yesterday.. Silly me! Thank you so much..XX

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Much ado about nothing...

Today is not going according to plan. I had it all mapped out in my mind that I would rise early and down my customary bowl of porridge ( rocket fuel) and set off on foot to deliver more Christmas cards by hand and try to burn off a few of the mince pies that are stuck to my hips and thighs!
Yesterday was such a sharp beautiful day and I walked and puffed my way up hills for several miles ( it seemed ) and came home feeling bouncy and buoyant and just a intsy wintsy bit slimmer for having had some much needed exercise.

I can't seem to get motivated this morning and have been whirling around the house like a Dervish.. trying to restore some order and re-arrange the dust, that conspires to settle the moment my back is turned.

How do you do it ??

Whenever I see your gorgeous homes on display I feel such a failure... ME ... the original neurotic housewife has failed to keep up standards.. Do you all live on film sets I suspect??
Please tell me that it is all carefully arranged and tweaked for a photo session..!

I think I should get out now and continue with the outdoor pursuits rather than going mad indoors and achieving diddly squat in the process....

I will return I hope with something to show for my efforts...


3.00 p.m and home for tea with a slight degree of red nose and cold paws!
Unfortunately I do not have any photos of my afternoon jaunt to share with you... the skies were murky and my hands so cold that I couldn't operate the camera properly.

I have decided it is too dark now to embark on any significant housework.. so in order to thaw out I have made a nice cup of tea and I am going to eat my whole quota of calories for the day in a slice of my home-made chocolate cake..

This recipe came from the latest edition of Country Living magazine and though I say it myself... it is truly truly scrumptious.
For a true confession now.. this is the first chocolate cake that I have ever made.. as I prefer fruitier cakes or Carrot cake most of all! It is an easy recipe to follow but uses obscene amounts of chocolate and sugar.. oh well... I'll go on a 10 mile hike tomorrow to burn it off!

I have just received this lovely Christmas email from Collelungo in Chianti Italy where we stayed for a brief 3 day visit in August.. it was 90F around the pool and the most idyllic peaceful haven you could wish to find tucked away in the Chianti hills in Tuscany...

It looks slightly cooler in this Christmas photo card but nonetheless... heavenly!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Cowboys & Custard Company Christmas Party!

This year I decided to celebrate the Christmas season by holding a staff party for Cowboys & Custard.

The idea for my Cowboys & Custard business was born on January 1st 2007 on a long rural walk to blow away the cobwebs and start the New Year with renewed vigour and inspiration. I had spent the previous couple of years in a state of limbo brought about by both my parents passing away during that time..
I was determined to pick myself up and dust myself off and get on with life and try to put some of the trauma behind me..
I am a firm believer in something good to be found in adversity and so felt that this new rush of inspiration was due and I was rearing to get on with life!
Yesterday I celebrated the near anniversary of my Cowboys & Custard enterprise by holding a staff meal at a local country inn.

The guest list comprised of.. Managing Director, Creative Director, Chief Administrator, Accountant, Sales Manager and chauffeur... in short... just me and my beloved!
'Me' being the bulk of the staff as I am very much a one man band.. and my beloved the long suffering but loyal chauffeur.
My darling son.. Company critic.. was staying with a friend for the day so did not join the celebration.

We got to the inn early expecting a rush of customers and local walkers who usually descend on the pub for a hearty Sunday lunch. Having arrived 10 minutes early.. we shuffled our feet outside waiting for the door to open and longingly stared at the fire roaring inside..

Being the first in we headed for our favourite table near the fire ...

..ordered our drinks... my occasional tipple .. Guinness being my chosen drink.

Then we scoured the menu and I decided on a very traditional Christmas Fayre ....Chicken Satay in Naan! My chauffeur choosing his usual Sunday diet of roast beef dinner!

It was scrumptious as the food always is at this particular Inn.

It was a modest Company party without the usual circus of hopeless inebriation and excrutiating office etiquette and politics.
I am thankful that I have not had to go to one of these obligatory 'does' for some years now having been self- employed for 13 years!

We did however have much fun.
I was even spared the financial ruin of this meal as my beloved paid! Company profits would not stretch that far this year!!! Maybe next year it will be tea at the Ritz for Cowboys & Custard Enterprises! One can but dream!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Take one tree .....

First Find a tree...

1. Go to local farm to search for tree

2. Select tree from multitudes...

3. Wait patiently for tree to arrive.

4.Make choice and pay for tree.

5. Take tree home and search for baubles.

6. Decorate tree... or not ... in Pickle's case.

7. Resist all temptation to raid tree for chocolate just hung from branches.

8. FAIL !

Friday, 14 December 2007

The Film that stole Christmas...

We all have traditions and none more so than at Christmas where we dust off the tinsel and baubles each year and clothe our lives in glitter and glitz for the the few weeks that make up the festive season.
In our household we have a tradition that paves the way for Christmas day and tomorrow night we shall gather to pay homage to this favourite ...
Yes... it's Grinch time again!
When I first heard about this film based on Dr Seuss classic tale of 'The Grinch who stole Christmas'.. I was very keen to see it but then nearly declined when I heard that Jim Carrey was to play the main Grinch character. I am not a fan of his and in fact find him quite irritating with his facial gymnastics in earlier films like 'The Mask'. I put my prejudices aside and went with my son and beloved to see the film when it came round to our local flea pit.. cinema!
Well.. I don't think I have laughed so much... so much so that I had to almost be restrained and given the kiss of life when I couldn't catch my breath for laughing so hard. If you have not seen this film then I urge you to do so... even if you are not a fan of Mr Carrey.. please give it a try as it has some classic lines in the story and the Grinch character is utterly hilarious and charming in a green hairy cantankerous sort of way..
We are huge fans and each have our favourite catch phrases from the film... watch the clip below for some of the classic Grinchy highlights My personal favourite is when the Grinch is building his Santa sleigh with the help of his long suffering sidekick Max. He tests the sleigh in the fashion of a crash test dummy.. after hitting the target at high speed he announces "airbags a bit slow" two pathetic balloons inflate rather belatedly! Wonderful stuff.

There are other favourite classics of mine like The Railway Children that never fails to reduce me to tears.. tears of bitter- sweet happiness.

I would love to know what your favourite festive films are....please tell !

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Mutterings ....

O.K .... I have been writing my blog throughout the day but only in my mind which is fatal. I think of all the things I wanted to say and now I am faced with a blank canvas.. I have forgotten everything I intended to write about.. oh my memory is getting worse by the day.
So today's contribution is a little bit of this and that and a lot of not very much in particular!
I did my usual trek to the local P.O today and noticed that there were several doors in our street adorned with Christmas wreaths of varying sizes and a variety of materials.. This alone would have made a nice feature to blog.. the different coloured doors and their decorations.. but though I do not go far these days without my trusty camera.. I could not pluck up the courage to take a snap of each door as I passed. I feared I would be branded a member of the local Paparazzi if spotted taking shots of people's homes.. as far as I know we do not have the likes of Nicholas Cage in our humble crescent but who knows?
I did live two doors from Tears for Fears drummer once! I was tempted to put a plaque on our house wall (there are many of these in Bath of famous folk who have dwelled here at some time) 'Michele lives here.. she's not famous but her cat is!'
After doing a second trip to the P.O an hour or so later.. my nose detected the smell of snow.. well.. one can dream. It was certainly cold enough today and the clouds rolled in this afternoon so by my calculations... rain + cold air = snow.. doesn't it?
Or is it just cold rain ?
I did warn you that I was rambling a bit today.. not only on foot but my mind has gone A.W.O.L too!
I took some more photos in town today to brighten up this bleak midwinter day..

One of the many well dressed windows in Bath..

Need I explain ..?

These violets looked too good to be true.. beautiful colour!

One for the door...

My little indulgence for the day.. my favourite flowers.. Ranunculus... from the Buttercup family and anemones. Perfect combination. Constance Spry would be proud of me.. now that's showing my age!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Now that's Quality!

Don't you just love the new Quality Street advert on telly?

Which sweetie is your favourite? Personally I love the purple one with a hazelnut in caramel.. oh but then I love the green triangle ... oh but what about the gold toffees... oh darn it! how is a hopeless chocoholic supposed to choose JUST one ?!

A grand day out...

Today was the day the teddy bears had their picnic... well not exactly a picnic, tooooo cold, but there was a gathering and it involved cups of tea and very nice it was too!
I met fellow blogger Jayne today from Country Cottage Chic and we went off to The American Museum in Bath. The museum holds a permanent collection of American Folk Art & Colonial History to name but a few attractions and at this time of year they decorate the museum with lavish Christmas decorations and trimmings..the buildings are set on a hillside to the south of Bath and overlooking the most beautiful Limpley Stoke Valley..

It was a real treat for me to wander round this elegant house and see some of the wonderful collections of artifacts and household items from colonial Shaker to elegant New York town house all carefully reconstructed and sympathetically displayed with the haunting smell of freshly baked gingerbread wafting up from the early colonial kitchen..

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any photos in the museum so my faithful camera had to stay put in my bag.
I did get a sneaky photo of the charming gift shop..

To be perfectly honest... Jayne and I chatted virtually non stop from the moment she picked me up from my home to the time she dropped me off! I had a wonderful day and it was a delight to meet such a friendly fellow blogger..
Jayne gave me a lovely little bag of goodies which I tore open once inside the house...
She had so kindly and generously gifted me some vintage cake decorations and old playing cards and other assorted of Jayne's carefully crafted vintage fabric hearts ... and a lovely rose sugar bowl that I bought from Country Cottage Chic China shop... go shopping in this lovely

How very thoughtful of you Jayne... thank you so much!

I had such a grand day out.. and one thing's for sure... I definitely need to get out more !!!!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

This little piggy went to market....

On the way this is what I saw...

Well first the day dawned and oh what a dawn... BEAAAAUUUUTIFUL!

Then I spotted this which made me smile... a pram full of kisses..

Next was this lovely little copse of knitted trees...

I came upon these little felted friends..

...Beautiful blooms of every colour

I loved this heart reflected in the bluest of skies...

Popped in to see a customer...and check on my frames..

And climbed the hill to home...

All in all a lovely day!