Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Life happens...

It has been doing a lot of that these last few days...weeks...

So today I have felt the need and desire to return to this caring community and since my friend Jayne featured a Teddy Challenge on her blog last week I would like to add my gathering of 'old friends' to this occasion.

I think I have mentioned before.. ( memory has taken a nose-dive of late) that my dear mother had an antique stall for many years specializing in vintage toys and other items related to the bygone days of childhood. This is certainly where my love of the old, worn and loved items of an age of innocence started. I have fond memories of the many hours sitting with my mother on her stall in the antiques market in Bath... admiring her latest purchases... She had an Aladdin's cave filled with charming characters and toys.. from Bisque French Armand Marseille dolls dressed in their lace and finery to Steiff teddies and assorted menagerie. Victorian dollshouses, early board games, tin toys, early wooden diabolo .. and much more. My favourite toy in my mother's emporium was a 1950's Triang Fox Terrier dog on wheels...with a handle for pushing.. an early walking toy and one that my son adopted for a while and called 'Baggy' for some curious reason.

I was very fortunate to inherit my mothers private collection of teddies and plush characters and these have now joined my rather moth eaten motley crue of soft toys and recent collection of vintage rabbits ....The more tattered and worn and chewed the better! I love their individual characters and I would love to know their history and who owned them... where they lived .. were they King pin of the nursery or did they end up lying under a bed.. unloved or a box in the attic for years.
I like to think by adopting these raggle taggle toys that I have given them a new lease of life amongst the higher pedigree of toys that my mother left me. Think of it as a retirement home for the unloved, unwanted and abandoned

So meet the family...

Firstly is the mixed pedigree Steiffs..and Heinz 57 assortment..
The kitten and monkey glove puppets and sleeping rabbit in the foreground are Steiffs..A German manufacturer of fine plush toys.. established in 1879 approx. Steiff toys are distinctive by the button in the ear.

The two teddies.. the one with the optical problems is a Chad Valley bear and the little blue bear with a jaunty cravat is of unknown origin.

The gorgeous little dog balanced on the back of the chair is called Oscar.. and he has suffered from a bit of mange in the past..
The retro rabbit is one I bought at Habitat when my son was born.. he was the first of my rabbit obsessions... finally Piglet... a wonderful homespun version of Winne the Pooh's friend.

Then we have my assorted rabbit family... what a fine family they are !!!
The miniatures are made from Meissen China, wood, jade and plastic..
My bunny on a bike was my Christmas present to myself last year... couldn't resist him!
There are many more characters lurking in the wings that I will share with you one day..

I am leaving one of my most treasured toys for last.. when I was about six years old my mother made this wonderfully retro cat for me from a sewing kit ... I have loved this cat for over 43 years now and it shows.. she is a little faded (like myself) and her stitches are coming loose..

I would like to dedicate this post to Jo... a very talented lass who has a particular penchant for rabbits and a certain 'Captain Rupert'. Jo is an artist and paints imaginative, witty and charming watercolours of Captain Rupert and friends.. You can find them all at Higglety Pigglety .. and see for yourself the accomplished talent of Jo's work.


Hello one and all..
I am sorry that I have been A.W.O.L for a few days... Normal service will be resumed soon..
Hope all is well with you out there in the ether..

A bientot.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Winner takes all...

On the stroke of eight o' trusty manservant did the honourable task of picking out a winner from all your childhood toy memories... I loved them all and equally loved some of the memories that these toys of yours brought back for me.. especially Britain's Miniature Gardens... Loved loved loved this toy of mine with a passion and maybe this led me to my interest in the real thing.. weeds and all!

Well it is unfortunate that only one of you can be a winner but I am delighted to announce that TRACY at Cupcakes at Home .. will be the recipient of this little bundle of nostalgia..
I will be adding a mystery ingredient to join this collection before it wings it's way to you.
I do hope you enjoy the charm of Mabel Lucie Attwell's illustrations and they will inspire some more fine crafting from you Tracy...Enjoy!!

Well forgive me for being a party pooper... I am off on a frog hunt.. we have installed a pond in our garden and today there were 10 frogs on the terrace looking for a dip in the new lido.. We are off with the torch to catch them frolicking!!

Thank you all for joining in this giveaway...I love to spread a little happiness !

Thursday, 21 February 2008

All in a day..

On Sunday we escaped.. ran away... far from the madding crowd to the hills beyond.. far beyond my home town of Bath.
That is not to say we don't have our own fine set of hills.. Bath is famous for it's inclines and you can easily tell a true Bathonian by the size of their calf muscles, mine are no exception.. not for me the slim line elegant footware... more of the welly couture.

I digress as usual...

We headed off with a song in our hearts and the sun in our eyes to one of our favourite bolt holes.. just an hour from Bath but far enough to feel as though it were a real holiday destination.
The mellow stone of the village houses, glows like honey in the sun and the whole essence of this pretty little hamlet is of a chocolate box lid... picture postcard perfect!

We arrived in time to take full advantage of the fabulous food on offer at our chosen hostel. The inn itself is very popular and has won this year's award for Gastro Pub... so not the usual ploughman's or ham egg and chips here...
More of a goat's cheese tart with balsamic dressing ... oh so scrummy washed down with a half pint of Guinness.
Before the snoozy 'Sunday afternoon' feeling could take hold we jumped back into the car and headed for Forde Abbey which was a mere 20 minute drive... or so 'Charmiane' our garrulous guide told us... Beloved was given a sat nav gadget for Christmas which he promptly pushed to one side exclaiming that he did not need such a device due to his co-pilot (me) being the one to tell him where to go!!!
He succumbed to the lure of this clever little device and so we had a very interesting conversation with our sat nav host.. questioning her choice of roads and route.. all good fun!

We had never been to Forde Abbey before and this was somewhere I had earmarked as 'my kind of place'.... we were not disappointed. The long tree-lined entrance drive was awash with snowdrops and led up to the Abbey itself which can only be described as stunning. Mellow stone against the deep blue sky and a backdrop of trees makes this place very special indeed and a real treat.

The gardens are delightful and varied with rockery, bog garden, lakes, topiary and walled kitchen garden ...providing lots of little rooms within rooms and full of Spring bulbs and a wonderful variety of trees and shrubs.
I hope that my photos go some way to doing justice to this beautiful place...

It was mighty cold and the lakes were partly frozen much to the disgust of the swan and ducks.. Oh their poor cold feet!

I loved this iron work frame over a small palladian pond .. pinks and yellows.. my favourite.
Spot the bunny!

After a brisk but thoroughly enjoyable stroll around the gardens we headed back to the Inn and I indulged in a lovely long snooze in our pretty room..
Now this is what I call an ensuite bathroom...
Supper was another gastro delight in a romantic candlit room..

We had a wonderful stay and headed back home the following morning through the most magical frosty landscape...Charmiane our Sat nav host... telling us how to find our way home..

It is amazing how much one can cram into a day... and this mini escape felt like a proper break and fully re-charged out batteries.

P.S Don't forget the giveaway tomorrow Friday eve..8.p.m Draw.. I will put all the names in a hat and pull out the winner..
I have so enjoyed your shared childhood toys.. chewed bald teddies, dollshouses, dolls... such sweet nostalgia.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

A Frosty Reception...

These past few mornings have been sublime... watching the steady glow on the horizon herald the start of another beautiful day with lapis skies and a dazzling sun. Yesterday, and today, as I have just discovered on waking and venturing out from duvet.. is crisp and bitter with a thick icing of frost on the rooftops and cars. I think even the birds must be having a lie-in this morning as it is strangely quiet outside even though the hint of dawn is in the sky.
Enough of this typically British pre-occupation with the weather..

My quest today is to plant out two hellebores that we bought yesterday... belated Valentine's for each other..they are to live under our Cotinus Tree which will provide a bit of shade for them once the leaves arrive on the tree.

Yesterday was a wonderful day holiday mood we went from the plant sale.. to Clifton in Bristol one of my favourite Saturday outings. Clifton is a part of Bristol not dissimilar to Bath with the elegant architecture but there is a different buzz there and it has a slightly gutsier feel than my home town. There are some very tempting and varied shops ...
I wanted to go to the arcade that has an interesting and eclectic selection of little shop units.. my all time favourite being... Hollyer's... a delightful emporium of vintage kitchenalia, homewares and one off items that I never seem to see elsewhere.

I am very fond of the rabbits that this shop sells... of course if you are familiar with my weird and wonderful tastes you will know by now that I love rabbits..
This photo is for you Joanna .... Captain Rupert would feel very much at home here..

The flowers in the greengrocers were as always in every season... abundant and vibrant.
And bulbs too....

I have not forgotten that I have a giveaway to perform..
Having cast your votes.. The Childhood Ephemera ... won the vote.. (sorry vintage household. I will hold another giveaway at a future date for you.)
I found something on my travels yesterday that I thought ideal for the prize.. as I know that some of you are a big fan of this artist...
This Mabel Lucie Attwell Annual is an early edition.. not dated but I can tell by the paper that is is probably late 50's early 60's.
It is full of her charming little characters and will hopefully delight the winner. I have added some other bits and pieces to this giveaway, a bisque doll holding a cat and a vintage toffee box (without toffees alas) in the shape of a cottage. I will draw this giveaway on Friday 22nd February at so you will all have a chance to enter if the urge grabs you!

You will not have to jump through hoops to enter.. just leave a comment and tell me what your favourite or most treasured childhood toy was. From teddies to Lego I would love to know..

Bon Chance!

Enjoy this day wherever you are. xxx

Friday, 15 February 2008

Gifts Galore ..

Good morning all ..... I hope you had a suitably snuggly and romantic Valentine's Day yesterday and thank you to all of you who sent Valentine messages.. It is always good to hear from you and I very much enjoyed my visits to all of your 'loved' up blogs and the beautiful displays of vintage love tokens.

I have had an eventful week in more ways than one... the good, the bad and the ugly have influenced each day in their own way..

I would like to focus on the good and share the wonderful gifts that have arrived on our doorstep these last few days.

Firstly it was my beloved man's birthday on Tuesday.. he has finally caught up with me age wise but not for long as I will be heading into a new decade (GULP) later this year..
I have been a frequent visitor to Jenn at Noodle and Lou Studio to gaze upon her prolific creations which are all charming and show a huge and original talent..
A while ago now .. I did a swap with Jenn .. I made her one of my box frames for one of her commissioned paintings .. a special personalised picture of my man with his cherished vintage guitars..

Jenn created a perfect painting showing my man holding one of his guitars and considering that she only had an emailed photo to work from she produced a very good likeness.. though he does look a little younger in her portrait.. could this be a new Dorian Gray? It would be such a shame to store it in the attic though!

He was so delighted with his portrait into which Jenn has cleverly incorporated some collaged vintage guitar advertisements..
We have hung it in our study alongside the vintage guitar collection..where it looks very much at home.. Thank you so much Jenn.
If you have not visited Noodle and Lou..please do so.. I am sure you will be just as charmed by her work as I have been.

As some of you may know I was the lucky recipient of Kristina's at Shabbily Ever After, Giveaway this week. I was over the moon to hear that I had won.. my first and hopefully not my last giveaway.
The postman delivered a deliciously pink parcel yesterday and I tore off the outer wrapping in a frenzy of excitement before taking the essential snap.
Underneath the sugar candy pink wrapping was the prettiest and yummiest box and on closer inspection I saw that Kristina had so thoughtfully personalised the box for me with my Cowboys and Custard name.. such a lovely detail!

The fun continued as I untied the polka dot pink ribbon to reveal the goodies inside..and weren't there just! Lots of prettily coordinated gifts.. a rose decorated dish with rosebud studded soap.. already installed in the bathroom. A lovely vintage rose card, a gorgeous little cupcake candle and a dear little quilted bag that will be most useful as a vanity bag.
I felt as though I had a birthday too this week with all these generous gifts..

Thank you so much Kristina for my special treats ... it made my day, my week... definitely the icing on the cake!!!

Now if you have been paying attention.. you will remember that I promised a giveaway this week and you will have noticed also that I have not delivered this promise.... yet!
I am still deciding what to give away and I thought I would put this to the vote..
As I have a passion for childhood ephemera I have a yearning to share this with you and base my giveaway on some vintage childhood items...OR... I can indulge those of you who would like something in the vintage household department...

So please leave any comments to cast your vote on which theme you would prefer for my next giveaway and I will decide tomorrow, Saturday, which it is to be!

Well it is half term next week and there will be an audible sigh in our house when both my boys big and small.. break up from school today... Yeeeeeeehaaaaaa... let the hols begin.
It also means for me, a break from ironing and washing shirts and muddy hockey kit ... oh joy!

Happy Hols to those of you that can indulge in this luxury!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


Sending my love to you xxx

Monday, 11 February 2008

An Anniversary and Archives ...

Today is my 100th Post... Wow... what did I find to say in the other 99 posts??
As I have been double tagged by Becky and Ginny I thought what better way to celebrate this anniversary than a little trip back down memory lane..

The rules are as follows...

Archive Meme Instructions: Go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you’ve written. … but there is a catch: Link 1 must be about family. Link 2 must be about friends. Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are… what you’re all about. Link 4 must be about something you love. Link 5 can be anything you choose. I think this is a great way to circulate some of the great older posts everyone had written, return to a few great places in our memories and also learn a little something about ourselves and each other that we may not know. Post your five links and then tag five other people. At least TWO of the people you tag must be *newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better….and don’t forget to read the archive posts and leave comments!

1. She Sells Sea Shells...
This one was dedicated to my beautiful mother.. she is always in my memories and so much of my happy life I owe to her..
2. P is for Play
This sums up my feelings about all the blog friends who have joined me on my blog journey... I am so grateful to you all.
3. A Case of Insomnia
This archive is about me.. or rather the various avenues of employment that I have taken over the years..
4. The Battle of the Bindweed (and bulge)
This is about my passion and love for my garden.. all gardens! I love plants.. pure and simple and am never happier than when I am out in my plot snipping, weeding & smelling the roses..
5. Home is Where the Art is ...
This is where it all began.. my tentative attempt to join this wonderful world of mutual friends.. Starting a blog has most certainly changed my world for the better..

This was an interesting exercise for me as I had no recollection of what I had written a week ago let alone a month ago..
This is what I have chosen from the C & C archives.. I hope you enjoyed my choice of past ponderings..

Now I believe I have to choose 5 five recipients to here we go..

I will choose..

Kat at Secrets of a Butterfly
Carol at Katherine's Dream
Kim at Ragged Roses

I have only had the pleasure of knowing these last two for the last week.

Lili at Lili M.
Sal at Sals Snippets

Please don't feel obliged to fulfill this tag.. only if time and tide allow!

As it is my 100th post I was intending to have a giveaway .. I will arrange this for my next post.. so watch this space....

Friday, 8 February 2008

Tabbies, Tags & BIG Thank You's ...

I have just had the most wonderful technological break- through thanks to my dear techy support friend Kim who finally supplied the missing part of the jigsaw with my long running 'Linking' problems..
I discovered that Apple Macs have a totally different set-up to editing a blog post than PC's s. It has only taken me 5 months to discover this as I tried in vain with all your helpful advice, to link you to my blog posts.

All good things come to those who wait! Thanks so much Kim...!

I hope wherever you are today that you have enjoyed one of the first days of Spring.... it is springing everywhere today and my garden is emerging from the damp dark winter and showing signs of life.. mostly with frogs leaping out and threatening me with a cardiac everytime I step forward.. I counted eight in the garden just now..
Thank goodness Pickles is not interested in these particular fauna ... they taste funny...however he is rather partial to a spot of bed making.. and likes to join in whenever I change the bedlinen..

this is both very amusing and mildly irritating as he pounces and clings to sheets as I attempt to strip the bed and replace it with crisp pristine linen. Not so pristine.. when my furry little friend has finished with it as he takes up squatters rights and lays claim to his new territory..
If only I could get him to enjoy hoovering as much!!

The sunsets have been amazing here, reflecting off the honey coloured Bath stone houses with a rosy tinted glow.. who needs rose tinted specs?!

A week or so ago I was tagged by a dear friend Becky and I did not fulfill my duties due to a rather hectic time of it all.. last Friday I was tagged by the lovely Ginny and so if you don't mind ladies I will combine tags...
As my day has been somewhat hi-jacked by various chores and tasks I will post this tag tomorrow now as I am rapidly running out of coherent thoughts..

I would like to part on another 'thank you' those of you who read and commented on my last post..I am so glad that you were equally moved & entertained by the Sir Ken speech.. I think he is a genius and he has given me much food for thought this last week.

Enjoy your sunsets wherever you are!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

For your children's sake..

My man runs a primary school and believes passionately about children and their futures.. he is a bit of a radical when it comes to his feelings about the way we currently teach children in our education system and believes in emotional intelligence..
I am not going to pretend that I know much about the subject ... but I DO know that children are sacred and should be nurtured in all capacities...the right education is the foundation to their happiness and success in life whichever path they choose.
Two days ago.. I was shown a video of Sir Ken Robinson.. an educational guru ... this 20 minute video will change the way you think about your child's education... it is profound and thought provoking in many ways...
As I have still completely failed to link properly yet... I have managed somehow to link to the video clip by clicking on the title of my post.. For your children's sake.. this will lead you to Sir Ken Robinson's inspirational talk...
I found it most interesting and very moving .. this man is a visionary... PLEASE watch..!
Even if you think this is not relevant to you or your children .. it will resonate .. with you in some way.. I promise!

I would love to hear your thoughts about Sir Ken Robinson's philosophy..

My Boys.. My world.

I have toyed with the decision to post photos of my family since I started this blog and I am not 100% certain of my reasons for not doing so up until today..
I often see photographs of Bloggers themselves and their family and friends and loved ones and pets etc and part of me wants so badly to share my 'world' with you ... because primarily I am so proud of my boys and I love them so..
I have read some of your blogs recently that have really touched my heart quite profoundly and I can empathise with the loss that some of you have endured of loved ones..
My loss was all consuming at the time.. when both of my parents died .. I felt marooned and cut adrift from my moorings.. I had no reference point other than the memories of my childhood and the passage into adulthood.. becoming a mother myself at the age of 35 years old was the pinnacle point of my life... as most mother's would agree.
I spent a night apart from my beloved man last night.. and it scared me.. if I had to spend a lifetime apart from him I would be bereft and my life would be diminished... my love for my boys is unconditional.
This applies to Pickles too... he is one hell of a cat and one of a kind!
So here's to my precious family... My boys...I love you!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Flip Flops!

As you must all be aware.. it is Shrove Tuesday today and houses up and down the land will be busy whisking batter and flipping perfectly formed pancakes to dust with sugar and lemon and consume with relish..
Not in this household... alas......
My flips have flopped this year and I am still scratching my head as to why? Last year I produced a yummy stack of pancake perfections for my son who is rather partial to these annual delicacies..This year I used the same Delia recipe and the same non stick griddle and the same wrist technique and I have not produced the same results... far from it!

The panic set in at 5.00p.m as I attempted my first flip... pouring the golden batter onto a smoking hot griddle ... seconds later scraping it off in dismay and throwing the mangled mess into the bin. Attempt No: 2 was equally pathetic and on the third attempt I consulted Delia's instructions to see if I had missed out any vital ingredients..i.e eggs..flour.. milk..

This reminds me of my Domestic Science O level... many years ago now... my best friend Heather who was not entirely successful in the kitchen dept.. decided to make a pineapple upside down cake (all the rage in those days) for one of her exam dishes.. . She went to retrieve her cake from the oven .. only to discover to her horror and my mirth.. that she had forgotten to put the flour in the mix.. the pineapple rings were floating in a sea of buttery treacle...Poor girl.. now I know what the contestants on MasterChef feel like..!

Well my ravenous son will not miss out this year as Mr Cowboys & Custard has gone over to his mother's this evening where she can cook a very decent pancake.. 86 years of experience helps. I am assured that a special delivery of pancakes will arrive some time this evening.. thanks mother in law .. you have saved the day!

These are ones I made earlier... no I can't lie.. they are domestic goddess Delia's!

Well at least Pickles thought it was amusing.. as long as he doesn't miss out on his fish supper!

Enjoy your Pancake feast this evening and may they all flip successfully. Bon appetit !

Friday, 1 February 2008

The Craft Club ..

The gallery

January 2008 has been a month of turbulence in our household for all sorts of reasons and so I am pleased to welcome February with open arms and an open mind. It is best not to look back and I have practised a simple philosophy for many years that has always worked for me however difficult life can be sometimes.. I strongly believe that there is always promise around the corner and some kind of salvation..
There is a wonderful Chinese proverb that says.."only a fool trips on what is behind him" other words don't make the same mistakes from the past or look back and think what could have been..

So it is with this that I welcome this new month and the days to come.. Spring will herald the end of a long winter.. not necessarily a cold or bleak one.. more a state of mind.

I have much to do and many little seeds of thought are sprouting into new projects each day..
Last night I held a Crafters Club at my home.. I am fortunate enough to live in a very friendly neighbourhood and several of my close neighbours are artists or have some creative along the lines of a book club but without the books..I held my first club meeting last night..
I was a little apprehensive as the small community that makes up this club had already held several meetings which I had not been able to attend so I didn't know what to expect, nor had I met all of the members.

The evening was filled with chat and laughter and much creative and artistic banter which I found most inspiring and exciting..
Everyone brought their talents to the table and we shared our collective knowledge of collage, knitting, felting, painting etc etc and one of two of the members had quite a pedigree having displayed their work at the R.A at some time.

I am really looking forward to my next meeting in two weeks time.. where we will come together to share mutual musings on life and our craft interests and maybe just one or two glasses of wine too!

This is a local exhibition that I hope to visit this weekend.. One of the exhibitors is a Candace Bahouth.. a vibrant woman and hugely talented .... her mosaics have to be seen to be believed.. and her character is very much reflected in her work... bright and witty.

Hope you all have a good weekend... doesn't look like the snow is coming after all.. well at least not in balmy Bath!