Sunday, 31 August 2008

Sunday's Child...

I awoke this morning abruptly... having had a delicious 8 hours sleep.. aided by a small white pill that I finally surrendered to. I have not slept well for many nights..days.. weeks partly due to a grotty viral chest infection (many thanks for all your get well messages) and probably due to all the excitement of the last couple of weeks... I was in desperate need of restorative sleep to bring some equilibrium back to my waking day.
With this wealth of sleep last night.. I dreamed of many things and as dreams are an eclectic picture show of all the clutter in mind.. they delivered some interesting images..
I dreamed that I was like Alice in Alice in Wonderland .. wandering through an enchanted world. As I rarely remember my dreams on waking .. I did however manage to hang on to the last few seconds as I woke to the reality of a cup of tea clattering into the room on the end of beloved's arm..
The images that I have captured in my mind were of brightly coloured lollipops and biscuits made in the shape of rabbits with pink stripy icing and bow ties.. a Christmas stocking full of jewel like boiled sweets and sugar canes, rainbow coloured popcorn and pretty pastel sugared almonds..
I wish I could have slept just a little longer so as to taste one of these surreal confections..

A game I often played as a child was to imagine stepping in to another world.. a miniature landscape... in short.. a dolls-house.
The charming little book 'The Tale of the Two Bad Mice' by Beatrix potter was certainly at the centre of this endless fantasy of mine..
I longed to shrink inside this miniature house and wander around the rooms, trying out the furniture and becoming part of this enchanted world as Tom Thumb & Hunca Munca the two delinquent mice did.. but I would refrain from vandalism on finding that the plaster dolls-house food was not very palatable..
Encapsulating little worlds within worlds was my inspiration behind my Cowboys & Custard nostalgia box frames.. and a life long fascination in the minutiae of life...I was so enraptured with the story of the two mice moving in to the dolls-house that I decided to write my own when I was 10 years old and miraculously I have managed to keep this book and discovered it buried deep in a drawer in my bulging bureau the other day.
It brought back a flood of memories ... from scribbling down the the drawing the characters Jane and Peggy... I am not sure they were meant to have had perma tans.. or impossibly long legs.. just a little wishful thinking on my part methinks!I was reminded of my love for dolls-houses in particular when reading Liz's brand new blog..The Washer Woman.. where she has shared one of her much treasured homes for little people..

It is said that everyone has a book in them and I would like to think that one day I could write another but I wrote unselfconsciously in those youthful years and without constraints... I followed my fantasy and whims and wrote for myself.. which is so much easier than satisfying an audience..
If you could write a book what would it be about and what would be your inspiration behind it..?

I will pick out my favourite book from the comments and award with a small Cowboys & Custard looking glass.... one that Alice might have tucked away in her pocket maybe..!
Just leave your literary offerings and I will choose my favourite on Sunday 7 th September 5.00 p.m ...Bonne Chance mes amis!

My next instalment will tell of my meeting with a lovely lass..and her amazing new business venture!

Tune in to Cowboys & Custard in the next few days!

Saturday, 30 August 2008


Just dropping in to say that normal service will be resumed soon...
I have been feeling a bit below par this week and even writing my name is a challenge!
Today the sun is shining..... There's always a silver lining somewhere !

P.s BIG thank yous for all your enthusiastic and supportive comments about our Vintage & Handmade Fair Feature...I do hope that many of you can come along and say hi!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Say Cheese .......

This has to be the most difficult post I have written to date... This is my fourth attempt to put the events of the last week into some perspective and do them justice..and even as I type I know I will not be satisfied with my account of recent events in the Cowboys & Custard household..
As I said in my last post .. the normal pace of life this week has shifted a few gears and there has been much excitement and just a few nerves along the way.. to say the least.
It all started on Monday when Kim and her gorgeous Ragged Rose family came to visit us in Bath.. We had first met back in May in Kim's home town of Brighton where we were made to feel most welcome and really enjoyed our brief time together..
This visit was not so nerve wracking as the ice had already been well and truly broken, but was nevertheless accompanied by much chasing of dust and tweaking of the home nest before their arrival.. oh and just a couple of home-baked cakes.. that in itself was a little fraught at times... would I manage to serve up burnt offerings.. my speciality!
The day passed in a flash as we tried to cram in as much chat and laughs as our limited time together would allow...and we even managed to tear ourselves away from the kitchen table to have a mini tour of some of Bath's best corners.. Isn't it funny how something so familiar can seem fresh and that much more interesting when seen through the eyes of others. Our tourist spots took on a new lease of life for me as we walked around Royal Crescent and the Assembly Rooms where we fondly imagined Jane Austen's characters coming to life at the dances..It was a wonderful day and was over far too soon...Kim and her lovely family returned home and we were left with some cherished memories to file away and reflect upon....
Once again my faith in this fabulous blog community is well and truly reinforced.. my blogging friends, both those I have met and those I have yet to meet are such a bonus in my life.. Someone asked me what I did before blogging.?
Was there life before blogging I ask myself ??

Well as if that wasn't enough excitement for one week, month.. year.. Yesterday saw me in a state of high anxiety but for a very different reason.
My partner in crime...( sorry Jayne ) had the brainwave of contacting BBC Homes & Antiques magazine with a the idea of mentioning our first Blogger's Vintage & Handmade Fair in November.. Well... Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine that they would want to come and conduct an interview with Jayne and myself and take a few shots of our respective vintage items that will be on offer at the Fair..
The house has never been tidier or squeaky clean.. but this was soon all erased when the photographer .. a charming Mark... and the lovely Natasha our interviewer from Homes & Antiques turned up to hold the interview and rearrange my kitchen to get the best shots for the feature..Jayne bought a fine selection of her vintage china to adorn my kitchen dresser and her trusty and charming assistant.. daughter offer muscle power and moral support and endless patience!
Many photographs, cheesy grins, cups of tea and chat later .. the shoot was in the can as they say in the biz!
Much as I loved this whole experience.. I will confide in you and only you.. that I was terrified at the prospect of having a mug shot of me plastered over the pages of this lovely publication. I cannot smile on demand.. unlike lovely photogenic Jayne.. who is a photographer's dream...
ANYWAY.. I am missing the point here.. it is fantastic advertising opportunity for our event and hopefully the readers will be curious and come along on 22nd November to see what it is all about..
BBC Homes & Antiques will have our feature in the November issue out on October 1st..

I have spent today in a state of mild shock and taken up residence on the sofa in a stupor...

Who said fame is easy ! !?

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Halcyon Days ...

Isn't it funny how weeks can just pass by without incidence or any particular significance and then all of a sudden.. life takes on a different pace and rhythm and days are full to brimming with events and occasions... well this week is turning out to be just one of those . There is no space for the normality of life..
It is as if the gentle pace of the holiday has been waiting for these special moments and now I find I don't quite know where to begin my tale ... Logically it should be at the beginning of the week and a day that had been marked on my calendar with a big X and much fervour...
But.. I am going to leave the best till last and save my story for later....
All will be revealed in good time.. as there is yet more excitement and anticipation to come in the next two days. Oh what a temptress and tease I hear you cry..
I will leave you waiting and wondering but leave you with this an update of the Vintage & Handmade Fair. Jayne's clever husband has designed a web page exclusively for our Fair and to provide information for all visitors and
We have had such a wonderful response from the Blog world and have virtually filled all the tables for the fair so anyone still wishing to come along and sell should get their skates on and contact Jayne or myself..
Do look at the web page to see who is coming to the fair... you may well be tempted!!!
I promise to return in a day or two, if I have any energy left, to update you on my very special week!

P.s I heard from Rachel at Millie Moon .. the delicious shop that I featured in my recent post Buttons & Bows, that she has started her own blog! So please pop over and say hello to her and feast your eyes on all the lovely fabrics and much more that she sells in her colourful friendly shop!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Devon dash...

Last week.. beloved and I put down our paintbrushes and took some time out to head to our favourite escape.. Dartmoor... North East Dartmoor to be precise!
We had booked our escape back in April when we first stayed at the
super comfy and friendly B + B at The Old Inn ~ Drewsteignton.
It was just what we both needed to try and restore some equilibrium to our summer hols as the last three weeks have been a bit of a marathon to complete home improvements and generally to get a grip on the ever encroaching clutter in our lives...
Boy.. it was good to arrive at our favourite bolt hole and to slip into a semi-comatose state for a couple of days..
Thank the heavens that it didn't rain for the first few hours of our arrival so we donned our walking boots and headed for Fingle Bridge.. Possibly my favourite place on earth, to step out and walk along the River Teign..
..the most beautiful stretch of river that lies at the foot of a natural wooded gorge..It felt so good to be under the canopy of trees and playing Pooh Sticks.. you're never too old for this game.....
On arriving back at the car and while standing on one leg trying to change my walking boots whilst entertaining the entire car park with my impression of a stork... beloved let out a cry.. and lo.. a few yards away were some familiar faces.. friends of ours from Bath... You can run but you can't hide! We couldn't believe that we had both chosen this spot to have an afternoon peramble and had a good laugh and natter at the happy coincidence!
The following day we had planned to drive to Totnes.. land of vintage goodies and quirky shops.. but the rain put paid to that plan...It was a pretty hairy drive across the moor in torrential rain so we headed for Ashburton instead.. another mecca of vintage goodies and fine emporiums! Sadly the two shops that I was planning on visiting with a clutch of hot sweaty coins.. were both closed on Wednesdays... Oh hum... at least I saved some pennies and contented myself by licking windows!
These lovely swallows that camped outside our bedroom window...caused me great concern.. it was so wet and cold and I just wanted to tell them that maybe it was time to pack their bags and seek warmer climes in Africa...
Thursday we awoke to a glorious sunny morning.. blooming typical as it was the day to return home...
It is always good to come home though and this little chap was pleased to see us!
I have just dusted my mantelpeice to receive this very generous award from these lovely lassies Sal and April and Ginny. Thank you so much for this generous award... As you know I am a big fan of hearts and this one will look lovely amongst my collection..
Now as the rules dictate.. I must pass this heartfelt award to seven other favoured bloggers.. So small fanfare please for these magnificent seven..

Kim from Ragged Roses.. a sublime blog and always such a delight to visit!
Deborah from This Vintage Life A new blog for me but one after my own heart!
Louise from The Home is Where the Heart is... always a mine of information, friendly and fun!
Lili M.. a Vintage style dream blog!
Lynn from Sea Angels.. style personified..
Annie from A Saucerful of Secrets..A lovely lass with masses of talent.
Anna From All things Lovely... A bright spark in blogdom with a wicked humour!

It's good to spread a little love around.. we really could do with some smiles to brighten up these rainy days..

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Frozen Grand Central


P.s This is a bizarre state of affairs... no.. not the film itself but the fact that I tried to post this clip on to my blog some days ago and nothing happened. I forgot all about it until now.. when I saw that I had received a comment on my post Frozen Grand Central.. funny I thought.. must be the wrong blog! No .. just a little late in arriving..
I was intending to write about the four seasons that we have experienced this last week.. monsoon, frost! warm sun and chilly nights...
I think we have bypassed summer this year and gone straight into autumn.. does this mean that Spring will arrive in December and summer in March...?

Have a great weekend and don't forget your wellies! xx

Friday, 8 August 2008

Buttons and Bows...

Today was one of those rare days that I love so much..NO AGENDA!!!
After spending much of the last two weeks working to deadlines and a D.I.Y frenzy.. it was good to wake up to a day of 'footloose & fancy free' pursuits.. and so we took advantage of this by heading off to one of my favourite towns not a million miles away from Bath.
Frome is an interesting town.. it had a thriving wool industry during the 1500 - 1700's and there is much evidence of this throughout this Somerset town with the largest number of Grade I & II listed buildings of any town in the area..
Much of the appeal of this place is the eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary shops.. There is a strong creative spirit here and craft shops sit comfortably alongside vintage emporiums and antique shops... In short.. I love this place.
I was on a bit of a mission today with the intention of spreading the word about our very own Blogger's Vintage & Handmade Fair so I made a bee line for my favourite street .. Catherine Hill.. a steep cobbled street that is packed full of character and individual shops..
First stop was Bea & Evie.. an exquisite emporium of fine vintage fayre specialising in vintage millinery and fashion. The lovely proprietor of this gorgeous and unique shop is Tina. She has a finely tuned eye for vintage clothes, hats, corsages, handbags and much much more.. Tina told me that they offer several courses teaching the art of millinery, ribbon corsage amongst others..
If it is too far for you to travel to Frome and visit this beautiful shop for yourself.. then the good news is that Bea & Evie have a website .. just click on the name to take you to the doorstep.
On leaving this shop I espied another vintage style shop on the opposite side of the street..with a charming name.. Fi Fi de Villes..
A shop that I had not seen before caught my eye with it's colourful window display..

I had to take a closer look so stepped inside to discover .. A lovely contemporary collection of fabrics, cushions, buttons galore.
These buttons were totally delicious .. just like bowls of colourful sweeties .. just as tempting.
It was at this precise moment that I made silent pact with myself to learn how to sew..
All these beautiful vibrant fabrics..
Just waiting to be turned into lovely items such as these..
Rachel the owner of Millie Moon..has a lovely fresh and colourful shop which will inspire anyone nifty with a needle and thread. Once again.. if you can't make it to Frome then Millie Moon will come to you through their website..
My last port of call was this shop which sells an eclectic collection of vintage fabrics, furniture and jewellery etc etc...and these.. my only purchase of the day but one that appeals to the child in me..
Of course what would a day out be without a cup of coffee in this pretty cafe..

Tomorrow we return to the grindstone with more paint, sweat and tears..
Please pray for car boot weather this weekend.. just another job on my endless list!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Three fridges and a new shelf !

Happiness is a new plank or rather an old salvaged plank that was discovered in my father in laws garage and was sitting gathering dust and cobwebs...
One plank later and Voila.. we have a new shelf to complete our indoor garden..

This was a happy diversion from the domestic hiccup that has made this week a little challenging..
The saga started on Saturday last when I had noticed that our Smeg retro fridge was making strange gurgling noises and there was a distinct chemical smell haunting the kitchen..

I mentioned this to beloved as we went off to find a Saturday newspaper.. and noted that he was not particularly fussed about the temperamental fridge..
On arriving home .. beloved tells me he has something important to tell me in a rather ominous tone of voice..
My mind races and as they a say.. my life flashes before me.. what could he possibly be about to tell me ..??
Well beloved confesses his sins... and the story goes that the previous evening in an attempt to extract some ice from the ice box with a screwdriver (!!!) he punctures the wall of the fridge and thus kills it .. good and proper!!!
Hence the funny smell and swan song from the fridge ...
SO.. no use crying over a dead fridge I thought.. and we set off on a new fridge hunt.. arriving at the domestic appliance mecca.. Curry's!
Choosing a rather grand affair big enough to house a small family AND some choc ices we chose our new deluxe appliance and went home happy with the knowledge that we only had three fridge-less days to endure before the new model arrived.
It was soon clear on arriving back at the ranch that the metal monstrosity would not fit through our narrow kitchen door.. so we beetled back to Messrs Curry's and changed our order for a more modest affair but with the novelty of a water dispenser..
Yesterday.. we waited for the new fridge to arrive with great anticipation.. having lived off sour milk and some pretty dodgy meals out, for the last few days.
Well.. the ice man cometh and he taketh away our dead fridge with much huffing and puffing up our basement kitchen stairs..
I watch with slight trepidation as the new fridge is unwrapped on the back of the lorry and it is soon evident that all is not good!..New fridge has a large dent on one side and a crushed top..
so it's off to the fridge emporium for fridge number three...

Third time lucky as they say.. new fridge arrives tomorrow.. or so we are told.

Watch this space..

This member of the family is distraught at the prospect of dried food for another day!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Summer groove ...

I have slowly and gently slipped into the summer groove this week and succumbed to the pace of these sultry days, finding a daily siesta a necessity....
This could be my subtle way of bringing Tuscany to my doorstep as this year we are firmly grounded and will not be venturing far afield other than the threshold of Dartmoor for two days later this month..
In no way am I complaining.. it is quite liberating not to have a valid passport and I relish the few day trips that we have promised ourselves after our D.I.Y agenda is complete. Dear long suffering Mr Custard say D.I.Y translates as "Don't involve yourself " and has kicked against my regime of de-cluttering and painting our utility yard that has been sadly neglected for the last two years.. along with other disaster areas around the home.
However.. this is meant to be a holiday and all work and no play is pretty dull so we jumped at the invitation to go and visit my eldest brother who is presently ensconced in Henley on Thames and we set off on a 24 hour expedition to renew acquaintance as it is over a year since we last met up and it was also an opportunity for me to revisit some of my old student haunts from the 1970's when I was an art student in Reading and Maidenhead.
Henley upon Thames is a very pretty town in Oxfordshire on the edge of the beautiful Chiltern hills and has much charm and character which I was relieved to see had not been spoilt over the years.We arrived in the early evening and had a quick trot around the town to visit addresses that had been significant to me in my impressionable youth..
First stop was the house where I met my first 'Bookbinder' and it was here that the seeds of my career in bookbinding were sown..
The riverside in Henley has always been a great place for people watching and never more so than during regatta week that took place last month..
This person in particular caught my attention...
We then hotfooted it to Henley Business Management College where my brother ( the smart one in the family) is currently employed and commutes from Switzerland every week!

We had been invited to a performance of Much ado about Nothing.. in the grounds of the college..
It was a perfect outdoor setting in a comfortable ambient temperature to sit and be entertained by these fine thespians..

This is what they looked like after my second glass of wine...

I must confess that the steady flow of people , boats and animal traffic along the stretch of river caught much of my attention and I soaked up the scenery of a perfect summer eve along the river Thames....The evening was rounded off in the salubrious.. Hotel du Vin where we were the last to leave at midnight having spent some sacred time with my brother, catching up with the events of the last year and enjoying the best of the British countryside..
I just need a day to recover from all this unfamiliar hedonism.... not a spring chicken any more!