Friday 31 December 2010

Bon Annee

Before this year finally fades into the wee small hours.. may I wish you all a very Happy New Year with many good times ahead in 2011. Thank you for keeping me company this year.. it has been one hell of a ride!

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~Oprah Winfrey

Tuesday 21 December 2010

In the spirit ...

I must confess that this year it has taken me a long time to warm up to the idea of Christmas, feeling somewhat tepid about the whole occasion, until yesterday, when finally a bit of the old Christmas spirit kicked in with the arrival of the Christmas tree. The annual trip to the attic to search for the boxes of baubles and all things sparkly, was just what I needed to thaw out the humbug I was in danger of becoming.

At the beginning of the month I had attended the beautiful carol concert at my son's end of term service in Bath Abbey. This did stir some of the sense of occasion.. especially when the magnificent school Chamber Choir.. sang from Handel's Messiah.Guaranteed to bring a tear to my eye and more so when sung by bright shiny cheeked young lads and lasses with heavenly voices... Then there was the arrival of the snow..

It certainly makes the world seem a better place .. in many subtle ways. For all the folk that managed to slip and slide into town last Saturday, there was sense of camaraderie amongst some of the shoppers (not sadly .. the tight lipped, gritted teeth of the trolley pushers in Waitrose) but certainly the folk we met in Patisserie Valerie for our traditional Saturday coffee and Almond croissant. Striking up some bonhomie with strangers always warms my heart. Town looked particularly beautiful on this morning.. before the Christmas frenzy of shoppers arrived .. we soaked up the silvery light and snowy landscapes of the parks and Pulteney Weir...

This angel looked as though she was ready to join in the snowball fun in the park..

I had to admire this artist for his heroic efforts to paint in sub zero temperatures .. His poor digits looked frozen ..

Local transport had ground to a halt..

Since the weekend we have had another blanket of snow placed on top of the landscape making it impossibly beautiful.. and as today is the Winter Solstice.. it seemed fitting to go for a walk and embrace the occasion.. however chilly the prospect.
We managed to drive up onto the northern hills of Bath to our favourite walk.. the beginning of the Cotswold Way path...

Here we had the world to ourselves.. acres of white pristine snow and silence.. that beautiful muffled silence that snow brings...

Feet scrunched and crunched the virgin snow..

Hips and berries shone like jewels ...

This gateway reminded me so much of Winnie the Pooh .. where he walks through the snow with Piglet..

Despite a frozen face.. I even managed to crack a smile...

The prospect of a warm welcoming inn was enough to spur me on ...

Festive decor and a roaring fire greeted us within ...

Here I really got into the Christmas spirit with a half pint of favoured tipple ..

So I raise my glass to the Christmas season and all of you good people and friends..
Happy Winter Solstice!

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Iced Gems

Yesterday the haw frost arrived in all of it's shimmering, stunning beauty.. so looking much like the Michelin Man.. I ventured out in my lagging and managed a few shaky shots of my local neighbourhood ...

It was a truly magical sight to look up at the majestic trees behind our house .. all cloaked in a brilliant white icicles that gently rained down like glitter onto my nose as I walked underneath their frosted canopy..

There is something so starkly beautiful about a winter landscape, the way the light is softened and muted in these extreme temperatures.. and never more so than this morning as the weak sun broke through and cast a silvery light across the fields on the opposite hill ..

The mercurial colours reminded me of an eighteenth century landscape painting faded by time..

However much I love and admire this extraordinary season.. it is the wildlife and the homeless I think of when I snuggle down under my warm duvet at night. So please spare a thought for our feathered friends and keep your bird table topped up over these winter months..

I, however.. can return to a warm home to take comfort from small things.. and particularly my free copy of Country Living Magazine which arrived with a thump on the mat this morning...

If your feline friends are partial to 'Sheba' cat food then you will be able to collect two tokens to subscribe to two free months of magazines of your choice.. and as these glossy pages have become a bit of a luxury for me this year.. I was so pleased to receive my copy pro gratis.
It was another magazine that caught my attention recently when I was asked if I would like to loan my home for a photo shoot for a local publishing house. The magazine is 'Cross Stitcher' a popular publication for nimble fingered folk who like to cross stitch amongst other needlework projects. ..

Having spent a frenzied week, chasing dust, moving clutter from one room to another and persuading cupboards to accommodate yet more tat.. the day of the shoot arrived and the friendly team of 5 set to work immediately setting up shots for a magazine feature to be published next Spring. It did somewhat amuse me that within five minutes of their arrival.. my spick and span home was totally re-arranged and filled with boxes of props and camera equipment ..

I kept a low profile and spent the day knitting myself a scarf.. whilst pondering what they were up to in my kitchen. I did venture down now and again to grab a biscuit and have a sneaky peep at their work...

This shoot was all thanks to the lovely Nicky Owen who I had the pleasure of welcoming to my home in May this year for another shoot along with the charming David Parmiter photographer. Nicky has an exciting and enviable business finding location homes for television and media editorials.. so if you think your palace or humble abode would look good between the pages of your favourite national magazines, then I am sure that White Rabbit Media Ltd would love to hear from you.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Veni Vidi Vici...

They came .. they saw.. they did a little shopping!
Sunday came and went in a blur.. but oh what a happy blur it was.
Tiptoeing out of the house into an arctic blast of air at 7.00 a.m on Sunday morning we realised on reaching the car how wise it had been to move it to a loftier location.. i.e on a main road.. as our own road was a stretch of sheet ice and a good practice rink for all those budding Torvill and Dean wannabees. Then we discovered that the boot of the car was frozen solid as were the side doors.. once again.. we praised our foresight for packing the car the previous afternoon. I must confess that there was a little white lie in my previous post.. We had not been forecast snow over the weekend but snow it did.. and by Saturday p.m.. there was just enough to send me into a blind panic and re-awakened a recurring nightmare about getting to the fair and finding no-one else had turned up. However ..this was far from the case.. I am relieved to say.
As the daylight broke the valiant and heroic folk started to arrive with their chariots stacked high with all manner of chattels for the fair. Soon the hall was buzzing with activity and everyone began to construct their shiny sparkly stalls.. so that by 10.00 a.m.. Chipping Sodbury town hall had been transformed into a palace of vintage finery at it's best and everyone had just about thawed out.

The scrum begins

Our ladies and gentlemen.. certainly know how to put on a good show and never fail to impress with the quality and beauty of their displays. Christmas baubles twinkled.. Christmas Fairies smiled down from their shelves, gorgeous linens were folded neatly, jewellery sparkled, our marvellous kitchen staff raced to get the teas ready, teddy bears sat poised as a sea of red noses pressed against the doors waiting for the word Go!
As I opened the doors to welcome the frozen folk inside.. I spotted many familiar and friendly faces which are always a delight to welcome back.

Identity Parade

Well... as I say.. the day passed in a blur... and it was highlighted with the meeting and greeting of the many friends old and new that filled the hall from start to finish.. and by 4.00 p.m we were just saying goodbye to our last visitors before the ritual of packing and clearing up started.
I had a fabulous day.. and felt immensely proud of our wonderful ladies and gents for putting on probably our best show yet. A choir sang and I welled up... always do when I hear children sing.

There will be many accounts of the day as seen through the eyes of fellow bloggers.. so do visit the website to see the lovely photos that were taken .. not by me .. as per usual I grappled with my camera and managed to take my usual squiffy shots as you can see!
I haven't even unpacked my boxes or moved them from where they were left in an exhausted heap on Sunday evening.. but already the seeds for our next fair in April have been sown!
P.s Thank you Jayne for being a a great partner and being my memory when mine fails!

*** If the nice lady who I talked to at the fair about wooden blocks is reading this blog.. please could she contact me via email. See sidebar for email address.

Friday 26 November 2010

All is calm.. all is bright ...

This has been my mantra for the last few days since the nice weather man announced that the northerly winds were coming down from Scandinavia. You know the saying..'When the north wind doth blow.. we shall have snow'. Normally I would be jumping up and down with glee.. as I do so love a white-washed world.. but with the Vintage & Handmade Fair this weekend.. that's Sunday 28th.. the arctic blast could spell disaster. Fortunately.. that very same nice weather man has said there will be no snow in our area or that of Chipping Sodbury where we hope to welcome friends old and new to the Christmas fair. I have it on good authority too.. from the sugar plum fairy.. that she has cast a wee spell over the weekend and all will be crisp, bright and calm... Phew!
So don your Damart and please come along to join in the festive feast of the vintage fair this weekend!

Thursday 18 November 2010

It's Beginning..

Dare I say it ? Well I am going to anyway.. I'ts beginning to feel a lot like Christmas all of a sudden.. almost overnight the spectacular glow of this year's Autumn gave way to the nip and bite of winter when the first frosts arrived last week.. Call me weird but I love it.. I love the whole hibernation thing.. it suits my hermit like tendencies to batten down the hatches and make the nest cosy...

Last winter

It does seem a little bizarre though that only a three weeks ago.. I was walking on a beach in Cornwall ..

...bathed in warm mellow sunshine.. watching a few lunatics frolicking in the sea.. and it wasn't just the dogs going for a paddle! What's the saying..'Mad dogs and Englishmen go swimming in October sun'?

A few days of being windswept and in true John Fowles style.. standing on a harbour wall trying to remain vertical and eating an unhealthy amount of Cornish Pasties and chocolate caramels (courtesy of a old fashioned sweetie shop in Helston).. I desperately needed the exercise of climbing cliffs and running up hills.. but I didn't get any.. instead we stayed indoors .. being a lovely little cottage tucked in a hollow sheltered from the vicious winds.. and ate and read.. and ate and read.. and just learned how to switch off again after a relentless summer of work...

Wish I looked half as glamorous in the wind and rain

It was just what the doctor ordered and we came home laden, with a collection of the most delicious breads baked by our genial hosts in their Artisan bakery, to an eccentric evening of cloaked figures ranging in height from 3 ft to 6 ft, knocking on our door and getting the fright of their life when Mr Custard opened the door looking like a cross between Lurch and Darth Maul.. not pretty! Yes.. it was Halloween.. and the local covens and churchyard ghouls turned out in their droves to descend on our home. We were well prepared with a glut of chocolate.. that rapidly disappeared and by 7.00 p.m.. calm and normality were restored once more.

That all seems like a long time ago now.. and I have been very busy preparing for various events taking place in the run up to Christmas.
Milly & Dottie were delighted to be featured in Homes & Antiques Magazine for a second year running with a Christmas feature..

Our vintage Christmas decorations and ripping yarns were featured .. all of which can be found on the shelves of the Emporium ..

Then in hot pursuit we managed a mention in Collect It Magazine which sadly has ceased publishing this month.. heavens knows why.. as it is the most informative and interesting magazine for the avid collector.. of anything and everything!
The next week is going to be a little bonkers one way and another.. with a photo shoot lined up with this local magazine and the bumper Vintage & Handmade Fair to prepare for. Our Christmas fair hopes to be our biggest and best yet with 40 different stalls offering all kind of vintage and handmade finery from Thomas Etty Heritage seeds to Charlotte Macey's wonderful textiles, Homes & Antiques Magazine will be with us again and last but definitely not least.. this very talented lass who designs these FAB retro vintage Christmas cards and more.. Pennychoo..

I have already bought some of her charming cards and hope to stock up on more at the fair. Of course all of our wonderful regular folk will be at the fair too.. so do come and say hello!
So.. folks.. I must get on.. but hope to catch up with you again soon.

A Bientot x

Tuesday 19 October 2010

T'is the Season ..

To be cosy.. tra la la la la.. la la la la .. not to mention scared out of your wits and totally paranoid.

Here I was, sitting like not so little Miss Muffet.. upon her Laura Ashley velvet sofa, eating her Jordan's Country Cereal , this morning when there sat down beside her .. a slightly smaller version of Godzilla!

Yes it's spider season again.. and despite my liberal scattering of conkers around the home.. they have brazenly ignored the theory that they don't like Horse Chestnuts and marched into my home.. which it seems is not a castle! Maybe a moat and a few vats of boiling oil would have done the trick instead of a few wizened conkers ...

Ho hum.. at least Pickles has enjoyed some lively games of 'footie' around the place and nearly broken a few ankles with his carefully placed balls...

....... maybe I should rephrase that!

Despite our hirsute friends (not) I really do love.. this season. The way the light flirts in the early mornings and evenings.. that misty, watery 'Turner' like quality to the landscape.

It is also a time to cosy down and start the rituals of laying a fire.. yes.. rather like Downton ... I get to be a parlour maid and lady of the house all in one day! How's that for promotion!
There is something very satisfying and primeval, about putting some sticks together and creating fire.. warmth.. comfort.

It is also the season to add a few inches to the hips.. with all the temptations of comfort food so very hard to resist.. Sausages and Mash, Cauliflower Cheese, Apple Crumble and Custard..

Not exactly Weight Watcher's recommendations.. nonetheless.. very satisfying and of course essential eating as the temperatures drop. We need our fat layer to insulate us...don't we?

The garden is still hanging on to some flowers and the Nasturtiums have triumphed yet again.. to put on this grand finale of vibrant colour...

T'is also the season for the clocks to go forward (oops... I mean back.. thanks Green Twins Mummy for pointing out this faux pas) proper drama's on the box, Rugby League, bonfires and visitations from a horde of miniature ghouls and coven's at Halloween, kicking leaves, harvesting hazel nuts before the squirrels get to them, mugs of hot chocolate in front of the fire, hot water bottles, Clementines... the list goes on..
I love Autumn.. it's official!
What do you love about this mellow time of year?

Friday 8 October 2010

Top Notch Totnes !!

If you are twiddling your thumbs this weekend and wondering what to do with all your spare time (!!!!) then head on down to the beautiful south west and park yourself in the charismatic town of Totnes.. One of my favourite haunts in Devon. Totnes has oodles to offer the visitor.. with excellent foodie shops, gift shops, open air market on Saturday's and inside market on Friday's.. and not forgetting the multitude of vintage shops. One of these being Lesley's fine emporium This n' That at 66 High Street Totnes. I doubt Lesley will be found in her shop this Saturday as she will be busy hosting the first Nostalgic Mix Vintage Fair at Totnes Civic Hall. Admission is free and doors open at 10.00am to the crowds that are sure to form an orderly queue!
A lot of familiar faces will be seen there as many of our blogging community will be setting up their fine vintage wares .. so go and say hello.. and do a bit of shopping!
Good luck ladies.. Hope you have a fabulous day.. I wish wish wish upon wish.. that I was joining you all!

Friday 24 September 2010

Dog Days

"Dog Days" (Latin: diēs caniculārēs) are the hottest, most sultry days of summer. In the northern hemisphere, they usually fall between early July and early September. In the southern hemisphere they are usually between January and early March. The actual dates vary greatly from region to region, depending on latitude and climate. Dog Days can also define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress. The name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, in close proximity to the sun was responsible for the hot weather.

Though our weather has been far from hot and sultry of late this stagnant phase or 'lack of progress' sums up perfectly my lethargy and recent inability to write my blog.. or any other script for that reason. In fact I have noticed that my handwriting has suffered terribly since I became a slave to the keyboard.. Holding a pen feels quite alien these days.. which is regrettable as I once loved penning letters to friends and family.. but now I am ashamed of my spidery scrawl.
Anyway.. I digress...
My definition of dog days not only refers to this current state of inertia but of my fondness for a particular type of dog..

Dog |dôg|
1 a domesticated carnivorous mammal that typically has a long snout, an acute sense of smell, and a barking, howling, or whining voice. It is widely kept as a pet or for work or field sports. • Canis familiaris, family Canidae (the dog family); probably domesticated from the wolf in the Mesolithic period. The dog family also includes the wolves, coyotes, jackals, and foxes.

Nowhere in the definition of the word dog does it mention that they can be made of straw or mohair or have felt paws or glass eyes... but these are qualities that I have sought when collecting my favourite species of these four legged friends. I have always been a cat person.. having owned my first beloved 'Tigger' a tabby farm cat from the age of four. Tigger was half cat half monster and when not being a fluffy purring puddy tat.. was busy shopping for mice and next door's fantail doves, to bring home as unwanted gifts. Several cats later..

I have my darling 'Pickles' 'Mr Pig' 'Woo Woo' 'Piggly' just a few of the names I have given this half cat half human beast. He is one of a kind and I have vowed that come that fateful day when we have to say goodbye to this unique and adorable creature.. he will be stuffed to join my collection of moth eaten canines.

But back to dogs...
I cannot resist a vintage pooch and they come in all shapes, sizes and dubious pedigrees..
For instance..
This is 'Wilbur'... an unknown breed of mohair and straw with the most quizzical eyes..

Then there is 'Buster' who looks much more ferocious than he is.. he's a pussy cat really..

Mabel.. a girl of refined tastes and demeanour ...

'Pickles' not to be confused with my own version ...

Ethel... a quiet lass but most useful for storing pyjamas.. or those illicit midnight snacks!

'Harry' .. such a spirited and handsome little chap ...

Finally ..'Arthur'.. an all round champion and particularly nifty on his wheels..

There are several other members of my pooch family who are rather shy and retiring and refused to be put under the spotlight.. However you can meet a fair few of my Kennel Club at the Vintage & Handmade Fair in November where they will be groomed and preened to look their best. Give them a Bonio and they will be a friend for life! There are also some fine Heinz 57's in the emporium if you fancy adopting a furry friend.

Not forgetting the moggies...

..... though they prefer cat nip please!