Thursday, 31 December 2009

What my cats think of New Year's Eve . . .

Wee Banshee has a warm crocheted blanket on a chair in the sitting room.

Now T has gone home, the cats have gone back to being even more random with their sleeping places than they were before. Some are very conventional, liking the best of the facilities on offer:
Here is Lucky, yawning after I woke her up . . .

And her daughter Fluff, who was cwtched up on one of the kitchen chairs.

Darling one-eyed Lucy, snuggled up to the warm radiator on T's childhood bed.

Some like it hot - Gypsy in her favourite spot ON the radiator in the back (junk) room.

And some, are just plain DAFT! Honey in the bathroom . . .


New Year Resolutions . . .

Now that the Cat Magnet (my daughter T) has gone back to Sheffield, I have a queue of disgruntled cats outside her bedroom. One of them has even had to set up home in a Paper Bag!

Anyway, today I have spent as I mean to go on - sorting out, tidying up and putting away . . . I have nailed my New Year's Resolutions to the mast: garden like crazy to get it looking beautiful for selling; walk every day (this has fallen by the wayside due to Adverse Weather Conditions this autumn/winter); finish my UFO's, which appear below . . . along with some I'd-love-to-starts . . .

Here is a FINISHED item (a rarity!) I just wanted to use up some chunky wool remnants I had in the cupborad, so I knitted T up a Time Team meets Dr Who scarf. It seemed to take forever as it had to be about 10 feet long so she could wrap it once around her neck . . .

This is the current work in progress - very slowly, and abandoned over the Holiday to get the scarf finished, but I'm about to have a bowl of soup and then get cracking on it again.

I would LOVE to do all this sampler, for our new home. Don't hold your breath . . .

Flower Fairies. Can't resist them either and would love to sew ALL of these . . . Can't see it happening in my lifetime so will have to train T up - I've already sent her back with half my craft cupboard overflow including x-stitch projects . . .

This got abandoned about 6 or 7 years ago as the black Aida is a b*gger to work on without a good light, but now I have a magnifying craft light (£4.50 from a car boot sale!), so I will get it finished for G . . .

Well, I hang my head in shame. You can see how long this has been abandoned - since starting on my degree at least, so that would be 1996. It is now destined for the grandchildrens' room for our future home . . .

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Comments for last post

Thanks for commenting that you couldn't comment, hopefully this will have a comments link . . . And MM, yes, we did saw the heel off it when it had barely been out of the oven a couple of minutes, and ate it with fresh HOME-MADE butter!!!

A morning out yesterday at the Fleamarket

There was an Antiques Fair/Fleamarket held on Carmarthen Showground yesterday. There had been - and was ongoing, looking at the glass and furniture gathering frost as we walked round - a hard frost the previous night. Not many people braved manning the outdoor pitches, but inside the building was full and warmer!

We were quite abstemious, as it cost £3.50 a head to get in, and we only intended to satisfy our needs, not our WANTS. However, I found a little book by Sabine Baring-Gould: Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, a 2nd edition from about 1873, and battered/water-stained, but got the price down to £2.50 and it came home with me, along with a book about Lytchett Minster in Dorset (we used to live in Lytchett Matravers before moving here). I also fell in love with a ducky little 1950s 1lb cake pan. It had a pretty stamped star-like pattern on it and I am going to use it today. I felt "compelled" to buy it, and wouldn't be surprised if there is a little old lady casting her shade upon me as it had such a good "feel" accompanying my buying it!

Lots of china everywhere - some of it better than others . . .

My eldest daughter collects costume jewellery and would have spent ages at this stand.

An odds and sods stall . . . quite a few like this.

Various pictures and a fire guard . . .

Wholecloth quilts on display.

Another photo is for my eldest daughter, who would have been drooling over this stand!

This is for Morning's Minion, a wonderful quiltmaker, to give her an idea of what turns up at auction round here. The best quilts go for hundreds, and often end up with American quilt-collector Jen Jones (now at Lampeter), but these were priced at about £70 and £90 for the top two.

One of the outside stalls with steens, old cast pots, modern jam pots ("retro") and a couple of earthenware hot water "bottles". We still have a couple about the place and used to use them for the children when they were small.

Lastly, but most definitely NOT leastly!, is the cracking loaf my son turned out on Christmas Day. Can't you tell there is a Baker in his genetic make-up (my g. grandfather).

Monday, 28 December 2009

Who this?

We managed to "loose" a cat over Christmas. Mislay even. . . .It was the dark grey feral tom who D called Boldr (don't ask, think Norse Mythology) and we call Smokey Joe. He had managed to come into the house (OH had left mum's back door open). Anyway, we thought he had been chased back outside again. But he didn't turn up on Christmas Day, or Boxing Day, or Boxing Day plus 1 . . . Oh poor cat I thought, he has been Shut In Somewhere, over at the farm (this has happened before with Amber, the other outside cat.) Anyway, we were sat watching Come Dine With Me this afternoon and heard his unmistakeable yowl of "feed me"! I went outside but no sign of him - daughters had gone the opposite way and seen a grey tail disappearing downstairs to mum's old flat. We found him Under The Bed, so put out some grub and opened the back door. Thanks very much he said, ate the food and retired back under the bed. Since we could hardly NOT notice the dreadful pong from the inglenook (where all good tom cats do their ablutions apparently), we decided the only way to turf him out was to move the bed. He shot out like greased lightening and then turned up 2 minutes later on the upper kitchen windowsill, demanding seconds!

The king is dead. Long live the king . . .

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas be Come

This is a little poem by Norman Goodland, God rest his soul, like me, a Hampshire Hog:

Christmas be come
Winter be 'ard.
Frost do 'ang white in leane.
Woods be all dark;
hedges leary -
Snow d'come back agean.

Rooks d'bide whoam
Plover d'cry.
Cows be all stood b'geate.
'ouse mouse d'scratch -
dusk d'come down.
Flames is all blue in greate.

Kittle d'zing -
tea ben all laid;
chillern comes in vrom play.
Vixen d'scream:
owl zets in tree.
'Whit-wheet! whit-wheet!'' he d'zay!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A William Barnes poem for Christmas

Gosh, going flat out here, and the weather is doing its best to put a spanner in the works. It doesn't help matters that our son is working Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, so we have to try and get him in, despite the awfully icy roads . . .

Anyway, today the wreath got made, some baking done, a new clove-studded orange begun (so will be just right for next year!) and the meat got from the butchers. The venison is so local we could almost see if from his shop! We decided we would have wild boar sausages for Christmas breakfast, as we eat our "lunch" around 4 p.m. normally (OH doesn't do a big lunch . . .)

The weather is still awful - we have had a hoar frost, snow still on ground, then rain, then more snow and now it will all freeze into glass tonight. D is meant to be in work on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day - deep joy, at having to try and get out in that, but at least the Council came and gritted our hill today, after Next Door had his tractor in the ditch yesterday, trying to take some steers to meet the transporter at the x-roads. Fortunately the trailer with 8 beasts in stayed upright.
Here is Honey, sat in the snow and ice covering the pond, obviously wondering what all the fuss is about!

Hoar frost on the way back from Llandeilo this morning.

This is the base of the wreath, made from pliable lengths of willow, four or so tied together with string to make a rough circle, and then many other bits incorporated going over and over the base and finally tied with string all around. Then, as the weather was horrid out, we walked as far as the front wall and gave the ivy a short back and sides, and started poking one end of the ivy into the wreath, and again, going over and over until all the string was covered. Then small dried slices of manderin were tied into the wreath with very fine florists' wire.

Here is T getting fed up with poking cloves into an orange, which will be just right for Next Christmas!

The finished wreath. We added a few loops of goldy-beige ribbon to the bottom, and a lop at the top and it's hung in the porch now.

Here is a William Barnes' poem for Christmas from the wonderful book (William Barnes: The Dorset Poet, Poetry and Prose) which cost me £4.50 this morning (and I had £3.50 in credit!) :


I do seem to zee Grammer as she did use
Vor to show us, at Chris'mas, her wedden shoes,
An' her flat spreaden bonnet so big an' roun'
As a girt pewter dish a-turn'd upside down;
When we all did draw near
In a cluster to hear
O' the merry wold soul how she did use
To walk an' to dance wi' her high-heel shoes.

She'd a gown wi' girt flowers lik' hollyhocks,
An' zome stockens o' gramfers a-knit wi' clocks,
An' a token she kept under lock an' key, -
A small lock ov his heair off avore 't wer grey.
An' her eyes were red,
An' she shook her head,
When we all a-look'd at it, an' she did use
To lock it away wi' her wedden shoes.

She could tell us such teiles about heavy snows,
An' o' rains an' o' floods when the waters rose
All up into the housen, an' carr'd awoy
All the bridge with a man an'' his little bwoy;
An o' vog an' vrost,
An' o' vo'k a-lost,
An' o' pearties at Chris'mas, when she did use
Vor to walk hwome wi' gramfer in high-heel shoes.

Ev'rt Chris'mas she lik'd vor the bells to ring,
An' to have in the zingers to hear em zing
The wold carols she heard many years a-gone,
While she warm'd em zome cider avore the bron';
An' she'd look an' smile
At our dancen, while
She did tell how her friends now a-gone did use
To reely wi' her in their high-heel shoes.

Ah! an' how she did like vor to deck wi' red
Holly-berries the window an' wold clock's head,
An' the clavy wi' boughs o' some bright green leaves,
An' to meake twoast an' eale upon Chris'mas e ves;
But she's now, drough greace,
In a better pleace,
Though we'll never vorget her, poor soul, nor lose
Grmfer's token ov heair, nor her wedden shoes.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Christmas customs

This is taken from A Hampshire Christmas compiled by Sara Tiller:

'In 1786 The County Magazine declared itself to be 'particularly dedicated to the inhabitants of Berkshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, Somersetshire and Wiltshire.' This extract comes from the 1788 edition:

"There are many good old customs appropriated to this season of the year, which, although banished by the refinement of the metropolitans, are still preserved in various parts of the country as introductive of harmless mirth, and emblematic of things almost forgotten.

On Christmas Eve it is still a custom in the North to light candles of a very uncommon size, which are called Christmas Candles; to burn also a Yule log, or Christmas block thus illuminating the house. The custom perhaps borrowed from the Saxons; they began their year on the 8th of the calends of January which is our Christmas Day. The night before was called by them 'the night of mothers' and was observed by them as sacred. The log, perhaps, was burned in imitation of the son's return.

The origin of Christmas boxes is said to be this: The priests said masses for everything. If a ship went on a distant voyage, a box was fixed to the mast and consecrated to some saint. The mariners were expected to put money into this box that masses might be said for them on their return. The mass was then called Christmas; this particular box, the Christmas box. Many other customs may be enumerated: the Christmas card; Christmas pies. At the Universities it is common to hang laurel in all the colleges and chapels, which when we consider that the laurel was emblematical of peace and victory, is easily explained. One of the earlier councils forbade Christians to deck their houses with bay leaves and green boughs - but there is, thank heaven, no restraint upon what leads to cheerfulness, and the careful cook may enjoy her mistletoe without fear of being disturbed by the censures of the church."

Friday, 18 December 2009

Yesterday's walk

Yesterday I did a circular 3 mile walk to a neighbour's and back to deliver her Christmas card and a pot of my home-made Russet Mincemeat (which smells DIVINE!) I also dropped another pot at my neighbour's down the hill. She is 86 but had made several trays of home-made faggots one evening in the week - 59 of them! - made the proper way with caul over the top which she had managed to get from an acquaintance in the valleys. Hope I can still have that much oomph when I am 86.

I am so behind with the Christmas preparations this year, by way of decorating etc. I've put a few baubles and bits of tinsel up but we're only getting the tree today and I still haven't made a wreath. I know it's because T isn't home yet, as the wreath-making is something we always do together.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Last week's car boot bargains

We bought mainly books - just happened to strike lucky - though I did get some crinoline lady china - 5 cups and 6 saucers, which is wrapped and packed ready to go with us when we move.

I was fortunate enough to buy a carrier bagful of odds and sods in the needlework line, for just £2. As you can see,a whole set of needles, plus some spare, a set of sock needles, bag of zips (taken from other clothing, to be used again, as we always used to do), bias binding, fasteners, a sewing book and bits and bobs.

Click on the photos to enlarge them, but the books we bought are:

A Country Calender and Other Writings by Flora Thompson (20p)

The Working Classes in Victorian Fiction - P J Keating (20p)

Fishlocks Wild Tracks - 12 Walks in Wales (20p)

The Selected Letters of Somerville & Ross ed. by Gifford Lewis (10p - I nearly bit his hand off, as I have several of their books from many, many years ago so this will keep them company. This book is selling for about £18 on line).

Our Mutual Friend - Dickens (20p) - decided to get this after hearing it serialized on Radio 4 recently.

50 Walks in Devon (20p)

Dissolution - C J Sansom (20p) - another one on my wanted list - I'd asked D for a copy for Christmas.

This England - W S Shears (publ. 1938) 50p - another oldie but goodie.

Great battles in the Ancient World (OH paid £1 for this)

The British Isles - a real coffee table book full of fabulous photos, and nearly the size of a coffee table and ONLY 50p!!!

So for £3.30, we got half a library!

R.I.P. Snowy

Sadly, we took the decision to have Snowy pts yesterday. The ear cancer had returned and suddenly looked much worse in the space of 8-10 days, and it was hard to tell whether it was inside the remains of his ear base. I couldn't bear the thought of it moving right inside the ear and causing dreadful pain, so we chose to spare him that. It was almost three years to the day since he stepped in through the kitchen window and took up residence in our kitchen, having been quite the wildest of feral cats I have ever seen. We only had to appear within his sight, and he was gone. It took a long time to gain his confidence, but food was always his weakness . . .

He has left a massive void as he was ALWAYS there, always in the kitchen, and usually very much involved with what I was doing. If I was reading the paper, he would plonk himself just on the bit I was reading, and snuggle up to me, purring and chinning my face. If I was cooking, he would sit on the recipe book until forcibly removed. He never got the idea that cats weren't allowed on tables, and broke all the rules . . . If one of the cats had a late breakfast, he would be there hopeful of just another little "tibby taster" as my dad would have called it, and he would always go round and finish up everyone else's leftovers. Consequently, he was the size of a house!

He oversaw the recent revamping of Keith's armchair, and sat wherever he could to check I was doing it properly! At least he had three years where he was never cold or hungry, where he ruled the roost, where he never had to fight for his territory (though he would still chase off the occasional stray tom) and where he gave as much love as he received. Bless him.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Sunshine and Shadow

We finally got our (short) walk in the next valley today as we had to go over there with our son and his friend (off swimming at the complex). We parked up in the village and strolled up the lane that runs beside the Sannan river. It was mid-day, but the sun was at its height and by the time we had returned after half an hour, had dipped down behind the steep hillside and the bottom of the valley was in gloom, although the higher fields were still bathed in light.

It was difficult to get a clear picture of higher land though because there were so many trees in the way. I hope the little glimpses of the steep fields between the trees help to give an idea of the landscape in this little hidden valley.

We parked close to the church, which has recently had restoration work carried out on its tower.

This part of the lane along the valley bottom was already in gloom . . .

But behind the lovely Mill, the sun shone golden on the hillsides, illustrating the shortness of winter sunlight in a steep valley in December.

The Sannan river tumbling down its wild valley bottom.

The sun was dipping behind the hill . . .

To get a better photograph, I walked a little way up this sunny lane, though knowing just how steep it is further on, I wasn't keen to walk right to the top!

Looking across the valley towards the gate in the hedge on the hilltop.

As you can see, it is rough grazing at best - only just holding its own against the bracken, gorse and young colonizing trees.

Positively the very last blackberry flowers I will see this year . . .

There was a tempting little footpath taking you back to the village centre.

This very old church window appears to have had the wall above it extended at some point (or perhaps just replaced).