Sunday 30 September 2012

Wandering into October . . .

Well, an interesting few days for us here.  We have woken up to October this morning - still grey and wet out there, but that's nothing new!  I have also woken up to a peak flow of 440 - and this is BEFORE medication!!!  I am thrilled to bits, as it means I am finally on the mend and my lungs aren't so bad they are incapable of improvement.  I can only put it down to walking up the steepest hills I could find last week, which - although far from enjoyable and blardy hard work - has expanded my lungs and helped to clear them.  In a week's time I have my respiratory tests at the Hospital, which have to be undertaken without medication, so the fitter I am, the less distressing these tests will be.  After the initial ones, I will then be given Ventolin and I have to do the tests again (Ventolin will help me to breath more easily).

Anyway, we had a good wander around two car boot sales at the weekend and got some useful things, including a box of 10 small Kilner jars for £2, which were just what I needed, though I will have to fork out for new lids for them.  I haven't been able to bottle any fruit until now, because buying in the jars etc new is prohibitively expensive.

We took a stand at the Antiques Fair/Fleamarket yesterday and were fortunate to get a stall inside, as there had been a cancellation.  The forecast had been bad and the light showers turned into heavy rain by lunchtime and the folks outside were rained off.  I came home with a new-to-me piece of Torquay pottery, which I am hoping may be a Bovey Pottery piece (Bovey Tracey was my dad's home village) - it's a big blue jar with a raised motif of kingfishers, beautifully decorated, and we haggled it down to half the asking price in the end as it was missing a lid.  I can live with that!  I had looked at other pieces of Torquay pottery, and there was a little 1920s pinch jug that I liked but I didn't dare to spend before we had sold anything and when I looked later in the day it had gone . . .  In fact, ALL the Torquay ware had gone bar "my" jar and a large hat-pin holder which I didn't like anyway. 

Oh, and remember that little tabby cat?  Well, it turned up at feeding time last night and is a poor little half starved kitten, about 6 mths old I'd say.  Not too terrified of people (it got close enough for me to have touched it, but I didn't want to scare it first time we "met".)  Anyway, it had a good scoff last night, and spent the night in a box of scrumpled up newspaper in the porch, and had a hearty breakfast this morning.  It is sneezing and has a cold though, so I shall have to keep an eye on it.  May need to tempt into a cat box and take it to the vet.   Sigh.  But I cannot watch it starve to death in front of my eyes . . .

Saturday 29 September 2012

Cows would never make good burglers!

That sounds a ridiculous statement, but when you live next to a dairy farm, you have plenty of chance to observe cow behaviour, for good or bad.

I can always tell when they have the boyfriend working of the lass who does the milking.  The cattle will come down from the fields making a din, obviously unhappy, and their noise is accompanied by a regular beeping of the Landrover's horn, as the very impatient boyfriend (who HATES cows and anything to do with them) chivvies them along, nearly hitting the halt and the lame who bring up the rear with the front bumper of the Landy.  When anyone else brings them in, they are quiet.

 We get an awful lot of racket when there the calves are separated from their mamas too.  The calves are left with them for a couple of days and then they are seperated, and the calves come to live with the earlier ones, and mum is left to her own devices.  Reluctant to leave her calf initially, she wanders round the yard at night, bellowing non-stop (they don't even seem to pause for breath!) but after a couple of days she will join the rest of the herd when they go back out to pasture after milking, seemingly forgetting she ever had a calf at all.

But the MOST noise you get from the herd is when they are doing something they aren't supposed to.  This morning, they were meant to be in Park field (I think).  Anyway, I knew they were somewhere they weren't supposed to be (a field along) when I could see them on the horizon, all bellowing fit to bust and obviously so delighted they had made a bid for freedom that they had to tell the world about it.  Next Door will not be pleased as it means fence mending is on the agenda, quite apart from getting them all back where they were meant to be.

Meanwhile, I am giving myself a break from walking today and plan to pick more apples and work on the garden.  Have a good weekend.

Friday 28 September 2012

Keeping busy

A strange old week, for happenings and weather.  Steady rain throughout the day on a couple of days, then an afternoon clear enough to get a walk in.  I have been challenging my lungs with some steep hills.  Normally I would try and avoid the steepest as they are such a struggle, but I need to try and restore myself to pre-illness fitness, and especially so as I had a letter from the Hospital yesterday telling me that I have an appointment the 2nd week in October to present myself for respiratory tests which have to be undertaken WITHOUT having taken any of my asthma medication.  THAT is going to be a challenge and a half, especially as the Nurse I saw mentioned it can be quite distressing.  Not nice to have that to look forward to, but if it means they can say exactly how good/bad my lungs are and perhaps change my medication for something more helpful, then it will be worth it.  (I might add the 2nd half of the respiratory tests are done after medication/large dose of Ventolin).

Anyway, I took myself off the loooooooooooong steep hill towards Brechfa yesterday and although I was puffing like a grampus, I managed it, though it is half an hour's walking uphill all the way before you reach a flat spot.  I had to stop at intervals, but that was to be expected.  Earlier in the week I had walked to a neighbour's house - that had the first part of this same hill on the outward journey and a much steeper hill on the way back, and I managed the latter with just one stop.

Earlier in the week I had to take my husband to A&E as he had damaged his wrist splitting logs (the splitter had hit the log just on the handle and the shock-waves twisted the wrist).  Anyway, after complaining about it aching for a couple of days, a lump suddenly appeared and the pain got worse, so we thought an X-ray might be in order.  It turns out it is just a sprain so he has to rest it (not an easy thing for my husband, who is active and it itching to get all our firewood split for winter.)

We have wandered round the antique shops and charity shops, sorted out our Antiques Fair/Fleamarket goodies (praying for dry weather on Sunday but it's not looking good) .

I keep saying I must get all the apples picked.  It is no good expecting them to get any larger and I am fed up with feeding the Jackdaws and Magpies.  I have taken what windfalls I can and cooked them up, being very frugal and using even the smallest ones in Wartime fashion.  Speaking of which, I am thoroughly enjoying the Wartime Farm programmes, despite them using what are obviously cull cows (due to their udder problems - the Jersey cow's udder was nearly on the round when she walked, so no wonder she had torn half the teat off.  One of the other cows has a mis-shaped udder too.)

A neighbour has Soapwort growing near their home, but not enough to repeat Ruth's hair washing experiment!  I guess it was needs must in those days, though as she said she has some unusual knowledge which many folk wouldn't have had in those days.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Spotted in the paddock . . .

I was just idly looking out of the window across the paddock when I saw Ban sat in the grass.  I called her name.  She ignored me.  I called louder.  I tapped on the glass. Still no response, so I began to drop the sash window, and at the noise she looked at me, and I saw it WASN'T Ban at all, but a tabby with a white bib - just like our late much lamented Timmy, who died about 8 or so years back now.

I went outside and stood by the apple tree at the edge of the paddock.  The stranger looked at me and sank lower in the grass, and lower . . .  I came inside and left him to it - I presume it's a tom, they usually are at this time of year, looking for a territory of their own.

D, who claims to have noticed him first, wants to call him Snarf (from Thundercats).  I have banned him from doing so! Timmy2 (my choice) will probably move on anyway, especially when Tom, the resident stray tom cat who "thinks" we feed him (he is mistaken - we feed Miffy and Amber) will knock 7 bells out of him, I don't doubt, as he does that with any cat he meets.  He is close to being trapped, neutered and rehomed somewhere else . . . 

I have never lived anywhere where so many stray cats turn up in my garden. Like my good friend in America (Morning's Minion), I am sure they are drawn as if by magnet - though in her case they are actively DUMPED).

Monday 24 September 2012

Antique shop prices . . . think of a number

We had a little wander around the antique shops in town this morning, just window-shopping. These days, the antiques shops are often set ups where lots of different dealers rent a space (according to their pocket) and stock it with what they think will attract a buyer.  In an ideal world, we'd do this too, but we can't afford take a chance on paying a regular rental and perhaps not selling anything for weeks.

Anyway, we had a wander round and there was only one piece of Torquay pottery - a big mug with a good long motto on the back, but at £25 I felt it was all the money and more, and think it's probably a good few pounds more than it's worth in the current market.  Sometimes items for sale are old stock, bought at the top of the market a few years back, which still haven't sold and I can quite understand folk not wanting to sell stuff for half of what they paid for it!

There was a rather battered copy of Eden Phillpotts' "Widecombe Fair" too. As I picked it up part of the spine fell off (that sort of battered condition). That was priced at £10 and bears absolutely no resemblence to general market value (which would be £3 or so in good condition).  I collect Eden Phillpotts and would have bought it at a sensible price, but this was obviously one of those "Oh it's old so it must be valuable" pricing decisions.  Personally, I do my research before I, say, list anything on e-bay where if it's that much over-priced it just won't sell. 

I have decided to sell my collection of Portmeirion pottery (wedding gifts originally) as after having them wrapped up for 3 years, and now collecting the Torquay pottery in its various guises, I far prefer the Torquay pieces and would rather put the money from the Portmeirion into some good pieces for my collection.  I did my research - found out prices new, saw what they went for on e-bay (where there will be P&P on top) and priced them at e-bay prices and they will later be offered for sale on there if I don't shift them locally.  Several women have picked them up, saw my marked price, and despite my offer of a very good deal if they wanted to buy the set of bowls or plates, they loftily remarked that they are "over priced".  It's that old car boot sale ethic - if you're trying to sell at a car boot sale, then you have to do so at give-away prices, even if what you are offering is desirable, yet in a shop setting, it's often "think of a number" . . . Everyone has different levels of knowledge - if it's something a dealer has never come across before, they may price it high and hope to be lucky.  Sometimes the price is a blistering one from sheer ignorance, but on the odd occasion we have picked up a bargain because it's in our area of expertise!

Ah well, we came home empty-handed but I did buy myself a pretty little circular wicker basket with handle yesterday at the boot sale (for blackberrying), and I was given a water-damaged (as in it was still soaking wet!) beautifully-embroidered picture when I expressed an interest in it.  I have it currently soaking in Ariel and hoping I can get the dirty marks out and the mould just starting to form on one corner.

Friday 21 September 2012

Visit from a little ghost cat . . .

I was laying in bed last night, having just stopped reading and turned out the light.  I felt a cat jump gently onto the bed, walk across me and then down into the hollow between me and my husband.  Having been convinced all "lurkers" had been put into the kitchen, I sat up and said to K, "I thought you said all the cats were downstairs - yet one's just walked over me."  I put my hand out to see who it was - and there was nothing there . . .  He hadn't felt anything (well, I suppose he wouldn't, it was me that was walked across).  I can only assume it was a little ghost cat, visiting, and giving it some thought, I think it must have been my darling Lucky, as the strides were very short (she was a little short-legged cat).  Bless her - coming back to say hello.

My eldest daughter has spoken of a ghost cat on her bed before now too.

I am sure the pragmatic amongst you will think - daft woman, it was just her imagination, but I am sure the animal-lovers may think differently . . .

Thursday 20 September 2012

Cats and Crumble . . .

I did some baking this afternoon: a pizza for supper; an apple crumble and a small loaf of bread.  I left the two latter, covered with a clean teatowel, on top of the oven to cool. 

Anyway, we have just been seeking out lurking cats and putting them in the kitchen where they sleep overnight.  Fluff trotted across the kitchen floor, leaving wet footprints behind her, and she had a wet hind leg.  I looked about: no grey cat in sight.  Sheba (aka Misery Guts) and Fluff don't get on, so I assumed they had had a spat and Fluff had ended up in the water bowl.  Yet there was no spilt water. 

I went across to the cooker to put the bread and the cooled crumble away, only to find out that Fluff had attempted to make a bed on top of the lovely warm apple crumble, and THAT was why she was wet - she was covered in apple juice!  Ah well, just as well we have plenty of apples!

Wednesday 19 September 2012


The Weaver of Grass has just written wonderfully about her fear of spiders.  I can quite sympathise with her - around this time of year there seems to be a population explosion - or they all come into the house to keep warm over winter.  I am afraid I don't care for them either, and have to deal with them with the working end of the Dyson pipe especially when I am decorating - as I am in the kitchen at the moment.  I say sorry to them before they go to meet their maker but I am sure a Dyson-death is fairly instant and preferable to drowning in paint.

Anyway, there was a time when I wasn't too bothered about spiders.  I can remember my friend Tricia had one with yellow markings on its back which lived in her dad's toolshed and she had hysterics every time we had to go in there.   At that time, I was OK with spiders, as long as no-one required me to pick one up.

Anyway, this went on until we were having Sunday lunch one day.  Bear in mind this was the cusp of the 1950s into 1960, so there was linoleum on the floor and just a square of carpet in the centre.  We were all sat down to our roast, and I could hear a sort of scrabbling noise over the lino.  I said about it to Dad (mum was too deaf to hear it) but he didn't think anything of it.  Anyway, a few minutes later something tickled my neck and when I put my hand up to rub my neck, the biggest spider this side of the African jungle fell into my gravy.  I have never screamed so loudly before or since, and neither have I liked spiders.  Oooh, it gives me the heeby-jeebies just remembering it!

Tuesday 18 September 2012

If I ever write that book . . .

. . . the one about living here, I finally have a title.  My son called me out into the hall tonight, and said "Look at this."  It was a young newt, going for a stroll up the tiles in the hall.  I picked him (her?) up and carefully put him (her) back outside, but as there is a big gap beneath the door, it may just come back.  We have had lots of young newts/frogs/toads on this particular pathway over the years.  Perhaps it is genetic memory.

Oh, and the book title?  "A newt in the house is worth two in the pond . . ." or something like that!  Author:  Gussie Finknottle (of course!)

Saturday 15 September 2012

When packing for the car boot sale . . .

. . . make sure that you don't pack a cat too!!  Banshee decided this was a good billet . . .

A Normal Saturday

 The cover picture shows Barley being carted at Rickling Green in Essex. 

The day started as most Saturdays start, dragging myself out of bed as the alarm insists it is time to get up.  Which wouldn't be so bad, except it was 6.15 and I had been awake between 3.40 and 5 a.m.  Sigh.  I really did NOT want to get up and my OH was like-minded!  Still, car boot sales wait for no-one so we had breakfast and set off, and indeed, were early enough to bag a few bargains.  I spent all of 20 pence (!) on a lovely little book which was just waiting for me to happen along: The British Countryside illustrated.  It has a soft cover (a little like an old exercise book), and illustrated throughout with black and white photographs and probably dates from the 1930s.  The previous owner has noted beside certain places, when they were visited.  London was the most frequently visited - Oct 1927, Aug 1936, July 1937, July 1942, Aug 1945 and Aug 1950.  I should have thought the July 1942 "holiday" there may have been a bit hairy!  Ilfracombe, Land's End, Tenby (twice), Llandudno, Blackpool were also holiday destinations, some of them quite late in the season - October or November.

 Tenby, bearing more than a passing resemblence to Victorian Whitby!  It has been polished up a bit in recent years : )

The photographs show the British countryside which I can just remember little snippets of when I was growing up in the 1950s.  The Botany Bay gypsies still used one or two of their heavy cobs for ploughing, and still drove them to a "trolley" to get about to the bits of land they had.  Horses pulled the milk floats, though milk was in bottles by then of course, and there was a little rag and bone pony called Sally - a chestnut with lots of white on her legs and splashes on her tummy and the filthiest greasy coat you could imagine.  Shires pulled the Corporation dust carts in Shirley in Southampton.  Country lanes were still largely quiet with traffic, and the  photographs evoke so many memories of unmodernized farmhouses still being lived in by actual farmers, barns being used for storage of hay or straw, and although I remember a small-bale harvesting of hay (unlike the big wrapped bales common nowadays), no-ne was still using the old-fashioned reaper and binder any more.   It was a peaceful countryside I recall, one we could safely run wild in.  That's why I am enjoying the Wartime Farm programme so much, as it is so reminiscent of my childhood, and I recognize things like the Tilly lamps (which we used in powercuts), open fires, chopping wood for kindling etc, a "copper" for washing day, and a mangle for getting the worst of the water from the clothes and sheets.

A scene from a byegone age, though I can remember seeing a field of stooks like this in Dorset before we left.  It had been grown specifically for thatching, I believe, using wheat which was much longer in the stalk.  It was like stepping back into Thomas Hardy's Dorset.  The above photo, however, was taken near Ipswich, in Suffolk.

Anyway, this won't get anything done.  I have chutney all prepared and ready to be cooked, so I had best get changed from my decent clothes into ones which need t be washed and will be once they are reeking of Green Tomato Chutney!

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Wartime Farm

  (Many thanks to the BBC for the use of this image)

This is the new series following on from Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm, and starring historian Ruth Goodman, and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn.  The first part of Wartime Farm was aired last Thursday and is going to be obligatory viewing for the next few weeks, plus the book and DVD of the series are officially on my Christmas list.  I was particularly looking forward to seeing this production as it is filmed at a place I know very well, just a few miles from where I grew up, and where I walked, played and rode in childhood and walked and rode as an adult.  I know it as Cricket Camp, but it is now officially Manor Farm Country Park. 

I have written about it before, HERE, so you will get more of an idea what the farm and area are like, and also its wartime history and importance to me.

I have such happy memories of riding there on dear old Snowy, and later walking my dogs Tara and Misty through the woods, and along by the River Hamble, not to mention nearly having an unofficial bath when I rode an ex-steeplechaser Tim (acronym for his racing name, Time is Money) and he started pawing at the water when we rode into the river and a lot of energetic leg aids and some yelling just managed to forestall him sagging at the knees and having a bath!

There were more wartime memories today, as after we had spent a long morning at the car boot sale at Laugharne, we took up the offer of a cuppa from the lovely couple Simon and Min who run the 1940s museum there, and had a lovely long chat, sat in the little two room cottage which forms part of the museum.  There was vintage 1930s/40s music playing on a gramophone and as we sat round the table and talked, we could almost have been back in WWII.  We have been pleased to donate a couple of family items from that period to the museum and it is good to see them in use, and my husband's mother's little aluminium pan is part of the wartime story told about the Anderson Shelter, as she used to take that, the tea caddy, and the ration book into the shelter whenever there was an air raid.

Now an early night is called for I do believe, as I can hardly stay awake.  Oh, and cow number 400207, if you belch like that again when I am picking blackberries the other side of the hedge, I shall report you to the methane police!

Monday 10 September 2012

I love cooking

At a recent car boot sale I found a book called Ann Carr's Recipe Collection.  c. 1987 but it had my sort of recipes in and tbh, 1987 still seems like last year to me!

Then when in town today I couldn't' resist a copy of the BBC Good Food series "One Pots" from which I wanted to try just about every recipe, so it seemed good value at £3.70 - you get 100 recipes for that.  I keep my food magazines for years anyway, so feel it's a good investment.

I really enjoy cooking but I have to admit that since the girls have left home my horizons have been closing down on me as they are the ones who like "interesting" food (e.g. tasty!)  My menfolk like their food fairly plain and boring.  My husband's idea of fancy cooking is corned beef hash!  So now and again I get some inspiration to cheer myself up.

Talking of the kitchen, I got some paint for it today as I am sick of it being white.  It has always been one shade or another of yellow and it just didn't look right white - we painted it that colour to make it look lighter to anyone viewing.  Well, no-one is viewing and we have to live here, so s*d it!  I spent the afternoon painting the bay window walls in Buttermilk, and it looks like it should do and a deep Clotted cream colour rather than yellow.  I was also Very Good and I set to and cleaned the paintwork and windows (inside and out) and scrubbed the floor there too.

The sleepy late-summer feeling of early Autumn has now been replaced with winds and rain.  I look at my apple crop and hope it will get larger before the birds peck every single apple off the trees . . .  The apples are like this year's blackberries - where they are present, they are very small and hardly worth picking.  The elderberries are virtually non-existent (although one of the bushes in the yard has cheerfully begun to flower again) and several people have said there are no sloes, so I am glad I have some of each in the freezer from last year.

What is the wild harvest like in your neck of the woods?

Sunday 9 September 2012

Losing patience . . .

Once again, Google blogger has informed me that I no longer have enough space for any more pictures.  I think I may be going to move my blog to a different provider, so watch this space . . .

We have had a busy week here, and several early starts.  I am feeling somewhat jaded this morning.  I had planned a stroll up the hill to pick whatever pathetic blackberries I can find, but I've just looked out of the window and it has started raining . . .  Damn - that means I have a date with the ironing instead!

Anyway, last night's rain drove one of our wanderlust cats back home, as Jarvis reappeared on the scene after a heavy belt of rain had arrived and done its worst.  He'd been gone about four days, little wretch, but will be tucked up on our bed later on, with his head on my pillow (there is a patchwork quilt between he and it.)  His brother Alfie has been a bit lost without him.  He doesn't get the same wanderlust and is always around the house or garden.  They will be thundering up and down the stairs once I leave the kitchen door open.

We thought that little Ban would be lurking up in the attic once the rain had driven her in last night, but when we came out into the hall, there was a rustling of newspaper and we found her in one of the two bags of screwed up wrapping paper we had retrieved from amongst the car boot china yesterday.  She was as warm as toast and had she not moved, would probably have been totally overlooked and spent the night there!

I had one REALLY positive discovery over the weekend - how much singing will help my Asthma.  I haven't sung for years and yet I used to love singing along when we were playing folk music CDs.  Anyway, having been belting out an accompaniment that sounded rather like a sack of stray cats, I did my peak flow and found it had shot up from 350 to 400!  Now 400 used to be my peak flow average pre all these chest infections.  The woman who was formerly my Doctor told me before I left her practice that I would never reach 400 again.  Well lady, how wrong can you get?!  However, I have also discovered that if you spend the day at a car boot sale and forget to drink the big bottle of water you took with you, dehydration is sufficient to knock this back to 360.

We have had a positive week in many ways though, with our son and heir returning safely from foreign parts.  He is job-hunting in Swansea today and planning to leave home and get a flat/house share with friends and next year, he and his best mate intend to work in Australia and/or New Zealand.  We knew that something along these lines would happen once he had realized that the world is your oyster.

We really WILL be rattling around here once he leaves.  How I wish a buyer would come our way . . .

Thursday 6 September 2012

Blackberrying with cats . . .

Last night it was such a lovely evening that I walked across the lane to the field opposite, to try and find a few blackberries (believe me, it was a FEW as well - about 2 dozen!)  I found I had a trio of cats following me - Banshee (who spends all the warm days of summer in this field), mad Miffy (the boys' mother), and on the cow highway above the bramble bushes, grey tabby and white Sheba (aka Misery Guts) was yowling for me in her deep Eartha Kitt tones).  Ban and Miffy were running around the field like they'd never been free before.  Sheba carried on moaning, because she didn't know how to reach me.  I nursed my dodgy knee and tried not to turn my leg in the poached areas where the lame cows had been hopping round that week.  Sheba finally found her way through a gap in the brambles and joined us, but kept her distance from the other two - she doesn't like any of the others At All. . .

Anyway, we had had a very long day and I am surprised I had any energy to move as we had been up since 6 a.m. and not home till 4.15, having been to a small car boot sale all day.  It was finally worth the effort, when our two rocking chairs went to a new home at a knock-down price, to a dealer on holiday . . .

The photographs are the views from our recent day out in Laugharne.  What an idyllic spot beside the marshes.  I watched Swallows and House Martins swooping low above the brackish tidal stream just flipping their beaks and wings beneath the water and then soaring upwards again in a thousand silver drops.  Gulls and other seabirds floated on the still waters of the high tide.  A swarm of other waders flew up as one from the mudflats as something disturbed them, jinked in a cloud of wings and disappeared from view in a parabola of movement.  A heron stalked at the water's edge, stiff and hesitant like starched grey silk.  Holiday-makers walked below the castle, intent on visiting Dylan Thomas's boathouse.  They paused for photographs - lingering and making the most of the scenic backdrop.

After delivering some artifacts from my husband's family to the 1940s Museum (they were delighted with them and part of my husband's family history is now part of the tour!)  we visited St Martin's Church , and found the grave of Dylan Thomas, marked by a simple wooden cross which people had left seashells and pennies on.  His wife Caitlin is remembered on the other side.  (She survived him by half a lifetime . . .)

Today our son is home from his travels and we are having a celebration meal (roast pork with all the trimmings was requested).  I think we will all sleep well tonight.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

A Little of What You Fancy Does You Good

Here are our recent indulgences.  This is quite an early piece of Torquay pottery with a raised hand-painted decoration of Cockington Forge (writing is on the reverse).  No back stamp to say which pottery produced it, and I have yet to track it down as for date etc on the Internet.  Probably first decade of 1900s.  This cost me £4.

A photo showing my entire collection on the shelf above the sink.  I haven't specialized yet - just collecting various pieces and I will decide on which to keep long term at a later date as I learn more about them. 

My husband and I also like Doulton's huntsman design stoneware pieces because they don't pretend to be anything other than utalitarian pieces for country kitchens.  The mug has a large crack behind out of sight (£2) and the teapot has a broken spout (£4).  We can live with them until we can afford undamaged pieces.

Most of our collection lives in the kitchen.  There are a couple of pieces too large to fit on the shelf so they live elsewhere.

The "copper pointy thing" we bought recently, which is in fact a late Georgian/early Victorian copper and brass ale/cider warmer.  It would have been put into the fire, pointy side down, to provide a warm drink for chilled travellers.

I have been thinking, now it has been packed away for the past three years, perhaps I could live without the Portmeirion pieces we had as wedding presents.  I far prefer the wide selection of Torquay pieces, which tie me to my Devon roots. . .

Monday 3 September 2012

At the Antiques Fair again

 Winstanley Cats.  What's not to like about them?  I shall put one on my Christmas list one year!

We had a wonderful day out last Saturday when we took ourselves off to the Antiques Fair at Builth Wells.  It's about 100  mile round trip, but worth it as it is just our sort of favourite day out and we only go twice a year, when it is on.

Below is a view from the Balcony:

We didn't spend a great deal, and brought a picnic lunch from home to save on spending a chunk to eat at the Fair, as it soon adds up.

The weather kept fine all day and so we were able to have a saunter around all of the outside stalls, and also a good wander around the stands in the sheds.  The posher stands in the Halls we save till last and just window-shop as their prices are not usually within our range, lovely though some of the items for sale are.  To be honest, there is a limit to how much upmarket glass and ceramics you can take in before your eyes glaze over, regardless of how gorgeous it is.  It might be different if we were out to actually BUY a piece of it of course!

My husband was drooling over this stand as it had lots of manly swords and other weaponry.

Lots of stalls had various items of jewellery on, but that's not my thing, so I usually scoot on past.

We love good furniture and this table was one we both lusted after.  No price tag . . .

This is the best photo I could get (the lighting was good here) of all the different ceramics on offer on one stall.

For once, I bought ceramics.  I had a really good look at all the pieces of Torquay pottery on offer, and bought a lovely early piece with a relief pattern and hand-painted decoration of Cockington Forge.  The name was the only give-away as the style was soft and very old-fashioned looking.  We also bought two (damaged thus cheap) pieces of Doulton huntsman pattern stoneware which we also like - a mug and a teapot.  I'll try and remember photos tomorrow.

I think we walked miles as we went round twice, plus back to the car for our lunch and as my knee was giving me jip I had to just amble round and fortunately it held up for the day though it is back to complaining again now and having to be iced.

Sunday 2 September 2012

A day at the horse sale

Sorry about the dearth of postings this week but I have had a busy week, one way and another.  Now today I am feeling hornswoggled after a really good day out at the Antiques Fair up at Builth yesterday, but more of that later.

On Thursday I took myself off to the Horse Sale at Llanybydder.  I forgot my camera, so I will just put up a couple of photos from previous years.

I suppose it is a good thing . . . in a way . . . that the horse sale here is a shadow of what it was in pre-Passport days (horses cannot be sold without a legitimate passport, which documents their markings, colour, distinguishing features etc) which, since it costs money, has partly quashed the indiscriminate breeding of feral ponies.  Ponies which, sadly, often had only one new owner, and that was the meat man.

Now, whilst there are still some ill-bred, unhandled, poorly fed horses and ponies coming through the sales, their numbers are less.  It is still a dumping ground, however, for horses and ponies with medical problems (some unseen without an x-ray - beware the flashy 16.2 hunter which has a wonderful track record under saddle but sells for 400 or 500 gns as it probably has been diagnosed with something incurable - navicular, blindness, wind problems, kissing spines, arthritis all spring to mind.)

Others have behavioural problems - did the "backed and turned away" 5 year old turn out to be a nutter, or just badly started?  Sometimes there is a clue in the wording of the catalogue, for instance, "has been known to buck" or "not 100% in traffic" or "strong ride" or even "goes all day without stopping"!!!  There's presumably no legal come back then . . .  Known vices are supposed to be mentioned - "has been seen to crib", this demonstrated by the horse grabbing on to the metal railings in desperation.

You do get some decent Welsh Cobs going through on occasion, and there are some nice unspoilt youngsters at times and bargains to be had.  Some of the entries are distress sales where people can no longer afford to keep their horse or pony and these may find good homes.  Some ponies are saved from the meat man - a friend bought an elderly and starving little grey Welsh brood mare and gave her four happy years before she went over Rainbow Bridge.  Indeed, our own Itsy was rescued from there and bequeathed to me and is now in the most wonderful forever home, so there are good outcomes at times.

Coloured cobs like this chap are the life-breath of Llanybydder, although the prices they are expected to fetch (often by Traveller owners) are shall we say, exorbitant at times.

Tack is obligatory for horses and ponies considered "broken in".  It is often as old as the hills and quite frequently fits where it touches - either hideously large, small, broken-treed and I've seen bits literally hanging out of ponies' mouths before now.

I do not allow myself to think about the fate of the horses and ponies.  Some I know go for meat.  Some go to less than suitable owners.  Mares (of whatever shape or persuasion) can always be bought to get a foal from and just turned out and forgotten all winter. 

Hooves are usually in shocking condition - one horse last week has feet which had grown really long and then chunks were broken off.  A dark brown brood mare had such shocking sand cracks that some ran from the coronet to the ground and one hoof was split so badly she was almost cloven-footed.  She made under 200 gns. . .

Anyway, I went principally for the tack sale, so missed out on what prices horses were fetching, but I did see an unbroken 3 year old unreg presumably Welsh Cob colt of about 14.1 or so go for just 50 gns.  Had you seen his conformation you would have understood why he went so cheaply . . .