Tuesday 30 October 2012

Grockles or Emmets?

What you call a tourist in the West Country depends on where you live.  In Devon they are Grockles (and in Dorset and parts of Hampshire too, and Somerset too I believe) but go across the Cornish border and they become Emmet.  An emmet (in Hampshire) is a red ant.  Apparently the mass movements of tourists are not unalike those of ants, hence the term.  My good friend J has found me this: However the use of 'emmet' to mean ants is actually from the Cornish dialect of English and is derived from the Old English word �mete from which the modern English word ant, is also derived (compare Modern German Ameise [ant]).

 The little guide I bought in Hay-on-Wye had a few interesting dialect words.  I'd never heard of "ANCHOR" used in any other than a maritime sense, but apparently it is to dawdle or potter . . .

BIGETY - stuck-up - high and mighty.

A CHATTERBAG is a gossip. Love that word!

PURDLE is to cause to fall over or spin round - to PURDLE ALONG is to go at a good rate.

SCAMMISH is clumsy or awkward.

TOMMY is food, especially when taken to work, or a loaf of bread.

A WANT is a mole.  Thus a WANT-HEAP is a mole-hole; and a WANT-WRIGGLE is a mole trackway.

Just a few words for you to enjoy.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Recent books

I bought several recently in Hay-on-Wye:  The Dartmoor Omnibus by Eden Phillpotts has been waiting for me, it would seem, these past couple of years.  I have picked it up, flipped through its pages, and put it back thinking, "But I already have Orphan Dinah as a seperate book, so it's not worth buying this."  This time I picked it up and felt guilty.  It did appear to be waiting for me.  Inside the cover it was inscribed, "Christmas 1936" .  Although I had Orphan Dinah, I didn't have (nor had I read) The Three Brothers, Children of Men or The Whirlwind.  To purchase these separately would cost a lot more than the £5 price of the book as he suddenly seems to be more collectable than he was (if Amazon and eBay and antique shops are anything to go by), so it was tucked under my arm and came home.

I have loved and collected Alison Uttley for many years.  She is another writer whose books are collectible.  This particular copy of Carts and Candlesticks is  very shabby so didn't cost the earth, and the C F Tunnicliffe illustrations are beautiful, as always, and remind me of books from my childhood.  This extract is from Chapter II: Warming-Pans and Candlesticks:

"The spotlessly clean warming-pan was highly polished, and its bright copper face was the first thing strangers saw when they came to the wide open side door.  It shone like red-gold, it was the essence of copper.  It reflected the beams from the fire on the opposite side of the room and flung them about, tossed and returned them, with the additional glow of the warm metal.  Like a polished mirror it hung, to catch every ray of light, and colour it with its own beauty.  There was something welcoming about it - a good broad smile, a winking eye, a flash of recognition, and a kindly air, for it had warmed our beds for generations and it knew our whims and tempers.  Even when all seemed to go wrong, the gay warming-pan had a secret understanding nod for me.

On cold winter nights, when ice crackled under the feet of the men in the yard, and the milk was nearly frozen in the pail, the warming-pan was lifted down from the hook and filled with red-hot cinders, glowing fiercely, raked from the heart of the kitchen fire, or from a sitting-room fire.  The servant girl went upstairs in haste with it, while I sped in front, holding high my candle to light her, for both her hands were occupied in keeping the warming-pan steady, out at arm's-length.  The heat from it was prodigious.  I entered a bedroom, throwing the door wide, and I turned back the cover and blankets from the bed.  The warming-pan was inserted between the sheets, and moved slowly up and down, with never a pause.

This action which had been performed for more years than anyone could remember, always gave me intense pleasure.  It was somehow rich and luxurious and an ancient rite, with the accompaniment of a good smell of clean linen, and hot cinders, and a faint odour of herbs and lavender and feathers.  The candle sent dancing shadows leaping up to the ceiling, the black figures of the girl and myself stooping over the bed, as the warming-pan was drawn to and fro, with never a moment's rest.  Then I slipped my hand through the sheets and felt the warmth and comfort within.   I carried the candle to another room and another bed was warmed.  There was a demand for the services of the warming-pan, and its attendant spirits.  Downstairs it was borne, the cinders were emptied out and the pan was left to cool."

The final book was "The Grockles' Guide" by Jeremy Warburg and Tessa Lorant.  You know my fascination with country language and so this purchase will not surprise any of my regular readers.  I think it deserves a page all of its own.  And a Grockle?  That is a West Country expression for a tourist or holiday-maker.  Occasionally Emmet is used instead . . .

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Autumn in our Valley

Autumn has been dragging her tinted fingers through our valley, and when I go out for walks, I can allow myself to stop on a steep hill at the "next yellow tree" or the "bare ash" (they are always first to drop their leaves, just as they are last to get them).  We have had some heavy rain and the river levels have been rising and falling several feet at a go - sometimes within hours the river level will rise as heavy rains up in the Cambrian mountains run off the steep slopes and join the river.  This time they washed away most of the cut trees we had been harvesting for winter fuel, but some remains.  The Environment Agency wanted them on their way as that corner of the river is where fallen trees always get snagged up.

Yesterday I went for Respiratory Tests at the Hospital, so we will see what the results are in due course.  With my walking up steep hills regularly, my peak flow has increased immeasurably.  I won't say that struggling up hills is in the least bit pleasurable (other asthmatics will understand) when you are gasping for breath and wishing yourself anywhere else than facing the steepest part of the hill yet, but in my case it has paid great dividends.  It opens my lungs so my peak flow can alter as much as 60 from morning test to post-exercise, and several times recently I have registered 450 and even, on one occasion last week, 460 - 10 more than what I have been supposed to aim for.  I have had to raise that magic figure to 475 now.  When I was very ill back in the summer, I was below 300 because my chest was so congested and the Doctor told me that if it got to 200 I was to phone for an ambulance and not even consider walking to the car, which tbh, scared me rigid!  What a difference it also makes to have a Doctor tell me that asthma can be reversible instead of my previous Doctor telling me what did I expect at my age and of course it would be downhill all the way now. 

Apologies for not posting as much as I meant to these past two weeks, but I am busy selling bits and pieces on eBay to raise some money to go up and visit our eldest daughter "oop North".  I shall spend a few days up with her around her birthday, and we are planning a day out in York.  I can't wait to see her again, although she has just been down visiting us, it wasn't long enough.

Theo is putting on weight and gradually getting to know the layout of the house.  The boys still think he is the Devil incarnate, but I dare say it will all settle down in time, especially once he's been neutered.  Each evening he comes up on the sofa beside me, and loves to be made a fuss of, rolling over on his back and having his tummy tickled, and absolutely beside himself with delight!

I need to "do things with apples" today as we have plenty, but all very much smaller than in a normal year.  I need to make some chutney too, and perhaps some jam as well.  And bread.  And a cake.

I shall finally get to do a book post later today, as this is a "day off" (I slept very badly these past two nights).  Don't run away.

Friday 19 October 2012

We adore Theodore

This week Theo is starting to get a bit more adventurous and when the front door is open he will go out and explore the garden.  His cold is drying up (will the carpet ever recover?!) and he is putting on weight and getting to know the other cats.  He is tolerated by them all except the boys, who look on him with abject horror, cross themselves and run away!  Hopefully once he is neutered, they will all settle down together as I dare say they see him as his father's son right now - the Young Pretender.  His father is almost certainly the stray who tries to steal whatever food is put out for Miffy and Amber, but then I suppose he thinks I am putting it out for him . . .

Here is is in the Bramley apple tree, having seen Alfie up there and realized that it is possible for cats to climb.  You can see he has no back end yet but now he's wormed, at least I am feeding him and not the worms.

He has the most beautiful sherbert-lemon eyes!  And a teensy miow.  And a taste for the better things in life - bacon rinds, little bits of cheese, cat food in gravy, chicken leftovers.  He has us trained!

Sunbathing is nice too.  Here he is having a wash-and-brush-up or - as my dad was wont to call it - "playing his eukele"!!!

I think you can safely say he is one of the family now . . .

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Seeing spots

We had a really lovely day out yesterday when we went - as always - to Hay-on-Wye for the day and came home with a few extra books.  I also  did very well on the Torquay Pottery front too!  These lovely spotty pieces came from an antiques place on the way - the big jug dates from 1952-1962, as do the bowl and plates in front of it, and are Babbacombe Pottery (that's a little area on the coast at the edge of Torquay).  The teapot/coffee jug (it has a strainer, so I'm inclined to think it was meant to be a teapot) dates from around WW1 - 1920s, and is Torquay Pottery.  You got more spots for your money in those days.  It is slightly damaged inside the lid as that part was always liable to be bashed a bit in use.  Now the conundrum - I need to defray my costs on buying these, so do I sell the perfect jug and keep the damaged piece, or do I sell the damaged piece and keep the perfect jug which will then be worth more in due course.    Perhaps I should just sell the plates and bowl and keep both the other pieces.  Decisions, decisions . . .

 I also came across this slightly wonky pinch-topped vase and had a gut feeling it was Torquay pottery too, although it was made from white clay.  The pinch-top is something used on some Torquay vases and jugs.  Then I turned it round and found it had a proto-Scandy design with the leaf-like splashes of colour which later turn into a full-blown Scandy pattern, so my hunch was right.  It probably dates from the late Victorian period.  I know - I'm becoming an anorak about this subject aren't I?!

The books we bought will be the subject of a seperate posting.

Meanwhile you will have to be content with one of the few photos taken at Hay, as I forgot to take my camera out of the car!  Arggggggggggggh!  This is the view of the Brecon Beacons (Pen-y-Fan to the right with its twin flat peaks) as we headed towards  home.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Bye-bye firewood . . .

We noticed yesterday, as we were driving back along the river valley, that the river had been in spate overnight and had come around the bend with such force it had - as the Environment Agency had hoped when it cut up the 4 trees languishing there - washed all but the biggest trunk downstream.  As we had been "harvesting" these for our much-needed firewood, this was a glum sight.  Ah well, we still have a BIG dead willow in the copse in our top field, but boy, will it be hard to shift even in small chunks as it's a good distance from the lane and uphill all the way . . .  The long-suffering and much-mended wheelbarrow will be earning its keep again.

Some friends came over for coffee and cake this week and bought me another little piece of Torquay pottery for my collection, bless them.  One I didn't have too!  I have told my OH that I now Need Another Shelf for them, though I'm not quite sure where we can put it yet . . .

Our eldest daughter T is now home for a few days, which is lovely.  We plan to check out a local horse sale today (catalogued one of Welsh ponies and cobs - good quality ponies) and tomorrow we are going to see her sister in Swansea.  In between we have friends coming over this afternoon and I need to rustle up a roast chicken and Pineapple Upside-down Cake (both requested by T), and list a few more things on e-Bay.

On Monday we will be having a much-needed day out in Hay-on-Wye (see top photo).  I hope the weather is fine for us.

Theo the Puny is now starting to fill out and looks a lot less skeletal.  He has already wormed his way into our hearts and is such a loving little boy.  I wormed him this week - though he managed to eat ALL his breakfast and LEFT the bit with the worming tablet in, so I had to mix it in with some cat food in gravy later.  That fooled him.  I have some flea treatment for him too, so will have to get T to hold him later whilst I apply it to the back of his neck though he is so narrow and lean, bless him, it will be like giving him a shower in it!  He can now scamper about - as shown along the garden path one sunny afternoon this week.  I need to get a little ping pong ball for him to play with, now he has some strength for something more than just staying alive.  I will get some more recent photos of him over the weekend.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Torquay pottery update

Someone asked (Issy was it?) to see my latest Torquay pieces, esp. the kingfishers jar I got last weekend, so here goes . . .  You can see why I fell in love with it : )

The little green jug I got today for £2, and the other more unusual one wasthe dark blue one on the left with the Stork (or Heron) on it.  That was given to me with another piece, so I baked the lady a cake in return.

The one on the right (with the "tadpoles" around the top) is one that my husband found for me yesterday (£2 again).  Probably Edwardian.

Another £2 piece.  You may notice it isn't with the others.  That's because I have run out of room on that shelf.  Oh dear - I can see I need another shelf : ) The little green owl is an old match-holder and strike-a-light (£2 again) - not Torquay, but isn't he cute?

Back tomorrow hopefully - oh, and Theo is now wanting to meet the other cats and after I got a stroke down his back today, he then let me touch his head when he was eating and did exactly what Lucky did, all those years ago, when she had come to me, starving - he pushed his head up into my hand, as much as to say, "Oh I do like you really". . .  I'm sure ALL getting-tamed cats will do that, but I feel Lucky has sent him my way

Thursday 4 October 2012

Theo the Untouchable!

I am glad to report he (DEFINITELY a he!!) has settled in well, and is feeling better in himself.  Well enough, indeed, to start cleaning himself up and the "ginger paws" are now turning out to be white ones covered in clay staining . . .

He is completely litter-trained already - whether this by design or happy mistake I'm not sure, but it's a positive.  He has a very healthy appetite, but I should think I am feeding a barrel-load of worms and he has a lot of weight to gain.  Those worms will be dealt with once he has progressed from being an "untouchable".

I am dealing with that as I did with Miffy's boys (and indeed, Miffy herself) - by gently touching him with the fluffy plait on the end of my old schooling whip.  Desensitizing, as Monty Roberts does with horses using a "hand" on the end of a stick to touch them from a distance, so that they don't  realize they are being "stroked" by the human.

Yesterday, my husband left the front door open and he escaped.  I was not party to this fact until I saw him sitting on the sitting room window-sill, whilst the hail storm to end all hail-storms was taking place out there.  I had just been saying, "Thank heavens Theo isn't out in that" when I saw that he was!  I dashed to the front door to open it, startled him and he ran off into the storm.  I'm afraid my husband had a few sharp words from me, as I had expressly said to keep the door SHUT until he was tamer and "hefted" to the house properly.  Grabbing a jacket, I ran to the yard, to see him disappear from sight round a corner of the barn, and I couldn't find him anywhere.

I was despondent when I came back in, thinking he would be out forever, and soaked, cold, hungry, miserable, chased by the horrid tom etc.  I knew I wouldn't be sleeping well that night for worrying about him.  I had left the door open - just in case - and no-one was more surprised than me to see him sitting by his food bowl later, looking hungry!  So today the door has been left open and he's had a little stroll outside and then come back in again.

I peeped just now, and there was a Bank Vole in his food bowl!  What the heck?!  I can only assume that Lucy had returned and left it outside and he had purloined it and pretended it was HIS work!

Anyway, he has been people-watching whilst I've been making soup in the kitchen, and he came through and had a wander round before going back for some more cleaning-up (those feet are VERY dirty).

Leanne - that makes, ahem, 9 now . . .  We got back down to 5 at one point, having lost Tippy, Gypsy and Lucky in the space of 5 months.  I guess word got around that there may be vacancies!

DW - oh gosh, I'm surprised the welcome sign hasn't been washed away recently, but no - still shining brightly for pussums!

Marilyn - welcome.  As you'll have read, Theo is a male (he had a wash earlier and they were difficult to miss!)

Parsnip - yes, always another OMG moment, but sometimes they move on.  The big bad toms who turn up get actively chased away, but this one made himself at home before I changed my mind!

Em - I shall get a voucher for having him neutered/wormed/defleaed soon.  I think I will put one of the cat boxes in there so he uses it and it won't be such a shock when he suddenly gets shoved in one to "take a ride" .

MM & Denim - my heart went out to him.  Soooooooo thin, and JUST like our old Timmy.  Tam will love him when she sees him this month.

Vintage Jane - definitely a boy, and definitely HE chose US! 

AJ - no way could I turn him away.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

The latest addition to the family . . .

Here "he" is.  I'm pretty sure it's a he, but I could be wrong.  Anyway, at the moment we will assume it is.  He was around for breakfast yesterday, but by teatime he was missing.  Of course, I thought the worst . . .

 Pretty little chap isn't he?

Anyway, having spent the night thinking of him dieing alone in a farm outbuilding, chased off by the nasty local tom, or fallen into the slurry lagoon (as you do, in the depths of the night), I came down this morning - and found him in the hall, demanding breakfast!

The door had been left open all day yesterday and either he has had some experience of "indoors" or he is very confident, as he must have come in.  He has been cwtched up in the Junk Room, where there is plenty of cover.  He has been called Theo (as in Theodore Roosevelt) but may end up as "Teddy".  If he's a she, we will have a rethink . . .

Here he is on the wall - I was trying to show how thin he was, but you'll have to take my word.  That's Fluff in the background, looking daggers at him.