Wednesday 28 November 2012

Off on my travels

You will have to bear with me a while as I am off on my travels tomorrow, journeying (by coach) up to see our eldest daughter in Sheffield, and to celebrate her birthday.  We are to have a day out in York, so I will have to try and clear lots of old photos off my early blog so I can post photos of York and York Minster on my return.

Whilst the West Country, North Wales and the Midlands are practically floating away with the dreadful floods, for once our neck of the woods escaped lightly.  I feel for the families and folk who have lost so much in the flooding.  It is hard to imagine until it happens to you, and I hope I will never experience it.

I am half-dreading the journey, because I am lugging a heavy suitcase with me (half full of presents - but then think how light it will be on the return journey next Monday!)  There is only one change of coach, so that is bearable, and I shall pack a good book and my crochet.  (I am making cushion covers and currently doing the first of two backs). I hope I get a window seat . . .

In the meantime I have been listing a few more things on eBay, to try and raise a bit more money towards Christmas, but I had a very unhappy experience on there recently with the Buyer from Hell, and although the case has just been closed and I have not been found liable (so my money apparently refunded - it had been "held" pending the result),   I keep expecting to hear a mistake has been made, and I will have to forfeit my money after all AND the buyer gets to keep the article in question.  However, just reading about it again has made me feel so sick, as I was completely innocent and the Buyer from Hell lied and lied.  Now with everything I sell, I half-expect someone to come and tell lies and say it wasn't as described, and say they sent me emails when they certainly didn't.  Stupid, I know, but when someone is lieing and calling YOU a liar, and making things up that you cannot prove or disprove, it is a horrid feeling.  The total INJUSTICE of it.  I know this will strike a bell with one or two of my readers on here, and it brings to mind our own family problems in recent times.

Anyway, I am hoping that York won't get flooded as we arrive although I think it is pretty damp up there.  I'll be back Monday evening.  In the meantime, keep safe, dry and warm.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Support your local shops

A miserable Saturday out there - grey and monotone, and with the only colour seen from my window a splash of cerise from some foolhardy rambler roses who insist it is still mild enough to put out the last few flowers. The first of the promised rain has arrived and the wind will doubtless follow (strong gales predicted and torrential rain).

This morning my OH and I went to have a poke around the auction and mart at Ffairfach.  We used to go quite regularly and have had a few bargains from there in the past, but it had very little to tempt us today.  The things under cover included very undesirable pieces of mid-20th C furniture, occasional boxes of odds (only one worth bidding on as it had a couple of pieces of T G Green blue and white striped china) and private sellers of things that the largely farmer clientele might one day need including an assortment of ill-worked crochet throws which had used up oddments of utalitarian-coloured wools (think colours that don't show the dirt!).  The deadstock outside was dire - sodden pieces of wood, empty plastic feed buckets which had once contained ruminant fodder, and farm bits and pieces - didn't encourage us to linger.  The poultry were interesting - I fell in love with some Bluebells and Silver-laced Wyandottes and Sebrights have long been on my wish-list if we ever have poultry again.  My husband prefers the ducks and there were a good selection on offer.  We didn't hang around to find out what prices they were going for as it was too chill and damp.

We lingered outside only long enough to haggle for and buy an old steen (a part glazed earthenware container wider at the top than the bottom - they come in various sizes) which will go by the Hergom.

Earlier in the week we spent a couple of hours shopping in individual (as opposed to multi-national) shops in Carmarthen.  We had need of the Craft Shop (for batting for upholstery), the Market - to price foam for upholstering some chairs and to buy wool; the £1 shop in King Street (more wool for crocheting gifts), butcher (sausages) etc. We also visited the curtain shop and bought material for upholstery and another bargain which is a gift, so I daren't mention it here. We only had to resort to T*sco for cheap gin for Sloe Gin (using the big plump Fiddleford sloes from last year, which I had in the freezer) and because they had a 3 for 2 on Cod Liver Oil which my husband needed.

This afternoon may see me in the kitchen with my upholstery tools as I have four drop-in seats for Victorian balloon-backs to deal with.  Himself is watching the Rugby and our son is back for 2 nights and a day (he needs an early lift to work in the morning and no trains running from his new digs).

Right, soup-time.  Keep warm, dry and safe.

Thursday 22 November 2012

"After Rain" by Edward Thomas

After Rain

The rain of a night and a day and a night
Stops at the light
Of this pale choked day. The peering sun
Sees what has been done.
The road under the trees has a border new
of purple hue
Inside the border of bright thin grass:
For all that has
Been left by November of leaves is torn
From hazel and thorn
And the greater trees. Throughout the copse
No dead leaf drops
On grey grass, green moss, burnt-orange fern,
At the wind's return:
The leaflets out of the ash-tree shed
Are thinly spread
In the road, like little black fish, inlaid,
As if they played.
What hangs from the myriad branches down there
So hard and bare
Is twelve yellow apples lovely to see
On one crab-tree.
And on each twig of every tree in the dell
Crystals both dark and bright of the the rain
That begins again.

Saturday 17 November 2012

When Sea Eagles lived in the New Forest

One of the 3 books which I bought at Hay-on-Wye recently was The New Forest Beautiful by F E Stevens, and dated around 1929.  I was reading it last night and in the final chapter, was absolutely astonished to read the following (he was referring to various lists of birds which had been made over the previous century):

"The eagles seem to have disappeared.  They were there in Gilpin's time (1724 - 1804), for he mentioned a pair which were for several years to be seen in King's Wood, and two were killed near Christchurch many years earlier.  Those particular specimens were not casual visitors, for in the shooting records of the second Earl of Malmesbury, it is mentioned that one of these had wrought great destruction among the wild-fowl and even among the hares.  These must have been monsters, for the record shows that when one settled on an oak to shake its feathers, even the tree shook.  It was a sea eagle, and a youngster, only two years old, but it weighed nine pounds, and had a breadth of 6 feet 6 inches, and a length of 3 feet 1 inch.

The Eagle Tree in the Forest is so named because it was upon a branch of it that an eagle - a sea eagle in that case too - was shot by a Forest keeper, but that was about a hundred years ago."

Can you imagine the absolute STORMS of twitchers descending  if one was spotted there today?

The chapter mentions Honey Buzzards as being quite common too, although Hawks were generally in decline (hardly surprising given the trigger-happy Keepers.

Monday 12 November 2012

Lost in translation

I look out of my window across a drear landscape, lit only by yellowing leaves on the rambler rose, and the Caramac-coloured leaves on the sycamores by the gate.  A white gleam from the caravan in the field opposite provides a foil for the colours.  The sky is the colour of a grey dove's underwing.  A breeze stirs the arching brambles and ramblers to fidgeting.  As a day, it much like any November day.  But it is . . . different.

Yesterday we helped our son move out to house-share with a friend some 25 miles away.  We knew it was coming - after his foreign travels this summer he was merely waiting for a decent pay-cheque (now he has full time hours) and then we knew he would be gone.  It will make our lives much easier, as the past couple of winters have been very difficult when we have had to go out at 8 p.m. at night to fetch him from work (a 20 mile round trip each time) and this year, get him to early shifts starting at 8 or even 7 a.m.  With ice and snow on the ground, this was never a welcome journey.

He had all he needed up in his attic rooms, and just appeared for meals and to occasionally watch something on tv with us which we all enjoyed.  So why does the house now feel so empty?  A threshold has been crossed and a step taken into a future we cannot  fathom.

I am delaying the moment when I go upstairs to tidy up and make up the spare single bed from storage in the next room.  Then it will all be underlined.  My children have grown up . . .

Early evening, and I am just adding a note  to say thank you all SO MUCH for your support and your positive comments.  Thank heavens for friends - I feel so much better having read them and cheered that shadypinesquilter took time to post for the first time.  Whilst I know it is a job well done to raise your children so they feel confident to leave home and make their own way in the world, it is still hard to give yourself a mental shake and move on.  Now WE have some freedom again - after nearly 26 years of child-raising.

When I bit the bullet and went up to clean and tidy his room, my husband came with me, and that always makes things seem better, to have your partner helping.  I made hundreds of spiders homeless as I vacuumed the beams and nooks and crannies, and we made three heaps of belongings: rubbish, rubbish??, and keep (for the moment).  We put up the spare single bed, put on fresh bedding and aired it with the electric blanket.  We put unwanted? books carefully back on the bookshelf, along with a pile of discarded PC games and old CDs.  Clothing was neatly folded and put away until he has room to have the case with his suits and better clothes in it delivered (Friday probably).  There is another pile of books to be donated to charity and a few passed on or sold.  I feel very much better for having got the first of the three rooms sorted.  I may redecorate there in the New Year/when it warms up, to freshen it up a bit and not everyone wants a red half-timbered wall (though the carpet is red and the rest of the room white).

Right, we don't have to turn out to pick him up at 8 tonight, nor do I have to cook another evening meal at 8.30, so we will settle down and relax.

Friday 9 November 2012

A Day in Hay . . .

Good evening.  Well, we have had an absolutely wonderful day out in Hay-on-Wye again today to celebrate my husband's birthday.  It was raining a little when we left home, but cleared around Brecon and stayed dry all day until we were driving home, and then it got increasingly heavy.  It did stay dry long enough for me to pop out just as we were approaching Brecon on the way home and I angled the camera through the sheep wire to get a snippet of the view with stunning autumn colours.  As we drove along, I kept saying to K to write down descriptive words of the autumn colouring for me.  The focus was on beech, field maple, birch and hazel and they were incredibly beautiful in a medley of autumn colours.

The beech trees were the most noticable as they were so much taller than everything else and didn't blend into the scenery in the way the murky dun and bright bay of the oak tree foliage at this time of year.  The beeches were a mixture of cinnamon and butterscotch, sometimes with a foil of lemon yellow silver birch leaves in front of them.  The field maples were as yellow as English mustard, or as golden as palomino ponies, and were often planted beside hazel which at this time of year reminds me of lime marmalade, with a sprinkling of leaves like golden sovereigns.  The blackthorn bushes were fast losing their leaves and in places only tiny stipplings of gold remained, like flecks of gold dust.  The road for almost the entire route home had autumn colours dripping over it.  A shame I was the designated driver for the day . . .

This is a glimpse in the window of an antiques shop we haven't been in until today.  It contains the most eclectic display of wonderful things.  It is our eldest daughter T through and through!  Just seeing the stuffed heron in the window gives you an idea of further inside . . .  When we were there back in May, she had a pair of zebra-leg  table lamps in the window (already sold!)  Bizarre!

A view across the Hay shops from the Castle steps.

We had lunch in the Sandwich Cellar in Back Fold - where we always go.  I had my traditional sausages in a bap and OH had his traditional bacon bap.  Scrummy!

Then it was off to explore our usual bookshops and the antiques shops, which was thoroughly enjoyable, even though we'd last been about a month ago with T.

We were careful with our spending and although my OH found me a little Torquay pottery cream jug in an antique shop on the way, it had a tiny chip and was only £1.  He bought a new book (on Transylvania), and I found one on collecting Horse Brasses, and a lovely old one on the New Forest, and an interesting one I'd picked up before.  I shall share them with you tomorrow.  My total spend was £11 and his was £7, so we didn't splash out too much.  When you consider the sheer number of books in all those shops, it could have been VERY much worse if we were rolling in it!

Autumn colours near Brecon.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

A cheering-up day was needed

My OH and I have not long got back from an afternoon at the Cinema, where we went to see the new Bond film, Skyfall.  It was BRILLIANT!  Our son treated us on his Orange Wednesday number, so us two old codgers had a chance to relax and unwind, and I for one, forgot about the recent hassles.  I won't spoil it for those of you who intend to see it, but the action scenes were great, and it was as good as any of the earlier films.  Mind you, if you suffer from vertigo, you may have to shut your eyes in one bit!   It's the first one I've seen with Daniel Craig in and as he reminded me very much of my first love, I enjoyed the eye candy!

I raided M&S on our way back to the car and now have a crusty wholemeal bloomer, Orkney Crab Pate and some Herefordshire Single Orchard cider for tonight.  Bliss.

Thank you for all your kind comments - how it helps to have friends at the tap of a keyboard.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Auctions - of one sort and another

Theo making sure his bowl doesn't run away!

 Sorry not to be posting much.  I sold a perfectly good item on eBay and have someone being increasingly nasty and demanding dry cleaning costs when there was nothing wrong with it when it left me.  I shall not be selling any more of my clothing on eBay again - there are some horrid people out there.  It's bad enough when you sell something and someone never pays . . .  I shouldn't let it get me down so, but it is - the unfairness of it I suppose.

Anyway, we've just been watching the Antiques Roadtrip, as we do every weekday evening.  Today they were in Wiltshire and ending up in Wareham - at Cottees sale room, where we started off buying stuff (for our house) at auction.  It still looked pretty much the same, though different faces there.  So many happy memories of days there with T in her push-chair (she was a very obliging baby!)  We still have quite a few of the pieces we bought then.

We have enjoyed going to auction so much over the years, and seen some real fluctuations in prices and demand.  Boxes of fairly ordinary china went from £3 or £4 up to £20 or more over the years.  They're going back down now - it's Winter and not so many car boot sales so demand is less.  We have seen the zenith of Victorian furniture (never popular due to its size) and now it is in the duldrums again.  Nobody wants ordinary prints and paintings - you can get half a dozen for a fiver at one sale we go to.  Some things (the nice chairs we have collected in the past) keep their money better.  Good Welsh dressers tend to hold their money too.  We are just getting back into auction-going again after several years away so it is interesting to  see what prices things are making.  Of course, it depends on what auction you go to as some are more expensive than others as they have a different quality of items in the sale.  The last one I went to the boxes of china had a mixture of ordinary and very nice desirable china in and were beyond my pocket. 

Well, the cold is getting to my fingers again - away from the fire it is perishing - once the house gets cold it takes a lot to warm it up again and we daren't have the central heating on.  Keep warm everyone.

Friday 2 November 2012

One room living - it must be winter!

Although there are still leaves on the trees (unless they are Ash trees, that is), winter is fast approaching and on Monday we decided to have a few hours out before the weather took a real turn for the worse.  We drove down to Narberth, a busy little Pembrokeshire town with views towards the Preseli Mountains.  We looked in a couple of charity shops and my husband found a pair of slightly-too-long brand new Hawkshead cargo trousers - just what he needed.  We had a look around the Museum, although I have to say that the price of entry was a little more than the exhibits warranted.

Here's a photo of one of their photos showing a saddler selling his wares in the weekly market around the time of the First World War I'd say.

We looked in the antiques centre too, but nothing to greatly tempt either of us, though I did like a Lemon and Crute (Torquay) bowl with a bird on it.  (Too dear though for my pocket though).  As we half-suspected, we also found the set of four kitchen chairs we had to sell through the car boot sale back in the summer, for a "dealer price" (e.g. same as at auction) and now being offered for 3 times what we got for them.  It made me rather despondent, but then as my OH said, they actually bought 3 1/2 chairs as one had a dodgy back which he'd had to repair so someone will get a shock when they lean back too far one day and the back breaks off!

We then drove back to Laugharne to deliver an old ironing board, and sleeve-ironing board and some magazines to the 1940s Museum, where they will be of more use to them than in our junk room.  The Museum folk (Simon and Min) were delighted, and we are pleased they will be appreciated.

Now we are down to one-room-living again as we simply cannot afford to heat the house at all this winter.  We can run the Hergom stove in the kitchen now and again, but unless we suddenly inherit a fortune, when the oil runs out, that's it.  The woodpile looks good at the moment, but it won't last if we are burning it all day long. 

Anyway, today the sitting room turned into the kitchen, as I peeled potatoes, peeled and chopped two big pans of apples for pies, mixed the ingredients for a big cake, etc.  I've been shortening trousers too and this evening I have my crochet to look forward to.  So our winter routine is back.