Thursday 29 September 2016

Another busy day, and Fitbit-itis

Another busy day. A 3 mile walk this morning and it was SUCH hard going as my legs weren't in the mood for it one iota. It was a trudge not a walk. Anyway, I clocked up a few more Km on my Fitbit and was very glad for a sit-down when I got home.  The Fitbit records all your steps for the day and it's surprising how many you can clock up just around the home.  You are supposed to do 10,000 steps a day for fitness, and I always exceed that.  I am also dieting (looking at the photos on here you wouldn't believe it! but I am keeping a count of every calory).  I started 10 days ago and have lost 2 lbs this week.

I baked a cake just after breakfast - a Weightwatchers recipe which only has a spoonful of sugar and lots of fruit which also replace the fat element of the baking. I didn't feel too guilty when I had a sample piece at the end of my exercise. About 150 cal, as I left off the sugary cornflake topping. A waste of calories as it was perfectly sweet enough from the banana, apple and blueberries in it. Then this afternoon I baked a Mincemeat Cake (homemade Mincemeat), which smelt wonderful as it was cooking as it had orange zest in it. That's for friends at the Antiques Fair this weekend. Home made Minestrone Soup for lunch and home made Kedgeree for my evening meal. They tasted SO good.

Finally some photos of our new coffer now that Keith has sorted out the top - put it this way, it looked really bad before as it had been dripped on for 10 years in a leaky barn. Looking at the split "feet" on it, and because the lid is a replacement and the earlier one had pegs which dropped into the top of this coffer, we think it may have been part of an earlier mule chest. The pattern is on all four sides which is unusual as they don't normally bother with the back, and the later key escutcheon has been put on covering part of the decoration. We love it anyway,  If you look closely at the escutcheon, you may noticed two tiny little "flowers" carved in the wood, with spirally "petals".  These are used elsewhere in the main design (check the front panels, inbetween the "leaves") and add such individuality to it.

Monday 26 September 2016

Next projects . . .

Just a very quick post tonight as I am running late.  These are a few photos of the two beautiful old (and damaged) coffers we bought from auction last week.  The one above and below is staying with us.  We think the carving is West Country - probably Somerset - but I need to do some more research.  I especially like the little "whirlygigs" between the "leaves" of the design.  It has a rather naive look which is appealing.  The top probably isn't original, when you see it from the inside.  This was stuck in a barn under a drip for ten years, which hasn't helped the replacement top - there was sap wood in this area too, which made the damage worse, but my husband assures me he can get it looking much better, so watch this space.  It's only out in the cart shed temporarily, as it had to have some smelly wood treatment applied to the lid.

The pattern is called "quatrafoil", but my original association with Somerset could be faulty.  According to Victor Chinnery (THE name in expertise on period oak furniture - we have his book), Somerset motifs were also found in North Dorset, West Wilts and also Gloucestershire, but by the time they got to Gloucestershire they were often less accommplished and more expansive cuts were used with the chisel.  I don't care really - we both love the naive look and felt it had our name on it!

Below, this one we bought to restore and sell on.  I just fell in love with the geometric inlay, though there is a fair job of restoration needed on that to get it right again, but I have every faith in my husband!  This one is proving much harder to tie down, design-wise, and I have a hunch it may be Low Countries in origin.  I will let you know if I find out more.

Both the coffers are 18th C.

Saturday 24 September 2016

On the road

Finally we have had a day where we don't need to drive for hours and hours.  Whilst it is nice to get out in good weather, and see beautiful scenery, meet new people and have the chance to buy and sell stock, sometimes it is good just to be able to catch up at home.  This morning (Saturday) we changed things around in our Unit, and took some items out for the Antiques Fair we are selling at tomorrow at Llantwit Major.  Fingers crossed for that one - a good catchment area, but it depends how well it has been advertised as this is the first Fair at this venue - certainly the first organized by the young man in charge, so we shall see.  Sometimes it takes a while for a new venue to catch on.

I was able to get a proper grocery shop in, rather than grabbing a few bits on the run, which is what has been happening in recent weeks.  I have even planned (well, half planned if I am truthful!) a menu for the week.  I have changed the eating habits of the past 20 years, and am rabidly calory-counting.  I  have set a target figure of 21 lbs to start with, which would get me down to around 10 stone.  I am top-heavy, with skinny legs, and that weight has to go.  I bought myself a Fitbit Fizz which has revolutionized my life.  It is a cheapish one, which just simply records steps walked (the aim is 10,000 a day which I seem to easily pass most days) and distance in km, and calories burned.  The losing weight seems easier when you can see how many calories you have burned each day, and check that against calories eaten.  I am being very harsh with myself and set the bar low, as this is the way that works for me, by being very controlled and it allows for the very occasional treat (a glass of wine for example).

Anyway, I'm a few steps short so I'm off up the hill now my meal has settled.  You saw the photo of the current me a week or two back.  I hope to be able to keep the weight loss going and do an "after" photo.  So far, I've lost a pound in 6 days.  It needs to stay off and have a lot of friends to keep it company!!

I was determined to take some photos of our journey home from Gloucestershire.  This was a very hurried photo of a lovely long tunnel of trees we drove through.  You get the idea I'm sure!

Now for a few pictures of the Monmouthshire scenery, looking vaguely in the direction of Abergavenny (left).

It looked like the height of summer and was a lovely warm day.  What a lovely landscape to walk (or better still, ride) through.

Sorry some are a bit wobbly, but the road was a tad bumpy in places.

I missed getting a photo of this lovely Windmill on Tuesday, so was determined to stop and get a good one on Thursday.  This is Llancayo Mill, but unfortunately it is now just somewhere you rent for a holiday, rather than being a functioning working mill.  HERE is a link for you.  At least it has been painstakingly restored.

Finally, out of context!, here is a little rocky isle which you can see from both Severn bridges, but it is much closer to the old one.  Note the little baby "lighthouse" on it to warn river traffic of the rocks at high tide.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Forays across the Severn

Once again, you will have to forgive the long gaps between posts, but we have had - yet again - another jet-setting week, with not one, but two visits into England (Gloucestershire to be precise) to go to auction.  It was a two day auction and we viewed the furniture the first day, bought on line on the live internet link to the saleroom, and came back today to collect our purchases - two old coffers, very much needing some tlc.  One is to keep as we fell in love with it - beautifully carved in a West country design - probably Somerset in origin.  The other is to restore as best we can and then sell on.

We are starting with the view over the old Severn bridge, which we hadn't been across since the new one had been built - which must be 15 years or so now.  Below is the new bridge.

The auction was in Wotton-under-Edge, and as we strolled around the town today, I took a few photos.  Some nice old houses here, at the bottom end of the town, and then the view up the High Street.  Lots of beautiful hanging baskets and plenty of colour.

Anyway, there are more photographs, but they are so slow to load because the broadband is rubbish.  I need to get on to BT again, but really cannot face speaking to India for an hour until the weekend is over.  We are off down Cardiff way for an Antiques Fair on Sunday, so we hope to do well.  Back tomorrow or Saturday with another post.

Monday 19 September 2016

Another Malvern day

Yesterday I got the chance to take some AMAZING sunrise photographs, as we arrived at Malvern for the Fleamarket just as the sun rose over the hills.  I had the car pulled off the road and the camera out quicker than you could say Jack Sprat!  These first few photos need no words.

Lilac - amazing!

Then it was into the fray.  These are a bit out of synch as we did all the outside stalls first - although there were half the number that were there on the August Bank Holiday Monday.  I have just bought a Fitbit (which arrived on Friday, so I was able to give it a workout on Saturday and see how it worked, before trying it on Sunday.  I walked a similar number of steps each day, but Saturday's included a walk and I clocked up 14,000+ steps.  Yesterday almost exactly the same number (14,000 plus) but less energetically so I am about to go out for a goodly walk and set that straight.  It also counts the calories burned, and as I need to lose weight (a couple of stone if I am honest) this can only be for the good.  I shall report back later.

Above and below were taken at a stall in the Avon Hall which had some lovely treen items we particularly liked.

Outside, this poor old taxidermy squirrel had floppy ears!  Compared with a taxidermy red squirrel I had seen the previous day though, this one was in full health.  Friday's example was half white from extreme old age and I reckon someone must have found it dead on the ground and had it stuffed!

A general biew of stands in the Avon hall.

Some nice Art Nouveau tiles, sold as singles and the stall holder was also offering wooden frames to mount them in.  My favourite was the deep red flower bottom left.

Finally - I think the saddle at the back was a tad under-horsed!

On our way out we passed "Old Rosie" from Much Marcle, and had a chat with her owner and driver.  She is there for the Autumn Show at Malvern next weekend.

Back later - I have been sat here for an hour or more waiting for photos to load as broadband is so dire . . .

Wednesday 14 September 2016

The written word - how far we have come in a century

As you can see, it is fatal getting out the garden loungers as the minute you leave them, Someone Else takes over!  That's Alfie on the left and Ghengis on the right.

In the flurry that was August and early September, I put on one side a little keepsake/autograph/friendship book which I bought at the car boot sale at Burnham-on-Sea when we were on holiday.  I bought it to enjoy and then rehome at a Fair.  On the title page, which sadly was stuck together and has just had to be prised apart, is a dedication: "To Dear Eileen, Sept. 28th 1910, I.O.W. "  I imagine it was a birthday gift.  It is written in a beautiful hand - in a style very reminicent of American handwriting today, which I find intriguing.  It continues with a Christmas dedication from Percy V Sims, dated 28th December 1910:

"Love for those who love you
for those who know you true
for the heaven that smiles above you
for the good that you can do."

Next page:

"As some rare perfume on a vase of clay
Pervades it with a fragrance not its own,
So, when Thou dwelled in a mortal soul,
All Heaven's own sweetness seems around it thrown."

Philip H Brown

It continues:

"Never tell evil of a man if you do not know it for certainty.  Then ask yourself why should I tell it.

Always seek the good that is in people, and leave the bad to Him who made mankind and knows how to rub off the corners."     Goethe's mother.

Emmie Lamboll 25.5.11.

Politeness is like an air cushion.  There may be nothing solid in it, but it eases the jolt wonderfully.     E.L.

"Never a cloud o'er hung the day
And flung its shadow down
But on its heaven-side gleamed some ray
Forming a sunshine crown."

F Lamboll
May 25  1911

How we have moved on - I can't imagine such homilies being written in a "friendship book" today - I can't really imagine anyone giving a child friendship or autograph book come to that.  I will share some more of this before I take it out to sell.

Monday 12 September 2016

Where's the heatwave then?

Finally a photo of me I don't mind sharing over the ether.  My darling husband has used a camera perhaps half a dozen times in his life and normally his well-intentioned attempts are not the sort I want to share with the world!  However, as I was all dressed up ready to go to the Antiques Roadshow valuation day last week I thought I would let him loose with it again.  Result!  We had a lovely morning down there but alas, our geese were not swans - more like dead ducks!!

Photographs will be thin on the ground for a while though.  The blame can be firmly laid at a failure with the internet, which has been getting worse and worse over the past fortnight.  It hasn't the guts to load photographs at all now and when I made the mistake of trying to view a property on line last week, each thumbnail photo took 30 seconds at least to load.  I have been just too busy (and never in the house) to phone them up before now, and I really don't want the threat and intimidation of being told if the fault is with my equipment I will have to pay them £130.

Above, a photo taken at the Antiques Roadshow which was held at Pembroke Castle.  We queued initially for about 2 hours, but were then dealt with more or less straight away.  Tip: how to tell if African masks are genuine.  Real ones are much bigger and don't smell of smoke (they are smoked over a fire to darken them!)

Today is Tuesday.  So much for the promised heatwave - it is miserable and overcast, and everywhere is still wet from recent rain.  I think mowing the lawn is now on hold!

I need to go for a walk, weather regardless.  Friends with Fitbits talk of doing their 10,000 steps daily (required for optimum fitness as we all age) and whilst I can easily clock this up on a Malvern Day, or on an hour's walk in the locale, my fitness levels are offset against the days spent at Fairs and Fleamarkets (though there is a lot of upper body fitness going on when we load and unload for Fairs, as well as walking back and forth between car and tables.  Worse still are auctions, when we might spend several hours (if our lots are spread out through the sale) just sitting.

We now have two Units, in different towns, to try and optimize our selling opportunities.  We had discussed in recent weeks about the possibility of just concentrating on the Fairs, with smaller "smalls" on my side which wouldn't take up much storage room.  Then last weekend we failed miserably in our selling efforts (people just weren't buying - we were the free entertainment) so have had a sharp rethink on THAT plan!

As you can see, I am about to be held to ransom by the apple harvest.  This is just one tree, the dual purpose one at the end of the driveway.  Below: we will trim this branch back once the apples are big enough to pick.  Meanwhile we just have to duck!

All our stable Swallows have left for Africa now.  A few House Martins (a late brood) remain just long enough to get their last babies fed and fledged.  They were trawling the air just before dark last night, passing so close to the front of the house.  I miss their chatter as they form a line along the power cables between the farm and the house.  I miss seeing them and hearing them as they raise their broods.  

Autumn has truly arrived.  When we go to Malvern Fleamarket this weekend, we will see fields of golden stubble (none in Carmarthenshire, which concentrates on sheep and dairy or beef cattle.)  The apple orchards will be ripening - we have seen heavily laden trees and one in an old established orchard of old trees not grown on dwarf rootstocks, had split in two last week.  Obviously a fragile (diseased?) trunk, the weight of the fruit and a recent windy night became too much for it.

Mindful of the fact that Christmas is now on the far horizon, I have blown the dust off my sewing basket and picked up the x-stitch project I began in the spring.  It is destined as a Christmas present for a friend so I need to crack on with it.  I will try and post a photo of it later in the week.

Meanwhile, it is nice to have time to draw breath.  We have had a very busy August and early September has followed suit.  I am greatly enjoying the new series of Poldark, and also watching Victoria.  Sky offered us 5 months free use and a no-contract deal where the following 7 months are just £10 a month, so it allows us to record clashing programmes, even though we can't get our favourite Discovery channel for that tenner.

Off to finish my Word Gram game on Mindjolt.  What a time waster that could be if I let it!

Monday 5 September 2016

Busy busy - and internet problems

This was the cake at my table for when my dear friend Kim and her boyfriend Tim came to visit.  It was all very last minute because I was an egg short for the recipe, and had to wait until my husband bought me some back from town.  One half of the mixture was slightly thicker and came out of the oven just 20 mins before my friends were due to arrive.  Needless to say, it was bunged unceremoniously into the fridge to keep company with its thinner half . . .  I have made . . . lighter! . . . sponges, but it tasted good all the same!

We have been very, VERY busy here.  Fleamarkets, both buying and selling at, and auctions, and friends visiting and . . .  you get the idea.

Here are a few photos from Builth Antiques Fair last weekend.  These are some cheerful crochet animals from a lady who always has a stall there and is very craft-orientated and a keen crocheter.

Two rare (and thus expensive - £150 I think was the price) Aller Vale jugs at the Fair.

You can buy almost anything there . . .  From an age when such things were considered stylish (sadly).

There weren't many quilts on display this time, but this one is spectacular.

I just loved this little horse who had been used on a carousel at one time.  He was £595 or he might have come home with me!

This was the nicest jewellery stand we saw.  Lots of goodies, and all colour-matched.

The Domestic Byegones is always one of my favourite stalls.

Right, off to bed now.  Count yourself lucky to have ANY photos the way the computer is playing up!