Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Do you have things which were used by older members of your family in days gone by which you still use on a regular basis? I got to thinking about this and found more than I thought.
The photo below, from about 1931, shows my Dad (twice!) using a bookrest which appears to have a paperback book on it. It would have been taken on the Kodak Box Brownie by my mum and somehow appears twice. I don't have the knowledge to be able to disappear the 'ghost' image, even if it can be done.
 I still use this bookrest quite frequently, especially if I'm knitting, though I have to place it at the correct distance or I can't read the print. The thick base is because there are two 'arms' folded underneath which, when extended can be put across your chair arms and there's even a circular hole cut for somewhere to put your glass of lemonade. Unfortunately modern chairs don't have the depth of seat to enable me to use this. I know I did during the war when I knitted as much as I could, with wool rationed as it was.
 My Mum bought herself all kinds of what she'd regarded as nice things to own before she got married. This long mirror hanging in my lounge is one of them.
And here's the original bill for £1.4s.0d... dated 1928.
 I can't remember my Granny ever wearing glasses - perhaps older people in the 1940s didn't; after all, she was in her 70s! She always used a magnifying glass which had a wooden handle, then for some reason it was decided by - my Mum? - that she could do with a new one. That's the one in this photo. Unfortunately she found it rather heavy so I don't know how much use she got out of it. However, it's been used by me for decades, not because my eyesight's always been grotty, but because I used to paint from photos which I'd taken and needed it to see details of eg reveals of windows or chimney pot details. It still has little splashes of oil paint on the glass. These days I use it for reading labels on cough mixture bottles and the like!
 My daughter has her eyes on this glass but she'll have to wait until I'm not around to use it! It's quite thick glass and the bottom part is decorated with vine leaves and grapes. It's quite odd as it's clearly not a glass for wine so why does it have this kind of decoration? I've always regarded it as an ?Edwardian pub glass, for no logical reason. But it's used all the time. I wonder if it was bought in a second-hand market somewhere?
 My Dad was in hospital in the 1960s (when no one spoke about cancer) and I think he had this key fob with him. I've used it off and on since the 1960s and it's in use at the present. It seems to be made from blobs of coloured acrylic and is quite pretty.
The poor old monocular below has been around as long as I can remember. The original leather covering has been worn away where fingers have rested until it's like a soft suede covering. There's no name so I can't find any information about it.  It lives on a chest of drawers in my bedroom where I can snatch it up if I want to check on what birds have just arrived in the garden before I go downstairs and transfer to the binoculars which live on the coffee table. When I was at Grammar School we were taken to whichever theatre in London was showing an Opera at the time, probably just postwar. The only thing I remember was ?Dance of the Tumblers' and this monocular was passed from hand to hand around the group...
I have all kinds of small bits and pieces still tucked away but not in regular use as these items are.
What do you have???

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


I was in Thame this afternoon and, because I can now park 'anywhere' with my Blue Badge, I stopped in front of this shop.
I had to go and look at this display in the window to see if his tum was gently moving and it was - so a real, alive and very happy moggy taking advantage of the sunshine.
I asked the young man in the cycle-type shop what the cat's name was - it's Frank.

It just tickled me that he's underneath an item for sale with THE BOSS on it and the orange sunburst notice says 'Limited Stock £29.99'.
He's not for Sale, I was told!!!

Sunday, 11 November 2012


How do you write a piece about Remembrance Day?
I have no connections with any of the Armed Forces yet I feel we should continue to remember those who went to war on our account, and died, whether it's WW1 or WW2 or any of the 'conflicts' which have appeared since 1945 - Suez, Aden, Palestine, Bosnia, Kosovo, Korea and latterly Iraq and Afghanistan, a senseless conflict which can't be 'won' by the West. There are many more places where British troops, and others, have died.

WW1 produced many poets and these poems are generally better known than WW2 poetry.  I think most people will know at least the opening lines of the first verse of In Flanders Fields by John McCrae.

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard among the guns below.
WW2 also has some good poetry - John Gillespie Magee's poem High Flight which begins, 
 'Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;'
 has been quoted on different occasions. He trained in Canada and was posted to a fighter squadron in England; he died in a mid-air collision aged 19 in 1941.
Leo Marks wrote a code poem for Violette Szabo, an SOE agent who was dropped in France. She was captured and died in Ravensbruck but her poem is still remembered.
The life that I have is all that I have,
And the life that I have is yours.
The love that I have of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have,
Yet death will be but a pause,
For the peace of my years
in the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.
Leo Marks has written a book - Between Silk and Cyanide - about the SOE's Code War, a different war from that at Bletchley Park, which was military traffic. I found it quite by accident, probably at a car boot, just because I knew his name as the author of the code-poem.

In 1946 a British film, The Way to the Stars, was in cinemas. It starred Michael Redgrave and a young-ish John Mills  in the RAF, with Douglass Montgomery and Bonar Colleano as the US airmen who arrive at Halfpenny Field when America enters the war. Two poems by John Pudney are used in the film, supposedly written by Michael Redgrave's character. One, written in 1941, is For Johnny which is probably the better known of the two.
Do not despair
For Johnny-head-in-air;
He sleeps as sound

As Johnny underground.

Fetch out no shroud
For Johnny-in-the-cloud;
And keep your tears
For him in after years.
Better by far
For Johnny-the-bright-star.
To keep your head,
and see his children fed.
 The second poem,(1942) which I prefer, is simply called 'Missing'.
Less said the better.
The bill unpaid, the dead letter,
No roses at the end
Of Smith, my friend.
Last words don't matter
And there are none to flatter.
Words will not fill the post
Of Smith, the ghost.
For Smith, our brother,
Only son of loving mother,
The ocean lifted, stirred,
Leaving no word.
There was a fierce battle at Kohima and Imphal  (on the India/Burma border) against the Japanese in 1944 which turned the Burma Campaign in the favour of the Allies; on the war memorial there is a thought-provoking inscription:
When you go home,
Remember us and say,
For your tomorrow,
We gave our today.





Monday, 5 November 2012


It's been a bit of a pickly week, what with one thing or another.
On Monday I had to go to the dentist (about 48 mile round trip) to have a crown repacked round the base as I'd had a problem. Eating my first slice of the homemade blackberry jam I'd been given I heard a loud Crack! The dentist was away the next day (Friday) so I had to hang on until Monday, hoping I wouldn't swallow the crown if it fell off. He took an Xray and couldn't see any damage so repacked it on gum level and that was that. 
On Tuesday, about midday, I felt a bit lightheaded so, not wanting to fall over, that evening I called NHS Direct for some advice and they sent - an ambulance... Two paramedics brought in their bag if gubbins, stuck little sticky patches all over me (well, nearly) took details, did lots of BP readings and decided I needed a Responsible Adult to stay with me until I went to bed. They eventually managed to get hold of Stuart who turned up to watch TV until I went upstairs. Duty done all round.Then to the doctor in the morning. It's an ideal way to get an immediate appointment - 'The ambulance came to me last evening...' and I had a time for 20 mins ahead. Mad scamble to get dressed and out!
Friday was a doctor's appointment - yet another doctor I didn't recognise - but that went OK. I asked for the results of the chloresterol blood test I'd had some weeks previously and it's gone up slightly so I've reverted to statins after giving a four month trial to Plant Sterols instead.

On Friday my granddaughter, Diana, and her daughter, Danielle, who is 22 in March, came to choose a blanket as Dan is now living in a cold, heatless house while it's being remade.It belongs to her partner and the tenant who moved out left a mess to be cleared up.  This is the blanket she chose.
The house has a neglected garden covered in blackberry bushes and will probably need a goat to clear a way through them. Well, that's what various websites say.
In the evenings I had been knitting a What Can I Do Now blanket for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home which I finished and posted together with a mouse toy - patterns provided.

Such a boring pattern - 8" squares of the same colour...which made a blanket supposedly about 39" square. Must be a bloomin' great cat! The mouse was a bit fiddly but it's a bit like putting in a bar of chocolate with a Christmas present for a child, just an extra. I doubt I'll do another. I made this because I've given up stitching for the winter as I find the light isn't good enough, even with a standard lamp and a Proper 150 watt bulb on one side and a craft lamp on the other.. No daft Euro- demanded bulbs for me until I'm forced to use them. I have a stash of the good old ones upstairs...
Then, while I was having a quick look at US blog sites to find knitted blanket ideas I found this.
I think it's more an ongoing project rather than 'sit and knit until it's finished'. But it is possible to knit-and-read at the same time once you get into the swing of it.
It's made in one piece so heaven knows how heavy it will be on my lap later on. Or how hard on arthritic hands, either!This piece is 4' wide. Takes about 20-30 mins to knit each 'square'.

You can see in this closeup that there's no sewing together involved as each 'next square' is from picked up stitches. I like the way the double-decreasing centre row makes this tidy line up the centre of the knitting.

Here's the reverse...

and here's a photo showing that there will be 'hundreds' of tails to sew in at the end - if I ever get there!! I don't think I'll be able to take this to appointments at the surgery or hospital to pass the time!
Kath found another pattern which I sent for but it's done on three needles and makes a 'puff' which you fill with your chosen stuffing as you go along. I took one look and decided to put it on one side. The photos seem to show double-ended needles arranged as they are when you graft two sets of stitches together. Perhaps some other time.
Both of these patterns are made with Sock Wool, which I'd never heard of until a while ago when I decided I'd make some knitted socks to pamper my cold old feet. I looked in a local wool shop and found the price for a 150 gm ball of sock wool is anything from £10-£13 so forgot that idea. Until eBay... I now have a ball of lovely multi-coloured wool sitting on the table and a downloaded US pattern of socks made on TWO needles, not the usual set of four which Americans seem to favour. Shades of my Mum knitting during the war - not for me!
The garden's a mess with the empty pond filling up again. Gillian's on holiday and the heavy-work gardener has taken himself off to what sounds like a commune in Spain for a month or two, so it'll just have to look after itself. The wildlife will be able to enjoy it.
My boiler has been playing up for months and I finally decided to get something done about it. The plumber (registered) lives across the road so has been coming and going when he hasn't been working in the evenings and I hope has finally cracked it, being a persevering sort of bod. It seems that wireless timers/room thermostats (or whatever) are influenced by eg baby alarms if they're on the same frequency so by taking out the same pin on the room stat and the thingy in the airing cupboard it has (cross fingers) cured it!!! Now I have heat all the time and not hit-and-miss as it has been for months...! That's tempting fate!
At least the sun is shining, must put out some washing before it disappears...