Wednesday, 26 December 2012


A couple of years ago I was given this Christmas Rose as a Thank You for knitting a pair of mittens for my friend's elderly aunt. It's done really well in this patch of garden, which doesn't get any sun during the winter because it's blocked by the house next door. Gillian took a small piece for her garden. This plant has expanded as much again from the original plant.
The buds have this strong pink on the outside which turn into a white flower with a greeny-yallery boss in the centre. I don't think there will be many insects about in this sharp weather; although we haven't, thankfully, had any floods there's been so much rain I can't shut the old shed door, it's very swollen. The rain has made the wood so soft the mouse/mice are finding it easy to munch their way through it!!

I'm pleased it's flowered at the right time, too.
The badger seems to have given up coming for supper at last so I've stopped donating peanuts to the mice...

Sunday, 23 December 2012


Every night, currently about 5pm when it's dark, I throw out two handsful of peanuts plus any cut off crusts from during the day for the badger. He/she is still arriving every night except that last night it didn't appear. The food, or most of it, was still on the patio this morning. I was having breakfast and saw a quick movement...and there was another garden inhabitant stuffing its tiny face...
 By the time I'd taken the camera from its case (even though it was beside me on the coffee table) it had long gone. I waited and it returned though it's so fast it's only there for a second. Never mind about the photo being in focus!

Going, going.....


It was still peeping out from beside the old shed on the patio but decided it was wiser to be prudent.
I've already had a large-ish hole blocked up but the soft rain-soaked wood enables mice to munch through the shed wall. I have a piece of old towelling hanging on a nail on the inside of the shed door which, I noticed, had large holes in it so there's a nest in the offing somewhere.

(Just a giggle to end on, though. When I was still teaching the headmistress always booked a theatre trip for the 5 and 6 year olds in January. One year we went to Wimbledon where there was a childrens' play covering the seasons, I believe,  and all I can remember about it is that one character wore red and white striped stockings so she looked like Pippi Longstocking. There was a scene where it 'snowed'. As the 'snow' fell several hundred children stood up to see where it was..).

Thursday, 20 December 2012


I was wondering what I could blog about so near to Christmas and thought about 'Christmas Day in the Workhouse' by George R. Sims and the alternative version, 'Christmas Day in the Cookhouse' by Billy Bennett. I decided the Workhouse poem was a little bit unhappy (and very long) to post about at this time of year so looked around the bookshelves and found this book, which covers the whole year.
 It was originally published in 1955 and my copy cost 30p so long ago I can't remember where or when I bought it. I must have picked it up because Rowland Hilder was the kind of artist who painted Kentish landscapes with buildings and these appeared on Christmas and Birthday cards for many years. They're very clear and representational, just up my street, although he painted in watercolours, which I don't.
The page for December, below, shows an unnamed house with various farm buildings on either side, a car outside the front door and a cart upended on the right hand side.  His wife painted the plants and greenery. There's an explanation of these below.
The description of December includes a little snippet of historical beliefs, too. 

If I don't get back again before Christmas - Happy Holiday!!

Saturday, 15 December 2012


Glenn Miller disappeared on this day in 1944 on his way to France to meet up with the Band which had gone ahead - but he never arrived. He was in only two B & W wartime films, one of which I recorded on video (Sun Valley Serenade)  and still play from time to time. The 'hero' was John Payne, who adopted a Norwegian child during the war but when she arrived she was a young woman, Sonia Henie. You'd have to be of a certain age to remember the name. She was a World Figure Skating Champion and Olympic medal winner - and film star. Also in the film were the dancers Nicholas Brothers with Dorothy Dandridge in a solo spot. Plenty of songs you'd remember from any Glenn Miller recordings. At the end of the film Sonia Henie dances on black ice which fascinated me when I saw it for the first time - there were no scratches on the ice. How was it done? Simple really, you don't have the top layer of water frozen, there's just a layer of water which doesn't leave any trace behind. Her routine probably looks a bit old-hat now but was wonderful at the time... try YouTube if you want to see snippets.

The only other film was Orchestra Wives about which I know almost nothing. I believe it was On Tour with the band, the 'hero' was George Montgomery. Can't remember the story at all!

The book above I saw at either a jumble sale or car boot and recognised the title. I took the picture from the cover, as you can see. The Glenn Miller Band played at Wycombe Abbey in High Wycombe and during the performance you can hear the sound of a doodle-bug arriving and exploding somewhere in the distance - the Band plays on.

Thursday, 13 December 2012



Here's my latest creation, made in about 5 1/2 weeks. It's not as difficult as it looks because you work on 31 stitches ar a time - one of the diamonds. I used DK wool and a No.8 circular needle, which meant that the weight of the knitting was on my lap. Not something you'd want to make in the summer months! It measures 4' x 4' and I'll use it as a throw on the back of the sofa. No sewing together but 400+ tails to sew in - sometime!!!

 I have no idea how to 'cancel' the large amount of white space below here as it won't highlight, so, sorry, another How Do You...

Saturday, 8 December 2012


When I was Secretary to the Local History Group, many moons ago, I wrote an article every month  compressing what the speaker had said and illustrating it with pictures from my books. No computer in those days, just a word processor. I always ended with a Did You Know? piece. This blog is about a nursery rhyme - as you know these are so often based on Real Life.

 Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
She shall have music wherever she goes.
The icy man in the photo above is Sir Ranulph Fiennes (you say 'Fines' for his surname) who has just announced he's taking an expedition to Antarctica to walk across the continent in the winter. And we worry about a few inches of snow...
And this is the Fine Lady of the nursery rhyme - or is she, as was suggested in a BBC programme, 'Heirs and Graces' in October 1990, really a Fiennes lady?
Celia Fiennes was born in 1662, just as Charles the Second was settling into his kingdom again after the Civil War and the beheading of his father. Celia's father had been an officer in Cromwell's army, so a Parliamentarian. She was not a sit-at-home gentry lady - she rode through all the counties of England accompanied by two servants (which must have caused a stir!). This last piece of information has come from a site - which details some of her journeys. I must read the chapter on Bucks!

The first line of the nursery rhyme has her riding a 'cock-horse', This was a horse which was used specifically for attaching to a coach or cart to provide extra power to drag the heavy transport to the top of a steep hill - there is one leading down into Banbury.
Here's Banbury Cross being used as a roundabout, naturally, since it's in the middle of the road!

Celia's home was Broughton Castle, a few miles from Banbury and, in the Civil War, was a Parliamentarian house, unlike Compton Wynyates a few miles along the road, which was a Royalist house. The photo is taken from a site advertising it as a film location - Shakespeare in Love being one such. I brought my mum here on one of our Sunday afternoon drive abouts (before 1978), long before it was used as a film location. It's still the Fiennes family home.
None of the photos are 'mine', they're all taken from Google Images.

Monday, 3 December 2012


I thought you might like to see some of the things that my descendants get up to, in age order!!
Daughter Teresa recently began making cakes for friends and her partner's colleagues at work.  The Golfer cake was made for a birthday - a two layer chocolate cake with buttercream and cherries in the middle. It was made for a lad's 17th birthday.
This cake was made for a football-mad two year old with a scarf in his team's colours laid across the pitch and the ball kicked into the long grass...

A three-layer chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream filling plus stencilled design on the top and sprinkles round the sides.

Cupcakes are always a favourite and Teresa must have made dozens in different designs. She's currently making 12 small, square Christmas Cakes - English style - to go into Christmas hampers. Never a dull moment, just a house filled with cake tins and associated accessories!

Her daughter, Diana (my eldest granddaughter) is making jams, marmalades and chutneys for family Christmas presents this year and although I repeatedly asked for photos, this one-and-only came from Teresa.
I blogged this before - it's the pattern on the 'Quilt' birthday cake which Diana made for my birthday in  September, so she's into cakes, too.
My youngest granddaughter, Sarah, graduated from Southampton University this summer. She studied costume design and fashion photography. The dress below was one she made for her end-of-college ball in 2007.
 Here's the back of it.
 She made this wedding dress after being asked by a friend - who complicated matters by losing weight all the time it was being made!
 She'd really like to do Action photography, like this surfboarding which she took at Newlyn in Cornwall, I'd guess. Not a lot of surfboarding in Britain though...
 One of Diana's daughters, Clarissa, (eldest but one gt.granddaughter) is at (I think) Wolverhampton Uni taking Forensic Science and decorating nails as a means of raising a few pennies along the way.
 I have others but these are the clearest photos to indicate what she does.

As Teresa said - interesting that it's all the women in the family...but so often women are the Makers!

James (grandson) starts at his dream job in January - working for F1 team, Force India. He's got a degree in Sports Car Engineering which has stood him in good stead in his present job but this move will be a step up the F1 ladder.

Stuart (son) has recently moved to a firm restoring Bugatti cars from the 1920s and 30s.

I just carry on knitting in the winter and patchwork and quilting in the summer!