Monday, 28 May 2012

The midnight adventures of Kelly, Dot and Esmeralda by John S. Goodall

Few words are needed to describe this lovely wordless picture book by John S Goodall. The exquisite paintings and use of half-pages carry you along without the need for words. The story begins when Kelly a lovable Koala, Dot a Dutch Doll and Esmeralda a tiny mouse awake just before midnight. After enjoying tea and cakes in the dolls-house their adventure begins. They climb into an inviting picture on the wall with a river running through it and a rowboat drawn up on the bank. After a trip on the river, tea with a hedgehog and a ride in a gypsy caravan the three friends arrive at a village fair. When Esmeralda is caught by a large and very unfriendly cat, it’s Dot’s quick wit and Kelly’s bold action that saves them from disaster.

What do you think - did they plan their trip or was it a spur of the moment thing? Have you 'read' this or any other wordless picture books by John S Goodall?

Please say hello to Lilly Grace born at the women’s and children’s hospital Adelaide on the 23rd May. Congratulations to Karen and Steve we can’t wait to meet you Lilly Grace – won’t be long now.  

Lilly is our fourth grandchild. The eldest is Kip followed by Tris, Zoe Rose and now Lilly Grace. We couldn't be any prouder or happier!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Alice in Wonderland tea party

My sister turned seventy at the weekend. Celebrations began with a tea party organised by my niece, Paula and her family. This lovely hand made Alice in Wonderland invitation set the scene for the day;

Dear Auntie Barbara and Uncle Terry, you are hereby invited to join us in celebrating Sue's 70th very merry un-birthday, birthday tea party on the 19th May, at 12pm. Lots of love Paula, Dave and Robyn xxx

Saturday was a lovely sunny day so the party went ahead in the garden as planned. Paula and Robyn spent the whole of Thursday baking, and were up at 5.30am on the morning of the party to make sure everything was ready.

The table settings, cake stands and pretty silver teaspoons were all sourced from eBay – a task that took several weeks.

Sue the birthday girl and "Alice" for the day

"Eat Me" cupcakes!

"Drink Me" champagne - no need to ask twice!

This delightful pansy covered decoration and the Alice in Wonderland one at the end of the post were handmade by Paula.

The birthday cake (on the right) was delicious as well as pretty.

Some of the guests at the "Mad Hatters Tea Party"

Terry and I having a fit of the giggles!

The birthday girl and gifts

Seventy eventful years in one beautiful scrap book

Another of the pretty handmade decorations

Happy Birthday Sue! Thank you Paula, Dave and Robyn for a wonderful day.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Uncle by J. P. Martin with illustrations by Quentin Blake

Lots of you know how much I enjoy my book-selling ‘job', but one of the drawbacks (probably the only drawback) is not having enough time to read everything that comes into stock. Uncle is one such book.

Uncle by J. P. Martin with illustrations by Quentin Blake

This is from the introduction… uncle is an elephant. He dresses well, generally in a purple dressing-gown, and often rides about on a traction engine, which he prefers to a car. He lives in a house called Homeward, which is hard to describe, but try to think of about a hundred skyscrapers all joined together and surrounded by a moat with a drawbridge, and you’ll get some idea. The towers are of many colours, and there are bathing pools and gardens among them, also switch-back railways running from tower to tower and water-chutes from top to bottom.

I was flicking through the pages trying to get a ‘flavour’ of the story and came across this passage.    

Halfway up the valley is a large enclosure labelled Trade Exhibition. Uncle was in no hurry, and seeing that there was such a crowd, he though he might as well visit this first. They went in,  paying a halfpenny for the whole party at the turnstile. It was quite a good exhibition with a large number of stalls. One was kept by a dull, heavy ox. He appeared to have only one thing on his stall, a box, pink in colour, called BIRTHDAY BOX. Uncle asked the price. “A thousand pounds,” replied the ox in a slow, dull voice, “and I won’t come down a farthing in my price.” There was something about this box that took Uncle’s fancy, and though he thought the price high, he paid it in clean hundred-pound notes. The moment he did so, the ox took from behind the counter a little board marked STALL CLOSED and prepared to leave.  

OK, so now I want to know what was in the box! Was it worth a thousand pounds? Or was it empty? Why does uncle wear a purple dressing gown and ride around in a traction engine? You see how difficult it is listing so many books but not having the time to read them all.  It's no good I'm going to have to read it – I wonder how far I will get before it sells? Or maybe it won’t sell, and I will be able to read it at leisure, only time will tell.

Have you read Uncle or anything else by J. P. Martin?

Uncle is now sold, thank you for your interest.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree recreated at Chelsea

If you happen to be visiting Chelsea this year keep a look out for Seventh Heaven based on The Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton. Standing at a record-breaking 80ft high it’s probably going to be difficult to miss!

Welcome to my garden: Diarmuid Gavin with his tower. The tower boasts a slide running from the fifth floor to the ground, giant swinging chairs, waterfalls, 30ft tall bamboo, a wrought-iron staircase, and birch trees. 

Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone illustration for The Magic Faraway Tree

Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree

The Magic faraway tree featured in two previous posts Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree found and an Update on The Magic Faraway Tree.  

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Recipes from an old farmhouse by Alison Uttley

This battered and well used book brought back so many memories - making toffee and coconut cream with my mum and sister, eating rhubarb straight from the garden and scrumping apples from the orchard.  

Recipes and anecdotes from the author's childhood, published in 1968 by The Cookery Book Club and originally sold only to its members. Based on the recipes Alison enjoyed as a child, including Mrs. Lowe's Parkins, named after the neighbour who baked them and different natural remedies, including cough mixture and tinctures. The author recalls incidents of childhood, including picking cowslips for cowslip wine and the importance of the seasons for produce in the days before most foodstuffs were available year-round.

Treacle toffee
Boil half a pound of treacle with half a pound of Demerara sugar and two ounces of butter. Boil for half an hour. Then test in a cup of cold water, and if it hardens it is done. Pour out on a well-buttered flat dish and cut in squares.

Coconut cream
Take a coconut and break it open. Keep the milk ready. Grate the fresh coconut ready for the toffee. Put a pound of loaf sugar with half a cup of coconut-milk in a saucepan and add an ounce of butter. Boil and add the grated coconut, slowly. Boil for ten minutes, stirring all the time. Pour into a basin and beat with fork till nearly cold. Then turn into a dish. Colour half of the mixture pink. Press one half over the other and cut into strips.

Rhubarb and fig pudding
Make a syrup of half a pound of sugar and half a pint of water and stew in it two pounds of rhubarb and a pound of figs. Make the stewed fruit a nice colour with cochineal. Put alternate layers of bread and fruit in a pie-dish. Let it stand until cold. Turn out and decorate the top with custard or whipped cream.

If you happen to have your own private meadow full of flowers, why not try making some cowslip wine? But please don’t pick them or uproot them from the countryside! 

Cowslip wine

Measure the peeps of the flowers. To each peck allow three gallons of spring water. To each gallon add three pounds of sugar. Boil the water and sugar one hour and skim. Add a few whites of egg whilst boiling. Strain, cool, and when just warm add a little brewer's yeast. Let it stand. Pour in the peeps and the peel of two lemons to every gallon of liquid. Stir now and then for nine days. Then pour it into a wooden barrel. Let it be a fortnight before fastening the bung hole with a cork, wired on. In two months you may bottle. At the last put in a pint of best brandy to each three gallons of liquid.

Gathering enough cowslips to make the wine is quite a task. This is how Alison Uttley describes it; one morning in April my mother would announce that we would pick cowslips for cowslip wine. We would set off after breakfast, the servant girl, my brother, my mother and I, with a clothes-basket, and several smaller baskets. It was exciting to run down the first big field, deep down to the gate that led to the cowslip field. By the gate we left the clothes-basket, and each took another basket and began to gather the flowers. The air was scented, sweet, aromatic, and the birds sang joyously. We stooped low and picked the flowers, leaving the small ones and gathering those with long stalks and a multitude of bells. We emptied our baskets into the clothes-basket, one after another, but we got tired, our heads were dazed with stooping to the ground.

At last, we children were sent off to swing. After a time, my mother and the maid came up the hill with the basket nearly full between them. Their work continued after a hasty meal, and all afternoon they picked the flowers. When the men went milking they stopped and brought the flowers to the house. At night, we sat in the kitchen pulling the peeps from the flowers. The stalks and calyces like pale green lace were thrown on a sheet spread on the floor. The 'peeping' continued all evening, until bedtime, when it was finished. Then the real making of the wine began.

From the preface; nowadays some old farmhouse recipes, with their lavish, often hit-or-miss quantities and quaint instructions, are valued as curiosities rather than for practical purposes; others can be followed quite easily or will invite experiment. All are especially interesting when seen against their true background. Mrs. Uttley's collection will give a great deal of pleasure to all lovers of country life and tradition.

Recipes from an old farmhouse by Alison Uttley is now sold, thank you for your interest. 

I still use the cookery books that once belonged to my mum.  How about you do you use recipes handed down through the family?

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Tim Rabbit and Company

I've been busy listing lots of stock this week and thought you might enjoy a sneak peek.

Tim Rabbit & Company
I was delighted to find these Tim Rabbit books by Alison Uttley. Published in the 1960s and complete with their original dust jackets. 

Tim Rabbit's dozen 

No ordinary rabbit

 Tim is no ordinary rabbit and there is always a bit of magic about when he is on the move, whether he is visiting his aunt Eliza, building a snowman, or climbing to the moon to play with the moon rabbits. Alison Uttley writes with a real knowledge of animals and their ways.

The Tim Rabbit books are just a few of the many additions to the website this week. Other favourites are these two picture strip books from the 1950s. According to the Toby Twirl Website, Toby Twirl on Dapple Heath is one of the hardest to find. It’s incredibly fragile, so it's easy to understand why there are so few about.

Toby Twirl on Dapple Heath written by Sheila Hodgetts 

Nicholas and Timothy's adventure in the burning mill by Kitty Styles 

Last but by no means least two Pookie books written and illustrated by Ivy Wallace. Pookie a little white rabbit with bothersome wings sets out to seek his fortune, not knowing what a fortune is or where to find one! 

Pookie by Ivy Wallace

Pookie and his shop 

Update July 2016: All the books featured are now sold. March House books closed on my retirement in 2015, but I am still happily blogging here at March of Time Books. Your visits are always appreciated.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Book of the week; Hansel and Gretel

The classic tale of Hansel and Gretel retold by Derek McCulloch, or “Uncle Mac” of the BBC. Derek McCulloch was a high profile children's entertainer, broadcaster and author during the 1950s. He wrote some of the first factual books for Ladybird, and lent his name to several "Uncle Mac" storybooks. Hansel and Gretel is one of a series of fairy stories retold by Uncle Mac, published by Sampson Low and illustrated by Barbara C Freeman.

Detail from the front cover

Hansel and Gretel at home with their father and stepmother

Hansel imprisoned by the witch

I love the detail in this illustration

The little house had walls of real gingerbread, with slabs of sultana cake for tiles on the little roof. The windows were glazed with sugar candy, and raisins and nuts made criss-cross patterns on the gingerbread walls. There were even sugar plums and sweet dates on the front door.  

Do you remember listening to “Uncle Mac” on the radio?  Or maybe you remember some of the songs from that era. Do you have a favourite?

These are in my top ten - the runaway train, when you come to the end of a lollipop, the big rock candy mountain, how much is that doggy in the window, the yellow rose of Texas, little white duck, a four-legged friend, the deadwood stage, Puff the magic dragon and Nellie the elephant.

Did you ever see such sweet little pigs? Illustration by Barbara C Freeman from the Jack and Jill All Colour Gift Book, 1952.
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