Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Antiques Road Trip Arrives at Cottees Auction House

Yesterday was just a normal day. Up early and off to an auction, but as soon as we arrived at Cottees Auction House and Saleroom in Wareham, Dorset, we realised something was afoot. The packed car park should have given us a hint, but it took the sight of several young men hefting large cameras for the penny to drop. The Antiques Road trip was about to roll into town!
For anyone who’s not seen the show, the idea is quite simple. Two competing antique experts set off on a road trip around the UK searching for treasures to sell at auction.  Each week-long episode features different experts, yesterday was the turn of Philip Serrell and Tom Scott.  
Turning up in an open-top car is a nice touch, unless, as was the case yesterday, it's pouring with rain. The two presenters looked as if they were in need of a warming cup of tea, but first there was the business of putting the roof on the car...
not once, but three times!

Philip Serrell and Tom Scott staying dry between takes.
Filming continued throughout the early part of the auction, and I rather wish I’d paid attention as I don’t know who won. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before the programme airs.
I was lucky enough to be the high bidder on all the lots I wanted so a very satisfactory day. I don’t suppose the losing presenter will feel quite the same way. 

Update January 2014; this show aired on BBC Two today and is available to view here until the 17th January 2014.  If you look very closely you can see Terry and I at the back of the auction room! 

Monday, 27 May 2013

Author Guest Post with Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo

     My childhood was pretty much normal for the time period. I was given frilly dresses, which I destroyed playing outside. In my first grade picture, I was sporting a very stylish black eye from playing football with the guys.  I also had a magnificent doll collection that was in pristine condition, because I never played with any of them. They never held any interest for me, yet they were the gifts I kept getting. It was the time period; little girls should have dolls and frilly dresses.   I, on the other hand, was much happier playing with model horses and animals, building them enclosures and making them places to sleep. No small container was safe from being a food dish for some kind of animal.

    When I wasn’t playing, I was reading. I pretty much wiped out the children’s section of our small town library. I loved animal stories, (big surprise there), unless they had a sad ending.  (To this day, I will not allow Old Yeller in my house.)  I would scrounge through my collection of play animals and find likenesses of the ones I had read about.  When I found one, I would put it on the shelf to remind me of the book I had read. This habit continued all through my childhood.

     One day someone gave me a small tea set with Peter Rabbit on it. It was made of china and very fragile. I thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world. I put it on the shelf with my raggedy animals and that was the beginning of my love affair for literature partner pieces in china.  This collection expanded over the years and grew to include a King Arthur Statue, a Treasure Island plate and many other wonderful treasures.
     I kept this collection for years, even taking it with me when I moved out to start my adult life. It was displayed prominently and safely in every place that I lived.  Unfortunately, returning home one day I discovered my house had experienced an unwelcome intruder. The large dog I owned at the time apparently made sure the intruder felt unwelcome and gave him a run for his money. The sad part is that during their ruckus every bit of china that I owned was smashed to dust.

      Life moves on and I completely forgot about my china literary collection. I still read everything I could get my hands on, but matching characters to actual figurines was a thing of the past. Then one day I was in an antique shop with a friend of mine, and I saw it. A full size cup and saucer decorated with Peter Rabbit and his friends. It was definitely calling me. The funny thing about it was, it was nothing like the original one that I owned in my youth. That one was a miniature set and this was just a random full size cup and saucer sitting in an antique store.

      That random little cup and saucer are now safely in my china cabinet with a Sleepy Hollow Night Light and a 150th Anniversary Alice in Wonderland Tea pot. There is also a small plate that I am sure connects to a book somewhere. It is very obviously not a regular china pattern. I call it my mystery plate. It has a small girl, a bell and a horse on it. I am thinking with all the horse stories I read, I will eventually come across the one it represents.
Now that I am an author with a book of my own, I can only hope that my book, Pie an Old Brown Horse (That Knows What He Is Doing), will delight and entertain as many children as the books I read as a youngster.   Pie was written as a family friendly book, one that someone can read with their kids or their kids could read by themselves.  I wrote Pie in Pie’s voice because I figured no one could tell his story better than he could.  The book ends on a happy note, something that I love in animal stories. So many of the good animal stories are written after the animal is gone, not this one, Pie is still with us at the ripe old age of 38. 

        Pie, the book takes the reader though the last 13 years of Pie’s life and everything he has done since he was rescued from a very bad situation that almost killed him. It takes you though many emotions and leaves you with a good feeling after you have finished it.  That was the effect I was looking for when I wrote it. The book is doing pretty well. It has been mentioned in January Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. He has won a 5 star review rating from Readers’ Favorites.  I am very proud of Pie, both the book and the horse.  It may not win a Pulitzer Prize, because it is told in the tone and vocabulary of a horse.  It is a wonderful, enchanting tale of a life that went on to improve many others even though it was a bit bruised itself.   Because of this, Pie has been featured on many inspirational book sites.  If you like animals or just a good story check out Pie an Old Brown Horse (That Knows What He Is Doing).

       Thank you Barbara for allowing me to guest post on your blog! Happy Trails To You and all your readers!  

Thank you Kandy Kay it was lovely to read about your childhood, your collections and your new book. I'm glad I could help re your 'mystery plate' I've loved Norman Thelwell illustrations all my life so it was easy to recognise this one. 

For more information about Pie, an Old Brown Horse (That Knows What He Is Doing) pay a visit to   

For anyone wondering about the pony plate, there is lots of information about Norman Thelwell and his pony books on this page Thelwell.Org 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

On Parade; Our Kiddies Gift Books

During the 1940s and 1950s several publishers, notably Renwick of Otley and Juvenile productions issued these pretty story books for children. Often printed on poor-quality paper, they were none the less lavishly illustrated by notable artists of the day. The front covers are a joy! Healthy-looking children and dressed animals along with large quantities of red ink seem to be the order of the day!

People often say; don’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, the opposite is true. Do judge a book by its cover; these are beautiful inside and out!

Parade published by Renwick of Otley; A collection of stories and poems. 

Our Kiddies Gift Book Published by Renwick of Otley. Several stories including the selfish elf by Arthur Groom. Four beautiful colour plates by Rene Cloke. 

Going to it Also published by Renwick of Otley. Stories and poems. 

Pat-A-Cake Nursery Rhymes illustrated by Rene Cloke. Published by Juvenile Productions in 1955. 

Our Girls Yarns.  No publishing details given but according to COPAC it was published in 1949 by Renwick of Otley. 

Fun For Little Folk. Published by - you guessed it - Renwick of Ottley c1940s. Stories and Poems.

Whopper ABC and Play Book. Published by the Children's press in 1950. Stories, picture strips, games to play, dot-to-dots and lots more. Two-tone illustrations throughout by Rene Cloke, Molly B Thomson, Racey Helps and others.  

Hand in Hand to Fairyland published by Juvenile Production. A selection of fairy stories, including Cinderella, Puss in Boots, Aladdin and the three bears. The book is illustrated by Rene Cloke, but I don’t think she did the cover art. At a guess, I would say it’s by A. E. Kennedy, but that is just a guess. 

Dick Whittington and Other Stories. Published by Sandle Brothers and Ward Lock in 1965 with illustrations by Rene Cloke.

I hope you've enjoyed this quick trip down memory lane.

Update September 2015: All the books featured here are now sold, thank you for your interest.

Update July 2016: 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.

Friday, 17 May 2013

News; Rupert Bear, Marten Toonder and Enid Blyton

Calling all Rupert Bear fans; do you happen to have a spare £20,000 to spend? If so you might like to bid on this legendary rarity… only a dozen or so copies are believed to exist.

Prior to 1973, the annuals depicted a brown faced Rupert as drawn by Alfred Bestall. In 1973 after printing only a few of the 'brown faced' covers the publishers suddenly decided to change the cover to show Rupert with a white face. This change was made without the prior knowledge of the illustrator.

Reports suggest the copy now up for auction was given to a collector of Rupert books by Alfred Bestal himself.After recounting the story of how the white-faced cover came about and how he had refused ever to supply the publishers with artwork again, Bestall got this copy down from a shelf and signed it for his guest, commenting as he did, that he had signed no other copy.

This copy is coming up for sale on the 30th May, 2013 with an estimate of £18,000 - £22,000.

Regular readers of my blog may remember a post from November 2011 (here) where I mentioned spending years trying to find a copy of the Jack and Jill all colour gift book. It’s a lovely book with stories about Tom Puss by Marten Toonder, Spot the dog by Enid Blyton and a Dandino the dream man story by Peggy Fulton. There are also several poems about Little Boy Joe by Barbara C. Freeman.  

Since writing the previous post I’ve received lots of emails from customers asking me to find them a copy. Last week, I finally found one! That’s how scarce it is!  Sadly, as is often the case with this particular book the spine is defective; in fact, the spine covering is completely missing. Because of the damage and because I’ve had so many requests, I’ve decided the fairest option is to list it on eBay with a starting price of £10 (the amount I paid for it), you can view the listing here  
Update: The above mentioned Jack and Jill all colour gift book sold on eBay in May 2013 for £57.01. 

Seven Stories the national centre for children's books in Newcastle Upon Tyne is holding a Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feast Exhibition showcasing the many adventures of Enid Blyton. Seven Stories is the custodian of a nationally important archive of children’s literature, illustrations and manuscripts.The exhibition is on until February 2014, tickets cost £10 per person and booking is essential.

Little Boy Joe from the Jack and Jill All Colour Gift Book

There came an old woman to live in the wood, near Timothy, Thomas and Little Boy Joe.
She'd a long-handled broom and an angry black cat, "and people" said Thomas, "who only have that are certainly up to no good... Oh no! I think we've a witch in the wood!"

"Fiddlesticks!" Joe said, "It's all a mistake. Fiddlesticks!" Joe said, "I'll ask her to tea.
If she's only a broom and an angry black cat she must be pretty lonely - but I'll see to that, I'll take her an apple and cake, Oh yes! You've certainly made a mistake."

Joe knocked at the door with a one, two and three, and there stood the old woman, wrinkled and grey.
And there stood the cat, wild and black as the night, but little Joe bowed, very stiff and polite, and said, "will you come out to tea? Please do!" So they sat in the wood and had tea.

"Now I'll tell you a story," the old woman said. "Such a kind-hearted pigling deserves a reward."
So she told them a tale while the little cat purred on her knee and Joe listened with never a word. Till the summer stars winked overhead, and then, "May I bring all the others?" Joe said.

But the old woman answered "Suppose it should rain" Or to-morrow a thunder cloud break on the wood?
I've a roof and a cat, but I haven't a chain, or a tea-pot or table - my cottage is bare" But Joe said, "I'll come back again, Oh yes! We'll all come prepared for the rain."

They brought her a table, a chair and a mat, a pair of blue curtains, a rug for the floor. They brought her a stool and a plate for the cat, and a shiny brass knocker to hand on the door. "And the rain didn't rain, and the snow didn't snow, but we had a fine story," said Little Boy Joe. Barbara C. Freeman

Thanks for your visit!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

My book of the week: Scotty in Gumnut Land by May Gibbs

Oh good lord this is so adorable I just had to share it with you. I'm sure books by May Gibbs are very familiar in Australia, but we don't see that many of them in the UK. I've seen copies of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie and the Gum-Nut Babies in the past, but this is the first time I've seen Scotty in Gumnut Land. I'm a dog lover so anything about dogs always appeals, but this particular little dog is just wonderful!  I'm sure you've already guessed that Scotty is a Scottish Terrier, but this is a terrier with attitude!

Scotty lives with his humans in a town in Australia. He’s happy enough but is bored with staying in one place. When a visitor leaves the gate open Scotty grabs his chance to escape.

It’s not long before he’s set upon by two other dogs and ends up with an injured paw. Miles from home and lonely, Scotty meets a strange creature called Tiggy Touchwood who dresses in a conical black hat and scarf. Tiggy can conjure up spells that change the shape of things, bring them alive or turn them to stone. She has a friend called Mifrend (my friend), who works in a vast cavern filled with jewels. At one stage in the story, Mifrend, Tiggy and Scotty have to face a monster in the depths of the caves. But, as in all good stories the three friends end up living happily ever after!

Sometimes the covers are every bit as beautiful as the dust wrapper, and that is certainly true of this book.

Now that’s something you don’t see every day!

Scotty in Gumnut Land is now sold, thank you for your interest.

Have you read this, or anything else by May Gibbs?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Alice among the forget-me-nots

I've been out and about buying lots of new stock over the last few days. When I buy new things, my first job is to check for any missing/torn pages, colouring, inscriptions and/or any other damage. This is not a hardship because I get to spend time looking at all the beautiful illustrations and reading the odd page or ten as I go along. But, having spent the entire winter huddled indoors the recent spring weather was too much of a temptation. So the whole 'checking for problems' operation moved outside. What could be nicer than sitting in the sun with a cup of coffee and a pile of new (old) books to enjoy?

 Alice in Wonderland among the forget-me-nots. One of my favourite books with one of my favourite spring flowers. Illustration by A. A. Nash. 

The rockery has just started to wake up after the long cold winter

Popkyn the pedlar enjoying the sunshine with the daffodils and purple Aubrietia 

The adventures of Perry Winkle by Jack Orr with the yellow flowers of Alyssum 'Basket of Gold’

Is this a crocodile or maybe an alligator? Either way it’s one of the illustrations from the adventures of Perry Winkle

I can do almost anything - so long as I have a garden table and a sheet of wrapping paper to protect the books!

Forget-me-nots and (I think) Armeria Maritima 'Splendens' or  Phlox douglasii. I’m not at all sure on this one so if you know, please leave me a comment.

Jack Frost was particularly unkind this year. Not content with nipping "scores of noses and ears and toes" he also stole away with this little fairy’s wing. Can a fairy with only one wing still fly?

Friday, 3 May 2013

Dunster Castle and Cobbles Bookshop

Could there be a more perfect view? With a bookshop in the foreground and a castle in the air!

The bookshop is situated in the heart of the village in the courtyard of Tessa’s Tearooms.

A good selection of books on Somerset and Exmoor, railways, military, history, art and literature. Not quite so hot on children’s books so sadly nothing for me on this visit, but I'm sure I will be back. 

A castle has existed at Dunster since at least Norman times. It became a lavish country home for the Luttrell family during the 19th Century. Further information at the National Trust Website here

I loved the furniture and light fittings in this beautiful room. 

A cosy corner in the library.

So many beautiful rooms to explore but the gardens were calling us; 

When I took this, I didn't notice the colours in the top right-hand corner. Terry insists it’s a sun spot on the lens, but I prefer to believe it’s my guardian angel leading me forward.

As if to prove spring has really arrived a clump of perfect bluebells.

Detail from a headstone in the pet cemetery. 

One of several Magnolia trees flowering in the castle gardens. 

We picked a perfect April day for our visit to Dunster. Situated on the north edge of Exmoor and close to the sea, Dunster is a small slice of heaven. Pretty cottages, teashops, a second-hand bookshop and a castle make for a thoroughly enjoyable day. Lots more information on the Dunster Village Website here

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Sunshine and memories

I want to say a very big thank you two lovely blogging friends. Jill from Jill London and Brandy from Brandy's Bustlings. Both have kindly nominated my blog for an award - thank you ladies!

I received the 'Sunshine Award' from Jill.  Thank you Jill your blog posts never fail to make me smile, and I'm honoured to receive this award from you.

The rules for this award are as follows;
Include the award's logo in a post or on your blog
Link to the person who nominated you. Answer 10 questions about yourself
Nominate 10 bloggers
Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Just as I was basking in the glow of one award – another comes along!  Thank you Brandy, I'm delighted to accept the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

The rules of this award are as follows;
Display the award logo on your blog.
Link back to the person who gave you the award.
State seven things about yourself.
Nominate fifteen other bloggers.

This post would be very long if I answered all the questions I’m going to answer 8 (instead of 10) and state 2 things about myself (instead of 7). I hope that makes some kind of sense!

Questions and answers 
(1) A favourite quotation: I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something;and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. Helen Keller. (2) Favourite animal: Dogs but I also love cats and anything else small and furry. (3) Beatles or Rolling Stones: The Beatles – no contest! (4) A favourite destination in the UK: St. Ives in Cornwall. (5) Favourite alcoholic beverage; Southern Comfort and Lemonade with a slice of orange. (6) A favourite film: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. (7) Bugs or Daffy?  Daffy! (8) Nicknames: Bob or Bobbie, and sometimes Lady B - I can’t think why!

It's hard trying to think of two things you don't already know about me, but here goes.
I've always enjoyed entering competitions, especially ones that involve writing a slogan.  Back in 1987 I entered one such competition but instead of a slogan, entrants had to suggest items to put in a time capsule. Sun Life of Canada and The Basingstoke Gazette organised the contest and when the winners were announced at the end of May 1987, I was one of them. My prize was a cheque for £25 and an invitation to attend the 'Burial Ceremony' on Friday 12th June, 1987. My suggestion was a mail-order catalogue. I thought it a good idea at the time, but I’m not so sure now, 100 years in the ground may not do it a lot of good! The capsule is due to be ‘dug up’ in 2087. I won’t be around to see it, but I hope my grandchildren will be.

The 'time capsule' with the Mayor of Basingstoke and Maggie Philbin a presenter from the Tomorrow's world TV programme.

I've always loved this photo of mum taken in the grounds of Ibstone House in Buckinghamshire. Mum was housekeeper at Ibstone for a while. My memories of living there are very vague, but I do remember my parents telling me the owner of the house; a Mrs. Andrews was a writer. But it was years later before I realised ‘Mrs. Andrews’ wrote under the pen name of Dame Rebecca West, the author of Black lamb and grey falcon, the birds fall down and the return of the soldier among several other well known books.

These are my nominations for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award  
Tracy at Pen and Paper  Catherine at An Angel in the Garden 
Sandy M at Patches of Heaven  Sharon at Sharon's Sunlit Memories Eve at The Desert Rocks
and for the Sunshine Award
Silvina at Tazas & Cuentos Bish at Random Thoughts

Congratulations!  You are all truly deserving of these awards, and they are passed on with love xx

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