Sunday, 22 November 2015

Happy Holidays and Books from my Bookshelf

My bookshelf holds two versions of The Glass Slipper. The first is a children’s play written by Eleanor and Herbert Farjeon.  

The Glass Slipper - Illustrations by Hugh Stevenson. 
Published by Allan Wingate, 1944.

The play was commissioned and produced by Robert Donat and performed at the St James Theatre, London in 1944 and 1945. Hugh Stevenson who illustrated and decorated the book also designed the scenery for the stage production. Geoffrey Dunn, John Ruddock, and Betty Baskcomb were all members of the original cast. 

Illustration by Hugh Stevenson 

The rise of the curtain discloses the kitchen in the dim light of dawn. Snow outside. A grandfather clock, a broom, a tap, a fireplace, a pump, a string of onions, a kettle, a rocking-chair, a table, a sink, fire irons, unwashed cups and dishes. Cinderella is asleep – a cock crows. The stage lightens a little. Cinderella sits up and rubs her eyes.

Oh! Oh!
Silly old rooster!
Crow, crow!
Shrilly old rooster!
Every morning Crow, crow!
“Time to get up!”
I Know!
Fire to light,
Kettle to boil,
Lamp to polish
and fill with oil.
Ashes to sweep
Up in a heap,
Oh Dear!
I’d ever so rather go back


In this the second version the play has evolved into a story with illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard.

The Glass Slipper by Eleanor Farjeon
Published by Geoffrey Cumberlege, 1955.

Outside the kitchen in the falling snow, the Rooster crowed: 'Cockadoodledoo!' Inside the kitchen in her narrow bed, Ella pulled the thin blanket over her ears and tried not to hear him. As well as being thin the blanket was short, so when she covered her head it left her little feet bare. They were not only the prettiest, but the littlest pair of feet that any girl of sixteen was ever blessed with; but when they poked out of the blanket they were blue with cold. The kitchen was a vast dark stony room, more like a cellar than a kitchen, which is often the cosiest room in a house; but nothing could make this cold vault cosy, even when the fire was lit on the wide open hearth...

Illustration by Ernest H. Shepard.

I'm a fan of Ernest H Shepard's artwork and while the price of an original illustration from Winnie the Pooh is beyond my budget, the following was more affordable; 

Auction catalogue entry  - ticks and scribble added by me in my excitement!

I'm also lucky enough to own a letter written by Eleanor Farjeon, which reads “Darling, I expect you know this already in its other form. If not – here it is – if so, here it is again. Love and blessings on you all from Eleanor! The letter was found inside the front cover of the book on the left of this picture.

The story of Cinderella and the glass slipper is familiar to most of us, while Eleanor Farjeon is perhaps less well known.   If you would like to find out more there is an excellent piece about her here.


As many of you already know our son, his wife and their two little daughters are spending Christmas and the New Year with us.  They arrive on the 6th December and return to Australia towards the end of January 2016, which means I will be away from my blog for a few weeks.

But … before I go I'm sending you a message, wishing a wish or two.
To let you know I'm thinking, this Christmas tide of you.

Kind thoughts  

and Yuletide greetings

I'm sending loud and clear.

To wish you a Merry Christmas and the happiest New Year.

I am very grateful to everyone who visits me here, thank you. I hope this coming holiday season brings you all much joy and happiness.
I hope to see you again in 2016.
With love, Barbara xx

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Adventures of Be-Wee the Gnome A Guest Post by Julie Drew

I have got to let you know that my long-awaited and sought after treasure,'The Adventures of Be-Wee the Gnome' arrived earlier this week! Monday to be more precise, so I have been enjoying it immensely with its entire complement of 20 full-page colour plates by Lilian Govey! She and Anne Anderson did a great deal of works which had similarities in many areas, and I guess this is why I just am so besotted with them both as illustrators! Their Black and White drawings are just as gorgeous as their colour illustrations, which I do find to be such a real talent. Charles Robinson and his brother W. Heath Robinson also had this extraordinary talent with their illustrating skills! I never cease to feel extremely fortunate to have so many amazing treasures in my extensive library of old children's books!

Be-Wee,though,is just SOOOOO cutesy and adorable, even if, or maybe even because, he has a very cheeky streak to his personality! I actually just added all the photos from the listing where I managed to purchase him from, to my Pinterest page "In Books I Own!!!' as I recently decided to start a couple of pages after it was suggested by so many folk I have come to know through buying on-line from all over the world!   I must say that I do cheat by googling most of my beloved subjects and Pinning from there as the photos are usually so good!  The problem with Pinterest though, is that you can so very easily lose an hour or several every time you go into it!! It certainly has opened my eyes very wide to just how many precious and extremely special books I DO have, and I feel very humbled indeed to know that I am able to pluck any one of these off my shelves whenever I feel like!

Be-Wee The Gnome

Again I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing my snippets with your blog readers, Barbara. I have been so thrilled to read such kind and genuine comments left by many of these people who I have never met! We do share so many common interests with others all over the world, and being able to link up this way is almost like magic in its own way! I am not the most computer literate human being on the planet, so if you would like to add my Pinterest page's Be-Wee pics to your site so that they may be shared and enjoyed by your book loving community, I think that you will also fall in love with this timeless little fellow! And maybe it will encourage more of us to hunt down and read about Agnes Grozier Herbertson’s Fairy Folk from so long ago!!! Even as an adult, I am always finding and enjoying lots of the now lesser known authors' works which were a staple in the huge Annuals of days gone by!  In fact, it was in one such volume that I first met Be-Wee and his friends from the Happy Common, and other similarly named places! I now also have the gorgeous 'Hurrah for The O-Pom-Pom’, Cap O'Yellow' and 'Bob-along, The Brownie Man' in very early
editions and featuring similar characters to my adored little Be-Wee!!

A later edition of Bob-along-the brownie-man by Agnes Grozier Herbertson

Loving the way this author wrote, with her additions of sweet little rhymes throughout, I then went on to discover more of A.G.H's books such as 'Lucy-Mary (or The Cobweb Cloak)' as well as 'Teddy and Trots in Wonderland' both of which are delicious and original fairy tales with delightful illustrations. The latter was originally published chapter by individual chapter in the Ward Lock & Co 'Wonder Story Books’, during the late 1800's, and then finally all were re-published as a complete book of those adventures and illustrated by Thomas Maybank who also did the fabulous endpapers to the afore-mentioned annuals well into the 20th century .He also was the initial illustrator of Oojah, that wonderful elephant who had his own very appealing annuals in the 20th century! My copy of Teddy and Trots is from the 1920's, and is in extremely well-read condition, but I still could never part with it! Lucy Mary is illustrated by Margaret Tarrant, so to see her early colour plates is a real treat and I often look through it again, even if not re-reading the book! And of course, I simply love going through my numerous large old annuals and being delighted to re-discover the stories and poems by this favourite author about her little gnomes and pixies as they get up to mischief!  I never get tired of seeing the various characters, especially when accompanied by their very own Lilian Govey pictures!

Teddy-and-Trots in-Wonderland by Agnes Grozier Herbertson

I am blessed, truly I am, to have gotten to know such wonderful stories, even in my adult years. The more of these old children's books I discover, the more I find life still has to offer!! And being able to enjoy and then share, makes the experience all the richer!

Until the next time I am able to share my thoughts with you all, which shall be after Barbara has spent a well-deserved and long, most enjoyable break with her family, I thank you for reading and enjoying my little ramblings from Australia; and I wish you a truly special Festive Season doing your favourite things with your favourite people.......

Many warm smiles always, Julie and the Fur Babies here in Oz.    xoxo  'Wu-u-uff!!!'

**All images Pinterest

Thank you so much Julie, I look forward to ‘chatting’ with you again in the New Year. Barbara xx

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to call in – you are all wonderful! Barbara xx

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Fruit Cake and Flower Girls

You may be wondering what fruit cake and flower girls have in common but read on and all will become clear …

It's a lovely sunny morning ...

The recipe looks straightforward, so I'm sure it will be OK. Whoops - please excuse the blob, I softened the butter a little too much!

Plain Fruit Cake

Ingredients 150g (5oz) soft margarine (I used butter), 150g (5oz) castor sugar, 2 eggs, 275g (10oz) mixed dried fruit 225g (8oz) self-raising flour 1 level teaspoon mixed spice, 100 ml (4 fl oz) milk.

(One) Preheat oven (150 deg C, 300 deg F, Gas 2)

Castor sugar in the bowl and flour in the scales - we are under way.

1 level teaspoon (and a bit extra because I love it!) mixed spice

(Two) Put all the ingredients together into a mixing bowl (told you it was easy) & stir well until the mixture is blended to a soft dropping consistency. 

(Three) Turn into a prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 2 hours until firm to the touch.

(Four) Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

(Five) Try to decide between a pretty plate or one that tells it like it is!

(Six) Settle for the one that tells it like it is.

(Seven) Sit back and enjoy.

In recent years our Christmas cakes have come from Marks & Spencer but this year I want to make my own hence the practice run before tackling the real thing. My sister kindly sent me her foolproof (never had a failure) Christmas cake recipe, and that will be my next challenge. 

Our son, his wife and their two little daughters are coming over from Australia. We have all kinds of things planned with a trip to Disneyland, Paris and a few days in London at the top of the list. We also have a big family get together and a trip to the pantomime to look forward to.  We are counting down the days until the 6th December when they arrive. It will be two years and one month since we last saw them. 

Zoe Rose and Lilly Grace when we were last together. Malaysia 2013.

Zoe Rose and Lilly Grace last weekend (with thanks to their mummy for the photographs)

Zoe Rose

Lilly Grace

Don’t they all look adorable?

I promise not to bombard you with lots of cookery inspired posts – books will be back on the menu very soon! However, I must just tell you about my Madeira cake ... no, not really!

Lots of you know the very talented Willie (he of the amusing comments) but did you know he can cook?  To prove it, he has agreed to share his Christmas cake recipe with us all!  

Ingredients: or something like this

* 2 cups flour
* 1 stick butter
* 1 cup of water
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 cup of sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 cup of brown sugar
* Lemon juice
* 4 large eggs

* Nuts
* 2 bottle brandy
* 2 cups of dried fruit soaked in brandy

Sample the brandy to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the brandy
again. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and
drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a
large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point
it's best to make sure the brandy is still OK. Try another cup... Just in
case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and
chuck in the cup of dried fruit with plenty of brandy.

Pick the frigging fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner.. If the fried
druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the brandy to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt.
Or something. Check the brandy. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your
nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or some fink. Whatever you
can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to
fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl
through the window. Finish the brandy and wipe counter with the cat.
Take a taxi to Tesco and buy cake.

Bingle Jells

Willie Wine....Top chef!  Living on a mountain, somewhere in Dorset! Hic! 

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