Monday, 28 November 2016

Just Tagging Along ...

I promised to join in with this tag months ago but it somehow kept getting put on the back burner. Thanks for including me Tracy sorry it took so long!

My Answers To Tracy’s Questions

Given that they say your old mobile/cell phone could make you serious money, which old object(s) do you have stashed away in a draw collecting dust?

Sadly or perhaps gladly depending on your point of view, I'm a hoarder.  Hence picking one thing to share is pretty much impossible. I've kept everything from old sugar cube wrappers (yes, honestly) to my grandmother's hat pins. 

I've also kept most of the cards I've ever received including this one from the girls I worked with in 1966. It must have taken ages to make because all the little doors and windows open and behind each one is a message or a drawing. It’s a very large card at almost two feet tall, but that hasn't stopped me taking it with me through eight house moves. The messages still make me laugh, especially this one ‘Wishing you all the very best you horrible old moo’ and ‘Good-luck mate you’ll need it’ 

'Mork and Mindy', 'Fantasy Island', just two of the tv programmes from my childhood that I'd love to see repeated. Which of your childhood programmes would you love to see again?

I grew up watching Muffin the Mule, Bill and Ben and The Woodentops and would enjoy seeing all of them again.  I also have fond memories of programmes watched with my son in the 1970s, things like Grange Hill, Mr. Benn and Jackanory.  If you've not seen Mr. Benn, it’s the one where a man wearing a black suit and bowler hat visits a fancy dress shop. Once he’s chosen a costume he leaves the shop through a magic door and enters a world appropriate to the costume he’s wearing. I always thought it was such a clever idea as it provided endless possibilities for adventure.

If I were to say 'iconic film' to you which scene/saying from what film would first come to mind?

"You're gonna need a bigger boat." Brody/Roy Scheider in Jaws (1975). 

'Aunty Taitty', 'Mrs T'. Apart from your given name, which other name(s) are you/have you been known by?

Bobby, Bobbie, Bob.  I was about a year-old when someone commented on me being ‘a lovely little boy’! As a joke mum and dad started calling me Bobby, and the name stuck. These days I'm more often called Bob. Come to think of it I did look like a boy. Perhaps that is why mum always put me in pretty dresses and encouraged my hair to curl!

I'm taking you for a meal, as well as a main course do you opt for a starter OR a pudding? (I'm too mean to pay for both) And what would it be?

I have a sweet tooth so it would have to be a pudding. Eton Mess, Bread and Butter pudding or Banoffee Pie would do nicely, thank you. 

You may not like them (I know I don't) BUT if you had to go to a fancy dress party what would be your costume of choice and why?

I’ve never been to a fancy dress party, although Terry and I did dress up for a supposed ‘thirties night’ only to arrive and find everyone else in evening dress.  My sister and brother in law thought it was hilarious. Terry hired a 1930s style suit, and I scoured vintage markets and antique shops for shoes and a dress. I was also lucky enough to find an original necklace made from jet beads which I still have (something else gathering dust in a draw!)   I even went to the trouble of putting ‘finger waves’ in my hair, a style favoured by my mum when she was a young woman.  It ended up being a really fun evening, if a little embarrassing!

My sister and brother in law (left) Terry and I seeing the funny side (right) 

Superstitious? Care to share any of your superstitions with us?

Very!  I never walk under ladders, would not dream of putting my shoes on the table and always throw spilt salt over my shoulder – which just makes a mess, but it has to be done because you never know where the devil might be hiding!

Which person (or animal for that matter) would you most like to be able to impersonate?

I don’t want to impersonate anyone. I want to enjoy being me and then (hopefully) come back and do it all again as someone else! 

Presuming you didn't have an imaginary friend as a child which book character would you have liked as an imaginary friend?

I had lots of imaginary playmates, but I didn't give any of them names, or if I did I've forgotten.  My childhood was spent in the fields and woods around the farm where we lived. I was usually on my own, or with Peggy our dog hence imaginary friends were a big part of my life.

As you have worked so hard, a quick fire round. Tea or coffee? Sweet or savoury? Clean shaven or with a beard?

Clean shaven
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I would like to invite the following blogging friends to join in the tag. This is entirely optional and I completely understand if you don’t have the time or the inclination. 

Marilyn Chapman
Sandra at Sandra's blog
Darlene at Darlene Foster's Blog
Colleen at Appreciate Beauty
All at The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow

Anyone else who fancies having a bit of fun, please feel free to play along. You can leave your answers as a comment at the end of this post.

These are my questions to you. 

1.  What is your earliest memory?
2.  Where is your favourite place in the world and why?
3.  Do you have a favourite piece of clothing or footwear? What is it?
4.  If you write a blog what inspired you to start it?  If you don’t – why not?
5.  Favourite snack potato crisps, peanuts, sunflower seeds or something else? 
6.  Have you ever acted or sung on stage?  I was a daffodil in a school play once – hardly acting but just thought I would mention it!  Any other talents you care to mention?
7.  Have you or anyone in your family traced your ancestry? If so is there anyone famous or infamous in your line?
8.  Have you ever experience déjà vu?
9.  Do you sing in the shower or in the car or both?
10.Have you enjoyed participating in this tag? Be kind, I'm only asking!

Before I go, I should just mention the rules.
Thank the blogger for the award given.
Answer the ten questions set by me.
Nominate other blogging friends for the award.
Write ten questions for those bloggers to answer.
Display the award on your blog or in a post

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this and to those who play along.  If you don’t have a blog but would like to join in,  please leave your answers in the comment section below. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Postcards from France

Today I have the pleasure of sharing five postcards from my collection. They were all sent to the same address in France, one a year commencing 1950 and ending in 1954. I found the cards at a vintage fair in Blandford, Dorset in 2015. The images caught my attention and when the stall holder told me a story of unmarried girls, fancy hats and kissing between strangers, I found myself reaching for my purse. 

Returning home I quickly got down to some research (thank you Google). In essence, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, also known as Saint Catherine of the Wheel and The Great Martyr Saint Catherine is a Christian Saint and virgin. 

Vive La Sainte Catherine

Saint Catherine’s Day, is celebrated each year on the 25th November.  Catherine is the patron saint of libraries and librarians, as well as teachers, archivists, and all those associated with wisdom and teaching. Her qualities are reputed to be beauty, fearlessness, virginity, and intelligence.

All very straightforward until I turned to the Free Dictionary which suggests Catherine is a figure from folklore rather than history. It goes on to say her feast day is no longer observed in the Roman Catholic Church calendar. According to Wikipedia the Church, persuaded by the overwhelming opinion of historians that Catherine had probably never existed, removed her from the calendar of saints in 1969. However, in 2002, while the majority of historians had not changed their minds, the Church had, and she was reinstated.

Wikipedia goes on to say ... Saint Catherine of Alexandria was a popular figure in Catholic Iconography. She was of noble origins, and dedicated herself as a Christian after having a vision. She was imprisoned by the Roman Emperor Maximus and ordered to be put to death on a spiked wheel. The wheel reportedly shattered the moment Catherine touched it, which may explain why her name is associated with a firework that revolves as it burns.

But what of the stallholders tale of unmarried girls, fancy hats and a great deal of kissing between strangers. Still searching for answers I stumbled across a blog by the name of A Woman's Paris where it all began to make sense.  Saint Catherine’s Day is essentially a day when unmarried women over 25 years of age pray for a husband. The Catherinettes (as they are called), wear green and yellow hats made by friends or colleagues. The green represents wisdom and the yellow hope. The choice of colours is not accidental as it is said green and yellow do not “marry” well.

All I know for sure is the cards are very pretty, and I'm happy to have them in my collection.

But something else occurs to me - why no card in 1955 or in subsequent years? Maybe our Catherinette moved home, or perhaps she found her happy ever after... What do you think? 

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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Books from my Bookshelf - Tale of a One-Way Street and other Stories

In this collection of eight original stories, Joan Aiken takes us on a journey to a land where all the magical things that only seem to happen in dreams really happen. 

The stories are: Tale of a one-way street, The lions, Bridget's hat, The goodbye song, The queen of the moon, Clean sheets, The alarm cock (not clock!) and The tractor, the duck and the drum. The illustrations are all by Jan Pienkowski. 

Image above from THE ALARM COCK 

Once there was a shop with a sign over the door that said, VINE, WOLF, AND PARROTT, HELPERS. If you opened the door and went in, you saw the Vine right away, for it grew out of the floor and up the walls of the little shop, so the whole room was lined with leaves, and clusters of flowers hung from the ceiling.... A sign over the counter said, No fee unless satisfied.  Payment in kind Accepted. We help you with all your problems!


They saw a great forest of pipes, each pipe mended in a different way. They saw streams and fountains of letters and numbers sparkling in the purple rays of the sun, making hundreds and thousands of different words, giving the answers to any number of sums...

 Image from THE LIONS

At each corner of the little park, facing inwards so that they could see on another comfortably, crouched four stone lions. One had moss growing on his tail. One had a swallow's nest of straw built between his ears. One had a broken paw, where a boy had thrown a brick. And somebody had written I LOVE FRANK on the fourth lion ...

 Image from BRIDGET'S HAT

"Now," he said. "Pay careful attention. The diamond that fastens your right-hand boot is a very old and precious one; it is called the Eye of the Desert, and has the power to take you wherever you want to go, if you step out with your right foot first, and wish at the same time. Is that clear?

A second image from BRIDGET'S HAT


But one night, out of the depths of her worry, she dreamed a song, and the next day, when she woke up, she remembered the words of it, and the tune.  These were the words:

Road, river, mountain, sea,
Bring my boys safe to me
Earth, air sun, moon,
Bring my sons back soon
Luck, chance, wish, will
Keep them safe from all ill.

Black and white image from BRIDGET'S HAT


Tansy walked along the side of the field till she came to a little stream. She built a dam out of sticks and mud. Then she built an island out of stones, and put smaller stones and earth on top. Over the earth she laid green moss, and then she picked moon daisies and stuck them into the moss. They looked as if they were growing...


So Euan wrote to his Aunt Bertha:  Dere Ant Birthday I shd bee verry great full if u cd send mee a track tor I can ride on wat goes chug chug chug & a drum I can play on wat goes rub a dub dub & a duk to swim in my barf wat goes quak quak quak.

 Image from CLEAN SHEETS

So Gus had to go to bed, but he took the leaf with him. And lying in bed, holding the leaf scrunched up in his hand, he remembered floating down the Colorado river in a canoe past great golden cliffs. He remembered scoring the winning goal in an ice-hockey match. He remembered getting into the pilot's seat of a small aeroplane he had been given. Then he went to sleep ...

I’m so happy I stumbled across this beautifully illustrated book in a local charity shop.  I love the intense colours and the silhouettes by Jan Pienkowski, plus the stories are fun and imaginative.  This from the introduction:

What very strange creatures you are apt to meet if you dare to go the wrong way up a one-way street. What splendid things you can remember, even if they didn't happen (like the zebra you got for your birthday or all the doughnuts in the world which you ate without being sick), if you hold the leaf of a memory tree in the palm of your hand. What a peculiar muddle your presents can get into when your birthday cake is baked with a wishing spoon, and what magical rewards come your way if you save the king of grasshoppers from drowning in your porridge.  

Tale of a one-way street
Joan Aiken with pictures by Jan Pienkowski. 
Published by Jonathan Cape Ltd. 1978


I’m going to leave you with a funny story as told by our daughter in law Karen.  She is talking about her youngest daughter (our granddaughter) Lilly.  

... Lilly decided to help me with the washing ... after loading the washing machine I said ok now shut the door like you are really cross, meaning slam it shut … as she slammed the door she yelled "I am sick of this".   

Tada!!  Thank you Lilly ... please take a bow!

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Monday, 7 November 2016

Well would you look at that!

It took a while but finally the page views on my blog have surpassed the one million mark. I wondered if the counter would return to zero once it reached a million, but it is still clicking up …phew! I know some blogs get a million page views or more a day, but I didn’t expect to get any so it means the world to me. I also know page views are not the same as unique views, but I don’t care! Thank you lovely blog readers you are the best! 

My wish is a long time in coming to you ...

But the longer I waited the bigger it grew - and ...


THANK YOU!  Just like this little elephant I will never forget.  

* Colour printed birthday card part of my collection.  Published by Satchwell Smiths, London, c1950s.  One sheet of paper folded to create a card that ‘grows’. I’ve added quite a few vintage Christmas cards to my collection this year and will be sharing some of them in a future post.

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Friday, 4 November 2016

Light up the sky...

The excitement of Guy Fawkes Night is fast approaching, and once again I have mixed feelings. As a child, I loved bonfires and fireworks, but now I worry about the distress caused to wildlife and pets and the possible consequences for the environment. Naturally, none of that bothered me when I was little because I was busy having fun.

Brock's Fireworks

Back then there was ample space to build fires and plenty of things to burn.  Tree branches, old fertiliser sacks and worn-out tyres made for good fires, although the black acrid smoke had a way of leaving eyes stinging, and adult tempers frayed! Each year my brother, sister and I would begin with a small pile of rubbish and watch as the mound grew ever larger. Looking back I’m sure everyone in the village had a hand in it, although at the time I was convinced magic was afoot!  Living on a farm, we built our fires in open fields making them readily available to anyone with rubbish to burn.

Standard Fireworks
For me, the real excitement began with the arrival of the fireworks.  We usually had a large selection box with at least a few extra rockets and several packets of sparklers. When the night finally arrived, we made sure Peggy our dog and Kosset the cat were inside. Then it was time to don wellies, hats, coats, scarves and gloves all the while feeling the excitement building. Much pushing and shoving ensued as we put left feet into right boots and gloves on backwards, eventually, we would sort ourselves out and make a dash for the back door. In my memory, it was always really cold on bonfire night just as it was hot and dry in the summer. Can that be or is it my memory playing tricks?

Standard Fireworks

Once we were all warmly dressed it was time for the lighting of the bonfire, often helped by a can or two of petrol! Finally, the biscuit tins where the fireworks were kept would be opened, and dad would ‘light the blue touch paper and retire’.  Now the waiting … would it be a Rocket, a Roman candle, a Falling Rain or a Jumping Jack? Do you remember Jumping Jacks? They always had us running for cover, no wonder they are now banned.  

Standard Fireworks

The Catherine Wheels were sometimes a bit of a disappointment, either they whizzed off the nails and spluttered out in the damp grass, or they refused to turn at all.  Many were the times my dad or my brother approached a lit Catherine Wheel and tried to give it a push or even attempted to loosen the nail holding it to the fence. It’s a miracle they didn’t end up with burnt fingers or worse.


 All too soon the fireworks were over, and it was time to hunt the potatoes languishing in the embers of the fire. We did this by prodding at the fire with sticks while at the same time trying to ‘hook’ the potatoes sideways away from the heat. By now, they would be burnt black on the outside, but soft and flavoursome inside. At the end of the evening Dad would be left on 'fire duty' while the rest of us went inside for warm drinks. Then it was off to bed and the comfort of hot-water bottles to thaw out frozen toes.   

Pains Fireworks

When our son Steven was born, we once again built fires, watched Rockets and Falling Rain, held sparklers and ate baked potatoes. Only now the fires were smaller as befitting a housing estate and there was no petrol involved!  Spent sparklers were plunged into water to make sure they were properly out and potatoes were pre-baked in the oven and wrapped in foil.  A few years later, we were blessed with grandsons, and the rituals began again.  The boys are grown up now, and our two small granddaughters live in Australia.  Organised bonfires seem to be the order of the day. Some of our neighbours might have a few fireworks in their gardens, but I doubt any of them will light a bonfire.

Standard Fireworks

This coming bonfire night Terry and I will be at home reminiscing about times gone past. Whatever you do, enjoy it, stay safe and don’t burn your fingers on those hot potatoes!

Standard Fireworks

In childhood the daylight always fails too soon—except when there are going to be fireworks; and then the sun dawdles intolerably on the threshold like a tedious guest.~Jan Struther 

Do you have plans for November 5th, or memories of past Bonfire Nights? If you don’t celebrate Guy Fawkes Night are there any other occasions when you enjoy fireworks?  Maybe you don’t like fireworks? I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. 

All images courtesy of the

Photograph Twitter (@metoffice) Don't forget to check for sleeping hedgehogs before lighting your bonfire this Bonfire Night. 

Tracy from Pen and Paper left a comment with a link to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. I love hedgehogs and am happy to include the link here (you will find Tracy’s comment below should you wish to read it).
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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Trick or Treating in Australia

It's been a while since I shared any photographs of my granddaughters but fear not I have lots!! First a little trick or treating; 

Whoops! A little costume readjustment might be in order Zoe.

Ah, there you are my pretty!

Where there is one witch, there must be two... 
and here is Lilly right on cue...

Mix them up, add some more.
Hocus-pocus, now they are four (behind you!) 

Beware!! Enter at your own risk...

Hah! Zoe is more than a match for you … 

Phew I'm glad to be out of there, but wait for me these treats are getting heavy. 

I know there are some scary creatures in Oz, but Vampire Dogs are too much for me, run!

Enough of scary things … Obliviate!  (With thanks to Harry Potter!)  Now for a few pics of my granddaughters returned to their charming selves.

Just look at those sunnies

Miss Lilly ... Superstar

Miss Zoe... trying out a new hair style

and enjoying a giggle 

Lilly ballet rehearsal

Show time

The show must go on  

Thank you for visiting, I hope you enjoyed Halloween and happy November! 

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