Friday 30 November 2018

Hat, or No Hat?


I have quite a few of the things.   Woolly ones, straw ones, big ones and small ones, felt ones and faux fur ones.     Many of them hang in a row on the pegs in the Boot Room.   I look at them, occasionally try one on, then put it back on the rack.   Occasionally I put one into my coat pocket, just in case and if the weather is really cold I will even put one on my head before I go out to walk the dog.

However, unless it is freezing cold, or absolutely tipping down with rain, sleet, or snow, I whip the hat off at the earliest possible moment.         Nothing wrong with the hats, they look neat and presentable, but I dislike having my head cocooned in warmth.

The joy of being able to snatch my hat off, then feel the wind blowing my hair around (slight exaggeration, my hair is fairly short) almost makes it worth the trouble of putting the hat on in the first place.

How about you?   Are you a hat wearer?

This photograph has absolutely nothing to do with hats.   It is one of my favourite walks though, always done on a day when wearing a hat is not necessary.

Thursday 29 November 2018

After the Rayburn

All the dire warnings and predictions about how much we would miss the Rayburn have proved to be largely wrong, thank goodness.        I do miss it as a handy place to stand and warm my back, while waiting for the kettle to boil, but we are finding that the new double-ended wood burner is doing exactly what we hoped it would do.

As you can see from the photograph, a hole was knocked through a kitchen wall and into the sun room.     Dire warnings about how cold and draughty it would all become have proven to be unfounded, we have had some bitterly cold days/nights, wild, wet and windy days and the stove has kept us warm and snug.   It also makes the animals happy.    They have two firesides to choose from so they can be sociable, or not.

The piece of string isn't normally there but I am drying out some apple slices for a little project.  Similarly the brown paper bags are in the hearth because I have pomanders and orange peel drying out, as you do.

The blue saucepan contains spices and water, at this time of year I always used to have a pot of them quietly simmering on the Rayburn - they really scent the house beautifully.   The fan just wafts the heat around a little.

When it gets really cold the gas central heating gets flicked on, to heat the other areas of the house.  So far it all seems to be working as we hoped it would.     Needless to say, the cats enjoy being able to take a shortcut through the hole in the wall.

The log basket is one which I have had since the early 1980's and it is still going strong.    It is enormous, the pine cones are very large and not for burning, I just thought they added a bit of texture to the photograph.

As for the cooking side of things, well it all still looks pretty much as it did when the Rayburn was there.   I intend to change the tiles at the back of the cooker, but other than that everything remains pretty much the same. 

I enjoyed cooking on the Rayburn, particularly on the hotplate, but the oven was always a little unpredictable.  I am saying nothing about the mess and the soot, I have covered that in full, in far too many posts.

The new cooker is a real pleasure to use.     Quick to heat up, predictable and steady heat in the electric ovens, instant heat on the gas hob.   

I am happy.    The mess, hard work and expense was worth it.     (Thank you, Sue, you said it would be fine, and it is.)  Life has become a little easier.

The wind is still blowing hard, branches have been falling in Owl Wood.   I don't mind branches falling, much safer than falling trees.   There will be plenty of kindling waiting to be collected when the weather improves.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Tales from the Green Valley

The wind is howling and heavy rain is falling.     Luckily, the log burner is blasting out cheerful warmth and the two cats, plus Toby, are all basking in the heat.

There is nothing on the television which really appeals to me right now so I have dug out an old favourite from sometime around 2006 - Tales from the Green Valley, link below.

It is a series of twelve half hour documentaries about life on a 17th century farm on the Welsh border.   It follows a group of people as they try to recreate life as it was lived back then, one month at a time.   

Episode 4 is the Christmas one, but they are all very good. 

Sunday 25 November 2018

Handbags, Cake & The Fickle Finger of Fate

These beautiful handbags are made from paper and card, beautiful gift bags, each one with a gift card and envelope inside. 

Perfect for the bazaar, and quickly snapped up.   

Someone else donated some delicious home made fudge.  People are so kind, these little gestures really help pad things out and sweeten the mix of things on offer.

The giant tombola stall is always popular, even though prizes ranged from toilet cleaner right the way up to champagne.

This beautiful cake was made by Miss Read's son and was then iced and decorated by Miss Read herself.  She raffles one each year.   I don't know how many years she has been doing it, but I do know that her raffle ticket sales add greatly to the final total; the cakes are as delicious inside as they look beautiful on the outside.

This was the main raffle stall, directly inside the entrance doors, the chilliest position in the hall.  It was run by 'The local Squire's' wife.

The two ladies who are buying their tickets are born and bred village residents.   They are always wonderfully supportive and appreciative, and very sweet, to boot.

Each year they shop until they drop, then they sit down and enjoy a pot of tea and some hefty slices of home-baked cake, chatting away until it is time for the raffles to be drawn.

I had a stall with a bran tub at one end, the Rudolph game at the other, angels and fairies in between,  including the raffle for the three fairies, though one has now grown pixie ears, so it was for two fairies and a pixie.

The hall was filled to the brim at times, even though only a small percentage of the local people turned out.     Angel and fairy sales went well, so did the bran tub - and the Rudolph game ensured that the hall was filled with the sound of laughter.     Participants and spectators all got the giggles. 

Miss Read kept forgetting about filling out raffle stubs and had much more fun watching the children play with Rudolph!

When things finally quietened down,  the main raffle was drawn.   These days we don't have dozens of small prizes, we tend to go for making up hampers and stockings.   This year there was a 'male' stocking, a 'female' one, a mystery wrapped hamper and the main prize was an enormous Christmas hamper.

It was filled to the brim with delicious eats, treats, drinks, crackers, toys, chocolates, a beautiful plant...

While the draw was taking place I turned my attention to the fairy raffle - checked the envelope with the winning fairy name against the entry sheet and saw to my horror that my granddaughter had written her name in the winning square for her £1 entry...without insider information, or access to the answer.

Hey ho!

Meanwhile, the large hamper prize was being drawn - " and the main hamper goes to XXX"...XXX being my granddaughter!

I decided that emergency action was required, after all I could easily make three special fairies for her....     Fortunately,  attention was then turned to the cake raffle.

I grabbed a pair of scissors and got snipping all the squares of fairy names and put them into a paper bag. 

The beautiful cake was won by the landlord of the local Tavern.   Then it was my fairy raffle.

I held the paper bag out for someone to draw the winning name..   Remember the photograph of the two women buying their raffle tickets?  I was delighted to see that the one in the blue coat had won the fairies!

She was thrilled, had the most enormous smile on her face and said that she wanted to give the three fairies to the little girl she had been standing next to when she purchased her ticket, because the little girl had really wanted to win, and had been telling her all about the fairies as she carefully printed out her name in her best handwriting, she is six years old.   

You guessed it, the little girl was my granddaughter!

Those fairies were destined to be hers and I shouldn't have tried to divert them, except that by doing so I made an elderly woman very happy, too. 

Friday 23 November 2018

Madcap Ideas

At 8.45 am this morning, my daughter rang from school (she is a teacher) she was in full panic mode because there was to be a  meeting about the school's forthcoming Festive Fair, she needed a quick idea for a stall...just like that!

I was reluctant to suggest that she do crafts, because I knew who would have ended up making everything for the stall and I just don't have the spare time.   Instead, I suggested that she go for a game - how about Pin the Nose on Rudolph?

Then I was left in peace to make a cup of tea.   By 9 am my brain had kicked in and I was whizzing around, poking around in my cupboards, looking up on shelves, trying to see how I could make a quick version of the game to help pad out a corner of the village hall tomorrow.

This is what I ended up with.   I found a large unpainted canvas, quickly dashed off something approximating a friendly Rudolph, all the while wondering about how the game could be played.   Velcro, red felt, and dried peas came to my assistance.

I was quite pleased with the result and the good thing is that my daughter can then use it at her school fair in a week or two.

This afternoon a small handful of us gathered in the very cold village hall and set up tables, cloths, chairs, the Christmas tree, etc ready for tomorrow.       Everything is set and the hall is looking much jollier than it normally does on a dank November afternoon.

Everyone had a go with the Rudolph game, judging by the giggles and poor shots this afternoon,  I think it should go down well with any children who may come along.   Fingers crossed, anyway.

I will answer the comments from yesterday, probably the day after tomorrow, when things quieten down.   Meanwhile, thank you for reading and for all your comments.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, whatever you are doing.

Thursday 22 November 2018

A Broken Promise

I visited almost every house in the village today. 

I was doing a leaflet drop, reminding people of all the wonderful things which will be on offer in the village hall this weekend.   

Renewed my respect for postmen, that's for sure.   Letterboxes are so often hidden away around corners,  half hidden by greenery, some are mid-level on doors, while others are almost down on the ground, horizontal ones, tiny, old-fashioned vertical ones, some are sealed up completely.    Many  have those bristle draught-excluders, only trouble is they make it so difficult to actually get anything through the slot.

Some people go for completely separate boxes, and they present their own difficulties - some flaps push in, others have to be lifted, and that is after you have solved the problem of locating them.  Some are on gate posts, while others may be on the house wall, or on the ground, others on a wall.

Trying to find the correct gate to approach through was another problem, not all letterboxes are on the front door, but you only discover that when you have made your approach and searched in vain. 

I had taken Toby with me, I wasn't sure how he would cope, but he was a star, behaved impeccably, even when he came face-to-face with a strange cat, he just completely ignored it, just as he ignored all the snapping yapping dogs at the doors.     He slept like a log afterwards, worn out by the experience.

I had to smile when I saw that one letterbox had a big notice proclaiming 'No Junk Mail' and 'No Cold Callers' - a bitterly cold wind was blowing and I was very cold, but I decided to risk it and posted the notice anyway.

Yesterday morning I read Henny Penny's post about saying farewell to her mother's beautiful antique table and chairs and replacing them with a more modern and slightly smaller set.  While I was out doing the reminder notes, I noticed that one driveway that had the sad remains of a very nice table and chair set standing out in the wet and damp, waiting to be taken away to the tip, or perhaps waiting to be chopped up.

I cared for my elderly aunt after she was widowed.  As she grew older she was very sweet to my offspring and their children, delivery men, meter readers, trademen, etc., but became quite a tartar towards me.   (She spoke to me as though I were her slave, there only to serve or to clean and wasn't at all averse to poking me with her walking stick occasionally.)   I gritted my teeth and tried to put it down to dementia, after all, she was well into her 90's. 

One recurring theme was that I was to inherit her table and if I didn't look after it she would come back to haunt me.    Rather than upset her, I agreed.

Time passed.   I got the table.    It was a nice enough table, 1950's/60's dark veneered wood, but that wasn't the point.    We already have a table, one made to my husband's specification, and  have no room in our down-sized house for another one.   

No one else in the family would entertain the idea of taking it.    I have lots of her other things, some out on display, because they remind me of when she was younger - she was a wonderful aunt.   However, the table just didn't fit into our home or our life.   It had to go.     Her threat to come back and haunt me made me pause for a week or two, then I decided to risk it. 

Her table went.

I am glad to say that she broke her promise too.

Monday 19 November 2018

Mid November in a Small English Village

Walks, crafting, foraging, chatting and the many small things which make up much of my life.

I have spent most of this week making, and attaching, angel wings for the pipe cleaner angels, fairies and pixies, as well as those for the everyday angels made from wooden clothes pins, with the occasional zip around a few blogs, reading more than commenting.   Then, after five minutes off for good behaviour, my inner taskmaster had me back to work with needles and thread, glue, wire, crowns and embellishments.

These three dolls are what I will be using as a separate fundraiser at the bazaar - a simple game, like choosing a name from a list, £1 a go to win all three fairies.      So if you have any suggestions suitable names (or a better game) which I can use for my pick list they will be gratefully received. 

I have brain freeze on pretty names and games  at the moment.   It has to be something simple and fun to winkle a few extra pounds out of those pockets - all for the good causes, not for putting into my pocket!!

I still get out and about with Toby, of course.   He's not into fairies or pixies, so our usual quota of fresh air and exercise has been maintained.   Most of our walks are along farm tracks and the old railway line.

Sometimes we cut through the village on our way home. 

The autumnal display is almost over and it is so windy today that I think most of the remaining leaves will be leaving the trees before long.   There have been cold dank days, but there have also been some gloriously perfect autumnal days with early frost, blue skies and lots of wonderful sunshine.

Nature has been at work.    I had stopped to take the photograph when I was suddenly anointed, bird poo, splat on my head! 

I decided not to take the route back through the village, we stuck to fields and tracks.   I had a large reddish brown patch of 'luck' sitting on the front of my white hair.  Guess what the first thing I did when I got home was - a clue, it wasn't 'buy a lottery ticket'!

I attended the monthly meeting in the little village hall - just six of us this month.   We made final arrangements for the bazaar, viewed and chatted about some wonderful old snippets and photographs of local history which a friend had brought along,  nibbled cake and drank tea.   The final half an hour was spent in a sing-song.  Oh joy!

Where could I  hide?   The cups and plates had already been washed and dried.   I had to join in.   We all joined in and made a terrible noise... only one person could hold a tune and it wasn't me.

However, we actually enjoyed ourselves.   We let loose on the old songs and had fun.   Unfortunately that means more punishment next month - Christmas Carols.   I wonder whether I dare secretly record a snippet or two...

More beautiful walks, this is the very edge of the ancient woodland.   It was also library van week and I came away with a dozen books, my arms were much longer by the time I had carted them all home.

I squeezed in a bit of crafting with the grandchildren, here we are making some special firelighters, I really dislike the smell of commercial ones.   I saw this idea in a magazine.      I have no idea whether they work, but I thought we would give it a go because they are simple to make and visually pleasing.

Last year I did some candle-making with the grandchildren, so I had the wax and wicks, but you could use melted tealights, stub ends of candles, etc.     I gathered some small pine cones from a local woodland, a few hawthorn berries and rosehips, a few sprigs of Christmas tree trimmings (a lucky find on one of my walks - a farmer had felled a few Christmas trees and there were some sprigs left behind) some cinnamon and cloves plus paper cases.

The spices went into the bottom of the case, then the wick to the side, followed by the wax chips, we worked as a team, one spooned cinnamon, the other counted cloves, and I placed the wick.    We put them into a fairly low oven, keeping a careful eye on them until the wax had melted, then the real fun began. 

Pine cones, berries and snippets of green pine.   The children loved it.   So did I.  They cooled very quickly and look fabulous.

Needless to say, the housework is suffering, there are simply not enough hours in the day, and my day begins very early, 5am.    It has to, otherwise I can't fit in a peaceful hour before getting breakfast organised for the grandchildren who come over for an hour before school.     We have them for two hours after school.    By 9pm I am struggling to stay awake, so that has become bedtime, although these darker evenings make me think of sleep by 6pm!

My own cocoon from the world, maybe.  Just because I like cosy and homely, won't talk politics on my blog, or your blog, does not mean that I am blinkered. 

Blogs only reflect those bits we are willing to share.   😐

ps Please don't forget those suggestions for fairy names, or very simple games for the bazaar.x

Sunday 11 November 2018

Growing Old

No matter how much I want to pretend otherwise, I am definitely getting older.  I have had to deal with greying hair since my mid-teens, so my white hair really doesn't bother me.   Wrinkles are another thing, but a face-lift or Botox are not something I would ever consider doing, so I guess the wrinkles are here to stay, I accept it.    The aches and pains are not fun, but I do my best to keep my body mobile and my brain active.   In my head I am at least a couple of decades younger.   I am happy with the self-deception, most of the time.

Then along comes an invitation to have my free 'over 65's health check', another to have my free 'over 65's flu jab', closely followed by an invitation to a free Christmas Dinner at the local pub.    Great in the frugality stakes, no help with self-deception.

Yes, my first old age pensioner's free Christmas dinner! 
Can I really be THAT old? 
Yes, Elaine, you are, be thankful. 

These men didn't have the chance to grow old, they died fighting for their country.

I pulled out their photographs because my grandchildren have been asking a lot of questions about the war.   I wanted them to have some faces and names to think about during the two minutes silence.  No doubt every family has photographs like this.  I am just grateful that my father wrote the names, dates and stories on the back of the photographs - all bar the mystery man (top right) yet he was in the family photograph box.

Top Left: My paternal grandfather's brother, killed in action Dec 15th 1915
Top Right: Details lost in the mists of time
My uncle's older brother, killed in action 21 July 1944
Bottom Left: My paternal grandmother's three older brothers(fishermen from Yarmouth)
serving as stokers, all killed when their boat HMS Aboukir was torpedoed and sunk by U-9
in the 1914-18 war.
My daughter, grandchildren and I went into the market town of Louth, for the Remembrance Parade. 
My husband normally marches along with some old comrades and presents the wreath on behalf of the Royal Marines.     This year it was especially important, his two old friends died within a few weeks of one another, and he wanted to honour them, too.

The area around the town's Cenotaph was busy, packed out, even before we arrived, busier than I have ever seen it.

Young and old alike had made the effort to turn out, despite the early rain.

The two minutes silence was unbroken, apart from a few babies crying,and  a dog barking.    When it was over, everything became hustle and bustle, the marchers were off and on their way to the church.

A few years ago there used to be any number of ex service men attending.

These days  most of the parade is made up of assorted cadets, scouts, guides, brownies, town officials, police service, fire service, etc.       I was unable to get a photograph, but it was good to see that three horses had been brought to the Cenotaph, to represent all those horses who also served.

Tonight church bells will ring out across the country, not sure whether we will hear them here, but I will certainly be outside listening.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

In the Attic Today

My nose is still firmly to the grindstone, hence the lack of posts, visits, and comments.     Sorry!  Too few hours in a day, especially with running 'breakfast and teatime clubs' for two of my grandchildren, five days a week.

I am enjoying myself, but I will be glad when my self-allotted task has been completed, the dolls sold, and my free time becomes my own.

I had to go into our nearest market town today, for a free flu jab.   It was a production line all very efficient.   The clinic was held in the Corn Exchange.      To reach it, I had to drive down West Street and turn into the Market Place car park.   Not so many decades ago, cattle used to be walked along this road, on their way to the cattle market, now a Co-op supermarket.

Alford is a small town, a bit run down and shabby around the edges, but I like it.   It has small shops, family butchers, newsagents, craft shops, newsagents, bakeries, supermarkets - small, a few charity shops, hotels, pubs, takeaways, a fish and chip shop, fruit and vegetable shop, a pottery, the windmill for flour and grain, and an infrequently opened library, doctors surgeries, solicitors, a dentist, plus tea shops and cafes, of course.

Best of all, in my husband's opinion, is the Handyman DIY Shop. 

The red brick building to the right is the Corn Exchange, where the flu jab clinic was held.   Arrows directed victims to go round the building to the back, passing this

attractive cake shop.   I wonder how many people are seduced by the call of 'freshly' baked goods - delivered in a large van...

I entered the back door of the Corn Exchange and found myself faced by three receptionists each armed with a printout of names and a highlighter pen.   

"Name please."

"Elaine xxxx."

"Read this, then take off your coat and roll up your sleeve.  Catherine will see to you."

Immediately behind the receptionist, Catherine waited with her pile of vaccination syringes, plasters, etc.    No chair.   A quick hello, an even quicker jab, a slight pause because my arm bled a little, then slap on the plaster and move along.

I was in and out of the door in less than five minutes!

I did a (very) little housework, and then got back to work in the fairy factory.

There are glitzy ones, homely ones, and these pixie ones.    I have a few more to finish off, then they can go into the box, along with the assorted peg dollies, a range of Japanese dolls, the little nutcracker dolls, snowmen and a couple of reindeer.      Around eighty items.   That should be plenty, to raise funds for the hall and the church in the next village along.

I need to stop working on these soon because I have lots of crafts I want to make with my grandchildren before Christmas.

Then I plan to go into hibernation.