Sunday, 8 November 2015

Self Care Sunday #BEDN

Was inspired to finish this skein of yarn! 

I have spent this weekend feeling blessed! Got to spend some precious time with #1 son on his visit from uni. He didn't even bring washing home 😊 
I have spoken on the phone three times to #2 son up at AFC Harrogate, hearing all about his attempts at swimming and his new skills of rabbit skinning. 
I attended the Remembrance Service at our village war memorial. Sobering and very emotional for me especially this year. 

One of the giant wall art pieces at Harrogate. 

And this afternoon I spent some time with a lovely friend at a spinning and weaving workshop. Picked up some tips, refined my technique and loved being creative in such good company. 
It's been a weekend of counting my blessings and being thankful. 
How have you spent your weekend? 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Unusual Hobbies - #BEDN Day Seven

Great start to the Blogging Challenge – I have missed two days already! In fairness I have had a busy couple of days and now #1 son has come to visit from University so I am enjoying his company for a few precious hours!

I am sad that I missed the ‘Firework’ prompt. I thought long and hard about how I had no interesting (read ‘in focus’) firework pictures. Instead I had a post all planned out about Guy Fawkes and how pictures of his pre and post torture signatures had inspired my rather gruesome interest in mediaeval torture instruments. Now, don’t get me wrong – I wasn't interested in a weird way, more a horrified fascination... I realise now I am digging a hole so maybe I should move on to a different prompt!

Before and After - Image from Google Images

Today’s is ‘Unusual Hobbies’ (which could include the above?) Hmm – I have lots of hobbies. In fact I drive my family to distraction by my short attention span when it comes to trying new things. In fairness I like to dabble and will, more often than not, come back to something when it once again takes my fancy. I did try asking them what they considered to be my most unusual hobby and these were the answers I got:

Who could not love a face like this? Most of my family apparently...

  • ·         Taxidermy – I have quite a collection and have had a go at a few things myself. I also have a few specimens in the freezer which is always good for a laugh when my daughter is trying to find the fish fingers! (joke) 
  • ·         Spinning wool – I have been trying to teach myself to spin yarn on a wheel. I'm not great but it’s quite therapeutic. The problem is I am not very good at knitting.
  • ·         Collecting Ugly Cats – My Mum used to collect Crested China and had a beautiful display case full of it. I never quite got into it in the same way but did discover that there are a number of quite startling cats produced so I limited my collection to these lovely creatures. I have to keep them in my room though as no one else seems to appreciate their happy faces!
  • ·         Bee Keeping – possibly not that unusual but it is usually a talking point when people find out.


Well I guess this post will have either intrigued or scared people – I think I might be a bit worried to ask which!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Food Glorious Food - #BEDN Day Three

Ok so I know this doesn't strictly show food but I was on a picnic and this was my Ribena bottle, honest!

I thought I might go for a more retro theme for today’s prompt, some things I remember about food and my childhood.

As a child of the Seventies, the vast majority of meals were home cooked from scratch. One meal my Mum used to make was what we christened ‘Fishy Eggy Cheesy Thing’, white fish with hard boiled eggs covered in cheese sauce and served with rice. I have made it for my own children and they lovingly christened it ‘Fishy Eggy Manky Thing’. Guess it wasn’t a favourite!

 We rarely had take-aways and so I remember these being a huge treat. Usually Chinese and usually undertaken with ‘skilful’ use of chopsticks!

As we lived close to the Primary School, my brothers and I would walk home for lunch – sandwiches or spaghetti hoops and toast, scoffed down whilst watching ‘Tickle on the Tum’ or ‘Let’s Pretend’. If there was a school trip coming up then we would get a special packed lunch with the ultimate treat of a Mr Kipling Apple Pie. I still love these as they bring back such happy memories (even though I know how full of fake stuff they are).

We had a fabulous newsagents up the street, Mr and Mrs Horne displayed a proper range of sweets, all in the jars with the little paper bags. You could get a pretty full bag for 10p (gosh I feel old now) and my favourites included Black Jacks, Hubba Bubba and those very un-PC chocolate cigarettes. If I could stretch my pocket money to a whole packet then I would choose Spangles and Pacers. Visits to my Nandad always included a trip to his local shop in Frieth for sweets too. They had some great chocolate mice :)

I don’t remember having fizzy drinks that often – I do remember the excitement of getting the special Christmas order form from our village milkman where you could order such delights as Cream Soda and Dandelion and Burdock, to be hidden away until the big day. There was often a sugar mouse in our stockings for Christmas, a tradition I keep up with my own children. I do remember one year getting a sugar pig which was quite large. I sat and ate most of it whilst watching an On The Buses special and felt very ill indeed.

It’s quite amazing the memories that thinking about food has brought back – I wonder what things my kids will think back on and remember?

PS if any of you three are reading this, don’t even mention my burnt jacket potatoes thank you!

Monday, 2 November 2015

'I Don't Mind Mondays' #BEDN Day Two

Monday, Monday, Monday – Can I be controversial and say that, as a rule, I don’t mind Mondays. Yes, it means the end to the weekend and a few days of following a more rigid routine. Early mornings (5.15am anyone?) and the daily chore of deciding what my stomach might fancy for lunch when it really doesn't want to be thinking that far ahead.

But, Monday also means a new start, new challenges and new opportunities. I am lucky that most of the time I love my job, I work with some fab people and get to do some quite un-mundane things! 

Mondays also give me the opportunity to begin my day and my new week with some journaling and using one of my sets of cards to pull out a thought or guide or helpful tip to meditate upon for the week ahead. I do try to journal most mornings over my cup of tea but Mondays somehow seem important to set the tone for the coming days.

Now if I’d been more organised I would have sorted out an arty shot this morning to accompany this piece. But I wasn’t, so I haven’t and so you’ll have to make do with an old shot!

 I have looked ahead to the prompt for tomorrow though – oh dear, it’s food related and it’s a miracle if anything I cook looks edible let alone photogenic. Maybe a trip to a beautiful shop window is in order?

Sunday, 1 November 2015

A Blogging Challenge Day One

After my return to Blogville yesterday I also spent some time catching up with other blogs that I follow. In a mad, crazy, creative moment I decided to sign up for the ‘Blog Every Day in November’ challenge from Rosalilium #BEDN. Now I am not promising to blog every day (though I will try) but I thought that having prompts would inspire me and give me some new ideas. It might even give my blog a bit of direction!

So, the first prompt is ‘Something New About Yourself’ and I thought oh bugger. The 3 people that read my blog already know me and I try to keep my crazy hidden from everyone else! But, hey, new people might happen along and it’s a chance to reinvent myself :) (it also showed how woefully out of date my ‘About Me’ page was!)

So, who am I? Directionally challenged, easily distracted, random collector, history lover, occasional cusser, underdog supporter, in-my-dreams yogini, creative crafter, book slut (I’ll read anything!), painfully introverted, mother of 3, wife, sister, daughter.

I love Reiki, Autumn and taxidermy. I don’t love crowds, rude people or peppers.

I’ve often wondered what it must be like to do something totally mad and follow your dreams – but then I’ve also dreamed about what it would be like to build a time machine and travel back to Elizabethan times with a Polaroid camera (probably I’d get burnt for sorcery).

Mostly I live an ordinary life, work, home, The Walking Dead and just sometimes I let the quirky out. I am constantly learning new things about myself - sometimes they even surprise me (I had no idea I knew all the words to 'What's New Pussycat'!).

If this hasn’t frightened you off yet then welcome! Looking forward to the challenge and discovering some new friends through the power of blogging!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Today I am choosing to be happy!

Oh my goodness so much has changed in my life since my last post (which was about 100 years ago, I know!)

There have been some fairly major upheavals at work which are now beginning to settle down. I am looking forward to getting properly stuck into my new role as Programme Manager, lots to do and lots to learn!

Combine this with the fact I have also ‘lost’ two children over the last 2 months, one to University and one to begin his Army training and maybe you can see where this is going....

The uncertainty at work, and the huge changes at home have had a big knock-on effect on my life. Creativity has been at an all time low – I have not Instagrammed, blogged or taken many pictures at all. Crafting has been relegated to bottom of my list of priorities and I have even struggled to keep up a regular yoga practice (and don’t even ask about the gym!!!) The allotment and garden have probably seen their least attention in ages which has rightly resulted in rubbish crops. In fact, confession time, I have spent most evenings not doing an awful lot, watching mindless crap on the TV and feeling a bit sorry for myself... This in turn has been making me feel guilty and therefore even worse about my lack of enthusiasm.

But – slobbing on the sofa is no way to spend all your time and I am ready to embrace the spirit of the season and start afresh, out with the old and in with the new.
I have lots of new projects planned, have booked a couple of craft fair stalls to give me a goal and am due to go to a couple of crafty workshops to hopefully inspire and enthuse me. I am also trying hard to recognise and respect when I need a bit of quiet time, things are all about balance and time to be reflective and introspective are important too, especially for me.

I am not making rash promises of blog updates every week and masses of creativity happening  – but I am going to promise to do one thing each day which makes me happy. It might be posting a picture or spending an extra 10 minutes with my journal. It may be doing a few yoga asanas before bed or spending a few moments breathing and being thankful. 

What are you doing today which makes you happy?

Monday, 27 July 2015

Where I Am Right Now...

Right – I am jumping back into the blogging with an old favourite, my prompt post!
Stuff that I am doing right now on a couple of precious days off work!

Making: Some fruit smoothies with my Nutribullet. I will be more healthy and avoid chocolate!

Cooking: I have plans to create some home cooked real food while I am off work – my cookbooks are overflowing with ideas. We will probably end up eating pizza or fish and chips.

Drinking: At this time of the day?

Reading: Around the house I currently have about 7 books on the go. Bedtime reading is ‘Dark Lover’ the biography of Rudolph Valentino, in the living room I have ‘Why Can’t I Meditate’ and in the kitchen pile is ‘Eat, Nourish, Glow’ Just a few.....

Wanting: More days off work so I can get on with the millions of ideas and plans whizzing in my head at the moment.

Looking: At the grey skies outside the door and, although I love rain, wishing it was just a teenier bit more sunny.

Playing: George Formby – gotta love George!

Wasting: Valuable housework time trying to be creative and finally blogging!

Sewing: I have a summer top all ready to sew but I am thinking it might not get done in time for this summer now....

Wishing: I was back at the mini yoga retreat I did this weekend – such a treat to spend time doing something I love with supportive people.

Enjoying: Some time with my boys – September will see some huge changes with both boys heading off and leaving home for different reasons. Now I am treasuring each moment they are here (and trying to to blissfully ignore the annoying boy stuff that they do)

Waiting: For my massage appointment this afternoon – I think it might help the residual pain I’ve been having following my osteopath treatment for back problems.

Liking: Some new vintage treasures that have arrived in the house, china, games, more things to find a permanent home for.....

Wondering: If it will rain for both of my days off or will it now wait until our holiday in Cornwall in a few weeks and then unleash full holiday weather. As usual!

Loving: The new reindeer hide which we have finally decided should go on the bed.

Hoping: My yoga and mindful state of mind will continue...

Marvelling: At how long my computer takes to do anything and how I haven’t mindfully thrown it through the window.

Needing: Pay day to come along just a little more quickly this month.

Smelling: Penhaligons Hammam Bouquet

Wearing: Lazy clothes – and now thinking what I should wear for the massage... oh the worry!

Following: Not sure now the Tour de France has finished. Will have to totally rethink my evenings L

Noticing: How fresh everything smells after the rain – see, looking for the positives..

Knowing: These two days will fly past and I will not do half the stuff I want to do. But that I need to appreciate some slower time and things that don’t get done will just have to wait.

Thinking: Trying not to..... being present in the moment!

Feeling: Mostly chilled and relaxed and quite happy.

Bookmarking: Yoga stuff and mindful stuff and things that inspire me.

Opening: Actually trying to resist opening another book until I have finished the ones I have started.

Giggling: At the weather – no point being too upset by it. At least I won’t have to water the garden. Again....

Well – that’s where I’m at right now....

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Onwards and Upwards...

Bluebells - good for the spirit!

Well – it’s been a pretty difficult few weeks here. Don’t really want to go into much detail but to top everything we lost our beautiful cat Hincapie. He has left a hole a mile wide in our lives, he was the noisiest, most demanding cat I think I have ever met but the house is so very quiet without him :(

Mr Noisy 

I thought long and hard about this post and how I don’t want my blog to appear a whole picture of rainbows and unicorns. We all have shit happen in our lives and it would be a false picture to paint otherwise. However, I have sat back and given it some thought and I have also had some fabulous things happen in amongst the crap and as I am a (mostly) optimistic and glass most defiantly half full kind of girl I thought I would concentrate on the joy and loveliness and not the rubbish and sadness. (reading back this sentence I saw that spell check had changed ‘definately’ into ‘defiantly’ and hell, I’m not going to change it back!!)

The bluebells have been out in the woods both locally and at work. I have spent a lovely couple of evenings out with friends walking and enjoying them and making up for being so damn antisocial lately. I am also grateful that friends have supported me feeling a bit rubbish and not my usual self at all (sorry to you all for that!)

Beautiful friends in beautiful surroundings! Counting my blessings.

I have had dinner out with other friends that I have not seen for a long time. One of them is now winging her way to California for 5 years and I am so glad that we caught up before she left. Lots of reminiscing and laughs!

More laughs with friends!

DH and I celebrated 23 whole years of being stuck with each other. We spent a day touring Salisbury where we saw the Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral, had a meal out and then went to see Old Wardour Castle to get at least a little value from our underused English Heritage memberships...

The reflections in the font water were stunning.

My favourite find - historical graffiti!

Usually I get to do the bunny ears.

How I feel sometimes!

We have been cracking on with the garden and allotment – not managing to quite keep up with the weeds and growth of grass but putting up a brave fight.

Mostly I have decided that being positive is a good thing and that I have a great deal to still be grateful for, no matter how things might sometimes appear otherwise!

Looking for the good things....

Normal service will be resumed shortly :)

Thursday, 9 April 2015


Looking out at Boscastle
I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself just recently – I don’t often get ill but I’ve been suffering from a chest infection and accompanying cough and general lethargy. ‘Luckily’ it coincided with the Easter break and so my precious few days off work were spent trying hard to feel human and not too grumpy.


Anyway, to cheer myself up I sorted out some bits and pieces at home including some of my vast collection of camera equipment. During the tidy I found a couple of unexposed 120 films. How exciting! I still love the thrill of sending off film, not knowing what will come back – and this was even more exciting as I had no idea what was even on the film!


DS#1 looking cool at the beach

The negs and CD came back in super quick time and it transpired they were from holidays in 2013 and 2014… The rolls of film had been used in my Diana camera and then stashed safely. The Diana is a fun piece of kit is based on the 1960’s super low quality box camera. The poor plastic construction is part of the appeal as the resulting light leakage and soft focus effects give some interesting results. It uses 120 film which gives large sized square negatives and prints which several firms are now able to develop. It’s not a super cheap hobby but it is fun!


Not my most flattering shot but I just love the colours


Here are some of the better results – some of the shots were so ‘effected’ that you couldn’t really tell what they were of. It has rekindled my desire to get out there and take some more and to make sure I get the films sent straight off this time instead of sitting around for years…..

These two pics were taken at Sidmouth when I did my yoga retreat. Happy memories!

DS#2 being mean and moody (and small)

Monday, 9 March 2015

Fashion on the Ration

CC41 clothing was not all drab and frumpy.

Last Wednesday I got the huge honour of representing PrettyNostalgic magazine at the press launch of the new ‘Fashion on the Ration’ exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London. And I must just say a huge thank you to Nicole from PN for allowing some of us this amazing opportunity.

‘Fashion on the Ration’ is all about the role of fashion during WW2, how people coped with change in their lives, rationing and how fashion played an important part in the morale of the country. The exhibition includes not only some wonderful examples of clothing but also accessories, art, photographs and interviews. You can listen to the clipped tones of Oliver Lyttelton, President of the Board of Trade, as he announced the introduction of clothes rationing on 1st June 1941. It apparently came as a huge shock to most people.

Some more examples of the beautiful clothing on display.

Highlights of the display for me included a range of scarves, many of them by Jacqmar, which included bright colours and patriotic messages – a way for women to show their support for the War effort through their everyday clothing.

Two examples from the scarves - this one features propaganda cartoons by Fougasse.

I was particularly interested in the section entitled ‘Functional Fashion’. This had some examples of luminous black out buttons and brooches and the most stylish Siren Suit, to be worn in the air raid shelters. It even had a discreet flap at the bottom for comfort breaks!

Personal appearance was an important weapon in the fight!

Gas mask handbags and luminous buttons.

I want this Siren Suit!
 This section also touched on the vast numbers of women who found themselves working in the factories (by mid war 1:3 factory workers were women). They had to combine looking presentable with safety considerations, hence the popularity of the turban style hat and headscarves.

Workers getting ready for their shift.

My Nan worked in a torpedo factory in Bournemouth so this had a particularly personal appeal to me. Many of the women continued to wear their civilian clothing beneath their overalls and I always remember my Nan saying how she wouldn't go anywhere without her lipstick – a habit she carried on with throughout her life.

My Nan during the War.

As I was looking around the museum, I heard one lady say to another “The war wasn't all about killing people you know, it was about living” and this exhibition definitely captured that – how people carried on living, demonstrating inventiveness and adaptability under extraordinary circumstances. Fashion clearly played an important role in all of this.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

A Victorian Mystery.....

Miss Bella Pateman

It all started when I decided to face the horror of clearing out the space under our stairs! Dubbed ‘the computer room’ it was actually a hidey hole of hell. I rolled up my sleeves and dragged everything out to sort and tidy. Whilst in there I discovered a box of photographs and bits from my Nan’s house. I have dabbled with Family History over the years and absolutely love old photos so this was a double treasure to unearth.

In amongst the photos was an old newspaper cutting with a handwritten message across it. The cutting was the obituary of an old actress called Bella Pateman and the handwritten note was by someone who clearly knew her personally – here was a mystery. Who was Bella and was there a connection to my family?

Finding Bella the actress proved fairly simple – she was a Victorian actress who saw fame both here and in America in the late 1800’s. She was married to another famous actor of the day, Robert Pateman. But I wanted to know more and here is where the story got a little more difficult.

I have access to the Ancestry site and so following up births, marriages and deaths and other useful Census info is usually a time consuming but fruitful job. This one proved otherwise! It seems that Bella and her pre marriage records suffered from a catalogue of alternative spellings and without the magic marriage certificate (which I cannot locate anywhere so far) I cannot be certain I have the right family – but playing along with hunches and some matched details this is what I have so far....

Bella was born in 1846 to Caroline and Robert in Reading. She appears in the 1851 census in Chatham Street as Isabel Radborn living with her parents and siblings. Mr Radborn was an engine cleaner and supported his wife and four children, William, Thomas, Jemima and little Isabel.

By 1861 Mr Radborn had passed away leaving his widow (now documented as Radbowin) with two teenage girls. Jemima is now listed as a 17 year old comedian and Isabel is 15.

I could now link to facts from her professional career, she met and married Robert Pateman in 1869. Robert hailed from Ireland and so far I cannot locate any further information on him. Later that year the newly married Pateman’s set sail for New York. They remained in America touring some of the major theatres for the next few years, returning to the UK in 1876. There are tantalising clues as to the plays they appeared in and some of the famous people of the age that they mixed with. These included their friend Edwin Booth, actor and brother to the notorious John Wilkes Booth who assassinated Lincoln.

Robert Pateman - Google Image

By 1881 the Pateman’s were living in Hammersmith and it was here in 1886 they had a daughter, Isabel Roberta ‘Robbie’ Pateman. They continued living in Hammersmith and then Barnes while taking a number of prominent roles on the London stage. Bella is listed at the Adelphi amongst other places. She carried on as a significant actress until 1902, her last role being that of Lady Ridgeley at the St James’s. Bella died at her home in Barnes on 30th January 1908 at the age of 64. Robbie followed her in 1910 at the young age of 24. Robert continued acting, travelling to the USA for further roles before he, too, passed away in 1924 at the age of 83 leaving the not inconsiderable sum of £11000 to his nephew and another acquaintance.

My Ebay find!

There is still much I do not know. The link between Bella and my family is intriguing. I do have connections to the Reading area and so I assume this is where it might be – but until I can prove Bella’s early details I cannot go further here. An interesting aside, while I was searching for links to Bella I found a signed photograph of her for sale on Ebay. It came as a pair with a signed photo of Hermann Vezin, a well-known American actor of the same period whom Bella had acted with at the Adelphi in a production of ‘Amy Robsart’. Of course I had to buy them! I will continue the search in the hopes that new details come to light and the mystery is finally solved.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Loafing Around

Ok so it was a bit heavy - I could have injured someone with it!

Oh my goodness, I have been doing so many things just recently and blogging has taken a bit of a back seat I’m afraid. And now, sitting down at the computer at last I’m not sure which exciting adventure to share first  :)

So, I’ll leap in with my sourdough and save the rest for other posts....

My friend Helen and I decided we were ‘of an age’ and took the leap in joining a local WI group to see what it was all about. Forget all the stereotypes you might have heard, the WI are experiencing a bit of a revival and many of the groups are seeing huge increases in numbers. This is great news, especially as the WI are celebrating their centenary this year. The group we chose to try out call themselves the ‘Folly Dollies’, they are a really friendly bunch and host an interesting range of talks and events . The night we went a lady was there talking about Sourdough Bread – if I’m being honest this one didn't strike me as the most interesting but it was in actual fact a really good evening! Judith (bread lady extraordinaire) spoke about the history of sourdough, some of the benefits and then talked through the process of making it. Clearly she couldn't show us the whole thing in one evening but we saw a range of highlights from the starter bubbling away to a batch proving (rising) to the finished product ready to try. It was delicious! 

Once home, I read up on sourdough and decided to treat myself to one of Judith’s starter kits so I could have a go myself. It duly arrived looking beautiful and slightly scary. I had to transfer the starter from a zip lock bag into a jar and then feed it regularly with flour and water to get it to grow. Judith had sent three different starters so I labelled them carefully and spent the next week tending my jar babies and watching as the amount of starter grew and grew and grew – a bit like a scene from the magic porridge pot I was half expecting the mixture to take over the whole kitchen! DH was a bit worried I was becoming obsessed when he caught me feeding my babies at 5.30am :)

The kit arrived looking very exciting!

 This weekend I had set aside time to actually make the bread – a lengthy procedure involving kneading (lots of) and rising (lots and lots of) and then baking.

I discovered it's quite hard to take a photograph of yourself kneading bread.

Arise Sir Oxfordshire Starter - clearly I didn't arise for long enough. Note the clever labelling system which fell off at every given opportunity :(

I won’t bore you with all the details but I really enjoyed the whole process  - I was a bit worried the kneading would be hard work and a bit ‘mysterious’ (how do you know when it’s done?) but it was actually really therapeutic and mindful. I was too impatient with the proving bit – the first rise was very successful but I was in a hurry to get it into the oven and I don’t think I left it long enough and so my resulting loaves were a bit dense but vaguely edible. Still, it’s a learning curve and I can’t wait to have another go!