Thursday, 27 December 2012

Today will be my Boxing day

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones.

While we’re on the subject, are you someone that sends all Christmas posting photos on FB of mountains and mountains of presents, then the rest of the time pics of you ‘enjoying yourself’.

Or are you too busy enjoying yourself?. Just a thought. Something that bugs me a little.

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I had Christmas day off, but yesterday (Boxing Day) I worked a late shift 2.30-10pm then I went straight on to do a sleep in, until 8.30 this morning. It was ok though, I chose to do the shift as I only do relief work and it was fun, I even wore my glitzy sparkly flats which put a smile on a few faces. We only had one incident where the fire alarms were set off by a tenant who swore blind she ‘only put the mince pie in the microwave for a few seconds’. Hmm. The thick fog in her flat & the exploded microwave told a different tale. No fire brigade was needed though, thank goodness.

So today, after I’ve had a bath and a little rest, today will be my Boxing Day.

I will be spending all day most of the day sat by the fire, reading and listening to my new Taylor Swift cd. Yes I said that. I love Taylor, as much as my 10yr old Niece does.

There will be food later at the in-laws. Think of me.

Did you have to work over Christmas? Do you mind?

Enjoy your day, and for those that do have to go back to work don’t feel bad about it, your Boxing Day was yesterday.

Thank you for all of your Christmas wishes, I will come on over sometime this week for a visit. But please don’t bring out any Christmas cake, I don’t like it. Mince pie maybe?

SmileX

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Winter Solstice

 

winter solstice

Twas the night before Yuletide and all through the glen
Not a creature was stirring, not a fox, not a hen.
A mantle of snow shone brightly that night
As it lay on the ground, reflecting moonlight.
The faeries were nestled all snug in their trees,
Unmindful of flurries and a chilly north breeze.
The elves and the gnomes were down in their burrows,
Sleeping like babes in their soft earthen furrows.
...When low! The earth moved with a thunderous quake,
Causing chairs to fall over and dishes to break.
The Little Folk scrambled to get on their feet
Then raced to the river where they usually meet.
“What happened?” they wondered, they questioned, they probed,
As they shivered in night clothes, some bare-armed, some robed.
“What caused the earth’s shudder? What caused her to shiver?”
They all spoke at once as they stood by the river.
Then what to their wondering eyes should appear
But a shining gold light in the shape of a sphere.
It blinked and it twinkled, it winked like an eye,
Then it flew straight up and was lost in the sky.
Before they could murmur, before they could bustle,
There emerged from the crowd, with a swish and a rustle,
A stately old crone with her hand on a cane,
Resplendent in green with a flowing white mane.
As she passed by them the old crone’s perfume,
Smelling of meadows and flowers abloom,
Made each of the fey folk think of the spring
When the earth wakes from slumber and the birds start to sing.
“My name is Gaia,” the old crone proclaimed
in a voice that at once was both wild and tamed,
“I’ve come to remind you, for you seem to forget,
that Yule is the time of re-birth, and yet…”
“I see no hearth fires, hear no music, no bells,
The air isn’t filled with rich fragrant smells
Of baking and roasting, and simmering stews,
Of cider that’s mulled or other hot brews.”
“There aren’t any children at play in the snow,
Or houses lit up by candles’ glow.
Have you forgotten, my children, the fun
Of celebrating the rebirth of the sun?”
She looked at the fey folk, her eyes going round,
As they shuffled their feet and stared at the ground.
Then she smiled the smile that brings light to the day,
“Come, my children,” she said, “Let’s play.”
They gathered the mistletoe, gathered the holly,
Threw off the drab and drew on the jolly.
They lit a big bonfire, and they danced and they sang.
They brought out the bells and clapped when they rang.
They strung lights on the trees, and bows, oh so merry,
In colors of cranberry, bayberry, cherry.
They built giant snowmen and adorned them with hats,
Then surrounded them with snow birds, and snow cats and bats.
Then just before dawn, at the end of their fest,
Before they went homeward to seek out their rest,
The fey folk they gathered ‘round their favorite oak tree
And welcomed the sun ‘neath the tree’s finery.
They were just reaching home when it suddenly came,
The gold light returned like an arrow-shot flame.
It lit on the tree top where they could see from afar
The golden-like sphere turned into a star.
The old crone just smiled at the beautiful sight,
“Happy Yuletide, my children,” she whispered. “Good night.”

SmileX

Friday, 14 December 2012

Spitfire Girl Book review No 27!

 

the spitfire girl

It is 1940 and Britain is at war with Germany. In London, eighteen-year-old Susan Banks longs to do her duty. Her secret ambition is to learn to fly - to serve her country and realise her dream. But she knows it is out of the question for a girl like her; a foundling, unwanted and unloved and dependent on strangers for her welfare.

Just as she fears she will be trapped forever in a life of servitude and loneliness, she meets Tony Richards, a flying instructor based in Hampshire. And when she is forced to flee London, she heads out into the country. She is taken in by the kindly landlord of the local inn and his daughter. As Susan works hard to earn her keep, and her friendship with Tony - now recalled to duty - blossoms into love, she dares to hope that things are at last looking up for her. But then she receives devastating news - Tony is missing in action. And Susan wonders if she'll ever see the man she loves again and realise her dream of becoming a Spitfire girl...

It’s come to my attention that I don’t read as many books of this genre as you would think. Given that myself & Mr D spend many summer weekends dressing up and displaying vehicles at old airfields, dancing to the music and generally being part of that scene. I think it's because I assume they will all be very much alike, you know, read one and you’ve read them all kind of thing..

My sister actually bought me this book last Christmas and it has sat on my shelf ever since.

I eventually, in my mission to read all my to-be-reads, picked it up and got on with it.

I liked it. I liked Susan, & her determination to make something of herself. I like the fact that reading this type of books you do learn little bits and pieces about the war time, & the jobs people did.  It’s a good way to take things in, especially remembering the boring history lessons at school. (where btw we learned really useful things like how Egyptians live…, how cavemen cooked their supper…and didn’t once read a book about either the first or second world wars. Always wondered about that.)

I wonder if I read another of Lily’s books it would be like reading Catherine Cookson, the same type of poor girl comes good but in a different era. Maybe. I wouldn’t mind finding out.

The book takes you from the streets of London, to the country side, to the RAF airfields where Susan dreams of flying a Spitfire.

There is of course romance, and of course as always I could have shouted at Susan more than once, but in a nice way.

Can you believe that in two weeks Christmas will be over!?

I’m going out tonight with Mr D & some friends for a Mexican meal. I may even wear my new shoes .

SmileX

SmileX

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

I put some New Shoes on, and suddenly every things right.

You might know how I am about shoes. Quite par.tic.u.lar.

I don’t often buy new shoes but when I do It’s always because I can’t not buy them.

I was actually looking for some Christmassy sparkly shoes when I stumbled across these.

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So excited when I saw they were half price. Because really they weren’t what I was searching for. I didn’t need any like this. Until I saw them that is.

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I kind of love them.

And in case you were wondering what ever happened to the sparkly shoes I was looking for?

Well I found them as well.

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I am you could say, in shoe heaven.

Appropriate song of the day. Even though it’s Wednesday.

The week just got better.

SmileX

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The day a virtual friendship became a reality

 

I first ‘met’ Ann-Margaret through a bloggy birthday mail club I took part in. This was a couple of years ago, the Birthday club I don’t think exists any more, I jumped ship after about a year for reasons I may talk about one day, but the good thing which came out of that was the virtual friend I found in Ann-Margaret.

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(photo stolen from The lady herself)

Like many bloggers, I have lots of Virtual friends. Some I write to, some I just have a little postcard swap with every now and again, and some I just ‘speak’ to through the blog world.

All are great, but different.

After reading Ann-Margaret's story on her web page, I just knew that we could be friends, even though we live across the pond from each other.

So imagine how excited I was when I received the message that this girl would be visiting London for a few days due to her hubbies work. Do you think anything was going to stop me from getting on the bus and making the 3 hour trip? Not on your nellie.

I had a slight conundrum of where we should go. I did feel a certain amount of pressure. Where to take a Tea loving American on their first ever trip to London?

I decided there was only one place for it.

Fortnum and Mason. For those of you not in the know… a bit of background…

Fortnum and Mason is recognised internationally for its high quality goods and as an iconic British symbol.

Founded as a grocery store, Fortnum's reputation was built on supplying quality food, and saw rapid growth throughout the Victorian era. Though Fortnum's developed into a department store, it continues to focus on stocking a variety of exotic, speciality and also 'basic' provisions.

Fortnum & Mason is famed for its loose-leaf tea and its world-renowned luxury picnic hampers, which the store first distributed to Victorian High Society for events such as the Henley Regatta and Ascot Races. These hampers – which contain luxury items such as Stilton cheese, champagne, Quails eggs and smoked salmon – remain popular today, especially at Christmas time and can cost (as of 2008) anything from £35 up to £25,000.

So enough of the history lesson, what you really want to know is, was Ann-Margaret as she seems on her blog? Did we even get on? Were there any awkward silences where we didn’t know what to say? What did we talk about!?

It was a dull drizzly day, I’ve never travelled to London on my own before but I decided that I am a grown up. Time to do it.

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We met at The London Eye, (when I turned around and saw her I just remember thinking, she is Teeny! And so bloody Beautiful!) but there was no dragging my friend on as she had already told me before hand she would hate it! We walked up The Mall (of course we passed up tea with Queenie that day as we had reservations at Fortnum’s…)

I seem to remember we met at about 11.30am. The next time I looked at the clock it was about 4.30pm & we had been sat at our table in Fortnum’s Tea Parlour for hours. Literally. Hours.

I tried lemon curd spread on a scone for the very first time. (yum) I heard tales of Ann-Margaret’s tea room, her home & family, including her cute little westie Tucker, (who has his very own Face book page Tuesdays with Tucker & you should definitely go over and read his antics) her art, how it annoys the hell out of her when people shorten her name (oh thank the lord I had the social grace to ask first!).

Afternoon Tea Fortnum & Mason

We admired the china, people watched, (wondered why on earth anyone spending that amount of money on afternoon tea would choose to do so accompanied by a screaming baby!?) compared cameras, took lots of photos of everything, (haha oh how predictable bloggers are).

I have to admit here I was taken aback at how much we had in common, although I was very excited to meet her, I never expected to feel so close as we did in those hours sat at that table, gossiping like we met like this every other week, about our blogs, our friends, our lives,  and when the black cab pulled up to us to take her back to her hubbie, I was more than a little sad that our time had ended for now.

Ann-Margeret and Claire Fortnum & Mason

I have to give credit for the photos to Ann-Margaret. Without whom I would be photo less as I seem to have misplaced all of the pics I took in the black whole of my computer. Never happened with good old 35mm.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
C.S. Lewis

SmileX

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Book Review No. 26. Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe!

 

christmas at the cupcake cafe

Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn't be happier. Her new business is thriving and she is surrounded by close friends, even if her cupcake colleagues Pearl and Caroline don't seem quite as upbeat about the upcoming season of snow and merriment. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe - with its increased demand for her delectable creations - begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.

This December, Issy will have to rely on all her reserves of courage, good nature and cinnamon, to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, one way or another . . .

I bought this book in Hard back. I know. It’s usually against my religion to buy  a hard back book, but in my defence, I had some amazon e vouchers to use, and I really really wanted to read this, the second novel from Jenny Colgan about the wonderful Issy and her Cupcake cafe.

Read the review I wrote on the first book, Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe here.

This is the first sequel Jenny has written, & I loved it. At the beginning of the book Jenny has helpfully written a bit about each of the characters, to remind people like me, and so that you don’t actually have to have read the first book to enjoy this one.

I have a total weakness for Christmas themed books at this time of year. Some don’t live up to all the cover promises, but this isn’t one of them.

Lots of Christmas cheer, present buying & wrapping, oh and my other favourite thing in books….NYC!

You will soon be sitting having coffee with the characters, rooting for them in their private lives (or occasionally sighing & feeling like giving them a clip round the ear…or is that just me!?)

The other thing you should know about this book is that, like the first one, Jenny gives us lovely recipes in each chapter, which could be annoying for some people, but not me..although I wonder if I will ever make any of them, they are lovely to read sitting next to the wood burner.

If you’re looking for a book to cosy up with, you’ve found it right here.

SmileX

Sunday, 2 December 2012

December, oh how I’ve missed you

The second window of my advent calendar is open.
How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?… (Dr Seuss)
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My Christmas shopping is all done (but not wrapped…for some reason I don’t like to wrap too early..) Apart from one person, & that will soon be sorted.
I’ve worked extra hard this November, so December can be much more relaxed.
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I haven’t got my decorations up yet, but I have had a bit of a clear out of them and am giving some old ones to charity.
"It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!"... Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"… (Dr Seuss)
Love December…my plans…
Mulled wine by the wood burner
Pink wellies with cosy welly socks inside
Knitted hats and scarves
Lazy Blogging days with regular hot chocolate breaks
Writing Christmas mail
Oh, and look, the Christmas Apples are out of the de-contamination zone. So they will be smoke free to come into the house (Granny made one each for sis mum & me but they can’t come in until the Smokey smell leaves them).
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I wish I could sew as well as Granny.
Hope December is wonderful for you all!
SmileX
 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Late Night Thoughts

I'm really happy with my new whisk of the electrical kind.
I made this cake
 
 
Which I took to the charity shop I've been volunteering in.
I love volunteering in the shop. Today I did the window display in a 'party' theme.
It was like playing dolly dress up but with big dummies instead of those paper dolls.
I'm knackered and I haven't seen enough of Mr D this week.
I'm happy though, and I know he will still be there when the long shifts are over.
I've nearly finished my Christmas shopping.
It's 1 am and I should be in bed but I had to watch Strictly and the Young Apprentice on Iplayer
I love Iplayer. I think I am the only person in the universe not to have sky plus (or a HD TV) so iplayer is my saviour.
Our TV is the one Mr D bought when he was 18. He is now 40+. I would rather eat sawdust than buy a 42inch flat screen.
Night Night.
:)X
 
 
 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Rainy day activities of the modern & vintage variety

It’s raining. I have the day off.

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I’ve been dreaming of a Roberts Radio for the dining room, now that this is the most used room in the house with the new wood burner. You know the ones that are all cute and candy coloured?

Yesterday I was given (for a very reasonable price) a vintage one.

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Oh how in love am I.

I haven't stopped listening to it. 

And check out the colour. Not candy. Not exactly cute. But perfect for adventures in our home on wheels.

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Whilst listening to my new radio, I will be testing out my new whisk. I have never owned an electric whisk, all my cake making has been of  the manual kind. I know.

Last week I swapped my Tesco club card vouchers for this.

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Welcome to the modern world Mrs D.

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I wonder if it will make a difference to the cake mix?

Do you whisk by hand?

SmileX

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Class. (A grown up Mallory Towers). Book review No 25!

I seem to have a bit of a back log of books to review at the moment, I seem to have gone through a bit of a dry spell in the middle of this year with books that took forever to read, but lately I’ve read quite a few good ones. And you know when they are good you read them quickly.

So beast I stop waffling and get on then.

class

It's about love lives ...Maggie has been dating Stan for years - safe, comfortable and about as exciting as soggy toast. Can their relationship survive? Especially when Maggie meets David McDonald, her opposite number at the boys boarding school over the hill. Every single girl in the school has a crush on him, but not Maggie ...yet. It's about school lives ...Two girls. Same form. Simone Kardashian has won a scholarship and is determined to make her parents proud. Fliss Prosser is furious at being so far from home and her friends. As Simone tries desperately to fit in, Fliss tries desperately to get out. It's about private lives ...Veronica Deveral knows how to manage a school. Routine and discipline are fundamental to her role. But Veronica has a secret that could ruin her career.

Anyone remember reading the boarding school books when they were young? I was addicted to Mallory Towers, St Clares, I wanted to go to boarding school & play hockey, & have midnight feasts.

Well this book is the grown up version. You never really got to know the teachers in those books, it was all about the new girl, the swot, & the popular (aka bitch). You never knew the teachers had private lives.

Class is the story of the new teacher at Downey House, who escapes her boring safe life to do something unexpected. Who would have thought while reading those St Clare’s books that the teachers have love lives!?

This book has all the characters you would expect to find in a boarding school, the New Girl, the Popular one, the French Teacher (Mademoiselle). It’s a must read for all who loved those stories as a young reader.

This book was printed in 2008, so has been around for a while. I bought it from a charity shop I can’t remember when and it has sat on my shelves for a while gathering dust. I’m so glad i eventually picked it up.

There is apparently a follow up book called Rules, which I will definitely look out for!

SmileX

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

I think I would like it to snow now. Charlie agrees.

 

snow!

If you look reeeeeally closely at these pictures you can make out Charlie. My sisters doggie who came to live with them last year. He likes the snow almost as much as I do.

The weather has been quite mild for November here, although we had torrential rain yesterday, it really isn’t as cold as my wood burner would like it to be.

charlie in the snow

 I know a lot of people don’t like the snow.

I’m not one of them.

Neither is Charlie.

SmileX

Friday, 9 November 2012

Reliving our Youth

 

imagesCAV1RI9V

As teenagers Mr D & I were fans of Simple Minds. To be honest I didn’t like them at first, Mr D introduced me to them & I really wasn’t into that kind of music. I was in love with John Taylor after all.

But they grew on me, and after seeing them live at the old Wembley Stadium, I was sold.

This was the late 80’s early 90’s when I looked like this..

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I had a bit of a hair cut in those days…

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Any way, for Mr D’s Christmas present this year I have bought him time machine tickets. Which will take us back to the good old days, when we see these boys again on tour.

When I told Mr D I got the tickets (just..they were some of the last left!) Phew! He dug out the CD’s and we listened to them. Loud.

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They don’t look like that anymore….but then neither do we!

We have to wait until May 2013 though which is criminal really.

Who were you listening to in the early 90’s?

SmileX

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Vintage Teacup Club Book Review No. 24..(oh & 23)

Before we begin, please go over to my other blog to find the missing review. No. 23 is a book review which isn't strictly of a book. Confused? Well hop on over and all will become clear..

the vintage tea cup club

At a car boot sale in Sussex, three very different women meet and fall for the same vintage tea set. They decide to share it - and form a friendship that changes their lives . . .

Jenny can't wait to marry Dan. Then, after years of silence, she hears from the woman who could shatter her dreams.

Maggie has put her broken heart behind her and is gearing up for the biggest event of her career - until she's forced to confront the past once more.

Alison seems to have it all: married to her childhood sweetheart, with two gorgeous daughters. But as tensions mount, she is pushed to breaking point.

Dealing with friendship and families, relationships and careers, highs and lows, The Vintage Teacup Club is heart-warming storytelling at its very best.

This book  is a confirmed case of judging-a-book-by-it’s-cover. Which I admit I am guilty of more than once in a blue moon. I don’t care what anyone says. If the cover doesn't jump out and grab me by the neck then sorry, I am not buying. No matter how many prizes it’s won.

So anyone who knows me at all would say that this book could have been written for and/or by me.

It has everything in it which I love. Pretty tea cups. Vintage weddings (& Alice in Wonderland themed too…could it be any more cliché?)

Three girls decide that instead of tearing each others limbs off in order to buy the perfect tea set at the boot sale (which I may or may not have been tempted to do…) they will take the civilised route & take turns.

One to use at her own wedding, one to use at a wedding she is planning, and lastly they will become tea cup candles for a small business.

This is a debut novel, and oh my, if Vanessa Greene’s future novels are anything like this you can safely assume I will be a fan.

A wonderfully easy engaging novel about new friendships, (oh and tea cups) the characters could be my friends any day of the week. 

Really. Go get it. Have a cuppa (vintage china purleeease) sit by the fire…and read.

SmileX

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Lately…Autumn edition

I found all these photos on my phone so I thought I’d share them.

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This Autumn…

I’ve had some lovely walks out with my borrowed waggy tailed friend.

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We’ve explored the new stretch of prom and sea defences. (& remembered my teenage self ‘hanging out’ here on these stones. Acting all cool.

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We’ve scrunched through the fallen leaves, & had some quite lovely skies.

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Our last weekend camp was by the river, just four of us, with a big fire to keep us warm.

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Boys are always happy bonding over fire building.

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There has been some gatherings at friends houses for music and merriment,

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Steve the cat decided the box was in his sun spot…

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I have the day off today, I can’t wait to tell you all about tea with my lovely blogger friend, (I’m waiting for her photos to appear as I don’t have the one of the two of us together)

Now I have some catching up to do with my mail, treasure to sort for a fair on Saturday, oh and there's that kettle whistling…

Hope you’ve all had a lovely Autumn so far!

SmileX