Friday, May 31, 2013

Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel

The entry stone at Newgrange, Ireland. Newgrange is a Celtic temple, built in approximately 3200 B.C.
Image from Wikipedia

I am in the mood to make at the moment. I've got a sewing basket sitting on the living room floor brimming with 'to do' and 'to finish' projects, a knitting basket with the beginnings of shawl in it, made from the lovely wool I found when we were in Beechworth and I bought a gorgeous piece of what I think may be Liberty Lawn fabric at the op shop yesterday which I hope will be just big enough for me to make a tunic top from - if I can master my fear of my sewing machine.

There are so many little projects on the go, in fact, that I don't know where to start and if I don't make a concerted effort, I'll end up doing nothing, with a bad case of option paralysis!

I am also obsessed with spirals right now and I am trying to incorporate this current fascination into a few new bits and bobs for my Etsy shop. If you want to get spiraling too, I would highly recommend any of Aidan Meehan's books on Celtic spirals. Fabulous.  

I'll keep you posted on my various crafting doings.

Have fun, friends x

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Winter Warmers

Taking my cue from Sefarina's lovely Blog Windleben (, here are a couple of my suggestions for cheering and sustaining you during dreary and bleak weather (two degrees this morning...!)

1. Find something to please the eye - and sit it on the windowsill

After seeing some lovely photos of glass collections online, I have just started to collect coloured glass. I have amber glass in the living room on the windowsill and blue glass in the bedroom. It looks so crisp and pretty with the white winter light coming through it, and makes the bleak weather outside the window a little less dull!

2. Bake - preferably something sweet!

I have recently borrowed Jane Brocket's Vintage Cakes (do you know her blog Yarnstorm? - from our great local library. Happy Days! Easy recipes that really turn out well and, as an added bonus, the house becomes nice and warm from the oven and everything ends up smelling delicious! I highly recommend the Parkin Cake and the Genoa...mmmm...

3. Listen to some good music

Music can change how I feel in a moment. I have recently re-discovered Backworld and their mellow sound is just perfect for the quiet, cool days right now...

Friday, May 24, 2013

An Excellent Woman

Image of Barbara Pym and one of her beloved cats from  

I am very excited to learn just now that there is to be a Barbara Pym Reading Week online from June 1st to 8th. It is timed to commemorate one hundred years since her birth. As you may already know, Barbara Pym is my favourite author, without doubt or peer. I absolutely love her keenly observed novels in which very little appears to happen...but that's precisely Miss Pym's genius, in my view. In fact, everything is happening. If, on some distant day in the future, my own efforts with fiction writing were to be compared with Barbara Pym's - well, suffice it to say (with Pymmesque understatement), I would be very, very happy.

Have you heard of Barbara Pym? If so, do you like her books (I know I am preaching to at least one convert...librarygirl)? My favourites would be Excellent Women, A Glass of Blessings and An Unsuitable Attachment. Her letters and diaries are wonderful too.

If you would like to read more about Barbara Pym Reading Week, take a look at

And to wrap up the week, I couldn't resist posting a clip from The Two Ronnies. They were a tv staple in our house in the 70s and 80s and as much as I complained about them then (like any teenager worth their salt), I now realise they were in fact very, very funny.

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sprechen Sie Denglisch?

Lovely vintage German poster at

I have been trying to learn German for many years now, on and off. Primarily it has been for the purposes of the research work I have done but I have to confess, I don't think I am really a natural when it comes to learning languages. I learnt French for six years while I was at high school and that was something of a battle. I did pass my final year French exams though and, as my husband reminds me, I was able to book our accommodation in Paris over the phone from London. But suffice it to say, the UN will not be beating my door down any time soon for my services as a simultaneous translator!

So it has been with German. But that hasn't stopped me from snapping up vintage 'Learn German' textbooks every time I spot them in the op-shop. Today yielded A First German, Teach Yourself German and Teach Yourself More German. What I especially loved about them was this, on the back of Teach Yourself German -

Anyone who follows this course conscientiously should be able to read, write and speak the German language with some measure of success.

First printed in 1938, that sentence has a nice tone of understanding to it, don't you think? Read this and you'll probably be able to manage. Perhaps it's just me, but I find that most reassuring. Maybe there's hope for me yet!

Do you speak any other languages?

Another lovely one at

Monday, May 20, 2013


Well, I have to say we did have quite a big weekend of telly here, and this is saying something, because usually it's pretty dismal and I try to avoid switching it on!

Doctor Who wrapped up the season to spectacular effect last night (for someone entranced by the idea of time travel, my little head nearly exploded!), Call the Midwife concluded beautifully (the scene with the crocheted rug had me in tears) and I managed to watch not one night of Eurovision (Friday - Semi-Finals 1), not two nights of Eurovision (Saturday - Semi-Finals 2) but three nights of Eurovision (last night was the Finals).

I thought a lot of the songs were really quite good, which I haven't felt in the last couple of years. Of course, there was your usual quota of Eurovision dross but the winning song (Emmelie de Forest from Denmark singing "Only Teardrops") was very good and a clear winner, Italy was lovely (Marco Mengoni singing "L'Essenziale") and I enjoyed Iceland's entry (Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson singing "Ég Á Líf") too.

My absolute favourite, though, was Anouk from the Netherlands singing "Birds". Beautiful, but perhaps just a bit too melancholy to win Eurovision!

What was your favourite song? And have you been watching Dr Who or Call the Midwife

Friday, May 17, 2013

PS I love it

Quite a while I ago, I mentioned how much I love to receive postcards and in fact how much I love postcards in general (I have boxes of vintage ones). Well, lately, I have been receiving some beautiful stamps. I bought some Moomin stuff from Etsy and I was as pleased as punch to see Moominpappa on the envelope when it made its way all the way from Finland.

I love the penguin's rather dubious expression on this English stamp...

And this whimsical one from Hong Kong is so sweetly entitled 'my rabbit and i'...

And if you can't rely on the Japanese for gorgeous stationery, well, who can you rely on?

Have a lovely weekend, friends.

PS Don't forget to watch Eurovision!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Winter is here

Image from flickr

Winter is upon us. It has poured with rain today, there is a biting wind, the house is dark and grey clouds are scudding busily across the sky.

As always though, I have lots of lovely indoors things to keep me busy, not least of all taking a little break from the epic that is A Game of Thrones and indulging in a bit of girly vintage reading. I think I may have mentioned Carol Ann Pearce before. I read (and loved) We're in the Sixth a while ago and I've also rediscovered St Kelvern's Launches Out (the sequel) on my shelves. Lots of cosy fireside chats over tea and crumpets. Just my speed.

Being the very sensible gels that I'm sure the St Kelvern's quartet were, I'm certain that a little bit of bad weather wouldn't have put them off getting outside for some good, bracing fresh air...

But it does put me off!!

So, my question is, what do you do to keep a little bit physically active in the colder months?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bug Watch

One thing about keeping chickens is that you do find yourself on bug-watch duty now and then. I just couldn't leave this lovely little guy within pecking range so I brought him inside, off the back steps (where Gladys, Joyce and Jean love to hangout), to have a little respite in a dried flower arrangement while our team of feathered marauders found amusements elsewhere.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mini-Break to Beechworth

Mount Buffalo - We had lunch next to this lake, on the lower levels of the mountain

A few weeks ago, we took a little break in Beechworth, which is about three hours north-east of Melbourne. It was one of the most important towns in Victoria during the Gold Rush of the nineteenth century and there is still lots of lovely architectural evidence of those heydays to see around the town.

As well as partaking of those time-honoured mini-break traditions of eating too much, going to museums and spending too much time in little boutiquey shops, we also spent a lovely day walking on nearby Mount Buffalo. As you can see, we were blessed with beautiful weather.

Happy Days!

Big skies over Mount Buffalo

The view from the lookout nearest to the Mount Buffalo Chalet

Wildflowers in marshlands as we made our way down the mountain

On another day - the view at Woolshed Falls, literally five minutes from Beechworth

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Winter is coming

I have been a fan of Game of Thrones since I started watching the mini-series (we are now eagerly awaiting season 3) but only recently I have started the first book in the five-part series that the tv show was taken from. So good. One of those books that truly takes you right into the scene that you're reading.

What book has done that for you?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Winter Colours

As winter begins to move amongst us, I like to brighten up the house with flowers. Luckily, I have a very sweet husband who brings home a lovely bunch quite regularly! The last two weeks have seen orchids and tulips, both with a crisp, cool beauty - I think - befitting the season.

The bathroom offers the best light...

...but the combination of purple tulips and our green walls in the living room was too much to resist!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Op Shop Find of the Week

Op-shop find of the week was undoubtedly this gorgeous Hornsea teapot. I have been collecting Hornsea in a very casual way for a little while now but this one has absolutely cemented my love for their big 70s patterns. Amazingly, I got it for only $5 and it looks as though it has hardly been used. It instantly made me think it should sit on the kitchen table in Jo, Chrissy and Robin's flat in Man about the House...