Monday, 31 October 2011

Blessed Samhain

After the greasepaint and malarkey of Saturday evening, I'm spending Samhain in quiet reflection. The house is quiet, the children are out doing their respective things, and I'm happy that they're happy doing just that. 

Our home smells of cinnamon and orange and nutmeg, which emanates from the cider mulling gently on the stove.  I chose to take today as my last day's holiday from work and Mr B and I have enjoyed a few precious hours out and about together with my parents; delighting in the beauty of the dying landscape, sampling a free (and most delicious) Crispin apple from the apple barns, browsing in garden centres and drinking coffee.  Those simplest of pleasures in which I delight all the more because my days are spent endlessly behind a grey desk in a grey office.  Simple pleasures such as these lift my spirit and let the colour back in.

We'd left a hearty beef stew bubbling away in the slow cooker; its welcoming scent enticing us back into the warm fug of the kitchen when we returned home.  We'd bought some fresh crusty bread from the farm shop and this alongside a bowl of stew was both warming and comforting.  

Now the candles are lit and I'm happy just to be; thinking with fondness of my beloved Nan who passed some years ago but who is with me always.  I'm eternally grateful for what I now have - a home full of love and contentment.  That may sound twee to those who take it for granted.  After 20 odd years of turmoil, it's all I have ever wanted and I celebrate the fact every single day.

I'm in hibernation mode.  An early Winter virus is laying me very low right now and I crave calm cosiness and quiet whilst my body fights off the lurgy. 

Blessed Samhain to you all and a Happy New Year.  May the gentleness of the season cleanse your spirit and and bring you peace.

I found this image on Photobucket - I can't say it any better really!

Blesses Samhain

Sunday, 30 October 2011

"This is Halloween...This is Halloween"

... well nearly anyway.

Some pics from our little pre-Halloween soiree.   I adore this time of year so it was a very good excuse for me to do some spookifying!!!

I love the trees so much tho I can see them staying a while longer!!!

This is a very photo heavy post I'm afraid.

Buffet!!  - the gingham basket is awaiting jacket potatoes to go with the huge vats of beef stew and chicken curry which had been bubbling away all day.

Freaky Face Cup-Cakes - My son and I had fun decorating these!

A cauldron full of popcorn - you can never have too much!

Spooky Trees!

Chris (My daughter's bf!) and my daughter (aka Jack and Sally!), and my not so little any more, boy!

My loony best mate!

Devilish Dad


Bless em - they worked SO hard on their home made costumes - I think they looked fabulous!

Me and my man - gorgeous even with gangrenous skin and scabs!!
HTH went on his holidays for the evening as we knew he'd get ridiculously over excited with so many people around.  It was nice to have the cats roaming around without a care.  Cassie joined in with the festivities1

It's lovely having people around but it's also lovely when the house is clean, tidy and quiet too.  We worked so hard yesterday that today has been declared a day of hibernation.  We're snuggled in the house; HTH is back, Charl is planning a bakeathon (that's if he makes it into the kitchen as he's looking decidedly heavy eyed at the moment!) and me.... well I'm going to partake of a glass of left over mulled cider and an afternoon of blog tangling.

Have a relaxing afternoon xx

Monday, 24 October 2011

Random Monday

How was your weekend?

We had a relatively busy one.  Food shopping on Saturday, followed by the dreaded "putting it all away" when we got home.  I hate that job!!   We had a Chinese meal out on Saturday evening to celebrate a family birthday which was very nice and then home to snuggle up in bed with a film - which as usual we saw about twenty minutes of before waking again to the closing credits!!  We're so rock'n'roll y'know!!

We went to a Christmas Gifts Fayre during the early afternoon of Sunday.  It was held HERE in a small marquee which also spilled over in to some of the state rooms of the house.  It was a nice way to spend an hour or so, browsing some pretty little gifts.  I think that I must have been feeling a little jaded however, as none of the stalls seemed to have anything which completely bowled me over in excitement.  There was a stall selling cup cakes and brownies (£1.50 each!!),  There seemed to be a bit of a jewellery stall overload - and as much as I like jewellery, again there was nothing really spectacular.

Out of the mediocre - there was an amazing assortment of twisty scarves which almost looked like knitted sparkly cobwebs.  They looked like they would be very challenging to make - however as I can't knit for toffee then anything remotely resembling knitting would be challenging to me!! 

I did see a little hand made witch that after some deliberation I decided that I wanted - but when I went back to get it, it had gone.  Sniff. 

During the afternoon we cut out some pumpkin stencils ready for the seven pumpkins which have to be cut in time for the weekend.

We're having a pre-Halloween get together - just for a small number of family - and have mucho big plans for decorating the house!  I usually do a display in the lounge window in time for Samhain and I can't wait to go to town on the rest of the place!   We've found some lopped tree branches out in the field which are going to make fantastic spooky trees!! Watch this space.... all shall be revealed very soon!!  

I'm sorry that I haven't got any photographs which slot into this very random post - so I'll just share more randomness with you instead!!

Cheery Sunflowers - Sunshine on a Stem
(and a jar of home made chilli jam from my friend, Paula!)

An embroidered chicken! You can't get more random than that can you?!   This work of art was purchased when I was down in Woodstock for a weekend a couple of years ago.  It features freeform embroidery on to heavy art paper and finished with pen and ink and each picture is one of a kind.   The picture is signed by J Cooper - I have googled her to no avail.

Now that the veggie planters have been harvested of spring onions, carrots and runner beans, I thought I could inject a little much needed colour into my otherwise very drab garden. 

I chose a  few Erica heathers, some winter pansies, variegated ivy, little Goldcrest conifers and some skimmia dotted between some pretty miniature cyclamen.  I've underplanted these with a load of mixed daffy bulbs, some hyacinths and some alliums.

The cyclamen really are the prettiest little plants - they were two for a pound from our local Big Apple discount store.

It looks a little sparse at the moment but hopefully the plants will find their own space and bloom for a while over autumn and early winter at least.  I was really pleased with it - needless to say HTH had been warned on pain of death not to dig them up.  Didn't work tho.  Sigh.    The poor plants have been squished and moved around so many times that I doubt they'll see the end of next week!!!

Random Monday - over and out!!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Glitter & Sequins

I have spent this last evening up to my eyes in sequins, false eyelashes, glitter, feather boas, wigs, thigh boots, whips and lipgloss. 

And that was just the men!

I've been to Stourbridge Town Hall to see The Stourbridge Operatic Society perform their 100th production - La Cage Aux Folles.

All I can say is - WOW!  I've seen this show twice already in the West End (dahhhling!) but the effort by the local Operatic Society was truly fabulous and very well deserving of the ovations the cast achieved.  It's funny, poignant, a little bit naughty, and a darn good singalong show which I thoroughly recommend to anyone who likes a bit of lighthearted fun coupled with glitter and glamour. 

For those of you who are not familiar with the show, it centres around a gay couple, Georges and Albin, who run a drag club in St Tropez.  Their son wishes to marry the daughter of a local politician who is also a complete bigot and some wonderful farce ensues when the two families meet up for the first time. Les Cagelles provide the high powered high kicking dancing, some of which brings the proverbial tear to your eye - particularly when the splits is performed over and over again during the CanCan and you remember that the dancing girls with legs TO DIE FOR are, in fact, men!

I'll leave you with a little taster of the show on You Tube and you can sing "I am what I am" in to your hairbrush as loud as you like!

Hope your evening was full of froth and feathers too!!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Grand Day Out

A couple of weeks ago we took ourselves off to Warwick for the day.  Being a one motorcycle family and me not being of suitable timberage for riding pillion (unless we wanted to wheelie all the way there!), we let the train take the strain for the sake of a tenner each.  

We were hoping to take a look around Warwick Castle however the ridiculously over priced entrance fee put paid to that little idea.  I'd been scanning the internet for a couple of weeks as there are usually some two for one offers to be had - but sadly to no avail.  For the two of us to walk up and pay on the day it would have cost us nearly sixty quid to access the Castle Grounds, the Tower and the Dungeon.  Having checked their website, the ticket price would have reduced slightly if we had purchased them online but only by a few quid.  Seriously - how do they warrant charging such high prices?  I know it's a beautiful place and everything but Lawks a' Mercy Guv'nor!!!    A 'Kingdom' ticket  (i.e. access to the whole shebang) for a family would cost £122.40 (without any discounts etcetera).  How do young families afford to pay that much for a day out?  Add travel and food during the day then you have to be talking around £150 for a day out. 

ANYway... we had a walk around the market place for a while and then wandered through the back streets in search of somewhere to grab some brunch.  The local Wetherspoons was a cheap and cheerful option of course but as it was our 'date day' we decided to look for somewhere a little different. 

 We discovered a lovely little coffee shop  attached to the Lord Leycester Hospital which was open to the public without having to pay entrance to the building.  We had yummy coffee, scrambled egg on toast for me, and a club sarnie for him, sitting in the little outside area which looked out on to the courtyard.

This fine building is The Master's House.  

I was intrigued by the blue porcupine and went in for a close up! 

We decided to have a look around the Hospital and we weren't disappointed.  The entry fee was less than a fiver and we spent a good hour or so browsing around.  The 'Hospital' has never, in fact, been a hospital.  Some parts of it date back to 1383 so lots of historical facts and figures were to be seen around the place.

The Lord Leycester Hospital was created as a home to the Guild of the Holy Trinity and St George which was formed in 1383 to help with education and charity.  In 1571 permission was give to Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leycester, to turn the site into a hospital for soldiers injured during the service of Queen Elizabeth I.

The cluster of historic buildings include a medieval hospital, a chapel, reception rooms, living quarters, meeting rooms and a banqueting hall.  The banqueting hall is let out for marriages and civil ceremonies now too.

The site was restored in the 1950s and 60s and the hospital was opened after its restoration by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on 3 November 1966.  Today, eight ex-servicemen and their wives live in modernised flats and in return give their services towards the running of the hospital. It's a self-supporting charity relying largely on income from visitors and we were more than happy to contribute.

We were initially given a very friendly explanation of how to navigate our way around the place by one of the Brethren and were then left to our own devices to explore at our leisure.  We were guided towards the little Chapel first.   Now as you will know I don't 'do' churches and chapels but there was no denying the peaceful aspect of the little building.  The Brethren are expected to attend morning service every morning - tongue in cheek the guy we were speaking to earlier joked that it was more of a 'roll call' to see who was still alive!! 

I couldn't work out whether this was a dog or a dragon carved into the arm of   a very grand (and very Eastern looking ) chair. 

A view from the ramparts!!

We discovered that the upstairs gallery was home to a little museum to the Queen's Royal Hussars - a bonus for Mr Military fanatic!

An added bonus for me was Millennium Knot Garden to the side of the buildings.  The metal bear statue is a modern day represntation of the Coat of Arms of Lord Leyster.  Bears were a big feature around the house, particularly on the outside of the Master's House where the Coat of Arms was displayed too.  All very heraldic don'tcha know!  The Knot Garden apparently contains 800 box plants!!

Out through another little gate we went and out into the beautiful Master's Garden.  This was such a tranquil little place full of quiet corners and prettyfull-ness! 

And unexpected smiles!

This was one of those unplanned visits which turned out really well.  

The afternoon was spent browsing a gallery and little gift shops along the back streets, and cider shandy in the very hot sunshine by way of a reviver, before we were homeward bound.

Thank you Warwick - we'll be back soon.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

FREE Double Duvet!! Yeah Right!

**Ranty blog post alert**

On the front of the Daily Mail yesterday there was a big splashy strapline - "FREE DOUBLE DUVET Worth £49.99 for Every Reader".   Cor, I thought  That doesn't sound like a bad offer does it?!  Until I spotted the dreaded "token collect" wording in far smaller text underneath the ad.  

Further investigation revealed that you had to collect 35 tokens plus send £4.99 in postage.  Now if my calculations are correct, to get the duvet at it's cheapest rate (i.e. by collecting tokens from only the weekly newspapers at the current rate of 55p per day)  that's a whole seven weeks of token collecting which would cost your £19.25 plus your £4.99 p&p = £24.24.  That's if you don't factor in buying the more expensive weekend newspapers if you wanted to get the duvet more quickly.  Well pardon me - that's hardly 'FREE' is it?

The advertised duvet is a 'sumptuous 9 tog'.   Hmm.  Doesn't sound particularly sumptuous to me.  Oh - hang on a minute though - you have the opportunity to BUY a 3 tog double duvet worth £39.99 for the "brilliant price of £14.99 (plus postage - presumably another £4.99)" - which will fit perfectly with the 9 tog to add that extra bit of warmth when needed.  So - for the bargain price of £44.22 you can have a 12 tog duvet.  

Alternatively - you could nip to the "big green supermarket of monstrous proportions" where you could pick up a 13.5 tog double duvet for the princely sum of £7.78.

As our American friends would say - Go Figure!!!!

See - this is why I don't buy newspapers.  They make me cross!  And that's just the freebies!  

N.B.   I do realise that if you buy newspapers every day, then of course you would consider that you're getting a good deal.  ;)  But it's my blog and I'll rant if I want to!! hahahha xx

Saturday, 15 October 2011

A Cosy Evening

Hello blogging friends!

Brrr!! It's been a beautiful crisp and bright autumnal day but my goodness the nights are getting considerably more chilly!   I couldn't wait to get home this evening after a mad busy week and was glad that I had no plans to be out and about. 

A simple supper of mash, fish and parsley sauce made great 'comfort' food and a warm bath soaked away that cloying worky cloak of wearisome yukkiness (im.pressive eh?!!) so that the weekend could begin properly.

I fancied that a cosy evening was the order of the ...erm.... day!!  I drew the curtains and settled on the sofa for a complete lazeathon - and what's more I don't feel in the slightest bit guilty!

A couple of my beautiful Halloween candle holders have found their way on to the mantleshelf early this year   -.. a spidery/leafy one - the metal pictures are magnetic so you can have different combinations of theme.  I'll exchange the autumnal theme for snowflakes towards Yule.   

Aww... my favourite... the pumpkin house!  I absolutely adore this little house - looks welcoming doesn't it?!   I have a bit of a thing for pumpkins as you will see in forthcoming posts!!  The teeny tiny pumpkins sitting in front of the house are no bigger than a 50p piece and made from china. I can't remember where I got them from now I've had them for so long.

 The ripple blanket has been hauled out of hibernation and is coming on apace. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but its bright colours are nice and cheery and keep me occupied (and warm!) whilst the man is asleep before his night shift.

Well that was a completely rubbish post wasn't it?!   I shall try to do better over the weekend.

In the meantime - I hope you had yourselves a cosy Friday evening.

Harvey hopes so too!!  (the pink colouring on his leg isn't blood - it's from one of those yuksome gurt chewy bone things!)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Busy Busy!!

Hello lovelies!

I haven't stopped blogging - just been a tad tied up in yuksome health issues and other boring stuff which has distracted me somewhat.  I'm currently awaiting an appointment for an MRI scan, the results of which will hopefully be clear and I can get back to some semblance of normality.

In other news... remember me mentioning my wanting to start a little business of my own?  Well, the business cards are printed, the website is under construction, the flyers are being drawn up, the Facebook page is HERE, and the pictures below give you some inkling as to what it's all about:-

Yup, Chocolate Bouquets!!  Well why not eh?!  It's very early days but I'm hopeful that I can generate some interest.  I've had a few orders already so that's a bonus!

Sell! Sell! Sell!!

See you soon and thanks for checking back. xxx