Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Christmas at our house follows time-honoured family patterns, with the same decorations and food served year after year. The only unknown, though sometimes guessed at, surprises, are the contents of the carefully wrapped presents. 

We opened a hatbox of goodies from Betty's Cafe, a place where I was taken for afternoon tea by my mother when I was a child. Sometimes my father would come home with a cake box filled with a choice of their deliciously 'continental' little cakes. He always included a custard slice, laden with cream, which was his favourite. Betty's Cafe was started by a Swiss but now also makes a speciality of several Yorkshire recipes.

Very mindful of my current state of health, Wee one had bought me the book from an excellent channel four television series. It is impossible to turn on the t.v. without being assailed by someone or other doing things with food. Mostly the programmes are about indulgence.  Many of the famous names, Delia, Jamie and Nigella seem to be fighting a losing battle with their weight. By contrast with all the rich excesses of the other programmes, the food hospital is quite inspirational, as is the book.

I love nice soap and nowadays there is a marvelous choice. This year I've been given a bar of milk soap from Scotland that feels like a large, smooth pebble in the hand.
I've been hunting for a replacement everyday shoulder bag for some time, so this Tod's bag in a grey/mushroom soft leather was a lovely surprise from one of my daughters.
The Debrett's lady's 2012 diary, with it's flexible cover, will fit comfortably inside the new bag. Although there is plenty of useful information, many of the diary contents are rather ridiculous and  have nothing whatsoever to do with my life; listings for 'the season' are very horse and sport orientated, neither ever having been my thing, and the shopping directory is only to dream of. Plenty of advice is given for Debrett 'ladies', but as a retired old bat I can happily ignore it!

The Chantecaille 'sea turtle palette' eye shadows are beautifully presented and look almost too pretty to use, (The important word here is 'almost') and I've also been given some very useful anti-wrinkle products.

Himself has got some traditional Christmas gifts for men, a box of socks and some jumpers. But look what else - oh, he's a happy, and noisy, man, with a three disc set of Queen  blasting through the house. 
And just to test whether his brain cells are being fried by all the noise, a pocket IQ test, which we haven't yet dared to open!

I hope that you also unwrapped some lovely surprises on Christmas Day.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Winter titfers

Titfer, English rhyming slang
Tit-for-tat,  hat.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, as the song goes.  It's the time of year to cram on a cosy titfer before going out. Wee one was home for the weekend and agreed to model some of my winter hats.

This is an obliging old brown hat that can be crammed into a pocket and pulled out without being much the worse for wear.

This brown one with its large black velvet, lop-sided bow is a real favourite but it doesn't respond too well to casual treatment.

Jaeger cashmere pull-on hat. It has a matching jumper. 

Wee 0ne's hair


I have everyday berets

and a beret with attitude.

Fed up with modeling? I know to call it a day when Wee one starts larking about with the dog!

I, on the other hand, take my hat wearing very seriously!

Ceramic Sunday, Hungarian bowl.

This bowl came from the importer of our Hungarian kitchen dresser and rack. We could not resist buying it because the colour is so joyful. Only the three small marks of a kiln spacer are untouched by the vibrant yellow which its charming random mottling. The bowl sits on our kitchen table and seems the perfect place to keep citrus fruit.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Ceramic Sunday, kitchen shelves

I've been rather remiss in posting ceramic Sundays just lately, so I'm catching up on myself by showing you a couple of shelves of assorted ceramics  from my kitchen dresser. A small doll in a teacup, a favourite postcard, a cardboard container from Barcelona (contents eaten), a motley selection of things. I've never promised that I was tidy, now have I!  
And if these are my shelves, just imagine the state of my brain!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


I'm busy. Busy catching up on all the things that I should have been doing over the last couple of weeks - before I got ill. If you live in England, NEVER be ill at the weekend! Himself got very little sleep, he kept having to get back into his clothes and go down the garden path to wait for an out of hours doctor. What is it about me that I always take a turn for the worse at an ungodly hour? 
Well, this week, my third scan of the year, and, at last, a diagnosis. Didn't I say so at the start? Gallstones, b----- gallstones! Christmas is coming and there will be no chocolate, no pudding or pigs in blankets, no brandy butter for me. Oh, how galling!
So here I am, just sitting quietly and writing the Christmas cards and trying to be good.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Too much wuthering

Last week Pat, of the Weaver of Grass blog, wondered what other bloggers thought of the new film version of Emily Bronte's  'Wuthering Heights.'  Exiled Yorkshire woman that I am, I went to see it this week. It is filmed in a landscape that I know well, and, dear me, there was an awful lot of weather, altogether far too much wuthering. 
Once again we have a film that only depicts the first half of the book, stopping before there is any mention of the further generation and the sad outcome of obsession and revenge. I have always found it strange that this story is described as one of love. Examples are given of Heathcliff's cruelty in the film, but, oh, he looks drop dead gorgeous in his white shirt (and equally so without it!)
I thought that it was perfect to cast a black actor in the role, wholly plausible given that he is described in the book as being dark skinned and was found as a child wandering the streets of the great seaport city of Liverpool.
I don't know anyone from  Yorkshire daft enough to roll in a peat bog who would then scrub up quite so well as these actors, and for goodness sake WILL SOMEONE HOLD THAT CAMERA STEADY!

Verdict, a tad indulgent, but , oh, my homeland is beautiful, even when it's wuthering!

We used to have a Dobermann whom my father named, 'Keeper' after the dog in 'Wuthering Heights'. Keeper did not like men in hats and lived up to his namesake well, so far as the postman was concerned, stalking him up and down our long drive, growling in a quiet but threatening manner. One day the postman threw his cap at Keeper and that marked the end of good behaviour. Post then became a bit erratic, with letters arriving a day late, bearing the pencilled message, 'dog out, could not deliver.'

Ower Tops.

T'other side o't dale 's
a veil o' milky 'ue
as you an' I an' t' dog
on t' peat moor top can view,
at dusk,
a sky awash wi' pink.
An' everythin' takes on a magic glow
as walkin' ower tops we go.

 On the tops (in a bit of weather) with Keeper and Michele. Jan. 1960.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ceramic Sunday: coffee cups.

My father bought this set of small coffee cups for me when I was a child and the gold-plated spoons were one of my parents' wedding presents, hardly ever used. Both he and I were attracted by the combination of bright jewel-like colours and gold interior. Just lately coffee has been off the menu for me, so annoying because a small cup of coffee (and a chocolate!) seem the perfect ending to a decent meal. I have used this little set often and with  a mixture of pleasure and amusement. They were bought when I was young and I think because Dad could not resist them so I was a good excuse! 

Friday, 11 November 2011

All at sea: in the Caribbean


Landfall, British Virgin Islands.

Look who is delighted to be off their great big hulk of a cruise ship and onto a real boat, a racing catamaran. We are in Tortola, heading out from Road Town across the Sir Francis Drake Channel to go snorkelling around the nearby islands.

The sails aren't rigged yet, so we are still standing up, but you'll notice that we are holding on firmly, (and at this point only drinking fruit punch!)

Wonderful snorkeling, with beautiful corals, Sergeant majors and Coral Fins, after which excitement we need a little lie down,

followed by a swim at Peter Island.

Back under sail with a good rum punch.

We arrived in Antigua on Independence Day and docked alongside a British navy ship busily decking itself out with celebration bunting.
Judging Antigua to be a flat island we had pre-booked a jeep in England from Tropical Rentals. Oh, goody, it's red!

The view from Shirley Heights was amazing.

And Independence Day flags were everywhere.

Just look at Himself in Nelson's Dockyard.
Can you feel the heat? 
Can you see the tropical downpour gathering?
Can you imagine our race back to the jeep in time to get the roof back on?
After a terrific downpour the sun came out, the roof came back down, and the intrepid travelers headed to a beach to stretch out in the sunshine.
Another day, another island, another beach, this time Grand Anse in Grenada. We picnic under the shade of a tree in the heat of the day and spend our time luxuriously and aimlessly floating and swimming about in the warm, turquoise water - my idea of heaven.

Blissed out on the water taxi heading back to port.
St George, the capital of Grenada is claimed to be a pretty place, with a mixture of French provincial architecture and robust Georgian stone buildings and coloured wooden houses on the hillside beyond. I asked any number of locals for the best areas to see this architecture but they didn't have the faintest idea, so in true tourist fashion I did a bit of aimless wandering but didn't discover very much.

Then it was back to our balcony

 and the end of a perfect day in Grenada.

Eyes bigger than belly? 

No, belly and eyes both big.(Or perhaps it's just the glasses.)

In Bridgetown, Barbados, Himself chats to a couple who live near us in England.

We've come to take a look at Nelson while he is still on his column. The monument was erected in 1813, seventeen years before the one in London's Trafalgar Square. This Nelson has become a controversial figure, seen by some as a symbol of colonialism, and there is talk of him being replaced by a national hero. We spoke to a couple of locals. Waste of money, they thought, to take Nelson down. He had already been moved to look the other way some time past, at great expense. Leave Nelson where he is, was their opinion, and place a national hero somewhere else.

It is blisteringly hot and ambitious plans for sight-seeing are abandoned in preference to a seat in the shade.

I'm still eating, (but who can resist a chocolate milkshake?)

And we are still dressing up.

By now we know no shame, and when the Bagen Doo Flicky Show invite us on stage on our final evening, up we go.  I am shown how to 'shake ma booty'

which, after time at sea, is a size worth shaking!

"Look at me" says the stilt man, "do what I do."

The Y&F show them how

and the stilt man jumps over them!

Our last morning in Barbados and the Anderson Sealy Steel Orchestra gives it all they've got. 

And this Y&F hasn't put on so much as a pound!

Goodbye Caribbean.