Wednesday 31 May 2017

Bank Holiday Fun

Some things which amused me this week
Sunday,returning from church, we saw Del Boy, with his Reliant Robin which had broken down

Monday, I noticed this in a coffee shop - 
Presumably like electric chairs, only faster and more elevated?

And Tuesday in Matalan - am I likely to forget how to spell properly?
I have been Stash Busting - I sorted out loads of fabric.
Some scraps which were just too small and silly to be useful have gone to the Textile Recycling Bank, where they can make some money for the Air Ambulance, and three large bags of general usable fabric has been advertised on our local town sales site [free- I want to clear them out]. Someone out there might be making play costumes, fancy dress or bunting this summer. 
If there are no takers, they will go to the bank as well.
Feeling very pleased to have made some space in the loft!

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Bish! Bash! Bosh!

I expect you've heard this phrase, the OED says it has been around since the 1960s. Originally meaning a series of blows, like bang! bang! bang! - but now slang for something completely quickly and easily. Harry Enfield popularised it with Loadsamoney in the 1980s and Jamie uses it for his quick'n'easy recipes. 

I'm unable to verify the rumour that b-b-b appeared in a book about Freemasonry in 1924 [I suspect that's an urban myth] 
But why bish bash bosh? Why not bish bosh bash or bash bish bosh ? [or the other 3 arrangements of these words] 
The answer is the Unwritten Rule of Ablaut Reduplication. 

And 99% of native English speakers have never heard of this- but most of them will follow this rule instinctively.
Let me give you some more common terms- ping pong, mish mash, flip flop, shilly shally, tick tock.
Let's try them the other way round pong ping, mash mish, flop flipshally shilly, tock tick.
They just do not sound right do they? The URofAR says that "if there are three words with these vowels, then the order must go I,A,O - and if just two of them, then the I word goes first. Your horse's hooves all make the same noise when the hit the ground - but we still say clip clop, never clop clip.
Isn't it fascinating?
Maybe you think this is just a load of flimflam - if so, then go away and suck on a TacTic, until you understand what I'm on about!!

Note for word-nerds - ablaut simply means the variation of vowels in the same word root. From the German and Latin for 'off sound'

I'm off to practice my hip-hop in a sing-song voice! Hope I don't meet Boris Johnson playing ping-pong [or whiff-whaff as he calls it]

Monday 29 May 2017

Page Turner, Or Bodice Ripper?

Two definitions for you...
Page Turner; any book, esp. a novel, which is so interesting, exciting, suspenseful, etc. that it draws the reader along, though it may be of little or no literary worth.
Bodice Ripper; romantic novel, usually on a historical theme, that involves some sex and sometimes violence
I blame Mags for this post, for it was she who pointed me towards it. I'd been happily recovering the damaged spine of my Bible, so that Good Book could continue being of use, when she sent me pictures of an alternative use for damaged book spines. Look at this incredible dress created by French designer Sylvie Facon.
A glorious evening gown, and the bodice is all made of book spines.
The skirt is ecru, in voiles and organzas [looking as if they have been dyed in tea, to get that faded Miss Havisham look]
The back is laced, corset fashion. Not the sort of dress you can wriggle into by yourself, you definitely need a maid, friend, or lover on hand to fasten the strings!

This picture shows how the bodice is on a tulle foundation - it probably has an extra firm cotton lining inside too.

It is a fabulous piece of stitchery - were I Helena Bonham Carter, I would certainly wear this to pop down to the M&S Foodhall for a pint of milk. Or maybe glide into Ferndown Library to return the [undamaged] books I've borrowed.
But I am not HBC. On the other hand, I do have a tall, beautiful daughter who would look utterly stunning in a frock like this. How about it Steph? You could certainly wear it to your local library in Manchester. The glorious John Rylands building would be a brilliant place to showcase such a creation...

Sunday 28 May 2017

On Being A Dangerous Woman

With thanks to my friend who shared a prayer on Facebook this week - it's by Lynne Hybels. She's a Pastor's Wife in the USA, and with her husband Bill Hybels, founded the Willow Creek Community Church. Bill wrote the brilliant little book 'Too busy not to pray' which is definitely worth reading [and rereading] Lynn is involved not just in her home church, but in wider 'compassion' ministries, especially those which help women in South Sudan, Iraq, Syria, and the DRC. 
Lynn has said this "A dangerous woman is alive! She knows she is deeply loved by God and grounds herself daily in that love. She delves deeply into the truth about who she is and claims her unique temperament, gifts, passions and dreams. She refuses to let fear stop her as she responds to God’s calling on her life. And out of her fully alive heart, she radically engages with the needs of the world.
I am convinced that women are the greatest untapped resource in the world. We have talents, skills, education, and financial resources that women didn’t dream of in the past. Beyond all this, we have the tremendous power of compassion. How different the world could be if we each responded compassionately to the needs of our sisters—whether they work at the desk next to us or live half way across the world."
Here's that prayer - it is one I would echo in my own heart this morning as I look out at this hurting world...
The Dangerous Women Creed
Dear God, please make us dangerous women.
May we be women who acknowledge our power to change,
and grow, and be radically alive for God.
May we be healers of wounds and righters of wrongs.
May we weep with those who weep
and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
May we cherish children, embrace the elderly, and empower the poor.
May we pray deeply and teach wisely.
May we be strong and gentle leaders.
May we sing songs of joy and talk down fear.
May we never hesitate to let passion push us,
conviction compel us, 
and righteous anger energize us.
May we strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world.
May we dismantle abusive systems and silence lies with truth.
May we shine like stars in a darkened generation.
May we overflow with goodness in the name of God and by the power of Jesus.
And in that name and by that power, may we change the world.
Dear God, please make us dangerous women. Amen.

Saturday 27 May 2017

Happy Birthday Liz!

It's the birthday of my Firstborn today, where have the years gone? Sadly we are down in Dorset and they are up in Norfolk this weekend [and Rosie has just acquired her first pair of shoes!] But I have made Liz a suitably cycling themed card and trusting the Postman to deliver it on time...
We're very proud of both of our girls - they are so precious to us, and have brought so much joy into our lives. Today there are many mothers in Manchester, in Chibok, in Mindanao, and other places who are grieving for their girls. God be with them and comfort them.  
May I never take my girls for granted, may they always know the unconditional love I have for them.
Happy Birthday, Liz!

Friday 26 May 2017

Polished Off

It occurred to me after yesterday's post that not everybody has a tin of Brasso lurking in their kitchen cupboard.
In my childhood, it seemed that everybody's Mum had a can of metal polish which was brought out regularly. 
Boys' Brigade Belt Badges, Brownie badges, Nurses' belt buckles, brass blazer buttons - all these garments needed frequent polishing.
And then there was the brass coal scuttle, the ornament made from an old WW1 shell which Grandad brought back from the trenches, ashtrays, Granny's silver teapot...all needed buffing up.My posh friend Dot had Duraglit- which was impregnated wadding - but we just used the liquid Brasso and a bit of Dad's old vest.
There was always something wanting some elbow grease to bring out the shine.

Do the younger generation ever use it? In these days of stainless steel cutlery and dishwashers, who wants to polish up a serving spoon?
In National Trust properties, I understand that there is an annual polishing of all the copper and brassware and then the rest of the year these items are just buffed up with a soft cloth. 
But Brasso has its uses even in the 21st Century home - some of them have very little to do with brass teatrays.
For instance, try these ideas [but carefully]
  • Brasso can be used to polish CDs, DVDs, screens, and pools in order to repair scratches. It is a mild solvent and an extremely fine abrasive, so when applied to the reflective surface of the disc and rubbed radially [in straight lines between the edge and centre], it can smooth scratches and reduce their effect.
  • Rub Brasso with a soft cloth onto Lego minifigures to remove markings.
  • Watch enthusiasts use it to polish scratches out of acrylic crystals on watches.
  • Brasso can be successfully used to take minor (white) heat marks out of French polished wooden surfaces. The fine abrasive cuts through the surface and allows the solvent into the wax and lacquer layer. The surface should be properly cleaned and waxed after this treatment.
  • Used gently, and in moderation, Brasso will restore Bakelite (Telephones, appliances etc.)
I love these wonderful old adverts. Use Brasso and make friends! Here are a few tips if you are using Brasso just as a regular metal polish 
  • if cleaning buttons or buckles on garments, then cut a slit in a piece of old card, and slide it under the button so that the surrounding fabric is covered, and doesn't get marked by the polish
  • a soft cloth is great - but for detailed work, an old toothbrush may be even better
  • Food utensils [serving spoons etc] should be well washed in hot soapy water after polishing to remove any polish residue, before they come into contact with food.
  • wear an apron, and gloves [Marigolds, or latex, or be like a traditional butler and wear soft cotton ones] These will protect your clothes and your hands.

Finally - if you have one small item needing polishing and you have no Brasso, then use 1 tablespoon of brown/HP sauce on a soft cloth. If the item is really tarnished, stir in 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda to make a paste. Rub in, polish off, and rinse well.

Thursday 25 May 2017

A Study In Scarlet

It's rather hard to focus on blogging this week, with all the sadness and suffering in Manchester. My heart aches for all those mothers whose daughters will not be coming home again.
Very grateful that Steph [who is O negative] was able to go and donate blood in Manchester on Tuesday afternoon, and Liz gave in London yesterday [Rosie got a sticker!]

Life goes on- here in Ferndown they are repainting all our pillar boxes. A group of us were walking back from a Care Home Service last Friday when we met a guy painting a box just outside the old [closed] Post Office, which has just been sold. He said that he was painting the box, but it was due to be relocated somewhere else now the PO is out of use.
So I began checking the postboxes to see which ones had been given a fresh red coat. 
On Saturday I saw that one just round the corner was bright and shiny. On Monday morning I went out on my bike, and noted that the one on my route to church was dull and rusty - but when Bob and I returned to church in the evening for a meeting, it had been painted.
What a difference!
Also on my bike ride, which took me along the Castleman Trailway, I saw some lovely spring blossoms and fresh green foliage.
Unexpectedly there was a small honeysuckle bush growing in among the brambles. I plucked 3 flowers and brought them home.
Having just finished up a tin of Brasso, I decided this scarlet and blue container would make a very quirky flower vase.
I just love the retro sunburst design of the Brasso tin. It has been around since before WW1. During WW2 there was a metal shortage and Brasso briefly was in glass bottles. Now it is in tins again - but they have a red plastic 2-part screw cap. Once that's been removed, and it has been well washed, you have a cute container for a few blooms. 
Just as my heart was gladdened to see the beautiful blossoms growing amongst the brambles, so it has been great to see many good deeds shining out in the darkness this week. 

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Bible Bashing

I love this quote from Spurgeon. I have a Bible in the kitchen which is 35 years old - a gift from my parents, just before Liz was born. 
It is my 'go-to' Bible, the one I pick up when I am at home and want to look something up quickly. 
It lives in the kitchen because that's where Bob and I read it after breakfast [along with helpful notes from the Scripture Union]
But 35 years of daily use has taken its toll, and the cover is really worn and grubby. I decided I would do something about that.
The dull brown cover with its split spine, and frayed edges definitely needed dealing with. I had some cotton fabric in the Great Stash. It was from a bag of furnishing samples -fire resistant and Scotchgarded. I decided the latter quality would help it to resist stains!
I cut out a piece big enough for an overlap, and put a layer of PVA glue all over the fabric.
Then I wrapped it round, firmly, smoothed it all down, clipped the corners, and folded over an overlap of about 6mm. I pegged it all round to hold the edges firmly.
I also put thin plastic bags inside front and back covers, to protect the pages from sticking together. Bob suggested weighting it down with the flat-iron would be a good thing too.

The finished result is very satisfactory. This should last us for plenty more years of Bible Reading. Dylan Thomas talks about the sky being "Bible- black" - and for many, their Bible is a big black book. At her Coronation , the Queen was presented with a Bible, and these words were said "We present you with this book - the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; This is the royal Law; These are the lively Oracles of God."
I quite like the idea of these lively Oracles being covered with cheerful blue floral fabric.The Queen's Coronation Bible was covered in bright red leather, with cream trim and gold tooling. Mind you, her Majesty's Bible is a rather large - a bit impractical to keep beside her cereal bowl in the mornings!

Tuesday 23 May 2017

The Adventures Of Grumble Bear

Two days after Bob found my Slop in a CS in Dereham, I found this book for 50p in a CS in Wymondham.
I was quite intrigued, especially when I found that inside the covers were diagrams for stitchery plus some correspondence from the book's owner [but that's another story] I decided I wanted to try my hand at smock making. I started investigating the subject. I discovered that Alice's little book is the one everybody refers to - and copies of it go for £50 in the USA [no, I'm not selling] 
Although smocks were seen being worn by shepherds in Sussex, Hertfordshire and Berkshire even in the 1970s, they've almost all been replaced by more modern garb on the farms. Some Morris Dancers wear them - and a few people recreate the old designs just for pleasure.
I had not realised that the embroidery on a smock often showed the occupation of the wearer - so the farmer at market, looking to hire workers, could see [without asking] whether they were woodmen, shepherds, gardeners, cowherds, milkmaids or gravediggers etc. I looked at the patterns, and read the instructions - smocks were made from a set of rectangles - some buttoned all the way down the front, some slipped over the head with a button at the neck, some were symmetrical, with a larger neckline, and could be worn either way round. 
The more I read, the more fascinated I became. I'd done smocking at school, and knew the basic principal; You make even gathers across a length of fabric and pull it up tightly, to make corrugated 'reeds'. Then you stitch on the top surface, making patterns with variations of three stitches [reed, basket or chevron] Once that is done, you snip and remove the gathering threads and are left with a piece of fabric which is elastic and stretches round curves and springs back into shape.
I'd made myself a top with a smocked panel in my teens, and did a smocked dress for Liz when she was a baby. 
A traditional smock has smocked panels on the front, back and cuffs, plus embroidery on the shoulders, collar, sleeves and "boxes" [these are the unsmocked panels on either side of the front and back smocking]
I realised it would take me forever to make one. I discovered that a company in Hampshire in the 80s took 4-6 weeks to complete bespoke smocks for people.
So I compromised- I decided that Grumble Bear should have a new outfit. GB was the bear my Mum bought for Steph when she was born. He had a very grumbly growl [sadly it stopped working years ago] I found a piece of linen in my stash, and using the book, I chose designs based on 'Dorset Woodman' [well it seemed appropriate] and made a tiny Dorset Button to finish it off at the neck.
He still looks disgruntled, despite his fancy new outfit! Yes it is a little bit short, but that's because I wanted it to look good when he is sitting down on the spare bed. I am not sure if I have the energy to make a proper full size smock - but I think I would like to develop the ideas of smocking, and the three embroidery stitches used in smocks [single feather a.k.a. blanket, chain and feather]
Here you can see details of front, back, shoulders, cuffs and boxes
I've got some small bits of linen in the Great Stash. Maybe I need to make yet another tea cosy...

Monday 22 May 2017

Three Years Later...

One very wet, windy day in May 2014, five of us went on a prayer walk. It was so muddy, and the rain was relentless. But we were utterly determined to walk round the fields where the New Lubbesthorpe Development was due to be built. Back in 2006, Bob had a vision, for building a strong community in this place, and things were slowly starting to take shape. As we walked, we prayed - for the old houses which were going, the new ones being built, the people who would move in, and the development of a new community.At the end of my walk, I picked up a smooth white stone and brought it home.

I wrote the date on it, and kept it on my desk, to remind me to pray for the project.
One of the hardest things about moving away from Kirby Muxloe was leaving all that behind, and trusting God to bring other people forward to share the vision and see it through.
That walk was exactly three years ago - and now Sue Steer [a Baptist Rev] has been appointed as Community Worker - and she has recently taken welcome packs to the first few houses to be occupied.
God bless you, Sue, as you share the love of Jesus in Lubbesthorpe. I've still got the stone, and I am still praying for you- even though I live miles away now!

Sunday 21 May 2017

Christian Aid Week 2017

On Monday at our WWDP Committee, Muriel led our devotions, and gave us each some red string. She used some of the prayers from the Christian Aid Week booklet, and shared this with us.

Take a piece of red string…
Find a length of red string, wool or fabric. Hold it as you read the passage for each day. As you reflect on the questions, tie a knot in the fabric – one for each person who comes to mind as you pray. Each knot is a symbol that we are bound together as sisters and brothers in Christ. At the end of Christian Aid Week, we’ll collect the threads together as a visible symbol of the praying, acting and giving that has taken place during the week, while remembering those who are hungry, sick or need inviting in. We’ll present the postcards and bundle of wool to our political leaders as a reminder that we are bound together, and that each of us around the world is deserving of safety and welcome – particularly those in need of food and shelter.
Bound together as sisters and brothers
As you’ve prayed this Christian Aid Week, you’ve joined thousands of others all over the country. Thousands of others who are not prepared to ignore the hungry, the thirsty and the sick. Thousands of others who, together, are part of a different story where no one is left out. Turn these prayers into a powerful symbol that binds us together. 
We’ll collect threads from around the country, bind them together and present them to our political leaders to demonstrate our connectedness. We’ll demonstrate our commitment to a Britain that  refuses to turn a blind eye to suffering. We’ll demonstrate the need for a new story, a story where the hungry are fed, the thirsty are offered a drink, the stranger is invited in and all are liberated.

Dear Prime Minister

This Christian Aid Week, I’ve been listening to the stories of people forced from their homes. These stories remind us of our common humanity, which is everywhere being denied by violence, inhumane policies and the words we use. This thread reminds us that we are bound together: you and me, and all those currently seeking sanctuary. Please join us in overcoming division and uphold our proud tradition as a nation that stands up for those in desperate need wherever they are in the world.

Saturday 20 May 2017

I Came Home In Tatters!

When I got back to Dorset after a couple of days up in London for WWDP Committees, I really was 'in tatters'. The dictionary defines it thus
Torn in many places; in shreds. Late Middle English (also in the singular meaning ‘scrap of cloth’): from Old Norse t«ętrar ‘rags’.
First up, I'd become aware on Tuesday morning when I got dressed, that I had damaged my jeans the day before. On Monday, I'd been carrying my briefcase in my hand, but slung my satchel across my body as I travelled from Waterloo to Baker Street, and then later back to Elephant and Castle. But I had put my satchel with the flap inwards [feeling it was more secure that way] not realising the sharpness of the buckles. My jeans were shredded across the top of the right thigh, with a number of pulls and there were lots of snagged threads.
Secondly, as I got my Oyster card out at E&C, I saw the orange plastic wallet had split. 
And finally, when I got home, I went past a mirror, and thought there was something on my shoulder. I checked it out - and realised I had a hole in my jacket.
Oh dear! What's a girl to do?
Jeans -  I got out my very sharp embroidery scissors and using my magnifying lamp, carefully trimmed away all the snagged threads. Snags barely visibvle now!
Jacket - I found that there was just enough spare seam allowance inside the pocket to cut a small scrap for patching. Rather than simply sew it down, I bound the edge of the patch with pink bias binding, and sewed it in place with red coton a broder thread - using blanket stitch and French Knots to make a feature of the mend.
Wallet - well, at first I thought I would just chuck it away. It is 5 years old, and these things are easily obtainable. Then I was so annoyed at the insensitive, ill-judged, offensive remarks made by BJ on his recent visit to a Sikh Gurdwara that I decided I needed to maintain my stance on this issue. So I found some brown electrical tape and carefully bound all the edges.Now it looks like it came from Sainsbury's in the 1970s.
But three items have received the Make Do And Mend treatment. And I am happy.

Friday 19 May 2017

Making A Statement

You may remember my delight in acquiring a proper Norfolk 'slop' smock last month. Liz suggested that it would look good with a piece of 'statement' jewellery - perhaps a bold brooch, necklace or pendant. Well, I tried my various pendants - and none of them looked quite right. Most of them made me look like an enthusiastic female Anglican vicar wearing a pectoral cross! [no offence meant to any Rev Ms CofE]
However, I found a pretty blue necklace for £2 in the Trussell Trust, and brought it home. I liked the pebble-y nature of the beads, reminiscent of sea glass.Tried it on, and found it was about 6" too short, I'd forgotten quite how wide the slop's neckline was. I experimented with a bit of kitchen string, to find the optimum length, then threaded a length of narrow ribbon through the catch at one end and the chain at the other. 

Because the ribbon is threaded and knotted, I can take it out easily and return the necklace to its original length if I want to wear it with something else. 

Now I can't decide which is the better statement - over the collar and down the front, or draped all round the outside!

Thursday 18 May 2017

As Harmless As Doves?

This is Hammersmith Bridge in London. If you've ever watched the Oxford&Cambridge Boat Race on TV, this is the one halfway round the course, just past the Harrods Depository. The current bridge - the first suspension bridge over the Thames - opened in 1887. 
But I've just come across a fascinating story involving the bridge, which happened in 1917, a hundred years ago. 
If you have been following Tracing Rainbows for a while, you will know that I am fond of William Morris, and his Arts and Crafts Movement [have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful]
We visited one of his homes, The Red House, three years ago
Morris had a great friend, Emery Walker, whose great skill was printmaking, engraving, and typography. He was, by all accounts, a generous, genial man, extremely gifted at designing beautiful lettering and developing ways of reproducing works of art to make them available to a wider audience. Thomas Cobden-Sanderson was another artist and printer, living in Hammersmith, close to the bridge. In 1893, TCS and Walker set up a business together - The Dove Press. They took their name from the nearby ancient Dove Tavern [ a favourite haunt of Charles II and Nell Gwynne, two hundred years earlier] Working with a calligrapher Edward Johnston [who designed the iconic London Transport typeface], these men produced a beautiful typeface which they called Doves Type. They produced a few books, in limited editions - in the days when every letter had to be set by hand in the printers frame, and the printing machine was hand operated too. Here's the first page of the Bible - Johnston wrote in the red capitals after the pages had been printed.
But after 15 years, EW and TCS fell out. The business was dissolved in 1908. They agreed that either could continue to use the metal type, and on the death of one, the other would have sole rights. But TCS was afraid that EW would put it to commercial use.
And here is where the bridge comes in...
In 1917, towards the end of WW1, the elderly TCS began to worry about his precious typeface. Around a ton of metal was involved here [you need an awful lot of letters if you plan to print chapters of Leviticus etc]
But Thomas was getting old - he was 77 - and he was determined to prevent Emery using the typeface. So he wrapped the letters, and printers' racks etc into small bundles. He took these, late at night, and dropped them over Hammersmith Bridge into the river. He made over one hundred of these secret nocturnal excursions. Oh just imagine this elderly man creeping out onto the bridge, leaning on the rail, always standing at the same spot, waiting for the right moment...and...splash! [please, somebody make a film about this!] The Doves Type was lost forever, people forgot about it.
The bridge remained, despite attempts by the IRA in 1939 and again in 2000 to blow it up. In recent years, tons of concrete have strengthened its foundations, and it has been repainted - now it is a Grade 2 listed structure.
And that might have been the end, except for an art student called Robert Green. He developed a fascination for the typeface, and sought out all the copies of books and tried to recreate it for himself. Then he got really obsessed - he got a Mudlark Permit from the Port of London Authority, and went searching along the shore. He found a handful of pieces of type.
Then he employed four professional divers [because the currents are dangerous round there] and in all, 150 pieces of type have been retrieved. Not much of the ton of metal TCS originally discarded, but enough. Robert believes the rest is entombed in the post IRA bomb concrete 
Robert has painstakingly recreated the typeface, with all the serifs and swashes, and made it available to purchase as a font for the computer generation. Do follow the link to see more pictures and examples. 
TCS would be very annoyed if he knew - but I think that if you have something which is a beautiful work of art, then you should be prepared to share it . Well done Mr Green for turning your obsession into something both beautiful and useful. I suspect William Morris and Emery Walker would have been pleased with your commitment.