Friday 31 August 2018

Scarlet And Black

I suddenly thought about this book yesterday, for the first time in years. I bought it and read it in 1975 when I was a student. I had a boyfriend who was studying French and he said it was essential reading. I remember nothing about it - and I cannot find it on my bookshelf now. I recall that it is set in France, two hundred years ago, and that's all. And it is not as good as Madame Bovary  But that's all I remember, other than the title.What brought it to mind was what happened yesterday afternoon;
Cycling home from Lunch Club at church, I noticed some brambles growing alongside the cycle path. 
I stopped and picked blackberries for 10 minutes. When I got home, I remembered there were a few blackcurrants on the bush in the garden. I took the berries in, and came outside with another bowl to pick the currants. 
There was a loud noise, and suddenly overhead, I saw the Red  Arrows, circling in the sky above, clearly practising for the Bournemouth Air Show this weekend. It is always so exciting to see them. I wasn't prepared for taking a photo, and I am no good at shooting planes anyway [I once attempted to take pictures of the Red Bull Display in Budapest and ended up with lots of shots of clear blue sky!]
But the bright scarlet colours of the planes contrasted with the juicy black fruit in my bowl - and I remembered that neglected volume.
I hope to read Madame Bovary again sometime. My attempts to pare down the shelves and rid myself of volumes not worth keeping are going very slowly. I have that terrible Hoarders' Habit of "I must just check it through before I let it go". Someone recently sent me this cartoon as a warning!

Thursday 30 August 2018

All's Well That Ends In Wells

I completely forgot to post these pictures! We were watching the Look East BBC News, and saw this wonderful clip [do check it out, only 48 seconds long]
This summer, there has been an Art Trail at Wells next the Sea, up on the Norfolk coast. One of the pieces is The Lifeboat Horse - based on the horses that used to pull the boat out into the water to be launched in years gone by.
It is situated on the marsh bank opposite the quay - and as the tide rises and falls, the horse is submerged then revealed.This whetted our appetite, and so we planned a day in Wells to walk the trail. Liz, Jon and Rosie came with us, and we planned to eat lunch on The Albatros. Initially things went a little pear shaped - unfortunately they weren't serving food till 2pm. The men pushed the buggy up and down the quayside, and Liz and I queued at the chippy.  Then a member of staff came out and said there was a fault with the fryers - no more food being served there. We moved to the next chippy and queued there - but on collecting our food, there were no seats left. So we took our grub and sat by the water to eat it [Rosie not 100% sure about this!]. After lunch, Bob and I did most of the trail, then met up with the others. The artworks were strictly temporary, 'just for the summer'. They have all been sold now, and will be taken away soon - but the popularity of the horse means a permanent copy of it is to be made and sited on the marsh.

Once we'd met up again with the others, we rode on the little train to the beach.

Rosie made a sandcastle [with Grandma's help] and the others dozed in the sunshine. Then Liz watched our stuff, whilst Rosie and I paddled, and Jon and Bob walked back to fetch the car. A lovely ending to a great family day out.

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Boxes, Beads, Brushes...And Breakages

There's something very satisfying about a morning spent sorting and tidying. Bob was in the garage working at the lathe- and I managed to fill a large box with stuff for the C.S. 
I also filled a jiffy bag with unwanted jewellery for the Alzheimer's Society - unpartnered ear-rings, broken necklaces, damaged brooches- they can use them all to raise funds! 

Whilst sorting, I found this beaded necklace in my drawer. Steph gave it to me some months ago - she said she'd stopped wearing it because it was broken in two places [and the seed beads kept scattering everywhere] It was surprisingly easy to fix- so that's winging its way back to Manchester now.

I rediscovered the new toothbrushes which I had mislaid before the holiday - just a few days after giving up and buying another pair. The first lot are now safely in the bathroom cabinet until needed. I have my regular dental check up next week. The surgery rang on Friday to say Mr P has gone part-time. Did I want to see him particularly? In which case it would not be until December. Or I could see Ms F-P instead, on the date booked. "That's fine" I said. "She does usually see Robert" replied the receptionist. For a moment, I thought "Who's Robert?" then realised she meant Bob! ['usually' is a bit of an exaggeration - he came back from his checkup in July, and said he had been surprised to see a different dentist, as he was expecting Mr P and it was a woman instead]

But there were some mildly frustrating moments too. Somehow the little bag with my holiday knitting has been sat upon - and the short plastic needles are now in many bits! I'll be explaining the holiday knitting project very soon.

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Salisbury Is Open!

Following the Novichok incidents earlier in the year, Salisbury traders banded together to encourage people to come into the city with a 'Salisbury is Open' campaign. We both really enjoy visiting there, but life's been a little busy of late.
However, yesterday we did manage a trip. As part of the campaign, the Park'n'Ride is completely free at the moment. Usually we'd pay £4 for the pair of us to park the car all day, and travel right into the city centre and back. That's a good deal - but free is even better!
We had a good wander around, mostly just window shopping, some places were opening late [or not at all] because of the Bank Holiday. I treated myself to 3 books for £1 in Barnardo's [I hadn't worn my yellow coat all summer, and was delighted to find a pound coin lurking in the pocket]
The town appears to be fully up and running again - the police cordon round the park was lifted on Friday. There was a Save the Children Fundraiser in the Cathedral Close [tombolas, face-painting, storytelling and kids' crafts] and people setting up an acrobatic display in the Market Square. The Golden Gallopers were turning happily and children loving the ride

Over the weekend there had been an Art Trail - but the rain had left some of the origami paper cranes and guerrilla-knit flowers looking a little bedraggled.
The umbrellas, however, looked splendid
We enjoyed coffee and croissants in Reeves the Bakers.
I was particularly taken with their decor - in the café upstairs, they've used the beaters from defunct industrial sized food mixers to good effect...
After coffee, we strolled along to the Museum. Our annual membership gets us in any time, and includes the 'specials'
This summer they've had an exhibition entitled "Henry Lamb- out of the shadows". No, me neither- but it seems he was friends with the Bloomsbury Group [I know about them - sometimes they met in the blue-plaqued house which is now the location of Rosie's Nursery!] and great mates with Stanley Spencer and Augustus John.
Born[1883] in Australia, he grew up in Manchester, where he did medical training. He ran away to marry Nina Forrest aka Euphemia [then that went wrong and he married again- this time to Pansy Pakenham, daughter of the Earl of Longford] He finished his training at Guys Hospital and went out to France in WW1.
I liked his sketches of the soldiers - he captured the aching posture, the resigned expression of the British Tommy tramping through the rain. When WW2 started, he became an official War artist. 
He painted many unusual portraits - both of famous people, an unknown characters. He lived in Poole, and then near Salisbury. He died in 1960. I must find out some more about him!
The exhibition is well curated, showing the different stages in his life - pre-war, WW1, inter-war, WW2, post-war. Many of the pictures have come from the IWM collection, others from the Manchester City Art Gallery. I shall have to go and spend a week with Steph and Gary sometime and check the rest out!

Then a brief look round the rest of the museum...the embroidered reticule took my fancy, and also the little caps in the dressing up area!
My hair seems to have faded to a shade lighter over the summer!

Here we are sitting on the top floor of the Museum in the beautiful Ceramics Room.

And here's Café Rouge where our belated Anniversary lunch was delicious Moules Mariniére.

Meanwhile "Salisbury Keeps Calm and Carries On"
Please don't let what happened earlier in the year put you off- this is a city well worth visiting!

Monday 27 August 2018

We Saw Winston Churchill Last Tuesday!

No, not the great statesman - we saw the Steam Road Locomotive named after him! It was on a trailer, we passed it on the M11. Like us, it was making the long journey down to Dorset.
Built in Thetford, Norfolk, in 1922 at the wonderful Charles Burrell Engine Works, this beautiful piece of vintage engineering was travelling down to be [part of the Great Dorset Steam Fair.
Now, I had heard of the GDSF before we came to Ferndown - mainly because when I had been at events in Leicestershire and Norfolk, where such machinery is displayed, vehicles often had signboards declaring "Shown at GDSF 1990, 2001, 2004" etc.
But I didn't know then why our local fair is the 'great' one. 
But I have learned more in recent years...
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the event, and there will be 500 engines on show. Here's the official video from Thursday [Day 1] sadly Sunday was very wet and many of the engines had to be protected with tarpaulins. 

You can read all about the GDSF here - how one man's passion to save these glorious examples of Industrial Revolution Technology took over his life [and his home] and he became an inspiration to other enthusiasts. Michael Oliver's legacy has now passed on to his son, Martin. 
When the Winston Churchill Engine was built, in 1922, he was already considered a great statesman [people nowadays tend to focus on his later years and WW2].  It was towards the end of production at Burrell's works. The end of WW1, the Depression, and the increase in the use of the "infernal" combustion engine mean steam powered equipment was falling out of favour. The last engines steamed away in 1928.
I'm hoping that we can get to visit the Burrell Museum in October [ downside- it has limited opening hours, upside- it's free entry!] to find out more about steam powered engineering.
On the subject of great statesman - what do you know about Guiseppe Garibaldi? 
150 years ago, the British people considered him a hero - it is said that when this Italian general came over to visit Queen Victoria, the nation closed down for 3 days! He is credited with being one of the prime movers in the re-unification of the nation of Italy. 
Back then name was on everyone's lips. Nowadays, he only gets mentioned in terms of the biscuit he inspired [so I guess his name remains on our lips]
Jonathan Carr, of the Scottish biscuit family [the famous factory still in Carlisle] had moved south to work for rival Peek Freans, and came up with the idea for this biscuit, latching on to GGs national popularity. It is believed GG never actually ate one himself.
Somehow the dry, currant filled treat became incredibly popular - the 5 segments attached in a perforated strip somehow adding to the appeal.
I'm quite partial to them myself [they frequently appear on a plate alongside the tea urn at church events up and down the country]
But I haven't fancied them at all this summer - our childhood nickname was 'squashed fly biscuits' or 'dead fly biscuits'  Unfortunately I looked down at the pale brown laminate flooring in the lounge at Cornerstones, after Bob had been busy with the flyspray - and realised it looked just like a giant Garibaldi biscuit!
I'm sticking with custard creams for a bit. 

Sunday 26 August 2018

Turning Over A New Leaf

Another of those older phrases frequently misunderstood by the younger generation. It has nothing to do with foliage, but rather dates back to the time when people wrote things down in books. If you made a mistake, you turned the leaf [aka page] and started afresh.
For many of us the end of August marks the end of the academic year. Exam results are out, and that will determine what happens next for many young people. Younger students will be thinking about the start of term, buying new uniforms, maybe choosing a new lunchbox or pencil case.
I was always happy when term started and we were issued with new exercise books. Trying to write neatly and keeping it beautiful. And about the second week of term, having a disaster with my fountain pen and "blotting my copybook" - and somehow feeling I'd spoiled things yet again.
The other morning I woke up around 6am and watched the most beautiful sunrise. The sky turned from grey to pink to golden to blue...
Another new day, another fresh start. 
Whatever went awry yesterday, the things I didn't get quite right [and theres a few things on the list] ...despite my failings, I know God doesn't stop loving me. He forgives me, and helps me, and by his grace, I have the opportunity to 'turn over a new leaf'
There's an Old Testament book which gets rather neglected - possibly because of its off-putting title "The Lamentations of Jeremiah". In chapter 3 there are these lovely, encouraging verses
The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER fails
His mercies NEVER come to an end 
They are new EVERY morning 
GREAT is your faithfulness, O Lord

Saturday 25 August 2018

To Mr Almond

Brilliant father
and husband

Whether you are wielding the pancake pan, or the Japanese sword, 
enjoying the seaside or the city

Never forget, come rain or shine
I'll be right behind you!
Thank you for 39 wonderful years of being Mrs Almond!

Friday 24 August 2018


I have a friend who uses this expression, trinklements, to mean knickknacks/trinkets/ornaments - I think the Jewish-American term term is tchotchkes. A decorative item with no real purpose. 
I have definitely been responsible for the production of a lot of trinklements this week! A friend asked me if I could run a couple of textiles workshops as part of the children's holiday activities she has been organising this summer.
So I got out my trusty Fiskars Bird Die, and on Wednesday cut out loads of felt lovebirds and wings. We spent Thursday morning sewing and embellishing birds- and then hanging them on linen threads so they could be suspended at a window or from a dressing table mirror, or something. 

The age range was 8 to adult [parents got involved too - it was lovely to be able to teach one Mum how to embroider French Knots] and I felt the results were good. 
The youngest began by saying she wanted to use Pritt stick and glue, not sew [because when they sewed at school, she couldn't do it, and the teacher got impatient with her] With a little encouragement she tried with a needle, and never looked back!
This morning we will be making Owls [the theme for the activities this summer has been flying creatures - so they've already done artwork involving bees, butterflies and dragonflies]

Thursday 23 August 2018

Don't Lose The Thread!

Isn't this the most fascinating box? It was passed on by a friend with some other haberdashery which had belonged to his late wife.
Inside, some reels of Sphinx Irish Linen thread, and some intriguingly named "Manlove's Unity Soft Thread" 
On the bottom of the box, I discover that worker #40 was responsible for the original contents, and it is "aircraft material" [what does that mean?]
The thread is a creamy colour - or, as the label on the side quaintly describes it "whitey brown"  
What am I planning to do with this today?
I hope to share pictures with you tomorrow... 

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Let The Waters Teem...

...with swarms of living creatures, said the Lord [Genesis 1:20]
Many of us have been distressed by all those photos of oceans full of plastic waste. But this week I came across some beautiful ocean pictures which I wanted to share. Ryo Minemizu, a Japanese photographer, has spent twenty years perfecting his technique. He spends between 2 and 8 hours a day underwater, taking pictures of plankton. These minuscule creatures measure between 2 and 40mm in length. He says
Plankton are intriguing and beautiful creatures. They symbolise how precious life is by their tiny existence. I wanted other people to see them as they are in the sea-that was my motivation for beginning to shoot plankton underwater, which is quite a challenge. Most plankton are so small and their movements are hard to predict. I have devoted my past 20 years to presenting their tiny figures, colours and textures to capture their vivid beauty
His Black Water Dive Technique, using special lights at night, illuminates these tiny animals, revealing their stunning beauty. Enjoy...