Monday, 29 November 2010

Here We Go Again

With a threat of snow creeping ever closer, being able to escape to Blogland is twice as appealing.  But it's only now, with my supper bubbling away and teasing my nostrils, that I can take a few moments to put together a post which has been hovering in the sidelines since this morning.

A last minute luncheon guest kept me occupied in Napple Mansion's soup kitchen  this morning, before I could entertain her in the Great Banqueting Hall... Hah! Who am I kidding? But Blogland can be anything we care to imagine, right?

Can't you see the two of us at opposite ends of the mile long Carved Oak table, dressed in our finest ermine and pearls, supping soup from golden plates? If you can, then your imagination is even better than mine!

But culinary matters were the order of the day for Monday's Child, too, for this was the illustration by Blanche Fisher Wright that was on offer today, and here comes my interpretation of it, for gastronomes everywhere.

For Adults Only 

There was a tradition
in many a kitchen
of making Christmas Pudding
from scratch, including
flour an' fat an' fruit an' spice
and bread an' eggs an' all things nice.

Some silver coins would be hidden
in the mix, and you'd be bidden
to stir it thrice and make a wish
over this fancy Christmas dish.

Now the puds come ready made.
They're boxed, and carefully displayed
on well stacked supermarket shelves.
They're not like ones we made ourselves,
round and wrapped in pudding cloth...

When came the time to take this off,
the pud was topped with flaming brandy,
then cream or custard came in handy,
for they added  an extra charm -
though many a stomach came to harm
from overindulging at Christmas dinner
which never did make a body thinner!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

But Today Is All You'd Expect

 i.e. Saturday and Sepia - sort of!
Thanks once again to my Dad for the drawings, and to Alan Burnett and Kat Mortensen for dreaming up Sepia Saturday in the first place!

With November being the month when the subject of war continues to be a topic of conversation, I thought I'd use these three sketches to look back at 1939/40 from my father's viewpoint at the time.

Friday, 26 November 2010

It's Not Sepia, And Today Isn't Saturday

But on looking in my picture files, I came across this fairytale row of houses and I couldn't remember having posted them for everyone to see, although I know I've emailed them to some of my Blogpals.  I'm sorry for those of you who have seen them before, but aren't they extraordinary?

They always make me think of  the Gingerbread House of  Hansel and Gretel fame, and they couldn't be further removed from modern day, sleek lined architecture if they tried. There are no others around the town that look like this, so it begs the question, what were the planning department thinking when they allowed them to be built? Perhaps no such body existed then, so that any old builder with money in his pocket could indulge a whim, and create these flights of fancy. Well, what would you call them?
How far removed are they from the elegant, if slightly less than perpendicular, row of cottages, a little to the left of this bend in the road?

I'm not sure whether I tilted the camera at an odd angle when I took the photos, or whether ancient builders failed to use plumb lines, but the more I tried to choose which upright to align with the edge of my screen, the harder became the choice. Nevertheless, you can see Havant is a quaint and charming place - bit like its inhabitants I guess, says she, chortling...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A Cold And Frosty Morning

Here in Napple's Nook it's the kind of day that makes you think of woolly socks and hot drinks at regular intervals, and as my last post was (vaguely) weather related, and today's will be (vaguely) connected to a cup, you can see how my mind has been working. Or not.

Chilly days often freeze the inspiration too, but the picture prompt from Willow was enough to light a small fire under mine and I produced a few lines, which I shall lay before you eventually. But not before a dose of waffle.I expect many of you are relieved I have stopped doling out medicinal compound of this kind on a daily basis. With the dreaded countdown to Christmas beginning to wind back the Shopping Days' numbers at an alarming rate, most Bloggers will be happy to have less posts on their reading list. Aren't I being thoughtful?

But I have to admit, each start of the week finds me looking forward to playing along with Monday's Child  and Stony River who keep my brain ticking over in Alias Jinksy mode, even though this can mean Napple keeps her mouth shut for a day or three. Remember, silence is golden.

So as promised (or threatened) here is the Magpie Tales picture, and my latest offering.

A Cup, A Cup...

Cup your hands under your chin
and let the memories begin-
of lazy, Alice In Wonderland days,
of Cup Runneth Over secret ways
we followed, each one filled to the brim
with happiness.So together we basked in
our new found love and carefree laughter
and drank a toast, "To ever after!"
But this cup has been drained dry
and bitter dregs blow in our eyes
now, from a sudden teacup sandstorm.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Not Another Weathermap?

I was looking at some Photopaint images I have stored on the computer, and this one made me think of the wind that has been swirling around at times during the past week... Though it certainly wasn't in the warm pink temperature range, being more reminiscent of blue faces and blue moods of winter, with its unexpectedly chilly blasts..

You would never guess what this image started its life as, so I'll tell you. It was my two small granddaughters.  Dressed to the nines in full Princess Regalia when they were still both knee high to a grasshopper, as the saying goes, they posed proudly for my camera when they came to visit. An idle moment found me playing with different options on the Arcsoft programme I used at the time, and further dabbling with Paint created this whirling vortex which I decided had a certain charm all its own.

I still find it puzzling that a random set of shapes and colours can suddenly make one think "That's it! Don't change a thing!" But I suppose every creative artist, no matter what their preferred medium, reaches the same conclusion eventually, or no music,  no writing, no pictures and no craft work would ever be completed and offered to public view.

Once any of these works are let loose in the world, they too swirl in vortices of their own, blown on the winds of chance...


I've no idea who this represents, so leave it to your imagination! Although the second of Dad's sketches for today needs no introduction...
I apologise for the messy strip of Sellotape across the top of this scanned page. One of these days, I'll have to crop the picture and tidy up the finished result !

Both are in answer to yet another Sepia Saturday, where I'm sure you can find more treasures from the past.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Now A Bit Of Nonsense

If I were a turkey now Thanksgiving's nigh
I'd be worried that I might end up in a pie!
But if you should catch me
and pluck out my feathers -
then I'd need  a warm coat
to wear out in all weathers!

This is down to the Monday's Child prompt for this week, which gave me a chance to give my blogpals  across the pond a little grin.   The illustration is by Michelle Lana.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A Bit Of Romance ...

  ...Wouldn't go amiss for this week's Sepia Saturday, I think, so here's a photograph of my parents on their wedding day, June 1st, 1936. Now you can see for yourself the artist who was behind the drawings I've been posting for Sepia Saturday recently, and the very hand that held the pencil!
Mum's wedding veil was eventually used to make a Christening robe for me, which was then adapted into a short dress - the sorry remnants of which I still have to this day.

Click on the link to see other people's sepia sensations.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Waterlogged Spa

It's no secret, we've had more than out fair share of rain this year, in all parts of the country. A friend was describing how his driveway was beginning to resemble a babbling brook, and this gave me a nudge to write a little something for a Flash, seeing as how it's Friday again, and the G-man, alias Mr Knowitall, is hovering. Here it is then, with no further ado, a little splash of exactly fifty five words.

Floater's Dance

There, on a path where water is rushing
over shingled drive not intended for gushing
streams, leaves huddle, form a raft.
Without map or compass this craft
will continue to dance to skirling song
of wind and rain. Who knows how long
the piper has called this same tune
in other lands, under different moons?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Emily Greenleafe

On Summer walks down to a nearby sea-shore
we would discuss which of the routes to take-
across the tussocks in the cow-pat field
or by dim-shadowed lanes that wind below
boughs of elderflower, hawthorn, oak
and beech?
                   Another path would bring us into
the peaceful graveyard of a Saxon church,
where chiselled names left shadows in our minds    
sharper than those cast on weathered headstones.

Our favourite by far, was Emily Greenleafe.
We'd stop to say 'Hello', and felt  by doing so
our thoughts reached out, perhaps tip-tinged with grief,
from this, our present 'now', back to her 'then'.
She would have known these self same country paths,
that all lead down to meet with harbour tides,
where seagulls send their plaintive cries to sea
as echoes riding winds from distant lands.

This has been simmering for a couple of weeks now, and The Poetry Bus driver, Jessica, asked us to write about bathing. I decided to ignore bathrooms, and take my ablutions to the sea, hence giving a very loose connection to this poem which has been occupying my thoughts!

And to get back to a bathroom theme, here's a re-run of a poem I wrote much earlier! The Gurgler. Now I demand two tickets for the price of one, Jessica.

There's a Gurgler in my sink
and I think he wants a drink.
When I slowly shift the plug,
that is when he starts to glug
as the water's rushing down.
I do hope that he won't drown.   
It can't be very nice to swallow
soapy water from a hollow
gushing, pipe (so dark and gloomy!)
in the sink of my bathroomy.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Awards? Hmm...

Today, Blogpals all, I present to you my newly created B.A.award! Despite my carefully added Extra Edit to yesterday's post, it would seem some of you still consider the Red Badge I displayed then as some kind of honour. Think again! I'd hardly pushed the publish post button, before I realised that clicking on said badge merely served as a means of advertising the courses at ten different American scholastic institutions - absolutely nothing to do with furthering a community spirit amongst poetically minded Bloggers.
Thanks to the IT know how and definite community spirit of four long time Bloglander pals - Shadow, AC, Hilary and Gerry - the insidious advertising link was banished to the back of beyond in less time than it takes to say 'Foiled again, Moriarty'.

I have emailed the Jen Hughes who sent me the original email notification of the 'award', and will be exceedingly interested, should I ever receive a reply. While a decision to advertise any site we choose via our Blogs is a God given right in my view, that does NOT cover being made to link to one purely as a hidden agenda by another person.

So now, if your get an email entitled 'Master Blog!' from Jen Hughes, you will know before you accept her offer, that you are being used as a pawn in a different game.

And now, just for Smitonious and Sonata, a special little something :-

An unscrupulous lady called Jen
once tried to entice me, and then
she added a link
which lead in a blink
to a website I shan't visit agen - er - again?

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Now What?

I had an email last week, telling me my blog had been recognised by a team from Blogger, as deserving of recognition. There was an embed code for the above badge, but, me being a dimbo, I have no idea how to insert it anywhere on my side bar. I've resorted to putting it into an ordinary post. Now I'm sitting back and waiting for some kind person to explain how to put it anywhere else - only polite answers, please!

N.B. On 29/12/2012 and I've had a spam email from  one purporting to be, asking that links from this be removed. As far as I can tell, there are now no links from this post, but I leave the logo as a warning to others. I would say meanwhile... Caveat Emptor...

This was their explanation of what the whole thing is about:-

Love to write poetry? Love the sound of visual and kinesthetic imagery? The way a poem can say what you feel in fewer words than even a short story can? Do you breathe in simile, exhale metaphor and enjoy the presence of assonance and alliteration? Then writing poetry is for you. Already know these basic terms? Want to go beyond them? Good news. These award winning blogs are for you. Learn from the masters how to best apply the terms you know. Improve the poems you have written; seek for a pattern scheme that better reflects your work and intent. Share what you have learned with others. These blogs will get you started.

As far as I can see, only good things can come from being part of such a community...I did ask for more information, and this was the next reply I got:-

The objective of the award is not just to recognize the great blogs that are out there, but also to create a community in which a blog can be used as a resource for others. We want anyone that has the yearning to educate themselves  in a specific area, to be able to know they can come to one place, and connect. The resources we've acknowledged and recognized, are blogs we think can educate and help someone learn more about that topic.
Aside from the educational aspect, we want those who blog about topics to connect, whether they already know each other or not. There may be just that one that we find to have a great blog, who doesn't know anyone else that blogs about their topic. This is where we come in and hope that you could display the badge in order to show yourself as a proud part of our community.  We want to connect the blogging community, not only to share ideas, but also to find motivation, strength and encouragement in each other.

The Blogger team actually found your site. They found that it fitted the criteria needed to be part of our community.

Some of the attributes of the criteria were: content, affiliations (relevancy to the actual blog itself), and posts (also pertaining to the relevancy of the subject of the blog), to name just a a few.

A list of other blogs that have been chosen can be seen  HERE  but don't expect to be able to link directly to any of the blogs you find on it! The cynicism is beginning to creep in...

Late Edition Extra

Thanks to the help and advice of tried and trusted Blogpals, the gratuitous link to ten different universities which was incorporated in the so called 'Badge', has now been removed, and I shall go to bed tonight a sadder and a wiser person. As my philosophy has always been to be a 'Mrs do as you would be done by, not a Mrs done by as you did' (see The Water Babies by Charles Kingsly for the origin of this reference) I will no doubt continue to be too trusting for my own good, but I shall now revert to my original declaration, that this is an award free blog!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Turn Back Time

No, nothing to do with changing clocks, but an attempt by the BBC to show us how different High Street shopping was in the 1870's. For a week, they had a group of modern shopkeepers take over some empty shops in a neglected Market Square in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

This photo ( thanks to the BBC article) shows the grocer, who along with a baker, a butcher and an ironmonger cum blacksmith cum candlestick maker(!), spent a week plying their trades under the same conditions their predecessors would have had to contend with two centuries ago - no electricity, no running water, no women allowed to serve in the front shop...
The grocer probably had the easiest task - the female members of his family had to work in the back room, weighing and wrapping goods to order, while he played the jovial showman front of house - especially on Market Day, when he sold cuts from a giant cheese, outside his shop. When the shop had became overfull of customers waiting for the wrapping/weighing process to be completed, he decided to revert to the old tradition of merely taking orders, then having goods delivered directly to the customer's homes.

The butcher and his son had one huge Gloucester Old Spot pig delivered, with the challenge of selling every scrap of it by the end of the week. When you learn it took six men to manhandle this beastie into the shop, it should give you an idea of its size. With the only refrigeration supplied by a few enormous ice blocks in metal cages, the need for selling quickly was obvious, though there was no such thing as a sell by date back then. Sausages made from the less aesthetic cuts of meat, and encased in the well washed intestines, were a popular choice with shoppers, though an attempt at making pork pies was less successful, as they were put to cook in the baker's oven, then forgotten and burned to a crisp. On the market day, their own version of fast food - i.e. bacon and pea soup (peas pudding) - made them a good profit, as well as pleasing the crowds.

The Ironmonger soon realised he did a better trade from his blacksmith's forge than from behind his counter, and closed the shop. He took on an apprentice and set him to work making candles, while he himself crafted wrought iron candle holders, plus meat hooks for the butcher, and bread knives for the baker. At the end of the week he had made the largest amount of money, totalling about one and a half thousand pounds.

The baker's family had the greatest challenge to contend with, for it was the wife, not the husband, who was the master baker in real life, but in the eighteen hundred's women were not allowed to work in the trade. So the husband, who had never baked a loaf in his life, had to immediately set to work to produce 150 loaves overnight, ready for opening day on the morrow. Needless to say, as he wouldn't listen to any of his wife's gentle hints regarding quantities of salt and water needed to produce decent bread, the results were disastrous - burnt, and too salty by far.
After a crash course with a specialist baker, who gave him a lesson in how to make a profit by adding other ingredients to bulk out the flour (chalk, sawdust, alum and even arsenic were sometimes used!) he opted for the fairly innocuous rice to add to the fine white flour that had been delivered to him, and his bread improved.

The programme made it obvious how difficult life was for all tradesmen, not to mention their families who worked hard behind the scenes, supporting the men. But what it also brought into high relief, was how the  shoppers loved the personal interaction with the shop owners, especially on Market Day, when they turned to showmanship to advertise their wares to passers-by, be it by means of a giant cheese, pig's head complete with glass eyes hung above the shop, homemade candles and holders by the forge, or simply baskets of fresh bread displayed on trestles on the pavement; a far cry indeed from an out of town, all-purpose, impersonal supermarket.