Monday 24 December 2012

To One & All!

Wherever you are, whoever you're with, come best wishes to you and yours this festive season, with special Blogland Hugs from Jinksy. Thanks for dropping by!

Friday 30 November 2012


Believe it or not, I was glad I had mine with me this morning, despite the day starting at 0°C. I had a stock pile of milk bottles to take to a bottle bank, because my local dairy switched suppliers of the sterilised, skimmed milk I prefer, and their new, 500ml bottles have to be re-cycled.

You wouldn't believe how much of a nuisance this proved to be. My standing order was for three pints a week, and the bottles went back to the dairy with the milkman when they were empty.

A change to the lesser measures meant I began ordering more bottles, ergo more trips to the bottle bank. With recent weeks of wet weather, I decided to wait until my glass bottles filled the whole of my trolley,  rather than regularly ending up like a drowned rat taking a single week's worth of glass to the recycle point.

I should have counted how many clonk, crash, shatter noises I created as I slid glass containers down the chutes to meet their fate, but I didn't. Suffice it to say I had a smashing time...

The six foot high metal bins with their three Black Holes of Doom for Glass on their front slope panels, stand like sentinels on the wide pavement near Havant's former Post Office. Now it's no more than a Parcel Office which opens each morning for people to collect items the postmen haven't been able to deliver for them.

As the day crept nearer to noon, the heat of the sun was a whopping 4° (so said the BBC forecast) and I parked on the friendly bench in front of the Parcel Office to do some people watching.

A gent had hands plunged deep in trouser pockets, rouching up his windcheater and inadvertently hoisting his trousers to half mast as a result: a lady with yard long, spindly legs teetered by on huge wedge heeled ankle boots, for all the world like a  human giraffe: a young lad in a track suit wore his red laced trainers untied, and the laces were like writhing snakes up each shoe front.

Considering the low temperatures, it was surprising to see how many braved them in summer like clothing, with no more than a cardigan topper in deference to the chill - though they probably had parked their warm cars just around the corner, while they picked up their parcels, or posted their letters in the box alongside the bins.

The sun was directly facing me, and I was glad I had sunglasses in the depths of my trolley - a leftover from the last of the summer days - so there I sat, with them perched on my nose, completing the strange picture of what I was wearing - boots, jeans, duffle coat, gloves and  a thermal beanie hat! Oh, to see ourselves as others see us!

Monday 26 November 2012

It's About Time...

I treated myself to another rant.
As ever, it's about WORD VERIFICATION NUMBERS. I have yet to find, after joining the Blogworld in December 2008, that this universal menace has ever had any great bearing on the amount of SPAM, or indeed, Corned Beef, that one receives as a result of removing it from one's blog.

For all Blogger's faults and foibles, of which we know there are many, I do think they have improved their options for SPAM control. The best, I've found, is the COMMENTS page which allows you to mark comments as SPAM, and the FOLLOWERS page which allows you to then remove the perpetrators of said SPAM comments from your corner of Blogland.

There are some people who clearly have a hidden agenda when they sign up to follow you, e.g. somebody who calls themselves a strange name like 'MrXIsWatchingYou', who runs a blog entitled 'HolidayTrips round Timbuktu in a Micrometeorite' my well be assumed to have nefarious motives, not to mention a dodgy assortment of undercover agents waiting to pounce on unsuspecting lady bloggers around the world and send them a deluge of SPAM, though still probably no Corned Beef.

The photo I took this morning, shows what dire methods I often need to resort to in order to decipher the NUMBERS which have recently inflicted the already wobbly-word-verification-nightmare, thus adding insult to injury. They are mostly fuzzy, odd angled shots of peoples' gateposts or front doors, and without the aid of my trusty magnifying glass, as shown, are completely indistinct, illegible and indecipherable, even though I AM NOT A ROBOT!

Obviously, my picture is out of focus, as I was holding the magnifying glass in my left hand, while trying to manipulate my camera controls with my right, and my eyeballs have yet to learn the trick of looking in two places at once,

I'm working on that... But only if you promise me to at least THINK about removing Word verification from your blog...

Friday 23 November 2012

Recycling Circles?

Back in 2008, one of my first few posts was about Freecyle, an organization which helps recycle 'stuff'. Members offer, or request items and no money changes hands. After my initial enthusiasm, I put my membership on hold - until recently.

A large , black, Dalek shaped compost bin I'd bought with ideas of being 'green', turned out to be a white elephant, as my kitchen and garden waste proved to have the wrong ingredients for making compost.

So I rejoined Freecycle a week ago, and within twenty four hours a keen gardener had come and collected my, to me, useless bin...

I must explain, it was designed to stand on the earth - not my unavoidable concrete slabs - thus it had no base. Once he had taken it on his merry way, I was left with this...

Don't you think it look's like a dragon's nest, where all the baby dragons have struggled from their eggshells and flown away, back to a land of myth and magic?

If you click on the word Freecycle at the start of this post, you can read how this all started!

Sunday 18 November 2012

Learning zone?

Found a wonderful piece of advice on Mr Kindergarten's blog, and possibly the best way for you to enjoy it too, is to sit back and enjoy the six minute video right here.

Toolbox Project Introduction (2012) - 6:30 from Peter Hwosch on Vimeo.

I think the world would be a happier place if adults could have their own toolbox always on hand, too..

Friday 16 November 2012

What, you missed me?!

 Sorry, Merisi and anybody else who's come calling on the off chance of a Napple Note or two. I've been caught in a whirlwind of writing classes- poetry and prose and editing for other people- and so the days go by with Napple taking a back seat.

And to prove I've been having fun, I'm going to let you read my latest flight of fancy and see if anybody can think up a good plot line for how this yarn might develop?! The working title is 'The Cottage'...

 It started as an ordinary day. Ever increasing daylight infiltrated like a spy, and the room came into focus through the lingering darkness. A chest of drawers cowered beside a Granddaddy wardrobe; a laid back nursing chair as good as yawned at me from one corner, while a swing mirror stood like a sentry in another.  The usual crowd of onlookers was waiting for me to perform my Morning Ritual Dance.

This always started with a Quilt Arabesque, while each foot fought to be the last to touch the cold floor. My Aunt’s cottage was basic. No central heating, but with an afterthought bathroom added downstairs and old sash windows in every room which made sure fresh air was compulsory , day and night.  At least the pump out in the yard was now decorative only, and hot and cold water was on tap. Very civilized.

A quick pas de deux with my dressing gown, once my toes had wriggled into sheepskin slippers, and I was ready to exit left with a bundle of clothes no costumier would countenance: jeans: T-shirt: sweater and as many thermal undies as possible.

But the curtain came down on my light hearted, theatrical mood as I opened the bedroom door, for there on the landing was my Aunt’s body, throat ripped apart and congealed blood puddled on the floorboards. Even if the cottage had been connected to a telephone line, I couldn’t have found the breath to call for help…

The blanket of silence over the cottage reassured me that whoever the killer had been, they were long gone, and I was in no immediate danger, but it was difficult to find courage enough to step round blood and body to get to the bathroom – which I needed desperately now, before I added further to the mess on the floor, either by being sick or wetting myself...

Once I’d made it there and both stomach and bladder were under control, I was thankful for the hot water that helped stop my shivers – at least, those due to the cold; the ones caused by shock were liable to take longer to disappear. But somehow, I dried, dressed and readied myself to run down to the village.  Thrusting my feet into the boots I’d left on the rug below my duffle coat, I grabbed scarf and gloves from the shelf above, and was glad to close the front door behind me.

At the end of the lane, I looked back up the hill.  From this distance, the cottage looked welcoming, but… I knew what lay inside…

Saturday 6 October 2012

On The Assumption...

You can't have too much of a Good Thing,  thanks to Mutti, here is Bunce in Amalfi, too! Yesterday, Mutti was in the picture on her own, and she has now presented me with Bro, ditto. LOL
I also have this picture of the Arno, in Florence, to keep you in holiday mood, but am tempted to  photoshop out that crane. I bet they had nothing like that to help them build the original houses along that stretch of water...

And here's another bridge in Florence, for good measure...

Friday 5 October 2012

Wish You Were Here?

Doesn't it look like the start of a perfect evening? My Bro and Sis-in-law pootled around Italy, after they left England, and now they are safely back in New Zealand, some pictures are filtering though for me to 'Oo' and 'Ah' over, so I thought I'd let you join me in 'Ooing'at this one..
Just imagine how grand it would be to have a view like this from your balcony...

Friday 28 September 2012

I Am A Magnet....

...I collect. What? Well, anything, really; not from a conscious, rational decision, but a sort of 'creeping-up-behind-me-accumulation-of-stuff'' effect. It all depends on what I've been busy doing over the past few days, or weeks, or let's face it, months.

At the heart of this colourful still life is a clip top storage box, designed to accommodate exactly the kind of small items any craft addict will understand. But then, the lid of this handy box turns into a shelf and in next to no time, certain items take root and the whole assemblage begins to acquire the appearance of a Still Life arrangement for Budding Artists. Note the capital letters, which imbue this statement with gravitas.

Now the 'stuff'' becomes merely an interplay of form and colour, something to be appreciated in its own right, and my sense of propriety and tidiness flies out the window. It has its own persona, this group of items, with a story ready to sprout from each one.

A box of rubber bands I bought while I was still at work, which dates them as being at least five years old, were recently brought into play when I needed to bundle something up - I forget what (!) - but their bright blue carton goes so well with the blue clip on the box, and contrasts delightfully with the  green, Scotch Magic Tape container in the foreground...

Then there's an added visual zing from the pink and turquoise pair of compasses, attached to a sad, red and black pencil which has seen better days.  It echoes the scarlet head of the bird who's lost his tweet and, at the top of the picture, the ribbon badge, unraveled, which was once the emblem of some charity campaign.

There's a delicate, wooden filigree  bookmark which came all the way from China - a gift from a workmate - and it's silken cord adds its rich gold tone to the acid yellow of the bird's underbelly. He was a Christmas present from a neighbour, who knew well my sense of fun. For several years, the slightest movement would start up a tweeting song from this warbler, but now his battery has expired, and there's no way to replace it.

So to the casual observer this may be a heap of detritus, but to me, it's a living story, still being written today, for the box of pins, there amongst the heap, will aid me in a dressmaking enterprise this very afternoon!

Wednesday 19 September 2012

And In The Daytime

One tiny blue star from my nighttime photo in the previous post, comes into its own, against the dappled foliage. While the sun shone, I took my new camera outside, to see how the screen visibility fared in the bright light, and I must say, I was impressed.

 As luck would have it, an obliging butterfly
flittered to rest on the shrub, long enough for me to click the shutter. There have been far fewer around this year than last, so I was pleased this one was not camera shy today.

I couldn't blame his friends from staying away from my garden, which has had containers devoid of any blooming plants all summer - and the word blooming may be read as an expletive, as well as a horticultural expression! Extremes of sun and rain made my paved sun trap an inhospitable place for pot plants, although the few shrubs with their feet firmly planted in the soil have battled on bravely to create a symphony in shades of green, for which I have been extremely thankful. Mother Nature is such a great gardener when left to her own devices!

Saturday 15 September 2012

The Night Garden

During the past week when my brother and sister-in-law stayed with me, the Autumn weather was particularly kind. It blessed us with much sunshine, which was rather astonishing, as S-i-L is renowned for being a bit of a rain goddess on the quiet! As the intrepid travelers have zoomed around the world during their long years together, many countries could bear witness to this fact. Hehehe!

But this time, the sun smiled - except of course at night. The darkness tempted me to try the 'night mode' setting on my latest camera, and I rather liked this Flower Moon with its tiny, satellite bud which appears to shed its own light on the Choysia leaves in the foreground. I was surprised at how the rest of the nearby foliage remained in shadow...

Anyhow, it prompted me to create this blog post, which has to be a good thing, when you see how long ago it was that the previous one made it to the screen - says she in apologetic fashion...

And also from my night garden, here's the little blue stars that were twinkling at me, too.  How small and shy they look, dwarfed by the spray of huge leaves beside them. Who knows, perhaps my next post will have some daylight pictures, too...

Sunday 5 August 2012


Waiting for a story to start...

On BBC Rdio4 this morning. Something Understood was all about stories. I didn't hear the original broadcast, but thanks to  iPlayer, and a tip off from a blogpal, I could listen later, at my leisure. It gave this quote as an introduction:-

"Novelist Jake Arnott believes narrative is a powerful force. He thinks the instinct to create stories is innate within us, and is vital to our understanding of the world."

I'd certainly recommend bloggers listen to this iPlayer programme, if they can,  for aren't all of us trying to be storytellers in one way or another?

And on this same subject - a new blog has recently been born, which will be showcasing a collection of longer short stories  (I love that contradiction!) by the indomitable Doctor FTSE - but  a Doctor FTSE in serious mode.
The blog is called Once or Twice Upon a Time.
If you are looking for a substantial bite of a literary feast,  why not settle down with a cuppa while you read a story or two from the Doctor's new menu?  I'm sure you will find its choices more satisfying than many of the other dishes already on offer in Blogland.

Wednesday 1 August 2012


Having discovered this, how could I not share it? *smiles*

Sunday 1 July 2012

Saturday Special On Sunday

Okay, I will hold my hand up from the very first. This is not even remotely connected to the Tennis Theme on yesterday's Sepia Saturday, nor is it even vaguely historical, as it was taken this year.

But the fortuitous picture one of my nieces took of her Ma and Pa, AKA my brother and sister-in-law, lent itself so beautifully to the delights of graphic manipulation, that I couldn't resist posting this version today - simply because it pleased me mightily, when a click of my mouse brought it to light.

Well, if I'm honest, it was several clicks of the mouse, as I first turned it onto a colourful, psychedelic rendition, once it hit my Photoshop.   Beyond that point I plumped for a more restrained, tonal result, but then decided the stark black and white was too harsh, and thus was born the sepia image you see before you.

I've tried to email it to both the photographer and her subjects, but think that gremlins may have prevented them receiving it. Now I hope, they may eventually see it here!

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Some TV Is GOOD!

Image courtesy of The Telegraph
Taking one of my niece's blackboard reminders from my previous post, I have to say that last night,  BBC's first installment of a five part documentary, showed how good TV can be.
(You can read the full story if you click on the link in the caption of the photo, or if you're quick, you can watch it on iPlayer HERE)

Three families each spent a week living facsimile lives of  three very different Edwardian families -  lower, middle or upper class - their houses cheek by jowl on one street, but equipped according to status.

There was no going back to 21st century lives each time the cameras stopped rolling. Oh, No! The pattern of their lives followed their historical counterparts twenty four seven.

The younger children from the upper class household had a full time Nanny, and their parents soon realised how at odds with present day family life this arrangement was, with only a couple of hours interaction per day between parent and child. Nanny was a substitute for both mother and father.
Father lead a somewhat lonely life of leisure, but Mother and eldest daughter, incarcerated at home, almost died of boredom - until they discovered the delights of bicycling.

I think the two youngest of the middle class children were below school age, but they were the most traumatised to begin with, when their father suddenly turned into the strictest of ''My word is law, and children should be seen and not heard!' kind of parent. In fact, it was not long before he chose to ignore the given script, and cuddle his small son. Their teenage daughter was co-opted to the role of a virtual unpaid servant, there to assist Mother in the running of the home, while Father spent a long day working as a clerk in a local government office.

But the unwary teenage daughters of the lowest class home had a rude awakening, when they realised they needed to work to supplement the family income, for their father had no permanent employment, but had to go out into the real world each day, to find any casual work he could. The eldest girl was taken on as a scullery maid in the 'rich' house two doors away, while her sister and their mother, took in washing to earn a few pennies.

Although this lowliest family of the group had the hardest task to survive on the pittance they earned, their teamwork  served to give them a true, family spirit, and despite deprivation, it became clear they had the most rewarding emotional life.

Children from the other two classes would have been lucky, back in the day, if they managed to survive emotionally, with virtually no parental loving as we understand it today...

I can't wait to see next Tuesday's installment of the series.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

House Rules

My enterprising niece has several painted surfaces in her kitchen, specifically for writing on. This is actually a black cupboard door with white writing, but I chose the negative version as being a tad easier to read, I thought - plus black has never been one of my favourite colours.
But her latest effort on the fridge I give you exactly as she intended! Don't you just love it to bits?

Saturday 16 June 2012


At art college, we were always encouraged to 'make the most from the least', and I can't help thinking this is a good thing to do in all kinds of circumstances.  The concept ties in well with 'small is beautiful', too, if you  think about it. Life doesn't have to be one huge, exciting spectacle, to make one feel good to be alive.
Once our focus goes into 'macro mode' - which all photographers will understand instantly - even a humdrum day can present us with delight: the laugh of a child: a bird singing:  a friendly 'Hello'. Each tiny moment, when given its true worth in the scheme of things, becomes magnified.
And when I begin playing with graphic images, the same thing happens.
A photo my son took, using only his mobile phone, has provided rich pickings for my imagination over the past day or two.        
From this incredible image, came a series of creations, which if you scroll upwards on In Tandem from the post I've linked here , you will see how, by applying the 'most from the least' principle, I arrived at the surreal image I entitled 'Oracle'.
I honed in on this detail, for it 'spoke' to me, as you might say, asking to be noticed.
On the left, a wise old bird  sits on a branch outside his tree-house, while a laid back tortoise seeks his advice, in the best traditions of Greek Oracles!
I rest my case.
But talking about wisdom, there's a whole heap of that to be had if you click here In Tandem, thanks to Khalil Gibran.
And I think my post should have been written Thursday, to comply with this!

Friday 15 June 2012

It's Experiment Time!

With two inquiries about the possibility of owning a print of my graphic the other day, I decided this morning to see what kind of a job would make of it, so I've asked for an A3 poster, which will cost me the princely sum of £4.80.
If I managed to save and send my file in an acceptable quality - and so far, they haven't told me it's NBG -I may be able to tell Pearl and Suldog I could indulge their wishes at some future date.

As for me, I think I would quite like to have a print of the 'painting' below, which I did when I first got my Bamboo Tablet.. I'm sure I posted it on some blog, somewhere, but I'm quite happy to have another look at it, and hope you will be too, if you happen to have seen it before.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Only in England...

...would anyone think up an opening ceremony for the Olympic games, which would feature farming and livestock!
You can read all about it HERE.
Long live eccentricity!
When you think about it logically, it does make sense. There is no way our tiny country could hope to compete with the spectacular, opening whizz-bangs and glitz of the previous production in Beijing, so why try? What we do have, is a 'green and pleasant land', enough to make many less fortunate spots on the earth, merely green with envy.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Now I have a taste for it....

...for what? Waffle blogging, of course, about whatever comes to mind! This morning, I'm gloating at the music of Beethoven, and a clever contraption as pictured here, on the right.
It's a Roberts Radio Stream 83i, which uses its magic, internet radio sounds to fill my day with glory, since I treated myself to one. At the moment, Herbert Von Karajan has just finished his rendition of the Symphony no.5 in C minor, opus 67 (2. Andante con Moto) according to the scrolling information on its little blue screen.
And here he is, just for you...
The joy about the internet bit, is that I can choose a composer listed by Abacus FM on computer, and listen to uninterrupted, crystal clear music to suit my mood. Yesterday it was the turn of Mozart. Who knows what it might be tomorrow? Not I! I shall play it by ear, when tomorrow comes. Hehehe!

Tuesday 12 June 2012

It comes to something...

...when people start asking, "Where are you?"  Or rather, "Why have you been a lazy git and not posted anything lately?"
Yesterday, my cousin in Bournemouth, and Merisi, my Blogpal in Vienna both thought the same thing, so this morning, I determined to get my act together to produce another Napple Note. This is the result:-

"What, a picture?" I hear you cry."Where is the waffle?"
That comes next, in this case. It will be no surprise to UK residents in the South, when I tell how we've been blessed with more than out fair share of the wet stuff, recently.

As I braved the elements to retrieve my green wheely bin from the spot on the pavement where the bin man had deigned to abandon it, after emptying, I was entranced by the crystal-raindrop necklaces on the montbretia outside my door.

"That will be good for a blogphoto" says I to myself, and rushed to grab my cheapo Canon.

It's so long since I last played with it, I was fumbling to find the macro option, when a trio of figures walked past, and I snapped them instead, taken as I was by the Mum-and-daughter, matching pink wellie boots.

However, in my haste, the picture was blurry, and not fit for human consumption...until...aah! A little Photoshop magic, and this image asked to be saved. I thought it captured the puddle-strewn feel of the morning quite well, and the funny face of the parked car in the top left quarter of the picture, made me smile - as I hope it will you. I do believe Napple could waffle about anything...

Please, click on the Merisi link I've put in for you, and you will see how REAL photographs should look!

And specially for RWP, here is the original, blurry shot, as it appeared on my camera - sideways!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Keeping It In The Family?

No, not skeletons in the cupboard, but a delightful propensity to burst forth in rhyme! The story behind the example I intend to share with you today, goes thus...

 My Bro and I have nicknames for each other, which date back to our teenage years - ''Herb' and 'Pud', respectively, if you really want to know, but that would be another story...

So, in a recent spate of emails, we've been writing a little 'Franglais' to each other, a happy mix of English and not-quite-French , as if you couldn't guess. As luck would have it, he signed one of his missives 'Herbergage', which I chose to alter to 'Herbgarbage', in view of the erudite conversation we'd been holding. (?!)

This morning, in true brotherly fashion, back came this poetic gem:-

 Herbgarbage? HERBGARBAGE?! I suppose you think that's funny!

O weilawei! O lackaday!
Myne owne sustre thenketh
Her broder hys nam to mock.

Nu, Adam hys rib! Unnatured sib!
I'll mak thine een to blenketh!
I'll give thi sic a knock!

Myne nam tis HERBERGAGE I tell thi.
Mi wyf's a witch -- ond nu shee'll spell thi!


PS: Yes, I know 'blenketh' is third person singular, not infinitive. I gave up authenticity for the sake of the rhyme. So sue me. Herb

 How could I not share that with Blogland in general? Perhaps if you read this, you may like to comment in your own version of Olde English - or Anye Othere Olde Tongue - or should that be Tong? Or even Language - or Long-age - or whatever else you choose to invent...

Thursday 10 May 2012

This May Explain...

Why Napple has not been making many notes, recently. After all the Woolly Mammoths (?) crochet projects I've worked on this year, I had such a great assortment of left over bits, that I decided to launch into creating myself a 'coat of many colours' - well, a poncho, anyway.

Having completed 80 motifs, it was decision time as to which to join to what, colourwise. I laid them out in a poncho shape on my carpet, then row by row, picked them up to edge with white and join together. Here's the proof of the pudding. Sorry, poncho.

There was a snag at this point. I had to buy more white yarn, as I knew the 100g  I already had wouldn't be enough...and the snag? I bought a ginormous, 500g ball. This means the remnants of it are sitting looking forlorn. How long will I be able to resist it's unspoken plea for a crochet hook to spin its dreams into reality? Will I never learn?And will I ever reach the bottom of my yarn stash? Perhaps I should keep it under lock and key, out of sight and hopefully, out of mind. For a while, at least!
The luscious fringe, by the way, took the best part of a whole day and a half to cut and tie, so I thought it deserved a photo all its own...
And my next blog post, I promise, will be a yarn far removed from this kind!

Monday 30 April 2012

Still In New Zealand

And not six but sixteen, this other great niece of mine, currently into doing quick change hair colours! I think her Mum said there'd been five over recent weeks. But that's not the reason I had to share this - no - it's because of the magical ability her Mum has to take stunning photographs. Don't you just love 'em?

Saturday 21 April 2012

Arty Farty

Once again, my six year old great niece has come up with a corker of a collage, with additional painting of her own. I simply had to share it. Enjoy!

She seems to have an inbuilt exuberance that transfers itself to the paper, and her artistic mama must be given full credit for encouraging her creative talents at every step along the way. I can hardly wait to see what she will be producing by the time she reaches sixteen...

Sunday 15 April 2012

Good Thinking

I received this handy reminder in an email from my cousin this morning.
I've noticed, many people who forward emails, do so by using a whole string of names and addresses in the 'To" slot, which is just asking for trouble, as my knowledgeable, techy son explained to me when I first began blogging and emailing.
It only needs ONE of those people to be blessed with a computer virus, and it will spread to everyone else on that list, with the speed of light!
The simple expedient of sending mail 'BCC' (blind carbon copy), prevents this annoying possibility.Think on fellow bloggers...

Sunday 8 April 2012

A Hodge-Podge

That's a good name for this patchwork of  photos, as well as my sad collection of tubs and containers, minus flowers! 

After a chance meeting a couple of weeks ago, I was given the name of a friend-of-a-friend's lady gardener. I telephoned, using the wonderful  "You don't know me, but..." opening gambit, which always delights my sense of the ridiculous.

As a result, this lovely person came and inspected the shambolic space outside my patio doors and two days later re-appeared with a tub of tools and plenty of sacks for rubbish. The weather was on our side, and in glorious sunshine she began to set everything to rights.

She pruned and tidied, and I clipped the heap of offcuts into pieces, to stuff into the waiting sacks. Of course, while we worked, we talked, and I learned how she'd had a mother and grandmother who were both interested in gardening. Because of their toting the small girl along when they visited gardens, garden centres and all places of horticultural interest, she learned much, without realising. In fact, she spent many years avoiding anything to do with gardens - until eventually, she became the owner of a house with a large one! 

With both mother and grandmother no longer living, she now began to realise what a wonderful legacy of gardening lore she had acquired from both of them - learned, literally, 'at their knees' back in the days when she was hardly beyond the height of those knobbly appendages of theirs.

Thanks to this trio of ladies, one living, two dead, I can now look forward to having an outdoor area which will soon be a thing of beauty again. Watch this space...

Sunday 25 March 2012

Learn Something New Every Day...

I happened to look up some details on Google, after a picture of my wooden Buddah, which I posted with a poem on Alias Jinksy, brought a query from a blogpal. This is what I found...

"Scholars believe that the Laughing Buddha is in fact modelled on an historical figure, a fat, wandering Zen monk named Pu-tai.
All sources describe him as obese, with wrinkled forehead and a white, protruding belly which he left uncovered.
There was another feature of his bodily appearance that captured attention.
Wherever he went, he carried a pu-tai (Japanese Hotei) or cloth-bag. Thus he came to be known as Pu-tai Hoshang, or hemp-bag monk.
Legend has it that in this bag he carried candy for the children. Over the centuries within China, Buddhist notions of happiness based on self-mastery and enlightened insight were fused with popular Chinese life-ideals of happiness through material prosperity, so today the hemp sack may be interpreted as being filled with gold, with happiness, health, and other aspects of abundance.

Happy Hotei's come in many forms.
  • Laughing Buddha of Love - sitting in love and compassion
  • Laughing Buddha of Prosperity - holding a Ru-Yi Pot or Bowl of Plenty up to the universe for receiving abundance
  • Laughing Buddha of Safe Travel - on a journey with a hemp sack full of protection
  • Laughing Buddha of Happy Home - sitting on a large gold nugget representing solid foundation, with a smaller nugget in his hand to give to others
  • Spiritual Journey Buddha - dressed for the journey in fine robes, with a fan for understanding and a sack to collect insights
  • Laughing Buddha of Long Life - sitting with his fan hat and enjoying the good life!
Hotei travels the country spreading joy and happiness wherever he goes.
His big belly is a symbol of happiness, good luck and generosity. Hotei is the deity of happiness, laughter, abundance and the wisdom of contentment. The image of the Hotei Buddha is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack. It is usually filled with many precious items, including candy for children, food, or the woes of the world. His prayer mala is carved with a symbol meaning "good fortune". His large elongated earlobes are a sign of wisdom. The bag represents fulfillment of wishes or can also be the blessings of Buddha. Happiness is one of the Laughing Buddha's greatest gifts.

Many believe that rubbing the Laughing Buddha's belly brings joy, luck and prosperity. As a result, Feng Shui has adopted the Laughing Buddha as a prime symbol of wealth & prosperity.

He is supposedly the only member of the seven based on an actual person. Back when Buddhist missionary monks were delivering the message & way of Gautama Buddha onto the islands of Japan, they devised a method to more efficiently reach the local Shinto inhabitants. By manifesting Buddhist principles, with Shinto Kami, the monks were successful. Kami are seen as Shinto gods and were worshiped as such.

The Buddhist monastics were able to better communicate their ideology to Japanese natives by using the Kami's as examples in common Buddhist practice. Thus, Buddhism became very widely accepted in Japan and from one of these manifestations, came Hotei."

Now you know as much as me...

Friday 23 March 2012

Time Flies

Especially when blogging takes a back seat, and the driver (me) steers a different course! However, like the proverbial bad  penny, I always turn up eventually...So here I am with a 'free gift' post, ready made, thanks to my Bro in new Zealand. One very early morning this week (3.30am) I gave up on sleep, and came downstairs to the computer, only to find a long email from him, which included this 'Tale Of A Tree'- he's given me permission to share it with you today.

 ".. We went past our old house - the first one we ever bought, the one we lived in for 14 years, from 1979 onwards, while the girls grew up; the one eldest daughter was married from; the one we were so sad to leave. We sold it to the Council a few years ago, when they wanted to widen the road, and there it has sat ever since, empty but cared for, lawns mowed, my old workshop used for storage. And there it stood yesterday, half-way demolished.
Mutti went back today with a camera, spoke to the gang taking the old place to pieces, and was allowed to wander through. Here's a couple of pics: the deck I built (well, the half of it that's still not gone), and the workshop that we built with friends and neighbours to help. So sad.

But one good thing. At the front is a tree. This tree we bought as a three-foot Christmas tree in 1974, but when Christmas was over, I looked at it and thought that, since it still had its roots, I would plant it. And it took, and grew, and for the next few Christmases we would dig it up, with its attendant soil, and put it back in a bucket in the house. When we moved, we told it we were going, dug around it carefully, took it with us and planted it in the next garden. Again, it took. Finally, in 1979, we dug it up again, again explaining what we were doing, and put it in our own garden. It's now huge and grand, and we were saddened to think our first Christmas tree would be cut down. But It isn't going to be. It's been identified as a rare Japanese cedar, and is now a protected tree. It will stand by the new road, proud on its corner. How's that?"

Thursday 1 March 2012

More Play Time


At last, here's a continuation of my dabble in the delights of a theatrical extravaganza.

Having spent weeks working on the costumes, at last came the performances. My singing buddy and I  (Lady Anne and her maid Prudence, remember?) were in four of the little playlets, each enacted at a different location around Chichester.

First we were part of a motley crew storming a building, then members of a hymn singing entourage of a preacher man. Next we had the country dancing to do, but our final scene was the most impressive. We had to station ourselves in the garden of a large and imposing house which had a wonderful set of  high-arched, wrought iron gates, so that at the appropriate time it would appear that we'd rushed from our 'home' to see what all the commotion was.

By the time this stage of the performance began each evening, dusk was falling, and I had to carry a lantern when we trooped to the gates which kept us safe from the 'rabble' outside. This crowd, (armed with a supply of cabbages to throw!) were protesting at the incarceration and possible eventual hanging of a young mother, who had somehow offended the powers that be. It was all very touching, but to tell you the truth, I can't remember whether the cabbages or the law won the battle! I'm pretty sure it was the cabbage throwers who rescued the mother and baby.

'Baby' was a prop supplied by me, a life sized doll wrapped in fake-dirt encrusted swaddling clothes. I have the doll still, and it's wrappers, but they have been restored to their pristine whiteness, thanks to  Persil.
Here's  a photo of the imposing entrance to the Bishop's Palace Garden, which served as ready made scenery for the 'prison'  in the play.
And this illustration give a fair impression of how we all looked in the scene where we had to do our country dancing on the still cobbled road of South Street.

I think there were five performances altogether, but the first in particular caused us much mirth. The horse and waggon which transported the old and infirm amongst the audience from location to location, had passed over the cobbles shortly before we began our dance. We discovered that the horse's digestive system was well regulated, as you might reached the end stage at precisely the time it was trotting over those cobbles, and we had to watch carefully where we placed our feet between the still steaming dollops of manure it gifted us with! And the next night, the horse manage a repeat performance as well as us. After this, word must have got back to the people responsible for feeding the animal so they altered his meal times, for the remaining performances were trouble free...

There are still more tales to tell, but I don't want this post to stretch any longer, so will save them for another day...bear with me, eh? If you missed the previous installments, you can find the first here and the second here.

Linked to Sepia Saturday 

Saturday 25 February 2012

Here I Am!

Bless those of you who have remarked on the conspicuous absence of  Napple Waffle recently. I can now reveal the culprit which took over most of my spare time during daylight hours...this!

OK, so I only took one photo and didn't check I'd got the whole thing in the picture.
But the pointy bit at the bottom, looks exactly the same as the
rest, anyway. Hehehe!
You see, last time my daughter and her family came to see me, the weather was decidedly chilly, and I lent her my poncho to sit in. "Oo, Mum I'd like one of these - but I'd need the neck a bit smaller..."
So I can take a hint...
I had a rather large cone of a wool and silk mix tucked away in a 'safe place', so after they'd gone home, I started on the first of the 192 squares it took to complete.
The wool had not been washed after spinning and dying, so it had about it a somewhat pungent aroma of sheep and chemicals, as well as a rather coarse feel.
But a machine wash in Woolite worked wonders. It now smells sweet and feels as soft and cuddly as one could wish. Normal service may well be resumed forthwith...

My home made pattern instructions have now been posted on In Tandem, for those who wish to have a go at making one for themselves.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Hurrah For The Smitten Image!

No, this is not an advert for a destroyed work of art, smitten by some dire blow from an unseen hand, but a heartfelt THANK YOU extended to one of my long term Blog pals, Hilary. I strongly recommend you go and visit her IMMEDIATELY!  In  this Smitten Image post  she explains, far better than I could, exactly how to rid our screens of Blogger's latest excruciating and farcical Word Verification.

What possessed the originators?
The black and white Ink Blot Alphabet was enough to make all compositors turn in the graves, where no doubt, they had been dispatched at an early age by the resultant heart attacks caused by this insult to calligraphy.
As to the aspersions cast on the intelligence of Bloggers, implying they needed to think more about the word verification letters they were asked to type - well - words fail me!

Please, think seriously about following Hilary's concise instructions for removing this scourge from our busy blogging lives! And take a few minutes to watch the YouTube clip Broken Biro introduced.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Down to basics

Intermission over, I continue from Not Quite Treading The Boards...

Corsets! The costumes for myself and two other ladies I dressed,* had to begin with these old fashioned garments. This picture from Google is similar enough to the ones I made from unbleached calico and boning, to give you a good idea of what ours were like.

Next I had to create voluminous cotton petticoats, demure mob caps and dainty muslin or lace fichus which would give the finishing touches to yet more curtain material gowns - which were the things I enjoyed sewing most.

We were given diagrams which explained the complex stitching of tape loops needed under the skirts, so that a draw string threaded through them could create soft drapes like paniers at the side, or a bustle at the back of each skirt.

The head gear started life as modern sunhats which I  steamed, re-shaped and painted, in the case of the one for My Lady.

Then in a charity shop I found a pair of black brogues, similar to these, for maidservant Prudence, while the other ladies wore  simple flat shoes, and we were ready for the show to begin...

Continued from earlier post...*HERE 

Through the week, I'd intended to tell a couple of fun stories associated with all these theatrical shenanigans, but once I began writing, it turned into something else. Bear with me, the funny bits will surface eventually... Meantime, I'll share a little more with Sepia Saturday, whatever colour the post turns out to be...
Still to be continued...