Sunday 29 January 2012

A misty, moisty morning.

So, there we were around 7.30 one morning last week, the Senior Partner and I lying in bed, drinking tea and listening to TMS (Test Match Special) on BBC Radio 4.
It was day three of the Pakistan v England Test Match in Abu Dhabi, England were bowling and Pakistan had a long way to go to catch up.
During a lull, CMJ (Christopher Martin Jenkins) described the scene before him as " a misty, moisty morning". 

He said he thought it was a line from an old fashioned nursery rhyme, one that I had never heard of.
I googled it to find out more as I think it describes exactly the view that I had through the window this morning.

One misty, moisty, morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
There I met an old man
All clothed in leather

All clothed in leather,
With a cap under his chin.
How do you do?
And how do you do?
And how do you do again?

By the way, in case it interests you, England were 72 all out in their second innings. Shocking!

Linking this misty, moisty post to 
the Tablescapers Seasonal Sundays
 Mary's Mosaic Monday @ the little red house.

Friday 27 January 2012

Pink Saturday

The opening page of my 2012 scrapbook.
A nostalgic look back at my 4 year old self as a bridesmaid to Joan.
The journaling reads:
Learn from yesterday
Live for today
Hope for tomorrow

Joining Beverley @How Sweet The Sound
Pink Saturday

At last week's Pink Saturday gathering I discovered a wonderful blog that I know many of you already follow.
A Scrapbook of Inspiration is a truly scrumptious place 
and Karen has very generously offered to share some of her beautiful designs with us all.
Click here to see them for yourself

Wednesday 25 January 2012

What's in a name?

My grandparents Eliza and John William Smith had seven children, three boys and four girls, my dad was the first born and was also christened John William.
As a child they called him Billy, when he grew up he was known always as Bill.
Eliza and JW. Snr named their other two sons Gordon and Harry, then they reverted back to names beginning with the letter J for the girls who were; Joan, June, Jean and Jessie.
Bridesmaids at older brother Gordon's wedding.
L-R June, Jean, Jessie & Joan.
 (the other little bridesmaid was from Mary the bride's) side of the family 
When the first grand child was born (me) Eliza dictated expressed a wish that the J tradition be continued and so I was duly christened Julie Margaret.
However, my mother Eva was also a woman with a strong will and she insisted that everyone call me Margaret.
(4 years later my sister Rhonda was born, no J for her!)
Over the years I've been asked many times "are you Julie or Margaret", it can cause confusion sometimes.
My parents on their wedding day.
Gordon was the best man.
What handsome young men they were.

Gordon, Harry, Joan and Jean all chose not to continue with the J tradition, however June has a daughter, also Julie, and Jessie named her daughter Jane.
After my parents divorced in the early '60's, Dad married Joyce. Another J!
When their daughter was born in 1968 my second sister dodged a bullet too.

This is the first page of the Memory Scrapbook which I created for
Kathryn's 40th birthday.
In my early twenties I decided Margaret was too "old fashioned" and asked everyone to call me Maggie, now only my close family call me by my given name.

Like father, like daughter.
Bill & Maggie or should that be John & Julie?
My dad passed away almost four years ago and we all still miss him very much. 

Joining another J, Miz Jenny, @ off on my tangent 
for this week's
with this very personal tribute to
the letter J.
Jenny Matlock

Friday 20 January 2012


It's been a damp, cold and drizzly week in Normandy so far, no blue skies, crisp white snow or sunshine for us.
A week for staying indoors mooching around, doing chores, tidying, tweaking the mantle piece, excercising with Wii Fit, baking, and reading - lots of reading.
In 2010 some of you may have participated in food for thought hosted by Jain and may be interested to know that Jain and Mary @ home is where the boat is  are hosting food for thought once more with a list of 22 books to read, share and explore in 2012.
Click here for my review of the first book on the list "The Night Circus" over on my other blog

If you're in hibernating mood it's the perfect dreamy read for a cold wintry day.

Friday 13 January 2012

Pink Interlude

What makes a perfect pink interlude?

Book: The Postmistress - Sarah Blake; Tea: Taz - Vanilla Rooibos; Hand knitted pink and white striped mug mat: wonderful gifts from Pondside.
Mug: Cath Kidston.
Joining Beverly @ How Sweet The Sound
Pink Saturday

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Alphabe-Thursday - H is for Hellens Manor

Joining Jenny @ off on my tangent
Jenny Matlock

With a visit to Hellens Manor. Much Marcle.
Hellens Manor and the famous knot garden.
In 1096 Hellens Manor, a beautiful historical house, situated in the lovely Herefordshire village of Much Marcle, became the property of the de Balun family who were witnesses to the signing of the Magna Carta by King John.

In the Spring of 2011 the Senior Partner and I spent an enjoyable afternoon touring the house and gardens.
This door leads into the medieval part of the house.
This post is really all about the photo's that we took that day, with just a little bit of info gleaned from the tour guide and the brochure we were handed as the tour began.
The Stone Hall has a Minstrel's Gallery and a great fireplace which bears the crest of the Black prince.
In the 14th century the house was the property of the Earl Of Gloucester.
His nephew James, a companion to the Black Prince, rented Hellens Manor in exchange for a pair of silver spurs.
He later leased the house to Walter Helyon, who gave his name to the Manor.

The great fireplace in the Stone Hall bears the crest of the Black Prince.
His descendants have lived at Hellens ever since and it has always remained a home and not a museum.

In the 16th century Hetty Walwyn, a daughter of the house, ran away with her lover.
She returned years later, destitute apart from a diamond ring. She was imprisoned in a locked room with iron bars at the windows, for the rest of her life.
She used a small bell as her only means of communication with the rest of the household.
It is believed that she haunts the house, still ringing a bell.
This case contains the family coronet and some items said to have belonged to Anne Boleyn.
The rooms are filled with inherited paintings, furniture and decorations, most are family heirlooms.
Some belonged to Anne Boleyn, Mary Tudor, the Earl of Essex (a favourite of Elizabeth I) and Charles I.
Bloody Mary's chamber.
At great expense to the family a room was prepared for Bloody Mary and her tutor Featherstone, it is also said to be haunted.

In the early part of the 20th century Hellens passed into the hands of Lady Helena Gleichen one of Queen Victoria's neices.
Her decendants, the Munthe family, have created a charitable trust in order to keep the house running.
The richly panelled Music Room, which is used by the family when in residence, has a large stone fireplace, on the mantel above are family photographs.

I hope you've enjoyed my virtual guided tour of Hellens Manor and if you would like to learn more about Hellens then click here to go to the website.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

In which I return to Wii Fit Boot Camp

After many months of being AWOL I returned to Wii Fit boot camp for more punishment healthy exercise.
Sgt. Major Wii Board informed me that it had been 205 days since I last appeared on parade.
Although I was happy to learn that I had lost a few pounds, since that last training session, I soon realised that my Mini Mii - Em- needed a make-over, so, I updated the hairstyle (and colour!) changed eye glasses, refreshed her lipstick and headed for the track.

As my previous target weight/date had long passed I set a new one and devised a 45 -60 minute exercise programme to do every day.
Beginning with some simple yoga positions, followed by stretching and breathing, moving on to balance training (very important for the over sixties!), step class, jogging and cycling ending with more yoga and stretching.
I may (or may not) keep you up to date on my progress, my hope is to shed a couple of kilos before our visit to the Amalfi coast in April, which I’m assured will call for a lot of walking.
Have you started a new exercise regime this month?
Losing weight and getting fit comes in at #1 on Time Magazine’s Top Ten Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions, I have tried and failed to fulfil this resolution myself many times.
This time I'm thinking more "taking care of my health in a positive way" rather than setting some impossible goal which I'll never reach, maybe this is the year I’ll succeed?

Sunday 8 January 2012

Copycat Mantlepiece

This morning, inspired by a photograph from my Homes & Antiques magazine 2012 calendar, I decided to create a new look for the mantlepiece in the room we lovingly refer to as the Library.
Even though our fireplace isn't as elaborate as theirs, in fact it's very plain indeed, and my mirror isn't oval or silver, it's rectangular and gilt (!) I collected a few bits and pieces from around the house and set to work.

A pair of chinese blue and white vases purchased at auction in Hungerford, Berks, UK over 30 years ago, some pieces from my Nana's wedding china, a vintage French pewter candelabra and a small Bristol blue vase.

Once all the Christmas decor has been packed away the clean surfaces left behind give us the opportunity to rethink what goes where and try new looks.
I think I like this new mantlepiece but I may tweak it in the coming days, I usually do tweak things once or twice!

What about you, have you been tempted to try a new look or do you always prefer to maintain the status quo?
Joining Mary @ Boogieboard Cottage
Boogieboard Cottage


and a new party hosted by

Friday 6 January 2012

Friday's Daffs!

Last Friday I posted about the first daffodils that were coming up in our garden and I've tried to post a daffodil shot every day of this first week of 2012.There were 3 when I wrote that first post and today I counted 11, not bad for one week.

Yesterday the weather was so bad I couldn't get a shot but the sun has been out for a short while this afternoon and so out I went, too.
After moving some of the dead leaves that are mulching the ground beneath (alright I've been too lazy to clear them away) I found plenty more shoots and also a few daffodil bulbs that some creature has dug up (possibly a field mouse) and started nibbling on.
I quickly dug a large hole and popped those back in, they'll possibly survive and bloom later in the Spring.
Hopefully my Normandy daffs have cheered up the first few days of January for you, I know that they bring a smile to my face each time I see them, even on the gloomiest day.

If one daffodil is worth a thousand pleasures, then one is
too few.
William Wordsworth
Linking to the
First Potpourri Party of 2012
with Honey @ 2805

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Alphabe-Thursday. G is for Gavotte

It's been a while since I've shared pictures of beautiful antique and vintage pieces of Quimper faïence.
For this week's Alphabe-Thursday with Mrs Matlock @ Off On My Tangent I created a mosaic featuring two plates, a tall and slender jug, a bowl, and a two wall pockets, one shaped as an umbrella and the other in the form of a ladies slipper.

What these beautiful pieces all have in common is the hand painted motif of a young Breton couple, captured mid-step whilst dancing a country folk dance called a Gavotte.
These pieces have all been part of our collection at some time but sadly all belong in other collections now!
The Gavotte remains popular in Brittany to this day and you will often see it demonstrated during the many wonderful festivals held throughout Brittany during the summer months.

Beautiful costumes
Festival de Cornouaille  July 2002
Click here to visit the Festival de Cornouaille 2012 website.
If you are planning a trip to Brittany this year you shouldn't miss this wonderful event.

Daily daffodil

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Rain, rain and more rain.

It's been raining nonstop it seems since Christmas Day, but it isn't cold so I shouldn't complain.
On New Year's Day we took a walk down by the river but soon discovered the water level had risen so high that the surrounding fields were flooded.
No surprise really, it happens every January.

What made this year different, though, was M'selle Fleur who hadn't experienced flooded fields before.

She's a real water baby, she ran and splashed around for ages.
On the way back to the car we met three young ladies out enjoying a gentle hack, we exchanged several pleasant Bonne Année 's.

The winds were practically gale force this morning when I bolted outside to take my daily daffodil shot.
They were all dancing around in the wind so the shot is a little blurry, I'm afraid.

So, I think I'll be staying indoors for the rest of the day, perhaps I'll even take a snooze with a favourite Ted and this very special hot water bottle, a wonderful Christmas gift from the ever thoughtful SP.

Linking this post to Bunny Jean's Wednesday's Bunny Hop party.

Hope you're safe, warm and dry today, wherever you are.

Monday 2 January 2012

Daily Daffodil

The daffodil is our doorside queen;
She pushes upward the sword already,
To spot with sunshine the early green.

William Cullen Bryant
(no relation!)

Sunday 1 January 2012

A Transformative Year of Delight and Discovery.

Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote the book "Simple Abundance" in 1995 and a copy of it has been on my bedside table for over six years now. Some of you reading this post may possibly have a copy, I've personally gifted it to several friends over the years.

If you would like to visit SBB's Simple Abundance website there is a link on my sidebar.
For the first couple of years I read a page every single day, in the following years I dipped into it now and then when I felt the need of some support.
For some reason I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be a year of change for the Senior Partner and I, there's talk of moving back to the UK maybe this year maybe next, and our planned visit to Hilton Head, SC. in October could well be our last.
As I said there's a feeling that this year may be different, we shall see!
So, I'm turning to Simple Abundance once again on the first day of January, a month full of new beginnings, so that I can be reminded that "the authentic self is the Soul made visible", I feel sure it will help me to face the challenges as they come up.
On a lighter note...............
Some who commented on my last post were surprised to see daffodils in our garden at Christmas/NewYear.

Although it will be several weeks yet until we have wonderful displays such as the one above, most of the flower beds have signs of life and look like this,

and there seems to be at least one impatient daffodil appearing somewhere in the garden every day.
Sheila @ Starshine Through My Windows  saw her first snow fall in November and is, like many others, only imagining daffodils on New Year's Day.
Her comment has prompted me to take a daily daffodil photograph in order to share a little bit more of Normandy Life with my blogging friends.
Here's todays little guy.

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.

Joining The Tablescaper, with this first post of 2012, for Seasonal Sundays.
A weekly gathering where we share what's happening in our own corner of the world,
why not join us?