Friday, January 12, 2018

Yes I Remember This Winter 1962 - 1963 UK The Big Freeze

Hi Dear Folk,

I was watching Call The Midwife the XMAS 1962 episode,  depicting the terrible snowstorms that hit the UK I remember that winter.  The lack of daily milk delivery, and if you did receive it the top was all popped off because it froze, the country just shut down. We had a solid fuel Rayburn in the kitchen and we just huddled up. As a child it was great fun, I do remember wrapping up including welly boots and layers of socks and going out to play and having snow ball fights and sledding.

Not so good for my dad he worked for the Eastern Gas Board and he was out on call day and night. Somehow he kept a heater under his lorry just to get it started for call out.  He would have been 35 years old then. My dear dad.

It was terrible though, people died and many animals had to be fed from the air.  Shortages of food, especially fresh food in the shops.  Burst pipes, no water, no gas, no electric.  Cars and trains stuck in snow drifts.  For a child most importantly no school.

You might enjoy this to go along with Call The Midwife.  A must watch to see how very bad it was.  Cliff Michelmore was the news reporter of my childhood.

John Le Carre The Biography by Adam Sisman

Hi Dear Folk,

John Le Carre The Biography by Adam Sisman.

This book is 600 pages long.  I'm sure most people are familiar with John Le Carre the writer.  His real name is David Cornwell.  Probably his most well known books are The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, The Perfect Spy and the Constant Gardener.

Back in 1963 he became known worldwide with the publication of The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.  This was made into a movie staring Richard Burton and Claire Bloom.  Most of his earlier novels were based on spies MI5 and MI6 and the Cold War of Iron Curtain years.  His more recent novels have touched on a number of issues such as Pharmaceutical Companies in the Constant Gardener, set in Kenya and The Tailor of Panama, a country that only came into existence because of the USA and the Panama Canal.

Cornwell had a sad "hug-less" childhood, in the care of a "totally" hopeless father who was a charming womanizer and a charismatic con man.  They would rise and fall from living in mansions and driving round in a Rolls Royce to his father being in prison.  A common expression of his father was "I'll see you right son."  Much of his childhood and father was put into The Perfect Spy.

To say the least it was a very unconventional childhood.  He went to some of the better public schools, but his father always owed money for his tuition and usually the school would land up paying some of his fees.  He excelled in languages and totally immersed himself in German literature, language and the culture.  An excellent advantage for a cold war spy.  He was recruited by MI5 and MI6 during a year that he spent studying in Switzerland as a teenager and later at Oxford where he spied on a number of his fellow students who were thought to have communist leanings.  An appointment to a government job they had applied to might never come through and they would never know why.

MI5 was not a very impressive organisation.  'For a while you wondered whether the fools were really pretending to be fools, as some kind of deception,' David wrote later; 'but alas, the reality was the mediocrity. Ex-colonial policemen mingling with failed academics, failed lawyers, failed missionaries and failed debutantes gave our canteen the amorphous quality of an Old School outing on the Orient Express.  Everyone seemed to smell of failure.  Many of the older men seemed to be living on credit they had accumulated from their wartime records,  David noted wryly that 'anyone who was old enough to have fought Hitler was deemed a hero.'  Stella Rimington, who would eventually rise to become MI5 first female Director-General, has related how, even at the end of the 1960's 'the ethos had not changed very much from the days when a small group of military officers, all male of course and all close colleagues working in great secrecy pitted their wits against the enemy.'

It was very much an old boys society, many having known each other from their public school days. The country club view not open to Jews and Blacks. Interesting that Stella Rimington was the first to raise doubts about Kim Philby.

Looking back at his career with MI5 more than thirty years afterwards David would write that 'it was witch-hunt time,'

After a while David transferred to F4, the section responsible for agent-running.  The 'agent' is confusing, because it has different meanings in British and American parlance.  In America, an 'agent' is used to mean an intelligence officer, as in 'FBI agent'; but in Britain, it means an individual who is paid or persuaded by an intelligence officer to provide information about the Communist Party, or any other organisation deemed to be subversive.

David hit back at 'the whole oppressive weight of political correctness, a form of modern McCarthyism in reverse',  He insisted on his right, as a non-Jew but as a convinced supporter of the nation state of Israel, to condemn Israeli actions without being branded an anti-Semite.  

I like the terminology "modern McCarthyism in reverse."

In 2005 David had suggested that Britain might be sliding towards fascism.  'Mussolini's definition of fascism was that when you can't distinguish corporate powers from governmental power, you are on the way to a fascist state.  If you throw in God power and media power, that's where we are now,' he told an interviewer from the Guardian.  When asked if he was saying that Britain had become a fascist state, he replied, 'Does is strike you as democratic?'

He has been with many publishing houses over the years, but decided in later life to publish his old classics with Penguin Classics, to keep them out there.  All his manuscripts and work have been donated to the Bodleian in Oxford.

His books are always current based on things happening in the world, he is a prolific writer and has had many #1 best sellers.  He takes time to travel to political hot spots, seeking out people in the know all this is fodder for his books.

Penguin marked the fiftieth anniversary of the first publication of The Spy who Came in from the Cold in August 2013, with a special edition, featuring a retro cover design, archival images and a new afterword from David.

Yes, we must both keep writing, keep creating, it's the only weapon against death.  When I'm writing properly I still feel 23.  When I'm not, I can hardly sleep for despair;  such an awful life in so many ways, and looks so terribly impressive from the outside.  But the inside has been such a ferment of buried anger and lovelessness from childhood that is was sometimes almost uncontainable.

If a few words could sum up his life. maybe the above quote could.

Asked how it felt to be eighty, David replied that is seemed premature:

It was always in the contract, I just didn't know they would deliver so soon.  But it's okay, I feel ready to die.  I've had an incredibly good life, an exciting one.  I've got 13 grandchildren and fantastic wives for my sons.  I was the bridge they had to cross to get from my father to life ... I find it very difficult to read my own stuff, but I look at it with satisfaction.  So if it were over very soon, I would not feel anything except gratitude.  To have had my life and be ungrateful for it would be a sin.

A most interesting biography and well written, with access to David Cornwell's, friends, colleagues, unpublished photos from the family archives as well as lovers and enemies.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

I Tried To Keep Positive

Hi Dear Folk,

I think yesterday was my worst commuting day to Philly in the year I have been traveling to work by train.  I already told you of my commute in, so commute home, running on a Saturday schedule my train leaves at 5:31PM I get down there on time, first thing I see is thirty minutes late and it just kept getting worse, until an hour had gone past.  Now all this time you are sitting in an underground platform totally open to the elements, there is no heated waiting room, it is 10F out.

It just reminded me of the scene in the sixties version of Dr Zhivago, where the Pasternak's are sitting on the Moscow train platform in the middle of winter waiting for a train to come to take them to the Urals, and they can't leave the platform because they don't know when the train will come and they will loose their spot, that's how I felt.  With my crochet shawl wrapped tightly around my shoulders and head.  Trying to keep warm was a major problem.

Train gets to University City and it cannot come any further another frozen switch, so from somewhere probably the yard, a totally empty train pulls into the station that says Trenton on it, opens the doors and across the speakers they say "don't get in," I don't know why we would have as all on the platform were waiting for the Manayunk/NST train, then they announce this is now the NST Train, we all get on the train, and proceed to sit there for another twenty minutes in the station with the doors open, because now there is not going to be a 6:31PM train and maybe not anymore for a long while, so they are trying to get everybody on the train.  On to Jefferson Station in Philly and we wait there another ten minutes with the doors open.  After that it was a regular ride home the usual hour.  I did not get home gone 8:00PM having been out of the house for over twelve hours and five of those were traveling and out in the cold.  Needless to say I was frozen and had a bad headache.

The transportation system in the USA is so archaic and fractured as is most of everything.  SEPTA runs some of it's own branch lines, but other lines they run on belong to AMTRAK so rent those.  In some places SEPTA lines run on the outside and AMTRAK runs two lines in the center, so very often SEPTA has to wait for AMTRAK as they own the lines and also have to cross over AMTRAK and therefore switches, but train switches are normal.  It boggles my mind that they get frozen, what do they do in Norway and Sweden?  Nobody wants to spend any money in infrastructure, that's the problem.

Wa! Wa! Wa!  I know just had to get that off my chest.

Beautiful sunny day today, and the whole day ahead.  Hope your weekend is good.

Talking about fractured and fragmented, I was listening to a program about apprenticeships in Germany, where a young person can learn a trade.  They are apprenticed for a period of three years and at the end they come out a master worker in their trade.  A company sponsors this at about a cost of $10,000 and they earn a lower wage while being taught, by the second year they are doing about sixty percent of the work they would be doing when totally qualified.  It seems Trump wants to implement that here, but as was bought out our school system is so fractured, for one thing from state to state.  But it gets worse than that because the money to pay for schools is collected from your local borough taxes, not even county taxes.  You can see how there can be a wide difference in quality of schooling according to wealth of area.  Progression is Borough, County, State, Federal.

We do have trade schools but not closely associated enough with companies, also thought is not clever enough to go to college, so stigmatized, which is ridiculous and therefore a deficit of skilled people in the trades.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Life Happens

Hi Dear Folk,

What a day, just getting into work was a trek.  Arrive at the station and find out from a SEPTA person that all trains are running on a Saturday schedule, that means no 8:15AM train, the next one is 8:45AM, no point in going home just sat in the car with the engine running.  Walk back up to the platform, now find out after sitting there a while, and you must remember we are in a cold freeze, temperature is 10F, train will be thirty minutes late.  Yesterday it snowed and the trains ran on time, if not slow on the tracks.  Today it seems they have a frozen switch problem.  My boss even said they have lit literal fires by them to unfreeze them, really?  Don't they have a switch warmer or something?  What do they do in Canada?  Our train coming up from Delaware could not make it because of this problem so they had to take a train out of the yard, that has to be in Philly and send it up the line for us, my stop is at the end of the line.  After all this I arrive at work at about 10:45AM to come in late on our company President's New Year address.  Thank goodness late trains are a viable excuse.

Below was going to be a post on it's own, I know I've referred to this quote before.  Try and live in the moment and not wish you were somewhere else, make the best of it.  Did get to read more of my John LeCarre biography.

A statement which I think is so simple and yet so profound -

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon had this quote in one of his songs Beautiful Boy, but I'm sure it was around before that.  We have all sorts of plans and goals for the future, while life is in the present.

I want to make definite plans for the future but they keep getting thwarted.  Mostly by the follow up on my eyelid surgery.  I have to go back again in March and may need some tweaks at that time, not sure how much more is involved, so will need to keep my health insurance going and that means I've got to stick with my job until all this business is sorted out.  By the time all this is finished it will probably be a year from the time I made my first appointment, I had no idea it would take this long and would have started earlier.

Be happy in the moment and make tentative plans for the future.  A trip to UK to visit family is on my agenda for this year, even if it is later in the year, rather than earlier.

Keep warm up North.


P.S.  Just talking to one of the vendors that I deal with in Maine and he said the high tide with this full moon came right up over the piers in Portland and flooded out many places on the waterfront.   Flooded out and as cold as this must be terrible.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Zahav, Cooking Israeli

Hi Dear Folk,

From my Zahav cookbook, what we made last week.  Tierney and I had a cooking afternoon together, it was fun.

This is the rugelach we made, such a rich pastry, sour cream, unsalted butter and cream cheese.  We did not cook all at the same time and halved the ingredients and put them in the fridge, they refrigerate well. Could be made ahead of time and then put together and cooked.

Our meat pie came out looking the same and it's a tasty pie.  Cuts beautifully into pieces.

This Tabbouleh salad with parsley and peas is most refreshing.


Monday, January 1, 2018


Hi Dear Folk,

Just wanted to say thank you for those who follow my blog, share their thoughts, their hearts and their passions.  I am touched by all.

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

My Little Woodland Tales Agenda Notebook

Hi Dear Folk,

My little Woodland Tales book for the coming year.  I'm still trying to decide if I want to keep a journal as well, as this is a small agenda book, not much room for keeping extended thoughts, not so sure how many I have these days, but sometimes I surprise myself.

The woodland pictures are lovely, especially Mr. Fox.


New year's Day A Going Away Dinner

Hi Dear Folk,

Tierney is catching her flight back to Boston and I thought I'd have a nice going away dinner, typical roast chicken and stuffing with roast potatoes and roast sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, Yorkshire pudding, flat but tasty and gravy.

I forgot to take a photo at the table with all of us.  Isn't that always the way you get into serving and eating the food and forget.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Once I Was

Hi Dear Folk,

I had plans for this morning but they were cancelled because of the snow which is still coming down. So I decided to hunker down have a cup of tea and light the fire.

The Boys are working on installing a new kitchen tap.  As we have not had water in the kitchen for two days.  Something about the water converter to the spray thing jamming shut.  Needless to say no water in the kitchen is a major problem.  Not quite sure how this is all going to go and whether at the end of it all we will still need to get a plumber in, "oh yea of little faith" but I'm hoping for the best.

The best was achieved and I have new working kitchen taps.  The joint project between dad and son went well, even having to come up with a tool they made to take a ring out of the plastic tubing, which they couldn't get unscrewed.

Second time in two weeks I have cleaned out this under sink cupboard.  I thought I was doing so well to get it cleaned out and then of course it had to be done all over again.

Yesterday we did make our trip to Lambertville and New Hope.  It was a very cold day and the Delaware River has ice floating down.  We parked the car looked around a shop and then an antique collective emporium.  Tierney fell in love with a designer Parisian black wool felt hat which she bought, we had fun looking around.

We were able to find the restaurant that I wanted to eat at quite easily Marhaba we had a Tabbouleh appetizer and I had a Pita Sabich and Tierney had the Gyro, all with cold mint tea.  The food is delicious, lovely and fresh.  The inside has north African rugs on the wall and lamps.  Will definitely eat there again.  I heard the waitress say they were having a belly dancer that night.

After that we drove across the bridge back into Pennsylvania, New Hope, and I took Tierney to the little French Patisserie, owned by a French Chef, so the real deal.  I had a Pistachio Horn, the shell was like a thin brickle with pistachio cream and a chai latte Tierney had a coffee latte and a chocolate, raspberry and white mouse confection, all delicious.

We took a little walk up the street, but by then it was 4:00PM the sun was setting and it was getting quite cold, so decided to call it a day and drive home.

We had picked my old Mandarin dress from the cleaners and Tierney loves it.  I cannot believe I was actually that thin, many a moon ago.

Yes once upon a time a girl visited China Town, San Francisco and bought a dress.  I was thrilled to see it worn again and to relive my youth. I always loved the fabric and colours of this dress, not garish but subtle.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Eating Israeli Food

Hi Dear Folk,

It’s freezing over here 15 Fahrenheit, cold and with a wind. I’m wearing a Peruvian jumper I bought at the thrift, just to keep warm.  Crazy with the train this morning almost missed it because first they weren’t running because of over head wire problems and then they decided to run it.  So because I was a bit later this morning I made it on the train, all the ones who arrived earlier had left thinking the train was not running.

I parked the car and then a guy walking past said the train is not running, so I thought let me drive up to the platform area and see what’s going on, did not park the car properly or pay for my parking space, then the train conductor says we are going to run the train then they shut the door, where I am standing and I said hold on, which he did, he's standing further down the platform. I had to run down get my bag out of the car and then phone Bob to come and park it properly and pay for parking, totally crazy.  Fortunately I made the train. You feel like you’ve done a days work before you even get to work.

Tierney, Rob's GF, is down for the week as she has this week off work, and is flying back on first of January.  Yesterday we cooked some Israeli recipes out of my cook book.  A meat pie and a variation on a tabbouleh salad, both good.  Also some rugula small pastries, which have sour cream, butter and cream cheese in the dough and the filling is hazelnut and date.  I could not find any hazelnuts, only ones with powdered cocoa on so I bought those and we used them.  The meat pie was very good with cinnamon and parsley in.  We went for the easy way out using ready made puff pastry and I had to substitute flax seeds for sesame seeds on top, was delicious.  In the salad we were able to use fresh parsley cut out of the garden that day, unbelievable that it is OK, after all these freezing temperatures, unfortunately no mint, it’s all dead for the season.  Was fun cooking together in my small kitchen.

Tomorrow we plan to go to New Hope and across the river into NJ, Lambertville and eat out at a Middle Eastern Restaurant.  At least that's the plan but can always change.

I have a silver plated Victorian pickle stand, tongs and lid, but no cranberry glass insert, so I am going to look for one in some of the antique shops in Lambertville, or maybe thrifts.  I originally bought it in a thrift for $1.00 and with the glass is worth well over $100.  If I found a painted cranberry glass even more.  It took me a while to figure out what it was used for, is quite ornate.  It actually came with two matching tongs, so there must have been another one, but the tongs landed up in this package at the thrift.

I am so getting used to short work weeks and will be hard put to go back to a four day week.

Two more shops have bit the dust in my area, they moved my small Aldi's one of the original ones to the USA down the road to what I would call a yuppy location, and a much larger store so now it's a bit of a trek for the little goodies I liked to pick up.  Also my local family owned produce and plant store closed, I will certainly miss them come springtime.  Now where to go for garden plants?

Bye for now.  Hope you are keeping warm up north.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Panamanian Potato Salad

Hi Dear Folk,

I was talking with my friend who is originally from Puerto Rico, and came to the States as a child.  Her family were recently on a cruise, but while stopping off in Florida, they visited grandma and she said one of the items on the menu was Panamanian Potato Salad, I had never heard of it, and asked what was different and Maria said beetroots, so looked a recipe up.  I love beets so will definitely try this.

Panamanian Pink Potato Salad (Ensalada de Papas)

4 potatoes
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 onion
1 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 clove garlic
1 beet
1 egg
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Start by boiling the potatoes in a large pot. When they are close to half cooked add the beet and carrot. Then add the egg to the pot for the last 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, chop and dice the celery, parsley, onion, and garlic.
  3. Drain the potato pot. You should now have tender potatoes, a tender beet, carrot and a hard boiled egg.
  4. Peel, dice the beet and carrot. Chop the egg. It is a little counter intuitive to us Americans, to boil and then do the chopping and peeling. However, that is the custom in Panama.
  5. Mix the egg, celery, parsley, onion, garlic, mayonnaise and mustard in a deep bowl.
  6. Then add everything else and mix just enough to coat the vegetables with the mayonnaise.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Pink potato salad can be served warm or cold. 

I would probably triple or quadruple this recipe.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Summer's Day Dream By J. B. Priestley

Summer's Day Dream By J. B. Priestly

I stumbled across a few of J. B. Priestley's plays on You Tube.  An Inspector Calls, Time and The Conways, and this play Summer's Day Dream.

Summer's Day Dream was written in the 1940's but is set on the Sussex Downs in mid nineteen seventies.  After a third world war, England is now deindustrialized and an agrarian society, with farming families, living off the land and bartering goods, helping each other.  Technology is not easily accessible and ones entertainment goes back to times past, where one read, created your own entertainment, wrote poetry and were creative.  The mode of transportation is by horse and not even a phone is easily available, in fact they have come to feel no need for them.

The Dawlishes live in an old house that the grandfather an industrialist bought before the third war,  now it has receded back to nature with an overgrown garden and wildlife all around.  They are invaded by an American industrialist, a Soviet bureaucrat and an Indian scientist, who want to exploit the chalk downs for synthetics.  Totally destroying the land and what they have built up.

What is worth more cultural values or militaristic posturing?  England has receded, America, Russia and India are now advancing on the industrial front.  Mr. Heimer the American has a boss G. J. Copplestone, who cannot sleep, has high blood pressure and cannot keep a wife, but is a multi millionaire and owns many television stations through which he tells American families how they should live their lives.

It seems that J. B. Priestley's plays have been having somewhat of a comeback.  In view of world events I am not surprised that many of his plays are being revisited.


Man Was Made for Joy and Woe, William Blake

“Man was made for joy and woe

Then when this we rightly know
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine
A clothing for the soul to bind.”

By William Blake

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Clattering Train by Edwin James Milliken

Who is in charge of the clattering train?
The axles creak, and the couplings strain.
For the pace is hot, and the points are near,
And Sleep hath deadened the driver’s ear:
And signals flash through the night in vain.
Death is in charge of the clattering train!

By Edwin James Milliken

Saturday, December 16, 2017

It's Saturday Blue Skies and Snow

Hi Dear Folk,

The sun is shining, skies are blue, snow is sparkling and I am drinking coffee in the Simla room from my red Yellowstone Park mug, what could be better?  Breakfast of English scrambled egg on toast and marmalade.

Today is Woof, Woof day for The Boys, that's what I call it, the day they have long awaited of setting up their new sub woofers in their stereo room.  At least six months ago they bought a kit to make two cube shaped cases to house their sub woofers, don't ask me names of anything I don't know that.  One turned out to have a pin prick of a hole, therefore needed to be sent back and a new one sent out, that has taken all this time.  I cannot tell you what a heck of a job it was to get it out of the cabinet cube, we wondered if it was even going to happen.  They had to assemble the cubes, gluing them together, painting them, and I can say they've done a nice job.

The hermetically sealed closet has now been broken into and revealed some treasures and some very mummified and moth eaten doomed articles.  The two disasters that upset me most was my French leather briefcase bought in Cambridge in the early years of our marriage has so cracked as to be not restorable.  The other casualty was a French navy blue wool hat with a veil that the moths destroyed.

My Canadian Indian deer skin bag and wallet is still good, and even had a $20 bill inside, will give that some TLC and an old navy blue leather bag from Paris does not look too worse for wear and will work on that.  Also found my lovely woven backpack from Guatemala and a basket bag from Jamaica that I always liked.

Revealed was my old silk Chinese Mandarin dress bought in China Town San Francisco in the late seventies.  I adored that dress, lovely subtle shade of sage green with bamboo and flowers.  Rob saw it and said he thought Tierney would love it, so is going to get it dry cleaned for her, I hope she does. I have no pictures of me wearing it and I wish I did, I wore it to several friends weddings and some parties.  Maybe if she likes it will get some pics of her wearing it.  Also a fur coat, which I think still fits, couple of jackets and some dresses which I will wash up.

My repertoire of restaurants in Philadelphia is expanding as vendors we do a lot of business with take us out to dinner, this was one we visited more recently Ocean Prime.  Let me say this is way out of my price range at $125 per head, for a three course dinner and wine.  I had Chilean sea bass, with mashed potatoes and a champagne truffle sauce.  The sea bass was sweet and melted in your mouth.  Before we had a number of h'ordeuvres, one being tempura calamari very tasty.  I finished of my dinner with a creme brûlée with fresh berries and of course wine.

I knew it would happen, I had to ban some of the plants to the basement.  I couldn't take the calla lilies in the hallway anymore.  With limited space and the fact that they drip water off the end of their leaves.  One had dangled over my oak wood dresser and has now left a terrible water mark, that Mr. B. will have to try and restore for me.

I'm reading the biography of John LeCarre and National Provincial by Lettice Cooper.  Both are good reads.  Just finished watching a Month In The Country made in 1987 staring a young Colin Firth, Kenneth Branagh, Natasha Richardson and Patrick Malahide.  Set after WWI in Yorkshire.  Mr. Birkin has been hired to reveal a painting hidden by paint in an old church, Mr. Moon has been hired for an archeological dig.  Both are veterans of WWI with shell shock.  Is peaceful and it restores them.  Lovely scenery.

Well must go more to do.


Friday, December 15, 2017

PINK - Victoria Secrets

Hi Dear Folk,

View from my office.  The PINK Victoria Secrets bus is in town.  Target market ages 15 to 22 years old, so I read.  Seemed our FEDEX guy knew all about it.  We thought the singer Pink was in town.


A Little Denby and A Lot Of Royal Albert

Hi Dear Folk,

It is snowing again for the third time this week and it is really coming down, hope the commute home is OK, and trains are running on time.

As I mentioned the other day I visited my friend for lunch and this is what she gave me.  Do love my china.

A Denby Albert College Spring Design, just a few pieces.  I like to have a pot of tea and try out all my odd cups.  I love the shape of the milk jug and sugar bowl in this design.  In fact I like Denby as a whole, some designs are so reminiscent of the sixties.

The other big gift was the Royal Albert County Rose.  The china of my childhood.  This had to be their most popular design ever.  Almost everyone had this when I was a child and I still love it just as much.

I had a few wedding pieces, never a whole set.  A pedestal cake plate from auntie Gladys a family friend.  Six mugs from Barbara and a set of small desert dishes with a larger serving bowl from my mum, and a few odd pieces I had picked up.  I would intersperse this with a cheaper white dinner service I bought with a gold edge.

With this I positively do have a complete set.  Even have a matching rose tablecloth.

Now I'm going to clean out my hutch to hold this.  Fun, fun.

Quite a gift.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Thrifted Outfit

Hi Dear Folk,

This morning we woke up to snow and I had a doctor's appointment down in the city, a follow up appointment with the surgeon.  I drove because Mr. B. is suffering with a bad back, and it was a most nerve racking drive.  I had to take Mr. B. with me as wasn't sure if would need him to drive home.  He would rather have stayed at home, I understand that.  Then another doctor's appointment in the afternoon in a totally different direction and I get there and the doctor had a family emergency so appointment was cancelled.  They had left a message on my work number.

Rather than waste the trip I stopped off at Trader Joe's and bought my favorite bread, crumpets, soy crackers and a dark chocolate, caramel and black sea salt bar, now hidden from The Boy.

I realized the other day that the outfit I wore to visit my friend for lunch, was totally thrifted.  Green wool skirt, such a pretty shade of green, tweedy cardigan, polo, brown leather shoes from Germany.  Radley London, leather bag, with a pretty pink flower lining.  On the leather inside it says "A penny for your thoughts" including a penny and a little Scottie dog, made in England.  Amber broach with silver surround and an old amber necklace, my most recent acquisition.

It's amazing what you can find.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Did it Snow On You Over The Weekend?

Hi Dear Folk,

I popped into a few blogs over the weekend and everyone was posting snow shots.  Yes it snowed here too on Saturday, starting at about 9:00 am and continuing for the rest of the day.  I was out in the morning by 8:00 AM all dressed for the weather, with my old down coat, very warm and including boots which had their first airing of the winter.  Home by 11:00 AM and lit the fire.  Made a pot of taco soup for Sunday, Mr. B. had made chocolate chip cookies and snuggled down to crochet.

Sunday morning we had a family breakfast as we were all in, home fries, scrambled egg and bacon, with orange juice and coffee.  A lovely quiet day well except for the boys.

The boys were up in their stereo lair, vacuuming away as new sound equipment was being installed and wires relaid and any number of goings on.  Furniture pulled out etc and I thought go for it, all that cleaning is great.  Followed by all the sound testing, not so great.  I'm sure I'm developing larger cracks in my sitting room ceiling.

I am assured that the fridge size sub woofer is soon to go after at least four years, of being not able to get into one of my closets and it's not as if we have hardly any.  It will be an adventure just pulling out what is in there, I hardly remember.  Couple of furs, old bags etc.

A pot of tea and raisin scones, a little candlelight, a cozy fire and hygge is achieved.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Great Expectations - Castle Hill, MA

Hi Dear Folk,

I'm thinking The Boy may have Great Expectations, Tierney and Rob visited Castle Hill, MA over the holiday weekend.

Now this would match any stately home in the UK.

I think Rob says there are rolling hills down to a vista of the sea.

If I lived in this area I would definitively belong to the Historical Society there are so many lovely houses to visit in a small area.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Murder On The Orient Express A Comparison of Three Movies 1974, 2010, 2017

Hi Dear Folk,

We are having a binge watching of Murder On The Orient Express.  From Agatha Christie's 1934 novel.  Obviously she very much set the premise of the book on the Baby Lindbergh kidnapping and killing.

Mr. B. and I went to see the latest movie at the cinema, staring Kenneth Branagh .  Mr. B. has never really followed David Suchet as Poirot, so I said lets go home and watch that movie, but Mr. B. pulled up the wrong movie, the old one from 1974 with Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot.  That 1974 version certainly had a star studded cast.  We decided to watch that.

David Suchet is hands down my favorite Hercule Poirot, Kenneth Branagh comes no where close he is too tall, Poirot was only five foot four and we could not get past his terrible mustache.  Albert Finney falls somewhere in the middle, but doesn't capture Poirot.

It's interesting to compare the cast of each three, you start wanting to swap different actors in and out.  What about the train inside and the shots outside?  Now this is a hard choice.  The 1974 film has some lovely train shots, obviously a real train and the 2017 has some very spectacular shots, but they are so stylized as to have been done on a computer.  With the train stuck on a high trestle bridge, stopped by an avalanche.  The 1974 train inside was lovely with inlaid wood panels. I also liked the 2017 train, with the lovely Deco lamps, so that was on the downside in the 2010 version.  Also of interest is how they shoot the train station in Istanbul, the 1974 version being the most diverse and coloruful.

Hercule Poirot running around with a gun, tackling people and everybody sitting outside at tables in the snow does not in any way seem at all probable and Poirot is not even wearing an overcoat.  Liberties were taken rolling the doctor and Collonel Arbuthnot into one character, calling him Doctor Arbuthnot, which I did not like.  So the 2017 version is at #3, the 1974 at #2 and 2010 is my #1, with a couple of things they did in the other films that I would add to the 2010 version, mostly more cinematic the inside and outside of the train, the station at Istanbul.

"A man like your friend always has a choice, he does not have to lie."  Says Poirot, one of the lines at the beginning of the 2010 movie.  In the 2010 version at the end I especially like how David Suchet played Poirot, how torn he was with letting them go, it cost him, his conscience to do that.  It was a lie that he went along with.  No longer were things black and white, what is justice?

Would love to hear your comments.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Cape Ann Crochet Shawl

Hi Dear Folk,

I know I said I would call the burgundy shawl my Cape Ann shawl, but I fell out of love with it.  I did so well with the increase side, but for some reason do you think I could get the decrease side to match, not on your life, after many attempts, I gave up and did my own adaptation, which was to keep on increasing and make it a long triangular shawl, then to add the same flowers across the widest end only as dangles.  So here we are.

The way the flowers were crocheted in at the end of the rows took some learning, but is nice, so wouldn't mind adapting that on another pattern.

Now this is my Cape Ann shawl, I love this pattern.  I made a couple changes, deleting the last row of  crochet around the bottom outer edge, I just thought that less was more.  Possibly in a finer yarn it would have looked OK.  I also added a row of Picot edging on the inner edge.  I thought it looked so much neater after doing this and picot stitch edging is one of my favorites, it just adds a little something.

This shawl is a gift for a friend, but I am going to make another one for myself, that is longer, wraps around and I can tie in the back, well at least that's the plan.  It truly will be a Cape Ann Shawl, because it will remind me of all those fishermen's wifes with their shawls from times long gone.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Today With Mr. B.

Hi Dear Folk,

The Boy is up in Cape Ann for the Holiday weekend, while Mr. B. and I enjoyed a quiet day at home together.  These seem to be so few and far between, that it is nice to have a whole day for nothing too much at all, just be together.

As you see it's a lovely sunny day here, only brisk.  We decided to take a walk in our local park.

Here I am some trees still have their leaves, others are totally bare.  I am wearing a long waistcoat that my sister crocheted for me many years ago.

They have put in a Ba chi Ball court, we also have one in a little park near the zoo in town.  Very popular among the older Italians.  Just nice to sit and watch them playing on a summer evening.

As many times as I have seen this pergola, I never realized that it had been moved here from the old Jefferson House restaurant, I had several friends over the years who had held their receptions there and had their photos taken under this very same edifice.

The Jefferson House was sold off in about 2004 and the land used to build town houses.

While we sat here I thought how lovely it would be to have afternoon tea here.  I wonder if the park authorities would allow it.  Bring in a tea table and set it up under the pergola, you could use the seats round about to sit on and they would seat twelve.  You could serve afternoon tea buffet style.

It would be especially nice in spring as it is surrounded with ornamental cherry trees.

Doing my Samson impression.

Some more transplants from the old golf course that was sold off to build a hospital, which rises on the horizon outside the park.

Quite an old graveyard dating back to early 1800's.

Mr. B's toy.

Ended the afternoon with a nice pot of tea and a piece of Mexican cake.  Like a sponge cake with cream cheese and pineapple filling, very good.  This Mexican Bakery just opened up within a very large produce and food store, with a strong Hispanic influence, but lots of international foods.  He is independent from the store with his bakery.  Mr. B. has also bought home for me a slab of what I would call bread pudding.  Not sure what his was made from but it's super heavy and filling, just like mum's old bread pudding.

Hope you enjoyed time with family.

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