Thursday, 30 December 2021

Astrid's Photo Hunt for the week ending 31/12/2021


For this final challenge for 2021  Astrid has selected the word Celebration.  It is very topical for this time of the year, many people should be celebrating the New Year but the dreaded Covid has curtailed many celebrations.  We usually sit quietly at home watching terrible television till midnight when we watch the wonderful 10 minute firework display from London on the BBC but this year it has been cancelled again as normally thousands of people crowd the Embankment and other viewpoints to watch, ending up with a joint rendering of Auld ang Syne.  We watch the fireworks going off around us too as we have a good view of distant houses.

So not having New Year's celebration photographs I have searched my remaining archive to see what I could find so it is rather a random selection this time.

First celebration picture is of our old dog Max's birthday.  Looking at the photograph it must have been taken in  about 1970.  That is Kate on the right holding her black cat Sam with her brother D next to her.  I remember they upended a tin of dog food onto a plate and stuck candles on in.  Max obliged and age it, candles and all.  The other children are her friends from next door with their pets.  

The picture is not very good but like most of my pictures of that era it had gone many shades of purple and I have changed it to black and white.  

This picture was taken a couple of years ago on my birthday.  Kate had planned a family tea in her garden.  As always she had made delicious scones, biscuits and a birthday cake.  We sat out in her garden with all the family and had a lovely time. 

This was taken one year in our garden for Kate's birthday.  

and this for our daughter-in-law, fruit and icecream for a change.

The next photograph was taken when we were celebrating B's 80th birthday.  Youngest grandson had this card made using a picture of him giving his grandfather a birthday card 16 years ago in 2004. I must explain, he always insists he is the 'favourite Grandchild'!! 

After the first and hardest lockdown in 2020 we were allowed out and asked to support our local restaurants and we had a delicious lunch at a canal side pub down the road to celebrate being allowed out at last. 

Finally a celebration of new life at Cat Eye waterhole on the site.  These two baby impala seemed to look so innocent and vulnerable. 

Thank you Astrid for hosting the site for us.  It has been fun. 

Wishing you all a wonderful and healthy 2022.   Take care, and be safe. 


Friday, 24 December 2021

Astrid's Photo Hunt Challenge for the week ending 24/12/2021

This Christmas week's word chosen by Astrid is Stockings.  I presume she means Christmas stockings but I have a big problem.  We have been off line for nearly a week and connection only came back yesterday.  So I have not had time to search my archives for suitable pictures.  So this week it is one picture only from me, not my usual amount.    

I thought I would not be able to contribute this time, then suddenly had a brain wave - I do have two little stockings for the Christmas tree.  In 1994 when we were living in South Africa my mother came to stay with us for Christmas. She brought with her two little stockings, each containing a tiny box - 4cms x 3cms - and in that was a chocolate wrapped in matching paper.  The box was decorated with pictures of the Snowman from the film that was out then. I see the writing is coming off one stocking.   Some years ago I opened and tried one of the chocolates and it was so stale but the other is still in its box.  Happy memories of a hot Christmas with both B's mother and mine and our son D.  We used a flower from a sisal plant as a tree, it was at least 6 foot tall, it was most impressive!!

That's my lot for this week.  Happy Christmas to you all.  Keep safe - and warm (or cool if that applies to you!!) 

Friday, 17 December 2021

Astrid's Photo Scavenger Hunt for the week ending - 17/12/2021


The word chosen by Astrid for this week is 'Homemade'.  Strange as it sounds from someone who has always done some craft or other, I have very little things around that I have made;  a few odd knitted hats (very odd!!) and a couple of scarves is really all I have and an uninteresting crochet blanket. I don't photograph the results of my baking, not that I do much just for the two of us so that idea did not help.  So I have decided to go on a different tack.  Home made objects made by our children over the years......children, they are both grown up and married as you well know!!  

I was scratching my head wondering where to go with this when I remembered I have my father's old tobacco jar, hand carved in Central Africa, Malawi perhaps, in the 1940's.  My mother always kept a few things her grandchildren had given her in it and it now sits on our bookcase.  I dug around and found these..... a gingham apron little Katie had made for the doll she had made for her grandmother which, till her death in 2009, she always kept on a chair in her bedroom.  There was piece of 'embroidery' that neither she nor her brother remember doing (or admitting to have done) at junior school and a woven square done by young D at junior school in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. The pottery bowls were made by Katie as part of a set of three, all fitting one  inside the other and made by her at school.  The middle one was unfortunately broken many years ago.  I love the colours and I keep odd bits inside the bigger one.  I don't often open the tobacco jar but when I do it brings back happy memories as it still smells of my Dad's tobacco, even after 40 years. 

Katie as you know now produces the most amazing work, in various mediums.  She has made us so many things over the years but being Christmas I have photographed a group of special things she has made for us and which always come out at this time of the year.  The hare is needle felted, the little felt pincushion Christmas pudding we have had for many years and the lovely Tomte more recently arrived one Christmas as did the painted robin. 

Our son trained to do sand casting at his uncles' large foundry and together with B set up a foundry at home in South Africa where they made the most beautiful brass ornaments.  He has most of the remaining brass ornaments at his home in Scotland but we do have these lovely horses and the owl.  They are so heavy as they are solid, not hollow as brass ornaments often are. 

Just to show how 'home made' these brass animals are, we have quite by chance found these old photographs today.  I had been looking for them for a while and while moving a chair I knocked over a pile of books and there was this album I had not seen for ages.  B has selected a group to show how he and our son D made these objects.  Health and Safety people would have been horrified.  In their defence these pictures were taken in 1992, in the hottest part of South Africa where daytime temperatures were often anything between 35 and 40 degrees and in a country where the Health and Safety Executive did not exist!!  

Here  D is getting the furnace hot enough.  Old brass taps and fittings were used to melt down in the crucible.  


Now the crucible is being lifted using special shaped tongs, 

carried into the nearby workshop and carefully poured into the prepared moulds.  Katie  and G were visiting us in SA at the time and that is her helping hold back the dross. Note she is wearing boots and David's  leather apron and proper gloves.  She, coming from the UK, was far more safety conscious. 

After a while the brass had cooled enough for the mould to be opened and for the brass cat to be tipped out.

The cat on the left is ready for cleaning up and polishing and the one on the right is the aluminium pattern used to make the hollow in the compressed sand. 

Finally the rough brass is cleaned up with an angle grinder then finished with grinding pads.  It is hard, noisy work. 

Well that is it for this week.  Now I'm off to see what lovely, normal homemade objects others have posted about.

Friday, 10 December 2021

Astrid's Photo Scavenger Hunt for the week ending 10/12/2021


This week's choice by Astrid is Mugs.  Well, I thought, I don't have many so I better take some pictures of Kate's selection as she  has absolutely masses.!!   We  had all been meeting at Kate's  last Saturday for our annual wreath making and so many mugs were out but by the time I went to take a picture they had all been put away but I did photograph some on display.  

B and I have our regular ones which we use all the time for tea and coffee and then two others which are used almost daily for soup at lunch time.  Brian's tea mug has the Rhodesian crest on and mine a Koala  and a wren. 

Mine is the proper soup mug but B prefers his in a normal mug. 

Below is a set of  four boring looking mugs we use for guests that like a big brew  and two lovely tall brown ones that we always use for hot chocolate drinks. 

I then remembered our mug we always use for a certain Hot Medicated Lemon drink when we have a cold.  That will be at the back of the cupboard I decided, as last year, thanks to social distancing and masks last winter we had not needed to use.  So I started to look for it and then found in that mysterious part of a deep cupboard I can never reach easily that we had so many mugs I had forgotten about, old favourites that must come out and be used again.

I had to show the back as well as I love crazy yellow cat's footprints and the smiles of the other cats.  These were two had belonged to my mother.

These next two were presents, the cat being one of a pair of mugs from Katie many years ago.  I love the way each time I look at it I only see the black cat, then suddenly the white cat appears.  Sadly the second mug was broken.  But this one is now coming out into regular use. 

I had forgotten completely my 'soup in a mug'  insulated cup that I always used when going on a picnic.  

I had only just bought the Schlumberga  (Christmas Cactus, a much easier name)  a couple of days ago and when I found in the back of the cupboard this beautiful mug my daughter-in-law was throwing out as it has a slight crack and I had kept for just this reason. The plant has been in one of those plastic sleeves supermarket flowers are always in so I hope it will relax a bit soon.    

Then at last, right at the back of the cupboard was the little bear mug I was looking for!!!   My mother gave it to us years ago, about 20 years I should think.  She had collected tokens of soup packets and sent for it.  It is a Hug Mug. 

The writing around the base says...You only get a hug from a Batchelor's mug.

So thank you Astrid for helping me find some long forgotten mugs that will now come back into circulation. 

Now off to see what other bloggers have in their mug selection.  I sure some have some lovely stories attached to them. 

Friday, 3 December 2021

Astrid's Photo Scavenger hunt for the week ending - 03/12/2021

 Sub heading:   Better late than never!!

This week the title chosen by Astrid is Ornament.  Strangely enough I had a problem with this.  Firstly the Christmas tree decorations were still up in the loft - getting them down is a major operation and secondly somehow my week was all over the place - appointments, shopping and the annual Christmas Carol Service at our local church where I was doing a reading.  I also had to get baking done for Sunday as it was my turn to help with the teas after the service.....and sort myself out for Kate's Wreathy Thing on Saturday.  

So in spite of a timely reminder from Lovely Lady that it was Thursday and was I ready................I was not!!!

So here is a hurriedly put together entry for this week, so forgive me for being not only late, but not really up to scratch this week.

Looking round to see what ornaments to include I could not decide.  We have many brass horses, three in fact,  ornaments on shelves - but I have  used them before - so I suddenly thought of my printers' tray which has many different little ornaments, mostly mine but I inherited a few from my mother and now it is really a bit crowded, but which to remove?   But now a confession, when I went to photograph it I realised I had not dusted it or given it its annual bath and it was sooooo dusty.  So I hurriedly, whilst getting supper, washed all the little ornaments and the tray.  Somehow it had been over looked.   It looks clean and bright now!!

All have a story to tell.  I have rather a lot of Guinea Fowl, both mine and my mothers'.  The Siamese cat and kittens were hers too and the sheep in the bottom right and the little cottage above it were given to her by Katie.  The Hornbills on the bottom shelf were my mother's too, the little ivory elephants were B's mothers.  The owls are all mine.  I had a huge collection years ago, but only have a few left.  The rabbit and her babies were mine, given to me as a baby in 1942  (nearly 80 years ago so you don't need to work it out!!)  The two little brass plates are the only survivors from my dolls house in the 1950's  and the thimbles are souvenirs of K and G's wedding, one mine and the other my mothers.  So now you can see why I can't get rid of any of them. 

A more modern rabbit, a moon gazing one, given to me by Katie one Christmas.  No moon for him to gaze at,  he just looks at this lamp. 

Finally, one I have used before, but it is a favourite decoration of mine.  One my parents bought in 1960 when we moved to Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.  His hat looks a bit sad but he has survived well as he is made of glass. 

So as I said, better late than never.  I will do better next week.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Astrid's Photo Scavenger Hunt for the week ending - 26/11/2021

 The word this week selected by Astrid really had me thinking.......Traditions.  My first thought that is something seen more in US than here but then when I thought seriously about it I realised that we all have traditions, some bigger than others but still something that means something to our family.   To quote the dictionary the definitions is The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation.  Then I realised that one tradition we have first started by my parents, then carried on through us to our young family who are now grown up and have grown up children of their own is 'The Table Present at Christmas'.

My mother first saw it in a Homes and Gardens type magazine in 1960 and thought it a good idea.  Originally it was a snowball tied with a red ribbon with a little present inside at each persons' place at Christmas Dinner.   We patiently put papier mache  over slightly inflated round balloons, removed the balloon, cut the paper balls in half and covered them with cotton wool.  I remember my first snowball contained a lipstick, very much appreciated.   Over the years I have made my own 'snowballs' and put them away with the Christmas decorations to use again until they looked rather sad and replaced them a couple of times over the years since then.  I eventually chucked them out and we now just wrap a small present in pretty paper and put it on the table. (Not easy to find something small enough to fit into a snowball.)   I might add that all the time we were using 'snowballs' we were living in Central and Southern Africa where the heat was so great at Christmas but we still had the traditional roast turkey and ham, Christmas pudding and trifle. 

I've searched through my archives and managed to find a few photographs showing the Table Presents ready for opening.

Here a couple wrapped in silver paper are showing. 

I've just realised that only a couple of presents show.  Kate and I shared supplying the presents between us.  I have put mine out but taken the photographs before she arrived. 

One year we held the dinner at our son and daughter-in-law's flat, a few yards from ours.

All of these pictures were taken on Christmas Eve.  Over the past 20 years this has become a new tradition for our family.  Everyone meets at our home for the traditional Christmas Dinner (no longer so much turkey and ham as three of the  eight of us have become vegetarians so other dishes have become traditional fare too).

Then later that evening, when everyone has gone home B and I go to our local church for the midnight service.  

On Christmas Day itself we take plates of ifits *** to Kate's home where she has gorgeous home made soup, jacket potatoes and a fantastic selection of party food which we have after a family gift exchange.  The little children used to play with their toys but now they are there with their girl friends, all grown up and we often collapse after two days of overeating to watch a film on TV..  

*** leftovers are called 'Ifits' in our family, a name coined by a catering friend of mine who used to say of the left overs from a catering job, if its edible we eat it. 

The final tradition that is a sure sign that Christmas is nearly here is the annual get together to make wreaths at Kate's house.  It was originally a large get together in the village hall but now has been whittled down to a select few who arrive with a large selection of greenery and contributions to the Jacob's Join lunch.  (No idea why it's called that but its the Northern equivalent of a 'bring and share' meal.)  So we gather around a large workbench set up in Kate's dining room and are surrounded with greenery, ribbons, florest wire and all the bits that make up a successful wreath. We nibble mince pies, home made shortbread and drink gallons of tea and coffee with a break for lunch.  It is always a lovely tradition sadly missed last year because of the ban on meeting in other peoples homes. 

Now off to see how others have described their family traditions. 

Friday, 19 November 2021

Astrid's Photo Hunt Challenge for the week ending - 19/11/2021


This week's selection by Astrid is 'something we see everyday.'  After a bit of thought I realised that what we see daily is the view outside our window.  So I have selected a few pictures reflecting the changing seasons and sometime interesting things we see out of our window. 

Starting in early March  the farmer fertilizes his fields.  He grows hay here each year.


After heavy rains in early March a lake forms on the other side of our view.  We always love to see 'our lake' as it brings in masses of bird life, often mainly gulls  but still lovely to see in the distance. 

Then later in the month, if the weather is mild enough,  the 'gypsy' cobs and their wagons often pass by.

Occasionally we are lucky to see something quite unusual like the year these two gentlemen decided to land in 'our' field.

Sometimes the council decides to work right outside our window.  They always cause amazing traffic jams!! 

Here a policeman is redirecting traffic due to an accident and the air ambulance landing - further down the road. 

Then there is the haymaking each June.  Often the farmer manages a second cut later in the year.

The cooler autumn weather brings mists over the canal on the other side of 'our fields'.

and colourful rainbows but sadly the end of the rainbow is never in our garden so we have not found the pot of gold.

As the weather cools down  Autumn creeps up on us and the trees start to take on their gorgeous hues.  I love the colours but know it means the year is ending and winter will be here soon.

Inevitably winter arrives and we  watch the snow getting closer across the hills till it reaches us.  Sometimes a light dusting and sometimes a very heavy snowfall.  Each year it is different, but it has not been so heavy lately. 


We have wonderful sunsets and stormy skies too. Each one different, no two the same.  

 So many things, happenings and gorgeous sunsets and skies, all out of just one window.  Keeps things and life interesting, how can one not be moved by some of the lovely views out of our window,  something we see every day and never take for granted.    There are of course grey days, wet and miserable days but then who wants to photograph them!! 

Now off to see what others have chosen to represent things they see every day.