Friday, 27 September 2013

Black Shuck

No, not another dose of my leery Cockney rhyming slang although, thinking about it, it would go - black shuck = bad luck.  Camilla leave the blog this instant you rude girl and wash your mouth out with soap and water while you're about it.  I hope no one else heard what you said because it would have made even a navvy blush.

Now that's what we Cockney's call "Black Shuck"
Here at the Chateau we don't really do all that pumpkin stuff for Halloween.  We don't grow them, we don't eat them, we don't give them faces and we certainly don't cross stitch them either.

It's more a case chez nous of Dogs Rule OK! or if you happen to be dyslexic Gods Lure KO!  If you happen, however, to be diabetic then sorry, you're out of Shuck as I don't have any sugar jokes in my repertoire and the one about the fireman caught short on a shout is definately too risque to repeat even for me.
Today it's Long Dog freebie time again with Black Shuck as our central character.  He was a ghostly black dog said to roam the counties that make up the region of East Anglia on the east coast of England.  He had blazing eyes like saucers, a howl that would chill your spine and for anyone unlucky enough to see him he brought death and disaster.  Good choice for a Halloween quickie eh?  In the picture above he looks more like Geordie having a bad fur day.  It was even thought that Bram Stoker incorporated the legend into his book when he wrote of Dracula coming ashore at Whitby in the guise of a black dog!

And here it is in all it's glory.  The usual rules apply.   If you would like the pdf, simply drop me a quick email to and I will ping one off to you but don't think about it too long as you will need to get stitching to have it made up for Halloween 2013!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Sacha's sampler

Some proper cross stitch at long last.
I just had to show you this, it's little Sacha's sampler.

A little tweak here, a little tweak there and good old Times Table gets personal.
Thank you Granny Virginia for sharing this with us all.
You certainly know how to get a wiggle on when you need to.
Now look lively and off to the framers with you.

Friday, 20 September 2013


I do so love the old festivals, don't you?  All that frolicking, fornication and fun, although I do tend to pass on the second option these days.  All those glorious apportunities to set fire to things, lots of dancing round in your birthday suit (I think mine could do with a bit of an iron) and, in Geordie's case, things to tiddle on if you're so minded - which he is.

The 21st September is the Autumn Equinox, when day and night are the same length for one brief moment.  It's widely known as Harvest Home which is when people give thanks for the fruits of the earth and smile secret little smug smiles because their freezers and store cupboards are once again full of goodies to last them through the long winter ahead.
It's also one of the eight sabbats of the Wiccan year although it's name is relatively new having been coined by the American academic Adam Kelly round about 1970 when he became heavily involved in such matters as require a black cat as your best friend.
 Another annual event at this time of year, come rain (more often than not) or shine, is the St Flo brocante.  It's a day when people come from miles around to flaunt their wares, flog old tat and fraternise with old friends, which possibly falls under the auspices of the "second option" (see above).  I'm heavily into "f" illiteration this week as some of you may have already noticed and so my next "f" word is -
... "framing" of course and here is a fine example of what the good ladies of St Flo get up to on Wednesday afternoons when there's nothing else urgent needs doing. 
As for what the "naughty" ladies of St Flo get up to let me present  the ratcatcher's cousin Josie from  his mother's side of the family.  Here she is plying her trade and trying to knock out a few windfalls at the same time while she casts around for someone unsuspecting to goose.
On the way home if you can't think what to have for supper why not pop in to our ultra-modern supermarket and pick up a chunk of 18th century cheese to go with Josie's juicy pippins, a few slightly faded paper whatever they are's and some dead flies from the window display or perhaps a stomach pump from their ever expanding nearly new section.   If you're lucky you may even be able to run fast enough to catch some of their famous sausages but always check out the sell-by details as anything dated before 1750 may be a bit tough by now.  Bon appetit!  

Friday, 13 September 2013

A year and a day ....

A year and a day - sounds as if it might have come from a nursery tale where it marks the amount of time the beautiful princess must sleep before being awoken by a kiss from a handsome prince.  No such luck in my case.

Were Victorian customs still in observance, 365+1 days (please don't anyone complicate matters by raising the subject of leap years) represents the end of my period of "Deep Mourning".   It's hard to believe that a year has passed already and what a year it's been!  Certainly not one that I would care to repeat but definately one in which I've learned and experienced a great deal.

Were I a conventional widow I would now be permitted to loosen up a little, add touches of lavender and grey to my wardrobe and to put myself about a bit.  However as I've always been one to do my own thing I've decided to write a poem to mark the occasion amongst other things.

Bugger the bombazine.
Kick-start the clock .
The mourning is over,  I'm ready to rock!
Change the old hair style.
Put on a short skirt.
The mourning is over,  I'm ready to flirt!
Get out the phonebook.
Call an old mate.
The mourning is over, let's get in a state!
Book an hotel room.
Pack a few things.
The mourning is over so off come the rings!
Take a deep breath.
Forget all past strife.
The mourning is over so on with my life!

After the haircut!
In this mood of wild, borderline rebelliousness I have also had a serious session with Lydie the coiffeuse down in St Flo, reserved a place for the annual moules and frites after the brocante tomorrow and am ready for whatever the future has in store.  Bring it on as they say just so long as it doesn't involve another visit from my old friend

- the ratcatcher.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Michaelmas comes early!

Michaelmas, the Feast of Michael & All Angels is a quarter day which falls on 29th September.  All sorts of things traditionally happen on this day in particular the Hiring or Mop Fairs as they're sometimes called.

These fairs date back to the time of Edward III of England who granted their charter in 1351 shortly after the Black Death swept Europe and there was a great shortage of labour.  They became established as employment exchanges where people seeking or offering work could meet up and this tradition continued in some areas right up until the beginning of WWII.  Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick were both well known "mop" towns.

Why the strange name?  Because those seeking employment would often carry something to instantly show their trade like a shepherd's crook, a milkmaid's stool and, yes Alice, a housemaid's mop.

History lesson over.  I'm telling you all this because here at the Chateau we've taken on lovely Laurence who's going to help lick Mouche and Geordie into shape but being crafty and wanting to have the pick of the very best we jumped the gun and snapped her up before the riots start on the 29th!  She was carrying a dog lead, it was a dead giveaway.  So now we have Joel our groundsman and Laurence our dog whisperer!  Whatever next I wonder, perhaps a masseur?

I've been making hay while the sun shines, literally, so there is absolutely rien in the way of cross stitch chit chat once again this week but the water lillies are just perfect and worth a look.  The barometer will start to fall again soon, the thermals will find their way out of the cupboards, the evenings will draw in even faster and sewing will once again be the order of the day but for the time being you will just have to make do with this ....

.... a photo of the butterfly who has decided to become my office junior - he was holding a pencil!