Friday, 30 August 2013

Which way do you naturally screw?

I ask this question quite seriously and it is not in any way meant as a cheap attempt to pry into your private lives although if there are any of you who wish to respond in that spirit kindly do so in a plain, brown paper email marked for the attention of Long Dog's own agony aunt Mouche.

So that's where my eye liner went!
Please hear me out while I attempt a hasty explanation lest you start leaving the blog in droves in search of something cross stitchey which sits more easily within your comfort zones.

This week I had a very strange experience of a screwing nature which has left me deeply perplexed.  I had just sat down to a steaming hot bowl of freshly cooked wholemeal spaghetti (yes Alice, the brown stuff), topped with a home made sauce of tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, olives and anchovies when I instantly encountered a major problem.  A real foodie dilemma.  Screw as I would the pasta just would not curl lovingly aroung my fork en route to my mouth.

The spaghetti harvest in full swing,.
After several abortive attempts in my normal way without result I employed a change of tactics and decided to screw anti-clockwise.  And there you have it in a pasta shell, I had encountered, for the first time in my life, a dish of left-handed spaghetti!!!

View from bathroom window at the Chateau
What I want to know is whether I am alone in these findings, has anyone else ever experienced resistance to clockwise screwing or have the growers gone over to a genetically modified left hand threaded plant.  Perhaps my packet of spag was an escapee from a consignment destined for the antipodes where even the bath water empties the wrong way.  Eh Louise!  Your thoughts on this matter would be much appreciated and I'm sure the Anonymous Zitella will have something profound to say on the subject.

The nasturtiums have done well beside the cave this year.
Apart from that life here at the Chateau has trundled on without mishap this week, no ominous buzzing noises coming from either of the chimneys, no mini tornadoes leaving smashed garden furniture in their wake, not even an inquisitive lizard in my knicker drawer.  All very normal and, dare I say it, just a tidsey bit dull after all the high adrenaline happenings of late.

Geordie pondering the meaning of life and what sort of a thread he's got.
Next week I shall be able to tell you all about the latest member of team Long Dog who will be taking up her duties very soon.  See you then.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Little things mean a lot .....

You happen upon me today in a state bordering on religious exctasy.  My pulse is elevated, my cheeks are flushed without alcoholic assistance and I feel like a child on Christmas Eve. What has caused this sudden wave of euphoria?  Sadly not the news that David Essex has bought a chateau nearby.

It's a food parcel, and not just any old food parcel either.  No Camilla not a Fortnum's hamper, although that would be very nice, but packets of Sainsbury's Red Label tea bags, a catering sized hunk of the very best and strongest mature Cheddar cheese in the whole of Christendom .....
.... and, best of all, the icing on my cake - HOT CROSSED BUNS!  A stash of them which are currently tucked safely away in my freezer side by side with packs of dog meat and some other stuff most of which lacks labels and should possibly carry a health warning.  There's certainly no way of knowing when to eat by!  Another walk on the wild side coming up I fear.
I digress and here my little tale becomes rather poignant - I have no butter to spread on them and so I shall have to wait until Tuesday when I shop at Leclerc (quick advert) in order to purchase some.  So until then, rather like Mouche being made to wait with a biscuit in front of her, I must do the same in a hot, crossed sort of a way.
Thanks must go to the intrepid husband and wife team of anthropologists who ventured so far into la France profonde bearing gifts for the natives of the Loire Valley and also to M&S (another advert in the hope they will send me something as a token of their appreciation) who have had the amazing foresight and ability to spot a gap in the market by selling Hot Crossed Buns all year round and not just for a brief few glorious, heady, spice-filled days at Easter.
And so here endeth today's bit of old nonesense from the chateau with me trying not to salivate too much and with, once again, nothing in the way of sewing chit chat.  The nearest we've got this week is the X on my buns!  No wonder the number of blog followers remains static.
Now where do you suppose I can find a supply of proper Scotch eggs?

Friday, 16 August 2013

Mmmmmmm, Rrrrrrrrrrrr

You find us here this week at the Chateau in a state of flux.  Why the weird title?  Because that's what I'm currently doing - umming and arring, getting nowhere fast.  My first guest has now departed along with the accompanying paparazzi and hoards of gawping onlookers jostling in the drive only to be replaced imminently by the skirl of the pipes as more visitors hove into view clad in Mackenzie tartan on an heather scented breeze.  I shall have to keep an eye of Geordie as who knows how the scent of his native land will affect a sensitive sould like him. Shush, don't wake him, he's exhausted.

For the first time in many a moon I haven't crossed a single stitch in nearly a week.  I shall need retraining at this rate.  Anyway - laundry to do, cushions to plump and (as ever) dogs hairs to sweep up.  All in all the perfect lead up to a poem.  I do promise to get back to serious Long Doggeration very soon. Here's a little snippet to keep you going ..... the shape of things to come perhaps?

THE POINTER (as in arrow Alice, not the breed of dog)
Someone's moved the pointer on that measures out the year.
The arrow's set to autumn now and, look - the mist's appeared.
It sprawls across the valley like some adolescent child
Still slightly round and cuddly, but definately wild.
It doesn't have the qualities of a freshly laundered sheet.
No folds, no starch, no creases and no corners square and neat.
It lies just like a wanton lacking shape and lacking form
And, when you breathe it up your nose it is still slightly warm.

Soon the hand will move again through gales, and sleet, and rain
'Till the arrow comes to rest once more in winter's chill domain.
The nights will be too long then and the days far, far too short.
Make haste, make haste while there's some light to finish work outdoors.
The air will become hostile and will stab into your throat
And trees will stand quite bare once more without their leafy coat.
Trapped moisture left upon the breeze will swiftly freeze as crystals
Which sparkle like a scarf of ice wrapped round the old dead thistle.
And on that cheerful note with the temperature here at a very comfortable 25 degrees C may I be the first to wish you all a merry Christmas.  It's on it's way and festive fayre is, as we speak,
ready to be delivered to a supermarket near you very soon.  Aaaargh! 

Friday, 9 August 2013

The Doldrums .... where you find us here at the Chateau just now.  Not in a depressed sort of a way but more the calm before the storn.  We have a VIP expected next week whose identity must remain secret at all costs for fear of international repercussions and hoards of paparazzi camped on the front lawn again and Geordie and Mouche are currently undergoing a refresher course in guard dog procedures!

It's still much too early to start flying about the place in titivation mode and I shan't need to set about killing the fatted Camembert for at least a couple more days yet but what I can do, however, is share with you a little insight into the life of Monsieur et Madam Ratcatcher - you name it, they will exterminate it!  Yes, that's the ones.

It's a homely, comforting tale of everyday country folk.  Right Alice, a bit like the Archers - anyone other than Brits and ex-pats will not have the foggiest about that last remark for which I make no apologies - Google it!  They are a devoted couple, which is just as well working as they do with deadly pesticides.

As he prepares himself mentally (well, let's just say he closes his eyes) to do battle with the varmints, she eases her beloved and his stomach gently into his combat suit.  This looks very home made to me and consists of a thick blue boiler suit with a pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves stitched on to the cuffs and elastic straps which fit over his boots.  The whole ensemble is topped off with what can only be described as a hard hat with bee keeper's veil and very fetching he looks in it too.  Once she has zipped everything together there is no going back at this point!  Roll the drums. It's time to mount the roof, but only in a professional, non-sexual way you must understand.

Once the ladders have been hauled off the van and strapped into place on the guttering (a task undertaken by Mrs R as he's still finishing his meditations) the scene is set, the die is cast and we're ready to go.  He starts his slow climb to the roof with a huge canister strapped to his back and Mrs R three rungs behind him for extra ballast. 

Frenchmen on roofs after an exceeding good lunch is not a spectacle for the faint-hearted but with my heart beating wildly I watched him climb, scattering roof tiles in his wake and mentally totting up the damage.  Once astride (yes Camilla - astride) the ridge he settled down to pumping wave after wave of white death dust into the afflicted chimney with a halo of angry hornets dancing around his head as he did so.  Mission was finally accomplished when he had dispensed sufficient toxins to kill the resident population of a small town and he descended to be disrobed and wiped down with a damp flannel in most of his important little places.  Really - I kid you not!

Time now for a glass or two or three of something refreshing and payment of the bill so we proceed into the kitchen only to discover that the death dust has also descended the chimney and has been liberally sprinkled like icing sugar on a sponge cake within a fairly large radius of the fireplace.  So after drinks all round and a quick and rather painful flash of the cheque book I then have to set to (without the aid, I might add, of a bio-hazard suit) and clean up.  Hey, ho - whatever next?  I don't think I really want to know.  I'm away to write some more poems,

Sunday, 4 August 2013

When does "pissed off" become an art form?

Not an idle question I might add.  I ask because I think I have finally managed to elevate it to that status.  Read on ......  today's poem needs no further explanation and there are no pictures because I simply wasn't in the mood to go in search of any.


I don't know how to tell you this
But I have ANOTHER problem!
It's hornets - great big hairy ones
And there's really a lot of them.

I thought at first it was the wind
Just whispering in the chimney
But then I thought "no wind today"
And that is when I saw them!

Has anyone a stiff top lip
To glue beneath my nose?
I've really had enough of this
And could do with one of those.

It's also very costly
Keeping nature's pests at bay.
I'll have to call in pest control
To make them go away,

Perhaps I was quite wicked
In some long past life
Perhaps I killed my lover
And stabbed him with a knife?

All I know is - I'M FED UP!
It's always on a Sunday!
I'll just sit here with my swotter

Now do you understand?  On a positive note, at least I only have two chimneys for them to occupy.  Perhaps I should put out a sign saying "Beavers welcome" although I think that could get a girl into all sorts of other trouble!

I do hope that's his tail!

Friday, 2 August 2013

P is for Pinterest

I cannot believe how many people there still are out there in cyber-space yet to discover the joys of Pinterest.  I'm totally hooked, fascinated, obsessed and amused all at the same time.  It's not like driving, you won't go off the road as I so often do when something catches my eye, so take a look over to your right where you will see the P for Pinterest button.  Now hover your cursor over it and in one quick click you will be transported to another world.

The first of my whopping 101 boards you come to is, predictably, Long Dog Samplers with all sorts of things for you to admire and lust after.  There's a board for the lace lovers amongst you under it's French name of "dentelle".
Hands up if you're into scent bottles as you'll find oodles of them much prettier than these on the Bouteilles & Bocaux board.  And don't just stop there, have a look at "To be a pilgrim" - you'll be quite shocked at some of the bawdy things on there.
You'll find all sorts of ideas to inspire new projects.  Where else could you instantly find something exciting to do with a whole load of old shirt buttons? 
What really gives me a buzz is to see what people decide to repin to their own boards and by far the most popular subject is underwear - and the racier the better.  Curiously, the second favourite is designer pottery, particularly the very wacky pieces that you have to look at twice before you know which way up they are meant to be.
So far I seem to have notched up a staggering 4740 pins and have 119 followers already.  Now how come there's more people following me on Pinterest than follow this blog which, incidentally, takes far more time and thought to produce?  You should  know what's coming next by now - if you aren't already an official follower please rectify this oversight immediately.  Sorry, I seem to have typed that with my posh accent.
And, what's more, once you've finished looking at all my jolly, weird, wacky pictures just cursor up to the search bar, type in a name or a subject you're into and off you go again with more things to look at than you could shake a stick at.  But wait ..... don't stop there, sign up for yourself and become a "Pinter-o-maniac" like me.

Thursday, 1 August 2013


Lammas is one of the four great Celtic fire festivals which is celebrated on 1st August to mark the wheat harvest.  It's sometimes also known as the feast of the first fruits - sounds nice, doesn't it, who wants to be the first fruity one?  Camilla, I might have known!

Traditionally a loaf is baked and blessed in church then cut into quarters so that it can be placed at the four corners of the barn to protect the garnered grains while they are stored there.  Corn maidens are also woven from the newly cut wheat stalks to keep in the house for fertility and protection during the coming year as were ashes from the fires.

Marking, as it does, the start of the waning year and the beginning of autumn it has always been a time of handfasting when couples would jump the dying fires to declare their love and solemnise their union.  In the days before electric blankets and central heating you needed some way (or someone) to keep your feet warm on cold winter nights.

Why is she telling us all this old toffee it's got nothing to do with cross stitch?  Because, Alice dear, I've written another poem - groan - which I would like to share with you.  So while I plough my fields you can all scatter if this isn't to your liking .....


Light the fires, the Lammas fires
Like folk have done since times forgot.
The gule of August is upon us
Bring in the wheat, don't let it rot.

Bake the loaf, the Lammas loaf
And have it churched so it can start
To work it's magic, ancient magic,
In our barns and in our hearts.

Jump the fires, the Lammas fires
Handfasting time has come again.
Take your sweetheart, do not tarry.
From this day forth you'll be as twain.

Take the ashes, the Lammas ashes
To your home and to your hearth.
Receive through them the age old blessings.
Harvest's done now autumn starts.

Have you noticed the nights are starting to drawing in now?