Friday, 31 October 2014

All Hallow's Eve

There's ghoulies. and ghosties,
And long-legged beasties,
And children abroad, for tonight
Is All Hallow's Eve
So you'd better believe
There'll be monsters to give you a fright!

 You'll hear taps on the floor,
An occasional roar.
Vile threats that will curl up your toes.
So hand over those sweets,
Give them plenty of treats
And don't let a witch through your door.
The sky is so dark,
We won't go to the park
Just stay at home free from all harm.
Those pumpkins are scarey.
Say an extra "Hail Mary"
And turn on the burglar alarm!

 Tomorrow's All Saint's Day.
Our fears once more hearsay
And life can return to the norm.
No more tricks, no more treats,
No strange sights in the streets.
Just be thankful you've weathered the storm!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A little bit of gothic .....

...... never comes amiss this close to Halloween.
So where better to find some than down among the dead men
(and women, or course) in the churchyard at St Ed's.
Imagine the scene in a couple of sleeps time, just as darkness
is falling, when the local spotty youths will be congregating
in the bus shelter before
daring each other to take the short cut past all the
spooky gravestones on their way to the local
supermarket to buy their cheap cans of lager and eye
up the local talent.  The only night of the year when
they won't be put off by a couple of warts and a pointey hat.
I included this one not because I thought it might send the
odd shiver or two down your spines but because I thought
it showed potential as a cross stitch motif.
I'm sure the owner won't mind and judging by the date
it's well out of copyright.
Always save the best till last ......
..... and this one really would make you jump if you turned
round suddenly and hadn't realised she was there!
Happy haunting.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Are you sure this is wise Julia?

No, I'm not sure, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

However one quick look and I soon changed my mind.
Wot no Sean Connery look alikes?
No second-hand Michael Caines
or even a well thumbed Ian McShane
- just this lot.
I wonder what the two with hats on are trying to hide?
Or perhaps they feel it gives then that
debonaire touch of mystery.
Dream on baldie!
Now that's more like it, a much better
line of enquiry to pursue indeed.
By the way Mary - that looks suspiciously
like your Paul to me.  Top row, far right.
Ooops .......

Sunday, 26 October 2014


Pink Feet from Iceland,
Brents from the cold,
White Front's from Russia,
Canada's bold.
They all fly together,
They all fly in skeins.
Quick fetch in the washing
Their poo really stains!
Lots from the Arctic,
None come from Spain
But they all come together
..... it's goose time again.
Just another good reason for returning, like the geese,
to Acle on the marsh near the sea with big sky.
But, unlike the geese, I'm not planning on laying any eggs!

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Black Death

Today we're back at St Ed's in Acle to take a look at another
of it's treasures - the Graffito!
Mind the steps as you enter.
The old Saxon round tower with Norman additions.
 With the ebola virus rampaging throughout parts of Africa
and beyond it doesn't somehow take too much
imagination to picture how it must have been
in mediaeval Europe during the time of the plague.
Suspicion of strangers, panic in the hearts of the
people and fear on the faces of all lest it should
come calling and step over the threshold into their homes.
Not much to look at but a powerful message nonetheless.
 Acle was one such place touched by the pestilence
in the year 1349 because a message was recently discovered
written on the north wall which had been hidden for
centuries by plaster.  It read as follows:
Oh lamentable death, how many dost thou cast into the pit!
Anon the infants fade away, and of the aged death makes an end.
Now these, now those, thou ravagest, O death on every side;
Those that wear horns or veils, fate spareth not.
Therefore, while in the world the brute beast plague rages hour by hour,
With prayer and with remembrance deplore death's deadliness.

 No one knows who wrote the Latin inscription.
It may have been the Parish Priest holed up in the church
saying masses for the dead while all around the plague rampaged
sparing no one, high or low.

I bet my bum looks big in this.
 The use of the words "horns and veils" in the inscription
is thought to refer not to sinners and the righteous
but to lay and religious women as horned headdresses
were very popular in the middle years of the 14th century.
And on that cheerful note I shall leave you.
I must go and look for my paint spray can - you
never know when you might want to leave the odd
few words on the north wall!
Although I think in similar circumstances I'd
keep it short - "Damn and blast".

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Home Contents Insurance - aaargh!

This morning I popped into the office, which is
the beating heart of our little community, to flag up a
problem with my gutters.  Whilst there I just happened to
glance at the notice board and saw a poster
for a company offering contents insurance
specially tailored for people in similar circumstances
to myself.

Knowing my luck, I thought I'd better.
 Good, I thought, that will save me a trip into Norwich
so I jotted down the details (including an extremely attractive
first year offer of £25.54 which is less than 50p per week
as they were quick to point out for those of us whose
wits are too addled to work it out for themselves.)

Is your mummy there Peter?
 Back at the lock up I wasted no time in phoning and spoke
to a "child" who introduced himself as Peter.
I was tempted to ask if his mummy knew he was playing
with the phone but somehow managed to resist.
Now we get to the bit which outraged me.
We went through all the rigmarole and small talk and
he quoted me a figure of £56.92.  That's strange,
I said in my best dowager voice, the poster in the office
said £25.54 for the first 12 months.  How do you
explain that?

Don't mess with the wrinklies - some of us still have teeth!
 Without turning a hair he told me that company policy was
to only offer the lower price if challenged.
I'll leave it to your own imaginations to write
the ending to this little scenario as I don't really want
to go into print with my exact words.
But to give you a clue - thieving and another word for
illegitimate were in there somewhere.

Monday, 20 October 2014

God moves in a mysterious way ......

..... his wonders to perform
which is why, on my first surreptitious visit to the Church of
St Edmund King & Martyr in Acle
that I made a rather spectacular entrance through the
North door (yes, I know, the one usually reserved for the Devil!)

The North Door
I was so busy sticky-beaking everything at once that I failed
to miss one vital, and rather important, piece of information.
The rather tiny and partially obscured sign which
read "Mind the steps".

Consequently my first view was captured laying flat
on my back at the foot of said steps whilst
uttering foul oaths and blasphemies for which I
expect to pay heavily on the Day of Judgement.
Good job the Vicar wasn't about.
15th century font
 The font is one of the church treasures and was dedicated
in 1410 AD, so eat your hearts out my colonial readers,
we're talking real history here!
It has eight panels containing the symbols of the four evangelists
alternated with angels all doing angelic things.
No Alice dear, not making Angel Delight, whatever next?
Some of the faces had been smashed during the Reformation
only to suffer further vandalism at the hands of the Victorians
when they attempted to restore them!
Talking of faces, there is also a rather moving memorial to the men from
Acle who fell during the Great War which is somehow made all the
more poignant by the fact that it bears fading sepia photographs
instead of simply a list of names carved in stone.
There's a great deal of interest in St Ed's which could turn
into a mini-series if I'm not too careful but for the moment
I'm off to find something soothing for all my bruises
which are springing up like mushrooms as I type.
And - yes, Camilla, I've tried turning the other cheek
but it doesn't help.


Saturday, 18 October 2014

In the grip of a new passion

Sad to say it's nothing physical and steamy like a close
encounter with Sean Bean or even a "phantom affair"
with the late Oliver Reed - I wonder if that's
what causes "phantom pregnancies"?
Gone potty in my dotage.
No, it's much more down to earth than that
or Coral Bells as they're sometimes known.
You can't smoke them, you can't eat them but they
are a true feast to the eye with colours that change with
the seasons and leaves that stay put all year round.
They are of the family Saxifragaceae and hail from North America.
Mine hail from much closer to home, from the nursery
of Jooles and Sean aptly named Heucheraholics.
They are regular exhibitors and prizewinners at Chelsea Flower Show,
which speaks volumes in itself.  Their service is speedy,
their attention to detail superb and their knowledge priceless.
(That should get me a couple of freebies next time I order!)
The theme at Chelsea this year was the commemoration
of the First World War where they excelled themselves with
a garden called Warhorse complete with sandbags and soldiers helmets.
Here at the Lock-Up things are done on a much smaller scale,
nevertheless I think the Long Dog warhorse tribute display shows
the enthusiasm of a novice heucheraholic
and the promise of colourful things to come in my
herbacaous flower pots once I've got them all planted.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

I seem to have become flavour of the month around here ....

..... if only for one brief, fleeting moment in time
having just donated a huge bagfull of knitting wool,
which was surplus to my requirements, to the
local ladies knitting circle.

Home alone.

This august body of women meet regularly to
upcycle mounds of multi-coloured wools into
cuddly toys for sale in aid of various charities
throughout the year.


My husband used to puff himself up like a toad
from time to time and pronounce that women only
knit and sew to give their hands something to do
while they talk incessantly.
It's a wonder he lived as long as he did really.
The expression "male chauvinist pig" comes to mind
and come to think of it the term seems to have
fallen out of vogue of late.
I'm sure it can't be for want of candidates.
I'll take nominations should you wish.

These were made by an affiliated group up at Sandringham.

However, I digress.
These ladies may well all knit like the true angels
that they are but whether taken one at a time
or collectively (in their skein)
a sense of humour is one attribute they certainly
don't possess.

Camilla, where did you put the two balls that were left over?

So after a chance and rather flippant request for
a knitted "toy boy" I fell extremely swiftly from grace
and am no longer the rum and raisin delight on the
block but merely the new, and slightly odd, lady from No 5.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

If you go down to the woods today .....

.... there's a couple of things you need to check out first.
Arthur is in charge of the bear's "hedge" fund
1.  Has the venue already been booked by the local bears?
Arthur is a giant bear who lives out in all weathers in a gap in
his owners front hedge.  He is seldom if ever noticed
by people who pass at speed in their cars
but to pedestrians like me he brings a little smile every
time I go by.  He had nothing planned
in the woods today but next week they're definately off limits.
2.  Are you wearing suitable footwear?
And this is the hurdle at which I fell and so decided to take
the footpath up to the bridge instead.
There were still some mad sods about holidaymaking in their
little tupperware boats.  A fate which I used to regularly
suffer when my husband was alive.
But not any more!
I can think of nothing more miserable now than sitting in a chilly,
damp, confined space watching the rain pouring down
the windows (inside and out) and being asked if I would fancy
a game of Scrabble - no, I bloody wouldn't.
Now what words can I make with these tiles - CFFFKOU - I wonder?
The pub's not open yet, although people are starting to
gather in anticipation of the "all week Sunday roast"
but I don't think I shall hang about on this occasion
as my feet are starting to complain in these silly shoes
and I could do with a cup of tea.
Not so much the last rose of summer, more like the
final sunflowert of fall!
Anyway it gave me another reason to smile
-they always do.  I shall call him Michael.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Try anything once post script

If you've read the comments on yesterday's post
you will see that Erica has pointed me in the direction
of another artist who's "done" bowlers.
The late Lindsay Crooks of Dunedin, NZ.
In his particular case at Brighton.
Recreational Fisherman
I was unable to find a picture which I could reproduce for you all
to see so you'll just have to content yourselves with his jolly fisherman
instead unless of course you'd like to follow this link:

Thanks for introducing me to his work Erica,
albeit posthumously!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

I'll try anything once ....

.... and yesterday was no exception.
Actually it all started earlier in the week when a
cheery Scotswoman sitting next to me in the doctor's waiting
room posed the question, "Do you bowl?"

Good old Beryl Cook.  I love her work.
Not something I had ever thought about really
but she assured me that even if I didn't fancy
bowling the Social Club in Acle is very
lively and I would soon get to make new friends.
So with my misgivings put to one side and
just the merest touch of blusher on my cheeks
I sallied forth to see what fate had in store for me.

I must have been very wicked in a former life, that's all I can think.
I lasted all of half an hour!
Everyone was very friendly and welcoming,
I could find no fault there.
Everyone was also a good fifteen years my senior,
clad in white with their names machine stitched just
above their left breasts.  Whether for ease of identification
or in case they forgot I'm still not sure.

Beryl strikes again.
I watched the first "rubber" or "chukka" or whatever it is
they call a game played out in total, intense silence
as they waved their arms aloft trying to send kinetic, directional
messages to their woods and rolled their eyes when the
particular wood in question took not a blind bit of notice
and hurtled on to land with a thump in the gulley.
They came equipped with towels to keep their hands
free from moisture, personalised bags to carry
their bowls from A to B, specialist lifting devices for
those unable to bend but what really freaked me out
was when an elderly gentleman took a small aerosal spray
from his pocket and proceeded to squirt his woods.

I'm a cross stitcher - get me out of here!

Friday, 10 October 2014

It's been raining .... quite a lot .....

..... inside and out!
The chewing gum trick didn't stop the problem for long.
It might work at that.
If it had carried on much longer I was seriously contemplating
turning the conservatory into a giant acquarium.
It would have been rather cool to sit in my one comfy chair
watching creatures of the deep swim past my patio doors.
It still might happen ......
But then the sun came out from behind the clouds
and I telephoned the local builder to come
and survey the damage.
Sideways of course.
With perfect timing the door bell rang just as I had put the last
Bourbon biscuit in my mouth - whole.
An awquard silence ensued as I tried not to dislodge
my false teeth in my haste to deal with the offending object.
"I'll wander through and take a look shall I?", he said,
like a true gentleman, leaving me to regain my composure
and empty my mouth at the same time.
It was just as I caught up with him standing on tiptoes in the
middle of the conservatory with the old blinds draped around
his shoulders like some oversized military sash, that a sound
like a pistol shot rang out leaving my ears ringing and my
heart beating a tad faster than usual.
"Thought so," he said, sucking on his teeth "Hear that?
(Of course I bloody did, they heard it in the village).
The roof's gone brittle, happens all the time.
I'll measure up and let you have an estimate for a
replacement.  Should be able to get you sorted next spring
if we get some decent weather."
A fine example of "brittle roof syndrome"
I thought that selling the Chateau meant leaving these sort of
problems far behind me in France for someone else to deal with.
It seems I was mistaken - I've inherited some new ones.
Fasten your seatbelts - here we go again!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

You can call me Pat

In sunny downtown Toronto there's a Spanish
style tapas restaurant that goes by the name of Patricia,
although she's know as Pat to all the locals.
But this is no ordinary eatery because they've literally
been driven up the wall with cross stitch.
Laura Carwardine did all the stitching by hand with a
little help from her friends.
I wonder what count of mesh she used?
For those of you into stats - you need to get out more.
It took two months to complete,
or 485 hours of work if you prefer.
There are 17,000 stitches spread over 21 x 4' by 8' panels.
That may sound a lot but I've just worked it out and
Dawn Chorus weighs in at 17,673 stitches.
So there should be nothing stopping you -
think big, climb the walls, the sky's the limit.
And imagine what you could accomplish with something
the size of Bois le Duc.
Do you think the vicar would mind if I gave his steeple a little touch up?

Monday, 6 October 2014

My forever home

"All is safely gathered in 'ere the winter storms begin."
These words from my favourite harvest hymn
serve equally well to describe my current state of being,
although I hope that the afore mentioned storms,
if not actually cancelled, have at least been put on
hold until I find someone to fix the leak in the conservatory.
That temporary piece of chewing gum won't hold indefinately.
We've got some old fashioned little shops here,
and look - they even do eggs in fours.
You'll be pleased to hear that I haven't managed to set light
to anything else these past few days and my time seems to be
spent rummaging in boxes and trying to turn chaos into order.
Why the fishing rod?  It just came along for the ride.
 The office above, as you can see, is still in need of
"a woman's touch" although where she's got to I have no idea.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to find a chum like
this hidden in the bedding boxes?
Unlikely but a girl can dream.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Last night

Last night I watched the stars.
I saw a bat.
And got a stiff neck.

And the best thing about it was
- the freedom to do so!