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Merry Christmas!

It's a bit late in the day, my only excuse that I've been watching a lot of movies with my family XD Also watched Doctor Who, cried a tiny bit, and that's where the spoilers end.

Anyway, to everyone who has followed this blog and my shops this year I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and I will see you all for a post in the New Year :)

Don't Quit

There are points when I start to wonder if any of my Etsy shops are right for me, let alone all three. I wonder if I should drop one or two and narrow my focus. Or I start to think that I'm barking up the wrong tree entirely and should choose a "proper" career and focus on that, like becoming curator of the British Museum or training to be a teacher.

But then something will happen, one of my Facebook pages will get a "Like" from someone that isn't a friend I've pestered into it, or I'll get a sale or two, and I'll remember why it is that I'm doing this. This evening was one of those times, I had to work until 7, so after dinner and a shower I finally sat down just after 8pm. I could have loaded up Sims 2 but instead I forced myself to sit down and finish editting the photos and then draft listings for my new Creative History badges.

About halfway through I was re-reading about Adeliza of Louvain and I wondered if I was wasting my time. Views have been down recently, everyone else seems to be having a "Christmas rush" and while I've had a few sales in recent weeks it's no where near as manic as other people have been having. Next year I'd like to start looking at selling wholesale to museums and the like, but then I wonder if there's any point.

But then I remembered the final few lines of a poem I particularly like, so I decided to persevere with the listings, finished reading about dear old Adeliza, thought up a bunch of tags, added the price and then saved the draft. When the page reloaded I noticed something had cropped up in my activity feed. I expected it to be a favourite, but instead it was a sale! Someone decided they were enough of a fan of Richard II to buy his badge.

I spotted the poem on Tumblr early on in the year and reblogged it then. After this evening I've reblogged it again, and I thought I'd post it up here for those of you feeling a bit low about your Etsy shops. I particularly like the last 6 lines.


Don't quit :)

Have a nice evening everyone!

Us British are starting to develop a trend of copying the Americans. However today we're copying something that I actually agree with, Small Business Saturday. It's a chance for small businesses to highlight themselves and encourage shoppers to consider alternatives to large supermarkets and branded stores.

Firstly just to remind everyone (since this is my blog) I have three shops on Etsy, The Bibliophile which sells vintage books, Creative Classics which sells ancient history themed badges and postcards, and Creative History which is more badges but with more medieval themes.

So, shameless self-promotion set aside, I thought I'd highlight some of the UK-based Etsy shops I've been buying from recently.

Pale Aqua Sea Glass Earrings by thestrandline

The first shop is thestrandline which sells the loveliest jewellery. Maureen Gilbertson lives in Northumberland and sources her sea glass from walks along the Northumberland coast. I recently purchased something from her and not only was it dispatched quickly but she also took great care to wrap it in bubblewrap and put it in a padded envelope. It came in a lovely blue giftbox secured with a silver ribbon, and I have no doubt that the person I bought it for will love it. If you're looking for something a little unusual but still pretty and tasteful then I cannot recommend this shop enough.

Washi Tape - Green Selection by JoandFlo

I must admit I think I'm becoming a bit of a washi tape addict at the moment. Maybe it's because it's so much prettier than normal sellotape. Or perhaps it's because JoeandFlo are so awesome to buy from. Don't let the fact that they have 14 listings fool you, each one gives you multiple tape choices. Most of the tapes are £1.60 each (except for some of the more elaborate ones) and the postage charges are very reasonable. You have a very wide variety of tapes to choose from, and at the moment they're also featuring Christmas tapes if you want to give a different style to your Christmas wrapping.

The two above are shops that I've bought things from recently, but there are plenty of other UK shops on Etsy that have some awesome products which would make great Christmas presents. GingerDuckSoap sells handmade soaps and candles, Pouch is a mixture of handsewn goodies and vintage accessories, BreadAndJam has printed mugs and tote bags and OfLifeAndLemons does prints and cards.

Have a lovely Small Business Saturday everyone!

Canterbury

I've owed this blog post for a few days now, so I apologise for the delay to my fans :) On Thursday my boyfriend took me to Canterbury to see the cathedral for my recent birthday, which also gave me the opportunity to break out the camera and take some snaps!



Canterbury in itself is a nice place to walk around. There's a lot of old and, in cases such as the pub above, rather unique buildings to see as you wander along. Quite a few are half-timbered ones from the Tudor period, in a few places one or two looked a little more Georgian in design. The side streets are quite narrow with the buildings overhanging, basically how London used to be before the center burned to the ground in the 1600's.


There's also a river running through it, although I can't for the life of me remember which one (actually I've just Wikipedia'ed it and it's the River Stour, I'm very glad I didn't try to claim it was the Thames XD) and some of the buildings literally overhang the water instead of the street.


The cathedral itself is beautiful. There's the usual intricate carvings and high-vaulted roofs, but there's also a lot of lovely stained glass including some along the windows right at the top of the roof (which must be difficult to clean, even with scaffolding!) and a lot of carved marble memorials along the inside walls. Jon pointed out that a lot of them were for members of the armed forces but thinking about it that doesn't surprise me too much, soldiers were far more likely to die abroad so their families didn't have a grave to visit, but a memorial in their home town acted as a marker that connected their family to the deceased and ensured they would be remembered.

What always amazes me about these buildings is the fact that they were built entirely by hand. No power tools, no health and safety, just wood and rope scaffolding and ladders. It raises the question of just how many men died in the process of building these incredible monuments?



After we'd been around the inside (including the shrine to Thomas a Beckett, which was quite moving in a way, but I preferred the single lit candle that stands where the main shrine used to be before the Reformation) we walked around the outside as well and saw the cloisters, where Jon took the above photo. We then diverted to the nearest pub for a tasty lunch, and on our wanders visited the Roman museum, which was nice and modern but rather small and quite difficult to navigate with the school group that was there.

If anyone is thinking about visiting a nice old city then I can highly recommend Canterbury. We probably would have wandered around a bit more had not been freezing cold and drizzling, I'd also recommend visiting in the warmer months in future.

Have a nice evening everyone!

Not Dead

Just been reminded to come and tell you all that I'm not dead.

Blog will probably return in the New Year, post about a trip to Canterbury will be coming this weekend :)

Orchids

I'm probably the only person in London that occasionally has to move a large washing up bowl, stuffed with orchids in their pots, out of the shower and on to the bathroom floor so that I can have a wash XD

One of my housemates likes to grow orchids, and they do look lovely on the bathroom windowsill as he's got whites, purples and yellows so we have a nice mixture of colours. They don't need to be watered frequently but you do need to give them a nice long soak on occasion, so every so often they can be found in a big bowl in the shower tray.

Orchid Necklace by ElizabethSMurray

I stumbled on this shop while looking at orchids on Etsy and I loved it so much I had to feature it! Every piece is made with stamped silver and polymer clay inlays. The details are incredible, such as getting the right shade of blue on the kingfisher, or the little purple speckles on the petal of the orchid above.

Have a nice evening everyone!

Link to Hope

You might remember that last year I posted about Christmas shoeboxes made by myself and my Mum.

This year the charity, Link to Hope (they changed their name from Link Romania as they support people in several countries in Eastern Europe, not just Romania) is running their Christmas shoebox campaign again.

Today I finished off all my buying for my shoeboxes, once again I'm doing two family ones and two elderly ones. I got nice warm socks and woolly gloves along with some sweets and shampoo. There's also a wind-up torch for one of my elderly shoeboxes at home as my Mum ordered a bunch of things off Amazon.

Both boxes have a mixture of useful bits, personal essentials, and fun things. Useful things include notebooks, a pencil case with pens and colouring pencils (especially good for children who are attending school), and mugs. Personals are the socks and gloves since winter is coming, as well as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap. And then fun things include a travel box of dominoes, a yoyo, stickers, colouring books and playing card packs.

I've now got to wrap them up and stick £2 to the paperwork to help cover delivery costs.

I decided to post this up now as shoeboxes need to be done and with an Area Collector by 5th November. If you'd like to join in this year then check out the Shoebox Appeal, check there's a Collector in your neighbourhood, and start shopping! It can be a bit on the expensive side, especially if you're like me and get carried away XD But I consider it to be my equivalent to monthly charity donations, and it's nice to think that people who struggle during the winter are getting things that make life a little easier.

Photos will probably be coming next week, assuming me and my Mum remember XD

Hyde Park

Today I went to Hyde Park for my friend's birthday. It's fast becoming a tradition that he holds some kind of treasury hunt for these events, but not the kind of treasure hunt that involves finding clues. This year we were given polaroid cameras and two lists. We had to take photos of one thing from the first list, combined with one thing from the second list.

We were all split into teams, generally with a mixture of people we knew plus a few new acquaintances. The team I was in had orange sashes and our "secret sign" was a salute. There was a race to get two props, we ended up with a plastic ray-gun and a long black wig. We were given two puzzles, which would give us two more things to photograph on our list, and had an hour and a half to complete everything.

A couple of examples of our work; we combined "An animal or animal statue" with "A BBC documentary" by taking a photo of two of our group with a camera and "microphone" (aka a pen) surrounded by pigeons, ducks and swans. We also had "A willing member of the public" and "Sherlock finds the killer instantly", with me as Sherlock, several team members and two willing members of the public looking shocked, and a baby who was part of our team pointing the ray-gun prop at a pair of shoes (with her Dad's help) as if she had just disintegrated someone.

It was a lovely afternoon coming up with all these ideas and running around the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park to take them all. When I have been to Hyde Park in the past it has only been to see the Winter Wonderland, which takes over most of the park. Now that I've seen it without all of that in the way I think I will have to return again for a proper walk, and with my camera naturally.

Recipes

Another quick blog post as I'm still having a tidy-up around the place and tonight I'm checking my vintage books.

I'm going through another phase of wanting to try new recipes. I've got three cookery books from the library that I need to sit down and go through, and I've also been adding recipe pages to my "favourites" list (they have their own little folder).

The problem is finding the time and enthusiasm to try any of them, let alone all of them. On the one hand they do look very tasty, but on the other hand if I try them and mess them up then I feel like I've wasted both food and my money.

My other problem is that any recipe from a borrowed book has to be written out into my own recipes folder, which involves me sitting down with a pen, and on occasion I'm a bit too lazy for that ;)

Not really sure what the point of this post is, other than to make myself hungry even though I've already eaten dinner.

Also tomorrow may have to be Wordless Friday as I'm going to be busy in the evening :)

Autumn Mist

Woke up this morning to find my corner of London had a lovely autumn mist! It gave a slightly damp feeling to the air and made me feel quite happy as I walked to work.

It had all burnt off by the time my morning teabreak rolled around and the sun was out, which made my lunchbreak later in the day far warmer than I expected.

Naturally this has put me in a very autumnal mood...

Autumn Leaves Lavendar Bag by FledglingCrafts

I hope my previous mentions of my love of lavendar explain why I chose this particular item out of all the other autumn-themed ones on Etsy ;)

Have a nice evening!

Back to Normal

Following my post yesterday from Brussels I can safely say I'm back home in Kew!

I decided to leave my suitcase last night as I couldn't face unpacking after having tea and some dinner. This morning I walked into Richmond for food and stopped off at a Cafe Nero for a hot chocolate and shortbread biscuits as a relaxing way to finish off my holiday.

After food I unpacked my suitcase and made a start on the laundry. I decided to skip baking by buying cake instead. I've tidied away my passport and other bits and pieces, and spent most of the afternoon watching anime.

I've also packed up two sales I made on Creative Classics during the week. They'll be posted out tomorrow. One of these, along with a sale I made last week, meant that I sold out of my "Archaeologists do it in trenches" postcards. I've therefore decided it's time to start selling them in several colours, they'll soon be available in red, pink, blue and purple as well as green!

Have a nice evening everyone!

Brussels

A blog post is needed for today so I thought I'd put free WiFi to use!

I'm currently in Brussels-Midi station, I've gone through the usual passport control and security checking and now I'm drinking and eating a massive slice of delicious chocolate cake. It's so massive though that I may not finish it, which will be a sad waste but on the other hand I don't want to be sixk on the train.

I'm currently waiting for my Eurostar train. Unfortunately while my camera is at my side the memory card reader is in my suitcase and retrieving it would involve unpacking, so there are no cake and tea pictures for today.

My time is also being occupied by keeping an eye on the football score, QPR are playing Yeovil.

Have a nice day everyone!

Last Day

Today is my last full day in the Netherlands as I'm heading back to England tomorrow afternoon. We were going to go for a hike, but in the end Eva wasn't feeling too well and I keep sneezing and blowing my nose (the first cold of the season), so we opted for staying in and keeping warm.

One of the films we watched this afternoon was "United", which is about the 1958 Munich plane crash which killed several members of the Manchester United squad known as "Busby's Babes". The players were all relatively young, hence their name. I actually knew very little about it, but had a read of the Wikipedia page after we finished the movie. I think the whole thing was done very well, and pays a decent tribue to both the deceased and the survivors.

We've also been entertaining the cats, who have been chasing after a pen on and off for the afternoon and at one point one of them skidded across the floor in a desperate attempt to get to the pen first.

This is either Liam or Locke, can't remember which one. They're both a mixture of crazy and sleepy. One of them ended up having a nap on my legs last night which surprised Eva as he's not really much of a lap cat.

This evening we've indulged in Star Trek: Into Darkness, and a takeaway. I went for chicken nuggets, chips and to fit in with the Dutch I had a beef croquette. The chips aren't like proper British chips, but they were delicious, and I managed to avoid the Dutch tradition of putting mayonaise on them.

Tomorrow's blog post will no doubt be very, very short unless I can think of something to write about when I'm on the Eurostar.

Have a nice evening everyone!

Monkeys & Pancakes

Last time I visited the Netherlands our one and only day out was to an animal sanctuary that had a cafe that did very tasty pancakes. We decided to visit it again on this trip, especially since last time we went there were no monkeys out in the monkey area.



As you can see from these photos, this time the monkeys were out and about! Last time we went on a Wednesday and didn't realise at the time that that was the cleaning day for the whole sanctuary, so we only saw a few goats and a pig. This time the monkeys were out, along with sheep and pigs, and a swan and ducks in the river.


My boyfriend emailed me last night to tell me he wasn't sure what he'd prefer, a photo of me being terrorised by monkeys, or a photo of me enjoying my holiday. You can't get close enough to be terrorised by the monkeys (thankfully!!) so I went with looking vaguely worried as close to the fence as you can get.


While this may not look like a tasty pancake, I can assure you it was actually very delicious. I had a cheese and bacon one, while Eva had a cheese one and then an apple one. I had learned from previous experience that bacon and cheese was plenty to fill me up, so didn't bother with a dessert pancake. I also won't need any dinner after this, just some Pringles and a bit of toast to fill in the gaps.

Have a nice evening everyone!

Lazy Day

Today has been a day of lounging around, and a certain amount of stupidity.

We had this day set aside to walk Eva's Dad's dogs, Bruce and Lana, throughout the day. But in the end we went for one walk this morning.

This is where my stupidity comes in, I took my camera with me, and managed to get some good shots of both dogs. But I've just gone to get my memory card out of my camera so I can sort out the photos aaaand...it's not in there. It's still in the card reader, left over from last night XD So, no dog pictures for anyone.

This afternoon has been spent listing badges on my new Etsy shop, Creative History, and sorting out some new colours for some of Archaeologist postcards that recently sold on Creative Classics, and watching TV.

Very little else going on, just generally lounging around. Tomorrow will hopefully involve some photos, if I forget my memory card again I'll be massively annoyed.

Walking Adventure

Today me and Eva were at a loss for things to do, so in the end we decided to go for a walk and then reward ourselves afterwards at a cafe that Eva said did very nice hot drinks.

We're a bit unlucky with the weather, it keeps alternating between sunshine and showers, so we did our best to time our walk between the rain. It didn't work completely, it rained a bit once we got to the forest where the walk started, but once the showers stopped and the sun came out we soon dried off.

I'm under instructions to tell you all that we had to edge around a cliff, and we saw lots of nature and wildlife. In reality we had a bit of a death-defying moment (alright, a moment where we could have fallen into a pond) on a very slippery bridge, edged our way around a tree with a very slippery path next to the river, saw a deer, and found a mushroom. The rest of the time were vaguely lost, in that we weren't sure where we were but Eva was fairly certain we were going in the right direction. There were very few maps around, and no signposts to point us in the right direction, unless we were on a cycle path. Cyclists are allowed to know where they're going, hikers just have to hope for the best :P


We eventually found our way back to the start and went to the cafe for some hot chocolate and something to eat. They had a mixed platter that we decided to share, with me eating the meat and Eva eating the vegetarian-friendly bits (olives, cheese, egg rolls and crackers).


We've now had dinner, got pizza as a reward for walking so much today. And tomorrow will include more walking as we have two golden retrievers to entertain!

Have a nice evening everyone!

Amsterdam

Hello from the Netherlands!


First day of my holiday and since the weather forecast is far from positive me and Eva decided to make the most of the sunshine this morning and head to Amsterdam. We haven't been to the city for a good few years, but every time we go we do something touristy. In the past we've done a canal tour, and the Amsterdam Dungeon, this time we visited Anne Frank's house.

Pretty much everyone knows the tale of Anne Frank. She and her family were Jews who hid from the Nazis, helped by some of her father's staff. Their hiding place was betrayed and they were split up and sent to various concentration camps, Anne and her older sister died in Bergen-Belsen a month before the camp was liberated. Her father Otto was the only one to survive, when he returned to Amsterdam one of the women that had helped shelter them gave him Anne's diary, which she had saved after the soldiers had left. The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the world's best-known books.

The house itself is, as you would expect, very small. The walls are tastefully dotted with some exerpts and quotes from the diary, and there are screens that show video clips giving some of the background, and interviews with various people connected to the family. When you actually see the rooms themselves you realise how small the space was for so many people. What made it more real for me is that my youngest sister is around the same age as Anne was when she was living there, trying to imagine my sister cooped up in such a small space helped me realise how hard it would have been on Anne. No fourteen year old should live like that. If you are ever in Amsterdam then you really should visit it, if only to get some perspective of what various Jewish families experienced in order to escape persecution, the Franks were not the only Jewish family in hiding, hundreds of families were protected and sheltered across Europe.

After the house me and Eva went to clear the cobwebs with a cup of tea and some food.


Eva had a sandwich, I had a pecan brownie and a cup of tea. This is rather posh tea, the bloke that gave me the hot water looked rather confused when I asked for milk to go with it, but it was very nice in the end, even though I was using coffee creamer as a milk substitute.

We also then went for ice cream at a place Eva knows which does the most delicious ice cream ever. It genuinely tastes like frozen cream, rather than sugary ice milk. Really yummy!

Have a nice evening everyone!

Holland

Quick post to A) cover the fact that I need to do a blog post, and B) to say that I'm here!

Packing

I'm off on holiday on Sunday. Naturally I am delaying packing for as long as possible XD

I have however written a list of essentials, namely passport, tickets, my oyster card to get to the train station, and my euros.

Everything else is just there to keep me dry, right?


James Henry Harris

You might remember that a few months ago I wrote a blog post about my great-great uncle, George Harris, who died in the First World War.

Well on this day in 1915, George's older brother James Henry Harris died, also while fighting in the First World War. James had only been in action for a few months, his unit was sent to France in June 1915. However all of this information was unknown to me and my Mum until recently.

Starting at the beginning, James was born around 1885 in Westminster, London. He was the fourth child and second son of William John Harris and Harriet Louisa Harris, who went on to have five more children in the following years. James was followed in 1887 by Kate Harris, my great-grandmother. My Nan always told my Mum that James was Kate's favourite brother, I think her eldest brother William was a bit too old to be close as there were 8 years between them, and George, Albert and Harry were no doubt as annoying as younger brothers can be.

The Harris Boys, not sure which one is which though, the gentleman on the right is their father.

James' life is fairly easy to track, to a certain extent. He can be found on every family census from 1891 onwards, on the 1911 one he's a greengrocer helping his father in the business (William John had his own grocers and fruiterer's shop). He also witnessed his older siblings marry, his older sister Alice Maud married Alfred Latham in 1908 and William married Wilhelmina Koch in 1909, James' signature appears as witness on both marriage certificates. In October 1914 he then shows up on the certificate of Kate when she married her first husband, James Ashby.

Some time after witnessing this ceremony James signed up to go out and fight. He was placed in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, and "died in the war", as my Nan used to tell it. I don't know whether my great-grandmother found it too painful to talk about her beloved brother's death, or if my Nan forgot the details and so didn't pass them along to my Mum. But it's mostly been through the internet and some luck that details of his short service have been pieced together.


The first problem I had is that Harris is a very common surname, James is also a very common first name and many men weren't recorded by both first and middle name, so was I looking for a James Henry Harris, or just James Harris? My Nan had mentioned to my Mum that all the Harris boys were in the Duke of Cornwall's unit, but since I'd already found George in the Machine Gun Corps I knew that I couldn't rely on that info. While searching on Ancestry I came across the medal card above, since the information matched what I knew I saved it, along with two other possibilities (including one from a London Regiment which I felt was more likely).

I then managed to find a bit more information on the JH Harris in the above service register by searching Military Genealogy. I found that the JH Harris with the service number 11042 was born in Westminster and had been living in Holloway when he signed up, which made me 95% certain I had the right man. But 95% isn't 100%, and I was reluctant to say for certain that it was definitely him without absolute proof.

To be honest though, I assumed that proof would never come. His service record doesn't survive, 70% of service records from the First World War were destroyed by German bombs in the Second World War. I checked Ancestry every time free offers came up, just in case I had missed something, but there was nothing new for me to add.

Until recently, when Iron Mountain storage facility announced that it was digitising a collection of soldier's wills that it had been storing for years. It seemed a bit of a far-flung hope, there's only a few hundred thousand wills, and millions of men died, but I typed in his name, just in case...


He was there! I nearly cried when his name came up in the search results. I paid £6 and two days later a PDF arrived in my inbox. It's difficult to read as I've shrunk the image to fit this blog, but it simply says "In the event of my death I give the whole of my property and effects to my mother, Harriet Harris, 5 Hatchard Road, Upper Holloway, London". Not only does he name his mother, but 5 Hatchard Road is where his sister Kate listed as her address on her 1914 marriage certificate. Private 11042 is my great-great uncle.

This also means that I know for certain how he died. Eighteen months ago I paid a visit to The National Archives and went through the war diary of the 7th Battalion DCLI. I wasn't expecting much, James wasn't an officer, he was just an ordinary soldier, and it's normally only officers whose death is mentioned by name in war diaries. I was expecting to read the words "One Other Rank Killed". But at least I would get some context, whether they were being shelled or building up for a big push forward, I might at least know what was going on when he died. So imagine my shock he wasn't just named as being deceased, they even mentioned the circumstances.

Sept 12 - Pte J.H.Harris was killed by a sniper, whilst working in VC Avenue.





"Kindest Regards, form your loving brother, Jim"


Have a nice evening everyone.

I mentioned last week that I recently revisited my local library and came away with a large armful of books. At the moment I still haven't sat down properly with the recipe books I borrowed, but I have read another of the fiction ones I was reading.

A Cat, A Hat and a Piece of String is a new short story collection by Joanne Harris. She's one of my favourite writers, along with Philippa Gregory and Terry Pratchett whose books I have reviewed in the past. If the name sounds familiar but you can't place why then it's probably because you've seen the movie "Chocolat" starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, which was based on the book "Chocolat" written by...Joanne Harris! (As an aside, the sequel to Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes, is one of my favourite books).

As I mentioned above, this is a collection of short stories. Rather typically of Joanne Harris they're mixture of nostalgia, sweetness and downright creepy. Sweet is covered by two of the stories about Faith and Hope, two little old ladies living in a care home (also, while the story is sweet it does also give one an alternative glimpse into old people's homes that makes you hope you never end up in one). Nostalgia, to an extent, is the man who celebrates Christmas all year round. LITERALLY, all year round. And as for creepy, let's just say the baby made of cake and the ghost on Twitter made me reconsider eating sugar and indulging in social media.

While some of the stories are a little improbable, they are very well written and easy to dip in and out of. The only real problem is that you'll probably struggle to put the book down.

On this day in 1157, the future king Richard I of England (also known as Richard the Lionheart) was born. He was the son of King Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Technically he wasn't supposed to be king, he had two older brothers, William and Henry. William died at the age of 3, but Henry survived infancy and was known as "The Young King", until he died in a campaign against Richard and their father.

Team Richard I by The Creative Historian

Richard has traditionally been remembered as one of England's best kings, but in reality he somply used the country to fund his many military campaigns and left it in a terrible financial position when he died.

Have a nice day everyone!

Draft Excluder

When I was a little girl my grandparents had a draft excluder in the shape of a snake. It took me a while to work out what it was actually for, I assumed it was just a cuddly toy that stayed on the floor. Now that winter is coming I'm starting to think that getting a draft excluder for my room might be a good idea.

Sausage Dog Draught Excluder by TheSherbertPatch

This shop is full of gorgeous handsewn decorations for the home! There's draft excluders, doorstops and cushions, all in pretty patterned fabrics, so whether you like pale pastels or brighter shades you should be able to find something to your taste!

Have a nice evening!

After a few months of sticking to my own bookshelf, and re-reading the same books again and again and again as a result (which I do a lot anyway, but this was excessive) I finally returned to my local library. Luckily after a break of a few months I found some new books there that caught my eye and which were duly borrowed.

One of those books turned out to be a good but occasionally heart-rending read; A Nurse At The Front - The First World War Diaries of Sister Edith Appleton.

Edith Appleton was an English nurse who spent the First World War in France and Belgium, looking after wounded soldiers, both Allied and German. The information about her was originally published on a website, and recently her diaries were published in the above book.

If you're of a sensitive disposition then you need to avoid this book. What makes it a good read is that Edith Appleton didn't pull any punches with regards to what she experienced, including soldiers who were maimed or paralysed, or who spent days in agony before they finally died. But she also paints a beautiful picture of areas of northern France before they were devastated by shelling, and the stories of everyone clubbing together to make Christmas decorations make you realise that despite the horrendous numbers of casualties people still tried to make sure that life went on as normally as possible.

It also gives you the other side of the war. Most published diaries are from the soldiers themselves, whether they were frontline infantry or vicars who were running Sunday services and holding burials on a daily basis. In this diary you get the views not only of a woman, but a woman who at times was remarkably close to The Front. While she may not have had to deal with rats or contracted trenchfoot, she did have to deal with soldiers who bled to death, or suffocated as gas ate away at their lungs. The nurses who served in France had to be as tough as the soldiers, and Edith's diaries do occasionally mention those women who struggled to cope.

Overall this is an excellent read, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the First World War.

Melbourne

Today is the day that the city of Melbourne in Australia was founded! Since I frequently celebrate the anniversaries of American states I thought it was only fair to balance it out with something Australian.

Porcelain Blue Pattern Earrings by MyBlossomCouture


It was hard to choose a shop to feature, but in the end I went for this lovely jewellery shop. There's lots of lovely earrings, as well as necklaces and some pretty hairpins.

Have a nice evening everyone!

Yesterday I went to the National Trust property Osterley Park to visit their Country Fair weekend. I was a bit apprehensive because in my experience London doesn't manage to get the "countryside vibe" when it tries this kind of thing, but I thought I would give it a shot. I was also tempted by the fact that the posters about it mentioned jousting and the last time I saw that was when I went to the Renaissance Faire in Ohio a few years ago.

The bad news is that it was £6 for entry and honestly I don't think it was worth it. There were three small marquees as the "craft fair" part and they were mostly full of jewellery. Looking at the stall prices on the organiser website, it's pretty obvious that most crafters would have been priced out of featuring right from the start. It seems that nowadays you're not a proper "craft business" if you can't afford £150 for a stall, even over a two day event. In comparison the last time I did a fair back in my home village is was £20 for a day in the craft marquee, and they cover two fields that never seem to be short on sellers.

Last time I went to a country fair was the awesome one hosted at Hatfield House, which I won tickets for. THAT was impressive as it had a wide range of things to see and do, with several events going on at the same time throughout the day, a huge range of places to buy food and quite a lot of charity stalls as well. Osterley Park had a few children's rides and a few food stalls, but nothing out of the ordinary, and public numbers seemed a bit thin on the ground as well.

However despite all this I managed to get some decent photos.


Osterley Park Hall - Front View


Osterley Park Hall - Front View


This photo is the ceiling on the inside bit between the pillars at the front of the house (I can't think of the proper technical name for it).  


"William Wallace", one of the Knights of the Damned

I can't remember the name of this "character" but the rider is a woman, she did a very nifty stunt where she tried to pick up a "peasants head" by dropping down the side off the saddle.

"William Thatcher" and his adversary "Count Adhemar", clearly someone has been watching 
"A Knight's Tale" a bit too much.

Overall if it wasn't for the jousting I would have felt that ripped off. I don't think I'll be bothering to go back next year unless there's definitely more stalls and more to see throughout the day.

Have a nice day everyone!

Cookies

I spend part of every Sunday doing a bit of baking so I can have a little extra in my lunchbox. This generally consists of either uniced fairycakes (uniced because I don't really have the time or inclination to deal with icing XD), chocolate chip cookies, or cornflake cakes.

Today I've been baking chocolate chip cookies, which are a favourite of my colleagues at work so I thought I'd share the recipe so others can share them with family and friends! It's not a family recipe, it's one that my Mum got from a Mary Berry cookbook, so if it looks familiar it's probable that you've got the same book!

Cookies by Me!

6 oz (175 g) soft margerine
8 oz (225 g) caster sugar
12 oz (350 g) self raising flour
4 oz (100 g) chocolate chips
2 eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 180 celcius or gas mark 4 and prepare 3 baking trays. Depending on how much mixture you use for each cookie you can get around 12 to 18 cookies, sometimes I manage to get 20 if I've got a few small ones in there.
Measure all the ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly until you get a smooth biscuit dough (if you're doing this by hand then your arm will get tired halfway through).
Place large spoonfuls of the mixtures well apart on the baking trays (I do 6 per tray). Flatten them with the back of the spoon.
Bake for around 15 - 20 minutes, then remove from the baking tray and cool on a wire rack.

They are incredibly tasty, probably because of the amount of sugar! Don't even ask me to tell you the calorie count XD Also the photo above is quite old as I took it a few months ago, but I use the same recipe every time and they all turn out the same :)

Have a nice day everyone!

Last Minute

This blog post is incredibly last minute due to me going food shopping, pausing in Richmond for a cuppa, then forgetting all about needing to write a post while I ate dinner and showered and started planning my holiday in Holland in a few weeks time.

I can't even find a nice photo or anything in my favourites to feature here. This is probably a sign that I should go to bed soon.

Have a nice evening everyone!

Over the weekend I finally got round to watching the CGI film Rise of the Guardians. It was created by DreamWorks Animation (creators of the Shrek films) and came out in the cinemas last year.

It tells the story of Jack Frost, who is chosen by the Man on the Moon to become a Guardian of children. The current Guardians are Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Sandman. Santa has a Russian accent, and the Easter Bunny is Australian (and voiced by Hugh Jackman). The "bad guy" is Pitch (as in "pitch black"), a Boogeyman that no one believes in.

Rise of the Guardians buttons by beanclam

The story is good, but I was really impressed by the animation and the scenery design, as well as some of the twists on childhood tales. Everyone knows that Santa has Elves, but did you expect to see Yetis? And the Easter Bunny lives in a lush green wonderland with tiny little eggs that bathe in paint to make them multicoloured.

If you have children, or are like me and just like kids films, you should really check out Rise of the Guardians. You might want to leave it until winter though, it has a very Christmassy feel to it, even though it's actually set at Easter.

Have a nice evening everyone!

Never too early

If you're planning on making homemade gifts, or you're a knitter or crocheter who's going to be attending craft fairs, it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas!

Every year I consider making my own Christmas cards, and then leave it far too late and don't get round to it. It's not got to the point where I instead buy Christmas cards in the January sales and simply store them away until December (although we won't mention the first year I did this, where I bought the cards and then forgot about them the following Christmas).

This blog post was mostly inspired by a Treasury I found, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

Jolly Robin Knitting Pattern PDF by fluffandfuzz

This Treasury has plenty to help you get started as it contains knitting and crochet patterns to download and supplies such as ribbon and bells to decorate your creations.

Have a nice evening!

On this day in 1851, Isaac Singer was granted a patent for his sewing machine.

Sewing machines weren't new at the time, but Singer's was more practical to use and could be adapted to use at home (according to Wikipedia).

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Instruction Booklet by sewmuchfrippery

Singer 66k Sewing Machine by HomeRetroUK

Happy birthday Singer sewing machines! I think they're pretty iconic, the very old vintage ones certainly are.

Have a nice evening!

The National Gallery

Continuing with my theme of visiting places, on Friday I visited The National Gallery with the same person I went to Tate Britain with yesterday. The National Gallery is open late on Fridays, and free to get in, it's also very easy to find as it's right next to Trafalgar Square.

Most of the galleries are on one floor, but grouped to cover a geographical area and a certain number of years, so one area covers paintings from 1500 to 1600, and then it's split in to Florence, Venice, the Netherlands etc etc.

Erasmus by Hans Holbein the Younger

I was quite pleased to see the Holbein is one of the artists on show as I've always like his work, although I have to rely on the descriptions to spot all the hidden symbolism he includes.

We didn't get round the whole thing, but what I saw was very nice so we'll be going back again in the future to finish off the rest of the galleries!

Have a nice day everyone!

Tate Britain

Today I went in to central London to visit the Tate Britain. I'm actually quite tired as it was a longer train-ride than I expected and then I walked along the Southbank as well afterwards, so this post is going to be quite short.

It was very interesting, I'm not a massive fan of art at the best of times but it was interesting to see some of the older things they had there. The Turner Gallery was nice, I hadn't seen much of his work in the past but the person I was with enjoys his art and knew a lot about the other works we were looking at, so for once I didn't wander around feeling like an idiot.

I still maintain that a lot of modern art is pretentious rubbish though :P

Have a nice evening everyone!

Trajan

On this day in 117AD the Roman Emperor Trajan passed away. He was the son of Emperor Vespasian, and is the second of the Five Good Emperors.



Vote Trajan by The Creative Historian

Have a nice day everyone!

Tanabata

Today is the beginning of the Tanabata festival in Sendai, Japan (the date of the festival follows a lunisolar calendar, so the date can be different for different regions). This festival celebrates the story of The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. The Wikipedia page has more about it, but the story basically goes that the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd meet, fall in love and marry. They neglected their duties, so the Weaver Girls' father, the Sky King, banned them from seeing each other.

The Weaver Girl was upset by this, and begged her father to let her see her husband. The Sky King agreed, but stipulated that they could only meet once a year. When the time came for them to see each other they found that they were on opposite sides of a bridgeless river. The Weaver Girl cried so much that a group of magpies took pity on her and made a bridge with their wings, so she could cross the river and be with her husband.

Since this is a "star festival", you can look in the sky and see the lovers, separated by the Milky Way.

Tiny Silver Star Wish Bracelet by lilyloveslola

Have a nice evening everyone!

New Doctor

Last night the new actor to play The Doctor was announced, and it's Peter Capaldi, who is known in the UK for swearing quite a lot in various films and TV shows.

I'd pay good money to see him tell a Cyberman to "f*** off", but then they'd have to broadcast it after 9pm :(

Tardis Bayeux Tapestry T-Shirt by flamingimp

Naturally this all means that I went searching Etsy for Doctor Who, and now it turns out you can get a t-shirt (and a mug) with Doctor Who in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry!

Have a nice evening!

Yesterday was the first match of the new football season! You might remember my blog post on the Last Match, which was a sad one for me to write as QPR had been relegated down to the Championship.

However a new season brings new optimism! And that optimism has been well rewarded as QPR beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 yesterday! I wasn't at the match, I was at work instead, but I'll be sure to get a run-down of the events from my Dad this afternoon. I can also wear my football shirt with pride tomorrow, once it comes out of the washing machine this afternoon.


My football feelings are well known by my friends, which is why my lovely friend Poppy tagged this with my name on Facebook. It isn't actually me, although I am a Katie, but I can safely say that even I don't own QPR-themed garden gnomes! I do have a QPR teddy though...

Have a nice day everyone!

William II

Today in 1100 AD, King William II of England was killed while hunting in the New Forest.

William II is quite an interesting character as he was the second son of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. Technically his older brother Robert should have inherited the crown (King Robert of England? Would we have called him King Bob?) but their father decided to split his kingdom and gave Robert the Dukedom of Normandy while William got England. Their younger brother Henry was given some money.

In the end though Henry had the last laugh. Along with ruling the kingdom the King was expected to provide an heir to his line, but William II (also known as William Rufus) didn't marry, or have any illegitimate children that may have inherited (his own father, after all, had been born out of wedlock and still gained the Duchy of Normandy). When he died in a hunting accident, Henry rode across the country to the Royal treasury at Winchester, then rushed up to London and promptly had himself crowned as King.

This of course leads to the suggestion that William's accident was more of an assassination, planned and paid for by Henry. William was barely cold before Henry had himself crowned, and chroniclers at the time state that William's hunting buddies left him where he fell (rushing off to support their new King), he was taken to Winchester Cathedral and interred by a few "countrymen" (Normans, rather than English). Whether or not it's true is entirely unknown, Henry either had a great sense of timing and vision, or he didn't fear the consequences of being betrayed by a conspirator.

I've always found the story interesting though as when we drive down to visit my Grandmother in Dorset we pass a road sign pointing to "The Rufus Stone". This stone is a memorial that was supposedly placed in the spot where William was killed. Of course it's impossible to tell the real spot, the New Forest is large and it happened hundreds of years ago. But it's still a fitting tribute to England's second Norman king, and the New Forest itself is beautiful enough to warrent a visit anyway.

Have a nice evening!

Goldfish

My housemates have gone on holiday for a few weeks, which means I've become a goldfish carer!

To show how seriously I'm taking it I've added "Feed goldfish" to my Google calendar alerts, and the fish food is on top of the microwave in the kitchen, a spot I walk past whenever I go in the kitchen, so even if Google fails me hopefully this won't.

Cute Goldfish Charm by Linnypigs

Except the goldfish isn't gold, he's blue. Does that make him a blue goldfish? A bluefish? A sapphirefish?

Have a nice evening everyone!

A few months ago I reviewed the book Queens Consort, about the various wives of England's kings from Matilda of Flanders through to Elizabeth of York. One thing this book highlighted, for me, is that I also know very little about the Kings themselves. My history is mostly the ancient world, and what I learned at school was distinctly more modern, covering both world wars and the Russian revolution.

While I was wandering around Waterstones at the beginning of the month I spotted a book called The Plantagenets by a man named Dan Jones. As the title suggests, it covers the Plantagenet line of Kings in England, starting with Henry I and finishing with the usurped Richard II.

Image from Amazon

This book is big, it has to be since it's covering quite a lot of history. But it's also a good read. It is split into seven parts, each one then divided into much smaller chapters. It's easy to cover a couple of chapters on your lunch break, so you feel that you're actually getting somewhere and have easy stop-off points when you need a break. It's written in a way that makes it quite easy to read, key players are mentioned without you getting confused between multiple Lord Williams and Lord Edwards.

Probably my biggest gripe with it is that sometimes the focus is a little too narrow. For some Kings their problems were exacerbated by the relationship between their Queens and the public, but this is barely touched on. Except to mention the popularity of weddings as festive occasions, and the births of heirs and subsequent children, consorts and families are rarely mentioned. Obviously this isn't a huge problem, this book is about the Kings not their wives, but I can't help but feel that it would have helped give a bit more context to the problems each ruler faced.

The second biggest annoyance with this book is that my copy has completely fallen apart! All I did was read it at home and transport it to work in a backpack, but the first page through to page 357 have completely come away from the spine and the rest of the book. I'm rather disappointed by the quality, I have vintage books over a hundred years old that survived better than this, but hopefully I simply got a dud copy and all the others will be fine.

Frankly I think Dan Jones needs to do a Part 2, he finished with Richard II, but the line continued in a more muted form with Richard's cousin who became Henry IV, and the Wars of the Roses that eventually followed. Despite my problems reading a broken book, it really was a very good read and something I'd highly recommend to someone who wants to learn more about the Royal family in the medieval period but doesn't want to get something that will make them feel bogged down in details.

Have a nice evening!

Beatrix Potter

On this day in 1866, the English children's writer Beatrix Potter was born! Naturally this means I'm going to have to rewatch the film "Miss Potter" this afternoon.

Along with publishing children's books, Potter helped preserve the country landscape of the Peak District by using her money to buy up farms and their land, and when she died in 1943 she left most of it to the charity National Trust. The land is now part of the Lake District National Park, an area that I intend to visit at some point in my life.

Beatrix Potter Tales and Nursery Rhymes by VintageCuriosityShop

Most children grow up with some of Beatrix Potter's work on their bookshelves, if you search on Etsy there's quite a few vintage copies of her books (including the three above, which are from a shop located in the UK) as well as some lovely items made with fabric and prints of her artwork.

Have a nice day!

Royal Baby

Yes, it's in the news wherever you are, Great Britain has a new Prince!

Here in the UK we like a good old Royal celebration (just look at the Royal wedding), so now's the time to get ready for a party because no doubt we'll find a way to make an extra Bank Holiday out of this (and if we don't I'll be very disappointed).





Union Jack Distressed Style Bunting by AllTheTrimmingsUK

No British party would be complete without some Union Jack bunting!

Have a nice evening everyone!

Storms

I was woken up just before 6:30 this morning by a rumble of thunder overhead. This rumble was soon joined by another, and then another, until a bloody great crash went off above my head, and then got quieter again as it moved on.

It was also accompanied by a few minutes of heavy rain, which was lovely for the plants but doesn't appear to have done much, the grass is still looking very unhappy. Right now I'm watching a storm radar on Netweather to see if there's anything approaching my little corner of London.

Stormy Night Necklace by DesignsbyZoZo

Turns out there's quite a few "storm" items on Etsy but this one caught my eye because of the awesome silver cloud and crystal raindrops!

Have a nice evening everyone!

Cat Mug

The weather is finally starting to cool down a little here in London, or maybe it's just the humidity that's dropped. Either way it means that I can now drink my usual amount of tea without feeling ridiculously hot!

Cat Coffee Mug by vitaminaeu

LOOKATTHECUTEKITTY!!!! This lovely Italian shop has a collection of cute mugs, including coffee mugs and the smaller espresso mugs, with illustrations of cats, people and a really nice owl one. She's also taking part in "Christmas in July", see her shop announcements to find out how to get 10% off!

Have a nice day everyone!

10k Views!

On Thursday this blog hit the 10k views mark! I feel like it hasn't been that long since I was celebrating 7k views.

So to celebrate I've added a coupon code to TheBibliophile! Use code 10KVIEWS at the checkout to get 10% off purchases! This code is valid until 27th July (next Saturday).


The Adventures of Philip by TheBibliophile

For those who haven't used Etsy before, you can only use the code in TheBibliophile, you cannot use it in another Etsy shop.

Have a nice day everyone!

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