22 March 2019

A Concert and a Bit of Art

Today's concert at the Cathedral was Music from St Cedd's School, an independent day school for boys and girls from pre-school to year 6.  With an extensive programme of string orchestra, guitar ensemble, piano solo, violin solo, a singing group, clarinet ensemble, guitar ensemble, recorders, a beautiful solo singer, flute choir, oboe solo and the senior chamber choir it was a truly delightful concert. We are so lucky having these free concerts. 

Last Saturday I went to an art workshop organised by the art club I attend in the village. 

It was with some trepidation that I put my name down because it was for oils,
and I have never painted with oils before.
I enjoyed it, it was a good experience and I will do more at our club meetings.

Everyone enjoyed the day, and produced some excellent work.

This was mine from early on

And the finished project, which I was quite pleased with. I added the bow later.
I might do it again to see if I can improve on it (the whole painting, not just the bow!).

The following 3 were my favourites

~Keep warm and well ~

Polly x

15 March 2019

Lunchtime Concert

Today's concert in the Cathedral were a brilliant duo, Maya Traikova on piano and Krassimira Jeliazkova-Jones on violin. Their programme was varied and included work from Pancho Vladigerov from their native Bulagaria and our home grown Elgar. 

Afterwards my friend M and I went to a lovely deli and tea room.

Its very pretty

~Keep warm and well ~

Polly x

4 March 2019

The Dolls House Main Bedroom

I'm glad that's finished, well 90% finished, I need to add a few more embellishments, and I need to put a picture on the far wall between the doors, and a full length mirror on the wall at the side of the window. 

It started well

The wallpaper is a sample from a DIY store and the flooring is varnished spatulas again.

I decided to put fake doors in (miniaturists are allowed artistic licence! :-)  because
the lady of this house would definitely have a walk in wardrobe and an en-suite,
especially as her teenage daughter has an en-suite!
Don't look too closely at the bottom left of the fake door, I miscalculated and had to add a piece of wood.
It's nicely painted over now and hidden by the bed anyway!

I knew the furniture I wanted, I bought the bed at a local dolls house shop and ordered the dressing table, chest of drawers and bedside cabinets online. I planned to spray paint the bed to match the cream furniture, however, it wasn't all cream, the chest of drawers was white! Change of plan, I spray painted everything to match the white chest of drawers.

So down to the shed, because the weather was too bad to do it outside, furniture in a cardboard
box and spray away. It only took a few coats to get a good cover.

The bed was mahogany to start with, I used paint stripper to take off most of the colour.

It worked quite well. I thought it would be nice to put some decoration on it.

This cheap frame from Hobbycraft was just right for cutting out some of the swirls.

I tried a few designs
and looking at the photos here I wish I had gone with this one above

but I decided on this one. I glued them in place and spray painted it.

Now this is where it got very tricky. I wanted to decorate this little bed with some gold leaf............. 
dear reader, if you ever hear me mention gold leaf again, take me by the hand
and gently remind me how bad this was.
If you've done gold leafing before you know how fine it is. Oh boy did I get into a mess.
Just a gentle sigh from me scattered bits of gold leaf all over the place. 

I don't know if I bought inferior leaves, I just couldn't get it to cover nice and smoothly.

This is not pretty, but by this time I didn't want to start all over again either
sanding and painting or buying another bed.

As if that wasn't enough punishment I decided to have a go with two ceiling roses!!

This one for the music room turned out quite well. 

The one for the bedroom, well it's a disaaaaster dahling. 
But the chandelier is very pretty and you can see more of that than the rose. 

So onto the curtains. I should have gone with straight forward pencil pleats, but no I thought 
Roman blinds would look nice which they do but what a fiddly job.

I went to a textiles exhibition last year. The ones I liked were out of my price range, but I did find this little package of material for only £5, just enough to make bed linen and curtains with, and I'm going to use that small piece of burgundy velvet to cover a bolster.

I'm currently hibernating making lap quilts.

~Keep warm and well ~

Polly x

20 February 2019

Mary's Meals

My friend M and I recently attended a Mary's Meals Double The Love afternoon cream tea.

The charity provides meals to some of the world’s poorest children every day they attend school. The meals attract hungry children into the classroom. The food fills their empty tummies so they have the energy and opportunity to learn, giving them the chance of a brighter future. The meals also support families struggling to feed their children.

The school feeding programmes are owned and run by community volunteers in the countries where they provide food. And the committees are made up of parents, teachers and volunteers. They also have a long history of providing emergency relief to vulnerable regions around the world. Long term their work encourages community support for education, provides support for smallholder farmers and increases government recognition of school feeding.

We were served delicious scones and scrumptious cakes, tea and/or coffee, and entertained by a lovely group of musicians playing great music from our generation. There were a couple of games with prizes and a raffle. 
It was a lovely afternoon, and good to be helping a very worthwhile charity.

~Keep warm and well ~

Polly x

4 February 2019

A Good Read

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The year is 1922 and life in a South London suburb has become one of drudgery and tedium for Frances Wray. Single, in her late 20's, and living with her widowed mother, Frances’ life has become a monotonous routine of housework and Wednesday trips to the cinema. She exists awkwardly between the end of the Edwardian era and the beginning of the Jazz Age. She feels stifled by time and culture and although comfortable with her sexuality she has already paid a stiff price for a previous romance with a woman. She could, as her former lover did, move to London and live a far freer life, yet she chooses duty to her mother. Her older brothers were killed in the war and her father’s shady financial dealings left her and her mother in ruin. The Wrays are forced to take in lodgers. 

Enter Lilian and Leonard Barber, she blowsy but sweet, he rakish and flirtatious in a way that leaves Frances slightly queasy. The small indignities of sharing a home with strangers —the trips through the kitchen to access the outdoor toilet; the coughs and blowing of noses, the creaking of floors overhead, the chance meetings on the landing in one's dressing gown — all excruciating, but must be endured, for how else will the bills be paid? But the Wrays have no way of knowing just how disturbing their tenant’s presence will be or what a devastating impact it will have on Frances’s life.

The scene setting is so exact, rich and full of detail, the reader is transported to the place and time. You can smell the scent of cigarettes and sweat, feel the fabrics, the touch of a lover's hand slipping over soft, eager skin, the cool damp of a garden at night, the weight of a body dragged through the ripe mud. The tenseness of trying to remain normal whilst harbouring a dreadful secret was tangible. I was on the edge of my seat.

The Paying Guests is a brilliant crime thriller that also explores a woman’s soul. Don’t be put off by the hefty volume, once you start reading you will not be able to stop.

~Happy Reading ~
Polly x

28 January 2019

Noise Stops Play

My grandson's basketball match on Saturday was stopped due to noise coming from the other users of the hall. 

The match was being played in the gym hall of a school, the same hall where they meet on club nights. On the other side of the hall, separated by a curtain, a game of men's volley ball was being played. I think it might have been a tournament, there were a lot of men in various team colours and lots of spectators making lots of noise. It wasn't too bad at first but gradually as more people arrived the noise level increased, they were using drums and something else, the kind of noise you would expect at a football match. 

Just before half time our visiting team called a halt to the game saying they couldn't continue due to not being able to hear the ref and the boys not being able to hear instructions from their coach. The score was 34 to Chelmsford, 22 to Northampton. Our boys were playing very well, almost as one, they did some brilliant passes resulting in good scores. Whilst I agreed that the noise was becoming unbearable the boys wanted to continue, they were amused by the decision of the visitors to concede the match.

Grandson warming up

~Keep warm and well ~

Polly x

17 January 2019

Never Far Away

I think the unrivalled Great Ormond Street Hospital is known world wide for the specialist care they provide for sick children. 

The Hospital Charity will be launching its Never Far Away: Essex Appeal on 29th January in Chelmsford. This exciting new appeal aims to fund patient and family accommodation at GOSH, helping to keep families from Essex and across the UK together at often difficult times.

More than 53% of the children treated at GOSH come from outside London. Because the care they receive is so specialist, some need to stay for several months. Having a child in hospital is stressful enough without the added pressure of paying for hotels or train fares. So the hospital want to make sure that parents and carers can stay in nearby accommodation free of charge.

The launch is being held on Tuesday 29th January at 6.30pm at Cedd`s Hall, Chelmsford Cathedral, 
CM1 1EH (a short walk from Chelmsford train station, and car parks are located nearby)

For more information visit www.gosh.org/nfa or contact Neverfaraway@gosh.org.

11 January 2019

Lunchtime Concert

Today's lunchtime concert in the Cathedral was Laurence Lyndon-Jones playing the organ, and what an excellent performance it was, ranging from the rousing Music for the Royal Fireworks by George Frideric Handel to the calm Consolation in D-flat major by Nicolaus Bruhns. Organ music isn't everyone's cup of tea and my friend M isn't a huge fan but I do like it. M enjoyed some of it though.
We had our usual cheese and pickle sandwiches and tea, and M had a piece of malt loaf. I stuck to my resolution and resisted the cakes!

~Keep warm and well ~

Polly x

9 January 2019

The Favourite

Sumptuous, funny and deliciously rude, full of lust, jealousy and deceit "The Favourite" is a must see film.

I was pleased to hear that Olivia Coleman won Best Actress 2019 at the Golden Globe awards. She gave a superb performance as Queen Anne, the much troubled last of the Stuart monarchs. Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark was a drunk and a crashing bore. She keeps 17 rabbits in her bedchamber, calling them “the little ones”, tragic reminders of the 17 children she lost, poignantly described as “Some were born as blood, some without breath, and some were with me a very brief time”.

Lacking confidence, overweight and depressed, riddled with gout, and plagued by suicidal thoughts Anne relies upon the advice of her friend and lover Sarah Churchill (Lady Marlborough). Brilliantly played by the seductive Rachel Weisz, Sarah is the embodiment of steely resolve, a fearless presence who keeps her enemies close, on the understanding that she may shoot them at any time. Anne and Sarah are inseparable, and when they were apart they corresponded using endearing fanciful names. Sarah was Mrs Freeman and Anne, Mrs Morley. Lady Sarah more or less runs the palace in harmonious partnership with the Queen.

This harmony is shattered with the arrival of Abigail, beautifully played by Emma Stone, subtly navigating the shift between innocence and determination. Abigail is Sarah's penniless cousin hoping to secure employment in the palace. Sarah sends Abigail to work in the scullery where a practical joke results in Abigail suffering severe burns on her hands. She treats these with a potion she makes from woodland leaves. This potion also soothes the pain of the Queen's gout, and before long the interloper has made her way into Anne’s bedchamber, where she soothes more than the Queen’s aching legs, prompting a power struggle for the Queen's attention.

Meanwhile the politicians are arguing about how to handle the war with France, poncing around in huge wigs and comical make-up, betting on duck races and pelting each other with fruit!

The settings and costumes are rich and stunning. The occasional, disjointed music created a very interesting edgy "What's going to happen next" atmosphere.

My friend M and I enjoyed every minute of it.

~Keep warm and well ~

Polly x

1 January 2019

Buster's Diary

Not much has been happening here, we had a quiet Christmas.
A few social events and catching up with family.
On Christmas day Polly and her daughter took me and Rufus out for a walk wearing these

Santa outfit for Rufy
Christmas pud for me
Thank goodness we didn't see anyone we knew, our street cred would plummet!
It was a lovely crisp frosty morning.

We each got a variety box of goodies and Rufy got a really nice squeeky toy.
I didn't get one, I don't play with them like Rufy does, I only want it when he has it!

Polly's son-in-law cooked a delicious Christmas day dinner, 
Polly made a lovely boozy trifle and everyone ate too much!
We had a few leftover bits.
We didn't wear the outfits on Boxing Day!

And here we are at the beginning of a new year. Polly isn't going to make any new year resolutions,
but she needs to lose the weight she has gained over the festive season!

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2019

~Keep warm and well ~
Buster & Rufus

23 December 2018


Happy Holiday


~Keep warm and well ~
Polly x

19 December 2018

My Great Mince Pie Survey

Yes dear reader it's that time of year again - the one where I get to eat lots of mince pies
in the name of market research and producing a helpful survey ! ☺️
This is just my opinion though, taste is subjective 

Aldi specially selected all butter classic mince pies with Courvosier Cognac.
Please don't mistreat your taste buds with these, they are truly horrible.
I took one bite but had to remove it.
Zero rating, they don't even get on the scale.

Co-op irresistible all butter luxury mince pies with with rich fruit, nut and brandy.
Very nice, tasty filling, lovely pastry but it is very flaky 4/5

And these, also from the Co-op. I think it's their instore range. Orange flavoured pastry with a
mincemeat filling and brandy. Delicious and lovely pastry, I could really taste the orange 4/5

Greggs lovely pastry and very tasty filling  of vine fruits,
Bramley apple and candied orange and lemon peel 4/5

My favourites this year, M&S. Lovely firm pastry, and delicious filling of vine fruits, 
cranberries, clementines, cherries and brandy 5/5

~Keep warm and well ~
Polly x

12 December 2018

Catching Up

Phew I seem to have been so busy I'm getting behind with blogging.
So what have I been up to?

Two Christmas meals last week, my book club and my art club. Both at lovely venues, both delicious food and both good company. My bowls club one is next week. 

The church in the village just down the road from mine held their annual Christmas Tree Festival at the weekend. All the groups in the area are invited to enter a tree. The public vote for their favourite and the judges vote for an overall winner. Once again there were some beautiful, clever and innovative entries. I had a very hard time deciding between two.
Let It Snow was exquisite. 
A white tree, sparkly lights and beautiful handmade dolls depicting winter activities.

And this gorgeous one
Santa's grotto
All beautifully hand made by the ladies of a sewing club

We Tree Kings was so cute.
The Kings were mini trees

and just look at how cute the camel is

The children at the village infants school made the poppies for Remembrance day.
They did a lovely job decorating the tree with them.

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party had the WOW factor. It had flashing stick lights 

and a revolving teapot

This was my WI's entry, celebrating the centenary of the NHS.
The red heart had a flashing light inside it which looked very good
There were many more entries, making a difficult job for the judges.

Back home
The badgers have been busy extending their home.
When they first started last year that pile of earth was level with the edge of the field.

As someone who almost gets ill with the cold I have always wanted a down coat, I bought a down jacket a few weeks ago but returned it because I decided I needed something to keep my thighs and bottom warm!
They are quite expensive so I asked my family if they would give me money instead of presents for Christmas. My darling grandson asked how much I wanted, and I'm sure if I had said £100 he would have given me it. 
I started looking online just to see what was about ............ and I found this
I wasn't planning to buy one until nearer Christmas but this ticked all the boxes, the right length, a belt, pockets and no hood but a lovely high collar. If I had waited and then found they had sold out I would have been inconsolable so I clicked the buy button! It's gorgeous, and I'm worth it! :-)

We had a lovely time at the Salvation Army on Tuesday, a quiz, a brass band playing carols and a delicious Christmas dinner. 
And then in the afternoon at art club the couple who run the club set a fun task for us. They chose a picture, printed it out and cut it into pieces, one for each of us. We then had to draw our piece onto card, larger scale and paint it.
It was fun seeing each piece put on the table and trying to guess what the complete picture was. We all use different mediums, oil, acrylics, watercolour, chalk pastels so the colours didn't always match. My piece was the one bottom left, second one up, done in watercolour. I think we all did very well.
It was Chagall's The Cellist. It was good fun, we all enjoyed it.

Christmas lights are up at the front of the house, and some inside. I've bought a real tree and will be decorating it at the weekend. How are your Christmas preparations going?

~Keep warm and well ~
Polly x

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