Saturday, 1 October 2016

If You Happen To Be In Norwich...

Here's a shameless plug for the exhibition which is displaying my tea-cosies!! Norwich Shawls: Past Glory, Present Inspiration – The Costume and Textiles Association will be celebrating the Norwich Shawl with an exhibition of rarely-seen Norwich Shawls held in private collections, and with it an open selected exhibition of contemporary textile art created in response to this theme [further information here]

[I am a little confused by the poster- as I am attending the opening followed by a Private View, which happens at 5.30pm on Saturday 1st, so I am not clear as to whether it is open the the public today ]

Friday, 30 September 2016

Spouse's September Stuff

My September crafting has not been very photogenic- mending jeans and tops for the girls, organising the Christmas Tree Festival with women and church, and lotsof wood polishing. Bob, on the other hand, has been relaxing with all sorts of little projects and produced some lovely items.
Before we went to Cornerstones in August, he dismantled his trolley BBQ and took the top part and installed it on the concrete shelf next to his smoker.

This left him with a black trolley [well, four uprights and a set of wheels] he put a top on this, made from an old piece of wood, and polished it. Then added a handle at one end, and a row of black painted hooks at the other [my tea towel rack from Kirby]. That is now a useful addition to the kettle BBQ here.
I have been struggling with my die-cut activities, with little bits of paper stuck in the dies "I need a proper pokey tool!" I said, as I wrestled with a pin. Bob took the pin, and fitted it into a handle [free chopstick which came with a takeaway, painted black] and then found an old syringe cover to make a safety cap. That's £4 I shan't need to spend at Hobbycraft. 
His final craft activity this month has been a hat rack in the hall. Four out of five of these hats are his, and they look so much better on hooks. It is easier to grab the right hat on his way out of the front door!

Well done Bob! Thanks for all the DIY. By the way, did you see that in Sweden they plan to give tax breaks to people who make-do-and-mend. If you get your white goods, or bike, or clothes repaired, you can claim half the tax back on the cost. Mind you, that's not going to benefit people like Bob and myself who usually do our own repairs!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Integrity And Entrapment

I know almost NOTHING about football. I am rather glad that my spouse doesn't feel the need to watch Match of the Day every week, or spend £400 p.a. for a season ticket. As far as I can recall, I have watched only two games in their entirety in my entire life.
The first was the World Cup in 1966. We were invited as a family to the Archers Farm for tea [not not them, this was a real family who belonged to our church] so we could view the game on their big TV. I can only remember that England won, the cakes were good, and someone taught my little brother to whistle.
Ten years later I watched the FA Cup. Second Division Southampton were playing the mighty Man United. I was at Uni, and I seem to recall it was some sort of student get together. I can only remember that the underdogs won, and their manager was a Geordie called Lawrie McMenemy.
I think the commentator hadn't got much background on this man - he kept saying "Lawrie McMenemy, a man of great integrity" over and over. It was as if there was no other interesting fact he could share with us.
I later discovered he was an ex-Coldstream Guard, and had been a professional footballer till injury ended that career and he became a coach. 
A few months ago, he published his autobiography "A Lifetime's Obsession" 
Sitting for an hour in a traffic jam on the M3 on Tuesday night, I listened to interminable sports 'pundits' on the BBC discussing Sam Allardyce and his fall from grace. This man was earning THREE MILLION POUNDS A YEAR - that's £8000 a DAY - in one week, his salary was the equivalent to that of the average Brit working for two years. That's a lot of money. But clearly not enough - because Mr A was caught trying to earn another £400,000 by nefarious means.
I wouldn't recognise SA if I met him in the street. His comment following his departure from the job of managing the England Football Team was "Entrapment has won". No I don't think so. Decency, honesty and integrity have beaten cheating and greed. He is probably feeling 'totally gutted' and 'sick as a parrot' at being found out, and losing his high paid job. Well, tough!
According to the BBC, it has been his lifetime's ambition to be England Manager - and he will go down in history as the man who held the post for the shortest time, and who threw it away in a moment of naive avarice.
Lawrie McMenemy has called his book 'A Lifetime's Obsession' - he too has devoted his career to 'the beautiful game', and was at one point assistant manager of the England team. But how different their paths have been.
And as I sat in the traffic queue, I found myself wondering this - 40 years ago, when the BBC chap kept referring to his 'great integrity', may be it wasn't that LM was such a colourless guy that they couldn't find any trivia to report. Perhaps it was that when the researcher prepared the notes beforehand, everyone who was asked said things like "He's a good bloke""You can always trust him""Real integrity" "Honest as the day is long" etc. It seems that the key thing about his character was that he was a man of good character.
I found an article online, written in the Independent, 20 years after Lawrie's golden day at Wembley. 
In an age when football is fast losing touch with its traditional roots there is still a place for big characters who know about life beyond the corner flags and try to instil a sense of perspective in young players. McMenemy feels there is a moral dimension to the job as well. "All clubs are an integral part of society," he said. "I was struck by aerial shots of St James' Park ,surrounded by streets. Now it's not as if the stadium was just plonked down in the middle of them. It arrived with the houses... It was a place where people came to get away from the drudgery of daily life. That's always been the message I've tried to hammer home to players, that they're privileged to be able to do what they do."

When McMenemy was manager of Grimsby Town in the early 1970s he took the team to the docks one morning to give them a taste of the trawlermen's lives. At Southampton, the players were on a rota for visits to local organisations and charities. McMenemy is heavily involved in such causes. "I'm a great believer that if you've been in a town a long time and you're invited to do something for the community then you should do it. It's not a question of being a do-gooder. But if someone thinks it would help their cause to stick my name on it then who am I to say no?"
If English football is going to have a part on the world stage, we need more like McMenemy, people of great integrity - and fewer who are motivated by personal ambition and greed. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Sew Busy Today

I  have lots to do today so not much time for blogging 

These lovely paintings by French impressionist Henri Martin, painted just over a century ago 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Duke And The Dons

This is the fourth Wimsey which was written by Jill Paton Walsh, donning the mantle of the late Dorothy Leigh Sayers. And this one is all JPW's own work  - she has not referred to any of the DLS notes and manuscripts used in previous books.
It is set in Oxford around 1954.
Peter is summoned back to the dreaming spires to oversee a decision being made at a small college of which he is The Visitor.
This is an ancient honour, bestowed on the Dukes of Denver [Peter has now succeeded to the title, following the death of his brother] and much of the plot centres on the arcane practices of this College, and decision making by the Dons.
One review I read [afterwards - I try not to read them beforehand!] said "Wimsey-purists will not be too happy" and I can see what is meant.
Good things - there are some interesting characters, and the plot hangs together. She has managed to get the tone of conversations between Harriet and Peter - what DLS always called "piffling" -just about right [although I am not sure we needed those coy references to their sex life] Her attention to detail is meticulous, and there are plenty of allusions to current events and real people [Tolkein, C S Lewis, Harold Macmillan etc] to help fix the date. 
However, I would quibble with her about Victor Gollancz being the originator of the Italian term for crime fiction being "Giallo" because VG used yellow dust jackets [giallo is the Italian word for yellow]. I understood it to have come from the Italian publishers Mondadori, who published a series of lutein crime novels Il Giallo Mondadori. But as VG published DLS's works, I suppose JPW wants to put in a mention [I wish the copy I was reading had been proof read properly. It was irritating to see Gollancz spelled incorrectly]
But on the whole it was fun, I like the way she brings in other family members [children, the Dowager Duchess, brother in law Charles etc] but I am not quite convinced by her depiction of Peter - he is in his early sixties, and she describes him 'skipping down the stairs like an elderly Fred Astaire'. Fred himself would have been in his late 50s at this point. 
I am giving away nothing about the plot, as I do not want to spoil it for anyone. But I am a little concerned that a senior member of the College has been missing for three months, and nobody appears to have done anything much about finding him, until Peter arrives and organises a [fruitless] search of the College. In the real world, people usually look for missing people long before that, if they don't turn up for work! I have long suspected that the rarefied atmosphere of Oxford Colleges is not the real world!
There is still plenty of good food, produced by Bunter and others [but no comments about the gradual end of rationing, unless I missed them] which led me onto my research into Ploughman's Lunches. 
I'm not as much of a Wimsey-Purist as others, so I will give this ****
[my favourite TV adaptations were the Edward Petherbridge/Harriet Walters ones. They would be of the right age now to play this latest story]

Monday, 26 September 2016

Discovering A Local Hero

Ever since Bob gave me a Tablet [that is the computer, not the medication, or the Catholic periodical!] I have got into the habit of keeping it beside me when I am reading, so I can quickly look up words or investigate background to something in the book. Thus it was that I ended up on a little diversion into the history of the term 'Ploughman's Lunch'.
I knew it was dreamed up as a Marketing Strategy, but thought it was from the 60s [and the book I was enjoying was firmly set mid-50s] It appears that a farmer, Richard Trehane, of the Cheese Bureau declared in 1956: "English cheese and beer have for centuries formed a perfect combination enjoyed as the Ploughman’s Lunch.” So my book was quite accurate!
Richard Trehane then went on to be chairman of the Milk Marketing Board [his farming father had been a founder member of the MMB in 1933] and was involved in promoting the phrase Drinka Pinta Milka Day.
What an insightful chap - in postwar Britain, still getting over rationing, to come up with two clever ideas to encourage the public to eat more of our dairy products and assist the farming industry to get back on its feet.
What else did this thoughtful guy do? [he looks very pensive in this photo from the National Portrait Gallery. Perhaps he is contemplating his knighthood] Well - Sir Richard continued working at his father's family farm, in the little village of Hampreston. You may not have heard of this place- but it is less than 10 minutes on my bicycle from home, just the other side of the A31. The village church goes back more than six centuries - and although St Mary's Ferndown is now the main CofE church in the area, this is still considered to be 'The Parish of Hampreston.
I cycled up there in the sunshine yesterday  afternoon [Bob was busy getting ready for Evening Service at church]
The church has a very large churchyard, with row upon row of tombstones. I walked round looking at inscriptions - some recent [the late wife of Jim, my dear next door neighbour] others much older. Many sad ones for sons killed in the wars - WW2, WW1, the Boer Wars, and even before that, fighting in India in the mid 19th C. I watched a little rabbit waiting against the wall - he didn't move till he heard the click of the camera!
And against the wall, looking across fields to the farm, was the tombstone of Sir Richard and his wife Elizabeth.
His inscription reads "An inspiration to farmers throughout the world" [Hers reads 'a friend to the arts']
The Trehanes still farm locally - and have a nursery specialising in camellias and azaleas. It was also the Trehanes [if I understood correctly, Richard's brother David] who was the first to cultivate blueberries commercially in the UK. He responded to an ad from a man in British Columbia in 1952, offering free blueberry plants to anyone willing to grow them.
Only four people responded! Initially Sainsburys stocked them, then M&S, then it really took off.
They do PYO and also sell berries at the shop. Bob bought me a punnet in July - I must say they are particularly fine, juicy blueberries!
But having discovered all this in Hampreston [the church itself was locked, that will have to be explored another day] I cycled home, stopping en route to pick a few free blackberries from the hedgerows.
I froze half, and spooned the remainder into sponge mix to make fruity little fairy cakes.
So here's another Ferndown Fact - the marketing concept of the Ploughman's Lunch started right here! I wonder how many of the residents know that? 

I think I shall go and have a drink of milk, and raise a toast in honour of Sir Richard...

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A Prayer For Coffee Time

On Tuesday at the WWDP Committee,  we all received a gift from Nola, who had finished her term of service.  It was a handmade patchwork coaster,  each one different,  but all with a little slip inside the bag.
As  you drink your morning coffee :
LOOK at your coffee cup and pray:-
Lord,  please POUR out your Holy Spirit into my life today.  STIR  within me the wish to do your will.
HOLD  your cup with both hands :-
Lord,  I know I need your forgiveness  for the wrong things I have done and the things I have been doing.  FILTER from me all that doesn't please you.
TASTE - drink and pray :-
Thank you Lord for the reminder to pause and reflect on all you have done for me.
SMELL  - take a long deep breath : give me willingness to share my faith with others as easily as I would share a cup of coffee with a friend.

Thank you,  Nola,  for a lovely gift.