31 July 2007
Another couple of hours and it'll be August 1. I've nearly done as much as I know I can achieve in the time left before Vintage to Victorian becomes a reality rather than a far off dream.
It's been fun (well, sort of) these last few weeks and I've learned so much in a short space of time. Each hurdle jumped (it's felt like that) has seen me grinning like a Cheshire cat when I've worked out what to do the hard way - the supposed "Help" with the website package I bought leaves an awful lot to be desired and hasn't helped at all. Trial and error is certainly a good way to learn.
I hope you'll all pop in and have a look - feedback welcome! I'd be grateful if you'd let me know if the text is too small to read by the time it's transmitted to your screens. It looks OK on mine, but you never know ...
You'll be able to click on some of the photos to enlarge them, but not all. That's because I didn't learn how to do that until I was well into filling the pages and there was too much else to do to go back and do them again. Just wave the cursor over them and you'll soon know whether it's worth clicking on them or not!
Right - that's enough chat. Got to get on ... photos to upload, text to write, checks to be done and I'd really like to 'go live' at midnight!
Wish me luck!
27 July 2007
I've been working on the site for a few weeks and although I still have a lot to learn I think it looks OK so far! Clare's words of encouragement each time she's checked it for me have spurred me on, and despite losing a whole page at one point (which I had to do again!), I'm having great fun building it.
Having now told you the date I shall work hard to make sure that each section has something to offer. At the moment, despite all the kitchenalia I show you from time to time, I haven't put any on the site. But don't worry, I've been to my store this afternoon and found all sorts of goodies.
24 July 2007
So I took her to buy plants ... but my Suzuki Wagon R will only hold so many (even though I can fill a 12ft x 8ft pitch at the antiques fairs out of the back of it) and we had to have some delivered (including the 6ft+ tall pine tree, a bamboo, and numerous other 'large' shrubs). These arrived in the rain at what seemed like crack of dawn yesterday, and having looked at the internetty weather forecast I saw that Tuesday has a big yellow thing instead of the grey cloud things with vertical lines underneath (rain and heavy rain) that were indicated for every other day of the week. So ... thinking today MIGHT be fine, Pauley bought some new wellies yesterday (his old ones are somewhere at the back of the garage and have been there since 6 July last year when we moved here and it would have taken a day to find them) so that he could clear the compost heap which Mum didn't want! We're gaining about 3 lbs of potatoes out of it which is nice!
And this morning it WAS sunny. So armed with spades, forks, rakes and gardening gloves we set to, and planted all but 4 of her purchases. And she had bought so many that she qualified for free delivery AND a 10% discount! So we're talking major planting here! We started about 10.30 and finished at 2.00 and planted as if today was going to be the only fine day of the summer - which it probably will be.
I have to admit that I then sat in the chair and woke up an hour later! And proceeded to sort through website stuff and then paint a Lloyd Loom type bedside cupboard/table thing which no-one has seen fit to buy and which is going to fit perfectly between the basin and the loo in our bathroom. I've just stopped and am now quite hungry. Having just looked out of the bedroom window I'm quite impressed with the planting next door. Our birds-eye view shows we positioned everything well!!!!
I have a feeling I'm going to be stiff tomorrow, but it has been good to get out in the fresh air and enjoy a wee bit of sun for a change.
No photos today - flat battery again. I keep forgetting to unplug the camera from the computer when I've uploaded photos. Silly me!
22 July 2007
Anna kindly sent me the following extract from ‘ Who Does Your Garden Grow?’ by Alex Pankhurst.
Madame Caroline Testout was a late nineteenth century French couturiere from Grenoble, the proprietor of fashionable salons in London and in Paris. She regularly visited Lyons, where she purchased silks and that city happened to be an important centre for rose breeding. Hybrid Tea roses were at that time all the rage, breeders having at last been able to develop them successfully, and no rose nurseryman was more celebrated than ‘ The Wizard of Lyons’ Joseph Pernet-Ducher.
Mme Testout was obviously an astute businesswoman who understood the value of good publicity, and she went to see Perner-Ducher, asking if he could name of his new roses after her. He agreed, though not with her choice of seedling which he considered mediocre. The nursery’s reputation might suffer from producing a poor rose by the hundreds, but his customer stood firm and a deal was struck. The rose duly made its debut at the salon’s 1890 Spring fashion Show, bearing the name ‘ Madame Caroline Testout’ .
Although not strong on scent, it was an immediate success with Madame Testout’s well to do customers , and with the gardening public , for its abundant silky, rose-pink flowers. Only two years after the rose’s introduction the Royal Horticultural Society gave it an Award of Merit. Four years later the Reverend H J Pemberton, Vice President of the National Rose Society, and a successful rose breeder himself, declared ‘In my opinion it is one of the best, if not the very best, new rose of the last seven years’.
The new variety’s popularity spread to America , and it has been estimated that in the town of Portland, in Oregon , nearly half a million bushes of ‘Caroline Testout' were planted along the sidewalks. Not surprisingly, it was dubbed The Rose City.
In 1901 a climbing form of this rose appeared, and eventually became more popular than the bush rose, which is no longer commercially available.
Whether or not Caroline Testout’s dressmaking business flourished as a result of her namesake’s success is not actually recorded. And perhaps Madame Pernet-Ducher observed the rose’s popularity with mixed feelings. At any rate, only after giving ‘Caroline Testout’ to the world, her husband named one of his new roses ‘Madame Pernet-Ducher’. The semi-double flower of this rose was cream, edged with lemon, which sounds attractive. But alas, it caused not a ripple of interest, and in a few years sank without trace, as did many other new rose varieties. Life can be hard on the wives of rose breeders.
21 July 2007
She left here at 10.20 this morning and at 3.00 pm was stopping for coffee, food and petrol - still 40 miles from home. She's experienced traffic queues, diversions, being turned back the way she'd come not far from where Clare has been marooned in her village, held up getting off the M4 because of an accident, driven through floods on the A34, driven through rain coming down in stair-rods, and all in order to go out tonight to a Proms in the Park Concert at Milton Keynes where she will probably get drenched!
Oh Gillie, we've had no rain here at all today and the sun's shining at the moment. You should have turned round and come back when you were close to the Semley turn-off at 11.45, or even when you finally made it to Swindon!!!!
We have set up Gillie's blog now, so please pop over and say hello - I'm sure a few sympathetic comments will help after her awful journey! She's listed on my sidebar - Gillies Haven of Peace.
Hope no-one else is suffering from awful conditions which the UK has been experiencing over the last 24 hours.
Quick update: Gillie got home at 4.20pm - 6 hours!
20 July 2007
100+ post giveaway!
19 July 2007
Some of the pillowcases have never been used. The auction house had cleared the house of a rather well-to-do lady and everything had been stored for years. I've had the washing machine on the go ever since I got home this evening, and have already started to iron the first load. Linen is always better ironed damp, so I can't stay chatting for long. I shall be putting some of it on the new website (getting there slowly!) and today at Semley I spent some time looking at my stock and deciding what will be going online.
Don't forget to leave a comment on yesterday's post if you want to be included in the draw for the giveaway. You have until about 9.00pm tomorrow to add your name. Gillie will be picking the winning name out of a basket and who knows ... it could be yooooouuuu!!!
17 July 2007
But heyho ... madcap as ever, we will use post No 102 as my 100th post giveaway ... it can't be this one because the camera battery is flat and I'm sure you will want to see the prezzie!
Come back later today (probably this evening) and we'll get going ...
16 July 2007
She arrived earlier than expected but I'd just finished hoovering her room when she got here. But having Gillie to stay makes us feel as if we have a flatmate. She is the perfect guest inasmuch as she makes her own coffee, doesn't feel she has to ask for anything and is quite happy to make a meal for us all. Which is what she has done ever since she arrived on Friday!!! I love it when she comes!!! We've known each other since 1972 when we both lived in "former lives". I was fairly recently married to hubby No 1 and she was about to marry her now ex hubby! We've been 'Christmas card friends' over the years - but the sort who usually included a handwritten letter. After a few traumas 6 or 7 years ago she visited for a weekend - the first ever - and this was the first time that she and Pauley met. They have got on famously since that time. It makes life so much easier when everyone gets on, doesn't it.
We set up a blog for Gillie yesterday, but she hasn't added a description or an 'About Me' page yet, so you'll probably have to wait until she's back home before you can see what she has to say. She gave us a beautiful picture as a belated Pearl Wedding Anniversary gift. She is a very spiritual person and makes amazing pictures from agate slabs, crystal chips and ... well, I'll take a photo tomorrow and you'll see for yourselves.
It was the start of the Somerton Festival on Saturday and in the evening Mum and I went here
The Choir was absolutely fantastic. The only criticism I have is that they didn't sing Calon Lan which is my all-time favourite Welsh song. Dad used to sing it when I was young and I learned the words (after a fashion). He and I used to sing it often. I loved it, and to hear it now is a 'hairs on the back of the neck' moment, bearing in mind Dad died in 1973. A Welsh MVC comes to Somerton every year, so as soon as I know which choir is coming next year I think I shall write to them with a request. Mum loved every moment, and we came home laden with CDs (one each of the one with 'the' song on).
Tomorrow's post might also contain a couple of flower photos and yet another request. There was a weird white spider on one of Mum's osteospermums this evening. I've taken a photo. Is it a friend or a nasty?
I took a photo of some lovely fluffy clouds this evening (nothing much in the way of a sunset tonight), but the photo didn't do them justice, although it was another excellent photo of the roof and chimney pots opposite!
Until tomorrow ...
Updated already ... I've only just realised that I photographed the tickets for the Welsh choir on a cushion I made from an offcut of a Welsh blanket. I amaze me sometimes!
12 July 2007
11 July 2007
So, 8 random things about me ...
I learned to drive when I was 13 and then spent 4 interminably long years waiting to get my provisional licence and get out on the road! I still love driving.
I taught YTS Clerical Trainees for 4 years.
I don't have a passport (nor does hubby)! My shocked sister-in-law says we must be the only people in existence who don't.
I intended revising everything for my English Literature GCE the night before the exam ... but I had left all my books at school. So apart from knowing that "The Rover" was written by Joseph Conrad, Browning had 30 poems published in one book, and Shakespeare wrote "A Midsummer Night's Dream" I had very little to draw on to write about on the day!
Once upon a time I could type at 124 wpm and take shorthand dictation at 140 wpm. As far as the shorthand was concerned I was fine provided I didn't concentrate. If I did, then I got in a mess! I got on far better if I planned what I was going to do during my lunchbreak or after work. However, if my boss ever asked me to read back what he said I was stumped, because I hadn't been consciously listening to his words and so had no idea how far back to go on my page of scribbles. I think all my bosses must have despaired.
I used to love Cheddar cheese and Heinz tomato sauce sandwiches (white bread with lashings of butter). Obviously no good for the waistline though so they're not a regular "must have" these days.
I have an annoying (apparently) whistle. Totally out of tune, but when I'm concentrating on something I don't know I'm doing it. But it's not a normal whistle. I breathe in, instead of out!
I hate lifts and escalators. I don't like confined spaces, hence not liking lifts, and was always OK with escalators until I tried to go down one with a 2-year-old Hannah in my arms. I put my hand on the rail, but my feet 'froze' at the top and we were practically horizontal before I managed to right myself. Very scary at the time and 30 years later I still prefer someone going down in front of me.
So, that's it. Nothing earth-shattering but some are perhaps a tad worrying! Perhaps one or two of them made you laugh, or reminded you of yourselves?
I am now supposed to tag 8 people. I apologise if you've been tagged before. I think most people have by now, but if you can bear it, please carry on tagging ...
Clare, Kelly, Jane, Alison, Mari-Nanci, Jennifer, Sophie and Mary
09 July 2007
I have to say a big thank you to Anna for sending me some information on Caroline Testout. More on that later.
By the way, I've been tagged so I'll be back later or tomorrow with some amazing facts you didn't know about me! Can you cope with the suspense?
07 July 2007
06 July 2007
The best part of all though, is the fact that the piles of linen I need to launder ready for selling can now go straight into the utility room (which was, of course, the initial plan!) and not take up valuable living room space. Once I get some shelving fixed I shall be so organised ... Maybe this could be the start to getting a tidy house. Please don't hold your breath waiting for "a corner of my home" because I assure you it won't be fit for blog viewing for some considerable time yet.
However, if you can bear to wait a few more days ... I shall soon be writing my 100th post and in time-honoured blog fashion there'll be a little giveaway for the name picked out of one of my vintage wicker baskets. My friend G is coming down from Northampton next weekend for a week's holiday. I think I shall ask her to pick the winning name. Usual thing - post a comment and the names will go into the basket. This is post number 93, so it won't be long ... I'm not sure what the giveaway will be yet, but I have a few days to decide!!
We're off to a party tomorrow evening - our lovely former next door neighbours have moved and are combining celebrations for their joint 50th birthdays with a house-warming. We're looking forward to plenty of fun and laughter ... and Helen and my favourite tipple. We had a stone 'gin bench' in the garden at our old cottage and H and I would often have a 6 o'clock G&T and put the world to rights. She and I do miss those times. We've had some nice neighbours over the years, and some not so nice, but H & M were the nicest, kindest, most caring of all, and it took a lot of courage for us to finally decide to move and leave them behind.
Hope you all have a jolly weekend, too!
03 July 2007
Today I had a Day Off and met a friend in Lacock. When P and I lived in Wiltshire a suitable midway point for us to meet was Marlborough, but according to the AA routefinder Lacock was 51 miles from Anne's home and 53 miles from mine with a difference of only 3 minutes in our travel time. So, Lacock it was. Having driven through torrential rain with the headlights on and the wipers going at the fastest speed I got to Lacock to find Anne and sunshine! I took my camera so I could show you some photos of this lovely National Trust village well known as the location for numerous period dramas. But we had so much to catch up on (14 months-worth in fact) that I didn't think about photos until I was almost home.
So ... having been unable to take a picture of a particularly beautiful panorama spreading all across the Somerset Levels which I see every time I come home from the Shepton Mallet direction (how dare someone drive right close behind me when I wanted to stop in the middle of the road and take a photo!!) I pulled off the road by a field gate and found the above ... a field of sweetcorn standing about 12 inches high. I'm not sure how clear the distance photos will be, but the hill on the horizon which you may or may not see is Glastonbury Tor. The last countryside photo is a hill which reminds me of Capability Brown every time I pass it because of the way the trees are planted. I may be stretching the imagination here, but it works for me! Not a particularly good photo, but it gives you an idea of where Somerton fits into the English countryside.
I really took the photos to show the amazing blue sky which is something all of us in the UK have been sorely missing this "summer". I'm so glad I went out today because had I stayed at home I'd have apparently sat through more torrential rain and a thunderstorm. The penultimate photo is one of the hebes in our garden just coming into flower, and the last one is that most photographed rooftop with a suspicious-looking black cloud creeping in! But the sun is still shining ... AND ... the goldfinches are sitting on the telephone wires again, twittering away to their hearts' content!
Hope you've all had a jolly day, too!
02 July 2007
Somewhere last week I found a message on the internetty from someone talking about roses. I have absolutely no idea who or in what context or on what website now, but from that I found that in 1978 Jack Harkness wrote a book entitled "Roses" and he apparently gave a certain amount of history behind individual roses. Again, I'm not sure how I found out, but it was apparent that Caroline Testout was mentioned. So, impatient soul that I am, I searched on Abebooks immediately, found said book, ordered it and much to my pleasure it arrived today as I was ploughing through a mountain of ironing ... all stock I hasten to add, nothing as interminable as clothes ironing. (I have to tell you here that I absolutely h a t e ironing, unless it's crochet edged tablecloths or linen pillowcases!!)
Anyway, I digress ...
I'm sure the late Jack Harkness won't mind if I quote a paragraph from the section on Caroline Testout.
"... The original Caroline Testout was engaged in selling Parisian fashions through a London showroom. She bought the name of the rose as an advertisment, being not only wise in her generation, but considerably in advance of it. It is usually hinted or assumed that Pernet-Ducher was quite taken in by the sharp lady, and sold her a rose he had little expectation from; but I do not know the evidence of this. In fact it is difficult to evaluate a rose until it has been on the market three or four years, and most breeders are content to share the risks with those who buy varieties or names from them. ... "
So, there we have it: it doesn't actually say she was a designer, but she sold Parisian fashions in London; she was wise and ahead of her time, sharp and on the ball. She was no daft cookie, was she. I imagine on the strength of this that she probably commissioned the tablecloth, too. I wonder if mine was the only one, or whether the cloths, too, were part of her advertising campaign.
I would have loved to have met her. Another time, another place ...
Now I have to decide whether I should keep the cloth a while longer in the hope of having enough time to research her even further (I don't have enough time as it is) or whether to use the provenance, take a leaf out of her book, and sell this amazing cloth to a rose grower and recoup some of the money Caroline paid out to have the rose named after her!!! Whatever I decide, she certainly chose the right rose. Whatever the grower thought at the time, it turned out to be a rose of particular excellence and can still be found today, 117 years after its introduction. The girl done good!
BUT ... wait a minute ... how spooky is this? I was just waiting for the photo to upload and saw I had an email ... from ANNA who has just left a message on my original post. She has even more information ... so watch this space. Thank you, Anna! Yes please, I would love to receive the additional information. Please email so I can reply to you direct! It's quite exciting, isn't it, and does rather answer the question I posed in the previous paragraph. She's not going anywhere for the time being!
01 July 2007
Sometimes you get a lot of jolly people through the doors who enjoy some friendly banter and general chat with the stallholders. Yesterday's crowd (I use the word advisedly) were more what's commonly known in the trade as "The Three P's" - pick up, put down and "move" off ... Having said that, I did OK. I sold an eiderdown (not for an Ebay price, I assure you!) and some odds and ends. No other large items though, and although I took some enamelware, Cornishware and jelly moulds, none sold, so my recent decision to not waste the time, effort and energy packing, unpacking and packing it all up again was justified and probably a sensible one. I won't take it to Bradford on Avon again - at least, not in quantity. Perhaps the odd pitcher with some fabric sticking out of the top, or a jelly mould filled with buttons or lace, but not a whole display. I've been asked to take some damask tablecloths next time (what a relief, as I have enough to cover a football pitch!), some fabric oddments suitable for patchwork and some small needlework items such as needlecases and pincushions.
It's quite interesting to watch people when they're looking at your stock. Some get really keen and you hear lots of 'ooohs' and 'aaahs'. Others stand well back and gaze, avoid your eye and move on or, sometimes unexpectedly pick up an item, pay for it, say thanks and go, avoiding 'chatting' at all costs. I always like to talk to people that come to my stand - for several reasons ... out of politeness; because I'm enthusiastic (usually) about what I'm selling; because it can sometimes help with a sale, and because it's much more fun than sitting with my head in a book or newspaper ignoring everyone which, believe it or not, is what some stallholders do. I'm always glad to get home and put my feet up for half an hour because I realise I have probably not sat down all day. I appreciate that not everyone visiting a Fair wants to engage in conversation, but equally I'm sure they don't all want to be totally invisible. I know I don't when I go to a Fair to buy, unless I'm doing a whistle-stop whizz round a large one with very little time. But if I'm wandering and appear to have all the time in the world, then I like to chat. At the end of the day this is my job! It's what I do! If I don't do it to the best of my ability, and put in the required effort, then I'm not doing it properly and I won't succeed! And I need to succeed. I couldn't face the thought of having to go back to a 'routine' job. I'm too old and stuck in my ways now(!!!), would struggle with a regular timetable, and certainly (as some of you will know) don't like being told what to do!!!!!
Today must be a day of sorting ... I need to see my sitting room floor once again, and the spare bedroom (unlikely because of the embroidery threads and cross stitch kits), but it's quite nice sitting here chatting instead! I think I might have to change P's name to MHTM (my husband the martyr) as he has so little space to call his own here at the moment, not even room in the garage and I've just noticed I've even encroached onto his desk here in the office! What a life he must lead, poor man!!!!
I've rather waffled this morning, haven't I. So I should repay your generosity in staying to the end by posting some photos! I took them at the Fair when I finally decided I didn't like my stand but there was nothing I could do about it. Then someone told me how nice it looked so perhaps it wasn't that bad after all. It looked messy to me, but who's to say. One man's mess can another man's bliss or ... a stallholders nightmare can be a browser's sweetie shop!