Wednesday 28 December 2011


All is fairly quiet in the playroom today. Belinda is busy recycling festive wrapping paper. She carefully presses each piece and then passes it to Posy who hangs it neatly on the laundry rack. Several tiny dolls are having great fun playing 'hide and seek' behind the sheets of coloured paper.

The weather outside is wet and windy but the Christmas tree lights are filling the rooms with a warm glow. The tree in the hall stands at the foot of the stairs.

The sitting room tree as ever is draped with many old and much loved decorations. The tiny Santa below is perched on a white swan. When gently pulled the spring allows the swan to bounce up and down and its feathery wings move to create the illusion of a magical flying Santa. My mum bought it from a large London store in the 1950s and I don't think I can ever remember a Christmas without it. Each January it is lovingly packed away until the following December.

I like the repetition that Christmas brings and make no real effort to do things differently. The mantel is always draped in greenery and when night falls the candles are lit.

On the old oak table in a corner of the dining room I always arrange the same items. A bible, a brass chamber stick and a pewter plate in which I place a few Georgian and Victorian coins. These coins were in circulation when Jane Austen and Charles Dickens were alive and I like to think of them rattling around in peoples' pockets and hope that maybe some made their way onto church collection plates and were then used to help the poor and needy.

How lucky those of us are with warm comfortable homes. I thought I'd leave you with this picture that for me typifies Christmas. It depicts a quiet English village nestling below the ancient church. Lamps are lit, fires glow and the smoke from chimneys rises high into the frosty air. The picture is an illustration from my 'Wind in the Willows' book which I'll tell you about in the new year.


From my home here in England I send warm greetings and may next year bring health and happiness to you all.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Christmas greetings to you all

Christmas greetings friends. Autumn days here at Flutterby Patch seems to have passed in a flash of frantic and frustrating activity. It all began in early October with the arrival of a smart new woodburning stove for the sitting room. We were told by the stove fitters that installing it was a fairly simple job and would take a couple of days (famous last words). They spent the first day lining the chimney and by day two were ready to connect the stove. However, after much pushing and shoving they were eventually forced to remove our large sitting room fireplace so that the stove could be securely linked to the chimney liner. The room was emptied of furniture and the carpet taken up. Plaster was removed from around the wooden surround, then out came the fireplace; in went the stove; back went the surround; the wall was replastered and all was made good again. . . . We prepared to light the fire. . . . . . but, wouldn't you just know it, there was a problem with the chimney and so the fireplace had to be taken out once more and this time part of the brick wall was removed. I can't begin to describe the mess and chaos. The whole procedure that was to have taken two days eventually took two weeks. When the stove fitters left we found plaster and brick dust in every corner of the house. And so we've spent the last few weeks cleaning and in some cases redecorating and have finally completed three rooms. . . . The good news is that the woodburning stove works beautifully and is keeping us toasty warm.

You won't be surprised to know that I've not had time to knit during the autumn. For several weeks the dollies remained in the playroom with the door firmly shut (dollies and brick dust don't make good companions).

This week we have been preparing for Christmas. I still have much catching up to do but thought I'd accompany my Christmas greeting by showing you this book by Brian Wildsmith. I know many of you love his illustrations and so I think you'll enjoy his version of the Christmas story.

The book 'A Christmas Story' was first published in the late 1980s and is widely available from used book suppliers.

The story begins with the birth of a baby donkey in a stable in the town of Nazareth.

One day a man and lady (named Joseph and Mary) took the mother donkey from the stable and set out on a long journey.

The baby donkey felt very sad all alone without his mother by his side.

Rebecca, who lived nearby, agreed to care for the baby donkey. But the little donkey was so sad that in the end Rebecca suggested that the two of them should set out in search of the donkey's mother.

The roads were full of people travelling to various towns and villages. Many of them had seen Mary and Joseph and were able to guide the two friends on their way.

Suddenly glorious music filled the sky and an angel appeared.

Shepherds in a nearby field pointed towards a brilliant star shining over the town of Bethlehem.

Rebecca and the little donkey followed the star and were guided to a stable.

On entering the stable they found a new-born baby lying in a manger. Richly dressed kings had brought splendid gifts for the child. They stood alongside poor shepherds and all were giving thanks for the arrival of this very special baby.

The little donkey and his mother were happily reunited and they remained with Mary and Joseph and carried them and their precious baby into Egypt.

Meanwhile, Rebecca rode back home on a splendid camel owned by one of the kings.

Thank you to everyone for creating the wonderfully colourful and interesting blogs that I've visited throughout 2011 and thank you for visiting me and my little dollies here at Flutterby Patch.

Friday 7 October 2011

Autumn fires

Many thanks for all the nice comments you left last week. As quite a few of you seemed to like the bears hiking their way across the Lakeland mountains I thought I'd include another pic of a busy pair working in the garden. This one brings to mind the poem 'Autimn Fires' by Robert Louis Stevenson.

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,

The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons.
Something bright in all.
Flowers in the summer.
Fires in the fall.

As well as having the occasional bonfire, hubby has spent the last few weeks cutting wood in readiness for the cold weather ahead.

Today, whilst hubby's back was turned, Belinda Jane managed to fill her basket with small offcuts.

With some help she managed to carry the loaded basket back to the dolls' cosy kitchen where a splendid Victorian style range keeps everyone snug and warm.

Enjoy your weekend everyone

Friday 30 September 2011

Off the beaten track

On a gloriously golden September afternoon who could resist a walk by the lake?

The English Lake District attracts many thousands of visitors throughout the year. The energetic ones spend their time walking, climbing and sailing whilst others photograph or paint the magnificent scenery. The majority come to sit or stand and stare then take some light refreshment before the homeward journey.

We left the lakeside yesterday to visit the ancient stone circle at Castlerigg. It was built by Neolithic man around 4,500 years ago and sits on the brow of a hill with magnificent views in all directions.

Was this a place used for trading goods, for worshipping the gods, or was it used for Neolithic 'gatherings'? No one will ever know for sure.

Today it is looked after by the National Trust and we leave our lives of clutter to come and marvel at the ancient simplicity of the place.

With a soft wind whispering round the stones our own shadows merge with those of our ancient ancestors.

Below is an artist's impression of Neolithic man. The Lake District was a wild inhospitable place in those days and scratching a living from the stony soil would have been extremely difficult. How different this life would have been to ours.

I wonder what Neolithic man would think to our life of leisure and pleasure.

Enjoy your weekend

Monday 26 September 2011

Beautifully upcycled

One piece of advice will always remind me of my mum and dad.

"Don't throw it away because you never know when it might be useful."

How right they were! One person's 'junk' is very definitely another person's 'treasure' and my parents kept cupboards full of treasured bits and bobs of every shape and size. As a result they were able to create, repair and rebuild all kinds of things over the years. Sadly my parents are no longer here but I know they would have been amazed and delighted to see some of the beautifully crafted pieces of jewelry that are featured on Etsy these days. All cleverly utilise upcycled materials. Here are just a few of my favourites.

Necklace and bracelet by Dishfunctional Designs (uses broken china)


Necklaces by Mermaids Tears Jewelry (uses sea glass)

Necklace by Button Soup Jewelry (uses vintage buttons)

Bracelet and necklace by The Key of A (uses keys of all types)

Ring by London Particulars (uses vintage watch parts)

My final choices are created from vintage silver spoons. They are all made by LTCreates Jewelry 



 Variety of rings

If you have an upcycled favourite that is featured on Etsy feel free to leave the name of the shop in the comments box, I'd love to take a look.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Stories fondly remembered

My daughter has built up quite a large collection of Ladybird books over the years. Her love for these little books began when she was a child and the collection continues to grow thanks mainly to thrift shop finds.

Looking at the books I spotted several of her favourite stories and one in particular that was my husband's favourite when he was very young. His mum read the story to him when he was 3 or 4 years old and amazingly all these years later he can still quote several lines from the book.

I wonder if anyone else can recall this particular story.


Typically it's a sad tale with a happy ending (thank goodness, I hate sad endings). Judging by the fashions I think it was probably first published in the 1940s but remained on sale well into the 1970s.

Little dog Ginger lives on a farm in the heart of the countryside where he regularly plays with his friend Tommy. But one sad day Tommy tells him he must go and live in the big city and poor Ginger is bundled into a crate and taken to the station.

Tommy waves goodbye to his friend as the train passes (note the obligatory spotted hankie).

When he reaches London little dog Ginger is met by Joan who fastens a collar round his neck and drags him through the busy streets to his new home.

But of course Ginger is soon in trouble. When he breaks the arm off Joan's best doll he runs to hide but in doing so upsets a bucket of water which angers Mary the maid.

Mary and Joan (clutching her broken doll) go looking for Ginger who is hiding in the tool shed. When they find him the poor terrified little dog is locked in the shed as punishment. But thankfully Ginger is eventually able to make his escape.

And of course he wastes no time in finding his way back to the open countryside and the farm where his kind friend Tommy is waiting for him.

And the story ends with . . . .

So the friends remained together,
Friends for ever and a day,
Going out in wind and sunshine,
Out across the farm to play.

Thank goodness for happy endings!