Monday, 31 March 2008

The Rustle of Spring

Up until half an hour ago I hadn't a clue what I would write today. Well that's not strictly true, I had planned a post, written it, taken photos and then at the last moment bottled out! Does that happen to you, do you plan your posts, are you completely spontaneous or do you just see what the day brings your way? Anyway I walked away from the computer, popped to the shop, came back and started to tidy up. The batteries on my trusted radio are failing (I have Radio 4 on all day when I'm alone) and the house was still, apart from the birds singing away outside. And then I knew what I needed - some quiet.

Nothing loud, nor bright or too fussy. I was throwing away what was left of my Easter flowers when I rescued this beautiful ranunculus from the vase. I have always been fascinated by the shapes of flowers and plants, as a child I was fascinated by the symmetry of certain plants and now will stop and stare at an artichoke for ages. Not only had this flower survived in bloom for nearly two weeks but its beauty was intact. As delicate as the vintage sheet music she's sitting on. Those beautiful intricate folds of its petals - perfection.

Feeling a little upstaged by the flower, I sensed that Miss Blossom was feeling a little dejected. Here she is sporting her new spring bonnet (well not hers - I bought it for Big Sister who has a thing for hats, and looks gorgeous in all of them, from Niki who was selling a selection of lovely bonnets a few weeks ago).

Some floral brooches added to the spring picture and, in case you think her rather immodest, this being her second outing with no clothes, at one point she was fully clad in a beautiful white vintage dress but, alas, that "ample chest" of hers made it rather too tight a fit. This being a quiet kind of Monday I don't think I would have wanted to hear her sighs and mutterings in the corner as she struggled with her dress.

It's been a hurly burly kind of weekend, lots crammed in and an hour lost to the clocks. However, Little Sister got to meet Jacqueline Wilson at a booksigning, which made her day and more than made up for the three hour wait, Mr Ragged Roses was not a happy man. Big Sister had her dance show and was wonderful. So poised, long legged and graceful it was hard to believe that this was the same little girl who at the age of three had to leave ballet because the music scared her. Watching her on stage I wondered when this transformation came about, I know it was a gradual thing, somewhere along the line my little girl in the pink leotard became this beauty in top hat and jazz shoes!

So perhaps that's why I need my quiet. Some time to sit and think, some time for reflection and to remember how transitory things are and to learn to appreciate them while we can.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Full House!

In my last post I said that it felt more like Christmas than Easter at the weekend and I wasn't wrong. The postman seems to be delivering new goodies to me on almost daily basis this past week! This lovely hare was sent to me by the very kind Lynne who won my giveaway the other week. I had commented on her wonderful blog just how beautiful they were and lo and behold as a "thank you" for my goodies Lynne sent me this gem! Lynne was slightly concerned that I wouldn't be able to control his springiness but, rest assured Lynne, he's settled in very well and has only hopped off his cupboard top twice. Keeping him company on the fireplace is this lovely hare tag that Lynne also sent. My bunnies have taken a while to adjust but they all seem to be getting along nicely.

I sold lots of my spring bunnies on Etsy recently and somebody who bought a bunny bundle was Coralie. It's great to find out where things end up so I was very pleased to receive an email from Coralie thanking me and asking me to take at her blog. There was Mr Bunny showing himself off to some new found French friends, all set to go off on some major Easter egg hunts at the weekend. It was lovely for me to discover a new blog and for all you francophiles out there, it's in French too! Great for polishing up my shamefully rusty French and lots of lovely photos to savour. Coralie also thought she would like to send me a little something and look what I got from her yesterday:

beautiful stamps of the Eiffel Tower. Thanks so much Coralie, "merci beaucoup" - I love Paris and have very fond memories of it. I am still marvelling at the sheer power of blogging to surprise us with its twists and turns and unpredictability. I have come into contact with so many lovely people and followed so many blog trails.

I'm sure that most of you would have read Michele's
lovely blog before and I'm sure most of you would have gathered by now what a warm, humourous and kind person she is. Oh and very talented too. Just before Easter Michele sent the Ragged Roses household a little Easter parcel. A chocolate bunny for me, most importantly, some gifts for the girls, some more of her wonderful badges, Easter decorations and these delightful cards (you see now why I said it's been feeling like Christmas!). Thank you Michele it was such a kind thing to do and we were all really touched that you thought of us. (You may need to click on the photo of Michele's cards to see the badges a little better)

But that's not all! I finished my last Persephone book last week and have been in serious withdrawal ever since. This has been remedied by the arrival this morning of my three new books, all of which, curiously enough, have very similar titles.

"House-bound" by Winifred Peck, a story showing the impact of the war on a household where a woman decides to do without her maid and manage her own house. "A House in the Country" by Jocelyn Playfair, again set during the Second World War but played out in a rural country idyll. "The New House" by Lettice Cooper, set in pre-war Britain and over one day tells the story of a family moving from a large house to a much smaller one. They all sound great and very domestic, don't know where to start.

Of the three previous books I bought from Persephone, the book that, understandably, moved me the most was Cicely Hamilton's "William - An Englishman". Written by Cicely Hamilton while she was working at a hospital and organising concerts at the Front during WW1, this book is one of the most moving I have read in a long time. Two young people, both political activists and idealists, marry and go on honeymoon in 1914 to a remote cottage in Belgium. Secluded from the world for three weeks they emerge one day from a walk in the countryside and literally stumble into the horrors of WW1. This scene has been haunting me since I read it last week. I won't spoil the book for you but by the end of the story William learns that reality has no place for his former idealistic beliefs. William was like so many thousands of men during the war, quiet, without a voice, struggling to make sense of it all. The other day whilst sorting through my old postcard collection I read on the back of one of them a pencil written message from a soldier to his wife, he longs desperately for one of her letters and complains only of the mud that seems to be all around him. When Big Sister went to Ypres the other week I found myself visiting lots of websites to find out more, trying to make sense of it all myself. "William" is a great book.
Anyway my three new books all promise to be of a lighter mood and I'm looking forward to letting you all know how I get on with them. The film of "Miss Pettigrew" seems to be getting great reviews in USA so I'm very excited about seeing that when it opens here.
What a long post, sorry I've been rambling again.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Easter eggs and snowfall

Well that's it, Easter over and instead of gamboling into Spring, the arrival of the holiday weekend brought a return to winter. Perhaps one of the coldest of winter weekends too! Was I alone in feeling that Easter Sunday morning felt more like Christmas than Christmas? As we sat eating breakfast and eyeing up the Easter eggs it was very strange to see the snow falling in the garden. So it was a cold, grey squally weekend here but by no means miserable. The snow not thick enough for outdoor fun but cold enough to make us go into "hibernation mode", which is not such a bad thing when you think about it.

Once we realised that the usual Easter walks and hunts would have to be put on hold for a while the huge pile of chocolate that was amassing in the kitchen brought its own comfort! I had planned to do some much needed gardening but managed only a brief spell outside on Friday between the showers. I managed to plant a couple of shrubs but held back from sowing any seeds as it was just too cold. I'm going to try planting some chard in big pots this year to see how they grow, it might do better in pots away from the snails, slugs and cats. I also bought these poppy seeds in Woolies the other day. I was drawn to their colour and frilliness and it was only when I was paying for them I noticed that they were Laura Ashley seeds! Produced in association with Johnsons seeds admittedly, but still Laura Ashley. Two days earlier I noticed in the Cath Kidston shop that they are now selling their own CK washing up liquid and fabric washing liquid range. I wonder why these companies feel the need to increasingly extend their range of products so much?

Saturday and Sunday were spent rolling around the house, eating chocolate, grandparents visiting us and more, much more, eating of chocolate. Little sister and big sister both insisted on egg hunts with clues which were a lot of fun. Big sister having one of those teenager moments in which she was so adamant that she knew the answer to her clue that she spent 20 minutes in the rain sorting through the recycling boxes looking for her choccie eggs ( a real mix of determination and stubborness and complete dedication to chocolate!) As if we'd be that mean - it was under the lettuce in the fridge of course, but would she listen?!!

Our hibernation ended yesterday when we visited some friends for lunch and more chocolate. They live in one of our favourite parts of the city, on the seafront in one of these gorgeous Regency crescents. A walk along on the beach wasn't on the cards as the weather was cold again by the time we'd finished all that eating. But we couldn't have planned for a nicer day - friends, family and chocolate, all in all a good weekend.

A belated thank you now to Jennie and twiggy who both gave me this award. Thanks to both of you! I am meant to pass the award on - I find it hard to do this part of the award thing, not because I don't want to pass it on but because I don't want to choose from all of you who read this blog. So please consider this award passed on to you all and if you've got time pop over to say hello to Jennie and Twiggy too.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Happy Easter

A bunch of flowers for you this Easter.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with fun and family. Not much fresh air on the cards for us - the forecast for us is SNOW! (indoor Easter egg hunts here we come).

Nearly as exciting as the prospect of all of these

Enjoy your weekend and Happy Easter!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

I can't knit, but I know someone who can ...

I've just got back from town where I bought a blanket for little sister's teacher whose baby is due very soon. I found one I liked, soft cotton, natural, organic and undyed. I'm pleased with it but not as pleased as I would have been if I'd made it myself. But there's the rub, I just can't knit! When I was a little girl my friend who lived next door taught me to knit. We were both left handed and somehow between us we managed to produce long woolly scarves which looked okay(ish) but neither of us had a clue how we had produced them. My grandmother tried to teach me, my mum gave up and it's just one of those things that I can't do. Whenever I look at the illustrations in those "How to" books well, it just doesn't look like how my friend Annabel taught me! To make matters worse all you bloggers are the most fantastic knitters, gorgeous blankets have been crocheted and knitted for me to drool over, there seems to be a legion of you out there making the most fabulous fair isle socks and glamorous corsages and I'm here twiddling my thumbs!

I've been having a sort out (that's what happens when you start to decorate, a whole new can of worms is opened) and in amongst a pile of books I found this little gem.

A 1940s knitting book that's crammed full of knitting patterns. It seems a shame to keep hold of it, I love the photos and would love to be able to knit everything in it, but who am I kidding? In the name of honesty and in keeping with the blogging code I'll hold my hand up high and say "I can't knit, I won't knit and for the sake of my spring cleaning, this book has to go!"
So if anyone reading this would like this book, please let me know. Perhaps we could do a little swap (but please no wool, that would just be rubbing my nose in it!).

There's some great vintage ladies jumpers and cardigans that judging by my recent trawl of the shops are very fashionable at the moment. Short cropped cardigans and tops with puffed sleeves and nipped in waists. fair isle gilets and for the more athletic amongst you:

Yes, lovely woolly swimming costumes! Can you imagine stepping out of the pool in that! I wonder would it shrink while you were swimming in it or stretch and sag?! There's also lots of lovely sensible woollen underwear if you're feeling the cold!!!

I love this bedjacket intended for a new mum but I wouldn't mind one now and a lovely shawl.

Socks, tea cosies, hot water bottle covers, balalclava helmets (!), coat hanger covers, crocheted edges for towels, designs for toddlers and a wonderful beret and scarf set, in fact something for the whole family - as the book says "A recipe for happy families" . I'll just have to comfort myself with the thought that another book has left the building...

Monday, 17 March 2008

A quiet day

Hello, hope you all enjoyed the weekend. Ours was good, quiet, relaxed and spontaneous, just the way I like it! Big Sister and Little Sister both were able to see friends, M and I were able to read the papers have a mooch round town, a spot of decorating and most importantly, recover from the fuzzy heads we'd earned at a party we went to on Friday- the alcohol seemed like such a good idea at the time! It's a good feeling when you know you can wake up on Monday knowing that everyone in the family has done something they wanted - one that's not always achievable.

On Friday morning this is what the postman delivered to me. Now I'll never say no to a pressie and am always delighted to receive anything but there is something so exciting about getting an unexpected parcel in the post. You have to savour every moment, hold the parcel, examine the parcel for clues, stamps, handwriting etc. Then unwrap the parcel, slowly mind, it's all part of the fun of it. And this is what was inside a lovely bundle of spring cheer from the very kind Heidi. Thank you Heidi, I am still beaming from your generosity and thoughtfulness - A golden pouch of Easter eggs, a lovely Van Gogh postcard and the prettiest spring plaque which looks perfect in my little blue room - a completely unprovoked act of kindness.
More "thank yous" to all of you who left a comment on my blog birthday post, we have a winner. Little Sister chose a number from all the comments, and the winner is Lynn. It was Lynn's birthday on Saturday, so Happy Birthday to you and I'm really pleased to be able to send you a belated gift. I wish I could have sent you all a little something too, especially those of you who wanted to win the book (not very subtle Miss Thimbleanna!) - I did notice on that you can get hold of copies for 49p, so if you fancy a read ...

I've finished two of my Persephone books now. " Marianna" and "Miss Pettigrew lives for a day" and loved them both. I was able to finish Miss Pettigrew yesterday morning in bed (oh the very rare luxury of a Sunday lie-in) and found it completely enchanting and charming and although very light-hearted I was at times very moved. Miss Pettigrew had lived such a quiet, lonely life that it was good to see her enjoying the fun and frivolity of life - I wonder if she spent the next day feeling as fuzzy headed as me!!!

I decided, somewhat recklessly, to start painting the hall yesterday. A huge job but I've started so now I've got to finish it. It will be white which will be much fresher than the dirty lemony colour that we have lived with since we've moved here. I started by painting my favourite parts of the hall, the wall with the mirror on I love, and the rest of the hall looks so shabby now that I'm forced to continue! I hope to be resurfacing some time this week for another post. The weather forecast this morning on Radio 4 said that it was going to be "a quiet day" - I hope so!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Mad March Hares

THANK YOU! Look at all those comments on my birthday post, it's been lovely reading them all, hearing from old and new friends. If you still haven't left a comment but would like to win the giveaway please leave a comment on the post below and a name will be chosen on Sunday (and that includes you Jackie!).

I can't tell you how disconcerting I've found seeing my face, albeit chubby baby face, staring at me on the computer screen everytime I've come over here. I'm not enjoying the experience at all so for my own sake, here's a quick change of photos. I really, really don't like having my photo taken as some of you may know and after a morning in town today I've just discovered that I really, really don't like clothes shopping either!!!

Anyway, moving on, these past few weeks have been jam packed with things going on. It's felt like the run up to Christmas but without the pressies at the end! The calender has been full of school actiivities, after school activities and each activity has involved major planning, a huge amount of time and at times huge emotional input (I'm talking teenagers, parents evenings, GCSEs). Oh that makes it sound as if my daughter's giving me reasons to be concerned and she isn't, quite the contrary. Sometimes it just feels that too much pressure is being put on our children unnecessarily and as a parent it's hard feeling so powerless - but that's another story. And thank heavens for white sheets! We've had one white sheet stashed in the dressing up box for three years now and it's done the rounds as a toga, greek robe and this week's Egyptian costume - it's the little black dress of the dressing up box.

Big Sister went on a day trip to Ypres on Saturday to visit the trenches and battlefields. This meant a very early start for everyone, 4,30am rise and shine and I hadn't really fallen asleep the night before and collecting again at midnight. We did spend most of Saturday feeling like the walking dead. She had a wonderful time, if wonderful is the right word for it. She came back incredibly moved by the experience and eager to learn more. In fact we've all been thinking so much about WW1 recently, it's made me re-read some of old fav books of mine, but I will blog about that other time.

I felt that I needed to make some "me time" last week and decided to do a little sewing. Well my little sewing diversion turned into a little obsession. After making a couple of bunnies for my girls I put a few in my etsy shop.

Some have little pouches to store small Easter eggs and some complete with a vintage Easter postcard. All have a little vintage bunny image gift tag.

It's been good to have a little go at something new for a change but now I must stop as our house is looking a bit too much like Watership Down.

Well it is springtime and you know what they say about rabbits!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Now we are one ...

... we should be a bit more organised, but unfortunately one year on in blogworld and I'm even more scatterbrained than usual. I could have sworn my blog birthday was today but, no, it was last week and I missed it! And for those of you who have been wondering what I look like (Samantha and Michele you may have to wait for photos to be emailed to you! ) this is for you - I think I was about one then this was taken. Who would have thought a year ago when I tentatively pressed that "publish" button and Ragged Roses was born that I would then go ahead and not commemorate it's first anniversary. I remember just how nervous I was and was literally shaking at the time. I'm so indebted to this blog and the friends that I have made this past year - Such special friends and memories.

A year recorded here for me and you - a year that has been enriched by your lovely, supportive comments and a year that has been made a lot rosier (no pun intended!) by being able to share it with so many lovely people.

A year on and I still never take any of your comments for granted and am still over the moon to find your comments and words of support - THANK YOU! This has been so much fun for me and, surprisingly, my family who are more or less use to me now walking around with a camera surgically attached to my body with one eye constantly on a photo opportunity. I have learnt to enjoy the everyday and find the extraordinary in the ordinary and have been so pleased to find that so many of you have felt the same too.

If you leave a comment on this post before next Sunday, your names will be entered for a giveway. Amongst the goodies are a vintage copy of "I Capture the Castle" (of course!) and a bag of chocolate Easter eggs to be eaten whilst reading.

One of my favourite spring time china brooches, in lieu of the bunch of flowers I would love to give you all.

Some pretty vintage buttons in spring colours mounted on a card for crafting. A vintage Easter postcard and some facsimile floral cigarette cards which could be used in collages.

Well there had to be roses somewhere, so here is a lovely little old rosey plate and pink ragged heart too.
I will be posting during the week but if you want to win the giveaway please leave a comment on this post! I've got to go and make an Egyptian costume now for Little Sister, as you do, so I best be off. Enjoy your Sunday and Happy Birthday!