Hello folks, before I start with my post I would like to say a very sincere thank you for all the comments I received on my last post. I found them very moving.
Right, here goes.
There's been a lot of changes in my life and attitude to things of late (not really surprisingly) I've been trying literally to put my house in order. The seemingly endless task of sorting out and decorating has begun, and as I'm sure you know the rooms that are finished make EVERYTHING else in the home look super shabby! Last Summer I did manage to decorate our downstairs loo and hallway and also the bathroom, which were long overdue but finally I have redecorated our dining room! I really don't like to admit that it has been many, many years since it was last decorated.
I took the plunge and 'Annie Sloaned' the dresser, corner unit, bookcase and hostess trolley, and though I shall whisper very quietly that I'm really not a fan of 'shabby chic' I really needed to make drastic changes. Out went the over sized dining table and 6 chairs (now re-homed with my beautiful daughter and her lovely partner.) It's taken me a while - I'm not getting any younger and I know when I've done enough! Here's some befores and afters....
The dresser top before - I don't have good views of the whole of it!
(incidentally, the daffodil china is one of the (many) things that has been re-homed.
Sold it to a vintage tea shop.)
Painted in AS Louis Blue and Original (off white)
then it's been AS Soft waxed to finish.
The knobs are crackled cream (eBay)
I've painted the interiors to match.
Please note fab new carpet
Couldn't find a before photo I'd taken so this is from here but identical to mine.
Mahogany heated hostess trolley
My pine bookcase was very similar to this one, but of course mine only cost £25 from a charity shop!
but afterwards it looked like this!
(This shows a little of the old peachy carpet)
The 'old' corner unit
And again after it'd been Annie Sloaned.
I managed to get hold of a fab pine farmhouse style table and hard wood chairs off eBay which someone had kindly already painted and waxed in AS Pure White.
(Sid's sleeping quarters showing by the radiator - she's 19 now and needs a bit of comfort.)
Since taking this photo I've also changed the curtains to a china blue colour.
It took me around 4 weeks plodding along at my own pace to do but we are delighted with the finished result. I did however roller on the AS paint as I preferred the finish to brush painted.
There has been a LOT of thinning out of 'stuff', some has gone (back) to charity, some has been stored in the loft and some given to friends - with more to do in every room.
I'm in the process of sorting out the gardens at the moment, and then the kitchen is next up, it too will be attacked by Annie Sloan - who has time to rub down oak cupboards and drawers? Not me!
I have taken to decision that ALL our downstairs rooms will be in blue and white.....well why not? Both hubs and I like those colours :o)
On to other matters.
Hedgehogs are still a huge part of my life :o) I've actually lost count of how many I've released back into the wild this year, I think it's nine or ten. Four of those were my little Autumn juveniles, and the others needed a safe place to live and Joan at the rescue centre chose me to release them.
I found out an amazing fact from Joan when collecting one of the spiky little critters for release - she has run the rescue centre for the last 15 years, taking in between 450 -500 hedgehogs a year. Those who are able to be treated are lovingly cared for and cured only to be handed back to the folk who bought them in for release. Joan had NEVER seen any of them returned to the wild! A few days later Joan rang me and asked if I could take another one, and that she could bring it round for me as she would be in the area. I suggested she leave it until later in the evening so that she could release it. She was over the moon! She arrived around 8 o'clock, we had a cuppa and a chat until it was dark enough. I marked 'Lucky' so that I could keep a close eye on him for the next few weeks. Joan placed him into one of the hoggy 'Hiltons' in the garden and we sat on a bench and waited for it to emerge. Half an hour passed and nothing happened, then Joan gave me a nudge as another hog had appeared for a forage around the food in the garden - she was beaming from ear to ear. A few minutes later another hog appeared and started to hoover up some mealworms, then a third large hog appeared and snuffled over right between our feet to one of the water dishes for a long drink. Joan was beside herself. Then 'Lucky' finally snuffled out and promptly began to eat. We were both overjoyed. We stayed outside for another 15 minutes or so until Joan had to leave. She told me the next day she'd had a lump in her throat as she was so moved to see the delightful little creatures doing what they should be doing. It was a privilege to be the one that finally let Joan release one of her beloved little patients.
Thank you for reading this, I know I've been missing for quite a while and there's been a lot of heart searching as to weather or not I was going to blog at all...for now I will try and 'get back into the swing' of it all as I do miss catching up with you all.
Mom sadly passed peacefully away just over a month ago after a short illness. Despite suffering for the last 4 years with dementia she had a very full and interesting 92 years of life.
Following words will just skim the surface of it.
Mom was born the eldest of identical twins to Clara and Jack Dunn on the 21st December 1922, younger sisters to John. The twins were inseparable throughout their lives, though had totally different personalities - Mom the extrovert, and Auntie Doris the home-maker. Nan and Grandad weren't by any means wealthy, but were very hard working and the children were always surrounded by love, and brought up to believe that they were very special people. She was also brought up with pets - cats, dogs and chickens which instilled in her a life-long love of animals. (To her last days she vividly remembered carrying soft, warm, Peggy the hen to their new home when she was four years old - Auntie Doris carried Tiger the cat with the white tipped tail!)
Despite having such different personalities it was uncanny how they would end up doing and wearing similar things. For example they both arrived on the same day and time to tell their parents the happy news that they were expecting their first child. (My lovely cousin was born only 10 days after my brother, he is known to me as CuzBro as we share some of the same DNA.) They would often attend family gatherings dressed in a similar manner - for example Mom wearing a red top and navy slacks, Doris wearing navy top and red slacks!) They spoke and or saw each other every single day of their lives until my Aunt died in 2006, as you can imagine Mom was devastated when she lost her sister.
Mom was always very active, taking part in sport during her younger days.
Mom 2nd from left front row. St. Saviours School netball team 1936.
When she left school she went straight into 'service' working for a local well to do family. She would be up at 5am to light the fires in the house, and many other duties. She worked there until war broke out in 1939, when she left to do work for the war effort. She worked in a factory that made springs and other components, Mom made springs for children's Mickey Mouse Gas Masks.
On VE day 08th May 1945, during the celebrations with family, friends and neighbours Mom met my Dad, Ron - it was love at first sight for them both. They married on the 16th May 1946, my brother Ron(ald) came along in 1949 and I followed in 1956. We were brought up strictly to respect others and to 'mind our manners', and although both Ron(ald) and I had a somewhat difficult relationship with our Mother we ALWAYS knew that we were loved by our parents.
Mom throughout her life worked hard and at times had more than one job to help make ends meet. In 1953 she joined Staffordshire Police in Bilston where we lived, as the first woman special constable in Staffordshire, and continued to 'do her duty' for the next 27 years.
Mom in 1953, (and below) photos taken by the local newspaper 'Express & Star' for the article about her joining the police force.
Bath time for my brother in 1953.
Though women constables were never issued with a truncheon (unlike today's police force - woman constables are issued with night sticks.) when Mom retired from the force in 1991 she was presented with a special truncheon, a great honour as very few women constables in the UK have been awarded one.
Laid upon Moms police uniform skirt her much treasured presentation truncheon, long service medal and bar, police whistle and key (which would have been for opening the Dr Who style blue police boxes) and her powder compact. I used scrabble letters as a tribute, Mom loved crossword puzzles and avidly played scrabble for many years.
Bilston changed it's county borders during her years in the force and became under West Midlands, hence the West Midlands police badge on her powder compact.
Mom sang every single day, up to and including her last day on earth. She knew a song on any subject you cared to mention! She was one of the founding members of the West Midlands Police Choir and sang with them from the 70's until she retired. She took part with the choir in the National Eisteddfod at Llangollen North Wales on no less than three occasions. (She was also an active member of local choirs up to 18 months before her death.)
In 2002, Mom was about to celebrate her 80th Birthday - we were at a loss as to know how to help her celebrate it. I asked her what she would like to do? Her reply amazed me...
"I'd like to go a ride in the police helicopter!"
What could I do but approach Staffordshire Police force and pass on my mothers request. When they realised that she had been the first woman Special Constable in the county, they helped us push the boat out for the celebrations. Although the insurance wouldn't allow Mom to actually have a flight in the helicopter arrangements were made for Mom and us (the family) to have a day visit to the aerodrome at Halfpenny Green Airport, Bobbington to meet the crew and were treated like royalty.
Here I am pictured with Mom just before her special day. You can see by the huge smile on her face what a brilliant surprise she had. We were all amazed by the equipment that the helicopter crews have at their disposal in the fight against crime.
After Dad died in 1995, Mom was determined not to allow depression to win. Throughout her life, as well as singing she had always had an interest in amateur dramatics and had appeared in many local shows and plays. She joined an 'extras' agency, and was soon offered a part as one of the witches in Roald Dahl's 'The Witches' at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton. The family joked with her that she was typecast ;o) She appeared in each performance for the two weeks the show was on.
Mom chose to move here, into sheltered housing in our village in 2003 as she realised that in the not too distant future she would probably need more help from me. She arranged to have me added as a joint bank account holder, made an Enduring Power of Attorney and also made and paid for all her funeral arrangements within the first two months of living here. This shows how she was quite an organised person throughout her life.
Sadly, dementia changed Mom's personality a lot until a few weeks before the end when she became very loving again. We knew that the end was very near and I had made my peace with her. She died surrounded by love, care and a very close family member was with her. Mom had been admitted to The Beeches care home at Standon Hall on the 23rd December for her own safety (a traumatic time for both Mom and I), and after settling in very well she became ill. We, the family have the highest regard for the loving care that she had during her stay there. Despite some of the awful things that we read about that happen in care homes there ARE good ones, and we believe that Mom was in one of the best. We, the family cannot praise the staff highly enough.
Mom's funeral was a celebration of her life. She chose to have a humanitarian graveside service, even though she'd had a deep religious up-bringing and belief throughout her life. When I went to see the undertaker about the arrangements they remembered Mom very well and told me that they'd had a long an interesting conversation about the service. Mom had told her that even though she was deeply religious we, her children weren't and she didn't think it was fair to make us attend a church service. We were deeply moved by this. She had asked for no flowers, but would like donations in her memory to be given to animal charities in her memory. The donations were an incredible £220, which we divided equally between Many Tears Animal Rescue and West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue. We know that Mom would have been delighted with our decision to award these two self funded charities which are close to our hearts. In turn the charities have been overwhelmed with the donations made in memory of Mom.
Mom, enjoying a visit to Nicky's (a family members farm) at lambing time in 2012
Rest in peace Mom, you are now reunited with your beloved Ron, our Dad - and you are very probably singing with the largest choir.
I realise that you still expect posts from me about my collections and new items that I've found, and though I'm not buying many items these days - after 'finding' something very recently I realised the other day that I have another collection that you will not know about - yet!
Welsh Love Spoons.
The carving of love spoons probably dates back to the 17th century, when young men would carve from a single piece of wood simple utilitarian spoons for their loved one - probably with just their initials and a simple hole to hang up the spoon likely using only a penknife and a saw.
Traditionally they would have used sycamore, as this is the type of wood which is well suited to use as a cooking utensil, though they could also have used oak, box, and fruit woods such as apple, wild cherry and pear. Close grained woods would have to be harvested and dried so that the wood didn't split as they were carving the spoon. Over the years they became more intricate so that they would be used as decoration instead. These young men would spend hours carving the spoon to give as a token of their love, in the hope that if it was accepted their loving relationship would begin. This is where the origin of the word 'spooning' comes from. (There is also a belief that the carvers expertise would show the girls family that he would be able to provide for the girl with his carpentry skills.)
The handle of the spoon then expanded to more of a paddle shape so that more and more intricate designs could be added.
This form of love token was also used in other European Celtic countries too.
Today, the carving continues and though I imagine rarely carved by the suitor there are many Welsh carvers that make and sell them, prices start in the tens of UK pounds to the hundreds depending upon the detail.
The symbols used in the carvings are generally accepted to mean the following:
Hearts = Love
Dragons (the symbol of Wales) = Protection
Locks/keys = Home and security
Knots = Everlasting love
Ship = Smooth passage through life
Bell = Weddings and anniversaries
Vine = Love grows
Comma shapes = Soul signs for deep affection
Ball = Love held safely
Cross = Faith
Flowers = Affection
Horse shoe = Good luck
Diamond = Wealth/good fortune
Double spoon bowl = Togetherness
Heart shaped bowl = Togetherness
Wheel = Work
Shield = Safekeeping & Protection
Twist = Binding and growing together
I have found my small, motley 'collection' from charity shops over a number of years, and I display them on the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Of course, as you can imagine I certainly haven't paid anything like the tens of pounds that they would have originally cost ;o)
and in close-up:
The bell for marriage/anniversary, and the heart for love.
The cross is for faith, the shield for safekeeping and protection.
(And a chipped spoon bowl because I'm clumsy and dropped it!)
Probably my favourite one, the Prince of Wales feathers to give good service, heart for love, and the lovely twist which means binding and growing together.
The horseshoe for good luck, and a heart for love.
A heart for love, the commas are soul signs for deep affection
and a double spoon for togetherness.
(Incidentally, after further tracing of my family tree I have found that there is Welsh blood running through my veins on both maternal and paternal sides of my family, so it looks like (finally) I have an apt collection!)
Hope all is well, and you have had an enjoyable weekend.