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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Just popping in quickly to say...

Hoping that all my lovely blogging friends enjoy peace, good health and happiness throughout 2015.
Sending my very best wishes to you all :o)


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

To wish you all...

A very happy Christmas!  Hoping that you and yours are all well.
Very best wishes to all.

X X X 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Love Spoons

Hello folks!

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.

And finally

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.

Best wishes to all!

x x x

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A bit late posting this, but PLEASE check.

Will post again soon, hope you AND the HEDGEHOGS have a safe bonfire night.

Best wishes

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday morning on Cannock Chase.

Hi Folks!

First and foremost, I MUST thank you for your lovely comments on my last post - I'm sorry that I didn't reply to you all, (hangs head in shame).

This morning I had to take hubs to Stafford Showground as he has a bike in the Classic Motorcycle show there.  I decided to come back home through the 'Chase' and see what I could find to photograph.  (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

I found this little chaffinch hunkering down out of the wind.

Another one with a beak-full!

A male great tit and another chaffinch.

Then there was the magpie, female pheasant and the male great tit. 

Magpies feeding their face ;o)
(I LOVE magpies)

Sadly, there were far too many folk out and about to see any deer, but I caught these images the other afternoon (17th October) when I escaped for a few hours.

Melanistic fallow doe

Melanistic 'pricket' fallow buck
(first antlers)

* * *

I've started to capture and weigh my little spiky garden visitors to make sure they have enough fat reserves to last the Winter hibernation (at this time of year minimum of 700g.  So far the three I've weighed were - 1.2kg! 900g and the first juvenile I've seen this year that was only 400g.  She has been taken to West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue so that my dear friend Joan can 'fatten her up to a safe weight and then she'll be released back into my garden at an appropriate time,'  :o)
Keep an eye out for hogs and weigh them too.  If you see one out in the daylight there IS a problem.  (See my hedgehog info page for details)

I leave you one happy lady!

Best wishes to all.


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Seasons are a changing too.

Hi Folks

Yup, it's really me.  Sorry that I've been missing for (quite) a while again.

We've certainly had some wonderful weather this Summer and it looks like Autumn is continuing to be good.

Earlier this month, I finally had a break  - four years on!  It was only a Monday - Friday one, but oh my I NEEDED it!
We went to New Romney in Kent.  The weather was absolutely fabulous.  Our dear daughter and her partner came along too.  A wonderful time was had by all :o)

New Romney is only a mile or so away from Dungeness (England's only desert) the most atmospheric place I have visited in the UK.  It's a favourite area, and it's been some years since we were there last.  I'm delighted to say that the place had hardly changed at all.
I celebrated (another) birthday while we were there.

Derek Jarmans Garden - Prospect Cottage.

When we went to Hythe - another of my favourite places. A place we've been to many times before however, I'd never noticed this ancient plaque set into a wall leading to a church before.

We also visited Winchelsea - a lovely village.  We visited Spike Milligans grave in the beautiful, ancient churchyard.

There was quite a few folk paying respects to Spike, a man that has given laughter to millions.

* * *

I realise that I'm changing as I grow older - in mind as well as body!  I hardly buy any 'bargains' these days, and I'm far happier taking things TO the charity shop.  Quite a change eh?
I'm still very involved with the delightful little prickly creatures that visit our garden each night, and of course the rescue centre, who are invaluable.  My interest in wildlife photography is deepening, and if I get the chance I escape for a few hours with my camera for a little 'me' time.
I've just upgraded my camera, from a Panasonic Lumix FZ38 to a Panasonic Lumix FZ72, which I took out yesterday afternoon for it's first memorable outing to the nearby outstanding beauty of Cannock Chase.  I was very happy trying to get to know the camera settings and taking various shots.

Male Pheasant
Male Chaffinch
Fallow deer (mother and child) crossing the road
Then, a truly magical thing happened.  I had been taking images of some birds from the car when looked up, and there, right in front of the car was a fox.  He walked around, and came to the water dishes (that someone leaves out) for a long, long drink. 

I was smiling for hours afterwards :o)
(Made me think of the lovely Snowbird with her rescue foxes.)

I'd taken some other photos over the last few weeks, here's a few.

Juvenile green woodpecker with a crow looking on.


Sadly, I also missed some good shots of a rare Summer visitor to this area, 
the red backed shrike.  I kept seeing the little blighter but it was always just out of a clear shot, except the only time I hadn't got the camera ready!

* * *
So it looks like when I do get around to making a post it stands a very good chance it's going to involve wildlife!

* * *
On other matters....
I'm still my Mothers only carer as she will not budge and allow me to get help, though I have recently joined the local carers association.  I attended my first meeting this week - they seem a lovely bunch, and I'm certain they will be a great support network for me.

Hope to be back soon as time allows.  I do still pop in and out to visit you - thought I admit to rarely leaving comments, shame on me :o(

Best wishes to all you lovely folk out there.

x x x

Oh! just thought of a quick P.S.
(Than will probably make you smile)

I love runner beans and I always manage to get some in the garden. This year I've been overrun with the dreaded slugs, and as you know I would NEVER use slug pellets, and the little buggers had a go at my beans.  I had read that coffee grounds are a good deterrent, so when I saw some on offer at McDonalds for a £2 charity donation I snapped them up.  However, when I saw that the bag of grounds was HUGE (around 20 pounds in weight!) I wondered if I'd done the right thing.  
As soon as I unloaded them from the car I put a good, thick layer around the beans thinking that'd sort 'em out.  Little did I know that the caffeine woke the little buggers up and instead of just having a quick munch during the hours of darkness they were at it all day.  By the next morning all I had left was one solitary flower! :o(  It's the first year I haven't had the delights of home grown beans as I pit the remaining stems and roots into the compost heap.  Take that as a lesson folks!
Anyone out there know of a good use for coffee grounds?**

**Thanks to Vintage Jane here's a good link - just don't believe the bit about slugs ;)


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Thought I'd better check in again.

Hi folks, yes - it's really me!

I'd like to thank sincerely, those of you who have contacted me, concerned that I was okay.
I hope that you are all still out there, and haven't lost interest during my absence - and of course all is well with you.

Time flies and I can hardly believe that it's been four months since I last posted.
I'd lie if I said it hadn't been a stressful four months with various things going on, and as you can imagine my Mother has been at the centre of a lot of it.  Her dementia continues to run it's course, she is still refusing any outside help and so I continue to go each day with her meds and to make sure that her beautiful cat Teddy is fed - she forgets otherwise.

We've had other problems in the family, and I admit that there's been a black dog following me around for a while, which is the main reason for my low profile.  I feel that I'm gaining a better hold though now and my face doesn't seem to leak as much - thank goodness.  I have visited blogs a couple of times a week, though I know I've missed a lot that's been going on.

Anyway, that's enough of that.  Updates on my sweet little prickly friends.
Since I posted Juvenile Hedgehogs  way back in November, I captured a further five underweight juveniles the following night, making a total of NINE!  Poor Joan was overwhelmed with these and many more that came into the rescue centre.

One of the 200 - 250g hogs

Two more

Double decked carriers waiting overnight in the laundry with the five hogs inside.

I also had another two brought to me by neighbours who were found in daylight, but sadly neither of them made it.

Joan kept my nine (!) and fed them up over the Winter, but again sadly two of those didn't make it either.  BUT the seven that did make it were released back into the garden in late March and early April during the mild weather we were having.  The hedgehog boxes in the garden were waiting for them :o)  They all came back like fat footballs, five of them weighed in at over a kilo!

The first three paint marked and ready for freedom :o)
The big bruiser - the heaviest one.

I'm pleased to report that they've ALL prospered and were joined by at least three of last years adults.  I continue to feed and look out for them.
Oh, I almost forgot - a few weeks after release I awoke one morning to find one (very large one)  feeding in the garden, and I knew that wasn't right.  I weighed it and it seemed to be okay but it wasn't curling up, but after speaking to Joan we decided that she'd better take him in to check over.  His eyes appeared to be bright and there was nothing apparently wrong.  He was wormed and given a dose of antibiotics, then after a night at the rescue centre was released again.  Joan's only comment was that he was very randy!  So we put his daylight hours down to keeping his strength up ;o) and I decided to christen him Dick!  BUT the following day a neighbour came round and said that there was a very large paint marked hedgehog in her garden looking for food.  When I checked it was Dick.  I contacted Joan again, and after much discussion I checked his eyes again - still clear and bright.  Joan asked me to put my finger towards his eyes - he didn't flinch at all.  So off he went again back to the rescue centre.  He was certainly blind, and even though Joan had over wintered him it wasn't apparent at all, and we wondered if something had happened since his release?  He couldn't be returned to the wild as his life would be in danger without sight. 
Happily though Joan has some very good contacts, a few of them have very large, enclosed gardens in which disabled or blind hogs can live safely and happily.  A retired farmer who lives near to us both offered (the now re-named) Dead-eyed Dick a permanent home in his walled garden.  We both went along to release him into his new home.  Here he is settling into his new home.

a corner of Dead-eyed Dick's new garden.

The good news is that he has settled in well and there is also a young three legged lady hedgehog living there, so you never know there could be some little babies this Summer :o)  We're all just hoping they have four legs and are not carrying white sticks ;o)

I'll be back again with more in the next week or two.

Sending love and best wishes