Thursday, 28 February 2008

21st Century Fox

I was standing in the kitchen early this morning, gazing out into the garden, cup of tea in hand, musing on the transience of life, when a large dog fox leapt over the fence and stood on the lawn, just a few yards away.

I gasped. He simply stood absolutely still..........and looked straight at me.

He was a magnificent specimen.........a far cry from the mangy foxes which we often see crossing the roads nearby. His coat was red and glossy, his tail lush and full. He was most definitely bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Mere seconds passed while we looked at each other..............

Then he loped off, across the steps, around the shed, up the garden, and disappeared into the deep hedge at the top of the garden.

Meanwhile, small dog was going ballistic, throwing herself at the door in a frenzy. We didn't dare let her out in case she became a foxy hors d'oeuvre.

However it does explain the foxy aroma we've detected on her.............

28 days........

According the little countdown gizmo I put on my computer desktop, I have just 28 days till we leave for Miniatura. Last week I felt quite in control of my time management, but today I'm starting to panic just a bit.

So to calm me down, I decided to dye some ribbons.

In order to destress, some people go for a walk, others read a book, or pour a glass of wine.

I dye ribbons.

Unconventional I agree, but it works for me.

There is something calming about starting out with a large pile of soft, white, pure silk ribbons, and transforming them into a myriad of rainbow colours.

I feel a little like an old fashioned alchemist, mixing a spectrum of potions, swirling lengths of ribbon in the liquid then rinsing and hanging them up to dry, like multi-coloured spaghetti.

So, the workroom now resembles the aftermath of an explosion in a rainbow factory.

Could be worse............

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Ciao i miei amici........

So I am returned from foreign parts.

A pre-birthday treat to Venice which was most enjoyable, if a little cold and foggy! However the fog only added to the mysterious atmosphere in this strangely surreal city.

I've come back brimming with ideas for new projects, but they will have to wait till April before I can start on any of them.

Today is 'catch up' day..........a flood of emails and a pile of post to sort through, then I must reconnoitre my workroom to assess what needs to be done.

Apart from LOTS.

In other news, small dog is very subdued and has a mistrustful air about her. She was entrusted to two very good friends, and we know she had a lovely time while we were away, but now that we are home she seems suspicious that we might ship her off again at any minute. Normally, while I'm working at my laptop, she would be curled up on my knees, but she is resolutely refusing to be placated and has taken up residence in the porch, lying in a little patch of sunlight.

More anon...........

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Short break..........

I'm going to be offline for a few days, courtesy of an early birthday treat!

Woo and indeed hoo!

However, I will be back soon with news of what I've been up to.

Can't say now as I've been sworn to secrecy. By none other than Secret Squirrel.


Well here's 'hidden camera' proof of the swearing-in ceremony. Secret Squirrel is the one in the hat.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Cave canem...........

Small dog has had a bath.

Much to her disgust.

She has discovered a patch of something 'foxy' at the top of our garden and despite our protestations to the contrary, is absolutely adamant that the aroma reminds her of Chanel No. 5.
To us it is more reminiscent of Canal No. 5. Both pungent and unpleasant. Plus it makes the fur on her face all stiff. Eeeeewwwwwww

So, despite her protestations, she has been thoroughly shampooed, rinsed, towelled, combed through, and then released to race through the entire house at 50 miles an hour, whirling like a cartoon Tasmanian Devil.

She finally calmed down and has even submitted to a thorough 'sniffing'. I do love the smell of freshly laundered dog, and believe me, it beats the aroma of 'eau de fox' hands down.

Or maybe that should be paws down.

Anyhoo, I am sure that she won't object to me posting this photo...............


Yet another busy day.

According to the 'helpful' countdown timer I put on my desktop, (some people never learn........) it's only 36 days till Miniatura.

Well actually it's 38 days but we have to leave a few days early. Unlike the vast majority of exhibitors who have to travel more than a few hours, and therefore stay in the vicinity of the NEC, we won't be hotel accommodation. Or even B&B.


No by no nonny no.

We will be camping.

Mad or what?

AND taking small dog.

In our little camper van, which will be packed to the roof with boxes, more boxes, exhibition stand etc etc.

It all seemed like a good idea at the time, and it will save us £££s on the cost of hotel accommodation. Plus most hotels don't allow dogs.......even small ones.

So camping it is.

In March.

In the Midlands.

I'm sure it will be fine.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Printer Rage.......The Movie

Yes, yes. I will admit it. This IS displacement activity.

Printer rage.............

First off, let me assure you that I am NOT wasting time.

No siree.

No diplacement activity here.........move along, nothing to see.

I am actually working. And waiting. Working and waiting.

Waiting for the printer to cooperate and print out the box inserts I've so laboriously worked on for the past few hours.

It seems to be sulking, which is nothing new. The printer and I go back a long way and our relationship has always been somewhat strained.

I blame myself.

When newly installed I compared it unfavourably to my previous printer, who was a delightful character.......ever eager to please, going about its allocated tasks with puppy-like fervour. Neatly depositing perfectly printed sheets into its tray with an air of a job well done.

This replacement printer has never been able to live up to the positive work ethic of the last much-loved workhorse, and I think it resents that. Or me. Or both.

This is a fairly accurate scenario when preparing to do a print job.

I start off optimistically, make sure the correct paper is loaded (it HATES the wrong paper) and carefully check the little blinking lights to make sure it is 'communicating'. Reassured I sit down at my laptop, and with only the merest hesitation, hit PRINT. I carefully check and re-check all the settings, paper orientation, print quality, print options, paper options, as I know that any misktakes at this stage will cause serious repercussions later.

When I have double-checked everything, twice (that's four times) I hit OK and sit back...... waiting.

I'm wirelessly networked to the printer, so it takes a little time for the signal to go via the main computer, to the printer. This 'little time' is different each time. If the printer is in a particularly good mood, it might only take a mere 30 seconds to start. However, as that is rarely the case it sits brooding for anything up to 3 minutes before it deigns to acknowledge my request. Any longer than 3 minutes and I have to start looking for a little flashing icon which notifies me that I am not communicating with the printer and should start again.

At this point I might risk a quick glance over at the machine, which has a rather smug air which I don't think suits it.

Try again, but first have to clear all the spooled files which were waiting to print. I can only do this from the gateway computer, not my laptop so I have to venture into the bowels of the desktop pc to flush away the offending files.

Hit print again (would far rather hit printer but do not want to sink to its level) and wait. Just as I'm about to go over and start pressing its buttons it suddenly jerks into life, and begins a series of physical jerks....... all its lights flash on and off, it makes lots of noise, and the cartridge carriage gallops back and forth, grinding and growling as it goes.
After an unnecessarily long spell of these limbering up exercises, it is suddenly exhausted, and falls silent. I sometimes wonder if I can't hear it panting.
Then, suddenly, after another series of arabesques with the carriage, and it finally draws a sheet of paper down into its workings. Again it stops. It might be tasting the paper to see if it is the correctly selected type (if it isn't, it will spit it straight out into the tray). If it judges that all is as it should be, it then begins to print. Soooooo slowly. I could train a team of mice to print quicker than that machine.

You would think that having printed the required sheet, that would be the end of it. But no. The printer has one last joke to play.

The paper tray is flimsy and inadequate. The printer knows this and takes advantage of it. Just as it gets to the final line of printing, it pauses, gathering its strength, then literally jettisons the sheet of paper out onto the tray, where it either immediately slithers down onto the floor and floats under the desk, or just balances on the lip of the tray, leading edge gradually curving down, until the weight of the page takes over and the sheet nosedives down behind the radiator. Both of these scenarios are frustrating, requiring scrabbling around on the floor in undignified positions to retrieve the sheet, which will of course be dusty and dog-eared.

Don't even get me started on double-sided printing, which according to the manual is a piece of cake. I maintain that it is an impossibility to get a correctly printed A5 booklet, where consecutive pages are not printed upside down or back to front. I swear, that on the rare occasions when I have got it right first time, and made copious notes, (with diagrams) as to which way up and in which order the sheets should go, the very next time I have to print the exact same booklet, it will all go very, very wrong.

Ha, it has finally finished. Although I can see from a cursory glance at the top sheet that the printed images are faint and streaked, which must mean that one of the ink cartidges needs replacing.

Which means I have to open it up and actually get my fingers inside the thing.

Which is its optimum opportunity to take further retaliatory action...........

Fruits of my labours.......

I suspect there are those among you, browsing my blog (and you are out there.....I know because my little map gizmo has developed a rash of little red spots!) who wonder if I ever get any work done at all.

What with setting fire to myself, and cajoling small dog to model the latest in canine style statements I suspect you might imagine that this blog is merely a smoke screen (ha, no pun intended). I wouldn't even blame you if you held the view that despite my protestations to the contrary, I spend vast amounts of time with the displacement goblins, or mooching on eBay, or amusing myself writing posts on here.

So to prove my credentials, and also, if I'm scrupulously honest, to show off my work just a little bit.............(that's a blushing, shamefaced smiley who should be animated but seems frozen to the spot)

........... here is the result of my past 10 day's labours.

Now all I have to do is photograph them all individually and add the photos to their certificates, then I can carefully nestle them in their boxes ready to pack for Miniatura.

I'll be starting a new and different batch this week, including a few vintage bride toy dolls just 1 3/4" tall, and some tiny little ballerina toy dolls at 1 1/2", so I'm scouring the internet for ideas, especially for the ballerinas. Naturally there will have to be tiny Firebird, Swan Lake and Nutcracker tutus, plus any other particularly eye-catching costumes.

If time permits (although it probably won't) I have in mind to do a few fairy tale characters as little toy dolls........Little Red Riding Hood appeals, as does Goldilocks and the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella.

My problem is that I have way too many ideas and never enough time............

Monday, 18 February 2008

What the well dressed small dog is wearing this season

So, as promised, here is a photograph, hot from the camera, of small dog showing off her natty new coat, courtesy of me almost setting fire to myself the other day.

I must say it fits her a treat, and for anyone who owns a small/medium sized dog, and a medium/large unwanted fleecy jumper, it's really easy to make. It's best to use a jumper or cardigan made from a material which is soft and stretchy and which won't fray.

Or go on fire.

Simply measure your dog from neck to tail, and cut the sleeve to that length. My jumper had a ribbed cuff, so as a result, small dog has a nice, snug-fitting polo neck. Measure from the neck to the top of the front leg and cut out a small hole. You will now need the cooperation of your dog, to allow you to slip the cuff end of the sleeve over its head, and gently pull one of its front paws through the hole, which at at this stage will almost certainly be too small. Ignore any growling and grumbling but be alert to the possibility of receiving a warning nip. The hole will certainly need to be enlarged and in doing so you should fine-tune the position, otherwise your dog will end up walking with (an admittedly comical), stiff-legged gait. You can use a fabric marker, or tailor's chalk to mark the fabric around your dog's shoulder while he/she is wearing the sleeve. Using pins is most definitely NOT a good idea.

Now remove the sleeve, again ignoring any complaints, and make the leg hole larger. To avoid an unseemly scuffle with your dog, who by now will probably be hiding out under the bed, fold the sleeve in half lengthways and mark the second leg hole. You will also have to tailor the underside end of the sleeve, so that calls of nature don't saturate the fabric. We have found that the best way is not to trim any length off the top of the sleeve, which should fit to just before the tail. Mark a smooth line from the tail, down the back leg, towards the of the dog, stopping under the belly, roughly amidships. This cutting line should be a smooth, fluid line.

It's all a bit of trial and error, but if you do make a complete dog's breakfast of it, you always have the other sleeve in reserve to get it right second time. Thereafter, once you have one sleeve which is a good fit, with the leg holes in exactly the right place, you can use it as a pattern for subsequent sleeves.

As your expertise with doggy sleeve couture increases, you can add in all sorts of useful and stylish refinements. For example if your dog really strongly objects to having the coat fitted over its head, you can cut the sleeve along the seam and stitch velcro fastenings in place for quick and easy closure. Look out for sleeves with arm pockets, which are useful for carrying poo bags, treats etc. Add reflective strips or 'go faster stripes' for nighttime safety. Sleeves of old cagoules make great waterpoof jackets, and come in a range of eye-watering bright colours, making your dog easy to spot in long grass or undergrowth. If you have a really small dog, stitch a handle to the top of the coat so you can quickly sweep it up out of harm's way if necessary.

Small dog is particularly partial to supersoft microfleece sleeve coats, and if they have a logo on the arm, so much the better. She's building quite a wardrobe of these recycled coats which draw flattering compliments whenever she's out and about, and which she laps up.
So, as well as giving your dog a warm glow, you will have one too, as you will be doing your bit for recycling and saving the planet.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Spontaneous combustion............

To the casual observer, there may not appear to be much about dollmaking which signals high risk.

How wrong can you be?

Leaving aside the more obvious hazard of potter's lung, from long term exposure to floating particles of silica from porcelain slip and greenware, there are other, equally dangerous perils.

For example
  • Cuts from surgical scalpel blades
  • Lead poisoning from china paints
  • Major burns from the ceramic kiln or super-hot porcelain pieces
Over the course of the many years I've been porcelain dollmaking, I've had my share of injuries in the workplace, mostly self-inflicted I have to admit. However, I had never actually set fire to myself.

Until last week.

Like many craftspeople who do very close work, I use a magnifying lamp. Mine is clamped to my work desk, can swivel through 360 degrees, and is infinitely adjustable every which way.
When I don't need it, I swing it around of my way, without a second thought.

Until last week.

It was a wonderfully sunny day. Cold and crisp. A real harbinger of spring. I have my work desk right next to the window to garner the maximum amount of natural light, especially while I am china painting.

Painting completed, I swung the lamp around and behind me, and carried on with my work.

After a few minutes I felt a sharp nip on my shoulder. I didn't think much of it, and carried on. A few more minutes and another, sharper tingle, which I rubbed for a second and dismissed. So engrossed was I with what I was doing that over the course of the next half hour, while the nipping and tingling continued, I put it down to some of my normal MS symptoms, which often feel like electric shocks.

As the sun moved position, these nips were becoming more insistent, and I suddenly realised that I might have a bee, wasp or spider inside my fleecy jumper...trapped and probably very annoyed. The nips were now feeling like bad stings.

Debating whether or not to remove the fleece and give it a thorough stamping on, I happened to glance over my shoulder, to see a thin plume of smoke rising. I was on fire! Or rather my jumper was.

Sudden panic, flailing around, trying to simultaneously extinguish the smoke and remove the jumper.

Calm was eventually restored, and examination of the whole of the back of the shoulder and sleeve of the jumper revealed a lace-like tracery of burn holes. Some only a few mm, others much, much larger. The material had burned and melted onto my skin, accounting for the stinging, tingling pain, which stopped as soon as I moved.

Of course, the potentially devastating conflagration was caused by the sun shining through the lens of my magnifying lamp, and forming a tiny spot of concentrated sunlight on my back. I dread to think of the consequences if I hadn't been personally involved, and had gone out of the room for an hour or so. Would the whole house have gone up in smoke?

I now make sure that the lamp is firmly tucked away from the window and I've made a little bag cover for the lens 'just in case'.

You know what they say about 'million to one' chances............. they are probably an absolute certainty!

Incidentally, the devastated jumper has been put to good use. We cut off the undamaged sleeve and made a cosy little coat for small dog. If I ask her really nicely, and manage to catch her between naps, she just might pose for a photo tomorrow.

Take care!

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Stand and deliver.............

It's a sobering thought to realise that I haven't actually exhibited at a fair since June 2006.

Since then we have thoroughly dismantled and cannibalised the various shelving units, display racks, etc which we used to display our dolls and kits on a 6 foot stand, which means we have to build one all over again. The normal UK fair stand space constitutes a wooden table 6 feet long by 2 feet 6 inches wide. Over the previous 18 or so years I'd been exhibiting at fairs, I had gradually developed a modular design to display my wares, trying to fit as much as possible into this relatively small space.

For Miniatura, I am downsizing a fair bit, and having a 4 foot stand, which will still give me plenty of space to display my tiny vintage toy dolls and playthings..........the smallest baby doll is just 1" and the largest toy doll is 1 3/4" so lack of space is not an issue.

However, displaying very small items to best advantage is a challenge, and we are completely redesigning and building our display area from scratch.

The spring Miniatura this year is the 50th show, so it is the Golden Anniversary. This neatly avoids major decisions on colour. We are going with black and gold. Classy or what?

Lighting is another major decision. Tiny wee items need to be illuminated properly but long experience has shown that simply clamping two spotlights at either side of the stand is not the answer. Firstly the lights get very hot.......they are on for up to 8 hours. Secondly, if they are not angled absolutely perfectly they tend to dazzle either me, or my customers, so I'm forever having to switch them on and off.

Then there's the problem of where to put all the paraphernalia....... notebook, cashbox, receipt book, calculator, bubble wrap, sellotape, paper bags, boxes, leaflets etc etc etc. Not to mention all the requirements for spending a full day behind the stand........flask of tea/coffee, cold drinks, lunch, snacks, hand wipes, tissues, something to read during slow patches. Then there's the comfort angle........a cushion to sit on (the chairs are usually hard plastic and very uncomfortable), and a bit of something warm and cushioned to stand on (being on your feet on a cold, hard floor all day can be quite painful. Layers of clothing.....large exhibition halls are either blistering hot and airless or freezing cold with kamekazi draughts.

So all in all, the forethought and preparations for doing a fair can rival the logistical planning for the D-Day landings.

However I have started my packing list. Or to be more precise my packing LISTS. There are rather a lot of them and worryingly, I keep adding to them. But Birmingham is way to far away to be able to pop home for something I've forgotten so I'm opting for a belt and braces approach to fair planning and packing.............

Friday, 15 February 2008

A question of scale...........

1/12th scale is a godsend to the mathematically challenged.

What could be simpler than 1 inch = 1 foot?

Even a mathematical doofus like me can work out that a table which measures 6 feet in 'real life' should measure 6 inches in the dollshouse world.

Even 1/24th (or half inch scale as our transatlantic cousins call it) isn't beyond my numerical capacity. That 6 foot table would be 3 inches in 1/24th.

Things get a bit more hit and miss as we move down to 1/48th, 1/144th and the exceptionally scary 1/900th, which I would imagine even Stephen Hawking having a hard time with.

I tend to stay in the realms of 1/12th and 1/24th, with only occasional forays into 1/144th. To protect my sanity (what remains of it) I have invested in a little scale ruler, which is invaluable for those tricky measurements, like something and 3/16ths, or something and 17/32ths.

You still with me?

So, today I had to downsize a pattern which was designed to fit a 4 1/2" child, and scale it down to fit a 1 3/4" child.

Now I don't want to receive a barrage of emails telling me how to do it, or what the answer is.

Nobody likes a smart ass.

Especially not now I've spent a large proportion of the day alternately scratching my head, actively searching for the displacement goblins (where are they when you need them?) and trying to do complicated sums involving division of fractions.

At one point (am I am genuinely ashamed to admit this) I actually Googled:

"how to scale down 4 1/2" to 1 3/4"

closely followed by an almost infinite number of variations on an increasingly desperate theme.
If you've been using Google today and have wondered why it was running at a glacial speed (ie very, very slow........) then that's probably down to me. The giant cyberbrain that is Google has been doing very complicated calculations of Einsteinian proportions, so no wonder that it hasn't had time to respond to requests for information on 'normal' stuff.

Eventually I gave up on Google. Shortly after it produced this enigmatic result.

As I said before, I'm no mathematician, but even I know that's not the right answer.

So I finally tried some lateral thinking. Using a scaled down pattern which I knew was correct, and by a long and laborious process of trial and error I repeatedly scanned and rescanned the original until I had a perfect fit.

It all took ages, crashed the computer twice, plus the scanner mechanism overheated and switched itself off to sulk and cool down. However, I did finally manage to solve the problem. I have no idea how to do it again , and I am far too exhausted and demoralised to do anything useful with it, but for the moment the answer is 45%.

Exhibit B.........

Now this demonstrates exactly what I mean about displacement goblins.

I sat down at my computer 46 minutes ago to continue work on the latest Tower House Dolls newsletter, which should have gone out at the beginning of this month and is already woefully late.

However, my resistance to displacement must be dangerously low, as I have spent 28 of those 46 minutes adding a natty little gadget onto my blog.

You can probably see it, over on the left, at the top.

Got it?

Good isn't it?

What do you mean "what does it do?"

It shows the location of visitors to the blog.

On a map.

Or it will when it starts working.

Or when I get visitors other than myself.


Deadlines v displacement

I am quite simply one of those people who MUST have deadlines.

Without a deadline I will just drift along aimlessly, bouncing from one distraction to the next, achieving very little, safe in the knowledge that I don't actually have to have anything completed by a specific point in time.

With a deadline I can be completely focussed. Head down, shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone, beavering away oblivious to everything except the task in hand.


However the displacement goblins are never far away. And they must be guarded against at all costs.

They lurk in the kitchen, and congregate in small groups by the kettle. If I pop through to make a cup of tea, fully intending to return with it to my work table, they will casually direct my gaze through the window into the garden, and I can spend a full 10 minutes watching the woodpecker 'anting' on the lawn.

They wait in ambush when the post is delivered, luring me to open and peruse even the junk mail which I know I should simply throw in the bin unopened.

I think small dog might possibly be in league with them, as when she emerges from a nap and slithers goosestepping and stretching into the workroom, I know that I will have to break off from whatever I am doing and greet her warmly as in

"Oh, you're up then? Had a good nap?"

There will then follow any one of a number of scenarios initiated by small dog, surely at the instigation of the displacement goblins .

Such as (here you have to imagine that you have direct access to small dog's thoughts)

"Aha, I have found a piece of antique silk under the desk. I will quietly retrieve it and trot purposefully out of the room, gaining speed as I go and flattening my ears so that she will know I am carrying something that I shouldn't. I will not glance back or pay any heed to her calls but will run straight up the stairs and hide round the bend till she comes to find me and disengage it from my jaws"

Personally, I don't believe for one minute that small dog would do this without being put up to it by the displacement goblins, who seem to have a strange and unnatural influence over her.

However, by far the most devious and successful of these goblins definitely live in my computer. These sneaky and duplicitous creatures are to be avoided at all costs.

For example, let's say I decide to take a 5 minute break from work to check emails.
No problemo.
5 minutes max.

Naturally, the goblins take this as a challenge, but conscious that I am wary of their wiles, they initially lie low.

I check emails.
Reply/delete as required.
Check watch...... 4.75 minutes HAH!

Close email program and turn to leave, exultant at my success and imagining their disappointment at having failed to engage me.

However just as I'm standing up to leave I notice a small flashing icon at the bottom of the screen. A watched eBay item is finishing soon.

I should point out here that of all the displacement goblins, the eBay goblins are the very, VERY worst. They are the ubermeisters of the goblin displacement fraternity (yes they are all male)
I know I should ignore it and just walk away. If I was really interested in the item in question I'd have placed a bid by now, and having already checked my 'watched items' list this morning I know that there's nothing ending today which I really need or want.


I sit down again and click on the icon............and so I have lost.


Anything up to several hours if I'm really unlucky.

And don't even get me started on the Blog Goblins!

So for those of you who don't believe me...........

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Exhibit A..........

Small dog has taken exceptional exception to certain remarks in my last post, concerning her need for abundant naps.

She feels that this is a gross misrepresentation of her daytime habits, and a slur......... nay, foul calumny on her hitherto unblemished character.

She has expressed her displeasure by sneaking into the workroom and making off with a piece of leather, which has subsequently been discovered halfway up the stairs.

I'm hopeful that I can cut out the most slimy bits, but the delicate tracery of small dog's teeth marks render a large part of the leather unusable.

No matter.

However, in the face of such a barrage of condemnation of my completely innocent comments, I feel that it is only fair to put the case for my defence, ie that small dog does indeed indulge in many, many periods of what can only be described as indiscriminate dog napping.

I therefore present Exhibit A

I rest my case m'lud.

Six weeks and counting............

Yet again the metaphorical dust has been steadily accumulating on my blog.

Just as the real dust has been accumulating on my toyshop.

However I can most definitely plead mitigating circumstances to explain my abject neglect of my project.

Just a few days after my last posting, I was informed that I've been accepted to exhibit at Miniatura. Cue wild whoops of delight and congratulatory hugs all round, rapidly followed by an eerie silence which settled like a lead balloon as the enormity of the task in hand sunk in.

The Spring Miniatura takes place at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, on 29th and 30th March.......THIS YEAR! Which leaves me a mere 6 weeks from now to make enough stock, redesign and build a new exhibition stand, and carry out all the inumerable tasks associated with doing a major fair.

I am sure it will work out fine, but we've been putting in 7 day weeks, 10-12 hour days since the beginning of January, and the pace is gradually gaining momentum. At this rate I can envisage sleeping under the table for most of the fair. I wonder if I could train small dog to supervise the stand while I have the odd nap. After all she seems completely incapable of surviving on less than 5 naps per hour so I'm sure she'd understand.

Anyhoo, to better illustrate my current state of mind and body....................

Captures just the right edge of surreal and manic desperation which I feel at the moment.