Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Too much of a good thing......?

We emerged, blinking, from our Christmas cocoon this morning and back to some semblance of normality. Or at least as normal as the Twixmas period is likely to get.

Gorgeous Daughter did manage to get here on Christmas Eve after all.  As did the rest of the family on Christmas Day.  We had a lovely time.  Nobody got (too) drunk, there weren't any arguments and we're still all talking to each other. We've eaten our own bodyweight in turkey, beef and ham and drank rather more than is probably good for us.

Now, in the aftermath, the house looks like a bomb has hit it, and escaping to the relative tranquil calm of the workroom is most definitely on my agenda this afternoon.

The friendly countdown timer on my laptop informs me that there are only 49 days till the Thame Fair, which I am absolutely determined to get to, come hell or high water, following the KDF debacle.  Of course the (only) upside of not being able to get to Kensington is that we don't need to bust a gut re-stocking, which is good.  So I can get on with some of the new projects on my list, which is also good.

At this point, right at at the end of the year, and on the brink of New Year, it's traditional to review the past 12 months, and reflect on all the ups and downs.  On a personal and professional level, 2010 has had rather more downs than ups.  I had intended to do so many things and successfully complete stage one of my Grand Plan.  However I have no one to blame but myself for the lack of progress in several crucial areas.  

I'm not going to make any New Year Resolutions for 2011.......that's just setting myself up for failure from the off.  But I know that I do need to do some things differently.  I still might not get the results I want, but at least I'll not get them for different reasons.

Right, that's enough introspection.  I'm off into the workroom to do something creative for a change.

I may be some time...........

Friday, 24 December 2010

Season of goodwill to all Small Dogs........

Found this heartwarming story during a quick bout of displacement activity before returning to the fray.

Off to Tesco shortly for the nth time for yet another Christmas essential we've forgotten during the previous x times.

*sigh*

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

StressStressStress...........

Say what you like, Christmas has become an incredibly stressful experience.

When I was a child I revelled in the whole Christmas experience.  Born in the late 50's in a Scottish backwater, my early Christmasses were universally magical, from my first doll's house, all the way through to my first Dansette record player when I was in my very early teens.  I believed in Santa Claus until I was 12 and somehow managed to weave the whole Baby Jesus thing successfully into the Christmas story.  I well remember putting two and two together re Wise Men + Gold/Frankincense / Myrhh = PRESENTS.

As an adult, Christmasses were rather less magical until I had my children, and then I suddenly rediscovered just how wonderful they could be.  My children were born in the early/mid 80s, and even then, there was a naivete about Christmas which was delightful.

Nowadays, I deplore the inexorable slide into rank commercialism.  Shops are full of 'XMAS' even before Halloween.  There is HUGE pressure to provide the perfect Christmas and women are in the front line of everyone's expectations.

If I have to listen to another celebrity chef telling me how to cook the 'perfect' sprout, or make the 'perfect' stuffing, or 'perfectly crispy' roast potatoes I swear I will run amok with a cranberry/vodka jus.

Even as I write, I can hear Gordon Ramsay banging on about making truffles.

FFS.

Our little bit of the South East is forecast more snow tomorrow (up to 5 cm) and yet more on Christmas Eve.  My daughter is currently in deepest, darkest north-east Essex, and it's touch and go whether she will be able to get here.  

I'm torn because although I want her with me for Christmas (we haven't missed a Christmas Eve together in 28 years) I also want her to be safe, and not driving in dreadful conditions.
Add into the mix the fact that she's caught some dreadful lurgy from her boyfriend and you can understand why I want her safe, AND warm, and not stressed about having to get here if she can't.

See......!!!

Universal stress.

The Christmas Story.......

....... through the eyes of a child.

HERE

God bless us every one........

Paws for thought.............

We had to be up at stupid o'clock this morning to take Small Dog to the vet.  She has developed a limp and we think it is due to her claws, one of which was starting to curl under, almost touching her pad.

As she is such a nightmare having her claws clipped, we were advised to have it done under a light sedation, to avoid stressing her too much.  So we handed her over to the veterinary nurse very early this morning, and watched as she was literally dragged away, looking fearfully over her shoulder at us all the while.

It didn't take long.  She was given an injection which put her into a light sleep, then after the procedure another injection reversed the first, to wake her up.

Poor wee soul.

She's very, VERY subdued and is currently lying on her duvet by the radiator after a light breakfast of strangled eggs.  She hasn't come to either us to sit on our laps, or even been on squirrel watch, so I think she must still be feeling a bit woozy.

She's not the only one.  I'm traumatised too.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Falalala fa la la la.............

Thanks to an unseasonal thaw, we successfully managed to negotiate our ice road of death and get to the Tesco Superstore for a few last minute bits and pieces for Christmas.

B I G mistake.

As the lift doors opened onto the shop, the scene resembled nothing so much as Dante's 7th Circle of Hell.  

Honestly, if the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse had ridden roughshod through the store nobody would have batted an eyelid, so great was the chaos already ensuing.

It took 4 hours to do our 'minor' shop.

FOUR HOURS!

I suspect that with the continuing forecast for more snow/freezing temperatures/ice etc, everyone who has been snowbound since last Friday and was only able to get out today, are hedging their bets and getting their whole Christmas shop a few days early just in case.

There was a proper rugby scrum round the fresh parsnips and sprouts display, which took up a major section of the fruit and veg area with people madly shovelling hundreds of sprouts into large bags.

The fresh turkey section was a circle of hell all on its own.  I saw one woman wrestling not one, but two massive turkeys, the size of a small ostriches into her trolley, while her husband looked on dead-eyed.

There was not a soupcon of goose fat in the entire shop, although I head a rumour that there might be some next to the lard, which caused a minor stampede to no avail.  

I blame Delia/Jamie/Gordon/Nigella/Hugh/Heston et al for the fact that at Christmas we all suddenly lose the ability to trust to our own judgement on things we've been cooking for years, like sprouts,roast potatoes and parsnips.  It's just not good enough to use beef dripping, it has to be poncy goose fat.  And the parsnips have to be roasted with whole garlic cloves and rosemary then drizzled with honey. 

As if it isn't already hard enough synchronising a full Christmas dinner WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS.

Don't even get me started on pigs in blankets.

Or cranberry and hazelnut stuffing.

Or carrot and parsnip mash.

The BEST thing about Christmas Day is that first glass of Buck's Fizz with breakfast.  I try to maintain a level of light intoxication throughout the morning, taking care not to peak too early and ending up in the foetal position under the table before the turkey is carved.

However, after Christmas Dinner all bets are off and it's every woman for herself.   

If I sound like a grumpy old woman it's because I am.

Christmas....?


Bah humbug and buggrit.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Nape of the neck..........

PP and I have both had haircuts today. 

I was beginning to look like the Wild Woman of Borneo so a trim was long overdue.  

PP, amongst her myriad other talents, is a trained hairdresser, and she has passed "The Knowledge" onto me.


Or at least one very small part of it.


I can only do one haircut, (hers) but I've been doing it for nigh-on 10 years now so I'm getting passably good at it.  I bet you think that cutting hair is a piece of cake.  I can assure you it's not.


It's damnably difficult.


You have to think about angles, and grades, and getting it looking the same on both sides.

And NOT saying "whoops!" at critical moments.


All the while conducting a very certain kind of conversation, which usually runs along the lines of.....


"Beenonholiday? Goingonholiday? Doinganythinginterestingthis weekend? Ohright. Right. Noreally?  
WelllikemeandWayne/Duane/Shane likewentuptownon Saturdayandhadalikea totally BRILLIANT night. 
Ohyoushouldsotryit. It'slikereallyBRILLIANT. 
I'llhandyouovertoKyleewho'sgoingtolikeblowdryyou. Cupofteaorcoffee?Magazine?


If you have to have this done in a 'salon' you then have to get home really, really quickly hoping you don't run into anyone you know, and wash your hair immediately at least twice to get rid of the tons of 'products' applied to ensure that nothing short of a nuclear blast will move a hair out of place.


Admittedly I don't do any of the banter as I have to concentrate very, very hard on not cutting off too much, or too little, or getting the angles all wrong, and getting the nape of the neck just so.


It takes a lot out of me.  And gives me a lot of respect for the art of haircutting.







No snow day...........

Even though we are still snowed in, making today, technically, a snow day, I am finding it hard to justify yet another day's displacement activity.

We had several online orders come in over the weekend, possibly due to the fact that everyone else was indulging in displacement activity too.  So I need to get them packaged, despite the fact that short of walking the three miles to our nearest Post Office (and back) there is zero possibility of getting them out today.  We had no postal delivery on Saturday, or today, so I'm guessing that sorting offices are packed to bursting point anyway.

I've been tinkering with some new ideas for 2011 projects, and now would be a good time to start.  I've even been toying (no pun intended) with the thought of doing a batch of casting........

Not to mention the fact that the Diminutive Dolls website could really do with a good tidy up.  

And a new slide show on the home page.

And all the new kits listed........

So there is no shortage of stuff to do if I could just drum up the energy and enthusiasm.

*yawn*





 

I take it all back............

D'you remember that film with Tom Hanks where he's a FedEx employee stranded on a desert island after his plane crashes.....?

There's a tagline which runs through the film to the effect that FedEx always delivers, or some such.

Well I am now prepared to believe it.  

I was just about to check online the whereabouts of my postal package which has been on a global journey over the last week and was last logged languishing at Stansted, when a large FedEx van slowly pulled up outside, having successfully negotiated the road formerly known as Robsack Avenue, now known as Sheer Sheet of Ice.

The delivery driver gingerly climbed down onto the shimmering ice, and seconds later the doorbell rang and lo, my parcel was delivered.

As I was signing the electronic do-dah I commented that he was a brave man, making the attempt on a vertiginous icy wall of death in a large van.  He smiled ruefully, and admitted that if he'd known at the bottom of the hill that it was quite so bad he might not have driven up.  He also confided that instead of trying to struggle on up the hill to turn at the top (it's a cul-de-sac) he was going to try to reverse into the adjacent turning and hoped he wouldn't meet anything on the way down.

Aside from the FedEx delivery van I haven't seen any other vehicles driving up or down the road, so it looks like another day's incarceration for us.  The pavement is similarly iced up, and PP had already fallen over and has developed a startlingly vivid bright purple and deep navy blue bruise, the size of a dinner plate on her derriere. So I'm inclined not to risk it.

Prodigal Son, who has been up in London for the past week, is due back today.  Just hope he doesn't expect to be picked up from the station.  Similarly, Gorgeous Daughter, who is currently in the wilds of Essex, is expected here for Christmas Eve but in view of the current conditions and the forecast, might not be able to get here.

A bit like her present.

*sigh*

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Global tracking system.........

Had a lovely, long, luxurious lie-in this morning, safe in the knowledge that there wouldn't be any postal delivery up our road unless the PO are issuing posties with crampons.

I was thus reassured that I wouldn't have to stumble downstairs in baggy striped pyjamas, ancient moth-eaten dressing gown and hair all sticking up in peaks and horns.

All of the slush from yesterday has frozen solid into razor-sharp ruts and as I write it is snowing.

Again.

*sigh*

I've been tracking the progress of some of my Christmas presents using the Fedex "How Lost Is Your Parcel?" facility.

 

As you can see, it took a mere 2 days to travel from Schenzen Province in China, to Stansted Airport, via Paris.  Not bad going I think you'll agree..... being whisked thousands of miles from pillar to post in record time. 

However it is now languishing at the 'destination sort facility - Stansted' where it may possibly wait for several days before being loaded onto the Express Delivery horse and cart, ready for its 8 day journey to deepest, darkest East Sussex.

I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, what imbecile orders stuff from China just 10 days before Christmas?

The imbecile that thinks, as she is ordering from a UK website, here in the UK, with everything in English and £ pounds and NO MENTION AT ALL that the items in question will be sent from Schenzen Province, via Guangzhou, via Paris, that 10 days is a perfectly reasonable period of time in which to receive aforementioned order.

What is it?

Well....... *lowers voice to barely audible whisper* I have to be circumspect, as PP just might read this, but it's a working model of a Chinese lion.


With fur and everything.


It roars and runs around the room, possibly causing mayhem and giving Small Dog a fit of the vapours but hey.......it's Christmas, and I know that PP will just LOVE it.


It even works off the mains, which will be a great saving on the cost of the 38 large batteries required if it is to be used outdoors.


Anyway, it will more than likely arrive in time for Easter, and our first planned outing in the caravan.  It's sure to attract attention on the campsite......


Speaking of global tracking systems, I'm fairly sure I've blogged THIS before, but they've updated their website with all manner of (jingle) bells and whistles.


You would think, in these times of heightened security levels and the constant threat of terrorism, that NORAD would have better things to do than track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve but there you go.


I love the way they put a big 'We Are HERE!" star on the map so that Al-Qaeda can more accurately pinpoint their location while they've got all their resources taken up with tracking Santa.


The website is an absolute mine of fascinating information.  


For example:


"NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets."

Fighter jets?!!!!

"The fourth system is made up of fighter jets. Canadian NORAD fighter pilots flying the CF-18 intercept and welcome Santa to North America. In the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15 or the F-16 get the thrill of flying alongside Santa and his famous reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph."

As if the old boy doesn't have enough trouble with run-of-the-mill commercial air traffic.......

 

Yes, you've guessed it.  

It's Displacement Activity Sunday.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

End of days.........

It's just approaching midday, and so far today we have had the following:

  • Snow flurries
  • Great big, huge, enormous snowflakes
  • Snow showers
  • Freezing rain
  • Thunder and lightning
  • Hail
It's as black as Newgate's knocker outside and all we need is the plague of frogs/locusts etc to complete the apocalyptic weather scenario.

There are currently horizontal sheets of snow/hail/freezing rain........I think that the God of Weather (his name is Barry) has completely lost the plot and is throwing everything he has at us.


No matter.  We are safe, warm and cosy, and displacement activity rules.









I can keep this up all day you know.........

And there's a lot more where these come from..........

OK people.  Here's the deal.

For the second time this month, the road outside our house is an icy wall of death.  We've had snowflakes the size of saucers this morning and as I write the sky is almost black with tons of snow.

Our little car is still parked at the bottom of the hill, and having watched a few cars struggle up the road, mostly sideways, it will stay there for the duration.

I am rapidly losing hope that any of my carefully chosen Christmas presents, ordered online weeks ago now, will arrive in time.  I'd been planning to do all my present wrapping today but there is parlous little to wrap.


Buggrit.

Thankfully, due to our shopping expedition yesterday we are both drought and famine resistant, at least for the next few days so we're going to dig in, snuggle down, and enjoy the snowpocalypse unfolding from the cosy warmth of the sofa.

I'm also going to recklessly indulge in no end of displacement activity so you have been warned.  I found these earlier....especially love the little piggy.

I so need to get out more......

 






Friday, 17 December 2010

I don't believe it....AGAIN!.

PP and I set off this afternoon to post some orders and do a food shop.  When we left home we had clear blue skies and although it was very, very cold, the roads were safe and clear.

We duly did our errands, and after stopping off at Tesco for our weekly shop, set off for home, a mere mile away.  While we were in Tesco it had snowed.  Admitedly not much, but the freezing road surfaces and snow combined to form a sheet of ice on all but the main roads.

We live at the top of a hill.  

Quite a steep hill.  It is never gritted, or salted by the local council.

So although traffic on the main road was moving freely, if much more slowly than usual, we turned off the main road into Robsack Avenue fairly confident that we would be home in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

Oh no, by no nonny no.

We took three runs at the first bit of the hill, just before the bend and had absolutely no traction on the solid iceA chap coming down the hill in a big 4x4 wound down his window and advised us that we would be best to park down at the local shop (the famed WunStopp) as the hill was akin to a 45degree skating rink.

We took his advice and gingerly slid backwards down the small amount of hill we managed had to climb and parked up.  Lots of other people were having the same problem and the car which pulled in behind us had also tried to get up the hill and failed.  The family involved lived even further up the hill than we do and were also resigned to plodding up the ice face on foot.

Had I mentioned we'd been shopping.  We had 5 of those great big resuable Tesco bags, each filled to bursting.  Knowing that if we didn't carry them all in the one hit we would have to make two trips rather spurred us to at least try to transport them all at once.

Big mistake.

We got to the bottom of the hill but it swiftly became apparent that we just couldn't carry everything all at once.  We remembled nothing as much as two old crones from a Grimm's fairy tale, carrying bundles of wood through the snow-covered forest.

Up a hill.

Thankfully, the family from the top of the hill took pity on us, and offered to carry two of the heaviest bags.  Had we truly been in a fairy tale, when we got home we would have thrown off our manky old cloaks to reveal us in all our glittering splendour, and offered our saviours at least three really, really good wishes.  

As it was, all we could do was lean heavily against the campervan, gasping for breath and mumbling our profuse thanks.

We have just about recovered from our ordeal.  Although more snow is forecast for tonight/tomorrow with arctic/Siberian temperatures for the duration.

Might just do some serious nesting tomorrow............

Christmas displacement activity - part II......

Christmas displacement activity..........

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Inspiration strikes and disaster narrowly averted......

When we were in Eastbourne for our 'works do' last Friday, I bought a lovely book on antique dolls from one of the town's myriad charity shops for the princely sum of £1.25.  I'd only given it a cursory flick-through in the shop, and since then it's been languishing in my backpack, still in its carrier bag.  I suddenly remembered it last night, unearthed it and took it to bed for a leisurely read.

I get lots of inspiration from vintage doll books and this one is no exception, with page after page of wonderful photographs from the author's private collection.  However what really caught my eye was a whole chapter on automata, a subject with which I've long been fascinated.  In fact I've been toying with (no pun intended) the idea of making some prototypes, and only the other day worked up some sketches of a simple mechanism which I plan to hand over to PP (Perfectionist Partner), who will be able to transform the idea from a hasty doodle into a working reality if anyone can.

Of course, as is the way of things, one idea spawns another.

And another.

And another.

Until I have perhaps a dozen different variations on a theme which I hope I'll be able to develop over the next few months.

I do love to have a project to work on.

It's not as if I don't have umpteem others all clamouring for my attention but I seem to work best in the eye of the creative storm.

So today I will be doing some interweb research on the type of automata I'm considering which hopefully will turn up all manner of interesting and useful information.

Great stuff...........

In any case, I really needed something cheering at bedtime last night, due to Small Dog almost giving both PP and I simultaneous heart attacks. 

The little minx.

Each evening before bed, she has to do the rounds of 'her' garden, checking the perimeter for squirrel incursions, conducting a thorough 'stop and sniff' search, followed by a bit of barking for good measure.

Initially, last night was no exception.  PP let her out at the appointed hour and seconds later we could hear her barking, so assumed all was well in her doggy world.  It had been raining, so we thought that she would come back in fairly quickly, as she hates getting wet.  So after a few minutes I called her.  


No response.


This is not unusual.  I reasoned that she had probably found a particularly interesting smell, or was taking her time over her ablutions.


A very short while later PP called her.


Again no response.


After perhaps 10 or 15 minutes we were getting a tad annoyed, as she'd been out digging earlier in the day and come back in covered in mud.  So we assumed that she was continuing her excavations, which would inevitably result in her second shower of the day.


Both of us tried again to call her in.  


Not only no response..... there was no sign of her.  So we scoured the garden by torchlight, calling her all the while.


Nothing.


We couldn't see or hear her anywhere.


Whoosh!  Immediate huge surge of adrenaline at the realisation that she wasn't in our 'escape-proof- garden.  And as we both stood in the drizzling rain, frantically looking around, we could hear the distant sound of an animal in distress.


Our garden backs onto ancient woodland which positively teems with nature red in tooth and claw.  We are often woken to the sounds of small furry animals being torn apart by larger furry animals..... their screams gradually tailing off....


My thought was that Small Dog had been taken by a fox and somehow carried off over the fence, and the distressed yelps from the woods were her cries for help as she was torn limb from limb.  


By then we were in full panic mode, wide-eyed and breathless.  We decided on one last trawl of both the house and garden, in case she had snuck in unobserved.  PP went through the house like a whirlwind while I stumbled around the garden, searching under hedges, even trying to see behind the shed in case she'd got herself stuck.


Minutes later we reconvened on the patio, the words "Have you found her?" simultaneously echoing in the damp and dark.  There was going to be nothing else for it.  By this time we were both convinced that she was in the woods in mortal danger and we would have to try to find her.  We hurried indoors to find boots, jackets, more torches etc, leaving the kitchen door wide open.  As we jostled to find all the equipment we thought we might need.....wire cutters, mallet, torch batteries etc, PP suddenly exclaimed "Oh my god........look".


There, shivering on the door mat, one paw raised in supplication, was Small Dog.  She wouldn't move to come in and just stood there, trembling, on three legs, looking up at us.  Despite the fact that relief was flooding through me, I had a sudden dread thought in my mind that she would prove to be horribly injured, and that when we picked her up there would be a gaping wound in her side or that some part of her would be missing.


PP scooped her up and quickly checked her over.  Aside from being a bit muddy she seemed to be OK, although a bit shaken and subdued.  After a quick shower and being snuggled in a warm towel she seemed to pick up a bit..... enough to be able to force down a few dog biscuits anyway.





So we'll be keeping a close eye on her today when she goes out, to see where she goes and what she does.

She seems to be none the worse for her (mis)adventure this morning...... here  she is having her mid-morning nap.  Unlike PP and I who are still having palpitations........



Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Christmas Dog.......

...... just wanted to wish all her blog friends a Very Merry Christmas.

Her excitement levels are gradually rising, especially as a few presents have appeared under the tree, which she has been giving a good sniffing.  Small Dog is very keen on presents and no sooner have the words "Oh look! What you got?" escaped our lips than she falls upon her presents and sets about ripping off the wrapping paper in record time.

However her own presents are put into her stocking, which hangs out of her reach, for obvious reasons.  

Until Christmas morning.

Only 10 more sleeps........

Monday, 13 December 2010

Oh no it isn't...............

Phew.......... full on weekend of lots of activities so I'm flagging a bit this morning.

Friday was our annual 'works do' which involved an afternoon's mooching around in Eastbourne, a seaview hotel room on the promenade, lovely meal out with friends then first night at the pantomime, which was Cinderella, and excellent cross-dressing, thigh-slapping fun for all ages.  It's the first time I've been to a pantomime in years and I thoroughly enjoyed it.... one of the more bearable festive traditions in my opinion.

Back home on Saturday and Day 1 of the marathon 'house decorating session'.  PP had to wrestle several boxes of decorations down out of the garage loft, and the tree out of the very back of the most inaccessible shed.  I then spent 4 hours transforming the sitting room into a veritable wonderland of twinkly lights and Christmas cheer.


And very festive and cosy it looks too.

Yesterday was Day 2 and the task of tackling the staircase, which is now festooned with green garlands threaded through the banisters, plus little white lights.

Lots of them.


Today I plan to tackle the dining room, which is where we've 'temporarily' stored all the stuff out of the campervan, which is now for sale.  Quite where all the 'stuff' is going to go for the time being is uncertain, but as we have to have the dining room serviceable over the Christmas period I will have to find somewhere.


Strangely, the workroom is quite tidy for a change and it's tempting to shove all the campervan stuff in there for the duration, but I'm loath to do that because last night, unable to sleep, I had some great ideas for new miniature toys which I'd really like to try out.


As I can still remember them this morning they must qualify for at least a smidgen of research and development to see if they're viable.  So I'm going to try to keep the workroom as a workable space over the coming few weeks.


Which only leaves the third bedroom, into which I would be lucky to squeeze a wafer-thin mint but I'll give it a go.


Oh no you won't!  

Oh yes I will.......... *repeat refrain until either exhausted or felled from behind with a blunt instrument*





Thursday, 9 December 2010

Belated birthday greetings.........



In all the kerfuffle around Snowmageddon, I completely forgot to wish my blog a happy 4th birthday on 4 December.

It hardly seems like I've been writing this nonsense shimmering prose for four whole years but there you go. 


Doesn't time fly when you're enjoying yourself?


In other news, PP and I are having our annual Christmas 'works do' tomorrow, which should be fun, although it is currently all strictly 'hush hush'.  


In other, other news, despite having a late start with my Christmas shopping I've been quietly doing some online shopping and am now much more pleased with my efforts than I was a week ago.  Of course I am now subject to the vagaries of the Christmas postal chaos, which has been exacerbated by the continuing atrocious weather over most of the UK but at least I don't have to do battle in countless endless queues in shops.


So, just 15 days till Christmas.  Depending on how you look at it, that's either loads of time, or no time at all.  I'm currently ricocheting between the two, either panicking or supremely laid-back.  It would be good at some point to reach some sort of equilibrium.


Our plans for Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/Boxing Day have been in a constant state of flux.  At one point last week we were anticipating having 7 people for Christmas dinner.  That has since been changed to just 3 of us on Christmas Day, then 6 on Boxing Day.  Just as well we haven't bought a massive turkey!

*sigh*



Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Back to reality..........

All that now remains of last week's 'snowpocalypse' are a few blackened heaps of snow which have so far defied the melting process.

And life is returning to some semblance of normality again.  I managed to get most of our sale orders out today and we even completed a successful food shop, although there are still noticeable gaps on some shelves in our local Tesco, and sizeable queues outside at the petrol station.

However we can now turn our attention to our Christmas preparations, and I might even gird my loins to decorate the house this weekend. 

Now.

Call me an old traditionalist fuddy-duddy, but for me, there is only one Christmas colour theme.

I loathe and despise the year-on-year 'must have' themes such as black and silver, teal, bronze, purple etc.

As any fule kno, the ONLY true and proper Christmas colours are:

Red.

Gold.

Green.

End of.

Each year PP and I buy ourselves a decoration for the tree.  Back in the day, this tradition was supposed to represent 'our year' and we thought each one would remind us of stuff. 

Naturally, we can't remember the relevance of any of our joint tree decorations.  Nevertheless we insist upon holding to these age old rituals, and today we jointly chose our 2010 tree decoration.

I really liked a gold bell-shaped decoration which shimmered with rainbow colours.

But apparently it was too big.

I also liked a gold star. 


Ditto.

PP, because of her complete inability to make a decision if presented with more than two choices, was undecided.

If I point out that there was an entire wall of tree decorations from which to choose, you can see our predicament.

Eventually we decided on a little carved wooden horse, with a bell.

The fact that it was only 75p was neither here nor there. It looked cute so there you go.


At least this year we are spared the agony of going shopping for a Christmas tree as last year we bought a very realistic-looking artificial one.


I've never been entirely happy with the idea of little, living trees being cut down for Christmas.  And don't even talk to me about the so-called rooted versions.  I've been there, done that..... religiously watered and fed them all through the Christmas period, carefully transplanted them into the garden on Twelfth Night, only to find them dead and bare by Easter at the very latest.


Buying a cut tree is just as traumatic.  A few years ago we went to a local Christmas tree plantation where serried ranks of trees in various sizes were lined up against a wall like condemned prisoners.  


I always end up feeling sorry for the lopsided, stunted ones, in strange deformed shapes, with bare branches on one side.  My reasoning is that no-one will chose it, and it will be thrown on a funeral pyre for Christmas trees nobody wants.  It's whole life will have been for nothing.


So I have to choose it, and when I get it home, have to try to make it look like a festive tree, despite the fact that no matter which way I turn it, it looks horrendous.  Then on day one, when it starts shedding needles and looking even more sickly than before, I have to overcompensate by adding more decorations to the completely denuded branches.


By Twelfth Night it looks like a skeletal  vaguely tree-like apparition.  All the millions of needles have either gone up the hoover and blocked the filters, or they are sticking into my feet. 

Or both.


So, by dint of going 'artfully artificial',  as well as saving the planet *cough* I am also saving a tree from being cruelly cut down.  


My house decorating takes the best part of a whole day.  The sitting room is tastefully decorated with the tree, and the fireplace has a festive swag of greenery and white fairy lights.  

I do, however, draw the line at tinsel.

The staircase banisters are carefully entwined with garlands of fir, pine cones and holly, and lit with white fairy lights.


The dining room is made resplendent with red and gold table settings, twinkling white fairy lights,  Gothic candelabras.......

It all takes time, and effort.  


And wine.


And Christmas music.


Both of which keep me going during the marathon decorating session.  Not to mention Small Dog, who at the sight of her very own Christmas stocking emerging from the decorations box, goes into an ecstasy of anticipation and delight.


I have all of this scheduled for Saturday.





Sunday, 5 December 2010

In the words of the song.......

 "Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again......."

Despite the massive disappointment of having to miss KDF yesterday *stifled sob* I'm trying to look on the bright side.

*tumbleweed rolls past*

Yes.

Well.

*clears throat*

Errm

*gazes out of window at SNOW FREE scene*

Ah yes.  Of course.  

How silly of me.

The snow and ice have all gone. Apart from a few smallish mounds which on Friday were shovelled snowdrifts piled 5 feet high.

*sigh*

It's difficult to believe that we had well over a foot of snow less than 48 hours ago.  Even the magnificently gnarled 4 foot long icicle which was hanging from our gutter has disappearedIf I didn't know better I would think that the whole episode was some dreadful nightmare.

Oh well..... worse things happen at sea.

Apparently.

So today I going to put it all behind me and BE POSITIVE.

Thanks to our *SALE* (which doesn't end till midnight tomorrow!) we have some lovely orders to package.  And thanks to the thaw they can start going out tomorrow. 

Yay!

Also our next big fair (The Thame Doll's House & Miniatures Fair - Saturday 19 February 2011) won't be so stressful as we won't need to start from scratch rebuilding our stock.

Double yay!

Which gives me time and space to work on neglected projects and do some serious research and development on some of the ideas in my notebook.


Multiple yay!


See...... things are looking up already.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Too little, too late...........

The snow here is finally starting to thaw, although the ice is so thick on our road it will take ages to melt.  Residents who've been snowed in for the past 3 days have been attempting to get their cars out and are skidding all over the place.

However, temperatures have struggled above zero for the first time in what feels like ages, and there is the real possibility that we might be able to get out in the car tomorrow, if the thaw continues.

I can only imagine what our local Tesco Extra superstore is like today.... assuming they've been able to restock.  The little corner shop at the bottom of the hill has had no bread, milk or fresh foods of any description since Wednesday when the snow closed in.

Our hill seems to have defeated the postman for the fourth day running.  Still, look on the bright side.

No bills.

I'm really, REALLY fed up today.  I should be at KDF enjoying the fruits of our months of hard work.  The only upside I can see is that we don't have to contend with a nightmare journey home this evening.  

And that really isn't much consolation at all.

However, our Christmas Special Offer Sale is currently live and will end at midnight on 6 December so do feel free to have a browse. 

Friday, 3 December 2010

D'you want the good news or the bad news.......?

The bad news is we have decided that we won't be exhibiting at the Kensington Christmas Festival tomorrow.   We're still snowed in at the top of our hill and although the main roads are mostly passable we simply can't get from home to a main road.... short of bodily lifting the car and carrying it.  

Similarly the southeast rail network is still in complete disarray, and even if the trains were running we still have the problem of getting to the station which would involve trekking on foot to the nearest point where a taxi could reach us, carrying all our stock.

Both options are clearly unfeasible.

To add to the problem, temperatures today haven't risen above freezing and are forecast to get down to minus 8 overnight, with snow and sleet falling onto already frozen surfaces.  So driving conditions when we would have to set off at 6am tomorrow morning will be atrocious.

We have endlessly debated and deliberated and have finally decided that it would be far too risky to even attempt the journey.  Worst case scenario we could be stranded in the middle of nowhere, or involved in an accident.  So although we are bitterly disappointed, after months of work, to have to pull out, we just can't see how we can possibly do it without risking life and limb.

Heartfelt apologies to all our customers who were hoping to see us at the fair.  If you were hoping to collect orders from us, we will post them out as soon as we are able to reach civilisation, hopefully early next week. 

And the good news.........?

Well, we've been working really hard today listing all of our KDF stock onto the Diminutive Dolls website.  There are dozens of special offers scattered throughout the store, with lots of new miniatures in most categories and for this weekend only there are some wonderful bargains to be had. 


In addition, we will offer the following extras for orders placed on the Diminutive Dolls website.....

  • Orders over £50 (excluding shipping/P+P) will qualify for a beautiful little toy crib kit worth £6.00 absolutely FREE!
  • Orders over £75 (excluding shipping/P+P) can choose between one of our new toy marotte kits worth £10 or the beautiful little toy crib kit.
  • Orders over £125 (excluding shipping/P+P) will qualify for BOTH free gifts (crib kit AND marotte kit) worth a total of £16.
The Christmas special offer prices are valid from now till midnight on 6th December.  Thereafter everything on the site will revert to the full list price.

There are also lots of Christmas Special Offers on our sister website Tower House Dolls with reduced prices on porcelain doll kits, dressed dolls, fabrics and trimmings, wigs, hats and lots of miscellaneous miniatures - some up to half price!
We are happy to combine postage for orders placed on both sites for the duration of the Christmas special offer!  Simply order on both sites as normal and we will refund one lot of postage.

So you can all now see the result of our creative endeavour over the past few months.

We can't take our display to KDF, but we can bring our KDF display to you instead.

So it's not all bad news then........




Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snowed-in in St. Leonards......

We had a foot of snow overnight, on top of the 6 inches from yesterday, and it is still snowing.







Our car is a vaguely car-shaped hump under a snowdrift on the road.  Even if we could dig it out, we live at the top of a very steep hill, which currently resembles nothing so much as a slope of frozen death.  Even 4x4 cars, which were managing yesterday, aren't able to get up and down our road this morning so there is absolutely no hope for our little Matiz.

Small Dog gave the back garden a firm paw's down and elected to complete her morning ablutions on the patio.  This is probably just as well, as had she ventured out from under the gazebo, she would have completely disappeared under the snow.

Talking of the gazebo, it was groaning under the weight of accumulated snow, which PP had to knock off with a broom handle from underneath, allowing masses of snow to fall to the ground with a huge thud.

And it's cold.

Really, really cold.

So no hope of a thaw in the immediate future.

Prodigal Son has been unable to get to work but was persuaded to make the hike down to the shop where he did battle with other beleaguered residents for the last loaf of bread and bottle of milk.  You may remember a similar odyssey from the other major 'snow event' early this year.

Thankfully he won and returned triumphant like a prehistoric hunter-gatherer so we have toast and tea with milk for breakfast.

Yay!

However, in these current conditions our prospects of getting to KDF on Saturday are slim to non-existent.

 Temperatures won't struggle above freezing till well into the weekend and yet more snow is forecast between now and then.  Even if we are able to get out of our road and onto a main road at 6am on Saturday morning, it would be touch and go that we would be able to safely get to London, as we have to drive through some of the worst hit areas of Kent, uphill all the way.  It's a nightmare journey at the best of times, and this most certainly isn't the best of times.

Buggrit......

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Small Dog's Advent........

Remember when you were little, on the first of December you were given an Advent Calendar?

Back in the day, (I'm talking early 1960s) my Advent Calendars were strictly two-dimensional and covered in glitter.  All the doors, when opened, showed prettily coloured Christmas-themed religious scenes.... shepherds, Kings, angels, stables, gold, frankincense, myrhh.... then on Christmas Eve, a double door behind which was the nativity scene.

No chocolate


No sweets

No Simpsons/Barbie/My Little Pony/Transformers etc


Unlike today, when the rampant commercialisation of Christmas can yield just about anything on/in an Advent Calendar.

Which is why Small Dog received this......

 Now, in our defence, we have to say it wasn't our idea.  Artistic Daughter saw it and couldn't resist.

Which is why this was the scene this morning......










That's a 'mmmmmmmnnmmm' face if ever I saw one.

We now have another 23 days of Small Dog's high expectations.

*sigh*

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Hypothermia beckons.......

It's cold.

Really really cold.

Teeth-chatteringly, bone-rattlingly, freezing cold.

I just cannot get warm.  Despite having my vest tucked into my knickers, plus 4 layers of thermal clothing, plus two fleecy blankets I feel chilled to the marrow.

I strongly suspect I'm coming down with something.  My eyes hurt, my skin hurts, my head hurts.  

I'm basically all hurty.

This is not good.  Especially as I should be working flat out for KDF next Saturday and normally at this point in the run up to a fair I should be putting in 14 hour days and generally panicking like a panicking thing.  However I simply can't summon up the energy to panic so at the moment I'm fairly sanguine.

Feeling like death warmed up... but sanguine. 

Not to worry though........ the entire thing may be taken completely out of my hands by the incipient blizzards forecast to blanket the UK and bring civilisation as we know it, to an abrupt end.

The good people of St. Leonards are certainly taking warnings of the looming apocalypse seriously.  Likewise, in anticipation of the potential for being snowed in at the top of our hill and due to having no food in the house, we were forced to visit Tesco this morning, where I dragged myself around the store, trying to remain vertical while all the time wishing I could just lie down under the shelves and block out the light and noise.  I've rarely seen the store so busy, unless you count the few days right before Christmas when the prospect of having the shop shut for a whole 24 hours, makes people feel the need to panic buy.  On our way in we encountered hordes of shoppers, herding trolleys piled high with store cupboard essentials.


In my mildly hallucinatory state, the combination of hyper-crazed screaming children, ultra-bright lighting, end-to-end frenzied tannoy announcements for all checkout operators to go to the tills and the cut and thrust of trolley jousting in the packed aisles, I began to feel as if I had been catapulted onto the set of a Tim Burton film, probably in the role of the Corpse Bride, which I inadvisedly watched this afternoon.  


Don't get me wrong, I greatly admire Burton's films but if you are already barely functioning and in a spacey, dreamlike state they're a bit scary and the line between fantasy and reality starts to blur.  Nevertheless I'm toying with the idea of watching Sweeney Todd later so think on.  My grasp of the line between fantasy and reality is tenuous at the best of times so I'm determined to push the boundaries and see where I end up.


Bravado or what...

Edit - Small Dog is currently sitting so close to the fire that I swear I can smell the delicate aroma of singeing Yorkie.