Saturday, 24 December 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.......

So, all of our house guests have now arrived and we've done the obligatory trip to Tesco to get all the last minute forgotten bits of shopping, just in case the bulging fridge, overflow cool boxes and groaning dresser in the dining room didn't provide enough sustenance.

I am fairly confident that we will be drought and famine resistant during the 24 hour period the shops are shut.

All the presents are wrapped and under the tree and I'm just about to get into relaxation mode with a glass of something festive.

So it only remains to wish all my faithful blog readers a very merry Christmas holiday.

What passes for normal service will be resumed after the festivities.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Oh no no no no no no no no no no no.......

My lovely daughter and I share the same peculiar sense of humour.

So I make no apologies for this, which I was introduced to yesterday.  

Apparently it is the cat's reaction to meeting a small child for the first time.

Go figure.......

Going over the top.........

The title of this post doesn't refer to anything immoderately extravagant.


It owes more to WWI trench warfare.

Having managed to do most of my Christmas shopping online, the remaining 10% required a hands on attitude, which necessitate us going into town and braving the hordes.

As predicted, Hastings was heaving.  The area around the festive ice rink was 6 deep with children desperate to risk life and limb by donning skates and gripping onto a safety penguin before being launched out onto the icy wastes.

It wasn't much better in any of the shops, as we were swept along in the melee, occasionally surfacing momentarily for air, before being submerged in a sea of harrassed looking women bearing armfuls of carrier bags filled to overflowing.

A few bemused-looking men stood helplessly at the perfumery counters, eyes out on stalks at the price of Chanel No. 5 and doubtless wondering if they could get away with a small bottle of Yardley's Lavender Water instead.

As is traditional at Christmas, I had to run the gauntlet of the annual panic attack in the pound shop, which resembled nothing so much as Dante's seventh circle of hell, with queues right round the shop and legions of screaming children throwing their umpteenth tantrum.

Four hours just flew by* and we were then able to stagger back to the car and come home.

So with just two days to go before the family converge for Christmas it just remains to do the main food and wine shop, enough of both to last 6 people for three days...... 

Oh, and the present wrapping.

And the house cleaning.

And the bed changing.

Ho ho ho.......

*insert heavy irony here

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas Competition.....

I've just posted a competition over on the Miniature Christmas blog!

Deadline for entries is 24 December..... good luck!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Apocalyptic weather........

Down here on the south coast we've been relentlessly buffeted by gale force winds.  A house just along the road in Bexhill had its roof blown off last night and there were times when I feared for ours.

Aside from the gales we had a thunderstorm today, just to add to the whole 'end of the world' scenario.

The weather is set to get even worse towards the weekend and being on the top of a hill I worry that we might wake up in Kansas.

See what I did there....?

Anyhoo, Christmas preparations are proceeding at a snail's pace.  Cards have been bought but not written.  House has been half decorated.  Present shopping has ground to a halt.  Every year I pledge that I will arrive at Christmas Eve thoroughly prepared and serene.

Yeah right.

We have finally managed to pin down the various family members and they're all going to be here for the duration.  Usually we have a combination of any number of them coming and going at various times from Christmas Eve till Boxing Day.

So we have three days of meals for 6+ to plan and prepare for, and as usual we're debating whether or not to have turkey on Christmas Day. 

Is anyone else suffering from pre-Christmas stress?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Just in time for Christmas..........

CDHM has been having a bit of a makeover so getting into the spirit of the thing I've revamped my gallery and listed a few little toy dolls at very special prices, just in time for Christmas.

So if you're considering self-gifting this Christmas, you can view my CDHM gallery HERE.



Friday, 9 December 2011

Redressing the balance.....

This blog is often accused of being completely dog-centric.  While there may be some justification in that, in my defence, there is also the odd squirrel, guinea pig or other motley rodents.

However, perhaps it is time to redress the balance and present something for all you cat lovers out there.

Whoever you may be.......

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Countdown to Christmas........

After a final push to get all the outstanding commission orders completed this week, then packaged and posted out this afternoon, I feel as though I can finally start to get into the Christmas spirit.  

I have designated Saturday as house decorating day, which necessitates getting into the loft tomorrow and doing battle with the legion of enourmous spiders who guard the Christmas decorations.

Once all the boxes are down, I'll be all set to transform the sitting room, hallway and dining room with all their festive finery.  When it comes to Christmas, I'm firmly in the traditional red, gold and green camp, disdaining whichever current fad dictates this year's colours and absolutely NO tinsel, glitter or lametta.  

This year turquoise and purple must be the 'must have' shades, if the selection in Tesco is anything to go by.  Each year, we buy a special decoration to add to the tree, and it was a struggle sourcing one today which was both traditional and in my chosen colour.  However, I did manage to find one so all is well. 

So, I'm going to make a start tomorrow by cleaning and tidying downstairs in preparation for decorating on Saturday.  If I'm really lucky there will be some old films showing on TV on Saturday afternoon which I can watch while I'm doing the tree.

Sounds like a plan........

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Ay Carumba.......

Surfacing today after several days of full-on nose to the grindstone.  

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Miniature Christmas Fayre over the weekend.  The last of the orders will be packaged today then I have to tackle the unholy mess that is the workroom.  

There are boxes everywhere, drifts of tissue paper, bubble wrap, and all the associated paraphernalia of order packaging.  Not to mention all the stuff related to our two online sessions, which were a useful test of the technology.  We had 'visitors' from as far afield as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and the US, most of whom got to meet Small Dog in person!

Speaking of Small Dog, the rest of her dressing is now off, revealing her stitches in all their gory glory.  I will forbear posting photos just in case anyone has an over-sensitive gag reflex.

I'm also aware that Christmas is inching inexorably closer.... houses up our road are sprouting illuminated reindeer on their front lawns, flashing icicles hanging from their roofs and 8 foot Christmas trees in their sitting rooms.  

So far we have one, lone card performing the function of Christmas decorations.  I can't quite muster the energy or enthusiasm to drag all the boxes of stuff down from the loft but I suppose I'll have to do it before the weekend.  When I was a child (and even when my children were little) we used to put up the decorations ONE WEEK before Christmas Day.  

These days it's not unusual to see domestic decorations in situ in November, which rather takes the shine off it as far as I'm concerned.

Better go and get on before I come over all Bah Humbug.......

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The trouble with young people today........

As I edge closer to old age *cough* I find myself, against my better judgement, becoming ever more reactionary and curmudgeonly.

Which is why I was delighted to discover THIS WEBSITE.

I suspect that good ol' Don Mills may not be as old as he purports, but what the hell.  He writes a damn good blog.

Christmas Fayre.... last chance!

Our website is rather like Cinderella today..... on the stroke of midnight tonight all of the special-priced miniatures will revert to full price!

If you are tempted to treat yourself, or a mini-loving friend, remember that orders over £50 will qualify for a £5 gift voucher which you can use against future orders.

Also today, at 4.30 pm GMT, Small Dog and I will be online in our virtual classroom to answer any questions you might have and let you have a closer look at our range of miniature toys and dolls.

To join us simply FOLLOW THIS LINK at 4.30 (the session will not open until that time!)
Make sure your speakers are switched on otherwise you won't be able to hear me.  If you have a microphone you will be able to talk to me directly, if not, don't worry, you will be able to type your questions or comments in the live chat box.  This session is scheduled to last for one hour but you can pop in for just a few minutes if you like.

Hope to see you there......

Friday, 2 December 2011

Tower House Dolls Christmas Fayre.....

Please join us this coming weekend for a touch of Christmas cheer.

No need to worry about the weather, travel delays, parking chaos or braving the crowds.  Just settle down in front of your computer with a comforting mug of hot chocolate, or glass of warm mulled wine and do your mini shopping from home.
From midnight tonight till midnight on Sunday (GMT) we will be hosting our very own   

Tower House Dolls Christmas Fayre!

Over the next two days there will be a range of one-off specials right across the website.

In addition, on both Saturday and Sunday you can join myself and Small Dog in the workroom, where we will have a live audio and video link so that you can see our miniature toys and dolls in detail and have a chat with us.

We will have two live video sessions as follows:

Saturday 3 December at 1pm GMT - Follow this link

Sunday 4 December at 4.30 GMT - Follow this link

There is a World Time Converter HERE for international visitors.  

We will be sending a £5.00 Christmas Gift Voucher to anyone who places an order to the value of £50 or more (excluding P&P).  

We do hope you can join us!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Just finished...........

Well, the online class has just finished, and despite a few minor technical hitches, actually went quite well.

Tonight I had students from Belgium and Germany, both of whom, fortunately, spoke excellent English.  I hope my Scottish accent didn't cause too many problems!

I have several ideas for how to develop and improve these online sessions for future workshops, but until I'd actually tried one for real, it was impossible to gauge how well (or otherwise!) it would work.

So, off to bed now with a welcome mug of hot chocolate and Small Dog to act as a hot water bottle.

Online workshop photos.....!

As I type the online workshop is running and here is a photo of Sonja's finished doll.

Sonja is in Belgium! action!

It's been a fairly frenetic few days.

Small Dog has regained her joie de vivre with a vengeance and is resolutely refusing to stick to the regime prescribed by the vet, ie no excessive exercise, no jumping, no running up or down stairs etc.  I'm assuming that her leg isn't causing her too much pain or she wouldn't be carrying on like an overwound clockwork toy.

In other news, December is just a few hours away and despite my best intentions I still haven't started my Christmas shopping.


In my defence, this is not entirely due to my woeful lack of organisation and planning, but also owes something to the fact that I've been rather pre-occupied with preparations for our first online workshop later today.  This has entailed exhaustive testing of my audio and video equipment, not to mention uploading information to the virtual classroom and generally making sure that I've done everything I can.

I have absolutely NO IDEA if the technology will work as it should, therefore my first students will be performing the role of guinea pigs.  I'm cautiously optimistic though, after my pre-class dress rehearsal earlier today, during which the sound and vision were exemplary, and the information displayed beautifully.

So, fingers crossed for later.....

If this initial class goes well, we will be offering a whole new programme of online classes starting in January.  I already have lots of ideas, but if there is anything you'd particularly like us to feature, do let me know and I'll see what I can do...... 

Monday, 28 November 2011

Work, work, work.........

With Small Dog on the mend, I can now turn my attention back to work, and have spent this morning catching up with all the unfinished stuff which built up last week.

Ordinarily, at this time, I'd be in major, free-fall panic about the Kensington Fair next weekend, but as I've decided not to exhibit this year I can relax.


Since we're not at KDF on Saturday we've decided to host a mini event from home instead and are busy planning a programme of hopefully interesting stuff which will take place over the weekend.  Further details will be along shortly, but I can promise you at least one impromptu appearance by our world famous business mascot.  

Yes Small Dog has been persuaded to put in a special guest appearance!

So I'd better get back to work..........  


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Things are looking up........

Small Dog had her first 'proper' walk since her op, along Bexhill seafront today.  She's only supposed to walk for up to 5 minutes intervals but she seemed to enjoy the bracing sea breeze in her fur, not to mention the attention from people who noticed her poorly leg.

She's been putting some weight on her bad leg today which is very good, after hobbling around on three legs since last Monday.  Her appetite is much better and she's very much more her normal perky self, which is great.

After 6 nights of disturbed sleep I'm looking forward to life returning to some semblance of normality which is just as well as I have a full-on working week in prospect.

Thank you to everyone who has sent Small Dog 'get well soon' wishes.... I've passed all of them on to her individually and she sends her own special thanks for thinking of her.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Plan C......

I've had my suspicions over the past three nights, but last night they were confirmed.

The airbed has a slow puncture.

Every now and then over the three days, we've 'topped it up' with the electric inflating thingy as it seemed a bit spongy.  Each morning we seemed to hover mere millimetres above the floor and there was an uncharacteristic and unseemly rush to be first up so that the remaining sleeper hit the floor with a thunk.

Even Small Dog, who was quite keen on the airbed during the day, disdained to lie on it in the mornings until it was fully inflated.

So after three increasingly uncomfortable nights we've thrown in the towel, deflated what remained of the air in the (mis-named) airbed and are back to square one.

Thankfully, Small Dog does seem to have rallied somewhat today.  She was particularly down and depressed yesterday and I feared her spirit was broken, which I'd hitherto believed to be indomitable.  She was hardly eating or drinking and refusing to go outside. But worst of all were the sad, accusing looks she kept giving us, over the top of her bad leg.

She seems to have regained the will to live today though and has even eaten her dinner, in which we had cunningly concealed her medication.  Granted, I had to hand-feed it to her, morsel by morsel, taking care not to wax too lyrical over the bits which had the pills secreted in them, but at least she has eaten.  

In other news, I have belatedly realised that Christmas is looming ever closer.  Aside from work-related festive preparations my personal preparations are still in the starting blocks.

I have done absolutely NOTHING.

No planning, no lists, no shopping.....


Perhaps I'll take a run at it this weekend........

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Plan B.........

After a mostly sleepless night on Monday, last night we hit on an alternative Plan B in an effort to maximise Small Dog's comfort and in the process hopefully ensuring a reasonable amount of sleep for all of us.

So, we unearthed the inflatable mattress we got on Freecycle years ago, and have never used, along with the rechargeable inflating thingy and decided to set up camp on the floor in the sitting room at least until Small Dog is less distressed and more mobile.

We did this once before, when she was just 6 months old and had been spayed.  We dragged a huge mattress downstairs for that particular escapade and spent three nights camping out in the sitting room while Small Dog convalesced.  All would have been well had we not been awake trying to comfort her in the small hours of the first morning, and turned on the TV.  Just about the only thing worth watching at 3.30am in those days was a shopping channel, and having just obtained Freeview we had never before seen anything like it.

We were completely entranced.

Entranced and mesmerised.

So completely mesmerised, that after 45 minutes of brain-washing watching an in-depth section featuring a steam cleaner, we decided that our lives simply wouldn't be worth living if we couldn't have one and phoned an order through on the spot.

In the few days before the steam cleaner arrived we daydreamed about just how clean the house would be.  Grimy tiles would be a thing of the past.  We could dispense with all the cleaning products cluttering up the cupboards under the sink and save hundreds of pounds.  Utilising only the power of steam we would have floors you could eat your dinner off, and kitchen surfaces more hygienic than most hospital operating theatres.

Those few idyllic days before it arrived were among the best of our lives.  We were living in blissful ignorance.

Within a few hours of its arrival we had indeed cleaned most of the hard surfaces in the house.  We gasped at how it cut through soap scum in the shower cubicle.  We thrilled to how quickly it dissolved dried on muck on the kitchen floor.  We laughed with joy to discover just how easily it dealt with baked residues in the oven and on the gas hob.

Yes, the house was beginning to resemble a Turkish bath courtesy of the gallons of vaporised water in the atmosphere but that was a small price to pay for such sparkling cleanliness due to the simple power of steam.

Hindsight being a wonderful thing, if only we'd stopped there.

If only we'd just called it a day and opened a celebratory bottle of wine to toast our success.

But no.

In a final, fatal flourish, we set about steam cleaning the front of the kitchen cupboard doors, which were a glossy white.  It started well enough, with no hint of the horror to come.  We'd done three of the wall units and were just about to start on the fourth when we happened to glance back at the first.  All over the door, the glossy coating which had hugged the curvy mouldings, had shrunk and either gone completely flat or all bubbly. 

We gawped open-mouthed in horror, as all the coating on all the other doors slowly started to melt and deform.  It didn't happen instantly, in which case we would only have ruined a small section.  Instead it happened slowly, several minutes after the initial application of the steam, so that by time we noticed what was happening we'd already destroyed the front of every wall unit door along one wall.


So rather than save a small fortune on cleaning products, we ended up spending more than a small fortune on a new kitchen.  Needless to say, the steam cleaner has been banished to the back of the understairs cupboard from that day to this.  I do sometimes consider getting it out to deep clean the bathroom, or the kitchen floor, but the memory of that day is so seared into my psyche that I can't even bear to look at it.

So, over the next night or two, while Small Dog is still immobilised, we are assiduously avoiding watching ANY of the shopping channels, just in case we get the red mist and order another completely inappropriate bit of useless kit.

Small Dog is still not quite herself.  She's not eating or drinking without a lot of persuasion, so getting her to take her medication is proving a challenge. However, she came with us to the Post Office earlier today, and on the way back we took a slight detour to a nice flat playing field, where she had a tentative slow walk (well not so much a walk as a hobble) for 5 minutes, as per the vet's instructions, before she went all wobbly and had to be carried.

She's currently all tucked up in front of the fire on the inflatable bed in the sitting room but here are some photos from earlier.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

1000th post......!!!

In all the trauma of Small Dog's surgery yesterday I completely overlooked the fact that yesterday I published my 1000th post!

I've been keeping an eye on the blog post count for the past week or so, and was hoping that the 1000th post would coincide with my blog's 5th birthday on December 4 but I couldn't just NOT post for a few weeks to engineer such a happenstance.

Every now and then I take a trip down memory lane and just click on a post at random from the past 5 years and more often than not I either hit upon a tale based on Small Dog's adventures, or more likely, a rant about how untidy the workroom is.  This recurring theme is a testament to complete inability to keep either of my desks tidy, or maintain any kind of organisational clarity in the workroom.

Indeed today, as I'm sleep deprived and feeling decidedly under the weather, the limit of my creative endeavour has been to tidy my desk in the workroom AND my desk in the 'office'.  I will restrain myself from posting any more 'before and after' images as regular readers of this drivel blog will be only too aware of just how messy they usually are.

However, just because I'm not going to reveal my own detritus, doesn't mean I can't 'out' other similarly afflicted persons, courtesy of a great cleaning company blog.

Here is just one example of a desk which reaches the pinnacle of messiness.

 And there are more HERE.

Thankfully, neither of my desks are EVER as bad as any of those.  So they're something to aspire to........

Oh, and before I forget, I will be having a joint 1000th post/5th blog birthday celebration on the weekend of 3/4 December so look out for details coming soon.

Night Nurse..............

As predicted, last night was not a restful one.

Small Dog started off OK, in her crate next to the bed, but as soon as the light was switched off she started whimpering.  After just a few minutes we put the light back on to see what was wrong, to find her staring through the bars of the crate with an expression which clearly said "Free the Robsack One".

So I gently settled her back down, gave her a few strokings, closed the crate door, got back into bed and switched the light out.

Whimper, whimper, whimper......

After several goes at trying to settle her, we finally had to relent and hit upon a plan which would guarantee at least one of us some sleep.

So we put her soft, squashy bed on top of the duvet in the middle of the bed, with pillows packed all around so that she couldn't abseil out.  PP then relocated to one of the spare bedrooms and I was left with Small Dog.

The rest of the night went something like this......

Me:  Ok, now settle down.... here, let me make this blanky into a pillow for you.  That better?

SD: thancs mum. Kan yoo just do sum stroakings on mi nek.

Me: Ok, for a little while.  I'm going to put the light out now so settle down to sleep.  I'm very , very tired.

SD:  (non-commitally) hm.  Doant forgett mi stroakings.

Light out, just drifting off to sleep.....small kerfuffle on middle of bed accompanied by squeaks and whimpers.

SD:  MUMMMMMMM!  mi badd legg is cott up in my blanky.  hellp mea!!!

Me:(groggily) Shhhhhhhh little one.  (gently disentangles leg from blanky)

SD: thancs mum.  moar stroakings pleez.

Similar scenarios are repeated at roughly 20 minute intervals throughout the remainder of the night......

As a result of these nocturnal shenanigans, this morning I look and feel like the Wreck of the Hesperus.  Similarly, Small Dog isn't too bright either.  She has refused to take her painkiller medication, despite it being wrapped in all manner of delishus treats.  Even dissolved in a small dish of milk, usually her favourite tipple, she disdained to drink, turning slowly away from it with a look of sad resignation.

She has to walk for 3 x 5 minute intervals today, but when we stand her up she just flops over as if she's convinced that none of her legs are working, instead of just the one.  We had some visitors this morning and instead of racing to the door to greet them, as she normally would, she lay in her basket, weakly wagging her tail.

Hopefully, as the effects of the anaesthetic continue to wear off today, she will feel a bit better.

*fingers crossed*

Monday, 21 November 2011

Poorly pup........

We just got Small Dog back and settled in her crate.  She sat on my lap in the car all the way home, trembling and shaking, making little whimpering noises in her throat.  She's asleep now and we're keeping a close eye on her to make sure she's ok.

She walked out of the vet's surgery, but is very wobbly and keeps falling over which is heart-wrenching to watch.  We have to administer super-strength painkillers for the next few days, as well as antibiotics for a week, but the good news is that all her stitches are dissolvable, so she won't have to go back to have them removed.

So we're on full-time nursing care for the next 24 hours then hopefully she'll look and feel a bit more like herself, rather than a  small, partially-shaved zombie. 

Thanks to everyone who has sent Small Dog 'Get Well Soon' messages. She will post a reply as soon as she's able.  In the meantime I'd better go and tuck her in with her blanky in case she gets a chill in her poorly leg....

V.E.T. Day.......

Up early this morning to take Small Dog to the specialist orthopaedic vet in Tenterden.  She was initially extremely enthusiastic, especially when she saw we were taking her carry basket, which usually heralds a camping trip.

Her enthusiasm waned though, when we reached the vet, and the realisation dawned that she was not camping after all.  Both she and a little beagle pup were scheduled for surgery today.  The beagle got under one of her owner's chairs and pressed herself as far back against the wall as possible.  Small Dog sat on PP's lap and trembled fit to bust.

She is probably undergoing the surgery as I write.  The vet explained that he will have to deepen the groove in her leg bone, relocate the kneecap, re-attach the ligament and secure it with a metal pin.  I made a cardinal error yesterday and looked online for information on luxating pattela surgery, which produced a barrage of horrific looking images of sorry-looking hounds, some of whom looked like canine Edward Scissorhands, they had so much metalwork in, on and around the leg.

We have to ring the surgery just after lunchtime to see how she's doing, then hopefully go and pick her up late afternoon/early evening.  In the meantime I have to try to keep myself gainfully occupied.  I suspect that any creative endeavour is probably beyond me, so I'm going to tackle the workroom and give it a thorough tidy up and clean.

Further medical bulletins will be posted later today.........

Friday, 18 November 2011

Countdown to Monday.........

I'm feeling just a tad trepidatious about this weekend as on Monday we will be taking Small Dog to a specialist orthopaedic vet with a view to her having surgery on her luxating patella.
We picked up her (very expensive) X-rays from our vet this morning and will take them with us on Monday...... depending on what the specialist vet decides, she may actually have her surgery on the day.

Apparently she will have to stay in a crate for up to 6 weeks, which she will HATE!  I'm not looking forward to any part of it either, especially Monday and the prospect of waiting to pick her up following her operation.

Poor wee mite.......

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Tempis fugit..........

So, here we are, halfway through November already.  Doesn't time fly?

I spent a large chunk of today doing battle with the toy shop lighting, the results of which can be seen over at my Miniature Christmas blog.

What I SHOULD have been doing was designing a new working marionette puppet, with strings and a proper wooden control thingy.  My first two prototypes were less than edifying but I'm determined to get it right and had a sort of 'Eureka' moment this morning, possibly prompted by Archimedes messing about in the puppet theatres.  I often find that the best way to unblock creative log-jams is to do something completely different, rather than bashing away at the problem indefinitely.

However, the whole lighting debacle took longer than I expected so I'm now debating whether to go back to my languishing marionette or call it a day and declare yardarm.

It's a tough call.


Monday, 14 November 2011

Is it Monday already.....?

It's a dreary, damp November day here on England's south coast.  Small Dog has disdained the offer of a run round the garden and is doing the only sensible thing on a morning like this..... curling up in her warm, comfortable bed with her blanky wrapped snugly around her.

Sadly I have no such option as I have to get down to some serious work involving a mini drill, soldering iron and teeny tiny electric sockets.

I've been called out by Albert Lowther, proprietor of the vintage toy shop, to see to his electrics, which have developed an intermittent fault.

I just hate intermittent faults.  They're a real bugger to deal with. Having failed to track down the source of the problem last week, I botched up a stop-gap solution.  Needless to say, Albert wasn't happy.

I don't blame him.

He not only still had an intermittent lighting fault, but his erstwhile 'electrical engineer' had engineered a temporary solution of  such mind-boggling stupidity that even Heath Robinson would have disowned it.

So today I have to do a complete and thorough inspection and testing of every single tape run and electrical socket in the entire shop. Which, if you remember is a very lot of testing.

Exhibit A - post from September 2007 demonstrating the scale of the problem.  It's my own fault for deciding to electrify every bay of every display unit, leading to a spaghetti tangle of wires and plugs on every floor.  Looking for an intermittent fault in that lot makes finding a needle in a haystack a piece of cake.

However, I have to sympathise with Mr Lowther.  Ever eager to embrace new technology, he was at the cutting edge when he had his ancient gas lamps replaced with new-fangled electric light bulbs and when fully lit his shop is a sight to behold.

Don't say anything to him but I strongly suspect that his pet rat Archimedes is not blameless.  He has a penchant for chewing through just about everything and if I find any evidence of ratty teethmarks on the wiring his fur will be on a slack nail. *

So here's hoping I don't electrocute myself, get second degree burns from the soldering iron, or set the shop on fire. 

I may be gone for some time.....

* Scottish expression -  yer jake-ett's ona slack nail  (your jacket is on a slack nail)
 English translation - You're about to get fired. (This means the hook your jacket is on is loose and your  jacket is about to fall to the floor. The phrase is just a metaphor...
Note: sometimes the word "shooglie" is used instead of slack.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Miscellaneous musings.....

As with most collectors, I don't stop at collecting just one thing.  Aside from my passion for all things miniature, I also collect vintage ephemera and delight in discovering illustrations and images, particularly those which relate to my interests in childhood and toys.
The interweb is a rich hunting ground for vintage images, and the other day I came across this, which has me completely intrigued....

As a child, I always liked to imagine the back story behind illustrations in my books, and would spend hours weaving a tale sometimes only tenuously connected to the one related to the original story.  So when I saw this picture, I just couldn't resist.

To the untutored eye, it's just a drawing of a dog riding a goat but on closer inspection there is SO MUCH more going on.  

For instance, why is the dog wearing a suit?  Surely he would have much more control without it, as is evidenced by the fact that he's already lost his hat, possibly in a bucking incident.  

Also, it's not just any old suit.

It's a particularly fine suit, with fitted breeches, lace trimmed shirt and cropped jacket. It's probably silk and the lace is almost certainly handmade.

So the dog is either very wealthy, or he has stolen the suit from a small child.  This latter hypothesis may explain why he is making his escape on the goat, which is possibly also stolen, compounding the felony.

I'm not entirely sure what sort of dog it is, but it's definitely a terrior.  Possibly only a terrior would be foolhardy enough to ride a goat bareback, disdaining the relative safety of saddle and stirrups. 

Certainly, the expression on the dog's face and the fact that you can just see the tip of his tongue sticking out, suggests extreme determination and concentration. 
He is obviously a confident rider, as is evidenced by the fact he's using string for reins, and keeping a very light hold on them.  If I were ever to ride a goat I'm sure I'd be gripping onto the reins for dear life.  I suspect that he's 'steering' the goat by use of his knees, which are firmly gripping the goat's sides.

In contrast to the relatively relaxed demeanour of the dog, the goat is most definitely not a willing participant.  Possibly buoyed by the fact that he's managed to dislodge the dog's fine feather hat, he's head down, desperately trying to unseat his rider.  I'd wager this goat has never been ridden before, although the presence of the halter may suggest otherwise. 

I'm slightly confused by the position of the hat on the ground.  The goat looks as if it's travelling at a fair speed which would mean that the hat would fly off backwards.  However the hat is to the side and slightly to the front which suggests that it fell off earlier and either the goat is running round in circles, or the dog has deliberately ridden back in order to retrieve the hat, possibly by leaning over and grabbing it his mouth as he passes.

I wouldn't put anything past that dog.

Also, note the position of the dog's tail.  You can tell a lot about a dog from its tail...especially if the dog in question is a terrior.

That is one relaxed tail..... moving in harmony with its owner.  However, its presence raises yet more questions.  For instance there must be an opening in the back of the breeches to allow it through.  So perhaps they were specially designed for the dog.  Also, while it may be possible for a well co-ordinated dog to wriggle into a pair of breeches, tucking its tail down one of the legs, it takes some precision to get a tail through a hole.  While I'll admit I'm in awe of the dog's multi-faceted ability, I'm not convinced he would be able to get dressed himself.

Which means he must have had an accomplice.  Presumably NOT the goat.

I feel that the answers are tantalisingly within reach but I'll have to give it much more thought.  Feel free to chip in with any thoughts you may have.

I would also like to point out that because I've been so busy lately, I haven't had time for any displacement activity whatsoever.....

No siree.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011


If you've been trying to order an Online Workshop Pack from the new website and have hit a problem during checkout, then I owe you a grovelling apology.

There I was, thinking I knew it all, merrily lah-di-dah adding a free shipping button to the listing without testing it thoroughly.  How was I to know I had to go into the bowels of the back end admin and 'enable' a whole load of other stuff?


You'd think I'd know better by now.

But no. 

So much for my high-falutin' "I'm-so-down-with-the-website-posse" ideas above my station.

That'll learn me.

So anyway, I have now correctly configured the sodding free shipping module so that you won't get confusing messages saying you're in the wrong zone.  And thank you to everyone who flagged up the problem.

I feel suitably chastened and will now go and consider my actions.........

Online Workshop.........

It's still early in November but thus far it's been a whirlwind of activity, with the unveiling of our brand new website, as well as my seasonal blog A Miniature Christmas.

But I'm not quite finished yet.

No by no nonny no.

There's even more!  I'm really quite excited about starting my new series of online miniature workshops later this month.

Some of you will be aware that I originally trained as a teacher, and until just a few years ago, I ran workshops at various venues in the south east of England, including miniaturist clubs/societies and a few prestigious fairs including Thame and the Kensington Dollshouse Festival as well as regular monthly one day workshops and longer courses from home.

Unfortunately, primarily due to limitations imposed by my MS, I had to cut right back on face-to-face teaching about 3 years ago, and I do miss it, especially the direct contact with enthusiastic students!

So, for the past few months, I've been working on the best way to manage a return to teaching, and I'm hopeful that I've found a solution which ticks all the boxes......

I now have access to a fully-featured virtual classroom, which is even better than the real thing.  For a start, as students, you don't have to go anywhere.... no travelling by car, bus or train, lugging boxes of tools and materials in all weathers.

Through the miracle of the interweb, you can sit in the comfort of your own home, cup of tea and chocolate biscuit in hand,( in your dressing gown, curlers and slippers if you wish and no-one will be any the wiser), and I can come to you.

The classroom is sound and video enabled (so I won't have the luxury of sitting in my pyjamas!) and has file-sharing, interactive whiteboard, live chat and many other exciting bells and whistles, including a full transcript of each session which can be emailed to students.

Clever stuff eh?

I have way too many ideas for interesting and unusual projects to offer as online workshops so it was difficult to decide which one to choose for the first trial session.  I wanted to offer something seasonal, not too complicated, but which would appeal to a wide range of miniature toy or microdoll collectors. 

So here it is.....a little Christmas tree fairy scaled to fit on the top of a 1/12th tree.  For full details or to order, click HERE.

 All of our online workshops will include the following:
  • Complete kit to create the featured project
  • 1 hour interactive online classroom session
  • Ongoing email support
  • Worldwide shipping
For this first session I have a limited number of places available and the class will be scheduled to suit students' location/time zones wherever possible.  If you need more information on any of the above please contact me and I'll do my best to help.

Oh, and as an added incentive, Small Dog has generously offered to put in a personal appearance during the session.

What more could you possibly want......?


Monday, 7 November 2011

Small Dog's travails......

Small Dog is not a happy bunny.

She had to go to the vet today for X-rays on her luxating patella, which has been troubling her more of late.  Whilst under sedation, she also had her claws trimmed, ears plucked and anal glands evacuated.


It was with some trepidation that after several hours we went back to collect her, and to discuss the results of her X-rays.  Unfortunately the joint has degenerated, and there are early signs of arthritis.  In addition, her 'kneecap' is permanently disjointed, which means she cannot straighten her back leg and is very probably in constant discomfort.  Initially, several months ago, her vet had recommended that we treat the problem conservatively, with anti-inflammatory medication and rest.  However it hasn't worked and she is now being referred to an orthopaedic specialist with a view to operating on the leg.

It's a big operation for such a little dog and we're loath to put her through it, but her mobility is becoming restricted and she is very likely in some pain much of the time.

She's still a bit woozy and currently curled up in her basket by the radiator, recovering from the trauma.

Poor wee scrap.......


Saturday, 5 November 2011

And there's more.......!

To coincide with the launch of our new website, we also want to announce the beginning of our seasonal Miniature Christmas blog which you can visit HERE.

Throughout November and December we aim to celebrate an old fashioned miniature Christmas with our online vintage advent calendar.

During November, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will have features, competitions, giveaways, how-to's and lots more!  Then from 1st December through till Christmas Eve there will be a new page every day with some wonderful festive surprises including exclusively designed miniature toys and dolls.

Oh, and just one other thing..... when you visit, do make sure that you click to follow A Miniature Christmas.  Becoming a follower is A Good Thing, as I will be offering a lovely giveaway to one lucky follower selected at random later this month.

Good luck!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Tah dah.........!

There is an old English proverb which would serve well as my epitaph.

"Better late than never"

Indeed, prevarication could be my middle name, along with 'What Deadline?' and 'You Want It When?!

However in this instance I can legitimately plead mitigating circumstances and in my defence I have to counter with "All Good Things Come To Those Who Wait".  

So, without further ado, I give you......

Yes, the new Tower House Dolls website is now live. 

It is still a work in progress but we'd be grateful for any feedback or suggestions for improvements.

Yet another announcement in the pipeline very soon.........


Friday, 28 October 2011

Clearance Sale.....!

 In preparation for moving Diminutive Dolls to its new home we've been busy having a glorious clear-out to make way for some exciting new miniature toys.

So from now till November 1st there are some wonderful special offers in every category on the website, with toys, dolls, games and playthings reduced by up to 50%!

Orders placed between now and Monday (November 1st) will be despatched from Tuesday 2 November onwards.
There are some unmissable bargains but they're already going quickly so don't delay if there's something you covet. 

More information about the new home of Diminutive Dolls, along with details of an exciting Christmas project will be announced next week.

Exciting times eh?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

End of Days.........

We had some apocalyptic weather here yesterday afternoon.

Namely this.....
Apparently it wandered along the seafront from Hastings to St. Leonards then made off towards Bexhill.  Now that's not something you see every day.

We also had a very sudden, dramatic thunderstorm, which seemed to appear from nowhere.  Sunny blue skies one minute, huge black thunderclouds the next.  Small Dog is not a great lover of thunder so she retreated under the blanket in her basket till the storm abated. 

Startling stuff.

In other news, Christmas catalogues are now forming the bulk of our daily postal delivery and while idly leafing through one of them at breakfast this morning I came across this....
Apparently it's written by a quantum physics expert (go figure) who adopted an extremely bright 'talking dog' who took to quantum theory like a quark to a gluon.  She (the dog) uses quantum tunnelling to get through the neighbour's fence to chase rabbits, and muses on the potential of quantum teleportation to catch squirrels before they climb out of reach.


Small Dog isn't the sharpest knife in the box (although she does have us extremely well trained to do her bidding with the merest tilt of her head or the application of Cold Wet Nose to any exposed skin surface) but she's the only other talking dog I know, so I thought I'd run a few theories past her to gauge her reaction.  

To paraphrase, she was fairly certain about Heisenbergz's Uncertainty Principle.  And by the time we got to  Schrödinger's Cat she was definitely on a roll, and all geared up to apply for a research grant to prove the theory that if you take a cat, and stick it in a box with a thing that will kill it 50% of the time, before you open the box, the cat is both alive and dead at the same time.

She is of the opinion that anything to do with putting cats in boxes, with things that might or might not kill them is a genius idea, and completely in line with her thoughts on quantum physics.

And there was me thinking that quantum physics was dull and incomprehensible.  If Small Dog can get a handle on it there may be hope for me yet.


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Website update...........

Work continues apace on the latest incarnation of the Tower House Dolls website.  The site was first registered in January 2000 and over the last 11 years has undergone many, many changes.

The first available archived version is from August 2000 when the site was in its infancy.  Since then it has evolved in an organic although not necessarily methodical way (version from July 2005 ).

Last year PP completely redesigned the site in its current form making it much easier to update and administer.  This also coincided with my decision to stop making  1/12th doll's house characters, which I'd been doing for over 20 years, and concentrate full-time on smaller scale toys and dolls for doll's house children. 

During the transition period we had two websites running simultaneously, one winding down the 1/12th dolls and kits, the other showcasing my miniature toys - Diminutive Dolls.  However now that we no longer need both sites, we will be dispensing with the more costly option and closing the Diminutive Dolls website when the hosting package comes up for renewal in a few months time.  

So, next week (fingers crossed) the new Tower House Dolls site will re-open with our new ranges of miniature toys, games and playthings, along with some exciting new events in the offing.

However in the meantime both PP and I still have LOTS to do to the new site so I'd better go and get on.

No interweb-based displacement activity for me today.

No siree.

No by no nonny no.......

Relative calm.........

Poorly Daughter arrived safely yesterday, looking pale and ghostly but having survived the rigours of what passes for rail travel these days.  She was duly installed on a 'little bed' on the sofa, with Small Dog in close attendance in order to hog the blanket and they both napped on and off throughout the afternoon.  

This morning she is looking much better and even has some colour back in her face which is a Good Thing.  She's planning on doing more nesting today, which is just what she needs after a particularly painful and stressful week.

So, in between nurturing duties I am cracking on with work on the new website, more of which anon.........

Monday, 24 October 2011

Monday, Monday.......

Well, the good news is that my daughter was eventually discharged from hospital yesterday and is currently making her way down here to stay for a few days while she recuperates.

I don't envy her the journey by train from Essex down to Hastings but I'll be at the station to meet her and the Healing Paw Dog is on standby, having fortified herself with some breakfast cereal and milk purloined from my bowl.

I also need to step up a gear or two this week if we have any realistic possibility of the new website being up and running on 1st November, which is only next Tuesday.  We keep discovering things which need to be tweaked, and of course, the temptation to keep tweaking until something breaks is ever present.

Incidentally, over at Diminutive Dolls, I've been having a clear out and over the course of this week, in many of the categories, there will be bargains galore with toys and dolls reduced by up to 30%.  I'm still working my way through the site but there are already some opportunities to snap up a toy doll or animal at unmissable prices.

Right, must get back to work in advance of nursing duties this afternoon.  The Healing Paw dog is already gearing up......


Saturday, 22 October 2011

Bad to worse..........

Just when you start to think that things are looking up and getting back on track, something unexpected will sneak up behind you and whack you over the head.

My lovely daughter, who had an appendectomy last weekend, was supposed to be coming down here today to complete her convalescence over the next few days, giving me the opportunity to do some hands-on nurturing, make dippy egg and soldiers, install the Healing Paw dog and generally do what mums always want to do whenever their children are poorly.

However, she has had to be re-admitted to hospital with post-surgery complications so she's stuck 150 miles away, back in limbo again, in pain, worried and completely stressed out.  She's been on and off 'nil by mouth' twice in the past 12 hours, is still having IV fluids and just waiting, waiting, waiting to be told what's going on.

Worst case scenario is that they may have damaged nerves to the lower bowel.  Blood tests have allegedly ruled out an infection, although apparently there could still be an abcess.  She was due to have a diagnostic scan first thing this morning but they've moved the goalposts and are now saying Monday.  

It seems that if you're going to be ill enough to need hospital treatment, make sure it's on a weekday (and preferably not a Friday) so that all the relevant staff are on hand to sort you out.  She had the same problem last weekend, with her 'emergency' surgery delayed for a day due to lack of staff/theatre slots etc.

Also, being in hospital is a stressful enough business at the best of times, but it's the total  inconsistency which is hard to bear.  Told one thing by one person, then a different thing by another.  Expecting to have one procedure imminently, then not being informed that the plan has changed.
I phoned the hospital myself this morning to try to find out what's happening (or to be more accurate what's NOT happening) and they seem to know about as much about her care plan as Small Dog does about simultaneous equations, which isn't much. 

So I'm just hovering by the phone, waiting for news, unable to concentrate on anything at all. I should be working on the website but that's not going to happen.  I might try and do some light dusting, or rearrange the bookshelves, or tidy up the workroom.  Something, anything just to try to keep the free-floating worry at bay.