Sunday, 30 December 2012

Ghost of Christmas Lost......

I seem to have mislaid most of the past week due to having been laid low with a lingering lurgy.

It started on the morning of Christmas Eve.... headache, sore throat, aches and pains, chills and sweats.  By the morning of Christmas Day my chest was tight, I was running a temperature and my hitherto husky voice became non-existent.  I have a vague recollection of the family arriving, and of trying to join in the festivities but my late afternoon I was flagging and crawled upstairs to bed.

I have no recollection at all of Boxing Day, which I spent in bed in a state of pyretic delirium which gave my few waking moments a nightmarish quality reminiscent of a Tim Burton film.

Naturally, it proved impossible to gain access to a doctor, it being Christmas and all, so while the chest infection made itself at home in my lungs, I subsisted on Paracetamol, Lucozade and Benylin and tried to wait it out.

The undisputed heroine of the hour is PP who single-handedly coped with a houseful of visitors, preparation of the Christmas dinner and all of the attendant brouhaha, while simultaneously tending to me in quarantine all this week.  She's been like the Christmas Fairy and Florence Nightingale rolled into one.

Small Dog also deserves honourable mention for rarely leaving my side, despite the constant lure of delicious treats downstairs.

By Friday, I was feeling no better, but PP finally managed to contact our GP who prescribed a mega dose of antibiotics..... better late than never.

It's now Sunday and I've lost the best part of a week.  I'm still feeling fairly rough, although this morning I managed to shower, albeit by sitting in the shower tray as I don't have the energy to stand.  I've also succeeded in making the arduous journey from the bed to the sofa downstairs, where I now sit, resplendent in mis-matched pyjamas and a moth-eaten old dressing gown, gasping and wheezing and hoping we don't get any visitors.

Aside from having missed the whole of Christmas and the Twixmas period, I'm feeling peeved at missing out on all the delicious food and drink.  Even my most favourite Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, bought especially for Christmas, tastes like wormwood.

On the plus side...... well, there is no plus side.  Unless you count the loss of 5 1/2 lbs.  I'm possibly the only person in the UK to have actually lost weight this week.

Even though we were nominally off work this week, I had looked forward to making progress on my little shop, and doing some traditional forward planning for the first half of 2013.  We had also planned to spend New Year with my daughter, who has just returned from holiday, but I'm not well enough to travel so that's out too.

I can draw some comfort from the fact that I'm on the road to recovery.  Except I have to take into account that my MS is waiting in the wings to administer what fellow MSers will recognise as (in technical terms) a good kicking.

MS doesn't like playing second fiddle and already it's re-asserting its place in the pecking order by knocking my balance and coordination for six, ratcheting up my pain levels and generally showing me who's boss for succumbing to a two-bit common or garden chest infection.  However, it's a toss-up as to which of them is responsible for my negative energy levels, upon which not even industrial quantities of Lucozade are making any impact.'s to 2013...... I can hardly wait. 

*sigh... cough, splutter, gasp, choke*



Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Bah Humbug.....

Despite having declared that nothing would entice me to go down into town in the week before Christmas we did do that thing today.

I don't know WHAT we were thinking.

I actually only had two things on my shopping list, one of which was Araldite Rapid.  Not very seasonal I know, but the balcony for La Mignonette is pure doing my head in and I'd run out.

The other thing on my list was a 2013 desk diary, and in a moment of madness I decided to see if I could get one in the pound shop.


I normally avoid pound shops like the plague, especially around Christmas, following an unforgettable panic attack in the pound shop in Eastbourne.  It was only the crush of bodies which held me vertical as I desperately struggled to reach the doorSince then I've had an understandable aversion to the places, and normally nothing can induce me to go in.  

However, the prospect of a new diary for just £1 held sway, although I peered cautiously through the windows first to assess the situation before committing myself.  Apart from a bank of around 20 tills it seemed reassuringly empty so I ventured inside.

The reason for its emptiness soon became apparent, as shelf after shelf revealed itself to be similarly empty.  Perhaps the denizens of Hastings have got wind of an impending Zombie Apocalypse and rushed to stock up on 'necessities'.  The seasonal aisle was particularly stripped out, with only a few desultory garlands of mangled tinsel rolling around the floor like festive tumbleweed.  There was nary a single plastic santa to be seen.

Happily, the fact that a 2013 desk diary is of questionable use in the aftermath of both the Mayan 'end of the world this Friday' prophesy, and the aforementioned Zombie Apocalypse, so I was presented with the full gamut of choice..... from kitten encrusted to fluorescent zig-zags.  After several minutes of rooting around I managed to unearth a plain electric blue version, which I carried aloft through the echoing aisles to the phalanx of tills occupying an entire corner of the store where I was able to select from any number of cashiers vying with each other to attract my eye. 

I can only assume that at some point in the recent past, every one of these tills had been going full pelt to cope with the hordes of shoppers.  So, well done to Poundland.  It was the only shop I entered today with no queue at all.  Granted, apart from diaries there wasn't much else to buy, but my entire diary-buying experience was exemplary and scores 10 out of 10.

Diary purchased, I waited to rendevous with PP by the seasonal ice rink, complete with snow machine and obligatory Slade/Wizzard/Mudd  Xmas compilation on a loop.

I'm not a skater myself, and not even the prospect of clinging onto a plastic support penguin would have encouraged me to venture out onto the ice.  However I spent an amusing 10 minutes or so watching people who should know better fall down repeatedly, with what sounded like bone-shattering results.  One teenage boy crashed spectacularly backwards at least half a dozen times, his skull breaking his fall on each occasion.  The people 'supervising' consisted of two young men who were obviously very proficient skaters but completely oblivious to the carnage occurring around them.  I was mostly amazed at how nobody seemed to be seriously hurt, but staggered good-naturedly upright after each fall to do it all over again. 

Our final stop was the pet department of ESK to try to find a new harness for Small Dog's Christmas present.  She's still wearing the rabbit harness she had when she was a puppy but it's been let out as far as it will go and it's definitely seen better days, so we want to get her a nice new adjustable padded one.  Sadly the smallest one we could find would have gone round her twice so we'll have to go to the pet superstore as we've left it too late to buy online.

I don't think she'll be very impressed with a new harness.  If her presents don't squeak, or she can't eat them, she's not that interested....

So, as you can see, I'm still some way from being awash with Christmas spirit.......

Monday, 17 December 2012

Casting conundrum..........

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may be aware that I've been bleating on about having to do a batch of casting for some considerable time.

A considerable time = since September.

I know this because we put the house on the market at the end of September and I haven't done any casting since then because it makes such a mess of the workroom for weeks on end and I just couldn't face the disruption of a major clean up in advance of viewings.

However I now have a window of around 2 weeks, during which it is extremely unlikely that even the most avid house-hunter will want to drag themselves away from the festivities in order to view properties, so I can be as messy in the workroom as I want.

Which is just as well, as it is currently a complete guddle.

So, yesterday, I girded my loins, set my jaw, squared my shoulders and went through the rigmarole of setting everything up for an extended casting session.

There are times when I positively welcome the relative tedium of the mechanical process of casting.  If I'm in the right frame of mind it can have a soothing, calming effect as small amounts of liquid porcelain slip are magically transformed into the tiny bodies, heads, arms and legs of toy dolls, or animals or whatever.

However, yesterday I just wasn't in the right frame of mind.  It was cold and dark in the workroom, despite my having every light on, including my daylight and SAD lamps.  The sensation of feeling chilled was due to working with the porcelain slip, which even on a warm day feels cold to the touch.  Also, my hands are constantly in and out of water which doesn't help.

No matter.

I've started ergo I must finish.  If I do a few small batches each day, then by Friday I will have enough (hopefully) to fill the kiln.

So, as the sun is currently shining, and the workroom looks moderately inviting, I'm off to start batch no. 1 for today.

I'm hoping for a warm, fuzzy glow of satisfaction when I'm done......

Friday, 14 December 2012


I've been burning the candle at both ends and the middle this week in a giddy whirl of social engagements, all of which were very enjoyable, although I'm thoroughly tuckered out now and in need of a rest.

Even Small Dog is feeling under par and has hardly strayed from her basket all day, although perhaps the horizontal driving wind and rain has something to do with that.  

I'm torn between snuggling down on the sofa in front of the fire and surrendering to daytime TV or gently pottering in the workroom on La Mignonette, which is currently scattered all over the desk awaiting further construction.

However the next pressing task on the list involves electrification and I'm not sure I feel up to any precision soldering......

TV it is then......

Saturday, 8 December 2012

It's CHRISTMAS........!!!!

Deck the halls......

I'm girding my loins to make a start on putting up our Christmas tree, just as soon as PP ascends the ladder to the small loft to get all the various boxes of decorations down.

It's always a nail-biting time as there is one box of really ancient, incredibly fragile glass decorations which belonged to my great grandmother, so they are over 100 years old.  Each year I dread hearing the tell-tale tinkling sound of broken glass, indicating that they have finally disintegrated.

Fingers crossed it's not THIS year.

We now have an artificial tree, which solves the perennial problem I used to have when we had a real one, of always feeling sorry for the stunted, lop-sided tree hidden right at the back of the pile, with half its needles gone before we even got it home.

I'm a real traditionalist and disdain each year's fad for 'must have' colours.  Judging by the offerings in Tesco, this year it's pink and turquoise.

Pink and turquoise..... I ask you!?

Still, I suppose that's better than last year's black and purple. But only marginally.

No.  Our tree will be decked out in traditional red and gold.

White lights.  No flickering, chasing, pulsing,  or epilepsy-inducing flashing either.


And under no circumstances, absolutely NO TINSEL.  Or that horrid lametta stuff.


Also, this year, I've decided not to decorate the stairs.  In previous years I've wound garlands of greenery through and up the banisters, with twinkly white lights, which took the best part of half a day to achieve.  Last Christmas the lights finally gave up the ghost and with the prospect of hopefully moving to a house with a different staircase configuration I'm not inclined to replace them. 

So I'm hoping that just the lounge (tree and fireplace) will take around 3-4 hours to decorate.  I might just have a glass of sparkling wine to help me get into the festive spirit.... 

Fa la la la la, tra la fa la.......


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

It's curtains for me........

Having made the decision to change our estate agent, I've been doing a bit of house refurbishment, just to keep my hand in.

This has consisted of adding a few bits and pieces upstairs, a lovely new(ish) rug, some nautical touches in one of the 'children's rooms' and just this morning some new curtains in two of the bedrooms.

I haven't hung new curtains for quite some time and had quite forgotten what a palaver they are.  First of all, they required ironing for about two hours. This is because they have a special thermal backing which apparently can only tolerate a very cool iron, which is, of course, useless for removing creases.  

Eventually I had to throw caution to the winds and gradually, by teeny tiny increments, increase the heat, fervently hoping that the creases would iron out before it got to the point where the fabric would melt, blister, or go on fire.

Thankfully I avoided disaster (more by luck than judgement) but the result wasn't absolutely perfect.  However having spent a full 30 minutes ironing each relatively small curtain I no longer cared and came to the conclusion that corrugated curtains are the way to go..

Then, micro nanoseconds before pulling up the cords on the curtain heading tape I remembered to knot both ends just in time to prevent pulling them all the way out.

That would have been a tad annoying...... 

Then I had to work out where to put the curtain hooks, which I did by a process of trial and error.

And swearing.


There was a modicum of swearing.

Then I had to hang them, balanced precariously on the end of a chest of drawers, trying to reach a point mere millimetres beyond my outstretched fingers.

Then I had to hold them in place at one end with one hand, while I pulled up the cords to get the right width with my other hand, while simultaneously trying to get the heading tape even with my other hand.....

A bit more swearing happened at that point.

When I finally stepped back to survey the results of my labours, perspiring lightly and panting heavily, the effect was less than edifying.  

I expect that over the next 24 hours the remainder of the most entrenched creases will fall out and the curtains will be falling in soft natural folds after they 'settle in'.  At that point I will make final adjustments and tie off the cords in their permanent position.  Thankfully I don't need to shorten them, which I thought I might have to do. 

So now all we need is a deluge of house viewings, courtesy of our mega-enthusiastic new estate agents, when people will be bowled over by the improvements we've made and vie with each other to put in cash offers just a smidgen below the asking price.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Is it Monday again already......?

Is it just me or do Mondays come round with increasing regularity?  It seems only 10 minutes since last Monday.

Plus we're now in full freefall towards Christmas.  Over the weekend we saw lots of people outside their houses, struggling up ladders, wrestling with huge rolls of lights or gigantic inflatable reindeer.

When I were a lass, Christmas decorations went up the weekend before.  This current mania for doing it right at the beginning of December mystifies me.  Part of the charm of Christmas trees and festive decorations is their novelty.  Putting them up so early means that by Christmas everyone has grown so used to them that they're hardly even noticed.  And surely even the most effective 'no needle drop' real trees are almost completely bare by Christmas Eve!

I'm trying to ignore the whole thing for at least another few weeks, although, having said that, we're going to a Christmas lunch this week so maybe not......

In other news, Small Dog eventually performed her duties beautifully on Saturday, drawing the winner in our Miniature Christmas November Giveaway.  

Also at the weekend I posted a free how-to tutorial to make a sweet little Santa Marotte Toy.  If you're very quick you can snap up a kit to make it from the website HERE, although we only have a few left and I won't be making any more!

This week I have loads of things I SHOULD be doing, but it's going to be difficult to tear myself away from La Mignonette, especially as the wallpapers arrived on Saturday which means I could be getting on with the internal and external decor.  However, I'll try to be good and reward myself with one hour on the shop build only after I've completed 3 hours of proper creative work (that's NOT including paperwork, packing orders etc.)  This would neatly split my working days into clearly defined morning and afternoon sessions and would clearly be A Good Thing for my frankly wishy-washy work ethic at the moment.

Having said that, I've been hit by some lightning bolt ideas lately, which I'm itching to get started on.  Nothing like a bit of research and development to get the creative juices flowing.....

Onwards and upwards......

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The judges' decision is final......

I realise that most people read this blog purely to find out what Small Dog is up to, but just in case some of you are actually interested in miniatures, you might like to pop over to my Miniature Christmas blog and enter the November Giveaway.  Just follow the instructions and you could be the lucky recipient of a seasonal kit.


As mentioned in the blog post, the winner will be drawn at random from all the entries by Small Dog.  

Questions have been raised as to her impartiality, but I can assure you that she will take her duties very seriously.

OK, so I know that last year she accidentally ate several of the name slips before we could stop her, and the winning slip had to be prised from her clenched jaws .......

.......... and dried out before we could announce the winner, but this year things will be different and I can promise everyone that the entire process will be carefully monitored and properly adjudicated.

She has had a stern lecture, and given that she's up for Employee of the Month (again) I'm sure she'll comply with all of the rules and regulations.

It only remains for me to wish all entrants 'Good Luck!'

Little Black Dress.....

Small Dog is well known as a dedicated follower of fashion and erstwhile snappy dresser, which is probably why my friend Debbie  shared this with me today....

Never averse to a bit of bling, Small Dog is entranced, and is currently writing her "krissmus lizst."

I've seen some amazing dog costumes on the internet, but the ones available  HERE  really take the (dog) biscuit!

Among my favourites are these....

Sadly though, our budget for Small Dog's krissmus present doesn't extend to $95 for a harness, although I'm sure I could run up something similar for her using an old jumper sleeve and remnants from my extensive stash of outrageous fabrics, feathers and sparkly trimmings......

She SHALL go to the ball.......

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Printer update......

The printer and I are still not on speaking terms.  It's sulking and keeps balefully blinking its status lights at me.  Hopefully by the time I need to prepare another complicated print run it will have repented its wayward behaviour and be back to its normal helpful self.

However, in the meantime, I received this email this morning........

Dear Morris,
Thank you for contacting Canon Technical Support.
We are sorry to hear that you are experiencing problems with your PIXMA MP980.
Since your printer is connected through USB we would advise you to try the following things:
-try to connect the USB to a different port
-try replacing the USB cable
If you continue having trouble, please do not hesitate contacting us again.
Your sincerely,
Bastiaan de Wit
Canon Services & Support


There are several reasons I'm unhappy with this response so in the unlikely event that Canon Services and Support keep tabs on what their customers are saying about them, I'm going to clearly delineate them here.

First.  My name is not Morris. The tech help form I completed asked for my first and last names, which I provided.  I'll answer to Sandra, or Ms Morris, but not a brusque Morris.

Second.  I do not have a Pixma MP980.  I have a Pixma iP4500, which is nowhere near.  How incompetent do they have to be to get that basic piece of information so badly wrong? I've Googled the MP980, in case it was generically similar to mine but it's an all singing, all dancing wireless all-in-one with built in 3.5" colour TFT screen.  Looks a nifty bit of kit and is probably far superior to my lowly iP4500 which can only print.


Third, fourth and fifth.  I had already tried both of the suggested solutions, a fact which I shared with Canon in the box marked "what have you already tried to solve the problem"? Also, since the printer they think I have is a wireless model, why would they think it's connected via USB?  

As for not hesitating to contact them again, in the entirely likely event that Mr de Wit's suggestions did NOT solve the problem, (and since they didn't when I had ALREADY tried them) I see absolutely no point in doing so. 


*mutter.... bloody tech support..... mutter.... bunch of idiots.......mutter *

Monday, 26 November 2012

Printer says "NO"!.........

I've just spent the entire morning trying to persuade my printer (with which I've had a really good-natured, trusting relationship up till now) to print a multi-page double sided document.

It will happily print off all of the single sided sheets but when I collate and reload them for printing the second side, it gets part way through, spits out a half-printed sheet and starts again.


This has resulted in about 50 wasted sheets of high quality paper this morning, as the printer interface has no way to enable me to pick up printing where it left off, so I have loads of half-printed sheets, some single sided, some double sided and no possibility of filling in the blanks.

I am SO FRUSTRATED I could spit.

I've tried all the usual stuff.  Switching the printer off and on again.  Switching my laptop off and on again.  Closing down the document and re-opening it.  Re-installing printer drivers. Plugging it into a different USB port.

All to no avail.

I've been onto the Canon support site and submitted a help request, which they assure me will be answered with 5 days.


I need that document printed NOW.

There is one manual solution to the problem but it will take me ages to set up, and what's the bloody point of having a printer that can't print more than a few sheets before having a mental breakdown?  Or giving me one.

*heartfelt sigh*

So, the low-tech solution is that I will have to take the document and instead of having a single 20 page booklet file, I will have to split it into groups of 4 pages.  This might sound like a dawdle but trust me.... it isn't, as I will have to get all the double sided page numbers in exactly the right order.  For example, the first sheet will have page numbers 1 and 20 on one side, and 2 and 19 on the other.  I will then have to ensure that I print them all out in the right order and get each sheet loaded in exactly the right way.  I will also have to do 5 separate printing runs instead of each one and hover over the printer every step of the way to identify and deal with problems as they arise.

The potential for chaos is epic. 

Just one page in the wrong printing order and it will all go spectacularly wrong and very possibly result in the printer being heaved out through the window.  My patience is stretched exceedingly thin at the moment anyway, so having to do all this additional messing about is not helping my equilibrium one bit.....  

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Soggy Sunday.......

It feels as if it's been raining forever!  We tried to dodge the downpours earlier while down on the seafront to give Small Dog a bracing walk.  There were massive puddles everywhere so she was quickly saturated, as were we!

The sea was really rough, and practically indistinguishable from the sky.... both a threatening shade of dark grey.  Definitely NOT inviting.  However, despite the atrocious weather, there were some hardy souls windsurfing and kite surfing.  I don't think that even a full body wetsuit would protect them from the cold.... and it must have been VERY cold in the sea with the windchill factor.

Back home in the warm and dry, it's felt particularly Sundayish today, and apart from trying to make a decision on decor for the shop I've been completely uninspired to do anything very much.  I've got a backlog of paperwork and filing which I really should tackle before it gets out of hand, as well as a whole boxful of tiny toys to list on the website.  I have made a start on that though, so I can allow myself a small feeling of satisfaction.

I do hope this ennui wears off by tomorrow as I have a to do list of gargantuan proportions to tackle.......

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Special delivery.....

We're quite excited as later today we're expecting a special delivery.  For the first time in over a decade, and in spite of the fact that we live less than half a mile from a huge Tesco Extra store, we're having our grocery shop delivered.

How exciting is that?*

PP discovered a whole bunch of online voucher codes on the internet which knocked nearly 40% off our shopping bill, but only on orders for delivery.  In these cash-strapped times that's not to be sniffed at, plus we're liberated from the soul-destroying 2-hour trudge round the store, packing it all into the car, unpacking it all again afterwards....

It's not my favourite use of what usually ends up being most of an afternoon.

In other news, if you pop over to the Miniature Christmas blog there are some newly released festive toy kits on the website, as well as several new deluxe and shabby chic toy dolls.

I've also found time to update progress on La Mignonette where I've been tiling the ground floor, with mixed results.  I'm cautiously hopeful I'll get it finished today, barring major problems.

How likely is that?#

Best go and get on then.

However in the meantime, because I've got nothing better to do, here's a random photo of Small Dog in her basket last night.  She was snoring loudly at the time.....

*well probably, admittedly, not very but I don't get out much and have to get my kicks where I can......

#well, probably, admittedly VERY likely, given that no two tiles are exactly the same size and therefore inevitable discrepancies have multiplied exponentially across the pattern.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Anatomy of a house viewing......

Back in the dim and distant past, selling your home was relatively simple.

You chose an estate agent, had a For Sale board nailed to the fence, and sat back waiting for the offers to flood in.

Nowadays, we're bombarded with television programmes telling us exactly what to do, banging on about 'kerb appeal' and the importance of presenting your house in its best possible light to maximise your chances of getting top dollar.  

No longer is it enough to simply ensure the beds are made and zip round with the hoover.

Oh no.

You have to ruthlessly de-personalise every room then 'dress' it to appeal to the neutral-loving house buyer, who, naturally, has been watching all the same TV programmes telling THEM what to look out for in a desirable home. 

We've got into a little routine which we implement before each viewing.

Well.... I say 'little'....

It's anything but and it takes hours.

I won't bore you with the details but it starts with dusting and hoovering and ends with plumping up cushions before we slump, exhausted into a chair (NOT any of the ones with artfully plumped cushions).

Of course, Small Dog generally has her own ideas as to what constitutes a well-presented room and is always keen to contribute her own doggy brand of help.

If I've carefully made up her basket with neatly folded blankys, she considers it doesn't look lived in and will spend several minutes digging them all up and/or pulling them out onto the floor.

If the fire is lit she considers that no fire is complete without a dog sprawled full-length in front of it.

If she has to go outside, (which she invariably does, about five minutes before viewers are due to arrive) she will come back in trailing leaves and general garden debris behind her and if I'm too slow to intercept her, will take up residence (leaves and all) on one of the recently plumped cushions.

As a result, we've learnt that Small Dog and house viewings are best kept apart.  She seems  incapable of grasping the fact that people don't come to the house purely to see her and will go to extreme lengths to give them the greeting she thinks they deserve.  This generally results in her transforming herself into a wriggling, squirming, whimpering bundle of fur desperately trying to escape from either PP's or my arms in order to wrap herself around people's feet.

So now, five minutes before a viewing, PP takes Small Dog off down the road for a long walk while I show people round.  Happily this compromise meets with SD's approval and supersedes any notion of staying at home and being ignored.

As to the actual viewings themselves, it never ceases to amaze me how people will ask the strangest questions which bear no relation to either the house or its environs.  It also seems to be 'de rigeur' to remain absolutely poker-faced throughout, giving absolutely nothing away.  Some people have been so deadpan I almost felt it necessary to check to see if they had a pulse.

There have been a few people who've been a joy to show round, who have deigned to smile at the picture of Small Dog in the study, or show interest in what goes on in the workroom.  Or who have answered MY questions with good humour and grace rather than with suspicion and prevarication.

The process is undoubtedly stressful and extremely wearing, but I suppose everyone who is undertaking a house move has to go through it. 

However, we haven't even passed the first (of many) hurdles yet.......





Friday, 16 November 2012

TFI Friday....

Phew..... such a busy week. 

A lovely influx of pre-Christmas orders has resulted in my burning the midnight oil every day, but I've finally got on top of it all and the last of this week's orders will go out today.

In other news, my Twitter account has been hacked AGAIN!  I have to admit I don't really understand what Twitter is for.  I'm only just getting to grips with Facebook and that's taken several years, so Twitter has no chance.

This perplexes me.

As a keen exponent of our rich and varied language, I should relish the linguistic challenge of encapsulating a single thought in 140 characters.

But therein lies the rub.

The OCD element of my psyche would INSIST on my using EXACTLY 140 characters (no more, no less) in each and every tweet.  I would, eventually, drive myself completely insane and be found one day, foaming at the mouth on the floor of the office, tweeting incomprehensibly like an overgrown dickie bird.

So instead I take the easy way out and use Twitterfeed to put blog posts automatically on both FB and Twitter.  Apparently this marks me out as a Twitter philistine but sod it.

However, no matter what I do with cast-iron passwords etc, my Twitter account is regularly hacked and apparently malicious tweets are sent from my account to all and sundry.  This would be entertaining if it weren't potentially legally incendiary. 

So if you're in any one of my legion of contacts across all platforms.... Linkedin, FB, Twitter, Blogger etc etc etc and are receiving tweets apparently from me, telling you how to lose 2 stone in 2 weeks, or accusing you of genocide, please ignore them completely.  They're NOT from me.  It's someone's idea of a sick joke.  Someone who has way too much time on their hands and needs a good slap.

I'm this far from deleting my Twitter account altogether and relying purely on Blogger and FB as my networking tools of choice.  Or, as Small Dog insists on calling them, "soshallmeejah."

I don't know WHAT the world is coming to......

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Playing with my Proxxon......

One of the joys of doing what I do is the opportunity to work with such varied materials, from porcelain to fabrics, wood to metals..... and the tools required by each medium.

This week I've been making Christmas illuminated toy theatres, which as they're wooden, means I get to play with all of the miniature power tools, my favourite of which is the Proxxon circular saw.  There is something ridiculously satisfying about reducing a pile of stripwood into precisely cut, accurately measured lengths to form the shell of the theatres.  

Not to mention cutting the proscenium arches using a bench-mounted jigsaw, and drilling holes in the ceilings for the electrics.

What is astounding though, is the amount of ultra fine sawdust produced..... piles of it around each power tool, and a light but thorough coating of it around the workboards and all over me.  I had to resort to hoovering myself before I could leave the workroom!

Nevertheless, I now have a small stock of both of our Christmas-themed illuminated toy theatres which are now listed on the website HERE


Monday, 5 November 2012

Multi-tasking Monday......

Small Dog is poorly.

Proper poorly.

I don't know if there is a canine equivalent of Norovirus, but if there is, she's got it.

As well as the dire rear she's been sick too and has been off her food since yesterday.  She did manage to force down a tiny amount of lightly cooked scrambled egg this morning but since then she's been languishing in her basket.  If she's not significantly better tomorrow she'll be bound for the vet.

Not only that, PP had to have sedation for a hospital procedure this morning and she's been sleeping it off this afternoon, also feeling proper woozy.

So I've been in nursemaid mode today, ministering to the afflicted.  Hopefully they will both be feeling much better by tomorrow.

While they've been recuperating though, I've been hard at work, putting the finishing touches to our festive-themed Kit of the Month, details of which can be found on the Miniature Christmas blog, or on the website HERE.

Choose between Holly or Ivy, both of which come with a bonus kit to make a filled wicker basket. 

Perfect for self-gifting in the run up to Christmas, we are also offering an optional online tutorial session at the end of November.


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Shaggy dog story......

First of all I have to declare my interest.

I am completely fascinated by Little Red Riding Hood.

As a child I read several versions of the classic fairy tale, from the Ladybird version through to the original Charles Perrault adaptation of 1697, which was a real shocker as LRRH was  gobbled up by the wolf!

In the more acceptable Grimm's version, the young girl and her grandmama are rescued by the huntsman, who dispatches the wolf after performing a caesarian section with a pair of scissors.

Then in the more contemporary tale by Roald Dahl, the feisty, feminist LRRH "whips a pistol from her knickers" and in short order sports "a lovely furry wolf skin coat."

Quite what keeps drawing me repeatedly back to this story I don't know.  Admittedly there's a  lot going on under the surface.

For example the whole sexual analogy? 

Red = blood.... sin.... passion..... seduction.
Wolf = sexual predator

Or is it moral imperative not to stray from the path and to avoid all temptation?

Is it perhaps the childhood dread of being devoured?  Or the dichotomy between male as  predator or rescuer?

Or is it simply a rollicking good fairy tale?

I've had in mind for some time to undertake a miniature project based on LRRH which may, in the fullness of time, transmute from theory into practice.  

However, in the meantime, tonight, I persuaded Perfectionist Partner, Prodigal Son and Small Dog to watch "The Company of Wolves"  by the amazing Angela Carter, based on the LRRH theme.

I've seen it several times so the storyline wasn't new to me.  However to Small Dog it was a revelation!  She sat bolt upright on my lap, ears all a-quiver, wide eyes fixed on the screen, her whole body trembling in response to every single wolfish breath, pant and howl (of which there were many).

At the end, before bedtime, she had to go outside for a quick wee, but whereas usually I'm calling her to come in for ages while she's up the garden scouting for squirrels, tonight she was out and in again within 30 seconds.

I chanced to enquire if she'd met any wolves up the garden, as she is adamant that she often has to bite the heads off any she might come across.  She didn't even deign to answer.... running in straight past me, making a bee-line for her basket and burrowing under her blankys.

So much for our domestic dogs being two steps away from wolfdom!


Small Dog's right to reply.

i amm trommatized.  

mi mum (the kwite madd wun)  wonnted two wotsch a fillum kold "The Kumpani Ov Woolvs" whitsh i thot mite bea a dockumentari.

itt wos teryfien.  

i didd knott evin kno a wulf kude due eni of thatt  horibul transformen stuf and eeten peepul.

in the passt i hav bean kwite sanngwin abowt woolvs, espeshali ass i am neerli a woolf misellf butt i am haven two reeveis mi oppiniyons.

mi mum wil hav knobudy two blaim butt hursellf iff i hav badd dreemz and hav to gett intwo hur bedd inn the middul of the knite.



A Miniature Christmas blog........


It's that time of year again.

No sooner has Halloween disappeared over the horizon than Christmas hoves into view and approaches with frightening speed.

With just this in mind, I have dragged the Miniature Christmas blog out of the virtual attic, given it a through clean and brush up, and it is now live online HERE.

If you're not already a Follower, why not pop over there right now and sign up, as later this month one lucky Follower will receive a Miniature Christmas giveaway.

Friday, 2 November 2012

I'm back........!

I don't expect anyone has even noticed, but I've been away for a few days in deepest, darkest Suffolk.

It's not a part of the world I'm familiar with, but I have to say that it's an undiscovered gem of a place and one which I'm looking forward to exploring in more detail in due course.

Arrived back home this afternoon after a 3 hour journey, mostly in brilliant sunshine, to find a massive hailstorm in full flow from a sky as black as your hat.  Since then the storm clouds have cleared and the sun is shining fit to bust again.


Back to work over the weekend to make up for taking time off during the week.

Lots to do........ some of which might even be enjoyable!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Miserable Monday.....

What a horrible, cold, wet, dark, miserable day.......

I've finally succumbed to the cold and put the heating back on.  Small Dog is all curled up beneath two of her blankys which is about the best thing you can do on a day like today. 

Despite the cold, I've had quite a productive day, working on a new catalogue as our old one is so hopelessly out of date.  It's tempting to believe that EVERYONE is on the internet these days and can therefore access our website, but in reality that is far from the case.

I had a phone call from a lady at the weekend who had seen our ad in the latest issue of The Doll's House Magazine but doesn't have a computer or internet access so wanted to know if I could send her a copy of our catalogue.

"Yes of course", says I.

"No problem at all".

"It will be my pleasure".

However, after hoiking it out of the bowels of my laptop and dusting it off, it rapidly became apparent that I would have to compile a new one as it featured barely a single currently available toy or kit.

I'm so out of practice at producing anything in hard copy, aside from our little brochure which I regularly update and goes out with every order.  A proper catalogue, from which people can select and make purchases is a whole different kettle of fish. 

In addition, so many of our toys are one-offs, and all are listed on our website for instant purchase, so a paper catalogue is out of date almost as soon as it's printed and certainly within a week or so.

However, a customer has requested a catalogue, so a catalogue she shall have.  And now that it's finished, all I need to do is keep it updated on a monthly basis rather than leaving it to languish, unloved, for years on end.

Why do I feel I'm making yet another resolution doomed to fail.......?

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Daylight robbery.....

Tonight's the night we put our clocks back by one hour.

However, that extra hour in bed in no way makes up for the fact that tomorrow it will be pitch dark at 5 pm

It already feels like an awful long haul till next spring despite the fact that we're now in freefall towards Christmas.

Our hopes of moving house before Christmas are fading fast.  With just 7 'useful' weeks remaining it would require a small miracle.  Having spent the last 8 days with a tentative offer on the table, our prospective buyer has apparently disappeared into the ether, taking his spurious (and ludicrously low) offer with him.

Now, I know that you don't have to actually LIKE the person who buys your house, but it seems to me that a measure of mutual respect and trust would be a pre-requisite for entering into a transaction worth several hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Or is that just me.

And to add insult to injury, the couple who were due to view at midday simply didn't turn up. No notice, no phone call to the agent to cancel.....  Having spent all of yesterday afternoon and this morning making the house immaculate, to say I'm a bit hacked off is putting it mildly.

I'm so hacked off I could spit.

When I rang the estate agent to see what was occurring, he committed the cardinal sin of making no end of excuses for the no-show couple which tipped my hacked-offedness into full blown anger and I subjected him to a 10 minute rant on the importance of good manners and common courtesy which reduced him to an apologetic wreck.

Sheesh.....  knowing that we'd been given the run around for a whole week by one of their 'clients' you'd have thought that us having a no-show from another lot this morning would have prompted them to show at least a modicum of tact and diplomacy in our direction.




What am I thinking.....?

Expecting an estate agent to be sensitive to the stress and anxiety of a vendor is about as likely as an anaconda considering the stress and anxiety of a tethered goat.

Which is to say, not at all.


However, I've just thought of at least one good thing about the clocks changing....

Yardarm will arrive a whole hour earlier tomorrow.


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Triumph of hope over expectation.....

It never ceases to amaze me, how even the slightest glimmer of hope, no matter how faint, can lift the spirit.  Which is just as well, given the trials and tribulations of the past week in which extensive negotiations on the house front have thus far failed to reach a resolution.

We've been tantalising close a few times, but on each occasion our hopes have been cruelly dashed, so we are still on tenterhooks, awaiting a decision one way or the other.

So in the midst of the maelstrom, I've been using work as displacement activity, which is probably a first for me.  Every day this week, to take my mind off the temptation to speculate on what is likely to happen (or be more more accurate NOT happen)  I've been working exceptionally hard and have completed not one, not even two, but THREE brand new toy kits which will be released early next month.  

This unexpected bonus has got me thinking, and it seems to me that perhaps displacement activity of the creative kind is exactly what I need at the moment.

So, having mothballed La Mignonette last month, during the Great Cleaning Frenzy, I'm inclined to get it back out and have a proper go at it.  This will entail putting all my tools etc away for viewings etc, but that's a small price to pay for a bit of creative 'me time'.  I'd ended up stuck up a creative cul-de-sac with it during the summer but I feel I could do it more justice now so I may have inadvertently stumbled upon A Damn Fine Plan.

In other news, our current industrious work ethic seems to have shamed Small Dog into taking her responsibilities more seriously.

Far be it from me to suggest that this conscientious behaviour might have something to do with the fact she'd just come in from the garden with cold, wet feet and needed a warm lap to dry and warm them up......

Or perhaps she's acutely aware that it's almost time to announce Employee of the Month.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Weary Wednesday......

It feels as though I've been dragged through the emotional wringer over the past 5 days.  I've gone from the heady heights of joyous excitement to the depths of despair and back again.

Several times.

Why I thought any of this house-moving mallarkey would be, if not exactly easy, then at least not demoralisingly difficult, I have no idea.  

Every single house move I've ever made (and over the past 35 years since I bought my very first flat there have been several) has been dogged by delays, gazumping, gazundering, endless frustration, unexpected expense, and in one spectacular case, downright daylight robbery!

I naively thought that in the 9 years since my last traumatic relocation, things might have moved on, and the process would have become more transparent, easier to negotiate and generally less wearing on the nerves.


I don't know WHAT I was thinking.....

Suffice to say I'm losing all round.

Losing sleep, losing confidence, losing the will to live.

The only things I seem to be gaining in spades are grey hairs.


Sunday, 21 October 2012

A word from our sponsor.....

As a child of the 60's I loved Stingray, Fireball XL-5, Thunderbirds, Catpain Scarlet, et al.  But my overall favourite was Stingray.  I definitely carried a torch for Marina, the alluring but sadly mute former slave girl of King Titan, evil aquaphibian ruler of the underwater city of Titanica.

I have no idea what she saw in Troy Tempest.  Admittedly he was ruggedly handsome and square-jawed (quite literally) but he didn't move his lips when he talked and he had funny, squinty eyes.

But I digress.


I think I might be turning into one. 

This is a direct result of all the rain we've been having.  I'm developing webbed hands and feet and there is a definite emergence from the side of my head of what might be gills.

Also my hair sticks up funny like theirs when I get up in the morning.

And my bum looks just like theirs from the back. 

And I sometimes sound a little bit like them in the night.

I'm not sure whether this is a Good Thing or not.

Probably not.

In other news.... well there is no other news.  Unless you count Small Dog being given a new bacon wrapped rawhide chew yesterday.  

Initially she buried it in her basket, spending absolutely ages nosing it around, trying to get it under the cushion.  It was only when she glanced up from her labours and saw us both sitting watching her that she came over all paranoid, and decided to hide it in a more secretive spot.

She disappeared into the sitting room and when she emerged some time later, I assumed that she'd found the perfect place behind the sofa, or under a cushion, so I happily let her out in the garden in a state of unsuspecting innocence at to her intentions.

I present to you Exhibit One.....

Upon her return from the garden, she bustled in past me with her head down, as she is wont to do, but she had a guilty look about her and her ears were flat down.  Thus alerted to the possibility of wrong-doing, I intercepted her trying to get upstairs, presumably on her way to attempt to clean her face on our newly laundered duvet cover.

I suppose if that expression on her face says anything, it's

"It's a fair cop guv.... you've got me banged to rights."

It took PP several goes with the wire brush and Dettol to get all that hard packed mud out of her whiskers.  We have no idea where the hide chew is.  We hope she's forgotten all about it.  Which is entirely likely.

Except probably, at some point in the next few weeks, she'll have an epiphany and suddenly remember it.  Whereupon she'll surreptitiously go and disinter it, then smuggle it indoors to hide yet again.

If we're very lucky she'll simply bury it in her carry basket in the kitchen.  If we're not we'll find the festering, stinky object under a pillow, or down the side of the sofa next to the  TV remote control.

Quite why people think she's a cute, ladylike, little dog is beyond me.....