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......