Time to make a move…

If you’ve been here recently you’ve probably heard me talking about my attempts to build a new website over the last few weeks and now I think I’m about as ready as I’m ever going to be to make it live.

I feel perhaps there should be fanfares and trumpets, but we all know that’s not me. In fact if I’m honest I feel a bit more like Philip Hammond, not moving into my new house all in one day – I have this intense urge to flit backwards and forwards between the two.

But I know very well that if I wait until the new website is perfect I’ll wait for ever, so ladies and gentlemen, I very much hope you will do me the honour of accompanying me over to my new space on the interweb – A Stitchery Spellbook…

When you move house there are always things you find out after the event that you didn’t before and I’m anticipating some of that will happen here. I’d be enormously grateful if you come up against any problems with the new site if you’d let me know. This whole process has seriously tested my techno-abilities and if it’s flawless I’m Mother Theresa.

I’m not planning to change anything very much, if at all, from what you’ve been finding here, evolution not revolution as the management consultants will insist on calling it, but  now I’ll have everything under one online roof and under my control (manic laughing sounds in background)…

Just to say too, if you’ve previously signed up to receive Loose Threads you’ll still have that delivered, no change and no need to do anything.

(If you haven’t and would like to, the new site has a nice little box that doesn’t insist on interrupting your reading if you would like to sign up for Loose Threads over there).

I’ll be leaving Dreaming In Stitches and all the content here with no plans to delete anything, but I won’t be moving the archives across to A Stitchery Spellbook, I’m happy to have a fresh start. (Although you might notice a couple of duplicate entries which I’ve used to test out the new site).

So many people have drifted away from blogging over the last couple of years, some to other social media, others have completely left the scene, but I’ve realised that for me the really wonderful thing about blogging is the community, the opportunity to talk to so many wonderful and diverse people all over the world about anything and everything. Having been born long before the internet this connection still has the power to overawe me and so I’m committed to being around and I do so hope you’ll come along with me.

If you use a blog reader to pick up my posts, I’m afraid you’ll have to update it for the new web address https://www.astitcheryspellbook.com/blog-1/ Alternatively on the sidebar of the new blog page there’s a box to sign up for email updates which will pop them straight into your inbox if you’d prefer.

And so, with that, I thank you a million times for all your visits and comments here over the years and I wish you all very happy stitching x

Anny x



That time of year…


I wonder, is there a time in your annual calendar you refer to as ‘that time of year’? For us it is always June and July. During these two months we squeeze the best part of our entire annual social life into about six weekends of frantic travelling about the country, bell-ringing with very old friends and generally meeting up with people we only see at this time of year.

It’s always a pleasure, but it does tend to throw you off your routine and I’m now right in the middle of our busiest period. Which would make this a terrible time to choose to embark on something new, something that requires a lot of learning from scratch or something that’s extremely time-consuming…you can guess where this is going can’t you.


So yes, on top of all the other things that are happening at the moment, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks getting to grips with building a new website. If you saw my post a couple of weeks ago, you’ll know that I found the initial stage quite a challenge. For someone who spends such a lot of time quietly stitching, I’m really not naturally a patient person, and trying to teach myself new things doesn’t always bring out the best in me.

But I’m pleased to say I bit my lip and got on with it. Inevitably once you really get down to something eventually it comes together. I’m now at the ‘playing with it stage‘ so I won’t ask you to race over and have a look just yet, but don’t worry, once it feels ok I’ll give you all the details.

I’ve been blogging now for nearly ten years in one guise or another and over that time I’ve changed so much and so indeed has the whole blogging community. For many people their blog has been superseded by other social media, especially Instagram, which it has to be said does make micro-blogging much easier to do and also it makes connecting with people who’re interested in what you have to say much easier too. Then there are so many people who simply seem to have run out of blogging steam. I miss hearing from them, but life changes and things move on.

The major change for me in recent years has been finding a balance between the three things that go to my core; observing the rhythms of the seasons, evangelising for Britain’s old places and creating slow-stitched pieces of art. Now I finally feel properly at home with what I’m doing and it’s come as such a relief. Thank you to everyone who has born with me chopping and changing, and the frequent dithering over past months and years.

I will never cease to be amazed that I can now speak directly to friends, artists, nature-lovers and history geeks across the globe with just a few clicks, and it is being a part of this truly incredible online community that makes me certain that although the format evolves, I’m definitely happy and grateful to carry on being a part of it.

So when the new website goes live, it will be evolution rather than revolution. Still the same haphazard mix of content, hopefully better presented, more flexible for what I might want to do in future and importantly under my own control.

And so after all that, you may well be going never mind all that waffle Anny, where’s this week’s dollop of heritage?

Well, I hope you’ll forgive me this week for not coming up with an entirely new piece. What with website building, weekends with friends, children ferrying and general spinning of plates, I’ve simply not sat down to do it properly. So instead here is a flavour of what we get up to on our annual ringing get-togethers from a couple of years ago and which first appeared on my old history blog.



The wonderful thing about being a history junkie living in England, is the prevalence of parish churches. Every one of them is a little time capsule, telling stories about our national, regional and very personal histories. I love looking at them for what their architecture tells us about their building history and then going inside, or walking around the graveyards and seeing the human histories remembered in tombs, memorials, windows and simple graves.

At the weekend, we visited four churches, all fairly close together in the Warwickshire/Worcestershire borders. Each very different in character, and each a piece in the jigsaw puzzle of our past. None is particularly exceptional, but that’s the wonderful thing about them, wherever you go, a fascinating journey into history is waiting for you.

St Mary, Ullenhall, Warwickshire




This was our first stop. A strange little church, with a mix of architectural styles that can mean only one thing – Victorian! It was designed by John Pollard Seddon and built in 1875.

You need to walk around the outside to get a full impression – the rear is much prettier than the front, but you can’t tell from first glances. For me the clock face up on the odd little spire was the best bit.


St Mary Magdalene, Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire



Tanworth-in-Arden is one of those perfect villages where you imagine Miss Marple would feel at home, wisteria and hollyhocks around the doors. And the church lives up to that ideal too, standing right in the centre of the village.

There were people rehearsing in the church so we didn’t have a proper look around inside, but the cool interior felt serene.

Outside an unusual monument butts right up to the side door, but I couldn’t read the inscriptions, so I don’t know who it commemorated. One face appears to have had a new piece of stone inserted – it’s obviously still important to someone.

I didn’t know at the time, but Nick Drake’s ashes were interred in the churchyard and somehow that seems to fit well with the character of the music he left behind.

St Leonard’s, Beoley, Worcestershire.




This is another church close to a big town but hidden away on the side of a hill. A huge mixture of styles reflecting the age of the church, but I couldn’t help feeling that the hand of the Victorian renovator had been a bit overpowering.

There is a chapel to the left of the chancel – the Sheldon Chapel – built in 1580 for a recusant family, which was a peculiarly oversize attachment. I always want to see the faces of these effigies, but it was very difficult to get into a suitable position. I held the camera where I thought it should be and hoped.

This whole area, Worcestershire and Warwickshire was deeply embroiled in the turbulent religious times and politics of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, with many characters involved in the Gunpowder Plot living in the region, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to find the chapel there.

When we came home and I looked up Beoley, I found this lovely story which connects Shakespeare with Beoley – if you have a few minutes have a read and see what you think.

St Mary the Virgin, Hanbury, Worcestershire





Now I must admit that I am not an impartial visitor to Hanbury. I spent the first twenty years of my life very close to Hanbury and it has a special place in my heart. That said, I’m sure anyone would find it a fascinating if not classically beautiful church.

The Vernon family who built and lived in Hanbury Hall (now managed by the National Trust) are closely connected to the church, with many of them buried in the Vernon Chapel. I rather like the marble figures in all their finery. I especially liked the juxtaposition of medieval door with the marble statue.

However, the very best thing about Hanbury is the position of the church itself, perched on top of a hill, with wide-open views across to the Cotswolds and Malvern Hills. Long before the church was built, there was an Iron Age hilltop fort there. Later the Saxons built a monastery on the site.

It’s exactly the sort of churchyard where you could sit and contemplate life the universe and everything.


A truly enjoyable afternoon of exploring.

Back next week, when we’ll still be in that time of year, but hopefully I’ll be better prepared. Having said that, I’m giving a talk to the Embroiderers’ Guild over in Northamptonshire next weekend, so that might be a bit optimistic!

Best wishes and happy stitching…

The Power of Love…

Well, it’s certainly been a difficult week and I hope you’ll forgive the lack of an offering for the history-junkie today. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with the stuff that happens and mine are simply to walk in the countryside and to stitch and that’s what I’ve been doing.


Quite often when I stand to look at the oak tree each morning or when I lean on the Thinking Gate and survey the field, watching the crows and kites, I whisper a little prayer. When I have absolutely no idea what would help and am powerless to do anything else, all I can think of is to ask for love to spread to the people who need it and to enfold them.


It’s all I can offer, but I do believe in the power of love (even if I can’t hear those words without singing along with Huey Lewis and the News)…


Keeping in touch…

Are you using Instagram or Twitter? If so do say hello there. I’m @dreaminginstitches on Instagram and @AnnPawley on Twitter.

I apologise for being the world’s worst blog reader in recent months, and massive thanks for sticking with me here. I’ve set up Feedly and am determined to do better. I’m still having problems with leaving comments on Blogger blog posts, so if you’re not hearing from me, I’d be very pleased to have an alternative email address or Twitter or Instagram contact details – (I’m afraid I’m not currently using Facebook).

Grateful for your patience.


Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful weekend.


Not exactly hygge…

Much talk on the interweb of something Danish called hygge – now I’m quite fond of the odd Danish export – pastries for instance, Vikings, Sandi Toksvig (in small doses), Pilsner, Hamlet, but I’m considerably less fond of Nordic Noir, marinated herring and Danish bacon.


Hygge sounds lovely – cosy nights with friends gathered around a real fire, wearing Fair Isle jumpers and hand-knitted socks, while drinking hot chocolate and having a good old laugh. But just in case the whole hygge thing leaves you feeling a bit overwhelmed, here is my alternative ‘hygge-lite’ for the slightly more socially anxious amongst us – it’s my tried and tested introverts recipe for surviving the cold winter months…

Light a few candles: I’m with the Danes on this one, candlelight always makes me feel relaxed. I dot them about the sitting room and kitchen, pillars and tea-lights mainly, bought from the blessed IKEA (isn’t it lovely that we Brits actually burn candles these days – it wasn’t until IKEA came to the UK with their cheap candles that we stopped dusting our single pair of red dinner candles off once a year at Christmas and lit them instead).

Pile up some duvets and blankets on the sofas: Probably as a result of having no functioning central heating for several years (happily now rectified), we’ve become used to wrapping ourselves in fleecy blankets or duvets on cold winter evenings while watching the TV.

Cook stews in a slowcooker: I’m such a fan of these ’70s throwbacks. Chuck a few vegetables, scrag end, a stock cube and tin of tomatoes into the cooker in the morning and when it’s dinner time you’ll have a delicious effortless meal ready to go and a house that smells wonderful. Make enough for two nights and slap a piece of ready-rolled puff pastry over the left-over stew to make a pie. (I’m a vegetarian now, but I still crave a pastry crust and lashings of thick gravy).

Pour yourself a glass of single malt whisky: There’s nothing better for keeping out the cold and making you feel mellow than a dram or two of whisky. Try something peaty from Islay, Laphroaig or Lagavulin, or if you’re feeling very brave (or have the ‘flu) try Talisker from Skye. If peaty flavours aren’t your thing, try Dalwhinnie or Bunnahabhain instead, both pure amber gorgeousness.

Read your way through a series of crime fiction or supernatural novels: My favourites are still the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, the Inspector Rebus novels by Ian Rankin and Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series set in the Welsh Marches. They’re easy enough to pick up in charity shops and by the time you’ve read them all it will probably be spring.

Curled up on the sofa, wrapped in a duvet with a glass of whisky and full up on stew, reading a whodunnit paperback while candles flicker in the hearth – that’ll be me…

How’s hygge for you? – any tips for embracing your inner Dane? Do tell…


Morning routine…

or ‘the unanticipated benefits of a photography habit’.

Hands up if you’ve never deliberately attempted to start a habit of some kind…

Me? I’ve tried loads, and I mean loads! But the fact is, I’m rubbish at it. I’m really good at reading the books that tell you why you should regularly do something, I understand the benefits they tell me I’ll see as a result of establishing these habits, I want to experience those benefits, I really do, but in the end, I just don’t seem to have what it takes to tick the habit box. A few days into trying anything habit-like and chances are I’ve already lost the plot.

But there is one thing I do which I think does qualify for habit status – not a habit I ever deliberately intended to make a habit, but which has happened anyway, and that is the habit of taking a photo (or several) of the countryside every day when I walk the dog.

2016-02-16 09.34.17

Long-service readers will know this began with photographing a particular oak tree in the lane. But although I decided to record the oak, I didn’t set off with any intention to make it a permanent thing, I didn’t anticipate any particular benefits of doing it, I simply wanted to see how that tree changed over the period of a year.

But you know, it’s now well over 3 years since I started taking those photos and I still do it every day – I think we can agree that counts as a habit.

2016-01-05 08.35.48

Now let’s be honest, this habit hasn’t done a thing for my ability to keep the house clean or tidy, it hasn’t turned me into a highly successful business person, or (sadly) prevented me from eating my own weight in cake at the slightest provocation.

But you know, there are a few benefits I think do stem from this habit.

These days I am much more in tune with the changing seasons. The whole cycle of life, the ever-changing weather moods and the ebb and flow of energy is something I feel better connected to, even anchored in, and much happier as a result.

2016-02-24 09.16.23

And this once fairly ignorant wildlife watcher has now become fascinated by the flora and fauna in one mundane English country lane. I now own and frequently consult books on wildflowers, trees, insects, mushrooms and birds – and now, just occasionally, I can actually call something by its proper name.

2016-02-09 09.08.18

Having never really been able to commit to a daily drawing practice, I do find that looking carefully at the natural world around me has improved my eye for texture, pattern and subtlety in colour, with the added benefit of having a record to go back to if I want to research something for an artwork. It may not be the creative habit of Twyla Tharp, but honestly, I think it works for me.

2016-02-10 09.55.05

But the best thing of all, is that when you’re having a dull miserable winter and your friends comment on how it seems to have been grey for so long, you can immediately jump in and bore them rigid with precise details of exactly how many days it’s been since we had any sunshine and then show them all the photos to prove it… I know, because I am that woman!

2016-03-10 08.50.48

So there you have it, an accidental habit worth having…

I post a picture from my walk most days over on my Instagram account, do come over and say hello if you’re on IG.

I don’t own a camera – all the pictures are taken with my smart phone, which is tucked -dawn to dusk – into the pocket of my jeans. I was thinking just the other day how lucky I am to live in the digital age, and giving thanks to the inventor of the camera app.

Do you have any accidental habits that make your life better? Do tell…


Busy month…

You really have to pity my Other Half. Less than 7 weeks after Christmas and he is hit with the triple whammy of St Valentine’s Day, Number One Daughter’s birthday and my birthday, all within the space of 6 days.

So one way or another it has been pretty busy around here, thank goodness for half term which conveniently contains all three events.

We’re not massively into celebrating St Valentine’s so that didn’t cause too much trouble, but the Daughter’s birthday was a very significant one – she can now legally have a pint of beer after bell-ringing (oh and I suppose vote, get married etc etc…)

There was cake.


I had thought about making a sophisticated affair, but then I decided that although she might now legally be an adult,  she will always be my baby, so instead I went for the ‘add as much chocolate as possible’ option and risked death by fire with the full quota of candles.

We celebrated with what is becoming a traditional day trip to Bath.


What a fantastic place Bath is, even on days when it rains continuously (like it did last Wednesday), it’s beautiful.


Our family tradition, stretching back to when the new adult was not much more than a toddler, is to play a round of mini-golf while we’re in Bath. Interestingly, although by no means our coldest round, it was certainly our wettest.


Have you ever watched a golf ball gently descend into a hole filled to over-brimming with water? And then to have to plunge your hand down into the extremely cold water to retrieve your ball? It’s different, that’s all I’m going to say…

Still, a tradition is a tradition – these things have to be done.

My own birthday was a much lower key event. Having enjoyed being 39 for some years now, I see no reason to change it. I suppose the time will come when I will have to consider being 42 or maybe even 44, but I’m in no hurry.

So Number Two Daughter and I set off for a day trip yesterday, to mark the end of half term with a little bit of culture.

We both love Packwood House in Warwickshire, so that was our first stop. It occurred to us that we’ve never been on a really warm, sunny day. Do you have places like that?

Each elevation is so different at Packwood…
Very fond of asymmetry me…

Our initial plan had been to go next to Baddesley Clinton, another favourite, but warned of ongoing work there, instead we thought about either Kenilworth Castle or Hanbury Hall. Neither of us could decide, so eventually we tossed a coin and Hanbury won.

Restoring the symmetrical balance…
For some reason, my favourite view of Hanbury…

I felt considerably older than my 39-again years as we were walking round Hanbury, as I kept telling Number Two how much it had improved since my first visits back in the 1970s. But it really has.

So, it’s back to the routine again this week. The Delinquent Dog and I walked along the lane this morning listening to the birds who are quite certain it’s now spring, even if the weather hasn’t totally decided.


From other people’s blogs and IG feeds I’m sure our lane is not as far on as some others, but I don’t think it will be long before we have flowers and blossom.

Happy stitching x





Back again…

I really must begin by thanking you for bearing with me over the last few weeks. I know I’ve always maintained that blogging should be done as and when you feel you have something to say, not to some self-imposed schedule, but even so, I have been well and truly off-piste since November, so I do appreciate you sticking with me.

2015-12-29 11.33.10

The last couple of months of 2015 were pretty full-on for me. A mixture of dreadful lows and  gorgeous highs, set against the unrelenting onslaught of Christmas. I’ve learned now just how much energy this kind of ricocheting takes and discovered that I can now say ‘no’ fairly effectively (I recommend it!). I’ve also been humbled by the tremendous care and help my daughters have offered over this rocky time, they’re growing into extremely lovely young women and I’m proud of them.

2016-01-04 10.23.03

I want to apologise to all you wonderful bloggers who I’ve failed miserably to keep in touch with lately. My one and only resolution for the New Year is to get this back on track. Blogland is a wonderful community and I love being here with you.

2016-01-05 08.35.48

And so, 2016 – what’s happening?

I’m hoping to use 2016 as a year of exploration. The old loves, history, nature and landscape continue to fascinate me – more than that, they have me enthralled. I think I’ve always known that these threads were calling to me, this year I hope to weave them together in a way I hope will begin to express their importance to me.

2016-01-07 08.45.47

Last year was an enormous learning curve for me on the practicalities of being an artist. For this year I’m intending to protect more time for making art. I’m going to brush the rust off some of my old organisational skills to help me achieve a better balance – in fact I think I might adopt balance as my word of the year.

2016-01-08 10.10.11

When my dear friend died last year, far too young and with far too much still to give, it really brought home to me how precious life is and how important it is that we use our time for the really important things, and so that’s what I intend to do.

May you all have a wonderful, happy and productive 2016 – be you!

I continue to photograph the oak most days on my morning walk. The shots in this post are from the end of December and beginning of January – too much grey, not enough sunshine!

2016-01-11 09.35.59




Here again…

2015-08-22 11.56.06

Crumbs, it’s been so long! Every year I promise myself I’ll try to post while the girls are on holiday, and every year I fail!

Oh well, never mind, I’m back in the swing of things again now. As you can see, I went to the Caribbean for my holiday – only joking – in fact we spent three weeks in the Highlands of Scotland – camping for two of them – I know, you think we’re bonkers, but really, there’s nowhere else on earth I’d rather go – pictures may well crop up here from time to time, just to remind me how wonderful it is.

2015-08-26 16.10.43

So, now it’s definitely feeling autumnal around here. The morning walks with the Delinquent Dog are turning decidedly damp lately, but it looks like being a wonderfully abundant autumn if the hedgerow is anything to go by – ‘dripping’ is the word that best describes it – both in wetness and sheer quantity of elderberries, sloes, rose-hips, crab-apples, holly and hawthorn berries hanging off the branches…

2015-09-01 12.32.01

And what news here?

Two exhibitions coming up in November. It felt such a long way away when we first thought about them, and now I can see myself frantically working out how many days I have to get things done.

I’m very excited to be going to the Celts exhibition at the British Museum next month.

And with any luck, a new boiler for the central heating before the cold really sets in – if not, I’ll be coming round to your house to keep warm!

It’s good to be back…

The ones that got away…

I’m always telling people how meditative stitching can be, and how wonderful it feels to ‘let go’ and simply enjoy the process – which is all true, for me stitching is where I’m most myself. But perhaps it’s worth mentioning, that it isn’t always plain sailing. Sometimes, the idea in your head refuses to be captured in stitch. Sometimes, despite everything you do, the piece you’re working on, just doesn’t click. 2015-03-19 12.21.49 Anyone making faster art will also have this experience, I’m certain – let’s be honest, more of what we create goes in the bin than on the wall. But making slow art has the particular downside, that you can invest considerable time – we’re talking days, perhaps weeks – into a piece, only to find at some point, you don’t like it, it doesn’t feel right. Which is the time when you have to decide whether to press on regardless and hope it comes together later, or put it down to experience and consign it to the ‘no’ pile. It isn’t always easy to accept that the time poured into a piece isn’t going to result in the work you’d set your heart on. So just in case anyone else is going through a rough patch on the creative front at the moment and thinks they’re the only one, I thought today I’d show you my collection of might have beens from the last few months, the ones I’m calling my experiments, the ones that got away…

2015-03-19 12.28.11 2015-03-19 12.21.15 2015-03-19 12.34.14 2015-03-19 12.34.49 2015-03-19 12.30.20 2015-03-19 12.32.56 2015-03-19 12.25.23

Keep calm and carry on stitching.

Fun For Free – Well Almost…

Sitting around stitching tapestries all day, would make an excellent occupation for a hermit. And whilst I’m not the most gregarious person you’ll ever meet, and if I’m honest, I can happily spend long stretches content in my own company, there are times when I really just want to get out and do something a bit more exciting for a while.

Last weekend I did something I’ve never done before – something I’m very much afraid I’m going to have to do more often, something that I feel sure is going to become a guilty pleasure… I went to an auction!

Now let me be clear, we’re not talking Sotheby’s. This was a general auction at our local auctioneers. But even so, I’m hooked. There have been so many antique/junk/auction TV programmes in recent years, I suppose I may be about the only person in the country who hasn’t previously been to one, but there you go, a late adopter as usual.

So off I went to the preview day – like a car boot sale, but so much better – you get to rifle through box after box of unimaginable goodies. Amongst the things I particularly loved, were a couple of crates of old LPs, which contained all the records I once owned as a teenager, plus all the ones I could never have hoped to afford at the time. There I was, transported straight back into the 1970s – ahhh!

And another lot was a huge collection of Royal Worcester Evesham design dinner ware – OMG! Possibly hundreds of pounds worth of china, with a guide price less than £50 – my poor heart wept.

Saddest of all was the vast amount of superb Georgian brown furniture practically being given away. Fewer than twenty years ago, when the Other Half and I were setting up home, we struggled to afford a couple of odd pieces of rough Victorian pine. Now we could fill the house several times over in the most glorious, craftsmen-made furniture, for half the price we paid back then – I am soooo tempted to do it.

Anyway, the great thing about auctions, is that you have the chance to go home and think about it, rather than rush into any rash decisions. And for the time-being, I’m holding the purse-strings tight shut. But my friend who’d accompanied me to the preview was very tempted. On the day of the auction itself, she texted to say she was going to go and bid on something – and was hoping I’d go along with her to hold her hand (metaphorically speaking).

Which is where the whole exercise suddenly transformed into the biggest thrill I’ve had for ages. I can’t imagine many pursuits involving voluntarily standing around for hours in quite literally freezing sheds, that would appeal to me, but there I was – numb feet, numb hands, nose dripping and absolutely loving it.

I was amazed at the bargains to be had. It’s certainly coloured my approach to shopping for furniture and indeed for many other things too. And I guess you could call it a very sustainable activity, giving new life to otherwise unwanted items. Although I may have to be extremely cautious about taking the Other Half – I dread to think how much cr*p we might end up bringing home…

My friend won the lot she was bidding on – which added the cherry on top of an already brilliant day out.

Now I didn’t buy anything in the auction, which was fine, I was just there to watch and soak up the atmosphere, which could have made it an extremely cheap day out, however, the little in-house cafe at the auction sold the best bacon butties you can imagine – the aroma of the cooking bacon wafted through the doors in such a wicked way, and their coffee was delicious too, so, for me, it wasn’t an entirely free day out, but you could always take a flask and a sandwich if you were confident that your will-power was strong enough to withstand the bacon.

But next time, and I’m pretty sure there will be a ‘next time’ quite soon – who knows what I’ll bring home…

And, for no reason other than the joy of posting totally unrelated pictures – here’s the Delinquent Dog doing what he does best…


So here it is, Merry Christmas…


Just to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Today I shall be attempting not to set the turkey on fire again – yes, it’s quite a spectacular way to draw attention to yourself slaving away in the kitchen, especially when the flames from the oven almost set fire to the table…

Assuming I manage that, everything else will be a bonus.

Have a wonderful day and a happy and peaceful time.

Getting there…


Are we having fun yet?

Christmas is just a week away, so I’m entering that stage where the things that could previously be put off, are now having to be done. And to be fair, I’m doing better than I thought I might. I’m always a late adopter with all things Christmas, I don’t like the prologue to go on too long. In my ideal world, everything you need for the day – presents, food, trees, etc, would all arrive miraculously, leaving me free over the Twelve Days of Christmas to veg out, read, sleep and effortlessly slip the occasional piece of jigsaw into just the right place…

But I am trying. This year, I’ve…

  • Converted several slabs of sausage meat and puff pastry into not entirely inadequate sausage rolls.
  • Been out with my local arty group for a Christmas Dinner.
  • Taken the family to the German Christmas Market in Birmingham (and added a new ceramic house to our expanding hamlet – another couple of years and we’ll qualify as a village).
  • Made my first mince-pies for years (my Mum made such good pastry, I don’t think I’ll ever reach her standard, but at least no one lost any teeth (actually I don’t like mince-pies, but I did nibble the pastry).
  • Survived Christmas shopping in Milton Keynes thanks to a very organised Number Two Daughter, who also foraged for emergency chocolate fudge cake when a major sense of humour failure coincided with dip in blood-sugar levels.
  • Had a lovely evening with our Arts n Tarts group – thank you so much Secret Santa – I LOVE my pressie.
  • Seen the Christmas lights on New Bond Street – seriously pretty.
  • Wrapped presents – this is a major achievement for me, generally I’m still doing it in the wee small hours of the 25th.
  • And waved enthusiastically at the Rotary Club Santa when he came down our street last night on his sleigh – even though our girls are now much too old to visit Santa’s Grotto, we all still get ridiculously excited by his annual drive-past.
  • Still to do? Well, quite a lot, but nothing I’m likely to stress about.

I think, all in all, I might actually be starting to have fun – shhh!