Sunday, 25 December 2016

The Christmas Slideshow

Well I certainly couldn't have done it without the help of my youngest daughter. Any of it really! It's all done and the day went really well. We even managed to find time to walk the dogs after lunch. I hope everyone's day was happy and as restful as it could be.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Happy Christmas Everyone

   That's it what isn't done isn't done. The house has had a last minute tidy up, the dogs have been bathed and the presents wrapped. I'll worry about the food in the morning but for tonight we are opening a bottle of Baileys and enjoying a chat in front of the fire. I'm almost too scared to take the dogs for their evening walk incase they get dirty before the big day.

Bud In His Christmas Neckerchief.

Cassie is her usual cheeky self.!

Poppy Has Seen It All Before.

    As if by a Christmas miracle poor little injured Sammy the cockatiel flew across the room whilst I was cleaning out her cage. When I rescued her and put her back for the first time she started balancing on her perch. She needs to steady herself with her beak but it is such a step forward we're so pleased.

   Happy Christmas to every person who reads this blog and their loved ones. I hope you all have the happiest, safest and most peaceful Christmas ever. Jane xx.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Too Fat To Fly!

   I went to my Mum and Dad's house today and the little robin was never off the new bird feeder all afternoon. My Mum says it starts in the morning and keeps going until dark. If it carries on like this it will be too fat to fly by the New Year I said. As I was looking through the Christmas cupboards this evening I thought to myself I better be careful else I'll end up like the little robin!

    I'm still pressing on with the Christmas slideshow and video but I'm getting a bit worried I won't get it finished by Christmas Day. I'll try and get some music for it tomorrow but I need to take some more Christmassy videos and everyone but my youngest daughter doesn't want to be in it. I bet Steven Spielberg doesn't have these problems.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A Day Of Bargains

  We went to out local charity saleroom today not to buy stock but to try and find a new (secondhand) rug for Christmas. We have varnished floor boards in our rooms but it can be cold particularly on windy days, as draughts blow through the gaps, and if storm Barbara is on the way we want to be prepared. There were lots of modern looking rugs but we found this one we liked, it is ever so big and in lovely condition. It is so big I struggled to take a photo of it in our little room. It only cost us £15 and when we got it home I noticed the label on the back is Laura Ashley. I'm sure it would have been over £100 new. It made my day to find such a bargain.

   When we got back we walked down to out local Co-Op to buy our turkey. We had £31 worth of points on our Co-op card so this turkey was free and we have another £10 to buy some wine for Christmas Day. It's a shame I'm a vegetarian I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more knowing what a bargain it was!

   I took another Christmas photo for the slideshow today. This little fairy has been tied onto our wreath on the front door since the children were little. Every year she blows about in the wind and rain and I always feel a little sorry for her. As I was putting the wreath out this year her string broke and although I tried to tie her back on she wasn't very secure. I didn't want her to blow away when we have had her so long so I said "That's it you can retire inside to the Christmas tree.!" I think she possible looks slightly relieved with the way things have worked out. 

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Why I Love The Winter Solstice

    Today, the Winter Solstice is a day I look forward to. I go into Autumn thinking of cosy evenings by the fire, crisp frosty walks with the dogs and of course Christmas. To be honest by this day every year I'm getting a bit sick of it! I'm worrying about heating bills, most of the sunny frosty days just seem to be cold rain and mud in the park and Christmas is all getting a bit stressful. However today is such a positive day. I can start counting down to spring and all the things I love to do. Even though January and February can be cold and miserable I can see every day a few minutes more of light. Today apparently we get just 7 hours and 49 minutes of daylight, but every day there will a couple more minutes added on. Every evening when I walk Bud I think won't be long before we are walking in the light in the evening and every day the hens get put to bed a tiny later. Definitely a cheerful day!
    In our countdown to Christmas things are going quite well. We are still using local shops and tomorrow we will be buying the turkey with points saved on our Co-Op loyalty card. Last minute presents will be bought tomorrow using my eldest daughters Amazon prime for next day delivery. I'm a bit bothered things may be going too smoothly, something has to go wrong! I hope everybody is having a stress free run up to Christmas.  Here is another photo for our Christmas slideshow.


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

No Time For Work

    That's it I'm too busy getting ready for Christmas to work. I wish I could close my ebay shop until after Christmas and put a closed for Christmas sign on my two websites. Unfortunately it's not really an option but it's so hard at this time of year and there is nobody else but me to do the work. Last week I got a Christmas email from a customer who said Happy Christmas to you and all your staff! It made me smile, so that's me and the dogs then sitting in the little scullery at the back of our old house that we have converted into an office for me. My staff! What a laugh!
   I went to my Mum and Dad's house today and was thrilled when my Mum excitedly told me the robin has been on the feeder all day eating the special robin food I bought. She was so pleased. The food must be very nice as I thought it would take a week or two for the birds to get used to it. I think I may buy some for the robin in our garden.
  Here's another of the Christmas photos my youngest daughter has taken for the slideshow. It made me smile as Tom and I were out when she took it and our old beagle who is 14 is happily lounging on Tom's chair when he is not there and Cassie our little Yorkie is sitting at the window waiting for us to come home. What goes on when we are out!

Monday, 19 December 2016

Countdown To Christmas

   My youngest daughter has been taking photos ready for Christmas. We had the idea that we would make a video and add a slideshow of the photos to send to my Mum and Dad as they can't get over to us. I'll have to get it done for Christmas day so we are starting now. Youngest daughter is very artistic and all the photos are being carefully planned and taken. Here is the first photo, I'm not sure that they will be thrilled to see our constantly leaning Christmas fairy but I am bowing to her superior artistic leanings and will include it!

     There has been a lot of talk on the news today about 999 calls to the police that are wasting there time and we were laughing today about an incident that happened to my eldest daughter. She is in CID now so is not affected the same but when she was in uniform she did a night shift on the front desk of the police station. At about 11pm a woman brought in a goldfish in an ice cream tub which was swimming in a very sickly way on it's side. She said she couldn't find a local emergency vet. 
    My eldest daughter who is very kind and an animal lover spent nearly an hour, much to amusement of the other PCs on duty, going through the phone book trying to find an emergency vet. Unfortunately not one would agree to open the surgery at midnight for a goldfish and by this time the fish was floating in a very ominous way. The woman snatched the ice cream tub and as she left said "You have been hopeless. I'm going to write to the local paper about our uncaring police." Sometimes the poor police just can't win!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Holly Folklore At Christmas

  In my living room I have a wall I call my portrait wall. Here I display my old framed photographs and some paintings of people. I have so many I rotate them every few months so we have a change. I can't stop buying these as they are usually so cheap and I feel so sorry for these forgotten people. I always wish I could reunite these photos with family members but it has never happened yet. I decorate them at Christmas and for years used sprigs of holly but for the last few years haven't brought any in. I love reading about folklore and am always quoting the reasons for different old traditions. I was looking up the reasons for bringing sprigs of holly into the house at Christmas and it said it will bring you good luck for the next year. This is what has been wrong I thought I must bring some holly in. I'm really not that superstitious but no harm in trying.

I hung over next doors fence and chose some nice sprigs from their holly bush. I hope for nothing but good luck now. It also said in the item I read there are two types of holly male, the prickly type and female. the smooth type and which you bring in determines who will rule the house in the next year the man or the women. I had brought in the male type and when I told Tom this snippet of information he replied "Fat chance of that!"

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Birthday Celebrations On A Foggy Day

   It was my Mum's 91st birthday today. We didn't manage to get the bird feeder we were looking for in the end but I bought a little clip on platform for the bird feeder they have so hopefully the robin will sit on that to have his food. There was a lot of left a bit right a bit while my poor Dad was out in the cold until we managed to find the perfect view for my Mum to see the platform.
  The carers bought a lovely cake which they brought in with candles lit and they sang Happy Birthday. My Mum's niece's phoned to talk to her and really it was nice. I am so grateful how thing's are today. not perfect but better.

   It's been foggy all day today, never really clearing but at least none of that horrible constant drizzly rain from the other day. Tom and I went to the farm to buy some chicken food this morning and I had promised my youngest daughter a photo of the Alpacas in the field as she loves them. Sadly it was not really happening today. It was so foggy they are just look like little ghostly shapes. I'll try again on a clear day.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Here's To The Happiest Of Christmas's

    I have worked really hard today getting things ready for Christmas. Sometimes I wonder why I do it. Curtains have been washed and ironed, window cleaned and window boxes planted. Everything has been cleaned, except all the brass which still has to be done. This weekend all the decorations will go up. I feel exhausted just thinking about it all and I haven't even started wrapping presents! The thing is it really matters a lot this year. I know it won't be like previous Christmas's because my Mum won't be the centre of it all but she is here and for that we are so grateful.
    I obviously don't remember this photo of my first Christmas but I love looking at it because it seems to link me to those days gone by. I'll take lots of photos on Christmas Day and I hope my four children will enjoy looking back at them one day.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Cleaning Up Vintage Jewellery Finds

   I'm always on the look out for vintage costume jewellery. I am very mean with how much I will pay for an item. What I really like finding is a box of dirty neglected jewellery that needs cleaning up and sorting through. Luckily twice in the last few months I have found this. One was at a recent jumble sale. I found a little opticians box from the 1920s with dirty bits of jewellery in. I never even bother studying jewellery at jumble sales I just say how much and pay it, I don't think I have ever spent more than £2 for a box full and if you put it down for a second someone else will have it! In this opticians box was a few pretty brooches and a 1950s necklace with matching clip on earrings. I have already cleaned up and sold the 1950s necklace and earrings for a very nice profit but the other item that really caught my eye was this bracelet. It was so dirty you couldn't even see the colour of the stones. I washed it in ordinary washing up liquid with a soft brush and was thrilled to find this lovely old bracelet under the dirt. I don't know what the stones are but I am definitely keeping this, I love it.

  The other little lot was at a car boot sale. There were three items in a little bag. I asked the old man who was selling them how much and he told me he had no idea really of the value of them. He said he did a house clearance where the old lady had died and these were in her dressing table drawer. You can have them for 50p each. Despite feeling so sad for the old lady I was very pleased with my buys, One was a little string of pearls with a lovely diamante detail. My youngest daughter loved it so much when I took it home I gave it to her. She wears them all the time when she is out out in her vintage clothes. The other two items were this pretty little necklace with tiny mother of pearl birds. I'm sure this is very old. Perfect for me as I'm always on the look out for unique jewellery and I love birds!

  The third item was these enamel earrings. I thought they had an art nouveau look to them. I couldn't be more pleased with my thrifty finds and I really hope the old lady would be pleased that her items are being loved and used again.

  A quick add on Sammy the cockatiel still can't fly and is very wobbly on her legs but she rather annoyingly whistled along loudly to Frank Sinatra last night whilst we were watching him on the TV so she must be feeling quite bright despite it all!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

What A Difference A Day Makes

   I can't barely believe how different today was to yesterday. The sun has shined all day and there was barely a cloud in the sky. The winter trees looked beautiful against the sunshine.

   It's strange how much more productive you feel when the sun shines. I packed up all my parcels and faced the post office reasonably cheerfully! Then after an early lunch dusted and tidied every book in out living room which took me about an hour. We have books all over our house and I'm starting to think maybe I better join books anonymous. Most are lovely old hardbacks and I dread the day the house is totally full as I couldn't bear to part with them. 
  After feeding the ducks, hens and aviary birds in the garden I started planting the hanging baskets with pansies. It had got a bit late though and I only managed to get one hanging basket and one tub planted before it got dark but at least I have made a start. 

    I felt things had gone well today except for discovering one of the cockatiels in our aviary, Sammy,  had injured herself somehow. I'm not sure what has happened but she can't fly or perch. She is one of my hand reared cockatiels that I had taken out of the nest box to hand rear to give the parents a hand when when they had a very large clutch. I return them to the aviary when they can look after themselves but I always have a very special bond with these ones. She definitely looks very bedraggled and down in the dumps. Strangely after three years out in the aviary she still sat on my knee with her eyes shut while I scratched her head just like she used to love when she was a chick. I really hope she recovers.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A Grey Day But Our Spirits Lifted By Carers

  What a grey depressing day. Constant drizzle and fog shrouding everything at the same time. Southern Rail were on strike again so Tom had to take me to my Mum and Dad's house in between jobs. One of my favourite local views is the view of Epsom Grandstand as you come round from Tattenham Corner, to see the view across the Downs whatever time of the day or season of the year is beautiful. But not today you can't even see the Grandstand.

   In the end your spirit starts to match the weather! When I arrived at my parents house two of the carers were there who come very regularly. The carers are such kind people. When we found out my Mum would be having carers four times a day at home we were worried, you hear such terrible tales on the TV. My eldest son said "You mustn't leave Grandma alone with them ever and watch your drink!" How wrong we were. They have become like family members. Several of them are Hungarian and my Mum's favourite is a male Hungarian carer who is working over here to pay for his daughters University education. I always joke with her she has always liked handsome young men! They work on zero hours contracts, long hours for little pay yet are happy to come back in their lunch breaks to do extra jobs like washing her hair that they don't have time to do on visits. Just spending some time chatting with them this morning I felt the grey go out of the day. So we have learned never to prejudge and  remember despite what you see on TV there are still the kindest of people in the world.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Where Have All The Post Offices Gone?

  I was up at the crack of dawn today packing up all my parcels from weekend sales on ebay. Monday is my busiest day for posting and it is extra busy at the moment with lots of toys and gift items being sold and it was box after box all morning. Heres one I can't use now.

   I struggled up to the post office with 13 parcels and realised there was quite a queue. When it was my turn at the counter I could feel the hatred from a dozen pairs of eyes boring into the back of my head with every parcel I put on the scales. There is only one little counter and I'm sure I would hate me if I was behind me. I kept apologising and smiling and saying nearly finished now but most of the people still looked at me as if I had killed a close relative of theirs.
  I felt like saying this is not my fault. I can't help it if Royal Mail has been privatised and post offices have been shut all over the country. It's not my fault we have one post office counter within a 3 mile radius in a highly populated area. I'm sure it would have fallen on deaf ears though. Oh dear, I have got to face this every day until Christmas.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas Reindeer

   It was a lovely mild sunny day today and I think the birds must have been getting confused because of the mild weather as I heard them singing at 4am while I was lying there listening for my youngest daughter to come in after a party. She had told me she wouldn't be back until that time but I still was really wakeful all night listening for her. Once she was in that was it, I slept soundly until 8am which is a real lie in for me.
   We left early for the local garden centre to try and buy my Mum's birthday present, which was really crowded with people buying their Christmas trees. We stopped to look at the reindeer that they have every year. One year two escaped and there was drama in the area as the roads had to be closed off by the police while they were recaptured. The poor garden centre owner ran after one all the way to Croydon which is about 4 miles down the road. He said he never knew how fast a reindeer could run until he was running behind it! Anyway no such dramas today all seemed very calm.

I didn't think they looked very seasonal in the sunshine so there you are that looks better!

All the children really seemed to be enjoying the displays.

  Sadly the bird feeder I was going to get for my Mum was out of stock so I just have to hope it comes in with the new delivery on Thursday. I did buy these pretty pansies for our window boxes though so the front of the house will look nice for Christmas. There is a lot of work ahead.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Vintage Or Retro?

We went to the local Charity Saleroom this morning and they were very excited to tell us that they had opened a new vintage room. It has changed hands recently as the man who used to own the place has gone into an old peoples home. They certainly had gone to a lot if trouble and have clearly worked ever so hard as the whole place is looking much more organised. (Women in charge now I thought to myself!) But for the kind of things I sell I wonder if it will really help me. The prices are much higher in there and lots of the things I know don't really sell that well.

    It's all been so nicely arranged though and I didn't want to hurt their feelings so I did buy a very old pair of Laurel and Hardy dolls in their original old clothes but they were £8 and I'm not really sure how well they will sell.

   I tend to find on ebay that it's retro that sells well as people love to feel nostalgic about times gone by. Yet luckily for me lots of people selling don't seem to realise that. I have made more from 1970s kitchen items than Victorian ones. I wouldn't be surprised if I make a bigger profit on this 1980s Edd the Duck than any of the really old things, and he was only £1.

  I'm not quite sure what category the next item, a metal cat wine bottle holder, fits into but I thought it was really cute. I thought it would sell well to a cat lover who would love it for their Christmas table. 

    My youngest son, who has definitely inherited the hoarding gene that runs through our family looked at the metal cat and this is how the conversation went. "You're not selling that are you. Couldn't we just keep it for Christmas. It would look so nice on the Christmas table." "If we keep it for Christmas we'll end up giving it a name and then I will never sell it." "I have already given it a name, Professor." Oh dear I can see how this is going to end up.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Kind Gifts And Where Have All the Holly Berries Gone?

  Tom. my youngest son and youngest daughter work driving around severely disabled children. It is a very rewarding job and they are always touched by the gratitude of the families of the children when really they are only doing their jobs. They often get gifts given to them but where particularly touched by these presents today. One of the boy's sister had made Tom and my youngest son who work together these hand made chocolates and chutney. To prove just how much home made  presents can mean they haven't stopped talking all evening how kind and thoughtful it was. The chutney is going in the store cupboard for Christmas but I have a feeling youngest son is going to give in and eat the chocolates before then.

    Although I haven't put up the Christmas decorations yet I have been planning. A couple of weeks ago at my Mum and Dad's house I was admiring their old holly tree. It was a mass of red berries and looked beautiful. I said I must take a few low branches home soon as I love to put sprigs on top of the pictures around the house. It looks so natural and old fashioned. I couldn't believe it today when I was there every single berry had gone. Apparently Redwings migrating from Iceland have arrived and they stripped the whole tree in a matter of days. Whilst I don't begrudge them a good meal after a long flight they could have left me a few sprigs at the bottom. I wish I had taken a photo before the onslaught but here it is stripped bare. I don't know how they managed to fly after all that!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Enjoying Shopping Locally!

   I have been only shopping locally lately and it's working out really well. I can have little chat's with all the local shop keepers and it feels so much less hectic. The other thing I'm surprised to notice is we are definitely spending less and I think eating more fresh food and vegetables. There are four adults living in our house and two who pop in regularly at meal times. I have worked out a bit of routine for shopping locally now.
   In the morning before lunch Tom or I, depending on who is around, go to the bakers to get a loaf of bread which is always warm and fresh and then if we are having meat that evening go to the butchers to buy it. At about 5.30 I go out to the Co-Op and buy two or three types of vegetables, and a bag of salad, nearly all of which we can find reduced at that time of day. They always have reduced crumpets or muffins and even sometimes a big cherry or apple pie at this time of the evening. Fish is often reduced too and as I don't eat meat I will buy this if it is cheap enough. I try and buy one or two items for the store cupboard at this time which is getting low such as coffee, olive oil, cans of beans, custard (to go with the apple pie!) all the usual kind of things we need. I have also been adding one item for Christmas at the moment nearly always from the reduced shelf to put in the freezer. We do have eggs every day from our hens and Scoot will start laying soon as it is the beginning of the duck breeding season which also helps as we are omlette obsessed!  Most days I spend £10 sometimes £12, No topping up later in the week which seemed to happen when we bought the weekly shop and a lot more enjoyable.
   The bakers looked lovely when I went this morning and the Christmas display of food even nicer. They make it all fresh in the shop, it is a proper old fashioned bakers.  I just wish there was a way of capturing the smell in there.

  The wool shop always puts on a lovely display and what ever the celebration and I do love Mr And Mrs Santa Claus but maybe Santa has been on the mulled wine already!


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Pleasure Of Feeding Birds

   I went to my Mum and Dad's house today and my Mum and I sat watching the birds on the feeder outside her window for a long time. Her big hospital type bed is by the window and I can't begin to tell you the pleasure she get's watching all the birds. She know's them all and tell's me they have set times when they come throughout the day. I found that very interesting as when you only watch them off and on you aren't really aware of this. She said one thing that makes her sad is she sees the robin fly out of the hedge but it can't get on the feeder so just goes down to the floor, out of sight, to eat the seeds dropped by the others. She said she would love to watch it eating too.
  It's her 91st birthday next week and I'm going to the garden centre before then to see if I can buy a bird feeder like we have with a little platform for birds like robins or blackbirds. I'm so pleased I have thought of something she would like as I was struggling for ideas before. I really hope it works.

A bird on my Mum and Dad's feeder.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Wallace And Gromit Are My Style Icons

    My youngest son always jokes our house looks like Wallace and Gromits. A sort of homely 1940s influence with little quirky touches and I kind of know what he means. I bought this Wallace and Gromit clock radio a few weeks ago for £3. I know it would sell quite well but I love it. The whole little montage is so cosy and almost comforting. I have decided, much to youngest sons delight, I will keep it.

    Who could not love Wallace and Gromits cosy house. From the kitchen to the dining room it is just so retro. I'm sure Kirsty Allsopp get's some of her ideas from them.

I love a cosy retro Christmas and I'm sure anyone who loves retro style would have to agree with their choice of Christmas decorations!

   This has reminded me of an incident which happened when I was visiting The 1940s House at the Imperial War Museum with my two daughters. I was standing admiring the living room when my eldest daughter walked over to me and said "Getting decor ideas Mum?" An American tourist standing next to us roared with laughter and said "That's why I love you Brits you are always so funny." We laughed politely but when he walked away my eldest daughter said "I meant it." "I know you did" I replied "and I was getting ideas!" They know me so well.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Little Lost Toys

    Something I really enjoy buying and selling on ebay are toys. I cannot resist the little cute faces looking at me at jumble sales or car boot sales and I love to think of them being enjoyed again in a new home. I really should never have watched Toy Story. This little Russ Bear called Amelia caused much ridicule amongst other dealers when I purchased her but she sold within days and is off to a new home in France!

   I don't make vast profits on them but they sell quickly and keep a regular steady profit coming in. They are also very easy to find. Character toys sell well and these two sold within a couple of days. I spend ages photographing them to make them look as cute as possible so they have the best chance of finding a home. There's no hope really!

I'm always on the lookout for little lost dolls and found this one face down in an old box. She cost 50p and she was filthy but I cleaned her up and used upholstery cleaner on her little fabric body. 

   I searched all summer for an outfit to fit her and finally found one for 20p at the last car boot sale of the season. I hope she sells to a new home but at the moment she is sitting on a shelf in my office looking very pleased with herself. I joke with my family that she will sell in the end as one day she will be an antique. I say when you take all my old junk to Antiques Roadshow when I am dead and gone it will all be worth a fortune. They look far from convinced but you never know!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

A New Cooker And Well Done Sutton United

  We had our "new" secondhand range cooker fitted today. The gas fitter couldn't believe we had only spent £100 on it which was my limit of money. Little does he know my perseverance and patience when it comes to finding a bargain. I am looking for ideas for a cheap splashback and then I will take some photos. If I am on the look out for something I will wait all year if necessary for it to turn up at car boot sale or jumble sale or at the right price on ebay. In the end I will always find it. At the moment I am on the  look out for a retro looking slow cooker and a pair of vintage bedside lamps. I will find them and I am quite happy to wait until next spring if needs be to find the right items at the right price. No impulse buying in this house!
    I'm still dragging myself around feeling a bit sorry for myself but something that happened today has brightened me up.  For years we lived backing on to Sutton United's ground and Tom would regularly take our youngest son to watch their matches. We always knew how they were doing as we could hear every word the crowd was singing good and bad! Even though we have moved to Carshalton (What turncoats!) All I can say is well done Sutton United through to the 3rd Round of the F.A. Cup. Let's hope the run continues.

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