Monthly Archives: September 2017

Paint, Autumn Colour and Upcycling

Despite my desire to do something different I’ve drifted back to the garden. The pictures are taken and the temptation to use them is too great to resist. The top picture shows part of the bookshelf. They will not be short of reading material, though they may short of light to read by. Despite being near both a school and a lamp post the gardens have no power, which could be a problem as time goes on. It seems that as the winter progresses, the number of attendees falls.

At least the broken window won’t be a problem, though it did cost £70 to fix it in the end. We weren’t able to dismantle it ourselves to fit the new glass so we had to call the professionals in.

Painting is going well, with multi-coloured panels (depending on available paint) cheering the place up. The stationery trays (which were fruit boxes last week when Julia got them from the grocer on the market) were painted using the same system. I wonder if I should tick “upcycling” as a category, or if that might be a bit too grand to describe painting three boxes with left over paint.

Note the cake stand. Julia found it in a school bag that had been dumped in the school skip, with other lost property. She has an affinity for cake stands, and we have several at home, though we rarely use them, as we aren’t that sophisticated. And I’d rather just cut it and eat it instead of showing it of on a double-decker plate.

The library shelves are looking fuller now, with a number of the titles looking familiar. I’m sure I used to have copies of those books, I think, before I realise…

I may go for “upcycling”, considering the planter is a re-used litter bin striped with bits of window blind.

Gingerbread and Vitriol

I could start with my normal Saturday opening – “After dropping Julia off at work…” but I’m feeling like doing something a little different today. Same goes for the photos of the Mencap garden yesterday morning. They are OK but I’m just feeling like something more is needed. (As the post developed, not quite in the direction I intended, it became a little negative. It developed naturally, as I wrote, and I decided to let it stand. Not quite sure if it’s too negative or too personal. Let me know if you have any views on the tone.)

And that is why I am showing you pictures of cookie cutters.

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Novelty Cookie Cutters

I’m torn here. I love alliteration and I am committed to resisting American English. In the case of cookie cutters I feel as if continents are colliding in my head. I really don’t want to say “Cookie Cutter” but some irresistibly force makes me do it. There is no natural alternative – Biscuit Bodgers just isn’t going to do it. I’ll try Biscuit Cutters and see if that works.

I found the cutters recently whilst decluttering. They had disappeared without being used during one of the chaotic times on the farm. We made a lot of gingerbread with the group and these cutters (with six different designs) seemed a good idea.

The problem was that after the introduction of the Farmer’s Sister into the mix everything went wrong. It started with her telling me “we’re all on the same team” which is a management shorthand way of indicating we weren’t all on the same team. Then it progressed to her shouting at me because she said I thought she was stupid because I had a degree and she didn’t.

All I had done was proof read something I’d been asked to proof read and send her the corrections. It seems that this was wrong – I should have sandwiched the suggested changes between telling her how good she was, how valued she was and how hard-working she was.

There’s a vulgar term for this, but rather than expose my gentle readers to it I’ll post a link to it for those of you who are interested.

The truth is, I don’t have a degree.

I also, at that time, didn’t think she was stupid. I just thought that she had made a mistake that needed correcting. She had used a word wrongly. I can’t recall what it was, but it was something like uninterested/disinterested. It’s no big deal. I have to think hard when using affect/effect. Getting something like that wrong doesn’t make you stupid. If someone had corrected me on it I’d have thanked them and looked it up to learn the lesson fully.

No, what made her stupid, for I did eventually have to admit she was stupid, was her refusal to learn or improve.

We were stupid too – we should have realised that it was time to move.

However, that all belongs to another story, and stupidity was probably the least vile of her personality traits.

After the team comment, and the shouting, she started a turf war, and kept moving out stuff. We had to start moving it back home every time we used it, and eventually, things got lost in the confusion. That’s how the cutters became lost.

Other things disappeared and turned up in bins or dismantled in the workshop. Like over-sized children the Farmer and his sister knew nothing of how they got there. She took down the group’s art work and binned it. She once needed a book for kitchen use, so she took the garden diary book off the shelf, tore our notes out and took the book away.

Sorry, but it just seemed the appropriate time for this to be mentioned, and once I started, I thought I would finish.

Anyway, back to biscuits. I found the cutters. I will make some biscuits.

Here, to provide a happy ending, are some previous biscuits (and some peppermint creams.

 

Julia’s Excellent Day Out

Once Julia gets your email address you are doomed, as the secretary of the Flintham Ploughing Match found to her cost.  We do actually know her from our work on the farm (she used to give us apples and horse manure) so a request for freebies wasn’t totally out of the blue. Thanks to her generosity Julia ended up with free tickets for her Thursday group and two tickets for the VIP parking.

It was, by all accounts, an excellent day. The weather, which had been borderline at the beginning of the week, brightened up for Thursday so it was a great day for it even if it was soft underfoot in places. Generally the going was good, though they did have to close the second show ring because of drainage problems.

This is better than a few years ago when they had to cancel due to the weather. This year it is Southwell that has been cancelled. It’s a shame, because a lot of volunteers invest a lot of time in putting these shows on.The problem is that ploughing matches can really only take place at one time of year, and that time of year is prone to being wet.

As you can see from the photographs there was plenty to do and there was a display of old relics. I will say no more…

She brought several pies back – we will be eating them tonight.

My Day

I had to send Julia off to work on her own this morning because I had an 8.50 am appointment with the doctor and the timing didn’t allow enough leeway to get from one side of town to the other.

This brought back memories of sending the kids to school as I fussed round making sure she had her flask and sandwiches (ham and mustard on one lot, ham and pickle on the other – variety being the spice of life).

It wasn’t much of an appointment, just to confirm my new tablets weren’t causing problems and discuss a letter from the hospital.

I ended up being prodded and questioned by a medical student on work experience. There’s probably more to it than that, but that’s effectively what it was. They have to learn somehow, besides, the doctor offered to do my anti-coagulant blood test, allowing me to get on with my day instead of returning for the test at 11.30.

After that I shopped, called at the Arnold Sorting Office to pick up the parcels I missed yesterday, and called at the jewellers.

There, I scrapped in two gold medallions. Although the price of gold has gone down it is still high compared to a few years ago. As a result I got more for the medallions as scrap than I had been trying to obtain as a retail price when I last went to an antique fair.

If only all profits were that easy.

As I prepared to leave a local collector entered the shop. I haven’t seen him for years so we spent half an hour catching up. He’s aged over the years, his beard has turned white and he’s a grandfather now. It was a bit like looking in the mirror, apart from the grandchildren.

I’m seeing more people from the past now that I’m getting round the shops and markets, but also finding that several have died, which is a bit of a shock.

No photos today as I forgot to take the camera.

 

 

Bicycles and the Military Cyclists

Today, the image of soldiers on bicycles seems incongruous, but in the late 19th century we were not blessed with quite so much technology. We take personal transport for granted, but at this point in history you either walked or, if you were rich enough, used a horse. Bicycles, in their way, were a quiet revolution.

The earliest cycle design dates back to 1534 when Caprotti, a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci, sketched a design. The first modern cycles, without pedals, were used in the early 19th century and pedals appeared in 1863. The Scots were at the cutting edge of bicycle design at that time (a fact I throw in for Tootlepedal). Designs moved on to the “ordinary” or “penny farthing” design.

Thomas Stevens used a penny farthing on his trip when he became the first man to ride round the world on a bicycle in 1884-6. Annie Londonderry was the first woman to travel round the world with a bicycle, in 1894-5.

The first British military cyclists to see action were the messengers attached to the Jameson Raid in 1895-6. They appeared again during the Second Boer War of 1899-1902, when one unit was equipped with specially adapted tandems to ride along railway lines and guard them from sabotage. Both sides used bicycle troops as couriers, scouts and raiders.

Unlikely as it may seem to a generation that needs four wheel drive to cross open country, bicycles were seen as the solution to moving quantities of troops rapidly across open ground and in Switzerland they were able to travel on terrain that horses could not. With a network of roads available to them bicycle troops were seen as cheaper, quieter and easier to train than cavalry.

Both sides used bicycles in the Great War and they were also a feature of the Second World War (the Japanese using 50,000 bicycle troops in Malaya),  Vietnam and the Tamil Tigers’ uprising in Sri Lanka. The Swiss disbanded their bicycle troops in 2001, whilst the Sri Lankan army still has bicycle troops.

At the beginning of the Great War the British Army had 14 battalions of bicycle infantry ready for use. Many were used on coastal defence in the UK, and others served on the Western Front, though they were not particularly useful until the resumption of open warfare at the end of 1918.

Although this may not seem like good value it was at least as effective as the cavalry, and bikes, unlike horses, didn’t need food or stables and didn’t produce manure.

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Painted enamel brooch of the Northern Cyclists – about three times life size, which is why some of the detail looks a bit blurred.

The Kent Cyclists served on  the North West Frontier during the war and, along with the 25th (County of London) Cyclist Battalion served in the Third Anglo-Afghan War.

The 2/10th (Cyclist) Battalion, Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) served in the North Russian campaign.

The Army Cyclist Corps was disbanded in 1920 and all the units were redeployed by 1922.

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Sweetheart brooch of the Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion. They spent most of their war guarding the Yorkshire coast. The fact that it is still there speaks highly of their efficiency and a job well done.

History in a Junk Box

There was a time when dealers used to have junk boxes full of clapped out coins, broken bits and base metal medallions. I certainly did. When I bought mixed boxes at auction the detritus from the bottom, after being carefully checked, would end up tipped in the junk box.

When buying, the junk boxes of other dealers were my natural habitat. I’ve bought some good stuff out of junk boxes. It seemed like they would never end. Then ebay came along and  it all ended up on line.

The contents of the box could cover anything from ancient coins to petrol station giveaways, via Georgian medals, Victorian adverts and pre-decimal coins. One of the staple items was the mass produced commemorative medal. They really started in a big way with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and ended in the 1930s with a flurry of royal events – George V’s Jubilee, the abdication (though this is shown only by the  items of Edward VIII (which aen’t really rare, whatever dealers may say) and, finally, the coronation of George VI.

This is the medallion Nottingham produced for the 1897 Jubilee of Queen Victoria

This is the Edward V!! medal from Nottingham – note the foresters supporting the coat of arms.

The colour changes for 1911, as do the supporters on the coat of arms, but the general idea remains the same. There is a second version of the medal, often known locally as the unofficial version (see below).

There is a medal very similar to the 1911 coronation medal – made for the 1914 Royal visit. It isn’t just in recent years that the Royal Family has been unpopular, there were seven attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria and one on Edward VII. In 1914, to encourage public approval George V embarked on a programme of visits. I’ve seen the itinerary for his visit to Nottingham – he visited Arnold and Mansfield too, though I think he just waved at Arnold in passing.

Royal visit to Nottingham (above( and Dundee (below).

Things seemed to tail off after that, with a much smaller selection being produced for 1953. To set it in perspective, rationing was still in force in 1953, and the fledgling Matchbox company struggled to produce model cars when metal supplies were diverted to fighting the Korean War.

This is one of the later medals, from Mansfield Woodhouse.

I have plenty more to show you yet, so don’t worry about me running out for the next few weeks,

Zen and the Art of Procrastination

It’s time to start sorting out my life. How many times have you heard that? I know I’ve said it several times.

As things stand, I’m not reading books, I’m not reading blogs and I’m not getting enough decluttering done. That’s not to say that I’m idling my time away, I’m still writing, I’m still cooking (in a determondly average sort of way) and I’m spending time on ebay.

I’m happy with the writing time but the time on ebay needs decreasing. Originally I was looking at it with a view to learning current prices and looking at starting to sell on ebay again. It hasn’t quite worked like that and I’m back, once again, to collecting.

The intention was actually to clear the house and live a life of zen simplicity interspersed with the holidays we’ve not had over the years.

It has struck me recently, as I’ve sat cogitating my hospital experience and the nature of mortality, that I’m on the downward leg of the journey to three score years and ten. I’m 60 next birthday (as I was recently reminded), and this isn’t a two way street.

I’m also mindful that health problems prevented my parents carrying out their retirement plans. They still had a long and happy retirement, but it wasn’t the one they had planned. In fact Dad is still with us and still enjoying himself. However, he would probably be enjoying himself more if things had gone to plan.

So there you are, a slice of philosophical misery. Not very cheerful but something I wanted to talk about for some time as it’s important, and I’m interested if anyone has any views.

I’ve been meaning to write it for some time but I never get round to it.