Saturday 31 October 2020

Happy Halloween!

But who needs pretend monsters at the moment? Anyway, gloominess aside, here are the girlettes and their friends the witch and the black cat, brightening up the room with their little lanterns!

Minnie wanted to be a witch weeks ago. Her dress is made from one of Mum's scarves, with a pumpkin sewn on. She has a wand made from a little stick sent by Linda Sue. Racer loves her sparkly pumpkin and the too big shoes I found in a bag of dolls clothes. I had to use a little blu tack to fix them on. 
Madeline went understated, just using the colours of Halloween. Though her little bow looks a bit like cat ears. 
The witch is from the tearooms in Headcorn that Mum and I used to go to regularly. They hang around the rooms and I finally bought one a few years ago. They are inspired by the Pendle Witches in Lancashire. 

Thursday 29 October 2020

You Can See The End Of The World From Here

The storage container I have been going to is on Sheppey, in an area called Halfway, a strange name which comes from the pub of that name in the village, and that got its name from the fact that it was halfway between Sheerness and Minster. After depositing stuff, if I am on my own, I go to Sheerness for a coffee and wander on the beach, and if I am with Andy and meeting my brother we go to Ken's Café in Queenborough, where my Mum lived as a child. (Not in the café obviously!)

Views of Sheerness Docks. It looks like a rocket launch site.
I sat on this bench for a little while.
This starling posed for me. When I went again on Monday I found a dead one on the beach. I hope it wasn't this one. 

It looks even more like a launch site from here.

Mysterious buildings in the distance, and two ladies who look as if they can see me but they were too far away. These buildings are from WWII. Not sure what they are. Next time I go on my own I am going to walk further along. 

A water tower. These are interesting things, of all sorts of design, and remind me of UFOs. The reason for them being a tower is to use gravity to get water out. (I expect you all know that but I didn't!) They can be drinking or non-drinking water, depending on use. They are filled by a pump. They came into widespread use in the mid nineteenth century. You see a lot in rural areas in this country. Some have been converted to live in. I like the ones on the buildings in New York. Here is wikipedia on them as it has some interesting examples, including the one on Shooter's Hill just up the road.
The older wall at the bottom of this picture is Garrison Point Fort, built in the 1860s to improve upon existing fortifications on the Medway. 
Below are the masts of the SS Richard Montgomery, a cargo ship built during WWII. It was wrecked off the Nore sandbank in the Thames Estuary in August 1944, whilst carrying a cargo of munitions. About 1400 tonnes of explosives remain on board. It is closely monitored by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, as it still presents a significant hazard. Here is a BBC report on the ship, which says the masts are due to be cut from it soon, as they may be producing a strain on the ship. The contract to do that will be for 5m. I hope whoever gets it knows what they are doing! A unique job opportunity, cutting masts off of sunken explosive filled cargo ships.
Painted on the steps to the beach, is part of this poem by Ross Barber. I love the lines 'But whisper to yourself, that you can see the end of the World from here. 
Southend across the water. I watched a programme about a hotel there last night. It looked really lovely. I have only been there once, but after watching the programme I might go again. It is famous for its mile long pier, which has a train to get along to the end. 
I am not sure what animal this is. It was attached to a little old car in Tesco's carpark in Sheerness and I liked it. 


Wednesday 28 October 2020

Mouse Girl, Cat Card and Doll Matters

Last week was my birthday. The first one without my Mum which made me sad, but I had things to make me smile too, such as this cat card from Ollie, and Mouse Girl from Linda Sue. 
Here is MG, watching television with Oliver. They like programmes with moving things in, which can be from nature or not, doesn't matter as long as they move. 
The girlettes have been suitably clothed for Halloween. Here, they are choosing the fabric for their costumes. They each had very different ideas about what a Halloween costume should be, but all like the colour orange so that is good.
Since finishing Mum's house, I have embarked on another long and exhausting task-that of clearing this flat so that we can decorate, do the floor in the kitchen and sitting room, and possibly move. Since our electrical troubles last year, it has never been quite back to normal, and with the addition of the things I brought home from Mum's, I had lost all hope of ever getting it there. My brother came up with a storage place that is quite cheap, if I don't count the petrol it takes to get me there, (and once all the stuff I want to move is there then I won't have to go there for a while), so I have been clearing, sorting and moving stuff out. At first I couldn't see any difference, but I am beginning to now. I have been taking pictures along the way and it looks like one of those places on the hoarder programmes. I will share before and after pictures when I have finished. If I ever do. At the moment it seems a long way off. Anyway, the long ramble is to explain about the Polish wooden dolls below. This is my collection of them, and they were packed away in what I thought was a moth proof bag. It wasn't and a few of them had suffered quite dramatic hair loss. Fortuitously, I found some doll hair mohair I have had for a very long time, just as I found the bald dolls, so have attempted to give them hair again. Not sure how successfully but I tried!
This is obviously the before picture, and there is no after picture yet. 


Wednesday 14 October 2020

Catnip Tastes Good!

Oliver has been with us for ten months now and he is a very happy cat. He hardly gets called Oliver anymore. We call him Bollie mainly which comes from Bolivar rhyming with Oliver. (Almost) Andy calls him Chewie, as he likes to chew fingers. He used to bite with more force, but now he knows us and that we don't mind, he just has a little chew, and closes his teeth around your finger. He is very funny and makes us laugh every day. Here he is on the bed. Lily had just had some catnip. Usually, on her daily excursions into the sitting room and kitchen, she heads straight for the back door, where, just outside, there is a pot of catnip. She chomps big bits of it and is very happy with that. Yesterday it was raining, so I brought her some inside. She had a little chomp, then I showed Bollie. He went absolutely crazy, attacking it, rolling in it, biting it and eventually falling asleep in the middle of the mayhem! Lily just watched him, and went up to him to sniff him. We were worried when we first got him, that he would attack her, as she is very frail. But she has got him under control. She hissed loudly at him a few times, and he is scared of her! We are not sure if he knows that she is old and delicate, but whatever it is it works. He often sleeps for ages on the bed not far from her. We still don't let him stay in there if we are going out, but he is pretty good. Unlike with Cassie, who he chases and leaps on when he comes in in the morning all excited and wanting to play. She knows how to deal with him too though, and has given him a few scratches on the nose. She sleeps up high and is very good at eluding him by running under a chair or the table. And sometimes they make a terrible tag team, chasing and terrorising a mouse together. Cassie is not to be trusted with Lily, as she will scare her off the bed, and underneath it to hide in Andy's sock drawer. So she doesn't get to go in the bedroom that often. She doesn't really want to anyway. 

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Devil's Beetle and Thistle Brick

A Thistle brick, from just where it should be with that name. It is made of fireclay, mined in the beautifully named Bonnybridge in Sterlingshire. The mine and brickworks was owned by John G. Stein and opened in 1897. I am not sure when this brick was made. The brickworks and mine carried on until the 1960s. I didn't bring this one home, as it was pretty embedded and bricks are so heavy!

There was also a Nettle and Bluebell in the range. 
Image from the brilliant Grace's Guide. 
On another site with the history of the company, it said that John Stein and six other men worked for 10 hours a day for seven days a week for three months before they reached seams of ganister (a close-grained, hard siliceous rock found in the coal measures of northern England, and used for furnace linings.), fireclay and coal. Dedication!
As I was leaving, I spotted this little creature. It is a Devil's Coach Horse Beetle. It curls its abdomen in defence, and looks like a scorpion. It did that very well for me as I nearly dropped a stone on it that I moved to get a picture. It is fast moving, preferring to run rather than fly and lives on invertebrates. It can also bite people. I wondered what this one would do when the tide came in. I hope it chose flying over running! Its latin name is Ocypus olens. Olens means smelling, stinking, odorous, fragrant. The beetle exudes a smell when threatened. Apparently they are common in gardens, but the only other place I have seen one is in Norfolk on a childhood holiday. It was associated with the devil as it points its abdomen towards the threatening creature in a scary looking way. It was said to have eaten the core of Eden's apple, and if it is killed, the perpetrator is forgiven for seven sins. Its original name is Dearga-dol, which is Irish for 'Devil's bug'.
This iron deposit is on the wall near the stairs. I am not sure how it came to be like this but I like it. 
Here are a couple of my finds. (Not the bottles, they are from Essex.) The flat snail shell is lovely. I don't know what kind of snail it is but I will have a look. 
A piece of fence, two swans and four little people. 


Sunday 4 October 2020

In Need of T.L.C.

A doll with a lot in common with us all I think.

She is also in need of clothes so will get some soon. I have a little collection of handmade clothes I found in a junk shop in Brighton for very reasonable prices last year. At least she has pants!