Thursday, 8 December 2016

Oh Christmas Tree...

Oh  Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging
Not only green when summer's here,
But also when it's cold and drear.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,
Thy leaves are so unchanging!

Oh  Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,
Such pleasure do you bring me!
For every year this Christmas tree,
Brings to us such joy and glee.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,
Such pleasure do you bring me!

Oh  Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
Oh Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!

Oh  Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,
You'll ever be unchanging!
A symbol of goodwill and love
You'll ever be unchanging
Each shining light, each silver bell
No one alive spreads cheer so well

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,
You'll ever be unchanging
The brilliant trees at St Martins West Moors Tree Festival - well worth a visit! So many clever ideas and decorations made by the very young as well as the more mature members of the community. Our little doves from UCF were flying well.
I think these were just as lovely [if not more so] than the ones on Kirstie's Handmade Christmas last night.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Feeling In The Pink In Salisbury...

Tuesday began with my dental checkup. Following the physio appointment last week [purchase of new shoes and orthotics] I now discover I need treatment on a dodgy molar [paid the total now, with further work to be done after Christmas] I am definitely falling to pieces!
We then went to the Gift Shop at Kingston Lacy. I don't often buy fancy NT gifts for people, but this was on behalf of someone else. I loved the way that they have decorated the area round the shop. The white posts outside the Laundry have become candy striped barbers' poles, and there are many lovely wreaths, trees and reindeer to enjoy.
There was a paper chain where you could write your hopes and dreams for 2017 on a strip and add it to the garland. All very pretty. I was sorry we did not have time to meander round the house, as I have been told by friends it looks stunning inside right now

As we continued on our journey, I suddenly spotted something I had been looking for all through the summer.
Pink hay bales! 
A Dorset guy decided to raise awareness for breast cancer by producing pink wrap for the hay instead of traditional black or green. For each roll sold, a donation goes to the charity.This year, more than £18K has been raised.
And there we were, driving along, when we saw this! Bob stopped the car and I hopped out to take a picture. Better late than never.

Then on to Salisbury, and the Park'n'Ride. This is a very good, frequent and inexpensive service, and much better than trying to park in the city centre. But it was really crowded, and lots of us were standing down the centre aisle.
My knee was hurting, but as I was positioned on the step up to the rear section of the bus, I sat down on the step and read my book!
When we got off, I muttered to Bob that I wanted a badge. Liz had a London Transport one when she was pregnant which said "Baby on Board" I would like one which says "Grandmother in her sixties with a dodgy knee" Bob says I don't look like a GIHSWADK so I mustn't complain if people don't leap up to offer me a seat. 
It was surprisingly cold. We frivolously spent £3 on two warm hats in a CS. Photos will follow, at some point. 
Salisbury Christmas Market [official photo, not mine] was better than Winchester's we thought - although many of the stalls were the same people. We looked, and sampled - but didn't buy anything.
A lovely lunch in the absolutely ancient Cross Keys Restaurant which dates back to the 14th Century. "Ooh, that makes me go all goosey" said the lady at the next table. Not sure about that - but we certainly did enjoy our food.
I had forgotten to transfer my orthotics into my old lace-ups, so Bob suggested I invested in a second pair. We had to walk all round the block to get into Boots - a smash'n'grab raid earlier in the day meant the doors on one side were cordoned off! But putting the new Orthaheels in my footwear made an immediate difference.
With an added spring in my step, we walked back to the bus stop and went back to the car, then on to Maplin. Having recently found an long forgotten Starbucks card in the back of a bag, we were able to treat ourselves to drinks [and a shared Swedish Almond Bun]
I shall diet after Christmas, honest I will!
The rest of the week will be taken up with Christmas Related Church Activities, so Tuesday's Day Off was very necessary.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Making A List, Checking It Twice...

This week I shall get round to wrapping up the gifts. I am a bit later than usual this year - but the stuff is all sorted. Fortunately I belong to a family where we show love to one another all year round, and do not measure the relationships by the amount of money spent. We try to give things which will be useful - and don't just spend money for the sake of it. But for those who have forgotten that we are now in December, and have yet to organise their gift giving, a well known online retailer has helpfully provided a list of their top selling Christmas gifts for this year. Here it is [just in case you are short of inspiration]

  1.  Instant digital camera
  2. Electric throw
  3. Emoji plush smiley pillow
  4. Cafetiere
  5. Duck Pond Game
  6. Desk Organiser with photo frame
  7. Hatchimals
  8. Loft Minimalist Rustic Water Pipe Table Lamp
  9. Digital Photo Frame
  10. Fitbit Wristband
  11. Family Tree Decal
  12. Spontuneous Game
  13. Coffee/Wine Mug
  14. Aromatherapy set for inner peace
  15. Floating Bluetooth Speaker
  16. Zoomer Kitty
  17. Himalayan Pillar Salt Ionic Air Purifier
  18. 3D Wall Clock
  19. Ferris Wheel Bookends
  20. Ozobot
  21. Husband and Wife Pillows
  22. Runaway Wheeled Alarm Clock
  23. Cutting Board
  24. Window Bird Feeder
  25. 3d Projector
  26. Colour Changing LED Nightlight with speaker
  27. Desktop organiser lamp with built in Fishtank
  28. PieFace Game
  29. All new Kindle
  30. Removable Vinyl skin for phone charger
 I have no idea what half these things are. I am not sure my nearest and dearest need or want any of them. I had to check a number of them out - look at this lot [I saw the 'wine' mug in a CS last week for 99p]
And if anyone in my family did feel a burning desire to possess a "steam punk, vintage retro, loft minimalist, rustic water pipe table lamp" I would send Bob out into the garage and ask him to create one for me - I definitely wouldn't spend £30 on it online!!
[And I should point out that the bulb isn't even included in the price]

It  strikes me that some people have forgotten what Christmas is all about !

Monday, 5 December 2016

Send Not To Ask For Whom The Bell Tolls... tolls, very sadly, for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Another bleak moment in this annus horribilis.
I love the sound of church bells - Saturday afternoons, hearing them pealing for the new brides leaving the church door, Sunday morning, bidding the faithful to worship ...even Friday evenings, when the Kirby Muxloe ringers practised for what seemed like hours on end, perfecting their English change-ringing, based on mathematics as much as musicality.
...and I love all the other bells too, the clanging bell in the school playground, marking the end of the lunch hour and the return to lessons, the ting! of the bell on the shop counter, calling assistance from someone in the back office, the tinkling of the handbell summoning the lady's maid to attend to her mistress in Downton, and pretty jingle bells everywhere in the Christmas Season.
But this week, news of the closure of England's Oldest Bell Foundry, which has been operating from this site since 1670 - the manufacturing company officially being established in 1570, but work dates back to 1420, - nigh on SIX  HUNDRED YEARS.
You can read the full story here to by Gentle Author, the lovely writer of the Spitalfields Life Blog.
This is such a sad state of affairs - here on this site have been cast some of the iconic bells of our nation - nay, of the world
Big Ben [as any fule kno, Big Ben is the bell, not the tower in which is is housed] 
The sound of these chimes booming out over Westminster is synonymous with the Mother of Parliaments. Somehow hearing them on the BBC at midnight always conveys a sense of security for me!
Similarly, the Liberty Bell, in Philadelphia - an equally important symbol for our friends across the Pond.

The Queen recognises the work of this ancient company, and has visited on more than one occasion.

In 2012, a set of Royal Jubilee Bells were made here, and were carried down the Thames on a barge at the start of the river pageant. Now they are in St James Garlickhythe [now that's a fun name for a church!!]

The 9-11 bell, a gift from the City of London, to the people of New York, following the Twin Towers destruction in 2001 now hangs in St Paul's New York, very close to the site of the atrocity. The Bishop Of London at the time described it as 'The Bell of Hope'

Here were cast , after WW2, the replacement bells for St Mary Le Bow and St Clement Danes [known everywhere from the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons] They have sent bells all over the USA and Canada, and to Russia...

The WBF designed the bell rung at the start of the 2012 London Olympics. Here is a portion of the programme from the opening ceremony
"Bells ring out the changes of our days. They call us to wake, to pray, to work, to arms, to feast and, in times of crisis, to come together. Almost everyone in Britain lives within a sonic parish.. Anyone born within hearing of the Bells of St Mary Le Bow in Cheapside, London, has the right to call themselves ‘cockney’... Above all, bells are the sound of freedom and peace. Throughout World War II all of Britain's bell towers were stilled, to be rung only in case of emergency. They hung in dusty silence until the day came when they could ring in the peace."

I appreciate that the site is so close to the City, 'prime real estate' as they say. But it seems a dreadful shame that this listed building, where so many wonderful bells have been created should have to give way to commercial pressures.

I think I shall console myself by re-reading one of my favourite detective stories, which involves change-ringing - Dorothy L Sayers 'Nine Tailors'. 
 "Nine tellers mark a man." In olden times at funerals the church bell was tolled three times for a child, six times for a woman and nine times for a man. The tolls were called tellers. Hence, "Nine tellers mark a man"; that is, nine tolls of the bell denoted that a man and not a woman or child was being buried. Through facetiousness or error this may have been corrupted into "Nine tailors make a man."

A final quote from Lord Peter Wimsey
They have neither speech nor mouth, but their voice goes out to all nations

The bells of Whitechapel will be sorely missed [the BBC have recently asked for ideas about news stories in 2016 which have not been well covered. I have emailed them and suggested the WBF]

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Pause In Advent #2 [W] W [JD]

WWJD - #1 was W for Word. #2 is W for Waiting.
I am not sure which of my friends posted this clip on Facebook this past week, but it is only 2 minutes long so do have a look. Everything has to be instant these days - order before 8pm and we will deliver it tomorrow. Don't worry if the bank account is low, tap the credit card on the machine and you can have it now
It does us good sometimes to wait for things, to save up for things, to prepare for things. Watch the clip and ponder on the benefits of this waiting time. 
Btw, in case you are wondering, the purple and pink candles are the traditional Catholic Colours, although even Pope Benedict [the one before Pope Francis] apparently opted for red and white candles. I quite like the idea of the pink-Gaudete-joy for week 3.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

All's Fair...

Or is it Fayre or Faire? I think I prefer the simplest spelling...but whatever, it is our Christmas Craft Event at church today. As well as goods on sale, there will be a few make-and-take craft workshops for both adults and children
My sale goods are all packed up but I have a few other things too.
I have prepared a little woolly hat - this is my exemplar for the 'make a tree decoration' craft session.

Last time I was in Norfolk, I spent an afternoon painting jigsaw pieces [its OK, it was a 50p bargain from a CS as they couldn't guarantee all the pieces were there]

These are for the children's craft table - so they can make gift tags/hanging ornaments

The Christmas tree uses green pieces, the reindeer brown and the snowflake blue [I also painted white ones] A few Hama beads complete the decoration. I've prepared instruction sheets too [email me if you want a copy!]
 One final thing, I have put together some bags of Reindeer Noses - 8 for the regular reindeer [Maltesers] and one for Rudolph [hard candy gum-balls from the sweet-shop by Poole Quay] Not suitable for under 8s [choking hazard] but fun for adults. A well known coffee chain is selling similar ones- but at around three times the price! The label was a freebie I downloaded from the Internet

I am really hoping we get a good attendance - our profits are all going to a local charity - Coping with Chaos, which helps families of children with different disabilities and special needs. This is a brilliant parent-led group, supporting around 400 families across Dorset. They have a particular problem at the moment- the children loved to ride Elfin, the pony, who is stabled a little way away from their Centre. Sadly last week, someone stole the horse box, so Elfin's not getting about to help the children at the Christmas. How utterly mean! Just in case you happen to see it...

And if you are in Ferndown today, do please drop in to UCF anytime between 10 and 4, for fun activities, brilliant bargains, and superb refreshments - and lots of festive cheer!!

Friday, 2 December 2016

November Needlecraft

With the exception of the die cut cards and pencil boxes- which aren't needlecraft, all my craft output this month has been sewing or knitting related.
And much has been preparation for the Christmas Fair tomorrow.
Lots of pencil boxes and boxes of dominoes painted and decorated
Tissue holders by the dozen
Greetings cards - some die cut, some with fluttering doves
I have made felt owls and colourful songbirds, pencil rolls, and more. Some epic failures like the clay and the lollystick bracelets - but some brilliant successes- like Rosie's Pram Liner.
I doubt that December will be very productive on the craft scene - I tend to be more in the kitchen as Yuletide approaches.
And I suspect I shall be avoiding The Birds for a bit - it's all getting a bit too Alfred Hitchcock round here, with these feathered creatures suspended all round the house, watching me! [Did you know that the original story was set in mid century Cornwall, and the birds are a metaphor for the Luftwaffe attacking London in the Blitz]