Saturday 25 February 2017

Welsh Treasures

Hello, thanks for popping in, it's so lovely to see you here.  Today I am linking up with Amy at Love Made My Home for Five on Friday, even though it's Saturday and I am chasing my tail again. 
So, this week was our half term holiday and like most teacher households, we have spent it catching up with the things we don't have time to do during term time.  We have helped our daughter and her husband with a bit of garden building, spent some time with my parents,    caught up with a good friend and done some admin and chores at home.  I have been with my lovely Holiday Husband and it's been relaxed, sociable and very satisfying.  However, in an unabashed bout of selfishness, we snuck away to the seaside in North Wales for a couple of days at the beginning of the week.  The cloud was so low that we didn't see the tops of the mountains - in fact, sometimes it was so low that we couldn't see the mountains at all - and the sun didn't shine once, but we didn't really care. 

We spent hours on the beach, walking, sitting, looking down on the sand and the stone and looking out at the waves and the birds.  We came home with earache,  aching legs, faces encrusted with salt and grinning from ear to ear.  Here are five things we saw while we were there.
1.  Welsh National Dress
St David's Day is fast approaching and it is customary for young children to wear traditional Welsh costumes to school on their national day.  We saw these hanging up at the front of a large supermarket - entire costumes, complete with hat and fabric daffodil.  For little boys, there were white shirts with red and black checked trousers, waistcoats and bow ties, the waistcoats adorned with a printed leek.  I have it on good authority that older children simply wear their national rugby shirts!
2.  A Mermaid's Purse
We have a saying in our house that whenever we go to Anglesey, I find a mermaid's purse, the eggcase of a shark or ray.  In fact, I found this one at Dinas Dinlle on the mainland, west of Caernarfon, a beautiful specimen.  It's curly tendrils, which attach the case firmly to bunches of seaweed, told me that it came from a shark rather than a ray and its large size and thick edges identify it as a nursehound case.  However, I think I prefer to believe that it belongs to a mermaid, who might keep her shiny little shells in it.
3.  A Spider Crab
I found this dead juvenile spider crab on Llanddwyn Beach on Anglesey.  It was very small and looked absolutely perfect.  Some people apparently think it's odd to take photographs of a dead crab but it seems quite reasonable to me!  Twenty-first century beachcombing.
4.  Brent Geese
As we arrived at LLanddwyn Beach, a small flock of Brent Geese flew in and landed in the shallows.  I spent quite a long time watching their comical behaviour - and Barbara, I thought of you! 
5.  St Trillo's Chapel
Tucked away on the promenade at Rhos-on-Sea is St Trillo's Chapel, one of the smallest churches in the country.  It's so small that we drove past it twice before we found it, despite the fact that we knew almost exactly where it was!  It is a little gem and deserves a whole blogpost of its own, but our visit was as much a part of this trip as the beachcombing and birdwatching so I wanted to share it with you here.
Happy weekend, everyone.  It's grey and gloomy here again.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Wednesday 22 February 2017

World Thinking Day

Hello, thank you for dropping in, as always, it's lovely to see you here.  Today is World Thinking Day, the day when Girl Guides and Girl Scouts all over the world celebrate their membership of this international organisation.  When I was a Brownie Guide, we were allowed to wear our Brownie uniforms to school on Thinking Day, as it was called then, because it was the most important date in our Brownie calendar, and our pack meeting that week would focus on thinking about Brownies in other countries and lighting candles (guiding lights?) for them. 
Thinking Day dates from 1926 and 22nd February was chosen because it was the birthday of both Lord Robert Baden-Powell, who founded the Movement in 1910, and his wife, Lady Olave, who was still World Chief Guide when I was a child. 
The Girl Guide Movement was a huge part of my life when I was growing up: I joined the Brownie Guides when I was seven years old, became a Girl Guide when I was eleven, became a Ranger Guide when I was fourteen and left the Movement when I went to university at the age of eighteen.  Along the way, I spent time helping to lead a Cub Scout pack (as a Girl Guide) and a Brownie pack (as a Ranger) in order to earn my service badges, so it would be strange if "Thinking Day" didn't flash up in my mind on 22nd February every year, wouldn't it?  And it would be strange if I hadn't kept a memento or two from those years, wouldn't it?

I still have my Brownie Handbook. It's quite fragile now as it was very well-used, so the cover has become detached, but here it is.  This is the book which taught me how to wash up: glassware first, then cutlery, crockery and pots and pans, in that order.  As I opened its pages yesterday for the first time in many years, so many of them were familiar.  I also have a few of the badges which were sewn onto my uniform - I suppose they were taken off when the dress was passed down to a younger sister.  You can see that I was a Seconder in the Kelpies - actually, you can probably only work that out if you were a member of a Scottish Brownie pack as they didn't have Kelpies in England.  I started off as an English Pixie but after we moved to Scotland, I became a Kelpie.  And as a sideline, can I just say that Kelpies are not very nice and would be a very bad influence on impressionable young Brownies?  It's probably the worst possible name for a Brownie Six.   I should also like to add that I am not of the beret-wearing Brownie generation shown on the cover but very firmly a brown-woolly-bobble-hat Brownie.  I am disappointed that I only have two of my interest badges: Hostess and Musician.  I was definitely more interesting than that, although I didn't achieve my Knitter's Badge, I am quite sure of that because according to the Handbook, you had to knit a pair of socks or a pair of gloves or mittens, using two or four needles!  Before the age of twelve?????  I couldn't knit a pair of socks until I was forty-eight and I have never knitted a pair of mittens.  Brownies were obviously cut from a different cloth in the olden days.  So, shall we move on to my Girl Guiding years? -

I don't have my Handbook but I do have a small number of Guide Annuals, one of my era and the rest dating from before I was born.  I acquired the older ones at jumble sales and fetes because I found them fascinating. 

 Yes, I still have my tunic - although sadly, not my hat, which was navy blue and, in my mind, made me look like an air hostess, in the days when we had air hostesses and they were glamorous and appeared to live exciting, romantic lives.  In those pockets I always carried the six essential items which every keen Guide carried if she obeyed the exhortation to Be Prepared for emergencies: a safety pin, a piece of string, a pencil, a notebook, a clean handkerchief (inside an envelope, to keep it clean) and a 2p piece.  The 2p piece was to use to make a telephone call from a public call box.  You would have to do this to call for help if your friend was injured, after you had bandaged her up with the clean handkerchief and the safety pin and left your other friend looking after her, because you only went out in threes.  It's no wonder I'm so risk averse, and that I need such a large handbag.  I enjoyed being a Guide and I learnt a great deal: first aid, camping (if you need to make a stand for your washing-up bowl out of sticks, I'm your woman), building fires, caring about other people, commitment, service, working as a team, leadership - you may have noticed my Nightingale Patrol Leader's stripes.  Would you like to take a closer look at my interest badges? 

Ah yes, the Little House Emblem which shows that I achieved all the badges in that group: Cook, Child Nurse, Knitter, Laundress, Homemaker and Hostess.  I am wincing as I type this because it doesn't seem very, you know, empowering for girls, does it?  I would like to think that the presence of Backwoodsman and Camper may go some way towards balance, and there are also writer, cyclist and local history badges there; perhaps it was not just when I was growing up that Guiding was a huge part of my life?  So, shall we move on to the 1980s and my Ranger Guide years? -

This is all I seem to have kept, my Handbook and an old novel I picked up in a second hand bookshop.  No uniform (navy blue skirt, aqua shirt and navy forage cap), no badges.  I do remember a grand day out at the Palace of Westminster where we met our local MP and were taken up Big Ben.  I was always one of three in the colour party at events but I never actually carried the colours because Louise was 6' tall and we would have looked ridiculous if she hadn't been in the middle.  We did quite a lot of activities with the local Venture Scout group (moving swiftly on) and quite a lot without our leader, who didn't like camping.  A Ranger Guide Unit was a safe place for a teenage girl to be in a scary world. 

So I may light a candle this evening, and I wish all former and current Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers around the world Happy World Thinking Day.

See you soon,
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x


Saturday 18 February 2017

The Stiperstones

Hello, thank you for popping in, it's always lovely to see you here.  The weather here is still overwhelmingly grey but the sun has tried to peep out a few times and on one of those days, the first Sunday of this month, the Best Beloved and I headed out on a little jaunt to stretch our legs and breathe in deep lungsfulsof cold, crisp air.  I have five photographs to show you, so I am linking with Amy at Love Made My Home for Five on Friday - even though it's now Saturday.  I know.  The time just got away from me yesterday. 
We went to The Stiperstones, the second highest place in Shropshire, a ridge crowned with rocky outcrops which are some of the oldest visible stones in the world, formed about 480 million years ago.  As with all ancient places, there are myths and legends which tell of their creation and you can read some of them here.  It is a lovely place to visit on a sunny day at any time of the year.
We parked the car, went through the gate and set off up the path towards Cranberry Rock. 

In a dream, Merlin, the great enchanter, saw two dragons fighting in the air.  They were evenly matched, neither one could overcome the other and eventually, worn out, they fell to their deaths, locked in an embrace, neither willing to cede to the other even as the life drained out of them.  Where they fell, one became the Long Mynd and the other The Stiperstones, the valley between them being Hell's Gutter. 
From The Stiperstones, we looked across to the other dragon, the Long Mynd.

We were surprised to see snow on the ground in the shaded places as we hadn't had any snow at home.

In the summer, the heather flowers and the bilberries are abundant. 

The temperature at the top is noticeably lower than it is at the bottom but the views are spectacular.


The sun is shining again today and as it's half term week here, I am hoping that augurs well.  We are off on another jaunt tomorrow, a few days by the sea.  If you have time, please pop over to Love Made My Home and see what everyone else is sharing this week. 
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Tuesday 14 February 2017

More Drops Fabel Socks

Hello, thank you for dropping in.   The weather here is still very grey, although we have had  a couple of sunny days to lift my spirits and tempt me outdoors - well wrapped up against the cold, of course.  At this time of year, I wouldn't be without my handknitted socks.  Not only do they keep my feet toasty and cosy, but their jolly stripes bring colour into the drabbest days and cheer my soul.  Who would fail to smile at the sight of these peeking out beneath their trouser hems? 


The other day I was at The Teacher's house and when I took off my boots she said, "Those are your Seaside Socks!"  I wrote about knitting a pair of socks with Drops Fabel yarn in November and this pair is my second (ad)venture with this yarn.  This colour is called Blue Sea and having initially knitted a pair for a sailing sister, I fell in love with it and had to knit another for myself.  Before knitting, it looks like this. -

After knitting, it looks like this. -
When I look at this I see turquoise sea, blue waves topped with white crests, sandy beaches and rocky headlands.  I see red and green seaweed, little striped topshells and tiny orange and yellow flat periwinkles.  Images from last years wonderful seaside holidays in Cornwall, The Scillies and Guernsey fill my head and those happy memories make me smile. All of this in a humble sock!


I finished knitting these socks while we were in Guernsey and took one down to the beach for a photoshoot.  I explained to The Mathematician, who has a good eye for composition, that I wanted a photo of the sock which portrayed its relationship with the sand, the sea, the seaweed and the shells, but I obviously didn't explain it very well because she took this, which wasn't quite what I meant! -
Bless her!
 See you soon.
Love, MrsTiggywinkle x