Just being ME

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you all love tea ...

From the results of my November poll, tea has been voted the number one drink amongst many of you receiving 65% of the vote. Coffee came in second with 30% of the vote. Drinking neither received 5% of the vote, who was it who justs drinks warm water out there, was it you?

How do you take yours? With tea leaves or bags in a teapot, or just a bag in a mug or in a cup with a saucer, with milk and sugar, without sugar, just with milk, with sugar and lemon, just lemon, or do you drink just plain tea, so many questions? And do you put the milk in first or last? There are many ways to drink tea and many places to drink it, from the humble old greasy spoon to the plush old Ritz!

It looks as though he enjoys a nice cup of tea! I wonder if this photo was taken in a Lyons Tea shop? Within these quaint establishments customers listened to live music, and were served by waitresses dressed as air hostesses called ‘nippies’.

The tea shop tradition began in 1864 when the female manager of the Aerated Bread Company started to serve food and drink to her customers, favouring her most loyal patrons with tea. The idea rapidly spread throughout Britain like wildfire. This was partly because tea shops provided a place where unchaperoned women could meet friends and socialise without damaging their reputations. How coy?

Click on this link to take you to Yorkshire Tea to read the benefits that the good old English cuppa can bring to your health.


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my cosy haven of a home ...

The nights are drawing in and what better time to make your home a cosy haven, perfect for chilling out and relaxing. You really don't need to spend a lot, accessories go a long way to transforming a room. Above, you can see my lovely salt lamp which J discovered for me in Lidl, I have had it a few years now and it has started to split down the middle, hardly surprising as formed from a natural substance. I will be upset when it has to go, but hopefully we will discover another one to replace it.

You can't tell by this picture, but these battery operated blossoms from M&S, a present from my mother-in-law, give off a blue twinkly glow in the dark, so pretty.

And last but not least, these lovely twig lights, bought from Tchibo a few weeks back, for under £10, run off the mains, and they make the corner by the fireplace give off a nice warm glow.

Feeling toasty yet?


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dotty about spotty ...

This afternoon I grabbed everything I could find spotty around the place, what is it about me with spots and stripes? My lovely tall jug, a quite recent win on ebay for under £15, the little pot possibly part of a cruet set bought at Ardingly for 50p, the yellow egg plate with only two cups (tall order, but no-one out there has the other two have they?) I also bought on ebay, the eggs on legs, which incidentially I don't think is a genuine Carltonware as the pattern on the socks is wrong I bought at a trash and treasure sale, fido and the smaller jug I have had for a long time and can't think where on earth I bought them from. These are little treasures I am going to keep forever. I would love to buy and sell, but would be useless, as I am such a hoarder and get so attached to anything that falls into my possession.


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just like mum used to make five ...

This is beef cobbler, a simple dish which would have been very popular when my mum was cooking for us kids back in the 1970s. Just make your usual beef mince for the base and top with homemade scones, although I made the cheat's version for this evening and used Aunt Bessie's dumplings from the freezer cabinet, this is delicious with good old mash. I love all sorts of vegetables but J is just a peas, sweetcorn, carrots and french beans el dente man, you may have been wondering why my meals are never served with anything more adventurous, well this is the reason why!

I really appreciate good photography of food, since taking photos for my blog, I have come to realise how tricky it is to take a good picture of anything edible, I usually give J his meal to be getting on with, as by the time I have taken a half a dozen photos to get a half decent one, the food is half cold!

The plate my old cobbler is served on is 'Alfama', which was a pattern made exclusively for Tiffany & Co by Poole Pottery, I just have a set of six dinner plates originally acquired by my mum and stepdad who often used to make trips to the Poole Pottery factory shop, bringing back lots of useful china. Mum always knew she had to give me first refusal on some of the pieces, and of course many I purchased at cost price, my mum was too generous, she would have never of made her millions!

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lots of hornsea bunnies and an imposter ...

This is my collection of bunnies and one imposter, can you spot him? All came from either an antiques fair or fleamarket. I have had these as part of my vast collection of all things vintage for many years now. They were made by Hornsea Pottery and from their red clay range, and were produced in the 1950s, I love them but not many can, as today they sell for very little money, which always surprises me. You may have had a glazed example very similar to one of these which were very popular in the 1960s/70s, I had one, but like a lot of my childhood things I threw away when I left home at the age of 21 to set up my own home, at the time I wasn't interested in taking this sort of thing with me.

Sadly a few years back Hornsea Pottery fell into the hands of the liquidators, so yet another pottery closes its doors for good. I am not particularly a big fan of the work of Hornsea, but I do love these bunnies, not just for Easter but for life!


the wandering zippy ...

I discovered a great competition on Times Online, called Wandering Bears, entries to be in soon to win a 3ft Hamleys Noel teddy worth £199 in time for Christmas. For 18 months roving reporter Syd the Bear has been beaming us pictures of himself on his travels around the world, taking in many of the most famous landmarks on the planet. The aim of the competition is to send in entries of your bear in a holiday pose situation. Click on the link above and take a look at the pictures in the gallery, they are really amusing. Unfortunately Zippy pictured above in sunny Egypt, from the children's TV programme Rainbow, cannot be entered into the competion because he isn't a bear!

After seeing Zippy on his travels, I had a rummage around in my photo drawer for my childhood autograph book, I remembered having these signatures. I remember Geoffrey, Rod, Jane and Zippy from Rainbow appearing at the opening ceremony of our school fete when I was kid, I can't remember whether George and Bungle turned up, I didn't manage to get their autographs if they did!

Do you think I could get any money for these on ebay!


red gingham, hearts, flowers and gingerbread men ...

Just wanted to show you the contents of a parcel which made a speedy delivery through the post during last week. I must admit to having had one of those senior moments not remembering what I had ordered to be receiving a parcel, so you can imagine my surprise when I opened up and saw all these sweet items. I discovered
Ruby Red Crafts after seeing the little gingerbread men on Rachel's blog Ruby Red and I instantly knew I wanted some, then I discover lots of other makes with red gingham, well then you couldn't stop me, I ordered three of the little men, a set of gingham coasters, a heart gingham pincushion and a hearts & flowers gingham hanger, the little aqua heart came as a gift, great because my colour scheme in the lounge includes aqua white, so this was perfect.

I am not a crafts person, although I would love to have a go one day, especially after seeing what all you gifted ladies are up to, but I do appreciate quality workmanship and these items from Ruby Red are really well made.


well, how did you do ...

Tell us all what you bought yesterday? Remember I told you about Buy Nothing Day a while back, how many of you forgot it was yesterday? I was very good and I just bought a chicken as we do need to eat!

After spending a few hours in Brighton making holiday plans, as we were a bit early for our train home, as it was handy I popped into M&S Simply Food at Brighton Station to pick up something for our this Sunday's roast, to be quite honest I don't often buy food in M&S, I am being contraversial here, but I do find it to be rather overrated, no offence intended to any M&S devotees out there.

I don't think their choice of advertising campaign helps, you know the one 'this is not just food, this is M&S food', I really cringe when I hear these adverts describing their products with the Dervla Kirwan voice over. For example, my chicken was an 'Oakham' one, well, was it bred in Oakham, where is Oakham, and which Oakham are they talking about, on investigation it doesn't come from Oakham at all, it is just a trademark!


my mum, my best friend ...

Today would have been my mum's 68th birthday, born in South London in November 1939, more or less at the start of WW2, she lived with her mother and her father's parents, her beloved Nan & Gamps in Surrey, although she did spend some of her early childhood staying in relative safety, one place being Wimborne in Dorset, as Surrey could at times be too close for comfort, one house at the end of her road was bombed to the ground! She only really started to get to know her father when he came home from service in the RAF in 1945.

She passed away through illness in 2002. I still find it hard to believe she isn't at the other end of the phone, running to the door to greet me at her home, or sitting in the chair she always sat in, and being force fed everytime I visited, sometimes ending up having two meals in a day!

Every year, my step-dad and I make the pilgrimage up to the crematorium taking with us a lovely arrangement of flowers, it is set in acres of beautiful Sussex countryside, where green woodpeckers, great tits and many other lovely birds and wildlife including deer can be seen. It is such a tranquil place and I would be quite happy to reside there when my time comes.

Mum was such a happy person, full of life and always put everyone else first with her love and generosity. As you can see from these photos above of her growing up in the 1950s she was a beautiful young, fashion concious girl, blessed with the figure of a model, of those genes I didn't inherit! Although I believe I have inherited many of her characteristics, when I talk, laugh and smile I can hear and see my mum in me, being gladfully reminded of her everyday.


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treacle puds with proper custard ...

J needs comfort food, England are losing 2-0, well I say that but I am never too far behind in the queue when treacle sponge puddings are being served up straight from the steamer, teamed with proper homemade Bird's custard, well who could refuse?

Doesn't your mum have such an influence on you, my Mum always used this same brand custard powder and I have carried on the family tradition.

A car-boot find for all you china addicts out there, these dessert bowls are Staffordshire Tableware 'Autumn Fayre'.

Bird's is the original custard brand, established in 1837 and loved by generations ever since. Bird's Custard is made and served in millions of homes where proper custard is at the heart of a good pud!


has someone flipped ...

I enjoyed reading the comments left on my 'rain' post, we have been having rather a lot just of late, my three water butts around the garden are now bursting at the seams, so much so the water is now just gushing down the drainpipe into the drain which is such a shame. It got me thinking, a few months back my friend Fiona sent me an e-mail with this photo as an attachment, so I thought I would see what you thought of these creations. They are called High Tide Heels, and are for the fashion-aware scuba diver keen to show off swim-toned legs. First seen on the catwalk of Jean Paul Gaultier, now crying out for a UK stockist. Come on, Clarks!

Would you wear these?


the weather picture for this evening over the south of england ...

The heavens have just opened and it is absolutely bucketing it down outside, yes I know we don't want another hosepipe ban, and yes I know the garden needs it, but over the past few days every time I try to get rubbish to the bin or kitchen waste to my compost bin, it has been raining, soon I shall have rats setting up home outside my back door! Moan over, I do actually quite like the rain and don't really mind being out in it as long as I have got my hooded coat on me (I don't tend to bother with a brolly these days), and it is rather nice to stand watching it from the window too.

One type of weather that we seem to get a lot of here in the British Isles is rain. Rainfall starts out high in the sky when the tiny water droplets contained in clouds merge together and start to grow in size. Eventually the droplets grow to such a size that they become too heavy to remain floating in the air and fall out of the cloud towards the ground. You may, however, have noticed that not all rainfall is the same. Sometimes the raindrops are small and not easily seen. This is called drizzle and usually comes from low, grey clouds. At the other end of the scale the fast heavy rainfall that we get in summer storms tends to be from larger towering clouds. The amount of rain that falls varies from country to country and often changes between the months of the year. In the British Isles, it is generally wetter in the west and drier in the east and it also rains more in the winter than in the summer.

I know what you are thinking, no I am not a meteorological anorak, but an anorak and wellies would come in handy when out and about in this weather!

* I love pink hearts *

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pigs ...

I hope you like pigs as much as I do, my dad was a farmer, I was born on a farm in rural West Sussex and brought up surrounded by pigs of the real kind, hundreds of them, but then I grew up and I now have only three. The floral one at the back of the shot is of no particular note but I just liked him, the little black pig was from a carboot sale for 50p (does anyone know where he may have been made?) of which I could never sell as he is just too sweet, and last but not least my lovely pig made by Rye Pottery which I bought at Ardingly antiques fair, he was not so cheap but I think worth every penny!

What do you think of the tradition to smash a money bank which has no bung, to get the money out? It is customary after doing this to make a wish, replace the money bank and spend the money on 'good things'. I could never bring myself to smash up a good bit of china (although saying that I would in a Greek taverna!), but then again I wouldn't put the money in, in the first place.

If like me you like pigs, pop over to Sandi from The Nostalgia Fairy who has a prized possession of a pig, and if you like pigs of the real kind take a look in at Sara from Farming Friends, who has recently been posting photos of her new born British Saddleback piglets, they are so cute, I think you will agree?

you make me laugh award ...

I would like to give this award to Michele at Cowboys & Custard, she has a wicked sense of humour just like mine. I can assure you her posts will never fail to put a smile on your face!


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gampy ...

This photo of my great grandad John (Jack) Edward Parrott, was taken at the same time, in the same studio (Herbert Tear, 12 Clapham Road, London SW) as the one of my great nan in the post below, I just had to show you him as a young man, he was so handsome. He was proud to have been born within the sound of Bow Bells, a lovable character with a real cockney sense of humour, he always showed cheek and always wore a smile. He served in the army in the First World War, thankfully he was one of the fortunate to make it though this most unforgettable period in our history.

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old nan ...

Today, as it has been very gloomy outside, I have spent some time looking through a few old photographs, feeling a bit fragile I did have a few tears, especially when looking through pictures of mum. The photo above is of my great nan, Ethel Parrott nee Rice, the mother of my mum's father. Seeing the pin on her dress inspired my post below.

I was still at primary school when my great nan died and I remember going into school and crying the whole day through, being somewhat full of emotion as I am. Looking back she must have had a great influence on me, even though I was too young to really remember why or how. The last years of her life were not good as she was crippled by having to endure numerous strokes and confined to an armchair most of the time, my great grandad 'Gampy' looked after her well and he lived well into his nineties, suffering no illness but thankfully dying peacefully of old age.

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keepsakes ...

Perhaps the most accessible keepsakes that could be purchased in the mid to late 19th century were pieces of inexpensive jewellery of sentiment. More often made of non-precious stones and materials, such as alluminium, steel, jet and it substitutes bog oak and guttapercha, some of which were love tokens, some memorial pieces and some given in friendship. When enhanced with semi-precious materials like agate, ivory or coral, the jewellery became especially colourful and decorative.

Since sentiment and symbolism go hand in hand, each motif on this jewellery had a meaning. The cross stood for faith, the anchor for hope, the serpent for eternity and the tree for life. A variety of love and friendship motifs, such as the heart, clasped hands or the single outstretched hand, bows, love knot, pairs of doves, and cherubs carried messages. The language of flowers appeared on many pieces, ivy for friendship, the forget-me-not for remembrance. Some contained locks of hair, particularly those worn as memorial pieces and some personalised with a woman's name.

If I should from this world
Depart you'd have a bit of my
Heir my hand and heart if we
Could no more each other see
You could still remember me
Ann Elizabeth Brugh, January the 16 1853

The pins in the photo above are not family pieces, but pieces found over many years of searching for other's not so cherished treasures.


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smoked haddock from the smokery on dungeness beach ...

Smoking or curing is a centuries old method used to preserve food, but sadly this art is dying and there is only a few that remain with the skill and dedication, one of which is Jim Moate.

The fish gets its distinctive flavour and natural colour from using Oak dust, the fish is smoked either hot or cold. Jim never uses dyes, dips or preservatives, most supermarket smoked fish would have these added.

There has been a Smoke Hole, or Herring Hang, at The Smokery on Dungeness beach, for almost 200 years, the fisherman who lived here used it to preserve their catch.

Jim Moate has been smoking fish for many decades now, he learnt the art during his years as a fisherman living and working at Dungeness, by talking to other fisherman and from using recipes found on the old site at Pearl Cottage.

book tag ...

My friends are joining in with this book tag, so why not join in too. Go to Amazon and in the search line type in your name and see what comes up.

The book I have chosen is Letter to Louise by Pauline Collins, a very emotive story which thankfully has a happy ending.

In 1964, in a bare room in Waterloo, a young actress gave her baby for adoption. They were to be parted for more than 20 years. The actress was Pauline Collins and the baby was her daughter Louise. This is a memoir of the months leading up to that day in Waterloo. In it, Pauline Collins recalls the idyllic time spent in rep in Killarney, playing in a different play every night, seven days a week, living in digs and falling in love. After the season had finished, she found she was pregnant. Frightened and alone now, she decided to have the baby, hiding the fact from family, agents and friends. Going to ground, she waited for the baby to be born in a home for unmarried mothers, buoyed up by the kindness and humour of the other residents, and the nuns who cared for them. Yet soon she came to realise that she had no choice but to give her daughter away. Reluctantly she got on with life, finally achieving success and personal happiness. But she never forgot Louise and their story has the ultimate happy ending, the day they were reunited 22 years later.

Am I allowed this one too, as I love the cover!


children in need ...

Don't forget Children in Need this coming Friday. Our annual cake sale is taking place at work tomorrow, so I shall be taking in some extra pennies, and putting on some extra pounds, oh well it is for a very good cause!

Update - many cakes were generously donated for the sale, I ended up with a slice of carrot cake topped with cream cheese icing, a slice of lemon madeira and a coffee/walnut cupcake, I could have bought the lot, but had to be selective!


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pg tips chimp ...

Have you got your cheeky Chimp yet?

Today I am taking a day's leave, so I am just having another cup of tea and maybe a few biscuits for my elevenses! I hope to get outdoors in a minute, but spotted another photo opportunity, I just can't put my camera down these days, how easily can an interest develop into an obsession?

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chicken in chinese black pepper sauce ...

A few years back I discovered a great stir fry sauce, produced by the great Ken Hom, we loved it, and then Ken decided to take it off the shelves, then I discovered a similar sauce produced by Amoy, they decided to take it off the shelves too, so ever since we have been searching high and low for a replacement. Yesterday whilst strolling around Worthing we noticed a sign pointing us in the direction of a lovely oriental store down Bath Place and voila we found a jar, bought two! Tonight I am going to use it, so I hope we like it, if the meal tastes similar to the delicious sizzling platter version we have at our local sitdown Chinese restaurant, we are sure to love it.

Chicken in Chinese Black Pepper sauce for two people is really easy to do, infact you could use any oriental sauce. First I cut two large chicken breasts in Chinese takeaway size pieces, you know what I mean, then heat up a stirfry pan with a little oil until sizzling, then throw in the chicken and flash cook, then just throw in the sauce and stir around for a few seconds until the meat is coated, you can always add at this stage any stirfry vegetables you like, then I transfer it into a dish and place in the oven on a low heat to keep warm. After I have washed the stirfry pan up, I only have one, I make egg-fried rice, first heat up a little more oil and then add one large beaten egg and quickly stir around, then throw in enough rice for two, which I precook, and just stir through until piping hot. Don't forget to serve on hot plates, don't be fooled by the photo above, these chopsticks and oriental dish have been used for a little artistic licence, we use a spoon to eat ours!


happy days spent down on the beach ...

This is such a lovely photo of our beach taken in 1912, I would love to know if the families of these people still live within the local area.

This photo would have been taken close to the stretch known as Bungalow Town. Development of the town started around 1890 and by about 1909 there were 260 bungalows, constructed from redundant railway carriages with roofs of corrugated iron, stretching from Lancing through to Shoreham-by-Sea. Originally they were inhabited by people from the entertainment world but later became weekend and holiday homes. At the beginning of the Second World War most of the bungalows still standing were removed, the beach was cleared, and defences put up for the war effort.

One property was named Dar-es-Salaam in 1913, after a coastal city in south-east Africa, some of the occupants who lived in Bungalow Town were a source of great amusement to the locals of the area, as they would walk about with hardly any, or no, clothes on!

All information taken from Britain in Old Photographs, Lancing and Sompting edition by Philip Fry.

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hamish the merrythought bear ...

Hamish is a growler bear, I asked him to model this for me, he was feeling quite 'manly' until I stuck this on his head. I mentioned two treats in my previous post well this is the second, a lovely 'blue domino' shower cap, from Sainsburys.

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The photo above is for Fuchsia Girl who lives on the beautiful Isle of Mull, 'wish I was there'. Hamish has got tartan pads and paws, he is a true Scottish bear at heart, even though he was born and bred in Shropshire!

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cornishware cup of tea and yorkshire tea biscuits ...

I am feeling a bit sorry for myself today, I have a sore throat and muggy head, three of my colleagues at work have colds at the moment, so it would be no surprise if I am coming down with one. Just got back from food shopping at Sainsburys where I spotted these 'new' biscuits, I bought two treats for myself today, and these were one of them; popped into Boots to redeem a £5 No 7 voucher on a new blusher to put some colour into my cheeks and to stock up on cold/flu tablets and throat sweets! Before coming home I popped into a table sale being held at my local parish hall to meet up with two of my friends Fiona and Jackie who were selling their very professionally hand-crafted cards for all occasions there, I came home with a mixture of birthday and Christmas ones, so I am very pleased.

I love cards, maybe take a look at Joanna from Higglety Pigglety, Michele from Cowboys and Custard and Ginny from The Flour Loft blog to discover some lovely cards which they make.


poppy appeal ...

Don’t forget to wear your poppy with pride.

In Flanders' Fields
John McCrae, 1915

In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' fields.

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buy nothing day ...

My little bear friend wants to tell you something. Nicola from Four Friends and a Blog lives over in Canada and she says on November 23rd is Buy Nothing Day, I wonder if we mark this event over here? It would be a good idea to pull in the reins and tighten up the purse strings for just one day, or if you just can't quite manage to totally abstain, then maybe grab yourself a bargain from a charity shop instead? My friend up top cost pennies from a carboot sale, he seems to think he is a Peter Fagan 'Colourbox' bear?

Thanks Nicola for the information, she says. 'The reason for this date being chosen is that it's the day after US Thanksgiving and is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year as everybody rushes out to do their Christmas shopping.'


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mini pavlova ...

I just wanted to show off the redcurrants picked from my garden, frozen and sweetened with icing sugar, served on a meringue nest filled with extra thick cream, scrummy!

seven things about me ...

Nicola from Four Friends and a Blog has tagged me to find out seven things about me, so here goes :)

I hate ironing.
My first car was a Mini.
I was born, and spent my childhood years on a farm.
My shoe size is a six.
I love the smell of almonds.
I love Mr Whippy ice-cream.
I hate the skin on a rice pudding.

I'd like to pass this tag on to Joanna from Higglety Pigglety

Sara from Farming Friends has tagged me for a Funny, Random and Weird fact :)

Funny - I remember as a kid once having a boil on my bottom cheek, ouch!

Random - when my mum was expecting me, she had cravings for lobster, piccalilly and Tizer, I dislike them all, yuk!

Weird - a short time after meeting J I was amazed to discover that his date of birth was my home telephone number at the time, spooky!

I'd like to know a funny, random and weird fact from Michele at Cowboys & Custard


Me in 1965, in colour!

My mum, my brother and me

My brother in 1963, in black and white!

two babies, one pram ...

Silver Cross is Britain’s oldest and most prestigious pram maker, the Yorkshire based company has been hand making prams since 1877. Silver Cross has been dubbed the Bentley for Babies, two famous occupants being Prince William and Prince Harry.

Pop over to Joanna at Higglety Pigglety to read her memories and to see her lovely painting of a Silver Cross pram. Seeing this gave me an idea for a post, and after searching through my photos I have found these three above, one of my brother and one of me, looking very comfortable in our lovely pram.

I had a toy version too back in the 1960s which was home for my dolls, I remember two of them, Chatty Kathy and Tippy Tumbles, did you have either of these dolls?


Can you spot the difference?

the tudors ...

Well another week at work done and dusted, John is off fishing, so I have had a relaxing evening with my bowl of kettle chips catching up with the goings on in The Tudors, a lavish drama on Friday BBC2 at 9.00. Forget the historical (hysterical) inaccuracies I am enjoying this series, although in history Henry VIII was strikingly good looking in his twenties, and of tall stature. It was only in later life that he became the grotesque figure as portrayed, possibly brought on by his failure to produce a legitimate male heir to the throne. Maybe we could be more convinced of this series' authenticity if Jonathan Rhys Meyers had auburn tints run through his hair and a box to stand on!