Saturday, 30 January 2010

A giveaway for my 100th post.

Well, I've been blogging for over a year now, somehow the first year anniversary passed me by, so I decided to have a giveaway to celebrate 100 posts, and now is the time. As knitting is so in vogue at the moment, though I know for some of us it never went out, I decided to make it knitting-themed, and the above photo shows some of the goodies going in a box to be given away. As with the last time I did this, all names will be printed off, entered into a hat and one drawn at random. So email addresses would be helpful to inform the winner please.

It was September 2008 when I introduced myself to the world of blogging, to start putting down random thoughts and 'stuff' to anyone who would be mad (or desperate) enough to read. Only two did.... which I have to admit was a bit of a disappointment. Well, when I say 'bit of' you will know that for days I walked around in a blue funk, weeping and wailing that yet again, nobody liked me. I couldn't even make virtual friends. What was wrong with me. After much hair pulling out and gernashing of teeth, I decided to persevere though.

I have never attracted huge amounts of blogging groupies, of commentators (or commentors, whichever is correct). The most comments I have had left has been 17, the highest number of followers, 20. Small fry indeed compared to some with dozens or even hundreds of followers and comments left every time they post. They could post that they had cut their toe nails and doubtless there would be dozens of comments left. But, it's OK, small is good, small is beautiful, and in this case it's not size that matters, but the quality. So I like to think I have a small, but perfectly formed group of loyal followers.

I have learnt a lot along the way whilst walking the blogging path; new things to make, books to read that would otherwise have passed me by and denied me a real treat. I have found again my love of crochet and quilting. I have tried new things that haven't always worked out... needle felting for one. Creative journalling is another, though I've modified my interest in this to the creative calendars over at thirdagemusings (thanks Jill for the inspiration). Mine will never be as good, as arty, as free flowing as hers, but I am having fun, which is the main thing. At one point I was stuck though.. here I had this lovely new book (courtesy of The Pink Pig company), full of empty pages and promises/hopes to be fulfilled, of being arty and clever and have folk oohing and aahing over it, positively salivating at my wonderfully creative calendar. Well.. you gotta have hope!

One thing I have decided about my calendar is that in future, after January, it will be different from Jill's and the normal calendar with a square per day and so on. I shall use wonderful scrap book papers and other embellishments, just have a square for a day when there is something I particularly want to say. Though it's difficult to find anything as I keep a daily journal, so all my thoughts and ideas go in there. But January was all about hope, it being the beginning of a new decade, and of being inspired. It seems many of you felt the same, something to do with the blue moon possibly? But I have been inspired to take up my creative writing again and so Wednesday is Writing Day when I do lessons and exercises, work on stories or pieces I want to submit to magazines, and have already submitted one to YOURS which is under consideration, and had a different version of my Norfolk Village blog published in our bi-monthly all colour village magazine. I am inspired to read more classic literature this year, and am reading (for the umpteenth time) Pride and Prejudice at present, a lovely cloth-covered old version with illustrations.

Next month the calendar pages will be pink, it will all be to do with LOVE of course, with hearts and pictures of things and people in my life which I love, which are important to me, and words of love too, from some of the romantic poets. I have lots of ideas, and thanks to the Panduro catalogue, lots of lovely scrapbooking papers to decorate future pages with, so it may not be as good as some, but I am enjoying playing and being creative in my own way.
And just a final note.... we went out yesterday, and drove along Sunny Hunny seafront towards a snow storm blowing in off The Wash. It looked much more exciting and dangerous than the pictures depict... a mobile camera is OK but not brilliant. A couple of hundred yards further along and it was like driving through thick grey fog along pristine sparkling white roads. The cliff top car park was almost devoid of cars, just one hardy couple battling the elements which hadn't been there when they set out probably. It was spectacular.

And this shot of the lighthouse doesn't do justice to what it actually looked like either, but it will do!

So, those of you who want to be included in the knitting giveaway, just leave a comment with your email address please or some way of getting back to you if you don't want it displayed, BEFORE FEBRUARY 14TH, which is the cut-off date. And thanks for sticking with me, those of you who have.

Monday, 18 January 2010

The joy of books and secondhand bookshops.

Whilst there can be no doubt that the Internet has made it easy and cheaper to buy books, with the competition between the big book retailers bringing down the price of books to the advantage of us, the buyers, to my mind there is nothing like going into a proper bookshop. I use the internet for my new book purchases generally, and occasionally that hard to find secondhand one has been purchased online as well, but I have to say that when looking for old books to buy, I do have to feel them, smell them and just see them properly really.
So it has been sad to see so many of our favourite haunts closing down and changing to selling their books via their websites. We would eagerly look forward to an hours' drive and a morning spent in a favourite bookshop, but now there are so few to choose from, half of our favourites have closed down.
However some still remain, and one close to home being only ten minutes away. The shop has been run by the same lady for thirty years now, and is a real treasure trove. We used to visit regularly, but haven't been for years when suddenly, last Saturday on a wild, wet and windy morning, we decided to abandon the chores we had planned around the house, and visit this bookshop instead.
You walk in and are surrounded in the first room by fiction mainly, and lots of childrens books, plus cookery and craft. Into the next room where you find history and topography, gardening and wildlife. Out into the hall and there are some more special and specialised books, plus more gardening and nature and geography. Upstairs you will find classics and music and theatre in one room, together with old newspapers, old prints and musical scores. Another room houses more history and religion, and another has a miscellany of books, a real hotchpotch which haven't been able to find homes elsewhere. These are great shelves for browsing, you never know what you may find here.

There are also modern books, secondhand, like the Kate Atkinson and Diana Athill above. The beautiful leatherbound copy of Rebecca, which is illustrated (see end of blog) cost me less than half the price of a new paperback of the story I bought at Christmas - it is in my mind to read more classics this year you see, at the moment it's an old favourite, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, a small, illustrated cloth bound copy which is old and well-loved, with a lovely smell and feel when it's in your hand, something modern books don't have. And the top book is another oldie with a beautiful cover, by ELIZABETH JANE HOWARD, published by the REPRINT SOCIETY in 1956.
Then there were two more books to add to my ANNE OF GREEN GABLES collection. I never read these books by LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERY as a child, never even heard of them until I happened to see a Canadian television production of the first book on television, and I was hooked. I have all the stories in paperback, and am now collecting the hardback, but only with dustjackets, though I will buy a clothbound if I see one, to replace with a dustjacketed one likewise. The one on the left is from 1961 bearing the rubber stamping of DERBYSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL SCHOOL LIBRARIES and the one on the right is much earlier, being inscribed inside 'With love to Cecily, December 1941'. I do have a preference for books which have been inscribed.

Now I know you can buy those lovely little Observer books on just about any subject, but I am so happy when I find one on a subject which interests me, but is something different, like the above. This has some lovely illustrations inside as you can see from the two examples below.

Plus it's a smallish book, and I like those very much. Fortunately the print in this particular instance is easy for me to read, it's not always the case of course, with small books.

Along similar lines is this flower book, again a great handy size and lots of lovely illustrations.

Below is the book on the top of the pile..

and this is one of the illustrations from the REBECCA book ...

So I got quite a nice selection, with change from twenty quid... can't be bad!
Just to say that the next posting will be my 100th, with a giveaway, more of which later.
Thanks for dropping by again.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Time for a rant... ranting space to rent... feel free to add a rant!

Sorry, but this is my space, it IS the THREE R'S blog and one of the R's does stand for RANTS - the others being RAVES and RAMBLINGS for those of you who don't know - so here goes my rant(s).

Recently we bought some roller blinds from a certain DIY store - I won't shame them by naming them - and had to take one back. Mr A, my other half, took the unwanted one back, looked at all the others, saw there was a space for the shorter width one we wanted in its place, but the space was empty. Went to the customer service desk to enquire when they would be getting one, to be told that this particular store wasn't designated to carry this particular size (even though there was space for it remember, and they had it in all the other colours!) and therefore couldn't order one for us. Mr A came home disgruntled, convinced that somehow we were going to have to cut it down to size, not easy as it had stitched edges and flattened pleats. Mrs A, that's me, yet more disgruntled (common occurrence) decided to go on the website of this company and speak to someone. I was told by a schoolboy (for that is what he sounded like, too young to be in charge of the 'customer-services-my-name-is-blank-can-I-help-you? telephone) that the staff member should have offered to have one transferred to the store from any other store in the region that had stock. Had they done so? No. He asked which store I was referring to, checked in his little machine and found that a couple of others in the region (an hour away) had stock and then just disconnected me. Next thing, the customer service desk at my local store was answering the phone... so we went through the whole rigmarole again. She checked, found there was stock of the blind at Peterborough (over an hour away) and that she would get one transferred. Which was OK, until she then said that she wasn't sure when it would be as they didn't have an inter-store delivery/collection service but relied on members of staff, in this case a man who lived in Peterborough but worked in my local store, going to the store to collect the item and bring it into work with him. Can you believe that? Surely they have large lorries going from one store to another, why not simply put the item on the lorry? Is that it, too simple? I shall be writing to head office of said DIY chain to see what they have to say about it all, but to me it seems crazy, and well worth a rant.

Next.... no doubt many of you have been watching the news items on anti social behaviour on the main ITV news... the ASBO loutish family making life hell for two sisters in a cul-de-sac and so on. My old friend FYLDECOASTER on his blog has his own remedy for it, and whilst part of me believes that if you can't get mad you get even, I am not advocating violence. But somehow you think this might be the only language these people understand. They know that the police do nothing, or that when they do, the punishment is derisable (is that the right word, my brain has white out at present) and they laugh it off accordingly. They wear their tags like a badge of office, they flaunt their ASBOness as something to be proud of, they make life absolutely miserable to put it mildly, and think, somehow, this is funny, or clever, or makes them look big. Even their small child shouted foul-mouthed language. Hardly surprising you can see a mini-thug in the making, someone who is going to come to no good as they say, not living where he does. But whilst we all shout at the television screens in our anger and frustration and sympathy for the people who are subjected to this bullying, it may assuage our feelings, but does nothing to help the people suffering. What can be done? Well, it seems that persistence and not giving up even in the face of bullies and physical attacks might be the answer, as shown by the two ladies who stood up to them. In fact there were two lots of women in different areas who were making a difference to their neighbourhood.... what strikes me is.... why is it women? What's wrong with the men doing something? And more generally, what is the answer?

Next... switched on to watch the Hairy Bikers and their Mother Knows Best cookery series which began last night, and absolutely loved it, love the idea of it and everything. But was gobsmacked and dismayed and angry, in about equal measures all three, when the opening titles revealed the word FAVOURITE spelled the American way... FAVORITE. I couldn't believe my eyes, am still not 100% convinced that I saw such a bastion of Britishness resorting to American spellings. Did anyone else spot it? Were you annoyed by it?
Next.... why can't our binmen replace the bins where they got them from? The council are quick to TELL us (not ask) the specific place we should leave our bins ready for collection. So is it too much to ask that they are put back in the same place? Apparently so, because there have been innumerable complaints to the council from myself and others, about bins left littering the pavement, all day in some cases, until the householder returns from work. The pavements are not the widest, we are on a busy main road through the village, there are a lot of elderly folk on mobility scooters and the like, mothers with buggies, who all have to walk into the road to get around the bins. When I complained last, I had a visit from the appropriate head of department who told me that the contractor would be warned about it, fined and if it continues, then his contract would not be renewed. That should be incentive enough you'd think, but not so. A man from the council sat in his car early one morning to watch them, highly visible (surely better to hide up a bit?) and lo and behold, all the bins were nicely put back in place. And for a couple of weeks after as well. But then they resorted to their old ways. There is one culprit in particular, a little runt of a man who wears completely black clothes, not even the regulation dayglow vest, and he has a hat pulled down to his eyebrows, and a scarf pulled up to his lower eyelashes. He scuttles about the place, looks weedy but can fling a bin with the best of them. Sometimes they end up roughly where you put them, but more often not... often not even near your own house. I'd like to go out and slap him... but I don't condone violence do I? Shame.....

Well, the last one might seem a very minor rant... but when you have to look for your bin, drag it back through thick snow, take someone else's back to their own house, you get a bit cheesed off, to put it mildly. You want to jump up and down and ask why people can't do their jobs properly, surely it's not asking for much, it would take less effort to put the blessed bin back properly than simply swing it around. I'd like to swing him around...but I don't condone violence, did I say that?

Of course, had we seen hide or hair of a council gritter, then the pavements might not be ankle deep in snow, or ice, or slush, and not as hazardous to walk on. But that's another rant, and I bet there are lots of you out there with a similar rant waiting to come out! So go on, let it out!

I am coming up to my 100th posting soon, and will be having a GRAND KNITTING-THEMED GIVEAWAY, for those interested. But more of that later, meantime, take care when you go out and keep warm when you stay in.

PS... A late rant. I should explain first of all that we never answer the phone, but leave it to the answering service to take the message. This is because (a) we hate using the phone and friends know that so don't bother calling unless in an emergency of some sort and (b) despite not wanting nuisance calls and taking appropriate steps, we still get them. So, there were a series of calls last November and when I did 1471 it said that someone had tried to make a reverse charge call. Now not anyone I knew, of that I was certain, but there seemed no way of finding out where they originated, since there was no call back number, no message about number withheld, just the reverse charge bit. So in desperation I wrote to OFCOM, and six weeks later a reply has been received, the upshot of which is they can't tell me who the 0800 Reverse calls were from due to the Date Protection Act, Freedom of Information.... the long and the short of that is they can't tell me where the calls originated, nor if there had been other complaints. Nor did they answer my question as to whether or not calls that just left a recorded message when you checked them, were illegal, as I had always thought they were. So writing to OFCOM was a waste of time.

Friday, 1 January 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR .. and may all yours be white!

To all my blogging chums, fellow crafty folk, avid readers and hopeful wannabee writers... HAPPY NEW YEAR!
This was what we woke up to this morning, an inch of fresh snow, broken only by the large footprints of the local pheasant and a young male black and white cat, who are regular visitors to the garden, though not at the same time obviously! Refreshingly cold, not that painful uncomfortable cold (apparently that's coming for us next week, something to look forward to then!) but the sort that revitalises you and fills your lungs with clean, fresh air. So peaceful too, but then, so was last night. If there were fireworks, we didn't hear them... but we are always fast asleep by midnight anyway!
But it is at this time of year I always feel hopeful, positive, energised with new ideas for the decor of our little home (so we bought new blinds for the conservatory yesterday, taking advantage of bargains - we only went out for storage boxes!), for the garden, this year the summerhouse gets a revamp. I'd like to say, so do I.... and at this time of year I never make resolutions, for they put too much pressure on you I think. But I have good intentions... like losing weight is a given, I say it every new year, and the best I can hope for with my medication is to control it.. if I am lucky. I intend learning how to use my sewing machine for something other than everyday stuff.... taking up a subscription to my favourite writing magazine again, for a year, and to do some creative writing exercises for at least a couple of hours one day a week, probably Wednesday. Because it begins with W too (for Writing) and is easy to remember that way. I am not good at routine. Had years of it of course with young children growing up, then a part time job. But I think getting into some form of routine with my writing is the only way it will progress, but it will be hard sticking to this resolution I know. A bit like cleaning the oven, if it's something I tell myself needs to be done, I can prevaricate with the best of them and ALWAYS find something better/more useful/more interesting to do... even ironing has its appeal at times like this!
And the other thing I am doing is a creative calendar, which many of you will know about from who has laid down a challenge. I had already started mine anyway, having been inspired by sights of her own calendar on previous postings on her blogspot.

This book is my inspiration. It is so easy to read, gives you ideas aplenty, if you need a kickstart in the arty department. I just don't need a kickstart, I need to be pushed along as well, for I am not that good an artist. No, correction. I am a lousy artist. I can design abstract and other designed cards, can do freestyle tapestry, but when it comes to actual drawing... forget it. However, Violette in the above book tells you how to draw a face. I followed her instruction and voila, I had a face. So this has filled me with hope - and determination to try harder with this as well. So I am starting with the calendar, using bits from the JOURNAL BLISS book for inspiration.

I love the colour purple... this has come out more virulent than it actually is I have to say, but I wanted to start the year with a colour I particularly liked, to inspire me to carry on, and because I love the colour. I have two inch squares of blue card cut out and a plethora of bits and bobs to play with to add texture and colour.

I saw this carrying bag in a certain craft catalogue a couple of years ago, it comes in two different sizes. I loved it, wanted it, but couldn't justify the cost. Then sometime last year (nearly put 'this year' then!) it was on sale, so I could suddenly justify buying it.. to myself only you understand, my lovely husband never questions what I spend our money on. Then it sat in a cupboard, as I couldn't fill it, it didn't look right with needles and yarn, didn't seem designed for that, even though I had seen it so filled. Then I bought pots of paint, discoverd boxes of chalks, tins of watercolour pencils, glue sticks, felt tips, gel pens..... and all those little pocketses were about to be filled.

Then there are packets of paper notions, different shapes and colours and designs.

Then a box of rubber stamps and inkpads.
And suddenly I have enough crafty pieces to be going on with, though I still want some smaller pots of acrylics. And no doubt by the time I have finished looking at the craft catalogue again, there will be a few other little items I can't manage without!
I am also coming up to my one hundredth posting on this blog and plan a giveaway all to do with knitting. But more of that anon.
For now, let me wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR. I have so enjoyed this journey through blogland, read some fab blogs, some not so good so they were only read the once. There are some intersting, talented, funny bloggers out there, mainly women it has to be said.. or maybe it is only women mainly who follow me. I know there is the lovely Mark with his often thought-provoking postings from the bikeshed, and my old friend Fyldecoaster, who has finally got his blog up and running at if you fancy a bit of nostalgia, which is the theme of his first posting, and possibly future ones as well.
I look forward to reading more of your postings, all of you, and your comments on my own blogs.
Thanks for dropping by as ever.