Saturday, 26 May 2012


In the woods

If you go down to the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise!
For ev'ry bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain,
Because today's the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic.

Teddy Bear's Picnic on youtube - listen

The weather is glorious. Gardens all over England are being spruced up and bunting hung in readiness for garden parties to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. It's perfect weather for a Teddy Bear's Picnic and this time of year always reminds me of the song.

The Teddy Bear's Picnic by Molly Brett

The melody for 'Teddy Bears' Picnic' was conceived by American composer John Walter Bratton in 1907. In 1932 Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy added the now famous lyrics.  Kennedy lived at Staplegrove Elm, Taunton, Somerset and is buried in Staplegrove Church. Pilgrimages are still made to see the small wooded area between the church and Staplegrove Scout Hut which locals will tell you was the inspiration for his lyrics.  I love the way the song is born again with each new generation of children and lingers fondly in the hearts of many grown up, and not so grown up fans.

I remember being thrilled many years ago when Pete Townshend of The Who chose the slightly scratchy 1936 version done by Henry Hall and his Orchestra with vocals by Val Rosling as one of his songs on a radio program. Producer Keith Altham recalled about Jimi Hendrix, "If things were getting tense in the studio," says Altham, "he'd just play 'Teddy Bears' Picnic'."

This is a video of a shortened version of the song on youtube:

Teddy Bear's Picnic

Our village is bordered by several small woods which we drive through coming and going. I'd love to live even closer, deep in the woods, under the shade of the trees. Carpets of snow drops and bluebells heralding spring, and the crunch of fallen leaves and wood burning bringing winter.

 Puthall Gatehouse 1906, Savernake Forest
From Francis Firth photo library

Often the birds and beasts that live in the woods venture out and give us a glimpse of themselves.

Driving through Wickham Heath recently I was not surprised to see that there really are wolves in this wood! I love this gate so much.

A Wolf at the gate


Thursday, 24 May 2012

SHOPPE KEEPER ~ A Bit of This n That

What weather that we have in England, from rain and grey skies to very warm and sunny. It seems impossible that just a few days ago nothing was blooming and now the garden is bursting with colour. I love these gentle Aquilegias in such soft shades.

There is something quite fairy like about them. They self seed everywhere and surprise you when they come up the following year.

Mrs Black has been chasing the country mice, a favourite game of hers. I've been busy painting in the garden as although I do have a tiny studio all the prepartion work is done outside to avoid dust getting everywhere so summer is a very busy time. It was so hot that the paint was drying as I brushed it on!

Pale green towel rail to keep, not to sell

Some of the lovely items at The Emporium this week.

We're selling an old dressing table mirror in a beautiful pale lilac

Can you see that the back paper says 'Love' ?

A divine china hand painted little bird, at £12.00 I am very tempted!
This unit owner always has lovely tags with descriptions on their items.
Stunning art deco coffee table!
If Mrs Black had been with me she's have insisted I bought this charming cat with
ball of wool figure. So sweet and lifelike.
Pretty creamy coloured hand painted chest of drawers
A bit Alice in Wonderland, I love this giant key and pale pink Lloyd Loom chair.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

NATURE ~ Remember to look for the unexpected

I love the saying 'not all who wander are lost' because sometimes when wandering you can make unexpected and delightful little discoveries.

There are lots of secret gardens, entrances and alleyways in Marlborough and when the sun comes out I like to walk very quietly around there with a camera taking all the paths less travelled.

Look what I found this week as I turned down a very quiet path there.  

I know that Pigeons are often thought of as pests and indeed we do have far too many of them in towns and cities. But they thrive because of the waste of humans.

You would have to have a hard heart not to be touched by this brave mother guarding her eggs.

I love the rich blue of the doorway against the white washed bricks and you can just see the dark beams above. Mrs Pigeon chose her nest site well!

Thursday, 17 May 2012


The antique dealer who sells at the market had a great stand on Wednesday!

Markets are just one of the many folkloric aspects which I love about Europe. When I was growing up in California 'super' markets were the norm, it was very rare to find an old fashioned market. After moving to England I was fascinated by the history of the market and set about visiting as many as I could.  Of course markets were the places to buy items of food and household goods long before shops opened. There is something magical about market day, especially in the countryside where the old towns were given charters by the kings to hold a market.

Wednesdays are market days in Hungerford. I like being there on those days even though parking can be tricky! Parking further away means more exercise and gazing at the pretty houses and gardens along the way into town.

The sun was shining so I took advantage of it to deliver items to our unit 'Mrs Black's' in The Emporium in the High Street. I put some pieces of vintage china, books and this round crocheted tablecloth in.  I love this tablecloth and it is a craft which I have not mastered myself so I really appreciate the talent and hours which have gone into this piece. I hope it goes to a good home where it can be shown off.

large circular crochet tablecoth £30.00

close up of the delicate crochet flowers
These are a few of the items that caught my eye today which other dealers at The Emporium have for sale.  Our little unit is upstairs and it is nearly impossible to pass through the shop without wanting something! 

Some very pretty chintz jugs,
and a pair of darling dog bookends

I love this doorstop - very unusual!

So feminine - a pale and interesting dressing table

Some more of what we have for sale at the moment.
An art student's copy of Constable's 'Cottage in a Cornfield'

Meakin sunflower coffee set
Audobon Canada Goose plate
Driving home the sky was a dreamy dark blue and the rape seed fields bright yellow, rich with that Heavenly scent. Swallows and Kites circled and chirped and shrieked overhead. And then it rained!

Friday, 11 May 2012


Leopold our terracotta gnome or pixie

Recently we found this fabulous guy whose seller thought he was a Gnome, or a Pixie. We're not sure either.  He was advertised as a rare Art Deco Czechoslavakia large terracotta garden fairy or pixie figure, measuring 14 inches tall. My husband immediately christened him 'Leopold' but maybe he should have a more mysterious name. I'm sure that he does and just has not revealed it to us yet.

Having done some investigation we are more baffled than ever. He has no beard, and he has wings.  Gnomes don't have wings do they? 

Gnomes, a 1979 release from Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet

I can find no other like him and will continue to find out exactly what he is, and when he was made. His painted surface is peeling and many layers can be seen, but we have no plans to give him a new coat. I love all the colours coming through. We've no plans to sell him either, he's a keeper.

His wings and peeling paint

What I like best about him is the way he is sitting with his legs crossed. Don't you love his pointy-toed Pixie boots? 

cross legged
Although he seems benign he has slightly scary eyes and this gives him a spooky edge. Maybe he will guard our garden if we are nice to him and give him a good home under our staddle stone mushroom.

Leopold's dramatic makeup and his scary eyes!

would Leopold be happy under one of these?

Our cottage is on a small estate of workers cottages built in Victorian times. There is a communal bakehouse, outside loos and a well, which is in what is now our back garden. It is long since capped, by an old stone mushroom and he would certainly look at home underneath that. But we think he is pretty old, has seen lots of duty and that perhaps he would now like to retire indoors. He's living in the fireplace at the moment and might go outside for special occasions when better weather arrives.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Happy May Bank Holiday!

It's still raining here and so you know it must be a Bank Holiday coming up! We're going away for a few days to even deeper countryside to visit old friends. I hope that wherever you are a little sunshine comes your way this weekend, or if not, then perhaps a rainbow.

BESTIARY ~ Ravens and other Corvids

Some people only associate Ravens with winter and midnight (thanks to that pesky Raven of Edgar Allen Poe's!) but I have always found corvids so magical that I like them to be a part of my life year round. Ravens are not just for Halloween!

We used to live near Exmoor and would often hear and see the Ravens there on the cliffs. I miss them and was charmed recently by their relatives the Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws gathering sticks for their nests. Once upon a time Jackdaws were so determined to make a nest in our cottage chimney they completely blocked it up with a giant pile of sticks! Fortunately Mrs Black heard them cheaping and we knew we could not light a fire. Many fires in old cottages have been caused by a fire in the chimney when it was blocked by a bird's nest, especially thatched cottages.

One of our Jackdaws inspecting a chimney
Corvids are determined and ambitious and will try to pick up and carry sticks far bigger than possible for their size. We have often seen a Jackdaw flying with a huge stick. We helped them by breaking up old tree sticks and laying them out in our back garden where they could swoop down and take them, which they did.

The pile of sticks we made for the Jackdaws

 For several weeks we had noises in the day and night as the babies grew and fledged. Jackdaws are not always popular and in our small village the arrival of several more was not met with much joy. Nevertheless it was one of our nature adventures. We had all the corvids close enough for a day visit in those days, even Choughs.

Once the Jackdaw brood had fledged we had to clean out the chimney and have a cap fitted to prevent them blocking it again. The amount of sticks which we found when we opened it up was unbelievable!

Our chimney and the Jackdaw nest!

There is an ancient manor house near us called Rooks Nest and of course the Rooks do nest in all the surrounding trees.  How enchanting it would be to live here!

Rooks Nest in Wiltshire

I love this painting on canvas. It is on Etsy. The link is below.

"Raven Ride At Dusk" by Michael Broad

Michael Broad Etsy Shop:

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