Shrinking Violet


Latest posts by Shrinking Violet

Christmas decorations

Posted: 29/11/2016 at 23:15

Pansy I love your local tradition of local carols.  Here in the West country, there are many local carols, too, but the main focus is on "Old" Christmas: 6th January:  Wassail (Christmas with pagan overtones - but good fun, nevertheless).  Songs for a good apple harvest, toast dipped in cider to placate the spirits of the apple tree, and firing of shotguns (or a large noise of drums) to drive out those evil spirits!  Oh, and copious amounts of mulled cider all round.

Christmas decorations

Posted: 29/11/2016 at 22:09

Sunday 27th November was Advent Sunday.  Therefore, the coming of Christmas has already started.  We lit our first Advent candle on Sunday, and will then light the second next Sunday and so on  up until the fourth Sunday of Advent, this year on 18th December.  It's very early this year because Christmas Day falls on a Sunday.  But we wont put our main decorations up until Mid-December.

Beans and Sweetcorn combo?

Posted: 27/11/2016 at 20:39

I think this sytem is called the "Three sisters" - sweetcorn, beans and squash.  I tried it a couple of times, and found it really didn't work.  That may be because our climate isn't quite right.  Or I may have been over-ambitious.  But I don't think I would sacrifice garden space for it again.

Your worst Christmas present!

Posted: 25/11/2016 at 15:25

My worst was a surprise, unasked for and unwanted three-tier vegetable steamer.  Eventually I did use it, and was moaned at because the vegetables were not cooked properly and unseasoned.  It was given to a charity shop.


I also received a coffee maker one year.  I wanted an espresso machine.  This one, which took up a lot of work surface space, had a filter jug (don't do filter) a milk frother (I drink it black) and - yay! an espresso.  I deigned to use it, but it is now history - too big, too awkward and more than I wanted in the first place.

Memories of the past

Posted: 23/11/2016 at 15:48

Go karts were known as Jiggers in my part of North London, which was probably to do with the orange boxes that were nabbed from the greengrocer on the local market stall, whose family name was Jiggins.  Then with a bit of simple engineering, purloined pram wheels and bits of skipping rope, the jiggers were raced up and down the street, or converted into temporary carriers when we collected piles of newspapers and took them down to the paper mill to get extra pocket money. 


Chinkies were known as Jacks, and required a lot of skill the further you progressed.  Likewise two-ball against the wall, chanting various rhymes, only one of which I can remember:


My little red ball went over the wall, I told my mum.  She smacked my bum, And made it R E D (the word spelled out with extra bounces of the balls). 


Or skipping  "Salt, mustard, vinegar, pepper" - the last word being a double turn of the rope.  Or a long piece of rope (washing line) twirled from one side of the road to the other, with anything up to a dozen people running in to join the skipping, though I can't remember the special rhymes for that.

Nothing to do with gardening

Posted: 23/11/2016 at 15:34

I once made the mistake of getting some pine-scented oil, sprinkling it on fir cones and placing them on a radiator, theoretically to mimic the smell of a Christmas tree.  I threw them away when son's friends (from primary school) came back to play and said, "It smells like toilet cleaner"    Out of the mouths of babes . . . .


But then for many years I used Body Shop's oil "Brandied Apple".  It became synonymous with Christmas for us - until they stopped making it.  (The shop assistant said, when asked, that HO had stopped it because there was no demand, but that I was one of several who had requested it.  Never let it be said that the customer is always right!)


I have just recently discovered wax melts, and I bought at a GC one called "Christmas Tree" and it really, really does smell just like - well, a Christmas tree, subtly perfuming the whole house;  I shall definitely get some more.

Last edited: 23 November 2016 15:35:42

Memories of the past

Posted: 22/11/2016 at 21:10

My brain has been sent into overload with all these fabulous memories!


I don't remember cardboard milktops, but I do remember the foil tops.  We had Silver top (and if you were lucky, you had the cream that rose to the top).  I was envious of my friend whose mum had Gold top (Channel Islands milk, I think).  We saved the tops in big bags - for "blind dogs" I think it was.  But at Christmas, we would make silver bells:  4 or 5 tops would be used per string of bells, each of which had to be put over a lemon squeezer and the thumbnail run down in the grooves.  A piece of string would be threaded through each of the middles, with a knot in between to make a little tinkly Christmas tree decoration.  (The cat loved them!)


Money back on pop bottles:  I think it was in "d" not "p" in my day.  The cheekiest boys would climb over the wall to the back of the local pub, and bring their booty round to the "Offy" to claim the money back.  I know it was stealing, really, but we were in awe of their gymnastic ability and sheer cheek.


Uncle Mac on Saturday mornings:  yes!  Sparky and his Magic Piano.  Pink Toothbrush/Blue Toothbrush.  The Deadwood Stage.  This Old House (Connie Francis).  Where will the Baby's Dimple Be?  And many more, of course.


Two Way Family Favourites on Sunday (Jean Metcalf and Cliff Michelmore) followed by Beyond Our Ken (which then became Round the Horne), Ray's a Laugh, Life with the Lyons, The Navy Lark.  And then Billy Cotton's Band Show.  Wakey Wakey!

What is your weather like? (2)

Posted: 21/11/2016 at 22:28

Drove from Tiverton, Devon,  to Minehead, West Somerset this morning.  Roads a bit flooded in places but passable.  Returned this afternoon - just in time, it would seem, since a friend reports that at one time all roads in and out of Minehead were closed, the village of Carhampton was flooded, and it sounds like chaos.  Here, the River Exe, already swollen, has risen about a metre in two hours.  And still it rains (though less heavily, thank goodness!)

Last edited: 21 November 2016 22:28:46

Shrub Identification

Posted: 21/11/2016 at 17:11

Others may be better able to help you, but as a general observation, they don't look terribly healthy.  The first one looks chloritic, so possibly a manganese deficiency?  And the second has dried leaves and grey mould on the leaves.  I think I would loosen the soil around them and give them a good feed, although now is not the best time of year for it.  A growth spurt followed by cold/frosty weather would result in damaged shoots.  But in the spring, I think you could bring them back to health, and then get a better idea of what shrubs you have.

Memories of the past

Posted: 21/11/2016 at 17:06

The library at Boots!  Oh, yes, I remember it well.  I used to take books back for an old lady further up the street;  it was a bus ride away, and quite a treat to have the bus fare paid by her and also the cost of her borrowing books.  She was an ex school teacher and gave me many of her lovely books on nature, which I treasure to this day.


The public library was free.  You had to be 7 to be allowed to join, but because I was an avid reader, my mother applied for me to have a ticket a year early.  I remember the excitement of my very first book.  It smelled of the library.  It had a bright orange cover.  I have no idea what it was, because I never read it - I would just sit and wonder at its smell and colour.  But when I changed it for a book that I wanted, my whole world changed.


We didn't have a TV until about 1963, so it was Listen With Mother (Daphne Oxenford:  "Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I'll begin . . ." and later, Children's Hour with fabulous dramatizations:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Eagle of the Ninth, Phra the Phoenician, The Midnight Folk among others.


For the Coronation we went to my uncle's house to watch his tiny TV.  And all the family contributed to the High Tea afterwards.  Father made the most amazing salad platter, with the crown picked out on a bed of lettuce:  beetroot for the velvet, cut radishes etc for the jewels.  It was a shame to eat it!

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