Intruder deterrent


          Youngest Daughter and Husband were here to visit this weekend and they brought with them Heidi, their great dane. You’ve met Heide before with the “Giraffes“.

          Heidi’s a huge softee, often afraid of her own shadow, but I’ve heard her bark once or twice and it sounds as if it comes up from her boots.   I think even the most seasoned intruder would think twice about visiting while Heidi is around.


           We’ve had an unwanted intruder in the garden, leaving behind them little parcels in my flowerbed and freshly levelled soil.  I’ve spotted a cat sitting on top of the back wall but I’ve never been quite quick enough to give it a piece of my mind as it jumps away to the other side as soon as I open the back door.  I would like to think that Heidi’s visit will convince my intruder not to stop by for a few weeks or more.

          After a few hot and dry weeks of weather we had a very welcome deluge of rain last week, turning my dusty soil into mud.  My intruder left behind it a little more than just the odd parcel this time …

      . . . . BUSTED  . . . .


          More from before: a few of the “Furry and non-furry Friends” who are part of the family.


Mugshot: Venezia


          Another mug from my cupboard.  A new addition this time.  I made the choice long ago of “do I use it or not”  balancing up carefully the number of smiles I would have by just looking at my mug on a shelf, against the number of smiles I would have each time I used my mug to drink out of … before it got broken. Needless to say, I use my mugs, and eventually I guess they’ll leave me, as do the memories, hence my “Mugshot” series here on the blog.

          The pictures on the outside of this mug are starting to bubble and peel off so I could put it on a shelf now and preserve it, but I like drinking out of the mug as much as I like looking at it so it’s going to stay in the cupboard and get used just as much as it has since we came back from our Florence and Venice holiday.

          Funnily enough, this mug is the same shape as my “Isle of Wight” one and I enjoyed the shape of that one too.  I must bear that in mind when I choose another.  The Isle of Wight mug has long since gone but the mugshot, and the holiday snaps and stories are all posted here, and visited often to jog the memory along too.

          I drink lots of coffee, OK, so it’s de-caf coffee and if I was drinking it for the caffeine, de-caf would be a waste of time, but I actually prefer the taste, I find it mellow and relaxing.  As for the mug, I guess that’s all part of the whole experience for me too.  I do like a big mug, my hands are by no stretch of the imagination dainty.  My Mum has long, piano player fingers, and my Dad has very square sturdy palms.  Put the two together and you have my hands, square sturdy palms, with long, piano player fingers.  Hey, they’re great for reaching into the cookie jar for a handful of cookies… So long as the top of the jar isn’t too narrow. 

          Anyway, try to forget whatever size your hands are and imagine you have my hands for a moment or two …  Help yourself to a large mug of warm coffee, hot chocolate, malt milk, or whatever your fancy is.  Wrap both hands around the mug and hold it close…  Can you see how the right mug will hug you back ?

          Sorry to risk spoiling the moment for you, but, still imagining your hands as the same size as mine, now try to pick up your mug of comfort with the tiny little handle on the side, being able to fit just two fingers into it, and that’s if you’re lucky.   It sort of takes the hug away doesn’t it.

          Ahh, but look at the size of the handle on my Venice mug… That’s so much better.

          There now, you can have your hands back, boil the kettle, steam some milk, or make a brew, whatever makes you happiest, and share a cuppa with me while I drink mine. 

          More from before : “Mugshot” memories from the cupboard in my kitchen. 


          Back in June in 2014, we had a holiday in Barcelona.  One of the memories I brought back with me was of a father and daughter team of puppeteers playing the crowd with just two puppets.  They were wonderful, the father and daughter, and the puppets.  For a closer look at the intricate carving and details of the house these two puppets lived in you’ll have to follow the links to “Puppet Strings”  and “Puppet House“, but to share my love of puppets, and bits of wood, and strings, and making things… you just have to stick around here.

2014-06. Puppet strings.

          While wandering the streets in Florence on our recent holiday we discovered a shop where magic was worked with wood… “Bartolucci“.  Its a little family run shop and all the wood inside is “a result of patient manual labour, made of pine-wood, thought up and produced in small series by Francesco, Matteo, Chiara, and Anna Bartolucci”.  If you’re heading to Florence you should definitely stop by and take a look… a quick peep onto their website says they also have shops in Urbino and Rome.

Pinocchio picture.

          I could have bought the whole shop, but instead I settled for just wandering around for a while and taking a few pictures.  My Dad is probably the biggest influence to my making my “Creations“, out of pretty much anything I can get my hands on.  I’ve mentioned before some of the things he made for us when we were small, but since Grandchildren came along, and he’s had more time, he’s made so many more, his “thing” at the moment is miniatures, a few dolls houses, mostly made from scratch, and his latest is a country pub, complete with rustic beams and an old oak bar.  My Mum sits for hours knitting tiny little dolls clothes out of cotton with hat pins.  One of the things my Dad first made when the grandchildren started to arrive was a wooden rocking horse, big enough for an adult to ride.   I wonder if the Grandsons has arrived before the Granddaughters, if he might have made a rocking motorbike like the one in the Bartolucci doorway instead of a horse.

Motor bike.

          At the back of the shop in one of the corners there were a number of shelves cluttered with woodworking tools, its quite possible that these are all old tools used by the original Bartolucci wookworkers, the family business first started up in 1936, I would also like to guess that the pictures are of the people who used the tools in those years gone by.

Woodwork tools.

          To the right of the shelves is this little room, just imagine how much fun I could have in there.  It looks like they’ve been busy and there’s a delivery of smiles ready to be picked up.


          Hubby, of course, knows me well and when planning our recent trip, he found a mention of a puppet shop in Venice.   Emporio Pettenello.  Very much off the beaten track, but we found it on the map and set off one morning to visit it.  We found the square, Campo Santa Margherita, but no sign of the puppet shop, I managed to find an English speaking local customer at the small newspaper stand and found out that the shop had closed down a couple of years ago.

          We had the rest of the day and wandered back towards the more tourist tracks, heading for the Rialto market, just before the bridge, and I spotted a woodwork stall in amongst all of the t-shirts and trinkets.  Little Pinocchio puppets are available on pretty much all of the touristy stalls, but they are just the basic puppets, with only four strings on a cross of wood at the top.  I’ve been spoiled by the intricacy of the one I had as a child so I was looking for more.  This one at the little wood stall had many more strings and what’s more, the seller let me play with it.  It was really wonderful, Hubby said my face lit up while I made it walk around the shop and then wave at Hubby across the crowds.

          Unfortunately, the price reflected the amount of work which had been put into the puppet.  The seller said he only made about one a month, and sold them with a certificate of authenticity.  I left without it, planning to go back at the end of the holiday if I had enough money left.  Needless to say, once I’d had more time to think about it, no matter how beautiful it was, and how big a smile it had made, I couldn’t quite bring myself to spend the amount of money needed when I knew I could go home and make one for myself.

           One day ….


          P.s. Here’s a picture from my dad of his rocking horse…. 


          Isn’t it wonderful?

Mama swan

          Mama swan, also known as the “Lady on the Lake“, as well as Papa Swan and their five babies are a regular feature on the patch of grass, under the willow tree, next to the car park now.  They all seemed to have moved to a safer nest for a little while but at the size they are now I don’t think they’re too much at risk anymore so they’ve come out of hiding, quite apart from the fact that to reach the rest of the family you have to first pass inspection by Papa swan.


          If I spot the family on the lake my way home from work, I very often just sit quietly at the end of one of the boardwalks and Mama and Papa bring the babies over to say hello.


          One day last week after a quick hello, they hurried off towards the willow tree so I left the boardwalk and pootled along the pavement to meet them there.  Papa swan arrived before me so I waited for the rest of the family to arrive.


          I stood at a respectable distance while Papa swan chased away the throng of ducks resting in the shade and once he was happy with the situation I perched a little closer on one of the posts at the edge of the verge.  After a little while, Mama swan made her way up through the reeds with two babies. 


          Two ladies, with a small child in a buggy and a little girl walking stopped to feed the ducks but Papa swan wasn’t impressed, he raised himself up tall and waved his wings about.   I quickly explained that he was protecting the babies and they put their bread away.  Deciding not to wait for the other babies to arrive, they beat a hasty retreat and Papa settled down.  One at a time, the other three babies made their way up through the reeds, and started preening themselves in the space Papa had cleared for them. 

          I waited a little while until they were all settled and then moved forward one step at a time to take a picture, Mama swan gave me a gentle hiss to let me know when I was near enough and she was quite happy with me just one small step backwards.

          I didn’t attempt to venture any nearer to Mama and babies but I offered Papa a little of the bread I had in my bag as a thank you, he was more than happy to take it out of my hand as usual.


         Just a note here, I don’t always carry bread around in my handbag, bread doesn’t do my diet any good at all but it just happened that I’d been away to a wedding for the weekend and the sweets and ice creams on offer there had blown my diet out of the water so I was just taking the edge of any other cravings before I took the plunge again.  This particular bread was a small cheese loaf, freshly baked that morning… A bread which doesn’t get shared very often, even with Hubby, so Papa swan was honoured indeed. 

          A few days later the opportunity arose for a dawdle home, beachcombing at this time of year, and especially in this weather, is nigh on impossible mid morning after work, and when a nice brown seeded loaf was reduced in price, that pretty much made the decision for me.

           I wandered home alongside the lake until I spotted Mama and babies and sat down on at the end of one of the boardwalks.  There was no sign of Papa and I wondered at first if Mama was going to take the babies quickly away, but she seemed quite content to just sit back as I broke off little bits of bread and threw the pieces to the babies.  After the babies had eaten some, Mama pushed to the front and reached up to take some bread from me. 


          We just stayed for a while after the bread was all gone and I was treated to a beautiful display of wings by one of the babies before I left. 


           More from before: Semi-retirement by the seaside in “Weymouth“.



          I’m hoping you’re not too bored with my garden yet, there’s been a slight change in plan.

          Remember the mirror I bought from the tip for the bargain price of just £4?  The one I had planned to paint window lines on and hang at the back of the one flowerbed underneath an arch of climbing roses ?  The one which was going to reflect the sky as a window into your imagination ? 

           Well, Youngest Daughter came a couple of weekends ago and I got the mirror out to show her… And as it stands, the only thing it reflects is next doors bathroom window!

          Hmmph, back to the drawing board.  I’m still planning the roses on the arch, but I’ll have to put a little more thought into what to put on the wall inside it. 

          In the meantime, the mirror went back into the shed. I asked the girls, and nobody wanted it. Our shed now is twice the size of our last shed but I really must try not to just fill it up with twice as much junk. With this in mind I put the mirror up for sale on one of the local Facebook groups.  I’d been looking for a second mirror online and decided they were too expensive so I put our mirror up for sale at a cheeky £20 and expected someone to haggle.

          No haggle… No hassle… And now no mirror and a happy lady who also got a bargain at a lot less than she would have had to pay for a new one online. .

          More “Fixings and finishings” on the new house.