Wednesday, 21 March 2012

SEASONS ~ Spring Joy

I had to share this little porcelain figurine. It is entitled Spring Joy, by K Tutter for Hutschenreuther, c1945. It is being shown by Candice Horley at the Cotswolds Decorative Antiques and Fine Art Fair at the end of this month. Candice is from from Surrey and specialises in early 20th century porcelain and Art Deco prints.

I was not planning to attend, but I am now very tempted. I know it's price will be beyond my means but it would be a treat just to see it. It really is a joy and captures everything that we love about Spring.

SHOPPE KEEPER ~ Parting is sweet sorrow

Objects of Desire - what to keep and what to sell

Antique dealers are always searching for that elusive thing of beauty that makes the heart race and the soul sing. But when we find it we often have the hard decision to keep or to sell. More often than not we have to sell.

Parting really is 'sweet sorrow' as although we would like to keep an object there is a certain joy in sharing it too. Especially if it goes to a good home where it will be appreciated and cared for as we would have done.

I was looking for items that would make the house sparkle after winter and found this sweet little lamp. I love the duck egg blue of it and the silk shade. The crackle glass glimmers and gives off light.  It has a pretty silver cable which coiled up inside of it. It is not vintage but we sell items which go with modern or antique interiors and have a magic of their own.  It sold in the shop early this month.

We do not sell too many vintage clothes items but sometimes we have a few special ones. This embroidered child's smock is adorable and goes into the shop next week.

I could not resist this cushion of the skyline of London! It's so fun and I do love anything to do with England. We sold them in the shop but naturally I had to keep one too.

And this is Albert. As soon as I saw this at a local market I knew I had to have him. He is due to be sold ..... but I have a bad feeling he will not make it out the door. He is pretty hard to resist even though he needs a new back on the frame and I'm sure he would sell well. We will see, first he is due for some remedial work and then maybe we can part with him to the right home. Don't you love him?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

BEWITCHING PLACES ~ Tetbury, Gloucestershire

First Day of Spring and a Trip to Tetbury in the Cotswolds

I really ought to know not to trust the weather forecasts. They foretold of sun and clear skies last week in our little part of England, and we believed them and took lightweight clothes on a holiday in the Cotswolds. It turned out to be mostly overcast, foggy and cold. We soldiered on trying not to think about our nice wooly coats we left at home. This is what greeted us. A lovely landscape and noble trees against a misty almost purple sky.

It is still a little chilly but this week looks more promising sunshine wise. It is officially Spring today, and the birdsong which greeted me at dawn seems to confirm that they know it.

I love all the seasons and feel very lucky to live in an English country village that entertains and delights us throughout the year with the changing of the weather, the hedgerows and the birds and animals.

Spring starts on the day of the vernal equinox, which can occur at different times each year, but is usually on the night of March 20th/21st. The word 'vernal' comes from the the Latin word for bloom and it refers to the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

A special little corner in a garden begins to show signs of Spring!

The birds are very excited about the change of season and they celebrate it loudly. I love this poem which captures their elation so well.

Before you thought of Spring by Emily Dickinson

Before you thought of Spring
Except as a Surmise
You see -- God bless his suddenness --
A Fellow in the Skies
Of independent Hues
A little weather worn
Inspiriting habiliments
Of Indigo and Brown --
With specimens of Song
As if for you to choose --
Discretion in the interval
With gay delays he goes
To some superior Tree
Without a single Leaf
And shouts for joy to Nobody
But his seraphic self --

Tetbury – an ancient Cotswold market town

Tetbury is a market town whose rise came about due to the growth of the Cotswold wool trade. The town has over 1300 years of recorded history.
Tetbury Market House 

There are some really wonderful buildings in Tetbury including this iconic market house, built in 1655 in the heart of the town. It's painted a creamy pale yellow like the best tasting butter you can imagine.

You can see in this detail the cast iron fish across the front of the building and on the top. I love the glittery leaded windows. There is nothing like old glass, modern glass does not reflect as beautifully.
Brown and White Antiques Arcade
This is one of my favourite antique arcades. It's called Brown and White and they display items in a wonderful refreshing way. I love the daffodils in the old enalled pan to herald the coming Spring. I was of course very tempted and did not leave this shop empty handed!
Cafe 53
So many places to see and things things to admire, but we had to stop for some lunch after all of this walking. This cafe was recommended to us, and it did not disappoint. It's at the side of the old building Brown and White is in and you can wander from the cafe into the antiques arcade. Bliss!
I love the decoration here, and the food and coffee were pretty fabulous too!

The blue etched glass of this arch is so stunning, and I love the victorian tiled floor
and the ladder hung on the wall.

This is one of the seating areas in Cafe 53, very pretty and comfortable! They say
they have the best coffee for miles around and they are not kidding.

The Highgrove Shop

I admit it is expensive but I can never resist having a look in Price Charle's Highgrove shops. Even his logo is so charming that I covet it. I love crowns, always a sucker for
a fairytale!
The shop in Tetbury is as enchanting as I have seen, with a really magical tiny garden off the shop. They have creatively displayed items with rustic shelves made out of old rough timber, and a few vintage items that are one offs like this child's toy horse.

In keeping with the royal connection and the upcoming celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this summer I really love this display of old suitcases and the
bowler hat.

These are all our photos, for once we had the camera and managed to snap away.

Friday, 9 March 2012


Shhhh - gather round and listen carefully This is the tale of a magical bookshop, Barter Books,  and how what they discovered which had lain forgotten for many years became known the world over. And has now taken on folkloric status beyond what anyone could ever have imagined.

There is deep magic in words and design. Sometimes words are so powerful that they transcend time and cultures and touch those who do not even really understand their meaning or how they came to be created. The power of the poster 'Keep Calm and Carry On' is astounding.

Especially for something which had lain quietly for many years before being discovered in a dusty box in an old bookshop in what had once been a railway station.

In 1939 Europe was on the brink of war with Germany. Still devastated by the Great War,  England’s heart was understandably not in another war. The Temporary Ministry of Information (the department responsible for publicity and propaganda during the Second World War), commissioned three poster designs meant to be distributed in public places to strengthen morale in the event of a war being declared.  In September they issued two posters, 'Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might' (400,000 printed) and 'Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory' (800,000 printed. The first two designs were posted on public transport, in shop windows, upon notice boards and hoardings across Britian.

The 'Keep Calm and Carry On' posters were stored in case of an enemy attack on Great Britain. Although a few of the posters did make it onto walls, most were never issued and were destroyed at the end of the war in 1945, or lost in time, with the exception of a few that were found in 2009 that are in storage at the Imperial War Museum, 1 that resides in a British book shop and recently a woman brought about 30 to the Antiques Road Show.

The designer of this iconic poster remains unknown.

Almost 60 years later, in 2000, Stuart Manley, owner of the secondhand Barter Books in Alnwick found the poster folded at the bottom of a box of old books they purchased at an auction. When they framed it and displayed it in their shop the customers always commented on it. This inspired them to print and offer copies for sale in the shop. Stuart's wife Mary says that by March 2009, they had sold over 40,000 copies.

There is something about this poster which resonates with so many people. It is simple, and humble, yet strong and defiant. The little crown of King George VI at the top is it's only adornment. It is a symbol of the United Kingdom, but somehow it seems to signify a higher Kingdom too. They say being copied is the sincerest form of flattery, and this design has been re-created thousands of times with different wording and colours. Nothing comes close to the original.

Perhaps it's secret lies in the dark times in which it was created, often from darkness a light shines. It has grace. It is a small prayer, from the heart, like a candle to those whose lives were shattered by a terrible war.

It has a magical story, it's unknown designer, not being issued, how it never touched any of the lives so much in need of it. And yet what it says is actually how the people reacted to the time of darkness, and even,  how the war was won. It somehow managed to heed it's own slogan and refused to be forgotten. It surfaced in exactly the right time, when it was once again needed, and it reached our hearts immediately.

We live with war, some of us much closer to it than others, but it is always there in our world. These times we live in are harder than we have encountered for many years. Not as hard as during the war years and not as hard as for other nations. But still, hard enough to need some encouragement to carry on and not complain.

Like many war veterans my Father never talked about the battlefields. Only once did he tell me that his best friend in the conflict died in his arms, killed by an explosion which sent sharpel through his young body and blinded my Father in one eye. I know that those who died and those who served in the war would be pleased to know that this poster, created to boost the spirits of those in those dark times now hangs on thousands of walls throughout Britain and the United States - and further afield.

I hope that this story, of the real poster not the thousands of slogan copies, continues to be remembered and told. Please pass this tale on and remember the true meaning.

The simple things in life are often the most profound. I think this is one of them.

Some of the copies which seem to keep the spirit of the original.

I want to leave the last words here to Mary Manley, co-owner of Barter Books whose husband Stuart brought the poster back to life and into our homes and our hearts.

If you are going to buy a copy please do it from BARTER BOOKS rather than one of the large commercial companies whose greed seems to tarnish the original simple concept. 

"What I love, right along with everyone else, is how that poster, itself, would be, against all odds, a survivor of the war. How that little crown represents, still, a dignity that we seem to have lost, have we? How its message – so simple, so clean, so without spin – has turned out to have meaning not just for a single people in time of trouble but for all of us wherever we live, whatever our troubles".

Mary Manley

Review of the  Barter Books shop

This is a great review of Barter Books by a book lover who visited. I've never been there, but it is definitely on the list!

The youtube video

A short film that tells the story behind the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster. Its origins at the beginning of WWII and its rediscovery in a bookshop in England in 2000, becoming one of the iconic images of the 21st century. Film, music, script and narration by Temujin Doran.

General Footnote from :       Part of a series on Propaganda Parodies.

In 1997, Dr. Rebecca Lewis published the first part of her research on WWII posters, including this series. Both of her undergraduate dissertation from 1997 and her Ph.D. thesis from 2004 are available on World War II Posters website. Dr. Lewis has been also keeping track of “Keep Calm and Carry On” mentions on her blog since April 2009.

The website was registered in February 2007, which sells a variety of related merchandises featuring the slogan from T-shirts and bags to deck chairs and chocolate bars.

In early 2009, the poster saw its biggest resurgence following the spread of a global economic crisis; The Guardian and The Independent both published articles about the popularity of the poster.

In July 2009, New York Times Magazine published an article on the commodity factor of the poster, focusing on the popularity of derivatives of the original slogan as well.

In November 2008, T-shirt company Threadless published a spoof design with an upside-down crown and the slogan “Now Panic and Freak Out.” In April 2009, the Keep Calm-o-matic  image generator was created, allowing users to make their own posters as well as hosting a gallery of images made with the site.

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Ashdown House - a National Trust Treasure

When I began this blog (I actually hate that word so let's call this a journal instead) I wondered if I would have enough to share with anyone.

And now I am writing twice in one day!

I had to share a post from Ashdown House, a National Trust property which is quite near to our cottage. I could not resist the impudent fox sitting in front of the No Entry sign. So witty and such a great capture.

This is from their post just before Christmas.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012


She Walks In Beauty Like The Night

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
~ Lord Byron

The vestiges of Spring are all around us and yet we remain enthralled to a chill in the air and frost on the windows in the mornings. Buds are on the trees and shrubs, but winter yet clings to us. The snow drops carpet the floor of the woods like fairy confetti, strewn in a dance. Pale yellow primroses brave the chill and show their pretty heads in case a queen bumblebee is in need of refreshment after the long winter slumber. And a few bees, and even a butterfly have been on the wing already.

Before Winter slips away completely, ever deeper into the woods, we are paying tribute to The Midnight Hour, which although quite nice in Summer, comes into it's own with a cloudy, thundery sky or a blanket of frost and snow.

L'heure bleue or The Violet Hour has two chances each day, at open and close, to enchant us, and it does. Midnight comes but once so it needs to be spectacular to compete with those Twilights, and the setting and rising sun. Midnight succeeds we think.

Midnight has a heavy scent about it, in Winter the smell of the rain and the forests. In summer heavy with the honeysuckle, the jasmine and the night flowering stock. This scent does evoke it, and although Midnight isn't poison the name and the bottle are great. 

It's the wrong time of the year to think about the spooky connotations of this hour. We will leave that until October. Wolves are frightening because they are wild, something in them recalls another life, long ago in us. We wish to run with them. More than any other time they belong to Midnight. So we will leave them there and go curl up with a cosy blanket and sleep until the day greets us. Unless of course we feel like a spot of dancing and then we have several versions of that Wilson Pickett classic, 'In The Midnight Hour' to listen to!

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