Latest doings

6. Feb, 2017
6. Feb, 2017

Readers of a younger vintage than I (63) might be muttering: 'What's 'Blighty' when it's at home?' or words to that effect, probably ruder. The term refers to England, and was coined by soldiers during the first and second world wars. It was used occasionally during the 1890s Boar War, but came to common use during the First World War in India. It began as the word 'bilayati' a regional variation on the Urdu word 'vilayati', meaning European, specifically British. So there you go. Learn something new every day. Never knew that.

     Point is, Husband and I returned from magnificent Madeira on Friday. 'Twas indeed magnificent. Temperatures in the comfortable seventies, glorious blue skies, flourishing palms (I love palm trees), a gob-smacking view of the sea and port – we regularly watched cruise ships coming and going, even at stupid 'o clock in the morning or night - and the old fort and the mountains, from our tenth floor hotel room. And the hotel grub. Oooh, the grub... I've got an article in my head over that one. Imagine, if you will, hordes of pensionable couples (of whom we were one) descending like hyenas on the bottomless, limitless buffet of starters, mains and desserts in the hotel restaurant. Those desserts...*sighhhh*. You don't want to see my platefuls. Positively vulgar. And Funchal, the main town in Madeira, is buzzing, picturesque, walkable. Luurrrve it!

     I'll be posting a more detailed item about the trip later, but, in the meantime, as this blog is centred upon creativity and mental health, I'm talking about the latter right now.

     Yesterday afternoon and this afternoon (Sunday and Monday), I suffered a blip. Every morning we pop out for an enjoyable coffee in town, or somewhere else if we're out and about, when Husband and I discuss physics, or micro adventures, or Terry Pratchett or giggle hystorically (my spelling) over rude jokes. I used to hate being at home, probably a hangover from being at home with small kids. Since my recovery, I've been astonished that I've been home in the afternoons and actually not minding it. It took a lot of CBT-ing (cognitive behavioural therapy) to drum into my subconscious the fact that I no longer have kids to care for at home. But sometimes my brain lets me down and I'm feeling 'bleuggh' at home. The cold grey weather doesn't help, obviously, but I've been organising my mini museum of antique curios (that's another story) and enjoying it until around 2.30pm when that 'bleuggh' feeling descended. I really, really didn't want to be at home. So Husband took me out for a magical mystery tour in my Mini Cooper around the countryside surrounding Alton, our town, in Hampshire. It's lovely, and we love it. Even in this cold, dank greyness. Husband drove me along the deep, narrow lanes in the depths of the countryside and through small, old villages. Even in this weather I love the colours.

     I felt so much better. I really must learn. Don't hang around the house all day! Whether it be a magical mystery drive, a visit to another town and an antique shop, a trip to the coast, to London... Whatever. Go and enjoy, for goodness sake! :-D!

25. Jan, 2017

Sculpture course this afternoon. Really enjoying it! Quite pleased with my plaque. I may have passed A Level Art with this way back early seventies when I sculpted a clay relief for my art foundation year. That was rubbish (the clay relief, not the foundation year). Always wanted to improve my sculpture since those days, and think I have. 😊

I love meeting my fellow students. This is my third sculpture term at the Farnham Adult Education Centre in Surrey (just over the border from Hampshire, my neck of the woods). Different students each time, but one member met before with this one. All lovely peeps and a great giggle. Yvonne, our tutor, is brilliant, and I'm classing her as my mate. We've exchanged addresses. She looks little and fragile, but she hunks enormous great sacks of plaster and heavy sculptures around, seemingly without turning the proverbial hair. 'Health and safetly!' I yell at her.

I also have a pattern design to finish for my surface pattern design course submission tomorrow, then we're off to Madeira on Friday. Yes - Madeira! Yay! For a week. Double yay.  Feed the cat, someone. :-)



21. Jan, 2017

Told Him Straight

Told him straight, I did! Had a medication review today. Doc was surprised at high dosage and mix of medications I was on. Explained what the mental health team had done, and that I was happier than I'd ever been. Ever. He wondered if I would consider taking one tablet that equalled my dosage. Cheaper for the NHS, apparently. That's when I told him straight. I've spent thirty years of up and down moods and I wasn't going to be coerced into anything else. Nope. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Over my dead body. Anyway, after I told him straight, he said I'd have an annual medication check, which suits me well. All good.

21. Jan, 2017

Arghhhhh! Can't cope!

Right now I could be classed as creatively overwhelmed. Writing my novel and this blog. Starting back at sculpture class. Doing my winter surface pattern design course which involves beginner, intermediate and advanced briefs plus a fun one which I've yet to look at. Not to mention our writing group meetings and open mics, which involves article writing and reading out. It'll all end in tears, as Husband is prone to saying. 

Now - for your delight and delectation, here follows my latest offering, one of a series of articles I will one day include in an anthology called Musings of a Butterfly Brain. An anthology that I could have e-published by now (according to His Greatness) except that every time I reread something, I knew I could improve on it. Couldn't send it out 'like that'.

Anyhoo - on that note, here it is:


I am an Antique Curio  

I’m of a mature vintage and I’m curious. I began collecting antique curiosities when I was late teens or thereabouts, when I managed to save enough dosh to indulge myself.

It all began when mother passed onto me some family heirlooms, and my fascination for them burgeoned into buying curios from village hall sales. Furniture didn’t do it. Nor ceramics. Nor silver or glass. Not for me Lalique, Spode or Hepplewhite, barley twist or pierced ware (amazing what one learns from antique shows). If you saw my odd collection, you’d understand what I’m prattling on about, although I do have normal items as well, such as vintage greetings cards and antique clothing.

One of my oddest items is a Bourneville cocoa tin circa 1920/30s, complete with cocoa. I haven’t tried drinking it. I have a wartime gas mask. I haven’t tried wearing it. A 1940s wartime field dressing in its original cellophane wrapping, unopened. An 1890s Hoop-la game I rescued from Oxfam before they tipped it (it’s seen better days no kidding). I have a family heirloom 1840s silver baby’s rattle with bells. A 1920s lipstick, an 1890s breast-pump in its original box…I haven't tried using it. I could go on. And on. Perhaps not.

Husband is gallantly supportive. When we traipse antiquey shops, stalls etcetera, he's magnetised straight for model railway locos, clocks and brass objects and I peer into dusty shelves stuffed with tatty looking oddments. I'm drawn to boxes with faded lettering complete with original contents. I always rattle them to see if they're empty. Never mind if it’s for veterinary medicinal purposes or half-used soap.

'It's a Jo thing.' Husband states. If he can have four mantle clocks and various other ding-dongers in the house, I can have weird and wonderfuls. I'm irrevocably dragged towards tat. Faded and cracked boxes. Well worn baby slippers circa 1800s. Most of these items are worth absolutely zilch, I daresay, but you never know. I've looked up some peculiarities on ebay and spotted the odd fiver or occasional twenty quid – they’ll never make me a fortune. Sorry, offspring.

Talking of whom - offspring (sophisticated daughter, that is)... I’ve told her that when I pop my clogs she’s to keep family heirlooms, but she’s welcome to sell the rest and pocket those fivers.

‘That’s a relief,’ she mutters.

Talking of antique programmes, which I wasn’t, when weird and wonderfuls turn up, my eyes sparkle and my ears prick up. The prize for the weirdest probably goes to a miniature doll's furniture set made of chicken bones. Yes – you heard. Now even I thought that odd. A small value came out of that one.

Another, sweeter object was a bible brought in by a fifty-one year old gentleman. It had been given to him as an eleven-year old starting boarding school to while away spare moments. He had nonchalantly chucked it in the bottom of a cupboard. As one would. Fast forward forty years and the book has been rediscovered – complete with hidden compartment for the Mars Bar, Turkish Delight and Bounty secreted within. Twerp! A value of about tuppence was given.

One Roadshow object was a wooden box containing the original six-inch long cigar half smoked by Churchill at a historic wartime meeting between himself and other leaders at Casablanca. It was taken from the meeting by allies, eventually came into the possession of a wartime veteran who then gave the cigar to his twelve-year-old grandson. Today the twelve year old is the student who brought the cigar in to be valued. The Antique Road Show valued it at £800.

Of the numerous curiosity shoppies we've frequented, our favourite local is the haunted Bourne Mill in Farnham. Architecturally it’s brilliant. Crooks and nannies are secreted within its crooks and nannies and stairs and rooms proliferate. Gorgeous. I’ve bought various bits and bobs, and even attempt bargaining, but haven’t quite reached the professionalism of Paul Martin of Flog It!et al.

I love those experts, and the ones who frequent The Antique Road Trip, who saunter round the country in classic cars that break down, buying up antiques and flogging them – or trying to - in auctions, all for charity.

Let me just get one thing straight. Antiques is something we oldies do, apparently. Nooo. I’ve loved ‘em ever since I was able to utter; ‘I’ll give you a fiver for it.’

Bung that in your 18th century pipe and smoke it!