Sunday, 23 December 2012

christmas treasure hunt - christmas eve

this is a christmas treasure hunt post for my family and friends.

This is the final christmas challenge, email me your answers.

1. What does Jonah do on Christmas Eve in Sleepless in Seattle?

2. What does Annie do on Christmas Eve in front of her family, in Sleepless in Seattle?

3. What type of dress does she later try on and what happens to it?

4. Who plays the villain 'Hans' in Die Hard?

5. What American city is the skyscraper in Die Hard located in?

6. What event takes place on christmas eve at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?

7. What is the problem with Ron's dress robes, which he wears to this event?

8. What is the title of the pop song sung at this event?

9. What does Harry give Mrs Forrester on christmas eve in Return to Cranford?

10. Which two characters return to Cranford in the midst of a magic act on christmas eve?

11. In 'Twas The Night Before Christmas' story, what are the children dreaming about?

12. What drink does Bryn offer Gwen and Doris on christmas eve in the Gavin and Stacey christmas special?

13. In The Good Life, Margo sends back her entire christmas order on christmas eve as the christmas tree is too short.  By how much?

14. How does the tradesman describe Barbara's eyes?

15. What drink does Tom make Jerry when he arrives back from work?

16. In the Vicar of Dibley episode with the famous christmas lunch incident, Alice gives Geraldine her christmas present on christmas eve, what is it?

17. What is Geraldine desperately trying to do on christmas eve?

18. In Love Actually Sam jumps security barriers to run after a girl at the airport on christmas eve.  Which actor plays the unamed character who has 'lost' his boarding pass and thus gives Sam the opportunity?

19. Billy Mack leaves a showbiz party at Elton John's to spend christmas with his manager, what is his manager's response?

20. In Love Actually Jamie proposes to Aurelia on christmas eve. What is her exact answer?

And that is the end of the quiz!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

On the 6th day of christmas... true love gave to me six geese a laying...

Here's an old completed project - a goose from Tilda's 'Crafting Springtime Gifts' that I originally wanted to make a few years ago, remember?

I wanted to do stripy legs, but couldn't find the fabric.  However she does have lovely dungarees and a hat made from cabbages and roses fabric.  About the same time I made the snail pin cushion...

(all those black flecks are from my grubby camera phone)

Friday, 30 November 2012

christmas treasure hunt - queen's speech

This is a christmas treasure hunt post for my family and friends.

The Queen's Speech is broadcast every year on Christmas Day at 3pm.  Complete this history test:

1. The first royal broadcast was delivered live from Sandringham in 1932, by which monarch?

2. Which famous children's author composed the first christmas speech?

3. Why was 3pm chosen?

4. Which monarch delivered the speech in 1939?

5. Which actor played this monarch in the film 'The King's Speech'.

6. What year did the Queen make her first christmas broadcast, and in what year was it first broadcast on television?

7. In 1969 there was no broadcast, instead a written address was issued. Why?

8. How many takes does it usually take for the Queen to get her speech right?

9. In 1992 the Queen used the phrase 'annus horribilis'. What disasters had befallen the royal family that year?

10. What is the name of the radio dj who was sacked in 2009 for interrupting the broadcast with the comment 'Two words; bor-ring' and switching to a Wham! track.

And that is the end of the quiz.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

christmas treasure hunt post

This is a christmas treasure hunt post for my friends and family, but if you want to answer the questions for fun go ahead, just leave your answers in the comments.

My favourite film is 'In Which We Serve', made in 1942.  Watch from 32:23 to 39:52 to see the flashback christmas scenes, and then answer the questions below.

1. Who and what are toasted? (There are six toasts).

    (bonus question: why don't they stand up for the first toast of the third scene?)

2. Which actor plays 'Shorty'?

3. What is Freda referred to as?

4.  How is 'betrothed' defined?

5. Which christmas carol do the children sing in the street?

6. What drink does Shorty's mother ask for?

7. What word does Cath object to, which has been used in the navy since times immemorial?

8. How many crackers can you hear crack in the final scene?

And that is the end of the quiz.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

books, books, books

No posts for a while, my life has been turned upside down and no books have been read in a while.  

Its been difficult to concentrate on reading, so I've just concentrated on necessary textbooks recently, but after all those Sharpe books and all those Aubrey-Maturin books I'm very excited about my newest one: 'The Napoleonic Phenomenon', and it's set book: Stendhal's 'Life of Napoleon'.

In the summer I read a few more Sharpe books, I've read 'Sharpe's Sword' and 'Sharpe's Enemy', and I'm now up to 'Sharpe's Honour'.  They have begun to reissue the books with new covers, so I must get the last few to complete my collection as soon as possible.

What else? I've also left my job as a children's bookseller, after four years working for a large bookshop in Bath.  Before I left I got Herve Tullet's 'Press Here'.  Its a very imaginative book, as all of his are, I love it.

A few weeks ago I was in Paris, and sought out several children's bookshops.  The differences between French and English bookshops are fascinating, for me the biggest difference is the picture books.  In England we have lots of full size, paperback picture books, and only a few hardbacks as these tend not to sell, being more expensive.  In France they have strict laws governing book prices, so they have lots of full size hardback picture books, and very few paperback ones.  However they do have quite a good range of A5 size picture books, which are unheard of in England.  These are very cheap, though well produced.  I bought 'The Hungry Caterpillar' in french as a present for two friends who still work in that children's department in Bath, and to my utter delight stumbled upon a childhood favourite of mine in french, Peter Spier's brilliant 'People'.

Two books that I haven't started yet, well, I'm only a few chapters in, are Ford Madox Ford's 'Parade's End' - I loved the recent television adaptation with Benedict Cumberbatch and make no apology for buying this edition - and Elisabeth Kehoe's 'Fortune's Daughters' which I bought in the giftshop of Blenheim Palace.  Blenheim was a beautiful day trip, and especially fascinating as the former home of Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, who's autobiography 'The Glitter and the Gold' I read earlier in the year.


Thursday, 3 May 2012

books, books, books

Do you remember 2009? I kept track of all the books I read that year, and recently reading those posts again I've decided to diarise my literary year again.

Since January...

The Waiting Game, Alexander Fullerton
Nicholas Everard; Vol 2 Mariner of England, Alexander Fullerton
The Glitter and the Gold, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan
Hard Times, Charles Dickens
Snobs, Julian Fellowes
The Light Years, Elizabeth Jane Howard
Marking Time, Elizabeth Jane Howard
Confusion, Elizabeth Jane Howard
Casting Off, Elizabeth Jane Howard
The Cranford Companion, BBC


I've really enjoyed all these books, the Cazalet chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard is a monumental family saga, with a 'cast of thousands', and is an incredibly detailed portrait of an upper middle class English family before, during and after World War Two.  Alexander Fullerton's 'The Waiting Game' is a very tight book, quite different from many of his others, and focuses on a secret naval mission to Norway.  'Snobs' was fun, though a little predictable, 'The Cranford Companion' was a bit of a treat and is a gorgeously produced book, 'The Glitter and the Gold' is a fascinating, though curiously written, memoir of the former Countess of Marlborough, which I found in the wake of Downton Abbey series 2 fever.  As it's a memoir, rather than a biography, you can sense that much is hidden, glossed over, or forgotten, but it is enjoyable for all that.  And 'Hard Times' was brilliant, a tight, witty, interestingly written book with a plot that isn't that sorrowful or depressing after all.

And do you remember this post, when I started to read more children's books? I did read most of the books in that list, and I still read children's books...

Since January...

Moominland Midwinter, Tove Jansson
Don't Want To Go, Shirley Hughes
The Girl Who Loved Wellies, Zehra Hicks
Stanley's Stick, Neal Layton and John Hegley
Again, Emily Gravett
Dogs, Emily Gravett
Monkey and Me, Emily Gravett
Lost and Found, Oliver Jeffers
Up and Down, Oliver Jeffers
The Incredible Book Eating Boy, Oliver Jeffers
Stuck, Oliver Jeffers

It's A Book!, Lane Smith
Paddington Bear in the Garden, Michael Bond
The Story of A Seed, Eric Carle,
In Wibbly's Garden, Mick Inkpen

Most of these are picturebooks, and I'm quite choosy over picturebooks, poor illustration totally kills it for me.  Moominland Midwinter is the first Tove Jansson book I've ever read, and it was perfect for the January afternoon I spent on my sofa wrapped in a blanket.

And here are some books I really love by Usborne;

Usborne The Story of Art Sticker Book
Usborne The Impressionists Sticker Book
Usborne Art Sticker Book
Usborne Kings and Queens Sticker Book

Though I am doing an undergraduate course in Art History, I've found these books to be fun and pretty informative.  Definately a great thing to buy if you're a beginner but need a break from, or are totally put off by, heavy tomes.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Diamond Jubilee Series - Cupcakes

Baking cupcakes for the Jubilee weekend? There are some very cool and kooky cupcake kits out there, here is my pick...

Just Added! Today I discovered the lovely watercolour-style Jubilee range by Waitrose.  I particularly like the little trays, perfect for triangle-cut sandwiches. 

Meri Meri 'It's British' kit £8.99 at and 'It's Terribly British' kit, £10 at

Jubilee Canape Flags, £4 for 24, a

Royal Jubilee Cupcake Decorations, £5 at

Navy Diamond Jubilee cupcake toppers, Union Jack Edible Butterflies, Royal Retro cupcake toppers, from £1.69 for 12,  at

Royal Retro Cupcake Toppers

Jubilee Cupcake Wraps and Toppers, Cupcake Thrones, Mini Jolly Windmills, Jubilee Pop Top Decorations, Jubilee 3 Tier Afternoon Tea Stand, all available at

And finally, the Good Food website have a gorgeous rose, almond and raspberry Jubilee Cake recipe here.

Jubilee cake

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Diamond Jubilee Series - Etsy Treasury

This post in the series is entirely devoted to some of the lovely handmade things available on etsy.  

I'll start with these Queenie Brooches, at £3.50 each by the dove stop, in grey felt, I think 
my favourite is the middle one 'B'.

Another cushion cover by helkatdesign; hand printed limited edition commemorative 
Jubilee stamp cushion, £42.

I love this Diamond Jubilee Typographic Art Print Framed With Crown, by wallenvyart, backed with a vintage page from Dickens's The Pickwick Papers, £20

These Diamond Jubilee Inspired Fabric Buttons by JasmineandCoco are £7 for five.

I love the raspberry shade of this Queen's Diamond Jubilee tea towel, £10 by stephaniecoleDESIGN

A fresh take on bunting by StampandStitch, £12, in mod-ish red, white and blue.

This Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Cushion upcycles a tea towel; The Lucky Fox, £13

And finally, the deep blue and mother of pearl buttons are very appealing in this pearly-kings-esque 
A3 Diamond Jubilee Poster, £30, by sugarrushuk

Monday, 16 April 2012

Diamond Jubilee Series - Union Jack

Feel the urge to get your Union Jack on? Look what I found...

Union Jack Cake by biscuiteers £65

Handprinted grey union jack flag crown cushion, £25, by helkatdesign on folksy.

Grey and white linen union jack cushion, £68, by Elephant Trading Company.

Vintage Jack, made to order, £80, at Angel

United Kingdom diamond jubilee flag, canvas print £70, greetings card £3, by Rachel Markwick

Keep Calm and Carry On union jack poster, £9.95, from here

Union Jack cardboard bunting, by East of India, £9.99 from Good Gift Company

East of India fabric union jack heart, £6.95, at Angel Bloom

Pimms, at all good supermarkets

Navy union jack print wellies, £26 at Debenhams
Prestat truffles in a union jack box, £15 at John Lewis

Montezuma's Great British Summer Pudding chocolate bar £2.95
Floral union jack liberty print scarf, £55 at Liberty

Union Jack blossom mug by Pearl and Earl, £8, here