Archive for December, 2009

‘New Years Eve 2009 already’

Posted in CHRISTMAS, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA with tags , on December 31, 2009 by echostains

well why not?

Here’s my post for New Years eve 2009, except I’m really writing this on 30th December so I’ve not been out kicking my heels up – yet.  I shall have to review my resolutions from last year and see how many I’ve stuck to.  New Years eve’s shenanigans with be blogged on New Years day (that’s if there is any shenanigans or goings on).


I will also have new ones to include, this unfortunately means getting rid of a lot of dead wood which includes  people and  a lot of time wasting at work. I’ve got better things to do with my time. I intend to become a lot more focussed, like I used to be.  There’s travel on the cards too next year and a lot of new directions that I look forward to trying.

books books books

It’s not been a bad year though.  After a  very slow start, the year seemed to get better and better as it went along.  We have a lot of work to do on the house and I have a lot of art stuff to do, which I am really looking forward to.  I hope that this blog will be going this time next year as I have completed one year already.  I still need to list my books for the reading challenge yet (and I’m still reading ‘Branwell Bronte’s Barbers tale’) but I should be OK as I read well over 6 books a year.  In fact, I wonder how many books I do read in one year?  It might be very interesting to keep a list of them next year.

Nothing left to say, except a new year – a new start and


And…why has the formatting gone to pot on this post?

‘Winding down the year’


Well the year’s very nearly over.  Is it just me, or does this decade seem the shortest decade ever?  It seems only yesterday that we celebrated the Millenium.  It’s frightening how life is galloping on, and the pace seems more and more frantic the older I get.

the next decade? fireworks as usual

There is a feeling of winding down as the year draws to a close, only to be fired up for a brief time , starting on 1st January 2010.  As usual, I shall start the year with good intentions , – I might even keep to my resolutions this time –  I can only hope.

Las Vegas

There are new  ideas are planned for my blog next year and there is a possibility of a music blog that my husband and I have been working on.  Not sure how that is going to work out yet, still playing with different formats.  This year has been the usual mixture of highs and lows, one of the highs being the Las Vegas wedding, and there have been quite a few lows, which I won’t go into:  suffice to say, I shall be glad to celebrate  2010, though it shall be with some trepidation because at the end of it I shall be……..lets just say older.

‘Watched:Upstairs, Downstairs, series 5′

Posted in LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA, period drama, WATCHED with tags , , on December 29, 2009 by echostains

(The above episode is taken from the opening series made in 1971)

I was bought the 5th series of ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ as one of my Christmas presents.  I love this period drama about the life of the Bellamy family and their servants. Set in Eaton Square London in the Edwardian and Georgian period,  the idea for the series was written by Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins. and started off as a rather more racier story centring on two maids (to be played by Marsh and Atkins).   The Eaton Place character’s were very different to the ones we get to know (see here)

the cast of series 5

There are 5 DVDs in series 5 and so far I have watched  the first one.  It’s so exciting because I hadn’t seen any of these episodes before. I can’t wait to see the rest, but I am going to eke them out because this is the last series – which is a great shame.  As the series progresses, the War changes everything.  Big  houses who depended on servants suffer. The emancipation of the working person get their first taste of freedom and for a lot of people (scary though this is) it does not include servitude.

the servants of Eaton Place

When I started watching the series, I always thought that I would sooner be one of the Upstairs women.  I could swan  around in lovely dresses, devise menus, go out for luncheon, have lavish dinner parties, live in a fabulous house and be waited on hand and foot by servants and generally have a carefree wonderful life.

165 Eaton Place – who would not want to live here? in any capacity

But I’ve changed my mind.  The Downstairs servants seem to have a better time of it really, plus they have a kind of comradeship and seem more like a real family, looking out for each other and having to make allowances for each other.  There’s still a hierarchy though, with the formidable Mr Hudson (Butler) and Mrs Bridges (Cook) being the head of this family – and little Ruby, the skivvy bringing up the rear as the eternal child.

servants could still have a laugh (at Hudson’s expense)

The responsibility of the Upstairs family is to look after the Downstairs servants – and vice versa and both sets take their responsibilities very seriously (in the Bellamy household at least).  Even when there are only two people left Upstairs, James Bellamy does much soul-searching before he gives the full complement of servants notice.  All turns out well in the end, as MP Richard Bellamy returns to live back in Eaton Square with his new wife and his stepchildren making it a happy home again.  From watching earlier episodes which include some of the Late Lady Marjorie’s friends, it would seem that not all households respected their servants as much as the Bellamy’s did though.

Richard Bellemy and Lady Marjorie (unfortunately, M’lady went down with the Titanic)

So then, if I had to make a choice (and for some it wasn’t a choice, but a necessity), I would rather be a servant, with set hours, set rules, live in a big beautiful comfortable house without the responsibility of the bills.  I would be happy with my day off, probably save some money (no bills and hardly any leisure to spend it) eat as well as those upstairs,  get loads of exercise and sleep better in my bed than I do now.

‘Weird and wacky design: Grunt and squeak and squark with the animals…’

Posted in DESIGN, WEIRD AND WACKY DESIGN with tags , , on December 28, 2009 by echostains

I found these weird and wacky designs with an animal theme. I think  the singing deer’s head is hilarious!  He’s called Buck, apparently he’s meant to sit on your desktop…Skynyrd will never sound the same again.  The best though and in totally bad (as in bad is the new good) taste is ‘Rawhide’.  I think they should do a mule one singing ‘Mule train’ as it bangs a tray over its head….  Want the deer one? HERE

Doggy genes

I am  astounded (and I really shouldn’t be) but, Genealogy for dogs?  Test your dog’s DNA. I suppose this would be handy to establish pedigree, but it would be really amazing with a mongrel (a Heinz 57 variety kind of doggy).  Plus, who is to say if the ancestry is correct or not? there are no relatives who can come forward and confirm.  I find this most strange indeed, – but no doubt it will appeal to some, so  the link  is  HERE

the animal scales

Continuing with the animal theme, I rather like these wacky animal scales.  Instead of reading your weight in lbs stones or kilos, your weight comes out in rabbits, ducks, armadillos or even horses!  Imagine being the same weight as a cart horse!   What an incentive to lose weight eh!  I reckon I need to lose a few ducks (well maybe a gaggle of geese).  I think these scales are great fun, but perhaps a way to really drive it home is for the animals to make noises……buy them HERE

‘Good old King Wencelas – Bohemian benefactor?’

Posted in CHRISTMAS, DESIGN, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA, PAST PLACES with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2009 by echostains

St Wencelas

I’m typing this post on 26th December, the feast of Stephen – otherwise known as Boxing Day.  Traditionally this is the day where presents were opened by the needy – given by the privileged.  Well I suppose  we are either too needy now, or we just couldn’t wait, as the majority of us open our presents on Christmas day.  I love the carol ‘Good King Wencelas’ because  it is a narrative of a story, making it easy to imagine the page and Monarch going forth in search of the poor man, who is to be found under the mountain against the forest fence, just near St Agnes’s fountain.

Wencelas is the middle one

It is such a beautiful carol that promises  reward for helping people less fortunate than ourselves.  But who was King Wencelas and did he really exist?  The answer is yes he did and little did I know when I sang this carol as a child that one day I would be crossing a bridge that commemorates this saint amongst others.

King Wencelslaus was actually the Duke  of Bohemia in the 10th Century as well as   the Patron saint of the Czech republic. The bridge I am referring to is  Charles bridge in Prague

charles bridge Prague

Wencelas Square is a place of many historical happenings, uprising and celebrations all happen here, all overlooked by the statue of Wencelas on his horse.  However all is not what it seems with Wencelas, who it is argued was not called Wencelas, was not a king and was far from good!  You’ve heard of chestnuts roasting on an open fire? well, the old Duke/King  liked to do this with non believers apparently…read all about it HERE

There is a lot of information about the legend of  Wencelas HERE and other derivations of this saint, contrast and compare…….


‘Christmas an anti climax?’

Posted in BOOKS! DEAR READER I READ IT, CHRISTMAS with tags , , , , on December 26, 2009 by echostains

my lovely snow boots which I can't wait to try out!

After a huge Christmas dinner, it has been decided (the same as every year) that I MUST go on a diet in the New Year.  In fact this always becomes a resolution that doesn’t take long for me to rebel against.  One of my Christmas presents was a pair of snow boots! What a coincidence that I was writing about slipping and sliding in the snow only the other day!  Of course the snow is now melting………..

I don’t believe it (said in a slightly slurred Victor Meldrew voice) who? see above.  Someone who shall remain nameless bought me  the ‘Mr Darcy Vampire’ book!  Now I shall have to read it when I’ve finished ‘Branwell Bronte’s Barber’s tale’ by Chris Firth, which is going down very well with me and which I’m nearly halfway through.  But at the moment 8PM Christmas day when I’m writing this, I am recycling all the leftover veg into a tasty and nourishing soup (hopefully)

Mr Darcy Vampire 'He a beauty? I'd soon as call his mother a wit'


It’s been a lovely Christmas day and I’m now relaxing with a drink or two.  In fact I have been so good today booze wise – just a couple of sips of wine with dinner and a couple of vodkas and cokes.  Boxing day to look forward to now and then it’s all over.  So much preparation for such a short time.  Why do we do it?   Because it wouldn’t be Christmas without all the hassle?  The run up to the main event is much longer than the actual event itself, it’s making Christmas an actual anti climax.


‘Christmas has the last word (the first is ‘happy’)’


deck the head with blackened tinsel

Still in the swing of Christmas Eve at the moment, wrapping presents and making chestnut stuffing, except I couldn’t get any chestnuts so I thought I would be a little innovative and use hazenuts and a few chopped pecans.  Other ingredients includes sausage meat, apple, garlic…..

here's some I didn't do earlier......

So, just finished wrapping presents and I must say there doesn’t look much to warrent all the money spent, but that’s Christmas for you.  Even managed to get the black Christmas tree up in time and I must say it doesn’t look too bad.  Just having a drink and putting my feet up in a moment.  Not going out.  Are you kidding? not in this weather.  Hope everything has defrosted by tomorrow.  All that is left to say is a HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE WHO READS THIS, and THANKS for reading my blog xxxxx

‘Forget hanging your stocking up – wear em on your feet!’

Posted in CHRISTMAS, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA with tags , , , on December 24, 2009 by echostains

stockings that are a bit tooooooo nice to use

Just had to venture out to do some more shopping.  After being more or less snowed in yesterday, there was a lot to do.  Lots of people are in hospital with broken limbs, due to the hazardous weather conditions.  It’s quite frightening really, walking on sheets of ice.

schuh shoes - the higher the better (once)

When we were young we never worried about such things.  We wore high heels come wind or rain.  Christmas or New Years eve, dressed up to the nines off we’d trot, (well, perhaps trot is the wrong word…) out on the town to have a good time.  One trick we used to do was put a pair of woollen socks over our shoes.  Don’t ask me why this worked, but it just did, it gave more of a grip.  Of course. as soon as you got to the venue, you whipped them off and put them in a plastic bag.   You either threw em away or put the soggy things back on to go home in.  Usually we threw em.  Somehow, we never fell over on the ice going home without these trusty socks  – I don’t know why though, probably more confidence induced by the alcohol!

early American native indian snowshoes

The native American Indians used to wear these snowshoes, made of wood, metal and yarn.  Mountaineers wear these sort of snowshoes (below) they can climb mountains in them, go anywhere there is snow without falling over.  But you don’t have to use them just for snow, you can use them for all sorts of recreational activities, like golf or just keeping fit.  What’s really interesting about these is that the length of the snowshoe depends on the weight of the person and what they will be carrying.  Don’t know how this works if you are carrying another person though.  Fancy a pair? HERE

serious snowshoes