Archive for December, 2009

‘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


Crackers about Crackers? They Must Be!

Posted in CHRISTMAS, DESIGN, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA with tags , , , , , on December 23, 2009 by echostains

Tom Smith crackers

Christmas crackers are very traditional, the Christmas table doesn’t look decorated without them.  I love the Tom Smith Christmas crackers, which are very traditional and are still being made today.  Invented in 1847, almost by accident and  inspired by the crackling of a log fire – the charming story of Smith’s invention can be read about here.   Some think the Mexican Pinata has links with the cracker, though it takes two people to share in the pulling of it.  Here’s how to make a pinata.


There is always a paper hat and a motto in each Christmas cracker, a strip that creates the bang, and a toy of some kind.  The rule of thumb is, the more expensive the cracker, the better quality the gift.  Usual gifts though are usually, paper fortune-telling fish.  This curls in your hand according to your body heat.  The type of curl relates to your fortune….


Other toys include plastic mirrors, moustaches, teeth.  The jokes contained are usually in the form of a riddle or motto.   Alternatively you can make your own crackers, it’s not that hard, plus you can choose your own hats, mottos and novelties to insert.  Of course, if you can’t be bothered and have money to burn……

Very Gold Luxury-6-Christmas-Cracker from Harrods

There are some very posh crackers being sold.  The novelties of course are more luxuriant.  For example Fortnum and Mason ‘Cardinal Chorus’ are worth £1000 whilst Harrods ‘Very Gold ‘crackers contain more expensive gifts as well as glittered gold feathers and Christmas trees.  They sell for £600 or $1000 for six!.  I am gobsmacked, (as they say around here).  My tip? be a cheapskate: stick to the toilet or kitchen roll tubes and make your own….


Happy Un PC, Health Hazardous Christmas’s I have Enjoyed

Posted in CHRISTMAS, DESIGN, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA with tags , , , on December 22, 2009 by echostains

chocolate cigarettes

When you are young, Christmas is magical – well it seem’s magical.  OK it is magical, only because you can’t see the strings.  Some of the stocking fillers of the past wouldn’t be allowed in the shops these days, yet some of them aresurprisingly  still around.  We took them for granted – the same way we do a selection box for example.  Most young children used to get chocolate ‘Smoking’ sets.  Yes, lighters, cigarettes, cigars, pipe and other smoking paraphernalia – all made out of chocolate!  Horrible chocolate, I may add.  I have tried in vain to get a pic of these sets, but there doesn’t seem to be any to be found on the internet.


1962 baking set, I got one every year

Presents were dolls and baking sets, toy ironing boards and stoves for the girls. Nothing like a good education is there? practise for your future career….   Weapons of some sort, and cars for the boys.  The stereotyping had begun.  As well as the smoking set we also got a tin of Bluebird toffees from Woolworth’s, which usually had a picture of a kitten on the front.  Now, they were lovely creamy toffees.  Unfortunately though, I could only find an image with a dog on (thanks to here)

I usually got one with kittens on

Chocolate cigarettes with that sort of paper you can eat always went down well.  It was commonplace to see young children with these in their mouths.  I’m sure that  advertising a certain cigarette as ‘cool as a mountain stream’ contributed to enhancing smoking’s image as being a ‘harmless relaxing passtime’ .  The chocolate cigarettes are still available from eBay HERE or from HERE.  The others (real ones) are still available (NOT HERE) lol!

consulate – cool as a mountain stream

Toy guns that fired caps were very popular.  You could buy small round cardboard boxes with coils of caps in.  Boys would put them underfoot and stamp.  They were made of gunpowder!  Imagine that – kids playing with gunpowder!!!  They still make them too, (here) though they’ve probably been modified.  Penknives were also popular then and were generally used by scouts in a responsible way.  Not so now, according to this article.  Exciting, yet innocent days eh

The Star Inn Reopens -Oh What an Atmosphere!

Posted in OUT AND ABOUT MANCHESTER, THE STAR INN - THE RESCUE OF OUR LOCAL PUB with tags , , on December 21, 2009 by echostains

Where are the people? inside. Where are the cameras? inside

A very quick one tonight, but I will do a more in-depth one tomorrow.  The Star Inn opened it’s doors yesterday – or should I say ‘reopend’ it’s doors.  What a fantastic day it was, and a lovely turn out.  As you can see the bar looks fab doesn’t it and very contemporary.  The atmosphere, as usual was open and friendly.  Even strangers called in – and stayed.

the new look bar


The evening, I believe was packed out, although I couldn’t be there as I was working.  When this pub is full, the atmosphere cannot be bettered.  I defy anyone to visit for the first time and NOT make friends. I will do some more on this story soon, including more pictures.

He’s Jack and He’s back with a Vengeance

Posted in CHRISTMAS, HOME, POETRY, WATCHED with tags , , , , , , on December 20, 2009 by echostains


It’s obvious that Jack Frost has been to work these past couple of days, not only has it been snowing, it’s also dangerously icy.  I think he’s also been at work on my PC which seems to have ceased up – it’s gone very slow indeed.  But who exactly is Jack Frost?  We know what he feels like, but what does he look like? 

jack frost

I’ve always imagined him to have sharp features and long bony fingers, ideal for nipping at your extremities.   Wherever he goes he leaves a trail of ice crystals behind him.  Perhaps a cross between the above image and the Judder man off the Metz Schnapps advert

‘Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow’ by Tull is great Christmas song and I love it!  But I think the last word about Jack must come from this poem which I found here

Jack Frost

Look out! Look out!
Jack Frost is about!
He’s after our fingers and toes;
And all through the night,
The gay little sprite
Is working where nobody knows.

He’ll climb each tree,
So nimble is he.
His silvery powder he’ll shake;
To windows he’ll creep,
And while we’re asleep,
Such wonderful pictures he’ll make.

Across the grass
He’ll merrily pass,
And change all its greenness to white.
Then home he will go;
And laugh, “Ho! Ho! Ho!
What fun I have had in the night!”

A Visit from the Spiders and Pingback Mountain

Posted in ART, WORDS AND COMMUNICATIONS, WRITING AND BLOGGING with tags , , , , on December 19, 2009 by echostains

I actually saw this giant spider in Liverpool - I will put my pics on

Some days it’s hard to come up with a post.  I just go where the mood takes me generally, and hopefully present it in an original way.  I’ve become a bit bogged down lately, and I think I need to get some more art into this art based blog.  I am still sticking to my one post a day though, and although some of them are short, and mostly spontaeneous, occasionally I do try to do a longer one.  I’ve now made 382 posts.  I do try to stick to one subject per post, though I could stick loads in one post and let the ‘spiders’ (robots) crawl all over it, picking out key words, I prefer not to because then it becomes a kind of tag farm and I’m just using certain tags for the sake of it.  No thanks, seen loads of these and I certainly don’t want my blog to become one!

Boomerang - OK I couldn't get a pic of an actual Pingback but you get the idea? it comes back to you

As well as the ‘spiders’ doing their bit (to the good I may add), there’s the Pingbacks’ to contend with.  I’ve been advised to keep these, though there are rather a lot, as when I link back to my other posts, they come thick and fast.  Sometimes when I read my ‘comments’ email, I think I’m seeing double when I see my own words coming back at me, lol!  It’s like mirror writing!!

Here’s one of my hero’s: he used to live in a room full of them, lol!  (sorry but that was all I could come up with for a ‘Mirror’ pun)  not really a video, just the tune. 

Dear Reader I Read it…Well I’ve started it ‘Branwell Bronte’s Barber’s Tale’ by Chris Firth

Posted in BOOKS! DEAR READER I READ IT with tags , , , on December 18, 2009 by echostains

fantastic pic on the front!

It’s a quick one tonight as my husband has finished for the holidays, and we’re off out for a lovely meal (well, I hope it’s a lovely meal), and I probably won’t feel like blogging when I get back.  This is where the scheduling comes in very handy.

Branwell Bronte

Now for ‘Branwell Bronte’s Barbers Tale’ by Chris Firth. Yes, I’ve finally started it.  And it’s looking good.  I am soaking up the atmosphere of George MacCraw’s barbers shop and the hideous weather.  I can even imagine the light in the shop and smell the fish reeking off fat  David.  It’s going to be an enjoyable read I think, though the text is a bit small for my myopic eyes (out with the Deidre Barlows, the magnifying ones)

wuthering heights but which Bronte?

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of Branwell writing ‘Wuthering Heights’  and wish this could be proved.  But very much doubt it, even if the evidence was indisputable , the Emily fans would never have it…  Still, it won’t hinder my enjoyment of the book