Archive for the HOME Category

Out and About Manchester, Goodbye Frank!

Posted in HOME, OUT AND ABOUT MANCHESTER with tags , , , , on July 9, 2010 by echostains

We were at Manchester arena last night, joining the huge turnout for Frank Sidebottom who sadly died recently  aged 54 from cancer.    An estimated 5,000 people turned up to see Franks Fantastic Farewell,  packing the place out and creating a wonderful atmosphere with lots of laughter and a few tears. 

There were short films of Frank interspersed with acts like Badly Drawn Boy (who we missed).  But among the many anecdotes and performances.

Manchester Castlefield last night


I was rather taken with Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer whose mission it is to bring the Queens English into Hip Hop (or Chap Hop as he calls it) with hilarious results!

Read all about last night here

and here

Frank Video from jxmitchell

Mr B Gentleman Rhymer video by sgtrock70

A Witness to a Murder

Posted in HOME, OUT AND ABOUT MANCHESTER with tags , , on May 18, 2010 by echostains

A puzzle for Sherlock Holmes

This post is not about art.   It is about a very odd experience I had the other week.  I think I was a witness to a murder.  Where I work has extensive private grounds.   At the back of the building is a huge lawn.  The time was between 9 and 10 PM and I was attending to some paperwork when I got up to have a bit of a stretch, and happened to glance out of the window.

Outside I saw the most amazing spectacle – the entire lawn was covered in Magpies!  I have never seen so many Magpies in one place at the same time.  At first I thought that they could have been mating, but when I looked more closely they seemed to be in little groups: scuffles were breaking out here and there.

Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' film 1963

They would run together in packs quickly away from their agressors or take  flight.  It was obvious they were in small teams the way they kept togeher when they ran or flew in formation.  I watched this for some time.  They mostly walked, talked chased and one would peck at another.  After a while, I got back to what I was doing.  But when I looked again about half an hour later, the lawn was bare!  I could have kicked myself afterwards – why didn’t I get a picture on my phone?  I don’t know –  it just didn’t occur to me.  I suppose I was just too puzzled and stunned by the spectacle and by the time that it did – they had all disappeared.  Another strange thing was that there were no dead bodies behind, not a scrap of evidence!

I have combed the internet trying to throw some light on this and the nearest I can come up with is that this meeting was territorial – a kind of ‘turf’ war:).  If so, I don’t know who won.  The only thing I know is that it is one of the oddest things I have ever seen, and I do know that among other collective nouns, ‘A murder’ of  Magpies is what I witnessed!

Magpie pic from here, fablulous Sherlock Holmes image here, The Birds here

Not a leg to stand on – caught on the hop!

Posted in HOME, Uncategorized with tags , on May 1, 2010 by echostains
A Pink Collins – one I drunk earlier

You know if you read my blog regularly, that I always schedule my posts.  There  is a reason for that..what was it?  ANYWAY I’ve been out tonight and I have some postss lined up for when I am away. (which is soon) 

  But I’ve been out tonight..

  A couple of weeks ago,We  discovered a vodka bar… and had a pretty good time there.  I said at the time (and forgot about it, which is typical of me) that I would go back and work my way through the vodka menu…and (guess what a selective memory I have..) I did.. which IS typical of me (the working my way back to…).  

I drank  different vodka’s  – what? – coming soon!

The Fools day out – again

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, HISTORY, HOME, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA, SCULPTURE with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by echostains


Jester statue from Stratford on Avon

It’s April Fools Day again as you will know when someone plays a ‘prank’ on you which you don’t find funny but have to laugh at otherwise you will be a bad sport……  I had a look at what I had written about this ‘hilarious’ day last year, and got a bit of a surprise –  ‘Fools rush in after 12PM and then feel a bit foolish’.  It includes a bit of Folklore, poetry and a dead fairy!

'Ship of Fools' by Bosch

Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch painted a whole ship of fools between 1490 – 1500.  The painting shows these people wasting their lives away in various trivial and worthless pursuits.  the painting is a fragment of a triptych and has the Allegory of intemperance at the bottom.

The Fool from the Rider Waite Tarot

The Fool as depicted in the Tarot cards, is always on a journey, carrying with him in his knapsack innocence and wisdom.  He heads out into the world or on a creative path with only his instincts – he is a free spirit.

Buffoon playing a Lute by Frans Hals

Frans Hals the Dutch painter (1580 -1666) painted his jovial Buffoon with lute in 1623 24 (also famous for his ‘Laughing Cavalier’ whose eyes follow the viewer and Hals’ painting of the Cavalier’s  intricate lace collar.  I like the way that Hals uses smears and splodges giving his surfaces a roughness.  Van Gogh himself was quite a fan.  He wrote to his brother Theo:-


‘What a joy it is to see a Frans Hals, how different it is from the paintings – so many of them – where everything is carefully smoothed out in the same manner.’

Having looked again at Hals again, I am inclined to agree with him.  What a great artist this man was. I think I really do need to do a piece about this old Master.


'April Fool' by Marilyn Manson

I was quite taken by this expressive painting.  It’s called ‘April Fool’ and is by American musician and artist Marilyn Manson.  Manson started his artistic career selling five-minute concept water colours to drug dealers.

Marilyn Manson April Fool here and info about him here

The ship of Fools Hieronymus Bosch information here

Interesting Hans Holbein alphabet Dances of Death here

Jester statue from here

Mothers day yeah!

Posted in HOME with tags , on March 15, 2010 by echostains

I’ve had a lovely time today.  So glad to be lucky enough to be a mother.    I Thank God.  Enough said!

We have a DAY!

Wood nymphs, daffodils and echoes

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, HISTORY, HOME, POETRY with tags , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by echostains

golden daffodils

It’s actually been a Spring like day today!  A bit breezy, but sunshine non the less.  The sun always makes me feel better and more light-hearted.  So light-hearted, in fact that I wrote three  Haiku poems about Spring, plants, even daffodils! (here). 

Here is the Master  Lakes poet himself with a beautiful poem that is now world-famous:-

Daffodils by William Wordsworth

I  wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth

How gentle and lovely!  I enjoy recollecting this poem probably as much as the author who had the original experience – (some of it imagined).  Wordsworth (b. 1770 – 1850) lived in the Lake District most of his life and wrote this poem in 1804. 

Lake Ullswater


At school, we always knew this poem as ‘Daffodils by Ullswater’  but it was originally published as ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ until he changed it in 1807 to just ‘Daffodils’  The poet wrote this poem in 1804  when taking a walk with his wife  near Lake Ullswater.  The sight of the delightful daffodils  ‘tossing their heads in sprightly dance’ remained vibrant in the poet’s memory and gave vent to his imagination on that blustery, stormy day.

Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse

Talking of daffodils, I can’t resist putting one of my favorite paintings in this post.  I used to have this in poster form and I had it in my home for years.  The painting is called ‘Echo and Narcissus’ painted 1903 by John William Waterhouse who was associated with the Pre Raphaelites (and it shows). 

The painting tells the classical tale of the beautiful youth Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection.  Poor chatterbox Echo, cursed by  Juno so that she can only echo the words of others. fell in love with him.  But this love was not to be.  Narcissus in love with his own reflection pined away through love of  himself.  All that was left was the flower, which the God’s named Narcissus, after the beautiful youth.



The story of Echo and Narcissus here

William Wordsworth info here

Inspirational Cumbria haunts of Wordworth

On with the Motley

Posted in ART, HOME, POETRY, WORDS AND COMMUNICATIONS, WRITING AND BLOGGING with tags , , , on February 25, 2010 by echostains

I’ve been very busy at the moment doing all sorts of things.  Some of it  involves getting my house straightened, which is boring, boring, coconut flooring.  Still blogging on Bookstains  (not as much as here) and have written quite a few poems lately (my Arachne rising seems to have arisen again after all these years!).  It may be fun (for me) to get some very early work out and look back on the airy fairy stuff I did in my teens (here’s a post about an early influence) and contrast them with some not very pretty punk lyrics…er ‘The Life of Charlotte Bronte’ springs to mind and would not win me many Bronte fans lol! another one was ‘I Trouble’ and ‘Voodoo dancing’.  I wonder what happened to them?  I might actually come across them in the sort out.  If I do, I’ll put them on Bookstains for a bit of fun . I’m experimenting with different types poems at the moment and enjoying it – which is the whole point of my blogging! 

   The latest one is HERE and very different in style than the other

Jester by William Merritt Chase


It’s good to stand back from time to time and summarise your thoughts and these types of posts help me do just that.  I really need to neaten this site up too – there’s lots of niggling things I can see, not to mention the erratic formatting that STILL goes haywire from time to time.  I keep telling myself that I should change my theme – but I like it too much, so I must persevere.   Blogging  is taking up quite a bit of my time (well, the way I’m doing it),  I must admit I have spent rather a lot of time on some  excellent blogs as I love reading (and seeing) and commenting on what others do.  I fullly  intend to keep  my daily blogging up: I have promised myself that I will post every day this year and I want to keep to this.  I  want to concentrate on my Bookstains blog too, continue to write a bit of poetry, carry on my book reviews and challenges.  And I’m still  working on a separate place for my personal art  which shall be launched this year.  So  on with the motley ….lots to do eh!



Valentine – what a Saint!

Posted in BYGONE ADVERTISING AND PACKAGING, DESIGN, HISTORY, HOME, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA with tags , , , , on February 14, 2010 by echostains


I love this valentine!

Yes it’s that time yet again……  So if you have forgotten – woe betide you lol! This tradition started in the Middle ages when lovers sang or recited their valentines, which is rather nice.  The  valentine card  began in the 1400s and the paper ones were made in factories in the early 1800s

Typical vintage valentine

This early card is by  Esther Howland. an American printer and artist.  Howland was one of the first people to publish and sell valentines in the States. This  paper lace valentine Circa 1875 is so intricate and  astonishing in detail – and  a very precious item in the emotionscard museum (beautiful cards here)

earlist Howland card

According to tradition, The Roman Emperor Claudius  at one time banned young men from getting married because he wanted to recruit them for his army.  A priest called Valentine went against the Emperor’s wishes and married couples in secret.  For this he  was put into prison and sentenced to die.  A young women wrote to the priest and became his friend.   He would sign his letters to the woman ‘Your Valentine’.  So Valentine became St Valentine, Roman martyr.  or so the story goes….



Valentines have changed a lot over the years.  Original ones were made or real lace and very elaborate.  But there have been a lot of comical ones too.

Cute and Corny

Here’s a contemporary valentine card – which I found quite amusing.  It’s available from here, and it could be given any time.

Zombie love is undying love

The history of Valentine? HERE

Here is the heart on the cart link

Valentine mosiac from HERE

Pop Corn and other Vintage valentines available here