Friday, 29 March 2013

A Weekend To Remember....

Hello all, I'm sorry not to have visited the land of Blog very often during the last few weeks - I will have a proper catch up over the next few days, i've missed you all! The reason for my absence is that i've been completely absorbed in our office move. Yes, sadly the solicitors where I work are moving offices (for the third time)and today the removal company are busy carting the hundreds of boxes i've helped to pack and a huge van load of office furniture over to a smaller premises about 200 yards away. To say "smaller" is putting it is miniscule compared to the beautiful 4 storey Victorian building we've inhabited for the last 4 years - we are all very sad to leave it - but, unfortunately, due to the economic climate, the only option is to downsize, at least I still have a job - sadly for two members of staff that is no longer the case.

Anyway, over the last week my colleague Michelle and I have done TEN trips to the local tip/recycling plant with The Boss' car, something for which he was very grateful for (he is NOT a man to get his hands dirty and is quite happy for the women of the office to do all of the hard work!). We have taken car loads of old, broken printers, shredders, etc, etc, basically years worth of office junk. Now i'd better admit something here...I LOVE a trip to the tip, and was more than happy to volunteer! The husband has been in despair, as usually he tries to keep me away - the problem being that our local Tip/Recycling plant also sells (for a very nominal price) anything worth salvaging from the van or car boot before it is dumped in to the assortment of skips. It is all stored in an outbuilding, tempting you in with an eclectic mix of bikes, trikes, outdoor toys, garden furniture, etc, displayed outside. Oh lordy I am in heaven! During the past week I have come back with a lovely vintage corner unit, a huge Bi-orb fish tank (for a £1!) an assortment of garden ornaments (for Mia's little garden), 2 framed paintings, a tall-boy and a huge vintage wooden sledge - all crammed in to the back of the Boss' BMW! Oh how Michelle and I laughted til we cried on the way home imagining if we were to break down on the side of the road and have to phone The Boss - can you imagine how i'd explain the haul in the back of the car! (it was bad enough explaining it to The Husband!) So yes, safe to say, it is lethal to take me anywhere near a skip!

So moving on the main topic of this post...Mia and I had a fantastic weekend in Manchester a fortnight ago when I took her on our long-awaited trip to see One Direction!! We had amazing seats, just 3 people between us and the boys - (I have to admit that Harry and Louis are a guilty-pleasure of mine!!), and they were brilliant! Mia was so extatic when they first appeared on stage that she burst in to tears!

Here she is in our hotel just before leaving for the concert;

Mr Styles himself!

And then after being deafened by the thousands of sreaming teenage girls (and fully grown women!) we went back to the hotel for a "girlie evening" Pj's on, tucked up in our huge bed watching a DVD and ordering room service!

We had a fantastic weekend, the first time I have ever left Baby Boy for a night, although he didn't seem bothered at all and was more than happy to stay at home with his daddy. Mia and I really enjoyed some quality mum & daughter time, just seeing the look on her face when her beloved Harry first appeared on stage was simply priceless!

Marina xx

Thursday, 28 February 2013

A glimpse back in time..

I love to live in an old house, and I say “old” loosely because for many people it has a different meaning. To me, old is anything pre 1930, but I know for many, it has to have been built at least a century before that to be classified as really old! I am always really interested to find out the history and about the lives of the people who have lived in a house before us, and love to imagine a family from a hundred years ago carrying out their day-to-day lives in what is now our home. You may recall a television series which first aired in 2011 called Marchlands.* I loved that, not only because I really enjoy a good ghost story, but mainly because of the way the story would flip between 1968, 1987 and 2010 – 3 different, unconnected families but all living in the same house. The décor, fashion, etc was of course dramatically different during each period in time, and I enjoyed the way the story would interweave from the family sitting down to breakfast in 1968, then forward in time to 1987, a different family, again having breakfast in the same room, but changed somewhat to reflect the decade, 20 years on – it was also a great dollop of nostalgia of course, having been a child of the 80’s! Watching a repeat of this series recently, lead me to imagine what it must have been like to live in our own house throughout the last century.

The husband it’s safe to say, does not share my interest and only slightly looked up from his laptop when I came in excitedly exclaiming that I’d not only found out who lived in our house, but that I’d also found photographs of some of the occupants from 100 years ago! Oh how excited was I!! (Hmmm note to self;…perhaps I should get out more!) I must get this interest from my mother, who loves nothing more than to delve in to the past, be it our family history, or indeed local history, so she was even more excited than I at my discovery, and over the last few weeks we have pieced together quite a substantial history of our house. * I’ve decided after writing this post to publish it in two parts as it’s quite long! This first post will concentrate on the people who lived here and their lives. The second one will focus more on the house itself, with some photographs, how it has changed over the years and what we hope to restore – an exciting project which we plan to do gradually (time and money permitting) over the next few years!

In 1905 a Mr John Francis, builder, submitted the plans for a "pair of villas" each a mirror image of the other. These said plans now hang in our hallway (kindly left to us by the previous owner), and I have photographed them as best I can here;

You will see the house not only had an upstairs bathroom with WC, but also a downstairs WC - pretty unusual in those days, i'm sure that most houses still had an oustide loo! The first bedroom was listed on the plans as being downstairs,I wonder why this was? Making a total of 9 bedrooms,two of which are now no longer used as such.

John planned to live in one of the houses and rent the other, our house, to his childhood friend James Bufton, his wife Mary, and their 3 sons Percy, James jnr and Vincent. The two men had grown up on neighbouring farms during the late 1800’s so had known one another from a very early age. James senior was a Ladies Tailor, and Mary a dressmaker, and together they worked from home until the early 20’s, when they expanded their business and opened up a shop in the town. They had a lodger who worked for James as an apprentice up until the War. Coincidentally, the family moved to this house from the very small street (just 10 houses) where we ourselves lived until we bought here - in fact they occupied number 8, just 4 doors away from our old house.

In 1914 Percy, their youngest son, joined the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry, and they are pictured here in the fields right behind our house, Percy being one of them, before they left for War;

Can you imagine his mother Mary, perhaps sitting in the house at the moment that photograph was being taken, and the anxiety she must have felt at the thought of her son going off to War. I can’t even imagine it! We don't know if Vincent or James joined up, we haven't found any information to date.

Percy came home on leave at Christmas 1915 and was photographed in the town wearing a German Spiked Helmet;

A month before this James senior, obviously having prospered in his business, purchased the house from John for £700! Quite a sum in those days!

During the War, Percy was photographed again home on leave with a young woman, which we must presume (from the amount of photographs she is in) was his fiancé, Eveline Lewis.

Percy and Eveline married in 1921 and had 3 children between 1922 and 1927. They all lived in the house until moving out to a neighbouring village at some point, from records we have found they were certainly living there as a family in 1924 with James and Mary. Percy served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force.

James died in 1950 age 86, and his widow Mary sold the house in 1952 to the Baptist Corporation, where the Minister of the local Baptist Church and his family lived until the mid 1960’s. Mary lived with Vincent and his his family until her death in 1955.

Percy died just 6 years later aged 70, and he and Eveline are buried in a village churchyard in the parish of where they must have moved on to in later life, just a few miles away from here.

They had occupied our house for almost half a century, through two Wold Wars and seen the world change dramatically in that time. All of the other families since, have stayed no more than 15 years. Hopefully we will stay for longer. I love it. It’s somewhere I feel I belong, and I hope that we will be as happy as obviously James and his family were!

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Pen-Pal Pairs!!!

Hello all!

Well finally here I am with the pen-pal pairs as promised! I've really enjoyed looking through everyone's blogs and trying to pair everyone up - I hope i've done a good job!

Thank you again to everyone who has taken part, I was really thrilled with the amount of interest, and we actually ended up with 11 of us so I have paired myself with two of you - I hope you won't mind!! (I'm more than happy!)

So here we are;

Jill at Homespun Seasons;
and Jean at Rowan Trees and Bumblebees

Tracey at Mad About Bags; and Millie at New World;

Karen at Me, My Camera, Eye; and Joy at Welcome to Daisy Row;

Busy Little Chicken; and Miz-bag at Sidmouth Poppy;

Sue from Vintage from the Village; and me at Evelyn May

Laura from Domestic Doris; me; at Evelyn May

I've been through the list carefully but if i've forgotten anyone i'm so sorry and please let me know!!

Now that i've announced the pairs it's down to you, I invite you to contact your pan-pal via their blog and arrange to swap addresses, etc, via e-mail and then you can get started! I will really look forward to hearing how everyone gets on - a year from now I will do a blogpost update :) As I said in my first post, it's up to you how often you write, and some of you might agree this with your pen-pal before you begin.

Who knows...perhaps 20 years from now some of us will still be writing..isn't that a lovely thought!

Good Luck xx

Friday, 8 February 2013

Penpal Pairing Update...

Just a very quick post to thank all of you who have signed up to my pen-pal pairing, I had intended to announce the pairs tomorrow, but unfortunately i've come down with the flu and have spent the last couple of days in bed :( - i've therefore decided to keep it open until next Wednesday 13th Feb, this will give any last minute takers the opportunity to sign up, and hopefully i'll be on the mend by then too. It has been lovely to read your comments and enthusiasm as to begin with I hadn't been sure how popular the idea would be, i'm really looking forward to matching everybody up! For now though, if anyone else would like to sign up, just leave a comment here or on my previous "Pen Pal" post before the 13th February :)

Marina xx

Saturday, 2 February 2013

A Sign of Spring...

Just a quick post, I hope you are all having a nice weekend, unfortunately the husband and Mia have been ill most of the week with the flu, the husband in particular has been really ill and in bed most of the time. Baby Boy & I have (touch wood) so far escaped...lets hope it stays that way!

Today the sun shone and was weather-wise the best day by far that we've had since moving to the new house, until now i'd never seen the garden draped in sunshine. I'm sure we haven't seen the worst of the wintery weather just yet, and only a week ago all was white with snow, however a sign that Spring is on it's way slowly..our first Snowdrops under the old apple tree in the garden;

They remind me of my Grandma, she used to love to find the first snowdrops, Spring was her favourite season.

Baby Boy was not a happy bunny that i'd left him in the pushchair while I went to photograph the snowdrops, just look at the face!

Aah that's better...

It's been an unsettled week, I hope we get back to normal very soon when everyone is on the mend, I've kept busy researching the history of our house, many nights i've been up until the early hours searching the net, it can become totally addictive but i've found out so much in such a short time, i'm in the process of writing a blog post about the family who lived here 100 years ago, I find it facinating.

Also a quick reminder that in my previous post I mentioned a pen-pal pairing, a few of you have left a comment to say that you'd like to take part so i've decided to go ahead! if anyone would be interested in taking part then here's the link to my last post with all the info;

I will keep it open until Friday 8th February;

Marina xx

Monday, 28 January 2013

Would Anyone Like A Pen-Pal????

I wonder who else, like me, has an old shoebox (or in my case, several!) squirreled away at the bottom of the wardrobe or perhaps in the loft, containing your life's memories. It was very recently when I was unpacking from the move, that I had a quick look through one of my many boxes and found bundles of my childhood pen-pal letters, kept together in date order and many of them even contained a copy of my reply!

I've had lots of fun reading back through these letters, there are quite a few as I had pen-pals in the UK as well as abroad, but one thing which has struck me as being really sad is that children these days, or indeed adults (those that I know, anyway) just don't have these opportunities anymore, no one that I know has a pen-pal these days. Obviously social media has had a massive impact upon this, but an e-mail or a message via facebook just isn't the same, don't you agree, as coming downstairs in the morning to find a hand-written envelope in your letterbox, an update from the pen-pal you have gotten to know almost better than some of your friends through such detailed correspondence.

As a child I can well remember the excitement and anticipation to get home, when my mum would tell me on the walk back from school "you've had a letter from Inverness" which would be from my Scottish pen-pal; Alison.

There were so many opportunities back then to make it very easy to obtain a pen-pal, every club that I became a member of as a child seemed to offer the chance – I remember getting them through both the Stamp Bug Club (yes, I was a child stamp-collector) and the YOC (young ornithologists club, where I was paired with Alison from Inverness), and also recall a campaign via the Royal Mail in the late 80's which paired you with two pen-pal's from around the world – I had Marie-Louise from Denmark and Jo from Australia. There was also the French exchange student who I was paired with via the high school; Marie-Agnes, although we only exchanged a couple of letters before the language barrier become too much (we were only 12). I also had a boy pen-pal called Kristian (via the Stamp Bug Club!) and we kept in touch, and even met up a couple of times during our teenage years, and we remain "facebook friends" even now, 20 years on. The others, I'm sorry to say, gradually fizzled out as we grew up.

Of course, before e-mail and social networking sites, hand-written letters were the only way to keep in touch, and so much more fun, I think. When I was 13, I went on a horse-riding holiday for a week, and made two friends from Essex; Lucy and Terri. We became so close during that week, (it was the best, most fun holiday I ever had, and boy did I cry when my parents came to collect me!) and wrote to one another religiously week after week for the following 5 or 6 years. Terri and I finally drifted apart and I think we last wrote when we were 19 or 20, before we lost touch. Lucy, however, has become a very close friend and in our 20's we visited one another often, and she was even one of my bridesmaids at our wedding! Pretty amazing don't you think that we have stayed such great friends, despite the distance, all because we kept in touch via our weekly letters from the age of 13; it meant such a great deal to me to have her there on my wedding day, 16 years later!

I know that many people I have spoken to feel that it is such a shame that pen-pals have gone out of fashion, or rather been superseded by the social media. Therefore, I have decided to put the feelers out with this post to see if anyone would be interested in a "Pen-Pal Pairing"??? Basically, if enough of you comment or contact me to say that you would be interested in having a pen-pal, then I will put the names together in a hat and pair you up, then the rest is down to you. I know that having the time can be an issue these days so perhaps we could all agree to write once a month (or more often if you choose to). The Rules would be something like this, and if I decide to go ahead then I will create a "badge" for you to copy and post on your own blogs to spread the word;

1. Please comment below if you would like to be paired up; and state if you have any preference as to UK or abroad or whether you don't mind. Please spread the word and display the badge on your blog;

2. To correspond the good old-fashioned way with letters only!

3. To try to correspond at least once per month or as agreed with your pen-pal;

4. Obviously as with the usual "blog swaps" I will be unable to take any responsibility after I have announced partners. Once I have done so please contact your pen-pal via their blog in order to arrange to swap addresses, etc. Whether or not you and your pen-pal continue to correspond will be of course down to you both.

5. Pen-Pal pairing is only available to those of you with a current blog.

6. Please comment on this post by Friday 8th February and I will announce partners on Saturday 9th February.

As I say, this is just a post to see how many of you would be interested, depending on the response I will let you know if I've decided to go ahead in a couple of days time. Also if anyone has any ideas as to the rules or whatever, do let me know!

Marina xx

Friday, 25 January 2013


I thought I would share with you all these photos of our newly restored vintage rocking horse “Dapple”. He is very much at home here in our new house, having spent the last 20 years getting very damp in my mum and dads’ garden shed– a crime, I know!

He was mine as a child, my dad came home with him one day after coming across him in a local second-hand shop. I remember having lots of fun with him – I used to spend hours just plaiting his mane and tail. However as I grew up, it became “un-cool” to have a rocking horse in your bedroom, and he was replaced by a stars & moon sofa-bed for when friends came to stay! Poor old Dapple was relegated first to the garage, where he suffered some water damage and finally to a small outbuilding, covered with a blanket where he spent the last two decades being eaten by mice and getting very damp.

I’d often thought about finding him and seeing what condition he was in now, but like my parents, we had never had the room for him at any of our previous houses – until now! My parents therefore decided to finally resurrect him from the shed and restore him to his former glory as a Christmas present for Mia and Baby Boy.

It is fair to say that my mum and dad had a lovely time “doing him up”, they spent a lot of time - and money, his new mane and tail, being real horse hair,, the original hair being completely eaten away by mice. The result, I hope you’ll agree, has been worth it – he looks spectacular, and well at home in our Victorian house!
They were very proud to carry him together along our street on Christmas morning to be greeted at the front door by Mia – who had a surprise as she had NO idea!

Dapple is once again very much loved, and will stay in our family – he will certainly never be relegated to a garden shed ever again!