Sunday, 31 October 2010

Trick or Treat!

I love trick or treat. :)

Last year I heard the tiniest knock at the door, so I opened it to see a little devil standing about 2 foot tall, with an even smaller ghost behind him. After some prompting from Mum, the little devil ventured 'Trick or treat?'
I praised his outfit and offered him the bowl full of treats. A mini-sized hand with little pudgy fingers stretched tentatively out and selected a bar of chocolate. The ghost was busy swinging on my gate and seemed quite oblivious to anything else, so I said 'Would you like to take one for your little brother?' Again the hand came forward. Then Mum said 'Are you going to say thank you to the lady?'

It was then that the little fella uttered the immortal words, 'Thank you My Lady'. Both me and Mum had to contain our laughter. It was the cutest thing in the whole wide world.

I wonder what this year will bring. Here's our stash.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


I am just about to ship out an order to the Forest Garden Centre near Matlock in Derbyshire.

They have taken the mugs as well as lots of cards, so look out for a nice big instore display soon.
They've taken the Pussy Golightly range. Here's a couple of cards to give you the idea.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Spanish lady

I might have been a bit over-enthusiastic on ebay recently...

Here's a lamp I just bought. You put a lampshade on the top. What do we reckon, charming kitsch or terrible tat?
She won't feel out of place though, because look! Here are these little wall plaques I inherited from my grandmother.
I've been wearing my hair a bit Spanish looking recently. Swept up and high. Always a good sign it needs a cut.


Once upon a time I had an old blue skoda. If you had seen it parked up on a street you might have thought it belonged to the Eastern European version of Columbo, such was its style, age and condition.

I bought it from the great-nephew of the Monocled Mutineer, Percy Topliss. Which quite frankly, was the only vaguely glamorous thing about it.
When mobile, the noise was so extreme, it sounded like an aircraft landing directly overhead. It was also very draughty, so for a long journey, the wearing of a coat and gloves was advisable, even in summer.
Whenever I was driving down south and I had my cat Wellington in the car with me, he would set up a whine which lasted the whole journey.
I thought he was saying, Muuuuuum, it's noisy, I'm cold, I'm hungry. Let me out of the cage!
But he could equally have been saying, You! domestic servant! This carriage is for peasants. Do you know who I am? I am master of all I survey. Bring me tuna.
Sometimes when I was on the motorway people overtaking me would be laughing and pointing and waving. Sometimes, if there were lots of them, they would be near hysterical. I have to say, it always made me laugh too.

I once offered someone a lift, which she accepted. On seeing the car, she changed her mind and said actually she would get the bus.

It met its end in a most dramatic fashion, on a rural lane in Somerset one New Year's Eve. It was before mobile phones so I had to talk my way into an old woman's house to ask for help. Turned out the head gasket had blown so my cat and I had to be towed all the way back to Nottingham.

When the scrap merchants came to collect the car, the children of the street did a dance all around it as it was being hauled onto the van. One last episode of humiliation, and my relationship with the battered blue car was over.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

From Russia with love day 4

Here are some freckleface cards from my new folksy ranges celebrating the Russian aesthetic.
First up is Miss Russia with Red Square in the background.
Secondly a young lady playing a balalaika.

I was thinking Doctor Zhivago. Lovely woodland, fur hats and of course the last scene when Tonya, the daughter of Yuri and Lara walks off and slings the balalaika over her shoulder.

Finally, mustn't forget these Russian Roses from the Cloud Cuckoo Land range.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

From Russian with love day 3

As a child I wanted to be a prima ballerina. Dame Margot Fonteyn was my absolute heroine. Whenever we were home on leave, our mum used to take us to see the ballet at Covent Garden.

So when I came to do my thesis, it is not so surprising that it was The Ballet Russes and its influence on fashion. Love the colourful costumes and stage sets by Leon Bakst and Marc Chagall, the stories, the grace and skill of the ballet dancers and love the Russian folk influences.

Monday, 18 October 2010

From Russia with love day 2

All images copyright Pentti Sammhallahti and Candace Dwan

One of my favourite photographers is Finnish photographer Pentti Sammhallahti.

I always feel like he captures a story rather than just a scene. And there is lots of humour in his work.

I particularly love his Russian photographs. Dogs are a recurring theme in his work, always there, up to something. And these kids just make me laugh every time.

From Russia with love

Look at these darling postcards from Russia.

In a previous existence I was a University Lecturer. My first students were a group of visiting Professors from Minsk University. Being called 'Tania' was a lifesaver. They all had a wife, daughter, sister or aunt called by that name. So I feel a teeny bit Russian by association.

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Last night it was Girl's Night Out. A twenty year institution with me and the girls from college. Normally nine of us, but last night only six.

They brought me flowers.

There are rules; arrive at 4pm Saturday, eat cake, drink tea and chat. At around 6pm switch to beer or cava. 7.30pm rush round getting ready. 8pm go out.
Come back, eat salty snacks and chat until the early hours.
Next morning, beans on toast in pyjamas, chat until midday, go home.

Last night we went cheap and cheerful at the local pub. We played Rock and Roll Bingo!

There is serious glamour involved.

And some clever girls. Here's a handprinted card from Lois.

And some work by successful designer Stephanie Thannhauser in Progressive Greetings. See her website here.

A really lovely time...

Monday, 11 October 2010

Magic Mushrooms

Yesterday when we were at Hestercombe, we were lucky enough to come across a magical field of mushrooms.
There was a band playing. It was a rather hot little fella called Elfis, and he was accompanied by his backing dancers, the Hula Honeys. The audience was transfixed. One little elf offered us a ferrero rocher, so we knew it was a classy affair.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A day out

Today my mum and I met up with friends at Hestercombe House, near Taunton in Somerset. We spent a wonderful autumn afternoon walking through the gardens. There is an 18th Century landscape garden with lakes and woodland walks dotted with follies, followed by a formal garden designed by Lutyens and Jekyll. A perfect day.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Orange legs

Thursday nights mean only one thing. Badminton. So last week I put my shorts on in readiness.

Then I caught sight of myself in the mirror. Oh the whiteness of those legs. Like legs which had been kept undercover their whole life, legs deprived entirely of sunlight. My upper body and lower body looked like they owed their existence to different sets of parents.

But to every problem there is a solution. And mine was fake tan. I shook the bottle and applied. Liberally. Looked in the mirror again. Mums and dads had swapped positions.

In short, my legs were to orange what the Incredible Hulk was to green and the Smurfs to blue...

For another sporting disaster please go to Killer Mosquitos on the loose!