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‘Come cuddle close in daddy’s coat Beside the fire so bright, And hear about the fairy folk That wander in the night.’ Robert Bird.

Earlier this week I was at the park with the girls and had let them off their leads for a while so they could go exploring.  While they were pottering happily about I stood in a sunny patch of late afternoon sun, looking at the water, not thinking much about anything, until I gradually became aware that someone was standing in front of me, laughing and waving their hands in front of my face.  “Sorry,”  I said, “I didn’t see you there.  I was away with the fairies . . . ”

This is an expression I have long used when (rudely) brought back to reality from some internal mental wandering.  I am not sure when I first heard the phrase or even when I started saying it myself, and I am also sure I never thought much about where the saying came from either—until I recently came across a book which gave me a whole new insight into the mythology, and superstition, of fairies.

fairy1Fairies have never really been on my radar.  I have always loved fantasy books and films but even as a young girl (when young girls are supposed to like these things) I don’t remember being particularly fond of fairies. At least not the type that were around when I was growing up. Those fairies were all delicate gossamer wings and flowers in their hair and danced about mushrooms at the bottom of your garden.  Not really my thing.  (I prefer my fantasy Middle Earth style—with warrior elves and dragons and goblins.  I am a LOTR tragic and make no apologies for it . . . )

But then I read ‘The Good People‘  by Hannah Kent.  This book, based on a true story from 19th century Ireland, tells of three women, a disabled child and a village steeped in folklore and superstition. The fairies (‘the good people’) of this story were as unlike J.M. Barrie’s ‘Tinkerbell’ as anyone could imagine.  They were respected, revered—and feared.  The local villagers believed, beyond doubt, about a nether world populated by all manner of other-worldly creatures, and fairy abduction—the snatching of a healthy infant from its cradle and leaving a ‘changeling’ in its place—was a thing to be feared and protected against at all costs.  Those poor stolen babies were remembered by their kin as being ‘away with the fairies’ . . .

It’s fascinating stuff, and the book is a step back to a time and place few of us can now imagine.  So, if you are looking for a good read—a serious, haunting, bleak, compelling read—this might be well worth your time.

But be warned—you may never think of ‘faerie folk’ the same way again.  I shall certainly think twice about describing myself as sometimes being ‘away with the fairies’.

I now find myself a little more anxious now about what I might meet on the other side . . .

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Donald Duck. “Quacking” people up since 1934 . . .

A couple of months ago, David, the owner of our local movie house, The Plaza Theatre, asked me to do a tidy-up job on an original 1940s advertising board he had recently acquired.  Having never tackled anything like that before I was a bit nervous about taking it on, but I said I’d give it a try.  

(This was ‘sight unseen’ of course.  When David told me about the board I had it in my head that it was going to be about the size of a sandwich-board, so I was somewhat taken aback when he brought it around and I realised it was actually taller than I was!!)

I regret now not taking a photo of it as soon as it arrived it but I didn’t think about at the time.  By the time I did think about it (first photo below) I had already spent two days cleaning, scrubbing and hand-sanding 60 years of dirt, mould and general ickiness off it.  (My girls helped, as you might imagine.)  It had seen some wear and tear for sure.  The sides and edges were particularly knocked about, and it was covered in dings, dents and cracks, along with thousands of pin holes and lots of tiny little (almost invisible) nails (possibly the remnants of long-ago staples) which I discovered when I started sanding and repeatedly caught my fingers on.  (I can honestly say I worked on this until my fingers bled . . . )

It took a couple of weekends and a good deal of trial and error as to what materials to use (and not to use) and many repeated admonitions to the girls of  “No.  NO.  NO!  Go over there.  Go sit over there. You’re good girls, but PLEASE DON’T STAND ON THE BOARD!”, but in the end it was done, and I was reasonably pleased with the final result.  It was a fun project and I enjoyed having a try at something a bit different.

To cap the whole experience off, David unexpectedly gave me a bunch of free movie tickets for my efforts as well!!  Woo Hoo!!

A few fun facts about Donald Duck . . . .

Donald Fauntleroy Duck was created by Walt Disney when he heard Clarence Nash doing his “duck” voice while reciting Mary Had a Little Lamb.  Nash voiced the character from 1934 to 1983.

Donald first appeared on the silver screen on June 9, 1934, in the animated short film, The Wise Little Hen, dancing to the Sailor’s Hornpipe. He then went on to star in seven feature films and won an Oscar in 1943 for ‘Der Feuhrer’s Face’.

Donald has an uncle (Scrooge McDuck) a girlfriend named Daisy, a twin sister named Dumbella, and three mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie . . .

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I speak over 2000 languages, including Dodo and Unicorn.’ Polynesia the Parrot. (Dr Dolittle)

I saw a program the other day in which children were asked who their favourite superheroes were.  Not surprisingly all the usual suspects were thereSuperman, Spiderman, Batman, Daredevil, The Hulk, Wonder Woman, The Flash . . .  Out of idle curiosity I then did an online search and found a survey in which adults were asked the same questionand the results were almost exactly the same.  (What? No Deadpool?)  

While I admit I love to watch the Marvel-movies these days, I can’t say I ever identified with any particular superhero when I was growing up.  I remember I used to watch the Superman TV series with my dad (along with really old re-runs of Flash Gordon (‘Flash, a-ah, saviour of the universe’) although I don’t think he can be counted as a superhero as he didn’t have any real superpowers) but my dad enjoyed these shows much more than I did.  When I was younger I always thought these shows were kind of silly, but the older I get the more I enjoy them.  Colours, lights, explosions, aliens, implausible plots, buff-bodies in lycra and body-armour . . .  I mean, what’s not to like?

And I started to wonderif I had to pick a superpower for myself, what would it be?   Mmmm, so many to choose from.  I am not keen on flying at the best of times, so that one is out.  Reading peoples’ minds? (I think I would prefer not to know.)  X-Ray vision? (eeerk—that’s just creepy.)   Invisibility? (meh.)

Then something happened this week which brought on another of those ‘WTF?’ moments (I seem to be having them a lot of lately) which decided it for me.  My superpower of choice would be the ability to talk to animals, a la Dr Dolittle (‘ . . . if we could talk to the animals, learn all their languages, maybe take an animal degree . . . I’d study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle, alligator, guinea pig, and flea . . . ) 

. . . but the very first animal language I’d want to be able to converse in would be ‘dog’ . . .

On Wednesday I came home as usual to a pack of silly, raucous, over-excited little dogs, who barked and bounced and jostled and hounded me (ha-see what I did there?) until I eventually changed into my daggy-duds and was ready for our afternoon walk.  (Well—not  Molly.  Molly decided a couple of weeks ago that she was never going to go walking with us ever again—but that’s a whole other story.)

So we left Molly sitting in the front window guarding the house and Mabel, Maude and I set off for the park.  All good.  We played on the grass, barked at the big scary dog around the corner (from a safe distance), met and chatted with some friends and then headed out along the river walk towards the beach.  By this time everyone else seemed to have gone home for their dinner so I let the girls off their leads so they could stop and sniff and explore (and wee) to their little hearts’ content.

(When I say ‘explore’ Maude usually roams far and wide—as long as it is within a six foot circumference of me, and Mabel rarely leaves my right heel . . . )

Anyway, there I was, happily walking along, looking at the water, watching the birds (wondering whether I should have brought my sketchbook with me) when I suddenly realised that Mabel was no longer at my side. Looking over my shoulder I found the girls sitting close together on the path about 100 yards behind me.  Just sitting . . . and watching me walk away.  I called them to me.  No response.  I called again.  Nothing. They just continued to sit quietly and watch me.  I scanned the area to see what might have stopped them. There was nothing.  Or at least nothing I could see.  No other people, no other dogs, no other . . . anything.

I called them to me again.  Nope.  They moved not a muscle.  Sigh.  As I started back towards them they stood, turned, and headed for home.  Well, okay then. Home it is.  They didn’t appear upset, or scared, or distressed, but something—some sound, smell, sight—or notion—had stopped them dead in their tracks, and left me clueless. They may both be a bit scatty at times but this was weird even for themand they have always come to me when called.

When we got home they greeted their long lost sister Molly, ate their dinner and settled in for the evening as if nothing untoward had happened.  And perhaps it hadn’t.  Perhaps there was nothing freaky going on and I was reading too much into it.   Maybe they had just had enough of walking and didn’t want to go any further (I guess there is a first time for everything).  Or perhaps (and I think this is the most likely option) they were trying out a new doggie-jedi-mind-trick on me (in which case—it worked.)

I’m resigned to that fact that I’ll never know what was going on in their wee heads that day (or any other day for that matter) but I can’t help but imagine how cool it would have been to have had the ability to look my girls in the eye and asked ‘What the . . . .?’  — and actually received an answer.

Now, that would be something to blog about . . .

Post Script:  
If my girls could have superpowers of their own, I wonder which ones they would choose?

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Since I was little, this is my favourite place to come.’ Peter Pan. (J.M. Barrie)

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I can’t remember what Peter Pan’s favourite place was when he was little (the indian camp?—the mermaid lagoon?) but I remember mine was always the movie theatre.

Some things never change . . .

The Plaza Theatre
(see here for photos)

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘The only way to see a movie is in a big theater, on a big screen, with a big bag of popcorn.’ Dan Glickman.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

maltesersI agree with almost all of Dan Glickman’s statement . . .  everything except the bit about the popcorn.

How anyone, given the choice, could choose popcorn over a big bag (oh well okay then—a big box) of deliciously-chocolatey-honeycomby-creamy-crunchy-Maltesers is, frankly, a bit beyond me.  But, there you go—there’s no accounting for taste . . .

Allthough popcorn is not my movie snack of choice (it’s not even anywhere on my list) I do admit to a having a certain kind of fascination with the popcorny-popping process.  I have often stood and watched (while clutching my coffee and maltesers and waiting impatiently for the cinema doors to open) the shiny little machine at our local Plaza Theatre do its popcorn-birthing thing.  It’s kind of mesmerising to watch . . .

I can only imagine how much more mesmerising it would be to me if it were churning out yummy-scrummy Maltesers instead of popcorn . . .

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Posted by on January 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Who needs snowflakes when you have seashells . . .’ Unknown.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

dogtellyI had the telly on a lot last weekend.  I admit, most of the time I wasn’t even watching it, it was just background noise. But every now and then, when I needed a break, I’d stop what I was doing, go make a cup of tea and settle myself onto the couch and ‘drop in’ to watching whatever was on at that moment.

christmassnoopyThis time of year, of course, it’s pretty much Christmas movie after Christmas movie.  Many of them I have seen before (some of them I can even recite the dialogue . . . )  and most are fun to watch again (although, even at this time of year I can only digest so much sugar . . . ) but it still strikes me every year how seriously weird it is to be watching Christmas movies where everything is all over ice and snow, everyone is rugged up in coats, scarves and boots—and I am dressed in a sun-frock and have all the doors and windows open hoping to catch even the slightest of breezes . . .

lucy-snowI am not complaining.  At all.  I spent a number of Christmasses in Europe (albeit many years ago now) and although I have very fond memories of them I honestly do not miss that kind of cold.  It looks all very lovely and romantic on chocolate boxes and yuletide cards and in Christmas movies, but the day to day getting about and living in it is a whole different story.  So, weird as it feels sometimes, I am quite content to watch those kind of Christmasses from afar.

But to my friends and family overseas who do enjoy a cold and frosty Christmasgo for it!  Eat, Drink and be Merry!  (You can fill me in on the details later . . . )  

The girls and I are thinking of you all . . . and sending warm (literally) and sandy hugs across the miles . . .

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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.’ Abraham Lincoln.

Stories from my Sketchbook  . . . 

coffee-and-tea-clip-artThe most popular drink in the world, bar none, is water.  The second most popular drink in the world, depending on which set of on-line statistics you believe, is either tea or coffee. (I don’t quite understand how red wine is not in the running, but there you go . . . )

Anyway, during the day at least, I am (unapologetically) a tea drinker, and green tea at that.  I drink vats of the stuff.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t like coffee, I do—my special treat when I go to the movies is a large flat white coffee (and a bag of maltesers)—but, to me, coffee is coffee is coffee.  I am, in no way shape or form, a coffee aficionado.  It doesn’t make much difference to me what kind of roast or blend my coffee is.  As long as my coffee is hot, it’s fine.  (I can hear coffee-lovers heads exploding all over the place after that comment . . . )

However, it appears that even my special once-in-a-while coffee treat could now be in jeopardy—apparently there is a coffee crisis looming.  In September 2016 the Australia’s Climate Institute released a report which predicts that by 2050 global warming will have made at least half of the land currently used for coffee production unable to produce quality beans.  And by 2080 hot temperatures could make wild coffee plants completely extinct.

As I am only an occasional imbiber (along with the fact that I will be 91 years old in 2050 and 121 when wild coffee plants eventually become extinct) such a coffee crisis is unlikely to affect me much personally, but I thought I should probably make mention of it . . . just a kind of ‘heads up’ to some of my coffee-addicted friends and colleagues to let them know that their beloved brew is in peril, and they might need to do a little forward thinking—a little pre-planning (start hoarding now folks) if they want to ensure they continue to receive their daily hit of their favourite beverage . . .

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I’ve just had a thought.
If I took my own pretty coffee mug into the cinema with me, no-one would really know what was in it would they?
It could be coffee . .  or tea . . .  or red wine . . . 

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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