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Melbourne

Today is the day that the city of Melbourne in Australia was founded! Since I frequently celebrate the anniversaries of American states I thought it was only fair to balance it out with something Australian.

Porcelain Blue Pattern Earrings by MyBlossomCouture


It was hard to choose a shop to feature, but in the end I went for this lovely jewellery shop. There's lots of lovely earrings, as well as necklaces and some pretty hairpins.

Have a nice evening everyone!

Yesterday I went to the National Trust property Osterley Park to visit their Country Fair weekend. I was a bit apprehensive because in my experience London doesn't manage to get the "countryside vibe" when it tries this kind of thing, but I thought I would give it a shot. I was also tempted by the fact that the posters about it mentioned jousting and the last time I saw that was when I went to the Renaissance Faire in Ohio a few years ago.

The bad news is that it was £6 for entry and honestly I don't think it was worth it. There were three small marquees as the "craft fair" part and they were mostly full of jewellery. Looking at the stall prices on the organiser website, it's pretty obvious that most crafters would have been priced out of featuring right from the start. It seems that nowadays you're not a proper "craft business" if you can't afford £150 for a stall, even over a two day event. In comparison the last time I did a fair back in my home village is was £20 for a day in the craft marquee, and they cover two fields that never seem to be short on sellers.

Last time I went to a country fair was the awesome one hosted at Hatfield House, which I won tickets for. THAT was impressive as it had a wide range of things to see and do, with several events going on at the same time throughout the day, a huge range of places to buy food and quite a lot of charity stalls as well. Osterley Park had a few children's rides and a few food stalls, but nothing out of the ordinary, and public numbers seemed a bit thin on the ground as well.

However despite all this I managed to get some decent photos.


Osterley Park Hall - Front View


Osterley Park Hall - Front View


This photo is the ceiling on the inside bit between the pillars at the front of the house (I can't think of the proper technical name for it).  


"William Wallace", one of the Knights of the Damned

I can't remember the name of this "character" but the rider is a woman, she did a very nifty stunt where she tried to pick up a "peasants head" by dropping down the side off the saddle.

"William Thatcher" and his adversary "Count Adhemar", clearly someone has been watching 
"A Knight's Tale" a bit too much.

Overall if it wasn't for the jousting I would have felt that ripped off. I don't think I'll be bothering to go back next year unless there's definitely more stalls and more to see throughout the day.

Have a nice day everyone!

Cookies

I spend part of every Sunday doing a bit of baking so I can have a little extra in my lunchbox. This generally consists of either uniced fairycakes (uniced because I don't really have the time or inclination to deal with icing XD), chocolate chip cookies, or cornflake cakes.

Today I've been baking chocolate chip cookies, which are a favourite of my colleagues at work so I thought I'd share the recipe so others can share them with family and friends! It's not a family recipe, it's one that my Mum got from a Mary Berry cookbook, so if it looks familiar it's probable that you've got the same book!

Cookies by Me!

6 oz (175 g) soft margerine
8 oz (225 g) caster sugar
12 oz (350 g) self raising flour
4 oz (100 g) chocolate chips
2 eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 180 celcius or gas mark 4 and prepare 3 baking trays. Depending on how much mixture you use for each cookie you can get around 12 to 18 cookies, sometimes I manage to get 20 if I've got a few small ones in there.
Measure all the ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly until you get a smooth biscuit dough (if you're doing this by hand then your arm will get tired halfway through).
Place large spoonfuls of the mixtures well apart on the baking trays (I do 6 per tray). Flatten them with the back of the spoon.
Bake for around 15 - 20 minutes, then remove from the baking tray and cool on a wire rack.

They are incredibly tasty, probably because of the amount of sugar! Don't even ask me to tell you the calorie count XD Also the photo above is quite old as I took it a few months ago, but I use the same recipe every time and they all turn out the same :)

Have a nice day everyone!

Last Minute

This blog post is incredibly last minute due to me going food shopping, pausing in Richmond for a cuppa, then forgetting all about needing to write a post while I ate dinner and showered and started planning my holiday in Holland in a few weeks time.

I can't even find a nice photo or anything in my favourites to feature here. This is probably a sign that I should go to bed soon.

Have a nice evening everyone!

Over the weekend I finally got round to watching the CGI film Rise of the Guardians. It was created by DreamWorks Animation (creators of the Shrek films) and came out in the cinemas last year.

It tells the story of Jack Frost, who is chosen by the Man on the Moon to become a Guardian of children. The current Guardians are Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Sandman. Santa has a Russian accent, and the Easter Bunny is Australian (and voiced by Hugh Jackman). The "bad guy" is Pitch (as in "pitch black"), a Boogeyman that no one believes in.

Rise of the Guardians buttons by beanclam

The story is good, but I was really impressed by the animation and the scenery design, as well as some of the twists on childhood tales. Everyone knows that Santa has Elves, but did you expect to see Yetis? And the Easter Bunny lives in a lush green wonderland with tiny little eggs that bathe in paint to make them multicoloured.

If you have children, or are like me and just like kids films, you should really check out Rise of the Guardians. You might want to leave it until winter though, it has a very Christmassy feel to it, even though it's actually set at Easter.

Have a nice evening everyone!

Never too early

If you're planning on making homemade gifts, or you're a knitter or crocheter who's going to be attending craft fairs, it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas!

Every year I consider making my own Christmas cards, and then leave it far too late and don't get round to it. It's not got to the point where I instead buy Christmas cards in the January sales and simply store them away until December (although we won't mention the first year I did this, where I bought the cards and then forgot about them the following Christmas).

This blog post was mostly inspired by a Treasury I found, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

Jolly Robin Knitting Pattern PDF by fluffandfuzz

This Treasury has plenty to help you get started as it contains knitting and crochet patterns to download and supplies such as ribbon and bells to decorate your creations.

Have a nice evening!

On this day in 1851, Isaac Singer was granted a patent for his sewing machine.

Sewing machines weren't new at the time, but Singer's was more practical to use and could be adapted to use at home (according to Wikipedia).

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Instruction Booklet by sewmuchfrippery

Singer 66k Sewing Machine by HomeRetroUK

Happy birthday Singer sewing machines! I think they're pretty iconic, the very old vintage ones certainly are.

Have a nice evening!

The National Gallery

Continuing with my theme of visiting places, on Friday I visited The National Gallery with the same person I went to Tate Britain with yesterday. The National Gallery is open late on Fridays, and free to get in, it's also very easy to find as it's right next to Trafalgar Square.

Most of the galleries are on one floor, but grouped to cover a geographical area and a certain number of years, so one area covers paintings from 1500 to 1600, and then it's split in to Florence, Venice, the Netherlands etc etc.

Erasmus by Hans Holbein the Younger

I was quite pleased to see the Holbein is one of the artists on show as I've always like his work, although I have to rely on the descriptions to spot all the hidden symbolism he includes.

We didn't get round the whole thing, but what I saw was very nice so we'll be going back again in the future to finish off the rest of the galleries!

Have a nice day everyone!

Tate Britain

Today I went in to central London to visit the Tate Britain. I'm actually quite tired as it was a longer train-ride than I expected and then I walked along the Southbank as well afterwards, so this post is going to be quite short.

It was very interesting, I'm not a massive fan of art at the best of times but it was interesting to see some of the older things they had there. The Turner Gallery was nice, I hadn't seen much of his work in the past but the person I was with enjoys his art and knew a lot about the other works we were looking at, so for once I didn't wander around feeling like an idiot.

I still maintain that a lot of modern art is pretentious rubbish though :P

Have a nice evening everyone!

Trajan

On this day in 117AD the Roman Emperor Trajan passed away. He was the son of Emperor Vespasian, and is the second of the Five Good Emperors.



Vote Trajan by The Creative Historian

Have a nice day everyone!

Tanabata

Today is the beginning of the Tanabata festival in Sendai, Japan (the date of the festival follows a lunisolar calendar, so the date can be different for different regions). This festival celebrates the story of The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. The Wikipedia page has more about it, but the story basically goes that the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd meet, fall in love and marry. They neglected their duties, so the Weaver Girls' father, the Sky King, banned them from seeing each other.

The Weaver Girl was upset by this, and begged her father to let her see her husband. The Sky King agreed, but stipulated that they could only meet once a year. When the time came for them to see each other they found that they were on opposite sides of a bridgeless river. The Weaver Girl cried so much that a group of magpies took pity on her and made a bridge with their wings, so she could cross the river and be with her husband.

Since this is a "star festival", you can look in the sky and see the lovers, separated by the Milky Way.

Tiny Silver Star Wish Bracelet by lilyloveslola

Have a nice evening everyone!

New Doctor

Last night the new actor to play The Doctor was announced, and it's Peter Capaldi, who is known in the UK for swearing quite a lot in various films and TV shows.

I'd pay good money to see him tell a Cyberman to "f*** off", but then they'd have to broadcast it after 9pm :(

Tardis Bayeux Tapestry T-Shirt by flamingimp

Naturally this all means that I went searching Etsy for Doctor Who, and now it turns out you can get a t-shirt (and a mug) with Doctor Who in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry!

Have a nice evening!

Yesterday was the first match of the new football season! You might remember my blog post on the Last Match, which was a sad one for me to write as QPR had been relegated down to the Championship.

However a new season brings new optimism! And that optimism has been well rewarded as QPR beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 yesterday! I wasn't at the match, I was at work instead, but I'll be sure to get a run-down of the events from my Dad this afternoon. I can also wear my football shirt with pride tomorrow, once it comes out of the washing machine this afternoon.


My football feelings are well known by my friends, which is why my lovely friend Poppy tagged this with my name on Facebook. It isn't actually me, although I am a Katie, but I can safely say that even I don't own QPR-themed garden gnomes! I do have a QPR teddy though...

Have a nice day everyone!

William II

Today in 1100 AD, King William II of England was killed while hunting in the New Forest.

William II is quite an interesting character as he was the second son of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. Technically his older brother Robert should have inherited the crown (King Robert of England? Would we have called him King Bob?) but their father decided to split his kingdom and gave Robert the Dukedom of Normandy while William got England. Their younger brother Henry was given some money.

In the end though Henry had the last laugh. Along with ruling the kingdom the King was expected to provide an heir to his line, but William II (also known as William Rufus) didn't marry, or have any illegitimate children that may have inherited (his own father, after all, had been born out of wedlock and still gained the Duchy of Normandy). When he died in a hunting accident, Henry rode across the country to the Royal treasury at Winchester, then rushed up to London and promptly had himself crowned as King.

This of course leads to the suggestion that William's accident was more of an assassination, planned and paid for by Henry. William was barely cold before Henry had himself crowned, and chroniclers at the time state that William's hunting buddies left him where he fell (rushing off to support their new King), he was taken to Winchester Cathedral and interred by a few "countrymen" (Normans, rather than English). Whether or not it's true is entirely unknown, Henry either had a great sense of timing and vision, or he didn't fear the consequences of being betrayed by a conspirator.

I've always found the story interesting though as when we drive down to visit my Grandmother in Dorset we pass a road sign pointing to "The Rufus Stone". This stone is a memorial that was supposedly placed in the spot where William was killed. Of course it's impossible to tell the real spot, the New Forest is large and it happened hundreds of years ago. But it's still a fitting tribute to England's second Norman king, and the New Forest itself is beautiful enough to warrent a visit anyway.

Have a nice evening!

Goldfish

My housemates have gone on holiday for a few weeks, which means I've become a goldfish carer!

To show how seriously I'm taking it I've added "Feed goldfish" to my Google calendar alerts, and the fish food is on top of the microwave in the kitchen, a spot I walk past whenever I go in the kitchen, so even if Google fails me hopefully this won't.

Cute Goldfish Charm by Linnypigs

Except the goldfish isn't gold, he's blue. Does that make him a blue goldfish? A bluefish? A sapphirefish?

Have a nice evening everyone!

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