Friday, 25 December 2009

The Twelve Doors of Christmas

Today is Twelfth Night "The evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking". Tomorrow, I for one will be busy packing away the glass baubles in to their tissue paper clothes, for the next twelve months..along with the multitude of reindeer and forest of trees..I am sure a certain amount of procreation went on whilst my back was turned. There seem to be far more reindeer on the mantelpiece than I remember...

I could well be considered a bit humbuggy, as I itch to start dismantling the festive fripperies as soon as Boxing Day is upon us.. and have been known to fill the recycling bin with Christmas cards on this day. I do love Christmas and we have spent the most relaxing and stress free Christmas that I can remember for many a year ..BUT.. I long to turn the page to a new year, a new beginning .. a chance to put things right that went awry, askew.. just didn't happen ... during the last 365 days.
Whilst the people of Bath were tucking in to turkey and wearing silly hats, we were walking around our local neighbourhood, enjoying the unusual peace on the streets and the crisp bright day. Bathonians love to deck their front doors with a fine display of wreaths and I couldn't resist snapping just twelve of my favourites .. Each one representing the twelve days of Christmas....Which is your favourite?

New Year's Day was spent striding out along the Cotswold Way.. changing the rather stale scenery of television and the inside of my eyelids (lots of siestas) .. to the beauty of our local landscape. The "ground hard as iron, water like a stone."
The mercury has dropped even further today and I kicked myself for not taking the camera with me on a quick jaunt in to town.. with the delicate confetti of snow and a hoar frost all around.. the skyline looked stunning. I snapped these on my return home, as soon as the freezing fog started to lift and the sun made a brief appearance.
I have made a sumptuous meal of sesame seeds, chopped apple, peanuts, mixed flower seeds and breadcrumbs. Not part of my new year diet plan ( what new year diet plan?) but a meal for all the shivering birds out there. How they must struggle to find food in these Siberian conditions. Hearing the forecast for tonight.. 10 inches of snow for the south..Time to dig out those tennis rackets again!
Thank you for all your lovely Christmas wishes and cards. I do hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and managed to safely complete your journeys, to families and loved ones.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Compliments of the Season..

Entering in to the festive spirit, a suitably pink sky dawned over Bath on the eve of Christmas...

It was not long before we discovered that our boiler had clocked off for it's winter hols and had left us in the cold.. with no forwarding address..

So it's a cold Custard household here today.. but that has not dampened our jollity. I can highly recommend the merits of hugging a cat when the heating system goes A.W.O.L.. if only the one available cat would desist in sabotaging my wrapping exercise..

The merry festive pot of chilli is stewing away in the oven to spice up our Christmas Eve.. all the presents are wrapped now, with the help of Pickles, and are under the tree waiting for the ever so restrained (cough !!!) gift unwrapping ceremony tomorrow..

All that needs to be done now is to wish you all.. my dear visitors, friends and lurkers.. a truly Happy and Peaceful Christmas.. and I wish you all a year of good health, wealth and happiness in the year to come..Much love from
Michele and the rest of the Custard household xx

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Happy Kitschmas

For those of you living in the east of England, you will have been blessed with a blanket of snow today.. and there is plenty more on the way .. but not for us in the balmy west ..alas.
What is it about snow that brings out the romance in the soul? I LOVE the stuff.. the fluffy flakes, the muffled world it creates.. and the clean white-washed world it leaves behind.
This was our hill last year.. more of a ski slope..

I have had to content myself with making my own winter wonderland, and this one won't thaw out until Twelfth night, when the kitschy collection will be packed away in tissue paper for another year..I can't help but think of our favourite Christmas film, the totally kitschy film.. The Grinch..there is a certain influence..methinks with the plastic reindeer and forest of trees..

So much nicer without Jim Carrey appearing amongst the collection .. don't you think ! ?
Well.. we are not exactly ready for the Christmas kick off next week..slowly but surely.. we are getting there. The marauding Master & Mr Custard, have yet to discover my secret cache of Christmas chocolate reindeer, snowmen and gold coins. Presents have been ferreted away in various corners of the house, even I will have problems finding them due to a defective memory.
Christmas cards have been made (since July) and almost all posted. Tree has been decorated, with the help of Santa's little helper..who was in serious jeopardy of being packed and posted to the first buyer, after sabotaging the lower rung of decs on the tree.

The Christmas day menu has been planned with military precision.. and whilst I am getting ding dong merrily on high...with a glass of fizz.. Mr Custard will be preparing a boeuf en croute for our din dins..The obligatory turkey and brussel sprouts will put in an appearance on Boxing Day when we visit family.
We might well be joined by our new visitor who turned up for breakfast the other day.. much to my utter delight and surprise..

He was too busy snuffling some fallen apples in the garden to notice me standing on tiptoes with my camera precariously perched on the bathroom window frame, snapping as many photos as I could take without scaring him away.. or dropping the camera on the terrace below.

Such a handsome beast and one I hope will return another day for more scrumping..
I must away now.. still ploughing through my Christmas card list.. and time is rapidly running out..
Hope you are all keeping warm and toasty.. and not getting too frazzled by the run up to the festive season...
A bientot x

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Leave of absence ..

There is a saying that one never forgets how to ride a bicycle.. I wonder if the same applies to writing a blog, as I seem to have forgotten how. Having neglected my own blog for some months, just nipping in to give a news flash and quickie update, I am now finding it a real struggle to put one word in front of the other. Where do I begin to pick up the threads..?
This year has been eventful in so many ways..and at times I feel as though I am being swept along on a rip tide of high waves.. and then to end up in the the cat...Someone else keeping a low profile

It is a little premature maybe to start reminiscing about the year before it is out.. but with Christmas looming, one cannot forget that a new year is on the horizon. I will never cease to be amazed by how the years fly by, as if in the blink of an eye, and yet when I think of all that has happened this year.. I wonder how I have managed to cram it all in to 365 days.
So.. what have I been doing in my protracted absences.. well.. rather like those exercises at school that we were given each term..'What I did in my hols' .. I will attempt to thrill (read bore) you with the day to day minutiae of my life..
For all regular visitors to Cowboys & Custard.. you cannot escape the fact that we have just held our third Vintage & Handmade Fair.. a wonderful day.. planned for six months..over in a matter of hours... but leaving a good feeling that will carry me through to the next in May. Straight after the fair I managed to come down with a nasty cold virus that headed straight for my chest and has been sat there for the last 1o days. It has become a tradition for me to have a chesty cold in November, if I think back to years past, it always arrives in the run up to the festive season and is as traditional as Easter or Christmas.. the annual 'Hack' is up there with the rest.I have been honing the art of wrapping parcels in brown paper, tissue and string, as Milly & Dottie's Emporium has seen a steady flow of customers through the door, and I am fast wearing a path to the local post box to intercept our local postie at 5.00 p.m every evening, who obligingly takes all my parcels.. thus saving me a trek to stand in line with the good citizens of Bath, at the only surviving post office in town.
Today I ventured out to get some air.. having been incarcerated in a warm but hermetically sealed cave, since my lurgy struck. Mr Custard kindly took me on a drive to a local farm shop where my eyes grew as large as saucers at the sight of all the sparkly, sugary Christmas treats on display. There I bought my son and heir a delightful numbered selection of chocolate bars for his advent calendar and hid it in our ice-box.. otherwise known as the conservatory. I hope his chocolate radar will not sniff it out before the 1st of December.
Then on to a garden centre.. where I managed to scrape together 10 tulip bulbs from their remaining stock of bulbs. I have left it woefully late to start my Spring garden planting fact I haven't set foot in our garden for weeks.. work, weather and now cold have conspired to keep me from giving my plot a good nip and tuck! I am not sure what I will discover when I finally venture out to the bottom of our garden. We had several visitations of badgers during October, evident by their unmistakable calling cards... i.e Badger latrines. I am wondering what other beasties might be lurking in the darker corners. I feel very privileged to have these fine creatures in our neighbourhood... even if they do use our garden a their privie. I only wish I could catch sight of them.. especially as they loved to dig up our neighbours carefully manicured lawn and each morning after their visits.. I would see the neighbour at dawn.. rush out in nightie and all.. to repair the damage.
This week.. I joined some other designers at Lasso the Moon.. and took up residence alongside another of our blogging comrades.. Nicky from Vintage Magpie.. and her amazing menagerie of beautifully crafted animals. I am really thrilled to be part of this collection of designers and hope that this new string on my bow.. will play all the right tunes!The other night I thought there was a siege going on in the city below us.. loudspeakers could be heard, a helicopter hovered voyeuristically overhead.. and a male voice could be heard booming out a message to a cheering crowd. Was this the locals uprising against the shocking business rates in it was one of my, secret, or not so.. heartthrobs.. Mr Nicholas Cage.. switching on the Christmas lights to a crowd of starstruck shoppers..and sightseers. I would have been there myself, elbowing my way to the front with stars in my eyes.. had it not been for the fact that it was cold outside and my stomach was more intent on eating supper. Sorry Mr Cage.. I hope I will have the pleasure of bumping in to you one day in Waitrose .. but please warn me if you are popping out for groceries, so I can put my lippy on first.

So.. dear blog friends.. you can see that life is ticking along nicely.. peppered with some spicy moments here and there... but never, ever dull.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

All is calm... all is bright!

Hardly seems possible that six months of planning and waiting since the last Vintage & Handmade Fair in May, has been and gone in the blink of an eye... or so it feels.
Much has already been said about yesterday's event .. from the fabulous folk who braved the elements and queued in the rain patiently for our doors to open. The dedicated and professional stall holders, bloggers, friends and family..
I had a whale of a time.. meeting up with our ladies.. who travelled from all corners of the country to bring their finest wares to the fair.. and make it something special.. and certainly a day that many remember for all kinds of reasons.. but..mainly.. for the warmth and feel good factor that bind our team together.
Gratitude to all who made it a date that is etched in my diary as one very hard to beat.

Photos courtesy of Sal's camera.. Guess who forgot hers again!

To see the day from start to finish.. in glorious technicolour.. please visit our webpage at Vintage & Handmade Fair Mr Country Cottage Chic.. took some great shots .. Every picture tells a story.
The countdown to the next fair on May 1st 2010.. has already begun !

Friday, 13 November 2009

Fair Weather Friends...

click on photo to enlarge
Ironing board and iron are not included in sale

This time tomorrow I will be in a state of flux.. the doors to the hall will be opened for all the stallholders at the Vintage & Handmade Fair, to flood in to the hall to set up their stalls. Flood is a word I am using with caution as the weather report is not good..but us Brits are made of stern stuff and Jayne and I hope that you will don your galoshes and souwesters, inflate your life rafts, to make your way to the third Vintage & Handmade Fair in Chipping Sodbury, south Gloucestershire.
It promises to be our biggest and hopefully our best.. and whatever the weather.. all will be welcomed with open arms and a cup of tea and finest homemade cake...
Can't wait to see old friends and meet new friends and share some wonderful camaraderie amongst our beautiful blogging folk..
Hope to see you there..

Friday, 30 October 2009

F is for ...

Friday.. the end of a frantic week..and time to take a walk in one of our local National Trust favourites .. the gardens at Holt Wiltshire..Firey fronds and foliage dominate the landscape ..Clusters of fine berries ...Ginko Bilboa.. good for mental fuzziness ..Fire on the water ...A leafy frame to peer through ..A flutterby ... Foliage on fire ...Pretty frothy flowers ..Falling leaves...
Frilly lace caps...Fronds on fire ...A fine harvest...Finally.. my fella ..Before I say farewell.. Milly and I would like to bring your attention to our new Christmas Grotto.. full of finery and fun finds .. for the festive season.. We would also like to bring your attention to some features about our Emporium, to be found in various glossies this month.. Homes & Gardens, Sew Hip and Homes & Antiques..
Not forgetting.. the famous Vintage & Handmade Fair.. only a fortnight to go before we welcome our friends, family and folk from far and wide to come and shop in our third fair..
Fun for all.. hope to see you there!