Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The 1940's Christmas House

Well I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas? For me it seems to have whizzed by in a flash and I'm now feeling a little sad that Christmas is pretty much over for yet another year. Something else we've been feeling a little blue about is the fact that a wonderful exhibition at the Imperial War Museum is about to close so yesterday, we thought we'd better visit it for a last time.

We initially visited this brilliant museum about the same time last year (you can read my post with more photos here) and we really loved the exhibition The Children's War. Not only is there lots of fabulous information and exhibits relating to the evacuees of the Second World War, the jewel in the crown is the reconstruction of a 1940's house.

The outside of the house has a light dusting of snow. Mr HenHouse is wondering if you'd like to see inside?

I've posted about the house before but I couldn't resist doing so again. I've just taken a few snaps showing you the house decorated for Christmas, 1940's style. I really love this sitting room. I can't believe they are going to dismantle this house when so much effort has clearly gone into making it. The attention to detail is brilliant. So as you can see, now there is a tree but without lights as would have been the case during the war, paper streamers abound and the odd Chinese lantern.

There are Christmas cards on the mantelpiece and the stockings hang above the fireplace, made of real socks and no doubt containing an orange in the toe, if they could get hold of one? A carrot and mince pie have been left on the hearth, ready for Rudolph and Father Christmas.

Somebody has been wrapping up their presents at the table, probably re-using last year's paper and they've been listening to the gramophone. Indeed, the crackle of Christmas carols filled the air making the house very atmospheric.

In the kitchen, no doubt the lady of the house has been busy.

She has done well to stockpile supplies, there is a chicken on the stove, and over on the counter, some sherry. She has even managed to make a Christmas pudding and mince pies. We watched a great programme the other night "Ration Book Britain", which showed how they made a Christmas pudding during the War, using powdered egg and carrot, as dried fruit was a luxury probably not available. There was no rum sauce but "mock cream" which looked pretty yucky! Ration coupons would be saved up to make the Christmas dinner extra special. We can see they had some crackers, these too were probably homemade using cardboard from the inner of toilet rolls and some crepe paper.

In the dining room, there was a little festive holly on the fireplace, at least that would have been free!

This really is a wonderful exhibit and if you have the chance to visit, it is open until 2 January so hurry!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Monday, 19 December 2011

Cats and Cat-sized Quilts

Brrr, isn't it cold? I've grown lots more fur for the Winter but I'm still finding it a bit chilly. In my room, my mum has been sewing nice things again. I saw this quilt the other day and thought it was the perfect size just for me, Charlie Boy.

She seemed a bit cross when she found me asleep on it and I don't know why. What else is it for? She didn't make me get off though as I did my very best to look extra cute and furry and even started purring so she left me to it until I went for dinner.

When I came back, my quilt had gone which I wasn't too chuffed about. Seems my mum had finished it and was faffing around taking lots of silly photos of it in different positions.

She says to tell you it is based on a full size quilt which she saw in Tikki Patchwork, a shop which she loves to visit apparently. This quilt is perfect for a kitty, you know, at just 17.5" square. It was my mum's first go at applique on a quilt. She hasn't given me my quilt back and even worse, she keeps it in this wooden chest! (She came back with it one day from Northcote Road and was "thrilled with its original paint finish" whatever that means.)

With a silly old rabbit! There are lots of other quilts in there too. She thinks she forgot to show you this little log cabin one she made. She says the pattern is in Kathy Tracy's book "Prairie Children and their Quilts". She goes ga-ga over that lady's books.

Lots and lots of little strips, measures 12 3/4" x 17" apparently.

She made this star one, too (based on a quilt in Kathy Tracy's The Civil War Sewing Circle). It's a feline-friendly 18" square.

I can't understand why she makes all those little kitty-sized quilts then puts them in the box with the old rabbit? Never mind because my brother and I have found an even comfier spot on my mum's bed. There's not just a big quilt suitable for two kittys but an eidy too! Purrrrrrrr.

Happy Christmas from the furry friends (including Vorey, but he's off radiator-hugging).

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

In the Mood

Off we went at the weekend, headed westbound for our little bolthole in the country. My parents came too and it was fun to find Bridport was looking and feeling rather festive. Dad was tasked with selecting the sprouts. Surely mum doesn't want to get them cooking just yet? Don't like the things myself but do so love the whacky little tree thing they grow on!

I was thrilled to find a brass band was playing, you simply can't beat it for creating an atmosphere but as Buckydoo Square is undergoing renovations, they had to find a little space on the street corner.

There was still space to squeeze in a fine tree, it seemed. Shame about those barriers, very unphotogenic.

The Farmer's Market was on in the Arts Centre and was bustling with folks buying the West Country's finest produce.

The big draw, of course, is the smiley chap in red, ho ho ho. The Munchkin looks forward to this each year (almost as much as me!) and I religiously take his photo next to the float and am then shocked to see how much nearer to the top of the float he is growing!

He is rather more interested in the Quality Street which get dished out. I think he will never be too old for those, I know I'm not. (Please excuse his mother's wrinkly fleecy gloves he has borrowed.)

The street market is doing a roaring trade and talented folks are plying their trades with a seasonal touch.

Meanwhile, I am predictably buying things I don't really need but just can't leave behind from junk shops. My Dad is a superb mule! However, I must train him not to come out with the inevitable, "What have you bought that for?"

Back at the cottage, we have a dinky Christmas tree for the first time. We usually just go with a few decorations but this year, we've gone the whole (baby) hog. I was chuffed to discover vintage baubles I'd bought and forgotten about, stashed away in the loft. Obviously, a better photo would have been taken in the darkening afternoon light but I simply forgot (oops, what an amateur). One of my peg doll fairies (a few still currently available here) has found herself atop the tree.

We have fairy lights all round the sitting room which creates a rather lovely grotto effect, a few vintage paper decorations and some vintage tinsel. All from local thrifty shops and markets.

Saturday night is a big deal for the Munchkin as it's Strictly Come Dancing night. We break open the crackers at dinner for the first time and he gets into the festive spirit!

On Sunday, we took advantage of the dry weather and headed off to the flea market at Shepton Mallet where we chatted to friends, munched on pasties and bought gorgeous fabric (thank you Lizzie!) and also wedged a 1940's cupboard into the groaning car. We'll look at that another day.

The heavens opened and back off home we headed but just when you thought we couldn't possibly take anything else home...

The HenHouse needs a tree too, you know, and we do rather like to go the whole fully grown (rather than the baby) hog here.

And there's always the roof!

Friday, 9 December 2011

When Hen met Cath

Yesterday, I popped into ole' London Town to do a spot of Christmas shopping. I was taken aback by how busy it was, arrrgghh! It was rather lovely though, no need to rush home as the Munchkin was taken care of, happy people everywhere and beautiful window displays, not to mention the street lights. I thought this one was pretty spectacular.

I went to Liberty, they had a special discount event which quite frankly, you need if you're going to afford anything from there! There's no denying it's the most beautiful shop in the world, though, never more so than at this time of year.

The lights over Regent Street were pretty good though it's not really dark enough in this photo to show them to their best effect. The huge cobweb-type sparkly nets were very pretty.

St Christopher's Place had gone for a different look with suspended softly glowing balls. The pink was particularly pleasing, of course.

I must confess that although I did get plenty of Christmas shopping done (my arms are twice as long today), I really had another reason for going into London. Hands up who recognises this lady?

Eeek, yes it's none other than my heroine, the simpy marvellous Cath Kidston. She had popped into her Marylebone store (where I'm pretty much a regular) for a book signing event. I was thrilled to find it was not massively busy when I arrived and Cath was happy to chat away. Oh my, I still haven't come back down to earth! I'm honestly not one of those people who generally gets starry eyed over celebs, I don't buy those tacky magazines, but I'm afraid this was different!

There you can see Cath having a look at my patchwork bag; we had a good old natter about vintage fabrics, her new book and sewing, collecting vintage and well, all sorts.

I'm thrilled to say that Cath really didn't disappoint, in fact she exceeded my expectations. Warm, down-to-earth, friendly, chatty, I never imagined she would be that nice! Oh golly, it was so great because I was prepared for it to be a crashing disappointment (like when I met Nigella, grumpy mare).

She was happy to sign my book, you can tell how nice she is from her lovely comment.

Meeting the fantastic Cath has to be my best early Christmas pressie ever!