Saturday, March 1, 2014

Watching the Detective

I never knew it was possible to hold my breath for an hour but that’s what it seems when I’m watching the new series of Line of Duty currently airing on BBC2. Keeley Hawes, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar are the main actors.

keeley hawes In short the plot involves the not very popular DI Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes) who is charged with murder following the murders of a protected witness and three police officers.

prison warders

She tries to persuade her colleagues investigating the case that she has been set up by someone within the force and despite being badly beaten on remand by two prison warders who make Bond villains look like pussycats she persists and at the end of the last episode she appears to be getting through to one colleague DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston).

martin compston

I love how the writer Jed Mercurio gives us glimpses of the characters’ personal lives. How even a police officer can be frustrated by noisy neighbours and who hasn’t wished they could go round and deal with them as DI Denton did. We also get to see a softer side of her with her love of playing the piano and her cat (I’m glad there is a cat!).

We also see Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) who only sees the world in black and white, utterly convinced at the beginning of DI Denton’s guilt, gradually and very subtly beginning to question her original decision.

vicki mcclure

When I watch her I have this insane wish that someone would just tickle her or tell a funny joke just to see if she’s physically capable of having a good laugh.

Jed Mercurio has put his characters through some very harrowing scenes – the boiling water on the hands, 2 of them set on fire, an officer’s head pushed down the toilet. Not a programme to watch if you are in to fluffy bunnies but definitely one to watch if you want to be thrilled, angry, frustrated at unfair treatment or you just want to watch a damned good story!

I sincerely hope that in the next round of TV Awards Joe Mercurio and Keeley Hawes are remembered for this wonderful series.




Linda xx

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Puppets on a String

Any of you who read my Facebook Page will see how annoyed I am at Etsy’s recent “business tests”. Etsy is an online marketplace which consists of a large collection of artisan owned stores mainly selling unique handcrafted items. Etsy’s growth has been phenomenal over the last few years and a lot of their sellers have grown their businesses successfully under the Etsy umbrella.
I too have a tiny shop front on Etsy selling my little animal tea cosies and I’ve had quite a few sales there but I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that my sales are very much subject to the whims of the Etsy management. In one moment they could close down your shop  and wipe out any income stream. Indeed some shops have been closed down because their owners have been a bit too honest and vocal on the Etsy forums.
craft fair
I think that having your own domain name and separate online shop would be a very good back up plan and if you can plug it as much as possible you could in the future move away from Etsy’s not terribly altruistic grasp. I’ve done this already with (this is my shameless plug!)

This got me thinking on other ways we relinquish control to others. At the moment the energy companies have us by the short and curlies here in the UK. Because we depend on them for our heating and power they can up the prices whenever they want, usually when there’s an R in the month.   Same with petrol companies. I can drive past my local petrol station and see unleaded petrol at 128p per litre and an hour later I can drive back again and see it’s gone up to 129p per litre. (This usually happens right before a Bank Holiday).

sola -panels on roofs
car charge

Supermarkets can increase the price of your weekly shop at the push of a button. I remember once after years of shopping for my cat food at Tesco, I switched supermarket and started to buy it from Asda. After just a few weeks of this I got a load of money off vouchers for cat food through the post from Tesco. Coincidence or what? Of course they were able to track my buying habits through my use of their Clubcard.

Litter piling up in your street? Council street cleaning services not as thorough or as regular as they used to be. Your local MP developing selective deafness and or spending all their time cosying up to local bigwigs? OK we voted them into power and a certain degree of government control is necessary to run our Health Service, Foreign Trade, Police Force etc. But I would like to see our MPs a bit more accountable, a little more fearful of their constituents and that maybe cozying up to and actually listening to a homeless person without a film crew present would go a long way to giving a bit more control back to the ordinary man or woman.
In the meantime I think we could all be a little more self-sufficient. Granted installing solar panels or a water filtration plant in your garden is not cheap. But learning a bit of basic plumbing, carpentry, cooking from scratch can all help. Also insulating your home as well as you can afford to and maybe start saving up for a couple of solar panels. Has to be better for you than the latest 100 inch wide, 3d time travel, olfactory sensory tv screen that serves 3 course meals during the ads. As for litter in your street just go grab it and bin it! My lovely Bloggy friend Ilona from Life After Money just rolls up her sleeves and gets picking up. She describes one of her litter picking events here. Maybe if more of us did that we could take control of our streets again and restore a bit of civic pride.
Financial Independence has to be the key. To have enough money to cushion you from redundancies, interest rate cuts, burgeoning transport costs has to be the Holy Grail in terms of cutting your puppet strings. I have to recommend Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez
Read this and you’ll be reaching for the scissors!


Linda xxx Pin It

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Thoroughly Modern Pharaoh

It was a comment on my previous post from Briony at Crafty Cats Corner that sparked my idea for this one. A blanket, a flask and googling cat paintings would be her idea of heaven (mine too). I started thinking about heaven and the afterlife and the Ancient Egyptians’ take on it.

Eye of Horus

All those Pharaohs building their tombs everywhere and deciding what they were going to take with them to the afterlife assuming they passed the ‘weighing of the heart’ test.  (This is where the deceased had to stand before Osiris and declare a list of Negative Confessions, for example -
  • I have not caused anyone to weep
  • I have not slain anyone
  • I have not stolen food.
If you made enough of these confessions so that their total weight was heavier than the Feather of Ma'at or Truth then you got a pass through to the afterlife. I wonder if that’s where our saying “Weighing Heavy on My Heart” comes from?)

weigh heart

Anyway I digress. I started to wonder what we modern Pharaohs would each take with us to the Afterlife if we had our own personal pyramids or tombs to put everything in. So really, if you could take it with you when you go, what would you take?

Firstly I’d probably take my underwear drawer. I just could not bear the thought of someone going through my collection of grey and not so grey knickers after my demise. I’d have to leave orders for it to sealed immediately after my passing and taken straight away to my final resting place. And instead of holding a Crook & Flail I’d be holding the key to my knicker drawer in my hand.

crook and flail

Probably in my other had I’d have my lovely Waterman Fountain Pen. No way would I want to leave that behind.

waterman pen

Instead of a load of Papyrus I’d have a few reams of writing paper as well and sealed bottles of coloured ink. Fountain pen ink is more precious to me than perfume!

blue ink

I definitely would make sure there was room for my camera and lenses and I’d have some sort of solar charger connected to the outside world so the minute I got to the Afterlife I would be up out of my Sarcophagus, hands on camera and ready to take heavenly snaps.

There’s not much else I would want to take – probably just my embroidered clothes, my copy of Bounce by Matthew Syed, and my big bumper Dictionary of the Unexplained as there would be quite a few entries I’d want to run past whoever was in charge up there. No cats or animals as I would have already left instructions for their future wellbeing in my will and knowing my present Tortie cat Daisy, she would probably be up there already playing her own version of “House of Cards”.

Oh and a boat. I’d take a large one. I just have a feeling that boats will be very useful things to have in the future.


That’s my Pharaonic List – what would you put in your Pyramid?????


Linda xxx Pin It

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pussycats in Art

What is it about cats that so many people down the ages have wanted to capture them on canvas or on film? I always remember my art tutor saying that in olden days if you were painted with a dog you were regarded as a good person but if you were depicted with a cat you were a bit of a wild woman!
If you Google “Cat paintings” you might as well lay in blankets and supplies as you will be looking on screen for a very long time.
One of my favourite cat illustrators is Louis Wain (1860-1939). I liked the fact that he didn’t do chocolate box kitties. I used to have these two large prints on my wall side by side. They were there for years and I swear that each time I looked at them I would find something new in them. I eventually donated them to a cat charity!

Louis Wain cats walking
Louis Wain “The Good Puss” (note mouse skewered on fork!)

Louis Wain cat classroom
Louis Wain “The Naughty Puss”

Slight change of style here. This is "Kip the Enchanted Cat" by Adrienne S├ęgur (1901-1981).
Cat King
Thinking about it she must have been a contemporary of Louis Wain. I love the idea of being cuddled by a giant pussycat even if it is an enchanted one! This beautiful illustration is from The Golden Book of Fairy Tales originally published in 1958 and eventually reprinted. This is Puss in Boots from the same book.

puss in boots 3
Isn’t he glorious? Adrienne also painted other animals, her attention to detail and the characters she created were just phenomenal.

The pen strokes here are sparse but I like the way Lynton Lamb (1907-1977) uses them to capture the cat’s character.
Cats Tales Lynton Lamb
He’s also famous for producing this charming illustration of The Owl and The Pussycat
Owl and Pussycat Lynton Lamb

And now to bring this small collection of cat art up to date – the incredible work of Fiona Scott. This is her painting entitled “Black Cat”
black pussie
I think this is the only cat painting she has exhibited publicly to date, but I’m going for quality here not quantity. I look at this painting and I swear if I offered it a saucer of milk the cat would come right off the screen towards me, it’s so lifelike! Check out her farm animal paintings – the sheep is adorable!
I wish I could capture my own cats as well as these amazing artists captured theirs. At the moment I’m just capturing my feline images via the camera but with enough practice maybe one day I’ll have a worthy painting to post here.


Linda xxx Pin It

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Beaded Beauties

It occurred to me over the weekend when I was having yet another sort out and purge of my wardrobe that there are an awful lot of embroidered clothes in there. Most of them, actually I think all of them have come from charity shops and none have cost over a fiver as that is my top limit for buying clothes. I just love this kind of embellishment, I must have inherited the love of it from my granny who was a professional hand embroiderer and produced many exquisite works for church vestments in Ireland. I suppose church embroidery work is now done by machine as the amount of woman hours needed to make them would be cost prohibitive.

Now any excuse to get my camera out! Here are some photos of my favourite pieces.

Black beaded cardi2

Black beaded cardi4

Looks a bit navy in the photos but this is a lovely black embroidered and beaded cardi. The front is done up with hooks and eyes. It’s lovely and soft and heaven to wear.


Grey beaded scarves1

Grey beaded scarves3

Here are details from two grey beaded scarves. This scarf immediately above has this embroidery all over every square inch. I have about a dozen embroidered scarves.


Embroidered jeans

The leg of a pair of jeans. I did this one myself on my embroidery machine. I just loved how it turned out. When I wear them it looks like my left leg is a walking pergola!


Red beaded cardi3

Red beaded cardi4

Stunning black bead embroidery on a lovely red cardi.


Butler & Wilson Cat tshirt1


Butler & Wilson Cat tshirt2

And last but not least. This is my all time favourite – a sequinned pussycat on a Butler & Wilson t shirt. I adore this one!

I think I might turn this yen for collecting beautiful embroideries into a proper hobby. Charity shop prices around my way are still relatively reasonable and a fiver per masterpiece is doable. It would be nice to be able to wear your hobby!




Linda xxx

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Whovian, Me?

We Doctor Who fans are called Whovians. Well that’s what they say on the Facebook Group I’m a member of.

I’ve been a bit lapsed recently on my Whovian posts as I’m still trying to get my head around Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. Apparently Peter Capaldi’s agent told him he’d got the part of the 12th Doctor by phoning him and saying “Hello Doctor”

I have to say so far that David Tennant still remains my favourite Doctor. I love this You Tube clip of him with Catherine Tate

The Doctor’s greatest foe is not The Master but Lauren Cooper!


Peter Capaldi wasn’t my first choice for the 12th Doctor, I was hoping for Richard Armitage or Benedict Cumberbatch but I suppose after the success of The Hobbit films and Sherlock the BBC couldn’t afford them. I love these connections –Peter Capaldi has appeared in the Doctor Who spin off Torchwood and with David Tennant in the Doctor Who episode ‘The Fires of Pompeii’. Steven Moffat currently writes for Doctor Who and with Mark Gatiss writes Sherlock which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman who also star in The Hobbit. I’m sure if Steven Moffat had had the time he could have whipped up a quick screenplay for The Hobbit. That man is such a talented writer that even his autograph would be a bestseller!





Linda xx

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Wind in the Willows

Just recently I’ve rediscovered my love of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I was around 8 when I discovered it the first time round. The brilliant illustrations of Arthur Rackham were the first thing that attracted me to the book. A talking Badger, Mole, Rat and Toad – totally appealed to my childhood fantasies! My favourite character was Badger, he always seemed so wise and all knowing. Not at all like Toad who always seemed to be totally scatter brained and a bit of a cross cross-dresser (remember the washerwoman episode?)
I’ve done a bit of searching around regarding the illustrations for the book. There have been over 50 different illustrators down the years. These are my favourites -

Arthur Rackham

Ernest Shepard

Martin Aitchison

Tasha Tudor

Michael Hague
A big regret a couple of weeks ago was finding a vintage copy of the book in London and not buying it! What was I thinking! Still I’m sure I’ll find another copy somewhere and it’ll be the only thing I’ll happily break my New Year Resolutions for. Did you know there’s currently a  First Edition on sale at Abe Books for £12,500!!

Over the years I’ve managed to take a few photographs of these cute protagonists and these are two of my favourites. This is Ratty who in real life is a Water Vole. In the second pic if you look carefully you’ll see a small droplet of water on the end of Ratty’s nose!


I wonder how these dear little animals have fared during the recent flooding of so many riverbanks here in the UK.

So this is an animal themed post once again. I’m sure I must be the long lost love child of Sir David Attenborough or at least distantly related to Chris Packham. I actually met Chris Packham once when he judged my photo of a Blue duck the winner in a WWT photo comp. Not only did I like him because he picked my photo he was genuinely funny and had some great tales to tell about the naughty nature of the Blue duck. Apparently one in a territorial fit of rage grabbed his trouser leg and wouldn’t let go. I’m sure there are a few women also eager to grab his trouser leg!

Me Chris Packham=small

Blue Duck winner
Maybe I should add ‘Meet Sir David Attenborough’ to my list of goals for 2014.  I’d probably let myself down if I met him and mumble or dribble or giggle uncontrollably or curtsey. If anyone reading this could get me into his holy presence I would be very grateful and I promise I would take Social Skills lessons prior to the meet! I wonder if he’d like one of my animal tea cosies????


Linda xxx Pin It