Monthly Archives: May 2018

Simple Pleasures

I love napkins/serviettes. Not just the crisp white linen varieties found in restaurants and at formal dinners, but the pretty paper versions. They make me happy. I know that sounds daft but sometimes it’s the small things scattered throughout the day that bring a smile. I tend to pick up packs of paper serviettes while out and about, and almost always bring them home from trips away, both home and abroad.

20180525_133724While at lunch last week, Jane (after looking at me sideways when I admitted my fetish for paper napkins) helped me demonstrate a particularly pretty variety used by our eating establishment. And no, we hadn’t imbibed too much wine 🙂

Napkins/serviettes have been around a long time. The first napkins were used by the ancient Romans who used pocket-sized pieces of fabric to mop their brows while eating. The Spartans used lumps of dough to wipe their hands, a practice which morphed into sliced bread used by the ancient Greeks. Paper napkins came into use after the invention of paper in ancient China during the 2nd century BCE.

The practical soon became an art form, too. Elaborate napkin folding techniques date back to the time of Louis XIV of France and to 16th century Florence. Today, it is not uncommon to find intricate folding designs both in restaurants and at private functions.

Who knew the simple napkin/serviette could have such an interesting history?

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English Country Gardens

This gallery contains 4 photos.

May has been a busy month for me but the highlights have been two visits to different gardens near to home.  The first to Great Chalfield Manor, a 15 century manor house with Art and Craft gardens plus a church, … Continue reading

Panama Cruise

6C87FCEE-400F-4B95-A1BC-2763BAEEE6E1Last month at this time we were just boarding the ship for a ten day Panama Cruise with Princess.  We had spent two days in Ft. Lauderdale seeing the city and taking a canal excursion out to an island for a dinner and show.  We got a glimpse of the rich and famous along the way.

 

 

The picture to the right is the Ft. Lauderdale skyline taken DC83BA77-7181-433D-9E4B-0AE34E6B02A3from our balcony as we started the cruise. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on an big ship and I had forgotten how big they are.  We were still getting lost at the end of the cruise, but then knowing me I’m betting no one is surprised.

The first day was at sea and we enjoyed every minute. People were so friendly and we made friends.  In fact a few days out Linda lost her reading glasses. A woman we had just met offered her a spare pair she had.  We did eventually find the glasses but the borrowed pair made reading possible and Linda appreciated the womans generousity.  These are the kind of people we found on the trip.

The second day out we made port in Falmouth Jamacia.  We had booked a tour to Rose Hall an old plantation house that the White Witch had owned.  I had seen it and wanted Linda to see it, but we had to take our second choise. Greenwood plantation house once owned by the Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  It has been continuously used as a residence since it was built.  A part of the information from the website  

The present owners, Bob and Ann Betton, every morning since they bought the house, get up, make the beds in Richard Barrett’s bedroom and open the house for tours. Richard Barrett, the builder of the house, would feel very comfortable there today because the house, unlike other great houses in Jamaica still has the original furnishings down to the Barrett’s library. 

More Pictures of the house.

We didn’t do every port of call. The weather was hot and as we got closer to Panama the humidity increased.

On the dock in Falmouth.

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The ships entertainment was exceptional and after getting oriented to dinner in the dining room times, we managed to see pretty much all of the evening shows.  And, we always topped it off with a drink in one of the bars.  We tried all different drinks, promising ourselves we would expand our experience in a few months when we go to Cancun at the all-inclusive Palace.

 

It was Linda’s first cruise and she says it’s something everyone should experience.  A memory making trip.  We found we like being spoiled and they for sure know how to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MAY — FINALLY SPRING

Good morning from the Knox Farm. I am so sorry that I have missed the past couple of months. When I was asked to be Livestock Superintendent at our County Fair I thought it would be so easy. Not SO!! … Continue reading

To Puzzle or not to puzzle. That is the question…

Do you like working jigsaw puzzles? I do. I don’t do it often enough, but when I do, it’s almost always a family or friend affair, which is most often the best part of puzzling. 🙂

So, when I open a new box, I start by sorting out all the edge pieces. (I know people that do those puzzles with no straight edge, but I like the definition of corners and size.) In a 1,000 piece puzzle, that takes some time. My friend’s daughter suggested, when done with a puzzle, putting the edge pieces in their own baggie. Is this cheating? I don’t think so. You’re not leaving them together, you’re just eliminating that initial sort. I like that idea!

The first puzzle was designed back in the 1760’s. John Spilsbury, an Englishman and cartographer, mounted a map on a thin sheet of wood and cut around the county boundaries to form “dissected maps” for educational purposes. But, I read that adult puzzling for entertainment didn’t become a fad until the early 1900s. Wood puzzles were cut manually using a jig saw. Hence the name.

Nowadays, the puzzles are cut with a die. A sharp, metal ribbon bent into the correct formation. It can take 400 hours to shape the die, then the cardboard adhered picture is sent through the die cut press and the die is forced down under high pressure, making the puzzle cut in one pass. The puzzle “sheets” go through a machine that breaks them up and they get packaged.

Of course, the future seems to be moving toward digital puzzles, but I like the tactile feel of physical puzzles. Not just because they help me clear my mind and think (great for problem-solving), but also for the times I work them with family (like at our winter cabin each year) or with a friend.

Speaking of which, this puzzle is one a friend gave to me. She and her husband visited this town, Manarola, one of the five towns that make up Cinque Terra in Italy. So, as we got together over the course of a week or two, I got to learn more about their travels and the town and area, along  with the usual discussions about kids and life. These are the life memories I love, spending time on a project like this with someone who’s friendship I treasure.

Manarola. Photo courtesy of Doug Benedetti

So I highly recommend grabbing a big board and a puzzle. Invite a friend or loved one to join you and start sorting. It’s good for the blood pressure, for the brain, for dexterity, and, well, I can’t see a down side to doing jigsaw puzzles at all. Except maybe the time suck. They can become addicting. 🙂

Happy puzzling!

Late for a Date…

Apologies for being a little late with today’s post but I had a very important date that couldn’t wait. With my garden.

I had hoped to show you the finished article but the weather here in the UK has been dreadful. Two hot days in April, which meant we could finally make a start on bringing the back garden back to some semblance of prettiness. Two days! The rest of the month has been cold, wet, blowing a hoolie and even colder still – we even had to put the central heating back on.

Today the sky is cloudless, the sun shining and joy of joys, we have been promised good weekend’s weather, which is something of a miracle as it is a bank holiday weekend here. So Dave and I pulled on our gardening shoes and gloves, and with him in the front garden, and me out back, we set to work. I’ve the long border to widen, which is tough going as the ground is still very wet, but I’ve managed to get some plants in, the three obelisks erected and the border almost dug.

You may be able to spot a white slab in front of one of the obelisks – this is where the new birdbath is going. I spent almost a year trying to find the one I wanted, couldn’t, so we improvised and purchased a tall blue glazed pot and a matching saucer, and placing the saucer on top of the pot – voila! One new birdbath. As you can see on the patio, we have lots more to plant although all of the hanging baskets are done. Can you spot the new bird bath among the plants ? The birds haven’t as yet, but hopefully once it’s moved back to where they are used to one being, they’ll make good use of it.

Despite all the rain and cold last month, Dave has been busy laying a new path in front of the new fence along the front side garden. He’s also kept himself occupied in making six wooden planters. These this morning he planted up with lots of colourful annuals and massive of sweet peas to grow up the netting he’s erected along the fence. It should look fab once they all grow.

We’re slowly getting there and hopefully by next month we can sit back and relax a little to enjoy it all. Meanwhile the rest of the borders and pots have provided us with some welcome spring colour.

So forgive me for being late today, hope you think my excuse was worth it!

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