Monday, 31 December 2007

No more whinging

You can read on in confidence - VC's whinge corner has been retired again. You're safe.

Today I don't have much to say but I thought I'd post a few pictures as I've been feeling deprived of picture-posting capabilities while I've been away.

First up, since I said I would:

A good look, no?

And next, here is my mum's Christmas present from me:


Not the colour-scheme I'd have chosen myself, but it's what my mum wanted - and I think it worked out quite nicely.

Next up, here are some rather sozzled monkey-fans (NBM's uncle and aunt):

And finally, NBM's winning entry in the grand Christmas day colouring competition (please don't ask):

And I think that's quite enough fun for now.... except to say:

Happy New Year to blog friends old and new, and any lurkers too - and best wishes to you all in 2008

from VCxx

Friday, 28 December 2007

Back again

Hello blogland! Did you miss me? I missed you... well, I missed the Internet, certainly. But, as of earlier today, we are in Oxford (phase two of the visit-as-many-family-members-as-possible enterprise we seem to have set up for ourselves this Christmas), and in Oxford, the Internet connection is working - hooray!

The thing is, now that I'm back, I don't really know what to say... but I'm sure inspiration will strike if I just keep typing and hoping for the best. I haven't got any pictures yet, but I will be uploading some very very soon for your delectation. (Would you like to see the one of NBM wearing three Christmas-craker paper hats, all at the same time? It's a corker, I tell you.)

Ah wait, I know what you'd love to read - VC's whinge corner, today brought to you by supermarkets and motorways. My supermarket whinge is as follows: when a person is struggling their way round an incredibly busy supermarket with their propsective MiL, on the Saturday before Christmas, at lunchtime, trying to heap two very large trolleys with enough festive fare to feed either A) a small army or B) one very active Northern Biking Brother, and the whole experience is really starting to make them feel a tiny bit frazzled, what do you suppose would help calm their nerves? Because I am pretty sure that the answer is not, Mr Morrison, playing heavy techno trance over the loudspeakers.

And my motorway whinge is probably the same as everyone else's over the festive season - along the lines of it taking us three hours to travel 25 miles yesterday (nearly two hours of which was taken to cover a three mile stretch of the M6, giving an excellent average speed of 1.5 mph for that part of the journey.) As it was supposed to be the start of the 200-mile trip from Lancashire to Oxford, but it was dark and raining and gridlocked, and we were tired, we ended up turning around and aborting the journey. We regrouped and headed South again (more sucessfully) this morning.

Anyhoo, I think that's enough whinging for now. In cheerier news, most of the other things about the festive time have been good, so we should remain whinge-free for a while. I'm sure you're all be relieved to hear that, then :o)

Enough waffle for now - but I'll be back soon with piccies galore (just as long as the Internet doesn't fail me again, of course...)

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Technical hitch

In a first-things-first stylie: A very Happy Christmas to all of the lovely people out in blogland who have stopped by my chicken over the past few months - I hope you're having a lovely day whatever you are doing.

And now to the technical matter. I know I said I'd continue to blog while I was away. I had every intention of doing so. But then the Internet connection at NBM's parents' house had a meltdown and messed up my plans. Grr. So, I write this brief missive from the NBM's Uncle's computer. And I probably won't be back until at least Thursday when we'll be in Oxford, and hopefully be able to get online once more.

Anyway, Happy Christmas again, with love from VC and NBM (and not forgetting her Uncle, who sends big sloppy kisses, and love from the heart of his bottom. Funny man.) :o)

Friday, 21 December 2007

Reduced Service

Welcome to the blandest of posts, in which VC announces that blogging around here may be a little under par for a wee while. This is because I am at the NBM's parents' house until next Thursday, giving me: A) limited Internet time and B) difficulties in uploading piccies.

So, while I shall continue to post over the festive time, my blog may be operating on a reduced-service basis. But I'm sure nobody will mind as you will all be too busy to read blogs anyway, at a time when you are doing festive things with your nearest and dearest (possibly including, although not limited to, those activities of a trying-not-to-drive-each-other-crazy variety.)

Right, I should now go and help with bed-making duties, and then it's back to the grindstone with Christmas knitting (is it possible to get RSI of the elbow from gift-based knitting endeavours??)

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

So much to tell you

Well. Hello there, old friends! It seems I did it again, doesn't it? Fail to post on my blog for a while, that is. But I'm here now, and I have several days worth of exciting things to pack into one fun-filled post.

Firstly, thanks for all your helpful advice re: my Secret Santa gift; and particular thanks for being so kind about my necklace. The update for anyone who is interested is that the giftee may or may not have liked her gift - it was hard to say. Another colleague liked it very much though, so I know what to make her for her next birthday :o)

In more Secret Santa news, here is what I recieved from the game:

The rectangular thing is a bar of soap, and the rubber duck-shaped thing is a rubber duck - although it's quite an unusual one really, as it flashes crazy disco lights when you touch a sensor on its underside. Which is smashing, as now I can experience all the fun of a rave while having a bath (although I am a bit concerned that I might get electrocuted if I put it into the water - because the lights have got to be powered somehow, haven't they?)

In other news, I've been dutifully plugging away at my card-making, and things are looking promising - I now only have a few left to make, and they are for delivering by hand, so I don't need to worry that I'll have missed the last post.

Some of the fruits of my labours

On the knitting front, things are significantly less good - I still have two gifts to complete before the Big Day, one of which I've run out of wool for. Oh dear.

Crashing swiftly on from that, I wanted to show you this strange little thing:

Before: World's longest zip

After: a handy handbag!

I love the concept, and it is a curious thing, but it's more than a novelty: it's a perfectly functional bag when zipped up, and I think it looks quite nice. If you fancy a good laugh, you can go here and watch the hilariously cheesy advert for these bags. ("It's sassy and hip! It's the hip-zip!") Particular mention to the enthusiastic woman having coffee who points out that the bag would be perfect for her knitting!

And finally, I thought I'd share a picture of my Chirstmas tree, since I have enjoyed seeing other blogger's trees in all their decorative glory. Ours is a little unconventional:

Who says Christmas trees have to be firs?

We have a very small flat and we can't really fit a festive tree in, so we just hang baubles on the resident yukka-type-thing instead. I think it does a fine job (and those presents are secure from any potential thieves - that plant has the sharpest leaves in the land! Ouch!)

Right then, I'm off to appraise the knitted gifts situation. Or possibly bury my head in the sand about the whole thing. Cup of tea and a slice of denial, anyone?

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Secret Santa

Quick straw poll - do you think this necklace is an OK Secret Santa gift for my colleague?

The rules are £4 maximum spend, and I couldn't find anything for that amount that I thought she would like. So, I went to the bead shop and got some necklace ingredients, and I've just put this together. I'm hoping it will be OK as I know her taste in accessories is for quite simple stuff rather than anything complicated.

The thing I'm nervous about is giving a handmade gift in a Secret Santa, as not everyone might like the handmade vibe... although the good news is that the bits and pieces I used only cost £2.55, so I was planning to spend the remaining £1.45 on some chocolate to go with it; that way she gets something she'll like even if the necklace isn't a hit!

Let me know what you reckon, becasue I could always rethink the whole thing: like giving the necklace to someone else and spending all of the Secret Santa £4 on choccies...

Friday, 14 December 2007

No time to blog

Got to make cards, write cards, finish making a couple of gifts, and wrap parcels before tomorrow morning's trip to the Post Office.

Someone needs to invent the 40 hour day... although, on second thoughts, I probably wouldn't have the stamina to make it through one of those :o)

Happy weekend all,

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Three is the magic number

I have made three Christmas cards so far. This is not going to get me very far down my Christmas Card List, given that it has approximately 32 people on it at the moment.

Not enough

So, I am forsaking a full and witty blog post tonight in favour of heading off to do some cutting and sticking. Only another 29 cards to knock out....

Monday, 10 December 2007

A pleasant surprise

At the weekend I did a favour for one of my colleagues, and today she got me these lovely things as a thank-you:


.... Ahhh.

I don't know that it was really deserved, but I feel very lucky, and I am very excited about all the little Green and Blacks choccie bars in different flavours. Yum.

I'd share them with you, only obviously I need to try all the different flavours myself, so as to make a fair comparison between them. I'm sure you understand.


Sunday, 9 December 2007


I know I have been very quiet on the blogging front recently. I didn't mean to be - it just happened.

Anyhoo, I'm here today to tell you that I have nothing to say - but I'm going to say it anyway :o)

Erm... actually there are a few bits and pieces. Firstly, I had a lot of fun last night with some friends who told me about this website. You upload a picture of yourself, and using facial recgonition thingammyjobs, it tells you which celebrities you look most like. Which doesn't sound that entertaining, but somehow it was hilarious. Possibly becasue it was, of course, wildly innacurate.

I was told that I look most like Jennifer Connolly, Mischa Barton, or Hayden Panetierre - all of which is utter rubbish.


We then learned that NBM most resembles Hillary Clinton, Shirley Temple, or (my personal fave) Haley Joel Osment. It was at that point that we really began to doubt the highly sophisticated software used by the website ;o)

Do let me know if you give it a whirl yourself, and what the results are - plausible or otherwise :o)

Just before I go, I wanted to show you a photo I have been working on for my Christmas cards (possibly left it a little late for making these - oops). I ripped the idea shamelessly from an advert I saw in a newspaper, but I hope it will be OK given that I am just making a few cards to send to friends, not to sell or anysuchlike.


I may try to turn it into a card tomorrow - but I'm not very gifted that way, so it will probably just be the photo printed onto the front of a piece of plain card :o) I'll let you know if I get any more adventurous...

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

OK, who told them??

I keep getting dirty looks.

And now they've taken Delaware hostage.

Apparently I will get him back "when my sense of humour improves considerably"....

.... but I'm hoping I can just bribe them with the many boxes of teabags I still have cluttering up the kitchen.

Negotiations continue.

Monday, 3 December 2007

I promised pictures....

.... I lied. I have none.

But what I do have is a link to another website, which has pictures galore - all of which involve PG Tips monkeys! Huzzah!

But before I link to it, a couple of quick words of warning: firstly, it's probably not one for the kiddies. And secondly, monkey-lovers might find it a wee bit distressing. They might even find the whole concept in very poor taste. Personally, I am undecided; but I can't help finding some of the pictures very funny. And in the end, I think you have to laugh - you'd cry your eyes out otherwise.

As a quick guide: if you've seen Monkee Maker's blog post today, and you found that at all upsetting, then you'd be best to avoid my link. OK? Good.

Right then: if you do visit this site, don't say I didn't warn you. And please don't tell my Monkey Army what I said about finding some of it funny....

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Slings and roundabouts

.... Actually, no roundabouts. And only one sling.

To elaborate: today has been one of those days when nothing pans out quite as you expect. We were woken up by NBM's brother phoning to ask of the whereabouts of the nearest hospital with an A&E, because NBM's dad had slipped down some stairs and dislocated his shoulder. Ouch.

So, we rushed round and spent about four hours with them at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, after which NBM's dad was let out, complete with a newly-relocated shoulder, some heavy-duty painkillers, and a sexy sling - to stop his arm from falling off, presumably. I think that's what they're for?

NBM has now gone on a mercy-mission to drive him back home to Lancashire, as he is obviously not able to drive himself anywhere for a while. I'm holding the fort here in Bristol.

Annoyingly, I'm still feeling quite ill, but I'm trying very hard not to whinge, as I'm thankful that my shoulders have both remained safely housed in their rightful sockets all day. My mantra to repeat: not grumpy, not grumpy, not grumpy.... (continue as necessary).

Anyway anyway, having decided that "Hairy Lee wreaks havoc in Ward 7" was probably a photo-story best left to the imagination, I went to the BRI without a monkey on my person. So, I have no interesting photos for you today - sorry about that.

One last thing - thanks so much for the comments you have left to say you hope we feel better soon. NBM is now irritatingly healthy again, and I'm sure I'll be following suit imminently. Also, many thanks to anyone who has made it to the bitter end, and read this far in today's very wordy post.... Pictures next time. I promise.


Friday, 30 November 2007

Oh look

I was sent a card this week:

Exhibit A: a sock monkey card

NBM's aunt saw it and thought of me. I wonder why? :o)

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Not at all well yet

Not feeling good. Brain kinda mushy.

So in lieu of a proper post, I just want to post a link to something that I found both interesting and pretty. It's an animation of the flight patterns of aircraft over the United States. You may well have seen it already, not least because I think it has been all over the Internet recently, but in the hope that it is new to you, here it is:

Interesting and/or pretty thing

Hopefully a fuller blog post next time, folks.

VC x

Monday, 26 November 2007

Scraping the barrel

Not much to blog about today, so I had a little trawl through my photos and found a picture from a couple of weeks ago that I never got round to posting:

HP8 watches the ducks at Stafford Services.

Truly, we have shown her some wonderous sights. Admittedly, Stafford Services might not seem that glamourous, but as motorway service stations go, it's got to be one of the best. It's certainly in my top five. (Seriously, you can tell it's a cut above by the fact that it boasts a duck pond; how many other service stations greet arriving motorists with a sign saying "Caution - ducks crossing"?)

In fact, HP8 is well on her way to becoming a very well-travelled monkee: in addition to Stafford Services, she has been to Frankley Services, and Strensham Services. Oh, the things she has seen. For reference, she liked Stafford best, although she particularly enjoyed Frankley for the comedic potential of its name ("Frankley? My dear, I don't give a damn!").

Monkee Maker, I know you like your monkees to get out and about, so I'm sure you'll be delighted to hear that HP8 has seen something of the world. And I do promise to take her to a part of the world that doesn't feature the M5 or M6 quite so heavily, very soon.

In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions for not-to-be-missed service stations, I'm sure HP8 would love me to arrange a visit for her. Anybody? No?

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Still ill...

.... but at least the knitting is coming on a treat, what with all this time spent lounging on the sofa. Yesterday's marathon of knitting resulted in the completion of an old project - a pair of mittens for the NBM. She demanded I put all monkey projects on hold until the mittens were finished. Which I suppose is fair enough, given that I said I'd make them for her for Christmas. Last year.

Anyway, they are now done. Here she is modelling them:

She's very shy about appearing on the Internets, and doesn't want to show her face, but you can see her beautiful, beautiful curls. You can probably also guess that she quite likes stripes.

On an entirely different note, I thought I'd leave you with this fab advert which I've seen a couple of times over the weekend. Just because I think it is lovely:

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Little Wooly Hats - on the shelves now!

Yuk. The NBM and I both have the lergie. However, the situation is not all bad: the plus side is that I've spent my day sitting on the sofa in my pyjamas, knitting and watching soothing telly (Columbo, mainly. I love him!)

Anyhoo, the upshot is that I don't have much to blog about, so I thought I'd just post this pic that I made the NBM snap with her phone while we were in the Sains, earlier this week:

Cosy-headed smoothie bottles

Nearly 400,000 little wooly hats have been made for The Big Knit, and these are now in the shops, adorning every chilly little bottle of Innocent smoothie! It's a happy win-win situation: the bottles are toasty-warm, and Age Concern get 50p for every hatted bottle sold.

Oooh, AND, there's an added advantage: if the purchasing customer happens to have a very small monkey with a chilly head, they can recycle the hat afterwards for monkey-noggin warming purposes. Hypothetically speaking, you understand.

Ugh, I feel ill. Time to head back to the sofa.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

One of the many reasons why I love the NBM

My Nothern Baking Monkey may have decided to rebrand as the Northern Biking Monkey, but she still fits in a spot of baking now and then.

These are her absolutely fantastic, best-in-the-world chocolate brownies:

Note the drooling HP8 in the background. I made the mistake of telling her that I didn't mind sharing, given that there were twenty-four brownies...

"Excellent - one for VC, twenty-three for HP8!"

I'm off to wrestle them away from her now before they all disappear. Happy evening to everyone - and an especially Happy Thanksgiving to any American folks who happen to stop by :o)

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Mr Fluffy Head

I finally finished my latest project.....

Hairy Lee

He's very acrobatic, and has been enjoying swinging around in the house plants:

In case you were wondering, Hairy Lee is very closely related to the Monkey-Martian breed epitomised by Wilmington; he's an Orangu-martian. Or a Smash-utan. Or something.

We are family

Hairy Lee is my first foray into the world of knitting with 'fun' yarns, which I was initially apprehensive about. However, using the fluffy stuff was less challenging than I had thought it might be, and knitting him was ok - although sewing him up was tricky.

Anyway anyway, that's all I have for you tonight. Time to go and cast on something new, I think - and try not to get too stressed out by Spooks, which the NBM will insist on making me watch... I'm just not cut out for high-octane drama...

Monday, 19 November 2007

People are very kind

A while ago, I sent my blog pal Lauren a teeny tiny PG Tips monkey, and at the end of last week, a lovely thank-you package arrived from her. Isn't that nice?

This is the first thing I saw when I unwrapped the brown paper packaging:

"Hooray!" sez I, "Omaha steaks - how did Lauren know that I've just run out of these? But it does say 'keep frozen'... I hope they haven't thawed out too much during their Atlantic crossing..."

But of course, it turned out that it was just the packaging box - silly me. I didn't need to be the least bit disappointed though, because look at what was inside:

This is heaps better than Omaha Steaks!

The wrapped parcel contained these brilliant badges, which match the wrapping paper I used when I sent Lauren's monkey:

And inside the envelope was this beautiful hand-made card:

I'm sorry it's not the best picture - poor light when I took it - but I hope you can see how fab it is. Also, I hope you can see how resourceful Lauren has been: she cut out the monkeys from my wrapping paper and included them on the card! Resourceful, clever, and talented Lauren.

So: thank you, thank you, thank you, Lauren - you are very kind :o)

Right, that is enough blogging for one day - I'm off to try and finish my current knitting project, more of which soon... watch this space...

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Is it raining cats and dogs?

Why, no - it's snowing a heron! Well, that's what it looked like, anyway...

I'd better explain: we've just driven home from Lancashire, and it was snowing/sleeting for quite a bit of the way. Somewhere near Birmingham, when the snow/sleet was at its heaviest, a heron suddenly swooped across the carriageway and landed on the hard shoulder! I was so excited (trust me, you would've been, too, given how monotonous motorways tend to be otherwise. Especially in the dark.) Sadly, I have no photographic evidence as it all happened too fast.... :o(

I do wonder if this is a common phenomenon. I'm intrigued, in fact. So, if you have ever experienced any freak weather incidents involving wildlife, do please share. Has a gust of wind ever brought you a salmon? Have you ever seen a gibbon swinging on a sunbeam? I'd love to know :o)

Sorry for the short, pictureless post - hopefully tomorrow's will be a bit longer, AND have photos for your perusal. But probably no snow-herons; and really, what more could you want?

Friday, 16 November 2007

Happy weekend

I thought I'd finish off the week with a more sedate picture of this pair - just so's you'd see that they don't always get manhandled and mistreated...

Bless 'em - sat together on a park bench like an old married couple. Of course, this picture was snapped shortly after the basketball incident, so they were probably just trying to catch their breath. Or hatch an escape plan, perhaps!

Enjoy your weekends, whatever you get up to :o)

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Someone's missing the limelight

"Why haven't I featured on the blog for a few days? Hmmm?"

A word to the wise: monkeys are cute but they can be a handful at times. I'm hoping this post will appease HP8, but she's still eyeballing me with a petulant stare, so who knows...

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Stop-gap picture #2

Quick! If we climb up here fast enough, they won't be able to chuck us through that hoop again!

Please note - this is, of course, purely staged for the camera, because the monkeys enjoyed playing basketball really. Truly they did. (And Lauren - don't worry, there was no monkey dribbling, and someone did catch them before they hit the ground. Most of the time.)

Oh, and Lesley - I'll be sure to look out for the Tossers in the 2012 Olympics ;o)

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

101 uses for a monkey

And today's stop-gap picture is....

Makeshift Basketball*

*Before anyone berates me for cruelty to monkeys, I would like to point out that I was against the idea, but I was overruled. Honest.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Sunday stuff

Meet Grumpy Monkey-Martian #3:

Make the most of him now, because you probably won't see him again: he has been given to my mum to keep her company in the hospital.

It was a close call, actually: I finished sewing him up at about 10:58, on the road leading to the hosp., and he had been given to my mum by 11:10. There was just time in between for a quick photo-op on NBM's dashboard. Oh, and a fond farewell...

... although from that picture, it looks more like the Wilmster might just have been trying to cop a feel. Tsk.

My mum's still not doing so well. It was nice to see her today, but sad to see that she is feeling so ill. Our drive back home to Bristol was also a bit stressful, with bad weather and two very near-misses accident-wise. But we are ok, so I shouldn't complain really. It has just added up to a bit of a sucky day.

That said, things have looked up a bit since we got home, as I've been attempting to cheer myself up by making Moogsmum's rather delish-looking chocolate and banana muffings:

Thanks very much for the recipe, Lesley and Ruby - they look very tasty! I just hope I followed your instructions well enough for mine to be edible... but I will find out in a mo, as the very next thing I am going to do is try one - with a cup of tea, naturally :o)

Friday, 9 November 2007


Let me show you a (so-called) gift from a (so-called) friend:

Mmmmm.... Skum Bananer, anyone?

HP8 isn't too sure she likes them ...

... and to be honest, I think I might be inclined to agree. (For reference, though, they taste more like hairspray than scum. Just in case you were wondering.)

Moving swiftly on; some of you were wondering if HP8 was going to be given a girl monkee name to go with her girl monkee nature (well, Stine was, at least). Personally, I quite like HP8 - it's sort of stuck. However, there are various other names we think would suit her too. So, my plan is this: she will have a day-to-day name, AND an official name (she is a thoroughbred monkee, right MM?). That way, she can use the official name at monkee shows and such like.

And now let's just pause for a moment to laugh wholeheartedly at that idea. Ha ha ha. (Don't get me wrong, HP8 - I think you are a queen amongst monkees, and I'm sure you'd win every rosette going if we were to enter you in one of these fictitious contests - but I just can't see it happening, somehow. Because 1) They don't exist, and 2) I doubt either of us could be arsed with it even if they did.)

Anyway, to get back to the name thingy: monkee contests or no, I think it's fine for HP8 to have a spare name; for special occasions and such like. Or just in case she ever takes up showjumping. So, we're working on it. I do have some ideas already, but need to run them by HP8 and see what she thinks. But I will be sure to let you know when a decision has been reached - just so's you know who to cheer for at the next Monkee Gala.

Ok, ok - I'll stop with that now. Sorry :o)

Happy weekend folks!

VCx (and Champion the Wonder Monkee*)

*please note: this is not actually one of the names we are considering. So if any nameless monkeys out there would like it... please, help yourself!

Thursday, 8 November 2007


Apparently I have made a terrible mistake.

HP8 seems to think that he is actually a she. I was quite surprised to hear this, but she was adamant on the matter.

So, I stand corrected. My apologies.

A Girl Monkee

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Meet the new guy

Today, a parcel arrived chez chicken from Monkee Maker's fabulous new Monkees 4 U shop.

Pretty paper!

Delaware was very excited, as he knew the parcel contained a new monkey:

The welcoming committee

Having ripped open the outer packaging, we discovered another pretty parcel inside .....

..... and we noticed that the new guy was bursting out of his tissue paper:

We took this as a good sign, indicating that he was pleased to be here and was eager to be unparcelled. Of course, it could just have been because he'd eaten too many bananas / chocolates / tea bags (please delete as applicable) - but we won't make him feel bad about that, if so. Even the chunkiest of monkeys are welcome around here.

But anyway, back to the grand unveiling:

Hello, HP8!

We were very glad to welcome him - not least because it means there's one more mouth around to help use up all the tea bags! Hooray!

Get drinking, HP8: there's plenty more where that came from.

And as if HP8 wasn't exciting enough all by himself, another parcel arrived too: a faberooney monkee beer mitt that I was lucky enough to win in Monkee Maker's opening-of-shop giveaway, AND some tasty choccies. Hooray again!

So it's really been a splendid day all round. Thanks so much for the kind prize and for HP8, MM; and to everyone else, I recommend you visit the excellent Monkees 4 U next time it opens its doors (if you haven't already), and get yourself a monkee. 'Cause you can take it from me: they're fun to have around. Just ask Del-boy.

Bessie mates

Monday, 5 November 2007

Where are my manners?

A while ago, I won a fantastic prize in a very kind "Birthday-amazing-giveaway-arama" from Sarah over at paper-and-string. I'm sorry it has taken me a while to post about this, but I have always been meaning to post some pics and say a big "thank-you!" for such a kind giveaway.

Firstly, I was planning to post a picture of the beautifully-wrapped parcel that arrived. I did take a picture of it. I know I did. Unfortunately, being the big eejit I am, I don't seem to have saved the picture anywhere - nowhere that I can find, anyway. So, I'm sorry to say, you will just have to imagine how beautiful it was - but take it from me, it was very beautiful indeed. To give you an idea, here is a picture of a beautifully-wrapped item I bought from paper-and-string, longer ago:

Anyway, when I eagerly ripped into the exciting parcel, here is what I found:

I love this pouch - it's so beautifully made, with lovely fabrics (check out the pretty lining!) AND it has a fantastic frog face on the front! Hooray!

I spent ages dithering about what to use it for (as there are always heaps of uses a girl can find for a little pouchy thing), but in the end, I think I have decided to send it to my Mum. I hope it is ok etiquette-wise to give away a giveaway, but if you read this, Sarah - rest assured that it's not becasue I don't want it; far from it, the selfish part of me does really want to keep it all for myself! It's just that my Mum is quite unwell and in hospital at the moment, and I have been trying to find things to take or send that might cheer her up a bit. She's a big fan of frogs, so I think she would like this a lot.

I don't want to harp on about Mum being ill - partly because it makes my stomach tie in knots just thinking about it, and partly because it isn't a cheerful thing and I'd like this blog to be a cheerful place. So I will just say that I apologise if the blog has been a bit mundane recently, or if I don't post at all - occasionally I have been all out of cheerful.

Anyhoo, to end on a cheery note (and for those of you who were wondering): yes, yesterday's post displayed my shiny new kettle in all its glory! It's not actually new, but an old one from my student days - it has been recovered from my parents' house and press-ganged back into active service (after I had chased out the spiders and given it a good rinse.) So, I say it's a 'shiny new' kettle, when 'tis actually neither new nor shiny. However, it works - which is metaphorically a truly shiny thing :o)

I'm off to put it through its paces now. But to Lauren (and anyone else who wishes to take up the challenge) I say this: the tea-mountain is only shrinking very slowly, so please keep the comedy tea-bag uses coming ;o)