More Things I like in our Home

The featured image is the collection of dried flowers that Valerie arranges in an old shopping basket on the top of the cupboards in our kitchen.  Every now-and-then she changes some to they always look wonderful.  She also has a collection of interesting objects to the left of the flowers including a range of invalid feeding bottles.  I enjoy looking at the diffent things, imagine how they were used, by whom and it looks very attractive when the fairy lights are switched on.

 

Valerie is very pleased with the half pint milk bottle that she found whilst mudlarking on the Thames with Cheryl who was over from the USA.

You can see it here  above the bunch of old keys.   On its left is a stoneware inhaler designed to allow the breathing in  of medicated steam.  In the stone marmalade jar, bottom centre, is the bullhead tin opener that Elwyn gave us.  An efficient opener but it does produce a very jagged edge.

 

 

 

I am not a Hindu but I have an affinity with Lord Ganesha who has helped me over the years and on my bedside cabinet I have a little carved, portable shrine of Him and Saraswati Goddess of music and writing, culture.  There are many statuettes of the Elephant headed God around the bungalow. By my left shoulder, as I write, is a  statuette of a very slim Ganesha.  Normally he has a magnificent belly that contains the universe.  Some 40 or more years ago during the relaxation period at the end of a yoga session a bright and intense scene appeared in my mind of an elephant-headed man dressed in Indian clothes, where there was supposed to be a rose that we’d been instructed to visualise.  He was leaning against a tree preaching to a small group and it was very hot and sunny.  I opened my eyes and it appeared on the ceiling about two metres across.  It was as bright as a film, I closed my eyes and it stayed.  This went on for about 15 minutes until the instructor called us back into the present. At the time I was ignorant of what I had seen.  I told the yoga instructor about it who, during the next session, informed me it was something that happens and to forget about it. Years later, I met her in Kings Lyn, when she said that the council were very worried and told her to mislead me in this way.  Much later I came to realise what I had seen and to realise that it was a very special moment that I was privileged to have had.  I can still see the scene, as vivid as a video, when I close my eyes.

 

The image on the left is of the window by my chair.  We bought the lovely Art Deco statuette at  the Southgate auction house, she is beautiful and so joyful.  I’d hoped it was a Chiparus but it is unsigned and on a cheap base so, though lovely, it probably isn’t.  In front of the glass plate on the right you can see another statuette of Lord Ganesha on the left are a figure and chain I carved out of teak from the door of the old Capital cinema in Winchmore Hill.  I am very proud of the chain, the links are separated and tinkle when shaken.  As always some art glass.  The green one is particular favourite and it changes so much in shape and colour in different lights.  The blue piece is modern from the Czech Republic.  I bought it at a glass fair where we first met our son-in-law’s late father Johnny King who was a very well known glass blower with Whitefriars Glass ,  He very generously made me a handkerchief vase, which he signed, and here it is:

I am very interested in origins and find the history of writing very fascinating.  The earliest is cuneiform developed in Sumer about 3000 BCE.  This led me to Enheduanna the earliest known poet writing in Ur in about 2350 BCE.  Cuneiform was invented by accountants for stock control and Egyptian hieroglyphics by priest for us in tombs and some say this is why Egyptian poetry the more human and passionate,  I like both.  The image below is of a precious object, the 11th tablet of the Story of Gilgamesh the first known novel.  It is written in cuneiform but the language is Akkadian and it is an early version of the great flood in which Noah is the central character in the Bible.  It is a replica but when I handle it I can hear the voices of the story tellers that told the story long before it was written down in 800 BCE.  It is on the window will in our sitting room and I was sitting in our tiny patio when I took the shot.

 

Finally an image I just like.  It is the reflection of the chandelier in my toilet, in the angular glass clock which is amongst various bits and pieces on he shelf over the cistern.  You can just see the shape of the clock.  I bought it in a car boot in Witney as I liked its chunkiness.  It did not work but, to my amazement, I was able to buy a cheap replacement over the internet. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glass and Things I like in our Home

Following on from my last blog of things I like in our garden, this will be about some of the things I like in our home.  We have been here for 27 years and being 77 it is not surprising there are quite a few objects I would like to write about so this may run to two  or more blogs!  Growing up after the war we never had beautiful things at home, everything was functional and somewhat tatty.  An exception was a glorious studio phonograph of polished walnut that had been converted to a cocktail cabinet with glass shelves and mirrors.  When we lived in Willow Road it played shellac 78s using thorn needles.  It was not wind-up, it had an electric motor but volume was controlled by opening or closing the front.  Doors  ran from top to bottom at each side, they were cupboards for storing records.  Here is verse from my poem Ten things I learned before I was Fourteen.

9 – Sunday was a time for pre-prandial drinks. 

I’d cube cheddar cheese,
spike some with cocktail sticks,
pile it in little glass dishes.
It was not long after the war
and Dad’s drink was Pink Gin
the officer’s wardroom favourite.
A drop of Angostura’s bitter
swilled around the glass, shaken out,
shot of gin and then water.
For Mum it was Gin and It;
Gordon’s with sweet vermouth.
The drinks and mixers were kept
in a saloon acoustic gramophone.
It was curvy, mahogany and burr walnut
now with a shiny mirror in its lid
shelves for bottles, mixers, glasses.
I’ve just remembered the soda siphon
with its heavy dull-nickeled lever and spout,
glass, re-enforced with cross braided wire.

Study

Murano and Finnish Glass

We have art glass all over the house, these are from the collection on the window sill in the room we call the study.  To the left and right are typical examples of glass from Murano with silver metal and multi-colours.  The centre one I bought in a junk shop in Southend.  We were on the way home when I spotted it.  There was a collection of 5 glass items for £5  The shop owner insisted I take them all though I only wanted this one; I was struck by its beauty.  I was delighted to discover it was signed by Kaj Franck a notable Finnish designer!  I love the shape, the colour and how it feels in my hand.

Hall

The study opens into the hall where we have a wonderful Edwardian sideboard we call the Green Man.

Green Man

It belonged to my grandfather and I have wanted it since I was about four.  At breakfast it would bear chaffing dishes with egg, bacon, devilled kidneys and kedgeree.  There was a Duralit toaster that toasted bread one side at a time.  As it was patented in 1946 it was truly avantgarde!  My aunt Margaret died a couple of years ago, she was 97, and she had instructed her grandsons to offer it to me.  Yes!  Fortunately it just fits in the hall.  As you can see, it bears some of Valerie’s egg collection and the offering bowl from Celbic Hall Spiritualist Church now full of tiny, polished crystals and my wooden pendulum.  My sister-in-law gave me the bowl, she was President, and no one else wanted it.

Buddha

 

There is also a wonderful cast brass Buddha we bought at Southgate Auction’s.  The artistry and craftsmanship is just wonderful and we are lucky to have it.   It was with a signed Daum glass car.  As we have nowhere to display the car it is in a box but it is one of the large ones.  Both for £30.00!

 

We call it the green man because of this magnificent carving:

Green Man 1

Crystals are everywhere.  Here is some black tourmaline, I always buy a piece if I see one.  It is very efficient at grounding, connecting the holder to the Earth, wonderful to hold especially a big chunk like this one.  The other is a quartz druze which is the lid to the geode you can just see to the left of the Green Man in the photo above.  Both the geode and black tourmaline came from the wonderful shop, Web of Dreams, in Crewes Hill.

Toilet

Finally my art gallery.  Yes it is in the loo off the passageway running from the hall.

Toilet on Left

I hang prints, odds and ends, all manner of things.  In the reflection, to the right, you can see Al’s Dancing Fish  that bangs its tail and swivels its head as it plays Elvis Presley’s All Shook up and Don’t be Cruel.

It came from Plains, Georgia, home of Jimmy Carter.  Plains is just a row of about 7 shops and one was just magnificent.  Full of everything including this fish.  There was a cafe that had a notice “Open 7 days a week, closed Tuesdays.”  We were in Georgia on our Honeymoon and were staying with my niece when 7/11 struck and we were marooned!

As I mentioned our honeymoon…

One of my favourite pictures of us taken my my stepsister’s son.  We eventually made it to Canada and this is after our trip on the Maid-of-the-Mist at Niagara Falls.  On the right is a blacksmith in a small tourist town near Americus, Georgia  where were were staying with my niece.  The leaf is now on the windowsill in our sitting room.  We think it beautiful but blacksmith son Elwyn, sniffed and said he could have made a better one!

Next to the fish is a lovely letter from Sian Philips.  I had sent her my poems concerning my  welsh mother-in-law’s life on a small farm in Carmarthen as it seemed so like the tale she related, I had just read her autobiography.  She wrote that I had “summed up her childhood  in the best medium possible – poetry.”  It is such a generous comment.  I Like to collect old photographs and to the right of the mirror is an Ambrotype of a wonderful mid-Victorian gentleman.

Toilet on Right

Looking the other way you can see the motion activated screen that runs a video (see below)  made by Giovanna Iorio of the Voice Portraits she made of twelve of the translations of my poem
Londinium.  It plays when someones enters.  The sound track is audio recordings of the translations.  The link above is to my page of the 28 translations for a previous exhibition.  I now have 39 which were to be exhibited at Enfield Poets Literary Festival which had to be cancelled due to the pandemic!  Bottom left is one of my favourite photos of Valerie taken in Hadley Wood I think. Above her is of meandering Turkey Brook in Hilly Fields.  The tan plaques on the right are beeswax casts of cities in Germany.  They were given me by BASF as I was using their waxes at the time to make old fashioned, solid furniture polish in a round tin.  It was in the late 70s.  There were six but dog Merlin ate one.  The glass clock is facing the wrong way as the battery was flat.  I have since replaced it and it is now facing the right way.  There are lots of other things, including a telegram, but enough for now but please watch the video below.

Poppies and Things I Like in Our Garden

Lockdown and self isolation are limiting the number of places we can visit so it is a challenge to write a blog!  Why not, I thought, photograph some of the things I like most in the garden and bungalow and write about why I like them so much?

The day started with me photographing the glorious oriental poppies in our garden.  They are just outside the window of what I call “Café Queen Anne” which is where we have a little table at the end of our Kitchen.

Five Poppies - Copy

I look forward to them appearing each year.  Usually there are nine blooms, this year it was just eight, here are five of them.  I suspect my grandfather had them in his garden when I was living with them during the war.  I love the colour but also have a strong emotional attachment to them.  They are exotic and radiate uninhibited sensuality.  Perhaps it is passion that burns them out in just a few days.

 

Red Poppies Cafe Queen Anne - Copy

Here are seven of them looking from the garden into “Café Queen Anne”,  it was evening and the colours had become gentler.  We like to sit for lunch together  at the table. then read a while whilst  drinking our tea.  I sit at an old carver, on the right.  It was advertised in the local paper and when the seller answered the phone it was our recently retired accountant!   The chair had been his father’s.  Son-in-law Ryan repaired it and now I use it every day that we are at home.  Valerie’s chair is one we had found in a junk shop in Hereford.  She stripped the white paint to reveal wonderful dark, warm wood.

 

Yellow Poppies - Copy

Less flamboyant but equally beautiful, are the yellow poppies growing under our wonderfully unruly corkscrew hazel.  The dustbin is rather dented as I had knocked air holes in it with my mattock having completely forgotten that there was a tank cutter in the garage.  Behind it, you can just see the runner bean plants climbing the bamboo frame I had constructed using canes from the bamboo growing on the other side of the garden.  Back to the poppies,  I call them Icelandic poppies, Valerie horned poppies and friends Becky and Tony Welsh poppies.  I like their simplicity, their unpretentiousness and that they last for weeks. The plant on the left is growing out of a pile of large stones I had collected in Wales and taken from house-to-house since the mid seventies.

When I first met Valerie I was a committed and angry aetheist who refused to go into a church during a service.  This included family weddings and christening so I was, at times, not popular.  I still regard Christening an abuse of power and it is ironic that I have been twice!  Once in a church when I was born and then, in December 1943/January 1944,  on the battleship HMS Rodney when it was in Rosyth having its damaged and leaking plates repaired.

600px-HMS_Rodney_after_refitting_at_Liverpool

My mother took me there to meet my Father when I was about nine months old. He had yet to see me as he was at sea, I think on  Malta convoy duty They rented a bedsit for six weeks and it was here that my sister was conceived.  According to my aunt Margaret, I was christened on board by the ship’s chaplain which means my name may be inscribed in the ships bell.  In the event Churchill had need of this great battleship and she sailed without the plates being fully repaired.

Valerie introduced me to Spiritualism by giving me a ticket for a reading in The Beacon of Light.   The Saturday afternoon session was so organised that I entered through the kitchen so I did not realise that I was entering a church.  Once in I thought, “Why not.”  This led to years of studying under Dr Petia Prime and even chairing services in The Beacon!  Moreover I was ordained into an American Spiritual Healing Church and became The Reverend Fisher.  Valerie used to answer the door proclaiming that she was the Reverend Fisher’s housekeeper.  I was ordained in Palm Beach and it was lovely, I enjoyed the studying and experience but left the Church a few years ago. I now think of myself as being a polytheist.

For a year, I studied Crystal healing with The International College of Crystal Healing and enjoyed the course and developed an everlasting love of crystals.  Once a month I would travel to Fulham for one Saturday and Sunday a month.  I was the only male in a group of 11.  It was the same when I practised yoga some 40 years ago.  Then, I thought of myself as an honorary woman but this time I decided to learn to interact as me and it was great.  The course used the new NVQ system and I just could not deal with the filing and administration and did not go on to the second year.

Cockerel

There are crystals all over the house and I wear a tourminalated quartz cabochon pendant around my neck.  Here is a photo of the crystal garden I created.  The two huge lumps of rose quartz (my favourite stone) were being sold off by a distributor who was closing down. There is another piece in our lounge.  We we first moved in to our bungalow we were plagued with mischievous spirits who came in through two portals, one in the porch and one in our sitting room.  The one in the porch was beautiful  It looked like a curtain of electric blue silk shimmering in a zephyr.  I programmed the rose quartz to help return things to normal and they were very effective.   The light brown stones are two of those we brought from Wales.  There is an amethyst druze just out of shot to the left.

Cockerel 2

Art glass, especially from Murano, is another love.  The  cockerel came from an internet auction in New York and I was so pleased when it arrived.  Unfortunately when we were burgled the robber knocked it off the window sill to fall and break in the drive. It is so lovely I put it to guard the crystals for me. Hag stones are another favourite and we are always looking out for them and have a few scattered around and about.

 

Daisies

 

Daisies are so lovely, simple cheerful.  When we were young we would make daisy chains by slitting a hole in the stem with a fingernail and poking the stem of the next one through it.  Daisies seemed bigger and more plentiful then. Before cutting the lawn I pick the daisies and put them in the little glass vase and put them on the table in Café Queen Anne.

 

Chimney cap

This is a shot of our lavender bed which also has sage and pink Japanese anemones.  The chimney cowl has such a wonderful shape and sometimes we put a soft toy in there to peer out through the flutes.  I treated it with a seal some years ago and I must repeat the treatment.  In the autumn we will plant the pink rose, which is in a pot outside our kitchen window, into the back of the bed.

 

 

Whilst I have been writing this, their passion spent, the poppies shed their petals.

Poppies Passion Spent