Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wishes all her friends near and far a Happy New Year....

"It Depends on Us...
Another year lies before us like an unwritten page, an unspent coin, an unwalked road. How the pages will read, what treasures will be gained in exchange for time, or what we find alone the way, will largely depend on us."

Esther Baldwin York


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

As the sun sets on 2010...

This is my end of the year shout out to the many "friends" I have never been in the same room with but who have inspired, amused, comforted, encouraged, supported and touched me in so many ways both here on Blogger and on Facebook.

I love you people...!

Here's to another year together!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas...!

and to all, a good night!

Happy Christmas from all of us at the Purple Palace... :-)


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Wrap Presents - Advice for Cat Owners

Inspired by my friend, Bilbo, I dug out this old masterpiece that always has me laughing.....and it will give you insight on life with my boycat William.....

1. Clear a large space on a table or worktop for wrapping your present.

2. Go to cupboard and collect bag in which present is contained, and shut door.

3. Open door and remove cat from cupboard.

4. Go to cupboard and retrieve rolls of wrapping paper.

5. Go back and remove cat from cupboard.

6. Go to drawer, and collect sellotape, ribbon, scissors, labels, etc..

7. Lay out present and wrapping materials on table, to enable wrapping strategy to be performed in a logical manner.

8. Go back to drawer to get string, remove cat that has been in the drawer since last visit and place string on table.

9. Remove boxed present from paper bag.

10. Remove cat from paper bag.

11. Open box to check present is in it, remove cat from box, replace present in box.

12. Lay out paper to enable cutting to size.

13. Try and smooth out paper, discover cat is underneath and remove cat.

14. Cut paper to size, keeping the cutting line as straight as possible.

15. Discard first sheet of paper due to cat chasing scissors and tearing paper.

16. Cut second sheet of paper to size and restrain cat by putting it in bag present came in.

17. Place present on paper.

18. Lift up edges of paper to seal in present. Wonder why edges don't reach. Discover cat is between present and paper. Remove cat.

19. Place heavy object on paper to hold in place while tearing sellotape to length.

20. Spend fifteen minutes carefully trying to remove sellotape from cat.

21. Seal paper with sellotape, making corners as neat as possible.

22. Look for roll of ribbon. Chase cat down hall in order to retrieve ribbon.

23. Try to wrap present and tie ribbon in a pretty bow.

24. Re-tie ribbon and remove paper, which is now ripped due to cat's enthusiastic ribbon chase.

25. Repeat steps 13 - 20 until you are down to your last sheet of paper.

26. Decide to skip steps 13 - 17 in order to save time and reduce risk of losing last sheet of paper. Retrieve old cardboard box that is the right size for sheet of paper.

27. Put present in box, and secure with string.

28. Remove string, open box and remove cat.

29. Put all packing materials in bag with present and head for bathroom.

30. Once inside bathroom, lock door and start to lay out paper and materials.

31. Remove cat from box, unlock door, put cat outside door, close and re-lock.

32. Repeat previous step as often as is necessary until you can clearly hear cat on other side of locked door.

33. Lay out last sheet of paper. (This will be difficult if you have a small bathroom, but do your best).

34. Discover cat has already torn paper. Unlock door, go out and hunt through various cupboards, looking for sheet of last year's paper. Then remember you haven't got any because cat helped wrap present last year as well.

35. Return to bathroom, lock door, sit on lavatory and try to make torn sheet of paper look presentable.

36. Seal box, wrap with paper and repair by very carefully sealing with sellotape. Attach pretty ribbon and decorate with additional bows to hide worst areas.

37. Label present. Sit back and admire your handiwork, congratulating yourself on completing a difficult job.

38. Unlock door, and go to kitchen to make stiff drink and feed cat.

39. Spend twenty minutes looking for cat until coming to obvious conclusion.

40. Unwrap present, untie box and remove cat.

41. Have several more stiff drinks. Then pick up present and stagger back to shop and get nice assistant to gift-wrap present for you.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American Friends...!
And I am giving thanks today, for all my friends around the world and the love and support they give when I am in need. My friends make me smile and they make me laugh. When I am weeping, they are holding my hand, wherever they are.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Moving on - but not forgetting

Tonight is our Company of Chivalry medieval banquet. It's an opportunity for the group to get together in kit, without the public element, and sit down to a medieval style banquet, followed by much carousing :-)

It's the celebration of the end of the year and a time to honour achievements, bestow promotions within the Household (Company) and to meet up with friends we only normally see at events in the summer.
I have had such a rotten time lately, what with my boss being off sick and my resultant horrendous workload, then my father falling ill and then his sudden passing. I need to see these people and the desire to leave the 21C and all its sadness and 'medieval up' is very strong.
The Company itself is also still reeling from recent bad news so we need an evening together to shake off the bad stuff and reconnect with the group ethos that carries us through the season each year.
So, I'm packing my frock and cloak, a bag full of pastries and a VERY large bottle of cider......and I'm off to Woolavington for a long alcoholic night :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

17 November 2010

These are corn poppies, the national flower of Poland.

Today is my father's funeral. Born in 1940 in Lvov, Poland, he passed in 2010 in Salisbury, England.
It's been a long wait as the local crematoria have been very busy and my mother had to find one that was comfortable with a Quaker funeral.

Quaker funerals are not about mourning the loss they are about celebrating God in the life of the one that has gone and their loved ones, and joining together in community to gather strength and share love.
You don't wear black to Quaker funerals - I will be wearing a warm reddish purple skirt and sweater; my dad said that colour suited me. With my boots - he would have loved the faux studs!
There will be no hymns or prayers, unless my mother has chosen a favourite reading. Quakers are all about waiting - waiting to be moved by the spirit of the Lord. If you are, you speak. If you aren't, you wait...
And the coffin is cardboard - Quakers are very much in touch with nature and the world around us.
And no wake - some Friends hold meetings for worship after a funeral to feel the Lord, but it is not unknown to have a get together with a cup of tea and a chat.

Today will be our final farewell to the man who came into our lives and made us look at life differently. In many ways he made our lives better and more comfortable, in some he made our lives more complicated and difficult.
But I loved him.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon 1914

Friday, November 05, 2010

Birthday Films

To celebrate my birthday with my friends, I went to see RED with the lads and Burke and Hare with my BobKat :-)

Neither film has been universally praised, but I am one person who makes up my own mind about what I like and what I don't like.

RED (Retired; Extremely Dangerous) was a glorious romp through every secret agent movie you can think of. Steered by the magnificent Bruce Willis, who was supported strongly by John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren with Brian Cox adding his weight to the cast, this film about four retired secret agents who relive their heyday when one of their number is threatened by the CIA. With a surprise appearance by Ernest Borgnine, this film proved to be a delight. Lots of ludicrously over the top gunfire, car chases, fights and so on - this film played on every cliche they could think of. The result was a cleverly written and excellently acted and directed action movie.

Burke and Hare was a revisit to the notorious gentlemen in Edinburgh in the 1820s who discovered there was money to be made providing cadavers to the medical community. The film opens with the statement 'This film is based on a true story - except for the bits we made up!' - which sums it up concisely and honestly.
Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis revelled in the juicy title roles and were ably supported by Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry and the ever-so luscious Hugh Bonneville. Even old comedian Ronnie Corbett made an appearance as a mad Militia Captain. This grim story was given a facelift and the black humour was picked out of the bones. It was so funny, we found ourselves giggling inanely to roaring with laughter - from the failed murder attempts to the fainting militia soldier and right on to the little things like always stepping over the prone wolfhound in the pub and the perceived naivety of William Burke. The ultimate irony of this was that the film showed Burke confessing to protect his girl, but in reality Hare was offered immunity from prosecution if he confessed and agreed to testify against Burke. Hare's testimony led to Burke's death sentence and Burke was hanged and his cadaver was given to the Edinburgh Medical College for dissection, and his skeleton still stands in their museum. Admittedly, the writers did play fast and loose with a very dark subject, changing elements to lighten the effect and, as a result, have produced an eminently watchable, if mostly fictional, story of two of Scotland's most notorious serial killers.

Both films have made my DVD wishlist - I could watch them again and again....

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Birthday Girl

Sitting here at home opening gifts from friends and family with a cat on my lap.......looking forward to dinner out with the Much Beloved tonight....nights out yesterday and tomorrow with friends.....

Such is my birthday [deep relaxing sigh]


Friday, October 29, 2010


I have a ghost in my life.
My best friend some twenty years ago took his own life. For many years I blamed myself for not being there to help him in his hour of need, but after a long, long time, I came to peace with the situation.
I was haunted by the memory of this friend for many years, but slowly learned to cherish our friendship and be grateful for the time we had.

Just as I was finding equilibrium after my father's recent death, I heard yesterday that a friend of mine had taken that route again. This one is not a very close friend, but we have known each other for a couple of years and have spent a lot of time together.
He was troubled, I know, and life was not easy......but his sudden death has shocked and stunned our little circle of friends.

It's a new month on Monday - here's hoping that life takes an upturn as all this October sad news is starting to get to me.....


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"

The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you."

(c) Mary Stevenson 1936

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Grief is a most personal thing.
Every person grieves differently; they view the loss of a loved one in respect of what they themselves have lost.

While I have been upset by family deaths in the past, I have never really grieved as they are usually too distant to impact my own existence and I am able to move on.

Now I am mired in grief for my step-father. Whilst not my biological father, he was an important part of my life for nearly forty years, and back in the day he and I used to sit and talk about all sorts of things important in my little life - work and relationships. And we loved each other, me loving the father figure and him loving the child who turned to him for support.

Now he is gone I grieve deeply for the lifelong friend I have lost.

Rather than remembering the sick old man in the hospital bed, I am trying to remember him as the man who always greeted me with smiles and a bearhug, who allowed me teach him to swim, who persuaded my mother that I should be permitted to leave school and go to work, who bought me my first ever adult posh dress, who worked it so I could stay to the end of the school disco when my mum wanted me home early and who encouraged me to practice my driving in his very expensive car. So many little things he did for me over the years which have helped shape my life.

I want to be able to say a fond farewell to my friend at his funeral and then move on with my life, carrying his memory in my heart.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Life and Death....

..and the small step between.

I am waiting. Waiting for a phone call. We know the phone is going to ring and someone is going to say a certain sentence, but we don't know when. So I am waiting.

My dad is dying. His body is riddled with the bastard entity that is known as cancer. It is an entity, growing and eating away at his organs until he can no longer fight it.

I spoke to his staff nurse and checked the four main things;
Is he in pain?
Is he comfortable?
Does he know we're there?
How will 'it' happen?
I don't need to know anything else, they are the most important things.

No, he does not appear to be in pain, but he is on a lot of morphine.
Yes, he is turned regularly, he can acknowledge comfort but he doesn't like the nasal oxygen.
When I was there he opened his eyes, recognised me and smiled. At one point he feebly reached for my hand.....his 'little girl'.
His breathing will just slow.....

This is not my natural father, but he is my stepfather. He met my mother and married her when I was about 9. With my biological father pretty much out of the picture and passing on when I was 17, this man became my dad in all but name. I never called him dad, we agreed it would not be appropriate, but in all senses of the word he was mine. We talked a lot, as I was taking my first faltering steps in adulthood, relationships and work he was the one I confided in.

We visited him yesterday. We live at least a couple of hours away from the hospital, so even if we do get some warning we won't be there in time. And he's slowly slipping away. So I took the chance to visit with him for a bit while he could still acknowledge me, holding his hand, talking to him, comforting him and saying my farewells to my dad....

And now we're waiting, waiting for him to finally admit defeat in his battle.

Update; my dad took that small step and surrendered at 4pm today. He was a good man, despite all his faults.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010


WICOE (Women In Charge Of Everything)
Is proud to announce the opening of its
Note: due to the complexity and level of difficulty, each course will accept a maximum of eight participants
The course covers two days, and topics covered in this course include:
Step by step guide with slide presentation
Roundtable discussion
Practising with hamper (Pictures and graphics)
Debate among a panel of experts.
Losing the remote control - Help line and support groups
Starting with looking in the right place
Instead of turning the house upside down while screaming - Open forum
Group discussion and role play
PowerPoint presentation
Real life testimonial from the one man who did
Driving simulation
Online class and role playing
Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques
Bring your calendar or PDA to class
Individual counsellors available

Send this on to all your girlfriends who may need a laugh and to guys who you think can handle the truth!
cq :-)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

11 September 2001

For those lost and those left behind

Sunday, September 05, 2010


With the final event over for the season, I spend a lot of time cruising the photos from the group, reliving the weekend......

Welcome to my Caerphilly August 2010 memory album (courtesy of Elisabeth and Sarah)

The main event of the weekend was the knighting of Richard Burley (aka John), seen here on his vigil in the castle tower the night before the ceremony (all nice and authentic!)

You can't be a re-enactor and not appreciate a nice fire, or the residual smell of woodsmoke :-)

There is the traditional drinks around the fire, with warm clothing and good friends......

...or fighting over stuffed toys......[chuckle]

This is me on the coin die (where we hammer coins) with my new young apprentice K (age 5, first event), waiting for the public to come back from the siege engine display (below)

The camp is so romantic when it's empty....I love seeing this kind of picture, so evocative.....

I had a bit of extra money this month, so have invested in a new wheeled holdall for next season - purple zebra cool!!

It's gonna be a long winter........


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Swiss Army Wife...

I was likened to a Swiss Army Knife this weekend by one of the Company of Chivalry. All I'm missing, apparently, is a tool to take stones out of horses hooves (chuckle)....
Lord de Beauchamp (aka my friend Nick), above, called impatiently for his seamstress on Saturday.....
Um - that would be me, the only person brave (or stupid!) enough to repair his old, much worn and beaten up gambeson (padded jacket)!! That thing reeks - but is necessary to protect the fighter. Needless to say, I am constantly nagging him to buy a new one. Each time I see him, it seems he needs some emergency sewing done!
I have also be known to help him armour up (not too hard these days, I know his armour quite well), resuscitate him on a boiling hot day after a battle when he collapsed, keep his jewelry safe while he fights, and then this weekend I found myself entertaining his little boy with 'talking dogs', providing him with boiling water for his snack pots, and other little bits and pieces when called on for help.
Because I am always there, Lord de Beauchamp has christened me his 'Swiss Army Wife' for the Middle Ages.
....and people say re-enactors are nuts....[wink]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

4th Anniversary

Hi ho hi ho, it's off to medieval times I go......for my fourth anniversary in this peculiar hobby...

I checked back on my blog to make sure I had my years right and here is the posting I made on my first foray in naive, so innocent......

Click the link for a waltz down memory lane......

till I return.....


Monday, August 16, 2010

Bleedin' Re-Enactors!

We went to Pembroke Castle this weekend. We like Pembroke, it's a nice castle and and has a huge open space to work with.
Dream campsite.....?
I wasn't planning to go as Ugly Monster set up home in my head a couple of months ago and has been whispering my inadequacies to me since. But my best friend was going and it was to be My Boy's first time at Pembroke, so I girded my loins and packed the car and off I went.

me and my boy

me and my best mate (and tent landlord)

Wonder of wonders - the sun shone all weekend (bar a couple of big clouds), the rain stayed off, the public were very receptive and friendly, the market did great business and the fighting was very popular. We got lots of fantastic feedback from the people and had a great weekend. There is nothing so remarkable as a small modern boy looking in awe at a medieval Knight, with the Knight's sword in his little hands, while mum and dad snap away with their cameras. Or the lights going on in brains as we explain how people lived in the middle ages. Or the small boy laughing uproariously as the Sergeant at Arms 'took out his frustrations' on a suspected to love pantomine violence :-)
And the children and adults alike watching the fight with jaws dropped as swords clashed on shields and men fell......and then the traditional applause, raising them from the dead.
A chivalrous handshake between Knights

Funniest visitor was a chap who I was talking to about medieval coins, and he insisted on asking questions about the Royal Mint in the modern day - until I pointed out that my area of expertise medieval money, not the 21C stuff!
Rosaries, luvverly rosaries - get yer rosaries here!

A special mention to a lovely couple who came to see us especially. They saw us a couple of weeks ago at Kidwelly and were so impressed they came to Pembroke as well, this time with their grandson who is mad about history. When we got talking I mentioned the season was coming to an end and our next event was the last hurrah at Caerphilly with the siege engines, and the husband said 'oh, I came from round there!' they are now planning to visit us for a third time in two months - we actually have fans! :-)

I am an experienced First Aider and an instructor at work, but I am still learning how to treat re-enactment injuries. Combine some horrible injuries with stubborn young men and a very comprehensive first aid kit. This time I dealt with a long gash in the scalp, a laceration of the nose, a swollen cut on the shin, a banged nose and a banged elbow. I got used to washing my friends' blood off my hands this weekend.

You know when you say something you never thought you'd hear yourself saying? I had just collected a prop from the kitchen box for the crime and punishment show and was in my tent checking my kit. I found myself saying 'Bowls over there, rosaries in my box, knife in my belt...' and then 'severed hand on my bed....' [chuckle]


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Q&A Session

His practice has no room for new patients! Now, he's a medical wizard! I love this Doctor....

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it... Don't waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speed up heart not make live longer; that like say you can extend life of car by driving faster. Want live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does cow eat? Hay and corn. What are these? Vegetables. So, steak nothing more than efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef also good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And pork chop can give 100% recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine. That means they take water out of fruity bit; get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: If you have body and you have fat, ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exerciseprogram?
A: Cannot think of single one, sorry. My philosophy: No Pain...Good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU NOT LISTENING!!! .... Foods fried in vegetable oil. How getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only do sit-ups if want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: You crazy? HELLO. Cocoa beans! Vegetable!!! Cocoa beans best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming good for figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is shape.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Kidwelly Photos

Peekaboo - the camp seen from the castle walls..

'I'm always in the kitchen at parties'.......Obviously the place for the boys to hang out.....

We were gobsmacked when we arrived to find awful modern art dotted around this amazing medieval castle....this particular piece sat right in the middle of our camp.....

No words.......just medieval....... :-)
Medieval market stalls on 'campaign' - from left, spinner and dyer, rosary stall and moneyer.....(psst - that's me on the right!)
And, of course, not forgetting the soldiers - 'ye shall not pass!' Never argue with a man with a bill :-)
The view from the front door of my tent.......glorious......
Photos courtesy of our Kimmie

Monday, July 19, 2010

Castle Life

This weekend was spent at Kidwelly Castle - a new location for me.

I didn't take photos but there was a reporter taking photos and names so you never know, I could be famous shortly! (only a local cub reporter, but she was oh so keen to capture as much as possible!). Also a lot of the company took photos, so there should be some nice ones around when they upload them!

My over-riding memories of the weekend are......well, rain ( of course!), a leaking tent, wind (the weather kind!), spending quality time with a good friend I haven't seen for a while, talking about coins and rosaries to interested people, lugging heavy kit, sunshine, woodsmoke, sore knees, being back in the court scene (I was 'robbed' by aforementioned good friend!), singing around the fire, clanking armour, a severed hand, hugs, bruises (caught a couple of doozies while unpacking and packing heavy kit), wet dresses, smelly soldiers, more hugs, laughter, hammering coins, missing my boy, playing with fake blood (cool!), newbies.
But the very best bit - sitting under the stars singing, talking and laughing with my best pal......


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Battle Lines

While the fair (posted yesterday) is fabulous, the main reason for Tewkesbury Medieval Festival is the re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471.

A rare sight is a lone knight - but I loved this guy complete with bill (long pole weapon) striding purposely through all the 21C folks.

Normally, the men come by household......

Some women come on campaign and support their men.......

They come with drums......

And bright coloured knights.....

And still they come.....

The knights clanking in their armour, dented and dull, but still working....and that's just the men!

More men with their supporters, young squires, women.......

Some look rather more pretty...........

Some look more war weary - it's been a long campaign.
Women bearing jugs of refreshing water - necessary in this day and age to protect our men. In the period the jugs would have been filled with watered down wine or small beer (half brewed beer, reduced alcoholic content)....

And still they come.......

And the drums play on - whether the group in the background or the drums of the household....nothing like the sound of rhythmic drumming to make the blood rise....

Waiting to move on - notice the padding, the protection for the poor man. A suit of armour is expensive and soldiers are only paid a couple of pence a day (dpending on their skill) - so they beg, borrow or steal clothing from their defeated foe - hence the hotchpotch of kit....

The camp is empty with all the men at war and the women following them.........

A hand for the band! We love this drummer lady with her harness of drums.....

Here's our ladies of the camp, armed with water and big smiles ready to support the household in their battle. (from the left; Liz, Kate, Rachel and Stephy) - and yes, they really are as hot as they was broiling hot!
I was so busy waving and cheering at my boys I didn't take their photos - but suffice it to say, they marched into battle with grim smiles on their faces and weapons at the ready - except our beloved Sergeant at Arms who waved cheerfully at me! :-)