Wednesday, 30 May 2012

I have a dream

Good Evening Lovely Readers 

What a gorgeous day it's been here! Simply glorious. 

So, my dream, well I'll explain it to you if you promise not to laugh!

We live in a beautiful Suffolk market town which is on the broads and close to the sea. There is also a mystery which I find intriguing and which involves our town. The parish church is St Michael's.  This church is reputed to lie on a ley line which runs from the Norfolk coast to St Michael's Mount in Cornwall.

The theory is that the land on which we stand, run, play is criss-crossed with mystical lines. It has been noticed that particular places of interest seem to sit along these invisible lines, for example churches and ancient monuments.  Strange and wonderful things are said to happen on these ley lines and this is connected to the belief many hold that these special lines hold a peculiar kind of mystical energy – sometimes good, sometimes bad.
The whole idea of ley lines was conceived by the British businessman and amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins who, in the 1920s, wrote his book The Old Straight Track. In it, he laid out his findings that churches, burial mounds and various other spiritually significant places stood along one straight line. He christened these ‘ley lines’ after the Saxon meaning of ‘ley’ – meaning a cleared glade. His theory wasn’t that mystical actually – he believed that ancient Britain, which was covered with forests back then, had been crisscrossed with travel routes, and landmarks had been built along these routes for navigational purposes.

It wasn’t till a few years later that a more mystical element was added to these ley lines. There are loads of theories flying about but the main belief is that directly beneath ley lines are underground streams or cosmic currents that are part of the earth’s energy.  Over the centuries, roads, paths, monuments and more have been aligned along these ley lines by groups who are either aware of their location, or by a sheer mystical force that draws people to these spots.

The St Michael line runs from St Michaels Mount in Cornwall all the way up to Hopton in Norfolk, 

Hopton, Norfolk
passing right through some of the country’s most mystical places such as Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Avebury.  It even passes through my daughter's favourite place in the world; St Nectan's Glen.  I have never been there, but she has been a few times and Mr Thrifty went last spring. It is a place I need to visit too. There is another line, a few miles to the north called the St Mary Line which weaves its way to St Michael's Mount criss-crossing the St Michael Line.

St Michael's Mount, Cornwall

My dream is to walk this ley line. I want to raise money for Hearing Dogs who placed the amazing Zena with me (my life-changing Hearing Dog). Now I may be over-weight and unfit right now, but I believe that I will do this and Mr Thrifty is going to do it with me...... and Zena. My hero, Satish Kumar, has walked a heck of a lot further than this! When Satish walks he takes no money with him and relies on the hospitality of strangers. He did this on his first epic walk from India to America, taking peace tea in the 60s to Russia, France, England and America (the nuclear super powers). I can't even imagine this as a possibility. I can't get my head around the logistics - how? when? etc. etc., but the seed is there and my dream is growing. I firmly believe that if the universe intends this to happen, a way will emerge...........

So that's my dream.

Do you have a dream? I'd love to hear it...

Love Mrs Thrifty

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Spring means Rabbits

Good Morning Lovely Readers

Yes, rabbits (or hares) and  I absolutely do not mean the ones that Gomez insists on extracting from the woods and presenting to us. We seem to have a burrow beneath our lawn (meadow) which isn't great for a cat-owning family - at least not for the rabbits. Rather, have you visited this website yet?

I am lusting after one of Stephanie's hares! I would post a picture here but Stephanie's photos are quite rightly copyrighted so you will have to visit her to see. As soon as she opens her Etsy shop, I will be in to buy one of these adorable creations. It isn't often I HAVE to have something but I do so want one of these. I collect moon gazing hares and have one in brass and 3 in stone that have all been gifts. I love their link to our pagan heritage.

If you have some time, take a look at Stephanie's talented daughter's blog here:  Although this is in French, you can use the translate button if you need to and I am sure you'll agree that it is a lovely blog. She paints and draws beautifully and I am sure she would appreciate your joining her. 

Tell me, which are your favourite blogs? Do you have crafty blogs that you visit that make you feel excited at someone else's creativity? Do you visit blogs that you want other people to know about? Please do share them!

Have a wonderful day

Love Mrs Thrifty

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Harcombe Diet

Good Evening Lovely Readers

I am blogging over here today and have joined Sue from Our New Life in the Country in her new food blog . We are both trying this diet and she has now completed phase 1. Mr Thrifty and I have done 3 days, so 2 to go and then we can move on to phase 2.

I have lost 7lbs in 2 days. How great is that!

Hope you are all well and enjoying this lovely sunshine (UK readers).

Love Mrs Thrifty 

PS. Thank you for all the lovely comments on my garden post yesterday .... a wild flower meadow seems to be the consensus of opinion!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Not gardening

Good Evening Lovely Readers

Isn't this weather glorious! Everyone seems to be outside enjoying the sunshine, tending to their gardens. Except us that is. My mission this evening is to make you feel better if you are one of the people who haven't yet tackled their gardens yet this year. We recently had weeks and weeks of rain. Far more than usual for this time of year. When we could finally get outside, we discovered that our mower had broken. So, just for you, in glorious technicolour.... is our English jungle....

 Gomez the tour guide
 I did plant a tub..
 .... and into the wilderness...
 ... last year's vegetable plot..

 In places the grass is as high as Zena!

 The brambles are back..

And we are back to the start Folks. 
And here you have the contrast between our front garden and our neighbour's garden!!!

I think we need to try and find a lawn mower repairer this week.

Feeling better?

Have a good one.

Love Mrs Thrifty

Saturday, 26 May 2012

The Harcombe Diet

Good Evening Lovely Readers and a very warm welcome to new followers Shari, Katie Booty, Don't Unplug Your Hub and Claire at Thriftwood - thank you all for joining me.

I have started another blog charting my trials and tribulations with the Harcombe Diet which Sue at Our New Life in the Country is doing. This is the link for her diet/food blog

I read her blog and felt inspired to give it a go... what can I lose (well, weight hopefully!). This is where I am charting my progress.

Have had a busy day at school clearing my space, so no time for crafting. How are you spending your wonderful weekend?

Love Mrs Thrifty

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Lazy Spring Evenings

Good Evening Lovely Readers and the hugest of welcomes to new followers, Lunaisobel, Lexie b, Connie, Connie (yes there are two Connies) and Sue Marie - thank you for joining me. If you have blogs that aren't showing up please do let me know so that I can pop along a have a look. 

I received some wonderful advice and help from my lovely readers on my patch-working. Thank you all so much. I pulled a bit of a coup today .... I recently gave all our old paint to the tech department at school and so today I asked the tech teacher for a favour and he delivered. He made me a 5" acetate square. So with my rotary cutter and board, I can now cut 5" squares quickly. Hurrah!!!

Don't miss the give-aways at the side of my blog. Just click on the picture to take you to the correct give-away. I have just added Carla's and if you haven't seen Carla's beautiful creations you should pop over and have a look - they are divine!

Isn't this weather divine!  This is what we did when I got home after work today ..... 

Isn't it wonderful that the evenings are lighter now!

The vegetation has benefited from all the rain we have had...

One happy dog...

nosing around ...

 All is well..
 time to stroll..
 gently down English country lanes ...
 The only sound, a train passing ...
 ... chase a ball...

 Time to stand ...
 and stare...
 to enjoy the blessings of nature...

I feel blessed.

How are you spending your warm, barmy evenings? 

Love Mrs Thrifty

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Quilting Crazy

Good Morning Lovely Readers

Well I did it! I finally did it! You see I feel I should explain that I have been wanting to quilt for as long as I can remember and in Blogland I see all these adorable quilts (the amazing Debbie over at Nanny's Place or Frugal Queen or Carla at who pieces together beautiful things) and I was just too scared to try. I am a perfectionist and I will procrastinate rather than get something wrong. Anyway, when Debbie posted yet another of her quilts this week I thought I would just have to give it a go. I sew, I knit, I crochet (now), I can cross-stitch and am happy doing most handicrafts but I could never quite get my head around quilting.

My first attempt at the beginning of the week saw me sitting at the kitchen table with a lot of old shirts cutting madly. It took me 3 hours to cut about 15 perfect squares .....and I got bored. Surely it can't take that long..... or rather, it shouldn't. I mean to say, you need over 100 for a quilt??? Come on you quilters, tell me the secret, how do you cut your pieces? 

So I looked on eBay and I spent some money...........

I discovered charm packs and bought these. The brights are earmarked for a kid's quilt and the faded ones for a quilt for Mr Thrifty and I. I havebeen wanting to do this for as long as we have been together (almost 28 years).  I paid about £9.50 for each of these and have already worked out that they are a lot cheaper in the US and Canada, so I shall be stocking up when I go to Canada in a couple of weeks...

As soon as they arrived in the mail I spread the brights on the lounge floor and started stitching and  ta da.....

Now there are some tiny mistakes but I can live with that and they won't affect the final quilt. As you can see this isn't yet big enough for a single bed, so I have to work out what to do next. All suggestions gratefully received. I thought about putting a plain border all the way round and then adding some more squares ... would that work?

I am very giddy ....... and of course I still love crochet - I am already thinking about the Mojo that Stocki posted and anyway, I would struggle to crochet in the car... please don't panic, I only crochet when Mr Thrifty is driving...

Have a wonderful day

Love Mrs Thrifty

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

In Love with France

Good Evening Lovely Readers

This morning The Smiths wrote a lovely post about their experiences in France and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. They reminded me of my trip to the Dordogne last summer with Mr Thrifty. As a French teacher I was lucky enough to be given a British Council grant for an immersion course to refresh my language, but we managed to have a great holiday too - how's that for frugal living? We paid for hotel (cheap ones) stays for a couple of days either side of the course and drove down to the Dordogne very slowly. It was delightful. This is an area that I didn't know although it is apparently extremely popular with the British.

The trip included lots of cultural excursions including the famous caves at Lascaux with their amazing paintings showing evidence of prehistoric settlements:

You can find a history here if you would like to know more:

More recently (relatively speaking of course), the Celts moved across France and reached this area about 2500 years ago. They were much more sophisticated than the inhabitants at that time; skilled at metalworking, and they developed trade routes across France and Europe. They created the first cities, including the city that is now Perigueux.

The life of the Celts  (Gauls as they were then known)  was disrupted by the arrival of the Romans. In 56 BC, they moved into the Dordogne under Publius Crassus, a lieutenant of Caesar, and rapidly conquered the Gauls.

In AD 16 Aquitaine was born, as Aquitania, covering a large part of South West France. The fertile land rapidly attracted new Roman settlers, who brought more advanced agricultural techniques to the region, and constructed sophisticated towns and cities.

The Romans also brought their language and culture to the Dordogne, and introduced the first vines to the region. The wine growing flourishes today with some of France's most famous wines coming from the area - we were more than happy to taste them whilst we were there - in the spirit of cultural discovery of course. It is also an area rich in culinary delights.

Constant attacks on all fronts weakened the Roman empire, and these intensified after about 300 years of occupation. Various tribes from eastern europe invaded the region, constantly attempting to take the fertile lands from the Roman occupiers. The Vandals and Visigoths were the most successful at displacing the Romans. Many of the fine villas and towns that had been established were destroyed, and new towns started to be developed with defensive walls and fortifications. There are many examples of fortified towns to be seen in the Dordogne region. The pictures below and right are Sarlat, a charming town which we wandered around one evening watching street performers and sampling local delicacies.

The Vandals and Visigoths had a short lived victory, because by the beginning of the 6th century they too were defeated by the Francs. The Moors from the south were soon to follow, and took control of the area in the eighth century, before being themselves defeated. This was a tumultuous time of change in the Dordogne region of France, with Charlemagne expanding the boundaries further. The Vikings then invaded from the north during the 10th century, burning villages and destroying everything else in their path as they moved along the Dordogne and Isle rivers.

The Vikings too were eventually repelled. As part of the repulsion of the Vikings, four ‘baronies’ were established – Beynac, Biron, Mareuil and Bourdeilles. This provided the backdrop for much of what happened in the region over the following centuries, with powerful central families controlling much of the Dordogne.

During the Middle Ages, Eleanor of Aquitaine was next to cause problems in the area. She inherited much of Aquitaine, and married the King of France, Louis VII. But this marriage was annulled after 15 years, and Eleanor married Henry Plantagenet. Henry then became king of England, and a large part of France thus fell under English rule. Not surprisingly this caused some tensions! The problem was to cause rivalries that lasted hundreds of years. The problem was compounded when Eleanor and Henry had a troublesome son – Richard the Lionheart. When King Henry died, Richard inherited the throne of England and all its French lands.

In 1328, following the deaths of the 3 sons of Philippe le Bel, the French selected Philippe Count of Valois to be king, in place of Edward III. Edward III was the king of England and was also the nephew of the deceased French king.

Later, things got worse still, and in 1337 Philippe VI ordered that the lands of Aquitaine be taken from the English. In 1340 Edward III declared himself King of France. Thus the Hundred Years War began. During the Hundred Years war there were numerous ‘famous’ battles including the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The war was all but lost for the French, and it was agreed that Henry V was the heir to the French throne. But then Henry V died unexpectedly, leaving only a baby as his heir.

Soon after the young Joan of Arc appeared on the scene and remotivated the French king – now Charles VII – and his armies. It was in 1451 at the Battle of Castillon the English were finally defeated (a battle now spectacularly recreated each year for the enjoyment of tourists).

The 16th century saw further troubles, with numerous sieges, battles and unlimited cruelty during the Religious Wars (between the catholics and the protestants) that ravaged the region. Several massacres of entire towns took place, and much of the earlier heritage of the Dordogne was destroyed.  It was only in 1598, when the Edict of Nantes granted certain freedoms to the protestants, that the battles came to an end.

The 17th and 18th Centuries were hard times. Centuries of battles weakened the region, the Black death was rampant, and there were many years in which the harvests were poor. Food shortages, price rises and falling wages all made life very difficult for the poor, while the rich appeared to get ever richer, based in part on a series of unpopular taxes. Meanwhile the region experienced enormous population growth, further compounding the problems.  It is hard to imagine the desperation of a people who can simply see no escape from the terrible poverty, the high mortality rate and the daily struggle to survive. The final straw was the imposition of a heavy salt tax on the region, and many people were living in constant destitution, virtually enslaved to the landowners and state.

This poverty also encouraged bands of ‘pirates’ to cross the countryside, pillaging villages as they went. The villagers were especially aggrieved that the landowners, despite receiving large amounts of tax, were unable to prevent these attacks.  This was more than could be tolerated and in 1594 there was a peasant revolt, touching much of the region between Bergerac and Sarlat.

A small victory was obtained, with a slight lifting of the taxes, but the victory was short-lived and for many years there were frequent uprisings against the landowners, almost always met with excessive force and reprisals. The revolts usually pitted peasants armed with pitchforks and agricultural implements against much better armed forces, so the outcome was not surprising.  These uprisings continued more or less sporadically until the time of the French Revolution in 1789.  

So you see, an area rich in history and pre-history and overflowing with French culture. It is well worth a visit. I particularly enjoyed a trip to the village of  Beynac-et-Cazenac where some of the scenes from one of my all time favourite films were shot:

Beynac-et-Cazenac is utterly charming and I was spell-bound.

The trailer from Chocolat shows Juliette Binoche walking up the road of the town at the beginning of the film:

....which reminds me, I still have my Secret Sister chocolate to enjoy - thank you Justine.

Love Mrs Thrifty