Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A Public Service Announcement

Dear Blogging Friends, 

Terry went into hospital last Monday for a fairly routine operation which turned out to be rather more complicated than expected. He is back at home and on the mend, so I hope to be blogging and visiting you all next week. Barbara xx

In the meantime a few pics from our garden;






I do like the look of the statue disappearing into the ivy, but it also shows it really is time I started sorting the garden. Maybe next week … or the week after!  


Monday, 13 March 2017

Five Go Off to Camp

Five go off to camp Enid Blyton

I first encountered these stories more than sixty years ago and have revisited them many times since. This time I’m reading Five Go Off to Camp as part of the Birth Year Reading Challenge 2017. 

The Famous Five - Julian, Dick, George (Georgina), Anne and Timmy the dog have entertained countless children over the years. Their exploits began in Five on a Treasure Island in 1942 and continued through twenty one full-length adventures and numerous short stories.

With a plentiful supply of ginger-beer, the Famous Five have outwitted thieves and smugglers, explored castles, caves and secret passages and even discovered hidden treasure.

In this story, they find themselves on the trail of a ghost train... 


On a camping trip with an absent-minded school teacher the five are left to roam the
Five go off to camp Enid Blyton Spook trains
Spook trains? Whatever are they asked Jock.
moors more or less unsupervised. The holiday has hardly begun when the friends stumble across an abandoned railway yard looked after by an old watchman by the name of Wooden Leg Sam. It’s Sam who tells them about the 'Spook Trains' which haunt the rails and tunnels in the dead of night.

Close to the rail yard is a farm where the five buy bread, milk and countless other goodies.  It’s not long before they make friends with a boy named Jock, who lives on the farm with his mother and stepfather. Jock and his mother know nothing about the trains but when Jock’s stepfather overhears them talking, he becomes agitated telling them to stay away from the tunnels, or they might "never come back"  

Naturally, staying away is the last thing they intend to do and a few nights later Julian, Dick and Jock make their way to the yard. In daylight, none of them really believe there are 'Spook Trains' but as the sun sinks and long shadows start creeping across the hills they are not so sure.

Enid Blyton Five go off to camp
Look at that, old derelict lines said Julian
Finding nothing of interest in the darkened yard, they follow the line towards the tunnels, and its then things begin to happen. First, a far-off rumbling noise issues from the tunnel, followed by a loud clanking. Its darker than night in the tunnel and by now the boys are clutching one another fearful of what is about to happen. They don’t have long to wait as the noise grows thunderous and out from the tunnel comes something huge and black, which passes quickly and is gone...


Should the children follow the tracks into the tunnel, and if they do will they solve the mystery? Are they dealing with ghost trains or something else entirely?

As a child I wanted to be one of the Famous Five. Who wouldn’t want to be out on the moors with a teacher who is more interested in insects than his young charges?  That kind of freedom almost guarantees another adventure, which is of course exactly what the author intended!

A lot of the language is old fashioned, but I have no problem with that. Sadly, I was always ten steps ahead of the plot, but that is only to be expected considering the number of times I’ve read it. How I wish I could travel back in time and read it again as if for the first time.

Enid Blyton once described herself as a reporter, an interpreter and the viewer of a private cinema screen inside her head. This might go some way toward explaining her vast outpouring of words. Many people complain her books are formulaic and of course that’s true, but it could be why children find them so appealing. Her adventure stories are exciting from beginning to end thus ensuring lots of children (including me) continued to read long after their bedtime. I was forever promising my parents I would turn the light off as soon as I finished the chapter. Which of course I did, but it didn’t stop me hiding the book under the covers and reading by torchlight.







Enid Blyton
Five Go Off to Camp
1st Edition
Published August, 1948 (the month and year of my birth)
Hardback with Dust Jacket
192 Pages









Enid Blyton intended to finish the series with book six (Five on Kirrin Island Again) but with her readers begging for more she obliged by writing another fifteen adventures.  Here they are in date order. 

Five On a Treasure Island (1942)
Five Go Adventuring Again (1943)
Five Run Away Together (1944)
Five Go To Smuggler's Top (1945)
Five Go Off in a Caravan (1946)
Five On Kirrin Island Again (1947)
Five Go Off to Camp (1948)
Five Get Into Trouble (1949)
Five Fall Into Adventure (1950)
Five On a Hike Together (1951)
Five Have a Wonderful Time (1952)
Five Go Down to the Sea (1953)
Five Go to Mystery Moor (1954)
Five Have Plenty of Fun (1955)
Five On a Secret Trail (1956)
Five Go to Billycock Hill (1957)
Five Get Into a Fix (1958)
Five on Finniston Farm (1960)
Five Go to Demon's Rocks (1961)
Five Have a Mystery to Solve (1962)
Five Are Together Again (1963)



I had masses of freedom when I was growing up, but I also had to abide by a set of rules as stipulated by my parents. It seems to me different rules apply in stories created by Enid Blyton, actually there are no rules, which is why I love them so.

Did you have the freedom to roam when you were growing up or was life very different for you?


Monday, 6 March 2017

New Bodleian Children’s books for spring 2017

Today I’m pleased to tell you about two new nostalgic books coming soon from Bodleian Children’s Books. The March Wind illustrated by Vladimir Bobri is a personal long time favourite of mine while The Rain Puddle with illustrations by the wonderful Roger Duvoisin can’t fail to win a place in all our hearts.

Bodleian Children’s Books

Do you remember those wonderful childhood days when everything was magical?  Those days when an ordinary household rug became a flying carpet, and an old coat found at the bottom of a dressing up box had the power to transform you into a completely different person. That’s what happens to the little boy in The March Wind.

INEZ RICE  The March Wind

Coming across a large black hat lying in the street he tries it on and becomes a whole host of different characters: a cowboy galloping on a magnificent steed, a circus ringleader thrilling the crowd, a soldier marching through puddles. But then the owner of the hat returns and the boy finds himself face to face with the March Wind. Is it part of his imagination, or is something bigger happening?

INEZ RICE  The March Wind



INEZ RICE  The March Wind

INEZ RICE was an American children’s author who also wrote A Tree This Tall.

VLADIMIR BOBRI was an author, illustrator and artist, celebrated for his design work. From the 1940s he began to illustrate children’s books, a number of which have now become classics.

The March Wind
Fully Illustrated Hardback
Available March 2017
Bodleian Children’s Books
9781851244614
Originally published in 1957





The Rain Puddle:   This wonderfully funny book first published in 1965 is perfect for reading aloud. A quiet day on the farm becomes anything but quiet when a plump hen happens upon a rain puddle. Seeing her own reflection in the puddle she becomes convinced another hen has fallen in.

ROGER DUVOISIN the rain puddle


 One by one all the farm animals come to peer into the puddle but just who has fallen in?  Is it a plump hen, a turkey, a sheep, a cow or a beautiful pig?  When all the animals peer into the puddle at the same time, they discover an entire farmyard underwater.  And what does wise old owl do during all this excitement? He sits in his tree and chuckles!

ROGER DUVOISIN the rain puddle


The Rain Puddle Fully Illustrated Hardback Available March 2017 Bodleian Children’s Books
ADELAIDE HOLL is a well-known writer and illustrator of over forty children’s books. 

ROGER DUVOISIN was a renowned Swiss-born American author-illustrator who created the Happy Lion and Petunia series of picture books, along with more than forty other titles for children. He was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1947.

The Rain Puddle
Fully Illustrated Hardback
Available March 2017
Bodleian Children’s Books
9781851244690


The Bodleian Library 

Founded in 1602, the Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Britain and the largest university library in Europe. With over 12 million items and outstanding collections, the Bodleian draws readers from every continent and continues to inspire generations of researchers who flock to its reading rooms as well as the wider public who enjoy its exhibitions, displays, public lectures and other events.

Bodleian Library Publishing produces beautiful and authoritative books, which help to bring the riches of Oxford’s libraries to readers around the world. All profits are returned to the Bodleian to help support the Library’s work in curating, conserving and collecting its rich archives and helping to maintain the Bodleian’s position as one of the pre-eminent libraries in the world.

Visit this previous post to view other Bodleian Children’s Books and to see the photographs I took on a visit to Oxford in 2015.

Disclaimer: I received no financial compensation for writing this post and have no material connection to the brand or products mentioned. 

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Home & Companion and Family Journal: March 21st, 1953

Home & Companion Magazine March 21st, 1953. In Vintage Magazines
Home & Companion and Family Journal March 1953.

Given the choice, I would always pick books over magazines but just now and again a vintage periodical catches my attention. I could hardly fail to notice this one considering the size and colour of the headline. My first thought was I wonder who Gilbert Harding is quickly followed by, and I wonder what he has to say about Woman. The answer is nothing very good.   

He begins by saying: 
Gilbert Harding
Gilbert Harding

The first thing that no man likes about a woman is what no man likes about another man – a tendency to be bossy, to have a fatal inclination to be always in the right, and a constitutional inability to apologise. On the other hand, one might say at the other end of the scale, is the goo-goo clinging type who always wants someone else to make up her mind for her; that is, if she has a mind to be made up.

Those are two extremes, and if there weren’t plenty of admirable women in the middle we should have ceased to exist long ago. But even among those who are neither too bossy nor too helpless there are faults and failings, which make their society unrewarding and their appearance unsatisfactory. Why do so many women disfigure their hands by painting their nails bright red as though they were assistants in a post-mortem room? It has always been a mystery to me why women with beautiful hands are not just content with clean nails. When the paint begins to wear off and the nails are dirty! I need say no more. 

Please don’t!  

I have never understood why it is necessary for women to paint their lips. The lipstick they apply makes the cigarette ends, which they persist in smoking, repulsive and daubs the rims of the cups out of which they drink, and the glasses, too. These nasty cosmetic habits are bad enough, but when done in public they become outrageous.


Home & Companion Magazine March 21st, 1953. In Vintage Magazines

Tiring of the subject of appearance, he turns to education:

I regret and resent the presence of women in men’s Universities, particularly those of Cambridge and of Oxford. Now what made women ever want to go to either of them? The only explanation is that they know they are in the majority, and that some of them must remain “on the shelf.” Therefore, the cry is: “Catch your man young, before his defences are up.” In fact, they go to the Universities, not primarily in search of learning, but to get husbands from among the young male undergraduates. Why should they screech, and hiss round the calm courts and quads of Cambridge and Oxford making themselves look ridiculous in academic dress, which was designed by men for men. I don’t think women have any idea how silly they look in mortar boards

Home & Companion Magazine March 21st, 1953. In Vintage Magazines


Having had so much to say he ends the article by lamenting his lack of a wife! 

Although it is now too late to change it, I have never been really happy about being a bachelor. But I do think that if, when I was younger, I had had the good fortune to meet an unpainted lady with clean hands who did not talk with a cigarette in her mouth (and who did not want to be a judge or a governor-general, a bishop or a doctor), things might have been different. Let it be clearly understood that no one with a mother like mine could ever be a woman hater, and after all, I am only saying what I don’t like about women. The things that I do like would call for a whole issue of the magazine itself.

Those women (and there are so many of them) who can cook, can listen, can understand and do things without being asked – and very often without being thanked – are, after all, still in the majority. So if you have been made angry by what has gone before, put yourself in this latter bracket and we can all purr together like old cats. 

According to Wikipedia Harding was notorious for his irascibility and was at one time characterised in the tabloid press as the rudest man in Britain. His fame sprang from an inability to suffer fools gladly, and many 1950s TV viewers watched What’s My Line? less for the quiz elements than for the chance of a live Harding outburst. An incident on an early broadcast started this trend when Harding became annoyed with a rather self-satisfied contestant. He broke the genteel civility of 1950s BBC Television by telling the contestant that he was getting bored with him. The tabloids lapped this up, and the show became compulsive viewing.

I’m sure you will have an opinion on Mr. Harding’s views so please go ahead and tell me what you think.  


If you are interested in vintage magazines you might like these previous posts; 
Lilliput Magazines


Lucy from Loose and Leafy left a comment with a link to a fascinating article, in case you miss it this is the link Gilbert Harding and another interesting link shared by Willie TV star famed for rudeness dies

Monday, 20 February 2017

Vintage Books from my Bookshelf: The High Hills a Brambly Hedge Story

Brambly Hedge is on the other side of the stream, across the field. If you can find it, and if you look very hard amongst the tangled roots and stems, you may even see a wisp of smoke from a small chimney, or through an open door, a steep flight of stairs deep within the trunk of a tree. For this is the home of the mice of Brambly Hedge.

The High Hills Jill Barklem

It was the end of autumn, and the Voles in the High Hills were busy preparing for winter.  Gathering supplies in rocky terrain is no easy job and when they find their winter quilts eaten by moths, it’s the last straw. When Mr. Apple down in Brambly Hedge hears of their plight, he mounts a relief operation, and soon the weavers get busy making new blankets. Mr. Apple and a small party of mice plan to deliver the blankets before the really cold weather sets in, but when Wilfred Toadflax hears about it, he is eager to go along.  Wilfred is convinced there’s gold to be found in the High Hills, and he intends to be the one to discover it.

Lily and Flax were already hard at work

Lily and Flax were already hard at work when Wilfred arrived.
"Can I help Too?" asked Wilfred.  "That's kind of you, but not
just now," said Lily. "Why don't you find yourself a book?"
Wilfred went over to the bookcase. On a shelf, tucked between 
volumes on dye stuffs and weaves, he found a thick book 
called Daring Explores of Old Hedge Days. 

Wilfred sat entranced. The whirr of the spinning wheel
became the swish of eagles' wings, the clatter of the loom,
the sound of falling rock, and the drops of rain on window,
jewels from some forgotten cave. Could there be gold
in the hills beyond Brambly Hedge, he wondered.


The first part of the journey was easy.
Along the hedge, past Crabapple Cottage,
the Store Stump and Old Oak Palace. 


They walked through the  afternoon.By tea-time, it was
getting dark and cold. At last they saw a tiny light shining from
beneath an old hawthorn tree.  "Here we are," said
Mr. Apple. "Knock on the door, Wilfred". 



The following morning Wilfred begged to explore. 
Flax and Lily had to get back to work, but Mr. Apple
agreed he and Wilfred could stay a while. 


Mr. Apple watched as Wilfred pulled himself
up onto a narrow ledge and began scraping at the
rocks. "Don't be silly, Wilfred.  That's not gold.
Comedown at once." But Wilfred was stuck.
"Wait there" said Mr. Apple as he began to climb
the steep rocks.  The ledge was narrow and now an 
ominous mist was rising from the valley.


Mr. Apple was worried; he had no idea where they were,
and it looked as though they might have to spend the night
on the mountain. The next morning they were woken by the
sun shining. "It's a beautiful day," called Wilfred, peering
over the ledge, "and I can see a path down the mountain."




Soon Wilfred and Mr. Apple were back at home.
As Wilfred was telling them all about their adventures
Primrose Woodmouse asked if they found any gold.
 "No, only this silly old dust," said Wilfred. Flex and
Lily gasped. "Wilfred!" That's not dust. That's ....


The High Hills a Brambly Hedge Story by Jill Barklem Published by Collins in 1986.

One of a series of books recounting the adventures of the mice of Brambly Hedge. Others are The Secret Staircase, Spring, Summer, Sea Story, Autumn, Winter and Poppy’s Babies.


I love the illustrations in these books.  Do you like them? Have you read any of the stories?

Monday, 13 February 2017

All You Need is Love


Image Pinterest


Image Pinterest


Don't forget you still have time to spread the love ...


Get the details here

We sent Valentine cards to our grandsons when they were small, now it’s the turn of our granddaughters, only this year we sent books as well. It’s very easy to spread the joy of reading. A book left in a waiting room, a surprise in the post. It doesn’t take much. My Godmother never failed to send a book on my birthday and at Christmas, some were way beyond my reading ability but if anything it encouraged me to try harder. My dad also loved books and he and I enjoyed nothing more than browsing second-hand bookshops. Now it’s my turn to spread the love.

Speaking of love and grandchildren it must be time for an update. Our granddaughter Zoe was six in January and is already into her second school year. Her little sister Lilly doesn't start school until January 2018, but in the meantime she is loving kindergarten. As most of you know our son, daughter-in-law, and two little granddaughters live in Australia, while our two grandsons are in England. I recently shared some photographs of our grandsons, and today I'm sharing a few of our granddaughters. I hope you enjoy them. 

Zoe Christmas Day 2016 


and on her 6th birthday in January 2017 – can you spot the difference?  


 Lilly at the beach January 2017


and at kindergarten a few days later. 


In case you are wondering this is how her painting turned out.

I’m sure you can guess what it is but to give you a hint the small purple spots are snow, and the larger one is a present. 

Always remember there is enough love in each of our hearts to heal the world. 

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