Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Books from my Bookshelf - Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye

This is the second in a series of books written by Mollie Kaye The first book in the series Potter Pinner Meadow featured in an earlier post which you can read here should you wish.

Black Bramble Wood is a gloomy sort of place, inhabited by all kinds of creatures but none as scary as Mr. Gingertail the fox.  He lives in a house with an extremely large lock on the front door and bars on all the windows. Not that anyone would want to get in! 

Farmer Wraggs (you may recall him from Potter Pinner Meadow) lives very close to the wood, and in a corner of his farmyard lives Mrs. Prudence Pumelow and her nine little piglets. Eight of the piglets are very good, but Perkin the ninth little piglet is very naughty.

One sunny autumn day, when the leaves are turning red and yellow Mrs. Prudence Pumelow sends her children out blackberrying. She gives each of them a small basket, an acid drop to suck, and a warning not go anywhere near Black Bramble Wood... “People who go into the wood don’t always come back!” 

The sun is shining, and the hedges covered with ripe blackberries and soon all the baskets are full. All that is except for the basket belonging to Perkin’s, he picked a great many blackberries but the only thing that was full was his tummy. “Ooooh, Perkin,” said his brothers and sisters, “no blackberry pie for you.” Perkin looked at the hedges, but the remaining blackberries were all out of reach. “I shall go to Black Bramble Wood,” said Perkin Pumeloe “and I shall get more than any of you!” The eight good little pigs were horrified! “You will never come back” they said “pooh," said Perkin before tilting his little black snout in the air, picking up his basket and heading off towards the wood.

By the time Perkin reached the wood the sun was low in the sky and the trees were casting long spiky shadows. The bramble bushes, however, were covered with hundreds of big, ripe, juicy blackberries, and he picked and picked. Going from one bush to another, he failed to notice he was getting deeper and deeper into the wood. When the sun was almost gone Perkin decided it was time to go home, but he had wandered so far into the wood, he had quite lost his way.  Frightened and alone Perkin sat down on a tree root and squealed.

Just then a fox with a large ginger tail came into view. “Dear, dear, have you met with an accident?” he asked. “I've lost my way,” sniffed Perkin “How unfortunate," said the fox.  “My name is Mr. Gingertail.  Perhaps you will allow me to show you the way?”   

Presently, they came to a dwelling under a bank.  “My humble home,” said Mr. Gingertail.  “Come inside for a few moments while I find my muffler, the evening air is rather chilly and we still have a long way to go.” Now it just so happened that a little red squirrel busy gathering acorns for his supper heard Mr. Gingertail and called “Don’t go in there... run!”   Perkin replied, “Shan't” rather rudely and followed Mr. Gingertail into his house.

A little while later Mr. Gingertail came out of the house, locked the door and walked away.  The little red squirrel waited until he was out of sight and then hurried to the house and tapped on one of the heavily barred windows. “Are you all right?” he called.  “Help!” squealed Perkin.  “He says he’s going to f-f-fatten me up to make a p-p-pork pie for his birthday p-p-p-party!” 

The little red squirrel promised to help before hurrying away to look for Professor Fluster-Whuffle. He was sure the professor would be the very person to devise a plan of escape for a captured pig. Professor Fluster-Whuffle declared the matter to be a very simple one. Firstly, remove fox, secondly rescue pig. “It may sound simple," said the squirrel looking rather doubtful. “But how does one remove a fox?” “Ah," said Professor Fluster-Whuffle taking an egg out of his pocket. “This is an old Starling’s egg I found lying about and kept it in case it should come in useful." “The egg if broken would be sure to have a most unpleasant smell, we will drop it down Mr. Gingertail’s chimney, and then we will be quite certain he will leave the house."

The Professors plan may well have worked had the egg not met with an accident before the pair arrived at Mr. Gingertail’s house.  “Now what can we do” asked the squirrel. But then he had an idea “I know” he said, “on the other side of the wood beyond Gold Gorse Common there is a kennel,  we could ask the hounds to chase Mr. Gingertail out of the wood.” “Capital idea" said the Professor. “Now we just need some woodpeckers to peck open the lock.”

News of the rescue plan soon spread, and the trees around Mr. Gingertail’s house became crowded with birds eager to watch.  

Presently, the front door opened and Mr. Gingertail came out carrying a pail. Snarling at the birds he proceeded to the pool to fetch some water. Suddenly, from far away, came the sound of a hunting horn.  Mr. Gingertail dropped the pail and ran as fast as ever he could.


 As soon as Mr. Gingertail disappeared Professor Fluster-Whuffle called “Attention! One! Two! Three! GO!” How those woodpeckers worked!  Chips of wood flew in all directions as they pecked away at the lock, and it wasn't long before it fell to the ground with a loud bang. The door flew open and out rushed Perkin Pumeloe.  Guided by the birds, he dashed through the wood and across the fields, and he didn't stop running until he reached the farmyard.

Mrs. Prudence Pumelow being so pleased to have him safely home quite forgot to scold Perkin for his disobedience.  Nevertheless, from that day on he was the best little piglet in the entire farmyard.

Two things strike me about this story.  Firstly, the mention of a pack of hounds chasing a fox and secondly the good pigs portrayed as pink while the naughty pig is very definitely black.  I have a feeling this might be considered politically incorrect by today’s standards. What do you think?

M.M. Kaye, (born Aug. 21, 1908, Simla, India—died Jan. 29, 2004, Lavenham, Suffolk, Eng.), British writer and illustrator who captured life in India and Afghanistan during the Raj in her immensely popular novel The Far Pavilions (1978). The daughter of a British civil servant working in India, Kaye spent her early childhood there. She was sent to boarding school in England at age 10. After graduating from art school in England, she found work as an illustrator and soon began to write. She married a British army officer in 1945. Before achieving worldwide success with The Far Pavilions she wrote a number of children’s books (as Mollie Kaye), several detective and historical novels and three volumes of autobiography. [Encyclopaedia Britannica.]  The illustrations in Black Bramble Wood are all by Margaret Tempest.

Thanks for your visit...

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Sew in Love with Vintage Sewing Patterns

I haven’t done any dressmaking for a long time, and I don’t suppose I will start again any time soon, but that didn't deter me from buying these. I saw them in a charity shop priced at £2.50 ($3.58US) for the four, and it was love at first sight. I've seen patterns for sale at vintage markets, but they can be quite pricey, and I've always felt I needed to know more about them before splashing out. However, these were so inexpensive I figured it was a good way to start a collection.  

Home economics was mandatory when I was at school, one week we cooked and the following week we sewed. I much preferred the sewing and continued to make my own clothes throughout my teens and early twenties.

There is something very satisfying about opening a pattern, pinning it to the fabric and watching as a new creation slowly takes shape. Mini dresses were easy and fun to make. Fitting zips was the most difficult bit, especially as all my sewing was done by hand. Mum had an ‘old fashioned’ sewing machine, but it and I never got on.

This is something completely new in the collecting line for me so I've been doing a little online browsing and found a super website called Vintage Stitching if you are into sewing or collecting patterns, you might like it too. 

I have a lot to learn, but I'm eager to start collecting and these are at the very top of my ‘want’ list…


I also like some of the menswear ones like these sharp suits

and these bell-bottom slacks.

There is an interesting article at Collector’s Weekly for anyone wanting to find out more about vintage patterns. You might also like this blog post from Melly Sews; That pattern cost how much?

Thanks for your visit, your comments are always welcome. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Oliver Herford's Book of Animals - Part Two

A second helping as promised…

The Tortoise is, to say the Least,
A very Contradictory Beast.
Though he may walk the wide world o'er
He cannot step outside his Door.
The Slowest Creature 'neath the Sun
He's Noted for a Race he Won.
Ignoblest of Created Things
His Shield has Many Quarterings,
and Lastly, though Devoid of Hair
His Combs are Famous Everywhere.

This noble Beast - But, why discourse 
Upon the Virtues of the Horse?
They are too numerous to tell
Save when you have a Horse to Sell.
No Beast has done so much as He
To elevate Society.
How could Society Get on
(Or off), my child, if He were gone?
We owe him Much, yet who can say
He ever asked us to Repay?
Ah, Child! How Bright the World would be,
If Creditors were All as He. 

Oh, shun the Crocodile, my child;
He is not Tractable and mild,
Nor like the Dog, the Friend of Man.
He's built upon a Different Plan,
He is not Diffident or Shy,
He will not shrink whey you say "Fie!"
and though he's said Sometimes to Cry,
Be not Responsive to his Wail,
Nor Pat him if he wag his Tail.
This Picture's true to Every Line
Except the Smile. (The Smile is mine.)

This Pleasing Bird, I grieve to own
Is now Extinct. His Soul has Flown
To Parts Unknown, beyond the Styx
To Join the Archoeopteryx.
What Strange, Inexplicable Whim
Of Fate, was it to banish him?
When Every Day the numbers swell
Of Creatures we could spare so well:
Insects that Bite, and snakes that sting,
and many another Noxious Thing.
All these, my Child, had I my Say,
Should be Extinct this very Day.
Then would I send a Special Train
To bring the Do-do back again.

The Devil fish, or Octopus,
Has often been Held Up to us
To typify the Greedy Lusts
Of Grasping Syndicates and Trusts.
This Picture (from an Early print)
Gives us, if true, a Fearful Hint
Of his Great Size, and throws some Light
On his tremendous Appetite.
But let us, Child, whate'er we do,
Give the poor Devil fish his Due!
The Picture, I forgot to say,
Is Quite Untrue in every way.
The Moral's Plain as Plain can be:
Don't believe Everything you See. 

Oliver Herford’s Book of Animals
With pictures by the Author.
Published by Bickers & Son, London, 1906.

This one hundred and ten year old book is not in the best of condition. It has been used and enjoyed over the years, and that is what gives it its character. If you would like to know more about Oliver Herford, please see last weeks post here.

Could this be the 'early print' referred to in the Octopus poem?

*Pierre Dénys de Montfort , 1810

Thanks for calling in, have a great week.

*Pierre Dénys de Montfort  was a French naturalist, remembered for his pioneering inquiries into the existence of the gigantic octopus. Wikipedia 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Oliver Herford's Book of Animals - The Dachshund!

I can’t resist giving you a sneak peak inside this recently found book. I will be sharing more pictures soon. In the meantime, please enjoy the four parts of a lackadaisical Dachshund!

The Dachshund is the longest dog in the whole canine catalogue.
He is so long -
to show him here he must in Serial Parts appear.
This is Part One - observe his air of lack-a-daisi-cal despair.

I fear he finds it does not pay...

To wag a tail so far away!

Oliver Herford
Oliver Brooke Herford was born in Sheffield, England on December 2, 1860 (not 1863, as is widely stated) to Rev. Brooke Herford and Hannah Hankinson Herford. Oliver's father, Brooke, was a Unitarian minister who moved the family to Chicago, IL in 1876 and to Boston, MA in 1882. Oliver attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH from 1877 to 1879. Later he studied art at the Slade School in London and the Academie Julien in Paris. Afterward, he moved to New York, where he lived until his death. Herford's cartoons and humorous verse appeared in journals such as Life, Woman's Home Companion, Century Magazine, Harper's Weekly, The Masses and Punch. Over 30 books illustrated by Herford, and frequently written by him as well, were published from the 1890s to the 1930s. He also wrote plays and was known for his humorous and pithy bon mots. Herford was a longtime member of the Player's Club in New York City. He married Margaret Regan in New York on May 26, 1904. Herford died on July 5, 1935 and his wife died the following December. [Source OhioLinkFindingAidRepository]

More pictures from Oliver Herford's Book of Animals coming soon…


If you go down to the woods today… 

The trees are in bud, and the woods are carpeted with anemones, wild garlic and bluebells. 

Pamphill a village near Wimborne, is a hive of activity in April and May. People flock to this small corner of England to enjoy some of the best displays of bluebells in Dorset. 

Last year we visited on a bright sunny day when the woods were alive with the sound of – people. This year we went on a dark, rainy day and had the place almost to ourselves. We got wet and we got muddy, but we wouldn't have missed it for the world.  

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Fairy Tales of Perrault Illustrated by Harry Clarke

My bookshelves are lucky enough to hold a scarce dust jacketed copy of this beautiful book.  At time of writing, there is only one comparable copy (with the very scarce jacket) advertised on-line at a price which makes my eyes water!  Not wishing to make your eyes water I thought it would be a nice idea to share some of the beautiful images with you.

The Fairy Tales of Perrault with pictures by Harry Clarke (1889-1931), published by Harrap in 1922.

"He brought them home by the very same way they came"

"Fanny would rather be fair in drugget than be a queen with an ugly face"

I’m rather puzzled by the use of the word drugget in the above quote.  My understanding of drugget is a wool or partly wool fabric formerly used for clothing or a coarse cloth used as a floor covering or a cotton and wool rug. French droguet, diminutive of drogue trash.

I think it must imply that Fanny (rather an unfortunate name) would rather be fair and dressed in rags than ugly and dressed in finery.  Is that how you read it?

"Am I come hither to serve you with water, pray?" 

"The marquis gave his hand to the princess"

"He asked her whither she was going" 

"Away she drove, scarce able to contain herself for you" (Detail from)

"Any one but Cinderilla (Cinderella) would have dressed their heads awry" 

"Little Thumb was as good as his word, and returned that same night with the news"

"Riquet with the tuft appeared to her the finest prince upon earth"

"This man had the misfortune to have a blue beard"

Blue Beard

Thanks for calling in I hope your week is going well...
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