Monday, 28 September 2015

Coming Soon - A wonderful wordless Christmas book

My sweet friend Nicole sent along this YouTube video of her new Christmas book.

Please turn up your sound and enjoy. 

The first snowflakes flutter down and over a village shines a bright star. 

In this charming Christmas story, the birds and animals look for decorations to adorn a huge pine tree.

Sure to become a Christmas classic.  Kerstmis will be available on Amazon soon – please visit this linkAlternatively, you can reserve a copy at Libris.  The music accompanying the video was composed by Nicole’s husband Martin and is available to download from iTunes

The Bout en Moertje (Nut and Bolt) ABC will also be available soon. This comes in a good quality box with 26 loose letter cards and a booklet.  You may remember Bout en Moertje (Nut and Bolt) from a previous post here, and you can read more about Nicole here.

Available from Amazon in early October.

Thank you so much everybody for your lovely comments, it really means a lot to me. As an illustrator/author, you work on your own and live in your stories. I love the animals as if they were my own. Nicole. 

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

Christmas is arriving early this year. Our Australian family are visiting at the beginning of December and staying with us until the middle of January. Terry and I can’t wait to spend time with these two gorgeous little girls (our granddaughters) and their mummy and daddy.

We are already busy shopping and preparing.  How about you, do you like to buy presents early or do you prefer to wait until Christmas Eve? 

Monday, 21 September 2015

To talk of many things – a second letter from Julie

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a lady by the name of Julie Drew.  It turns out Julie and I have much in common, a love of books and dogs being just one of our shared interests. Since then we've communicated several times, and I'm very happy to say Julie has now agreed to share some of her thoughts here.  Over to you Julie;


I have made so many truly special like-minded friends since learning how to use the internet and more importantly how to add treasures to my ever growing trove! I envy you for the fairs and car boot sales which are so prevalent over there!! We have so few up here where I am living. This is why the internet has become somewhat of a lifeline for me!! I find so many amazing items all over the world, by looking online! It is the closest I shall ever come to personally trawling the actual fairs and car boots unless I visit one of the major cities! But I adore the relaxed lifestyle here in the tropics so very much, and the weather is just like a postcard photo! I am truly blessed to be here. It is winter here, obviously and the coldest we have got to at night/wee hours so far this year is 12!! By 10 a.m. the temp is always up to the low 20's, so you can imagine why the southerners all come here for their mid year breaks!! It almost feels like I have lived a holiday for the past 35 years I have been here!! Even when I was at work, I enjoyed it so much every day, that I never once got up and did not want to go to work!

Unfortunately I had to stop working a week before my 50th birthday which was such a culture shock for me! Then 8 months later we lost 2 of our darling dogs within 10 days of each other, and this is what really made me feel that my life HAD indeed truly changed immensely! Poor little Furble was bereft he had outlived so many 'siblings' over the years, and it was him who we had always felt would be the next to leave us. It was for this reason that the timing to get dear Georgie was so perfect! Furble had a reason to play again!!


I knew his years were definitely numbered though so we got LouLou, the deaf Chinese Sharpei almost 5 years ago now, and this meant that Georgie, who is a real Mother Hen, would not suffer so much when Furble finally did have to leave us. It all worked out just beautifully for them all, really. And now as well as Georgie and LouLou, I also have Koo, another little sweetheart who was adopted from the Shelter. But NOT by me!! She was the little mischief maker belonging to the new neighbours who moved in next door!! Kylie worked all day and her young boys were at school and after school care, so Koo was lonely. She obviously saw the two very friendly dogs over the fence and decided to come to play! It got to the point that she was ALWAYS here, so we all had a chat about what was best for the dog's happiness, and decided that she could live here with me and her playmates!!! Little Isaac would tell people that 'Yes, he does have a dog, but she lives with Julie!!!'

TOO TOO FUNNY, but the boys come to play with the dogs often, and all is happy and fine! My trio are terribly spoilt, of course, and even sleep on my bed!!

Koo (left) and LouLou

Anyway, getting back to the end of working....I learned how to use the computer, and life opened many new and exciting doors for me! I could resume the old hobbies I had forsaken while the priorities of Aaron's schooling and the mortgage took precedence. OH! How glorious it has been for me to discover and buy such exceptional items! It has kept me sane and cheerful, that’s for sure! But the real bonus is that I have met such delightful folk who I can happily now call my friends, and I stay in touch with them via the magic of the internet! Life IS good!!

You are 10 years older than I am, as I was born in 1958. I came out from England in 1959 with my parents and older sister on one of the P & O liners. Apparently, according to Dad, who loves to relate the tale, I got so good at walking on the ship that when we hit land here in Oz, I could not walk on solid ground!! So I had to learn all over again how to walk!

My Dad did remarry after we lost Mum. He met Adele on her 30th birthday and they married 6 months later! It was obviously love at first sight because they shall celebrate their 40th anniversary in December!! I am so glad that he met such a gorgeously generous and genuinely loving person to share the rest of his life with, as Adele and her daughter who was almost 7 at the time they married, have definitely been our best friends for all those years! Dad is 15 years older than Adele who turned 70, 4 weeks ago!! I find these ages so hard to relate to as they are just Dad and Adele, the people I have known and loved for all this time. Still very young at heart and full of interest for life's joys!

I have NOT remarried after a traumatic marriage break-up. I just am so happy by myself, or maybe I am just selfish and love to enjoy my privacy! I have my dogs, my garden, my photography, and of course the internet which all keep me very content and busy. I also have very decent friends who watch out for me, while I have no family here. I have enjoyed this peaceful life for so long now, that I don't think I shall change my ways unless someone extremely special enters my life!

So,I shall happily continue to plod along, smiling at the day when I wake, and enjoying all the small things of beauty everywhere.

And THAT brings me to your comments about having sold, WITHOUT reading, Katawampus and Butterscotia!!!! How remiss of you, dear Barbara!! (Sorry Julie I am ashamed of myself) You really HAVE to read them even if it is by the hideous method of on-line!!!! I know they are available. I saw them when I goggled his works! But to me the joy of reading such tales is the weight, the feel and even the smell of the old books!!! OH! and you must, must MUST read 'Pigs is pigs'!!!
Katawampus its treatment & Cure by Edward Abbott Parry Illustrated by Archie Macgregor 

How utterly wonderful to have such ties to this country I call home! Adele is from Adelaide so I know it well! And my ex husband is also from there, but I won't hold that against the City of Churches as Adelaide is so fondly known! If you wish for me to send anything on your behalf to your granddaughters, do let me know? It is only about $20(10 pounds) for 5 kg!!! And that is anywhere in Australia!!! This is a genuine offer, Barbara! So do have a think...... Imagine the surprise the family would get at receiving something from you which has been sent in Oz!!! (Thank you so much Julie, I just might take you up on that offer) My grandparents used to send boxes of treats to us when we were very small, and we got the hugest thrill when we opened them up! That was so many long years ago, when mail was the only form of communication! I must admit that the instantaneous arrival of emails never ceases to give me enormous pleasure, especially from overseas!!!

The whole world has opened up so much in such a short time. I am ever so pleased to have learned so much about you and to know that we truly do share so many interests. I have such an amazing array of old illustrated books as well as plates which have literally fallen out of really old book gems. I do not have the access or funds which you do, thanks to the additional shipping which is a huge part of any purchase I make, but I still am extremely fortunate and I do have some delightfully rare old treasures which give me such pleasure every time I look at them or read the tales within!!

Thank you again for your email and for being so lovely with sharing your interesting anecdotes. I do hope that we can remain in touch and swap little tales of fun now and then.

Fondest wishes, love and warm smiles as always, Julie


Love and warm smiles to you too Julie and to all readers of this blog. 

Julie's first letter will be found here.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Guest Post by Bish Denham - Author of Anansi and A Lizard's Tail

I'm thrilled to be doing a guest post on Barbara's beautiful blog. Because it's all about books I wanted to share a few of my favorite childhood memories.

I can tell you, having growing up in the Caribbean, that the tropics are not kind to books. Unless you have an air conditioned, climate controlled room, you can expect your books to deteriorate or be destroyed due to mold, bugs, humidity, or storms.

That I have books from my childhood that survived not only the tropics, but me, is something of a miracle. They are battered and worn, not only baring the scars of being well read but showing the signs of having lived in less than optimal conditions.

Stories That Never Grow Old

It was obvious to me that the blank white pages at the front and back of books were there for me to draw on.

Stories That Never Grow Old has the most of my artistic endeavors.

Grimm's Fairy Tales
 Andersen's Fairy Tales

 I love the end paper and the illustrations in this collection of Andersen's tales.

The Princess and Curdie shows all the signs of having been chewed on by bugs.

The Scarecrow of Oz
The Princess and Curdie

I recovered my beloved copy of A Child's Garden of Verses, along with the World of Pooh and the World of Christopher Robin, rendering them completely valueless

Little Brother and Little Sister, illustrated by Arthur Rackham and published in 1917, is another book I recovered to keep the pages from completely falling out. The paper is not acid free and every year they are a little more brown, a little more brittle.

A Doorway in Fairyland by Laurence Housman has exquisite black and while illustrations.

Many of which I thought needed to be colored, so of course I did 

I treasure these books. The scars they bare are a testament to the fact that they were well read and well loved.

Bish Denham was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. Her family has lived in the Caribbean for over one hundred years and she still has plenty of family there whom she visits regularly.

She says, "Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic."

She is the author of Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Folk Tales and the novel, A Lizard's Tail, both of which are available on Amazon.

You can find her hanging out here:
Twitter: @BishDenham

Dear Bish, all those childhood memories wrapped up in the pages of your books are priceless  - not worthless at all. Thank you for sharing the images and for taking the time to write the post.  I know readers of this blog will enjoy it as much as I did. Barbara x

Monday, 7 September 2015

Technical Hitch

Today I would like to share this poem penned by my cousin John. I feel his pain, but it still makes me smile.

Technical Hitch

My computer had “probs” which caused me some sobs
I do feel abashed! The darn thing it crashed
It wouldn’t even start so no chance of restore
Definitely didn’t work since it hit the floor
Seems it had taken a really hard hit
Huh! Certainly did when I rebooted it!
I had to admit it was definitely bust
And having it repaired was an absolute must
So I sent it off in hope it could be fixed
Yet my emotions, strangely, were really quite mixed
Felt like a friend had just passed away
What could I do to fill up my day?
What occupation could I possibly seek?
To fill up my days for over a week?
I got really bored and moped round the house
Hugging the keyboard and fondling the mouse
(It was all my fault I felt such a louse!)
Then at last the phone call that said it was ready
Oh! the excitement, ’twas really quite heady
Hey! Now it is back on my desk and I’m fit to bust
Do you know those wizards even removed all the dust!
J A Flitney

I so know how that feels!  Have you ever been in the same situation?

 John won first prize in the 'name this blog competition'. Thanks John I'm loving the new name.

Second prize went to Yvonne at Winter Moon and here is Yvonne's cat Nala sharing some book love. 
Nala & Nesta the Little Witch

The highly commended prize went to the ever lovely Willie. Willie doesn't have a blog (as far as I know) so I can’t share a link, but I can share this clever little ditty he sent over the other day. My mistake – Willie does have a blog, and you will find it here.

 Is this clever....or what!
I halve a spelling chequer,
it came with my pea sea,
it plainly marques four my revue,
miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a quay and type a word,
and weight four it two say,
weather eye am wrong oar write,
it shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid,
it nose bee fore two long,
and eye can put the error rite,
it’s rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it,
l am shore your pleased to no,
it’s letter perfect awl the weigh,
my chequer tolled me sew. 

I'm delighted with the response to my request for guest posts but I can always accommodate more. If you would like to contribute something please get in touch via the 'email me' button on the right of this page ... Want to advertise your new book? Talk about a hobby, a collection or a new venture? This is the place to do it! 


I was wondering what to do with all the empty shelf space now that March House Books is closed, but then I found these great little boxes at H&M

The only problem with lots of boxes is remembering what’s in them but these free printable tags, solved the problem.

I've still got a little sorting to do, but I think you will agree this looks better than empty shelves, 

and I still have lots of books so all is well in my world.  I hope all is well in your world.

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

Monday, 31 August 2015

What sparks a child’s dreams?

Guest post by Darlene Foster dreamer of dreams, teller of tales.

When I was little, my dear grandmother gave me a colouring book filled with pictures of children from around the world dressed in traditional garments. I loved that book and while colouring each page, dreamt of visiting those fascinating places. Growing up on a farm in the Canadian prairies, we didn’t venture far. 

My grade three teacher, Miss Roll, taught us about exotic places, like Mexico. She gave us Mexican names, brought sombreros and serapes into the classroom, played Mexican music and served Chilli Con Carne. This further kindled my dreams of travel, especially to Mexico. Miss Roll also noticed my vivid imagination and encouraged me to write my stories down.

As is often the case, life happened. I got married, had children, worked full time, volunteered, took correspondence courses, attended the occasional workshop and dabbled in writing. I filled many notebooks with short stories and ramblings over the years. The thought of being published was a distant and, what often seemed to me, impossible dream. It didn’t look like I was going to see much of the world either.

Those ideas that were sparked all those years ago still flickered. I boarded an airplane for the first time when my second husband took me to England to visit his family. You can imagine my delight when I finally found myself in a country I had been reading and dreaming about for years. We travelled back to England a number of times as well as to many other interesting destinations, including Mexico. With every trip, I became as excited as the little child who held that international children’s colouring book in her hands.

When a friend took a job in the United Arab Emirates and invited me for a visit, I jumped at the chance. This amazing experience where I discovered a totally different culture, unique scenery and so much history, inspired me. I had many stories to tell when I returned home. Although I attempted to write these experiences down, they just didn’t portray the excitement and feelings I had while there.

Then one sleepless night, I started to write the story from the eyes of a twelve-year-old. I based it on my experiences and a perfume flask I purchased while there, added some colourful characters and tossed in an adventure. It was fun to spin my story in a way that kids would enjoy while learning about another country. My hope was that it would entice them to explore new worlds someday.  Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask was born and eventually my dream of being published came true. My main character, Amanda, has since gone on to explore other places such as Spain, England and her own province of Alberta.

Still pinching myself to make sure I am actually a published author, I am so glad I followed my dream of travel, which led to a writing career. I will forever be grateful to my grandmother, my grade three teacher and so many others for sparking the flame, and for all the people in my life who fanned those flames and encouraged me to follow my dreams. 

I believe it is our job as adults, to nurture the young people in our lives to develop and follow their dreams. If we don´t spark the flame, who will? As one creator of dreams come true once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Walt Disney 

Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She also had a desire to write since she was twelve. It wasn´t until she was a grandmother that her short stories started to win awards and were included in anthologies. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring spunky 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Her books include: Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel and Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. Readers from seven to seventy plus enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene and her husband currently live in Orihuela Costa, Spain. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.

Books available:


Dear Darlene, thank you so much for agreeing to write for my blog and for allowing me to share your photographs. It is always a pleasure to welcome you here. 

I am always happy to share interesting posts from fellow bloggers or anyone wishing to try their hand at blogging.  I prefer the posts to be about childhood, hobbies, collecting or books but would consider other submissions. Please send an email with your idea, and I will get right back to you.   

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Inspiration - fiddlesticks ...

                  ... that's all bunkum I just sit down to draw a picture as one might sit down to make a pudding, then I concentrate on possible subjects until I strike a good one. If I were to wait for inspiration, I'd starve."   G. E. Studdy, The Royal Magazine 1924. 

George Ernest Studdy is probably best remembered for his drawings of ‘Bonzo’, a mischievous white puppy, but he also created several other characters like those featured in this calendar from 1922. 

Missed boat. Will turn up later, Tom. 

Sorry could not dine with you last night. Got a touch of flu, Bertie.

Sorry to disappoint you. Cannot possibly put you up, Horace.

Spending week-end on river. Hope to get a line from you, Percy.

Expect to arrive in dock shortly. Portland in sight, Bill.

I found the calendar at the Bath & West Flea market a couple of months ago... was produced for D. J. Snell Music Publisher, Piano & Gramophone Dealer, 
Alexandra Arcade, High Street, Swansea. 

I'm not sure if I have an enquiring mind or a nosy nature but either way I felt compelled to find out more about D. J. Snell.

David John Snell was born at 44 Dyvatty Terrace, Swansea on the 1st August 1880. He was the son of Henry Snell and his wife Eliza (nee Lewis). David had a brother James and sister Ann. Nothing is known of his early life but on the 7th October 1906 he married Elizabeth Ann Evans, and together they had four sons. On the cover of one of his early catalogues, he is shown to be selling gramophones, phonographs and records (by far the largest stock in Wales) and to be an agent for Spencer pianos and Malcolm organs.

By 1911 D. J. Snell was dealing in sheet music as well as musical instruments – indeed one of his catalogues boasts: Every popular song (Welsh or English) kept in stock. At the same time, he was acquiring the copyright to musical compositions with the intention of publishing them. The majority of the works he purchased in the early years had already been published, but he republished them under his own name. He was scrupulous about buying not only copyright but also the available stock and the printing plates, and by so doing he was free to sell the stock with his own name over stamped on the previously printed copies.

In 1917 he purchased the copyrights and all stock and plates of the North Wales Music Company. Four years later, he purchased the music published by the Welsh National Publishing Company of Caernarfon. When he acquired the firm of J.R. Lewis of Carmarthen in 1924 and that of Isaac Jones of Treherbert in 1930, he effectively established for himself a music publishing empire in South Wales. The growth of the publishing side of the business in the years to 1939 is reflected in the catalogues which he issued.  The earliest such catalogue was just seven pages long, later catalogues ran to thirty one pages. Though the firm continued to publish during the forties and fifties, the last-known catalogue was the one issued in 1939. Bombing raids over Swansea in February 1941 saw the loss of numerous printing plates and a large amount of stock.  In spite of his advancing age, D. J. Snell continued to be active in the business until his death on the 13th January 1957. His wife died a few months later.

It’s possible his sons continued the retail side of the business but having trawled through hundreds of newspapers and online records I'm unable to say for sure.  I will keep looking and update this post if I should find any answers.


The National library of Wales
Find my past
Chris Beetles Gallery

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