Friday, August 31, 2012

Anyone else daydream at work?

Silly, silly question I know.  Of course no-one daydreams at work - your boss owns your brain for the 8 hours you are tied to the desk!

My 'proper' office (instead of the one I have when working from home - the one where working in my PJ's is not optional) is in the CBD.  That's strike one to this country girl.  Its also in a basement with no windows or connection to the outside world other than air vents (kind of necessary) - strike 2.  I also work in an almost all male domain (I am one of two females) - sounds nice but trust me computer geeks are not the same as working with hunky firemen! So strike three and its OUT!

To make it all more palatable I dream about my one day life on my farm.  Not really farming, been there done that, but more like living on land as a hippy.  I am trying to get my BFF and her hubby to join us in a kind of commune - and this was our email exchange yesterday ... yeah I drag her into my day dreams too!

(maybe some of the words have been changed to protect the integrity of the innocent humour ... or maybe not!)

me to her ...

Ready to sell up everything and move here?

Acreage For Sale

her to me...

Yeah baby!  So cute.

Not sure I could share a shitter ablutions block with Mr K tho!!!  (with anyone come to that, I spend so much time on the bloomin thing!!!)

So affordable!  xxx
I knew I had to sell this a little harder.
me to her ...
One day maybe. 
WE could all grow old disgracefully together - It will be like perpetual camping
WE would stop colouring our hair and shaving our legs
WE would eat raw vegies straight from the garden, even with the dirt still on
WE would swim naked in the dam
WE would pick apples and make apple pie with them the same day
WE would sit outside in the sun in an old wicker chair and just watch the chooks
WE would write about nothing at all and make it sound like the best adventure
WE would be as happy as a pig in shite to just be with the bestest and most beautiful people on this planet.
WE will get you your very own shitter!
her to me...
Ok … SOLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me to her ...
Oooh yeah a gin bubbler!!  Just like at school!
Ok, you have just given me a great idea for a blog.
Love it and love you Xxx
PS: Bit of a fancy shitter for you!

her to me ...
I know I know, the door is abit of a luxury …

As you can see we both work hard at our jobs.  This was all done during our lunch breaks and I am a terrible lier!  Its ok, she works for the big man upstairs and I just work for a big man.
I wonder if one day, when we are indeed sitting on a veranda with a blue gin bar, if we will look back at this blog post and laugh! 
Dedicated to a real ripe Strawberry.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quiet Few Days - That old Anxiety again

Had a few down days and its becoming clearer how and why this happens.  I am now sure how it all manifests - anxiety (for any reason, or even sometimes no reason at all) sets off a chemical flooding in my body which amplifies the anxiety as it lends a physical reaction as well as a mental one to whatever stressor has started it all.  This feeling, the mental and physical, make me crave carbs and sugar - and tea!  Its the classic Fight or Flight response - except my brain thinks missing the rubbish collection is as scary as being eaten by a wolf!

This is what happened, starting ...

... Sunday morning

Woke up with a jump and a panic that it was actually Monday and we hadn't put the bins out.  I had one arm in my dressing gown and half a foot in my slipper, before sanity returned (briefly) and it dawned on me that it was in fact Sunday morning - 7am Sunday Morning to be precise - and I had plans to sleep in and have an slow start to the day.  Pfft.  So much for that!  Not worth going back to bed, and with adrenalin already having a party inside me, I figured I would get a coffee and a blanket and go and watch my shows on TV.  (or as Mr K calls it - cooking porn!)

You would think at this point that the drama was over, and I did try and suppress the overriding feeling of doom and anxiety, but its not that simple.  Once the adrenalin monster is released, there will be no peace until he goes back into his cave - which is whenever he damn well feels like it.  There will be no pushing him, cajoling him or forcing him. 

House cleaning!  That's what I needed - looking at a sparkling house always makes me feel good.  While Mr K went off to be a dutiful Dad (and therefore secure an awesome present next weekend on Dads Day) to help Son#1 build some steps in his backyard, I prepared to burn off the anxiety. 

It took so long to get started, the aftermath of a panic and the anxiety makes me very, very tired and very lethargic and with 0% motivation to do anything but sleep or lay down.  This is why the people, who mean so well when they say to go do some exercise when you are anxious, get it so wrong.  It takes a mammoth amount of effort to even put your Bonds sports socks on, let alone make it out the door for a walk.  You have to fight your mind that has given up and your body that is exhausted.

I pushed the vacuum cleaner around, it felt like it was made of lead.  I half- heartedly dusted, doing a half-arsed job that annoyed the crap out of me, but I didn't care!  That's the quandary.  You know you have to do a job but you really don't care.  Its kind of like being in a surly teenagers body and mind for a while. I normally at this point give up, so I did a little deal with myself.  I sat and watched some Lifestyle shows, they always inspire me, and during the adverts I would get up and do cleaning until the show was back on.

It worked, as I got more inspired as the day went on, and got the rest that I so badly needed.  Cooking always cheers me up, so I made some of my Health Freak Muffins and took a batch up to Son#1 for afternoon tea.  The boys had done a great job .. here is what their days work got them :

Monday was a mauve day (opposed to a black day which is just being a drama queen and a grey day that has a whole new meaning since Fifty Shades of Grey)  I also had a mild cold (feel my forehead, do I have a temperature?  Do I? ) so spent the day on the lounge in front of endless cooking shows.  I think they call that 'taking a sickie' but as I am self-employed I am not sure what it is called?

Tuesday was no better, although I did make it to work and did get most of what I needed to get done.  The anxiety was still partying hard inside me, that delightful feeling of dread and doom ever present.  I tried to just ignore it, go with the flow as they say.  Gave in around 10-30pm and took half a Xanax so that it would stop for a while - which it did as Xanax always makes me sleep like the dead.

So today - woke - that's always a good start to the day - layed in bed for a minute, waiting for the doom cloud, and nope ... nothing there.  Checked emails - no bad news, checked the bank account - clients had paid, so I could pay suppliers - that's a good day.

Had energy, got chores done, a spring in my step, a bit of a song (bet you are glad you missed that!) at my desk by 9am.  Yep a better day.  Until ...

...  a crappy client is being crappy and now refusing to pay a bill he agreed to pay.  Makes me cross and stressed and here comes the adrenalin monster again.  That's all it takes to set him off.  Its not so bad now, but its there.

I am trying hard to understand this, to make some sense of it all, so that I can find some ways to stop this or at the very least, minimise its effects.  The really silly thing, is that logic plays no part in this.  I know and firmly believe, that missing the rubbish truck is no big deal, who cares, it will come again next week.  So why on earth does my body react independent to my brain?  I know this client is a tosser and honestly for the money we are talking, I don't care.  But my body does. 

Its like a betrayal. 

I would love to find out the reasons this happens.  It's obvious that something is amiss with the releasing of adrenalin in my body, too much, too soon and stays around more than is normal.  I am yet to find any doctor or specialist to help - they all seem to just prescribe drugs or therapy.  Both I have done and still to date, no difference.  I know this is a heredity thing as my Mum gets it and so does my son#2.  I have tried running, yoga, meditation .. you name it.  Nothing stops this other than sleep. 

So, if you ever wonder why sometimes I need to be very still and quiet and be alone - then this is why. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cat and Dog - My First Reader

This is the cat in the dogs bed

Bad Cat!

This is the dog, on the floor, near the cat in the dogs bed

Poor Dog!

This is the cat on the keyboard

Bad Cat!

This is the cat on the guests bed

Bad Cat!

This is the cat on my chair

Bad Cat!

Where should that bad cat sleep?

In the cat's bed - that's where!

Bad Cat!

The End.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Interior Design Woes

Carrying on with the curtain theme ...

I keep changing my mind about colours as the colour/style I had in my mind, I can't find in real life in the way of accessories etc.

Take the guest bedroom.

It was going to be latte with duck egg blue accents.  I can't find curtain material that matches this, or bed covers, or even art I like.  So this is what has evolved.

This is the nicest curtain fabric I have found... (this pic does not show it well, but its a natural buff colour, dark demin and white stripes)

I bought this cushion as it had the right colour background and a bird motif.

and this bedlinen - not the quilt, but the doona and pillows are all white so will go with anything.

Fell in love with this canvas, and it arrived today, but want to paint the little birds red.

So now the room is going to be latte, demin blue with red accents. 

Funny how things change. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Wow!  Now I know why we have never really had curtains in this house - or any house for that matter!  Just had a quote from Spotlight to do 4 bedrooms and 3 windows in the lounge at a cost of $4500!!  It must be because I am a nudist/exhibitionist/cheapskate at heart - but I have never ever thought of curtains as a necessary item in a house.  Just another thing to wash, and keep clean and decide on.  I was a little more interested in these soft furnishings when we moved to the city and we had neighbours for the first time, well close neighbours, ones that could see you naked if they looked out their loungeroom window, kind of closeness.  Rather than scare little children with our heathen, country ways, I put up (VERY temporarily) 'curtains' in the bedrooms.  11 years later and they are still there. 

Very ingenious they are too  - take a white plastic coated rod, pop a little rubber stopper in one end and on the other end is a cap with a big spring in it.  Cut the rod so that it will fit inside the window frame, quickly sew a pocket across the top of some material (hemming is optional) and thread the material onto the rod.  Push in the end with the spring and shove it all into the window frame.  Viola - curtains!

Now that we have done the rooms up nicely, and we are grown-ups now, I thought it time to do things properly and put up real curtains.  Out came a lovely lady from Spotlight, with her book and tape measure and samples to give me a 'free measure and quote'.  That was the last of the bargains!

She did have a very good eye and taste, suggesting the material that I had already bought as a sample from Ikea - funny that spotlight have it too!!  So, guest bedroom sorted -  three pinch pleats, 2.5m of material for each window with a long drop to the floor.  With rod, clips etc and fitted - $1000!  Now I know this material is $14.95 a metre.  It will take 6m per window so about $90 x 2 = $180.  Add the tape at $10, 2 rods and rings at $50 and it comes to a total of $240 all up for 2 windows.  Well you do the maths, its $240 as opposed to $1000!  For a little sewing and persuading Mr K to put up some brackets, I think this will be a DIY project with $760 in my pocket.  That pays for my new lounge in the reading room.

The other windows I am having white PVC shutters, easy to buy and install at a cost of $170 per window.  Same quality, same effect - savings of $1000.

The lounge/dining 'sheers' can wait for another day.  We have lived without them just fine so far, and a few thousand dollars saved is, well, a few thousand saved!  I did have romantic visions of a sparkling spring day, warm breeze billowing the curtains, while I laughed carefree and martha-esk.  But then I realised it wasn't my vision at all, but a toilet paper commercial on TV and I went right off the idea.

Throughout this process, all I could think of was that if I was where I wanted to be - on my farm - we wouldn't even be having a curtain conversation!  We would be talking about the pro's and con's of having a chicken pen with laying boxes that you could access from the outside.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Quiche - for real men

When I first started being responsible for myself, I started to cook and to understand that cooking was really just a science experiment - with a whole lot of luck and disasters thrown in.
One of the first things that I tackled as a new wife, was quiche.  In Australia, in the early 1980's, quiche (or egg and bacon pie) was only for 'poofta's*'.  Real Men Did Not Eat Quiche.  But they liked a good egg and bacon pie.  Mr K was not a poofter, well if he was he would not have married me, so I knew he was man enough to eat, and ultimately enjoy, quiche.

My first attempt at the French Quiche Lorraine was a unmitigated disaster.  Soggy yet at the same time crumbly pastry (took a lot of talent to manage that) egg mixture that had curdled and gone hard (again, how I got two opposing states in one glorious pie is any ones guess) and a watery ooze that really made the whole thing a dogs dinner (literally, the dog got to eat it and even she picked out the bits of bacon and turned her nose up at the rest)
Never one to admit defeat, I set about becoming the Queen of Quiche trying the Margaret Fulton recipe over and over again until I could proudly call myself Lorraine!  I have tweaked it and adapted this recipe until it made its way into my recipe book written in Biro (no less)!  It's been a staple meal over the years, always a good impromptu lunch, or dinner with a salad, or when I do mini quiches, catering for the masses.

I hadn't made one for ages, and had the urge a few weeks back to make one for lunch.  Tried a few tweaks of the old recipe and I like this one even more.  I have used my favorite Aussie cook, Maggie Beer's sour cream pastry recipe, which is very much like my own pastry I made up, except simpler.  Then a very basic egg and cream mix, add bacon, cheese and any vegies and you are done.  It turns out beautiful everytime, a great one to impress the girls at lunch.
Here is the original pastry recipe:
Maggie Beer - sour-cream-pastry-recipe

125ml sour cream
250g plain flour
200g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

Process in a food processor, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30mins

I don't blind bake this, just roll it out, put into a pie tin (one with a removable base) then refrigerate until the filling is ready.  When I do bake it, I put the pie dish onto another heavy tray to help cook the bottom.

Cut up 250g packet of rindless bacon into thin slices.  Fry off until just cooked. 

Mix in a bowl -

6 free range eggs -please be kind to hens and use free range.
300ml cream
salt & pepper
chives and/or parsley

Grate -
100g Gruyere cheese or similar

Now assemble the pie.  Spread bacon on the uncooked pastry base.  Then the cheese.  Pour over egg/cream mix.

I sometimes add asparagus, or zucchini.

Bake for 10mins in 200 oven, then turn down to 180 and cook for further 30mins.  It should look cooked but still have a slight wobble.

Cool and serve with a salad.

 * No offence intended with this word, I am just using a colloquial term from the era when this was stated. 
Today was the first time in ages that I have thought about, and pined for, the other life I want to live.  This hasn't happened for at least 3 months and it kinda shocked me when it did.  I was ironing, Mr K's work shirt and then some placemats.  Don't know why but I started thinking about my folks escape to the country - their good life freedom.  It made me a bit scared and panicked as I felt old and that we might have left this all too late? 

For so many years it has been an almost daily thought, my dreams of being on a farm and self sufficient and earthy and close to the bones of life.  The vision that appears in my thoughts is kinda like this -

Well sort of.  I haven't found a picture yet that embodies my deep desire in its entirety.  There are so many elements and feelings that make up the dream.

Here are a series of pictures that make my heart glad, my mind smile and keep the dream alive inside my soul.  The images are bittersweet - they represent the things I want most of all, but at the same time are the things that are so far away from what my life is now.

I just hope I reach them before its too late.

I want to watch and wonder at new life

I want to only eat food that is in season
I want to feel the thrill of creating something from nothing

The best sign in the world (unless its my farm!)

Coming home ...

Guard Geese

Milk and Cream and Big Licks

Oh, I can dream big can't I ?!?

Memories of a life past

Friday, August 17, 2012

Strawb & Jago - South Perth

It was Strawb's turn to pick the day out.  She asked me to catch the ferry over to South Perth, which sounded lovely but I got Mr K to drop me off instead. 

She picked me up wearing an awesome pair of teal green jeans and a leather jacket - hot mama that she is!  Not bad at all for (cough, cough) almost 50!  Of course she is older than me, so has to try harder!!  ha ha ha - who am I kidding!

It was all a bit of a surprise today, I had no idea what the day entailed, but I can tell you I got pretty nervous as we drove by the South Perth Golf Club - oops sorry ... The Royal (no less) Perth Golf Club.  Unless it was to take me to lunch there, in which case she should have warned me as there is a very strict dress code, then I had no interest being there! 

Phew, we drove past, and parked in a shopping centre car park in Como.  Now I like a spot of shopping like the rest of you, but a whole girly day of it?  There just didn't look like enough shops to keep us girls amused all day.  But my Strawb headed across the road to a lovely old 1930's cinema - Cygnet Cinema (formerly Como Theatre) for a morning movie session.  Now this was novel!

We saw The Sapphires - really sweet and perfect movie for besties to see.  But I saw Chris O'Dowd first and he's mine!!  - hear that Strawb!  Mine!

Feel good movie with great music. 

The actual Sapphires today

Mmmmm nice bit of Irish

Then it was back over the road to the very high brow named The Karalee on Preston for a low browed sports bar (IMHO 3 big screen TVs showing sport makes it a sports bar) to have a really great meal, some bevvies and wonderful service.  It was a perfect end to a already great day.  So I thought!

A few very well poured Bombays (for me) and some generous pours of merlot (for her) and Strawb keeps doing the strangest thing!  She asked me 3 times what time it was?  It was very unnerving, I knew something was up.   She confirmed my suspicions when my request for another drink was declined.  We had somewhere to be! 

A nice walk in the afternoon sunshine, it was 3pm by this time, was well in order and as we strolled down the hill towards the river, I got more and more perplexed what our next event would be.  Strawb did allude to more eating, which was a bit of a concern, considering we had just had a very decent pub lunch!  But I figured I could handle a coffee and maybe share a cake with my girl. 

She started giving me clues about this stage (obviously I was clueless about our fate to come) which was we were going to one of the oldest and most famous buildings on the Esplanade.  The only place I could think of was the Pagoda, which I had always thought of as a Chinese Restaurant or something similar.  Driven past it a million times but never, ever been there.  When she told me I had guessed right, I was just as confused as why would we be going to a Chinese restaurant at 3pm on a Friday afternoon when we had just had lunch?

This is why.....

It's actually now a very posh venue for HIGH TEA!  I asked my darling girl if she knew what High Tea entailed and she mumbled something about a cup of tea and a scone?  Yeah, that's about right - but add the REST of the food.  So when our lovely waitress came to take our order, and she offered the "sparkling" option, we both jumped at a glass of champers to calm our nerves at the thought of a three tiered symphony of food about to be presented to us. 

We vowed to valiantly tackle a few morsels and blushingly we would ask for a doggy bag (or in this kind of establishment - a box with a doily) to take home the bulk of the food we were sure we would not eat.  Bloody good go we had at it tho, luckily we both had stretchy pants (and after seeing what we did manage to eat - stretchy stomachs) on - it would have been insulting not to eat most of it.  I think Strawb took home a small, but delightful sample to Mrs C.  The tea choices were perfect - cinnamon for me and almond for Strawb.

After waddling back up the hill to the car, Strawb dropped me back to the jetty where I had to run-waddle to catch the ferry that had just pulled up. 

Wonderful and delightful day we had - it's my turn next ... how will I top this!

Thanks my girl - it was a super day. 

The Pagoda - History

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Its like England today

I am looking out my office window and the silver birch are naked - grey and white and naked.  The sky is grey, the day has that feel of English weather.  I love it.  It's cool, not cold.  It takes me back to my holiday in England - to walks in little villages, to long talks with mum and dad, to wonder at the beauty and the history. 

Yes, today I feel at home.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Story of the Cuckoo Clock

This is my cuckoo clock.  Its probably one of my favorite things in the whole house.  But its also one of the things that makes me very sad - so its a very bittersweet thing indeed.

This particular clock, I purchased in Lucerne - when I say I purchased it, what I really mean is that I chose it and my ever wonderful parents paid for it.  It was in 2008 whilst on a European holiday with my mum and dad (which they also paid for ... yes, I am exceptionally spoilt!)  I had planned on this purchase, and although the Cuckoo Clock is traditionally German, I had to buy this in Switzerland for a very good reason.  I had it boxed up and sent home to Australia, except for the two weights, they would have cost a fortune to post, so poor Dad had to carry them in his hand luggage!

The design is an exact replica of a clock my Grandparents had, and this is where the sad story comes into play.  When I was a little girl, I loved my Grandads cuckoo clock.  I recall vividly, asking Grandad to make the little bird come out of its hole and 'cuckoo, cuckoo'.  I never tired of it (like I am sure Granddad did) and he patiently wound the clock hands around to make the little bird pop out.  It's one of the only interactions I recall as a small girl with Grandad, he was not a man who liked little children very much, in fact his two favorite sayings were 'Silence is Golden' (I SO know what he is talking about NOW!) and 'Children should be Seen and not Heard'.  So to have this gruff man be so sweet and kind to me when he made the cuckoo pop out is a treasured memory.

I also loved the smell of the clock.  Grandad smoked a pipe and I have always loved the smell of tobacco (as opposed to cigarettes).  His house always smelt manly and warm and inviting.  As a teenager and young adult, I saw a new side to my Grandad, when he moved to live in a flat on my parents farm, there too was his cuckoo clock.  Grandma by this stage, was in a home, sadly she had a severe stroke very young and needed high care.  This is where I re-connected to this man, he became a good friend then, and I saw him love and take time with my own sons in a way he had never done with us grand kids as children.  Old age had softened him. I would watch with love, as he showed my little lads the very same as he had done to me, the cuckoo coming out of its hole to tell us the time.  My boys had the same delight on their faces as I must have done.

The clock was purchased by Grandma and Granddad on their honeymoon in Switzerland.  It was 1936, so its not a particularly old clock, and was not a overly expensive one either.

When my Granddad died in 1993, he left me the cuckoo clock.  It was sad to have found him as an adult to have lost him again so soon, so this clock became a symbol of that relationship.  I loved having it in my house, truly treasured it.  It still had his smell and I could still imagine his gnarled fingers winding the hands forward to make it 'cuckoo'.  Mr K however did not share the love, he hates ticking clocks and hated even more the little cuckoo coming out to announce the time (he used to lock the little birds door at night). 

When we moved to our new house, the clock was not working very well and I decided to have it serviced by a local clock maker in Guildford.  He was reputable, long time clock maker, with a little shop in the village, along side all the antique shops and tearooms.  The clock man need to have a part that had worn down, re-manufactured, so it took a number of months to have the repairs done.  Every few weeks I would call him to see if it was ready yet, and one day, when I called, the number said it was disconnected.  A little shocked, I got in the car and went down to the shop, to find it all closed up and emptied.  My heart sank, I panicked and cried and tried every thing I could to find where the clock man had gone!  After months of trying, I gave up and realised my beloved cuckoo clock had gone, it was not just a clock I had lost (or had stolen if you want to view it that way) but a deep connection to my Grandparents.  It took me a long time to get over that, and if I am honest, I still feel very sad about it.

That's why I had to buy a new clock when I went to Switzerland.  I decided to start a new tradition and carry with it this story.  Every time someone comments on my clock, I tell them this story - that way it stays alive!  Not sure what bad karma a wicked clock maker would bring upon himself for this deed, but I can imagine it would be a lifetime of out of time clocks!  Or being pecked by a cuckoo!  I hope it went to a loving home.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The weekend of almost normal

We are so enjoying our renovated house, that bizarrely, we both have renewed energy and desire to 'potter' about.  I am just blown away how such a relatively (albeit hard slog) small amount of work has changed out mood and attitude so completely.  I knew it would make me feel better, and lift me from the depression I have been under for a long time, but I didn't think Mr K was under the same heavy weight.

As we each have our own area's to play now, we spent the Saturday morning emptying the boxes stored in the carport.  I had a great time as a lot of the boxes were things I packed up when we painted the lounge/dining/kitchen in 2010.  All my beautiful green and white transferwear plates and cups were unpacked and displayed on the dresser.  My Irish pottery, my lovely green and white striped jugs (these are old jugs from NSW, an Aussie take on the blue and white Cornishwear).  I was like a kid at Christmas, the scary thing was that I kept unearthing treasures that I had completely forgotten I owned.  Which gave me a niggling thought - if I don't remember these things, then I didn't miss them, and do I really need them?  I silenced this thought with a rekindling of my love of them and now the rooster and hen sit atop my dresser, my Lilliput Lanes are on display (I never forgot I had these, they have been an old and valued love). 

However, I did get my ruthless hat on and if I really did not like the item, if it was damaged, or just did not fit, then it went into the give away box.  The hardest things to deal with are those that have been given to you as gifts, but you are not sure you like or that they fit with my style.  I know people give me things from their heart, but sometimes they just don't work.  I am keeping these things but stored away for another time and place - perhaps they will work better then.  So if you are reading this and you don't see gifts displayed, please know that I love the thought, but the reality may not be right for now.  I do still have them, as I treasure the sentiment, but they are not on display in this house.

Mr K too had a very productive time.  He was even (wait for this!) seen with not only a vacuum cleaner, but cleaning clothes as well.  And if that isn't too shocking, how about this - he labelled, with a label maker, all his drawers!  His new desk is certainly making him Mr Clean and Organised. 

The walls are looking very bare, so the next little mini project is to be putting up the pictures we have and finding other pictures to complete the look. 

Sunday was bleak and wet so the perfect day to stay warm and dry and have son #2 and his girlfriend drop by for lunch.  Mr K's sister was visiting her mum and came bearing home made (she is such a wonderful sweets cook) sponge cake.  I had made a quiche, so it was not a hard task to expand the lunch invite to Ms J and MIL to make six.  Any excuse for me to use my new silver tea set and in no time we had tea and cakes and all things 'high tea'!  Oh the joy of pouring (I played Mother) tea from a beautiful, elegant teapot.  I felt like a Duchess.

Using the dining room like this, made me realise that this room now needs bringing up to scratch.  I will add it to the never-ending list of To Do's.

PS: Sorry for bad photo's - using my phone for the pics, think I need to go back to the camera?