Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Gifts galore

I thought I'd share some of my more interesting presents from Christmas with you. I had a number of other great things like a hair dryer and slippers that I won't bother to photograph and write about, but I figured that some of these might be of some interest!
First up is a bit of a wild card - the Rune Primer by Sweyn Plowright. I have had an interest early English society and culture for a long time. The period between the Romans leaving and the Normans arriving (somewhere between 500 and 1000 in broad terms), often called the Dark Ages, is fascinating as the beginning of England as I know it. If you're familiar with Chaucer's language as an early version of English, Anglo-Saxon writing in this period is just about recognisable as being English. It has an odd rhythm to it and a lot of the words are unfamiliar, but it's definitely English. Anyway. Runes were the alphabet of the Anglo-Saxons and were used to write normal messages, as well as having magical properties and being a tool for writing charms and curses and what have you. The idea of rune stones being used like tarot cards for divination is a new one (1970s really) and a lot of esoteric books out there spout absolute nonsense about runes when actually there was enough information left by the Anglo Saxons and Norse peoples that we don't need to invent anything.
This book gives an introduction to the runes based on this principle and uses the old poems from across the North of Europe to discuss what we really know for sure about the runes, as described 1000 years ago. It's an excellent book and is a very good starting point for a serious study of runes and Norse culture in general, without being too academic.
Next up are my DVDs; the complete Foyles War (woo! Good husband!), Rebecca and Mrs Miniver.
If you haven't seen Foyles War, I demand you go and do so now. Foyle is a detective in Hastings when the second world war kicks off. He's assisted by a driver from the MTC (Motorised Transport Corps - a female branch of the British Army) and spends the war years investigating murder, sabotage and suspected German spies in a calm and charismatic way. Higher quality all round than Midsomer Murders, Foyle is excellent fun. And the costumes are pretty excellent too!
Rebecca is the 1940 film of the Daphne De Maurier, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. I haven't watched this yet but I love the book for its sinister characters and wonderful depiction of 1930s upperclass society. I understand that the film is an excellent adaptation.
Finally Mrs Miniver. This film was made in England in 1942 and is quite obviously a propoganda film. Mrs Miniver is a normal middle class housewife with one son at University and two smaller children, and her Architect husband. Throughout the film, scenes of rosy domesticity (buying a hat she can't really afford - loved it!) are replaced with air raids, a German pilot in the kitchen and, eventually, a death. Through it all Mrs Miniver 'keeps calm and carries on', showing us all the ideal of a British housewife in war time. Despite the pretty obvious Ministry of Information hand in this film, it's very enjoyable, funny and touching in places and, in my opinion, just as valid as magazines etc. from the period for showing what many people would have aspired to. I think this is a must see for anyone interested in the 1940s.
This next isn't actually a present but it was bought with Christmas money, so it sort of counts. It's a new camera and a gorillapod! I'd come to realise that my phone had a better camera than my usual digital, which to be fair is about 8 or 9 years old. Technology has come a long way in that time! I think my favourite feature so far is the timer which gives you 10 seconds and then takes 3 photos in quick succession. Perfect for outfit shots! The tripod is so that I can take self portraits when out and about. Blogtastic!
My in-laws bought me a little owl to go with this big owl I bought with Birthday vouchers last year. He's a paperweight with a scented head! I do love owls and these two are so smart and grand, just as owls should be!

Finally, my brother-in-law and his girlfriend gave me some lovely handmade goodies. I think that these are my favourite gifts of all - handmade are so much more special.
I'm really chuffed with all of these.
This is a selection of preserves, one is a cider jelly, one's quince jelly and the other is a chocolate and brandy spread (described as nutella for grownups). I'm not sure if I like the fillings of the branding better. Awesome present!
Then there is a jar of grapefruit and lemon body lotion. It's as nice a cream as any I've bought from the shops and the smell is divine. I'm really impressed with this one too! I have to keep smelling myself now...
There were also handmade chocolates. They were so nice there aren't any left to photograph...


  1. Love the owls! I am considering a gorilla tripod, let us all know how yours works out!

  2. what a pretty blog....well done on the bound buttonholes.

  3. Hello and lovely to 'meet' you lady!
    You have a lovely blog...and what gorgeous presents, especially those owls! xx

  4. We love Foyle's War. Haven't seen the other two, but now they're on my must find list.