Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Wine cellar or hobbit house. by Tales of a Magpie

I do love winter. I enjoy summer too and am not sure which I prefer. I sometimes think that winter is a bit more 'me', more subdued and quiet than summer, that sometimes seems too brash and bold, the loud girl a the party.

wish we had had so much at Christmas by Tales of a Magpie

As I've been missing from blogland for so long, I thought I'd do a winter catch up post, of wintry days indoors, sparkles, books to curl up and read and places to visit.

As we get snow here, unlike some parts of the world, I thought it could be nice for you to see some snow pics.

Never mind Easter... Eliska thinks it's Christmas, we have so much snow! by Tales of a Magpie

A smidgeon of snow today. by Tales of a Magpie

I drew the pic below for Eliska.

upload by Tales of a Magpie

In a place where it sometimes reaches minus 15 during the day, you really need a good wood store. Our wood is in the barn in our garden.

A visit to the log store in the barn. I need the fire on. It's freezing. by Tales of a Magpie

Lots of kindling by Tales of a Magpie

I love being by the fire. It grounds me when I feel stressed or anxious.

Tea by the fire. by Tales of a Magpie

I do love love love my polar bear candles.

The air smelt of snow... by Tales of a Magpie

I spend a lot of time reading. I read online a lot nowadays and don't read magazines often as I have to buy them from the UK. My friend brought me these over.

Going to sit here before I go to work. by Tales of a Magpie

I bought this sticker book for Eliska, for those cold days when you need to snuggle up indoors. She loves the cold a lot though and is never happier than when she is rolling around in the snow.

One of Eliska's Christmas pressies. I can't wait to dress Belle up! #belleandboo by Tales of a Magpie

I also got this amazing book for Eliska. It is a retelling of the Snow Queen with illustrations by Miss Clara, who I have long admired.

She sparkled like pure, ice cold perfection. by Tales of a Magpie

I also bought this book for Eliska, illustrated by Miss Clara. I think it might be a bit old for her but the illustrations are spellbindingly beautiful. #missclara by Tales of a Magpie

I love the illustration below which looks like a little necklace.

Oh I just love it! by Tales of a Magpie

Gerda reminds me of Eliska.

I think she looks a bit like Eliska! by Tales of a Magpie

When it's freezing outdoors, I do love to wander around the shops. This is the most beautiful of shops, a pure dream of a shop.

Shop heaven! #greengate by Tales of a Magpie

I love everything in it and would move in quite happily if they would let me!

More treasures! #LisbethDahl by Tales of a Magpie

I love the cups with the butterflies on them. #LisbethDahl by Tales of a Magpie

Drool. #Apropos #Brno by Tales of a Magpie

Winter always seems a time to retreat and reflect, perhaps to think rather than do. I love to create a cosy atmosphere at home. Lamplight always creates warmth and homeliness. I found this lamp in my inlaws' attic. I painted it and I love it. The wolves remind me of Game of Thrones.

Cooking lunch with my little lamp on. by Tales of a Magpie

What would winter be without sparkle, the light in the dark, glitter on coaldust? I made this little fairy with a sparkly crown.

You shall go to the ball #handmadedoll #fairydoll by Tales of a Magpie

I saw the little cottage decorations in a shop before Christmas. I like the dusting of snow.

Little Christmas cottages. by Tales of a Magpie

Eliska recieved a sparkly Peter Pan collared dress for Christmas.

I bought Eliska this little dress for Christmas. I love the sparkly Peter Pan collar. by Tales of a Magpie

Santa also brought a sparkly mask too.

More stocking fillers for Eliska. A little cat mask and butterfly clips. by Tales of a Magpie

So I've been wearing tights...

Tights in summer. Boo! by Tales of a Magpie

Eliska has been wearing hats, sometimes two at a time!

Snacking. by Tales of a Magpie

We wandered the streets in the city centre and found this magical rabbit in a shop window.

My other favourite shop in Brno had a fairy lights rabbit. Swoon. Sorry for the blurry pic, Eliska was pulling my coat. by Tales of a Magpie

We also saw these lovely decorations in the shop of dreams at Christmastime.

Dotty hearts and Parisienne decorations. I could happily live in this shop. by Tales of a Magpie

Door to our wine cellar. by Tales of a Magpie

I spotted this lovely logstore in our village and am rather envious of it.

There's something about a big stockpile of wood. by Tales of a Magpie

I got some lovely things from Rose and Co for Christmas. I used to love going in the shop in Haworth. How sweet is the packaging?

I got this lip balm as a stocking filler for Christmas. Love the packaging. #roseandco by Tales of a Magpie

Lovely things from rose and co. #roseandco by Tales of a Magpie

Eliska also got this super cute bag for Christmas. I found it in Monsoon. I love that shop!

Sweet little bag for Eliska for Christmas. by Tales of a Magpie

I made Eliska the dolly below,

Finally made dolly some legs. by Tales of a Magpie

I also made this doll .

upload by Tales of a Magpie

Doll I made Eliska for her birthday. by Tales of a Magpie

I hope you enjoyed your wintry visit. Now curl up, close your eyes and dream.....

Full beautiful... a faerie's child... Keats by Tales of a Magpie


Monday, February 3, 2014

What If?

I sometimes find myself wondering about what the people who lived in our house did before we lived there. Women filled pillows with goose feathers in what is now our living room. The garden was a place where fruit trees grow in the summer, much as it is now.

There is a darker history hidden in shadowy corners. Toward the climax of the Second World War, Roman's Grandmother hid in the wine cellar that sits in the barn in our garden. She did so because some of the Russian soldiers that had come into the village were raping the women.

I find it hard to think of how I would feel in such a situation. Blind terror, I suppose. Then I wonder which of the Russian men weren't bad, which them didn't hurt women or ransack houses, taking precious heirlooms from white faced people that shock had taught to forget how to speak..

Inside the wine cellar. I couldn't get a better pic because the light is broken. During the Second World War Roman's Grandmother hid in here from the Russian soldiers because a number of them were raping women from our village. They also stole valuable it by Tales of a Magpie

It is hard to put myself in Roman's Grandmother's shoes. I have never experienced war or invasion. Although in theory, the Russians were the liberators, some of them acted as aggressors, tearing into safety.

I am reading, 'Resistance' at the moment, a novel by Owen Sheers. It's premise is an alternate history, where D Day has gone terribly wrong, setting the German forces on their fatal march into Britain. It is a chilling 'what if?' novel. Though the notion might seem far fetched, male residents in the Welsh borderlands where the story is set were approached to join a resistance in the event of such an invasion. The timeline for their activites in burrowed tunnels underground and memorised military insignia was 14 days, at the end of which it was supposed they would be dead.

Sheers explores the reality of this resistance, when the men disappear to try to covertly defeat the German invaders. Thus, they are curiously absent from the novel. The women wake one morning to find they are gone, vanished, with no pre warning.

There is something stark and frightening about their disappearance that caught my imagination. Imagine waking one morning to find the world suddenly changed, that behind the mist covering the hillside is a world quite different from the one you knew the evening before. It is not beyond the realms of possibility in the world we all know well.

I also got this book. #owensheers by Tales of a Magpie

The book explores the behaviour of the German officers, Albrecht in particular. He doesn't behave like the beasts the women have heard about in stories. He dissaudes a fellow soldier from attacking a woman, 'Do you have a sister?'

In time, the women and the soldiers form a relationship of sorts. The women are left to farm the land and the soldiers help them in the harsh winter. During this time, Albrecht forms a friendship with Sarah, who misses her husband and traces his abscence in the outline his body left on the mattress, At times he is a memory, a ghost of an old life.

Books, tea and Death Comes to Pemberly. If anyone needs me, this is where I'll be. by Tales of a Magpie

 'One day you have to wake up and you're in the real world.' This line struck me whilst watching 'Enchanted' with Eliska. How lucky we are to have our safe little worlds. What if you woke up in the real world and it had changed forever?

'Resistance' is also a film.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair....'

I'm loving this so far. It's a kind of reworking of the Rapunzel tale. by Tales of a Magpie

"You've honey on your tongue, ma fifille," Maman once said. "If you'd lived in earlier times, you could have been a troubadour."
"...There aren't any troubadours any more, are there, Maman?" Marie said. "And if there were, girls wouldn't be allowed to be one."
"Probably not," Maman agreed sadly.
"I'll be one anyway," I said with determination.

I read this book a few days ago and wolfed it down. I read all kinds of books, what I would describe as popular fiction, through to the more heavy going literary type.

This is by no means a heavy tome and doesn't aspire to be serious literary fiction, but it is not throwaway cliched nonsense either. Writers have been inspired by fairytales for years, those such as Angela Carter putting their own spin on them, which this book also does.

It  looks behind the story, to the writer that the Rapunzel story sprang from. Charlotte Rose de la Force, cited by Forsyth as the creator of the Rapunzel tale, mirrors Rapunzel's tale at times, as she too is incarcerated at certain points in her own life. For much of her life she occupies the court of Louis XIV, a place fraught with risk and danger and Charlotte  fears the consequences of falling out of favour with the often cruel and capricious King. Charlotte Roses's story runs alongside that of the imprisoned girl with the endless red hair. I should note that the heroine of the fairytale is not known as 'Rapunzel', but as 'Petrosinella.' Both women triumph against adversity and struggle in worlds which are frequently unkind to women, who are expected to make a good marriage and produce a line of children.

The court of Louis XIV is portrayed as an exciting and licentious place, full of gossip, gambling, parties and dramatic costume. Within this world, many married members of the aristocracy enjoy love affairs. Charlotte enjoys liasons of her own, but she is also seen by many as someone that breaks the  conventions of the times, which also demanded that women appear outwardly demure, decorative and decent. This is contrasted powerfully with the behaviour of the King who seems to fornicate with anything that moves. His treatment of one of his mistresses leads to tragic consequences and I thought in many ways he resembled one of our Kings, Henry VIII, in his apparent lack of conscience and almost sociopathic pursuit of his own needs.

Throughout her imprisonment, Petrosinella reminds hereslf that she is loved and it is this strength and self determination that saves her. She is not the passive victim of fairytale, although it is important to note that the meaning and plot of many tales has been changed and retold throughout the years, fitting with the mores and thinking of different times. The book acknowledges this, that a story becomes altered as it is told again and again and that is what I loved about it, the sense of finding out who Rapunzel really might have been and why the witch wanted to keep her there. Although partially historical fiction, it is at times a curiously modern tale, a witch that gets drunk and takes narcotics, an aristocrat that fumbles with her lover in the bushes at parties, a girl that rescues her beloved. I remember suggesting the Princess who rescues the Prince in a story writing class at school and the teacher frowned and said it didn't sound like a very good idea. Well, it sounds like a very good idea to me!

In the Kitchen

Tagged by @thevintageroom to show #apocket of my home This is my favourite bit of my home although it is rather cluttered. by Tales of a Magpie

Morning! I haven't written a blog post for a long time. My camera has been replaced but now I've lost the charger, so I was putting it off until I got round to getting a new one. I will get a new one, but I missed my blog, so I thought I'd do a post anyway, albeit with my phone photos, which are not the best quality.

I thought I'd share some pictures of my kitchen today as it always seems to be a huge hit on instagram and seems to be the area of my home that most people are interested in. Let's face it, we all love a good nosy.

I was rather bluntly informed by a fellow instagrammer that I couldn't possibly have a husband, I am guessing due to the erm rather pink and pastel tones there. She's right. I don't have a husband, as Roman and I are not married and have no plans to be! We do live together though, of course. He really doesn't care about the pinks and florals, which I suppose makes me lucky. Although, if he did care, I might be tempted to have my own little secret cottage full of florals and bits and bobs.

The question of what makes a masculine space is an interesting one. I think both men and women like masculine and feminine influences and some men are not averse to florals or what we might call 'the cottage tucked away in the woods' look. I met Roman shortly after he had been travelling around Australia and New Zealand and to be honest, I think living with me and my home comforts might have been a relief, regardless of the girliness. This is the man that camped alone close to Ayr's Rock!

upload by Tales of a Magpie

I enjoy sitting in here, drinking tea or hot chocolate, baking with Eliska... although I am shit at it. We have fun but my cakes never rise, my scones are hard and it just always goes wrong. There is always fun in the making though.

A little teapot! by Tales of a Magpie

One thing that does bug Roman a bit is the clutter or more specifically, the clutter corner. You can spot it in the pictures, the bit where the blue cupboard and all sorts of bits of paraphanelia are. It gets on his nerves but I like my beautiful things where I can see them, not hidden away.

I really love the teapot in the picture above, by Pip Studio. I had been coveting it for a while and bought it as a Christmas present to myself.

Heart shaped marshmallows! by Tales of a Magpie

A morning treat. by Tales of a Magpie

Very tired this morning so having a massive cup of tea. by Tales of a Magpie

The owl decorations below were clipped up in my kitchen during Christmas, which I am missing a bit. There is such a warm and hopeful feel at that time of year, like you are temporarily swept away from the world into a cosy and sparkly bubble. Then in January, you are plopped unceremoniously into January again with a bump. Ooh, it stings a bit!

I got some owls but they are glass too. Not sure they're safe around me! by Tales of a Magpie

Dull days, endless grey, which is exactly why you need a nook or a hideaway to shelter you from the wind and rain. Coupled with living overseas in a culture I find a little strange sometimes, I really need my lovely kitchen. How do you feel about yours?

Cute teatowels. by Tales of a Magpie

I'll be back again soon with more general fluff and nonsense and musings. I also hope to keep an update on how my writing is going, as my book is starting to take shape now. I've been reading a lot recently, as well as continuing my doll making, so there'll be a bit of that too.

Cheery bye my little starlings. x