Tuesday, 31 October 2017

No tricks just treats

hanging up Halloween lights
Black grungy jumper

Preparing for Halloween, getting the pumpkin lights out and trying to string them up whilst enthusiastic Boo pup tries to paw and chew them. (More about Boo to come in her own post) Two boxes of Halloween decorations to scatter and drape around the house like an explosion of pumpkins, spiders and glitter. This is my favourite time of year for so many reasons, the setting in of evening by the time it's the end of a school day, the scent of damp leaves and smoke, a squeal of a firework and the cosy clothes to snuggle into. I was recently very lucky to look and choose from the amazing range of clothes at LOTD and have invested in some items to get me through the colder months. Gorgeous long black jumper (£12) with side splits for wearing with skinny jeans and boots, grungy look perfection yes!
More decorations and oranges and purples, cats and pumpkins, masks and brooms. All my Halloweens over the past 15 years stored and accumulated. I have the first ever trinket I bought for my new house at the time, as I moved in on Halloween. A memorable day.  To celebrate, some Halloween drinks and a black fitted blazer (£12), love it! I'm going to wear this so often with a little top and jeans with some heels.  A Darke Daiquiri please or a Black Magic with orange and vodka.
Black blazer

Boo pup and I will be adventuring soon for the rest of autumn, she's had her final vaccination, now a 2-week wait and we can go off out anywhere we like, she has a cute little grey jumper and I have this padded gilet  (£20) so we will both be warm. I teamed it with a grey sweatshirt with cut out shoulders. Finally, more cosiness with a long grey cardigan (£18)  that I'll wear with jeans (of course) and a skirt with tights, so I have a few key autumn and winter wardrobe items now.

I will be visiting LOTD again,  it has so much to choose from and I mean loads! Everything is an absolute bargain and delivery is super quick. I have already got my eye on more clothes for some Christmas nights out and casual clothes for those winter walks and pub visits. My friend has a little dog too so it will be nice to go for doggy meet ups at the park and find all the dog friendly pubs.
witch and her pup

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Witch's Cottage

Walking through a village in the Cotswolds finding a cottage of perfect proportions and fairy tale beauty, with a broom propped by the blush still buzzy bee pollen dipped legged visited roses and a battered and bent almost pointed hat hung up on a wooden peg in the ramshackle porch. Rambling wild garden filled with colour and scent, some of it musty, some of it dead, seed pods and haws with a prickly bramble hedge. Nature's apothecary gathered each morning after nasturtium tea and nettle bread, a pinch of dog rose hip and a dash of dahlia petals. By lunchtime a whisp of purple smoke circling and snaking under the wisteria, a slight spicy smell and cross words uttered as a spell doesn't work. Not enough dawn dew collected or was it the addition of blue berried badger scat. Try again.

Not a black cat here but a pudgy tabby with paws like a tiger cub and battle worn ears from many an alley altercation with the neighbourhood mog or a swooping peck from the great tawny owl of the spinney where the witch gathers her kindling for the fire. He's happiest when the pot is bubbling away, pop pop pop bursts of love potions and incantations for neighbours who quarrel and gossip. For whilst trouble and kindness are brewing, he is ladled warm milk and has the whorls on his belly tickled by the cloak of our spell maker as she dances around the pot.  

Standing outside I heard a gurgle and a hiccup, then a cackle like old saw teeth cutting through wood. Thin skin and fingernails grab the hat which gleans like the carapace of a stag beetle in the chink of afternoon sunlight. Through blowing curtains, I caught the outline of the crone and her cat, perched aloft over her shoulders. Clouds drifted across the autumn sun, a gauzy layer, a gloomy edge, a feeling of something about to happen and then it did....... For a witch also flies by day and out she shot on a tatty old broom, with her tatty old cat and her tatty old hat, out of the front door and way up high, with a smile, a cheeky curse and a winking eye. 

Monday, 23 October 2017


This season is full of little treats, fruits and eye bounty of colourful leaves and fungi sprouting up from the earth over night, once said to be wear lightening had struck. As I drove along, my eye was caught by a fairy tale clustering of Amina muscaria, known as Fly Agaric. Quintessential pixie toadstools in every fairytale book. The seat of many a elf's bottom,lounge for smoking caterpillars or landing pad of fairies....
Amanita muscaria

Fly Agaric

Grouped on a grassy verge outside a house, as if awaiting a party of naughty pixies to come along, I quickly stopped the car and had a closer look. So striking that I'm sure if the neighbours  saw people on their hands and knees outside they would instantly know why. Rounded globes at first, red blobs dabbed with whipped cream. Fairy tale they may look but do not be fooled for they are poisonous, containing hallucinogenic agents, muscimol and ibotenic acid in varying quantities. Not to be messed with and best left to fairy folk who dabble in such mind altering shrooms. 

Associated with shamanistic religions of the Siberia people such as the Lapps, used in their storytelling and the singing of 'heroic songs', ritualistic and mysterious. Reindeer absolutely love to eat these mushrooms and there is folklore around Father Christmas being the result of a reindeer urine drinking session or two, (taking it this way reduced the toxicity) creating visions of flying, red and white....ho ho ho. 
Young Fly Agaric

As they mature the parasols open up flat, perfect for a fairy carriage runway but soon to be gone from their mossy patch. I returned a week later to find them well past their prime and browning. Treasure of autumn, a lucky find, keep your eyes pealed for them springing up after moonshine, look but don't touch to be on the safe side.
Flat top Amanita muscaria


Red spotty toadstools

Wild Food UK

Magic mushrooms and reindeer - Weird Nature - BBC animals

L. G. Czig√°ny. "The Use of Hallucinogens and the Shamanistic Tradition of the Finno-Ugrian People." The Slavonic and East European Review 58, no. 2 (1980): 212-17. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4208027.

Rush, John A. Entheogens and the development of culture: the anthropology and neurobiology of ecstatic experience. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 2013.
group of fly agaric

Top rules for renting #RentingRules

Have you ever rented property? I did many years ago whilst saving to buy a house and admittedly I found it quite frustrating at times as I am person that really likes to make a place my home. I like to feel that things are forever, to add my quirky flair to a place and have more control. However, there are many positives to renting and if you're not sure at this point in your life where you're going to settle, are transitioning perhaps between relationships or employment or if you're saving up to buy then renting is something that I bet most of us do. It is also a great way to get to know any area before putting down roots and see what a place is really like. I know people that are happy renting forever, we are all different and so what can I advise based on my renting experience.......
Dream home

1. Check the inventory when you move in. Make a note of any existing damage to walls or floors or  if there there are any marks on the carpet. Advise of any discrepancies on the inventory. Take photos of the property when you move in so that in the future when you come to leave, you can remember that the curtains that you took down which didn't match your scheme need to be put back up! I found this out when I forgot all to put some curtains back up and had a disgruntled call from the landlord. if it is part furnished too, check against the inventory before you leave, replacing items and ensuring it is left as you found it. Keep copies of all correspondence with the landlord and any receipts for items replaced and maintenance work done as it can be easy to forget if you stay there several years or more.

2. Build a friendly relationship with the property owner and the letting agency for they are trusting you and you are trusting them.  The landlord is taking a risk because they don't know how their investment is going to be protected but luckily have companies like homelet.co.uk who provide landlord insurance, giving them peace of mind over the building and its possessions. HomeLet help to take the risks out of property rental, with specialist products to protect letting agents, tenants and landlordsIf there are any issues deal with them straight away and don't hide problems as you may need landlord references in the future. If there is anything like a leaky shower or other maintenance make sure you are flexible for access to the house and work with the landlord, equally though, make sure that they look after you if there are home issues so develop polite communications. Make sure you have their contact details to hand in case of any emergencies. Extend the friendliness to the neighbours too as you never know when you will need them and they could be acting as the eyes and ears of the landlord.

3. Stamp your mark in a non wall damaging gentle way - decorating and putting up anything like shelves required permission from the landlord and they don't want their clean wall peppered with wall hangings.  You can buy picture strips that will not damage the walls but enable you to put a picture up, they're inexpensive and a good solution. Be creative, wall stickers are a great alternative, emphasise your soft furnishings, lamps and decorations which don't damage the interior but enable you to still make a statement.
basket of books

4. Abide by the rules. If there is strictly no pets then don't sneak a dog in or a couple of cats. You'll get found out and even if you took the dog out for a walk every time the landlord is due to come around, well you can't disguise the smell of pets too quickly! Inviting a friend to stay for a long period could be considered sub letting, so be mindful of this if your personal relationship changes - you can't just move your new partner in!
dog on a rug

5. When you leave, make sure the property is spotless and take pictures to show how you left the property. Look back at the original inventory and hopefully any issues along the way have been fixed so no nasty surprises for the landlord and after all you want your deposit back. Check each room and the garden, making sure any marks on walls have been cleaned - you can buy magic erasers that will remove some. Wear and tear is to be expected and will not forfeit you your deposit, again, try and develop a good relationship with the landlord so that when you come to leave it is a fond farewell.

Have you ever rented or do you now? Would love to hear of any extra advice.

*collaborative post