Friday, 30 November 2012

Farewell to the Forest of Toon

So, enough of this tramping around aimlessly in the lovely woods. 'Tis time to engage with the frenetic activity of December. I have cleared most things from the Great Muddle, and still managed to have a very relaxing month. Taking a break from the whole thinking thing is most useful.

I even managed to find, at the back of the bread bin, Angela's marbles. This nearly pleased me more than anything. A dynamo of a woman like that really needs her marbles at this time of the year. They are somewhere between here and there, Ang, and will hopefully be with you in time. In time for what?  Only you could know.

Thank you, forest followers, for bearing with me in the Forest of Toon. I'll be back in the Land of the (sometimes tearful) Strawberries on Sunday for Floss's first Pause xx

Thursday, 29 November 2012


I'm nearly glad that tomorrow will be my last day in the Forest. It's getting very cold, and strange, over-sized vegetation is appearing.
Bubbling, fizzing and fermenting. It can't be entirely wholesome.
 And there are creatures too. I thought I was made of sterner stuff.
But clearly the Forest has tired of its interloper and I must hasten back to my own world!

Thanks to Charles and Niqi for a warm house and my jar of peanut butter, crunchy. Where better to prepare for Preparing for Advent on a day besieged by freezing fog?  There's safety in numbers!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


There must be something about November that speaks to our collective unconscious. In one of my former lives I was a swotty counselling student, and I have to say that I loved Jung. To me November is that gorgeously stark time when you get to roam around the crisp streets with a hat and not feel slightly ridiculous. I do love and adore being able simply to enjoy Winter without all the noise, noise, noise, noise that the Grinch despised!

I was looking back at other November posts on fraise, and came across this one from last year. I remember being so excited at the prospect of a whole month of Frances and wishing I had the commitment to be as hardy as the Philosopher! (Sorry, Sandra- another set of obscure references!) But there must be something about November that makes us want to achieve something, enjoy something that is all about the season and not the great lurching event at at year's close. I'm wondering is it a deep down impulse that we all share. Maybe it's just a blogging collective subconscious!

I started reading through John's book a few days ago. This morning I got to the bit where Jesus clears the Temple. This struck a chord, having spent a month trying to clear a Land. He looked at all the materialistic, commercial STUFF that had been brought into a place for quiet, holy attention and shouted, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

That struck a chord too. Coming out of the Forest of Toon could mean moving into Christmas. But I'm going to move into Advent instead, I think.  I also think that fraise might just be around for the Pauses in Advent that Floss is running again this year.  If you haven't come across these before do visit Troc, Broc, Recup and think about signing up. It's not so much collective subconscious as collective trying to be very conscious indeed! (And that makes me think of my favourite Collective of all, filmed in another Forest I know...)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Dear Ang and Pom Pom,

My month in the Forest of Toon is nearing an end. I would highly recommend a month of driftng through wintry glades with a warm hat and lots of tea.  But it's time to come out now.  I am finally getting to the end of the list of all those things that I should have done many moons ago.  You were both the last entries on my Things to Post list, and I went to the post-office with your parcels this morning. Ang will know exactly what her parcel holds, as I have had to beg her countless times to email me the page numbers AGAIN! But Pom, I think you'll have completely forgotten what's in yours, so that might be a surprise!

I have learnt an incredible amount from both of you.  I am very grateful to Floss for her Pauses- I think I read you both first at her Pause in Lent one year.  Blogging is such a valuable resource, I think.  So thank you for your company in the forest! I wish you both a rich Advent time, and I will be reading your pauses with much love xx

Monday, 26 November 2012

Wardrobes in the Forest

No self-respecting forest should be without a wardrobe. How else do you find your way in and then your way out? This used to be the boys' wardrobe, and it was put out early last week for a charity to collect. They didn't come. Then someone from Freegle was interested, but after three days of unresolved emails, our kind neighbour's kind son-in-law helped PC heave it onto the roof-rack and now it is gone to another local charity. I miss it! I think we did actually start to believe that if we opened the door slightly we would hear Aslan roar. I know that the suns opened it slightly every time they went past. We had decided that if no-one could use it, we would take the back off the poor thing and install it at the bottom of the garden, with some old coats hanging inside; you never know!
This is the boys' new (to them) wardrobe. And it does now hold a bit of a surprise. Jo and I worked on it this evening when Mattman was down at BB.  Now that Little Baby Bear has this burgeoning wardrobe, he obviously needs somewhere to keep it. So we made him a...
He seems more than happy, as does Jo. The top shelf is empty, Frances, because it is for hats. And he will be getting a hat very soon. But not yet, because...
Mattman is now completely disgruntled that LBB is getting all this new attire and Ducky still doesn't have his superhero cape. This is a long story. So no hat for LBB until D has his cape, and we will be working on that tomorrow night when Jo will be down at BB. It's the wardrobe week in the Forest. I'll be more than happy to exit portal right on Saturday, I think. Not that all this wardrobing is getting me loser to a cleared To-Do List. But my head is definitely clearer, and I am feeling very ready for Advent. Especially having seen the Christingle candle that Mattman brought home from BB tonight. We'll be letting our light shine in the Forest all week.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Cycle home with Aaron

You may remember me enthusing about a young friend of ours who has been cycling from Istanbul to Belfast. Dormouse was brave and generous enough to take him in after he flew down some Alps! His blog is here, but I am copying his latest facebook itinerary- just in case any kind UK bloggistes should discover that this extraordinary person will be cycling through their land!

"So I've now cycled from Istanbul to Paris.
From here I'll be taking the ferry across the Channel from Dieppe to Brighton,
then roughly going through Guildford,
up along the Welsh border to Liverpool,
on up to Carlisle,
swinging East along Hadrian's wall to Newcastle,
then North again to Edinburgh,
and finally out to Oban,
taking the small ferry from Campbellown to Ballycastle
and down the coast to Belfast!

The question is; would you like to cycle with me for a bit, OR have me sleep on your floor/camp in your garden?

I would love to see as many people as posssible. Especially those who want to go out for a ride!"

If you're on facebook you can find him under Cycle Home with Aaron. You'll be able to contact him there, or we're happy to pass  onany comments left on fraise. Bonne route!

Four course hospitality II

Dear Ang,

When we arrived we stood and sat around the island in the enormous and raftered kitchen drinking all sorts of lovely things. The children ate spaghetti with a homemade sauce that had red peppers and more flavour than my spaghetti sauce has known ever.

When that was all done and cleared away the adults took to the dining room and had:

1. A selection of salad leaves with buffalo mozzarella, pearls of mozzarella, beetroot, and a drizzling of balsamic vinegar.

2. Potage rougemont: an apple soup named after the area in Quebec where the apples grow. A puree of apples, leek, celery, onion, with dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg.  Served with seasoned and warmed tortillas, smeared with homemade hummous.

3. Rack of lamb served with mint sauce- fragrant as anything and freshly made with white wine vinegar- and couscous, green beans, and carrots. It was a small consolation to learn that the couscous was Ainsley Harriott's!  Every little helps...

4. Homemade cheesecake. This was a cheesecake that had been baked in a bain-marie for most of the night. At 2am Marie-Eve had discovered that it wasn't cooking, so stayed up until 5am until it did.  Served with homemade strawberry coulis. The trick in the coulis is to whisk the egg-white first.

Hoping you'll be as speechless as we were!  The thing is, we will obviously now be inviting these cheffy folks back to Strawberry Land, where somehow the standard beef and Guinness casserole might not hit the mark.  So, if you have any ideas about entertaining chic and sophisticated palates- do tell!

This being Stir-up Sunday, I will be making my Christmas Cake- since no-one eats pudding. And I will be signing up to Floss' Pause in Advent. And I will go on salivating at the thought of last night!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Four course hospitality

We're just in from chez Marie-Eve and Isaac. I can highly recommend befriending interesting people in the post office. Especially if they are Quebecers who like to cook. But don't call them French Canadians. That would appear to be a bit of a sore point. More similiarities with us Frozen North folk than I might have imagined!

As a general rule I can highly recommend hospitality in whatever form as a sign of the Kingdom.  When you're a sort of worker cum sort of stay aroundish mum cum former very involved in stuff person, it's a nice way of still feeling connected. Unlike texting, which we have all decided tonight to be too impersonal. But then that could be the gluttony talking. You don't get a four course meal in a text!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Here it comes

Hey, Forest followers. I think I can see a path out of the yellow woods. I might even be ready to take it by next week's end.  It's been nice in here. All these gorgeous wintry skies and stripped back trees.  Wrapping up and moving in the air that tastes good. I walked down to school this afternoon with Alexander (and his mum) and positively envied the way he stuck out his tongue to grasp every cold breath.

Even I can see, however, that the Christmas thing is upon us. I've been gatecrashing other people's parties all day!  This morning Jo's class walked to our area's outdoor Christmas tree for the lighting thereof.  I stopped there on my way home from the supermarket.  Carols, the local ministers, mummies and folk, and a man in red- that was the Mayor in his robes. Santa came at the end. We all stood at the edge of the Lough and cheered when the invisible lights came on. It was such a bright, stark day!

Then this afternoon I drove PC into the city to meet up with colleagues for his first Christmas "lunch" of the season. So we parked early and had a stroll around the Continental Market which is in full annual swing.  Alcohol-frei gluhwein and half an hour of a husband's hand and full attention!

At least later on Cooking Catherine and Queen Niqi came round to prepare for Preparing for Advent. We have just over a week to go!  It was very exciting. We rejigged plans completely and have lists of lists of things to do! So if you're in the greater Belfast area on Saturday 1st December, do come and carve some space for yourself before the Christmas thing takes over- and if you're not, well, all things are possible!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Happy Feasting

Dear American friends,

Who knew when they embarked on their blogging adventure what new lands and adventures and friends were there for the experiencing? Maybe the Pilgrim Fathers felt much the same. I did my best to explain the Thanksgiving story on our walk to school this morning, and tonight we have been engaged in some cultural research.  We have eaten turkey in your honour too! In our listing of things to be thankful for I said I was grateful for my American blog friends who bring such deeply interesting ideas and images, and with them such kindness, right here into Strawberry Land. Thank you, and may your Feast have been fine x

(ps I suppose those sweet potatoes with marshmallows wouldn't travel very well?)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hookery in the Forest

 Dear Queen Niqi and Lorna,

What a lovely surprise to have you both call in tonight!  I'm nearly glad that no-one had showed up at Hookery if it meant having such pleasant company while PC was at band practice.  How fascinating tomorrow morning will be, Lorna- being an extra in an as yet unspecified movie, shot right here in Belfast. I'm glad you chose the black dress; it's the one I liked.

And thanks Niqi for bringing cake. You really are the queen of Hermans!  It's always nicer in the Forest of Toon with friends. And very much nicer with friends who bring cake...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Another letter from the Queen- but this one's real!

Dear Your Majesty,
Thank you very much for your thank you note to Jo which arrived today.  We are all feeling extremely special indeed!  He very much likes the pictures, as well as the lovely words. He wanted to know if you would have put his hand-made stand-up card on your desk. I told him that I was sure that it was right at the front somewhere on a mile-long table in a more than mile-long room in Buckingham Palace with all the other beautiful cards.

Don't worry for one moment about the delay. I for one can sympathise with tardy postage.  I did try to explain to Jo at the time that many, many people would be inspired to write to you because of the Jubillee thing, and I'm sure most of them didn't wait until the day of your Thames trip to do it.  You are most gracious, and we are most impressed.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Paths that cross

 Dear Deborah,

I went to the post office to post your book today,and the most interesting thing happened.  It was so interesting that I have decided that this must have been the reason why I didn't get around to posting you your book for a whole year, and why I'd only been given a few hours in school today, instead of a much more lucrative full timetable.

There was a lady in front of me in the queue. She was very busy with lots of parcels and children, and said that I should go in front of her. Now she was speaking English, but I was sure it was with a French accent. I thanked her and went to the desk, put your envelope on the scales, and told the post mistress that it was for Canada. "Are you Canadian?! asked the lady with the children. "No," I replied, "Are you?"  When she said that she was I was sure that she was French Canadian, but how do you suddenly launch into a probe in the middle of the post office queue?

So she went on- our post office is at the back of the general shop in the village. I sent your parcel on its merry way- maybe you'll get it in time for merry ways?- and then went round a corner to buy some butter. And who should I meet but the Canadian mum?  So, I took a deep breath and asked her if she was indeed French Canadian. Ten minutes later, most of which had been in French, I had discovered that her husband was on secondment to the Belfast factory of the the French Canadian company for which Prince Charming works, that her son is the same age as my younger son, and that she would love to exchange mobile numbers.

So thanks to your most belated winter book, we will all be getting together for coffee chez eux on Saturday afternoon.  You jut never know who you'll bump into in the Forest of Toon!  Here's little reminder of the book. I'm sure you have no memory of it at all!  I'll be watching your wonderful blog now for a review of a scary winter's tale!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Letters to PC IV

Dear PC,

Lookee, lookee! The beach day is nearly ready for release. I'm relieved that we can just make out your head above the double bass. I was becoming sure that they would completely edit out us old folk in the midst of all the beautiful people!  Mind you, part of me is also secretly hoping that they will do exactly that!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Letters to Prince Charming III

Love your work. It's a reformed blind, Ang!! And no, he wasn't standing on the floor...

Making another Roman blind

Dear Rev. Jane,

Thank you so much for inviting us all to spend the weekend with you in your new manse. It is unfortunate that Prince Charming has had to stay home tonight with the strawberries so that they can get to rugby in the morning and then a birthday party too. Sure, they will be down later tomorrow.

I hope you'll not be too disappointed that it's just the two of us until then. That was certainly a very lovely meal in that very lovely restaurant with a pleasingly French name. Very relaxed and unhurried indeed...

I think we're making good progress on your Roman blind. At least we're on to the cutting of the lining now. Lots of time for sewing and cording before PC arrives with the saw and the drill. I must remember to text him about bringing his saw and his drill.

I can't believe I'm visiting you in your first full charge. It seems so little time ago that we met for coffee and you told me about your call and we both despaired. "What will you do?" I asked. "I don't know," you said. But here you are, a woman in what is still a man's world.  Here you are, wise and gentle and full of Him.

Now, maybe it's time for a wee cup of tea before the lining...

Thursday, 15 November 2012

That's politics

Dear Mitt Romney, Gordon Brown and Tom Elliott,

The suns were unsuccessful in their election campaign. They are gutted. I imagine you know how they feel. I find it incredibly wonderful that they came third and second respectively. As Prince Charming often says, however, there's no room on a score card for a story. I'll bet you know how that feels too.

They were particularly disgusted that some candidates were promising sweets to voters who supported them. "That's politics!" I said. "What's politics?" they asked.  So I was wondering if you had any thoughts about that?

We'll be ready next year. Lessons have been learnt.  Apparently content is as important as good intentions. Who knew?  Maybe that only works on school council though. I suspect that real politics might be more about the sweets.

(ps El Perro Blanco- look: six minutes to spare...)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Grand Tour of Australia

Dear Toad, Ratty and Mole,

You have arrived at your last port of call in Australia, and then will be off to your last stop on the Willows' Grand Tour of the Whole World. Can you believe it?

It's so kind of Sarah to have you, what with her house being full of small children. I do hope you're not having rousing parties late at night, or cleaning the house too early in the morning.

It seems like a very long time since you were here. I can't imagine how Pom Pom must be missing you! One of her posts this week was all about you, and also about Badger. I've heard that he is missing you so much he hasn't been seen for months. Completely holed up in the Wild Woods he is.

So maybe it's a good thing that you'll be home relatively soon. You'll have to go straight round and coax him back into the world.  Mind you, I'm holed up in the Forest of Toon this month. Can't come out until my house is in order. Suddenly one month seems very short.

Anyway, have  a great time- you always do!  Your hostesses have been so superlatively generous with their time and ideas and trips to the post office. The blog world is a kind place to be!  You're very lucky to be experiencing it in the flesh. Well, you would be if you had any...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Eureka verification

Dear MK,

Another letter for you, I'm afraid, but I'm really very excited about this. You may have seen the two comments I left about it on your blog. Just in case you didn't...

I have been experimenting with this for a while. I never have my reading glasses at the computer. They're usually upstairs, in the ripple bag, or just languishing somewhere in denial that they're needed at all. The result being that there is absolutely no chance of any chance that I will ever read the word verification things accurately.

Accidentally then I discovered that if you get the letters right, with the proper case as well, you can type in any two numbers you like, and all will be well. I tried it three times tonight alone on your blog.  You may have noticed! Any two numbers you like. I think it helps if you type them with gusto. The swearing at the screen is probably optional.

Now all I need to do is uncover the break in the fraise trees through the which the Russian merchandisers seem to have infiltrated the forest. And also the two forms. Still looking for the two forms; the two forms and Ang's marbles...

It's still today

No, but really- I know that technically it's tomorrow, but I'm still in yesterday's clothes, discussing yesterday's events with Prince Charming and we are still downstairs with jobs to do so it must really be today?

Dear Barack Obama, David Cameron and Sammy Wilson,

I just want you to know that you need to watch your backs. The strawberry suns are running for School Council. Different classes, same steely resolve and passion for change.  Admittedly they're not quite sure what they would change, but then are you?

Obviously you are their main role models in this public sprited thing that they do.  Obviously they have been inspired by your careers, and have decided that this is a Good Thing to Do.  Here are their slogans:

Ensure you are happy in school- vote Mattman (Photo: happy, smiley Mattman on shores of Lough Lomond) ("ensure" one of tonight's P6 spellings...)

Thumbs up for our class- vote Jo. (Photo: Jo leaning casually against tree, Tollymore lake in background, gloved hands giving thumbs up)

I blame you, Sammy Wilson. Coming knocking our front door, all lovely and "vote for me". Coming to their school with Jubilee certificates and all. Supporting their mother's footpath campaign. The only time this mother voted for your party in her life was when she let them fill in her voting slip. Well, actually, she always lets them fill in her voting slip. But only after weeks of driving around discussing all those placards none of you ever remember to come round and take down from the trees...

Manifestos slightly unclear as yet. Has that ever happened to you? Mattman seems to think that negotiation in the playground is the way forward. Jo is not entirely sure what he'll say in his speech tomorrow, but I suspect he'll be relying on that head of shockingly blond hair and disarming smile- it seems to have worked for Boris Johnson.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Oh blow!

Oh blow, there we go. Missed a day yesterday, and didn't even realise until this morning.  This is typical fraise commitment.
Yesterday went in a rush of lovely November. I stayed in bed until Prince Charming could bear the inaction no more. We took a picnic to the climbing wall and climbed for hours. Well, they climbed for hours. Then last night I went out with my two of my fabulous P6 mummy friends.  2Taps in Belfast. Impeccable.
So there you are. I am absolutely no further towards finding my way out of the forest, and am actually in a particularly dense thicket, with less than a day to escape it. But if I could only find those two forms...

Friday, 9 November 2012

Bathrooms, blankets and bears

 Dear Gail,

Oh but I missed you this week!  Your new blanket is finally in a Hookery post, but I also wanted to tell you that I too have finished a project- and what's more, this one happened in just one evening!  We went to B&Q tonight, you see, to buy a bathroom, as you do.  We didn't, as it happened.  I promised the boys, not so much as a bribe exactly, that they could buy one small Christmas decoration.  Yes, I know I ban the discussing of Christmas until the 1st of December, but this was Bored & Questless.

Now I presumed that Jo was choosing the strange pair of hanging boots out of sheer desperation. I was feeling much the same. In fact, he had in mind Little Baby Bear. And we all know what Little Baby Bear would need to go with his Christmas boots, don't we?
Job done. Not at all as impressive as your new blanket.  Unless you're eight!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The New President

Dear Michael Yon,
I have no idea who you are, having merely laughed out long and loud at your viral facebook post. Without any permission from you I am copying it here for my American friends. I am sincerely hoping that they will laugh too....

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.
Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.' Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of '-ize.'


3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.


5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.


7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.


8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.


11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.


13.. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.


14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

PS: Only share this with friends who have a good sense of humour (NOT humor)!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Dear Dormouse,

Thank you for your lovely thank you!  Last Lent I promised to send a Rend CD to someone who answered a question or solved some conundrum or fulfilled a quest or scaled a mountain or something. I don't recall much, except that it was you and that I subsequently and characteristically did absolutely nothing about it!

This was one of the many, many reasons why I decided to stay in the Forest this month. There is a definite need for me to stay quietly in one place, where there is cake, and not emerge until all muddle has been resolved.  Do you read E. M. Forster? In all the works I have read there is always a muddle of some description.  Much emotional tangle and upset. I'm fond of E. M. Forster...

So I am most glad to have despatched the CD! It was the first on a long list of things that I really must send, and send soon.  I noticed today that Rend have some songs on this year's Soul Survivor Live CD.  Just in case that might be as interesting to you as it is to me on a possible Christmas shopping list!  Although I notice the free delivery is only within the UK, and you are beautifully en France!

I like your blogs very much. I can link to the delicious foodie one, but not to View from the Teapot which will not load for me at all tonight. This is not good!  I like the snapshots that you give of a happy life in a beautiful country. I think it must reflect a very happy, beautiful soul.  In fact, I think that you should really be Dear Dormouse all the time!

I'm also very glad that you are doing the Grow Your Blog thing in January.  I signed up too. Isn't it that a strange and disconcerting side to blogging?  I have carelessly lost followers over the last two weeks, and fully expect that by the end of this mad forest month there will be only the six of you left. And that would be very nice.  But nonetheless, that's not really how my alter-blogging-ego feels.  The one lurking in the shadows tempted by numbers!

Mind you, I lose things all the time. Usually car keys and phone. Marbles, mind, that sort of thing. I think you are very wise to live in a teapot. Not too much space to mislay things there!  Thank you again for your lovely words.  It is indeed a great pleasure to make new and real friends in such an ethereal environment as this.  Maybe we will indeed meet some day soon in the house on the hill. I'd like to hear more about that quite soon.

Until then, Dear Dormouse,

Bon appetit, x

Monday, 5 November 2012

Greatitudes 648 - 671

 Dear Father of me and them and all,

Thank you for the last two months.  We have all had a very manageable and relaxed start to the school year.  We've seen two confident, happy boys around the house. We've played piano and violin and danced loudly to Katy Perry. We've heard enthusiastic tales of rugby and basketball and climbing. Goodness, thak you for the climbing. I am deeply grateful for the ordinary, not quite everyday joy of all that.
Thank you for our time off all together last week, and oh my, thank you for how much I loved lying on in bed without having to chivvy out to school, or wonder if I'd be in school myself.  Oh to know that I didn't have to wash my hair before lunch, or dinner, or maybe the next day! I couldn't believe how much I loved just being in bed: warm, and cosy and still!  Thank you for boys who are old enough to make their own breakfast....
Thank you for all the work you have given me this year. Thank you for how much that helps.  Not just financially, although that is great, but thank you for the getting back out into the world. Especially for my Managers' French class. I am very much enjoying work at that level again.  You do provide, and provide abundantly.
Thank you for my daily bread today. And for the soup and scones and coffee and tea and friends and crochet and chat.  Thank you for Catherine's hospitality and gorgeous ripple, with inspirational edging, and for Lorna's boots!  Maybe I'll finish my ripple one day too!  Thank you for things done and undone and even unthought of. You think of it all, and make it all beautiful, in your time. Thank you x

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Plans for a Cosy Monday Morning

Dear Animals,

Who is celebrating their birthday today?

If no one is, then who would like to have an early birthday?

If no one would like that, then who wants to celebrate something else and invite me for cake and tart?

If no one wants to do that either, then who wants to bake a cake (with honey and cream and sweet jelly and melted sugar) and to ask me to come around and eat it up?

If no one wants to do that, what then?

Help me.

The Bear

"Dear Animals"  Letters to Anyone and Everyone  Toon Tellegen

Tomorrow I will definitely be not working. The lovely very local little school that gives me work is having a staff training day and I am free to roam the Forest of Toon.  We are all thus gathering at Crafting Catherine's place for cake and tart, and hopefully some sock knitting.  Some sock knitting learning.  There may be pictures. Tomorrow.

Saturday, 3 November 2012


Dear MK,

This is Toon Tellegen. A few seasons ago I went to our library to choose some books for and with the strawberries.  While they were looking at Horrible Histories, Livid Legends and other such things, I stumbled across Letters to Anyone and Everyone. A week later I had my own copy, with The Squirrel's Birthday and Other Parties coming that Christmas from my brother. I'm hoping that a Prince Charming of my acquaintance will be delivering Far Away Across the Sea this year!

They are children's stories, made up for his daughter, then written down when she grew up. Tellegen is, apparently, a prolific writer of many genres, but I think I've found my favourite right here.  Only yesterday did I read any of the stories to the strawberries- usually I guard them zealously beside my bed where I read and chuckle and smile.  I did use "The Stranger who Crosses the River" in  a children's talk last year.

I think you would love these stories very much. They would be perfect for you, if you had a little lethargic moment sitting with your feet up beside the fire, taking a break from your own writing and crocheting and music and chores.  You too would volunteer to dance with Elephant, eat sweet beech nuts with Squirrel and Ant, and ponder the existence of the Stranger who makes the river flood in Winter.  Mostly you too would bask in the warmth of the words and the subtle irony. And you would love the cakes and parties; oh, so many cakes and parties...

The Forest of Toon is no bad place to start the Winter!

Friday, 2 November 2012


The squirrel sat at his table. He wanted to write a letter but he didn't know who to. He made a start by writing: Dear

"Dear Letter"  Letters to Anyone and Everyone   Toon Tellegen

Folks, I have decided to hang around the Forest of Toon for the rest of the month. Betty talked about how she likes to look for den places to spend the night, but actually Squirrel says I can stay with him if I help with furniture reconstruction, so I said I'd have a go.

Just so I don't forget about the real world though I thought I could write you a letter every day. Inspired, obviously, by Left-Handed Housewife's whole month of blogging last November.  Since it's a letter you don't have to reply.  But if you do you'd better dress it up in hat and gloves before you send it into the woods. ("One Winter's Day")

We all went out today to winterproof the family, so no lack of hats and gloves and long johns and flannel sheets and fleece things here. I will confess to having read lots and lots and lots of Tellegen to anyone who was listening in the car in a vain attempt to stave off sibling ribling.  (Ang, we survived our trip away with your rainbow game! Do you know how hard it is to spot someone in a yellow jacket on deserted mountian roads? Not a hi-vis cyclist in sight!)

I looked back at last November, which was full of Ang's Top Tips for Christmas, Pom Pom's Child-Like Christmas, Preparing for Advent with Cooking Catherine and moi, Floss' Pause in Advent, Belfast hosting MTV, Frances' daily doses of inspiration, and Ang's first visit to Strawberry Land. Goodness, that was one fabulous month!  I ambitiously stated that I would own stripey tights, start a ripple blanket, do that year's Preparing for Advent, and think of a reward for Frances. I only missed one of the above, and seem to have rectified that this very week.

But anyway. This year I'm just going to spend November in the Forest of Toon.  Without the tights- never a good idea to buy tights for 14 year-old girls, unless you are a 14 year-old girl. No matter what the urgent occasion...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The yellow wood

We went to our special mountain place for a few days last weekend, but I got a bit lost in the yellow woods.  I was still looking for the road less travelled, while actually deciding that I'd like a bit of main thoroughfare for a while.  Maybe that's why I couldn't take  a clear picture!

So I thought that if I was going to be lost for a while it would have to be in the forest of Toon. Squirrel and Ant know where I am.  We are discussing weighty concerns, except when I'm having a moonlit dance with Elephant or telling the Salmon what I know about the Stranger who crosses the River.

This is just a little letter from the woods to say that I'm perfectly happy in here, and will probably come out soon. In time for school next week. Maybe. If the cakes run out before then...

Happy St Patrick's Day!

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