Saving Private Tiggy-Winkle

Once upon a time…

As I collected my washing from the washing line, a hedgehog paused at my feet and rested next to a peg on the ground.  Mrs Tiggy-Winkle had come to help me with the washing.  I rushed to collect my camera, hoping that she would wait for me to return.

Hurray!  Mrs Tiggy-Winkle waited for me to capture the moment.  I couldn’t wait to send out the image via Twitter and Facebook.  My husband downloaded the image whilst I searched for an extract from one of Beatrix Potter’s books. The photo was saved in a folder labelled ‘Home Hedgehog’, because she was our hedgehog. Having constructed the post, I pressed send and we raised a glass to our hedgehog.

As expected the notifications and re-tweets followed.  Jenn Bregman said, ‘Sooooo cute!!’.  Angela Petch remarked, ‘Eat those slugs Mrs Tiggy-Winkle…’  The hedgehog charmed everyone.  Author, Jacqueline Kirk, asked, ‘Was the hedgehog out in daylight?’ Pondering this, I knew something was wrong.  Jacqueline tweeted more information. ‘#WildlifeOrphan1 says they are in trouble if out in daylight. The little fella looks small.’

Reality started to kick in, I realised that this wasn’t Mrs Tiggy-Winkle: it was either Ms or Mr Tiggy-Winkle.  Returning to my prized photo, I noticed that he/she was indeed a tiny, fluffy creature.  As my grandmother would have said, he/she is ‘nowt but a bairn’. Should he/she have been out at that time of day?

Jacqueline Kirk sent out a Code Red asking for advice.  I worried all night about the little hedgehog.  The Hedgehog Helpline didn’t answer my call. The following morning, I had a brainwave and contacted John Jackson, author of, ‘Heart of Stone, and hedgehog whisperer. Thankfully, the lovely man messaged me instantly.

‘That’s early, but not exceptional. We’ve had the hedgehogs out before sunset many times.’

Phew! Feeling better, I made myself a cup of tea and then called the Hedgehog Helpline again.  The wonderful woman was so calm and grateful for the call.  Her words echoed those of The Hedgehog Whisperer.  However, I can call the helpline again if the hog appears and they will assess his/her behaviour.  I may have to take my little hog to Hedgehog Hospital.  I didn’t know that these wonderful people existed.  Thank you, Hedgehog Helpline SEW, John Jackson and Jacqueline Kirk!

I will end with Jacqueline Kirk’s tweet:

That’s the beauty of twitter. I only found this out last week and now a little hog on the other side of the country has a kind person looking out for them.

And I hope that the hedgehog lives happily ever after!

 

Please see all of my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

Peeking Inside the Book Blogger’s Bag

Dr Carol Cooper has interviewed me about blogging and writing. it was fun to be answering someone else’s questions for once. Read it here at:

Peeking Inside the Book Blogger’s Bag

 

 

I have sent this out again as the ‘re-blogging’ function didn’t work properly.

 

Scrooge Alive and Miserable at Tredegar House

A golden gateway to a Victorian Christmas framed the Tredegar House, located in Newport.  The walls surrounding the 17th century mansion concealed Christmas trees, decorations, presents and an odious gentleman.  “Bah,” said the angry gentleman, wearing a white nightgown and cap.

Scrooge sat in Tredegar House counting gold, and bringing a distinct chill to the room. The embers in the fire did not warm Scrooge’s welcome. He stared, in disgust, at his guests and did his best to make them feel unwelcome.

“I hate Christmas! There’s no point in all that nonsense,” sneered Scrooge at the suspicious children passing by.

A young boy stamped his foot on the oak floor.  “I like Christmas.  I’m getting a new bike,” declared the fair-haired boy.  He looked up at his father for reassurance.

Scrooge placed his arms lovingly around his piles of gold. ‘Humbug!’ he repeated constantly in his ‘grating voice’.

I heard the guests’ ‘laughter and good humour’, and this melted the frosty reception of Scrooge.  I heard parents retelling A Christmas Carol and explaining the character of Scrooge.  It was wonderful to observe literature brought to life through this interactive approach.

A child, called Beth, joined in the fun and declared, “Bah, humbug” to all the members of staff positioned in each room.  A toddler playing with a wooden train set, in the nursery, was reluctant to return it.  The cook invited everyone to stir the Christmas pudding, as she explained the glorious Christmas feast the family would have enjoyed. The quantities of food consumed in the grand house did make me wonder how that would have contrasted with the average Victorian Christmas. But the thought didn’t linger too long, because I was distracted by the sight dark-haired fellow, pacing up and down the court yard.  Later, I saw the gentleman at the writing desk. I peered in his notebook and it said, ‘Scrooge to honour Christmas’.

Many thanks to the National Trust, staff and volunteers for organising the festive experience.  Archways, gates, gardens and rooms were decked with Christmas cheer.  Not even Scrooge could freeze the glorious atmosphere at Tredegar House.

Following the visit, I decided it was time to decorate my own home.  I confess I watched Miracle on 34th Street, as I decorated each Christmas tree. I heard Valentine Davies say:

“Well, this is the Imagination. And once you get there you can do almost anything you want.”

I do hope the children visiting Scrooge found their imagination in that cold room, and will tell the story of their experience.

 

Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

The trouble with my handbag adventures

Connecting with the virtual world of WordPress, Twitter and Facebook has encouraged me to find a message in the ordinary world around us.  I am always looking for photograph opportunities to support a tweet, Facebook post or blog. My mind is constantly buzzing with ideas and it’s great. These adventures can result in some fulfilling interactions in the real world, but my photographing adventures can also get me in into trouble.

On the whole people are very accommodating and let me take photographs of their shops, museums, pubs, gardens, houses etc.  For instance, the porters on The Grand Hotel, in Brighton, were happy to let me capture the glamorous setting with my camera. I needed the photographs for Ally Bunbury’s book review and interview.  The helpful porters even cleared some luggage to enhance the shot.  Later that day, a kind gentleman pointed out various signs for me to capture in his grocer’s shop, but I did get a little suspicious when one of the signs read: ‘New husband for sale’.

During my adventures, I have learned to smile at the museum curators and carry on.  Unfortunately, I was chastised for photographing Churchill’s writing desk. Though, I was delighted to be informed that Churchills would ‘fight me on the beaches’ if I dared to take photos.  Another curator pretended not to see me taking a view of the garden from the window.  One antique shop owner looked at me suspiciously when I declared, ‘I need pictures of old spades etc to display as murder weapons.’  I intended to use these in a murder story lark developed, on Facebook, with Angela Petch and Patricia Stoner.  On this occasion, I didn’t use the photos but they will be useful at some stage.

Walking through the Beacons, I decided to write a blog about the inspiring environment.  I spied an opportunity to throw a stone in the water to represent a big splash.  The splash would represent a thought or an idea.  Unfortunately, I was chased away from the lake by the people who were fishing for trout.   I did ask if they would like me to ‘sling my hook’ but they weren’t amused.

Sue Moorcroft’s ‘Just for the Holidays’ got me into the most trouble.  I required some images of holiday items as mine weren’t glamorous enough for a friend of Leah.  While shopping in a supermarket, I saw lots of holiday goodies. Bingo! I set to work removing the various items, placing them in better light and clicking my camera phone.  The Canadian security guard was not impressed with me and said, ‘Ma’am, would you please follow me?’  I followed him.  Disappointingly, I was led to his security post and not his horse.  He was very polite and soon accepted my explanation.

The most frightening experience occurred when I was taking a photo of a street sign for Muddles Green.  That day, I was in a muddle with editing so the sign was perfect.  I stood in the middle of the quiet country lane to snap the image.  A motorbike almost ploughed into me as it raced around the corner. It was worth it when lots of authors connected with the message.

Not everyone can connect with my adventures.  I asked shop owner if I could place Jan Ellis’s The Bookshop Detective’ in his window display and then take a photograph.  Sadly, he wouldn’t allow it as he was concerned that there would be breakages.  How did he know that I am clumsy?  Maybe, he thought that I was the detective and wanted to get inside of the window display.

It is great fun to think about representing my adventures through social media. It is a bonus that my everyday experiences and thoughts mean something to like-minded people out there in the world.  My handbag adventures have enabled me to connect with a wealth of creative people who challenge and inspire me.  These connections wouldn’t have happened without social media, and now I am exploring how I can further develop some creative collaborations.  I am looking forward to working with Jenni Lopez from @TheJennieration.  

 

More of my adventures can be found at Handbag Adventures and see my blog at jessiecahalin.com 

Book dust and the curious world of ‘Book-ish’

It was like opening a book jacket into a giant book, when I opened the door into ‘Book-ish’, located in Crickhowell.  I looked up at the words ‘Book Dust’ above the shop door and let it settle on me.

I was Alice in Wonderland, as I explored the various rooms; and it became ‘curiouser and curiouser’.  Besides the books, treasures greeted me in every nook and cranny.  There were: cards, bags, soft toys, baubles, ornaments, but no sign of Captain Hook.

Passing through magical corridor from the main bookshop, I heard a little boy saying, “Wow!” to his mother, as they followed a staircase down into the children’s section.

And I hope that the little boy managed to find Harry Potter under the stairs, or perhaps he found some ‘read me labels’. Beyond the magical corridor, I was greeted with the aroma of coffee, alas there were no seats.

A gentleman, wearing a white shirt and waistcoat, looked up from his book. “Oh dear!” he declared. “I think there’s more seating upstairs.” he muttered, into his book.

Upstairs, there was a beautiful loft with a picture window framing a view of the Brecon Beacons, and plenty of seating.  A selection of wine was on display behind the bar that was decorated with lots of books. Various word and book games were scattered around for the customers to enjoy.  Clearly, this bookshop has been set up by a true book lover who values time to read, chat and eat. The ‘Book-ish’ cake menu has been designed to tempt the reader to stay. I chose The Queen of Hearts’ Bakewell Tarts. ‘Book-ish’ is a haven from the chaotic pace of modern life and a bibliophile’s dream.

I was writing for some time and taking pictures of the treasures, but no one asked questions.  I had entered a world of like-minded bookworms.  It felt as if I had travelled into cyberspace to meet my virtual friends.  Indeed, I was delighted that Sara Gethin’s book, ‘Not Thomas’ was there to keep me company.  The bookshop also hosts events in the loft space, and I couldn’t help wondering if Heidi also lives up there too.  I did find out that ‘The Snowman’ will be brought to life in the bookshop by Looby Lou.  I stayed in the shop for some time and imagined hosting a Books in Handbag meeting. I visualised bags and bags of books like a stairway to Heidi’s star filled sky.

I purchased a book entitled ‘Kindness: the little thing that matters the most’, by Jaimie Thurston. Indeed, the bookshop owner is spreading kindness to her customers by providing a reading space and not limiting time in the shop.  My Twitter and Facebook friends will understand my delight when I was handed my treasure in a brown bag that read, ‘BOOKS ARE MY BAG.’ I also discovered that the bookshop opened in the same month I launched my Books in my Handbag Blog.

Closing the door on the Bookish Narnia, I felt happy that I would return before the ‘Book Dust’ settles.  In the meantime, I must spread the word amongst my bookish community. Please don’t be late for this ‘very important date’ at ‘Book-ish’: a feast for the bookworm’s senses!

‘Sharing good news spreads positivity, changes attitudes and ultimately leads to more people feeling happy and encouraged.’

Kindness: the little thing that matters the most’, by Jaimie Thurston

 

Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.