Saturday, 19 December 2020

Laterne, Laterne....

 ...is the very obvious title for this blogpost, words taken from a well-known German nursery rhyme. As those who have read my Christmas blogs before will know, I like to have some appropriately seasonal music along with the writing.   Sadly this particular song is deeply uninspiring.  

In fact lanterns do not seem to have inspired much in the way of song. There's this - which I have never thought of as a lantern song, but the pictures belie that - apologies for the earworm.....

(In the olden days, before Ghastly New Blogger, you would have had here a pretty picture leading you to the video - now it requires many hours of work to achieve this so the link-clicking is left to you. My apologies)

So why Laterne anyway?  In this strangest of years, despite in theory having had much time on my hands both in the UK up to August and then over here in the Czech Republic where I am comfortably ensconced for now, I have been deeply uninspired to create anything for Small Worlds.   The museum was open from mid-June, thanks to the efforts of friends over here who got things going and the museum staffed, so that I was able to take over when I arrived in August.   In terms of visitors it has been a stunning year, probably because many people stayed in the country rather than holidaying abroad, but in terms of creation and blogposts, zilch from me.

But delightful as the summer window, installed by Ondrej and Jana, was, my pride would not allow me to leave it in situ over Christmas. 

However, there was a problem in the workrooms of no space to work in - when they removed last year's Christmas window I told them to just deposit stuff wherever there was a hole, and they did. Added to which health problems meant that when I had left in October 2019 I had barely managed to produce that window, let alone clear up after myself.  

And my legs are even less cooperative now.  So I desperately needed something this year that I could create with minimum movement, effort, and space.

And then a light dawned.  We own many lanterns - we love candles in all shapes and sizes, and even more so when inside a pretty lantern. And what is the inside of a lantern but a tiny space into which one can insert a miniature scene? Sorted!




Add to the lanterns two flea-market stands and a vast collection of Christmas objects, including the amazing children who have featured in every display over many years (click here for proof of their versatility), it must be possible to produce a window display.  


And Butterfly, though here, is occupied with her own projects but she would surely put in the window with me, something my legs will not allow me to do alone at present.

And lo! So it came to pass.  I have no intention of struggling with new, unfamiliar and uncooperative,  Ghastly New Blogger (henceforth to be known as GNB) so most of the rest of this post will be photos without text - the processes are self-explanatory.  It comes, as ever, with warm good wishes for a peaceful Christmas and many hopes for a somewhat more normal 2021.













This little room has been "borrowed" from a box created by my daughter-in-law, Laura, some seventeen years ago and features my lovely grand-daughter, Anya,  as she then was - at that time catless!

And the children take centre-stage on their very own stand - some strange sort of water-lily feature, another flea-market find.....





And so to the window display in position - as usual apologies that the photos are not super-clear, window glass and reflections are not helpful when trying to take pictures from outside, but at least Butterfly does better than I do.

Is he at the top of the ski-jump or shouting "Let me out!"?






I hope you have enjoyed these glimpses by lantern-light and I sign off with the traditional Christmas greeting and a light (!) musical fantasia. (I managed to upload one video.) 

All good wishes for the festive season and the coming year!


#newbloggersucks

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Brave new world?

It's a very long time since I have sat down at my laptop to write a blogpost and in that time not only has the world changed around us, but blogger has created a whole new set up to struggle through just to make our lives even more difficult when trying to write a post.

At the moment I am marooned in the United Kingdom where I find myself disbelieving everything that our political leaders are spouting, and looking with envy at the steady progress that the Czech Republic has made towards emerging safely from this terrifying pandemic.   I have been particularly moved by the Czech video shared, what now seems like months ago, with the world.

Sadly, the much vaunted (by our Prime Minister) "great British common sense" has not opted to go down this route, until now, far too late of course, like everything that has been done here.

Be that as it may, it seems unlikely that I will find myself in the comforting surroundings of my own small world in the near future.  I hope to arrange for the museum to open, in the care of my young helper Pavla, in early July when the Czech summer holidays begin - watch this website for further information.

In the meantime, I was acutely aware that the Small Worlds' window still displayed Christmas scenes so I was delighted when friends from Prague asked if they could borrow my house for the weekend.  "The Hedgehogs" as they are fondly known to us (a translation of their surname) are very familiar with Small Worlds.

Jana is responsible for translating all of the information labels on the houses...





..... and Ondrej's height, and skill with DIY tools, has been of great help on many occasions. 

So I had no hesitation in asking them to remove Christmas from the window and to replace it with something a bit more suitable.  Since I had to guide them from afar in this enterprise, it needed to be a relatively simple change so all of my more elaborate plans are hanging fire for the moment.  Who knows when they can be carried out?

At first I thought I would ask them to move Colin Rose's beautiful Czech house into the window, and to spread some farm animals around it...
...but then I realised it would be a shame to take it out of the display and also that this would be quite similar to last summer's window.  (I see I had considered Colin's house for the window that time too - one day Colin!)

It was a matter of finding some houses that would not disrupt any of the current display, nor require them to hunt in The Stables, the workrooms which I had abandoned in a state of chaos when I left in something of a hurry last October, following my mini-heart attack.

I remembered that I had, almost casually, collected over the past few years three houses made by the British maker Gee Bee (in my head I always call the trio the Bee Gees - a nice excuse for an appropriate song for the times!)


Rebecca Green, the editor of the Dolls Houses Past and Present magazine which can be found on the newly recreated DHPP website has written a very comprehensive article on this manufacturer which is well worth delving into for dolls house enthusiasts. Very comprehensive!

I can't say that I am particularly smitten by this maker. One of the two "The Beeches" was part of the Essex haul. I already had one version of The Beeches stored in my garage which someone probably offered to me - I never look a gift house in the mouth (sorry, bad joke).


The third one, totally different in that it is what I think of as 1960s chalet-style, I remember buying on ebay during one of my sporadic searches for my long lost childhood dolls house, which sadly remains unfound.....

I played my normal ebay game with it when it is something too large to post:  "If it is within close driving distance I will bid on it".  This was in Ware, just up the A10 from us so I had no excuse, did I?

All three houses were now right at the top of the shelves in the museum so nothing had to be rearranged.  However I decided against putting both Beeches in the window..... 


......and opted instead for the Ikea kitchen which sits tucked in a corner and is usually overlooked by visitors.



I call it the Ikea kitchen because it is housed in a container from Ikea which is intended for cactus cultivation.  However these little glasshouses make perfect room boxes for collectors. Sadly Ikea not longer makes them (the new one is not nearly as useful to us, though if you search online you can see people have used them thus) but the old ones are around at car boot sales and well worth keeping an eye out for.

old style
new style
The kitchen in the box is, apart from the cooker and dresser, mainly one of those wooden kits that you press out. Very basic but quite pleasing when carefully surrounded by interesting accessories 

 I left the window arrangement to the Hedgehogs and, after having to paint some more sky backdrop, this is what they came up with.  All the photos were taken after things were in position, hence some unwanted reflections, but I am very happy with the new display and much relieved that Christmas has departed for yet another year!






Thank you Jana and Ondrej.....I hope I can see it soon in real life!
 



Saturday, 21 December 2019

Curtain Up!

They say that Christmas is a time to revisit one's childhood and I think it is never too late to do just that - to try to recapture that magical feeling as you hear someone creeping in to fill your stocking, or when you catch your first sight of the giant tree sparkling with lametta, and glowing with candles, and realise that there are large packages waiting just for you....

Maybe even a dolls house? 
Cestina aged 4
Even 102 is not too late to relive some of the fun of Christmas! My friend Rose remembers sticking paper chains with flour and water, and remembers too that they fell down as soon as the room got warm and the "glue" dried out!  Less falling down for this modern version...



And we haven't just been making paper chains in this run up to Christmas.   Whilst burrowing under Rose's stairs recently I found the Usborne theatre that I had given her a couple of years ago which for some reason or other we had never got around to putting together.   I had completely forgotten its existence.

With last week's blogpost entitled "That's Entertainment", and with a follow-up post due this Saturday, there seemed no better time to construct it than now.

After all, as we know from the very first adult film I was ever taken to see, aged 8 - Annie Get Your Gun -"There's no Business like Show Business!"


(My first crush came then too - on Howard Keel singing "My defences are down").

The Usborne theatre was a delight to put together, as easy as the house..... 
....we made a few years ago, and we are now ready to perform both The Nutcracker Suite and even A Midsummer Night's Dream to anyone willing to come and sit through them....









Back to Bavorov now for Curtain Up in the "big" theatre in the window.

I have discovered that old Advent calendars make useful theatre backdrops and they fit very well in the transformed charity shop puppet theatre.  

When I first thought of this project I planned to use an Edwardian street scene Advent calendar as the backdrop...
...and rapidly gathered together as many props as I could find to add to the illusion.  
But for some reason that I cannot now remember I went off the idea and settled on a German Christmas market instead. 

(My change of heart probably had something to do with the availability of suitably clad dolls for the street scene since sewing costumes is not something that I can do...)

Once again my trusty carolling dolls were called into action - I think they have appeared in every Christmas blog I have written since 2012, including their starring role in the Winter Songfeast post of 2015.

There was some jockeying for position... 

but the whole scene came together very rapidly... 



....and the big reveal happened, thanks to my friend Jana, (since I am now back in the UK) in Bavorov on the last day of November, just in time for the Advent Farmers' Market.
from this....
...to this...


Of course no Christmas Market can be complete without accompanying music, preferably brass, so I hope you can take a break from your preparations to enjoy a new discovery for me, the Michel Rondeau Brass Quartet with a delightful selection of carols...


And finally I leave you with all good wishes for a joyous Christmas and a peaceful New Year from Small Worlds
(accompanied by some more seasonal music...)