Thursday 17 December 2015

Giving Annuals and Yearbooks as gifts: a Christmas tradition

I remember as a child looking forward to receiving an annual book at Christmas. I think my favourites were from Twinkle closely followed by my beloved My Little Pony. I also loved reading my brother's annuals from the Beano and Dandy. Reading about Dennis the Menace and Desperate Dan's exploits became an important part of my Christmas. I'm not sure if my brother was as keen on reading Twinkle...he might have had a sneaky peek when noone was looking.

I bought these Tiger Tim Annuals at a jumble sale a little while ago. One dates from 1924 and the other from 1954. It goes to show that giving Annuals as a gift at Christmas is nothing new.

tiger tim, annual, gift, chiristmas, tradition, 1924, front cover

tiger tim, annual, christmas, 1954, tradition, gift, yearbook, festive

It's amazing to think that over 90 years ago a child unwrapped the 1924 annual on Christmas Day morning. Because I purchased the two Annuals together at the jumble sale, they may have come from the same house. So there's a possibility the 1924 child grew up and maybe had a child of their own. In a bid to instill a love for Tiger Tim, they may have bought the 1954 Annual for their offspring. When you're a collector of vintage items, you often can't be sure of the back story, but I like to think this scenario could have been a possibility. After all, that's how most Christmas traditions are kept alive, by family members passing them down through the generations.

I think getting an Annual as a gift was seen as a special event for most children. You would see and read things in these books that didn't appear in the weekly comic. There was also something lovely about holding a hard backed version of your favourite comic too.

The 1924 Tiger Tim Annual is still bearing up pretty well, despite its age. I particularly like the colour illustrated plates dotted through the book. This endearing image of three children dressed as rabbits on their way to the Bunnies Ball in the snow is really lovely. I would love to have this as a framed print, but I would never tear a page out of this Annual!

tiger tim, annual, colour plate, illustration, snow, bunnies, bunnies ball

Most of the characters who appear in the Tiger Tim Annual are way before my time. But I'm sure children of that era loved "Peter and Olliboo" and the "Brownie Boys" to name just a couple...I'm sure they were the Peppa Pig or Bob the Builder of their day.

brownie boys, tiger tim, annual, 1924, gift, christmas, festive, tradition

peter, olliboo, tiger tim, annual, gift, christmas, tradition

The other thing I love about these vintage annuals is the adverts on the back and inside the book. There is one for Green's cake mix and Green's is still going strong today. There is also a Cadburys Car Race for children to play in the back of the Annual.

green's sponge mixture, advert, 1924, tiger tim, annual, back cover

cadburys car race, tiger tim, annual, christmas, gift

There is also an advert for the weekly "Playbox" and "Rainbow" comic books. The publisher obviously needed to engage young readers in Tiger Tim's adventures on a more regular basis.

playbox, rainbow, comic, advert, tiger tim, annual, christmas, 1924, sonny bear

Finally I love the little letter from Tiger Tim to his readers. I believe that Fleetway House on Farringdon Street in London has been a centre for book and magazine publishing for many decades.

Even in our technology saturated world, you can still buy annuals featuring today's generation of favourite characters. A quick search online reveals that most major retailers have Annuals in stock this year. I have seen Annuals for Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly, Match Football and even Strictly Come Dancing. It goes to show that some Christmas Traditions never go out of date...

This week I'm linking up with:

Share with Me over on

Pick 'N' Mix over on and

Wednesday 9 December 2015

December on the Allotment: wonky parsnips

Way back in March I had this idea that I wanted to eat homegrown parsnips on Christmas Day. In the world of allotments you have to plan what you want to eat months before you actually get to eat a certain vegetable. I visited a local plant nursery and bought myself some parsnip seedlings. I didn't expect these tiny plants to grow into these incredibly wonky parsnips...

our first crop of allotment grown, wonky parsnips

I planted them out in a raised bed in March. They looked so tiny, that I thought the slugs and snails would devour them overnight. As a precaution, I covered the surrounding soil with broken egg shells to deter the munching molluscs. Apart from watering them, they have just been left to get on with it. Nine months later and they are still there, uneaten by the bugs. So on Saturday we made a trip to the allotment to harvest them with Magoo.

December, Allotment, wonky parsnips, parsnips, root vegetables, growing, muddy, plot

Now I know people who are experts at growing vegetables will be horrified by my curly parsnips. On reflection, I think they should not have been grown in a raised bed. We didn't prepare the soil very well in our raised beds this year. I know that when root veg hit something hard like a stone, they grow away from it and end up twisted.

enjoying harvesting our first crop of parsnips from the allotment raised beds

A few weeks ago I was watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's War on Waste. They highlighted the mountains of vegetables rejected by supermarkets because they aren't 'perfect'. In particular, they visited a farmer who grew parsnips. This particular Norfolk farm had to bin 20 tonnes of freshly dug parsnips because they were deemed 'wonky'.

I think if a supermarket buyer saw my parsnips, they would pass out. We've all been trained by the supermarkets to expect our veg to be free from mud and perfectly formed. Some of the things we grow on our allotment are pretty odd looking, but shouldn't it be more about what things taste like?

harvesting our wonky parsnips from the allotment in december

I haven't been put off growing parsnips. In fact, I will definitely be planting more next March. This time we will dig a deeper trench in the main beds of the allotment. This will give the parsnips a chance to grow bigger. I'm not bothered about the shape of them, but it would be nice to have some larger ones.

Having said all that, I am proud of my first crop of parsnips. We roasted them last Sunday and ate them with some slow cooked beef. And do you know what? They tasted bloomin' delicious.

harvesting our wonky parsnips from the allotment in time from Christmas dinner

This week I am linking up with these lovely blogs:

Whatever the weather hosted by and

Country Kids over on the lovely Coombe Mill blog

Let Kids Be Kids over on

How Does Your Garden Grow? over on

Mammsaurus HDYGG

Thursday 3 December 2015

Children's Craft Project: Autumn Leaves Jar Lantern

Magoo made this pretty lantern whilst on a school trip to Wildspace near Bristol. The children were asked to collect fallen Autumn leaves from the woodland. We then went back to the education room to use the leaves. I volunteered to help on the school trip and saw the lanterns being made. I wanted to share them with you...

The children were asked to take a piece of double sided tape and stick it around an empty glass jar in a spiral motion. Once the backing tape was removed, it left a sticky surface for the children to attach the leaves to the jar. Once they had squeezed on as many leaves as they felt happy with, the adults added the wired twine. I think it may be called Bindwire and used by florists. I found some here from The adults twisted the twine to create a handle for the lantern.

The children loved making the lanterns and took them home at the end of the day. I think they look very appealing once they have a candle glowing inside.

What you will need:

Clean, empty glass jar

Wired kraft paper twine or Bindwire

Double sided tape

Tea light candles

Magoo and I added some Hydrangea petals to our jar once we were home. In the Autumn the Hydrangeas in our garden turn a beautiful maroon shade. we couldn't resist adding them in amongst the leaves.

I'm linking up with Trash to Treasure (#Trash2Treasure) over on

Let Kids be Kids over on

Magic Moments hosted by

I'm also linking up with How Does Your Garden Grow #HDYGG over on

Mammsaurus HDYGG

Naturally Crafty over on


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