Welcome! Grab a cup of tea, and enjoy browsing some of the photos and stories. As the 'teawife,' it is my duty to watch and listen and be a supportive friend, and a loving mum and wife. I should post more often, but sticking my nose into everyone's business keeps me busy! Kathy the teawife

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chaffinch sitting in a tree

Five Chaffinch sitting in a tree . . . can you spot them below?
Although the Chaffinch is a common garden bird in England, I don't think I ever grow tired of watching them, with their sort of hopping motion on the ground, looking for a bit of seed or goody. They sport earthy and warm colors, spiked with white and black on their wings, and the males have a rich color of rust on their bellies. The colors brighten and fade throughout the year, depending on the season.
Even though we have an easy-to-access raised table feeder filled with enticing seeds and suet, the Chaffinches always peck for food on the ground, along with the greedy wood pigeons. Seems that life would be easier and more fulfilling if they could just manage hopping into the raised table feeder.
These photos were taken on a blustery February day, as the Chaffinch hung onto a naked plum tree. Once the leaves fill in, our garden birds are much harder to watch and photograph.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Garden Guests

We keep seed and suet feeders in our back garden in England. We attract a wide range of birds, including Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Parrots (Ring-Necked Parakeets), Starlings, Pigeons, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long-Tail Tits, Robins, Nuthatches, and more!

Here is a little stop-motion movie I made of a Blue Tit visiting our feeders today.

Taking Time for Tea

I've been at the auction house again! Well, not physically. I've discovered that bidding online during a live auction is so much better than being in the room. First of all, you can shop in your jim-jams, and you don't have the same pressures of bidding and competing in the sale room.

The only caveat is not going to the auction house to check out the merchandise beforehand. Looking carefully at the images online can be misleading. Sometimes, you can end up with a sensational buy and high-quality pieces, and other times you can come away with buyer's remorse and a less-than-desirable piece. Both things happened to me this week when I participated in the latest Crow's Auction, which is just up the road from me in Dorking.

One of the best buys was this Aynsley Rust and Cobalt Blue part tea service (No. 407101). After some initial research, it appears to be Edwardian, made between 1905-1910. The pieces are the most delicate of bone china, the type you can see through when held to the light. The pieces remaining of this set are in pristine condition with bright gilding.

We would have loved the teapot to go with the set, but I think it would be a rare find, indeed. I scope out the pottery very carefully before the auction, and I am pretty particular about what I want. I don't usually have a lot of competition on bidding for pottery (a sad state of affairs for the remaining pottery manufacturers in England). However, I found I was bidding against some other keen collector (or trade vendor) with this set, and I had to pay £42. However, once you check out ebay, and discover one teacup with one saucer in this pattern for $200 in the US, you know that you have a great find! I do think it is unfortunate that pottery in England isn't valued as highly as it currently is in the United States or Asia. After so many companies have exported manufacturing to Asia or have shut their doors here in England, I know one day that we all will regret their extinction.

A few months back, I had another spectacular purchase of a Wedgwood Columbia Powder Ruby part tea set (along with a Paragon Holyrood part tea set) for a mere £22. The lot contained the most luscious teapot and two adorable teacups with saucers (sadly, I've already managed to break one of the tea cups :-(. I am a strong believer in using these items after buying them, and there is a risk of breakage. However, I won't be able to enjoy the pieces from the grave! I later found the Columbia Powder Ruby teapot being sold online in the US for $500. Okay, so I use the teapot less frequently than I did when I first acquired it from the auction!

The Columbia edge of the Wedgwood pottery features a motif of mythical beasts that face each other and the style is available in several color combinations. I still have not been able to ascertain the age of my acquisition except to find that the Powder Ruby began production in 1920 and was discontinued in 1999.

Whenever I see some of the prices of these pottery pieces sold at replacement online sites, I always hesitate, take a deep breath, and question using my finds. But my hubby Niall and I seem to be of like minds on this, and we've decided to enjoy the subtle pleasures of part-taking in a tea experience punctuated by these exquisite pieces of history and culture.

This morning, we used our Birmingham silver teaspoons and our silver plated Victorian tipping teapot (one of my first antique purchases), and we 'broke in' (sorry :-) our 'new' Aynsley teacups, which probably hold about 4 ounces of liquid. They are smaller than our modern day teacups, and that reflects how our current culture seems obsessed with 'more is better' instead of pausing to enjoy the art of conversation and ceremony. The tipping teapot, with its stand and wick burner, can keep the tea warm through a luxurious long breakfast. Each time we refilled our tiny teacups, the tea was piping hot.

I hope you find your special time today, too, to slow down and enjoy gentle conversation and companions.