Saturday, 28 September 2013

Books and Stuff

A regular round-up of my book news.  This actually covers two week as I'm slowing down.

What I've read this Week...

I carried on with A Pound of Paper, which is proving quite enjoyable.

What I've bought this week...

Philip Bono & Kenneth Gatland, Frontiers of Space - 50p
Alfons Dierick, The Stained Glass at Chartres - 50p
The Medal Year Book  2013 - 50p

The Frontiers of Space is a 1976 edition in the old Blandford Colour Series ("with 80 pages of magnificent colour illustrations") and is for my interest in the history of space exploration rather than current information.  The MYB was a surprise find, given that the 2014 edition was only launched last weekend: the editor tells me they've sold 1,000 copies in that week.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Great Boobs and Donuts Debate...

While the clock is still with me, I'll do a second Wednesday Welcome post.

The reason is that we've been joined by Zzzzzz.  I hope you find something of interest here, Zed.  I can't see a blog attached to your profile: if you have one, let me know, and I'll mention it.

The kind of question that keeps me up at night

Why on a day when I make a meandering post about odds and ends do I get 260 views. whereas on a day I post about Nelson's navy I get less than 90?

I think the answer is Blog Rolls.  If you go to your favorite blog and see a link to A Multi-Topic Post I think you are more likely to hit it than one that's Vice-Adm Lord Collingwood.  The former prompts you to think 'There might be something for me there', but the latter is either 'Oh him' or 'Who the hell is that?'

Well, that's just human nature.  Donuts anyone?

Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood

Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood

Cuthbert Collingwood was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 26 September 1750.  He was entered on the books of HMS Shannon (commanded by his cousin Capt Richard Braithwaite) and went to sea at the age of 11.  He stayed with Braithwaite for over ten years, serving with him in HMS Gibraltar and Liverpool.  In March 1772 he transferred to the Lennox, the guardship at Portsmouth.  He joined HMS Preston, flying the flag of Vice-Adm Samuel Graves, in February 1774 and sailed for North America.  He served as a member of the shore party during the Battle of Bunker Hill and was gazetted as Lieutenant for his actions.

In March 1776 he was appointed to the sloop HMS Hornet under Capt Haswell, serving in the West Indies.  This would not seem to have been a happy ship, and in September 1777 Lt Collingwood faced a court-martial on counts of disobedience of orders and neglect of duty.  He was acquitted, but the court noted the lack of 'cheerfulness on the part of Lt Collingwood in carrying out the duty of the sloop' and 'therefore recommended it to him to conduct himself for the future with that alacrity which is so essentially necessary for carrying on His Majesty's service'.  This would seem to be a black mark that would be difficult to overcome, yet Collingwood was soon appointed to HMS Lowestoffe.  Also serving as a lieutenant on Lowestoffe was Horatio Nelson: the careers of the the two men were to be entwined from now on.  Both men distinguished themselves fighting the French and Americans in the Caribbean.

Collingwood now replaced Nelson in a number of posts in quick succession - First Lieutenant of Lowestoffe; commander of HMS Badger in June 1779; and of the frigate Hinchingbrook in March 1780 (being made Post Captain in this command).  In Hinchingbrook, Collingwood played a leading part in the San Juan expedition - the abortive attempt to cross the Isthmus into the Pacific.  This was dogged by disease, with 180 of an original compliment of 200 of Hichingbrook falling ill (including Nelson, who almost died).  Collingbroke was in command of the expedition during the return to Jamaica.  He was now given command of HMS Pelican, but she was wrecked in a hurricane, the crew being stranded on the Morant Keys for ten days.  Despite the declaration of peace, the West Indies remained a busy station for the navy.  Collingwood, now in command of HMS Mediator, took the side of Nelson (senior captain on the station) in his dispute with the commander-in-chief over the interdiction of American trade.

From 1786 Collingwood spent several years 'on the beach'.  He consolidated his position in Northumberland society and in 1791 married Sarah Blacket, daughter of the Mayor of Newcastle.  They were to have two daughters.

The Glorious First of June 1794
With the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars, Collingwood was soon back in action.  In 1793 he was appointed to command HMS Prince, flgaship of Rear-Adm George Bowyer, later moving with Bowyer to HMS Barfleur.  In this ship he took part in the battle of the Glorious First of June (1794) off Ushant. Despite it's name, the outcome of this battle was inconclusive: the British did overwhelm the French fleet, but the convoy that the latter were protecting escaped.  Although Barfleur engaged the French ship Indomptable, which was dismasted, and Bowyer (who had lost a leg) received a knighthood, Collingwood felt that he had been overlooked by not being given the Naval Gold Medal awarded to other commanders.

The Battle of  Cape St Vincent, 1797
Following a spell in the Mediterrean with Nelson, Collingwood was in command of HMS Excellent for the Battle of Cape St Vincent (14 February 1797).   This engagement arose from Spain's declaration of war in 1796, which severely compromised the Royal Navy's position in the Mediterranean.  The Mediterranean Fleet, under Adm Sir John Jervis, intercepted a larger Spanish fleet which was attempting to  rendezvous with the French and then accompany a large convoy across the Atlantic.  Excellent had a distinguished part in this battle, receiving the surrender of the El Salvador del Mondo and the Santissima Trinidad, damaging other ships and assisting Cmdre Nelson in his famous capture of the San Josef and San Nicolas.   Jervis was given and earldom and Nelson appointed KCB.  When Collingwood was informed he was to receive a Naval Gold Medal he refused to accept it until he was also given one for the Glorious First of June.

In February 1799 Collingwood was advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral (a matter of simple seniority) and appointed to the Channel Fleet, flying his flag in HMS Triumph, later in Barfleur.  In April 1804 he became Vice-Admiral.  In May 1805 he was detached from the fleet with a squadron to reinforce Nelson.  He blockaded Cadiz while Nelson pursued the French to the West Indies and back.  When Nelson intercepted the combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar in October, Collingwood was his second-in-command and led the lee line, flying his flag in HMS Royal Sovereign.  Royal Sovereign was severely damaged during the battle (she had a long duel with the Santa Ana and was dismasted).  With the death of Nelson, command devolved to Collingwood: as the fleet was in a poor state and a storm was advancing, he ignored instructions given by Nelson to anchor.  No British ships were lost during the storm, but several of their prizes were either sunk or escaped to Cadiz.

HMS Royal Sovereign at Trafalgar
On 9 November 1805 Collingwood was promoted to Rear-Admiral and raised to the peerage as Baron Collingwood of Caldburne and Hethpool.  He was awarded an annual pension of £2,000 and received his third Naval Gold Medal (one of only three men to have been awarded three - the others being Nelson and Sir Edward Berry).

Collingwood now succeeded Nelson as Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet.  The next few years were occupied with low-level blockades and diplomatic duties, including an intervention in 1807 when the fleet was sent to the Dardanelles to fly the flag at a time it appeared the Ottomans might join France's war on Russia.  Collingwood's health was deteriorating and in 1810 he received permission to return to England, which he had not visited since 1803.  However, he died on 7 March 1810, shortly after leaving Port Mahon.  His body was brought to England and he was interred in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral near Nelson's tomb.

Collingwood has not fared well at the hands of naval historians: Laughton's DNB article stated that "where he had Nelson's example or instruction he did splendidly; where Nelson's influence was wanting, he won no especial distinction: and after Nelson's death, as commander-in-chief, he did, at most, no better than scores of other respectable mediocrities who have held high command."  There has been some reassessment in recent years though.  His contemporaries thought highly of him, and he was apparently well-liked on the lower decks.  The Royal Navy named three ships and a training establishment after him.

The Collingwood Memorial at Tynemouth.  
The guns are from HMS Royal Sovereign.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Wednesday Welcome and Odds and Ends

I do like it when I can alliterate the welcomes!

The newest follower is Monty.  Given that Monty is in fact a German - +Stefan Königs - there must be a good reason why his blog is called Monty's Caravan (is Rommel de trope?   Not if you read the musings here by +James Holloway).  Anyway, here's a welcome to Herr Königs from Mr King!

Now, no sooner than I have pointed to the milestones over at Wargamer's Odds and Ends than +Chris Stoesen decides that it should be marked with a giveaway - go here for details of the rules and prizes they're quite good.

A little plug.  Shed Wars has diversified into YouTube.  Yesterday they posted an entertaining short film about the recent Matakishi's tea party in Woking.

Finally, thank you to those who commented on yesterday's post about skip diving.  I've added new pictures which give a better idea of scale.

I will include original content in a post soon.  Perhaps a Dead Bishop - any requests?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Any Ideas?

Now, I know there are some really talented people with imagination who read this blog.  Have you any suggestions as to what I can make with these?

Sorry the pic's side-on - I don't know why it's done that.
I found a skip full of them while walking the dog this evening.

My first thought was, as always, bookshelves (I must tell you about my Grand Winter Project), but I could also make something useful in the Shed (a rake tidy?).  What else?  Unless I can think of something good, I'm not allowed to go and get more.

In the last resort it's free firewood.


Here's a better picture.  I'd thought leaning them on the chair would give a sense of scale, but that was obviously spoilt by having the pic on its side...

More Blogging About Blogging

I promise I shall have some original content soon...

O'Leary Miniatures

As I mentioned the other day, there is going to be a prize-draw at O'Leary Miniatures.  Anne has put together some really fantastic and generous prizes, so go across and look.  Do read the rules, because it's not just the usual 'follow, comment and promote' deal.  One difference is that the giveaway is being sponsored in part by author Patrick Hatt: you can find Mr Hatt's Amazon Writers Page - he's also got a blog.

In other blogging news Chris over at Wargamer's Odds and Ends has hit some milestones: he's recently made his 300th post, he's passed the 50,000 hit's point and he's collected over 100 followers.  Being a man of similar tendencies to myself, he has done so by having a long post about his visitor stats - in his case he's managed to make them interesting (and all without pictures!).  My own stats have gone a little odd lately.

Chris is a designer of wargaming scenarios. His latest is In the Name of Roma - not my field, but I read some decent reviews, and it certainly looks the business.  It's not about Gypsies, but the Italian Army on the Russian Front in WWII.  If you want to sample his work, he's generously decided to offer an American Civil War scenario up as shareware.  You can find details of both these and others on his webpage.

As I said the other day, things are happening at Bloggers for Charity.  Apparently, it won't be too long before the figures for the 2014 game are despatched to those who've volunteered as painters and thoughts are being turned to 2015 (and beyond?) - we'll shortly have an announcement about whose taken on the task of co-ordinating 2015.

I urge everyone to get involved.  Even if, like me, you have poor painting skills and don't have the contacts to organise a presence at a show, there might be something you can do.  Even mentioning it in your blog or down at the club helps keep the momentum going.

But, in a typically forthright way, Gary Amos has reminded us that it's all about raising money.  In a similarly typical way, he's generously provided the means to do so by offering five painted figures for auction.  The auction (sealed bids) starts next week, so keep an eye on the BfC blog.

Which reminds me that I've still got a copy of the book I was selling in aid of BfC - yes, one copy only!  Those who have bought it say it's a good read.  It only costs £5.00 (inc postage) and 100% of that goes to BfC.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

A Multi-Topic Post


Welcome to new follower Anne.  She will be known to many of you as the very talented painter behind O'Leary Miniatures.  Anne is reciprocally following - I'm ashamed to say that I've only just signed up to her blog (the fact she's about to have a giveaway might have something to do with it).

OLM is having technical difficulties at the moment and has lost some traffic because of it.  Do go over, the blog's still live!


The other day I highlighted a nice Kickstarter by Oathsworn Miniatures.  Half way through the campaign, they're over 200% funded, so all is going well.  In my post I said that the attraction was the dwarf figures, and the others didn't appeal.  Now that the hidden figures are revealed, I'll moderate that slightly, but I'm still not inclined to sign up to the Hafling or Hired Sword options.

It seems I'm not alone in that, as they've just launched a new pledge level: the Cherry Picker.  For £50.00 you can boost your Dwarf King pledge by cherry picking the best of the rest.


In other news, I've been experimenting with using the Google+ social network.  I'm so used to Facebook that I wonder if I'm missing some of the Google features.  If anyone knows of a good site showing how to get the best out of Google+, I'll be glad to know.

Bloggers for Charity

The guys at BfC have been thinking about the future.  Go over and read about it.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

It Be That Time of the Year Again Maties!

When I was a kid, I was made to walk the plank...

...well, we couldn't afford a dog!

Is it just me, or has dressing up as a pirate been spoilt by prats in eye-liner?  Yarrgh!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A Wednesday Welcome

Welcome to new follower Michael Petersen, the Mad Padre himself.  As well as his main(?) page, Michael maintains The Mad Padre's Wargaming Page: both worth a read.

Michael is a serving chaplain in the Canadian Army, and has recently moved to the suitably military-sounding Kitchener-Waterloo (apparently in 1916 the burgers of Berlin, Ontario decided that the name of their city wasn't giving off the right vibe...).  We hope you settle in both here and there.

Monday, 16 September 2013

One For Sean!

After my post on ships' mascots, Sean comments that he might need a mascot for his Viking ship.

I introduce you to Graculus

Who was he?  Well, he was a large green bird, messenger and guide to Noggin the Nog.

And Noggin was Son of Knut, King of the Nogs

Sunday, 15 September 2013

On Teapots, Tortoises and Trotters

In yesterday's rather down-beat post, I promised that I would post about some of the things that cheered me up this week.  One was getting three parcels of goodies, but I'll talk about them another time.

The first was a rather nice find in a local charity shop (not the one I've been working in, before anyone asks).

Now I know copper lustre pots are deeply unfashionable (and thus cheap - which is why I have quite a few pieces knocking around the house).  Yet this was criminally priced at £2.99!  And it's in excellent condition - neither the spout nor lid are chipped, though there's one on the rim.  I can only think that the rather silly women who run this particular shop just didn't like it.

This kind of lustreware was very popular in the Victorian period (I'd say this one was c.1870), though the process is much older.  Metals (gold, copper or platinum) are dissolved and the solution painted onto a pot: after firing, the result is a burnished metallic effect.  This was done to create patterns or, as here, to give the illusion of a metal body.

What I particularly like is the handle.  I suppose it could be an eagle, but I prefer to see it as a dragon.

I also have some more traditional charity shop purchases I got a couple of weeks ago.  That's traditional in the the sense of "Look what I bought for pennies: if I paint it grey it'll make great scenery!"  I've been holding on to the photos until I have some 'After' to go with the 'Before'.

One secret of lazy blogging is just to regurgitate interesting things I've read in the paper.  Yesterday's example was the story of Ali Pasha, which I promised you in my last post.

The Gallipoli landings

In April 1915, Henry Friston of HMS Implacable was serving as a stretcher bearer on X Beach, Gallipoli, when he picked up a couple of tortoises who were sharing a shell-hole with him.  He took them back to the ship, where they became mascots.  One was named Ali Pasha and when Friston left the navy in 1921, he passed him on to his mother.

HMS Implacable

He came back into Friston's care when she died in 1951.  In the 1960s, Ali Pasha became something of a celebrity, being used by the local press as the harbinger of Spring.  This was picked up by the national papers and he even made an appearance on 'Blue Peter'.  When he died in 1987, Ali Pasha's obit was carried by the Times, Daily Telegraph and AP.

The reason that the story was in the paper is that a book has just been published by Michael Foreman, a friend of Friston's son and a long-term collaborator with Michael Morpurgo.  He knew Ali.

Not Ali Pasha

Oddly enough, the theme this week over on the Historic Ship Geek Facebook page has been ships' mascots. One of my favorites came up again - Tirpitz the pig.  Tirpitz was one of the survivors of the sinking of the German light cruiser SMS Dresden in the South Pacific.  A sailor from HMS Glasgow jumped into the sea to rescue him, and he was adopted by the ship.  He was later mascot of HMS Excellent, the gunnery school in Portsmouth.  He was auctioned three times for war charities.

What remains of Tirpitz is at the Imperial War Museum

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Musing on Life (and Ali Pasha Saves the Day)

I'm sorry I've not posted much this week, but I've been quite busy and tired.

With the second anniversary of being taken into hospital (for the uninitiated I spent three weeks in the Acute Care Unit and a further three on the renal ward), and six months after my (involuntary) medical dismissal from work, I've been taking stock.  It's at times like that those you resalize where your true friends are.  The Wife was magnificent and demonstrated over a number of months a strength that some who know her didn't think she had; our families rallied around, and I had visits from all parts of the country; old friends were prepared to do the same.  In contrast, throughout my time in hospital and in the two months that followed not a single person from work came to see me.  My managers made all the Right Noises and went by the book, but when it came down to it fired me.

This has taught me something about the balance between home and work life.  I have come across more gestures of spontaneous generosity in one year of writing this blog than in my 20-year professional career.  Isn't that sad?

What of now?  Well the the research service and on-line bookselling is beginning to take off.  I've recently started doing some voluntary work in a local charity shop.  Honestly, I'm beginning to feel as tired in the evenings as when I was holding down a full-time job.

This week has been further complicated by the fact that the wife is taking longer to bounce back than we expected from what was supposed to be a simple out-patient procedure.

I was going to lighten the load by telling you about teapots and how reading about Ali Pasha has cheered me up, but I think I've written enough for the moment.  They'll be in the next exiting episode...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Do You Like Dwarves?

Of course you do.  Especially when they look like this:

This is a new Kickstarter from Oathsworn Miniatures, which seems to be a company set up by Michael Lovejoy (do follow this link, he's very talented) and his wife Jo.  According to their profile, Michael is
a life-long fantasy fan, with an unhealthy Dwarf obsession, Michael's ultimate goal is to have a range of 1000 different Dwarf miniatures... but he admits he'll need to sculpt other races too, whether he wants to or not...
This is their second kickstarter.  The first, earlier this year, was exclusively dwarves: sadly I missed that one.  This one is a mix of dwarves, halflings and monsters.  Frankly, the halflings leave me a little cold - and looking at the pledges, it seems I'm not the only one who prefers the dwarves.   Nethertheless, Oathsworn seem to have attracted a following, and the Kickstarter was fully funded by the second day!

I'm supporting this one and will watch for future releases with interest.

Now all I need to know is where I can get a knitted beard like the one in the promotional video...

A Welcome

Welcome to new follower Jur.  I can't see a blog for him, but someone will update me if necessary.

Edit - I've just realised that Jur is the man behind the admirable Rear Guard Action.

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Winners Are...

It's a lovely Monday morning for announcing winners to the Prize Draw.
  1. Gary Amos 
  2. brownk
  3. Mike 

Congratulations!  And no, Gary, despite everything it wasn't a fix!  Good karma works out...

So if you could each e-mail me at diplomatist2<at>gmail<dot>com, we can sort out the details.  Gary, let me know what your choice of prize is; brownk, tell me your choice and reserve; and Mike, give me your choice and two reserves.

But Wait! More Chances to Win...

Saka Light Cavalry

There is another draw other on The Blog With No Name, which is celebrating it's second anniversary and 500th post.  Go and enter now!

And I don't know if the overwhelming interest in The Khyber Rifles was real or just feigned in order to wind Ray up, but I do have some more copies.  These are for sale on my website for £4.00 each plus postage (£2.60 in the UK).

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Reminder about the Prize Draw

A reminder that you only have about 24 hours to enter the Prize Draw.

If you've promoted  the draw on your blog (thus earning an extra entry), do remember to mention it in the comments on the original read.  Even if I've seen it an commented on your blog, I won't necessarily remember it when totting up the entries!

This Week's Interesting Obits

Another couple for the obits page.

Frederick Pohl (d. 2 Sep 2013)
SF writer
Guardian obit, 4 Sep 2013
Independent obit, 5 Sep 2013

W/Cdr Ken Wallis (d. 1 Sep 2013)
Autogyro Pilot
BBC obit 3 Sep 2013
Independent obit 6 Sep 2013
Scotsman obit 6 Sep 2013

Friday, 6 September 2013

Books and Stuff

My weekly round-up of book news.

What I've read this week...

I carried on with Untying the Knots, A Pound of Paper and Minutes of the Suffolk Humane Society.  Which sounds like I've done a lot of reading, but I haven't.  I have had each of those open at some stage though.

What I've bought this week...

Nothing.  My austerity drive continues.

Donald Featherstone

Donald Featherstone and Stan Aspinal
A lot has been written on the wargaming blogs about Donald Featherstone since his death last weekend.  I haven't anything to add as I can't claim to have been influenced by him.  I have a couple of his books (military history rather than wargaming), but I haven't yet read them.

I am interested in the history of the hobby though, and the best thing I've read this week about Featherstone's contribution is a typically thoughtful piece on Rear Guard Action which puts him in a larger context.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Eine kleine Hilfe für meine Freunde ...

Our little corner of the blogosphere has been thinking about blog design lately.  James over at the Exiles Wargames Painter has been suggesting ways we can improve the experience we give to our readers.  So far it seems I have been doing things right, as I have both 'click to follow' and Google+ gadgets enabled.  So far, so smug....

While walking Smaller Dog this afternoon, I was contemplating the blog and considering posting about the Flag Counter gadget - yes, I'm still in navel-gazing mode due to the blog birthday.  I'd originally installed it at the end of March as a bit of a laugh and to see what would happen.  I'm gobsmacked to say that since then the blog has been visited by people from 92 countries!  In the last few days I've had new flags from Gibraltar, Mauritius and Armenia.  I don't know why that is, but obviously I'd like to welcome you all and ask you to stick around.

This is where the bit about being smug comes in.  Instead of the self-congratulatory post I was considering, I suddenly realised that I was failing James' 'make everything as easy for the reader as possible' principle.  To assist you then, dear reader, I am adding the 'Translate' widget.

Apologies for being so Anglocentric.  As my old university tutor would have said "Mae'n rhaid i chi ystyried safbwynt pobl eraill, Edwin".

A Review on the Wilde Side...

I never read a book I have to review: 
it prejudices me so.

Sorry not to have blogged anything of interest over the last few days, but I've been working towards a deadline.

Back in July I blagged myself a free copy of a book on the grounds that I would review it.  The editor I proposed to do it for was a little vague about the deadline ('around the beginning of September'), so naturally enough I have been too!  Taking a semi-Wildean approach I've now finished it (though I've had some difficulty limiting myself to 500 words - isn't it always the case?).

Unless you're into the history of lifesaving, the review's not going to be of interest: if you are interested in the history of lifesaving, you should be a member of LSARS!  Go to their website now and join!

Anyway, normalish service should resume shortly and if anyone wants to send me free stuff, well...

A little bit of housekeeping

In my last batch of welcomes to new followers I said I couldn't find a blog for Ev.  It turns out that he's a part of the Soviet that produces Canister & Grape.  Welcome again Ev!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Papers, Coffee, Welcomes...

I like reading my local paper.

Back where I was brought up the paper was unfailingly grim.  It came out weekly and was an unrelenting catalogue of stabbings, corrupt councillors giving care contracts to their wives, and the failings of the local hospital (you only went there to die).  You had to be pretty morbid to want to read it (my Grandma loved it).  Don't get me wrong, we do have crime here - there was a murder around the corner a couple of years ago and I was in the pub when the girls who did it came in selling stuff they'd taken from the house.

When we lived in Whitby we had the Whitby Gazette, which was very old-fashioned and had a lot in it about sheep.  It had it's moments though.  One stroke of genius was the the front-page headline and bill-board declaring 'Whitby Man Escapes Jail!'  Once you bought the paper and read the story, you found out that he had escaped jail in the sense that he been given a suspended sentence and thus escaped being sent to jail in the first place...

Here we have a daily paper which regularly wins awards as the best regional paper in the country.  I particularly like the weekend section.  The features tend to be double page spreads: this week's included one on a local artist who takes his inspiration from going hare-spotting;  another on a local VC winner; one on the the local Volunteer Battalion one the eve of the Second Boer War (with a large picture of the Bn fully captioned with everyone's names); and another which is an interview with DJ Taylor on his latest book, The Windsor Faction, which (VBCW and counterfactual fans take note!) about what would have happened if Wallis Simpson had died of natural causes during the abdication crisis and Edward VIII's coronation had gone ahead.  All things I could happily blog about!

Of course, I don't buy the paper.  I read it in the coffee shop while walking the dog.  One of the lasses there won a competition last week for her latte art, which I thought I'd share with you.

Sadly, she's decided that drawing animals on customers' coffee is against shop policy as it's 'tacky'.  She makes an exception for Red Panda Coffee though.  Normally we make do with fans and flowers.

Come for the Prizes, Stay for the Fun!

Welcome to all the new followers recently joined.

Darrell and Ev, I haven't been able to spot your blogs if you have them.  If you do, please comment and I'll plug them.

Welcome all!
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