Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “fantasy

Elevenses: Wizmas Witch Hunt Wagonettes

 

Wizmas! Hurrah! The jolliest, snowiest, most expensive and pointless day of the year is just around the corner: The day all citizen MUST (that is, LOVE TO) celebrate the victory of the awesome ruler of the universe, Wiz, over the inferior, primitive powers of the green goddess and all her ridiculous minions. (Are we doing well? We think we are doing well)

 

This morning you find us sketching plans for our Wizmas Witch hunt Wagonette. Every Wizmas, up and down the country, locals band together in fantastical contraptions and chase down any suspected witches, capture them in cages or sacks and lock them in the stocks where they are pelted with hot plum pudding until they confess. They are then transported to The Witch Holes in Slakeland.

 

So, poor Mrs Baker, we’re no sure what she is going to do – hopefully not try to disguise herself as Albert again, that caused untold difficulties last time…

 

But enough of the worries of others, we have our own necks to consider! So, on with the show…

 

Our Witch Hunting Wagonette Design…

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As for the engine it is a simple four stroke powered by gunpowder tea which we saved from our recent visit to the Temple Of Heaven on the Jentacular Landmass.

But of course we wanted something that looked and sounded beautifully complicated and fabulous so we opted at first for the Daimler 1889 V12 design …. but then we got carried away and modded it up a bit to look a little more like the 1914  V8 because well, being an octopus eight seemed more natural…

But before we hoist on our goggles and roll up our shirt sleeves…sorry? Well how very dare you, of course an octopus may have shirt sleeves!… we simply must have a little music to tap our tentacles to as we tuck in to the delighful treats that our lovely werewolf butler Klapka has nosed out for us this morning… Oh my goodness! Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake made by Ashley at Baker by Nature click on the picture to go to her recipe…

salted-chocolate-caramel-cake

 

 

 

 Wish us luck! We wish you all a very exhilarating morning and hope everything you catch brings you good fortune and plenty of cake. We invite you back to join us for Tea @ Three on Thursday so until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself


Morning Cuppa: Earls of Brass and Spurtles Of Gold

You find us this morning in a state of oaty bliss after a weekend spent at The Annual Wizmas Golden Spurtleglove Oatcake Championships (we understand you have something similar in your own dimension?)

 If you are not sure what spurtle gloves are let us enlighten you – the spurtle glove is an oversized oven mitt used for oatcake flipping and a golden one is made in Lancaster every year and given to the contestant who can faultlessly flip the most oatcakes in six minutes.

 The judging is conducted by three highly trained oat flip observers and presided over by Lord Ashton himself but there are also smaller prizes for the most original oatcake creations and these are voted on by the general public.

 This year some of the winners in the Innovative Oatcake Recipe section included Chorizoat Cakes, Plum Compoat and Chocoloat pudding.

 The best part by far, though, was the riot which began when the voted winner of the Oatcake Sculpture section (a truly gargantuan oatcake with a smiley face put on with raisins) was declared by Lord Ashton to be “An offensive and infantile attempt at subordination and mob-rule.” He then proceeded to disqualify the oat face and award the prize to a detailed oatcake sculpture of Lord Battenberg, the noted explorer, instead.

 Lord Battenberg’s donations to Ashton’s extensive collection of arthropods is no secret and the furious crowds stormed the stage, seized the judges and began hurling lumps of the hated Battenberg into the River Lune. In the end Ashton had to call his man eating Liver Birds and we all fled for our lives… but it was worth it. All jolly good fun!

 

But now we are quite exhausted and simply dying to kick our tentacles up on the table with a nice pot of tea and a good book and, fortunately we have both…

 earl-of-brass

The Earl Of Brass (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #1) by Kara Jorgensen

We very much enjoyed this fast paced book. Lord Sorrell is a free thinking adventurer but when he loses his arm he risks having his wings clipped and becoming trapped in the hum drum life he hates. Hadley is a strong minded young woman who is struggling to keep her prosthetic business afloat but when she meets Sorrell she is suddenly caught up in adventures beyond her wildest dreams.

This is a gripping and very original steampunk adventure story, well written with just a splash of romantic sub plot; enough to engage without becoming too heavy. It’s the first in the series and we will definitely be getting our tentacles into the second one shortly.

 Now then, I suppose we really ought to have an extra special Earl Grey to accompany our Earl Of Brass and here it is…

 duchess earl grey.jpg

 

Duchess Earl Grey from Junkicreations – we cannot praise this divine tea highly enough, more than just your average Earl Grey, The Duchess combines cornflower, rose petals, citrus peel and lime leaves with luxurious bergamot oil to make this a cup that sets out tentacles trembling at just the very thought of it.

 Hm? ….Max says ‘steady on old chap’ … I have no idea what you are talking about Max I am perfectly steady. Steady enough to pop out Oracular Cephalopterois into his cup and see what wizmas cheer it has to offer us this morning….

 

 

 

Oh that’s marvellous, how we wish we had been able to sing that at our Spurtle riots!

Ah well, the tea is brewed and there is nothing left for us to say except ‘chin chin pass the tin open the book and lets begin.’ We wish you a spurt-tacular morning filled with wholesome delights and we invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow when we will be souping up our wagon and heading for some dreadful wizmas shenanigans so, until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself


Soup Of The Day: Steampunk Adventuring With Bone Shaker Boxes

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is Shannon, creator of the steampunk adventure boxes at Bone Shaker Boxes. Good morning Shannon, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?

Here is a simple Bean Soup made from an old Ham Bone you can get at the local butcher!

  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 potatoes, diced
  • 8 cups hot water
  • 8 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package frozen corn
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

  • Melt bacon grease in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in hot bacon grease until vegetables are slightly tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir potatoes into onion mixture; cook and stir until golden, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir hot water and chicken bouillon together in a large pot until bouillon is dissolved; add onion mixture, ham bone, diced tomatoes, corn, tomato sauce, black pepper, and salt.
  • Cook soup for 4 to 6 hours. Remove ham bone from soup and let rest until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from ham bone and stir meat into soup.
  • Serve hot with biscuits

 

Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we take a look at these amazing boxes that you make, have you brought some along to show us today?

Yes I did! I brought along the Tea for One box, the Radio Box, Father Mike’s Vampire Kit, and the Traveling Tea Set so we could share a pot or two, and it serves 6 so if anyone else is about they can join us!

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Oh yes please a cup of tea would be marvellous and I’m sure the urchins would like some to! It is such a brilliant and original concept, do tell me, what inspires you when you begin to create a new box?

I am a very practical person and usually a need is what starts the process. An example would be the Tea for One boxes I make. When you travel, especially here in America, hotels cater to coffee drinkers and if you are a tea drinker you usually have very poor, if any, choices for teas. I decided to make a portable box that if you can get 8 oz. of water you can make a pot of tea anywhere (as long as they allow open flame), so the Tea for One box was born. It comes with its own teapot, cup, stove, and fuel. Then I have created areas to keep tea, sugar, spoons, strainer, and everything else you need to make the perfect pot of tea. Once you set the pot on the flame it takes about 10 minutes for it to reach 185° (F) or 85° (C), the perfect temperature for tea.

I have also created boxes from the story I have about Queen Victoria’s Secret Service. I create the boxes they would need to protect her and her family. The Radio Box and Father Mike’s Vampire Kit is from that series. You can read all about it and the stories that go with the boxes on my website http://www.boneshakerboxes.com/ and go the “About” section.

I try to make the boxes as practical as I can. The radio box has an MP3 player in it and you can listen through the headset or the built in external speakers. Other boxes have been portable bars, backpacks, and lap desks, just to name a few.

My boxes are usually very functional and are built to a quality standard that I expect you to use them and with a minimum of care should last you a lifetime. I want these passed down to your children so they can create their own character or use the same box they grew up watching you use.

I’m sure there are many adventurous souls out there who are already imagining the splendiferousness of toting around their very own Bone Shaker Box! Tell me, do you make each box as a custom order and, if so, how do you work with your clients to get a box that’s ‘just right’ for their Steampunk alter ego?

All of my boxes are one of kind! I will not repeat them, I built it once, why would I want to do it again? Now with that said, I will keep a good design idea (Tea for One boxes), but I always change something including the theme. So you never have to worry about someone having the same item as you. I started out making boxes for myself or for friends and now it is about 50/50 on original design (mine) or custom box for a client’s specific design/need.

I work very close with the individual, I provide pictures and feedback all through the process. Customizing the box to the individual is what makes it fun for me because it usually adds a level of complication. “How am I going to fit this into the box and make it look like it belongs there?” is a question I have asked myself many times.  It all works out in the end and I usually get to see tears when I present the finished project because the person was involved throughout the process and seeing their personal items displayed how they imagined (or close) just brings out all the emotion, and that can’t be priced into any box. Seeing the person fall in love with something that I made, is just the greatest thing.

Besides the boxes themselves, are there other Steampunk props and curios that you create?

Yes, I started out with a jewellery line as well. It was very popular and I got a bunch of complaints when I dropped it, but it was tough to get raw materials in the quality I wanted and keep pricing down. I also do leather work, and have made leather armour, belts, flask holders, restraints. I am a reasonably competent seamstress and have made a few costumes, but the boxes are my passion, I just love making them.

And besides your online store where else can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?

I do have an Etsy shop, and I have been a featured artist at DragonCon’s Altered History Museum for the last 4 yrs. My work has been in multiple blogs and online magazines, plus I was featured in “Just Steampunk” magazine last year. I just filmed an episode of Ghost Finders (My first TV show) that will feature a new box called the Clairvoyant’s Box based on Georgiana Eagle the Queens Clairvoyant. She reportedly did upwards of nine readings with the Queen to try and contact Albert, so I made a box that she could have used during these readings.

I also travel the Southeast U.S. doing different conventions every year and just love meeting people and seeing the reactions when I show them the boxes are actually functional. Plus I have the usual social media sites as well:

https://www.facebook.com/BoneShakerBoxes/

http://boneshakerboxes.tumblr.com/

https://www.pinterest.com/boneshakerboxes/?etslf=8756&eq=bone%20shaker

 

And now the all-important question, on which the fate of the world may hang…  which do you prefer, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)

I am a mood person when it comes to hot beverage. If I want to relax or I am feeling a little blue I prefer tea (English Breakfast is my favourite). However I do start every day with a cup of coffee, and both are with cream and sugar.

Splendid! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Shannon, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?

Thanyou so much for having me here and I am so glad I could help with the children. Hopefully you will have me back again and we can talk more about The Queen’s Secret Service and I may even have a tale or two for the urchins while they eat.

Oh that would be wonderful Shannon, thankyou I… but wait a minute I think… is that an octopus hurrying down the street towards us? Why yes it’s Collin! It’s not like him to leave the parlour without Max I wonder what could be the matter?

Oh dear! Collin informs me that Wizmas – the season of Witch Hunts and ill will to all women over the age of thirty  – has begun! I had no idea! I must find my toupee and false moustache at once, please excuse me, I have a lot of arrangements to make and a large bottle of brandy to buy…. 

blessings on your brew my dears!

 


Pipe and Slippers: The Painters’ Daughter

Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of  praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.

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I am Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.

But this is not a public thoroughfare! If you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of a drag-dressed octopus and its dribbling Tea Fiend, let me advise you not to be so easily lured into a parlour by the promise of strange fruit. Well, you will find nothing sweet and alluring down here;   here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!

But wait…what’s that you have tucked away under your arm there? Amontillado? Oh…. well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something, the day has, after all been a long one. And I suppose I could read a very little something,

like this perhaps…

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The painters’ daughter

 

Once upon a time, when you and I were naught but pips in the core of the great cosmic apple, there lived a painter. You might chance to meet him still, wandering the shore line as the sun rises over the blushing surf, counting the grains of sand or shuffling the streets at dusk, studying the cracks in the paving stones, calling down and listening for a voice.

Back in his studio, his tumbledown beach hut, he paints each grain, each echo. He paints the light and the shadow, the rising and the setting, the dance and sparkle and the soaking up and the deep. His eyes are full of dreams and his dreams are full of shades and glamour.

One day, the painter’s daughter bare-foot tip-toed into that secret space.

And gazed at all the many muchness of towers of tins of tangy turpscented rainbows.

And wondered what it would be – to touch, to taste, to take in and become such wonders.

One drip.

One lick.

In goes a flinger, smooth and slick.

Gloopy and gorgeful.

Smick  smuck  smack.

Blue, yellow, indigo,

Purple,

black.

She tasted blue – A taste of salt sea and pillow cases, stained glass and new slippers, skinned knees and berryjams and Monday mornings and shaggy hillsides damp in November fog.

She tasted yellow – A taste of custard of course. And a taste of bathrooms and tiled floors and a caravan holiday in 1975, old stiff newspapers and curled up cats, the dust that gathers on lampshades and dims the whole room and a taste of skin and bone and the streets of Rome in July.

She tasted green – A taste of coal and iron, old sandals and ploughed up earth, toadstools and pine woods and rain low down in the valley of the Dove.

Every colour in the universe she drank it down. She gorged on glamour and shade, on dances and sparkles, on things soaked up and deep. She swallowed down the soul of every colour until her limbs felt clogged and cloyed with the weight of them.

One small pot of black she saved for last, – a taste of burning and drowning, of being squeezed out and sucked up and exploded into stars, a taste of being held for eternity and the aching emptiness of an eggshell cracked too soon.

 

This black, she smuggled it away in her pocket, off to her little box bed beside the woodstove. There, when she was feeling dizzy with the reel of the rainbows spinning through her veins, she would sip

Sip

Sip

At the comforting black.

From that day on, every time the painter’s daughter opened her mouth, out spilled thick , oily paint in puddles and spewks that stained the folks and the things all around her in violent assaults of crimson,  viridian, amaranth and egg yolk.

She stopped opening her mouth.

Her limbs dragged heavy as a rag doll and every breath, every step, every heart beat was a drudge and a drain. So much colour inside. So much sparkle and depth. So much echo and shade.

Walking, talking, even breathing seemed mountains too steep to climb with all this weight inside.

She sat on her bed, day in day out, and sip

Sip

Sipped

At the comforting black

Until it spilled out of her eyes in puddles that pooled upon the patchwork quilt and cast back mocking rainbows.

That is how the little bird found her one day. He hopped upon her window sill and cocked his shining eye – the way the bird folk do – and then he fluttered down onto the eiderdown and whistled.

“Go away,” the painter’s daughter hissed, “do you think I care to see your coloured plumes? Do you think I am impressed? What if I told you that I am so full with the light and dark of every colour in the universe that I ache with it and to look at you does not fill me with joy or wonder, only regret and fatigue until I am sick of it.”

The little bird cocked his eye again – infuriating it is when they do that, y’know? – and he reached his yellow bill in deep amongst his tail feathers and plucked out a needle sharp quill the colour of every blue-green under the sea.

The painter’s daughter shrugged in scorn of him and made to turn away when

Ouvchsh!

The little demon jabbed the quill spike hard into the soft, pale flesh of her arm.

Out leapt a tiny spurt of paint.

Then slowly, and with the girl in thrawl,

He dragged the rainbow colours out

In swirls and spirals, tree cassyn pathways to guide the flow of all that weary weight into traces of beauty and scope.

Here was a dream in flesh.

Here was pointillised pain.

Here was inside out for all to see and staining no one but herself; surely, no words would be needed now . The world would smile and nod its head at her, as they knocked shoulders in the street, and whisper

‘ah, so, that is how it is with her, mm, we understand now why she walks so slow and dares not speak. How could a child do otherwise, with so much colour inside?’

So she stepped out.

Stained.

With the bird quill tucked behind one ear

And bold, without fear,

Into a forest of fingers who pointed and blamed and waggled and shamed and prodded and poked and jostled and joked and fat cold palms that pushed her far away.

The painter’s daughter ran.

She ran on and on.

She began to feel very proud of her running.

One dark night, she came to a cave, above a river, above a pool, beside a village and into that cave she crept and lay down to sleep.

When she woke up the smell of sweet meat cooking down in the green valley filled her with hunger and the longing for all the things that human company ought to bring but seldom does.

So she spent the morning gathering leaves,  the afternoon stitching them together and by evening she had made for herself a fine long cloak that hid the patterns on her arms, and a hat with a broad brim to cover her face.

Under the stars, she took out the bird quill from behind her ear and dug it deep into her skin until it was slathed in colour, then she found a broad, flat stone and she began to paint

In swirls and spirals, tree cassyn pathways to guide the flow of all that weary weight into illuminated forms both wild and wonderful.

Here was a dream on stone.

Here was pain projected, disembodied, disowned.

Here was inside out for all to see and staining nothing but this unfeeling earth. And the world would smile and nod and never know where all the colours came from.

As the sun rose over the valley, the painter’s daughter stepped down from her cave, down and down and into the village and by that afternoon the tongues were wagging like wild fire flames; who was the stranger in the cloak of leaves who traded her marvellous paintings for table scraps? Some had seen her return to the cave – a hermit then? An anchorite? A holy one, certainly, a wise healer, a cleric, a teacher, a goddess in the flesh… ?

Every day, more and more villagers made the trek up to the painter’s cave. They wondered at her work – colours and patterns that seemed to describe the deepest parts of themselves. The parts they never let show. How? They asked, with tears in their eyes, how can she know?

They bought canvases. They paid in gold.

Inside her cave, hidden from sight, the painter took her feather quill and emptied herself out for them.

Day after day.

Night after night.

Slowly, as time went by, she began to grow old and paper thin. She had to coax out the paint in crusted oozes from her gummed up veins. Sometimes finding the strength and the will would take hours. Often there was not enough. Not enough colour, not enough energy and too much pain of the flesh and the bone to finish the work. ‘One day,’ thought the painter, ‘one day I will dry up. There will be no way of getting these crusted up colours out of my dried up body any longer. And what will happen then? Will the world understand when I can no longer paint their pain for them?’

The painter smiled and shook her head. She stuck the feather quill behind her ear and pulled off her cloak and hat of leaves. Clotheless under the silver moon, she walked down to the lake pool and stepped right into the comforting black.

The next morning, when the people came up to the cave the painter was gone, but the waters of the lake below, as they looked down into the valley, were snaked with rainbows.

 

Hmph well, yes, at least we may thank our stars that this pathetic Poevember pranking is at end and speaking of stars they are all out and I must get back to my work and you must get back to whatever it was you were doing before you decided to pester me… GOOD NIGHT!

 

 


Tea @Three: All Punked up with no place to go

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s punktasticly poe-etic parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a rotting refuge filled with remorseless rogues, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us, as is usual for a Thursday afternoon, All Punked UP With No Place To Go so without further ado, let us kick our tentacles up on the table, pour out our delightful Poe inspired brew from Owen’s Acres, and peruse the society papers and see where we ought to be heading to this weekend…

Of course we have The Crewe Winter Steampunk Convivial which, if you haven’t already bought tickets for you can pay on the door.

Or if you are in the Brighton area, then “Lock up your daughters, your drinks cabinets and your heirlooms … ” because the Yellow Book Room (Britain’s first Steampunk themed pub) is hosting The Filthy Spectacula on the 26th!

All utterly marvellous things to look forward to. We hope you have enjoyed celebrating Poevember with us in the parlour this month and we hope you will join us again for our morning cuppa on Monday when we will be twiddling our thumbs and pondering what mischief to get up to next… or perhaps mischief will find us first? Who knows, or dares to dream eh?

So until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself

 


Soup of the day: With Lynn Cecil

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is talented artist and writer Lynn Cecil. Good morning Lynn, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?

Good morning, Mrs. Baker. Thank you so much for inviting me to your kitchen. I have brought along ingredients for my favourite soup: cheddar bacon potato. The recipe is fairly simple:

  • 4 large white potatoes
  • ½ large white onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • Pinch of dried dill
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp of pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 6 strips of crispy bacon
  • 1 ¼ cups of grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 ½ cups of milk (2% works well)

Boil peeled and cubed potatoes until a fork goes through (firm, but not too soft). Cook diced onion in a pot until clear. Add chicken broth, flour, and spices, stirring well.  Add lightly mashed potatoes to broth mixture. Add milk and half of the cheese. Bacon may be added here, and/or saved as a topping. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. Serve in bowls and top with remaining cheese and crumbled bacon. Enjoy!

Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you tell us all a little more about your amazing artwork? Your illustrations are beautifully detailed, what inspires you when you sit down to create them?

Thank you for your kind words! This past year I was very inspired by flowers, butterflies, gardens, and garden objects as I created The Butterfly Garden: A Coloring Book in Four Seasons, with 72 illustrations. I use a Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.05 and the tip is so fine that I can create intricate patterns and designs that I could never achieve with my oil paints. I’m also inspired by the steampunk genre, forests, geometric shapes, and patterns. Here is one of my illustrations entitled “(Spring) Magnolia with Eggs, Keys, and Locks.”

 

015-spring-mandala-magnolia-with-eggs-small-size

 

That is stunning Lynn! And where can we see or purchase the book and your other artwork?

You can find images of my artwork on my website, www.lynncecil.com, under “Illustrations,” and “Artwork,” then search the subcategories for specific styles. Since moving, I haven’t signed on with a new art gallery, so people can contact me directly by e-mail (on my website) to purchase artwork.

I published The Butterfly Garden: A Coloring Book in Four Seasons with Kyte-Lost Books, a small company that I started in order to publish my artwork, and the book is available through Amazon sites around the world, and at select Indigo stores in Canada.

You’re not only a talented artist, but a writer as well, tell me, how did your interest in writing develop?

I started ‘writing’ when I was two. I would sit at my little desk and scribble on paper, and when my parents asked me what I was doing, I would answer, “I’m working on my tesis.” My dad was working on his doctorate at the time, so I guess I just thought that’s what people do—they write. I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and at five, I decided I wanted to be an artist, as well. I started writing stories and poems in elementary school, but it wasn’t until grade 8 that I had a teacher who assigned fiction writing as part of her class, and encouraged me to be a writer. I love language, the way it sounds, the meanings of words and their history. Writing, like painting and drawing, is such an integral part of my life, that I find I am almost always thinking about my current story or book, or what my next painting or drawing will be.

Outside of Ordinary is a marvellous collection of women’s travel stories, which you co edited with Catherine Bancroft, would you like to tell us a little more about that project?

Outside of Ordinary is an anthology that gave women an opportunity to write about how travel had impacted their lives, made them see themselves and the world differently. We were very fortunate to have so many women submit such diverse stories about their travels around the world, and to have Second Story Press publish the book.

You also have a  fascinating Steampunk series growing online which combines your amazing artwork and your fabulous writing skills, would you like to tell us about Beauty and Phin and Their Unusual Correspondence?

I am so glad you like this series! I started drawing postcards a few years ago. I hadn’t really illustrated anything in years, because I mostly painted in oils, often on very large canvases. The postcards became a way for me to work on a smaller scale, to develop my drawing skills again, and soon I had several hundred cards. Inspired by Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine series in which two characters that have never met communicate through postcards, I decided to have ancestors of characters from my YA fantasy book series write to each other through postcards in Their Unusual Correspondence.

In Book 1, Beauty Ether and Phinneous Finn are heartbound, but as Beauty is a Silken and Phin is a Raiven, they are forbidden to be together. Their correspondence begins when eighteen-year-old Beauty ethers to Paris, France in 1819, leaving Phin behind in Chillon, on their home planet of Airthe, which is like a steampunked Earth. As Beauty explores early nineteenth-century France and other parts of Europe, Phin becomes obsessed with analyzing the Silken strand in an effort to find a way to defeat the dragon clades that have invaded and taken control of Chillon.

I haven’t posted any new images for a while on my blog, as I am changing the format of the layout and I hope to publish the stories one day. Here is the new version of Beauty’s first postcard to Phin, using art paper for the background.

001a-elementography-small-size

Elementography 001: Hydrogen

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Beauty Ether to Phinneous Finn

 

I’m also working on Book 4 of 5 of The Inkmarked Chronicles, my YA fantasy series, which connects to Book 1 of Their Unusual Correspondence. I have many more postcard books planned, including one in which Beauty corresponds with a young man named Poe who is fascinated with ravens.

Ah, we love a good bit of Poe-Punking here in Lancaster, Lynn, how marvellous! The artwork on the postcards is captivating and the story concept is so intriguing, do you have plans to publish the series and, if so, would that be as a book do you think, or as sets of individual postcards?

I would absolutely love to have Their Unusual Correspondence published as a series of books along with The Inkmarked Chronicles. I would also like to have the image portion of the postcards published with blank backs so they could be sold as actual postcards that could be mailed and/or collected. Each of my characters has his or her own style of illustration and own series of postcards. Some of the series are over 100 cards long, others only around 30. The longer series would probably have to be separated into two or three books to keep them a similar length.

I really hope you do achieve that goal Lynn and when you do you must come back and tell us about it! And do you have any new projects planned for the coming months?

Yes—too many, as is always the case! I am working on several projects at once, right now. During the day, I’ve been working on small oil paintings of birch trees (6” x 6”) and of single shells from the South Pacific on a black background (4” x 4”), which will be on my website, soon, and am planning out my next series of larger canvases. When I’m not painting, I’m writing. Evenings I’ve been working on my next hand-drawn colouring book, one that is steampunk-themed. Here is one of the illustrations that is fitting for today, entitled “Tea Cup and Teapots.”

 

063 Tea Cup and Tea Pots small size.jpg

 

Oh that is stunning! Max and Collin would love it! Which brings me onto the all important question – which do you prefer, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)

Coffee in the morning with milk and a little sugar. Chai tea with milk in the afternoon or evening (please tell Collin, I’m sorry about the milk).

I’m sure Collin will forgive you!  (albeit with an affected shudder, Octopi are very good at those!) Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Lynn, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?

Yes! But, before we do, I want to thank you so much for inviting me into your wonderful kitchen and for your kind interest in my writing and art. It has been such a pleasure to meet with you this morning and prepare this soup as we talk.

So, shall I ask the little ones to come in for some soup?

Marvellous, thankyou my dear, it has been an absolute pleasure!

I will be back in the soup kitchen next Wednesday with a very special steampunk assistant – Shannon from Bone Shaker Boxes. Max and Collin will be back in the parlour tomorrow with more Tea @ Three and of course Peril will be reading some fabulous fiction from his Lovely Library on Friday.

Blessings on your brew my dears!


Elevenses:The Poe-fect gift?

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s perfectly Poe-etic parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a run-down, rodent riddled room in a crumbling riverside tenement building but we consider that such fools have no imagination.

You find us running a little late this morning and for that we most humbly apologize, although we do have an excellent excuse –  last night The Parlour suffered yet another savage Liver Bird attack.  (Exactly why our so-called oracular cephalopterois failed to warn us of this impending disaster is still a mystery)

The great oaf took up a perch on our ill-equipped roof (sack cloth not being the ideal fabric to support such a large beast). We tried pelting it with crumpets – plain, buttered, jammed and even creamed – but all to no avail. At last, when we had used up every last crumb of our illegal tiffin hoards, Max was finally able to get rid of it by reading from our treasured collection of Mostly Awful Poetry by our arch nemesis Christina Biscotti. (For a Very Quiet Gentleman Max does have a surprising number of arch enemies…hmm..)

Still, we are not so faint hearted as to let a little thing like no roof stop our elevenses and thankfully our delightful werewolf butler (who was conspicuous by her absence last night despite our shrieks for assistance) has found us some marvellous treats to round off our Poevember celebrations…

poe cookies.JPG

 

These stunning cakes were made by Ashley’s Sweet Bytes and she sketched each design before transferring them to the cookies  – visit her blog by clicking the picture and see if you can guess which tale is depicted on each cookie!

In other excellent news we have managed to pay our rent this month and solve our surplus cat problems all in one go! We have cunningly dressed each cat in a suit and tie, popped them into a Hippo’ton Cab and shipped them off to a better life in Whitehall where we suspect they will blend seamlessly in amongst the other politicians and possibly even do the country some good. They in turn have promised to send us any bribe money they receive to cover our rent and tiffin expenses… we’re certain we can trust them to uphold their end of the bargain…

But enough of our catastrophes, yesterday we promised you an array of Poe inspired goodies and so we have  urged our oracular pet to scour the whole of time and space and pluck from the aether some Poe-fectly delightful treats for us all, and here they are…

Edgar Allan Poe printed tights (also suitable for tentacles) from The tights Shop

https://www.etsy.com/listing/182390923/tights-woman-clothing-edgar-allan-poe

This stunning hand made leather raven journal from The Diary Shop

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/210348179/handmade-leather-journal-diary-pagan?ref=market

Beautiful ‘No Beauty without some strangeness’ bracelet from Strangeness Charms

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/200964952/hand-stamped-no-beauty-without?ref=market

‘The Raven’ printed fingerless writing gloves from Storiarts

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/158002026/the-raven-writing-gloves?ref=market

Hand made to order – Edgar Allan Poe Lunch Bag from Sammo

https://img1.etsystatic.com/026/0/5155644/il_570xN.555835299_qav1.jpg

Have Your very own Poe-In-The-Parlour with this digital download and print Poe paper doll from Artwolf

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Artwolf?ref=l2-shopheader-name

But our favourite of all the picks is this unique Madeline Usher art print from Leilani Joy Art, we much prefer this rendering of her than the traditional ‘ghoul-in-bandages’ version.

https://img1.etsystatic.com/050/1/5589015/il_570xN.662297355_7drx.jpg

 

Now then, all that is required is some utterly audacious audios to usher in the afternoon and fortunately we happen to have some! We don’t know if Victoria and the Vaudevillains are still gigging but if you do have the opportunity to go see them then you most definitely ought to do so!

There, and now our tea is ready so, we hope you have an utterly ineffable afternoon and we invite you back to join us in the parlour on Thursday when we will be taking a look at where the steampunk action is this weekend.

So, until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself


Pipe and Slippers:The Tell Tale Carp

Good evening and welcome to my pulchritudinous plethora of accumulated antiquities…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.

old-library-1571043

I am Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of The New World.

But this is not a ‘lending library’; if you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of a ludicrous Tea Fiend and their rampant octopus, let me assure you that you will find no frivolous fancies or biscuit-based buffoonery here. Here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!

But wait…what’s that you say? Late Bottled Vintage Port? Ten years eh?…. well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something to fight off the chill. And I suppose I could read a very little something,

like this perhaps…

fish-on-a-plate-3-1558011.jpg

THE TELL TALE CARP

 

I do not wish you to think that there was any aspect of my wife’s character or disposition which lead me to hate her. In fact, I wish to make it perfectly clear to everyone reading this testimony that I did not, at any point either in her life or death, hate my wife. I loved her. In fact I still do. What I hated, what I came eventually to abhor to the point of distraction, was the way she ate pie.

Not just any pie.

After dinner, every blasted evening since we were wed, my wife would instruct our housekeeper, Mrs. Friggart, to serve us, in a white and blue pie dish rimmed with dancing sugarplums, a damson and bilberry pie.

I cannot begin to tell you the horror with which I came to anticipate the intrusion of that monstrous thing upon my tablecloth, for no sooner had it manifested then the dreadful ritual would begin.

First, off would come the crust, plucked apart by those delicate white fingers. Fingers which I had only ever imagined stroking ivory or lingering over the last fading petals of a lotus bloom were now to be unceremoniously plunged into the moist, fruity innards of Mrs Friggart’s pie.

I could barely bring myself to watch as she licked and slurped and savoured every last, sticky drop of syrup from beneath that brown and flaky crust. I shuddered as her tongue traced each drop’s passage down the slender digits, and sometimes, oh god, down the length of her forearm to the elbow.

Such shameless abandon to  the enjoyment of baked confection was not to be borne and so, one evening, after I had endured this torment for longer than any man of lesser mettle would have managed, I determined to put an end to the dreadful pie eater once and for all.

It was always customary on Fridays for us to have fish. Fish is such a beautiful food, filled with the potential for accidental death – an unseen bone lodged in the gullet…allergies…food poisoning…I had the Friggart  throw in some potted shrimp in the hopes of adding the happy chance of ptomaine into the bag and then (more as an after thought really) I filled up the salt sellar with warfrin, just to be on the safe side.

I was determined, you see, that she should never in that meal, reach the wretched pie. The thought of its vast, oval presence bored into my mind like some giant and ominous eye, watching my every move.

The morning found me agitated, the afternoon more anxious still, by evening I was fairly skipping about the place in anticipation; polishing the silver ware, tripping over the cat… at last the blessed hour of dinner arrived and my darling seated herself across from me at our neatly clothed table and began to eat.

You can imagine how I eagerly I watched her brow for traces of impending fever, how closely I pressed upon her the benefits of sodium, how keenly I strained my ears to hear the slightest hint of a choke or splutter…

At last I could stand the thought of the impending pie no longer and, in some wild frenzy, I leapt upon the table, seized the carp by the tail and shoved the entire fish down, with all my might, into my wife’s throat. It was not quite the way I had planned it but the results were satisfactory and I simply informed the coroner that the poor woman had been prone to these food-gorging outbursts at ‘a certain time of the month,’ to which he nodded sympathetically.

The funeral I laid on for my beloved was magnificent, the flowers were faultless, the choir sublime, the eulogy brought tears to  my eyes and not a soul suspected that she had not tragically gorged herself to death in a fit of feminine hormone-induced madness.

That, I thought, was an end of it.

Imagine my horror the following evening when, upon returning home from the office, I found my wife (still in her burial shroud and looking, I must confess, a little worse for wear) seated in her usual place and upon the table in front of her, a plate of freshly cooked carp.

I did not know what to do. The Friggart noticed nothing when she brought in my steak and potatoes (or f she did she was too polite to mention it) and so I was forced to sit and stoically ignore this apparition as it noisily slurped and sucked and crunched at the dreadful plate of carp.

I was terrified, of course, that my wife, having finished her meal, would now think it proper to ascend the stairs to bed with me but, once the plates and cloth were cleared away, and since no pie was forthcoming, she vanished.

The following night however, she appeared again and this grim pantomime of a last fish supper was re-enacted on my behalf again and again until after about a week of it I could very well see the work the worms had done on her. By the time a month was up her eyes were utterly devoured and the housemaids were beginning to raise their eyebrows at me and remark, behind their hands, about the smell.

But she did no harm other than give off a little funk and I was very nearly getting used to her nightly appearances when a dreadful – and I mean truly dreadful – thing happened.

It was my own fault entirely. I had been too bold, too jovial in my expressions, to light in my step. Aunts had raised their disproving eyebrows at my zealous chorusing in church – and one aunt in particular (a bitter old battleaxe who had been the utter scourge of my childhood and was evidently not going to rest in peace until she had blighted my manhood in some or other fashion) decided she would Pay Me A Visit.

The date I reluctantly arranged for the 3rd at 7pm and, in order that this examination of my mind and morals might seem merely an innocuous dinner party, my Aunt insisted on bringing with her a few, select, guests – her trusted physician Dr Jacobs,  our vicar Dr Hall and Professor Gilbertson the noted psychiatrist.

When I rose on the morning of fateful third I was ask easy and carefree as ever –for what had I to fear? My confidence in my own ability to set my guests at their ease was absolute; all day I practiced my wan smile, committed to memory several touching monologues describing my strenuous efforts to keep my British ‘chin up’ despite the inner pain I was harbouring secretly within my broken heart. That, I was certain, would make them ashamed that they had ever questioned my devotion as a husband and throw them off my back forever.

So assured was I in my own abilities, I had even set my wife’s shade a place at the table and bade the house keeper prepare us the same meal of carp that had been my wife’s last meal on earth – two touching tributes which I felt sure my aunt would appreciate.

When my guests arrived I bid them welcome with that same smile, touched with melancholy, that I had been perfecting. Throughout the dinner I was the perfect host, reciting my rehearsed responses to their probing questions with a natural ease. Even when my wife made her customary appearance and began to crunch her way through her own spectral plate of carp, I did not bat an eyelid.

But at length, as the meal wore on, I began to grow weary and pale, the weight of all this acting weighed heavily on my soul and I fervently wished the dinner to be over and my guests all gone home.

When the last mouthful was vanished and the last fork clattered to its plate I fairly sprang from my seat, ready to protest my fatigue and the lateness of the hour, my fears for the safety of travellers after dark and, oh, anything which might expedite their departure. But all my carefully planned excuses were cut short by the sudden appearance of the treacherous Mrs Friggart and her damnable damson pie! I stared in abject horror as she placed it in the centre of the table and laid before me the silver serving knife.

My eyes narrowed. So. The old bird knew all and she was now trying to torment me into a confession. Well, I would show her that I was made of stronger stuff!

Carefully I dished out the pie to my guests (and if my hand trembled a little I am sure nobody could have noted it) and when the grizzly ghost of my wife plunged her own spectral spoon into the pot I forced down my fears, willed the sweat from my brow and talked animatedly about the weather in an effort to block the dreadful sound of her gorging and slurping from my ears.

No doubt I had at this point turned very pale indeed. I talked ever more fluently and loudly, yet the sound of her savoury sucking increased – and what could I do? I gasped for breath, I clattered the crocks, I rose and paced the floor,  I  gesticulated wildly, I ranted, I swore!  – and yet my guests still seemed not to notice anything awry.

My wife, on the other hand, seemed to relish my agitation and her animated enjoyment of the housekeeper’s fruit pie only increased. She grew more and more absorbed, plunging her fist into the pie bowl, sending the purple juices flying so that they rained down over the table and the guests in a demonic storm.

And yet still my guests smiled and talked and got on with their meal – could it truly be they were witnessing none of this fiasco? … Or was it that they saw all and were simply mocking me, smirking inwardly at my torture? This, I became certain, must be the case!

Well, anything was better than this agony!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit, I confess the deed –I have murdered the hideous pie eater with a carp!”

 

 

Oh dear Goddess! It appears that, once again, we are dealing with an ape! I shall have to call in my good friend Dupin to fathom this mystery and catch the fiend who keeps entering my library, butchering my treasured tomes, and replacing them with this irreverent drivel!

Now, enough of this nonsense I have pie to eat…I…I mean work to do…

GOOD NIGHT!

 

 

 

 

all images from http://www.freeimages.com 

 

 

 

 

,


Soup Of The Day: With Spanky Spangler Designs

 

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is Denise, creator of the awe inspiring jewellery and Steampunk sculptures at SpankySpangler DesignsGood morning Denise, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us

Yes, I have a rather wonderful and tasty vegan recipe I found on one of my jaunts around t’internets. I can’t remember where I found it but the ingredients are; 10 tomatoes, a vine of sweet cherry tomatoes, a large onion, 6 cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, 2tsp Garam masala, a can of coconut milk, 2tbsp tomato paste and 300ml veg stock. 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Chop the tomatoes into quarters, half the cherry tomatoes and cut the onion into chunks and separate the layers, place on a baking tray with garlic (in its skin) and drizzle over olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Roast veg in the oven for about half an hour. Once veg is roasted, transfer to a large pot (don’t forget to remove the sweet and sticky roasted garlic from its skin) and add stock, tomato paste, coconut milk and stir well. Add the spices and more salt/pepper to taste then bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Carefully transfer to a blender or processor a few cups at a time and blend until smooth, or chunky if you prefer (you could use a stick/immersion blender too). Serve with a swirl of reserved coconut milk and croutons or crusty bread. 

Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we take a look at some of your stunning creations, have you brought some along to show us today?

Yes, I have brought along some of my insect brooches, some sculptures and my Victorian inspired jewellery some of which use vintage and antique clock and watch parts, movements and cogs, along with vintaj brass and sterling silver charms, chains and findings to hold it all together.

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Your steampunk sculptures really are amazing, what inspires you when you sit down to create each one

I have always had love of nature, in particular creepy crawlies. I was an odd child and I used to spend hours searching the garden collecting insects and spiders and observing them, watching the way they moved as they scurried and across my hands… A lot of people find them disgusting and are even afraid of them but I find them fascinating and when I became interested in steampunk it seemed natural to me to try and create clockwork versions… On some strange level I guess I want people to find them as interesting as I do but without the negative reaction. 

And where do you source all those amazing materials?

I usually find bits and pieces at markets, antique fairs, car boot sales and pestering local watch tinkerers but I mainly make purchases online, Etsy and EBay have a vast array of antique and vintage clock and watch parts!

Your insect sculptures have a particular resonance in light of the recent decline in bee populations and the development of robotic pollinators, was this intentional at all and do you think it is important for art to challenge us in the same way that dystopian fiction can?

Yes, the decline in bee populations has influenced my work, although robotic pollinators could pose a problem as Charlie Brooker has shown us in his televisual show Black Mirror (Hated in the Nation)! And yes, it is important for art to challenge our perceptions, our reality and also to show us possible future scenarios if we don’t change our wicked ways! I much prefer our fuzzy little helpers get the support they need to survive what we have done to them in our search for perfection, rather than relying on robots, that’s if the technology could exist! I have just recently started selling my jewellery on EBay, they allow a percentage of money from a sale to be donated to charity, I have set up my insect brooch listings on EBay and Etsy to donate 15% of each sale to the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust because they are so important to our survival! 

You also produce some amazing anthropomorphic illustrations would you like to tell us a bit about those? 

My anthropomorpic illustrations take influence from whimsical childhood memories; Alice in Wonderland, Brer Rabbit, Wind in the Willows, Rupert Bear and Tales from Fern Hollow, along with my obsession for collecting Sylvanian Families! 

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Your beautiful creations have captured the hearts of the Steampunk community, tell me, besides your online store,where else can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?

My work is only for sale online at the moment although I have exhibited at a number of art galleries in the past, including The National Glass Centre, Artsbank Gallery and The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle. I also sell my bits and bobs at conventions, craft markets and Lou Lou’s vintage fair. Details can be found on my website. 

And now the all important question, on which the fate of the world may hang… which is the brew that inspires you more when you are creating, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)

Tea of course, with a splash of soy milk, but no sugar as I’m too sour to sweeten!

(Or perhaps ‘sweet enough?’) Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Denise, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready now so lets start dishing it up. 

Max and Collin will be All Punked Up in the parlour tomorrow for some tantalising Tea @ Three and Peril will be reading some fabulous fiction from his Lovely Library on Friday. I will be back next week with another exciting steampunk guest to help me out so until then,

Blessings on your brew my dears!

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Elevenses: Poe vs King?

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s corvidishly cordial and avidly aviational parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a festering featherbed of fiendish flights of fancy filled with remorselessly ravenous rouges, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us at this deliciously eleven o clockish hour, debating the age old riddle:

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

We can’t for the life of us imagine why the answer to this riddle has plagued humanity for so long! Why we’ve only been working on it for the last 48 hours and already we’ve come up with a most excellent list of possibilities:

1) They both begin with R

2) They both have two legs

3) They both employ feathers in some fashion

4) They both produce flat notes

5) Neither can be counted upon to take the weight of a gentleman’s elbow

6) Neither is a dependable cache for your illicit Tiffin

 

Feel free to add your own possible answers in the comments section.

 

Now, as we are all stark raving ravenous here in the parlour, it is just as well our lovely werewolf butler, Klapka, has furnished us with some Gothic Goodies as we continue our irreverent Poevember celebrations…

ravencookiestepxsteplogo.jpg

This beautiful cookie tutorial is by Mary and Brenda, the cake girls, click on the picture to go straight to their recipe!

Ah, delicious, and now for some audacious audios to usher in the afternoon, something fun and whimsical perhaps?

Well, that’s a tough contest! Who do you think is the winner?

We will see you back in the parlour on Thursday when we will be All Punked Up With No Place To Go but our dear witch Mrs B will be in her soup kitchen tomorrow with one of our favourite Author / Artists Lynn Cecil! So, until we see you again, please, be always,

Utterly Yourself