Tuesday, 6 April 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 5th & 6th April, 2021

 I had every intention of getting up and doing my Wii Fit workout when I woke at 6am on Easter Monday but decided I couldn't be bothered and waited for Jon to get up. He brought tea back to bed and I read until 8am. We had banana porridge for breakfast, I did a load of washing and hung it up outside just in time for snow, which thankfully didn't stick. After a quick sweep of the stairs, kitchen & downstairs rugs we lit the wood burner and worked on Jon's family tree until midday. We got as far back as the early 18th century and discovered that part of his Dad's branch of the tree came from The Cotswolds (a possible road trip for the Summer?)

An ancestor closer to home was Jon's great-grandfather, Alfred Baker (1854 - 1930), a master carpenter. He married Julia Ann Bibb (1857 - 1898) who was recorded as being unable to read or write. She was born in New Street, Walsall, which ran adjacent to St Matthew's Church and on our regular litter-picking route. It had remained virtually unchanged since Mediaeval times until the slum clearances of the 1950s (the photo is from the 1890s). Her father, Arthur Bibb (1836 - 1908) was, according to the 1861 census, a whip maker. She died at the age of 42 in Richmond Street, two streets away from the house where Jon grew up, the cause of death given as Morbus Cordis which used to be the term used when there was sudden unexplained death from natural causes. The Bibb family can trace their lineage back to Thomas Mills who was born in Walsall on 10th March 1650 and has a family crest.

After noodles we braved the outside - it was lovely with the sun on our backs but bastard freezing out of it. I planted my Chinese lanterns, tied up both the clematis which had a bit of a growth spurt in the last few days and emptied the last of the pot plants on the patio to make room for the olive tree when the danger of frost is over (which won't be any time soon). 


I don't even remember planting this candytuft in one of the old chimney pots Grandma hauled out of a skip back in the 1960s when everyone was getting central heating fitted and bricking up their fireplaces and it comes back year after year.

Jon gave the front of the house a tickle with masonry paint while I swept the patio. We had a posh coffee al fresco but scurried inside to warm up soon afterwards.


Of course, my new kediya needed an outing. I wore it over my vintage embroidered maxi dress. My hair was a disgrace after sitting next to Adrian & Liz's firepit on Saturday afternoon so I tamed it by plaiting and pinning it up.


After thirty minutes of self-care (which included a hair wash), we watched BoJo's announcement accompanied by a glass of wine. We had a paneer curry with nan bread for tea.

Later we caught up with Grayson Perry's Art Club and a couple more episodes of Waking The Dead although with the last couple of days of gardening I was struggling to stay awake.

On Tuesday I did my Wii Fit workout and wrapped the weekend eBay sales. We had toast for breakfast as Jon hadn't been to the shops since Thursday and we were down to a solitary orange. It was a bitterly cold day although gloriously bright and sunny. Jon popped to the post office and did a supermarket run and was back just before the snow started. I continued with the family tree, researching my maternal grandma Joan's branch of the family, managing to get as far back as 1708. 


This photo of the Coppack family of Chester has always been in my family, I'd always assumed they were distant cousins but it turns out that Sarah Ellen (1841 -1903) & John (1841 - 1898) were my great-great-grandparents. They were near-celebrities in Victorian Chester having fourteen surviving children. Evaline Maud (1875 - 1944) was my great-grandma (mother of my grandma). Here is she with her mother and six sisters, Annette, Mary Ellen, Isabella, Agnes, Florence and Mary.


If you've ever visited Chester you may have seen the Blue Coat Hospital School on Northgate. This was founded in 1717 as a charity school for poor boys, the first of its kind outside London. In 1854, a statue of a Blue Coat boy was placed at the front of the building, after an appeal raised £25. The model for this statue was my great-great-grandfather, John Coppack. His father, also John Coppack (1812 - 1856) was a shoemaker in Northgate Street, his mother, Mary Greenway (1814 - 1853) had died before he'd enrolled in the school.


This framed print has hung in Stonecroft since my grandparents lived here. 

The council's fortnightly brown bin (garden waste) collection was due to restart after the winter break so after our noodles, we made sure it was filled to compacity and wheeled it out ready. I planted more sunflower seeds whilst Jon did radishes, Greek beans and courgettes.




Jon bought these secondhand black denim Levis' before lockdown but despite them being the size he always wears, he couldn't do them up. The last time I wore this vintage Alpnani block printed tunic a couple of people commented that it would look good with jeans. As the Levis' are destined for the charity shop when it reopens next week (yay!) I thought I'd give them a try (they're massive round the waist but okay with a belt), confirming the reason why I don't wear jeans....life's too short for boring clothes.

Vintage 1960s suede coat (Cheryl), Fry Campus boots & Alpnani tunic (both eBay), me-made pompom hat

It might look like Spring outside but the weather is more akin to January.


The rest of the afternoon was spent indoors. I started another craftivism banner after more posts about them on Facebook but had to rush to the Kinky Shed in the snow to retrieve a garment a TV company needed for a shoot on Friday (a 1960s gents raincoat).

Tea was a posh quiche (from the bargain section) with salad. Tonight's crime night, a catch-up of 24 Hours in Police Custody, we hadn't realised there was a new series.

Now restrictions have been eased we're off for our first National Trust visit in 4 months tomorrow. By the look of the weather forecast, it looks like we'll be wearing thermals! 


Stay safe & well and see you soon.

43 comments:

  1. We're off National Trusting too [only been to our very local one in the past few months]this coming weekend. Am far more excited than I should be. How fascinating about the Blue Coat school...I've taken photos of that very statue as it reminded me of the uniform that the boys at Christ's Hospital just up the road from me still wear to this very day. At the time my son was in uni halls just over the road in Chester. Such a small world! Arilx

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    1. Yay! We don't have an NT property in Walsall so it's been a long wiat for us. I intend to make full use of our membership cards now, though.
      Of course, you'd know the Blue Coat Boy wouldn't you? Family legend goes that young John was encased in a cast with only a pipe to breathe through while the plaster was poured in, I think he was traumatised by the experience for many years afterwards. xxx

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  2. That's great news you can head off to a new National Trust spot! I love seeing the pics of your distant rellies, Vix. The woman (in the picture of all women) on the far right, slouching, bears a strong resemblance to you! Or I guess vice versa!

    Your new kediya looks fantastic with your blue skirt - a perfect match! I like the outfit with jeans, but yeah, jeans are so boring. It's not "you". How cool that one of your coats is going into a TV show!

    Happy week - sending you warm vibes for the end of the chilly weather. We have blue skies, but the cold wind coming off the ocean reminds us that summer is still a long ways off.

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    1. I can't tell you how excited I was to leave Walsall after so long! I shall be giving that National Trust membership card a right old battering over the coming months to make up for lost time.
      Slouchy lady! I think that's my great-great grandma. I love finding out the dates of birth and looking at the census details. I've owned these photos for years and it's wonderful to put some meat on the bones.
      Those jeans can go back to the charity shop. They felt okay to wear but nah...they aren't for me! xxx

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  3. Your garden is looking fantastic and Sheila is right - the jeans would look OK on many others but they're jsut not "you".

    Hope you enjoy your visit tomorrow, suggest you have lots of flasks of hot drinks with you and mega-quantities of thermals ☃️ ❄️ ☃️

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    1. I should have worn a bal;aclava, my face was frozen! x

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  4. What amazing coincidences.
    Today I am blogging about plaits while my husband sits downstairs on his laptop plotting his family tree.
    I think he was hoping he could get an Irish passport but it appears his links are more Scottish than Irish. He has discovered that two of his great grandparents died on the same day but no-one knows why so he is awaiting a copy of the death certificate to see if this will shed any light.
    He has got as far back as 1788 on his father's side.
    It makes me think I should do mine. My maiden name was O'Connell so maybe I will get that Irish passport!!!

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    1. I loved your hair in plaits, you should wear it like that more often!
      How funny that both me and your husband are researching the family trees. Like him I was hoping to find some Irish relatives so I could apply for a passport but I'm as boringly English as they come. I hope you fare better! xxx

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  5. It is so interesting to see all the old photos and info you have, thanks for sharing it with us. I love the first outfit and the second one just doesn't look like you at all - and now I'm trying to remember if I've ever seen you in pants before at all. I don't think I have! I hope it warms up for you soon. :)

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    1. Thanks, Martha! Pants are knickers to us Brits, I do wear them occasionally! I have one pair of bellbottoms and a couple of 1970s jumpsuits but I'm a dress/ skirt girl really! xxx

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  6. Everything is looking great. Regarding the black Levi's - I've always found that any jeans in black run smaller than actual denim. I don't know why, but I've always had to buy a size up. Ranee (MN)USA

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    1. Hi Ranee - thanks so muuch for that, that explains why Jon couldn't fit into them! x

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  7. So fascinating doing one's family tree. Our DNA is from our ancestors, so they do live on through us. Amazing stories - I just love hearing people's family history, so this is really enjoyable. Fantastic too that you have some photos of days gone by.

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    1. I absolutely love social history, Who Do You Think You Are? fascinates me. Initially I just wanted to find out about my Dad's grandparents who were born in the Victorian Era and I never knew - it's led me down all manner of rabbit holes! xxx

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  8. Our family tree is quite strange, my mum you cannot get past my great great grandfather as. He comes from Maffia stock in Verona so we cannot go there lol , my dads halfu history is also odd as my grandmother was kicked out as she had a fling with a serviceman hence my Japanese dad. He doesn’t even really talk about it or how he ended up In the UK. It’s a bit strange my DNA was all over the place when we did it couple of years ago . I thought why couldn’t I be like Paul 1/2 sweedish 1/2 English lovely. But the Italian and the Japanese in mine did stick out.
    I am trying to get my mojo to go out into the garden at the moment I have done my seeds but it’s still a tad cold for me another 2 weeks and I will be out in force.
    I have a love hate relationship with Jeans I own a few pairs but I have to be in the mood to wear them. I love leggings. And skater or smock dress that hide things. Keep safe love and huggs

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    1. Families are so interesting, aren't they? I reached a dead end with my Dad's Mum who died before I was born. She lived with her father (my great-grandfather), her two siblings and her grandparents. Her dad was listed as a widower at the age of 22 and there's no record of the kids' mother whatsoever.
      Keep checking your DNA results as they frequently change as more people submit theirs. I was 98% English (from the Midlands) and now I'm 2% Norwegian, 4% Scottish & 12% Welsh!
      I know what you mean about hiding things - I'm not ashamed of my arse but don't feel the need to show it to the world - dresses are best! xxx

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  9. You both have an interesting family tree and have done well to get so far back - I clearly need to put some effort into mine as thought I would have to buy birth certificates to trace my mother back and didn't want the expense of doing this multiple times for each generation - perhaps I am not going about it the right way. Very imaginative combo today - jeans are boring but you can always hack them up 70s style and make into denim skirts or bags lol. It's going to be great to get out to a National Trust garden but you'd better keep moving - it's freezing this morning!

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    1. You definitely don't need to buy birth certificates, they're all online - although trying to work out the copperplate handwriting is another matter!
      I think those jeans can go back to the chazza, if they were indigo I'd be tempted to chop them up though! xxx

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  10. Love your family photos and history. 14 kids - what a randy hound dog he was.

    I live in jeans and feel weird in a dress.

    Julie

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    1. That made me laugh out loud - randy hound! xxx

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  11. How absorbing yor ancestry work must be, Vix! I can never pass old photos in charity shops - when you think about how relatively expensive film photography was - it was quite the occasion having your photo taken. I also love cabinet cards and those portrait cards that were very popular in the 40s/50s. We have biscuit tins full of family snaps of holidays and Christmasses lol

    Your kediya is wonderful - well spotted, Betty! Such lovely detailing. I'm with you on jeans - they're OK - but I feel a bit ordinary wearing them. I know a lot of people spend years finding the 'right' pair - perhaps I'm just wearing the 'wrong' ones lol.

    Candytuft! Oh I'd forgotten about it! I'm going to find some and relive my childhood garden memories - such a sweet plant - yay!

    There's a Bluecoat School building in Liverpool too. Very similar style - it's a centre for contemporary art and small local creative businesses now.
    http://www.thebluecoat.org.uk/

    Have a lovely National Trust day out - it is glorious here today - but flippin freezing! We're well occupied with my Mum who is slowly getting to grips with being home again. She's amazing - but the stay-at-home business is making her feel lonely.

    Take care all - Maryland, I hope you're having a delicious Spring; big love to you xx

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    1. Hi Elaine! Wasn't Betty good to spot that kediya? I loved seeing them on the Rabari men we saw leading their camels along the roads of Gujarat.
      Yes, maybe we've not found the right jeans but I can think of better and more exciting things to search for - block print, embroidered things, Afghan dresses....
      I've planted some Candytuft in the greenhouse hoping to get a bit more, I love stuff that comes back each year like an old friend.
      There's a Blue Coat School in Walsall - I only did the infants and juniors, my brother and Jon stayed until secondary school. We didn't get the snazzy outfits, sadly!
      I hope your mum's settling in and she's got some nice neighbours she can at least wave at. Much as I like my own company I'm not sure I'd cope well with solitary liiving in a pandemic. Send her my love. xxx

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  12. That candytuft in the stone chimney looks fabulous and I love your stone mushroom, all fits in with the age of your house. I have planted some chinese lanterns in a pot which I hope are successful as they are so pretty and unusual looking. Enjoy your National Trust visit - it is sunny here but much colder.

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    1. Thank you! I'm hoping this year's nasturiums can look equally good when I plant them in my other chimney pot! I hadn't thought of potting up the Chinese Lanterns, I've scattered them around the garden - I bet yours will look fabulous! xxx

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  13. Wow, you and Jon have done really well Vix delving into your family history. How great to have those old photos too. I thought there was a different person in your garden until I spotted it was you in jeans. I love my stretchy leggin jeans (good for lunges and wearing with wellies) but you are far too unique and glam for jeans! Your new top and garden looks fab. Have a wonderful time on your NT outing. Lulu x

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    1. Thanks, Lulu! The jeans were comfy but just felt a bit ....meh! I looked at the photo and felt like my superpowers had been sapped! xxx

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  14. the kediya looks fabulous on you!! and you are so beautiful in blue - fresh like the personification of spring!
    impressive research about your families! i fear i would´t get further then my great-grandmas - my family is sampled from different european places - half of them from the rural east like east pomerania (now russia) and silesia (now czech rep. & poland). dito the BWs bunch......
    was tempted to take over a cord jeans the BW has grown out - but you are right - live´s to short for boring clothes :-D
    xxxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Beate! I'm more and more drawn to blue as we move into Spring!
      What a shame you can't research your family tree. Both Jon & I only knew a handful of relatives growing up (and hardly any now) so it's interesting to learn about our past!
      Yes, donate the cords, you're too fabulous for boring attire! xxx

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  15. It's wonderful to be able to go back so far so far in history for yours and Jon's family trees. The photos are brilliant. I'm managing to get to 3x great grandparents on almost all sides bar one. The Irish records are no match for the UK ones for a variety of reasons...

    Loving the new tunic over the dress (my favourite) and the 'up' plaits are lovely, too.

    You have been working so hard in the garden; no wonder you're knackered! I have a doorstep to paint, a chair and a planter but am waiting for warmer weather. It's too damn cold out there - especially when you're not moving about much! I love your candytuft cascading out of the chimney pot; it looks gorgeous.

    Have a fab time at the NT property - it's almost like normal times again...
    xxx

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    1. I can't believe how easy it was to go so far back in time. Jon didn't even know his parents' dates of birth when we started and yet all the information was there for the picking!
      I always think of you when I wear that dress - next time we meet I'll have to wear it!
      I've got a list of garden tasks too, I did loads yesterday but can't be arsed with battling the weather today.
      Hooray for normality! I wonder how long I'll be able to resist the lure of the charity shop when they reopen on Monday? xxx

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  16. You look like a beautiful Geisha in your new blue top. Weather's ridiculously cold up here for outdoor gardening. Loving the 'Meet the Ancestors' segments. What interesting families you both had.I'm afraid my 'go-to' fashion has always been jeans for practicality more than anything. May I ask what the dressing is that you use on your salads, please? Hope you had a lovely NT day out. xxx

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    1. Thanks so much! I thought that kediya had an Oriental touch to it, too. Those jeans were comfy just too ordinary and seemed to suck the life out of that tunic.
      The salad dressing is Shaws of Hudderfield "Mighty American Style Relish", a gherkin based dressing you add to mayonnaise, it's from Morrison's. xxx

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  17. I'm glad to hear that although it has been bitterly cold, at least you had some sunshine, which makes all the difference. Both Monday and Tuesday were absolutely horrendous here, with a succession of snow flurries!
    I'm truly amazed at what you were able to find out about your as well as Jon's families and I absolutely agree with Sheila about the resemblance between you and the "slouching woman".
    I did visit Chester once, but don't remember much of its buildings as I was too busy chatting with two lovely blogging pals ;-)
    I'm not surprised you wanted to wear your new kediya immediately, and it looks absolutely amazing worn over your vintage embroidered maxi dress. That shade of blue suits you very well indeed. I did a double take seeing you in jeans! It's not uncommon for Jos to buy the same model in blue and black, with the black pair being a larger size as he cannot do them up in his regular size. Isn't that odd?
    Your garden is coming along nicely. I love watching everything spring into life! xxx

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    1. You're right, you can cope with the cold if there's sunshine. I have no inclination whatsoever to mess about in the garden when it's grey and drizzly. I had intended to repot a few houseplants outside but I'm staying in and catching up with blog reading instead.
      I should have drawn up a plan when we met in Chester and revisited Grandma's family home, the church the family went to from 1700 and Blue Coat Schoolbut chatting & charity shopping was far more fun!
      The kediya needed to be worn and I thought I'd give the jeans a go before redonating them. Interesting about the black denim coming up smaller, I shall take it all back about Jon getting lardy! xxx

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  18. I'm happy to see you styling your new kediya. It's so beautiful, there is no sense in waiting a second to wear it. I love how you paired it with your vintage embroidered maxi dress. Both of the items are in a similar tonality of blue. They look great together and I also to see your hair braided. The statement earrings are the perfect finishing touch.
    I like the outfit with the jeans as well, but somehow it isn't you even if you did style those jeans well with that fantastic coat and blouse. It's not just that I'm more used to seeing you in skirts and dresses, you wear them so well that jeans just don't seem to cut it.
    Fascinating to read about your family history. Your new banner is cool!

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    1. Thanks so much, Ivana! It's amazing at how many shades of blue there are, I held the kediya up in front of my wardrobe and the embroidered dress was the perfect match.
      No jeans are just a bit too ordinary. It seems such a waste encasing my legs in dark denim when i could be in embroidery or block print! xxx

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  19. I don't mind jeans being boring but I find them really uncomfortable! The kediya looks great on you!
    I wish I had some old chimney pots as they are great for growing potatoes in- my Mum used to grown ours in a couple from my first childhood home.
    That's so interesting about your family history and that your relative was a model for the statue!

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    1. I was surprised at how comfy the jeans were - mind you they were a few sizes too big so not restrictive or annoying!
      I love the idea of growing spuds in chimney posts. We used to have loads more but some scumbags nicked them before I'd managed to plant them up - never leave an empty pot in plain sight! xxx

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  20. So interesting that you could investigate through family lines into the 18th century, and find all these photos. The Blue Coat school story is particularly interesting (and moving too!)
    Your new kediya is a lovely piece, its prints and color and design! so fabulously styled with more blue color!. And fab jewellery too!
    And I think you don't look boring in jeans!, but this tunic could look fab over a pair of colourful flares too. I don't like jeans on me, as feel they're both uncomfortable and unflattering!.
    Hope you enjoy your National Trust visit despite the cold weather. We're having snow only on the mountains around us, but there's a chilly wind!. So crazy weather!
    besos

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    1. I can't believe how far back I've got with some of my branches of the tree, I've discovered so many interesting facts that it's become almost addictive!
      Poor little John losing his mother at such a young age but wonderful that he was able to get a free education and rise out of poverty.
      One day I'll stumble across a perfcetly aged pair of flares in a charity shop that won't be 2 foot too long and fit perfectly - in my dreams! xxx

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  21. Enjoy your National Trust Visit, looking forward to your photos .
    Your kediya is an amazing piece and looks so good with your skirt. I agree with you on the jeans , life is too short to wear boring clothes is just so true.
    Family history is so interesting and such a fascinating and touching story regarding the Blue Coat School. Enjoy your Spring garden despite the fickle weather.

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  22. Hopefully when the series comes out with the guy wearing the coat from your stock you'll be able to spot it! I really like the kediya worn over the maxi - the full "skirt" of the kediya adds an interesting shape to the outfit. I don't like wearing plain jeans so if I find any at the thrift store that fit me well, I will paint them, or add something else to make them more interesting.

    It has been sunny and warm here this past week but we're now under a four week "Stay-At-Home" order because the case numbers are going up so quickly here.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. If you have a blog I'll pop over and return the favour.

Lots of love, Vix