Sunday, August 31, 2008

Big Bro

Final week! I'm finding it hard to pick a winner. I want Rachel to win, I think anyone who can get so much joy from eating baked beans and cheese is a real treasure. Plus she's nice. I like to see nice people win things. Sara the slapper is still there and Darnell needs serious psychiatric help. Mikey is strange and far too fond of dressing in skirts. Rex is well, Rex. Loved his winding up of the others but I don't want him to win. Mo would be a good winner. He's funny in a more understated way. Kat hams it up for the cameras too much and i think she should support Rachel much more than she does.
Who do you want to win?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Did ya miss me?

Home! Huge mountain of laundry as usual and tons of stuff to do to get the belles ready for school on Tuesday and Wednesday - yes, they go back on different days and at different times - sigh.
But first, back to my fabulous review at HERE Here's what Julie had to say 'Jill Mansell meets Nora Roberts in this terrific debut novel by Nell Dixon! Hilarious, funny, feel-good and with an intense emotional edge that will tug at your heartstrings, Blue Remembered Heels heralds the start of an exciting career for a smashing new voice in romantic fiction: Nell Dixon!

Witty, romantic and utterly compelling, Blue Remembered Heels is one of this summer’s must-read books!'
Wow! La Nora and Jill Mansell all in one sentence - squee!!!

I managed to do loads of research during my holiday but no writing (my laptop was hijacked by the belles) so my brain is bubbling now to get the words down on paper. No bill yet from the Inland revenue for my taxes - hope that comes soon so I know if i've worked everything out correctly and I can pay it and see what i've got left in the overdraft. I also need to speak to my lovely agent as we need to work out what I'm doing next. All exciting stuff!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And today

I'm posting from the Apple store in Exeter! So this is just a quick catch up. Thanks to the lovely Julie at for a wonderful review for Blue Remembered heels. I promise once I'm home late on Friday i'll put up proper links. But for now it's back to the shopping and hoping my plastic card doesn't melt under the strain.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

sun and sea

So far so good with the weather. Yesterday was a lovely sunny day so we visited Woodlands leisure park where the belles and mr nell slid down various slides and rides. Today we're in Torquay so I'm at the internet cafe which does great sandwiches and coffee and has lovely staff. Unlike the staff in the shops at Dartmouth who are universally bored and unpleasant. Speaking of bored and unpleasant Hooray that Nicole is out of the Big Brother house.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

By The Sea

I'm posting this from the Shoreline Cafe on Paignton sea front. The sun is shining, people are on the beach. It's a little breezy but warm. I love this cafe as they have wifi, great food and an excellent view down the esplanade. I suspect it may rain later but for now it's all good.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Five go off to Devon

We leave for Devon tomorrow in our touring caravan to stay near Brixham. As I'm using Brixham as my setting for Crystal Clear this is a bit of a working holiday. I've loaded the caravan up with my nice new books, some nice wine, and bought healthy treat snacks so i won't wander off my new health regime too much. Now I need Mr Nell to finish work so he can come home and totally repack everything I've just packed and add in all his stuff.
I'm hoping to get some net access while I'm away as i found a nice internet cafe last time and I've invested in a wifi finder gadget.
I found out yesterday that WH Smith in Merry Hill had sold out of Blue Remembered Heels and Waterstones only had a couple of copies left which made me a very happy bunny.
I'm really looking forward to this holiday as I love Devon and I've been working hard lately in the day job - lots of exciting but massively big projects on the go! I'll pop in and post when I can - be good!!!
And if you can't be good, don't get caught.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


We're off to Devon on Monday for a couple of weeks so posting will be random. I went book buying so I've a lovely stash to read - Phillipa Ashley, Erica james, Jenny Colgan, Rachel Gibson and a book that Phillipa has been recomending to me about Goddesses (yes, Pip I succumbed and bought it!)I also got Lynne Marshall's book and stocked up on my Clinique make up while the bonus buy is on. If you go to Boots and get it from there you get Boots points, free goodies and a five pound voucher to spend on number 7 or Ruby and Millie so the eldest belle has a new nail polish too.
Now to hide my lovely book goodies in the caravan before Mr Nell spots them and starts making grumbly noises about weight and filling up the storage.
I'm also pleased to report that I'm a full 7lbs lighter than when I started my health journey a few weeks ago. Long, long way to go but still it's a start.

Friday, August 15, 2008

2008 - Friday Fun - Sports of times past.

With the imminent arrival of the football season and the Olympics now underway here's a reminder from the Black Country Bugle of 'so-called' sports of yesteryear.

Football, rugby, cricket, athletics, speedway, horse racing and greyhound racing - most people in the Black Country can identify with at least one of the above; sports which have always managed to fill stadiums with vociferous and passionate supporters who want their team or their favourite runner to win at all costs.

But before football became an official, organised sport during the latter stages of the 19th century, and the sport of kings was made more accessible to the ordinary punter, what did our ancestors get up to on a Saturday afternoon? The answer can be found in an article written over one hundred years ago in 1903, about the sports of a bygone age, when our forefathers were followers of the Black Country's more horrible sports:
"Some seventy years ago (in the 1830s) the Midlands, especially that portion known as the Black Country, won an unenviable reputation for base cruelties and fabulous prosperity. The "sport" of thousands consisted in watching with almost breathless interest the vagaries of infuriated bulls, chained to huge stakes, and baited to death by vicious dogs on public holidays; whilst occasional half days were spent in the cock-pits, where high-bred gamesters, trimmed and spurred, ferociously battled until death or blindness ended the fray; or in the broad fields or large rooms of public houses rings were formed, and local champions fought with their bare fists for a purse of a few pounds. The credit of being victorious was of greater value both to the contestants and the owners of the birds than treble the amount of the stakes.
"These were not all the degrading exhibitions of brutality of the simple days of long ago. Occasionally there were struggles between a dog and one who stood very little higher in the intellectual scale, though he was called a man. Such were the sports of men whose muscles were their glory, whose delight was the torture of dumb animals, the cruel sports of men who, all but naked, worked like horses in the cavernous mines or at the glaring furnace fires, and spent their money like "asses" in fostering cruelties they termed pastimes, and pursuing pleasures rightly described as vicious, inhuman, and dishonourable. Happily such sports are now abolished, and we cheerfully content ourselves with amusements shorn of disgusting details, and leading to a more elevated conception of things in general.
"Wakes, fairs and carnivals are the festivals of such horrible scenes as were witnessed by immense crowds at the bull-baits in the Bull-Ring, Birmingham, the High Bullen and Market Place in Wednesbury, the Bull Stake, Darlaston, and at Tipton, Walsall and West Bromwich. Crowds of persons travelled to a town which promised an exciting bull-bait, and numerous anecdotes could be related of one of the most popular pastimes of the simple days of long ago. The pursuit of the sport was not confined to any particular class of persons. Young and old, rich and poor, were numbered among those whose special delight was to watch the infuriated bull's vagaries as he gored and tossed the dogs with all the ferocity of a member of the bovine tribe when driven to desperation by a howling crowd, and oppressive and persistent attacks. Sometimes he would break away from his stake and charge through the people, causing a general stampede and no small amount of injury to the onlookers, until pursued and killed. Bull-baiting, though not invariably carried on at any fixed period, was known to be a concomitant of the wakes, which in those times was the signal for three days of riotous and immoral conduct on the part of the majority of those who welcomed their arrival. That age has gone, and we refuse to recognise as in the category of true English pastimes the old sports with which our forefathers amused themselves."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why you should visit

There are so many great places to visit that sometimes we forget about the ones that are on our doorstep. For ages now I'd been wanting to take the belles HERE to the Avoncroft museum of buildings. Yesterday afternoon was a bit showery but we set off. It rained a tiny bit on the way but once there we had glorious sunshine and sadly there were only a dozen visitors there. This is a fantastic attraction and very reasonable, it cost £16.50 for five of us. Inside you can see the national collection of phone boxes - including a 'Tardis' my eldest belle has taken pics on her phone, tudor houses, a toll house, a chain shop, a nail makers, a vintage 1940's prefab, a windmill, a tin chapel, a Georgian earth closet, a dovecote and loads of other buildings. You can see an Edwardian showmans wagon, a fibreglass spire, an eighteenth century cell block and what's really great is you can go inside all these buildings, see how people lived and what they did there.
For a lover of architecture like me it's a dream place but just as a interesting day out it's great. There are lovely grounds for a picnic and they have lots of events there.
Support your local museums and see what you're missing.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Taxes are done, the form is sent back - now to wait for the bill. It came out better than I thought so I'm hoping I did them right. I'm sure I did though, the form was different this year and seemed a bit simpler to understand.I have my second session of physio later today. I've been doing my exercises like a good person so I hope I'll show an improvement in my leg.
So far on my new fitness, health regime I've lost five pounds so with luck by Christmas I might be less Weeble like. I have to say that despite the hip problem I feel happier and healthier than I have in years. Probably because my work life balance is better and I'm able to begin to tackle things that I've been needing to do for ages.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Warm fuzzy hugs and thanks

In lots of ways this has been a really nice week. Thanks to the lovely Judy Jarvie who mailed me a surprise package of gorgeous soap and candles. Big hugs to my good friend Olivia Gates for a copy of her latest Desire book - go buy it, it's goooood!
Thanks to a Liz, I don't know if it's a Liz I know or a random stranger who posted a five star review for Blue Remembered Heels on Amazon - mwah! whoever you are, it was so lovely, I often get nice private notes on my books but people are shy of putting them on sites. Thanks to my fellow authors, they know who they are, who sent me lovely notes saying how much they loved Blue Remembered Heels too and as they write in very different fields to me and as I admire and respect their work hugely, this was a massive compliment. Thanks to This Lady for her lovely, lovely comments and finally to Joanna D'Angelo for doing this!
I'm basking in the glow at the moment in the hopes that those hateful black crows of doubt will keep away while I write some more of Crystal Clear.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

This time of year

This time of year is very expensive - even worse than Christmas. Three lots of new uniform including extras like a blazer, tie, badge, labcoat, football boots, hockey socks, all new p.e. kit, swim stuff, trainers, shoes, bags, lunch boxes, stationary. Sigh - it's worse than Christmas.
On the good side my eldest belle's bedroom is almost done with being redecorated. She decided that the Laura Ashley pink ballerinas and glittery walls that she'd adored when she was seven were a touch passe now she's coming fifteen. So we're now cool creams and duck egg blue instead with no glitter in sight.
I'm still finding out my stuff for my taxes - usually I'm very good and have everything all put ready in one spot. I have no idea what happened this year but I suspect it was the upheaval over work when I was ill and when we changed the cars and caravan earlier this year. I'm gradually reclaiming my house and garden again now I'm feeling better and can have a life once more. I will get everything done in the next few days - I promise.

Friday, August 08, 2008

2008 - Friday Fun - 18th Century life at Dudley Castle.

This is courtesy of Ian Bott of Wednesbury and my friends at The Black Country Bugle. This is a fascinating story of handed down family history.
It comes from a book entitled Dudley Castle and published in 1834, its author a Mrs Sherwood. She describes herself as the wife of a worthy tradesman and the mother of several children, and grew up in what must have been the Dudley Port or Great Bridge area. And even in the pre-Victorian period, the locals could look back on what seemed a lost golden age, as Mrs Sherwood explains ...
“My native place lies in the road between West Bromwich and Dudley, a part of England which was once very beautiful, exhibiting such a rich diversity of hill and dale as only to require to be left to the hand of nature to render it delightful to the eye; and, in times past, as ancient records tell us, these hills and dales were planted with fir forests, extending for many miles, and interspersed at intervals with a few thatched cottages, a convent, or an embattled tower.
“But more recently, it was discovered that there were mines of coal, and iron, and limestone of considerable value, under the surface of this fair country; and, in consequence of this discovery, there is now little to be seen in the neighbourhood of my native place, but the mouths of pits, engines pouring out smoke, ground blackened with soot, and innumerable habitations of human beings, scattered in wild disorder as far as the eye can reach.”
Mrs Sherwood, if that was her real name, had grown up living with her father, a head clerk in the house of one of the first iron masters, her mother and her maternal grandmother, the latter of whom had waited on a well-to-do lady in her youth; a fact which becomes key to the unfolding story.
Mrs Sherwood begins the tale with a recollection of a family trip to Dudley to fetch new dresses for herself and her sisters when she was aged ten, presumably sometime around the year 1800. It left quite an impression, and the author recalls vividly her new frock; featuring a rose leaf on a white background, with a very small rose bud peeping from behind each leaf. Each of the three sisters was given a new summer bonnet of plaited straw, tied on with a green ribbon, and a pair of mittens made by their grandmother from silk stockings. But the new outfits were to be untouched until a particular day, when the girls’ father was to take a rare day’s holiday and escort the family by cart to Dudley Castle, which, though they could see it from just outside their house, the girls had never visited ...
“We jostled merrily away, till the towers of the castle burst upon our view, lifting themselves above the woods with which the hill is decorated. After we had seen the castle, we presently arrived at the foot of the hill, having the town of Dudley on our left, and then getting out of our cart, which my father led away to the nearest place of entertainment for horses, we passed through a gate in the wall into the woods, where a winding path led up the steep. At length, coming out upon a lawn of considerable extent just upon the brow of the hill, we had a full view of the keep of the castle standing upon the highest point of the rock, and immediately on the right, but somewhat lower, the old gateway.”
Once the family are settled in the wide expanse of the castle’s courtyard, the girls’ grandmother sits them down and begins to tell them a true story. During her younger days in service to a wealthy lady, which must have been around the 1730s or 40s, she had accompanied her mistress and her daughter, as the latter’s maid, to an evening of feasting and dancing at Dudley Castle, which, although beginning to deteriorate even that far back, was still owned and sometimes used by the Ward family, whose main residence now was at Himley:
“It was quite dark by the time we arrived at the foot of the hill,” she recalls, as the young girl who will eventually become Mrs Sherwood begins committing the tale to memory, “and the snow was on the ground; however, there were lamps fixed among the trees all along the private road up to the castle, and there were lights upon the towers, which shone as beacons far and near, for it was a great day at the castle. The horses, though we had four, had hard work to drag us up the snowy path. However, we got up in time, and passing under the gateway, we found ourselves in this court.
The court was, she continues, brought buzzing to life by the many guests and their attendants that night:
“But, Oh! my children, how different did it then show to what it does now, being littered with splendid equipages, and sounding with the rattling of wheels and the voices of coachmen and grooms calling to each other, and blazing with lights from almost every window. There was such a bustle among the carriages, that we could not drive up to the principal door for some time, and during that delay I had abundance of leisure to look about me. The keep stood much as it does now, a huge and gloomy monument of past days; but all that portion of the castle which extends before you, my dear children, was alive with the bustle and stir of persons bent on pleasure and little thinking of the various changes and chances to which human nature is liable ... the oriel windows, the stone frames of which are still so nearly entire, were at that time filled in part with painted glass, through which the lights which were within emitted rays of various tincture. And the sounds of merry voices and of harps and viols, issued from every door way.”
The room which the ladies were given for the night is described in some detail, and it’s fascinating to think that the empty grey skeleton of a building we all know today was once full of cosy, well-equipped rooms. Mrs Sherwood’s grandmother describes the ladies’ chamber as follows:
“It was a wide low room, and there was a light closet in it, and it was hung with a tarnished paper, which looked like cut velvet. And there were huge stout-backed chairs, and a large toilet, set with Indian dressing boxes.
“There was a bright fire in the grate, and whilst the housemaid assisted me to set everything in order for my ladies, she informed me that she had lived for forty years in the castle, and hoped to finish her days in it. She spoke of her lord and his family, as if there were none in the land that could compare with them.”
The old woman then goes on to describe some of the remainder of the castle’s interior as it had been during her one visit as a youth. Even in the early seventeen-hundreds, comfortable as it could be made when the occasion demanded, the castle had an air of forlornness, of past glories:
“I wish I could bring before you, as it were in pictures, the curious old-fashioned ornaments and pieces of furniture which I saw in the castle,” she recalled to her granddaughters. “There was not a window which was sashed, but all were casement, in stone frames, many of the panes being of coloured glass. And there was scarce one chamber on the same parallel with another, but there was a step to go up or a step to go down to each of these; then the chimney pieces, being mostly of carved wood or stone, were so high that I could hardly reach to the mantle shelves, when standing on tiptoe ... then the chairs were of such a size, that two of the present sort would stand in the room of one, and doors, though very thick and substantial, were each an inch or two from the floor, so that the wind whistled all along the passages, rattling and shaking the casements, and often making (as my conductor informed me) a sort of wild and mournful melody when not mingled with the sounds of voices and musical instruments; for, as she told me, the castle was even then but seldom visited by the family, and occupied only, excepting on extraordinary occasion, by a few servants.”
The grandmother was told by her guide, one of the resident staff, that during the summer there were usually just three or four servants in the castle, who took delight in breathing the clean air up on the hill above the smoke of the works below. And even though the lord of the castle had by that point removed the bulk of his treasures to one of his more comfortable residences, the few paintings that remained were enough to lighten the lives of the domestics. One in particular, which hung in the state bedroom above the dining room, was described as follows:
“It was a hard, rude painting, the colours being much faded, but it represented a lady and a knight with a numerous assemblage of sons and daughters of all ages, from the babe on the mother’s lap to the son just stepping forth upon the stage of busy life, and assuming all the airs of manhood; the towers of Dudley Castle arose in the distance, although their outlines could hardly be traced, for the painting was on boards, and empaneelled in the wainscot; the lady was rested on a bank of flowers and her husband was looking upon her with such an expression of love and confidence ...
“The dresses seemed as if they had belonged to ages past, perhaps to the time of Elizabeth; but, be that as it may, the picture representeed a domestic scene, in which the beautiful and the brave, the noble and the delicate, had lived, and moved, and acted, years before even I had entered into existence.”
Spellbound by the picture, the young maid was eager to discover who the family were, but none of the servants of the castle knew, and, as the sounds of merry-making had begun to waft up from below, they were keen to take her down to the great hall, which she then goes on to describe

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Why I hate Mozilla Firefox

It was working this morning when I checked my emails at Oh God o Clock before going to haggle down the price of a kitchen for my work. Then I came home tonight, switched on and ZAP - all my bookmarks were gone, my home page settings vanished. Everything else was okay but now I've lost a load of valuable bookmarks and sites and have had to scrabble around trying to redo different ones. As I have a crit to do, a press release to write and a book that I'd marked down research sites for I am NOT a happy bunny.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Big Bro

Nominations day - mm, this'll be interesting. Lisa gets more scary and unhinged by the day. I swear her eyebrows have a life of their own. They'll probably get their own show when she leaves. Sara of the strange nose breaks new vocal records daily with that irritating screechy voice. Kat and Rachel are both such sweethearts even if Kat is tone deaf. Am I alone in wanting to burn that hideous stripy hat of Dale's? He appeared to be trying his best to climb inside it yesterday. Darnell is a brick short of a load and has taken paranoia to new heights. Mikey is well... um peculiar. Mo must have been a sloth in a former life but he is so funny. Then there are Rex and Nicole both of them in love with Nicole - bless.
I'm loving it!

Monday, August 04, 2008


Today was my physio day. I had an assessment to see how much strength, movement and flexibility I have in my affected hip and leg. Umm, the answer to that turned out to be not very much.
The bursitis is still there and I've been told to watch what I'm doing as I could trigger an increase in the inflammation. I have some gentle stretches to do and some follow up appointments. Apparently I've lost a third of the strength, and flexibility in that leg. Guess that would be why it still hurts then.
In other news I finished chapter six of Crystal Clear and did I mention Animal Instincts is listed on Amazon for March 9th next year. I'm going to be shelf mates with the wonderful Phillipa Ashley! Yay!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Belated party

Today my Mom took us all out for Sunday lunch to celebrate her birthday which was back in June. It was a landmark birthday so we went somewhere special. So here are my parents, my brother, me and the belles and my little neice. Mr Nell and my sister in law were taking the pics.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Me and my bank

You all know I have this number problem? sigh. Now I knew I had money in my account to pay my bill at M&S. This is the one thing I do on line as they don't have a freakishly scary number thing. Could I do it? No. It kept telling me to contact my card issuer. Odd, I have a debit card but as it's signature only I can't use for anything other than paying my M&S bill - which I do every month as I like to get the points (they make prizes lol)So I ring the bank - hurdle one - read or punch in the long number on the front of the card. Hurdle two, punch in the six digit sort code, hurdle three punch in the code on the back of the card. I have dyscalculia - this is the stuff of nightmares. I'm already convinced that the whole reason I can't use my card is because I've messed up the numbers. Then I have to wait - they are very busy dontcha know. Five minutes and I get a nice lady with a scottish accent. Can I give her the number of the front of my card? argh oh, and the sort code? double argh and my date of birth - whimper.
Nice lady tells me there's a security stop on my card - wtf??? She'll put me through to that dept but they are very busy dontcha know so I could call back. Since there is no way I could cope with all those numbers again and I'm by now imaging someone hacking into my overdraft and running wild buying whatever people that run wild in other peoples accounts could buy for £50 I say I'll wait.
There's no music on this line says the nice lady as if she's worried I'll be disappointed by the abscence of an electronic version of moneys too tight to mention being sung by trappist monks with a nasal condition. I assure her thats okay and settle in to wait.
Five minutes and I finally get a breezy sounding man who appears to be trying to talk to me from the top of a high mountain in a gale. He asks for the long number on the front of my card which of course I mess up so have to give it him at least three more times along with my date of birth which I'm struggling to remember now because I'm stressed and my sort code. I offer him my mothers maiden name as a sort of buy one get one free thing to convince him it's me but he wasn't amused.
What's the problem? he asks once I finally manage to persuade him that I am the holder of a signature only card.
I tell him about trying to pay my bill.
And it's definitely you? he asks. I resist the urge to tell him I have impulses to pay other peoples M&S bills with money I don't have on fraudulently obtained cards.
Yes, it's me, paying my bill with my card - I say.
Oh, okay. You can pay it now. He says.
What? Just like that? I don't have to wait a day or swear out an oath in blood?
No, it's done.
Grrrr, banks, they're very busy don'tcha know.

Friday, August 01, 2008

2008 Friday Fun - Glass and superstition

Courtesy of my friends at the Black Country Bugle
One of the industries for which the Black Country has become world famous is the production of glass. For centuries this region has been renowned for the highest quality bottle glass, window glass and decorative glass, whether it be the lighthouses of the world, the thousands of square feet of glass of the Crystal Palace of the 1851 Great Exhibition, or the finest lead crystal that decorates the banqueting tables of royalty.

It is no surprise that Dudley Council should have one of the finest collections of glass in the world and that this collection is on display to the public at the Broadfield House Glass Museum in Kingswinford. Recently there have been a couple of new additions to the display - one a pair of historic pieces returning to the collection after many years on loan and the other a "lucky" new acquisition that reflects the best in Stourbridge glass design of the 1930s.
Our photograph shows a beautiful pair of Victorian wine goblets from the mid 19th century. These truly are Victorian goblets as they were once used by the longest reigning British monarch herself. They were used by Queen Victoria at the opening of the Royal Exchange in London in 1844, and they are back on display at Broadfield House after many years on loan.

The wine glasses are 10 inches (26cm) high and are engraved with figures of Britannia and the sea-god Neptune, as well as crowns with roses, thistles and shamrocks. The feet are decorated with the shields of the Corporation of London, the Mercers' Company and Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange in the reign of Elizabeth I, and the foot of one of the glasses has the inscription "Used by Queen Victoria on opening the Royal Exchange October 28th 1844."

The goblets were loaned to the Royal Exchange in 1991 and were greatly admired by the current queen when she re-opened the building in October that year following a major refurbishment.

London's Royal Exchange was founded in 1565 by Sir Thomas Gresham as a centre of commerce for the city. The land, a roughly triangular patch between Cornhill and Threadneedle Street, was provided by the Corporation of London and the Worshipful Company of Mercers and the building was officially opened by Elizabeth I in 1571. The original building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. A replacement was built and this opened in 1669 but it too was destroyed by fire in 1838. The current Royal Exchange building was designed by Sir William Tite and opened by Queen Victoria in 1844. It ceased to be a centre for commerce in 1939 and in 1991 it reopened after refurbishment as a luxury shopping centre.

Councillor Charles Fraser Macnamara said: "These glasses have been away on loan for a long time, and I am delighted that they are now back on display at Broadfield House for local people to enjoy. They are one of the great treasures of the council's glass collection and show that Dudley has a collection of truly national and international standing."

Joining Queen Victoria's wine goblets on display at Broadfield House is the latest addition to the collection - a rare Stuart Crystal cocktail set decorated with lucky charms and symbols.

The 1930s set, which consists of a shaker with chrome top and six individual cocktail glasses, was purchased at Fieldings Auction in Stourbridge in late May. The shaker is painted around the sides with six different lucky symbols, with a black cat, a wishbone, a sprig of white heather, a horseshoe, a four-leaf clover and a running pig. One symbol appears on each of the glasses, which also have coloured bands down the stem. The complete cocktail set is now on show in the museum in gallery seven on the first floor.

Good luck charms and symbols are familiar to us all. Black cats have long been associated with witchcraft but in Britain and Ireland it is still considered good luck to have a black cat cross your path. However, in those countries where witch hunts were prevalent a black cat crossing your path is considered bad luck.

The wishbone, or furcula, is the Y-shaped sternum bone found in birds that forms an attachment point for the wing muscles. Traditionally two people pull on each side of the bone, and when it breaks, the one who gets the larger part is said to have a wish granted.

Lucky white heather is a Scottish tradition that reached England in Victorian times, after Queen Victoria had popularised Scottish holidays and all things Scottish. Finding white heather (Calluna vulgaris) growing wild is a sign of happiness and for this reason it is often used for a bride's headdress or bouquet. In Lowland Scotland white heather is a sign that fairies have set foot where it grows, and in the Cheviot Hills and along the Scottish border burning heather will bring on rain.

Horseshoes have a long tradition in folklore of warding off evil spirits and bringing good luck, although there are variations as to whether the shoe should be hung points up or points down. Other variations insist that the horseshoe must have been used and must have been found and not bought. One of the stories surrounding the horseshoe is that St Dunstan (10th century Bishop of Worcester and later Archbishop of Canterbury) was a blacksmith by trade and that he nailed a horseshoe to the Devil's hoof when he was asked to shod the Devil's horse. This caused the Devil great pain, and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after the Devil promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is hung over the door.

The four-leaf clover has long been considered a symbol of good fortune, no doubt due to its rarity. Horticultural experts estimate that there are approximately 10,000 three-leaf clovers for every one four-leaf clover. According to legend, the first leaf represents hope, the second is for faith, the third is for love, and the fourth is for luck. It is possible for clover to have more leaves and the highest recorded was an 18-leaf clover.

Most of the good luck symbols on the Stuart Crystal cocktail set are well known but the choice of a lucky pig is a little unusual. There are very few good luck traditions attached to pigs, in fact the opposite is largely true and pigs are considered signs of ill omen. Traditionally, sailors and fishermen consider pigs to be bad luck, so much so that they will not even say the word while they are at sea. Those that meet a pig on their way to their boat will not sail that day and the extremely superstitious will not even allow bacon or pork on their boats. Pigs are also said to be able to see the wind. However, in spite of this pigs are sometimes used as lucky charms because of their connotations with piggy banks and so they are symbols of wealth. Of course, the pig has a special place in Black Country folklore and it may be for this reason that the Stuart Crystal designers decided to include it in their lucky cocktail set. Perhaps readers will be able to tell us the traditional stories behind the pig being a good luck symbol.

Queen Victoria's Royal Exchange glasses and the Stuart Crystal lucky cocktail set are on display at Broadfield House Glass Museum, Compton Road, Kingswinford. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 12 noon to 4pm and admission is free. For further information contact the museum on 01384 812745 or visit the website at