Sunday, 5 August 2018

So Final. So Over. The Death of an Icon.

Today August 5 commemorates the untimely death of Marilyn Monroe at the age of 36, an effervescent glamour puss and arguably the most famous female icon of all time.

My interest in Marilyn began as a teenager as I was waiting for a flight to Spain for having spent most of my holiday fund on the book by Fred Lawrence Guiles in an airport store and to the consternation of my family, I then spent the rest of the week with my head buried within the pages and I have been reading about her ever since!

Her mysterious death on Sunday August 5 1962 has only added to the myth and intrigue which surrounds her complex and fascinating life and with every passing year, the events of that hot and balmy August weekend in 1962 would appear to demand yet more theories and innuendo as the clamour for reasons to refute the official cause of death as 'Probable Suicide' remains undiminished.

Is it likely that we will ever know the truth of what happened to Marilyn Monroe?


And even if incontrovertible evidence were presented that she did indeed die by her own hand, would we believe it?

For is it possible to accept that a beautiful and talented woman took the conscious decision to end her life one lonely Saturday evening?

'I could see from many feet away that Marilyn was no longer living...'

 The answer is 'probably not' when one considers the demand for the books which are published in ever increasing numbers with each passing year and which all purport to tell us 'The Final Truth'.

Whether it was the tragic 1997 car accident of a Princess who perished for failing to wear a seat belt or the jealous rage of a successful and affable O.J. Simpson leading him to butcher two innocent people on a June evening in 1994; or indeed the probable suicide of the most famous film star of all time; it could be argued that the most logical explanation would appear to be the most absurd.

However; conspiracy theories, motives and explanations aside, all we can know for certain is that the nude body of Marilyn Monroe was discovered in a partially decorated bedroom of her home in Westwood in Los Angeles 56 years ago on this day.


'There she was, laying face down on the bed, bare shoulders exposed...'

For it was the idea of this 'death scene' which captured my imagination for the design of one of my more controversial pieces and as Marilyn had died in the house she had bought only months before with a tiled doorstep bearing the Latin inscription for 'My journey is completed', 'Cursum Perficio' is the recreation of the demise of this icon in 12th scale and inspired by the photographic images and published material available to me.

'And as I got closer, I could see the phone clutched fiercely in her hand..'

The 'Marilyn' figure is the creation of Jain from the Giddy Kipper and although she is internationally known for her 'whimsical' characters in miniature - several of which have now moved in with the other fantastical folk over at the All Hallows Hamlet; Jain would probably be the first to argue that a 'deceased' Marilyn Monroe was very far from the definition of a whimsical character!

‘I suppose she was trying to make a phone call before she was overwhelmed. It was just so unbelievable, so simple and final and over.’ Ralph Greenson

However, having accepted my commission with some bemusement, Jain has created a shockingly poignant figure of some grace and contention which is entirely in keeping with the maelstrom of conspiracy which continues to swirl around the death of this lady, even after all of these years.

Sources Used:
Goddess The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe Anthony Summers (UK: Indigo 1985)

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Flaming June! Where Have You Gone To?

It only seems like a week ago to the beginning of last month when I had spent the morning looking at some images of two brides who had both married on the first day of June some years apart and my memories of being surrounded by buckets of glorious sunflowers, fragrant roses and lush foliage as I grappled with scissors, silver wire and the clock!


And although June may have left us for another year, she has been kind enough to leave some glorious weather; although as I was sprinkling the lawn with water earlier today for the Girls to enjoy some grubbing around - I admit to feeling somewhat nostalgic for the occasional rainfall.

Alas, with no rain in sight let's get on with my June Mash-Up!

The Studio:

With the final final dry-build for Nicole's House finally completed - I've been moving sofas and arranging dining room chairs as I plan the logistics of the kitchen design and the creation of a sunken living room.

Having made so many mistakes in the past with rushed constructions, unsatisfactory room plans and abysmal lighting conditions - I've learnt to keep my hands off a dry-build and to simply leave it be until I can imagine myself moving from room to room knowing that every window, fireplace, door and piece of furniture is in the right place.


It was only as I looked at what I thought was the final dry-build did I see the need to lower the roof pitch and that I could also squeeze in another full length window! 


As more images of Nicole's House can been seen on the Brentwood Ghost Blog - there are further exclusives to feast over.

AND having donned my Crooked Hen apron - I have also been experimenting with wire, tape and Mod-Roc to create some trees!


As they will be eventually find themselves among the weird and wonderful in the All Hallows Hamlet - these won't be any kind of ordinary tree!


And by the time I'd finished plastering these strange little trees, I also looked very far from ordinary - with a face of fetching white freckles and those ghost-like hands.

You can catch the big 'Reveal' later this month with a free flight over to the world of the Crooked Hen!

Ancestor Sleuthing and Grave Hunting:

As you can usually find me in the genealogy office at York Cemetery on a Friday, I've been busy ancestor sleuthing for our visitors and grave hunting all manner of interesting folk for my two guided tours in July and August.


The 'Walk on the Art Side' in July will celebrate the lives and legacies of the writers, artist, sculptors and other creatives from whom York Cemetery is their final home and in August I will be leading an evening walk of 'Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths' around the graves of those who met with an unusual end - and given my penchant for storytelling, there should be a surprise or two along the way!

The Other Stuff:

With the demands of my work and the responsibilities as a full-time care giver; I tend not to stray too far from home these days but with a 'day pass' and on the sweltering hot afternoon of the last day of June I took the train to Leeds for the opening party of the 5th annual exhibition of Sketch That - a collection of work by a group of West Yorkshire artists:

Elizabeth Nast, Helen Dryden, Kat Archibald, Letty McHugh, Louise GarrettPixiebiscuit and Rejectamental.


As I champion Helen on social media, it was an nice opportunity to finally meet up and I treated myself to her delightful 'Lettuce on a Chair' who will be coming home with me when the exhibition comes to an end later next month.

If you should find yourself in Leeds before August 13, why not go along to the Ridge Room of the Heart Enterprise and Art Centre in Headingley and meet 'Lettuce' for yourself?

And as I made my way home I couldn't resist popping into the Leeds Samaritans shop and came away with some fabulous steam-punk inspired necklaces perfect for the 'Small Folk' and all for the bargain price of £1.50 as grumpily modelled by Ted!


Family, Feline and Poultry...

As some of you have left me kind messages having been confused by past references to 'my boys' - you can see in this collage of images that they are now both anything but!


For despite the challenges that my life continues to delight and infuriate me with, knowing that they are both seizing life by the collar and are loved by two fabulous girls - well, that's enough for me right now.

And it never ceases to amaze me when I discover the felines enjoying a cat-nap in the most unlikeliest places but perched on top of a Papier Mâché model was a new one for me!


As we're basking in a July heatwave, it's just as well that it seems so wrong to be working on this model for the All Hallows Eve tale now that I have a problem with a squatter of the feline variety!

He certainly looks like he's 'Living in Clover' on his bed of Papier Mâché doesn't he? And if your imaginary inhabitants are in need of a little of that Leprechaun magick,with a pinch of 'Heather' and a pinch of shredded paper money suspended in resin - there is still a vial or two available for sale in the Crooked Hen Gift Shop!



My Bookshelf:

Blessed Are The Weird - Jacob Nordby (Someone who sees the world in the same crazy way as me!)
A Very Private Woman - Nina Burleigh (An interesting biography of a very intriguing artist)
Frances Burney Journals and Letters - Penguin Classics (A fabulous and authentic letter writer and novelist who actually lived through the the glorious 18th century)
The Art of Asking - Amanda Palmer (Crowdfunding pioneer, musician and inspirational!)  
The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club - C. David Heymann (An eavesdrop among the movers and shakers of the Washington elite)
Finding Sarah - Sarah Fergson (A poignant memoir from one of the most colourful members of the British Royal Family!
Domestic Management. With Instructions to Servants in General - Multiple Contributors (I can dream, can't I? Or else I can use this lovely tome for the research of my Lord B house...)


My Playlist:

My favourites for June have been: London Grammar, Tom WalkerEnigma, The Sherlocks, Ben Howard and Taylor Swift.

Must keep that last one quiet from my sons!



May YOUR July be all that you wish!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Remembering Nicole Brown Simpson...

On Sunday June 12 1994 Nicole Brown Simpson became a public figure overnight for on that balmy Sunday evening she was senselessly and brutally murdered in the grounds of her home at 875 South Bundy Drive in the leafy suburb of Brentwood in California.

Her murder trial and that of her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman who had been murdered alongside her became known as the 'Trial of the Century' with her former husband Orenthal James Simpson as the accused.


It is hard to believe that Nicole was murdered over twenty four years ago for I can remember the BBC news reports and the iconic photographs of the bloody pathway lined with the neat rows of purple and lilac Agapanthus.


I also remember the farcical 'Bronco Chase', the sensational headlines week after week in The National Enquirer, the court testimony of Mark Fuhrman and the shock of the “Not Guilty” verdict on October 3 in the following year.

And yet what I most recall is the realisation of a grotesque dichotomy that despite the voluminous photographs of a beautiful and happy Nicole that she had in fact been abused by Simpson throughout most of their seventeen year relationship.

I just don't see how our stories compare -I was so bad because I wore sweats & left shoes around & didn't keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you like it - or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes...



Published in October 1994 and written by her friend Faye Resnick, Nicole Brown Simpson: A Private Diary of a Life Interrupted was the first book that I ever bought about Nicole and I am still reading about her.


She was the subject of my Thesis in 1999 and remains the purpose for my work ever since.

There are literally hundreds of books that have been written about the life of Nicole and of her life with Simpson and the tales of glamour, celebrity, wealth and beauty have frequently made her appear remote, abstract and insignificant.



Yet it is the very tragedy of her early death that makes her life a compelling human story of hope, love, obsession and betrayal and that is why I choose to remember her.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Good Grief! It's the Graveyard Squirrel...

Have you ever heard the one about how there are only two things that are certain to us? The first one being that we are all subject to some form of taxation and the second is that one day we WILL all die.

As a genealogical researcher I can often spend a lot of my time grappling with the mystery of death for if I’m not in search of a missing ancestor on behalf of a client, I can be poring over the details on a newly discovered (and often indecipherable!) certificate of death or else trawling through parish records in search of a burial entry or firing off email inquiries to the Registrar of a crematorium.

However, if the thought of death is a thought that you struggle with and have no wish to contemplate; my blog as the Graveyard Squirrel is probably not the blog for you!

For on this blog, as well as sharing the tales of and triumphs of family history, I will be sharing the images of my wanderings among the dead and my reasons for doing so are quite simple for I love nothing more than a ramble through a cemetery and I have been pottering among the tombstones for as long as I can remember.


And imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled upon the blog Beneath Thy Feet  and discovered that far from being the only ‘Tombstone Tourist’, I counted over 45 fellow GeneaBloggers listed on this wonderful site who all share their wanderings among the dead!

Pausing at the Grave of Lord Byron's Spouse, Anne Isabella, Lady Noel Byron in Kensal Green Cemetery, London...

And when I discovered the Graveyard Vlogs of my friend, author and fellow Byronian Amy McLean.. Well let's just say that my plans for an afternoon of  research mysteriously vanished...

The author Lailah Gifty Akita has written that “The graveyard is an everlasting home of every man” and I couldn’t agree more for within most of our cemeteries, you can discover evidence of spectacular craftsmanship, awe inspiring stonework, history, sublime words of poignancy and the occasional flashes of humour!

And being able to locate the final resting place of the individual associated with my research endeavours has always been important to me and when my search is unsuccessful, I usually feel a sense of disappointment as if the final piece of the jigsaw is missing.

The elusive Clarice Tibbett is a case in point for not only is she the ancestor who having ignited my curiosity years ago leading to an irresistible urge to discover more about her and having been desperately seeking her through the mists of time ever since; I still do not know what has happened to her cremated remains.

The Grounds of Woodlands Crematorium in Scarborough. The Remains of Clarice Tibbett Left Here in June 1962 to Where... Who Knows?

For having discovered the burial entries for her parents earlier this year in the City of Hull, I managed to convince myself that her ashes had been interred with them, but alas, after ploughing through more records in the Hull History Centre, my theory was dashed along with what remained of my clear vision and a sense of hope.

Far From Forgotten! The Edeson Family Grave at York Cemetery...

However, despite this disappointment over the elusive Clarice, I have recently discovered the whereabouts of numerous Edesons who having filled out the branches of my maternal family tree very nicely; are all to be located within the cemeteries of the coastal town of Scarborough and armed with the burial records and grid references, my journeys with the dead will begin another exciting chapter!

Desperately Seeking Clarice!

What is Past is Prologue" so said the Bard William Shakespeare!

As well as a passion for creating 'Small Worlds' in 12th scale and occasionally scribbling about them for publication, I am also a family history sleuth who loves to go in search of elusive ancestors throughout the vale and dale of the county of Yorkshire.

Many years ago as my Grandmother would regale me with the tales of the elegant Dalby family from York and the Tibbett clan living, loving and squabbling within their adoptive land of Scarborough in North Yorkshire; I recall that it was at the first mention of the story about ‘Poor Clarice’ that my interest was really piqued.


For as every family history sleuth knows, there is usually always at least one ancestor that ignites curiosity and which leads to an irresistible urge to discover more about a life that somehow holds a peculiar affinity for you and it was hearing of the story of ‘Poor Clarice’ that 'did it' for me so to speak and I've been desperately seeking her through the mists of time ever since.

I began this journey armed only with lots of enthusiasm, a love of history and a little rudimentary knowledge about genealogy and I admit that the former was to prove the most essential tool as I would ‘dip in and out’ of my search for Clarice over the intervening years and usually after colliding head first into the proverbial ‘brick wall’ familiar to every family history sleuth!


And then I would hear some new nugget of information, stumble across an exciting genealogical discovery or would read an magazine article that would remind me of Clarice and I’d be off on my investigative journey again!

Upon my return to my hometown of York I was reunited with my boxes of research files and in the celebrated words of Shakespeare’s Henry V I have found myself “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”


So who was ‘Poor Clarice’?

I would love to be able to share with you the complete back story of Clarice that I have uncovered over the preceding years, alas, ‘tis not possible as there still remains HUGE tracts of her life unexplained and I believe, undiscovered for it’s all just a question of finding the correct piece of the jigsaw puzzle!


However, what I do know is she was very much a woman of her times for she was born a ‘war baby’ in September 1913, married as a ‘war bride’ in August 1944 and died a ‘1960's pill popper’ in the summer of 1962 by her own hand after several years of a consistent diet of prescribed sleeping tablets along with the controversial ECT treatment for the symptoms of clinical depression.

And that she was very much loved...

Giving the Family Tree ANOTHER Shake!

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” So said William Wilberforce, a Yorkshire lad and THE leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.

If you are like me and love to go in search of elusive ancestors throughout the vale and dale of the County of Yorkshire; my new geneablog could be just what you are looking for as I follow in the footsteps of my North Riding family, and as there are plenty of them, I have many miles to travel!


Although I have been properly researching the history of my family since 2004, my interest in the gnarled twigs and broken branches of my family tree began in the early teenage years and having always been a diligent hoarder of the scraps of family keepsakes that have come my way; the process of moving abode as I did some years ago with a return to my hometown of York was undoubtedly made all the more arduous by those numerous large boxes of papers, books, photographs and other assorted genealogical matter that I had to shift down and up several sets of stairs.

During the course of last year and having discovered the identities of two more ancestors Percy Oswald Wright Edeson and William Lamb who having perished in WW1 never lived to see their 21st birthday; I have also been adding to my research into the life of Tuesday’s Child, the elusive Clarice Tibbett and as my interest has been piqued as of late by the other female ‘greats’ within my clan that I have now discovered, several Yorkshire lasses who have now made a welcome reappearance.

And having decided that I would also go in search of this female line of my family; it would be rather nice to share my musings, mishaps and occasional mastery on this blog under the aptly titled category of The Female of the Species!


NOT that I believe that my female ancestors were actually deadlier than their male counterparts…

Earlier this week I watched Who Do You Think You Are that featured the fabulous actress Amanda Redman who I adored in the BBC drama of New Tricks and I listened with interest as she talked about her need to understand why she had always reacted in a particular way and of the ‘inherited behavioural patterns’ she believes that we all possess to some degree or other.

And yes, this resonated with me for as the eldest child of five siblings; my mother having flouted the National Average UK Birth Rate; I have always pondered the reasons for my love of the sea and feeling ‘at home’ in the coastal town of Scarborough; my pleasure in reading, the urge to create my ‘Small Worlds’, my knack for floral design and a passion for history AND that I am quite unlike anyone else within my family.


For not only do I NOT look like any other family member, my interests remain unique only to myself and I have mischievously wondered if I was possibly switched at birth; although a distant family member did once describe me as a ‘throwback’, albeit in a kindly manner!

I admit that it used to bother me as I was growing up but now I glory in being different from the rest of my clan and if in these times of difficulty I can find solace in the company of my ancestors from generations past; who’s to judge?

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

A Search for the Truth.

During the course of some much needed blog tidying, I came across this post I shared in the Autumn of 2016 and I'm sharing it here because it explains a little about who I am and for anyone who has mourned the loss of a relationship with a difficult parent - you are not alone.

Different light
Things that I once thought were right
Are now reflected in a different light...

Look at the picture below and tell me what you think.

Do you see a fashionable young couple on the brink of an exciting future together and with all the world before them?

Clutching a prayer book in a dainty gloved hand, the bride snuggles up close to her dashing groom and with her arm firmly enclosed within his, she strikes a confident pose as the lens captures her determined smile.


But what of the groom? 

As we catch a glimpse of his wedding band, we also detect a mild look of annoyance and notice that a brisk September wind has played havoc with his carefully styled hair and we wonder if this could explain his self conscious posture.

You may disagree with me entirely on this which is your right but however you look at it; I can only look upon this poignant image knowing only that if it were not for me, this wedding would never have happened.

I was born less than six months later to these teenage parents who were still children themselves and I have been their hostage to fortune ever since.

And if, the story of my life had been like a film in which I could hit the 'pause' or 'fast forward' buttons at will, I would press the 'rewind' button to the morning of this wedding and choose a different ending; one in which he and she were allowed to go their separate ways and I to a family who wanted me.

My sister once described me as the quintessential 'love child' which is truly hilarious when I think about it  for I had a mother who was either frequently angry, indifferent or critical and who took pleasure in telling me that her problem was that she loved me 'too much'

 It has taken me years of soul-searching to figure out just how the hell can a parent love a child 'too much' and I'm still none the wiser.

And from my father, I met only with more anger, more indifference and even more criticism; but at least he never wasted his time or insulted my intelligence with the 'I love you too much' claptrap.

They parted ways with enormous acrimony only a day or so before my 10th birthday and even though both began a new life with someone else soon after and other children appeared; neither would or could 'let go' of the other and I became their weapon of choice in the ensuing fight, the symbol of their toxic union, the catalyst for their disastrous marriage.


As there has been so much angst, I could write my own definitive version of one of the longest novels ever published, the aptly titled War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy but with neither the time nor the patience to wade through it; I will however, share a couple of gems with you from the family treasure chest.

My 16th birthday gift from my father was the court summons he served on my mother as he didn't want to contribute another penny for my upkeep, even though I had yet to leave school and although he was humiliated in court, he remained true to his word and never did give me another penny - ever!

He couldn't even dig into his pocket to buy me a gift on my wedding day.

Even though I hadn't wanted him to share in my special day, I invited him and his wife as to have not done so would have caused my grandparents enormous pain and this was the last thing I ever wanted.

I can remember arriving to see my father standing there with a flower in his lapel but it wasn't the Yorkshire Rose that I had arranged for him to wear but a different one and having asked his wife about it later that day; I was told that he had thrown my rose in the bin. 

Or the time before my seventh birthday when he was driving us home at great speed and as my mother screamed at him to slow down, he took a corner too fast and my head head went crashing into the wall of the van which meant another visit to the hospital and stitches to my head. 

I don't remember very much about my childhood to the age of 9 but the memory of this painful head wound and my embarrassment at being sent home from school as the wound was still bleeding days later remains terribly vivid.

And how can I possibly forget the elaborate party he had wanted to arrange for my 18th birthday but with the caveat that my mother was not on the guest list and as she has never been one to miss any party, invite or not; her response was to tell me that she should never have had me and that I had ruined her life.

All my efforts at mediation failed and my best 'please sort this out for my sake' kind of plea but it fell on deaf ears; my father cancelled the party and told me that I had been nothing but trouble to him throughout my entire life. 

I can remember feeling so heartbroken after this birthday that I couldn't bring myself to cut my 'special' coming-of-age cake until many weeks later.

It's just as well I've never really been a fan of any birthday, particularly my own!

And although the hostilities would continue to wax and wane in the years after and if  I found myself in their cross hairs; I would inevitably be accused of behaving 'just like your mother' or raged at for behaving 'just like your father', which was ridiculous as for most of the time, I didn't even like either of them then why on earth would I want to be like them?


But was I some kind of 'problem child' who hung around a street corner drinking cheap cider when I wasn't tormenting old ladies or putting a brick through a shop window for kicks? 

It may have been easier to understand if I had been but no, I'd either have my head in a book while listening to music or else I'd be drawing flowers in my sketch book, enjoying a stroll through the old streets of York or whiling away the hours gazing at my favourite paintings in the art gallery.

I was also devoted to my grandparents and would enjoy a friendly natter over supper after school every week with his parents and tea, delicious cake and more friendly natter with her parents. They truly were my bulwarks during these difficult years and I adored them.

I once loved my parents very much but as neither took any care with that love, I knew I had no choice other than to move away physically and emotionally from both of them as soon as I could but as there would always be one more 'get-together', I'd find myself returning to the family fold against my instinct for a quiet life only to walk away time and again because of their infuriatingly selfish behaviour.

And with the death of my father in August 2016 at the age of 68; I have found myself raking over the ashes of the difficult relationship I have had with them.

My mother is now infirm through ill health, exacerbated through years of alcohol abuse and as I believe that life really is too short for feelings of resentment and that everyone has the potential for change; our relationship underwent a huge seismic shift many years ago.

My father would never change in his attitude towards me and when in the summer of 2013, I realised that no matter what I achieved; it would never be good enough, I made the decision to finally walk away from this painful relationship but I never gave up hope that one day he would reconcile himself to the daughter I was and still am.


He died suddenly in the early morning of an August day and it was left to my niece to tell me by telephone that he had died and I wasn't invited to the hospital to see him nor later that day at his home as my family gathered together united in their shock and grief.

How many times when someone has died do we rewind to that final conversation we had with them?

For since my father's death, I have thought often about our last conversation on that cloudy summer's day and how when it had ended and as I was walking away, I vowed that I would keep walking from him as far as I could.

And my transgression that day? 

With my mother's rapid spiral down into alcoholism, I had been travelling several days a week from my home over 30 miles away to check up on her, clean the house, make sure that the bills were being paid and stock up the fridge until it was time to call the doctor and request another hospital admission.

And yes, it would have been easier to have walked away as others had done but I simply could not bring myself to do it and as my brother who is a vulnerable adult was still living at home; the emotional 'pull' was that much greater.

I can remember the day so clearly when I had walked in to find that she had taken to her bed with a vodka bottle days before, leaving the house unlocked, the heating cranked on full, the place a total mess, my brother living on cheap sandwiches and my feelings of utter desperation and panic.

Later that morning and with a car full of groceries, I had a chance encounter with my father whose only response was to humiliate me for being such an idiot in helping my mother and I knew then as I walked away from him for the final time that I was indeed 'an idiot' for wasting my precious time on this parent so utterly devoid of compassion and understanding; for not only was I helping my mother, I was also helping my brother AND his son!

He gave my brother an hour of his time every week and yet, was 'the moron' for trying to do all that I could to keep a roof over his son's head!

I had thought of attending his funeral but as I discovered the details of it from the local newspaper, I knew that my presence was not needed and so I stayed away; which was just as well judging by the looks of pity I caught after the funeral on the faces of those who had known us both.

Even in the most primitive semblance; a funeral is the time in which ceremonial practice and belief are woven into a cultural rite to remember the dead in the best way possible but it can also be the day in which old scores are settled, the history of the deceased is 'tweaked' and the narrative of family history changes course - and so it was for me, worthy of only the briefest of mentions, an afterthought, a relic from another era.

I work two evenings a week in a local club which pays for the rent on my studio and keeps me in craft supplies and books and many of the regulars have known my father since childhood and of all  who attended his funeral, only one found the courage to talk to me about it later on and I do not think that I will ever forget his kindness when he took me by the hand and told me that he was pleased for my sake that I had not been there.

I think the thing which has most troubled me about the death of my father, is that I have been left feeling so troubled by it as I had always imagined I would be indifferent to any news of him but how else to explain my sense of rage as if he has slammed the door in my face for the final time or that profound sadness about the beautiful and charming grandson he barely knew.

Or the black void in which all of my questions about my relationship with him have tumbled into and which are now swirling around like confetti, to be forever unanswered and I have to find my way through the 'If only' and What if' on my own.

Different light
Searching for the truth I find
That I am running quite short of time
And I am no longer certain of my destiny

A few days ago I was reunited with some music from an old car and the first one I plucked from the plastic bag was About Time from Steve Winwood and as I played the first song, I was immediately thrown by the poignancy of the lyrics:

Searching for the truth
I found out what I thought would be
Peace of mind
Things that should've stayed the same
Are prone to change
Now I've seen a little light.

Do you know that I can't even recall single compliment ever received from my father and although he and I shared little in this life other than a love of the sea and an appreciation for music, I like to think that he also would have enjoyed listening to a Different Light

And although it may have taken some time but the day before last when my mother finally found the courage to tell me what I had always suspected but had never dared to imagine which was that my father had never wanted me; I thought not of him, but of my dear grandmother who told me many years ago that her one regret had been to consent to the marriage of her daughter and how she had wished that she could have raised me instead.

I had overlooked a part of me
I was escaping my reality
I have questioned my philosophy
So that I could see the truth in me
Different Light

Even though my father had been a dreadful parent to me; I know that he was not a 'bad' person and maybe in another time and place, he and I would have enjoyed a relationship free of resentment and hurt but when I glanced at the tributes posted on-line about the death of this 'lovely man' who was always 'funny, warm and kind', it's as if I were reading about a stranger and I only wish that he could have found it in his heart to have been that 'lovely man' for me.


And as I leave him to his rest, the poignant words of the poet William Wordsworth return to mind in which he writes: 'We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.' and what remains is me - living a life in the best way I can, remaining true to who I have always been and knowing that while his blood runs through my veins and that of my children; will always be my father's daughter and I must find a way of living with this.

Sources Used:
Steve Windwood - Different Light from the album About Time (Wincraft Music/SCI Fidelity Records June 2013)

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Ghost of Brentwood...


Is Nicole's House a 'Real' Model?
Yes, it is a 'real' model! And created in 12th scale.

Can I Visit Nicole's House?
As Nicole's House has been on private and public display in the past; there are occasions when it can 'seen' in person and a subscription to the Brentwood Ghost Newsletter will keep you informed about our studio open-days and forthcoming exhibitions.

What is the Story Behind the Creation and Design of Nicole's House?
Nicole's House began life in kit form purchased from an independent dolls' house supplier with the original design having been 'tweaked'.

However the house has been created primarily with the use of MDF, plaster, strip wood, paints, mountboard, papier-mâché, air-drying clay, natural foliage and of course with plenty of glue and lots of imagination!

The model remains the exclusive work of Tee Bylo.

Can I Follow the Stories from Nicole's House?
As well as sharing the stories on the website, you can also follow the news from Nicole's House on InstagramFlickrTwitterPinterestFacebookTumblr and Google+

And you can now join Tee as she continues the story from Nicole's House on her blog At Home With Nicole...



Why the Creation of Nicole's House?
Beginning with the news of the murders in June 1994 and from the first book she bought in the Autumn of 1994 to the sensational murder trial with the lurid tabloid tales and the campaign to raise much needed awareness against domestic abuse as well as being the subject of a controversial thesis; Tee's interest in the life of Nicole Brown Simpson has been an enduring constant.

Tee's contention is that for all of the many thousands of words written about Nicole with the tales of glamour, celebrity, wealth and beauty have only served to make Nicole a remote and insignificant figure - a wrong Tee is determined to remedy.

"The woman loved life. She loved to entertain, and she went all out when you visited, whether it was for coffee, lunch, to play tennis, to have drinks to eat dinner. You always felt special walking into her world..."
Tanya Brown
'Finding Peace Amid the Chaos' (US: LangMarc Publishing 2013)


And even though Tee has been making 'Small Worlds' for many years now and the passion for design remains just as intoxicating; the creation and story of Nicole's House celebrates the life of a talented and much-loved young woman who relished nothing more than being with her family in the home that she had made for them.​

How Can I Learn More About the Work of Tee Bylo?
You can discover more about the artist's work with a visit to her official website Creating Life in 12th Scale... or by signing up to follow this blog and you can also support Tee's work on the membership site Patreon and enjoy exclusive access to the creation of Nicole's House.

Tee can also be found on the usual social media platforms including FacebookInstagramFlickr and Twitter.

And Your Plans for Nicole's House?
With 'pumpkin carving' planned for Halloween, a turkey to 'roast' for Thanksgiving and gingerbread cookies to decorate for Christmas; there is plenty to keep the artist busy in the kitchen of Nicole's House for some time to come!


However, beginning late in 2017 and with completion scheduled for Christmas 2018, Tee is now busy with the ambitious design of another and much larger Nicole's House and plans to recreate Nicole's last home at 875 South Bundy Drive as faithfully as possible; the story of which will be published on the blog At Home With Nicole... with further exclusive updates available on Tee's Patreon Page.

There will also be an opportunity to buy Tee's tribute to Nicole Brown Simpson as a gift for yourself or a loved one with the release of a beautiful coffee table book which tells the story of Nicole's House and is due for publication in June 2019.

Can I Share the Information and the Images from Nicole's House on My Website or Blog?
Of course! However, all we ask is that you will remember to fully and accurately credit the artist and her work. Thank you!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Tales from Lord Byron's Abode...

Tee Bylo loves Regency history as well as creating life in 12th scale and has combined the two with her creation of the 'Ghost of Piccadilly' inspired by Lord Byron's address at 13 Piccadilly Terrace in London in the year 1815 and where the Poet lived with his wife the former Annabella Milbanke who he had married only two months previously on a bitterly cold January day and on an equally cold day in December, their only daughter Augusta Ada Lovelace was born.

The house is complete with a basement kitchen and attic rooms reflecting the architecture, interior design, furniture and the lifestyle of Byron and that of his circle and comments made in letters to and from the Poet have given Tee a fabulous understanding into his life at Piccadilly Terrace; an atmosphere she has now sought to recreate in miniature.

As an enthusiastic blogger, Tee has shared her progress of life inside No 13 allowing her passion for Lord Byron to reach other fans of the Poet as well as those who enjoy the miniature art form and here are just some of the many questions that Tee has been asked!


What's the Story Behind the Creation of 13 Piccadilly Terrace?
The idea for the creation of 13 Piccadilly Terrace began in the summer of 2009 after watching and more than once, the BBC adaptation of Byron featuring the delightful Jonny Lee Miller as His Lordship and the idea for the Ghost of Piccadilly was inspired by Byron's life at this London address during that eventful year of 1815.

Is 13 Piccadilly Terrace a 'Real' Model?
Yes, it is a 'real' model' which has been created in 12th scale primarily with the use of MDF, plaster, strip wood, paints, mountboard and of course with plenty of glue and lots of imagination!

Although No 13 began life as a Sid Cooke kit comprising of simple pieces of MDF and Plywood, the original design has been 'tweaked' with false walls and side windows - the creation of which has been entirely my work.

And How Large is 13 Piccadilly Terrace?
The house measures 70cm in width and 132m in height with a depth of 64cm and has 13 rooms - which is rather appropriate for this particular model!

Was the Design Process of 13 Piccadilly Terrace a Dream to Create or a Nightmare?
The journey from bare wood to the creation of an atmospheric grand house was a challenge!

As was choosing the interior design with the appropriate colour scheme, the elaborate woodwork and the plastered ceiling decoration for the dining room, ALL of which resulted in more than a few headaches AND sleepless nights!


However, the basement kitchen WAS a dream to create!

With inspiration drawn from the Georgian kitchen at Fairfax House in York, the effect was realised with the use of a piece of foam board, a pot of plaster filler, a cheap vinyl floor tile and some bought pieces for the fireplace from an independent dolls' house supplier.

​​And Your Plans for 13 Piccadilly Terrace?
As No 13 remains a work in progress, there's plenty to keep me occupied as there are still beds to be made, the family portraits to hang, a wedding to arrange AND an elaborate supper for the Twelfth Night to serve up.

I am also hopeful that an exquisite gilt chair in the style of Louis XV and upholstered in the most delightful fabric may FINALLY find its way to the drawing room!

How Can I Follow the Stories About Lord Byron's House?
As well as sharing the stories from Piccadilly Terrace on the website, you can also follow the news from Number 13 on InstagramFlickrTwitterFacebook and Google+

And you can now join me as I party like it's 1815 from Lord B's Abode on the blog The Ghost of Piccadilly...


Tell Me the Attraction of Lord Byron?
It was Byron himself who once described himself as 'Being the fashion; it's absurd but I can't help it' and the attraction of this handsome, unconventional poet who was also a talented and very witty man of letters is just one explanation of his timeless appeal.

He was arguably the first celebrity of our age with a fascinating personality of irreverence, humour, controversy and political idealism and as such he remains just a potent today as he did over 200 years ago as he cut a swathe through London society.


How Can I Learn More About Your Work?
You can discover more about my work on the official website Creating Life in 12th Scale... or on this blog and you can also support me and my work on the membership site Patreon.

I can also be found on the usual social media platforms including FacebookInstagramFlickr and Twitter.

Can I Share the Information and the Images from the Ghost of Piccadilly on My Website or Blog?
Of course! However, all I ask is that you will remember to fully and accurately credit me and my work. Thank you!