Royal National Lifeboat Institution: 2021

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If you want to buy a tea towel, good quality but not expensive in price, try the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). All Lifeboat Stations, where there is a shop, have an amazing, and ever changing, selection of tea towels. But if you don’t like being out and about in the times of the Pandemic, then they have a stunning online shop. I know all about the online shop because Liz told me (after my birthday). She had been using it as part of her commitment to the Birthday Tea Towel Challenge. After all, it was her idea so she needed to think of some unusual tea towels, that she hoped I hadn’t already got.

Liz had realised that when she had decided to buy me some tea towels, she was not going to be able to do this in a ‘real’ shop (a) because there are few tea towel type shops near us and (b) if she was going further afield, I’d need to be pushing her wheelchair. Life’s complicated.

It all started with Nigel Farage, how embarrassing is that? It makes me cringe but, in fact, I’m really proud of what Liz did. Her note, with the first two tea towels, said “These, and the other RNLI tea towels, were inspired by Nigel Farage; and how he would hate that. On 28 July 2021, when he criticised RNLI for assisting people trying to reach the UK by boat and getting into trouble in the seas, saying that the RNLI was a ‘taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs’, the RNLI stood firmly by their values, stating they rescued people in trouble at sea and did not, and would not, make decisions about who was ‘worthy’ or not”.

The RNLI has always been clear that it has a duty, under International Maritime Law, to continue to respond to Coastguard Callouts, regardless of people’s reasons for being in the water. Liz continued “This was followed by a Twitter Storm of the best kind, resulting in RNLI raising a large amount of funds (The day after Nigel Farage’s appalling words, donations increased by 2000% over the day before he spoke). As well as donating, I got drawn to the website shop, just to check if they had any tea towels I thought you didn’t have already. Not only did I find a number in this category but they were a great price. I like the idea of the Nautical Statistics set and hope you love using them”

I do have a lot of RNLI tea towels but certainly not these two, although I do admit to ‘Tea Towel Envy’ when I saw someone submit ‘International Code’ as part of #thejoyofteatowelsharing. I thought it was unlikely that I was going to get one of those, any time soon. How wrong can you be?

However, I am including one more tea towel in this Blog: “These are not a set or a pair but two identical tea towels. (Only one displayed). Unfortunately, you only have yourself to blame. There I was trying to quickly order some tea towels while you were out of the room, for what I thought would be long nough. Then you appeared. ‘What are you doing?’ you asked. (In fact, as I write this note, you asked me who I was texting). I guess you’re thinking I’m writing a very long text. ‘Nothing/no one’ were my less than perfect answers. They seemed to satisfy you, strangely. Going back to my purchases, I didn’t realise that I’d bought two identical tea towels. Oooops. They are lovely though and you can decide who you might bestow the spare one upon, as you laugh at what happens when you’re nosy”. While I do find it amusing that Liz, Queen of the Computer, can make such a basic error. What is more disturbing is that I sound like some kind of stalker, or evil creature who needs to know everything that is happening. I’m not, really.

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For me, the RNLI is very special; special because I was rescued by the Mallaig Lifeboat in 2007. A small boat I was on, touring the Scottish Isles, got into trouble on some covered rocks and had to be towed back to Mallaig. And was I pleased to see them! I remember watching the horizon for the lifeboat to come, and then seeing it riding the waves, bright orange, and miraculous. We made the papers but I’m not sure I would ever want to make the papers for a reason like that again. Fortunately, this was not anything to do with me, I was merely a passenger. It was a calmish, maybe slightly choppy, sea. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the boats that Nigel Farage was decrying. It must have been terrible. The English Channel, an international shipping lane, rough water, not particulay sea-worthy boats, and desperation. Because people do not make such journeys if they are not desperate. Those comments of Nigel Farage were despicable.

My Birthday Tea Towel Challenge turned into a good fundraising effort by Liz. I think there were seven tea towels in total, two Face Coverings which are rather stylish and a book.

So watch out Readers, someone is going to get a RNLI tea towel for Christmas!!! A birthday that keeps on giving.

Thank You to Craig and Jane: 2021

Today’s tea towels, from the Birthday Tea Towel Challenge, are from Craig and Jane. I’ve never met them, they don’t live near me but they are Pilates fans, known to my cousin Amanda. It is incredibly generous for two strangers to ‘donate’ three tea towels to me. Three tea towels that I do not already have, not duplicates, and from two places that I have never been: Flamborough and Mablethorpe.

I’m a big fan of Northumberland and have been there on a number of occasions. I have also inherited a number of Northumberland tea towels yet I have nothing like this one. Tea towels must be a big tourist attraction up in Northumberland. ‘The Beauty of Northumbria’ is full of detailed images of around the county, everything from seals and puffins to the imposing Bamburgh Castle (I have a tea towel of that), from Durham Cathedral (I have a tea towel of that) to Lindisfarne Castle (I have a tea towel of that). I love the idea that Tyne Bridge is part of this tea towel (of which I do not have a tea towel). What none of my other Northumbria tea towels have is this spring-like feel, and light greenery. It is a traditional style tea towel and I love it.

Now ‘Flamborough’ is a different matter. I have always wanted to go Flamborough Head but have never had the time, its always a bit too far from where I’m going. I want to see the gannets. This tea towel has taken me down yet another ‘Rabbit Warren’ learning about the Battle of Flamborough Head in 1770s! What a cute tea towel.

And finally ‘Mablethorpe’ with its strap-line ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’. Its almost like a ‘saucy’ postcard, without the sauciness. I really love it.

So thank you Craig and Jane for three great tea towels which are happily joining my Collection.

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The Isles of Colonsay and Oransay: 2021

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I started this Tea Towel Blog in April 2015, in preparation for my retirement. I needed a ‘bit of a project’, loved history, geography and tea towels. Although almost totally computer illiterate, I thought a Tea Towel Blog would ‘fit the bill’, combining my three interests and giving me the chance to develop some rudimentary IT skills. At that time, I knew nothing about Twitter, and had never heard of Instagram. How things have changed!

It took a while to understand that if you wrote a Blog, you needed a medium to get it out there, and, for me, Twitter was that medium. My relationship with Twitter, and now Instagram, has developed over time. It never has bothered me how many ‘Followers’ I have, and I accept that there won’t be huge numbers, since I only use Twitter and Instagram for ‘tea towels’, occasionally a ‘Cat and Tea Towels’. No everyone likes tea towels. What I do know is that many Readers come from all over the world: China, Australia, America, Canada, Singapore, Thailand……and so many other places.

Several of my family and friends read it. Someone once said they knew more about me through the Blog than they ever have done through meeting up. My Uncle had signed up for email notification when a new Blog was posted, and after about six months wrote to say he had cancelled the notification process because I was writing too many!! Lets face it, back in April 2015, I had about 350 tea towels and that seemed like an awful lot of Blogs; if I hadn’t posted a Blog frequently then today’s 1400+ tea towels would have been overwhelming.

One of the ways that I know if someone has read a Blog, as opposed to just admiring a tea towel, is when they send a comment. Although I knew my cousin Andrew, who lives in Italy, often reads the Blogs, yesterday I had an amazing confirmation, not from a comment, but from two tea towels!

On 8 October 2021, I wrote a Blog about the ‘Tartan Tea Towel’ in which I reflected on my love of Scotland. I listed all the Hebridean Islands that I had visited, as well as Orkney and Shetland, and the fact that I had had tea towels from those places. I then said “I’ve always wanted to go to Colonsay”. One small line, amidst a sea of rambling. Five days later, I heard the postman struggling with an envelope through the letterbox, then that thud, of a small package on the lobby floor. I knew it was a tea towel but I wasn’t expecting one. Let’s face it, I have had my fair share of them over the last six weeks (although you can never have too many). I rushed to the door, an envelope with hand writing I did not recognise. I hadn’t opened the envelope but I was so certain it was a tea towel, I shouted out “You haven’t ordered a tea towel, have you?” I was fairly certain that Liz will not have done so because she was still recovering from exhaustion as a result of the Birthday Tea Towel Challenge. “No” shouted Liz. I was right about that.

I had still not opened the envelope. It could be my cousin Amanda in Harlow. Our main form of communication is on WhatsApp, and its never lengthy.

“Have you been buying tea towels?” I asked.

“Nope”

At this stage, I thought that perhaps I should open the envelope. I was right about the tea towel, but two not one, from Colonsay. I had to think about this. It was someone who knew my address, someone who read the ‘Tartan Tea Towel’ Blog. It has to be Amanda?

“Two have arrived through the post with no note”

“Oh, what a surprise” she said

“Are you taking the p—?” I asked

“No”

“OMG, where have they come from?” I rambled to myself. I had no idea.

Nor does Amanda “No idea. What tea towels are they?” Amanda added

“Colonsay”

Amanda is always sensible and asked “Do you have friends in Scotland?”

I can’t just get two tea towels and not know who they are from. Who else could it be? WhatsApp again:

“Random question: have you bought me two tea towels online?”. This time I asked Andrew, in Italy.

‘Yep. You wrote you missed a Colonsay tea towel….Now your collection is completed”

Now I had to tell Amanda that I have solved the mystery of the Colonsay Tea Towels; she was pleased. I told Andrew “I’m considering these as part of the Birthday Tea Towel Challenge”, which has now totalled 173.

These are two stunning tea towels, the sort that make you want to visit a place. The map is crying out, saying ‘Come to see me’. There’s the Calmac Ferry, waiting for me at the pier, the otters, the seal, the sheep. An island with few roads, that’s where I want to be. I’d forgotten that Oransay is attached to Colonsay and what a cute tea towel the bottom one is. I can’t work out if there is a correct way to hang this one; should it be portrait or landscape?

All I can say is that these are two wonderful tea towels from the Colonsay Pantry, and one day I will be there! Thank you so much, Andrew.

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Thank You Lynne: 2021

I have friends who keep their lives very compartmentalised. Friends from their work life never know about friends from the Folk Club, and so forth. It can sometimes feel as though they are ashamed of their friends. Gwyneth has never been like that. Gwyneth is one of my oldest (not in years) friends who I met in Stockport College of Technology in 1976. She is able to act as a conduit through various strands of her life, able to thread people through her own story, making them come alive. Gwyneth doesn’t, and never has, gossiped; she is able to make characters come to life, like a good piece of creative writing. That way, it helps to understand the whole of Gwyneth’s life, there aren’t secret bits that you never know about.

Gwyneth, I understand, was an enthusiastic part of the ‘Team’ that assembled my 171 Birthday Tea Towels, recruiting her friends to take part. These two tea towels are from Lynne, a close friend of Gwyneth. I have probably met Lynne once, on Gwyneth’s 60th birthday, maybe twice. But I feel as though I am close, and know her well. The one at the top is a School Tea Towel, and how I love a School Tea Towel. This one is quite special because it is the millennium one from Lady Lane Park School; the border incorporating signs of the 21st Century is clever. The attached card says “From Lynne. Her nephew Oliver’s School Tea Towel. Oliver is 2nd Row, 1st Left”. Well, Oliver, you are now in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. You must be in your mid-twenties now, so good to be on Social Media, all around the world. They’ll be looking at you in China, Australia and America………..I enjoy looking at all the images, imagining the children and what their lives might be like today.

George (2nd Row from the bottom, 6th from the Left) is a stunner. Do you think he’s in the army now? Mrs Whitely (next to Oliver) looks as though she’s doing ‘Keep Fit’. Sophie (Top Row, 8th from the Left) has a great hair style.

Clearly, Laura likes football, Mrs Algal is sponsoring Nike, Gordon likes tennis and I do love Rebecca’s dress, want one myself. A fabulous tea towel, thank you Lynne.

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Don’t you just love them?: Acquired 2021

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I am so lucky. If you are a Tea Towel Obsessive, like I am, then to find that you’ve been given 171 tea towels for your birthday, it is a joyous occasion. If you already own more than 1350 tea towels, like I do, it may seem a bit excessive to have any more. But it isn’t. Looking through my ‘Museum’, flicking from hangar to hangar, touching all those tea towels, peeking at ones I haven’t seen for a while, feels so good. Although I use each and every one, it takes a while to work my way through them all. So I like to ‘wander’ through them regularly.

As I look at them, I see so many different designs, by different artists, some traditional ones depicting small villages in England, some huge Italian touristy ones of big Italian cities, some with words and poetry, some replicating famous paintings, some using digital photography. Such delight.

So now, I have chosen two very cheerful tea towels, with delightful spots, for today’s offering. Nothing like a spot to brighten up the kitchen. The picture below shows them delightfully displayed in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag. Don’t let anyone say that their tea towels are boring!

Thank you Amanda for such a selection of tea towels.

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Roma: Acquired 2021

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I’m still Blogging about the tea towels, all 171 of them, that I received for my birthday. I’m keeping a tally of how many I’ve done so far. Yesterday, I’d covered 70. This one came via my cousin Amanda, from someone who attends one of her classes (all to do with health and fitness, not something I can associate with). ‘Roma’ is very special; it brings back many memories.

But, first, I will always remember that Liz’s idea of trying to achieve 70 tea towels for my 70th birthday required a lot of secrecy. She had initially contacted Amanda, and her mother, my Aunt Catherine, by WhatsApp back in May time. From then on there were almost daily messages. Liz usually has a ‘ping’ sound warning of messages coming in. It was noisy, and I like to be nosey “Who’s that?” I would ask or “You’re getting a lot of messages today”. You couldn’t watch a TV programme in peace without numerous ‘pings’. Liz solved this by switching off the ‘pings’. Amanda, unbeknown to me, set up a WhatsApp Group called 70th Birthday in to which she signed up herself, her mother, Liz and my cousin Andrew in Italy. Once all the tea towels were delivered to me, someone (and no one can remember who) suggested that I could join; at this time I still had no idea about this group. Suggestions were asked for a title for the new group. Someone (and no on can remember who) suggested ‘We Are Family’; decided. Now I do remember this: it was my idea that Christopher and Pam (my Uncle and Aunt) were invited to join, they too had contributed tea towels.

So, what has the ‘Roma’ tea towel got to do with all this? Andrew and his family live in Italy, always have. He has visited the UK on many occasions, but COVID and Brexit have probably interfered with any future plans, for a long while. A WhatsApp Group emerging from the Birthday Tea Towel Challenge which includes the key members of my mother’s family seems like a wonderful outcome. It is actually really nice to pass on news, or gossip, without having to repeat yourself. Since the ‘Italian Contingent’ are part I am more up to date on things happening in my family.

Rome is somewhere I have been many times. From about the age of 7 to 15, I spent every summer and most Easters in Rome with my Aunty Eileen, Uncle Ferruccio and three cousins. Quite often, but not always, Christopher and Catherine came too, perhaps there weren’t enough beds for three visitors. I can’t remember those details, I’m sure ‘We Are Family’ will tell me. I loved going to Italy. I loved being a tourist, seeing the Spanish Steps, Fountain of Trevi, the Forum, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s. I fell in love with the works of Michelangelo, visiting the churches and Museums where his work was held. I can remember the warm days where ne’er a breath of wind blew, I remember the extremely annoying mosquitos and being eaten alive by them, I remember being ‘sou chef’ to my aunt who made the most amazing minestrone soup. I remember my aunt teaching me some Italian, and many many years ago I got O/Level Italian; went well with O/Level Latin! What glorious memories!

And that is exactly what tea towels do for me: bring back memories and make wiping up so much more enjoyable. Thank you for the beautiful tea towel.

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Tartan Tea Towel: Acquired 2021

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This looks akin to a Royal Stewart Tartan Tea Towel, sold by Ettrick Valley, but it isn’t. I know it isn’t because there is no red border, and it comes from ASDA (George range). Big mistake! I looked at the online ASDA shop, found a huge range of tea towels but when I specifically ‘searched’ for tartan tea towels it came up with ‘brushed cotton tartan duvet sets’. I saw one that was so much nicer than the one I’ve already got, and I was thinking about buying a second set, anyway, as the weather grows colder and the gas prices go up……….

I do love tartan. A tartan tea towel is ideal. In my mind, it takes me back to Scotland, to all the times I’ve been there. More recently to Aberdeen, to help clear Jean’s flat, before she moved into a residential home, to visit Jean regularly, to do her Christmas shopping. But before that to see Elizabeth, my Great Uncle Tom, Anna and the rest of the family. I remember all the times I’ve been to Scotland to visit the Western Isles, Inner and Outer Hebrides: Islay, Jura, Coll, Tiree, Arran, Lewis and Harris, Skye, Mull and Iona, the Uists, Benbecula and Barra, Canna and Lunga, and my dream, St Kilda. Not forgetting Orkney and Shetland.

I’ve always wanted to go to Colonsay, but you need the time to get there, maybe next year. I’m not sure why I have such a ‘call’ to visit Scotland. It started when I was 17, just passed my driving test and went camping with two friends to Skye, Lewis and Harris. It was the remoteness, the winds and gales, the ruins, the bird life. Skye was the place that I rang my parents to find out my A/Level results and my mother had already booked my place at Swansea University (without consultation with me when I had offers of places at four universities). She always knew best, or at least thought she did.

In 1973, I went to Shetland and stayed a month under canvas. Rory and I visited Farmers Shows, all the Brochs that were possible, as many of the smaller islands as possible and so many beaches. I’ve never been back but always wanted to. For the height of summer, we wore many a thick jumper but it never seemed to be raining.

I remember reading some books about the evacuation of St Kilda, the farthest island community off the west coast of Great Britain, when it no longer was a viable community; this was back in 1930. St Kilda is not a single island but an archipelago, 40 miles north-west of North Uist. The main island is Hirta whose sea cliffs are the highest in UK. The community had survived on eating seabirds and their eggs, while waiting for the next supply ship. The community built ‘cleits’ for storage, many of which still remain, although gradually falling into disrepair. In 1986, St Kilda became a World Heritage Site. From that point I’d always wanted to visit there. There were day trips but more often than not were cancelled because of the weather. I was on a boat sailing through the Western Isles that was going to try and visit St Kilda. The weather was perfect, blue skies, no wind. We had to leave the boat and take the dinghy for the last few yards. Boy, was that bouncy? and the walk up the steep concrete ramp was killing. Once on land it was so beautiful, enchanting. The houses were rundown, one street, the Soay sheep still roamed and at the top of the hill was a small military base. It was everything I had dreamed of. It was possible to imagine what life must have been like. The National Trust for Scotland had converted one of the houses into a Museum to tell the story of St Kilda.

This is yet another humble tea towel with a tale to tell. And I love it. It was part of my Birthday Tea Towel Challenge, from a man who attended one of Amanda’s classes at the gym. Thank you for such a great gift.

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60 Years a Queen: Acquired 2021

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Jai was the person who suggested to Liz, her mother, that if people could write notes about what they knew about the tea towels that I was being given for my birthday, that would be good fun. Jai was true to her word and told some good stories. Today’s was “We do love a good Charity Shop. And where better for a bit of wholesome bargain hunting than Nottingham’s own bustling university town, Beeston? I’ve become a regular visitor to Beeston, since (within the space of a few years) I took up a job at the University of Nottingham and both my parents, independently, moved to the area.

Last time we visited Beeston, we were dropping the kids at my Dad’s house for an over-night stay. With the Pandemic stopping play for so long, this would be our first night away from them in over a year. We were pretty excited! Before we hopped back to Birmingham we decided to spend a rare, and leisurely, afternoon, lunching and shopping in Beeston.

It’s not the classic place to buy a tea towel, but we couldn’t resist when we found a quaint little Charity Shop that seemed to specialise in perfectly pressed fabrics and towels. They had quite a tea towel collection, but knowing Barbara’s love of of all things Royal and Kitsch, and, of course, her standing as a bit of an Emma Bridgewater connoisseur, this tea towel seemed a perfect match. We bought a duvet set at the same time and returned home a happy pair of shoppers”

I have a few Diamond Jubilee tea towels, but not this one. What I was impressed by was the fact that Jai managed to buy a pre-loved tea towel, in a Charity Shop. This is definitely a skill. I have tried for many years and rarely have come up trumps. There was the Ted Smith trio of tea towels designed especially for Cancer Research; they were lovely but they were brand new. Occasionally, I found a few in a Sue Ryder Vintage Charity Shop in Leicester. Jai, and my aunt Catherine, seem to be much more successful at Charity Shop Tea Towels than I ever have been.

Having seen their successes amongst my Birthday Tea Towel Challenge gifts, I decided to go to Beeston, the day after my birthday, determined to find one, and I did. Nothing as good as this one, and I’d had to try five Charity Shops before I had any success. I texted Jai, triumphantly.

“I’ve found a tea towel in a Charity Shop in Beeston. I wasn’t going to be outdone by you” I bragged.

“Did you get it from the one with all the fabrics?” She asked.

“Which one’s that?” I was interested, because the one I went to did not have a whole load of fabrics, and it would be useful to know for the future.

“I don’t know”. Thank you Jai for that helpful advice!

As I started to write this Blog, I noticed that the tea towel had a label on it, a price tag. There is one thing that is common amongst Tea Towel Gift-Givers, and that is they never take a price tag off, no matter the price. And on this price tag was (a) the name of the shop and (b) the price. I have no idea where Oxfam Charity Shop is, and it will certainly be worth a trip back to look for it. I’ve also not seen a Charity Shop tea towel for £5.99, mine cost £1.00 but then mine was nowhere near the quality of Emma Bridgewater, she always attracts a high price.

Thank you to Jai and Roger for spending your time in the Beeston Charity Shops, and for letting me have this one.

Love Hearts: 2021

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These are two crazy tea towels! Back in December 2020, when we were virtually in Lockdown, a friend of mine sent me a really whacky tea towel called ‘Mr Gee’s Family’, a bunch of giraffes in the same style as these two. The colours are so vibrant, the material is lovely and soft, the sort of cloth you want to caress. Although the label says ‘100% cotton’, the texture of the material makes you initially think that it will lack absorbency, that water will just bounce off it or soak straight through. How wrong can you be? The Blog for ‘Mr Gee’s Family’ was on 20 December 2020, celebrating the joyousness of it and it’s absorbability.

I was so excited to find that I was given two more of these tea towels for my Birthday Tea Towel Challenge. Because they come with a cardboard wrapper, it was difficult to see exactly what the design was. Surely these couldn’t be ‘duplicates’?. And, no, these aren’t duplicates. Today, I offer ‘Happy Moo Day’ and ‘Cup Cakes’. These, and several others, are designed by Donna Sharam, an Australian based artist and designer. “Donna Sharam’s art and lifestyle products explode with colour and joyful images, combining a vivd imagination and love of colour. They just make you happy”. On the tea towel wrappers she says “Painting is my passion. Colour is my vision. My work is full of optimism and positive energy and my hope is that my work and energy is transferred to your life and environment”. Sounds like an affirmation, and you can see why.

But imagine ‘doing up’ your kitchen and wanting to add a touch of colour. These would be ideal, along with many others of her designs. Wiping up would take on a whole new meaning, make you want to dance or jig around, lift your spirits, banish any low feelings. These tea towels could change your life and, let’s face it, with Christmas approaching, what a joyful present they would be.

Many thanks to Amanda

PS: Donna’s ‘birds’ are pretty splendid too.

World Animal Day: 2021

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I have a confession to make. I forgot World Animal Day, yesterday. Going back to my birthday, at the end of August, when the results of the Birthday Tea Towel Challenge arrived, in a number of boxes, I scrambled through the first 141 tea towels, flinging them around. There would be no point in going through them all in detail because I wouldn’t have got out on my Birthday Walk. I had plenty of time to look through them in more detail, later. Several, immediately caught my eye, mainly because of the striking colour or image. One of those was the emerald green one, with the Leopard print. There was no other with a vibrant colour like the green. I thought about this and felt it would be good for a Blog on World Animal Day; I knew when it was – 4 October. This morning I realised I forgot the date and missed the celebration. So I changed my mind.

Today, I looked through all the remaining tea towels to see if there were any other Animal Prints. Altogether, not including birds because I have a lot of birds and there is a National Bird Day, I found four tea towels devoted to animals (and excepting those I have already Blogged about). As an apology for forgetting World Animal Day, today is devoted to the four very different animal prints.

The first two are: Leopard Print and Playful Kittens. I’m missing out on getting interesting tea towels from unlikely places. The Leopard Print is from Matalan; now there’s somewhere I would not have expected to find a tea towel. I need to be looking more carefully for tea towels. Back in 1990, I went on safari to Kenya. Two weeks of covering three large safari parks, in a Land Rover, seeing the most amazing animals: elephants wandering by the water holes at sunset, leopards lying on the branches of trees, somehow camouflaged, water buffalo in the mud, flamingos, thousands of them on Lake Nakuru, hippos and so much more. Kenya always been a place I would like to return to, but Liz has never been keen. Kenya was the place to buy souvenirs, and the place you’d want to buy souvenirs from. I still have the salad servers, wooden bowls of all sizes, wooden book ends but no tea towel. I never saw one tea towel, not even a cheap touristy one. Thirty years later, a Matalan tea towel brings back all the memories.

World Animal Day is an international day of action for animal rights and welfare. The Big Five African animals can be celebrated but so can household animals like cats. Back in 2012, I became a cat fosterer. It was mainly female cats, almost always pregnant, that had been abandoned. We nursed so many kittens, nearly 80 in total. Watching the mothers feed and care for their kittens was fabulous, kittens that might have been drowned if the mothers had not been rescued. We continued to foster, even after we had adopted two: Benjamin and Isabella who had been rescued from a shed where 87 had been housed. They were both ‘curtain climbers’ as youngsters. Having been suckled, the kittens certainly became ‘playful’, or completely out of hand. Stopping them making ‘a run for it’, as the door to their room was opened, was a nightmare. And, boy, did they eat! It was at this time we became Ocado shoppers, so that the cat food could be delivered, rather than having to carry it from the supermarket. Being a Cat Fosterer was a joyous time.

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The next two celebrating World Animal Day are Sheep and Christmas Penguins. World Animal Day began back in 1925 and is held on 4 October, the feast of Francis of Assisi who was the Patron Saint of animals. The Sheep are so cute, reminding me of Shaun the Sheep, and there is a film that I really love. The colours are really good, the use of yellow is so effective. The Christmas Penguins is not quite in keeping with today’s theme but there is a reason that it appears. In the organisation of my tea towels, Christmas ones are hung separately. I start using Christmas ones from mid-November to 6 January. I was becoming afraid that the Christmas Penguins might not have gotten hung in time. But Penguins are, after all, an endangered species, so of course its ok to make an appearance today.

I believe, but am not quite sure, that all these tea towels came from my Aunt Catherine and her daughter Amanda’s box. If that is not exactly true, I do apologise. Playful Kittens certainly comes from Catherine’s friend Sue. The Sheep and Leopard Print are from Amanda’s class attendees; its the Christmas Penguins I’m not sure about. But many thanks for all these joyous contributions.