Sunday, 20 July 2014

Champagne and Real Ale

Jim, me, Chris, Mike

The cryptic title of this post refers to the very different refreshments available at the two very different events I attended since my last post (Whenever that was!!) First was a brilliant afternoon/evening at Fransham Forge, the annual Folk at the Forge, hosted by the estimable Master Blacksmith Nigel . This year the weather was a great improvement on last lear,and we didn't need the roaring brazier to keep us warm! Much Real Ale was consumed - not by me, I hasten to add - and much music was played and enjoyed. The event coincided with a weekend course Nigel was running for blacksmiths, so there were lots of people around, as they bring their families and make a holiday of it.

A great BBQ was provided, cooked on the BBQ Nigel had forged that very morning! We took food for the communal table and there was more than enough for all.

This year we had trestle tables and benches, which was an improvement in one way on last year, but a little awkward for us box players, you had to sit a bit awry to play!

No photos of me this year but I was there, I promise! I love events like this, just chillin' and playin', great fun and totally relaxed.

Roger the Pipes

Mr Rob King 'gotchering' me as I 'gotchered' him!

The second, and more important event, was our grandson Chris's Graduation Day on Friday just gone. He is at Staffordshire University, and the awards ceremony was held at the very lovely Trentham Gardens, a beautiful setting and the weather was terrific - about 31 degrees we reckoned!

The ceremony was everything you'd expect , well run, entertaining, and emotional. The speeches were short and to the point, and the young people thoroughly immersed in the event. I hope all of them have happy and successful futures. The pride of the parents, friends and relatives was palpable, not least our own. What a wonderful way to celebrate all the hard work and achievement of our young people. We are so proud of Chris.

My Boys, Chris and his dad Mike

Look what I spotted hanging around the grounds ...

Brilliant, eh?

So despite the heat and the long drive there and back it was a day I wouldn't have missed for the world, and I'm sure those of you who have done similar will agree. So no textiles this week - and my A Year in Books has dropped off the scene I'm afraid; I HAVE read lots of books but have't got round to taking photos and making notes. I may pick it up later but I suspect there isn't much point any more!

Hope you are all enjoying the sunshine, and girding up your loins for the holidays!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Stitching in Sunshine

Good morning folks - hope the sun is shining where you are. We've had some torrential rain over the last couple of days but the sky is blue - mostly! and the sun is shining this morning. Weirdly this has not helped my indoor photography so apologies for that.

We've had a pretty quiet weekend, and today appears to be just strolling along gently. I am going for a walk and popping in to visit mum on the way back. She was quite up-beat when I last saw her, looking more herself, less the bewildered and wizened old lady. I have a couple of textile commissions to finish so will be working on them today, and this evening it will be a spot of music and gossip over at Rob and Marj's. They have just returned home after a wonderful week on a narrow-boat on the Welsh canals.

 Following on from my last two posts, both of which included stories and photographs of narrow boats, I have been pondering about the resurgence in interest in this gentle form of transport. I have a friend who lives full time with her husband on their narrow-boat, the Lady Arwen, and they love their life. Another friend and her family live between their house and their narrow-boat, purchased initially as 'digs' for her husband who lectures at a university too far away from home to commute. Yet another young musical friend (all these people are musicians!) spends most of his life renovating his narrow-boat and holding epic parties-  it seems to me, from the photographs, on-board as he progresses! Other friends are tentatively taking their first narrow-boating holidays, having caught onto the current 'zeitgeist'.  I would love to try it myself - but I suspect our visit to Brecon earlier this month is the closest I am likely to get!

So, back to textiles - here a few photos of the wool cushion I am making for the next craft fair.

Close up of the front, I am re-using the Big Blue Bird, which also featured on one of the cushions which sold at Open Studios. The main fabric is a charity-shop blanket which I dyed in the washing machine - I love this raspberry colour.

Here a close-up of the reverse side, showing a hand-stitched button-hole and two hand-made felt and cardboard buttons - yes, they will have stitching -holes punched into them before I attach them!

Here is the front of a cushion cover requested by a visitor to Open Studios. She wanted a small cushion with the image of a naive vase and flowers which I had included on a small folk-art quilt. I sized up the image and appliqued the pieces onto the background, which I then stipple-quilted to give that antique effect she had so admired.

I added a little hand embroidery here and there, and attached the two borders. I now have to make the back, which will be constructed form a man's thrifted shirt; I shall use the front, so that the buttons will provide a ready-made opening for the cushion pad to be inserted.

This last is an unfinished commission which I can't tell you any more about because it is a secret! Again, as I said in an earlier post, the greens just do not reproduce well on my camera, but I am using pieces from the two blankets I dyed, the green and the raspberry. I need more blankets!!!! I am really enjoying using them and can choose my own colours by dyeing them myself.

So, the sun is still shining - I am off for my walk and visit. Have a lovely day yourselves, won't you!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Welsh Sunshine

We both needed a break from the relentless avalanche of correspondence we are having to deal with re my mum leaving her own home and going into a residential care home, and selling her home. Every day now for about three weeks we have had a pile of letters from estate agents, solicitors, utilities companies and pensions agencies and local council. Everyone wanted a certified copy - not photocopy - of my Power of Attorney, several of them had more than one department who didn't communicate with each other. The estate agency's solicitors sent me a contract which stated that my mother was deceased - where they got that from is nobodies business, certainly not from me! It was quite distressing I can tell you. So we thought we would go and chill out at the caravan.

It was the best idea. Sunshine from sunrise to sunset. The top photo is the view which greeted us early each morning. We put up the awning - I shall draw a veil over that experience! - sat in the sunshine, had a day out in Brecon, Jim went fishing, I had a wander round Llangattock, and caught up on some stitching, and we went out for a couple of dinners with friends. No broadband, no phone calls, no television - bliss!

I had a tramp around Llangattock, the little village where we keep the caravan. No shops or anything else, really, but I found this little gem of a hotel hidden away. We enjoyed a very pleasant evening meal  there on Tuesday.

Jim heading into dinner

The little marina at Brecon

We walked along the tow path in the bright sunshine, for three miles. The round trip was about five and a half miles longer than I would normally walk, so I was quite pleased with myself - every step counts, as they say!

We rather thought we'd like to live in this house - except when the river floods, of course, as it has  once or twice.

A nod to the mining industry in the area, now no more, for better or worse depending on your view-point.

We were hailed by this lucky couple, chugging along sedately in the sunshine. A quick wave, then they were gone.

We dined overlooking the River Usk, watching the evening rise

Jim at the entrance to the Llanwenarth Hotel where we dined with friends on Wednesday. 

The peace and quiet of the four days away was just what we both needed. We are getting to know our way round a little more now, and have plans for our return later in the summer.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A couple of Jaunts

Hi Everybody - yes, I know, late again, this is getting to be a habit, I'm sorry. Lots of stuff happening re mum, and hours and hours of official paperwork re her move and also the house sale. Also a difficult time too, getting mum settled into her new home, not all wonderful I have to say and quite draining for all of us. But we take each visit as it comes, took mum to lunch at Sandringham the other day which was nice for both of us I hope and will give her something to talk and day-dream about.

The garden is looking its best at the moment, and the veggies are doing well; we had our first strawberries today they were really juicy and tasty. I am drawing a veil over my garlic growing and shall in future just keep on buying it from the market - much simpler!

Following our two week extravaganza that was Open Studios - which went well, thanks to all who came to see us, we did reasonably well though numbers were down on previous years - Yvonne and I popped down to Northampton to see a textile exhibition at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh house. Unfortunately apart from a couple, the exhibition photos I took have not come out for some reason. However, the ones I took of the house have so here are a few views of this magnificently conserved dwelling; the 'Thirties' is not my favourite era I have to say, but I did enjoy the tour.

After a lovely lunch in the cafe we strolled through the city in the sunshine, popped into Waterstones and made a few purchases, and then partook of a cooling cuppa, before making our way to the home of Yvonne's friends who live just outside Wellingborough. We stayed overnight at their beautiful mill house, it was totally fascinating. They keep a narrow boat on the River Nene which runs under their house through the mill. I was entranced by the whole place.

Jim and I had a day out along the North Norfolk coast on Friday, beautiful weather. We stopped in Wells and strolled round the quay, then drove further into the village proper and had lunch at a lovely pub. Another stroll after lunch brought us inevitably to a fishmonger, and we chose some sea-food for our tea. A lovely laid-back day, which unfortunately resulted in only one photograph as my camera battery died!

Mind you, it is a jolly nice photo, as I'm sure you'll agree, of Himself contemplating the boats in Wells quay.

I will try and not let it be another fortnight before I blog again! And I will catch up later on my blog reading and commenting - so much has passed me by, so I'm looking forward to seeing what you've all been up to. It has been a very busy time, and of course Open Studios took up time and energy. I sold some cushions and a large quilt and some little bits and pieces so was quite pleased; also have two commissions, and also invited, on the strength of people liking my work, to take part in two really nice craft fairs, more of which later. So, enjoy the nice weather, and catch you later.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Kaffe Fasset and Open Studios

Last Saturday, saw Susanne and I off on another Textile Jaunt - this time to Norwich Cathedral. First we had a good look round the Biennial Exhibition of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Dyers and Spinners, which was held in the Hostry and the Norwich School Crypt. Some stunning work here, and we got to chat to one of the weavers demonstrating her work as well. Too many photographs to include them all here, but a few to whet your interest.

After a pleasant lunch in the cafeteria we scuttled upstairs to the Weston Room for the Kaffe Fasset lecture  "Glorious Colour". Kaffe himself did not disappoint, and we all, I think, wanted to take his partner Brandon Maby, home with us, he was such a lovely man; however their slide show left a lot to be desired - a combination of intruding sunlight, and the quality of their slides led to less than optimum viewing. Although if you were a long time fan of Kaffe's work you probably had all the books anyway and had seen the original quilts and source-works. He is certainly a good speaker and we were well entertained for over an hour.

Sue and I were sat with a delightful lady - also called Sue, who, though born and bred in Norfolk, now resides in Thailand where she and her husband  own and run a beautiful hotel. Sue returns frequently to see her mum and her daughter but loves her life out there. Here is a link to her website - Susanne and I have all but books our flights, it sounds so fabulous! Lovely to meet you, Sue and don't forget that airport pick-up!!

We left the Cathedral in a blaze of sunshine and strolled off to check out Open Studios at The Jade Tree in Elm Hill, a very old and interesting part of Norwich. A friend of mine from nursing days until quite recently rented space here designing and making her glass jewellery, sadly I left it too late to come and see you in situ, Bev!

 We did however meet a lovely oil painter and photographer  and chatted for some time in their delightfully cosy upstairs studios. On our way out we stopped to chat to Zoe Green  a weaver and basket maker, who showed Sue the ropes, as it were, of Saori weaving. I had expected that Zoe and I would have one or two friends in common, Aviva, and Nick for example, but had no idea that she would also know my musical, basket weaving friends Rob and Julie King - what a small world Norfolk is to be sure!

We then walked to Pottergate, to find the new wool shop, Norfolk Yarn.  We were made very welcome and had a lovely chat with the owner  Becky - in fact I think I could have been hired on the spot to teach workshops had I been so inclined! I did feel the urge to purchase hundreds of skeins of yarn, but satisfied myself with just a couple.

 Took a few photographs and devoured visually the wonderful colour and textures of the glorious yarns in the shop.

This made us quite peckish so our last port of call was a cream tea in Roots. (have to say the scones were a bit on the dry side, but they were a nice crowd in there.)

So a really lovely day, full of colour and chats and tea and laughs. After a dreadful drive to Susanne's in heavy rain, the sun then came out and the rest of the day was like mid-summer, it was gorgeous.

Sunday I gave Yvonne the afternoon off at our Open Studios and settled down in her "studio" (living and dining room!) with my kindle and some stitching. I had a steady stream of visitors and sold some odds and ends, but had some super conversations. Especially lovely was a visit form Dc - her blog is Frugal in Norfolk. We have been reading and commenting on each other's blogs for some time now and it was great to actually meet up 'in the flesh' as it were! And later on a delightful visit from Gill of Dosie Rosie blog fame, and her friend Chris, we had a great chat and plan to meet up for coffee ...... lunch? in Holt when we can get our heads and diaries together. You know, blogging really does spawn some brilliant introductions, I've met some smashing bloggers in the last two years. You should try it!