Saturday, 26 July 2014

Pre- Burwell Post!

A quick post, just to fill you in on this week's events, as we hurtle headlong into Burwell Bash week. (The mood on the BB facbook page is verging on the hysterical!)

It has been a beautiful week weatherwise, here in West Norfolk; we've had temperatures in excess of 28 degrees several times. The herd in the nursery field next door has been glad of the shade afforded them by our wall and the large beech tree. There are a couple of suckling calves there now, and Jim took some shots for me.

The veggie garden is doing nicely, green beans, broad beans and courgettes are romping away, and we are enjoying them by the plateful.

Those of you who remembered the awful pain and infection I suffered last winter in my jaw - first identified as a dental problem, then a sinus problem, finally a specialist dental surgeon diagnosed a split tooth which required extraction as it had grown another root, and then I needed a replacement. I've just had the final stage of the implant completed, and can now smile widely again!Hurrah, just in time for Burwell! The dentist actually timed the 2nd and 3rd stages so as to be complete before Burwell, honestly! What a guy!

I've been stitching furiously this week , mainly for the Craft Fair at Back to the Garden in August (tell you more about that later) and also to finish this commission for a shoulder bag. Again, the green colour doesn't show too well.

I do hope the recipient likes it! It is messenger bag size, with a pocket on the back and one on the inside.

Now I have got out of sync with The Year in Books, I'm afraid, but I have been reading - about four detective novels so far this month, and also I am tandem-reading this mighty tome with Jim.

It is a very large book, and we are both reading it, using individual book marks to prevent confusion. We don't fight over who gets to read it. If you enjoy a bit of non-fiction and enjoy history, and most of all WORDS, you could not do better than to try this. It isn't a book to whizz through at great pace,  but it is fascinating, covering such topics as English writing, mythology, religion, symbolism, the Anglo-Saxons - obviously! A book to totally immerse yourself in. If it takes me a month to read it I don't care. Oh, I might just add - though why I should feel the need is a sad indictment on the age - I should stress that the book has absolutely NOTHING to do with jingoism, Far Right politics, or plug-ugly skin-heads wearing bovver boots and fascist slogans.

And speaking of books, I have such a pleasant little tale to tell you. I had been searching for a book of small embroidery patterns, and eventually found one on Amazon second hand. The seller was a lady in North Wales, who answered my query about delivery dates with a lovely personal message - to which I replied. (I know, I know, you just DON'T do that normally do you?) My book arrived promptly and inside the package was this envelope:

And inside, this:

With another lovely personal message inside. Now that's what I call good service! Thank you so much Dr. Dorothy Griffiths, the book and your gesture has been much appreciated. 

I expect many of you will be enjoying watching the Commonwealth Games. I can't ay that sporting events figure largely on my list of favourite things, but JIm likes to watch, so I sit and sew with it all going on in the background. (When we come indoors to cool down!) But next week there will be radio, tv, and newspaper silence, as ever at Burwell. We cut ourselves off - apart from the occasional phone home - and leave the rest of the world to carry on while we exist on Burwell Time! This year I am forsaking the fiddle class - though I will take my fiddle for the sessions - because I shall be part of the brand new MELODEON CLASS and as I have intimated previously, our tutor will be ANDY CUTTING!!!!!! Forgive the excess of capitals and exclamation marks, but I am just thrilled to bits. I'll tell you all about it next time. 

Meanwhile enjoy this lovely suns and heat, you Brits, and to my Antipodean readers/friends/relations I hope it isn't too wintery for you down there! 

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.