Sunday, 28 July 2013

"well, my bags are packed......"

Yes, it's that time of year again - I'm off to the Burwell Bash later today. My instruments are all ready - including the lost shoulder - rest so I can breath again! Here's one instrument which won't be coming with me - not this year anyway.

Yes, the dulcimer will remain hanging on the wall for the time being, I've had no time to do more than try out a few chords and right-hand strum rhythms so it will just be excess baggage. This is my 7th (or is it my 8th?) Burwell and I have slowly and painfully learned not to take too much stuff - keep it simple!

The weather promises to be mixed, but that never seems to matter at Burwell, and many of us believe it exists in its own little time-and-space zone, so the outside weather doesn't apply. Here in West Norfolk it is very overcast and very very warm this morning, despite the rain we had last night the heavy oppressive feeling hasn't gone so perhaps another storm is in the pipeline.

Yesterday was lovely though, despite prognostications to the reverse; hot as anything here, and Jim, who was at the Holkham Game Fair all day said it was even hotter there - I know what it's like to be marooned in the middle of a large field on a blisteringly hot day! At least they had some shade. I was in the garden all afternoon.

                                                                  Mandatory floral shot.

This beautifully coloured hollyhock is a stray, left over from goodness knows when, we haven't had hollyhocks in the garden for years. In fact there would have been a couple more had Jim not been so quick to weed out these mysteriously huge-leaved plants which arrived from no-where! Hopefully it will set lots of seed.

I'd like to say I was weeding and tidying, and doing all that green-fingered kinda stuff - but I wasn't.

After perusing the paper, and filling in most of the cross-word - sorry, Jim! ........

I settled down in the comfy wicker chair, with a good dollop of sun-protection cream all over me ......

....and set to work with this pile of delicious loveliness. Aren't those cottons beautiful? I have collected them over a few years from various quilt shows and the Knitting and Stitching Show. My absolute favourites are from Jean Oliver who hand-dyes her cotton and trades under Oliver Twists, I'm sure many of you have come across them. And they are such a nice firm as well, you never see them get hot under the collar at shows, unlike some other people I could name. (but shan't!) My problem is these days you don't seem to be able to find their variegated medium soft cotton thread, it is lovely to work with. All they seem to have on the website are the textured bundles of "one -offs" and "two-offs" which I don't want. I've contacted Rainbow Silks and Caroline says they don't stock anything else, and their own website doesn't have them either. So if you are off to a show this summer and see Oliver Twist, ask them to put their medium soft cottons back on sale!!

Anyway, this is what I was stitching. I finished the pin-cushion.

I'm quite chuffed with it, actually, it was such a nice little thing to work on and quick to make up. More of these in my head for later execution!

I also got onto the embroidery of the new cushion, it was a little warm at times, stitching away at this large piece of felted blanket, but well worth it.

For most of my wool applique I use a simple straight stitch, as I don't like the heavy effect that all-over blanket stitch gives. However, for the 'grassy edge' here, I thought I would use it in order to give the scallops a hard edge, and I really like it. I particularly like the variegated perle cotton I've used here.

I used perle no. 5 for the french knots, it has a slightly shinier look compared to the softer medium cotton.

So there you have it, a lovely afternoon of stitching and browsing the papers. I should, of course, have been doing my ironing in preparation for packing but hey, I've got all morning today ......

I'm not taking my lap-top with me, so I won't be blogging from Burwell, but I will be taking lots of photographs and I'll tell you all about it next time. So for now, have a good week ...ooooh school holidays, you lucky people.... and I will catch up with you next week.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

New Arrivals.

Now I can't imagine what you thought I was going to blog about! But I'm not!  No, I'm writing about some new arrivals in the Gill Family, and first of all comes these two chaps, seen above being cuddled by Fraser and Dylan. Two Beagle pups found their way into the hearts and home of Kit and family, and here they are, meet Frankie and Benny.

                                                                      Kit - proud Dad!

                       Beccie has been agonizing for a puppy for years! Can you tell?

                        Frankie and Benny in their small fenced in puppy run - or play-pen!

Kit has wanted a Beagle for... oh I can't remember , years and years, but the time was never quite right. In fact even when we were out there this Winter his response was a firm NO! to Beccie's pleas. So when he changes his mind he changes it good and proper - two puppies are happier than one, he's read, so two puppies it is. They look gorgeous, and I can't wait until we go out there again and I can see them - though they will be full-grown dogs by the time we make our next New Zealand visit.

So that's the biggest new arrival excitement, but Jim and I have had our own New Arrival! Yes! We have been delivered of a healthy little ...... caravan!

Yes, me, a confirmed caravan phobic! But we have been talking about having some kind of permanent base in Wales near the river Jim fishes as often as he can get over there. We thought tents, but decided we are getting on a bit for tent holidays - despite my forays into tents at Molly Festivals! So we decided a small caravan on a permanent site, which we have been able to secure. I initially had wild dreams about turning it into my very own "Connie-van" which readers of Lucy's Attic 24 blog will recognise. But no, common sense prevailed. it ISN'T a vintage caravan, I think this is one instance where Jim would put his foot down quite firmly if I suggested I paint the inside in pretty pastels! It is in quite immaculate condition, so no excuse for ripping things apart and recovering, for instance. No, it will remain a 'grown-up' space, and I shall restrain myself, simply added some homely touches here and there. We are quite delighted with it and were just at the right place at the right time to snap this little gem up well within our budget. Lots of lovely plans going on at the moment, Jim will fish, I will stitch, read, walk into the village, catch a bus maybe to who knows where, and maybe even play a little music? And on the days Jim doesn't fish, we shall explore together. Sunshine or no sunshine!!

Well, there you have it. New arrivals are so exciting, aren't they? Have you had any new arrivals recently?

Friday, 19 July 2013

Floral Friday

I understand from Jo's blog ( Jozart)  that today is Feelgood Friday. And I do! I love this hot weather - yes, I know it's too much for some people, and there have been some terrible fires. However, I have been waiting over a year for this and I'm blummin' well going to enjoy it! And this weekened I will NOT be paradin' meself around wearin' a funny hat and makin' a noise in Furrin Parts, for a change. No, just me, myself and I,  Jim finding HIMself in an open field neath blistering sunny skies instead for the weekend. I hope you have something planned that is pleasing to you, whether you are chillin' out or doing something interesting but perspiration-inducing!

Speaking of funny hats, I had a good chuckle earlier this week reading Cathy's blog (Potter Jotter) Her name is Cathy Daniel, and she had used some of the lovely ceramic tiles she makes, to come up with a few anagrams of her name. This was especially for me:

Isn't that clever? If you want to see what the equally clever other anagrams were, pop over and check out her blog. Thanks Cathy, this is just great!

So, mooching round the garden doing some garden tasks this morning (ahem) I thought I'd bring some of the loveliness indoors, and set about with the secateurs (well, the kitchen scissors, actually.)

                                                           The moody, shady shot.

                     I am probably the world's worst flower arranger but I think they look pretty.

So after a quick nip into town - I see Sainsbury's car park was half empty even at 10 o'clock when I left, so much for the obscenely expensive new parking ticket machines which seek to curb all the millions of pounds the council is losing with people sharing their unused tickets! One poor lady couldn't see to key in her reg. number how ridiculous, someone needs shooting on the council. I put heaven knows what reg. number, I nearly always get my letters back to front, and I know I missed the letter off the end. So I am awaiting any minute the Knock on the Door from some Jobsworth or other.

Anyway, too nice a day to rant. So when I got home, quick bit of house work. (Yes, I do on occasion get the feather duster and vacuum cleaner out!) then it was me for the garden.

And this is what I spent the afternoon doing.

                                                        Materials and tools at the ready.

                                   Embroidery in progress on the Big Cushion.

And the reason for the Big Basket of Felt, seen above :

The Little Cushion, or a pin cushion to be precise. The grey looking blanket background is actually quite a nice green but the colour leached out in the sun.

So there you have it. A short post about what's made me happy today. Oh, and one other thing did too, but you can't see that - a phone call from a very tired chap in a field in Worcestershire! Hope you had a Fell Good Friday too!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

OWMD at the Ely Folk Festival

I hope you'll excuse another self-indulgent post - this time the Ouse Washes Molly Dancers were alive and kicking at the Ely Folk Festival this very hot weekend. Well, the very hot Saturday at any rate. They said it was 30 degrees, but Jim says it was 42 by his car read-out, and it felt every single one of those degrees, believe me! The header photo is me collapsed waiting for us to dance up at the Festival site.

We met with all the other Morris and Molly sides at the Cathedral and we processed through the town. Lots and lots of well-wishers, tourists and locals, clapping, waving, and taking photographs and videos.

Every so often each side would pause and dance, until the next side caught up with them, and on we'd go. We musicians played continuously "Ain't Misbehavin'". Other sides, of course, had their own 'processing' music.

Once the procession had finished three sides including us began their dance sets up at the Cathedral.

                                    Ouse Washes Musos, James, Jan, Nicky , me, Steve.

Nicky playing for the childrens' Broom Dance, you can also spot Bryan in his newest frock and hat.

                    The Witchmen from Kettering. Excellent dancers and a remarkable sight.

               And we couldn't forget the Cathedral (though I nearly did!) Excuse Margaret's armpit.

Meeting up with Liz from Boggart's Breakfast Molly. Liz lives in Sheffield and we meet up at melodeon workshops in Oxfordshire! It's a small world!

Here we are up at the Festival site. Managed to nip into the tent to hear some great performers in between dances. It was SOoooooooooooo HOT!!!!!

By the time we got up to the festival site my feet were so sore and blistered I had to take my boots off and hence here I am rather naughtily playing in my stocking feet. And yes, Georgia, I will admit - those are your socks!

Could have done with my sunglasses but they won't fit with my mask ...have to fit them with shades!

And there you have it. A great day out, very hot, blistered feet but great fun. I met up with a number of friends from all over England who dance, or play, it's quite amazing how the same old faces keep showing up!! Viv, I did see Green Dragon Molly but didn't know who you were better luck next time!

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful weekend in the sun, by gumb, we've waited long enough for it, haven't we!

Monday, 8 July 2013

A Cultural Feast

This wonderfully hot English summer's weekend saw a massed gathering of Morris and Molly dance sides up on the North Norfolk coast at the little town of Sheringham. An annual event called the Lobster Potties Festival is held and the town turns out to support it, tourists come in droves, and the dancers and musicians dance and play their hearts out. Some beer is consumed (it is, coincidentally, a beer festival, after all!And it did get very hot - 31 degrees on Sunday morning at the camp-site!)

Here you can see young James, Jan and Steve who live in Sheffield but come and play for Ouse Washes when they can, and me, myself. Slipping out of shot is a member of the Loose Women Mollies. It was a fantastic weekend, helped, I'm sure by the wonderful weather.

This is Porter, a lovely Cocker Spaniel belonging to Elin and Bryan; he was a little star all weekend.

This post is going to be photo-heavy, so bear with me while I crack on uploading. Enjoy the spectacle!

                                                      Bryan showing off his new bloomers.

                                                           Suze doing breakfast cuppas.

Alex sorting out the children. Between them, Alex and her sister Suze do most of the camp organising and hard work. It's that Girl Guiding Ethic.

My bed-space, in the "pod" attached to the side of Alex's VW Camper van. Yes, I want one too!

                 Putting on the blacking before heading off to town. James, Alex and Bryan.

                              A breakfast visit from one of the Gongs Scourers musicians.

Me, with Elin, one of our Mollys (and a great fiddler, too!) Kitted up for her role with her other side, Golden Cross Morris. She danced for them on Saturday, and with us on Sunday. Love those bells!

                                               Gongs Scourers Border Morris in action.

                                        Two amiable chaps who stopped for a quick snap!

                                                     A Border Morris side in action.

Alex and her van. Sides arriving at the car-park Sunday morning. It was already 31 degrees at the camp-site. It cooled down a little because of the sea breeze, but town was HOT!

This is a Cotswold Morris side. The terms 'Border' and 'Cotswold' and 'Rapper' refer to the style of dancing, not the place of origin of the sides.

Ouse Washes take a coffee break between dance sets. It was quite relentless, we continued throughout the day, stopping off at pre-determined spots throughout the town to dance our sets with other sides in in group. Here we see Jan, Peter, and Ellen, and Suze just visible in the background. She dances with Loose Women  Mollys. Oh, and a close up of Andrew, our "Molly" side view. Andrew is training up Bryan as Deputy Molly. Equivalent to the Morris side's Fool.

                                                       Gongs Scourers Musicians.

            The Evil Line-Up : Georgia, me, Bryan (he gets everywhere, doesn't he?) And Alex.

                         Ouse Washes prepare for their next set down by the two Lifeboats.

                                                                         Loose Women.

                                                                    And plenty of it!

Some interesting, somewhat sinister chaps. The costumes of lots of these sides is quite amazing, and for anyone interested in textiles, it is a real visual feast. I had so many compliments about my hat!

                                Another Cotswold Morris side. Love the appendage!

The amazingly costumed Pig Dyke Molly side. They dance out not far from Ouse Washes, in the Fens.

                                                                The Pig Dyke Musicians.

          A young boy performs a Morris Jig solo. Quite a lump in the throat moment, actually.

                                                           Well done, young man!

A lovely group called Youth Miscellany, from ages about 5 to 15. Wonderful to see these youngsters.

They danced to very English tunes such as Princess Royal and Soldiers Joy,  tunes reminiscent of Nelson's day. Another lump in the throat moment for me. I just wish our media would do more to promote true English culture - we are allowed to be proud of it without it being a racist statement!

            Great action shot of Jason and Bryan doing the Broom Dance. Steve on melodeon.

Jason getting his leg over. They finish this dance with a spectacular double somersault. Happy landings - Jason has made many of them! Bryan is learning the ropes and made a great somersault today.

Sheringham beach - almost deserted because every one was in town at the festival! Ouse Washes did go in for a dip at the finish though.

It was a truly brilliant week end. I had problems with my back after the Saturday - there is so much standing around. However Alex to the rescue with the Ibuprofen and sunday was a breeze. I had so much fun, being in such good company. We had a session at the tents on Friday evening and Nick (melodeon tutor) came to join us - he is an ex-member of Ouse Washes. Saturday night we had a session in the School where our campsite was situated.

This was such an incredible sight to see all the wonderful costume and dancing. I fervently wish we would stop being embarrassed by our traditional dancing heritage, and I wish the media would do more to promote it. Had this been the Brixton Carnival the World's Press would have been there in droves. As it is, this wonderful spectacle will rate a few lines and a few photos in the local paper. However, dear blog readers, I am hoping that you will read, look, be amazed, and talk about what you've seen, where-ever you are around the world, and know that traditional culture is alive and well in England!