Thursday, December 31, 2009

Onward and Upward




The last day of 2009 seems as good a place as any to look back on the last year.  I'm adding to it slowly throughout the day, it would be a shame to miss something that  was important.

We began the year with a visit to the theatre and a promise that we would do it again soon.  Of course, the latter didn't happen, but I'm sure we'll do something like it this year.  Frankly there was nothing that took the eye, and time sped by too fast to even take the train to town apart from a quick pass through on my way to visit my lovely friend.. 

February was a busy month, and I have to say that looking at next year's diary (it's the last time I can say that!) the month will be busy again.  As usual we went to Textiles in Focus and had a thoroughly good time.  Don't forget to make your plans asap if you want to go in 2010.  February was also the month that we had the first inklings of something that happened later in the year, but frankly we didn't believe it!

March was a month of teaching and frustration.  However out of frustration came a lot of learning and new colours, so there was certainly a silver lining to that cloud.  I even managed to do some stitching

April was a month of birthdays, and, of course, Easter.!  We saw family, and I continued to teach and dye.  No time to rest, but that came in May when we visited our little hideyhole.  June was also busy but we all got together for a very special birthday


We were so grateful that Mum was still with us to celebrate her birthday as only the week before she was close to death's door.  We have had more scares since then (and we enter 2010 with great uncertainty) but we will hold that day in our memories for a long time.

July arrived as the culmination of what was promised in February!  At the beginning of the year we had no inkling, but now we were filming an episode of 'Talking Threads'.  I have to say that when it was first mooted I honestly didn't think that it would happen!

August passed with more teaching, dyeing, Summer School and the Festival of Quilts, and we were very relieved to get to September and a lovely visit to France followed by the filming of a Christmas DVD.

And so into autumn.  October saw the first epidode of  Talking Threads and more selling, dyeing and teaching.      November continued to be busy and included my episode about dyeing and then the filming of a new DVD. Autumn, of course is followed by winter, and this year the winter seems to have been especially suited to comfort food.  December was exciting with a course at Missenden Abbey, preparation for Christmas



and then the release of the new Embellisher DVD which has been selling well.  

Christmas came and went


and although the days before had been spent suffering from an unpleasant virus we were able to enjoy it with family and friends.

And so to New Year.  Tonight we plan to celebrate with friends and neighbours and look forward to stepping into the unknown of a new decade.  Regrettably Mum is heading towards a new crisis, but we will weather whatever storm that brings.  January will see us recording Level 2 of Inspired Embellishing, and that is something we certainly could not have foreseen in January  2009

Thank you for following the blog over the last year.  I wish each and every one of you a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2010.




 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve

Not a very original title to the post, I have to admit, but it's the best I can do in the time available. It is indeed Christmas Eve tomorrow, and how ready are you? I'm almost there, and I'm not about to admit, in public, to what I have forgotten in case the person in mind reads this post, so you will just have let your imaginations wander! However, it is a time of year when memories begin to filter back through the years, and today is no exception.




As a child we often spent Christmas in Wales. My Welsh grandparents lived in Brecon, a delightful town which still retains all its old charm and well worth a visit. They had a small house, and at the time in question even had outside 'facilities'! We would travel down from Surrey via the A4 and the A40, through Abergavenny and Crickhowell and the journey would take hours. Literally a whole day. Speeds would rarely be above 30mph, and it was very tiring for small children. We would be so excited to see Tretower Castle as it would mean that we were nearly there, although there were still several miles to travel. And so, finally, we would arrive to a hot meal and a house warmed by a coal fire and range in which the meal had been cooked. The kettle would hang over the fire and was always on the boil, ready for tea. Grandparents delighted to see us, and us, although pleased to be there, really ready for bed and needing to sleep.

And so it was the particular Christmas that I have in mind. We arrived and there was the tree in the corner, bedecked as usual with the traditional family baubles and of course some tinsel. No fairy lights, but there were candles and little gifts hanging and scattered beneath. Before long my brother and I were tucked up in bed, all cosy under a beautiful Welsh quilt that unfortunately is now long gone. The journey had made us very tired, so we slept soundly, completely missing the sound of Rudolph's hooves as he landed on the roof, and how Santa got down that chimney with the fire still burning in the grate I really don't know, but he managed it, and before long it was Christmas morning.

It was very quiet. There were sounds downstairs, but the coutryside had a different feel about it, and the light was so bright. We both crept down the twisted staircase to find the adults up and busying themselves. What a shock! There had been a snowfall overnight. The snow was at least halfway up the door and it was impossible to get out either at the front or the back. As already mentioned the 'facilities' were not inside, so it was essential to dig a way out as soon as possible. My father and mother did this, and fortunately it wasn't far. I don't remember if the water was frozen, but it wouldn't surprise me. We huddled around the range for breakfast, and then we were allowed to open some of our gifts. The funny thing is that I don't remember what mine were. I do remember, however, that my brother had a set of lorries, all in green and red. He lay on the floor and played with them for hours. At some point during the day I was allowed to use my grandmother's treddle sewing machine. This was an especial treat, and I'm sure that in this lie the seeds of my love of machine embroidery.

It was a happy time. One of the few Christmas Day memories that I have of us all being together. Shortly after this my father was promoted and from then on always had to work on Christmas Day. Although our celebrations were always happy they were disjointed, him leaving home at 6am and often not back until 9pm at night. We would have presents, but our real celebration would be a couple of days later when he was home all day and everyone would gather. Our trips to Wales for Christmas ceased too. Grandparents had to travel to us. They came by coach and we always collected them at Reading bus station. I used to wonder what happened to the range when they were away. Did it look after itself? Did Rudolph still call with Santa and find no-one at home? Who knows.

Happy Christmas, friends, whether you celebrate or not. However, somewhere in the midst of all your hustle and bustle please try to remember at some point that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New DVD

This has been an exciting but busy week.  On Monday we took delivery of our first supply of the new DVD on embellishing. 

The first ones have already been sent, and more are going out today.  If you would like a copy you can find it here and here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Textile in Focus - Don't miss out

February is the month for Textiles in Focus.  Held each year at Cottenham just outside Cambridge in the UK it is the highlight of the textile year for a number of people.  It has a good mixed selection of traders, interesting exhibitions and 2 hour workshops to give you a taster of a number of crafts etc.  The next show will be as much fun as the last, if not more, and today is the day that information is released.

The dates for your diary are 19th - 21st February 2010, but if you want to take part in a workshop etc you need to get the details NOW or all the places will be gone.....

Full information can be found here.  Don't miss out, and come and say 'Hi' to us at Winifred Cottage as always we'll have far more with us that we have online including all sorts of Sassa Lynne bits and pieces.  (I'll be teaching a workshop too)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Little Bookies Part 2

I've been going to blog about this all week since I came back from Missenden Abbey, but somehow other things got in the way.  I needed to download the pictures first, that's done now, so here are a few glimpses at what we got up to.

It was a fun weekend, but I made them work hard!





We made a mess at times, so those cat litter trays were useful.



We coloured lots of papers using several techniques






Of course they had to keep their heads down and just get on with it!



We created fun surfaces



And made a variety of covers.  Some bright




And others not so bright.



Some had pockets for fun but others didn't

We'll be makng little bookies at Textiles in Focus next February, how about joining us?


















Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas is coming.

I am spending the weekend finishing my Christmas cards. I have 250 to make this year, some for family, friends and aquaintances, but also on behalf of my mother, who also used to make all her cards until her sight became too poor. I've nearly finished, and if I hadn't stopped to write this I could have made at least another one! DH is helping too. He's addressing all the envelopes and will take them to the PO too. We no longer share the stamp licking! Thanks to Royal Mail they are all now self-adhesive.

Then what?

Well, the gift wrapping of course, and this is a chore. Many moons ago I would design individual wraps for family recipients - for example one year I wrapped a TV to look like - a TV ! Not this year though, it will be wrapping paper for most but for some it will be a little different.

Now in theory there should be a video for you to watch next showing you a brilliant and reusable idea, but as I've not added one before I'm not sure what will happen. Let's see.



Furoshiki gift wrapping from RecycleNow on Vimeo

What will you be doing with yours?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Food

When I woke this morning it was cold, damp and grey.  It was foggy, and it looked as though it was going to last all day.  It looked as though it was just the sort of day for comfort food to chase away the blues, so I thought I'd make a nice warming pan of soup.  It's one of our family favourites, and is really filling.  It can be served with chunks of crusty bread, but frankly it doesn't need it.  We call it 'Orange Soup', but that refers to the colour and I promise that there isn't an orange in sight.

This version is a sort of 'throw it in the pan and see' type of recipe.

First, prepare your lentils!  I use red lentils (they add to the colour) but you can use any lentils you like or happen to have.  I use about half a cup for 4 servings.  Let them simmer or partially cook if this is needed while you  prepare the rest of the ingredients.

You will need -
peeled sweet potatoes cut up into chunks,
peeled squash cut to the same size,
an eating apple well washed and cut into chunky slices (I leave the skin on - but that's up to you
a piece of fresh ginger about the size of your thumb up to your knuckle which I peel and slice fairly thinly

When the lentils are ready for the 'long' cooking I transfer them to my slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients along with some hot stock.  If you haven't got any stock it works just as well with water.




So, pop the lid on and wait for it to cook.  This recipe works well on the top of the stove too, but remember to turn it down to a simmer after it has all come back to the boil.

Now, how do you like your soup?  If you like it 'with bits in' you can crush it with a potato masher.  If you want it a little finer push it through a seive - the apple skin won't go through, though, and the ginger will struggle as well.  I usually whizz it with the blender, until it is smooth, with jus the odd fleck of apple skin to give it some texture.  Don't forget to taste and season at this point.

To serve I grate a little hard cheese (preferably a good cheddar) into the bottom of the serving bowl. This melts as the hot soup is poured in and creates creamy whirls within the colour.  You can also add a little chopped parsley if you have some.

So, mine is happily simmered away - and guess what?  The fog has cleared the sun has come out!  Told you it would chase away the blues!

 Yum.  There's enough for you too.




Enjoy.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Little Bookies

This weekend I'm off to Missenden Abbey. I intend to have a lovely time making little books, and hopefully the students will enjoy it too! I know they will make several, so, with their permission, I'll be able to post some pictures of theirs too, next week, but by way of a taster here are a couple.







Can you tell that I'm trying not to give too much away?

Well, just for good measure, here's another - in the process of construction.



Half the fun is colouring the pages.....

PS, don't forget that you can find the thread of the month here.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

From this.....

It's hard to believe, but ....

From this


 
To this...



Sorry they aren't better photos - but HAPPY BIRTHDAY anyway.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fancy a Cup-Cake?

Earlier this year we visited France, and one of the places we discovered was a delightful little English teashop called 'CupCakes'. I wanted to tell you all about it when I blogged earlier, but for some reason the pictures I took weren't really up to standard. However, by a rather circuitous route I have just been sent this link, and lo and behold - this is the very place that I wanted to tell you about.



We didn't succumb to a cupcake when we visited.... but rather a slice of delicious almond and fig tart.




After all, you already know that I LOVE figs!

So, if you are ever in that part of France you know where to go for a little piece of England, but what if you are too far away to indulge? How about a delicious cupcake that you can enjoy just about anywhere and at any time - and that is totally fat free?



Aren't these a delight? They are all available from an Etsy shop called britishcreamtea. There are other goodies there too, including a Cornish Pasty, and frankly it looks far tastier than any I've seen in a real food shop!

Now, a little of what you fancy never did anyone any harm ;0)

personal website

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Violent Annie

I need to point out at the beginning of this post that Annie was not violent.  In fact, Annie isn't really her name, the title is actually an affectionate corruption of her real name.  Violent Annie was born 105 years ago, and lived to be well over ninety.  I was reminded of her today when I made a tomato sandwich. 

The first 40 years of her life were filled with plenty.  Even the war years were spent in an area that lacked for nothing.  Rationing apparently hardly touched her village as it was almost totally self sufficient.  From a wealthy family the next few years came as a shock to her system when she was divorced and left almost penniless with a child to support.

So why did a tomato sandwich remind me of Violent Annie?  We knew her well and visited her often in the years before she died.  She loved entertaining, but still with no money she resorted to a number of tricks to stretch the odd penny.  I thought of her as I sliced the tomatoes and piled the pieces between two slices of bread.  I almost felt guilty at using so much of the fruit, after all, Violent Annie could have made at least six rounds of sandwiches with the same quantity.  Did I say six ROUNDS?  Yes, enough for six people - and here is her 'recipe'

Ingredients
12 Extremely thin slices of bread
1 bottle salad cream
1 tomato

Method
Blanche then peel the tomato
Finely chop the tomato.  When it is very finely chopped - chop it again.  Continue chopping  until it becomes a paste.
Spread the merest covering of salad cream over two surfaces of bread, repeat with the tomato paste then form into a sandwich.  Repeat with the remaining slices until all the tomato has been used (remember - this must make AT LEAST six rounds....

Carefully remove the crusts from the sandwiches and leave to one side.  Cut the sandwiches into triangles and serve.

So what do you do with the crusts?  They will make tomorrow's lunch by carefully layering in an ovenproof dish.  Cover with a beaten egg and small amount of milk and set aside for a while.  Sprinkle with a small amount of grated cheese and bake in a hot oven until golden for a savoury bread pudding.

What did you have for lunch today?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weekend Whirl

It's been over a week since I had time to blog, so what have I been up to?  It's been a busy time, but we've had great fun.

Last weekend saw us travelling 200+ miles north to visit the York branch of the Embroiderers' Guild.  What a lovely group of ladies.  We were greeted with a lovely lunch, just perfect after our long journey, and then we got ready to give a talk about the embellisher and various techniques.  It was well received with some very interesting and observant questions, and a good prelude to the workshop the next day.  We had very comfortable accommodation courtesy of one of the members, and we owe a very big thank you to Sandra for her care and consideration.

On Sunday 16 members gathered at the university for a workshop.  They were such an enthusiastic bunch!  What lovely samples they produced, and they all seemed to enjoy it.  Of course, in one day we were only able to scratch the surface of the wonderful variety of techniques that can be used, but hopefully they are well on their way to experiment further now.  Here we are at the end of a very busy day, can you see that I wore them all out!  (That's lovely Sandra, our hostess, on the left)



Of course, Sunday was Rememberance Day, and we observed our two minutes silence.  There was a parade in the city of York, and DH was able to go off and take part in some of the ceremonies.




These occasions are always very moving, but more so this year with so many lives lost in the service of our country.

The weather was beautiful while we were away, but the journey home brought us back to earth with a bump.  Our journey was in the dark, finally arriving home in the early hours, and we hit a number of very dense fog patches.  They heralded a change in temperature and of course the rest of the week has been damp and somewhat windy at times (it's supposed to get worse later.....)  However, we returned home to lots of preparatory work....

On Thursday I recorded a DVD!  It's the first of a series, and there will be two featuring the Emebllisher.  You will be able to see more details both on my website and on that of the production company in the very near future.  I would love to show you some pictures of the experience, which was great fun and not in the least bit scary, but unfortunately the camera hasn't obliged.  Hopefully I will be able to borrow a picture from someone else, or point you towards one in the near future.  Keep your eyes peeled!  The DVD will be out before Christmas, and will be full of hints and tips.

Today we are taking it easy.  Off to visit family later, and then another DVD to plan - taking number one a bit further.  I'll be recording that in less than a month, so I need to keep on my toes.

Have a good weekend, and watch this space...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I've got my eye on you


You may remember that earlier this year we went on holiday to France and while we were there we stayed with Sally and Neil, who introduced us, amongst other things, to the delights of the coffeemaker!  Now, each morning is filled with the delicious aroma of freshly made coffee, so much better than the quick whiff as the lid of instant is removed.  Of course, then I had to search for the perfect coffee blend, and that was difficult as the one that we loved in France isn't available locally.  So.. the search took me both north and south, and HOORAY!  I FOUND THE MOST DELICIOUS COFFEE.  I'd like to keep it a secret, but it really is one of the best I've tasted, so here is the link to find it.  .   The picture above is my morning's cup freshly made.  Don't you dare pinch it!  I've got my eye on you....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Eavesdropping

Today I had to make a short journey by train.  The carriage was sparsely populated, but the seats behind me were occupied by two young girls with very loud voices.  I didn't want to hear their conversation, but I had no option.  Here is a snippet..

'I hate sleeping with a new man.  He might see my feet'

You don't need to hear the rest of the coversation....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Would you believe it..........?

I've mentioned Talking Threads a few times on this blog.  Well, tomorrow is the start of the series.  At 7pm you will be able to tune in to either Sky Channel 171 or pop over and view it on the internet at The Country Channel.   I have visions of stitchers all around the country huddled around the TV or computer enjoying a half hour of inspiration. 

Well, guess what....

I won't be able to join you!  We have a long standing invitation to sell in Salisbury, and that's where we'll be!  Inspire Stitchers, here we come.

However, (and I'm sure it must be just for my benefit) the stream on the internet will be live when we get home, so that means that I can watch it, even at midnight if I want to!

Tomorrow's programme is about Jill Kennedy.  She is a silk painter par excellence, so enjoy the episode.  If you can't wait you can see a short taster here

By the way, I was surprised to find a selection of other interesting textile related programmes at the Country Channel, so have a good look around.  You may have to change channels, but that's easy when you find the buttons at the bottom of the screen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rust Dyeing Workshop

There are two places left on the workshop taking place next week, so I thought I'd give you a gentle reminder.


Wednesday 21st October in Aldershot, Hampshire. It will be a fun day, and a delicious lunch is included.

I would like to have inserted a picture here, but Blogger is playing funny games today so here is a link instead

You can read more about rust and workshops here, and here,

Hope to see you there

Thursday, October 08, 2009

National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day in the UK.  Here's one of my favourites. It never fails to bring a tear to my eye, and although I don't know exactly when it was written I do know the author, and believe me, she fits into the theme of heroes and heroines.  Please feel able to leave a comment, I'd love to pass those on.

Well, Lord,
It's now four years since I first knew the sweetness of Your Presence.
You rescued me from a life that was not worth living.
A life shared with another, but full of emptiness.
No real sharing with him,,
No pleasing him,
No love from him,
No meaning to any relationship.

Then suddenly,
When desperation came,
When there was no way out except the wrong way -
There You were.
Your arms were open, and You were walking towards me.
I didn't need to hunt for You -
You found me.

"Follow Me."
Just two words. That's all you said.
You showed me how.
You opened doors.
You led me every step of the way,
And You are still leading me.

It's still hard to share with him.
I hardly ever please him.
He still doesn't show his love very often,
But You have shown me that there is meaning in all relationships.
You have given me the grace to take all hurts,
Knowing that now You suffer with me.

The grief that I feel now is not all mine.
I know that You grieve too.
My circumstances may not have changed,
Outward appearances may say that they have worsened,
But inside I am slowly being made whole.

The day that I knew You had forgiven me I was able to forgive him.
Not just for the hurts that he inflicted deliberately,
But for those of which he is unaware.
The ones that are part of his background,
The ones from which he needs that deep healing.

You are so gentle' Lord.
You alone know how fast we can go.
Our human side often makes mistakes as we try to hurry Your work along.
You have shown me that You can perform many miracles,
But the biggest of all must be to turn a life around
Without changing the circumstances.

Others condemn,
But You never do.
Others cast sideways glances and mutter under their breath,
But You just keep on loving.
Although the flesh may be weak the heart is willing;
That You alone know, and that is all that matters.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me a glimpse of heaven on earth.
Thank you, Lord, for being so close nothing else matters.
Thank you, Lord, that though I may not see You footprints
They are surely there,
And You are guiding my feet along a path
That You have especially mapped out for me.
Thank you, Lord, for making me special.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

What do you keep in yours?

We take so much of everyday life for granted. Fancy a cold drink? Open the refrigerator. Keep your vegetables fresh? Open the refrigerator. You get the message. Where would we be without this wonderful invention? However, it hasn't always been this easy. I can remember a time when we stored food without a 'fridge. I remember cheese wrapped in greaseproof paper that became soggy during a warm spell, and butter that never set during summer time, soft and almost oily even though it was stored in the larder. I was only a child, so didn't really understand the problems that this caused but I'm sure that some of you will have similar memories.

The area in which we currently live is full of history and rich in artefacts. Food storage has been a problem for 'ever', and one answer is illustrated very well in this area. Ice Houses were apparently 'invented' many many years ago. This article talks about the history etc, however, it is much more graphic to actually see one. Only the very wealthy would be able to have one of their own, and of course it would be contructed and maintained by 'staff' for the benefit of impressing visitors and rivals. Imagine having to cut chunks of ice from the pond during the winter months then pack them quickly into an especially contructed underground chamber, padding it with straw etc. All this for a landowner who probably didn't even know of your existence!


This wonderful photograph illustrates the roof of one such construction. You can find the original here with more information. Aren't the colours amazing? I think it could well inspire a piece of stitching at some point. There are also other examples around, some of them restored and converted into exhibition spaces. One day I would love to do a tour of the UK and view as many as possible. Maybe when I retire? In the meantime - anyone fancy a gin and tonic?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Revealed!

Oh what fun! Christmas in September! It's over now though. Today was the recording of a Christmas Special for Talking Threads

So, just for good measure, here are the cast and crew.


Do you recognise anyone?

(Oh, and lunch was delicious too. Thanks Ted, who also kindly took this photograph for me.)
.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Christmas is coming.....

I couldn't resist the title. My dearest DH absolutely refuses to even think about Christmas until 1st December. This has its drawbacks, but I've learnt over the years to turn those into positives. Before Christmas actually comes, though, we have a busy time ahead, and in fact the last week has been busy.

On Friday we were at Wey Valley Workshop, I was speaking and also running a short workshop. Friday saw us at the AGM of the SE Region of the Embroiderers' Guild and yesterday was a return trip to Urchfont Manor. As I have mentioned before Urchfont is a regular trip, but yesterday meant a somewhat longer journey as a key bridge was closed due to rebuilding. Although we know Wiltshire well it meant a journey along a road we haven't actually travelled before. Wow! We were amazed at the vista that was suddenly before us, and although it was misty we stopped to take a quick snap. (Yes, snap is the word, we'll take a proper photograph another time)



Sorry, it's difficult to see from this image, but I'll improve on it next time we go that way.and you may get a better idea by clicking on it. There's too much in the foreground, but we didn't have time to walk into the field.

The afternoon was spent with our son and family. Our little grandson is taking his watering tasks very seriously



Even though it means a long walk to refill the can!




And who better with whom to share a titbit than DAD!




Now, time to get back to work, I've still a lot to do for Christmas..... Christmas? Find out more here....



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Are you a creature of habit?

Maybe you could say that I am a creature of habit. I wake, I rise, I make a drink and start the day. I work. At night I go to bed and I sleep. Outside the times that I am sleeping I perform many and varied tasks, and visit many and varied places. So do I qualify as a creature of habit? I'll let you decide. How does this compare to your way of life? Sometimes other peoples' habits make themselves obvious in spite of trying to ignore them. The absence of these habits often hilights the fact that they were there in the first place, and this was the case a short while ago.

We have nearby neighbours. We don't know them well, but we speak, and it is comforting to know that they are there. However part of their routine is quite specific.

10.00 am Granny arrives
10.15 am Cousin arrives
10.25am Coffee and cigarettes enjoyed in the garden (come rain or shine)
10.55 Cousin departs
11.00 Granny and Mrs Neighbour depart.

Silence

2.00 pm Granny and Mrs Neighbour arrive home
2.05 pm Granny departs

2.10 pm Mr Neighbour arrives home.

This routine happens every day from Monday to Friday.

What do they get up to? Where do they go?

Who knnows?

Do I want to know?

Speculations please (in a sealed brown envelope)

;0)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Experiments

It's fun to have time to play, and I don't find that time very often. However when a workshop looms 'playing' is a necessity!



This is made with Szerkezet. Can you see how it has shrunk? I'm doing more experiments tomorrow. No, that isn't gold paint! It's a secret at the moment.....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Inspiration

You know, the zany thing about this stitching lark is that inspiration can come from the most unexpected sources. Maybe it was a glimpse of something as it flashed by during a journey. A turn of a book page can sometimes result in an interesting idea. Architecture, nature, sources are all around us and can be interpreted in so many ways.

However, this morning, for some totally unknown reason, these colours popped into my head.



I've had fun putting them together, now all I need is to find the time to stitch them. Better do the design first, though! I'll post the result eventually - but don't hold your breath. I have quite a lot to do over the next while.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I don’t believe in air

I DON’T BELIEVE IN AIR

I don’t believe in air.
no one has ever seen it;
no one has ever felt it
between finger and thumb.
converts talk about
tasting the air
and something in the air
but there’s always another explanation;
the nearby sea, a factory’s pipes',
a pile of fresh manure.
it’s not the so-called air that smells

scientists have complete faith in this air.
they say that it upholds
and sustains our world.
take away the air, they argue,
and we’d go too.
meteorologists attribute
signs and wonders to the air;
people thrown to the ground,
trees uprooted, the landscape rearranged.

it sounds like superstition to me.
if there is air
who made it?
where does it all go?

why doesn’t it show itself
just one time for proof?

friends ask me why windows rattle
and hair goes awry
but I don’t believe in air.

I don’t believe in air
air is just another word
for something that’s not there.

Anon

Friday, September 18, 2009

En France

This is going to be a long post, so it may be a good idea to make a cup of tea or coffee before reading on!

We have just returned from a wonderful time in France. It was partly a working holiday, but we also enjoyed a few days of rest. Our place of abode is lovely. Set amongst farmland in deepest Charante it is peaceful, and the weather was warm and sunny throughout our stay, encouraging us to take the rest that we really needed.

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This picture shows part of the outside. You can see the Pigeonnier and the Grand Salon. More of that later.

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The surrounding countryside is beautiful. Fields of Maize, Sunflowers and Corn surround tiny hamlets and ancient villages

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The maize was a wonderful golden colour. Lots of texture too, to stimulate ideas for future work.

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Sunflowers in different stages of development create atmospheres of their own too,

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whether still showing a little bit of yellow or almost ready for harvesting.

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There wasn’t much time to settle in, though. First we had to convert the Grand Salon into a shopping area. Not quite ready, but this gives you an idea of what was in store.

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The picture was taken from the mezzanine. If I tell you that the dining table seats at least 10 you will get an idea of what a wonderful space this is, and why it is called the Grand Salon! Through the doors at the end you can see the Veranda with a glimpse of the swimming pool beyond.

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Such a beautiful blue. The sun glinting invitingly.

The selling day was followed by a workshop.

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Everyone had great fun, me included. We created texture using a new technique, first to make a brooch and then a piece that will eventually become the panel for a book cover. I’m looking forward to seeing pictures of the finished pieces. It was hard to choose which one to include here, but finally I ‘plumped’ for this one.

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Of course, some of us were able to relax while others were working hard!

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Several dips in the swimming pool were the order of the day too!

Our free days were too precious to spend much time travelling, so we visited the local area. A trip to the River Charente at Fleurac was a delight. It is a beautiful spot, calm, quiet, and peaceful.

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There are several islands in this locality, and they are all connected by a series of wooden bridges. There is also a working paper mill processing hand made paper. Unfortunately it wasn’t open on the day we visited. The banks of the river were full of autumn fruits.

Hips

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Hops

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and blackberries in abundance.

Each morning was greeted with the chattering of sparrows in the poplars and evening was heralded with the arrival of flocks of swallows that dipped and dived over the fields, feasting on the insects that they could find. Every night we were treated to another beautiful sunset. This is the start of just one.

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One of the most interesting towns in the area is Aubeterre sur Dronne. Only a small town, a walk around won’t take very long, but each corner heralds another view. A cavernous church hewn out of rock is just one of the delights. We have visited there before, so this time we wandered the streets looking for lunch and other sights.

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This is a general view over the town, while this next one shows just a little of the beautiful stone carving on the church.

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And I just love the higgeldy piggeldy arrangement of these buildings.

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We always return to this view, though.

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Aren’t the colours lovely.

Let’s face it. Half the fun of a holiday is the food! And when it is locally grown, or picked straight from the tree it tastes even better.

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What better way to start the day than with fresh figs and strawberries?

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And freshly cooked bread with local ham, melon and grapes for lunch! Yum!

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And who could resist figs with local almonds?

blog IMG_3903We indulged in the odd coffee too, but at one cafe I was more interested in the shadow play of the glasses!

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So much to see around the old farmhouses too. Always worth a second look.