Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Putting on The Ritz!

Hello there, this is a very busy time for everyone. To be honest December is a bit of a nightmare for this family with all four of us having Birthdays in the same month, even though there aren't the children's parties to arrange anymore it seems harder.  It's difficult to get to see the two children (not really children any longer 33 and 29 this year) on their birthdays as they are out with friends and so we grab any opportunity we can and either see them before or after their day.  This year on Dave's birthday the four of us went for Afternoon Tea at the Ritz, nice it was too, very festive with the lavish decorations and the Carolers! With time to kill before our reservation at the Ritz we took a look in Fortnum and Mason, Rachel and James couldn't believe that I'd never been in there before. A few purchases were made so Christmas morning we'll be drinking posh (or expensive)  tea and coffee with our breakfast!

Fortnum and Mason

Cake and Sandwiches

Today I went along with the Material Girls to NT Rainham Hall for an update meeting with the Team at the Hall, take a look at the MG Blog for updates.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Since my last post......

I've baked......

Visited Yarndale and spent far to much.......

Started a crochet blanket, working slow but sure.....

Finished a City and Guild project and.....

started the next.....

The guy in the Wet Fish shop was a bit mystified when I asked if I could photograph his fish as inspiration for my project. Just as well I'm a good customer!

Watch this space........ or should that be watch this plaice?

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Up Downs and an Up

I'll start with an up, the city and guilds classes have finished until October (that's not the up) but one of the last lessons was dyeing, something I enjoy. A while ago I dyed some silk scarves and sold a few at the last Material Girls exhibition, but  was left with some that I wasn't happy with,  a good opportunity to have a play with a new idea, using a slinky as a resist. This isn't my own idea it's something I'd seen done by Jenny and asked her about, I think it was a success and I've sold one of the scarves already!

And for the down, if you have a weak stomach look away now.........

It was very hot day far to hot to take Betsy out for a walk before the  evening cooled,  even then only a short walk around  the block, I'd taken her earlier in the morning for a run over the fields before the day heated up. Dave was home that Monday, so we took Betsy out together, I slipped on my flip flops (not my usual foot wear when walking) and off we went for a  leisurely stroll. We met a friend with his two Schnauzers and stopped for a chat. 'What a lovely evening' I said as we passed a house and heard the children playing in their garden, it was just about then I tripped and landed on the pavement, my glasses skidded across the rough ground,  not before the frame had cut into my face. To be honest I don't really know what happened, several people coming to help.  Betsy who usually goes nuts barking when any strangers approach sat there like an angel. I just wanted to stay laying on the floor but Dave insisted  'Let this young man take your other arm'  They both helped me up, which wasn't easy as I was clutching a hanky to my head as apparently I had a bad cut (at this time I didn't realise how bad, I was just doing as I was told). A short walk we were home and sorting out someone to have Betsy, Dave insisted we needed to go to A&E (really that bad?) as most people know a visit to A&E involves a long wait, so Betsy was at a friends for the night. We arrived at 9.20 pm and after an hour or so I was seen by a nurse who said ' that'll need gluing, don't leave before your seen it could get infected'.  So we sat and waited until 1am. with others who moaned, then the group of youngsters who came in on mass with a friend who'd sprain a foot playing a sport and found the whole thing amusing. If your in a better mood and not bleeding and starting to feel the pain of it all, it's a place to people watch. The doctor I saw gave me good and bad news 'Good' not deep 'Bad' as it was along the line of my eyebrow I needed to see someone from the Maxillofacial department, it should be glued! 'Oh just glue it' I said, I just wanted it over. By this time I could really feel the pain in my left leg, and when I looked a bruise and swelling was developing nicely from my knee cap down towards my ankle....... I just wanted to get home to my bed and take some painkillers and cry! After some persuasion from Dave I agreed to return the next morning where a doctor cleaned the cut and put in five very neat stitches, here's the gory bit.

Anyway the stitches are out and its healed very well my sister in law tells me, she's the one that removed the stitches, handy having your own personal nurse. Unfortunately I can't say my leg is healing as well after two weeks the black eye has almost gone but the bruising on my leg is still there and my knee cap is painful to touch. Another week and I have an appointment with the GP, so if it's not better or improving by then I'll mention it. Tomorrow I have an appointment to with the optician, to pick up replacement glasses, at least I'll be able to see without looking through a haze of criss cross scratches. Mind you as a weird textile person the colours have been amazing, although  I wasn't keen on the textures!

OMG if this had happened two weeks earlier I would have been wearing a black eye to match my outfit at a wedding, and yes I was wearing navy blue. It was the fifth wedding in a year, that we've been guests at. Who says weddings aren't happening? And each wedding we've been to has been special and very lovely in their own way, some have been no expense spared and others have been more modest but as I said everyone has been beautiful with lovely people.
 That's it finished on an UP!

Friday, 11 July 2014


I can hardly believe we've been back from our holiday in the USA for almost three weeks. I thought I'd share a few photographs with you, hope your not bored by them.

This holiday took some planning because we were using air miles, so getting the dates took a bit of juggling. It has taken us quite a while to collect enough air mile to fly both ways in upperclass, I must say it was an experience actually laying down and sleeping on a flight, (how the other half live is all I can say!) it then took a time to book the car and hotels independently.

We flew into Boston and spent three nights, we have been to Boston before so this was a chance to repeat some things and a chance to do some things we'd not done before. Always on the list is a visit to the Prudential Centre the views are spectacular.  This time we went on the Boston Tea Party experience, that was good fun, booing and hissing the British and throwing tea over the side of the ship, when we were there before the ship had caught fire so was off limits!

View from the viewing tower Prudential Center

Leaving Boston we drove to Sandwich on Cape Cod, this was a repeat too, and so was the Whale watching but it was just as good as I remembered. Heres just a few of the hundreds of photos we took of the Humpback Whales (I could spend my life watching these amazing creatures)

On the way back to shore we sighted a couple of Basking Sharks they were huge!

Basking Shark

After three days we had a long drive to Syracuse, New York. We made an overnight stop here before continuing onto Niagara Falls and into Canada. Our hotel was next to the falls and the view from our room was amazing, every time you looked out of the window the spray from the falls creates an ever-changing scene.

View from Hotel
 We took a guided coach tour, this included walking down to the bottom of the falls and a trip on the Maid of the Mist, on both of these we both got drenched but it was worth it. All of these were firsts and I would do it again.

Going into the wet areas the guide recommended that we put our cameras, iPhones etc into plastic bags and make a small hole for the lens to stop them getting wet. I must have pressed something because for the rest of the day all my images were black and white, but to be honest I got some really good shots which I'm going to have blown up and framed, not all of these images are mine some are Dave's.

This is the route down to the bottom of the falls

Maid of the Mist

 Then on to Gettysburg, another first, we did all the tourist things and a guided tour of the Battle Fields, we stayed in a B and B called the Brickhouse it was there during the Civil War and there were bullet holes in the back wall. The only problem with Gettysburg is that during the tourist season it gets invaded by Ghost Hunters, they do night walks and all the usual things (not for us), other than that it was a lovely place to visit.  The B and B was lovely and the breakfast was so filling, I've never had dessert at breakfast, we only had it on the first day, Shoofly Pie an Amish dish, well you have to try these things.

Brick House
From there it was onto New York, going there was not a first, but driving through Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Flatbush as you can tell we got slightly lost. Once we dropped the car off at the airport and got a cab into the city it was time to relax. We stayed across the road from Central Park, it was lovely to walk in the Park on a hot day. Then after three days it was a cab back to the airport and a flight home, just in time as the temperatures were rising. Of course we did a lot more than I've included here trips to museums and galleries and of course I managed to slip in a couple of visits to quilt shops and even a Quilt Exhibition in Boston. As always though, It's nice to be back!

Flat Iron Building

Central Park

I have so many photos that I could put on here but I must resist........

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Wall Hanging

Last weekend I popped the Mandala in the post box and its been put on the Pinterest page you should be able to view it here. I'm really looking forward to seeing it when I visit Yarndale in September. It will be interesting to see how they are all displayed together.
I also handed my wall hanging and sketchbook in yesterday, a big relief when a project is completed. So here is the finished hanging and one of the paintings that inspired it. For some reason the yellow is much brighter in the photo than it actually is, I hope you get the idea and it reminds you of the Mediterranean!

Now it's onto the next one, a vessel my ideas have been approved, now it's time to start making samples. I'm planning on dipping into felting, hope I don't regret it!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Wedding Wedding Mandala!

In the last month I've been to two weddings in different parts of the country and on consecutive weekends in West Sussex and Staffordshire. One a family wedding and the other my daughter Rachel's friend Claire, they met at Uni and have been best friends ever since, at one time they were house mates.  Claire asked Rachel to be her bridesmaid, this was Rachel's first time and as Claire's Mum lives in Liverpool Rachel was involved in all the wedding planning. Rachel's hair was amazing I couldn't resist sharing it with you!

We were delighted to be invited to the wedding, and had a great time. I t was a good opportunity to grab a few days away while we were staying near Petworth we visited Petworth House. I particular enjoyed visiting the house  although its a very grand property it's a house thats of the same period as Rainham Hall which is where 'The Material Girls' next exhibition is. It's a lovely part of the country and we found an amazing B and B, we'll be returning  at some point, soon I hope.

Petworth House

Petworth House

Gold work at Petworth House

As well as partying a lot of work has been going on, I've completed another City and Guilds Project. A wall hanging inspired on a series of paintings by Picasso, I'll show more when I've actually handed the work in.

My nephew and his girlfriend are expecting their first baby in the next couple of weeks so I've finished a quilt for the baby, I have also been busy knitting for the baby too.

In September I'm going to Yarndale, last week Lucy asked for Mandala Wheels how could I resist, I couldn't!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Rainham Hall

If you live locally maybe you could be interested!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Material Girls

Last week Chris and I went to talk to the 'People' at the National Trust to keep ourselves updated on the progress of the restoration work going on at Rainham Hall, this is the venue of the groups next major exhibition. There are lots of research trips being organised and meetings with historians and experts in all sorts of related fields. What with that and other things going on I have even managed to update The Material Girls website click here and have a look, theres still a bit to add so keep checking in.

Last week at class we started making a box, my least favourite thing but I have finished it, no photos until I show it to my tutor. Today the groups were visiting Art Van Go and I was really looking forward to it, I'd arranged for Betsy to be looked after for the day, so no need to rush back. Money to spend and a list of wants, then yesterday afternoon I felt my throat tickling, I had an early night and dosed myself up, but no at 4am I woke up with a sore throat running nose and a thumping headache....... I'm p'd off! I think that's an understatement to be honest. Really needed something to take my mind off things today, but never mind we cope don't we? Tomorrows another day and maybe I'll feel like getting on with some textile things and if I feel better by Thursday I can go to Excel and meet up with friends for a coffee and have a bit of retail therapy.

As I don't like a post without a photo, here's one from last week Betsy with all her walking friends, she's sitting waiting for her turn to get a treat. Mary is the dog whisperer as soon as she walks on the field all the dog flock to her as they know she'll have something special for everyone of them! This is only half the group, the others had taken their reward off to eat away from the gang.

Betsy sitting on the left her sticking up ears give her away!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Hearts of the Kitchen

I couldn't make up my mind what to do with the heart stones I found on holiday last year in Ireland, it seemed such a pity to keep them in a draw or in the jar where I pop shells that I collected over the years from beaches across the world. Then on a trip to IKEA I saw black frames and I just knew........

After a lot of arranging and re-arranging I decided on these three and they now hang in a row on a wall in the kitchen instead of being forgotten in a draw, they are looked at every day and I remember the day they were collected on the beach of heart shape stones!
So what do you do with the bits and bobs you collect on holiday?

Friday, 21 February 2014

Textiles in Focus

Yesterday I drove up to Cottenham with a car loaded up with half The Material Girls work for the 'Tales and Textiles' Exhibition. Chris, Julie and myself set up the exhibition with the help of Chris and Julie's husbands. It went up really well, it is all Chris's work, she knows how she wants it staged and we just have to carry it out, that works well for us. When we do  an exhibition we do have a rough idea of how it's going to look before we get to the venue, all the work is taken to Chris's and so we know what work is going to be exhibited and the size etc.

I can show you what I've been spending a lot of my time working on…. my work is focused on Japan. I dyed the fabric for the quilt at a Janice Gunner summer school and I've used Sashiko threads for the hand stitching and I also used machine quilting to give the quilt texture.

I made an altered book, I've never been a big fan of altered books but sometimes it's good to break out of your comfort zone and try something different. To keep in the Japanese style I had a go at writing Haiku, you won't find much but I gave it a try and the Haiku is written on the Origami butterflies.

On Sunday I'll be back at the exhibition to steward and at the end of the show to take it down and bring it home with other Material Girls. Then it'll be all over until the next exhibition, but lots of things coming up, I'm working on my City and Guilds and always playing catch up. And the Material Girls will be starting research for the next exhibition so it'll be all go again soon.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Today I was at City and Guilds….

……class  chatting about all sorts of things as you do….. amongst some things we were talking about Janice's recent trip to Japan with a group of students and the blog she has started (you can read it here), Jillian said to me  'I look at your blog and you've not done anything since Barcelona!' Oh, dear how bad am I? Has life stopped, No I've just got out of the habit of blogging, I'm  making a commitment to blog at least once a month.

A few of the things that have happened since Barcelona, Christmas for one thing and followers of this blog will know that December is Birthday month in this family, so my whole family is now one year older……

I did get some lovely christmas and birthday presents, I won't bore you by telling you all of them but one thing that is getting very well used is a cookery book by Nigel Slater. I'm really enjoying trying a lot of the recipes, last night it was 'Liver and Bacon Ragu', I'm not really that keen on liver but it was delicious, so far theres not been a meal we've not enjoyed and nothing takes hours to cook, just the way I like it!  Another great gift was a huge umbrella that is fibre glass and is extra strong, now that is getting very well used when I take Betsy out for her walks, and it's not turned inside out yet, mind you I sometimes struggle to hold it in the gusting winds.

Dave and I decided last year not to buy each other Birthday presents and take a weekend break in January. So a couple of weekends ago I traveled up to London a met him when he finished work and we spent the weekend at a hotel near the Tower of London, and views of Tower Bridge (not from our room though)

View from our room

We were tourists in our own city, I arrived early and left my bag at the hotel, jumped on a bus and went to  the Paul Klee exhibition at the Tate Modern, lots of quilt inspiration. We'd booked tickets for Saturday to go to the Tower, a few enjoyable hours were spent looking at the crown jewels, and wandering through the towers and on the ramparts. We hadn't been there since the children were young.

 Luckily the weather was fine  for a short while, we jumped on a bus and went to Covent Garden  we used to go there a lot at the weekends but haven't been for ages. We had lunch at a Jamie Oliver restaurant and mooched (is that a word) around the stalls and shops, funnily enough we ended up by the 'London Graphic Centre'. No idea how that happened! Of course I didn't need much just a few bits, but I managed to leave the shop with a large carrier bag of must haves! Then to please Dave we went into 'Stanfords', their advertising says 'We have been an essential first port of call for adventure and armchair travellers alike for more than a century. Our roll-call of customers past and present includes such famous names as Amy Johnson, David Livingstone, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Florence Nightingale, Ranulph Fiennes, Bill Bryson, Michael Palin, and even Sherlock Holmes.'

I'm not sure our next holiday is going to be upto the adventures that these people had, but at least we'll have a good map with us, to be honest Dave always goes here to buy maps when were going on our trips to America, more about our next American holiday nearer the time. 

Back to our London weekend, just as we arrived back at the hotel the weather changed and it poured with rain, on Sunday we planned to take an Open Top Bus ride, instead as it was still training we jumped on a train and took the twenty minute train journey home and on Monday Dave walked past the hotel on his way to work but it was fun being a tourist in our own city! As for the Open Top bus that'll have to wait for the better weather, if it ever comes!

Last Friday I met with some friends in town again and went to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see Artist Textiles Picasso to Warhol exhibition, I would recommend this exhibition really interesting work.

Below three images from the exhibition.

Oh well enough for now I think. But before I go I've not been 
completely off the blogging Facebook world, I've been updating the Material Girls sites and started a Facebook page if you'd like to take a look here it is if you enjoy what you see perhaps you'll like the page!