Sunday, March 30, 2008

Still obsessing about bridges....

Sara in LA has very kindly commented to an earlier blog entry of mine and suggested this as a possible contender for the missing fourth bridge. If it meets the criteria, then it would in fact be number five! Any advance on five? Anyone who can confirm the Rainbow Bridge in China has shops across the full span on both sides? Thanks if you can.

The Definitive Answer to the Case of the Missing Bridge

Still puzzling over the bridge enigma, I decided to try asking the Bath Tourist Information Centre. I received a very prompt and helpful response from Kirsti who works there. She told me that the Pulteney Bridge and the Ponte Vecchio Bridges are the only two bridges that are originally designed to have shops on them: the Rialto Bridge was not originally designed to have shops on it.

She goes on to say, "However I have located the following site which does refer to the four Bridges you mentioned on your email, please see attached link:

Here it mentions that the fourth bridge is located in Erfurt Germany ;
Please refer to the following site for an picture;

I hope this is useful for you."

Well, indeed it is, it has certainly helped assuage my curiosity.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Missing Bridge Mystery: an Answer?

When I posted about the missing bridge mystery here, I so hoped someone would come up with some ideas. I've been thinking about this puzzle and discussing it with family and friends, and realised I had come up with one solution to the problem.

So, by the bridge there is a sign, which says that the Pulteney Bridge is one of only four bridges in the world that has shops along both sides of their full span. As I said before, I know that this is the case for both the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and the Rialto Bridge in Venice, both in Italy. So, where is the fourth bridge? Well, perhaps this is it? (Clue - it works better spoken than written.)

I came across another riddle during this research: What will they do if the Forth Bridge collapses? The answer can be found here, towards the end of the page. Or perhaps that, too, has already been done?

So, have I found the answer to the mystery or just the riddle? Is it an April Fool? Or is there indeed still another bridge to identify? I'd love to know.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Help Needed: The Case of the Missing Bridge

Dear Blogging Friends and Cyberpals,
Please can you help me with a problem of curiosity? If you are a regulsr reader, you will know that we visited Bath on Sunday. On Pulteney Bridge is a sign which announces that it is one of four bridges in the world with shops across the full span on both sides. This tickled my interest. I know that another two are the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, and the Rialto Bridge in Venice Italy. Googling comes up with numerous reiterations of the "one of four" statement but none mentions which is the fourth. I wondered if it might be the Kremerbruecke in Erfurt, Germany, but that seems to have been lined with houses rather than shops, I think. London Bridge across the Thames, in a previous incarnation, had houses and shops across it, but those and that bridge are long gone. So which is this mysterious fourth bridge? Wikipaedia on the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)says that shops on bridges was once common, so this suggests the fourth bridge either still exists or did when that notice was written. This site says the Pulteney Bridge is one of only two in Europe, which is patently mistaken. The evidence sort of suggests the fourth bridge is not in Europe. So where in the world is it? Please tell me if you know..... No prizes except the title of The Magic Armchair Traveller's Bridge Guru, and my gratitude!

Tadpole Update


For the tadpole fans out there, there is now no unhatched frog spawn in the pond. Either it's all hatched out, or these sunbathing sweeties have gobbled them all up. The pond was writhing with activity this afternoon. I could also see the first waterlily bud raising its head above the surface.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Alpaca Nursery


On Easter Monday we paid a visit to our lovely friends, June and Peter Briggs, who run an alpaca farm on the Somerset levels, across the Mendip Hills from our home. It was a special treat because there are three new additions to the flock: two were a week old and one had been born the day before.


Alpacas are, to me, absolutely delightful creatures, full of character and curiosity. The babies are so sweet. They are on their feet and eating grass very quickly after their birth. Because of the cold nights, these babes and their mothers are brought into a barn overnight but go outside to pasture during the daytime. I was fascinated that the brown baby belonged to the white mother,and the white babe to the brown mum. I didn't think to ask what colour the fathers were.


June and Peter have the fleeces spun into delicious knitting yarn, and June also makes collectors' teddy bears from the alpaca fleece. I so enjoy visiting the alpaca farm: it was lovely to catch up with June and Peter, Peter's sister Susan (visiting from London) and the flock.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bathed in Sunshine and Showers

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, was the occasion of a family outing to Bath. I'm still feeling really rough as the result of yet another flu-like virus, but I've been getting a little stir-crazy as the result of being so housebound, so I was determined to go. The weather looked threatening as we left the house, but mellowed into a fairly sunny, if bitterly cold, day.

We don't live so far from Bath as the crow flies, but it always seems to take forever to get there, due to the meanderings of the roads. It is, however, a pretty route, past the Blagdon and Chew Valley Lakes along the side of the Mendip Hills, through pretty little villages with duck ponds and beautiful parish churches, then cutting down to the lakeside near Chew Magna, where many waterfowl can be seen, before twisting uphill again through farmland and woodland. At this time of year, you can enjoy the structure of things, before leaf break. Down the road from us there is an orchard whose apple trees are so full of mistletoe that they appear to be already in leaf. Further on, a field of llamas is dissonant with the rural Englishness of it all. Fields of red earth, punctuated by stitch-like straw stubble fail to camouflage the colours of the pheasant and his mate, hunting for food. Mounds of primroses bloom below the naked roadside hedgerows, newly pruned and laid. In other places, daffodils and narcissi have naturalised in clumps along the grassy banks. Hillside fields are divided by lines of bare hedging, again ressembling stitching,this time untidy wheatsheaf clusters or long-legged cross. Because there has been so much rain recently, large puddles lie across the entrances to fields, attracting the attention of passing ducks. My favourite roadside tree has lost a large ivy-clad branch in the recent storms.

Our first objective in Bath took us along the south bank of the River Avon, through the old industrial part of the city, alongside the railway line, before we cut inwards to find parking between the Holburne Museum and Pulteney Bridge - as I have a blue badge which allows concessions for parking due to my mobility problems (otherwise we would have used the Park and Ride). As it was Easter Sunday, the shops were mostly shut, removing their usual tempotation to browse. We crossed the bridge and the road and entered the Victoria Art Gallery, where the final week of The Blue and White Show was commencing. This exhibition features work by Candace Bahouth (two different links) , Kaffe Fassett (again two links) and Carole Waller (again x2), inspired by the beautiful blue and white china collection of Tom Hickman's family. This was also displayed, in a magnificent, vast Georgian-style dresser. There are many fascinating pieces of work in this exhibition, by all three artists. I had not seen Carole Waller's work before and was fascinated, partially for her interesting palette of moody blues with other colours, and her use of fabrics, with fascinating glazing potential as well as clothing with delicate touches of embellishment.

Candace Bahouth's work was primarily mosaic, although there were also framed assemblages of articles linked by colour but which intrigued by hinting at other connections. There were mirrors of china mosaic with shells, beautiful little shrines of ceramic and mirror shards, a wonderful mirror mosaic egg, shoes, a bench, a table, an obelisk and an urn on a plinth as well as a portrait panel. Candace Bahouth was present, in fact, and we exchanged a few words with her and another visitor about cigarette cards, which she had included in assemblages.

Kaffe Fassett's work encompassed the range of his published creativity: patchwork, knitting, painting, ceramic decoration, and needlepoint, and he had certainly not limited himself to the blue and white, although there was a lovely blue and white Lady in the Lake quilt, another Round the World Quilt used as a table cover underneath his painted china pieces (blue on cream). There was also a blue beanie hat, which I think was crocheted, covered quite closely by vintage, mainly white buttons of different designs.

The display of blue and white china was almost overwhelming in its quantity and, indeed, the whole exhibition was so full of pieces that it was quite hard to see individual items. However, it was a joyful display of the pleasures of the Blue and White, and how different artists can run with a theme and take it in many different directions.

I was very good, and only bought some postcards of the show: I could easily have succumbed to temptation provided by books, fabrics, scarves and other delights, but I didn't. It did reinforce my love of blue and white china.

We left the exhibition and felt rather hungry, so went round the corner to take a light lunch at Garfunkel's before gazing at the weir below the Pulteney Bridge on the way back to the car. We were amused to see a couple of ducks descending from the upper to the lower level by way of (what else?) duck boards placed over a series of steps beside the weir. The water was rushing over the edge of the weir and it was fascinating to just stand and stare, but the bitter wind soon got us moving again.

I liked the frieze of waves on this sandstone building just off the bridge.

So back at the car, we set off for our second destination, Prior Park (I'm being so generous with links today!), as my son has had the ambition to return there for an Easter Egg Hunt for years. The three children (no longer, in the case of one or two) did the whole circuit around the valley to do the egg trail, while we oldies pottered in the relatively flat upper level before retiring to the warmth of the car and the Sunday paper for company (once again, disabled parking saved the day). It was interesting to see how the restoration of the garden is progressing, and I'd love to return later in the year when hopefully I will feel fitter and more mobile so I can do the whole trail, which is gorgeous. There were swift showers of rain and sleet while we were there, interspersed by sunny spells.

Eventually our chilly children returned triumphant, quiz completed and easter egg won, and we could drive back through the gorgeous countryside for home. Last evening I was exhausted and so I am today, with terrible pains in my joints and muscles; but a small price to pay for the joy of such an enjoyable outing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Signs of Spring and Sun


The tadpoles have hatched! These are from the first lot of spawn - more appeared in the pond after the bitter cold spell we had at the end of February, which is still there, plumply globular with the little tadpoles slowly developing tails. But these babies are the ones that were under ice a couple of weeks ago. Nature surely is wonderful.

It is very hard to photograph tadpoles in our garden pond: if I used no flash, they got obscured by my reflection and, if I did, by the flash flare reflection. However, by aiming off centre, and cropping, I had some success.


The plumbago has started flowering under the walnut tree, a welcome splash of warm, purply blue.


The sun has been making half-hearted attempts to shine out from behind the clouds above the maple tree, which made a surprisingly dramatic sky for this photo and encouraged me to hang out washing on the line. The puddles have dried up, too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Good Door Link

Worth clicking on for some more door interest is Susan Lenz's blog. She's putting together an amazing door-based installation which I so wish I could see in reality. Seeing it virtually is pretty amazing - great creativity!

Not a door


A glorious piece of weathered wall in Marrakesh - like rusted metal, richly coloured and textured.
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Doors Part 4 - details


On our last day in Marrakesh we walked beyond the Post Office towards the Mellah, and passed this splendid door, above.

Even knockers, handles and bolts are interesting in Marrakesh. Those pictured below serve a second function in everyday life in the medina: one sees men twisting rayon floss and other threads to create great lengths of cord and braid, which are then used to embellish kaftans, djellebahs, and cloth bags. Wonderful low tech creativity, and the remnants remain to bear witness when the cords are cut off.




Doors Part 3


This gorgeous door above is in the Medina in Marrakesh, close to the Souk de Teinturiers, as is the one below. I think they may be entrances to mosques, but I'm not sure. The entrances are truly inspiring, anyway.



This is a doorway in a Berber house in the Ourika Valley in the Atlas Mountains, on the way to Setti Fatma. The colours of the paint on the door and the walls are quite stunning. The house stands by the river, shaded by trees and the water powers a small mill.


This glorious combination of terracotta walls and blue doors and shutters is at Setti Fatma.

Doors Part 2


I love this old door and wall by the Qubba Ba'adiyn and can imagine all sorts of dusty treasures hidden within - or not.


Above is an archway into the Qubba itself - a doorway if not a door.


I became fascinated by the Hand of Fatima, which is seen in many guises in Morocco. This particularly elegant version is a door knocker at the Stork House, close to the Musee de Marrakesh.


This last I have shown before, and I think it is a shutter rather than a door, but I think it is stunning so here it is:-
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Doors Part 1

One of the Blogs I subscribe to is Down Under Dale,
and Dale has done me the great favour of telling me about the blogs of Elizabeth, who has the great good fortune to live in Marrakesh and New York

Elizabeth told me about a project to post images of doors today, and I could not but join in, because doors fascinate me and frequently tempt me to photograph them, so much so that I'm making at least four different postings of doors today, from my collection.

These doors are English doors:-


This first photograph shows a garden door at Hestercombe in Somerset. I wish my garden was big enough to contain walls and doors, with the sense of secrets beyond...


This door belongs to my friend Hilary. She lives in a wonderful Arts and Crafts house by the architect Voysey, who even designed the door furniture - gorgeous.


The door above leads into a studio in Cheddar - a farm outbuilding which is now an inspirational space - the gardens are also pretty inspirational.

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This door is near Ironbridge, into a small pottery there.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I've been doing some sewing


This bag is a stripy shopper for the British Quilters' List March Challenge: for once, completed well ahead of deadline.


This is a stitched and beaded brooch which is going in the post today (belatedly: my February Brooch swap for CarolT of Unlimited Textiles.


This is a crazy patchwork quiltlet for Sandy of Unlimited Textiles, again for February's swap. Our theme for the month was Passion. I have a passion for rich colours and texture, a little glitz, beads, silky cloths, both hand and machine embroidery, crazy patchwork and romance, so there you go.
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Monday, March 03, 2008

Saturday, March 01, 2008

February's Take it Further Challenge

I have failed to complete this month's challenge, despite a lot of time spent thinking about the theme, "I've lived long enough to remember...." I've had a lot of fun reminiscing and made several false starts. I thought about the fact I wasn't old enough to be a hippie and always wanted a bell to wear round my neck.... and thought about making a doll version of me as a hippie, complete with bell. I thought about the mats that used to be under everything when I was a girl, on dressing tables and sideboards, and embroidered linen tray cloths, tablecloths and handkerchieves, whereas now we use a wipe-clean, pvc-coated tablecloth, paper tissues and antimacassars are alien to my home... I made long lists of things from my past and memories, and had an enjoyable conversation about this with my Mum, children and niece as we waited with hot chocolate to go on the London Eye last week. However, nothing really took off.

During this past week I've seen other people's responses to the challenge, and one spoke to me. I can't access the relevant one to credit the creator at present as Google seems to be having issues just now, but it was called "Inner Space", I think. The artist said she kept coming back to this image and it would not go away, despite all her attempts to do something more relevant. It had to be made. That spoke loudly to me about my difficulties.

The fact is that my health problems have caused a massive fracture in my journey through my life, and clearly I have not yet come to terms with all that it means. I remember being able to hold down a busy and stressful full time job, keep a house clean and tidy, share caring for my baby daughter with my lovely husband and have time and energy for other things, too. I lost a large portion of all that through my illness, was forced to retire from my career on health grounds and have struggled to cope with everything ever since.

The upside of this was that I turned to creative pursuits as a way of finding fulfilment despite my limitations and I had the opportunity to learn and develop new ways of expressing myself through art and textiles. However, I find myself often feeling blocked creatively, almost paralysed. Sometimes I will learn a new technique when this happens, which usually serves to permit a partial unblocking, but it is very frustrating that something within me is stopping my artistic development.

I think the crux of the matter is that I have not come to terms with the bereavement I've experienced of the life I had before ME/CFS. It is hard to put into words what I'm coming to understand, but I need to accept the changes and embrace them to allow myself to grow into my creativity.

Looking back has been painful because of what was hard-won but then lost. In so many ways, my life now is better and richer than before, despite the frustrations of chronic illness, and I have to let go of the losses and embrace those gains and move forward. To find a way of expressing this through art would be good, but it's not a task to be done quickly. But I think I've started.