Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Food for Thought

We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are.

Anais Nin (1903 - 1977)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Up Close in our Garden

Returning home from our lunch out, I was inspired to photograph some of the blossoms in our garden while the sun was shining. I'm glad I did as the last two days have been extremely wet and windy, so the plants have taken a battering from the elements.

The roses are lovely. I love the sensual texture and pure colours of their petals.

The marigolds are brilliantly, boldly yellow and ruffled in the extreme.

A lovely spike of lupin in our front garden pokes above its mound of parasol leaves.

Last summer's Sweet William overwintered successfully and has presented an exuberent cushion of pink blooms.

This kaffir lily is suffering from seasonal confusion disorder as it usually flowers in the autumn, but it looks lovely anyway.

This pretty white rose is peeping over the fence by the front door.

Phlomis Study


Last summer we visited The Better Food Company's Walled Garden in Wrington, where we had a delicious lunch before taking a stroll around the walled garden itself. While there, I noticed a new-to-me plant growing in one of the borders by the top wall near the old orangery, where the cafe is situated. It was buzzing with bees and, indeed, appeared to have a beeswax-honey scent to it.


These are the photos I took at the time, and I've since been pursuing the identity of this plant. I understand it to be a Phlomis, or Jerusalem Sage. Ben and I saw it blooming rampantly on a roundabout in Florence.

Harout and I went for a lunch a deux on Saturday, for we were temporarily childless, with Ben at Scout Camp and Anna at work. This time, there were phlomis flowers in some of the vases adorning the tables, so whilst awaiting the arrival of our yummy and healthy food, I took the opportunity to take a few close up photographs, shown in the collage below.


I hope that I will soon have a phlomis plant of my own in our garden, as I've been offered an offshoot by a friend of mine. I think the structure of the flowerheads is intriguing and would love to have the chance to observe and draw them at greater leisure.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I recently saw this piece of graffiti in Bristol, and thought I had photographed it, except there was no memory card in my camera. It took me a moment to figure out, but once I did, I thought it totally brilliant. Why can't we all do this? The world would be so much the better for it.

There are examples of it in Prague (on the John Lennon wall), on Bono, as a car bumper sticker, in lights and as a stencil. You can wear it as adornment
or a patch and you can have the T-shirt. You can discover the meaning of the symbols and find variations.

However, I think we should all just do it, especially as the last link suggests.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Doormat - Poetry in Stitches 2

My friend Gill pointed me in the direction of the National Needlework Archive website when I was looking for the book about the WI Textile Treasures exhibition she was recently involved in stewarding. While there, I noticed the call for entries for their second Poetry in Stitches competition, and I sent for a copy of the book and registration details. Despite a fairly short time until the deadline, I found the poem quoted below. It spoke to me loud and clear and I felt such sympathy with the sentiments that I decided to enter an interpretation of it in textiles.


I am a doormat,
I'm brown and homespun
But my welcome's worn off.
I'm tired of taking it all lying down,
I bristle when I'm beaten.
Deep in the fibres of my being
I dream of becoming a thick-piled rug,
Fluffy and frivolous
On which seductions take place.
I'm going to let my hair down
So just watch your step.

Daphne Schiller
(posted with the author's kind permission).

Making the piece was an interesting process. I knew that I wanted to create a sense of the hidden, sensuous dream/heart bursting from the worn, abused surface of the doormat. Gill very kindly lent me her Embellisher to work the doormat, which wore so successfully that it needed reinforcement. Then I used rugmaking techniques to work the piled portion. Fabric paints and stitching were used to increase the distressed and discoloured effect of the doormat surface. At last, it was complete and posted off to Southampton. Judging takes place next month and then the entries go on tour in exhibition, venues to be announced.

Daphne Schiller has graciously allowed me to Blog her wonderful poem, which is not published at present. Other examples of her work can be found, she tells me, at the
Poetry Library site, and poetry magazines such as South and Equinox. This one may appear in a Poetry in the Waiting Room leaflet and/or exhibition in conjunction with my interpretation of it. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Some Firsts

Some seasonal firsts, mostly from the garden with a brief diversion into the kitchen.


First rose of the summer, blooming outside the living room window. I wish you could smell it: deliciously fragrant, slightly citrus.


I'm very fond of this rose. It's called Sarah and I bought it because my elder daughter shares the name, just before we moved into this house seventeen years ago, so it was one of the first plants we added to this garden.


Another view of this gorgeous flower. The namesake girl will be 21 in a fortnight!


It's the first year this wisteria has bloomed. It was planted to grow over a wooden arch and has made a diversion into the apple tree.


This first is a gigantic Calzone, made yesterday by my birthday boys who were inspired to try to make their own after tasting them in Florence.


Above is Alfie on his first visit to our home, and his first experience of a trampoline. He coped remarkably well and behaved himself superbly during his evening with us. He belongs to Joe, Sarah's boyfriend, who visited with him.


Lastly, the first hot air balloon of the season - as good as seeing swallows or hearing cuckoos for heralding summer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday afternoon under a Cherry Tree

Instead of spending a rare sunny Sunday afternoon in the garden, we spent it in the grounds of our children's school in the next village, for an open air service run by the local churches. Our younger daughter sings with the school gospel choir, Youthful Spirit, and they were performing/participating. We arrived in very good time as she was needed for a soundcheck, so I was able to park my folding chair in the shade of a cherry tree and occupy myself with a sketch book for a while.


The gorgeousness of the blossom of the tree was distracting and I couldn't resist getting out my camera to try to capture its ephemeral glory.


The afternoon included a picnic break and optional craft activities, for those so inclined. Then it was time for the service proper.


It felt very special to be in this glorious situation, in this glorious weather (despite the odd rumble of thunder). The music was superb, of course, and it was a memorable and joyful act of worship.


A picture of the choir and backing band of musicians. There is so much talent shared among these young people.


Then back home for a mug of tea, to continue the theme. I've had a virus hanging around for a week which chose to attack my throat and larynx with a vengeance on this day, so I had to give a miss to joining in the singing.


Now I'm on doctor's orders to rest myself and my voice to facilitate recovery. Oh, happy days...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Clevedon - May Day Bank Holiday

Our Bank Holiday Monday was yet another grey day, but we decided to make a trip to the seaside nonetheless, to the local gentility of Clevedon. It was busy but the cafes and pubs seemed to be doing better business than the beach or pier.

The greyness of the light created some interesting effects on the wet sand and rock revealed by low tide and encouraged some more abstract compositions.

These sleeping rocks must have seen brutal geological forces to lay their strata at this angle, like a miniature alpine range.

Reflections on wet sand - of the pier ironwork, made mysterious in their isolation.

Rock, sand and seaweed - stormy weather has thrown plenty of the latter onto shore.

The pier is a Victorian treasure which has been subject to extensive recent restoration. It served an important function in the past, allowing steam ships which plied the Severn Estuary to board pleasure-cruising passengers despite the shallow-shelving of the sea bottom.

These regimented municipal gardens and ornate drinking fountain are very much in keeping with the Victorian style of the resort. What a lovely place to catch the sun, alternating between the newspaper and the ever-changing view across to Wales.

We decided to take a turn on the pier. No fishermen today, the tide was low. The restoration has been partly funded by subscription and donors can sponsor planks of wood or pay for plaques to be placed on the bench backs. Some commemorate proposals, births, marriages, or, like this one, bereavements.

The watery sands look deserted and folorn.


As we made our way along the pier, the sun tried to break through the clouds.


The weathered planks underfoot displayed beautiful grain patterns.


The sun tried valiantly but could not win against the clouds.


Look down again, look up, look all around: so much to see.


This lovely floral ironwork is around the Pagoda at the end of the pier, now open to serve refreshments. I enjoyed my Hot Chocolate very much.


Returning towards shore, I was fascinated by the muddy colour of the sea and the patterns the shallow waves made as they ran out onto the sand and stones.





Eastwards a yellow-flowering plant lit up the dull, dark rocks.

Almost at the shore end of the pier, this is the view westwards. The slight distant mistiness had cleared somewhat to give better visibility.


Back on dry land, looking back at the pier.

Someone had been having fun:-


I liked this ephemeral sculpture of found objects I spotted on this big boulder, which had also been the site of a bonfire recently.

On the way to school


When I drive to my children's school, I pass this beautiful bank of wildflowers, and every year I think to myself that I must stop and photograph the bluebells. Yesterday was one of those occasions, so on the way back I found a safe spot to park off the narrow, bendy lane and took this picture.


Over the fence from where I'd parked was this enticing view - I'm a sucker for sunlight dappled through foliage. I'd never noticed this little stream before.
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