Thursday, November 05, 2009

Last week we spent a few days with my Mum, and enjoyed visiting her new local supermarket. It is not one of the national chains, but a small London-based group of shops which specialise in Cypriot products.




The visit gave me the opportunity to eat some fresh figs, and these are the before pictures. The satisfied smiles that would have been in the after pictures you'll just have to imagine!
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stunning Skies

Driving from Enfield towards Edmonton in London today, we travelled under a dramatic cloudscape, with the sun concealed but rays radiating from the gaps. These photos are taken from a moving car so do not catch the true beauty or drama of what my eyes saw, but, oh my, it was beautiful.

Later, this was the upward scenery in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow, London, behind the William Morris Gallery: prettier, more delicate, another type of beauty.

The trees are really hanging onto their leaves this autumn!
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Egg Producer

I got off my sofa today to go and see my doctor, who pronounced my throat typical of one with a viral infection so to keep taking the analgesics, warm drinks and rest. Before returning home, I made a visit to the farm where I buy free-range eggs fresh from the hens, who like to see who their customers are. Now I'm back to the sofa, my Christmas knitting, and armchair travelling.
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

British Museum

Last Sunday my Mum and I made a visit to the fascinating British Museum.

We were there to see the fascinating Garden and Cosmos exhibition on its last day - art from the Court of Jodhpur, a collection of exquisitely detailed and coloured paintings which deserved much attention and close examination, so we made a slow progress.

Afterwards, we sat in the covered Courtyard - a first time for both of us - and enjoyed refreshment and people-watching while we decided what to do next.

Drinks consumed, we concluded that seeing anything else would be too much, so made our way back through a sunny London late afternoon, with part of our imaginations still in Indian palaces and gardens...
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Gorgeousness in the Garden

It may be autumn, but the wonderfully sunny and mild autumn we are having is allowing an extra period of colour and loveliness in the garden. The kaffir lilies are always welcome at this time of year, but how good they look bathed in sunlight, which reveals a pearlescent quality to their petals I'd not noticed before.
Astrantia is another favourite of mine, and here is one plant, blossoming its little heart out.
In contrast, the dahlia shouts out its fiery colours and flame-like petals, a patch of intense heat in the flower-bed.
The delphinium has spent the summer sheltered in deep shade under the walnut tree and, now that the leaves are falling, has decided that its time to shine has come. I think it might need to be moved next year: it is very leggy and the lovely delphinium blue is rather unseasonal right now.

Close by, this rose is having another flush of flowers, another flame red pool of warmth.


Love in a Mist is triumphing in the high jump over the rest of the "field" - of weeds.


Of course, it is harvest time. The roses are forming lovely red hips.

Apples on the tree - we harvested them today. Last winter they provided a winter feast for a family of mice in the garage, so we won't be storing them in there again.


The strawberry tree is flowering again as its fruit ripens, still yellow rather than strawberry red.


Another glorious swansong of pink, rosy lushness gladdens my heart.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Magic Sickbed Travelling


Flu is never fun, but flu in the summer seems particularly unjust, when you have to be tucked up in bed while others are out enjoying the weather, the countryside, the Festival of Quilts, Fibrefest.... Flu plus Tamiflu is especially not fun, but I won't go into further details: it beats flu and asthma and chest infections, just about, on balance.


My best-beloved hasn't been able to do the necessary tucking in, either. Just before we left our idyllic interlude in Austria, we heard (via Facebook!) that his mother had taken a fall on arrival in Istanbul for a week's package trip with her two daughters. She is 87 and had broken her hip. After a few days of agonising, he made a trip to see her. Happily, she was given a joint replacement and a new lease of life, and he was thrilled to see her and his sisters again.


Facebook was amazing, actually, putting us in touch with two people in Istanbul, friends of virtual friends, who were available and happy to give what help and support they could, and we are so grateful. Facing the unexpected in a country where you know no-one and do not speak the language is a terrifying ordeal, especially when it is more or less life-and-death serious. It helped so much to have contacts on the ground.


Anyway, back to my sickbed... Laptops with wireless internet certainly make coping with illness far easier, even to the extent of conversing with one's teens downstairs! I even got my diagnosis and medication prescription on line. Interludes between sleeping and misery have been spent catching up on such delights as "Jam and Jerusalem" and "Desperate Romantics" via BBC i-player, I've kept in touch via Google Reader, e-mail and news websites. I've even indulged in a very modest amount of shopping on-line in compensation for missing FoQ and Fibrefest.


I have always taken comfort in a good book or ten during spells in bed, and I've just finished a brilliant read: "The Telling" by Jo Baker. Is it a ghost story? It is well-written, engaging and thought-provoking, but not in a heavy way. I requested it (on line) from my local library, or I'd offer to lend it out, so I'll just have to recommend it. I'm now starting her previous book, "The Mermaid's Child", which promises to be similarly pleasurable.


My best beloved returned home on Saturday, relieved and happy that his Mum is doing so well and full of promises that we should return to visit Istanbul soon (and after all my Ottoman reading earlier in the year, that would be such a joy and fulfil an ambition). He returned to take a big bag of laundry to the launderette in town, some miles away, as of course the washing machine came out in sympathy with me, unblock the vacuum cleaner (ditto) and replenish the larder and fridge, much depleted by our mile-a-minute vine of a boy and going-to-Kent-Uni-in- September daughter, but not much by me. However, I did get a bottle of Lucozade and a bunch of red roses. What a star!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Restful Retreat in Austria


I'm lucky to be staying on a farm in Lower Austria, complete with artist's studio where my friend, Sara Lechner, makes her wonderful textile creations. The air is clean and fresh, there are fresh vegetables and fruit growing around us and the hens scratch around the house, then lay richly-yolked eggs. We are close to alpine countryside and lovely lakes. We are sleeping too much but it is good! I will blog more soon. It is good to be doing more real travelling instead of the magic armchair variety,and I am so grateful that this visit has been possible.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

A Retreat

I spent last week, with thirteen friends, at Urchfont Manor in Wiltshire. We are all keenly interested in textiles and art, and we all craved an opportunity to devote to developing our friendships, learning from each other, and having time, away from other duties and distractions, to devote to our own creative journeys.

Urchfont proved a wonderful opportunity to do all these things, in wonderfully inspiring surroundings. The gardens are glorious, the grounds spacious, and there is room to be together and to be in one's own space, when that is wanted.

The food we were served was superb, quite apart from the luxury of being fully catered for throughout the day, with no worries about what to prepare, or clearing up the dishes. A week free of domesticity - what delight!

All too soon, it was time to return to our everyday lives, but with our creativity well-refreshed, new techniques to add to our armouries and the knowledge that friendship is one of the greatest gifts of all. Thank you, my friends, for the good times shared.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Youthful Spirit at Glastonbury

video

Anna Plays Glastonbury

Is this the Pyramid Stage we see before us?

Possibly, but relocated to the glorious Glastonbury Abbey for a day of celebrations on the occasion of the 1100th Anniversary of the Diocese of Bath and Wells. Youthful Spirit, the gospel choir my daughter (fourth from the right) belongs to, was requested to perform by the Bishop, Peter Price, and this photo was taken during their third set.


A wonderful time was had by all, performers (Adam's Apple, an excellent jazz trio who played very different arrangements of hymn tunes, and Lyrica, who paid homage to the Andrew's Sisters as well as Youthful Spirit) and audience (of a number of bishops, church dignitaries, friends and families of the performers, and local people. The weather was kind to us all, too.

This all took place within sight of the famous tor (despite this prominent waymark, we managed to get lost by taking a wrong turning at Wells, and made the journey via Shepton Mallett, which meant we passed through the village of Pilton which had, the previous weekend, hosted the more highly-profiled Glastonbury Festival, and saw the barriers still snaking across the hills).

The abbey must have been amazing before it was ruined. As it is, it is majestic, and the atmosphere is usually beautifully peaceful and conducive to contemplation.

These ancient stones must have witnessed a great deal over the centuries. The music that echoes off them on 4th July 2009 was truly a joyful celebration.

The light was beautiful, too. I'm so glad it stayed dry for the occasion.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Anna and her backing singers

 


My daughter, Anna, was very brave and sang a solo at the Singer's Concert held by her singing teacher, Elizabeth Glen, at St. Andrew's Church in Congresbury. They performed "Midnight Train to Georgia" and it was amazing. So was the whole concert - so much varied talent from one small area. What a shame we only realised she had this wonderful voice so late in her school career. I hope she'll have the opportunity to continue singing and learning this discipline at university.

Anna is wearing the purple satin dress I'd spent the previous few days making.
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Sarah's Graduation

Last Friday we went to attend Sarah's graduation ceremony at Oxford Brookes University, accompanied by her brother and her boyfriend, Joe.

 


We drove through heavy rain but luckily the afternoon remained dry: it was very hot in the marquee and it would also have been a crush if everyone had had to crowd in out of the rain.

 


There were a lot of proud parents, grandparents and some very relieved and high-spirited begowned and bemortared students.

 


Also a lovely flower arrangement!

Anna sadly didn't come with us, as it was her Year 13 Ball in Bristol that evening.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

About New York: Plates

About New York: Plates

Plates

I'm breaking my blogging hibernation once more at the behest of Elizabeth. This time, her invitation was to share our tableware: "Somehow our choice of plates says things about us. We all have ones we love for sentimental reasons or maybe they are to do with aspirations - or whatever". Now I'm expecting some perfectly gorgeous and exquisite crockery will be displayed during this serial tour through the display cabinets, sideboards and cupboards of this world-wide virtual community, and am a little abashed by the ordinariness of mine - but I guess that "everyday" is the point. I recall reading an article about the wonderful potter, John Leach who said he enjoyed, in choosing which mug he was going to take his morning tea or coffee in, deciding which potter he was going to have a conversation with. I know that one wonderful feature of our holiday in Skye, some years ago, was having the use of plates and such made just down the road at the Edinbane Pottery, and indeed my husband bought a mug for himself there, which is one of his favourites to drink from.

So, here are my usual dinner plates, Blue Imperial by Denby. I like their clean lines, the pure white field on which to place the food we eat, and that they have a blue rim (I love blues, in case by now, dear reader, you had not guessed).



We have quite a collection of various items in this design but have never manged to have a full set...

The plates below are part of the Portmeirion Botanic Garden range. I have owned a number of the side plates and sort of collect the different designs, but over the years and the children a lot have been broken and I would like to replace them but haven't got round to it - they are not cheap. I like the pretty flower portraits they portray and used to dream of having a kitchen dresser in a country cottage to display them on, but that's not what life has brought me, nor is it what I want any more (dusting - yeuch!). I use these every day, for lunch, breakfast toast or cakes, and they still please me.



Last Satuday I had cause to visit the little seaside town of Clevedon, and called in at the Fizz Gallery, where I saw the most delightful plates and mugs. I have a liking for images of owls, so this plate:



and this mug



came home with me as a special treat, for me to enjoy using. They are decorated by an artist called Nadia Sparham, with whom I foresee some pleasant lunchtime "conversations".

The plate below is for walls rather than tables, and has sentimental value. It belonged to my Gran. She had a great sense of humour and I think of her whenever I see it.



Another plate/bowl, which I believe to be beautiful rather than useful, to paraphrase William Morris. I love the contrast between the metallic slip and the plainer stoneware, and the sinuous, graceful spiral which adorns it.



It is by Simon Rich, in a style he now seems to have moved away from. I'm so glad to have it to enjoy.

So there you have it - these are what you'll have food served upon if you visit my humble home, and an everyday part of my life. I don't know what they say about me...

Thanks, Elizabeth, for suggesting this theme!