Monday 22 December 2014

A Christmas Card..............

.......... for all my friends on Blogger and Facebook.   I couldn't run to a partridge in a pear tree so you'll have to make do with this pigeon in our crab apple tree instead.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Creative and Healthy New Year.   For anyone who wont be having a merry Christmas I hope that 2015 will be kinder to you.

Sunday 14 December 2014

More birds.

The wren page is finished and more or less as you last saw it.

Robin followed on quite quickly.

Great tit is waiting to be tidied up a bit and have his name added.

Likewise, House Sparrow.  I carefully arranged my collage pieces to get the best effect and took a photo so I would know where they looked best and what to attach first.   It looked much better than this - I wonder what happened!

Last year we had a squirrel in our loft, so stopped putting out peanuts for the birds in the hope of discouraging them.   We now put out porridge oats instead, and look who came for breakfast the other morning.   I don't mind really, as long as they don't come any nearer the house.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Now my true character emerges!!

A sharing block?   I think not!  My lovely daughter-in-law gave me this today saying 'I saw this and thought of you'.  She knows I have a childish taste for Smarties.

The day out in Glastonbury yesterday for the Frost Fayre was a great success.  I went with our youngest daughter and her husband (it wouldn't have been my husband's cup of tea at all) and we arrived at about mid-day and tried to be fairly systematic in our effort not to miss anything.  All the shops were open but the town centre roads were closed to traffic.   There were stalls selling crafts and goods of all sorts lining the High Street and the one than lies at right-angles to it passing the Town Hall and Abbey entrance.   The world and his wife, grandparents, children and dogs were all there  some of whom were quite colourfully dressed.   There were street entertainers and food vendors but in spite of the throng there was a lovely relaxed atmosphere of serenity over it all.

We spent about an hour on our preliminary foray and then went to our favourite pub for lunch.  All three of us chose the fish platter which was delicious.   My daughter and I had tried it on an earlier visit and thought it was even better this time.

Off for more exploring - this group was good entertainment.  They asked the crowd to cheer or boo to express their reactions to Black Friday and I didn't hear any cheers, but a very clear boo.

My photos don't give the right impression of the number of people there.  I think I missed the best photo opportunities in my efforts not to miss anything, and trying not to get too many shots of the back of people blocking my camera lens, or trip over anyone.

We couldn't pass up the chance of a quick look at the Abbey ruins, especially as the entrance fee had been very generously waived for the day.  This little ancient stone archway is on the approach to the visitors' entrance and one of my favourite features.

I love this view too.   There must have been hundreds of people walking around but the grounds are so big there was still plenty of open space.   A choir, accompanied by a pianist, was singing Christmas carols and songs in one area, though the large audience standing around to listen made it impossible to see whether it consisted solely of school children or adult women, or a mixture of both.  They made a very pleasant sound, whoever they were.

Things began to hot up during the afternoon and the crowds became even bigger.  The Christmas lights became more noticeable as the daylight faded and everywhere looked even more festive.

Our parking space was just behind the Church and we had to walk through the churchyard to reach it, and found the town band playing carols and Christmas songs.  There was quite a party feel to it and many people in the crowd were having a quiet sing-along.

I was quite glad to get into the car for the drive home and my legs were still tired this morning.  It felt as if I had walked miles.  I wonder if I'll be up to it next year.

Friday 28 November 2014

The Birds!

At last I have got down to some creative work again.   I have wanted to make a book featuring birds for some time, but not had the courage to try to draw them.  Today was the day and I am exhausted after drawing just four!   I thought it would be nice to celebrate all the species which we have seen in the garden and have compiled a list.   So far I have 22 different species on it - it could be quite a lengthy project.  Sorry about the shadows but it was quite dreary today and I had to put the light on.

The idea is to incorporate each little drawing into a collaged page.   The first one may look like this, unless I find some better bits and pieces to incorporate.  I intend to get rid of most of that rather stark white by using a sponge and some Distress Ink.  I will also add stitching here and there, and I quite like that strip of lace down the left hand side.  Collage is such an easy technique but I find it so hard to get it to look just right.   It will keep me occupied for hours.

Tomorrow I am off to the Glastonbury Frost Fayre with our youngest daughter and her husband.  I will take the camera and hope to have some interesting pics for my next post.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

The Last Rose of Summer.

This lovely rose flowers in the summer then has another little burst quite late in the year.   It really brightens up the front garden on a grey November day.

I had begun to think we were going to have a green autumn and that the cherry tree would never start to take on colour, but at last it is on the move.   The field maples which turn a lovely golden yellow have long done their stuff and dropped their leaves.

So much for my sophisticated planting plan when I planted up my tubs outside the front door.  This white cyclamen has a couple of rogue magenta flowers which were not planned for, but still look lovely, nonetheless.

There is not much doing on the creative front - too many ideas buzzing round and nothing coming of them.  I shall have to resort to housework if something doesn't turn up soon.  Desperate measures indeed!

Sunday 2 November 2014

A rather soggy morning.

One of our regulars dropped in for breakfast in the rain.  He doesn't seem to mind that the mealworms are getting a bit soggy.

I can't believe it is so long since I last put a post on here but I haven't been completely idle.  About three weeks ago I wanted some knitting to do so made enquiries in our local wool shop about this year's charity project.   I learned that we could knit anything we liked, to go into a sale in aid of a local hospice, and everything had to be handed in by tomorrow.   So I have had sparks flying off my knitting needles and have been steadily working my way through a huge bag of assorted balls of wool which I bought in a local charity shop.   The quantities and colours varied as you can imagine so I thought that quickly made useful items might be best in the circumstances as time was of the essence.
So it was hats and ............
two pairs of mitts, wrist warmers and a couple of baby jackets and hat.

The final hat is still on the needles and I wondered if I would have enough wool to finish it.  All is well - since I took this photo I have finished the hat with a little to spare.    I found a pattern for a very good looking teddy bear but he would have needed special yarn and the making up and finishing takes so long, so I opted for the more mundane hat and mitts, etc.   Quantity rather than quality perhaps.

There is still quite a lot of wool left but I am out of time, so the charity shop can have it back and sell it to someone else.

It is still quite mild here today but not like Friday which was ridiculously - and worryingly - warm for this time of year.  I wonder what winter has in store for us this year.

Friday 3 October 2014

Taming our jungle.

We have our little friend Poppy with us this weekend, and while we were in the garden today I noticed this marigold which has deigned to put in an appearance for the first time this year!   People tell me they will grow anywhere - you can't get rid of them.   Yesterday I saw an entire row of them growing along the foot of a wall in very poor soil, but will they grow for me?  No.  I had to cheat and buy a couple of plants in pots to get this measly specimen.   I don't know what happened to it's friend which was a lovely rich orange colour.  Maybe I am too kind to them and they prefer harsh treatment and poor soil conditions.

I have been cutting things back quite ruthlessly and am determined to 'put the garden to bed' properly this year.   My husband has taken four huge bags full of dead bits and foliage, two to the tip and two for shredding.   I am now waiting for a bit of rain to soften the soil so I can break it up a bit and do some serious weeding and plant some spring bulbs, but there are still two corners to tackle.

I must buy one or two more Asters, as we have to call them now - they will always be Michaelmas Daisies to me.  The bees seem to love this one and it shows no sign of mildew in spite of the very dry conditions.  I have watered it now and then but even so the soil is still very dry.  I can't tell you which one it is as the labels always get lost even though I push them into the soil right by the plant.

Our Anniversary rose is looking lovely - a present from two of our grandsons.  It was this that prompted my start on jungle clearance as I had to make a space for it and one thing led to another.  It has lots of lovely buds to open and looks as if it could flower until Christmas.  

One very autumnal looking plant is the miniature crab apple tree, absolutely loaded with its tiny fruit.
They look so pretty but best of all is it's blossom in springtime.  I planted it four years ago and it is still only about 7ft tall.  I might cut 18inches off the top this winter to keep a nice compact shape.

Weather permitting I shall do some more clearing tomorrow and my other little friend - the robin - might come and sing to me as I work.   He is so tame and comes almost within arm's reach.  At the end of our garden, and in our neighbour's garden, is a horrid conifer hedge which they are planning to have trimmed by about 6 feet - Hooray!!   Ideally they would get rid of it and replace it with a nice tall fence, but that would be very expensive.   However, the hedge is a tenement for sparrows and blackbirds.   The garden has been full of them this year and I see them popping in and out all day long.  Much as I dislike the conifers, they provide nesting sites and cover for several different bird species and cats can't get at them.  It would be a shame to lose that.

Sunday 28 September 2014

It was a good party.

One poor harassed daughter trying to make her cake icing behave itself on a warm night in a warm room!  She worked her magic and it looked wonderful as you can see.
She made each flower and leaf individually and you might just catch a glimpse of a ribbon round the edge too.
Our daughter-in-law made the cake and daughter no.3 iced and decorated it.

We had loads of cards including one from the lady above, which was a great surprise.  I had no idea that cards other than those for 100th birthdays were sent out.   I answered the doorbell to sign for the recorded delivery packet and had just opened it and said 'well it won't be from the Queen as we aren't old enough'! The family had organised it some weeks in advance - there is quite a strict procedure to follow.

My photos of the gathering were not entirely successful and several have not come out at all.  I'm no good at taking shots in artificial light but this gives some idea and you can see that through the open door - far right - there are several people taking advantage of the cooler air outside in the courtyard.  That looks like my husband out there - one son-in-law in the left foreground,  son and two grandsons with one girlfriend in the middle distance and two more sons-in-law and two daughters at the far end.   Everyone else is outside.    The age range of those attending was between 5 and 86 and the youngest guests all behaved impeccably.  It helped that the evening was so mild and they could run around outside to let off steam.

Someone presented us with this balloon and a very long banner plus loads of those little metallic confetti number 60s which were sprinkled across each table but soon found their way onto the floor.  I'm sure the couple who run the restaurant will be sweeping them up for weeks to come.  The buffet was excellent - they did us proud.

Background music was provided by our youngest daughter's husband who made a compilation disc of music from the 30s, 40s and 50s.

A good time was had by all and we are both shattered today.   The next big occasion will be our grandson's wedding next year but we won't have to organise that, thank goodness.

Thursday 25 September 2014

We made it!

Today is our 60th wedding anniversary.   Needless to say you would not recognise us from the above photograph!   I can't quite believe that 60 years have passed even though our son will be 57 next month, three of our daughters are now in their 50s and our 'baby' will be 40 next year.   It is all the more confusing because mentally I still feel about 23 years old - that is on the days when I am not 12!

We are having a large family gathering on Saturday evening with all our offspring, and their offspring, and in some cases their offspring too.   We have much for which we are responsible!  And much for which we are most grateful.    It should be a good evening all round.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Finishing things off.

I have been finishing the book I started on the weekend course with Frances Pickering - above is the front cover decorated with rubber stamped images machine stitched alongside the letters, cut from offcuts of the printed fabrics which make up some of the ages, and spelling out the name of the poet whose words inspired my drawings. 

I have several rather nice rubber stamps of wild flowers which gave a fitting design for the lining of the cover.

These are the pages which needed more work - I think I have improved on them.

This is the back cover lining featuring more wild flowers.  I made the covers from a printed fabric with a pattern of roof tiles.  I used the reverse of the fabric and knocked the design back further by overlaying it with muslin, and bound the edges with the reversed fabric.

My other finished book is the one made from assorted fabrics which had been bundled up and left in the garden for weeks.  They have taken on interesting stains which give them a lovely antique look - not easy to see in these photos.  I call it my scruffy book.
I toyed with the idea of making a separate cover then decided that the largest page would be ideal for the purpose.  As all the fabrics were just bits and pieces from my ragbag (I didn't want to risk anything special)  my pages are all shapes and sizes as you can see.
It gives quite a nice effect and I deliberately arranged them in a very random fashion to make the most of this.

I haven't bothered to photograph all the pages separately as you have already seen them in an earlier post.
This is the back cover.

So what shall I do next?   I have several ideas - it is simply a question of which one is the most persistent and keeps pushing itself to the fore.

Monday 8 September 2014

A wonderful weekend.

This is Hawkwood College near Stroud in Gloucestershire where I have been enjoying a weekend workshop tutored by Frances Pickering and enjoying meeting up with several of the students I met last year, and yes, I did sign up for next year.
It is in a beautiful setting and a haven for wildlife as the gardens are not manicured but allowed to naturalize.  There were bees and butterflies everywhere and birdsong all day and owls hooting at night.
There was a huge clump of these magnificent globe artichokes growing just outside the studio windows.
And St.Francis of Assisi stands in the overgrown rockery.

I love this giant mobile hanging from one of the enormous trees.  I think those stones might be old roof slates - they are quite big

Our theme for this workshop was 'Black and White and Read all over'.  We were asked to include text in our designs and work mostly in black and white plus shades of grey, and one other colour was permitted.   I chose yellow but kept forgetting to include it.
All of my text has been taken from lines of poetry by John Clare.   To get us started we did mono printing or transfer printing on white fabric.  I decided to stick with mono-printing and found that my abstract marks turned out to be very useful and easy to adapt to landscapes and woods.   I printed with a feather on this page so thought a quotation featuring birds was in order for this one.

Most of these pages need more work done on them but I am not quite sure what.  I shall put them away for a day or two, then take another look at them.

I was very brave and did all my drawing directly onto the fabric pages with a black Pitt pen.  The one above is from 'Open Winter':  "In sheltered spots - primroses, when they get behind the wood's old roots where ivy shields their crimpled curdled leaves, will shine and hide".

This one is "Old elm that murmured in our chimney top - the sweetest anthem autumn ever made".  I like that swirly pattern of my background print and thought it could represent the tempest that felled the elm tree.  It was so hard trying to make it look like a fallen tree and I haven't quite got it right.

This one also needs more work and I think I will make the moon a bit larger.  It's a bit lost behind those trees and I need a few more branches here and there to break up all the vertical lines.

I think we all felt exhausted by the end of Sunday but had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and worked ourselves to a frazzle.   The  weather was lovely, the food was delicious and plentiful, the bed was so comfortable and the company was delightful.    If that wasn't enough, among the other students was none other than Jan Messent who has been a textile heroine of mine for many years.  I love her work and have several of her books.   I took the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Embroidery one with me so that she could sign it, which she did.   I even sat next to her one lunch time - she is a very serene person but has a lovely sense of humour.  It took great control not to be like a schoolgirl hyperventilating with excitement!

So it's back down to earth today, with chores and gardening crying out to be done before I start work on my pages again.