Monday, 25 July 2016

Holt ! Who Goes There?

We did - we went to Holt a couple of weekends ago when we were up at Cornerstones. I wanted to look at the exhibition of paintings by Kieron Williamson. This lad is 14 - but possessed of a phenomenal talent. Here are a few of his pieces - he lives and works in Norfolk, where he paints lots of agricultural views - but he also loves to visit Cornwall and paint seascapes and fishermen. He even painted a dragon for Norwich's dragon parade. too
Check out his website here. The staff at The Gallery spoke of him as a really pleasant young man - generous and friendly - but with a great future ahead of him.
After being blown away by the artwork, we went off to the Folly Tearoom in Hopper's Yard for a cup of tea. 
This is very stylish - the gardens were a symphony of pink blossoms - with toning parasols. Even though it is in the middle of a bustling little town, the tea garden feels peaceful and secluded. 
Inside there were cakestands laden with delicate fancies for elegant dining.
Outside, in the public courtyard, doors marked with two deer heads with pink and blue ribbons indicated the loos. I have never seen quite such a posh coat hook in a public loo before!!
I still haven't got the hang of taking selfies with my new phone. I think my arms are too short - but I refuse to get one of those stick thingies.
Our other outing was a walk on the Sunday afternoon to Foxley Wood. The flowers and foliage were gorgeous, and the moths and butterflies utterly amazing.
I checked up on the blue one with the red spots. I think it is a six-spot Burnet [Zygaena filipendulae]  , but I am not sure. It was certainly a beauty.
Bob took this selfie in the sunshine.
What a glorious county Norfolk is - looking forward to being back there again soon.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Knots Landing

Is it only 8 days since I abseiled down the church tower? It seems ages ago already. Up on the top of the tower, we had an opportunity to chat to Dave Talbot, who organises these abseiling experiences. He and his team were great teachers, and their professionalism certainly helped to reassure those of us who were somewhat nervous. As he tied my rope, with a figure-of-eight knot, he and I started talking about knots. I mentioned that as a mathematician, I found them quite fascinating. Dave told me his favourite knot was a Hunter's Bend- and suggested I looked it up when I got home. So I did 

It is indeed very attractive- and it is good for holding synthetic ropes without slipping. I am not sure when I should use it, but as the saying goes  Better to know a knot and not need it, than need a knot and not know it.
Dave was at pains to point out that there were two ropes as I abseiled down - the one I was holding, which passed through my carabiner at my waist, which I let out gradually to allow myself to descend - and the safety rope he had tied to my chest, which he held at all times. "You're holding on - and I'm holding on - so even if you should let go, you won't fall" 
And sure enough, Dave did hold on, so I could wave my arms and even try little jumps. And he guided me to a safe landing.

When it was time for me to climb over the edge of the parapet, I suddenly remembered the motto of Spurgeon's College, where Bob studied for ministry. 
"Et Teneo et Teneor" - "I both hold, and am held"
The beautiful stained glass window in the College entrance hall is a vivid reminder. 
Yes, by faith I cling to the cross of Jesus, claiming Him as my Saviour - but when my faith is weak and faltering I know He is still holding on to me, and He will never let me fall.
And that gives me the strength to face whatever lies ahead of me.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

When Norwich Beat Paisley!

You probably recognise this tear drop motif, correctly known as boteh inspired by the territories which bordered Kashmir. This pattern developed from a vase or bunch of flowers with tightly packed heads bending at the top, into the familiar decorated pinecone shape.  
Nowadays, we call this highly decorated tear drop pattern Paisley, the name of the Scottish town which used the design to decorate its shawls in the early nineteenth century. However, Paisley wasn’t the first British town to produce shawls decorated in this way. 
Norwich had been using a similar pattern on the borders of their shawls since the late eighteenth century and by the nineteenth century, there were at least twenty shawl manufacturers in the town.
In India, each shawl needed the fine wool of 27 goats – but the Norwich weavers, with long experience of working with fine quality, lightweight fabrics, developed a combination of silk and sheep’s wool which was soft, warm and strong. The development of the Jacquard loom with its perforated pattern cards, allowed ever more complex patterns to emerge, which eventually covered most of the shawl rather than stopping at the borders.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, Norwich manufacturers were dismayed by other towns, like Paisley, copying their patterns and flooding the market. In 1842, it became possible to register a design at the Public Records Office for one shilling. However, this protection was only valid for between six and twelve months so only a few companies took the opportunity of protecting their patterns against piracy in this way.
The finest Norwich shawls were woven between 1830 and 1860, and in 1850, printed shawls came onto the market. 
Many Norwich shawls were dyed with a colour identified as Norwich Red. These shawls, designed to cover crinolines, were over six feet square, or a twelve foot rectangle, filled with boteh sometimes five feet in length, filled with flowers and covering the whole shawl. Some Norwich shawls were displayed at The Great Exhibition of 1851 and Queen Victoria ordered some for herself.

The leading expert in this country on the Norwich Shawl is a delightful 92 year old lady called Helen Hoyte – who received an MBE a year ago for her work in preserving and documenting these lovely garments. [watch the first 90 seconds of this video]
In October, there will be a special exhibition in Norwich Cathedral celebrating Norwich Shawls. I am planning to visit when we are up at Cornerstones that month.  But I shall say more about this next week!

Friday, 22 July 2016

Here Be Giants!

If you watch the Simpsons, you may have seen Lard Lad- the advertising figure holding up a Donut. The lad is meant to be around 20 feet high - and his donut adds another 10 feet or so. Pretty tall . 
If you go to Universal Studios, you'll see a full size fibreglass representation of him outside.  The Simpsons creators got the idea from the large advertising figures made by International Fiberglass [A California boat building company] back in the 60s and 70s. 
The idea was that these huge figures would catch people's attention as they drove down the US Highways, and they would then pull off the main road and visit the small towns en route. 
Most of them were "Muffler Men" [muffler is the US term for car exhaust] We might say 'Kwik-Fit-Fitters'. 'Some were less politically correct- Native Americans for Pontiac dealerships, and the UniRoyal gals [some in skimpy bikinis] flaunting their pneumatic products. 

There are about 200 still in existence, and a team of enthusiasts led by a guy called Joel Baker [a TV Audio Technician] work in their spare time to restore them to their original colourful glory.

 They are situated all over the USA, and the enthusiasts can track them as they travel around the States with this map and website

I suppose they have a lot more wide open spaces over there to plant these giants, I am not sure I would want one at the end of my road. Joel says that whilst they fell out of favour a while back, and folk were embarrassed to have them in the neighbourhood, now they are becoming popular again and regaining their roles as tourist attractions.
I am not aware that we have anything similar over here - apart from Mr Gormley's guy...
Have you seen any of these in the States? 

Perhaps Miriam could get a giant Cowboy to stand outside UCF next week to advertise our Wild West themed Kidz Club?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

This Heat Is Terrific - But Also Sudorific!

That's my new word for the month - it means 'sweat inducing' . Forget all that stuff about 'horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies gently glow' - I turn into a damp, tomato coloured wreck. And I up my liquid intake - usually with tea. 
I am like Rose in C S Forester's book African Queen" [so wonderfully portrayed by Katherine Hepburn in the film]
"Tea! Heat and thirst and excitement had done their worst for Rose. She was limp and weary and her throat ached. The imminent prospect of a cup of tea roused her to trembling excitement. Twelve cups of tea each Samuel and she had drunk daily for years...Tea! A cup of tea! Two cups of tea! Half a dozen great mugs, strong, delicious, revivifying......She gulped down mug after mug. For a moment her body temperature shot up to fever heat, but presently there came a blissful perspiration - a beneficent and cooling fluid, bringing with it a feeling of ease and well being. "Those Belgians up at the mine wouldn't never drink tea" said Allnutt..."they didn't know what was good"
I spent two days with Liz, Jon and Rosie this week, as I had WWDP stuff up in London, and Liz served me the most delicious caffeine free iced tea. She gave me the simple recipe.
Put 5 redbush tea bags and ¼ cup sugar into a saucepan. Add 2 litres of boiling water. Brew for 3 minutes. REMOVE THE TEA BAGS. Now simmer until liquid reduced by half.

Let that cool, and pour into a bottle. Store in the fridge. When you need a refreshing drink, use this syrup as a base, and top up with water [plain or sparkling] and lots of ice. Add lemon slices, mint leaves or sugar to taste. Cool!

Thanks Liz

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Once Again, From The Top!

Huge thanks to Dave, of Dave Talbot Adventure Events, who made Saturday's escapade possible. We were not allowed to take camera or phones up the tower with us [so I could not take any pictures of the interesting Anglican artefacts stored on the second storey, nor photos from the top looking down at Ferndown and my friends] However, Dave has sent through the images which he captured as we began our descents. 


I'm Busy Today!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Wild Thing, You Make My Heart Sing!

So sang The Troggs 50years ago.  I recently borrowed this book from the library 

It's full of great patterns for clothes for small children (mostly girl's dresses) There is a pattern sheet included,  and you can also download patterns from the website.  I  have no idea if I shall ever make any of these for Rosie,  but I found the instructions very clear and the clothes are enormous fun.  I  rate this *****