Sunday 30 September 2018

For The Beauty Of The Earth...

These lovely flowers came from Bloom and WildBloom And WildEven after a week they still look gorgeous. I hope to get some pictures of the flowers at the Harvest Thanksgiving later. The last few days have been quite busy, but it is always good to stop for a moment and reflect on such beautiful things. The Apostle Paul's words Philippians 4:8, in "The Message", read like this...
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. 
Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Saturday 29 September 2018

It Has Been A Busy Week...

I am putting my feet up for a bit!

Friday 28 September 2018

Serendipitous Stitchery

Tuesday began with a trip to nearby Corfe Mullen, to leave my overlocker, and embroidery machine at White Orchid. Andrew and Stella run this company from home.
She does alterations, and he services sewing machines. They also provide longarm quilting services.
We had a lovely chat to them, and said we were off to Poole for the rest of the Day Off. They mentioned the stitching exhibition at nearby Upton Country Park - so we diverted to that.

It was fantastic. Free entry, and so much to see. Lots of different stitching styles, and textile crafts - as well as a table full of craft books to look at - and armchairs for husbands to sit down and relax whilst their spouses ooh-ed and aah-ed over the exhibits. I took quite a few photos. As well as the general pieces on show, there was also a collection of embroidery hoops each displaying something on the theme of 100 years since 1918.
 I loved the folk art bag, with the deer on it. and the poppy field with the shadow and outline of 'Tommies'
The large poppy hanging was on loan from another embroidery exhibition, every other piece was stitched by men and women from Dorset.
Following pasties in the Upton Country Park Tea Room, we went on into Poole. Childish giggles when we stopped at a junction behind a septic-tank-clearing-lorry. Poo from Poole!
We were going into Poole to visit the Museum, as there was an Augustus John Exhibition. This artist - who led a very colourful life, in every sense, spent a number of years living in Poole. He was mentor to Henry Lamb [see here] John had various wives and lovers, and a number of children [nobody seems quite sure how many!] But he was a gifted artist - and his portraits were amazing. He was born in Wales in 1878, and moved to Poole in 1911. He was a war artist attached to the Canadian Forces, but returned to Dorset after the War, till he moved twenty miles to Fordingbridge, Hampshire in 1927. He remained there till his death in 1961. I loved looking at his portraits - they seemed to capture the essence of the sitters. 
That's TE Lawrence [of Arabia] centre left, and WBYeats, Irish poet, bottom right. The chalk sketches were stunning - just a few simple lines displaying emotion and expression. I wasn't so impressed with his bronze sculptures, they were less convincing!
We came back to Ferndown, and I cycled off to the British Legion to give blood. That took ages. I had an appointment time of 5.05, but did not get to the couch till 6pm. I was disappointed by the quality of biscuits and lack of stickers [I was hoping for 'Grandma gave blood today']  But Bob had cooked a lovely meal on my return and we had a pleasant evening. 
Dorset certainly seems to have a history of artistic and creative talent - and how good that both these exhibitions were free. Thankyou Stella for telling us about the stitchery [and thank you to the lady in Salisbury Museum who told me about the Augustus John one, when we were looking at Henry Lamb's paintings]
My stitchery is Strictly Nativity for the next few days!

Thursday 27 September 2018

Devizes And Desires

My good Church Of England friends, will be familiar with the Cranmer's "General Confession" from the book of Common Prayer.
 ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the DEVICES AND DESIRES of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
Bob and I were quoting from it last week, when we spent our day off exploring the town of Devizes - just a little further on from Salisbury [up past Stonehenge]We began our day with Breakfast in Brogans, in a street called The Brittox.[it was Brilliant, to continue the alliterative theme!] The food was good, and we were offered "fried bread, toast or bread and butter? white or wholemeal?" when we ordered. The bacon and sausages were delicious, and locally sourced.
After breakfast we walked down to the Wiltshire Museum. This is a great place [and we got in free, as we are members of Salisbury Museum!] It is quite old [1853], and created from three houses [Two Grade II Georgian, and one Victorian] knocked into one building. Consequently the route between the various rooms is quite convoluted, up and down levels- but all things considered, they do brilliantly. 
Run on a very tight budget, using a legacy which won't last forever, the staff [many being volunteers] work hard to maintain excellent facilities, for the locals and visitors, young and old. It is an independent charity. "Half a million objects, showing half a million years of Wiltshire's story"
I thought the Museum would be Mostly Stonehenge focused- and yes, they do claim to possess Britain's 'Best Bronze Age Archaeology collection, and gold from the time of Stonehenge" - but there is an awful lot more.
There is a great section on the Saxons, with gold and garnet jewellery, and the story of the Kingdom of Wessex. And another display on the growth of the town of Devizes.
 I learned about the wealthy merchants - especially those in the wool/cloth trade- and the development in the 14th century of the white woollen broadcloth. The town gave its name to 'Vize Blankets. [I need to do further research on these- in my preliminary reading I've discovered two of the other major centres for this type of cloth were Norwich and East Dereham, back in Norfolk!]
I was impressed by the number of interactive sections for the children - costumes to try on, paper and wax available for brass rubbing, videos to watch, headphones for listening to stories...

And right up to 2018, with a lovely section displaying articles made by the local blacksmith. Not just the usual items - horseshoes, fire irons and weather vanes, but attractive modern sculptures, many created from discarded metal objects.
After a pleasant hour or so in the Museum, we strolled back through this quaint town, looking in at "The Shambles"- the old market hall - and many of the excellent CS en route to the car park.
 We thought the variety of small independent traders was good, and Mark, the leatherworker was particularly friendly. The Car Park is adjacent to the Canal, and the little theatre, and a cluster of tiny shops. These included a patchwork store, and a haberdashery - Aladdin's Caves of treasures...bliss! 

This was a grand day out, the weather bright and breezy - but most enjoyable. I would like to go back again and explore- maybe following the Medieval Town Trail Map
But if this rainy weather continues, we'll definitely bring brollies

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Licensed To Kill?

I suspect that if Daniel Craig had swapped his dj, bow-tie and buttonhole for an old fleece, jogging bottoms, and slippers, the Bond films wouldn't have made quite so much at the box office...
Exactly what is Bob doing out there on the patio?
Answer - he is pumping expanding foam into the crevices round the dishwasher drainpipe.

 Why? well, we have found some unwelcome nocturnal visitors on the kitchen floor

Slugs! You wander out into the kitchen, to put on the kettle for an evening cuppa- and there they are, one, sometimes two, cavorting in the middle of the room [maybe 'cavorting' is too strong a word - more like 'lurking in a sinister manner'] 
It took us quite a while to work out where they were coming from - then we shone a torch in the evening, and saw the sparkling slimy trail, leading to the gap beside the dishwasher
Pulling the d/w out, we found there is a large gap at the edge of the flooring - and lots of sliminess shining on the wall behind. 
Bob has put a new strip of skirting board down to cover the hole [the flat iron is there to hold it in place whilst the glue dries]

We hope these efforts will keep the terrestrial gastropod molluscs out! We don't particularly want to kill them - but we definitely don't want them in our kitchen.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Back In Time For the Factory

I am loving this programme. Yes, it has the ubiquitous, but charming, Alex Jones leading the team [honestly, I think that either she, or Fiona Bruce, appears on at least 50% of the programmes I watch lately]
I'm thinking of applying for a job in the Textile Firm.
It is only September, but already the machines are out and I am busy sewing Nativity Costumes.
On Friday I spent an hour in the loft, going through the boxes of the Great Stash, and came down with armfuls of fabric [should that be armsful?]
I spent another hour on Saturday sorting and ironing, and again on Sunday afternoon, cutting out robes and tunics.
Monday I began the process of sewing -  and had completed 30 basic garments by the time I stopped to watch Monkman and Seagull [no Alex or Fiona on that show!] M&S are very enthusiastic and entertaining 
The Dining Room is now my little factory, with the dress rail receiving items as they are completed. More pictures will follow... 
 I'm leaving all the angel robes till last...

Monday 24 September 2018

Simply Red?

Nothing to do with the Manchester group- but I recently got this book- Simply RedWORK from the Library. The author, Mandy Shaw, has done sewing for Kirstie Allsopp, appearing on her programmes and also on the 'Create and Craft' channel. It is a fun book, beginning with a brief history of the redwork technique. It goes on to give 9 basic motifs- and ideas for using them in 17 projects. 
Techniques are explained well- for left and right handed stitchers. I am not sure I have the motivation to make a large quilt, but I like some of the smaller pieces. The section on designing your own motifs is good - Mandy shows how she translated the cover of a 1930s book into a design for stitching. I may have a go at making some of these ideas - they're ideal for small gifts. *****
Creative Machine Embroidery by Linda Miller is a much more complex volume - it rightly deserves a place in the 'textiles handbook series' published by ACBlack. Beautifully photographed, the intricate techniques are explained in great detail - and I am in awe of this woman's skill. 
To completely cover a piece of cloth with stitchery is one thing- when you are doing it with an electric sewing machine- wow!
I couldn't even manage the basic heart shape
Linda used to write a blog - but not recently. However you can still check out pictures of her lovely pieces.
I did get a machine embroidery foot in the box of feet I bought last autumn. Maybe it is time to dig it out and practice?*****
My third craft book [also borrowed from West Moors Library] was Kanzashi in Bloom.
These folded fabric flowers are traditionally used to adorn the elaborate coiffures of the Japanese Geishas. Their full name is Hana Tsumami Kanzashi [hana = flower, tsumami = folded, kanzashi = hair ornament]
Unlike Mandy [Sussex] and Linda [Devon] this textile artist, Diane Gilleland comes from Oregon.
She too has excellent instructions and step by step photo guides.
One simple method, and interpreted in many ways, to produce a great variety of blooms.
Yes, obviously, you can put your flower on a hair clip - but there are many other suggestions, and plenty of ideas
Wear them as part of a headband, pendant, tiny ear-rings. 
Dress up a skirt, tote bag or belt buckle. Make a jar topper, drawer pull or gift embellishment. Diane suggests that whilst the trad fabric is silk, it makes sense to begin with cotton/polycotton when you are learning the folding, and stitching. One project in the book is making a wallet [adorned with a bloom] using two old silk neckties. Bob has donated two from the back of his wardrobe in case I want to try!
I liked this book because it is about quite a niche craft - Diane says there are only fifteen acknowledged Tsunami Kanzashi masters in the world. Many of these are elderly, and no longer training apprentices. However Kuniko Kanawa, a Japanese woman living in Washington , is working to keep this tradition alive [it dates back to 1600] Many Japanese girls choose to wear a kanzashi in their hair on their wedding day.
I will try and make a bloom as a brooch - and if the bug bites, Bob better watch out, or I may be recycling his silk ties... Another *****

How satisfying, to borrow three very different craft books and find myself dreaming about trying them all out. Sadly, it is just dreaming at the moment, there are other things written on the project board which must be done first!

Sunday 23 September 2018

Moving On...

Recently Rosie enjoyed a very long ride in the bike-trailer along the Marriott's Way Heritage trail [website here] She absolutely loved it! The family did a 20 mile round trip on a sunny afternoon. Following the path of two disused railway lines, this 26 mile route goes from Aylsham to Norwich. 
When this picture was posted online, my dear friend Elisabeth in Leicester [also a cycling fanatic] asked if that was the bridge with the graffiti.
This is the Drayton railway bridge.
And here is the graffiti.

It seems like good advice - harbouring resentment never helped anyone to move on...

Saturday 22 September 2018

Waitrose /Wiltrose

It was my task to arrange the flowers in church. The donor had requested orange flowers. I found orange gerberas on Wimborne Market, and orange roses in Wimborne Waitrose.
I am not a great florist, but I thought they looked OK. 
Next morning however... 
I emailed Waitrose a picture of the drooping blooms, along with a picture of the label [guaranteeing at least 5 days of quality display] Happy to report an instant response, and by Wednesday, a full refund of the cost. 
I shall give our Church Treasurer the cash value, to go back into the Flower Fund, and spend the gift card on groceries! Well done Waitrose & Partners, thank you. 

Friday 21 September 2018

Bide A Wee, Bless You!

As a child, I used to go with Mum to visit an old lady from church who lived in a little old house with the name 'Bide A Wee'. I assumed this must be some euphemism regarding her outside loo. Mum [who had lived in Glasgow whilst at theological college] explained it was Scottish for "Stop for a while". VisitScotland [aka the Scottish Tourist Board] are keen to get more people up there, and last year commissioned an Insights Team to suggest strategies. 
They came up with the Gaelic word còsagach, which they defined as snug, warm, cosy. Their version of the Scandi hygge. But I have two problems with this word. Firstly, pronunciation - hygge was bad enough, but when I try to say còsagach it sounds like I have flu. People respond with "bless you!" and second - the Gaelic speakers say the main definition of còsagach is full of holes and crevices!
However, the idea is that there are lots of good Scottish habits we can adopt in the winter months to improve our mood. 
They've modified things a little, and now talk of coorie [verb, meaning either to stoop, cringe crouch down or to snuggle up. Clearly they are taking the 2nd definition again!] Let's face it, the Romans called Scotland Hibernia - the Land of Winter. So this place should have some well established 'coping mechanisms' A new book has come out to help us manage the approaching season, just as we pass the Autumnal Equinox. Or maybe as we enter the 'heres-a-good-Christmas-gift-for-you-to-buy' season.
Let me save you fifteen quid, by telling you all the things you allegedly need to do to be as happy as a Scotsman in Winter...
1- drink whisky and hot toddies [I'll have honey and hot lemon or cocoa]
2- ambience [candles, blankets, hygge]
3- soup [comforting broths, not vichysoisse or gazpacho]
4- fresh air- get outside and stride along the beach, tramp through the forest [or even swim, kayak, cycle]
5- radio - curl up under a blanket and bond with your nearest and dearest as you Listen With Other. Try Radio4 Extra, or even the Shipping Forecast [Dogger, Fisher, German Bight...]
 6- rediscover classic Scottish Novels - Treasure Island, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Thirty Nine Steps.
7-Woollens [see also hygge] My favourite knitwear designer is definitely Kate Davies [click here]
8- Nightlife - that's natural nightlife, not clubbing. Stargazing, owl/fox/badger watching etc
9- Watch some Scottish TV programmes as you snuggle up on the sofa. Rosie is fond of that feisty redhead Katie Morag, which is not surprising. Personally, I think it is time for a revival of Supergran.

So now you know. Enjoy the winter, keep calm, and coorie on with the còsagach!

Thursday 20 September 2018

If I Had A Hammer...

Actually, I do have a hammer. When I went to Uni, my Dad gave me a small tool kit. It contained a hammer, screwdrivers, a Stanley knife and more. I always have a small Swiss Army knife on my keyring. When a work colleague asked in the office recently "has anyone got a screwdriver with them?" I am very proud that my daughter replied "Flat or cross head?" 
The late, great Heinz Wolff once said "We must bring our children up to be literate, numerate and manipulate" I don't know if you can use that word as an adjective, but I know exactly what he meant. We must teach them to use their hands, and not just for operating keypads and touch screens.
I checked out some more of Mr & Mrs Horth's "101" books and was not altogether surprised by the contents.
"101 things for a boy to make" shows a lad with a crane on the front cover - and a battleship and a lorry on the back. The 21st century re-issue says "More dangerous than 'The Dangerous Book For Boys'" You notice that MRS Horth is not credited with writing any of this volume.
Practical directions for the young craftsman- carving and cutting, sawing and sticking, nailing and knocking...
The parallel one is "101 things for a girl to DO" [no idea why she cannot make as well] And that is full of pages of sewing and knitting and crochet and lace. 
And I am irritated - but not surprised- that in the late 1940s girls were expect to find pretty, quiet little 'indoor' hobbies, whilst boys could climb and cut and set fire to things. I'm irritated because WW2 had just ended when women had worked machinery in munitions factories, flown planes, been lumberjacks  [sorry, -jills] They had cracked codes alongside Alan Turing, and been parachuted behind enemy lines to help the French Resistance. And now they can sit down by the fireside and stitch lace on a cushion. Huh!
What's out there now? I wondered. Here in the 21st century, when women are liberated and have had the vote for 100 years, can I find some good craft books? I discovered things to make and do for boys- and for girls- published by Usborne.
But would you believe it? - the boys' one has things like Egyptian Mummies, Stained Glass Windows, Dragon Pencils, Treasure Maps, Monster Masks, Cattle, Skeletons and Bats
All primary colours
And the girls' book has Mermaids, Unicorns, Fairy wings, Ice Cream, Flowers and Butterflies
Pastel Pinks and Turquoise
Surely they do not have to be like this?
I actually purchased a book of "Pirate things to make and do" a while ago, for a school activity.
I got it down from the shelf. Yes there are girl-pirates in there. I counted - 20%, 1 in 5 pirates is pictured as female. I suppose, historically speaking, the majority of pirate were blokes [but not all - Anne Bonny, Mary Read...] but this is a small yo-ho-ho in the right direction, I suppose.
Rosie is learning to use tools, ride a bike, build things...and to help her parents and grandparents in the kitchen and the garage. I'm glad she will grow up in a family where being a girl does not prevent her from exploring and discovering. She can be a scientist, a needleworker, a chef, a writer, a preacher*, an athlete....whatever 

- and we will support and encourage her decisions, I hope.
Well done Jocelyn Bell Burnell - who has at last been recognised for her contribution to astrophysics- and is generously giving away the £2.3million prize money to help fund PhD students underrated in STEM subjects [science, technology, engineering, maths]
**I have almost finished ranting, but to the elderly gentleman who asked me recently - NO, my husband does not write my sermons for me.
If I had an appropriate hammer, I would probably be using it to smash more glass ceilings.