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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Saturday drawing at Cafe Valise

Today I did something completely different. Instead of the usual Saturday chores, I went to Peterborough to a pop up arts cafe, where there were all sorts of interesting things taking place as part of the city's Arts Festival. I particularly wanted to do some drawing, because although I always intend to draw at home, I never actually seem to get around to it. 
An arts organisation called Metal have moved into Peterborough to try and start some community arts projects and the cafe is their first idea. They have transformed an old parking fines office into a suite of mini studios, and there were some artists there running various workshops. The drawing studio was really tranquil. You could choose a heading or a subject, such as The Sea, or in my case, A Beautiful Place, and then just take a piece of card and start. At first I froze and I couldn't think of anything, but all those open gardens that I've been visiting must have been in my head. I got so absorbed that two hours passed in the blink of an eye. Once you completed your drawing, you were asked to place it in a display unit under the subject heading that you had chosen.

There were all kinds of intriguing found objects lining the studio ....

A very lovely place for coffee and cake....

Space for children...

I had a great morning. And now I want to do some more!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Roses, roses, roses

Have you noticed that is it is an amazing year for roses? They are bursting out all over in our area, the cottages just clustered with them, it's as much as I can do to stay on the road as I drive through the villages taking them all in. No one has finer roses than my parents, and many of the ones in their cottage garden have been there since I was young. I recently acquired this green vase and had such a hankering for some big, blowsy roses to put it in, I asked my mum and dad if I could raid their plot. These are their roses and they are just delicious....they smell even better than they look, if that's possible.

They lend themselves to modelling next to the scraps of vintage linen I picked up at Newark. There is a man who just sells small pieces of fabric for £4 and £5 a piece, and I found some beautifully coloured bits from him last week. 
Why has it been such a good year for roses? The David Austin expert I heard a couple of weeks ago said it's because they love cool, damp conditions. That makes sense, then. 

Out came the iPhone for one last shot, I love how the dark red rose has turned inky black. And talking of roses, I was walking through Peterborough city centre today when this vision caught my eye....

It's an original Horrocks 1950s dress, part of the window display for the local FE college, and not for sale. But isn't it a cracker! I am not used to seeing things like this  in Peterborough, but things have been improving a lot recently. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Let there be light...

Summer came for about two hours this morning, but now the cloud is down and it's very gloomy for a June afternoon. But there are some beautiful flowers in my garden. For the first time ever, I have raised an everlasting sweet pea (bottom left, sorry about the wonky montage, it's hard to control these little photos). I bought the sweet pea at the car boot two years ago, it's really taken off and I think it's going to be smothered in flowers very soon. 

It's been a strange week so far. I've encountered an internet troll - not on my blog, fortunately, I think I'm safe here with my small and select band of readers. It was through the local magazine that I work for. You just wonder how people get to the point where they harbour so much bitterness. I felt sorry for my troll, he was very angry indeed. I would have recommended yoga, or stopping to smell the flowers, but I don't think it would have gone down well :)

This little piece of loveliness was another of my finds at Newark last week. It's a beautiful crochet blanket in a kind of cobwebby design. It has unusual colours, slightly 'off' but I really love them. 
Blankets and cakes, I dunno, it's not really very seasonal. 

My family do love these butterfly cakes though (add a little maple syrup to the butter cream mix to make them ultra-yummy).

Troll-free zone.

Sunday, 24 June 2012


An open garden in a nearby village. I thought this path across the river looked so inviting in a slight misty haze. This photo really sums up the landscape where I live.

We dodged showers and the sun was hot when it showed. The walled vegetable garden is a beauty. A little bit dilapidated, all the more charming for that. There were onions, peas, strawberries, potatoes, lettuces, herbs and a fruit cage full of blackcurrant and raspberry bushes.

I love gardens which tantalise with doors in walls and paths which snake around corners. 

And what about this for a lush border? I loved this plant (below).

A honeysuckle arch:

And to round it all off, a home made scone with plum jam and clotted cream.

And when we got home, just time to put up my lovely new sign. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

On the road

Yesterday was a day off. I'd decided that I would go to Newark Antiques Fair, which is one of the huge two day events, and is about 45 miles north of where we live. I was introduced to it about 12 years ago and before then, I had no idea that such things existed. I remember being completely bowled over when I stepped inside the showground for the first time to find this enormous pop up community of tents and caravans, with tarpaulins spread out on the grass, covered in piles of gorgeous worn and weathered things.  I'd always loved second hand stuff, but this was something else. That very first time, I think I bought an old blue quilt, which I still love, and some rather over-priced but very pretty German storage tins. I've wised up a lot, but Newark still has a special place in my heart. 

I don't go every time now, in fact, it's a year or so since I was last there, but  I felt really excited, and ignored the rain lashing my windscreen, as I headed along the A1. The weather didn't relent, but I still had a really good day, despite cold hands, frizzy hair and soggy feet.

I was on the hunt for some fabric, and I found some lovely pieces. So many ideas for these scraps of linen, soft cotton and barkcloth. There was one big tent just full of faded fabrics, old ribbons, threads and trimmings.

 French chintz. I'll save these curtains until I have a window to fit them....

But my find of the day is this old enamel sign. I love everything about it, the simple graphics, the colour, its wear and tear. I had just enough left in my purse to buy it. Serendipity.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A secret garden

 A beautiful garden is balm to the soul, and if you can enjoy it on a warm summer's day, when the air is heavy with the scent of roses and sweetpeas, so much the better. This is Easton Walled Gardens, near Grantham, Lincolnshire. It was a press day, and a real privilege to be invited to see the midsummer magic....

Gorgeous borders. 

Fragrant David Austin roses, I love these old fashioned pink ones, they remind me of my childhood.
I resisted the urge to buy a rose, though, as I know I would only kill it. The David Austin man gave a talk on caring for roses and he made it sound easy, maybe one day I will try again....

Hard to believe that in 1999, the garden was derelict. The Cholmeley family have restored it, and now it is open to visitors (

We were so lucky to have this little chink of brightness today, eating lunch outside with bare legs and wearing a summer dress and not being freezing! Well, I appreciated every single moment of it.

 Lovely lettuces in orderly rows ...

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A flock of birds

I found a really pretty piece of bird fabric in the charity shop today. Birds are a motif that I really love, so I've rounded up a few more from the house.
Knitting needle case....

Laundry bag....


The magazine is finished for another month, so I'm out and about over the next few days. I have a press event tomorrow at a beautiful walled garden nearby, and then on Thursday, it's Newark Antiques Fair. I haven't been for a long time, and I'm really looking forward to it, as this is the first mega-fair that I ever attended - around 10 years ago now.  I am hoping to find some gorgeous fabric (which probably means that I'll come home with something completely different).

Finally, I found this jolly tin in Oxfam today for £1. I'm guessing it's from the 1960s. Just love the bright colours. 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

A big beast

It was tough getting up for the boot sale this morning, but when I saw hazy sun through the curtains, I thought I would go. There were a few old items there today, and nobody seemed to be particularly interested in them. I bought this huge beast of a typewriter. It was a bargain, if you like this kind of thing. It's in full working order, it has its bell and the arm pushes back smoothly. I could just imagine it in an old style newsroom or typing pool. The seller warned me that it was quite heavy, but I didn't realise just what a monster it was until I tried to pick it up to take it back to the car. I put my arms under it, braced myself...and nothing happened. It weighs a ton.

Anyway, worth rupturing my stomach muscles for....and it was gadgets a go-go today, because the other little find I made was this:

It's a tiny sewing machine with a miniature wooden bobbin on top. 
And I also found a book about typography, a subject that I am geekily interested in. 

Home again before the house had stirred. A good morning's hunting.