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Friday, 31 May 2013

A whistle stop tour

Today I went on a working trip to Wiltshire. It was very full on, we were doing a photo shoot all day, but there was just five minutes at the end to explore the little village of Lacock. It is just idyllic.

Quintessentially English makes and sells organic soaps and bath melts. It is a beautiful little shop.

Opposite was a small courtyard, and a tiny store with French antiques and textiles set outside in the sunshine.

I loved this French school dress, much patched and darned with tiny stitches.

I'd love to come back to this place with time to spare. 

Despite our unpredictable weather, grey skies and long winters, our country can be so beautiful sometimes.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Homespun Party #2: Bunting

There cannot be a party without bunting. As the village hall I'm renting is quite big, I know that I'll need a lot, or it will look a bit lost. With the best will in the world, I'd never be able to make such a large quantity, to I turned to t'internet to see what I could find. I am pleased with these bold fabric flags which arrived today. They fit with my bright colour scheme and tissue paper pom poms and they are a really good size.

It's good to see some bright, cheery colours on what has been a very miserable week with two days of solid rain. Unable to go outside, I have made some bunting but it's in a completely different style.

I took a stack of old doilies and some bias binding and machined them together.

I made that sound easy, but it wasn't. It took me a whole hour to thread my machine and wind a new bobbin, as I am incapable of remembering how the machine works. It is so frustrating and just the way my brain is wired. But I persevered and managed not to hurl the whole lot out of the window. The stitching is dodgy in places, where the tension went slightly awry but it does look quite sweet and I am very glad to have used some of these:

I am sure I will find a little space for this in the hall, too. 

Yes, still a few ends to sew in :) but nearly there....

Monday, 27 May 2013


Up early to the huuuge car boot sale that only happens on bank holiday Mondays. I had such high hopes for this, and had saved some money, because last time I ran out too early. Of course, Sod's Law being what it is, today's was not half as good as the last one. There were  loads of stalls, hundreds upon hundreds, but also a lot of dealers and lots of modern household stuff. Still, it was great fun having a sort through and I did find a few little gems. Buy of the day was definitely the old jar above. It has a screw on lid, and although it's very chipped and bashed about, I just love it. It can share a shelf with my marmalade jar.

 I found some lovely patchwork fabric for 10p a piece. It's not really vintage, but I like the designs and I bought lots.

Some great books. These Ladybirds were only 20p each.

Just bought this for the title really. It sounds a bit Fifty Shades, but it really is all about English gardens.

And this one came with me, because of the typeface.

A pair of pretty pillow cases, currently blowing on the line.

And lots of lavender plants for the garden. So I didn't find any colourful table cloths for the party, or retro garden chairs. My son, however, did have a good morning. He stumbled across a van full of the contents of a 1950s/60s bar and social club. It was full of old signs, formica tables and beer glasses for not much money. He has returned with a lot of accessories for his room! It's probably just as well that I didn't see it, or heaven knows what his father and brother might have returned to from their holiday...

PS Found this old suitcase just as I was leaving, which shows you don't have to be there at dawn to find a little treasure or two.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

If you go down to the woods....

After hail, thunder and driving rain yesterday, some sun appeared today. I had been promising myself a trip to the bluebell woods and thought I'd better get down there while there are still some flowers left. It was very beautiful with the sunbeams winking through the trees and a profusion of spring flowers. 

I had forgotten how lovely they smell. It was very muddy underfoot, but everything looks so lush.

My eldest son left school yesterday (apart from exams), and husband and youngest have just left for a week's holiday in Scotland: it's been hectic at home so it was nice just to take an hour out and feel the calm of the woods.

I found these incredible fungi. Very Hobbit-y. In fact, the woods had a magical air about them today.

Mossy logs, winding paths and carpets of flowers.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The homespun party #1

I'm planning a party for July. I always said that if I was feeling well and strong when I hit the half century, I would have a party with lots of music and dancing. So far, so good (touch wood), and so that's exactly what I am going to do. Plans are already well underway. I've had an invitation printed and I've sent most of these out. The village hall is booked. Now it's time to think about the details.

We can't have the party in the village hall near to where we live as it is very small and close to surrounding houses. The one I really wanted is in a gorgeous village called Fotheringhay (where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner), but when I looked at the list of rules and regulations, I didn't think it would be a good plan to go ahead there. So, the one I have booked is not the prettiest, but it's large, with a big car park and it is surrounded by fields. If, by any chance it is a warm, sunny evening, people can spill outside.

Last night, I got to thinking about how I can make that village hall look good on a shoestring, and I made a few sketches.
I think I need lots of colour. I've started stockpiling bright tablecloths, and I hope I'll find a few more at the car boot this weekend. They're the seersucker ones, not so sought after as embroidery ones, but much cheerier (and cheaper!).

I'm also hunting for old camping chairs in stripes and bright shades, as I'd like to put up a tent outside the hall and  fill it with blankets and chairs. Paper pom poms, I bought lots of these at Wilkinson's at Christmas, and I've spotted a how-to-make-your-own in the summer Prima Makes magazine, so I am going to try that too.
My friend Tracey at Foxtail Lilly has agreed to do some flowers.
Bridget, who I work with, has a small catering business and will help with food.
We'll do our own music with an iPod and a big speaker.
Let's just hope lots of people can come now! 
I will add some updates as the party plans progress. Let me know if you have any good tips or ideas....

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Sunday, 19 May 2013

In the garden

This weekend I've been on a mission to start taming the garden. I needed plants, so this morning, with the sun peeping through the curtains at 6.30am, I went to my local car boot to see if I could find some. I gave myself strict instructions: no vintage for in the house, because I've just put everything away from my sale days and I would really like to keep the space clear for as long as I can. 
I spotted this giant sieve which makes the perfect place for some geraniums. I have lined it with some coconut inner to stop the water spouting out of the sides but I think it will look really nice when the geraniums start to trail. It really is a whopper. I wonder what it was used for? A school kitchen? Someone offered to buy the sieve from me when I was walking to the car but I wasn't selling.
I also found some delphiniums for 60p each, so I bought some of those, too.

I came home and spent two or three hours digging, weeding, sweeping and sorting out old pots.

Still some way to go, but it's looking much neater than before. The day was fine and warm, it was beautiful to be outside. 

I have sown some seeds, too, to keep costs down. I always put in plenty of cornflowers, as they are only 29p a packet at Aldi, and they always come up and provide a good display of colour. Great for filling in gaps.
I was tired today as we went to the cinema last night to see The Great Gatsby. It hasn't had good reviews, but we all enjoyed it. If you are a real stickler for literary accuracy, then no, perhaps it wouldn't be a great idea to go, but for sheer spectacle and a bit of escapism, I would recommend it. Leonardo  DiCaprio is well cast as Gatsby and looks very fine in 1920s clothes. Carey Mulligan is also beautiful as Daisy, with creamy skin and incredible frocks.  A nice weekend, I wish it could last a little longer. Hope you had a good one, too.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Bustin' out all over

Usually, I love my job. It is interesting and I meet all sorts of different people, with no two days the same. But sometimes, not so much. An annual article about local bathroom companies is on the agenda, and it was sending me bonkers with boredom. I promised myself that if I got most of it done by lunchtime, I could go out for a quick stroll. Mission accomplished, and I was out of the door hoping to catch the last few rays of sunshine. It is some time since I've walked around the village and it is looking amazing out there. So many flowers that don't usually bloom at the same time are out together in one crazy, colourful kaleidoscope. 

Butterflies and bees.

My route to the village shop. Then I thought I should check out the lilac in the church yard, because this is my absolute favourite (apart from lily of the valley, and they are not quite flowering yet). 

 Lilac just out, with a few buds left to come...and they smelt incredible.

As I was heading home, I met a lovely lady and her husband, I often see them at auctions because they buy boxes of bric a brac to sell in aid of the chapel restoration fund. They wanted to give me an enamel tin, and to show me the lady's amazing collection of vintage and antique buttons. It was fascinating, she has so much knowledge and I had great fun looking at her beautiful, orderly collection. I wished I could have stayed longer but I had to head home to finish my deadline...but she said I can go back any time. That's the lovely part of living in a village.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

I'm not the only one with this obsession...

Buttons. I love them, I have thousands of them, I cannot walk past a button box or tin at a car boot sale without making it mine. The problem is, once you've sorted the wheat from the chaff, where to keep the nicest buttons? Last weekend, I found the answer.

These little drawers were on a stall at the giant Bank Holiday car boot sale. I think they were originally used to store typeface, as the compartments are labelled. They're not especially old, but they are perfect for a button collection. I have bid for drawers like this at the auction before and they always go sky high and out of my reach, so I was pleased to buy these for £18.

Some of my favourite things won't fit in, like this little brown bag of bone buttons from France.

And the buttons on cards.

I had a successful sale at Foxtail Lilly last Saturday, and I did part with a few of my buttons. I made them up into little packs, green glass, red glass and so on, and they were really popular. I'm glad to know that it's not just me....

Friday, 10 May 2013

My half century in colour...

I was 50 yesterday, which still feels really unreal. It sounds sooo old. Still, what better excuse for a day out? I went to London to meet two dear friends for lunch. I could only grab them for an hour or so as they were working, but we had a lovely time chatting with a glass of wine in the Cafe Delauney on the Aldwych. Then I took myself off to the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the London Fashion and Textile Museum. This is a small but really beautiful collection of paintings, quilts and knitted designs.

I had a lovely hour wandering through the rooms, soaking up the explosion of colours.

If I'm honest, I am not too keen on very tightly designed quilts, I can appreciate the skill involved but they don't do much for me. These, however, are a different matter because the colours used are so amazing. I also loved Kaffe Fassett's still life paintings. 

Ginger jars by Kaffe Fassett

A lovely painting of jelly moulds.

After my tour I sat down with a welcome cup of tea in the museum cafe....

before heading home to celebrate with the family.
I'm going to be having a party in July, once all the boys' exams are over. 
Fifty isn't so bad...:)