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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A borrowed post

I was going to do a quilt update post today, but it's so grey and wet outside that the photos would not work. So here are a few flowers and blue skies from this time last year. I hope it's sunny where you are....

Roses from an open garden weekend. There are three of these open gardens coming up in June so I will be going along to some of those.

The white clematis are out again and covering our old plum tree, but the petals have been battered by the torrential rain.

Hopefully soon we will be able to sit in these again.

And enjoy blue skies....

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


At lunchtime I went outside to pull out one buttercup from the border (I could see it from the window and it was annoying me). I didn't come back in for about three hours. Such a lovely afternoon pottering and no pressing deadlines, so I thought I would make the most of the sunshine. 

Our garden is large and a bit wild. I've tamed parts of it, but not all. The front garden is looking more or less how I want it to, but I know I'll never conquer the back!

These flowers are so useful and they seem to grow anywhere, and spread each year. 

I had a great time in Manchester doing lots of the city things that I miss: theatre, art galleries, coffee shops (and a lot of chat with my great friend). It has recharged my batteries. We did not do much shopping (and I barely took any photos), but after R had caught her train home I had a couple of hours to spare, and I went to a huge Waterstones where I had a really long browse. I found this book:

It is not really a cookery book. Well, it is, but that isn't its main purpose. It has lots of diary extracts, illustrations, gorgeous paintings and detail about the lives of the Bloomsbury Set. It kept me rapt for my entire three hour train journey home. It is expensive but I would recommend it. It's the most beautiful book I've seen for a long time, yet there is lots to read too, and it's written in a very accessible way.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Summer plumage

Some work fell through this week so I've found myself with a couple of quiet days. It's lovely! I've just done a bit of spring cleaning, changed the winter blankets for crochet ones, and installed my new H&M green block print cushion covers (see background above). I picked flowers from the garden (and still have some left!).

Over the last few weeks, I've also been working on a new patchwork quilt. This time, the colour palette is pink and green. I started with triangles but they proved a bit tricky, so I've gone back to my comfort zone and it'll be another squares quilt with a triangle trim. This quilt will be used for the sofa above, so it's not going to be as huge as the last one I made.

I'm really enjoying sewing again. It's so calming. Although my quilts are random, I like sorting out the colours, placing the different squares together, moving them around. It's like therapy. With the triangles, it was great to be able to use up some tiny scraps of favourite fabric, some of which I've had for years. 

GCSEs are underway for my son, and the house is quiet, so it's the ideal way to spend a few hours in the evening. I've concluded that GCSEs are much more stressful than they used to be, yes, even despite the fact that students do some coursework alongside exam papers. When I took my exams, I did so safe in the knowledge that I could stay on in the sixth form at my own school. I didn't have to get an A or A* in order to carry on studying a particular subject, I could choose exactly  the ones I wanted to do and chase my 16 year olds dreams. In fact, I remember that I didn't get a high grade in my art GCSE, but I went on to take an A level which was one of the most enjoyable and valuable things I have ever done. Every day I am thankful that I did that art A level, and learnt the rudiments of printing, sketching, painting and drawing. Now it seems you have to 'qualify' to stay in your own sixth form, even if it is a non selective comprehensive school. The pressure this adds to a stressful time is immense. I won't rant any more, because this isn't the place, but I'd like to. League tables are to blame, I think. That's enough of that. Breathe...and quilt.

Seeing the quilts at Green Knowe was definitely an inspiration (see last post).

Birthday cards from my boys. It was the first year that eldest has sent me a card by post. A milestone! 
This weekend, as part of my birthday treat, I'm going to Manchester with a friend, we're seeing a play at The Royal Exchange, doing some shopping, some cafe-hopping and I'll see Jack as well. Very much looking forward to all of that. I think most of the country is predicted to have some warm, sunny weather over the next few days. I hope you enjoy it. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Green Knowe

I had an adventure yesterday. On impulse, I decided to visit somewhere that I have always wanted to go: The Manor at Hemingford Grey, near Huntingdon.  It is the house where the children's author Lucy M Boston lived and set her Green Knowe series of books. I had a magical afternoon. It's funny how sometimes the least planned events often turn out to be the best.

I arrived in Hemingford Grey at lunchtime and asked my way to the Manor. "Walk along the path by the river and you'll pass a gate in the wall. It's through there," said the lady at the cafe. This stretch of river is amazing, all weeping willows, reeds and willowherb. The little gate was so hidden by clematis and foliage that I walked past it the first time, but then I lifted the latch and found this:

And this house:

The garden is a mix of informal and these amazing yew trees shaped like chess pieces and others which are symbols of the Coronation.

It was just beautiful. I knew that there was a guided tour of the house at 2pm. I hadn't booked, although this is recommended. We were treated to a very interesting hour. Parts of the house are 900 years old. It is lived in now by Lucy M Boston's daughter in law Diana and it's very much a family home: nothing is contrived, just very homely and welcoming. This is the hallway, there are little collections of treasures everywhere you look:

Paintings line the walls. I had to be a bit careful about taking photos inside. I didn't want to annoy everyone else on the tour and I also wanted to absorb all the loveliness. Our guide said it was okay to take a few shots, but she asked me to be discreet and 'behave nicely,' which is absolutely fair enough.

One of the things that attracted me most about this house was the fact that Lucy M Boston is famous for her patchwork quilts. She moved into the house in 1939 and found herself without much spare cash. She bought a couple of patchworks to put at the windows to keep the draughts out, and when she had to mend them she began to master the art of quilting. Here are the patchworks that she bought and mended:

Gorgeous. But there was more, much more! Upstairs, we were treated to a viewing of all the patchwork quilts that Lucy Boston made. They are stunning. I didn't photograph many, but here is just a glimpse:

And another one:

Lucy Boston was quilting until she was 86 and had to ask children from the village to thread her needle for her! She does sound like quite a woman.One of the most moving rooms in the house is a family room containing a beautiful old gramophone. This is where she would invite young airmen from the nearby airbase during WW2. She would play them music from her vast library of 78s, to entertain them before they went out on missions. Our guide played us one of the records. It was very poignant.

At the top of the house is the old nursery. Now this really is like the pages of a children's book come to life:

And I loved this corner of the room too.

A peek out of the window:

I didn't really want to leave, it's such a beautiful place. But there was just time for a pot of tea and slice of apricot cake at the Community Cafe in the village. The whole place feels like a step back in time with tiny crooked cottages and roses around the doors. 

I would really highly recommend a visit. 

More information here: 

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Holiday happy

Bank Holiday Monday was sunny in our area and the sale was a big success. Thanks for good wishes after my last post. I arrived at the village green at 10.30am, and I didn't sit down or stop talking until 5pm! There was a huge turn out, and it was a really well organised day.

Here I am with my stall, all frocked up and ready to go, feeling slightly apprehensive. I did take a LOT of stuff. But it was really fine. I sold lots of garden items, two ottomans, a tin trunk and a wooden crate, plus plenty of china, especially jugs and cake stands.

The horse chestnut trees were in full bloom.

I am still trying hard to get rid of stuff, rather than accumulate more, but my goodness it was hard to resist the other bric a brac stalls. I am still brooding over the pile of blue and white plates and two gorgeous old jelly moulds that I left behind. I only cracked once, and that was to purchase a huge zinc dolly tub for the garden. It's for the garden, so that doesn't count, right? 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

I'm still standing

Despite my last stall debacle (i.e not selling very much), I am going to do it all again tomorrow at Elton May Fair. I've been standing at this fair for about six years now, and it has always worked really well for me, so here's hoping. I've spent all day getting things ready, pricing and titivating....of course there is loads more, fabric and china and all sorts, two small cars full.

The event is lovely, as it spans two pretty village greens, and there are lots of things happening, Maypole dancing, teas, a beautiful artisan bread stall (perilously close to my pitch....), book stall, beer festival, bric a brac etc. The forecast is okay for our area, too. The countryside is looking incredible. This is the view at the bottom of my road, a blossom arch and a petal carpet underfoot.

Must go and finish packing the cars. 

Hope everyone has a lovely Bank Holiday Monday.

* Stripy deck chair now sold, thank you Katie :)