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Sunday 21 September 2014

An autumn day out

Yesterday felt like a good day for a trip. We were heading for Saffron Walden in Essex. It's only about an hour's journey from where we live, and there is an art gallery here which I've wanted to visit for a few years now. Once again, it's thanks to Twitter and the fact that I follow various artists and galleries, that I was galvanised into action as I read that it closes in October (until April). No time to lose. So off we went.

I had no idea that Saffron Walden would be so old - or so pretty. But it's both. There was a small market in the old market square, very busy, and with some beautiful flowers, fish, fruit and vegetables.

We bought takeaway coffees and had a good mooch around. I found a small bouquet of home grown dahlias from the community garden stall and Perry bought a sea bream to cook later. There was even an outside space to sit down and have some oysters and wine! But the art gallery was calling me. Here it is: The Fry Gallery.

The small gallery was built in 1856 by Francis Gibson, a Quaker banker and amateur artist to hold his personal art collection. It was then inherited by his daughter Elizabeth Fry. Since the 1980s, it has housed a collection of the works of the Great Bardfield group of artists which includes Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Kenneth Rowntree and John Aldridge, whose work I really love. Their pictures evoke England in the 1930s. They work in print and paint. I am particularly keen on Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden and there are many examples of their work here. You can even see Edward Bawden's beautiful sketch books.

Wow, wouldn't mind having a few sketches like that in my book!
We spent a long time looking at the pictures and then browsing in the little shop which has a brilliant selection of books and cards. 

Next, we popped in on a small contemporary gallery in Church Street, where print maker Celia Hart has an exhibition. I had seen Celia's work in Country Living, and again, I follow her on Twitter. Some gorgeous prints here, and I am now saving up for one....(although actually her prices were very reasonable but I'd already spend my funds at the museum shop :) )

After a ploughman's lunch in the pub, we explored a bit more. Plenty of antiques shops and antiquarian books too, all in these gorgeous pale old buildings with timbers and decorative plasterwork.

Some lovely stuff in this one. 

I've never seen houses with this kind of embossed decoration before. 

It's the kind of town where I thought 'I could live here.'

Will definitely return. Hope you enjoyed this short tour. 
The Fry Gallery is at Castle Street, Saffron Walden. Open April - October.

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Seasonal pleasures

I've been ticking off tasks on a list that has been sitting around for far too long. Last weekend, we launched an attack on the messy hinterland of our garden. It's here that nettles and brambles abound. We make half hearted attempts to tame it, but we're always defeated and it grows back (our garden backs on to a field so it's hard to stem the tide of nettles). It is amazing how much you can achieve in a day. We also picked up the windfalls, and mowed the grass.

By the afternoon, Perry had had enough so he went to a football match, while I drove some of the green waste to the local dump. While I was throwing it into the skip, I spotted this huge flour bin in an area marked 'please take.' I snatched it up and popped it into the boot of the car. I have never before found anything interesting at the dump, so I felt quite delighted that I'd  made this discovery!

Now on a roll, I picked some blackberries from the field, froze some and made some into crumble with some of the apple harvest. On Sunday, I did something else which I've been promising myself. I  volunteered to help out at the arts festival in Peterborough. I worked in a pop up cafe for a few hours, washing up, serving cakes, coffees and teas. I met some lovely people, heard some live music, and it was a joyful occasion.

Next on my list, I will go to some of the talks, readings and music events that I say I will attend, and never do. The Cafe is in an arts centre, and a lovely garden has been installed there. They had some very pretty yarnbombing going on, and some great ideas for planting.

This yarn bombed peacock hued bike was a picture.

Tomorrow, I'm going to interview a textile artist in Kent for LandScape magazine. I am so looking forward to it. I will report back with a few glimpses of what she does, but I probably can't show too much until the article is printed. Already I feel that I am climbing out of my rut and making lots of new plans.