A picnic in style

On the way back from Whitby we visited Beningbrough Hall for a walk around the gardens and a picnic. The house is not yet open but it was a beautiful day and it gave us chance to try out our new picnic basket.

Beningbrough 1

Beningbrough 2

Beningbrough 3

Beningbrough 12

I have been looking for a basket for our Steampunk days out for a while, especially for the event that is coming up over the August Bank Holiday. By chance we we staying right next to a Boyes store in Whitby and they had one in the window. I had never been in a Boyes but loved it- great haberdashery as well!

It is perfect and we really loved having a sophisticated lunch under the shade of the trees.Ellen was very impressed that it even has salt and pepper pots 😉 We felt like we were in some glam post war novel.

Beningbrough 4

Picnic basket 1

Picnic basket 2

The gardens themselves were very lovely, I would like to return to the property and see inside and also go on some of the longer walks by the river at some point.

 

As always there were the most amazing flowers, this agapanthus is one of my favourites and I particularly like this photo as it looks like a painting. I am always amazed by the variety of flowers that there are and love the sculptural forms of them.

Beningbrough 7

Beningbrough 9

Beningbrough 15

Beningbrough 13

Beningbrough 11

Beningbrough 5

Beningbrough 10

We didn’t stay for long as Ellen was going home after dropping me off but it was a really lovely little visit and the perfect end to a wonderful weekend away.

I hope that you are having a nice week, I am making some progress with the knitting but have had to do one bit three times now. I am hoping to be able to post some progress shots of both the knitting and the newest Steampunk jacket soon. I am still working on re-sizing it and can then get on to the fun bits of of appliqueing the embroidery.

Have fun whatever you are doing. Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A week of lovely things

I have had a very exciting week, as I mentioned last week I went to stay with Ellen. This  involved a walk in the beautiful Whitwell Woods near her house, a visit to Brodsworth Hall, lots of decorating and gardening (including trips to the garden centre and B and Q), and a trip to Aldi on the way back. I have not had this much adventure in weeks 🙂

Ellen has been going to these woods regularly and they are beautiful, it was a really hot day so we were very glad of the shade. We saw lots of squirrels running around in the paths. They are so cute, Ellen has squirrels at work and sees them every day but I get so excited when I see one.

The social distancing at Brodsworth meant that we were only able to visit the house but it all worked very well. You have to book timed tickets and there were plenty available. We had a lovely picnic in the grounds of the house by the statues.

Brodsworth 4

Brodsworth 5

The formal gardens are very beautiful, especially the different shrubs and hedges.

Brodsworth 13

I also really liked the fern grotto, I have a lot of ferns in my rockery and love the way they grow back each year from tiny tendrils.

There were also lots of beautiful flowers, some we had seen before, and others, like this purple monkey orchid in the top right, which were new to us.

Brodsworth Alison

Ellen thought my choice of blouse was very appropriate for the rose arbour!

There were tea facilities and the shop was open so I was able to support English Heritage by buying some of my favourite curds.We took some gluten free scones, jam and cream with us and had a lovely little afternoon tea in the courtyard.

Brodsworth 28

I have been really wanting to get back to visiting places as I know how much they rely on visitor revenue. I know it may not be the top of everyone’s list of things to save but I really value our heritage so want to try and do as much as I can to help both English Heritage and the National Trust over the coming months. So many things are at risk because of the situation and it is very worrying for all who work in both these places and the retail and hospitality industries. I am very lucky to have a job that has not been affected too much.

As well as the adventuring I got to help Ellen with some painting and a bit of a garden makeover. This bed was full of stones and very hard but we managed to dig it out. We made a trip to B and Q to get some petunias, bizzie lizzies and lobelias which will be very pretty when they flower.

Ellie's garden

I also got to spend time with her very cute cat, Wynn, who I have not met before. He enjoyed his time with us in the garden while we drank gin and tonic and admired our handiwork. He is a rescue cat and cannot go outside on his own due to being poorly so he was on a harness with us.

Ellie's cat

Ellen has also been decorating stones to brighten up her garden. She has made lots of ladybird ones and also some beautiful mandala style ones, so she and I spent a lovely afternoon painting some more of them. Hers are the two larger ones here. They look so pretty dotted around the garden and hopefully we can get some more stones to add to these.

Painted stones

It was such a lovely week, I really appreciated being able to spend lots of time with Ellen as well as get some practical things done. It feels as if things are really starting to feel more normal here, fingers crossed that will continue.

I have some leave coming up this week as well, Ellen will be up again and we are going to go on a little day out for my birthday, just to one of the neighbouring villages. We will also be seeing my brother and sister in law for a visit in their garden. I also plan to work on more knitted animals and I have almost finished the vintage style embroidery. I am looking forward to a few quiet weeks after all the busyness of work.

I hope that you have a lovely week ahead as well. Take care,stay safe and thanks for visiting.

La Marina sunsets and other Spanish delights

Happy 2020 everyone! I know I am a little late with my greetings but have only just got back from my very lovely and much needed break in Spain. I had a horrible bug before I left which lasted well into the holiday so have spent much time coughing and feeling rough but have come back feeling much better.

It was brilliant weather all the time I was there, much warmer than usual with temperatures of 27 degrees just before Christmas so I was able to go for lots of lovely walks in the sun and had a couple of very warm beach picnics on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. I love the fact that it looks like this in January! Look at all blues in this picture.

Spain beach

We also visited the local spa a couple of times which was heaven and I spent lots of time sorting out at the house and sitting on my terrace enjoying the sun.

One of the best things about La Marina are the amazing sunsets over the mountains, I know I have mentioned them before but the sheer beauty every night never ceases to amaze me and I try and go for walks at dusk to see them.

Spain Sunset 7

There are such amazing colours of purple, pink and orange in the sky as the sun sinks behind the mountains.This is one of my favourite areas to view the sunsets and I love the contrast of the cacti against the sky.

There are equally lovely sunrises over the sea but due to me getting up very late whilst on holiday I rarely see those, this picture was taken on my last morning when I had to get up early for my flight home.

Spain sunrise

I love finding new areas to explore on my walks and last visit went over the other side of the urbanisation and found a new verde, or green area, so went there again this trip. I will go back again as I was not wearing proper shoes to enable me to explore fully but I found another one of the cultivated garden areas that people make in these wild spaces.

Spain planting 5

This one was not so much a secret garden as it is beside the road but was still a wonderful collaboration of planting and seating areas by the owners of the neighbouring houses.There was a fir tree in the middle that had been decorated for Christmas as well which was very lovely.

Spain planting 3

I also found a couple more areas where people had converted the verde in the middle of a block of houses into a communal pool area and they looked equally gorgeous with the back gardens of all of the houses looking onto this beautiful shared space.

Spain planting 6

Spain planting 4

I just love wandering around looking at all the houses and gardens and getting inspiration for mine. The plants are so beautiful against the blue sky and there are oranges everywhere on the trees lining the roads. They are too bitter to eat but I have plans to make marmalade and orange relishes when I am there permanently. The bottom two pictures are from one of my favourite gardens, it looks like a mini stately home and there are terraces and gorgeous tiles everywhere.

Spain planting 2

Spain planting 1

Spain planting 8

Spain planting 7

My own house needed some TLC as since I last visited there had been some severe storms so the rain had come in under the front door. My Mum had to treat some damp which meant the loss of a few items that had gone mouldy. I also had a water leak under the front terrace which meant that my beautiful bougainvillea had to be cut down leaving the garden looking very bare. The whole of that back wall used to be covered with flowers.

Spain terrace 7

My Mum gave me some money for Christmas and my Aunt Maureen took me to our favourite garden centre where I bought lots of new terracotta pots and pretty flowers so everything is looking much brighter now.I even have a tiny new bougainvillea.

Spain terrace 6

Spain terrace 5

Spain terrace 4

Spain terrace 2

Spain terrace 1

Spain terrace 8

I also bought a cute new lizard for my wall. My neighbours who live there permanently have offered to water the plants for me so hopefully some will survive until my next visit in June.

I have already taught the first session of the year and am looking forward to this term.Things are a lot less hectic than last term as I only have about half the teaching and am on the the last stage of the doctorate so am going to be planning lots of lovely sewing and knitting which I will post about next time. I have new fabric (some I bought and some given as presents) as I treated myself to some for Steampunk outfits so am going to spend some of next weekend sorting that out and will take pictures of all the gorgeousness for you.

Meanwhile hope you are all well and happy and enjoying the first bit of the new year, although it is miserable weather again here I am very much looking forward to the next couple of months as there will be lots more crafting time. Take care and thanks for visiting.

Historic Scotland

We were staying quite a distance away from most of the National Trust for Scotland properties but did travel across to the other coast one day to visit the historic town of Culross.

We stopped for a cup of tea in a very cute little cafe and as I was looking out of the window I thought it looked familiar and I might have seen it in a film and turned round to see a signed picture from one of the stars of Outlander. I have really enjoyed this historical series, particularly looking at the costume, so I was really interested to hear about the locations that were used for the series.

The two pictures below show how the market square above was transformed for some of the scenes in one of the earlier seasons.

Scotland Culross_outlander

Scotland Culross-Outlander 2

The whole of the town is beautiful, there are such gorgeous cottages along winding streets leading up to the hill with views across the Firth of Forth.

We also visited Culross Palace, really a manor house rather than a place with amazing painted ceilings. No pictures were allowed inside so I only have ones from other travel sites.

Scotland Culross 12

Scotland Culross 11

Scotland Culross Palace

There was a gorgeous garden as well that goes all the way up to the hillside. There were some wonderful thistles and cardoons. The gardens were also used in the filming as they grow lots of traditional herbs there.

The most wonderful thing for me was that there is a Culross Needlework group who have been working on some gorgeous things to decorate the rooms. This picture is from the National Trust website.

Culross needlework - cloth

There were so many amazing examples of 17th and 18th century embroidery including sweet bags, pillows, pincushions, bed hangings and coverlets.

Sadly I have not been able to find many other pictures of their work apart from these few from the Trust website but there is an article about them here. They had also recreated one of mine and Ellen’s favourite pieces, the Layton jacket, which was in one of the bedrooms.

Scotland Culross_crewelwork_jacket_

Scotland Culross_detail_jacket_

With each piece there was information about the embroidery and the stitches used. It really made the place come alive and I hope it is something that the Trust encourages at other properties.

We also enjoyed a visit to Kilchurn Castle which stands in an amazing location at the end of a loch near where my friend lives. It was a gloomy and wet day when we visited but I can imaging the castle in all its glory and its location makes for some amazing photos.

We also met a lovely pair of Highland cows and had a chat to a photographer who works there taking amazing photos in all seasons.

Scotland 1 - Kilchurn 6

This is one of mine from across the loch through the rain in a very nice hotel where we had some tea and a chat to Jake all the way in Japan via the miracles of the internet.

Scotland 1 - Kilchurn 7

We ended our trip with a visit to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House, which Ellen was particularly keen to see as they have built a box around it to preserve it from the weather. I love the Art Deco designs of Charles and Margaret Mackintosh and her wonderful artwork and embroidery.

A really excellent holiday combining all of my favourite things, camping, mountains, historic houses, needlework and of course family and friends. I will definitely be back soon!

Yarndale is taking place this weekend so hopefully Sharon and Sarah will have had a good time, I managed to make a few things for sale so I will be back in a while to post pictures of those. I am having a very relaxing and creative weekend. I was hoping to do a bit of walking but it has been so appallingly wet that I am quite content to stay in and watch the pouring rain from the comfort of my sewing room.

Hope you are all having a lovely time and are not too wet where you are, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

Secret gardens in Spain

I remember reading the book The Secret Garden when I was younger and loved the idea of an undiscovered garden. I have discovered some secret gardens in Spain on my walks and have taken some pictures this time for you.

The older properties in Spain were built in square blocks with the space in the middle of the blocks left undeveloped, known as verdes which means greens in Spanish.

In some places these verdes are also on the outside of the properties in between blocks of houses but in others they are in the middle accessible by footpaths between the houses but not obvious from the road unless you go exploring like me!

Left undeveloped they are just scrub and self seeding trees but quite often people choose to plant areas of these verdes outside their own gardens and create beautiful areas with stones to make beds and succulents and small trees. Often they use bits of pottery, broken flower pots or left over bricks and stones to make things like the bench in the first photo as well.

Spain - gardens 2

Spain - gardens 6

One of my favourites is just up the road from me, there is a large area of secret garden behind one house and smaller areas behind some of the others. The first house in the picture above has a large terrace that overlooks the garden which stretches for quite a way into the verde, the other house below it is just outside their garden wall.

Spain - gardens 3

 

I love the fact that people do this, in most cases it isn’t really seen either by them or other people but it is lovely to come across these unexpected areas of planting. In this picture below you can see the contrast between the planted area and the untouched bit in the foreground of the picture.

Spain - gardens 5

The plants in La Marina are so different to what we have here in Yorkshire, the area is so dry, it hardly ever rains and so most of the vegetation is palms and cacti with colour mainly coming from bougainvillea which have the most beautiful papery flowers and seem to survive in no water at all.

Spain - gardens 1

Spain - gardens 7

These are some pictures that I took while coming home one day, there was the bluest sky and I love the contrast between that and the green of the plants and the pink of this perfect little branch of blooms.

Spain - gardens 8

Spain - gardens 9

There is such beauty all around us and it is good to stop and look at it and really appreciate it.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Delightful dahlias

Well we are just back from our visit to Harewood, it was quite a nice day weather wise so we got some time in the garden.

As always the dahlias were our favourite, these are so pretty and the colours just wonderful.

The gardens were looking really gorgeous as well, I do love all the autumn colours of the trees in the distance. We had gone primarily to see the Victoria costumes and I took lots of pictures of those and the house which I will put in the next post.

Term has gone well so far but I am really busy at the moment with late nights and teaching Saturdays so crafting time is almost zero. Lots of planning projects in my head though and I have made the first of the Christmas ornaments which I will share with you soon.

The Yarndale stall went well, not certain how much I sold yet but had a very lovely comment from someone here on the blog who had bought some of my things so thank you Natalie! Here is the stall and you can see my bags on display at the back.

Yarndale stall - 2017

So just a short post for today, hope you are all well and enjoying the start to autumn, take care and thanks for visiting.

Natural beauty

Ellie and I have just come back from our long weekend camping in North Wales. Originally we were booked into a re-enactment at Conwy but our group had to cancel so we thought we would make the most of the opportunity for a visit to some of the National Trust properties in the area.We stayed at  Conwy Touring Park which was a lovely site with great views.

Since it was nice weather for most of the time we not only got to visit several properties but also go for a walk in the mountains in Snowdonia. We saw such beautiful places so I thought I would share some of them with you.

First we visited Erddig , which is a house that dates from the early 1700s and it has been beautifully restored after falling into a ruinous state in the 1960s. The formal gardens were gorgeous and I particularly loved the less formal borders with thistles, poppies and lilies.

Erddig 2

Erddig 3

Erddig 4

Erddig 1

On Saturday we drove into the Snowdonia National Park to an area known as Cwm Idwal which is also owned by the Trust.

Cwm Idwal 1

Cwm Idwal 2

It was a perfect day for walking, cloudy but not wet and the clouds added to the dramatic scenery. We had a brilliant walk round the lake and then a picnic by a waterfall, just perfect!

Cwm Idwal 3

Cwm Idwal 4

Cwm Idwal 5

In the afternoon the sun came out which made the wonderful Bodnant Gardens look fantastic. The house is still in private ownership and the gardens that surround it are just gorgeous with the most beautiful views towards Snowdonia.

Bodnant 1

Bodnant 2

Bodnant 12

Bodnant 13

We really loved the hydrangea bushes, the heads were all at different stages of flowering and it was amazing to see the colours develop on these blue ones, so beautiful!

Bodnant 10

Bodnant 9

Bodnant 11

A great weekend and I will be back later in the week with some of the lovely interiors from these and the other places we visited.

Meanwhile I am working on some more Steampunk stuff as I want to update my outfit. We have been dressing up in the evenings at events and here is a picture taken by my lovely friend Silke at Tatton.

Alison Steampunk - Tatton - small

I love my top hat and am awaiting a new skirt, gloves and choker that will be delivered this week.I am decorating a pair of boots and velvet jacket with lace to add to my collection of outfits.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

If Carlsberg did gardens……

Our last house on the tour was the beautiful Stourhead. I realised when we got there that I have seen so many pictures of the gardens and just had not realised that this was the house we were visiting, we chose it as it was so close to where the event was.

Stourhead 1

Stourhead 2

The house is a Palladian one and the gardens were created in the 1740s and are some of the most amazingly beautiful I have ever seen. Just look at this view.

Stourhead 5 gardens

Stourhead 6 gardens

I have been having trouble walking recently due to an infection a few months ago so was using my stick and didn’t think I would be able to make the walk around the lake. However the National Trust have manned golf carts for people with reduced mobility so I was able to go on a tour round the lake which was brilliant. There are lots of follies such as this cottage and the temple which is now a wedding venue.

The house was full of art and wonderful treasures like this bird table centrepiece from the 1600s.

Stourhead 4 - bird

And I always love the libraries with the patterned books spines.

Stourhead 3 - books

There was also a gorgeous church next to the lake, a bat was flying around inside and we watched it for ages.The church were having a flower festival to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday and it looked very lovely.There was also a beautifully decorated organ as well with art deco style flowers.

Stourhead 10 church

I was particularly interested in this effigy dating from the mid 1300s showing a nebule or goffered headdress. My very talented friend Kat has made lots of beautiful versions of this for friends in re-enactment.

Stourhead 11 headdress

We really enjoyed the day at Stourhead and it is really worth a visit if you are in the area. At the moment the interpretation tells the story of the son of the owners, Harry Hoare, who was sadly killed in the First World War, events which led to the house being given to the Trust.

Another very worthwhile use of my Trust membership and I enjoy knowing that I am helping preserve all this for future generations.

Thanks for visiting and see you soon!