For the love of God

Our final coach trip recently was to the little town of Gandia, further north again so through the same wonderful mountains as the trip to Javea, and a little inland.

We went to see the Ducal Palace, which dates from the mid 1300s and is very closely linked with the Jesuit order of monks and with one of its most famous Dukes, Francis de Borja, in the mid 1500s. Francis wanted to become a monk but had instead to take up his family inheritance. After the death of his wife he joined the church.

The palace is spectacular and has some amazing tiles. Much of the artwork relates to the story of Francis Borja and his family. The family were related to the infamous Borgias, and the notorious Rodrigo Borgia who was a pope in the 1400s. There were some great inspirations for crafting patterns in the tiles and woodwork as well, that window shutter has a fantastic quilt block design on it!

There was also a little bit of textile interest from the 1500s, the family crest and a priest’s robe.

The ceramics were of many different styles and this painted panel had some wonderful detail, I assume the striped flowers are tulips which I know were very popular from the 18th century.

My favourite room was the wonderful Neo-Gothic chapel, the artwork in there was just stunning. It reminded me of the decoration of Cardiff Castle and Castle Coch, which is decorated in a very similar style. The ceiling was amazing, I do love a starry ceiling!

This was one of my favourite paintings, I do love representations of nuns and she looks so peaceful.

The altar was beautiful as well, the painting around the cross was so delicate.

Such a beautiful place, I could have stayed there for hours looking at all the detail.

The later part of the tour covered the later baroque style rooms, wonderful ornate wood and plaster work and some very impressive ceilings. The guide explained that they were actually painted canvases rather than some Sistine Chapel style mammoth ceiling artwork.

This picture was so sweet and I love the ornate frame. Something like this would be great for blackwork!

The palace went into decline as the family in Spain died out and in the late 1800s it was bought by the Jesuits and restored. It has been a national monument since 1964 and is well worth a visit.

We had time to have a very nice lunch in the old town and admire the cathedral and the town hall.

We also made a quick visit to the museum, which was based in the old nunnery and hospital. There were some beautiful pieces of medieval art there as well that had been collected by the order.

I am very tempted to try and link this order, which unfortunately I forgot to record the name of, with life in medieval England as I would love to add a flower head dress to my nun’s outfit.

Although I love the paintings themselves, it is the detail in the backgrounds that is the most interesting part for me, such gorgeous architecture and landscapes.

There were also some musical angels, I really love these depictions and have only seen them here in Spain.

These were a group of interesting and very unusual reliquary heads, there were about 10 in total.

I am very much enjoying being able to explore much more of Spain, this is such a fascinating country and I am planning to read much more of its history over the coming months. I have read quite a lot about the civil war period, but less about the 1400 – 1600s so will be concentrating on that next. The history is very interesting in comparison to that of the UK, in terms of the many separate kingdoms that existed. The relationship between Spain and its empire is also something that I would like to read more about.

It is lovely to go out and practise my Spanish as well. I am still studying every day and when we go on trips get lots of opportunity to use it. One of the things that I am finding is that I can now understand a lot more. I listen to what people are saying around me and it is starting to slowly make sense which is brilliant and makes me feel as if I am making real progress.

It has been unseasonably hot here, 33 degrees earlier this week, which is more like July weather, so I have been to the pool three times this week. Between 5 and 7 they have half price rates and it is virtually empty so I have the whole pool to myself to swim. So far this week I have done 150 lengths which I am very pleased with. I have been able to take my bike out as well and have been doing some more off road exploring.

I have also been busy with my writing, I am half way through a new writing course with the WEA which is centred on Place and Identity. I am finding the exercises that we do really helpful in stimulating different aspects of the novel writing. I start another creative writing course with them in a couple of weeks, with the same tutor I had in January.

I am so, so happy that I spend my time at the computer doing fun things now, in previous years May and June was all about marking thousands of words of dissertations and essays. I still can’t believe I never have to do that ever again 🙂

I hope you are enjoying life wherever you are, I will be back soon to share some more crafting with you, I have been doing a little bit in between all the adventuring 😉 In the meantime, have fun, take care , stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Prayers and plots

On the Sunday of Kerry’s weekend visit to Worcester we visited the cathedral for the morning sung Eucharist service which was beautiful. The choir sounded so amazing and it made a lovely start to the day. The cathedral is where Ellen graduated all those years ago so I have visited several times before. There is a lot of restoration work being done so opportunities for pictures of the nave and painted ceiling were limited but it looked stunning.

In the afternoon we went to Coughton Court, a Trust property that was involved in the Gunpowder Plot. I have visited before and was stunned to find that they have what is allegedly the nightshift that Mary Queen of Scots wore when she was executed. The house and the family that own it have a long history of involvement in the disputes between Catholics and the state that started in the Tudor era. The property was beautiful in the afternoon sun.

There was a very interesting talk about the plot in the small Catholic church on the property, built in the late 1800s when the Catholics were allowed to build churches once again. It is easy to forget that we have had religious persecution in the UK at many points in our history and that there are lots of things that people have forgotten about the whole story behind the Gunpowder Plot and why it happened.

The church had some gorgeous chairs with central needlepoint panels, there were about 40 of these so definitely a labour of love!

It has an extensive collection of family portraits, which I wrote about in my last post, which are such good illustrations of costume of the era, and some lovely little displays. I loved this little beauty case with the scissors and the little souvenir book.

There were also some of my favourite things to find, like this needlework case and the lace making tools.

There were clearly some dedicated needlewomen in the family as there were some very large projects, most of these were in one bedroom. I have been doing a lot of research for my first novel so have been thinking a lot about the role of needlework in women’s lives. There are very few modern crafters who would take on projects of this size and the amount of hours that must have gone into these pieces is incredible.

Just looking at the thousands of tiny stitches in this seat cover above I can’t help but wonder about how made it, did they ever feel like giving up and how long did it take them? I did some needlepoint many years ago but have not returned to it due to how long it takes, so really admire the dedication of these needlewomen.

I have had a fairly quiet week, most of the crafting has been finished so I will be posting about that next. I have been spending the last few weeks before I return to Spain stocking up on things for the rest of the year that I can’t easily get there. I have more Liberty fabric arriving this week from a new supplier that I have found byLaurenRuth and have bought some more stitching threads. Next week will be mainly sorting and packing up ready to go to Ellen’s the following week, then back to Spain with my new machine and all of my goodies!

I hope that you have a good weekend and a nice week ahead, the weather forecast for the UK is very good so we will all be enjoying a glimpse of sun. What ever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The delights of Worcester

Kerry came down to visit me so we had a jam packed weekend visiting the majority of what the city has to offer in the way of historical and heritage properties. There is such a wonderful mix of architecture here, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian, as well as the riverside walks and the canal heritage so it is well worth a visit.

Saturday was mainly Tudor at first with the Tudor House Museum and Greyfriars, both on the same street where there are other wonderful Tudor buildings, including some lovely places to eat. The Tudor House Museum was originally three cottages and the displays concentrated on the importance of the trades in Worcester, very much textile related with the production of broadcloth and glove making dominating.

The museum has been extensively restored as it has been a pub, and café owned by the Cadbury family in recent times, so there is a nice mix of history in the small space and some lovely reproductions of costume and artefacts as well as the historical collections.

I have previously posted some pictures of the Tudor group at Greyfriars but this visit was for a tour which told the history of the property throughout its 400 some years. This was very interesting as it ended up being used as slum dwellings, with other tenement housing built within the garden. The restoration in the later 20th century was by a brother and sister, Elsie and Matley Moore, who were passionate collectors and she was a keen needlewoman. Therefore there is an extensive collection of beautiful textiles.

This is one of my favourite pieces, above the fireplace. I love the colours used in this piece. I think this is one of Elsie’s own embroideries.

I also really loved seeing the little touches of her life, such as the worn pincushion next to the chair, and the collection of needlework tools in a display case.

The library was also beautiful, in a different way to the libraries in other Trust houses. This was full of well loved books, but still with some beautiful decorations on the spines. I wish all books looked like this today, rather than just name and title on the spine. I think that they look so exciting!

We had a quick look around the city museum as well, where they have a display devoted to Worcester Sauce, as well as some lovely military costume. We were very admiring of the braid on the tunics here.

I loved this painting of a Spanish girl, making me homesick for my adopted country as these type of outfits are still worn for fiestas.

I have been busy booking lots more coach trips with mum so will have more adventures to share with you in May and June, the Spanish do love a good costume and I will be there all over the Easter weekend which is always exciting.

Our last heritage venue was the amazing Georgian Guildhall built in 1721. This is a beautiful public building in the centre of the town which is free to enter, and is used for weddings as well as official business.

The ceilings in the Assembly Room and the Council Chamber were stunning and I can imagine there must have been some amazing events there in the Georgian era. I am of course channelling my inner Bridgerton here as we eagerly await the second series in a couple of weeks!

After a quick stop for tea and cake at the same vintage café I visited last time, we had a lovely wander around the canal basin. We then had a drink in the oldest pub in Worcester, and ended up in a very lovely restaurant called Bill’s. I must admit to choosing it partly based on the décor, (as I did in Edinburgh), but the food was delicious as well.

A very lovely day out and it was brilliant to catch up with Kerry. We will next meet at my first re-enactment event of the season in July. I do have more pictures from Sunday to show you as well, but I will leave that until next week.

I am pleased to tell you that the moses basket is done, and to confirm that I intend never to work with jersey ever again 😉 It is too stretchy and slippery so I am going to confine my future makes to my favourites of linens, denims and Liberty, as well as some nice, non slippery fabrics for Steampunk, and no velvet.

I have already mentioned that I have been spending lots of time reading cross stitch magazines through my wonderful Readly app and I have been inspired by one article to buy a gorgeous pattern to stitch for my sewing room/bedroom in Spain.

It is from a French Company called Jardin Prive and is called ABC de la Brodeuse, pictures from their web site. It is so cute and I love all the Quaker inspired motifs.

It will take a while to stitch but I have also ordered the band to stitch it on from Willow Fabrics as I needed a metre of it.

I also treated myself to this lovely Christmas design to use the individual motifs for future ornaments. I am going back with all sorts of wonderful things to add to my craft stock so will definitely have to sort out my storage as soon as I get back!

This week’s task is to make up the knitted rabbit as we are meeting with my niece at the weekend for a little do, not really a baby shower, but more a family lunch. There will be some baby related gifts though and I am making the nappy cake, out of real nappies and lots of ribbon and cellophane.

I hope that you have all had a good weekend. Have a good week ahead whatever you do and as always, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Caceres – Moorish influences

One of the things that I love about Spain is the history and architecture inspired by the conquest by the Moors. I have only visited Morocco once, (so far!), but love the art and design elements that come from there, and the influences on ceramics and particularly lanterns. If I had the space my little house would be full of hanging lanterns as I love their designs so much.

We visited a small museum in Caceres called, ‘The House of the Arab’, a small building which has been owned by the same family for centuries and which displayed Arab life and culture.

Many of these things have been absorbed into Spanish culture, particularly the use of water and beautiful secluded and tiled gardens. This house was a lovely collection of rooms that demonstrated life before modernisation, including the original well and underground bathing chamber in the house. Absolutely fascinating and well worth the 2 euro entrance fee.

The house was located near to the Jewish quarter so a wander around there led to an encounter with some of the re-enactors who were at the market. We had a lovely chat with them about what they did and watched their fight demonstration later in the day.

There were also several visits to the Arab tea tents, these are always a very popular feature of any medieval market, serving sweetened mint tea, and you get to keep the little glasses they are served in. I love mint tea and have been drinking more since my visit. I use the little glasses as wine glasses as they are so pretty.

We had an excellent journey back from Caceres, I love just sitting watching the scenery and there were some brilliant mountains to look at, some of which I managed to capture in photos which were not too blurry. We also had a beautiful sunset on the way back past our local salt lakes, with my lovely mountains in the background.

I am so looking forward to more adventures on Spanish soil when I return in a couple of months. Today marks my six month anniversary of being retired and it is so much better than I ever thought it would be. One of the nicest things, aside from planning and going on all of these trips, is knowing that I don’t have to come back to lots of e-mails and piles of marking, it makes it all the more pleasurable! I am very, very lucky to be able to have this lovely life.

I am still doing a bit of crafting in between everything else, I have made some Barbie dresses for my great niece and am still working on knitted foxes. My new machine is very lovely, I have not had chance to do much with it yet as I don’t have much fabric here but am looking forward to doing a lot more with it in the coming months.

I hope that you have had a nice week and have an enjoyable week ahead. We shall be carrying on with a little bit of swimming and increasingly more social events as the weather gets warmer.

Whatever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Caceres – a step back in time

I organised the trip to Caceres myself, rather than it being a coach trip, which meant a journey across Spain via Madrid on two of their marvellous and very comfortable trains. I love Spanish trains as they look often like birds which I think is deliberate given the name of the train company.

I found our apartment on Booking.com and it is called Apartmentos Turisticos Caceres if you ever fancy a visit there yourselves.

I have visited many old cities but none with the very unique character that Caceres has. As it was built as a walled city it has not been altered within the walls and so you get a very unique sense of what life would have been like. The centre of the city is crammed with churches, palaces and other historic buildings. There are 98 listed on the tourist map, though not all of them are open to visit, some being used as offices for the city. There are 1300 pieces of heraldry on these buildings, like the one below, which is partly why it is a World Heritage site.

We were staying inside this walled city so every step outside our apartment was like being back in the 1500s when the city was being built. The apartment was not decorated in a medieval style, which I would have loved, but was very impressive anyway, with huge thick walls and views across the city. These photos show the view from the apartment and the narrow streets that surround it.

It is also the perfect setting for a medieval market and I will post some pictures of that next time. We love these markets, and have been to many in Spain and this one was huge with lots of stalls and entertainment.

As well as wandering the streets, just soaking in the atmosphere, we also visited some of the palaces which have been turned into museums. I have some gorgeous textiles to show you as well in a later post, from the cathedral and the city museum which had a brilliant section devoted to traditional dress.

One of the palaces had a beautiful garden to visit, with this amazing old tree. I think it might be a fig tree.

We also spent time in the main city square, the Plaza Mayor, which is just outside the walled city. You go through an archway from the walled city and down the steps, past one of the many defensive towers which you can visit to walk round part of the walls.

As with many Spanish cities, the plaza was so lively with bars and restaurants, as well as entertainers who were with the market. We found a lovely tapas bar just off the square, which we visited twice to sample everything on their menu as it was so good.

It was all so beautiful and more than lived up to my expectations for the trip. You know how much I love medieval art and architecture. Although much of the ironwork was quite utilitarian, being defensive, I did find this beautiful door at the first tapas place we ate at, in the palace round the corner from our apartment.

I am now back in the UK, slightly earlier than expected due to a change in travel regulations, so am making the most of my time here at Ellen’s stitching the last of my Christmas ornaments and having a quiet week. Fingers crossed, (if the Day 2 PCR test comes back negative!), I will be off back to Huddersfield at the end of next week for a catch up with friends.

Meanwhile I will be making the most of time here, Ellen is going to try and teach me to crochet a snowflake, which is something I have wanted to do for ages, so watch this space! I will also be back with more of wonderful Caceres soon.

I hope that you all have a good week and weekend ahead, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Cave house inspiration

So where do you go when you are trying to decide how to refurbish your own cave house? The local IKEA, while great for other furniture, may look a little out of place in something that dates back so many years, so Ben and Amanda have spent many happy hours in the cave house museums and open houses in Purellana and Guadix, about an hour from where they have their house.

I have briefly visited the cave house museum in Purellana, as we stopped there on the way to Seville when we did our coach trip. The picture above shows the view from one of the upper terraces of the museum. It is so stunning, you would never get bored of all the changes in the way the light hits the mountains.

It was lovely to go back for a more detailed look, especially as Amanda and the guide were able to discuss specifics, which was really interesting. They are trying to make their house as authentic as they can and so we spent a lot of time looking at the decor.

Although the ground floor of the museum is the house that the family live in, (you enter the museum though their kitchen!), the upper floors are a fascinating museum of artefacts from the 6 generations that have lived in the house. I loved the vintage sewing machine as a roof decoration!

We also enjoyed a visit to the two ceramicas in Purellana, we bought Ben and Amanda some beautiful reproduction storage jars, a little like these below, for their kitchen as a housewarming gift.

I came back with a suitcase full of garden pots and storage jars as I mentioned in the last post. I will show you those later in a separate post once the pots have been planted up. I have been doing a little refurbishment of my own house so will take some pictures once that is finished.

After a delicious lunch in the nearby town of Guadix we went up to the cave house area for a quick look round. This was the free tapas we had and my starter portion of tuna salad, you definitely will never go hungry here in Spain.

There was an open house to tour as well as the most beautiful church with some very unexpected goldwork, that will have a post of of its own as well later.

The views from the mirador, or viewing point, were amazing. As well as all the houses we could see the corral where they would have kept the horses and the wonderful rock formations that give this area such as distinctive look.

A truly wonderful day out, Guadix is definitely on my list to go back to for longer as the cathedral looked amazing, and it is accessible by train so I can go there by myself one day.

I have joined the gym and spa this week, they have the most wonderful array of jacuzzi pools and jets so we are off there again this afternoon, picture below is from their website.

I now have a monthly membership so will be going twice a week. I also got to take my bike out last night as it has cooled down a bit, it is only 22 degrees today which is lovely.

So I am finding lots of things to keep me busy, I don’t think I will at all bored for a very long time! Hope you are going to have a nice weekend and week ahead, I will be back early next week with more Guadix pictures. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Tenby and the stunning Pembroke Coastal path

I am writing this post on my newly installed Spanish internet, which is making life much easier as I am back on the laptop with a wonderful full signal! I am celebrating one week here today, almost to the hour and it has been a brilliant first week.

I have been to the pool twice, in Mum’s jacuzzi once and managed to officially mark my retirement by spending Monday morning swimming in the sea at exactly the time that I would have been starting the first day of the new term. That was something that I had planned last year and was so happy to get here in time for that. Although I finished in June the summer has felt more like just being on holiday, I now feel officially retired and ready to start my new life here, at least for the next 83 days until I have to sadly leave for 90 days 😦

Meanwhile I am still working through all the pictures from my camping trips as I still have so much more to share with you. After Devon I spent the weekend in Swansea, which I will post about later as I have a series of museum and needlework posts planned from all the lovely things that I have seen on my travels. I then went to Wales, staying a week at the amazing Meadow Farm campsite, on the hill overlooking Tenby with the most stunning views. I loved Tenby, and the campsite, and really did not want to leave there.

The coastal path passes just next to the campsite and that was one of the reasons that I chose the site as well as the views. I had a really lovely time there, the campsite manager was so friendly, I chatted to lots of people and had some wonderful evenings just sitting watching the sun shine on the sea. The picture below shows the view from outside my tent.

It is a beautiful town with the most gorgeous beaches and so many lovely pastel painted houses. I loved walking to and from the campsite and watching the tide go in and out.

A little of the town retains its medieval character, when it was heavily associated with Jasper and Henry Tudor ,later Henry 7th, and I went to visit the National Trust Merchant’s House in the town that dates from that era.

At that time Tenby was the most important port in Wales but changes in the design of boats led to its decline as it has a tidal harbour. Its fortunes were revived as a Georgian resort which means that there are so many elegant houses along the seafront as well as cute cottages from the earlier periods. It also has lots of lovely shops and cafes so is lovely to just wander round.

The first couple of days were cloudy, which was excellent walking weather, so I went along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, with some absolutely breath-taking views of the cliffs. The first walk was towards Saundserfoot, which was a challenging 5km there and back up and down hills and through woodland. I did get down to one of the little bays on route as well.

I will post next time about the other coastal path walks and the boat trips. It really is a stunning area to stay in, and I did not get chance to do all of the things that I had planned there so will return. Part of my reason for doing this tour was to look at potential places to site a caravan and Tenby is very much on the list. Devon was lovely but Wales has my heart and from a practical point of view is more accessible for my nomadic summer life of festivals and events.

Until next time hope you are all ok and having fun. I am back to the beach tomorrow for more swimming as it is still very warm here. Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Let’s start as we mean to go on…

Well the first week of retirement, or permanent holiday, as I have decided to call it went very well. We were not able to join the others for the full weekend of the event at Nottingham Castle, due to restrictions on numbers who could camp. However, we did have a very nice day out, complete with lunch in a fabulous outdoor garden at a restaurant and bar in a Georgian House in the middle of Nottingham. One of the very good side effects of the restrictions is that people have created wonderful outside spaces and I am very happy that we can sit and eat and drink in such pretty places. The outdoor lifestyle is what I love most about Spain and it is lovely that we can now do more of that as well.

It was brilliant to see our friends, we have not met for 2 years so we did have some hugs and a lot of catching up to do. The event featured lots of different groups and was a nice gentle easing back into re-enactment. I will hopefully be doing an event in August if all goes well.

We really enjoyed the trip to Oxford, very busy and we we packed so much into the two days, lots of walking around finding filming locations from the Discovery of Witches series as well as visits to the Ashmolean and the Natural History Museum/Pitt Rivers Museum.

The colleges were all closed due to Covid but we did see All Souls and the Bodleian as well as the Bridge of Sighs.

We especially loved the Pre-Raphaelite rooms at the Ashmolean, the detail on the painting was incredible and there were many of our favourite artists there.

The Natural History Museum was just as fascinating for its architecture as well as the contents, with an amazing glass ceiling and pillars carved from different rocks representing various flora and fauna. And who can resist a dinosaur skeleton! Jake used to love these when he was younger and both children were big fans of the ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ series.

At the Pitt Rivers I loved the textile elements of the collection, especially this sewing box and these amazing beaded costumes from North America. Also absolutely fascinating were garments made from seal intestines, especially the designs of what we would now recognise as as waterproof jacket that dated from over 100 years ago.

There was also a boat trip along the Thames, where we learnt a lot about the buildings along the river and the importance of rowing to the colleges. There was a very old ‘party barge’ moored on one of the banks which had been restored. I would love to go back and do some of the towpath walk one day. The blue boats are a steamer company whose boats were involved in the Dunkirk ships evacuation.

We also had some lovely lunches and dinners, including a surprise visit to the gorgeous Comptoir Libanais where the food was as good as the decor.

We stayed in a cute little log cabin Air b n b, which was located at the end of a garden not far from the city centre. We are trying out all sorts of different types of places to stay and could have happily lived in this one as well. It was a lot bigger than the last cabin by the sea, with an attic as well as two separate rooms and the living space.

Our final day was a trip to Blenheim Palace, which was just as spectacular as I had imagined. It was a lovely day for a wander round the gardens and a picnic by the fountains.

We also met a falcon, who was there for pest control rather than as a display of hunting skill. Her presence scares off the pigeons!

We went on a tour of the state rooms where there were some wonderful patterns on the walls and ceilings. I loved the library with the statue of Queen Anne.

There were also some beautiful portraits, particularly the ones of Consuelo Vanderbilt. I would like to read more of her story and have added some books about her to my wishlist. Lots of Steampunk inspiration there.

I also volunteered at Ellen’s new workplace, the Bassetlaw food Bank, which was a really interesting and enjoyable day, meeting her colleagues and getting to see what actually happens. I will not be able to commit to much volunteering in the future, but would like to help out as much as I can with fundraising, or anything that I can do remotely.

I have had two lovely leaving dos as well, I was very lucky to be able to meet up with some of my work colleagues in person at a local bar and it was lovely to share memories with people I have in some cases worked with for nearly 20 years. I was given some very generous gifts, including money which I am going to use for an interrail ticket, when we are able to travel again.

I also met up with the Wool and Wine group for a celebration and they very kindly gave me a gift voucher which I have used to buy some new camping supplies. I have spent time sorting my new camping bag, as well as decluttering and have lots of lovely new kit for all of my adventures.

I hope that you have all been having a nice time and have a good week ahead. Take care, have fun, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Steampunking ahead!

We had a splendid time at Kelham Hall, a couple of weeks ago. We got the chance to go inside as well this time, and it was beautiful. We are going to be lucky enough to be visiting again later in the year for another event, so are very excited about that as well. We also have two other Steampunk events confirmed, Blists Hill Victorian Town and Whitby in July so I had better get cracking with the outfits for those.

I have already started one of them, it is still in its formative stages but all of the fitting has been done so I am hoping to get some time to work on that this week before Ellen comes up. Then we are going to Bombay Stores to try and get some fabric for the other outfit for Whitby. This will be loosely modelled on the Princess Meera ball dress from the Aquaman film. Ellen is making an Ariel outfit so we are going to have a sea princess theme. More about that in a later post.

We did not have the chance to take many pictures of other people, it was quite wet when we first got there so we were all under umbrellas and a lot of the inside time was social distanced and not really appropriate for asking people to pose.

However we did get a couple, of this wonderful purple outfit and this very creative big top inspired one, I particularly loved the top hat. The elephant that had been in the middle had run away as Nellie the elephant did. Actually it was too heavy with the elephant so had to be removed. The creativity of Steampunk always amazes me and I have seen this woman’s wonderful costumes before at Kelham.

We did a little photo shoot of us inside. I had very little time for a new costume so just went with the embellished dinner jacket and red skirt and a new hat. I went for a memento mori theme, and a Victorian undertaker inspired look. Luckily I had lots of the lace left over as I originally ordered 5 yards for the velvet jacket that was abandoned. I also got chance to use my bargain handbag from last year’s Retford charity shop haul at only £1, and my new walking stick which has a very cool dragon head on it.

The interior of Kelham is beautiful with lots of gothic features and painted ceilings. It was built by the same architect who designed the St Pancreas Station hotel and is an amazing place. I am so excited to visit again and spend more time there. The website has a whole gallery of wedding pictures including some wonderful Asian weddings. I have been to one once many years ago and the guests’ outfits were so stunning.

We were able to attend an exhibition of Star Wars inspired work and a brilliant talk on building a droid. There is a Steampunk Star Wars group called Rebel Steam, so at some point Ellen and I wish to make costumes based around that theme. We loved this steam powered mobility scooter as well – so creative!

This week marks my last full week of marking, ever! I also have a lot of meetings finishing off the year and then it is the final countdown. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but it looks like we have a re-enactment event on the weekend that I retire. So fingers crossed I will be able to spend that Friday evening around a campfire with some of my very best friends, who I have not seen for so long, celebrating that! I am very excited and hope it all gets to go ahead.

Meanwhile I am on the final stretches of small animal construction, there has been lots of things to do around the house this week, and I have been having a social life 😉 so progress has been slow, but hopefully they will be done soon.

I hope that you are having a good weekend, whatever you are doing. Take care, have fun, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The wonder of water

It has been a glorious day today so I have been up to my favourite Butterley reservoir, watching the Canada Geese’s goslings swimming with their parents and admiring the sun sparkling on the streams and spillways. I love water and feel happiest when near it, it calms me and I love the sounds it makes and the way it moves, when both natural and man made.

Our recent trip to Alnwick Gardens had lots of amazing water, the entrance water display was stunning, I did not manage to catch it when all the jets were working at once but I could have watched it for hours. It was wonderful, just sitting having a up of tea in the sun, so grateful to be out enjoying ourselves.

Ellen has taken up gardening since the first lockdown and she is doing lovely things to her little garden again this year, she will get all my pots and my chairs when I leave here so that will add to the joy. We had a brilliant morning admiring all the other water features there and the gorgeous planting of clematis and tulips.

The final joy was finding a blossom orchard with adult sized swing chairs which was just brilliant, so we had our picnic there.

We had a quick stop at Barter Books in Alnwick before going on to Durham. It was amazing, we were in awe of how many books they had, not to mention the cute little trains running round over the till area. It used to be railway station so this was an homage to its former life. Needless to say we left with a very large pile of books. I love reading, since I was a small child it has been a constant source of comfort and joy to me and I am packing up many boxes of books to ship to Spain.

Durham was very impressive, we managed to visit the cathedral twice, once for evensong, sadly no inside pictures allowed due to the restrictions, and had a good wander round. It would be great to go back when all of the museums and the castle are open.

We finished our trip with a detour for a picnic and a brilliant sunny walk at Fountains Abbey and Studely Royal Water Park, a beautiful location for this massive abbey complex and the adjoining Georgian water gardens. As always I love looking at the shapes that the stonework makes against the sky. I sometimes think the buildings look even more lovely as ruins, because of the contrast of stone and blue sky.

It was another excellent trip away and I am on the final countdown to many more. There are only 26 days left of me being employed and then it is freedom to travel (at least in the UK hopefully). I am busy sorting out some new camping supplies, don’t tell Ellen, but I am buying a new tent 😉 as if all goes well some of the summer will be me off on some little adventures. Jacky and I have also booked some camping in Devon with her van.

I have the final two weeks of marking to finish and then it is all nearly over. Then I will get back to far more crafting, so many things to make, including finishing the new outfit for Steampunk. We had a great time at Kelham so will share those pictures with you all soon, I bought some lovely lace for the new outfit and Ellen and I both got new hats!

I hope you are having a lovely time whatever you are doing. Take care, have fun, stay safe and thanks for visiting.