Mainly Sky

Hello and a Happy New Year to you all. I have had a lovely time with Ellie and Jake and then my Mum in Spain and hope that your festive season has been good as well.

I love looking at the sky, I love the way it changes and provides us with the most beautiful colours, one of the things that I love most about Spain is the wonderful sunsets every night, pink and orange as the sun goes down over the mountains.

Here is a gorgeous sunset behind the palm trees from one of our trips out.

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We went to Clumber Park on Boxing Day as Ellie was working, she and I had been for the morning service on Christmas Day which was lovely but this was Jake’s first visit to Clumber.

We went to see the Kitchen Garden which is part of her responsibility as well as the Chapel and I took lots of pictures of the sky above and through the beautiful greenhouse.

 

These pots are also her responsibility, at some point she has to sort and catalogue them all!

 

clumber-10

We then went on the fairy trail, just as the sun was setting, there were lots of different parts of the woodland decorated with clues for children to find treasure and it looked beautiful in the winter light.

I also took this picture with the Chapel in the background which I really like.

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I did try to get ‘seven swans a swimming’ but alas they were too quick for me but here are a few on the lake anyway.

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It is very dull here today but the mists over the moors look beautiful, good job I am not planning to go out but instead to spend quality time in the craft room before I am back to work on Monday.

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!

On location

Hello again. The third property we visited on our little National Trust tour was Laycock Abbey. Apologies as for some reason I can’t add links at the moment or would have put one in for the information.

The whole village belongs to the Trust and it was very pretty with lots of little honesty stalls outside all of the houses selling jams etc. The Abbey itself is beautiful, mellow stone which looked so lovely on a summer day.

Laycock 2

I love all the details on the stone and spent quite a lot of time taking pictures of things as inspiration for future patterns. The quatrefoil is a design that is common on older buildings and I love the stained glass window above the main stairs that now forms part of Fox Talbot’s Great Hall with its wonderful painted ceiling.

Laycock 8

The Abbey has been used as a filming location for lots of things, most famously for the Harry Potter films. We visited the Warner Brothers’ Studio Harry Potter experience a couple of years ago as a Christmas trip and we saw the sets for things like Snape’s potion class which was filmed here in the crypt.

All very exciting and very apt as it was William Henry Fox Talbot, the owner of the house, who took the first ever photograph using a negative in 1835. I think that he would be amazed how much we now document our lives on social media and the way that we use photos, such an essential part of our lives.

That is another reason why I love visiting Trust houses, not only are you sometimes seeing things from great events like the Mary Queen of Scots chemise but also from what must have seemed at the time quite a small thing, a great personal achievement for him but I doubt he realised the significance to the world.

He was also friends with other inventors and there was another great piece of textile interpretation in the dining room. This tablecloth showed the dishes from a dinner with the plates representing the guests, amongst whom was Charles Babbage. He was the creator of the Analytical Engine who along with the daughter of Lord Byron, mathematician Ada Lovelace who worked with him on the idea of programming, gave us the beginnings of computing.

Laycock textile interpretation 1

Laycock textile interpretation 2

I find it absolutely amazing that two men at a dinner table all those years ago set in motion the technology that allows me to sit here in my lounge on my laptop blogging and uploading pictures for you. It just makes you wonder who is sitting somewhere right now with the next idea that will revolutionise things and what it will be.

Laycock cloisters 4

The cloisters were my favourite part of the place, I love the stonework and the way that the light and shadows contrast. I think they are such wonderful and spiritual places, even with lots of visitors in them you can sense how peaceful they would have been when this was an abbey.

Hope that you all have a good week ahead, I am spending the rest of the weekend working on a very special piece of embroidery that I won’t be able to reveal for a while, Ellie’s best friend from University is getting married soon and I am making a ring pillow for them!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Tudor splendour

Hello, hope that you are all well and happy. I am very much so as I have submitted the work I was doing for my doctorate, hurrah , which means more sewing time, double hurrah  🙂 and I am going to Simply Solids this afternoon for another of their sewing courses.

Add to that the fact that I am off to Lisbon on Tuesday with my lovely Mum and my lovely son has come home from University , (for about 9 months until he hopefully goes off to teach in Japan), so I am quite possibly one of the happiest bunnies around!

We had a fab weekend at Tatton as well, the rain held off until the battle on Sunday so we only got a little bit wet and we met up with lots of old friends and Ellie and I marshalled the battle for the first time rather than water carrying which was very exciting. I could show you some photos of all of the excitement if I hadn’t filed them somewhere safe!

So on to the pictures from the National Trust visits Ellie and I did a while ago. First stop was Charlecote Park  in Warwickshire, a beautiful Tudor manor still owned by the family.

I love Tudor buildings with the red stone and the twisted chimneys and this had a beautiful setting as well. It was brilliant to see so many families enjoying the place, it was the school holidays and there was a teddy bear’s picnic on the lawn. Lots of future National Trust members hopefully who will bring their own children and help care for these places forever.

Charlecote 5

Charlecote 6

In the Great Hall there were some brilliant costume pictures, sadly too high up on the wall to take detailed shots but in the dining room there was wonderful wallpaper and in the library some very ornate needlepoint chairs that looked Spanish in origin.

Charlecote 8

I also loved the plasterwork on the ceilings, more inspiration for that book of textile patterns based on historic buildings that I am going to write one day!

Charlecote 7

Charlecote 13

Charlecote 14

There was also a lovely display of the more ordinary textiles in the laundry and the kitchen with embroidered traycloths and some rag rugs which had been made by children as part of a craft event.

A very lovely place to visit on a sunny English afternoon! Well will love you and leave you now as have to go and choose the fabric for the class this afternoon, we are making vinyl project bags so hopefully I will have a finished bag to show you soon.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

It’s a tough job but someone has to do it!

 

Hello everyone

I started my week’s leave last Friday with a trip down to stay with Ellie in her new flat which is very smart and co-ordinated.

She is feeling very grown up as she has now got a full set of furniture all of her own since she moved into a totally unfurnished place and has gradually acquired everything she needs.

It was also a chance for me to see where she works, you may remember that she got a new job in November, still working for the National Trust at Clumber Park where she is Chapel and Collections Officer. Which means she is in charge of this beautiful place!

Clumber chapel 1

Clumber chapel 2

The setting is amazing, a drive in past the most gorgeous rhododendrons all in bloom, they are my very favourite plant and there were hundreds in the park.

Then into the stable block where her office is, right next to the clock tower and the courtyard with the café. Her office window is the one above the bay window in this picture.

Clumber office 1

Clumber park 1

She has a view down to the lake with the geese and swans. At the moment there are daises everywhere which makes a very pretty carpet.

Such a beautiful place to work and the chapel is stunning, especially as it was built as a private chapel in the late 1800s by the 7th Duke. It has ornate lamps and wonderful wood carvings of angels and saints.

We were there for the Requiem Mass for the Duke so got to participate in the full service with incense and candles as well!

The light coming in through the windows was beautiful.

Clumber chapel 11

Clumber chapel 12

I love all the little details as well such as this door lock.

Clumber chapel 13

There was also a bit of lovely ecclesiastical embroidery, an alter cloth and this banner as well as a couple of beautiful paintings. Apologies as the light was not very good in the side chapel for this picture.

Clumber chapel 14

The main house was demolished in the 1930s as it was too big to maintain, another one was due to be built but sadly due to the war and economic issues it never was so Ellie and her colleagues have been responsible for a new project this summer to try and recreate what the house would have looked like.

They have laid out ropes to make a floor plan and installed furniture, books, games, crockery and information signs telling people what the original rooms looked like and inviting them to come and make themselves at home.

It has been a great success, Clumber gets a lot of families visiting as there are great walks and bike rides and a camp site and it was brilliant to see everyone enjoying the installation.

We then went to Ashby de la Zouche castle for my first event of the season, it was lovely and sunny so got a little pink and had a great time catching up with everyone.

Will post some more pictures of that in another post. Meanwhile there is some work on my doctorate to do, started the research for real this weekend so am going to do some writing up!

Thanks for visiting and see you all soon.

Norwegian Loveliness

Hello everyone and a belated Happy New Year!

It seems like a very long time since I was here and while sorting out my pictures from Norway had to create a new folder, Blog pics 2016. I wonder what lovely things this folder will hold by the end of the year.

I hope that you all had a very good festive season, we did and have thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Oslo with lots of museums to see.

I am so glad that my family enjoy the same things that I do and it was great to spend so much time with Mum and the kids.

And we had snow! We got there and it was warm and sunny and all the snow had melted and then it snowed on the last day which made it all very white and pretty. I love this pic of the kids walking through the Palace park in the snow.

Norway Kids in snow

As well as the wonderful Folk Museum, which was my favourite one, we saw Viking boats that had been recovered from ship burials, the Polar explorer ship Fram that took Amundsen on his successful expedition and the Kon-Tiki and Ra rafts that Thor Heyerdal sailed in.

We did go on a boat trip as well round the little islands in the Oslo fjords one sunny morning, I would love to back to Norway in the summer one day and spend more time visiting the beaches and small islands.

Norway Boat Trip

The Folk Museum has many houses that have been brought from all over Norway and  been rebuilt there , a lot of them are open and furnished and it is just the kind of social history that we love.

I have another post lined up for you with pictures of the insides of my favourite houses, and some embroidery of course, but these are a few of the beautiful buildings.

Norway Folk Museum houses

Norway Folk Museum houses 2

This was the wonderfully painted inside of a little red guest house with a built-in bed.

Norway Folk Museum houses 3

Norway Folk Museum houses 4

Norway Folk Museum houses 5

I love the carving on these houses and storage barns, life must have been so hard for the farmers in rural Norway and it was touching to see that care that they took in decorating with painted chalk designs and ‘lace’ curtains made from newspaper as it was cheaper than fabric.

You can see why Norwegian immigrants to the USA were so successful in their settling of the mid-west being used to the harsh conditions at home. I found the wonderful picture below from this museum website of settlers at their prairie home.

Norwegian immigrants house

I was amazed to learn that one-third of Norway’s population, 800,000 people, emigrated during 1825 to 1925 mainly due to rural poverty in Norway and the chance for a better life overseas. I expect there was a lot of quilting going on both sides of the Atlantic for warmth and comfort in these houses.

My favourite building was a 13th century stave church, it was an amazing construction, reminiscent of a Viking ship with the decoration on the roof.

Norway Stave church

Norway Stave church 2

Norway Stave church 3

Later in another museum we saw some wonderful carved doors and crosses from other stave churches.

Norway Stave church cross

Norway Stave church door 1

Norway Stave church door 2

You know how much I love doors and that is an amazing door by any standards!

The rest of Oslo was also full of gorgeous buildings from the early 20th century with decorative roof turrets and ironwork.

Norway City Centre

Norway City Centre

Norway City Centre 3

Our hotel also dated from this period, it was called Cochs Pensionat and as well as being in a great location at the side of the Palace park within easy walking distance to the city it was also near lots of bars, shops and supermarkets which was great as we had a little kitchenette in our room.

Norway Hotel

This is a very similar room to ours and it was great to be able to have breakfast and a couple of meals in as well as a lovely lazy Christmas day watching films and playing games.

Norway hotel room

A very good choice again, well done Expedia for such efficient booking of accommodation, what would I do without you!

Now it is back to normal, watching the rain from my sofa and crafting while watching TV, not that I am complaining it is as always, a lovely way to spend the weekend.

I must do a catch up post on things done in 2015 and goals for 2016 post. One thing is for sure that I have done far less quilt blocks than I should have but more embroidery so it is all good!

Take care and thanks for visiting, see you soon for more Norwegian loveliness!

A woodland wedding with wellies!

Hello everyone

I can finally reveal the wedding outfit that I have been working on for so long as we celebrated my brother’s wedding this weekend. The jacket and shirt were finally finished with three days to go before the wedding!

We had a brilliant time, without a doubt one of the loveliest weddings I have ever been to, full of personal touches from Ben and Amanda that made it really special and very memorable. There are not many weddings where the bride gets to drive a tractor as part of the day!

Amanda works at Oakwell Hall, a beautiful Tudor house and country park so most of the wedding took place there. They did have a short legal ceremony at the Registry office, here are all the family with them after signing the register.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 1

Amanda had chosen a gorgeous silk brocade for me to make the wedding jacket from, with black silk collar and cuffs. I also made a linen shirt and Amanda’s Mum stitched a blackwork acorn design on the collar and cuffs.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 17

Ben and Amanda's wedding 10

Ben and Amanda's wedding 11

Ben and Amanda's wedding 12

The most important part of the day for them was an exchange of rings in the woodland that is part of the parkland, Amanda helped to build the faith circle where we sat for that ceremony.

It was brilliant, starting with Amanda in her tractor leading all of the guests from the hall to the circle where we were all given bubbles to blow as the bride arrived.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 7

Here are the kids and their cousins Sam and Sarah enjoying the bubbles.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 8

The ceremony featured wooden rings that Ben and Amanda had made themselves and very moving vows where they promised to be each others ‘forever friends’ and go on adventures together.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 9

We had all been asked to wear wellies or colourful boots for that part of the ceremony so here are mine, my sister Jackie’s and Ellie’s boots in the leaves.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 13

Ben and Amanda's wedding 14

Ben and Amanda's wedding 15

The reception took place in the barn which had been decorated with bunting made by Amanda’s Mum Eileen and sister Kate. Ben and Amanda love wood-turning and had made all of the serving platters for the cheeses as well as a mushroom for each guest as a wedding favour.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 4

Ben and Amanda's wedding 3

It was Ben’s 50th birthday as well as their wedding and so they had a woodland cake with models of their two cats on and a wedding cheese cake, they also made all of these little mice to decorate the cakes.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 2

Ben and Amanda's wedding 16

The evening ended with a fantastic firework display, one of Ben’s favourite things.

A wonderful day made all the more special by the fact that they did everything themselves, with help from friends and family, from the food to the decorating all of it was very much the way they wanted it to be.

This is one of my favourite pictures from the day, Ben in a very fetching apron serving the canapés!

Ben and Amanda's wedding 6

The kids have gone home now so it is all very quiet and I am looking forward to a very relaxing afternoon catching up with some Christmas stitching. Have a happy week ahead, see you soon and thanks for visiting.