Medieval art anyone?

Well the trip to Florence with my lovely mother was fantastic!

I think this has to be my favourite city so far – the churches and palaces full of frescos and medieval art, the Uffizi Gallery with even more medieval art, the beautiful buildings and views over the Tuscan hills and the gorgeous food.

View from the Ponte Vecchio looking at the Arno River.

View from bridge

Some of the 80 ice cream flavours to choose from in the shop near our hotel.

Ice cream

I loved the display at this shop in one of the side streets, We came back with pasta, herbs and oils, yum, yum!

Fruit and veg

And there are also lovely shops if you are into that, personally I am not going to pay 10 times the price I can here for a pair of designer sandals but we did a little window shopping and marvelled at what some of the so-called fashions were priced at.

We stayed at the Albergo Firenze, another one of my fantastic finds from Expedia. Although it was rated only 2 star it was a gorgeous room, really good value for money and the location is excellent – 5 mins walk either way from the Palazzo Vecchio and the cathedral so exactly where you want to be.


I have put a tiny selection of pics here, as there was so much to see.

Angel mosaics in the Baptistry.

Baptistry 8

Detail from one of the Madonnas in the Palazzo Vecchio.

Palazzo Madonna 2

Detail from one of the Annunciation frescos in the Santa Maria Novella church.

SMN angel detail

One of the chapel paintings from the same church.

SMN chapel with polyptych

We also saw some beautiful silver and goldwork, this was an altar piece frontal in the museum of the Santa Lorenzo church dating from the late 1700s.

Goldwork at St Lorenzo

Goldwork 2

Goldwork 3

Goldwork 4

Goldwork 5

I also loved this ceiling painting from the Plazzo Vecchio with its depiction of women spinning, weaving and sewing.

Palazzo ceiling crafts

Palazzo ceiling crafts 2

I had seen some of the fresco paintings from the churches before as many are in medieval costume books – look at these two beautiful gowns from frescos in the Santa Croche church.

SC Fresco - gown detail

SC Fresco - gown detail 2

I have come back with loads of prints and a new icon with one of my favourite Madonnas by Filippo Lippi so have put up some new art in my bedroom to remind me of the trip!

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

Italian Textiles

There were some really beautiful things on our recent trip to Italy so I thought I would do a post just about all the pretty textiles.

First of all some lace and stitched household items in a little shop in the very pretty village of Bellagio.Some of this lace comes from Venice,  from the island of Burano.

Italy - lace shop 1

Italy - lace shop 2

Then we went to the town of Como which had a wonderful market and there was this stall with so many beautiful Swiss textiles, the Italian Lakes are very near the Swiss border and there was all sorts of beautiful table linen and little curtains for hanging at your chalet window.

Italy textiles 2

Italy textiles 3

I spent ages trying to decide what to buy (Jake got very bored at this point!) but ended up getting this beautiful table runner which I will use at Xmas.

Italy textiles 9

Italy textiles 8

I have a number of stitched red and white Xmas ornies with similar themes such as this one below so I thought the runner would look good on the lounge coffee table.


We visited  a few (!) churches during the week and since it was Easter there were some icons on display including this one from a church in Mennagio with some gorgeous goldwork.

Italy textiles 5

Italy textiles 6

We also bought some lovely pasta, polenta and spices from a little deli in the same village – on the walls there were these large-scale kitchen cross stitch motifs which were beautifully framed.

Italy textiles 7

Apologies that the picture is not very good, the light and the glare made it difficult to take nice pics but there were about 10 of these collections in the shop which must have taken such a long time.

On our day trip to Milan I came across a fab shop full of cross stitch and embroidery supplies and bought 3 sets of embroidery transfers, there are lots of different designs here including about 20 alphabets and very good value at only 3 euros per pack.

Italy textiles 1

And from a little gift shop in Como not textiles but this cute display of table napkins which are another little addiction of mine, I was very good and didn’t buy any (have a few in stock already) but aren’t they so cute!

Italy textiles 4

I do hope you are having a lovely weekend. I was supposed to be at a re-enactment event this weekend but have got a poorly back again so instead I am having a very nice relaxing weekend stitching and knitting and watching DVDs. Very blissful and the weather is sunny which is so nice to see after all our torrential rain.

I am currently working on the large cross stitch of the Chinese Emperor but am going to start another Spring ornie for me in the meantime as that is a long haul project and I want a quick finish inbetween.

Thanks for visiting and do have a very good week ahead.

Photo Scavenger Hunt – April


Hasn’t the time flown? Nearly forgot to do this as the end of the month seems to have come so quickly.Click on the pic above to go to Kathy’s blog where you can see all the other lovely pics as well.

Most of these were taken on our recent trip to Lake Como in Italy.



We went on a boat trip across the lake from where we were to a little town called Varenna. We were just wandering up the hill on a little path and came across this villa which is now a museum and this was the view from the terrace – wow!

Can’t live without

Can't live without

I hadn’t got the list for this month’s hunt before I went so used the computer in the hotel to check. As soon as my Mum and the kids heard this category they said ‘red wine’ – so here is a pic of the wine we had every evening – even Jake got into drinking it. Though I think I could live without it …. but do love it!



The ferry-boat going in the direction of Bellagio across the lake from our hotel on a very misty first morning.


In and out

This had to be one of my (many) door pics – this one from the Duomo Cathedral in Milan – what a door!



While in Milan we visited the Milanese version of Harrods and this was in the Food Hall , designer water .  I don’t know if you can see the price tag but it says 59 euros – the phrase ‘more money than sense’ comes to mind!

Multi – coloured


From the same store these lovely Pantone mugs – have just bought Jake a couple of the cheap version of these from our local store for his ‘bottom drawer’ for going to University in Sept.

On the move

On the move

Our amazing train journey over the Alps – the Bernina Express train.



The first morning was very dull and misty but that meant there were amazing clouds clinging to the rocks in the village behind the hotel.



Ellie has just bought me this book from my wish list as a pressie for help with her dissertation -she is such a lovely daughter and it did make me smile lots and lots! I love Rick Stein, the series was brilliant and he has a lovely smile as well!



Beautiful wisteria in bloom all along Lake Como.



They would be if you tried to wear them! Miniature chocolate shoes from the Milan store food hall – yours for 35 euros.



The clematis and honeysuckle over my garden arch – just waiting for it all to bloom now.

Lifestyles of the rich and the famous

Well we have had a wonderful time in Italy. We went to Lake Como, somewhere that my Mum has always wanted to go and this was a postponed 70th birthday holiday for her (it was last year but for various reasons we did not get to go away then).

We have been really enjoying our little peek into the ‘lifestyles of the rich and the famous’ (the line comes from a song by one of Ellen’s favourite bands Good Charlotte) and have seen villas owned by people such as George Clooney, Richard Branson and the Gucci and Prada families.

We have been (window) shopping in all manner of lovely places such as Como, St Moritz and Milan and have been very spoilt by staying a luxurious and all-inclusive hotel with fabulous food and wine all week. Jake now says he cannot contemplate a non-inclusive holiday ever again but he will have to as that was a one-off and we will be back to camping and BBQs in the rain for the rest of the year!

We stayed at a very lovely hotel, the Hotel Britannia Excelsior,  in a little village called Cadennabia right in the middle of the lake and as well as 3 organised day trips (into Switzerland to go on a train over the Alps, to Milan and lake cruise) we also did some sightseeing ourselves taking the bus and the little ferries so that we could explore the wonderful villages. It really was picture postcard perfect and I hope that you enjoy these pics in the slide show below.

This is one of my favourite ones taken at the Villa Carlotta which we visited for its beautiful art and gardens. Look at that view!

Italy - villa carlotta 3

And here we are at the same place in a bit of a tourist pose – when did my son get so tall?

Italy - villa carlotta 4

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I also have some lovely textile pics which I will post about separately as I managed to find lots of lovely embroidery (how unusual!)

Thank you as always for visiting – I have now had over 6,600 visitors in one month which is wonderful! See you all soon.

A new page

Hello there

Just back from our fab holiday in Italy which I will be posting about later. Here is a pic of the views that surrounded us all week, this was taken from one of the lovely villas that we visited – it was a wonderful holiday on all counts especially as we went all inclusive for the first time which was very luxurious!

Italy - villa carlotta 1

I have just finished the page about my time in China so hope that you enjoy all my pics.

See you all soon and thanks for visiting.