Probably the best cloisters in the world..

As you may know I do love cloisters and I have seen lots of really beautiful ones in my time. However the ones at the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon were absolutely breath-taking in their splendour.

The decorations carved on the pillars were amazing and all unique, I couldn’t stop taking photos of the way that the sunlight and shadows made contrasts. Just amazing.

Lisbon - cloisters 1

Lisbon - cloisters 2

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The monastery itself is wonderful, my camera was playing up at this point, previous pictures are from my tablet, so here are a couple from the miracles of the internet to show you what I mean.

Lisbon jeronimos_monastery_2

Lisbon jeronimos-monastery

There are other monasteries in Lisbon that we did not have time to visit so will have to go back as well, it is just there are so many other places that I want to go as well, just not enough time for all the loveliness there is in the world!

One of the last places we visited was the Belem Tower, built to defend Lisbon in the 1500s and just gorgeous, beautiful stone carvings and very ornately decorated for a defensive structure.

Lisbon - Torre 1

Lisbon - Torre 2

Lisbon - Torre 3

A really great holiday again and wonderful to spend time with my mum who like my lovely daughter is very happy wandering round churches and historic monuments, so glad to have travelling companions who like the same things that I do.

Have another re-enactment event coming up this weekend, we will be at Peveril CastlePeveril Castle, fingers crossed for fine weather as it is right on the top of the hill with a very long, steep climb up and down. Last year was brilliant weather on Saturday and raining all day Sunday so am praying for sun all weekend.

I am then off to Spain for a bit to see the family, not planning to do much due to the fact that it will be very hot, just lots of reading, going to the pool and spending time with my cousins and my god – daughter.

See you when I get back, thanks for visiting.



Tiles , sardines and another wonderful and wacky palace

Hello everyone

Mum and I really enjoyed our first trip to Portugal a couple of weeks ago, I came back with so many beautiful postcards of tiles as inspiration for quilt designs and some beautifully wrapped fish. Sardines are a big feature of Portuguese cuisine and there were tins of fish for sale everywhere.

Lisbon - sardines

I could have bought loads of these as they were in all of the gift shops and I love the vintage designs.

The city was lovely with lots of beautiful buildings, many art deco in style and the best railway station I have ever seen, the bottom two pictures in this mosaic.

The tiles on the postcards below come from the many tiled buildings that are in the city, some amazing pattern inspiration, if you want to see more look at this link.

Lisbon -tile postcards 1

I have framed this beautiful postcard and put it in my kitchen, lovely windows!

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The main reason for choosing Portugal for our trip was a blog post last year from Gillian Travis  , one of my favourite textile artists, who had visited Sintra, an area where the Portuguese royal family had their winter retreat and built lots of wonderful palaces. She has made some lovely journal quilts based on her trip including one with sardine tins, pictures at the bottom of this post.

Sadly my camera malfunctioned while we were away and though I thought I had taken lots of gorgeous pictures they were all corrupted so have had to resort to finding others from the internet to show you the wonderful Pena Palace  that we visited on my birthday.

Lisbon pena palace 2

I love bizarre palaces, we visited Neuschwanstein a few years ago and this is similar in its wonderful over the top architecture, this time with a Moorish influence.The whole area is so beautiful with rocky outcrops amongst the trees and views out to sea.

Lisbon pena-national-palace 1

I love this picture of it in the clouds, it looks like something from an epic film like a Lord of the Rings movie, amazing to think that this was actually built on the site of an original monastery as a family home.

Lisbon pena palace 3 clouds

We had a brilliant day exploring the palace and the beautiful grounds topped off by a ride down from the palace in a jeep which was very exciting! We had bought round trip bus tickets but the queues were really long for the return bus and there were lots of vehicles dropping people off at the palace and offering return trips. We narrowly missed getting a tuk tuk but were very happy with a cool ride down in the jeep.

We ended the day with a drinks on the terrace of a bar overlooking Lisbon and tapas at a very cute little place where we were the only customers, possibly something to do with the fact that Portugal were playing Germany in the Euro 16.Happily they won so we came back to the hotel accompanied by the cheers and honking horns of a lot of very happy Portuguese. A very memorable day!

We also visited an a great art museum and some found some absolutely amazing cloisters in the monastery, even better than Laycock Abbey so I will be posting pictures of those soon.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Madrid – doors galore!


Hello, hope that you have all been having fun in the last couple of weeks. I have had a wonderful time in Spain, including my first visit to Madrid which was splendid, even by the very high standards of all the other beautiful cities I have visited.

I will have to go back, there was so much to see and I think I could spend at least a week visiting churches.

We did get to see the exterior of a few like these three above and the stunning cathedral, started in the late 1800s it was not completed until 1983 so has a mix of gothic architecture with more modern ceiling painting which was wonderful, such bright colours and patterns.

The exterior was also beautiful.

The visit included lots of time spent just staring up at all the buildings, much of Madrid was built between 1900 and 1930 so there are some wonderful examples of Art Deco and Modernist style architecture as well as the older building like the Palace and the Plaza Mayor at the bottom of these pictures.

I love the detail on these buildings, the plasterwork, turrets and balconies make them all look so special.

We also visited the Palace and the Prado Museum, another fix of medieval art plus some stunning pieces by artists I had not really looked at before, will put those in another post.

The bars were decorated as well as well, with lots of tiling and woodwork, would love to go back and spend more time exploring these and eating some of the food on offer.

Very tempted by all of these different types of gambas, (prawns), on offer here.

Madrid bars - gambas

While exploring and taking pictures of these lovely places we came across a flamenco bar so went back for the show later that evening, what amazing footwork and singing, I would love to go again someday.

The place was just stunning in the detail so I took lots of pictures of my favourite thing – doors. Lots more content for the book I keep joking to the kids that I am going to publish one day, ‘Doors I have Known’, featuring all my favourite old doors.

And there were beautiful lamps everywhere, outside the Palace and on all of the streets, just lovely!

We stayed at the Hostal Bergantin, a great central location about 10 mins walk from all the main sights like the Prado and Palace and with lots of bars and cafes all around. A very comfy room, helpful staff and a great view from the 4th floor of city life! Another good find from Expedia.

Have been busy since I got back as the lovely kids have been here celebrating Ellie’s 25th birthday. Cannot believe she is so grown up, am going to have to start lying about her age soon lol.

Ellie 25th birthday 1

Here they are while we were out for a meal last night, the ‘crown’ is the band from her Frozen birthday cake as however old she gets she will always be a Disney princess!

So am back to work tomorrow for the start of the summer term, looking forward to lighter nights and lovely times as re-enactment begins in a few weeks and there is definitely Spring in the air.

Hope that you all have a lovely week ahead, take care and thanks for visiting.

Tiny Norwegian Houses

Hello everyone, hope you are all well and planning a lovely weekend. The sun is shining here in Yorkshire and we have blue skies which is a bit of a miracle for January so a walk might be in the plans for later on.

I have always been fascinated by tiny places to live, I have plans to buy a caravan when I retire and some of my happiest homes have been small, bedsits and little flats.

I am currently loving the tiny house movement and all the gorgeous things that pop up on my Facebook feed.

Look at this one for sheer inventiveness, it looks like something out of a fairy tale. This comes from a company called Spa Hungary.

Tiny house resized

I have found lots of lovely pictures on this Tiny House blog as well, love the look of this cabin from the Isle of Wight.

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small-beach-house- exterior resized

When we were in Oslo my favourite houses at the Folk Museum were two tiny wooden houses from the early 1900s, built side by side.

The amazing thing about these was although they were probably only not much bigger in terms of floor area as modern tiny houses 9 people lived in one and 8 in the other.

As always it was the little touches that made it home that were so amazing, these houses had been moved to the museum so they were not the original belongings of the inhabitants but still so beautiful.

Three of the family slept in this tiny loft bedroom accessed by a ladder. The ‘bathroom’ was a small bowl and mirror tucked behind a curtain at the bottom of the stairs, and the toilet was out in the yard.

Norway Folk Museum small house 2

There were lots of space saving ides like these hangings for trays.

Norway Folk Museum small house 1

Norway Folk Museum small house 3

And evidence of beautiful embroidery to make the place feel like home.

Norway Folk Museum small house 4

Norway Folk Museum small house 5

Norway Folk Museum small house 6

Both of the houses had little sewing areas with vintage sewing machines. I have one just like this which has its own table to stow it in. Sadly it does not work anymore but is a very lovely heirloom.

Norway Folk Museum small house 7

Some of the family would sleep on the sofas in the lounge.

Norway Folk Museum small house 9

There were photos of some of the families that lived there, all in their Sunday best!

Norway Folk Museum small house 8

Norway Folk Museum small house 10

It may seem strange that people now willingly choose to live in tiny houses but I can see why this is such a good idea and most of the people doing it are choosing mortgage free lifestyles either as their first homes or as retirees.

I do love my own house but sometimes I think it seems very big for just me and is very full of ‘stuff’. Why do I need 10 wineglasses when at the most there are only ever 3 people in my house drinking wine at the same time?

Of course the contents of the craft room are exempt as that is not stuff, that is the retirement fund!

Have had a lovely week at work and also managed to get quite a bit of knitting done, all body parts for one rabbit completed and am now onto the mouse which is exciting as I have not made one of those before.

Hope that you have a lovely weekend and week ahead, will be back with some pictures of the lovely presents I had for Christmas, craft related of course😉

Take care and thanks for visiting.


Norwegian Embroidery

Hello again

One of my favourite parts of the Oslo Folk Museum of course was the exhibition of traditional folk costume, the bunad, and some wonderful examples of the embroidery including Hardanger, a traditional type of whitework from Norway.

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 3

There were examples of wool embroidery on costumes and accessories.

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 2

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 5

These baby’s caps were a combination of wool and redwork embroidery.

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 4

There was also blackwork, excuse the fuzziness of the picture below but I wanted to show you amount of stitching on this beautiful head dress.

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 6

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 1

We also saw a bridal outfit like this one below and lots of the beautiful jewellery that is worn with the costume.

Norway Telemark Bridal Crown -small

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 7

There are more beautiful images of Norwegian bridal crowns here , it really struck me how much the head dresses and the silver jewellery resembled the Miao Chinese folk costume that I saw when I went to the Ethnicities Museum in Beijing.

Miao Chinese Folk Costume

We saw quite a few people wearing their traditional costume on Christmas Eve in Oslo, particularly in the cathedral where we went for the afternoon service.

This website has got lots of photos of people wearing their bunads at an event held at the Folk Museum in 2012.

They were also on sale in one of the department stores, with packs of ready prepared shirt material and embroidery patterns.

I was also very pleased as many years ago when we visited Sweden I bought some beautiful metal clasps that I have used for medieval costume. I only have this one left.

Norway cloak clasps 1

But I discovered that they are used in the bodice of the bunad so was able to buy some more sets, I now have two each of these beauties.

Norway cloak clasps 2

I have been doing a bit of research and thanks to Pinterest have found so much inspiration for Scandinavian embroidery. There are some gorgeous designs here

And if you want more information and pictures about the wool embroidery this is an excellent source looking at costumes from Northern Norway.

Well I will leave you know and get on with some actual embroidery rather than just adding to my to do pile! Will be back soon with the last of my Norwegian loveliness posts.

Have a lovely rest of the weekend and thanks for visiting.


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!

Copenhagen – costume old and new

As re-enactors we spend a lot of time trying to be as authentic as we can when it comes to costume, most of it we make ourselves and so we visit churches to see effigies, look at manuscripts and illustrated bibles to try and get clues about things.

The best source is always a portrait but sadly those are very rare for the early 1300s which is the era we do most of the time.

The Tudor period is luckily a different situation as it was very fashionable to have your portrait painted so there are lots of lovely examples and Mum and I really enjoyed the paintings saw at Frederiksborg Castle.

Although I don’t make Tudor costume myself my lovely friend Kat does and Ellie has her costumed volunteers at Hardwick Hall so I still like to look at these and take pictures for them to use.

One day when I have more time I would love to re-enact this period if only for the blackwork I can wear so all of this research will come in useful.

Just look at these wonderful examples of beaded headwear, lace and jewellery. All of these ladies lived from the mid 1500s to mid 1600s and are members or relatives of the Danish Royal family at that time.

Copenhagen Costume

Copenhagen Costume 11

Copenhagen Costume 12

Copenhagen Costume 13

Copenhagen Costume 14

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Copenhagen Costume 17

Copenhagen Costume 18

What really struck me was just how similar the fashions were to our Tudor and Elizabethan fashions of the time, I had not expected there to be so much similarity across Europe in dress.

We were also very impressed with the way that costume had been used in the interpretation for the children. The whole of the old wine cellar was devoted to an exhibition of the life of Christian 4th of Denmark who was born in 1577 at Frederiksborg Castle.

The best thing about the exhibition was that portraits of the young prince and his family had been used to recreate costume that children could try on.

They were elaborate and very authentic reproductions from the front with splits and ties at the back which would be easy to try on but also in a range of sizes so every child could try on something.

There were boys’ as well as girls’ costume, plus mini armour and a photo area with drapes to make it look like a portrait background.

Copenhagen Costume

Copenhagen Costume 2

Copenhagen Costume 3

Copenhagen Costume 4

Copenhagen Costume 5

Copenhagen Costume 6

Copenhagen Costume 7

This one was our favourite – the portrait at the back shows the King’s family and there are four dresses to try on with head dresses as there were three daughters in the portrait.

This is a photo of the painting from the National Museum of Denmark’s website.

Christian's family

Copenhagen Costume 8

Genius idea and there were lots of children enjoying the displays which also included food displays and an area where they could practise writing with a quill pen and colour pictures of costume.

I showed all of this to Ellie as inspiration for her interpretation as although I have seen costume in properties I have visited in the UK nothing has been done on this scale.

We have our first re-enactment event of the season this weekend at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire  so if you are in the area please come and say hello.

There is plenty to see and do and there may well be dragons involved at some point as the theme for the weekend is the celebration of St George’s Day. It has been beautiful weather here this week so we hope it will continue for the weekend🙂

Have a good weekend whatever you do and thanks for visiting.