Nicosia part 2 – more doors, and more textiles!

I am definitely loving the Cypriot doors, and balconies. Again most in Nicosia had the dates on, and all seemed to be from around the same era as in Larnaca, which I found very interesting.

I did find one dated to 1718, and part of the city walls with a gate, but all the others are a very similar style and from the early 1900s.

Being an amateur building historian I can only assume that they was a lot of building in all of Cyprus at this time, and that possibly a lot of older buildings were destroyed to make way for these ones.

Unlike other cities that I have visited there seems to be no specific medieval area, though the Venetian walls do date from the 1570s which is the later medieval period. I did see a medieval hall near the walls as well.

I can only assume that when the British occupied Cyprus from the 1870s there was a lot of building from that point, which may explain the lack of older buildings apart from things such as the forts and castles.

I visited three museums on my second trip. The first was the main Museum of Cyprus ,which had lots of pottery and statues. I am not normally that interested in the different types of ceramics, they just don’t get me as excited as textiles do. However, there was an amazing display that was all found together.

These 2000 figurines were found displayed like this in the sanctuary of Aiya Irini, and date from the 7th and 6th centuries BC. There are mainly soldiers, waggons and horses, and there are only two female figurines.

I love the face on the bigger bull at the front of this picture above, he looks as if he is smiling!

The other really interesting thing was this jewellery display, dating from the Byzantine period of the 6th century. As well as being beautifully detailed it was interesting to see how the designs have not really changed at all, even down to the way we fasten earrings all these centuries later.

My favourites were the winged creatures in the top left picture, they were so detailed at only about one inch tall.

The second place was, The Shacolas Tower , which has a panoramic view over the city and a small exhibition and video about the history of the city. It is well worth a visit as it so interesting to see some of the landmarks from above.

I spotted the church and archbishop’s palace that I had visited in this first photo.

The one below looks towards the occupied part of the city where you can see the towers of the Selimiye Camii mosque that was once a cathedral, at the back right of the photo in front of the mountains. It has been a mosque since the Ottomans came to the city in the late 1500s so is very much part of the very diverse history of this city.

The final museum was the Leventis Museum, which is housed in three restored buildings within the city centre. This was a great museum for giving you a timeline of all of the different cultures that have lived in Cyprus, showcasing Venetian glass, Ottoman jewellery, and having some excellent examples of textiles.

There was a whole display devoted to maps and books written by the many people that had travelled to Cyprus, often on their way to the Middle East. I love old maps and the history that they represent so colourfully.

There was a costume display, and also some excellent examples of Cypriot embroidery and lace.

I think the motifs on this beautiful piece below are pomegranates, which reminds me that I really must get started on my pomegranate goldwork that I have been promising to make for about 20 years!

The lace is described as crochet lace on the label, so I am not sure how some of it was made, although they do show bobbins as well. I think there may be a mix of techniques used.

The embroidery examples were very interesting as well, Cypriot embroidery takes many forms, there is heavy influence from the geometry of cross stitch, but also flower motifs.

This top piece seems to use gold thread as well, as far as I could see through the case.

The final section of the museum looked at the influence of the British occupation from the late 1870s. There were some of the magazines published at the time, and this very interesting book. I would love to have read this to see what the impression was of Cyprus at this time by the British public.

The cross over of fashions was also mentioned, contrasting the traditional dress of the Nicosian people, with that of the Victorians who came to live there.

As with the kimono exhibition we saw recently in New York, it was interesting to see pictures of how the dress became adopted by the Cypriot people. There are few differences between the garments really, in terms of style, but dress was very much linked to social status and religion, so at first there was little mixing of fashions.

I just had time for a short wander before getting the bus back, and found another church, not hard when Nicosia is full of them!

This one was particular interesting for a mosaic of Mary, (I assume), with a distaff spindle in her hand.

Images of Mary spinning are knitting are quite common and I found this interesting blog post with more information and additional pictures.

I will be travelling over the next few days and settling into my next accommodation, so I will return soon with more adventures. I am loving this nomadic lifestyle and really looking forward to the last couple of weeks in Cyprus. I will then be reunited with my beloved Katy Kangoo for further adventures in the UK.

Until I see you next have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Nicosia, and textiles!

I decided to make two trips to Nicosia as there were four museums I wished to visit, as well as have a wander round, and thought it would be too much to do in a day.

The public transport here in Cyprus is excellent, with very regular inter-city buses that are comfortable, clean and very cheap, and it is a great way to see the country. The bus to Nicosia takes about 75 minutes each way and only costs 7 euros for a return.

The first two museums were the ones that I was most excited about so I went to see those on the first visit. I use Google maps, both for planning and navigating when I am there and they were very easy to find. I had a good wander around the area as well exploring and it was interesting to see the extent to which restoration is taking place.

As I mentioned in my last post Nicosia is a divided capital, the border only having re-opened in 2008. For a really good overview of the history of this lovely island, as well as more information about visiting Nicosia, please see this very useful post by Helen on her Holidays, which I used to help plan my trip.

As the city was involved in so much conflict, and is still a military zone, I was expecting to see a lot of damage, and there was evidence of that. During the 1974 conflict 200,000 people were displaced from all over Cyprus. That is a lot of empty houses, and like Larnaca and Famagusta, many have been left empty since then. It was heartening to see that although there are lots of bits that still look like the picture below, there are many that are being restored.

I came across this very interesting street, near the first museum. One end of it was beautifully restored and the other, although the doors were still there and lights strung up, the buildings were just shells with no second floor apart from the external wall. I do hope that they will be able to complete this one day as they are such beautiful buildings.

The first museum was the Folk Art one. This is housed in the old Archbishop’s Palace, right next to the new palace.

The collection is not large but was beautifully displayed in all of the small rooms of the palace, and concentrated on the traditional crafts of woodwork, weaving, lace making, furniture making and embroidery. Although there were no pictures allowed I have found a very good explanation of Cypriot textile crafts on this site here.

I also found some shops selling work in the city, although a lot of what was for sale was mass produced machine embroidery, rather than the traditional Lefkara work from that village.

The new Archbishop’s Palace was very beautiful, and had some fabulous doors. I also saw the official cars, proudly parked in a glass walled garage outside, one of which may be a Rolls Royce?

Next to the palace was another one of the stunning churches, this time with an amazing gold painted ceiling, and the most ornate chairs for the priest to sit on.

The chairs for the congregation are equally lovely, look at those beautiful carved eagles, they were on every single chair.

Although there is not much goldwork in some of the churches, unlike in Spain, there is always beautiful crochet on the tables used for icons or during the services.

The second museum was just behind the church, this is the House of Hatzigeorgakis Kornesios Ethnographic Museum. This is a house, built around a courtyard, which was the home of one of the city officials during the Ottoman Empire. It was built in 1793 and has been beautifully restored.

The first floor is furnished with a stunning painted reception room, amongst other treasures.

I loved the painted chest, clock, and the carved wood that was once throughout the house.

There was also a small costume and textile collection, so I got chance to photograph one of the costumes similar to those that had been in the folk art museum.

This really shows off all of the exceptional Cypriot needlework skills, from the metal embroidery on the velvet jacket, to the lace cuffs and embroidered skirt.

I then had a wander back to the city centre and a quick walk up the famous Ledra Street. As well as some more beautiful old buildings, this is where one of the border crossings are, and it is both interesting and quite bizarre.

I knew the crossing was there, but one minute you are walking past McDonalds and Starbucks and the next there is a little building with blue striped awnings that is a police checkpoint.

Just to the left is a bench with a mosaic Peace sign, which lots of people come to have their photo taken with.

It was a very sombre experience to see the checkpoint, after all that I have read about Cyprus and Nicosia, and is one part of the city I hope will not be around forever.

The city is also famous for still having its Venetian walls, they surround the city centre, and you can see the star points clearly on the map. Many of the spaces below the walls have been turned into parks as the walls themselves are enormous. I found this painting from Wikipedia of what they looked like originally. I love visiting the star forts that are found all over Europe so this was fascinating.

Of course there were also lots and lots of lovely doors, but since I am visiting the city again this week I shall save those treats until next time, as I may being adding to my collection! This is my last week in Larnaca, I am off to Paphos next for the final 10 days of my trip, where there will be even older things to marvel at.

Hope that you are all having a good week, whatever you are doing. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The beauty of Byzantine art

I suspect I may be posting more pictures like this later on, if the churches in Aiya Napa are anything to go by, but have been truly overwhelmed by the beauty of the decoration of the places here.

I have not seen much art like this outside of museums and art galleries, where the icons and paintings have always been beautiful but to see them in real life is just brilliant. What is particularly amazing is that the exterior of the buildings have been very plain. Unlike the ones in Peiya that I posted about previously, these were simple white painted structures.

The first was down by the harbour, a tiny little church which many people were visiting, and kissing the painting of St George and the Dragon that you can see bottom left. We British may claim him as our patron saint but he is actually Greek and his picture is in many places here, and lots of places are named after him.

There is not much left of the old part of Aiya Napa, and the monastery is sadly closed at the moment. There was a lovely bell tower however, next to the knight sculpture that I posted about previously.

I was a little disappointed that the main church near the monastery didn’t look very impressive. After seeing the beautiful stone ones previously I was expecting something similar. However, the outside did not do justice to what was within.

This is what Catholic churches must have looked like before Henry 8th and his break from Rome, so many incredible wall paintings.

This church was built in 1990 so is only 33 years old. Sadly some of the paintings, like these wonderful images of soldiers, are showing water damage.

There was some lovely gold work as well around the icons, one of which was very old.

There was a reference to an icon being found and placed in the monastery, so I am not sure if this is the same one, but she is beautiful, even being worn away now. I bought a small version of her to take home with me.

There were other icons and pieces of goldwork as well.

I think most of the goldwork is on the first two pieces is machine embroidered, rather than by hand, but still wonderful.

Outside the church were some mosaics in a large walled area which led to a little park above the church.

These are something that I haven’t seen before, and they are even more stunning than the paintings in lots of ways, as it so much more difficult to represent people in mosaic. Just look at the detail of the folds on the angel’s robe below.

I love the clothes they are wearing. At one of the earlier period re-enactment events we go to, the Battle of Evesham which is set in 1265, a lot of the re-enactors wear the most wonderful Byzantine costumes like the ones seen here and they are so beautiful.

I have now moved on from Aiya Napa, and am in Larnaca for a couple of weeks, which was another great bus trip. Rather than the inter-city buses, I caught the local one which went through a couple of little towns on the way, which was lovely as I got to see more of inland Cyprus.

As well as more churches, lots more museums and walks by the sea, I am hoping to do some trips to other cities, such as Limassol and Nicosia.

The little museum in Aiya Napa had some fascinating information about the history of Cyprus, as well as some interesting experimental archaeology reproductions of ancient ships.

I have now got some more books on Cyprus, so I am going to be doing more reading during my trip. This little island really does have a fascinating, and complex history, and I am really enjoying finding out more about it.

I hope you are all having a good week whatever you are doing. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

New York, the iconic bits

As Ellen said before our visit, New York is the sort of place that you feel that you know before you get there. So many movies and tv shows feature parts of the city that they are all so iconic.

We did have a list of things that we wanted to visit, and it was very exciting to see things in real life that we have only seen on film. Although I visited New York about 18 years ago, that was only for a weekend, and being so near to 9/11 many things still weren’t open.

We stayed in a very lovely hotel, near to Grand Central Station, which is just as beautiful as it looks, even the ticket booths are masterpieces of art.

Our hotel was called Pod 39, and is similar to ones that I have stayed in before for city breaks, with a bunk bed layout and a small bathroom.

However the beds were very comfortable and the location was excellent. We weren’t really in the room much anyway, and the hotel had a lovely comfortable lounge with games and free hot drinks and water available so we spent some time there as well.

Our first day out was to the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and we could not have had a better day for it. Although it was cold, the sky was a wonderful blue which made for excellent shots of Manhattan from the ferry.

The Statue did not disappoint and the accompanying museum was excellent with really good interpretation, not only of the story of the build, but also looking at how the statue has been portrayed in all sorts of different ways since it was built.

There was a lovely quilt and a Barbie dressed as the statue, which Ellen suggested should be one of my next makes.

They had used the restoration in the late 1990s as a chance to show how the statue was made, with recreations of the moulds that were built for the casting, including a recreation of the statue’s foot.

I didn’t realise that she was bronze coloured to start off with and the green is the patina that has built up on the metal over time. I think it looks a lot better green, especially against the blue sky. We also saw the original torch, which had to be replaced due to its collapsing on itself.

The Ellis Island Museum was equally well interpreted, with lots of the stories of the migrants and their many reasons for coming to America. It was very poignant seeing the large hall where they would wait to be assessed before entry, and the postcards of the numerous ships that brought them from all over the world.

I have always had a huge interest in migration and people’s stories of why they leave their homes and having visited other museums, such as those in Oslo, that tell the story of those who left, it was fascinating to see where they arrived. Being part of a family who have migrated, and who now live all over the world, it is always really interesting to me to hear these histories.

Our second day was to Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum. Central Park is somewhere that I have been to before, and it never ceases to amaze me how large it is, and how great it is to have that space in the city. They also have the fattest squirrels I have ever seen!

The Met Museum was stunning, as we knew it would be. The scale of the collections is amazing, whole Egyptian temples, courtyards of castles from Spain, Tiffany loggias and windows and so much wonderful medieval art.

There were also some gorgeous early 18th century samplers.

However, the most stunning piece in the collection for me was this store of linen, buried with one of the Egyptian queens for the afterlife.

The fact that it is still around, thousands of years after being woven, such simple textiles but amazing that all that work of the weavers centuries ago still exists.

We also spent a lot of time just marvelling at all of the wonderful buildings, the Chrysler Building is a real favourite of mine, but I also loved Penn Station.

This beautiful building that was one of the ones represented by brass plaques in the pavement. I think it looks like it came from a Lord of the Rings film.

New York still had the skating rinks at the Rockerfeller Centre and Bryant Park, and trees and decorations everywhere, so it still looked very Christmassy.

We managed to tick off our food bucket list as well with pizza, bagels, pancakes, hot dogs and burgers, only failing to find a gluten free pretzel.

A brilliant trip and I am so glad that we were finally able to get there. These next few months are hopefully going to be full of us doing things that we have been planning for a long time.

I am loving my winter sojourn in Cyprus so far and shall be sharing the first set of pictures with you later in the week. I have been so lucky with the weather, so have been out enjoying the stunning coastline here.

Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Finding haberdashery heaven

Well dear readers, the travel gods smiled upon us and Ellen and I were able to go on our very long awaited trip to New York in the second week of January. We had been planning this trip since about 2018, when we watched a series called Project Runway. This was set in one of the Fashion Institutes there, and featured regular visits by the contestants to the Garment District, in particular a shop there called Mood.

We had originally planned to go 2 years ago, for Ellen’s 30th birthday but as we know the world got a little crazy and so we put that trip on hold. We had not finally decided to go until just before Christmas, as we were waiting to see if anything changed with restrictions but sorted it all out and had a fantastic time. I had visited many years ago but it was Ellen’s first trip.

As well as buying fabric and haberdashery we wanted to visit some fashion collections and museums, as well as see all the tourist highlights. I will post later about those, this post is just all about the wonder that is the Garment District. It really is amazing how many shops there are, and how much there is available, we were at points quite overwhelmed with what to buy.

We were guided by a particular vlog from someone I have watched a lot over the years, Bernadette Banner, who did a New York Garment District vlog three years ago. I don’t remember the name of every shop we went it but we did visit B and Q trimmings, M and J Trimmings, Pacific Coast Haberdashery, and of course Mood!

This was just a tiny selection of what was in one shop, they had four aisles just of zips!

Ellen was looking for sparkly fabric for a night sky inspired project and had a hard time choosing from all the loveliness, though the $450 dollars a yard fabric got put back straight away! The Garment District is right next to Broadway, so as well as fashion fabric there are endless sequins, lace and feathers available such as these beauties.

We were both very restrained, even though a small fortune could have been spent. I just bought things for very specific Barbie couture projects as it was wonderful to have very small scale braid and trimmings available. I will do a specific post about that and my plans for the purchases later.

Before the shopping we spent some time at the Fashion Institute of Technology, looking both at the display of students’ work and at their current exhibition. The student work exhibition was really interesting, as much for the design boards as for the final creations.

The current exhibition at the museum looks at the interior spaces that many of the world’s greatest women designers lived and worked in. As well as showcasing their designs there were pictures of their salons, many of which no longer exist. It was a fascinating look at these creative spaces. The gowns on display were a very varied selection, and all stunning.

I am going to be working on more Barbie couture when I get back to Spain so wanted to choose two garments from the trip to make in Barbie size. I have chosen this gold one from the museum collection as I love the beaded detail on the neckline. I may not do anything as elaborate as this but it will be the inspiration.

The other dress I have chosen is this one from the film, ‘Mrs Harris goes to Paris’, which I watched on the plane. I love this and was able to get some gorgeous fabric in New York for it. There are so many amazing dresses in that film so may make others in the future, Barbie scale only though! Picture from the above link.

We also saw a great exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all about the history of the kimono, and how it became transformed once Japan opened up to Western fashion, and in turn how kimonos inspired other designers. Very interesting with some beautiful garments.

I am now actually in the Greek part of Cyprus where I am spending some of my winter months of exile from Spain. I am only allowed to stay there for 90 days post Brexit, but that gives me a great excuse to travel 😉

I have a friend who lives here so came to see him, to travel around, and indulge my passion for church architecture with lots and lots of visits to Greek Orthodox churches. There are also stunning coastal walks where I am now so lots of posts of all that coming up.

I finished the blackwork just before leaving Spain and am so pleased with it. Excuse the rather odd blue tint in the first picture, but I am so happy with how it all looks and plan to do some more of these on my return to Spain. It was a very quick stitch, the border took the longest but really finishes off the pieces.

I have also started and finished a mandala for my van. The design comes from a book of embroidery I bought my Mum a few years ago, and it is stitched with perle thread. It has been a very international stitch, started in Spain, worked on in England and the USA and finished in Cyprus. It just needs the felt backing attaching and it can hang in Katy.

I hope that you are all well and happy wherever you are, and if in the UK have not suffered too badly with the extreme weather. I am very lucky to still be in 19 degrees and am making the most of it.

I will be back soon with the other New York post and will update you on my Cyprus adventures as soon as I can. I am staying in a mixture of apartments and hotels so will be dependant on the quality of the wifi. Until next time, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The importance of dress

Ahead of this week’s lace workshop I thought that I would share with you a recent visit to Bankfield Museum in Halifax. I have visited the museum three times before and it is always a wonderful place to explore. Two of the visits have included displays about Anne Lister, now more well known through the TV series ‘Gentleman Jack’, but also for her travels and her diaries.

I first became interested in her as a traveller and I posted about that visit here. At the time there was not a link to her clothing as this was prior to the first series, but a couple of years ago we went back and saw some of the costumes from the first series. The museum is only small but as well as the changing exhibitions it has a fantastic costume gallery and holds the largest collection of textiles outside the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The exhibition this time was of costume from the second TV series. It was also supported by an exhibition of garments from the same period from the museum collection so it was fascinating to see what the costume production team had done with the recreations. The pictures below are from the museum’s collection from that era.

It was particularly amazing to see the very tiny shoes!

I also love the fact that they still have pattern books from that time. Halifax has always been a centre of textile production which is why the museum has such an extensive collection.

These pictures show the costumes from the second series, each costume is also accompanied by a shot from the series so that you can see it in context.

They are absolutely stunning and so detailed in their execution. This below is one of Anne’s outfits and the braid detail on the jacket is beautiful.

The accompanying outfit in this picture was worn by her wife Ann, I have tried to do braid like that on clothing and it is incredibly difficult!

I love the black organza blouse in this red evening gown above.

There is such beautiful smocking on Ann’s artist’s shirt above in the middle picture.

The bottom row of pictures above show dressing gowns and nightshirts, I would love the one on the left, so pretty!

I was particularly fascinated by these reproduction hats with lots of lace.

I think the lace on this one above was made by the same method that we will be using this coming week, of stitching onto tulle, rather than bobbin or woven lace but am not sure.

One of the things that Anne is remembered for is her ‘masculine ways’, she dressed in male clothing, married a woman, (although this was not legally recognised), ran a business and travelled extensively, often to places that were not usually visited at that time, such as Russia. She actually died in Georgia while on that trip in 1840 and her wife had her body brought back to the UK.

For me Anne is a very great inspiration. Not just because she chose to dress the way that she did, but because she was not afraid to express herself, and her desires. Looking at her story one may think that we have come a long way from the days where it was not acceptable to marry and live your life as you wanted, but there is still a long way to go, even for people who are not fighting prejudice.

There are the everyday concerns of women about travelling on their own, even about walking home on their own. As you know this summer I have been travelling on my own around the UK and met many women who are also on their own. People have told me that I am very brave to do this but I just feel that I am following in the footsteps of all the other great women who have gone off exploring. Realistically not very much is going to happen to me at a Caravan and Camping Club site in the Peak District is it 😉

I have also joined a Facebook group that supports women who may not feel comfortable travelling alone, by holding meet ups and offering a space for advice and help with practical things. Many of the members have lost partners, who previously did the driving and maintenance, or are now feeling lonely and don’t want to camp by themselves. It is wonderful to have that support, both online and in person and I am looking forward to meeting up with more of them next summer.

I may now be able to wear what we want without causing concern, I can wear trousers anywhere I want, or have my hair short and display many ‘masculine ways’. However many women across the world can’t do without fear of reprisal. Equally men often face prejudice for wanting to wear what may be considered as ‘feminine attire’. That is why I love the Steampunk community so much as you see such wonderful expressions of dress such as this stunning outfit.

What we wear is not just about keeping warm, or displaying our social status and our ability to afford the fine lace and hand stitched garments of the 1800s. It is about who we are, and who we want to be and here’s hoping for a future where no-one feels that they can’t express themselves the way that they want to. That is before we all end up wearing silver jumpsuits as my 12 year old self was sure was going to happen by the year 2000!

That is why museums are so important as they give us the chance to see things that make us question the way that we live now. I hope that everyone that goes to see the costumes thinks about this aspect as well as admiring the skill of the many talented people who made them.

As well as the workshop this week I am looking forward to another cycle ride, I have been doing between 25 and 30 km each ride which is amazing to me considering the state of my health before I retired. It is so lovely to get out into the countryside and go down to the sea. It is still around 25 degrees each day here, although the nights are a little cooler now so I will soon be using my outdoor firepit 🙂 Although it has sometimes been a bit cloudy here it is clearing up and so the lovely sunsets are back, just look at these colours!

I have been very productive craft wise as well, I will finish the Luna rabbit today and hopefully also the Christmas dress for the reindeer. So I should be able to share some finishes of those soon. I hope that you are all having a nice weekend, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A long awaited visit

During my last week in the Peak District I visited the Silk Museum in Macclesfield. I have been planning to visit for around 15 years but somehow it never got factored into the plans. A wet day at the campsite seemed like a perfect opportunity.

The museum is housed in the former school of art, a wonderful Victorian building where many of the designers who worked in the local silk mills learnt their art. This means that they have a fascinating collection of artefacts such as the Jacquard punch cards and the samples that the students had to make for their assessments.

They have an amazing array of weaving looms and it was brilliant to talk to some of the volunteers who are restoring these. This one below is a jacquard loom and you can see the punch cards on the right and moving over the top of the loom.

This machine made narrow ribbons and there were samples of the sorts of things they wove.

I had a go with the tassel making machine as the volunteers had just mended it, it wound the silk around the wooden bead perfectly.

This loom makes knitted stockings which we still wear for re-enactment, although mine are wool and tied at the knee with a leather thong.

In a separate section was a display of silk printing from the Langley Printworks, some wonderful blocks including my favourite Paisley designs. The blocks were all carved in house to the designer’s specifications a very painstaking job as you can imagine.

Also very interesting were the manufacturer’s sample books, still so vibrant even though they are 100 years old. There were also a few garments, the Macclesfield stripe was particularly renowned as it was woven rather than being printed. A really lovely museum and I am so glad that I managed to visit.

I was busy decorating for Ellen last week, and did a day volunteering for the food bank. I am now back in sunny Spain so will be able to catch up on all of the other blog posts from my summer adventures as there are some other museums and historic house visits that I have done as stops on the way between campsites. Who knows I might even do some crafting 😉 so that this can go back to being a craft blog!

The last 3 months have gone so quickly, I have had a brilliant time but am looking forward to spending a lot more time at my sewing machine and having a few months in the same place before I start travelling again. I did mange to finish all of the Christmas ornaments for friends before I left the UK, backing them with stash that I gave Ellen before I left the UK.

Until next time, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Thinking about heritage

If you are a regular reader you will know how much I love visiting museums, especially where there are textiles involved. My recent trip to Lancashire included a visit to a museum owned by the local council, Towneley Hall, and it was very interesting not just for its collections but also its history.

Burnley has a long textile heritage, much of Lancashire was involved in the wool and cotton trades and there are many mill buildings still to be seen.

This building was a rather grand house however, owned by the same family for many centuries. It had a fascinating mix of architecture, from Tudor long galleries and panelled rooms to a Regency style suite which is now used for weddings and events.

The family who owned the house decided it was too big for them and sold it to the local council in 1901, who decided to turn it into a museum. However they had nothing to put in it so they started taking donations from a number of varied sources.

This has led to a very eclectic collection, some with links to Burnley life and others random. They were no doubt very interesting to the local population when the museum was first opened, who probably marvelled at the mummy case and contents found by an Egyptologist who was a friend of the last owner.

It raises many questions about what are the purposes of museums and what functions they have. There are many debates in heritage circles about what is in our museums, and where it came from, indeed should some things be returned to their original countries?

There were a small selection of textiles from Kashmir which were very beautiful.

How things are interpreted is also interesting, this was very much a ‘things in glass cases’ type of museum, which reflects its heritage. I have been lucky enough to visit many museums of all different types and having a daughter who worked in the heritage industry find all of these questions very interesting.

There were quite a few local exhibits as well including embroidered postcards and banners from the World Wars.

It was a very nice visit and the staff were very knowledgeable and friendly, not only about the collection but also about the history of the hall so well worth a visit if you are in the area.

After Lancashire I met up with my oldest friend, Sue, celebrating 40 years since we first met at Polytechnic. We had a brilliant time catching up, we haven’t really changed a bit!

I have had a quick trip back to Ellen’s to do some car sorting. I got Katy stuck on a gate a few weeks ago but am pleased to say that my car bodywork skills are good enough that I was able to mend the damage, and some more flower stickers covered up the slight difference in paint! Also met up with a few of the medieval group for a day’s event at Nottingham.

I am now at my final campsite of this summer, back in the Peak District for my last week in Katy. I have finally got the cushion inners and have bought a new privacy curtain for when I am sitting in the back reading. I am also trying out Jacky’s awning tent to see how it works compared to my little tent.

I have been having some great walks with stunning views, the drive here was wonderful and I am surrounded by lovely hills again.

I have more museum visits to share with you so the next post will be that or Peak District views. Until next time, have fun, take care stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Millions of needles …

As a keen seamstress I do have my fair share of needles for all purposes but have never really thought much about where they come from. At the Clent Hills camp site there was a brochure for the National Needle Museum in Redditch, just a short drive away, so I thought I would stop off and visit.

The museum was fascinating, it is housed in the original needle factory, dating from the late 1700s when the processes were driven by water. Redditch produced millions of needles, about 90% of the world’s production, and they were exported worldwide.

This meant that there were gorgeous displays made for national and international exhibitions. The companies also made surgical needles and fishing hooks.

There were also some great examples of how needles were used, from the textile group display of current craft on the first floor to examples of vintage craft.

It was fascinating to see the displays of needle packaging and needle cases over time.

If you are in the area it is well worth a visit. We are now back from Whitby where we had a lovely time as always and met some new people. I have bought lots of fab new jewellery for my latest outfits so will put together a post about the event when I can next access good internet.

I am about to leave Ellen’s now and go to my beloved Peak District for a few days. Normal UK weather has been resumed and it is forecast to be around 17 degrees and showers for the rest of the week!

Hope that you have a good week ahead, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

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.