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.

Lakeland Heritage

The Lake District is an amazing place and although now it is probably best known for tourism, which was popularised by poets, writers and artists such as Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, it has its roots in farming.

One of the National Trust properties that we didn’t visit last time we came is Townend, a farmhouse dating from the 1600s. The property is near Waterhead, at the top of Lake Windermere.

The Browne family who owned it didn’t change it, and didn’t throw anything away. The house stayed in the family until the early 1900s so you have an incredible collection of Lakeland heritage, including maps from when the area was known as Westmoreland.

One of the most remarkable is the collection of books, over 1,500 on all topics. It is particularly significant as these were collected by an ordinary family over many centuries, rather than being a stately home or museum collection. Thus there are many books on farm practices and cheap short story publications from the 1800s. Few pictures available as they need storing away from light but a great little display about the collection.

There was a wide variety of textile heritage though, most relating to the household furnishings and the obligatory samplers produced by young girls as part of their sewing skill development. There was also a fascinating little weaving loom, possibly belonging to a child?

The house is set in a wildflower garden in the stunning Troutbeck valley so is well worth a visit for its location alone, up more narrow winding roads!

I also visited St Martin’s Church in Windermere, which also dates from the 1600s and which has been restored to show the wall paintings that were covered up after Henry 8th broke away from the Catholic Church.

There was a very interesting curtain which was made of stencilled fabric. The information also referred to this as being taught to WW1 veterans as part of their rehabilitation and furnishings were made using this technique to provide employment for them.

It was a really unusual piece of textile heritage, for its history as well as its design.

I have some more textile heritage visits planned in a couple of weeks when I return to Derbyshire.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little glimpse of Lakeland life. It is such a gorgeous area and well worth visiting. Until next time have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Granada, mother nature and man

I am firmly convinced that one of the reasons that Granada, and specifically the Alhambra, is so stunning, is due to the contrast between the man made splendour and the amazing beauty of the Sierra Nevada backdrop.

This is the second time I have visited the city, both in the same season with snow on the mountains and it is the most amazing sight. My first trip, around 20 years ago, was going to be my only trip to Spain as an adult but I fell in love with the beautiful houses and coastline here and the rest is history!

We stayed in a beautiful apartment, Apartamento Capitania found on Booking.com, in a fantastic location near the cathedral, with shops, tapas bars and taxi and bus stops all minutes away. It was also excellent value for money, costing us each 30 euros a night. It had a gorgeous view of a small church and a square with a few bars around.

As always the architecture was stunning, so many beautiful ‘wedding cake’ style buildings, balconies and wonderful doors!

On our first day we went to the Albaicin, in itself a World Heritage site for its steep winding roads and Moorish architecture. This trip was for Mum’s birthday so she had planned everything that she wanted to see.

The houses are, as often in Spain, amazing in the way that they have been constructed on top of each other up the hillside, with beautiful roof gardens and lots of wonderful tiles and doorways. We were aiming for one of the royal palaces but stopped off at the numerous miradors, or viewing places to get closer and closer to the views of the Alhambra with the snowy mountains behind it.

This was the view from the restaurant where we had a delicious mango and goats cheese salad and fried aubergine with honey.

The Palacio de Dar al – Horra was lovely, a very understated version of the Alhambra, with again amazing views across the Albaicin and the Alhambra.

After that we wandered down into the valley, with the assistance of Google maps, and around the mountain to the area of Sacromonte, famous for its cave houses and the flamenco venues that the gitanos or gypsies who have been here since the 1700s developed. We are now quite knowledgeable about cave life since our visit to Ben and Amanda so really enjoyed looking round the cave house museum there.

The best bits were all the textiles and the old photos of the people who lived in this complex. There was a perfect little one person cave that I would be very happy living in, complete with sewing area! In this cave there was the most fascinating rag rug, made from triangles, unlike the other strip ones I have seen and it was wonderful to be able to see all the different fabrics that had been used.

An amazing day and a perfect start to our trip. We had pre-booked tickets for the Alhambra for the following day so to see so much of it beforehand was just perfect.

I will be back with part two of the trip soon. I have made a promise to myself that I will develop a design from one of the Alhambra pictures so if you have any favourites in the next post let me know in the comments.

As always have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Stepping back in time, in many respects

This post is going back to some of my travels this past summer, to tell you about all the loveliness from museums that I did not have chance to post about when I was travelling. As you may expect it involves re-enactment and historic costume 🙂

Our first trip was a very special day out to visit our friends in our re-enactment group, Swords of Mercia, most of whom we had not seen for about 2 years. We were not able to join in the full event at Nottingham Castle, due to number restrictions because of the virus, but did have a very lovely day in Nottingham.

We found a beautiful location for lunch, completely by accident, just wandering through the city centre. The Nottingham Secret Garden is one of the many venues that have adapted brilliantly to outside eating and drinking, despite the British weather and we had a delicious tapas lunch there. The interior rooms are also beautiful, though I don’t think that they are open at the moment.

The encampment at the castle was smaller than usual, due to the need to keep distancing but it all worked really well and our friends had a lovely time doing both show and tell and small fight demonstrations. There were people from lots of groups there, all representing different time periods in the castle’s history.

We have some hugely talented people in our group and both of our leatherworkers have spent the down time due to the pandemic refining their skills. Symon and David both do exceptional work making scabbards and bags. These are some of David’s beautiful sword scabbards. If you ever need anything like this, or a decorated leather bag, or a beautiful bespoke hair ornament do visit Buffy Historical Leatherwork and Lionhead Leather.

We were also excited to visit the newly refurbished museum within the castle. After a quick stop in the café for a gluten -free cream tea and a look at their fabulous button wall, we headed for the lace and costume displays.

Nottingham is famous for its lacemaking, firstly hand made lace and latterly machine lace so the displays were fascinating. There were some gorgeous garments from the last 150 years.

They also had lots of samples of lace and the jacquard machines and hole punch cards that were used to make the fabric.

One of my favourite things was this panel commemorating World War 2. A small but really well thought out exhibition with lots of information and very interesting pictures of the lace makers and their craft. Well worth a visit.

We have been invited back to Nottingham Castle to do another event this coming July, fingers crossed we can all go this time, so looking forward to it. Hopefully all of the events that are planned will be able to go ahead this year.

Jacky has been doing some work to the campervan as we go away again in a couple of weeks which is very exciting. I have had a busy week with trying to perfect reversing into parking spaces on my driving lessons, continuing with my very enjoyable creative writing course on Zoom with the WEA, and working on my novel. I have now written 11, 958 words so far and it is really starting to take shape. It takes me back to the days of writing the doctorate, thankfully over a year ago now. It so lovely to be writing things just for me and I am thoroughly enjoying the process.

I hope life is good with all of you, and that you are enjoying your weekend whatever you are doing. I will be back soon with more lovely museum textiles so until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Caceres – traditional costume and incredible embroidery

As I have mentioned there were many palaces in Caceres that have been turned into museums. One of the first that we visited was the Fundacion MCCB, set up by two local residents Mercedes Calles and Carlos Ballestero. As well as some great photography and paintings by local artists about fiestas within the city, there were also some gorgeous artefacts and paintings.

The one that I loved the most was a painting of a young girl, wearing the most amazing traditional costume, she looked so happy that I was thrilled when I managed to buy a small mirror with the image on in the gift shop.

There was also some information and personal items from the couple, Mercedes was born in 1915 and clearly had a very interesting life. I would love to find out more about her, and as I am planning to write a book set in Spain one day, may research more about the area in the future.

One of the other palaces held a brilliant collection of traditional costume from the surrounding area. What was especially lovely was that there were photos of people wearing the costume next to each item.

This was particularly interesting when looking at how they sat wearing the very full skirts. This is where ethnographic sources like this are so vital.

This wonderful hat was used for everyday wear to shade workers from the sun, rather than just being for fiestas.

This photo shows the local people at the opening of the museum in the early 1920s. Even though the picture is blurry it is wonderful to see them all in their best clothes for the occasion.

There were so many lovely embroidered costumes from the surrounding villages, each one slightly different but all with an emphasis on colour. It was really interesting to see this, as previously I have only seen the sorts of costume that are worn at the large fiestas, which are more based around what looks like more formal hooped dresses.

The following day we were lucky enough to see the local folk group who still wear versions of these costumes, complete with matching masks at the moment!

The linen work was incredible, I could have been there for hours just looking at these pieces. They were so finely done and it was very interesting to see the same motifs come up as I have seen in many other countries, and reinterpreted in a lot of Quaker inspired cross stitch designs.

As well as other displays of weaving, spinning and embroidery, there was the ubiquitous Singer sewing machine.

I love seeing these in museums, it always makes my little heart so happy to see them and to think about the women who may have used them. I have more pictures from another Caceres museum to show you but will save those for a later post.

Life here with my sister has settled into a nice routine. I have finished two creative writing courses and have started two more. One is a group class with the WEA using Zoom and I am really enjoying it. I never wanted to have a Zoom meeting ever again, after last year’s teaching. However, it is much more fun when you are a student, rather than the teacher worrying about losing people in the ether. There are lots more courses that I like the look of so will do more in the future. It is lovely to study informally with no deadlines or pressure, and I am finding that it is really helping with the progress with the first book.

It has been very cold here, though sunny, so apart from trips to the gym I have been cuddling up with cat, writing, knitting and sewing and generally enjoying the peace and quiet. Jacky and I have just booked an amazing trip to Scotland for August, we are going to Loch Lomond, Skye, Harris and Lewis, and North and South Uist, following in the footsteps on many of my favourite travel vloggers. We also have camping in the Peak District booked for February half term. So we have lots of exciting adventures to look forward to!

I hope you are managing to stay warm, or cool, depending on which season you are in. Have a good rest of the weekend, and a great week ahead. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Bright lights, big city!

Happy New Year to you all, let’s hope 2022 is a year when we can do the simple things like meeting up with family and friends more often without worrying, and plan things without the risk of them being cancelled.

I have been lucky enough to meet up with lots of people over Christmas, seeing all of my ex work colleagues and friends in Marsden before a lovely time in Edinburgh over Christmas with Ellen. I am now staying with my sister in Worcester for a few months and start driving lessons again in a couple of days so wish me luck!

I will post later about Edinburgh but wanted to show you the lovely things in Manchester first. This was a last minute decision as I was going to stay with my brother, but due to the fact that he had to isolate when coming back from Spain decided to go there for a little tour of some of the places I had never visited.

I stayed at the Salford Quays development in a very cute little room in an Ibis Budget hotel. This was only a short tram ride from central Manchester and I got to admire all of the amazing tower blocks on the way in to the city.

The area was created out of the old dockland area from the era when ships used to sail as far as America via the Manchester Shipping Canal, as Manchester is a long way from the sea. It was one of the first urban regenerations in the early 1980s.

Within the modern shopping malls there were some lovely photos of the old docks and the workers are commemorated along the walkways with art and poetry. I spent a lovely couple of hours wandering around the new areas admiring the Christmas lights and the sheer scale of the buildings there.

My first visit was to the Manchester Art Gallery. Their fashion collection is still being developed but they had some beautiful art depicting costume, which I always love looking at.

There were also some very interesting other exhibitions looking at the role of ‘unskilled workers’, particularly during the pandemic.

That afternoon was a visit to the Manchester Jewish Museum, which is housed in the old Spanish/Portuguese Synagogue which was so beautiful. I have never visited a synagogue before so it was very interesting and very well interpreted with oral history recordings from the people that used to worship there.

There was also a separate museum with the history of the many people who had come to Manchester to settle, which was again full of the personal stories and belongings. I love museums like this that tell the history of ordinary people, it is so important that their stories are not lost.

I was also lucky enough to come across The Portico Library, a beautiful little subscription library that was founded in 1806 and had a quick look around. They had a lovely exhibition on ‘polite literature’ and they also have some resources on fiction writing that I am going to follow up on You Tube.

The final visit was to The People’s History Museum, which is a museum about the history of democracy and has many really interesting sections on the struggle for votes and worker’s rights. Some of these I remember well as they happened during my teens and early twenties. They also had a really interesting collection of banners, from the simple home-made ones of the 1970s and 80s to the very elaborate ones of the Victorian and Arts and craft era.

It was a lovely couple of days and it was nice to visit some of the smaller, less well-known museums in the city. After a busy few weeks I am looking forward to a nice quiet time here. I have bought a new sewing machine with lots of decorative stitches and am looking forward to trying that out this coming week so you never know there may be more evidence of crafting on the blog very soon!

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

Let’s start as we mean to go on…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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