Sunday, August 31, 2008

More 'round and round the garden'

Just a sample of the things in the garden ... statues ...

... woodland walks ... amazing hot tub ...

... a house covered in thatch ...

... a glass water feature ...

... "Tired, love?"

My friend Barbara said this looked like her when she was doing her back exercises - but I couldn't persuade her to show me ...
Well worth a visit!

Round and round the garden - and Blogger!

Aaargh! This is the fifth time I have tried to do a post with more than one picture and each time the gremlins sabotage what I've done. So I'll blog about the pictures I've got and try again tomorrow. There's only so much a girl can take!

This is a view of the Ribble Valley from a house and garden that I've wanted to visit for a long time. It's the 'Old Zoo Garden' at Brockall Village, near Whalley. The site was once a vast 'mental asylum' with 3,500 patients and the garden is built on the 'petting zoo' of the hospital, hence the name. It's an amazing place, full of sculptures and wonderful planting which matches the scale of the site. It wasn't the best of days but the views were amazing. Wish I could show you more! Thanks to the National Gardens Scheme we were able to sneak a peek today.

This is a picture of my friends David and Kathy whose 'love story' makes me go weak at the knees. One day I'll write the script for the Hollywood movie! They now live in a delightful little house which overlooks the canal and they can look out at boats and ducks and lots of other delightful 'traffic'. So romantic.

Perhaps I'll try to pop some more pictures into a new post - if Blogger will let me?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Welcome, world!

This is what greeted me at my front door this morning when I peeped out to see if there was still a world out there. What a blessed sight!

I feel as if I have just made a 're-entry' into the world from outer space! Today, for the first time in over a week, I feel as if I'm a member of the human race. Not a fully paid-up member, you understand, but here anyway.
I'd like to thank all those lovely people who have kept me going with phone calls and e-mails. I have been so weak and wobbly and haven't done anything to 'post' about, except to try to listen to my body for a change and to do nothing.
What I have been doing is making lists - lots of lists. What I need to do now is to tackle them
s-l-o-w-l-y. Not my ususal 'bull in a china shop' way of going about things but with ... patience ... and serenity ... Watch out for flying pigs!
I have lots of things to do with my blog - comments to reply to and awards to pass on - and I will do that as soon as I can. Please be patient with me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

In Dublin's fair city ... not

Oh, woe is me! I should have been in Dublin, having girlie lunches and massages and manicures and ... oh, lots of fun with two of my dearest friends, Mags and Adrienne.

Instead, I'm at home, still in my dressing gown and feeling just a tad sorry for myself.

I went to Chester on Sunday for a course but by Monday morning I was feeling very under the weather - stricken down by the 'dreaded lurgie'. Unable to face food and just wanting to put my head down on the table, I decided I'd better come home.

Thank goodness for daughters, especially mine, who made me drink some nasty 'dehydration' stuff and kept my spirits up.

Felt a little better by Wednesday and packed for my trip and had something to eat - dry toast. Big mistake.

Unpacked yesterday about the same time my plane was taking off.

They do say every cloud has a silver lining and mine is ... I've lost five pounds. That's 'lbs', not '£s'!

The piece I've pictured above is mine ... but only because I bought it. It's a piece by Jackie of some Celtic crosses and I love it and look at it every day. It's complex, spiritual and exquisitely stitched. Like my daughter, it lifts my spirits.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A cure for insomnia?

I discovered a cure for insomnia on Thursday - a visit to the Festival of Quilts! I haven't been sleeping well for some weeks now but after our visit to the NEC I didn't have a problem ... hit the pillow and zzzzz!!!

I loved looking at the quilts but spent the day muttering to myself "mustn't get into quilting..." over and over again. The fabrics on offer were so wonderful that I did want to 'splash out' but managed to restrict myself to a 'gentle paddle' with some batting, a pack of rubbing plates and some 'Inkaid'. (I hope 'Art Van Go' were paying Maggie Grey commission on this as everyone who visited the 'WOW' stand went straight off to 'AVG'. Hope they had more supplies 'in the van' as they ran out just after I'd bought mine.) I couldn't even get close enough to Ruth Issett to say 'hello' as she was, as usual, four deep in salivating viewers.

I also bought some 'Evolon' (this and the Inkaid are for a course I'm going on next week in Chester, run by the CTDG. It's about the 'Big D' - design - which is often the cause of my sleepless nights.) I'm hoping that a computer will assist me and the 'design process' becoming 'bessie friends' - but I'm not sure? Fingers crossed - I'll keep you posted.

I do hope 'Evolon' doesn't join her sister 'Lutrador' in the cupboard marked 'things I'll get round to using someday'. Quite a big cupboard, that one.

I haven't posted for a long time because I've been very busy but I have done some felting this week. Can't post a photo just yet because they're presents for friends.

There's also been lots of 'humming and hawing' about what to make for the Embroiderer's Guild exhibition in October. Can't let you peep at this either because it might all turn out to be a disaster! I've made the felt background for two of the pieces but next comes the 'stitch challenge'. Should I? Shouldn't I? If so, with what - and where? Machine or hand stitching? Do I need this sort of challenge in my life? Obviously I do.

My picture at the top of the post isn't, technically speaking, 'my' picture at all. It's a group embroidery done for an exhibition by Preston branch members of EG. I love it and am 'looking after it' in between exhibitions. (Please also note that I have managed to rotate the picture!) My four-inch square is third from the left on the second row and Jackie's is the same on the bottom row - those mouthwatering cherries!

My next challenge is to put my photographs, etc. on to an external hard drive. When people say "It's dead simple" it usually turns out not to be the case ... watch this space!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A rant - and a bit of a rave

Well, I came on to the computer determined to 'crack' the problem of how to put the lovely awards on and to link back to the people who gave them to me. This stuff is seriously headache-inducing and has made me turn to chocolate! Will have another go tomorrow ....

Posted a picture of a bag I made for a wedding - it's the same technique as the hydrangea cushion (TBC) I posted before, and it brings back happy memories of a lovely day! (If someone can tell me why the photo is sideways-on and how to 'tweak' it you'll make me very happy!) Meanwhile you'll just have to lean to the left!

I did promise a 'rant' - and here it is. (This is mostly for those of you who live in the UK but the general principles regarding 'fashion' may apply elsewhere?)

My favourite store has always been Marks and Spencer. I have bought some stunning outfits here in the past but now when I go in there is absolutely nothing that I want to buy. I have to say that this applies to other high street store as well but it is M&S that I feel has particularly let me down - and yes, I am taking it personally!

As a lady of mature years who still has a sense of style, and an even greater sense of what suits her body shape and size, I search the store for flattering, wearable clothes.

Yes, along with most other people of my age, I've got 'bingo wings' but search in vain for clothes with sleeves - I wore 'puff sleeves' as a child and still feel very childish when I try them on. Stretchy, tight-fitting T-shirts are another 'no no' - how many people, whatever their age, do you see without at least a tiny 'spare tyre'? I see young people with 'muffin tops' walking around 'letting it all hang out' but that's not what our generation want to do. The 'smock' top is everywhere but that takes me right back to when I last wore them - when I was pregnant. And that's a long time ago!

The ethos of 'Per Una' seems to be 'tear it off and stitch it back on somewhere else - as a frill, of course. And as for their 'Classic Collection' ... surely that's only for people who wear clothes to keep warm?

Please tell me that I'm not just being a 'grumpy old woman' (I quite like being one sometimes)? I still have a waist and I don't feel 'old' and I don't want to be a 'frump' - but I don't want to dress like a teenager either!

I love clothes and I do have (just a little) money to spend but find it very difficult to do so these days. I have several friends who feel the same and we voice our opinion whenever we get the chance - but is anyone listening? It appears not.

So this afternoon I made a skirt. Out came the sewing machine and it took less than an hour. No one else has one like it and it cost me £12. Bring it on!

Oh, yes - the 'rave' bit. Last week I (like trillions of others) tried to 'cap' my fuel tarrif. This involved talking to a 'call centre'. The very thought makes my heart sink into my boots. However, after talking to not one, but two, utterly charming and helpful young people whom I could understand I told them I was staying with their company - 'E-on' - for that very reason. Nice to hand out a few bouquets occasionally!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A passion for Klimt

This has certainly been a week to end all weeks! And one with more than its fair share of traumas - hence my not 'posting' for a while. All I have to say is that I am so grateful to all my 'sisters' out there who have been with me every step of the way - you know who you are!

The three with me above are Brenda, Elaine and Fiona when we were at Tate Liverpool today. I have developed a 'passion' for Klimt after a glorious immersion in gold leaf, spirals, mosaics and sumptuous erotic decoration on the one hand, and the delicate, exquisitely drawn faces on the other - and the sheer scale of the Beethoven frieze ... It's left me wanting to know more. Definitely a 'woman's man'! As mythology is 'my bag' I've had a glorious day. (And I could have walked away with the cutlery and the coffee set given half a chance ... ah, well ...

Thursday was a 'playday' when friends Elaine and Jennifer join me for the day and we either set ourselves a challenge or swap techniques. It's a good way to keep up our skills level and try new things - and, as the name suggests, have FUN!

As usual a lot of chatting and laughing went on but we did do some nuno felting. We are being really brave and challenging ourselves to have something ready for the Embroiderers' Guild exhibition in October. Here is the first - and probably still my favourite? - nuno piece. It's a black chiffon scarf which gets a lot of wear!

The technique I am using at the moment (for the four 'Jardin Majorelle' pieces) involves working with pre-felts. It's a technique I first encountered on a Jeanette Appleton course at Glaramara last year. The reason I am still working on it is because of another of my 'amazing' ladies, called Fiona. I was so impressed by her work on the course that we pressurised (bullied?) her into starting a local felt group. We now meet once a month and Fiona's work has been such an inspiration to us all. She is so encouraging to beginners like me and the group is now fully subscribed. You can see her work on flickr at fi@84. You'll love it! She's one of the group in the picture too.

Talking of passion, I thought I'd post a picture of three of the Passion flowers in my garden - they're glorious at the moment. Another flower that's full of symbolism - I think I might have had enough of that for one day?