when you open a cupboard - I seem to recall having two at one stage, one with wiggly edges that you could create even more bizarre squiggly shapes with! Once carefully preserved in Mum's wardrobe, now tucked away in my study - a "Grandmother's Gift"
I was stranded on my way home today by my car's overheating. We've been struggling with this for some time - by "we" I mean me, my good man, the car and our long suffering garage! It died on the way to work last week, having to be pulled up just past our still dilapidated pier, with a dreadful screeching sound. Today I was on my way home - all set to arrive at 4'ish, but in reality 6:30! By which time I'd watched in fascinated admiration while the rescue man attached all sort of bits of strapping and cable and stuff to the car and winched it onto the wheeled "thingy" to take it to the garage. My car rescue man was delightful and chatted cheerfully on the way back; the garage scratched it's head and said "oh dear" and "well at least if it's this bad we must be able to find the problem". Then I had to catch a train so I had the fun of peering into back gardens as they streamed by, then walk up the hill to home! An adventure ....
I told the car rescue man he was a 21st Century knight in shining armour, which gave him much amusement!
I am experimenting with the machine - it occurred to me that any piece done within a frame would of necessity be restricted, initially, to the dimensions of the frame. So here I have wandered about with differing threads looking at where the edge is within the space delineated by the circular frame. It is mad and uncoordinated because I am just learning. I'm also looking at different threads, experimenting. There is gold, sewed from the back, to see how it worked in the bobbin rather than the needle. I bought some metallic thread needles to try out, and have some outrageous holographic thread I couldn't;t resist somewhere recently. Things might get horrifyingly psychdelic! It reminds me of my endless hours with the Spirograph as a child - there were never enough pieces of paper, nor any of sufficient quality, and the pens were horrendous, but there was a mesmeric rhythmical quality to the activity and you had to be jolly careful. I think I prefer thread!
I'm finding the edges of threads as well as fabric and machine.
A heart appeared as I was stitching - can you see it?
I had to tear myself away from practicing my embroidery as the day was far too lovely to waste on being indoors.
Down in the garden all sorts of spring things are flourishing. Because we have cleared so much overgrowth plants are appearing that we didn't know we had. These tulips were nowhere to be seen last year, this year they graced us with four lovely blooms.
Other plants have increased because they have space and light to breathe and stretch - this single bloom gave me deep pleasure last year, but was the only one on the tree
this year, having cleared a bully of a rhododendron from around it, it is preparing the most glorious show, I can't wait!
Remember these tender little things, taken from where we were building Wol's walk and tucked into the soil with my late mother in law's trowel, my blessing, some compost and a good watering
here they are this year!
whilst yet more are rampaging through the bed at the top of the garden, along with the delicate anemone flowers, which must be preserved when we make changes to the bank they thrive on
Down in the dell, a dead branch of the hazel is playing host to this wonderful bracket fungus - or at least I assume that's what it is, I'm no expert!
and the lords and ladies are about their business with gusto
After a couple of hours I had created a goodly pile of cuttings, but also cleared other areas of mess and muddle. By the time I'd finished I could barely walk back up the garden, as ever I tend to do just a bit more than I should - nothing that a good hot bath won't help though!
This time with the lovely Linda Miller. We had a fabulous day, learnt lots and I actually managed to finish my little piece once I got home and refreshed my memory on how to do that really clever edging. You can see how she does it here. I'm rather pleased with my first finished bit of machine embroidery and can see how addictive it could become, after only two workshops I'm feeling a definite sense of achievement! Thank you Linda for a great day's teaching.
Now how can I find time for this as well as ........
OK, you can't really go on safari in Suffolk, but being a person of limited experience I had neither been in a Landrover, nor seen round a farm until we were given the tour by the Man's second cousin when we stayed there the week before last. It was one day in a week of very enjoyable days.
We stayed near the delightful medieval town of Lavenham, all timber frames and crook backed houses with Suffolk pink lime wash and pargeting on some of the facades.
The pink is rumoured to have come, in past times, from the use of oxblood or sloe juice in the lime plaster and pargeting is a way of creating a pattern in the same. We were housed in a converted milking parlour with nothing but fields and sky all around us. The silence at night was wonderful and I did what I always long to do, stand outside under the sky and gaze at the stars, rather hard to do in towns where the ambient light tends to spoil the show. I was not disappointed, in fact was very tempted to lie down on the grass the better to see, but a liberal sprinkling of frost discouraged such antics!
Suffolk was beautiful, the lanes awash with blossom so thick it looked as though sea foam had been flung against the hedges to hang there sparkling in the sunlight.
We visited Constable country to see where the Haywain was painted. It is set away from the main roads, so very peaceful, and with an interesting display in an adjoining building, which chronicles his life and paintings.
He was Mum's favourite painter, and I thought of how much I would have enjoyed telling her of our visit. She wouldn't have approved of my photographing the roof though, not seeing much beauty in the simplicity of old tiles, hosting sempervivums.
We also found, quite by accident, the very beautiful church of St Mary at East Bergholt, with its astonishing bell cage and beautiful stained glass.
Later that day we went to Sutton Hoo to learn about the Anglo Saxon burial and roam around the site. We tried to imagine ourselves in times long past, reflecting on all the ancient people who had walked the same landscape, both familiar yet so very different to ourselves.
We visited Framlingham, an old market town with a delightful little second hand book shop which had just stocked up on needlework books - I restricted myself to just three. It has a castle which was used by Mary Tudor as a base in 1553. It is connected to my good soul's family through its rather beautiful college, which educated several of his forbears including Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, who was one of three former students to receive a VC. There is also another lovely church, dedicated to St Michael this time, with a faded medieval wall painting of the Holy Trinity,
some very spiky looking angels overseeing the water spouts on the outside
and some more lovely glass.
But what about the safari? Well, we visited Neil's cousin Peter on day two of our stay. He greeted us from the house he has lived in for 62 years, and offered to take us round to see his domain. This included meeting some very fine cows who mooed in delight as their owner escorted us round in said Landrover. During this tour Peter kept us thoroughly amused with a mixture of fascinating local anecdotes, references to past family members and a a delightful tale that began "when I sat next to Prince Charles"! Not name dropping, he's not that sort of person, he has simply lived a full life and been involved in some very interesting things.
Back to Lavenham and we visited yet another lovely church, this one built with profits from the wool trade. This trade was the reason for Lavenham's wealth in the past, and is described and illustrated very well in the old Guildhall which we also visited.
It is a large church for what is now quite a small town, but with the collapse of the wool trade the town languished, which fortunately resulted in the preservation of so many lovely buildings. We wandered round looking at this and that. Neil was delighted to find a little edition of the travels of Mungo Park on the second hand book stall. There was more lovely stained glass, just asking to be translated into some sort of embroidery
I was also particularly taken with the carving in the roof beams. These little chaps scrambling about a vine were just one of the many delightful motifs, crowding around in the dusky heights of the roof, to watch we poor mortals down below.
During our stay we had glorious sunsets
and evening mists across fields which were alive with pheasants, partridges and, one evening, a lonely hare capering to himself in the late spring glow
All in all a very delightful week, which culminated in a visit to Beth Chatto's beautiful garden just outside Colchester. By this time I had quite run out of room for pictures on the camera, so you'll just have to take my word when I say it is a wonderful place to visit. We could have spent much longer there, and hope to revisit later in the year to see how it looks in summer.
One of the Embroiderers Guild members has a significant birthday approaching and we have all been asked to contribute a flower. They will be gathered together to make a little book of floral celebration - a delightful idea, but I had been scratching my head wondering what to do. Watching Jude, Joe and others, creating cloth stories from scraps and whimsies is a huge inspiration, so I rummaged through my scrap bag to see what I could find. With hellebores in mind, I found this, a scrap from a very long ago dress that Mum made for me to go to a cousin's wedding when I was I my teens. With a little thought and a few more bits and bobs scavenged from Mum's multiple button boxes and more scraps from my stash, I came up with this, which will, I hope, give pleasure.
I may add a little more stitching just to bring the front and background cloth together, but I think it's pretty well what I want.
Behind the fabric, you can see a piece of knitting that has been on the needles for rather too long, but will be a lace snood when its finished. I'm really enjoying making it; challenging, but it always makes sense if you pay attention. As I knit, I often ponder on the hows and whens of the craft - someone a very long time ago worked out that you could make a fabric from looping thread together with needles, but from that to the sort of complex patterns that make up, for example, Shetland lace, is a very long step and a wonderful example of our very human ability to take the very simple and introduce artistry and complexity into the mix, creating beauty of all sorts.
Tomorrow we are off the the Norfolk/Suffolk borders for a proper holiday. Best I go start packing I rather think! I'll be quite without access to the Internet while I'm away, and will, weather permitting, get wonderful views of the stars as we're in a cottage that is part of a farm complex in the middle of rural Suffolk. Bliss.
This weekend, in between gardening and being relieved that my teeth were finally getting the right attention, I found myself gazing out of the sitting room window, down the path to where Wol sits. I realised that Raisin - that's him on the left here - was staring fixedly at a point somewhere in front of him Was he admiring the daffodils? Considering whether to come in or stay out? Wondering whether there were any biscuits indoors? Solving the mysteries of the Universe (you never know with cats - they were once attendants of a Goddess after all)! I crept out quietly, through the door and down the path to investigate. As I got closer, I realised to my dismay that the Bravest Mouse in the World was just the other side of said daffodils, sitting on his haunches, staring Raisin down with his little paws and whiskers all a twitch with mouse energy. What to do - what to do? If I moved even closer, mouse might be startled and hop away, leading Raisin to pounce. If I stopped, Raisin might pounce anyway, and I had no desire to watch the Bravest Mouse in the World get eaten. I decided the best thing was to walk, slowly but firmly toward them and see if they would both stop long enough to allow me to remove Raisin from this impasse, meanwhile saying my very best and firmest "NO Raisin" in a loud voice. Mouse ignored me - he was too busy with his cat quelling stare. Raisin, however, sensing there was trouble afoot, thought he'd better grab this meal rather quick. Raisin slinked, I pounced, Mouse sprang away! Hurrah I thought, wrestling firmly with a fluid bundle of indignant, writhing fur, I've saved the Bravest Mouse in the World. I woman handled said bundle of fur into the conservatory - not easy when the door was closed and the handle rather stiff. Placing him firmly in the kitchen, I turned with lightening speed to secure the cat flap. An hour or so to cool his heels while Mouse escaped, I thought. Raisin thought the end of his world had come and paced, wailing piteously from door to door, furious that I'd taken HIS mouse!
Ignoring the overacting, I went back to the garden to repot another tree. After a bit, sure that Mouse would have made his escape by now, and Raisin would have given up the histrionics, I opened the door. Out he bounced, full of feline vigour. Round and round he went, sniffing here, poking there, giving me the best dirty cat looks imaginable. Where's my MOUSE? Aha, I thought triumphantly, he's escaped he has ... hasn't he? .... surely .... but oh WHY is Raisin peering closely at that clump of bluebells next door?
There was a pounce, a squeak and the wretched beast marched triumphantly across the neighbour's lawn with the Bravest Mouse in the World doing his best I'm dead impressions - not very dignified when dangling from the jaws of a cross black cat! My heart sank - perhaps this isn't the Bravest Mouse in the World after all, but the Stupidest. Knowing that prising Mouse from the jaws of death would probably result in terminal injury anyway, I resigned myself to ignoring the playful carnage on the neighbour's lawn and got on with potting my tree - only to realise after a couple of minutes that there was a scuffling and the odd tiny squeak from behind me. Mouse had escaped, was being pounced on, was doing his very best pogo jumps to try and evade capture. Raisin was looking delightedly excited. I raced to the rescue once again, once more grasped the squirming ball of black energy and put him firmly indoors for the rest of the evening. Never mind the wailing, the swishing tail, the bored teenager strop. Mouse must live!
And I guess perhaps he was the Bravest Mouse in the World after all, or at least the wisest. He evaded my best attempts to catch him and put him somewhere safe, hunkered down deep under the geranium leaves where he sat waiting for dark, when all Good Cats are safely tucked up in bed. Perhaps he was a descendant of Hunca Munca who, apparently, came to stay in Hastings, just down the road, a hundred or so mouse generations ago.
I'm very much hoping he's now packed his bags and moved next door to live with Mad Dog Daisy. I'd much rather not clean up mouse remains from the lawn and - Daisy is far too silly to catch a mouse but very good at barking at big black cats!