Sunday, 27 May 2012

Evening light

As I was taking in the washing, I heard excitable small fox noises from the bottom of the garden. I slipped down very quietly to see if I could see them but they were well hidden in the undergrowth, yapping and scrapping and scuffling about. The evening light was so lovely though, that I stayed there a while just to see what I could see,

Low sunlight on the bole of the birch tree
the astrantias glowing quietly to themselves
buttercups cupping the last drops of light in their bowls
Blue eyed Marys given an interesting twist by Picasa
the grass, capturing light in glowing stripes
 Queen Anne's Lace dappling the shade
and up by the house  a vivid burst of red to cheer on the way in for supper

Fly away home

One of the things I hate about being a cat owner is the fact that they are, by nature, predatory beasts. I love them dearly, they are companionate but spoilt creatures, who give less to their owners than dogs do, ... perhaps ... but also demand less and are usually peaceable creatures after the busyness of dogs. BUT they do kill. I'm not sure The Bravest Mouse in the World hasn't, since, met his end. But today I won ... Looking out of the bathroom window, I could see Rum, on the lawn, with something small, brown and feathered looking dead on the grass. I managed to chase him off, by shouting very loud NO! from the window, at which the poor bird also took fright, but fluttered to desperate cover under the chair, while Rum backed off. I hotfooted down stairs and into the garden, but as soon as the frightened creature saw me it moved again, there was a chase, a lot of flapping, rather a lot of firm shouting, and bird managed to dart under some spreading geranium as my yells distracted Rum. I stalked, trapped, subdued and manhandled Rum into the house - securing four doors with him hanging tense and ashamed in my arms. Raisin came up to see what all the fuss was about, so he was secured indoors as well. I went very cautiously back outside, to see if the bird was still there, took him, oh so gently from his hiding place, with a towel round his back to stop him panicking. Then released him into the air. He flew away to deep cover in trees, missing some tail feathers but with a second chance in life.

Hope he'd had enough time to recover.

Cats are grounded for an hour or so!

Good morning your Ladyship

After a wonderful sunset last night, today dawned hot and sticky once more.
As I was getting dressed, I glanced out of the window upstairs and caught site of something large, striped and buzzy fossicking about in the garden. "Hmm" I thought "that's a jolly big bumble bee - I must investigate", so scurried downstairs (yes, properly dressed) and grabbed my camera.
Not a bee at all, but this exotic looking visitor.
She is a Broad-Bodied Chaser, "Libellula depressa" according to the British Dragonfly Society, and what a lovely lady she is, perched, sunning herself, absorbing all that lovely energy atop our rhododendron
I do hope the cats leave her alone

Friday, 25 May 2012

Garden loveliness and a transformation

Poppy come and gone, poppy come again. I love the contrast between the vivid orange of this California poppy and the gentle fading blue of the Himalayan one - they seem to epitomise their home countries; California, hot and zingy, full of light and energy; the Himalayas cool, ethereal and rather spiritual
the wonderful rhododendron just keeps on flowering, great flouncy heads of sugar pink around which the bees buzz in drunken delight
it chimes well with a pale purple variety nearby - we are so familiar with these lovely plants it's easy to forget their charm. As a child I would pluck the flowerheads from the one in Ganna's garden to suck the sweetness from their base
 down in the dell, Queen Anne's lace is once more filling the space with foamy white nodding heads

While all this loveliness is happening in the garden, up at the house, there has been a total transformation, of a similar enormity to the one that conjured a conservatory from a tatty patio.
This, pictured below just before we moved in, has been acting as a utility room.
It is just off the kitchen, was once the outside with a small coal store at the far end, you can just see the wooden hatch where the coal was delivered, behind the boiler. Previous owners covered it in with the most astonishingly Heath Robinson affair of corrugated plastic, misaligned wooden beams and an asbestos "wall". It rattled and squeaked with the slightest movement of air, the floor was a patchwork of grotty concrete, cracked tiles and tatty lino, the glass in the side door was cracked and there was a rather smelly drain, impervious to bleach and source of nocturnal visits by a tribe of cat food eating slugs, who always melted away by daybreak and who couldn't be discouraged by the most inventive of means.
Now it is a lovely bright space with glass roof and proper vinyl flooring which feels soft and warm underfoot. The end window was moved to the side, there's a cupboard and new clean countertop, plenty of shelf space to put "stuff"
and the corner next to the kitchen door now has windows looking out on the side space, destined to be a courtyard herb garden (one day!) instead of the previous, very unpleasant asbestos construction
We are, as you might guess, delighted with it. It is full of light, warm but not too hot and, joy of joys, quiet!
Thank you Phil!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

cherries, ripe cherries!

I've been experimenting again; wanted to see how the cherries on dissolvable fabric might work. I thought I might as well do several as there was room within the little hoop for more than one. I traced the design on with waterproof pen, then stitched the outlines and filled things in. I was so pleased with the result, and keen not to waste the rest of the fabric, so traced off a poppy from a book of Art Nouveau flower designs and had a go at that as well.I'm really pleased with them both; the camera has managed a reasonable job of picking out the different reds. I'm waiting for the Man to return from Cricket at Lords before putting it all in water to see if it all holds together; too much fun not to share.

Gosh! This is enjoyable ....

We've spent some good time in the garden this weekend, finalising the very fine compost bin, already being put to good use. We had been using one of those great big plastic mesh delivery sacks during the year, all the usual stuff chucked in and occasionally turned and tossed about. Now it is all ready to be transferred into the proper bin. A goodly portion of it had rotted down already and will help the rest to get going.
The blowsy pink rhododendron is really flowering its socks off this year. Last year a lot of the buds were frost damaged, this year it is awash with blooms,
so much so in fact, that we have a heart of flowers - can you see it?
It all works really well with the colour of the maple leaves
a beautiful tree, given to me at least 11 years ago by Mum, kept until I knew I was stopping. It really appreciates being in the ground now, having had a year of free root run, it is rewarding us now with these wonderful finely cut leaves.
The meconopsis has yet more delicious paper thin blue flowers. The colour and the fine hairs on the stems remind me of borage
and the tulips indoors, gifted  have reached the absolute end of their beauty, translucent, veins of purple and pink flowing across the surface like spider webs of colour
or dark and mysterious in the glimmering dusk, still holding a trace of memory of light in their petals

Friday, 18 May 2012

something for Her Majesty

Our regional challenge - note how I just casually drop in the "our", when in reality I'm such a new girl! Anyway, the regional challenge for the local Guild is to produce a piece of wearable art for the Queen's Jubilee. We, that is the members, are creating a series of  sort of "slips"; separate bits of embroidery, on a street party theme, to be carefully stitched to a dress that is being loaned to us for the project. In the past slips were on canvas, usually on a horticultural theme and made to be applied to hangings. We'll display our contribution, along with those of the other groups in the south east, and will be judged on the grand regional jamboree day out.You'll remember last year's was my somewhat whimsical Beezeyeview which does at least mean I've been a member for nearly a year, since that was for last year's challenge. I have been tasked with producing an ice cream dish with three scoops, some wafers and a cherry on top! The design has been provided along with clear instructions on how to proceed.

I've hunted down some fabrics in the right colours, and made a start with the dish. I did a couple of trials on some spare fabric - very useful as they helped me understand how the stitching would react with the fabric and allowed me to adapt the way I was going to work..

Talking of being helped to understand - my advice - please take it - don't include your finger in the piece you're stitching on the sewing machine, it's very unhelpful!

Anyway, inspired by the glitzy piece I did for Brodie, I thought a little celebratory sparkle might be in order since this is for a Jubilee celebration, so I've very carefully done a bit of reverse applique. First I got the fabric all pinned down, marked and tacked so I knew where I was going.

Then I stitched round the lines, first with straight stitch to stabilise the fabric, then with zig zag satin stitch to create an edge to cut against. Then I cut away the green fabric from the front, inside the diamond stitching.

Then I needed something to back the organza and bring our its glamour, a bit of a scrap I found while rummaging in Hastings Old Town recently - the best place to rummage I have to say. I stumbled upon a delightful shop, run by a delightful lady, with all sorts of scraps and bits of lovely fabric. She asked me what I was going to do, when I got home, with the little hoard I was clutching to my chest. "Probably take it out and stroke it" was my reply! I'll have to go back and tell her that a little bit became part of a Jubilee embroidery.

Anyway, where was I? Yes, I tacked this to the back of the piece, turned it over and stitched round the diamonds again and voila! A diamond cut green glass sundae dish ..... if you squint carefully!

I think I'll go round the outline with buttonhole stitch - I can almost recall Ganna teaching me how to do it - very useful for cutwork table runners, tray cloths, napkins and "dressing table doilies" ! It will allow me to cut the pieces out, so they can be assembled and fixed in pace with vilene on the back.

I'm also going to add some more embroidery to the stem and base, with perhaps a bit more of that exciting turquoise that reminds me of peacocks feathers.

Then there's the blobs of ice cream to do! Oh, and the wafers, and the cherries which I am going to try and do with free machine embroidery over soluble film to see if I can achieve something like a stitched badge, with perhaps a couple of silver beads of dew on the surface, and scattered across the ice cream. I'll use a scrap of salvaged silk to fill the in betweens. Hope I get it finished in time - it is jolly good fun doing something to a brief.
As I work, I sit at Mum's little kneehole desk, which she bought in her just post war youth. It used to house her typewriter, the source of countless letters to friends and loved ones; letters full of good humour, little rhymes, concern for and interest in all the various people around her. The ratatat tat of her fingers as they flew over the keys were the backdrop to my childhood. She bought it with wages earned shorthand typing in a dingy London Office, all the while longing to study music and play her beloved piano.

Friday, 11 May 2012


Blue blue blue

I have been waiting years to have a meconopsis, the wonderful blue Himalayan Poppy, in my garden. The pics above were taken yesterday evening and this morning. The colour just sings, so fragile, so vivid, so so very cool, yet not chilly. The tulip, part of a gift from Brodie's Mum last weekend, they have been giving me pleasure all week.

And to continue with the blue theme, one of my all time favourite songs

... blue blue windows behind the stars ....

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Foxy Mum perhaps?

Sshhh, who's there?
Who are you looking at?
me ? ....
do I look bothered?
Elsewhere in the garden
the gravity fed water collection system is in full working order - a masterpiece of urban technology, note the precision positioning of hose at top, that takes the overflow from the water butt at the top of the garden and brings it down to the vegetable garden - there's also a water butt to take overflow for the roof and a galvanized tank for the water from the shed - the Man is very serious about his water!
the slugs are slugging
the ferns are unfurling
the vegetable beds are filling up and the greenhouse is overflowing!

Rum is drinking puddles
whilst yesterday Rasin was looking pensive
Over the weekend we had a Small Boy to stay, along with with his Mum. They sat at the bottom of the garden waiting for baby foxes
One was kind enough to oblige, much to my and Brody's delight.

We  lunched in Bistro 45spent time at the Jack in the Green, Hastings,which was as ever very crowded. At one point a rather bewildered looking lady said to me distractedly, "oh .... we only wanted to look at the shops in the High Street, we didn't know this was on  .... it's all rather Pagan isn't it? Absolutely!!!
Here's the start of the parade, courtesy of YouTube, down by the net huts with the cliffs behind ... close your eyes, turn up the volume and imagine the thrum of the drums vibrating in your chest!
Brodie also had a little piece of stitchery created, just for him. We had great fun, with me stitching while he told me, very definitely,  what to put where - it was very bling!
Another piece is still on the go - stitching finished I think, now to work out how to embellish the corners - something with organza stitched around the circle I think - here just thrown about the stitchery to get an idea of what and where
and another tryout just to see what if ..... layers and stitching and a little bit of batting to give contour
It looks curious in the flat light of the camera flash and is a "concept demonstrator"!

Outside in the night the rain is falling, falling, falling beyond my window