Sunday, 27 September 2015

Little Moreton Hall

We are away in the Lakes for our annual pilgrimage, a fixed point in our year, as the seasons tip and the nights begin to lengthen; a thing to tuck away in the back of the mind, a quiet treasure that approaches slowly, then suddenly is here.

We break our journey in Buxton, taking a day there to relax and see something interesting. This year it was Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire. What a delight; an off kilter dolls house in black and white, planted in the middle of a field with its own knot garden and moat. 

You cross the moat, and find yourself in a magical courtyard, where the black and white timber framing is enlivened by windows with complex glass that reflects the light, breaking the surface of the buiding up even further, fragmenting the view through.

We took the very well informed guided tour; a particular pleasure was the room with wonderful trompe l'oeil panelling and a headless Susanna and the Elders frieze, nestled at ceiling height, revealed when electricians were working behind the later Georgian panelling.

Then I spent time going round afterwards, being quiet in each room, listening for echoes of past voices, 

looking at light pooling on 500 years of others' passing feet

seeing the lichen of the years mottling the rooftops.

Imagining how others' lives were lived here

At the risk of sounding preachy, we are so lucky in this country to have these treasures from the past, witnesses to the way those before us spent their days, spaces and places that fulfil functions we are familiar with, but in such various ways. They are bits of our shared past that we can connect with, being thankful for their continued survival.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Evening loveliness

Yesterday evening's visitors
 look away archnophobes - the once was a bee supper
and light netted by leaf and web
 then this eveining
 astonishing light

and the sky
 ringing with the chatter of crows

Thursday, 17 September 2015

A little bit of stitch

I seem to be taking a dreadfully long time with this. It's the Branch Stich Book and I have been neglecting it badly, busy with other things and with trying to maintain enough energy to actually get anything done at all! However, I'm back in touch with it again now - do you find that? You seem to miss some connection with what you're trying to do so it goes on the back burner for a while, though this really should have taken priority! My stitch is blanket stitch, it's a really nice opportunity to work with variations of one stitch, also to try out different threads from ones store. 

I've also jut done the first year's account balancing act as treasurer of our local branch. It doesn't need ot be in 'til next month, but The Lakes approach so I want to make sure all is good before we go away. 

Everything balanced, hurrah hurrah ..... I'm very pleased with myself

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Something new

Well, after almost five years of this blog, I've added something new, something that has been in the planning stage for sometime, but finally has found it's way to the light - A Page. You can find it on the tabs bar at the top (another addition). There you may read - but only if you're interested of course - a little bit about the people I talk about here from time to time. If you're not interested, that's absolutely fine - there's no obligation, but I'm rather pleased to have finally created it, it puts a little history out there and, who knows, I might add another at some later stage!

Friday, 11 September 2015


We get a great many birds of various varieties in the garden. In part I think this is because we hang a good selection of bird feeders out, but also there are a lot of trees surrounding the garden. They provide habitat, food, roosts, nesting places, and staging posts that allow the birds to flit from cover to cover. This is unusual because we are pretty suburban really, but the house was built in the mid to late 1800s and for a long time there was nothing but fields to the back, the bottom of the garden creating a new boundary. You can see here the way they carved out a section of the field, perhaps to build cottages for workers at the farm across the lane

The trees at the very bottom were, I guess, once a hedge, but have now grown up and screen us from the bungalows beyond. There is hazel, ash, silver birch, laurel, spruce, laburnum, and a walnut

this is where good things to eat get grown, tender seedlings are nursed along and, down in the Dell, the badgers live and wild flowers drop their seeds

there is wild bullace

and a grotto of ferns, lovingly planted by the Man

As you go back to the top part of the garden you find spiders webs catching the light

crocosmia glowing by the shed

and more trees; this time willow, hawthorne and ash behind the shed

yew which paid host to a little cloud of long tailed tits and blue tits as I was wandering about - a sudden flurry of high, excited peeps and twitters, far too fast to capture with the camera

maple, rhododendron, more laurel and, in the background, across three other gardens, two stately oaks which shield the two blocks of flats tucked in behind and are, I'm glad to say, protected. I often hear the woodpecker drumming and in the evenings, jackdaws gather, chattering away to each other. Such a precious resource.

Beneath these green guardians you'll find oxalis and violets nestled under the maple

Look up and you might find the woodpecker in the top of the spruce, tick ticking to himself

or goldfinches pausing to pour their rippling song into the air

Turn round and Wol is peeping from behind the hydrangeas

the Japanese lady communes with her dragonfly

cyclamen nestle in pots

and the little Waterboy has a new companion, waiting for a pond to appear

Thursday, 10 September 2015


Just thinking,
looking at the patterns and flows of colour, trying to work out what will enhance
 where to go, what to stitch and what to leave
Suspended from the floor lamp in my (horrendously untidy) study in lieu of a design wall 

Those swayings away from True, across and down; the not quite lined up. Do I straighten them out or do they add a slight movement within the grid structure, a bit of unrule

True ... Truth ...

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Squares of colour

I've been doing a little stitching, quietly in the evenings and at our first Studio 11 class last week. This started as something I took with me to Birmingham so I'd have some bits of cloth to play with in the evenings after looking at all those lovely quilts during the day. The squares began life as a tea towel, lovely loose weave linen, worn with years of smoothing cups and plates dry in my grandmother's hands. I used it in my first year with Christine as something to experiment with, to learn from, and to see the different way in which linen took up colour. I wasn't happy with the inital results - eventually the linen was torn in two and treated slightly differently on each half, way back here, but cut into squares, rearranged on some dark blue linen, stitched down with little stitches that match the background colour, I hope perhaps it has some potential. I think I've managed to keep the squares reasonably ... well square ... two layers of soft woven linen can surely wriggle about a bit in the hand when they're being stitched together. I rigged up the giraffe (OK it's a craft stand really, but you can see what I mean) to hold my embroidery frame and that made the stitching go a lot easier. I'd like to add some embroidered stitch, perhaps a little sparkle, something to enhance what's already there, but not intrude or detract. Simple. Careful. Sympathetic.
What happens now, of course, is I get the awful heebie jeebies, having got so far, and totally stall because I can't work out what to do next. To me, it says light falling to the forest floor, other might see different. What do you think?