Thursday, 30 April 2015

Oxford

I am way behind in my blogging - I've had real technical difficulties.  The biggest & most insurmountable is that I don't have an SD slot in either of the 2 devices I have brought with me, so no way to download the photos from my camera!  Add to that totally woeful internet connections and you have bloggy silence.  LOL

Last weekend I took the train to Oxford to meet up with Marly from Marly Quilts.  We met last year during the Grow Your Blog Party, and have been bloggy friends ever since.  Marly lives in the Netherlands, and she and her husband drove over to the UK for a visit with her brother and to meet up with me.  Awesome!!

The 3 of us had a lovely day, despite the cold miserable day.  So nice to meet Marly.

As usual, there were many beautiful old buildings.


Living in Australia, a country which is not even 250 years old, one gets a bit carried away when one sees buildings dating 500+ years old!

We happened on Oxford on the weekend of the Oxford Folk Festival.  Almost every corner you rounded you were confronted by street entertainment, like this intriguing sight.

 
There were several places where we came across Morris Dancing.

 
Have you ever seen that?  The dancers wear colourful clothing and usually bells on arm or leg bands (or both).  They often wear face paint as well, like the troop on the bottom left.  The music is fiddles, drums and accordions and is catchy and makes you want to join in. 
 
That day, most of the students were returning to their colleges after the Easter break, so we actually didn't see any that were open for tourists.  We did however, peek inside gates and around corners.
 
Lincoln College on the left & Brasenose College on the right
Around about here we came across an outdoor Art and Craft market.  Mostly art, glass and wooden goodies, but we found a textile artist, called Barbara Shaw.  She does the most amazing work, and you can take a peek by clicking on her name above. 

We had lunch in the White Horse Inn, which was one of the pubs featured in the TV series Morse.  The White Horse was pretty much opposite the Bodelian Library. 
 
The building is set around a quadrangle, on one side of which is the Divinity School.  It was built between 1423 and 1487.  Harry Potter fans might recognise this as the hospital wing in the first two HP movies.

 

 
Just take a look at that awesome ceiling!!  Decorative carving, initials and coats of arms all over the ceiling.  They just don't make them like that any more. 

 
Leaving there, we came across some Russian folk dancers.  These two in the front grabbed me (and a couple of others) and made us join in the dance.  Such fun, but I wish I'd had enough warning to dump my bag.  LOL

 
The next item was a song, with the two ladies leading the singing.  Look at the beautiful embroidery on their costumes.

 
Just across from there was the Radcliff Camera (camera meaning "room" in Latin).  It is the science library.

 
It was getting a bit late by now, so we headed for the Turf Inn for a restorative cuppa.  It was reached by a twisting set of alley ways not even an arm span wide.

 
On the way back to the station for my train, we came across the Bridge of Sighs, which links two buildings of Hertford College.

 
And that was the end of the Oxford jaunt.  A lovely day - thank you Marly for coming all that way to meet me and make it a memorable day.
 
I still have to tell you about a fabulous couple of days in London, but that will have to wait until I can catch up with the Dearly Beloved, who has a laptop, so I will be able to download the photos.


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Farm Part II

Last weekend the whole family descended on the farm.  We had people swinging from the rafters LOL.  All of us packed in like sardines.  The weather was glorious on Saturday.  After a yummy lunch, we went outside and some played with the Frisbee out the front.


 
Oops!  Its in the lake....

 
Next throw, its behind the chook shed.  LOL.  On the way there it hit the roof of the shed.  The poor chooks took off in all directions.

 
A few of us walked around the lake. 

 
There are flowers everywhere.  Some are cultivated in beds, such as in the bottom two, but loads are just left to grow wild as in the two on the top.  Everywhere you look there are splashes of gorgeous colour.  Mother Nature at its best.

 
 
Loving the tulips.  We don't get them around where we live - its too hot.
 
These two were walking the tightrope.  Despite being quite wide, it is remarkably hard to stay upright.
 
 
Then we went to check out the calf - it was born on Wednesday last week, so 4 days old here.  It was going out to join the others with Mum


Here they all are. 

 
Just past this field they were planting potatoes.

 
Two kids sitting on the back of the tractor fed the potatoes down a chute at regular intervals.  The tractor turns the soil over the potatoes, and they are planted.

 
The next day I spent in Oxford, but that tale is for the next post.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Very Slow Stitching

Do you take a hand piecing project with you when you go away?

I do. Always.  Even if I'm only going to be away a day or two. This trip I have taken 3 different projects with me. 

The first is a pretty little cross stitch design in a kit which I bought at the Crewel Gobelin in Killara a couple of months ago when I went there with Jan.  The sample in the shop had been made up into a little pin cushion. 

 
As you can see, not a lot has happened with this one!  Apart from anything else, I haven't had a lot of time to just sit and stitch.
 
But I also have to admit I am struggling with this for a number of reasons.  Firstly, the linen is not an even weave, and it is a very fine one as well.  Then the thread on the outer frame of the design is a very pale olive green, and it is getting completely lost on the brown background fabric.  So I am finding it very hard to see what I am doing, and it is taking a long time to do. 
 
The next project I brought is a set of quilt as you go hexi drinks coasters. I made a few of these last year, and my daughter piped up recently and asked me to make her some.  So like a good Mumma, I am making her some more.  LOL
 
 
The first step is to applique the teapot motif onto the background.  They are cute and dead easy to make.  This is actually the third one on which I am doing the applique.  I will finish them off at home.
 
Lastly, I brought the makings of a biscornu with me, but that is still sitting in my work bag untouched.  Not terribly interesting to show photograph, so you will have to wait for a photo on that one.
 
Linking up with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching here.  Why not take a look at what the others are working on?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Hereford

On Wednesday I hitched a ride to Hereford with my sister-in-law on her way to work, and spent the morning prowling around sightseeing. 

We were fairly early, so I decided to start with a cuppa.  I found the nicest little cafĂ© near the Cathedral which had a few chairs outside, so I sat with my tea and basked in the sun.


It had been recommended that I should visit the Cathedral, and what a beautiful building it turned out to be.


Stunning stained glass windows.  This is one of many.


Beautiful pillars, arches, and gold Reredos behind the altar all shimmering in the candlelight.


And the tiled floors!  By now you must know that I love tiling.  Wouldn't these make wonderful quilt designs?




The Cathedral also housed a museum.  Sadly no photography was allowed.

The key items on display being one of only 4 copies of the Magna Carta!  How amazing was that to stand in front of a document which is 800 years old. There is a bit more about that here.

The second amazing exhibit was the world's largest Medieval map of the world, called a Mappa Mundi created about 1285.  More about the Mappa Mundi here.

Hereford Cathedral has been a place of learning for centuries, and the cathedral owns a large number of ancient manuscripts, the oldest date back to 800.  The manuscripts are housed in what is known as a Chained Library, a practise common until printed books became more readily available.  Obviously to prevent theft.  The books have a chain attached to the cover, the chain being long enough for the book to be removed from the shelf and read at the desk provided in front of the shelf.  The history of the Hereford Chained Library is here

Three brilliant exhibits and a really well worth while place to visit.

My next stop was the Old House, right in the centre of the Hereford.  It was built in 1621 and is a half timbered house in beautiful condition.


No photography inside here either, so I can't show you any.  It is on 3 storeys and furnished in Jacobean style with some rare wall paintings with Biblical references which are really interesting.  More about the Old House here.

That's it for now.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Farm

After a long, but uneventful flight we arrived at my sister-in-law's.  We were grateful that we weren't delayed in Dubai because there was a dust storm a day or two prior to us leaving, and most flights for several days had been diverted and severely delayed.

I haven't been in England in Spring since I was 20.  It is gorgeous!  There are so many flowers out already that there are splashes of colour all over the place.  I was blown away by the daffodils in drifts all over the place' in parks and gardens but also obviously growing wild in fields, on the sides of motorways, and on roundabouts.  This lot are on the green beside the Bus Station in Cheltenham.

 
 
There are also flowers in window boxes and planters everywhere, like in front of this pub in Ledbury.
 
 
The farm is in the wilds of Hereford, and absolutely beautiful.  Spring means baby animals, and there are currently 22 lambs, several of which are little black ones.  That is the church on the left, and the main house on the right

 
 
The serious bank of solar panels services all the residents.

 
And a flock of ducks peacefully sitting under a tree, or they were until I walked up to photograph them!


They are supposed to keep the grass under the solar panels under control

There are also 4 kids.

 
How cute is this??


This little guy wanted to nibble at my shirt.....

 
And this one is only a few days old.  He had a torrid time at birth and it was touch and go whether he would survive.

 
And this cow is due to calve any day now.

 
Around the back of the cow shed, is this pretty little garden - all the colours of the rainbow.  If you look really, really closely you will see the purple Hyacinths around the edge of the flower bed.

 
And a huge Magnolia Tree in bloom.


Hope you enjoyed my walk around the farm.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Purple, purple, purple.

Does anyone dislike purple?  I love purple.  It is one of my favourite colours.

Purple is the colour of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge run by Angela at SoScrappy.

I have been busy.  We are actually going overseas to visit the Dearly Beloved's mother and family, so I wanted to squeeze in as much as possible before we left.  We leave on Tuesday.  Yikes!!  Only 2 days left before we leave.

First up I made 10 little Bow Tie blocks.

 
These end up 6.5" and I am loving making them.
 
Flushed with success, I made the larger Twinkler Star block, which is 12.5".

 
Then I powered on an started on the small Twinklers.
 
Oops.....

 
A quick unpick with my trusty seam ripper and then there were 4....

 
This is almost certainly all I will manage before we leave.  It is also probably the last time I will be able to blog before we get home in May.  I am taking my small laptop, but I have no idea what the Internet service is like at my sister-in-law's.  If I can, I'll do a couple of posts while I am away.
 
Meanwhile do pop into Angela's blog here, and see what others have managed this week. 
 
And if you have an Instagram account, don't forget to post your RSC creations at the hashtag I have created - #rainbowscrapchallenge2015  I haven't seen any of you do that yet.
 
See you in a while Crocodile.
 
Til then.....Keep on stitching.
 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A Fabulous Presentation

On Tuesday afternoon my friend Cheryl and I went to a presentation by a quilt artists, Kay Haerland at the Gosford Regional Gallery.   I have met Kay a few times, as she lives locally, and was really looking forward to the presentation.  I wasn't disappointed.  It was fabulous.

Kay brought along a number of quilts to demonstrate.  There were three large ones hanging on the wall and a whole pile of smaller ones which depicted her quilt journey and development as an artist through the years.

She gave me permission to photograph her quilts.  I was too far back during the lecture to be able to photograph the ones she demonstrated, but here are the 3 big ones on the wall.  My poor photography will never do them justice.

"Autumn Leaves at Yosemite"

"Under the Canopy"

Hawkesbury - 2011

One of the things I fell in love with in all three of these quilts is the amazing sense of perspective in them.  Standing in front of them, you can see the landscape receding into the distance.  You get drawn into the scene.  Many quilt artists do landscapes, but none I have seen have been nearly as realistic as these.
 
The other thing I loved about them was that the more you looked at them, the more detail you found.  Little tiny fun details like this little Tree Frog peeking at you from behind the tree trunk.  Too cute!  And very real.

Kay uses a number of techniques to give texture and depth to her quilts.  These flowers are 3-D, as are the stems and the moss behind them.  All of it is textural and very realistic.

 
This little bird is sculpted with threads and the flowers are also 3-D.

 
Kay has just released a new DVD.  She also does lectures, classes and makes quilts on commission.  If you would like to know some more, this is her web page www.kayhaerland.com  There is also a wonderful gallery of her stunning quilts.

Just to set the record straight, I haven't received a commission for these comments.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching.