Thursday 29 July 2010

Embroidery & Skywatch Warning

I was extremely honoured and delighted to discover this beautiful lavender pouch amongst my post this week when I returned home from work. It was sent to me by the lovely Jill and my photo does not do this justice. It is absolutely beautiful. Jill, you have such great skill. I love it, thank you so much. It is currently fragrancing my living room.

I used to do loads of cross stitch and embroidery, but since my close vision has deteriorated (probably because of too much "close" work!) I don't find it as enjoyable. I also struggle to find the iron on transfers these days.

On a recent "clear out", my Mum came across this make up bag that I had made for her when I was young. I remember embroidering this onto lots of things I made, including a shopping bag for my Grandad who proudly shopped with it every day of his life declaring it to be the strongest shopping bag ever. And I invented the design myself! I had imagination then - and I seem to remember being inspired by the tune " Oh I'm going to Jamaica".

I'll have to invest in a bright light to sit under and get my silks back out.
Skywatch Warning - Just to give you advanced warning of the Perseid Meteor shower display for this year. If we have clear skies on the evening of the 12th of August, you may be lucky enough to see hundreds of shooting stars. The displays pick up speed after midnight, but you get a fair few as soon as it gets really dark. You can also spot a few stragglers a few nights before and after too. So remember to put the date in your diary, and get a "blanket on the ground" with someone special for a truly romantic and spectacular display (clouds permitting!). I hope you see plenty - remember, its one wish per shooting star!

Tuesday 27 July 2010

I spy with my bloggers eye..

A lovely pair of knockers spotted on an old chapel in Derbyshire.

I knew you'd like them.

Monday 26 July 2010

Camping for Wussies - and what would you do if you spotted Mr Darcy?

One of the main attractions at Barn Farm campsites - particularly amongst University Students - seems to be the "Camping Barns". They have several of these catering for various sizes of parties, and I must say they look a bit swish.

They are basically a converted barn with beds (you take your own linen, quilts and pillows) and a kitchen with all mod cons. A wet weekend would not spoil camping like this - but if one of your party snored, then I don't think the rest would get a great nights sleep. They do look like good fun though.

On our way from the campsite to Chatsworth, we passed the Peacock at Rowsley. Kiera Knightly stayed here when she filmed "Pride & Prejudice" - it was rumoured that she loved their steak pies (although it doesn't look as if she ate many!). I hinted to hubby that I might like a romantic night here - if its good enough for Kiera!!!

Can you see the cutting in the woods in the distance? Imagine you lived at Chatsworth house. What would you do if you spotted Mr Darcy galloping over that hill and heading in your direction? I suggested that I would just have time to dash upstairs and change out of my big pants into some sexy undies - hubby called me a hussy!

Some other shots of the gardens I didn't show you before - the "One Hundred Steps" and yes there are (the young man counted them ) and fortunately we walked "DOWN" them.

The Maze - the young man always likes to "race" me to the centre of any maze we happen upon. Today was like the story of the tortoise and the hare - Hubby and I found the centre by gently strolling around - shortly after so did the young man - but he was exhausted!

I liked this young lady, she was in a beautiful building where you could buy a nice glass of chilled wine - it was a very hot day.

Redcurrants strung like jewels.

And I forgot to tell you how amazing the cafes and restaurants are at Chatsworth. The main restaurant in the stables sells the most amazing lunches and there is also a bistro type place here too. They don't miss a trick though and have several vans scattered about selling pasties and sandwiches as well as drinks and lovely ice creams. We treated ourselves to coffee and lemon drizzle cake. It would have been rude not to.

So what would you do if you spied Mr Darcy galloping towards the house at a pace? Do tell.

End of term crafting

So , what to do with last years school dress that is now too small. Cut off the bottom, turn it inside out and sew across the bottom, turn it back the right way and its an instant peg bag!!! This works best with a school dress up to about 6 years old, and if you don't know any tots, you can usually pick one up in a charity shop for a few pence.

I can't take credit for this. It was my friends idea and another friend made it for me. I think its very clever.

Sunday 25 July 2010

The Gardens at Chatsworth

On the way home from our camping, the young man suggested that we should look around the gardens at Chatsworth(!!!!!). Turns out, a few of his school friends had recently been on an arts class trip and he couldn't ever remember looking around the gardens (even though has been loads of times!) and he must have felt as if he was missing out - so off we went.

The gardens are the work of the genius Joseph Paxton - I love this passage from his diary. I often think I fit a shift in at home before I get to work at 9am, but Mr Paxton beats me hands down!! (double click to make it more readable.)

Chatsworth is the stately home by which I measure all other stately homes - only Versailles has ever impressed me more up to now. The location of Chatsworth is simply stunning, and the "Devonshires" have really made the most of this stunning building. I find it amazing that they manage to still live here as well as let Joe Public ramble about too.

Paxtons glass houses are full of peaches and nectarine's.

The borders of the formal gardens near the house are planted with both hot and cold colour schemes. I couldn't decide which was my favourite.

Water features by the gallon around the gardens - this is the famous lake with the gravity fed water spout.

There are many gorgeous ponds teeming with wildlife.

A weeping tree

and of course the magnificent Cascade, fed by the lakes on the moors above.

No matter how many times I visit Chatsworth, I always find something I havn't seen before. On this visit, we discovered the coal hole....

...which led to a tunnel that allowed them to move coal about under the gardens without being seen.

There are some magnificent sculptures dotted around, both old and new.

This chappy kept a modicum of decorum.

I think this is Neptune.

The Rabbit is very similar to the ones in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

There were a couple of these - they looked great against the sky.

This chap appears to have cut his own skin off!!!!! No modesty here!!!!

My favourite bit of any large garden is the Kitchen Walled Garden. I would love to work in here. I have to confess that the raspberries, red and white currants were too tempting to leave. The Duke and Duchess may be a few berries short of a summer pudding this weekend! I couldn't think of anything that wasn't growing in the garden - fruit or vegetable wise. I so would love a garden like this - to pick and cook within minutes. The walled garden is on a very sunny slope and they even had watercress growing in a pond fed by a man made stream, which then went on to water the greenhouses.
The green houses were growing all manner of items including melons.

Apples and pears were growing in an old orchard as well as over the arches. They use every inch of space.

Of course, they grow everything organically here and they run courses throughout the year in the gardens, but the course that really took my eye was spending a day helping out on the farm. I could really fancy that.

One of the problems with Chatsworth is that there really is too much to see and do in a day. We spent all day in the gardens and didn't see all of them. Fortunately, we don't live too far away for a return visit. I do think that admission prices are great value for money too.

The biggest problem with the place though is the gift shops. Oh my. There are several dotted about selling gifts, fancy food, gardening paraphernalia, and just lovely lovely stuff. I couldn't find one thing that I wouldn't have loved to buy. In the end, I was very restrained and spent only £2.75 on a container for herbs for my kitchen.
A while ago, we watched a programme with Vic Reeves talking about his wife Nancy. He said that she had gone shopping for "baskets and sh*t" - my family pounced on this phrase, and now use it to describe the sort of shops that I like!! Nancy would love the shops at Chatsworth.

Saturday 24 July 2010

The Antidote

For us, the antidote to life's stresses and strains, is to pack up a few essentials and head off to a nearby field.

Yes, once the young man had finished school on Thursday, we headed off camping for a few days. You'll notice that being a frugal camper, there are no matching breakfast dishes. We use the old ones that the kids had!
Our destination for a few days was Barn Farm in the lovely village of Birchover in Derbyshire - less than an hour away from home.

Over the years we have collected several tents. This is our "something for the weekend" tent. Only 3 poles, 10 minutes to put up and I can have it decked out and the kettle on in 30 minutes.
It only cost £45 (it was a "last years model"). I would never buy a "cheap" tent like the ones you get in Supermarkets etc, but I would never pay full price for one either. You can get some great bargains at the end of summer in proper camping shops (we use "Go Outdoors").
Our pitch in this little piece of heaven cost £37.50 for the weekend - a bargain!!!!
Barn Farm is a huge campsite - but very quiet in the week. At weekends they open a massive field and it attracts lots of family groups.

Birchover is on the top of a hill, and the views from the campsite are stunning.

The farm has some very unusual inhabitants. Thanks to these beauties, our early morning wakeup call was like being woken by a dozen "Vuvuzelas"!!!

The Alpacas had been recently shorn........

...leaving them looking very comical indeed.

Ive walked my little legs off. On Thursday, after tea, we wandered across the mystical, magical Stanton Moor which is just behind the campsite.

On Friday, we walked through Birchover,

--over the hills and dales to Winster (where the pub was SHUT!!)

--and then across to Elton, where the village pub there was also SHUT!!!

so back to Birchover. Birchover has 2 great pubs. The Druids Arms is a Gastropub, but we chose the Red Lion and were not disappointed.

We've had a fabulous couple of days, worth £37.50 of anybodies money!. The weather on Thursday morning before we went was dreadful, but fortunately the sun has been shining and we had great weather. I'll show you later what we did on the way home.

Wednesday 21 July 2010


So what started out as a craft blog rapidly turned into anything but. I lost my craft room to the teenagers, and it became a drag to lug out the sewing machine and all the paraphernalia, only to have to clear it all away again soon. I also seem to have run out of patience too (that might have something to do with the teenagers as well!) so anything I make needs to be "quick". I used to do a lot of patchwork when I was younger, and got all fired up about it again after receiving a lovely patchwork notebook from Claire over at Summerfete. I started collecting fabric, but it was all moving too slow for me, and so that's how I found myself on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield in the Patchwork Garden. However, this just bamboozled me - far too much choice. And that's how I ended up being seduced by a Moda "Jelly Roll". A delightful confection of co-ordinated fabric, already cut into accurate strips for you (but at a price!!!).

So out came my old friend - we have been together since I was 16 years old.

And I sewed all the strips together.

And then with the help of Newton Faulkner (on the CD player and using the CD case for a template) I cut the strips into further strips, and sewed them back together again.

So I have ended up with a lovely big piece of patchworked fabric - and it took 30 minutes to do!!

I just have to decide what I am going to make with it now!