Thursday 31 May 2012

Reds, Blues and Greens

Here are the latest jewellery creations.  Above is a bracelet made for a friend's special birthday, way back in January.  However, I forgot it was her special birthday and so had to make this after the event - actually, quite a long time after the event.  Still, she seemed pleased with it.  It is made using garnet rounds, garnet nuggets, black onyx and silver. 
 Another little something for me, with some of my favourite blues and greens.  This is a longer length, which was a bit of an experiment, but I really like it.  It is a mixture of abalone shell, shell, fluorite, kyanite (I think, although it could be a jasper) and little glass beads from Venice.
I do like these colours, patterns and textures.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Chelsea Week - in my garden

 So, Chelsea is over for another year.  I decided to see what was flowering in my own garden this week and things have changed very quickly thanks to the sun since Tuesday.  The alliums (well, it wouldn't be Chelsea week without them, would it?) have suddenly exploded into life and the complex flowers warranted a close up (thank you, Photoshop).

 This is a Verbascum which I grew from seed last year, planted and promptly forgot about.  It wasn't until I noticed the flower spike that I realised it wasn't a rogue primrose.  I've forgotten its name though. (I know that my roses have got rust - I blame the weather!)
 Clematis 'Crystal Fountain' is looking lovely and has lots of buds which is encouraging.  I like the exuberant petals.
 Hydrangea Endless Summer Pink is the first of my hydrangeas to flower and is looking the most healthy too.
 Clematis 'Asao', also looking lovely with an interesting combination of colours from cream to green to pink.
 The always reliable hardy geraniums (I have lots of different ones) are busy too - above is Trevor's White (self-seeded from the original and shoved unceremoniously into a pot).
 Geranium Versicolour - it was originally 'Lace Time' but may have reverted back.  The delicate pink veining makes an intricate pattern.
 An unnamed geranium, which may be a sylvaticum, but I'm not sure. It does have almost luminous purple petals.
Finally, a geranium (probably Johnson's Blue) peeping out from its foliage and that of roses and nigella.
I can't compete with Chelsea, but I think my garden is managing to put on a bit of a show!

Saturday 26 May 2012

Chelsea Flower Show 2012 - my favourites

 I have never yet managed to visit Chelsea - I say every year, "One day I will go, just once, just to say I have been", but I do enjoy the TV coverage (11 hours this year, apparently).  Which gardens did I like in particular?  The best in show, of course, (above), designed by Cleve West.  I like formal elements and then 'floofy' planting (which all these gardens have).
 Joe Swift's garden for Homebase featured lovely cedar wood arches and coppery/red planting.
 The artisan garden by a Japanese man (sorry, can't remember his name) was different, but I liked the moss which was rounded and looked so squishy and tactile.
 Arne Maynard's garden had elements from his own garden in Wales.  Again, the formality of the pleached copper beech appealed to me, softened by the planting beneath.
I was jealous of the lovely hazel supports he used for his shrub roses.

 Andy Sturgeon used a theme of circles in the wall and in the copper sculpture.

  The John Clare garden by Adam Frost again featured formal elements with exuberant planting.

The most evocative garden was 'Welcome to Yorkshire' which featured landscape elements, and a  stone mullioned window so typical of old Yorkshire houses. Wild flowers, stone walls and moorland  - you could almost believe the Bronte sisters would appear and walk across the bridge.
So, which gardens did you like?
All the photos are from the RHS Chelsea website.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Moroccan market

Last week there was a Moroccan Market in Lincoln High Street and Chris and I visited on the last day, Saturday.  There were a lot of metalwork teapots, lanterns, leather bags, slippers and jewellery, but it was the textiles that really appealed to me.  We did ask the stall holder's permission before taking the photos.
 I just loved the colours of these scarves - silk and velvet apparently - "and all hand woven".  The stall holders were very persuasive and  managed to persuade us to buy two things - more of those later.
 The patterns on the bowls were really beautiful.
The ceramic and metalwork bowls were particularly fascinating - intricate patterns and metalwork applied on the top.
 Then there were a couple of rug stalls where the pattern and colours almost exploded out onto a rather dull May day.
 This rug reminded me of a lovely patchwork.  Some of the squares were raised, which gave a contrast of textures.  If only I had had the money...
 It really brightened our day.
 You can see the raised areas in the design more clearly here.

 So what did we buy?  Chris bought this lovely ochre bowl with hand painted decoration and I went for a pink striped scarf.
What a fantastic market, full of exotic colours and textures.

Monday 21 May 2012

Gainsborough Old Hall interiors (part 2)

 So here are the final few photos from Gainsborough Old Hall. Above is the original medieval louvre from the kitchen roof.  Much more elegant than the Victorian replacement, I think.
 A closer look at the medieval craftsmanship.
 In the Tower Bedroom, there was a Tudor dress, based on the ones Catherine Howard may have worn at the time.  It was beautiful, with the shining fabric and trimmings.  The figure was quite small though, only about 5 ft 1 or 2 inches at the most.  Catherine Howard would have only been about 19 when she visited (and Henry VIII was in his 50s!)
 The Tudor Bedroom was relatively cosy, with the most lovely embroidery on the bed curtains.
 I couldn't resist a close-up.
Finally, the rather elegant twisted balusters on the staircase. 
It was a fascinating visit and I heartily recommend a trip there.  The cafe was lovely too - proper ceramic teapots and milk jugs (£2.00 for a pot for two), which is always a good thing in my book.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Jazz with Clare Teal

On Thursday night, (going out in the week - whatever next!) Chris and I ventured out to see Clare Teal at a local theatre.  Now I have to confess that my friend and colleague, Rachael had encouraged me to go, even though jazz 'is not really my thing'.  However, I saw Clare Teal on TV last year at the Proms, where she sang Hollywood film songs (and performed brilliantly), so I knew that it would be a good night.  So it proved to be!  There were lots of old songs that I recognised, but which were given a new treatment by Clare and her band.  I particularly enjoyed a song called 'Twenty Mile Zone', written by Dory Previn and given a country style, which worked very well. Clare was a great performer who had a very easy style and who linked the songs in a natural way, as if she was chatting over a cup of tea.  The band were also amazing - only three of them - a keyboard player who also arranged the songs, a double bass player and a drummer (who was able to play several different rhythms as well as harmonising with the other members of the band too, and all at the same time!) The last two songs showed a great contrast; from Ring Them Bells (Funny Face) to Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol) and which left us all wanting more.  

Saturday 19 May 2012

Gainsborough Old Hall interiors (part 1)

 Here are some of the photos I took at Gainsborough Old Hall.  These show the Great Hall, decorated to give an idea of how it may have looked in medieval times.  King Henry VIII and Catherine Howard must have eaten in here, John Wesley preached here and the Hall was used as a theatre too, so actors will have performed here.

 The servery, leading into the kitchen, which  is one of the best preserved kitchens of its time in the UK.  It has three cooking areas - one for meat roasting on spits, one for cooking pottage and other pot-based food and the bread and pastry ovens at the back.
 In the background, you can see the huge fireplace for the pot cooking.
 A view back out of the kitchen, showing the servery with a brick archway visible above the servery window.
 The wonderful kitchen roof beams, with the Victorian louvre to let out the smoke and steam.
The solar - an expensively furnished room with wall hangings and hand made wooden furniture.  The wall hanging pattern is taken from one in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and all the furniture designs were taken from paintings or from furniture that is still in existence in other museums.
 The rather comfortable looking bed with curtains to keep out the cold.

This is the 'ghost corridor', where the 'Grey Lady' is supposed to appear. She walks down the corridor and turns right, through what was once a solid wall. However, during restoration, the wall was taken down to reveal a blocked in door, precisely where she turned...

 ...and here it is.
Here is a close up of the old paint which is still visible on the timbers of the wall and door.  The final few photos will be in my next post.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Gainsborough Old Hall

Yesterday I enjoyed my first visit to Gainsborough Old Hall which is a fantastic old Manor House in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.  Like all ancient houses, it has been added to and changed over the years to accommodate the families who lived there.  There is a link to Henry VIII and Catherine Howard who stayed there, John Wesley who preached there and even to the Pilgrim Fathers who were helped by the family at the time, as well as others who were not adhering to the religion of the time and needed escape routes to Europe. 
 The crooked buildings are beautiful to look at and were in danger of being demolished in the 1940s when they had fallen into dereliction.  Luckily, a group called the Friends of Gainsborough Old Hall (I think) were formed with the sole purpose to save the buildings and eventually restore them.  The Hall has recently undergone a major overhaul, having secured extra funding, and now has a lovely cafe, interactive, touch-screen guides which have videos, audio dramatisations, information about architecture and other interesting facts which you access as you travel through the rooms, and interpretations of how some of the rooms may have looked in the past.
 The circular area contains a staircase which leads up to a long gallery on the right of the photograph.  The garden has been created to show the types of plants that may have been grown in medieval times - used for cooking, perfume and medicine.
 A selection of chimneys.
 The kitchen, which originally had a 'louvre' in the roof to allow smoke to escape.  The cupola that can be seen in its place is Victorian, but the original louvre is on display in the house (photo in my next post)
 Around the side of the kitchen.
 The stone bay window of the Great Hall can be seen to the right.
The entrance door, leading into some wonderful interior spaces - photos to follow in  my next post.