Wednesday 23 July 2014

Visit to Newby Hall

I spent a lovely day yesterday at Newby Hall, with my good friends Katy and Alison.  Newby is one of our favourite places to visit and is about 2 hours drive north from us, near Ripon.  It is a lovely house and we enjoyed the tour, led by some very enthusiastic guides.  There is an amazing tapestry room, one of the only ones in the world with the tapestries which were originally designed for it, still in situ.  There are also many Chippendale pieces of furniture, again, made for the house.  There is also one of the earliest sculpture galleries, with Roman sculptures on display.  However, Newby is also known for its beautiful gardens., with a huge herbaceous border which runs down from the house to the river.
 This lily pond in on the terrace by the house.
In another part of the garden, there is a rockery/grotto area, with a picturesque arch.
 From the upper terrace, you can see into the tops of some of the trees.
 This is Sylvia's Garden, a very quiet and peaceful garden, names for the current owner's grandmother.
 Two greyhounds or whippets sit on guard at the entrance.
 The water in this fountain was lovely to listen to on such a scorchingly hot day.
 Everywhere you look there is another lovely view.
 I was taken by the colours of this beech hedge, with the sun lighting up the bright red new growth.
 Another enticing view...
 And another...
 I didn't take many photos of flowers, but this coral coloured red hot poker caught my eye.
 As did this lovely echinacea.
As has become a tradition on our visits to Newby, we stopped off for tea and cake, or scone, jam and clotted cream, in my case. As you may know, I don't like dried fruit, but as fruit scones are the only ones on offer, I just had to pick the fruit out.  I have been known to make rather a mess, but I managed to be reasonably tidy yesterday.  I didn't waste the fruit, as I donated it to a robin, a young blackbird and a chaffinch, who were waiting patiently for some crumbs. Despite the fruit, the scone was delicious!
We had a lovely day at one of our favourite places.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Icon jewellery exhibition

 Last Saturday, we headed to the National Centre for Craft and Design again, to look at a jewellery exhibition called Icons.  It was an interesting idea - jewellers were asked to create a piece for a person or thing that they considered an icon. I was allowed to take photos, which is always a bonus.
 This amethyst ring and the moonstone necklace in the next two photos were designed for Tilda Swinton and capture her cool, detached, ethereal quality very well, I feel.

 I loved the sweeping curves of the moonstone torque neckalce.
 This necklace and ring set was created for a polar bear.  The jeweller used resin to create the icy arctic blue.
 Chris and I both liked this one, inspired by The Shard.
 Again, there was a great sense of movement in the design.
 The complex and impressive piece was designed for David Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs' song/album.
 The two iron spheres encrusted in flowers and skulls made from lots of semi-precious gems was made for Alexander McQueen.
 This was another of my favourites as I found the design fascinating.  It looked like a box, but when you looked at the photos, you could see there was a square brooch in the centre, then a square bangle and a square necklace, made up from smaller squares.  Only when the three were displayed together would you see the shape of the angel wings, showing the inspiration.
 A beautiful thing in its own right.
 The blues of this piece appealed to me and on closer inspection, the shape of the towers from the Battersea Power Station appeared.
 This piece was Chris' favourite - Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, was the icon here.
 There was a huge amount of attention to detail shown here, from the complex beading to the printed writing on the back of the oval pendant.
 This quite classic looking Viking/Celtic-type bangle was inspired by a female character from Game of Thrones.
Finally, this simple looking piece of circuit board was designed for Alan Turing, the computer scientist and the jeweller had written that the inclusion of pink referred to the fight against prejudice as Alan Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality and died from cyanide poisoning. According to Wikipedia, he received a posthumous pardon from the Queen in December 2013.
I really enjoyed seeing these pieces - there were many others too, including two for Vivienne Westwood, but the ones I have featured are the ones that appealed to me most.
Here's a little something to think about - which icon would you have chosen?

Sunday 13 July 2014

A rather special garden visitor

 No, not visiting someone else's garden, but a visitor to ours.  Last week, I saw a hedgehog hiding among the pots by the back door.  My first though was one of panic, in case Scruffy was anywhere near it, but he wasn't.  It was around 8.00 pm, so apologies for the light levels and general blurriness of the photos which were taken looking through our sitting room window.
 I put some cat food out for the hedgehog and once he/she had smelt it, it didn't take long for it to be gobbled up.
 I think he/she was even standing on the plate to get at it!
He/she did finish every last bit and then off he/she went on his/her way.  I was thrilled to see a hedgehog as we live in a city, particularly as on the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show coverage on the BBC, there was a report on how these creatures are as endangered in the UK as tigers are in the wild.  Rather a sobering thought.

Monday 7 July 2014

More polymer experiments (including Hellboy and Darth Maul!)

 I had another polymer clay play day with a friend on Saturday and we had a great time. She was experimenting with wood grain patterns and then went on to making her own sunflower cane which became a pendant and beads.  The red wood grain pendant reminded me of 'Hellboy' or  'Darth Maul' - it's probably just the red and black!
 Hellboy (from Wikipedia)
Darth Maul (from Wikipedia)
 So, what was I making while she was busy?  Well, I saw a designer making a beach-inspired set of jewellery and really loved the blending of all the blues, so that's what I had a go at.  This is going to be a little hanging for the bathroom.  The addition of the frost white clay gives the sparkle which can be seen - it almost looks like the sun sparkling on the water, doesn't it?  The pendant was made from a spiral cane using the same blend of colours.
I'm going to try this again, as it probably needs a bit more sand (well, Chris suggested that might be a good idea and I agree).  I just love those colours though!

Saturday 5 July 2014

Goodbye Gonga

 We had to say goodbye to our lovely cat, Gonga this week.  He had been diagnosed with a tumour and we had to let him go. He went very peacefully.  He came to us in 2008, as a stray and quickly made himself a part of the family.
 His favourite thing to do was sleep...
 ...but he occasionally roused himself to investigate the garden.
 Ginny tolerated him (just).
He was always alert for the sound of food being prepared.  His second favourite thing was eating.
 He got on slightly better with Scruffy.
 He had his own red blanket for when it got cold.
 He would make us laugh with his 'Little Red Riding Gonga' impressions...
 ...and he did a pretty good 'Grumpy Cat' one too.
 Sometimes, he even thought he was like Bagpuss (old, fat furry catpuss).
And, we loved him.