Saturday 30 September 2017

Lincoln Book Festival 2017

This last week has seen the Lincoln Book Festival where various book related events have been happening.  As an avid reader, I thought I ought to be involved. Chris brought the programme to show me and there was one event which I could not miss, as one of my favourite blog writers, Kirsty Stonell Walker (from The Kissed Mouth blog) would be speaking about Pre-Raphaelite women.  Here's the info about the evening:

"Tuesday 26th September, 6:15pm - Painted Ladies, Iconic Faces - chaired by Dr Claire Brainerd, University of Oxford

MARTIN KEMP on the Mona Lisa
Martin Kemp is one of the world’s leading authorities on Leonardo da Vinci and has published extensively on his life and work. In his new book, MONA LISA: THE PEOPLE AND THE PAINTING, co-authored with Giuseppe Pallanti, he cuts through layers of accumulated myth to reveal a wealth of information about the people and events behind the portrait.
The true story of the Mona Lisa is even more astonishing and transcendent than the legends. It will forever change the way you look at the world’s most famous painting!

KIRSTY STONELL WALKER on Pre-Raphaelite Models, Muses & Mistresses: from bathtubs to asylums – Today any woman with red hair is regarded as pre-Raphaelite but who were the original Pre-Raphaelite muses? Kirsty has spent the last 20 years researching their lives and loves, who they were and what became of them – incarceration or front page news. From mid 19th century to 1920s, they were icons whose lives were as scandalous as the roles they played in paintings.

Kirsty is the author of STUNNER: THE FALL AND RISE OF FANNY CORNFORTH and two novels exploring the Victorian art scene, its murders, lust and secrets; she also writes the intriguingly titled blog The Kissed Mouth."

It was a very enjoyable evening, marred only slightly by someone attempting to be 'Coughing Bob Fleming' (from the comedy show 'The Fast Show') and by a staff member imitating David Bailey and clicking his camera at every opportunity.   
I had a chat to Kirsty and introduced myself and we talked about the Pre-Raphaelites and the Brontes (as she was visiting Haworth the following day).  She was just as she is on her blog - the same enthusiasm, passion and slight irreverance which makes me laugh.  Both of the talks were informative and very interesting (but secretly, I liked Kirsty's best - no surprise there).  The book festival has had some stellar names including David Starkey and Alison Weir as well as Janina Ramirez (historian who has presented several BBCTV programmes).  It finishes today and I hope it has been very successful.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

A Chivalry of Knights (or a Rout of Knights)

 The Knights Trail in Lincoln has finished now and has been very successful - apparently more people came to see the Knights than the Barons (two years ago).   We didn't manage to  go on the trail but saw lots of the Knights in their places around the city.  They are now together for a reunion in Lincoln Castle until they are auctioned on Saturday.  I took the opportunity to head up to the Castle to see them all.
 They did look very impressive, forming a guard of honour along the road.
 There were lots of themes, some based around Lincoln and Lincolnshire and some more to do with word play around 'Knights'.
 You can see my friend Rachael's Knight here... (and posts about him/her here and here)
 ...and here.
 Of course, Rachael's was my favourite, but I liked several of the others too.  'The Knight has a thousand eyes' - see what they did there?  This was by Sue Guthrie and the eyes were painted in phosphorescent paint so that they shone at night.
 The fields of Lincolnshire made an appearance on a few.
Others were just really colourful.
 Somehow I had missed this one, which was beautiful.  It was based on images from The Luttrell Psalter and was covered in these weird and wonderful creatures.  It was also painted by Sue Guthrie.
 The artist had painted the images with great skill.
 I liked the more muted colours too.
 There were a few Lady Knights, like this one.
 It was lovely to be able to see them all together.
 I wonder who will buy them on Saturday?
Unfortunately, two of the artists who worked on the Knights have died since completing them. Apparently, flowers have been laid by the Knights as a tribute - what a lovely idea.  Some of the Knights had a few adventures as there was some vandalism (why can't people leave things alone?) and one ended up in the river.  However, they were rescued and restored and looked as good as ever.  There was also an Education Trail for Lincolnshire Schools, who were invited to decorate half sized Knights.  They are on show in the local shopping centre. (If you aren't fed up looking at photos, here they are...)
 The Schools had done a great job with them.
 Lots of them had inspirational words as part of the design.
 I liked the artist Knight on the left of the photo, riding a unicorn.
This Knight had turned into a King, using keys as his crown.
 This one had mosaic tiles with tiny drawings on them.
This one used a bit of pointillism, and his horse was covered in faces of the pupils.  It has been so fascinating to see all the Knights and to follow the progress of Rachael's.  I will keep an eye out to see the auction results.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Free Motion Embroidery

 I have been wanting to try free motion embroidery on my sewing machine for quite some time, but just haven't managed to pluck up the courage to have a go...until now.  I tried using a double layer of calico first,but found it was a bit too floppy.  These are the two pieces at the bottom of the photo above.  I then used two layers of calico with some thin polyester wadding in between.  It felt a bit odd initially, because the whole idea is to keep the lines fluid and not keep stopping (which I kept doing).  I have seen people demonstrating this on the TV and they suggest sitting and doodling with a pen or pencil, keeping the line fluid and trying not to take the pen or pencil off the paper, so that is something else I need to do.
 My next attempts with the wadding inside definitely worked better and quilted the fabrics too.  I wasn't sure how fast I should attempt to go, but I think I can go a little more slowly, which will allow me to have more control.  It will take a fair bit of time to get really proficient, but I was quite pleased with my first ever attempts.
I managed to write my name and draw a flower or two.  My idea is to practise lots more and then possibly use this type of embroidery to embellish my felt pieces.  Hand sewing as embellishment works really well, but is very time consuming.  Free motion embroidery will give a different look to the pieces and again, I won't be able to duplicate any patterns exactly, so will keep the individuality of each piece.  All I need now is time to practise...a lot...

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Late Summer in the Garden

 Two weeks ago, the bank holiday weekend was hot and sunny.  It seems a long time ago now and the weather has changed rapidly.  Yesterday was cold and autumnal, with heavy rain showers.  Today it has been bright but windy. Autumn is definitely just round the corner.  The garden is taking on its late summer colour with the Japanese anemones - Bressingham Glow above...
 ...and Bowles' Pink here.
 This Japanese Anemone is Pretty Lady Maria.
 The hydrangeas are gently fading into their old velvet colours.  Dark Angel is above...
 ...and Coco or Fireworks (not sure which) is here.
 The Asters September Ruby and Little Carlow seem to be quite early but make a lovely colourful combination with Helianthus Lemon Queen. All these plants are much happier since the wall has been built and without the five foot of ivy which (unfortunately for them) shaded them so effectively.
 Rose New Dawn is flowering well again.  We are going to give it a new metal support this winter, which will create an arch over the path.  I think it will look lovely.
 This morning, I was taking the photos above and was lucky enough to just be in the right place at the right time to see this Red Admiral enjoying the buddleia.  
 I haven't seen many butterflies this summer, except for the odd cabbage white, so was really pleased to see this one, making the most of the nectar.
A few more sunny days like today would be most welcome (for all of us, flora and fauna alike!)

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Latest reading - for my inner 'young adult' and 'adult' selves

(All images taken from 
I have been reading several 'young adult' books recently, which I have enjoyed.  My very good blog friend at Elephant's Child (I consider her such, even though we have never met and she lives in Australia, so the chances are we probably won't) often reviews books she has read and I usually have to go and search them out because they sound so intriguing.  The Grimm Legacy was my favourite of the two and I would have loved it if I had read it as a teenager too.  It's about a very special library which has magical collections and someone has been stealing items from it...
 This book will need another reading, I think. Again set in the library, but all about time travel.  My unscientific brain felt a little confused in places.
I am just starting this sequence of books, having allowed them to pass me by when I was a child/young adult.  They sound to be just my sort of books.
 Chris noticed this one in our Uni library and it intrigued me.  I wouldn't have read it as a young adult as it would have been a  little too scary/gory for me then.  It is a re-imagined part of the story of Frankenstein and his creature, when he comes to London to work on creating a mate for the creature. Mr Creecher meets a young pickpocket called Billy and together, they follow Frankenstein.  It is very cleverly done and does fit neatly into the original story.  I felt that you would need to know a bit about the original book to really gain the most from it, but it was very accessible.  Even the look of the text gave the book an 'old' feel.
This one is for the adult reader - the start of a series (bother - I will probably have to read more...) of ten stories (so far) about the work of a forensic archaeologist in Norfolk, who is called in to look at a skeleton which turns out to be Iron Age. There were lots of red herrings and I thought that most of the characters was the murderer at some point in the book (but then I'm not very good at discovering the murderer in these types of books, so that didn't really surprise me), but it resolved itself satisfactorily. I now have the Dark is Rising sequence, as well as a couple of biographies to read (one on Mrs Keppel and her daughter Violet Trefusis and one on a female artist called Gluck.  We watched a good documentary on Gluck on BBC 4 and this has piqued my interest).  On with more reading...