Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Hallowe'en...

The Gorgeous Girl carved the pumpkin, her dad made pumpkin soup, and I just toasted the pumpkin seeds. I'd say we're pretty pumped by our achievements!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A blustery, buskery day...

Monday's storm was named after St Jude, the so-called patron saint of lost causes - since it coincided with St Jude's feast day. I went out early in the morning to rescue a few things that had been blown over in the garden, and got caught in an exceptional gust of wind which almost blew me off my feet but, other than the rest of the apples and pears being blown down (no bad thing), we pretty much got away with it. Still, there are a few branches down in the town, and a lot more trees have come down in the surrounding countryside...

There was an open day at St Pete's in town, but the start was only slightly delayed. The wind blew away the clouds and things got going properly when Fireflow came along, to teach some juggling and hula-hooping outside, buskers turned up to fill the entrance porch with music, and improvised jam sessions started up among those waiting for their slot.

The Gorgeous Girl and I climbed the bell tower and tried our hands at bell-ringing - I'm sure the cry of ''re a natural!' had more to do with their desperate need to recruit more bell-ringers than any real talent!

Mr Gainsborough turned his back on proceedings, perhaps thinking it wasn't quite his thing...

I wonder what kind of portraits he would have made, from all the interesting folk around?

As dusk fell, the jugglers moved indoors to perform fire juggling - I don't think the old place has ever seen the like...!

After helping tidy up, C tried to pick up something to eat on the way home - the cafes and restaurants were chock full of people who had no power at home, and who'd decided to come into town to ensure a hot evening meal! The pizza place had run out of pizza base! Hmmm, methinks the powers-that-be are missing a trick in how to get the economy moving again...

The morning after...

Next day dawned bright and hangover-less (that's the joy of tea!) and I wandered around taking more pictures of Helen and Dave's lovely house. I'd slept under a quilt she made, which is quite the loveliest thing. I couldn't quite get it stuffed into my overnight bag...

She has inherited some lovely things from her parents, including these two seats covered in 1970s fabric...

On the landing sits this little blue chair, and a beautiful cupboard, with three panels painted by Helen. Elsewhere, a cushion up-cycled by Helen from a tiny quilt she made...

One surprising addition to the decor was discovered in the shape of various heights recorded by some of the guests the night before, next to where the kids' heights have been noted...!

As the five of us sat around the table chatting, breakfast moved into brunch, with home-made sourdough bread, mushrooms and eggs  - Dave wandered out into the garden and came back with a couple of very fresh eggs which he placed in my hands. One was warm, the other was verging on hot - as if he'd had his hand under the chicken's back end, waiting for the egg to plop out! And it was a double-yolker!

The duo suggested that (if they really felt they couldn't come empty-handed) folk might bring a copy of their favourite book as a birthday gift  and my contribution was Four Hedges by Clare Leighton. It's a book filled with Leighton's own beautiful wood engravings, and is a gentle, and affectionate, account of a year in the life of her garden - which seemed appropriate for this pair. We headed out into their garden to say hello to the chickens. They are huge things, up close! But their feathers are soft and lovely, and their gentle calls are so sweet!

Into the studio for a last wistful look around (so much lovely stuff, so little money!) and to have my vase photographed and wrapped up for the journey.

Until next time! xxx

The journey home was almost as long-winded as the journey there, with delays and crowded trains, but, as always, my 'creative' eyes were opened by spending time with these loveliest of friends, and I amused myself by taking all sorts of photographs while I waited at different stations...

And look, moiré fringes - which my brothers taught me about, using the net curtains on the kitchen door, when I was very young. At the same time, they also tried to get me to learn the lyrics to 'She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!' by the Beatles, which appalled my mum, but that's another story!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Bus, train, replacement bus, train, cancelled train, bus...

A joint birthday bash for two dear friends meant a bit of a trek to the Midlands - well worth it tho'! C was off in Bath with the Gorgeous Girl, exploring fashion courses there, so I missed having his company - but it meant I concentrated on reading my book in between hopping on and off various modes of transport!

Norfolk really is pretty flat, and the wind-turbine thingies seemed to be looming on the horizon forever, never appearing to get any closer. A cancelled train at Nottingham meant a short walk through town to the bus station - I've been to Nottingham before with Helen and Karen, and it's a pretty cool and funky place, even on a dull Saturday afternoon.

It's always lovely arriving at the homes of creative friends - so much to look at! New artwork on the walls, little vignettes of things dotted round the house and this time four big, bold chickens to meet. All this and a new studio out in the garden to explore, complete with recent ceramic pieces to covet! Two other good friends had arrived early from Newcastle, so there was time for conversation and the grand tour of the house, garden and studio, before everyone else arrived.

On the kitchen wall.
In the studio, part of a series of 40 vases, each a one-off. I bought the one furthest left in the middle row. Beautiful.
Dave's hand-built printing (not fruit!) press.
Of course, the main reason for visiting was to help two old young friends celebrate their birthdays, so we helped with final preparations and then settled down to wait 'til the party got properly started.

A chat while we waited.
Glasses, ready to be filled.
Soon enough, the house was filled with all sorts of lovely people, and the front room given over to Eaves and the Thieves, who sang beautifully all evening, with an ever changing, and appreciative, audience as we all took turns to sit in and listen. My kind of music/venue/folk.

I did my (now) usual thing of drinking tea all evening (I've decided it really is what I prefer) and luckily got into conversation with Jon,  a lovely chap after my own heart - the glitter-sprinkled, chocolate cupcakes (forty of them) clearly needed to be eaten with a cup of tea, so off we scurried to the kitchen, like kids up to mischief, and on went the kettle. Grand!

Friends brought along food, and the table was soon groaning under the weight of all manner of lovely edible things, and the house got busier and noisier, filled with music from the Thieves, and people having lovely conversations.

Birthday smooching beside the birthday sparklers and birthday cupcakes.
As someone who has gone to bed at what I thought ought to have been the end of one of my own parties, with guests still there (who all ended up finding me after half an hour, and piling on the end of the bed), I'm clearly not a late night sort of person... But, because we were staying over, I am proud to say that I was one of the last ones standing! Ta dah! (And, technically, the last one to leave, albeit not until next day...!)

Happy Birthday, you two.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Be still my heart...

Via this blog to this link. Trust me - it's utterly beautiful. The light! The space! The bookcases! I need a bigger house, a lot of white paint and to get my mojo back...

ps Gisèle d'Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht's story is as interesting as her name.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Whatever the weather...

There are still flowers in the garden, and bugs aplenty like this Green Shield bug, and the rather scarier looking one below it. When I picked the last of the tomatoes and got rid of the plants, I discovered a moth of some kind amongst the debris.

A rescued plant has bloomed... Just the one flower, and I found this poor bee on its last legs resting, retiring, and eventually expiring on it.

My next door neighbour turned up with a bag of walnuts, fresh from her friends' garden. Not sure yet what to do with them - C doesn't particularly like them and I generally only have them when they're on top of a Walnut Whip (so, not very often at all these days). I will have to do something special with them, tho' - can't waste them!

On Friday I headed off to the wildlife site - it was a misty morning, and every cobweb was covered in dew, highlighting them amidst the greenery. Trees were festooned with them and unexpected corners sparkled with them. I spent almost three hours pulling 'weeds' (that is, one particular foreign import that had taken over and was covering up lots of different sorts of native 'weeds'...) and really should have taken before and after pictures. Very satisfying!

Saturday was apple pressing day. The Transition team set up a stall in town and invited everyone to bring their apples to be chopped, scrunched and pressed into apple juice. A non-stop queue, and a lot of interest from passers-by -  I wonder if it will be even busier next year?

The apple press gave up the ghost after three hours non-stop use, and the last chap to come along had to abandon his bucket of chopped up apples, which was such a shame! The local press (as opposed to the apple press) obviously relished an opportunity to use the punniest of headlines...  Groan...!