Thursday, 30 September 2010

There and Back Again.

We didn't fall off the earth, we went away for a bit.

Last week Elsa's job took her away from us for a few months and it was a bit sad. John knew there was an exhibition of Daniel Merriam's work down in Belcastel and so he booked us a flight to Bergerac and off we went.

Two things went mildly wonky. The Château he thought he'd booked wasn't the Château we were going to be staying in. It was, from looking at the pictures as we did realise this hiccup just after clicking send, probably the better of the two but instead of being halfway between the airport and the exhibition (south wards) it was quite a way in the opposite direction (north). Again though, not bad as we were not far from the main road links south and what's a 600km round trip when your on hols!

The other slight problem was the mid range Peugeot we'd booked wasn't there for us and they'd given us a Fiat Punto.    !    John has no problem with driving manual cars, he is a car nut and is rather good at driving. He has no problems driving on the wrong side of the road he had property in France for many years and he switches like a natural. He does have rather long legs though (34 inside) and fitting his legs, big knees and a gear lever in the same small area was a bit of a challenge however.

But manage he did and this is the Château we stayed in.  Beautifully renovated last year and the service and food was wonderful.
I just had to include a photo of the stair case.  It's not your imagination, it really is sloping quite alarmingly to the right.  The stripes in the fabric on the walls are vertical.
Belcastel village rising from the valley of the Aveyron River

The entrance and what we had travelled to see.

There were lots to see in this lovely, privately owned castle, much of which we couldn’t take photos of, of course.  The main gallery with the Daniel Merriam paintings was as good as we had hoped but there were three other gallery’s.  One with a range of paintings and models by Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss and The Cat in the Hat), another by Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), and down in the prison original hand drawn storyboards by Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland).
Belcastel Village down below with fish scale type roof tiles.

A beautiful and still working fireplace used for the banquets they hold there.

And quite a few suits of armour including a couple of full size horse ones.

The following day we travelled down to Sarlat-la-Caneda which was absolutely beautiful.

 We even found a closed quilting shop!  
A then I ran out of battery so I won’t bore you more with just text! The whole Dordogne area is absolutely beautiful and not too far away on a quick flight of just over an hour. Certainly worth another visit.

Now housework and coursework call!

Saturday, 18 September 2010


Well the Friday Night Sew in meant I at least did this months Stay at Home Robin!  That little block has been hanging around waiting to find the next piece it wanted and, after a lot of offerings, I more or less gave up.  Then I found a batch of hand dyed silk velvet lurking in a corner and it just wanted to be a part of this.  It does have the right blue in it and introduces green.  I think this is ending up as an exploratory of texture!  I took the photo in the morning light to capture the beautiful sheen on the silk velvet.

Other things I completed last night I can not show on here as there are two Christmas gifts and a block for a friend but they took time and I'm more than happy to have spent the time on them.

This week I also signed up for a City and Guilds course in Creative Textiles.  Should be interesting!!!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Belinda Lady Montagu

John took me for a treat down to the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst today where there is an exhibition of Lady Montagu's work.  So I don't have to re type everything about her, I have added the photos instead.  Don't forget to click to enlarge.

These three were part of a series and the first two were about 7 foot high.

She is a very diverse needle woman.  So may different fabrics, stitches and techniques are used throughout.

There was plenty more to see including a 26 foot long tapestry on the history of the New Forest in the museum itself.  A very enjoyable and inspiring little exhibition.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Tomato Soup

Normally I use the excess tomatoes in chutney or a ratatouille concoction that just uses up everything to hand in the garden (and freezes fantastically!).  This year though we have been really remiss in what we planted and only have squashes (including the biggest mini butternuts out there!), beans, onions and tomatoes. 

This morning I threw together a tomato soup for lunch to use some up.

I sautéed finely chopped onion, carrot, celery and red pepper in olive oil until just soft.  I then added a quick squirt of tomato puree, a couple of poundish of quartered tomatoes, a sprinkle of sugar and lots of ground black pepper.  I tore up the last of the basil from the garden into it and after a stir I then added about three pints of good vegetable stock (I like Marigold bouillon) and let simmer for about ten minutes.

Let it cool slightly an zzuzz with a blender and adjust the seasoning if it needs it. 


I am trying to sort out a few finishes for this afternoon.  I have yet to do the Stay at Home Robin this month or last weeks Mystery Mondays.  The Magical Minis envelope keeps glaring at me too.  Once these are out of the way I can carry on with other projects with a clearer view of my work table.  The few bits for Christmas are under way too.

Have a nice Sunday.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Beppy Berlin Workshop

Thank you all so much for the lovely comments about my Hever win.  I really am glad I followed my gut instincts.  I did have a lot of encouragement from John though, he loves the fish but that's a fisherman for you!

I've had a lovely day today at Hanson's, Sturminster Newton, on the Beppy Berlin Guardian Angel workshop.  This is mine...

She is blonde as is my real life angel (22 on Monday!! where does the time go?) and will be my little guardian for her.

Also this months Friday Night Sew In is on 17th, a week tomorrow, click the thingy on the right if you would like to join in.  It really is quite nice to set yourself a date with a needle!!!

Can anyone confirm if I read the Sky magazine correctly and that there will be a new series of Kirstie's Homemade Home in October?  The mag has gone and I missed a lot of the last series.  Anything crafty on our TV stations should be supported!!!  Fed up with revamped houses and cookery here!!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Hever and the Phone Call

I only went and won the Hever Challenge.  First proper quilt contest and all.

Johnny Zeppelin and me.

I couldn't believe it, 1st place!!!  Still struggling with reality actually.  There were some fantastic quilts there and of a great standard. 


(Oh,  quick PS.  The challenge theme was, 'My Favourite Artist' and my quit is called, 'After Daniel Merriam'.   Who else of course! lol)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

We have been visited by this little fellow over the past week or so clearing up the fallen bird seed.
I thought I would have a quick tour around the garden to see what else is out there. Everything seems to be fruiting prolifically. Are we in for another harsh winter?

Sloes on the Blackthorn, the first to flower and very nice in gin, Hawthorn and heavily weighted Elder.
Some keys. Ash, Sycamore and the Tree of Heaven.
A couple of slightly tamer shrubs, Cotoneaster and Pyracantha. The Blackbirds devour the Pyracantha so fast!
And a few for us. Hazel nuts, apples and pears.
These three were wedding presents three years ago. Brown Turkey fig, what we thought was grape Aglianico but they are supposed to be black and these seem to be staying white. It’s the first year we have let them fruit so we shall see. At the bottom is black grape Brant.
And on my return I found this outside the study door. Well he is rather plump!

Friday, 3 September 2010

The Great Dorset Steam Fair

It is a vast site on dusty field and it was 29 degs C. There was a nice breeze that helped and plenty of stalls with cold drinks and ice cream but some rather well used portaloo's, we chose to watch our intake instead!

In a field in the next valley from us they have harvested the crop the old fashioned way and every time we saw them in the field with the very old tractor and equipment, I didn't have the camera with me of course!  They made proper sheaves of corn and stood them in groups and it looked fantastic but it took days to cut the whole field.  We did wonder why they were doing it and now we know.

They then went through this...

To make this.

And you could buy the cracked wheat or flour.

Of course the really old way of working was being done buy these wonderful beasts.
This fellow was rather naughty in that he kept putting his head over his companions neck and flattening the braids.

There were some absolutely huge, and I mean 19 hands of horse, Belgians there but they were in the stables being kept cool.  Beautiful things.

This show was a man from New Zealand and the sheep were all so well behaved.
In one tent I found this collection of sewing machines.

No John, we don't need a Porsche and especially this type!
We then made it across to the heavy haulage field where they were showing what they could do.  Some were surprisingly fast and could make it up and down this large arena in no time.

All were in pristine condition and very well loved.

And if you are gong to haul something to a show, you may as well haul something strange too!

Though there was a very large, modern fairground there, these showman's engines were lined up as far as the eye could see...

Right beside this rather more traditional fair.

Many displays were all around and the arena's had shows, here of some military.

It was a good afternoon and would really take a few days to see properly. We were certainly glad to sit down in the car at the end of it.

Oh, and last night I had a rather interesting phone call!!!!!!!!!!!!!  More of that later.