Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Late November Walk

After what seems like weeks (but probably isn't) of grey days (grey in many meanings) and being stuck inside,  I needed to get out into some fresh air and sunshine so I took myself off on a long walk hoping for some blue skies and late autumn colour.

I went to Marks Hall which is about a 30 min drive from here through beautiful north Essex lanes.

Marks Hall (and yes I've checked and double checked that there shouldn't be an apostrophe there!) is 200 acres of gardens and arboretum.

The reflections in the lake were wonderful.

Along one side of the lake is the Millennium Walk which was planted specifically for autumn, winter and spring interest - there was certainly lots of contrasting colour!

On the opposite side of the lake are the walled gardens, which were sadly shut, but the view through the (locked) gate in the wall revealed that they're still full of structure and interest.

I walked further, through some of the mixed woodland

and came across some pigs munching their way through the undergrowth!

 I passed another gate to the walled gardens, also locked, with tantalising views of the lake though it,

and back to the lake, with more reflections (and water birds).

I got my fresh air and sunshine

and I got my autumn colour.

I walked for much further than this but my camera battery ran out and the photos I took on my phone aren't as good.

Here's hoping for a brighter week, in every sense of the meaning :-)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Golly - What a Week!

It's been one of 'those' weeks. I won't bore you with the details but if I say 14 hour days and having to cancel social events yesterday just to catch up with everything you'll get the gist.  But yesterday, in the midst of trying to claw my way back to being on top of things again, I did light the fire in the dining room for the first time.

Not only was this the first time of lighting since I'd lived here after renovating it this summer, according to my neighbour it was probably the first time it had been lit in over 20 years.  It was so lovely to have a real fire again.

Over 1/2 term, as well as visiting London,  I did some sewing too, using some of the fabric I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show.  I used the stripey grey linen and viscose fabric to make a tunic top from this pattern by Sew Liberated.

I altered it slightly as I couldn't cope with the fact that the stripes in the fabric didn't line up between the bodice and the skirt (not my fault, it's to do with the pleats), so I added a bias strip over the seam to break the line of vision up.

I also made a denim dress from the Kate dress pattern by Sew Me Something (the same pattern company that I made my reversible skirt from).

I ended up taking the pattern in quite a lot and made it less flared at the bottom.  That's not a fault of the pattern more to do with my pretty much straight up and down shape!

I used grey top stitching thread to give a contrast and eventually got it neat on the pockets by hand stitching the last few stitches as the machine didn't like that many layer of denim.

I'm pleased with it and I'm sure I'll wear it loads.  I will definitely make this pattern again.

I'm hoping for a quieter and less busy week this week!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Day in London - Knitting, Poppies and Who Are You?

When you work in education the fastest weeks are the holiday weeks and this 1/2 term has been no exception, it's flown past.  I've walked, sewed (more of that to come) and on Wednesday I spent the day in London with Celia.

We went to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see the Knitwear, Chanel to Westwood exhibition.

Sadly there was no photography allowed but it was very interesting - I especially liked the hand knits from war time, and also the knits from the 80s which were very similar to garments both of us had either knitted or worn! It really is worth a visit, and the 1pm talk (on Wednesdays and Fridays) is very interesting.

On route to the museum we walked past the Tower Poppies.  I'd seen them in August when they first started installing them but they now almost fill the moat and are a very very moving sight with each poppy representing one of the 888, 246 British casualties of the 1st World War.  

Our final stop for the day involved a walk down Whitehall in the rain to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Grayson Perry 'Who Are You' exhibition.  There are 14 new portraits by Grayson, some individual, some group, focusing on identity.  

The portraits range from ceramic 'statues'

to silk hijabs

to ceramic pots

and tapestries.

They are all thought provoking and several conversations were had with random strangers as we stood looking at them.

The memory jar, focusing on a couple where the man was suffering from Alzheimer's was the most thought provoking for me.  We stood and looked at it for ages, the shards of photos representing the shards of memories, snippets sometimes remembered and sometimes dissected from the main memory.

These, and all the others, have all been/are about to be features in the channel 4 programme of the same name.  I loved how they were placed in different rooms within the gallery, next to traditional portraits of famous people. 

Grayson's self portrait, the Map of Days, is so detailed and intricate I could have looked at it for hours - you can download the PDF of it from here and watch a video of the man himself talking about it as well.

It was a lovely day, we hardly noticed the rain we were having such a good time!