Friday, 30 April 2010

A 'Three Sausage' Walk

Just recovering from a long weekend in the Lake District, near Windermere:  heavy-duty Beatrix Potter territory.   Our special B & B (above is the view from the bedroom window)was at Near Sawrey, a bijoux village just above Windermere, where BP lived for a while at Hill Top Farm, now a National Trust property.  She also, conveniently, owned the pub next door, Tower Bank Arms, which appears in Tales of Jemima Puddleduck.


However, the attraction for us wasn't the opportunity to stand in a queue for a chance to wander round her old home, but to stride out on the fells and hillsides in a Rufty-Tufty ( BP missed her chance to write about him ....) Alfred Wainwright kind of way.    We went all prepared for Cumbrian weather - heavy boots, several layers of breathable clothing, waterproof trousers, rucksack groaning with Kendal Mint Cake, compass to guide us out of the low cloud on the summits.


So imagine our dismay when we looked out of the window on Saturday morning only to discover that the sun was splitting the paving.    Not a cloud in the sky.  But there was no putting us off sitting down to breakfast on the Full English, which had been justified on the grounds of sustaining us through the wind and rain which are the default weather conditions in the north west of England.

We had two walks planned for Saturday, both of them starting from the pretty little town of Ambleside.   The first one was a gentle hike along the Coffin Road to Grasmere, passing by Wordsworth's homes Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage.   The route is known as the Coffin Road, because the dear departed had to be carried from Ambleside to Grasmere to be buried.   Richard wondered why they didn't just consecrate some ground at Ambleside, as it's a steep climb up out of the village.   Grasmere provided some good beer and a hearty sandwich (the one we said we wouldn't need after such a big breakfast) and we rode the open-topped double-decker bus back to Ambleside for our second walk.

The afternoon treck was more strenuous, uphill for about 1.5 miles, to High Sweden Bridge where I dunked my feet in the cold water of the beck, under the disconcerted gaze of a local sheep and one of her offspring.   Her other lamb was bleating impatiently in the adjacent field.

Climbing steeply out of the valley we reached the top of the ridge and the reward we had been eagerly anticipating:  the panoramic view down over Ambleside, the sparkling waters of Windermere and Rydal Water.

So what's a 'three sausage walk'?   It's a 90 minute climb up to High Sweden Bridge in the blazing sunshine, one that uses up all the calories consumed in a Full English Breakfast.   With any luck.

V & A QuiltsWent to this wonderful exhibition yesterday and will report back in the next couple of days - stay tuned to this station!


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Trials and Tribulations of a mid-morning weeder

Tidying up and weeding in the front garden hereabouts is a job that has to be over and done with at the crack of dawn, under cover of near-darkness, before the rest of the village is up and about.   Either that, or plan to devote at least three-and-a-half hours to the job.   The garden in question is south-facing, is mainly gravel and rocks, with borders of grasses and plants which are happy to be baked year-in and year-out.   The grasses and some other stuff have self-seeded into the gravel and periodically need a bit of ho-ho-hoeing to keep them in check.  

As I say, this is a task that requires an early start.   Anything after 8.00 a.m. and this will be the morning story:  

The garden has a low wall and is on what passes for the main road through the village.   This low wall is just the right height for the legion of puffed-out dog-walkers (PODW's) to sit and have a rest.    The prickly Berberis hedge hasn't grown quite high enough yet to be a deterrent and make this perch inhospitable.  Well, not to those in Barbour jackets and country tweeds.  Anyway, while they and Rover catch their breath, PODW's always seem to have some guidance for me in my labours.   Or want to know who's buying the house for sale at the other end of the village.   Or what X said to Y at WI last week that caused such a-muttering and a-mumbling.   Before you know it, twenty minutes have gone by and I'm still leaning on my rake, grudgingly accepting their advice, racking my brains to see if I can remember if the mobile library is due this week, or just popping indoors to rustle up half a dozen empty jam-jars for their chutney. 

The passers-by who don't sit down are usually the ones offering a cheeky remark over their shoulder and therefore require a quick getaway before the business end of a garden implement helps them on their merry way.   (You know who you are  .....)   They don't, I have to confess, take up much time, but they are a distraction from my weeding duties, while I try in vain to think up a witty riposte for their return journey.

And then there's the car-horn tooters, who, I'm afraid, hardly ever get an acknowledgement.   By the time I've straightened up and focussed on the middle-distance, they're long gone.   I have to admit to wearing a hat with a big brim these days so that I can avoid making eye-contact.   Either that, or just make a point of waving indiscriminately at every car driver.   Which you have to do anyway when the PODW's are comfily ensconced and the hat-brim-lowering technique can't (politely) be employed.

The least time-consuming conversation is the one I have with the chap over the road.   He's a tough-guy professional motor-bike racer, and walks with a severe limp from injuries sustained in the line of duty.   But he walks very very fast, starts talking to me before he leaves his own drive, keeps talking as he speeds past me and doesn't stop until he's a good many yards down the road.   There's a kind of doppler effect to our exchange, which never varies.   "How are you Chris?"   "Oooh ... you know, Tony.   How about you?"   "Stressed out, Chris, stressed out."   "Oh dear, Tony, what now?"   But I never hear the response, because by then he's almost at the corner and whizzing off down Church Road to see his mum.   I don't even really have to pause in my weeding and Tony seems quite happy to address his remarks to the top of my head.   Good Old Tony.

Thanks for visiting, hope to see you again soon!

The photo's actually the Fire Hydrant warning fixed to the wall, but PODW's beware!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Erosion Bundle 2 - out of the compost heap

These are photographs of my second Erosion Bundle, fresh from the edge of the compost heap.  You might remember that my three feathered friends scratched it up, so it had to be reburied with due ceremony.   It was wet and soggy and definitely smelly.
And a feeding ground for some yukky maggots.

The photograph below shows a strip of screen-printed wool, which has faded quite a bit and has begun to grow some kind of mould.

Here it is with what I initially thought was more and bigger maggots, but then I remembered that it was a cuff I had knitted!   The lavender buds and incense sticks certainly did not conceal the pungent aroma wafting up from the unwrapped bundle.

Nice piece of disintegrating screen-printed muslin.
A close-up of the wool.

A gloriously golden stamp stuck to a piece of muslin, which took the dye from the wool.
Another muslin/stamp combination.

This is the knitted cuff that I thought was maggots, once it was rinsed and dried.
The whole piece has come out in a kind of butterfly wing shape, so there is definite potential there for something.

I love the way the dye shades have transferred to the lacey edging from the screenprinted wool cloth.
So now we've all got until August to produce our artistic creations ..... any suggestions more than gratefully received!

Click here to see what other Project participants have unwrapped and have a look at my yesterday's post if you want to see Bundle 1.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Erosion Bundle 1

Erosion Bundle Project phase 1 ends today!   Time to open up the parcels that have been exposed to the weather conditions and other natural influences (including, in my case, hens) since 1st January this year.
The bundle on display here is the one that was hanging in the greengage tree.   Sadly, for them, I had to displace a family of earwigs who had probably thought that they had found a particularly aesthetic des. res.   No doubt they'd been having their friends round to impress them with the exotic tealeaves, Indian silk wall hangings, incense sticks, portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, rare spices and delicate lace.
Well, I just hope the friends were more impressed than I was with the revealed contents of the bundle.   I obviously haven't got the hang of what to put in them to get the best results.   Not much transferred itself to other items in the parcel, lots of the dyes were obviously 'fast' and quite a lot of the stuff came out looking much as it went in!

This is a page from the 1958 Rent Book of Mr. and Mrs. Pearson, who were paying £3 13shillings and 4d a week, due on the 24th day of each month, for their house at 22 Byron Road.   I do quite like this, although, of course, just about all the stamps came unglued and are now loose.   The old fountain-pen handwriting is nicely faded and the lines have vanished from the page - all good.

Here's a scrunched-up stamp ....

and a feeble looking price-tag ...
and a snippet of silk which has taken a tiny portion of dye from the things around it ...
and a dirty bit of calico .....
and a spooky green face from a transfer-printed photograph from the 1920s - that one really gave me a shock, as I'd forgotten I'd put it in there.

Since the idea of the bundle is that some kind of artwork or crafted items are made from the eroded, weatherbeaten contents, I felt I'd rather short-changed myself with my choice of items.   So, to try and inject a bit of 'oh things aren't that bad, you can surely use your imagination to make the best of it', I decided to have a play with a digital programme to distort some of the images with the idea of maybe printing the resulting patterns on to fabric.   Oh heck, that's cheating!  It was fun to do though and perhaps I'll have a play with it as a separate little challenge.
Anyway, this is just one of two bundles:  the other one was buried in the compost heap and perhaps has more potential.   I'll disclose the contents of the buried bundle tomorrow (when I have dislodged the wildlife) and you can tell me what you think.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Spring Fever

Spring is in the air today - the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the bees are buzzing  .............  so it must be time for me to jump into my dungarees and shut myself in a dark corner of the house and paint the walls!

(p.s.  my stylist had the day off, as you can see)