Monday, 19 July 2010

Not Waving But Drowning?

Sadly, one member of the family couldn't wait until the whole Pavlova was photographed!

Last week we took a trip to Cambridge, principally to see an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum - The Wave, a collection of sea paintings by Maggi Hambling.   You may know that she is also responsible for a sculpture on the shingle beach at Aldeburgh in Suffolk.   Before we saw the paintings we started to watch a short film of her drawing on the beach and talking about her work, accompanied by a stirring orchestral sound-track.   However, Richard wandered off saying "There's only so much Benjamin Britten I can cope with before lunch".   Here, here.   And I have to say that Ms Hambling's opinion of her contribution to art made me slightly uncomfortable, but we went with an open mind to view her exhibits.   (Stepping over busy art students lying on the floor drawing her paintings as we went).    Anyway, click on this link to see her doing a show-and-tell as she hangs her paintings in the Museum.    

One thing I do love her for is the throw-away line,  "as I approach early middle age..." - she was born in 1945.....

There's no doubt that she boldly captures the alarming and ferocious power of the North Sea:  it looked bulging and wild, free and  unstoppable, ready to rip the shingle from the beach and fling it back spitefully in the next rush-and-tumble.  

It gave me some ideas for my Erosion Bundle Project, which (as I've been very busy on another {secret} collaborative project), I haven't actually started yet and it needs to be finished by the beginning of August...

Had to visit the shop, like you do, to buy some postcards and this monotype by Lino Mannocci stunned me.   Do click on this link to hear him talking about his art - there's 12 minutes of it, but he has such a mellifluous voice and talks so sensitively about how he produces his monotypes, and with such a lack of pretension, that it's worth listening to.   This phrase touched me, "I want it to look like I've just done it, but it's been there all along."

Added to my collection of Angie Lewin cards - one day I'll have to stop and think hard about what it is that appeals to me so much about her lino and woodcuts.  Do you like them too?   Managed to upset the lady I bought them from - I referred to her gallery as a shop.   I'm such a pleb!

I gave myself a birthday treat last week and acquired some beautifully hand-dyed pieces of fabric from Heike Gerbig.   She has encouraged a trend to dye using avocado skins - you can find out how on her blog.   Can you believe that green skins produce this fantastic range of pinks going almost to burgundy?   I'm going to have to give it a try just to prove it to myself.   Anyone for guacamole?!

Carolyn from Love Stitching Red has produced some wonderful results using the same technique too - have a look at them (and so many other inspiring delights) on her blog.

Finally, I made a soothing mosaic from some of my favourite photographs on Flickr and then I lost all the bloomin' html code for the links .... so here's the mosaic but perhaps you could go to my flickr page for the linkythings until I work out how to retrieve them.

Anyhows - hope you all have a good week - only 4 more sleeps until we're off on our hols!!


Friday, 9 July 2010

Wild flowers, big moths and a birthday tea

Had a scrumptious cream tea in the garden on Sunday with lovely friends to celebrate my birthday (a couple of days early) and then took off up to the Lake District for a few days to walk it off!  

I have to say that I sometimes find the mountains in the Western Lakes a bit daunting in scale and severity and even a bit claustrophobic, if I'm frank.   But there are teeny-tiny things which I'm more comfortable with, like this exquisite flora.   I haven't had a chance to look up all their names yet, so we'll stick with 'wild flowers' for now, until I get the book out.

Oh, I know this one:  'lichen'!

The climate can be so wild that it scours and bleaches any trees hardy enough to survive the searing cold wilds and lashing rain.

But nature has produced something beautiful, even in the face of such inhospitable conditions, don't you think?   I love the ghostly colours and gnarled texture.

Here's a big mountain for those of you who can cope with things on such a majestic scale.

and another one

and here's something pretty, small-scale (and man-made).  And heaving with tourists.  

who all seemed to have enough small change in their pockets after paying the extortionate car-parking charge to stick tuppence in the trunk of an old fallen tree.

And this is something I didn't have time to show you before I went away:  
It's a Privet Hawk Moth which had an unexpected shower when Richard was giving the peas a drink on the morning we went.   It was huge, about 12cm (there was some suggestion that it even bared its fangs ..) 

When we googled it to find out what it was, I discovered that the shiny brown pupae that I'm always finding in the compost heap under the ash trees belong to this big moth.   Apparently privet hawk moths like ash and lilac, as well as privet.   Which is just as well, because we haven't got any.

Best wishes,


Friday, 2 July 2010

"Blogger assaults Postman"

The day didn't get off to a flying start.  The postman rang the front door bell and as I answered it, in my shorts and sun-top and with a welcoming smile, I was met with:  "A bit too fat".   As I bit my trembling lower lip, he proffered a chunky package which wouldn't go through the letter box.   Narrow escape for you, postie, choose your words a bit more carefully next time.

So a girl's got to cheer herself up with a bit of thrifting, hasn't she?   What about this lovely dish,

perfect for English strawberries and a snip at a mere 50p.

So, with three weeks to go,  I'm impatiently counting down the days until our annual holiday in south west France.   I write lists.  Lists of what to pack. They serve no practical purpose at all as I don't make any effort to keep them somewhere safe, and don't represent what ends up in the suitcase,  but I enjoy the process of writing down:

                              2 prs. shorts
                              sleeveless teeshirts, black, white, grn.
                              beach towels
                              cotton skirt for wearing to market
                              factor 30
                              bag of books

I can transport myself to the sun-filled days ahead and imagine myself reading by the pool, or wearing a sleeveless teeshirt (black, white or grn.) and a pr. shorts sitting outside on a balmy evening with a glass of champagne so chilled I fear for my tooth enamel.

In case you think I'll be abandoning myself totally to a sybaritic lifestyle for two weeks, I would like to stress that I also take the opportunity to conjour up scrummy Mediterranean influenced meals.  

I get a lot of stick from friends who can't believe that we hardly ever eat-out in France, but I just love the wonderful fresh produce from the markets and it's lovely to have that inspiration and time to spend in the cuisine.  

Many years ago Jacqui my sister started me off with a big journal to put some favourite holiday recipes in.   So another thing I do round about now is snuggle down with my favourite 'sunshine recipe' books, and find two or three things to add to the journal.   Then I make another list, which I do keep, of all the ingredients I will need to conjour up these culinary delights: 

cous-cous, garlic, Marmandais tomatoes, corn-fed chicken, cinnamon, fresh basil, flat-leaf parsley, chick peas, lemons, Greek yoghurt, shallots, Charantais melon, salt cod, peaches, etc etc.

Ooooooh, how many more sleeps until 23rd July?!

Hope everyone's looking forward to the weekend - how about leaving me a comment and telling me what you've got planned?   I'd love to know!

Oh, and don't forget to check out Silverpebble's Pass the Book