Friday, 30 September 2016

The Dreaded Dark

It has come! (Sad face.) The dreaded dark. It is now dark in the mornings when I get up for work; these photos were taken at the beginning of the week when the sun was just starting to think about arriving over the horizon, and now we have reached the end of the week, it has decided not to bother at all. Soon I will also be coming home in the dark too, which I'm sure can't be good for a person, mentally or physically.

Long Winter months are starting to stretch and loom ahead, and weekends become far more precious as they are the givers of light and the potential to soak up some Vitamin D. Last weekend I had my first trip to a posh Spa for a massage and an afternoon of gentle steaming and sauna-ing. Not sure it is entirely my cup of tea, but it was a good afternoon with some lovely friends, and topped off with a fabulous cream tea. Warmed fruit scones with clotted cream and sweet jams. Yum!

I was very excited to see a roomset package I designed and put together go into the window at work this week. It was designed to showcase a new fabric collection from Morris & Co, called Pure Morris. You may recognise some of the more famous designs (Strawberry Thief, Willow Bough, etc) which are usually flashing some rather bright contrasting colours; these have been pared back to just the pattern itself to give a more modern look. I went with a simple slot top unlined curtain in Willow Bough, some cushions in Acorn, a tablecloth in Strawberry Thief and a waterfall roman blind in a matching Sanderson Lyric silk. I'm rather chuffed with the overall appearance, it's very light and understated (hopefully).

I also finished an project for display to be showcased in our yarn section. These cute little C*******s booties!! It's perhaps a little early to be thinking of C*******s, although I have been asked by two people already if I have begun my gift list. The season has to begin early in retail though as well organised people start making the gifts and decorations about now so as to avoid a rush nearer the end.

These were a little fiddly but I think they would look cute on the little people. I made the middle size designed to warm feet aged 6-9months and you can fit a pair of booties in one hand!! So diddy. If you are interested in making your own, the pattern is a DMC Crochet pattern made in DMC Natura Cotton Yarn (Medium), called Baby Bootees.

Maybe I ought to start researching and designing gifts I can make this C*******s, there seem to be more people to make things for every year!!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Home Again, Home Again

I've been planning this post for a little while. It's a kind of 'reacquainting with home-life' post that involves pootling around the garden seeing what's still in flower and showing you the things I have been making and creating. There is a part of a nursery rhyme that has been stuck in my head for a couple of days and I can't place it, although it seems quite apt. It's just one line repeating itself over and over; "home again, home again, jiggity jig...." Ring a bell with anyone?

The nice weather from the holiday pretty much carried itself over into this week. It's been a really dry year so far I think, speaking rather generally, as I don't recall too many days of standing at the bus stop in the pouring rain. The flowers have done well and some have entered into a second flowering which is rather nice. The lovely purple Clematis is flowering for the first time this year- it isn't usually so late but it hasn't been happy being so exposed and kept itself to itself whilst a creeping flower wound around and protected it from the wind. Now it is happy enough to flower and is bringing a splash of deep aubergine to the patio for everyone to enjoy.

The Nasturtiums in the front garden have gone completely bonkers and have taken over most of the Lavender bed and the steps up to the grass in a most Triffid like way, winding little tendrils around anything in it's path. They do look pretty in the sunshine though.

The Tomatoes, I was informed earlier today, have now been turned over to me. They were grown by The Brother and his girlfriend, but he has taken an enormous new life step this morning and moved in to his University accommodation, ready to start a degree in Mathematics- once he's made it through Fresher's week of course. At this very moment I am told he is unpacking and making his room look more homely before The Parent's leave tomorrow morning.

We have a lovely vase of lilac coloured Alstoemerias (Lily of the Incas) on our table at the moment. They are such pretty blooms and make an excellent cut flower as they usually last for ages. I really like the spray of darker lines on the inner petals, I'm sure there is some scientific reasoning for it, a runway for bees perhaps, but I like to think of it as an extra decorative flourish.

Lately I have been working on a couple of commissions, some of which I can't yet show you fully on the blog. The stone above is part of a bigger commission, but I don't want to give too much away, I think it is quite a pretty thing and I'll try to remember to show you the rest when I'm allowed.

And otherwise I am still enjoying my stitchscapes as a therapeutic, after work and in front of the box set of Silent Witness activity. This one is sort of inspired by the lovely beaches we visited in Yorkshire, although they do look more like the chalky cliffs of the Seven Sisters than the cliffs seen in Scarborough and Robin's Hood Bay. I have a special plan for this piece though, with little pieces of the holiday entwined into it- I'm excited to show you when it is done, hopefully it will all go according to plan and imagination.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Little Barugh Holiday:: Days 6 - 8

Day Six::

Castles. That's mainly what we did on this holiday; castles and abbeys. It seems there is an abundance of both in Yorkshire- it was obviously the place for important or religious people to be living- especially considering the hundreds of castles and abbeys we didn't visit! I wonder how long it would take to go around them all? Day six, Thursday, started with one such castle- Pickering Castle to be exact. There isn't really a lot of this left, but it boasts magnificent views out over the town, and has the novelty of being above the steam railway so every now and then puffs of smoke appear above the trees below as the trains pull out of the station.
The castle is 13th century and has had a multitude of uses as a fortified castle, royal hunting lodge, holiday home and stud farm, and started out as a simple wooden motte and bailey fort, gradually being upgraded to stone over the generations. You can go into a couple of rooms in the remaining guard towers, which are now inhabited by nesting Pigeons who stare at you rather balefully when you burst in to their tower.

Hopping back into the car we made our way out towards the moors and Hutton-le-Hole, a very very quaint little village. There isn't really a lot here besides grazing sheep and a few picturesque cottages; there are a couple of tea rooms, a gift shop, a pub (which served excellent ham, egg and chips!) and some open artist studios/artisan shops. One thing it does have though, is the Ryedale Folk Museum.

The museum showcases how people lived in times gone by, with shops and houses going right back to an iron age roundhouse!! You start more towards the present day, and can look around a blacksmith forge, chemist shop, general stores shop, and saddlers workshop from the 1950s, gradually working your way deeper in to the past.

There is also a farming section with lots of old farm tools, a shepherds hut, old pig sties, gypsy caravans, vegetable plots and farm animals. For 50 pence a bag, you can make some chickens very happy and very fat by hand feeding them corn through the fence. The cockerel wasn't very good at that though, kept pecking at fingers rather than corn!! The hens were much more civilised and gracious about the whole process.

There is also a special museum building you can visit, which houses the Harrison Collection of English everyday antiquities and curiosities. It seems that Edward and Richard Harrison had an absolute obsession with salvaging everything they could find that was quintessentially English and old, from enormous Christmas gingerbread moulds, to wig powdering tools, cooking implements, chairs, ration books, burial jars, weaving tools, clay pipes and drinking beakers. They filled the attic in their house with pretend shop windows and many of the items they have collected you can find in the shops and houses, as well as in this museum. It is an absolutely monumental amount of 'stuff'.

After taking a trip though time (it was a bit like stepping out of Dr Who's TARDIS), it seemed only natural to spend the evening pretending to be Romans in the sheltered Roman-esque courtyard at our lovely holiday home, watching the sun go down over the roof of the opposite building. A rather peaceful ending to the day.

Day Seven::

One day at the beach was not enough for me, and I begged and begged to be allowed to go to another beach to hunt for more treasure and breathe in the salty air. Although I enjoy the beaches here in East Sussex, they are pebbled and there aren't large stretches of sand to wander along and marvel at. The other's eventually gave in and we drove down to Filey beach.

There was a threat of heavy rain that morning, especially as we had woken to the news on the radio of flash floods and half a month's worth of rain dropped in a few hours in other parts of the country. Our little oasis of Yorkshire hadn't had any rain yet, but the clouds were apparently working their way towards us so beach combing would have to be relatively quick. The sea front was also very empty apart from a few dog walkers, or well wrapper up hikers and we meandered un-disturbed along the sand. I collected lots and lots of lovely sea glass, along with the prettiest bi-valve shells with pastel stripes (I've had an idea for these you see), some much larger and impressively thick shells, and Dad even found some fossils! It was a magnificent treasure haul and I'm pretty sure my nagging had paid off and everybody enjoyed themselves.

We got back to the car just in the nick of time as the heavens opened and the rain started to pour down. Lots of very under-prepared people outside suddenly found they were incredible wet, whereas we were smugly gently steaming ourselves in the warmth of the car.

Not quite ready to leave the seaside yet, we drove round to Flamborough Head and Lighthouse. The weather was atrocious high up on the top of this cliff and we could barely open the car doors due to the wind buffeting them shut again. Once out, we struggled to put together a car picnic but eventually managed to gather together (without getting blown away) pork pies, bread and butter, tomatoes, crisps and even some scones and jam (with cream)- a real feast!! Whilst we munched, the weather started to brighten again and the rain stopped although the winds continued which I imagine they often would so high up. We decided to brave the weather, and all but The Mother went for a quick walk around the light house to admire the view down over the chalk cliffs and choppy sea. Apparently you can sometimes see Seals and Porpoises playing in the bay, and at certain times of the year, the cliffs are full of Puffins nesting.

By the evening, the weather had recovered its good nature and the sun had come out again, just in time for us to wander down to the orchard and field at the bottom of our holiday home to watch the sunset. We also had access to a special little sun room built overlooking this view and popped in to sit in comfort until the sun had nearly completely disappeared over the horizon. It was a fitting end to our lovely holiday.

Day Eight::

Our holiday breakfast routine was a little rushed and subdued on this final day. The majority of the packing had been done the night before, but there were still the last few items to stash away, beds to strip, the rooms to restore to how they were on arrival, the visitors book to write our glowing review in and the final photographs to take. Then the keys were handed back to our still smiling landlady and we drove out of the gateway for the last time (perhaps we will come back to this lovely holiday cottage again?).

So thank you for following my little holiday journey, I hope you enjoyed looking at my photographs from the places we visited, perhaps it will inspire your own holiday to Yorkshire.

The collection of photos below were taken through the week of the house and I thought you might like to see little snippets of the warm, homely interior. My bedroom was called the Duck Bedroom as it had been built up into the roof and some of the beams and angles of the sloping roof were so low you had to bend to move around. It wouldn't have suited The Brother or The Sister as they both tower above me, but in true Goldilocks style, it was the perfect little bedroom for me as I didn't need to 'duck' so often.
The Brother made crumble (his first attempt!) on two occasions with the apples picked from the orchard. It was absolutely scrummy and probably all the more delicious for being organic and hand picked- food always tastes nicer when you have picked it and chosen the fruit yourself doesn't it?

Monday, 19 September 2016

Little Barugh Holiday:: Days 4 & 5

Day Four::

Morning Everyone! What a glorious morning day four of our Yorkshire holiday was. We had developed a breakfast pattern, lazily get up at about 8.30am, mooch around making toast and smothering it with butter and Pear & Brandy jam from the local Ampleforth Abbey (part of our welcome basket and utterly delicious!), then make our way outside to sit on the bench in the Lavender garden with a mug of steaming coffee in one hand and a project- my latest stitchscape embroidery- in the other. Gently scented roses grow up the wall of the house and you are just surrounded by peace, roses, lavender and some very industrious bees. What better way is there to start a morning?

When we were all packed and prepared for our day, we set off to the nearby town of Pickering, which is about a five minute drive. Our destination....the train station!! This was a day for Dad as he really enjoys riding on trains, especially ones driven by steam as they give that extra chuff chuff chuff as you click along the tracks. The carriages were all vintage with each one being slightly different which was rather nice, and formed a working museum run and owned by the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust. From Pickering you could go all the way along the coast to Whitby which would probably take a couple of hours, but we instead decided to stop off at Goathland which was about half way.

Goathland is quite a little station which appears to be in the middle of nowhere as you are pretty surrounded by moorland. As we had about an hour and a half to wait for the next steam train back again, we wandered up into the village and found ourselves in the middle of a television set!! Do any of you watch Heartbeat? It's a drama/soap set in the 1960s, rural Yorkshire, which sort of focuses on the Police force there, and it just so happened that Goathland was also Aidensfield, the town from the soap! They keep several of the buildings or signs from the show up all year round, and as I used to watch it, I recognised quite a few of the places which was a bit strange. At the back of the 'Aidensfield Garage' there are all the tools and cars of the mechanics shop, with a temporary touristy gift shop squeezed into the front. We had lunch in the 'Aidensfield Arms', and shopped in the 'Aidensfield Stores'! Quite a random find in the middle of the Yorkshire moors, but the villagers have really made the most of it with lots of gift shops and tearooms- the place was buzzing!

Back at the station we hopped back on our train and sleepily made our way back to Pickering.

The excitement of the previous few days (and an awful lot of walking) sort of caught up with us that afternoon, and we spent a little while just sitting next to this rather picturesque river, chatting to the ducks, before making our way home to our beautiful cottage in Little Barugh for some quiet stitching in the garden.

Day Five::

Fully recuperated, and after following our morning ritual, we made our way to another rather spectacular ruin, Rievaulx Abbey (pronounced Ri-vo).  This is another English Heritage site, and is even grander than Whitby Abbey!

We got there rather early (a good thing too as the carpark is quite little and it was quickly filling up!) along with a group of keen photographers who were rushing around trying different angles and lenses to take the best images before the main touristy rabble arrived. I should think that they got quite a few rather spectacular photos, it would be quite hard to get a bad photo of such an impressive place, every part of it held some form of photographic interest.
Rievaulx was one of England's most powerful Cistercian monasteries, and the first one to be built in the North of England, established on land donated by Lord Walter l'Espec (the same chap who built Kirkham Priory, which we visited on day one). At it's height in the 1160s, it had a 650 strong community and was headed by its most famous abbot, Aelred, who expanded the monastery with several new buildings, including his own private lodgings.

It seems the building was continually evolving, as new buildings were built and other's changed usage. The lay brothers (the ones who did all the hard work for the monastery) almost entirely disappeared in the 14th century, which meant more room for the monks to start spreading out as they began to have higher standards of living, with individual or smaller rooms for sleeping in, rather than hundreds of monks in one large room on little mattresses.

It was shut down in 1538 as part of Henry VIII's Suppression of the Monasteries and was sold to the 1st Earl of Rutland who dismantled a lot of the buildings. We're quite lucky that this much was left! Excavation of the site revealed an ornate stone screen which was dismantled in the Great Church (the one with all of the arches) and set aside for collection later, but was hidden when part of the building collapsed on top of it, only to be discovered by English Heritage and safely stored in their on-site museum. I think my favourite museum artefact, was the carved stone Peacock, although it is unfortunately missing its head.

Above the Abbey, is a National Trust owned section of land called Rievaulx Terrace. Parts of the Rye Valley, including this strip of land, was sold to Sir Charles Duncombe, who built Duncome Park, about 2 miles away, and his nephew later built a posh terrace to showcase the romantic view of the Abbey ruins below, with two Classical Temples at either end of the walkway. What better way to impress your guests than have an enormous lawn miles away at the bottom of your rather extensive garden with the best ever views of an ancient monument?

The Ionic Temple (square shaped one) was essentially a stand alone dining room, built for entertaining guests. It has the most amazing painted ceiling, and is full of rather rich and decadent furniture and ornaments, designed to enthrall. As far as I can make out, there is one main room to house the table and chairs, then a couple of rooms underneath in which to prepare food and clean up afterwards.

As you walk along the terrace, which is quite a broad, well mown stretch of grass, the view of the Abbey below changes and you glimpse different parts of it through the trees, surrounded by green hills. At the other end, you reach the Tuscan Temple (the round one) which is more of a glorified summer house. You can't go inside this building as it isn't open to the public, but mirrors have been set just inside the windows so that you can easily view the rather marvelous plaster work on the ceiling. On the outside, I rather enjoyed the effect that years of graffiti have had on the yellow stone, the grooves really caught the light and made a lovely surface pattern most of the way around the back of the Temple- naughty people!

Our final stop on the way home from the wonders of Rievaulx, was to Nunnington Hall, another National Trust property. You know a place is going to be good when one of the first things you see on arrival is a pair of Peacocks- I love Peacocks!!

There were quite a few Peacocks too as we kept bumping into them in different places around the ground. Whilst we were refueling with caffeine in the outdoor part of the cafe, we had several inquisitive guests join us at our table- turns out these birds rather like flapjack! I managed to find several feathery treasures, carelessly dropped by both males and females, the iridescent blue feathers are quite marvelous, and although it appeared to be the wrong time of year for the flashy, showy 'eye' feathers, the slightly smaller, brilliant coloured ones were just as much of a reward.

Although you wouldn't necessarily believe it, looking at photos of a brilliant blue sky, sun pouring through the trees and happy nodding flowers everywhere, Nunnington Hall is haunted!! Lots of apparitions, and noises have been heard over the years, with doors opening and slamming shut in the dead of night, children's whispers coming from the attic, books flying across the room, and sometimes a terrified scream echoing through the house when no one else is there. One story is that of Lady Nunnington, who married one of the Lords of Nunnington after his first wife died. She already had a young son from a previous marriage, and the Lord also had one of his own. The two boys got on very well but the Lady didn't like the Lord's son as he would inherit everything. One night, this boy mysteriously disappeared without a trace, and his younger stepbrother (the Lady's son) searched for him endlessly, eventually falling to his death over a balcony. Lady Nunnington was distraught and is said to roam the halls weeping and searching for her own little boy, the sound of her dress is heard dragging up and down the staircase, but stops when it is investigated. Spooky.

Back outside, thoughts of ghosts firmly set aside, there is a lovely range of gardens, from a formal lawn, wild gardens, formal gardens and a very sweet kitchen garden, full of home grown produce (beans, potatoes, onions, apples) and a Mr & Mrs Scarecrow. In the orchard just outside, there is the Nunnington Wishing Tree which is a lovely, colourful idea. All those hopes and dreams blowing in the breeze.

We stayed at Nunnington until almost closing time, watching the Peacocks, searching for feathery treasures and enjoying watching the sun starting to set over the grounds, bathing everything it touched in a golden light. Join me again soon for the last couple of days of my Yorkshire holiday.