Saturday, 19 April 2014

Tulip Mania

Those who know me might be aware that the tulip is one of my favourite flowers.

As an Easter treat my husband took me to a tulip field.

In the field it felt like the tulips went on forever.

There a masses of varieties.

We picked quite a few.

They make me smile.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Minty fresh!

Today I baked, playing with some sugar paste, pretty food colouring gels and making a couple of icing bags.

I am hugely pleased with the results.

They have the look of spring and are minty fresh.

I love mint choc chip.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Not much of a rush

It was my birthday last month and, as a present I received a lovely art quilt kit from Deborah O'Hare of QuiltRoutes who sells on Folksy, Etsy and blogs here. I first came across her kits on Etsy and fell truely madly and deeply in love with her Moon Gazing Hare, which I will purchase one day.

Last year, Iain took me on a magical steam train journey to Weymouth where we spent a wonderful anniversary paddling in the sea, walking the promenade and visiting the lovely RSPB wetland of Radipole Lake where I stroked my first bullrush!

With such lovely memories, it seemed fitting to add Deborah's kit called Bull Rushes to my present list.

The kit comes in this lovely and sturdy manila card envelope with full colour image on the front. It just speaks quality to me.

Inside is everything you need except the threads to make the quilt. Beautiful hand painted fabrics, backing fabric in the most perfect mouse (I am slightly ashamed to say that the colour of mouse is as beautiful as the hand-painted loveliness on top of it), fusible batting and double sided sticky stuff. (Please forgive the lack of terminology, but this is my first art and fused quilt.) There are also the pattern pieces and layout diagram for those who wish to follow it and excellent instructions which also provides to link to Deborah's website, theseare provided on high quality paper.
What isn't included is thread and fabric to bind the edges of the mini quilt. As it is designed as a picture it can be finished in many ways and, after some thinking and research, you can see which method I chose at the end of the post.
My but the fabrics are just delicious.
I went shopping and chose 3 lovely threads that I thought went well. Guttermann is easy to purchase here in my two local quilting/sewing shops and I do like their threads (not that I've sewn with too many others to be honest).

It was time for a bit of ironing followed by some free motion quilting (FMQ), I've only really done one other piece before so I am still pretty uneven in stitch length etc but I don't really care that much.

Wow, that sky is blue. At the time of sewing there hadn't been much blue sky for the whole winter.
Then it was time to trace the pattern pieces onto the sticky stuff.
And fuse it to the wrong side of the fabric. Yep, you heard me - wrong side. So why did I decide to stick the leaves to the RIGHT side? I could have cried especially as this was such a lovely piece of fabric with a beautiful gold shimmer. Luckily for me this fabric is hand painted and so the back of the fabric had a good depth of colour, not like printed quilting fabrics. So after a bit of talking down by Iain, I was able to continue.

With all the pieces placed and ironed on, it was time for the fun to begin.

Man, this type of work creates lots of ends if not thought through.

With a bit of sewing it really started to come to life but I also realised that the leaves (now paler than intended) needed a bit more definition than I originally planned.

The purchase of some shiny green thread really worked. I also decided to zigzag the edges of my quilt, after I had carefully trimmed it square.

And voila! the finished quilt. I think it is lovely and, if I hadn't mentioned the leaves I don't think you would not be any the wiser. That blue is not so obvious now.

I love my little quilt and the memories i have attached to it as I sewed it. I would recommend one of Deborah's kits if you want to try making an art quilt.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

A walk to Bath

A few weeks ago I had to go into Bath and, as it was such a lovely day, I decided to document my route. I am very lucky to live just outside this World Heritage City and I still feel exceptionally lucky to be able to call this home.

The first glimpse of the suburbs of Bath, a parade of Georgian houses in the distance

After a walk I enter Sydney Gardens which has one of my favourite houses in Bath. I covet that lounge with its wonderful bay and flat roof terrace. It is possible to enter the gardens through a door in the Ionic Columned porch. A wonderful space to sit and soak up the sunshine.

The pathway continues to mature trees and a pedestrian bridge.

Looking to the right, the towpath travels along the Kennet and Avon canal through Bathampton, Dundas, Avoncliffe and beyond.

To the left, it flows through the Gardens and through Bath, onto Bristol. It is possible to moor in this basin providing excellent access to the theatre and other attractions.

Continuing through the gardens (they seem really big but they aren't although they are fairly spacious) there is this lovely replica of the temple to Minerva. The pediment is based on the freeze found at the Roman Baths.

Nearing the road there is this lovely example of Edwardian(?) toilets. When I first arrived they were abandoned to the plants. It is great to be able to see the structure and I really hope these can be restored.


As can be seen, the state of preservation is pretty good and I personally think they are interesting and pretty and I would love to be able to use them as intended.

In keeping with several city gardens the majority of houses surrounding it were provided with direct access. This means it is possible to pass from Sydney Gardens directly into the gardens of the Holburne Museum, with its new attractive glass extension.

I think the change from modern to Georgian is well handled.

The walk then takes me past this little summer house, which I think is adorable.

Once I pass this, I can take in the view of the famous Great Pulteney Street.

Looking back where I have come from, the beauty of Holburne museum can be enjoyed.

Walking along the wide expanse that is Great Pulteney Street it is easy to imagine how impressive this would have been when it was established. There are several side streets, one leads down to another garden but on the left hand side is the Recreation Ground. The park side of the grounds are entered by these wonderful 1930s turnstiles.

The right hand side of the grounds forms the infamous Rec, home of Bath Rugby.

Continuing down Great Pulteney Street, there are some lovely sights. The Windsor Hotel, where I spent my wedding night.

And a lovely balcony.

At the end of the street is Laura's Place and I take a quick detour to the end of the close. This is the Rec, on match day this is a popular spot for a free glimpse of the action.

Then I turn back to Laura's Place and cross over Pulteney Bridge.


Continuing straight on, past the traffic lights I then turn left to be greeted by Bath Abbey. Time for me to do a bit of shopping.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my route into the city.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sea food - yum!

Some of you may have heard some really interesting news on the grapevine - Bath has a new fish restaurant!
Now, this fish restaurant isn't any old chippy opening up. Oh no, it is run by the chef Martin Blunos and I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening night! (I will admit to being invited because of my husband but OMG I was so excited I even tried to sew a dress for the occasion, but that is a whole different tale.)
I have never been to a restaurant opening so wasn't sure what to expect and, by the end of the evening I was replete with fantastic and very fresh seafood. The restaurant itself is located underneath The County Hotel and ticks a lot of my personal boxes.
I really like the decor. There is grey and lime and chocolate. I am seriously in love with these colours. There is an accent of orange to add a bit of zing. I totally loved the circular seating and the small dining room containing three tables.
For those that are interested, there is a basket langoustine on the right hand table and they were truely delicious.
A selection of the tables near the kitchens provide a view of the fish counter, which was groaning under some amazing seafood. May I just say "oh! Oysters how I love thee".
I felt happy I could identify all the fish on the display unit.
I was also lucky enough to be able to view the kitchen but only from the door of course as I was wearing outdoor clothes.
Of course, the most important thing about a restaurant isn't the ambiance but the food. All evening I was lucky enough to sample fresh shucked oysters, mackerel soused in vodka, cherviche cod, caviar belinis, langoustine, goats cheese with anchovies and Parmesan crisps, tempura and some lovely, plump and delicious green olives and almonds washed down with champagne.
The restaurant ethos is simple - buy and serve the best fish of the day. In order to have the widest range of choice, book an earlier sitting as, as the fish is sold, the availability will change. This means that having dinner at 7 will provide a wider selection of dishes than sitting down for dinner at 9. This might a sound simple but this means that every diner will sit down to fish that is as fresh as possible and that it makes the best use of a special and very tasty resource.
I had a fabulous night, with excellent food and great company (which is what a meal is all about).
Blunos opens on 28 March and I look forward to eating there in future.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Getting A-Head with St Mungo's

My friend Janine aka @craftyactivist on Twitter encouraged a group of us to meet at Cozy Club last Tuesday for an evening of fun, chat and wooly fun. And thus the Craftivisam club was launched. The club meets on the 1st Wednesday & 3rd Tuesday of every month to craft some positive action. To keep up to date with meetings please see the Craftivism Facebook page.

One of the reasons for getting together was to support St Mungo's by providing hand crafted hats for their wooly hat day sales. St Mungo's does really excellent work with the homeless and are definitely worth supporting.


With such a wonderful suggestion, I grabbed some yarn from my stash, a crochet hook and joined in the fun. Having made a few hats I just free formed the hat. After all, crocheting in a darkened bar with clever friends doesn't tend to make it easy to follow a written pattern. I have decided to write out how I made my Mungo beanie. It is my first ever pattern so I cannot guarantee it is very well written.

Mungo's Beanie

50g DK yarn (I used Rowan pure wool DK)
4mm crochet hook
Row 1: Ch4, SS to make a ring.
Row 2: Ch3, 9dc into ring.
Row 3: Ch3, dc into next st, 3dc into each st, sl (26sts including ch)
Row 4: Ch3, *2dc into next st, 1dc into next st* repeat to end, sl (37sts)
Row 5: Ch3, dc into next sts, *2dc into next st, 1dc into next 2 sts*, repeat to last st, 1dc into bottom of chain, sl (48sts)
Row 6: Ch3, 2dc, *dc in next 3 sts, 2dc into next st* repeat to end, sl (60sts)
Row 7: Ch3, *dc in next 3 sts, 2dc into next st* repeat to end, sl (73sts)
Row 8: Ch3, dc every st, sl
Row 9: Ch3, dc in next 4 sts, *2dc in next st, dc in next 5sts* repeat to end, sl (82sts)
Rows 10 - 21: Repeat row 8 11 more times.

I changed colour on rows 15 and 17 to add two stripes of colour.

Weave in ends and put on a head to keep it warm.


Thursday, 12 December 2013

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas ...

At least if you take a walk into the centre of Bath.

The annual Christmas market is in full flow and so tonight Iain and I decided to go shopping. There were a huge range of stalls and we purchased some presents.

We also bought some cheese from the Snowdonia Cheese Company. Their ginger spice is especially lovely and we are trying a new flavour - white port and ruby which isn't on their website yet.

As always it was a pleasure to wander amongst the stalls trying different sauces and chutneys. I have some great ideas for the hampers we make.

The stalls had expanded towards the Cross Keys Bath, which looked excellent fully lit.

As usual the carousel outside the Pump Rooms was busy and full of riders having a great time.

After a cup of mulled wine and a delicious Schwartz Burger it was time to walk home.