Tuesday, 19 April 2016

What's new, pussycat?

Lately I've been having a bit of a Spring purge, chipping away at all the endless things I don't need. It's the usual pass it on to friends, charity shops and ebay scenario. I try not to pass anything more to landfill than absolutely necessary.

I'm hoping eventually to be able to reintegrate the small bedroom back into the house as usable space, maybe with my sewing machine set up so that it's much easier to do little sewing projects. In the meantime, every now and again, I claim the dining table and then there's fabric and thread everywhere for a few days.
I've taken up patchwork again, slowly. I'm sure I'll decide eventually what to use it for.
Sometimes a stray pin finds its way onto the sofa or rug, and then there's a massive yelp as human flesh yields to sharp pointed metal. I get told off and hang my head in shame, but somehow it keeps happening, so I think everyone will be pleased when the sewing department is rehomed.
I knocked up this little bag with some leftovers. It's very useful for days out. The turquoise fabric is what's left after making a dress and a pair of shorts, and the pocket fabric also has a matching cushion and porch curtain.
I know you're supposed to stand three quarters on and do something with your leg to make you look slimmer. Maybe even brush your hair. But, let's be honest, this isn't Vogue.
I've been growing that belly this winter, since I've been unable to play my beloved tennis, but it's time to sort it out. Walking, salad and weekend-only alcohol are on the cards.
I've also been following the rule of dealing with things on the mending pile before starting a new project, so hems have been altered and other scintillating things of that nature. The dress above was a 1960s Hawaiian dress before, but huge and in a different style. Luckily the main pieces were intact so I unpicked it all, made a pattern from another dress I wear loads in the summer, and remade it.
The much worn 1960s dress having a day out in Dordogne, last September
My current project is to recycle loose covers from our old sofa, which, after 20 years service, has been retired. I'm currently unpicking what feels like miles of stitching. In its next life, it will be a dress.

Talking of creative things, a while ago, I received the most wonderful surprise package. I came in after work to find it on the kitchen island. I was mystified, so I started ripping it open. Everything about it was beautifully done. The penny was starting to drop. It was a gift from the lovely and talented Lynn after I commented on her blog. I once had a writing case very like this, which had belonged to my dad, and which was stolen in a burglary, years ago. So this replaces it. I can put special bits and pieces in it.
Thank you so much Lynn, it was the kindest thought. I love it. x

So how about you, has Spring had any effects on you? Any cleaning and tidying? Or are you inspired to start a new project or regime?

I loved hearing about what's happening in your towns and villages, thank you.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Country roads take me home

I've just had a whirlwind few days down in the South West, visiting friends, family and sorting out the last few bits to do with my mum's house before it gets passed on to new owners.
I stopped off in Bristol on the way down to catch up with my lovely greeting card chums. I really miss seeing them, but we're planning a proper day out soon.

It was a pretty full on schedule and I camped out in an empty house again, but it was lovely to see everyone, albeit briefly and spend time in the country towns and villages of my childhood.
Even though I wasn't staying in Merriott, where the family home was for many years, I always like to drive through, just to check all is well. It's very rural. Not a place in any kind of hurry. People say hello when they pass each other on the street, even if they have never met before.

Most of the village is made up of 17th and 18th century hamstone cottages, hamstone being the local honey coloured stone, quarried at Ham Hill, a place we spent a lot of time running around in during our childhood.
Manor cottage, a grade 2 listed farmhouse built in 1663, which sits at the end of our road. I love the mullion windows with curly ironwork

The village is still encircled by working farms so it's quite common to get caught behind a tractor. In years gone by, you'd get stuck behind animals moving from barn to field, but that doesn't happen any more.
Pronounced 'Tamill' by the locals, just down this lane is the mill which produced the sailcloth for The Victory

Merriott was mentioned in the Domesday book, mainly for its rich agricultural land but also in relation to its mills which produced cloth for sailcloth, including for Nelson's ship, The Victory. This means something to me, as my four times great grandfather fought alongside him in the Battle of Trafalgar.
This is cider country. That church is where my great aunt was christened, married and had her funeral service. She was born and bred in the village and had the most wonderful Somerset accent, along with her mother, our great-great aunt, who would tell us stories about her life in service in the big house, and had the most endearing chuckle in the entire universe
The next town, Crewkerne also has its connections, as that is where Vice Admiral Hardy of 'Kiss me, Hardy' (or kismet, you choose) fame, went to school.
The old lock-up, where drunks would get put in for the night by the local constabulary after drinking too much cider

At one point the village was owned by the family of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey, but after she was executed, the lands were seized by the crown and redistributed. There was a rumour that our school, not so far away, was haunted by poor old Lady Jane. Who can blame her for not finding peace?
This lovely lady was like a second mum to me in my late teens and early twenties when my parents lived abroad and I was living in the family home. She's a great cook and full of life and fun. We've remained friends ever since and I always try to see her when I'm down that way.

The latest upsetting of the peace relates to Damien Hirst's sister, who has bought the old King's Head pub then shut it and tried to gain change of use to make it into a house. The locals aren't best pleased.

So, do tell, what's it like where you come from? What's great or interesting about it?