craft, crochet, garden, knitting, nature, summer, travel, Uncategorized

Stourhead Revisited

Part of my plans to get fitter (and therefore feel less guilty when I sit down to knit / crochet!) has included a new exercise regime.

As I had a couple of days off last week, I decided to go to Stourhead, one of my favourite National Trust gardens¬†and only a short drive from home. ¬†The grounds are absolutely beautiful – so much so that in my many visits, I haven’t yet ventured into the House!

There are many buildings around the lake, which all offer a different view of the surroundings.  The gardens are most famous for their rhododendrons and azaleas, but there are many other wonderful trees and shrubs to enjoy.

I was much later visiting this year than previously, but the show of colours did not disappoint…

Stourhead Head Gardener, Alan Power, was very kind to respond to my Tweet asking what these two lovely and unusual specimens were Рthe first he told me was Crinodendron Hookerianum Рthe Chile Lantern Tree and second was an Enkianthus.

The next two are reverse views Рmy favourite view from my favourite place, the Temple of Apollo Рand the view of the Temple from the other side of the lake.  This lovely monument featured in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice Рin the proposal scene.

All in all it was an inspirational visit, and a lovely start to my new regime.

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nature, spring

Springtime in Wiltshire

This week I’ve been¬†holidaying at home, and what a lovely week it has been!

I’ve managed to get in some fun days out and shopping trips as well as getting some of those long-overdue jobs done at home…

On Thursday I had a lovely trip out to Lacock.  This is a beautiful village owned by the National Trust, and includes a beautiful Abbey and grounds.

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The village is beautifully kept and as most of the buildings range from 14th to 18th Century, it is heavily used as a filming location for many period dramas, including Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Cranford. ¬†The Abbey cloisters have also been featured in many of the Harry Potter films. ¬†It is a film and TV buff’s dream destination!

We’ve had such a mild winter here in the UK that strolling through¬†the Abbey grounds, I found a wonderful carpet of spring flowers as far as the eye could see…

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Carpets of yellow and purple Crocuses, Cyclamen, my favourite Snowdrops, and even the odd patch of Daffodils and Narcissi already in bloom.

 

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I then wandered into a part of the garden that I have not visited before and found this wonderful Botanical Garden.

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What a lovely way to finish my week off.  And to top it all the Fox Talbot Photography Museum at the Abbey had an exhibition of Icelandic landscape photographs Рa year from now I am hoping to be back in Iceland, probably one of the most beautiful places on this planet, and certainly one of the most fascinating.

One of my earliest blogs was about Iceland, so I may have to revisit that one now and ramp up the excitement factor for next February!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Uncategorized

Wiltshire and Somerset Travels

I am very lucky to live in the beautiful county of Wiltshire.  Within a few minutes of my home is beautiful countryside Рheading north, the beautiful Bradford-on-Avon and the spectacular Roman city of Bath.  Heading south there is the world-renowned Stonehenge and Salisbury, dating back to the iron age.

To the west, my best-loved town, Frome (OK so it is technically in Somerset!), with its arts and crafts and to the east the even more magical stone circle of Avebury and the up-market Marlborough.

This weekend has been a wash-out so far (typical British weather!) so I have been limited to a quick trip to Frome. ¬†Visiting Mary Kilvert’s fabulous shop I bought a few goodies (can’t spoil the surprise on those by posting piccies!) and enjoyed my chat with her very friendly and helpful staff. ¬†I also visited a little Italian cafe called Paccamora¬†opposite Mary’s shop, which was full of character, and the tea’s not bad either…

I also just happened to, ahem, pop into Marmalade Yarns, which is fast becoming my go-to yarn shop.  Maxine very kindly offered knitting advice, and I got a sneak peek of her latest ideas for the next window display.  I treated myself (quelle surprise!) to some lovely yarn Рsome for more makes for my forthcoming Etsy shop, some to make a fancy scarf for Anna, and a bit of beautiful lace to perhaps make myself a wrap or shawl.

My camera has given up the ghost so I have no piccies sadly, but have now treated myself to a new one Рyay!  So that means I will have to go back.  And, perhaps, buy some more yarn?

Despite the current inclement weather, over the last week or so, I had time for a couple of trips to one of my favourite local destinations РThe Courts Garden in Holt Рa National Trust venue.

 

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The borders were jam-packed with beautiful specimens – unfortunately I only had an hour to walk around so i didn’t get to enjoy it fully. ¬†The pond is my place of solace and reflection¬†(well, not in it, you understand!)…

Another day I met up at the local Country Park, for a long walk in the sunshine, with my friend Anna and her little boy Mikey, amiably and ably assisted by their bonkers dog, Dave (known to me as Dave-a-roo).

 

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As you can see Mikey is incredibly photogenic.  Dave, on the other hand, is a Rottweiler in a Chihuahua body whilst out and about.  I have promised him that I will never reveal his secret.  When at home he is known to me as Shaky Dave Рhe literally quivers at the slightest approach of my cat Ella or anyone else.

Oops Dave – sorry – the secret is out…

Happy weekend all!

 

Lou x

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Uncategorized

Standen delivers…

I have had a really busy couple of weeks, planning for a Craft Fair I will be doing in Devon on Saturday.

It involves a long drive and a very early start, but hopefully then an evening in a nice Devon pub and a glass or two of tipple to warm me ol’ cockles!

In the meantime I spent a lovely weekend with Mum and Dad over Easter, we had lots of fun and I was thrilled to see Mum knitting, she has developed quite a taste for it! ¬†We are going to Spain again soon so hopefully will take some projects with us…

We visited a¬†National Trust property –¬†Standen – which is absolutely wonderful, and well worth a visit. ¬†Sadly I hadn’t charged my camera so I couldn’t get any pictures. ¬†Standen is a beautiful arts and crafts house, built in the 1890s and is filled to the brim with the most wonderful arts and crafts architecture, furnishings and art.

 

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Most of the textile furnishings are from the unspeakably talented William Morris & Co, which are still running today, now owned by Sanderson.  Some of their wallpapers on sale today bear the name Standen.  The rich greens, russets and golds are a joy to behold.

William Morris was a designer, artist, writer and activist and was a dominant force in the Arts & Crafts movement Рclosely linked to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Рwhose works are also dotted around the house.

Both groups had a huge social conscience and were concerned¬†about the rise of industrialism and wanted beauty and purpose from items, reflecting a return to the handiwork of previous ages. ¬†There is a very famous quote attributed to William Morris – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

How true that is, this is something that has always inspired me – I am yet to fully achieve it I think, but this is certainly the dream for most of us!

Some of the textiles at Standen were made as kits by William Morgan and the family themselves (well, I am rather assuming, the ladies of the family) completed them.  The design was pressed onto the fabric almost like painting by numbers, not dissimilar from the tapestry kits you can buy today in any haberdashery!  You can see the differences in the quality and individuality of the work between different family members and some pieces must have taken several people many months or perhaps years to complete.

Another artist and prolific ceramics¬†maker was William de Morgan, who became friendly with William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. ¬†His name was not so well known to me, but his tiles, vases and other ceramics were so beautiful and evocative of the Persian style and colour palette which he loved¬†so well. ¬†This is one from the de Morgan collection, but there were many similar at Standen. ¬†Rich opulent colours which always hold me in rapture…

 

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There is much further evidence of these two social / art movements in William Morris’s house – the¬†Red House¬†in Bexleyheath – on the South London / Kent borders, again an inspirational National Trust property well worth a visit.

My favourite of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood is Dante Gabriel Rossetti – mainly because of his work, but also the rich stories you hear of his excesses, including a love of exotic animals, which he rather took to the extreme by having a Toucan riding a Llama around his dining room as a party trick. ¬†This is one of his most famous paintings, ‘The Day Dream’. ¬†And who was the¬†muse and lover employed here¬†as a model? ¬†None other than¬†William Morris’s wife, Jane.

 

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And if you fancy delving more into their stories, albeit slightly embellished, the BBC series Desperate Romantics, with the gorgeous (and now rather¬†famous) Aidan Turner¬†plays¬†the dashing and delicious Dante…

 

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Happy (arts and) crafting!

 

Lou

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