Friday, 24 August 2012

A visit to Wrest Park

One of my favourite places to visit locally is Wrest Park, now owned and administered by English Heritage. I have written about it before, but it is a couple of years since I last visited and English Heritage have done a lot of work.  My fondest memories of the park are from the early 80's when it housed the local agricultural college.  The gardens would be open at the weekend and you paid 50p to go through a beautiful gateway into the park which was only minimally maintained.  It was a magic place only really known by locals.  We would take a picnic and spend all day there. In the overgrown woodland part of the park there were little pavilions and summer houses, a dogs cemetery, a Roman 'temple',  two small lakes, hidden statues, a chinese bridge and a 'Roman' bath house.  The park also has extensive croquet lawns. My U3A group went for a tree walk there on Thursday, so it was a good opportunity to visit for free.
The park has undergone many changes and has the hand of Capabilty Brown as well as other landscape designers. But Thomas de Grey built the present house in c1834 in the French style and had a formal garden laid out.

This is a view of the house from the other side of the crochet lawns. Ha ha! I think that should be croquet lawn!  Please click on the photos for a close-up - that ride-on lawn mower is worth a closer look.

The parterres have been restored and beautifully planted.  This is a view from the terrace down to the pavilion at the far end of the main lake.

The pavilion

Another view from the terrace.

This is the restored Italian garden.
Although the formal gardens are beautiful it is the magnificent of the trees in the park which seems to make it serene and tranquil retreat even when it was busy with many visitors as it was on Thursday.
New cones on an ancient Cedar

I kept getting left behind as I wanted to take photographs, must go again so I can linger longer.

The really long needles of the Pinus ponderosa - Western Yellow Pine - I did take in some of the talk.

Another view of the pavilion from the end of the lake.

The sun shining through the leaves of the Indian Bean Tree, which I always assumed came from India, but in fact is a native of North America like the mis-named red Indians.

Here is the Chinese bridge which spans the canal which forms a u shape perimeter to the park.

A red wood

This is a mulberry tree, it had lots of fruit on it.

Don't you just love trees? I could definitely hug them, if I could get my arms round them!

I have been to Wrest Park more times than I can remember but there were still treasures to be found.
I had never seen the Dolls' House before,  I wonder what lucky children played in here.

And below is a stained glass window from the dairy which houses a selection of statues from the garden.

Here are a couple of details from a lead Columbine who I was rather taken with.  It was very busy and I couldn't get any full length shots.

To finish my tour I leave with a few bumble bees.

You can see some of my other photographs taken at Wrest Park on my Fickr site here.

Now that's my advert for English Heritage over with, have a great Bank Holiday Weekend.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

F.O.Q. Report

I had a wonderful, if exhausting day on Thursday at the Festival of Quilts, the first time I have visited this show.  I took a few photographs of exhibits, but I thought I would share my experience for those of you who couldn't make it.  The day started well when I picked up my friend who found out at the last minute she could join me,  and we arrived in Milton Keynes in good time for the train - that was until Sally realised she had left her mobile phone on the kitchen table and it had the pin number on it for her to obtain her pre-booked train tickets from the machine. We had to use my phone to ring her husband, who couldn't operate her mobile, who then had to wake her daughter to retrieve the number, and a sleepy fourteen year old is not always on the ball even when the train is due in five minutes and there is a long queue for the machines.  I left Sally in the queue as she had an open ticket and rushed to the platform, luckily the train was a few minutes late and we were fine - happy to sink into our seats.

If you have never been to the NEC Birmingham, it is a huge site, and after waiting over ten minutes for a shuttle bus we decided to walk.  This must take at least ten minutes including several long moving walkways.  I decided that £6 for the programme was essential and my friend and I split up and made a rendezvous for an hour and a half later for lunch.  I decided to have a walk round the space first to get my bearings.  I knew a couple of stands I wanted to visit and artists I wanted to look out for.  However although I knew one blog contact, Maggi Birchenough was on the SAQA stand until 11.30, I could not located it anywhere and it was not until reading the programme on the train home that I found out which stand this was - it was listed under something different.  So disappointingly I missed her.  I did locate the Kemshalls and it was lovely to be able to say hello.  Lunch was rather disappointing.  When I went to the Stitch show in March, they had one of the restaurants open and my friends and I were able to get a pleasant enough meal, this time there were only the smaller kiosks open or food trailers like they have at outdoor craft fairs etc - so, alright if you want fish and chips, a baguette or jacket potatoes - no nice salad or pasta so we ended up with a portion of chips. After lunch I took my time looking at the displays of quilts in the competitions and at the different artists who had stands. I was delighted to see this one by Alicia Merrett, which featured in the April/May Quilting Arts magazine.  I certainly lived up to my expectations.

Canal Country -Alicia Merrett

It was also easy to spot Stephanie Redfern's work - (close-ups only I'm afraid) whose blog I follow.
It was difficult to get decent pictures as there were a lot of people looking at the exhibits.

The Moth Pages - Stephanie Redfern

Beyond Dark Spaces - Stephanie Redfern

Stephanie was there on a stand and I had recommended her work to my friend.  When we met up to leave Sally said she had enjoyed Stephanie's stand and she had been there very busy talking to people  - I had missed it completely. I knew she was on stand Demo H but I could not find it on the plan anywhere!  Sally had come upon it completely by accident.
Here are some other quilts from the competition display.

A Tapestry of Canary Wharf - Mari-Theresa Fernandes

Fragments of Time - Hazel Ryder

Don't Go - Laura Kemshall

I had followed Laura making this quilt on her blog, so it was wonderful to see it.  the stitching was fantastic - all the whirls in the fingertips were stitched.
I was also fascinated by Kate Dowty's recent work, there was a big stand of her works

It was definitely worth visiting.  I can now see why two shorter visits would be preferable, but I will go again next year.  I think it would be worth buying a show guide in advance so you can locate what you want to see.  I found it difficult to concentrate on deciphering the guide when I was there, especially as I was unfamiliar with the show. I did buy a couple of gadgets and some supplies - well you have to, but the work on display was the real star of the day.
Hope you are enjoying some sunshine.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Whoosh - another week gone by...

This is more than one week's work,  I don't want you to get the wrong idea. 
 Like many others it seems, I have been spending a lot of time watching the Olympics on the television or on the computer the last couple of weeks, and although my interest in events has waned a little I shall be sorry when it is over.  I do hope the country can maintain the feel good factor.  I can remember the feeling when my husband directed a youth theatre and I would get involved.  The week of a production we would be exhausted but on a terrific high, as was everyone involved.  After the last curtain call there was a great sense of pride and relief, but also sadness as that combination of people, who had worked together so intensely over many months, would not be coming together again in the same way.  It was like a brief bereavement.  For the athletes, their coaches and support teams, the management, and all the wonderful volunteers the end of the games will leave a great gap in their lives, the build up has been so terrific.  At least there will be a great big party and for the athletes as for the theatre group there is always the next event to prepare for.  Still it's not over yet, and hopefully everyone will be really looking forward to the Paralympics to carry on the high.

Back to the City and Guild's work I have been doing. 
 First a bit of research on patchwork.  I have to admit I enjoyed the 'colouring in'  much more than I did the writing.  Luckily not a great deal of evidence of research is required for the course. 

Below are some samples of paper and fabric I printed
with the block I designed from a distorted traditional one.

Below is the mosaic piecing completed - I did quite enjoy this, but my stitching is a bit variable, this is only A4 size, I cannot imagine what my stitches would be like if I was making a larger quilt.

Here is the patchwork quilted with little ties and beads.  The other piece is one of the printed fabrics hand quilted. 

 I don't think my stitches would win any prizes ... 

... but my running stitch is better.

I'm really looking forward to going to The Festival of Quilts on Thursday, and I will now know a bit more about the skills involved and be able to appreciate the work(wo)manship even more.  
I know I'm going to have a great week, and I hope you do too.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Saturday - A week in Pictures.

Went to visit Dad on the Isle of Wight, we had a very nice lunch here at Niton, near St Catherine's Point for all you shipping forecast listeners.

He's pretty sprightly for 90.  We went for a short walk in Ventnor Botanical Garden...

... and then another down Yarmouth pier.

Back in Luton on Thursday... friends and I head for the bus shelter to wait for Lady Godiva on her trip from Coventry to London...

... an hour and a half later, 

something's happening and a GPO van has broken down at the traffic lights...

Well that's all over - lasted a bit longer than the Tour de France passing by.
My friends and I say good bye.

August's calendar page is looking very minimal at the moment. 
 Not been my day.  Just wondered why I couldn't smell dinner cooking, when I realised that the meat has been in the main oven for an hour, when I had turned on the top one, that's why have time to write this. 
Well done Team GB - enjoying the Olympic's much more than I expected.
Have a good week