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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Another day - another city

Thanks for all your lovely comments on my previous post.  Well done those eagle eyed followers who read the labels and noted that it was Exeter we went to!  The photo in my current header is the Lock Keepers Cottage on the Exe canal which I have written about having visited it in July last year and again this summer too.

Yesterday saw me heading off on the train to London where I was to meet up with a fellow blogger I'd never met but had exchanged e-mails with - Molebags whose lovely blog I enjoy  - and our mutual non bloggy friend.

We met at the station and then headed off along the South Bank which was packed with tourists and like struggling along Oxford Street or maybe even Weymouth beach!

 Here is where we were going.

The Garden Museum is housed in a disused church and has a lovely little cafe where you can eat outside in the one time graveyard which is now a lovely quiet garden.

 If you enlarge this photo by clicking on it you will see the tables where we sat with our lunch under the trees on the right - lovely and one could forget that the busy main road was just yards away.

 After lunch we crossed the river - aren't those clouds beautiful?

 Looking back you can see the Garden Museum just where the red bus is and Lambeth Palace just hidden behind the trees alongside.

 This is where we were off to - the Tate Britain - we had tickets for the Folk Art exhibition.
Loved this beautiful stairway all done in black and white and shiny chrome - we all wanted to float down the stairs in ballgowns like Hollywood movie stars!

I just loved the patterns it made.

The exhibition was interesting with all kinds of exhibits including paintings, needlework, wooden ships figureheads, shop and pub signs and so on and one of my favourites was this chicken made by a prisoner of war sometime about 1800 using bones from the kitchen for all the feathers - this photo doesn't do it justice you'd have to see it to realise just how clever it was.

And of course I found a piece of crazy patchwork!  This unfinished cushion cover took my eye and made me want to do some more.

I noticed these windows in the entrance hall on our way out, after having had scones and tea and a nice sit-down in the outdoor courtyard, and I thought made a delightful restrained change from stained glass...

... what do you think?

Our walk back to the station took us along the river and past the Houses of Parliament where this sign caught my eye and made me smile!  For more about Black Rod check the link here.  Back at Waterloo I had to dash for the train or wait another hour - just caught it but it was packed and standing room only for the first half hour but eventually I did find a seat and was able to relax and enjoy the journey home especially as the shadows lengthened and the sun slid slowly down in the west painting everything especially the corn fields with a beautiful apricot glow.  Yet another lovely day out - how lucky am I to be able to get out and about and to have so many friends with whom I can visit such places and how lucky to have my home to return to at the end of the day and Mr M waiting at the station to take me there..

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Summer in the city

A mini wild flower meadow buzzing with beas and other insects

All the above pictures taken within a couple of minutes walk from the mainline station!

A lovely mosaic made by Elaine Goodwin and below a detail

These quiet scenes are all just a few yards from the shops and the heaving crowds.

All this and shopping too - I rarely find anything I like and am not a keen shopper but yesterday was my lucky day plus a pair of new pillows too.

Can you guess where we went yesterday?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

I can do this...

 ... write a post with very few words!  That's a first here!

Photos taken yesterday and best seen full page - just click on them.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Post script to previous post

Have just read  this article about plastic in the sea and noted that:  "The Lego isn't a one-off thing - it happens all the time. There's a certain type of cigarette lighter that's from a container spill more than 20 years ago which is still washing up on Cornish beaches today" so maybe that was where all those lighters I noticed on Chesil Beach earlier this year came from?

There's simply no end to the rubbish in our world is there?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Soucis, friends and books

A little pot of marigolds.  I cut some back where they were growing across the path to the washing line and saved the flowers to display in a little paste pot on my kitchen windowsill.  The marigolds grew from seeds originally given to me by Lesley over at Printed Material and the little pot is a 1950s paste pot one of several given to me by another friend when I had admired one she had.  I am reminded of yet another friend too this time a French friend who grew marigolds in her garden and who told me they were called soucis and that the word also means little anxieties or worries.

Speaking of anxieties have you ever noticed how it is that when a topic takes your eye you come across it over and over again?  Last week I watched a programme about consumerism The Men Who Made Us Spend and was shocked at the number of mobile phones that were shown being thrown away as consumers rush to get the latest and newest version. That people would be prepared to queue for 18+ hours just to be first with the latest version strikes me as crazy but then as you know I am a bit of a technological Luddite.

 Then I picked up this leaflet in the local farm shop mainly because I liked the illustrations but it seemed that the actual magazine was on a similar topic but looked at from a different view.

That of the land or the earth and how we all depend on it for our very survival.

In the Waitrose Weekend freebie on Friday I came across this article in which Kate humble is talking about the Barefoot Wine Beach Clean-ups in which she tells of the incredible number of cotton bud sticks which litter the beaches causing death to wildlife it seems people toss them down the toilet and they then end up in the sea - I was reminded of the walk I did along Chesil Beach after last winter's storms and how shocked I was at the amount of plastic in particular the number of disposable plastic lighters there were strewn along the beach.

Having read this post  on Leanne's blog Tales of Simple Days   I also noticed this little video in her side bar and was drawn to watch it and left almost in tears.  I urge you to take a look.

All of the above made me wonder - are there any answers to the dreadful problems which beset our beautiful world?  It's not only the environment,  there's the sweatshops where cheap clothing for the Western world is produced to be worn a few times and then disposed of, the wars which take place round the world and the mindless destruction of innocent people as in the Malaysian air disaster and.........  Does anything I can do make any difference?  I remember as a child being taught that we must always strive to do the right thing but that doing the right thing might not be easy.  I think the more difficult thing is knowing what is the right thing.  I think we must believe that if enough of us do what we feel to be right things will one day improve - if it's not too late.

Now on a totally different topic: Books

Here is my current non-fiction selection from the library.  I have enjoyed the Amazing Spaces book and wonder if it is something innate in most of us to want to make a den or small place in which to live or spend time.  I'd sometimes love to run away to a small place where I could live the simple life ... or would I?  The Slice of Britain is a novel idea in which the author takes a tour round Britain sampling the various regional cakes and biscuits and idea she had when she noticed that she could have any number of foreign delicacies with her daily coffee from the local coffee shop but where were the traditional British cakes?  I haven't read it yet but it looks promising.  You will see I have got hold of a book about the Elmhirsts of Dartington as I was so fascinated with the whole place when I visited Dartington Hall and I now know what the tapestries in the Great Hall were inspired by - you might remember my photos had light reflections obscuring the information I wanted.  I am loving the bottom book in the pile which is Angie Lewins Plants and Places  I adore her illustrations and feel inspired to translate some of her designs into textiles, embroidery or patchwork or something.  All those umbellifers call to me!  I haven't yet returned the Slow Devon book as I am still wondering about making a September BBB trip!

Better stop waffling on now hope I haven't bored you too much?  Thank you for all your comments on my previous posts.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Learning v lessons and another outing for you

The Wanderer telephoned for a chat last night and one of the things she said got me thinking.  She said that she'd been meaning to say "thank you" to me for teaching her about what constitutes healthy eating. She had apparently been chatting to a couple of her friends - girls (no make that young women they are after all both in their early 30's like the Wanderer) who I remember coming to our house and whose parents I got to know when picking up the wanderer from theirs - about diet and losing weight.  The wanderer has always been slim and doesn't need to lose weight (lucky thing!) but these two young women are a little overweight in the case of one and more than a little in the other and the Wanderer was amazed that they didn't seem to know what foods caused their weight gain nor what to cut back on in order to lose their excess weight things she felt she had learned at my knee.

When I had picked myself up off the floor at the thought of my offspring being appreciative of anything I might have done right in the past I thought about what she had said.

I had never been aware of "teaching" my daughter about such things although it's true of course that I probably explained why too much chocolate or too many sugary drinks were not a good idea and whilst I usually cooked from scratch, though that's not to say she was never allowed any junk food at all (for I knew that way lay rebellion and demand for even more and anyway I myself wasn't averse to the odd packet of crisps), and we did have an allotment and grew many of our own vegetables, I made my own bread and we kept a couple of hens for eggs, so that the Wanderer knew about the difference between battery hens and free range eggs and so on from a fairly early age, I never actually taught her any of this and it came to me how we learn things not only from lessons but also by example and from conversations and thus just what a responsibility being a parent is in that we need to be aware of just how much we unwittingly pass on to our children.  What other things have I taught her that are yet to come to light I wonder! 

I thought of my mother and just how like her I am becoming  and how so many of her mantras have become my own - waste not want not, make do and mend, we may be poor but that's no excuse for being common (a heinous crime!), never put the milk bottle on the table use a jug, and many many more including the one I would thank my mother for most which is to be grateful and happy with what we have and to envy no one who has more (this latter I never remember her actually saying but I picked it up from her nonetheless).  And I remember her telling me that her mother (whom I never knew as she died when my mother was just 14) had often sung "Count your blessings, count them every one" whilst struggling with the mangle or blackleading the grate and so on - so maybe she too had learned lessons from her mother in this way.

What lessons do you hope your children will learn from you or have you learned rather than been taught?

 On a totally different tack now - as it was a rest day for the cyclists in the Tour de France Mr M was happy to forgo his usual afternoon ensconced in front of the television watching all those chaps in lycra pedaling furiously, falling off and so on, and probably wishing he was one of them having been a bit of a cyclist in his youth, to go on an outing with me.  We decided to revisit Budleigh Salterton which you may remember I had been to back in June last year on BBB II.  The above photo was taken at Exmouth and shows that when the tide is in the estuary looks so much nicer than the mudflats we had seen on our first visit. 

The sea along the south coast of Devon is red as you can see and I am wondering whether this is due to the winter storms which caused so much damage to the cliffs and washed so much land away last winter or if it is something else entirely - anyone know?  I noticed several of these little pebble paintings along the beach and thought about those artists who create works of art which are ephemeral and last only until the tide comes in or the rain washes them away and that there must be a lesson in there somewhere!

 BS is a working seaside with an area where the fishing boats and tackle are to be found made attractive with this lovely floral boat set in pebbles.

 Another floral planted boat - I loved them.

 We had fish and chips again for lunch - this time from the lovely little Fish and chip shop I had bought from last summer on BBB II and they were absolutely delicious.  What was that I said above about healthy eating?  But these were really good and not at all greasy the batter being light and crispy and the chips hot and not all soggy as is often the case and it is not a regular meal for us and it will probably be another 12 months before I have them again anyway.

 We walked along the sea front towards the Otter estuary.

Where we planned to walk and did wonder whether to walk to Otterton and get a bus back from there but that was a bit difficult as we didn't know exactly how long it would take us and if we missed a bus we'd have to wait another hour for the next and that complicated getting a bus back to Exmouth for the train to Exeter.  Bus pass travel is great but it can be time consuming!

We did manage to get all our connections and even discovered we could break our journey in Exeter and went to M&S for a cuppa and some bread for supper before resuming our journey home.  Another lovely day out hope you've enjoyed coming with us?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Outings and thoughts

Thank you for all your comments on my previous post regarding WiFi.  It was good to read that I am not alone in my opinions regarding technology but also good to have the other side of the argument raised too.  I came across this interesting article recently and also this one which is the other side of the coin - I think you will be able to guess which type of school I would choose!

I'm thinking of buying shares in National Rail as we are using the train so often lately!

Last week we had another day out and this time we took a train to Honiton where we spent a couple of hours wandering round and visiting the little Museum which is the tiny building bottom right in the photo above.

Honiton is famous for its lace - the art of lace making was introduced to Honiton by Flemmish refugees in the early 1500s.  In the early stages of its production it was made by first working individual motifs which would then be incorporated into a background (sounds a bit like Irish crochet to me)   The pieces I saw were very intricate and when I consider the difficulty I had with a tiny scrap I made as part of my City and Guilds Creative Textile course I am in awe of anyone who could do this fine detailed work especially when one thinks that it would have been worked with very little daylight (tiny windowed cottages) or by candle-light.

We had a coffee in the Lacemakers cafe before catching a bus to Sidmouth - a beautiful ride with stunning scenery all seen from the top deck as before! 

I had visited Sidmouth last year when on my BBB II but had only spent a couple of hours here so this time we had time for a better look.

I like Sidmouth it is a genteel kind of town and maybe because the beach isn't fine golden sand it doesn't attract the hoardes like Weymouth with its long sandy beach, Punch and Judy shows and shops all selling candy floss and plastic flip flops, although in fact those were available in the town should anyone want them and of course the schools hadn't yet broken up so maybe it will be different this week now that they have.

We had fish and chips for lunch in the town and then walked up to the Connaught Gardens where we wandered round enjoying the views.

There seem to be a lot of wildflower meadow beds everywhere this year and of course lots of poppies.

We had a cup of tea in the cafe in the gardens before wending our way back to the town for the bus back to Honiton and just made it to the station for the train home.  I really felt as if I had been to the seaside as indeed I had of course!

Our outing on Frdiay didn't involve a train though.  A friend had sent me a 2 for 1 voucher and an article from the RHS magazine about East Lambrook Manor Gardens and although we had been some years back when our French friends were staying and none of us had been over impressed with it we thought we'd take another look as we wanted to visit the Field of Dreams anyway which is only a couple of miles away from East Lambrook..  The manor house is a lovely golden hamstone building set in a couple of acres of garden.

 We were, as before, not blown away by the garden although I think this must reflect on our taste perhaps and I hesitate to say that I didn't much care for it as everyone else seems to love it.  The RHS article was written and the photos taken in late spring/early summer and perhaps at that time it was indeed beautiful but I came away with my overall impression being of a garden which needed work done on it.  I am not fond of neat striped lawn type gardens with carefully spaced bedding plants as you probably know and I love the natural look but somehow this garden on Friday seemed to have tipped over into unkempt.  I know there will be many people who have visited and loved it so this is purely a personal point of view and as you will see from my photos there were bits of it that were indeed lovely I think it must be a matter of going at just the right time when things are in bloom and not when they are going/have gone over.  Sorry E. Lambrook - what is it they say "If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all"?!

Not far down the road at South Petherton is the Field of Dreams which opened last weekend and we had already decided to go there as the afternoon was fine and this didn't disappoint - it was as lovely as when I went last time.

We drove home through South Petherton which is a lovely little town with golden Hamstone houses and cottages many of which have beautiful front gardens, roses in profusion round their doors and altogether a lovely place to visit.  We have taken to going there for shopping too since it has a really good greengrocer, baker whose bread we like, butcher and delicatesen and a small Co-op along with many other individual little shops and a cafe.  We do try to avoid shopping in the chains and to support individual shops wherever possible.

I have spent some time this weekend catching up on the neglected chores: housework, washing, ironing and gardening etc though as I always think nobody on their deathbed ever said "I wish I'd done more housework" but they might wish they'd been out more mightn't they?!  Whilst the summer is here I intend to get out and enjoy it and if the chores get left well so what?!