Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for October, 2022

Balance- October

It’s been a simply glorious month, with many warm and sunny days. The trees have been spectacular in their Autumn colours. But now the wind and rain are blowing them off the branches, and even I can’t pretend it’s late Summer anymore. I had a birthday this month, one involving a big zero, and I have to accept that actually I too have reached Autumn. Inside as many have observed before I’m still 18. Outside …. well I see reality.

And the thing is you simply have to adapt. I get tired, I wake up in the night, I ache if I don’t think before I do something… In my case not to try to stretch for something, I have to move myself not stretch or the back says ouch. I can’t eat as much,I get that full feeling faster. As to alcohol, well I always was a lightweight, now more so. And if I have to concentrate on something important, say the tax stuff well I have to do it in the morning when I feel fresh.

No Spring Chicken more an old broiler!

When I chose Balance as my word for 2022 I was thinking of the balance I needed to strike as a new widow. How to care for myself , the home, sort everything out, live well etc. After a hot Summer in which I slept a lot and passed all of the remaining first anniversaries I came bouncing back, full pelt at life. This month I have wondered if I came roaring in too fast. It’s taken me a lot of effort to keep everything chugging along. So far I have managed it, mostly I think because October was a five weekend month, giving me catching up time. It’s been a great deal of fun, outings , grandchildren’s birthdays, interesting talks, a felt workshop, seeing Mary Poppins in the West End, and culminating in a visit to stay with relatives in Cornwall.

When I came home yesterday, it felt good to be back. By the end of this year I will have lived in this house by myself for longer than I did as part of a couple. It’s hard accepting that it’s OK for me to change the house to meet my changing needs, hard to accept I don’t need to feel quilty throwing away or giving away items I have no use for, and even harder to feel good when I break into song, do a jig around the kitchen and feel happy. Providing of course I don’t stretch too far!

It’s good to remember with love, it’s good to feel happy. It’s good to be coping by myself, maybe even finally acknowledging that I am fully grown up. It’s good to have family and friends, to seek and offer help,to live and be grateful for life, to be in balance however it may wobble along, and I do wobble! I suppose balance and wobble are part and parcel of life.

Meantime do follow the link to read how others who choose a word for 2022 have got on. Everyone writes very honestly and with great insight. Link here-https://youronewordblog.wordpress.com

Take care, and thank you for being here. Now I have some leaves to sweep.


Pre-Raphaelite exhibition

This exhibition is currently at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and as I was in need of some new black trousers and therefore a shop or two , I decided to make a day of it.

Entrance to the museum is free, but not to the exhibition.

According to the flier I picked up you have a rare chance to see the museum’s collection of works by William Morris, John Ruskin, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne- Jones, John Everett Milais, William Holman- Hunt and Elizabeth Siddal. What I loved about the exhibition was that you saw some of the preparatory studies for the famous paintings, including a sketch on the back of an old envelope. If only I could work my sketches on the back of envelopes into something that didn’t look like a sketch on the back of an old envelope.

You could take photos but no Flash but it was dimly lit in places, so I didn’t attempt a photograph. I regret not buying the catalogue, but have hopes they might have to reduce them in price after the show… So I got postcards instead.

Top left, A stream with large standing stone by John William Inchbold. I love the sky in this one. Wondering about trying it in needlefelt

Middle top – A view in Yorkshire by William Henry Milais. The museum would love to locate where in Yorkshire, I don’t recognise it. Bottom right of this one are some rather delicate foxgloves

Top right is by a lady, hurrah, Marie Spartali Stilman, Cloister Lilies. I love the dreamy quality of this painting, the background looks Mediterranean to my mind.

Bottom Left , Home from Sea by Arthur Hughes- apparently depicting the death of his Mum whilst he was away. The girl was added later, and is there to offer comfort. I just love churchyards. Can you spot the sheep, nature’s grass cutters.

Finally bottom right Old Barn at Whitchurch by George Price Boyce. Just love the details in this one, the pigs, horse and cart and the ox. I can really imagine that farm smell !

There were a few paintings of the Pre Raphaelite women on show, but it really was the landscapes that I spent a long time in front of, just looking and becoming immersed into the scene.

After this I was hungry… time for some red pepper and tomato soup with bread… Mmmmm

Out of the museum and past the Martys monument, dedicated to three Protestants put to death by Bloody Mary, daughter of Henry VIII

And to the shops where I failed to find trousers. Oh no I shall have to go shopping again.. I’ve heard of a very nice craft shop ….. no not crafts, TROUSERS .

I wonder if you enjoy art exhibitions and which artists you enjoy?

Ancient Wiltshire

So I left the wonderful Avebury Manor behind me and stepped back in time.

Not stopping to view the stone circle this time ( photo taken in April) but to walk
along the Northern third of the West Kennet Avenue.
These pairs of sarsen stones originally wound from the Avebury stone circle or henge to the Sanctuary at the far end. Too far for me to walk on this occasion , but give me a nice Winter’s day and I have another destination to explore. The Sanctuary is 4,500 years old!

Meantime I hopped into my car and drove to nearby Silbury Hill

Just love an information board!
I mean golly gosh. You can’t climb up these days, erosion caused by feet exposing the chalk..

I wonder if they are over interpreting this. I regularly remove stones from my garden and have the start of a little mound of my own. At one time I did jokingly consider an iron age hill Fort in the garden when Mr E was digging holes for the departed greenhouse base and making a big heap in the garden. Apparently I wasn’t being very funny… Now I wonder if I was right to level it all out again.

Let’s face it that has created a rather good vegetable patch!

So enjoying the exploration of my new County, thank you for reading.

Avebury Revisited

The start of October was simply glorious, sunshine and warmth, just perfect to revisit Avebury Manor and enjoy the gardens. On arrival a further treat awaited me , a Sculpture exhibition in the gardens.

Long shadows in front of the Manor
Moving round the side, late blooms with splashes of colour.
Loving tbe deep reds
Just shows what can be achieved with clever planning and planting
Oh my the orchard. Everytime I see one I know I was right to make one. One day it might look like this.
Catching the start of Autumnal colours
No self respecting manor house is without a pet cemetery, but I draw the line at having one myself
The back of the house.

The gardens are just lovely. I sat for quite a while in the walled kitchen garden and just soaked up the last of late Summer.

And now for the sculptures, these are my favourites, see if you can spot the one I was severely tempted by..

The Owl maybe or
This owl looking down at his prey
Or maybe
The chickens in the walled garden, or even
This owl, I do like owls..
or the bird on the garden fork
Or this pair perhaps?

Most of them were beyond my price range, but the one I loved was the bird on the garden fork.

After this wander coffee and a cheese scone were in order, and then I headed towards Avebury’s other attraction the stone circle, but I’ll save that for another post.

Leaving you with the village postbox and its topper.

The Queen and a corgi

Hope you enjoyed my visit.

Scrap Happy-October 22

Once again it’s time to join with Kate and the other Scrap Happy people, using up scraps of this and that- link here for all the other posts- https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/

Now please bear with me for a while, as all will be made plain by the end of the post.

I meet up once a fortnight with a lovely group of ladies (men would be welcome) to embroider our own projects (sometimes knitting and crochet happens instead). Now I was waiting for an embroidery frame for my project to be delivered and was in need of something quick and portable to tide me over. I have rather a lot of Not Yet Started things to choose from.. I choose this project.

A flower brooch

Petals laid out and stitched to felt

Assembling onto a circle of felt
One brooch

Now you could say this cheating because this wasn’t made from my scraps, but undoubtedly they were someones. However I still have this Knitting project on the go.

My Cinderella Topsy Turvey Doll

Progress so far, and certainly made from leftover yarn, all belonging to me.

I also went to another group, calling themselves Big Knit which meets quarterly. I was told they had plenty of wool, just bring knitting needles or a crochet hook. So I took a crochet hook and to be on the safe side some leftover dark red yarn. They weren’t kidding about plenty of yarn, balls and balls , Black dustbin liners full of leftover yarn. Which was just as well because they are making blankets for charity.

The local Council started the group during lockdown, when they became concerned about a number of now housebound ladies (gents not excluded) who were missing feeling part of a community. These ladies were asked to make blankets for people in need. And so they did, they felt involved in life again, and afterwards the group kept going and for those that are able , in person too. Blankets are now going out left, right and centre, mostly to people moving into first time accommodation, care leavers, homeless people, families fleeing domestic violence etc… They are shown a selection of handmade blankets to choose one from, that’s theirs to keep, to provide much needed comfort in a new home,- someone cared enough to make it..

Now you could just make a random selection of blocks, 8 inches square, but most people were making a complete blanket. Gulp! I decided to go for it. I managed nearly two blocks during the afternoon. After some thought and observation realised most colour combos under construction were very pretty, and recalled being told by another group that more masculine colours were needed, for homeless chaps (women not excluded). Well I had red, the town’s football colours are red and white and those bin liners yielded up some more red and some cream/white. So I have been hard at work, and so far have this. Apparently I need to make 40 blocks in total!

Which brings me a complete circle, because a Craft without Rules group I have also started to go too has a Destash table. When I was searching my Not Yet Started projects I had collected together a bag of surplus crafty bits and bobs that I had no purpose for, and given the embarrassing large number of Not Yet Started things was most likely never going to use up, and so I took these items to the Destash table, some of which sold … Pay what you think you should only basis… Proceeds to the local Air Ambulance

Which just goes to show that one persons scraps are another persons treasure, whether you make a brooch or a doll or a blanket, and the happiness I felt in just giving my leftover crafty bits away was just lovely.

Open Studios

And a walk

Swindon based artists opened their studios or collectively got together over two weekends in September to show their works, and open their homes to the public. I made two visits. The first was to Stanton Park

Art exhibition in this old barn

I enjoyed looking at the paintings, but wasn’t persuaded to buy one. As the weather was lovely, one of those wam late Summer days I went for a walk round the park. I had been before with family in the woods, but I took a new route this time.

OK this pic was taken back in March when I went to the felt workshop. It’s the old farmhouse behind the barn , so first stop was in here, then into the garden.
How to display plants!

And then there was more

Just love the wackiness
Sadly not for sale, nor in the exhibition, just for public enjoyment

Then into the community orchard, where it said that fruit could be picked but leave some for the birds.

Nice idea but there was nothing left. I blame those birds!
Stanton Park Hotel

Past the house which is now a hotel.

And round the lake
Just lovely.

The trees hadn’t yet started to turn colour, as it was only mid September.

And on the far bank of the lake this odd structure which I reckon is a folly, built to look pretty by the people who used to live in the Big House.

There had been some effort to clear the undergrowth in front of it to give a view across the lake to the hotel/house, but it wasn’t a very good attempt yet, maybe next year.

So that was the first Open Sudio, which was more of a walk. After that I went to the Pick your own place, because the day was too nice to be inside.

The following weekend I went to the village of Purton Stoke to where the lady who teaches felt classes for the carers group has her studio. Imagine my surprise that her home was opposite a house we looked round three years ago in our house hunting marathon. I really liked the house but Mr E didn’t like the garden! If I’d known who lived opposite……

Anyway her work is just amazing. This is a commision for the church at Cricklade at Christmas.

How’s this for the Nativity scene? Possibly 18 inches tall
I can’t decide if I like the moorland scene or the ocean scene best

So the net result of my wanderings, is that I have signed up for a felt workshop back in the farmhouse for an ocean scene ( different tutor, and btw when I went to my granddaughter’s school for a grandparent’s cream tea and there was a raffle, the lady who teaches at the farmhouse works in the school office and had donated her sheep scene, small world even in a big town). And I have signed up for a day workshop at the second studio,- you may have read the post in which I tried to make a hare…. well now I shall try again with someone who knows what she is doing and won’t make a wonky sausage fit for the bin.

Can’t wait.

Unraveled Wednesday

Time to join Kat and the Unravelers again here-http://askatknits.com/2022/10/05/unraveled-wednesday-10-5-22/

I can’t help feeling that the weeks are just whizzing by at the moment. Weekly and monthly check ins really do help me stay grounded. I had my 2nd Covid booster today plus annual flu jab, so have two stiff arms, but otherwise ok still.

The cardigan for Miss P progresses. First sleeve is underway, the rib has got easier and doesn’t give me sore fingers now. I am slowly reading my way through the excellent thrillers by Kate Ellis. The only library copy is large print, wondering if I can read it without my glasses?

Do pop over and see what everyone else is knitting and reading.

Coleshill- Secrets and Spies

I visited this National Trust property last month with my U3A walking group on a Heritage Day, when we were given a fascinating guided tour.

So imagine yourself back in the 1940’s. Britain as usual, has turned defeat into triumph with the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk using plucky little boats and seaman/ fishermen/ hobbyists to get as many soldiers safely out of France. The powers that be firmly expect Hitler to keep going and invade Britain in the very near future. So there is a cunning plan to train up men with reserved occupations as saboteurs and resitance fighters. And where was this done, why on the Coleshill estate deep in the Cotswolds.

As a group we were shown and had a go at decyphering messages..

It was painstakingly slow, and not Bletchley Park for sure.
Lots of head scratching.

After that we were taken up to a guards’ hut, hidden deep in the woods to evade being photos being taken by enemy planes. Apparently German records do not include a photo of this estate, so they were successful in keeping it hidden.

The house has gone, destroyed by fire after the war during repairs to return it from the army’s use back to its owners.
Information Board in the guards hut

Now the idea was that small groups of trained men would leave their families and live deep underground and carry out their missions. They would not know the whereabouts of other groups in case they were caught . Life expectancy was estimated to be three weeks. It must have been hard to keep their training secret from families, and maybe some were falsly accused by fellow citizens as cowards.

By deep underground we had the chance to enter a reproduction of such a bunker.

Yup down there.

It was quite a steep rickety ladder. There were beds and a means to prepare meals. It smelt earthy and damp. It was one way in and one way out

Hands and knees for a long crawl.

I have to say it was one of the most unusual and fascinating National Trust properties I have been too, and enormous fun.

Afterwards we had chance to visit and art exhibtion on the same site all depicting paintings of concrete huts of one kind and another. Absolutely loved it.

My two favourite pictures

Now should you wish to visit here’s a link- https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-buscot-and-coleshill-estates/whats-on

And before you think it’s too far away for me, the lady I talked to in front of these very pictures was visiting from Australia!

PS they have a jolly nice cafe too with wonderful staff who served three of us coffee we had arrived early before they had opened. Now that’s service.

Hope you enjoyed this wonderful piece of history.

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