Saturday, 27 December 2014

A Step Back in Time

As I posted previously I celebrated the Solstice at Stonehenge.

It only seemed fitting to spend a bit of time visiting some of the sites of my ancestors. First up was Woodhenge.

Someone had laid a mistletoe and holly wreath on the child's grave located towards the centre of the henge; sadly the wind blew it off so it was laying beside it.

I then proceeded to travel to Avebury, catching views of an amazing earthwork. At Avebury the weather began to close in and the walk amongst the stones was already muddy (I didn't think to put my walking boots back on).

It was possible to see my next destination as I walked back to the carpark, although it doesn't look too impressive from here.

As seen from the road, just outside the carpark.

This is truely a monument I love. It fascinates me as there appears to be no specific reason to have built it. It was built in a 100 year period in several stages, finally becoming the monument we see today. It has been excavated a few times. I first heard about Silbury Hill when I studied AS Level Archaeology, its still does not disappoint.

The Hill is huge and sits imposingly in its landscape.

Due to the rare plants, and to protect the Hill, it is not possible to walk on the structure and this is the closest vantage point (unless you are in a car).

There is still so much to investigate in this area; something I plan to do in 2015.














Monday, 22 December 2014

Happy Solstice

Where has this year gone?

Today was the Winter Solstice and I took the opportunity to meet my friends and celebrate at Stonehenge. To ensure I arrived on time I got up at 4.30 and was on the road just after 5am.

It was the first time I have been to Stionehenge since the new visitor centre has been opened and I parked in the main carpark. The walk to the stones took about 30 minutes and it felt very special. I met my friends and we waited and listened to the drumming until they opened the gate;security need to feel there is enough light to see.

Most people chose to stand amongst the stones to listen to the Druid ritual.

As dawn drew closer, it became easier to see.

A photo opportunity against the stones (that reflective top sure does what it should!).

The sky continued to lighten as sunrise passed.

It became light enough to spin.

We even had sister spindles.

It was wonderful to be so close to the stones.

To be able to touch them.

To connect with my past.

Solstice blessings.




Thursday, 31 July 2014

Lest We Forget

Last Sunday, in glorious sunshine I was lucky to be able to participate in the Wyle Valley 1914 project. The commemoration was very thoughtfully put together. There was enough to do if the visit was a couple of hours but it was a lovely laid back event. They managed to get a lot of information out in an engaging manner.

The Great War Society were amazing, Sunday was much cooler than Saturday and had a lovely breeze, they must have been much more comfortable in their woollen uniforms.

Tommy looked very smart.


The camp was established, clean and dry.


And the heavy artillery was efficient and loud.


The Yeomanry had great outfits and the dappled grey is named Stilton!


A large number of women at the front were involved in field hospitals and drove a lot of hospital carts and ambulances such as this lovely Model T Ford (see they aren’t always black).


However, I believe women never got as far as the trenches.


Trench communication posts were fairly comfortable - well better than the latrines.


Not to use the latrines was illegal and punishable. Of course, if you were military then it was a court marshal-able offence and the punishment was pretty severe and inhumane.

Hard tack and basic rations came down the line with shift changes, as did the rum ration which was marked "SRD" (Service Rations Depot) but known by soldiers variously as "Seldom Reaches Destination" or "Soon Runs Dry". It was concentrated and had to be diluted. It was sometimes placed under the care of members of the temperance movement. Drank un- or in-sufficiently diluted the rum ration could lead to temporary blindness and even death.

On the home front women rolled up their sleeves and helped the war effort in several ways. Of course they had to take over all farming duties, they filled munitions, worked in factories and continued the fight for voting rights.


In the UK Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild geared up to provide comforts for the troops, this was also encouraged by the Red Cross. We are members of the Wiltshire Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers representing Queen Mary’s Guild.


We had music from a brass band and were serenaded by the Warminster Army Wives Choir.


There was also a drumhead service of remembrance.

As a matter of morbid interest the field dressing every Tommy carried in their right pocket had two pads, one for the entry wound and one for the exit wound. Each pad was designed to soak up a pint of blood, if both pads were soaked it meant the casualty had lost two or more pints of blood. This meant that the hospital could concentrate on other casualties who showed a higher chance of surviving. During the first war great leaps in medicine including the knowledge of blood types, the identification of types and storing of blood for transfusion without a live donor being present were made. Interesting, gruesome and awesome.


The village hall had interesting displays showing the extensive network of camps established in the Wyle Valley, together with interesting dioramas, displays of original artifacts and school projects.

The Great War had an impact on society which we still benefit from today. However, modern warfare had entered the theatre and 1914 saw the arrival of something new, horrific and international involving troops from Europe, America, Russia, Australasia.



Saturday, 19 April 2014

Tulip Mania

Those who know me might be aware that the tulip is one of my favourite flowers.

As an Easter treat my husband took me to a tulip field.

In the field it felt like the tulips went on forever.

There a masses of varieties.

We picked quite a few.

They make me smile.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Minty fresh!

Today I baked, playing with some sugar paste, pretty food colouring gels and making a couple of icing bags.

I am hugely pleased with the results.

They have the look of spring and are minty fresh.

I love mint choc chip.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Not much of a rush

It was my birthday last month and, as a present I received a lovely art quilt kit from Deborah O'Hare of QuiltRoutes who sells on Folksy, Etsy and blogs here. I first came across her kits on Etsy and fell truely madly and deeply in love with her Moon Gazing Hare, which I will purchase one day.

Last year, Iain took me on a magical steam train journey to Weymouth where we spent a wonderful anniversary paddling in the sea, walking the promenade and visiting the lovely RSPB wetland of Radipole Lake where I stroked my first bullrush!

With such lovely memories, it seemed fitting to add Deborah's kit called Bull Rushes to my present list.

The kit comes in this lovely and sturdy manila card envelope with full colour image on the front. It just speaks quality to me.

Inside is everything you need except the threads to make the quilt. Beautiful hand painted fabrics, backing fabric in the most perfect mouse (I am slightly ashamed to say that the colour of mouse is as beautiful as the hand-painted loveliness on top of it), fusible batting and double sided sticky stuff. (Please forgive the lack of terminology, but this is my first art and fused quilt.) There are also the pattern pieces and layout diagram for those who wish to follow it and excellent instructions which also provides to link to Deborah's website, theseare provided on high quality paper.
What isn't included is thread and fabric to bind the edges of the mini quilt. As it is designed as a picture it can be finished in many ways and, after some thinking and research, you can see which method I chose at the end of the post.
My but the fabrics are just delicious.
I went shopping and chose 3 lovely threads that I thought went well. Guttermann is easy to purchase here in my two local quilting/sewing shops and I do like their threads (not that I've sewn with too many others to be honest).

It was time for a bit of ironing followed by some free motion quilting (FMQ), I've only really done one other piece before so I am still pretty uneven in stitch length etc but I don't really care that much.

Wow, that sky is blue. At the time of sewing there hadn't been much blue sky for the whole winter.
Then it was time to trace the pattern pieces onto the sticky stuff.
And fuse it to the wrong side of the fabric. Yep, you heard me - wrong side. So why did I decide to stick the leaves to the RIGHT side? I could have cried especially as this was such a lovely piece of fabric with a beautiful gold shimmer. Luckily for me this fabric is hand painted and so the back of the fabric had a good depth of colour, not like printed quilting fabrics. So after a bit of talking down by Iain, I was able to continue.

With all the pieces placed and ironed on, it was time for the fun to begin.

Man, this type of work creates lots of ends if not thought through.

With a bit of sewing it really started to come to life but I also realised that the leaves (now paler than intended) needed a bit more definition than I originally planned.

The purchase of some shiny green thread really worked. I also decided to zigzag the edges of my quilt, after I had carefully trimmed it square.

And voila! the finished quilt. I think it is lovely and, if I hadn't mentioned the leaves I don't think you would not be any the wiser. That blue is not so obvious now.

I love my little quilt and the memories i have attached to it as I sewed it. I would recommend one of Deborah's kits if you want to try making an art quilt.