Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday 22 April 2015

In the past few weeks I have been spending a bit more time with my sewing machine again. I had forgotten quite how much I like sewing. Knitting and crochet are a bit more portable and it's something I often do when we're out and about - if we stop for a coffee in town, the kids will go off and have a look at shops they like, leaving me behind with my cappuccino and my knitting. They're also hobbies you can pick up for just a few minutes here or there, but sewing is something you have to make more time for.

I'd had a denim dress cut out for ages, but as it consisted of 20 pattern pieces, I was a bit reluctant to start. Once I got going though, it went together very quickly, and when you can see it coming together and looking how you imagined it, you just can't stop!

I'd finished the dress the day before we went to London and insisted on wearing it, but it was really a bit too cold. It is very light fabric which gives it a nice drape, but although we have had lovely Spring weather, there is still quite a cold breeze too when you'd rather be wearing jeans and a fleece top! I'm hoping to get a lot of wear out of it this summer.

I spotted the red buttons when I was in the fabric shop for some more thread. I tend to wear a lot of blue as it is by far my favourite colour, and I had planned on getting blue buttons to go with it. Red buttons never crossed my mind, but these little flowery ones were so cheerful and actually went really well with it, that I couldn't resist. And then it was only a small step to red shoes... (ha - see what I did there?)

It's a bit of a step out of my comfort zone of jeans and tshirt but I love the dress, it was so much fun to make. The biggest compliment was being told by a friend that she hadn't realised I'd made it.

Talking of making things, this is happening in my conservatory:

16yo and I started a collection of cacti about a year ago, that is now taking over the table (we probably have about 25 of them). In my kindness I managed to kill one, after which I was under strict instructions by 16yo not to water them so often... They obviously like the regime of neglect and sunshine and heat, because this little one is flowering its heart out. And there is another one with buds that are just about to open. It's a different type of cactus and the buds are really unusual, and I can't wait to see what the flowers will be like.

We're in full-blown GCSE revision mode here, with regular Fashion&Textile crises, notes spread all over the house and Post-Its stuck to doors... Another three weeks until the first proper exam!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday 19 April 2015

I'm not quite sure why but I hadn't been out on the bike for a few weeks - I had a few other things on, amongst others a weekend in Derby meeting up with friends from an online group that has been going for years. Was lovely to see them all, catching up, going for an Indian, drinking coffee and doing lots of crocheting.

Now that the evenings are lighter again and yesterday being a lovely Spring day, I got into my lycra as soon as the kids had gone to J.'s and set out, with no real plan of a route. I discovered quite quickly that there was quite a strong easterly breeze, so decided to keep heading east and then at least I'd have the wind in my back on the way home!

I stopped at the church in Bradfield St. George. I've come past this church so many times and have always wanted to have a look around.

It was also a good excuse to catch my breath...
As I wanted to get as many miles covered as possible before it got dark, I only had a brief look around, but it's a very bright, airy church.

I only discovered the guide book hiding under the visitor book as I was about to leave. You can learn a lot from the guide book, even though often they're not very well written and badly photocopied - but they're full of interesting bits of history and tell you about parts of the church that you wouldn't normally notice. A good reason to return soon.

(the little holder on the left of the last photo is for an hour-glass that would show how much longer the sermon would be...)

Onwards, just following a well-known road but not knowing where I'd end up.

Very protective mummy sheep. Lamb refused to look at the camera.

After several miles I found myself in Preston, which is a little village I'd heard of when the children were still at primary school, but had never been to. By now the sun was beginning to set and the evening light was beautiful.

On my way through Preston, I'd cycled past a pub where a wedding reception was taking place, with a barbecue outside, plenty of smartly dressed guests, and a steel band. I could hear the steel band as I was wandering around the graveyard, which felt very surreal - very Suffolk countryside with Caribbean music in the background!

Unfortunately the church was closed already, probably because it was early evening, so this is another one to return to in the future.

From here it was still quite a push to get home before it got dark. I braved half a mile on the main road where my house is. When some boy racer in his clapped-out red BMW decided he needed to overtake another car right in front of me, I realised that the A134 really isn't a road for cyclists. At least there are plenty of countrylanes around here to choose from.

20 miles in total and pleasantly worn out!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Over the past few months, I have joined a number of Facebook groups for photos of the Suffolk countryside and church architecture. I've seen stunning photos, learnt about places I'd never even heard of before and am getting to know some new people.
Recently in the Suffolk churches group, a tour around Ickworth Church was advertised. I knew of Ickworth Church, which is situated in the grounds of Ickworth House, but had never really visited. So I got a couple of tickets and last night 13yo and I drove over at the end of the afternoon. It had been a beautiful, sunny day, almost summery, and it was lovely to walk down from the grand house to the church in the valley below.

We had a quick chat with the tour guide who turned out to be the church coordinator. The church was closed down in the eighties and fell into disrepair. In 2006 the Marquess of Bristol set up the Ickworth Church Conservation Trust with a view to restoring the church, as his ancestors are all buried in the vaults. The restoration started in 2012 and cost more than a million pounds. The church was reopened in 2013 and is now permitted to hold six services each year - the harvest festival, a Christmas carol service and 4 wedding blessings. They regularly hold other events, such as concerts, exhibitions and the tour we were about to do.

There were about 8 of us altogether, mostly volunteers and employees from the National Trust, which was really interesting as they knew quite a bit about the history of the family.

The building has several fascinating parts, such as a rare double piscina but not anywhere near the altar, a squint but so incredibly small that you can't imagine more than one person at the time being able to look through it, and a triple-decker pulpit. The reason the pulpit was so high became clear as we went up in the family pews - which were in the south aisle, completely separate - the only way you could see the priest from there, was if he was on the top deck!
We also had a look in the bell tower and were taken down to the vaults, where all the marquesses and earls, and their wives and children, are buried.

The tour took about an hour and both 13yo and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked it so much that I signed up to become a volunteer - it will be nice to spend a bit more time in a place with so much history.

We were told that the view from the top of the tower is stunning, but weren't allowed up there ourselves. As we walked back to the car, the first thing 13yo said to me was 'I want to go on that roof!' Well, with a bit of luck, they may just let him sometime!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thursday 9 April 2015

I think it was last year or maybe even the year before that 16yo asked to go to London for the day as one of her birthday presents. She loves going to London and would go every weekend, given the chance. I'd be pretty surprised if she ends up going to university somewhere else. She regularly goes with J. but then they go with the three of them, and sometimes she likes going with just me. Most of the time we do one or two of the walks from this set that my dad bought for me a few years ago and has turned out to be really good.

This year we set out rather early on Good Friday - getting up at 7 on the first day of a long 4 day weekend was not what I had planned, but it was worth it as we arrived in London at 10 and it was so lovely and quiet. Because of the holiday weekend we were worried it would be very busy, so we avoided the main tourist areas and headed towards Farringdon.

The walks in this set often start in areas where you don't expect to find anything interesting. You wonder what you're going to see and if this one is going to be disappointing, when you'll turn a corner or be led down a small alleyway and suddenly you end up in a very pretty part.

Farringdon feels very much off the beaten track and miles from the city centre, but in truth it isn't that far and we suddenly found this view - St. Paul's and the shard shrouded in mist

Next it was time for a coffee stop. A few years ago we discovered WholeFoods in Kensington on a trip to renew our passports. We often go there for a coffee but as it was completely the other direction from where we were spending the day, we decided to see if we could find something else.
We saw this little French brasserie, Café Pistou, on Exmouth Market that immediately took 16yo's fancy and where we ended up having a second breakfast...

Possibly the best coffee I've ever had, plus crepes for 16yo and eggs royale for me - yum!

And if this had been open, we would have gone here for lunch... Unfortunately they were closed for refurbishment!

Myddelton Square was almost at the end of our first walk. From Angel it was only a stop or two to Hoxton, where our next walk started.

Although it was an interesting walk, it was definitely one we enjoyed less than others we've done. We got lost several times, it was along a very busy road and it had you retrace your steps several times.
The Geffrye museum, which sounded interesting and looked very pretty too, was closed for the holiday weekend, which was disappointing. And then 16yo started complaining of needing the toilet, which doesn't help when you're trying to enjoy yourself!

So, time for a toilet stop and a spot of lunch and then the last walk of the day from Old Street to Liverpool Street.

We started off at Bunhill Fields, a small, quiet and very full old cemetery where we found Daniel Defoe, William Blake and John Bunyan. You couldn't actually walk among the gravestones, in order to protect them.

Next was Finsbury Circus, where most of the buildings miraculously survived the Blitz. Beautiful buildings, although the center was a building site for Crossrail.

The Gherkin

According to 16yo this building is called the Walkie-talkie. You could see the lifts going up and down.

I'm sure she's texting her best friend here 'mum's busy photographing churches again. I thought this was supposed to be MY birthday treat'.

She was right, I was photographing a church... this was Bishopsgate Churchyard with St. Botolph's church.

And that got us to the end of our third walk and back to Liverpool Street Station. We both fancied a visit to Foyle's so we walked down there, but by the time we got there, we were both so tired, that neither of us could really be bothered to look around for long! So it was a cup of tea and then we headed back home.

Lovely day though, exploring another part of London we'd not have gone to if it hadn't been for the pack of walks. I'm already mentally planning our next visit...