Sunday, 30 May 2010

brunel broderers

Like my discovery of Russian textiles this years Textile Festival also lead me to discover a collaboration of textile artists called the Brunel Broderers. They had an intriguing exhibition called Curious Drawers and both myself and the children were captivated. I love it when interaction is encouraged and here gloves were provided, enticing the visitor to touch the exhibits, open the drawers and to discover what lay inside.

One artist (sorry, I'm scant on detail as I had children with me) had made a collection of these incredibly delicate draws out of tissue paper stitched together and filled with Victorian-esque (made up word) paraphernalia, they were absolutely beautiful,

and look at the gorgeous labels. I'm wanting to dig the tissue paper and sewing machine out as I write!

My little girl's favourite was this tiny cabinet with lots of draws and doors to open, and she was especially pleased to be given the magnifying glass with which to examine the contents. Butterflies, beetles and bugs lived within and all were subjected to much scrutiny.

I really liked this simple seaside piece. I love the way the textiles have been created to suggest all manner of beach findings. The foam of a wave, or shingle, the shapes made in the sand by tiny sea creatures. But what I also liked about this was that it could very easily become the basis for a child's project. When we're at the sea we love to collect all sorts of things that we find lying around and I think to make it into some kind of memorabilia is a great idea.

Then finally there were these Jars of Joy. They weren't actually part of the exhibition, just for sale. But again I love the idea of collections with memories and I thought (if I knew where to get hold of such jars) it would be lovely to catalogue trips or holidays with one's own jars created and collected over time. Again, potentially, another great project for the kids.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

weekend reading and blog etiquette

this weeks reading is a lovely blog called moth design which i came across a little while ago via a comment here on hardaker and pope.
Which brings me onto the subject of blog etiquette. A couple of weeks ago i was talking to a customer, who also readsd our blog. She used to write her own - and very good it was too. why did you stop i enquired? she told me it was because it was taking too much time and had ceased to be fun. why is that i asked, and her reply saddend me. she said it was because she felt she had to leave a comment on everybodys blog that had left a comment on hers as she didn't want the people who had left comments to feel slighted. I then felt a bit bad, as i am rubbish at leaving comments on blogs. I read loads, i dip in and out daily, I love knowing what people are up to, and i feel a connection with alot of these bloggers, in a way that if i was passing by their house i would be able to ring the doorbell and say hi and stop for a cuppa, but still I don't often comment.
I would be really interested to know do you feel slighted by me not commenting? I hope not, feel safe in the knowledge that I read you on a weekly basis and just because i don't comment often doesn't mean I don't love you!! it just means that i try and squeeze my reading in while children are otherwise occupied - so i am maximizing reading time and minimizing typing time!!

. Anyway back to Erica and Moth design, Erica is an interior designer based in Canada, I love her style, and if I was in any way a clean, tidy person whose kids didn't leave a trail of muck behind them everywhere they went I too would dream of a house like this!

I really really want one of these little little 'lapa' rooms - lapa is zulu for 'over there'.
anyway enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

pressing flowers

I've been a bit slack on the old blog recently and my excuse this time.... photo back log!
When our hard drive went kaput we were fortunate to have most files saved externally and felt quite smug. However we didn't bargain for the fact that a new hard drive also meant new software! It's taken us a while to adjust to updated programmes and to find a new photo editing package.

For the last couple of months I've been relying on hubby to do all the editing for me. Since this coincided with the beginning of his golf season, this has meant very little productivity. However, tonight he was home early from the golf course and gave me a quick tutorial so I can hopefully edit my own pictures again and be a bit more of a regular contributor on the blog!

Back to the point. No one can have failed to notice how the plants have been loving the weather we have had recently and our little girl hasn't failed to notice how many flowers there are taking over our garden. It's been a perfect opportunity for her to try out the flower press she was given for Christmas and has been desperate to use.

I still have the flower press I was given as a child. There is something quite exciting about choosing your flowers, putting them away in the press and waiting........ until the moment, days, or even months, later, when you decide to unscrew those 4 corners to reveal what's inside. I always manage to forget what flowers I'm pressing and it's intriguing to discover how well they have worked. It is certainly true some flowers press better than others, some retain their colour, whilst others just disintergrate.

So today was a big day as our little girl opened her flower press for the first time. Wonderfully most of the flowers had pressed well, which meant that the girls spent a happy morning with paper and pritt stick making cards and gift tags before returning to the garden and filling up the flower press again.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

beside the seaside

we have just got back from a fabulous (and very cheap) weekend away by the sea. I have travelled all over the world both with family and with work, but there is nowhere quite so lovely as the british seaside on a sunny day (well there are more lovely places obviously but nowhere quite so nostalgic!)

deckchairs, ice cream, the smell of the sea, happy full of nostalgia

we went to Beer on the Devon, Dorset border about 5miles from Lyme Regis . The weekend was organised by a friend an parent at our local village school - she is the dynamic owner of a large event company, so she managed what the rest of us always talk about doing but never actually do - booking a family weekend away that wouldn't break the bank. Group excursions can be the stuff of nightmares and bad sitcoms however off we set, 16 adults and 19 kids, straight after school (ahem Hardakers late as always!!). Our accomodation for the weekend was the YHA at Beer. I can almost hear the snorts of derision now from some quarters! But I have to tell you it was fantastic. we hired the whole hostel for about £135 per family, we had masses of space both inside and out, the rooms were lovely and clean as were the ample (but communal) bathrooms. The manager (great, friendly and very hard working chap) ordered us a keg of Otter ale for the weekend and they had a licenced bar as well
What was so lovely was that although with siblings the childrens ages ranged from 3 to 13 there was no squabbling or arguing and none of them said " can we watch telly" all weekend.
on sunday morning some of the dads went out on a mackeral fishing trip in the bay, they came back with quite a haul.

we were sad to leave on saturday afternoon, but when we arrived home - to a house like an oven , Mr H lit the barbeque and we had chargrilled mackeral for tea. happy days!!

Friday, 14 May 2010


Before I start I apologise, this is going to be a long post with a lot of images, but I've been caught by a bug, I'm in seventh heaven and totally inspired. Thanks to a very interesting talk on Sousanis, given by Olivia Dell in her lovely little shop in Nailsworth. Of course this is part of the Stroud Textile Festival and ties in with a lovely exhibition on at Newark Park. However I wouldn't have gone to the talk if it wasn't for hubby's aunt who invited me to join her. I'm always keen to find out more so I happily went along.

We sat around on straw stools, drinking Melissa tea and eating Bakalva and Turkish Delight as Olivia told us how she came to have such an amzaing collection before she started pulling the sousanis off the shelf, like a wily purveyor of Eastern goods (I'll give you special price!), flinging them in the air by the corners and letting the cloth fall to the floor for us to admire and scrutinise.
The word sousani comes from the Persian for needle and these amazing embroidered materials would originally have been wedding canopies, bedspreads, table cloths or prayer mats. Something to brighten up their homes amidst the colourless landscape in which they lived

The women of the family would painstakingly embroider the design, which would have been drawn by the 'wise woman' of the village. Members of the family would then be given a strip of the fabric and work it independently, perhaps taking it away from the village during the summer months, only to return with a finished piece to be added to the others. As a result the colours and patterns do not match perfectly, but this is embraced rather than posing as a problem and, I think, adds to the personal nature and provenance of each piece. Looking in detail at this work, and think about how much time it would take to do, made me realise my incompetencies - lack of skill and patience to say the least!

Then we digressed to Matisse, as some of the motifs were familiar to those found in his work. While I did go to the Matisse exhibition I don't remember much about it so now I really want to read the enormous Hilary Spurling Biography I've had for years (and it's only volume 1). Where I'm I meant to find the time to do that?

But for me the most eye catching element of the sousani was the backs! I've found a new passion I think and I'm going to have to have words with Sarah to see if I can persuade her to do a new collection just for me. The wonderful Russian cotton fabrics are beautiful. The lightness of the fabric, the lovely designs and the wonderful colours, I'm just so happy. So happy that I've had to order this amazing book . I just hope it comes quickly!

The better examples of the fabrics were actually in Olivia's supply of 'coats'. The outside would be richly coloured velvets or brightly coloured ikat silks. Inside the random use of colour and pattern is brilliant. Some times there are three or four different fabrics used for the inside of one coat, but your eye doesn't even notice it at first. And it really doesn't seem to matter whether they clash or tone with the outside.

I don't really know the history of these fabrics, I think they were made especially for the East Asian market but my google -ing has proved futile so far and I'm going to have to wait until my new book comes before I fully understand.

Meanwhile I shall just have to lust after these images. I was sorely tempted to by an Ottoman coat, I need something to replace my grubby terry-towelling dressing gown but couldn't quite justify spending £175 no matter how beautiful the Russian fabric inside is.

This red tulip design was gorgeous (Sarah take note), and it had deep purple version of the same design on other parts of the coat

And this butterfly/flower design is so pretty and the coat so lovely you could wear it either way round. The combination of the silk ikat and light Russian cotton made it incredibly comfortable and easy to wear. I flounced around in front of the mirror for quite a bit until baby screeched because she'd dropped her book and brought me back to reality.

I would just like to thank Olivia who very kindly let me photograph to my hearts content this morning.

easter breakfast

I know it seems a bit late to be talking about Easter but the truth is that we (as in hubby and I) are only just coming to the end of the children's egg supply. In fact Boy hasn't got a sweet tooth and is quite particular about his chocolate so he was given quite a few Easter themed marshmallows instead. I rather approved of the pastel coloured lambs and chicks and decided they'd adorn a hot chocolate pretty well. Then I decided this would make the perfect Easter breakfast for the children - just add boiled eggs and 'Dippys'!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

malvern spring show

Today was a wet, cold and miserable day, but despite the weather conditions we've had a nice family day out at the Malvern Spring Show. We had a good look at the show gardens, but failed to get any decent photos of them due to the amount of fellow onlookers gurning in the background. For those of you watching this weeks Gardener's World our favourite Mark Eveleigh's Recovery and Wellbeing garden. A kind of small holding with amazing attention to detail, including stinging nettles behind the chicken shed!

However the RHS Floral Marquee provided plenty of photo opportunities. It protected us from the wet and wild conditions outside and deffinatley brightened up our day. I loved the colours these tropical looking green plants which caught my eye as I entered the tent.

Whilst there were many different species of flowers I homed in on the flowers I like, it was just great to see so many varieties, all in show condition. Peonies are one of my all time favourite flowers, the ones in our garden are just about to pop open and I can't wait to have some in the house.

The Clemetis were beautiful too. We have one climbing over our stable door and it has just started to flower. It's a fantastic cascade of flowers for a few weeks. We've never done anything to it and it just gets better each year.

We've also have loads of common Aqualegia in our garden, it spreads well, attracts the butterflies and looks good in a cottage garden bouquet but the selection on show was outstanding, and the flowers were so big.

One plant I've always liked but have never grown is Auriculas. I thought this display of them in simple terracottta pots was really striking. In fact I think that maybe I've never grown them because they look so good in pots, en masse and perhaps would be rather lost in our totally crammed and wild garden. But I'm still feeling that maybe I should have bought one!

My favourite stand was of the The Walled Gardens in Somerset. As the self sufficient, allotment culture seems to be so popular these days it was great to see so much delicious and attractive looking produce. Their display was well really well done, they had thought hard about the containers they used to show their plants in and the use of potatoes very original!

And finally, if not already uplifted by the huge array of plants and colours there was an enormous stand of Tulips which couldn't have failed to lift everyone's spirits. I adore tulips, from the simple red and yellow kind to the most exoctic of Parrot Tulips. A vase of tulips anywhere is enough to make my day fulfilled!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

dorset cereals competition

those lovely people at dorset cereals who organise the little blog awards (you can vote for us on here if you feel inclined!) are doing a fab summer giveaway. A fantastic VW campervan with sunroof, fridge, cooker - all mod cons! who wouldn't want to win such a design icon?

enter here.
(though you can't win - i am having it!!)
dorset cereals sponsored giffords circus last tour so we love anyone who supports such a fab night out.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

moo moo moo

ok i am stressing. after 2 nights of waking up at 3am and not being able to get back to sleep, i can admit that I am stressing.
as you can see from the pictures our cow hunt was really really really good last year.
what if nobody comes this year? and i have got to go on the radio tomorrow and I don't do public speaking, i have an awful tendency to foot in mouth, and people can't understand me because of my northern accent.
I am thinking, sticky ginger cake, sticky toffee date cake, chocolate cake, strawberry whipped cream and vanilla sponge, ottolenghi meringues, sophie dahl flourless chocolate cake, profiteroles...............can anyone think what i have missed?!!!!
do come along to the tea tent and say helllo (I, apparantly am the ' matronly woman in her fifties'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - grrrrrr)
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