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Well the trip to Florence with my lovely mother was fantastic!

I think this has to be my favourite city so far – the churches and palaces full of frescos and medieval art, the Uffizi Gallery with even more medieval art, the beautiful buildings and views over the Tuscan hills and the gorgeous food.

View from the Ponte Vecchio looking at the Arno River.

View from bridge

Some of the 80 ice cream flavours to choose from in the shop near our hotel.

Ice cream

I loved the display at this shop in one of the side streets, We came back with pasta, herbs and oils, yum, yum!

Fruit and veg

And there are also lovely shops if you are into that, personally I am not going to pay 10 times the price I can here for a pair of designer sandals but we did a little window shopping and marvelled at what some of the so-called fashions were priced at.

We stayed at the Albergo Firenze, another one of my fantastic finds from Expedia. Although it was rated only 2 star it was a gorgeous room, really good value for money and the location is excellent – 5 mins walk either way from the Palazzo Vecchio and the cathedral so exactly where you want to be.

Hotel

I have put a tiny selection of pics here and included many more in the slideshow below if you are interested.

Angel mosaics in the Baptistry.

Baptistry 8

Detail from one of the Madonnas in the Palazzo Vecchio.

Palazzo Madonna 2

Detail from one of the Annunciation frescos in the Santa Maria Novella church.

SMN angel detail

One of the chapel paintings from the same church.

SMN chapel with polyptych

We also saw some beautiful silver and goldwork, this was an altar piece frontal in the museum of the Santa Lorenzo church dating from the late 1700s.

Goldwork at St Lorenzo

Goldwork 2

Goldwork 3

Goldwork 4

Goldwork 5

I also loved this ceiling painting from the Plazzo Vecchio with its depiction of women spinning, weaving and sewing.

Palazzo ceiling crafts

Palazzo ceiling crafts 2

I had seen some of the fresco paintings from the churches before as many are in medieval costume books – look at these two beautiful gowns from frescos in the Santa Croche church.

SC Fresco - gown detail

SC Fresco - gown detail 2

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I have come back with loads of prints and a new icon with one of my favourite Madonnas by Filippo Lippi so have put up some new art in my bedroom to remind me of the trip!

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

We have had a very, very lovely day today – not only going to Hardwick Hall for the day but because my lovely daughter Ellie works there had a brilliant ‘behind the scenes’ experience which was amazing.

Here is the Hall in the lovely sunlight – as a contemporary of Bess’s wrote when it was built – ‘more glass than wall’.

Hardwick - hall front

Hardwick - garden

Here are some pictures of what the public gets to see.

The beautiful velvet heraldic embroidery created by Bess of Hardwick herself,  the blue silk bed hangings, the Great Hall with its bed canopy.

Hardwick - Bess velvet 1

Hardwick - Bess velvet 2

Hardwick - Blue silk bed

Hardwick - great hall

But we also got to go up on the roof! This is the top of the hall and the view from one of the small banqueting rooms that are in the towers.

Hardwick - Roof

Hardwick - Roof view

The best bit for me was going into the textile store rooms in the attic.Here are all the boxes with little pictures of the contents.

Hardwick - Textile store boxes

And here is Ellie opening one of the boxes for us.This contained a beautiful velvet hanging of flowers.

Hardwick - Ellie box

Hardwick - Flower velvet 1

Hardwick - Flower velvet 2

Another box had some more of the most wonderful of Bess’s heraldic pieces, here I am close up to this piece – no glass at all, heaven!!

Hardwick - Box velvet 1

Hardwick - Box velvet 2jpg

Hardwick - Box velvet 3

I feel very, very priviliged to have been able to do this – thank you Ellie!

And we were able to see the Gideon tapestries that have been away for conservation that she has been helping rehang – go and visit her blog for more details of this. The pictures below show the before and after effects of the cleaning.

Hardwick - Gideon 2

Hardwick - Gideon 1

A brilliant day – I loved it!

Take care all of you and thanks for visiting.

I am off to Florence on Sunday with my Mum so there may be some pictures of medieval art and churches when I get back – you never know!

Hello again

As promised here are the pictures from Spain. This year we went to see the Easter parade of icons in Elche, a beautiful town just a short distance from my Mum’s that dates back to Roman times. The cathedral here is one of my favourites and I have posted pictures of it before here.

The parade was of two of the life-size icons, Jesus and the Virgin Mary, we joined the Virgin Mary parade at the cathedral and after about 3/4 hour of walking with this icon and the marching bands and people dressed in robes ,plus the beautiful ladies in their smart suits and Spanish headdresses and lace mantillas, we met up with the other parade of the same type but accompanying the Jesus icon.

Spain March Elche 1

Once again there was amazing goldwork, both on the flags that were carried but also on Mary’s robes. We have seen this icon before in the museum in the cathedral and her robes and crown are stunning.

Spain March Elche 4

Spain March Elche 3

The accompanying groups, all dressed in matching satin robes of different colours depending on the group, were giving sweets to the children which seems to be a feature of Spanish parades, most of them I have seen involve sweets given or thrown into the audience which makes them very popular with the kids!

The unique feature of the Easter parade is that they also throw religious pictures, these are small prints usually of the icons and were thrown from the cathedral at the start and from many of the apartments on the route. It was an amazing sight watching all these flutter down on the parade.

Spain March Elche 2

We also went to visit some cave houses near the town of Rojales again very near Mum’s – you can see the town from La Marina.

These are old houses that were once lived in but are now used for a range of artists from painting and ceramics to leather work. They were very cute and reminded me very much of the house in The Hobbit book and movie.

Spain March cave houses 1

There was also a cave bar, a wonderful little place with lots of little rooms and a beer garden with a fab view of the mountains so we stopped and had a red wine with a view.

Spain March cave houses 2

There was also this house just down the road from the cave houses that the owner has covered in shells and tiles, the place is the most amazing concoction involving bits that looks like a ship’s prow and others that look like castle battlements, all covered in tiny cockle shells and assorted tiles.

Spain March cave houses 3 shell house

This is what I love about Spain, anywhere you go there is something a little bit bizarre but very interesting, it really is my kind of country!

We also went for a couple of walks, this one was at a local nature reserve with a brilliant view of my mountains and lots of birds to look at – and we saw a snake in one of the lakes!

Spain March El Hondo

And this is from one of our beach walks – looks just like a really expensive Caribbean holiday doesn’t it?

Spain March beach umbrellas 1

As always I had a lovely time and am really looking forward to going back in August.

Hope you enjoyed the photos and thanks for visiting.

Hello there

Have had a brilliant weekend at our biggest event of the year which went ahead thankfully despite some initial uncertainty about whether the site would be ok , a great deal of mud, a very near escape for friends who were on the encampment nearest the river and the sterling efforts of all involved in organising the event. Thank you so much to everyone for what was possibly my best Tewkesbury ever.

I have always wanted to go to one of those festivals where mud is a central feature like Glastonbury and wear festival wellies so this weekend I got my chance. I bought a new pair of wellies on Thurs having only tried one on at the shop and it was not until Friday when we got there that I put both of them on to discover that I had two right feet lol! Had to just go with it as I did not have time to buy any others and managed ok.

Despite some rain most of the weekend was bright and sunny and we had an excellent time. This was my very good friend Kerry’s first time as a water carrier on the battlefield which she loved (despite the very loud cannon!) and it was great to catch up with lots of friends I had not seen since last year.

We went to the Abbey service on Sunday morning which was beautiful, it is a very wonderful place anyway but the service is ‘high church’ with incense and sung gospels, a fab choir and very moving.

Here is me outside the Abbey – I was in peasant dress all this weekend.

Tewks - me

The slideshow is of various parts of the Abbey.

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Hope where you are is not affected by floods – will be back later in the week to share some more Tewkesbury with you and to update you on Ellie’s progress at Powis Castle.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

There were some really beautiful things on our recent trip to Italy so I thought I would do a post just about all the pretty textiles.

First of all some lace and stitched household items in a little shop in the very pretty village of Bellagio.Some of this lace comes from Venice,  from the island of Burano.

Italy - lace shop 1

Italy - lace shop 2

Then we went to the town of Como which had a wonderful market and there was this stall with so many beautiful Swiss textiles, the Italian Lakes are very near the Swiss border and there was all sorts of beautiful table linen and little curtains for hanging at your chalet window.

Italy textiles 2

Italy textiles 3

I spent ages trying to decide what to buy (Jake got very bored at this point!) but ended up getting this beautiful table runner which I will use at Xmas.

Italy textiles 9

Italy textiles 8

I have a number of stitched red and white Xmas ornies with similar themes such as this one below so I thought the runner would look good on the lounge coffee table.

reindeer-from-amanda-1

We visited  a few (!) churches during the week and since it was Easter there were some icons on display including this one from a church in Mennagio with some gorgeous goldwork.

Italy textiles 5

Italy textiles 6

We also bought some lovely pasta, polenta and spices from a little deli in the same village – on the walls there were these large-scale kitchen cross stitch motifs which were beautifully framed.

Italy textiles 7

Apologies that the picture is not very good, the light and the glare made it difficult to take nice pics but there were about 10 of these collections in the shop which must have taken such a long time.

On our day trip to Milan I came across a fab shop full of cross stitch and embroidery supplies and bought 3 sets of embroidery transfers, there are lots of different designs here including about 20 alphabets and very good value at only 3 euros per pack.

Italy textiles 1

And from a little gift shop in Como not textiles but this cute display of table napkins which are another little addiction of mine, I was very good and didn’t buy any (have a few in stock already) but aren’t they so cute!

Italy textiles 4

I do hope you are having a lovely weekend. I was supposed to be at a re-enactment event this weekend but have got a poorly back again so instead I am having a very nice relaxing weekend stitching and knitting and watching DVDs. Very blissful and the weather is sunny which is so nice to see after all our torrential rain.

I am currently working on the large cross stitch of the Chinese Emperor but am going to start another Spring ornie for me in the meantime as that is a long haul project and I want a quick finish inbetween.

Thanks for visiting and do have a very good week ahead.

As might have been expected I found some lovely things in China! I thought I would put these in a post rather than with the other pics I have been working on for a separate page so that they will appear in the tags at the side.

China is of course famous for silk and while in Guangzhou (which was formerly known as Canton) I went to the old 19th century area for a visit and found this beautiful piece of embroidery on silk in an antique shop there. There were many pieces to choose from but I bought the lion as that is a very traditional Chinese symbol. I love the bright colours and the detailed stitching. There were so many lovely things in the shop (that I could not afford) like caps and gowns and stitched shoes.

Chinese lion 1

Chinese lion 2

I also came across some lovely cross stitch kits – these were being sold by a street vendor on one of the bridges near the hotel I stayed at in Guangzhou and worked out at about £1 per kit so were a real bargain. I have just started stitching the Emperor one to remind me of the dressing up with Mo that I posted about last time.

Cross stitch 1

Cross stitch 2

Cross stitch 3

The first group of people I worked with in the city of Shantou gave me a gift to say thanks at the end of the week which was very kind of them. I was thrilled when they gave me this beautiful set of local lace.There are about 12 of  these in the set they gave me. They told me that lace making was brought to the area by missionaries in the 19th century so they thought the present was appropriate as it was a blend of West and East which was so lovely. They didn’t even realise when they chose this gift what a textile addict I am so it was perfect!

Chinese lace

I was lucky enough to be taken out on a brilliant day’s tour of cultural sites when I was in Shantou. I spent most of my time in China teaching but had 3 rest days while I was there and the school I was working at took me to a historic house nearby where they had museum displays. This is part of a wedding carriage and is appliqued embroidery on silk.

Shantou - applique

Puppet theatre has a long tradition in Chinese culture and in the same museum there was a puppet theatre display with beautiful goldwork side panels.

Goldwork 2

 

Goldwork 1

I am still working on the rest of the pics to choose some for my page – I took so many so am spending a lot of time editing them and hope to post that at the weekend.

Thank you for visting and see you all soon.

Hello

I hope that you are all having a nice week. I have been taking some pictures at our recent re-enactment events and thought I would share them with you today. The last two events have been a little wet in places (lovely British weather!) but we have had a good time despite the rain.

We were at Ashby de La Zouche Castle in Leicestershire at the end of May – the castle ruins are really imposing and I took these shots on the Saturday evening when all the public had gone home, the first ones are of the tower and the latter ones what is left of the chapel, I love the ironwork on these pics. In the middle is Lord Percy’s tent with its pennants flying in the evening breeze.

Ashby Castle 2

Ashby castle 1

Ashby castle 3

Ashby castle 4

Ashby castle 5

We spent last weekend at Tatton Park in Cheshire at an event, the person who plays the king at other events was there. I have previously posted pictures of his goldwork surcoat and heraldry and was able to take some pictures of the goldwork banners outside his tent on the way to the beer tent on Saturday night – isn’t this wonderful work!

King's banner

I have previously posted pics of Lord and Lady Bardolph from our group in all their finery but this weekend they were going on to the field as archers so here they are looking very stylish in their padded jacks and helms!

Lady Bardolph Archer

Lord Bardolph - Archer

Lord Bardolph’s jack is the one he wears under his armour which excuses its rather mucky state and both jacks are fine examples of quilting as a utilitarian craft – all the combatants wear some form of quilted armour on body, legs of head when fighting, either under armour or on its own.

Lastly a pic of what keeps us warm when it is wet and windy in a field , one of my favourite bits of re-enactment,  the fire we sit round at night. I love watching the way the logs burn,  it really is magic!

Ashby fire

I will return at the weekend with crafting pics, both myself and Ellie have been busy so will catch up with you all then.

Thanks for visiting and have a nice week.

On one of my recent travels round the internet I was following a link from Constance’s lovely ‘Born in the Wrong Age’   blog (do go and visit she is an re-enactor in Australia who does fab needlework) and found this wonderful site full of members’ needlework projects  from the West Kingdom of the Society of Creative Anachronism. The society operates worldwide though they seem to be most active in the US and their members produce the most wonderful examples of historical needlework. 

To whet your appetite I hope they don’t mine but I have borrowed a few pics to show you the standard of work which is amazing. There are loads more on the site as well as lots of really good info and articles (click on the Articles link on the right hand menu on their site ) so do go and have a look. 

Goldwork collar

Part of a goldwork collar by Letitia

Whitework coif

A gorgeous whitework coif by Ella

blackwork

Blackwork by Juliana

 couched goldwork

Couched goldwork by Katherine

silverwork

Embroidery and silverwork by Letitia

All very,very talented ladies I’m sure you will agree. 

I am having a quiet week at home doing lots of marking and listening to the rain! We are off this weekend to the wonderful Berkeley Castle where we have this as our view. 

Berkeley castle

Not a bad view for a campsite!

If you are near South Glos do come and visit – this link  gives you details of the event. That is my lovely friend Keith in the pic on the top right of the web site, he only looks like that on the battlefield (or if someone pinches his mead round the campfire!) 

Even if you are not coming pray for fine weather for us please – last year this was our wettest pitch and even though we don’t mind a bit of damp as we are hardy campers it puts off the paying public and that is a real shame for us and all the people who give up all their time and effort to organise these events. As I have mentioned before most of the events rely on unpaid volunteers for the organising and the hard work of providing facilities and without paying visitors they will not happen (someone has to pay for the portaloos!) . So here’s hoping for very good weather this year! 

After that event we are off for a week camping in the Forest of Dean with my sister Jacky (did I mention that I love camping!) and then it is straight on to Ashby de La Zouche castle  in Leicestershire for another weekend of camping (I love, love, love camping!!!) where our group are doing another show. 

So the blog will be very quiet for a bit while I paddle in mud (no hopefully bask in the sun!) in a field somewhere and enjoy some lovely campfires and BBQs ( I also love BBQs!). 

Thanks very much for visiting – see you all soon!

Well here I am listening to the Yorkshire rain (again) ready to post pics of our gloriously hot weekend at the Battle of Tewkesbury event. I am starting to think I only come home to get wet (and wonder at the speed the hedge is growing while I am away – must cut that this weekend!) 

We had a fantastic weekend – one of the very best Tewkesbury events ever – very well organised (thanks to all the hard work of the crew), lovely weather – was very hot Sat morning for our trip round the market but did cool down for both battles. However our water giving services were much appreciated.Great fun both round the camp fire and in the beer tent – altogether fab! 

As promised here are some pics from the market – we have medieval markets at most events but as Tewkesbury is the biggest event it also has the biggest and best market where you can purchase anything you want for your medieval lifestyle. There are lots of clothes sellers, fabric sellers (I was very good and didn’t get tempted!), armour, weapons etc but also some amazing craftspeople selling their wares. 

You can buy buckets… 

market stall 1

.... of all shapes and sizes

Mugs and jugs a plenty.. 

Market Stall 2

Jim the potter (he's been on Time Team!)

Beautiful glasses (not got any of these yet – not very safe taking these on the train!) 

Market stall 3

Pretty pretty things

 And of course lovely food and drink – this German wine and spirit seller was new this year – I passed on the 80% proof chilli vodka but did try the bilberry wine in the long-necked bottles here – very nice! 

Market stall 4

Really gorgeous bottles of fruit wine

Normally I don’t get many pics of me on the battlefield but was looking on Facebook when I got back and was very excited to find a few of me. Here I am in the thick of the battle in my usual blue dress.Pictures taken by Helen Harris Beaumont. 

Battle 1

An interlude to take on water

I spotted this lovely pic of the King in his heraldic surcoat (look at the goldwork on that!)… 

Battle 2

The King and his retinue

And was very excited to find the next pic has me and Ellie in the background! 

Battle 3

There we are - me in blue and Ellie in front of me in turquoise

It really is so wonderfully atmospheric with all the different colours of the heraldry and flags flying – especially at the end on Sunday where we all knelt on the battlefield before the King – brings a lump to your throat! 

At the end of the battle the King fights the young Prince of Wales who is trying to take his throne… 

King and Prince Tewks

The fight - pictures taken by Michelle Jackson

…. and of course he wins – Hurrah for the House of York! 

King and Prince 2 Tewks

Take that you young upstart!

 We stayed with my sister for a couple of days after the event and helped Ellen move into her new student house. I bought her some BBQ stuff as a house-warming pressie so she has promised to send me a pic of them in their lovely garden – hoping they are having better weather than we are! 

Undaunted I have today refilled the freezer with Tesco’s finest BBQ wares so hopefully at some point this weekend – after the hedges have been cut – we will be out again enjoying the sunshine. 

Hope you are having better weather – thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone 

I have just got back from the very first re-enactment event of the season hence the post title. We were at the very beautiful Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire for our St George’s Day show. I was only able to make the event from last night due to having to teach yesterday but at least I got my first fix of  canvas and woodsmoke for the year! 

We had a very lovely time – last night it was great fun sitting round the camp fire and catching up with everyone and today was very lovely and sunny with lots of very interested people visiting us and I got to tell them all about the headdresses and embroidery. The weather was really good up until 10 mins before the end when the heavens opened and we all got soaked! However we managed to finish the show. 

I have a couple of pics from the event to share with you. In Jan this year we had an embroidery day here for the girls from the group and Kerry started a goldwork flower – well this her completed piece which is really brilliant – especially as it is her first ever goldwork. 

Kerry's goldwork

A borage flower in gold and silk thread

Also took some more costume pics – the first two are of Lady Anne (aka Leanne) who normally dresses as a peasant but was dressed as a lady for most of this weekend in this gorgeous dress. 

Lil 1

Lady Anne in brocade dress with veil and crispinettes

Lil 2

A close up showing the headdress in more detail

I had a busy week finishing all of the new costume as well as a very hectic work schedule but finally got everything done at 10.30 pm on Fri. As well as Jake’s clothes I am also making a few things for some of the guys in the group. This week I made  a coif  for Lord Bardolph (aka Paul). 

Here is the original coif that I cut round to use as  a pattern. 

Original coif

This one I bought from one of the medieval traders last year - you can never have too many coifs as they tend to wander!

I then cut a number out and ended up handsewing this one due to the temperamental machine. 

cut out coifs

A bit of a coif production line here

Bardolph 2

Lord Bardolph wearing his coif under his bicocket (felted hat)

Bardolph 1

A side view so that you can fully admire the coif and hat

Have come back with an order for some brais for some of the other men in the group so will be cutting those out soon. Our next event is next weekend in South Wales at Cosmeston Medieval Village  which I am really looking forward to as it such an amazing place. 

We are planning a trip to Barry Island (to pay homage to the wonderful sitcom Gavin and Stacy) while we are there we will go to the funfair and have fish and chips and a paddle of course! 

I will try and post again during the week as I have made good progress on the lacy purple scarf – just need to take some pics of the progress. 

Hope you have all had a nice weekend and have a great week ahead. 

Thanks for visiting.

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