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I am very much enjoying this challenge as it is making me get around to reading those things that I have always meant to read plus so many unexpected others.

I am doing it out of numerical order but have created a little list of books that I am intending to read and am highlighting them as I go – I do love a bit of organisation!

Number 10 on the challenge is ‘A book set somewhere you have always wanted to visit’ and this book fulfils that category and also another personal target of finishing a book you have been lent. I love how talking about books to people brings up such unexpected joys and this one was prompted by my finding of another book by this author in a charity shop this summer.

You may remember I went to Bridgnorth on the steam train with my friends in August and we had a wander round and went into a couple of charity shops, my favourite sort of shopping ever!

I am not keen on shopping generally, I like shopping for food, especially now there is just me to buy for and I have lots of time (shopping for food with small children is not so much fun!) However I cannot bear to waste time in malls or clothes shops, most of them seem overpriced and full of ugly clothes.

But show me a row of charity shops and my little heart leaps! There could be all sorts of joy just in one shop – a new top (39 floaty tops is not too much is it?), new books (to add to the 23 already waiting to be read) , vintage embroidery to add to the stash (well it won’t go off will it?)

And there is always the chance of a completely unexpected find, last year I got these beauties from one of the shops in the village at an amazing £25 for the pair.

candlesticks

They are my pride and joy in the living room candle collection (I have to keep a close eye on them as various friends really like them as well!)

Plus the pleasure of knowing that you are donating money to a very good cause rather than just some company’s profit, you are saving things from landfill, giving people’s hard work in stitching a new lease of life and a hundred other reasons why charity shopping is so much better than normal shopping.

Not to mention saving money – why pay £40 for one top when you could have 10  (that does explain the 39 in my wardrobe!)

I digress – on the trip to Bridgnorth I picked up ‘The Forty Rules of Love’  by Turkish author Elif Shafak, intrigued by the write up on the back and started reading it on the train home.

The Forty Rules of Love

It was one of those ‘can’t put down’ books that really makes you feel you have found something amazing and I had it my pile to pass on to my Mum as it is full of the most beautiful sayings based on the work of a Sufi mystic and poet Rumi.

I mentioned this book to one of my trainees this year and offered to lend it to him as he is interested in Rumi’s writings and then another trainee who is Turkish offered to lend me one of the author’s books, ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’.

The Bastard of Istanbul

I would love to visit Instanbul one day and so this book came to be included in my list. It is a very interesting read as it deal with the lives of a Turkish family in Instanbul and an Armenian family in the US so lots of insight into an area of history I know very little of.

It did not have much about Istanbul in it but was a very engaging story and I would like to read more by this author, her Amazon page is here if you are interested.

It was similar in some respects to book number 20 ‘A book everyone but you has read’, this one is , ‘A Thousand Splendid Sons’ by Khaled Hosseini, mentioned to me by lots of people and an international best seller.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Both books deal with the lives of women (and both are women who were born illegitimate) and this one was very, very thought provoking deal with some very harsh realities of life for the women of Afghanistan in the 1990s.

The sort of book that everyone should read because it gives another perspective to the all the things we see on the news and in dramas. Not an enjoyable read in many ways but a powerful story.

It also links into another of my life goals which is to visit every country that ends in ‘stan’. Stan means country or land  and there are currently seven,  Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Khazakstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, previously many of these were part of the Soviet Union.

These may not be on everyone’s holiday wish list as they are countries that are more often in the news for negative reasons but they hold such beauty and history and hopefully I will be able to start on this list soon. This is one of the reasons why, just look at the majesty of these mosque buildings in Registan which was the ancient city of Samarkand.

Uzbeiksitan

I am just finishing off the editing on the last of the goldwork pictures then will post those, meanwhile there is serious work to be done so had better get to that rather than dreaming of travels!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Sorry for the lack of posts, I returned from lovely sunny Spain to lots of work and late nights so have not had time to post any pictures of the sun.

It was very warm, 30 degrees which is hot even for Spain so I had a fantastic week. I went to the beach three times and swam in the sea twice and had a couple of trips to the spa where the jacuzzi did my aching bones a world of good.

We had a lovely last day out and went back to the cave houses at Rojales which have been turned into artist’s studios.

Rojales - caves

There was a little craft fair on and some very cute animals enjoying the sunshine, I managed to get this cat to stay still for a picture.

Rojales - caves 3

I particularly liked this piece of art outside one of the caves.

Rojales - caves 2

I also managed to take some pictures inside the cave bar that we visited last time, some brilliant carvings in the rock walls in the style of Picasso.

Rojales - caves 4

Rojales - caves 5

Rojales - caves 6

Last time we were there we could see this amazing house just down the hill covered in shells and this time it was open so we got to have a look round. I don’t know who owns it or did all this work as the couple who were there didn’t speak English but it was a masterpiece.

Rojales - shell house

Rojales - shell house 4

Rojales - shell house 5

Rojales - shell house 6

Even one of the rooms had been decorated, not sure if all were like this inside but this one was open for us to look round.

Rojales - shell house 2

Rojales - shell house 3

This is why I love Spain, always the unexpected with a touch of slightly bizarre! Oh and the marvellous weather and cheap wine ;-)

Have not done a lot of crafting since returning but have been working on a couple of Christmas gifts and ornaments this weekend (hexi inspired of course) which I will share with you when they are finished.

Until next time take care and thanks for visiting.

Hello there

After a very nice (if a little damp at first) show I stayed on for a couple of days and went on a steam train trip to Bridgnorth in Shropshire.

It was very exciting, I love trains anyway but this was a proper train with proper tickets and lovely little compartments (so much nicer to have privacy and not have to listen to other people on their phones!).

Bewdley Train trip

Bewdley Train 2

Bewdley Train 3

Bewdley Train 4

Bewdley Train 5

Bewdley Train 6

Bewdley Train 7

Bewdley Train Trip

Bewdley Train 11

It was a really sunny day and the view of the River Severn and all of the stations with their flowers made me very glad to live in such a gorgeous country.

Bewdley Train 8

Bewdley Train 9

Bridgnorth was very pretty with lots of little gift shops like this one in the second photo.

Bewdley Train 13

Bewdley Train 14

I particularly like the sentiments in these plaques, some sad things have happened to friends recently which makes you realise how precious time with loved ones is.

I am very lucky to have so much love and support from my family and friends and hope that I can be a support to others.

Bewdley Train 15

Bewdley Train 16

It has lots of historic buildings and a funicular railway to get from the Low Town to the High Town.

Bewdley Train 12

Bewdley Train 18

Bewdley Train 17

Bewdley Train 19

A really excellent day out – accompanied in true British fashion by a few pints of very nice cider and fish and chips for tea!

I have a quiet few days ahead which is lovely, going to be doing some sewing and have made a start on knitting Christmas stockings from the free pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits I used last year – only 133 days until Christmas apparently ;-)

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

Our last trip while in Germany was to Rothenburg ob de Tauber, a gorgeous medieval walled town on the Romantic Road. Not only was the setting perfect, surrounded by forests and rolling hills and fields, but the town itself was so pretty.

I felt severely underdressed and should really have been wearing traditional dress at least if not a Belle outfit, it really was like stepping back in time.

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg 2

Not only was it gorgeous but there were so many lovely shops, food, gifts, weapons and armour (and embroidery and Christmas shops as I mentioned in my earlier post). We spent so much time shopping we didn’t get to see all of the town so would love to go back someday for longer.

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg sausage shop
Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg 1

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg 4

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg 3

All of the shops and hotel had beautiful signs outside them as well, this was the weapons’ shop sign.

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg weapons sign

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg town hall

The wells in the town had all been decorated for Easter, these were all real eggs, hand painted and they looked beautiful.

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg eggs 2

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg eggs 1

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg eggs 3

A wonderful sunny day out and a perfect end to our trip.

Thanks for visiting.

There will always be textiles wherever I go as not only are they important and many of the places I visit have them on display as part of the social history of the location but also I do sometimes seek them out ;-)

However this holiday I had some very pleasant surprises on the textile front as I found some when I wasn’t even looking for them :-)

The first nice surprise was this beautiful sampler which had been done by Margarete the lady who ran the hotel we stayed in Germany. She was in her 70s and the hotel has been in her family for over 100 years.

Bavaria 2014 Langenau sampler

I couldn’t help thinking that she must have had a pretty hard life, she was on duty about 15 hours a day when we were there and I hope that at some points they got to close the hotel and have a holiday themselves.

I like to imagine that she stitched this in her free time and it gave her pleasure and helped her relax, it is a beautifully stitched piece and she was obviously proud of it as it was hung in the bar area.

Then we had our unexpected trip to the Steiff Teddy Bear Museum  which was an optional trip on the holiday which the kids really wanted to go to. It was really good with a little interactive piece at the start that told you the history of the company followed by a room with lots of toys that you could touch (and sit on) then displays of the toys throughout the ages.

Bavaria 2014 Steiff sewing room

The company was started by Margarete Steiff who was a keen seamstress, she had polio as a child and never married but sewed children’s clothes then made her first toy, an elephant (by accident it was meant to be a pincushion but it got played with!).

She then went on to make teddies and all manner of other creatures. The above photo shows a reproduction of the sewing room that starts the interactive part.

One of the most interesting parts for me as I have been making toys recently (both knitted and have started a couple of fabric ones) was the workroom at the end where as well as staff working demonstrating the toys being made they had lots of patterns hung up and old photos showing the factory workers. There is a concise history of the Steiff business at this link if you are interested.

Bavaria 2014 Steiff patterns 1

Bavaria 2014 Steiff patterns 2

Bavaria 2014 Steiff machinists

Bavaria 2014 Steiff toymakers

Then when we went to Rothenburg we came across this shop selling hand embroidered textiles.

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg embroidery shop

They employ over 500 home workers to do the embroidery so I had to go and support the local economy and all those lovely ladies didn’t I? The kids were very patient while I chose from hundreds of gorgeous things.

I bought these beautiful lavender filled whitework pillows for display in my kitchen and an embroidered runner for the Xmas table. As I reminded Jake I do only have 4 (he seemed to think that was too many last year – no idea why?). This one will go very nicely with my holly decorated dinner set).

Bavarian needlework -whitework 1

Bavarian needlework -whitework

Bavarian needlework -xmas cloth

Rothenburg is also famous for its Christmas shops (which I honestly didn’t know when I booked the trip kids) and so spent ages in the Christmas Village in the Kathe Wolfahrt shop which was amazing! No photos allowed inside but this is from their website and it actually looks like this.

Christmas shop Rothenburg

I bought 2 beautiful lace ornaments for the tree and a little heart that hangs in my kitchen.

Bavarian needlework -xmas ornies

Bavarian needlework - heart

A wonderful array of textile goodness to add to a lovely holiday – very happy.

More pictures to come of the town of Rothenburg, it is still raining here in Yorkshire so no alternative but to spend the day in crafting – how sad ;-)

Thanks for visiting.

Hello again

As you know we are big fans of castles, we have been lucky enough to camp in the grounds of lots of them and have visited many different types from derelict piles of stones to beautiful Victorian rebuilds (Castle Coch and Cardiff Castle).

But I think this is my favourite so far. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited (and I have been very lucky to go to some amazing places).

Not only the castle itself but the location is stunning. These are the views from Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, built by King Ludwig in the 1880s.

Bavaria 2014 Neuschwanstein 7

The yellow castle you can see is his father’s castle and these are pictures of the one he built.

Bavaria 2014 Neuschwanstein 6

Bavaria 2014 Neuschwanstein 5

Bavaria 2014 Neuschwanstein 4

 

Bavaria 2014 Neuschwanstein 3

Bavaria 2014 Neuschwanstein 2

Sadly he only got to live in the castle for a short while before he died. The inside is amazing as well – wonderful wall paintings of Wagner’s operas and goldwork that you wouldn’t believe on all the furnishings.

No photos allowed of the inside as expected but thanks to the miracle of Google images I did find these to show you of the bedroom, great hall and king’s chamber.

Castle interiors

Neuschwanstein_Castle_Singers_Hall-600x450

Neuschwanstein-Castle-interior-600x413

And there are some amazing shots taken by helicopter, look at this one of the castle in Winter – fairytale or what? I now have a mousemat with one of these photos to remind me of the beauty whilst at work.

neuschwanstein_castle_germany_winter-600x450

Will show you some more of the trip later – meanwhile am still enjoying living in my beautiful Marsden as well until I can afford a castle like that, look at this for a gorgeous sunset, picture from the local group Facebook page.

Marsden Sunset pic from FB

Thanks for visiting.

Hello there

A rainy Saturday in Yorkshire (again) just right for a bit of a catch up on photo editing and blogging.

We had a really lovely weekend in Sherwood for our first event, the sun shone, I got a bit brown and lots of people came to see us. More about that in a later post as I have some beautiful places to show you. There were also some fab doors – look at these from Nuremberg ! And lovely old churches – the bottom picture is of one in the town where we stayed – Langenau.

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg church door 2

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg door

Bavaria 2014 Langenau Church

The holiday we went on was called Beautiful Bavaria and they weren’t wrong. It was my first ever trip to Germany and I will definitely go back. What a gorgeous country full of all the things that I love best, mountains, castles and old medieval towns.

It was stunning and I felt like I had landed in a Disney film set a lot of the time, all the inspiration for his Fantasy Lands at the Disney parks obviously came from this gorgeous architecture.

This was our first trip solely by coach, we went with this company, Shearings, to Italy two years ago but flew that time. It was a great experience being able to see lots of Europe, we caught the ferry from Dover and went through France, Belgium and all the way down to Bavaria, stopping in Belgium overnight each way.

Lots of time to stare out of the window (how I love not driving!) and lots of time for knitting – perfect! We had a great driver/guide who had researched lots about Germany history and so we learnt so much while we were there. The sort of holiday we all really enjoy.

Our first day trip was to Nuremberg which was very lovely, they have done a great job of rebuilding what was damaged during the war and the castle, churches and beautiful old buildings look perfect now. Below is the church in the city square with its famous clock.

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg church clock

The pictures below show the inside of one of the other churches where there was the most gorgeous little door (think it would have held an icon originally) as well as this casket in gold and silver.

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg church door

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg church casket

And the usual wonderful religious art (not as much as in Florence but that is the Reformation for you!)

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg church painting

There was the most beautiful fountain in the city square as well and we made  a wish by twisting a gold ring in the ironwork. We also ate sausage and sauerkraut, I had a German beer (the kids liked the sausages but not the other things!)

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg 1

 

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg 2

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg fountain

We visited the castle which had a great museum, this crown (which I think belonged to Charlemagne) was very impressive and the boys from my medieval group would love to get their hands on these weapons.

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg crown

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg castle weapons

This is the chapel in the castle which was very simple but lovely. It was a brilliant trip and I have more pictures for you later. Meanwhile hope you are having a lovely weekend and thanks for visiting.

Bavaria 2014 Nuremburg castle

Hello everyone

Just a quick post about our trip to Bavaria and look what Jake found! Here he is with his bear (admittedly a stuffed one) in the Steiff Teddy Bear Museum which was an unexpected bonus to a fab trip away.

Bavaria 2014 Jake with bear

The holiday was ace – you know when you see pictures of a place and think that it can’t be that nice, well it was. Bavaria is beautiful, full of castles, mountains, cute little villages and medieval towns and we had a whistle-stop tour of some of the loveliness.

It was like being in a real life Disney Fantasy Land – with free wine as we had another all-inclusive hotel deal ha ha. And I got to knit all the way through Europe as we had hours on the coach so I was very happy :-)

The pictures below show the amazing Neuschwanstein Castle and the town of Rotenberg ob de Tauber.

Bavaria 2014 Neuschwanstein 1

 

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg

Would love to go back and explore more sometime. Have so many beautiful things to share with you but this is just an interim post as have no time this week, off for our first event in Sherwood Forest this weekend so in between  work, getting ready for that and the finishing of another bunny for a special baby am very short of time.

Have a lovely weekend ahead and thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone, apologies in advance as this is a very picture heavy post but I have some fab 17th century embroidery to show you!

We visited mainly smaller Tudor properties this week, not by design just those that were local to us (and open on the right days!). We still have many more on our wish list to do :-)

The first was one I have had on my list for a while Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire, a very lovely Tudor house which as you can see from the pictures has suffered through the years and has needed extensive structural work to keep it from falling down!

Little Moreton Hall

Moreton 2

Moreton 3

Moreton 4

Moreton 5

The second was East Riddlesden Hall in Keighley, not only a beautiful little house but also home to some gorgeous embroidery.

East Riddlesden Hall

ERH 2

Look at all these beautiful pictures.

ERH 6

East Riddlesden Hall

ERH 8

ERH 9

Sadly their sampler display was not available due to a ceiling collapse in that room so I will return to see that sometime.

There was also some lovely embroidery that had been done for the displays by local women, this blackwork beadspread and crewel work hangings date from the 1920s.

ERH 11

ERH 10
And some fantastic plaster ceilings.

ERH 3

ERH 4

ERH 5

The last one we visited was Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley, this is a mini Hardwick Hall in design and is home to the Rachel Kay Shuttleworth needlework collection. A small part of her 28,000 pieces were on display.Rachel lived in the house in the 1950s and was a passionate needlewoman.

There were no photos allowed in the house but there is an excellent blog with online gallery and details of the textile courses they run.

Gawthorpe Hall

Gawthorpe 2

A very textilicious holiday with lots of inspiration for me!

Now back to the real world of work with just a few bits of stitching a week to keep me sane :-)

Thanks as always for visiting, I will be off to Ashby de La Zouche Castle next weekend for a show with Swords of Mercia so if you are in the area come along and say hello!

Hello again

I spend a lot of time travelling to all sorts of beautiful parts of the globe so it was lovely to have week in my gorgeous country appreciating (along with many tourists from all over the world) what England has to offer.

Our first day was spent in the Cotswolds where I grew up and the visit to Bourton-on-the-Water brought back many happy memories of paddling in this stream, seeing the pretty cottages and visiting the model village (which Kerry loved just as much as I did when I first saw it).

Bourton

Bourton 2

Bourton 3

We then went to Snowshill Manor, a National Trust property in the Cotswolds, quintessentially an English manor house with beautiful gardens but home to a very eclectic collection by the last owner Charles Paget Wade.

Snowshill

Snowshill 3

Snowshill 4

Snowshill 5

There was everything from samurai warrior suits to old bikes, including many beautiful Oriental chests from his travels. One room had a lovely collection of textiles including what looks like a piece from a Layton jacket!

Snowshill textiles

Snowshill textiles 2

Snowshill textiles 3

I particularly liked this sampler book showing miniature garments, no information on its maker but I think it would be a for a similar purpose to the one that inspired the Blackbird Designs book, ‘A Stitcher’s Journey’, which I posted about previously, to show prospective employers your needlework skills.

Snowshill textiles 4

Snowshill textiles 5

Snowshill textiles 6

A lovely day out – and all in the best of English summer sunshine!

Thanks for visiting, more historic loveliness soon!

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